Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Open Thread

Charter school supporters, both within and out of Washington State, are pouring large sums of money into the races for Supreme Court justices via a Stand for Children PAC.  It's the usual suspects of Connie Ballmer (Steve's wife) and Reed Hastings (owner of Netflix and a huge charter supporter in California.)  This from the News Tribune:
In the past 10 days, Stand for Children’s political action committee has spent about $86,000 on digital ad buys and another $30,000 on phone calls supporting Zempel, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission, which tracks campaign spending. 

The education reform group recently endorsed Zempel over Madsen in part because of its concerns over last year’s charter school decision, spokeswoman Deborah Jaquith said.

Yet the pro-charter group’s ads, which appear online, don’t mention the charter school case. 
Of course they don't; again, there's your courage of convictions especially in election reasoning.   I do want to note that Cyrus Habib, who is running for lieutenant governor, does credit "public schools" for his education in his tv ads.

Seattle Schools is teaming up with Pacific Northwest Ballet (this is announced as though it is new but apparently has been going on a long time.)  The program is just at one grade level.
The Discovery Dance program provides standards-based dance education using adapted curriculum so all students, including students with special needs, can enjoy equitable access to all the fun of dance class.

Discovery Dance is free to participating schools. Each participating school is highly involved in planning and implementation of the program. Teachers are key in planning lessons that relate to classroom curriculum, principals and staff are instrumental in providing communication home to families and coordinating space and in-school opportunities for students.
One, sounds great but two, I thought our principals pretty much had their hands full with both curriculum mandates and space.

Schools/teachers/parents can apply on their own.  PNB lists these schools: Arbor Heights (partner since 2008), Broadview Thomson K-8 (partner since 2008),  Daniel Bagley (partner since 1999), Graham Hill (partner since 1999), Highland Park (partner since 2008), Leschi (partner since 2010), Pinehurst K-8 (partner since 2009), South Shore K-8 (partner since 2010), Thurgood Marshall (partner since 2013).

No director community meetings on Saturday but there is a free Princess Bride Quote-Along at Seattle Center's Movies at the Mural.  Starts at 9 pm.

Read more here:

What's on your mind?

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Times on Nyland; Still an Engima

The Times has a somewhat curious article on the Superintendent. 

For one thing, they make it sound like he's been here just a year but, at the end of August, 2016,  he will have been in SPS for two years.  (They say it's the end of his first full school year which is true but most people will not read that distinction.)

They make this claim:
At the end of Nyland’s first full school year as permanent superintendent of the state’s largest school district, opinions on his performance split into three groups.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Who has the Authority to Make What Decisions?

Seattle Public Schools, as an institution, has a lot of issues around the scope of authority. There's a world of confusion about what a teacher can decide independently and what are the limits of that authority. What can a principal decide and what is the scope of a principal's authority? What falls inside and outside the limits of a BLT's authority? What decisions does an Executive Director of Schools have the authority to make? What about District Staff? Do they have any authority? Surely there are some decisions that are up to the Superintendent and some that are up to the Board, but what are they?

The simple answer is that Board Policy and the Superintendent Procedures provide all of the answers to these questions. There is a clear answer in these governing documents that defines the scope of authority for each person. Granted, a lot of the policies and procedures are so poorly written that they are neither actionable nor enforceable.

The real answer, however, is much more fluid. The real answer is: "Whatever you can get away with."

This is the hallmark of a dysfunctional organization. This is a facet of the culture of lawlessness.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Interview with Wyeth Jessee

I met with Wyeth Jessee last week (it was arranged thru Communications so there was a Communications person in the room who was not part of the conversation.)  He was the former head of Special Education and now, thru a realignment,  has a new role.
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) appointed Wyeth Jessee to Chief of Student Supports. Effective July 1, Jessee will provide leadership to the new Student Supports division with a focus on the implementation of the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) model.
Under this restructure, a new division of Student Supports has been created and includes: behavioral supports, counseling, nursing, Special Education, English Language Learners (ELL) and the Advanced Learning services and will work in close partnership with the Curriculum and Instruction division.
He will report to Michael Tolley.

Family Engagement in Seattle Schools

Something I hope Seattle Schools keeps in mind.

Tuesday Open Thread

No meetings this week for SPS nor any director community meetings.

However, the All-City Band Jam is happening in West Seattle.  From the West Seattle blog:
Please join us on Friday, July 29th at the Southwest Athletic Complex (2801 SW Thistle) for Band Jam. This has become an annual event showcasing several bands that perform in the Seafair Torchlight Parade. Band Jam gives people the opportunity to see the bands perform in a concert setting on the football field.
This is a non-competitive event sponsored by the Seattle Schools All-City Band.
Doors will open at 5:30 pm, with music starting at 6:30 pm. Admission is free. Come hungry! Concession stands will be open on site with the proceeds benefiting Seattle Schools All-City Band. We hope to see you there.
From Social Equality Educators:
Rally in solidarity with teachers and education activist in Oaxaca, Mexico who have been killed, jailed, repressed for opposing corporate education reform!

When: Wednesday, July 27th, 4:00—6:00pm

Where: Rally at the Mexican Consulate in Seattle: 2132 3rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

Facebook page with details:
While some newspaper support Superintendent Randy Dorn's lawsuit, the Everett Herald does not.
The Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 7, asking lawmakers to defend their plan to develop a plan to satisfy the McCleary decision. Dorn should withdraw his lawsuit and take the advice of his attorney general and allow that process to proceed.
Did you see First Lady Michelle Obama's speech last night? Because it was aimed at how we support the children of our country.  It was fantastic and uplifting.
"And as my daughters prepare to set out into the world, I want a leader who is worthy of that truth, a leader who is worthy of my girls' promise and all our kids' promise, a leader who will be guided every day by the love and hope and impossibly big dreams that we all have for our children."
Does taking AP courses in high school prepare you for college-level work? Maybe not.  From The Atlantic:
The pair looked at thousands of high-school and college transcripts using the National Educational Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative survey of about 25,000 students that began in 1988.

They found that, when they controlled for things like race, gender, socioeconomic background, and standardized-test scores, the courses that students took in high school had very little impact on college grades.

The authors argue that while their research might sound dire, in reality, it might present an opportunity to bring more creativity and innovation to high-school instruction. Maybe a focus on non-cognitive skills, teamwork, or technical education would better prepare kids for college than a focus on mastering content they’ll soon forget, they posit. That shouldn’t mean eliminating all content, they clarify, but it should ease concerns that scaling back on drilling content to test new pedagogies will hurt kids.
 What's on your mind?

Monday, July 25, 2016

WikiLeaks DNC E-Mails: Avoid Common Core talk

Yeah, it's true.

Actually the phrasing was :

A) Common Core is a political third rail that we should not be touching at all. Get rid of it.

Given that more states are pulling back by themselves, I think the Dems may not have to do much.  And, with King Trump, it would be gone "on day one." 

This and That

The Issaquah School Board voted to use eminent domain to acquire property for school use.  From The Issaquah Press:
The Issaquah School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to use eminent domain to acquire the 40-acre Providence Heights College property as a site for a new high school and a new elementary school.

A majority of the speakers pleaded with the board to repurpose the existing buildings. The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation included the campus on its 2016 list of the state’s seven most-endangered historic properties.

State law permits school districts to use eminent domain to acquire private property as sites for schools. If a district and a landowner cannot agree on compensation, the matter goes to superior court. Stiffarm said the process, if it requires a trial, can take at least a year. 
Interesting article from the Bellingham Herald about how many Democratic legislators are now running for open statewide seats (like state superintendent, lieutenant governor, etc.) 

Solving the School to Prison Pipeline Puzzle

A guest post from the Seattle City Attorney's E-newslettter by Darby DuComb.  Darcy is Deputy City Attorney for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and former Board Member of Page Ahead -, a children’s literacy organization in Washington State.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Yes, the Mayor DOES Want to Control Seattle Schools

I KNEW it.

Dora Taylor (who is the main writer/moderator for Seattle Education blog) and I both write public education blogs. We write about different things (and that's a good thing for people in this region/state who care about public education.)  We sometimes disagree.

But one thing we have agreed on is that Mayor Murray has plans to get the City a heck of a lot more involved with the direction of public education in this city.  And, he's not going to do so much via official lines of contact but thru many other methods.

To wit, Dora's latest thread, Leaked email shows how Seattle Mayor Ed Murray plans to take over the school board
In a letter sent to Mayor Murray from Regina Jones, who is now working for the Mayor’s office as an “executive on loan”, spells out how to take over the school board by “cultivating candidates to serve on the board” based on the success of two mayors in San Francisco and with the work of Hydra Mendoza because “As in Seattle, SFUSD was concerned about a takeover of the district by the mayor”.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Advanced Learning Wants Your Input

I still have to do my write-up about my talk with Wyeth Jessee about his new role as head of Student Supports, overseeing AL, Special Education, ELL, counseling, nurses, etc. 

One thing I will say now is that I asked him about changes in AL and he said he had just gotten the job (absolutely true) but it wouldn't happen without stakeholder input.  I reminded him that Spectrum disappeared like sugar dissolving in iced tea but he smiled and shrugged. 

But now a reader has alerted us that the AL department wants our input.  
Comments on the proposed DRAFT can be sent to with the subject line 2190SP.

The proposed DRAFT will be reviewed by the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee at their meeting on Monday, August 15, 2017. Please send your comments in before July 31 to assure it will be reviewed prior to the meeting.
There are a number of documents to read. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Washington State History about Public Education

From Robert Cruickshank of Democracy for America this story from HistoryLink:
History matters. This article tells the story of the so-called "Barefoot Schoolboy Act," passed in 1895. It was the first time the state of Washington attempted to fully fund our public schools, and it was thanks to the work of Populist progressive and future governor John Rogers. The article shows how the "paramount duty" language was created in the first place, and why it is so important that our state live up to that promise and fully fund our schools.

This was one of the core promises made when Washington became a state. It is time the legislature followed in John Rogers' bold footsteps and once again ensured all public schools in this state, and every child in this state, gets a fully funded and equitable education.
 From the article (some content will sound very of the minute to our current situation):