Monday, January 22, 2018

Work Session on SMART Goals Check-in

The Board is having a Work Session tomorrow to go over all the SMART goals.  From the presentation (partial):

Seattle Special Education PTSA

Please join Seattle Public Schools Vision Services Program for a discussion panel of adults with visual impairment and parents that have raised individuals with visual impairments. Hear their experiences growing up VI, navigating the school system, ask questions and have an opportunity to engage in personal discussions.

Jack Straw will be doing activities with students in the cafeteria, while parents attend the discussion panel in our library. Light refreshments will be served & free parking provided in the school lot. Families of students with visual impairment from across the Puget Sound area are all welcome! We hope you can join us!

Thursday January 25, 6:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m.
Lowell Elementary School

1058 E. Mercer St

R.S.V.P. and direct any questions to Michelle Farrell (above) so we can have a head count of students and parents attending

More on the High School Science Alignment

See Updates at bottom.

From a concerned parent: 
At the community meeting with Director Burke (with a special appearance by Director Mack) the issue of a complete curriculum change for all the high school science offerings got brought up for discussion.  (Editor's note: this was on Sunday.)

This topic appears to have snuck under the radar of the board (other than Director Burke, as the chair of curriculum). The curriculum "alignment"team has been able to move forward with these changes without gaining the attention of the broader board members by re-terming the changes "alignment", so as to not trigger a broader board review.

These proposed changes for the incoming freshman class of '18-19 would dictate a mandatory science curriculum pathway for all high school students. In creating this pathway, the curriculum team will dissolve the majority of SPS student's access to AP chemistry, AP biology, and the wildly popular and successful biotech academy at Ballard High School.

I am working with other parents on organizing a community meeting at Ballard High School on Thursday, January 25th at 7 pm. (Final time TBD based on room availability). 
As things currently stand, there has been minimal piloting of proposed district-wide curriculum changes, no educator training, and minimal reassurance that the changes would meet college pre-requisite standards. Although the district  website reports that revised courses were created as of fall 2017, no details have been provided to the high school teachers tasked with teaching these classes.
Buried in the SPS website are 4 " family science engagement nights". Our goal is to have a parent action plan in place prior to these meetings.
The district's Science Alignment page:

The science department, including school staff, will host four regional community meetings for families to come learn more about the new requirements, the new sequence of courses, and options for students.

January 25, 7-8:30 p.m. Chief Sealth High School, Library
January 30, 6:30-8 p.m. Cleveland High School, Room 1201
February 1, 7-8:30 p.m. Ingraham High School, Library
February 8, 6:30-8 p.m. Garfield High School, Commons

From a science teacher:

(Me): What would be the better way forward for changes to the science curriculum?
  • Don’t destroy a course content and sequence, morph it.
  • Keep the existing sequence of physical science, biology, chemistry and physics…but add to those existing courses missing key NGSS points.
  • Need some physics concepts loaded into sophomore general chemistry…DONE!  Need more advanced physics or earth science loaded into physical science…DONE!   Need chemistry concepts loaded into biology…DONE!
  • If this sounds crazy…why is that what the Bellevue district is doing?  Why is that what the entire state of California is doing?.  If you compare a Bellevue college application (full year of algebra-based chemistry) as a sophomore or junior to one from SPS with 9th grade chemistry…who do you think is going to Dartmouth?  UC Davis?
 One good question that some high school science teachers have: What to tell parents on rapidly upcoming school tours.

High School Science Curriculum "Alignment"

From the School District web site:

Apparently a whole lot of work has been done to completely re-vamp the high school science curriculum. And now that all of the work has been done and all of the decisions have been made, the District is ready to engage the public.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

On the Meeting at Fort Lawton and Use of the Land for a Future School

Big thanks to Valerie Cooper Lisa Reibin Evans for all their hard work on this issue and for their careful notes on this meeting on January 9, 2018.  I do want to call out one key point:
Valerie and I were both surprised by the what was considered “infrastructure” by many in the audience and that perceptions of infrastructure were limited to amenities such as markets, shops, etc. but not inclusive or considering schools, adequate access to first responders, or impact on Metro services, etc. 

 It was also unsettling to hear how unaware the audience was as to the capacity issues the district faces and the resources that are critical and should be accessible to families in need at school sites (ie. Counsellors, Social Workers, School Nurses) to best ensure every chance for educational opportunity, student support and success and that these are not fully funded and thereby not readily available.
We heard so many in this audience say "it doesn't cost much to build a school" or "it's easy to add buses" or "these neighbours can afford to pay more in taxes to get these things into Magnolia". 
Start of narrative:

Seattle School Board Meeting, January 17, 2018

Once again, there was a marathon Board meeting; I stopped at 6 hours. 

This really needs to be stopped and there need to be some measures to curtail them.  The Board members openly admit to being exhausted (for me, this generally kicks in around hour four and I was watching from home), staff has been at JSCEE for 12+ hours and, of course, most of the public cannot participate that long.

When you can be an hour into a meeting and no real work has been done, you are off the rails.  All minutes become hours.

My suggestions are:

Community Meeting with Director Burke

I forgot to include the Saturday meetings but Director Burke is having a meeting today, Sunday, the 21st, from 2-4 pm at the Fremont Public Library.

Stand Up for Public Education

From my friends at the Network for Public Education:

January 21-27 is School Choice Week, a multi-million dollar campaign funded by right-wing groups like the Koch Brothers, The American Federation for Children, ALEC and the Walton Foundation. The endgame is to replace public education with privatized systems of schooling. Read what the Center for Media and Democracy had to say here about School Choice Week.

We need YOU to help us tell the public the truth about so-called School Choice. And so we created a powerful campaign for you to use and share here.

Right Now
1. Send a letter to your Governor telling him or her that you support public education, not privatized education with vouchers, voucher-like tax credit schemes, charters and online schools. In just a few seconds you can send that letter by clicking here.
2. Go here to put a PRO-PUBLIC SCHOOL frame on your Facebook profile picture for the week.  Just move your cursor down on the image and click "use frame."

3. Watch and share this wonderful video of Arizona School Board President, Linda Lyon, unmasking what school choice has done in her state. Please share it on Facebook and go to the NPE twitter account (NetworkforPublicEd) and tweet it out. It is pinned to the top.

4. Join the Thunderclap sponsored by the #WeChoose campaign for public schools. Click here.

5.Go here to find a toolbox of resources to share all week. We will continue to post new material to share. Every day this week we ask you to go to the site and take action. Each action is designed to tell the truth about School Choice Week and its supporters.
On Friday you will receive another email from us asking you to send a letter to your legislators asking them to stop a backdoor voucher triggered by the recent tax reforms. More on that to come.
Here is the real choice we face.

Either we support public schools governed by our elected neighbors or we let state governments dole out tax dollars to parents to shop for schools.
We can't have both. 

Editor's Note: Arizona has the worst/most lenient charter law in the country.  Here's how it's playing out via the Washington Post.
Arizona has no cap on charter schools and allows charter owners to opt out of procurement requirements and accounting guidelines required of other state agencies. Statutes even mandate that the state auditor general cannot monitor charter schools — but the lack of transparency goes much further than that. Charter schools have been allowed for years to systematically submit false and incomplete spending data to the state, making it impossible to detect waste and fraud.
There are no mechanisms in place for detecting charter waste and fraud in Arizona. Google “Arizona charter school fraud” and you will not find a single instance where a charter owner has been held accountable for the misappropriation of public funds in the 21 years that charter schools have been operating in Arizona.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I wanted to note the passing of a long-time educator and public education champion, Mona Humphries Bailey.  I served with Mona when she co-chaired the Board's Closure and Consolidation Committee to decided on school closures.  She was a dignified and gracious co-chair.  From the notice when Governor Inslee appointed her to the Board of Education:
In her thirty-two year career in public education, Bailey has worked to promote equity and excellence for all students, especially for underachieving students. She has served as a science teacher, counselor, principal, personnel administrator, assistant and deputy superintendent in Seattle Public Schools, and Assistant State Superintendent for the Washington state Office of Public Instruction. She continues to serve in education as an educational consultant, as a volunteer with advocacy groups to reform education for K-12 students, and on several nonprofit boards of directors.
I also want to call attention to the members of our Seattle School Board as it is Board Member Appreciation month.  Thank you to Leslie Harris, Scott Pinkham, Rick Burke, Jill Geary, Betty Patu, Eden Mack and Zachary DeWolf for stepping up to do this hard work.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Suicides and Young People in Washington State

On the heels of the suicide of WSU's quarterback, Tyler Hilinski, comes news of a suicide of a freshman girl in Richland, Washington.

Forefront is an organization that works to prevent suicides; their website has a plethora of info.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Text Crisis Text Line at 741741

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

Given some of our discussions here, I'm linking to an event at MOHAI - Segregated Seattle: From Redlining to Gentrification.  The panel includes an SPS teacher, Sean Riley, who teaches at West Seattle High School Blaine K-8 and who wrote in The Stranger about his experience when SPS was busing for integration.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Seattle Schools, Week of January 15-20, 2018

Monday, January 15th
Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
Admission to all state parks is free in honor of the day.  Note: The free days do not apply to Sno-Parks.