Monday, August 29, 2016

Thank You to Two People Who Cared

I want to note the passing of two people in our city who were activists.  I applaud anyone who takes on advocacy work, whether it be for community needs, schools or government.

One person is Bob Santos.  From the International Examiner:
Community leader "Uncle" Bob Santos passed away on the morning of Saturday, August 27. Born and raised in Seattle’s International District, Uncle Bob spent most of his life fighting for civil rights and blazing a trail for generations of activists as a mentor, community leader, and organizer. During his time as executive director of Inter*Im from 1972 to 1989, a number of key nonprofit organizations in the Asian Pacific Islander community were born.
Mr. Santos is the husband of public education champion, Rep. Sharon Tomiko-Santos.  Given the outpouring of love and thanks and acknowledgement of his work, I think this a great loss to all.

The other person is Cheryl Bleakney who served on the Seattle School Board and was Board president from 1971-1981.  She was president of the board at the time that school busing was approved.  She also served with one of the longest serving board directors, Ellen Roe (another force to be reckoned with.)  The entire board received the "Citizen of the Year" award in 1978 from the Muni League.  Mrs. Bleakney died eight days short of her 85th birthday.

(I happened to find this SPS document of everyone who has ever served on the Board.  I also discovered this dissertation from December 2009 by Jennifer Marie Hehnke who was in grad school at the University of Oregon.  It's called The Politics of Racial Integration in the Seattle Public Schools: Discourse, Policy, and Political Change, 1954-1991.  I haven't read it yet but I'm going to.)

Seattle Schools This Week

Mainly just the calm before the storm of school starting up but there are several happy events; namely, the ribbon-cuttings and tours of new schools.  (I am going to try to go to all of them).

Thursday, September 1
- Thornton Creek K-5 - 11am-noon
- Hazel Wolf K-8 @ Pinehurst School - 1-2 pm

Friday, September 2nd
- Seattle World School @ T.T. Minor School -11am-noon

Saturday, September 3rd 
Community Meeting with Director Peters
Magnolia Library, 2801 34th Ave. W
11 am-12:30 pm  

Tuesday, September 6th
- Arbor Heights - 11 am - noon
- Genesee Hill - 1-2 pm

Update: story from SPS Communications on the new Arbor Heights school.

Minneapolis Principal Speaks Out about Daytime Shooting

From Minneapolis: statement from Lacey Lander Elementary principal Mauri Melander (bold and color mine):

Mauri Melander
Today there was another shooting on Penn Avenue. This one was during our Open House. I'm going to repeat that. 

There was a shooting during our Open House. 

Meaning, while children were being shown their new assigned seats, people were trying to kill each other with guns and ammunition. In broad daylight. Across the street from an elementary school. 

Let's Get McCleary Done

Washington's Paramount Duty is organizing a trip down to Olympia on Tuesday, September 6th to address the Education Funding Task Force that is working on McCleary funding issues.

Yes, I know that's the first day of school but if you can't come, please DO weigh in anyway.

E-mail Tali Rausch, who is the head of WPD, with your funding thoughts. She will be compiling these e-mails to present to the committee. A huge stack of statements from parents and communities really would send a message to these legislators. Her e-mail is:

Here's what input the Task Force is seeking:

1) What is your vision for education in Washington?

2) What do you see is the impact of chronically underfunding schools?

3) How would you like to see education funded in our state?

Need help with what to say? WPD has a toolbox to help you out.

If you want to submit your testimony to your legislator as well, here's a link to legislators' e-mail addresses.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Learn about Folks (FOCs)

I recently interviewed the head of a great group, FOCs, (Families of Color), which is kind of a PEPS for those families.  Amy Pak is the Founder and Executive Director of FOCs.

This is their mission statement:
Families of Color Seattle (FOCS) is dedicated to exploring racism, and engaging in anti-racist work in ways that are accessible to all people and ages. Families of Color Seattle is a safe space for families of color. Anti-racist work is often approached academically – FOCS incorporates art, play, music, food, and community building in their programming, parent groups and community dialogue series to engage parents, educators, and the broader community in anti-racist work.
They offer parenting groups, arts classes and a bilingual pre-school.  

I interviewed Ms. Pak earlier this summer about her work and FOCs.

Budget Meeting Update

 Last week the district had a "community" budget meeting (I was not invited and had only seen it as a one-line note on the district calendar.)  They invited 400 people and 8 came.  Maybe next time they might just invite anyone from any school community.

Luckily the good people from Soup for Teachers sent a rep and here is Jason Rankin's write-up (thank you to him.)  He asks some good questions for the next meeting and hopefully, this thread will generate some more.  (I have to smile as Jason reports that the next meeting is on September 26th from 4-5 pm but it's not even on the district calendar right now.)

I'll just note that on page 17, it states that the district had carryover funds of $31M. I'm sure those are restricted in some way but that seems like a lot of unspent money when there is need in all directions.  As well Sped spending has gone up 10% in three years. Page 31 has all the groups paid thru collective bargaining but I see no slide for the amount spend for administrative jobs.

Also, page 44 has the chart for spending for personnel for middle school.  Does anyone know what the difference is between an assistant principal and a house administrator?

Jason's Notes

Saturday, August 27, 2016

EpiPen - A Story of a Near-Disaster for Many People

You've been following the Epi-pen story, right?  How the price has gone up and up (just as the CEO's salary went up and up?)

Here's a local side to it from KUOW:
One solution to the soaring price of EpiPens: Build a replacement that costs a fraction as much.
Jim Duren of King County Emergency Medical Services told KUOW’s Kim Malcolm that his agency did just that in 2013, building its own injection kit.

Needle Starting to Move on Opportunity Gap

 A truly compelling article from two researchers on what is happening with closing the opportunity gap. (bold mine)
The enormous gap in academic performance between high- and low-income children has begun to narrow. Children entering kindergarten today are more equally prepared than they were in the late 1990s.
From 1998 to 2010, the school readiness gap narrowed by 10 percent in math and 16 percent in reading. The gaps that remain are still vast. But even this modest improvement represents a sharp reversal of the trend over the preceding decades.
It’s worth noting that the gap in school readiness narrowed because of relatively rapid improvements in the skills of low-income children, not because the skills of children from high-income families declined. 

Seattle Schools Selects New Chief of Curriculum and Instruction

From SPS Communications:

Kyle Kinoshita, Ed.D has been selected Chief of Curriculum and Instruction for Seattle Public Schools (SPS). Kinoshita comes to the position after serving as the Executive Director of Learning and Teaching for the Marysville School District for the past nine years.

The SPS Chief of Curriculum and Instruction position is critical to students’ success. The position provides the district expertise and innovative leadership for all phases of department services, including professional development, standards, and assessments, as well as development of a curriculum and instructional delivery service model for schools to ensure direct and system-wide services to students.

Kyle was selected from a field of 21 applicants through a rigorous interview process that included principals, union partners and central office leaders.

One of the most important reasons Kyle applied for the position is that he is a product of Seattle School District’s central and southeast schools including Bailey Gatzert, Muir, Van Asselt and Rainier Beach elementary schools. 
Kyle’s own experience has fueled a lifelong commitment to the achievement of equity and elimination of opportunity gaps. Working to help Seattle school leaders serve the historically underserved is a powerful personal motivator to join the district and accomplish the successful construction of a strong system of learning improvement.

Kyle hopes to develop a deep collaboration around student achievement, the elimination of achievement gaps, and a common language around powerful instruction and rigorous curriculum in all K-12 schools. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Final Last Days Before School Starts

Are you glad summer is ending and school will start soon?  Or are you dreading that getting back to the school routine?  Combination of both?