Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shelter-in-Place Today at SPS Schools

There was an incident at Lincoln where a 20-year Special Ed student was thought to have a knife.  That triggered a shelter-in-place for about 15 minutes.  It turns out it was a plastic toy knife.  SPD responded and spoke to the student.

SPD were called to the Rainier Beach area around 2:30 pm with a call of shots fired in the air by a guy who took off on foot.  This was at 50 Ave S and South Rose.  SPS put Dunlap, RBHS, South Shore Pk-8, Bailey Gatzert and South Lake on shelter-in-place while police checked out the scene.  (Bailey Gatzert was on shelter-in-place simply because an SPD officer happened to be visiting the school, heard the call and asked for it to be enacted until he/she had more info.)  

This shelter-in-place was about 20 minutes and was not associated with any SPS student or staff member. 

Seattle Schools Staffing Changes due to Enrollment

From reader Data Hungry (bold mine), letter from Dr. Nyland to principals about staffing changes.

Dear principals,

I am pleased to report that nearly 52,000 students are attending Seattle Public Schools this year, according to our official October headcount. That is an increase of 978 students over last year and is within 1 percent of our enrollment forecast.

Now that we have the official October enrollment counts for each school, as we do every year, we are moving forward with annual staffing adjustments – up and down – based on each school’s enrollment. Some schools have additional enrollment and require additional staff. Some schools have lower enrollments than projected and require staff reductions. We also consider equity factors, such as special education, English Language Learners, free and reduced price lunch qualifications and grade and program configurations. This year our school board has highlighted resource stewardship as a board priority, refocusing the district on the importance of assuring responsible management of our limited funding. While we have more students this year, the number is still lower than we projected, which has left us with $3 million less than we anticipated. With less revenue district wide, we will have to reduce the staffing budget from schools with lower enrollment and add staffing budgets to schools with higher enrollment to assure our class sizes and support personnel are equitably distributed to best support all students’ teaching and learning.

We know these changes are not easy for our schools, students, staff, parents, and principals. As the instructional leader of your school, and with your knowledge of our need to distribute resources equitably across the district, I urge you to help your school community understand this change and our considerations. We need your leadership at your school building to help make this staffing adjustment move smoothly.

Today we are announcing the following changes at schools:

Tuesday Open Thread

The deadline for input on the Advanced Learning draft updates has been extended until Wednesday, Oct. 22nd.  
The draft policy and procedures are available through the link in the right hand column on www.seattleschools.org/advlearning. The Oct. 22 public comment deadline will provide time for the Advanced Learning Office to edit the documents if necessary before they are introduced to the full school board at the Nov. 5 board meeting. A vote is expected at the December 3 meeting. Community members who would like to submit a comment should email it to advlearn@seattleschools.org and be sure to include POLICY – in all caps – in the subject line.
The district is also looking for input on the "revised Special Education policy related to Commencement Exercises and Certificate of Attendance."
Deadline for comment is Oct. 31, 2014. The draft policy will introduced to the Seattle School Board at its Nov. 5 meeting.

The draft policy is posted on the district’s Special Education web page. Please send comments to specialed@seattleschools.org, with “Policy” in the subject line.
Parents working on changing lunch length/recess length will be meeting at the JSCEE before the Board meeting on November 5th.  

Hey, guess what?  Ed reformers at the Walton Foundation figures out that field trips help kids.  From the Russ on Reading blog;
This report follows last year's groundbreaker from the same group that found positive learning outcomes associated with taking kids on field trips to museums. Both these studies fall into a school of educational research that I like to call a "Duh" Study; that is, a study that purports to discover something that veteran teachers have known, like, forever.
 What's on your mind?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Prop 1A and Prop 1B: Just Say No

I am urging voters to consider voting no to the first question on the preschool ballot measures in Seattle. Here's why.

Preschool, especially for disadvantaged children, is a good idea. No one is arguing that point.

But if the City and the unions truly wanted voters to say yes, there would have been ONE proposition. They had the opportunity to work together but choose to walk away from the table. That should give you pause about both sides.

What the City and the unions have given us with these two propositions is confusion and division when what we need is clarity and unity.

It's not like the City doesn’t already invest in preschool - 26% of the Families & Education levy (about $61M) is dedicated to it. Seattle Schools has over 35 federal and state funded preschool classrooms right now.

Also, as to this "we have to do this now," well just like every other levy, it can be brought back very quickly to the ballot.  It is not that the issue isn't urgent - it is - but it needs to be enacted in the most transparent and clear manner possible.   Neither of those is present in either measure.

I say that because Seattle is a generous city when it comes to education voting. But we can’t just say “it’s for the kids” and just check "yes." For every measure that comes to the ballot, we need to consider ALL the citizens of our city. That means people like seniors on a fixed income and those in lower-income brackets.

In short, there is no “free” preschool – it is paid for with taxes.

My opposition – of both 1A and 1B – stems from two main issues:
  • These are confusing and vague propositions.
  • My work has been in K-12 public education and as someone who knows Seattle Schools very well, I believe this will hurt our school district.
Let me give you specifics on each issue.

As to the confusion over these two propositions.
Where is the money for 1A? 
Who decides who gets into the schools run by 1B and what their programming will look like?

No one knows and yet those are just two of the vital questions left unanswered by these vague propositions. Why do we need to wait until AFTER one of them gets approved to find out?

Most importantly, there is this one central question:

1A is less about preschool and more about birth to age five caregivers having more oversight, better training and higher wages to create better conditions for children.

1B is about a structured preschool system throughout the city with oversight to ready 3-and 4-year olds for kindergarten.

Which will bring better outcomes for more of our littlest citizens and who really knows for certain? No one.

Then there is the partnering with SPS that 1B wants. Seattle Schools is THE linchpin to the City’s plan.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Education Updates

 Anybody get a call from the Gates Foundation survey folks?  My household did.

According to my son, they asked some general questions and then got very specific.  What did he think of the efforts of the Gates Foundation in public education?  What did he think about the Gates Foundation's efforts around Common Core?

They really need a poll to figure out what they are doing wrong? 

I am assuming the Gates Foundation is doing the poll because 1) they fund everything and 2) who else would fund a poll on them?

From SPS Legal about Title IX (bold mine):

At this point the staff commitment is to create the very best Title IX program we can, complete with notices, training, and effective responses to incidents. This requires a clear chain of responsibility. Our first step was to create a Title IX web page, designating the key individuals. We are updating it frequently. We've recently provided sexual harassment prevention and response training to every school administrator in the district, and will conduct a second session in November.

We anticipate Superintendent approval of the new Procedure (with seven attachments) in the next week, or two at the most. Charles Wright is heading up the task force and we anticipate an announcement any day. I expect the task force will review all of the work we've done so far and make its own recommendations.

A list of all the related staff activities will be available next week in the Friday update.


Advanced Learning/Highly Capable
Director Peters said at the Board meeting that there would be further time to submit input on the draft updates of the Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs policies and procedures.

The documents, which have not been significantly updated since 1993, reflect revised Washington Administrative Code requirements about serving students identified as Highly Capable. The state now requires that a continuum of services be provided K-12, and that every school offer a plan for serving Highly Capable students. The drafts also reflect the program and service name changes that were announced in August.
The draft policy and procedures are available through the link in the right hand column on www.seattleschools.org/advlearning. They will be introduced to the full school board at the Nov. 5 board meeting, and a vote is expected at the December 3 meeting. The documents will be discussed at the Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee meeting Monday, October 13. Any public comments submitted by the afternoon of October 13 will inform that discussion. Community members who would like to submit a comment should email it to advlearn@seattleschools.org and be sure to include POLICY – in all caps – in the subject line.

Seattle Education This Week

A very busy week.

Tuesday, Oct. 21st
SPS College Application event at Garfield High School from 2:30 pm-5:30 pm
College Application Events provide one-on-one support for high school seniors navigating the college application process. At these events, students receive help researching colleges, filling out applications, and drafting personal statements. Volunteers, including local college admissions officers, are on site to provide support with college applications and answer questions.

Note: there will be several more of these events in the coming weeks at high schools thruout SPS.


Seattle Times Wants Rule Breakers Punished

In an editorial published on Friday, "Starting with Beacon Hill, school officials must stop cheating before it spreads", the Seattle Times editorial board demands that district officials aggressively investigate and crack down hard on whoever altered test booklets at Beacon Hill International Elementary School.

Funny how the Seattle Times wants district officials to come down hard on anyone found to have cheated on the MSP but they aren't concerned about all of the other rule-breaking in Seattle Public Schools.

They aren't concerned about violations of IDEA. They aren't concerned about how the District can't comply with the federal laws regarding Native American education. They aren't concerned about violations of the chaperone rules. They aren't concerned about violations of the field trip rules. They aren't concerned about violations of Title IX. They aren't concerned about violations of the sexual harassment policy or procedures. They aren't concerned when district officials break their promises to students and communities. They aren't concerned about the routine violation of district procedures, board policies, state regulations, or federal laws that happen every day throughout Seattle Public Schools - violations that cause real harm to students - but they care so deeply about someone messing with a few standardized tests. This act, they believe, requires an immediate and severe response. They want whoever did this found and they want an example made of them.

That's why no one takes the Seattle Times editorial board seriously in education issues. They're just too intellectually dishonest and their focus in on numbers instead of kids.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Will Your School be Missing a Teacher Soon?

A heads up from a reader (and I have to wonder if this is poor planning/estimation or maybe someone wants the district to look inept):
Anonymous Pro-sleep Mom said...
I went to the boundary/transportation committee of the whole meeting on Thursday. A potential bombshell was in the last few minutes of the meeting. This is the October FTE adjustment- where staff is moved from under-enrolled to over-enrolled schools. Gatewood was on the early side of this; there are three rounds and this is the final round. (Tolley did comment that principals would know their counts and the implications, and so would not be blindsided; personally, I think the parents are another story and that this will be really disruptive for a lot kids.)

Up to 19 schools could be impacted- 7 adds and 12 FTE pulls. Principals will get notice on Friday 10/17; they have a week to raise the money/ pull carried over funds or whatever by 10/24. ​This is per the CBA process- not sure what CBA is- but the timeline is crazy short.

There was some discussion of the disparity in impact on poor vs rich schools- and talk about having every school contribute a % of their fundraising for a pool to be used for situations like this- but nothing concrete.

If your kid's school has had big ups or downs in enrollment numbers, you might want to check in with your principal to see what's up, and mobilize your PTA if necessary.

Posting Linked Documents at this Blog

This issue of posting documents at the blog has given rise to a couple of issues that I hope to resolve now.

It is fine to either link to documents from their source and/or if you scan them in and link to a source like Scribd if they are publicly available documents. 

Do not link documents that are not within the public domain.  You can send them to either Charlie or me but please do not put them up here. 

Do NOT put up any document that reveals the name or face of a minor if it is a sensitive matter.  It does not matter your opinion about the need to post; don't do it. 

Do NOT put up any document that reveals personal data like the address of any Seattle Schools' employee or members of the Board.  It does not matter your opinion about the need to post; don't do it. 

If you see that a document has been redacted but the redaction is not complete (meaning, they missed something), do NOT post it here.  It does not matter your opinion about the need to post; don't do it. 

Charlie and I try very hard to read every comment and look at links but yes, we could miss something that has been improperly posted. 

I will put this in our guidelines.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Seattle School Board Meeting, Part Two

 Summary:

About the Gates Foundation grant for a preschool at Bailey-Gatzert.  Several on the Board want a more careful explanation about who is in charge of what (like curriculum, alignment, costs) while a few on the Board want to grab this opportunity.  There seems to be confusion over what early learning is in SPS.  The Board will not be voting on this grant until November 19th, well after the election vote on the preschool props, 1A and 1B.

About the downtown school.  Some on the Board pressed for costs around finding room at other schools and the actual numbers for space for students in Central/downtown.  It is unclear what will actually happen but one thing that I believe is firmly settled is that the Board is not going to vote in to take on more debt to renovate the Federal Reserve building.  So unless some generous donor(s) come forward, it seems unlikely that the district will be given the Federal Reserve building.  However, the door is still open for the district to bid on the land/building should it go to auction.

End of summary