Monday, October 15, 2018

Who Gets to Go to Maple Elementary?

It's a topic that heating up over at Facebook.  It's worth discussing because of the central issue - historical patterns of enrollment or racial equity? 

Should kids who have traditionally gone to a school always go there? 

Where does the need for racial equity start for a school? 

And, most of all, are district promises really just that - a promise and not a guarantee?

Here's the basic story (this from the Equity in Seattle Schools blog):

Amazon Donates $2M For "Immediate Needs" Fund for SPS Students

Via GeekWire:
Amazon is announcing a $2 million grant to help Seattle school students. But the focus isn’t the latest shiny education technology. Instead, it’s that missing raincoat, a weekend backpack full of food, or unaffordable school supplies.

Amazon’s donation to the Alliance for Education, which is an organization that works closely with Seattle Public Schools, will create what the company calls a new “Right Now Needs Fund” to meet the urgent needs of individual students. The Alliance will administer the grant, designed to cover the current 2018-19 and the following 2019-20 school years
Amazon says the Alliance will distribute the funds to schools based on student needs, with higher poverty schools getting more support.
The only condition, Amazon says, is that fund spending has to directly benefit students and can’t replace items currently in the district’s budget.
This is great news.  Naturally, though, I have a few caveats.

I want this money to be tracked down to the penny as to how much actually goes directly to SPS students or classrooms.

I'd like to know how much the Alliance will charge for the bookkeeping (as they currently do for PTA funds).

I want to note that SPS has no official, documented relationship with the Alliance for Education.  That MOU was severed several years back when the Alliance overstepped - multiple times in multiple ways - in district work and function.

I also see that an Amazon VP is also a member of the Alliance's Board.  Could this be a move to get the Alliance back into the good graces of SPS?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

Interested in Hearing For/Against Arguments for Seattle's Families&Ed Levy?

I don't know how many other debates are coming up; this will be my fifth.  But if you are interested, the debate is Saturday, October 13th at Byrd Barr Place (the old firehouse at E.Columbia and 18th and formerly CAMP and Centrestone) at 722 18th Avenue.  It's sponsored by the Squire Park Community Council. 

The event, which starts at 10 am,  includes other topics but the Families&Education levy discussion starts at 10:45 am.  I am the against and former Director Stefan Blanford will argue for.

It should be interesting, particularly because this event's format allows each side to ask the other side a question.

Public Education Stories of Interest

A great story worth showing your tweens/teens about a Rohingya boy who escaped - but not for a long time - from persecution in Myanmar, leaving his family behind.  He ended up in Mercer Island.
This story was created in KUOW's RadioActive Intro to Journalism Workshop for 15- to 18-year-olds at Jack Straw Cultural Center. 

What's this? Some school districts replacing libraries with maker labs?

Friday Open Thread


There a new survey from SDOT called Safe Routes to School Racial Equity Analysis.  Plus there is a separate survey just for high school students.  They also have:
  • Partnered with 10 schools serving at least 85% students of color to promote the Racial Equity Survey and to conduct in-depth conversations with students and families about the lived experiences and challenges of getting to and from school
  • Attended over 50 community events catered specifically for communities of color, immigrants, and refugees
  • Partnered with nearly 40 community organizations to promote the Racial Equity Survey, and conducted focused outreach such as focus groups and coffee chats at over 10 community organizations
  • Received nearly 250 survey responses from guardians and high school students in the 2017-2018 school year
  • Refined our survey outreach practices to make survey participation is more accessible and equitable for the second round of surveying in the fall of 2018
I'm sure they will find that neighborhoods that have sidewalks feel safer sending their kids to school than neighborhoods who don't.

Apparently the district is threatening teachers at Garfield over the recent walk-out.  One issue that troubles me; were parents ever truly told what happened and why? The number of differing stories here certainly make it sound like students got caught in the middle of it all.  From The Stranger:
GHS students and teachers gathered in the gym for two hours on that Friday in September. They are losing pay for that two hours.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Clover Codd, Executive Director of Schools Sarah Pritchett, and Garfield High School Principal Ted Howard sent a "Memorandum Letter" (sic) to GHS informing the teachers involved in the sit-in of their punishment. To them, this was a violation of the teachers' contracts.

"The decision to suspend the normal student class schedule, regular instruction, and normal student supervision was a unilateral action not sanctioned by the GHS administration or the District," the letter read. 

Every teacher involved in the sit-in received this notice. Teacher leadership is currently drafting their response. 

"Any future unilateral and unauthorized absence from your classroom will result in progressive discipline," the letter concluded. "At this time, the District has decided to not pay you for the time you were absent from your assigned classroom."
end of update
Do check out my latest post on my opposition to the newest Families & Education levy; yes, charter schools will get levy dollars if it passes and the Mayor and City Council seem to not care.

AFM Attacking Children Throughout U.S.

Parents, be aware of an uptick of acute flaccid myelitis, with six cases in our region.  As well, there are pockets of cases throughout the U.S. including in Minnesota and Illinois. From KIRO-tv:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Families, Education, Preschool & Promise Levy Updates

Thru the course of the last several days, I have participated in several debates on this levy.  I'll put up the link for the Seattle Channel debate when it comes out on Friday.


Monday, October 08, 2018

I'm Not Voting for the New Families&Education Levy; Here's Why

I want to preface this thread by noting what former Councilman Tim Burgess, the co-chair of the current levy campaign, said at an event. He said that voters have always supported this levy because it supports Seattle's kids.

Okay but here's the thing - every single time ANY levy comes before voters, they should examine it. Question it. Review it. There should be no emotional blackmail - "it's for the kids! - for any kind of vote. Because tax dollars are so precious, whatever we spend them on needs to have clarity in vision and the confidence that the dollars will be well-spent.

I came to this decision to say no to the levy with sadness because I have supported this levy since its inception. But this current levy, the Families, Education, Pre-school and Promise levy is a radical change from previous ones, both in scope and cost.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

BEX V List Getting Closer (Along with a Huge Price Tag)

I attended last week's BEX V Work Session.  Here's the presentation.   The work on BEX continues next week with another work session on Wednesday, Oct 10th at JSCEE from 4:30-5:30 pm.  Given the short time for the latest work session, I suspect this will be the final list as they want to introduce the list at the Board meeting on October 17th.