Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Get Those Ballots In!

No Charter Cheerleaders in SPS

Dear Directors,

I learned from the West Seattle blog that Gatewood has a new principal, Kyna Williams.  She's a former charter school principal.  That's okay.  She was in TFA.  That's okay.

What's not okay is proselytizing in SPS for charter schools.  Apparently, the principal at Arbor Heights - who is married to noted charter supporter and head of a Washington State ed reform group - is counseling parents to consider charter schools. 

And now we have an actual former charter principal heading a school.

I would suggest that when the district knows that incoming staff have ties to charter schools that it be made clear to those staffers that their job is NOT to counsel/cheerlead for charter schools. 

I would suggest that when the district knows - as in the case of the Arbor Heights principal - when there are strong connections to charter schools, that it be made clear that their job is NOT to counsel/cheerlead for charter schools. 

While SPS is struggling to support the students it has, SPS staff should not be supporting the growth of charter schools which will - in the end - undermine our district.  If you need any supporting facts about the loss of dollars to a district, go ask Tacoma.  Or ask me and I will deliver story after story to you about how charters are hurting districts across the country. 

Sincerely,
Melissa Westbrook
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog

Blanford's KUOW Interview

KUOW released an interview that journalist Ann Dornfeld did with departing Seattle School Board member, Stephan Blanford.  It was eye-opening, both for what he said and didn't say and what either didn't get asked or was left out in the piece by editor, Katherine Banwell.

The full interview as released on KUOW is 31 minutes long; the shorter for-the-radio piece is about 7. 5 minutes.  The title of the interview is:  On being the only black man on the Seattle school board

Sadly, I didn't take a screenshot but I do recall the first time I saw the KUOW page on this story, it said that Blanford would be reflecting on his time on the Board.  Well, he does but thru one lens and that's race.


My overall impression from listening is that Director Blanford is very much the person he has been all along on the Board - quick to judge, good at never telling the full story and, most of all, good at blaming others for lack of progress in our district.

I'll go into detail but here are the issues that jump out at me:

Tuesday Open Thread

Correlation is not causation but this new data is something to consider, From Gadfly on the Wall blog:

Middle School Suicides Double As Common Core Testing Intensifies
The suicide rate among 10- to 14-year-olds doubled between 2007 and 2014 – the same period in which states have increasingly adopted Common Core standards and new, more rigorous high stakes tests.

In fact, it is a hallmark of other nations where children perform better on these tests than our own.
 
For the first time, suicide surpassed car crashes as a leading cause of death for middle school children.
In 2014, the last year for which data was available, 425 middle schoolers nationwide took their own lives.

To be fair, researchers, educators and psychologists say several factors are responsible for the spike, however, pressure from standardized testing is high on the list.
Remember I told you about the new Washington Slaw about driving while using a cell phone?  The ultimate in bad outcomes for one teen driving while drunk and using Instagram.
A California woman is in custody after allegedly livestreaming a fatal car crash on Instagram that killed her 14-year-old sister and injured another teen. 

Obdulia Sanchez, 18, was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated after Friday's crash, according to the California Highway Patrol.
In a super-human effort, parent Barbara Billingshurst created this:
I created a website www.waschoolfamily.com that contains all the results from my detailed analysis of comparing the State’s Current FY 2017 Budget and the State’s FY 2019 Budget (SSB 5883 and HB 2242) for public schools to the QEC Fully-Funded FY 2019 Plan.
What's on your mind?

Monday, July 24, 2017

My, My

The Badass Teachers Association held its 4th Annual Education Conference in Seattle, Washington.
The Badass Teachers Association presents Back to School with BATs - 4th Annual Education Conference on 7/22 and Open Air Restorative Justice Circle on 7/23 -

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Andre Helmstetter for District V

It took me awhile to get here but, after careful consideration, I am endorsing Andre Helmstetter for Board position V.

Friday, July 21, 2017

District V Board Race Update

If you live in District V, you may receive a mailer from candidate, Alec Cooper.  It includes a list of endorsements that include my name. 

I have not endorsed any candidate for the District V race.  I recommended Cooper along with Andre Helmstetter and Zachary DeWolf.  I find them all strong candidates for different reasons and I continue to urge those of you in District V to pick one of them.

I talked to Mr. Cooper about this issue when I became aware of it.  He had thought my recommendation was an endorsement.  It was not.  I believe it was a good faith error of understanding on his part and, if he goes thru to the General election, I know he will correct that error in any other mailings or voter information.

On another note, while I believe it important to consider many facets of a candidate, I would urge readers to really look to work/volunteer background of a candidate along with their thoughts on issues that face our district and what lens each candidate may be using to view those issues. 

Friday Open Thread

First up, the South Seattle Emerald reports on scholarships won by students at Rainier Beach High School and Mercer Island High School that are named in honor of President Obama's mother.
On May 20, the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund held its 8th annual awards ceremony at the Northwest African American Museum.

For the first time in its history, the Fund awarded a scholarship to a Rainier Beach High student.
Rainier Beach High graduating senior Emily Au, along with Mercer Island High graduating senior Christine Lee, received $5000 scholarships from the fund.
Tell your driving teens (and yourself) to put that phone down while driving.  Starting Sunday, a new law against cell phone use will see folks getting stopped and warned about the law (it goes into effect in January 2018).

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Just when you think the Legislature can't do more to hurt public education, they do.  Or rather, the Republicans do.

Again, this is why you MUST support Manka Dhingra's race in the 45th district. Not only is her opponent a carpetbagger, we need people in the Legislature that want to get things done.

There are two big issues on this impasse.

From the Times:

DeVos Updates


Today she's going to the ALEC annual meeting in Denver...except her name hasn't been on the agenda.  Wonder why.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is just the gift that keeps on giving.  Let's review.