Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Seattle Schools Losing Staff

I am hearing upwards of 25 elementary schools are losing staff due to "enrollment losses."  Most of it is loss of teachers.  A JAMS reader is reporting that their school is losing staff as well.

Please report in here as you hear from your school.  This seems to happen every single year and throws schools off kilter and this should not happen like this at the start of a school year.

The district will not give me this information.  I will file a public disclosure request to both the district and OSPI and see who gets it to me first.

Update: from Olympic View:
23 kids under original and it will affect 3 staff positions.  23 students across all 6 grades. (Note: one staff position is .4 so it's 2.4 employees.)

From JAMS:
I wanted to share with you that 52,399 students are attending Seattle Public Schools this year, according to our 10 day headcount (9/30). That is an increase of 411 students over last year. While we have more students this year, the number is still lower than we projected by 675. Here at Jane Addams Middle School we have experienced lower  8th grade enrollment than projected, which has lead the district to reduce our budget by 2.0 certificated staff with an additional .4 reduction in certificated Special Education staff.

We have an immediate plan to reduce sections of Social Studies, Special Education and Science as well as to shift funding from a variety of areas. We may have the opportunity to delay these changes until the semester. However, if Jane Addams is required to reduce the entire 2.0 FTE, at the semester we will need to make reductions in the above areas as well as in music, world language, and in math. Many student schedule changes will need to occur.

Bell Times Morass

It was a fired-up crowd that came to JAMS last night for the bell times meeting held there.   (Oddly, like a forewarning, there was a contingent of crows - by my rough count, about 50 - on the east side of the building when I came in. I felt like I was in The Birds.)

I estimated the crowd at about 70 which was the largest number to attend a bell times meeting.  (Pegi McEvoy told me that the one last Friday night had about 30 people.)

There were quite a few Sand Point parents there plus I know there were JAMS parents, John Rogers, someone who wanted to represent for Aki Kurose plus high school parents (who self-identified as such but not their schools).

Here's my take, overall, about what is happening and you should keep this all in mind as we go forward.

1) Most important of all to remember is that the staff NEVER wanted to do anything.  In fact, they never even wanted to discuss this issue.  They had to be dragged by the Board to this time and place. 

Title IX Sexual Assault Groups Rise Up

From U.S. News and World Report on the uptick of reported assaults:

Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Tim Kaine of Virginia released data the department's Office for Civil Rights provided in response to letters the senators sent asking for greater transparency. The data show the number of sexual violence complaints at colleges and universities increased from nine in fiscal year 2009 to 102 in fiscal year 2014 – a jump of more than 1,000 percent. Meanwhile, the average length of time it takes the office to investigate cases that result in "substantive closures" – as opposed to those resulting in "findings of no violation or insufficient evidence," or another outcome – more than tripled, from 379 days to 1,469 days.
The number of college sexual violence complaints has increased more than 1,000 percent since 2009.
The Huffington Post has an article about the group, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools, which is the work of the parents of the Garfield student who was assaulted on a field trip in November 2012. 

Tuesday Open Thread

Update: Congrats to Chief Sealth (via the West Seattle blog);

For the third consecutive year, the Academy of Business, which includes both the Academy of Finance and Academy of Hospitality & Tourism programs, was awarded “Model Status” by the National Academy Foundation, an award given to only a select number of business academies across the country. 

There are only five NAF academies in the entire state of Washington, with two of those located here at Chief Sealth Int’l. Over the past five years, the graduation rate for the Academy of Business has exceeded 99% and over 95% of those that graduate have gone on to college or post-secondary education. 

I attended the bell times meeting at JAMS last night; thread to come.  Apparently it was the largest crowd yet (about 70 people).  I think the district has a plan and it's working.

Speaking of getting to school, The Atlantic had this article, Why Japanese Kids Can Walk to School Alone.

Even in big cities like Tokyo, small children take the subway and run errands by themselves. The reason has a lot to do with group dynamics.

A popular television show called Hajimete no Otsukai, or My First Errand, features children as young as two or three being sent out to do a task for their family. As they tentatively make their way to the greengrocer or bakery, their progress is secretly filmed by a camera crew. The show has been running for more than 25 years.

And before you say that Japan is "different" from the U.S., yes, I'm aware of that.  But sending kids to school is a world-wide event and many kids take public transportation - alone - to get there.

Speaking of, tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 7th is national WalkBike to School Day.

A high-school senior in the Highline School District died on Monday after sustaining an injury playing football.  I'm going to have a thread on this issue as more districts across the nation are rethinking high school football. 

What's on your mind?

Monday, October 05, 2015

It's 2015 and Yet American Textbook Writers Apparently STILL Don't Get It

In what is one of the most odious items I have read about American textbooks in a long time, this one created by McGraw-Hill for world geography had this (from the Washington Post):

In a section titled “Patterns of Immigration,” a speech bubble pointing to a U.S. map read: “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”

Were You Ever 13? Do You Have (or Will Have) a 13-Year Old?

CNN is broadcasting a special report tonight, "Being 13: Inside Secret World of Teens."  I'll have to Tivo this one.  It's on at 9 pm EST (but CNN tends to have repeats of these things). 

It could be interesting.  It could be painful.  It could be eye-rolling.  I have no doubt that all of it is the reality of teens today (including this line):
"I would rather not eat for a week than get my phone taken away. It's really bad," said Gia, a13-year-old. "I literally feel like I'm going to die."
Sound familiar?

FYI, there is a very good film called, coincidentally, Thirteen, that is a semi-autobiographical film by Catherine Hardwicke.  I recommend it for parents of 13-year old girls.  It is, by turns, funny and scary and you should watch it (before your daughter does and gets ideas). 

Seattle Schools Good News

From SPS Communications:

The Washington Art Education Association (WAEA) announced two Seattle Public Schools’ teachers as Educators of the Year for the elementary and middle school levels. Jennifer Lundgren of Montlake Elementary School and Jennifer Heller of Eckstein Middle School received the award based on their accomplished teaching.

Eckstein Loses a Good Teacher

I post this notice from Eckstein because Ms. Allen was a dedicated employee for Seattle Schools and I know others out there knew her as well.  Her passing is a loss for Eckstein and Seattle Schools. 

Middle School Math Update

From the Superintendent's Friday Memo of August 28, 2015:

Math Materials Field Test Proposal

In keeping with the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction’s schedule of adopting textual materials, Math Program Manager Anna Box is proposing a field test of some middle school Math textual resources during the 2015-16 school year. Providing this field test in 2015- 16 will help prepare to launch an adoption during the 2016-17 school year. Additionally, the work aligns with School Board Policy No. 2015, Selection & Adoption of Instructional Materials, amended by the School Board this month to allow for field tests of materials.