Saturday, August 19, 2017

Perusing Homes for Sale This Morning...

Welcome to this wonderful home located in the sought after Northgate neighborhood, this home is within the boundary of the prestigious Hazelwolf Alternative School home of the highly prized S. T. E. M. Program. There is no waiting list for students in this location.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Open Thread

Thinking about privacy issues, from KUOW:
Smart devices like your phone or tablet could be used to track your movements. A group of computer science researchers at the University of Washington recently demonstrated this.

They turned smart devices into active sonar systems using a new computer code they created called CovertBand and a few pop songs.

In essence, download and play the song from a malicious attacker, and the song itself acts like a spy.
Also from KUOW, in advance of Monday's eclipse: Make Your Own Eclipse Viewer

Speaking of privacy, a story from the Daily Sun in Yakima about their district's new social media policy.  They had an issue earlier in the year when a library assistant had posted on Facebook about her opposition to students in her district who are here illegally as did a first-grade teacher.
The policy was reviewed by the ACLU, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Professional Educator Standards Board.  

The policy also outlines the necessity to take social media seriously. He said staff in the School District needs to take into account the effect a social media posting will have on their jobs.
Meanwhile, over at Microsoft, their president and chief legal counsel, Brad Smith, has jumped on the "the Legislature did great on McCleary and the Supreme Court should move on" train." As an officer of the court, I'm sure Mr. Smith is aware of how things work and rarely does a high court rubber-stamp anything.  Nice try, Brad.

From Microsoft:
We commend Gov. Jay Inslee and legislators from both sides of the aisle for signing into a law a measure that substantially increases state funding for basic education.  While we believe the McCleary decisions have played a valuable role in improving education funding in accordance with the state’s constitution, we hope the state Supreme Court will agree that the constitution’s obligations have now been met.  This would enable the legislature to move beyond the court’s ongoing scrutiny and focus on the key policy needs of the kids of our state rather than on who will argue what next in additional rounds of hearings among lawyers.
From Google, a story on pollen forecasts.  Maybe it might help if your child has allergies.

A slide inside a school?  Yup in Keller.  From KING-5:
Parkwood Hill, a 5th and 6th grade campus and Hillwood Middle, the 7th and 8th grade campus across the street, are divided into eight different "houses." Think Harry Potter. The students, roughly 1,200 at each campus, compete for academic rewards and the newest enticement is the reward of hearing your classmates cheer as you take a ride down that big green slide.

At a cost of approximately $18,600 and paid for by fundraising and donations, the slide is padlocked at the top and bottom until it is needed for one of its celebratory, ceremonial, or symbolic uses. The students will get to celebrate the results of house competitions, get to take a ceremonial first ride as 5th graders and a ceremonial last ride as they leave the 8th grade, and celebrate symbolic events like birthdays and other major milestones.
What's on your mind?

In Black and White

This pretty much explains the route to where we are in public education today.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Charter Schools News Roundup

Here's a stunner: Surprise, Trump's Education Ideas Are Polarizing.  (That could have just as easily read: Surprise, Trump's Ideas are Polarizing.)  From NPR:
In the last year, there's been a big drop in support for charter schools, while other forms of school choice are getting a little less unpopular. That's the top line of a national poll released today.  

Here are the latest results:
  • Charters: Last year 51 percent of the public supported "the formation of charter schools"; this year it's just 39 percent, a 12 point drop in one year.
  • Vouchers: 45 percent are either strongly or somewhat supportive of universal vouchers. That's a bounce from last year, but more or less in line with the five years before.
  • Tax credits: This was the most popular form of school choice with 55 percent of the general public supporting this year; also a one-year bounce, but in line with longer-term trends.
There's no one obvious explanation for the change in opinion on charter schools. The drop was seen among both Democrats and Republicans and amongst all racial and ethnic groups. 

"That's the largest change on any survey item, and one of the largest single-year changes in opinion that we've seen over the 11-year history of the survey," Martin West, the editor in chief of EducationNext, said on a press conference call.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who's Running for Seattle School Board in the General Election?

The Candidates

District IV
Eden Mack - 70.47%
Herbert J. Camet, Jr. - 7.7%

District V
Zachary DeWolf - 47.36%
Omar Vasquez - 17.53%

District VII
Betty Patu - 68.41%
Chelsea Byers - 20.98%

Donations/Spending (via PDC)

Mack - $ 15,952.34/$13,926.74
Camet - 0/0

Notable Mack contributors: Director Jill Geary, Director Leslie Harris

DeWolf - $19,241.00/$4,644.97
Vasquez - $19,241.00/$10,000 (spending/debt)

Notable DeWolf contributors: WEA, CM Debora Juarez, Rep. Frank Chopp, Director Jill Geary, Rep. Nicole Macri

Notable Vasquez contributors: Democrats for Ed Reform, Vulcan, head of DFER WA, TFA reps, several charter school heads,
As well, Vasquez paid for campaign support from LEE, Leadership for Education Equity, which is the arm of TFA that helps TFAers with "leadership development."

Patu - $1,540/$35.00
Byers - $6,778.00/$139.65

Notable Patu contributors - Director Jill Geary, philanthropist Kay Bullitt

Notable Byers contributors - none

My early thoughts:

District IV
Everyone now has a website include Camet.  His website continues his pattern of name-calling and a misguided belief that he is running for superintendent and not School Board.  I honestly think it will be fascinating to see him in action at forums.

Mack clearly knows her stuff but that's no reason not to ask both candidates hard questions.

District V

DeWolf outpaced a talented field in District V.  I'll have to ask Helmstetter and Cooper who they might be endorsing but given that they both don't believe in charter schools and many types of corporate ed reform, I'd venture they would support DeWolf.

Neither candidate knows the district well but DeWolf has lived and worked in Seattle for a long time with many ties to various low-income constituencies.  

Look for this to be the biggest spending race of the three and I suspect that there may be some big financial firepower, coming from both in-state and out-of-state sources. 

District VII
Patu has been to this dance before so I would look for her to stick to her tried-and-true formula of being herself and presenting her background/experience.  Byers is a quiet, kind person so I don't expect to see her on the attack. 

What I would expect is attacks on Patu from PACs a lá the ones that we saw when Director Sue Peters ran four years ago.  

I'll let you know if I hear of any worthwhile candidate forums.

Vote, Vote, Vote

An ask from me.

Seattle's City Club is going to have a mayoral debate in late October and I am hoping they will add a question on public education.  They are taking questions and submitting the same (or near-same) question would really help to get it on the list.

Here's the question I would propose (but it certainly can be edited via your suggestions):

What do you believe the role of the mayor is in public education in Seattle and do you believe in mayoral control of either the school board or school district?

Ask the next #SEAMayor a Question

King County's certified election results are in and the 2017 Seattle mayoral race is down to its final two candidates, Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon!

Both candidates will meet October 24th for our live broadcast debate at Starbucks Support Center presented in partnership with KING 5, KUOW and GeekWire.

In order to make sure we have diverse questions that cover multiple topics, we are asking residents to submit their questions in advance for selection. 
Submit Your Question

Add Your Name to the Waitlist

As we confirm the venue seating layout, we will release additional tickets for our live debate audience. 

Washington State Charter School Updates

There are three two new charter schools opening in Washington State this fall with a current middle school expanding to include a high school.  They have both have been authorized by the Washington State Charter Commission.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A New Kind of Classroom

In any event, advocates argue, the current education system is not working.

From the NY Times, A New Kind of Classroom (that sounds a lot like SPS' Nova):

Tuesday Open Thread

A new tech institute - a joint project between the University of Washington and China's Tsinghua University - will open this fall in Bellevue.  Story from the Times:

Schools Supplies on a Big Scale

From the Progressive via Bill Moyers&Company, Is Back-to-School More Expensive This Year? Yes, and Here’s Why:
The most recent survey asking teachers what they pay out of their own pockets for their students’ school supplies found teachers spend nearly $500 on average, and 1 in 10 spends $1,000 or more.
This is not to say parents shouldn’t complain about getting hit up for the costs of school supplies.
The annually compiled Backpack Index, which calculates the average cost of school supplies and school fees, reports parents face steep costs during back-to-school season: $662 for elementary school children, $1,001 for middle-school children, and $1,489 for high-school students.

Middle-school parents face average costs of $195 for athletics, $75 for field trips and $42 for other school activity fees. In high school, the fees spike much higher to $375 for athletics, $285 for musical instrumentals, $80 to participate in band and $60 in other school activity fees. High-school fees may also include academic courses such as Advanced Placement classes, which more schools are emphasizing. The average fee for tests related to these courses is $92. The costs of materials to prepare for these tests and the SAT average more than $52.

Someone has to pay for these things, or kids go without.
One SPS school is stepping up...again.  From Soup for Teachers:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Parsing the Friday Memos

I circled back to Friday Memos from the Superintendent because there was a review of Advanced Learning (Spectrum) in the one from June 30th. 

I will get to that important thread but I see a couple of newer ones that deserve some attention.  (Also to note, they need to get better proofreading.  There's some sloppiness in these memos that should not be there.  For example, from the Superintendent Memo of August 11, 2017:

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development shared insightful information on Seattle’s growth and why are students need to be Seattle and beyond ready;

Highlights of the July/August Memos

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Seattle Schools Next Week

Next week heralds the resumption of Board committee meetings and public district activity but I thought I'd give an early heads up especially about the Kindergarten Jump Start event.