Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Field Trips: Again, a Source of Confusion

Or are they?

I will be writing a larger story about the annual Garfield field trip for their Marine Biology class.  (The school has been taking this trip for about 40 years and many students have said it was a catalyst to their interest in going into the field.) 

For right now, though, I thought it valid to state how this issue might be an issue for other schools AND the continuing need for the district to be clear on field trip policy.

I am waiting for feedback to my questions from district communications but here's the confusion that I have concern about for these parents (and other parents).

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

Mayor Durkan is to give her State of the City speech this morning at Rainier Beach High School.  Wish it was when school was in session.

Word is that the state has brought in more revenue - $1.3B - than expected.  Of course, the question then is, how to spend it?

KUOW is reporting that Dems would like to give property owners a one-year reduction on the coming property tax increase for McCleary and pay teachers more.  GOP members countered that they still need to fund Special Education.  It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Here's a thought on how teachers and the rest of us can start now to help fend off some school shooters - There’s a Way to Stop Mass Shootings, and You Won’t Like It - from blogger, Rob Meyer.


rosalind-wiseman-quote-social-isolation-is-one-of-the-most-devastating“Notice those around you who seem isolated, and engage them.”

If every one of us did this we’d have a culture that was deeply committed to ensuring no one was left lonely. And make no mistake, as I’ve written before loneliness is what causes these shooters to lash out. People with solid connections to other people don’t indiscriminately fire guns at strangers.

Community is easy to take for granted. Most of us have strong family connections and healthy friendships. Most feel as though they’re part of a group, be it community, religious, or work related. But it’s increasingly easy for people on the edges to withdraw and it’s easy for us to forget them.

The people you engage may not become life-long friends, and they don’t need to be, but it could be enough to keep someone away from the darkness and isolation needed to eventually think lashing out is an effective strategy for dealing with their pain. 

There was also a good teacher essay on this topic about making sure that kids get paired up randomly for in-class work and noticing isolated kids on the playground.  One thing I have done at the school I volunteer at is to have games like Red Light, Green Light at recess where anyone can play (and win) and even the kids who tend to be loners are part of the group.

What's on your mind?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

This and That

Here's the weekly legislative update on public education measures in the Washington State Legislature via WSSDA (Washington State School Directors Association).

Report from KUOW on the City's Pre-K program; so-so academically.
Three years into its four-year pilot, that publicly-funded preschool program is showing mixed results. Outside evaluations in 2016 and 2017 found that the Seattle Preschool Program offered warm, loving care for young children, but the program fared poorly on measures of teaching quality. 

Evaluators gave the 32 classrooms they visited in the 2016-17 school year an average emotional support score of 6.29 on a scale of one to seven.

But in the instructional support domain — which measures things like how well teachers develop children's problem-solving, critical thinking and complex language abilities — the average classroom scored just 3.06 on the seven-point scale. 
Programs are excelling in places like Boston and New Jersey, but that’s come after they’ve been up and running for years, Bouffard said.
What this says to me is that pre-K should really be able developing socio-emotional skills that are so important and less about having a "six hour academic day."

A deeper dive into the program is here at Seattle City Council Insight.
Between Year 1 and Year 2, the program scaled up considerably, from 228 students in 15 classrooms to 627 students in 33 classrooms. 

First, the program is hardly failing, or even delivering “mixed results” as KUOW suggests. The assessments suggest that it’s on par with peer programs, neither significantly better nor significantly worse. Students who start out behind their peers are catching up; those who are in the middle of the pack are keeping pace. 
Sound Transit has a webpage about considerations for light rail to Ballard and West Seattle.  Naturally, this is waaay off but will end up being a consideration for transportation to Seattle Schools especially for high school students.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Open Thread

 Dr. Nyland speaks out about the Florida high school massacre (partial):
As a district, our goal is to prevent these types of emergencies whenever possible and be prepared to respond effectively if an emergency should happen. Our educators increase safety by knowing their students by story, strength and need. We use social and emotional learning strategies to help students cope with stress and trauma to prevent harm to themselves or others. 

Each school – with our district and city emergency responders – develop a safety plan responsive to its layout and design. Controlling access to our students is part of that plan. Students and staff practice drills so if the unthinkable happens, they know how to respond. We always encourage students to report any threat or safety concern to a trusted adult – including families, staff, 911 or the district Safe Schools Hotline at 206-252-0510. 

We know students will likely want to talk about this, particularly because of the amount of information they see on social media and the news. As always, repeated exposure to traumatic images should be minimized. Our schools will be monitoring student reactions and support students who need additional supports.
Resources that are helpful in discussing troubling events with children:
From the News You can Use department, this from the Future Privacy Forum:

New US Dept of Ed Finding: Schools Cannot Require Parents or Students to Waive Their FERPA Rights Through Ed Tech Company’s Terms of Service

Policymakers, parents, and privacy advocates have long asked whether FERPA is up to the task of protecting student privacy in the 21st century. A just-released letter regarding the Agora Cyber Charter School might signal that a FERPA compliance crack-down – frequently mentioned as their next step after providing extensive guidance by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) employees at conferences throughout 2017 – has begun. The Agora letter provides crucial guidance to schools – both K-12 and Higher Ed – and ed tech companies about how USED interprets FERPA’s requirements regarding parental consent and ed tech products’ terms of service, and it may predict USED’s enforcement priorities going forward.
According to USED, the Terms of Use allowed “near universal use and distribution by K12 and various third party affiliates and licensees of information that could have constituted her child’s PII from education records,” an outcome that constituted an unlawful “forfeiture of [the parent’s] rights under FERPA to protect against the unauthorized disclosure of PII from her child’s education records.” Because the Terms of Use would have allowed K12 to freely re-disclose FERPA-protected information without consent (including, as stated in the letter, to “future employers of the student”), the Terms of Use constituted a waiver of FERPA rights. And because the child could not enroll at Agora without the parent agreeing to the Terms of Use, USED found that Agora violated FERPA.

According to USED, the Terms of Use allowed “near universal use and distribution by K12 and various third party affiliates and licensees of information that could have constituted her child’s PII from education records,” an outcome that constituted an unlawful “forfeiture of [the parent’s] rights under FERPA to protect against the unauthorized disclosure of PII from her child’s education records.” Because the Terms of Use would have allowed K12 to freely re-disclose FERPA-protected information without consent (including, as stated in the letter, to “future employers of the student”), the Terms of Use constituted a waiver of FERPA rights. And because the child could not enroll at Agora without the parent agreeing to the Terms of Use, USED found that Agora violated FERPA.
A couple of great learning opportunity stories in our district; one is from Chief Sealth High School and Concord Elementary and the other from McGilvra Elementary.  

Director Burke's community meeting for tomorrow has been CANCELLED.  However, President Harris' community meeting from 3-5 pm at the High Point Branch Library is still on.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

“We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults.”

Second update: a link to the 14 students and three staffers who were killed.  Open the link and look at their faces; next time, it could be your child.  There is NO safe place left in this country.

From an excellent article in the New Yorker:
The gun lobby, and the Republican Party it controls, have accepted as a matter of necessity the ongoing deaths of hundreds of children as the price that they are prepared to pay for the fetishization of weapons. The claim of this lobby’s complicity in murder is not exaggerated or hysterical but, by now, quite simple and precise: when you refuse to act to stop a social catastrophe from happening, you are responsible for the consequences of the social catastrophe.
Do something today.  Tell your family and friends on Facebook. Stand up and be counted.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Another School Shooting

Update: I will strive to differentiate between shootings at school properties and people shot while at school.  I see there is pushback on the number of "school shootings" since January 1.  Of course, how silly that we would argue this since there should be NO school shootings of any kind.

end of update

Yet ANOTHER school shooting, this time at a Florida high school.  There were at least 20 people shot but they have not yet said how many died. 

On this point, we live in an insane country.  It IS not worth the fear, pain and death that having easy access to guns allows.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

This and That

It appears that the district will be granting a leave of absence to Lowell principal, Colleen Stump, as soon as this Friday.  No word on her replacement.

No sure if the district's Science Department is really hearing what parents and teachers are saying but here's what I'm hearing about the new changes for high school science.

Tuesday Open Thread

Despite overflowing speaker lists at the last several Board meetings, this list for tomorrow night's meeting isn't even full.

I see that former Mayor/City Council member Tim Burgess is already stumping for the City's pre-K levy.   He does leave out several things like how the City is much less a good partner to the district than the district is to the City.  I'll have a separate thread on this but I hope this Board tell the City some things need to be clarified and/or changed for this "partnership."

And, everyone on the City Council as well as Mayor Durkan need to publicly state their views on charter schools.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Salmon Bay K-8 Film Series

PIE (Parent Information Exchange) Presents: Film Series 2018

Our Public Schools: Promises and Threats In The 21st Century

The series will be at Salmon Bay School, 1810 NW 65th Street at 7 pm.
   
Films will be shown at 7:00 PM on: 

Feb. 13   /  Feb. 28
Mar. 7  /  Mar. 13

 Film #1
Backpack Full Of Cash
TUESDAY, FEB. 13, 2018,  7:00 PM

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Seattle Schools This Week - Feb. 12-17, 2018

 I'm sure you received notification but the bus drivers' strike has ended and bus service will resume tomorrow morning.

Business on Parade - Wonder How Amazon Would Run Public Education?

The Puget Sound Business Journal recently had an op-ed with this usual type of business headline, "Money Won't Fix Our Education System." I would link it but they have a paywall; a friend sent it to me. Its author, one Bob Wallace, a CEO of something, said the tired old standards:

Friday, February 09, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I see that there is a BEX Oversight Committee meeting this morning.  I haven't been in quite awhile as there is more talk about projects than any visioning about facilities.  But BEX V is coming up and many communities would like to see their name on that list.  So I note that the agenda says that the meeting next month will have "BEX V Capital Levy Presentation."  

A kinder, gentler Betsy DeVos?  Not really but she's working with a right-wing message guru who is urging less of "choice" and more about "innovation."  I'll just note that one of the main dings against most charters schools across the country is that they are NOT more innovative.