Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Boy do I like public disclosure laws because that story out of LA about the iPad debacle only gets better/worse.  I'll have another thread on that soon.

Kids and Uzis - I'm not sure there is anything that could better demonstrate a lack of common sense.  

Very funny story from the Scary Mommy blog about going back to school in the 1970s (some of us were doing that) and going back today.

In a big "what were you thinking," the clothing store, Zara, had to withdraw this offensive t-shirt for kids.  

Hey, maybe it's still useful to take with a pencil or pen.  (Even the Cleveland Browns coach thinks so.)  From the Washington Post.

There's a new high school space in town - Seattle Waldorf just opened its new high school building at Magnuson Park.  Interestingly they absorbed another Waldorf high school in 2007 called Hazel Wolf High School

Oklahoma got denied its NCLB waiver so Washington State is not the only outcast.

According to the newest education ranking, Washington State ranks 15th in the country.   They give WA state a "mixed" rating because it's 29th in spending but somehow has better outcomes than other states.  (This supports my belief that legislators don't want to fund education more because hey, look how well we do in spite of the low dollars?)  

What's on your mind?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

No Internet for Your Kid

I regularly check the district's website for updates.  Here's the latest one (bold mine):

All Seattle Public School students in grades K–12 will be able to access their personal email accounts from District computers beginning this fall. This change comes at the request of District principals with approval of senior leadership.

SPS is not providing email accounts to students, nor is SPS recommending that students get personal email accounts if they do not already have them. SPS is instead allowing students to access their personal email accounts from District computers for academic and learning purposes only.

Access to personal email from District computers will not reduce or eliminate other filtering of Internet content and does not conflict with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). However, access is governed by all applicable SPS policies and agreements including:
•  Student Network Agreement
•  Students Rights & Responsibilities
•  Policy 2202 & Procedure 2022 SP (Electronic Resources and Use of Internet)

Point in fact; Electronic Resources is 2022, not 2202.

Parents can elect to "opt out" and not allow their students to access personal email by completing theInternet Opt Out Form included in their Start-of-School Packets and on the District website under Forms.
Please Note: Students who opt out of Internet access will not have access to any Internet services including email.

For general information, contact: 
Carmen Rahm, 
Chief Information Officer

Where - to - start?

Look What's Arriving at Seattle Schools

Guest Post on Garfield Field Trip Rape

Please support a much more critical demonstration next Wed, Sept 3rd, at the Seattle School Board meeting.  The District is making decisions about its next step regarding the Garfield HS rape victim. We know the District’s response was outrageous, but the general public must also become educated. The self-serving Seattle Times reporting did nothing to inform the public of the facts. We know the District still pretends that no assault occurred (despite the assailant's testimony to raping/sodomizing and medical information); the District takes no responsibility for its deplorable chaperoning, nothing is wrong. The victim wasn’t even the recipient of sexual harassment, they determined.  Yeah right.  A successful student’s life was ruined on a school field trip where chaperones and staff failed to supervise. It was entirely and easily preventable.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

School District in Florida Votes to Opt-Out of Common Core Testing

 Update: will you look at that?  Another Florida district is considering this idea (Palm Beach County School Board). 

“They say testing has gotten out of control and creates too much pressure for students and teachers. After discussing the opt-out idea at a recent meeting, board members asked their lawyers for further study. They will discuss it again at a workshop in the next few weeks.

“Sometimes it takes an act of civil disobedience to move forward,” School Board member Karen Brill said. “We must explore the consequences, but we cannot allow fear to hold us back.”

In what can only be called unbelievable courage, a school district in Florida, Lee County, has voted to opt the entire district out of Common Core testing.

The school board vote was 3-2 with the superintendent warning, "This will hurt children."

From News-Press:

Throughout the tense three-hour meeting, more than 33 people came forward to share their thoughts on the matter.

Emotions came to a head when mother Lori Jenkins took the stand. She said her son was on leave from school due to a terminal heart condition, yet the district still sent someone to proctor the FCAT exam at his home. The audience gasped with disgust.

OSPI Releases State Test Results

Someone at OSPI has a sense of humor.  Their press release is called, "State Test Scores in a Waiverless World." 

Seattle's Test scores  I have to say that those 10th grade scores are looking pretty good for reading and writing:
Reading: 81.2%, Writing 84.5%
Math and Science EOC - looks they are holding steady at about 61-64%, not great.

From the press release:

I Have a New Twitter Follower

Welcome, Mr. Gates (no, I don't believe he reads anything I write but it brought a smile to my face).

Bill Gates @billgates_s
Inspirational quotes from Bill Gates
Following: 1409 · Followers: 1115

Finding Common Ground

I have been an education activist for a long time and I have never had any delusions about my effectiveness. After all, the district officials have all of the power and all of the authority, so they don't have to do anything they don't want to do and they are free to do whatever they like. We have seen that there is almost no accountability or consequences for them, so they really aren't answerable to anyone. They have carte blanche. You have to presume that they are already doing things the way that they want to do them, so there can't be much expectation that community activism is going to have much of an impact.

For all of my time as an activist I have been getting advice about how to be more effective. - usually from people whose behavior I'm trying to change. They will say things like "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." They have suggested that they would respond to me more if I didn't contact them so frequently. They say I should be nicer. They say that I should try cooperating with them. I have tried all of these techniques and I can assure you that no matter what I did or said and no matter how I did it or said it, they had no interest in changing anything that they were doing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Issues with Test Scores for a Seattle School?

A letter sent out from Superintendent Nyland:

Dear Seattle Public Schools community,

 I’m writing today to let you know that on Wednesday we will receive our final state Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) test scores. 

Earlier this month, while reviewing preliminary data, we discovered an anomaly with Beacon Hill’s test results. We requested that the scores at Beacon Hill International School be reviewed by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). We hope to receive the results of that review in the next several weeks. 

Seattle Public Schools is conducting its own review of the situation, and is in the final stages of a review of our policies, procedures and practices related to testing. 

We will keep you informed as more information becomes available. Thank you for your patience as we review this matter. 

Sincerely, Dr. Larry Nyland Superintendent Seattle Public Schools

I do not see this letter at the SPS website but a parent received it and sent it along.  I'll have to ask about the "anomaly." 

Seattle Schools' Equity and Race Advisory Committee

The district is looking for new members via nominations.

This committee is a commitment to transforming our current practices at a systemic level to eliminate disproportionality in education and in all aspects of its administration. These efforts require a long-term commitment from our advisors that includes both making recommendations and staying engaged as our work progresses over time.

The Superintendent will appoint members to this committee. Nominations will be sought until Monday, September 15, 2014.

Download the complete information about this committee and its charge.
Download the nomination form

Term of Committee and Length of Term

The Advisory Committee is a standing committee. The initial term of membership is September 2014—September 2015. It is expected that one-year to two-year terms will apply.

Process for Soliciting Nominations and Appointing Committee Members
Nominations for the committee will be sought via public notices and program contacts. Calls for nominations will be disseminated via: in person, website, email contact lists, including key community leaders, school newsletters, and ELL staff. A slate of recommended candidates will be submitted to the Superintendent, who will be the final appointing authority.

I do think it a bit troubling that the Board has no role in this committee at all.