Monday, April 24, 2017

Telephone and Network Access at Olympic Hills and Hazel Wolf

From SPS:
On Saturday, telephone and network access to two schools Olympic Hills Elementary and Hazel Wolf K-8 were disrupted. A car accident on I-5 knocked a telephone pole across the highway and in order to move the pole, telephone and network cables were cut.
This means families are unable to call the schools directly until the cables are repaired. If you need to reach these schools, please call the following numbers:

Olympic Hills
  • Attendance 206-310-0198
  • Front office 206-491-4329 (alternate number 206-471-0784)
Hazel Wolf
  • Attendance 206-790-4224
  • Front office 206-471-2809 (alternate number 206-679-1877)
Outgoing and emergency calls from the school to families are not effected. The Department of Technology is working closely with the City of Seattle to develop a plan to restore incoming calls as soon as possible.

Good News from the City on Two Tier Busing

From Liza Rankin at Soup for Teachers:  

It's a go! 

The city is giving $2.3M for us to move to 2 tiers from the Families and Ed Levy, and also giving $300,000 or so to fund crossing guards at 100+ locations around the city! It still needs to be officially adopted by the Levy Oversight Committee and council, but that's a formality. They are all for it!

That seems to mean two tiers, one at 8 am and one at 9 am.

Rankin says in another comment that PTA and Soup for Teachers advocacy helped get this done for SPS families.

No tweets or website announcement yet from SPS.

Grit versus Resiliency

There is this new meme for discussions in public education circles about helping kids - especially those in crisis - find "grit."  To me, this sounds much like a sports idea when a kid gets hurt; "throw some dirt on it and get back up."

It'sa good thing to encourage kids to learn how to rise up against issues and outcomes, big and small.  But we all remember what it feels like - as a child - to not know just how you were going to climb over, dig under or just plain outwait a problem.

A very good op-ed appeared in this morning's New York Times from Sheryl Sandberg: How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss.   As you may recall, Ms. Sandberg, Facebook COO, suffered the sudden loss of her husband two years ago, leaving her with two young children to raise alone. (bold mine)
As parents, teachers and caregivers, we all want to raise resilient kids — to develop their strength so they can overcome obstacles big and small. Resilience leads to better health, greater happiness and more success. The good news is that resilience isn’t a fixed personality trait; we’re not born with a set amount of it. Resilience is a muscle we can help kids build.
Adolescents who feel that they matter are less likely to suffer from depression, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. They’re less likely to lash out at their families and engage in rebellious, illegal and harmful behaviors. Once they reach college, they have better mental health.
And every kid faces challenges. Some stumbles are part of growing up. Forgetting lines in a school play. Failing a test. Losing a big game. Seeing a friendship unravel. Other hardships are far more severe. Two out of 10 children in the United States live in poverty. More than 2.5 million kids have a parent in jail, and many endure serious illness, neglect, abuse or homelessness. We know that the trauma from experiences like these can last a lifetime; extreme harm and deprivation can impede a child’s intellectual, social, emotional and academic progress. As a society, we owe all our children safety, support, opportunity and help finding a way forward.
Then she gets to a point that cannot be said enough in our technology driven society:
We can start by showing children that they matter. Sociologists define “mattering” as the belief that other people notice you, care about you and rely on you. It’s the answer to a vital question that all children ask about their place in the world starting as toddlers, and continuing into and beyond adolescence: Do I make a difference to others?
What can you do?
As parents, we sometimes feel helpless because it’s impossible to solve our children’s problems. In those situations, we can still provide support by “companioning” — walking alongside them and listening.

When children grow up with a strong understanding of their family’s history — where their grandparents grew up, what their parents’ childhoods were like — they have better coping skills and a stronger sense of mattering and belonging.

Talking openly about memories — not just positive ones, but difficult ones, too — can help kids make sense of their past and rise to future challenges. It’s especially powerful to share stories about how the family sticks together through good times and bad, which allows kids to feel that they are connected to something larger than themselves. Studies show that giving all members of the family a chance to tell their version builds self-esteem, particularly for girls. And making sure to integrate different perspectives into a coherent story builds a sense of control, particularly for boys.

This and That

A lengthy and interesting chart of the generations currently living in the U.S. - Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.  (This came to me via the Horace Mann news feed but has no attribution.)  I note that Millennials seem to span two generations, X and Z.   From Wiki:
Generation Z (also known as The Founders, Post-Millennials, the iGeneration, Plurals or the Homeland Generation) is the demographic cohort after the Millennials. There are no precise dates for when the Gen Z cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use starting birth years that range from the mid-1990s to early 2000s, and as of yet there is little consensus about ending birth years.
More interesting charts about urban versus rural that could play into discussions about public education from The Conversation.  They name four issues:
  • Poverty is higher in rural areas.
  • Most new jobs aren't in rural areas.
  • Disabilities are more common in rural areas.
  • Rural areas are surprisingly entrepreneurial.
From The Atlantic, How School Start Times Affect High-School Athletics.
The debate in Sag Harbor mirrors similar conversations in districts across the country. Hundreds of schools in 44 U.S. States have already delayed start times in response to sleep-science research. But in more than a few other districts, attempts to push back the opening bells have failed because of the kinds of concerns being voiced on Long Island.

On one side are parents who point to extensive research on sleep cycles of adolescents, effects of sleep on academic performance, and the safety risks associated with sleep deprivation. On the other are those who are worried about what changing start times would mean to their everyday lives—beginning with high-school sports. But given the startling correlation between poor sleep and athletic injuries in teenagers, perhaps those two camps have more in common than they realize.
Interesting article from Teacher Pensions, Why Do Private School Teachers Have Such High Turnover Rates?
Federal data from the National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) offers a potentially surprising revelation: Private school teachers have higher turnover rates than their public school counterparts, and it’s not particularly close.

As the graph shows, the teacher leaver rate is almost twice as high at private schools than it is at public schools. Both have increased over time, but private schools have seen their rates increase even faster. These data call into question many of the common explanations for changes to teacher turnover rates among public school teachers, such as No Child Left Behind, teacher evaluation reforms, or the Common Core. Those reforms, which applied primarily to public schools, simply can't explain the increases in teacher turnover in private schools. (In fact, during the NCLB era, public school teacher turnover did rise a bit, but private school turnover rose even more.)
To note, the rate of teacher turnover at charter schools is also much higher than at regular public schools.  Rate of pay, lack of security and lack of organizing as a group all seem to be factors.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Superintendent's Latest Pep Talk/Boo Hoo on the Budget

On Friday, Superintendent Nyland posted a letter about the budget for the next school year (partial):
Legislative action restored $24 million to our 2017-18 budget. Thanks to the work of central office and the School Board, 88 percent of the restored $24 million went back to support classrooms and academics, including over 200 positions.
Restoration of the $24 million still left a shortfall of $50 million. We prioritized classrooms, restoring all but about 50 positions, which is a 1.5 percent reduction. Central administration was reduced by the greatest percentage amount at 4.7 percent.
The Friday before spring break, central office departments were informed of the specific reductions. These cuts required a combination of closing vacant positions and reducing positions. We have now addressed the $74 million shortfall.

Central teams are still working through the realignment process in order to sustain critical functions, and related department reorganizations will be announced in the next couple of weeks.
Okay, but he left out one huge component to this notice - a link to the budget for all to read.  He says that everyone has been notified so why can't we see what was cut where?  I'd bet the cuts at central are not high level but probably around maintenance or kitchen staff but how are we to know if there's no transparency?  

I see there is a Work Session on the budget on Wednesday from 6:00-7:30 pm so perhaps all will be revealed then.

Mayor Murray and His Record

The mayoral race is picking up steam with the addition of activist Cary Moon to the major candidate group including Mayor Murray, former mayor Mike McGinn, activist Nikkita Oliver.  As for the Mayor's legal problems, I'm sure we will all learn more as the court case goes on but his record is what voters should really look at.

To that end, a guest column from parent/activist Carolyn Leith (SPS parent of two students). 
On November 2, 2015, one day before the general election, Mayor Ed Murray held a press conference on the steps of Olympic View Elementary to promote The Levy to Move Seattle.

Students wore their orange safety patrol vests, parents applauded enthusiastically, and the Mayor promised that a YES vote would mean sidewalks, always promised by the City - but never delivered, would finally be built on 8th Ave. NE.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Message to Legislature: Get Off Your High Horse and Get This Done

An update (partial) from one of my reps from the 43rd, Nicole Macri:
It has become clear that the legislature will need to go into overtime in order to get our work done this year. While making decisions about the state’s two-year budget is complicated, I am disappointed that Senate Republicans haven’t even made a good faith effort to begin negotiating so we could adjourn on time. I know you’re tired of hearing about unproductive partisanship. After just my first legislative session as your representative, I’m already pretty sick of bickering that holds back our important work too. Even House Republicans—admirably, in my opinion—want to sit down and negotiate.
Nonetheless, I feel a need to let you know that Senate negotiators are literally not even sitting down at the table.

They’re just not negotiating.

I receive regular updates from our House budget negotiators, and they report that they’ve had conversations with Senate negotiators about Easter and the weather, but are met with silence when attempting to bring up the important work the legislature needs to do. This regular 105 day session will end with much unfinished business.
end of update
No, the Legislature did not finish on time, and yes, the Governor has called a special session.

From The News Tribune:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Open Thread

Two sad remembrances - Mark Twain died on this day in 1910 and Prince died a year ago.  Both brought great art to our country.

It appears that the Legislature will not be getting their job done of creating a budget that includes fully funding public education.  I'll assume the Supreme Court will sit back and just watch it unfold with the rest of us.  I wish they would actually do something but now all we can do is wait.  I don't think any amount of lobbying or advocating is going to make a whit of difference at this point.

Tom Ahearne, lead counsel for the McClearys, told the Seattle Times that he doesn't have a lot of confidence this will get done properly.  As Kathryn Selk said at the Facebook page of WPD:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Regional Superintendents Send White Paper to Legislature

A letter of interest called "An Educational Funding Position Paper Submitted by the Superintendents of the NW Educational Service District 189 Region" was send to the Governor, State Superintendent Rykdal, and members of the Washington State Legislature on March 23, 2017.

2017-2018 Calendar to be at District Website "Soon"

Thus sayeth Superintendent Nyland at last night's Board meeting.  I would assume "soon" to mean by the end of the week.

He did say it would include holidays and breaks but probably not Early Release days.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tonight's Board Meeting Speaker List

That list is mighty short, just seven people.

You don't need to call in but just show up and ask that your name be added to the list.

Now's a good time to get in there and tell the Board what is troubling you about the district.

Enrollment and Waitlists

By request, a thread on this topic.  Waitlist link.

I'm going to reprint Kellie LaRue's comments to start it (bold/color mine):