Sunday, August 28, 2016

Learn about Folks (FOCs)

I recently interviewed the head of a great group, FOCs, (Families of Color), which is kind of a PEPS for those families.  Amy Pak is the Founder and Executive Director of FOCs.

This is their mission statement:
Families of Color Seattle (FOCS) is dedicated to exploring racism, and engaging in anti-racist work in ways that are accessible to all people and ages. Families of Color Seattle is a safe space for families of color. Anti-racist work is often approached academically – FOCS incorporates art, play, music, food, and community building in their programming, parent groups and community dialogue series to engage parents, educators, and the broader community in anti-racist work.
They offer parenting groups, arts classes and a bilingual pre-school.  

I interviewed Ms. Pak earlier this summer about her work and FOCs.

Budget Meeting Update

 Last week the district had a "community" budget meeting (I was not invited and had only seen it as a one-line note on the district calendar.)  They invited 400 people and 8 came.  Maybe next time they might just invite anyone from any school community.

Luckily the good people from Soup for Teachers sent a rep and here is Jason Rankin's write-up (thank you to him.)  He asks some good questions for the next meeting and hopefully, this thread will generate some more.  (I have to smile as Jason reports that the next meeting is on September 26th from 4-5 pm but it's not even on the district calendar right now.)

I'll just note that on page 17, it states that the district had carryover funds of $31M. I'm sure those are restricted in some way but that seems like a lot of unspent money when there is need in all directions.  As well Sped spending has gone up 10% in three years. Page 31 has all the groups paid thru collective bargaining but I see no slide for the amount spend for administrative jobs.

Also, page 44 has the chart for spending for personnel for middle school.  Does anyone know what the difference is between an assistant principal and a house administrator?

Jason's Notes

Saturday, August 27, 2016

EpiPen - A Story of a Near-Disaster for Many People

You've been following the Epi-pen story, right?  How the price has gone up and up (just as the CEO's salary went up and up?)

Here's a local side to it from KUOW:
One solution to the soaring price of EpiPens: Build a replacement that costs a fraction as much.
Jim Duren of King County Emergency Medical Services told KUOW’s Kim Malcolm that his agency did just that in 2013, building its own injection kit.

Needle Starting to Move on Opportunity Gap

 A truly compelling article from two researchers on what is happening with closing the opportunity gap. (bold mine)
The enormous gap in academic performance between high- and low-income children has begun to narrow. Children entering kindergarten today are more equally prepared than they were in the late 1990s.
From 1998 to 2010, the school readiness gap narrowed by 10 percent in math and 16 percent in reading. The gaps that remain are still vast. But even this modest improvement represents a sharp reversal of the trend over the preceding decades.
It’s worth noting that the gap in school readiness narrowed because of relatively rapid improvements in the skills of low-income children, not because the skills of children from high-income families declined. 

Seattle Schools Selects New Chief of Curriculum and Instruction

From SPS Communications:

Kyle Kinoshita, Ed.D has been selected Chief of Curriculum and Instruction for Seattle Public Schools (SPS). Kinoshita comes to the position after serving as the Executive Director of Learning and Teaching for the Marysville School District for the past nine years.

The SPS Chief of Curriculum and Instruction position is critical to students’ success. The position provides the district expertise and innovative leadership for all phases of department services, including professional development, standards, and assessments, as well as development of a curriculum and instructional delivery service model for schools to ensure direct and system-wide services to students.

Kyle was selected from a field of 21 applicants through a rigorous interview process that included principals, union partners and central office leaders.

One of the most important reasons Kyle applied for the position is that he is a product of Seattle School District’s central and southeast schools including Bailey Gatzert, Muir, Van Asselt and Rainier Beach elementary schools. 
Kyle’s own experience has fueled a lifelong commitment to the achievement of equity and elimination of opportunity gaps. Working to help Seattle school leaders serve the historically underserved is a powerful personal motivator to join the district and accomplish the successful construction of a strong system of learning improvement.

Kyle hopes to develop a deep collaboration around student achievement, the elimination of achievement gaps, and a common language around powerful instruction and rigorous curriculum in all K-12 schools. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Final Last Days Before School Starts

Are you glad summer is ending and school will start soon?  Or are you dreading that getting back to the school routine?  Combination of both?

Let's talk about fixing Highly Capable Services

I don’t know about you all, but I’m pretty tired of every discussion devolving into a non-productive back and forth about highly capable services. The discussions have not been very productive because we have been talking to personalities instead of policies. I would like to try addressing policy.

Here’s the idea: it’s not enough to rail against a policy or procedure. Offer a workable alternative. You think something is done wrong? Tell us how it should be done right – and please be thoughtful enough to consider the costs (if any) and some of the unintended consequences of the change.

We’ll try it for HC services first and, if it goes well, we’ll try it for Advanced Learning.