Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Open Thread: Any Comments or Thoughts?

To start us off, I'm attending the Board of Ed. meeting tonight at North Seattle CC on state graduation requirements. So the questions I have been pondering;

- college-ready versus citizen-ready? Can we really have every student college-ready? Is that too high a goal? What about kids who don't care about being college-ready? Personally, the baseline for me is citizen-ready with the option to be college-ready. As a citizen, you need to know how to take care of yourself. That means applying and interviewing for a job. Being able to manage money and understand net/gross/percentages, etc. Being able to understand the biology of your body and the environment to take care of both. Being able to read, comprehend and do critical analysis of news stories (no matter their source - tv, internet or hard copy). Understanding U.S. and world history so that you know why what goes on in Washington, D.C. matters and how the U.S. and Americans fit into the world and why voting matters.

Then, for those who want to go to college, take the upper level courses to get ready.

-should there be different diplomas? This was mentioned in an article in the PI as something done in other states. I don't know enough myself to comment.

Anyway, lead on with any discussion.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting subject Melissa, and one that is close to my heart.

I think having all kids be college ready by graduation is a big goal. It is true that not all kids want to go to college. Not all kids are going to go to college. Not all kids will even graduate HS.

That said, I am not a fan of allowing our HS kids to skip higher level classes. I am speaking from experience here. My family did not push me to go to college. In fact the financial burden was such that it was preferred that I not go to college. I knew this from early on in HS, and never took any higher level classes. I never took algebra, geometry or calculous. I took business math. I learned how to balance my check book.

I have always felt like I missed out on so much. Now, trying to help my 7th grade honors math student is impossible for me. We go to the after school tutor together, so I can learn to, and help him at home. He will take all of the classes he needs to get into a competitive college.

My point is that kids are to young to make these critical decisions at age 14,15,16 and 17. Not all kids have a supportive family that navigates them through the system, and makes sure they are on track for college. For those students without that support at home, they are making these critical decisions on their own at very early ages.

I think the school owes everyone an equitable education. I don't think every kid can be college ready by graduation. But we could make it so there is a middle ground. Not college ready, but not a "basic" diploma either. Perhaps they can take a certain % of higher level classe, or (1) AP or honors class? Or something like that.

Anonymous said...

This is just a quick question that probably doesn't have anything to do with the topic at hand. Why does the Superintendent sign her name as "Dr. Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D." as I noticed in an earlier post? I've always thought that a title was to be used on one end or the other, but not both ends at the same time. Wouldn't it be enough to just sign off as "Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D."? Then she would be properly addressed as "Dr. Goodloe-Johnson" in person. Otherwise the double title sounds presumptuous. Where's Emily Post when we need her?

Anonymous said...

I know our councilors are over loaded, but I think that when they see a student is not "on track" for college, I think that child should become a priority for them, and they should be councilled thoroughly about their options. I think a councilor should let them know what it takes to get into college, and what life with only a HS diploma is like, and help them through these critical decisions. If the child refuses to take the higher level classes, there's not much anyone (at school) can do about it, sadly. Perhaps there could be an elective class, titled, life with a HS diploma.

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 6:51,

Perhaps the SPS could begin by curtailing social promotion K-8.
Otherwise legions of high school councilors will need to be employed if your plan is followed.

Without attention to D43, D44, & D45 this circus will continue.

Anonymous said...

My point is that kids are to young to make these critical decisions at age 14,15,16 and 17.

If we presume that 14-17 year old kids don't know enough to make critical decisions about their own lives, how on earth do we justify letting them drive at age 16 or vote at age 18? Driving and voting potentially have consequences not just for themselves, but for the entire community. Whether one goes to college or not at least doesn't overtly impact one's neighbors. Are young people expected to be responsible, or are they not? If they are expected to be responsible, then it seems reasonable to expect that they can make their own decisions about college.

Anonymous said...

Yes Dan, because it will be so fabuous to have 16 year old 8th graders driving themselves to middle school.

Anonymous said...

Is it really the responsibility of schools to get our children citizen ready in the way Melissa describes? Shouldn't parents teach their children how to take care of themselves, how to conduct themselves in formal settings such as job interviews and how to be a good, responsible and caring neighbor.
If we presume that schools stick to academics, then there would be time and money to get all kids college ready. Yes, some will choose not to go to college but it will be a choice borne out by their DREAMS and GOALS for themselves and not because they couldn't get through 9th grade math.

Anonymous said...

No. Not all children will be ready or able to go to college. Why would that be a "dream goal"? It's a "dream" on the same order as "I wish to prepare all children to be millionaires." And lots will be millionaires.

Yes, we need citizenship, social skills acquisition, and the learning of respectful behavior.

Anonymous said...

PS. Parents could just as easily teach children "academics", while they were teaching them those other unimportant skills too.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:22, of course we presume that children should be responsible. The problem is most kids are really not that responsible at age 14 or 15. Not responsible or mature enough to make decisions that will greatly affect them for the rest of their lives.

When you look at most of the college ready kids they are no more responsible than the non college ready kids. They just have parents that have pushed them harder and set the bar higher. They have figured out the system and help their kids all along the way. They figure out the test dates, fill out their college applications, pay for SAT study courses, etc. Are these kids more responsible?? I don't think so. I think kids who don't have the over educated, over involved parents are not less responsible, but they are probably less informed and maybe less motivated. The college application process can be overwhelming to say the least. Without parents or councilors to guide them through it, many kids may get lost.

And, just FYI, I don't think the majority of 16 year old kids are mature or responsible enough to drive a vehicle. Just because it is legal doesn't mean that it is always the best choice. It is perfectly legal for a girl to have a baby at age 13. Is a 13 year old responsible enough to care for a baby? Get a job? Support herself? Support a baby? NO, of course not.

I was a kid without a family to navigate me through the college process. As I mentioned earlier, they didn't have the money to send me to college, and let me know it up front. Was I responsible. Yes, very. I worked hard, put myself through a trade school that I could afford on my own, and though I don't make a lot of money, I have always been able to support myself fairly comfortably. Do I regret not going to college? Yes, very much. I wish other kids, especially kids who don't have family support and who know all of their options, had some guidance via the school councilor. Perhaps an elective class on how to navigate the college admissions process, or how to get a scholarship, or other options such as trade schools, the military and so on.And why do we think rich people are going to somehow save our schools, when they actually don't know anything about them. I'm not sure but I think I heard that one of our HS (Rainier Beach maybe??) makes all kids fill out at least one college application. This is definitely a start!

Leslie said...

Pathfinder's Craft Fair is tonight ! Starts at 6 p.m. Kid, parent and staff art for sale at reasonable prices - - Also Pathfinder kids, parents, and staff are making their famous wreaths for sale - $20.00 deluxe w/ beautiful bows for sale at the school, tonight, and at the WS Farmer's Market on Sundays -

Proceeds go to fund outdoor expeditionary learning !

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 8:34 said:
..."Yes Dan, because it will be so fabuous to have 16 year old 8th graders driving themselves to middle school."

Please read the policies before portraying your ignorance (or are you a stock holder in private prisons, who intentionally attempts to mislead the public?)

1. Define grade level necessary skills.

2. Offer effective and timely interventions to children not attaining those skills prior to non-promotion.

The current plan (or lack thereof) has only 58% of students graduating from HS on time.

It appears you prefer the current plan of ignoring board policy and not effectively educating many children. That way they can become lifelong learners at Monroe, Shelton, and Walla Walla.

Thanks for clarifying your positions.

Is this some type of plan to mislead the public from any rational thought. So which of the current school board policies do you think should be continually ignored?

Try some in depth reading and research on SPS results.

grade 3 - 18% pass 0 WASL sections
grade 4 - 12% pass 0
grade 5 - 18% pass 0
grade 6 - 28% pass 0 sections
grade 7 - 18% pass 0
grade 8 - 27.5% pass 0 WASL sections

No I don't think that 27% of eighth grade students would be driving to school if the SPS actually followed their own policies as written. Why do you implicitly express support for SPS administration that continue to ignore their responsibility to effectively intervene and educate the children of our city?

I do think that those who are investors in privately run prisons nation wide will continue to make a nice return on investment. As long as Large Urban School districts continue to keep making poor decisions.

In addition look at the WASL math level 1 percent at grade 8 = 29% not including the approximately 5% who did not test.

SPS is spending approximately $2.2 on academic coaches for teachers of math and yet the SPS has failed to even define required necessary math skills at each grade level as required by board policy. IF YOU SEE ANY WISDOM IN THAT let me know?

Hard to have interventions, when what is important is not defined and math teachers use a curriculum that has so many topics presented in an erratic fashion that many students learn very few topics well.

Anon, it is a lot easier for admin to duck their responsibility to educate children effectively by failing to make well thought out sustainable long-term plans and then implementing them. I am sure there are many at the JSCEE who appreciate your support.

I find your position totally without merit. I certainly understand why you sign in without even a screen name as ANON. I would also if I had positions as unsound as the one you expressed at 8:34

Anonymous said...

The board just passed a policy stating "We will follow all special education laws." It directly conflicts with D43, D44, D45.

So, there's no excuses. You have to teach everyone, all abilities, with the given curriculum. It isn't easy. Sorry you don't like any of those things.

Anonymous said...

So, we have a 180 day school year. But really, the school isn't operating at all until about Novemember. After the WASL's are done, May???, school basically shuts down. May 15 - end, just counting days. That means we really have a 6 month school "year".

When the school year begins, there's no schedule, and everyone's in limbo for at least a month. Reading has to align with LAP programs, specialists have to come at the right time, etc. At curriculum night, (mid Oct), the teacher told us she had just received a new baseline assessment and she would be administering it soon. Excuse me, 6 weeks into the school year is NOT a baseline it should be a progress measurement.

Why can't the school be ready for business when school opens? I have a child in a private school, and they are ready on day 1.

Anonymous said...

I just heard on the radio (KUOW) that the SPS is facing further financial problems, in part because they didn't close Marshall and in part because the district is still losing enrollment -- 400+ kids this year.

Doesn't this seem like it should be a higher priority for the district? The more kids they lose, the fewer resources they get, the narrower the base of support in the community is, the stronger the conventional wisdom against public schools gets. It's a vicous cycle.
--APP Dad

Melissa Westbrook said...

The district has never made any true effort to get back private school parents (which I easily believe they could do, capturing back at least 5+%). Numerous citizens and/or committees have recommended efforts towards this goal but you never see anything happening. The district doesn't track where kids go or come from in any real way. I know for a fact that at least 8 kids at in the freshman class at Roosevelt came from a private Catholic school. It can be done but the district has to want to do it.

One new thing I learned is that the district is realizing a huge amount of maintenance/capital savings by mothballing schools. I noted this in a recent document and I was somewhat startled by the assertion. Perhaps this is where the real savings are, not in the staff savings/overhead savings.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

What do you mean by mothballing schools? Thanks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

By that I mean, that closed schools are not abandoned. The major systems get shut down but they do make sure the roofs are sound, etc. so the buildings do not fall into disrepair and don't attract vandals.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone has done a study surveying kids who drop out of high school to see why they dropped out. In my experience working with high school drop outs, many felt that high school was all about getting ready for college, that no other options were presented to them, and they dropped out because they couldn't do the coursework and didn't want to/couldn't afford to go to college, so what was the point? Scholarships are available to students with good grades who want to go to college, but not to kids who are struggling to pass high school classes and have no idea what they want.

Until education in general becomes a real priority in this country, simply setting the bar higher and higher without support isn't going to help anyone, and it will only make college entrance/attendance more difficult for students. Isn't that already happening?

I think basic graduation requirements should be the same, and colleges can look at kids' transcripts to assess whether or not the classes they took have them "college-ready" for that particular institution. Don't they do that already?

I took algebra and calculus. For some reason, geometry and trigonometry eluded me. If geometry/trig had been required for graduation, I would not have graduated and gone on to complete a masters' degree.

And I truly do not use any advanced math in my daily life. But I sure wish I'd been taught how to file a tax return. Would have saved me two audits in my early adulthood. But I was on the "college track", so did not take consumer math.

To the first person who responded - you are an incredible parent. Your 7th grader will go to college because you are involved and encouraging, unlike what you got in high school. But making graduation impossible for a lot of kids will not get more of them into college. And schools try, but they can't replace a supportive family. And that is not a cop-out, that is just a reality.

dan dempsey said...

From The Baltimore Sun

Fixing schools usually fails
Report on efforts of 3 Urban Maryland districts finds little improvement in decade of trying


By Liz Bowie | Sun reporter
December 6, 2007


Maryland's attempts to turn around its worst schools in the past several years have largely failed, according to a report by a Washington-based nonprofit education research group.

Of the 76 schools labeled failing for at least five years, only 12, or 16 percent, have improved significantly since 2004, the Center on Education Policy found.

"Even in an advanced state like Maryland, that has tried to deal with these problems for a decade ... we just don't know what to do," said Jack Jennings, president of CEP.

The most commonly tried solution - bringing in a turnaround specialist - usually doesn't work, the report said. And a newer option, replacing the teaching staff, has caused disruption but hasn't gotten results.

Maryland is to be commended, Jennings said, for learning from what doesn't work and changing its strategy so that it no longer allows turnaround specialists as an option. The lesson for other states around the nation, he said, is "that we ought to be humble ... that it is a long, hard slog to bring about change, and it is something we just have to keep working at."

CEP took a close look at Maryland because it is one of a handful of states that began a comprehensive testing program in the early 1990s, before the No Child Left Behind Act made that mandatory across the nation. The state had already begun identifying troubled schools when the federal law passed, so school systems here have been experimenting with solutions longer than elsewhere in the country.

The report underlines what is still the prevailing question in education: What should school districts do to fix schools that have long histories of failure? While there are isolated examples of schools that overcome the odds, there has not been an inexpensive solution that has fixed a large number of urban public schools.

Some staffs where there was improvement told the CEP researcher that NCLB is focusing on the wrong issues. They say it wasn't the changes they were forced to make by the state, but other fixes they initiated that made the difference, such as providing tutoring after school and on Saturdays, changing curriculum or providing more training for teachers. And they say that family and socioeconomic issues outside a school's influence can hinder its success.

"Teachers are saying that there is too much emphasis on test-driven accountability and structural changes instead of what they consider the essential elements of education ... the relationship between teachers and students," Jennings said.

On the other side, though, NCLB has kept the pressure on school districts to focus more clearly on how to make schools work better, he said.

CEP hired a researcher who spent more than six months interviewing teachers and principals and analyzing data from the schools in the state that were designated for "restructuring" under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Maryland State Department of Education officials largely agree with the report. "I guess it is a fairly accurate assessment of where we are as a state. We have learned a lot," said Ann Chafin, an assistant superintendent in charge of restructuring schools.

The report looked at schools in Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Baltimore counties as well as Baltimore City, which has 79 percent of all the state's failing schools.

Federal law requires states to order changes in school management when there is a history of failure. If a school district were to refuse to take certain steps to improve its failing schools, the district would jeopardize its federal funds.

Maryland was the first state to attempt to take over failing schools under a plan proposed by state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and endorsed by the state board.

The attempt backfired, and the Maryland General Assembly voted in 2006 to put a moratorium on state takeovers. Grasmick has made no further attempts.

Jennings said most states have not chosen to try to turn their failing schools into charters or to take them over.

Instead, they have chosen other options, many of which have to do with changing who runs the school. School districts can replace a principal with one who is better trained, contract with a private company to run a school or try one of several national models for reforming an entire school.

Chafin said she believed the most popular choice among the options used to be putting in a turn-around specialist, usually a retired principal or someone from the district with expertise in running schools, to help the principal improve the school. Those choices have failed in most cases, Chafin believes, because the schools have deep-rooted problems reaching back many years.

"Any one person walking in the door cannot bring to the table what they need," Chafin said.

State officials say they believe that replacing staff at two schools, Annapolis High and Woodlawn Middle, could prove beneficial even though it caused problems initially. Annapolis High decided to restructure voluntarily, a year before it might have been required to by the state.

"The feedback from the community has been very positive," said JoAnne Carter, deputy state superintendent for instruction.

The report said, however, that administrators complained that the "burden of interviewing candidates left them with no time to act as school leaders, and teachers noted that anxiety over job security superseded academic concerns."

Baltimore City has experimented the most with different options, including turning schools over to new operators, creating charters and breaking down large high schools into small ones.

With so many schools in trouble, the system at first tried to use turn-around specialists. Having another top administrator to act as a second principal helped the school, the principals told the CEP researcher, but it was not enough to improve achievement.

Teachers at Guilford Elementary, for instance, told the CEP researcher that good teachers and small classes in certain grades made more of a difference.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com


Copyright © 2007, The Baltimore Sun

Leslie said...

Melissa,

Re: mothballing schools

I hope to heck SPS does a better job than it did w/ EC Hughes - when we toured it at Pathfinder as a possible solution (it wasn't too small) there were dead crows in the hallway - yes dead crows 4 of them. The lockers had been opened more than a year previous and the contents of trash swept to the floor and left there. There were broken and open windows. The weeds had grown to some 2 feet in the broken asphalt and the neighbors tell us that they had been only killed with chemicals once a year - When the closure committee held its 6 minute meeting there Mark Green was embarrased appalled and astounded at the condition of this "mothballed" school. With thanks to Mr. Green it was souped up almost immediately. But I wonder how many calls the neighbors made and why it hadn't been addressed previously.

Perhaps the SPS can reach out to the neighborhoods regarding maintenance expectations, etc. With Boren being unused this year, let's hope it doesn't also become the unsightly mess it usually is when unoccupied.

Anonymous said...

The district has never made any true effort to get back private school parents (which I easily believe they could do, capturing back at least 5+%).

This dog won't hunt. It's a waste of time, effort, and money, to continue to beat it. It seems that some people have an emotional reaction, or feel deserted, if other people choose private schools. If you want a $15,000 to $25,000 education you simply won't get it in SPS where you get a $3,000 education. ($3,000 might be fine for you, but others want more.) It's totally not clear that it would benefit SPS either. If SPS had 60,000 students instead of 45,000, it wouldn't be any better. It already has all the economies of scale it can use, getting bigger won't make it better or cheaper.

The only worthwhile part of the "oh, let's get them back from private schools" argument is that people in private schools may fail to support funding of public schools since they don't use them. You could consider advocating for legislative options like taxing private schools to pay for public schools, or legislation removing the tax-exempt status of private schools which collect "donations" as a tax-exempt alternative to tuition.

SPS parent by choice said...

My kids have been in both private and public schools in Seattle. Honestly, our experience and quality of education, both in the classroom and out, has been better in public than in private. SPS does not provide less than one fifth the quality of education of a private school, and please do not insult the teachers, administrators or thoughtful parents in SPS by making such a claim.

Anonymous said...

No insult is intended to anyone. My kids also attend both. Mileage varies in public schools. Someone else mentioned it's like buying a car. Yes, exactly. VW's bugs are good, but not everyone wants one. Some people, for whatever reason, buy Maserati's. VW salesmen aren't going to change their minds. Not should they be insulted. Cajoling and planning isn't going to change my mind on placement.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, I said 5%. Of course, you won't get the name brand people (Lakeside, Bush), the religious, the homeschoolers but there are people who would likely love to come back. And, it wouldn't take a lot of effort.

Is it worth it? Yes, because dollars are attached to kids and many private school parents tend to be the types to be involved at their student's school. If we had 15,000 students, it would make a big difference. But you are astute is saying that maybe the district couldn't handle it. I've had my doubts on that issue as well. Maybe that's why they don't try very hard.

However, it could be done.

I also wanted to address the first post in this thread. I hear you. This business of being unrealistic by being idealistic (All Kids Go to College) hurts kids. It hurts because it allows the district to cut way back on vocational ed when they shouldn't. It is no good to say "go to college" if you don't explain what it means and how to do it.

I did go to college and get a degree. But it was hard and I had to do a lot on my own (scholarships, workstudy, jobs). What really would have helped me was better counseling in high school. You just can't put a value on having access to a person to guide you if you don't have it at home. There are too few counselors for too many kids at many high schools and the feedback I get is that some counselors don't encourage reaching high across the board. Everyone may not go to college but you have to tell every single kid about college, what it takes and how they can get there.

Anonymous said...

There's a few things that just seem out of reach of SPS on its limited budget. Low class sizes. Most private schools are around 15 with an aid. Some SPS classes are more than 30. Teacher accessibility. SPS is doing all it can with 1 conference, and don't bother trying talking to anyone after school. No can do! Lack of willingness to engage everyone, where they are. All SPS wants to do is pass the WASL. Laudable, but not great. And totally untenable for many. There's a total lack in personalized education. And finally, lack of predictability. Nobody ever knows where they will be assigned, or re-assigned if it doesn't work out.

You can't just sweep these issues under the rug, and hope you can persuade people that they don't matter. They do matter and there's never progress. If there were a lot of progress on those issues, yes, people would come back.

1964 said...

I agree with the above poster 100% with the exception of teacher accessibility. I have found EVERY teacher that we have had, and we have had many with two children, to go above and beyond to make themselves accessible. They have always been available after school for a meeting, even if I had to wait a couple of days for it to happen. Even in middle school when I didn't know the teachers as well as I did in elementary. Besides meeting with me EVERY time I needed a meeting, they were also very accessible via email and phone. For this I am grateful, as it has made a tremendous amount of difference.

Teachers out there....thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do and all the "extra" that you do!

Happy holidays!!!!

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 8:05 AM said...
The board just passed a policy stating "We will follow all special education laws." It directly conflicts with D43, D44, D45.

So, there's no excuses. You have to teach everyone, all abilities, with the given curriculum. It isn't easy. Sorry you don't like any of those things.


You are absolutely correct I don't like things that do not work.
Do you teach?

Your conclusion is totally untrue that: "So, there's no excuses. You have to teach everyone, all abilities, with the given curriculum."

You apparently understand very little about 504 accommodations or teaching to specific objectives using different materials, and methods.

SPS admin is detached in some areas not only from the reality of how individuals learn but the law and policies as well.

There is absolutely no conflict between the promotion non-promotion policies of the SPS which advocate for effective interventions and special education laws.
I believe to indicate otherwise demonstrates you need further knowledge of both.

Please specifically state where you see the conflict between Special Ed laws and the above mentioned SPS policies.

The idea that everyone 100% of the student population must be taught with the same curriculum at a given grade level indicates you have little knowledge of the disabilities that many children have. I suggest you visit West Seattle HS and visit with teachers Wayne Grytting and Eddie Greenberg and have lunch with their students.
I often did last year. Then reread your 8:05 posting and see if it makes much sense to you because it makes no sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Dan, your pomposity is astounding. Lucky for us, you'll never be elected for anything after all your diatribes.

The curriculum isn't the issue. It just happens to be the subject of your constant whining and excuses. Yes, it's odd that the district seems to have mandated a particular curriculum for 100% of the students, whether or not they are on IEP's, 504's, or not. But that isn't the point... Promotion for students is an IEP issue, not something for a school board to set policy about. So, that is the conflict and issue at hand.

Furthermore, the long winded and apparently unimplementable board policy, states that students can only be "held back" twice. Given that many do kindergarten twice, that leaves "failure to promote" as something that could only happen once. And... failing somebody once would accomplish nothing... because after "failing" a kid... you'd just get them again the next year and be in the exact same boat you were before, when they failed originally. You might consider all the kids that aren't considered 10th graders (sort of... failed 9th graders), to make WASL scores look better. Does this help???? I think not.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon at 9:07,

In the SPS approximately 13% of students are classified as Special Education students. This does not include 504 students. Since a number of special ed students are not mainstreamed at this time let us for the purposes of this example say 80+% of the students in many classes are regular ed students not effected by Special Ed laws.

My point is that effective interventions need to be used by the SPS to educate students having difficulty attaining necessary skills. The policies D43, D45, & D46 require this to be done k-8.

Please explain why a commitment to follow special education laws lets the SPS off the hook for failing to effectively educate a significant portion of the 80+% of those students not effected by Special Ed laws.

Check the WASL scores and check the non-promotions and check the interventions (if you can find any).

Typical insults from an Anonymous poster follow:

Dan, your pomposity is astounding. Lucky for us, you'll never be elected for anything after all your diatribes.

The curriculum isn't the issue. It just happens to be the subject of your constant whining and excuses.


Curriculum is not the issue.
How is effective education going to take place without a good curriculum?
Excuses for what?

You are 100% correct that I have great concerns about extremely poor SPS curricular choices.
If you view that as being a whiner, then I am extremely proud to be one.

dan dempsey said...

Let us consider the following from the Economist article on McKinsey & Co.:

.... recommendations based on the PISA findings. Schools, it says, need to do three things: get the best teachers; get the best out of teachers; and step in when pupils start to lag behind. That may not sound exactly “first-of-its-kind” ......: schools surely do all this already? Actually, they don't. If these ideas were really taken seriously, they would change education radically.

So MG-J is in favor of spending $750,000 on a consulting firm, who in the recent past has advocated for the same effective interventions that the SPS fails to provide by ignoring D43, D44, & D45.

dan dempsey said...

More from The Economist on McKinsey:

Lastly, the most successful countries are distinctive not just in whom they employ so things go right but in what they do when things go wrong, as they always do. For the past few years, almost all countries have begun to focus more attention on testing, the commonest way to check if standards are falling. McKinsey's research is neutral on the usefulness of this, pointing out that while Boston tests every student every year, Finland has largely dispensed with national examinations. Similarly, schools in New Zealand and England and Wales are tested every three or four years and the results published, whereas top-of-the-class Finland has no formal review and keeps the results of informal audits confidential.

But there is a pattern in what countries do once pupils and schools start to fail. The top performers intervene early and often. Finland has more special-education teachers devoted to laggards than anyone else—as many as one teacher in seven in some schools. In any given year, a third of pupils get one-on-one remedial lessons. Singapore provides extra classes for the bottom 20% of students and teachers are expected to stay behind—often for hours—after school to help students.

--------------
Is increased mainstreaming the answer in the SPS? Perhaps but how much and into what programs?

How about more rational thought first.