Friday, August 31, 2007

WASL Results

Hello

This article was in the P-I today about the WASL results.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/329675_wasl31.html

Here is a quote from the article:

Despite the delay and "mixed messages" from the Legislature, Bergeson said, just over 60 percent of the class of 2008 who took the WASL passed in all three subjects.

"The train wreck everybody has been imagining isn't going to happen," she said.

I will have to respectfully disagree with Superintendent Bergeson. The possibility that 40% of the students in the class of 2008 may not graduate is a train wreck of unprecedented proportions.

Another quote from the article:

For now, students who fail the math exam will have to complete a state-approved alternative assessment or take additional math courses.

This kind of glosses over what the requirements are. The students will need to do a Collection of Evidence that is very difficult (I know because I have taken the training and have done the problems). If the students take additional math courses their is a complex formula that determines what the students' grade has to be. In general it will have to be a "B", but it will depend on many factors. Both of these requirements are very difficult and in reality, the easiest way for a student to get their diploma is to meet standards on the WASL.

Both of these alternatives are designed for students students who are doing well in school, but have not been able to pass the WASL, but are close. The question I have is what is being done to help the students who are struggling in school and no where near close to passing. No one seems to be talking about those students what is being done to help them. Are we just going to let them fall to the wayside. The SPS has large numbers of these students in its high schools and it seems as if the state and district has punted on these students and left the individual schools figure what to do with them.



Thursday, August 30, 2007

Confidence

In the thread about the Times editorial, I wrote something that I want to bring forward for discussion. I wrote that despite all of the talk around restoring or building public confidence in the District, I'm not sure what people mean when they say "confidence", but that I thought they meant "trust". I wrote about four types of trust that are missing:

1) People don't trust the District to provide their child with a quality education.

a) Large WASL failure rates for poor and minority students

b) No apparent plan for closing the academic achievement gap

c) A math curriculum that doesn't appear effective or coherent

d) Perceived lack of support for students working beyond Standards


2) People don't trust the District to protect their child's safety.

a) Inaction and stonewalling on water quality issues

b) Inaction and stonewalling on mold/air quality issues

c) Inaction and non-reporting on sexual assualt at Rainier Beach

d) Inaction on student behavior violations

3) People don't trust the District to speak the truth.

a) The constant stream of lies from the District staff - too numerous to list
i) How many statements have you heard, only to have them proven false later?
ii) If you're active in any community, have you heard more lies or truth?

b) The difficulty in getting people to talk to you in the first place

c) The corrupt processes
i) Program placement
ii) Student assignment, particularly waitlist order
iii) Budgets for schools - if schools have lots of money in their budgets, why don't they have resources in their buildings?

d) Decisions driven by political considerations instead of academic goals

4) People don't trust the District to fulfill commitments.

a) The multitude of unkept promises - too numerous to mention.
i) In my observation, many more promises are broken than kept. Not a single promise to the Advanced Learning community has been kept in six years.
ii) How many promises made to YOUR community have been kept?

b) The voiding of all commitments upon changes in personnel

c) The Ronco Goal Process - set it and forget it

d) The lack of action in action items - note how many District "action items" have non-action verbs such as "start to", "develop a plan for", "continue", "prepare", etc.

Moreover, I wrote that despite all of the talk about restoring or building confidence, I wasn't hearing people say:

1) What exactly they mean by confidence
2) How the confidence was lost
3) How the confidence can be restored

I wrote a bit on these topics, but that could have been me going off on my own. I'd really like to read what other folks think about the confidence issue. What do the Superintendent and the candidates mean when they speak of confidence? How was that confidence lost? How can we get it back?

The Superintendent's PowerPoint on the Entry Plan had this slide:

"Purpose: Increase Confidence in Seattle Public Schools

* Clarify and widely communicate expectations for accountability and improvement
* Analyze data from the entry plan; share outcomes and plans for improvement
* Introduction to staff and the Seattle community
"

If these three things are achieved, will she be able to increase confidence in Seattle Public Schools?

Several board candidates have made increased confidence their goal. How have they defined confidence, how have they said they can build it?

Is there a confidence crisis? What do you all think?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Student Learning Committee

I caught the end of the Student Learning Committee this evening and heard a bit of the discussion on the Program Placement Policy that is in development.

The Policy may be teamed with a procedure, but it might not. The Board may simply leave the details to the Superintendent. The Policy will require that programs be equitably distributed across the district, the programs be placed close to the students' homes, that communities and stakeholders be engaged regarding program placements, that there be some analysis of impacts, and that the placement serve District-wide academic goals. Every program placement proposal - regardless of source - must meet the same criteria for acceptance.

The struggle here is between the need for central control to provide equitable access and the history of local control. For example, if the District decides that a school should have a Spectrum program is it okay for the principal at the school to reject it? On the other hand, if a school wants a Spectrum program but the new program would split a cohort into pieces too small to form viable programs, should the District allow it? There are a number of ALO programs north of downtown, but very few of them south of Downtown. Can the District compel a school to form one to provide equitable access to ALOs?

Beyond that, what if the programs are poorly administered or starved of resources? There is no program quality review, no real accountability there. What if the school or the District tries to launch a program, but it just doesn't take off?

Most program placement decisions are about special education and bilingual programs. How will the District prevent the concentration of these programs if the populations are concentrated?

Lots of questions. The staff has been given the goals of the Policy and will take the first swipe at writing it.

Would Education Be Better Off Being Like Health Care?

This post has been awhile coming. This blog has been accused of neglecting the issue of privatization of public education. My take has been that Beth Bakeman created this blog out of school closures and from then we have been focused on many issues locally. Also, this state has turned back charter schools three times and I don't know that many people have it on their radar.

So what brought me here was an column by Paul Krugman in the NY Times. (Unfortunately there was no permalink for it so read it while you can.)

There is a conservative think-tank called the Heritage Foundation. It, naturally, believes that private industry can provide better services than government institutions can. Mr. Krugman asks the question,

"Suppose, for a moment, that the Heritage Foundation were to put out a press release attacking the liberal view that even children whose parents could afford to send them to private school should be entitled to free government-run education.

They’d have a point: many American families with middle-class incomes do send their kids to school at public expense, so taxpayers without school-age children subsidize families that do. And the effect is to displace the private sector: if public schools weren’t available, many families would pay for private schools instead.

So let’s end this un-American system and make education what it should be — a matter of individual responsibility and private enterprise."

And, we'd all say, what?

But, that is what the Heritage Foundation is saying, in a press release, about expanding health coverage for children.

Mr. Krugman continues,

"The truth is that there’s no difference in principle between saying that every American child is entitled to an education and saying that every American child is entitled to adequate health care. It’s just a matter of historical accident that we think of access to free K-12 education as a basic right, but consider having the government pay children’s medical bills “welfare,“ with all the negative connotations that go with that term."

So where does this lead the discussion? Well, you don't have to be a particularly deep thinker to see that if health care is privatized, what is the next big government program that can be privatized? Where are there huge sums of money to be made? Education.

How do we get there? Well, if we set up a national mandate to test students then we will have a huge system of creating tests, administering tests and scoring tests. Then, we'll have to have tutoring for those behind and, if those schools don't meet AYP, new governance. Meaning, charters or privatization. Is there money to be made in all these activities? Yes.

Okay, do I believe this is all true? Yes. Do I believe that conservatives don't care about education? No, I think they do but the leaders clearly have an agenda that may not register with the public.

We are in Washington state where we don't - for the most part - argue about teaching sex education or evolution and we don't have charter schools. But it doesn't mean that it isn't happening elsewhere and it's important to realize that it is happening. We have to decide in this country what public education means before the decision is made for us.

Defibrillators in Every School?

This article appeared in the Times and the PI about a study by Harborview on the usefulness of having defibrillators at every school (as some states are mandating). But, of course, it costs money for both the machine and the training. The article points out that adults are more likely to have heart attacks than children and it is more likely to occur at a middle or high school.

I have never heard discussion of this by either the District or the Board. Of course, it only takes one sad death to make people wonder about needing them.

FYI

SAMA Holds Parent Information Night About Substance Abuse: On September 27, 2007

SAMA (The Science and Management of Addictions Foundation) will hold its first Parent Information Night, Parents

Are You Concerned About Your Teen's Substance Use? The event, to be held from 6-8 p.m. at Seattle Central Community College, will feature experts in the field of addiction who will address what parents need to know about the effects of alcohol and other drugs on adolescent brain development. In addition, parents will learn how to get support for themselves and their teens who may be having problems with substance use. Subsequent Parent Information Nights will be held around King County and will focus on a variety of topics concerning youth addiction and family support and advocacy. To attend the September 27th event please RSVP by September 12th to:

parentnight@samafoundation.org or (206) 328-1719. To learn more about SAMA, visit www.samafoundation.org

(This is not a School or PTSA sponsored event. )

Monday, August 27, 2007

African-American Academy

This article appeared in today's Times about the African-American Academy. The reporter, Emily Heffter, certainly did talk to a lot of people who created the Academy with some interesting quotes. One parent who spoke said:

"As a parent, Linda Kennedy helped establish the school and enrolled her son in 1991 as a first-grader. After two years, she left — "heartbroken" but unwilling to risk her son's education for the vision of an African-American school. The academy seemed doomed by a mediocre teaching corps, tension between two principals sharing a building and lukewarm district support, she said. She enrolled her son in private school.

When the principal asked her to stay, she said, she told him: "This is my child. I can't experiment with him ... I need a school that's going to work now."

She wasn't the only one. She said middle- and upper-class parents "left in droves." "

Despite the years of mediocrity, here's what Carla Santorno says,

"Now, as part of a new commitment to boost low-performing schools in the South End, the district is pledging $462,769 this year — enough for six teachers to the academy, along with a math coach and a reading coach. If the school doesn't show progress over the next few years, the district may close it.

"We are making that change, putting the supports in, holding them accountable, and if that doesn't work, we have to look at other options," said Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno.

"Letting it limp along is a mistake we've made." "

Blandly saying we have to look at other options is an understatement. The District is lining itself up to have something of the same problem down the road with New School if the New School Foundation should choose to end its funding. New School, while on firmer ground than AAA, will have its first 4th grade WASL scores out soon. If the District finds itself with two struggling K-8s just over a mile from each other, they have no one to blame but themselves.

The former AAA principal, Rickie Malone, had this to say,

"Departing principal Malone, 57, has now retired for the second time. She was among a group of African-American educational leaders who first posed the possibility of an academy in the late 1980s. She still has "a mighty hope" for its success, she said. But she's moving out of state to escape the school's politics. She's baffled by the school's marginal academic success.

"It's pitiful," she said of the school's test scores. "I'm the first one to say that. We're not doing what we truly believe we can." "

And the new principal, Christ Carter, had this to say,

"As for Carter, the vision he casts for the academy is remarkably similar to the one the school's founders cast nearly two decades ago: a model of how to teach black students, a haven where students are supported and free to succeed.

"Failure is just not an option," he said, adding: "I don't think it's rocket science to make significant gains." "

Both are worrisome statements because it sounds like one didn't know what to do and the other thinks it's an easy path. Again, all we can do is sit back and see what Ms. Santorno and Dr.Goodloe-Johnson do and how long they will give AAA to right its ship.

Times' Editorial Today

The Times printed this editorial today about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. They want the same specifics that I have previously posted about. I agree; it is very early in her tenure and we need to give her time to learn about our district. It's just interesting that they, too, would like to hear more.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Interesting Op_Ed in the Washington Post

A reader recommended an op-ed that appeared in the Washington Post by Patrick Welsh, Labels Aren't What Kids Need". I checked it out and thought it quite interested if a bit scattered. Basically, it is about the needs of gifted kids being on hold while the teachers focus on their state test. (This is for schools in Alexandria, Virginia.)

I think our system is fairer than theirs and their superintendent's remarks "that the students at the top of the regular classes -- i.e., the white kids who didn't get into TAG -- will help to "challenge, mentor and coach" the students struggling with the SOL material" are very sad and I don't believe reflect senior management here.

But the article's focus on when we stick labels on kids is problematic deserves some thought. I know many parents dislike Special Ed because of the stigma that label creates and why should that be so if it is to help students? Do gifted kids get lazy if they think they are "smart" and yet don't challenge themselves or fall apart at a challenge?

Disappointing Message from Dr. Goodloe-Johnson

So I have my first, albeit minor, disappointment with the new superintendent. I received my SPS calendar (did you get yours yet?) yesterday. On the very first page is Dr. G-J's message. Frankly, I had expected something different and yet it could be Raj's or Olchefske's or any superintendent's.

One rather startling thing she says is "Seattle Public Schools is in a position of strength, both financially and academically." Then, she spends a paragraph explaining why we are financially and one sentence why we are academically. Raise your hand if you think SPS is in a position of strength academically. I'm all for high expectations and positive thinking but this is unrealistic.

She says in one paragraph:

"Standardized curricula, professional development, rigorous evaluation, and clearly communicated plans for improvement are among our top areas of focus." (Rigorous evaluation of students or the teaching methods or the curricula or all three?) On the facing page, though, it says the "Themes" of SPS are (I'm going to shorten them slightly):
  • effective, highly qualified teachers for every student
  • rigorous core curriculum, assessments and instructional resources, aligned to standards
  • focused District work to eliminate the achievement gap and disproportionality through the use of culturally competent strategies
  • Effective service to all students, including those with special needs such as special ed, bilingual and advanced learners
  • Rigorous program evaluation to understand what works
They are similiar lists but not the same. And themes? What happened to goals?

Bellevue School District has a mission statement which is:

"To provide a top-of-the-line college preparatory program to all students"

Dr. G-J has, below her signature, what I will assume is SPS's mission statement:

"Every student achieving, everyone accountable."

It doesn't take any real brain power to see the difference and what that difference makes everyone involved in education in Seattle. Every student achieving what? Everyone accountable? Parents? How? Teachers? How?

Below, I'm going to insert here something I posted elsewhere because I think it speaks to what I am attempting to say about the lack of focus here.

I'm reading a book called "Made to Stick" (Chip Heath and Dan Heath). They wrote it as something as a companion to the book "The Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point was about "the forces that cause social phenomena to make the leap from small groups to big groups". So there's three sections: need to get the right people, the "stickiness factor" and the need for right context.

The brothers Heath are interested in the stickiness factor. They are interested in "how effective ideas are constructed and what makes some stick and some disappear".

I am only in the first chapter but it's a good example of what we seem to want from the district administration. They start with the example of the Army. There is a multitude of planning steps that occur before a soldier takes action. But "no plan survives contact with the enemy"; meaning, things change once you take action on the plan.

So what to do? They use a concept in the Army called the Commander's Intent (CI). It is "a crisp, plain-talk statement that appears at the top of every order that specifies the plan's goal and end-state of an operation."

So, in essence, there is never so much detail in any CI that the forces of war, weather or any other element can change it. So the Army recommends two things that officers think about the CI:

"If we do nothing else during tomorrow's mission,we must _______."

"The single, most important thing that we must do tomorrow is ______>"

One version of their "no plan survives contact with the enemy" is "no lesson plan survives contact with teenagers".

The idea is to KSS - keep it simple, stupid. You don't weed out ideas because they aren't important but they aren't the MOST important. Eye on the prize. In their words, "it's about elegance and prioritization, not dumbing down."

In all my years of following the district and the different reports, initiatives and ideas, I have not seen a central focus from the district. A CI that is carried out every day. That's what's missing. That's what I want Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson to do and hold every single district employee to. IMHO, that's how we will make real and discernable progress.

Dr. G-J does get one thing right; she says we are at a wonderful opportunity at this moment in SPS. She seems to be getting off on the right foot in tone, the Board will have some changes come November (and change of any sort seems to be what the public wants, rightly or wrongly) and SPS is on good financial footing. We need a clear CI intent from her.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Update on the NCLB rankings for WA State Schools

This update just appeared on the Seattle Times' website. It is disturbing to say the least but not surprising given the strict NCLB requirements. We should all keep that in mind. Many schools do well in nearly all categories but can be docked if they fail in one area.

Ballard, Garfield, South Lake and West Seattle are all at a Step 2 level. Aki Kurose, AAA, Franklin, Ingraham, Madison and Mercer have all been moved to Step 4 (the most critical). OSPI says these are "preliminary" status reports and may be adjusted.

Getting the fine details would really help me to understand how serious this is. I hope the District provides them to families and the public.

Another City and their Racial Tiebreaker

This article appeared in this week's NY Times. It is about the city of White Plains, NY and their use of race to equalize their schools. Here's how it works:

"In 1989, White Plains, tired of perennially gerrymandering for racial balance, began a “controlled choice” plan that essentially jettisoned neighborhood zones and required each school to have the same proportions of blacks, Hispanics and “others,” a term that includes whites and Asians. The plan allowed for a discrepancy among schools of only 5 percent. Similar plans had been adopted in Cambridge and Fall River, Mass., and copied by Milwaukee, San Jose, Calif., and dozens of other cities.

White Plains’s plan takes pains to give parents genuine choices. In January and February, parents of entering kindergartners visit elementary schools and rank their top three picks. A family will get first choice, which 90 percent of families do, unless the number of applicants of that child’s race exceeds certain caps, which at a school with 100 kindergartners might be 13 blacks, 46 Hispanics, and 41 “others.”

Should that happen, a lottery is held for all students in that racial group, with assigned numbers on colored slips of paper picked out of a basket at a public meeting. Remaining kindergartners get second choice or, rarely, third.

Buses are provided for students living more than half a mile from school. The plan also balances assignments at the two campuses of the middle school."

White Plains' district has roughly 7,000 students so, of course, it isn't Seattle. But it is an interesting article about a city that has made it work for 18 years. (I would love to see a Board meeting where slips of paper were picked out of a basket. That's very Lake Wobegan.)

Something That Should Be On the District's Radar

This article appeared in this week's NY Times. It is about NYC's efforts, among the first in the country with large sums of money attached, to help drop-outs finish high school without being in a class with 14-year olds (and all the embarassment/problems therein).

I loved this story from the article:

"For those who work with these students, one of the most difficult tasks is convincing them that they can, and should, finish high school. “These are students who are really frustrated and ready to be out,” said Edita Volovodovskaya, who runs the John Adams Young Adult Borough Center, which is attached to John Adams High School. “But it takes a lot of work. They weren’t always willing to take a full load; they weren’t always willing to show up to class.”

That was precisely how David Dorsey behaved when he first started at the center. He was already 19 and half-heartedly thought he would have another shot at a diploma. But there were long stretches when he did not bother to show up. Then his phone would begin to ring. His counselor, a social worker from a local community center, called every day that he was absent.

“Finally I decided to pick up the phone, and this woman is on the other end saying, ‘Where are you? Get in here,’ ” Mr. Dorsey said. “I just decided to show up to get her off my back — otherwise she was going to be on my phone bill a lot.” He graduated at 21 and has now finished a semester at La Guardia Community College."

That's a teacher/administrator for you; someone who cares enough to want you to get he or she off your back. Even if this young man doesn't finish community college, that social worker taught him a good life lesson.

Family and Community Engagement Coordinator

The District has finally hired a Family and Community Engagement Coordinator, Bernardo Ruiz. He was, recently a Bilingual Facilitator at the Bilingual Family Center (located at Aki Kurose) and a Bilingual Instructional Assistant at Cooper Elementary School. It also appears that he was a Career Link Student Assignment Facilitator in the CTE department.

Mr. Ruiz does not yet appear on the web site anywhere on the pages for Families and there was no press release about his hiring, but he's got the job, he's there and he's working on the School-Family Partnerships Plan.

Article in P-I

Hello

This article was in the P-I this morning. I just have to say that this is a huge problem. I am a member of the Transition Math Project ans we are working very had to align what we teach in high school to what the colleges need to students to know when they enter as Freshman. I found the statement from Ms. Whitney to be very telling.

From the article: Whitney, 19, had a hard time in high school, attending three different public schools in Seattle before graduating last year.
When she enrolled at Seattle Central last fall, she was placed in a beginning math course. She admits that she didn't take her studies very seriously in high school, but now she is trying to learn something at the community college.

There are too many students who share the same attitude that Ms. Whintey had in high school. I don't know why this is, but too many students get to high school and for whatever reason don't have the desire or work ethic or understand why education is important. It is one of the biggest battles I face.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/328864_math24.html

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Superintendent's Entry Plan

You can view the Superintendent's Entry Plan on the District web site.

The purpose of the Entry Plan is to increase confidence in Seattle Public Schools by

- clarifying and widely communicating expectations for accountability and improvement
- analyzing data, sharing outcomes and plans for improvement
- introductions to staff and the Seattle community

Obviously it isn't possible for her to do any of the first two. She hasn't had time to form any expectations, analyze data, produce outcomes, or make plans. So far, the Entry Plan, which runs through January 2008, has exclusively featured the third of those purposes. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has been on a meeting tour of Seattle.

I believe that she has met with the media, the Board, the District Senior Staff, the local political leadership, and will be visiting the schools over the course of the coming year. By my reckoning, she should be starting to meet with community leaders now. These include:
* Parent groups
* Unions and other professional groups
* Philanthropic groups
* Business groups
* Faith-based groups
* Community based organizations

The purpose of the community group meetings is to build understanding, support, and establish means of regular communication. I presume that the understanding, support, and communication will be in both directions.

I also presume that these meetings will be with the PTA, the various District-appointed advisory committees (Alternative ed, APP, Spectrum, Special Ed, Bilingual, BEX oversight, etc.), the Alliance for Education (she will be on the Board), various Seattle Rotary groups (she will probably join #4) and assorted Chambers of Commerce. She may - or may not - also meet with CPPS, CEASE, SOS, the Urban League, and the NAACP.

Though it ranges dangerously close to gossip, I must admit that I am interested to know how many community groups she will meet with, which ones, and when. So, if for no other reason than to satisfy my idle curiosity, please report any Dr. Maria sightings.

Thank you!

Student Assignment Plan Update

This update on the Student Assignment Plan was posted today.

Why Bother with Stakeholders

I have been a close observer of Seattle Public Schools for over six years. During that time I have seen how most of the District's decisions are made and I can report that the District's decision-making is dysfunctional. By that, I mean that it doesn't work.

I mean that as objectively as I can.

Near as I can reckon, a decision should have two qualities. First, it should be a good decision - one that solves the problem in a cost-effective way without creating too many new problems. Second, it should be decisive - it should resolve the question. A great number of the decisions that I have seen from the District fail to demonstrate one or both of these qualities.

Setting aside for the moment the quality of the decisions - and there have been some real stinkers - I would like to address the District's difficulty in bringing issues to resolution with their decisions. I believe they have not been able to achieve resolution because they routinely fail to gain the support of stakeholders. The District's decisions have typically been unilateral, top-down and dictatorial. They are certainly free to make their decisions this way; the District's structure puts all of the authority at the top in the hands of a few. Those people are under no obligation to seek counsel from stakeholders - let alone seek consensus from them. No wonder they figure that it is just easier and quicker for them to gather their own information, use their own process, and make the decision on their own.

What they neglect to consider are the consequences of their choice not to involve stakeholders in the decision, their choice not to try to sell the decision to the stakeholders, their choice not to even explain or, sometimes, even inform stakeholders of the decision. The usual consequence is opposition to the decision from the stakeholders. It don't take Dale Carnegie to figure that out.

Perhaps they think that over time the stakeholders, usually students, families, and teachers, will drop their opposition and accept the decision. They are wrong. The stakeholders persist in their opposition. The stakeholders persist because they know four things:

1) The stakeholders are often called upon to implement the decision so they can actively oppose it through their refusal to implement it.

2) The stakeholders can make life miserable for the decision-makers by going over their head and kicking up a fuss.

3) The stakeholders can make life miserable for the decision-makers because they have to continue to work together and this sort of unilateral decision-making poisons the relationship.

4) Most of all, the stakeholders know that they will be around much longer than Central Staff people, so they will simply keep the issue open and hope to have it overturned by the decision-maker's replacement, whom we can expect in the short-term.

It is this fourth one that strikes me the strongest. In just over six years of involvement, I have seen three superintendents, three chief academic officers, four chief operating officers, countless chief financial people, at least two Board members from each District (three from one of them), and four different managers of Advanced Learning.

Compare those average tenures of two or three years with the thirteen years that a student will be a stakeholder, the sixteen years that a family with two kids might be a stakeholder, or the twenty years that a teacher might be a stakeholder. The stakeholders are the ones with the long-term involvement - not the decision-makers. We can wait them out.

So if the new Superintendent, as part of her 100 days of listening, were to ask me about the issues in Advanced Learning, I would include on the list a lot of issues that appear decided and that should have been decided, but continue to be open issues because the stakeholders have not accepted the decisions. The problem isn't just the poor quality of the decisions - and, really, some of these decisions are just plain wrong and absolutely undefensible - but the utter lack of effort to win stakeholder approval. I would go further - the apparent contempt for stakeholder approval.

Those who would seek stakeholder input and approval run the risk of being accused of "interminable Seattle process" or "caving in to the mob". I would suggest that the interminable process is having your decisions fought for years after they were made and then re-decided by your successors for years after you are gone.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Election Results

It looks like it will be Darlene Flynn facing Sherry Carr in District 2 this November. In District 6, it will be Steve Sundquist versus Maria Ramirez. If Lisa Stuebing had pulled in another 150 votes, Darlene would have been defeated. That's a close race.

Here are the numbers (so far)
Sherry Carr - 1,919
Darlene Flynn - 1,368

Steve Sundquist - 2,956
Maria Ramirez - 1,374

There were about 700 more votes cast in District 6 than District 2. I don't know if that means District 2 voters weren't as interested or if the District 6 race was hotter. Maybe people in SW Seattle just vote more.

For Darlene Flynn, it's not good news. She should have pulled in more people from her own district but maybe she has greater broad support citywide. Sherry Carr should do fairly well because she has done work throughout the district and likely has better name recognition than other candidates might have.

Steve Sundquist pulled in huge support but again, that's in his district. It will be interesting to see how that race plays out citywide.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Assignment Plan meeting

There will be a drop-in meeting on the New Assignment Plan from 4-6pm on Wednesday, August 22 at the JSCEE, Room 2772. That's tomorrow for those who read this the day I post it. I can't be there due to work obligations.

Here are some questions that I would love for someone to ask:

1. What are the capacities for the various school buildings? There are numbers in the Facilities Master Plan, but they do not appear reliable. There are other numbers in the CAC reports, but we don't know if they are reliable either. The question appears more straight-forward in elementary schools than at middle and high schools, but even in the elementary schools the answer depends on programmatic decisions.

2. What are the sizes of the various special programs in schools? How big is the biotech program at Ballard? How many students does it take to make a viable Spectrum program in elementary and middle school? How many students are needed to form complete programs of other types? If we are going to set aside seats for these programs, we need to know how many seats to set aside.

3. What are the effective reference areas for each school? For the schools that were oversubscribed, how big was the circle that defined the limit of the distance tie-breaker? This is particularly important for identifying those parts of the district effectively without a reference area school.

Vote, Vote, Vote

Today is Primary Day. If you didn't get an absentee ballot, get thee down to the polling place. Let's defy expectations of a low turnout.
(Anybody remember that jump rope rhyme that goes, "Vote, vote, vote for Mary, in comes Mary at the door, door, door, door....?)

Sidewalks for All

This article on the lack of sidewalks in some parts of Seattle appeared in today's Times. I know the lack of sidewalks around Hale can be troubling. You have to be really careful driving there around the opening and closing of school. The article also says it is problematic around Franklin. I was surprised by this sentence:

"Like Seattle, Olympia has hired a consultant to conduct an inventory so it knows exactly how many streets do not have sidewalks."

The City doesn't know this already? Somehow it seems like basic information.

Does anyone else know of a school area that lacks sidewalks?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Picking a Major...in High School?

This article about students having to pick a major in high school appeared in Friday's NY Times. This is of interest because I recall that Roosevelt was thinking seriously of this idea a couple of years back. It never materialized but I don't know why. Also, the number of states starting to mandate this format is growing. From the article:

"Debra Humphreys, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Colleges and Universities, called high-school majors “a colossally bad idea,” saying youngsters should instead concentrate on developing a broad range of critical thinking and communication skills.

“Today’s economy requires people to be constantly learning and changing,” Ms. Humphreys said. “A lot of jobs that high school students are likely to have 10 years from now don’t yet exist, so preparing too narrowly will not serve them well.”

Despite such naysayers, a number of school districts around the country are experimenting with high school majors, an outgrowth of the popular “career academies” that have become commonplace nationally, and in New York City, over the past decade. But while many career academies simply add a few courses to a broad core curriculum, majors require individual students to make a more serious commitment to a particular educational path."

Florida has passed a law requiring 9th graders to pick from 400(!) career choices and South Carolina has done the same with 16 career choices.

Oddly, some seem to perceive that this course of action will help kids get into college. From the article:

"“This is like the middle-class version of what affluent families have been doing for years,” said Mitchell Stevens, an associate professor of education and sociology at New York University, who sees the move as a way for public schools to provide a broader menu of educational choices. “They tailor academic instruction around the needs and desires of their children in order to encourage them to do well in school.”

There's one example in the article which spells real trouble to me. It's one school has a magnet school within a school, both offering majors. Problem is, here's the majors for the larger school:
-sports management, fine and performing arts, health sciences, international studies and global commerce, communications and new media and or liberal arts
and for the magnet school (i.e. for the high achieving kids)
-engineering, law and public safety, biomedicine, finance, and information systems

See a difference? And guess (c'mon, take a wild guess) which is the most popular at the larger school? Yes, it's sports management.

And if, at 13, you made a bad choice of major?

"Two years ago, Akelia applied to the magnet program’s law and public safety academy because she wanted to be a lawyer. But after finding many of the legal cases boring and hard to relate to, she was unable to take classes in other fields because she was locked into her specialization.

“Now I wish I had probably gone to another academy because I like computers,” said Akelia, who is 16 and starting her junior year. “When you’re 13, you don’t realize how much work you have to put in to be a lawyer. It’s not like you just go to court, and win or lose, you make a lot of money.” "

I did call UW Admissions and the woman I spoke to said unequivocally, no that it doesn't matter to them if a student had a major in high school. She hadn't even heard of it. I'm thinking it probably doesn't matter much to other institutions. I think admissions officers care about focus in terms of getting good grades and having focused interests (a couple instead of belonging to every club at school).

Whatever good you could get out the programs is negated by the bad. I hope we don't see this soon in our district or state.

East or West, Home is Best

Great news! According to a survey by the AP and MTV news, young people between 13-24 like being with their family best. This from an article appearing in the PI today. From the article:

"Spending time with family was the top answer to that open-ended question, according to an extensive survey -- more than 100 questions asked of 1,280 people ages 13 to 24 -- conducted by The Associated Press and MTV on the nature of happiness among America's young people.

Next was spending time with friends, followed by time with a significant other. And even better for parents: Nearly three-quarters of young people say their relationship with their parents makes them happy."

A lot of kids in those age groups especially middle/high school like to act as if family is the last thing on their minds. Turns out it's the first.

Funding Lawsuit Finally Hits Court This Week

This article appeared in today's Times. From the article:

"A coalition of teachers, parents, community groups and school districts will argue in King County Superior Court this week that the state has not been spending enough on public education and should be required to totally revamp the way it pays for schools.

The state will argue at the hearing set for Friday morning before Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas that it has met the requirements of a similar lawsuit 30 years ago and that the court should not allow this case to derail Washington's efforts to change the system."

One of the key's here is that the state attorney general will be arguing the state IS meeting the requirements as put forth by the Legislature 30 years ago. You'd think, 30 years later, that the educational duties that the state is supposed to meet as the paramount duty of the state (as stated in our constitution) might have changed or needed to be tweaked.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bravo Broadway Bound and RBHS for Dreamgirls

This article appeared in today's Times about the Broadway Bound production of Dreamgirls. I have only the highest regard for BB and their standards. They determined they would pay the kids involved in the production but only if they were on-time (docked their pay if not) and kept the high standards for BB (lost their role if they didn't). It's about demanding excellence and this kind of expectation should follow them to the classroom. Things like being on time, listening to directions, following directions, are all life basics that help kids succeed (who was it that said half of life is just showing up?).

Re the district:

"Cleveland doesn't put on musicals. Rainier Beach has for the past two years, a labor of love by a young English teacher doing her best with a budget of a few thousand dollars."

And then later in the article:

"That was one of the main reasons for building the theater in the first place, says Michelle Jacobsen, a Rainier Beach teacher who pushed for its construction. There's so much talent that goes untapped.

A decade after the theater opened, the building is there, but the programs aren't close to what was originally envisioned. The drama program at Rainier Beach just started up again two years ago after a hiatus. There is one band class, taught by Robinson, with about 18 students. A volunteer writes grants that support the band, dance and other arts programs.

"It's been painful," Jacobsen says.

Broadway Bound staff members say they peeled the shipping plastic off the theater's soundboard and found lights that looked as if they'd never been plugged in.

"It was like walking into something that's been cocooned," Nixon says.

Many hope this production represents a new beginning. Not only does Broadway Bound want to continue working in the South End, the school expects to receive an infusion of resources this year under the district's Southeast Initiative, some of which is earmarked for a music teacher and drama teacher.

Nixon knows what it's like to have lot of desire and not much money.

In Jersey City, where he grew up, he lived in a four-bedroom house shared by 15 people. Until he was 13, he figured he'd be a P.E. teacher. Then his priest took him to see the musical "1776," and all that changed.

"A program like this," he says, "would have meant the world to me.""

Jimmy Nixon is the founded and director of Broadway Bound.

It is very sad that the district doesn't have the vision or the money to help these programs succeed in schools that don't have the parent base to support them. This is where a good public-private partnership could really help.

Friday, August 17, 2007

NCLB Status

As I'm sure we all know, school that fail to make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) can be subject to sanctions.

Here is a table of School Improvement Status levels and the applicable sanctions from the OSPI web site:

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

School Improvement Status

Year 1 First year of not making AYP (alert status).

Year 2/Step 1 Second consecutive year the school did not make AYP; enters Step 1 which requires the development of a school improvement plan and the option for students to attend another school (“public school choice”) within the district that is not in school improvement.

Step 2 Did not make AYP after being in Step 1. In addition to the public school choice requirement, supplemental services must also be offered.

Step 3 Did not make AYP after being in Step 2. In addition to offering public school choice and supplemental services, the school must take corrective action.

Step 4 Did not make AYP after being in Step 3. In addition to offering public school choice and supplemental services and taking corrective action, the school must plan for alternative governance.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

The District, as a whole, is in Step 2 for Districts.

As a District, we failed to make AYP in these categories for the 2005-2006 school year:

4th grade, Special Education, reading
4th grade, Black students, math
4th grade, Special Education, reading
4th grade, Low Income students, math
7th grade, Black students, reading
7th grade, Low Income students, reading
7th grade, Black students, math
7th grade, Low Income students, math
10th grade, Low Income students, reading
10th grade, Low Income students, math
10th grade, graduation rate

You might be asking yourself, are there any Seattle Public Schools with Step 3 or Step 4 School Improvement Status?

As of last year, there were no schools at Step 4. The results for the 2006-2007 school year will soon be available, and then we will know if any of these schools, now at Step 3, will be moved to Step 4 upon the release of the scores:

African American Academy K-8
Aki Kurose Middle School
Franklin High School
Ingraham High School
Madison Middle School
Mercer Middle School
Rainier Beach High School

Step 4 looks pretty dire to me. Why isn't anyone talking about this?

Cleveland Principal resigns

From this morning's P-I:

Principal quits job at Cleveland High School
P-I STAFF

Cleveland High School Principal Donna Marshall has resigned and will be replaced by interim principal Wayne Floyd, school district officials announced Thursday. Marshall said she was leaving to be with her family in Atlanta.

Floyd has been Cleveland's assistant principal for the past four years, and previously worked at Wing Luke Elementary and Garfield High School. Charles Chinn, a former Seattle Public Schools teacher and principal, will serve as a consultant and help with the leadership transition at Cleveland.

The district plans to begin the search for a permanent principal later this school year.

School Closure: the Edinburgh Process

I've been working in Scotland all summer and have had little time to follow Seattle school issues or post on this blog. However, an article I read on the bus this morning prompted me to post. The cover of the newspaper says "Revealed: Hit-list of 22 capital schoools for axe: Anger as thousands of Edinburgh children left facing uncertain future"

What I found particularly interesting in the article, The great schools shutdown, were the similarities and differences with Seattle. The Edinburgh process is clearly different from the Seattle process: the closure list was apparently developed by the city council without any public input. Yet the reaction and the issues raised are similar: outraged parents, issues of class, budget issues, rising cost of housing and decreasing school-age population in the city, etc.

For example:
"Stockbridge Primary also faces the axe, despite being almost at capacity, because most of its pupils come from outside the immediate area. One highly placed education source last night accused the council of "social engineering". He added: "They want to close popular schools and move children into unpopular ones. If money is so tight and we have to look at changes, it should be the unpopular schools that close." The source claimed the list of 16 closure-threatened primary and high schools failed to "take nearly enough account of what parents want".

And:

He said: "Areas of multiple deprivation are the areas where schools should be safeguarded because they have a breadth of expertise in dealing with the social
problems there. "If you close the schools, you move the problems elsewhere, to schools without the expertise and the breadth of experience needed." But
he added: "At the end of the day, the council needs to trim the number of desks because they don't have the right number of bums to put on seats." A council spokeswoman last night refused to discuss the plans until parents had been told. But she added: "This is being done for educational purposes. "We have falling school rolls. We need to make more efficient use of buildings and provide the best education for children."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Score One for Washington State

This article was in today's PI. The composite scores of Washington state students who took the ACT were the 3rd highest in the country after Conn. and Mass. And, get this:

"Washington students who took the ACT also were notably above the national average in the math section of the test, with an average math score of 23, compared with the national average of 21, the Connecticut average of 23.2 and the Massachusetts mark of 23.6."

Good for all of us.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Assignment Plan pushed back

At tonight's Board meeting, the Superintendent told the Board that there isn't enough time to adopt a new assignment plan for 2008-2009 so the new plan won't be implemented until 2009-2010.

In order to implement in 2008-2009, the decisions would have to be made by October. That time pressure is now off. That gives the District a whole additional year to figure it out, but it means a whold additional year of delay for those who were looking forward to benefits from the new plan.

This definitely takes the plan out of this Board's hands and puts it in the hands of the new Board.

From Across the Pond (Britain, not Bellevue)

What does Sir Michael Barber, Britain's former education advisor to Tony Blair, have to say about education and American education in particular? This is addressed in a great article in the NY Times.

From the article:

"What have all the great school systems of the world got in common?” he said, ticking off four systems that he said deserved to be called great, in Finland, Singapore, South Korea and Alberta, Canada. “Four systems, three continents — what do they have in common?

“They all select their teachers from the top third of their college graduates, whereas the U.S. selects its teachers from the bottom third of graduates. This is one of the big challenges for the U.S. education system: What are you going to do over the next 15 to 20 years to recruit ever better people into teaching?”

South Korea pays its teachers much more than England and America, and has accepted larger class sizes as a trade-off, he said.

Finland, by contrast, draws top-tier college graduates to the profession not with huge paychecks, but by fostering exceptionally high public respect for teachers, he said."

He is fair in assessing that Great Britain has far fewer students than the U.S. but also acknowledges the power that states have over the federal government in education.

He did a report for the state of Ohio:

"In Ohio, for instance, Sir Michael led a McKinsey team last year that helped produce a 102-page report recommending new education policies based on the best practices in Britain and other countries.

(The report can be seen at www.achieve.org/files.)

About failing schools:

"When it comes to failing schools, Sir Michael expresses impatience. When a public school is failing — not just going through a rough patch, but also systematically failing to educate its students — he says there is only one question the authorities should consider: “How do I get these children a good education as fast as possible?” "

His reaction to NCLB:

"Sir Michael said that he considers No Child Left Behind to be an outstanding law, perhaps one of the most important pieces of education legislation in American history, he said. But the law is not without its flaws, he said, which include its methodology for identifying underperforming schools on the basis of student test scores alone.

“It depends much too often on quite crude tests and one year’s data,” he said.

The world’s best school rating systems, including England’s, he said, not only consider test results, but also send government inspectors directly into schools to search for causes of poor performance. McKinsey’s report on Ohio recommended that the state create a corps of inspectors like England’s, which reviews every school at least once every three years, examining the teaching environment and the caliber of school leadership, and suggesting changes, he said."

Lots of interesting ideas here. A question for the teachers; do you feel respected by the public at large? Would you feel as good or better about your work if you were treated like a firefighter? Would more pay balance a larger classroom? What would make a teacher's life better?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Advanced Learning

It appears that we just need to repeat this exercise periodically as new people come to the blog, as people forget, and as the situation develops.

There is certainly a lot of room for legitimate disagreement among well-informed and well-intentioned people about how to address the needs of highly capable and high performing students, particularly within a Standards-based learning system.

In addition, there are a lot of folks who are simply unaware or misinformed about the various advanced learning programs at Seattle Public Schools. So I would recommend that everyone take the time - before entering the conversation - to educate themselves a bit with a visit to the Advanced Learning web site.

While the Advanced Learning Office has a role in AP testing, IB, and Early Entrance Kindergarten, the three primary advanced learning programs in Seattle are Accelerated Progress Program (APP), Spectrum, and Advanced Learning Opportunities (ALOs).

I know that there are a lot of people who are adamantly opposed to self-contained programs like APP and Spectrum, so here is a thread where they can present the research that exposes the weaknesses of that model and propose alternatives. Likewise, proponents of that model are free to present the research in support of it and tell their stories of how poorly their child was served prior to entry into one of these programs.

I would like to remind everyone that the ALOs are supposed to provide the rigorous and accelerated curriculum in an inclusive model to any student who chooses to accept the challenge. I think that these schools provide programs that many people crave. Please feel free to comment on which of the ALO models work well and which are not providing the desired effect.

Finally, I recognize that this is an area of discussion which quickly brings people to their emotional frontier. Let's try to be particularly respectful of everyone's views and stories. At the same time, let us remember, as Senator Moynihan is credited for saying: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts."

First, I want to say that I am a HUGE fan of ALOs and that I think they are great. I only wish that the District would watch them more closely and provide a meaningful certification of their quality and effectiveness.

My position, which represent no one's views but my own, is that Seattle Public Schools, like any Standards-based learning system, is focused primarily on bringing every student up to Standards, and therefore does not put adequate focus on supporting students working beyond Standards. As a consequence, the Standards, intended in theory as a floor function in practice as a ceiling.

The District's obsession with universally horizontally and vertically articulated curricula discourages (if it doesn't absolutely preclude) support for students working beyond Standards. Consequently, those students who are ready and able to work beyond Standards need a systematically different learning environment in order to be adequately served. I think Spectrum could be that program. My view is that any student working beyond Standards - regardless of their scores on some assessment of cognitive ability - has this need. Therefore I support self-selection for Spectrum. And if that means that 30%, 40% or even 70% of Seattle Public School students are in Spectrum, well that would be simply WONDERFUL. The problem with most Spectrum programs is that they are too small to be effective. Of course, coupled with self-selected entry into the program there would have to be some clear, well-defined academic expectations. Students not meeting those academic expectations would have to be returned to the general education classroom. As with ALOs, the District needs to closely monitor the quality and effectiveness of these programs and it cannot hesitate to de-certify them when it is appropriate to do so.

In addition to the Spectrum program I think the District still needs APP, but I think the eligibility criteria needs to be tightened up.

As for program placement, I think I've put forward enough ideas along those lines.

Now let's read what other people have to say.

Sigh...Okay Let's Talk about Gifted Students

So how did we get to the need for a separate thread on gifted programming? The lead-off was this post under the thread about the program at Garfield to help students who need guidance on higher level classes and getting into college (I have edited it slightly).

"No matter how many feel good articles there are, Garfield is segregated because of the APP program. The testing to qualify still reflects the qualitifies (verbal acuity) that come from parental influence and a higher econoimic status. Seattle's APP program does not reflect true intellectual giftedness, although some in the program are truly gifted. A true gifted program should be a place for those students that can not operate socially, because of their intellect, to receive help. The SPS program is a place/pathway for high acheiving but generally not gifted students to jump ahead. The SPS program reflects the power of parents to influence the system."

So Charlie answered later (again edited for length):

"Anonymous is incorrect about the purpose of a "true gifted program". It is not for students who cannot operate socially. That very idea is absurd. The bulk of the students in APP, like the bulk of all SPS students, are as socially adept as is developmentally appropriate. That's not why they cannot be well served in general education classes. They cannot be reliably well-served in general education classrooms because the teachers in those classrooms cannot adequately differentiate instruction to include material and assignments that would be challenging for the APP students while also meeting the academic needs of students working at and below grade level."

My proposal for this thread is that we just talk about gifted students (versus bright or regular ed or low achievers). We can have another thread about SPS programs. Clear? We're not going to talk about APP or Spectrum or Advanced Learning but what gifted means and why high achieving kids have their own special needs. See Charlie's post for talking about APP, Spectrum, etc.

First, characteristics of gifted children. Here's a list I've seen frequently. We could debate, a lot, about severely gifted (yes, that is an actual term), highly gifted, gifted, bright, etc. I know that many people roll their eyes because they perceive that either those parents think their child is "precious" and has to be handled carefully or deserves more or those parents are trying to push their child to prop up their own egos. I've met a few of those parents in my years here but only a few. Mostly, they are parents, like all parents, who want their child's academic needs met.

So bright versus gifted? Gifted is NOT about making good grades. It helps but any student who can read and do math and has the discipline, support and determination to succeed can make good grades. Bright kids cannot pass most gifted testing easily. Bright kids can be a spark in the classroom and a role model to other students precisely because they don't exhibit some of the characteristics that gifted kids have that seem to turn off or confuse other students.

Second, resources. One is the National Center for the Gifted and Talented. I'm providing a link to their research page. It has a plethora of articles on all sorts of issues on this topic. Another is KidsSource. Here's a great FAQ page from the National Center for Gifted Children that covers many legal topics. Also from the NCGC is a glossary page of frequently used terms in gifted education. Also from NCGC is a page about Washington State gifted education policies.

From Brainy Child.com about giftedness:
"Q: What are the causes of mentally gifted child?

A: Although this only a one line question, a whole essay can be written just on this question alone! This is a "nature" vs "nurture" question.

As a matter of fact, it has been widely agreed that both genetics and environment play a role in determining giftedness, but their relative importance is still being debated. Some believe that giftedness may be due to some innate process independent which is independent from the environmental effects. This means that regardless of where the child is raised, a gifted child will demonstrate the gifts at some point. For example, there are accounts of children with extraordinary gifts that could have an innate basis, such as the musically gifted. No particular environment appears to have stimulated the gift.

This is linked to the biological claim such as the brain or a chromosome that people believe scientists have yet to find. Psychologically, giftedness is believed to be an gift that has a genetic origin and is at least partly innate which may not be clear at an early stage but rather an inclination that the child may possess the gift.

Studies have indicated that individuals with extremely high mathematical abilities have frontal lobes of the brain which are more differentiated compared to average students. Neuropsychological studies claim that in information processing, gifted individuals have enhanced brain activity localized in the right hemisphere. This does show to a certain extent that the physical characteristics of the brain may be associated to an innate process in which certain people obtain high levels of gifts and capabilities in different areas.

Many studies have proved that demonstrated giftedness is subjected to biological (nature) and sociological (nurture) factors. These are again all linked to several other external factors outside of the child's physiological makeup. In short, to be considered gifted, a child need to have the right biological make up (genes, brain structure) and environment (education, exposure, diet, emotional security, etc.) to enhance and bring out the gifts."

From a legal standpoint, here's a quick synopsis from an article by Frances Karnes and Ronald Marquardt called Know Your Legal Rights in Gifted Education:

"Gifted preschool, elementary, and secondary school children have very limited protections under state and federal laws. By contrast, children and adults with disabilities have, under federal statute and in turn under state law accepting federal provisions, comprehensive protections in the following areas not yet applicable to the gifted: identification for screening and program admission or eligibility purposes, educational or other institutional and related services, employment policies and practices, architectural barriers in and about public buildings and transportation facilities, and other civil rights protections.

Parents, educators, and other concerned adults involved with gifted children should know the legal framework in which the education and related services are set forth. The Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Act of 1994 was not established by Congress to protect the legal rights of gifted children, but rather to provide for model programs and projects. In contrast, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 does give extensive legal rights to persons with disabilities.

Without a federal law to protect the legal rights of gifted children, the responsibility for such mandates rests with the states. Approximately 30 states have a mandate to serve gifted children, while the remaining ones have permissive legislation (Council of State Directors of Programs for the Gifted, 1994). The National Association for Gifted Children has written a position paper supporting the concept that each state should mandate by law educational opportunities for gifted children.

For quick and authentic references, advocates for these students must have on hand the appropriate state and local statutes and regulations. State law usually defines the types of gifted children who must or may be served with state funds, and the educational provisions allowable. In a few states, the state boards of education enacted a state definition and the kinds and types of services to be provided with state revenues. Usually, the function of this body is to approve the rules and regulations or standards written by the state department of education based on the implementation of the law passed by the legislature.

In addition, the local, county, or parish school board may have passed specific implementations within its jurisdiction. To assure services to all eligible students and to maximize the probability that a dispute will be resolved productively, there are channels to follow: negotiation, mediation, due process, and court cases (Karnes & Marquardt, 1993). Parents of gifted children have, in personal success stories, documented these processes with a variety of educational issues (Karnes & Marquardt, 1991)."

What do these kids look like to teachers?

"When asked this question, most teachers will respond by citing three observations. First, gifted youngsters tend to get their work done quickly and may seek further assignments or direction. Second, they ask probing questions that tend to differ from their classmates in depth of understanding and frequency. Finally, they have interests in areas that are unusual or more like the interests of older students. In fact, these observations define the characteristics that challenge regular classroom teachers the most as they attempt to bring full instructional service to gifted and talented students. These students potentially differ from their classmates on three key dimensions (Maker, 1982): (1) the pace at which they learn; (2) the depth of their understanding; and (3) the interests that they hold. In order to develop instructional programs that will meet the needs of gifted students in regular classroom settings, it is necessary to address and accommodate these defining characteristics."

Okay, both my kids, according to SPS are gifted. A lot of their abilities, I believe, came because my husband and I invested huge amounts of time with them when they were little, reading and trying to stimulate their brains. Something connected. Are they profoundly gifted? No but their abilities go beyond being bright. Just like many areas of child development, there is a spectrum to giftedness.

However, if you read the literature on giftedness you'll learn of a couple of sidebars to gifted kids. One is that many gifted kids have some sort of disability (learning or other). Check on that for me. Another is lack of motivation despite ability. Check again on the other one for me. Everyone, even parents of bright children, has challenges with their children as students.

I have heard from teachers that bright kids should help "tutor" the class. No one's child is there to be a teacher. One of my son's friends, when he heard me talking about bright kids, rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah, I'm always the one picked to "start the conversation" when we have discussions in class even if I don't raise my hand. I'm tired of it. There are other kids in class besides me." But teachers have said if you take the bright kids out, there goes the spark for the class and their job is harder. I appreciate that but no child is in the classroom to help the teacher. Not sit on their hands and wait. Not do an extra worksheet.

The key to this is differentiation both in curriculum and teaching. I am not convinced that this district has done anywhere near the training to help teachers do that and I would not be willing to give up Spectrum until it was true. And, if you are talking of classes 26+, it doesn't matter what training the teacher has, it is almost impossible (or a near feat of teaching).

The feds (if you read one of the links above) allot a modest $9M per year for gifted students in all 50 states (I believe the last figure I read for gifted kids was 3 million although many are missed/overlooked). That's not a huge pot of money by anyone's measure.

The irony is that we have a president who talks about education but has done little to better it in this country. Who makes jokes about his own mediocre performance. Who sneers at "university elites" when he graduated from Princeston. Other districts and other states do not seem to have this problem with gifted programming. Our district seems embarrassed by these kids. You can dislike parents who want gifted programming. But I ask you - who is going to win the next Nobel prize that may lead to a cure for any number of diseases? Who is going to get us to Mars? Who is going to engineer bridges - secure ones - for the 21st century? If you ignore these kids now, they will not be successful later and it could cost us all.

Every single kid in every single class deserves to be challenged and have their educational needs met.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Helping Students Navigate AP at Garfield

This article in the Times is about a program started at Garfield called Urban Scholars that helps students attempt upper-level classes and navigate college enrollment (especially if they are the first in their families to go). It recently got a grant from the Gates Foundation to help pay for it for the next three years.

I had been thinking about a program like this - districtwide - because of the importance of both goals of the Urban Scholars program. Kids have to have exposure to upper level classes because it is hard to get into college without them and even harder to stay in. High school counselors, especially at the larger high schools, are just maxed out with work. I wish this program was districtwide.

It was a good article for me until the last paragraph.

"It really helps to address what seems like a disproportionately small number of African-American students succeeding in the AP curriculum at Garfield," said Ken Thompson, program officer for the Pacific Northwest at the Gates Foundation. "A lot of the work of the foundation is about addressing inequity."

I'm not sure what inequity Mr. Thompson is speaking to in that last sentence. The district has bent over backwards to try to get more minority students in APP. The AP classes at Garfield, as stated in the article, are open to all students. Students with their parents make out their own schedules. At some level, parents have to be responsible for the academic choices their students make. The entire weight of education cannot rest with the public school system.

From the article:

"About a third of the students at Garfield High School are part of Seattle's Accelerated Progress Program for gifted students. Any student can take the advanced classes there, but many promising students don't because they don't know the other students in the courses or don't understand how important those classes can be to getting into college."

This paragraph points up a real need for something that I understand from Bellevue's website that they are already doing. Namely, putting it into kids' heads, from kindergarten on, that college exists and is important. It doesn't cost a lot of money from K-5 to talk to kids on a regular basis about what college is. It doesn't cost PTAs a lot of money to talk to parents about college in their newsletters and at meetings. How many people know about GET?

Then, in middle school, a harder push should be starting. We need to tell kids that they need to be prepared for high school in order to get ready for college. We need to have them talking about it, asking teachers and administrators about their college experiences and, in 8th or 9th grade, we should have an organized trip for these students to UW or SPU or anyone who'll have our students visit. When they get there, students from all types of backgrounds could speak to them about what they did to get there and what life is like at college. Bottom line, it needs to enter their consciousness at a young age and stay there.

I know not everyone is going to college but it has to be more than a casual thought in kids' minds. Waiting until high school is too late.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Waitlists

I had a conversation today with Tracy Libros, District Manager of Planning and Enrollment, about how waitlists work. I had called specifically about Roosevelt but this is how it works for all schools. (I had called on Friday, she called me back at 9:15 p.m. on Friday night and said to try again on Saturday. I did but didn't reach her and figured I'd call her Monday. She called me at 2:00 on Sunday. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was trying to find placements for every child. That's dedication.)

Yes, the waitlist is ordered by tiebreakers. Meaning, it is all the on-time enrollments, sorted by tiebreakers, after the school has filled (more on that later). So, if there were any sibs that didn't get in, they would be first in line on the list. (This rarely happens except in certain programs.) Then, the distance tiebreakers come on the list in the order of closest to farthest.

For schools with waitlists, the school moves its list as room appears. However, district staff call each of those schools once a week to check the waitlist status and space at the school. The waitlist is dissolved on Oct.31.

After that date, any spaces that open up at any school that is full are given to new applicants to SPS. Meaning, you can't just wait till Nov. 1 and come in and apply again. Any room is given only to new enrollees to our school district. (I find this more fair than holding set-aside seats in case anyone new moves to the district. I'd rather fill up the schools with on-time applicants who are here now.)

Now, if you were a private school parent trying to game the system, you could try to get up early on Nov. 1, run to the Enrollment Center, and hope there was space at a school you want for your child. That could get you into TOPS or John Stanford or Roosevelt but that's a lot of ifs. If you had nothing to lose i.e. you already have your child enrolled somewhere and you want to try this, well, okay. But there would be no guarantee there would be a single space when you got there at 9 am on Nov. 1.

In November school send in their projected capacity numbers that they want for the next year and then there are discussions with the district about programs and capacity. So that "capacity" number is somewhat fluid depending on those discussions.

Now recalling someone here wrote that they knew of someone who got in and wasn't on the waitlist, well, that's probably a principal issue. I'd be willing to bet that the district policy isn't adhered to, for whatever reason, by every school. Every PTA should put this in their first issue so parents all know the policy and it lets the principals know the parents know the policy. I think it is also possible for every parent with a student on a waitlist to know where their student is on it and how long the list is.

By the way, the current waitlist at Roosevelt is 346 with 232 on that list being freshman. The list at been at about 425 so it has moved considerably. I'll be interested to see what the number is Oct. 31 as I had been told Roosevelt would not grow from its current 1700.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

On the Heels of the Miltary in Schools Discussion

I had heard Lt. Lute, the White House's war czar on NPR yesterday. Here's a Washington Post article on those statements. The issue is whether the government can continue on in Iraq without a draft. From the article:

"Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well," Lute said. "It would be a major policy shift, not actually a military but a political policy shift, to move to some other course."

He said the repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan affect not only the troops but their families, which can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military."

The White House reply:

"National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Lute's comments are consistent with President Bush's stated policy in regard to any potential use of the draft. "The president believes an all-volunteer military serves the country well, and there is no discussion of returning to a draft," Johndroe said."

Central to keeping their recruiting goals (which they are currently making but barely):

"New to the Army recruiters' tool kit is a "quick-ship" cash bonus of $20,000 that goes to recruits willing to go to basic training by the end of September. Army officials said the bonuses began July 25 and that it is too early to know their influence, but they hope it will push some recruits to enter the Army sooner than they had planned, boosting numbers for the end of the year.

Other bonuses have been increased, including a maximum $20,000 cash bonus to recruits who want to sign up for a two-year enlistment, a bonus that has been boosted twice this year, from an original bonus of $6,000 before May."

There was also this article from the AP about Democratic legislation to guarantee troop time between deployments that President Bush threatened to veto. From this article:

"Under the Pentagon's current policy, active-duty troops typically serve deployments of up to 15 months, with a year at home in between. National Guard and Reserve ground units generally can be called up for as long as two years, to be followed by six years at home.

Bush's war adviser, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, said Friday the Pentagon needs to reevaluate deployment lengths."Come the spring, some variables will have to change - either the degree to which the American ground forces, the Marines and the Army in particular, are deployed around the world to include Iraq, or the length of time they're deployed in one tour, or the length of time they enjoy at home," Lute said in an interview on National Public Radio."

Bush complained that Tauscher's bill would put arbitrary constraints on Pentagon commanders. But Tauscher noted that the measure includes waivers enabling the president to disregard the required intervals between troop deployments in the interest of national security."

General Petraeous, the commander of forces in Iraq, recently told Congress troops would likely be needed in Iraq for another 9-10 years.

I believe that the White House will say over and over again that the volunteer forces work but the reality is that they don't mind if officers float this balloon of the draft saying it is a military option (but is a policy decision). This, of course, is very unlikely to happen in a Presidential election year and you won't hear it from the candidates on either side. (But the generals seem to be indicating that by spring 2008 something has got to give.) But after the election, someone is going to have to make a decision about the future of Iraq and our place in it (do we pull back or stay somewhat indefinitely) and, ultimately, if it means having to draft soldiers to serve that choice.

I bring this up not to argue the war (no thanks) but as a "put this on your radar now" - it IS going to be an issue that will be likely to trickle down to our schools and the students in them and it won't limited anymore to just what schools recruiters go to. It will be who gets drafted.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Seattle Works Update

Following up on the earlier Seattle Works Voter Guide post, I'm posting a new link to it. I had wondered why so many candidates from various races seemed missing and talking to a couple of SB candidates, it seems there was some confusion about deadlines and whether completed forms were received. Both Sherry Carr and Steve Sundquist had these issues. Sherry was able to get her questionaire posted but Steve wasn't. (Seattle Works did say they will be doing it again - with new questions? - for the general election so we may see Steve S's answers then along with the races in Districts 1 and 3.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Idaho Gives Most of Its Charitable Dollars to Education

This article appeared in the August 7th Idaho Statesman (but I found it via Crosscuts, the on-line magazine).

"According to Philanthropy Northwest's Northwest Giving Profile 2006, 69 percent of charitable dollars in Idaho go to education, versus 16 percent in Washington, 24 percent in Oregon and 23 percent nationally."

In explanation the article says:

"Both trends may signal that charitable giving in Idaho is a "place-based" undertaking and that givers tend to know their beneficiaries — and beneficiaries' needs — from the ground up.

This sensibility contrasts with a state like Washington, where the technology sector and powerful, rather new foundations like Starbucks, Gates and others have given philanthropy a global character."

This is an interesting subject as one SB candidate, Steve Sundquist, is pushing a plank for more philanthropy dollars.

The article discusses how Idaho unlike say, California, has fewer hands out for money and being a smaller state, charities are more likely to know first-hand about needs in their communities.
Of course this is good for a one-time need but is it something that can be depended upon? For example, we talk about more possible public-private partnerships for our district like New School. However, we then get mixed opinions on the fairness of one group of kids getting "more" than others or even the sustainability of the funding (New School's Memo of Understanding runs out fairly soon and there is no guarantee it will continue.).

What should we be looking for in terms of support from the community at large?

(By the way, I checked out Albertson's website - Albertson's is referenced in the article numerous times as a major contributor in Idaho - and they have a fairly simple application procedure. You should check it out if your PTA or other non-profit have a need that matches their criteria.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Merged Schools Pick Name

This article appeared in the West Seattle Herald. It is about how Fairmount Park Elementary (closing building) and High Point Elementary (accepting school) are merging together and came up with a joint plan to pick a new name for their school (including keeping the High Point name). They decided on West Seattle Elementary and it was approved by the Board.

From the article:

"Besides investigating a name change, much more was done to prepare for the joining of the schools. There were joint staff meetings and several collaborative community events.

Enrollment at the new school will be around 325 kindergarten-through-fifth-grade students, double the amount previously at each school. That doesn't include a YMCA childcare service and two special education pre-school sessions, said Everly.

Teaching staff will consist of about a 50-50 mix of Fairmount and High Point faculty. Everly expects class size to hold steady at around 26 students."

In terms of match, this from the article:

"The schools, which are less than a mile away from each other, had already shared librarians, psychologists and buses. The student populations have similarities as well.

More than 90 percent of the students at High Point are on the free and reduced lunch program, typically an indicator of poverty, and nearly 80 percent of Fairmount Park students qualify for the federal program. Both schools are more than three-quarters African American, Hispanic and Asian. About 20 percent are bilingual."

These were two nice small schools that struggled with chronic underenrollment. They have strong, caring principals who truly knew their populations. As I have said in the past, I hope that schools that are consolidated get extra attention and help from the district because of the difficulties they have faced. I have high hopes for the success of the new West Seattle Elementary.

High School Math Curriculum Adoption

As regular readers of this blog know, I have been teaching mathematics at Rainier Beach for the past two school years. During this time, I have heard how the district was on the verge of going to a uniform curriculum for mathematics for all the 10 comprehensive high schools in the city. There are supposedly three finalists (Interactive Math Program (know as IMP and used at West Seattle, Hale and I think Garfield), Core Plus (I don't know if any school uses this), and College Prep Math (known as CPM, which we use at RB)). Since we are in the middle of the summer, I thought this would be a good time to contact Ms. Santorno and Ms. Wise to see where we were in the process. I sent the following e-mail on July 30th:

Hello Ms. Santorno and Ms. Wise: I teach mathematics at Rainier Beach High School. Since I started teaching at RB in the fall of 2005, I have heard that the district was in the process of a curriculum adoption for high school math. Yet, as we enter the 2007-2008 school year, nothing has been finalized. I was wondering where the process was? I can remember reviewing three curricula in the spring of 2006 (IMP, Core-Plus, and College Prep Math), but as far as I can tell, nothing has come of this. Is a decision going to made soon? If it is, how is the decision going to be made? I teach College Prep Math and I think is it far and away the most rigorous of the three curricula that are under consideration.Thank you for your assistance in this matter and I look forward to your response.
Michael A. Rice
Rainier Beach HS

I have not received a response yet. I know that many people connected to the district (including at least 2 Directors) read this blog. I was hoping they would be able to give me some information about where we are about the new curriculum.

West Seattle Forum

This is apt to be long so get a cup of coffee or iced tea. Also, I am going to do as straight reporting as I can at the beginning, then let you know when I'm going to give my own opinions so you can stop or continue reading as you please.

First, what great hard-working PTSAs out in West Seattle. They had the ice cream being handed out right when I got there, name tags for the candidates, tables for them and their literature, very organized. At the ice cream social there was Sally Soriano, Peter Maier, Maria Ramirez, Steve Sundquist, Harium Martin-Morris, Sherry Carr, Dan Dempsey, Lisa Steubing, and Edwin Fruit. There were about 30 other attendees there. There was one reporter, from the West Seattle Herald, and a photographer from the Seattle PI. I didn't see a reporter from the PI or Times but I might have missed them.

The social was a great time to buttonhole candidates personally. I managed good face time with Steve. S. and Maria Ramirez (their race was the only one I was still studying). I noticed others engaged with candidates as well.

Darlene Flynn came right at the end of the social. They had to call the candidates to sit down a couple of times because many of them were so deep in conversations.

All the candidates were given a 3-minute period for an opening statement. Olita Brackman read Sherry Carr's as Sherry had to leave for a previously committed event. Highlights from the statements:

District 6
Maria: gave SPS background as a parent (her children went to Roxhill, Lafayette, Madison, Denny, Nova and West Seattle). She spoke of her background working for King County in developing affordable housing. Quote, "Parents are the biggest piece of any change."
Edwin: talked about the Socialist Workers Party and how they believe society and schools are class-based. Noted the racial divide in where people live in the city.
Dan: he said he had "hands-on, nuts-and bolts experience" in working as a teacher in the District. He talked about the need for smaller class sizes, not closing schools and said "Dan has plans."
Steve: reviewed his background as a manager, working on two boards in his community, his kids being at Sealth. He said he knows board structure, wants to increase public confidence in the Board and our district and wants to do "consensus-building".

District 1
Sally: spoke of being a 4-year old activist with her mother in Seattle working to pass a levy. She said she was proud, 50 years later, that the simple majority that her mother longed for as a PTA member, might finally get passed this November. She went over what she worked on as a Board member: balance capital budget, lead, mold and water quality issues, worked against charter schools, had monthly meetings and looked for alternatives to the WASL as the only graduation measure.
Peter: graduated from Hale, children were at Hale. His role as a primary fundraiser for school bonds/levies. Worked against charter schools as a pro bono lawyer. He said the district was in better financial shape because of Manhas' cost-cutting. Endorsed by SEA. Quote: "It is critically important to identify key priorities."

District 2:
Darlene: Made good on campaign commitments but promised to be focused. Said WASL scores have risen by 50% in reading, writing and math. Worked on water quality. Said there was no experience quantifiable to being a Board member. Talked about equity for all students.
Lisa: Spoke of wanting to get back to "Board basics", talked about 50% rate of graduation and its unacceptability. Spoke of her organizational development background. Did research and found that there are 3 key relationships to making a district work: family relationships, schools and neighborhoods and treating teachers like professionals. Spoke of co-locating programs during off-school hours. Would not close schools. Said we should have a lot of little schools and lots of bus drivers. Endorsed by former Governor Rossellini.
Sherry: statement read was about her background as a parent, PTA member, PTSA Seattle Council president, CAICEE work, Boeing manager.

District 3
Harium: kids attended AE 2 (was Site Council member and attended School Board meetings for 5 years), Hale PTSA president. Work background as a kindergarten/3rd grade teacher and also working looking for what works in other places. Quote: "I have the expertise to find what has worked in other places in the country, places that have solved some of these problems."

There was only time for 2 questions with so many candidates. Question 1 was about how to reduce the achievement gap for all students.

Harium; spoke of it as socioeconomics and poverty, not race. Work on more than one gauge of achievement (not just the WASL) and that parents should know their rights if their student is having problems with the WASL
Lisa: agreed WASL is not a good measure of the achievement gap "some kids start way behind earlier than taking the WASL" in terms of health care, being reading to, etc. Would co-locate services in schools
Darlene: Some SPS schools have closed gap. We need to constantly question best practices, resources, stability and leadership. Application of focused resources and make adjustments as you go. "Stable, well-heeled communities" don't have achievement gap problem.
Peter: Don't talk but do. Duplicate Maple and Van Asselt a few schools at a time (take the most struggling schools first). Has worked for state resources. Help all students from the struggling to the kids who perform well but may need more to stretch themselves.
Sally: concurred with Dr. G-J for extended help (before-after school, AP classes in every high school). Would go to state legislature with community groups to show solidarity. Worked on a lunchtime tutoring program at WA Middle School and had kids raised to a B- in about 6 weeks. The principal said it also helped with behavior problems.
Steve: we need professional development. A big issue is funding (and thank the Governor for her support), pass the simple majority, look for more philanthropy money.
Dan: Disagreed with others. "We need to get our house in order; we know what to do but aren't doing it." He spoke of a Project Follow-Thru which followed disadvantaged learners K-3. He said the district talks of "necessary skills" without defining them. Also spoke of classroom disruption law that SPS doesn't use. He thinks there should be no changes to assignment plan until schools are in order.
Edwin: private school parents don't have "neighborhood" private schools and are willing to travel. Loss of the racial tiebreaker makes this situation worse. Schools are factories for the capitalist system.
Maria: Was on a committee in 1999 to study the achievement gap and their recommendations went nowhere. She said parents all share the same concerns and want academic rigor. Said 50% of kids not passing the WASL is worrisome.

Question 2 was about improving communication between the Board and the community.

Maria: Not all parents have computers so it isn't fair to expect the website to do the job for all. We need more times to give input and more languages represented at meetings but it is a huge challenge. She said asking the leadership at each school (especially those with large minority populations about the most successful ways they have found to reach their parents.
Edwin: talked about social movement of change
Dan: It is the job of the Board and senior staff to communicate with the community. He noted that the Board changed how testimony is given but never followed up on the feedback/followup part. "You can't have transparency and openness without good communication." He said he had 10 blogs at his website.
Steve: parents are a big force. He said many philanthropic organizations have a paid outreach person and maybe that's what the district needs. He said the Board needs to "take its act on the road".
Sally: gave a contrasting example of working with WA APP parents to look at the district's plan to split their population and send half to Hamilton. Found lack of communication and lack of a clear plan existed and that initiative didn't happen. This worked out in an orderly manner. The same happened for the Cooper/Pathfinder merger attempt and didn't work out because the parents had meetings with staff, were told one thing and then found out another in yet another meeting.
Peter: go out into the community. Make website more user-friendly.
Darlene: 4 years ago there were NO documents on the website. It's a work in progress. She said she was "no novice to community process".
Lisa: it doesn't all start with Board members. She was committed to half-time work on the Board. She pledged to "be there on the phone and come if you ask me to visit your school".
Harium: He agreed it was difficult to go to Board meetings, speak and get no feedback ever. He would start with changing the meetings. He also talked about building relationships with civic leaders like the Mayor (who he has met with) and questioned why the Mayor doesn't meet regularly with the Board. The City Council does on a quarterly basis. He also spoke of building relationships between grassroots organizations and pointed out that not everyone has a computer but maybe some of the computer labs in schools could be accessed after school hours.

End of Report. What follows is my opinion of the candidates and their performance at the forum.

Some of this will just be random impressions so here goes:

Edwin: good hearted guy but doesn't know district and the issues. More of a macro-thinker on education
Maria: personable, compassionate, likely knows minority communities very well compared to other candidates
Steve: very professional, open, friendly, wrote down information he wanted to look up
Dan: data-driven, blunt, funny
Harium: hands down the most engaging, funny in a dry way, honest and had good ideas
Sally: confident and engaging. Had specific stories to relate to questions
Peter: not a great public speaker, spoke with conviction
Lisa: good ideas and passion but not focused in her speaking or thoughts. Somewhat hard to follow.
Darlene; confident speaker, let her attention wander as others spoke and did not seem to be paying attention, somewhat defensive

Like Michael de Bell before him, Harium had been a blank slate to me in terms of issues. After speaking with him privately and hearing him speak publicly, I think he's a great candidate. (What is it with these high school PTSA presidents?) He seems to have his own mind (and good luck with that changing the Board meetings, Harium; Cheryl will be your big challenge) and yet want to work collaboratively.

I have less confidence in Peter Maier. Again, speaking both privately and publicly with him, I feel he is smart and hard-working but not a leader. I'm not sure what he would add to the Board. Was a little contradictory in his remarks about holding the Super accountable and then saying the financial turnaround was all Manhas' doing. The Board had to direct Manhas so it couldn't have just been the Super. He did get the most nods and laughs over his "not user-friendly" remark about the district's website.

Darlene did not seem to reach people and, as I mentioned, her drifting off seemed odd given the situation.

Dan, Steve and Maria certainly make their race tough. They all have strong assets to bring to the table. They all have their appeal and I think people may pick depending on what they either think that person will bring to the Board and comfort level. Steve has a reassuring "I know what I'm doing" persona (he also expressed surprise that The Stranger endorsed him - hey Steve, they like you). Maria has a calm, confident persona and seems to have a wide-range of experiences that might balance the Board. Dan brings a teacher's perspective and a deep background in education data.

Lisa is so unfocused in her speech patterns that it is difficult to assess her.

I wish Patrick Kelley had been there and that Sherry could have stayed.

Did anyone else attend?