The first one is - big surprise - about state budget cuts. No new news here but they do have a poll going about what to cut. Currently, K-4 class size reduction money (14.8% of the vote), Initiative 728 (19.88%) and Initiative 732 (15.2%) are leading the cuts poll.
The other story is great news for Bailey-Gatzert Elementary. Seattle University, which has provided tutoring for the last 20 years, is creating a project for $1M a year to help provide:
more tutoring and after-school help, free legal aid to recent immigrants provided by the university's law school and free health assistance from the nursing school.
The project aims to touch all aspects of the neighborhood's social, health and educational development, and will include assistance to Washington Middle School and Garfield High School.
They are trying to model the services after the Harlem's Children's Zone in NYC.
By working with the community, students will move beyond the isolated, intellectual experience of the classroom and learn how to put their knowledge to work in the community. That can help "make education stick" after the final exam, Sundborg said.
"If our students are changed through their educational experience, then they will be citizens who will work for positive changes for the rest of their lives," said Kent Koth, director of the university's youth initiative.
This brings Bailey-Gatzert on par with South Shore which receives about $750k per year from the New School Foundation for tutoring, early childhood learning, etc.
Bailey-Gatzert is led by Greg Imel who is one of our best SPS principals.
Last news item - the forum that will not die. It seems that the Seattle Channel's Town Hall forum didn't just hit a nerve at LEV; the Alliance for Education was none too happy either. Apparently, the head of the Alliance, Sara Morris, sent a letter to City Club and Seattle Channel criticizing nearly every aspect of the forum from the audience to the "facts" to the validity of using the audience voting machines. What made it particularly funny is that she included one of their push-poll telephone questions as an example of a neutral question!
She claims the Strategic Plan is doing better than they said. What is interesting is that the Strategic Plan numbers got better as the evening went along. I guess she missed that.
Here's the question that host, CR Douglas, asked that she found objectionable:
“Does the district’s move to align curriculum inhibit innovation in the classroom?”
I agree, it is not a neutral way to phrase the question but I think they were trying to get at the idea that most people think alignment is standardizing the curriculum.
Here's her idea of a good question:
13. I am going to tell you a little more about Excellence for All. It is a five‐year strategic plan to raise achievement for
all students, attract and retain great teachers, and increase efficiency in Seattle Public Schools. In the first 18 months
under Excellence for All, Seattle Public Schools increased the number of Advanced Placement classes in high schools
by 30 percent, gave teachers new tools to monitor the academic performance of their students, and developed a new
way to assign students to schools in a predictable manner with a clear path from kindergarten to high school. Guided
by Excellence for All, Seattle Public Schools is dedicated to preparing every student to graduate from high school ready
for college, careers, and life. Having heard this, do you favor or oppose the strategic plan Excellence for All, or are you
This question ALSO doesn't outline all the Strategic Plan but that's okay with her.
What is funny is that she felt the mix of people in the audience should have been "balanced". It was a free and open process about who signed up. Fully one-quarter of the audience was City Year workers who had no visible bias at all. I recognized people from all sides of the education spectrum. What was City Club to do, screen the audience? She also claims the "twittersphere" was packed with "like-minded allies". How do you pack the twittersphere?
She claims it was "yet another 'trash the district, trash the Superintendent' forum". What? The district, the Alliance and LEV carefully control every single forum they put on. The one forum they, and everyone else, had no control over, well that's the one they really don't like. Again, just like the LEV speakout, I say go to the video. Who trashed the Superintendent? No one. To disagree with her plan is not to trash her. No one trashed the district - most people who spoke of their school spoke of it proudly.
Folks, I do believe there are people out there that want to control the message. We live in a democracy with a free and open Internet. Free speech wins.