Friday, September 09, 2011

Open Thread Friday

So it's just the third day of school so not even a full week yet.  Thoughts? 

I just noted this Arts & Grants page at Target.  They announce the grants in September so the cycle doesn't start until March 1 next year.  But if your PTA is interested in something like this, you could work on it now and apply in March.  They also have Field Trip grants and there's just 20 days left for non-profit groups to apply.   Local recipients last year were Beacon Hill, McDonald, Salmon Bay, Thorton Creek and West Seattle.

82 comments:

SPSLeaks said...

SPSLeaks - now with 26,634 views

http://www.scribd.com/SPSLeaks

Julian

klh said...

Any news on how the first week went for high schools? I remember lots of concerns about overcrowding and the effect on students at Garfield, and concerns about having enough teachers in place at RBHS with the hiring problems caused by difficulties with central admin. How have these things panned out for people?

Marion said...

I heard Hale is down a science teacher and not all kids that wanted Chemistry can take it?

SST said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SST said...

This Tuesday, September 13th, there will be a town hall meeting on education at Nathan Hale HS, 6-8PM.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn, Senator Scott White, and Dr. Enfield will all be there.

Public welcome.

SST said...

Oh and here is a link to the flyer on the town hall:

http://www.sdc.wa.gov/senators
/white/Education%20townhall.pdf

StopTFA said...

Publicola was observing the antics at the school board meeting Wednesday night...

Under questioning from the board

Worried said...

OK, what are the class size rules these days? My kid's 2nd grade class is up to 33, I think. Way too big. I believe the school is trying to add another class, but is 33 even legal? I can't find that information anywhere.

emeraldkity said...

I believe the school is trying to add another class, but is 33 even legal? I can't find that information anywhere.

I am not sure what the current teacher contract states- in past years class size for K-3rd grade has been capped at 26 students.

StopTFA said...

Another simpering editorial from the Seattle Times:

It's morning in america

It's in the contract said...

Class sizes are based on district wide averages and building "ranges"; teachers can accept extra pay for higher class sizes.

From the 2010-2013 teacher contract:

However, the SPS will maintain the following SPS-wide averages and building ranges:

a. Maintain an average SPS ratio of students to full-time equivalent teachers at no more
than 26:1 for grades K-3, 28:1 for grades 4-5, and 150:1 for grades 6-12 (when grade 6 is conducted using a secondary model), exclusive of Special Education and Bilingual.

b. Elementary Class Size Building Ranges: The SPS will take actions to limit class size to a
building range of 28 or less for grades K-3 and of 32 or less for grades 4-5; the same
building ranges shall apply to self-contained programs except Special Education and
Bilingual.

Elementary Class Size Individual Classrooms:

Take actions to limit individual regular academic class size for grades K-3 to twenty-six (26) and for grades 4-5 (and grade 6
when operated in an elementary model) to twenty-eight (28)...For 2011-2012, in situations in which the limit is exceeded in a regular class in grades K-5 by two (2)
students, following the October 1st enrollment count, SPS will address the overload...The
individual teacher will be compensated for any days after October 1 during which he/she
has an overload.

someone said...

Kiro has story on kindergartner missing near Beacon Hill Elementary -
"Seattle police officers are looking for a missing kindergartner from Beacon Hill International Elementary.
The boy was last seen in 2000 block of 14th Avenue South at 10 a.m.
The 5-year-old boy was wearing a school uniform and is said to have a learning disability"

Huge Classes said...

Current contract is as follows:

Elementary Class Size Building Ranges: The SPS will take actions to limit class size to a building range of 28 or less for grades K-3 and of 32 or less for grades 4-5; the same building ranges shall apply to self-contained programs except Special Education and Bilingual

Amazingly large number of kids for one teacher. I bet you could find 32 employees doing nothing productive for each one working at Central Administration.

Need Expaliner said...

According to this KUOW story just out on TFA,
http://kuow.org/program.php?id=24501, the funders of the TFA fee ($4000 per teacher) are Gates Foundation, Bezos, Raikes, and the Seattle Foundation. Who are these guys and what is their agenda in hiring TFA?

Anonymous said...

Bezos - Amazon
Raikes - Microsoft

Why all the secrecy?

StopTFA said...

Phyllis Fletcher knows her stuff BUT those folks provided about $6.2M (let's not forget Norm Rice and the Seattle Foundation for $200,00) to establish the PNW TFA office. None to UW. None, as far as we know, to SPS. So the UW and SPS (running on fumes) are left holding the bag until Daddy Warbucks drives up in the limo with tinted windows. Note that the UW is incurring $80K in U-ACT start-up costs, thanks to Dean Stritikus' pet project.

WTH does TFA need $6.2M in Seattle for? To hire one "Executive Director" and possibly one or two "Team Leaders" (given the few TFA hires to date). These folks are typically TFA alums with all of two years teaching who now are providing that valuable PD to the TFA-ers in your kid's classroom.

Dorothy Neville said...

Those are foundations. Susan said it was a group of private citizens. I am still not buying it.

Maureen said...

My interpretation of that KUOW piece is that those are the TFA supporters who were announced last fall ($ goes straight to TFA). Are they actually the same ones who are paying the $4000 per candidate that the District is supposed to cover? I thought that was a separate issue and that's the point--As far as I can see, Enfield has not revealed those funders.

Lori said...

Worried, did all 33 kids show up? We have found that each year, a few kids don't show up for whatever reason, so the actual class size is less than the roster number suggests.

My 3rd grader's class has already "lost" 3 students who were on the roster. Depending on what happens in other classes, they may or may not move children within the grade to balance the numbers.

Hopefully, there are enough "no-shows" in your second grade cohort to get to a reasonable number for each class.

StopTFA said...

Maureen, that is my impression also.

someone said...

That's how I read it too - that the $4000 per TFAer is a separate issue. And remains one of life's little mysteries ;o)

I still think, based solely on body language at the last board meeting, that Steve Sundquist actually knows who the donors are - I think that's why he was trying to move things along in such an obvious manner, so that the topic would get dropped.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Right Maureen, those are just the funders for TFA to open shop here. Clearly, they are planning to stay because that's a lot of money.

It is becoming a little silly with Enfield saying she's "busy with other things" when she had loads of time with her TFA friend, Janis Ortega. If nothing else, those e-mails show a LOT of focus on TFA (and the funding). I have no idea why Enfield is stonewalling but it's not really doing her much good and undermines all the other good stuff she is doing.

They found the little boy lost on Beacon Hill according to the Times.

Maureen said...

I'm interested in the idea that someone (though not someone I think!) posted here that TFA may just be waiving the fee but doesn't want the other Districts around the country knowing that. Really though, what's stopping Bezos from just sending his pocket change over to SPS to make it happen--in for a pound, in for a penny.

StopTFA said...

Bezos was clear that

Billionaires want SPS skin in the game. How ludicrous is that!?

Jan said...

I am more bugged by the TfA thing all the time -- but my reasons are shifting. I used to hate the duplicity, the "trojan horse" aspect to the deceitful "reasons" for bringing them here, the "Big Ed" reform connections, etc.

As time passes and the pooh on the shoes spreads, I think that what now bothers me most is just the total inartful cluelessness of the entire conversation around TfA.

Why wasn't this all started with a conversation, among all the stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, other taxpayers, employers, civic minded thinkers, city and state government -- whoever -- I am willing to go "big tent" here). We could have/should have discussed:
The stated purposes of TfA (and how those have changed over time from a "Peace Corps" type program to supply smart, willing "kids" to impoverished schools with teacher shortages to a well-bankrolled, highly connected "leadership training" program for "tomorrow's leaders" -- and what that means for participating schools.
We could have discussed the fee, how much it is, who would pay it -- and the bigger issue of why we are paying "finders" or "placement" or whatever fees to anyone in any case, given that there are plenty of good teachers applying for jobs here (and they didn't bill the District a special finders fee (because they are so special) to hire and/or mentor THEM).
We could have discussed the inherent strains of having the UW sponsor this program, given its cost and the effect on the regular teaching program participants.
We could have discussed the effect on teachers (both the time demands of mentoring kids who may have only had 5 weeks of training, AND the drain on teacher psyche that is inherent when TfA claims that its 5 week trainees are more valuable than teachers with years of classroom experience.)
We could have discussed the merits of "alternative" pathways to teacher training, what those maybe should look like, whether TfA's approach is one we wanted to participate in.
We could have discussed whether a better path for Seattle (since we have no teacher shortage -- but DO have larger than average class sizes and a budget crisis) might be a program to place several dozen "City Year" or similar kids in classrooms as aides/tutors.

But no, we got none of those conversations. What we got was an unimformed, rushed, secretive, divisive, "back door" approach. I don't know to what extent TfA and its supporters were purposefully deceitful and secretive, or just unbelievably clueless, or whether they are just utterly dismissive of any opinions other than their own -- but the result is the same. This COULD have been a really interesting discussion. Instead, it is a political mess.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jan, what's a bit funny is that TFA charges differently per school district.

So the SPS fee is $4k per teacher per year while Federal Way is $3k per teacher per year. Some districts pay $10k a year for the privilege.

What the market will bear, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Any word on this child at Beacon Hill who has gone missing? Wonder what the arrangement are in that school to support children with learning and developmental differences for this to happen. Did they not know of this potential? Are they understaffed?

Concerned

Jan said...

Yes, Stop TFA -- how about that indeed! What the hell is the purpose of "skin in the game" for the District? We didn't ask for these people here (they WANTED to impose themselves). We have no inability to find good teachers without them. "Skin in the game" is usually required when you want to make sure that someone has his/her own assets in a risky proposition -- to make sure they really want to be in it, and that they have an incentive to "stay with it." Well, we don't. I thought it was pretty clear at the original board meeting on TfA that IF SSD was required to pony up, the Board wasn't very interested in spending scare resources. In that event, the District would rather just stick with the dozens of existing teacher applications for each position. "Broadening" the applicant pool was nice, but only if it was (relatively) free (leaving aside the teacher mentoring time, the administrative load, etc.). The time for TfA to tell us they didn't want to play unless we had "skin in the game" was then (THAT would have been an interesting discussion -- though since most of this has been done behind the backs of the Board and the taxpayers, and the UW CoE faculty, it might not have been a conversation any of us would have heard).

Jan said...

Here is another thing -- a few days ago, someone posted with a short list of all of the "benes" being given out by Goldman and others to the TfA kids, once their two year stint is up. We all KNOW two years is about the worst possible timing in terms of actually benefitting from what the teacher (finally) learns on the job -- that they spend 2 years pretty much getting up to speed (or so say virtually EVERY teacher I have ever talked to). If I were on a hiring committee, one question I would want a firm answer to is -- have you already applied for/been accepted for a position after your two year commitment expires? And if the answer was yes, it would be a strong disincentive to hiring. As I see it, the ONLY way the District EVER wins in this deal is if we get one of the really great, passionate to teach TfA members, AND they stay for years, so we get the benefit of all the training they are doing on our kids the first two years.

StepJ said...

Heard on KIRO at about 1 pm that the missing child at Beacon Hill was found -- at school!!

Jan said...

Concerned: KIRO now reports that the child was at school the entire time. They don't know (yet) why he was believed to be missing.

The best of all possible results (other than maybe not being confused about his whereabouts in the first place), in my opinion!

mirmac1 said...

Kindergartener found at school!

Not roaming the halls I hope...

Bird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorothy Neville said...

Look, even in the best of situations with plenty of adults present, kids can get lost. Let's not be hasty in judging this one, but be relieved that it ended fine.

As for TfA, remember, they claim it increases the hiring pool and adds diversity, but really, TfA chooses which of their thousands of recruits to send here. We do not get a much more diverse hiring pool, we got 35 recruits whom TfA believed we should hire. That's not increasing our hiring pool, that's filling 35 slots. We did NOT get an opportunity to select from the thousands which might have actually increased our hiring pool by some actual tangible amount, only from the 35.

Not only did Federal Way have to pay 3K instead of 4K per recruit, they originally had a Penalty if they did not accept enough recruits. In May 2011, that was eliminated from their MOU.

Bird said...

Why wasn't this all started with a conversation, among all the stakeholders

Well, you don't start a conversation when you only want one outcome.

TFA in Seattle makes no sense from an objective viewpoint.

What's fascinating is that the whole thing is driven off of just a handful individuals, who look to me like they are motivated by personal self-interest-- shmoozing, networking, getting that next big job.

I used to wonder why small sums of "donations" gave donors a bigger voice than the public has, since, let's face it, the public funds the works by paying much, much more than any foundation.

Now I see it is a matter of careerism. The echo chamber of institutions can offer district employees personal career advancement -- the public doesn't have those kinds of perks on offer, so why listen to them?

I think we all need to be looking for our own SPS superintendent candidates ourselves now. My personal preference -- someone who wants to stay 10 years and make this the last job of their career. Anyone else, will likely be more motivated by their next job hop than their desire to do what's right for kids in SPS.

I've had enough of that.

As always, thanks SPSLeaks!

someone said...

No Jan it wasn't this "Someone" - I think that was Melissa actually, but maybe not.

Here's what I was thinking about last night - does anyone remember back when Enfield was appointed and the Sup at her last job put out what was essentially a gag order re: talking about her?

I have always wondered what that was about... just a random thought

ok and spiffy about the kid being found - got busy with work and didn't get a chance to check back.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's never lose sight of this truth:

For all of the talk about expanding the candidate pool for teachers, Teach for America only added 35 names to the thousands of certified teacher applicants for SPS teaching jobs, and they only added those names to Level 1 and Level 2 schools. Let's say that there were about 2,000 different applicants for teaching jobs in Seattle. Teach for America expanded that candidate pool by about 1.75%.

Big whoop.

Worried said...

Jan - re: my kid's enormous class

Yep, my understanding is there's 32or 33 little butts in seats in there. My daughter says the teacher is spending a lot of time keeping order.

Earlier this year, the principal said that there are 2 ways to go with the initial class assignments: Go for 3 classes and hope you don't get cut back to 2 big ones, or go the other way around, which she prefers. Start with 2 and presumably add one after the final head count if needed. So we're pretty confident they'll add a 3rd class, in fact I don't see how they can avoid it. It's a bit unnerving at this point, though.

Anonymous said...

Here We Go Again says:

I posted some of the comments on TFA & District secrecy from this thread onto Publicola. I doubt taxpayers understand the extent to which the public is once again being played by our district leadership.

If any blog readers here are as disappointed and downright disgusted by the interim superintendent's apparent willingness to bow to Big Name Funders instead of being forthright with the Board, go post your thoughts on the Publicola thread and educate the city's powerbrokers. They or their staff all read it.

I have lost a lot of respect for Enfield because of this. I am sad to say it.

I always thought people freaking out about Big Ed Reform private money shaping the public system were paranoid. No more.

seattle citizen said...

Charlie wrote that "Teach for America only added 35 names to the thousands of certified teacher applicants for SPS teaching jobs, and they only added those names to Level 1 and Level 2 schools."

But that's not true, is it, that "they only added those names to Level 1 and Level 2 schools"? Surely it couldn't be, because when Director Patu asked the superintendent why TFA was only going to "poor" schools, the superintendent replied that, oh, no, any ol' school could hire TFA! School hiring is site-based, dontcha know! The district admin has NOTHING to do with it!

But of course, the superintendent, in an email to Ortega or some other TFA minion, provides a list of the targeted Level 1 and Level 2 schools....Including Aki Kurose as the sole MS...

Bah.

Word Verifier is MITTED, and ready for a long, cold winter of our discontent.

Anonymous said...

It depends on what the meaning of is is.

In Susan Enfield's world, speaking out of both sides of her mouth seems to had led to few consequences--which may explain why she lost her composure at DeBell's targeted comment about the donor issue being an "either-or."

Think about how Michelle Bachman recovers from her multiple gaffes and half-truths with an equivalent of "It's my story and I'm sticking to it." We've got one of those currently in charge of SPS.

--It was John Wayne Gacy's hometown

seattle citizen said...

StopTFA, do you know where the list of targeted schools is in those email threads? If so, some wiser tech-head than me could juxtapose that piece with the video exchange between the Interim Superintendent and Director Patu...

Word Verifier SWEARS...about this whole bizarreness? That such a juxtoposition would be an eye-popper? Or is WV merely potty-mouthed? Only WV knows.

someone said...

@Seattle citizen - this list of schools is in this email set
Placements

Erin said...

Sure any old school can hire TFA IF they receive the candidates resume from HR. So the real question is - is HR forwarding the TFA candidates to the all schools hiring or just the targeted schools. A site based team can't hire a person they don't receive as a candidate.

There must be a way to find out who's resume was submitted for particular open positions.

suep. said...

We shouldn't lose sight of the bigger picture. Gates, Seattle Foundation, Bezos et al did not shell out over $5 million for TFA, Inc. to set up shop in Seattle-Tacoma merely to have 4 or even 35 TFA novices placed in SPS this year.

No. This is a longterm investment. They are likely laying the groundwork to have TFA, Inc. in place here in the hopes or expectation that their other big agenda item -- charters -- gets pushed through in WA State (which their accomplices at LEV and the PTA are already pushing). Then, these privately run charter enterprises can be staffed with a non-union (and cheaper), young, impressionable, short-term workforce -- ie. TFAers.

'Boots on the ground,' as they say.

The charter franchise of choice of Gates et al is KIPP, Inc. KIPP likes to staff its charter sites with TFA-ers.

KIPP CEO Richard Barth is married to TFA, Inc. CEO Wendy Kopp.

Sweet deal for the Barth-Kopp household (which already got $100 mil. in taxpayer funding compliments of the Obama admin. last year).

But is it a good deal for Seattle's kids?

83 percent of charter schools perform NO BETTER, or PERFORM WORSE than genuine public schools.

(See Stanford University CREDO Report "NEW STANFORD REPORT FINDS SERIOUS
QUALITY CHALLENGE IN NATIONAL
CHARTER SCHOOL SECTOR"
)

Seattle does not need charters.

Seattle does not need TFA, Inc.

But the big boys with money in this town want them. And minions like Enfield are apparently willing to do their bidding to help make their agenda happen, whether parents and the public want it or not.

The 'lucky 13' TFA, Inc. placement list, btw, consists of: Aki, Dearborn, Dunlap, Emerson, Gatzert, Hawthorne, Highland, Leschi, Madrona, MLK, Northgate, Roxhill, W. Seattle Elem. (thanks, SPSLeaks).

suep. said...

Erin -- Also keep in mind that a TFA recruiter was hired by SPS. The skids have been greased.

See: http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2011/04/tfa-news-and-facts.html

Anonymous said...

Replacing the school board who voted for this assault on children of color in poverty--leading to the hiring of a superintendent who works FOR THE PUBLIC--who will then insist on repealing this assault by a "group of private citizens" (and their lapdog, Enfield)--which will enable the repeal of the contract with TFA in SPS (along with changing course on MAP, and the selling out of SPS to the highest bidder).

--Ending the MGJ/Enfield dynasty
(trainwreck) is very hopeful with this election

seattle citizen said...

Erin, in the past teachers applied directly to schools. Once schools had made a hiring decision, the applicant's info would go to HR for vetting and acceptance.

Unless something has changed, I believe this is still the case: An interested applicant delivers their SPS standard form application, a resume, cover letter and whatever other materials directly to the school, not to HR.

I believe the hiring pressure, then, comes through principals, whoi would have en enormous impact on who gets in for an interview and then who gets selected (hiring committees are supposed to have a sort of decision-making ability, but officially (and realistically) the principal is the ultimate gatekeeper.

seattle citizen said...

Okay, I'm behind the times, applicants go through district (so much for site-based decisiopn making...):
"To apply for positions, go to www.seattleschools.org using the NeoGov/online
application system. Once an application is completed, it will be saved in the electronic
system and can be utilized to apply for additional positions. For assistance with online the
application system, contact Harvey Deutsch in Human Resources at:
hdeutsch@seattleschools.org.
The Human Resources Department will screen applications and determine which
candidates will be referred to the schools/programs for interview."

seattle citizen said...

"Neogov"....
Sounds a bit too matrixy for my liking...or Orwellian: Isn't gov just gov, or is now "new"...
shudder

Melissa Westbrook said...

I know that TFA recruits have applied for jobs all over the district, not just those schools. But several schools were named in an e-mail from TFA's Janis Ortega as good possible spots for TFA recruits.

You'll note that no other schools have hired them.

StopTFA said...

The SEA Prez thinks HR sends EVERY resume to the schools, no initial review, no filtering. (What purpose do they serve then, if not to see that applicants meet the mininum quals for the position?) This is an area I intend to probe. What are HR's policies regarding processing applicants. I recall in the SPS/TFA emails a concern that HR might weed out "some otherwise excellent candidates". Like, for example, those lacking endorsements in the areas they seek to teach. Rather basic.

Dorothy Neville said...

StopTFA, it went further than that. Janis was hoping that without making it publicly known, HR could flag TfA applicants as priorities. Had to be quiet because it was against the CBA, but she suggested that the district reopen negotiations on that.

StopTFA said...

Knowing where the interim's proclivities lie, I'm sure she'll get right on that for Janis... No prob., it's only the collectively bargained rights for the vast majority of her employees.

BTW - the discussion's heating up on Publicola

peonypower said...

Class size at high school is huge at Ballard. All of my freshman showed up all 3 days. Right now I am looking at 159 students, which is down from 163 on Wednesday. I guess I'll be grading every single weekend this year.

Felt the earthquake on Friday during 5th period when the room lights started to sway. It didn't seem like an earthquake so no one was scared but that was my guess and I was right. My students are awesome, and I'm excited about the year. Just hoping there will be less district bull this year to suck up my off time with activism.

Rufus X said...

The Thing 1&2 situation update

For those of you following the twin open enrollment debacle:

**Filed a transfer appeal on Sept1;

**After 3 days at their respective schools, Thing 1's APP wait list moved, and I received an email last night there's a spot open at Thing2's school. This is great news and a huge relief. I did several happy dances, and my family laughed heartily when one of those happy dances was a poor attempt to Dougie.

StepJ - In the previous thread, I failed to thank you for the information you provided there. Your clarifications and specific points were incredibly helpful to our family. it helped me wrap my head around the situation and prevented me for searching for something that doesn't exist in policy. Thank you for your support and assistance.

Further - The email from Dr Libros came at 9:30pm last night, and we have corresponded by email today. I can only assume that enrollment HQ is working hard on compiling accurate headcount numbers. I appreciate these efforts tremendously.

Last - From what I can tell, there are still gaps in enrollment policies regarding multiples and open enrollment. Our situation was compounded by thier separate APP/Spectrum designation, but the issues don't go away without this complication. I would encourage parents of multiples or same-grade siblings who are even considering applying at schools outside of their neighborhood assignment to look into the policies and ask questions now. I doubt we are the only family in the district who's been or will be bitten square in the rump.

seattle citizen said...

Principal Lauren Evans, of Rose Hill Junior High School in the Lake Washington School District, is a remarkable person who chronicled a beautiful story using video, and her students are, I'm sure, very lucky to have her lead them.
She is an amateur scuba diver who dives off West Seattle. One day she happened upon an octopus's garden which turned out, shortly, to be nest; she watched it being built. Keeping the location a secret (so as not to bother the expectant mother) she visited weekly and built a rapport of sorts. She was allowed to film as eggs were laid and then hatched. After it all, she edited together footage to make a film: 50,000 Happy Birthdays and posted it up on Youtube.

I heard her story on NPR just now, which made me think she was a thoughtful and attentive person, ergo a great principal! Seeing the video is equally affirming. There is, evidently, an epilogue of sorts covering the time after the birth of the "50,000," during which time the mother, having carefully prepared her children's welcome into the world, does what octopus mothers do: Having expended all her stored energy guarding her children, she dies and her body is consumed by sun stars and other deep denizen, thus helping guard THOSE creature'f futures.

seattle citizen said...

September 25th is NBC's "Education Nation Teacher Town Hall, whatever that is. Perhaps Gates bought some commercial time? I saw this as part of an announcement over on LEV's blog:

"A new project will be making its debut on September 25th at NBC’s Education Nation Teacher Town Hall. A shared venture by Scholastic, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and DonorsChoose.org dubbed “Teacher Wall” will be a new spin on social networking focused on educators. The new site, which is currently on a mission to collect video clips from 1,000 teachers, will enable users to connect with one another through stories, successes, and everything education.
If you are an educator, and would like to submit to a video and be a part of this new project, you can find more information at the Teacher Wall website."

Word Verifier is worried that most things Gates are DETRO, but who knows...

seattle citizen said...

Ah, and who sponsors NBC’s Education Nation? University of Phoenix, State Farm, Microsoft, the Gates Foundation, the Bezos Family Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Broad Foundation, Scholastic, and America’s Promise Alliance. So students can get their on-line degree (Phoenix) via technology designed by an edu-tech company (Microsoft), marketed by an edu-tech business (Scholastic), supported by free-market profiteers (Broad, Gates Foundations) using the “achievement gap” as measured by technology to sell the concept to minorities (America’s Promise.)All broadcast in primetime by our friends at NBC.
Great!

Jan said...

RufusX -- that is really great news (and kudos to the folks at District who are working so hard this week on enrollment issues). Any chance your family videotaped the happy dance and is willing to post it so we can all enjoy? :>)

Anonymous said...

Dear peonypower, my distinguished colleague,

By my last count, we currently have 10 teachers with at least one class over 40 at Ingraham.

We have one teacher with 163 students, one with 168, one with 171, one with 178, and one with 182.

I'm sorry to say that we're overcrowded at Ingraham, and it was all entirely predictable.

DWE

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot to add that our largest class size at Ingraham is 47. More furniture has been ordered so that students don't have to sit on the floor.

DWE

dan dempsey said...

DWE,

All the better to hire a lot of TfAers at Ingraham.

Entirely predictable.

Stack 'em deep and teach 'em cheap.

Class size does not matter. -- MGJ

mirmac1 said...

Now here's a teacher using her noggin. Too bad the billionaires can't find a way to make a profit on it, so she turns to DonorsChoose.

Story on Central District News

StepJ said...

Rufus X,

So happy for your Things and your family. Hooray!!

StepJ said...

Related to Rufux X...

Thank you to the folks in Enrollment working on the waiting lists this year.

The siblings are moving off the wait lists much earlier this year than last (at least in the NE.) It was a long summer of waiting for many families - but very appreciate that it will not be a long September as well.

Thank you.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rufus, thanks for the update and the advice. Very helpful.

Anonymous said...

"Too bad the billionaires can't find a way to make a profit on it, so she turns to DonorsChoose."

I do have to point out that the Billionaires are pretty big supporters of DonorsChoose.

I love Donors Choose, but I do think that we have to legitimately worry that it's replacing a basic support of education with a requirement that teachers beg for their classrooms.

Honestly, I just read through the Leschi list at DonorsChoose and it made me cry. Teachers are asking for writing journals, markers, bookshelves and desks.

I can't stand it. I've felt comfortable using Donors Choose to buy trumpets for a school, but a desk? What next? Is a teacher going to have to beg for an electric heater for her classroom because the kids are freezing?

I feel a bit despairing.

(zb)

someone said...

I see what you mean about Donors Choose zb - it's lovely that such a place exists, but a sad commentary on our society that it needs to - that we don't adequately fund the most important resource on the planet - kids.

Lately, everytime I read a headline about some sports star getting millions of dollars to toss/kick/hit a ball around, I could weep - why can't we see we are valuing the wrong skills - well at the very least, overvaluing.

Anonymous said...

Was it stated that there's a TFA position at SPS now? And how much money goes to the MAP test? How many PR people are employed downtown? This is the stuff that the district has control over. If some of these positions are grant-funded, then maybe those in charge should start seeking grants that benefit the basic needs of students in the classroom, rather than futhering the ideologies of the superintendent and her "group of private citizens."

--courage to change the things you can

klh said...

Are there plans to hire more teachers to bring down the class sizes in those 40+ student classes at Ingraham? I remember talk about having substitutes ready, etc., but is it happening? Not a good situation for the students or the teachers!

RootCause said...

If I could do a request for a topic for a new thread, it may just be a rat's nest, but I would like to see us talk a little bit about what diversity in schools means.

What counts as diversity? Income disparities, the blending of poor, middle class, and rich? Homosexual or heterosexual parents at home? First generation immigrants (even if white immigrants from Europe or Russia) and non-English languages spoken at home? If race only, does Asian or Indian count as diversity? East African or north African immigrants? Or are we talking specifically and only about African Americans and whites when we say diversity?

Anonymous said...

klh,

We do not have substitutes to break up large class sizes at Ingraham.

I expect that we'll hear in a few days whether we're getting any more teachers.

DWE

Anonymous said...

Is 40+ class size normal for HS? What about languages and AP classes? We are trying to do some HW now re: HS options. 40+ seems a bit high. What is the normal HS class size range you usually see in the northend? Finally, for those of you with insight or foresight, will these large class sizes continue in the next few years?

Thanks,
PS parent

seattle citizen said...

If I could make an educated guess about HS class size around Seattle over the last couple of decades I would say that a "typical" HS Language Arts class has had about 27-28 students, maybe 30.

40 students in an LA class is gi-normous.

40 in ANY class is too many. Langauge Arts is used here to illustrate the impact - if a teacher with five classes of 30 assigned one five page paper, that teacher will be looking at 750 pages of material when the assignment is handed in by all students. At, say, one minute per page, that is 750 minutes of review of that one assigment, or 12.5 hours. If there are 40 students, the time spent reviewing that assignment would be almost 17 hours. So what naturally happens? More students = fewer essays and/or less time in review of those essays. You get what you pay for, and few teachers will be willing to just work themselves to death grading papers, so the amount of work and the quality of review will suffer.

seattle citizen said...

PS parent, my comment above was addressed to you, as you can tell, and I'd add that I do not see class sizes getting smaller anytime soon: Rather, do to "economies of scale" I see class sizes growing very large, lessons packaged and systematized (losing much of the depth and nuance in the process) and the whole public education machine being reformatted into a drab shadow of its former and current glory. With diminishing investment, it will all be streamlined and lose its ability to meet a variety of needs with a variety of useful (but un-state-tested) subjects. Teachers will be timed, answers will be rote, students will be turned into dullards.

I'm sorry to say it, because I suspect you ask because you are thinking "private?" but it is what it is unless citizens demand more from their public schools and demand funding to provide the level of attention parents and guardians might expect.

Anonymous said...

Seattle Citizen said I'm sorry to say it, because I suspect you ask because you are thinking "private?" but it is what it is unless citizens demand more from their public schools and demand funding to provide the level of attention parents and guardians might expect.

I find your posts to be very insightful and though-provoking...but how, exactly, do we demand these things? I write my legislators, I write the school board. I voted to create a state income tax on upper-end earners. I did not vote to repeal the bottle tax. I have dealt with the District to try and remove an ineffective principal. I invested hundreds of volunteer hours to help improve my child's public school.

I finally gave up and we went "private" for middle and now high school. The small class sizes and more individualized attention are the major draw—along with a more broad curriculum and in-depth teaching.

I still support public education, and still "demand" that my legislators do something to improve public schools. But I, like most people in America, have little power compared to big money. When the powers that be demonize teachers for wanting smaller class sizes, etc., many people start to believe that schools have more than enough money. I honestly don't know what we can do to make the real changes needed.

SolvayGirl

Jan said...

SolvayGirl -- I hear you, and I agree. And my kids used a "blend" of public and private schools.

But here is the thing. In the end, in a democracy, it is ballots that count. Gates, et al have only succeeded with this Board because they bought (not through corruption, mind you, but by financing their campaigns -- and spin) four board members long before people in Seattle had ed reform in their sights. It doesn't HAVE to be that way -- espeically not in an internet/facebook/twitter age. Yes, there is lots of falsehood and fiction in cyberspace, but it is also possible to contact a LOT of people, for far less money than it used to cost. Money wins if and when it can buy the ballots. (THAT was the real travesty of last year's Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate money into politics). If we can't control money, then we need to turn to information -- who controls it.

In the end, if we can get people in Seattle to change the Board, we can start to change the schools.

Here is where folks like Charlie, Melissa, Sahila, suep, and many many others begin to matter -- we need to reach LOTS of people with the news (now dawning on a national basis, not just here) that ed reform is NOT all about the kids; that it represents a massive transfer of wealth from kids and classrooms to the pockets and boardrooms of Big Ed; and a massive degradation of classical liberal education -- in a manner that is NOT being followed by our "competition" in India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Finland, etc.

We can do this -- but the time to pour on the effort is now -- this fall -- this election.

Maureen said...

Jan says: ...ed reform is NOT all about the kids; that it represents a massive transfer of wealth from kids and classrooms to the pockets and boardrooms of Big Ed...

I fought this concept to some extent for a long time (resisting the 'tin foil hat' implications.) But I have never seen a clear rebuttal of this view. I know there are "Reformers" lurking out there -- Can you make an argument that makes me dial down my paranoia?

seattle citizen said...

Jan,
I agree that we citizens can vote in board directors who work towards the goal of positive classrooms and schools.

But Solvay is, unfortunately, speaking perhaps of the higher levels of financing and policy - fed and state governments, Dept of Ed etc. I, too, wonder how we craft and enact a national support of, say smaller class sizes in the current environment of constriction, free markets, and a general disdain for educators and public schools.
The disdain we might be able to change, but in some ways it's dependent on money, and lots of it. Contrary to popular opinion, we really haven't been "throwing money at schools to solve problems" all these years - We've been improving delivery in many ways, not the least of which are the many attempts (some actually successful, how 'bout that?) to be more inclusive in our schools, and to offer more to more students. Special Ed, technology, ELL, AP (or other higher level offerings)...The "diversity" mentioned elsewhere on the blog is a real goal of many educators, and has been a goal of policy and funding for decades. These things cost money.

Now, it seems, the spigot is running dry, for a variety of reasons. My feeling is that class sizes WILL increase, offerings WILL be constricted, because labor is expensive.

I don't know how we change this. It would take a lot of money, and do it equitably presents its own problems. Can we create a will in the nation to divert more money to education? Can we create more support for the job that public schools do?
I'm not optimistic in the short term. I don't know how it could be done as the dollars we are talking about are big, and the nation is pulling the plug left and right on its public services.

WV sees it as fulityr than futility.

dan dempsey said...

Speaking of what is going on with dumbing down in our schools ... try this piece from Barry Simon, the chairman of the mathematics department at Caltech.

February 6, 1998 : Los Angeles Times

A Plea in Defense of Euclidean Geometry

--- ... But I am concerned about the country as a whole. The dumbing down of high school education in the United States, especially in mathematics and science, is a crime that must be laid at the doorstep of the educational establishment. We must demand that the level of high school science and mathematics being taught be improved, starting, of course, with Euclidean geometry.

=====
Meanwhile we pay folks like Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Carla Santorno and Susan Enfield to do this to our kids.

Jan said...

Boy, seattle citizen -- I don't know where to start -- partly because I don't really have great answers for the "really big" questions -- as you have framed them, and partly because they ARE really big.

As I currently see it (and I think I see very dimly here -- so I won't be offended if you all tell me I have this all wrong), I would like to see the Federal government involved ONLY as it pertains to really big, over arching things - the civil rights stuff -- like no, you can't just kick all the SPED kids out, or put them in the closet with construction paper and dull scissors; and no, separate but equal won't work. I think NCLB has been an expensive disaster that should be killed, as are the national common standards. I think that funding of education should be left to local/state governments -- and that all this federal grant money sloshing around -- with huge tiebacks into for-profit charter companies, big ed publishing companies, ed reform testing companies -- well, it should all stop. We can't afford it even if it were working. And not only is it NOT working -- it is actually making the "product" -- the learning -- worse.

This permits states and local communities to continue to experiment and evolve educational practice -- so you can have states like Massachusetts who seem to be getting a great deal more for their dollars than some other states -- and states like Washington. Yes, big foundations and businesses who want to buy education can still interfere at the state and local level, but I think they do their worst (to them best) work at the national level, where lobbying dollars go the farthest.

THEN, within THIS state, I think we need to get all of the stakeholders (teachers, kids, parents, employers, universities) together and start drilling down on how we can get the best possible outcomes in really lean times. The COE should be part of this, and so should the science/math/applied math/engineering departments of colleges. What can we put online? What already IS online? How can we cost effectively deliver targeted interventions? What about kids who want to be machinists? What about kids who want alternative education?

This isn't an answer for everything. But Obama and Arne Duncan just shouldn't be involved in this. This is building by building, kid by kid, school by school work. Even at the state level it is unwieldy (though state standards, levy equalization, funding, etc. -- to say nothing of the Washington constitution -- indicate that the state should have a role).