Friday, September 30, 2011

Open Thread Friday

There a meet-and-greet tonight for School Board challengers Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslees who will be joined by UW prof/meterorologist Cliff Mass  from 6-8 p.m. at the Puget Ridge Cohousing Assn, 7020 SW 18th, north of SW Myrtle. 

Next week, the district should have the Oct 1 (or is it today's?) head count that is the final count for staffing and enrollment.  What will the numbers reveal?  Should be interesting.

What's on your mind?

38 comments:

Rufus X said...

Wait lists are wiped out at the end of today, correct? As of 9:30am, last report was run Monday 9/26 8am. 2666 still on waiting lists. This is down from 3002 at the start of the school year.

WV is funny today - nomolike.

StopTFA said...

Here's a juicy one, fresh off the wire:

TFA lawyers have a few edits first

RosieReader said...

Everything old is new again. Lest anyone think that large class sizes are a new thing, today I got a link to an article that confirms that in the late 1950s, Salmon Bay School housed 1620 students. (Its current enrollment is 604.) Even with 7 extra portables on the site, imagine what that meant for class sizes!! (http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/history%20book/monroe.pdf?sessionid=a9f5ee8f81a018b9f89f9e85f598c386)

For those of us who were educated in an overcrowded school system in the 50s and 60s and 70s, did you turn out okay? I certainly received a great education. I think we need to remember that when we are deciding how "hot" to get about certain issues, like class size.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Did you turn out okay? Interesting question because is okay the best we can hope for?

I didn't get a great education but I wasn't in especially large class sizes either(except gym which was huge). Also, teaching back then was very kill and drill and rote.

If you want more critical thinking and analysis, it's going to be harder in larger classes.

If you are including more Special Ed students, it's going to be harder.

If you want to combine AP and regular curriculum, it's going to be harder.

Everyone having access to a computer in the library? Harder with a larger class size.

But we all did learn without a lot of things so yes, it can be done.

anonymous said...

When my kids started school in SPS 10 years ago students remained on the waitlist all year long if they desired. They could also transfer to a new school any time during the year if the new school had space for them.

Four or five years ago the district changed the way they handled waitlists. They decided that all waitlists would dissolve on October 31st. Kids could not be on a waitlist for any school after that date, nor could they change schools after that date (even if the school they wanted to transfer to had space for them.

A couple of years ago the district shortened the the waitlist deadline again. This time to September 30th. After September 30th a child can't be on a waitlist for any school, and can not transfer to a new school even if that school has space for them.

In my view this is just another way for them to take away choice. Why? Who does this policy serve? It is certainly not in the best interest of our students to so severely restrict their opportunities.

Still waiting

Dorothy Neville said...

I think asking the cohort here if they turned out OK is missing the point. Completely scientifically invalid. Would have to poll a random sample of the kids from that era, instead of those who frequent this blog.

What percent turned out OK? And who was being educated and where? Seattle had housing covenants until the 1960s. What was the unemployment rate and what percent of kids lived in poverty? How many languages were spoken at home?

And when did the country earnestly start educating kids with disabilities?

StopTFA said...

Here's a juicy one, fresh off the wire:

TFA lawyers have a few edits first

mirmac1 said...

I just want to say that Madison MS Curriculum Night was great and I'm so impressed with my daughter's teachers (nearly all UW MIT grads).

mama1948@juno.com said...

In regard to the TfA posting above at 10:00 AM...

Once again it appears that Jennifer Wallace the executive Director of the PESB (Professional Educator Standards Board) is very similar to a sales agent for TfA.

Later the PESB made a pro TfA ruling... the SPS and OSPI have continually ignored the law governing conditional certificates for TfA.... choosing to ignore the requirement for "All careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps".

where is my Republic?

-- Dan Dempsey
==============
The school directors running for reelection mention transparency and public engagement and communication... Yet refuse to even respond to: ... When has a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps in the SPS occurred?

RosieReader said...

Dorothy, I wasn't saying anything about scientific validity. I was just making the point that we jump to "gloom and doom" as if we were the first generation that faced challenges in our public school system. There are always challenges of one sort or another, and yet most of the world does okay. Heck, at least we're trying to educate kids who weren't even allowed in the system in the 50s or 60s. Yes, we have much much further to go. But we've also come awfully far.

But if we're talking scientific validity, and the issue is class size, I don't think there's much out there either way that supports any conclusions about class size and student performance. There's a lot of anecdote and strongly held beliefs that small classes are "better," but again, if you want to ding me on scientific validity, then I'd ask merely that the same standard be applied across the board.

Anonymous said...

We also had a great experience at Hale's curriculum night. Feeling lucky that our two students there have such passionate teachers who clearly love being at Hale and love the way high school minds work.

Hale parent

klh said...

My child's individual MSP results from last spring's test are finally posted on The Source. Don't know what date they were finally posted, but they are there now.

Dorothy Neville said...

Well, I for one do not post much if anything on class sizes. I agree that it is a complicated issue.

I disagree with the extreme view of Gates and others that we can make class sizes arbitrarily large when we have identified the star teachers and have gotten rid of the rest. That just makes no sense.

Otherwise, what you get is discussions that are all anecdotal or based on one's perception of "common sense" which is not necessarily accurate. You simply asked a question designed to get us thinking more in terms of anecdotes and that doesn't, imo, further the discussion fruitfully.

Here's more anecdotes.

I do recall one regular poster here commenting about how one year her child was in an unusually small elementary school class and the teacher responded not by capitalizing on that to differentiate and do more, but to take is as an opportunity to take a breather for a year. My son's 9th and 10th grade LA classes at RHS were very small -- RHS targeted those classes with I728 money (right before it disappeared) but what good did it do? One would think it would provide the teachers with more opportunity to teach, read and critique papers, provide a better scaffolding experience to get underclassmen off to a strong start in HS. Well, that was the rationale behind those particular targeted small class sizes. Instead, both his 9th and 10 grade LA teachers stunk. Never, ever did he get one comment on his written work, never any help to improve his writing or critical thinking or understanding of the literature. Incomprehensible rubrics inconsistently applied and only peer review of the occasional papers or essays assigned. Not really good value for the I728 money at all.

On the other hand, when you get classes and teachers where historically the teacher and curriculum DO require lots of work and the teacher historically HAS read and commented on each student's work in a thoughtful manner, it does appear straightforward that if one increases class size for that teacher, one simply cannot expect the same attention to each student's work.

Floor Pie said...

"For those of us who were educated in an overcrowded school system in the 50s and 60s and 70s, did you turn out okay?"

I'm not a fan of the whole "...and I turned out okay" argument. We used to ride seatbelt-less in the back of station wagons and I turned out okay! Therefore... See, it doesn't really work.

I survived the trendy "open classroom" thing in the 70's, getting passed over for the "gifted" program because I was too shy, creationism in 8th grade (really!), getting bullied in grades 7-8,and a homophobic health teacher. Yes, I turned out "okay." But I want to set the bar a little higher for my own kids.

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't want to bring back those good old days of Mad Men as much as I like the style and dry martinis. It is purely selfish of course, growing up in the South meant a different way of living, my parents should have been in jail for miscegenation, and "Strange Fruit" meant more than a pretty song.

As to class size in early 1970s, I remember having class size of 30 to 35 in 5 and 6th grades. However, we had teacher's aide galore. There were 2 ladies in the lunchroom to monitor us along with 3 who prepared the hot meals and serveed them. NO parent volunteers. Discipline was corporal and pretty ruthless. Our neighborhood was pretty segregated, but busing didn't happened in our area and was just starting in certain cities prompting the start of white flight. The ability to bus kids also loss some bite from later Supreme Court ruling in 1974.

-not nostalgic

Anonymous said...

For those of us who were educated in an overcrowded school system in the 50s and 60s and 70s, did you turn out okay?

Actually, no I did not thrive in overcrowded classrooms, thankfully I had parents who recognized my that I was struggling and was moved to a small private school where I received an excellent college prep education with small class sizes and lots of individual attention. Thirty years later am still thankful for my parents decison!

A Parent

Anonymous said...

And when did the country earnestly start educating kids with disabilities?

The real question is: When WILL the country start educating kids with disabilities earnestly?

IDEA was passed in 1975. And that meant that schools had to something with students with disabilities. Before that, no school at all. They would turn people away at the door.

Currently, they still turn people away at the door. It's just that the door is inside the building instead of outside of it. And they wouldn't even do that if they didn't have to.

sped-parent

whittier07 said...

Floor Pie ... I think we must have went to the same school! :)

someone said...

Funny, not sure I've thought about how many kids were in any of my classes as a kid in the 70s - I remember my 6th grade teacher most for having a problem with me being taller than him - not for anything I learned. The best teacher I ever had in elementary went on to become an equally specutacular school administrator - she was far ahead of her time and still influences me today. But I think there were like 28 kids in that class - so it wasn't about small size - it was about caring and creativity.

Anonymous said...

35 kids in my public school classes 1-6, not a single teacher's aide, and our teachers did PE. They got a break once a week when the music teacher came through. I did fine but I'm sure not everyone did.

My mom was a teacher then and did differentiate to her class of 35...she worked lots of hours preparing. She taught in a school with lots of migrant kids. They'd come to school tired from working crops.

The principal had to cover for her when she had a doctor's appt and he nearly went crazy because the kids were "everywhere". They'd come in to a card with their name on it telling them what stations they would go to that day. Her kids excelled.

She's send the hyper ones (not diagnosed with anything and not medicated (no one had heard of ADD or ADHD in those days) to do their work with markers on huge pieces of butcher paper taped up in the hallways so that they could MOVE while working.

Those "kids" still send her Christmas cards, and they are in their 40s.

So not all teachers were doing drill and kill back then, and with hard work, she differentiated more than I've seen in my kids' classes of 24, jammed with parent volunteers.

Just one voice

Anonymous said...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-kolbert/education-nation-finland_b_987881.html

Education Nation review,thoughts and links. I liked Diane Ravitch and Geoffrey Canada linked segment.

Public School Parent

dan dempsey said...

TfA the trickle continues..

Check the Agenda for the coming board meeting...

Request for PESB to grant a conditional teaching certificate to 1 member of the Teach for America corps to teach in Seattle Public Schools.

Introduction/Action item.
==========================

When did the careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps occur?

seattle citizen said...

"When did the careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps occur?"

Last Tuesday over drinks at Ray's Boathouse. You shoulda been there; it was a hoot!

Christina said...

The Wikipedia article on Seattle Public Schools is several years out of date:
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Seattle_Public_Schools#List_of_schools

Wikipedia's content is contributed, edited and maintained by volunteers.

Now that Seattle Times is not updating its data for Seattle Schools, and the Seattle Public Schools has had a redesign, does anyone know where a concentrated online source of current, accurate information can be found so some plucky volunteer proofreader/editor can improve the page?

Maybe I can get five weeks' pay cleaning SeattleSchools.org's dead links under the "Content Managers for America" program.

BettyR said...

7th generation is doing this:
http://www.seventhgeneration.com/about/partners/teachforamerica

I wrote them and told them I loved their lavender and eucalyptus laundry detergent, but that I won't be buying it for awhile. Luckily, BUST magazine has a recipe for making your own laundry soap in the new issue.

Anonymous said...

I've been informed that Sharon Peaslee has been endorsed by the SEA. I'm not surprised. She appreciates the good work that good teachers do and understands that education policy must be based on the premise that children learn through their interactions with their teachers, their colleagues, their family, and their community. Her opponent has never understood this, as evidenced by his interview with the 36th District Democrats, in which he had not one good word to say about teachers, though he did reserve praise for Dr. Enfield.

Apparently, the political establishment is coming around to the same view: Sharon Peaslee has now received sole endorsements from the 37th, 34th, 43rd and 36th Legislative Districts. The 36th District endorsement is particularly significant, because it's Peter Maier's home district where he has been a PCO for thirty years. (It's also my home district, and I have more history and, in some ways, more respect for his dedication to public service than some of the people who purport to support him.)

And now Sharon Peaslee has received the endorsement of the King County Democrats. She's on a roll, and I look forward to Sharon Peaslee, Ingraham parent, becoming Director Peaslee.

DWE

Christina said...

BettyR, you could also use two tbsps. Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds for the wash, and toss in a dampened washcloth dewed with drops of eucalyptus and lavender into the dryer. You'd still be supporting a green company and scenting your laundry the way you like.

Also, props to you for reading BUST.

Anonymous said...

Anyone realize this is going on with high schoolers?

http://westseattleblog.com/2011/10/teachers-disturbing-discovery-in-west-seattle-park-hazing

It was reported in West Seattle but the kids are from Seattle high schools outside West Seattle.

yumpears

Anonymous said...

Did you see this?
http://www.seventhgeneration.com/about/partners/teachforamerica

time to send a letter off to seventh generation....

star

Melissa Westbrook said...

Star, yes, I did write about this previously. If Apple pulled back on its association with TFA, maybe 7th Gen will. I wrote to them about it.

Yumpears, what a mess. Kids from Roosevelt and Garfield over at West Seattle? The Board and Pegi McEvoy need to know about this; I'll write to them and cc Tim Burgess. I don't think the kids will be using that area once he knows.

Anonymous said...

Thump writes in Tuesday's open thread:

Unless it's changed, the AL department falls within the Special Ed Department, because those students also fall outside the bell curve/middle/normally developing student range. [] If I understood my conversation with the AL department, that means that every Spectrum and APP child is eligible for an IEP to get their academic needs met.

This is absolutely false. You either misunderstood the AL department, or they have misinformed you. A number of years ago, they both had the same administrator.

Giftedness has never been a category in special education. Special education, by definition, is the federal mandate for the education of students with disabilities defined under IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Act. There's another law: ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. ADA describes the provisions of accommodations for people with qualifying disabilities, in various settings, including educational settings. Notably, the ADA doesn't require an IEP (individualized education plan) or a FAPE (free and appropriate public education). You probably incorrectly assumed everyone should get a FAPE. Me too.

Funny, how lots of people try to horn in on the entitlements provided students with disabilities, as if they themselves are also disabled. We have these laws for students with disabilities because schools have historically NOT served students with disabilities, and those students need protection as a class. It may be true that not all the needs of gifted learners have always been met, it's a far cry from the history of disability in the nation.

Here are the 13 qualifying categories under IDEA:

• autism;
• deaf
• deaf-blindness;
• deafness;
• emotional disturbance;
• hearing impairment;
• mental retardation;
• multiple disabilities;
• orthopedic impairment;
• other health impairment;
• specific learning disability;
• speech or language impairment;
• traumatic brain injury; or
• visual impairment (including blindness).

Notice. "Giftedness" is not a special education category. IEP's are a required legal document under IDEA. IEP's are not required for any other students. Not all students with disabilities are entitled to an IEP either. Some students qualify only under ADA, but not IDEA. If so, the don't get an IEP. If a "gifted" student also has a qualifying disability under IDEA, then they are entitled to and IEP. They are also entitled to an LRE (least restrictive environment) and whatever services that are provided other gifted students. Most often, students with this twice exceptionality are denied access to gifted programming. There are plenty of severely autistic gifted students, and highly gifted students who do not have any access to advanced learning. Often, these students are stuck in self-contained special education programs. There are actually highly gifted, and also non-verbal, full-blown autistic students. Imagine APP serving someone like that. It doesn't happen.

In fact, in an earlier version of the NSAP, the district codified a hierarchy of needs based school assignments. This hierarchy precluded school assignments based on mulitple needs. Special education assignments were prioritized first, leaving out the possiblity that students with severe needs could ever be assigned to have their advanced needs meant. Meaning - you are assigned by your disability, not your ability. If you are assigned to a self-contained autism program for example, then your "advanced learning" status is never acknowledged, and you will never be assigned to a different school with an APP. When this illegal language in the NSAP was pointed out to the district, they simply deleted the language but kept the practice. Business as usual in SPS.


-spedvocate

Maureen said...

Public School Parent, thanks for that link. Interesting that Geoffrey Canada called out Seattle (and Denver) for innovation (at 37:10 minutes). I wonder what he is referring to?

dan dempsey said...

At the next Board meeting on Wednesday...

there is an intro item for NWEA MAP testing for one more year for $483,500.

-----
These assessments provide benchmark data to understand student growth and can be used to determine progress towards meeting state expectations, as measured by the state assessments (Measures of Student Progress [MSP] and High School Proficiency Exams [HSPE]).


[[[Note failure to mention End of Course Assessments in Math from OSPI]]]

MAP assessments are particularly useful because of the growth data it provides, the ability to benchmark against a national pool of students, the consistency of the test across school years and grades, its use as part of the agreement with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) as part of the teacher evaluation system under the collective bargaining agreement, and for the information that can be used to direct supports and interventions at the school and district level.

=============

So how has MAP been used to " direct supports and interventions at the school level"? -- Where is there evidence of this practice and a measure of efficacy?

Did 8th grade MAP testing indicate that the District should not offer any math classes below Algebra I to entering 9th graders ?

Did MAP testing contribute anything to 62% of Low-Income 9th graders that took Algebra and failed to meet standard on the End of Course Algebra Test from OSPI? How about for the 36% that scored at Far Below Standard?

Face facts=> MAP is an inappropriate tool for much of anything. It is a waste of $483,564

This is a case for spending on testing instead of spending on Students. The MAP sucks up instructional time for no apparent reason other than District leadership wants it this way .... because it is all part of the Ed Reform package ... that the Board has been buying lock stock and barrel for four years.

Definitely time to DUMP...
Carr, Sundquist, Martin-Morris, and Maier.

seattle citizen said...

Intersting article in today's New York Times Opinion section:
Meet the New Super People

Discusses, um, overachievers (particularly youth and young adults) who somehow find the time to do EVERYTHING, and how maybe society has come to believe that this is well, good, and really the best competitive model for these young adults and the educators to follow....

Anonymous said...

Ah well, at a recent dinner, I was called a slacker for finding the time to read the Sunday's NYT. What can I say. It was my time and I was multitasking with my favorite read while on the throne.

over achieving, super slacker

seattle citizen said...

"...finding the time to read the Sunday's NYT"

I moved from NY decades ago. The hour or two I spend flying through the NYT every Sunday morning is my last connection, perhaps, to my NY roots. That, and it IS all the news that's fit to print! (If one is still a fancier of print, in this digital age...)

Times well spent!Though I wonder about your throne time, OESS, if you are getting through the Sunday NYT whilst sitting thusly...

dan dempsey said...

SC,

Don't for get the "New Yorker" for a magazine and cut out some of the comics for the fridge.

-- Dan