Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday Open Thread

To note; there is a rally outside the Seattle Art Museum this Thursday at 8:30 am where Amazon is having its annual shareholders meeting.  I had mentioned this previously as a way to let Amazon know it should get out of ALEC.  I have learned that this will be a fairly large rally as the Occupy Seattle folks will also be there.  If you are planning to attend, know it is likely to be large and noisy (as it should be). 

What's on your mind?


43 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Hamilton, Madison, and Denny did GREAT at the annual Silverwood "Music in the Parks" competition. Where's the news release!??

mirmac1 said...

@lkvarner

It is do or die day. Will Washington have a charter school initiative on the ballot or not?

hmmm, do you think a little birdie told her something?

Maureen said...

Yesterday's New York Times had this article on diverting state tax money to private schools: Public Money Finds Back Door to Private Schools. A relative owns a business in PA and he told me that diverts a chunk of his business taxes to benefit his kids' Catholic school.

From that school's website: The Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), provides companies with a 75% tax credit for donations to a non-profit scholarship or educational improvement organization. The tax credit increases to 90% if the company commits to making the same donations for two consecutive years. A business paying taxes in Pennsylvania can receive up to $300,000 in tax credits annually. They collected over $200,000 in EITC money (about 450 kids in the school) last year.

It sounds like this method (stealth vouchers) is spreading through the country. Something we should be aware of.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Saw that Maureen and was going to put it in the news roundup. If people like charters, they'll love vouchers (covert or otherwise).

Anonymous said...

Is there a district policy on playground supervision? Are there adult to child ratios that need to be maintained, and do most schools rely solely on parents for this job, or have paid staff?

Playground Curious

Sahila said...

You think testing is bad now? Check this out... Coming Deluge Of Tests

Anonymous said...

I have a question about requesting meetings with the school principal. Requests for individual meetings have always been honored, but requests to meet with another parent present are not (this has been our experience with more than one principal). Is there some reason why a principal would not honor such a request? Does something procedural kick in when a small group (2-3 parents) meets with the principal vs an individual parent?

parent

Disgusted said...

Mirimac is correct. There will be an attempt to get charter schools on the ballot. Carlyle's post and LKV's tweet are not accidental- rather part of a coordinated effort to support charters.

Someone said...

Fyi - latest WA State Auditor report out on SPS - covers up thru Aug. 2011

Seattle Public Schools

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not sure about a policy about playground supervision. I think it is a principal's call although children are not supposed to be on school grounds before a certain time (for lack of supervision) and there probably is some kind of ratio needed.

I think if they don't have parent volunteers, teachers have to rotate playground duty.

Parent, as far as principal meetings, I'd suspect that it's one of two things.

One, they may perceive that your issue even if, say, about the same teacher, means different things to each of student involved.

Two, they don't have someone else to cover the meeting. Meaning, the principal would not have a private meeting with more than one parent without another teacher, counselor, or Ex director present. They need to cover themselves for what is said at the meeting.

mirmac1 said...

Ah, so the SAO doesn't cover through the term of our TFA? Interesting.

Also, I understand that misuse of restricted funds for SpEd monies would fall under the "accountability" audit, due in June.

Jan said...

Tell me if I am reading this right. The two issues found have to do with the continued non-compliance with the Indian Grant (failure to pull together the paperwork to back up all kids claimed -- but at a much lower level than in the past ($6,000+ total), and failure to sign timesheets/certificates in connection with a whole host of SPED and Title 1 programs. But those are the only two findings. Is that right?

If so, am I correct in thinking that there is improvement -- at least on THIS audit?

Jan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eileen said...

To Playground Curious. Different schools do different things. Some have paid playground supervisors who work with school staff (teachers, IAs, nurse, principal, therapists, whoever can be grabbed). I have never seen schools use parent volunteers, but that's not to say it doesn't happen. The ratio? Whatever it takes to control the chaos! : )

Charlie Mas said...

Jan, I think you're right. This is a pretty darn good audit.

The Special Education certificate signature matter seems like a minor "dot the i, cross the t" sort of thing.

The Native American Education issue, however persistent, is exclusively a problem with this one program.

A darn good audit for Seattle Public Schools.

mirmac1 said...

Sorry, Charlie. Gotta disagree again. The auditors said that accounting did their job to remind, and then remind again, that certification of work performed was necessary. Supervisors basically said eff you, I'm not signing my name on the dotted line for noncompliant practices. Otherwise WHY wouldn't district supervisors do what private industry must do before they bill the feds under federal contracts?

GreyWatch said...

Just saw this news posted on Ingraham's website:


Traffic Education discontinued for the Fall 2012
Seattle Public Schools to discontinue Traffic Education on Aug. 31. Starting in the fall, the District will no longer offer traffic education. During lean budget times, the District can no longer afford to offer this program, which is not a part of our core academic mission. Costs to maintain and insure a car fleet, as well as staffing costs, are not fully covered by student fees. In addition, the District is no longer able to offer competitive prices to families, so we are seeing dwindling enrollment in traffic education. However, Seattle Public Schools will still offer summer traffic education this year, before ending the program on Aug. 31, 2012.

Maureen said...

GreyWatch, I saw that as well. My older kid took driver's ed through SPS and it was very convenient (and Geri was very nice and helpful!). But, I think it makes sense for SPS to drop it. It was a whole separate column of administration -> capital expense -> lower level employees. If it doesn't net positive it needs to go. In my experience, it didn't really provide a service that was distinct from what the private sector does. Cars did pick up from the HS parking lots, but that is about it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but what is ALEC?
Signed, confused parent

Anonymous said...

Hey, does anyone know if schools (elem.) usually have an anonymous comment box (in the office for example) or another way of raising anonymous concerns?
-in the NE

Anonymous said...

In the NE--

Some do, some don't.

Also in the N end

Melissa Westbrook said...

ALEC is a secretive national organization for legislators and corporations to create legislation that works for them. They have had many big corporations working with them like WalMart and Amazon but recently, many have started to walk away from them because of their aggressive tactics. They are very dangerous people (and I don't use that word lightly).

Eileen said...

RE: Comment Box-Try Snail Mail addressed to the principal.

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

Jan said...
mirmac1: hmm. You have a point. When I read the District response, what they said (on the bigger, sped/title one compliance issue) is that they have STARTED a plan -- but haven't finished "rolling it out" by hooking up consequences, etc. -- BUT, they have specific dates in mind this year to get from where they are to where they need to be. I don't mean to be heaping praise on them here -- but it doesn't surprise me that with this District, putting the new system in place AND training everyone to do it right AND figuring out how to go out and reliably, systematically get the compliance data (or non-compliance data) AND follow through with consequences for non-reporters would take more than a year. I am not defending it -- but it is consistent with what I would expect, particularly since that issue seems to involve relatively more paperwork. But I am no champ at reading these reports. I am fully willing to concede I have this all wrong if the experts want to overrule me here

Charlie Mas said...

ALEC offers a super efficient method for corporations to get the legislation they want. Corporations and elected politicians join the group. The corporations pay a big membership fee, the legislators pay a small membership fee.

The members discuss draft legislation and then take the bills home to introduce them in their state legislatures.

The problem is that the draft legislation is basically written by the corporations and the laws are designed to benefit the corporation's narrow self-interest.

The problem is that many of the legislators don't pay much attention to the laws, but don't hesitate to introduce bills from ALEC in their state legislatures.

While this has resulted in some comical episodes (legislators introducing bills that have blank spaces for the local details or the local details of other states) it is, mostly a tragedy.

cpvmac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said...

Special Education
The former Executive Director of Special Education did not respond to repeated requests from Central Accounting to review and approve semi-annual time and effort certifications.

Title I
Staff responsible for certifying the time and effort did not respond to repeated requests from Central Accounting to review and approve semi-annual time and effort certifications.

Fund for the Improvement of Education
Principals responsible for certifying the time and effort of teachers in their schools did not respond to repeated requests from Central Accounting to review and approve time and effort certifications.

Education Technology State Grants Cluster
The Program Manager responsible for certifying the time and effort of teachers did not respond to repeated requests from Central Accounting to review and approve semi-annual time and effort certifications.


That sounds to me like eff you I don't have to do nothing. These individuals put our district at risk, should the feds say, okay, no money for you!

Lisa said...

Mirmac, yes, Hamilton did great at the competition. Too bad the excellent orchestra teacher has been RIFed.

The district acts as though we could simply plug some other (higher-seniority) music teacher into the Hamilton slot and get the same results. I don't think so. I'm sad there has been so little outcry (at least that I have noticed) about the RIF because it is "small."

mirmac1 said...

Personally, I would LOVE to know who was RIFfed.

And YES, that is outrageous. Apostle did mention that he thought they would pick up most everyone again. Let's hope so.

Maureen said...

An Ingraham parent noted at the end of the old RIF thread that IHS' counselor Carrie Richard is being RIFed (even with 8 years of experience). The parent says it is likely that she will be rehired somewhere by the end of the summer, but that IHS will probably lose her. That is absolutely ridiculous. IHS, in particular, has a complicated patchwork of programs to learn to deal with (International School, IB, Accelerated IB, gen ed special ed, AP,Community Based Training, IT Academy...probably other stuff.) How long will it take some random counselor from another HS to get up to speed (especially on IB)? And why waste Ms. Richard's specialized knowledge? So crazy.

Jan said...

Lisa: contact your principal, the parent orchestra group, your Ed Director, the school board person for your district -- and make a lot of noise. Music teachers ARE a different breed (they are not the ONLY ones where a specific person is not easily replaced by someone else with the same paper creds -- but they are the poster child for this issue). Jazz bands have dealt with this problem before. Maybe all you can do is keep the issue high up on someone's priority list -- but you can at least do that.

Lisa said...

Maureen, I wondered about the counselors even before finding out about our orchestra teacher. "Rehired somewhere" is just not a good solution. It is really indicative of greater problems with the district that people seem to be seen as pegs to be plugged in where necessary and their individual work not considered. (see constant principal churn for another example) Hamilton's orchestra program is only 2 years old and having new leadership would be disruptive -- regardless of the individual merits of the new teacher.

Jan, the music parent group is already working on the issue with school and district officials. We are all hopeful for a good outcome! And the orchestra kids are circulating a petition among the student body. My child said that when the class was told they were all battling tears, even the ones who normally are too cool to emote.

Maureen said...

I just found out that "Friends of Ingraham High School" have a Facebook page and are coordinating a response to the RIF! Please join to keep informed and get involved!

Jan said...

Good luck, Lisa. I totally agree with you that it is a huge problem for the District when they cannot see teachers as assets to their specific buildings and programs, and instead treat them as faceless, deployable widgets. I have always thought that some of the principal movement under MGJ was actually an attempt to break down the school community bonds -- making schools less effective advocates against downtown meddling -- but that might just be my tin foil hat talking.

We need a District mindset that treats schools more like families, or communities -- and less like "retail locations."

SBBR said...

It isn't the district that controls who gets RIF'd. It is the contract between the district and SEA that controls this. If Ingraham or Hamilton parents want to see a different outcome, taking the issue to the district won't help. They have to follow the contract or the will face unfair labor practice charges. Direct your engergy to SEA and ask their leadership to make an exception for the music teacher. Counselor is not a winner. Sealth (which has all of the same programming issues as IHS) lost their 9th grade counselor in last year's RIF.

Maureen said...

SBBR says: Counselor is not a winner. Sealth (which has all of the same programming issues as IHS) lost their 9th grade counselor in last year's RIF.

Did Sealth's community do anything to try and keep their counselor? Was that person replaced with someone more senior, or was the position left open? Note that IB doesn't begin until 11th grade so it is unlikely that the 9th grade counselor had to deal much with it.

The problem I have with this incidence is that it seems likely (3rd hand info-I could definitely be wrong)that this person will end up assigned to a school and that someone else will be assigned to her position at IHS. If that is true, it is not about keeping anyone in a job (SEA's issue I assume) but about placement.

I don't understand why you think SEA would be ok with advocating for a music teacher and not a counselor? Is it just because of the precedent of Sealth? I'm sure other school's have let music teachers go as well. Please be clearer.

Thanks for the advice to contact the union.

SBBR said...

The Sealth counselor was an intergal part of FEL grant funded program targeted at 9th graders. Replaced by a displaced elementary school counselor who had no high school experience. I don't like SEA will help either community group. I think they will defend the senior person's right to a job over a junior person. But I think a more compelling argument can be made for the orchestra teacher if the more senior music teacher is someone who isn't a strings specialist. For the counselor, your better shot is to work with Mr. Floe to identify how the new person can be trained quickly. IHS has an IB coordinator so claiming that the counselor is needed for IB isn't a winning argument. Also, you will get push back that you are privileged people seeking to protect privilege, and that your counselor is not less important than an elementary school counselor who is getting eliminated from a high poverty school where the counselor is the link for all social services.

Anonymous said...

McDonald elementary school (renamed International) just got $125,000 from the District to fund Instructional Assistants for their language immersion program. That was awfully nice, especially in these budgetary-challenged times. Shows commitment -- it is one-time only for the school as a start-up chunk of funds.

--singed McD parent

Maureen said...

I think the strongest argument is to fully fund elementary counselors. I think the incident at Lafayette is just one reason why the District is short sighted to have cut those positions. And, I'm sorry McD parent, I think it is just plain crazy of SPS to fund immersion IAs for north end schools when they refuse to fund counselors for poor schools.

mirmac1 said...

Nancy Coogan can and will say ANYTHING. Just goes to show...

SPS highly recommends Gregory King

Charlie Mas said...

That letter of recommendation from Nancy Coogan is really disturbing. Did she write it or did Gregory King write it for himself? I know that I've worked a lot of places where people are asked to write one for themselves for the boss to sign.

Anonymous said...

I have it on good authority that when Tacoma reference checked him she said that on a 1-5 scale he was a 6. Sang his praises like no business.

Erstwhile in Seattle