Friday, February 08, 2013

Friday Open Thread

Director Carr has a Community meeting tomorrow from 8:30-10:00 am at Bethany Community Church (enter by playground).

Director Martin-Morris has a Community meeting tomorrow from 9:30-11:30 am at Diva Espresso at 80th and Lake City Way.

Congrats to Roosevelt, Eckstein and Hamilton for their showings at the Clark College Jazz Festival.

Roosevelt was awarded the top honor, the Sweepstakes Trophy.  They also placed first in the AAA and AAAA divisions.  Hamilton was second and Eckstein third in the middle school jazz ensemble category.  There were also individual awards to all three schools plus Garfield.

Seattle Public Schools dominance in jazz bands marches on (with apologies to actual marching bands).

Forgot to mention but I did put up a acronyms list for education in the right-hand column of this blog.  I do state that it is not all-inclusive but if I left out any glaring SPS one, let me know.

In the Friday Funny, which apparently is no joke, people need to keep your cats inside because they are nothing but vicious murderers.  It's to the point where they are trying to get rid of house cats in New Zealand.  This website even has a category, "Your cat is not innocent."

I personally believe it is more important to spay or neuter your cat so that we have fewer cats.  (And if dogs didn't have leashes, at least according to my visuals as I walk Green Lake, we're have far fewer squirrels and ducks.)

What's on your mind?

49 comments:

Jack Whelan said...

"We seem to think that education is a thing--like a vaccine--that can be designed from afar and simply injected into our children. But as the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats said, 'Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.'" Gov. Jerry Brown, State of the State, January 2013

Interesting piece in this morning's Salon about how the quality of free online courses will impact education, particularly higher education. Why should should we or our kids go into massive debt to get information that is readily available on the net or can be credentialed cheaply through online delivery like "Khan" Univerisity.

Our institutions of higher learning in the next hundred years will move more toward the small liberal arts college model or they will become irrelevant. The post WWII technocratic university model is moribund.

Why? Because information is cheap, and relationships are precious. I was listening to an interview with the psycholinguist Jean Berko Gleason recently, and she made an interesting point about how very young children acquire language. If you put a kid in front of a TV channel for hours and hours in which the language is, say, Korean, she will not learn Korean. If the same child had a Korean nanny that spoke only Korean to her, she would learn it.

Language acquisition, in other words, is relational. It's something that only happens when there's an emotional connection. I think a similar argument could be said about the acquisition of anything that is worth knowing, at least in a foundational sense. We can add to or build onto the foundation alone (online, books, TV, etc.), but the foundation for learning is built only in relationships with parents, teachers, and peers. And we forget what we learn unless we use it, and we use it in our interactions with others. Knowledge is relational, and the quality of our knowledge largely depends on the quality of the relationships we have with parents, peers, and teachers.

Have you seen this interesting Gallup Study on student motivation? So ask yourself why motivation to learn craters for most kids by the time they get to middle and high school. On the grade 6-12 levels the only really sensible reason to pay the steep tuition at a private school is that you are buying a much better teacher/student ratio. That is, you are buying a chance for your kid to develop a relationship with teachers that is harder for many kids to do starting at middle school in the public schools. Not impossible, just harder. In a private school your kid can't hide if there are only 15 kids sitting around a table. (Yes, Bill & Melinda, class size matters. Teachers matter, too, but not in the way you think.)

Plato understood that real knowledge only happens in relationships, and that we only truly understand what we love. Information acquisition is not the same thing as knowledge. Facts are a means to an end, and the end is insight. Facts without insight are like jokes without a punchline. But things worth knowing, like a good joke, aren't worth much if they aren't shared with others who "get it".

dan dempsey said...

Jack,

I began teaching in 1968 in Cottonwood, ID.
I had 21 7th grade students and taught them all subjects from 8AM until 3PM. There was no planning period and I was with the kids continually for all 7 hours. This worked very well for both teacher and student.

Relationships are definitely extremely important on grade levels 6-12.

You wrote:
"you are buying a chance for your kid to develop a relationship with teachers that is harder for many kids to do starting at middle school in the public schools. Not impossible, just harder."

That is one reason I am a fan of looping for grades 6, 7, and 8.

With a group of 100 students and class sizes of 25. Four teachers stay with the 100 for all three years moving from 6th grade through 8th grade with the same 100 students. One teacher for each subject - Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies.

lendlees said...

A great TED talk about the adolescent brain. Worth a 15 minute watch over lunch or coffee.

http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_jayne_blakemore_the_mysterious_workings_of_the_adolescent_brain.html

Baba Blacksheep said...

I just made the mistake of calling the special education department. Good lord, that place is a mess. None of the numbers are right, because they keep moving people around. My specific concerns are with the Program Placement Report released yesterday. The report mentions that they are continuing to phase out the inclusion programs, although I was told that these would be available for my child. Where is the transparency?!

-Angry parent

Anonymous said...

Dan-

Your idea could be interesting, but I am thinking of my kid's science teacher at HIMS and thinking three years of not learning ANY science doesn't sound good.

I am a supporter of unions overall, but I wish unions would realize that just because you are part of the union does not make you a fabulous employee. My kids have overall been very fortunate and had great teachers, but they have had a couple who should not be in a classroom. Until that is dealt with, I couldn't agree to anything that might require my kids to be with someone who should not be teaching.

-HIMS parent

Eric B said...

I like Dan's idea in theory, but in practice it can be pretty messy. For example, in 8th grade, my daughter had an LA/SS teacher that just didn't fit well with her. I don't think the teacher was bad, it was just a clash of personalities. If my daughter had that same teacher for all three grades of LA/SS, it would have been a disaster.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So I listened to the Friday news roundup on KUOW this morning. They brought up MAP (or as the majority of them kept calling it "MAPS").

I really don't like when pundits talk about Seattle Schools. They just don't do their homework and never quite get their facts right.

Joni Balter of the Times hilariously pointed out the "timing" of the boycott because of the closeness of the levy vote. Really? Because it didn't seem to concern the Times to put up a damning report on BEX just days before an election.

What was good was Knute Berger saying out loud that the testing all seemed to be overkill and geared to some other purpose. And, he called the legislative effort to grade schools - A to F - "stupid". If the Legislature does pass this law, we should all grade our legislators with an A to F.

dan dempsey said...

Interesting article in the NY Times

THE GREAT DIVIDE --- The Boys at the Back

Boys score as well as or better than girls on most standardized tests, yet they are far less likely to get good grades, take advanced classes or attend college. Why? ..... Teachers of classes as early as kindergarten factor good behavior into grades — and girls, as a rule, comport themselves far better than boys.

The study’s authors analyzed data from more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade and found that boys across all racial groups and in all major subject areas received lower grades than their test scores would have predicted.

The scholars attributed this “misalignment” to differences in “noncognitive skills”: attentiveness, persistence, eagerness to learn, the ability to sit still and work independently. As most parents know, girls tend to develop these skills earlier and more naturally than boys.

No previous study, to my knowledge, has demonstrated that the well-known gender gap in school grades begins so early and is almost entirely attributable to differences in behavior. The researchers found that teachers rated boys as less proficient even when the boys did just as well as the girls on tests of reading, math and science.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Apparently e-mails are still going out - to rather large e-mail lists - about the BEX vote. (I find it interesting that people are using neighborhood lists because my experience is that many neighbors do NOT like their list being used for political purposes especially by people they don't know personally.)

What this person does is just urge a No vote without explaining why and tells the reader to read a 17 page (!) document to find out why.

The document is hugely confusing to read. What is useful is that the Fire Department had done an inspection at Eckstein and "did not find any such hazards" of life or fire safety. But the author then goes on to dispute that inspection.

She also goes on to assume that no one in the last 10+ years has asked these questions before. It's good to ask around before you make a statement like that.

She also says "we aren't willing to accept this situation for ANY child, which is exactly what has inspired us to act." Really? Then where is her concern for Arbor Heights? Or Washington (also overcrowded)?

I understand their unhappiness but I also question if they get the "global" situation they say they do.

Anonymous said...

In Waldorf elementary schools, ideally there will be one head teacher for all 8 years (1-8). It was a strain for a teacher to do 8 years and for the kids. There is some talk to changing it so that there would be a change of teachers either after 4th or 5th. Speciality classes: Art, Music, Languages, PE are taught by Speciality Teachers. Sometimes this system works great and sometimes it does not. There are several Waldorf schools in the area so people do change schools fairly easily if the teacher is not working out for their child.

HP

Anonymous said...

Angry parent wrote: I just made the mistake of calling the special education department. Good lord, that place is a mess. None of the numbers are right, because they keep moving people around. My specific concerns are with the Program Placement Report released yesterday. The report mentions that they are continuing to phase out the inclusion programs, although I was told that these would be available for my child. Where is the transparency?!"

Yes, where ARE the inclusion programs?

Frustrated parent

dan dempsey said...

Melissa W,

In Humboldt County NV everyone calls it MAPS not MAP.

I think this is because it consists of more than one test, Reading, Math, Science. Thus it is plural.

Anonymous said...

A terrific little piece by Daniel Willingham in WAPO education site:

"Stduents can't Google everything: Why knowledge matters"

This is a piece Bob Vaughn should read as to why those kids he is looking for just "aren't there". They are there alright. But you are never going to find them with MAP or CogAT. These kids are never obvious unless you work with them in the lower grades and you see their potential: the childish and eager delight in learning. How that change as they get older and learn harder life's lessons. And it's not because these kids can't learn or do better in school or are out doing bad things, it's often because these kids have so many other responsibilities outside school and must juggle beyond the usual HW, soccer and piano practices. There isn't the opportunity to build up that knowledge base that can be easily tested and scanned. Talk to some of these kids and they can tell you how to get a deal on a used car part, cheapest meat/veggies in Seattle, barter for services, what paperwork to fill out for Chidren Medical benefits, what it covers and doesn't cover. If CogAT or MAP could include a section on executive function (street smart) under stress, I suspect these kids would outperform many of our intelligent outlliers.

deep water

dan dempsey said...

Eric B wrote:
For example, in 8th grade, my daughter had an LA/SS teacher that just didn't fit well with her. I don't think the teacher was bad, it was just a clash of personalities. If my daughter had that same teacher for all three grades of LA/SS, it would have been a disaster.

=====
A great many changes in teachers take place when they operate in a Team of 4 teachers and 100 students over three years.

Also these same teachers loop back to a new group of 6th graders for the 4th year. Teachers working this closely do help each other improve.

It seems to me that the opportunity for teacher as well as student improvement in this model is much greater than in non-looping models.

As Jack Whelan points out .... On the grade 6-12 levels relationships are precious.

dan dempsey said...

Deep Water,

Speaking of reports worth reading... try this one=>

THE AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE: TRENDS AND LEVELS

This paper applies a unified methodology to multiple data sets to estimate both the levels and trends in U.S. high school graduation rates. We establish that (a) the true rate is substantially lower than widely used measures;
(b) it peaked in the early 1970s;
(c) majority/minority differentials are substantial and have not converged for 35 years;
(d) lower post-1970 rates are not solely due to increasing immigrant and minority populations;
(e) our findings explain part of the slowdown in college attendance and rising college wage premiums; and
(f) widening graduation differentials by gender help explain increasing male-female college attendance gaps.

In 1960, only 2 percent of all new high school credentials were awarded through equivalency exams in the United States. Of all new high school credentials issued in the U.S. each year, currently 15 percent are obtained through GED certification.

GEDs, on average, earn at the rate of dropouts.

---
There has been an explosion in the growth of the incarcerated population since the early 1980s. In 2002, the total incarcerated population exceeded 2 million people. Minority males, especially young black males, have been disproportionately affected by tougher anti-crime measures. Nearly one out of every ten black males age 18−24 is now incarcerated. It is estimated that more than one-third of all black male high school dropouts ages 20−35 were in prison on an average day in the late 1990s – a higher proportion than is found in paid employment
------

In light of the above also consider that in the 1950s (before social promotion) 8th graders going into 9th grade were successfully completing grade 9 and moving into grade 10. in 2000 about 13% of students were not successfully completing grade 9.

Now at Aki Kurose we see a District School Report card that tells us that 90% of 8th graders will be ready for high school math in grade 9. Yet MSP testing in math at AKI in grade 8 in 2012 shows ... 51.6% performing well below standard. .. that was 46.9% for females and 56.6% for males at level 1 - well below standard.

====
Instead of offering effective interventions grades k-8... it appears that the SPS offers social promotion and false statements about high school readiness.

Josh Hayes said...

@Jack, that is fascinating; do you have a reference or two for a more detailed description of the study/studies involved (the relational nature of language acquisition, I mean). I'd love to learn more about that.

@Mel, yes, I too listened to KUOW this morning (gritting my teeth, as usual), and was happy to hear Knute's rant about how stupid this grading proposal is and his shout-out to alternative styles of learning. Joni, well....she's a Times vassal, so I was a little surprised that we didn't hear a more vigorous defense of "the MAPS" than her vague murmurs.

Finally, wrt relationships, I think negative teaching relationships can still be constructive, if only by showing students how not to communicate - and how to cope with cruddy classes, because it's a near-certainty that they'll have one or two such in college as well where they will nevertheless have to perform adequately. At least, that's what I'm telling myself as my son suffers through one such class this year.

Anonymous said...

Sharon Peaslee donated her time and equipment to produce a promotional video for Jane Addams K-8 school, featuring middle school kids at the K-8.

http://addamsk8.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/announce.phtml

I couldn't get the link to the video to work.

Wonder if she'll offer to do the same for the launch of JAMS?

- NNE Parent

Anonymous said...

I can vouch that email recipients do not appreciate contacts for "political" reasons.

They did not like a single contact re: information on MGJ and her machinations.

Oh well.

MGJ petitioner

Anonymous said...

Link to video:

Jane Addams video

Anonymous said...

Here's a fun day for engineers of all ages.

On Feb. 9 the Museum again hosts the ever pop-ular Popsicle Stick Bridge Contest and Engineering Fair. Doors open for the Bridge Contest at 8 a.m., while the Engineering Fair runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both events are free.

The Popsicle Bridge Contest challenges high school students to design and build miniature bridges using only Popsicle sticks and white glue. The bridges are judged on aesthetics, strength and efficiency. Ultimately, each design is tested to the breaking point with a hydraulic press in full view of participants and cheering fans. At the Engineering Fair, local chapters of national societies representing the entire span of engineering disciplines will staff booths all day. Representatives from NASA, Boeing and other high-tech companies will be on hand with fascinating demonstrations and displays.

University engineering departments and student clubs will also be represented.

-StepJ

seattle citizen said...

Here's Lynne Varner (Seattle Times "Education Expert") again:

Standardized tests are not public school’s biggest problem. Not even close

She pontificates about how a "small group of committed indviduals [sic] has been trying to push a conversation around disproportionality in school discipline rates." That would be the district's Disproportionality Task Force, a group Ms. Varner did not join. In fact, I can't recall her ever mentioning being on a committee or volunteering in a school (but maybe I'm wrong.)

So she highlights a group that is trying to actually do something, but in her usual paid promotions for everything reform she says that these efforts aren't enough, we should test and charter and merit and evaluate our way towards a better education for our kids.

I wish she would have joined that committee. Or any committee. Instead of merely taking a check for spouting reform cliches such as, "status quo" (now she's got Senator Litzow saying it....)

Which is it, Lynne? Are public schools the "status quo," or are committe individuals working on the important issues every day?

If only she knew what she meant.

Anonymous said...

This email (I am on the listserve of moms that received it today) saying "vote no on prop 2" is basically urging us to vote no in retaliation for the board's decision to wait a year for JAMS --true? She articulates no other argument and essentially just implies, do it as retaliation. Seems like a self-serving powerplay and a bit of a navel-gaze to boot. Not the best representation of parents in our neighborhood.

--Dismayed

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dismayed, I would say your interpretation is correct.

Anonymous said...

Dismayed - you've got it. No, it doesn't represent most of the northeast of Seattle. Most of the folks in NE Seattle are thoughtful, kind, compassionate and giving - and know that our students need Prop 2 now - not later.
And it's unfortunate that the letter you refer to was distributed to at least the Greenlake Moms list, the Ravenna neighborhood list and the NE Seattle Moms list.
I am happy to see that you can see through this argument as just a sad, self-centered, desperate one - and hope you'll vote yes on both levies by the end of the weekend.

~NE mom

Anonymous said...

I hope all you NE parents who got that e-mail are responding with reply-to-all and letting the entire list know how you feel. WSDWG

NE PArent said...

The feeling I got reading that email is that those people are so caught up in the fight they've forgotten what they're fighting for. I'll remind them: You won! Jane Addams will become a middle school! That part about it not happening instantly? That's called compromise. It's something grown-ups have to deal with every day.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not yet convinced that the Peaslee plan will carry us through next year. I'm still bracing for a shuffle after this year's open enrollment.

weary and wary parent

dw said...

@deep water, I suggest you go back and read the rest of the thread where you snagged that comment. Board Meeting Update

No, they are not there. The problem, of course, is defining who "they" are. The context was around advanced learning programs and identification, APP in particular. You're talking about kids with street smarts, which is an important life skill, but very, very different from gifted.

Now, the thing that I hope most of us can agree on is that there are also kids with potential that are very difficult to identify. That doesn't mean a program like APP would be a good fit for those kids, in fact it's almost guaranteed to be a terrible fit. APP, by its very nature, is a program for kids who are already way out there, both in cognitive skills and achievement. Even if we could identify kids with that type of potential with 100% clarity, they would simply not have the necessary skills built up so that they would be successful in that type of program.

This is exactly the reason why I'm such a strong advocate for other programs to serve the needs of those kids as well, and to act as a bridge to help them span the "support chasm" necessary to develop their talents. These programs could be ALO or Spectrum, or something completely different, but they need to have support from the district, and that support just doesn't exist. Until that happens, there is always going to be a racial and socio-economic imbalance in programs like APP.

I suggest that we, as parents of this district and as citizens of our city, should push the Advanced Learning department to work toward these goals. It would benefit everyone.

Anonymous said...

Got this email from KSB. Maybe it should go out to all those NE folks who got that email urging a no vote on the levy.


Hello Friends,

I am asking you to please vote YES on both Proposition 1 and 2 for Seattle Public Schools.

Proposition 1 provides critical funds for about 20% of our teaching corps salaries, librarians, counselors, etc along with vital materials and technology to keep our classrooms humming.

Proposition 2 funds our next building cycle which will supply in no small part the much-needed seats WE DO NOT HAVE for over 3000 students coming into our system as kindergarten students and/or more than 2000 students matriculating to 6th grade by 2017. Our capacity issues are huge district wide as well as our maintenance back log. When our levies did not pass in the 80's, our back log surged to over $500 million. This levy will eliminate over $175 million of that back log as well.

See the message from Schools First below. Click here to go to their website. And many thanks for your vote!

Kay Smith-Blum
CEO - Butch Blum
SPS Board President

RR

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Well, I'm not yet convinced that the Peaslee plan will carry us through next year. I'm still bracing for a shuffle after this year's open enrollment."

Could you explain what you mean?

kgroth said...

A parent sent out an email to many (School Board, Superintendent, Mayor, City Council, etc.)regarding the Jane Addams K-8 promotional video posted today on their website and questioning if it's ethical that Director Sharon Peaslee donated her time and equipment to create it. I'm new to Board policies, does anyone know if it's ethical or a conflict of interest? Can a Board member promote one school in their District or are they required to provide the same treatment for all the schools in their District such as Pinehurst which could always use support?

mirmac1 said...

Report the author of the email to their email service provider as a spammer.

mirmac1 said...

dw said "You're talking about kids with street smarts, which is an important life skill, but very, very different from gifted."

Wow, dw, that statement strikes me as very racist and ignorant. I hope you will clarify just WTH you mean! That's not helping your case (which frankly I'm tired of hearing about).

Anonymous said...

This looks like an interesting article on identification of underrepresented gifted students. Any chance anyone has access and has read it? I can only get the abstract.

Group-Specific Norms and Teacher-Rating Scales
Implications for Underrepresentation

http://joa.sagepub.com/content/23/2/125.abstract

Thanks,
HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

This is a great blog. Can you talk about Special Education a bit more? It is in serious shambles in this district.

-Unhappy with SPS

Melissa Westbrook said...

Unhappy, we do talk about Special Ed. Do you have a specific topic I could start a thread on?

As for the question of director support of schools, they can support as many as they want. I'm sure if Pinehurst had asked, Director Peaslee would be happy to help as well. But I have seen directors give a lot of support to single schools (see Don Nielson and Center School) so I don't really have a problem with this.

However, we have a widely advertised ethics policy in this district. The way to register questions or concerns is to file a complaint.

Anonymous said...

Great piece from The Washington Post's "The Answer Sheet" on the effects of the K-12 testing obsession.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/09/a-warning-to-college-profs-from-a-high-school-teacher/

ConcernedCitizen

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The testing window for Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment opened this past week, but an emergency suspension was called due to problems with the testing materials.

In a show of poor leadership, the SPS ELD Head has remained silent, leaving all communication to the data person.

There is no word yet on how the State will proceed. In show of poor communication, not a word has gone to families, even though some students have completed portions of the test.

ELLs are not the students typically discussed on this blog, but they sure could use someone in their corner.

Powerless.

Syd said...

I have a fifth grader at Graham Hill next year, and we will be looking at Middle schools. We are assigned to Asa Mercer, for now, but live very close to the southern boundary (less than a block). I would very much like to hear from parents at Asa Mercer and Aki Kurose...with a special emphasis on high performers. My child scores in the top 5%, and I want to know if this is going to be a good fit.

Anonymous said...

Well there's the rub isn't it. My point is how we look at APP and the method who gets recruited and how kids get taught is imperfect and to me feels more like fool's gold. It misses even when kids have achievement and life's advantage (otherwise there wouldn't be a rollicking conversation in the APP blog devoted to test scores and appeals). The method schools use to measure cognitive thinking, IQ, is indirect. It can only measure what children are exposed to and what they can inferred based on their exposure. The test developers themselves do not throw a wide net with the test questions. So you'll miss kids who don't conform or aren't raised based on the norm environment.

For all the well expressed skepticism for standardized testings and even cognitive testings in this blog, we appear obsessed by it. It's the stuff that some chose to define kids with and while some profess to hate it, will still trot it out when it's useful. It's the stuff that flames the emotion. It's part of the culture that I stand with one foot in - the need to be defined and stand out with all the right numbers and acronyms attached. It's a world where people in it often feel on the defensive and under attack (or at least on the blogs).

I don't fool myself or my children that if you get into APP, it's gonna be life changing (mainly because the quality of the progam). What I see is more the cohort and parents surrounding such grouping. Parents and kids have far higher expectations for high achievement and competition. It's the unmeasurable advantage of networking and surrounding a child with people who are determine to do owhatever it takes so their children can be the best, of the best, of the best, of the best. But there are disadvanatages that can be seen as it manifest itself in awkward moments such as the now famous anti-levy email that went out to PTA members. (What these parents can learn from other similary beseiged schools.)

My other foot is in a different place where I also see advantage and intellligence. I get to see kids if fortunes were reversed could easily qualify to be in APP, chess and robbotics tournaments. They may have street smart, but they didn't get their street smart because they have learned to survive and make do. It's how they did it and still make progress in their short life and school and stay right. How they learn to communicate, to strategize, to deal with adults, to think quickly, to problem solve, when to miss schools, what is more important: a parent's job, or making an A on a paper or get by with a B-, but keep their after school job or deal with a troubled sibling who is on his/her way to juvie or a younger sick sibling they'll stay home and take care of. These aren't the stuff that can be tested for. But I have a lot respect because some of these kids have learn to be resilient and deal with people who are in a rush to judge because they don't have the label of being the best, of the best, of the best... which in itself (to me) a burden.

deep water

Anonymous said...

Syd,

If your child does not have a disability Mercer probably will work. Aki does not have the capacity to provide sustained support for students at that academic threshhold. If your child is smart AND has a disability, welcome to the southeast where you are SOL.

Reader

Josh Hayes said...

Melissa, Pinehurst has asked Director Peaslee for help, and she's been sympathetic, but the fact is, the district seems to have no idea what the hell to do with the school. I think they're hoping we'll just, I dunno, drift away or something. It's hard to blame them: it IS a small school (but I worry about the developmental pre-school rooms; where will they go?), and they've got capacity problems that are much larger than the 160 or so kids at Pinehurst, but it'd be nice to hear that they at least have a plan, that they've at least thought about it.

So, yeah, I think she shares our frustration, but has not been able to get any commitments one way or another, aside from keeping Pinehurst K-8 in its building next year. I think we're resigned to having to move after that, but it'd be great to have a sense that there is someplace to move TO (Marshall, maybe?).

I'm not writing as any sort of official representative of the school, of course. Just a parent keeping his ear to the ground.

seattle citizen said...

In today's Sunday New York Times Magazine is an article about stress, how it impacts testing, how it impacts lives...Interesting. It posits genetic factors controlling dopamine, amoung other things:

Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?

dw said...

mirmac1 said: Wow, dw, that statement strikes me as very racist and ignorant. I hope you will clarify just WTH you mean!

Wow indeed. How insulting, especially considering the racial diversity in my family and friends. I think you're the one that needs to explain how you came up with "ignorant and racist" from what I said. I'll re-quote again for convenience, but I assure you there's nothing there. I hope you understand that "gifted" in this context has a very specific meaning:

The context was around advanced learning programs and identification, APP in particular. You're talking about kids with street smarts, which is an important life skill, but very, very different from gifted.

So the above accusation made me angry, but this part simply puzzles me to no end:

That's not helping your case (which frankly I'm tired of hearing about).

What is "my case"?? Seriously, I didn't realize I had one. I've been trying to contribute to the conversation here about ways to help kids that are falling through the cracks? I would have thought you'd be all over this, especially because you seem to be an advocate for kids who get marginalized by the district. Are you really tired of hearing about that in general, or something in specific? Kids who are bright and/or talented, but are not identified as highly gifted by SPS, especially kids in the south end, are getting screwed. That sucks.

If it's long posts that bother you, I don't know what to say. I like to at least try to make things as clear as possible within reason. I know you tend to leave lots of short drive-by posts (that I don't care for), but I appreciate your contributions here, especially the FOIA digging, so I've just kept my mouth shut about that. Confused.

dw said...

deep water,

Thanks for a thoughtful post, I agree with everything you said: We have less than ideal tests and testing processes, pain-in-the-ass parents, less than ideal APP program (but has its advantages), and respect for kids in difficult life situations.

But, correct me if I'm wrong, I don't see anything actionable, just lots of lamenting about the situation (which I do plenty of as well). How can we make things better?

You've talked more than once about bright kids with unrealized potential (and probably unrecognized by most people as well). The vast majority of those kids would flounder and be discouraged if they jumped straight into a program like APP; they just haven't had the support/infrastructure in place to develop their talent. Some level of talent is natural, but academic skills are built over time, with support from family and schools. Don't these kids deserve some help to develop their potential? Why is SPS so stubborn that they can't recognize there are different kids with different needs? Education is not a one-size-fits-all world, but SPS wants easy solutions that can be implemented "with fidelity" for everyone across the board. SpEd families fight the same types of battles, just on a different battleground. It's depressing.




mirmac1 said...

Sorry dw, I guess we both feel insulted. As an ethnic minority, I detest the term "street smarts", particularly if it's used to describe smart students who aren't white or live in the best part of town.

I'll admit that the APP stuff wears on me.

Again, i'm sorry if I misunderstood you and sorry for flipping out. I do want MORE students in disadvantaged situations to be given the opportunity to be the best of the best of the best.

dw said...

Understood. I know (as well as one can "know" electronically) that you're a passionate person, and quick to react in general, so I saw this and figured all is cool. Friendly hug.

I also thought about the "APP stuff wears on me" comment, and realized that it wears on me as well, but my perspective might be different. Even with one foot in that boat, it wears on me just like capacity issues wear on me, and special ed issues wear on me. Not because I blame the parents who are repeatedly speaking out on behalf of their kids, but because the same issues go on and on and on every year and the district never seems to get it right -- if they even address the issues at all. So the parents complain year after year because, well, what else can they do?

It does get tiring, but I don't see it changing.

dw said...

Understood. I know (as well as one can "know" electronically) that you're a passionate person, and quick to react in general, so I saw this and figured all is cool. Friendly hug.

I also thought about the "APP stuff wears on me" comment, and realized that it wears on me as well, but my perspective might be different. Even with one foot in that boat, it wears on me just like capacity issues wear on me, and special ed issues wear on me. Not because I blame the parents who are repeatedly speaking out on behalf of their kids, but because the same issues go on and on and on every year and the district never seems to get it right -- if they even address the issues at all. So the parents complain year after year because, well, what else can they do?

It does get tiring, but I don't see it changing.