Thursday, April 18, 2013

Seattle Schools News

 From SPS Communications:

Earlier this month, Seattle Public Schools sought applicants for a newly formed Native American Advisory Committee. A number of applicants have been received but SPS encourages more to apply. The extended deadline is Monday, April 22.

The initial committee term is April 2013 to June 2015. Nomination forms are available here and can be mailed to:
P.O. Box 34164
Mailstop 32156
Seattle, WA, 98124

Nominations can also be emailed to naeac@seattleschools.org.

From KPLU:

Seattle Public Schools wants to add a half-hour to the school day for elementary students by as early as the next school year. But the district must first align a number of variables, including funding and union support.


The average school day for Seattle’s elementary students is six hours and five minutes, which is thought to be the shortest school day in the Puget Sound region. The reason for it dates back to 1975 when the district cut the day short following two failed levies.

Now, nearly four decades later, officials are laying the groundwork to finally reverse that. The impetus, says Deputy Superintendent Bob Boesche, is the unequal quality of non-core subjects like gym and the arts.

“We want to give an assurance that whether you’re attending school in the north, the south, the east, the west, you're able to receive an assurance of basic academic instruction in all of our elementaries,” Boesche said.

This is news to me and, according to the story, the SEA.  Naturally, the union would have to sign onto this idea.

Boesche says the cost of having certificated teachers take over the arts and PE would add up to about $8 million, and additional costs would be determined in collective bargaining with the teachers' union.

As of last week, though, the Seattle Education Association was unaware a longer school day was even being considered. Extending the day has led to major labor battles elsewhere, like Chicago. But in Seattle, SEA President Jonathan Knapp seems open to the idea.

“The devil’s always in the details, but yeah, there’s definitely a case to be made for having more time in the day for the things that really enrich the experience for kids,” Knapp said.

But, Knapp added, what the district would do with the extra time is a key question—would it really be art and gym, or would it get sucked up into test prep?

I'm a little baffled as I didn't hear this at the Equitable Access work session. 

Also, from KUOW, a story about the nearly 15,000 seniors who have yet to pass all the end-of-course exams.  The most problematic?  Math.

Kids should have passed either the algebra or the geometry test by the end of 10th grade. Make-up tests are given twice a year. But if students haven’t passed by 12th grade, their best chance is often to complete a Collection of Evidence: a set of math problems the state provides as an alternative to the math test.

It’s not clear how many students will be kept from graduating because of the new math standards. The state is due to release the results of the latest exams and math problem sets soon.

Meanwhile, the graduation requirements will only be getting harder. Two years from now, seniors are supposed to pass a second math test – and a science test – in order to get their diplomas.

I don't have the numbers for SPS but I suspect it is pretty high.

I knew that via the Families & Education levy that SPS would be doing some sort of summer school.  This is great but unfortunately it will only be for high school students.  This from KUOW:

District College and Career Readiness Coordinator Janet Blanford said this summer, high school students who have fallen behind on credits will be able to take language arts, geometry and algebra classes at Chief Sealth International, Cleveland and Roosevelt high schools. She said 11th and 12th graders will get priority enrollment. 

Budget pressures led the district to end its popular summer school program after the 2010 session. Blanford said Families and Education Levy funding has allowed the district to reinstate the highest-demand classes. She said the district is still working out the details, but plans to have space for about 225 students.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is NOT extending the day, this IS restoring the day.

There is a huge difference.

Seattle elementary school children have, in my opinion, been "short sheeted" far too long. It is time to correct this hold-over short from another era when the Diatrict undertook this cut in order to try to give the teachers something because they couldn't give them money to make their pay 'equitable' to their colleagues in other parts of Washington state.

The Seattle teachers now earn in relative terms a fair salary relative to their WA peers, yet now they still have this shorter day. Time to fix that.

Instructional time is previous. It never should have been cut in the first place. Our children deserve no less than children in Vancouver, Spokane or Bellingham.

Language matters; language counts. This is not an extension. This is a return to base-line. It is long over-due, and this will help the young students who are the most vulnerable succeed.

-returning to normal

mirmac1 said...

I am encouraged by a renewed emphasis on investing in actual schools and classrooms. We have heard about restoring counselors and providing social/emotion support, positive behavior interventions and supports, art, PE, PD around helping struggling learners, MTSS. This will have a direct impact on the classroom environment and outcomes.

I attribute this to KSB and her posse. And Banda.

Of course we're still paying out for CCSS training, "HR transformation" and evaluation training etc etc. District leadership is trying to straddle the fence, between focusing on students and hobnobbing with the meddlers.

Mary Griffin said...

I saw this proposal on a clipboard of a LEV staffer several months ago.

The district did cut art and PE staff in 1975 according to several articles in the Seattle Times of from May to August of 1975. At that time, a gen ed teacher's prep times were when the art and PE staff had the class. With the new schedule of a half day shorter, the teacher's prep time was scheduled to a half-an hour after the kids left school. So technically, at the time, the gen-ed teachers' days weren't longer but the kids' days were shorter, and they didn't get art or PE. Reading the articles, there were a lot of crazy proposed solutions to the failed levy, including one by a school board member named Carver Gayton where there were only 120 full days of school and then 60 days would be school days of one hour long.

Charlie Mas said...

The Native American advisory committee is a requirement of the federal grant for native american students. The District has been out of compliance with the grant for not having an advisory committee in the past. The previous two committees all resigned in protest.

Longhouse said...

If you're going to extend the school day, then restore our pay too.

We'd be happy just to get the COLA that voters approved for us twice, but is formally ignored by the legislature every year.

But sure, go ahead require us to work another 13 days every year with no pay (30 minutes a day X 183 school days equals 13 7-hour school days).

BTW, the district has lengthened the school day by 10 minutes twice in the last 17 years. We're not 30 minutes less than in 1975 -- at most it's 10 minutes.

But hey, "normal," what do you care? It's not your time away from your family with no pay. Why do some people think it's okay to treat school employees like their personal slaves?