Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Tuesday Open Thread

OSPI announces Walk and Bike to School Day on Wednesday, the 9th.  (I think the International Day is today but the U.S. day is Wednesday.) 

Details can be found by checking your local school/district or community partners such as health departments, police departments, city leaders, and non-profit organizations. A Web site, www.walkbiketoschool.org, has been established to register schools and to check which schools have posted their events.

In partnership with Washington Department of Transportation, Feet First, and the Washington Bicycle Alliance, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will be accepting grant applications in November. The grants will support 10 school districts to implement Safe Routes to School Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education programs in middle school physical education classes in the 2013-2014 school year.

The grant application will be posted to the Safe Routes to School Website at: http://www.k12.wa.us/healthfitness/SafeRoutes.aspx.


Anonymous said...

Reposting: it's not clear families know what's coming and the impacts that will result.

The new 'plan' that will be unveiled at the Work Session will be a departure from what is currently the theoretical 'plan'. (As it should be, because the first plan can't work). Will anybody be *surprised* by the surprise?

Seems like few (especially the 'hyper organized' schools that will be directly affected) see this coming, yet, the first plan has several fatal flaws such that it can never be implemented.

The problem is that the new 'plan' also has very obvious and absolute fatal flaws. But, it probably will be adopted anyway, and then in 3 years time, when its obvious short-comings are apparent as more facilities' failures require emergency mitigations, new rounds of re-engineering boundaries and feeder patterns will be in order, scrambling siblings, friendships and families, AGAIN.

It will be interesting to see how a 9th grade annex will be greeted in the time to come by the very same families who are facing an unstable sixth grade seat for comprehensive middle school this September.

The ship has sailed on capacity, our District can no longer play fast and loose with facilities, the system is too brittle and there is no inventory left in the most stressed part of the system. Rational planning must be based on robust data AND a 360° view of how families will respond to assignments if the seat is perceived as either fantastic or unpalatable.

Of course, assignment to a building that will clearly 'tip over' in 3 years times is problematic. Many communities will be herded to over-subscribed buildings with nothing to do but bare it. And, to be crystal clear, this District still does not have the data it needs to do planning. Specifically, integrating student-generation from new housing is an important 'detail' to derisk the planning, as is accounting for out-of-district transferees, who could come back if suddenly offered a brand new building with a great principal and robust services.

The public can only take so much. Families are not leaving Seattle now. The city has been very slowly normalizing the households with children demographic over the last 3 years. This positive trend will yield great dividends. However, repeating the repeating pattern of 'whoops, this isn't working, this must be fixed' is going to have long-term consequences: it will drain the goodwill of the public, both family and childless alike, and risk the continued support of crucial ed levies (for those who think McCleary will result in dollars to restore the operating budget of school districts, it won't, because the State has no money. You can't get blood from a stone, even if Judges say you will).

Trusting the District with large amounts of $$ to get all of Seattle's public school students housed requires trust that they know what they are doing: the closures in West Seattle that are now being fully reversed, the whacky move-NOVA-out-then-move-them-back-in, the implementation of a new Language Immersion program in a new building LESS than a mile from an existing LI attendance area school, in an area that sends 51% of its children to private schools, etc. is going to catch up with them. It takes a lot to burn Seattle's ed-loving liberal base, but, the failure that will be set into motion with it's new 'plan' will blow up at preciously the wrong time. Passing the 2015 Buildings, Technology & Academics (BTA) Levy, which will be critical, may be problematic if too many citizens recognize they are paying to reverse the continual steam of mistakes that could have & SHOULD have been avoided.

Stay tuned. Political courage is needed, but, is not likely. So, we are all going to be stuck with this for the next 5 years.

Perhaps the expensive inefficiency and a spectacular flame-out is what is needed for our Superintendent to become highly visible about getting resources from City and our State to generate more capacity sooner.

-stay tuned

Anonymous said...

Does Seattle Schools consider the benefits of prefab construction?


I have read about its use for affordable home additions, and the factory model helps to lower the costs of plumbing, electric -- savings that can be out into higher quality finishes.


mirmac1 said...

It would seem to me that SPS could exercise its right of eminent domain on the MLK and University Heights properties. These buildings retain many of the classrooms and spaces needed for school use. The owners/occupants should be immediately put on notice of SPS' need for those buildings for their intended purpose. This will get the process and timeline moving. The public interest and capacity shortfalls are clearly evident. I expect that the other parties will not resist too strenuously, or risk appearing heedless of the greater community's need.

I believe administrative settlements could be reached with these parties. SPS would of course assist with relocation and pay the fair market value of the property. It would seem to me that the BEX funds for the Wing Luke remodel (I believe that project is not expanding capacity) would be best applied in acquiring and placing buildings online. There should be sufficient funds to reconfigure areas however I am unclear as to the extent of code improvements. Nevertheless, this work could be performed during the summer, allowing building use during the school year.

Anonymous said...

dd (high schooler) this morning: "It really bothers me when people label teachers 'good' or 'bad.'"

So. proud.

Chris S.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Chris, I was really proud when my son was in high school and had been complaining about his "loopy" Spanish teacher at the beginning of the year.

By six weeks in, he came home and said, "She may be loopy but she knows how to teach Spanish. She's the best Spanish teacher I've ever had."

I told him that he would not always "like" his teachers but respecting them for doing a good/tough job was the way to go. He seems to get that from there on out.

Anonymous said...

I heard this on the radio this morning but have not been able to find a link to the story.

A man tried to lure a girl into his car when she was walking home from Whitman MS yesterday afternoon.

I wonder if it is the same guy that was lurking around West Seattle?

Hope your kiddos walk in groups or with an adult on this Walk to School Day and everyday.


Anonymous said...

Hi all,

Rather than wait for the Seattle School District to reach out, your community is taking action.

In an effort to provide substantiated evidence of community preferences over how Meany Middle School roll-out is organized, an area parent has set up an initial survey to solicit your input into ideas that the District is floating about.

Everything is up in the air but some of the key details are:

Washington Middle School is at peak capacity and the District is trying to alleviate the strain
BEX IV - the school levy which passed last February provides funds to re-open Meany Middle School
The intended elementary schools which would ultimately attend Meany MS include: Stevens, Montlake, McGilvra, Bailey-Gatzert, Lowell and Montlake K-8
One option for roll-out is to bus kids down to Old Van Asselt school, near Holly Park until the Meany building is ready (see map link on survey page on Central District News)


Ann D.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone attend the School Board's transportation work session today?

Concerned parent

dw said...

ChrisS said: dd (high schooler) this morning: "It really bothers me when people label teachers 'good' or 'bad.'"

So. proud.

Are you quite sure? I suspect there is unsaid context to what she and you said, but I'm not sure I agree with a blanket statement like that.

Looking deeply at teachers, separately as people and as instructors, allows students to engage critical thinking skills. I've argued with my kid's early assessment of good/bad teachers (both ways), but because my kid has been taught critical thinking and analysis from toddlerhood, and because the kids sit in the classrooms every single day, I think my kid has been right more often than I have at the end of the day (school year). There are most definitely good teachers and bad teachers, but it's rarely as simple as that. Sometimes problems are just individual personality mismatches. And as Melissa mentioned, sometimes a teacher with a "loopy" personality can be very effective at their job. We all need to remember that their job is not to be cool, or organized, or smartly dressed, or friendly, but to get their kids to learn.

There are many different styles of teaching that can be effective, but the style needs to fit each individual teacher, as a person. That's why there is such a wide range of personalities and teaching styles among the "great" teachers, the ones that are respected year after year by both kids and parents. Great teachers can be nurturing, or they can be gruff and demanding, it all depends on their personality and how well it fits with the student body in their school that takes their classes. This is what pisses me off the most about the Ed Reform movement, that it doesn't allow for teachers to step away from the standard methods, even when they can do better than the standard methods.

Not every teacher that's friendly and well-liked is a great teacher, and not every teacher that's "loopy" is a bad teacher. Perhaps that is the message we should impart to our kids and to remember ourselves.