Monday, September 30, 2013

Live Blogging from Meany

 Updates:

- there were full tables and most were about one school or area.  There was a Coe table, a Beacon Hill table (with some hard facts about the changes for that area), a TT Minor table, Montlake, etc.

- I found these to be people who knew their facts and, if they didn't, wanted to find out more.  One man pushed back against the format, asking why staff couldn't explain who thought up the boundaries and explain them.  He was told they just wanted "comments and feedback."  I don't think many were satisfied with that answer.

-Rep Jamie Pedersen was there and he spoke as a father of four (one in school).  I think he's getting a good picture of the issues.

Takeaways:

- this region HAS had a lot of push-pull from the district.  I honestly had not realized how bad it has been.   And, like other regions, the boundaries are NOT taking into account established "community boundaries or geographical features.  For example, one area of Montlake would change and kids would now go to Stevens but up a huge hill by a ravine. 

- NO ONE likes the idea of restarting Meany at Van Asselt.  A Big NO all the way around to Central kids being bused - for three years - to a southend site.  As one table said, why can't it start up one year at Washington (6th grade and this is already on the table from the district) and then move into the part of the building that is ready.  Meaning, do it Nathan Hale style, on-site.  (I will point out this is how the majority of school buildings get done in this country.) 

- Most want TT Minor to be an elementary school.  They believe the numbers are there to support this.  They have respect and understanding for World School (scheduled to move in there after renovation) but feel World School is the wrong choice.

This is a very tough one for me because I have fought for World School which has gotten kicked around repeatedly.  But I would HATE to see them move in and then, a couple of years later, get moved out because...they need a neighborhood school. 

I believe the district needs to offer them the best space possible even if it is not centrally located.  Either lease some Central space or move Van Asselt out of AAA and make that building the World School.  It's a newish building and would be easier to create a 6-12 space there.  Then, redo old Van Asselt for the current Van Asselt students. 

Biggest Takeaway

The research done on Beacon Hill and the impacts of the boundary changes on low-income students.

Seattle Public Schools is pushing students at seven Title 1 schools out of their official city-approved walk zones to their nearby neighborhood grade schools and onto buses to faraway schools. Yet another layer of inequity is that this will increase the use of diesel buses in areas already disproportionately plagued by diesel exhaust and other pollution (as near I-5 and Boeing Field on Mid Beacon Hill). 


Including the entire Beacon Hill area, 4 out of our 6 neighborhood schools (67%) are losing walk zones, compared to 10% for the rest of the city. 

100% (2 out of 2) of Beacon Hill's freeway onramp feeder arterials serve as natural boundaries between neighborhood grade school zones. The district now wants our grade school zones to overlap the freeway on-ramp arterials of Spokane and Graham.  

Little kids walking on-ramp arterials to get to school?  Just no.  

Based on my initial review of the data (presented below), these are the neighborhood grade schools losing their walk zones:

• Maple (Title 1)
• Beacon Hill International (Title 1)
• Dearborn Park (Title 1)
• Graham Hill (Title 1)
• Kimball (Title 1)
• Northgate (Title 1)
• Roxhill (Title 1)
• BF Day
• Green Lake
• John Stanford


I would like to hear the district's response.  (Author's disclaimer: 
Please let me know if I have gotten anything wrong below. The district makes it extremely difficult to understand how the boundaries are changing (the changes are not overlaid on the maps). Also, the new maps do not include walk zones. I did the best I could to parse all the data. Thank you!)

Seattle School Board Debate

Finally here's one because I was getting worried.

This event, Oct-Voter-Fest has several debates.  It's this Sunday, October 6th at the Columbia City Ark Lodge Cinemas, 4816 Rainier Avenue S. from 2 pm to 6 pm.

It is sponsored by the Rainier Chamber of Commerce and First Thursday Seattle.
  • 2:00-3:00: Doors Open for Exhibit Hall & Voter Registration
  • 3:00-3:45: School Board: Sue Peters vs. Suzanne Dale Estey
  • 4:00-4:45: City Council: Mike O'Brien vs. Albert Shen
  • 5:00- 6:00:  Mayoral: Mike McGinn vs. Ed Murray Plus voter registristration
(I don't know why the other district races are not there.)

Parents and Public Education

As we grapple with the minutia of boundaries and enrollment, here's some higher level thinking on education to challenge you.

From Ed Week, "What the Goal of Public Education?", author Tom Segal offers his and others' ideas:

Reform, however, has more to do with the learning experience itself. What should we be teaching? How do we think about accountability? How do we balance standards with the complexities of population diversity? Undoubtedly, technology is typically an offshoot of this dialogue, a tool through which much of this reform can be delivered and administered. But they are not the same thing.

Reform is a big fancy buzzword that floats around one particular concept: what are we trying to get out of this educational experience, and how do we adjust the current system to reflect these changes? 

In your opinion, what is the current goal of the American Public Education System?

and..

What should be the goal of the American Public Education System?


(The US DOE has their own but it doesn't speak to the purpose of public education.) 

From Ed Week's Finding Common Ground, "Do Schools Work Enough to Engage Parents?":

FACMAC Response to Growth Boundaries draft

The FACMAC made a response to the Growth Boundaries plan. You can read the summary of the response here.

Here's the short version:

  1. Include high schools now. They take the longest to address, there isn't that much time, and the system is integrated.
  2. Instead of messing with nearly all of the elementary school attendance areas and middle school assignments, leave most of them essentially unchanged and put all of north-end 1-8 APP at Wilson-Pacific. Put APP there and you can leave almost everyone else alone.
  3. Adjust elementary attendance areas only as needed. Re-assign the elementary school - middle school feeders only as needed to add a middle school and adjust for the removal of APP from Hamilton.
  4. Rethink some of the BEX IV investments to more closely reflect what we will need and when we will need it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, September 30th
Growth Boundaries meeting at Meany from 6:30-8:00 pm

Tuesday, Oct 1st
Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council Meeting from 6:30-9:30 pm at JSCEE, room 2700

Growth Boundaries meeting at Ballard High School Commons from 6:30-8:00 pm

Wednesday, Oct. 2nd
School Board Meeting from 4:15 pm to 8:00 pm.  Agenda.

It's quite a light agenda and this should be a fairly short meeting. 

One item of note is acceptance of work performed for Montlake and Thornton Creek.  It's of interest because of the number of times the district performs upgrades to old buildings like Montlake and, if  you totaled all the money put into these buildings over the years, it would have been simpler and better to just rebuild. 

Another item is the acceptance of all the portables purchased, moved and set-up for various school sites.  The costs is nearly $1M.  This part of the project will provide 25 classrooms for 10 schools.  (The overall project provids a total of 32 classrooms at 14 schools.)

As well, they are to Into the ed specifications for JA K-8.  This helps to gain about $1.4M in state funding for this effort. 

There are no Director Community meetings this Saturday. 

South Shore PreK-8: What's the Mystery?

Almost a year ago I did a thread on South Shore and compared it to the other K-8s.  I found in reading, SS is about the same as most K-8s but the math is worse. 

So I did a comparison today with South Shore, Roxhill and Maple from 2009 to today and there seems to be two issues. 

One, something seems amiss from 3rd to 4th grade at South Shore.  The children in third grade do really well only to see those scores drop (and I mean drop) by 4th and into 5th. 

Two, there is a bit of a mystery about South Shore.  No one mentions the long-time partnership that started South Shore (with the New School Foundation and now LEV).  Not at their school website and barely in the district's own pages.  You'd think this would be some shining example of (1) what you can do with smaller class sizes and (2) public/private partnerships.   Why doesn't the district talk about SS more when confronting legislators over funding?  I note the district did honor South Shore this past Feb at a Board meeting and Director Martin-Morris held them up as role models to other parts of the country.

They do have two tutoring programs, their own school nurse, two kinds of empathy/behavior programs and literacy coaches.  I'm thinking between that - and the ability to buy down class sizes per their MOU - that's where the nearly $1M per year that New School kicks in must go.  About 25% of their school budget is grant funds.  (I'd venture that that may be the largest in the district.) 

Here's what I found when I examined the data at OSPI:

While We Worry about our District, Congress Twiddles its Thumbs

I'm sure most children have no idea what is happening in Congress but I expect that they will feel the ramifications - short and long-term - in their lives.  And who gets hit the hardest if the government shuts down?  You better believe it's those who need the most help.

Update:  From The Answer Sheet at the Washington Post, here's what happens to public education if the government shuts down.  From the DOE:

A protracted delay in Department obligations and payments beyond one week would severely curtail the cash flow to school districts, colleges and universities, and vocational rehabilitation agencies that depend on the Department’s funds to support their services.  For example, many school districts receive more than 20 percent of their funds from Department-funded programs.

Here's a helpful chart (show it to the kids) from the NY Times on how this could all play out in the next 48 hours.

An interesting op-ed at CNN by local writer/thinker, Eric Lui, on the rise of cities because of more decisive mayoral leadership (whether good or bad) and the failure of Congress to do - their - jobs.

One reason is that we've all become inured to the utter dysfunction of Washington. But another is that Washington matters less every day. Even though the shenanigans of congressional Republicans make for a perfect negative civics lesson -- Don't do this in real life, kids -- in cities all across the country civic innovation is flowering, and everyday citizens are becoming newly empowered.

While our federal government has tied itself in partisan knots, cities are showing the way forward.

The localism of our time -- and you see it in how people eat, work, move, buy, sell, grow, share, create -- is a networked localism.

The challenge of this era is to enable every citizen to think more like a mayor -- pragmatically, oriented toward solutions, willing to experiment, eager and be shameless about borrowing great ideas from other people in other places.

Thinking like this is one reason I'm an activist.  We live in a city where citizens matter (not always and not always on the big things) but you can be heard.

And all this over wanting healthcare for all Americans (again, whether you like Obamacare or not, it is the law, it is a first effort and everyone should have health coverage).

Since it's the last episode of Breaking Bad, a one-minute Canadian version.   It's very funny.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Garfield Teacher (and Inspiration) Jesse Hagopian Wins Teaching Award

Garfield teacher and MAP boycott leader Jesse Hagopian was named the "Secondary School Teacher of the Year" last Saturday by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences International in Washington, D.C.  His "Bammy" award was also joined by a "Grammys for Teachers", a special achievement award, for his work.

Bammy_onStage_lowerResThe annual Bammy awards recognize educators from across the education field: teachers, principals, librarians, nurses, school-board members, superintendents, and others.
The presenter told the audience this Bammy was for “a demonstration of courage” because, he said, courage is necessary “when doing what’s in the best interests of children…” He added that sometimes courage “means going against accepted policy, going against what is accepted convention.”

“This is a victory for all of the students, parents and teachers at Garfield who refused to give the Michelle Rhee-endorsed MAP test, and who stood strong in the face of education-corrupting standardized testing that has run over our students,” said Hagopian, as he held up the silver-and-lead-crystal Bammy award. “And this,” he said after a pause, again hoisting the hefty Bammy, “is a victory of all of those teachers and educators who said that you should be both a social-justice advocate in the classroom, and outside the classroom.”

Hagopian’s attendance at the gala was a coincidental accident of scheduling. The National Education Association had flown him to the capital that same week to testify before the Congressional Black Caucus of the U.S. Congress. He was one of several educators from across the country that testified to the caucus about the negative impacts of standardized testing and school closures on at-risk students and their communities.


The Bammys are presented by The Academy of Education Arts and Sciences International, which includes leading educators, education professors, journalists, editors, researchers, commentators, advocates, activists, visionaries and pioneers.  The Academy is comprised of a board of governors, a council of peers, and associate members.

I also note that Diane Ravitch singled out Garfield High School during her talk on Thursday for their tremendous effort and courage.  Jesse was in the crowd, with his wife and children, to hear her praise. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Growth Boundaries Information

Readers keep asking about information and I'll try to put up as much as I can find. 

Growth Boundaries website.  This page contains links to:
  • Presentation to the Board Work Session on September 17
  • Handout from the Board Work Session on September 17
  • Maps from presentation
(Note:  I have also searched but cannot find a map that I am told exists of current boundaries and proposed boundaries on one page.)

Questions and answers from Community Meetings will be added to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page as quickly as possible. 
See the complete planning Timeline.

Email comments to: GrowthBoundaries@seattleschools.org
(Please put your school or topic in the subject line.)

Growth Boundaries Maps page.

Facilities Master Plan 2012

And I know some readers have asked for the very latest capacity numbers for each building.  Frankly, I searched in several ways and could not find easily find them.  If the district makes it this hard to find, I'm thinking they don't want you to see them.  If someone has a link, great.

Seattle Schools Updates

Saturday sees three Director Community Meetings:

Community Meeting with Director Martin-Morris at Diva Espresso on Lake City Way from 9:30-11:30 am.
Community Meeting with Director Smith-Blum at Capitol High Library, 425 Harvard Ave. E from
10 am-11:30 am
Community Meeting with Director Patu at Caffe Vita, 5028 Wilson Avenue S. from 10 am to noon.

From Central District News, a story about unhappy Central area parents and elementary school choices.  What's interesting is either no one checked in with the district on the use for TT Minor or chose to ignore what the district is planning (to reopen TT Minor for World School).  I think there are valid points here, though.

Parents and residents in a northern swatch of the Central District, from Madison Avenue to Cherry Street and from 14th to 23rd Avenues (called Areas 42 and 43) are hoping to influence the school district to reopen TT Minor as the area’s elementary school.

The group’s impetus for forming is a recent projection that Stevens Elementary School will surpass its current capacity for students in the next several years. As a result, Seattle Public Schools has proposed boundary changes that will reassign students near Stevens’ southern boundary to either Madrona K-8 or Lowell Elementary. The group would prefer the district reopen TT Minor.
The school district is fielding feedback on its proposed boundary changes at several upcoming meetings, including one on Monday at Meany Middle School from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. The neighborhood group will be present at the Monday meeting to express their thoughts on TT Minor.

New SPS assignments announced today by Superintendent Banda.  First, Jon Halfaker, principal at Washington Middle School, is to be the new Executive Director of Schools for the NW region.  This is really kind of sad because I think Mr. Halfaker is quiet, effective principal and I think it's a loss for Washington.

Also, Patricia Guenther has been appointed as interim principal at Washington; she is currently assistant principal there.

Both appointments start October 1. 


Ever wonder about the voice of the "robocall lady?"  She's a real person.  The story from Parent Map.

HIgh Schools and Growth

A reader with background in planning and with much knowledge/background on the district and facilities offers these thoughts on what may be coming for high schools and growth.  (Gray areas are my thoughts as we go along and the rest is the reader's.)

To understand: coming up fast is the possibility of very overcrowded high schools.  Not 5, 10 years out but probably three years.  But a three-year plan may be all that is possible at this point especially since the needs/growth is very different for each region of the district.

And guess what?  Nearly out of inventory.  Where will everyone go?  Will the district go to shifts (and they have done this in the past)?  Portables? 

The reader's basic thoughts:
  • get this out to the Seattle legislators.  We need help.
  • get high school on the table now.  High schools are high stakes for students and parents.
  • fix the worst of the BEX mistakes.  There were many but all of the stuff they added at the last second is just flawed. 
The SPS staff has done Herculean work while also creating clarity about the potential size of the gap. I am surprised that they managed to make any reasonable boundaries based on how substantial the shortfall actually is. 

Education News

You may recall my update on Common Core?  I left out the biggest news which is the looming showdown between California Governor Jerry Brown and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  The fight is over - what else? - testing

From EdSource:

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday defended the state’s decision to suspend state standardized tests this year and instead offer students a practice test in the Common Core standards that’s now being developed. And he gave no sign of steering away from a collision with the federal government over this issue.

The governor wants to pilot CC assessments for schools that have the necessary equipment.  The issue is that a new California law says this:

By requiring that every district capable of administering a computer-based test give students a Common Core field or practice test next spring, the bill will put California out of compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind law. 

And that's because California - like most states - does not have enough computers or infrastructure to give computerized tests to all children 3-8 and grade 11 as required under NCLB.

The field test will not produce results for federal accountability. Its purpose is to help the test developers create a valid assessment on the new standards in 2015, when California and other states would formally introduce it.

And Arne Duncan?

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, an advocate of the Common Core standards, has acknowledged the usefulness of the field test and said he would exempt schools, comprising up to 20 percent of a state’s enrollment, from also taking their state tests.

But California will be pressing the issue by seeking a waiver for most districts from state tests in those grades. Those districts without the technology to administer the computer-based field test would give neither the old test under state standards nor the Common Core test – one reason for Duncan’s opposition.

He threatened to levy a fine or withheld Title One funds on California but has now softened his stance somewhat.  Duncan is allowing states to try the new test on 20% of students but the other 80% have to take the old one.  (The 20% would not count towards a state's rating under NCLB.)

Also in California a new law to help kids "salvage" their reputations before it's too late.  From Ed Week:

Friday Open Thread

Good morning and it was a great talk by Diane Ravitch last night.  I'll have a wrap-up. 

A new program from Seattle Police: Do We Have Your Bike?  via Twitter.

Right now, SPD has about 500 “found” bikes in storage at our Evidence Warehouse. Each one of those bikes was abandoned somewhere in the city, then later recovered by officers. We may have your bike, and we’d like to reunite you with your wheels.

Also, from the State of Washington, the Governor's office has an initiative, Results Washington, where you can register ideas on five goal ideas including "World Class Education."  (Still hate that "world-class" term which Diane Ravitch can easily refute.)   They seriously want the ideas so let them know.

The other initiative is The Great Washington Shake Out on October 17th to practice earthquake drills  (So far SPS has not registered to participate and it's only Bryant, South Shore, Stevens Wedgwood and West Woodland that have registered.)  Good ideas here about how to react during an earthquake and resources to be prepared. 

What's on your mind?


Horace Mann update

I attended the final meeting of the Horace Mann African-American Community Task Force this evening. The meeting was not as well attended as the last one I witnessed, but it was productive. They have a deal.

The ACIC is still in the building and operating, but they will leave peaceably so construction can begin. The District would like them out by the end of next week. You may be surprised to learn that they have not made any preparations to move. They haven't even begun to plan their exit. They asked if they could stay until December 31. The answer was no.

Africatown may lease space at Columbia or Van Asselt for a year and they may lease one of the portables at the Mann site until February. That remains to be seen. They don't want to cease operations, but I don't know if their financial resources will extend to leasing District property.

The deal, such as it is, was actually made between Mark Perry and the NOVA community and the Africatown community. The District is merely going along with it. In the deal, the ACIC will get dedicated space in the renovated Mann building for administrative offices and for storage. They will also get to use some of NOVA's space - classrooms and larger meeting space - when NOVA isn't there: before school, after school, weekends, and summers. That's when the ACIC programs will need the space anyway since their students are in school during the school day. Those will be shared space.

This deal, as I wrote, was struck between Africatown and NOVA. Wyking Garrett, and others, were very clear to say that they have no trust issues with the NOVA community. In fact, they praised Mark Perry and the NOVA community for reaching out and seeking partnership. The community does, however, distrust the District and they want something clear and in writing about what the District is committed to doing. The District has been vague and non-committal, not granting anything in writing nor promising anything that they wouldn't offer a stranger. The District is not giving Africatown anything. No space at Mann. NOVA gets it all as far as the District is concerned. NOVA can share if they want, but that comes from NOVA, not from the District.

Wyking Garrett made an important statement. The activities of the ACIC wants to see at the Mann building are district activities. The District has already stated their intent to engage families, to deliver culturally responsive curricula, and to provide professional development towards cultural competency. These are all things that the District says they want to do. These are all things that are in the Strategic Plan. The ACIC wants the District to commit to doing that work - instead of just talking about it - to do it at Mann, and to start doing it without delay. The ACIC wants to partner with the District on developing these programs and curricula. They believe that they have what the district needs to accomplish their goals. Will the District partner with them? Authentically? We'll see.

That work starts with the formation of the Success for African-American Students Advisory Committee (SAASAC) which the superintendent has directed his staff to form. The Advisory Committee will be charged with reviewing academic and disciplinary data for African-American students district-wide, looking at the curriculum for black history in America and making recommendations for programs. It's unclear if that charge includes the work that the ACIC wants to do with the District. It's unclear if the District will actually allow the Advisory Committee to do any of the work that they are charged with doing.

The immediate conflict is resolved. The District has yet another opportunity to build trust - or destroy it. The NOVA community has showed their open-handed generosity, their humanity, and their commitment to social justice. And the ACIC will have space for their programs at Mann.

Their programs include before-school and after-school educational programs, a summer educational program, some extra-curricular programs, a homeschool resource program, and community building activities.

How can we work to increase the rigor in general education classrooms

Inspired by Gen Ed Mom I am starting a conversation about increasing the rigor, challenge, opportunity and support for students working beyond the Standards in our general education classrooms.

As I have written numerous times before, the Standards, intended in theory as a floor - the minimum that students should achieve - function in practice as a ceiling - the maximum that students can achieve. The reasons are multiple, but the primary one is that the focus is on supporting all students to reach the standards rather than supporting each student to achieve as much as they can. All of the focus is on getting students to the standard and there is no focus left for teaching them beyond the standards. In addition to that faulty frame, there are bureaucratic practices that cap student achievement. They include horizontal alignment, vertical articulation, fidelity of implementation, and a gross misunderstanding of how Standards are supposed to work. There is also political opposition to supporting student work beyond Standards. It doesn't make sense but some people think that no student should learn more than their peers. It is somehow unfair, as if they are greedily sucking up all the education and not leaving any for the other kids. No, really. Then there are those who think that the lowest performing students should be our top priority and any time spent supporting students who are not at grade level should all go to those who are working below grade level and none of it should go to students who are working beyond grade level. Finally there are those who reckon that "these kids will be just fine" and since they are obviously getting lessons somewhere other than school they can just keep on getting their lessons there.

This has nothing to do with advanced learning, advanced learning programs, or advanced learners. There is a time when every student is, in one subject or another, ahead of the class. This is about providing challenge for any student who is working beyond standards in any classroom. By the way, Shauna Heath, with her definition of Spectrum as "one grade level ahead" and her definition of APP as "two grade levels ahead" creates caps for the advanced learners in the advanced learning programs. There is nearly as much skill range in APP as you will find in general education classrooms, and the top learners there are capped as well for all of the same reasons. Now let's not talk about those things again.

So what can you do to encourage and support your child's teacher and your child's school to support students working beyond grade level in the general education classroom? If you already have that support, then how did you get it?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Want to Hang with the Seattle Education Elite?

But you don't have a ballgown for the Alliance's annual Black and Orange Masquerade Ball?  (This year with masks: Don't forget your mask! Creativity and mystery encouraged!)

Relax, you're in luck.   The Alliance needs volunteers to be runners for their auctions (and, if you are good-looking, modeling the auction items on stage), check-in staff, you name it.  

Should be quite the affair (and don't you wonder about what kind of masks you'd see?).  I'll have to ask Superintendent Banda about that.  



Pinehurst News

Well, a report out from the public hearing last night that I believe is worthy of its own thread. 

From reader Danny:

I attended the Pinehurst K-8 (aka AS#1) public hearing last night.

It was just that, a public hearing for public testimony. No more real information was gleaned from it other than how important the school is to the community of people who send their kids there.


One testimony of note was School Board Director Peaslee waited patiently and testified last with no time limit and put on record that the options of temporarily locating at the Decautur bldg while waiting for a permanent co-location with Thornton Creek are absolutely viable solutions. She also stated that it doesn't make sense to close a program due to low enrollment while there are waiting lists and empty buildings in the district. She also stated that she had a conversation with Thornton Creek's principal John Miner who told her Pinehurst must be saved and is on board with the co-locating option.


First, thank you to Director Peaslee for doing the work to make sure that the district's decision is backed up by evidence.

Second, the Decatur building is to be empty.  Putting Pinehurst in there next to Thornton Creek - whose principal says it would be okay - and allowing those two programs to possibly grow and thrive (and keeping a K-8 option in the NE) seems like a good road to try.   I cannot say for certain - as was the case for African-American Academy - whether it is district inaction/disinterest that caused Pinehurst numbers to drop so low but I believe it was a big factor in those numbers. 

Given the district has stated no plans for the the building and that it will cost more if they leave it empty only to reopen it in a few years (and it's not as if we haven't seen that happen), I think this would be a good course of action. 

Wild, Irresponsible Speculation about the West Seattle APP Option and More

The District is committed to creating an optional 1-8 APP pathway in West Seattle. It is written into the Growth Boundary plan and program placement has been made at Fairmount Park and Madison.

But what will this optional pathway be like? Can it be self-contained? If not, then what? And what does this proposal mean for service delivery for APP elsewhere in the District? What, in fact, is the District's intent around student identification and service delivery for advanced learning after MTSS has been implemented - or, to be more precise, after the District claims that MTSS has been implemented?

This is all pure speculation. There is simply no way to know before the fact, but we can look ahead and we can make some deductions. We do have some facts:

  • The District is committed to an alternative 1-8 APP pathway in West Seattle.
  • There are not enough APP-eligible students in West Seattle form a full cohort for the self-contained model.
  • The District is committed to implementing MTSS.
  • The District is committed to convening a Task Force to recommend changes to student identification process and standards for advanced learning.
  • The District is committed to convening a Task Force to recommend changes to the service delivery models for advanced learning.
  • MTSS comes with a structure for identifying advanced learners.
  • MTSS comes with a structure for providing service for advanced learners.
Okay. Let the wild and irresponsible speculation begin!

Open Thread for West Seattle Boundary Meeting/Pinehurst Meeting

If you attended either of these meetings and have comments or thoughts, here's a place for them.

Early Tweets from the West Seattle Blog indicate
  •  a much lower turnout than the other two meetings (about 60ish), 
  • West Seattle's topography was ignored/not understood in these suggested boundaries, 
  • people unhappy to have bought a house for School X and now getting School Y.   
I'm sure the WS Blog will have a wrap-up thread so I'll link that when it is available. 

Also, if you do the "Walk the Boundaries", let us know your comments.

UC Berkeley Study on Teens and Sleep

From The Huffington Post:

During the four-year study, researchers are working with hundreds of 10 to 18-year-olds who have trouble falling asleep and waking up.

“Adults are good with eight hours of sleep, but because teenage minds and bodies are developing so rapidly, they should be getting about nine,” explained Allison Harvey, the principle investigator in the study and a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, to The Huffington Post. 

During each semester of the ongoing study, researchers invite several dozen teens who suffer from sleep deprivation to a “slumber party” on campus. Teens are then paired with "sleep coaches" who monitor hormone levels and sleeping habits and patterns. The teens also attend workshops about habits to promote a good night's rest, including meditation, creating a tech-free zone and other methods outlined in the slideshow below.

Harvey also hopes that with concrete results, researchers might have a stronger case for pushing back school start times, which they argue are too early. 

The National Sleep Foundation suggests that most teens get nine hours and 15 minutes per night, and recent studies have tied sleep deprivation to depression, obesity, heart disease and low birth weight. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that only 8 percent of teens were getting the recommend amount of sleep.


"It's very, very clear," said Harvey. "We think better and we feel better when we're sleeping well."

A Busy Thursday

To note for today:

- Diane Ravitch, talking about her new book, Reign of Error, at UW's Kane Hall at 7 p.m.  It should be full so I would advise getting there early.

Diane will be on KUOW at 1 p.m. today.  

- another taskforce meeting on the Mann building from 5-7 p.m.  at JSCEE.  You'd have to call the district to find out which room because it changes.  I am not surprised they are still having these meetings since no one at the district will verify what is happening with that building and its occupants.

- School Board candidate debate at the Vera Project at Seattle Center from 6-8:00 p.m.  My caution here is that it is co-sponsored with City Club by the so-called Our Schools Coalition and the Alliance coached the students who will act as the panel. 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Denny Has a Small (very) Fire Today

From Principal Jeff Clark at Denny Middle School:
This afternoon at 11:30 we had a small fire in a garbage can in a 2nd floor bathroom. The resulting smoke caused the evacuation alarm to sound. As we were clearing the smoke, the evacuation alarm sounded several more times. Today is an early-release day for Seattle Public Schools — all students were released as planned at 12:10.

All students and staff are fine — there is no resulting damage to the building. Tomorrow will be a regular school day. All of our students did an outstanding job during our evacuation procedures.
 First we have an Eckstein student (who apparently was trying to do Parkour - on a roof?)who falls through a skylight on the roof.

Today, it's a bathroom garbage can fire at Denny. (And apparently it was the girls bathroom.)  And,  it was quite a lot of smoke in the halls.  One commenter at the West Seattle Blog says there looked like a lot of damage AND there's video camera right outside the bathroom.  Uh oh.

Middle schoolers acting true to form (or at least true to Hollywood middle school standards). 

Advisory Committees need volunteers

The deadline has been extended to Friday, October 11 for nominations to the School Family Partnerships Advisory Committee.

The District is also seeking nominations for the Positive Climate and Discipline Advisory Committee.

For more information, follow the links.

Common Core; Hitting Massive Roadblocks

The big question; will Common Core survive and, if it does, will it be so beaten down that it's unrecognizable?

Story One:
Huge Common Core supporter, Governor Rick Scott of Florida, on Monday withdrew Florida from the group known as PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) consortium that is creating Common Core assessments. 

From the American Enterprise Institute blog (never thought I'd type those words here):

The Florida decision is especially significant for three reasons. 

First, Florida has long been one of the states leading the charge. It has acted as a “fiscal agent” for one of the two major testing consortia, and its state superintendents have played an active role as champions of the Common Core effort. This isn’t some state in the chorus pulling back; it’s the drum major having second thoughts.

Second, Florida’s decision appeared increasingly likely after former state superintendent Tony Bennett resigned this summer. Bennett is a prominent conservative school reformer and one of the most visible GOP advocates for the Common Core. When his job was at stake, Republicans who might normally have rallied around Bennett were surprisingly absent—due, in no small part, to lukewarm feelings towards the Common Core. Florida’s reversal teaches opponents that removing one prominent Common Core backer in a state may deliver outsized change.

Third, Florida is seen as Jeb Bush’s backyard. Bush, a potential 2016 GOP candidate and former two-term Florida governor, is the most significant Republican champion of the Common Core. Rightly or wrongly, Scott’s decision is likely to be seen as a reflection on Bush’s influence and his tenuous relationship with conservatives, even in Florida—and even on school reform.

Make no mistake - Jeb Bush IS the face of ed reform in this country and Florida was his go-to state.  

The Back-to-School edition of the Seattle Times

I don't know why, but there are a whole lot of education-related stories in the Seattle Times today.

Seattle Home Value Increases by Nearest School

seattle-wa-school-zones-and-homesFrom the Puget Sound Business Journal:

Seattle-based online real estate company Redfin undertook a study to find out about the correlation between highly-ranked schools and local real estate prices and found out in Seattle, a highly-ranked school nearby can add to a home's value by more than $40,000.

"When accounting for size, on average, people pay $50 more per square foot for homes in top-ranked school zones compared with homes served by average-ranked schools ... While we expected to see higher prices for homes in highly-ranked school zones, we didn’t expect the difference to be so large," Redfin said in a statement.

The map is showing a home in Wedgwood versus John Rogers.

From the Redfin blog:

 In the United States, housing prices in the zones of highly ranked public schools are remarkably higher than those served by lower ranked schools.

Everyone assumes that better school districts tend to have bigger homes, higher quality homes, larger lots, or a more prime location (views, quiet streets, etc). We’ve debunked that assumption.  

A Compassionate Teacher's Note to Students

A teacher in Indiana wrote this note to his students as they started testing.

On behalf of critically thinking educators everywhere, I would like to apologize to you for having to participate in this absurd ritual.

And I would like to remind you that whatever score the ACT labels you with, consciousness is not quantified and this test does not determine your intelligence, capacity for critical thought, compassion or your worth as a human being.

Thank you, (the aptly named) Mr. Robinson.

Seattle Schools' Growth Boundary Meeting at Hale

It was a full house but frankly, not as full as I thought it would be (and certainly not the crowd that Charlie had - Tracy Libros said there were at least 250 people at Monday's event).  

There were three legislators there - Rep. Jamie Pedersen, Rep. Gerry Pollet and Senator David Frockt.  I saw just two Board members - Director DeBell and Director Peaslee (odd that Martin-Morris wasn't there - this is his region).  There were also several members of the FACMAC committee.

I sat at a table with parents worried about several issues but they seems resigned.  I also sat with two reporters from the Roosevelt News.  They worry over losing diversity at their school and overcrowding.  I set them up to talk with Shauna Heath. 

Big Picture
A couple of themes I came away with that I hope ALL parents understand.

This is a serious situation (and probably more serious than the district is letting on although Flip Herdon did let two things slip that should have been the canary in the coal mine - more on that in a minute). 

One, there will be pain.  To many, many families.  I wish it were otherwise but this is a big messy situation with many moving parts that will NOT be solved even within five years.  Even a great district would have problems figuring this all out. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Seattle Schools Announces New Partnership for Roosevelt

From SPS Communications:

Roosevelt High School was one of 11 schools around the country that recently joined 15 other PRIME schools, a program that offers a community-based approach to manufacturing education.

The PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) model is a call to action designed to create strong partnerships between organizations, businesses, and exemplary schools to provide a comprehensive community-based approach to manufacturing education.

PRIME, is part of a commitment by the SME Education Foundation (SME-EF) to address the shortage of manufacturing and technical talent in the United States. Model schools funded by PRIME offer a STEM-based curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) that helps prepare young people for highly skilled, good-paying jobs in demand by today’s manufacturers.

All but two of this year’s selected schools offer the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) STEM program. PLTW is the nation’s leading provider of in-school STEM curriculum programs, with partnerships in over 5,500 schools nationwide.

PRIME logoPRIME model schools partner with local manufacturing businesses to offer students a range of valuable benefits: mentoring, tours of businesses, job shadowing and internships. Schools also receive funding to support postsecondary scholarships, equipment upgrades, STEM-based summer camps for middle school kids and continuing education for instructors. PRIME schools encourage young people to become makers and builders, to discover for themselves not just how things work but why.

Bart Aslin, CEO of SME Education Foundation, said young people should enroll in STEM-based education programs. “The careers available with modern manufacturers are not like the ones that existed 40 or 50 years ago. Today, you work with very sophisticated software and equipment on significant projects that impact people living all over the world," he said. "Manufacturers are looking for creative thinkers who enjoy solving complex puzzles and this is the kind of talent our PRIME schools produce.”

What African-American Parents Believe about Ed Reform

This is a very interesting report from June of this year.  I found it quite telling especially since I hear this from some African-American parents as well as leaders (I have heard Trish Dziko from TAF Academy say this).   The report is through the United Negro College Fund.

What is it they are saying?  It's right in the title,  
"Done to Us, Not with Us: African American Parent Perceptions of K-12 Education."

NCTQ reviews SPS SEA contract for OSC

The National Council on Teacher Quality, an Education Reform propaganda engine, has reviewed the recent two-year contract between Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association, the teachers' union.

The review by the NCTQ compares the final contract language to the Seattle Public Schools’ Bargaining Platform and - inexplicably- the Our Schools Coalition’s platform as if the Our Schools Coalition had any kind of standing or qualifications. Inexplicable, that is, until we discover that the Our Schools Coalition commissioned the review. So when the question is "How closely does the contract align with OUR goals?", then things that are aligned with the OSC goals appear to be good and variances appear to be bad, without any determination of whether the OSC goals are good or bad.

This subtlety was either lost on Lynne Varner or intentionally omitted from her editorial about the review.

You can read it for yourself. Lines like this: "The six pages of the contract dealing with 'classroom control,' 'employee protection' and 'safety and security' read as if students (and their parents) are to be feared." give you a sense of the tone. It's not a scholarly effort. It sneers and casts doubts instead of speaking with authority "If anything, the contract may overemphasize collaboration at the expense of timely problem solving and responsiveness to individual teachers and schools." Note how it casts suspicion on efforts to collaborate and suggests that collaboration is antithetical to action but doesn't actually come out and say that plainly. Very weaselly.

Too Much Emphasis on Sports in our Schools?

I agree with this author, Amanda Ripley, writing for The Atlantic.  I have no idea why ed reformers and others seem to look the other way as the dollars and resources and energy and time flow to sports.  It's a great article.

But what to make of this other glaring reality, and the signal it sends to children, parents, and teachers about the very purpose of school?

In countries with more-holistic, less hard-driving education systems than Korea’s, like Finland and Germany, many kids play club sports in their local towns—outside of school. Most schools do not staff, manage, transport, insure, or glorify sports teams, because, well, why would they?

Let's ask some international students who come to the U.S. for high school exchanges:

One element of our education system consistently surprises them: “Sports are a big deal here,” says Jenny, who moved to America from South Korea with her family in 2011. Shawnee High, her public school in southern New Jersey, fields teams in 18 sports over the course of the school year, including golf and bowling. Its campus has lush grass fields, six tennis courts, and an athletic Hall of Fame. “They have days when teams dress up in Hawaiian clothes or pajamas just because—‘We’re the soccer team!,’ ”

By contrast, in South Korea, whose 15-year-olds rank fourth in the world (behind Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong) on a test of critical thinking in math, Jenny’s classmates played pickup soccer on a dirt field at lunchtime. They brought badminton rackets from home and pretended there was a net. If they made it into the newspaper, it was usually for their academic accomplishments.

No kidding.  So how did we get here?

Community Meeting on Growth Boundaries - Mercer

I attended the first community meeting on Growth Boundaries at Mercer Middle School. It was jam packed in the Mercer lunchroom. The Hawthorne community turned out in force. School Board Director Betty Patu was there as were school board candidates Stephan Blanford and Suzanne Dale-Estey.

The meeting began with a totally useless presentation by Flip Herndon, Michael Tolley, Tracy Libros, and a man from Facilities. That sucked up half an hour.

Then a half hour was spent with the community members working in groups to identify the three things they liked about the plan and the three things they wanted to change. The groups did not report out. Instead, the group work was written down on large sheets of paper with a sharpie and district folks just collected them. They also collected question cards.

The last half hour, from 7:30 to 8:00, was supposed to be Q & A time, but mostly people had comments rather than questions. The comments were mostly about not messing with Hawthorne or expressions of puzzlement at some of the changes.

Alliance/City Club School Board Debate

As I previously mentioned, there is a School Board debate this Thursday, the 26th, put on by City Club and the so-called Our Schools Coalition.  Somehow I received two different e-mails with different information so here's the correct info:

It's at the Vera Project at Seattle Center.  Doors open at 5:00 p.m. and there's an awards program and then the debate follows at 6 p.m.  It is free. 

The debate is to be moderated and lead by high school students and one college student.  This is great. 

When I asked the Communications person at  City Club whether the students had formulated their own questions and was told, absolutely.  

But when I told her I had an e-mail saying they have been coached/schooled by a staff member of the Alliance for Education, she backpedaled. 

When I asked about the coaching, I was told it was just to explain to the students about "governance" and how the School Board works.  I said that an e-mail from Sara Morris, the head of the Alliance, Morris says the students will use the "8 Characteristics of Effective School Boards" to "inform" the questions. (This is a topic I have previously written about.) 

I noted to the City Club Communications person that the Board itself hasn't signed off on these and that these characteristics, in fact, don't necessarily correlate to the state statute.  She had no comment.

If you are attending, you might take these questions with a big grain of salt.  Of course, young people being the free spirits that they are, I suspect some will go off-topic (and good for them).  

To note, the so-called Our Schools Coalition is funded by the Gates Foundation.

This is the same night as the Diane Ravitch appearance at Kane Hall at UW at 7 p.m.  It's a tough choice but her new book is really direct, fact-based and great.  There will be other debates. 

Tuesday Open Thread

I assume you heard Congress cut food stamps to thousands of poor families.  Interesting stats regarding children and food stamps:

- 72% of SNAP recipients are in households with children
- 210,000 students could lose free lunch at school

Not good. 

Election ballots may be winging their way to you by the weekend.  I'll have some thoughts on that later in the week. 

What's on your mind?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Update on Pinehurst but Final Decision up to School Board

From Superintendent Banda (color mine):

Dear Pinehurst K-8 families and staff:

This letter updates our discussion regarding the possible closure of the Pinehurst K-8 program after the 2013-14 school year. The criterion for this decision is whether an alternative location can be found which does not result in unsustainable costs. We have reviewed numerous acceptable locations and none have been found. 

Even if a long term site were found, it would still mean continued long term operational and administrative costs of $450,000 annually. The District does not have sustainable funding for the added costs. After considerable research and looking at numerous alternatives, my preliminary recommendation is that the program should be closed. A complete copy of my preliminary recommendation is available on the Pinehurst Web page. 

What's Up with all the Stars Deciding They Know Education?

 Update:  So NBC, apparently after receiving many complaints about the makeup of the list of speakers DID call and ask Diane Ravitch to be on a panel.  She declined, saying she didn't want to be a prop.  Good call.

End of update.

NBC News has been having these "Education Nation" summits once a year.  I had high hopes until I heard anchor Brian Williams say that they were being lead by the Gates Foundation.  (It's unclear if that is again the case this year.)

But, you can look at the list of speakers and guess who is underrepresented?  C'mon, take a wild guess.  Yes, that would be teachers.   There's one.

But look who's there - Goldie Hawn, M. Night Shyamalan, Tony Bennett and John Legend.  Boo.

(Not to mention head of Stand for Children as well as Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, Allyson Felix (an Olympic Gold medalist) and two investment bankers.  Double boo.)

Celebrities with a charter school or two under their belt?  Andre Agassi, Pitbull, Jalen Rose (NBA), and Deion Sanders (NFL).

Why are all these stars deciding that if they read one white paper that they know public education?  And why, to almost a person, is it always around a charter school? 

Diane Ravitch has a post at her blog about this issue with a great video.

David Coffey, who created the video, is a teacher of teachers. He is a professor in the mathematics department at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His wife is a first grade teacher. 

He made the video linked above because he found it annoying that a celebrated movie director had written a widely publicized book about how to reform the nation’s schools. These days, it seems that everyone knows how to “reform” the schools, and the farther removed they are from the schools, the more they know. 

He also says:

If you want to know about the achievement gap and ways to address it, read Claude Steele's Whistling Vivaldi.

It is a great read.

Low-Income? Have a Smart Kid? Harvard will pay for their Education

Hard to believe but apparently true; if your child gets into Harvard and your family makes under $60k, that student can go to Harvard..for free.  (They do not consider retirement assets or home equity in their financial aid calculations.)   They eliminated student loans, preferring to offer jobs to help students with non-academic expenses. 

From Harlem World:

For another year, Harvard University announced on Friday, September 20th, 2013 that undergraduate students from low-income families will pay no tuition. In making the announcement, Harvard’s president Drew Faust (she replaced Larry Summers). Past Harvard president Larry Summers said, “When only ten percent of the students in elite higher education come from families in the lower half of the income distribution, we are not doing enough. We are not doing enough in bringing elite higher education to the lower half of the income distribution.”

To find out more about Harvard offering free tuition for families making less than $60,000 a year, visit Harvard’s financial aid website at :http://www.fao.fas.harvard.edu/or call the school’s financial aid office at (617) 495-1581.

Walk the Boundaries - Here's How

There was no press release on this from SPS so I checked and here's what's at the Growth Boundaries website on Walk the Boundaries (bold/color mine):

"Community Input — Walk the Boundaries
As part of the process, community members are invited to "Walk the Boundaries" and record their observations between September 18 and October 1, 2013. This provides a public, feet-on-the-ground review of the proposed boundaries. Partipants will drive or walk the attendance elementary school boundaries and provide feedback to the Growth Boundaries team.

Your Participation
For this project, please look for geographic barriers or local features that separate a specific area from the rest of the attendance area.

IMPORTANT: These are not walk zone boundaries. You are being asked to review the proposed attendance area boundaries for the school. (The City of Seattle School Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, which includes the district's risk manager, establishes approved walk zones and recommended walking routes.)

Instructions (Download these instructions)

  1. Download the map for the school attendance area(s) you will review. Each map has a grid to use as a reference point when you submit your observations and suggestions.
  2. Drive or walk the boundary shown on the map. Look for portions of a school’s proposed boundary that have geographic barriers or local features that separate a specific area from the rest of the attendance area. (For example, we are recommending that the elementary boundaries in Southeast Seattle be modified so that the light rail is a dividing line.)
  3. Mark any issues on your map and note the reason, OR note that there are no issues.
  4. Enter your results in the online survey. Please complete the survey one time for EACH school attendance area boundary you review.
You may want to suggest boundary changes for other reasons. Please email those suggestions, and any questions or comments to GrowthBoundaries@seattleschools.org

Thank you for your participation. We appreciate having the community’s eyes on this work, and believe it will result in a better outcome."

Please let us know if you do this project in any area and your observations.

It's Banned Books Week - How Many Have You Read?

The American Library Association sponsors Baned Books Week every year to highlight censorship around our country.    From The Answer Sheet:

"More than 11,300 books have been challenged in libraries and schools since 1982, when Banned Books Week began. The 10 most challenged books in 2012 were:
  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

Why is Your Student Taking an AP Course?

From Education Week's Caralee Adams:

I'm looking for high school students to interview about why they are taking AP for an upcoming story. Email cadams@epe.org.

Washington State Charter News

 Update:  apparently Tacoma School District is now reconsidering becoming a charter authorizer.   They had paused their letter of intent because of the lack of clarity around rules but now that the Board of Ed and the Charter Commission have cleared up those issues, Tacoma may change its mind.  What's interesting is their School Board had voted in unison against 1240 saying it would hurt their district's funding.  Not sure what changed.   They have missed the window to get authorization and would have to wait until next year to become an authrorizer.  (I suspect - because I've been to the Charter Commission meetings and heard this - that several Tacoma groups who want to open charters feel they might do better with a local authorizer than the Charter Commission.)

As you may have heard, Spokane School District was approved as the only other charter school authorizer in the state of Washington by the State Board of Education.   They were the only applicants as the other 11 districts that had filed letters of intent dropped out (most of them citing time and resource constraints).

Spokane can only approve charter schools that would be in its district.  The Charter Commission is the only authorizer that can approve charter schools anywhere in the state.

It is interesting to note that the east side of Washington State seems very gung-ho on charters while the west side seems less so.

In other news, the Charter Commission hired an Executive Director, Joshua Halsey.  Mr. Halsey lately comes from the Puget Sound Education Services District and lead the development of STEM in south King County.  His salary will be $100,000.  The next Charter Commission meeting will be October 17th in Yakima.  (I had reviewed the candidates previously and found Mr. Halsey well-qualified for this position.)

Chair of the Charter Commission, Steve Sundquist, will be on KUOW's The Record today in the noon hour to discuss charter schools.  KUOW had this report on charter applicants on September 19th.  From that report:

The planning principal for Spokane that wants to open "Pride Prep" charter school that would not only get students to graduate but to go onto college.  One issue to keep in mind is that most charter schools need supplemental funds and articles I've read recently on this subject show that charters that are "college prep" get more money than other high school charters.

 Problem is that many of these charter high schools serve struggling students who may not make it to college even if they graduate.  You have to wonder if the money is driving the purpose of the school or the students themselves. 

Boundary Change push back

I've now heard of two neighborhoods that are not happy with boundary changes.

Members of the Hawthorne Elementary community is not happy about having their middle school assignment changed from Mercer to Aki Kurose.

Members of the Georgetown community are not happy about having their elementary school assignment changed from Maple to Van Asselt.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mann Building Update

Well, sort of an update.  I am still waiting for a reply to what did or did not happen on September 18th at the Mann building.

I am more confused than ever.  It is clear that - for whatever reason - the terms of the lease were  enforced by the district.   I have no idea what is really going on because the terms of the lease are fairly clear.  

There was a letter sent to Superintendent Banda on August 1, 2013 from the group, NPARC, the Non-Profit Anti-Racism Coalition, outlining the situation and that they wanted to stay in the Mann building.

In the first paragraph, it is noted that NPARC "is an alliance of mainly human service organizations in King Country who are committed to identifying and dismantling institutional and structural racism."  It goes on to name "partners" such as Wellspring Family Services, YMCA, Childhaven" and a couple of others.  The letter then launches into a history and explanation of the situation at Mann.

There are no partners or coalition members named at the NPARC website other than Julia Ismael, Keiko Ozeki and Toi Sing Woo.

I was curious about the inclusion of groups like the YMCA and Wellspring.  I contacted all of them and, not surprisingly, most are are confused.  It seems that they have limited connections to NPARC but are not partners and, despite the linkage of their names in this letter, have no knowledge of it at all.  (UPDATE:  Wellspring is a paid member of NPARC but had no knowledge of their mention in the letter to the Superintendent.)

Seattle Schools Updates

This can be an open thread on issues at your school.  I've heard from several schools that have concerns about academics and growth boundaries.

UPDATE:  I am also hearing that hours for nurses are being reduced at schools to about 1 day a week (or less).  I'll have to check into this because while I love the idea of health centers at all the comprehensive high schools (and a couple of middle schools) via the F&E levy, I am dismayed that other schools will barely register a medical presence.  Anyone hear anything about this at your school?

First up is Garfield.   The president of the Garfield PTSA contacted Director Smith-Blum with worries over class assignments at Garfield.  Apparently there aren't enough classes - in biology and Spanish - to help all the students trying to fulfill graduation requirements for college admissions.   Some students only have four classes and want to have a full compliment of classes.

It seems to be a district issue as the principal, Ted Howard, has done all he can to shift his school's dollars around.  Howard has asked the district for mitigation funds.

The word was that Garfield was to hear from Michael Tolley about these funds by last Friday, the 20th.  I call tomorrow and see what happened.

Next is Hawthorne Elementary where they have grave concerns over the boundary shifts that would reduce enrollment at their school and change their middle school track.  

OSPI Doesn't Spot-Check State Tests

The Seattle Times has quite the lengthy article about how Washington State could have a cheating scandal, but doesn't know it, because OSPI doesn't do spot-checks on student tests.

I read this article waiting for some evidence to show itself but it didn't. I'm not saying the theory is wrong but apparently, not that many districts or even schools rise to a level of concern in Washington State. The Times seems to think because this is happening in other parts of the country, it might be happening here.

To note, there ARE measures in place in Washington state- staff is trained in test security and there are testing proctors.

OSPI has strict procedures for everything from how to lock up exams before and after they're given, what teachers can say and do during testing, even what should happen if a students needs to use the bathroom.

The state asks school and district staff to report any irregularities - inadvertent mistakes, as well as suspected tampering. It also has a hotline for anonymous reports.

Naturally, you might ask why doesn't OSPI do more? One big reason is that the Legislature cut dollars everywhere in education. So I would suspect OSPI wanted most of those dollars to go to classrooms and not test score analysis. I'd have to ask them.

Seattle Education This Week

Not a lot on the district front except for the Growth Boundaries community meetings.

Monday, Sept. 23
Growth Boundary Meeting in the Mercer Middle School lunchroom, 1600 South Columbian Way from 6:30-8 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 24
Growth Boundary Meeting in the Commons at Nathan Hale High School, 10750- 30th Ave NE from 6:30- 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 25
Growth Boundary Meeting in the Commons at West Seattle High School, 3000 California Ave SW from  6:30-8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 25th 
No Growth Boundary Meeting but two events to choose from:

 -Diane Ravitch at Kane Hall at UW from 7-8:30 p.m. speaking about her new book, Reign of Error.  This event is free and open to the public.

- Student-lead School Board debate at City Club from 6- 8 p.m. (this is also an awards program so I will have to check how the format will go).  The Palace Ballroom, 2100 Fifth Avenue.  CityClub/Crosscut members $10/General Public $12/Door $15. 

UPDATE: This debate is being run by the Our Schools group.  FYI.

Saturday, Sept. 28th
Community Meeting with Director Martin-Morris at Diva Espresso on Lake City Way from 9:30-11:30 am.
Community Meeting with Director Smith-Blum at Capitol High Library, 425 Harvard Ave. E from
10 am-11:30 am
Community Meeting with Director Patu at Caffe Vita, 5028 Wilson Avenue S. from 10 am to noon.

Kid falls through skylight at Eckstein

All I know about this is what I read in the paper. But I am curious. What were kids doing on the roof at Eckstein? How could one of them be so foolish as to fall through a skylight?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Laugh of the Week Courtesy of DFER

You remember DFER, right? Democrats for Education Reform, a small outlier of Dems who love ed reform. Well, they valiantly trudge on, trying to seem relevant.

I'm on their Twitter feed and I noticed an op-ed at their website authored by a young "progressive" Dem, a student at Harvard named Colin Diersing. He was decrying the education view of the winner of the Democrat race for mayor of NYC, Bill de Baliso, who has pretty much said he would roll back a lot of what Mayor Bloomberg has done for/against public education in NYC.

With all the full-blown (and overblown) rhetoric that defines ed reformers, he goes on the attack:

One Blogger's Progressive Case Against Bill de Blasio
September 16, 2013
This piece was originally posted by the Harvard Political Review By Colin Diersing*
I’m a progressive Democrat. I care about widening inequality, would like my government to more actively redistribute money from the very wealthy to the very poor, and find the racial implications of policies such as Stop and Frisk deeply troubling. Most media narratives suggest that these positions would lead me to support Bill de Blasio. Indeed, I find much of his rhetoric about inequality in New York appealing and compelling.
Unfortunately, de Blasio has declared war on the high quality schools that are actually making a difference in the lives of low­-income children in New York City.
- See more at: http://www.dfer.org/blog/2013/09/the_progressive.php#sthash.uZknmJBJ.dpuf
Unfortunately, de Blasio has declared war on the high quality schools that are actually making a difference in the lives of low-income children in New York City.

He takes on the charter schools of Eva Moskowitz (a long story but she is not the most beloved person in public education in NYCZ), saying de Blasio would threaten her schools that are achieving. 

Nonsense.

Now, DFER has a disclaimer about this being the opinion of the blogger and not theirs but they did choose to put it in their blog AND tweet it out.  (Of course, DFER, not having a real blog, doesn't allow comments so there was no opportunity to say anything.  Courageous group, that DFER.) 

So I said to myself, who is Colin Diersing and so I Googled him.  Being a young person there wasn't much but there was his Facebook page.

This young man, who seemingly cares very much about public education and the children it serves, had a whole thread on young children but not so much caring about them.

To whit, apparently there is a playground outside his dorm at Harvard and those kids are darned noisy.  Here's what he and his classmates had to say:

Colin Diersing
6 hours ago near Cambridge, MA via mobile
Does anyone know how to file a noise complaint in Cambridge and have the kids at the playground outside my window arrested? This madness must stop.
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31 people like this.
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Thoughts on Homework?

From The Atlantic magazine, one father's account of doing - not for his children but to understand their workload - his daughters' homework for a week.  Crazy amount of work.

It turns out that there is no correlation between homework and achievement. According to a 2005 study by the Penn State professors Gerald K. LeTendre and David P. Baker, some of the countries that score higher than the U.S. on testing in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study—Japan and Denmark, for example—give less homework, while some of those scoring lower, including Thailand and Greece, assign more.

The irony is that some countries where the school systems are held up as models for our schools have been going in the opposite direction of the U.S., giving less homework and implementing narrower curricula built to encourage deeper understanding rather than broader coverage.

His take:

The more immersed I become in Esmee’s homework, the more reassured I am that the teachers, principals, and school-board members who are coming up with this curriculum are earnest about their work. They are making difficult decisions about what to teach or not teach in the limited class time they have. The overall education being imparted is secular, humanistic, multicultural, and intensely quantitative. 

The math Esmee is doing at 13, for example, is beyond what I was doing at that age. Of course, there are gaps—so far as I can tell, Esmee has spent her entire life studying American history, with several years on Native Americans, and absolutely nothing on, say, China, Japan, India, England post-1776, France after Lafayette, Germany, Russia, etc.

 Like many parents, I wish there was more emphasis on creative work, on writing assignments that didn’t require Esmee to use eight “transition words” and seven metaphors. This school has clearly made choices—these kids are going to get very good at algebra and maybe a little less good at creative writing. I can’t say I fault them in this, though I know what I would prefer to spend my days doing.

Two highlights:

Free Day of Music Tomorrow at Benaroya Hall

From the Seattle Symphony:

The Seattle Symphony and Music Director Ludovic Morlot invite the public to experience the thrill of live music at Benaroya Hall with a FREE Day of Music on Sunday, September 22, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

More than 35 musical acts representing a wide array of styles — from rock and hip hop to jazz, classical and folk — will appear on multiple stages throughout Benaroya Hall, including the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall, Garden of Remembrance, Norcliffe Founders Room and the Samuel & Althea Stroum Grand Lobby. This public event celebrates the 15th anniversary of Benaroya Hall and the start of the Seattle Symphony’s 2013–2014 season. Day of Music is free and no tickets are required for entrance.


Soundbridge Seattle Symphony Music Discovery Center, located on the corner of Second Avenue and Union Street, will host a full day of family activities beginning an hour earlier, at 10 a.m., and continuing until 5 p.m. Families with children are invited to engage their musical curiosity through instrument exploration and instrument making in the center’s fun-filled musical playroom. In addition, Soundbridge will host free interactive classes and concerts for children — including Musical Storytime, Everyone Come Drum and The Ugly Duckling — throughout the day.

Local food trucks, including Off the Rez, Fusion on the Run, Veraci Pizza, Lumpia World, Curb Jumper, Street Treats and Jemil’s Big Easy, will line Second Avenue alongside Benaroya Hall for the duration of the event.  

Classical KING FM 98.1 is the media sponsor of Day of Music.  

Day of Music
September 22, 2013, beginning at 11 a.m.

(Children’s activities begin at 10 a.m. in Soundbridge)

Schedule of Performances by Location

One Day Volunteer Opportunity to Help a Kid Get into College

From my friends at 826 Seattle:

COLLEGE ENTRANCE ESSAY MARATHONS
Do you remember writing your college application essays? The fear? The frustration? The complete distrust of your parents' unsolicited opinions? We here at 826 Seattle are committed to assuaging all of these rather unpleasant feelings by way of our Fourth Annual College Entrance Essay Marathon! We've expanded our offerings this year to four weekend dates in a variety of locations: West Seattle, Columbia City, Ballard, and our home base in Greenwood. We need volunteers interested in lending a hand as students plan, write, and revise these important (and very intimidating) application essays. Would you be willing to help out for a few hours during one of these sessions? Email Sue Spang, our coordinator of high school programs.  
 
Volunteers are required to attend a short, informative, and very entertaining training on either SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19 or SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9. The marathons will happen on the following dates:
  • West Seattle, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26
  • Columbia City, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27
  • Ballard, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16
  • 826 Seattle, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17