Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Seattle Schools Growth Boundaries Plan to Come Out Tomorrow

By the way, there is a new message on the SPS Growth Boundaries page (thanks to an APP reader for this tip):

"An updated recommended plan will be presented to the board on November 6. The proposal will be released with the Board agenda at 5 p.m. on November 1 and posted here by 7 p.m. (The information from the September 17 draft and the October 16 proposal shown below is now obsolete.")"

 The Board will vote on it November 20th.

When that proposal is live tomorrow,  we'll put it up.

Update:  From SPS,

The recommendations below go to the Board on November 6 for action on November 20. (The information from previous proposals is now obsolete.)


Two Types of Recommendations

  1. Long-range boundaries that will be phased in as construction is completed by 2020. 
  2. Recommendations for specific components to implement next year. 

Board Materials

Complete maps packet for the Board (includes more detailed attendance area maps, feeder patterns, and geozone maps)

Summaries of public input—on initial draft, and on October 16 proposal



Major Changes

  • Jane Addams Middle School opens for grades 6-8. This will not be a “roll up” starting with 6th grade only; rather, rising grade 6-8 students will be assigned together as a cohort as middle school boundary changes are implemented. Jane Addams K-8 will be housed at John Marshall as an interim site for two years.
  • Dearborn Park, McDonald, and John Stanford become option schools (international).
  • A new attendance area is created for Fairmount Park Elementary in West Seattle. Fairmount Park opens for grades K-5 in the fall.
  • Most elementary grade students are grandfathered if their attendance area is changing.
  • North APP elementary (now at Lincoln) will stay at Lincoln until Wilson-Pacific Elementary opens in 2017. North APP elementary will be located at Wilson-Pacific Elementary as a free-standing APP school beginning in 2017.
  • Two sites (co-located with attendance area students) have been designated for north APP middle school: Eckstein and Whitman. APP at Eckstein will begin this coming fall. When APP at both Eckstein and Whitman are in place, enrollment data will be reviewed to determine if Hamilton would continue as an APP site. Depending on the number of students to be served, Hamilton APP may be phased out in the future.
Eckstein and Whitman were chosen as APP sites because by far the largest numbers of APP students live closest to those schools. Note that Eckstein, currently very overcrowded, has its current enrollment reduced significantly with the opening of Jane Addams Middle School. These changes will also provide some relief to over-enrollment at Hamilton.

Feedback on these recommended changes may be sent toGrowthBoundaries@seattleschools.org. Please put your school or issue in the subject line.

Next Steps

The Seattle School Board will vote on the recommended boundaries at its meeting on November 20, 2013. See the updated planning Timeline.

Please note: Regardless of what is approved, boundary changes will be phased in over time. Many changes cannot be implemented until construction projects are complete. See above for changes recommended for 2014-15.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Suzanne Dale Estey - Embellishment is her Specialty but What about Credibility?

I have consistently stated that Suzanne Dale Estey appears to have a great resume.  She seems to have broad policy experience at different levels of government. 

But, based on attendance at and viewing of some videotapes of various campaign events, I realized that she has this tendency to embellish what her resume says she did.  So I decided to check some of what is on her resume AND what she has been saying at campaign stops. 

Here's what I found:

Working for Governor Locke
Here's what her campaign website says:

Federal Legislative Analyst for Washington State Governor Gary Locke

Her LinkedIn resume goes further:

Federal Legislative Analyst
Washington, DC Office of the Governor of Washington State
1998 – 1998 (less than a year)Washington, DC
Monitored Congressional legislation and federal agency activities on behalf of the Governor and the State of Washington. Worked with Congressional staff, White House and federal agency officials, national associations and other governors’ offices to promote Governor’s agenda, including helping lay the foundation for his leadership role on electronic commerce issues. Represented Washington State at meetings of the National and Democratic Governors’ Associations.


But out on the campaign at the Eastlake Forum, she talks about her background and talks of working for Governor Locke  "where I ran his D.C. office."  (Here's the link - she makes this claim at about 54 seconds.)

Wait?  She wasn't just an analyst who did that laundry list above but ALSO ran the office? 

Impressive, no? But if it's so impressive, why not add it to her resume at her campaign website?

Well, maybe because she was hired, as a temporary intern, and worked in Governor Locke's office for just 3 months from June to August 1998.  

Her status, according to state HR records, was "temporary paid intern", not "legislative analyst." It's a rather huge leap to go from a short-term intern to almost a year as a "federal legislative analyst." 

Have a Great (and safe) Halloween

Sadly, no Halloween for me this year - going to be at a 3-hour class in the evening.  Hard to think about missing all those little faces (although I never get more than 25 kids in an evening).

Remember parents - do check that candy.  It's important to make sure there's nothing bad in there (like candy YOU really like).   Do your kids keep it forever or eat it all in one weekend? (My guys could nurse a bag for months).

Here's beautiful Halloween photo to send you and your kids out the door (from I Acknowledge That Beauty Exists)

Tetris pumpkin!

Pumpkin mania in NYC!

Garfield Parents or Students: Want to Talk about the Hazing Incident?

Contact me at sss.westbrook@gmail.com.  Anything you might wish to say could be said anonymously but contact me first.

Thanks.

APP Advisory Committee Feedback to Board/Banda on Growth Boundaries

From the APP Advisory Committee (bold mine), Tuesday, October 29, 1013:

Dear Superintendent Banda and Board Directors,

Each version of the Growth Boundaries plan presented to the public has contained proposals that will dramatically affect the Accelerated Progress Program. Since the release of the first version of the plan on September 18, the APP Advisory Committee (APP AC) has collected feedback from parents and community members. On October 24, the APP AC held a meeting specifically designed to gather input; the feedback from that meeting is provided in the attached document.

Based on our review of the multiple Growth Boundaries plans, reflection on the plan in light of the Guiding Principles for APP (also attached) and input gathered from APP stakeholders across the District, the APP AC believes that:
  • This plan does not demonstrate a long-term vision for Highly Capable Learners.
  • Program integrity is paramount, and we believe the District plan places APP program integrity at great risk.
  • Because this process is rushed, because the plan lacks long-term vision, because the plan will create inequity in how APP is delivered, and because this plan preempts the work of the Identification and Service Delivery Model Task Forces, we recommend that all decisions concerning APP should be tabled for 2014.
If the District feels it must move forward at this time, then the Committee strenuously objects to:
  • Optional pathways because they will not have an adequate cohort size.
  • Any 6th grade roll ups because they will not provide a comprehensive middle school experience.
  • Too much growth too quickly. Expanding from six sites to thirteen sites will endanger fidelity of curriculum, professional development and collaboration, and cohort size.
  • Site placement based solely on capacity issues. Many of the sites proposed for APP placement are directly contrary to the idea that APP should be placed where there are welcoming communities and supportive leadership, with principals and teachers committed to the academic needs of APP students, as recommended in the District's Audit of APP.
Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to working with the District on developing a plan for the future success of APP and our highly capable students.

Sincerely,

The APP Advisory Committee

End of letter

I will note that on THIS thread, please only comment about what is being discussed here.  We are not going to have yet another argument about whether this program should exist.

Pinehurst Hearing

I am very disappointed to have miss the Pinehurst public hearing last night.  

Did anyone attend and could you let us know what was said?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seattle Educators Honored

From SPS Communications:

KCTS 9 announced that Kristen Bailey Fogarty is a winner of the 2013 Annual Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Education. Bailey-Fogarty, a reading intervention teacher at Eckstein Middle School, was one of nine educators across the state honored for making a positive difference in Washington state education from early childhood through high school.

From Seattle Magazine:

Among their picks for most Influential People for 2013 were (number one: Macklemore, yay!) and Garfield teachers  Jesse Hagopian and Mallory Clarke for their efforts around the MAP boycott.

The Real Issue at Horace Mann

Let me begin by setting a foundation. EVERYONE agrees that African-American students have been mis-educated by Seattle Public Schools and by public school districts across the nation. Black students have been presented with inadequate and inappropriate academic opportunities, they have been denied equitable access to programs and services, they have been disproportionately disciplined and disproportionately referred to Special Education. The outcomes have been academic under-performance, the "school to prison pipeline", and the continued economic and political disenfranchisement of a significant portion of our nation's people. It has been a tragic shame. It has been happening since the start and it is continuing. It is an ongoing emergency that urgently demands a response.

How the Voting Going at Your House?

Last I read, King County Elections has only about 10% of the ballots back and, in an off year, may only get 30% back, so naturally, every vote counts. 

It counts even more for School Board elections as the number of people who actually vote for School Board candidates is even smaller than say, for Mayor. 

Proud to say, our household has cast four solid votes for Sue Peters in District IV.

Tuesday Open Thread

When the Silas Potter incident was exposed, naturally I was following it very closely.  But when Potter took a plea, I was less interested and so forgot that one of his co-conspirators was going to trial.  According to the Times Potter and David Johnson are turning on each other.    Mr. Johnson is on trial for 42 counts of theft.

What is slightly amusing is that Potter testified that he forged Johnson's signature:

On the stand, Potter testified that he occasionally forged Johnson’s name on contracts. He said that made it hard for him to say definitely whether it was he, or Johnson, who signed certain documents admitted into evidence.

Well, that ought to make dropping some of those 42 counts easy for Johnson's lawyer if no one knows who signed the contracts.  

It looks like each could receive between 4-5 years in prison.

On a happier note, Diane Ravitch will be on The Daily Show tomorrow - Wednesday, the 30th.  I'm going to love watching that. 

What's on your mind? 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Real Kindergarten worksheet shows we're preparing youngest to be great test takers, not learners. (from BadAssTeachers).  When I was a student, I remember learning this...in high school.



Embedded image permalink

Operations Committee Meeting

Will have a more full report later but there is one new item to the agenda (but sadly, no handout):

Columbia Annex and Mann Portable Lease Agreements Resolution

This should be interesting.  

Also quite the discussion about students who bring/show weapons at school and how they should be treated.  There is an RCW around this (one year required suspension for a firearm) and they are trying to proceed from there.  There is both a School Board policy and Superintendent procedure around this issue.

Update:

As I said in the first post, a lot of talk around weapons brought to school by students.  I found this a baffling discussion but it has to do with the concern around suspended students and what happens to their education.  Director DeBell drily pointed out that if a student brings a firearm to school, he probably is going to be more concerned about the other students (and staff) and their safety.

The issue also is that for students who get suspended (for all reasons), the need to continue their academics and the budgetary issues of providing that to them.  Interestingly, Pat Sander (who has had many roles at SPS but I believe her current one is Interim Executive Director, Coordinated Health Services) told the Committee that the number of students suspended over the last three years has decreased by 600 even as the district enrollment has gone up.  She is going to send me that data.

There was some uneasy tension about whether the Board should even be questioning this as it is a Superintendent procedure around a Board policy.  Chairman Peaslee said that she felt there needed to be alignment between the two and asked if this was okay.  There was a long silence before legal counsel, Ron English, said it was an accurate statement  - as a general rule the Superintendent should listen to Board input - but that the Superintendent HAD been hired to be the CEO.

There was quite a long discussion about student data privacy (that I found less than complete and depressing ) but I will write a separate thread on that.

Now to the Columbia Annex and Mann Portable Lease Agreements.

Now I know what Pegi McEvoy looks like and sounds like but I truly did not recognize the person who was addressing this issue as Pegi.  She really left out a lot and hedged and bobbed and weaved.

More Falling Ed Reform Dominoes (This Time in LA) - What Could it Mean for Seattle?

Los Angeles Superintendent John Deasy told his district's top leadership that he would be leaving in a few months.  He came from the Gates Foundation and is yet another Broad superintendent to get exited or who left a job.  He has been on the job since 2011. 

Into this issue wades Robin Lake of the Center on Reinventing Public Education (basically a local think-tank for ed reform).  She lauds Deasy for leaving "a comfortable job at the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation."  Then she goes all in:

In nearly any other sector, a man like Deasy—who is able to articulate a strong vision of change and pursue it relentlessly—would be able to get people to follow him and accomplish most anything. But this was LAUSD, where for decades strong leaders were eaten alive by the politics of race and unions and poverty and rampant district dysfunction. 

Note that ed reform jargon: dysfunction (again), politics of race and unions and poverty. 

Then she explains what  School Board should do:

But more than anything, it was impossible to make challenging policy decisions and maintain the support of LAUSD school board members, who—as in other cities—are influenced by community politics and stakeholder interests, rather than acting like they should, as a governing body that oversees a long-term civic vision and strategic plan.  

First of all, that civic vision INCLUDES the public ("the stakeholders") - parents who invest their children's academic lives in the district AND the taxpayers.  So sorry that democracy is a bother and that parents and taxpayers are to vote and then sit down and shut up. 

Urban districts are so large and out-of-control that special dispensation should be given to urban superintendents?  Because that's what I'm hearing here.  

Again, she goes after the school board:

If you are honest with yourself (and older than 20), you may find yourself believing that if a leader like John Deasy can’t make real progress, the urban superintendency truly is an impossible job. We need to stop relying on heroism and instead start dismantling special interest-captured school boards and other governance structures that get in the way of school improvement for urban students. We need civic leaders to commit to a long-term vision of institutional change that will weather the leadership shift of the moment. 

And then she goes for the big ask:

What if we could go back and reprogram the game so that Deasy didn’t have an elected board? What if he’d decided to use his political capital during the mayor’s terms to turn 200 of LAUSD’s worst schools over to the city’s highest-performing charter organizations, so that his gains would be hard to reverse? What else could he have done differently to fundamentally change the trajectory of the district? 

Get rid of elected oversight.

In one fell swoop, turn 200 schools over to "highest-performing" charters?  How does she know that those high-performing ones have worked with what are probably the students with more challenges?  More poverty?  More children of color?  

Beware, because if this is the talk for LA, what are these ed reformers who live in Seattle thinking for our district.  This is very precisely why we need Sue Peters and not Suzanne Dale Estey on the Seattle School Board.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Seattle School Board and So-Called "Dysfunction"

Following up on my analysis/thoughts on the Peters/Dale Estey race in District IV, I had promised a thread on this issue of so-called School Board "dysfunction."

As I have pointed out, in the Board evaluation, not a SINGLE member of the Board called the Board dysfunctional.  One Board member said if they didn't trust each other more, they would become "the poster child for a dysfunctional Board."  That's far from saying that they are.  (One senior staff member did call them dysfunctional.)

Now if you read the whole evaluation, you can see there are issues.  No denying that.  BUT, what the Times and Dale Estey and all these people leave out are all the pages of comments - by both the Board and senior management - about the good things said about the Board as people and as Board members.

Also, as previous reported, the Board voted in unison or 6-1 about 98% of the time.  That's not a dysfunctional Board.  

This lack of balance in the election narrative is troubling but, of course in politics, that seems to be the way.  Telling a complete story?  Omitting details that would provide context?  Not so useful if you want to win. And Dale Estey wants to win.

As I said in a previous thread, I found in Board minutes from July 1986, the resignation remarks of Director Linda Harris.  It might be good to consider them in terms of this belief that the current Board is "dysfunctional."

I believe Board members should be paid.  This is a corporation of almost $190M run by seven volunteers with varying degrees of available time. Toronto, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and NYC pay their Board members between $8k-30k a year.

I find the time commitment needed to be a responsible Board member is more than my schedule can absorb.  I asked 15-20 qualified people I know to nominate themselves for my position.  To a person, they have said that they just do not have the time and cannot make the financial sacrifice to be Board members.

Before I leave, I want to say publicly that this is a good Board.  We aren't the feuding, fighting, backbiting group I often see depicted in the press.  This is a caring, committed group of citizens who care deeply about the education of our children and I am going to miss them all.

Anyone who says that serving on a school board is all smooth sailing has probably been part of a group of rubber-stampers who act completely in lockstep and never have any deep discussions or apparently listen to those they serve.

Thinking people know that people of good faith do have disagreements but that each person on the Board was elected by voters in their own right.

Thinking people know that it is good to have a variety of backgrounds and voices on the Board to represent the diversity of our city.

Thinking people know that for any group, compromise and consensus is the order of the day, not group-think.

Seattle Schools This Week

 Updated with Pinehurst news

Monday, October 28th
Operations Committee meeting from 4-6 p.m.  Agenda.   It includes the policies on weapons prohibition for both students and adults/visitors, data sharing (clarification on opting out procedures) and discussion of the green resolution impact on policies and procedures.  Pegi McEvoy will also report on transportation service standards.

SPED PTA meeting at 7pm at JSCEE.  Tracy Libros of Enrollment Planning as well as Sped Director Zakiyyah McWilliams will be there.  Everyone is welcome.  

Tuesday, October 29th
Performing and Visual Arts College Fair from 7-9 p.m.  List of colleges/programs at this fair.  This is not a district event but sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Final Hearing for Pinehurst K-8 from 7-8 p.m. at the Pinehurst building.   Apparently, Thornton Creek principal, John Miner, will be there to speak on the feasibility of Pinehurst co-locating with their program.

Wednesday, October 30th
Two-hour early dismissal.

Friday, November 1
Last day for nominations to the Positive Climate and Discipline Advisory Committee to the Superintendent. 

There are no Director Community Meetings this week.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

School Board Race Analysis and Thoughts

In some ways, it's been a disappointing School Board election season.  With no challenger for Betty Patu and no real challenger for Stephan Blanford, neither have really been heard from.  For whatever reason, more forums have only featured Suzanne Dale Estey and Sue Peters.  This is something of a disservice to voters because, while I like Betty Patu, I think anyone running to retain their seat should be questioned.  Ditto on any new candidate like Blanford.

But to the marquee race that is Peters versus Dale Estey.  

Money:
Dale Estey's own campaign has raised a little over $124k (spent $70k).
Peters' campaign has raised  just under $31k (spent $13k).
PAC for Dale Estey's campaign (Great Seattle Schools) - $102k (spent $52k).
Blanford's campaign has raised just under $31k (spent $22k).

So Dale Estey's supporters have raised about $226k.  There has NEVER been that kind of money raised before in the history of Seattle School Board elections.

An interesting comparison is the number of high-end donors.

Dale Estey - 25 people or PACS (including Eli Lilly of Indianpolis) giving $900 (some twice).   That about $22,000 right there.
Newest contributors - again, former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer and his wife and Bill Gates, Sr. and companies like Eli Lilly (for the second time) and Vulcan.  That's some kind of firepower for a Seattle School Board race.
 
As well, Dale Estey has about 150 people who gave between just under $900-100.  Most of that is in the $750-400 range which is very big number of upper-end donors (keeping in mind that campaign rates are $900 per election, for the primary and the general).  Ask anyone who is running a current candidate campaign if they have that kind of percentage of donors in the high end range.  I'd bet the answer is no.

Dale Estey said at the Maple Leaf event that there was nothing wrong with taking money from businesses and that there were lots of small business owners out there.  Yes, but that's not reflected in her donor list.

Peters - six people gave $900 and 45 people gave under $900-$100, most of those in the $100 range.

One final word on Dale Estey's money - she wants more.  Her campaign claims they need another $20k to mail flyers.  Folks, I ran a political campaign and believe me, her campaign has more than enough money to send flyers to every voter in the city.  No, I think the money is needed because they want to do tv ads (like Peter Maier did last time) but I believe they hope to have enough money for either one of the three big networks and in primetime.

Seattle School District Archives

Did you know the district has an extensive archive (complete with a trained archivist)?  They do and it's a valuable resource.  They have all manner of memorabilia - bound volumes of School Board minutes, uniforms, yearbooks, letters to the School Board, newspaper clippings - you name it. 

Archivist Aaren Purcell would be more than glad to look at what any school, group or individual has to offer the archive.  I asked her about limits and she said, "I'll look at anything."  She recently received boxes of materials from Ingraham that had been sitting in some closet for years.   I myself helped to organize the archives at Roosevelt High and they have some pretty amazing artifacts.

I put out this information for a two-fold reason.  One is that rarely are these items being stored properly at schools and will deteriorate much more quickly if stored improperly.  Two, you have no idea how important any one item might be historically. Even though the district has a great dedicated space for its archive, many schools keep their own artifacts.  I don't think keeping yearbooks is a bad idea for most schools but other items should be in the safest place possible and I think that is the district's archives.  If you know of items in some closet at your school, suggest they be sent to the district's archives.

Keep in mind that nothing that is generated by the PTA can be donated without the PTA's permission (and that might have to come at a state level).  When my sons were at Whittier, they had PTA minutes back to 1915 that were amazing and yet were being stored at the back of a file cabinet.  I often wonder what happened to them.

One of the fascinating items that Aaren showed me was the file on Halloween.  Did you know in the early '50s they were quite considered about Halloween and what young people were doing?  They had the Inter-High Student Council working on it.

From a letter in 1957 from Superintendent E.W. Campbell:
"You are aware also that there is evidence of a growing trend towards irresponsibility and lawlessness among some of our young people today."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mann Building - Not Closed

I'm thinking it was a lot of smoke and mirrors on the part of BOTH the "tenants" and the district, these so-called negotiations. 

Because that building is wide open, being used in multiple areas, has advertised activities and classes and well, just doesn't look like a building that is shut down in preparation for being renovated.   I checked and I took photos.  Not closed by any stretch of the imagination.

I'm thinking it was a lot of smoke and mirrors on the part of BOTH the "tenants" and the district.

I've asked and asked the district staff about this and read various Facebook pages and webpages and my conclusion is that there is much more going on here than anyone wants to admit.  When you see people make an "enemies" list that includes the district, the City, and the contractor who is to do the renovation, it makes you wonder.

I have asked but have not seen any kind of temporary lease agreement (but now, it's onto public disclosure).  What seems to be the case - outwardly - is that the district is allowing whoever to stay in the building - probably for free - until the district finds them another space (I read Columbia Annex).

I'm done with asking the Superintendent, the staff and the Board about this.  Clearly, no one is in charge.

Note to Pinehurst; hunker down and refuse to leave.  It seems to work well for others.  

These facilities belong to ALL of us and the district needs to squeeze every penny they can out of every building that is rented or leased.   I believe when the district doesn't follow that, it is called "gifting of public funds."  

But I think the person to ask is the State Auditor.

Washington State Charter School Update

It appears that the Washington Charter Commission must have gotten a flurry of submissions because the final count is 28 letters of intent to apply to become a charter school.

(I spoke to Spokane School district - the only school district authorizer in the state - and they received three letters of intent.  They say they have one unused building in their district currently so that may be up for grabs among the three applicants, if they follow thru on applying.)

I would be surprised if half of the letters of intent applicants follow-thru, given the heavy lift that is the charter application.  So I'm guessing there will be about 16 applications for 8 charters.  

Newest entries to the Charter Commission:

Friday Open Thread

Friday, foggy Friday - be careful.  There has already been a major accident on I-5 South.

October enrollment numbers released.

We now have the adjusted October 1 enrollment data.
Enrollment grew by 1,146 students over last year, for a total enrollment of 51,010(181 lower than projected).


Changes since last year:


- 913 more K-5 students than last year, including:
   -1035 more students in grades 1-5
   -122 fewer kindergarten students - 

- 313 more middle school students
- 80 fewer high school students


This is all they have on the report but I'll see if there is more data available.


Community meeting with Director Patu at Cafe Vita tomorrow from 10 am from noon.


The Times is reporting that a Hale student, returning from a 3-day suspension, assaulted Principal Jill Hudson in the cafeteria on Thursday morning.  The student was arrested and cannot come back to Hale.  Ms. Hudson was not injured.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Seattle Council PTSA Steps into Growth Boundaries Discussion

 Update: I accidentally got the second-to-the-last paragraph of the letter to the Superintendent transcribed improperly.  I corrected it and it is the last paragraph in red in this thread.
End of update.

Quite the throwdown from the Seattle Council PTSA and good for them for stepping up (albeit a bit late).  It will be interesting to see the response from the district.  I note that this letter is not at their website so thank you to one of our great readers who forwarded it to me.  (Color emphasis mine.)

October 23, 2013
Dear PTA Presidents & Leaders,

Attached is a copy of the formal letter sent by the Seattle Council
PTSA to Superintendent Banda and the School Board regarding our
position on the Growth Boundary Change process.

We met with Superintendent Banda today, and we still believe that
providing parents a real opportunity
to participate in this process is the only way to ensure that the
proposed changes are both reasonable and equitable for all of our
schools. We stand by that position.

At the meeting today we proposed that Seattle Public Schools host
region area (NW, NE, SE, Central, WS) discussion meetings with the PTA
Leaders, other parent leaders, principles, and SPS Area Directors of
those regions BEFORE the November School Board vote. These discussion
meetings would [allow for questions and input and aim to] bring you up
to speed on the boundary process, issues, and how the district hopes
to address them. Additionally, we have asked that the board only
consider changes that are essential for capacity planning purposes for
2014-2015 school year. We believe this will allow both time to focus
on those issues and provide adequate time for collaboration on the
remaining recommendations.

We will work hard to try and make these happen, and we will keep you informed.

We also asked that the District explain their rationale for the
boundary changes that are proposed so that parents could understand
the reasoning. We also asked for transparency regarding the data that
supports the changes, and more clarity regarding when the various
changes would become effective.

Sincerely,
Katherine Schomer
President, Seattle Council PTSA

October 18, 2013
To: Superintendent Banda and Seattle Public Schools Board Members

West Seattle Blog's Advanced Learning Discussion

If you live in West Seattle and have thoughts on Advanced Learning in that area of the district, weigh in here.

Oh Times, How You Make Us Smile

It's true - when I want a smile or even a guffaw about Washington state public education, I go to the Times.  I can always be assured of some odd omission of facts, brevity of context or just a nudge to the ed reform side. 

And that's just their reporting.  Better to say little to nothing about their editorial writing which is generally shallow and uninformed. 

But now comes their Education Lab Blog (remember when they were advertising jobs for this)?  They are going to have no fewer than 5 reporters on this (so that's where Linda Shaw went) and an intern(?) manning their blog "to help foster constructive dialogue online and in-person."  Sounds a lot like what LEV used to do when they had blog (now gone) so you better be on your best behavior and play nice at the Times or they won't print your thoughts.

(There's a Solutions Journalism Network they are to be affiliated with and their definitions about "reporting" are pretty funny.  So in case all you journalists missed Journalism 101, it's a handy guide.)

I look forward to meeting them all at various events but for our own district, it's usually me, Charlie and the other usual suspects.  (And, of course, when it's election season, you'll see the School Board candidates, taking notes and looking concerned.  I note that I believe Suzanne Dale Estey has made it to about five School Board meetings which is one more than she got to during her stellar service during her senior year in high school that she constantly touts.  Yup, I looked it up.)

Naturally, most of this is funded largely by...the Gates Foundation.  They say it's because it's hard to fulfill their "public service role" with advertising revenue dropping.  (And, they're even using their grant dollars for a photographer... really.)  Hilariously, they say this:

Parent Trigger? Not So Much



Tonight Jeb's foundation and Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst group hosted a showing of the pro-parent trigger propaganda movie "We the Parents" in Jacksonville. Apparently, these are the Florida parents who support parent trigger:
FLORIDA

from Susan Smith

Last Night Jeb Bush's foundation and Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst group hosted a showing of the pro-parent trigger propaganda movie "We the Parents" in Jacksonville. Apparently, these are the Florida parents who support parent trigger.


From Fund Education Now!, the story of the parent
trigger law in Florida in 2012:

We are here today to go on record: Not one legitimate Florida Parent Group has asked for this Parent Trigger/Parent Empowerment legislation. We do not support this corporate empowerment bill that uses a parent's love to "pull the trigger" and pass all that they hold dear into the hands of a for-profit corporation eager to peel off a chunk of every child's per pupil funding dollars for themselves. We will not be silent while our legislators use our money to fund three separate, unequal and unfair systems of education. We do not support laws that benefit 10% of the schools while the other 90% suffer.

This is real. This has gone too far. Florida Public Education is a process not a product. This asset was created for and funded by the people of this state. It belongs to us. We oppose the Parent Empowerment Act and its bad-faith intentions to privatize our public schools.

And indeed, in Washington State not one legitimate parent group asked for the conversion charter - the ultimate trigger law in the country - and yet here we are.  I believe that even if 1240 does not get overturned, the court will throw out the conversion portion. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Your Kid Going to Roosevelt in the Next 3-5 Years?

It's going to be a very tough time in the neighborhood.  There is no way it will not possibly affect Roosevelt and its community.

I just attended a community meeting at Roosevelt High School about the building of the light rail station that will be directly west of the school.

First, as a resident, it is definitely NOT going to be fun.  In fact, despite promises about mitigation, I (and many at the meeting) believe it is going to be a traffic nightmare.  Despite, several good suggestions about trying to help the traffic situation, we were told "we'll see how it goes" and "Ask SDOT."  Not so reassuring.

The real down and dirty work starts in late spring/early summer 2014.  It will continue until the station finally opens in 2021.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Do You Want the Mayor to Take Control of Seattle Schools?

As some of you may have heard, there was polling done on the upcoming elections by Strategies 360.  

They state:  None of the firm's clients paid for the survey, and Strategies 360 is supporting neither client.   (Yes, but someone thought up those questions and I can guarantee it wasn't all Strategies 360.)

 The poll was 400 likely voters, 78% white, skewed to the north and highly educated.  Nineteen percent have children in public schools while 11% have children in other schools.

Sad to say but in this poll, the School Board ranks only above "Republicans in Congress" and below Obama, Inslee, Democrats in Congress, Ed Murray, the City Council, and Mayor Mike McGinn.  The totals were favorable-37%, unfavorable, 32%, ouch.

They asked a number of interesting questions about Seattle Schools, the School Board and the role of the Mayor.  

They asked about which of the following items "will be most important to you in deciding who to vote for?" for Mayor of Seattle.  (They could pick more than one.)  Public education tied at number one with economy and jobs. 

6. How closely would you say you are following the upcoming elections for mayor of Seattle, school board,and city council?
(READ LIST)
Extremely closely.................................................14%
Fairly closely..........................................................47
Not too closely.......................................................39
Or are you not following these elections at all?......TERMINATE


35. For this next question, try not to guess. If you don’t know the answer, just say so and we’ll move on.To the best of your knowledge, which of the following appoints the superintendent of Seattle Public Schools?
Is it (ROTATE), , , or none of these?
The school board...................................................38%
The mayor.............................................................  4
The city council..................................................... 4
None of these........................................................  9

DK/NA/REFUSED...............................................19

Washington State Charter School Letters of Intent Filed

The deadline for letters of intent to file a charter school proposal in Washington State was 5 p.m. today.  Checking the Charter Commission website, I count 15 but Seattle Weekly is reporting 24 (I suspect SW called and asked and that the Charter Commission just doesn't have all of them up yet).

Those 24 do NOT include whatever letters of intent that Spokane School District received as it is the only school district in the state to be a charter school authorizer.

All full applications must be in on November 22nd.

Seattle Weekly had a good story on Puget Sound hopefuls who are getting a boost via the Washington State Charter Schools Association (and, of course, the money coming from the Gates Foundation).  Three different women each received $100k for their charter school planning.

A second charter group out of California, Summit Public Schools that runs high schools, has filed (joining Green Dot).

The newest entries are signalled by a *.
One thing I'll need to clear up with the Charter Commission.  It looks like applicants are using the box for "conversion" on the letter of intent to explain a conversion from private to public.  That's NOT what that means in the law so it is confusing.

Update to the list:
Quantum Leap Educational Foundation (PDF) - K-12 (they put down Seattle/Puget Sound for area)
The Village Academy (PDF) - to be at JBLM, preK-8 (I believe this is a military wife that I saw on the news.)

I looked through all the letters - after checking, I'm getting a vibe off one that may indicate a Gulen charter (the largest charter chain in the country).  Not good. 

Tuesday Open Thread

For your calendar, SPED PTSA General Meeting on Monday, October 28th from 7-9 pm at JSCEE. Tracy Libros will be coming to answer questions about boundaries and SPED.  There will be an update on C-CAP as well.

What's on your mind?

Owners of MLK, Jr. Building Cited in State Audit

The Times is reporting that First A.M.E. Church operated a daycare at Seattle Central Community College - rent-free - for 16 years.  (Yes, I know - how is that possible?)  The daycare was allowed to do this by a program at SCCC called Seattle Vocational Institute whose students' children were to have first-in enrollment.  The daycare ran from Sep. 1997 to June 2013.

From the Times:

First A.M.E., which closed the daycare in June, paid no rent to the Institute - a value the school estimates would have exceeded $650k over 16 years.  It also paid no utilities or janitorial costs, worth an additional $158k or so.  SCCC president, Pual Killpatrick, said the college had identified this problem contract and that the church was notified in Jne they would need to vacate.  The church did end up paying for utilities and janitorial services from Sep. 2012 to June 2013.

Troy Niemeyer, the auditor's whistle-blower manager, stated, "It amounts to the state giving money away to a nonprofit."  

Interestingly, the Institute's executive dean who signed the contract 16 years ago, is now retired on serves on the First A.M.E. board.

The Times mentions that the church now owns the MLK, Jr. building, having purchased it in 2010 from the district for  $2.4M.

This story ties in a bit with the Mann building issue.

One, because there were multiple groups using the Mann building without paying the district rent or paying for services.  Dollars were lost when the district was not paid. 

Two, because the MLK, Jr. building, according to the last report given to the Board, is not full and so it begs the question of why the groups who were in the Mann building don't want to use a community building in the same area.  (First A.M.E. - as part of the condition of the sale - has to give a report to the district so the district can make sure that the building is indeed accessible and low-cost to community groups.)



Monday, October 21, 2013

New School Shooting - This Time in Nevada, Two Dead

From CNN:

A student opening fire with a handgun he took from his parents. Screaming students running for cover. A teacher, trying to help, shot dead. Two students wounded.

As authorities investigated, details were still trickling out hours after a deadly shooting Monday at a Nevada middle school.

An official used one word to describe the scene at Sparks Middle School: chaos.

The shooter used a handgun taken from his parents, according to a federal law enforcement source who was briefed on the situation. The shooter then used the handgun to shoot and kill himself, the source told CNN's Evan Perez.

The victim who was killed was math teacher, Michael Landsberry, who had served in the military, including in Afghanistan.

And once again, a teacher, Mr. Landsberry, put himself between students and a gunman.  He saved lives.

Please, remember that tomorrow when your children go off to school.   The staff in your child's building will put themselves between your child and a bullet.

From the FBI, an active shooter guide card.  I see a couple of suggestions that I have given my sons on the list.  Overall, pretty chilling.

Odds and Ends

Called "Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks", a very interesting map of income/rent across the U.S.  Zeroing down to Seattle, you can clearly see the delineation of income in our city.

You may have heard that there is work going on around the city for new low-power FM stations for different regions.  One might be coming out of Ballard High via science teacher, Eric Muhs,  (a la the mighty C89.5FM at Nathan Hale High).

At one school in NYC, for children K-2, 80% of the parents opted out of testing, effectively shutting it down.  From the New York Daily News:

Students at the 36 “early education” schools are too young to take the regular state reading and math exams, so the littlest kids are sitting down for different tests

As the Daily News reported earlier this month, such exams, given to kids as young as 4, require students to fill in bubbles to show their answers.

In one of the more "let's just stir the pot" columns from Education Week, teacher and write Anthony Cody reflects on the Bridging Differences' blog and the argument from Michael Petrilli about how to close the achievement gap.   Mr. Cody entitles the column, "Social Darwinism Resurrected for the New Gilded Age."

He says this because Mr. Petrilli's column is called, "The Especially Deserving Poor."

The Board is Afraid of Advanced Learning

Have you noticed that just about any time Melissa or I write something about APP or Spectrum or advanced learning in almost any way two things happen: the thread gets about a hundred comments and the comments get nasty.

Have you noticed that school board candidates - like all other politicians - prefer to speak in vague platitudes and evade any discussion of specifics? It's a funny thing, but in their pursuit of a decision-making job they appear incapable of making any decisions at all. That's because having positions on any issue will alienate the people who have the opposing view. To prevent alienating anyone, they don't espouse any position at all. Sure they will assert their strong stance in support of motherhood, the flag, and apple pie, but the more contentious and heated the issue, the less likely they will take a stand on it.

So we shouldn't be surprised that the School Board would prefer not to take a position on advanced learning which, according to the evidence presented by this blog, is the most heated and most contentious of all district issues.

We shouldn't be surprised that they don't want to express a view on advanced learning but that's their job. The time to weasel is when they are candidates, not when they have been elected to govern.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

UW Event on Student Testing

Also next week on Tuesday, October 29th at Kane Hall on the UW campus at 7:00 pm- 9 pm Accountability at a Crossroads: Using Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teacher Effectiveness

A panel of leading educators at the forefront of testing and teacher evaluation will share their differing perspectives on the questions:
  • Is this a sound/effective policy? 
  • What is to be achieved, if anything, in holding teachers accountable for their students’ test scores? 
  • What tests should be used? 
  • What’s ultimately at risk for the students, the teachers, the community?
PANELISTS
DR. JOE WILLHOFT – Executive Director, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium*
JUSTIN FOX-BAILEY – Teacher, Snohomish School District; Member, WEA Executive Committee
CHRIS KORSMO – Executive Director, League of Education Voters
MICHAELA MILLER – Director, State Policy and Outreach, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards

Moderator - Brian Jeffries, State Assessment Program Director at Data Recognition Corporation.  DRC is a contractor to OSPI to provide operations support for the MSP, HSPE and EOC assessments in science and math.

This event is sponsored by the Master's in Education Policy at the College of Education, UW.

*This is the group that Washington state belongs to in order to develop the Common Core Assessments (the other group is PARCC).  

I give a lot of pause in offering this up to you - I'm not sure what kind of love-fest for Common Core this might be but it could be interesting.  

Seattle School Board Races: Views from Candidates and Others

Here's a link to the SE Chamber of Commerce event in early October.  Note: the lighting was harsh and does not flatter either candidate.  The video is also a little low. The first question seems to have gotten cut off - it was something to the effect of how many SE schools each candidate has visited.

Also, the City Inside/Out show had a panel interview about Seattle schools and the races.  The panel included Lynne Varner of the Times, President Kay Smith-Blum, Tre Maxie of Powerful Schools and Phil Gore, the head of Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA).

Notable quotes from the City Inside/Out show:

- Smith-Blum noted that the Board evaluation NEVER said that the Board called itself "dysfunctional."  She said there were some trust issues but that they had voted 98% in unison or near unison.
- Mr. Gore chimed in that 4-3 votes can be a sign of problems but that the Seattle School Board's voting record doesn't show that happening much.
- Mr. Maxie talked about more community partnerships with the district and referenced Africatown which kind of surprised me given how little is known about the partnership.
- Varner said something that caught my attention.  She said that Blanchard was "neither for or against charter schools" and that "nothing should be off-limits."  But she complains in the Times that the Board doesn't have focus.  Confusing.  She also said the district should be able to hire "a great TFA teacher" without explaining that you have to be in partnership WITH TFA to hire any.
- it was something of a duel between Smith-Blum (who supports Sue Peters) and Varner (who supports Dale Estey).  I did note that Varner said Dale Estey did have the "temperament" to be on the Board.
- Mr. Gore contrasted the candidates saying Peters seemed to be connected to parents and Dale Estey to Olympia and corporations (but he made no judgments on which would be better).
- Mr. Gore also made a thoughtful statement about how Board directors are expected to represent voters while building a cohert/cohesive school system and how those two things don't always go together.
- Mr. Maxie said something quite curious about the capacity issues.  "The district has done a reasonable job on trying to project enrollment and adjust spaces accordingly."  I'm not sure if Mr. Maxie has missed much of the last couple of years in SPS but the district did just the opposite.

Also to note, I-1240 promoters, Lisa Macfarlane and Tim Ceis have both given in-kind contributions to the PAC, Great Seattle Schools, created for Dale Estey.  Mr. Ceis gave $2500 via his own group, CBE Strategic, and Ms. Macfarlane gave $1,450 individually.


Seattle Schools This Week

Wednesday, October 23
Work Session: Strategic Plan Performance Measures from 4-5:30 p.m.  No agenda available.

Work Session:Distribution Services from 5:30-6:30 p.m. (hard stop at 6:30 pm as they have an Executive Session at 6:30 p.m.)  Agenda

Thursday, October 24th
Road Map to College event from 3-6 pm at Chief Sealth Int'l High School

District IV School Board candidate forum at Lawton at 6:45 p.m., featuring Suzanne Dale Estey and Sue Peters.

Saturday, October 26th
Community Meeting with Director Patu from 10 am to noon at Cafe Vita.

iCollege event with Washington State University faculty, staff and alumni, from 10:30 am- 1:30 pm. at Seattle City Hall.

No registration needed, free lunch for the first 300 students who show up.  Looks like a great opportunity to learn about WSU and get help with the college application process with multiple workshops. 

They are raffling off a free iPad mini as well. 

Also to note on your calendar:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Local/State Education News Updates

Two Special Education stories of note.
First, the Times reports that the State will accept SPS's Special Ed plan with a few extra conditions.  The concern seems to be that the staffing plan seems more worried about teachers's needs than meeting student needs.  The State also wants the district to spend more federal dollars on consultants to help to shape/improve services. 

Also, the AP is reporting that Bainbridge School District has to pay the family of a student with Asperger's who was bullied $300,000 in damages.  The lawsuit started in 2010 when the student was then 14 and at Bainbridge High School.  The parents had gone so far as to get a restraining order against four male students as well as contacting the Bainbridge Island police.   The students were found guilty of criminal conduct relating to their actions towards the victim.

Another STEM school with an aviation twist has opened in south Seattle.  The school, Raisbeck Aviation High School opens Thursday in its new building.   The story is here at the Times

I like this idea because it is a fully-fleshed out STEM school with many, many links to businesses like Boeing, Alaska Airlines and Raisbeck Engineering who will provide mentors, internships, etc.  Some students are from Highline, others from Seattle and around the Puget Sound.  There is a competitive admissions process.  It is run through Highline Schools.

Update from the Garfield hazing incident; nine students have been suspended for their participation in it.  Six students received five to nine days and are back at school.  Another student was suspendd for 15 days and two other received a 20-day suspension.  There had been 11 students but two were found to be misidentified and their records are cleared.  

All those suspended are apparently appealing their suspensions.   All those suspended will not be allowed to attend school dances this year including the senior prom. 

Even though the deadline for letters of intent for charter applicants are not due until Tuesday, October 22nd, there are some already up at the Charter Commission website (thanks to reader Rufus X for this info).  Not very impressive.  I think might be good ideas but if this is what passes for a letter of intent, hard to say what the actual application will look like.

There are:

Saturday Director Community Meetings

I attended Director Martin-Morris' this morning and yes, it was all growth boundaries.  It was an interesting discussion because it was so specific in some cases (and rightly so - you look at the maps and the lines and have to wonder) and broader in others.  I was pleasantly surprised at some of what Director Martin-Morris said (and his tone).  Unfortunately, I can't recap right (no time) but I will try to do so soon.

But I put this up as an open thread in case anyone went to Director DeBell's community meeting and would like to report back.

Update: Meeting Minutes

There were about 15 people there, all impatient to talk with Harium.

Issues discussed:

Friday, October 18, 2013

"Could a Wealthy Few Decide Seattle's School Board Races?"

That's not my title - that's KUOW's for Ann Dornfeld very good piece on the one contested school board race - Sue Peters and Suzanne Dale Estey in District IV.

Seattle school board candidate Suzanne Dale Estey and her supporters are poised to raise more money than any other school board candidate in state history – even though a Washington state law passed last year put a cap on campaign contributions in school board races.

There’s a catch: Although campaign contributions are capped, donors can give to political action committees that support the board candidates. That has raised questions about whether a handful of rich donors could sway the school board races this year.

How much money:

The Great Seattle Schools PAC is not the first in the state to fund school board races. But it is the most flush. Campaign finance records show that the PAC has brought in $100,405 so far. Almost all of the money raised came from just a few people, including retired Microsoft executive Chris Larson and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.

That spending is in addition to the $105,375 Dale Estey’s campaign has raised in direct contributions, compared with Peters' war chest of $28,289.

But Dornfeld goes beyond the numbers and puts out a big issue in public education today:

The spending highlights a fundamental conflict in public education today: Whether a wealthy few have too much influence on education policy, or whether they fund critical education reforms that help struggling students.

Charter News

The New York Times weighs in on the discussion going on during their mayoral race over charter schools.   They seem to lean towards them as good but they seem to have a negative for every positive.  The key seems to be oversight and accountability.  Not enough to make sure that the poor-performing ones are shut down quickly.  (And I recommend reading the comments - they do not lean towards charters.)

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that Moody's says charter schools are hurting urban public districts. 

Philadelphia is one of several urban public school districts where the rise of charter schools poses a threat to district finances, according to Moody’s, the credit rating agency. In 2003, the Philadelphia district spent 7.9 percent of its general fund on charters. By fiscal 2012, the schools ate up 23.7 percent of the fund.

“While the vast majority of traditional public districts are managing through the rise of charter schools without a negative credit impact, a small but growing number face financial stress due to the movement of students to charters,” a team of analysts write in a new Moody’s report.

Three factors are at play: demographic and financial shifts, difficulty adapting and state policies.
In Pennsylvania, they are overhauling their charter law...to get more accountability.

Seattle Schools Work Session on Growth Boundaries

From North End Mom:

Here is a link to the presentation from yesterday's Growth Boundaries work session.

There is a new staff proposal to "implement full grade assignment in year one." (see slide 24 and 25).

Basically, it is assigning JAMS and JAMS/Eckstein APP, grades 6, 7, and 8, to JAMS, in the JA building, beginning next fall. The APP kids living in the Eckstein SA would have the choice of going to Eckstein as GenEd or going to APP at JAMS.

JA K-8 is relocated to John Marshall, so no co-location with JAMS for the K-8.

Wilson Pacific would start up (grades 6, 7, and 8) in John Marshall 2016-17.

They give enrollment numbers for all the north middle schools, and it looks like the building utilization would be pretty good, if everyone does what they want them to do.

End of NE Mom post.  (Thanks!)

Here's what the agenda looked like:

Work Session: Growth Boundaries–Presentation

Discussion of major issues:
•T. T. Minor
•Washington Middle SchoolBoundary
•Accelerated Progress Program (APP)
•North End High School
•Pinehurst
•Cascade
•Capacity Management/Phase-In


If you attended, please weigh in on the discussion as I would love to hear what the directors had to say (and what questions they asked).  

Friday Open Thread

Reminder: two Director Community meetings tomorrow, Sat. the 19th - a good time to talk boundaries.
Director Martin-Morris - 9:30-11:30 am - Diva Espresso at Lake City Way
Director De Bell - 9:00-11:00 am - Caffe Appassionato  near Fisherman's Terminal

One FYI if your PTA or other non-profit needs help with digitizing records - there's a Data for Communities Program thru Captricity.  They have an on-going grant program to help organizations and projects with up to 10,000 pages of digitization.   One of their areas of focus is K-12 education.

And in the "Dumb, Dumb, Dumb" category of school punishments, this story came out this week. about a teenaged girl in the Boston area who got a call from a friend from a party who was too drunk to drive and needed a ride home. From CBS Boston:

Two weeks ago, Erin received a call from a friend at a party who was too drunk to drive. Erin drove to Boxford after work to pick up her friend. Moments after she arrived, the cops arrived too and busted several kids for underage possession of alcohol.

A North Andover High School honor student, Erin was cleared by police, who agreed she had not been drinking and was not in possession of alcohol. But Andover High told Erin she was in violation of the district’s zero tolerance policy against alcohol and drug use. In the middle of her senior year, Erin was demoted from captain of the volleyball team and told she would be suspended from playing for five games.

This school (and district) is sending the WRONG message about doing the right thing.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Who Won in Government Shutdown? Skateboarders and TFA

Politics makes strange bedfellows but there you are.

I am doing some tutoring at Ballard and I told two kids who are skateboarders about this and they said, "Sweet."  From the Wall Street Journal:

Where most people see ornate, neo-Classical federal buildings and sweeping stone plazas in this city, skaters see something else: opportunity, in the form of sturdy railings, low stone benches, ramps—ideal "obstacles" for skateboarding stunts. And now, after years of ducking the national park police that patrol these plazas, this week's closure of public buildings and easing of surveillance offered skaters hope of revisiting their favorite spots. It was, said one, "on."

But from the lighthearted to the downright wrong, it appears that TFA continues to be the darling of Congress.  From The Washington Post's The Answer Sheet:

Unobtrusively slipped into the debt deal that Congress passed late Wednesday night to reopen the federal government after 16 days and allow the United States to keep borrowing money to pay its bills is a provision about school reform that will make Teach For America very happy.

In language that does not give a hint about its real meaning, the deal extends by two years legislation that allows the phrase “highly qualified teachers” to include students still in teacher training programs — and Teach For America’s  recruits who get five weeks of summer training shortly after they have graduated from college, and are then placed in some of America’s neediest schools.

I urge you to go to the Washington Post story and register a comment.  One, because the Washington Post is pretty much the newspaper of record for stories about Congress and two, because this needs as much blowback as possible.   

What IS highly qualified really supposed to mean and who gets those teachers?

Odds and Ends

Parents beware - Facebook has changed its policy regarding minors and their pages.  From the New York Times:

Facebook has loosened its privacy rules for teenagers as a debate swirls over online threats to children from bullies and sexual predators. 

The move, announced on Wednesday, allows teenagers to post status updates, videos and images that can be seen by anyone, not just their friends or people who know their friends. 

They’re hitting kids from a neurological weak spot. Kids don’t have the same kind of impulse control that adults do,” said Emily Bazelon, a journalist and author of the book “Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.” 

Two stories from The Stranger on Suzanne Dale Estey.  One about the public disclosure e-mails and the other a story they did when Suzanne Dale Estey worked as a lobbyist for WaMu.  I was wondering when they would get to this and the last paragraph in the story says what we have all wondered; what does this big investment her wealthy supporters are putting into her campaign mean?  They got a good quote from her, too:

In our SECB meeting, when we asked her about her endorsements from the scandal-tinged Peter Maier and ineffective incumbent Michael DeBell, she told us: "Just because someone is supporting me doesn't mean I embrace all of their weaknesses."

Except that Peter Maier served on the Seattle School Board and was ousted precisely because of his "weaknesses" as a Board director.

Great story from Wired about a teacher in Mexico who changed the way he teaches...to great effect for his class.  More about the student-centered learning movement.


Where to go for Mann Building news

For continuing information on the situation at the Mann building, and the broader issue of the crisis of education for African-American students, interested readers can visit the More4Mann web site. There is a Twitter feed as well at @More4Mann.

Other news sources include Africatown Education and Innovation Center, and Creativity Not Control.

I don't know if we will report much on the ACIC or the Mann building going forward, so folks should rely on these other sources for news.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Stranger Endorses Peters, Blanford

The Stranger editorial board has come out with its endorsements for the General Election.  Here's what they had to say about the School Board races (note, this is The Stranger writing so do keep that in mind when reading if you don't normally read their prose):

Director District No. 4
Sue Peters
Dear god, it's school board time. Kill us. The Seattle School Board is the most brain-liquefying thing short of embalming fluid. No matter what interesting outsiders and concerned parents and magic space aliens we send to the school board, the board somehow absorbs them into a giant blob of uselessness and continues operating like the tone-deaf, institutionally racist, mathematically illiterate shit-stain it's been for years. Despite being fed up with that, and despite most of us believing that having children should be illegal anyway, we endorse in these races because children are technically our future, etc.
Here's what you need to know in this race: Sue Peters is a smart school-district activist and blogger who opposes the corporate education reform agenda (an agenda to build private charter schools with public money and standardize everything!) and is deeply skeptical of many status quo policies in the district, especially when it comes to moneyed interests that want to influence public schooling. She's supported by most other board members, the teachers union, and national education activist Diane Ravitch.
Opponent Suzanne Dale Estey claims to support many of the same policies, but she's backed by supporters who suggest a different agenda: Dale Estey raised four times as much money as Peters, from people including Microsoft CEO (and anti-income-tax dickwad) Steve Ballmer and developer Matt Griffin, and she is supported by a PAC that raised $76,000 to elect more corporate reformers to the board. Plus, she's endorsed by the sponsor of last year's charter schools measure. Block that crap. Vote for Peters.

Director District No. 5
Stephan Blanford
Stephan Blanford is just fine. He's deeply familiar with Seattle schools and has been a paid consultant for the district before. But he's supported by some of the same bums as Dale Estey, so why are we endorsing him over his opponent, LaCrese Green? Among other things, because we think Green is a bigoted piece of shit. She sent a letter last October to former school board member Cheryl Chow—who was dying of brain cancer and had recently come out of the closet—saying the fact that Chow was a "lesbian is troubling" and "it won't go well for you in the hereafter." Right, are we done here? Vote Blanford.

Parallel Discussion: HC Task Force #1, Student Identification

The current advanced learning task force has been charged with reviewing the systems and processes for qualifying students for Highly Capable services and Advanced Learning programs in Seattle Public Schools. The committee is supposed to work toward a shared approach for determining which students qualify for Highly Capable services and Advanced Learning programs that best benefits students. Although it is not stated anywhere in the charge to the task force, the members have been told that their goal is to increase representation in advanced learning programs by under-represented groups. It's unclear why this goal is not overtly stated in the charge document.

We should discuss it as well.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Seattle School Board Meeting - Wednesday, October 16th

A couple of quick updates:

- there are 25 people on the Public Testimony list; I see North Beach, Maple (6 people), Queen Anne Elementary, Montlake, Schmitz Park, Stevens, Fairmount Park and misc. "proposed growth boundaries."   There are 16 people on the waitlist.  I see a couple of different schools - B.F. Day, Madrona, High Point - and I would urge someone from Maple to cede a place to one of these people to allow as many schools as possible to speak.

- allow I note that there are "edits" to the attachments to the Growth Boundaries.  I took a quick look and one edit was to correct the date (they had October 6th instead of 16th) and a couple of corrections to the draft side.  I saw nothing major but check to see if you see any others.  They also shifted the maps to align with feeder patterns. 

If you are not planning to attend the Board meeting, do try to make the Maple Leaf Community Council Candidate and Issues Night which is also Wednesday evening.  It starts at 7 pm at Olympic View Elementary. 

Update: the candidates from District IV, Suzanne Dale Estey and Sue Peters, will be speaking from 7:10-7:20 at the Maple Leaf event.  There will also be discussions of all ballot measures and all Council positions.


One Way to Get Your Growth Boundaries Ideas to Directors

There are a LOT of concerns but ALSO a lot of good ideas out there about how to make many of the new issues arising from the "new" boundaries more palatable. 

Again, there is NO way to eliminate pain, no way to make everyone even just okay with these boundaries.  They are far too reaching to do that.

BUT, finding a way to spread the pain, share the burden and not leave just one group of kids (I'm looking at the 3rd grade APP kids at Lincoln who come from the Whitman area) out on a limb.

So I propose this:
If you just have a concern (but no real solution), then I'll take those from the thread where I asked for them.  I'll make a list and send it to the directors and explain this is what we are hearing here.

But, if you have an idea or solution, what I think would help is if each idea were laid out in a flowchart fashion so that Directors could see it in one fell swoop without a lot of explanation.  (Please add a paragraph or two of explanation before and after the chart, of course.)  Include an e-mail address in case someone has questions.

Could people do that?  Because I would be happy to get them all together and get it to as many directors as I may be able to see in person).  My e-mail address is
sss.westbrook@gmail.com.

I am NOT saying the directors would listen to me more than anyone else (indeed, Director Martin-Morris, who represents my region, never acknowledges anything I send to him).  But I have the time and the energy to get these together and try to hand them to each director personally. 

Naturally, time is of the essence.  As well, please, if you want to do this on your own, that's fine as well.  There are two Director Community Meetings this Saturday (see Seattle Schools This Week for details or the district calendar).