Monday, January 06, 2014

Speaking out at the School Board Meeting

I am urging you to speak out - either via e-mail or via public testimony - to the Board about two subjects.

One, student data privacy.  We see from the agenda the RTTT item, some of which is about helping PreK-3rd grade students.  It's a fine idea but again, that's exactly the starting age that many entities want to start data tracking.  Will their parents be told this is happening (or asked if they consent)?

Two, later start times for high school.  As I reported, staff is not saying no but basically, we have enough work and the Board didn't make it priority.  President Peaslee said that they could not include everything into the Strategic Plan but that the Board has been talking about this and asking for feasibility information for quite a few years.  Help the Board get there to that nuts and bolts discussion.

Write to them at schoolboard@seattleschools.org.  Tell them you want a student data privacy policy with real teeth and protections and/or making later start times for secondary schools to be a priority.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Frankly a later start is not a priority with any families I know including those with upcoming high school kids.

Sure, it's a great idea for the next few year, and yes it is backed by scientific research, but the district can't handle the operational details of what is on its plate. Especially in transportation and building capacity and that is before we get to classroom issues. The details of a late start would take over the entire plate.

I have written to the school board to tell them to table it for now. And to figure out whether yellow busses will be provided in the future in any grade bands given the financial difficulties of the district. Late starts can/should be considered in that comprehensive context.

Also, the district will need to do a hella lot of outreach to communities where after school jobs (not enrichment and athletics) are a reality. Will a late start hurt these kids' employment opportunities? It is an open question, and one that must be answered in addition to the positives that come with starting later.

EdVoter

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Sure, it's a great idea for the next few year, and yes it is backed by scientific research, but the district can't handle the operational details of what is on its plate."

And you know this how? This is kind of what Mr. Wright said BUT he said if it was made a priority, they could address it.

I would think that academics would be the focus as THAT would be the most important item to hurt employment opportunities in the future.

Anonymous said...

The schol board is not listening anyway. They are obessed with "Nation building" ( school building) The school board thinks that children are interchangable parts that can be motivated no matter where they are or who they team with. Grandfathering is seen as counter to the objectives of raising test scores throughout the district. "Inclusion" is the new buzz word for breaking up functioning groups of student cohorts that support each other.

The school board will sit there and shuffle through papers while people speak only to have closed door meetings where decisions are made that are forced on the public.

Guess what no one will get upset because all the polite people have turned into sheep. The school board only cares about their power not about real students. They do not care about people anymore. The school board has an adgenda and public input is a minor annoyance for them.
Seattle education has taken a radical turn. Everyone should give the board an earful but they will not pay attention to anything except lawsuits.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Doing Anonymous a favor (as we delete anonymous comments:

"The schol board is not listening anyway. They are obessed with "Nation building" ( school building) The school board thinks that children are interchangable parts that can be motivated no matter where they are or who they team with. Grandfathering is seen as counter to the objectives of raising test scores throughout the district. "Inclusion" is the new buzz word for breaking up functioning groups of student cohorts that support each other.

The school board will sit there and shuffle through papers while people speak only to have closed door meetings where decisions are made that are forced on the public.

Guess what no one will get upset because all the polite people have turned into sheep. The school board only cares about their power not about real students. They do not care about people anymore. The school board has an adgenda and public input is a minor annoyance for them.
Seattle education has taken a radical turn. Everyone should give the board an earful but they will not pay attention to anything except lawsuits."

Jamie said...

I have a high school kid and a later start would be fantastic. Even just 40 minutes later, to 8:30 vs 7:50. I will be writing the board later today.

Greenwoody said...

Anonymous @12:05 sounds right to me. The emphasis on test scores isn't abating, even after the stand against the MAP. We need to significantly ramp up our advocacy efforts in 2014 to stop the destruction of public schools through the overemphasis on testing, both here in Seattle and in the state legislature.

Anonymous said...

So glad my kid is at Hale where we already have a late start of 8:30.

HP

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa - when I hear both staff and board say their plates are full - given that they often disagree - I believe them. This morning KUOW said Banda is expecting another rise in enrollment of 1000 students for next year. Do I think the district is prepared? No.

I am all for the later high school start time. But is it going to happen for 2014-15? No way. I doubt there is enough bandwidth for 2015-16. 2016-17 seems a reasonable goal, but only if systemic planning, community outreach, employer outreach, city outreach, staff outreach and transportation planning begins this spring. My opinion.


EdVoter

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ed Voter, thanks for that. I don't think it logistically can get done for next year. I wish it could but the will is not there.

Eric B said...

If we want later start times to happen, then they have to do some studies at some point. They have to go out for community engagement, find out what it will cost, how they will deal with sports (and even what the impact is) and all that. If they never start the studies, the start times will never change.

I don't think that 2014-15 will happen, even though I think it potentially could with a superintendent and Board who were 100% committed to making it happen. 15-16 is definitely possible, though.

As far as staff bandwidth, the majority of the work is done by a relatively small number of people. Transportation said they can do the transportation studies. There will be demands on other areas, but that could easily be managed between critical workloads. The center of the project will be one or two people part-time collecting the information and digesting it for others.

A-mom said...

Presentation for Transportation Work Session tonight.
Start times kicked down the road.
Grandfathered transportation for Option schools on the chopping block.

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/13-14%20agendas/010714agenda/20140107_Presentation_TransportationWorkSession.pdf

Anonymous said...

There have already been plenty of studies, all over the country. They don't have to do community engagement, and I'm not even sure it's a great idea to(I didn't hear a lot when my elementary school start time got moved a couple years ago- they just moved it). This is a choice we could make that would definitely positively affect academic outcomes, and disproportionately positively affect disadvantaged students.

The schools need to be in the business of educating children, not scheduling to suit the desire of parents to have those same kids act as childcare or harming the educational outcomes of thousands of students so that a few families have sports schedules they are used to. Really it's shameful we don't already do this, and to me an example of what a political morass downtown is.

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think there are plenty of studies. Hale already does this and has plenty of after-school activities. There would be a good place to do any Seattle study.

Smoke and mirrors.

Anonymous said...

I agree with sleeper that I don't see why they need to do a lot of parent outreach and planning to adjust start times. My child's elementary start time was changed from 8:55 to 9:30 two years back with ZERO prior parental or school outreach, and boy did that change have an affect on families as one has to arrange morning childcare in order for the parent to get to work at a reasonable time. If a change is made for real educational reasons, as this would be (educational goals being more important than either sports or jobs), I don't see why parent involvement is required.

P.S. one year I had a high school class that started at 6:30 a.m. I still remember how awful that was.

--Elementary Mom who supports later high school start times

Anonymous said...

It is curious that those who are advocating for later start time is assuming that all of the families with kids in afterschool jobs and babysitting sibs can easily make other choices. With many families, these choices are made because of financial necessity, a matter of survival. I had a boyfriend in college, from an immigrant family, who had to work at his parents' store 7 days per week afterschool until 1am. His parents opened the store at 5am and worked till the kids got out of school, then they went to buy supplies, and the kids worked the store till closing. They could not afford to hire employees for several years. And I went to school with a friend, a very bright and talented guy who often felt asleep in class because he had to work till 2am everyday to help his mom to pay the bills. These families are not making their kids babysit or work afterschool to be mean. It is done out of necessity. Please be aware of such families as you advocate for your kids' rights to not go to bed earlier. If these kids could not work afterschool, they might have to drop out; no money means no home, no food.

CCA

Anonymous said...

are assuming

CCA

Lynn said...

The National Sleep Foundation on school start times. (Hint - the issue isn't getting teens to bed earlier.)

CCA,
Do you know children in Seattle today who are working from 2:30 pm until 1 am? A child working those hours would be unlikely to graduate from high school. Luckily, we have child labor laws! 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to work no more than four hours on a school day and no more than 20 hours in a school week.

Anonymous said...

Careful CCA. You are going to be labelled as a hater, a bad parent, and anti-education quickly. There's only one reality and what you presented just can't be plausible. So there. Poof. You are now invisible. Welcome to our world.

rb






Anonymous said...

No matter what time my child starts school, it doesn't change the fact that Seattle Schools has weak math texts, or is somehow blind to the inadequacies of Readers and Writers Workshop, or doesn't seem to be working toward better science materials. You can cite research about the benefits of a later start, but frankly, I don't think a later start will improve educational outcomes for my child. Improving the academic program of Seattle Schools? That would make a difference for us.

-priorities

David said...

I fail to see how getting out of school at 3pm vs 2:20 would lead to families starving, honestly.

Lynn said...

Priorities,

The staff are claiming they don't have time to look at changing school start time because they are focussing on these board priorities:

1. Implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
2. Budget Sustainability and Alignment to Strategic Plan
3. Capacity Management and Growth Boundaries

None of those things are likely to correct our problems with math, reading and writing instruction.

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