Saturday, March 15, 2014

More Things that Make You Go, Hmmm

It appears that the Washington State legislature NOT voting to change the teacher evaluation law doesn't entirely mean the issue is done.  Apparently Duncan is still mulling options and talking to Washington State officials.  Superintendent Randy Dorn is still willing to talk but apparently doesn't think the waiver will be granted. 

We'll probably hear something by next week.

I received an odd press release this week from the Association of Washington School Principals announcing that South Shore PK-8 principal, Keisha Scarlett, has been named Washington State 2014 Middle Level Principal of the Year.  This is great; Principal Scarlett is a good, effective principal who works very hard.

What's odd is that a couple of things were left out/mis-written in the press release.

First is that the school is in partnership with SPS, the New School Foundation and the City of Seattle.  Uh, the New School Foundation merged with League of Education Voters and took their name.  Odd that was not noted.  Two, I really had no idea this was some joint partnership that included the City. I'll have to find out more about that.

Second, the press release does not note the tremendous funding that South Shore gets from New School/LEV.  It hovers (give or take) around about $1M a year for the last 10 years.  I thought it strange that SPS would not have given the Association this information.  Turns out SPS did but the Association chose to leave that detail out.  Oh.

So you read this press release and see that South Shore has a full-time art teacher, a part-time STEM teacher, a new music teacher and a Chinese-Mandarin teacher (all this, according to the press release, "in answer to community's feedback on what it would take to retain students through to the middle school program."   

It'll only take a decade.  That's what one Harvard professor of education said about Common Core at a recent forum.  It starts out with some very serious and thoughtful questions about such a large-scale endeavor.  From The Harvard Graduate School of Education webpage:

“We are not here to debate Common Core [or] debate whether to have assessments,” he said. Instead, they were there to discuss the debate once policy decisions have been made, including the role of chief state school officers in leading implementations.

“How do you leverage, how do you scale that kind of instructional reform so that all students are experiencing a high-quality program of instruction that actually does prepare them well for the expectations for the world after high school?”

The absolute issue:

“We have a what problem, a how problem, and a who problem,” King said. States are left to their own devices in creating curriculum, and they need to be cautious in how they do so, especially considering how many districts are already struggling with old standards.

“This brings us back to: Do we have the capacity to support districts in meeting these higher standards in areas that have been historically underserved?” King said, pointing out that time and resources are scarce.

But, of course...

There are a lot of people who say we are going too fast…,” Chester said, noting it’s important to find balance. “When opportunity strikes you need to take advantage of it. Rolling these out together is a smart idea.
They encouraged the public to allow time for Common Core to be implemented and education leaders to make it work. “Give us a decade to let us get this right,” King said. “”This isn’t a one- year exercise.”

Okay boys, while you sit in your leather chairs at Harvard, you ask for parents of current schoolchildren to pilot through 10 years of Common Core and, while they might not reap great fruits, maybe the children of these children will.  
Remember high school dances?  Well, they seem to not really exist in today's school to actually gather kids to dance.  This from the Today show:
Many students still get excited about the night of the dance — dressing up, taking photos, planning a detailed itinerary of activities that might include laser tag, a stop at a karaoke bar or a ride on a party bus — but they don’t actually come to the dance, Collins noted.  (To note: apparently kids still love to dance but not at dances.  The issue of HOW students dance has also been a problem at some schools.  Not easy to watch a bunch of 15-year olds twerking.)
“They’re pressured by their friends… ‘We don’t have time to stop at the dance,’” he said. “They try to (do) as much as they can in a night.”
Frankly, I would not pony up money for my kid to dress up and run around town rather than attend the actual dance.  I'd be worried about all that running around.
What's the issue?  

 "Kids don't need to go to a dance to interact with each other when they can sit in their bed with their laptop and phone and text them," she said. "It's basically like being with that person. You don't have to show up to a dance hoping to see someone anymore. You can literally Snapchat them and see them on Snapchat."
In affluent, safe communities, teenagers have an abundance of things they could be doing when not confined within the walls of their schools. It's no surprise that the school gym isn't the first place they want to be on a Friday night.

But at schools for at-risk youth, school dances are still a saving grace for parents who want their kids under the watchful eye of school administrators for as much time as possible.

Prom seems the only dance that still matters.  Maybe it just looms so large in the American school culture that it still wins out as a high school "to-do.


Mark Ahlness said...

And remember it was education guru Bill Gates who said it first, “It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.” So let's just all cross our fingers for about 10 years, shall we?

Anonymous said...

Dances are still well attended at Hale. Sometimes Hale has issues getting enough chaperons.


Melissa Westbrook said...

From the Hale Raider Reader (parent newsletter):

March 18: ―Prom for Parents‖
Please join us for our upcoming Community Conversation about the Senior Prom. Come hear a panel of seasoned prom parents (and maybe some alum students) discuss the prom — the fun, the drama, the plans, the outfits, and the fabulous inclusive prom culture of Hale!
We featured this same topic last year and it was a huge hit. Parents and alum students spoke of (and answered questions) about things like: Is everyone really hiring a limousine? Does the dress really have to cost $400? What are some different ideas about what to do on prom night? What worked, what didn‘t? How to avoid missing the prom while waiting for your food in a restaurant (it‘s happened, multiple times!).