Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ed News Roundup

It's been a busy weekend and day for education news (as always).

First, SPS Communications put out a press release about the continued growth in Seattle Schools.  As I reported last week, the district projects to be about 60,000 students by 2020.  School by school projections here.

Seattle Public Schools has released its annual spring enrollment projections for the 2014-15 school year. An estimated 52,400 students are expected to attend school in the district this fall – an increase of 1,300 students over the year ending in June.

This continues the five-year trend of enrollment growth that began in 2009, after a decade of declining enrollment. During the last five years, enrollment grew by more than 5,000 students – from 46,000 in 2009 to 51,000 this year. Next year’s expected enrollment growth of 1,300 students means the district will be serving 6,400 more students next year than in 2009.
 

Remember ConnectEdu, the company that SPS used to try to help middle/high school students with careers and college (and the district allowed kids to put in data on themselves without telling parents)? As you may recall, despite an infusion of cash (from the Gates Foundation, natch), it went bankrupt earlier this year.

Today, the FTC says that it has sent a letter to the court overseeing that bankruptcy case because of concerns over "the proposed sale of the company's assets, which include student information." (All highlighting mine.)

From the FTC:

In its privacy policy, ConnectEdu promised consumers that prior to any sale of the company, consumers would be notified and have the ability to delete their personally identifiable data. The letter states that the terms of the sale of the company and its subsidiary Academic Management Systems, Inc., in bankruptcy do not provide consumers the notice and choice set forth in the privacy policy and could potentially run afoul of both the FTC Act and the Bankruptcy Code.    

The Commission vote approving the issuance of the letter was 5-0.  The letter was filed in In re ConnectEdu, Inc., No. 14-11238, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York.

To understand, if the FTC had not stepped in, that student data would have been sold to the highest bidder which in this case would be North Atlantic Capital, a venture capital fund. The FTC said they would not have been so concerned if ConnectEdu had given users a heads up on the sale of their personal information and given a chance to remove it/had it destroyed. 

To note, ConnectEdu also owns Datacation,  That company helps districts to figure out how to use data.  (How about Step 1: PROTECT STUDENT DATA.)

Haven't heard much about the so-called parent trigger laws in various areas of the country but now there are two stories out.  As you may recall, the majority of use of the parent trigger (which is very low with an even lower success rate - you can count on one hand) is in California. 

The  Hechinger Report has a story about a group of parents who threatened to use their state's trigger law to take over a school.  Apparently it finally got the attention of their district, Los Angeles Unified, and the district is "to sign a partnership agreement addressing the parents’ top concerns at an elementary school in South Los Angeles." 

Oh, is that what it takes to get the attention of a district?  

The 13-page agreement includes a commitment by the school and district to bolster school behavior and safety plans, improve communication between parents and teachers and provide increased professional development and support for teachers. The document also specifies that $300,000 will be pumped into new positions to help with student discipline and extra support services, including funding a full-time psychologist, a part-time psychiatrist social worker and a full-time attendance officer.

The West Athens partnership agreement explicitly states that a key goal should be resolving any budget shortfalls without turning to teacher layoffs, and includes a commitment to ensuring teachers get more training and resources, especially because they have to implement the new Common Core State Standards.

What's fascinating is that many of these parents don't seem to really want anyone to "take over" their school  but they want adequate resources, improved communications and more safety. 

EdWeek is reporting that the parent trigger fad seems to have waned - at least among state legislators.  Tennessee, which seems to be at the head of the class for ed reform, turned down a law for a parent trigger.  (Another bill that failed?  Allowed for-profit charter school management. But it's in the WA State law.)   No state has enacted a parent trigger law since 2012.

6 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Ah, the first documented use of the parent trigger as a weapon of extortion. Excellent!

And it totally worked! Better still!

Now to bring it to Washington State and Seattle. What school will threaten a parent trigger conversion to a Charter School if their demands are not met and what will they demand?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, Charlie, it could end up forcing the district's hand.

Jamie said...

Wow, the projections are fascinating. I didn't realize how enormous Schmitz Park is - it will have more kids than McClure, even. My kid is a junior in HS, the elementaries have really gotten bigger since she was that age. And that's not all that long ago.

nw mama said...

Some of those numbers just seem "weird." Last I checked Whitman has 951 students enrolled for next year but there are only 920 on this list. Anyone know what happened?

- nw mama

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible to put the projections into a separate thread. I was at the JAMS open house tonight and they are expecting over 750 kids and the link here is only for about 700.

What gives?

- north seattle mom

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