Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

Interesting discussion at the NY Times; Should books for children be political?

Speaking of books for kids, I love this one - My First Kafka (which would be Runaways, Rodents, and Giant Bugs).

Recess - it IS for learning.  Great article from The Atlantic on one teacher's research. 

The arguing continues in the Seattle Pre-K discussion.  The other initiative - not the City's - Seattle Initiative 107, has filed an ethics complaint with the City, charging that there were meetings with City Council members that violate the ethics rules. 

As I previously reported, the Sacramento School Board will be meeting this Thursday to vote on whether to appoint Superintendent Banda as their new superintendent.  As well, they will also vote to approve his contract.  There has not been a start date set but I think he would likely leave SPS by the end of the July.  

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

There is a live and interactive anti-Common Core event in area theaters next Tuesday, July 22 featuring such education stalwarts as Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin. They're looking to make history and create a national 'unified plan of action.' For details and theater locations, visit http://www.fathomevents.com/event/we-will-not-conform-live/more-info/details.

--- swk

ws said...

appeal being filed for the new schmitz park elementary. at this rate the new building will not be ready for any of its current students to use.

ws said...

forgot the link.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I doubt if the building will be delayed by that much. These appeals rarely win. I was surprised by the intensity of some of the comments.

mirmac1 said...

Salon: Anti-DFER

ArchStanton said...

The recent kerfuffle at the Seattle Times over the Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of the Mikado brought to mind an experience I had recently. Before I get to that; let me say that I am not a big theater goer in general, nor am I particularly familiar with the Mikado, but I can understand the perspectives and concerns of the various people involved. I think there are valid reasons to respect the integrity of past artistic works, even if they reflect norms and customs that we would find objectionable today. I also think that it is valid to reinterpret such works for modern audiences and I also think that there is value in providing context for audiences to better understand such works. It might also be reasonable to expect mature audiences to seek out contextual information for themselves. That said…

This spring, my family had the pleasure of attending a performance of “Kiss Me Kate” at Roosevelt HS. I was quite impressed with the quality of the production and the talent of the performers. But, not being very familiar with the work, I was a little taken aback with some of the themes of the musical. For those not familiar, there are moments in the story, where the lead male: spanks the lead female, cracks a bullwhip at her, has a discussion with the lead female’s fiancĂ© about women needing a ‘firm hand’ and that they even ‘like it’. And no one seemed to think this was problematic.

No dear readers; I wasn’t swooning and clutching my pearls at such racy material. As regular reader of The Stranger and Dan Savage’s column, I am well aware of themes of power and control, corporal punishment, and domination and submission and I think that they are fine themes for mature individuals to explore. What troubled me was that Kiss Me Kate was performed straight up, by kids maybe as young as 14 or 15, without a hint of irony, no mention of the context in which it was written, and apparently no critical analysis of the work by the students performing it. I can say this because our family knows a student in the band who confirmed that the band had not participated in any kind of critique and was unaware of the other performers having any such discussion. I’ll also add that with maybe one or two exceptions, the show was cast pretty strictly along race/gender lines – another thing I found surprising in the era of Glee and LGTB student associations.

I get that it’s hard to get away from stereotypical gender/race/class roles in works that originated decades or centuries ago. But, I don’t think that the age of a work automatically gives producers and performers a free pass to present works without considering the problems they pose – at least for works performed by and for young audiences. This seemed to go beyond mere boy/girl stuff and veer into attitudes that reinforce date rape, domestic violence, and demeaning or belittling women. And I could be okay with that if I knew that there had been a larger discussion around those issues. At any rate, it certainly prompted a discussion with our two young (younger than HS) daughters.

I guess I’ll leave it there. I was never a drama or musical theater kid and the whole thing made me wonder at the process of schools choosing and performing problematic works and whether any critical thought went into addressing them. It certainly seems like there are some teaching/learning opportunities to take advantage of.

Ragweed said...

agenda for the July 16, 2014 meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Board.

LPB 399/14

Landmarks Preservation Board Meeting Seattle Municipal Tower
700 5th Avenue, 40th Floor
Room 4060
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 – 3:30 p.m.


071614.21 Fire Station No. 5 30 minutes

925 Alaskan Way

071614.22 Woodrow Wilson Junior High School / Wilson-Pacific 30 minutes

1330 N. 90th Street

#I'mShockedITellYou said...

More on the City of Seattle's preschool and potential misuse of public dollars. Gee....I wonder who was behind the "whisper campaign"?

" The basic arguments and allegations: That the city unfairly used its resources to oppose their initiative by procuring what they call "a biased legal memo" instead of a "neutral legal analysis," "[using] this taxpayer-funded memo for campaign purposes," creating a fiscal analysis based on that flawed memo, and deliberately leaking these documents and talking points to the Seattle Times. They call it "the 'swift boating' of I-107."

"The complaint also mentions an alleged "whisper campaign" against I-107 at city hall, and alleges that the council discussed things in closed "executive sessions" that should've been discussed in open session."

Here is filing:


Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, Mirmac, I plan on a whole column as DFER has come out swinging (and not in a very pleasant manner).

mirmac1 said...

I understand that, unlike the district's use of search engines to provide public records, the City's is purely manual. So if Holly Miller doesn't want to divulge something, all she has to do is say oh well that's all I have.

If that's true than all the skullduggery at City Hall is in their backrooms.

Anonymous said...

As expected with new Common Core standards paired with new tests (and classrooms not in synch with those tests) standardized scores are dropping precipitously.

The Washington Post is the 1st big paper to post a large article on the topic - and even to those of us who knew scores would inevitably drop from the combo of new materials, teachers without a lot of Common Core professional development resources and too-new tests, the drops in the analyzed state of Maryland are substantial. The lowest scores in 7 years.

In vaunted Montgomery County, with which SPS sometimes compares itself, "75.9 percent of elementary school students and 73.3 percent of middle school students scored proficient in math in 2014, a one-year drop of 8.6 percentage points and 4.6 percentage points, respectively" reported the Post.

There will be more Common Core and testing outcries as the wider press reports on this.

Will teachers on the East Coast be teaching to the new test next year? Ya Betcha.

This full scenario will wash over Seattle shortly, no doubt.

Ed Voter

Josh Hayes said...

Arch, I share your misgivings about the musical. I did my internship at RHS this last year, and several of my students were in that production. They seemed baffled by my concerns about the lessons the musical was teaching (for those not familiar with "Kiss Me Kate" it's based on "The Taming of the Shrew", and has not updated it to reflect changing mores).

It provided a few teachable moments, though, so I guess that's something! Clearly nobody in the cast had had any discussions about the underlying lessons being taught about women and their place in the world -- like that it's cute when they're feisty, but really they just want to be dominated and carried off as chattel. "But that's supposed to be ironic!" they claimed; from the preview I saw, they played it absolutely straight: no irony either intended or received. Given the intellectual power and liveliness of these students, I found it disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Ed Voter, while the variables you suggest might help explain the precipitous drop in test scores (i.e., "the combo of new materials, teachers without a lot of Common Core professional development resources and too-new tests"), there is another variable you didn't include that might be the strongest variable to cause a drop --- the Common Core tests are harder than Maryland's previous state test(s). No state had a test aligned to a college and career ready cut score prior to the Common Core tests.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

@swk - I considered the point you make but didn't include it because...I don't know that the tests are harder. I know that the two consortium's tests are different. I know that the backers of CC are trying to be sure that kids are college and career ready. But I don't know if either of those points mean the tests are harder.

Not trying to be contrary. Honestly do not have that information/evidence. If you do, please share. I am following the arrival of CC and the subsequent CC testing in Seattle closely. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Ed Voter, the same test can become harder by simply changing the cut score. The HSPE is a 10th grade test and its cut score is set to 10th grade --- some would argue it's actually set to 8th grade. The 11th grade Smarter Balanced test will be set to a cut score that is aligned to college readiness. There will be a considerable difference in rigor between the HSPE and the Smarter Balanced high school test. That's what I mean by being harder.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

If you read the Washington Post article, you will learn that Maryland had not yet switched to the PARCC assessments. The scores dropped when assessing students with the current state test. What changed was that they were teaching to CCSS. The drop in scores was explained in part by math topics being taught in a different order. But reading? Makes you wonder about CCSS and its implementation.

Washington State will be using the SBAC tests, which are different from PARCC tests. PARCC tests will be more like our current state tests where every student gets the same questions for a given grade. SBAC tests will be adaptive, like MAP.


Anonymous said...

Related to CCSS, what I am seeing in some of my children's classes is a disparagement of content. LA classes are not based on carefully chosen pieces of literature, and social studies is covering very little content.

The district is focused on implementing CCSS, but seems to have lost sight of the importance of teaching a basic body of knowledge K-12. Simply following CCSS is not enough. There needs to be an actual curriculum and Readers and Writers Workshop is not adequate past K-5.


ArchStanton said...

Weird Al is dropping one new video everyday this week. Today's is appropriate to this blog.

Word Crimes

Yesterday's was "Tacky", set to the tune of "Happy". I trust y'all can find it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Arch, how I've missed you. Those two items came across my radar today as well. I LOVE Word Crimes.

Anonymous said...

My RHS student decided not to audition for the musical this year after hearing of the choice of 'Kiss Me Kate'. She was disturbed that it was played straight. She had many discussions with friends & there was also a lot of discussion among parents about the values represented in the script. My student remembers a Greenstage production of 'Shrew' that was played ironically & was much more palatable. The RHS choices were disappointing.
-RHS Parent

ArchStanton said...

Thanks Mel. I appreciate the sentiment. Between going private and exorcising my ire over MGJ, the Gang of Four, Pottergate, and the APP splits; I haven't felt the urge to post quite as often. Maybe things aren't quite as bad these days, as well... Still, since I still care about public ed and we may be back in SPS at some point, I do check in regularly. Glad you're still fighting the good fight. Have a good summer and a virtual iced tea on me. ;)

apparent said...

Arch, Josh & RHS Parent,

Similar reactions. As neighbors whose babysitter was a cast member, we also took our two elementary age kids to the Roosevelt musical.

We do subscribe to the Fifth Avenue Theater musical productions, sometimes also bringing our kids, and several of those older scripts often do raise troubling questions when contrasted to today's values (specifically, for examples, we have now seen several musical portrayals this year of what is now certainly considered domestic abuse}. On the other hand, most of those Fifth Avenue audiences are mature adults so it is a different setting.

Bearing that in mind, and blithely ignorant given the innocuous nostalgic sounding title Kiss Me Kate, I was taken aback to see such themes acted out without adaptation on a high school stage before a family audience. I have not raised the issue since with our talented young babysitter, but since your posts above I think I may ask a little more about their choice and their direction and staging of the Roosevelt production. It does seem a missed opportunity or worse if no collective discussion took place about such important matters.

P.S. According to our babysitter, there is actually a "Nostalgia Club" among many others at Roosevelt High School, which she finds amusing because none of its members can remember the '90s (yes, 1990s!) which is its focal decade. Oh, and by the way, as a frosh last year she absolutely loves Roosevelt and says that everybody there does find their place . . .

Anonymous said...

Doh! I read the WA Post 3 times and still missed the fact that the scores reflect new standards but old test. Of course there will be a disconnect. Wonder if scores will continue to decline next year with new test in place. Would not surprise me.

@SWK: What is the raised cut score going to be in our state? In other states? This is something worth continued discussion.

@Everyone else. Green Dot officially filed yesterday to open a charter in South Seattle.


maureen said...

Emerald City, an original musical, opens on Thursday!! Between the cast, crew and full orchestra over sixty High School students from at least five different schools are involved!

Completely student written, composed, orchestrated, produced, designed, directed, choreographed, acted....

Jonathan Small, a newly-minted college graduate from North Dakota is invited by Microsoft to work in Seattle, and is confronted with everything weird and wonderful about the city, including fanatical office workers, hipsters, and, of course, love. But when Jonathan's quest for a life beyond the great plains of North Dakota is put in jeopardy, he rallies the people of Seattle together as a community to save his and his friends' happiness.

If you love Seattle, musical theater and young adults, you have to see this! Actually come even if you don't like young adults! You'll be glad you did.

July 17,18,19,25,26 at 7:00pm
Jul 27 at 2:00pm

Ballard High School
1418 NW 65th St, Seattle, Washington 98117

Tickets available at blacktieproductions-mt.com and at the door.

Black Tie Productions is a student-run nonprofit. Any profits from the production will benefit Seattle Children's Theater. (Suitable for Seattlites of all ages.)

maureen said...

Oh, and to tie in with the discussion up thread, I don't think anyone would find Emerald City sexist or racist or homophobic. In fact the whole thing is a love song to liberal Seattle.

Before I posted that paragraph, I had a chat with the author, who happens to be sitting on my couch watching Red vs. Blue on Netflix. I was told that she can imagine many people would find the script homophobic and sexist and that the producers and cast talked a lot about whether or not they would be offending anyone. She told me about the Bechdel test, which I had never heard of. So they worry about it, and aren't sure they are doing it perfectly. I guess that is progress.

Greg said...

Melissa, I thought you might want to see this article on Slate and maybe open it for discussion, "Sweden's School Choice Disaster".

It's amazing. Sweden put vouchers in place, then had a steep drop in academic performance. Meanwhile, "the much-vaunted schools of Finland, a country entirely free of charter schools, consistently perform near the top of the PISA rankings". As the article says at the end, "Simply opening the floodgates to more education entrepreneurs doesn't disrupt education. It's just plain disruptive."

mirmac1 said...

OMG! I hope the YE let me into their:

Club and Google Group!

Anonymous said...

Interview with Mr. Banda from Sacramento paper - here's a surprise, he's going "watch for a while"

After controversial leader, Sacramento City Unified eyes low-profile replacement


Anonymous said...

Well bleep - that didn't work - lets try that link again

After controversial leader, Sacramento City Unified eyes low-profile replacement


mirmac1 said...

Thanks for the link reader47. I found this interesting.

Banda is known for a "...tendency to delegate some difficult decisions to handpicked administrators."

“I don’t go out and make headlines,” he said. “I build relationships.”

Maybe not, but the lame-brained moves of his handpicked muckety-mucks stepped in it many times. e.g. Mann Building, Pinehurst Clsure, math adoption, Sped C-CAP etc etc.

Anonymous said...

EdVoter, Smarter Balanced will not set the cut scores (technically, the achievement levels) until the fall, after all field tests are scored and panels and committees of educators, parents and other interested parties have met to review the scores and consider achievement level recommendations.

All Smarter Balanced states have agreed to comply with the achievement levels set by the consortium for accountability purposes.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

Too bad the Sacramento Bee has such a convoluted method for comments; I would have liked to weigh in.

Banda has his pluses and minuses and with SSD coming off a Broad guy, he'll look great.

But he's really much more of a mid-management guy and that may become more apparently should he decide to stay more than two years in SSD.

Joe Wolf said...

At yesterday's (Wednesday) meeting the city Landmarks Preservation Board voted to designate the Wilson-Pacific buildings as an official City of Seattle Landmark.

Too soon for meeting minutes to be posted but the link for agendas and minutes:


Zella917 said...

What does that mean? Will plans to build the new schools at Wilson-Pacific still be able to go forward if the current building is now a City of Seattle Landmark?

mirmac1 said...


It means that any proposed designs or options must be presented at a Landmarks Commission hearing. Not very meaningful, considering that many landmarks have been demolished in our town. (I'm thinking of the lovely theater that was replaced by an ugly parking garage just north of Pacific Place.)