Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

There two good (among many) good independent bookstores I want to call to your attention.  One is the new Phinney Books.  I haven't visited yet but have heard great things about their ability to help you find the right book.  When it comes to kids, that's a good thing.  The other store is Ada's Technical Books on Capitol Hill.  It's a very cool scientific bookstore with great events.

Is your teen vamping (note: this term has a sexual connotation which is not what I am referring to)?  From the NY Times:

“Kids my age are very occupied,” said Owen, 15, a high school sophomore in Portland, Ore. “We have school all day, and see our friends. We get home and we have to do our homework. Then we eat dinner and go to bed.”

So some nights, mostly weekends, he snuggles under the covers with his laptop, the screen dimmed so his parents won’t see, and watches tutorials on YouTube about how to create hip-hop beats with a drum machine.
From The Stranger Slog
“Sometimes I look up and it’s 3 a.m. and I’m watching a video of a giraffe eating a steak,” he said. “And I wonder, ‘How did I get here?’ ”

How do you do something "like a girl?"  Another good commercial from Dove soap and their campaign of self-acceptance.

Using lines from the Princess Bride (and there are a lot of great ones) as comments on student papers.  Very funny.

Don't know if you heard but today is the day you can legally buy pot in Washington State (but note, not consume it in public).  There is just one store in Seattle opening today and it's at 4th and Lander.  That's just a stone's throw from JSCEE.  

What's on your mind?


TechyMom said...

Interesting perspective for the testing debate from the NYT Sunday Review The Secret of Effective Motivation

Anonymous said...

Good article on Education Data here

comments are good too.


maureen said...

Opening next week! A purely student created and run original musical:

From composer and co-lyricist Travis Frank and book-writer and co-lyricist Nora Germani comes Emerald City, Seattle's new musical comedy. 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.

Thursday, July 17th at 7:00
Friday, July 18th at 7:00
Saturday, July 19th at 7:00
Friday, July 25th at 7:00
Saturday, July 26th at 7:00
Sunday, July 27th at 2:00

Adults - 20
Students - 10

Purchase tickets at blacktieproductions-mt.com

Performing Arts Center, Ballard High School
1418, NW 65th St.
Seattle, WA 98117

Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/1560548097505663/

mirmac1 said...

My daughter's having a great time with the All-City Band this summer. It is hard work, but a great time! Perfect for a teenager.

Anonymous said...

correction please - the #likeagirl campaign is NOT from Dove but from Always.

QA Parent

Anonymous said...

Was curious about the failed mass waiver movement on math adoption so I did a public disclosure request for relevant emails. I haven't reviewed them all yet, but an email from the Executive Directors to the principals is included below.


Dear Principals,
We know the math adoption process has been a very frustrating experience. There are many of you who are discussing waivers to implement enVision Math in the 2014-2015 school year. The EDS's strongly believe that a common curriculum throughout the District is vital for student learning and equity.

We are asking that the elementary and K-8 components of the Principal corp come to consensus on a preference for a math curriculum and either write a waiver to implement enVision Math or take the board's decision and implement Math in Focus. You will absolutely have EDS support for a single curriculum by either accepting the board decision or writing a waiver.

We have trust in your ability to determine what is best for the students in your building and the District as a whole. Please let us know what we can do to support you with this work.

Executive Directors of Schools

Anonymous said...

Excerpt from an email sent by Shauna Heath:

As you may know the SPS School Board adopted MiF tonight. We wanted to make you aware that within the amendment schools that have an existing waiver may continue to use alternative instructional materials and funding will be provided to purchase materials. In addition, those schools that have [not] been using an alternative instructional material, including enVision and Go Math, may submit a waiver with the expectation that it will be fully funded.


Anonymous said...

On second thought, I think that [not] I inserted in Shauna Heath's email does not reflect what she meant. I think she was referring to the schools that were using alternate materials without official authorization.


Anonymous said...

Email from Claudia Allen (Montlake):

Hi Elementary Principals of the Central Region,

You've been asked by PASS to email me (your Elementary Board Rep)with whether or not your school's staff agrees to adopt EnVision.

If your staff votes yes then your school will be included on the one waiver submitted to the school board. (And they will approve the waiver, per Harium Martin-Morris.) The curriculum will be fully paid for with district funds. We need your staff to vote today (if they haven't already). I am to report the results of our Central Region at the latest by Saturday, June 7.


mirmac1 said...


I see mass insubordination. Time for letters in the file. Tell me, was jlbanda@seattleschools.org copied on those emails? Or only EDs and Michael Tolley? What a frickin' waste of precious staff time that could be better spent on staff priorities (tongue in cheek, there's gotta be an emoticon for that!)

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...funding will be provided to purchase materials. In addition, those schools that have [not] been using an alternative instructional material, including enVision and Go Math, may submit a waiver with the expectation that it will be fully funded."

Jaw-dropping, given the funding issues in this district. How she knows the money will be there for all waivers is difficult to fathom.

It sounds like they were trying for a mass uprising against the Board vote (for any of a number of reasons possibly)and it didn't work. Maybe that's why Banda didn't stay; they couldn't get the principals to rise up against the Board vote.

mirmac1 said...

Banda's gotta wonder why it is his principals and EDs are running amok... If he (at least initially) went along with this crazy train, then someone's got their "priorities" mixed up. It is absurd that the powerbrokers still want to hold that the board's role is as "ambassadors" who convey the district's image and prerogative to the great unwashed voters. I say the staff who tried to pull off this coup should be brushing up their resumes. "Retention of staff" can rot!

Anonymous said...


I don't see Banda copied on most of the emails. Shauna Heath was careful and sent the same form email to various individuals "per your request." Tolley was copied on the email from EDs.

The vibe I get from the flurry of emails I received is that the EDs anticipated (correctly) a backlash from many principals over the Board vote. They wanted to be supportive of the principals but also wanted most schools to be using the same curriculum.

The driving force behind the mass waiver appears to have been the principals. There were a number who were outraged or who had staff who were outraged over the Board's supposed overruling of the MAC. Most seemed willing to go with either MIF or enVision but also wanted to be supportive of the MAC and/or their fellow principals. A few vocal principals were leading the charge for waivers, and a mass waiver drafted by PASS made things easier for the many principals who wanted to go along with the rebellion but didn't want to deal with writing a waiver themselves.


Anonymous said...

From Sarah Pritchett after Banda's letter telling principals to fall in line:

We have received strong messaging of no waivers, even those it is not stated in this communication explicitly.


Anonymous said...

From Joann Bowers (Green Lake) to all elementary and middle school principals after Banda's email:

Hello Colleagues,

In regards to the math adoption, we now have the direction from Superintendent Banda in his email that there will be only one which is Math In Focus. The decision has been made and we can go forward with our work to ensure that all students receive strong math instruction. The focus can now be on quality instruction and professional development. . . .


mirmac1 said...

OMG. Classic mutual admiration behavior. To heck with what is the data-driven choice, just do CYA for the comrades-in-arms.

Okay, I lay this at the feet of Michael Tolley. Banda still thinks he made a bang-up choice for AS for T&L.

So EDs are principal-enablers? Yet they are supposedly overseers and delegated to oversee principal performance? How's that working out? SpEd problems have, for years, been caused by ignorant principals. Don't get me wrong; there are many who know and do their jobs very well. But do we really need a $M layer of management that just runs interference for principals? And chooses to ignore the wish of their bosses, the directors?

mirmac1 said...

I'm sure Julian would be happy to post those emails. Send to spsleaks@gmail.com......

Anonymous said...

@mirmac1, I sent the emails to Julian.

It seems there was a big meeting the day Banda sent his email. From Gerrit Kischner:

Dear PASS Members,

Before tomorrow's DLT meeting, I want to provide a further update on PASS's position regarding the elementary math adoption. Today, I was able to consult with many of you, and this morning I met with David Dockendorf, Erika Ayer, Vicki Sacco and Joanne Bowers in order to ensure we were coordinating our message and sending a clear sense about the interest of school leaders in the midst of this decision. Later, we were included in meetings with the EDS team and the Superintendent's cabinet, and we are grateful that they took the time to make sure they were addressing principals' concerns. We are confident that we have a clear direction moving forward as a District.

PASS stands firmly in support of Superintendent Banda's commitment to ensure a single, unified adoption of Math in Focus, consistent with the School Board's decision last week. . . .


SPSLeaks said...

Very interestink!

SPS Math Revolt! OMG.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I thought I was going to read about the math debacle, then come to find some emails about whether or not to assign waitlisted Spectrum students at WW to GenEd or Spectrum...holy cow...is this how the waitlist gets moved? So if you are APP qualified and waitlisted, you might get Spectrum status, but if you are Spectrum and waitlisted, you might get assigned to GenEd at WW? Huh?

reluctant reader

Anonymous said...

Can someone please summarize the math curriculum info in a simple way? I don't quite understand what the waiver means. I do understand that one text was recommended by a committee and a different text was chosen. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

It's painful seeing the dysfunction of this district in black and white, but I do appreciate reading McLaren's letter to principals following the Board vote (around p87 for those viewing the linked info).

Then there's this from MT and SH: While the Board did not select their [Math Adoption Committee] recommendation, we want to reiterate what we all know: math education is about the quality of instruction.

Clearly the texts do matter, or we wouldn't have such machinations going on around the adoption.


Anonymous said...

I read the texts. It looks like in pursuit of getting the math adoption right the current board has permanently severed staff-board relations among a big swath of SPS employees. No need to discuss which side is right but it is unmistakable from the tone of the letters that a big group of central office employees and school principals think the board is a bunch of meddling idiots, despite Maclaren's soothing letter.

I do wonder what this means for all the other projects on the table. Especially with a new superintendent hire now necessary I get the feeling that the gulf between staff and board is bigger than ever and likely to cause damage to our students and our district. It makes me ill and I think there is a lot of work to be done on both sides of the table to achieve a functional district. Blanford's scold wasn't the way to go about it.Neither was the insolence of a lot of the principals nor the ineptness of the executive staff.

I said the other day that I thought the board was more functional with both Smith-Blum and DeBell gone and I still believe that, but the board-staff thing is an interpersonal and operational mess. Worst I've seen in quite a while. At least under Goodloe-Johnson the staff not directly reporting to her was united with the board to get rid of her.

North of 85th

Anonymous said...

North, if you have read older stuff you might see a lot of those same players treating board action and members with the same contempt. Those attitudes are unfortunately not new. I actually thought the derision for parents was at a fairly high water mark, but that is not so new either.

Reluctant-I saw that too, and what's worse, they had their facts wrong about enrollment requirements and eligibility for high school app! This stuff is so Byzantine-no one gets it. But you'd like to think principals and staff did.

I hear lots of places lately that the "text doesn't matter, it's all about the teachers." Poppycock. In math the text does matter. Edm and discovery math are keeping competent teachers from teaching well. Perhaps it doesn't matter for absolute stars, but we don't live in Lake Woebegone. Not everyone is a star. Which is just fine, but it's harmful to make decisions depending on all teachers being the same and super stars.


no source said...

I'm obviously checked-out once again. I had no idea the Source was down from 7/4-9/3.

Anonymous said...

NEmom, are you asking for a play by play of the math adoption?

From what I understand, the Math Adoption Committee (MAC) narrowed the choice down to 3 programs, including Math in Focus and Envision. The final recommendation from the MAC was Envision. It was introduced to the Board for a vote, and a Board member was going to put forth an amendment for a dual adoption of 1) Math in Focus and 2) Envision, but was told by District legal that a dual adoption wouldn't fly.

The amendment was then changed to a single adoption of Math in Focus. When introduced, the amendment was supported with information about the success of Highline (diverse student body with many ESL students) in using Math in Focus. The amendment passed by a vote of 4-3, meaning Math in Focus would replace EDM for K-5 math.

There was then a rushed, over the weekend attempt to bypass the board vote by allowing waivers to any school wanting to use Envision (this was an abuse of the waiver process and not the intention of the waiver policy). Principals were being asked (or pressured) to come to a consensus about Envision vs Math in Focus.

Letters from Shauna Heath suggested that the district would pay for Envision materials for those schools wanting a waiver, despite schools needing to pay for alternative programs in the past.

Craziness ensued.

Finally Banda released a statement to principals asking them to support the adopted Math in Focus program for the fall.

End of story.

-reluctant reader

Anonymous said...

Re: The Source being down until school starts, that surprised me as well. In the past we've been able to check middle school schedules before arriving the first day--usually late the week before. Especially for kids entering 6th grade, it's really nice to know what classes you'll have and when, including whether or not you got the requested late start or early release for independent study. How can they not have that info ready until day 1?


Patrick said...

HIMSmom, generally little of academic importance gets done the first couple of days anyway. Many students change whatever schedule they've got on Day 1 anyway. Not having that information until Day 1 doesn't seem like that big a deal to me.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I believe some staff think that they can somehow guide/manhandle the Board and it will work.

It won't. The best way to work together is to find common ground, not try to flex muscle or with backdoor dealings.

HIMS, the question is not how but why?

Patrick, as I mentioned in the Green Dot story, one mother with students in two high schools got a message from one high school saying students should NOT contact counselors in the first 10 days. She thought that troubling and so do I.

Charlie Mas said...

The emails make it clear that there were a just a couple of ringleaders in the attempted math coup. One of them suddenly lost her enthusiasm for leading the charge upon learning that her waiver to use enVision in lieu of EDM would continue. Turns out that was the root of her activism. But, in her zeal to recruit others to her banner (before she deserted them), she wrote some pretty incendiary things that no professional should ever write.

Here's what I find funny. Principals have no trouble exercising authority in the form of "the committee advises me, but I make the decision", but they can get awful weird about it when that authority is granted to others.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, I'm not concerned about academic importance--just logistics and ease of transition. It's a bigger deal if your kid has an independent study period, during which they are not allowed on campus. Do they start late? Need an early ride home? Need to be picked up midday? Hard to make those plans if you don't know until after the kid is at school.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I found a lot of the discourse in those e-mails troubling. Yes, clearly some ringleaders including an executive director.

I note how many principals said they believed all schools should be on the same page.

Kim Whitworth had some notable comments like her astonishment that there were no principals on MAC.

"In most building decision matrices, principals are final decision makers on curriculum with input from stakeholders. Principals should be the the majority voice on any curriculum adoption committee. How did this happen?"

I'd lay odds no principals applied. It was a lot of work and I'm sure they all thought some other principal would be there to represent them. Why didn't PASS push for this? Who knows but a little late after the fact to say principals should be the majority voice (wonder what teachers think of that_?

She also asked:

Kim Whitworth asks principals on June 5 - What math curriculum do you use? Are you using it with “fidelity” or simply as a resource?

I was surprised at the number of principals and their wide-ranging answers. I can see how it would be difficult to ascertain how ANY adopted math curriculum is doing with this kind of adding on. (Not saying it shouldn't happen but clearly, it is happening.)

Charlie Mas said...

I find it so odd that an Executive Director of Schools didn't know what math materials the schools were using. What do those people do? What do they talk to principals about? How could this topic not come up?

This was one of the strongest signs of the disconnect between the central administration and the schools that I have ever seen. After all of the talk in the central administration about aligned curriculum, the need for consistency across schools, and fidelity of implementation, this executive director of schools didn't even know what math materials her schools were using or how they were using them.

Kinda shocking really.

Charlie Mas said...

Yet another indication of the lawless culture of Seattle Public Schools, no one - not one person - came out and said "It was the Board's decision to make, they made the decision, so let's all just move forward."

Instead, the dominant sentiment was "Whatever we do, let's just all do the same." without any concern about whether the direction would be compliance or non-compliance.

This was also highlighted in the Board meeting when it was disclosed that eleven schools were using enVision though only three of them had a waiver. Following that announcement no one asked "How are you holding the other eight schools accountable for their non-compliance?" It wasn't a concern. Non-compliance is never a concern.

#GladForFOIA said...

I've not read the e-mails, but I'm getting the idea.

We need transparency and may Julian and others live on!!!

#GreerSurfacesAgain said...

Does anyone remember when DeBell's relationship to Frank Greer? Frank Greer is a partner at GMMB. GMMB is a nationwide strategic group and DeBell would use Greer to help smear his fellow board members.

GMMB profiting and pushing Common Core.


#GreerSurfacesAgain said...

I meant to say: Does anyone remember Debell's relationship to Frank Greer?