Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

 In the "grrrr" edition of Open Thread:

In Jurupa Valley (a small city near Irvine, California), school officials apologized to parents of high school Sped students because, as part of a "functional skills program," the schools had them dig through trash for items that could be recycled for money. 

The Superintendent carefully phrased his apology:
“I personally apologize to any students who may have been humiliated,”

but also said:

Duchon said Tuesday that “this is standard curriculum” for the program’s students, who routinely collected recyclables such as cans and bottles.

“Up to last week, there has not been one complaint,” he said.

Gee, I wonder why students didn't feel they could stand up to their teachers over this nonsense. (It was discovered after complaints appeared on Facebook.)

Their Sped ex director said it was a common project to teach life skills.

Next, remember that HUGE planned iPad buy for Los Angeles Unified School District?  It's been called off because it was discovered - through public disclosure e-mails - that two years previously, the LAUSD Super and his deputy had been plotting with both Apple and Pearson for the the contract. From the LA Times:

The suspension comes days after disclosures that the superintendent and his top deputy had especially close ties to executives of Apple, maker of the iPad, and Pearson, the company that is providing the curriculum on the devices. And an internal report that examined the technology effort showed major problems with the process and the implementation.

Among the findings was that the initial rules for winning the contract appeared to be tailored to the products of the eventual winners — Apple and Pearson — rather than to demonstrated district needs. The report found that key changes to the bidding rules were made after most of the competition had been eliminated under the original specifications.

Gee, changing the rules to fit a bidder.  Where have I heard that before?

I cannot believe LAUSD isn't throwing their superintendent out.

The upside of today's Open Thread: the Seattle Times gets called out for their Gates-funded "Education Lab" by one of the top education writers in the country, Mercedes Schneider.  (Mercedes, whom I met at the Network for Public Education conference earlier this year, is absolutely tenacious, thorough in her research and brilliant.)  Her blog is Deutsch29. She starts:

Bill Gates lives in Seattle.
His money buys experiments there, too.

I added some details in the comments but she did find out something interesting:

That’s $450,000 directly from Gates to the Seattle Times, right?

Not according to the Gates Grants search engine, which indicates no grant paid to the Seattle Times on or around October 2013 in the amount of $450,000. The search engine also indicates no $450,000 grant paid to either Solutions Journalism Network or Education Lab.
…the Gates grants search engine does include this this July 2013 grant for $700,000, paid to New Ventures Fund of Washington, DC, for “communications” and “strategic partnerships”– specific to education journalism in the Seattle Times:
New Venture Fund
Date: July 2013 Purpose: to test solutions-oriented education journalism that leads to problem-solving and positive outcomes with the Seattle Times Amount: $700,000 Term: 18 Topic: Communications, Strategic Partnerships Program: Communications Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia Grantee Website: http://www.newventurefund.org
As she says about the Times and their "disclosure" on the "Education Lab," so much for transparency.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

At several schools this year the Kindergartners are starting late (Sept 8th) and during the first 3 days of school the teacher are meant to be meeting indivudually with parents. Sounds goo in theory, but has anyone else whose school is doing this heard yet about scheduling these meetings? Not sure if it is all being done at the last minute, or just her school. It would be nice to know if & when I need to take time off from work next week for this (before we take off for the ong weekend). I guess I could email the school, but since I don't know who her teacher will be I'd need to cc several people.

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

Of course that should be "sounds GOOD in theory."

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

From the Nathan Hale Principal:

Dear Families,

Change is the only constant. In order to save money the school board approved a new transportation plan that changed start times for schools. We will have a new start time this year, 8:40 AM. In the past, Nathan Hale has not had to abide by district standards because we started so much later than most schools. We have always been aware that allowing adolescents to sleep in ensures that they have adequate rest and are ready to learn when they arrive at school. The majority of our students do not receive yellow bus service but those students that do need to have 15 minutes from when they arrive before school begins. This 15 minutes is required by board policy so that students may eat breakfast. For the 2014-15 school year our start time will be 8:40 AM and school will end ten minutes later than before at 3:10 PM.

Now part of me wants to fight this as we have had our 8:30 AM start time for over a decade. (But realistically we have much better topics to spend our energy on rather than trying to fight board policy regarding start time.) I would rather spend our time on ensuring that ALL students become honorable, thinking, skillful citizens. So we will enjoy a ten minute later start time which will allow our students the rest that they need. We will also work with athletics to move athletic events later in the afternoon. This will hopefully ensure that our student athletes miss as little of class time as possible in the afternoon.

Also, many of you wrote to the school board and central office personnel last spring about our decreased staffing and funding. Now, three months later we have received some of our funding and will be able to hire staff and offer back some of the classes we had to cut. We did not receive everything we wanted however we did get some of the needed funding reinstated. The topics of enrollment and budget may be what we want to focus our energy on, ensuring that central office has a transparent and viable process for building budgets that is timely so we do not have to lose staff only to try to re-hire people in late August.

I just wanted to keep you updated on the latest. As always if you have questions or feedback, just let me know, together we're better.

Take care,

Jill Hudson, Ed.D.

Principal, Nathan Hale High School


So it looks like Hale is getting some of the funding back. I agree with the principal, this laying-off and rehiring garbage needs to stop.


Anonymous said...

I hate to say this, but I kinda get the feeling GF is such a behemoth full of big talks (got stuck in a corner listening to these yobs at a meeting) that I doubt if Bill, the Demi-god, knows where all his money is going. In fact many readers here will find much in common with the GF worker bees in terms of demographics, educational background, politics, lifestyle, zip codes. Have hope. Even NYT ed desk is changing tune. Soon the tide will turn and it'll be you or someone like you that GF will be throwing money to.

Besides $700,000 is like spending $5 for BIll Gates. (That's my bus fare to work.)


Melissa Westbrook said...

"This will hopefully ensure that our student athletes miss as little of class time as possible in the afternoon."

And that sums up American education and sports. Except for getting to a game, I don't see why athletes should miss class. We didn't when I was in high school.

Fly, first of all, I'll let you know - this blog would NEVER accept money from the Gates Foundation. If you want to say, that others get GF money, that's the point.

You can't swing a dead cat in this town and not hit GF funding. Doesn't make it right. Whether Gates knows all that his money gets spent on is not the point either.

And that, "it's peanuts spending," again, not the point.

But nice try.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I would like to know the status on the Special Education Department Executive Leader. Is that resolved? You reported on the leave status on another thread.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Mel2, I don't know the answer to that. I'm waiting to see if the opening of school will bring a flurry of news out of the district.

mirmac1 said...

Nathan Hale has offered garbage recycling (along with other "life skills") as a "class" for students with low-incidence disabilities (like ASD) for years. Here's their course schedule. In fact, their course catalog notes "Study Skills" and "Focus" classes as mandatory for students with an IEP. Why should administrators and teachers unilaterally decide what is "mandatory". Students' course of study is an IEP team decision. I broached this with Banda shortly after he started in 2012. Somehow I don't expect much, if anything, has changed.

There's just too much WRONG with this for me to begin. Is there any wonder that students with IEPs have such dismal educational outcomes? Is it because they are incapable, or did the grownups just expect so very little of them?

Po3 said...

WOW 8:40 start for high school. If Hale can do it, why can't all high schools start later?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Now part of me wants to fight this as we have had our 8:30 AM start time for over a decade."

Dr. Hudson is being gracious enough to not quibble over starting 10 minutes later than that.

Yes, if Hale can do it, why not others? I suspect a fight is brewing (which is sad because, for once, you have an issue that most of the Board support with parental/expert support).

mirmac1 said...

I believe Sealth is also starting at 8:30pm

Charlie Mas said...

Part of the deal struck with the public in the co-location of Denny and Sealth was a promise that the schools would have different start times. So Denny starts at the regular time and Sealth starts later.

mirmac1 said...

Oops, I mean 8:40. My 9th grader is HAPPY!

Anonymous said...

The Friday Memo to the Board is now posted, with the AL Task Force recommendations. As someone else called it, they will be changing the name from APP to HCC, and there will be a new "streamlined version" of the website (not sure what may be lost in that change). What's most interesting is that Tolley writes Policy D12.0, Highly Capable Student programs is in place, despite the policy being officially repealed in April 2013 (and suspended during the first round of APP splits). It was replaced with Policy 2190, yet it doesn't appear to be on the Board policy website.

Repealing Board Policy D12.00

Weird, huh?


Anonymous said...

Perhaps they never voted to repeal Policy D12.0? There is no record of it in Board meeting minutes. The suspension of policy is referenced in a January 2009 Board Action Report:

Rescind the portion of School Board Policy D 12.00 that restricts the number of self-contained highly capable programs to the extent it is incompatible with the Superintendent’s Final Recommendation on capacity management;

• Direct staff to review Policy D 12.00 in light of the adoption of Policy C 56.00 and the recommendations from the recent Accelerated Progress Program audit


Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, you know,if you say something over and over, it becomes so. Or so is the thinking in the district.

Charlie is right; the next month's director community meetings should be to call to that director's attention all that isn't happening, isn't true and isn't done.

Lynn said...


The policy was never suspended or repealed. As you noted, the board voted in January 2009 to repeal a portion of the policy. That might be a surprise to many people - as the policy posted on the board website was never updated to reflect the change.

On May 1, 2013 Shauna Heath brought a new policy to the board for introduction. The meeting minutes indicate that Directors suggested edits be made at the C&I Policy Committee meeting and asked staff to rework the language of the policy. It has not been presented again.

Charlie posted a description of the board meeting that evening titled Board Meeting Reveals Chaos. It's pretty entertaining reading.

Anonymous said...

from an evolutionary perspective, when most of us were toothless and dead by 28 or 33, the up 1/2 the night teenagers were up sneaking around and got a start on that circle of life thing - at the ripe old age of 14 and 15. and then there were those millenia of settled agriculture where the little precious eggs were wrapped in bubble wrap because no one needed them up early to do chores so everyone didn't starve. Ah, the good


Maje said...

@Mom of 4 - at Hazel Wolf we were told several times before school started that the K kids would have a modified schedule the first three days. We were reminded again at Jump Start and a letter was sent home the first day.

If you have any questions, you should definitely call your school's office to get it sorted out. The teachers are back, so someone there should be able to get you an answer.

Charlie Mas said...

Thanks for the reminder, Lynn.

Gee, the Board directed the staff to work on the policy in January of 2009 and it only took them until May of 2013 to bring forward a new one. The one they proposed in May, 2013 is almost identical to the sample policy put out by WSSDA. It only took them four years to copy and paste it.

That policy was sent back for work and it has only been 15 months since then. Based on their track record, I think we can anticipate a second draft sometime around August of 2017.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - the board's policy website has a "Phase II Policy Review" document, and shows 2190 going to the C&I committee in Sept. and Oct., and then to the board in Nov and Dec - but maybe that's just...

Wishful thinking

Anonymous said...

Thanks Maje - I did get it sorted out. My daughter is in a self-contained class, and apparantly WAkids is only for general education classrooms. They just sent us all the info about it anyway anyway (to be "inclusive"), and then never came back and told us it did not apply. So, she starts school on the 3rd, which would have been nice to know before I paid for daycare for that week.

Mom of 4

Reader47 said...

Interesting news out of Louisiana

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal sues Obama over Common Core State Standards

Anonymous said...

More LA woes and training at a poolside resort ! Wine and dine tactics.



Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader47, I saw that. He's pretty tenacious.

PSP, yikes! Your link has now lead me to want to do a new thread on this iPad debacle (if only for lessons learned).

ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ben said...

I'm not sure if its generally true but so far for two different schools I've found the teacher assignments are posted online on the SPS web site if you log in and click on my family.

Anonymous said...

I'm not easily finding a My Family link, and am still unable to log into the powerschools site. Ben, any help for a newer parent on how to find those teacher assignments?

Eager to know

Anonymous said...

Just go to the main Seattle public school district site and there's a login there. Put in your user name and password (mine is the same as for the source, I believe) and you should see My Account and My Family in the left column menu.

- sleuth

Anonymous said...

Wow, Sleuth, I never knew that existed. Thanks for posting - it does show the class assignmentsm, and my kids are asking every day if the letters came yet. Our school is pretty consistent about not getting the letters out until the last minute (last year we got them on the Tuesday berfore school started).

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

Back door to My Family no longer has teacher assignments listed. They found us out!


Anonymous said...


I was able to see the assignments before it was shut down, and I thank you for that tip. I think this is a poignant example of SPS's customer service approach.


mirmac1 said...

I emailed my child's counselor at her new school to avoid scheduling screw ups. No response. They are getting off on the wrong foot with me. ....