Friday, September 05, 2014

Seattle Schools Updates


In my original thread, I mentioned that "several" staffers are to go on a trip to Toronto for an Asian American Alliance.  Now I get a press release - again, on info from the earlier thread - about who is going to the White House to represent SPS for a discussion about SPS' PE programs.  It's Superintendent Nyland.

It seems the invitation was just for superintendents from districts who have programs that are working well to share ideas (SPS' being PE).  I'm sure that despite the Superintendent being so new that staff will have him well-prepped for questions and, of course, he may come back with many good ideas from other districts.

As well, on the story of a student getting hit by a car in Wallingford today:
- it is a 7th grader
- he was being treated and would be released today

From SPS Communications:

There were also new flashing lights installed within the past week on 43rd/Stone as another safe crossing option for students. This came at the request of parents. This (incident) is on the other side of the schools, opposite of the accident intersection. 

End of updates

From last Friday's "Friday Memo" from the Superintendent

Here's something interesting from the press conference with the Mayor that included Superintendent Nyland.  The Superintendent referenced a "taskforce" about African-American student outcomes.  I was a bit puzzled but the Friday memo from the Superintendent has the "African-American Think Tank" as working on these issues.  What's troubling is that the Superintendent has stated that test scores are going up except for AA males and Native American students.  Why is there not a "Native American Think Tank" just for academic issues?

Didn't know but a thank you to Office Depot that provided 1,000 "sackpacks" (slimmer backpacks) with school supplies to SPS.

Meeting with the Mayor: Sharon, Betty, Charles and I met with the Mayor and his Chief of Staff last week to discuss the many areas of common interest that we share between the City and the District. The Mayor responded with details regarding our partnership and how we can continue to develop that relationship.

Clover Codd checked again on our waiver request with the US Department of Education. They confirmed that they have not yet said NO and are still reviewing requests.

The White House has invited Seattle to be one of about two dozen physical education programs to be recognized in Washington DC on September 15th. Good job, PE teachers and staff.  I wonder if the district will send a teacher or a staffer.

Asian American Alliance: I don’t have quite the right name yet for this organization. Seattle has been part of a global alliance for the past several years – one of the passions of Karen Kodama and Michael DeBell. This is a year of transition for us. Their fall meeting is in Toronto. Kelly Aramaki, along with several others, will represent us. I am unable to attend but, after talking with Sharon, am hopeful that Stephan Blanford may be able to attend. Seattle is a leader in focusing on 21st century skills needed for students to survive and thrive in a global world. 

I'm sorry but just like the preschool junket, I do not understand why the district cannot be represented by just one staff member and just one Board member. Wonder where the money is coming from for this trip so "several others" can attend.

Other Updates:

Nominations to School-Family Partnerships Advisory Committee are open

Seattle Public Schools is accepting nominations to its School-Family Partnerships Advisory Committee (SFPAC) to the Superintendent. The SFPAC will consist of up to 35 parents/guardians and family members representing the diverse population of the District. To be considered for the SFPAC, those interested should complete and submit the nomination form (below) by Friday, September 19, 2014.

From the Mayor's Office:  

Middle and High School students (ages 13-19 year olds): Seattle Youth Commission

The Seattle Youth Commission is a group of 25 Seattleites aged 13-19 from all over the city who are appointed by the Mayor and City Council to connect youth to their elected officials.

Youth Commission Information and Application.  Deadline to apply is September 15th


Jet City mom said...

We need a reminder citywide that school is now in session and watch where you are going.
A student at Hamilton was hit this morning, in the crosswalk at 40th & Wallingford.
He was taken to the hospital, but expected to recover.
If people are this careless now, whats going to happen when it is dark/rainy?

Anonymous said...

Seattle is a leader in focusing on 21st century skills needed for students to survive and thrive in a global world.

Who gave that quote? Nyland? Because it is bunk, pure and simple. Seattle is highly limited in its language immersion programs, does not offer world class STEM immersion at any level (minus maybe a couple of elementaries)(no, Cleveland is not world class although it is trying) is far behind in hands on tech training in high school (those CTE centers are a bunch of talk and not much enrollment). It has very little tie in with the world class universities sitting in its backyard. It doesn't recognize asynchronous gifted kids - who are highly likely to be the ones who innovate in their adult lives, if they can just make it through their education. It offers students very little training at a systemic level on the world of multiculturalism (I get it that NOVA and some teachers at individual schools do their best...but that's not 'systemic') and has a paltry teaching staff of non-white educators.

On the positive side it's got a couple of good high school IB programs and a few excellent high school academy-type offerings at Garfield and Ballard. It takes almost no advantage of the wealth of talent employed at the 21st Century employers based in and around Seattle. Talent that would love to engage with school kids.

We live in a 21st Century city, but the failure of SPS to begin to approach growing our kids into adults who can thrive within and also propagate the possibilities here is one of the biggest failings of SPS. (Failure to keep kids baseline safe at school and school functions being the top of the failure list at the moment.)

I'm sorry for the rant, but I simply cannot bear it when SPS spouts pr fluff that is the complete opposite of the reality. Because then staff and the public believes their own fluff and nothing gets better here. SPS is mediocrity defined, compared to what a 21st Century city should be offering in its public education system.


Anonymous said...

EdVoter, totally agree with you. The bits of goodness in this area that SPS has developed (or the immediate communities themselves have developed) are only available to a few. How many other elementary parents are interested in language immersion, or at least more language training in elementary than the paltry sum provided? How many other high school parents are interested in IB or academies, but cannot access it? Technology seems to be very much dependent on how wealthy your PTA is.

That statement is fantasy for so many of the kids in the district and only reality for a few of the lucky (and I do not begrudge them this at all).


Anonymous said...

Why is the Friday memo referencing academic achievement matters without reference to students with special needs? Did he forget? Did Tolley's slide show actually not include trends and issues for students with special needs? Why is this information not important enough for Nylund to reflect on? The Friday memo has no reference all to activities relating to special education. If that is not the elephant in the living room, I don't know what is.


Anonymous said...


Agreed that there is no begrudging of the families within the system who have accessed the paltry 21st Century Skillbuilding the district does offer. Although, I am constantly amazed by the number of parents who do little or nothing for the greater system beyond their own kid. A system needs both professionals AND community insisting on better for ***ALL***.

You also reminded me of two other nonstarters within 21st Century skills. Our schools systemically are decades! behind in the integration of technology in the classroom. Not years. Decades. And, as NPR just reminded me, our ELL programs are not even close to as robust as they need to be in a 21st Century city. ELL needs are going to explode in the next decade(s) and is there advanced planning for it in SPS? No. Absolutely not. ELL, by the way, does not necessarily equate with children of poverty. Not in a city attracting professionals from all over the world.

You know, the more I type, the more I'm getting really outraged at the "Seattle is a leader" statement. It's glib, trite, in denial, flat out wrong.


Anonymous said...

Finally the mayor is paying attention to the youth commission.


Joe Wolf said...

Heads-up: Richard and I are going to the Council of Educational Facilities Planners, International (CEFPI) annual conference in Portland October 2-6.


Eva worked some minor miracle and got me into the host hotel. Otherwise rooms in central PDX are very spendy.

Anonymous said...

The "Asian American Alliance" is actually Asia Society, a nonprofit whose recent education work has focused on educating for global competence. They also have an initiative called the Global Cities Education Network. There have been three meetings of representatives from 10 cities in North America and Asia over the past two years. The meeting in Toronto next month will be the fourth. The cities include Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Melbourne, Toronto, Denver, Houston, Lexington (KY), and Seattle. There are highly respected researchers like Linda Darling Hammond (Stanford) who facilitate the meetings. The idea is that the cities discuss shared problems of practice in their systems and take back ideas that can be adapted and implemented. You can view some of the reports that have come out of the first few meetings here:

@EdVoter and @Fedmomof2 You're right, that the 10 international schools (roughly 10% of SPS) do not meet the demands for dual language immersion and global learning that currently exist. The district added a fifth k-5 dual language program this year (Dearborn Park), but waiting lists for international schools (particularly k-5) are long. The problem is larger than the district's lack of systemic support for international education. When you build programs, you need to be able to find enough qualified bilingual teachers. There are larger statewide policy issues that need to be addressed - we are not preparing enough dual language teachers to staff the immersion programs that currently exist.

I get the sense that the general public knows very little about what international education in SPS entails. There are some great things going on in our international schools. EdVoter is right that none of it is systemic across the district, but it's certainly not all fluff. The work with Asia Society and the Global Cities Education Network has been led by a small group of staff, administrators, and teachers who care about advancing global education in our district. Our district has a lot to learn about the types of systemic changes that the Global Cities reports suggest about professional learning systems for teachers, vocational education, and other topics. None of it can be accomplished in a 5-year strategic plan or a 3-year grant-funded initiative that comes and goes (or in a central office with revolving doors). Some of the other cities in the network, particularly Singapore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, commit to long-term planning (20-30 years). And in general, they are reducing the amount of high stakes testing. If a few high level SPS staff go to the meeting in Toronto, that would expose them to some powerful ideas that challenge how we do things in Seattle. I see that as a positive.

International School Teacher

Anonymous said...

@ International School Teacher

Thanks for this information. It lets me know that at least a few front line professionals in the SPS system are thoughtful on the subject. But the lack of big picture leadership from staff and board and civic leaders is absolutely maddening, and it won't ever get better with a superintendent mouthing platitudes that are flat out false.