Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Guess the percentage of cable news educations guests who are actually educators?  From the Washington Post.

Send this to your legislative reps when they ask, "Where will we find the money for McCleary and 1351?"  From the Puget Sound Business Journal, "Boeing CEO Makes More than his Company Pays in Federal Taxes."  

Well, that didn't take long.  Buried in the Seattle Times Ed Lab comes news that our new City pre-k program WON'T pay for transportation.  And, since our City is largely segregated that will make having the mix of socio-economic backgrounds even more difficult.

They also report that the levy has capital dollars that could help SPS "should the district become a classroom provider for the program."  What's odd is that this isn't new; those capital dollars were already embedded in the levy.  Of course, the City is trying to dangle as much bait as possible in front of the district.  How do capital dollars for preschool classrooms - at this point in time - mean anything to the district when there - is - no - space?

When Library Time Means Screen Time, from the NY Times Motherlode blog.   Is this a problem at your local library?  I can say (as a fairly old person) that libraries are definitely not as quiet as they used to be.  I'm confused why any library allows sound for computer games. 

Inside the World of the Upper East Side Girl Scouts? CNN Money reports.

"So..." prompts Alyssa Moeder, a private wealth adviser at Merrill Lynch by day and the troop's leader at their monthly meetings, "when you buy a stock, you want to buy..." 

"Low!" shout all 14 of the Girl Scouts in unison. The 14-year-olds, clad in a mix of plaid skirts, cable knit and shades of blue nail polish, attend the elite all-girl private school Chapin on East 84th Street in Manhattan, where tuition cost $39,300 this year. 

From Quote/Counterquote, "He remembered poor Scott Fitzgerald and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, ‘The very rich are different from you and me.’ And how someone had said to Scott, Yes, they have more money." Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Killmanjaro.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I know there's a lot of concern among families with kids in Queen Anne schools about the siting of Interagency on QA.

I know there are people working on the issue of communication and transparency from the district. I'd imagine there are also people working to understand any safety concerns, for instance, how is it handled if a kid shows up to school high, or has drugs with her/him at school. These are both important issues....communication and safety.

Apart from those issues, I'm wondering if anyone would like to work with me on developing a supportive community response to the kids themselves, apart from any response to the district.

It can't be easy to overcome addiction, and being in a supportive community within the school walls and in the neighborhood can only help. These kids have potential, and it is in their interest and the interest of their families and the larger community that they believe in themselves and their potential, and that they succeed in their recovery. It's got to be tough to recover from addiction. They are only kids. Let's not give up on them.

It might be as simple as volunteering for the school. My kids are at QAE and McClure, and QAE is crawling with parent volunteers. The elementary schools are awash in QAE we are moving to 1:1...that's an iPad for every kid. And that's not even PTSA money...they are hitting the parents up for that. The PTSA raises a ton of money for all kinds of support for kids, and on top of that there are individuals who will step up and write a check for any project that they think is worthwhile.

I know it's the same at all the neighborhood elementaries. Can we spread a bit of that love to Interagency? I'm thinking of things like volunteering in the school, maybe some school beautification, support of the teachers during teacher appreciation week, things like that.

This is a contrarian opinion, I know that. I'm asking for people who agree, have ideas or want to help to email me @ jbenoit @


Joan Benoit

Melissa Westbrook said...

Joan, thank you for that lovely thought and the outreach.

I recall that when the World School (formerly SBOC) was located in Queen Anne, they received tremendous volunteer support from the community. I remember touring the school and the principal telling me that one reason they didn't want to move was because of the volunteer support.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't understand the complaints. The decision to site this Interagency program at the Queen Anne Gym was disclosed in the Equitable Access to Programs and Services quarterly report. That report appeared as a couple of paragraphs in the Teaching and Learning letter portion of the October 17 Friday Memo.

There you go. Fully disclosed with all of the community engagement that the Board requires.

The rationale for the move will be provided in January - or not.

The staff will get away will whatever the Board allows them to get away with, which is everything.

Watching said...

Nyland signed the Gates grant, which is valued at $750K, on 9/26/14. According to documents, it appears the district received an installment of $250K during the month of October 2014. As we know, board policy requires grants of $250K and above to receive board approval.

I'm hearing the Bailey Gatzert prek classroom is ready to go. Were Gates dollars used for this endeavor? Were Family and Ed. dollars used for this project? According to Carr, if K-12 funds were used, this would be considered a public gift.

It appears that Nyland has violated board policy and in a way that involves three quarters of a million dollars.

As I see it, the board's main tool would be to fire him. Are there any procedures in place that would foster discipline and or create a paper trail?

The best prediction of future action is past actions. I'm very concerned about an individual that would engage in this type of behavior.

Anonymous said...


What a great idea - and I know it would get a lot of support from those in the QA community that have not been as visible in some of the dialogue that has been occurring here and in other press.

I'd suggest going to the upcoming community informational meeting and reaching out to the Interagency School leadership and staff with your idea and asking how they'd like to be supported. Once you have that information, I think it will be easier to get the volunteers and other support that they need.


Old Friend said...

Joani Benoit is a wonderful person and I'm glad to see her offering support to the students within Interagency. These kids need all the help they can get, and I'm confident community love and support will go a long way towards helping these young children and adults heal.

Joani is on the right path.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, I have filed a public disclosure request around the info on the Gates Foundation grant. Let's see if the money got into the account in October (and fyi, that would be an Alliance for Ed grant because ALL Gates grants go there - presumably so the Alliance can get their cut of dollars).

Anonymous said...

A few unrelated questions-

- What's going on with the Beacon Hill test tampering investigation?

- Will the district be doing a middle school math adoption soon?


Interesting said...

"Well, that didn't take long. Buried in the Seattle Times Ed Lab comes news that our new City pre-k program WON'T pay for transportation. And, since our City is largely segregated that will make having the mix of socio-economic backgrounds even more difficult."

The BERK report wanted students to be transported. Perhaps this portion has been taken out of the city plan, or does the city want to place those children on SPS busses? Transportation costs SPS tens of millions of dollars each year.

I've read the attached article and here is what a commenter had to say: "Dear Mayor Murray,

you and councilmember Burgess said you didn't need any space from the Seattle School District for this preschool program. Now you are saying you are willing to "help the district with capital costs should the district become the provider". You cant have it both ways."

It is interesting to note that the Godfather of prek- Tim Burgess- thanked voters for their support and told them that prek space was not required within SPS.

Nyland violated board policy, signed the Gates contract, and, it appears the district received $250k before the board voted on the Gates grant. What would have happened if the board rejected this contract? Is it any wonder Nyland was calling languge within the contract "unfortunate? Nyland could not turn back the clock.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Could Nyland's signing of the contract we considered an ethics violation?. If the Board is encouraging him to neglect policy then things are going to get real bad real soon...

Anonymous said...

Gawd what a depressing year this is already shaping up to be.

More than anything, our city's lack of meaningful, efficient transportation options will lead us into further segregation for the next two decades. And, by the time we have meaningful, efficient transportation reaching each neighborhood and corridor, gentrification will have pushed out thousands of more poor kids and families.

You'd think the hyper-PC eggheads in City government would be all over this. But they're too busy demonizing automobiles, ticketing garbage violations, and sucking up to developers at photo ops to smell the coffee. (Ironic in Seattle, I know.)

And who doesn't love the Nanny State, when you get to be the Nanny? Reminds me of someone else, referencing dictatorships. Hmm, anyways.

But this is why I support strong neighborhood schools and extra support for the schools with the greatest needs, versus the old choice system where everyone who could bail out and run off elsewhere did, leaving the malignancies in place for decades. Now, because kids are forced to attend school X, the district has to deal with issues instead of just handing out a ticket to another school, then going back to reading the sports page.

Let's be wise enough to know that we can demand equity and talk about it a lot, while realizing that the best yields in any given school come from the efforts of the humans actually doing the work: Teachers, Parents & Kids. The suits downtown? Talking heads, nothing more.

Equity? Tell me how we can ever truly expect such a thing in a one newspaper town with that one newspaper funded by, and slanted in favor of, a handful of local billionaires? Ain't never gonna happen. Equity? As long as it's their version, got it?

But will their toady pols kiss babies in front of the cameras? Oh hell yes! Never miss an opportunity to troll for votes! And if you question anything they do, then you are short-changing kids, you meanies! STUDENTS FIRST! (w/finger quotes)

Big Ed Reform is here, folks. It conquered Seattle by sliding in on the millions of greenbacks from our local one-percenters. First the Charter vote, then the pre-school vote, and right now in Olympia more LEV/Stand For Children union-busting, teacher-disrespecting "teacher accountability and quality" legislation that will drive more of our best, long-term educators from the classrooms.

Congrats to all those who want free preschool for their kids. But IMHO, you weren't very careful about what you wished for, and you let the Trojan Horse through the gate. Beware the Frankenstein's monster that either doubles your property tax bills over the next decade, or raises your rent to help your landlord pay his escalating tax bill, while training, do not say "educating," another generation of kids to sit in front of screens designing games for other kids to sit in front of screens and play with other kids sitting in front of screens all day. How long before those pre-schoolers are on computers and tablets most of the day? Remember: We don't educate lab rats at universities; we experiment on them. Beware your data!

I take a look at all of this bleakness and commercialization of public education that has failed in city after sitting throughout the US, except for profiting millionaires and billionaires, and all I can do is grieve for my kids futures. I do not like where this is all going. Not one bit.


Concerned said...

"Could Nyland's signing of the contract we considered an ethics violation?. "

Very good question. I hope this idea gets traction

There are governmental and business groups that want the power to hire the superintendent. It is worth watching the manner in which the Gates prek grant went down..and I can understand why some want the power to hire the superintendent. Imagine what they can slip under the rug!!

Anonymous said...

As a tax payer and parent of SPS students I do place a lot of the blame on SPS for not attending to its problems in and out of the classroom. There are some great teachers and some really bad ones.

Principles should be able to control the quality of the teachers and those teachers should report to the principle not the union. There should be solid training available to teachers and smaller class loads.

Teachers and principles should not allow the district administrators to run amok like what has happened for the last 10 years. SPS has lost all credibility due to the numerous administration failures.

I would like to see administration cost cut by 30% and those funds put into the classrooms.

I would support the teachers and a strike if they would step up and do the right thing.

The control hierarchy of SPS need to be retooled unless you what city control and charter school to become a reality.

Maybe we the people should elect the super since they seem to be the bottleneck for solving problems at SPS. The board is just a nuance at this point.

SPS taxpayer.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Teachers do report to the principal. What evidence do you have they don't?

Well, we all support PD and we just voted in 1351.

If you know how teachers and principals to not allow district administrators to run "amok" please, let us in on how that is done.

Also, Charlie has advocated for electing a superintendent.

As I said elsewhere, I predict the Board will be pressured to put off the superintendent search and give Nyland a six-month extension.

Anonymous said...

On the loss of the Latin teacher at GHS -not to beat a dead horse but students enrolled in Latin with the expectation of 3 full yrs on their transcript. That is now impossible due to circumstances beyond the control of the students. How is the District going to mitigate this for those who are currently in the college application process? My suggestion is that the Superintendent should write and sign a letter that those students include with transcripts sent to colleges. This letter from the Sup. should explain GHS students inability to complete 3 or 4 full years of Latin due to funding issues -again beyond the students control. The loss of funds resulted in the loss of the GHS teacher to GHS.

I will send a letter to the Superintendent and Board if anyone from GHS believes it will be helpful.


Lynn said...

I find last week's Friday Memo very irritating.

In it I learned that neither Interim Superintendent Nyland nor his staff know the difference between the words insure and ensure. (Unless there is an insurer who will write a policy to cover our costs when we over-staff our schools. Which would be awesome!) I also learned that he does not know what APP stands for. Unless he thinks those first graders in APP@Lincoln are actually taking college level courses. Finally, I learned that his definition of "fair" is different than mine.

He says We have applied our staffing fairly – Garfield will continue to have one teacher more than their enrollment dictates. To me, that would indicate that the Weighted Staffing Standards were followed in making all decisions related to staffing adjustments. Not to Dr. Nyland.

When the WSS was applied to October Enrollment numbers, the result was a net 61 FTE pull that would have affected 76 schools. Schools had applied earlier for increased staffing mitigation of 25.5 FTE for various reasons. This reduced the positions to be pulled to a net of 35.5 FTE. It appears that this is where the negotiations started. How many positions would be cut? Which schools would get to keep their excess staff? Which schools would have to live with the published staffing standards? In the end, this secret working group decided to cut 12 positions and add 6.9. The board heard a different story. They were not told about the 26 other FTE that were not cut.

That is Dr. Nyland's idea of applying the rules fairly.

Patrick said...

I wouldn't want the super to be elected. We should still have a board. But! The board should be expected to work full time and paid a reasonable salary, say 80% as much as city council members. Elections should be held in even years when there's higher turnout.

RosieReader said...

Joan, I hope your generous and supportive point of view blossoms and grows.

This morning I read a story on the Interagency School location in the Queen Anne/Magnolia newspaper. The parents quoted, including the woman who started the on-line petition, sounded completely over the top. The woman who started petition claimed she "was shocked. I was really shocked." Some parents went so far as to say that if it happened, their families would move. There was much vague talk about "safety concerns" in language that was completely alarmist, and completely devoid of any factual support. It made the parents sound like they were completely over the edge, and I think the article was trying to be very supportive of the parents and did not intend to leave such a negative impression.

Tina Podlowski suggests that the community (presumably the QA community) should be able to decide how to use the school, perhaps for a school or community gym. Ignoring the reality that schools are bursting at the seams across the District and it's only going to get worse in coming years.

It plays into an awful lot of stereotypes when QA parents go over the top with hyperbole and calls for special treatment. The bottom line is that 10 SPS kids in recovery going to school next to an elementary school.

I wonder how many people in recovery live in the condos in the old Queen Anne High School? Or within a 2 block radius of John Hay. Or are parents in the John Hay community?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rosie, no kidding, a bit much.

A competitive re-entry program for teens - from your own area - and you don't want that "negative element." Where's the compassion?

And it's not a "rumor" there could be 80 kids; I was told that is the capacity. They only have 10 right now.

There is also the assumption that because these kids have a soberity issue that they are also criminals.

"They have seen a lot of unsolved thefts and burglaries during their time on Queen Anne."

News flash - that's happening everywhere. Haven't they read the reports in the Times? I hear about cars getting broken into all the time where I live and I don't think it's the kids at Roosevelt doing it.

I agree the district, once again, did a poor job on communications.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of things in motion over the SPED data breach. Can't say what they are except that more fire power(national)is coming and forming a common front against the district for its sloppy practices. I'm sure it will be public late Monday or Tuesday.

SPS don't get too comfortable with your hollow victory!

connect thedots

Anonymous said...

Dear Families,

As indicated in our last two letters to parents, our outside law firm mistakenly released records on more than 7,400 Special Education students district wide and as well as records on regular education students from Roosevelt High School.

Since that time we have taken the following actions:

Terminated the law firm working on this case
Sent a preliminary letter to you indicating the kinds of records released by mistake
Gone to court to recover the records from the one individual who has them

As reported in the last letter, we don’t believe that the person holding those records has given the records to anyone else. He has been ordered to destroy those records and certify to the judge that he has done so.

Again, there is no indication the student information has been given to any other individuals.

The district has also been working to identify the specific information released for each individual student. This will take some time to review these records, student by student.

We are also working to prevent such errors in the future. Several departments met today to discuss steps to prevent inappropriate releases in the future.

You can find updates and additional information as it becomes available at:

I apologize again for this error. I sincerely regret the disclosure of personal and sensitive student information.

Dr. Larry Nyland
Interim Superintendent


Anonymous said...

Joan: 'This is a contrarian opinion, I know that.'

Joan, thank you for expressing this opinion.

The thing I hope everyone sees is that a troubled kid enrolled in Interagency means they are there for support, to move in a good direction.

We all want transparency and a voice. Some want it more than others and are heard more often. The QA parents who are afraid or want control (call it transparency i.e. the illusion that they decide), might want to remember that disasters like dropping out, crime, drug abuse, sexual assault, can happen to any kid. It might even happen to one of their own.

I never imagined my child would go to Interagency. My gifted language learner who started teaching herself 3 languages, who does Khan Academy chemistry for fun. Never in my wildest dreams. I'm grateful for the support and respect she received at Interagency. This is one of the things our district does right.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Connectthedots, I've been working this issue as well. Student data privacy matters.

" Terminated the law firm working on this case"

But did they pull ALL cases from this firm or just the one?

POOF, where is this letter, I can't find it. Was this sent to parents (and was it e-mail or snail mail)?

The DOE letter does not say the same things.

Anonymous said...

You can't un-stir the jam from the pudding! One false move and I press send!

connect thedots

longhouse said...

"Could Nyland's signing of the contract we considered an ethics violation?. "

This is hilarious because Special Ed Director McWilliams is gone (apparently permanently but who reallly knows) for doing pretty much exactly the same thing, but on a much smaller scale.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I found your gmail address and I sent on the email to you.

Grateful reader

Anonymous said...

Theses are to be considered assumptions,

"we don’t believe that the person holding those records has given the records to anyone else"

"Again, there is no indication the student information has been given to any other individuals. "

What's more important is where did the original emails with the sensitive attachments land, district employees personal laptops? Personal smart phones? forwarded out of district?

The problem was/is someone wasn't smart enough to know NOT to send out the documents district wide via unsecured email. Then someone in SPS legal wasn't smart enough to know to check the information before sending it out unsecured to the law firm, and then the lawyers at the law firm where not smart enough to check, twice!

Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest

Like I said you can't un-stir the jam from the pudding.

connect thedots

Po3 said...

Wow, those parents against the Recovery School are just awful.

Irony is that the odds of drug and/or alcohol use and/or abuse touching their lives when their children become teens are about 100%...and one of them may actually need a program like this to save their child's life.

Anonymous said...

Ok since the district sent out the announcement, we all know they called a conference with the ALJ and convinced the ALJ to issue an order for deletion of magnetic signatures on a platter...wait she only asked for the delete button to be clicked.

It sure sounds like she doesn't understand how file systems work? I already see an end run around her order. Did she ask for the operators of the mail servers to delete their back-ups?...nope could she...nope

I wouldn't put it past someone to release the documents again and try to blame it on the plaintiff after all he did make a lot of people look really stupid and possibly cost someone their job!


Anonymous said...

Is a possible six-month contract extension intended to allow Murray and minions to hire a "superintendent" to head his new Department of Education? Holly Miller surely wouldn't do. Carmella Dellino would be slightly more suitable, but...


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why the district wants to add 4 portables at Laurelhurst elementary?

I thought the school has been struggling with under enrollment.


Anonymous said...

Not sure but try here :


Julie said...

On Monday, November 24th the board will evaluate the Superintendent. Will the results of this evaluation be made public?

I would like to see the board address the issue of the Nyland violating board policy and signing an agreement with the Gates Foundation for $750K without board approval.

IMO, this action should disqualify Nyland from any hiring within Seattle Public Schools. He has proven himself to be untrustworthy.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Step J, that is very weird. I'll see what I can find out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Melissa. I found it odd as well. None of the references detail why the district wants to add 4 portables to a school with declining enrollment.


Jill G said...

Joan, Melissa et al, thank you for your voice and ideas on the Interagency school. I want to come out publicly in support of this school and join you in finding a voice to welcome and support the kids and their families. I will send e-mail soon.
Jill G

Meg said...

Laurelhurst's enrollment spiked to 504 students in 2009-10, but for the last decade has mostly fluctuated between 400-450. The spike was probably due to redistribution of kids after closures, although I don't know that for sure.

If the district is adding more portables, I would guess there will be a boundary redraw because one or more of the neighboring schools can't add any more portables. The NE has a pretty acute seat shortage.

2014-15: 427
2013-14: 410
2012-13: 420
2011-12: 437
2010-11: 464
2009-10: 504
2008-09: 448
2007-08: 451
2006-07: 425

Most recently listed capacity number that I have seen: 429. 4 portables would bump that up by appx 100.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Meg for the numbers.

Our family is near the school often in the summer to attend baseball games at Laurelhurst park across the street.

The addition of 4 portables as described in the article from the Laurelhurst blog would completely remove the open space on the playgrounds. All that would be left is the play structures. So, no kickball, football, flyers, foursquare, basketball, or any other open space activity.

I know if my kids don't move around during the day they just can't concentrate.

Overall, it seems like an odd unexplained move by the district.

It does seem each sector is experiencing odd, unexplained and foggy actions from the district. Some with tragic outcomes such as in the SE. But really... mucking with a kids education is tragic all on its own.

What the flip is going on?


Melissa Westbrook said...

"Some with tragic outcomes such as in the SE."

What is this in reference to?

RosieReader said...

Queen Anne's educators and administrators fully support the Interagency School on Queen Anne.

Joe Wolf said...

Reply to StepJ:

The District isn't planning to add four portables to Laurelhurst. They are planning to add one. The three portables most "recently" installed on the campus - modifying the term since this history goes back as far as I do - also violate the lot coverage percentage rule. (Editorial comment: This ball was dropped at the City for a very long tine.)

Sidebar: The group formed at Laurelhurst to frame a position on the Departure request has decided to oppose it. So, by inference they are opposing a new, additional homeroom that everyone agrees will be needed in 2015-16, without offering a viable alternative. Nice.

Anonymous said...


Have you done an analysis of the number of portables needed to support the Seattle Preschool Program?

Careto Share

Anonymous said...

Did the Garfield gymnasts ever find a home?


Anonymous said...

The GHS gymnasts will not be competing this year.

Really bad deal for the very talented Senior on the team that has a shot at competing in college...

-GHS Gymnastics Parent

Joe Wolf said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you Joe for that information. It is sounding like a big upswing in attendance for Laurelhurst in 2015-2016?

Melissa: I was thinking about the nine (?) year old that was struck by a car crossing MLK. And then the person with a knife trying to abduct kids who were walking home, when they previously had a bus. On daylight thought though - not really apples to the portables oranges.


Lynn said...


Here's a schedule of projected classrooms for 2014-15. You'll see that while Laurelhurst has only 2 5th grade classrooms, they have three classrooms each in K-2. If there are three K classes next year, they'll need another classroom.