Thursday, December 31, 2015

Things to Do Today with the Kids

Sorry I didn't see this sooner but Seattle Public Library has a host of things to do with kids this last day of 2016 at various branches including movie shorts, games and crafts.

Of course, it is a beautiful day (but cold) day so there's that.  (I'm going to see Amy Schumer tonight.  For some reason, when a famous person is in town, I'm always happy when it's good weather so it shows off our beautiful region.)

A couple of things I have learned thru this difficult year:

- it's the little things
- it's little daily victories
- you DO get by with a little help from your friends (and family)
Best wishes to all for a safe and peaceful 2016 (with some joy and happiness thrown in.) 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Carnac the Magnificent or a New Year's Wish - Which Will It Be?

You either get to be Carnac the Magnificent and make a prediction for public education in our state/district OR you get to put forth your most hoped-for wish for our district/state for 2016.  The sky's the limit.
(And if you are too young to know who Carnac was, good for you.)

Let's hear 'em.

Policy 3208, Sexual Harassment Annual Report

Here's the latest in a recurring topic.

School Board policy 3208, Sexual Harassment, requires an annual report.
The Superintendent shall make an annual report to the Board reviewing the use and efficacy of this policy and related procedures. Recommendations for changes to this policy, if applicable, shall be included in the report. The Superintendent is encouraged to involve staff, students, and volunteers and parents in the review process.
I have written to the Board on numerous occasions over the past two years - since the NatureBridge incident - asking for this annual report. Every time before that I have asked for it, I have been told that no such report has ever been made.

That story just changed. I just got an email from the Board office saying that the report has been made. How did I miss it? Because the claim is pretty weak.


Yoo Hoo, Washington Legislature (and Governor Inslee)



I was just in Minnesota - great place with good education.  (Funny thing - in my sister's city, they have an out-of-retirement superintendent running their district.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hmm, about those October Counts

Today I received a notice about the kick-off for the Seattle Schools levies via Schools First.  They also asked for money to help support and run the campaign.  But they started out saying:

Fifty-two thousand students in Seattle’s public schools need our help.

And I thought, "What? That's not the number of kids in SPS."

So I went to the district's Fast Facts and here's what it says:

Ignite Yourself (or something like that)

I normally don't publicize events or Ed Lab stories from the Times.  (We're not fans of each other and I'll leave it at that although I have enjoyed working with a number of ed reporters there.)

But, in the interest of my readers perhaps having a great public education idea AND wanting to get it out there, here's the details on an upcoming Times event.  Basically, you send in an idea for a 5-minute talk/slideshow. 

Scholarship Opportunity

Via Director Leslie Harris, the Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship

The Seattle Public Library Foundation is pleased to announce the Stimson Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship Competition. High school seniors and undergraduate students who live, work or attend school in Seattle are invited to participate.

Tuesday Open Thread

A lot to catch up on so here we go.

The latest interactive map on our geographically challenged city is out from Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management. Check your home, office and especially, your child's school.   This is not a scare tactic but to get people to think about and get prepared for a natural disaster in our area.

Uh oh, the Times is reporting that Washington is one of 12 states whose test-participation rate was lower than 95% and the state could face federal sanctions because of it.  Washington had about a 91% test rate, mostly because of high school juniors (grades 3-8 were fine.)  Among the sanctions, schools and districts have to prove a plan on how they will get those rates up.

Common Core Revealed: the Bad and the Ugly (Jury's out on the Good)

Fortune Magazine
Fortune magazine has a special report that came out this week on Common Core - Business Gets Schooled. It provides a window into the thinking of big business and public education and folks, it is, by turns, sad and horrific.  This being Fortune, they kind of "tsk tsk" but more over the naviete of some (see Bill Gates) than what these titans of industry say about children and learning.

Please - if you don't read the article, don't read my entire thread - scroll down to read what Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil has to say to you as parents about your children. (I'll highlight it in red.)

What's equally fascinating is that any dissent mentioned in the article by ordinary folks gets the "blogger moms" attitude with a complete brush-off of what noted education experts have said about CC.  It's like all the dissenters are just the anonymous, ignorant and unwashed masses.  You know, the little people.

They also chose to leave out who really wrote those standards (hint: it wasn't educators.)

The main takeaway from Fortune:

When Exxon Mobil, GE, Intel, and others pushed for the education standards, they incurred the wrath of Tea Party conservatives and got a painful lesson in modern politics. 

To CEOs, the issue has always been a no-brainer. In an increasingly global economy, what sense does it make for America to have 50 different sets of education standards? 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Why I Won't Be Debating Charter Schools for the Next Couple of Months

Lately at the blog, my observation is that much of the discussion around charter schools is about whether they are useful, not useful, take resources from other public schools, etc.

I'm not going to be talking about those issues any longer. Why? Two reasons.

1) From some comments, I get the feeling there are some charter supporters (employees?) who are here to stir the pot and/or waste my time. Mind you, I do recognize several names of long-time readers who disagree with me on charter schools and that's fine.

However, my stand on charters is clear and unchanged. I have done my research, I have visited some charters and I feel my opinion has been created on a solid foundation. If you disagree, again fine, but you won't be changing my mind.

(To note, I separate charter school supporters/funders from charter school families. I don't believe the thinking or knowledge base or agenda is the same in both groups.)

2) Like the Supreme Court, I am not here to argue the merits of charter schools.

Director Community Meeting Today with Rick Burke

From Director Burke:

I'm having a meeting today, Monday, Dec. 28th at the Greenwood Public Library from 6:30 to 7:45 PM. 

Sorry about the short notice, but I just booked this last-minute because I wanted to hold a community meeting before the Jan 6th Board Meeting. Approval of school CSIPs are up for action, Acceptance of ORCA card grant from City of Seattle and near-term capacity management actions are up for introduction on the 6th. Of course, anything is up for discussion and I'm happy to hear your ideas for improving the district.

Please also share feedback about whether midweek evenings or weekends are preferred for future Community Meetings. If you can't make this meeting but want to bend my ear about anything, please let me know at rick.burke@seattleschools.org.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Work Session on Strategic Plan: Not As I Thought

This will be a bit rough as I am writing it on the fly.  I feel this is important to get out, though. because it has information on the thinking of every single Board member AND marks a significant change from previous Work Sessions.

Previously, I had heralded this Work Session as "vital"  and I continue to believe that but the meeting itself did not play out as I thought.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Charter school proponents, a thread for you

I am very glad to see that a number of charter school proponents have been active on this blog.

That's wonderful. We all benefit from an open discussion that includes a variety of perspectives.

It's true that Melissa and I both find charter schools an unnecessary distraction that detracts from public education, and it is also true that a large proportion of those who read this blog share that view.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wishing you Safe and Happy Holidays

https://globallivingrealty.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/fannie-freddie-will-freeze-foreclosures-for-the-holidays.jpgThe blog is going to be powering down for a bit.  We all need a break to enjoy our families and our holiday traditions.  No open thread this week unless I see some breaking news to get out to you.

I am told there is a Christmas Eve  event in the sky (seriously).  Newsweek is reporting:

On Christmas Eve, a gargantuan asteroid is on track to be visible from our planet via telescope.
But not to worry: There’s no danger of a Christmas Day apocalypse. The 3-kilometer-long asteroid (named 163899, or 2003 SD220) will be sailing by at a safe distance of 6.7 million miles.

Also of interest, there will be a rare full moon before the sun comes up on Christmas Day.  It's the first full moon since 1977 so Santa and all the reindeer will be able to see the way very clearly.  

Washington State Fight between Fully-Funding Public Ed and Charter Schools

Let's start with charters.

You may recall the "yet another faux ed reform group" called Act Now for Washington Students.  This group is organized by the usual suspects - LEV, Stand for Children, DFER and the Washington State Charter Schools Association.  All these get money from the Gates Foundation.

They have formed a PAC that hopes to raise (and presumably spend) $500,000 just for this legislative session to influence legislators on charter schools.  They have already spent $20K on 13 House members (each got $1,000) including Seattle's charter cheerleader, Eric Pettigrew.  This is in addition to the number of print and tv ads running.  It is not cheap to run a local ad during football Sunday. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Common Core Updates

(Editor's note: I seem to recall that some were saying that "Common Core was here to stay." Read on.)

This reads like it's from The Onion but nope, it's from the NY Times regarding a taskforce that Governor Cuomo of New York created around Common Core:

Dorn's Statement on Inslee's Supplemental Budget

The state must stop relying on school districts to pass local levies to fund the elements of basic education.

Two words - not impressed.

This is not to say that the Superintendent dissed the Governor.  No, he liked:

Inslee does fund some increases to Jobs for Washington’s Graduates, CorePlus, Career and Technical Education, Healthiest Next Generation initiative, language access for families and discipline equity. And he did raise beginning teacher salaries and increase funding for  mentoring to help decrease our state’s teacher shortage.

City Council Committees

Just an FYI, courtesy of the Stranger Slog.

Next year, along with becoming council president, Harrell will chair the Education, Equity, and Governance Committee, a new spin on what's now called the Education and Governance Committee. 

Bruce Harrell is the new president of the City Council AND will head the committee overseeing education.  The Vice-Chair is Lorena Gonzalez, Debora Juarez, Member and Tim Burgess, Alternate. That is not the line-up I would want to see if public education in Seattle is to continue operating independently, but in partnership with, the City.

Harrell cares about public ed but between his new presidency and the fact he's not the most active City Councilman, I worry about who will really be directing that committee.  Given that the Vice-Chair is closely connected to the Mayor, I have to wonder.

I also wanted to mention the conversation I had with the Mayor recently.  It was at a holiday event so it was not lengthy. 

Friday Open Thread

From Chief Sealth Int'l High School:

Many people have asked if there was a way to help support the family of Christy Phu, the Sealth student who was killed last week.

Here is the link to the fund if you would like to contribute.


There was a fire early this morning at 15th Ave NE and NE 65th (right by Roosevelt High.)  This is right by my house so I was aware this was going on.  SPS is saying that Roosevelt will start on time.

(Update: the Times is reporting that 15th Ave NE/NE65th will be closed in all directions for several hours.  I know this is an early release day for the holidays so take note of this if you are coming in this direction. Metro routes are being detoured around the fire.  And yes, it was one of the Sisley slums.  Of course.)

Governor Inslee's supplemental budget proposal reflects raising the salary for starting teachers to $40,000 per year.  From The Capitol Record:

That increase is in addition to the 4.8% cost-of-living adjustment already worked into the current budget. Teachers with more experience, along with administrative and classified staff, would also get a raise of at least one-percent. 

To pay for the raises, Gov. Inslee wants to close or alter four “outdated” tax breaks.

“Having a classroom teacher to teach algebra right now is more important than some oil industry tax break that ended up getting done 20 or 30 years ago that doesn’t even apply anymore,” Gov. Inslee said during a press conference.

A good friend of mine, Dan Russell, works for Google and has a blog about using Google effectively called SearchReSearch.  It's a good one to know about, both for you and your student.

A blog about search, search skills, teaching search, learning how to search, learning how to use Google effectively, learning how to do research. It also covers a good deal of sensemaking and information foraging.

From the "are there any adults in charge in this building who are human beings" file, a story out of Tampa, Florida about a middle school where kids who aren't doing well academically get forced to the end of the lunch line.  Sure, that will teach them something (but I'm not sure it's the lesson that the principal really thought it would.)   Apparently, it's a top-ranked school because of "incentives."

I was listening to NPR this morning and they had one of StoryCorps great stories along with news (to me) that there is youth education for this program. StoryCorps is oral storytelling, sometimes one person alone, sometimes one person telling another a personal story.  They are very compelling stories that make you believe in humanity and the ability to rise above difficult circumstances.

The story this morning was between two teenagers, Henry and Akiva, who were talking about their friendship and how it developed. It was mentioned that there is curriculum for teachers called StoryCorpsU. 

StoryCorpsU (SCU) is a year-long, cross-disciplinary (language arts, media, history), youth development program designed for 9th and 10th graders to help students develop:

  • Self and social awareness—social and emotional learning competencies;
  • Academic skills—speaking, listening, and analytical and critical thinking; and
  • Strengthened school relationships.
SCU uses StoryCorps’ tested interviewing techniques—combined with outstanding radio broadcasts and animated shorts—to support high school students in the development of identity and in drawing connections between their unique strengths and the college application process.

What's on your mind?

That card is a ticket to the head of the lunch line. The kids who don’t get a card go to the back of the line.
A parent told a Tampa TV station the “no-card kids either have a ‘C’ or a conduct issue. They eat last.”
The “no-card kids,” the parent said, sometimes get only 10 minutes to eat after waiting at the end of the line.
- See more at: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/news/education/school-sends-achievers-front-lunch-line-others-eat/npjq3/#sthash.D7euvCea.dpuf
That card is a ticket to the head of the lunch line. The kids who don’t get a card go to the back of the line.
A parent told a Tampa TV station the “no-card kids either have a ‘C’ or a conduct issue. They eat last.”
The “no-card kids,” the parent said, sometimes get only 10 minutes to eat after waiting at the end of the line.
- See more at: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/news/education/school-sends-achievers-front-lunch-line-others-eat/npjq3/#sthash.D7euvCea.dpuf
That card is a ticket to the head of the lunch line. The kids who don’t get a card go to the back of the line.
A parent told a Tampa TV station the “no-card kids either have a ‘C’ or a conduct issue. They eat last.”
The “no-card kids,” the parent said, sometimes get only 10 minutes to eat after waiting at the end of the line.
- See more at: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/news/education/school-sends-achievers-front-lunch-line-others-eat/npjq3/#sthash.D7euvCea.dpuf
That card is a ticket to the head of the lunch line. The kids who don’t get a card go to the back of the line.
A parent told a Tampa TV station the “no-card kids either have a ‘C’ or a conduct issue. They eat last.”
The “no-card kids,” the parent said, sometimes get only 10 minutes to eat after waiting at the end of the line.
- See more at: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/news/education/school-sends-achievers-front-lunch-line-others-eat/npjq3/#sthash.D7euvCea.dpuf

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Seattle Schools International Schools Newsletter

I didn't know this newsletter, Global Talk, existed and I am glad to provide the link. 

They provide information on travel opportunities for both students and teachers.

Here's one of their great articles.

Earn High School Credits for a Language You Already Know

Are you an 11th or 12th grade student who speaks a language other than English? Can you read and write in it too? Do you want to earn credit for it? If you answered yes to all three questions, then you are a good candidate for the World Language Credit Program. These credits can help meet high school graduation requirements for elective credits and 4-year college admissions requirements for world languages.

Seattle Public Schools is able to sponsor tests for 11th and 12th graders. Younger students (8th-10th grades) may also sign up for testing, but they'll need to pay for their own tests at this time. Over 70 students have already tested this fall with over 70% of them earning 4 credits!

Upcoming test dates and locations:
  • Wednesday, Jan 13, 2016 2:00 pm at Chief Sealth International High School(priority given to Chief Sealth students)
  • Saturday Jan 23, 2016 10:00 am - 2:00 pm at the Seattle World School
  • Saturday Feb 6, 2016 10:00 am - 2:00 pm at the Seattle World School
  • Saturday Mar 19, 2016 10:00 am - 2:00 pm at the Seattle World School
  • Saturday Apr 2, 2016 10:00 am - 2:00 pm at the Seattle World School
For more information, please see the SPS World Language Credits website and watch this short video.

Tell Your Children: Words Have Meaning

I say that here, over and over, but with two regional stories about students who are misusing words in social media, it bears saying again.

I think the issue may be that either parents or schools are not helping kids to understand that certain words are incendiary and considered hate speech.  (Maybe schools need to have assemblies with skits to explain this or perhaps Ballard's great film/video program could produce some videos.) 

Many students know about the First Amendment and may believe they can say whatever they want to whoever they want.  There are countless court cases to prove that belief to be incorrect.  One of the easiest ways to explain it this concept, even to younger students, is to talk about not being able to cry, "Fire!" in a crowded theater.  Speech that can incite is open to legal action.

Yes/No

Yes, I like that Local 609 continues to stand up for its members who work for Seattle Schools.  They have, once again, prevailed in "wage theft" cases against the district.  From The Stand:

In July, Local 609 attained settlements of $11,000 on behalf of six members in the Nutrition Department for missed meal and rest breaks that their work schedules prevented on a daily basis. As part of the settlement, a whole new employee time-reporting system has been implemented at Seattle School’s Nutrition Program that will help address this issue of missed breaks and unpaid “extra time.”

They also settled an issue where workers were required to take mandatory training off the clock.
This month, two settlements of just under $30,000 were also achieved on behalf of two longtime workers in the Facilities Department of the School District, who had been misclassified for nine years. This settlement was a lengthy and extremely difficult process.

No, I don't like that this seems to be an on-going problem in the district.

Yes, I like that Ballard High continues to kill it in winning awards for their work for Ballard's film/video program. From SPS Communications:

Four Ballard High School student filmmakers have won Cinematic Arts awards from the National YoungArts Foundation – tying the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) for the most winners from a single school.  The accomplishment is particularly exciting because Ballard is competing nationally with the likes of LACHSA, which draws students from all over the LA metro area in competitive enrollment.

Those students are Coleman Andersen, Leo Pfeifer, Sho Schrock-Manabe and Meagen Tajalle.  (FYI, you should probably remember Leo Pfeifer's name because I predict he will probably become a well-known filmmaker someday.)

Yes to the naming of Coe Elementary's new library and its naming for two teachers, Karen and Richard Kearns.

Between them they shared 78 years teaching in Seattle Public Schools and the community until October 2014 when Karen died unexpectedly.

No to early district messaging on the upcoming Operations and BTA IV levies.  Word is that the Superintendent is saying that the BTA levy is going to cut the backlogged maintenance in half.  There's no way - even with BEX IV ongoing - that is true.  Let's see that data.

As well the district has its "Report to the Community" on the levies which says a lot but leaves out several key issues.

One big "Yes" is this statement:


For more than 30 years, Seattle voters have supported Seattle students by approving renewal of operations levies and capital levies or bonds.

Folks, I hope you realize this does NOT happen in other cities and states.  It just doesn't and it's a measure of how Seattle citizens value education.  Now we just have to get the legislature to value public education and fulfill McCleary so that those dollars we put forth on district operations can go to other needs and programs. I look to the new Board to get the district to be more transparent on these issues and trust that if they tell the full truth about any given situation in the district, they will get the backing (via trust) from parents and community.

But the Report does not state how many buildings we have, how old they are, the backlogged maintenance amount and how much of that Operations budget goes to maintenance.  Also, saying Cedar Park has been "modernized" is a little like saying the Viaduct is safe.  Sure, you can use it but "modernized" is a stretch.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Community Meeting


Seattle Schools Work Session Strategic Plan/Governance Priorities Update on Wednesday

The presentation for this Work Session finally came up and I took a gander at it.

I would say this is possibly one of the most important Work Sessions of the school year and certainly will be a test for the new Board.  

District Scoreboard
I'll let you peruse this at your leisure but it's certainly a mixed bag.  You can say that compared to state numbers, the district is doing much better with green (for plus side improvement) everywhere on page 2. One down note is that for climate/satisfaction surveys of students, families and teachers, most of the numbers are down especially the family engagement survey.

Tuesday Open Thread

Three years since the Sandy Hook shootings.

The SEA, at their representative assembly last night, voted in a resolution in support of Middle College High School (MCHS) for its almost 25 years of serving students of color who are disenfranchised or in crisis.  They note that this means that six teachers of color have been administratively displace or removed from their positions.

State that SEA’s position is that the historical focus of the MCHS program and curriculum on social justice and critical pedagogy at all sites must be maintained. We believe failure to do so would contradict the focus on equity agreed to by both SEA and the district during the recent contract negotiations;

Los Angeles schools were shut down today over an electronic terror threat relating to backpacks and was directed at schools themselves (not places like buses.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Star Wars, Harry Potter - How Old is Old Enough?

With the coming of the next installment of the Star Wars saga this Thursday/Friday (official is Friday but I see times on Thursday), the radio show, Here and Now, pulled the original NPR review by Tom Shales of the first Star Wars.  It's pretty fun to listen to with notable statements by Shales. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Asking about Advanced Learning and Highly Capable Issues

Update: another parent wrote AL and asked this question about taking the SBAC or MAP as a requirement:

"And what if a parent has opted their students out of those tests?"
AL:

I believe that this year only, we will offer achievement testing to students who do not have district administered achievement scores but have CogAT scores in the qualifying range. It is my understanding that in the future, opting out of district achievement testing may constitute opting out of Advanced Learning.
 

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday is the last day of Hanukkah - we hope all our Jewish readers had a happy and hopeful holiday.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

National Public Education Stories

Gifted Education
Universal screening in one Florida county found many bright kids of color but naturally, the costs were an issue.  From The Washington Post Wonkblog

An article on the Growing Homeschooling Movement from AlterNet

Renaissance Beach: KPLU's Deep Dive into the Turnaround of an Urban High School

KPLU's Sound Effects has created a wonderful, vital piece of work in Renaissance Beach, a story about the turnaround of Rainier Beach High School.  It is told thru the eyes of staff and students and is truly compelling.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Washington State Charter News Breaking Fast

Statement from the Washington State Charter Schools Association on First Place Scholars, the first charter school in Washingon, closing as a charter and going back to being a private school:

We support First Place Scholars in its decision to pursue converting back to a tuition-free independent school model – a model that was successful for years and made First Place the one the first schools to truly serve some of Washington’s most underserved populations. First Place will lean on 25 years of experience as a tuition-free independent school during this time of uncertainty, doing what’s best to serve their students."

Friday Open Thread

 Petition to save EEU inclusive kindergarten program.

The mandate has come down from the Supreme Court to King County Superior Court on the SC's ruling on the charter school law.

The opinion and the order changing opinion became final on December 9, 2015.  This cause is mandated to the superior court from which the appellate review was taken for further proceedings in accordance with the attached true copy of the opinion.

I assume the KC Court will be issuing its own final mandate on the issue soon.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tacoma's Grad Rate at 85.6% - 5th Straight Year of Gains

I have no comment except WOW.  To note, SPS former chief academic officer, Carla Santorno, is the superintendent of Tacoma PS.  (I want an interview.)

Here's the press release from Tacoma Public Schools Communications (bold mine):

Continuing Fall-Out from Washington Charter Schools Situation

Update: the Washington State Charter Schools Association chimed in yesterday and boy, do they stretch the truth of the situation.

1) They have gone from calling the issue a "glitch" to saying:

Washington’s public charter schools are narrowing in on a stopgap solution that would keep eight of the state’s voter-approved charter schools open and public for the remainder of the school year while advocates work with the legislature on a permanent fix that reflects the will of the voters.

Oh, so now it's a "stopgap" measure until there is a "permanent fix."  Then they go right back to calling it a "glitch." 

2) They call the Supreme Court decision "foolish." 

3) They mention the "partnering" with Mary Walker SD (which it really isn't) and don't mention how it got to the district of a former Charter Commission who is the superintendent of that district.

4) They also claim that the current schools are "delivering successful education programs" with zero evidence. Are they open? Yes. Are some students and parents happy? Yes.  Maybe you could call that "successful."

5) They say that the fix would have to "reinstate" the WA Charter Commission.

I hate to tell them but their idea that they can go from charter schools to tutoring institutions and back to charter schools is going to be a big add to any charter law (because it's not in there now.)  That's going to take some mighty tricky wordsmithing in the revised law. Good luck with that because I suspect that is what will put this back into the court system.

end of update

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin is reporting that Willow Academy, which was approved by the Charter Commission to open in Fall 2016, is now unlikely to open. Depending on what happens in the Legislature, they may try to open in Fall 2017.

Also, a well-placed source has told me that Dr. Linda Whitehead, the principal at First Place Scholars, has been asked to resign.  My source did not know the reason.  I previously reported that another source said that First Place may be attempting to go back to being a private school. 

How is Washington State's K-12 Spending Doing Since the Great Recession?

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a lengthy article on state public school spending since the Great Recession.  Not a pretty picture.  Washington state comes out - barely - above in most categories but I suspect that is thanks to the Washington State Supreme Court and McCleary.

Lots of graphs to dive into, pretty meaty insights here.

Also, related to funding, is this article from SCOPE (Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education),  How Money Makes a Difference: The Effects of School Finance Reforms on Outcomes for Low Income Students.  It's from May 2014 but ties in nicely here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Seattle Schools News

It appears there were several schools with power outages this morning (and Cleveland was closed because of it) but the latest SPS tweet says power has been restored everywhere.

In some very sad news, an SPS student died after falling off a building at Seattle Central College on Saturday around 4 pm.

From the Seattle Police Department blotter:

The Seattle Police Department is conducting a death investigation after a 16-year-old student died after falling from a balcony in the Capitol Hill neighborhood on December 5th.

About Three Days

I've been talking a lot about charter schools lately and both Charlie and I have been speculating what will happen to them due to the Supreme Court's final ruling that the Washington State charter law is unconstitutional.  But I did have an epiphany this morning as the thunder woke me up. 

(I'll again state - I'm not a lawyer but I think the issue has been made clear by the Court.)

It's really just three days left that charter schools in the state of Washington will exist as charter schools.  How do I know this?

One, Monday the 14th is the likely cut-off date for state funding for the schools themselves AND their authorizers.  (I think I understand that the charters have enough state money to finish their December school month.) If a charter school has no state funding and no state oversight, under the current charter law, it's not a charter school. And, to boot, there is no charter law left.

Two, the Supreme Court struck down the ENTIRE law.  There's a new video out by state senator Joe Fain where he explains the Supreme Court decision.  To his credit, he gets it mostly right but then, at the end, glibly tries to explain how the legislature can "fix" it. 

In the video, he explains that the Court could have ruled on the case and separated out the funding issue while still allowing the rest of the law to stand. But they didn't. They said no to the whole thing because (I think) they believed that if the funding isn't there, nothing else could stand either. 

That is the crux of the situation. 

Heads Up for Rain-Delayed SPS Buses

From SPS Twitter:

Please expect bus delays this morning due to heavy rain and traffic.

I woke at 5 am to thunder and it sounded like it rained heavily all night.  It's 7 am now and it's fairly dark outside.

Please, be safe as you get to work and your children get to school.

EEU Kindergarten Program To Go Away

Just saw this at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page.

The Superintendent has program placement in his arena but I would expect that the Board would receive early notification ofANY change in programming.

This is a long-term program that has been highly successful and any dismantling of it should raise an alarm.  I see this as coming from Deputy Superintendent Michael Tolley's area of control.

Friends, I'm asking for your help...
My colleagues at the Haring Center for Research and Training in Inclusive Education just learned that Seattle Public Schools has made the very poor, very short-sighted decision to pull all funding for the Experimental Education Unit's inclusive kindergarten program. This is a blow to our community, and a blow to everyone who values inclusion and believes that all kids have the right to full, equal access to their neighborhood schools.

Video about this program.

Hour of Code

I'm a bit late with this but this week marks

Ana Mari Cauce and Sukhdeep SinghUW's Computer Science and Engineering Department is having several events. 

UW CSE has organized a series of events on campus this week to engage UW students and their friends and family members in the Hour of Code, an annual event organized by Code.org to engage people in computer programming. More than 190,000 Hour of Code events are being held around the world to celebrate Computer Science Education Week.

Altogether, we expect more than 400 people from the extended UW family to take part in CSE’s Hour of Code activities throughout the week. It’s not too late to join in! If you can’t make it to an event, try the Hour of Code from wherever you are with one of Code.org’s online tutorials.

Even new UW President Ana Mari Cauce has joined in.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Clarity on WA State Charter Schools from Charter Commission? Fuhgeddaboudit

That was one uneventful and less-than-insightful Charter Commission meeting.

KUOW Looking for Input on Advanced Learning

I'm looking for families of color who have considered - or enrolled in - gifted/highly capable programs in Seattle Public Schools. I'm working on a story for KUOW Public Radio about the reasons behind the lack of diversity in the district's gifted classes, and I'd like to hear your experiences. Email adornfeld@kuow.org - and feel free to share this request with anyone you know! Thanks so much!

Tuesday Open Thread

Update: as we speak, the US Senate will be considering the new version of NCLB (ESSA) with a vote possible today.  It has already passed the House.

I going to be interested to hear what the Charter Commission will be saying today in their special one-hour phone meeting.  The agenda seems to have gone missing; my recollection is an immediate executive session followed by updates on the situation.  I note that the King County Superior Court ruling on the end date for state funding for charters has not yet been announced.

 Dial-In Telephone Number U.S. and Canada:
(800) 245-9874 Access Code: 7784207

Very moving video, "Tomorrow" of a UK teen with Asperger's who documented the bullying directed at him.

From SPS via Twitter:
Our hearts go out to the family, students and staff of the Chief Sealth student killed over the weekend in the Columbia City neighborhood.

Sadly, it appears that the student was related to her killer.  It is unclear what the situation was but the killer - who is still armed and at large - had been charged with domestic violence previously.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Dorn Turns ALE Rules/Regs on their Head for Charter Schools

There are many contradictions between what OSPI tells regular districts about Alternative Learning Experiences (ALEs) versus what is being said that will be done for charter schools and ALE programs.

(I have repeatedly tried to get clarity on these issues from OSPI. I am now using the documentation they have at their website.)

There are two main issues.

Twelve SPS Schools Make 2015 List for Schools of Distinction

From SPS Communications and congrats to all these schools (and to note, these schools cover the entire district region.)


Seattle Public Schools has been identified as having 12 schools to be recognized as Schools of Distinction award winners. The award recognizes outstanding improvement in reading and math sustained over a five-year period. The recognized schools are honored for landing in the top five percent of improvement of schools in Washington State for increased math and reading achievement for their levels over the past five years. The School of District is a statewide award led by the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) in partnership with K-12 education organizations representing school board directors, principals, administrators, educational service districts and others. 

OSPI Releases New Data on Student Discipline

OSPI announced today the release of new data on student discipline.  According to the press release:

All Middle and High School F/RL Students to Get ORCA Cards

The Seattle Times is reporting that the decision from the City on the use of $1M of a transportation fund set aside for low-income citizens will be used to pay for ORCA cards for all middle and high school students in Seattle students (no matter where they live from their school.)

This decision came largely because of the unwaivering efforts of the Rainier Beach students who made it a front and center issue from last summer on.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Seattle Schools This Week

Looks like it's an all-Audit&Finance week which is probably a good way for the new Board to get up-to-speed.

"We Can't Make an African-American White"

This from a Michigan state lawmaker, Marty Knollenberg, who was reviewing state K-12 test scores. 

State Sen. Marty Knollenberg (R) made the comment during a hearing Thursday after seeing state data breaking down academic performance among different demographic groups. The data indicated most students who were struggling were students of color, Knollenberg later told WXYZ Detroit.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Wild Conjecture about Charter Schools as ALEs

We don't really know how it would work if an urban charter school in Western Washington became an Alternative Learning Experience program of a rural school district in Eastern Washington.

Since we don't really know, let's make some wild conjecture about it.


Friday, December 04, 2015

Baffling News from OSPI on Charter School Students

State Superintendent Randy Dorn issued guidelines for districts that want to take in charter school students under ALEs (Alternative Learning Education.)

Washington State Again #1 in New Board-Certified Teachers

From OSPI:

Washington has the largest group of new National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) for the third consecutive year, according to numbers released today by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

A total of 329 Washington teachers achieved their certification this year. Washington ranks fourth, nationwide, in the total number of NBCTs (8,614)*.

Hey, Some Really Good News

Update: This wasn't in the original release but Noel has children in SPS.

From SPS Communications:

It is with honor and excitement that Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announces that Noel Treat will return to the district as General Counsel.  Treat has devoted his career to public service with more than 20 years of experience in education as well as legal, management and policy issues facing local governments.  

Friday Open Thread

Downside: this article from The Guardian, with infographic, of the mass shootings in this country over the last two years. If this doesn't chill you, then how about this.  Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted down an amendment that would have kept guns from people on the U.S. terrorism watchlist and an amendment to expand background checks for online gun sales and gun shows. American exceptionalism indeed.

Upside: a new girl-empowerment/self-acceptance/self-love group called I Am That Girl has started up nationally, with a chapter here in Seattle.

I Am That Girl is a movement inspiring girls to love, express, and be exactly who they are.

The Friends of the Seattle Public Library is having their first ever Children's Book Sale, Sunday, December 6th from 1-4 pm at the Ballard Branch Meeting Room.  Most books will be between $2-4.  Bring your own bag.

Taylor Swift donated $50,000 to the Seattle Symphony and some of the donation will go towards music education for children.  Thanks, Tay-Tay.
The Seattle Symphony has received a major donation in the amount of $50,000 from recording artist Taylor Swift, in support of the future of the orchestra’s musicians and musicians of the future. Swift’s donation to the Seattle Symphony will support two signature programs, Link Up: Seattle Symphony, which will reach over 12,000 third through fifth graders this year, and the musicians’ pension fund.
What's on your mind?

Thursday, December 03, 2015

New Seattle School Board

2016 Board Officers:
  Director Patu - President
  Director Peters  - Vice President
  Director Harris - Member-at-Large

Please note that any director's direct e-mail address is:

first name.last name@seattleschools.org

To write to just the entire Board - SPSdirectors@seattleschools.org

To write to the Board plus senior leadership - schoolboard@seattleschools.org

This Board's first retreat is this Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm at JSCEE.  Agenda.  Lots of new member issues like "hopes and aspirations for the coming year," committee assignments (both within and outside of the district), and, as always, governance.

Dec 2015 Board Photo
SPS photo

Rich People: Why Do They ALL Have to Come After Public Ed?

To start, consider this from Inside Philanthropy (one of my new favorite places to stop by and read awhile:)

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

It Appears Many Are Lining Up to "Save" Washington State Charter Schools

Update 2:  I wrote to Kevin Jacka, the superintendent of Mary Walker School District, to ask him about his resignation from the Charter Commission and about taking the orphan charter schools into his district.

Here's what he said (or didn't say);

Fired up at Nathan Hale about Climate Change

Today's walkout at Hale.  From 350 Seattle:

Nathan Hale High School students organized a ‪#‎ClimateStrike‬ walk out today on the first day of Paris talks.

About 100 students with flags signs and banners protested chanting "Climate Justice" and "Solar Power" at a busy intersection. Students who participated told the school, braved the cold, and were marked absent. The student club formed about a month ago.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

New Seattle Schools Board Directors

A much larger than normal crowd for the oath of office for our four new board members. Quite the sight as compared to other years.  I see former Board director Irene Stewart here.

Fun fact: turns out that we have been inducting board members incorrectly for the last - what? - 10+ years.  Turns out the oath can only be given by a superintendent, judge, principal or assistant principal.  Other years, we have seen husbands, wives and even children give the oath.   Legal counsel John Cerqui looked up the law and figured it out.

Support Seattle Special Ed Teachers Today

Sorry I'm seeing these all late but this Give Tuesday is a big one. 

This #GivingTuesday, help to make education more inclusive #ForEveryKid. Google is teaming up with DonorsChoose.org, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for teachers, to make it easier to fund as many special education projects as possible. 

If donors like you fund the first half, we’ll get the rest, up to $1MM.

Help SPS Students Continue Arts Learning

From SPS Communications:

Music teacher and student
Thanks to the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras’ (SYSO) Southwest Seattle Strings Project students at Arbor Heights, Concord, Highland Park, Roxhill, Sanislo and West Seattle elementary schools, and Denny International Middle School have paid, musical lessons from professional musicians, but many of them still need instruments.
SYSO is partnering with Seattle Public Schools in asking for donations to help build supply baskets that will include replacement strings, chin rests, shoulder rests, rosin, and music books.
Anyone can help by chipping on the Power2give.org fundraising campaign webpage.

Fill the Packs Today

KBCS-FMIn partnership with Northwest Harvest, is holding a one-day only fund drive today, Tuesday, December 1st.

They are raising funds to provide food backpacks for kids in our region over the holiday break.
All donations are tax-deductible.

To donate, call KBCS at: 425.564.5000 or go here.

#fillthepack

Tuesday Open Thread

Funny article of the day (but a possible teaching moment for your children) from The New Yorker, Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans. I have found that presidential campaigns are a good time to talk to your children about what "facts" are, how to prove them and why some people might not actually use them when trying to get elected to office.  (Of course, discussing politics with your children may make them jaded before their time so use caution.)

Thinking of holiday gifts? Cross "Hello Barbie" off your list.

The Washington State Budget &Policy Center has a very good article on poverty and children in Washington State.  What is compelling about their argument is that it's a "two-generation approach."  Meaning, you need to help parents at the same time you help kids.  You will often hear ed reformers say all it takes is a good teacher but that's pretty much nonsense when you talk about poverty. It's not that poor kids can't learn (another argument ed reformers love to use if you try to talk to them about issues of poverty and public education) - it's that the effects of poverty are so dire on learning.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Show Your Kids; Trying and Not Succeeding is not the same as Failing

This was tweeted by J.K. Rowling:

Speaking as someone who would never have succeeded if she hadn't first failed on a grand scale, I enjoyed this.







Revised ESEA - Please Let Our Congressional Reps Know Your Concerns

The vote on the next version of No Child Left Behind is coming up for a vote this week, first in the Senate and then, next week, in the House.  

There are several issues that have come to my attention via Diane Ravitch and the Network of Public Education.

Here's a link to all the Washington State representatives and senators.  E-mail is great but there is also great value in calling their offices and registering your vote.  (I interned for an Arizona senator once and my job was taking phone calls from constituents on issues of the day.  They registered every single call.)

However you do it, PLEASE contact our congressional reps on this vote.  When you do, please note to them that this is a much better bill than the original.

Asking for Patience and the Ability to Ignore

Gentle readers.

I turned off the comment moderation.  I don't like it,  you don't like it and so we'll go back to the way we have done it since this blog started.

Most of you have noticed that we now have a person (and most of us know who it is) that blames me for his shortcomings in life.  He is being vicious and unkind and some of you even find his comments to be threatening to me.  That he has even stooped to saying hurtful things about my late husband speaks volumes about his lack of character and humanity.

Not to worry; I don't.

What I ask is for your patience AND to please ignore him.  Do not answer anything he says.  Answering him will only egg him on.

While I'm sure this immature behavior is the highlight of his day, let's not give him any kind of attention.

If we ignore him, he has no audience. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Middle College Continues Its Steady Decline

Is there an explanation for how quickly Middle College is sliding downward in just a matter of months?  And, with very little in the way of real explanation to the SPS community?

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, December 1nd
Oath of Office for the four new members of the Seattle School Board.  JSCEE auditorium from
5-6 pm.

If I had to guess committee choices for new Board members, I'd guess that Leslie Harris would like either be on the Executive or Audit&Finance committee and Scott Pinkham, Rick Burke and Jill Geary would like Curriculum&Instruction. 

Wednesday, December 2rd
School Board Meeting, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda

(And into the fire quickly for those four new members. It's always fun to see them figure out the microphones as well as see where each member gets seated.)

Highlights
- Native American program annual review
- Board self-evaluation narrative.   I liked this line:

Directors also noted the need to strengthen how the Board ensures accountability for progress on the Strategic Plan. 
This is interesting.

At the November 10 work session, Directors discussed the progress the Board has made from previous behaviors and improvements in understanding their roles and in reconciling diversity of opinions. Directors noted it took time for them to understand the governance tools and how to use them to bring about change for which Directors are looking. 

Results on this goal varied by individual Director. Most are very good at understanding the delegation of authority documented in Board policies while others micromanage when they do not agree with a decision. Not all Directors appear to feel bound by the Communications Protocol or respect the confidentiality of executive sessions. The Board has not yet found a mechanism to enforce the Code of Conduct, confidentiality agreements, and the Communications Protocol. 
- Election of Board officers: President, Vice-President and Member-at-Large.   I look for Sue Peters or Betty Patu to be elected to be Board President/Vice-President.  
- Approval of Continuous School Improvement Plans (C-SIPs).  

A School Board’s annual approval of schools certifies to the State that each school has a school improvement plan in place. School improvement plans must be data driven, promote a positive impact on student learning, and include a continuous improvement process for monitoring, adjusting, and updating the plan. Each building’s Continuous School Improvement Plan (C-SIP) includes all of these elements.

All of our schools have current 2015-17 Continuous School Improvement Plans, or C-SIPs, on file at the schools, with their Executive Directors of Schools, and in the Grants office. All C-SIPs are also posted online on our district website.

All schools have updated their C-SIPs based on student data from spring 2015 by November 6, 2015. C-SIPs are working documents and will be adjusted during the year as additional data is made available to schools (e.g. Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) data, graduation data, attendance data).
All revised C-SIPs will be uploaded to the district website by December 2, 2015.
 
Thursday, December 3rd
Executive Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm, Board conference room at JSCEE.  Agenda not yet available.


Saturday, December 5th 
Board retreat.   JSCEE from 10 am-3 pm. Agenda not yet available.

This should be interesting to see how various members establish themselves vis a vis senior staff.  I am of the mind that since the name of this event is "Board" retreat that the Board themselves should decide what should be discussed/worked on.  Just a thought.

Sunday Open Thread

Sorry, I just flaked out on Friday.

I am reading and posting all comments (but the amount of spam we get is pretty amazing.)

What's on your mind?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Former Chief Sealth Principal Passes Away

Update: I am attempting to get info on Mr. Kinsey's services but the West Seattle Blog has nothing nor have I found anything listed elsewhere.  Several former students have contacted me about wanting to attend any services so if you learn anything, please post it here.

end of update.

Sad news from the WestSeattle Blog:

Small Business Saturday ( and don't forget your local bookseller)

As reported at Crosscut:
After the big box madness that has become Black Friday is the totally lovable celebration of Small Business Saturday. Saturday also acts as Indies First, a day to show your love for local booksellers and meet authors as they talk to you about books at the counter of your local bookstore. Sherman Alexie, the mastermind behind the event, will be at Elliott Bay offering book recommendations, Book Larder will be hosting a bunch of local cookbook authors (including Renee Erickson), and there will be a YA panel and sci-fi panel at University Bookstore. Don’t forget about Ravenna Third Place, Phinney Books, and Ada’s Technical Books, among others, and make this holiday one where you give the gift of books (I’m pretty excited to give my sisters an adult coloring book and Humans of New York: Stories).
Big shout-out to Ada's Technical Books, one of the coolest bookstores around.

I also endorse the coloring books for adults (but I have not yet seen an "adult" coloring book).  Coloring can be very zen thing that is good for all kinds of emotions including grief.

Lastly, yes, Amazon is a cheap bookstore and I have not seen their U Village bookstore but please, let's keep our real independent booksellers alive and well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving; this blog is thankful for all our readers.

Two fun things, one for vegetarians and one from Ellen for the hope that is education. 

Kids really are little sponges.  "My little brain just remembers." 

Good News in Seattle Public Schools

A wonderful story from KING-5 news - Franklin High School was the surprise receipt of $17K worth of new band instruments via Stub Hub/Mr Holland's Opus Foundation.  Music teacher Geoff Ogle made it happen and, looking at the faces of his students, they are happy he did. 

Orca K-8 put in a new playground.  According to district Communications:
The project is the culmination of a handful of funding partners including Orca PTSA, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, King County, the Norcliffe Foundation, Windermere, Microsoft and hundreds of volunteers who helped put it all together.
 Good work to all those parents and community members who made this happen.

Big shout-out to Garfield High's football coach, Derek Sparks, an award from Angels in Sports,  for his hard work in supporting student athletes.  Angels in Sports is a non-profit org for "high striving underprivileged youth applicants that require assistance in achieving their athletic and academic goals." 

Middle School Ultimate Frisbee news:

- Aki Kurose, A pool champions
- Madison, the A2 pool champions
- South Shore K-8, the B pool champions
- Hamilton, 6thA champions
- Hazel Wolf K-8, 6th B champions
- Salmon Bay and Washington, Co-Spirit champions

Aerial shot of the work for the Hazel Wolf K-8 building from NAC Architecture

Embedded image permalink

Equity vs Equality

We keep dipping into this discussion, so let's dive into it.

I hear and read people using the words "Equitable" or "Equity" as if they were synonymous with "Equal" and "Equality". I continue to see these words used as if they were interchangeable. They are not synonyms. They are not interchangeable. They are, in fact, opposites.

Equality means providing each with the same.

Equity is providing each with what they need or deserve.

Since everyone needs or deserves something different, equity means providing each with something different, which is the opposite of providing each with the same.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Fight is On for McCleary (using blackmail for leverage)

Over at Representative Chad Magendanz' Facebook page, there's quite the discussion over fulfilling McCleary and also what to do about charter schools.  He has much to say on both topics.
He starts with this:

Our bipartisan group working on the charter fix remains firmly committed to addressing the issues identified in the Supreme Court’s ruling and keeping our charter school doors open. The Senate committee testimony Thursday really highlighted the need for these innovative schools that serve our most impoverished areas, and the timing of the Court’s press release was particularly cruel to the students who travelled down to Olympia to show their support.

Again, as if the Court has time to tell their staff to keep them updated on what groups come to Olympia to speak to legislators.  That's just not plausible.   Also, that "bipartisan group" - I think their one Dem might be Seattle's Rep. Eric Pettigrew who seems to make it his life's work to just sign up for these groups.

So I asked, based on what Magendanz had written at the GOP Washington legislative page about McCleary and the state budget:

Teacher/Substitute Shortage a Strain in Washington State

OSPI has released their survey and its subsequent findings about teacher shortages in Washington State.

The survey

The findings.

From the survey:

Tuesday Open Thread

My colleagues in student data privacy are warning against anyone taking this so-called "most used word" Facebook quiz.  Read this article and see if you agree; if so, warn your kids.

Ever wanted to know more about school emergency and safety programs.  I found this great page at OSPI chock-full of good info.

The Times has a lot to say over a couple of days.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Closing Opportunity Gaps

I want to be sure that everyone has seen this. It's important.

CLOSING OPPORTUNITY GAPS
An Action Plan for Accelerating Achievement
for African American Males
and Other Students of Color


In this document, the District commits to some very specific benchmarks:
  1. Every student will achieve proficiency in Reading and Mathematics by end of Grade 2.
  2. Every student will have a personal learning plan and an advocate/mentor to keep him on track to high school graduation and successful post-secondary transition.
  3. Every student will meet standards of performance in Reading, Writing, Mathematics, and Science at the end of key transition grades.
  4. Every student will receive fair and equitable treatment regarding discipline and access to rigorous instructional programs.
  5. Every student will graduate from high school prepared for success in college or career.
Whenever I see commitments of this kind from the School District, I always want to ask "What if it doesn't go like that?"

Who Has the Best Coverage of McCleary Decision? Boston

Or rather, the Boston Globe.  I had many people send me links to this story that appeared in the Globe on Saturday, Nov. 21st.  It's part of their "Divided Nation" series and I hope to read more of the articles ( they cover a number of topics, not just public education.)
Here was a self-described progressive state with a Democratic governor and House, an electorate that last year voted to improve school funding, and many cash-flush corporations famished for qualified graduates. If a solution to gridlock couldn’t be found here, how could other states — or the other Washington, the nation’s capital — break out of their political stalemates?

"I Take It Personally" - A Teacher's Response to a Governor

From The Washington Post's The Answer Sheet, a story about Indiana governor, Mike Pence,   remark that teachers "shouldn't take it personally" when their students' scores plummet because of a new state test.  One teacher, Donna Roof, a 30-year veteran teacher, answered back.  (In Indiana, teacher evaluations do use test scores although the Governor says that, given the test is new, they get a one-year reprieve.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Guest Post: Rep Gerry Pollet Meets with Charter School Parents and Students

By Representative Gerry Pollet, 46th District:

Thursday offered a “learning moment” for students in charter schools, parents and legislators.

Blue-shirted charter school students and parents came to the state capital to urge that legislators “save” their schools. Ironically, the Supreme Court released its opinion the same day reaffirming its prior unanimous opinion that charter schools were not “common schools” and its majority opinion striking down the entire charter school initiative as unconstitutional.
A group of 8 or 9 Summit Sierra Charter HS 9th graders and two parents were leaving my office as I returned from committee hearings. Although I had a large group waiting for their scheduled appointment with me, I didn’t want to disappoint high school students who had made the trek – and, were eager to tell me about the “unique” learning experience offered by their school.

So, I stopped to engage them. It was a learning moment for me, and I hope for the students as well – as students and I found some pre-established notions challenged by thought provoking questions. There are questions which legislators should be asking – and, they have surprising answers.

FYI - Act Now for Washington Students? Astroturf Group

I may have mentioned it but to clarify, this "new" group, Act Now for Washington Students, is an astro-turf, Gates-funded group made up of DFER, League of Education Voters and Stand for Children.  You don't get more ed-form and Gates-guided than those three.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Yes, Next Legislative Session is about McCleary (and apparently, about charter schools)

 Update:

I queried OSPI about what might happen.  Here's what the immediate issues are:

The ruling from the Court removes footnote 10 on page 11, the footnote that caused the “glitch” issue; namely, that funding for other categorical programs (Running Start, the Schools for the Blind/Deaf) might be in danger. Other than that, the Court simply said it was rejecting the motion for reconsideration of its original opinion, meaning that charter schools – at least in their current incarnation – will no longer be able to operate in Washington state. So yes, they will be gone.

The issue we’re trying to determine is when. We’re not sure if this order is effective today or not. The Court has a meeting on the books for December 14, possibly about the mandate. The Attorney General’s Office and OSPI are trying to find out from the Court if that means that money for November can be paid to the schools or not. We should have clarification on that by next week.

Regarding Spokane, the Court struck down the entire initiative – that includes authorizing agents, even if such an agent is controlled by an elected board. My understanding is that Spokane is working to bring the schools into the district. 

First, it is fascinating that no one seems to know what the Court decision truly means in terms of logistics.

Care about KPLU? Come Weigh In

KPLU's Community Advisory Board is meeting on Monday the 23rd from 2-:30pm at the Westin.

Here's a link to their Facebook page; I'm still looking for an e-mail address for the Board.  You could also write to KUOW, programming@KUOW.org.

Here's a very good story from Crosscut on this situation.  Apparently, a lot of this deciding happened behind closed doors even though it's public radio.

I've worked with a lot of reporters over the years and can tell who cares, who follows up and who gets into the weeds.  These two guys are good solid reporters.

Let's save KPLU's great reporters like Gabriel Spitzer and Kyle Stokes. 

Great Outdoors Free on Black Friday

From the Seattle Times on "Green Friday":

Washington’s two most-visited national parks, Olympic and Mount Rainier, are joining to offer free entry on Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving, in celebration of the holiday and as a way to encourage healthy outdoor time.

“The day after Thanksgiving is a great time for fresh air and a little exercise,” Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said in an email. “Thanksgiving is a time-honored American tradition, and we invite families to create new traditions by enjoying a fee-free day at two of the Northwest’s premier national parks.”

As well, if you have a 4th grader and want a free Christmas tree, Colville National Forest has a deal for you.

All fourth graders are eligible to receive a pass that allows free access to federal lands and waters across the country for a full year. In support of this initiative, the Forest Service will make available a free Christmas tree permit to every interested fourth-grader with a 4th Grade Every Kid in the Park Pass or paper voucher. Christmas tree permits are available on a first-come, first served basis while supplies last.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Deputy Superintendent to Leave in January

Deputy Superintendent Charles Wright announced, via a letter to staff, that he is leaving SPS, effective Jan. 5, 2016.  It's a bit of a curious letter as he doesn't say anything about his future plans but does give a long list of the accomplishments that he has worked on.  He also says this:
As you prepare to work with a new board, more closely with the community, and continue to work with one another to strengthen the system’s ability to support students, I encourage you to read the book The Trust Imperative by Stephen Hacker. Some of you may recall that I mentioned this book to you in September 2014.  It will be an excellent resource as you engage in intentional conversations about re-building trust where you believe it does not exist. The book offers insights and tools to help you understand and build trust across a spectrum of key elements including trust readiness, worthiness and willingness.
I have heard that he has been handing this book out and I hope to read it soon myself.  I'm glad he asking staff to work on trust issues.  I'm not sure what he means/context of "worthiness."

I wonder who will get the blame for this change - the new Board not even yet in there or the Superintendent?  Maybe I should ask Sherry Carr who went out of her way in her farewell remarks to name how many of each category of senior management had left over her eight years in office.

One in Four Seattle Public Schools Students Walk/Bike to School

This from a survey done by Seattle Greenways 


Friday Open Thread

Checking the Seattle Times, the final charter school ruling from the state supreme court is now gone from their home page.  There's not even a listing under their "Education Lab" section.  I guess the editorial board is now busy writing their latest missive to prop up what is truly a battered law.

As I said in one of my comments there, the Legislature would have a lot of explaining to do if they really tried to turn this around.  They'd have to create some quasi public/private system for charters, find the money to prop them up (as well as the Charter Commission who would still need to oversee the majority of them) and then, of course, explain to the public why, during a short session with a lot of work including McCleary, they are choosing to do this work and divert money from other programs.

I think this law is on life-support and maybe the Legislature should just pull the plug and start over with a new law.  A constitutional law.

Here's the trailer from the new Michael Moore documentary, "Where to Invade Next."  He's going to "take over" other countries' great ideas including those on public education.  This should be good.

Re: the arguing the other night at the Board meeting (where Director Patu really took it on the chin from some community members) about one of the SMART goals, closing the opportunity gap, here's the flyer that the district created last year about this program for African-American males.  At the time, I remember seeing this and wondering why I wasn't hearing more about this program. I'm still wondering.  The last page has a list of what ALL programs would like: "community-wide engagement, unwavering Board and Executive leadership ownership, dedicated cabinet-level "project-manager" and consistent resource allocation, culturally responsive professional development and accountability for performance."

There's a new book called Alice - Alert, Lockdown, Inform, counter, Evacuate - to help little kids know what to do in an active shooter situation.  Someone made a video of parents reading the book.

One of my two least-favorite U.S. Supreme Court justices, Antonin Scalia, told a Georgetown law school group this week that there is nothing in the constitution that gives parents the right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. 

 Naturally, home-schooling groups especially don't like this ruling and have a whole list of court cases that seem to indicate otherwise.  Of course, the actual right being in the constitution doesn't mean that the Court can't protect that right any way.  Scalia is apparently against substantive due process i.e. being a strict constitutionalist although I think even he would say that the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" contained in the Declaration of Independence may cover child-rearing as well as the First Amendment.

There are three community meetings on Saturday.  (Director Peters noted my plea for the new Board to try to have one community meeting per Saturday.  She told me that it's hard to do but I'm thinking maybe with seven people and four Saturdays a month, maybe it could happen.  The public really has no other way to see Board members in a group fashion.) See the district calendar for times and locations.

Friday Funny - making plans for the kids for that long Thanksgiving weekend?  Forget Black Friday - take the kids to the Internet Cat Video Festival at SIIF.  My latest fav cat video is cats and the scary, scary cucumber.

Transforming the internet phenomenon of cat cuteness from a solitary online experience to a real-world social event, the Internet Cat Video Festival features over 85 viral cat videos in one engaging and exciting non stop parade of **squee!** that will leave you with a smile on your face and a purr in your heart! 

What's on your mind?

Good News About Long-requested Improvements

One of the recurring themes among the criticisms of Seattle Public Schools centers on annual reports. These reports are required by policy but either the reports simply are not made, such as the report required by Policy 3208, Sexual Harassment, or the reports clearly fail to meet the requirements listed in the policy, such as the quarterly and annual reports required by Policy 2200, Equitable Access to Programs & Services.

You should all be familiar with the routine. Each year the superintendent and staff submits a woefully inadequate report. Each year I complain about it and beg the Board to demand a compliant report. Each year the Board accepts the report without complaint. Each year the culture of non-compliance is strengthened and transparency is weakened.

But this year there's something new. This year the superintendent and the staff are bringing forward a different kind of report for Policy 2090, Program Evaluation & Assessment.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Washington State Supreme Court Uphold Its Charter Law Ruling

The Court released its ruling today and upheld its decision to strike down the charter school law.   The ruling was 6-3, 5-4. The decision in the original ruling becomes final on December 14th.

The majority did strike out one footnote (page 11, footnote 10) about the use of School District No. 20 v. Bryan.  A bit interesting as this does revolve around Article IX on funding but they were likely addressing the issue of funding for other education programs. 

DOE - Mostly a Failing Grade on Data Security

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From the Washington Post's Answer Sheet:

Post Board Meeting After-Thoughts

A few thoughts after that long Board meeting (and I even left after the Action items so good for everyone who stayed until the bitter end.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waitlist Date May Have Moved

Update:  the staff IS recommending that the waitlist dissolve on August 15th.  The change is in the BAR. Good job, parents.

end of update
A parent at the Board meeting is reporting that Ashley Davies, the Enrollment Director, is going to recommend an August 15th waitlist date, not May 31st.  Will let you know if this comes to pass.  If so, quite a win there for parent power.

School Board Meeting, Part Two

Carr restarts meeting, mentioning the number of Action Items to get thru (and says that some Board members had previously left during Intro items - I didn't know this - and as long as there are four of them, they can do the work.)

School Board Meeting, Part One

Packed room for start of meeting.  A whole contingent of neon-yellow shirted kids from Schmitz Park Elementary, questioning the funding at Central versus school-based including class size.

RBHS students opened with a spirited call-and-response, singing and cheer-a-long.  They recognized the Board especially those directors who are leaving the Board.