Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Open Thread

The Seattle Times, like Crosscut, has redesigned itself (well, not in editorial writing so don't get your hopes up).  Both redesigns - to my eye - are not good.  Busy and hard to follow the categories. 

The Times does have a good overview article from the AP about the opt-out movement.

— Thousands of Colorado high school seniors walked out on new state-mandated science and social studies tests last fall.

— An Ohio middle school teacher published a letter calling state officials “bullies” for printing a pamphlet that warned of wide-ranging consequences if students sit out exams.

— At least 93 students at a single Philadelphia middle school are declining upcoming tests in a city that saw only 20 students districtwide sit out the exams last year.

The Washington Post's Answer Sheet also has a great article from a high profile principal, Carol Buris, on what is really happening in American public education.

- Backlash against Common Core
- Pain but no gain
- Annual high-stakes testing has not resulted in equity gains
- the cat is out of the bag

On the latter:

Both the policies and rhetoric around high-stakes testing has made the real agenda very clear—the purpose of Common Core high-stakes testing is to replace our locally controlled public school systems with charters, on-line schools and private schools funded by vouchers, while creating a constant churn of teachers whose work is reduced to test preparation.

As Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute observed back in 2012, the purpose of setting cut scores on Common Core tests so high is to convince suburban parents that their schools and its teachers are failing. The collateral damage done to students by that agenda apparently is secondary to Common Core testing enthusiasts.
In case you missed it, the district is looking for volunteers to serve on the middle school Social Studies materials adoption committee. 

The district is also having "Technology Vision Town Halls" all next week
The schedule is as follows:
  • NORTHEAST REGION: Monday, Feb. 23 at Eckstein Middle School cafeteria
  • CENTRAL REGION: Tuesday, Feb. 24 at Washington Middle School cafeteria
  • SOUTHEAST REGION: Wednesday, Feb. 25 at Rainier Beach High School cafeteria
  • NORTHWEST REGION: Thursday, Feb. 26 at Ingraham High School cafeteria
  • WEST SEATTLE REGION: Monday March 2 at West Seattle High School cafeteria 
 Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. so that attendees can browse sample results from the Tech Summit. The structured meeting will begin at 6 to 8 p.m.

What's on your mind?


Josh Hayes said...

According to KING 5, the bill splitting Seattle into two districts passed out of committee and will make it to the floor. Holy cow.

Here's the link to the KING 5 story. Not much more detail than that it passed, but it did pass by a 16-5 vote, which is astonishing to me.

Josh Hayes said...

Sorry, I see we started talking about that yesterday (I was at work! Honest!). What's interesting to me is, one of my students this morning told me, "Hey, they voted to split the district up." So even students know something is in the wind.

Anonymous said...

So is the bill going to skip the rules committee? I thought that before it arrived on the house floor for a vote, it needed to get through the rules committee. Speaker Chopp chairs this committee.


Anonymous said...

Related to state testing, this biting but humorous analysis of PARCC tests will have you considering opting out of CCSS based tests.

An Educator Samples the PARCC
by Peter Greene, 2/11/15
Huffington Post blog


Melissa Westbrook said...

I will be speaking with Chopp today so I'll let you know.

Anonymous said...

NGC, the Rules Committee isn't really a committee as we would think of a legislative committee --- they don't hold hearings and make public votes. The majority caucus pretty much decides what gets voted upon on the floor. And in this case, the Speaker of the House decides what gets a floor vote.

In other words, the Rules Committee "votes" according to the leadership decisions of the majority.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

The only 3 hour tests I ever took were AP and college finals. We referred to them as brain-burners. Expecting 8-14 year olds to do intense long tests is deranged.


Anonymous said...

My information is that the bill has been sent to Rules to die without ever getting to the floor, and that what's more, Pettigrew and Santos are fully expecting it to die there.

My own best guess, unsupported by any hard evidence, is that these two are merely posturing for their more vocal constituents, and for the uninformed lot who think that any change must, by definition, be for the better.

HB 2048 is an atrocious, malicious piece of work that will make a bad situation far worse, and will lead to enough lawsuits to bankrupt any two districts, and ultimately, the destruction of public education in Seattle.

I believe this is the goal of the people who sold it to Pettigrew in the first place.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

We are considering The Center School for my daughter but I am concerned about the lease. The district has said it will be resigned and it is really just a rubber stamp. I don't trust the district. Any thoughts/information on the lease renewal?


Anonymous said...

The bad financial repercussions of a split are such basic, easy to understand economics.

Think of a marriage/joint household. Any group of people in one household.

Financial savings results from almost everything they do - only having one dishwasher, doing full loads of laundry, division of labor into specialties such as the person who prefers to mow the grass or does it faster does so, and the person who prefers or is better at doing the bill-paying does so.

So when they divide up, each party has to do everything - whether they're good at it or not - or hire it out if they can't do it. And of course then they have to duplicate a lot of "stuff" like dishwashers, clothes washers, lawn mowers, etc into the new households - or again, hire it out - and each of those things is actually used less. (Thus unused capacity for those high priced items like dishwashers, laundry, etc is wasted).

Two rents or mortgages too, after divorce, which is double overhead b/c instead of sharing common facilities like living room and bathroom, they each have a separate one. More waste. But you don't say to the divorced couple, sorry, only one of you gets the bathroom b/c we can't afford for each of you to have one - nope, they each rent a place with a bathroom b/c they each need one.

GAH - dividing the district - each new district will still have to have most of the same overhead! They will still have to have central kitchen facilities, maintenance dept's, busing, grass mowing, storage spaces, etc. And yet NONE of the economies of scale savings, or full utilization of the built common facilities, or savings from specialization. Instead of having a dept that orders food, paper, toner, lightbulbs, etc in bulk for the whole district and stores and tracks it, there will be TWO offices doing exactly the same work. There is no savings in dividing up that work - in fact, there is extra chance for loss/fraud, extra chance for someone to be just not good at that job, etc. Things like: instead of having a few guys who specialize in those extremely large old boilers for work across the district, both new districts will EACH have to have someone who does boilers.

It's just incredibly wasteful of money to divide up into smaller units.

And MONEY is what we need MORE of to educate kids.

I'm not saying downtown is great - but two downtowns? Better? NO. And anyone who thinks decentralization is going to be cheaper is smoking too much MMJ on Lake City Way.

Anything that takes more money out of schools/kids and puts it into duplicate overhead is just dumb.

Signed: Math Counts

Anonymous said...

Boy some people need to go back to school.

SPS currently has TOO MANY administrators! SPS claims the district size requires that many!

Ok then it needs to be split! I say you can run each new district will less than 200 people in central administration. That's a total of 400 about a 70% savings.

There's a huge cost savings opportunity with automation and modernization.

Also, why the hell are we paying for an additional ghost district the PSESD How many admins do they have?

This turning into one giant fiasco.

Seattle should be utterly embarrassed by SPS.

Eat Cake

Melissa Westbrook said...

The district has said it will be resigned and it is really just a rubber stamp.

What does that sentence mean?

As far as I know the district plans to keep Center School there. Did the district/school say anything differently?

"There's a huge cost savings opportunity with automation and modernization."

Of what?

mirmac1 said...

Interesting Friday memos.

Po3 said...

In addition to a continued lease I would also question where Center would land if the district is split.

If north then would south students get booted or vice versa? Or would Center become like Aviation HS where a limited number students outside the district could enroll?

And in a split, could Center even fill up as it draws city-wide.

Things think about...

Anonymous said...

Mercer Island is proceeding full force to teach a 2nd language from K on. Looks like probably Spanish but not settled yet. New program with subsequent higher level language in middle school will roll out in a couple years.

Dual Cert

Anonymous said...

I filed SBAC refusal forms yesterday. The Staff at school have been very supportive.


mirmac1 said...

I see that the PSESD already has a "regional committee on district organization" with a nearly all Seattle-area seats vacant.

Anonymous said...

I am a little cloudy on when we might expect to see SBAC testing at our school. Are all SPS schools moving toward this in the fall, and only some testing this test in the spring? Is this explained anywhere on the district website in a comprehensive manner?

Stepj: Would you be willing to share what school you are at and what forms you are using?


Anonymous said...

Melissa, it's so great to have you back. Wishing you the best.


Lara said...

Pro publica did a piece on Charter School authorizers and challenges. Interesting read. Sample: "But many of these gatekeepers are woefully inexperienced, under-resourced, confused about their mission or even compromised by conflicts of interest. And while some charter schools are overseen by state education agencies or school districts, others are regulated by entities for which overseeing charters is a side job, such as private colleges and nonprofits like the Audubon wildlife rehabilitation center."
Read here:]

Anonymous said...

Is 1497 dead-Mayoral appt of school board directors- or can it rise up as an amendment to some unrelated bill? It does not appear to have been brought up for vote in the Ed. Committee.


Anonymous said...

Its incredible how poorly the district takes care of the basics like curriculum adoption.

In the Friday memo mirmac linked to, the Middle School Social Studies curriculum is up for renewal. It was last reviewed in 1996.

Nearly twenty years. I was in middle school in 1996.

One of the core duties of a school district has to be a regular review of curricular materials to make sure they are aligned with standard and are effective. How does the district let this slip for twenty years?

Why is there not a regular schedule for review and renewal, for all grades and subjects?

There's been some noise on this blog about the need for a review of the middle school and high school math curriculum and materials. I certainly agree that needs to be done. But the cynic in me says that the staff will not initiate this process until we've gone through another school board election cycle. This process would be much better if there was simply a schedule that allowed for components of the curriculum to be reviewed on at regular intervals.


Maureen said...

I opted my 11th grader out of SBAC simply by sending an email to the testing coordinator (she is part of the counseling staff at Ingraham.) My student will just go to the cafeteria or another teacher's classroom and will be marked absent for the exams. Because I sent the email the reason for absence will be "parent refusal." No official form necessary. The testing coordinator was very supportive as well. I made a point of saying I wish they would just let her do her job which is to make sure kids graduate!

At Ingraham, the tests are scheduled for the weeks before and after spring break (they are listed on the web page):

April 6th- 9th – Online ELA and Math SBAC (11th grade only, computer labs)

April 20-24 - Online ELA and Math SBAC (11th grade only, computer labs)

Anonymous said...


I used the form at this link:

A different commenter had posted this link on a different thread.

The SBAC is replacing the MSP and will be given at every school to students in grades 3-12. The timing will vary by school, but will be sometime from now until the end of the school year. If you check in with your school office they should be able to tell you when the testing is scheduled at your school.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Northwesterner, good questions. The Board just found out that the district had done no review of the company handling employee benefits for 20 years.

Yes, a schedule is a good idea but see, upper management has their own wants and needs. Apparently timely curriculum review is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Anyone heard the news about Mr. Floe at Ingraham?

I heard there's a investigation going on?


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick said...

How can people in 2014 think that their work email is private enough to talk that way??

mirmac1 said...

northwesterer, I am equally upset. The Science curricula was last review in '97. Staff always cries poverty. But Boy there's always money for Common Core, whatever the City wants, community-alignment, tests and computers so they can do nice powerpoints showing the gaps.

They need to spend their time on fixing the gaps, and providing our kids materials so they can LEARN!!

Anonymous said...

There was a 4th and 8th grade Washington State History alignment and adoption in 2010. Books were purchased and distributed to schools the following school year. Since the class is typically only offered for a semester in 8th grade, that leaves the other 2.5 years of the middle school SS content untouched for too long.

Anonymous said...

Just because you can request emails through a public records request doesn't mean it's right to post with full names here. Yes, the conversation was inappropriate, but what purpose does it serve to post it here?

Post with names redacted or delete.


Anonymous said...

Our child's class does not even have enough WA State history texts for the full class - they share a text with a classmate. Appropriate texts for US and World History are long overdue. If your child is in HCC/APP, write the SS Dept. head and request that 6-8 HCC/APP be included in the materials adoption as well.

books needed

Anonymous said...

Government Employees and Email

Government employees have even less privacy than the little privacy a typical employee in the private sector may have. Under various public records acts and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the public can gain access to almost anything a government employee writes down. Also, due to the nature of their job, courts are typically unwilling to find that government employees had a reasonable right to privacy in the first place.

Smokem out

Anonymous said...

@cringing -I had the same reaction as you. It is impossible to tell if it is a personal or pvt email. The names should've been redacted!

cringing 2

ConcernedSPSParent said...

I disagree cringing, if this is publicly available information there is no requirement to redact.

Patrick said...

Cringing, this is email they wrote for which they were collecting a public salary, therefore in general it's public.

Anonymous said...

SPS will redact any documents they send out. If it wasn't redacted then it's fit to print, As they say.

So,Paulsness believes most of the special education students' parents can't that suppose to be a joke?

Bad Joke

Melissa Westbrook said...

Readers, this is a community forum but 1) it's belongs to Charlie and me and 2) we have rules.

Please do not post e-mails unless you obtained them legally, with names (and not tell who the people are) and what their relationship is. No.

The blog is not here for personal uses. It's a community forum.

Anonymous said...


Just because you *can* legally obtain emails under FOIA doesn't mean you *should* post peoples emails with their names on a public blog, especially when those emails constitute a private, non (minimally) work related exchange between 2 individuals. Yes it was unwise for those people to have that sort of conversation on their work emails - best done on their personal email accounts or over the phone - but what do you hope to achieve by posting this publicly. I can't see how this exchange is relevant to any student/educational issue. It reflects badly on the individuals but we don't know they aren't just joking around, and furthermore, just because they have been exposed saying this sort of stuff doesn't mean they are alone in these attitudes - likely many of their colleagues share similar tidbits in a more private forum.
Has anyone here never gossiped about, complained about, belittled, badmouthed, or laughed over a customer, boss, client, colleague, work situation? Ever? Hopefully you never did it via FOIA-obtainable work email which is smart, lucky, or both but I bet most people here have indulged in similar sort of jokey, bad-taste chat at or about work. I don't have such rose-tinted glasses that I expect that school staff/teachers etc never think or express anything critical, cynical, or sarcastic about their students, parents, colleagues or district personnel. It's just human nature.
These people should know better than to email it on their work accounts but it does not show the readership of this blog in a good light to be putting this out there for all to read without blanking the names out and for no reasonable purpose than to humiliate/shame those identified.

Melissa - I think you should consider removing or reposting that post with the names deleted.

People in glass houses

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hello, I deleted 10 minutes before your post, People.

Anonymous said...

Oh FYI - I'm an MD and I sure as hell have joked about and complained about patients, my superiors, hospital administration, drug reps etc to my colleagues. Ever hear of the book by 'House of God' by Samual Shem I think - bit of an eye opener in this regard.
In the (bad) old days patient charts commonly contained uncomplimentary acronyms -obviously unacceptable but that was a different time and patients didn't usually ever access their records. Of course no one puts that sort of stuff in their patient charts nowadays and rightly so, but it doesn't mean Drs still don't think it or say it to someone close. Doing so doesn't automatically mean they are not compassionate and respectful in their interactions with patients or colleagues, or good at what they do. Sometimes its a way of handling some of the stressful or unpleasant stuff we deal with, letting off steam. I'm sure Sped teachers get a lot of that too. Maybe I'm just a terrible person but somehow I don't think I'm alone.
I do believe it's highly likely that teachers at times talk disparagingly about our kids, or us as parents, or their principal or whatever.
It doesn't necessarily make them bad teachers or bad people - it makes them human.

People in glass houses

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@Telling Friends,

Melissa Westbrook and Charlie Mas run this blog as a public service. Since it's their blog, they take responsibility for it and they get to make the rules.

If you don't appreciate what they do, you are free to start your own blog, but don't insult them on their blog.


Anonymous said...

@Telling friends, it's simple. It's her blog. She sets the rules. That's it.

knot untwist

Anonymous said...

Wha I'm taking by ball home.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I do not understand why Melissa is being attacked here. She provides a service for us to allow us to trade information.

-HS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not allow comments? That's pretty funny given how heated discussions can get and how many times Charlie and I get challenged.

My life would be much easier without comments.

But this blog would not serve its purpose nor would I learn what others - parents, teachers and staff - have on their minds.

Let's keep it civil.

cmj said...

There are some merits to smaller school districts but I do not think that splitting SPS would fix the problems. I'm deeply concerned that splitting the district would increase the administrative costs. Whatever else they may be, the current administration is extremely good at justifying swelling the ranks at JSCEE ever further, year after year.

The current district is a large, clumsy beast that reacts slowly. If it grows to 100k students, I would have no problem seeing it split. There is a point at which a district simply becomes too big to function. Yet I am uneasy about the current bill.

Instead of splitting the current district, I'd advocate for treating the schools like laboratories. Unless student performance starts dropping, let principals and teachers pick their own curricula. If student achievement increases after they start using XYZ math textbooks, let the other principals know that it's worth looking into XYZ textbooks.

Would a split district be better at serving ESL/FRL/SPED populations? Perhaps FRL, but probably not ESL or SPED. You need a critical mass of a certain population (such as dyslexics) before it becomes easy or efficient to offer them services. Splitting the district, I suspect, would marginalize special-need populations even further.

Anonymous said...

Can you *imagine* the hew-and-cry, the protests, the investigation, the civil rights complaint *if* 2 white legislators tried a move to *separate* the district because they though white people were being ignored/under served/under funded because so much of the District focus was on meeting the needs non-white students who lived in the SE?

Yes, that would be offensive. And racist. And yet when these two do it, nobody has the temerity to call them out for their racist BS.

The hypocritical political correctness of this town is enough to make this voter consider going red. It speaks volumes that amongst all the other criticism for this split-the-district proposal, no one has called out the odious racist underpinnings that is centeral to the split.

People have critized the duplicated costs, financial waste, and inefficiencies, but what about the racism? This move was motivated by race, how is that okay?

Together united

Rufus X said...

@Together United said "And yet when these two do it, nobody has the temerity to call them out for their racist BS."

Can you clarify who you are asserting is racist or is the perpretrator of "racist BS"?

mirmac1 said...

I'll just say the cringing about protecting public servants (yes that's what they are) when they use public resources as private whining tools is utterly ludicrous. No other agency would consider this witty repartee as something others should protect, redact, worry about and self censor. Frankly those who exercise this kind of "joking" or "private" language about who they serve should be outed. Like that cop who posted racist crap on Facebook then acted out while under the color of law. Sorry but lesson one in life is do not write anything on public accounts that you would not expect to be published. Period. There is no take-backsies when you're in my kids classroom and giving him busy work while you take a "personal" day on the clock.

Anonymous said...


It's one thing if a person wants to publish the results of their PRR on their own blog. Then they can stand by their statements and defend them if need be. It's another when they do so anonymously on someone else's blog.

Blog owners can and do get sued for all kinds of things, whether or not there is any validity to the lawsuit.

Because there is little risk to anyone who posts anonymously and there is great risk to the owner of this blog, and because the owners of this blog have no way to substantiate the veracity of quasi-slanderous comments, I think it behooves the owners of this blog to remove such comments as it serves them no good purpose and puts them at risk for nuisance suits.


Anonymous said...

@ mirmac
"Frankly those who exercise this kind of "joking" or "private" language about who they serve should be outed. Like that cop who posted racist crap on Facebook then acted out while under the color of law."

Unless there is evidence that the individuals have acted inappropriately in their capacity as teacher then this is not the same at all.

" Sorry but lesson one in life is do not write anything on public accounts that you would not expect to be published. Period. "

It was inappropriate for a public servant to write something like that on a work email, however, I would argue that it is equally inappropriate for folks to misuse the FIOA to go on fishing expeditions and then publish this with the people identified.

Glass houses

Anonymous said...

We are considering opting our 5th grader out of Smarter Balanced. Just getting started investigating pros/cons. Have contacted the opt out group but we don't have #FB. Any other recommendations from folks? Particularly on the cons side?

OptOut Nube

mirmac1 said...

My comment is not where the information is published, rather whether the public record is published at all. A suit would have no legs. Judge: did you write this? Public servant: uh yeah. Judge: case dismissed.

Remember that Enfield said a lot of dumb things in her emails that revealed a lot about her. Is there a difference between the public utterings of the top dog and a minion?

I'm not defending the posting of minion whozits email in this particular case. But I will defend the right to know what a public servant says.

mirmac1 said...

BTW I see the Seattle PD has put in place strict rules on officers' use of social media. Even without "evidence that an individual acted inappropriately in their capacity" as a public servant.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac defends the public printing of these emails because Mirmac printed the Enfield ones back in the day. Hounded the woman. It was tacky then and the recent posting was tacky now. Who cares if it's legal. It's bullying straight out. Not one of us is clear of having been snarky in private. It's a way of blowing off steam to then do the right thing even when we don't feel like it in public.

Grow Up

Anonymous said...

To echo mirmac1's comments about the "publicness" of government employees' written output and work product, if a government worker (Larry Nyland, or the lowest paid part-time secretary) sends an email from their government email address OR if they send it during clock hours from their personal email adress but from their government computer OR after hours from their personal phone from their personal email account BUT about their 'job stuff' THAT IS ALL SUBJECT TO STATE PUBLIC DISCLOSURE. (FOIA is different).

There are certain carve outs to this Disclosure law: they are reasonable and well described. But, expressly, "privacy" is NOT an exception to disclosure. There are protections for student privacy, etc.

Basically, government workers work for US. You and me. We pay their salaries. We are their employers, they are our employees. Of course we should be able to see what our employees are doing when they are at their jobs all day long -- via requests for their emails, for example. How else can a boss manage their employee if we never get to see what they are actually doing?

Basically, if they are doing their job right, and all is going well, we public won't become that micromanaging boss. But when things are going badly, you bet we are going to be looking closely at what the heck our employees are (or are not) doing, so that we can determine if the issue is structural or employee specific.

(Remember those math adoption emails -- where Teaching and Learning tried out sedition to 'win' their pet choice text book, and cow principals? I do. That told me it was an employee specific problem, not a structural problem).

The spectra of Disclosure may be chilling, it could be argued, but it is intended to keep everyone professional (and honest).

Disclosure may be cumbersome or intrusive, but two things: (1) an individual is always free to NOT work for our government and (2) it may be annoying but it is also THE essential 'check-and-balance'.

And while getting a pertinent 'hidden' email sent on a personal email account may be practically more challenging, those puppies do come out all the time in discovery.

We also have an ethics law that binds all public employees. That too is critical to the function of efficient, effective, productive and transparent government. We pay for it. We have a right to it.

Disclosure fan

Anonymous said...

The disclosure of emails by Enfield let the public know the extent of her wooing and and wine soirees to get TFA into this district.

She was the heir apparent to the positon of superintendent during the time of the disclosures by Mirmac.

The fact that Enfield "changed her mind" (and subsequently broke DeBell's heart) probably was in no small part due to these disclosures.

Thanks again, Mirmac. We could be have been stuck with Enfield--who promised Soup with the Supe to the peon teachers but only showed up during a photo op.

p.s. The release of the email on this thread seemed to serve no greater purpose than to remind people of the facts that disclosure fan just stated.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

Grow Up,

What is better: hear complaints about malfeasance, duplicity, intolerance, fill-in-blank from someone about our public servants; or read it directly from the source and draw your own conclusions. Perhaps you don't want to know one way or the other, but there are others who have a right to know. I've seen some SPS staff work studiously to try to hide their acts, spin the story or discredit the messenger (i.e. massive student data breach). There is an amazing dearth of records on the mystery $250K Gates check and PreK grant. Unfortunately I've seen the district often take the position of doing business as usual English-style but, hey, at least the "community" is being "engaged" or managed/manipulated.

I am cynical. You have not read the thousands of pages I've seen. But it is clear you are not interested and would prefer to read School Beat for your information.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, again.

Do not post any type of e-mail that has staff names, no matter how you obtained the e-mails.

If you have information that you think pertinent to SPS, send it to me or Charlie FIRST. We'll decide.

Together United, I previously mentioned that I don't know the racial makeup for children living in 37th but information is available at OSPI for children in that area in SPS. I also said that Tomiko Santos told me that she had been, for a long time, very unhappy about how children in those school in the 37th.

Anyone can draw their own conclusions from those two facts.

Grow Up, you are mistaken about public e-mails. You may not like it but those Enfield e-mails - some of which I obtained - had very much to do with how she was doing her job especially around TFA.

Anonymous said...

I find it odd in the 600 emails sent to me by the district regarding the SPED DATA BREACH there was only one between two Ballard high school teachers, one current and one retired working as a sub. How is it possible with 2300 teachers only one teacher decided to email another about the subject? Did the district violate the law and hold back other emails? or did someone want to OUT these two teachers.

I found the SPED DATA BREACH extremely serious and I EXPECT every single one of the PUBLIC EMPLOYEES at SPS to also take it seriously.

Not only did these two think it was a joke, one choose to take it further and proclaim SPED parents must be either illiterate or Non-English speaking, both highly offensive remarks.

Day Light

Anonymous said...

Why is it OK to be critical the SPS administration on this blog, but criticism of teachers seem to be off-limits?

Personally I'm more concerned about teachers than administrators.

Just Asking

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just Asking, are you asking me or readers? Because Charlie and I certainly have called out staff of all kinds.

Anonymous said...

Is there a blog focused on Special Education in Seattle Public Schools Anyone have the link?

Last year, SPS diverted SpEd K students away from their home attendance schools (our children are general education students first) and into a temporary location at Lincoln.

Because of the pervasive and acute capacity crisis in the north and in Queen Anne, SPS grafted 3 SpEd classrooms worth of students (2 SM4 and 1 SM4I) onto what is arguably a dying program whose fate is highly questionable. Parents had to fight those assignments, when they never should have been put in that position to begin with.

That program's enrollment shrank again this year, even with the stacking of SpEd, and now additional programs are going into that corner of the building. A lot more chaos, a lot more instability. Essentially, the very 2 things our kids need the least. (Actually, no kid needs those, but, children who have the most difficult time with transitioning are in the worst position to deal with instability and chaos. My child couldn't handle a sub.)

Our kid is older now, but get the word out to the parents of elementary aged children, especially kindergarteners, about their rights to be assigned like everyone else in their neighborhood to their neighborhood school, unless their needs are particularly best served by a specialized niche program, like one for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NOT that their children are being served at all!). Isn't it about time that certain SpEd-free neighborhood attendance area elementary schools gain a classroom of SM2 or SM4? So that our children can be accommodated close to home? Yes, it may add a portable, but that seems to be happening regardless of SpEd, so, it is time to repatriate SpEd back into the most popular schools (and not only the least popular, most avoided ones). The time to push on this hard is now. Demand a LRE right in your home school. Tell them to implement a program there to serve your child.

What will it takes to stop history from constantly repeating?

sit upfront

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mary G said...

There's a report going around on both Kiro and Seattle PI that pot is responsible for 77% of all disciplinary actions since January of this year.
If this is true, this is a stunning statistic, but how would one know? The district has been unable to produce any reliable statistics for the last two years, and certainly not any resembling real time statistics and now all the sudden it is able to produce statistics since January of this year? Four years ago, which is the last year I was able to get good statistics, there were 431 incidents of selling or possessing illegal drugs or controlled substances in the entire district. Considering there were 4617 disciplinary actions recorded that involved suspension or expulsion, that would make 9.3% of disciplinary actions involved all illegal drugs/controlled substances That would There isn't even a code for just offenses for marijuana. What gives?

Anonymous said...

# stay classy - you got it!

I'm am all for daylighting the shenanigans that go on with the curriculum adoptions, preK, wheeling and dealing with the city, selling off building, data breaches, all the other crap that SPS gets involved in - but I don't see how some throw-way comments emailed between 2 teachers is relevant to that.
Publicly posting that is not exposing any malfesceance or dodgy dealings or anything. You could say their emails indicate a culture problems at SPS - well the leadership set the tone in an organization so focus on that. Those 2 have no power, they're not spending our tax dollars, or making decisions that will affect student and families for decades to come. They are nobodies - go after the somebodies! Public employees or not, I think you misguided if you think its defensible to post that with names attached. It's not like they were tweeting it or posting it on Facebook. Where do you draw the line at public record requests?
I'm not defending what these teachers said or how/where they said it (work email, bad idea) - but I am defending their right not to have these trivial emails, with names attached splashed over a blog for the world to see (if they implicated them in wrongdoing - then maybe that would be a different story..)


Anonymous said...

@grow up and @#stay classy,

Aren't you both blaming/shooting the messenger?

The emails speak for themselves. It was not about those emails getting 'outed' or disclosed; nor was it about who does the disclosing. (I'm glad people like Melissa take the time to do these disclosure requests and follow up to make sure we all have a chance to be aware of what's going on).

It comes down to this: Don't do the crime of you can't do the time.

The authors of these emails know full well they are subject to disclosure. They should not write that which, after the fact, they realize is indiscreet or untoward. (take-away: show some judgment, for goodness sake!).

Highly placed public servants and elected officials no full well this all comes with the territory. Cooking. Heat. Kitchen.

And, more importantly, of the people, by the people, for the people.

OF THE PEOPLE, lest we forget. That's us. You and I.

Disclosure Fan

Anonymous said...


You may think it is small potatoes and they are just no bodies, but what I know as a SpEd mama twice-over is that it is teachers who I need the most, appreciate the most, and fear the most. They are suppose to follow our children's IEPs, but when you find yourself having to beg them just to read the IEP in the first place... Yeah, it is that bad. As a SpEd parent, this info in that email is VERY revealing. And I want to know it, not for the sake of gossip (I could care less), but for the sake of my child. To have either of my children in either of their classes? I have to protect my children. Specially, I to protect my children from them. So yeah, it matters. I don't have the luxury of being able to waste a semester or two of my student's time by parking them in front of a teacher who holds me (and by inference them) in contempt.

You may find it trivial. You may find this overblown. We may agree to disagree. But don't tell me, given the state of SpEd in this District, that we parents of children who have disabilities to not think a teacher disparaging parents as unable to read as not relevant to my decision making as a parent.

May you never be powerless. May you never be harassed. May you never know discrimination. May you always be able to be so dismissive and blasé, because that will mean you and your family are enfranchised.

Maybe you could wish the same for those of us with children who face challenges yours do not?

If you think I think either of those 2 teachers will do their jobs when it comes to my kids... maybe they would, but I can't afford to take a chance with my children. Set backs are too damaging. Professionalism is not too much to ask for. I'm not even asking for skillfulness or experience, but I sure as heck expect, in the absolute minimum, a positive attitude.

Public education is for the public. All comers. Ones from Haiti. Ones who cannot walk. Ones who love math. Ones who wear head scarves. Ones with lots of money. Ones who are neurodiverse. Ones who live in cars. All comers. If a teacher cannot deal, perhaps they should consider a career change.

attitude matters

Anonymous said...

Hey everybody, the Special Education program placement listings are out. Released the Friday before open enrollment. There are new ACCESS programs listed. On the SPS website, check it out. -ACCESS parent

Anonymous said...

Sit up front: are you talking about LS K-8 at Lincoln? Because it being in our neighborhood, at least temporarily, has made us very interested in putting our son who is in ACCESS, there next year. I am concerned to hear it is a "dying" program-I had heard that before when it was located elsewhere, but it seems that there are signs of life there. If that isn't the school you are talking about-my apologies.

I am happy to see more ACCESS programs going into option schools. They just released the program placement, and now there will be ACCESS at Thornton Creek also, making that at least half the option schools now with ACCESS. -ACCESS parent

Anonymous said...

To ACCESS parent (and others):

Re Licton Springs:

If your SpEd student cannot be fully immunized for some reason - fight against being sent to Licton Springs. It is one of the lowest immunization rates in the public school system, back when it was Pinehurst, and I imagine that continues this year too.

Signed: Math Counts

Anonymous said...

@sit upfront

Try goggling "Seattle Schools SPED community Forum"

I found a blog awhile back, but cant remember the URL. There's a couple of blogs out there.

SPED mom

seattle citizen said...

Disclosure Fan writes that if a public employee (including educators)"send [something...]after hours from their personal phone from their personal email account BUT about their 'job stuff' THAT IS ALL SUBJECT TO STATE PUBLIC DISCLOSURE."

Soo....educators should worry about someone requesting ALL their emails/texts etc made on their private phones and accounts?

Who will then be charged with viewing these private messages and redacting non-useful material, names, etc? Is this what you want, as a taxpayer, to be able to paw through the private communications on private devices between two public workers to find all the dirt? Will you get a warrant to search their trash cans at home and see what paper trail they might have left, with "job stuff" on it?

BY what legal authority and who would be charged with viewing these materials?

I'm certainly not discounting any concerns about special ed service, etc, but really? Do we want our educators to be worried that The Authorities are coming to take their phones and search them (maybe even on a fishing expedition) to acquire....whatever?

I doubt that's even legal. By what authority, except in a criminal investigation, would an educator be made to hand over their phone and/or account information, or allow their private carriers to do that? Ridiculous on its face. This is America. Are their private phone land lines also subject to inspection, to see who called whom when?

Now, SCHOOL email, or SCHOOL computers, yes. Search away. But private phones are private, as are all emails and texts sent from/to them. As they should be.

Anonymous said...

Could I ask a question related to the Opt-Out situation? My understanding that the Common Core basically comes with testing. I have had people argue that Common Core itself is excellent (which I don't agree with but that's another issue) and that it doesn't necessarily come with testing. The argument is that the public schools are [stupidly] "choosing" to combine CC with testing. Is this true?

Roosevelt Mom

seattle citizen said...

Common Core is the result of the work of some few people, funded mainly by the Gates Foundation, to design "common" standards - skills and knowledge students "should" know. CCSS far as they go. Many hit good targets. Potential issues:
1) They are "banded" or attached to specific grades. Now, for efficiency's sake educators probably SHOULD teach certain things at certain times, but individual development varies in students. As long as remediation and support is available, it's not so bad to expect certain skills by certain grades/ages. This also helps educators: vertical and horizontal curriculum planning is better because next year's teacher might know better what was taught this year. Without standards, there are more holes, as different teachers focus on different things.
2) Within disciplines, the standards say THESE should be taught. Anything outside that might not get taught (see tests; teaching to). So the CCSS developers are claiming specific and limited skills. These skills are pretty well laid out, but limited.
3) Some...many...disciplines aren't in the standards: art, civics, music...the list goes on. One might ask, Why not? And then, can art be standardized? Maybe...
State tests: Basically a separate animal that has been, intentionally, smooshed in with CCSS. CCSS developers didn't directly create the two testing systems that are in use to test CCSS (SBAC and PARRC - WA is SBAC by choice of state.)

Tests have become a huge deal. Schools don't get to choose. Tests are required by state, and also by feds when tied to fed ed funds. When first WA test came up in...1996?, the WASL, it was sold as a way to evaluate school programs - see how they were doing, what worked...students weren't required to pass in order to graduate in the original conception; it wasn't about individual students, it was about effectiveness of schools. But not in the super-onerous and punitive way they are used now. These days, the state tests are graduation requirements, evaluation tools (of schools and teachers), and funding determinants. They are required by all (yes, students can opt out, but state requires SOME THINK for graduation, and students must take SBAC to qualify for alternative CAA options (Certificate of Academic Achievement - the state's stamp of approval on a diploma. Before, a district gave the diploma, determined if conditions have been met. Now the state has a say.)

The tests are bad in many ways: they remove autonomy from states and districts; they aren't all that accurate or informative about a student's skills (sick kid, bad mood, confusing question, etc) and to attach such high stakes to them is dangerous; they narrow curriculum (if so much rests on them, likely to be taught to, to the exclusion of non-tested curricula); the results are being used inappropriately (teacher eval, inaccurate or even racist classification and disaggregation, finding craziness based on school results....); deprofessionalization of educators by publicly calling them "failures" based on faulty value-added metrics attached to tests AND sometimes turning them into teach-bots, busy following scripts to narrowly address mere, base standards ....
So schhols, districts, states don't choose to test - each is told to. The state could tell the Feds to bug off, and stop testing, but it won't. So in that sense it's a chouce, but everyone under state has to in order to meet state requirements. CCSS and tests aren't, supposedly, created as a package, but in this environment that's what they are. The same people want both: free market technocrats, some with good hearts and others looking to make money on a national system of curriculum, texts, teaching, testing, schools themselves all part of an "efficient" and profitable education machine, removed from the publics purview, de-unionized, and contracted out for pretty profit.

seattle citizen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I am with Attitude Matters on this. If a teacher does not respect the kids then the kids know it. Contempt will come through over time. Putting together a good lesson does not make up for that. Relationship with the teacher, trusting the teacher, is hugely important for a child to be able to learn from them. My kids have had these kind teachers before, they are worse than ineffective, they are harmful. Of all the populations that need to be able to trust their teachers, special needs students are the most vulnerable. I wouldn't want one of these teachers near vulnerable kids. If they don't like kids then they need a new profession.

- shocked

Watching said...

I'm finding it interesting that there are folks out there that REALLY want to carve-up Seattle Public Schools.

There have been TWO proposed bills to change the district's boundaries. The first bill is Pettigrew's bill for a partially appointed school board and Eric Pettigrew/ Sharon Tomiko-Santos's bill to divide the school district. I'm finding that the only people that are supporting the bill to divide the district are folks that have pushed charter schools such as Robin lake, David Brewster and Trish Dzikos. Are we looking at a one- two punch, here?

Yes, dividing the school district via HB 2480 is another top down initiative that we've seen with the charter school friendly crowd. It appears they have gotten quite good at these top- down strategies.

There is a large fiscal note to Pettigrew's bill to appoint school board members. They are quite willing to pay an individual $150/ hr for 1000 hrs to carve-up the district. Costs can be found here:

Costs to Seattle School District (per inquiry with the district) over the four year period between the effective date
of Sections 1, 2, and 3; and the expiration date of Section 4 (January 1, 2017 - January 1, 2021) include:
Boundary change costs (independent and expert boundary remapping consultant @ $150/hr for 1,000 hours);
boundary change communication costs; map printing; legal costs for compliance review of remapping activities:
Technology costs (update to district web site, revised boundary modeling software, etc.): $250,000;
Board startup costs (new member board training, etc.): $30,000;
Mayoral candidate search, community hearings and appointment costs: $20,000

Election costs would go down.

Watching said...

I also think the above costs are grossly under-estimated.

mirmac1 said...

Seattle citizen. You are mistaken. If a public employee uses their private email or phone to discuss work, they are required by law to produce the records. No cares about their emails to Nana, unless it is about work and a topic of interest to a requestor. If they fail to turn over responsive documents they could be liable for steep financial penalties charged for every day they subverted the law. This is why it is imperative that they NOT use personal accounts for public business. Read the Public Records Act and case law. The MRSC. org site is a great resource.

cmj said...

Legally, anything that is sent to a government employee's government address becomes a public record, even if the sender was not a government employee. If you're a civil servant, don't complain about your boss via work email. If you're an employee at a private company, don't do that either -- your IT department can read your email and your browser history.

Legally, there's nothing with posting emails between SPS employees, after the SPS public records officer has redacted them. However, let us have a bit of common decency. Let's not bully the staff, particularly the rank and file employees. Unless we really need to know who the employee is, there's not much reason to leave the name unredacted.

Ragweed said...

Licton Springs does not have the lowest rate of students out of compliance with vaccination. Roxhill is higher. But nearly all high FRL schools have non-compliance rates between 30-50%. And that doesn't mean the kids have not been vaccinated, but that there records are incomplete. For many students whose families rely on clinics or otherwise don't have a stable pediatrician, getting a complete vaccination record signed by a physician can be difficult. There are no vaccine exemptions at LS, unlike some other schools whose exemption rates are nearly 10%.

As for it being a dying program - our numbers are down a bit this year, largely because of transportation being yanked from a cohort of families that were told they were getting transportation.

If you are considering the ACCESS program at Licton Springs, please talk to some of the families or Special Ed teachers. I think you will find they tell you some glowing stories about the inclusiveness and support at LS. In a district where many schools and teachers seem to feel that SPED is a burden, we see inclusion as an essential part of our social justice mission. One of our ACCESS teachers told me in her long career at
SPS she has never seen a principle as engaged with the SPED students as at Licton Springs. So do come check out the school and decide for yourself.

seattle citizen said...

Well, mirmac, I stand corrected. It just seems like too much Big Brother. I understand that some might hide communications in private accounts, but every little comment is subject to review? Yes, these comments might be nasty and unproductive, but must every word (digitized) of a public employee become fair game for publication and analysis? I guess the law says yes. I suppose there is no alternative if one wants to make sure a public employee isn't hiding business in a private account, it just seems so distasteful ly intrusive.
I suppose, then, it's best to call your colleague on a public pay phone, out of sight of surveillance cameras, to make dumb, dark jokes....or not make them at all so educators can be the models of decency we expect, 24/7. Reminds me of a century ago, when educators were heavily scrutinized in their private lives.
But really, I make a mountain out of a molehill: it would be rare that an educator would have their private accounts FOIAed, and only if there was a perceived need. No one is going to go fishing through the private accounts of thousands of educators just to see what they can see.
It just strikes me as an intrusion.
On the other hand, I was once present when Jonathan Raban was discussing his then-new novel Surveillance. He was speaking at Elliott Bay at its old location in Pioneer Square. The novel imagined a near-future world where we were all in front of cameras, etc. He bemoaned that lack of privacy. I posed the following question: The exact place where we were, 1st and Main, once had two Duwamish longhouses on it. The longhouses had upwards of 100 people each. No privacy. Is there something to be said for living completely public lives, where everything is daylighted? He seemed intrigued by the question and so am I. Maybe we should expect NO privacy, and be accountable to our community for every word and action.

seattle citizen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
seattle citizen said...

Sorry, everyone, for the double postings. Don't know why it's happening. Maybe someone can intrusively ghost my android, look at my history, and tell me why it's double-posting! ; )

mirmac1 said...

No worries SC. Actually teachers could pick up their school phone and call their colleague to kibbitz. That's what they do at JSCEE. Ken Gotsch and Kevin Corrigan seemed to have a few meetings and carefully crafted emails after the Gates grant oopsie-daisie and mystery check, because voila SPS produced an implausible "reasonable" explanation. English could make some flip remark in an email and redact it because, hey, it was legal advice, right? He tried to redact Holly Ferguson snapping at Noel Treat about some inconvenience and claimed they were discussing English's advice. I should have sued them for trying to abuse the PRA and privileged information.

With Google and the NSA, I don't feel I have any privacy. I considered it a compliment though, when a long-lost cousin located me and said "man, you are completely off the grid Cuz!" He obviously doesn't follow Seattle Schools issues.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thanks Ragweed! I am a bit perplexed by Math Counts' posting. First of all, I would not "fight against" my son going to Licton Springs-I am actively considering placement there. We are in an ACCESS program at a very traditional school and prefer a more progressive school. As for vaccine rates, my kids are fully vaccinated. My understanding is there is a difference between "non-compliance" and "exemption" also. EDITED: Sorry, forgot to sign. -ACCESS parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

So I think the question was could you have Common Core without assessments? I might defer to SWK but I don't think so. I think states had to pick between the two groups - PARCC or Smarter Balanced.
WA state picked Smarter Balanced.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, let me see if I can answer this question by coming at it the long way.

The feds require that states that receive money under ESEA/Title I adopt academic content standards for reading/language arts, math, and science and to test students in reading/language arts and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school. They also require states to test students once in grades 3-5, 6-8, and once in high school in science. States can refuse the money but none do, so these are requirements.

The state of Washington requires districts and schools to teach the academic content standards and to administer the tests mentioned above to at least 95% of all students and within designated student subgroups.

Back in 1993, WA passed a law requiring OSPI to create the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) --- our academic content standards --- and to develop the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) --- our state assessment program.

The WASL, when first conceptualized, was to be given in reading and math in grades 4, 7, and 10 and in science in grades 5, 8, and 10. And it was always conceived to be a graduation requirement --- seattle citizen is wrong about this. This "myth" is often stated but it was always, even before HB 1209 was passed in 1993, conceived to be part of high school graduation.

When No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was passed by Congress as the reauthorization of ESEA back in 2001, it maintained the requirement that states adopt academic content standards but now required that states test reading/language arts and math annually in grades 3-8 and once in high school. Science still is only tested once the grade bands previously mentioned. NCLB also added the accountability requirements under which we currently operate. The WASL was then changed by state law to grades 3-8 and 10.

When the feds were handing out money (under a competitive grant program) for Race to the Top, they required states adopt the Common Core State Standards and to join one of the two assessment consortia --- PARCC or Smarter Balanced. Washington competed for the money (but didn't win any) so adopted the CCSS and joined Smarter Balanced.

When the feds created the ESEA/NCLB waivers, they required states to adopt college and career ready standards, but didn't require that they adopt the CCSS as these standards. They also required states develop a state assessment system to test these standards but didn't require states join either consortium. They also required states tie student test scores on these state assessment to teacher evaluation. We don't have a waiver because we don't require student test scores in teacher evaluation.

This is essentially where we stand now. The CCSS have replaced the EALRs and the SBAC assessments have now replaced our state assessment program --- the MSP, HSPE, and EOCs (which replaced the WASL).

So, we have to have assessments but we don't have to have the CCSS. Theoretically, states could have the Common Core without assessments but not really. They have to have the assessments and they have to have content standards. But to be clear, states are not required to join either of the consortia. About half the states now are not in either.

--- swk

seattle citizen said...

Concise description, swk, thank you! Wow. Nicely described. Thanks for correcting my misconception about WASL not being conceived of as a grad requirement.
Overall, I understand a need for standards (though I wish they weren't narrowed to base core subjects) but believe that they should be advisories of sorts, guiding educators but not hamstring ing them. They ARE such advisories until they are attached to these high-stakes tests and multiple layers of bureaucracies start pawing over the data and applying onerous repercussions based on the scores.
Teaching IS part art, and I believe it benefits education to allow teachers some discretion and idiosyncratic - over 12 years students are exposed to a variety of ideas, some not strictly regimented. To hold students and educators to THIS standard at THIS time to THIS as Essex level (often somewhat arbitrarily assigned and measured) seems to narrow the academic experience.

Anonymous said...

Considering all the emails I've seen from SPS employees why does it seem it is mostly general education teachers and SPED administrators making the disparaging comments about SPED students?

I would NEVER send disparaging emails out about my customers, co-workers or managers, period!

SPS employees need to learn who the customers are.

Day Lighting

Melissa Westbrook said...

"When the feds were handing out money (under a competitive grant program) for Race to the Top, they required states adopt the Common Core State Standards and to join one of the two assessment consortia --- PARCC or Smarter Balanced. Washington competed for the money (but didn't win any) so adopted the CCSS and joined Smarter Balanced."

Oh THAT's right, that kinda like blackmail for money called RTTT. thanks for the reminder.

mirmac1 said...

And we bought into it hook line and sinker with our own little mini-me RTTT, Road Map.

Anonymous said...

mirmac: on the disclosure issue. Could you clarify for me? If I am teacher A, and -- in the evening, or on a weekend, I send to my mother (also an educator, though retired), an email that states my views about something generally (not specific students, or even my principal, but something like -- professional development requirements, or standardized testing) -- are you saying that that email is subject to public disclosure? What you are saying would make sense if it was like Chris Christie's staff in NJ -- where they were deliberately using private email to keep planning for the bridge closure off their public emails. But I am blown away by the idea that a teacher's email to her mom, off hours, would be subject to public disclosure.

Can you enlighten?


Anonymous said...

So I guess one of the questions is whether or not the SBAC assessments are reliable and valid measures of the extent to which students know the standards.

I haven't looked into this much, but here's an interesting link.

Half Full

Mary G said...

The Washington State Public Records Act RCW 42.56, provides that the term "public record" refers to any writing relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental function that is prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form. The term writing is broadly construed to include photos, tweets, emails, recordings, etc. The Public Records Act is broadly construed and prioritized above privacy. It is likely that any email that you send as a teacher would be construed as a public record and would not be exempt from a public records request. But rather than take mirmac1's word, or my word, I think it would be wise to contact the WA State Assistant Attorney General for Open Government, Nancy Krier
360-586-7842 to seek clarification. Yes, it stinks, but it is probably better to send your mom emails from your private account.

seattle citizen said...

Mary G - I read Jan's request for clarification to include private accounts. And from mirmac's description (and yours: tweets, etc) the law would include private email accounts. So writing dear ol' mom about some boondoggle on a private account might come back to bite a teacher in the butt. Not likely, as who would ask for random teachers' private emails, but I suppose if a parent or somebody was legitimately (or not) concerned about what a teacher might be writing they could FOIAED that teacher’s private emails relating to school....eeeep.

Anonymous said...

I don't need to give you hypothetical, here's a real world example:

> Hi Bob
> I'm awake, :) I approved the revised Scope of Work prior to going on vacation and left word for that approval to
be sent to you.
> Can you respond to my private email regarding this. I need the final TIERS REPORT to address the ineffective
admin support that I currently have. PLEASE.
> Name has been removed
> Executive Director
> Special Education
> Seattle Public Schools

What happened next was a request for access to the above gmail account and guess what, I got it.

This is just one of numerous examples I have of similar situations involving various employees.

Day Lighting

Mary G said...

Jan G and seattle citizen,

I'm not an attorney, but I can't see how such a discussion on a private email account during off hours would be subject to public disclosure. It doesn't really concern her job as a teacher and it has nothing to do any governmental function. It seems more like an invasion of privacy. In the few cases in Washington that I know of, it was clear that there was evidence of governmental functioning happening in private emails. For example, in one recent case, the government employee suggested that they use her private email account in her conversations with a contractor awardee.

But like I said, don't take my word for it, get some clarification from someone with a real name and an official title. And get it in writing.

Ragweed said...

@ACCESS Parent.

Well, there is a legitimate concern that some ACCESS families were assigned to our school in an inappropriate manner by central staff, when they should have been served in or close to their neighborhood school. And honestly we have over the years struggled with issues related to multiple closure threats, declining enrollment (largely as a result of those threats and changes in transportation areas), a new principal and staff turnover, and a number of changes imposed by central staff. It is definitely not a school for everyone, and I won't pretend that every student is a success case. And there were legitimate concerns about our academics 5-10 years ago - the approach was so free-form and individualized that some students were able to leave unprepared for high school.

However, today we have a strong faculty and a culture where we still respect each child as an individual and allow them freedom to explore their interests, but also have rigorous expectations for the work they do. By the time students graduate from 8th grade at Licton Springs, they have done several major research and writing projects easily equivalent of a 10-page high-school paper, presented their work visually and defended them orally, presented and performed as a historical character on stage, participated in a modern dance performance at McCaw Hall that the students themselves choreographed with teachers at the Pacific Northwest Ballet, spent a week back-packing in the North Cascades, and a whole bunch of other things I never did in middle school (with appropriate modifications and accommodations where needed, and not just where required). I have seen my learning-disabled daughter, who has a significant speech disorder, become a proud, confident, poet, lover of history, and public speaker thanks to this school.

If you want to talk to some of the ACCESS parents about their experience we would be happy to connect you - email the site council at

mirmac1 said...

Jan, if your email from your private account is not directly related to the work you do for SPS, rather it's on broad policy issues like standardized testing, then I expect no judge in a show-cause hearing would say you withheld a public record.

Here is an excellent resource on the subject:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, everyone, for the explanations about testing as it relates to Common Core. Very helpful!!

Roosevelt Mom

Anonymous said...

A 5th grader brought pot to school at Highland Park Elementary and tried to get other students to take it.

I am horrified. Sad that that 5th grader is being exposed to whatever s/he is being exposed to in her/his home environment and sad for all the other 5th graders who, by proxy, got subjected to that same home environment. And frightened: our oldest is a 5th grader. We've talked about drugs so he knows how dangerous and illegal they are for all, but especially for children.

So Sad

Anonymous said...

Thanks mirmac1: I suspect (hope) that that would indeed be the case. And I totally get why you can't make a blanket exception for private email accounts, because people who don't want daylight to shine on their official misconduct WILL abuse it. But it does present an interesting (and to me, from a privacy/civil rights point of view) issue.


Watching said...

swk and others,

You may be interested in researching SBAC's validity and reliability.

The district will present an assessment workshop to the board- this week. GMMB gas been paid an enormous amount of dollars to keep SBAC and CCSS on track. To me, the district's presentation looks like talking points etc. from GMMB. GMMB a high profile political consulting and advocating group.

mirmac1 said...


Love it! "Gas" versus "has" supported SBA; both are apropos based on the suitcases I saw at the work session last night.