Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Open Thread

 UPdate:  huge shout-out to the Seahawks Richard Sherman who made a surprise visit to Rainier Beach High School yesterday. 

It's already started but the (NFFTY) Film Festival for Talented Youth is a good bet for this weekend.

Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times tries to talk about ed reform, with the premise that K-12 ed reform is over and now it's about birth to five.  (Geez, do these people just all get the same memo/tweet/fax in the morning?)  Of course, the early years are important but that's not really the point.

His real premise (as I see it) is buried in one of his three reasons why everyone should move on:

Education inequity is America’s original sin.

No, it's not.  America's original sin is a two-fold one.  It is the double whammy of slavery (and its generational legacy) and the treatment of the original peoples of this land.  That, Mr. Kristof, is our "original sin."  As well, it is not education inequity that is really the problem - it's income inequality.  My belief is that you will not solve one without the other and that is the likely reason that you only see pockets of change rather a mass moving of the needle. 

From Madison Middle School yesterday:
At approximately 10:20am a female scholar was followed from the Metro bus stop at McDonalds and California west on Stevens by a man who approached her from behind and grabbed her.  He was described as an African man in his early 20’s or 30’s, thin build, with short curly hair. Our scholar turned and yelled at him, and he ran back toward PCC on California. She proceeded to school and immediately reported the incident to school staff. Madison administration notified the family and the Seattle Police Department, who are actively investigating.

According to the Governor's office, there will be a Special Session of the Legislature, starting next Wednesday, April 29th (although budget writers will be working on Monday).  I'm with reader Eric B.  They work by day, get locked up in jail by night and it would get done in 5 days.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure we read the same article. Kristoff was talking about the study on brain surface area of poor children, discussed on the blog recently, and the idea of early intervention in poor children's lives through home visits.

Supported by democrats and republicans,these programs to reach children very early are seen as the best way to raise cognitive ability and close the achievement gap.

It's vital to get to these kids early and break the cycle of poverty and even he playing field.


Anonymous said...

At best, government programs to provide early childhood support can only provide a fraction of the benefit that a real family can.

The real goal should be to have children raised in two parent families that place a priority on educating their kids. Anything else is a band aid.

Families first

Anonymous said...

It's the same article, Samantha. Kristoff is an ed reform supporter. He's basically conceding that his "side" is losing the PR game--so he is shifting his emphasis to preK.

What he's not admitting (or perhaps he is simply woefully self-unaware) is that this is the same emphasis that other ed reformers are also now taking. It's the quickest way to get $$$ in the cookie jar.

The study that was done about poverty is being widely circulated and demands attention and action. However, Kristoff outed himself (and other ed reformers) when he attributed the US "original sin" to education. As Melissa noted, he totally missed the mark in terms of history and poverty. The study was about poverty but he continues to blame education.

That intentional attribution error will continue to be ed deform's undoing. He doesn't focus on undoing poverty, which is the issue of the study.

--enough already

Melissa Westbrook said...

Samantha, yes, the op-ed did contain the information you stated. BUT it also contained the other information that I stated so cushioned in with all that is the idea that public education - alone - can change outcomes. That birth-five services - alone - will change outcomes. It might for a small minority but I do not believe it will move the needle much on academic outcomes.

Josh Hayes said...

The NYT has a couple of relevant articles recently. The first is about the "sit and stare" policy in NY State, and boy, for people concerned about Hale students having been coerced, THIS is coercive as hell. Take the test or you have to sit for an hour and a half doing NOTHING: no reading, no homework, no nothing. Ridiculous bullying:

Only Alternative for Some Students Sitting Out Standardized Tests: Do Nothing

And my sister sent me a link to an "opinionator" article about dealing effectively with children who live traumatic lives (sadly, this is lots of kids, especially kids in poverty). An awful lot of this stuff seems completely obvious, but perhaps people are too wedded to the "sage on the stage" model of how teaching works to recognize the absolute necessity for building relationships of trust and respect with our students. Worth a look, but both are, of course, behind the NYT paywall.

Overcoming Poverty’s Damage to Learning.


Anonymous said...

With regret my family is making plans this weekend to move our two children from SPS in high school. We have been happy with their elementary and middle school Seattle schools. In fact, despite the dissonance from the governors of the district, their school, a K8, has advanced them into what most would consider excellent students.

We are making a change solely because looking ahead we see the high school capacity crisis hitting during our oldest's years and cresting as our middle child begins high school.

We believe this will result in horrible learning conditions including limited class offerings, potentially long school commute times or severely overcrowded classes and almost certainly untenable split schedules. And so, though we feel horrid about it, we have made steps to leave ahead of the flood of families who will wake up in about three years, look around in horror, and do the same. There won't be spots for everyone in the other high schools within and near Seattle, that's for sure. Yes, we've become a family jumping on a lifeboat ahead of the masses. It's come to that.

I leave a few thoughts:

Shame on the board and downtown administrators for not presenting any understandable five year plan for where when and how high school capacity will be addressed.

Shame on parents who have the resources and ability -----not all do--- to advocate for answers for the full community but don't make the time. This is your kid's education and that of your neighbors, friends and fellow city dwellers. Seriously, wake up and pitch a fit. Our family can and has but we have felt very alone. Pitching a fit in the middle of a certain crisis that could have been prevented only gets so much sympathy.

Related: What happened to FACMAC? Did it get tabled? It seemed to have its own problems but at least there was something. Now, zzzzzzzzz.

Shame on our local legislators at the city and state levels for not having a fire under their butts to address this. Obviously Seattle schools managers haven't come up with a plan. You want to be perceived as the Big Boys in managing city issues, but you continue to fail on a crucial part of keeping this town livable.

If I sound bitter, it's because I am. Like many families before us, we have done our best to support public education with student enrollment and parent volunteer hours and tax dollars but we feel we no longer can. We are not willing to sacrifice the significant years of high school to the lack of municipal, school and citizen planning. At this point I am not even sure we will vote for the next round of tax levies. Those dollars will be going to the new schools our children will attend.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Goodbye, good points all. I think perhaps your suggestion about the Seattle legislative delegation needs acting upon.

People often look at the floor when they tell me that they are sending their child to private school. My answer is - always has been - every parent has to do the best thing for their child. If you believe this is the best thing, I could never fault you.

FACMAC - well, I would leave it to members to tell the tale. I perceive that some senior managers felt threatened by their work, their outspokenness about the issues and then simply tabled the group.

That the district says nothing about that group - after touting it for months - speaks volumes.

Patrick said...

Several Kansas school districts closing early in the year for lack of funds:

"Six school districts in Kansas will close early this year, following budget cuts signed in March by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback."

kellie said...

Yes, FACMAC has been quietly tabled. It is in the beautiful limbo where it is has not been dissolved. However, there are no meetings scheduled, nor are there any plans to schedule any meetings.

At the beginning of this school year, when the board set priorities for the year, capacity was NOT on the list and it was not on the list because, Flip Herndon reported at the Board retreat that work was moving ahead as scheduled per BEX. That is the official word. No need to meet because there is nothing to discuss.

In related news, at today's announcement about light rail stations, Ed Murray says Seattle permitted 7,000 housing units last year, when by contrast, San Francisco only did 1,300.

Growth is outpacing all facilities plans AND there is ZERO public engagement on this topic.

Anonymous said...

Forced to be negative on the blog in multiple places today because of the usual morass of leadership and field execution from SPS.


This news story will put the biggest smile on any enlightened reader's face. Really, it's happy tear worthy. The highlight of my month and I'm a tough cookie.


Josh Hayes said...

Not sure exactly how many tests are dinged here, but a Superintendent in the Miami (FL) area has decided not to do the bulk of the planned testing this year.

Here's the link, and it has an auto-playing video component, so watch out for that.

"Miami-Dade Schools Scrap Hundreds of Year-End Exams"

Anonymous said...

Speaking of crazy capacity decisions ... Sherry Carr says she wants the Wilson Pacific neighborhood involved in naming the schools because .... APP is going to the Decatur building.

Can't anyone add? Decatur is tiny and a new massive school is being built on the campus. Guess they are going to put two 700 kid schools on the same property

Crazy capacity watcher

Anonymous said...

Capacity anecdotes:

Well, I knew in 2004 that capacity was going to be problem b/c I tried to get my first kid in preschool. HA! One school called me off the waitlist in 2008! Four years later.

So ...

At Greenwood Public Library this week, unintentionally during preschool story time. When I went w/my kids in 2006 - 8, it was 15 - 20 adults with 20 kids.

Greenwood Library has started a ticket system - they give out ONLY 65 tickets, and everyone has to have one to get into story time - b/c they were getting 100 or more people showing up and that was exceeding fire code for the room.

Seriously - 100+ showing up for a preschool story time at the library.

SPS? ARE YOU LISTENING? Are you projecting? Those kids are going to hit kindergarten in 2 - 4 years. The wave is not over, I had no idea it was like that, b/c once you're in school like we are, you're not around the baby wave. I guess I had sort of realized that several new preschools and new daycares had sprung up in the Greenwood/Phinney/Ballard area, but I hadn't really connected the dots.

Holy crap - story time too crowded for fire code? We don't have enough seats now. District needs to buy or eminent domain another piece of land in Greenwood ASAP. Maybe some old church property somewhere?

Signed: freaking out

Melissa Westbrook said...

Growth is outpacing all facilities plans AND there is ZERO public engagement on this topic.

Kelly, one thing on that. I attended the 43rd Dems "Ballots and Bubbly" event this week (Proseco and voting - very fun) and every single challenger to Jean Godden brought up what you are talking about (in one way or another). Meaning, that when I asked them what role they thought the City should play in schools, it was to track and support these kinds of growth issues.

Crazy Capacity Watcher, when did Carr say this? Because now I'm confused. Is APP going to WP, TC or both?

Anonymous said...

My idea is for SPS to build a new high school on the Memorial Stadium ground it owns at the Seattle Center. Move and expand upon the wonderful Center School from its existing space at the Armory building. Make the new high school an arts and humanities oriented high school, accessible from all over the city by public transportation.

Turn the current Center School space into an elementary school. It would be close to the Children’s museum, the Seattle Children’s Theater and the Science Center.

Hey Flip, are you listening....?

S parent

Michael Rice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynn said...

We need another comprehensive high school - not another option school. A school at memorial stadium would be needed to relieve overcrowding in north end high schools - and an option school would not be guaranteed to do that.

Josh Hayes said...

I was walking around the Oak Tree site today, and I think we COULD squeeze a high school onto that lot, but of course, it'd have zero field space. A little parking, three (or four) stories of building, and it could be done. I'd hate like hell to lose some of the stores over there, but we need the capacity (and hey, if I manage to get a full-time job next year, in years to come I could move over to "Oak Tree High" and WALK to work!).

Worth a thought, anyway. I think conditions are getting desperate, and they're going to be more so in pretty short order.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it is income inequality. Because of a divorce (among other family issues) my children are FRL and I am a PhD. (Every fiber of my being prays that our current situation is temporary. Statistics show it takes 4-5 years to financially recover from divorce...) If I had the funds and a cooperative spouse, I would leave SPS in a heartbeat and head to private. Seeing that I can't, I am here for the long haul. Families with means supplement SPS through the preschool years, through academic summer camps, through world wide travel, through private tutoring, etc. The teachers/principal at my SW elementary school take the credit for producing advanced students. Do they know that I see these families at the tutoring center each week? That the expensive summer camps are all full? That none of these "advanced" kids are the ones who rely on community center and YMCA summer programs? (Or if they do, they also have other means of educational support?) The mediocre middle approach of SPS hurts the lower socio-economic class the most. The best and the brightest are pulled back to the middle and have no outside support to help them thrive, break the cycle of poverty, go to college. It is a lie to think that a bright, capable child can endure 12 years of low expectations and somehow soar when they reach 18.
The last I read, year round school was having promising results? As were longer school days? SPS could make these options for those who want it. Summertime is a nightmare for working families. I am a single parent, committed to my children's education. Why can't they be in school during the summer? If I have to work all year long, then SPS staff can work all year long.
FRL frustration

Lynn said...

I'm really surprised to read this description of West Seattle. The families I know are more likely to have a stay at home parent (or nanny) than academic summer camps, tutoring and expensive travel. (I didn't even know there was a tutoring center in the neighborhood. Where is it?)

Would year round school be less of a financial burden to parents than the current schedule? My understanding is that a year round schedule doesn't involve more days of school - the breaks are just shorter and more frequent.

Optional summer school is an interesting idea - but the state isn't even funding the current schedule. It would have to be a fee-based program like pay-for-K. Would that be a better choice than your other options?

Lynn said...

On the topic of summer school:

Does anyone have information on the Summer Staircase program? According to the application the program runs daily from 8:30-12:30 starting June 22nd and will end on July 31st.

I'm wondering who is paying for this. I also wonder who can make that schedule work. It seems you'd have to have a parent home for the afternoons - and do parents who are home for the summer really want to send their children to school?

Anonymous said...

"when did Carr say this? Because now I'm confused. Is APP going to WP, TC or both?"

On the dias last Wednesday, Carr said that the neighborhood needs to be include in the naming of WP elementary because now it is a foregone conclusion that APP@Lincoln will not move there in entirety because it is too large already for the building, so it will be split up and 1/2 will go somewhere else.

Where the "somewhere else" is was shared by her at the SNAPP PTA general meeting a month-ish ago, and Thornton Creek was stated as one of the ideas "they" are considering.

Given that the growth boundaries plan voted on last year has no neighborhood boundary for WP elementary, and the current plan is to send all of APP@Lincoln there in entirety, to give WP any neighborhood kids requires changing boundaries... AGAIN. (WHOOT!)

The program placement they can change without board approval, but the growth boundary for WP will need approval.

But that's Easy-peasy! just re-draw the maps and quietly introduce it over a holiday and magically these little widgets you call kids will nicely fit into Flip's master capacity plan (sketched on the back of an envelope somewhere...)

Who did you say was running for Carr's seat?

Capacityplanning too

kellie said...

This is what I love the most about capacity planning.

The only real way to increase capacity is to actually do the hard work of adding capacity.

The simple fact of the matter is that enrollment growth has outpaced facilities growth. Plain and simple. There is no amount of slicing and dicing that changes this.

It one issue when you have one school that is too full near a school that is not full. In those cases, you can slice and dice boundaries or assignments and get a better fit. This would work for Hamilton next year but nobody wants to actually admit that the boundaries for Hamilton are a disaster. (HIMS has over a 1100 students again next year)

Right now, the volunteers going to Lincoln is the capacity solution for NE Seattle. Sending those students back to the NE is a joke, except that it is not very funny.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Thornton Creek...wait list numbers are out and there are 68!!! Kids on the wait list. 68! Bryant, Wedgwood and View Ridge all have decent wait lists too, but nothing like that. It's easy to see just walking around the very high number of young kids in the area. I suspect it's a combination of the skyrocketing population of 3-7 year olds plus backlash on the testing focus. But wow.

At a tour this year, the principal said they were expecting phased growth as they move into their new space in a few years. At this pace, I'd expect it to need portables on day 1 instead, even without APP potentially moving over there too.

NE Parent