Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Open Thread

Computer science and young women - a great article from the NY Times that includes mention of a great computer science and engineering department at UW. 

Behind the scenes of many of these colleges’ efforts is an organization called the National Center for Women & Information Technology. It provides consultants to college faculties on how to change their programs to recruit and retain women. On Thursday, the center is giving the University of Washington its first award, sponsored by Google, for colleges that have succeeded in this effort. The center hopes to give the award annually.

Thirty percent of University of Washington bachelor’s degrees in computer science last year went to women. Ed Lazowska, chairman in computer science and engineering at the university, called that share “not great.” Still, it is twice the national average and up from 20 percent in 2010 and 15 percent in 2005.

I had to smile at this article from WHEC in Rochester, New York over what school boards get paid what.   Apparently New York state is doing what I wish we would do here - pay their three largest school boards a salary.  The salaries range from $20-30K (which I believe is paid by the cities). One Bufallo board member said this:

"I think if someone is going to be a public servant, if they're going to do a good service to the community, they shouldn't be looking for compensation. I think that's a joke."

Wait, what?  Then why do we pay city council, legislators, etc.?  If we want to cast a wider net for people able to run for school board, we should pay them a salary.  (You'll note, I didn't say a better group of people because who knows? but a larger group of people might consider it.)

Interesting data from the local Public Health Insider about where kids live in King County and health outcomes.

Very fun video that the kids will enjoy (shhh, it's science) - a guy skips rocks across a frozen lake and the sound is amazing.

What's on your mind?


W.Seattle said...

Leslie Harris is running against Martha McLaren for School Board in West Seattle. The 34th District Democrats gave a resounding thumbs-up to Harris and endorsed her candidacy. An amazing victory for Leslie Harris. Leslie Harris 123 Votes - the incumbent got 12. Harris is known and respected within her community and has racked-up an impressive list of endorsements.

Eric B said...

W. Seattle, what is Leslie Harris' platform? What distinguishes her from McLaren? This isn't intended as an attack, I just don't know Harris.

Another GW parent said...

Funny. I was just thinking about the Harris endorsement this morning. I would love to know more too. I know her from Marty's community meetings but I am also wondering about her platform.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I plan on doing a complete candidate update this weekend.

Anonymous said...

The young woman graduate student profiled in the NYT article about UW CS, is a Roosevelt grad.


mirmac1 said...

Jill Geary and Rick Burke receives SOLE endorsements from the MLK Labor Council. I would expect the SEA to take their lead and endorse the candidates that oppose linking their members' evaluations to standardized testing.

TheGoodFight said...

I've been in the technical field for 30 years and there's been a noticeable shift towards more women working in IT. My current group has 50/50 split with women holding significant roles (my boss). There's still some resistance to women holding executive positions in the field, but even that seems to be changing for the better.

It's also important to recognize the changes in technology that make working in IT more fun and attractive than it was in the past. COBOL and Assembly languages were tedious and slow to use when developing applications. It took a real nerd to stick with it.

Anonymous said...

$500M for BTA IV in Feb 2016


or more????

BTA III was $270M in 2010

BTA II was $178M in 2004

BTA I was $150M 1998

Our district is WAY over budget on the BEX IV projects in the pipeline, on ones that they haven't even broken ground on yet!!!. How's that for planning? What's worse? They acknowledge (quietly) that even with all of the BEX IV projects complete, our District is still left critically short of capacity. That's without accounting for either preschool or smaller class sizes.

They build too expensively. Other neighboring districts in WA build beautiful, highly functional, highly flexible schools for way less. There is a new high school to the north of us that cost $100M. Think about how SPS tells you they need $140M to build one. The numbers are not adding up.

No auditorium for Wilson Pacific? Yet, they are added $6 million to pay for 'extra management' on that one project alone?

Remember, if a levy fails, SPS will bring it back to the voters in 6 months. One could vote no at first and then yes 6 months later.

If you think they need to feel the tug of the leash in order to get back in control of the true priorities and project scope, if you think they could benefit from a leash tug in order to stop them from being so opaque with you all, think about what tool you have to get their attention about budget, transparency, efficiency, and common sense. The ONLY tool you have is your vote. The 2 minutes worth of testimony is an in one ear, out the other deal. The petitions are ignored. The students refusing to write exams, ignored, so long as the majority comply. Capital levies? THAT they will pay attention to. Don't kid yourself. The levies are a referendum on how good of a job the District is doing. That's the only message they HAVE to listen to. If you don't check them there, they will keep doing more of what they are doing. How's that working?

Bottom Line

Anonymous said...

I would like to know where Harris stands on the math curriculum. Does she support the new math textbooks that Marty McLaren introduced into elementary schools? Does she plan to extend this type of math into middle and high schools?

I applaud McLaren for making a U turn on conceptual math — which sounds great in theory but leaves students unprepared for higher math.

Where do we go from here?

S parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bottom Line, I'm also writing a story about capital issues. You are right, though.

Lynn said...

S parent,

I'd like to know why we are replacing the middle school social studies curriculum rather than math. The current program doesn't prepare students for success in high school and math isn't a subject where you can make up for lost learning later.

mirmac1 said...

I believe adopting new math curricula for MS and HS is one of Leslie's priorities. You'll have to ask the present board re: the social studies although I'll note that is one of the oldest curricula we have - 1997. A lot has changed since then.

Lynn said...

Is every high school having late starts this week and next? Garfield had an 11:00 start three times this week (for 10th grade ELA exams) and will do the same thing next week for EOC testing. That's 18 hours (or three full days) of lost instructional time.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, folks - here's my "platform":

We can do so much better for our kids and families and communities.

I am running for the SPS Board because I don’t believe the status quo is good enough.

We need to:

* Put more dollars in the classrooms.
* Address the cycles of high stakes testing.
* Address the current and looming capacity crisis.
* Address the decades of maintenance backlogs.
* Demand more transparency and more follow-up to unanswered questions.
* Replicate what is working and move away from failures.
* Clean up outstanding Audits & Oversight Orders for Special Education (SpED), English Language Learners (ELL) and other outstanding audit findings.
* Demand equity in program placement throughout the city.
* Quit using Special Ed, ELL and Highly Capable students as capacity planning tools.
* Demand that the District’s Legal Department mediate claims on a timely basis, thus, preventing costly litigation.
* Return counselors to the elementary schools and college/career counselors to high schools.
* Increase attention to trades education and pathways.
* Have robust Native American curricula.
* Address the lack of successful Middle & High School Math Curricula.
* Support Alternative and Creative Approach Schools.
* Treat our teachers and staff with respect.
* Change the bell-times to allow teenagers more sleep – The single most important way to close the achievement gap.
* Demand accountability and leadership.

Leslie has attended board and committee meetings at the central office for over 10 years.
She has attended Directors’ community meetings in all parts of the city. She has worked on other Directors' campaigns.
She understands the commitment for what is essentially a volunteer position. She has served on PTSAs at Pathfinder K-8 and at Chief Sealth.
Leslie’s services on numerous boards - local, state and national, make her a great fit and she understands policymaking and fiduciary duty.
Her 30 years as a litigation paralegal researching facts, law and reverse engineering systems on behalf of victims and changing worker safety laws will allow her to get to the heart of the issues.

Endorsed by: County Councilmembers: Joe McDermott, Rod Dembowski, Larry Gossett, State Rep Eileen Cody, King Co. Executive Dow Constantine, State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon,
Paris Kallas, King Co. Superior Ct. Judge, Ret’d, Frmr Senator Adam Kline, City Councilmember Nick Licata, Frmr C’member Tina Podlodowski, Ret’d Supreme Court Justice Faith Ireland, Ret’d Supreme Court Justice and Former Senator Phil Talmadge, Frmr School Directors: Irene Stewart & Sally Soriano

34th Leg. Demos (sole), 32nd Leg. Demos (sole), 46th Leg. Demos (dual), Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council (dual)

Anonymous said...

The above was me - Leslie Harris ;) Sorry Melissa - ouch.

Melissa Westbrook said...

11AM late start? That is late.

Anonymous said...


Any candidate can and will make the same statements and get hearty applause, what are you going to do? What will you change, assuming there is no more money coming? What is the current board doing wrong?

You got to give me more than statements that everyone likes. Specifics on how you are going to make it happen.


voter 74

Anonymous said...

Ingraham did not have late starts for ELA. Classes continued, students will have make up work if they tested.

-IHS parent

Anonymous said...

@ 5/22:
"I would like to know where Harris stands on the math curriculum. Does she support the new math textbooks that Marty McLaren introduced into elementary schools? ...... S parent

Not only do I applaud the Peters, Patu, Peaslee & McLaren votes - I called the publisher in Portland over the weekend to alert them/him to get back to Seattle to address the large scale insubordination of the mass waiver effort, and sat through a Board Retreat on I believe June 7, 2014m and asked Asst. Supt Tolley in front of Director McLaren that the “mass waiver” was in effect a dual adoption which had been deemed illegal by then General Counsel Ron English (and had been floated as a compromise prior to the Board Vote), and he stated ‘yes, in effect, it would be a dual adoption’ – (Melissa I believe I uploaded that to the blog that evening, but cannot find it.)

Leslie - (next)

Anonymous said...

Leslie Cont'd:

Know that that advocacy has caused me a great deal of pushback from teachers and principals that are friends to this day as they firmly believe they were misled and miscommunicated with by the Board and staff about the whole process – all the more reason communication is critical.


Call your principals, and ask specifically 1). What pushback they are getting, if any; what is there process for requesting a waiver, if any; 2). call your parent reps on the BLT and determine if any emergency meetings have been called; 3) same with your PTSA Board; 4) same with your teachers, especially math specialists, coaches and "Walk To Math" teachers; and 5). Most important: do report back here. Name names, schools and regions - me suspects we'll find patterns here.

The sky is falling, we must get the decision in by June 10th deadline is yet another opportunity for lack of transparency and pushback on the Board's decision. Devil's in the details. Would hope that childish immature reactions are not part of the play book, but without info. how will we know?

Where are those mobility numbers anyway, Supt. Banda, only thing I heard on Weds were was your deputy pressed into service THAT VERY DAY.... Huh?
With a brand new laundry list of cuts for hires that haven't been disclosed - typical JSC pit folks/programs against each other to fight over crumbs. Odd, desperate, and unprofessional.

Saw some bad Powerpoints on money without backup and LATE TO THE GAME that gave weight to the testimony " Apples to Zebra comparisons"

Not a shining moment for Supt. Banda and staff work.

To assume good intention, is I think, at this point, too hopeful.

6/6/14, 4:37 PM

Anonymous said...
Those schools that sought and either received or were turned down for waivers: please advise -- Who were the requests directed to? What was the process like? Was it to the Executive Directors?
Can someone point me to the policy and procedure for same? Cannot locate it.
Thanks in advance.
6/6/14, 4:46 PM
Anonymous said...
There / their process - need to stop using the IPad damned autocorrect.
6/6/14, 5:00 PM
Greenwoody said...
This is in part a political choice, and necessarily so. Board members such as Peters, Peaslee, McLaren and Patu were elected specifically to stop Gates Foundation-backed reformers from gutting our public schools. However, if they turn against parents on this, those board members will be handing the opponents of public education a big win in their ongoing efforts to discredit the Board.

What I see here is Peters and others making a compelling case for Math in Focus. Funding can always be solved. Voters would approve more money if they knew it went to a math curriculum they supported.

Anything other than Math in Focus will be a failure on the part of the Board. And next time they need to give better direction to the MAC.
6/4/14, 7:49 PM
* * *
From a different thread:
Anonymous said...
Why was Deputy Supt. Wright just charged with this assignment this afternoon? Totally befuddled by this.

6/4/14, 9:27 PM
Charlie Mas said...
Deputy Superintendent Wright was charged with this duty so late, the afternoon of the Board meeting, because it was not until then that the staff realized that there was a board majority aligned behind the Math in Focus adoption. Since the superintendent himself cannot be seen opposing a board majority, someone else had to carry the flag for the staff.
6/5/14, 6:36 AM

Unknown said...

Bottom Line--

A big piece of the picture that you might not be aware of is how overcrowded our buildings are, and how even though we are investing millions of tax dollars to fund building upgrades and some additional capacity, it isn't enough to meet the need.

We have grown by 7000 students in the past 7 years. That is more students than most districts in the state have. We have grown by a full district in 7 years.

We are growing much faster than they expected even a few years ago, and BEX IV isn't enough.

We have 28 kid kindergarten classrooms with the state requires 17 by 2017. In order to meet the class size reduction of K-3 that is already in law, we will need approximately 20 more buildings.

We are growing at an insane clip, and we need to reduce class sizes.

That means we need more capital funding. The legislature isn't ponying up the cash. Levies are our only option at the moment (until the political will is built to implement developer impact fees), and sadly even a $500 million levy will not meet the needs of existing capacity crunch much less the class size reduction needs.

Sure, we could vote down the levy, but that would only worsen the problem. What we need is even more investment than what is on the table now, if we actually want to have a school system that is even half decent, we need more buildings

Buildings require cash and planning.


Anonymous said...

I went through the building boom in 2000 and we got a poor building for the money approved by the voters because costs had risen so much. That's why Seattle pays more for buildings. You call for bids and you take what you get. In our case, we got one bid and we took it.

We have a leaky roof and windows. Cracks in the concrete floors everywhere.

You get what you pay for and what you pay in Seattle reflects the free market at work.

Respond Bottom Line?

Linh-Co said...

There's a similar fight in Massachusetts for a discussion of pros/cons of Common Core. It looks like the same tactics were used from some of our board members to silence the public.

Parents petition Regional Committee for Common Core pro/con forum; discussion stifled
by BETH on MAY 21, 2015

Parents expressed concern last night about the Regional School Committee’s knowledge of Common Core issues. What ended up front and center again was frustration over school committee communication practices. And again, the school committee pointed to Open Meeting Law as responsible for stifling discussion.

During Audience Sharing at the meeting, a Northborough mother presented a petition with 366 signatures from Northborough and Southborough (purportedly captured within “a few short days by a handful of people”).

petition for common core forum (from Facebook)

The petition calls for a pro/con forum to be held on the Common Core by the last day of school and for available committee members to attend. (Click on petition to the right for the full text.)

Lynn Minasian-Somers explained that the petition’s purpose was to educate committee members who are responsible for implementing school policies:

I am asking you to be educated about this issue. That’s all I’m asking you to do, please! The pros and the cons. It is not a simple issue, It’s not a bipartisan issue, it is the future of education in our town, in our state, and in our country.

Chair Kathleen Harrigan refused to discuss the petition or topic last night. The chair claimed that since the item wasn’t on the agenda, Open Meeting Laws prevented a discussion.

John O’Mara asked if it was possible to add the item to next month’s agenda, Harrigan responded that they would take the suggestion. But she clarified that it’s up to her and Superintendent Christine Johnson to decide whether or when to add it to an agenda.

In answer as to when they would know if something was on the agenda, Harrigan answered, “When the agenda comes out.” She followed that the agenda is posted at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

Anonymous said...

Spoke with a junior-year nephew tonight who took the SBAC math tests in Central WA. A year ahead in math with around a 3.7 GPA (although failing a class now, 1st time ever, with a teacher he despises... may be an overreaction but to my point overall a good student).

He couldn't believe the SBAC - he said it was a lot harder than the SAT. Thought a few questions were good/appropriate and clear "math questions", but several he couldn't figure out exactly what they were even asking. He's OK with tough tests "if fair", but was quite annoyed some of the math questions were so wordy he wasn't always quite sure what they wanted.

Uncle SBAC

Melissa Westbrook said...

Uncle SBAC, this is something that also happened with the WASL - math being almost more about reading/writing than math. This disadvantages many students.

Growing Enrollment said...

I had an opportunity to watch the school board meeting. The district introduced the prek MOU between the City of Seattle and SPS.

The city wants 100 classrooms within the next 4 years. Where?

Anonymous said...

Melissa -- my recollection of the WASL is that although it mostly tested reading and writing ability (even in math -- lots of "explain your answer" stuff), the biggest problem I had with it was not that it was pitched too high, but that many questions were just so ambiguously worded that you couldn't figure out what they were asking (and that was me reading as an adult -- and I am pretty good at tests).

With the SBAC, it seems that you have the same issue as the WASL -- PLUS the tests are pitched too high (at least in the younger grades). Makes it doubly difficult. I can't lament the demise of the WASL. It was a horribly conceived test. But it sounds like the SBAC has found a way to be even worse.


Linh-Co said...

One of the architects of the WASL was Dr. Joe Wilhoft. He was also the former Executive Director of SBAC. He retired earlier this year.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of West Seattle,
Seattle Public Schools says it’s closing Middle College High School’s West Seattle program.
See the West Seattle Blog
(Sorry, I can't remember how to do links).

Although SPS has not made a news release about the closure, teachers were notified by email on Thursday, May 21. They received a letter dated Monday, May 18th that was to have been sent out to parents/guardians informing them that West Seattle would be deprived of its alternative program.
This is all on the West Seattle Blog.

Even if the reasons for closing were legitimate, waiting until the end of May (the way the District did the last time it tried --and failed--to close the program in May 2012 while still on the South Seattle Community College campus) seems otherwise. This is disrespectful and does a disservice to the students and their families.
Weren't people in West Seattle worthy of opportunities to engage in dialogue about this closure before it became a done deal?

--OldSchool Music

Anonymous said...

On the SPS site I counted 60 elementary schools, and 10 K-8's in the district.

I'm presuming new Pre-K classrooms would be placed at an elementary or a K-8, which would be roughly 1.4 pre-K classrooms per school.

When a school is already full will SPS be tasked with purchasing and placing portables to fulfill the MOU? Many schools will have their playgrounds obliterated by the addition of any more portables.

The cost to the current students of SPS seems unreasonably high.


Middle College said...

Larry Nyland sent a letter that West Seattle's Middle College will be closing due to decreasing enrollment.

There is more to the story"

Alonzo Ybarra: "Throughout the 2014-2015 school year we’ve seen an approximate 30% decline in enrollment although it should be noted that we’ve been prohibited from enrolling new students by order of Michael Tolley since April 7th. We’d normally add 10-15 new students during second semester in preparation for the following school year."

What type of games are being played, now?

seattle citizen said...

I was in the Alternative School Coalition, then joined the District's Alt School Committee. We produced policy C54.00, which has languished for years. The district has been killing off or messing with alt programs like Nova, AS1, Marshall, Indian Heritage, and Middle College for years. For all the talk about innovation, choice, and meeting student needs, they've been very busy reducing options, standardizing, and ignoring these unique and varied schools and programs.

WSeattle Charter said...

A charter school will open in West Seattle.

HOW TO HAVE A SAY: The land-use-permit application is in the system as #3019454, if you’re interested in commenting. No public meeting is required, as this is not going through Design Review. Meantime, the process for approval of the charter school itself is outlined here; the Charter School Commission must set a date for a public forum on Summit’s application to open the school, but as far as we can tell from the commission’s calendar, it has yet to be announced. We don’t yet have the official application document for the proposed school, but hope to procure it later this week, and will publish another followup when we do.

W. Seattle Blog:

Eric B said...

Growing Enrollment asked:

"The city wants 100 [preschool] classrooms within the next 4 years. Where?"

The City is looking for 100 classrooms city-wide, many of which would not be at SPS facilities. From the language of the resolution, it looks like SPS would be trying to get their current preschool classrooms on to the city bandwagon. The resolution does not appear to commit SPS to providing any particular number of classrooms.

But it's a good thing to remind the Board that there is no space.