Friday, May 08, 2015

Friday Open Thread

Communications has confirmed to me that there is the possibility that some seniors (not a lot) may have to go to school on a Saturday in May in order to be sure they have the 180 instructional hours to graduate.  They are still looking at things, trying to figure it out and as soon as they decide, I will update you. 

KUOW reports on bell times.

John Hay Elementary had a shelter-in-place yesterday afternoon because of a vague threat that was phoned in.  Parents who pick up their students had to line up to get their child as the school was not allowing parents to park in front. 

From the principal of Hay(partial):
This school year, several schools around the state have received a female-sounding automated voice.  The voice indicates they intended to shoot up the school.   Each time law enforcement has investigated and determined that the call has been a hoax.  Unfortunately, schools and other institutions sometimes get these types of phone calls and as a school community we respond and err on the side of caution.  

Apparently most kids were not phased (although a few parents thought it might have something to do with Intergency which is located nearby - it did not). 

Talk about banning books to the nth degree, a great story about a student who handed out a "banned" book.

A great story about a teacher who learns - years later - how much she influenced a student (for the good for someone else.

Friday funny from teachers with a sense of humor - a last shout-out to the great work that teachers do.This math teacher:


Anonymous said...

This week was designated a "Screen Free" week at my kid's school, complete with a pledge card, etc...even though the entire 5th grade was taking the SBAC (well, except for those who opted out)...

Very odd.

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

North-end Mom, not just odd but funny.

Anonymous said...

I know a parent with a young child at home. They have not only decided to keep the screens away from their kid, they have also decided they don't want any noisy or flashy toys. They only want handmade toys that encourage creativity.

Did I mention that this parent works for the Gates Foundation?


NW mom said...

Just got an email from the Ballard HS principal that the seniors' last day will now be Tuesday June 9. So the Saturday thing may be off the table? Who knows.

Anonymous said...

Under the heading "Best guess spelling and don't you know that grammar is boring":

No one knows a damn thing about World War I


Melissa Westbrook said...

kws, there's a lot of stories out there about parents in Silicon Valley who work in high tech and yet send their kids to Waldorf schools where there is very little tech.

Anonymous said...

Lots of Microsoft parents at all the Waldorf schools in the area. Plus Amazon, Google, Boeing, Honeywell, etc. The schools anticipate increases in enrollment the worse the standardized testing gets.


No Regrets said...

I never gave my toddlers hand held electronic games. They didn't use computers until they were introduced to them at school. As I recall, there was some screen time in first grade.

No regrets.

Watching said...

Obama administration asks Congress to increase funding to charter schools by 50%.

Anonymous said...

Garfield HS PTSA
May 6, 2015
Two of our Garfield Graduates from the class of 2014 - Sydney Schumacher & Bailey Meola were hiking in Nepal when the Earthquake hit.

Our hearts and best wishes go out to the families, please share your positive thoughts and prayers.

From Garfield

lemon said...

Wayne Au on "Just whose rights do these civil rights groups think they are protecting?"

Anonymous said...

I like Wayne Au and I like Jesse Hagopian, and I see no benefit for most students, including students with disabilities in taking the SBAC.

Having said that, I have two criticisms of Wayne's analysis: it is oversimplistic and it is ableist. Wayne attempts to lump together the civil rights groups who signed a statement criticizing the opt out groups. Wayne's analysis is simple: he analyzes their funding to see if they get any money from the Gates Foundation. And lo and behold, half of them did. As Melissa has said, it is hard to swing a dead cat around without hitting a Gates-funded group. And just who is it that gets funded by Gates? Not the disability groups. None of them. Why is that? Because Ed reform doesn't give a rat's ass about students with disabilities. And as far as I can tell, neither does the opt out group. The only time either group talks about students with disabilities is when it is convenient. The only time Diane Ravitch talks about them is when she wants to talk about severely cognitively disabled kids in Florida who are forced to take tests that are meaningless. Because Florida. Not because standardized tests.

Well guess what, we are living in a city and a state that us under Federal Investigation for the crap that is spooned out as education to students with disabilities. I'm no shmo. They only way we can prove the system isn't educating our kids is the fact that he didn't perform better on tests. Neither the ed-reformers or the opt-outers have my kid's best interest at heart. The disability rights groups do. And until one of or other groups starts behaving like it's about more than serving their own interests, I'm not going to be their bed-fellow.

Not Gates

Anonymous said...

Not Gates. You really are a shmo if you think the only way you can "prove" adequate education for your student with a disability is to apply more standardized testing and review the results. That testing proves absolutely nothing about students with disabilities that we didn't know already, and it doesn't improve their education, nor their lot in life. Kids with disabilities are already tested more than 100 times in SPS by the time they graduate, and told over and over and over that they are failures. We already know that en-mass, they don't perform as well as others. (That's how they qualified for special ed in the first place, so it shouldn't be a big surprise.) If testing was going to get something for your kid with a disability as an individual, or as a group - it would have already worked. Furthermore, under IDEA students with disabilities are ALREADY mandated to have complete re-evals every 3 years, individualized to their needs. Those tests already show parents and providers exactly where those students stand vs those without disabilities. Standardized tests by ed Reformers add no additional information. Bottom line. Standardized testing provides 0 accountability for students with disabilities. Zero. Zip. Nada. There needs to be some OTHER way to measure success for students with disabilities. The only ones that really matter are lifetime goals - independence, employment, life satisfaction. And those are not easy to measure. Sorry, but SBAC doesn't do it - it just wastes time, incredible amounts of time, and focuses everyone on nothing that matters.

Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

BTW. It's not true that Gates NEVER funds disability groups. Bill Gates matched Richard Fade's multimillion dollar grant that started the Autism Center at the UW. I'm not saying that this makes him an expert. No, he isn't. He is misguided by the lure of standards based education like many others, which includes lots of high stakes testing. Just keeping the accuracy up around here. Disability is simply outside his frame of reference or experience.

Sped Parent

n said...

Hey, Gates himself is dyslexic according so someone who went to Lakeside with him.

I've never thought Bill Gates was trying to discriminate. I think he's just ignorant about education and educators. I've got my own opinions but not the money to force them on people. I'm not anti-Gates really. But I'm not in his camp either. And he did say he doesn't want to pay taxes because he thinks he can spend his own money better. That to me is the ignorance of the very rich.

Anonymous said...

Right n, and Gates also has Autism. Read about it anywhere. He's famous for vigorous rocking, which proves it. Gates isn't a bad person, he's simply out of touch with public education, as he's never experienced it, except for a brief stint in his neighborhood elementary. He's been duped by monied interests, like many others. And who doesn't think they can spend their own money better? When we give to charity, do we pick an organization or do we send the government a check?

Sped Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

"He's been duped by monied interests, like many others."

Sped, Gates IS the monied interest.

FYI, the profile of Melinda Gates in the Times could not be more fawning.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, you are dead wrong in that assessment. Gates is the money, and this is one of his philanthropic endeavors. For the ohers, Gates is the profit. And he is misguided.

Sped Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I didn't say Gates wanted to make money (although much of what he does certainly doesn't hurt Microsfot). Monied interest doesn't mean making money; it means already having it.

n said...

Since I read your post, I keep thinking about the autism label. I've know several people with both autism and asperger's and Gates may be on that spectrum but I can't see it myself. If you compare him with Temple Grandin, there's really no comparison.

You may know more about those disorders but I have several connections with Gates . . . sort of. As I mentioned, one of my parents went to school with hiim and commented on his dyslexia and how he need specialized help and that it wasn't caught until quite late. No proof other than that otherwise reasonable parent.

Also, the sister of one of my close friends dated Bill pretty seriously for a few months. Early, early Microsoft days. Both sisters played softball with me. Anyway, they lived together off and on and he'd leave his car with her and various keys and stuff. She was young and funny and very pretty. He was well known then and she would tell us some funny stories. But none of them suggested serious autism or asperger's. According to her, he was just really nerdy. Always thinking about business and flying off here and there. But otherwise normal. No rocking stories or inability to communicate well.

I've never seen him rock and he sure can hold his own when speaking on a platform or panel. So I'm pretty careful about assigning labels unless I know for sure from someone pretty credible. I've read a lot of stuff about famous people I take with a grain of salt.

Also, I remember when Gates designated Tom somebody to coordinate school grants. I don't know why they didn't just ask schools what they wanted and give it to them. I remember if you wanted computers, you had to show that you could afford to maintain them after the grant money. That was so limiting. Who could do that? Why not just form some sort of computer trust, donate lots of money to it, and let it keep all Seattle or WA State schools in computers for their lifetime? Really. Doesn't he know just how much billions of dollars is? Unbelievable. Esp. when you realize that computers seem to need to be replaced every few years anyway. What was the big deal about maintenance? Pay for a computer guy at every school. That would hardly break his bank and it would sure help out schools.

Well, if things keep up like they are, maybe after he's fixed Africa he can come back work on the US. By then, we'll probably have the economy of Africa anyway.

The Atlanta Fed’s indicator shows that the US economy is growing at a pace of just 0.8pc and has yet to recover after grinding to a halt in the first quarter.

Pay packets have fallen across the gamut of US industry, manufacturing, and trade over the last two months, greatly reducing the likelihood of any rise in interest rates by the US Federal Reserve until later this year.

Both overtime and the number of hours worked edged down. The jobs figure for March was revised down sharply to 85,000. The labour participation rate for men is still stuck at 69.4pc, six percentage points lower than it was fifteen years ago and the lowest level since modern data began after the Second World War.

... Had it not been for a surge in pay for financial services the spill-over from an increasingly frothy asset boom overall weekly earnings would have dropped for a second month in a row.

Isn't it nice somebody is benefiting from higher paychecks?

mirmac1 said...

You and I are surrounded by people with ASD. It doesn't have to be "serious " . I'm probably on the spectrum myself.

Besides, it's not anathema and the more people realize that many autistics are just fine, the better off we all are.

n said...

I was simply pointing out that labels don't prove much esp. when based on heresay and media talk. As for Bill rocking, I stand by my comment that I'll wait for some better evidence.

What did I say that led you to believe that I think autistics are not fine?

Anonymous said...


Pretty odd that you're comfortable calling Gates "dsylexic" but then chide others for calling him "autistic."

Having readers diagnose anyone makes me cringe, especially when it's done in public and on a blog.

In my book, it's at least as unethical as "name calling" and more than a bit disturbing coming from a fellow teacher.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...


I'm sensitive about this. It brings to mind a Lafayette principal who took down my Autism Awareness bulletin board because I put up pictures of Einstein, Goodall, Gould, and Gates as "success stories". I guess that's just too controversial. She actually thought SPS could get sued for libel by Gates..... I know, right?

n said...

@enough already:

one of my parents went to school with hiim and commented on his dyslexia and how he need specialized help and that it wasn't caught until quite late. No proof other than that otherwise reasonable parent.

Having - what's that? Are you referring to the one of my parents who went to school with him?

Thanks for the explanation. I use those names (the ones I know) as motivators for my kids, too. I didn't know Goodall. She surprises me. I met her once when she came to Seattle and made a presentation at Van Asselt (I think) for her foundation. It was in the nineties. Honestly, she brought tears to my eyes.

Too many principals like that these days.

mirmac1 said...

Yes. Its attitudes like hers that make kids and families feel ashamed for being who they are. Let's all learn to talk openly about what makes us different yet the same: hair color, height , accent, talents, our tastes in music or hobbies, our weaknesses and strengths. We deserve to be happy in a free and just society.

Anonymous said...

A few things. Dyslexia and Autism are DISabilities. Being quirky, having a tutor, rocking - sorry but those aren't diagnostic, for anything. For Autism, the symptoms have to be evident by age 3 (actually a requirement in the diagnosis). So, some similar features at age 30 - retrospectively, after you're a successful adult - that really doesn't cut it. Sure, it's great to associate some successful people with Autism, precisely because they are successful and we all hope for success - but that's not the real thing, and it really doesn't help anyone. Disability, accepting differences, and valuing diversity is much more difficult than that. And putting these false labels on people diminishes that challenge. I completely agree with a principal who wouldn't want these things on the school wall, especially without permission of the people depicted. Would you want your child to become the poster-child for cancer.... if he/she didn't have cancer? I don't think so.