Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

Let's see.

One story is that the District is consistent in collecting fines from the State over workplace safety violations for Local 609 members.  It's a sad thing because 1) it's money walking out the door (just this money $32K) and 2) because apparently the District does not care enough about the safety of its employees.  (I'll note this is not the first time for the District - they have paid out $28K in fines since 2011). 

It's things like not properly training employees to use equipment that can burn their hands or amputate fingers.  No emergency eye wash station.  No training on hazardous chemicals.  Out of eight violations, seven were labelled by the Department of Labor and Industries as "serious."

The West Seattle Blog reports that the largest elementary in West Seattle, Schmitz Park, is receiving three more portables (for what I was told is called "Schmitzville" by parents) this month.  They are expecting 642 kids at SP in September.  There are also portables going into Pathfinder and West Seattle Elementary.

Oh, and have you read the HALA committee report on housing in our city?  I'll be writing a separate thread but on the same page (20) where they they want to work with other entities in the state/region like Seattle School District, just a couple of paragraphs later, they say this:
When land is not suitable for housing development, the unrestricted proceeds from sale should be dedicated to affordable housing development. The City should also create a mandate for the co- development of affordable housing in conjunction with new public buildings and investments such as community centers, libraries, charter schools, etc.

I looked thru the entire report.  Nothing about helping OR investing in our existing system, just "investments" like charter schools.  
Speaking of charter schools, West Seattle Blog also has this report on Summit Schools and their "awareness-raising" about their coming schools (one in West Seattle next year and two this fall, one in Tacoma and one in the International district).  According to our charter law, Summit must have one public forum on the West Seattle site and it's scheduled for Tuesday, July 21st at
9601 35th SW from 6-8 pm.

 (The first two Summit schools will be high schools but the West Seattle site will be 6-12.)  They claim each site will have its own Sped director but I find that hard to believe.)
If you recall my thread on Arne Duncan and the damage he has done to our public education system and that he is apparently going to stay until the bitter end, I also wrote that his wife and kids have already left D. C. And his kids will be going to a private school.  With no Common Core and no SBAC/PARCC testing.  From the Washington Post's The Answer Sheet:
Duncan talks a lot about giving parents school choices for their children, and, again, nobody should begrudge his own choices. But they do speak to a pattern among public policy-makers and influential philanthropists who push specific school reforms — such as charter schools, the elimination of teacher tenure, Common Core, and evaluation of teachers by test scores — yet send their own children to private schools that do none of these things.  
What's on your mind?


Lynn said...

I wonder why Pathfinder is getting a portable. Their enrollment hasn't changed from last year.

Lynn said...

Also, why is Schmitz Park getting three new portabkes when their enrollment is only expected to increase by 32 kids?

Anonymous said...

I emailed the mayor about the report and asked why they are supporting charter schools instead of SPS when Seattle didn't want charter schools.


Anonymous said...

I heard a story about a parent in the B.F. Day school area who submitted an application during enrollment to go to West Woodland. They got in to West Woodland without having to wait on a waitlist. My question about this: West Woodland, like a lot of schools, added portables to accommodate demand from kids in their neighborhood zone. Now, it appears these portables have given them capacity in excess of what they need to accommodate the neighborhood, so they're filling them with kids from other neighborhoods. B.F. Day is under enrolled, and yet a nearby school that is over-enrolled (hence the portables) makes room for someone who normally would have been assigned to B.F. Day. I'm all for parent choice, but I don't think it's right to siphon off kids from one neighborhood school to put them in an over-subscribed one next door. The school that "loses" these kids lose funding, parents that volunteer and other things. Not right.

- Equity

mirmac1 said...

I agree Equity. That's messed up!

Anonymous said...

Looks to me like another end run around SPS and it's board. I suspect just one of many to follow. Forget about PIRs from SPS, we need to bury the city in PIRs starting with Murray and every council member. Let see if they are as lose in emails as SPS staff is.

Viva Revolution

mirmac1 said...

The City has little to no transparency.

Joe Wolf said...

Response to Lynn -

- Pathfinder K-8 is getting additional space to better support the SpEd function (SpEd is not going in the portable, just to be clear.)

- Schmitz Park is projected to have three more GenEd homerooms in 2015-16 than they had in 2014-15. Because kids do not come in neat packets of 26 (K-3) or 28 (4-5), one can't always assume that x kids = y homerooms.

Dave said...

Actually, it was over $ 28,000 in citations and fines in 2011, $5,250 in same last month and now $32,000. Over $ 65,000 in the same location.

ALL as a result of the District simply turning a blind eye to worker issues (of which worker safety is just one) in general.

Taxpayers actually pay for people to address such issues but they simply ignore them until outside agencies (like Labor & Industries or the Public Employment Relations Commission) get involved.

Its simply shameful and should have changed years ago.

Anonymous said...

It's a Peter to pay Paul scenario, just like with OSPI. OSPI dishes out funds to SPS to perform services and SPS fails to. OSPI then finds SPS in violation and funds intervention only to have SPS refuse to implement the intervention services. It goes around and around year after year. It's more serious than just the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

It's going to take a very skilled surgeon to remove the cancer at SPS without killing the patient.


Knock Knock said...

W. Seattle's charter school plans to recruit students by phone banking and foing door to door. I don't know about you, but I'd certainly be skeptical if people were calling and knocking on my door:

"Assuming the charter for West Seattle is approved, she says, Ponikvar will start August 17th, meeting with people, “going door-to-door literally, phone banking, being at festivals, community organizing, listening to the needs of the families, to (ensure) that every single family in White Center and West Seattle knows that Summit’s an option for them if they’re an incoming sixth or ninth grader [for fall 2016].” (The organization already is doing outreach – shortly after our interview with Wickens, a reader texted us about flyers for the forum being distributed near 35th/Henderson.)"


TechyMom said...

I've followed school choice ideas since the 1990s. Many of the proponents, both of charter schools and of open choice systems like we used to have in Seattle, have experience with private school as students, family or faculty. They are trying to make the benefits they see in the independent school system available to more people. (Yes, there are others who are just trying to profit). Two of the things you listed don't seem at all inconsistent with having your kids in private school.

There is a fair bit of overlap in families who are interested in charter schools and families who send their kids to private school. You are actively picking a school, rather than passively taking the one that comes with your address. KIPP is similar to some Catholic schools. Oakland School of the Arts is similar to Northwest. None of these are much like general ed. If these programs are in the same area, they compete.

Teacher tenure doesn't exist, at least in this state. Tenure is a university thing. Private school teachers aren't usually unionized, which is (I think) what people mean by tenure. So, if you prefer an environment where parents can influence hiring and firing decisions, you will look at private and charter schools as aligning with that preference, and be frustrated by the way it works in public school. Parents who choose our alternative schools in Seattle often seem to assume they will have more influence than they end up having.

mirmac1 said...

The Summit location looks like a dump. They paid an architect to draw up pretty plans but no one in their right mind will want to go to school in a big empty ex-Safeway.

Rose Sanders said...

Just a reminder that the Minority Education Incentive Program holds it's first annual workshop this Saturday from 9 - 3 at 9656 Waters Ave. S. in Seattle for grades K-8. Lunch, snacks and prizes will be provided. All are welcome! For more information, contact me at mei.program@outlook.com. You can also find the program on Facebook.

Thank you!

Lynn said...

Thanks Joe

Anonymous said...

What's on my mind - I love it when Joe Wolf comments on here. Someone who's clearly competent, knows what's going on and gives simple answers to simple questions. So refreshing.

-New Mom

Joe Wolf said...

New Mom - thank you for the awesome compliment. :)

Anonymous said...

People will be plenty happy to go to school in the big empty Safeway. Some of us lived with the rat infested physical hazard Arbor Heights for years. SPS is not a poster child for facility planning or maintenance. And when we want to hang up a picture, paint a wall, wire for technology, forget it. The bureaucracy and maintenance union put an end to timeliness. Someone may or may not show up within a week or three. Usually you're told there's no money, no time, no resource, or a rule against the request.

Safeway can only be better.


Anonymous said...

Great essay by an Ohio school teacher who works with high risk elementary students and is finally leaving as he has had enough


- I get it

n said...

maintenance union - I keep asking what goes with administration turning a blind eye to such poor maintenance at our schools? Our head custodian has created an environment that makes cleaning for him a breeze but teaching kids really hard.If he says he doesn't want a desk or table here or there, principal says okay. Cleaning? I don't see it. Short summer hours and then the big rush in August when teachers are trying to return early to get started for the new year. It was on our school list this year that teachers were responsible for cleaning kids' coat cubbies and desks(my kids do their desks). Do you think K-kids are doing their desks? And we didn't even have an extra day to do it all! I found poop in one of the kids bathrooms this week. Still there! They used to have a to-do list but now the teachers have the to-do list. Used to be that we got lots of empty trash cans in hallways and they were dumped regularly so we could add to them. Now we go looking for empty bags to use because none are put out. No sink cleaning. No doorknob cleaning - (sound picky? - that's where the germs are!) No dusting at the top of shelves/bookshelves. And the worst is that our main custodian goes on vacation and tells our night guy to do it all.

And SEA nowhere to be found on all this.

It's going to take a very skilled surgeon to remove the cancer at SPS without killing the patient.

Split the district.

I bet Nyland knew lots of his teachers in Marysville. I bet he visited schools. I bet he knew what was going on because it was a manageable size. I bet he had a sense of what schools were doing and how they all fit into the puzzle that was the Marysville School District. Now he's in the middle of numbers and names without a clue what's working out there where the kids and teachers are.

Anonymous said...

MONEY's Best Colleges
The 736 schools that provide the best value for your tuition dollar.

List of top colleges by value of tuition dollar

Of top 24
6 are in California
0 are in WA

1. Stanford University
2. Babson College
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3. Princeton University
5. California Institute of Technology
6. Harvey Mudd College $76,400 highest mid-career annual earnings
6. Harvard University
8. Maine Maritime Academy
9. Amherst College
9. University of California-Berkeley
9. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
12. University of Pennsylvania
13. University of California-Irvine
14. Rice University
15. Brigham Young University-Provo
15. Bentley University
17. University of Virginia
18. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
19. Claremont McKenna College
20. Texas A&M University-College Station
21. Yale University
21. Dartmouth College
21. Duke University
24. Washington and Lee University
24. Vanderbilt University

36. UW - Bothell (64%) [$51,500]
56. UW - Seattle (82%) [$51,900]
96. WSU - Pullman (65%) [$47,800]
109. Gonzaga (82%) [$49,200]
184. Western Washington Un. (69%) [$45,300]
184. UW - Tacoma (49%) [$46,000]
230. Seattle Univ. (77%) [$47,700]
246. Whitman College (88%) [$42,000]
284. Univ of Puget Sound (78%) [$44,700]
318. Pacific Lutheran Univ. (70%) [$42,800]
335. Central Washington U. (51%) [$45,300]
412. Seattle Pacific U. (69%) [$43,700]
437. The Evergreen State College (57%) [$39,500]
473. Whitworth Univ. (74%) [$40,900]

(graduation rate) [Average Early Career Earnings]

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what department the district has their EH&S people assigned to? Looking at their departments on the web site, I thought I would find them under "Health & Safety". But that is mainly school nurses and "Safety & Security". From the information, it looks like safety & security deals with student discipline and emergency response, not worker safety. Three people in "Risk Management & Insurance" look like they do some EH&S work but they also seem to be more focused on students. They must have more people I can't find in another department. My company has two full-time safety professionals and we don't even have 1000 partners. If they have 9000 employees, wouldn't they have at least 10 people whose job is worker safety? Where would they be hidden in the org chart?


Anonymous said...

OHIO exits PARCC testing.
PARCC testing states are down to only 9 from a high of 23.

There's more trouble on the horizon for PARCC, the beleaguered Common Core testing consortium. From a high of 23 states in 2010, PARCC has dwindled to just nine active members. Ohio is the latest exit, citing a toxic brand, long testing times, and "widespread complaints." There's not even much of a plan B: Replacing the PARCC tests there will be new state tests that have yet to be written.

So how long will the SBAC be used in WA State?

-- Dan Dempsey

Lia R said...

Some on this blog have had a problem with the City of Seattle- namely Ed Murray, Tim Burgess and Holly Miller.

Here is an interesting story about Murray and his ability to twist and turn the truth:


Essentially, if Murray's lips are moving- he is lying.

Anonymous said...

Senate rejects plan to allow parents to opt out of standardized tests

BUT.... from the Daily Show and Valerie Strauss and Diane Ravitch =>

Sometimes incorrectly labeled in the media as being union-launched and led, the movement against the privatization of public education and standardized test-based accountability systems has grown in large part because the people in schools who have traditionally kept quiet about reforms they found ineffective or harmful to students — teachers, principals and superintendents — began to speak out publicly. Parents began to to organize and students did as well.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Lamar Alexander’s Senate Floor Speech Against Federally Mandated Testing Opt-Out

Senator Lamar Alexander, formerly both the Governor of Tennessee and the United States Secretary of Education, gave a compelling floor speech yesterday against a federally mandated opt-out. Let’s listen in from the Congressional Record:

The proposal from the Senator from Utah is a Washington mandate that says to States that Washington will decide that. So our proposal is local control. His, the way I hear it, is Washington knows best. That is like Common Core. The proposal that is on the floor for a vote tomorrow says Washington may not mandate to any of our States what its academic standards should be. That ends the Washington Common Core mandate. In the same bill, why should we put a Washington mandate about whether you can opt out of your test?

Why don’t we allow States to make that decision?

So I say to my Republican friends, especially, do we believe in local control only when we agree with the local policy? I don’t think so. The great economist Art Laffer likes to say: States have a right to be right, and States have a right to be wrong.

I have a different view. I am going to vote no on the amendment of the Senator from Utah because it takes away from States the right to decide whether and how to use the Federal tests and whether parents may opt out.

Why is that a problem? Well, in the following States, States use these tests as part of their State accountability system. They don’t have to do it, but they do use it. I am told by the State of Tennessee that if we were to adopt the Utah proposal Federal mandate, that the State would have to come up with a different accountability system.

So which States on their own have decided to use these tests as part of their State accountability system? Florida has, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.

So I urge my colleagues to vote for the Alexander-Murray proposal because it reverses the trend toward a national school board and specifically allows States to decide whether States may opt out of tests while the amendment goes the other way. It is a Washington mandate that takes away from States the ability to make that decision.

Result- amendment voted down 32-64.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Hyper-inflation of College tuition and fees....

Do think it might be possible that we’ve accidentally induced hyper-inflation in higher education?

2005-2014 +40 percentage points for College tuition and fees

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

worried about the SBAC? How about this article on the "big one" just out in the New Yorker.13,000 dead, 27,000 injured, 1.5 million homeless. Not a pretty scenario.


Shaky Sam

Anonymous said...

MW, did you get the final reports on Beacon Hill ES?


Anonymous said...


Article on twice exceptional kids.


Anonymous said...

Most of our schools are deathtraps when, not if, the Cascadia subduction zone ruptures. I'd want my kids in the newest possible building. We're 100+ years overdue on the average interval of massive quakes.


Anonymous said...

What is one to make of Danny Westneat's article today. The Mayor is saying only 6% of Seattle housing will be upzoned. Westneat's article quotes developer David Neiman from the housing committee as saying this:

The first thing architect David Neiman said when I got him on the phone wasn’t exactly aligned with the mayor’s spin.

“I think the mayor was trying to do some messaging there,” Neiman said. “The rules definitely would change in all the single-family zones in Seattle.”

If approved, the new rules would cover the entire city and would, Neiman said, be an upzone to all single-family lots in Seattle.

He said a way to visualize the proposal for Seattle’s single-family zones is this: It effectively triples the density of development allowed today, while retaining the same housing bulk and lot coverage limitations.

“So you could take a lot where you are currently able to build one home, and you could slice it into three units,” Neiman says. “That could be three free-standing small homes, or one building divided into three flats, or three row houses, or three condos.”

I am trying to make sense of what I am hearing here...what is really being proposed?


Lynn said...


I believe the mayor's plan is to allow construction of up to three residences on a lot. He wants to do this without changing current code restrictions that limit the percentage of the lot covered with non-permeable material, require particular setbacks from the street, alley and sides of lots, and limit building height, etc.

This would (in theory) result in smaller, more affordable homes.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Shaky Sam, yes, that New Yorker report certainly has implications for schools. I'm going to have a separate thread.

No, I didn't get those Beacon Hill reports, even though they told one person July 13th, I won't get mine until the 20th. Unless, of course, someone sends them before that.

FedMomof 2, I asked myself the same question. How could they change the zoning for single family homes only for 6% of the city (and it would be my 6%). Again, I'm not against townhomes, duplexes or MIL cottages.

But if anyone thinks prices will magically go down with more available, you are taking advantage of the pot law way too much. Because I've lived in SF and even when we had more apartments, we never saw the rent go down. In popular places like NYC, SF and here, you are not going to see prices go down.

Anonymous said...

But if anyone thinks prices will magically go down with more available, you are taking advantage of the pot law way too much .. Amen

I think a re-examination of supply and demand might be needed. The supply of money paid to employees will be demanded by landlords. When one rises so does the other. The increasing the supply of dwelling units in a subsection of King County will have no positive effect on rents or housing prices in that subsection.

Sections of Silicon Valley began building housing for Teachers, Nurses, Police and other employees so those valued employees would be able to live closer to the action.

-- Dan Dempsey