Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

It is a fast and furious news cycle for public education in Seattle and our state.

On the overturning of the charter school law, there is so much to say that I will be putting up a separate thread.  There is an telephonic Charter Commission meeting tomorrow where the issue will be discussed.

On the state of the strike in SPS, the word is that, despite movement on the contract, that it seems unlikely they will get it done before tomorrow and highly likely there will be a strike.  You will have to use your own best judgment about how you, as an SPS  parent, want to view this strike.  Of course, it would be a terrible imposition for parents - there is so much organizing of daily lives to do, explaining to your children and the worry about how long it would be for and those outcomes to your student's academic life.

I do urge you to consider that the union has been careful to say that the district has dragged its feet in coming to the table over and over.  Will it do any good to blame anyone?  Probably not but it may influence who you support.  I myself will be supporting the teachers.

Latest SEA update.

From KING-5:

Meanwhile, parent groups are expressing frustration at being left out of important decisions that could impact their student's lives.  Specifically, two key items at the bargaining table, set recess times and possible expansion of the school day, are being negotiated behind closed doors.

"Again and again and again, as a parent, you often feel that you're sidelined and it's very difficult to feel that you're listened to," said Ramona Hattendorf, parent of two Seattle Public School students and vice-president of Community and Parents for Public Schools.

The district's had another update yesterday, mostly with childcare information, should a strike happen.

The Seattle Education Association and Seattle Public Schools continue in mediation to reach agreement on a contract. Progress is being made, and updates will continue to be posted on the district web site, as well as through local media. 

While negotiations continue, parents are encouraged to have contingency child care plans for Wednesday and beyond, in the event a strike occurs.

The Board is to have a special board meeting tonight with a Resolution on the labor issue.  However, the Resolution will not be available until tonight which I find odd.  They are wordsmithing all the way up to the start of the meeting?  I have requested a copy.

Meanwhile, life goes on in the district.

There's a Board meeting tomorrow night and boy, it's full of some interesting items.  I'll do a thread on it as well but here's the link.  No mention of the Resolution on the possible strike nor the charter school ruling. 

Equity and Race Advisory Committee Accepting Nominations.
The deadline for nominations or applications for the Equity and Race Advisory Committee is Friday, Sept. 18, 2015.
School Family Partnership Advisory Committee Accepting Nominations.
The deadline for nominations or applications for the School-Family Partnership Advisory Committee is Friday, September 18, 2015.
What's on your mind? 

41 comments:

Divamom said...

I just read that the Board is going to vote today to authorize the superintendent to take legal action against the union if they strike.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Divamom, it would be more helpful as to where you read that. We are all hearing that but we need a valid source.

Tiny Tribe said...

http://q13fox.com/2015/09/07/district-could-take-seattle-teachers-to-court-as-strike-looms-parents-group-rallies-around-educators/

Tiny Tribe said...

Not sure if you consider Q13 a valid source.
;)

Divamom said...

Also here:

http://www.seattlewea.org/images/static_content/BARGAINING/SEA%20Bargaining%20update%2021%20-%209-8-15%20AM.pdf

Anonymous said...

They are voting on it, but we don't know how they will vote. It is technically illegal to strike, so voting against the injunction is probably not legal for them, though I would need to look at their job descriptions to actually know how much leeway they are given. They may do it anyway, with enough pressure, and I am certainly writing to express my displeasure and hope they pressure for compromise. But the best thing for all involved has got to be agreement today. A strike will probably be very extended and very messy, and I think parent support for it is probably at its very highest today, and the pressure on sps is highest today. I hope they make a lot of use of it, and honestly this has been so dramatic I hope none of the negotiators on either side come back next time. Get some better people, and START NEGOTIATING EARLIER, SPS.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Frustrated as I am with both sides, I have to say I kind of love the SEA proposal of basically creating a task force to study a longer school day. Way o use the district's stalling tactics against them. "What? You don't think task forces are in good faith? Really?"

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

If the state requires 1080 hrs for secondary students but only 1000 for elementary, how does it make sense for elementary students to have the longer school day? Elementary us currently 6.5 hrs, vs only 6 for secondary. Since they clearly don't need to be equal, why not increase just the secondary day instead of all? It would make it easier to pay teachers for the extra time since there would be fewer of them.

I agree--the instructional hours issue needs a lot more discussion, community engagement, and analysis. The district is charging full steam ahead, but doesn't seem to have a clear plan or rationale.

HF

Po3 said...

Bets that the Source isn't up tomorrow and the district will blame the teachers for the delay.

Anonymous said...

Off topic: Do kids in high schools have textbooks? My 8th grader has never had a textbook, and no one has ever taught her how to take notes or how to STUDY. They learn things in class, then take home worksheets or write papers at home, or memorize maps. But when do they learn to take notes, read a text, and study? And again, do they have textbooks in high school?

Mom of 8th grader

Ebenezer said...

As far as the Board authorizing the District to ask the court for an injunction preventing a strike, it was posted in the last thread: http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/15-16agendas/090815agenda/20150908_Action_Report_Resolution.pdf

Striking isn't illegal for public school teachers - a 2006 Attorney General opinion said that teachers have no right to strike, however. That said, the opinion was written by Rob McKenna, so unsure if Bob Ferguson has the same view.

NW mom said...

8th grade mom - my kid did have textbooks in high school, at least for math and history anyway - she lugged her history book and math book back and forth between her father's house and my house for quite a while until she figured out her history book was also online.

Maureen said...

My high school students have had textbooks in most classes (generally not LA, not drama) they seem to learn to use them, more or less (AP classes are very (too, IMHO) text driven.)

imygurl said...

Mom of an 8th Grader,
As a Garfield student I have always received a textbook, primarily in foreign language, science, and history. A lot of the times the textbook can be found online but this is not always a guarantee, especially for science textbooks.

Also, what do you mean your student hasn't learned to "take notes and study"? These are skills needed for any class that has tests, or even classes that require essay writing.

Carol Simmons said...

It is inconceivable to me that the District is yet again establishing ANOTHER task force/committee to study disproportionality.
Didn't we just have a committee last year in the Equity and Race Relations Department? Didn't we begin these Task Forces/committees in 1975 with the first Disproportionality Task Force? How many committees have we had since then in order to discuss, study, and make recommendations? It seems like millions with these committees making many of the same recommendations that were made in 1975.
The Committee that was formed last year made recommendations yet again and presented them to the Superintendent and Board.
What does this imply? Why are we forming another committee?

Watching said...

Board agenda: District administrators are asking for a raise.

Eric B said...

If there is a strike, will there be pickets at individual schools? The Board vote tonight on taking teachers to court will do more than a voter's guide for many people. All of the candidates need to be asked how they would have voted on this, whether the measure passes or fails.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I reported on those raises when it was Introduced. Very bad timing, no?

Maureen said...

Per Watching's comment:

5. Approval of Compensation Bulletin for Management Staff – (A&F) Approval of this item would approve the Compensation Bulletin for Management Staff and authorize staff to increase salaries on the salary schedules by 1.8% starting September 1, 2015, and an additional 1.2% starting September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2017. (from the agenda for tonight's Board meeting)

Wow that looks bad. Any Board member who votes yes for that and also for Nyland's injunction might as well just pack up their office tonight.

Anonymous said...

Sleeper - "START NEGOTIATING EARLIER"

Negotiations started on May 20th. What good is starting earlier if the district frequently doesn't show up, doesn't respond to proposals, and then drops something as major as a longer school day without compensation on August 17th. The district had a deadline of August 24th for the SEA general meeting to vote on a contract. They should have taken that seriously and not stalled for three months.

Cameo

Anonymous said...

Anyone have a copy of the districts public records request log? I want to see which candidates are district administration friendly and which ones aren't.

Hale Parent

Anonymous said...

I sent an email to the board telling them that I stand with the teachers, and support all their demands, including the pay raises they deserve and limitations on standardized testing. I also expressed my anger at parents being left out of the discussion on extending the school day, and I called out the district on their delaying tactics that caused this to become a last-minute crisis rather than an ongoing process throughout the summer. To have a scenario in place that includes kids not knowing until the night before school whether school is happening the next day is ridiculous. The decision might not even be announced until after kids have had to go to bed!

Finally, I let the board know that I resent the manipulative emails sent by Superintendent Nyland that are sent on the pretext of informing parents, but are actually just propaganda emails to communicate the district's messaging on the SEA demands. It doesn't seem right that Superintendent Nyland is allowed to use the district email list to communicate biased messaging on an ongoing dispute.

I believe in supporting our teachers, and I'm appalled at the way the district is treating them. It's no wonder that we have a shortage of teachers in our state, and if we don't start treating our teachers better, it's only going to get worse.

-Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

Seattle parent says, "It doesn't seem right that Superintendent Nyland is allowed to use the district email list to communicate biased messaging on an ongoing dispute."

He is a bad, bad man. How dare he use the power and authority of his office to communicate directly to parents/families in a way that supports his and his office's point of view?

Shame on him.

Citizen Kane

Anonymous said...

An email to a Garfield counselor was returned with an "automatic strike reply" - apparently, at least one Garfield counselor is already on strike!

Funny Bulldog

Eric B said...

One more--the King County court now has to decide what to do about charters. I see two extremes with lots of shades of gray between. End #1 is to shut them down right now. If it's not constitutional to give charters money, they need to close now. End #2 is to let them stay open for a year. The state entered contracts with the charter schools, and they should be honored. #2 also gives time to theoretically at least get a constitutional amendment passed (though I doubt it would).

Any opinions on where this is headed?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, the Charter Commission entered into that contract and yes, they represent the State but can they give dollars that the Supreme Court said are illegal to give to these schools?

I think the Charter Commission may be sussing that out tomorrow.

My latest thread explaining that private donors will step in if the State won't give the dollars.

I believe that since the Supreme Court threw out the entire law, that the State can't just fund them. (Not against the backdrop of McCleary.)

That's my take.

Anonymous said...

Funny Bulldog,
Garfield counselors are working today. He or she may have put an auto-responder on his email proactively, but when I was there speaking to the counseling office staff person this morning, I heard that counselors were taking appointments with students who needed schedules, and taking schedule change forms for those who needed changes.
GHSmom

Eric B said...

Yeah, I hadn't seen that as I wrote my comment. That answers it--the charters become private schools funded by the various charter group venture philanthropists, and there's a messy legal issue at the end of the year as the schools get unwound.

Anonymous said...

Cameo, that's why I directed that specific comment to SPS and not both. I don't think SPS seriously started negotiating until mid August, which is absurd given the size of the district and proposals on the table. I think the teachers may have shot the moon a little (though maybe could have moved more if they had been engaged in May instead of August?), and at this point it's pretty equally up to both sides to move forward and I see a strike as a failure on both sides. A strike is so harmful and disruptive, no matter what I think of the proposals. I just want them all to start compromising.


-sleeper

Lynn said...

I'm posting an excerpt from the minutes for last month's Audit & Finance Committee meeting. Someone new has been taking and writing up the minutes over the last few months and the quality is awful. It's sometimes difficult to understand what happened. Here's an example:

Special Attention Items

• Notification of Contract Exceeding $250,000 (Anderson)
Eric Anderson spoke about Amplify contract chosen in RFP process for access and likening itself. As a possible renewal was getting closer, we contracted with them for creation services. These services included two workshops $13,500 for assessment creation services. This is just a notification of that amount exceeding the 250k.

Directors question the new core is selling amplify will that affect us. Mr. Anderson spoke about how this year it will not effect. What impact that might have for future services is unknown. But they have been in contact with us and do not expect any interruption.


What does this mean? Do the board members even read these?

Joe Wolf said...

Link to my photo set of Cedar Park Elementary, shot August 29th. Includes interior and exterior views.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/joebehr/albums/72157655597071514

Anonymous said...

Some cheerful news. Here's this year's Semifinalists list for National Merit Scholarship:

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/national-merit-scholarship-program-announces-semifinalists/

The usual suspects of course- Bellevue SD and Lakeside are up there. But tiny Holy Names and good on Renton's Liberty HS and Mukilteo's Kamiak HS placed well too.

Congrats.

reader

Anonymous said...

I've heard good things about Kamiak HS and it's interesting to look at OSPI school data of Mukilteo and Renton school districts They have higher 4-5 year adjusted cohort college graduation rates and higher FRL and bilingual populations than SPS. That's pretty heartening to see given the challenges. Bellevue is often held up as the standard, but these school districts aren't as rich as Bellevue or Seattle, but appear to hold their own quite well. I'm thinking there something here they are doing right.

reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

That interesting, Lynn, b/c the Board voted down using Amplify.

Christina said...

ps.seattleschools.org is now available (as of Sept 9 2015) for those wanting to register for Schoology accounts.

NW mom said...

Thank you Joe, I always enjoy looking at your photos.

Anonymous said...

Aaaand, SBAC scores are not on there. What a complete rip off. Really sorry I let a kid take that test. Never again.

-sleeper

Christina said...

-sleeper

Yeah, my student's primary lessons this school year are identifying what is administrative bogus (i.e. providing no benefit to student or family, does not contribute to learning) and developing persuasion and critical thinking skills, researching and presenting legal precedents to evade that bogus. Not getting assessments results until four months later or whenever the district feels like it is one part of the multi-faceted bogus.

Check this gem from Smarter Balanced FAQ page: "Because the assessments are administered online, teachers, principals, and parents can receive results end-of-year assessments in weeks, not months. Faster results also mean that teachers can quickly use the information from optional interim assessments to check student progress and plan instruction during the year."

Patrick said...

Christina, the entire test is bogus to begin with, so it doesn't matter how late we get the results :)

Bird said...

What's up with the "source"?

My kid never brought home a report card or test scores at the end of the year because, apparently, he still had a classroom book he hadn't returned. We left of vacation for about a month immediately following the end of school, so couldn't sort out the details with the report card with his teacher after school ended.

I was hoping to take a look at his test scores online, but the source has been offline whenever I've checked it this summer, and it looks like it may have been replaced with some new system that appears to be half broken when I look at it.

This frustrates me. My kids has been struggling academically and received an IEP at the very end of the year. I'd like to have the information that the state test provides, though really it may be of limited value, since I can't compare it to previous tests -- another frustration, constantly changing testing strategies make it hard to compare his progress.

Anonymous said...

Great pics, Joe. Thanks for sharing them (I am late because I have been out of town and off line)

Jan