Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Open Thread

What a week.

I'll have to have a separate thread with both the district's goodbye letter to the Alliance for Education AND the Alliance's own long, detailed (with a chart!) rebuttal to what the district says are the issues between them.  It's not over by a long shot and I believe there are hurt feelings all around.  I do have some idea, though, about how we can create a real civic booster group for SPS.

Apparently Advanced Learning reported a power outage yesterday and some families who should have gotten a testing notice did not.  (I believe testing starts tomorrow.)

Advanced Learning testing appointments that were sent out late on Wednesday were in some cases not delivered due to a service outage. We received the following message this morning:

Seattle School Email being blocked
Outage Date & Time: Thursday,October 15
Total Duration: ongoing
Return to Service: Thursday,October 15 – Estimated time to be cleared: 1:00 pm
Services Affected:
SeattleSchool District emails are currently being blocked or delayed by mostoutside email companies (Yahoo.com, Gmail.com, Hotmail.com).

Many appointment letters were undeliverable. We will resend the appointments later this afternoon. If your child was scheduled for testing on Saturday October 17 and you do not receive an appointment, we will reschedule for another date as soon as systems return to normal.

Please be patient while we address these technical issues. Rest assured that all on-time referrals will be honored.

http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=14554


On the staffing shuffles, apparently STEM K-8 and Lawton are now having teachers taking out.

One thing that kind of bothers me - where is the SEA?  Why, if parents supported teachers during the strike - aren't they standing up for their parents and their schools?

Also, KUOW's News in Review, on at 10 am today, will likely be talking about the staffing issues. 

In charter school news, the Washington State Charter Commission met yesterday and apparently, it wasn't pretty.  From the Associated Press:

Officials at the Washington Charter School Commission meeting in Tacoma on Thursday say they have had to put the application process on hold because of the Washington Supreme Court's decision in September that the state's new charter school law is unconstitutional.

The agency is focused on monitoring the schools that have already opened while making plans to dismantle itself.

The chairman of the Charter School Commission revealed at a meeting Thursday in Tacoma that First Place Scholars is being forced to quickly pay back an overpayment in state dollars it received last school year.
Over the summer, state education officials had told the commission that First Place would have an entire year to pay back the $160,000 extra they had received because of lower student enrollment than expected. Commission Chairman Steve Sundquist says OSPI sped up the payback schedule after the Supreme Court ruling and now is taking all the money out of the school’s first five payments.
- See more at: http://kgmi.com/news/007700-new-financial-problem-at-states-first-charter-school/#sthash.MAUNVISG.dpuf
The AP is also reporting that First Place Charter has to pay the State back overpayment from the State even faster due to First Place's overestimate of students. (In the first year of a charter, the charter estimates its enrollment and the State funds them to that number.  Any thing under the number has to be paid back to the State.)  The amount is $160,0000 and the State is apparently taking that amount out in the first five payments to FPS for this year.

I personally believe that the Commission should have pulled the plug on First Place when it was revealed earlier this year that First Place had raised very little money to pay back the State for the overage and had no real plan to get money.  And now, the State wants its money back even faster.  

The chairman of the Charter School Commission revealed at a meeting Thursday in Tacoma that First Place Scholars is being forced to quickly pay back an overpayment in state dollars it received last school year.
Over the summer, state education officials had told the commission that First Place would have an entire year to pay back the $160,000 extra they had received because of lower student enrollment than expected. Commission Chairman Steve Sundquist says OSPI sped up the payback schedule after the Supreme Court ruling and now is taking all the money out of the school’s first five payments.
- See more at: http://kgmi.com/news/007700-new-financial-problem-at-states-first-charter-school/#sthash.MAUNVISG.dpuf
 What's on your mind?

131 comments:

Lynn said...

Here's a sample of the scope and sequence for 7th grade math:

http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/Friday%20Memos/2015-16/October%209/20151019_FridayMemo_Grade7Unit1Plan.pdf

Some quotes:
Research shows that teaching students a rule (such as “same sign sum”) does not transfer long term across the years of math learning. Teachers are strongly encouraged to avoid teaching rules but instead to give students ample opportunities to make meaning of the mathematics – first from a place of concrete experience, gradually moving to more abstract concepts and algorithms.

Teachers are strongly encouraged to avoid teaching rules. How effective has this practice been in Seattle Public Schools?

and

The expectation of the standards is that in addition to the ways presented in the book, students will use number lines to represent addition of positive and negative numbers. The Illustrative Math task listed for today’s activity in the column to the left is a good number line activity.

Number lines in 7th grade? Really?

The scope and sequence is available only on an internal district website. Why? Parents are asking questions about math - why not publish this info on the website? That would certainly free up some time in the legal department.

Eric B said...

The candidate forum at Hale last night was pretty decent, and gave me the info to figure out who to vote for. Will there be a separate thread on that?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, Eric, it was quite an illuminating forum (and probably the best one I have been to). I plan on a write-up of all of them (just highlights) and endorsement this weekend.

Anonymous said...

2nd-hand but important news from candidate forum last week: No candidates except Christopherson (?) had their own SPS students take the SBAC last year. Makes me think there's going to be a big board-administration disconnect on the importance of testing in schools come this spring.

(Grabs popcorn, sits back, prepared to enjoy the show.)

"Tested out"

mirmac1 said...

Yes the forum was eye-opening, to put it mildly.

Anonymous said...

Lynn's comment at #1 position puts forth a lot of useful information.

Yet another "Research Shows" statement in support of the "thinking that JSCEE wishes to push"; has that direction reduced achievement gaps in the past? Looks like Mathnasium, Sylvan, Kumon, and tutors can expect continued great business. Those with resources can overcome SPS central direction while others cannot.

Lynn asks:
The scope and sequence is available only on an internal district website. Why? Parents are asking questions about math - why not publish this info on the website? That would certainly free up some time in the legal department.

The reason for not publishing on the SPS website is obvious. Secrecy is important. Last year the use of the "Scope and Sequence" from the adopted of Math in Focus materials produced a successful year. (SBAC results were quite good... best ever at grades 4&5 as calculated by difference from WA state averages)

This year it will be back to the usual pathetic delivery of mathematics instruction.
------------

I was forwarded the 13 "math at a glance" documents, which cannot be found on the SPS website. After reviewing a few of these, I am in even further opposition to this JSCEE change in math direction.

The MiF books "scope and sequence" seemed OK last year. I suppose some PD on Bar Modeling, along with supplementation and refinement for some lessons could have improved a few things for this year, but that is not what Heath and Box are doing.

The JSCEE "math at a glance" documents reveal that the books progression of topics will not be used. Instead teachers will be required to constantly jump around the textbook as each "district designed unit" progresses.

This plan presents material in such a way that the book's coherent, cohesive ordering of material is discarded and replaced by a structure in which the Book appears to be an obstacle rather than a resource.

If parents, students and teachers expect to be able to proceed through the book in an orderly way, they will be sadly disappointed. This new "Scope and Sequence" is hardly user friendly and barely teachable. Why Heath and Box believe this revision will close achievement gaps is most puzzling. Yet why this new "Scope and Sequence" is kept secret is very understandable.

(I sent the 13 "at a glance" grade level documents to Melissa)
So what did adoption of "Math in Focus" actually mean?
Apparently near ZERO as far as this year goes.

About the Elementary Math adoption process..... I guess all those meetings and displays of "elementary math" materials were just to give the public something to do.

Do any of our current 7 school directors care to comment... or is that thinking a big secret as well?

-- Dan Dempsey

Hale Forum said...

I'm unclear on Michael Christophersen's Hale presentation. Was he accused of verbally abusing a staff member?

Christophersen held a clip board with "PG 13" written on the back. He periodically held-up the PG-13 clipboard..as if to replace a four letter word with the clip board that said PG 13.

What is going on?

Anonymous said...

Imposition of new elementary math "Scope and Sequence"...

"Open and Transparent?" NOT

Nyland what kind of management allows this?

Seattle Education Association where are you?

-- Dan Dempsey

mirmac1 said...

The Seattle Times would do well to reconsider its endorsement of Michael Christophersen.

Anonymous said...

Dan I hope you send your thoughts to the Board directors. I do not understand why they are letting the administrators sabotage one of their best achievements in math for elementary students. The “Scope and Sequence” replacement of MiF was not vetted or approved by anyone but a few staff people. It should get stopped in its tracks.

S parent

Eric B said...

I think the idea was that he was reading from The Stranger, which tends toward the potty mouth, and he was holding up the PG-13 to sub in for when The Stranger's article was swearing. As I understand it, Christopherson was accused of berating/verbally abusing a staff member at a board meeting. In The Stranger's endorsement interview, he apparently said that he didn't remember the incident, but at the Hale forum, he was saying he now remembers. It wasn't clear if he thought he'd done anything wrong, though.

Did the Times interview him? Given their fetish for people getting along at all costs, I can't imagine how he would get an endorsement.

Anonymous said...

The K5 math outrage needs nonstop pushback.

Great teacher in tears last night on the issue. Told....not asked....to drop MIF and adopt downtown's new worksheet based class flow and materials. Teacher told specifically this is to achieve high SBAC scores. Teacher strongly believes downtown is test driven not child driven in this move, with a side serving of 'hey board FU' on the side for its adoption of MIF in the first place.

Once again downtown is screwing up the schooling of my kids.

North of 85th

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, I perceive one of two things with the Times' endorsement of Christophersen. He can sometimes sound rational but sometimes not. Either the Times heard the rational or they would like to see discord on the Board and endorsed him. I don't know which.

The Stranger said this in their endorsement:

"Michael Christophersen comes off as an unsettled rage monkey. We're tempted to endorse the guy for the sheer entertainment value. The school board is already a shit show—why not make it a little shit-showier? But that wouldn't be fair to all the kiddies. We asked Christophersen about accusations that he'd verbally abused a district staffer at a public meeting a few years ago. He admitted to making his strongly held views known, but he denied ever using abusive language. Okay. Then he went on to say that if elected, he would tell the district administrators: "Please don't come back to me with your bullshit." The SECB finds that kind of abusive language shocking. We almost had to break out Tim Keck's "smelling salts." (Or are they bath salts? We forget.)

(Michael, we're eagerly looking forward to your hate mail. Make it special.)"

Clearly, Mr. Christophersen presented himself to The Stranger in a manner they found off-putting.

Last night, Christophersen, the first speaker in his opening remarks, said he had to address the "smear" campaign that "The Strangler" had and that "The Strangler" had been trying "to tarnish my untarnished reputation." He said he wouldn't use the language "they"use and had put a "PG" on the back of the clipboard to substitute for the bad language "they used."

After the forum, I asked some kids sitting behind me what they thought of each candidate. Michael: "something is off there" and "I had no idea what he was talking about, very weird."

In my round-up of School Board candidates, I plan to just write what they said to specific questions, including Christophersen, and have as little commentary as possible. Then you be the judge.

mirmac1 said...

Eric, this is what he said after admitting he somehow brain-farted the incident:

"you know when I thought back on that conversation (with the staff member) I said "ya know, I'm tired of you (PG-13), and I'm tired of you (PG-13) to our students...I am tired of(PG-13) to the students."

Anonymous said...

Interesting story in the Times re: an upcoming Town Hall meeting (Oct 22) called by Rainier Beach High students on safe travel to schools

<a href="http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/rainier-beach-students-to-call-for-equitable-transportation-by-sharing-own-experiences/>Rainier Beach students call for safer, cheaper ways to get to school</a>

reader47

Dorthy Gale said...

I was at the forum and heard many of the kids say they are "tired of white folks telling them they can't do it on their own", that "somehow they are inferior to whites".

I think we need a complete "start over in the school board race" without the race pandering.

Anonymous said...

The scope and sequence example above is for 7th grade, so not MIF. It is using the "Accentuate the Negative" book (a sure sign of a reform type text is a cutesy title) from CMP (the long ago adopted middle school materials) with some additional supplements. Does anyone have an example of the K-5 scope and sequence?

-mathy parent

Anonymous said...

What an interesting statement by the students of color. I wonder which district practices/policies etc. filter into the classroom that are unconsciously perceived by students of color as "telling them they can't do it on their own?"

What do we do that sends that message? Can we stop it?

-PRP

Anonymous said...

North of 85th, I forwarded your comments to the School Board. They are allowing a few staff members to mess up math, all in the cover of test prep. The Board really needs to show leadership here but they seem to be waiting for the new Board to do it. This is how the central staff sneaks in a bad curriculum.

On another subject, I just finished an interesting book, “The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools,” by Dale Russakoff. It is a fascinating look at the Newark school district after it received massive cash from tech philanthropists and big promises from politicians. The result was lots of charter schools, instability in public schools and major backlash from parents and the community. The takeaway is that there is no magic bullet for helping students with chaotic lives who live in great poverty and that major changes better be made with community support.

The book is available from the Seattle Public Library.

S parent

S parent

dan dempsey said...

Mathy Parent,
... wrote: "Does anyone have an example of the K-5 scope and sequence?


Here you go for the grades 1 through 5 ... new Scope and Sequence are now in my Dropbox account. Links to each are below.

Grade 1
First Grade Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/w3qr30ke0mba4x8/FirstGradeYearataGlance.pdf?dl=0

Grade 2
Second Grade Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/kszxcshvr265lt8/SecondGradeYearataGlance.docx.pdf?dl=0

Grade 3
Third Grade Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/8ukgvuae58164h4/ThirdGradeYearataGlance.pdf?dl=0

Grade 4
Fourth Grade Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/n0mk9qpl87otvku/FourthGradeYearataGlance10_2_15.pdf?dl=0

Grade 5
Fifth Grade Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/qqx77y0c9yjx9wa/FifthGradeYearataGlance02.pdf?dl=0

dan dempsey said...

continuing for Middle School

Grade 6
Sixth Grade Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/yn8zsw5hx72pi9c/Math6YearataGlance.docx.pdf?dl=0

Grade 7
Seventh Grade Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/g8hdo49gtx6dl54/Math7YearataGlance.docx.pdf?dl=0


Grade 8
Eighth Grade Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/2rs5eldjsahcshb/Math8YearataGlance.docx.pdf?dl=0

dan dempsey said...

Forgot Kindergarten Math

Kindergarten
Kindergarten Year at a glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/av5c7o0csotghk9/KinderYearataGlance.pdf?dl=0

dan dempsey said...

On to High School Math

Information about Scope and Sequence Secondary
https://www.dropbox.com/s/nbube2zuani1lnl/Info%20about%20scope%20and%20sequence%20Year%20at%20a%20Glance%20%20Secondary.pdf?dl=0

Algebra 1
Algebra Year 1 at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/zugcdykd5nvltkl/Algebra%201%20Year%20at%20a%20Glance.pdf?dl=0

Geometry
Geometry Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/mk4qtllud44znrm/Geometry%20Year%20at%20a%20Glance.pdf?dl=0

Algebra 2
Algebra 2 Year at a Glance
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ev67g8jhylbkqec/Algebra%202%20Year%20at%20a%20Glance.pdf?dl=0

These links which contribute to Open and Transparent communications are NOT brought to you by the Superintendent, School Board or Central Office Staff of the Seattle Public Schools.

It is now October 16th and the SPS is still keeping parents in the dark about huge elementary school math changes.

dan dempsey said...

North of 85th wrote:
Great teacher in tears last night on the issue. Told....not asked....to drop MIF and adopt downtown's new worksheet based class flow and materials. Teacher told specifically this is to achieve high SBAC scores.

Using the "Grade Level Year at a Glance" information above, parents can finally see what is going on with elementary school math.

This JSCEE staff math action seems similar to a "coup d'├ętat" . Are the Directors complicit in this? Are the Directors unaware? Do the Directors even care?

Beats me.

-- Dan Dempsey

monkeypuzzled said...

Re: AL: My 9 year old is supposed to be taking the test tomorrow. Still haven't received an appointment time. No answer to my emails, no one picking up the phone downtown. Do we .... show up at Lincoln and hang around? Have faith that they'll realize they forgot us this time around and give us a new testing date later on? How on earth would someone figure this process out if English weren't their first language? If they were a single mom with 2 jobs? The whole "blocked email" thing is weirdly "dog ate my homework"-sounding. Am I paranoid, have I been in SPS too long, or does it seem like they want to make it as hard as possible to access advanced learning?

Anonymous said...

Dyslexia is a neurological impairment of which misspellings and mispronunciations are symptoms. Criticizing an off-putting dyslexic person for how they pronounce words is like criticizing an off-putting blind person for their visual acuity. (This statement should not be interpreted as support for this man's candidacy. It is not.)

Teach Everyone

AMS said...

The district's posting for new general counsel, if anyone is interested:

http://agency.governmentjobs.com/seattleschools/default.cfm?action=viewJob&jobID=1256480&hit_count=yes&headerFooter=1&promo=0&transfer=0&WDDXJobSearchParams=%3CwddxPacket%20version%3D%271%2E0%27%3E%3Cheader%2F%3E%3Cdata%3E%3Cstruct%3E%3Cvar%20name%3D%27CATEGORYID%27%3E%3Cstring%3E%2D1%3C%2Fstring%3E%3C%2Fvar%3E%3Cvar%20name%3D%27PROMOTIONALJOBS%27%3E%3Cstring%3E0%3C%2Fstring%3E%3C%2Fvar%3E%3Cvar%20name%3D%27TRANSFER%27%3E%3Cstring%3E0%3C%2Fstring%3E%3C%2Fvar%3E%3Cvar%20name%3D%27FIND%5FKEYWORD%27%3E%3Cstring%3E%3C%2Fstring%3E%3C%2Fvar%3E%3C%2Fstruct%3E%3C%2Fdata%3E%3C%2FwddxPacket%3E

Melissa Westbrook said...

Teach Everyone, Mr. Christophersen calling The Stranger, the "Strangler" was not an error. He accented it very clearly that way as he spoke about them trying to "tarnish"his reputation. I would never make fun of anyone that way.

Anonymous said...

Thanks AMS for the heads up.

HOT LINK HERE to the General Counsel Job posting.

Salary is from $144,387.00 to $199,480.00 Annually

-- Dan Dempsey

northseattlemama said...

Re AL testing: Yeah,I am a single mom, with work to juggle and childcare for my other children to juggle.. and I have no idea when/whether my child is getting tested tomorrow. I've written numerous emails. Left my phone number. No reply.

I'm suspicious too.

Anonymous said...

They sent me an appointment, except it was for someone else's child, student ID number included. I emailed to ask about it, so far nothing...

BT

Anonymous said...

Did anyone hear them review the new transportation/ bell times motion at the meeting yesterday?

BT

Outsider said...

The math kerfluffle so much discussed here is another thing which strikes me as muddled and confusing.

Just because the Board buys a textbook from a big greedy publisher, does that make it sacred? To me, "Math in Focus" would be better titled "Math Obscured by Countless Gimmicks Designed to Sell Textbooks". If anyone cared what parents think, probably a third would prefer their children just learn math, minus all the gimmicks. I personally don't care a rat's behind whether they use MIF chapters out of order. Possibly the Board doesn't either.

Think back to college -- how many of your professors slavishly followed the textbook, using every chapter in order? Roughly none, I bet. If public school teachers actually had any autonomy now days, probably a lot of them wouldn't follow MIF slavishly either.

Is the problem really that MIF is considered a set of sacred scrolls being violated by the infidels in the district office? Or that teachers should have the autonomy normally accorded to professionals, rather than being operated like marionettes?

p.s. If society via politicians and real estate agents puts endless pressure on school administrators to deliver test scores, it shouldn't be a surprise if they try to deliver test scores. Possibly you can't even fault them.

Anonymous said...

The Answer Sheet 10/16/2015

Valerie Strauss on
Rafe Esquith, a 5th grade teacher at Hobart Elementary School, in LAUSD


World-famous teacher files $1 billion lawsuit against Los Angeles schools to end ‘teacher jail’

Bewilder Mind

Anonymous said...

Outsider, SPS has used dreadful math for years. If you want a gimmicky textbook, just look back at Everyday Math. It was filled with confusing word problems, unnecessary graphics and no examples for students to follow.

When I reviewed all the books SPS was considering for elementary adoption, Math in Focus was the most straightforward. Other parents and math experts agreed and it was selected by the Board. Now they are allowing a few administrators to set it aside and screw up math again.

Elementary kids are not college students. They need direct instruction from good teachers to learn the basics. When they are older they can be exposed successfully to abstract thinking.

Teaching to the test is not the same as learning math. Our colleges have too many kids in remedial math. Better curricula would keep them from landing there.

S parent

karen said...

Outsider,

My kid is in 3rd grade so I click on Dan's link to the 3rd grade scope and sequence. Some seems fine. One part that stuck out like a sore thumb is moving the "area and perimeters of shapes" quite a ways forward, but "measurement" was moved way back. So, if I, like you, want my kid to learn math, how is he supposed to measure the area and perimeter of shapes when measurement is being taught much, much later in the year?

Anonymous said...

Outsider wrote:

" If public school teachers actually had any autonomy now days, probably a lot of them wouldn't follow MIF slavishly either. "

Excellent point ... Teacher's are allowed very little autonomy.

Apparently teachers are now required to slavishly follow a jumbled "Scope and Sequence" put together by JSCEE and concealed from the public. I believe that teachers had no advanced warning of this change prior to September. So much for year long planning.

Teachers are not viewed as professionals in the Top-Down world of today's systems of education.

If teachers were treated as professionals most would likely follow the "Scope and Sequence of MiF" but make many modifications along the way based on the needs of individual students in the math class and make more improvements each year.

The full understanding of the MiF bar model is important for teachers, so that they can convey understanding to students.

It seems that systems convenient for teacher evaluation may trump delivery of effective instruction.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.... Instead there is a huge preference for following the preferred philosophical belief of the day and applying it Top-Down.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

It's interesting this blog has suddenly become SPED friendly. In the past, SPED was ridiculed by both the bloggers and commenters.

I especially found Melissa's post linking the Newtown shootings to autism disturbing.

-SPED mom

Anonymous said...

That's sadly hilarious about the AL testing emails being blocked. I was wondering what the excuse would be this year!

Since they seem to have a problem with this every year, you'd think they'd eventually figure it out. Oh, and maybe it would be a good idea to start at least attempting to notify people more than 2 days in advance of the weekend appointments. The whole "it's not our fault--we tried to get the notices out late Wednesday, but they got delayed until Thursday afternoon!" argument doesn't work. If they were a little more organized and considerate and notified parents at least a week in advance, they'd probably end up saving a lot of money on testing, too. The Saturday we went for testing--with a day's notice--only about 1/4 of the kids scheduled in my child's group showed up. They paid for a lot of unnecessary testers that day, only to have to reschedule a ton of kids. No wonder so much of our HC funding goes toward testing!

DisAPPointed

mirmac1 said...

No. Melissa has not been down on SpEd. Some readers have but, really, that is life and what sped parents face everyday. I'm more disturbed by the machinations of some well-paid suits in this burg to takeover our schools.

monkeypuzzled said...

Finally got an email from AL: "Students who did not receive a testing appointment notice for Saturday October 17 will be rescheduled for another date and time as soon as possible. All referred students will be tested. Our new interim system successfully scheduled almost 400 SPS and private school students for our first Saturday testing event. Circumstances beyond our control prevented some families from being notified in a timely manner. We apologize for the inconvenience." We successfully scheduled almost 400 students! Give us a break already!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Outsider, I don't recall a teacher ever taking a textbook from start to finish, especially a math text. My K-12 education was spread across six different districts. The obfuscation is definitely alarming, and the order they decide to teach math in might be a concern, but I've never expected my kids to learn a subject in the same order that their textbooks present it.

--FremontDad

Patrick said...

Outsider "Think back to college -- how many of your professors slavishly followed the textbook, using every chapter in order? Roughly none, I bet."

That's an interesting point and thanks giving me something to think about. The answer is not "none" for me, more like around 1/4. And more than that use the chapters in order but skip some of them; many college books are designed with some optional chapters.

The courses that use a prescribed book are mostly introductory courses where completing the same material in the same way was important for success in followup courses. If students who passed 101 were getting to 201 with no idea what they were doing, the 101 instructor would hear about it! Not a coincidence is that in many departments the 101 instructors are probably graduate students with less teaching experience and with neither the experience nor time to change the course materials.

Also, of course, in most cases college instructors are free to adopt whatever textbook they want, so it would be strange for them to require students to buy a book and then not use it.

It's true that in grade school the teachers have less freedom to change the materials or what they are covering, especially with math because mastery of the foundations is essential to so many other fields.

It's not like SPS is going to set its teachers free to use any book they want. The teachers are just as controlled -- it's just that now they're required to use an untested, unreviewed bunch of worksheets and pacing guides put together in Fort Stanford instead of the tested and reviewed books the Board adopted.

Anonymous said...

Micmac1, Melissa created the Newtown post. It was hateful and disturbing.

-SPED mom

Anonymous said...

Amen to what Patrick said at 3:56 PM

The classes I took many years ago in elementary school, high school, and college generally followed the order of material as presented in the book. Some chapters or small sections were occasionally omitted. The new JSCEE math "Scope and Sequence" is a huge departure from that. Look at the jumbled order in which sections of the book are to be used.

" it's just that now they're required to use an untested, unreviewed bunch of worksheets and pacing guides put together in Fort Stanford instead of the tested and reviewed books the Board adopted."

Do any teachers believe this new "Scope and Sequence" is particularly teachable?

As a parent, who has always been interested in helping my child when needed, I would be outraged that this plan was not presented to me and that it remains hidden from view by Central Staff administrators.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Could someone please tell us the fairy tale about the district's desire for more community engagement? How can the public engage when plans are purposely well hidden?

Inquiring Mind

Dorthy Gale said...

-PRP One way to stop it now, is for all the current candidates for school board to STOP.

Can you imagine what it would be like to sit there and listen to that type of characterization.

Watching said...

I've never been comfortable with Jonathan Knapp's relationship with Tim Burgess. Therefore, I'm not surprised to see that SEA gave a dual endorsement to Burgess and Grant. Burgess supports mayoral control of education and Grant is the candidate to vote for in this race. As an aside, I've heard that Jim McDermott wants to retire and Murray is interested in his position. If Murray leaves, the Seattle City Council's president would become mayor. We don't need Burgess in the mayor's seat.

I read about the issues around safety and Rainier Beach High School. This is one place that the city can help.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sped Mom, you are quite mistaken about this blog and Special Education. I myself have a special needs child and I did not link autism to Newtown. I reported that the shooter was said to have Asperger's. I'm sorry you found what I wrote upsetting; I'd suggest another blog if my writing has that effect on you.

Watching, yes, I think that Knapp thinks he and Burgess are buds and some great thing will be there for him at the end of the Burgess rainbow. I doubt it. I think it is GREAT that Jon Grant got a dual endorsement; he's my pick for sure.

Anonymous said...

From John Hay Elementary today: "without notice or opportunity for public comment, additional revisions were made to the proposed Hay bell times. It is our understanding that this new proposal will be introduced next Wednesday October 21st and voted on shortly. For 2015 and 2016, the proposal is for a 9:40am start and a 3:50 pm end, and beginning in 2017. It is rumored that those times would shift even later to a 10 am start time and a 4:10 pm end."

I am surprised that a 10am bell is proposed (at least "rumored") for an elementary school. Isn't the idea of changing bell times to send the high schoolers to school later and elementary kids earlier?
--Surprised

Anonymous said...

I can't believe anyone would take the Stranger's assessment of candidates seriously. They start off by calling the school board race a joke...I would not like to repeat the despicable ans absolutely innapropriate comment in reference to one of the cadidate's children. I am not used to their language.

Really Folks?

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Stranger is my "go to" for local news. Try not to be such a fragile flower.

-SPS parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Stranger is its own flavor but they do some great reporting AND are a wonderful counterbalance to the Times.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll just add that, for candidates today, The Stranger is a huge endorsement because of their ability to sway voters. If I were running for School Board, I'd rather have The Stranger than the Times.

Anonymous said...

The Stranger lost Goldy and Paul Constant to Nick Hanauer which is unfortunate. Although they both still write with the same vigor about politics (http://civicskunkworks.com/blog/), their alliance with Hanauer has effectively silenced them on education issues. This is especially sad because Goldy was, with the exception of Melissa, one of the best, clear-eyed, reporters on the education beat.

This illustrates the problem when business interests step in to control things, although I am glad that Goldy and Paul now have health insurance......

-SPS parent

ProSleep Mom said...

@Surprised at Hay

There is NO discussion of any elementary going to 10 am in 2017; all I can think is that someone added 20 minutes to the beginning and the end of the day, when they should only be adding to the end. Staff and Board are very aware that 9:40 is very late and a hardship for many families. They have gotten plenty of email to this effect; hence the big changes from the last proposal which had 30 schools at that time.

From yesterday's Ops Committee of the Whole presentation:
The intent of the latest bell times proposal is to:
- Meet the AAP guidelines (secondary after 8:30)
-Prioritize Title 1 programs to earlier tiers as an equity consideration (unless otherwise requested)
- Maximize number of students/schools in Tiers 1 and 2
- Put MS in Tier 2
- Be cost neutral for Transportation

The Final Recommendation meets or almost meets the goals:
-It puts all but one secondary school after 8:30 (Denny is the exception in Tier 1, because by Master Use permit agreement it must start at least 30 minutes away from Sealth's Tier 2 start time)

-It greatly reduces the number of schools in Tier 3- from 33 currently to 13 in the new proposal (or 30 in the previous draft). I know this is small consolation if your school is one of the 13 and you hate it, but as a system, having 20 less schools in this situation is a good thing. Several schools requested the late Tier because they have long bus routes, and wanted to avoid kids out in the very early morning.

-Title 1 schools get some preference for Tier 1 or 2 (B-G requested Tier 3)

- MS is at Tier 2 (again, except Denny)

- 51% of students will be in Tier 1; 32% in Tier 2 and 17% in Tier 3; so that's 83% of students in Tiers 1 and 2.

-It's cost neutral

It's not perfect, but it is a HUGE step forward from where we are today, or from any of the proposals along the way. And every student and family will eventually benefit from healthier high school times, which as many have said previously on this blog, actually is a big deal.

cmj said...

In December, sunrise is at 7:40 am. RBHS starts at 8 am. People can typically walk a mile in 20 minutes, though walking a mile in the city would take longer because you have to wait at crosswalks for lights. So let's say that a RBHS student (carrying a backpack full of books) who lives 2 miles from school needs 45 minutes to walk to school. Let's say that the student wants a ten minutes buffer before class starts, in case something happens on the way to school that causes a delay. That student needs to leave home at 7:05 and walk through a neighborhood with some of the highest crime rates in the city, in the dark, to get to school. How many students do you know who eagerly wake up in the morning expecting to walk two miles each way to school through less-than-safe areas?

Get the kids some bus passes already! It may not decreases the amount of time spent in transit (Metro routes being what they are), but it'll make the kids safer and cut down on the walking. Exercise is a great thing, but such a long walk to school does not make students want to go to school in the morning.

Anonymous said...

@ProSleep Mom

Thanks for all the info; I appreciate it.
--Surprised at Hay

Anonymous said...

How Bizarre... from the Info about "Scope and Sequence" secondary

New Math Scope and Sequence Documents for Kindergarten through Algebra 2 Released!
The Seattle Public Schools Math Design Collaborative announces release of a new, district wide, standards based Scope and Sequence for Kindergarten through Algebra 2 for implementation in the 2015


Yet the SPS failed to announce this release of a new K-12 math "scope and sequence" to the stakeholders that count the most ... the parents.

How Open & Transparent is that?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Hey it is even worse than suspected:

" it's just that now they're required to use an untested, unreviewed bunch of worksheets and pacing guides put together in Fort Stanford instead of the tested and reviewed books the Board adopted."

In addition to not using the Math in Focus books effectively, most of the new "Scope and Sequence" materials have not been produced yet. It is make it up as the year progresses. Kids used as experimental math guinea pigs.

Teachers are encouraged to use the Year at a Glance in conjunction with the Unit Summaries and Standards and supplementary documents to plan for unit instruction within grade level planning teams. Later this summer, Math Design Collaborative participants and SPS Math Curriculum Specialists will develop an example Unit Plan for the first 1 or 2 units of the year, with more being released during the 2015 2016 school year. During the 2015-2016 school year, this work will continue in order to develop unit assessments, performance tasks, and teaching resources such as lesson suggestions and exit tickets.

Planned Roll out for Kindergarten - Algebra 2:

SPS Year at a Glance documents released mid June

SPS Unit Summary and Standards documents released mid August

SPS Unit 1 Plan (example) released early September

SPS Unit 1 supplementary documents released early September


Hey maybe I do not have this correct. Heath and Box have yet to release these documents and let any parent know what is going on.

What I do see is an experiment in progress without notification or permission of parents. What was the elementary school math text adoption about?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Thank you ProSleep Mom for the bell times update. I was happy to see that high schools and middle schools are aligned at 8:50. Makes more sense that way. I'm curious how many elementary schools would volunteer for 9:40 am? I know some parents who actually prefer that to 8 am. Maybe those schools can offer to trade times with another school? Apparently the District has moved the final vote to a later date so there is some time yet to manage it. But yeah overall, this version is an improvement over the previous recommendation.

BT

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, thanks to ProSleep Mom. I agree about the lower number of schools being in Tier Three. I hope you all know that speaking out - loudly - did make the difference (I believe). I think they also heard from principals at Title One schools who were very concerned.

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to vote? We're late and I hate it! People spoke out and we ended up with a lousy time.
North End

Anonymous said...

You can still send emails to arrivaltimes@seattleschools.org

BT

n said...

So ed directors are paid commensurate with counsel? Doesn't that seem a little off?

Also, we received an email that said the "computer outage" was due to another school employee opening a phishing email and providing password info and our servicers (gmail, yahoo, etc.) shut out the District. It happens fairly often. Honestly, I delete everything that isn't something I recognize and trust.

n said...

Couple of thoughts:
I see no reason seventh graders shouldn't still be using number lines. They are still kids and the more supports they get the more successful they will be in the long run. Not all kids are mathy. To me number lines are crucial. I used them constantly in primary and encouraged kids to use them as problem solvers whenever they needed them. Kids too soon want to just give answers without thought or verifying.

The reason I prefer to stay with the structure of MIF is that 1)we primary teachers are generally not mathy and sticking with a structure keeps us on target 2)I don't trust district math people 3) I am hopeful that MIF has developed a curriculum they can defend in terms of scope and sequence 4)how helpful is it to give teachers - with all they have on our plates - constant changes at the last minute? That is really irritating.

Thanks for posting what happened to Goldy. I've often wondered. Yes, I wish he were still with The Stranger. I agree with Hanouer on a lot of things but disagree on others.

Location Matters said...

In addition to yanking a teacher (after being told to hire them in August), Boren STEM K-8 was also dealt an unforeseen blow by being moved (without discussion) to Tier 3. Sunset is 4:09pm in mid-winter. Yes, let's release 5 year olds onto Delridge, in the dark, at the start of rush hour... Really? It seems to me that there should not be a single elementary on Tier 3 if the logic for changing bell times is followed. How is it that there is not a single high school (who needs the latest start time) on Tier 3?

Did SPS ever produce the documents to support their "2 tiers is too expensive" rhetoric?

n said...

I meant to respond to your "where is SEA" on this. What should SEA be doing? We are bound by a contract which admittedly I'm not happy with. Is it more a statement of support that you are looking for? Nobody is more upset than the teachers with all this. Can you imagine a new teacher living next to Viewlands and teaching at Viewlands a year to two and at the last minute being transferred to Concord? This is what can happen when staffing changes are made at the last minute. And moving all your stuff if you have been teaching a while? Thank god for seniority at least. Our librarian moved twice in I think four years? She was a committed librarian and her husband hired a truck - maybe 8x15 - to move all her stuff. Really, sometimes I think even our union doesn't realize what many teachers go through. Esp. at elementary.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the explanation about Strangler/ Stranger, Melissa. It hadn't occurred to me that it was intentional. (I was not there.)

Teach Everyone

Anonymous said...

My child goes to Bryant and traditionally we have not funded teaching positions, although we do fund positions that support teachers, like tutors and recess helpers.. Our principal came to a general PTSA meeting the other night and indicated in no uncertain terms that he thought we should be funding staff positions. He told us that this should not trouble our social conscience because Title 1 schools get more money per kid and we would just be making up the state shortfalls in a different way. -- this sounds ethically fishy to me. What do others think?

Also, he said that our fundraising ask ($275 per kid) was too low and that we should look to other schools for inspiration, namely McDonald and McGilvra, and he said that their PTSA ask was $1300 per kid. So, of course, I'm curious to know what other schools are asking per kid, and also if they are funding teaching positions.

And, what kind of emphasis does your ptsa place on volunteering? I would say that it is very high at Bryant. -- We keep track and I believe we had upwards of 23,000 volunteer hours last year.

Thanks for anything you can share!

Curious Bryant Parent

ps -- Personally, I'm not crazy about entering the PTSA funding arms race, but I am very interested in knowing what's going on districtwide.

Anonymous said...

I think McDonald and John Stanford have higher fundraising asks of their parents because the schools are bilingual and they have to fund extra instructors/language aides (this isn't the right term) - so I don't think McDonald is a good comparison.

Jane

Anonymous said...

Bryant Parent, I don't believe that the Washington State PTA even allows funding staff positions, so it is very odd to me that your principal would make this direct ask. You would probably need a different entity through which to funnel the funds. This is a terrible precedent.

Teach Everyone

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on why you think the state and district fund higher need schools at higher rates, Bryant Parent. If you think it is because we need to level the playing field, and give advantages to kids who have fewer, then pta fundraising for staff is unethical. I think that is not why. I think we have limited resources and so focus a larger portion on the neediest kids and schools with the most urgent needs, but the problem is that the pot is too small. At the lowest end, the funding per student is below the basic education level. So I don't think it is unethical for PTAS to make some of that up. For better or worse PTAS making that up is built into the funding model.

I do think the most solid argument against it is it allows the district to keep funding at this level, and perpetuates the kind of ransom calling we saw last week. But I don't know how many years and kids education I would let slide by poorly trying to prove a point to a district that I don't think would really care.

That McGilvra ask is impressive. Wow. Do they get it? I do hear lately that Bryant is struggling a bit, and given the demographics it seems like the parent population overall could ameliorate that a little if it wanted to. I think the Cascadia ask is similar to yours now, but per student Cascadia does not raise much compared to the NE schools(or McGilvra), I think because most people have kids at other schools, too, and divide their resources.
-sleeper

Anonymous said...

I think the pta can pay for some staff positions(library, music, counselor, etc), but not classroom teachers except in case of October pulls. I don't know the bylaws, but all the PTAS I know of fund some staff.

-sleeper

n said...

PTAs used to fund lots of staff positions. At my school it was the librarian first. As I recall, some of this came out of a concern for equity across the district. That higher SES schools got more due to parent fund-raising. My current principal has really put a damper on allowing the PTA to fund anything. We don't even have tutors anymore. In fact our school is struggling in a way we've never struggled before and it will be interesting to watch test scores over the next few years. The state PTA doesn't think PTA's should fund positions but I don't think they have the power to stop it if a PTA chooses to do it.

Yes, I could be wrong. But that is my take after watching it all unfold and evolve from principal-to-principal over the years.

n said...

BTW, in the recent past and under this relatively new principal, our school PTA has funded teaching positions. But our principal has reversed course and put a stop to it.

Anonymous said...

PTA is running a shaddow school. This is wrong. When will the PTAs just dump the JS Center altogether and become private schools? This is hoe private schools run. Next time they ask you for money tell them you will not pay because you believe in public education.
Private-public

Anonymous said...

Well I would certainly love SOMEONE to dump the John Stanford Center altogether...

N, do you know how? I thought the district disallowed "buying down class sizes" maybe 5 years ago(but I would swear then that the number of October pulls grew-little tinfoil hat, but it sure seems like it.). Unless you just mean librarians/PCP. Then yes, I think they have always done that. Or maybe this is just an example of our banana republic. You can't do it unless you can slip under the radar or are favored, then all bets are off.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

The district has put a stop to PTAs funding classroom teachers (as Montlake used to do) but will "allow" the funding of:

PE teachers, Music Teachers, Performing Arts Teachers, Math or Reading Specialists, Tutors, Nuring, Counselors.

From McGilvra's web-site it the fundraising allows the PTA "to directly fund the hiring of our art teacher, math and reading specialists, a counselor, classroom tutors, performing arts, and teacher and library grants".

Treasurer Mum

n said...

@Sleeper: About four years ago our PTA funded a roving teacher half day. That may have been the last time so perhaps outside the new mandate. More recently PCP specialist and librarian although no longer the librarian.

n said...

I'm wondering how parents feel about losing full-time librarians? Ours was one of the best in the District - a true teaching librarian. We are the worse for it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a roving teacher is different. That could be an "aide" category, and I know one of our schools funds a lot of those. All the elementary schools I have been involved with have paid for librarian time. I don't know what the district funded-a small amount. I think that loss is especially hard in the lower grades.

-sleeper

n said...

That would seem odd because a rover is a .5 cert. It was four years ago so perhaps it fell prior to a new mandate.

Yes, our librarian is sorely missed. She was totally committed and supported common core and was a teaching librarian. She was well-trained in the ELA standards and every library time taught a lesson. Not all librarians are like that so when you have one, you are hard-put to let them go. Our principal was middle school and still doesn't realize the needs of elementary, esp. primary. But we can boast a boatload of rah-rah and cheerleading now.

Anonymous said...

@ Bryant Parent

Just say No! Honestly, once a principal is able to convince a PTA to fund staffing positions beyond those for enrichment, tutors, playground support, etc..., they smell blood, and will keep demanding more!

"He told us that this should not trouble our social conscience because Title 1 schools get more money per kid and we would just be making up the state shortfalls in a different way."

Wow! I can't believe he said that! Title 1 funding comes with some very tight restrictions of its use, and only funds interventions for kids performing below grade level.

And I agree with a previous poster, PTA contribution comparisons to option language-immersion schools like McDonald and JSIS are ridiculous, since parents at those schools opt into the program knowing they will have to contribute substantially to fund the language immersion IAs.

In the end, excessive PTA funding of staff positions just enables SPS to continue to under-fund ALL of our schools.

-reality check

n said...

@reality check: I had a principal at one time who did try to dissuade our PTA from sending fund-drive supplies to a south-end school because she said they get so much money from grants and outside donations from corporations and charitable organizations that they need the donations less than our school did. She came from those schools. What do you say to that?

Anonymous said...

@n

Honestly, I have no idea how schools lucky-enough to get those types of donations fare compared to ones with PTAs that bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars, nor do I know enough about what those donations can be used for (perhaps some are restricted in their usage?).

Bryant parent said that her principal was comparing Title 1 dollars to PTA funding, and I don't believe that is a valid comparison, due to the restrictions on spending of Title 1 funds.

SPS keeps track of ALL grants that factor into school budgets (I saw it once when looking at budget-related stuff), so perhaps you can look there for an answer to your query?


-reality check

Anonymous said...

Reality check I would never write another pta check if I believed stopping would cause the district to properly fund our schools(and I have come to think it is district overspending on central admin/office that drops the lowest funding level below basic education level. The state should fund more, but with our levies I think we would be much more ok with an admin percentage of more like 12. 6-8 percent more in classrooms would do A Lot.).

But I don't see the district doing that for those schools that fall in the middle- too rich for grants/funding, too poor for ptas to kick in substantially. I think this district basically says "meh" to those schools and merrily funds another consultant for another jargony five year plan. So I think stopping ptas would just add to the pile of meh schools. They just have no accountability or reason to change, with or without pta grants.

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

Did SPS ever produce the documents to support their "2 tiers is too expensive" rhetoric?"

No, they didn't. Just "it would cost $8M more."

"Is it more a statement of support that you are looking for?: re:Kids Not Cuts

"That would be nice given how hard the parents worked to support the teachers during the strike. If the SEA said, "cuts hurt kids," it might go a long way.

"He told us that this should not trouble our social conscience because Title 1 schools get more money per kid and we would just be making up the state shortfalls in a different way. -- this sounds ethically fishy to me. What do others think?"

This is Bryant? Someone should tell the Ex Director.

Title One money is restricted, but PTA funds generally aren't. Those kids need MUCH more support than the average kid (and your principal knows it and likely wouldn't want to trade places with the principal at the Title One school).

As for the idea that those schools get more grants - that's somewhat true but a lot of that is buying backpacks, food to go home on the weekend as well as teaching supports. The only people in this category that probably get more than the average Title One schools is South Shore. Because they get their nearly $1M a year AND get Families and Ed levy dollars.

Ethical? Fair? All I know is the district is very happy for parents to be doing all this funding. Sleeper, hard for me to judge if the PTA money for staffing got pulled, what would happen.

But something DOES need to change because the spending IS going up at adm.

Anonymous said...

That principal was at Hazel Wolf before, which is not title 1, but when it first started had something like 40% frl and was great about going after and receiving grants that I am sure Bryant is not eligible for(and probably not hw now; their frl percentage is in the 20's now I think.) I wonder if that was the context for these statements. He wants to make the school vibrant, but it takes money. I haven't found our principals to smell blood about fundraising. The money goes straight to specials or into classrooms. There it seems like principal and parent interests are often aligned. Another way a bad principal can ruin a school, though, I suppose.

Hopeful about the new board. Admin costs going up this way is depressing, enraging, and disrespectful. Let them eat cake indeed.

-sleeper

TechyMom said...

From our experience at McGilvra, I would say that pta funding is completely worth it. The arts program there is wonderful. There's a lot of project-based learning, like the oregon trail reenactment. The math and reading specialists allow for walk to math as part of the ALO, and reading interventions to help everyone keep up with a pretty rigorous LA/SS program. They also win awards for science almost every year. The state should be funding everyone at this level, but until it does, parents making up the difference can drastically improve a school.

Anonymous said...

BOOK TV:
Drilling through the CORE : Why Common Core is Bad for America.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?328464-1/book-discussion-drilling-core

Drilling through the CORE : Why Common Core is Bad for America

Contributors Williamson Evers, James Milgram, Sandra Stotsky, Ze’ev Wurman, and editor Peter Wood talked about their book, Drilling through the Core: Why Common Core is Bad for America.

Lots of information in this Book TV program. It may be especially useful for those interested in the debunking of JSCEE Central Staff thinking. Costs of annual testing are given as well as the real expenditures going into Commom Core.

Details what Common Core "College Ready" really means.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Techy Mom

McGilvra would do well by its less prepared students by redirecting at least some of the art budget to remediation and tutoring support, especially in the lower grades. Too many kids are falling through the cracks, year after year. Some of the 4th and 5th grade teachers do not know how to help students with dyslexia and dysgraphia. What about training for those teachers?

It would be great to see McGilvra concentrate resources on catching the kids who are falling through the cracks. Plus, due to the weird cultura around the art program families feel like they can't say (openly) that it's much, that there ought to be less $$ allocated there and more to addressing class size and remediation.

Parent

Lynn said...

That's the problem when parents are funding basic resources for schools. If they want to provide their children with an art program, you can't force them to fund special education services instead. I'm pretty sure McGilvra is out of space - there's no place to create another classroom so smaller class sizes aren't a possibility.

n said...

Dan, a man after my own heart. Yes, I saw the last part and wish I'd seen more. But I'll catch online when I have time. The Dale Russakoff panel was excellent, too. Most the first part where the panelists laid out their comments. After that it was too Newark. It didn't really generalize.

@Lynn and Techy Mom: at my school we used to have PTA largess but again they wanted more enrichment and less academic help. They did still pitch in but enrichment was their primary hope.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, he did eventually clarify that it's the way it "should be" with the greater funding for FRE. That goes without saying, but the uncomfortable context of his slide was that Bryant teachers are having to do "more with less". Swallow that if you can. I think sleeper is right in that he does want special things for Bryant and the funding for special things ( like Interventions and Extensions) is just not going to come from any place except parents. He kept alluding to our demographics precluding us from receiving anything extra.

Another attendee

Anonymous said...

Lynn

It's definitely not all about special education kids falling through the cracks, though that is an issue especially for the learning disabilities students. It's about overly big classes and teachers not paying attention to students who are not as well prepared, to say nothing of a totally unresponsive principal. Families are right to question the massive spending on a tchotchkes art program when kids and teachers need help on the basics.

Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

PTA's role really should be enrichment and enhancement, NOT basic funding of staff or maintenance or supplies.

Anonymous said...

And Lynn, we don't need to "force" PTAs to spend $$ on special education. We need to force the District and the labor union to ensure that teachers are prepared to help students with common challenges. It is not always only up to the special educators.

Parent again

Anonymous said...

So, tutoring and helping kids who are struggling = enhancement. Yes? It's a moral obligation. The art program funding is frivolous when the reality is that kids are failing for want of tutoring.

Parent again

Lynn said...

Parent,

I'm not expressing an opinion on how McGilvra's PTA spends its money. I'm simply pointing out that they raise it and can choose how to spend it. That's why we pay for our schools with taxes rather than private contributions. If McGilvra's students need tutoring, the district has a moral obligation to provide it.

Anonymous said...

From my experience, I truly believe as long as the PTA and school work together to create common goals, PTA funding is well spent.

However, many PTAs are now compelled to fill budgetary gaps that have left their schools pretty bare-boned. Which gap is the most important can lead to very decisive decisions. Leadership is very important - both school and PTA.

I can say our school has suffered from principal turn-over.

Principal 1 ... Took as much money as the PTA offered but couldn't manage a budget - overspent on tutoring and SPS then "asked" the PTA to cover the overage.

Principal 2 ... Totally against PTA paying for tutoring or any positions related to educational outcomes. PTA encouraged to pay for school day enrichment so all students would benefit.

Principal 3 ... Wants PTA to act as an ATM for the school.

As another poster mentioned, our PTA has also encountered questions about why we sponsor a school supply / book drive for a south end school ... which I find so extremely odd as these drives aren't taking anything away from the school. The PTA gives money to the library and has a family support fund for students in need.

Treasurer Mum

Anonymous said...

A fine coup d'├ętat by Math Education administrators

Congratulations to Heath and Box, they are doing exactly what is required of all really good followers of Common Core. Administrators look above to bigger administrators to get direction. Unfortunately this direction is support for doomed folly because it neglects the needs of students, parents, and teachers.

1. The Common Core State Standards in math are not internationally benchmarked. The Standards are so behind the standards of high achieving countries that by 8th grade students are at least 2 years behind. CCSS-M version of "College Ready" is not ready for a four-year competitive college, but it is one-size fits-all.

2. CCSS as written and implemented will require colleges to dumb-down levels of many classes because the "college ready" students are not to be placed in remedial classes.

3. This is a plan for H1B tech job visas forever. More Asian nurses and doctors as well.

4. In the SPS this still under construction Central Staff jumbled mishmash curricula will continue the production of students disabled by poor math instruction. It will continue the SPS math achievement gap tradition.

5. The math standards are so weak they do not adequately prepare students for chemistry and physics. Now we will have the rigorous "Next Generation Science Standards", where "Rigorous" means simulating, engaging, and supportive but not careful, precise, and correct. STEM has become more about vendors selling tech stuff to schools than adequately preparing students to undertake careers in math, science, engineering, and manufacturing.

I do not find that aircraft manufacturers design and assemble planes as the planes are taxiing down the runway. ... yet that is the Math in Focus plan this year in Seattle.

"n" is right on the mark with:

The reason I prefer to stay with the structure of MIF is that
1)we primary teachers are generally not mathy and sticking with a structure keeps us on target

2)I don't trust district math people

3) I am hopeful that MIF has developed a curriculum they can defend in terms of scope and sequence

4)how helpful is it to give teachers - with all they have on our plates - constant changes at the last minute? That is really irritating.

================
I really question the current governance structure of the SPS, as apparently directors have essentially no control of how adopted materials are used or not used. So much for public input in textbook adoptions.

Director McLaren is right about stability. This is the same type of central staff math leadership as in the last decade. This time with even more Top-Down PD and enforcement.


-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Correction to the above:

NOT ("yet that is the Math in Focus plan this year in Seattle.")

There is no Math in Focus plan.

There is an elementary school math plan, which avoids far too much of Math in Focus.
==============

I do not find that aircraft manufacturers design and assemble planes as the planes are taxiing down the runway. ... yet that is the way the elementary school math plan is designed and put together this year in Seattle.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Then who goes to the Decatur building? All APP has been told is that that is the plan, nothing about OH. Cedar Park is trying to hold too many kids, so I think could either be redrawn to be smaller(and keep OH fuller) or maybe just hold 200 APP kids(which puts the Cascadia building a "mere" 3 or so classrooms over capacity). Either way APP is in a crappy building, and hopefully by accepting that we can keep it reasonably sized.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

What - north APP is going into Decataur? Since when? I thought it was going into Cascadia (hence the name change at Lincoln). Of course, already too big for Cascadia building but I have not heard anyone officially address that issue or how to resolve it.
Where did you hear of that plan. Not 'all' APP has been told of it apparently.

What plan

Melissa Westbrook said...

"So, tutoring and helping kids who are struggling = enhancement."

I didn't say that. What I am saying is those items are the district's job. Their general education job. That we are paying huge amounts for "data dashboards" and "assessment contracts" means we aren't doing the one-on-one intimate work that truly needs to be done from K-12.

No, north APP will likely split with some at Cascadia and the rest at Olympic Hills (which they currently count at 220 students for a 600+ building.). Meanwhile, the disaster that is Cedar Park seems to just get worse. The new Board has to change that one, stat.

What will be in Decatur? According to the wishes and dreams of Cashel Tone and Charles Wright,
"Renovate and create NE Regional Early Learning Center." 2017-2019

They also have on the docket:
2016-2017
- Arbor Heights, Roxhill (taking over Head Start), Schmitz Park, Thornton Creek, South Shore (taking over existing)
- open old Schmitz Park as "SW Regional Early Learning Center"

2017-2018
- Loyal Height, Olympic Hills, Cedar Park, Broadview-Thomson, Wilson-Pacific
- Meany Annex

Future Levy projects
- Bryant, BF Day, John Hay, Stanford In'tl, T. Marshall, West Seattle, Whittier

Anonymous said...

When Sherry Carr came to a pta meeting last year, she told attendees who were concerned about the school being much bigger than the cascadia building that the board was aware of that, too, and in the case that the projections came true, some would be split off to the Decatur building. She was asked about OH, and said OH had been clear they did not want to co-locate.

Of course she also said they will not really begin planning until next spring at the very earliest, and also that a new enrollment emergency (newly overcrowded schools) could easily come up to change then plans. So, not just no promises, more like this is speculation. OH could definitely happen. But I don't think the OH plan is actually more likely than the Decatur building at this point. No one is actually planning anything yet(unfortunately).

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,

Please provide a link to the document you referenced regarding early learning center/preschool placement plans.

Do I have this right? At Cedar Park, at a landmarked site, already maxed out with 8 portables, they are planning to have (in 2017), 356 K-5 students AND early learning classrooms? If I'm reading the new 5-year enrollment projections correctly, the enrollment projections did not factor in special ed services, and Cedar Park enrollment is expected to grow to 374 students by 2019.

Wow! For Olympic Hills to squeeze in this year (at just 300 students), I heard they had to relocate one of their Head Start classrooms.

Does anyone EVER talk between departments at SPS? The communication "silos" keep getting higher and higher!

- North-end Mom

Lynn said...

North-end Mom,

I think that information came from page 55 of this document: http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/15-16agendas/10142015agenda/20151014_Agenda_Exec&WorkSession_Packet.pdf

Anonymous said...

No, she means the Decatur building for early learning. I am less sure they will do that because if they pulled 350 kids out of Cascadia to put them at OH, Cascadia would not be very full, which I think is less politically acceptable than OH not being very full. If they pull 200 out to put at Decatur, then cascadia is still full, and oh and cedar park can right size.

But the early learning center could also happen. A lot of different people have a lot of plans, and we won't know who is "winning" until a year from now. Not the kids...

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

OMG - Regional Early Learning Centers in predominately overcrowded areas. The priorities make the stomach hurt.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Lynn.

It is a fairly-difficult chart to understand (on p 55 of the doc), but under the "conservative" early learning visioning plan, it seems as though they are attributing a gain of 3 Head Start classrooms to the opening of the new Olympic Hills building in 2017? These include one classroom in the new Olympic Hills building, one classroom that will open up at Cedar Park, and one that will open up at Broadview-Thomson. I have no idea if enrollment projections and other considerations (like SpEd classrooms?) factored into their plan...probably not?

@sleeper - What is the potential capacity of the Decatur building? It was my understanding that they will have to get rid of the portables when there are two school buildings on the site?

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Is funding these Early Childhood Development Centers one of the reasons SPS is looking to cut K-12 teachers?

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

They will have to get rid of portables. Maybe 225- and no room for expansion because portables will no longer fit on the site with the new building. I know the building well and would know for sure except that I don't know if the semi permanent portables on the south end that currently house art and childcare are going or not.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

I did some digging (in the Facilities Condition Assessment Report, 2014). Size-wise, Cedar Park and Decatur are similar, which I guess should be expected, since I believe both were originally built to serve as annex schools (grades K-2)?

Cedar Park
Main building: 33,037 sq ft
8 modular classrooms: 5,600 sq ft (assuming 900 sq ft/classroom)
Total: 38,637 sq ft

Decatur
Main building: 32,569 sq ft
Annex building 5,600 sq ft
Total: 38,169 sq ft

The configuration of the Decatur building includes a Library, whereas that of the Cedar Park building does not.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I think a small enough school could use a large classroom as a library. I believe Licton Springs does, and they seem extremely positive about it. Not a 375 kid school, though. I hope they shrink cedar park.

I am not sure if that annex building is staying or not. I imagine the neighborhood is not going to allow for any departures to code, so if it's a foot over zoned lot coverage, they'll sue to kingdom come. It was originally a k-2 school. I was counting classrooms to try to come up with capacity; the annex building does not have usable primary classroom space. And, hrm, that leaves out music/resource room/art if the annex goes. I don't know how many classrooms the cedar park building has.

-sleeper

n said...

Is funding these Early Childhood Development Centers one of the reasons SPS is looking to cut K-12 teachers?

-StepJ


Are they looking to cut K-12 teachers? How do you know this?

Yes, some teachers are being visibly harassed. Currently, I'm not although I'm older and was being for a while. But I sucked it up and it seems I'm being left alone now. Still, other teachers aren't. I think I'm second tier.:) But really, why would the District want to cut k-12 teachers? Esp. given the increasing numbers?

If it is all about older teachers and pay, our union should be organizing a class-action suit for age discrimination, shouldn't they? Does anybody know if this constitute age discrimination?

See, this is must another way our union is worthless. Sorry to say it but it is.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't know about cutting K teachers but they want them to learn the City's preschool method and blend it into the K classes.

Anonymous said...

I was referring to the current #kidsnotcuts. Am glad to hear you are not feeling threatened any longer n.

I still find it gobsmacking that the desire is to devote entire schools to pre-k, especially in areas that are well overcapacity now.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

In 2005-2006 the Decatur building held 295 kids with no use of portables or additional buildings as primary classrooms. - NP

Anonymous said...

Pretty interesting it appears that the big push for pre-K is to close the opportunity (achievement) gaps.

The central staff failed to deliver any data on those Gaps at the most recent Board executive committee work session on "Closing the Opportunity Gap" of September 30, 2015, which seemed more pep rally than "work session". If you need the link go HERE. There is no link to this on the SPS website under executive committee meetings that I can find.

Are Seattle Schools closing the Math "Opportunity Gap"? or just failing to report the data?

Interesting that Central Staff prefers not to investigate any link between past and current instructional practices and Opportunity Gaps. Rather lets all just assume those practices are super for educationally disadvantaged learners and promote pre-K education as the "Opportunity Gap" solution.

-- Dan Dempsey

Christina said...

SBAC scores are on the Source now.

TechyMom said...

McGilvra has tutors, also paid for by the PTA (or did last year anyway, we're not there anymore). Not sure where the idea came from that they don't.

That aside, Arts is just as important as any other subject, and doubly so for students who struggle with expressing themselves in writing. I don't buy the argument that it is somehow frivolous and not basic. That line of reasoning is one of the big problems with public school at the moment, in my opinion. Everyone deserves art as part of their basic education.

The legislature doesn't seem willing to fund anything resembling a reasonable educational program. The Bryant parent asked about experiences at schools with that level of parent funding, and I shared mine, which is that it made a huge difference in the quality of the school. YMMV.

Anonymous said...

This year I'd like to direct a good portion of my usual school annual fund donation to a much more needy SPS school that will use it well. Suggestions? I don't want to have to research every school, so help narrowing the list would be great.

Donor

Melissa Westbrook said...

Donor, two things. I would ask SCPTSA for a list of schools who DON'T have a PTA (or PTO). That would be a good place to start.

Also, I am considering how to organize around schools helping schools.

Anonymous said...

Did others see the new Seattle Times article stating that Washington MS 6th grade Spectrum classes would be blended with Gen Ed students? Would that be wiping out the Spectrum program there?

Momof2

Anonymous said...

Actually it says that it's happening this year: http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/how-a-diverse-yet-divided-school-blended-segregated-classes/

Momof2

Anonymous said...

Melissa, for a school without a PTO/PTA, who would the donation be to? There's no way I'm writing my check to SPS.

Donor

Tresanos said...

Donor: Gatzert, Interagency, Dunlap, and some high poverty schools with small PTAs like Olympic Hills, Northgate, Aki Kurose.

Lynn said...

Rainier Beach students could use Metro cards.

Anonymous said...

Thanks!

Donor