Sunday, October 25, 2015

Get that Ballot In!

From Sol's Civic Minute on elections:

First of all, mail in your ballot by next Tuesday, November 3rd! Here are some helpful links:
On Cliff Mass' school board picks I'll just note that if math is the only issue for you, listen to him. It's my belief that single issue candidates are not the best picks.

You know my picks for the Board: Pinkham, Geary, Burke and Harris.

For City Council - Jon Grant and Bill Bradburd, at large.  Lisa  Herbold, District 1; District 2 (not sure); Kshama Sawant, District 3; Michael Maddux, District 4; (District 5 is still a mystery to me); District 6, two good choices but I pick Catherine Weatbrook; District 7, don't like Sally Bagshaw, don't know Deborah Zech Artis.

Here are some picks for ballot measures:
Prop 1 - No.   I know - we have transportation issues.  But everything did not get done with the last measure on this topic AND this measure clearly states:

“The spending breakdown is illustrative only and shall not be mandatory.”

So the spending on projects listed is not mandatory nor is there any ranking of projects?  And the City wants a check for $930M?  No from me. 

I'm voting Yes to King County's Smart Starts for Kids (reluctantly).  I believe this is a measure with the right intent.  Am I sure that it does compete or overlap with services already out there?  No, but I do like what is covered in the plan and if some services in Seattle now expand to King County, that's a good thing.

Yes to I-122 - Yes to Honest Elections.  I vote yes if only because of what we see from Seattle School Board races - a lack of enough good candidates.  This could help.  

Sol's Civic Minute also had this link to a short documentary on housing costs in the Bay Area.  (I had already seen it.)  It is stunning and may be a harbinger of what is coming here even as we have our own housing costs problems.  (Sol is Sol Villarreal who used to be an aide to Mayor Mike McGinn.)

Skip the scary movies this week and watch this terrifying 25-minute documentary about the waking nightmare that is San Francisco's housing market. 

I include this video because of my belief that the constant barrage of levies is really making opening your property tax bill an adventure in sticker shock.  We love our libraries, parks, schools, heck, the whole city, but that doesn't mean we can pay for everything all at once.

I have become highly attuned to thinking about my low-income neighbors or seniors on a fixed income.  It is very easy to say "it's only $75 a year more" or say that it's some number of pennies on a $450K house.  But it could be a life-changing amount for some families. We may be voting many neighbors out of their houses even as we attempt to better our city and the lives of its residents.

Between the Move Seattle levy and the Smart Starts for Kids levy, that's over $1B.  And come Feb. 2016, the district will have its hand out for over $1B.

It's hard to know what to do.  But I know I can't vote for all of it so I'm trying to make the best choices I can.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I take issue with Cliff's endorsement of Marty McLaren if Math is the big important issue.

Marty is on the Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee.

In my opinion she caved on the need to continue the "Math in Focus" scope and sequence.

Now we have the "Elementary math scope and sequence".

Objective: Implement an early learning mathematics plan aligned to CCSS

Surprise Surprise - The Scope and Sequence from Seattle's one year old adopted text has been secretly trashed

I do not know Cliff's thinking in recommending Marty McLaren. I am looking for an agent of change away from opaque decisions with no public input.

-- Dan Dempsey

ain't nimbytocare said...

Here's the endorsements from Sesttle Displacement Coalition (works on affordable housing issues):
http://queenannenews.com/Content/Opinion/Opinion/Article/OUTSIDE-CITY-HALL-Key-city-decisions-on-the-line-with-November-election-/9/540/37963
Unlike much of what you may be reading these days, re glorification of "infill" development, redeveloping old structures and demolishing old neighborhoods is not helping housing affordability but it's actually reducing affordable housing stock and diversity in housing types like shared housing and apartments in houses versus apartment buildings. And the issue of tearing down old apartment buildings to build new that the previous tenants can't afford.

Anonymous said...

About the Municipal League Ratings

The ratings are not endorsements. They assess each candidate’s potential to be effective in office and ability to serve the community.

Past ratings have been stunningly inaccurate for SPS School Board when used as an absolute guide.. Sundquist and Maier for example.

The muni-league knows little about Education Issues nor claims to. It makes judgements on "potential" leadership qualities. The ratings do NOT consider a candidate's stand on issues.

Directors who can effectively lead the district in the wrong direction are no longer needed. ..

Download Muni-League voters guide from HERE

Each candidate is rated as Outstanding, Very Good, Good, Adequate, Not Good, or Not Qualified by a Volunteer Committee.

For me the issues are of most importance but the muni-league does not consider them.

Here are the "no issues considered" Municipal League ratings:

Christopherson - NOT Qualified
Pinkham - NO active campaign
(NO active campaign isn't even on the Muni list -- they were unable to rate Pinkham) ..... If I were voting, I'd go with NOT Rated over NOT Qualified.

Gramer - Good
Burke - Very Good

Geary - Good
McGuire - Outstanding

Harris - Very Good
McLaren - Very Good


When considering the issues you need to realize that the muni-league does not consider the issues.

-- Dan Dempsey

Another Name said...

Thanks for bringing-up Muni League ratings, Dan.

The Muni League is a right leaning organization that tends to provide high ratings to business backed candidates. Dan is 1000% correct in that the Muni League provided Sundquist and Maier with very high ratings. Keep in mind, Maier and Sundquist were rubber stampers that allowed public assets to be put at risk. Each month, the district lost enormous amounts of dollars through an incompetent Human Resource Department. It took a scandal to bring a horrible audit to public light.

Geary has experience as an attorney with experience in educational law, and served as an Administrative Law Judge for OSPI. Geary is one of the few individuals in the state with the knowledge in the state for this position. Heck, Geary was OSPI. Yet, Geary gets the same mark as Obara. Weird.

Politics is about relationships and I"m not surprised that Muni League provided McGuire with a higher rating than Geary, as well. Geary is an unknown amongst Seattle's political insiders and she has done quite well on merit.

Another Name said...

Clarification: Geary is one of the few individuals with the knowledge, background and skill to serve as a judge for OSPI.

Anonymous said...

Worth repeating in the light of what another name wrote:

When considering the issues you need to realize that the muni-league does not consider the issues.

Ratings are based on leadership potential and any candidate's position on issues of importance has no bearing on the rating.

-- Dan Dempsey

Cliff Mass said...

Anonymous or Dan Dempsey:
You of ALL people should know of Marty McClaren's long-term dedication to improving math in Seattle Public Schools. We were both working with Marty on this for years and many dozens of meetings. She did not "cave" on Scope and Sequence...this was done behind her back and she is asking the hard questions of staff right now---trying to get the situation addressed.

I am bewildered that you are not supporting somewhat that was in the trenches with us for a very long time to improve math education in our district and our state.

Math education will only improved by the long-term efforts of knowledgeable individuals....surely, the only candidate the fullfill this requirement is Marty....cliff mass

Joseph Rockne said...

Cliff,

This past week, at the request of the SEA, the Martin Luther King Labor Council revoked their endorsement of Marty McLaren. I, along with many other previous supporters, no longer support or endorse her.

There is much more than math in our schools. While you and others might be happy with decisions and work she has done in that area, that should not excuse her utter failure in many others. Ms. McLaren is ignoring the plight of those students to be served by Middle College. She supported the superintendent's request for an authoization to sue the teachers. She failed to take any action this spring when director Peters tried repeatedly to pass a statement against the excessive testing in our schools. She has called Superintendent Nyland the best one we've had in twenty years. Really?

Forget the marathon, what else has she done?

Joseph Rockne said...

Forget the math. Autocorrect.

Well, marathons too. Forget those too.

Greenwoody said...

Marty has made it very, very clear that she will not ever challenge the Superintendent or the staff, and is no longer willing to advocate for what parents want. She views her job as being a mouthpiece for them and defending decisions they already made. I give her credit for doing the right thing on the math textbooks last year. But she isn't the right person to ensure that decision and others like it are properly and fully implemented.

Anonymous said...

Cliff Mass wrote:

She did not "cave" on Scope and Sequence...this was done behind her back and she is asking the hard questions of staff right now---trying to get the situation addressed.

It was done behind the back of the entire public and still is hidden from view. The only place to find the new scope and sequence is on my blog. (as far as I know)
If you read the new scope, MiF has been dismantled.

====
It is a great disservice to destroy a cohesive text to accommodate tests, especially when the main fault is that the students will learn too much too early. The new Scope and Sequence is a huge jumbled mess entirely lacking in coherence when paired with MIF, not just introducing 1 or 2 topics to cover the SBAC.

The CCSS are not internationally competitive. CCSS moves slowly.

The jumbled "scope" sequence is a disservice to the students, who otherwise would have a coherent text that covers the material necessary. If SBAC is to be accommodated, it can be done by adding a few lessons, and not destroying coherency. The idea that a text is a string of disconnected facts that can be taken apart and effectively put together in another way, and that rubrics of coverage are an effective way to evaluate texts, seem unique to educators, especially those in the central office. In the case of MIF, this is a heavily sequenced and coherent text that can only be degraded by the indelicate rearranging of central staff led efforts.

===

I guess this behind her back action was done by the staff of the best superintendent in 20 years. Transparency where art thou? Perhaps neither instructional coherence through the use of the adopted text nor public "Engagement" is desired by central staff.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dan. What the students are learning every day is critically important. Math is an area where SPS failed students for years. FINALLY they got a good elementary math curriculum that lasted all of one year.

Marty may be asking questions, but the Board needed to stop this damaging direction in math. A couple of staff people should not have this much power.

S parent

Anonymous said...

Why are more parents not up in arms about what has happened with math? We went through a lengthy community engagement process and the board voted. Now staff are circumventing that. Where is the community engagement? Why is the new scope and sequence not being publicized and available for parents to review and comment on (like the math adoption textbooks)? How many parents even know about this. What a waste of everyones time and money the math adoption process was - why didn't the math department just cobble together their own curriculum right from the start since they think they can do it better than major publishers with actual history in creating math curriculum. They are supposed to be teaching our kids math that will stand them in good stead for future (and most parents thought we now had a solid curriculum to do this)- not to pass some dubious test that will probably be canned in a few years. So shortsighted. So typical SPS - if ever anything is good they go F*** with it. How can we get the word out about this?

MIF

dan dempsey said...

The CCSS are not internationally competitive. CCSS moves slowly.

Tom Loveless in his article Implementing Common Core: The problem of instructional time shows the slow moving deficiency of CCSS-M.

The idea that a text is a string of disconnected facts that can be taken apart and effectively put together in another way, is a central tenant of the action taken by Heath and Box. The fact that the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee apparently found this destruction of coherence acceptable reveals a failure of "Directors to Direct" the district after the adoption of MiF fifteen months previously.

Greenwoody's comment above is a brilliant analysis of the situation:

Marty has made it very, very clear that she will not ever challenge the Superintendent or the staff, and is no longer willing to advocate for what parents want. She views her job as being a mouthpiece for them and defending decisions they already made. I give her credit for doing the right thing on the math textbooks last year. But she isn't the right person to ensure that decision and others like it are properly and fully implemented.

It is inexplicable that the SPS failed to make this Unit based MiF adverse "Scope" document available to the public. The document reveals that many of the components of various units are still under construction. Transparency score = ZERO , Public Engagement score = ZERO, Feedback = Unwanted.

Should the CCSS-M be the k-12 "Scope and Sequence" for math in the Seattle Public Schools? I say no, there is nothing to indicate such a requirement in the "following" of the CCSS. In fact CCSS-M author McCallum does not advocate such action. CCSS-M author Jason Zimba admitted that the CCSS version of College Ready is not STEM career program ready or selective competitive College Ready.

This MiF "scope" situation is another example of why central office staff needs to be reduced in size and de-emphasized in importance.

Rick Burke has it correct: More bottom-up and way less top-down. Directors need to direct. Let's get back to learning.

=====================
Zimba wrote: "Florida and Indiana recently revised their standards; eventually, every state will. The good news about this trend is that it demonstrates states’ authority over their own school systems. State revisions also provide an opportunity to address principled criticisms of the Common Core." ....

"Above all, they should preserve absolutely the Common Core’s intense focus on arithmetic in grades K–5. Topics from outside arithmetic, such as statistics and congruence, must wait until middle school, as in high-performing countries."...

"Historically, textbook review processes have avoided serious consideration of the mathematics in the books being reviewed, privileging bureaucratic considerations over substantive ones."


Finally the SPS made a selection away from Everyday Math using serious consideration of the mathematics in the MiF books and the privileged bureaucrats rejected it.

Anonymous said...

On page 8 of The Development and Design of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

CCSS-M author Jason Zimba writes:

"My main concern remains the basic need to get topics into the grades where they belong. We must be especially vigilant about grades K–5 so that our youngest students can spend the vast majority of their time learning arithmetic and preparing adequately for algebra. The anecdotal evidence I have seen suggests that too many classrooms are still pursuing a mile-wide, inch-deep curriculum and consequently falling behind year by year."

In looking at:
(1) Zimba's comments,
(2) MiF, and
(3) the "Scope" of Heath and Box,
I find zero justification for the destruction of MiF coherence.

Let's get back to Learning through the use of appropriate well developed coherent materials.

Hopefully it will not be too late for newly elected directors to require that the MiF adoption be implemented. Then the teachers can be supported in the use of MiF materials through district actions that focus on the delivery of a coherent mathematics program as well as improving teacher knowledge of mathematics.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

How do I know that a new director will do a better job of holding staff accountable than the current boards?

In the case of dismantling MiF, who can explain why staff has such an intense investment in dismantling what the board fought for? I don't want to beat up on Marty McLaren, but why can't she defend what she worked to implement? If she can't defend it, than familiarity means nothing. Sorry, Mr. Maas, you perhaps know McLaren better than I do, but I have a student who suffered from Everyday Math. Spiral instruction. Remember that?

I regret I didn't remove her from school and take a cue from Nikki Hayes, get a used copy of Saxon Math, and give her the gift of numeracy when she was a 2nd grader. She was doing algebra with her dad when she was 5. She got it, but by age 9 she felt like a fool thanks to "spiral instruction." She's worked hard to catch-up, and she has, but the waste! Thanks to the confusion of a curriculum that never allowed her to master a task before moving on to the next. But it allegedly improved test scores.

What staff are doing now to the MiF implementation is criminal. Mr. Maas, you've spoken about the students you've encountered at the university level who are forced into remedial classes after gaining entry into the UW. You know what's happened and will continue to happen. How can you ask us to give someone - in the know - the benefit of the doubt? With all due respect, that just doesn't fly any more. If Marty McLaren can't defend what is so clearly being taken from students, then she needs to concede her place to someone who will. Let someone continue what she started and take credit for the start. The thing is, we're not finished, and pushing that rock up a hill, yet again, just gets harder.

Westside


Anonymous said...

Correction: "Let someone continue what she (McLaren) started and let her take credit for the start."

Westside

Tom said...

My Vote was for Marty McLaren

Linh-Co said...

Marty's continuous lack of oversight of central staff has lost my vote.

GarfieldMom said...

I've been leaning toward Jill Geary for some time, but felt that there were some strong arguments for Lauren McGuire, especially from some of the trusted voices on this site. It was feeling like one of those races where either candidate would probably be just fine.

But I'm now solidly anti-McGuire. I'm sure she's very good at a lot of things that would benefit SPS in certain ways. I'm not sure we need more of that, though.

Searching for something else, and ran across this older article from Brian Rosenthal As Parents Raise Cash, Schools Confront Big Gap It discusses the issue of some PTSAs raising lots of cash and using it to fund teaching positions, among other things, and the contrast with other schools that may not even have a PTSA or only manage to raise a few thousand dollars. The article is from almost four years ago. Obviously, we are still talking about this as a problem, and we haven't really changed anything.

From the end of the article (my bolding):
Bellevue’s recent decision to enforce its policy came after a heated debate, said Molly Schladetzky, co-president of the Bellevue Council PTA and a member of a community committee that recommended moving toward parents giving to programs that benefit all district students.

A similar shift is unlikely in Seattle, said School Board President Michael DeBell and Lauren McGuire, president of the Seattle Council of Parent, Teacher and Student Associations. They each cited the issue’s political sensitivity and a reluctance to do anything that would limit donations in the current budget climate.

Still, some are hoping to start the conversation.

Among them is School Board member Betty Patu.

“It’s a tough issue,” said Patu, who represents the economically disadvantaged Southeast. “For me the bottom line is, what message are you giving to your kids? Is that the message we want to send — that this school gets everything it wants because it can, but you can’t?”


I don't want someone who cites political sensitivity and worries about limiting donations to the already mega-funded PTSAs. That's not someone who is going to challenge the existing power structures and culture.

PDC Rules said...

I've been told that a NE group called Voice of Northeast Seattle Schools is campaigning for McLaren and McGuire via facebook expenditures. If this is true, these expenditures need to show-up on the PDC.

PDC Rules said...

From the end of the article (my bolding):
"Bellevue’s recent decision to enforce its policy came after a heated debate, said Molly Schladetzky, co-president of the Bellevue Council PTA and a member of a community committee that recommended moving toward parents giving to programs that benefit all district students.

A similar shift is unlikely in Seattle, said School Board President Michael DeBell and Lauren McGuire, president of the Seattle Council of Parent, Teacher and Student Associations. They each cited the issue’s political sensitivity and a reluctance to do anything that would limit donations in the current budget climate."

Thanks for calling this to my attention. I am voting for Geary. McGuire is backed by Democrats for Education Reform and I wouldn't vote for anyone backed by this corporate backed group.

I did notice that the Alliance For Education had their gala. Did they tell guests that SPS just dumped them? Must have been very cold in that room..

Anonymous said...

Thank you, GarfieldMom. This helps me decide.

Westwide

Anonymous said...

Idle curiousity, but what would a "facebook expenditure" be? I see the group, but other than raising funds for JAMS, I don't see anything that appears to be fundraising etc.

VNESS has clearly endorsed her, but that's not a PDC reportable thing, is it?

reader47

SPS Mom said...

I would guess that if VNESS was sponsoring McGuire on Facebook (which means they are paying money to promote a post), that would count as a campaign contribution, right?

PDC Rules said...

Facebook sells Ad Campaigns. VNESS is promoting McLaren, McGuire, Burke and Wong.

It appears VNESS has purchased campaign ads. VNESS's recommendations are continuously scrolled through newsfeed; an indication that ads were purchased.

This expenditure should show-up on the PDC and it hasn't.