Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Open Thread

From Chief Sealth Int'l High School:

Many people have asked if there was a way to help support the family of Christy Phu, the Sealth student who was killed last week.

Here is the link to the fund if you would like to contribute.


There was a fire early this morning at 15th Ave NE and NE 65th (right by Roosevelt High.)  This is right by my house so I was aware this was going on.  SPS is saying that Roosevelt will start on time.

(Update: the Times is reporting that 15th Ave NE/NE65th will be closed in all directions for several hours.  I know this is an early release day for the holidays so take note of this if you are coming in this direction. Metro routes are being detoured around the fire.  And yes, it was one of the Sisley slums.  Of course.)

Governor Inslee's supplemental budget proposal reflects raising the salary for starting teachers to $40,000 per year.  From The Capitol Record:

That increase is in addition to the 4.8% cost-of-living adjustment already worked into the current budget. Teachers with more experience, along with administrative and classified staff, would also get a raise of at least one-percent. 

To pay for the raises, Gov. Inslee wants to close or alter four “outdated” tax breaks.

“Having a classroom teacher to teach algebra right now is more important than some oil industry tax break that ended up getting done 20 or 30 years ago that doesn’t even apply anymore,” Gov. Inslee said during a press conference.

A good friend of mine, Dan Russell, works for Google and has a blog about using Google effectively called SearchReSearch.  It's a good one to know about, both for you and your student.

A blog about search, search skills, teaching search, learning how to search, learning how to use Google effectively, learning how to do research. It also covers a good deal of sensemaking and information foraging.

From the "are there any adults in charge in this building who are human beings" file, a story out of Tampa, Florida about a middle school where kids who aren't doing well academically get forced to the end of the lunch line.  Sure, that will teach them something (but I'm not sure it's the lesson that the principal really thought it would.)   Apparently, it's a top-ranked school because of "incentives."

I was listening to NPR this morning and they had one of StoryCorps great stories along with news (to me) that there is youth education for this program. StoryCorps is oral storytelling, sometimes one person alone, sometimes one person telling another a personal story.  They are very compelling stories that make you believe in humanity and the ability to rise above difficult circumstances.

The story this morning was between two teenagers, Henry and Akiva, who were talking about their friendship and how it developed. It was mentioned that there is curriculum for teachers called StoryCorpsU. 

StoryCorpsU (SCU) is a year-long, cross-disciplinary (language arts, media, history), youth development program designed for 9th and 10th graders to help students develop:

  • Self and social awareness—social and emotional learning competencies;
  • Academic skills—speaking, listening, and analytical and critical thinking; and
  • Strengthened school relationships.
SCU uses StoryCorps’ tested interviewing techniques—combined with outstanding radio broadcasts and animated shorts—to support high school students in the development of identity and in drawing connections between their unique strengths and the college application process.

What's on your mind?

That card is a ticket to the head of the lunch line. The kids who don’t get a card go to the back of the line.
A parent told a Tampa TV station the “no-card kids either have a ‘C’ or a conduct issue. They eat last.”
The “no-card kids,” the parent said, sometimes get only 10 minutes to eat after waiting at the end of the line.
- See more at: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/news/education/school-sends-achievers-front-lunch-line-others-eat/npjq3/#sthash.D7euvCea.dpuf
That card is a ticket to the head of the lunch line. The kids who don’t get a card go to the back of the line.
A parent told a Tampa TV station the “no-card kids either have a ‘C’ or a conduct issue. They eat last.”
The “no-card kids,” the parent said, sometimes get only 10 minutes to eat after waiting at the end of the line.
- See more at: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/news/education/school-sends-achievers-front-lunch-line-others-eat/npjq3/#sthash.D7euvCea.dpuf
That card is a ticket to the head of the lunch line. The kids who don’t get a card go to the back of the line.
A parent told a Tampa TV station the “no-card kids either have a ‘C’ or a conduct issue. They eat last.”
The “no-card kids,” the parent said, sometimes get only 10 minutes to eat after waiting at the end of the line.
- See more at: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/news/education/school-sends-achievers-front-lunch-line-others-eat/npjq3/#sthash.D7euvCea.dpuf
That card is a ticket to the head of the lunch line. The kids who don’t get a card go to the back of the line.
A parent told a Tampa TV station the “no-card kids either have a ‘C’ or a conduct issue. They eat last.”
The “no-card kids,” the parent said, sometimes get only 10 minutes to eat after waiting at the end of the line.
- See more at: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/news/education/school-sends-achievers-front-lunch-line-others-eat/npjq3/#sthash.D7euvCea.dpuf

27 comments:

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Patrick, I just updated the post. It was. They are the gift that keeps on giving to this neighborhood.

Patrick said...

The old RR Hardware building. Perhaps this will motivate the city to do more about the rest of their derelict properties.

Anonymous said...

Sisley is the poster child for all that is wrong with the "Seattle Process".

-flibbertigibbet

Sonetka said...

I usually just lurk here, but wanted to ask if you'd seen this: http://crosscut.com/2015/12/inclusive-kindergarten-faces-seattle-schools-axe/

FWIW, SPS doesn't pay for the typical students at the EEU, only the ones with IEPs, so I'm not sure what their concerns are about special ed funds being misallocated (if that is indeed their concern -- the reasons seem to change depending on the day) unless they mean that special ed teachers' time is sometimes taken up attending to typically developing students, which is going to be hard to avoid in an inclusive classroom. The whole thing really stinks.

-- Sonetka

Anonymous said...

"Duecy says that this creates a problem of equity for a couple of reasons. First, because of the blended nature of the program, typically developing students are benefiting from special education funds."

So I am hoping that the School Board will get Nyland to get this statement recalled. This makes JSCEE look ridiculous. It is an embarassment, as it suggests that SPS thinks inclusion cannot occur b/c ... typical kids benefit from the presence of special ed professionals .... who can only be there to support the legal right of students with disabilities to education in the least restrictive environment .... with the federal dollars to make that happen.

In fact I hope that somebody sends this statement to OSPI and to the Feds, as it really makes it clear how crippled this District is in its understanding of special education. Maybe we can rethink that decision to move SPS out of Level 4 on SPED. Does the spokesperson for SPS really not know what the law says about using federal dollars to bring about the least restrictive environment which could include a general education classroom? It's embarassing. Also the statement that this program has too many bells and whistles - what? Inclusive good practices constitute bells and whistles? Does he think this about the science kids that SPS sends out to schools? Do they have too many bells and whistles? What about reading materials? Math? Does he think that equipment in PE constitutes too many bells and whistles? Really, get somebody to recall these statements. Our tax-paying public deserves better than this.

Speaker

Anonymous said...

Sonetka, I agree. Isn't this just a temporary accounting issue that can be fixed? The teachers are dual-certified (or so I read in an email message) and the special ed dollars cover only a portion of operating the program. Just show that the EEU fundraising and grant dollars cover the non IEP students' costs. Why isn't that enough to fix the problem?

Does Seattle seem to be moving backward with respect to inclusion (or even just mainstreaming) of students with disabilities? What is the plan moving forward - is moving more students with disabilities to general education environments even a district goal? Is ACCESS working well in the schools where it is currently located? I can't even really figure out what it is other than a staff ratio.

-Former EEUParent

Anonymous said...

Former EEUParent, when you have a spokesperson for the District stating that inclusion comes with too many bells and whistles I think you have the answer to your question: "Does Seattle seem to be moving backward with respect to inclusion (or even just mainstreaming) of students with disabilities?"

Another reader

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you, Speaker and Another Reader. As a parent of children with disabilities, I found the "bells and whistles" statement to be deeply offensive. (But I'm also still mad that I can't expect that Cadillac.)

Speaker wrote: "It is an embarrassment, as it suggests that SPS thinks inclusion cannot occur b/c ... typical kids benefit from the presence of special ed professionals .... who can only be there to support the legal right of students with disabilities to education in the least restrictive environment .... with the federal dollars to make that happen."

Yes! More than embarrassing...it is frightening. It makes it look like inclusion is not even a goal, because the district thinks it would not only be too expensive, but also somehow illegal???

-Former EEUParent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Sonetka, I commented at the story as well. The story makes SPS sound inept or shady.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Bryant used to have a blended K class? What happened to it?

Bryant mom

Sonetka said...

Thanks for commenting on the article, Melissa -- it seemed like the sort of thing you would notice, but I wanted to bring it to the attention of all the commenters here as well. Full disclosure -- I have two children who have been to the EEU kindergarten, one typical and one ASD (they went in different years) and both had an amazing educational experience (my son is ten now and still talks fondly about his old teachers and how they taught him to read and, just as importantly in some ways, helped him figure out ways to have conversations that lasted more than one turn!)

Yes, the "bells and whistles" comment was amazingly tin-eared and I fear it shows too accurately what these people think of special ed -- a obligation that they'll try and punt after giving it the absolute minimum of time, attention and funding. I also can't help wondering what this might mean for the push-in programs at other schools; those inevitably involve special-ed teachers working with typical children as well because they're taking place in the general ed classroom. Are those going to be axed as well? None of that leads to a less restrictive environment or inclusion of any serious kind. And I really suspect the timing -- parents have to start selecting kindergartens in January. Especially with the winter break coming up, there's very little time to get that decision reversed before parents will be forced to start looking elsewhere. I'm sure that Duecy et al were aware of this.

-- Sonetka

Anonymous said...


On Sexual Assault from the family who brought Title IX to the Seattle Public School District

Huffington Post "Why Lady Gaga Should Be Talking to a Rape Victim's Mother About K12 Sexual Assault" http://huff.to/1NY0

Miri

Anonymous said...

Bryant Mom, Lori posted this on an earlier open thread about the blended K at Bryant: "There was a Blended K program at Bryant for many years. I had a student in it the very last year before it ended, which was the 2008-2009 school year. It could have up to 17 children, and IIRC, it was 7 with IEPs and 10 typically developing. There was a special ed teacher and full time paraprofessional in the room. My typically developing child had a great year in that class and the teacher was outstanding. I never knew or tried to guess which students had IEPs nor did I really ask around as I never felt like it was my business. It was just my kid's class.

I don't know the official reason why it ended, but I had heard talk among parents on the playground indicating that some were happy it was ending because all the other classes were overcapacity. The other K's that year had 28-30 kids each, and every nook and cranny was being converted to classroom space to accomodate growth and conversion to the new assignment plan (ie, no longer able to cap enrollment). So having a K with only 17 kids in it was not popular among some families, and it was no longer viable given the capacity situation in the north.

I have always felt sad about it ending because I thought it was wonderful model. That said, I do not know how the families of children with IEPs felt. I'd be curious if they feel the same and had good experiences there and in other blended classrooms."

Former EEUParent

Josh Hayes said...

As I recall, when my kids were first at AS1 back, oh, about ten years ago, there were at least two blended classrooms. At the time, AS1 carried a startlingly high fraction of kids with IEPs compared to district average, especially in the middle school grades, and each teacher had a "core" classroom where the bulk of the classwork took place. Those taught by Spec Ed teachers had a lot of IEP kids in the class, but also a lot of non-IEP kids. This pretty much eliminated the stigma, and all the kids seemed completely unfazed by the idea of everyone being in the same classroom. I thought it was a great experience, and a great model.

Sadly, the district did not agree: special ed teachers were supposed to solely teach special ed kids, and that was that. Understandable, of course, and there are good reasons for that (otherwise, special ed resources are siphoned off for other purposes, for instance), but in THIS case it seemed to work for everyone concerned.

Disclaimer: I was only a parent at AS1 and may be misrepresenting how things worked; but that's how it SEEMED to be working.

-JAH

Anonymous said...


Blended Kindergartens are not in compliance with Special Education law because many of the students with IEPs are not in their LRE. I have no idea if that is why the EEU program is being de-funded, but that would be my guess. A model and university-driven program, EEU has been providing high level services. The problem is that such programs are not usually replicable in the current state of public schools, where the students would wind up being warehoused rather than educated in many, but not all, cases.

That is why blended Kindergartens were disbanded several years ago--lack of compliance with IDEA.

--about time

Melissa Westbrook said...

About time, that all may be true. But if so, why can't the district say it as well as you? Why do they struggle for reasons in a clunky manner?

Anonymous said...

About time is completely uninformed. LRE is determined by the IEP process and if placement is in a GenEd classroom that is the least restrictive environment. That is, unless SPS herds and overloads a classroom with a disproportionate number of students with IEPs. This was not the case with Blended programs, which also had a 2nd teacher. These were co-taught classrooms. Everybody benefited from that. Plus an IA. You must a be troll for Wyeth Jesse and Michaela Clancy and Charles Wright, shilling their BS that the EEU provides "high levels" of services. It's all up to the IEP team and kids who have intensive needs need what they need whether they're at the EEU or in a regular public school. And by the way, it's up to the IEP team, not up to an administrator downtown who is seeking to cut costs.

stop the trolls

Anonymous said...

The model of inclusive learning in the EEU kindergarten is the least restrictive learning environment (LRE) for many more students then it can accommodate. IMHO, therein lies the problem for the District. Why is it that only "some" students, partly through a lottery can attend. The other issue is that it is only a one year program so it means transition from preschool, then a year later another transition to another program/school. For some students, the benefits outweigh the costs of that.

On the first point, if SPS is unable/unwilling to replicate that environment in its schools, it is unfair to those excluded, and possible illegal. Two options: figure out (again?) how to create those opportunities in SPS elementary schools/regions or discontinue the one program model at the EEU. Then all students have Equitable opportunities. Well, equitable, possibly, but often lower quality opportunities. Lower but equal. Or something like that.

Curious

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stop the trolls, no name-calling, please. You can disagree without being disagreeable.

Anonymous said...

Curious, the IDEA requires those students to be educated in what the IEP team determines to be the LRE. If SPS doesn't have that level of service it has to create it. It doesn't get out of its obligations by just saying it will no longer have that level of service for anyone.

Parent

Anonymous said...

Curious, thanks for the clarification. It makes sense that way more students than can get in the program would have that service as the LRE. It is very sad that the EEU will no longer be a provider for the children who need it. If so many qualify, then why hasn't SPS worked with UW to at least try and replicate the serice in Seattle? UW continues to be a highly underused resource for SPS.

The decision to stop blended kindergartens in SPS was about LRE. Even though there were some very effective programs with this model, special education law is clear that these types of programs are illegal if they are not the LRE for the students in the program (which was the case for many students). SPS was in favor of blended Ks and they were in place for years. My understanding is that the feds/OSPI called them on the carpet and told them to change. The fact that SPS was doing something right does not override the general tendency of public schools to warehouse and highly impact classrooms with students who have IEPS, which is why the laws had to be put in place.

Melissa, the district is rarely good or upfront about communication unless it benefits them or they are putting out a fire.

--about time

Anonymous said...

clarification from earlier:

By "high level" I meant "high quality" not continuum of service level.

--about time

Anonymous said...

About time wrote: "My understanding is that the feds/OSPI called them on the carpet and told them to change." I would love to see the evidence of that. There are co-taught classrooms all over this country.

"The fact that SPS was doing something right does not override the general tendency of public schools to warehouse and highly impact classrooms with students who have IEPS, which is why the laws had to be put in place." Well, yes, of course we don't want warehousing. Is SPS going to stop warehousing special education students now? The decision to kill EEU funding shows that NOW they care about the law and the needs of special education students? The students other than S1 students who were planning to be in the EEU K in a fully inclusive classroom are now going to be in general education K with the proper supplementary aids and services? Are they all going to ACCESS?

I don't know the real reason for the district's decision to stop funding the EEU program because, as usual, the district lacks transparency. But let's stop pretending this helps any kids or is being done because fully inclusive classrooms, like the K classrooms at the EEU, somehow violate the IDEA. (Self-contained and segregated classrooms where kids have no or little access to the general education curriculum are fine under the law, but not classrooms where students on IEPs have full access all day to the general education curriculum and are not segregated? That makes no sense.)

Parent

Anonymous said...

Parent: exactly my sentiments.

The district never seems to take the attitude of "how CAN we make this work," but instead, why it doesn't work. And it's not just the lack of transparency, but the embarrassing way that they "communicate" (an offhand comment or an email that one admin sends that the other is unaware of, etc) with anyone, let alone stakeholders.

What happens next?

curious.

Anonymous said...

This is a terrible decision for Special Education students. Please go sign the petition, and write to Nyland and the Board. They should be looking to copying this program, not cutting funding for it! Very penny wise and pound foolish. Targetting a vulnerable population at Christmas time; for shame, SPS.

CCA

Anonymous said...

About Time, you drank the koolaide. The district has scores of programs which are not the LRE for any student. They stifling self contained programs which operate at the level of preschools at best, warehousing students all day, producing 0 results. At worst, these are abusive and stigmatizing. So, EEU provides much better LRE than that.

As to ACCESS, these are also not in neighborhood schools. And, supposedly, there was going to be assignment pathway for all special education students. Where is it? Without a special education assignment pathway, like every other student gets, EEU is equally valid as a school assignment.

Finally, the old canard, special ed funds going to general ed. No problem at BHS when general ed teachers are funded with special ed funds ALL THE TIME. No problem that elementary students are kept out of general ed, and their BEA goes to reduce class size for other students. No problem there.

The real reason to sack the EEU, is because it provides quality. Quality is something the district doesn't ever want showing up in sped.

Speddie