Friday, July 31, 2015

Two Seattle Public Education Items of Note

First, after review by hired reviewers, the Washington State Charter Commission staff are recommending approval of two new charter schools in our state.  These are the recommendations that the Commission members themselves will be considering at their next meeting on August 13th.

The schools the applicants have put forth:

Operator: Innovation Schools
School Name: Willow Public School
Grades Served: 6-8
School Location: Walla Walla

Operator: Summit Public Schools Washington
School Name: Summit Public School: Seattle #2 
Grades Served: 6-12
School Location: South Seattle

Both schools received "Meets" standard in four categories (out of four measures with "Exceeds" being the best, followed by "Meets," "Partially Meets," and "Does Not Meet.")

I note that Summit has this named at their website at "Summit Public School:Sierra" and both appear on the application but under the Proposal Overview, it's "Summit Public School: Seattle #2."

Second, the SEA has an update on their bargaining activities(partial):

Seattle Public Schools will receive at least an additional, and substantial, $37 million in discretionary state and levy funds this coming school year, according to SPS budget director Linda Sebring. About $20 million of that is from the state, along with another $17 million from the levy (levy funding is tied to state funding; the more state funding, the more levy funding, too).

Friday Open Thread

Forgot one interesting piece of news; the City has extended the deadline for families to apply for their Preschool Program from July 31st to August 10th.  What? Families aren't breaking down the doors for this "high-quality" preschool?  I note that ALL the classrooms for the City program are indeed in Seattle Schools.

The College Board got quite the battle over AP History and apparently more conservative interests won.  From Huffington Post:

McCleary: What Happens Next?

Want to understand where we are on McCleary?  Here's a good wrap-up from the Coalition to Protect our Public Schools. 

Will the Supreme Court order the Legislature back into session?  I doubt it given there were so many extra sessions already.  I think the Supreme Court has seen what "action" looks like from the Legislature.

No, I think the Court will probably act on one of the McCleary-requested actions (see below).   That will get the Legislature's attention.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Guest Post on Restorative Justice

I can't be everywhere and am delighted a reader reached out to me to ask to write about Oakland Unified School District's Restorative Justice Program and the forum here on that subject on July 17th.

Why Focus on Special Ed? Read On

In Texas (from Disability Scoop):

In what’s believed to be a first, a new law in Texas will require schools to install cameras upon request in classrooms serving students with disabilities.

Gifted Ed - What Next?

As we all know, trying to understand how gifted education in SPS is presented is a losing proposition.  The District has this three-tier system that, on paper, looks somewhat orderly.  But, brush off the cobwebs on this old plan, and you find that:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

PBS Has Story on IB at Rainier Beach

Somehow I missed this but PBS had a story in June.  on the International Baccalaureate program at Rainier Beach High School.  I am glad they are getting this notice. 
The International Baccalaureate program, once thought of as a college preparatory curriculum exclusively for the rich, may also help students at struggling schools. The NewsHour’s April Brown explores how the program has transformed one high school in Seattle.

Denny/Chief Sealth Music Leader to Leave to Work in Bellevue

From the West Seattle Blog:

Our area’s most-renowned music educator has announced he’s leaving for a new career direction, in another school district. Multiple award winner Marcus Pimpleton has told the Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School communities about his departure; he’s staying with the summertime Seattle Public Schools-wide All-City Band program, but otherwise, he is moving into a school-administration role in the Bellevue district.

Speaking of Common Core

From Diane Ravitch:
Rick Hess directs education studies at the conservative, free-market American Enterprise Institute. We often disagree but I am often impressed that he doesn’t follow “the party line” of free-marketeers. This article is a good example of Hess demonstrating his sharp intellect and his willingness to stray from the right-wing corral.
I absolutely echo Ravtich's comments.  Hess may be a right-wing thinker but he's an honest one.  He is willing to call out BS on BOTH sides.  He is also willing to say it like it is which probably makes a lot of people on the right wring their hands.

His piece is long but worthy reading.  In a nutshell:

2016 Presidential Election and Public Education

I've said this before but it has been one of the saddest issues to watch over President Obama's two terms as President - seeing his Secretary of State, Arne Duncan, in action.

What comes next?  First, consider this statement (which is true):

“There’s nothing else as large in all of society. Not the military—nothing—is bigger.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

Looks like someone's trying to revive the reviled Inbloom (the $100M public education data cloud that Gates created) by making a kinder, gentler one.  I, along with some other student data privacy advocates, see this as much less threatening than InBloom but I would have to see all the particulars before I could say it was okay.  From Washington Monthly:

Monday, July 27, 2015

McCleary, Supreme Court and Legislature (Oh, and Randy Dorn)

Seems everyone wants to weigh in on what "work" the Legislature got done on McCleary.  I was at an event on Saturday where Speaker Frank Chopp made it sound like much got done.

The place to read most responses is the Washington State Courts website.  You can read:
  • Attorney General Bob Ferguson's response
  • Plaintiffs' response (the actual McClearys)
Additionally, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn also put out a statement (partial here):

Education Questionnaire for City Council Members

Reader Robert Crunkshank put forth this idea that I think is a good one:

I do think it would be a good idea to submit an education-related questionnaire to all the City Council candidates who make it through the primary. We should get all those candidates on record on the big issues, including Tim Burgess and Ed Murray's efforts to have the City take over the school district and impose unwanted "education reform" policies.

So, dear readers, what questions would you like to see put forth to City Council candidates?  I would like to keep it to 4-5 questions because I don't want anyone trying to reject answering these questions on the basis of length of questionnaire.

I think there should be a dead-on "Would you support the takeover of either the district and/or School Board by the Legislature to pass onto the Mayor to run?" 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Director Peaslee Gives Her School Board Picks

I would like to say this is a parody of sorts but no, it's Director Peaslee's recommendations for School Board.

Now the first thing you'll note is that she gives recommendations for all the races (even though not all are on the primary ballot anyway) except for her own district.  Weird, no?

Then there's this:

The most important trait needed to ensure an effective School Board is collegial respect. 

Who to Vote For?

Update:  I had it wrong so let's be clear.  The Seattle School districts up for election are 1(currently held by Peaslee),2 (currently held by Carr). 3 (currently held by Martin-Morris), and 6 (currently held by McLaren).

End of update

In discussions with friends and neighbors, I find two kinds of voters.  The "I got my ballot, filled it out and mailed it already" and the "I'm waiting until the last minute" voter.  I'm somewhere in-between.

I'm going to give you my picks for School Board but also throw out some picks for City Council as I think the make-up of the City Council could have a large affect on Seattle Schools (given the aggressive nature of Mayor Murray on this issue).

Note: in the primary you only vote for a School Board candidate if your district is up for election this year. However, after the primary, in the General election, you WILL be voting for four candidates.  

Seattle Schools' Taskforce Recommends Changing Bell Times

I'm a bit late on this one but the the taskforce on bell times released its report to the Board on Wednesday.  The upshot is that they voted that high schools should start an hour later with most elementaries starting 90 minutes later.  There were three minority reports.

As I previously reported, Bellevue and Mercer Island are working together on this issues as well as Northshore and Lake Washington.  All these districts and Seattle School District are faced with the financial and logistic challenges that a change would bring.

Recommendation:
SCORE: [3.45]
Modified Flip option             17 votes
No Change                              2 votes
Extended High School Day     0 votes
(Non-voting task force members: 3) 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Final Investigation Report on Beacon Hill International School 2014 Test Issues

Final Investigation Report (redacted) on Beacon Hill International School Spring 2014 test booklet issues.

Road Trips In American Literature

Atlas Obscura has a cool interactive map of road trips made famous by American writers.   Show it to your teen and encourage them to read one of these books - there are several that teens would relate to.

Washington State Achievement Index

Time on your hands this summer?  This Index from OSPI and the State Board of Education has some interesting data (although it may be me, but I'm not sure I get how they get to their final number for any given school.)

Friday Open Thread

Clarification: the forum on the school to prison pipeline (this Wednesday, the 29th at the New Holly Hall at 6pm) is NOT sponsored by either the King County Council or City Council.  It was organized by a few members from each group.  They have invited members of the Seattle School Board but it is unclear who may be going from that group.  The featured speaker is Professor Wayne Au from UW Bothell.

This is a good opportunity to point out how valuable that Middle College is to preventing more kids from entering the pipeline.  (I also suspect a fair number of candidates from City Council races as well as School Board races will be in attendance.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Seattle Schools Statement on the Legislative Session and Capacity Needs

The District issued a statement today about the growing capacity needs in SPS and how the Seattle Legislative delegation worked to secure funding to help meet those needs.

I'll post the entire statement but one caveat - for some reason they changed Rep. Reuven Carlyle's statement but I'll post the first one in red and the updated one in black.  I do not know why this change occurred.

One thing I learned is that state money went to accelerating the timeline for Arbor Heights.  

Seattle Education Updates

Talk about fast and furious - there's no end to public ed news in the summer.

In the "wish we had more School Board members who do this," there are two City Council candidates, Mike O'Brien and Catherine Weatbrook who ask the hard questions (sadly, in the same district - # 6).  Publicola has an article about the HALA report and Councilman O'Brien's pushback to the Mayor on some of the data.

King County Council Event to Discuss Disproportionality

Sorry for the late notice; I received this event notice from School Board candidate, Leslie Harris (who keeps up as much or more than I do).

Members of the Metropolitan King County Council will be joined by their counterparts on the Seattle City Council for a special discussion that will focus on the challenges of meeting the educational needs of youth of color as a step to help reduce their numbers in the regional criminal justice system:

Wednesday, July 29
New Holly Gathering Hall
7054 32nd Ave South, Seattle
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Meeting starts at 6:00 p.m.

Legislature Reports to Supreme Court on McCleary

I have not yet read through this report but here it is for your own reading.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

I was so busy yesterday that I thought it was Tuesday and had (briefly) put up the Tuesday Open Thread.  Here it is in its proper place.

What's on your mind?

HALA Report and Roosevelt (Neighborhood and High School)

 Update: well, I guess my haranguing  did something because the open windows in the Sisley home by Roosevelt High are now covered and nailed shut. 

Yesterday, I did three major items on my "to-do"list.

One, I wrote a letter to the Mayor about the HALA report and my neighborhood of Roosevelt/Ravenna.  I dropped the letter - with photos - off at City Hall for both the Mayor and City Council.

Two, I wrote a letter to the City Council about what I believe the City is doing to infiltrate the workings of Seattle Schools.  I now realize I left out one important point (but I did tell the Board this point) - that this infiltration is likely being aided and abetted by senior management, primarily Superintendent Nyland.  It is, in some policy cases, hard to discern who Nyland works for - the Mayor or the School Board.

Three, in taking photos to give to the City Council about the issue of the Sisley slumlords in Roosevelt, I discovered that one house (facing 65th, not RHS) has an open window, covered with opaque sheeting with open access thru the fencing.  Which says to me "squatters."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Connecting the Dots for the City Council

Below is a letter I dropped off today - in person - to each City Council member.  It details what I believe is a pattern for the Mayor - via his Department of Education and Early Learning (Families and Education levy and the City Preschool Program and, more recently, the HALA report on housing, in trying to insinuate the City more and more into the workings of Seattle Public Schools.


Dear City Council Members,

UW Doing Reseach on Autism; Looking for Volunteers

The Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials (ABC-CT) is a multicenter research study based at Yale that spans Duke University, Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of California, Los Angeles. The aim of the consortium is to develop reliable and objective measurements of social function and communication in people with autism.

For more information about the study, contact asdbiomarkers@yale.edu

For UW info.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Seattle Public Education News

Tuesday the 21st sees the public forum for Summit Sierra charter school from 6-8 pm at Freedom Church, 9601 35th Ave. SW.   Unfortunately, the Summit site gives no detail on the format of the evening nor does the Charter Commission site.

 From my experience, you sign in if you want to speak and are given a lottery number.  There are usually between 3-5 Charter Commission members there.  After they are introduced, then Summit has about 10 minutes to flesh out what their school is and how they will operate.

Then, the public gets a chance to weigh in.  Hopefully, the Charter Commission will not allow what happened in the past which is that the charter school gets supporters to come, each gets lottery number to speak.  However, Green Dot had a staffer who collected all those numbers and Green Dot decided who would speak.  I don't have a problem with any charter being able to bring in supporters but it seems like whoever has the number that is drawn should be the speaker.

Meaning, it should NOT be left to the charter group to decide who does and does not speak.

The Charter Commission will be voting on August 13th on whether the two charter applicants whose applications passed the first hurdle will be granted charters. 

Seattle Schools has put up what is hoped is the final list of which kindergartens open in Monday, Sept. 14th.  If your child's school is not on that list, that school's kindergarten opens on September 9th, with those kindergarteners getting more full days of school than those who start on the 14th.

The Times has a short article about other area districts looking at later school starts for high school students including:

- Bellevue and Mercer Island which are working together on a plan.  Their committee recommended changing high school start times to 8:30 am. 
- Northshore's School Board voted in Jan for a later start. 
- Seattle's final task force recommendation is supposed to come out this week but question is, where and to whom?  There are no meetings of the Board - in any form - until August 10th so I don't know how this will happen. 

(Editor's note;   This thread is about charters, kindergarten and high school bell times.  I am increasingly finding that people are treating all threads as open threads which they are not. I would ask that you do not go off topic on threads.)

This Looks Like A Summer Day

But it's science - show the kids.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Study Finds that Social Skills May Be as Important as Academic Ones in Kindergarten

I first heard about this on NPR but here's a longer look from PBS.  It's a national study of 700 students, from K to age 20, in four places (including Seattle).  These socio-emotional skills like listening and helping other students were found to show better outcomes nearly two decades later.

Socio-economic skills, as explained by the lead researcher, Damon Jones at Penn State, are "malleable" and can be taught and strengthened.  They controlled for early academic skills, socio-economic status, and behavior (as rated by mothers and teachers).
We found significant associations in all those domains, crime, education, employment, substance use, mental health. For instance, children — for each point on the social competence scale, children were twice as likely to receive a college degree by age 25. There were consistent results for the crime outcomes.
From USA Today
Children with poor social skills in kindergarten are by no means a lost cause, pediatrician Dina Lieser said.

The study provides a hopeful message, because it's possible to improve social skills throughout childhood, said Lieser, chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' council on early childhood, who wasn't involved in the study.

Friday Open Thread

Here's a reprint of an article in Crosscut from 2011 on earthquake preparedness.  Also, I went to KUOW's Week in Review at U Heights and they had an expert who thinks two things.  One, Seattle won't be near as devastated as cities/towns right on the coast and two, that the fault right under Seattle would be the worst earthquake (even if a smaller one like 6.0).

Boy, that new version of NCLB can't come fast enough (or Arne Duncan leave soon enough).   From the Answer Sheet at the Washington Post, Obama administration denies state’s request to relax test mandates for students with serious disabilities:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Oakland Educators in Seattle To Talk about Successful Discipline Program

This fell off my radar when I saw it weeks ago but the City invited Oakland educators who have a proven program to help solve the issue of disproportional discipline for minority students in a holistic way.

Ida B. Wells Birthday Today

One of the Middle College locations - also being reworked by the district -  is named for Ida B. Wells and it is Google's highlight on their home page.   Here's the Ida B. Wells School for Social Justice at UW Facebook page.

Bipartisan Senate Majority Passes Every Child Achieves Act

From Diane Ravitch, news that the Senate has passed their long-awaited revision to No Child Left Behind, the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA).

The underlying legislation is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, whose purpose was to authorize federal aid to education targeted to schools that enrolled significant numbers of children living in poverty. The original bill was about equity, not testing and accountability.

And we can all see how that turned out.

The Senate bill retains annual testing, but removes federal sanctions attached to test results. Any rewards or sanctions attached to test scores will be left to states.

What's More Important?

Update: And this from CBS Minnesota: 

Reality Check: Trip To Pluto Cost Less Than Vikings Stadium


$720M spent going to Pluto; $1B for Vikings stadium


Priorities.

New Yorker Article on Seattle and Earthquakes: Part Two

What should we be doing in an earthquake?

Drop – get down to the ground or floor before the shaking of the earth throws you there.  (Do this in the first couple of seconds.)
Cover – get under a table or desk or other piece of furniture that can protect you from falling items such as books, light fixtures, etc. Face away from windows and mirrors.
Hold – hold on to the furniture, move with it. It is your protection from falling objects.


- Victims who try to move on their feet during serious shaking are often thrown violently by the seismic forces and can suffer serious injury from being thrown AND…
-Are at risk for suffering life-threatening injuries from being simultaneously imbedded with glass shards. Actual post-earthquake data show that large and dagger-like shards of glass can travel more than 20 feet, and with enough force to penetrate solid wood. If you are attempting to move on your feet, your entire body is exposed to glass and other objects that can forcefully fly from every direction.

Be prepared for aftershocks.

New Yorker Article on Seattle and Earthquakes: Part One

From The New Yorker piece entitled, The Big One" by Kathryn Schultz:

When the next very big earthquake hits, the northwest edge of the continent, from California to Canada and the continental shelf to the Cascades, will drop by as much as six feet and rebound thirty to a hundred feet to the west—losing, within minutes, all the elevation and compression it has gained over centuries. Some of that shift will take place beneath the ocean, displacing a colossal quantity of seawater.

The water will surge upward into a huge hill, then promptly collapse. One side will rush west, toward Japan. The other side will rush east, in a seven-hundred-mile liquid wall that will reach the Northwest coast, on average, fifteen minutes after the earthquake begins. By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

I know - when I saw that "west of I-5" I thought, "Whew, I live east."  Apparently, that sigh of relief may be short-lived.

Now the really bad news:

When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

More of Hell Has Apparently Frozen Over

Update:  there was also a measure that would simply allow parents to opt-out of testing (as opposed to the amendment that did pass that notifies parents whether their state allows opt-outs).  It was defeated, seemingly on the premise that local control over opting out should be left to states.  Both Senators Murray and Cantwell voted no on the measure.  It is legal in Washington State to opt out.

End of update.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution about the revamped NCLB/ECAA:

The U.S. Senate passed an amendment by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., to the “Every Child Achieves Act” that aims to inform parents about opting out of standardized testing.

Isakson’s amendment, which was passed by a unanimous vote Tuesday, would require any local educational agency that receives federal Title I funds to notify parents of each student attending school that they may request information regarding any state or local policy, procedure, or parental right regarding participation in mandated assessments.

This and That

OSPI has two  job openings of interest.

- Special Education, Dispute Resolution Program Supervisor
- Privacy and Records Governance Manager

Yikes! the Schools First! group (the group that manages the district's levy elections) has "Mayor" Mike McGinn as honorary co-chair.  Wonder if anyone told them about Ed Murray. They have Lauren McGuire as BOTH an honorary co-chair AND a Board member. Both. She's busy.

From the Wait, What? blog, Jonathan Pelto reports this:

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has provided its member states with most of the results from the spring’s Common Core SBAC testing.

Unlike Connecticut, where the Malloy administration is apparently keeping the information secret as long as possible, the State of Washington has been updating the public about the results as they came in. As of two weeks ago, Washington State had already received the results for more than 90% of its students.

Seattle Kids Have Lower Polio Vaccination Rate Than Rwanda

From KUOW:

In fact, looking at the latest reports of vaccine rates, health officials found that even more parents statewide are foregoing the whooping cough and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines.

Parents are also increasingly opting out of the polio vaccine. Seventeen years ago, 95.4 percent of kindergarteners in Washington state were vaccinated for polio.

It’s even more dramatic in Seattle, where 81.4 percent of kindergarteners have been vaccinated for polio. That’s lower than the 2013 polio immunization rates for 1-year-olds in Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Algeria, El Salvador, Guyana, Sudan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Yemen, among other countries, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Kids and Screentime

The American Academy of Pediatrics  says it is hard to measure screen time because of the number of ways kids can be looking at one (beyond the tv). They also point out that, especially during the school year, kids could be reading a book (on a Kindle) or doing homework (on a computer). They recommend 2 hours a day for kids 3-18 for "entertainment screen time." You define "entertainment."

The average 8-10 year old spends almost 8 hours a day on screen time with older kids spending up to 11 hours a day. About 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging. - See more at: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/managing-media-we-need-a-plan.aspx#sthash.iJk8MHo5.dpuf
The question the AAP asks is - what is screen time displacing? Physical activity? Actual interaction with family and friends?

Two things that seem to stand out are 1) parents, heal thyself and 2) just say no.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Stranger Endorses Geary and Harris for Seattle School Board

The Stranger - in their madcap manner - have endorsed Leslie Harris for Position 6 (over incumbent Marty McLaren) and Jill Geary for Position 3 (over Lauren McGuire). 

Dear Mayor Murray, No and Hell No

Update: for one, turns out there's someone from the Gates Foundation on the Committee.  I'm sure that's a bit voice for charters.  His name is David Wertheimer.

What seems to be the explanation for this "mandate" for investment in charter schools is the idea that (1) SPS isn't building new schools (wrong) and (2) that school facilities could be built into housing.

On the first issue, we all know SPS is opening up every building they can (and those are some schools that have been closed so long, they might as well be new) and, as well, the district IS opening two new schools at the Wilson-Pacific site.  I have no idea why someone would say the District isn't building new schools if they didn't know for sure but you'd have to ask members of the Committee.

Now if the City thinks that having charters will serve all these new students, they clearly don't know charters.  For one thing, charters are deliberately smaller so any idea that a charter high school would serve even half the number of a comprehensive is a dream.

I have no idea if this idea of housing with a school attached would only be for charters but it if were, that would be a clear signal of the Mayor's direction and it's not working with Seattle Schools.  If there were the possibility of asking the district first if it wanted to use the space and then, if not, finding a charter, that would make more sense.

End of update.

Too impolite? But it is my real and true reaction to my preliminary reading of the Seattle Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee report that was issued yesterday.

Tuesday Open Thread

Let's see.

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

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

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

Oh, and have you read the HALA committee report on housing in our city?  I'll be writing a separate thread but on the same page (20) where they they want to work with other entities in the state/region like Seattle School District, just a couple of paragraphs later, they say this:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Who Will Run Public Education?

Some older articles I had on the back burner for far too long.  Compiled, they are a good picture of what is happening in our country today.  It's a two-fold problem.

1) Billionaires who decide they (and their foundations know best) and throw money for public education towards their focus and their beliefs.

2) Corporations trying to make money from public education.  Now before anyone takes me to task, I know that companies have been making money from education for decades.  There are a ton of services and products sold to schools.  What I am referencing is making money from the management of public education, from testing to charter schools.

How Many of These Does Seattle Schools Meet?

Interesting crib sheet on 10 Signs Your Child is in a Failing School District from Randy Turner, a former English teacher, now writing at the Huffington Post.
It has nothing to do with low scores on state-mandated standardized tests and more to do with the culture in the school district.
 How many do you think fit Seattle Public Schools?

Bell Times Taskforce Vote

Here's the Friday Memo section about Bell Times and what different categories of stakeholders thought.

The winner - by a mile- is Modified Flip.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Luck Has Nothing to Do with It

Tell your kids - nothing worthwhile comes easily.  Working hard, having discipline to learn (and possibly master) something has so many different kinds of reward.  (It also helps to have parents who believe in you and are willing to allow you to explore different interests.)

From A Mighty Girl

Arne Duncan and NCLB; Public Education Needs a Break from Both

One of the big complaints about NCLB was that it gave the federal government a much larger role in public education beyond mere oversight and reporting.  It gave them a very big stick to use on districts and states.  (Bringing in RTtT was more the carrot but I'll bet it felt very much like a stick sometimes to states who got those funds.)

This federal Big Brother idea made people on the right AND on the left unhappy. That's quite the trick for one law.

The one usefulness of NCLB was that it forced districts to account for every - single - student.  As they should.  But trying to fit all these students - ELL, Sped, homeless - into the same testing box with everyone else was never going to work.

After "To Kill A Mockingbird"

Did you read the first chapter of Harper Lee's, "Go Set a Watchman?"  I'm did and now can't wait to get my copy of the novel when it comes out Tuesday.  (Amazon says it's the biggest pre-order since Harry Potter.) 

From the Wall Street Journal:

In 1957, when she was 31 years old, Harper Lee submitted her first attempt at a novel to the publisher J.B. Lippincott. 
 
Titled ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ it was set in the ’50s and opened with a woman named Jean Louise Finch returning home to Alabama. 

Ms. Lee’s editor found the story lacking but, seizing on flashback scenes, suggested that she write instead about her protagonist as a young girl. The result was a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’

If your teens (or even middle schoolers) are writers, this is a good story about trying and then regrouping and having someone who can see that kernel of talent in your work.  Meaning, don't give up or TTT (Things Take Time).  

Friday, July 10, 2015

Do Verbal Tics Matter for Girls and Women?

There has been an interesting debate going on about how women/girls speak.  One issue is how women in the workplace tend to apologize more "I don't mean to bother you but wanted to ask...." or preface with qualifiers like "just."

This may be true but I think that women have to have faith in their education and experience and not feel like they can't speak up at work without a qualifier.  And there is surely a difference between verbal tics and actual speaking style (which is probably a combo of parents, area where you were raised and generation).

Friday Open Thread

Sad news from Ingraham as thieves broke into their auto shop and took four cars that were being worked on.  From KOMO tv:
Each of the high end cars now has to have specialty keys remade.

"It's gonna be a lot of time and a lot of money," von Ravensberg said.

That is money the program doesn't have.  Students fix up the autos and sell them at surplus to fund classes and some of the cars are already spoken for, according to von Ravensberg.
What a terrible thing to do to those hard-working students and adults.

Who Opted Out of the SBAC in Washington State?

The Seattle Times is reporting that it was NOT just 11th graders in SPS opting out, early state figures show. 

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Ron English - Part Two

As you may recall, I said there were peripheral issues that I found in the public disclosure e-mails.  Let's go thru them.

Thought We Were All Done with Beacon Hill Cheating Scandal? Nope

As you may recall, the District had started a six-month investigation of test-tampering at Beacon Hill International School and the investigator could not discern who did it. OSPI had found mass eraser marks in a large number of test booklets.   (The District says this can't happen in the future because testing will all be on computer.)

The District did put Principal Po Tang and a teacher, Judy Eng, on leave because the District believed they were part of those who did break the testing rules.  (The associate principal, Michele Nishioka, left the District.)

However, it has come to my attention - via public disclosure documents - that the District didn't conduct one investigation.  Here's what Barbara Nahouraii, Senior Human Resources Analyst, said yesterday (bold mine):

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Middle College at High Point Gets Support from City Council Members

 Four Seattle City Council members, Nick Licata,  John Okamoto, Mike O'Brien and Kashama Sawant, signed a letter to Superintendent Nyland to keep Middle College at High Point open.

Gates Foundation Pays Out Big in 2014 in Support of Charters

From the Washington Post's Answer Sheet (partial):

Along with the Common Core, the big winners in terms of issue were charter schools — especially in Washington state (where Gates helps finance a campaign to win voter approval of charters) — and online and technology-based learning initiatives.

Tuesday Open Thread

New section of Burke-Gilman at UW is open - there's a great view of Mt. Rainier from Rainier Vista.   If you want a shady spot to rest, come visit my husband's memorial bench in Sylvan Grove (right next to the Computer Science and Engineering building). 

From Rooted in Rights, a story about disability activists who marched on Princeton University in June over controversial remarks by an ethics professor. 

Monday, July 06, 2015

King County - A Fairly Decent Place for Poor Children

This assessment comes from the New York Times and their massive look at counties throughout the U.S.

Here's the link for the King County assessment.

Delaware Passes Bill to Allow Parents to Opt Out of Common Core Testing

 From Diane Ravitch:

Finally! Overhauled NCLB Get Public Airing

From Senator Patty Murray's office:

TOMORROW - Floor Debate Begins on Sen. Murray’s 
Bill to Fix “No Child Left Behind”

State Board of Ed Wants Your Thoughts

The State Board of Education is holding a board meeting July 7-9 in Seattle. Please join board members for an open discussion July 8 at the Rainier Community Center on important topics such as strategies for closing the achievement gap, standards, and assessment. Please note that the regular meeting will be held at the Museum of Flight.

Rainier Community Center, Seattle, WA

4600 38th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118


From 6:30-8:00 pm   

Might want to come and give them a cheerful earful on Common Core and SBAC.

From the Times:

The forum is part of the board’s regular meeting, which begins today at the Museum of Flight.

The three-day agenda includes a review of of experiences districts had giving the new Smarter Balanced state math and reading tests this spring on July 9 from 10-11:30 a.m. The meetings on July 8 and July 9 both have times scheduled for public comment.

Tell Seattle School Board to Say No to Latest City Preschool Agreement

I will add onto this thread soon about what the discussion was at the last Board meeting about the newest agreement with the City about their Seattle Preschool Program.  But a reader sent me a letter she had written to the Board that sums it up nicely but here it is in a nutshell:

The District CANNOT be left on the hook for any kind of 
operating dollars or administrative dollars for the SPP.  Period.  

The Board  - via several members like Peters, Peaslee and Carr - have made that abundantly clear every single step of the way.  And yet District staff and the City now have it set up for the District to take on more costly work.

I remind everyone that even the City  - in an e-mail about this issue - said that the District's "mandate" is K-12.  No one, for any reason, should take their eye off that mandate. 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Ron English

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth 
is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell

That is a quote that is at the bottom of e-mails for Assistant General Counsel, Ron Boy.  Never were truer words spoken about an institution.  

First and foremost, I cannot say for certain what the issue is with Ron English, the on-paid-administrative-leave former head of Legal for Seattle Public Schools.  Those of us with a long institutional memory know it could be one of several issues.

Also to note, Mr. English has never been anything but kind and pleasant to me.

I have several public disclosure request documents and they are quite eye-opening.   There were enough clues in them for me to piece together what I believe are the cogent incidents that may have set this in motion.

King County is the Whitest "Big"County in the Country

This fact is reported by the Seattle Times.  I note that this is for the county and not the city but it's a trend to note.

What might this mean - if anything - for public education.

Don't Forget to Register to Vote

From the excellent political e-mail newsletter, Sol's Civic Minute from former McGinn staffer, Sol Villarreal, this reminder that tomorrow, Monday, July 6th, is the deadline to register online/mail-in to vote in this year's primary on August 4th.  

You have until July 27th to do it in person.

October 5 is the deadline to register online/mail-in if you want to vote in the General while October 26th is the deadline to do it in person.

This is a big election year for Seattle and Seattle public education.  Who gets on the City Council and their attitudes/beliefs about what role the Council should play in public education is important.   As well, the School Board elections are important, too.

Look for The Stranger to release their coveted and profanity-laced endorsement list next week, just in time for the ballot drop.

Another good source of info on what is happening at the STILL on-going Legislative session (number three), comes from Coalition to Protect our Public Schools.  The two big issues are the Transportation bill and I-1351 for lower class sizes.  There is a bill to delay (and likely kill) I-1351.

I would like to explain the underlying causes of these two conflicts and propose that the best way to break the gridlock in Olympia is to listen to the concerns of those who voted against the agreements made by the House and Senate leaders. 


Was the cause of the Rebellion in the Senate House Bill 2214 or Initiative 1351?
Senator Nelson stated that the reason she voted against House Bill 2266 was to protest the failure of the Senate to pass House Bill 2214- which Nelson and the main stream media claim is a bill to help 2000 more students graduate in 2015 - but is in fact a bill to accelerate the SBAC test monopoly – and thus place the graduation of 50,000 students at risk in June 2016. However, if you listen to the 5 am Floor Speeches of the Senators who voted No on this bill, you will reach an entirely different conclusion. Every Senator who gave a speech on why they were voting no stated clearly that the reason was the failure of the House and Senate leaders to even have a discussion about how to fund Initiative 1351. They all pointed out that there were more than 20 days left in the 3rd Special Session and they wanted at least one day to be used to have a discussion on how to at least partially fund Initiative 1351.



Too hot at your house?

As promised, here's that $50 DIY A/C setup, courtesy of Molly Brown at GeekWire.
 

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Tell Senators Cantwell and Murray to Limit Testing

How does once in elementary, once in middle school and once in high school sound for state testing for federal reports?  Because honestly, the overwhelming majority of teachers can tell how a child is doing in school so why the time, cost and lack of real help for teachers/parents with multiple year testing. 

FairTest has this link to send a letter in support of Senator Jon Tester's amendment (yes, that's his name) to limit testing to three times in a student's K-12 academic career.   (This would not preclude district assessments.)

Congress is taking up NCLB on July 7th. 

From Diane Ravitch, PARCC is Falling Apart with the Departure of Ohio:

Friday, July 03, 2015

Kindergarten Communications Snafu at the District

Remember when we had the discussion about some kindergartners starting school later than others and that the District had let parents know this news as well as information about the before-school-readiness program, Jump Start?  Well, it got worse.

Friday Open Thread

Well first, it's hot (but I'm from Arizona so you can't scare me) and dry so please have a safe and fun 4th and let the experts handle the fireworks AND be careful if you go out into the water (not in a pool).  The waters here in the Puget Sound region are very cold. 

 Kind of a fun survey on "How Creative Are You?"  if you draw (and I don't). 

We like to talk about family engagement here and boy, did Arne Duncan fall flat in his latest Twitter chat.  From Conversation Ed:

The topic of Arne Duncan’s July Twitter chat was “Parental engagement”. And that’s ironic for two reasons:

  1. He received a lot of parental engagement on the chat he probably wasn’t expecting.
  2. He didn’t “engage” much with the parents who were asking him the tough questions regarding his education policy that affect their kids.
In fact, Duncan didn’t say much, but parents and educators certainly did.

On the Seattle Craigslist, they are advertising for "teachers" for Clark County in Nevada.  It seems to be another version of TFA (but for principals and office staff as well).  No thanks.

A woman in Washington who died this week of measles was the first to die from the disease in 12 years in the U.S.  It was not suspected she had measles but died from pneumonia, which is a common outcome from measles.  She contracted them at a medical facility in Clallam County; her family thought she had been vaccinated as a child.

This comes as California governor, Jerry Brown, this week signed a bill in to law that no child can attend public school in California without vaccinations unless there is a medical reason with no exemptions for religion or personal beliefs.   Parents whose children are not vaccinated may either homeschool or send their child to a private school that allows non-vaccinated children. 

Thirty-two states do not use personal belief exemptions for vaccinations.  There are two other states with this kind of strict law that California has now enacted - Mississippi and West Virginia.

Update: And a shout-out to Washington Middle School PTSA who made the Mayor's list of projects to further the City's digital equity goals.  The City Council will discuss these recommendations on July 15th. 
to further the City’s digital equity goals
to further the City’s digital equity goals
to further the City’s digital equity goals
City’s digital equity goals

What's on your mind?

Preliminary SBAC Test Results Released; No Big Surprise that Scores are Down

OSPI is calling this a "sneak peek" and frankly, I don't think it's all that amusing. 

It's interesting because it appears the overall Washington results on LA are higher than the field test last year. But with them hovering in the low-50s/low-60s, not so great.  One good trend is that the proficiency rate goes up steadily from 3-11 grade.  

Math is another story.  Again the Washington test results are better than the field test by at least 15 points but, in a reverse, the results get worse - much worse - from 3rd to 11th grade.  You have 57% of 3rd graders at proficient and that drops by about 10 points from 6-8th and then at 11th grade, only 29th % of 11th graders are proficient.  I suspect something is wrong with the test, what has been taught in preparation for the test (meaning teachers did not know what was on the test and the students may be seeing certain items for the first time) or the teachers didn't do a good job. 

OSPI cautions that this sneak peek is preliminary. Results are updated daily, as tests continue to be scored. Return rates vary by district, grade level and content area, so comparisons between districts should not be made until all tests have been scored. Disaggregated district-level results will be available during OSPI’s annual score release press conference at 10 am on August 17.

This week’s preliminary results do not factor in student refusals. What is reported here is the proportion of students who took the test and earned a level 3 or level 4. OSPI will release test refusal numbers, by grade level and content area for each school district, on July 9. For state and federal accountability purposes, refusals will be incorporated into the proficiency rates reported on August 17. Proficiency rates will be lower when refusals are included. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Is Influence at Seattle Schools for Sale?

It appears that you can literally buy influence at Seattle Schools around who is selected as principal at any given school.  I have two examples.

MIddle College - Slowly and Disrepectfully Being Dismantled

A great story from the International Examiner by Sharon H. Chang, on the slow dissolve of the Middle College program that serves at-risk teens.  (There is a some confusion over what Middle College is because the Superintendent has said it wasn't a program.  Well, it's not a school so what is it?)

Middle College is a program that succeeds with teens who are at-risk for dropping out and then turning them around.


 Indeed, where graduation may have been in question for these at-risk youth in traditional high school, almost all Middle College students graduate and around 80 percent go to college. 

As many former students - most college grads - stated at last night's Board meeting, "We are not throwaways."

What is deeply disturbing is that the principal of the Middle College program, Cindy Nash, seems to have a tin ear when it comes to making decisions in a transparent manner and then communicating them to her community.

For example, who allows movers with boxes to come into a class that is in session with no notice to the teacher?  What message does that send to the students?

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Seattle School Board Meeting - Maybe a Hot Summer Night and a Full Moon

Those two factors - a hot summer night and a full moon - might just set things off.  Word is that many Middle College supporters will be at the meeting and want to be heard.  Here are some updates from the supporters (and that includes me):

Summer Camps for Learning Opportunities for Minorities

From Jet City Mom:

The Native Youth Enrichment program at the UW, is looking for middle school aged youth in Seattle, to participate in a 4 week ( non-consecutive) AWESOME camp that will include lots of STEAM curriculum and field trips.

It is FREE and starts next week on the Monday, July 6th.

The program is aimed at empowering Native youth in self advocacy & encouraging STEAM( science, technology, engineering, art & math) education & career goals.