Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Comparing SBAC Scores with Other States

Update: Want some really deep-dive thinking on SBAC and PARCC versus ACT/SAT for reading comprehension? From the We are More blog by Gerri K. Songer:

A Lexile analyzer is available at www.lexile.com to confirm the findings below. I am using the Lexile score needed for students to read independently since Lexile scores reflect only 75% comprehension.  Students should ideally independently comprehend 100% of text in order to accurately respond to assessment questions.

RECOMMENDATION:
A research study published in 2008 indicates the possibility that repeated and targeted brain activity to specific parts of the human brain may weaken, or eliminate the use of, other areas of the brain. The brain only has so much neural support. If the brain is trained through repetition to narrow this neural support to a specific region of the brain, then neural activity will supply less support, or perhaps no longer support, other very important areas of the brain, specifically those areas enabling students to think conceptually and creatively.


Based on these findings, my first recommendation would be to file legislation calling for a moratorium on the use of standardized assessment until this possibility is further researched.

end of update

This story covers SBAC results from several states including Washington State and comes via the Hechinger Report:

Students in 18 states took Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exams for the first time this spring. Missouri and West Virginia released their official statewide results this week, while Oregon and Washington reported preliminary information from the vast majority of their districts last month. All four states reported students exceeding expectations. 

But all four of these states did better than that field test on the English exam and all but West Virginia and Missouri’s eighth graders improved on the math exam. (Missouri’s eighth graders who are taking Algebra, generally the higher performing students, did not take the Smarter Balanced exam.)  Smarter Balanced officials said that it was too early to hypothesize what could have caused these increases.

(Keep in mind - Oregon and West Virginia don't have stellar public education systems.  Missouri is one I don't know much about.)

So Washington comes out second in Grade 4 to Missouri and even with Missouri and Oregon in Grade 8 for percentage of students passing the LA portion of the SBAC.

In math, Washington bested those other states in Grade 4 and Grade 8.

First Seattle Schools Bell Times Meeting Gets "Testy"

A wrap-up of last night's meeting from the great West Seattle Blog (partial):

It appears the district added another meeting because it wasn't there when I first posted the list:

Mon., Oct. 5, 2015, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Jane Addams Middle School
11051 34th Avenue Northeast
Interpreters provided (subject to change due to availability) Chinese, Spanish

Seattle Public Schools‘ draft proposal for changing bell times didn’t draw much support among the two dozen or so people who showed up at the first of five public meetings about it, held tonight at Chief Sealth International High School.

Work Session/Executive Committee Meeting Info

As I had previously posted, there is a Work Session today with the Board.  The topic had been "Alternative Calendar" (along with a closed Executive Session) but the topic is now "Closing Opportunity Gaps."   The topic part of the Work Session is from 4:30-6:00 pm with the Executive Session after that.

Looking at the presentation, it has the district-wide SBAC results on page 4.

Good news - SPS did better than the state-wide results - across both ELA and Math - in every grade level, many times with a 10-point gap.  For 7th grade math, the gap was 12.4%.  Most of the scores were in the high 50s to low 60s.

This is quite a difference with the MTSS scores from previous years.  Staff says it's because of "leadership," "teaming and collaboration," and "data/analytics."  They don't explain if this is at the district level or school level.

But to the subgroups, there a slide...but no data.  Then, the presentation goes from a single slide on the results to a bizarrely long PowerPoint of the methodology for "Action Plan Work."

I had initially thought, "Gee, I better go down and hear this" but I'm not so interested in what looks like a very long lecture on how the district plans to have better academic outcomes.  Boy, that one slide feels like a tease. 

I also note that the agenda for the Executive Committee meeting, tomorrow, Thursday, October 1st, from 4:30-6:30 pm is now available.

Highly Capable News

The APP Advisory Group will have its first meeting of the year next Tuesday, October 6 at the library of Washington Middle School, 6:30-8:00 pm.

Our agenda will include an Advanced Learning report from Stephen Martin, who heads up Advanced Learning Programs for SPS, and an overview of topics for the year ahead.

To join the Advisory Committee's email list serve (and to see previous posted emails) go to https://groups.google.com/d/forum/sps-hcs-ac and click the Join Group button. You can use that link for removals too.
 If that link doesn't work for you, you can email the groups communications Director at add2hcsemails@gmail.com and they will get you set up or removed.
Two stories were on NPR this morning on what they call "gifted and talented" education.  They pretty much mirror what we see here in Seattle Schools.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Highline's In-School Suspension Program

Good story from KOMO news about Highline's in-school suspension program.  Sounds to me like they have covered their bases well but to have this kind of in-school suspension program you need resources and space.  SPS would probably have the resources if they devoted some McCleary dollars but space?  Kind of at a premium.  Oh wait, maybe those City pre-K classrooms.

Tuesday Open Thread

To update, an early-morning crash on I-5 near 520 has created a 6-mile backup.  There are about 66 SPS buses affected by this situation "in directions throughout the district."  There may be anywhere between 15-90 minute delay in buses getting to schools this morning (with Whitman being one of the schools on the high end).  I'll have updates as I see them come in.

Deeply troubling story about why kids bring guns to school - there have been more than two dozen cases of kids bringing firepower to school just since the start of this school year. 

Crash on I-5 Delaying Schools

 From SPS tweet (as of 3 minutes ago), buses are between 15-90 minutes late:

Here are the schools affected by school bus delays so far after a major, early morning accident on I-5:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Seattle School Board Candidate Forums

Upcoming forums/meetings for School Board candidates (or including them):

UPDATE: Saturday, October 10th - Candidate Roundtable presented by the Vietnamese-American Community.  Includes City Council and ballot initiatives as well as school board candidates.  It's at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S. Alaska St. from 11 am-1 pm. 

Wednesday, September 30th - Rick Burke is meeting at the Capitol Hill library from 6-7:30 pm for drop-in time for voters to meet with him.  (Note: free parking underground at this library.)

Tuesday, October 6th
Sponsored by the Eastlake Community Center from 7-9:15 pm at Pocock Rowing Center, 3320 Fuhrman Ave E. (This one includes City Council and ballot measures as well.)

Thursday, October 8th
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters and SCPTSA from 7-8:30 pm at Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Avenue.

Tuesday, October 20th
Sponsored by CPPS and SE Seattle Education Coalition from 6:30-8:30 pm, location TBA

If you know of other forums I missed, please let us know in the comments section.

As well, the Muni League came out with their ratings and, for me, there was one surprise and one big "I knew it."   First, the latter.

Student Assignment Plan Updates

Update:  here's the schedule for the district boundary meetings - there are only three and they are all less than a hour.

Thornton Creek K-5 lunchroom
Tues., Oct. 1, 2015, 6:30 - 7:15 p.m.
7711 43rd Ave NE
Interpreters: Chinese and Spanish

Schmitz Park Elementary lunchroom
Mon., Oct. 5, 2015, 6:30 - 7:15 p.m.
5000 SW Spokane Street
Interpreters: Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese

Seattle World School
Meany Building lunchroom

Tues., Oct. 6, 2015, 6:30 - 7:15 p.m.
301 21st Ave E
Interpreters: Chinese, Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese

Also, a link to the map of the look of SPS in 2020 - wow is the word that comes to mind for those high school assignments.  It says it was approved in Nov 2013 and last updated 9/14/2015.  If you are in PTA, I would go to my PTA/PTO leaders and ask that this be a topic of discussion.  

Reminder: First Special Education PTSA Meeting Tonight

The Seattle Special Education PTSA will hold its first general meeting of the year on Monday, September 28th from 7pm to 9pm at the John Stanford Center, 2445 3rd Ave S.
 
Our guests this evening include Superintendent Larry Nyland (tentative) and Associate Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Michael Tolley. Executive Director of Special Education Wyeth Jessee will also attend with a few of his lead staff.

Thank you, Readers

This blog started in May 2006.  It was started by parent Beth Bakeman who was worried about her children's school appearing on the possible closure list during the period of time when the district had determined it was necessary to close schools.  (Her children's school fell off that list and Beth determined that while she couldn't carry on the blog, it should carry on without her because of its reach.  She turned to Charlie Mas, myself and a few others to carry the torch. ) I am always grateful to Beth for getting this thing rolling.

Last week we passed over 7,500,000 views.  That's a lot of views.

I thank everyone who tells a friend or colleague about the blog.  And, of course, I thank our longtime loyal readers who have stuck with us. 

Banned Book Week, September 27th- October 3rd

From the American Library Association:

Top ten frequently challenged books of 2014 has been released as part of the State of America's Library Report. Find out which books made the list.

Here's the list:

October Enrollment Numbers

Seattle Schools, like other Washington state school districts, has to deliver an October 1st student count to OSPI for funding.  I have been hearing from several schools, especially elementaries, that they get their schools geared up with services only to suddenly see a loss of students because of some kind of change/switch that the district does so that students leave their schools.  Apparently this has happened to some schools last year and it appears it will happen again this year.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Seattle Schools This Week

Don't forget the blood moon tonight, starting at 7:00ish.

Monday, September 28th
Community Meeting with Director McLaren from 6 pm to 7:45 pm at Delridge Branch Library

Community Meeting on upcoming levies at West Seattle High School from 6:30 pm to 8 pm.

Tuesday, September 29th
Community Meeting on upcoming levies at Roosevelt High School from 6:30 pm to 8 pm.

Community Meeting on Bell Time Analysis at Chief Sealth High School from 6:30-7:30 pm.

Wednesday, September 30th
Board Work Session on Alternative Calendar/Executive Session at JSCEE from 4:30-6:30 pm. 

Community Meeting on upcoming levies at Bailey-Gatzert Elementary School from 6:30 pm to 8 pm.

Community Meeting on Bell Time Analysis at Ingraham High School from 6:30-7:30 pm.

Thursday, October 1st
Community Meeting on Bell Time Analysis at MLK,Jr. Elementary School from 6:30-7:30 pm.

Executive Committee Meeting, JSCEE from 4:30-6:30 pm.  No agenda yet available.

Growth Boundaries Community Meeting at Thornton Creek Elementary from 6:30-7:15 pm.

Friday, October 2nd
Community Meeting on Bell Time Analysis at Washington Middle School from 6:30-7:30 pm.

* Director Martin-Morris said at the Board meeting that he was having a community meeting but it is not on the district or Board calendar nor in the Board meeting agenda.

(Editor's note; it has become a trend that the district is not putting up agendas any sooner than the required 48 before the meetings.   It's troubling because this certainly was not the case in the past.  It allows much less time to review the agenda information and, if needed, let parents and community know of time-sensitive issues.)

Ed Reform Both on the Move/Slowly Imploding

There have been a number of hugely important ed reform stories from around the country in the last couple of weeks.  But naturally, my focus was on the strike and the charter law ruling.

Update: some good national stories about the Seattle strike:

Washington Post The surprising things Seattle teachers won for students by striking

 NY Educator  What Seattle had that we don't

end of update

Here's what has been happening in Florida and California.

Two big stories out of Florida; one is about the Gates Foundation leaving one district holding the financial bag on a huge project, the other is about Florida superintendents' letter of no confidence in their state testing.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Washington State Charter School Ruling: Part Two - Ruling Itself

(Editor's note: I am not a lawyer.  I am a layperson who is interested in the law and I have sought to understand the Washington State Supreme Court ruling on the charter school law.) 

Background

Friday, September 25, 2015

Special Education PTSA Looking for Input

It's a quick survey on your first month of school experience with SPS Special Education.

Mercer Island Brings Back Tag

From KUOW:

The district had decided to ban the perennial favorite game from its playgrounds as part of a "hands-off" policy among children meant to reduce injuries and bullying.
 
But that announcement brought a deluge of parent complaints and media coverage.

On Friday morning, Superintendent Gary Plano sent out a memo rescinding the policy.

“Tag as we know it and have known it is reinstated,” Plano wrote to parents and staff at Mercer Island Elementary School.

And all is right with the playground world.

What Should We Teach?

http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/joyimages/2193.jpg

Final SPS Calendar (Pending Board Approval)

From SPS Communications:

The following makeup days for a revised school calendar have now been finalized with our SEA partners, pending approval by the Board of Directors on October 7.

Please mark your home and school calendars accordingly.

School Year Calendar Changes

Friday Open Thread

 Tomorrow, Saturday the 26th is the Board Retreat from 9:30 am to 2:45 pm at JSCEE.  And look, they will be discussing (again): communications protocol, norms at Board meetings, use of Robert's Rules of Order in the morning and actual district work like governance priorities and Superintendent SMART Goals and discussion of plan to close the opportunity gap.   This kind of agenda when at least three Board members will be gone in about two months?  I look forward to the next Board who will (hopefully) have better retreats.

Well, will you look at that? Director Sharon Peaslee is finally having a community meeting. It's Sunday, Sept. 27th from 3 pm to 4:45 pm at Northgate Public Library.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Terrible Crash on Aurora Bridge - Closed All This Evening

There was a terrible crash on the Aurora Bridge today at about 11 am between a Ride the Duck bus and a bus carrying North Seattle Community College students and staff. Four people were killed and many critically injured.  The Times is reporting that all those killed were from NSCC.  I called to find out if any Running Start students might have been on the bus but it appears the students were international students.

From SPS:
Buses heading out early, some already arriving at schools to prepare for delays due to bridge crash. We're notifying all 53,000 families.

Washington State Charter Law Updates

From my previous thread and now with some answers to questions arising from the reconsideration extension granted to the Washington State Charter School Association by the Washington State Supreme Court.

Seattle Education News Roundup

I didn't watch all of the Board meeting on tv last night but I did get to see the Board leave - en masse - when one speaker who didn't know the rules, challenged them on allowing her a second slot to speak again.  (The rules are one speaking time per person per meeting, no matter if someone is willing to cede their spot to you to give you more time.)  When she wouldn't back down, the Board just got up and took a break.  It was surprising to see given they generally give security the nod and the person is escorted from the room.

The Board also voted to halt suspension for elementary school students for nonviolent offenses for one year.  Taken out of the mix for suspension are disruptive conduct, rule-breaking and disobedience.  (Seattle has a lower suspension rate than the state average but it still has the issue of suspensions that occur more for minority students, ELL and Sped students.)  This vote still doesn't solve the issue of what else happens if not suspension?  (That's probably where all the dollars that staff wanted in the Action report will go - figuring out what else to do.  I see a consultant in the district's future on this one.)  Given the space crunch at many schools, one comment at the Times does make a good point - if kids are kept in the building, where will they go?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

SBAC Scores "Coming Soon" - Doesn't Pass the Sniff Test

Update: I queried OSPI on a couple of SBAC issues and here are their answers (bold mine).

Washington State Charter School Ruling: Part One, Overview of Reaction to Ruling

There will be three threads to this topic.
  • Overview of Reaction to the Ruling
  • The Ruling Itself
  • Current Overview
Part One: Overview of Reaction to the Ruling

Simply put, many people - from the unscrupulous folks who wrote this law to those overseeing charter schools to those running charter schools - made a deliberate choice to gamble with children's academic lives.  And they lost.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Seattle School Board Meeting for Wednesday, September 23rd

The Board has quite the lengthy agenda, given that they cancelled their last scheduled Board meeting due to the teachers strike.

Note: I'm putting an asterisk beside every item that has new spending plus where the money is coming from.  I'll give you the total at the end. 

Highlights:

Advanced Learning: Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

SPS put out a press release about Advanced Learning and testing.  The Board is due to vote on acceptance of the latest AL plan to OSPI at the Board meeting tomorrow night (and it's not even being discussed - it's on the Consent Agenda).

After you read this thread, my recommendation if you are an AL parent or prospective parent, is to send an e-mail to your own director (or all of them or really just Director Peters who seems to listen on a regular basis) and ask that this item be REMOVED from the Consent Agenda.  That will put it on the path to being actively discussed.

Write to: SPSdirectors@seattleschools.org

Reader Lynn has been reading and asking questions and it seems that Advanced Learning will be changing policy almost at will (and without much notification to parents).  From AL:

Now that we have formal Superintendent Procedures it will be necessary to update them periodically as do most other programs and services. The current 2190SP was presented to C&I last fall and was made available for public comment prior to being signed in January 2015. The same process will be followed with any revisions to the procedures.

The most recent Advanced Learning Task Force (2013-14) made its recommendations through the equity lens, and these recommendations found their way into 2190SP. Any subsequent adjustments will be made through that same lens, that is, increasing the number of historically underrepresented students able to access our programs. The eligibility criteria remain intact, but access and representation are improving.


Did you follow all that?   As Lynn points out (emphasis mine):

The current policy was signed in June 2015 (not January.) If (as AL says) the procedure will be presented to C&I and made available for public comment before being signed, why are the updated rules posted on the advanced learning page now? 

Why is AL presenting them as current policy - and will the board allow this? Why is the nomination form due October 8th when parents won't know if their child has qualifying math and reading scores until mid to late October?

Advanced Learning Info from the press release:

 Testing for student Advanced Learning is right around the corner. Applications for the 2015-2016 Fall/Winter Testing Session are now available. The fall/winter testing determines if children in grades K-8 are eligible for the 2016-2017 school year. Applications are due by Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Applications for students in grades 9-12 will be available in January.

Also, check out this series of videos on advanced learning.

School Board Directors: Parents Need Your Help

I have now written three e-mails to the Board today.

The first one I sent was about the issue of the school calendar, namely October 9th.  That I have asked - three times via three methods - and there is no reply tells me something is wrong.  There is not really a good reason to not have the calendar nailed down by now.

The second e-mail was about FERPA and the ability to opt out of releasing data on your student while still allowing your student to be in the yearbook, newsletter, etc.  That this issue is ALSO not nailed down is wrong.

The last e-mail was something that many of you have been plaintively asking for months - where are the SBAC scores?  For all the issues with giving them, parents got the promise of fast results that could be used to help their kids.  Crickets.

From Annoyed's comment:

Why doesn't the district live up to its own promises and why doesn't anyone hold them to them (and that goes not just for this but for many things).

Yes, those are excellent questions and why we need a new majority on the Board who WILL hold the staff to their promises.

Here's how I ended my last e-mail to the Board:


Directors, you are responsible for oversight on issues like this.  Why is the district making promises/justifications that they cannot keep? 

This is my third e-mail today and what is the underlying issue?  Communication and transparency in communication.


I don't know how the Board continues to look the other way.  

Tuesday Open Thread

It would seem the district is having some back-to-school issues.  To whit:

- this tweet yesterday - We are working on communications for families re: transportation. If there are any changes you should get notified.

- from a reader:
In my friend's SPS Student Data Verification Report, they apparently copied the 2nd page onto the back of another student's front page. The second page is where they list the confidential information, such as court-issued no-contact orders.

I heard one PTA at another school printing an apology in their newsletter because it happened there too
You might want to check that Student Data Verification Report for your own student.

- the mystery that is Friday, October 9th.  Different schools are saying different things about this day - some say it IS a school day and others say it is not.  I have asked - three times via three methods - to Communications on this issue and received no answer.  I'm thinking that maybe this is more of a major issue than simply a mix-up.

The president of China is now on his way to Seattle from Everett.  Please remember this event if you are going downtown OR if your student rides a bus.

The September 24th meeting of the Governor's Work Group on McCleary is not open to the public because the Governor is not a "governing body" and the work group is not part of the legislature's doing.  But they will be doing updates and I will try to get those to you.

What's on your mind?

Monday, September 21, 2015

FYI, Friday, October 9th is a No School Day

Update from District Communications (6 pm Tuesday)
SPS and SEA are working together on a new, revised school calendar...

So stay tuned...

end of update

Update from the Board office:

 I have done some following up on your question regarding school on October 9th, and I have found that we are still working on revising the calendar, as it takes some time to work through with SEA and the other unions. We will notify families, schools, etc. once it is finalized.

end of update

UPDATE:  Waiting for an answer from the district on this one because it seems there is NO clear answer.

To reiterate - I don't know what Friday, October 9th is but when I do, I'll put it up.

End of update

An alert reader brought this to my attention as it had not been on the district calendar this way.  The reader said Eckstein teachers told her that it would be no school that day.  I note that the district calendar page now says "No School - Teacher Work Day."

Mark your calendar accordingly.

Washington State Charter School Updates

Today the Washington State Charter School Association announced that the state Supreme Court had granted their request for more time to file for a reconsideration of the ruling on the charter law from the Court.  The due date had been around this time and is now October 24th. 

I'm thinking the Court is a bit chastised for the timing of their ruling and may be throwing a bone out there.  I don't think it means much else.

Second, the State Auditor released an audit of First Place Charter School.  Below is the press release.  Pretty damning and expands even more on issues the Charter Commission had raised for months.
 


Public charter schools are required to follow state laws holding them accountable for the use of public resources. The state Charter School Commission asked our Office to conduct an audit of First Place Scholars Charter School, the first school to receive public funding under Washington’s Charter School Initiative, passed by voters in 2012. 

Our accountability audit found school management did not correctly report required information to the state, had not properly accounted for the use of some public funds, inappropriately mixed the business expenses of the private parent organization with the public charter school, and failed to follow provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act. 

First Place Inc., a Seattle nonprofit, has provided educational and other services to homeless and low-income youth for more than 20 years. In the 2014-15 school year, the organization’s private school became the state’s first public charter school. 

After we concluded our audit work, but before our report was published, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional Initiative 1240, the law authorizing charter schools to receive state funding as common schools. 

You will find on our website a brief summary of the accountability audit findings, the full report, including a response from school management, and other materials that offer context to the report. 

As for the audit itself (from Feb. 5, 2014-Feb 28, 2015):

- 80 students and an 11-person board?  Summit will have three schools in our region with just one 3- person board.  (The Charter Commission is not so happy with the size of the board nor its accountability to a overseer California board.)

As well, they never seemed to have a quorum for their meetings.  And here, it gets more confusing as FPS says they were trying to create a "corporate structure" whereby the school is separate from the non-profit and each has its own board.  (As you read further down in this thread, you'll see a disconnect where FPS says the two entities are the same.  Can't have it both ways.) 

- lack of internal controls for enrollment (they overstated how many students would enroll and then got overpaid by the State and had to pay it back). 

- Lack of separation between the non-profit and the school and keeping money separate.  FPS used public funds for non-profit uses with documentation issues as well for the spending.  FPS says there is NO separate non-profit - that the school and the non-profit are the same.  I find this issue particularly troubling because if what FPS is saying is true, I cannot understand how the Auditor could not see this in FPS' documentation.

- apparently instructional staff was not paid "in accordance with contracts"

- no formal financial plan

- did not comply with Open Public Meetings Act/lack of training for staff about OPA

- the school was "unable to serve any special education students"

- they were overpaid in the audit time period by $200,372

- Between July and August 2014, there were three separate cash withdrawals, totaling over $85K that had little documentation for the spending.  (First Place says these were cashier checks and they provided documentation for where the money went.)

It would seem - between the Charter Commission and the State Auditor - that First Place Scholars needs to pull itself together.  Depending on what happens with the charter law, they could be out of business anyway but this audit - in total - is dismaying.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Seattle Schools This Week

Editor's Note; there are two important groups of meetings over the next three weeks.  One is for the Feb. 2016 renewal levies for Operations and BTA IV, the other group is for Bell Times Analysis.  If both issues are important to you, plan accordingly.

I would love for staff not to eat up 30+ minutes explaining the levies and just give an overview and have more Q&A for the ENTIRE group (not just 20 minutes and then force everyone to ask any further questions one-on-one.)

SEA Contract Ratification Meeting Underway

As of about 7:40 pm, teachers contract approved by SEA membership.  Waiting for details on vote.

SAEOPS 96% paraeducators 87% Certs 83% 

Attention Parents Interested in STEM for their Student

The UW Computer Science and Engineering Department has several items of note for parents of students interested in STEM.

Seattle Legislative Delegation Statement on SPS Teacher Strike

The following statement is from Representatives Farrell, Pollet, Walkinshaw, Santos, Pettigrew, Tarleton, Carlyle, Ryu, Kagi, Fitzgibbon, and Bergquist, and Senators Frockt, Pederson, Jayapal, Kohl-Welles, Chase, and Hasegawa.
 
The Seattle educators’ strike has highlighted that it is the responsibility of the Washington State Legislature to fully fund education and avert future strikes.  If the state had done its job of fully funding education, our kids would already be in school. The lack of funding runs contrary to our core value that public education is the ladder for opportunity in our society.

We call on the negotiating team convened by the Governor to reach an agreement that addresses teacher compensation and supports urban school districts as soon as possible.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

SEA Vote Tomorrow - Yay or Nay?

Update:  Rally for teachers before vote from 1-3:30pm outside of Benaroya Hall where the vote is to be taken.  Doors open for teachers at 2 pm with the general meeting starting at 3 pm.

Duncan's Former Chief of State Says States "Forced" to Take on Common Core

Must be the month for "I knew it" moments (the first being the Washington State charter school law.)

Common Core may be toast now.  Except that states and districts, like ours, have invested millions on following and using it.  And invested millions in testing those standards.

Guinea pigs - your children were nothing but guinea pigs to these people.  Shame on them. 

"Train My Brain"

Useful homework chart to keep your kids encouraged and not discouraged (or things you can say to help):

Friday, September 18, 2015

Heads Up for Next Week's Visit of China's President

As you may have heard, the president of China is visiting next week (on Tuesday and Wednesday and leaving Thursday).   The Times reports that authorities will close down several blocks of downtown around the Westin for the entire time he is here.  As well,

As for motorists, there will be some full directional closures of freeways, said Travis Phelps, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. But those won’t be revealed — not even on overhead freeway information signs — until moments before the motorcade approaches, he said.

Consider this if you work anywhere near downtown or will be traveling thru downtown on those days.

Proposed Staff Ratios in New Teachers Contract

From SPS via KPLU (here's link to complete page with footnotes):

As School Year Starts, Think about Student Data Privacy

 Update: Great suggestion from reader MammaHynkel  on how to proceed with your child's FERPA form (if you want as little data going out as possible):

I read through familypolicy.ed.gov about FERPA and I read:
"FERPA requires that a consent for disclosure of education records be signed and dated,
specify the records that may be disclosed, state the purpose of the disclosure, and
identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made."
So I am choosing to interpret on the Pre-K to 8 FERPA Form authored by SPS that:
Under FERPA, SPS may release "directory" information to anyone, including but not limited to parent-teacher organizations, the media, colleges and universities, military [recruiters], youth groups and scholarship grantors, unless you notify SPS in writing that you do not want the information released.
I'd amend the form by replacing the period ending text to the right of Box B with a comma, and " and except as outlined in the attached letter." 

Then I'd attach the letter with my conditions, sign it, mark Box B, and fill in the rest of the FERPA PreK-8 form, and have my tot return it to the school. Hence I would meet FERPA requirements.

end of update

From a group I belong to (and you should, too), Student Privacy Matters:

Two Things to Do This Weekend

One, the Ballard Block Party on Saturday, the 19th from 10 am to 3 pm.  Lots of free activities for the kids.

 

Two, take the (kinda funny) Seattle Public Libraries survey.  Apparently their "brand" needs updating but it's your library so give them your input.   I took the survey myself and boy, do I dislike the three considered logos.  I wish there was some great graphic designer out there to give better suggestions.  (Number two is the worst.) 

Let's Talk Math

From contributor, Ann Donovan:

While the teacher negotiations are at the forefront of our minds, another school year is upon us and academic concerns are also important. Several readers have requested this new thread about the Seattle District's mathematics adoption this school year and this thread should allow for a free discussion of the issues. 

Some of the themes that have been coming up recently include:

First School Board Debate (and other School Board Election News)

 Update: the LWV forum is to be in conjunction with the Seattle Council PTSA.

end of update

I have been diligently keeping my ear to the ground for School Board debates but the City Council races have been able to suck most of the attention of many groups.  But naturally, the solid citizens of League of Women Voters are having a forum.

It's Thursday, October 8th from 7-8:30 pm at the First Baptist Church at 1111 Harvard Avenue (Capitol Hill).  

According to my information, all the School Board candidates have sent in their RSVP except for District 1, Scott Pinkham and Michael Christophersen.

In other news:

Jeopardy Event with Ken Jennings and a Computer

This from UW's Computer Science & Engineering Department:

It’s man vs. machine when Ken Jennings, a former UW student and the most successful Jeopardy! player of all time, returns to campus to take on QANTA, a cutting-edge computer question-answering system, in a quiz bowl showdown. UW CSE is hosting the event at Kane Hall on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus on Friday, October 2.

Friday Open Thread

Update: in the "We Must Keep Our Standards High" category, from Diane Ravitch:
Malala Yousafzai is the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban on her way to school; she survived to became a world-famous advocate for girls’ education. 

She won the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy and courage.  She decided she wants to go to Stanford University to study politics and philosophy.

But Stanford will not accept her unless she takes the SAT and presumably scores the requisite points.
I think this is one reason why my husband liked Berkeley over Stanford (he had degrees from both).

end of update.

Finishing the first early days of the school year; how goes it?

I would urge you to consider carefully the FERPA form you will get in your First Day packet.  Personally, I would sign away as little as I could.  I will verify this but I have been previously told that it is a principal decision about whether students can or cannot be in the student yearbook if their parents don't sign the FERPA form.  Ask your principal.  Keep track of where your student's data goes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

So a 9th Grader Walks into School with a Homemade Clock


View image on TwitterAnd apparently school officials in Texas overreacted.  Just a little bit.  From the Washington Post:


Ahmed Mohamed just wanted to impress his teachers with a homemade invention. The story of what happened next has made the 14-year-old from Irving, Tex., the object of national outrage and attention.

Eager to show off to his engineering teacher, Mohamed walked into MacArthur High School on Monday morning with his hastily assembled invention: A digital clock.

Hours later, the ninth-grader was escorted out of the school in police custody after teachers mistook the device for a bomb.

Note; he showed it to his engineering teacher who thought it was cool but warned him not to show any other teachers.  But it beeped in English class, he showed it to the teacher who said it looked like a bomb.

They took him out wearing a NASA t-shirt and handcuffs.

Twitter and social media is exploding with this story - #IStandWithAhmed.

President Obama tweeted:

Superintendent Will Smile for Cameras (But Don't Ask Questions)

Tomorrow is the first day of school and naturally, the Superintendent likes to do a mini-tour of schools to welcome students, parents, teachers and staff back.  So I wasn't surprised to get a media announcement of where he would be.  But then there was this:
Please note, Dr. Nyland is not doing any one-on-one interviews at these events. There will be no formal press conference on the first day. Please understand he’s very tight on time and at the schools to greet and welcome students, not to discuss the recent strike.
So it's a photo op. Right after the first strike in Seattle Schools in 30 years.  A strike where his major public role was to ask the Board for the ability to take the teachers to court for striking.

And, he's a busy guy.

That's a pretty hard ask for reporters (and I'm only a citizen-reporter).  

What Will Final SEA Vote Be on New Contract?

I'm hearing some dissension in the rank-and-file but I don't know how widespread it is.  This from the Soup for Teachers group:

My brother is a teacher in the district. He made this visual to make it clear how much the teachers are being asked to give up on compensation. He said teachers at his school are strongly considering a "no" vote on Sunday.



Understand, the strike is suspended right now, not ended.  If enough teachers say no, it's back to a strike.

 Now naturally, everyone wants this done but if teachers don't feel satisfied, they may say no to the deal.  I doubt it because of the spin it will get from the district and the media (not to mention the ire of parents) but it's a possibility (just as the charter law ruling was a possibility that no one wanted to believe could happen).

What Next?

Update: this is amazing to me (from today at the Facebook Soup for Teachers):

Hey Souper Troopers. We have officially checked in with EVERY SCHOOL IN THE DISTRICT!!! Last night I got a message from Pam Klein-Farrow with a contact at Seattle World, the last school I had absolutely no word on. They didn't have support this week, so I'm thrilled to say that they're getting coffee, fruit, muffins, and sandwiches today, thanks to Pam, Tully's on Aloha, and Jody Rachelle and her family, who are making sandwiches as we speak. We are here for the teachers because they're here for our students. We will continue to work to support the educators, from within their own communities and communities all across the city, to get them the resources they need to make their schools the places our kids deserve.

end of update.

I have not heard back from the Soup for Teachers group about what they will do next with their incredibly effective group.  I would love to see a more pro-active parent group that advocates for specifics in Seattle Schools.

First Day Of School

Nearly, finally here.

From the NY Times, a cool look at first day of school throughout the decades.

A great article from Longreads about writing from Mary Karr who has put forth two memoirs.  Ms. Karr teaches her grad students using a technique that I tried years ago at Whittier Elementary with a class of 5th graders.  You pretend you are going to talk about writing, have a co-conspirator burst in the room and argue with you and then... tell the kids to write exactly what they heard and saw.  (I hit the button on a CD player and played the theme from "Mission Impossible" to set the mood after my compatriot left the room.)  The kids thought it funny and it did get them thinking about writing and memory.   From Ms Karr's piece:
So a single image can split open the hard seed of the past, and soon memory pours forth from every direction, sprouting its vines and flowers up around you till the old garden’s taken shape in all its fragrant glory
The National Sleep Foundation is having a Bright Schools competition.  Projects are due January, 29, 2016.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What's Up with SPS?

Final from West Seattle Blog (5:57 pm):

SEA reps voted to end the

District Says School Will Start Thursday but Not So Fast

This tweet went out from SPS:

School will start Thursday! We are excited to welcome our 53,000 students! Reminder: kindergartners will also start Thurs.

EXCEPT, as The Stranger accurately points out, there is no firm agreement yet with the union.  The union hasn't tweeted this news.  This is a tactic that is often used when tentative agreements are made in order to embarrass/force one party to agree to a contract.  

While I think it is more than likely school will start Thursday, it was wrong of the district to say so not in unison with the union.

FAFSA Process Changes Coming

From OSPI:

Tuesday Open Thread

Still waiting for confirmation that the SEA has accepted the tentative contract and wants to put it forth to its membership.

More tech in school makes them better?  Not so fast.  From the Huffington Tech:

Seattle Special Education PTSA Board Weighs In

 Update: from the district on Sped this year.

A lot of good stuff including regional meetings and revamping the Deaf/Hard of Hearing program (thanks to the huge efforts of School Board candidate, Laura Gramer).

However, there was also this gobbly-gook about having "96% of FTE Sped staff positions filled by start of school" and yet they say they have 19 more to fill and hope to have 10 more by the start of school.  And, that last year they had 42 at the start of school.

What exactly does that all mean?  They will hire 10 more people by Thursday?  And what's the actual number this year?

Also, they mention SEAAC but not the Sped PTSA.  Not good.


end of update

Tentative Agreement in Teachers Strike: Stay Tuned

Per this Slog entry about not getting ahead of ourselves, there is this Tweet from SPS:

The union members also need time to be informed and vote.  

This is true; leadership may not like the deal but the members do have to vote.

From SPS Communications:

Bargaining teams from Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association have reached a tentative agreement to end the strike. Both teams worked diligently all day Monday and overnight, with a shared goal of getting the district’s 53,000 students back into 97 schools. The tentative agreement was reached just before 7 a.m. today.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The District Has No Money: What Should Go to Support Classrooms?

I ask you - if there is "no money" and yet all the issues under discussion for the teachers contract have not been addressed (and it's not just teacher pay), what should we cut?

To open the discussion, here's what was said in another thread:
I believe most of our teachers care about students, but not SEA. SEA is shamelessly using our kids as pawns. I don't think SPS should give in at this point. I also think their needs to be a drastic reduction in staff at the district's headquarters. This strike is showing the worst of both sides with our kids stuck in the middle.

Insanity wins

Melissa Westbrook said...

Is it "give in" or settle or find compromise and consensus? I wonder.
Insanity says, both sides are digging in for their points, not doing what is best for kids (and stop me, Insanity, if I have it wrong).

Latest Update from SPS on Teacher Contract Negotiations - NO SCHOOL ON TUESDAY

Update:  From SPS' Negotiation page, a long chart of the timeline of events and issues put forth.  Interesting reading.

end of update

West Seattle Blog Tweet:

District is studying new SEA offer, but NO SCHOOL TOMORROW, per district @ 3 pm briefing.

Free Food for Striking Teachers

Via the Slog:

Teachers are no doubt building up an appetite marching on the picket line. In support of all the Seattle Public School teachers currently on strike, Li’l Woody’s is offering a free burger to teachers for each the day the strike continues. Burgers are available at both of Li'l Woody's locations on Capitol Hill and in Ballard.
"Li’l Woody’s is glad to be able to help in some way by giving free burgers to those out there doing the hard work of educating kids in Seattle," says owner Marcus Lalario


Here are the details: For each day the strike goes on, SPS teachers are eligible for one free burger. Each teacher must show SPS identification and be present to order (so, no "group" orders). Add-ons, substitutions—and fries—are extra. 

And Seattleites, if you'd like to throw a little love back at Lalario for this move, his latest restaurant, Fat's Chicken and Waffles, is now open in the Central District.
 

Where Are the Teachers Strike Negotiations?

From KPLU's Kyle Stokes, a low-tech assessment about salary increases for SPS teachers  (looks pretty close except for the when):



Stokes added (later):  Adding a caveat to my little legal pad table: the 1.8% state COLA in '16-17 is one-time Embedded image permalink

Want to Know More About SPS Teacher Pay?

A former teacher has compiled so much data, she created a blog for called:

SPS Salary Info for Contract Negotiations 

Unfortunately, I don't know who this person is (see bio at end) but the material (and tone) is such that I believe this is another Meg Diaz-type person who likes being in the weeds.

I present it for public information purposes but ask that if you see flaws/enhancements, etc. that you add them.  The first sentence below is indicative of the issue before us in how BOTH the district and the SEA have not clearly stated their salary issues.

ALL of this is publicly available information, but it's not presented in an understandable form anywhere.

There are some additional minor "quirks" of calculating the salary tables, but I do not currently have the information to add those (TRI actually breaks down further into time (per diem) and responsibility). Based on the accuracy of the results I got from using these formulas to re-calculate the 2014-2015 salary schedule, I believe they have little to no effect on such short-term projections.

None of the salary schedules take into account rising health care deductions, which have reduced teachers' take home pay over the years. Small yearly adjustments to TRI in lieu of nonexistent COLA increases have not kept teachers' take home pay from going backwards. It also doesn't change the fact that the contract often does not protect teachers from having more and more duties pushed on them over time, resulting in doing more work for the same (or less) money. This also means teachers have to spend even more time outside their normal workday prepping and doing all the "little things" they don't have time for anymore during the day.




About me: I am a parent of one graduate of SPS and one current student. I have a Master's Degree in education and teaching certification from another state. (I am not teaching currently.) Transparency is very important to me when it comes to our public institutions. I have pretty darn good math and Excel skillz, and the tenacity to chase down and make this info available. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Seattle Teachers Strike Activities

Update: I took down a recent post from a teacher upon request (and learning that the teacher, despite having put it on Facebook, didn't want it made public).  A lesson for all.  I normally check to see if an author wants something printed but took the word of the individual who had taken off a Facebook page.

Please help me by not assuming that something that is "public" elsewhere can then be printed here.

Monday, September 14th, Rally at JSCEE at 8:30 am

Seattle Public School families, please join Special Ed teachers, ESAs, students and families to tell the district we won't allow them to divide us against one another. Wear red and bring signs that speak to our need for lower caseloads for our ESAs and better staffing ratios for our ACCESS students! Let them know we care about educating ALL our students and want to set our teachers up to succeed.

Also tomorrow, Monday, September 14th at JSCEE from 8 am to noon:

Join us for this district wide time of community as we gather to show Dr. Nyland and the School Board that we will not be subject to their familiar tactics of divide and conquer. We are a team with our teachers and SEA. We demand nothing less from Dr. Nyland and the board. We want him at the table, negotiating as a professional, not threatening and game playing, no more bait and switch, come to the table and settle the issues from MAY. A fair and equitable contract, nothing else will do.

We will gather PEACEFULLY. Bring food, chalk, bubbles, musical instruments, crafts, books, paper, markers etc. School is IN. Wear your red! Come be in community and solidarity with other families as we send Dr. Nyland a message. Let's show him that we are fierce and that we will not back down. Our teachers have given us a huge gift. OPPORTUNITY. We can't let them down, we can't let our children down. 


Stay all day, stay for an hour. But please come. Consider using Metro if you have transit friendly kiddos! Or light rail, or car pool. Otherwise give yourself time to park. There is a slight chance of rain. Bring rain gear, tarps, canopies, tents if you have them. Questions? Message me or email rsbookwriter@gmail.com.


Editor's note: You will not be allowed into JSCEE so you will be outside on the lawn area.  Also, parking can sometimes be tough in the front but there is a back parking lot that the public can use.

Tuesday, September 15th, 10 AM March on Tuesday from Pioneer Square to JSCEE: https://www.facebook.com/events/1495868097400202/

We are marching to support our teachers! Parents, student, teachers, and all those who wish to show your support, let's keep the pressure on the district to come to an agreement.

We will gather in Pioneer Square, at the corner of Yesler and 1st, at 10am. We will march down 1st Avenue to Lander Street (about 1.7 miles) to end at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (2445 3rd Ave S) as a demonstration of support for our teachers who are asking for changes that are fair and reasonable, as well as in the best interest of our children. Families are encouraged to stay for a "play-in" on the district lawn until noon. Please bring toys/musical instruments/chalk/etc.

We are wearing red to support our teachers. Bring signs with your school's name and colors to show the district how many families and teachers are affected by their inaction.

Seattle Schools Closed Monday, the 14th

Update:  I did ask, "If both sides do reach an agreement by Sunday night, could school start on Monday morning?"  The answer was no and that would be because of transportation issues.

As well, all kindergarteners will be attending the first day of school that everyone else starts on.

end of update.

Latest update: Seattle Schools will be closed tomorrow.

Still in negotiations (don't know what time they started today).  It seems they are getting closer but only incrementally.

There was a new salary offer made today (no real details as we were given an old handout.  I don't get it).

All snow days are used up (there were three) but this is a year where the district has a full-week mid-winter break so days could come out out of that.  It was stated it could impact graduation dates but no specific were given.

Talk to Your Kids about Using the Internet

Embedded image permalink
Raising a Digital Citizen via Edutopia

Also, would YOU want someone to print what you are just about to print about YOU?


How Seattle Schools Used to Teach

 Found these at the Seattle Public Library's book sale.  You'll see that a couple are from Seattle Schools (from 1943 and 1955) plus the treasure that is the 1906 Chief Sealth High School Yearbook.  (I will likely gift the yearbook.)

Things That Make You Go, Hmm...

Second Strike Update: As of an hour ago, SEA says no movement on negotiations.  I'm going to go to the press conference that is to be held at 3 pm.

(Strike update: nothing from SEA as of 10:15 am today, Sunday the 13th; SPS has a press conference today at 3 pm.  Maybe they are hoping there will be something to say then.)

1) In some of the biggest news for public education in Washington State - namely, that the Governor is assembling a "work group" to get McCleary done AND doesn't want the overturned charter law part of the discussion (AND he still doesn't support charter schools) - and yet the Seattle Times has said nothing.  Zero. Zip.  (At least I can't find it.)

The Stranger reported it.  The Puget Sound Business Journal reported it.  And that was two days ago.  But the Times has time to write about the Justices who sit on the Supreme Court.  Hmm...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Whatever Your Feelings about the Strike....

Final update for today: As of 20 minutes ago, both sides have stopped for the day (and that's been a long day) and will start again tomorrow.

KPLU is reporting - @kystokes: JUST IN: @seapubschools puts new offer on the table with 'funds to address the 20 minute addition in the student day.' #SPSstrike #waedu

end of update.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Seattle Schools Needs to Listen to OTs

Better Bargaining Needed Now for ALL in Seattle Public Schools!

The Seattle teacher's strike is very much in the news and for important reasons - but there is much more to the story that needs to be told. For years, the Occupational Therapists (OTs), Physical Therapists (PTs), and Speech Therapists (SLPs) in the district have been working without contractual caseload limits in place, unlike in other districts, where corresponding increases in staff hiring occurs regularly along with increases in student population in order to maintain manageable workloads and satisfactory levels of Special Education (SpEd) service provision. Several years ago, a lack of adequately providing such services in Seattle and meeting the legal compliance standards involved led to the filing of many complaints by parents and the eventual intervention by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) which is still currently underway.

Central Area Fun for All Tomorrow

Imagine the freedom of riding your bike, walking, or rolling down the street with family, friends and neighbors car-free and care free! This summer, you can explore the Central District via a 7 mile route while experiencing neighborhood parks full of fun activities like the Central District Block Party!

Inslee Not Calling Special Session - Doesn't Back Charters

Yet.  This from The Stranger:

Today, Governor Jay Inslee admitted to the outlaw nature of our current state government in a letter (.PDF) to all state legislators that, among other things, says flatly that Olympia's standing is eroding "with Washingtonians who expect we will support public education and live by the rule of law." 

 After three years of them not living by the rule of law, that's a bit of an understatement.

But given this concern for how he and others in Olympia are now perceived, will the governor call a special session right now to find the money for Washington public schools that's still needed in order to get himself and the legislature on the right side of the Washington constitution?

After all, what's still needed for schools is around $2.6 billion—a large amount, true, but only a fraction of the $8.7 billion Inslee gave Boeing in tax breaks during a very speedy special session called in 2013. (That, by the way, was the largest tax break ever given to any private company by any state, and as it was being handed out lawmakers and the governor knew they simultaneously needed billions for education. In other words, they found $8.7 billion for Boeing in a few days but have spent years not-finding a smaller number of billions for public schools, even though a decent public education is "the paramount duty" of our state under the Washington constitution.) According to today's letter from the governor, the answer to the question of whether he will call a special session for education right now is no—for now.


No special session (as some lawmakers want) to help out charter schools now that our state's charter schools law has been found to unconstitutionally use public money for private schools. (Inslee doesn't support charter schools, anyway.) And no immediate special session to find the billions he and lawmakers still need for Washington's public schools. 

Strike Update Pages

Second update:  from SEA:

After productive talks w/mediators today, both sides have agreed to resume negotiations Saturday.

 Update: SPS had a press conference.  According to West Seattle Blog Tweets,

SPS Updates

 Update from Twitter via SPS:
The ACT exams scheduled for tomorrow at Franklin & Nathan Hale will still be held. Not impacted by strike.

end of update

Both President Carr's community meeting and the Board Retreat (scheduled for tomorrow, Sept. 12th) have been cancelled.  What a surprise.  Don't know when Carr will be available again; the Retreat is rescheduled for Sept. 26th.

There is another district press conference with updates on the strike at 3 pm.  I may not be able to make it but again, will track -via Twitter- any new information.

Listened to both the KUOW Week in Review and their noon show as both talked about the strike (and charter schools, remember them?).

First, I actually like the people at Washington Policy Center as people but man, there is NOTHING they won't say to promote ed reform.  Paul Guppy was on the Week in Review and he had some whoppers:

- He said the strike was the "nuclear option."

- He says that Aviation High and the Tri-Cities Delta High may be improperly funded with state funds because they aren't overseen by an elected board (as charters are not).  I may be wrong but I thought both those had oversight by Superintendent Dorn; I'll ask his office.

- He echoed something a charter parent had tweeted to me which was that parents don't care how the money gets into the schools.  Well, I can only say that taxpayers do and frankly, I think that is the lens that the Supreme Court should be looking thru.

- He said there are charters in 41 other states and "no controversy" with them.  He said that as the 300th charter school failed in Florida and Ohio and Arizona are overrun with poorly-run charters. Unfortunately it was radio so I could not see if he made that statement with a straight face.

- Eric Barnett made the point that charters are limited and not every can access them (probably because they either are not in their region and/or there is not transportation to access them).  Guppy answer is that there should be no cap.

- He also said that the teachers at Pride Prep were "volunteers."  I think he meant they made the choice to be in a charter school but then again, anyone who applies for a teaching job is making a choice where they want to work.

- He also said - and I think very disrespectfully - that charter parents are "voluntarily engaged."  Well, the hundreds of thousands of dollars that Seattle PTAs pour into their buildings?  Also voluntary.  Just because a parent makes a choice about where to send their kid does not make them more involved in their child's school.

- On McCleary, he said that the Legislature had increased funding by 19% which he hastened to say "wasn't everything" but that the "Legislature made a big sacrifice" and that was the view of "a lot of lawmakers."  That "sacrifice" is our money, not the lawmakers.  Another reason why we need a total overhaul of state funding.

- Essex Porter said that the charter school parents were registering their kids as homeschoolers but I'm not exactly sure how that would work.

According to OSPI:
RCW 28A.200.011(1) states that each person whose child is receiving home-based instruction under RCW 28A.225.010(4) must file annually a signed declaration of intent that he or she is planning to cause his or her child to receive home-based instruction. The declaration is to be filed by September 15 of the school year or within two weeks of the beginning of any public school quarter, trimester, or semester with (1) the superintendent of the public school district within which the parent resides, or (2) the superintendent of a nonresident public school district that accepts the transfer, in which case, the student is considered a transfer student of the nonresident district. 

You'll note that phrase "home-based instruction."  What part of going to a charter school is home-based?  As well, tick-tock because if all the charter students want to try this route, they have until next Tuesday to get it done.  They are already three weeks in so that date is the final one.

Huge showing at "read-in" at Alki Beach today.

Teachers Strike from Parents' View

On KUOW, they are discussing the strike.  They opened with a single parent who was said she supported the teachers' goal but the strike was too hard on parents. 

Paul Guppy at the Washington Policy Center called the strike the "nuclear option" and said "grownups" should work things out.  He was challenged on blaming teachers more than the district and he demurred (and yet had nothing to say about the district and their role in this).

Parents, I have heard that many of you are very unhappy.  It is now day three of the strike.  So some questions:

- do you support the teachers' goals (and that is not just about salary)?
- how long can the strike go on before you think there will be hard feelings between parents and teachers?
- what should parents do to push the district AND SEA to get it done?


Teacher Salary Information

The Seattle Times' latest story on the strike provides some real numbers on the salary offer for teachers and I hope they illuminate the issue.

SEA
- Wants 5% raise this school year
- 5.5% 2016-2017
- 4.8% over the next two years from state (remembering that the state-funded amount is about 75% of teachers' salaries) for a COLA

( I can't seem to find what the SEA wants for 2017-2018; I think it's about 3.5%.)

District
- 2% this school year
- 3.2% the year after
- 4% in 2017-2018
- plus state COLA

Teachers did not get a COLA for the last 6 years even though there was an 2000 initiative requiring the Legislature to do that.

They also lost ground over the rising costs of healthcare.

From KUOW:

And it does come down to the district. The state didn’t raise its base pay – stuck at $34,048 for a starting teacher – for six years. The state finally raised the base pay by 2 percent this summer.

So teachers bargain with their districts for raises and money on top of the base. They would be doing this even if the state did raise its base, Wood said, which means salaries have increased at a sluggish pace.

That extra money is usually called TRI pay, for time, responsibility and incentive. Some districts give teachers that extra money without strings attached. Others demand that teachers work or take classes during the summer to earn that extra amount. Unions call that “more pay for more work."





Friday Open Thread

Good morning.

If you have the chance - either live or later on - I'd say listen to the discussion at KUOW of the strike which is likely to be the topic of their Weekly News Roundup.  (As well as the charter school ruling but the strike has taken front stage.)  It should be a lively discussion and taking of the public pulse.  (That said, when KUOW discusses K-12 public ed, I'm always shouting to the radio, "Wrong, wrong, wrong."  It's sad they don't try harder.)

What can you do for the teachers strike?
- go to the Soup for Teachers Facebook page and support those efforts

- write to the Board - that is the number one group to put pressure on - not the Superintendent.   SPSDirectors@seattleschools.org

- Use social media. Tell your friends on Facebook that you support the teachers b/c it is NOT just about money. It's about recess, testing, race/equity, support staff.  All things teachers are fighting about FOR kids in their classrooms.

- Point out that both the teachers' healthcare costs have gone up and that, for example, Superintendent Nyland makes more than the Governor.  (The district is saying that Seattle teachers are among the highest paid in the state.  That may be true but a house in Pasco averages about $163K while one in Seattle is over $500K.  Are we going to be a city where teachers can't live where they work?

- Use Twitter and, for right now, use #SPSstrike.  Teachers use: #ITeachBecause and tell your story.

 A great event is starting this weekend - the Seattle Design Festival.  It goes on until the 25th and several kid-related events coming including playground design and school building design.

There's an installation in Pioneer Square’s Occidental Mall and Park between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm this Saturday, September 12th and Sunday, September 13th at the Seattle Design Festival Block Party, a two-day street fair celebrating Seattle’s diverse design community.

Also of note for the weekend at the Festival (from UW's CSE department):

This weekend, people of all ages and abilities are invited to discover the Universal Play Kiosk presented by UW CSE’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology as part of the Seattle Design Festival. In keeping with the festival’s theme, “Design for Equity,” the Universal Play Kiosk provides a configurable space designed to facilitate equal participation of all.

The kiosk, which is a partnership between the Taskar Center, Gensler Design Firm and Hoffman Construction Co., creates an immersive, collaborative environment that truly integrates children and adults with special needs. The modular structure accommodates wheelchairs and other assistive devices, is adjustable on the fly to welcome individuals of varying abilities, and provides rich sensory stimulation through colors, shadows, textures and sounds.

A quick thank-you to all who are coming to the blog - the numbers have been thru the roof.  Glad to have you here.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What if the WA Supreme Court Just Shut ALL Schools Down?

There's the provocative question that Jen Graves over at The Stranger Slog asks.

She's asking about how to properly fund our schools and gives an interesting history about how it happened in New Jersey (which funds their schools very well) and finally got that state to an income tax.

It was something I noticed in a Slate story from earlier this summer about our situation here in Washington, and it bears repeating: "When, in 1976, New Jersey was in a similar situation [to Washington], the Supreme Court shut down the schools for eight days. The fruits of that conflict remain with New Jerseyites to this day, for the need to fund schools more fairly is what led New Jersey in 1976 to adopt a state income tax for the first time."

It made me wonder the following things.

1. Does the Washington State Supreme Court have the authority to shut down schools across the state right now?

2. Is that story about New Jersey really true? Did New Jersey pass the state's first-ever (and enduring) income tax because it had no other way to get its schools up and running after its Supreme Court put its foot down?

3. Has the income tax solved the problem of chronic school underfunding in New Jersey?

4. If the answer to all those questions is yes, then why isn't the Washington State Supreme Court shutting down our schools to force the hand of the Governor and Legislature right now?

I made a few calls, and guess what? The answer to those first three questions is pretty much yes.

SPS to Hold Press Conference at 3:30 pm on Strike

From West Seattle Blog (uh oh, there's some digging in here):

Rich Wood from SEAwas in room when district's brief briefing ended. He said SEA won't resume talks unless district indicates that it's ready to give. SEA *did* respond to Tues. offer, he contends - by declaring the strike.

Update from Kyle Stokes at KPLU: 

STRIKE: It's official — no classes in tomorrow as strike continues. 

There is also no further discussion about SPS going to court.

And some clarification on the mediator who apparently talking to both sides but neither side is talking to each other.  Oh dear.


end of update

Unfortunately, I saw this press release 20 minutes too late and I can't get there in time.  Will check Tweets from Kyle Stokes at KPLU for updates when press conference starts.

How Governor Candidates Stack up on K-12

Interesting chart from Education Week (it includes the both Dem former governor candidates, Lincoln Chaffee and Martin O'Malley) who appear to have done better than their Republican counterparts.




































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Thursday Strike Updates

There's a mediator and hopefully, both sides are talking thru this person.  Cross your fingers.

There are still many schools that need support from parents and community.  Check out the list at Soup for Teachers.  They now have over 1600 members.  I myself walked over to the Roosevelt teachers and told them they were welcome to come and use my bathroom anytime today. 

A Parent Petition about what parents want from the contract.  They have over 4500 signatures.


From the West Seattle blog:
If the Seattle Public Schools teacher strike continues through the end of the week, please join West Seattle educators and families on Friday afternoon from 12:30-3:00 for an Alki Beach Read-In after a morning of community service in honor of September 11th (check with educators from individual schools for project specifics). ALL families are welcome! We are coordinating with multiple schools for this event and hope to have a great turnout.

Please bring your books, blankets, and back-to-school momentum! Meet near the Statue of Liberty on Alki Beach. Let’s spend the afternoon reading together as we show that we ALL want to be back in school.

Wear red – see you there!

You’re encouraged to RSVP so organizers have an idea of how many people to expect – you can do that here.


32nd Democrats
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 32nd Legislative District Democratic Organization (LDDO) stands in support of SEA contract proposals and also acknowledges appreciation of School Board Director Sue Peters’ opposition to Superintendent Nyland’s legal threat against Seattle educators; and

THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 32nd LDDO urges the Seattle School Board to agree to the SEA contract proposals.

Olympic View
Olympic View - S.E.A. teachers and staff will be holding a food drive on Friday, September 11 from 9:30-3:30 at the following locations
Store Locations:
Safeway: 7300 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle 98115
QFC: 11100 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle 98125
Fred Meyer: 13000 Lake City Way NE, Seattle 98125

Please come support our teachers. The food collected during this drive will be donated to the local food banks that serve families in our community.

Good article on the strike from Common Dreams.

Sacajawea.
Teachers are meeting to discuss Saturday's Playground Work Day.
The school district will not allow the the teachers to assist on the work day. If they work, they will be told to stop and could face punishment.
The teachers agreed to show up and stay on public property with water for parent volunteers.

Dancing Highland Park Teachers ( who will be at the Salvation Army tomorrow for public service).

School Board Candidates and the Teachers Strike

This is a thread for any and all School Board candidates who would like to make a statement about the strike. Please e-mail me at sss.westbrook@gmail.com with your statement (which I will print in full with no edits).  Or, put your statement in the Comments section.

I myself would not necessarily hold it against any candidate who does not make a statement; that's their choice during an election. But I will offer this opportunity.

Jill Geary said this on Facebook:

I have been getting inquiries as to whether I support our teachers and how I would have vote as a school board member. Of course, I do not currently sit on the board, and am not privy to all the information - but, from what I know of the issues and my personal beliefs, I could not see voting yes to bring legal action against our teachers. The parents I have heard from want our teachers supported and are willing to make sacrifices to see they are treated fairly as they stand up for our kids!!! As a school board representative, I would see it as my job to bring Seattle's families' voices to the table.

Leslie on right w/Chief Sealth teachers
I also note that both Geary and Leslie Harris have been walking and supporting teachers in their respective districts.








Food Geary bought at Costco for teachers.