Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Open Thread

From the great West Seattle Blog, a comprehensive wrap-up of the discussion at Director Harris' community meeting. 

I was in Olympia yesterday to work with Washington's Paramount Duty, visiting legislators.  Boy, that place was hopping.  You'll be glad to know that nearly all the legislators we visited are just flummoxed by trying to figure out how to fund McCleary.  But no one particularly wants to worry about it this session.

I testified at the Senate Committee for K-12 Education which was hearing input on several bills including SB 6195, the "plan with a plan" for McCleary.  There were really only a couple of groups that truly supported the bill and those were LEV, the Washington State School Board Directors Association and the Association of Washington Business.  LEV's testimony was in sharp contrast to nearly every other speaker as they said it was "gratifying" that this bill had a "sense of urgency."

There were a lot of "other" testimony (meaning, not "pro" or "con") saying thanks for the effort but
1) there should be some money in there and there isn't and that's another year of public education in Washington State that isn't fully funded
2) that districts will find it hard to budget for 2017-2018 with little to go on from this bill

But the star was 9-year-old Asher who attends school in SPS who came to complain about how he has to get his homework done on time so why doesn't the Legislature?  He said his building is overcrowded and they have no real playground and the boiler overheats and then they have to go outside and have their learning time interrupted.  See about minute 37.  My own testimony starts about minute 23:00.

What's on your mind?


Joseph Rockne said...

Shelter in place at Ballard.

Anonymous said...

BHS was in lock-down, and Adams and Salmon Bay were in shelter-in-place. Looks like things are returning to normal now though. (Go to Seattle Police Twitter for the latest).

Ballard Parent.

Anonymous said...

Rather depressing discussion of the new book on a teacher's experience in an urban school district:


"The New York Post writes about a new book out by Ed Boland, a wealthy gay white man who decided to leave his lucrative career in mid-life and go teach some of the neediest high school kids in the city."

The original New York Port article:



Anonymous said...

2017 the legislature will be preoccupied with the rest of the budget. So, in 2016 the legislature has to pass some type of levy swap and add some new revenue to the education budget, like a minimum of a half billion.

I don't think they have to finish their work on McCleary, or have finished legislation on how the state distributes funds to ensure equity across the state, but they need to make a dent in the estimated cost.

No passed legislation, then it is summer school 2016 for the legislature.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think the Supreme Court will wait that long.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the rest of the K-2 testing is taking place this Saturday? I've sent several emails and can't get a reply. The last testing date on the website is January 23rd. If we didn't get an appointment, does that mean my child didn't qualify?


Anonymous said...

Is missing school a bigger deal in middle school than elementary? We usually take a family vacation over Thanksgiving week and have taken advantage of the week off for conferences so that our elementary kids only miss a few days of school. We will have a 6th grader next year, however, and I'm wondering how big a deal it will be if she misses 6 or so days of school leading up to Thanksgiving? It's typically our one big family vacation for the year, and we'd rather not give it up or move it to the summer months.

MS Vacation

Melissa Westbrook said...

In a word, yes, middle is more important than elementary in terms of work.

The district's policy is to leave it up to the principal so ask your principal because you may not even be able to get your child excused. (I did not support this policy because of vagaries of principals setting their own rules.)

Or, you may get your child excused but the teachers may not give him/her makeup work and their grades will suffer.

Be sure you know what the policy is at your school.

Unknown said...

Thanks Melissa. I'm not so concerned about excused absences. Both our elementary schools made all vacations unexcused this past year, but we have not seen any consequence to this. I supposed we could be subject to a truancy petition if we exceeded 10 unexcused absences for the year, but that seems unlikely. Regarding grades, do middle school grades count for anything? This could be an issue just because I suspect our child will care about grades, but is there any reason we should care? I feel confident that we can make sure our child does not fall behind even if the teachers don't provide make-up work.

MS Vacation

SeattlePublic said...

Under the McCleary decision, the Washington state Supreme Court found that the state should fund public education. The justices ruled that, “Pouring more money into an outmoded system will not succeed.' They also found that “special interests tend to distort the true picture of public school finance to expand their own budgets.”
Under this ruling, it is illegal for Seattle Public Schools to use levy money to fund teacher salaries; however, they are trying to sell this operations levy to the public by allotting 25.2% of the overall budget to just this. The literature that has been sent out to the public obfuscates this fact. Furthermore, the District says it has cut the budget of Central Administration to 5.8%, but have in actuality have separated it out of the “school administrative budget” (6.1%) In total that is almost 12%.
If the District wants to play the shell game with public dollars, it's our responsibility to reject this levy. They pull at the public's heartstrings by saying, “but it's for the children. “ But according to their lack of transparency, we aren't who the money is for. Until Seattle Public Schools can better, (and legally) account for where your levy dollars go, I would encourage a “no “ vote on this levy on February 9, 2016.
Nick Esparza

Anonymous said...

OLYMPIA — The Washington Senate has passed a bill that seeks a legal fix to the state’s charter schools in light of a state Supreme Court ruling that found the system unconstitutional.

The chamber passed Senate Bill 6194 on a 27-20 vote Wednesday, and the measure heads to the House. The bill mirrors the voter-approved 2012 initiative that created charter schools, with a change in the way the schools are financed.

Done deal

Melissa Westbrook said...

Done deal, wait for it.

dan dempsey said...

The Fordham Institute speaks on the recent all-time high in HS graduation rate.

The phoniest statistic in education

Let’s just stop pussyfooting around and say it out loud:
The “historic” peak in the country’s high school graduation rate is bullshit.

According to federal data released late last year, and dutifully trumpeted ever since (including in last night’s State of the Union address), the nation’s high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high, with 82 percent of the Class of 2014 earning a diploma. “As a result, many more students will have a better chance of going to college, getting a good job, owning their own home, and supporting a family,” crowed then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Isn’t it pretty to think so?

Yet NAEP, SAT, and ACT testing shows no similar improvement