Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Open Thread

 Update: Students at Chief Sealth are fighting to keep their wood-shop class from being cut.  From the West Seattle blog:
Wood shop, they explained, is the last shop class at Sealth. Teacher Nan Johnson is an inspiration, they told us, mentoring students, giving them the chance to express their creativity while mastering real-world skills during the wood-shop work – calculating measurements, using tools, overseeing projects.
All of the students who spoke with us said it would be a mistake to remove this class from the curriculum – and remember, they’re seniors, so they’re campaigning on behalf of students coming up behind their class.
 They also have an online campaign going, with almost 200 names and a space for community comments – find it here. The final decision is expected next Wednesday; we’ll be following up.
 end of update

The Times is reporting some local doctors have their own (controversial) plan for vaccinations.  Namely, they pick the one disease that they think is the most worrisome (to woo anti-vaxxers) and say that should be good enough.  That disease would be measles.  I can only say that I recall there have been several serious outbreaks of whooping cough across the nation.  As well, until polio is truly eradicated off the face of the earth, the polio vaccination is vital. 

Interesting article from the Huffington Post on teen sexuality.
The New York-based J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group found that 48 percent of “Generation Z,” defined as those between the ages of 13 and 20, identified themselves as “exclusively heterosexual.” This represents a much smaller proportion than the 65 percent of millennials (those between the ages of 21 and 34) who identified as such, the poll revealed. 

Fifty-six percent of respondents between the ages of 13 and 20 said they knew someone who went be gender-neutral pronouns, such as “they” and “them.”
Students from Hale will be featured on an NBC news segment this weekend, speaking on why they aren't getting driver's licenses.  Only about 60% of high school students in the U.S. have their driver's licenses.

Marvel Comics is working with the National Academy of Sciences' Science and Entertainment Exchange on a new program for girls.
Marvel is partnering with the National Academy of Sciences’ Science & Entertainment Exchange for a program in which girls ages 15 to 18 and in grades 10 through 12 can submit projects they believe can change the world with a short video that demonstrates their idea and explains its far-reaching potential.

Entries will be accepted through March 26. For applications and more information about the program, visit
No Saturday community meetings with directors.

What's on your mind?


Jet City mom said...

I think its interesting that fewer kids have drivers licenses in high school-but this trend has been coming for a while.
School districts, not just Seattle have eliminated drivers ed.
More kids are going to college, and you shouldn't need a car in college, as well as dropping drivers ed, leaves more room for sports and other courses.( granted if you attend Carlton you may want a car, but even my nieces that attended Colgate didnt feel the need for a car, what with ride sharing and car2go.)
Gas/ins/vehicles are expensive, to run and maintain. Plus traffic.
Neither of my kids got their license until they were in their early 20's and neither has ever had their own car.
And of course in Seattle, much of the new housing does not have off street parking, although just this week Ive seen how difficult that can be when for example someones sewer line breaks , and the pumper truck cant get close enough. If they could use a driveway that would be a easy fix, but when the cars are all parked legally on the street, you can't exactly have them towed.

Catherine said...

The lack of a driver's license is both a safety issue as well as a jobs issue. If your child can't drive - and they're in a situation where they must - they're stuck. Say you're traveling to/from college and your "ride" has two drinks at lunch... your kid gets to ride with an impair driver, be stuck in Dusty WA, or drive the car themselves. Also - every job my son has had since he turned 16 required a license... not that he drove on the job necessarily (though he did drive semis and tractors on the farm), but they required him to have the ability to drive.

It can be future limiting. And imagine being a recent college grad, you want a job in your field, and you don't qualify until you have the license. And, we're seeing that drivers that start at 18 are less safe than those who start at 16.

Being able to drive, and owning a car are different things. My son didn't have a car at college until almost all the way through 4th year when weddings and jobs in towns 100+ miles from campus changed the dynamics.

Eric B said...

As I understood the 16 vs. 18 driver safety question, it appeared to be that drivers who got their license at 18 tended to have little or no driver's ed (because of class costs) or experience before they could get an unrestricted license, rather than that there was something inherently worse about getting a license at 18.

Lynn said...

From a Customer Satisfaction Survey published in the Friday Memo:

Please name any staff members from TEACHING & LEARNING that deserve special commendations for their customer service, creativity, and professionalism.

A principal's response:

None. All I can say is that the approach of Teaching and Learning toward instruction and pedagogy is a giant smoke screen based on compliance and professional development divorced from what really takes place in schools, especially those schools serving those students least likely to be successful. The only words that can express this - since these are smart people - is moral cowardice.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, holy cow! What a statement.

Outsider said...

What reason was given for cutting wood shop from a Seattle high school?

Lynn said...

I expect projected enrollment is down at Sealth next year. That would mean staff cuts.

Anonymous said...

It is budget related (newer West Seattle Blog update clarifies) although the petition link suggests additional and/or related reasons are the combination of Denny/Sealth 6 years ago resulting in a smaller shop space and a lack of the principal's support.

At the budget part is clearer with a quote - "Yesterday the teachers voted not to approve the budget that eliminated wood shop. If the district says that the school has to take the budget, then they could still eliminate wood shop."


Anonymous said...

While the principal's statement is harsh, it's not a surprise. This is anecdotal, but my experience with good SPS principals is that they try to seem cooperative with the district while working to protect their students and school FROM the district.

This is a district that merges low FRL% schools with high FRL% schools, causing the students in need of additional resources to lose those resources.

It's a district that moves SpEd kids and programs around on a whim.

It's a district that is making room for city pre-K when there isn't enough space for K-12 students.

It's a district that spent a huge amount of money developing a pre-K plan with the city, when there isn't enough money for basics for student learning, like teachers.

It's a district that come October, when counts are in, tells schools, kidnapper-ransom-note-style, the school has x amount of time to come up with the money for a teacher or they'll lose the teacher.

It's a district that has bounced HCC around and divided it without ever quite seeing that apart from serving a group of kids, HCC is an incredibly useful capacity management tool that helps keep the north end capacity situation from falling apart completely (kids from the most crowded schools go to HCC in the highest numbers).

None of these issues - which have substantial negative effect on district students - are school-based decisions. These are district-level decisions, decisions that Teaching & Learning gets a huge say in. "Moral cowardice" might be a gentle, relatively positive way of putting it.

-Not harsh enough

Concerned said...

I am a parent at Stevens and has recently learned that there is a group of students who have been physically and verbally bullying students for years. They use over the top sexual language and physically abuse students. The answer to this is for the principal Coleen Stump to have the 5th grade sing anti-bully songs and quote district policy.
The principal and district is doing nothing for the victims of this behavior and seem more concerned that the bullies are treated fairly. The principal in her recent email said she would speak with students about false reporting.
Enough is enough with the utter disregard for a normal approach, which would be to remove the know bullies from class. It is more important to protect the kids from bullies and allow the teachers to teach the class instead of having to deal with kids that are openly disrespectful.
I and a group of parents are going to hire a lawyer and contact the Seattle police. We need to protect our kids first and not the bullies.

Anonymous said...

Seattle Times examines why Massachusetts schools are out performing Washington schools.


-- Dan Dempsey

CSIHS Parent said...

The decision to cut woodshop at Chief Sealth came down to funding decision where $100,000 needed to be cut from 2016-17 budget. The choice came down to woodshop or keeping the IB program. The Building Leadership Team chose the IB program. In my mind, no school should have to choose between 2 quality programs that are directly tied to students' college and/or career readiness. Both of these programs are valued by students, families and staff and our school suffers a great loss should either be cut. As I understand it Chief Sealth is 1 of 3 high schools with IB and 1 of 3 with woodshop. It is time for the district to step up and provide funding to continue IB at Chief Sealth, Ingraham and Rainier Beach.

Anonymous said...

It is wrong for the district to not pay the costs of an academic program - IB - that it has placed in a school. The IB program has been used by the district to enhance a number of schools, but the program has extra costs. Those are simply academic costs and it's wrong to not provide that money to the schools. All the IB schools are dealing with the same problem, except RB since it is still getting money from the district for "start-up costs", but that funding is scheduled to end soon.
It's wrong for the district to place programs and then not pay for them.


Anonymous said...

Momof2, Note the programs funded in Massachusetts. WA according to the WA Supreme Court is violating the constitutional right of many students to a suitable education. The Washington legislature does not support the educational provisions mandated in the Constitution.

This should not be confused with the SPS failure to serve certain students.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Not to diminish the impact that some students can have on their peers, but they are all kids and kids first. Bullying is a behavior and needs to be addressed, and I have no experience at Stevens so I can't comment on the ways it's being done there but really, direct your action at the adults, support them to implement a better anti-bullying campaign but stop demonizing children.


Outsider said...

Still wondering -- is Chief Sealth actually losing budget, and does that mean declining enrollment? How did that happen, with every other school seemingly complaining about lack of space, and West Seattle being stuffed with condo-boxes as fast as they can figure out how?

Or was it a case of some other budget line item growing faster than the student population, squeezing out the wood shop?

Maureen said...

I don't know the exact situation at Sealth, but the fact is that once the District start up money for IB is withdrawn, every IB school has to draw the "excess" expense of IB from somewhere in the building's budget. Excess expenses (over and above having a teacher in front of every 32 or so kids) include: an IB coordinator (full time for the large IHS program), teacher time for the Theory of Knowledge class which is taught outside the regular school day to all diploma candidates (five sections at IHS, so basically one teacher), IB fees (same for all schools?), teacher training costs (variable), sub time for covering classes during exams, cost of renting desks from the District for during exams (yes they charge the schools for that!), and probably other things I am missing. At IHS, that adds up to something like $250,000 that has to come out of the building discretionary funds and by having class sizes larger than they would be otherwise. I have not included other things like subsidies for students to pay for the exams (which cost hundreds per year) or any extra text book costs at IHS the parent group fundraises for some of those costs.

SPS counts on these schools to balance capacity throughout the District. From what I understand, IHS draws something like 500 students who would otherwise be at severely overcrowded HSs. SPS clearly is counting on Rainier Beach to do the smae in the coming years. The District needs to acknowledge the value of the IB program and pay for it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

On the Chief Sealth woodshop issue, Director Harris is well-aware of the issue and will probably be asking some hard questions.

Franklin continues to be underenrolled as does Cleveland and it's a mystery why some high schools have to be packed like sardines while others do want theirs to at least be full.

Anonymous said...

Bullying needs to be addressed while simultaneously ensuring the safety of the bully's victim. Removing a child who is harming others is not equivalent to demonizing them.

I would also consider calling in the police if this were happening to my child and the school did not adequately respond immediately.

Safety First

Anonymous said...

Remove them - and put them where? Someone else's school? I agree schools should have, and implement, a policy that addresses any and specifically egregious forms of bullying but it sounds like you want to have 10 year old arrested for being 'openly disrespectful'. How does this help the troubled student? I would hope the school administration sees their responsibility is to help both students.


Anonymous said...

Check out this website for an explaination of why labeling kids and expulsion is not helpful. It also has good advice for dealing with bullying generally.

Concerned said...

Helping both students equally is absurd. The victim comes first. 2boysclub you cannot be serious. We need to hold the bully accountable to their behavior and protect the bullied from future abuse.
Of course they are children and need help, but the problem is the district and parents don't hold their children accountable to their actions. Your absolutely right in that the blame should be addressed to bad parenting. Too often parents don't want to admit that their child is a bully or disrespectful. They want to think every one else is the problem instead of their failing at parenting.
There needs to be more aggressive intervention and help for the bully at an early age. The problem at Stevens was these kids had no limits for years and now use physical force against younger and smaller sudents. What's message does that send the child who is being bullied when they are punched or kicked and we don't protect them because we are concerned about the bullies future. What about the victims future.
Not only does the bully harm the individual student, but the entire school suffers, because that bully is often disruptive to the class an th teacher has to take time away from teaching to deal with this child.

Concerned said...

Yes maybe the police need to be called when the bully punches or physically harm another student if the district won't protect them maybe we should..