Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday Open Thread

Interesting story on NBC last night about one of the members of Cheap Trick and his use of music to help his autistic son.  He's started a group called Rock Your Speech. Also from STAT, this story, Is the dramatic rise in autism tapering off?
CDC officials found that 1 in every 68 children in the country has an autism spectrum disorder, a rate unchanged from the last CDC survey two years ago.

And while the new findings may help counter claims that half of all children in the United States will be autistic within a decade, it’s too soon to say whether the rate has reached a plateau, CDC officials cautioned.
Here's yet another great story about the move to bring back more CTE (Career and Technical Education). The Tri-City Herald reports that the Kennewick School District's Tri-Tech Skills Center students built two "tiny" houses that will be put up for sale along with all other district surplus items.

Two tiny homes built by students at the Tri-Tech Skills Center will be sold by sealed bid after being declared surplus by the Kennewick School District. The students have been involved in all the construction, from roofing and plumbing to cabinetry and refrigeration installation.
The construction trades class is also working on two full-size homes with Habitat for Humanity.
Facebook and your child.  This blog post by parent Dave Carroll is recommended reading.  (Again, yes, I know that some believe privacy is dead but every single parents has some line they do not want crossed for their own child.)

A very sobering report on the suicide rate from the New York Times. 
Suicide in the United States has surged to the highest levels in nearly 30 years, a federal data analysis has found, with increases in every age group except older adults.
Researchers also found an alarming increase among girls 10 to 14, whose suicide rate, while still very low, had tripled. The number of girls who killed themselves rose to 150 in 2014 from 50 in 1999. “This one certainly jumped out,” said Sally Curtin, a statistician at the center and an author of the report.
“This is part of the larger emerging pattern of evidence of the links between poverty, hopelessness and health,” said Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard and the author of “Our Kids,” an investigation of new class divisions in America.
From the study referenced in the article, Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999–2014, by
Sally C. Curtin, M.A., Margaret Warner, Ph.D., and Holly Hedegaard, M.D., M.S.P.H.:
While suicide among adolescents and young adults is increasing and among the leading causes of death for those demographic groups (4), suicide among middle-aged adults is also rising (5).
On a more up note, here's the report from SPS on the 2015-2016 Conservation Champions.  There are 25 schools profiled in the report.  The efforts range from lunchroom recycling at many schools to installation of a solar panel array on the roof of Blaine to Chief Sealth's advocacy for water bottle filling stations in schools, to a beautiful mural at John Rogers made of salvaged materials, to advocacy from kids at Maple Elementary to clean up the Duwamish River, to Nathan Hale's Climate Justice Club, to Pathfinder K-8s extensive efforts throughout the school year, to the Taste of TOPS Celebration.
Join the conversation, share your stories, photos and videos on social media using the hashtag

or email the conservation team at SPSGoingGreener@seattleschools.org
Congrats to all these hardworking students and staff for their efforts!

What's on your mind?

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/education/article73706202.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/education/article73706202.html#storylink=c

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/education/article73706202.html#storylink=cpy


Anonymous said...

Any news on the Advanced Learning/HCC work session last week? Curious about what their plan is.

- Planning ahead

Anonymous said...

Anyone know why SpedPTSA April meeting cancelled with no notice?

Sped disappointed

Anonymous said...

"Anyone know why SpedPTSA April meeting cancelled with no notice?"

What is the point of attending meetings where SPS staff ask all of us to drink the phony compliance cool-aid?


mirmac1 said...

The guest for the April 25th meeting was unable to attend. The next meeting is scheduled for May 23rd and will have as guests various service providers to discuss mental health, ABA therapies, and Dyslexia services.

Planning ahead proponent said...

Any idea when the 2016-17 calendar will be available? I thought having approved calendars a year or more in advance was part of the final agreement between SEA and SPS after the strike. Any details would be appreciated.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Planning Ahead, I'll try to get that up in the next day or two but there was really no good discussion about the future.

I think the preliminary calendar did make it to the Board; I'll see if it's on the agenda for the next meeting for approval.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has done research on child suicide, I would like to clarify that teen suicide is rarely linked to poverty, particularly urban poverty. In fact, areas of urban poverty where there are higher rates of homicide have very low rates of child suicide. Teen and pre-teen suicide is much more likely in suburban and rural areas and economically stable families.


Anonymous said...

The mural at John Rodgers was done by a Hale senior. It was a part of his Hale Action Project (Senior Project). He got the whole neighborhood involved with collecting plastic bottle caps. The mural was a huge success and the neighborhood loves it.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone have first-hand experience with their child in The Center School?
My daughter is currently a 9th graders in private HS, but it's not been a good fit for her.
She's interested in the arts component and likes that the Center School is small.
We toured Garfield, but she felt overwhelmed by the size.


Anonymous said...

My son was in the first graduating class of the Center School and it was a good fit for him. He loved the arts curricula and humanities class with Jon Greenberg. The teachers were caring and knew the kids well. Not sure what the principal is like now and math is probably still weak. The inquiry type of math did not suit him at all, so that was the biggest negative. Hope the new Board is working on better math curricula.

S parent

Anonymous said...

Lots of fb posts that Carol Burton won her case and will be reinstated at Garfield. No details as of yet.

Singer's mom

GarfieldMom said...

It's true, she won! We are all waiting for details, but looking forward to having her back soon!

Watching said...

The issue of teen suicide and issues related to trauma can't be addressed soon enough.

It is past time for these issues to be addressed in a systemic fashion.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the explanation of the cancelled SpedPTSA meeting. I do not recall this happening in the past. Disappointed the evening could not have gone on with another speaker or change of agenda. Chances to meet are few for many of us.

Sped disappointed

Anonymous said...

The Seattle Times recently had an article about Civics and incorrectly stated that WA only requires that students have one week of Civics. If the reporter simply went to the state Board of Education website and looked at the Social Studies requirements she would find that for the class of 2016 & beyond a 0.5 credit of Civics is a graduation requirement. The content of the 0.5 credit civics requirement must include, but not be limited to:
(a) Federal, state, and local government organization and procedures;
(b) Rights and responsibilities of citizens addressed in the Washington state and United States
(c) Current issues addressed at each level of government; and
(d) Electoral issues, including elections, ballot measures, initiatives, and referenda.

I hope people will go to their high schools and ask how that semester class is being taught.


Erik Tanen said...

Meeting about the no confidence with The principal at Stevens Elementary. Must have been 80 parents all expressing frustration about years of problems at the school and lack of leadership.
Sara Pritchard kept giving the same answer that her hands were tied because of contracts and it could take years to remove a bad principal.
Why is it so difficult to remove an incompetent principal?

Anonymous said...

Wow, doesn't that just about say it all? A principal is known to be bad for kids, bad for parents, bad for SPS as a community partner, and her boss thinks it's ok to come out and tell parents that her hands are tied? What is her job? SPS could make it happen if they wanted to make it happen.


Anonymous said...

Oh baloney on Pritchard as usual. This blog's stalwarts can point out numerous cases of unpopular to downtown administration principals being removed or almost removed in a flash.
Think Ingraham. Think QAE.

Then there are the principals that aren't unpopular downtown but have been called out by majority parents or teachers at a site as unfit for a school or simply inept. Those people are disappeared into JSCEE to a paid desk job or transferred to an unsuspecting new school. It's unseemly but it takes care of the immediate problem from the downtown viewpoint.

What Pritchard is saying is either she hasn't done the paperwork HERSELF to deal with the Stevens situation or there's no will downtown to take the problem on and relieve the school community. Or Pritchard is acknowledging that SPS has screwed up as usual and the problems at Stevens are JSCEE's fault. So sorry kids, live with the consequences.

Do I sound cynical? Hey I've been around a decade's worth of blocks.


Anonymous said...

And another thing. What value are the executive directors other than to make life easier for Nyland and Tolley? Is the game of telephone between the Supe and a school community ever effective communication? Has Pritchard in any way helped the Stevens community through the latest debacle? Or the previous issues?

Give us a list of student benefits of these positions or cut the $1 million+ drain on the budget.


Stevens parent said...

Sara said last night that she has been working with Kelly Archer for more than a year and that she will keep working with her. As many people said that it is getting worded, so what ever Sara is doing is not helping. It was truly amazing that she could keep a straight face while parent after parent spoke about how the school was amazing 6 years ago and now it's terrible if not outright dangerous for kids.
She kept saying that she can't remove a principal who is incompetent only evaluate that person. So my kids have to suffer because of policy and procedure. What does it take a mass protest by the kids. Oh we did that last Friday. This situation is gross.

Anonymous said...

First off, the name of the Executive Director for Stevens is "Sarah Pritchett," not Pritchard.

Second, it has been absolutely true in the past that if there are strong issues with a principal, an ED can have quite a bit of leeway, in moving a principal out of the building. A few years ago, the TOPS community worked with ED Phil Brockman to move their principal out of the building. (After which she managed to do some fairly questionable stuff in another building.)

Third, Pritchett was heavily involved in the firing of Garfield Choir Director Carol Burton, and we can now all see what a fiasco that has turned out to be.

Adding in Pritchett's controversial tenure as a McClure middle school teacher, her haughty "talk to the hand" attitude... One can draw one's own conclusions about whether Pritchett should continue to be employed by the District.

Seeing the Obvious Problem

Charlie Mas said...

Principals do have contracts, but that contract only assures them of employment. It doesn't guarantee them any specific job. Principals are re-assigned ALL THE TIME and often against their will. So the Executive Director's claim that her hands are tied does not ring true. Every individual principal's contract expires on June 30. Even if nothing can be done now, the district can DEFINITELY take action at that time and can promise to take that action now. The Executive Director could announce that the principal will be replaced on July 1.

The next step is the Ombudsman. In the meantime, the community can take action.

One type of community action would be a walk-out. The families take their kids out of the school for a day and do fun and interesting lessons in the park across the street. Math, science, reading, writing, civics, P.E., and art. The weather is good; shouldn't be a problem.

Another community action would be for a lot of Stevens community members to sign up to testify at a school board meeting. Remember that testimony about personnel is not allowed, so the testimony would have to be about the terms of the principal's collective bargaining agreement and whether or not the District has the authority to remove a principal from a school. The testimony can also be about the District's commitment to openness, honesty, transparency, and responsiveness. Refer to the Strategic Plan and the Core Beliefs that appear at the beginning of it. One of those Core Beliefs is "A high performing district includes effective leadership, accountability, effective organizational systems and an engaged community". You can ask them "Is this what accountability looks like? Is this what effective leadership looks like? Is this how you engage the community?"

In the meantime, a standardized test boycott would be a great choice as an action. Not only because the district really, really hates them, but also because test scores can result in a bonus for principals.

On that topic, the community should DEFINITELY complete the school survey and give their honest view of the school's leadership. Read the CBA on the other elements that determine the principal's bonus and sandbag them.

Require the Superintendent to engage his Hot Topics Response protocol and the other promised elements from his "100-Day Plan for Customer Service". For example, he was supposed to "develop and implement a plan for creating a Listening Organization". Who's listening?

Finally, it's time to put some heat on the Executive Director and start questioning her job performance. Contact her boss with your complaints about her failure to take effective action, failure to address the school's downward spiral, and her failure to deal openly and honestly with the community. Holding the meeting doesn't earn her any points if she doesn't authentically engage people at the meeting.

Charlie Mas said...

Carol Burton won her case. Here's the Seattle Times story: Garfield High’s choir teacher to get her job back

Fed up said...

There were a few comments at the Stevens meeting last night by parents that they are uncomfortable with the current climate and are going to pull their kids out. It was followed up with what happens to Stevens if a lot if parents pull there kid's. Sara Pritchard response was " then the school will lose teachers". She has zero perception to the problems or just doesn't care. How in God's name was she made a executive director. As Kelly Archer is not competent, Pritchard is even worse. I wish I could move my kid to private school.

Anonymous said...

"Sara said last night that she has been working with Kelly Archer for more than a year and that she will keep working with her.:

So ... did this ED fail to do the performance improvement plan? Did she ignore the need to do this? Is she not accountable? Oh, I forgot, she is accountable to head-in-the-sand Tolley. Where is her performance improvement plan? It's really sickening the lack of leadership to help Stevens out of this mess. Kids are being harmed.


Anonymous said...

interesting article http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2016/04/how-capitol-hill-and-cd-students-say-seattle-public-schools-can-be-fixed/

Anonymous said...

Re: Stevens Elementary, I find it interesting that 'personnel' issues are not allowed to be discussed, but that Sarah Pritchett is allowed to say that she has been working with Kelley Archer for more than a year. Also, if Kelley Archer has been on medical leave for three months, my prediction from having been around the block a few times, is that Kelley Archer will find some way to resign at the end of the year and to save face. I don't know either of them and am not involved with Stevens. Has SPS announced their principal transfers yet for this year? Usually they announce a lot of transfers and then don't say anything but quietly do a couple more transfers. I have seen principals get transferred to bigger schools as "co-principals" and then either serve their time until retirement, or not show up and still get paid.

Ann D said...


Anonymous said...

The Public records on Stevens are telling. The SPED failures resulted in multiple due process hearings and a half dozen $$$$$ settlements.

Why are the two SPED directors still employed?

Stevens is basically in a full on mutiny and there's evidence of staff begging for help and the district sending back a big F-U.

Watching waiting

Melissa Westbrook said...

So I went to the meeting and I'm going to write a thread because Stevens is quite the case study in how an ineffective principal can hurt a school (as well as a district that turned a blind eye.)

Charlie, the new ombudsperson, Heidi Henderson-Lewis, WAS at the meeting as a kind of facilitator.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected on Pritchett's name spelling. But not on my 2 points of upper management whose salaries take money out of our classrooms and provide scant if any benefit to our schools.

In other headlines, Sarah Morris is leaving the Alliance for Education. This after SPS refused to work with the group contractually anymore, in large part based on Morris, apparently. It's taken awhile but the Corp Ed Reform crowd influence continues a downward spiral in SPS. Good.


Anonymous said...

I think medical leave is sometimes a euphemism for the process of firing in this district. I have heard this description of absence for several teachers & for 1 principal before they lost their jobs. Yes they do fire principals.

-HS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

District Watcher, thanks for the news. I note that the Alliance's annual community breakfast is next week and one of the sponsors? Washington Charter Schools Association.

Erik Tanen said...

Full on mutiny is good way to say what is happening. Kids protesting, a damming parent survey and now an organized vote of no confidence by the parents. What more does the district want from us. Maybe as Charlie suggests we should enmass take our kids out of the school.

Erik Tanen said...

There were about 140 parents show up to the meeting. We have about 350 students.

Charlie Mas said...

The District will respond to an organized group. The group can demonstrate organization by acting en masse.

A walk-out - be sure to notify the school, the district, and the media in advance - with lessons planned for the day in the park and a lunch provided.

An organized boycott of standardized tests. Again, advise the school, the district, and the media.

An organized effort to respond to the family survey in large numbers (only 27% of families responded last year).

Organize testimony at a Board meeting in which you demand transparency in the hiring, transfer, and dismissal of principals. Demand community engagement in the principal assignment process. Ask why some schools get to have hiring committees to select a principal while other schools read about their new principal in the newspaper. Use the testimony to point out that the principals' collective bargaining agreement does not prevent the district from replacing a principal at any time. There are lots of jobs in the JSCEE that a principal can be assigned to. There are open principal positions at other schools. Demand that executive directors of schools be honest with the communities they serve and not tell lies about the extent of their authority.

Organize an effort to get on the superintendent's calendar. Get an appointment with him and control that meeting. Come in with a clear and succinct agenda. You want clear answers to specific questions: What does it take to get a principal re-assigned? What do you have to do to get action from the Executive Director? When is someone going to "Fly to the Ball"?

Charlie Mas said...

Annual Family Survey

Charlie Mas said...

Invite the Superintendent to an Event

Anonymous said...

Suicide rates for dyslexic children are higher than for the general population. - See more at: http://www.lexercise.com/blog/dyslexia-effects#sthash.9R5ThHLA.dpuf



Reality check

Ann D said...

Please do fill out the family survey and be honest about the limits of what you think are the socially unacceptable limits. Don't be just like well I don't think there will be a school shooting because there is a lot more to be communicating about and lots of parents on this blog are reporting circumstances of their child's educational environment that they see, and other agree, are unacceptable -- but many parents have no choice but to send their kids to the neighborhood school.


Would you expect better care of your child with a sitter?

Does your child have enough time to eat each day?

Does your child have daily, dedicated recess not subject to punishments for homework, slow class work, delayed lunch eating, or even class hallway behavior?

Is the main classroom management strategy that the teacher yells at the class all day long?

Is the classroom tone one that you would expect or accept from a private school?

Is your child or their friend/s being bullied? Is your child's ALO/ELL/SPED designation getting them the appropriate challenges and supports?

Is there sexual harassment at the school and do you worry about inappropriate behavior going on and what else your child is learning from their peers?

NO 1240 said...

The Alliance + Washington Charter Association = A Match Made In Heaven

I call this combination frightening, but some would call the duo "collaborative".

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