Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Open Thread

Police in Bothell locked down Bothell High yesterday because of an attack on a shop teacher after school.  The school is closed for today as the investigation continues.  The police have not arrested anyone. The teacher is in satisfactory condition at Harborview.  The police say the school has many cameras so they hope they will be able to piece together what happened. 

Those slowdowns on the Viaduct for the next week (which SPS said may slow some bus routes)?  Apparently it's for the sequel to Fifty Shades of Gray.

Pasco School District had a "High School Reimagining Forum" this week about the 24-credit graduation requirement.  Good for Pasco.

Because of these looming changes, the Pasco School District is taking a proactive approach as they develop plans for the district’s secondary schools to meet the college and career ready state requirements and reimagine educational programs for the 21st century.

Each high school invited a cross-section of representatives to attend this forum to ensure broad stakeholder input. A second forum will be held in Spanish on June 15 at the same time and location.

The feedback gathered at this forum will be used by a steering committee comprised of 33 community members, students, parents, secondary-level staff and local business partners.
Speaking of high school graduation requirements, Virginia just passed a law to help kids who aren't going to college succeed after graduation.
The late state Sen. John C. Miller (D), who sponsored the legislation, had envisioned that high school students would have a choice in their junior and senior years. Either they could go down a track that would lead to post-secondary education, or they could work toward earning credit for internships, apprenticeships or industry certification.

“Rather than sitting in an algebra 3 class where they can’t see any relevance to what they want to do in the future, they will be able to take courses that best prepare them for their career choice,” Miller said in February.
Tom Redman in Communications for Facilities and Capital was kind enough to update the earthquake safety building list for seismic upgrades.  By my count, it's every school in the district that has or will have work for earthquake safety.   I think he may be sending this to the City so they'll have it in their records.

What's on your mind?

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

If any of you know of a wait list move, would you please post the name of the school and the grade?

They used to move the wait list in alphabetical order by school name by region. I'm wondering if this method is still in use, and if in fact any wait lists are being moved. There is very little time before May 31.

Thank you,
-StepJ

Eric B said...

There was a nice article in the Times yesterday about several local school rocketry programs: http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/down-is-finite-up-is-infinite-puget-sound-kids-soar-in-rocketry/

Anonymous said...

More kids these days:

http://ecowatch.com/2016/05/17/mass-climate-change-lawsuit/

Historic Victory: 4 Teenagers Win in Massachusetts Climate Change Lawsuit

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found in favor of four youth plaintiffs, the Conservation Law Foundation and Mass Energy Consumers Alliance Tuesday in the critical climate change case…

“This is an historic victory for young generations advocating for changes to be made by government. The global climate change crisis is a threat to the well being of humanity, and to my generation, that has been ignored for too long,” youth plaintiff Shamus Miller, age 17, said. (more)

-McClureWatcher

Anonymous said...

Portland schools miles ahead of us:

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/20/abandoning-doubt-denial-school-district-officially-embraces-climate-literacy

In what may be a first in the nation, this week the Portland, Oregon school board passed a sweeping “climate justice” resolution that commits the school district to “abandon the use of any adopted text material that is found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its roots in human activity.” The resolution further commits the school district to develop a plan to “address climate change and climate justice in all Portland Public Schools.” (more)

-McClureWatcher

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Rick Burke for standing up for education and excellent curriculum over feel good social engineering. Keep fighting Rick, many of us believe in what you are doing.

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

I think the unhealthy tension from Wednesday's board meeting speaks volumes. The Patu/Peters micro-managing duo needs to check their power trip at the door and actually listen to what people are saying about the role of the board. Maybe listen and reflect on what Stephan said. Sigh....it's going to be a long year. Thank you, Stephan, for your leadership.

-SendIntheClowns

Melissa Westbrook said...

1) No more than a two-word name, please (it's in our policy.)
2) The majority of the Board agrees with Patu and Peter so it's not just them. I listened to that meeting and I hope to blog on it soon but I heard some calm and reasoned discussion. (Patu was particularly passionate but then again, she has been in the district over 30 years, working for change.). That Director Blanford says the same thing over and over - that he seemingly wants to rubber-stamp the job - seems to not resonate with other directors.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,
I don't endorse name calling - uncalled for. Can you please share some facts around this investigation of Patu?

Melissa, what is the role of the board in your eyes? and what is the role of superintendent?

-SendClowns

Anonymous said...

StepJ,

I know of movement on the waitlist at Thornton Creek Elementary.

MSB

Anonymous said...

Using the b-word is more than 'name-calling', it's sexist, used to demean women and their gender as a whole, and therefore just as offensive as a racial slur. Why would anyone think it's ok?

BT

Anonymous said...

Using that word in addition to it being 'name calling' and demeaning to women, also discounts the ideas from that person. It is ok to disagree with someone's ideas, but discounting the person is not part of promotion of civil dialogue.
NEmom

Melissa Westbrook said...

I know of no investigation of President Patu (it's entirely possible that it hasn't gotten to me yet but that's fairly unlikely.)

SendClowns, there are definitely different views on what the role of a school board is. I'm not sure there is as much difference in views for the role of a superintendent.

I think there is a dynamic tension in the role of the school board. They hire a superintendent because they believe in his/her ability to do several things. In that way, they must have faith in the superintendent and staff and work with them collaboratively.

But I believe it IS their job - as elected officials who are responsible to voters - to follow thru.

So what should they be doing?
1) listening to constituents, especially parents, about issues large and small. They can check with fellow Board members to see if an issue could be a larger one to the district or confined to one school or region.

To note, in my experience, it is quite rare for an issue to be confined to just one school. For example, a less-than-effective principal is an issue that pops up throughout the district on a regular basis. Parents have a right to know what kind of process is used to select principals, if parents can have input and what the process is when a principal is not being effective.

We have seen - thru not one, but two - issues at Garfield around field trips how that rippled out to the district and the Board asked the Superintendent to help reexamine field trip policy and procedure.

2) Being visible supporters of the district, throughout the city and in the legislature. Serving the largest school district in the state, Board members have an important role to play in advocacy for both SPS and public education in general. They are also the liaisons in work with the City.

3) reviewing best practices around the country to see if there are other models that might serve our district

4) working with the Superintendent to craft a strategic plan that is both viable (especially in terms of cost) and meets the needs of Seattle school students

5) making sure that the policies they oversee are followed. This one is Charlie's #1 and I agree. Why have policies if they are not followed?

6) overseeing expenditures. The Board in Seattle is dealing with about $1B a year, between the operating budget and capital projects.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Continued,

The Board has to respect staff as professionals who know their jobs. However, that respect is a two-way street. The Board may not be paid (but they should be) but they are elected and that gives them the power/duty to make sure that taxpayer dollars are used wisely.

So where is the line between doing the above and the dreaded "micromanaging?" It's hard to say but, at the end of the day, the Board, collectively, should decide (not just one person.)

I listened to both the discussion at the Board meeting of assessments and program placement/school closure. I thought there were valid things said on both sides.

However, Director Blanford tried to make it sound like the other directors were trying to get rid of assessments entirely even as they said they supported assessments. But we all know that some kids will not succeed with testing so why wouldn't there be an alternative assessment available to show mastery?

As for program placement and school closure, well, this adjustment was a long time coming to the district. No superintendent has ever revealed how they truly decide on program placement, many used different terms like program, service, school in different ways. Many changes to programs/services appeared to come from the tail wagging the dog (facilities or money) rather than what would be best for student outcomes.

It is fine if the Superintendent makes most of the big decisions. But they have to have some frame of understanding for parents, the public and the Board.

The way to create friction and trouble is to have policies that aren't enforced and respected. The way to not move forward in this district is to have confusion and uncertainty in program placement.

Asking for clarification on these issues isn't micromanaging.

syd said...

I just learned my kids middle school math class is 36 kids. Language arts the same. Asa Mercer. Is this normal?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Syd, hard to say. I don't think it should be and, for middle school, I'm surprised they could be that big. Did your child tell you that or did you see it yourself?

Anonymous said...

MS parent3
At HIMS academic classes of 36 or more are not unusual. My student has 38 in one academic class this year (confirmed by teacher, not just my student). Other classes are similarly huge.

Anonymous said...

From an Issaquah school Q/A:

"Does my 8th grade Biology Class count toward high school?"

Students have the option to add their Biology grades and credit to their high school transcript, and once added, those grades and credits cannot be removed. As such, most students choose to wait until their junior year to decide whether or not to add the grades and credit to their transcript. Once the class is added to the high school transcript, it factors into the high school cumulative GPA, counts as 1.0 lab-based Science for both high school and college entrance requirements.


Their students have the option of deciding junior year whether or not to add a MS class for high school credit. In SPS, policy dictates an earlier decision. As part of the new 24-credit graduation requirement, I hope SPS revises procedure to allow for later decisions on taking the HS credit. It's worth a letter to the Board, parents.

-comparing

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

If you cannot substantiate your comments with documentation of some kind (or at least explain how you know what you say you do), please do NOT post any comment. Especially if you don't sign your real name.

I'm not getting the dings for misinformation others spread.

seattle citizen said...

CBA suggests MS and HS classes be no bigger than 32 or 150 for teacher per day. Many HS classes, at least, are over 32.

Overages over 150 are compensated, but I suspect that it's cheaper to pay overages than to hire more FTE.
All numbers below are approximate:
165 students = $2,000/yr
so one period with 35 = $400/yr
3 over x 10 = 30 (a full class)
$400 x 10 = $4,000

So with that figuring:
A school with 30 extra students could pay $4,000 in overages (divide the students into ten classrooms) or pay for another 0.2 FTE, which costs at LEAST $10,000.

Anonymous said...

SPS to Rainier Beach: Just kidding! We're not really going to fund IB. Story in the Seattle Times.

-SPS tired

Anonymous said...

If they can't or won't fund the IB program at any schools (really, it should be funded at all or none), should they simply phase it out? AP is now offering "AP Capstone," which seems modeled on the IB TOK and Extended Essay components. Without financial support, the IB programs will limp along, and fail to adequately prepare students.

-realist

Anonymous said...

What's even more surprising, as revealed in the Seattle Times article, is Sen. Jayapal (D-Seattle) created a $205,000 state grant for IB schools with 70% low income students (having RB in mind), but then forgot to tell RB. Yakima, however, apparently applied.

-SPS tired

Maureen said...

A quick look at the AP Capstone Program requirements implies to me that it requires two complete years of classes outside the standard math/science/LA/History sequence. They are called AP Seminar and AP Research. That is in contrast to the one year long IB Theory of Knowledge Class. Even if the Capstone program does not require a coordinator (which seems unlikely), it will require the same additional extra FTE as IB does. Two FTE for every 125 or so students. So it wouldn't be any cheaper than IB or be able to be offered during the six period day.

Here is the Implementation Guide. I just glanced at it, but it appears that these extra teachers are also required to undergo formal training. So no saving there either.

Anonymous said...

AP Capstone sure looks a lot more flexible than the IB Diploma. No specific courses are required like with IB - the Capstone Diploma requires only 4 AP classes with a score of 3, plus Seminar/Research. The IB diploma requires 6 courses, three of which are 2-yr classes, and leave little flexibility in class choice. AP Capstone seems more accessible to more students, in that respect.

There are no school application or registration fees to be part of the AP Capstone Program, and there are no annual ongoing fees charged by the College Board to participating schools or districts.
What about for IB?

-realist

Anonymous said...

There's a potential problem that might drag the entire board down with it. So far only Director Burke and a few staffers have properly voiced their concerns. The other board members should work quickly to distance themselves from the party be investigated.

For those interested ask SPS for a copy of the public records request log and you will see what this is all about.

Bad President

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bad President, (and this is the last time), if you have something to say (with backing evidence and I'm not doing the work for you), then provide it. Otherwise, I don't want one more cryptic comment from you about whatever it is you think you know.

Anonymous said...

What are the credits required to graduate from a Seattle high school? I know that it is going to 24 credits but Hale's is already 23.5. Are other high schools as high or higher?

Note from school:

TO SENIOR STUDENTS: Your time at Hale is coming to a close. You MUST do the following things by June 3rd:
Complete and PASS all required classes.
Complete and pass any on-line credits. Get transcript to school counselor.
Complete and turn in 60 hours of community service OR 15 per each year at Hale.
Complete and turn in the Beyond High School Plan.
Complete and pass PE CBA.
Complete and pass HAP.
Complete and pass Washington State History.
Settle any/all outstanding fees/fines.
For any failed mentorship: must rectify that through Ms. Grimes. Grade must be changed.
Earn 23.50 credits (if not, meet with your counselor).
Earn 2.00 GPA and above (if not, meet with your counselor). Required letters due.

24 isn't that much different than 23.5.

HP

Anonymous said...

The state currently requires 20 credits. Many (most?) SPS high schools have 6-period days, with 24 credits the max possible over 4 yrs. That means you'd have to pass every class, and crowded schools would need to find full schedules for everyone, too. Hale's schedule awards additional credits for the blocked periods (even though it looks like they spend fewer minutes on classes, with the built-in mentorship and reflective periods), so students still have some wiggle room. It'll be interesting to see what becomes of the task force's recommendation that all schools have the same credit-bearing opportunities...

DoingTheMath

Lynn said...

Ballard, Garfield, Roosevelt and Sealth require 21 credits. I think allowing schools to increase graduation requirements takes site-based management too far.