Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Tuesday Open Thread

 Update: I took down the thread I had on SBAC scores and when they will come out.  I misread the headline of the Seattle Education blog and hadn't realized it was from last year (with a new headline about what might happen THIS year. ) Apologies for the error.

Look who has a new job in ed reform - Arne Duncan Diane Ravitch reports that Duncan will be working for the foundation, Emerson Collective that that the widow of the late Steve Jobs, Laurene Jobs, set up.  I agree with the ed blogger, Peter Greene, this foundation is a mish-mash of issues.

A group of teens is suing the federal government over climate change and, so far, seem to be doing well.  From Upworthy:
"Judge Coffin decided our Complaint will move forward and put climate science squarely in front of the federal courts," said the plaintiffs' attorney, Philip Gregory.

The 21 young plaintiffs argue that this case is about their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property and that the government has known for decades that carbon dioxide pollution has been causing catastrophic climate change. Even with that knowledge, the government has failed to take action and do something about it to help future generations. In fact, the youths' complaint alleges the government has taken definite actions to make climate change worse.

As Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, the leader of the group, Rising Youth for Sustainable Environment (RYSE), says  "We are the ones we've been waiting for."
He's 15. 

The Times has a story about an event last Friday at Rainier Beach High School that is troubling on a couple of levels.

A 35-year old felon is alleged to have threatened his ex-girlfriend who works at RBHS as well as other people at RBHS.  The ex-girlfriend called the police at 7:30 am to report his threats and the school was put on lockdown.  Just before noon, the man talked to a student outside the school, asking about metal detectors.  The very bright student went to the RBHS school-resource officer and police were called.  They found the suspect at the Rainier Beach Community Center which is close to RBHS.  The man had a loaded gun and was wearing gloves.

Just so you know,  first thing every weekday morning, I check the Seattle Schools Twitter feed.  This is normally where I get notice of school shelter-in-place or lockdown notices.  SPS did not put out a tweet even though lockdown is the most serious thing you can do at a school.  I know that Communications is understaffed but a lockdown is big news.

Going to the SPD blotter, I also saw, also last Friday, that a student thought to attend Sealth was showing off a handgun to other teens near the school.  The police told Denny and Sealth and within nine minutes of the call, the police found the gun in some bushes (turned out to be stolen) and arrested the teen moments later.  I checked with our friends at the West Seattle blog and neither school notified parents (one principal said the police never notified them.)

The Times also has a story about the possible high school scheduling changes in advance of the 24-credit graduation requirement from the state.  I attended the Curriculum&Instruction Committee meeting yesterday where this was discussed.  Basically, staff said that there should be a Work Session just for this issue and I think the Committee agreed.

One interesting thing was that the chair, Rick Burke, asked about allowing parents to give presentations on different solutions because he had heard from many of them.  This was first met with a bit of silence and then there was some discussion over whether Burke was talking about the same issue that staff was.  (I did not follow this statement well and thought maybe it was a distraction from the question.)  I suspect that if staff does agree, it will be with a presentation from the taskforce on this issue.

I urge parents to contact the Board and urge them to allow parent presentations at this Work Session, when it is scheduled, for a two-fold reason.  One, I think it important that ALL possible alternatives be examined and explained (not just the ones that staff want) and, as well, to have a real discussion with back-and-forth on pros and cons.

What's on your mind?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Note that Seattle has its own group of passionate kids who have also filed a lawsuit of their own:

http://archive.seattleweekly.com/home/962967-129/the-climate-movements-secret-weapon-kids

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/03/world/u-s-youths-file-petitions-lawsuits-push-government-climate-change/#.V2A0MuYrKSM

http://kuow.org/post/these-kids-sued-washington-state-failing-act-climate-change-and-won

- SPS Parent

Lynn said...

I would love to see a presentation by the person who posts as No 3X5. I'd be happy to contribute the information I found on Bellevue's website. Did you know that Bellevue has one high school course catalogue which lists the district's uniform graduation requirements and course enrollment policies? This is a good thing - schools should not have different graduation requirements, PE waiver policies, policies related to granting credit for online courses, etc. (I would exempt option schools.)

Anonymous said...

It is strange how Hale already requires 23.5 credits to graduate. So close to the 24 credits. Maybe the answer is to waive PE for athletic participation and give credit for it. Hale waives the requirements but I don't think you get the 'credits'. It just frees up the time to take other electives. What if you wrote a paper on it and received credit?

HP

Anonymous said...

Yes, we need public discussion. I'd like an opportunity for parents to present their questions and concerns face-to-face and get meaningful feedback. While I appreciate that Ramona H has responded to many of the community's questions on various threads, the responses are often generic talking points that do not adequately address the concerns. We need an opportunity to get beyond the wishful thinking that the task force seems to have engaged in to this point.

DTM

Anonymous said...

I am mystified why this continues year in and year out as Orlando has shown it takes little to move from verbiage to action and the access to firearms is unabated.

This year I personally have been in more lockdowns due to actual threats of violence, possession of firearms and other extraneous actions that in my entire career at this point. And this was after Cafe Racer, the bank robber in Madrona, etc. It is one thing when it is outside it is entirely different when it comes from inside.

The reality is that the district has inadequate to no security presence. RBHS is not the only school this year w/an aggrieved ex threatening an employee and the reality is that every time a volunteer, a vendor or a substitute walks in we are told nothing about any of it. We can arrive and be locked out with no communication be us inside or out. We are not told anything during a lockdown and we are not on master list anywhere that should something happen our families are aware or told.

The lack of communication, the in house handling of many issues of discipline are truly massive failures in this district in this time. Highline has admitted a problem and yet Seattle fails to acknowledge any of it - be it from Students or even Teachers. Remember the molestors at Whitman and Broadview Thompson or the dope smoker at the Interagency who transported kids to get high and there have been others. Or how about Principals or Teachers assaulted? There have been many and again where are those records?:

When does it stop? When do we get better security and communication in the district

- Old Timer

Anonymous said...

As to the 3x5 schedule proposal, a logically minded parent seems to be needed to explain to staff why it won't work for the majority of students and will not result in "increased time per class" as many seem to believe. The article in the Seattle Times spouts the same line. A class may be 10 minutes longer each day (compared to a 2x6 schedule), but by squeezing the course into 2 trimesters, you've lost 60 class days and over 30 hours of instructional time per year long course. The length of the school day would remain unchanged. More courses, but not more time? That means each course gets less time.

-simple math

Anonymous said...

@Melissa: did anything happen with the Advanced Learning procedures in the C&I meeting last night?

-- Curious

Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, see Charlie's post on it. I added a lot in the comments.

Anonymous said...

Do you know how Bellevue helps students meet credit requirements? They offer summer school classes:

http://www.bsd405.org/programs/summer-school/high-school-summer-program/

How SPS could even consider a change to a 3x5 schedule is still mind boggling.

-Keep 2x6

Melissa Westbrook said...

The only summer school SPS now has is funded by the Families and Education levy and that's really just for struggling students. Ah, the old days when you could fill in classes in the summer that you didn't want to take during the school year.

Anonymous said...

Melissa wrote: "One interesting thing was that the chair, Rick Burke, asked about allowing parents to give presentations on different solutions because he had heard from many of them. This was first met with a bit of silence and then there was some discussion over whether Burke was talking about the same issue that staff was. (I did not follow this statement well and thought maybe it was a distraction from the question.) I suspect that if staff does agree, it will be with a presentation from the taskforce on this issue.

I urge parents to contact the Board and urge them to allow parent presentations at this Work Session, when it is scheduled, for a two-fold reason. One, I think it important that ALL possible alternatives be examined and explained (not just the ones that staff want) and, as well, to have a real discussion with back-and-forth on pros and cons."

My question: Why is it a good use of time to hear parent presentations about high school schedule possibilities after a task force has studied the issue exhaustively and gathered significant parent feedback as part of their work? I think we can predict a pattern about the parent voices most likely to be overrepresented in such an exercise (presumably the same people who email Rick Burke or show up at his community meetings). Why would the qualification of being a parent with time, interest, and a cultural worldview/background that supports them lobbying to present to the School Board on this topic be valued over the qualifications of the selected members of the task force? Why would someone who already had the opportunity to provide their feedback on this question be given additional time to present, outside of any process or vetting of their ideas?

If people need to ask for the board to do this, please ask that a sampling of parents from each region, a sampling of parents representative of our whole district, be given the opportunity at the same time. Otherwise it is governance by squeaky wheels.

SE Mom

Anonymous said...

SE Mom asked, "Why is it a good use of time to hear parent presentations about high school schedule possibilities after a task force has studied the issue exhaustively and gathered significant parent feedback as part of their work?"

The task force has NOT done an exhaustive study of the 3x5 schedule proposal. That's part of the problem. If they had, it would not have been proposed as a solution. As far as parent feedback, the survey asked general questions about increased schedule flexibility and not specific questions about a 3x5 schedule. Had parents been aware of such a proposal, you can bet many, many more parents would have responded (and not positively).

-Keep 2x6

Melissa Westbrook said...

SE Mom, the reason is simply to present the Board will ALL the possibilities. I can tell you - as someone who has served on several taskforces - that the possibilities get more narrow as staff "guides" taskforces.

This issue is big and important and the Board should have all the information they can use. If staff/taskforce want to refute it (or explain why this issue or this possibility was not considered), great. But let's have a real discussion.

Even if this doesn't happen at the Work Session, I think any parent can lobby any Board member on the basis of being a parent in the district. I think most Board members can spot a passionate argument rather than a nuanced one.

SE MOM, I agree with your last paragraph somewhat. Aren't the people on the taskforce "squeaky wheels?" That's just the complaint people had about the AL taskforce.

Anonymous said...

@ SE Mom, what Keep 2x6 said is absolutely true. The task force did NOT study the issue exhaustively (and they acknowledged this in their report), and while the parent feedback they gathered may have been extensive, the survey questions were vague and somewhat leading, making it easy to misinterpret and/or misapply the results.

Your comment seems to assume that this task force was assembled in a way that represents the needs and interests of all groups fairly, and that any additional input beyond that skews things. That's not at all the case. There are always groups left out, and needs overlooked, and complications not recognized by the select individuals who participate. We have so many different high schools, so many programs, so many types of students, so many specialized services, so many different capacity issues, so many graduation challenges, so many post-graduation plans, etc. It's not reasonable to expect that a task force could consider everything for all, and this one clearly left some big gaps. The task force considered things in very general terms. Parents, however, are more in tune with how things might work (or not) in individual, student-specific cases, and quickly saw that the proposed change would present some real problems. Are you suggesting that specifics and details don't matter, and that we should adopt changes based on superficial evaluations? Implementation details are where the rubber hits the road, and we need a chance to make sure this can really work for all students. Including a sample or parents from all regions would be great, but we need to also make sure we get other diversity as well. Schools that are overcrowded, vs. schools that are not. Schools that have a lot of AP and IB classes vs. schools that do not. Schools that have a range of current schedules now. Schools with high vs. low graduation rates. Etc. Regional differences, in and of themselves, are not really the issue in how well a proposed schedule change will work or not. Capacity and unique students needs are much bigger drivers, and these were not fully considered by the task force.

DTM

Anonymous said...

One of the guiding principles of the 24-credit Task Force is -
3. Pedagogical practices and an approach to learning that focuses on:
a. Depth of learning - less is more; depth over coverage
b. Demonstration of mastery through various modes of opportunities
c. Student as active learners


Hmm...does the district get to decide the standards for AP and IB classes, or the format of the AP and IB exams? No. Does the district decide on state standards? No. If the Task Force recommendations went through this filter, it is no wonder the 3x5 schedule was not considered more problematic. There is simply a minimum amount of necessary content, assessment, and lab work, and it's sometimes determined by an entity outside of SPS. Reducing coverage of content is not optional for many classes. AP or not, the progression of one class to the next requires a certain amount of content and skills gets covered.

-Keep 2x6

Anonymous said...

How will classes be awarded credit in a trimester system as equivalent to the semester system if the number of expected instructional hours remains the same 1080 total? If we currently use 1080 hours for 6 credits each year with a 2x 6 schedule and we then use 1080 in a 3 x 5 where students earn 7.5 credits in a year, something seems a bit "off" in the logic of someone somewhere as to how this will be "better" or "good" in any way shape or form.

FWIW: Depth over breadth is a nice sound bite but more credits earned in a year with technically shorter courses (90 hours per course/semester vs. 72hours/course per trimester each earning .5 credit) is breadth over depth and the actual time spent learning in a .5 credit class is less than it would if we left it alone...

-Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

A clarification about my earlier post--I do not actually support the trimester proposal of the committee myself (though I do not like 2x6 either). My point was more about process and equity considerations in response to the call for allowing parents to present to the board on this topic. It is predictable that the parents who would access an opportunity to present to the board would have many of the same characteristics as parents who currently dominate the speaker list to the board: IN GENERAL (not every case, but a strong majority): white, residents of an affluent or middle class neighborhood, fluent/native speakers of English, and possessing significant post-secondary education. Melissa is correct that any parent CAN access the board, but we already know who will and who won't, and we know that the parents who are accessing it are far from representative of our district overall. I believe this is part of the problem the principals who were speaking at the June 15 meeting were addressing--the voices of relatively privileged folks (in general) are being heard and responded to more than the voices of our most marginalized families. So my call was to reconsider asking for even more opportunity for skewed parent input in a venue (board meetings) that is clearly not engaging large groups of parents and families in our district. If more parent input is needed, let's find the way to gather it that will allow as representative a collection of input as possible.

SE Mom

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