Thursday, December 22, 2016

This and That

From Ed Week, New York State lifts disciplinary action against teachers who discuss test questions that the state has released.

A reader asked about a threat at Ingraham High School in the cafeteria by a student with a backpack.  A staffer asked around and not a single student knows about this.  In this day of phones with cameras and social media, that would seem odd.  I'm thinking someone was trying to stir the pot here.  Don't do that.

Last spring, Mayor Murray had his Education Summit.  I was there as were hundreds of other people.  He said this about homeless students in SPS (transcript from the Mayor's office, dated April 30, 2016):

In addition, the homelessness crisis that is gripping this city and this nation is also affecting Seattle Public Schools, where over 2,900 students are homeless. Half of whom are African American, compared to a city population of 8 percent. And a quarter of whom are Latino, compared to a city population of 7 percent.
And in the last year alone, on any given night, there were at least66 children with no shelter, attending our public schools.
Given the wealth in our city, this is unacceptable. I call upon all those with resources to partner with the City and the District to ensure that by the end of this year, the number of students who are sleeping on our streets is zero.
At the time, I noted two things.  One, that "end of THIS year."  He didn't say school year, he said "this year."  Ambitious, I thought.  Second, that he said "students" and not "children." I would have hoped for a goal of ALL Seattle children not sleeping on the streets but some change is better than none.

So when the Mayor had a press conference at Garfield just a couple of months ago, I asked how that goal was going.  He said I was mistaken and he said "2017."  That's not what he said nor what the transcript reflects.  (And I have a screenshot of the transcript for safekeeping but I'm sure the video will reflect the same statement.)

Homelessness is a big job but if the Mayor can't get that done for SPS students, I'm not sure he is prepared to run the district.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) who is Trump's pick for Attorney General had some interesting things to say about Sped students in 2000 on the floor of the Senate.  Via the Huffington Post:
 In May 2000, Sessions took to the senate floor to make a lengthy speech on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, arguing that federal protections for students with disabilities was a reason U.S. public schools were failing.

“We have created a complex system of federal regulations and laws that have created lawsuit after lawsuit, special treatment for certain children, and that are a big factor in accelerating the decline in civility and discipline in classrooms all over America. I say that very sincerely,” Sessions said.

In his speech before Congress, Sessions referenced letters he had received from educators in his home state to argue that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was preventing teachers from being able to properly discipline troubled or disruptive students. Instead of creating a comforting classroom, he insisted, it was causing disorder and chaos. “We have children we cannot control because of this federal law,” he said.
Sessions added that such federal protections “may be the single most irritating problem for teachers throughout America today.”
From the Wall Street Journal in November, we learn that U.S. students' test scores on the TMSS test are improving.
“Fourth and eighth-grade students in a handful of education systems—almost all in Asia—continue to score higher, on average, than students in the United States,” said Peggy G. Carr, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. “But U.S. students in fourth- and eighth-grade have made considerable progress in mathematics since the mid-1990s.”

Science and math are fields considered essential to competing in a global economy. The East Asian countries of Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan rank at the top of TIMSS lists in math and science.
But the AP reports this:
American students have a math problem.
The latest global snapshot of student performance shows declining math scores in the U.S. and stagnant performance in science and reading.

The 2015 Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, study is the latest to document that American students are underperforming their peers in several Asian nations. The U.S. was below the international average in math and about average in science and reading. Singapore was the top performer in all three subjects on the PISA test.
My read on this is that the feds should create a program to push math and science out to states.  One program (because that's how you gauge if it's working) that would give grants to states to create it out.

Want to meet the other woman who, like Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, wants to overhaul U.S. public education?  Her name is Virginia Foxx from North Carolina. Via Politico:
Virginia Foxx pulled herself up by her own bootstraps and wants every American child to be able to do the same.  

“I definitely don’t think the Department of Education has any business doing all the things that it’s doing,” she said. “But I don’t think you do it overnight. I think you have to devolve it over time.”

Foxx reels off a list of possible targets: The billions doled out annually under Title 1 — a Great Society program that boosts funding to schools serving poor students. The money is now considered a possible funding source for Trump’s school choice plan to allow low-income students to select private or charter schools. 
She makes claims that are not true:
Despite the trillions spent on the existing program, “we haven’t changed reading levels one bit. Not one bit,” she said. “They are the same they were when we started putting out that money in 1965. Something’s wrong with the system.” 

(Scores on the Nation’s Report Card show that reading scores for students ages 9 and 13 have been going up since the 1970s, although scores for 17-year-olds have remained largely stagnant.)

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

A staffer asked around [at IHS] and not a single student knows about this [the pipe bomb threat?].

...not exactly confirming whether or not it happened.

-kinda concerned

Anonymous said...

That should say financial woes.

Union proud

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kinda, I would ask at the district but they power down this time of year so I would be unlikely to get an answer. I'll ask when they power back up. Again, something like that would have gone around the school like wildfire so I'm doubting that it happened.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Union, what are you talking about? No cryptic remarks.

Anonymous said...

Most kids don't eat in the cafeteria at IHS - they are allowed to sit in the hallways or wherever. It would not be surprising if some students were oblivious to whatever did (or didn't?) happen. Someone making up the story is just as probable as someone at SPS mishandling it if it did occur, so who knows. The original post about the incident has a number of spelling/grammar mistakes, so make what you will of it.

It does make one wonder what training and procedures are in place for a threat, real or not. When a JAMS student threatened to bring a gun to school, it was taken seriously. A student reported the threat, the school identified the student making the threat and suspended them, all parents were sent a message about the incident, and there was an extra police presence for a time.

-kinda concerned

Anonymous said...

I submitted a different comment where auto correct put the word disability instead of financial. This was in regards to the op ed letter Marty McLaren wrote on the 20th where she blamed the teachers union on the district's financial woes.

Union proud

Josh Hayes said...

Hi kinda,

I don't work in SPS any more, but I was an employee a couple of years ago, and there is mandatory training around threat preparation, along with a couple of drills during the year.

On the other side of the lake (LWSD, where I work) we do regular ALICE drills (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, escape), and the district is very sensitive to the possibilities of heinousness. I believe that school by school, SPS is as well.

Anonymous said...

this and that topic mw. this is great! just on that is there a chance you could try for a bit to have "this and that" as well as "open threads" which would be completely open. i may be wrong but i think that open, would lead to a lot more issues. you might consider it. and thanks for all your advocacy and hard work it makes a difference. i know that charlie and you have inspired me to work for change over the last several years.

-na

Melissa Westbrook said...

NA, we do two open threads a week. I only put up stories/info there to spark conversation but yes, anything you want to talk about, go for it.

Anonymous said...

comments are back to normal at the discussapp blog!

newsy

Anonymous said...

In looking at OSPI school report card...

State wide there are now

44% of the enrolled k-12 student population on free or reduced lunch.

This is a significant uptick from 10 years ago. (pre-2008 economic meltdown)

44.0% -- May, 2016

43.7% -- May, 2011

36.7% -- May, 2006

31.2% -- May, 2001

31.2% -- October, 1996

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Virginia Foxx has a Doctorate in Education

from Wikipedia

In regard to testing score changes since the 70s
the scores of high school seniors have not changed much.
It makes one wonder about improved scores at grades 4 and 8
that do not carry over to grade 12.

-- Dan Dempsey