Friday, September 30, 2016

Pondering Life's Big Questions

From the UW Center for Philosophy for Children:

You are invited:

Are numbers real?  Why do we dream at night? Can trees think?

Children are natural philosophers. They ask lots of big questions and parents are sometimes unsure how to respond.

Happy Anniversary, TAF Academy!

This week marks the 20th anniversary for TAF (Technology Access Foundation) and the 8th for TAF Academy.  They are holding a big celebration party this weekend. 

TAF was started by Trish Millines Dziko, a former Microsoftie. (Editor's note: Dziko is also a Washington State Charter Commissioner and one the best voices in that group.)

Friday Driving; Beware Because It Will Be Worse (Than Usual)

I rarely, if ever, go out by car on Fridays after, say, noon.  Why? Because our already bad traffic is even worse on Fridays.

Friday Open Thread

The Seattle Times is reporting that the district is using a $2M mitigation fund (from the $11M underspend of the budget found in the spring) to fund 17 new teachers.  That includes a new teacher at Loyal Heights and a half-time principal at Green Lake where they have 100 more students this year than last.  The article reports 11 teachers added to elementary schools, 1 middle school teacher and 5 high school teachers.  As well, there were several Sped positions filled as well as ELL.  The district enrollment is now over 53,000 students.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Board Work Session on Executive Directors/24-Credit Graduation Requirement

I attended the Work Session yesterday and was there for all the section on Executive Directors but only 30 minutes of the 24-Credit Graduation requirement.  Agenda plus PowerPoint for each topic.

All the Board members were in attendance as well as Superintendent Nyland and other senior staff.

Not AP History

 Updates from Ms. Grant (via her own blog:)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

OSPI Gets Ed Grant for Charter School Expansion

Nearly $7M which is a nice chunk of change.

What's more stunning is what Superintendent Dorn says in his press release:

UW Public Lecture Series

As usual for a great university, the University of Washington has a great upcoming lecture series with topics we have seen here.  All of them are free unless otherwise notated. Some that might be of interest:

Parents, You Have One Week to Apply for Advanced Learning

Has it always been that short a window?  I don't remember that it was.  From the SPS news page
This year’s referral form for students in grades kindergarten through 8th is available online via The Source starting September 7, 2016. Once you login to your parent or guardian source account, click on the “Advanced Learning Parent Referral” button to start the referral process.

Read more about how to submit a referral on the Advanced Learning referral webpage.
 
K-8 eligibility testing for the 2017-18 school year begins in October. Applications for students in grades 9-12 will be available in January.

All k-8 applications are due by October 6, 2016 to determine eligibility for school year 2017-18.
I would be interested in hearing from parents at all schools about how well your school is letting you know about this opportunity.  Are there forms on the counter in the office?  Did your child's teacher say anything?  Anything in PTA newsletter?

ESSA: NCLB Lite (Plus Lots for Charters)

I've been saving up articles on ESSA (Every Child Succeeds Act, the next No Child Left Behind).   Congress may have given more power back to the states but there appear to be some truly troubling issues around increased data collection, opting out, and what "indicators" they will be collecting on each and every child.

Important News on FAFSA

From the Federal Student Aid office of the Department of Education:

FAFSA® Changes for 2017–18

On Sept. 14, 2015, President Obama announced significant changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) process that will impact millions of students. Starting with the 2017­–18 application cycle, the following changes will be put in place: 
  • Students will be able to submit a FAFSA® earlier.  Students will be able to file a 2017–18 FAFSA as early as Oct. 1, 2016, rather than beginning on Jan. 1, 2017. The earlier submission date will be a permanent change, enabling students to complete and submit a FAFSA as early as October 1 every year. (There is NO CHANGE to the 2016–17 schedule. The FAFSA became available January 1 as in previous years.)
  • Students will use earlier income information. Beginning with the 2017–18 FAFSA, students will be required to report income information from an earlier tax year. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, students (and parents, as appropriate) will report their 2015 income information, rather than their 2016 income information. 
Please understand that this new earlier date means that the early bird may get the worm.  Have your student apply as soon as possible.

School Climate Surveys at Seattle Public Schools

From the SPS website (I'll note that the webpage says they were out by August 31st but the district just tweeted this yesterday.)  I have not looked thru any of them but would welcome any thoughts you have about your own school.
Surveys are administered in the spring of each school year to all families, school staff, and students grades 3 through 12. Results are used to guide improvements at the school and district level.

By August 31 of each year, all survey results are made available in our new Survey Reports Portal, hosted by Panorama Education.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's Banned Books Week; Go Read One of Them to Your Child

From the ACLU:
For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has fought to make sure Americans have the right to read what they want. Despite our many victories, there are still misguided attempt to ban books. The American Library Association keeps track — some of the most frequently challenged books from 2015 include the best seller Fifty Shades of Grey along with Fun Home and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (both of which were turned into Tony Award-winning Broadway shows, by the way).

Homework and Kids

 KUOW education reporter Ann Dornfeld is working on a story about the new no/low-homework policies at several schools, including Whittier and West Woodland. She’s heard from plenty of parents in favor of these new policies, and is looking for a parent who wants to keep homework part of their child’s routine. She’s at adornfeld@kuow.org.
 

College-Bound Testing Info from OSPI

To note, the press release references a "federal fee reduction program" so that is one discount available to F/RL students for AP testing. I'm still checking about the state and the district.
Results released today by the College Board show that the number of students taking the SAT has remained steady but that PSAT and AP participation has increased.

Cedar Park: District's New Boundary Increases Inequity

Guest post by parent, Kevin Hilman, via the Seattle Education blog:

For the last year and a half, the Olympic Hills Elementary School community (in interim at Cedar Park) has pushed hard for Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to revisit the proposed Cedar Park boundary due to major concerns about equity and safety.
ell_overlay_cpLast week, SPS published its recommendation to the school board’s operations committee, and unfortunately, the proposal addresses capacity, but not equity.  We are very frustrated, and disappointed with the SPS proposal.
The SPS recommendation is especially troubling because a taskforce (including teachers and parents, myself included) met with SPS staff to attempt to use the SPS racial equity “toolkit” to analyze the boundary, yet the final decision making (which did not include teachers or parents) was based on capacity, not equity.

Have a look at the numbers and compare for yourself.

Tuesday Open Thread

From  Seattle Spec Ed PTSA: first meeting of the year - Tuesday, September 27, 7:00-9:00 pm at the John Stanford Center. There will be some time devoted to an open forum to discuss member concerns/ideas, Parent Partners will be joining us, our own Hannah Marzynski will present on the new SPS Spec Ed website and Wyeth Jessee will be our featured speaker talking about all the recent staff changes in special education. And there will be plenty of time for some Q and A. Please join us!

From The Stranger on Mayor Murray's budget and public education:

He's also pledged to "triple public preschool classrooms by 2018 and undertake several education programs focused on racial inequities."

He proposes expanding “My Brother’s Keeper,” a mentoring program for African American male middle school students, increase slots in summer learning programs, and expanding efforts to improve attendance and behavior in schools. 

No word on where he's going to put all those pre-K classrooms.


No word on his promise earlier this year at the Education Summit to end homelessness for Seattle children by the end of this year.

KUOW has a story on the SGP (student growth percentile) that appears on your child's state test score report.
"I hate to hear myself give you this advice, but my advice to parents is to ignore the student growth percentiles," Sireci said. Measurement error is much greater on standardized tests than on a doctor's office scale, he said.
"These growth percentiles are based on two or more tests administered over two or more years, and that measurement error actually compounds," Sireci said. "There is a need to come up with new and better ways to measure students' progress over time, but this is not the way."
 KUOW also had a good (early) story on the new SPS bell times.

Oh joy, a Minecraft game for public schools, from Engadget.

I'm adding this one in - one boy's guide to 3rd grade.  Very cute.

What's on your mind?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Growth Boundary Meetings

As I previously reported, I attended last week's Growth Boundary meeting at Eckstein.  I estimate that there were about 50 people there, many from Green Lake Elementary and Sacajawea Elementary.  Staff in attendance included Enrollment's Ashley Davies, Facilities' Flip Herndon as well as Board member, Jill Geary. 

The next boundary meeting is this Tuesday at Hamilton at 6:30 pm. and on Thursday at Mercer MS at 6:30 pm.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

State Superintendent Debate

Besides the forum this week on Wednesday, September 28th, there is also this event with the candidates for state superintendent of public instruction.

League of Women Voters (LWV of WA Education Fund and LWV - Seattle-King County) Saturday, October 8th at 10 am at the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center at Garfield High.

This forum is for Commissioner of Public Lands and Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Spanish and Somali translation will be provided as well as childcare.

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, September 27th
Growth Boundaries Information Meeting, Hamilton IMS from 6:30-7:30 pm. 

Wednesday, September 28th
Board Work Session from 4:30-6:45 pm.
Topic 1 from 4:30-5:15 pm - Executive Directors of Schools
Topic 2 from 5:15-6:45 pm - 24 Credit Graduation Requirement Implementation- Board Policy Review and Revision.

I'm not exactly sure what can be said about the role of executive directors but, from my own experience and listening to readers, I'm not sure they serve a great purpose.  It is more than a bit surprising that parents are told to go to executive directors if they cannot solve an issue with a principal and not one single parent has ever told me it helped. 

State Superintendent Forum at Town Hall.  Tickets are $10 and doors open at 6:15 pm with the debate starting at 7 pm.  The debate is sponsored by Arc of King County and Washington Autism Alliance and Advocacy.  The theme is Diversity and Inclusion in Our Schools and the debate will be moderated by Dr. Illene Schwartz, UW professor of early childhood and special education.

Thursday, September 29th
Growth Boundaries Information Meeting, Mercer IMS from 6:30-7:30 pm

Saturday, Oct. 1
Community meeting with Director Rick Burke at the Greenwood Library from 3:30-5:00 pm.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Garfield Football Game To Receive Extra Security Tonight

From our friends at the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog:
The reaction was widespread, divided, and intense last week after the entire Garfield High football team voted to kneel during the national anthem for the rest of its season as a silent protest against racial injustice.
While many were supportive, backlash against players, coaches, and the school was in some instances extreme and threatening as news of the demonstration spread nationwide. Seattle Public Schools does not publicly address safety issues concerning specific students or staff, but a spokesperson said the school and Seattle Police are taking precautionary measures during Friday night’s game.
“There will be increased SPS safety and security presence at the game,” said SPS spokesperson Luke Deucy. “SPD will also increase police presence at the game.”
Garfield is playing Chief Sealth tonight.  I would hope no one would want to harm students playing a football game. 

Free Museum Day, Tomorrow, September 24th

Via Smithsonian Magazine

It's free museum day on Saturday, September 24th.  You need to download a ticket.  Here's some of the locations in our region:

Asian Art Museum
Museum of History and Industry
EMP
NW African American Museum
Museum of Flight
Bellevue Arts Museum
Asian Art Museum
Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Schools 2016-2017 Enrollment Numbers

Update: the district tweeted out this AM:

Early data says K-3 will hit class size targets & receive full funding.

Here's the link to their explanation of the situation. Monday is when principals learn about staffing changes. 

end of update

A reader had put this up elsewhere; I have the numbers for all the schools and will get them up soon.

2016-2017 High School Enrollment (numbers from Oct 2015, with % change.)

Ballard High School 1,849 (1702, +9%)
Chief Sealth International High School 1,120 (1174, -5%)
Cleveland STEM High School 854 (842, +1%)
Franklin High School 1,260 (1308, -4%)
Garfield High School 1,759 (1714, +3%)
Ingraham International High School 1,346 (1235, +9%)
Nathan Hale High School 1,180 (1179, +0%)
Nova High School 331 (344, -4%)
Rainier Beach High School 700 (671, +4%)
Roosevelt High School 1,741 (1715, +2%)
The Center School 230 (270, -15%)
West Seattle High School 997 (994, +0%)

Friday Open Thread

I attended the first community meeting on the growth boundaries last night.  A bit of a mess.  No signage as to where to go, started late, didn't have the microphone working for quite awhile - not good.   Flip Herndon was even wandering around like the rest of us, trying to figure it out where to go.  So many map and yet so little information.

I'll have a write-up on this meeting but you might want to get ready for some loud advocating.  It appears the staff is somewhat trying to twist the arms of the Board in order to get what staff wants.  The Board should have none of it.

Growing pains?  SPS is not alone.  From the Issaquah press:
The average size of the district’s elementary school is 622 students, while middle schools are averaging 960. The three high schools’ average is skewed as Liberty has just 1,200 students while Skyline and Issaquah have more than 2,200 each.
Good op-ed over at Crosscut by Bill Keim, the head of the Washington School Administrators Association on McCleary.  What makes it good reading is his documentation of spending by the state.
During the past four decades, a big part of why Washington’s education funding system went from near the top among the states to near the bottom is the powerful pressure exerted on the legislature by anti-tax forces. This isn’t just an opposition to new taxes. As the attached graph from the Washington State Budget and Policy Center shows, we’re nowhere near the level of state revenue as a percent of personal income that we were two decades ago.

In a 2014 presentation on this topic, David Schumacher, director for the state’s Office of Financial Management, said this decline represented a loss of $15 billion in revenue for the biennium. That would be more than enough to address the state’s education funding shortfall.
Community Meeting on Saturday:Director Patu - Caffe Vita from 10am-11am
Community Meeting on Sunday: Director Geary - NE Library from 2:00-3:30 pm

What's on your mind?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Honors for All at Garfield: How's It Going?

The only thing I have seen here at the blog is that at least one teacher requires a reading log.  I guess that could be useful except that 1) did the kid actually do the reading or is trying to impress the teacher and 2) is the teacher truly reviewing what each student is reading and issuing guidance? 

So if you have a child in the class, let us know how it's going on in-class work, homework, classroom structure/behavior, etc. 

If you don't have a child in the class, please do not weigh in.  We're are discussing how it is playing out and only the teachers and the students know for sure.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Friday Memo of September 16, 2016

Oh, these Friday Memos and the stuff you find in them.

The Superintendent's letter covered a lot of topics quickly. His recap of the Board Retreat would is, I suspect, better than the Board Retreat. It covered all of the topics at about the same level of detail, but used up only a few seconds of reading time instead of a whole day. It's mostly platitudes until the One Time Funds part at the end. The good news there is money to start the middle school math adoption (we can see the beginning of the end for CMP II), and money for IB and teacher cut back mitigation.
In the brief blurb about the Seattle Center, we learn that the school district's needs (which includes a high school) were among the primary topics for discussion. The superintendent has made it clear that it is up to the Board to decide where and how to add north end elementary HCC capacity.

Michael Tolley's letter includes a feeble defense of the arbitrary caps put on Special Education enrollment at Option Schools. In his letter he makes reference to a document that speaks to the heart of the issue. Of course, the document, Special Education Program Placement in Option Schools, is not attached. The central question, which Mr. Tolley does not address, is how does the District set the cap for Special Education enrollment at Option Schools? Or at any other schools, for that matter.

The Facilities and Operations letter says that there will be will be a community meeting at Madrona on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 from 6-7pm where the district will be sharing more information and collecting feedback on changing Madrona from a K-8 to an elementary school when Meany Middle School reopens as a comprehensive middle school in the fall of 2017.

The HR letter says that there are 94 teacher vacancies in the district right now including 21 elementary teachers and 19 special education teachers.

Speechless

I wanted to let readers know about a new show, Speechless, that starts tonight on ABC at 8:30 pm.  It's about a family with a child with cerebral palsy.  It sounds like, on the surface, it's a show about family challenges (which we can all relate to)  but they just happen to have a child, JJ, with a disability.

The actor who plays JJ, Micah Fowler, does have cerebral palsy.  Here's the review in the NY Times. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Loyal Heights Parents Fired Up Over Staffing

As I previously reported, Loyal Heights is roiling over staffing uncertainty and on Saturday packed Director Pinkham's community meeting.  Here's what appeared in the parent newsletter:

Tuesday Open Thread

A bit late; I was covering the Loyal Heights protest which I'll have in a separate thread.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

District Cancels African-American Event Due to Safety Issues

This advisory from SPS Communications was sent out very late today so I had no opportunity to find out any further details.

Seattle Schools and City of Seattle Partner for Home from School

Yesterday, the Mayor and the City of Seattle, along with Seattle Schools, announced an initiative, Home from School,  to support homeless students.

Keep Calm But What's Up with The Growth Boundaries?

Today is the Operations committee meeting where they will be discussing proposed boundary changes. The Committee will then take a vote on whether to move them forward to the full Board for approval. Agenda.

Friday memo from September 9

Not nearly as much interesting stuff in the Friday memo this week when compared to last week.

In fact, a lot of the content for this week is recycled from the previous week.

It does, however, include an odd letter from Michael Tolley about delayed start for kindergarten addressed to "Dear Parents" with this sentence: "We appreciate the efforts you are undertaking to support your children in their schooling and the larger school community at BF Day, who are benefiting from your wife’s involvement in school leadership."

I don't know who edits the Friday memo, but it feels like an early draft. There are a lot of odd sentences and organizational choices.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Upcoming Work Session on Advanced Learning

The Board has scheduled a work session on Advanced Learning for an hour and a half on October 5 after the Management Oversight meeting for ELL and Distribution Services.

This is the time to contact the Board as they prepare for this work session. If you do, please remember a couple things. First, the Board's focus is policy work. They should not be engaged in the details of how things are done, but setting a clear purpose and clear expectations. Second, the Board should address themselves to correcting the problems in the system, many of which, not coincidentally, come from the flawed policy in place, but many others come from the central office's refusal or failure to manage schools, enforce policies and procedures, and hold staff accountable.

So what are the problems and how could the Board address them?

Tuesday Open Thread

Good op-ed by Bill Keim of the Washington Association of School Administrators on McCleary.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Teen Shot Near Garfield

There was a shooting this afternoon near Garfield High; the victim walked into the Garfield Teen Life Center just before 4 pm.  It appears a 17-year old male was shot but no word if this was a student.

My Northwest is reporting that the suspect, "in his mid-to-late teens" has been arrested. 

The latest tweet from SPS says "after-hours lockdown at Garfield and Nova Schools now lifted."

Chris Reykdal for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

I'm endorsing Chris Reykdal for state superintendent.  Before I get to why, I want to lay out what the role of the state superintendent is.  Reydal's website.

KUOW had this piece about the job recently and called it "ceremonial."  I think that might be more the Lt. Governor role but certainly not the state superintendent.  Many people think it is to support teachers but the role is an executive/administrative role that supports teaching and learning (which would include teachers but that is not the main focus.)

Here's what former state rep Marcie Maxwell had to say by way of explanation:
In my years as a School Board Director, Legislator and Governor’s Education Policy Advisor, I’ve worked closely with OSPI Superintendents, and understand the roles and responsibilities of this statewide official. The role of OSPI Superintendent is deep in politics, policies and budgets. OSPI is a statewide agency of 400+ employees with program oversight and reporting for billions in state and federal education funds.
It is important to have someone who cares about schools and students but it's more important to consider that the state superintendent sits on several key committees including the timber committee (because some school funding comes from timber sales.)  You need someone who knows this landscape and Reykdal does.

Growth Boundaries Meetings Coming Up

Soup for Teachers had a notice up at their Facebook page about the upcoming community meetings on Growth Boundaries.  These meetings were announced back in August but they are coming up fast.  Here's the schedule:

Join us at one of five community meetings this fall to learn more about the upcoming school boundary changes for the 2017-18 school year. Interpretation services will be available; see the schedule below for languages. (Download the meeting flyer, including translations.)

OSPI Joins Network for Sourcing Education Materials

From OSPI:
State Superintendent Randy Dorn announced recently that Washington will officially join the #GoOpen initiative.

According to the U.S. Department of Education web site, the initiative “encourages states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning.”

Washington is the 17th state to join #GoOpen.

Special Education PTSA Meetings Announced

From the Special Education PTSA;

Announcing the 2016-17 Seattle Special Education PTSA general meeting schedule! Come and join us - we are looking forward to a good year - there are some new ideas and projects on the horizon and we are hoping to learn more about the ideas and concerns from the general membership. The meetings are Tuesdays 7:00-9:00 pm in the auditorium at the John Stanford Center.

September 27  (
Wyeth Jessee will be our featured speaker talking about all the recent staff changes, what's new in special education and there will be plenty of time for some Q and A.)
November 1
January 17
March 14
May 16

Rainier Beach High School Named as "Gold School of Opportunity"

From the National Education Policy Center:

BOULDER, CO (September 12, 2016) – From an innovative rural school in Vermont to a school serving international refugees in California, 20 inspiring schools are being acknowledged as 2016 “Schools of Opportunity.”

Based at the University of Colorado Boulder, the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) sponsors the annual Schools of Opportunity project, which identifies and recognizes excellent public high schools that actively strive to close opportunity gaps – the differences in opportunities and resources that drive the well-known achievement gaps.

“Children learn when they have opportunities to learn,” said NEPC Director and CU Boulder Professor Kevin Welner, co-director for the project. “When those opportunities are denied, they fall behind.”

Following last year’s pilot of the project in just Colorado and New York, this year’s recognitions considered high schools from coast to coast.

“The project offers an alternative way of assessing school quality – one that rejects the idea that test scores identify the nation’s best schools,” said Carol Burris, co-director of the project. “Schools of Opportunity use research-based practices to support all students and their teachers, thereby creating engaged and successful learning environments.”

In addition to Burris and Welner, the effort was led by Linda Molner Kelley, Michelle RenĂ©e Valladares and Rhianna Kirk. The review team – comprised of 40 researchers, teachers, policymakers and administrators – based the “gold” and “silver” recognitions on specific principles identified in the book, Closing the Opportunity Gap, which was co-edited by Welner.

Applications went through four levels of screening, including rubric-based ratings and in-person evaluator visits to the recognized “gold” schools. Evaluators looked at school practices that fell into categories such as create and maintain healthy school culture; broaden and enrich school curriculum; use a variety of assessments designed to respond to student needs; and support teachers as professionals.

The eight Gold Schools of Opportunity in 2016 are:

Crater Renaissance Academy, Central Point, Oregon
Hillsdale High School, San Mateo, California
Leland and Gray Union Middle and High School, Townshend, Vermont
Rainier Beach High School, Seattle, Washington
Revere High School, Revere, Massachusetts
Rochester International Academy, Rochester, New York
South Side High School, Rockville Centre, New York
William Smith High School, Aurora, Colorado

The 12 high schools that earned a Silver Schools of Opportunity designation in 2016 are:

Boston Arts Academy, Boston, Massachusetts
Cedar Shoals High School, Athens, Georgia
Clarke Central High School, Athens, Georgia
East Rockaway High School, East Rockaway, New York
New Vista High, Boulder, Colorado
Northwest High School, Germantown, Maryland
Oakland International High, Oakland, California
Ossining High School, Ossining, New York
Quilcene High School, Quilcene, Washington
Stillman Valley High School, Stillman Valley, Illinois
Urbana High School, Urbana, Illinois
Washington Technology Magnet School, St. Paul, Minnesota

To learn more about the schools, including descriptions for each, and the project, visit opportunitygap.org.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Seattle Schools This Week

Sunday, September 11th
Remembering that horrible day - a school day - back in 2001.  I urge you and your children - if they are old enough to remember - to journal a remembrance.  It's important documentation about what your family experienced and your future relatives might be grateful for it.

Monday, September 12
Hey, it's first day of school for SPS kindergartners.  It's such an odd thing to let go of your child's hand and realize that you may never really know again how their day goes.  When they are in daycare, they aren't always old enough to communicate but kindergarten is old enough. 

Curriculum and Instruction Policy Meeting
Agenda
I am being told that at the Board retreat the Board voted down $3M for new middle school math materials but may spend $2M.  I heard that the teachers at Aki Kurose and Mercer - which are doing great things in math with their students - have developed their own plans.  And frankly, I think that is as it should be.  It's seems folly to spend money on curriculum that teachers barely use.

Tuesday, September 13th
Audit and Finance Committee meeting - Quarterly Audit in Board conference room
from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda

Wednesday, September 14th
Work Session on Community Engagement Options for Future School Schedules from 4:30-6:30 pm  at JSCEE. Agenda not yet available.
I cannot go to this one so I hope someone else can and will report back. 

Thursday, September 15th
Operations Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda not yet available.

Saturday, September 17th
Community Meetings
Director Blanford, 10 am-11:30 pm at the Capitol Hill library.
Director Harris, 3-4:30 pm at High Point library
Director Pinkham, 3:45-5:15 pm at Broadview Library

Friday, September 09, 2016

Protecting Your Child's Privacy Rights This School Year

Going thru all those forms in your student's take-home packet?  Consider the following:

- the FERPA form - you have quite the dilemma.  If you do not approve allowing your student's data to go out, you risk your child not being in the yearbook.  (I find this all pretty silly but I believe this is done to get that data.) 

A better directory opt-out form (and one I would have used.)  I think the district could challenge you on this but I think if it's what you submit, well, then you are on record.

Here's what they do in one district in Colorado.   I like this one.

Also on FERPA, it was amended (by our friend, Arne Duncan) to allow districts and other educational entities to allow any group/person with a "legitimate education interest" access to student data.  Here's something to consider;

Friday Open Thread

How's did these first few days of school go?  (I can always tell when Roosevelt starts up - Bartell's near the school is full of kids buying chips and a soda for lunch.  I wonder how many parents realize that's all their kid is eating for lunch.) 

Interesting first person article on Finland's decline in their student test scores and how they are fighting back.  Hint: it's not charter schools and Common Core.
It is doubling down on many of the things that made its schools great in the first place. Finland’s brand new National Core Curriculum emphasizes a child’s individuality and says “children have the right to learn by playing and experience joy related to learning.” It says they should be encouraged to express their opinions, trust themselves, be open to new solutions, learn to handle unclear and conflicting information, consider things from different viewpoints, seek new information and review the way they think. Teachers are directed to give students daily feedback and measure them against their starting points, not other students.

In a famous episode of Seinfeld, the long-failing George Costanza character achieved spectacular success by doing the total opposite of everything he had done before. Perhaps American public schools should consider following his example.
Shades of Washington state, the latest editorial in the NY Times is about how the direction of public education in Kansas is now a major issue for their Supreme Court elections. 

From the Washington Post, one more cautionary story about sexting - this one about a 7th grade girl.  If you have given your child a cell phone, please have a serious talk with them about this issue.  The pain for this girl in the story is palpable.

A thank-you and sad farewell on the news of children's author Anna Dewdney's passing this week.  Many kids and parents laughed at her "Llama llama" books.  She died at 50 of brain cancer. 

The Board has its retreat tomorrow from 10 am to 3 pm.  After the discussion at yesterday's Executive Committee meeting yesterday about what they will talk about and when, I don't really recommend it as something to do.  Director Peters is having her community meeting on Sunday, the 11th, at Magnolia Library from 1-3 pm.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Assessment Steering Committee Report

The Seattle Schools Assessment Steering Committee was assembled in spring of 2016 as part of the 2015-2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between Seattle Schools and the Seattle Education Association Certificated Non-Supervisory Employees.

This is a Steering Committee composed entirely of District employees. Their meetings are not public.

The committee delivered this recommendations report in June, 2016.

Among the recommendations are
  • For the District to give school a lot more support around the state proficiency tests
  • To use the Smarter Balanced interim assessment this year and look for another interim assessment to use next year
  • For the District to provide training on the use of interim assessments
  • To replace the MAP as part of Advanced Learning eligibility and for primary students
  • To purchase Pulse Learn K-2 as a formative assessment for K-2 students
  • For the District to provide professional development with the new assessments
  • For the District to provide guidance around use of test data
  • For the District to clarify the meaning and consequences when students refuse to test
In all cases, the committee is very clear that the purpose and use of each assessment should be made very clear and that assessments not be mis-used.

I note that there is nothing in this set of recommendations that speaks directly to MTSS, the instructional practice that the District wants to implement which requires frequent assessments.

Also worth noting is this statement from the Steering Committee:
The district should provide clear communication on the purpose of all required and optional assessments, and how these data and assessments can best be utilized to support instructional and programmatic decision-making. This includes the use of student data by outside organizations. This committee recommends a focus on deepening assessment literacy throughout our system.

City May Have Not Considered Homeless Situation Well

 Update:  The bill is (Council Bill 118794).

Mayor Edward Murray ed.murray@seattle.gov
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov
Councilmember Tim Burgess tim.burgess@seattle.gov
Councilmember M. Lorena Gonzalez lorena.gonzalez@seattle.gov
Councilmember Bruce Harrell bruce.harrell@seattle.gov
Councilmember Lisa Herbold lisa.herbold@seattle.gov
Councilmember Rob Johnson rob.johnson@seattle.gov
Councilmember Debora Juarez debora.juarez@seattle.gov
Councilmember Mike O’Brien mike.obrien@seattle.gov
Councilmember Kshama Sawant kshama.sawant@seattle.gov

Please let these people know that no law should be so broad as to allow public camping at city parks and school grounds.

end of update
 
 The Times has an editorial - No Homeless Camping in Seattle Parks, Schoolgrounds  - which seems to indicate that the new ordinance passed introduced by the City Council may have the effect of allowing homeless people to camp in city parks and school grounds. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Growing Pains

Rep Reuven Carlyle shared this e-mail he received today from an SPS student:

Dear Sen. Carlyle, 
today on the first day of school my mom told me to write to my state legislator because I came home so upset. 

I expected my first day of 8th grade to be awesome, but I walked in the door to find that the school was packed with over 1200 kids. Hamilton is a great school and I love the teachers and fellow students, but when 3 of my 6 classes were in portables and I had to sit with 5 other people at a 3-4 person desk, it did not feel like the school that I looked forward to coming back to. 

Board Appeal Decision on enrollment discrimination complaint

This is important. This is, I think, one of the greatest things any Seattle School Board has ever done. I'm looking forward to how it ends and I'm optimistic that it will end well.

Here's the quick version:
A family applied for assignment to an Option School for their student with disabilities. While other general education students were assigned to the school, the District maintained a separate assignment queue for students with disabilities and set a capacity for students with disabilities at the school. In the end, the student was not assigned to the Option School. The family complained that the assignment process was discriminatory. Their complaint was denied at a variety of lower levels and appealed, eventually, to the Board.

Here's the Board's decision.

Thurgood Marshall Waiver is Apparently a Go

I asked some pretty direct questions on this topic but got less-than-direct answers.  However, it seems apparent that it was the Superintendent's call on the waiver for social studies for Thurgood Marshall's HCC program.

From my e-mail to SPS Communications:

Nuggets from the Friday Memo

Another week, another Friday Memo.

This week's memo has some interesting bits including:

The Other Part of this Big Day

 Update: from Summer Stinson at WPD:
The Supreme Court could: continue to find the State in contempt and increase or alter the sanctions to include non monetary sanctions to coerce State compliance, (2) keep everything as is, or (3) find that the State has met the Court's orders and purge the contempt order.

According to the Times, the State's attorney, Alan Copsey, saying the Legislature has made adequate progress.  Oddly, Cropsey also said the $100K a day fine had compelled the Legislature to action (that is certainly not readily apparent, especially from comments made by some legislators.)

end of update

Other than the first day for Seattle Public Schools, it is the day the Washington State Supreme Court is to give their response to the State's response on McCleary.

Welcome Back

Please, please remember yourself and remind neighbors and friends, watch for children crossing the street to schools.  STOP for school buses when red lights are flashing and the stop sign is out from the driver's side of the bus.  Use caution at all times.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Legislative Education Funding TaskForce Meeting Today

It was a packed room for this meeting (which I think took some of the legislators by surprise.)

I did testify and was pleased my bigger picture comments were picked up in this story from KNKX

Seattle Schools This and That

Tweet today from SPS:
Pathfinder & Orca K-8 parents check your School Messenger e-mails for Bus Route & transportation information.

I'm hearing there are long phone waits to contact Transportation; hang in there.


From Seattle JazzED:
Be a hero. Clean out your closet! Do you have old instruments that never get played anymore? Donate them to Seattle JazzED this month. Your old stuff gets a new life and your donation is tax-deductible. Click the link for more info and Kennelly Keys Music drop-off locations in Seattle and Bellevue: http://bit.ly/2cauhsk

Tuesday Open Thread

I'm off to Olympia to cajole/plead/stare down the Education Taskforce.  As I say in my remarks, instead of feeling like an advocate for public education funding, I'm starting to see these trips as pilgrimages and all that's left is coming in on our knees.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Seattle Schools This Week

Clearly a big, big week - the start of school year 2016-2017.

Tuesday, September 6th
Ribbon-cutting for two more schools, Arbor Heights (11am-noon) and Genesee Hill (1pm-2pm).

Also, Washington Paramount Duty can still put your e-mail thoughts in their document to present to the McCleary Task Force for their meeting that day. See this thread for details.

Wednesday, September 7th
First Day of School - do double-check what time your child's school starts and best of luck to all students, parents and schools! Kindergarteners do not start until September 12th.

School Board Meeting, starting at 4:15 pm. Agenda.

It's a fairly short agenda so I would expect a quick meeting.

Highlights:

In the Consent agenda - mostly pro forma type items voted on en masse - one curious thing:
  1. BTA IV: Resolution 2016/17-4: Racial Imbalance Analysis for Magnolia Elementary School Renovation and Addition Project – (Ops, August 16, for approval) Approval of this item would approve Resolution 2016/17-4, certifying that the proposed Magnolia Elementary School Renovation and Addition Project will not create or aggravate racial imbalance. (The Superintendent, in consultation with Lead Staff, has requested to postpone action on this item to the November 2nd Board meeting)
Kind of odd. That rarely happens especially when the Operations Committee sent it forward for approval and now they want to wait all the way until November? Hmm.

As well, on the Action Items, there is approval of a Data Privacy Policy. It says (partial):


While the district currently has policies and procedures regarding Student Records (3231) and Personnel Records (5260), this proposed policy was developed as an umbrella data privacy policy regarding the personally identifiable information of students, parents/guardians, volunteers, and employees. It also includes language that third parties who are granted access to personally identifiable information are also required to comply with all laws and district policies and procedures.


For example, Policy No. 3231 is regarding Student Records and there is interest from various community stakeholders (including parents) that want stricter rules governing student identifiable data. There has been a large national movement to include stricter guidelines with the use and handling of student data. It was not the scope of the Human Resource audit finding to revise any of the policies that relate to student data. The goal of this policy is to ensure staff understand the importance of identifiable data, whether it is for students, employees, or partners – and ensure that data is handled properly and confidentially.
I am happy that the district is making it priority to make sure staff understand how to handle data but I would also like to see forward motion on a student data privacy policy that could be a model for the country.

Thursday, September 8th
Executive Committee meeting from 8:30-10:30 am, no agenda yet available.

Audit & Finance Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm, no agenda yet available.

Friday, September 9th
BEX Oversight Committee meeting from 8:30-10:30 am, JSCEE, no agenda yet available.

Saturday, September 10th
Board retreat at JSCEE from 10 am to 3 pm. No agenda yet available.

Sunday, September 11th
Community Meeting with Director Peters at Magnolia Library from 1- 3 pm.

MTSS Implementation

The Board is contemplating revisions for Policy 2163, Supports & Interventions. Concurrent with those changes, the Superintendent will adopt a new procedure as well. Before he does, I want to be sure to memorialize some elements of the current Superintendent Procedure which are sure to go away.

Let's Do Better By All Kids

Apparently this is still going on. 

Saturday, September 03, 2016

A Video to Watch and Consider

Going into middle school (or any grade level.)   I would add that words can hurt even more when they are spread via text or computer. 

I'm not a Christian but the best thing ever said was "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  Tell your child, "If you wouldn't want this said about you, don't say it about anyone else."

I used to tell my sons, "You do not have to like everyone but you do have to be civil.  Don't like someone?  Ignore them."  I know, not always easy to do.

Last thing, remembering the words of Michelle Obama, "When they go low, we go high."

Friday, September 02, 2016

Public Education Stories From Around the Country

It's not often you see public education and entertainment cross (but see John Oliver and charter schools) but now we have a trifecta of Donald Trump, Colin Kapenick of the San Francisco '49s and public education.  (For those out of the loop, Kaepernick did not stand for the national anthem in the last two preseason games he was in.  He said he was because the song is racist (and read that third verse - I honestly never did before this) and the nation does not have freedom for all.

In wades Donald Trump.  He addressed the American Legion Convention this morning and said  would be "promoting American pride and patriotism in America's schools." How? Via ABC News:

Friday Open Thread

To note, Director Peters has changed her community meeting this weekend.  It will NOT be on Saturday the 3rd but will be on Sunday, September 11th from 1-3 pm at Magnolia Library.

In the "things that make you go, hmmm" column, a reporter from the Times covered the 100 Black Parents meeting about Garfield's Honors for All program and yet, nothing in the paper about it.

Should Principals Tell Staff about Sex Offenders at Schools?

One story the Times did cover was that the state Supreme Court said a 14-year old Bethel High school girl who was raped - off-campus - by another student, who was an older registered sex offender, can sue that district.  The older student had been "acting an an unofficial coach and mentor to younger students."  The school knew his background but did not tell staff. It was a 5-4 decision.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Will the Real Erin Jones Stand Up?

Update:  below the thread is the fundraising letter Jones wrote.

Also to note, she gave an interview with My Northwest's conservative host, Jason Ranz (but reported by Dyer Oxley.  She is now claiming its about race.  The Stranger said this in their previous endorsement of her:
Members of the (Stranger Election Control Board) were impressed by Jones’s powerful comments about being the mother of black children and her commitment to fighting for equity. We were also excited about the groundbreaking potential of her candidacy, since Jones, if elected, would be the first African-American woman to hold statewide office.
Jones said to My Northwest yesterday:
Oh yes, It’s definitely tokenism. I am the first black woman (who would be superintendent), and I don’t’ believe I deserve to be in the position because I am the first black woman. I have demonstrated over 25 years – I was the most innovative foreign language teacher, I was a champion of change at the White House, I’m a PTA educator of the year. I have demonstrated over 25 years that I am excellent at what I do — that I have a commitment to my students, especially those in the margins. I have closed gaps. I worked at the executive level at OSPI. I am the best candidate in this race, not because I am a black woman, but because I am qualified.
The Stranger said she was qualified and would fight for equity.  Jones was happy for their endorsement when they said that.  Now that they pulled the endorsement, their endorsement was tokenism.  Again, very confusing on the part of Jones.

 Stranger Reporter Sydney Brownstone has responded to Jones’ statements:
I made no assumptions about Jones’ religion. She was quoted fairly and accurately; her words and actions speak for themselves. So does the article I wrote.
I'll just go on record that I believe Jones' is getting bad advice on this whole thing.

End of update

I have covered many political races, helped with campaigns and chaired a campaign.  That doesn't make me any expert but I have talked to several of them during that work.  I have never seen anything like what is happened in the Erin Jones campaign.

New Thornton Creek and Hazel Wolf K-8

Boy, I saw a lot of happy and excited people today at both these new buildings.  At both ribbon-cuttings, they had the 15+ ribbon-cutters (SPS staff, Board members and legislators) cut bits of ribbon to give to students who were there as souvenirs.  (I didn't have time to take a tour in either building so I didn't get to ask about a couple of things in each building.  I also didn't find the library in either building.)

Info on Applying for Advanced Learning Now Available

Here's the link.

Eligibility criteria and forms are available beginning on September 1st, 2016 at seattleschools.org/advlearning.