Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Bombing a concert you know will likely have a majority of tweens and teens?  There's real men for you.  A very sad day in Manchester, England. 

About tomorrow's Board Work Session which will include the budget for next year, the public can attended but there is no public testimony or comment.  However, since staffing will likely be discussed (which would bring in the subject of waitlists), you certainly should write the board (spsdirectors@seattleschools.org or schoolboard@seattleschools.org, the former will reach just the Board and the latter will include senior management including the Superintendent). 

The Board needs your input as backup for any ideas/concerns that they may want to offer as pushback if staff cannot justify its planning.  For example, the issue of waitlists is not addressed in the manner staff is speaking of them in the SAP Transition Plan which is what they are currently working under. 

Moving news from Texas via the Houston Chronicle:
"In the Houston ISD, nearly half of this year's highest-ranking students once struggled to speak English, making them among the largest groups of non-native English speakers to be named valedictorians and salutatorians by the district since 2007."
Congrats to B.F. Day Elementary on their 125th year in service to children in Seattle.  They are the oldest, continually operating school in Seattle.

What's on your mind?

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's 80 Degrees and Here It Comes...

I'm not sure I really see much wrong with this dress code but then, I'm old.

School Board Candidate Updates

Three candidates have withdrawn from the races.

Two are in District 4:  Jeff Jones and Anh M. Nguyen.  Neither showed for the 36th Dems interviews.  (Also not interviewed there but still in the race; Herbert J. Camet, Jr. and Sean Champagne.)

One is in District 5: Michelle Sarju.  I'm a little disappointed about this one; she sounded like an intriguing candidate.  

Seattle Schools This Week

First, the date for Director Burke's next Lincoln High meeting has been changed.  From Director Burke:
The next Lincoln community meeting will be held Monday, June 5th from 6:30-8:30+ at the Hamilton Middle School Commons.  There will not be a meeting on May 23rd as originally planned, due to multiple scheduling and space availability conflicts.  I apologize in advance for the late notice on this change and any conflicts as I tried to fit this event in with the myriad of year-end occasions.

Meeting topics will include:
·         Introduction of Ruth Medsker, Lincoln High Principal starting June 1st of this year.
·         Updates on high school boundaries – HS Boundary Task Force process and work-to-date
·         Answers to frequently asked questions from prior meetings, or process/timelines for still-open questions
·         Facility design updates
·         Dedicated time for student Q&A.  Bring your existing HS student even if they aren’t Lincoln-bound to share their suggestions.
·         Opportunity for small-group networking to launch PTSA, Music/Arts, Athletics community groups.

For families from JSIS, it has been brought to my attention that this meeting exactly conflicts with the JSIS Ice Cream Social, so I will be hanging out a bit later to 9:00 or until they kick us out of the building if anybody wants to join this meeting a bit later.

I am looking forward to seeing folks, especially more students, on June 5th.  If you can’t attend this time, no worries - we will be having more get-togethers later this year.
SPS This Week (partial)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Want to Hear From Some of the School Board Candidates?

Those folks at the 36th Dems* don't let any grass grow under their feet.  Here's the link to their interviews with candidates for many races.

For Seattle School Board they include:

Just Say No, Governor

The Seattle Times issues the throwdown to the Legislature. I'm down with that - no new Special Session.

I'm calling the Governor's office tomorrow and asking him to not schedule one.

Let the Supreme Court take the reins now. Enough is enough.
The Supreme Court should get more directly involved in the state’s necessary effort to reform the school-funding system.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Summer Camp Opportunity for Autistic Youth

Come Explore the Possibilities! Theater of Possibility ("TOP") helps young people give voice to their ideas and dreams! Through fun and zany theater games, improv exercises and role-playing, we explore the dynamics of friendship, family and school. Along the way, we shape powerful emotions and ideas into moving, profound and funny works of theater.

Theater of Possibility for youth with autism spectrum and other ability differences will offer a two-week half-day summer camp for ages 8-13 at University Heights Center, 5031 University Way NE, Seattle, 98103, M-F, 3-6 PM, July 31-August 11. Cost $600.

Dear Readers

Once again, blog business.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Last Call for School Board Candidates

Update:  As I predicted, a few more candidates at the last minute.

Friday Open Thread

The candidates for School Board continues to grow and I'll have a thread on the newest folks.   Interesting, though, that Patu still has no challenger.

I'll note that Trump is considering former senator, Joseph Lieberman, as the head of the FBI.  A former elected official as head of the FBI?  Who sits on a board for one of DeVos' organizations?  Of course, that makes sense.

Portland Schools passed a record $790M bond for school buildings:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thinking DeVos and Trump Won't Get Commencement Invites After this Budget

From the Washington Post:

Discouraging Kids from Opting Out at Washington Middle?

At the Seattle Opt-Out Facebook page, there's this:

President Peters Makes It Official; She's Not Running

From her website:
After serving four years on the Seattle School Board, I will not be seeking reelection. Other obligations and responsibilities beckon at this point in my life, in the realms of both family and career.

Newest School Board Candidates

Update 2: Yet another candidate for Peters' position - Jennifer Crow.

There is one Jennifer Crow with a LinkedIn profile says she is the Clinic Operations Supervisor for the Breast Imaging Center at Swedish Medical Center.  She was a mentor in the early 2000's for Youth in Focus.  

There's 24 hours before the filing deadline.  This should be interesting.

end of update

Update:  more candidates

Ballard's Robotics Team Takes the World Championship

Members of the Ballard Robotics Team celebrate their win!Wonderful, fabulous news and congrats to the student scientists, their teachers, their families and the school community at Ballard High!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Please Help Find This Girl

I am told this girl goes to Hale.  Her family is very worried.

Day 24 of the Special Session

Today Is the School Board Meeting (Also Canadian PM Here)

From KING-5:
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Western Washington Wednesday and Thursday to take part in the Microsoft CEO Summit.

The prime minister's office said Trudeau will be at Microsoft's Redmond campus to promote the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, encourage investment in the Canadian technology sector, and draw global talent to Canada.
It's unclear if the public will see Trudeau but between going to Microsoft and then downtown to see the Governor Thursday morning, traffic is likely to be tied up.

I have a query into SPS about any bus schedule changes.

Agenda for Board Meeting.

SIIF; Good Things for Kids and Families

The Seattle International Film Festival is just getting underway this week.

One film I want to emphasize is Backpack Full of Cash, a documentary about public schools. It's having its West Coast premiere here after being the runner-up for Audience Award, Best Documentary at FilmfestDC.  The SIIF link has a trailer for the film.

Backpack Full of Cash, narrated by Matt Damon, explores the real cost of privatizing America’s public schools.  The producers also created the award-winning PBS series, SCHOOL: The Story of American Public Education (narrated by Meryl Streep.) 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Education News Around the State and Nation

The Bellingham Herald has good coverage of THE key race for the legislature this fall - the race in the 45th where interim Senator Dino Rossi will likely be replaced by one of two major candidates.  With the Senate barely held by the GOP, this race could be a game-changer.

SPS Needs a High School Czar

I'm not kidding.

There are bell time issues, 24-credit fulfillment, reaching more students with advanced learning opportunities, the reopening of Lincoln and the boundary alignment and enrollment issues that will involve.

I had a good conversation recently with a director on many issues and one topic I asked about was who is overseeing all these changes to high schools.  The director said there really wasn't a single person so I asked how parents could be sure that there was alignment of all the details and oversight for the big picture.  Not sure.

I am truly worried about how this will all play out.  High schools are usually big enough entities with strong principals and manage on their own.  But this is a plethora of new issues and some that will not (cannot?) be in control of principals.
I urge you to ask the Board for the district to appoint one staff member to oversee all this change.  

Here's another curve ball for ya.

High school sciences courses are to undergo big change and be rolled out over the next three years.  Those changes come as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are to be enacted in Seattle Schools.

Tuesday Open Thread

I have to getting going but I did want to put up two key items.

One, did you get that letter from Superintendent Nyland? What a hot mess.  Basically, please stay tuned and someday you'll find our the school schedule, bell times, transportation.  The least the district could do is provide a chart so you know at a glance what key dates there are.

I also found this sentence - around early-release dates - off-putting:

In further review of our data we found that Wednesdays are better for teacher collaboration time and maximizes educator participation.

I find this issue of why Wednesday is better for having teachers in place versus Friday (which is when many parents want an early release day) something of concern.  The teachers contract wasn't written to emphasize penalties for non-participation in professional development?

Plus, a odd sentence at the end that I don't recall him placing in other letters:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, it is a great honor.

Second, although Director Patu filed her notice about running again, the first official filing is from Zachary DeWolf for the open seat that Director Blanford is vacating (he has said this publicly several times).

Mr. DeWolf is quite the interesting candidate. He is Native-American, gay, and a communications specialist. He was in the Peace Corps and, to my interest, a member of the 43rd Dems (and sits on their board). As they are having an event this week, I'll be delighted to go introduce myself.

I have to smile, though. For being a communications guy, it's a little odd that his website doesn't mention which region he's running from or anything about that region. It's district 5, Director Blanford's region (which I believe will be the most highly contested race).

What's on your mind?  

Letter from Superintendent Nyland:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rich People; Could They Please Leave Public Ed Alone?

Forbes has just come out with its annual list of the wealthiest people in the world. 
It was a record year for the richest people on earth, as the number of billionaires jumped 13% to 2,043 from 1,810 last year, the first time ever that Forbes has pinned down more than 2,000 ten-figure-fortunes. Their total net worth rose by 18% to $7.67 trillion, also a record. The change in the number of billionaires -- up 233 since the 2016 list -- was the biggest in the 31 years that Forbes has been tracking billionaires globally. 

Bill Gates is the number one richest for the fourth year in a row, and the richest person in the world for 18 out of the past 23 years. He has a fortune of $86 billion, up from $75 billion last year. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos had the best year of any person on the planet, adding $27.6 billion to his fortune; now worth $72.8 billion, he moved into the top three in the world for the first time, up from number five a year ago.

The U.S. continues to have more billionaires than any other nation, with a record 565, up from 540 a year ago.
You can only cross your fingers that all the new U.S. billionaires don't get it into their heads to go the way of Gates in terms of his "helping" public education.  

NPR had a good piece on a new book on philanthropy, The Givers: Wealth, Power and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age by David Callahan.

Did You Get What You Hoped for Mother's Day?

From Liza Rankin at Soup for Teachers:

Friday, May 12, 2017

An 8-Year Old Committed Suicide over Bullying

Shocking.  Stunning.  Horrible.  From USA Today:

A security camera video taken inside a Cincinnati elementary school reveals that a student assaulted an 8-year-old boy in a restroom and other children may have kicked and struck the boy for 5 minutes while he lay unconscious.
Two days later, the child, Gabriel Taye, hanged himself.

You'd think that was the worst part but no, there's more:

Friday Open Thread

Congrats to Coe's Peter Fleisher who was picked for the AAA School Safety Patrol Hall of Fame this year.

From SPS Communications:
Advanced Learning Referral Window Open May 15 - Sept. 22, 2017
Advanced Learning referrals for the 2018-19 school year of students currently in kindergarten through 7 grade will be accepted online beginning Monday, May 15. 
Paper forms in nine languages will be available online and at schools.
Eligibility testing for the 2018-19 school year begins in September 2017.
Applications for students in grades 9 through 12 will be available in January 2018.
Complete information and referral forms can be found on our Advanced Learning webpage.

How Many Mayoral Candidates Will I Be Interviewing? Stay Tuned

Now we have Rep Jesslyn Farrell and former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan running to take the place of current mayor Ed Murray.

I hope to interview all the major candidates (and that's a lot just in itself) about public education and Seattle.

What questions would you like me to ask?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bell Times/Transportation Update

I attended the Audit and Finance committee meeting this afternoon.  On the agenda was discussion around accepting funds from the City for the two-tiered transportation system.

Pegi McEvoy, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, reported that she had attended the Families and Education Levy committee yesterday.

She stated:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Discussion; How Far Should Santuary Go in SPS?

I'm asking this question just for discussion because there are several issues in this story that may come up at some point for SPS students.

Kent School District is not allowing any international trips for student groups over the worry that any undocumented students on such a trip might be held up at the border upon return.  I heard a report on this on KUOW yesterday and the Kent superintendent stated that they had heard - anecdotally from some undocumented students - that the students did have this fear.

On one side, it's a major disappointment for many students; the flip side is that it's a potentially life-changing issue for a few students. 

From the Seattle Times:

News for Parents of Special Education Students

Update:  The final Spec Ed PTSA meeting of the 2016-17 school year is coming up onTuesday, May 16 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the JSCEE

The meeting will feature guest speaker Cathy Murahashi, the Family Engagement Coordinator King County Parent and Family Coalition, from the Arc of King County, talking about parent advocacy. There will be Spec Ed Directors there to answer questions and address concerns, the SEAAC report and elections for the PTSA Board for next year. Also Wyeth Jessee, Chief of Student Supports, will be presenting briefly on the strategic plan for the District moving forward.

end of update

From the Seattle Special Education PTSA:

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Cedar Park Elementary Community Meetings

Are you looking for a lovely school for your kids to learn and grow?

Cedar Park Elementary is a new SPS option school opening this fall. Our Expeditionary Learning model uses big themes throughout the year to apply reading, writing and math to real world questions. All the academic rigour of Seattle Public School core curriculum paired with topical adventures that gets kids (and their adults) excited for learning.

Tuesday Open Thread

Ballard High School Viking RoboticsCongrats to Ballard High's Robotics team!   From GeekWire:

A robotics team from Seattle’s Ballard High School accomplished what no program from the Pacific Northwest has ever done. The Viking Robotics team took home the world championship at at FIRST Robotics competition last month in Houston.

The event April 20-22 featured approximately 400 teams, including groups from Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Israel and China, according to a news release.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Not Vaccinating Kids; Ignorance and Arrogance

We all knew this would happen with the amount of talk against vaccinations; here's real outbreak in Minnesota that was caused by aggressive anti-vaxxers on a community they knew would more susceptible to their influence.

Here's what happened via two stories in the Washington Post (red mine):

Thank a Teacher This Week

Image result for teacher appreciation week graphic

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Give BIG is Here Again

This Wednesday, May 10th, is the Seattle Foundation's Annual Give BIG day. 
GiveBIG Seattle is a one-day online giving event to raise funds for nonprofit organizations serving Greater Seattle.
Their theme this year is "Now More Than Ever." #GiveBIG  Donor FAQs  
GiveBIG is the third largest Giving Day in the country.  It is a community-wide event supported by significant media and corporate partnerships.  It is our region’s most well-recognized and visible crowd-funding platform, with more than 1,600 nonprofits estimated to be participating.
One very big difference this year is that there is no "stretch pool."  Previously, there had been a matching "stretch pool" for all the organizations, depending on the number of donations.  That has been eliminated and organizations are being encourage to seek matching funds.  I think you would have to check with the orgs you wish to donate to and see if they did get a matching fund.

What is new?
Dollars for Change is a new donor-driven effort that will award more than $350,000 to participating King County nonprofits. Using a computer-generated selection process, donors will be chosen to have their contribution to an organization generously boosted with a $2,500 award. These Dollars for Change awards will be made to King County-based organizations across Seattle Foundation's Healthy Community framework and across budget size. Dollars for Change will benefit nonprofits of all sizes, but will place a greater emphasis on small- and mid-sized organizations. This structure aims to bring greater equity in the distribution of additional dollars. 
The participating organizations will be selected based on several criteria, including that they work within one of the eight elements of our Healthy Community Framework: basic needs, economic opportunity, health and wellness, education, environment, arts and culture, vibrant communities and global giving. Learn more about our Healthy Community Framework
Note that wording in bold as only King County nonprofits are eligible for the Dollars for Change.

Also, you can schedule your donation now if your week is a busy one.
Yes, donors will have the ability to make an online donation starting on April 27. To schedule a donation, a donor needs to create a simple account on GiveBIGSeattle.org. The donor will receive a confirmation email receipt upon submitting the form. The donation will not be processed until May 10. 


Apparently, some of you do not understand what I mean by name-calling especially as it pertains to children.  A few of you seem to play dumb as if you just don't know what I saying.  So here goes.

I think most of you know I mean no using curse words to describe students.

And not unkind/derogatory descriptors:

snowflake, anchor baby, heathens, spawn, brats

or sarcasm like:

precious, special, angel, etc.

You can easily use:

child(ren), students, scholars, kids, adolescents, juveniles, youth, preteen

Non-judgmental words.   We all love our children and should consider that feeling when speaking of others' children.

It's fine to say that you think some parents overprotect, overvalue or push their child's interests before others.  That's your opinion.

You can say that you believe some parents' actions underprotect, undervalue or show a lack of concern for others' children in this district.  That's your opinion.

But I think it should be clear why we will not abide name-calling, especially of children.  It's unkind, mean, immature and, most of all, not what you would want someone to say about your child.  If you do that, then save it for your friends or family or people you gossip with.

Not here.

Words have meaning.

News on Lincoln High from Director Burke

I'll just note that, at this point, it's not entirely clear who is the Lincoln community except for those who live close-by the school.

Good for Director Burke for being detail-oriented and keeping the community updated.

From Director Burke (bold mine):
Dear Lincoln Community,

Friday, May 05, 2017

Dandelion Dash at Capitol on May 10th

Dandelion Dash to Olympia on Wednesday, May 10th, is a grassroots event to raise awareness and rally in favor of amply funding public education for all children in Washington. 

Because members of the Washington State Legislature devoted a significant amount of time debating dandelions on the Capitol lawns in the last days of the 2017 legislative session, advocates of all ages will take advantage of the Seattle Public Schools early dismissal on May 10th to support Seattle Education Association and teachers from around the state, as they continue to Occupy Olympia, by making and displaying tissue paper dandelions and engaging in other advocacy and awareness activities that are supportive of the Washington State PTA legislative 
platform issue, "Amply Fund Basic Education" and similarly aligned platforms.

Seattle Public Schools Scholarship Fund Awards Ceremony

Wanted to give a big shout-out to these seniors and their benefactors; from SPS Communications (partial):

The community is invited to attend the Seattle Public Schools Scholarship Fund Awards Ceremony on May 11 at 7 p.m. in the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence Auditorium. 

At the awards event, 26 graduating seniors from each high school will be recognized for their personal tenacity, contribution to their community, and academic accomplishments.

Friday Open Thread

Update: One last piece of blog business - blanket accusations and statements must always have "in my opinion" with them or they will be deleted.  I need to find the statement made about Garfield teachers that was wrong and hurtful and delete it but that's a good example.  In that particular case, that was name-calling and would be deleted anyway.  You can have opinions; just make sure that you say that.

end of update

Let's just get some quick blog business out of the way first.  Do NOT name-call here.  Ever.  And especially don't even think of calling any child any name.  Any word that is pejorative to a child is strictly off-limits. You are adults, you know what I mean and you know better.  If you don't, this is not the blog for  you.

From Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page:

Cecelia Lehmann
#specialsession Day 12, a math lesson for you.
(98 House members +49 Senate members) * $120 per diem *12 days =$211,680

Tickets for the Seattle International Film Festival are now on sale.  I'll do a thorough review but here's an early one to put on the calendar.

That Should Do It

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

On Bell Times/Waitlists

Update:  I must have been tired when I posted this thread.  I did leave out another key testimony.
A parent of a Special Ed student explained how their initial assignment was to Olympic Hills which would be nearly an hour bus ride from their house.  Meanwhile, just blocks away was Thornton Creek which did have the type of class they needed.  To their joy, the waitlist moved and they were assigned to Thornton Creek.  What happened next was their child, and four others, were then "unenrolled" from TC and reassigned back to Olympic Hills.

Again, that kind of jerking of assignment - of what looks like someone changing their mind and NOT considering the real children that would live with that change - is the kind of trust-buster that hurts this district.

end of update

I'll be brief because I only watched the first hour of the Board meeting and did not wade thru the director comments.

On Bell Times
Superintendent Nyland started out thanking the City for the help in paying for a possible two-tier bus schedule.

But he said that staff had heard from multiple high schools (he did not specify if he meant parents or staff or both) but he said that Pegi McEvoy and Flip Herndon would be meeting with high school principals about alternatives.

He said they basically need roughly the same number of schools in each tier to make it work.

He also said they had heard from Tier 3 folks who were glad for two tiers but it seems jarring to go from three to one. 

He said the Board would review the options as the City Council proceeded with its own work on this issue.  This item will be introduced at the next board meeting and voted on at the meeting after that.

On Waitlists
Dr. Nyland had Flip Herndon and JoLynn Berge (Budget) come up to the mic during his comments.

Herndon gave a less-than-clear explanation.

He said there is a waitlist process that they go thru each year after Open Enrollment.

He said the factors they looked at were:

- capacity of buildings
- given staff allocation currently in building, can they move in additional students?
- "equitable" impacts on schools (it would seem that whenever staff wants to change policy, they can say "equity" and believe that negates any other argument)

He noted that the impacts were greater on elementaries because they tend to work in full FTEs.

Berge merely said that sending and receiving schools felt budget impacts by the choices that parents made.

The Board was asked if they had any questions and, to my surprise, no one did.

Public Testimony on Waitlists

Multiple Stevens' parents testified (and some kids) including their PTA president,  Jennie Peabody Rhoads.

I found their testimony compelling if only because it made sense in the context of the stated policy.

Stevens is underenrolled by 90 (!) students with a waitlist of 23.  There was a waitlist as long last year.  What makes the waitlists here particularly curious is because there are many sibs on it.

How can it be a school has room in the building and yet sibs can't even get in?

What I think may be happening in Stevens' case is that the district wants to shore up Lowell and Madrona at any cost. 

It was also pointed out that the enrollment policy seems to evolve as need be for staff.  It's inconsistent because it appears some schools that are underenrolled will move their waitlists. Why would some students get choice and not others at underenrolled schools?

A Stevens teacher, surrounded by other teachers, said that the PD at the beginning of the year was about relationships.  She then asked why some relationships with children would be torn apart because of these decisions.

Again, where is the sense in saying one thing and doing another?

What was depressing were the OTHER stories from different schools.

One Hamilton HCC parent said his son had been very excited to go onto the IB program at Ingraham. Except, wait, it seems that for at least a couple of years, the number of HCC students who can go to Ingraham will be capped.  Then, that cap will be lifted.  And for some reason, other waitlists are being mixed and matched but they will not be doing that for Ingraham for the next two years.

Another parent - from Dearborn Park - said they had the same issue with sibs being separated.  They will be losing two teaching positions and may have split grades.  Is that optimal for a dual-language program?  It's not.

Kellie LaRue, capacity guru, also testified, stating that the lack of transparency on this issue will erode trust.  She made a key point that the district and the Superintendent and Board should never forget - the money they have comes from enrollment.

As well, she said that protecting teachers at some schools will probably not pay off in the end.  The district has not reached its projected enrollment for the last couple of years.  If you have a process that hurts families, some of those families may make other choices.

And if they leave, their money leaves with them.  Then NO school in the district gets it.

If anyone watched the directors' comments on this topic, let us know.

But I think the message is loud and clear - be unfair and inconsistent and it may come back to hurt the district. 

Charter Schools News

The Washington State Charter Commission reports that they have received two completed applications for new charter schools in Washington State (I have not yet been able to confirm if Spokane School District, the only school district authorizer in the state, has received any applications.)

News Around Seattle Schools

Update: families from Stevens Elementary are planning to show up at the Board meeting in force to ask the district to release the waitlist on their school. They are underenrolled so they can accommodate new students (some of whom already have sibs there) and not lose a teacher because of...underenrollment.

end of updat

USA Today is reporting that Nathan Hale basketball coach, Nathan Roy, was shot in the leg while standing on the porch of his grandmother's house in L.A.  From KING-5:
He was shot while at an outdoor gathering in the Los Angeles area. Roy was reportedly an innocent bystander in what may be a gang related shooting.
There are still spots on the speakers list for the Board meeting tonight if you are so inclined and have an issue you'd like to raise to the Board. Most of the speakers appear to want to comment on waitlists. Also to note, the Board is scheduled to have an Executive Session right after the meeting. Initially it was about Complaints against a Public Employee, and to Evaluate the Performance of a Public Employee.  The session has since been expanded to include Potential Litigation.  

On Thursday morning, there will be an Executive Committee meeting.  Here's the agenda.  I see a number of interesting items.

1) Discussion with a labor partner: Local 609.  This is the union that represents custodians, kitchen staff, maintenance workers and others.  This is notable because it's not that often that you see open discussion with union reps. But I see from the minutes for last month's meeting that Director Harris made the suggestion to invite labor partners to the meetings to create better relationships.

2) Also on the agenda is the school calendar for next year.  You can see a draft of the complete calendar on page 10 of the agenda.  This is to be introduced at the May 17th Board meeting with approval at the June 7th meeting.

3) Executive Committee meetings are where you can preview agendas for the next two School Board meetings.  Of interest for the May 17th meeting is the acceptance of grants from two PTAs for playground improvements at Madrona and Highland Park.  A big thanks to those two schools' PTAs and other groups that helped with those projects.

There is also a notation about "modernizing" Lincoln for its reopening.  There is no documentation attached but it will be something to monitor to see exactly what updates will be happening there.

There is also an Introduction item for Ethnic Studies. It is unclear whether this means something aspirational or an actual move to create a curriculum and put it in schools.

This meeting also has the Introduction of the grants from the City to fund crossing guards and the two-tier bus system.  

Also at the Executive Committee meeting is the preliminary agenda for the next Board retreat on June 3rd.  (See page 19 of the agenda.)  There are several ideas on racial equity training that include:

Options include:

- Identity Safety Training (similar to April presentation to principals)
Kyle Kinoshita on stereotype threat, Since Time Immemorial curriculum review, Dr. Stephanie Fryberg from UW 

- Increasing equity in HCC, with potential guest speaker Austina De Bonte from NW Gifted Child Association 

- Review of programs that move the needle on equity 

Also in the agenda packet for the Executive Committee meeting is a memo about staff wanting to change the scheduling for committee meetings (see page 20).  The issue?

The current rhythm of the Board meeting calendar does not lead to the most efficient flow of action items through the Board, because the meeting order for a month varies depending on length of the month, the day of the week the month starts on, and holiday breaks. In some cases, staff have to wait 5-6 weeks for items to make it from committee to Board action; at other times, it can be as short as 3 weeks. This inconsistency causes trouble for staff in planning, varying levels of review time for the Board, and slows down the flow of Board business. Staff have been exploring alternative options for the meeting structure and rhythm of Board meetings for the 2017-18 school year.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Thank You, Teachers

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week(s), a video montage of tv and movie teachers in films that many of us enjoyed.

What is a wonderful thing is how many actors - both stage and screen - and singers, when accepting an award for their work, thank their music or drama teacher for believing in them all those years ago.  It says something about the power of teaching and the inspiration therein.

And sometimes it's not even the teachers you love but the ones who pushed you (even when you didn't want to be pushed).

I volunteer just a short amount of time each week in a classroom and I am in awe of the teacher I work with.  It is so tiring and worrying and stressful and yes, wonderful, to know and try to help these students.  And she does it every day, all day.

I want to thank my second grade teacher, Mrs. Gates, my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Springer, my sixth grade PE teacher, Mrs. Banky, my high school civics teacher, Mr. Huddleston, and my high school band teacher, Mr. Brendon.   Your work is not forgotten.

Tuesday Open Thread

Facebook in Australia seems have gotten caught trying to collect data on kids' emotional states to fuel advertising.  It does not seem a surprise but it is one more example of the vast collection of data on kids.
Mining Facebook for young people and children's negative emotions including "stressed," "defeated," "overwhelmed," and "useless" seems contrary to the ethical standards the Code's authors, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), champions.
A horrific story from the AP on a sexual assault at school that escalated from bullying and teasing to sexual assault.  A cautionary tale about the consequences of not nipping bad social behaviors from the start.
Relying on state education records, supplemented by federal crime data, a yearlong investigation by The Associated Press uncovered roughly 17,000 official reports of sex assaults by students over a four-year period, from fall 2011 to spring 2015.

“Schools are required to keep students safe,” said Charol Shakeshaft, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor who specializes in school sexual misconduct. “It is part of their mission. It is part of their legal responsibility. It isn’t happening. Why don’t we know more about it, and why isn’t it being stopped?” 

Elementary and secondary schools have no national requirement to track or disclose sexual violence, and they feel tremendous pressure to hide it. Even under varying state laws, acknowledging an incident can trigger liabilities and requirements to act.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article147796139.html#storylink=cpy
The district has a great story about the visit of civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, to Seattle and his book, March.
The donation originated from SAM supporter and Seattle attorney, Mathew Bergman, who provided 3000 copies of the March trilogy plus tickets to see its authors at a sold-out SAM event held in Benaroya Hall. Of the 3000 copies, 1800 will be used in schools while the remaining 1200, plus tickets to the Benaroya Hall event, were offered to students of Cleveland, Franklin, Garfield, and Rainier Beach, high schools with which Bergman had connections to in the past. 
A big thank-you to Mr. Bergman for his efforts and generous donation.

What's on your mind?

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article147796139.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article147796139.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, May 01, 2017

Enrollment Updates

Many, many of you - both here and at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page - have expressed concerns over the enrollment trends for next year.

It appears that 10+ schools that have been underenrolled, will continue to be underenrolled and will lose staff over that fact, also have waitlists.  That does seem odd unless the goal is to force people to go to their neighborhood schools.  But if a school has been underenrolled, doesn't it help to have it fully enrolled even if it's with people not in that neighborhood? 

I wrote to the Board about this and heard back from Director Rick Burke:
Enrollment. I share many of the community's concerns. Staff is taking a deeper look at waitlists today and has been asked to provide updates and supporting data this week. I expect it to be a topic of discussion at Wed Board meeting.
Also, reader Just FYI reports that there are updated waitlist numbers put up this morning.

I checked out the waitlist and found some interesting trends.

- popular programs like dual-language at Beacon Hill/JSIS/McDonald as well as Montessori at Daniel Bagley have significant kindergarten waitlists (interestingly, Graham Hill's Montessori program only has one student on the waitlist)

- Ballard/Hale/Chief Sealth have modest waitlists, there are large GenEd waitlists at Garfield, Franklin, Roosevelt, at 68, 50 and 69, respectively at 9th grade Gen Ed.  Ingraham has large waitlists for GenEd and HCC: 26 and 44 students for the 9th grade.  West Seattle High has 22 students on its 9th grade waitlist.  Sealth and Rainier Beach have virtually no waitlists. 

- Center School has a 9th grade waitlist of 8 students for 9th grade. 

- Hazel Wolf has an astonishing 90 students on its kindergarten waitlist and 53 for first grade with 55 for 6th grade.  Pathfinder has 35 students on its kindergarten waitlist. Salmon Bay has a waitlist in several grades (interestingly, a large one for 3rd grade).  South Shore K-8 also has small waitlists in nearly every grade. STEM K-8 has large waitlist at most grades, with 57 students for kindergarten.  Thornton Creek also has a large kindergarten waitlist.  Jane Addams has a 6th grade waitlist of 25.

- New Schools - Cedar Park has very small waitlists, RESMS has its largest waitlist (13) at 6th grade.  Meany has no waitlist.

- Thurgood Marshall has a waitlist of 26 for General Ed and 1 for HCC in kindergarten.  Cascadia has no waitlist for kindergarten and small waitlists for a couple of other grades.

- Nothing too dramatic in middle school except Whitman has 26 on the list for 7th grade and 25 for 8th grade.  The exception is Mercer with 35 for 6th grade.

OSPI Looking for Input on Special Ed Manual

OSPI has a short survey for feedback on their Special Education Manual.

In Advance of May Day Protests

From SPS Communications via Twitter:

Monday PM activities that req transportation are cancelled at Gatzert, T. Marshall, McClure, and Wash MS in anticipation of May Day protests.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Parents of Teens - Things to Have on Your Radar

I know that most parents know their children well.  But do think back to when you were a teenager and wanted to hide something from your parents?  A solid object or something you learned about that may have seemed cool but you knew your parents might not like.

Well, in today's online world there's even MORE for teens to learn about and possibly want to hide.

Exhibit One (via Stranger Slog):
A List of Where Teens Stash Their Drugs
Published by the Drug Enforcement Administration on their Get Smart About Drugs website, the list features some warnings great ideas about everyday objects where kids can stash their drugs—inside alarm clocks, heating vents, teddy bears, game consoles, and (for the nerds out there) graphing calculators.
More items mentioned: highlighter caps, shoes, and candy wrappers.

Resources for parents with concerns over addictions. 

Exhibit Two: Milo Yiannopoulos

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Special Session Heats Up

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Summer Stinson, one of the originators of Washington's Paramount Duty, went to Olympia this week to testify about the Senate budget bill.  Here's her statement:

Friday, April 28, 2017

K-5 English Language Arts Adoption

From Kyle Kinoshita, Chief of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction to K-5/K-8 school leaders:

Emerson Principal Resigning at End of Year

But somehow that principal - Andrea Drake -  will then be working at JSCEE on "eliminating opportunities gaps."  I guess so but if she doesn't play well with others in a school, how moving her to JSCEE will change that is a mystery.

I wonder what the role of the Executive Director of that region was in all this.  (I'll have a thread on this soon as it seems that no one at JSCEE can quite agree on what their role is or what they actually do.)

Friday Open Thread

I didn't go to the Work Session on Wednesday but here's the agenda.  Interesting reading and the budget detail for next year starts on page 59.  For Central Office, it looks like Communications, HR (Nutrition and Securities) and Facilities took most of the blow from cuts.

"Initial" school calendar dates here; still needs Board approval.

I see the Board webpage has undergone a bit of a design update.  Unfortunately, they don't have a calendar update for director meetings - not so helpful.  Here's a link that has them as Patu, Pinkham and Peters (the three "Ps" of the Board) all have community meetings tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

It's in Our Constitution (Note that word, "Ample")

"PDF" versus Homework

"PDF" is a new phrase out there - playtime, downtime and family time - that references the non-structured hours of a student's day.

What some researchers are finding is that today's student has far less of that free time than we did.  From the NY Times:

Dandelion-Gate at the State Capitol

I had to post this from Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Still Waiting

A Parent's Plea

One parent's plea to the Legislature via Senator Reuven Carlyle:
Dear Senator Carlyle,

A couple of Fridays ago, we went to my daughter Isabella's school auction. I didn't really want to go.

Tuesday Open Thread

From KUOW:
Young people who are detained by law enforcement in King County can no longer waive their right to an attorney on their own.

On Monday, the King County Council unanimously approved a motion meant to ensure that young people in custody are fully informed when deciding whether to talk to law enforcement.  The new ordinance requires kids detained at the Juvenile Detention Center in Seattle to get advice from an attorney first.
Another story of interest from KUOW, this on the use of police in schools:
Police are handling routine discipline issues in many Washington schools – sometimes even arresting children — finds a new study from the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.  The ACLU-WA found that 84 percent of the state’s largest school districts have police officers patrolling the halls, even at the elementary level in more than a quarter of districts studied.
The ACLU-WA also found that police are more likely to be stationed in schools with more students of color and in low-income neighborhoods. That's relevant because researchers found that students were more likely to be arrested for regular discipline issues if police were based at their school. 
"It is actually a crime under Washington law to intentionally disturb or disrupt a school,” Hernandez said. “We think that that crime should never be applied against students. You shouldn’t be arrested or prosecuted for misbehaving in your classroom.”
That last statement gives me pause because, in the course of attacking a teacher or other student physically, the attacking student could be charged with assault AND "disrupting the class."  Maybe that law needs to be clarified.  The ACLU is urging revisiting this law.

Circling back to the subject of resilience, a very compelling conversation with actress Sally Field and ballerina Misty Copeland in the New York Times.

Funny story from the New York Times on "the coolest kindergarten class in the world."
Since 2010, the Pestalozzi Foundation has operated from inside the stadium — literally inside, not next door or across the street — offering families perks that are most likely unique in the world of early childhood education.

The kindergarten borrows the stadium’s field, tunnels and roof for group activities. Players from the team come by to read to the children. Teachers use the arena’s main stand as a sort of giant break room. And on match days, parents clamor to reserve a spot to watch from the prime vantage point of the kindergarten’s deck, within shouting distance of the rowdy southern stands.

Dribbling, here, had two meanings.
What's on your mind?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Extra, Extra - Another Day, Another Issue at Garfield

From the Seattle Times:
One of Seattle’s flagship high schools is under investigation for possible football recruiting violations tied to a youth from Texas, who says he was flown north to Garfield High with promises of athletic opportunity.

Will Sanders, 19, spent last fall’s football season as a running back for the Bulldogs, where he was the third-leading rusher — even though poor grades would have made him ineligible to play the entire time. While here, he bounced between the residences of a track coach and team parents. 

Meanwhile, the team racked up its best season in years.
Well, echoes of Hale because they,too, had their best basketball season ever with imported players.

Who's involved?

Telephone and Network Access at Olympic Hills and Hazel Wolf

From SPS:
On Saturday, telephone and network access to two schools Olympic Hills Elementary and Hazel Wolf K-8 were disrupted. A car accident on I-5 knocked a telephone pole across the highway and in order to move the pole, telephone and network cables were cut.

Good News from the City on Two Tier Busing

From Liza Rankin at Soup for Teachers:  

It's a go! 

The city is giving $2.3M for us to move to 2 tiers from the Families and Ed Levy, and also giving $300,000 or so to fund crossing guards at 100+ locations around the city! It still needs to be officially adopted by the Levy Oversight Committee and council, but that's a formality. They are all for it!

Grit versus Resiliency

There is this new meme for discussions in public education circles about helping kids - especially those in crisis - find "grit."  To me, this sounds much like a sports idea when a kid gets hurt; "throw some dirt on it and get back up."

It'sa good thing to encourage kids to learn how to rise up against issues and outcomes, big and small.  But we all remember what it feels like - as a child - to not know just how you were going to climb over, dig under or just plain outwait a problem.

A very good op-ed appeared in this morning's New York Times from Sheryl Sandberg: How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss.   As you may recall, Ms. Sandberg, Facebook COO, suffered the sudden loss of her husband two years ago, leaving her with two young children to raise alone. (bold mine)

This and That

A lengthy and interesting chart of the generations currently living in the U.S. - Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials.  (This came to me via the Horace Mann news feed but has no attribution.)  I note that Millennials seem to span two generations, X and Z.   From Wiki:

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Superintendent's Latest Pep Talk/Boo Hoo on the Budget

On Friday, Superintendent Nyland posted a letter about the budget for the next school year (partial):

Mayor Murray and His Record

The mayoral race is picking up steam with the addition of activist Cary Moon to the major candidate group including Mayor Murray, former mayor Mike McGinn, activist Nikkita Oliver.  As for the Mayor's legal problems, I'm sure we will all learn more as the court case goes on but his record is what voters should really look at.

To that end, a guest column from parent/activist Carolyn Leith (SPS parent of two students). 
On November 2, 2015, one day before the general election, Mayor Ed Murray held a press conference on the steps of Olympic View Elementary to promote The Levy to Move Seattle.

Students wore their orange safety patrol vests, parents applauded enthusiastically, and the Mayor promised that a YES vote would mean sidewalks, always promised by the City - but never delivered, would finally be built on 8th Ave. NE.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Message to Legislature: Get Off Your High Horse and Get This Done

An update (partial) from one of my reps from the 43rd, Nicole Macri:
It has become clear that the legislature will need to go into overtime in order to get our work done this year. While making decisions about the state’s two-year budget is complicated, I am disappointed that Senate Republicans haven’t even made a good faith effort to begin negotiating so we could adjourn on time. I know you’re tired of hearing about unproductive partisanship. After just my first legislative session as your representative, I’m already pretty sick of bickering that holds back our important work too. Even House Republicans—admirably, in my opinion—want to sit down and negotiate.
Nonetheless, I feel a need to let you know that Senate negotiators are literally not even sitting down at the table.

They’re just not negotiating.

I receive regular updates from our House budget negotiators, and they report that they’ve had conversations with Senate negotiators about Easter and the weather, but are met with silence when attempting to bring up the important work the legislature needs to do. This regular 105 day session will end with much unfinished business.
end of update
No, the Legislature did not finish on time, and yes, the Governor has called a special session.

From The News Tribune:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday Open Thread

Two sad remembrances - Mark Twain died on this day in 1910 and Prince died a year ago.  Both brought great art to our country.

It appears that the Legislature will not be getting their job done of creating a budget that includes fully funding public education.  I'll assume the Supreme Court will sit back and just watch it unfold with the rest of us.  I wish they would actually do something but now all we can do is wait.  I don't think any amount of lobbying or advocating is going to make a whit of difference at this point.

Tom Ahearne, lead counsel for the McClearys, told the Seattle Times that he doesn't have a lot of confidence this will get done properly.  As Kathryn Selk said at the Facebook page of WPD:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Regional Superintendents Send White Paper to Legislature

A letter of interest called "An Educational Funding Position Paper Submitted by the Superintendents of the NW Educational Service District 189 Region" was send to the Governor, State Superintendent Rykdal, and members of the Washington State Legislature on March 23, 2017.

2017-2018 Calendar to be at District Website "Soon"

Thus sayeth Superintendent Nyland at last night's Board meeting.  I would assume "soon" to mean by the end of the week.

He did say it would include holidays and breaks but probably not Early Release days.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tonight's Board Meeting Speaker List

That list is mighty short, just seven people.

You don't need to call in but just show up and ask that your name be added to the list.

Now's a good time to get in there and tell the Board what is troubling you about the district.

Enrollment and Waitlists

By request, a thread on this topic.  Waitlist link.

I'm going to reprint Kellie LaRue's comments to start it (bold/color mine):

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Diane Ravitch writes about Washington state, billionaires and the inability to fully-fund public education.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Privatization of Public Schools

I previously posted the long memo called Real Choice vs. False Choice: The Repercussions of Privatization Programs for Students, Parents, and Public Schools that Senator Patty Murray sent to her colleagues in late March about the privatization of public schools. She does credit in laying out real world examples of how privatization has not worked in the U.S.

Her most basic point?
Privatization efforts provide a false sense 
of choice for many students and families. 

From the Network for Public Education comes the NPE Toolkit: School Privatization Explained
on PrivatizationThere are a variety of topics covered about charter schools as well as tax credit and voucher programs.  They give Washington State a "C" for school privatization.

 Here's some of what Senator Murray's memo says:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Seattle Schools This Week

I haven't been writing this particular thread as of late but I found something rather interesting in the school board meeting agenda.

This is the last week of the legislative session but I hope no one is holding their breath that the budget (and McCleary) will get done.  It's just beyond the patience of districts, schools, staffs and parents to have to watch the Legislature have to use MORE state money to get work done that should have been finished years ago.  

It looks like this week and next week will be SBAC testing (at least for high schools).  Again, your child only needs to take it once to graduate.  You can opt your child out of the test in any other grade level and the district has to give them some place to be. 

The Board has an Audit and Finance Committee meeting this week.  The agenda is mostly taken over by the purchase of a new point-of-sale system.  But right at the end of the agenda (and the lengthy documentation) is a change to Policy 6022 around the Economic Stabilization Account.   This change would mean two things:
  • Staff can recommend using the account for any reason.  The current policy has clear reasons for using this fund which I believe is basically the district's rainy day fund.  The current reasons are: emergencies for life, health or public safety issues and correcting accounting/budgeting errors.
  • A plan to rebuild the fund (which staff says is not in the original policy but I see something that approximates that).  
If this change does not happen, then the district cannot access these funds in order to shore up the budget for next year.  While I understand that need, I think striking stated reasons to access this fund is a bad idea.

I also note this interesting phrasing from the Monthly Financial Report under Debt Service Fund:

The large fund balance has been established as a sinking fund for the 2010 QSCB ($17.5M) that is coming due in June 2017.
I'll ask but I'm hoping that doesn't mean the district has to pay out $17.5M in June for the QSCB (Qualified School Construction Bonds).

To the Board meeting agenda.  The bulk of the meeting - the Consent agenda, Action and Intro - is largely going to be Capital issues from several BEX IV projects. 

But what is of most interest will be the Superintendent's comments.  One notation just says "West Seattle Elementary School" but there is nothing else to give an inkling what this might be.  The other one seems far more serious.

Notice of Public Employee Relations Commission Decision 12672 - Chief Sealth High School

Friday, April 14, 2017

Thing to Do This Weekend (for free)

This weekend is one of the Free Entrance Days for the national parks system.  Here's something else I didn't know about:

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

Interesting but somewhat concerning article from the Chicago Tribune about students who take the state's free SAT who then find that the score appears on their transcript (whether they want it there or a not). 
While the test is designed to evaluate whether a student is prepared for college, some parents say it's unfair to rely on just one exam. They note that anything from an illness to anxiety could disrupt the test-taking process, leaving students stuck with a score that could hurt their child's chances of getting into their dream school.
Well, yeah. Some kids take the SAT multiple times.  Some do better on the ACT.  Why wouldn't the student and their parent decide what score goes to admissions offices?   Seems like this could be an opt-in thing rather than a blanket item.

Anyone heard of this for SPS?  

Fill Out Your Invoice and Send It to the Legislature

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Friday Open Thread

Teens Take a Stand: Learning about your rights - a program on Friday, April 21st at the Douglass Truth Library from 4-5:30 pm.

We are now in the home stretch for this legislative session but it's a safe bet that the budget will not be done (because of McCleary).  Good point here from WPD Facebook:
Hypocrisy: WA legislature doubling down on unconstitutional funding of charter schools citing "the will of the voters" in 2016, while rescinding constitutional ST3 funding in 2017 that voters passed. We see you and your voting records. Don't you dare rescind the class-size reduction we all voted for. This is getting ridiculous.
Yes, it's amazing when a majority vote is the "will of the people" when it suits the legislature's purposes but when it doesn't, sorry, your vote doesn't matter.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Inner Thoughts of the Seattle School Board on Assessments

At the last Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting, head of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction, Kyle Kinoshita, reported out to the Board a compilation of what staff heard regarding "the Board feedback on the assessment policy draft from the Committee of the Whole meeting"  (See page 44 of the agenda.)

He also states:

We are still sorting through feedback from the Board as well as our continued stakeholder engagement to determine the next set of revisions to the policy draft.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

More Thoughts on Gifted Education

Update:  there's a new movie out about a gifted child called...Gifted.

Also, thank you to reader NE Parent for this link to a NY Times article on finding more gifted students of color.  It makes for fascinating reading.

Tuesday Open Thread

Such sad news from San Bernadino yesterday.  It is almost breathtaking that this teacher's husband signed in at the office and then proceeded to go to her classroom to confront her with a gun.  In a room full of children.  My heart goes out to the family of the child, Jonathan Martinez, who died along with the teacher, Karen Elaine Smith.

Betsy DeVos continues her tour of charter schools, this time with our First Lady AND the Queen of Jordan to an all-girls charter school in Washington, D.C.  Meanwhile, the Texas(!) state house voted no to sending state funds to private schools not even for poor kids.  From the Houston Chronicle:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Does Your Student Know about CTE?

That would be Career and Technical Education, what we used to call vocational education. 
Seattle Schools has really kicked this department into gear.  This follows a national reawakening (finally) that not every student is or wants to go to college. 

Here's how the district describes it:

Sunday, April 09, 2017

PTAs and Sharing Dollars

The New York Times had a revealing article today about sharing PTA fundraising dollars. 
According to a new report by the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group, schools that serve just one-tenth of 1 percent of American students collect 10 percent of the estimated $425 million that PTAs raise nationwide each year.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Opt Out Form

From Seattle Opt Out:


Decision to Support the Whole Child Form
The unofficial form for opting out of high stakes testing*

Please clearly print the following information and return to your school’s principal.

On Option Schools and Class Sizes

I listened to Superintendent Nyland's explanation at last Wednesday's Board meeting of why class sizes may be larger at Option schools than neighborhood schools.

I also read this letter from the School Board office:

Weather Note

Folks, it is supposed to be a nasty day weather-wise.  The afternoon is to bring very strong winds and I urge you to not be out there unless you absolutely have to be.  In recent years, we did have a father killed in a car traveling through a park during a high windstorm (luckily his child survived). 

Be careful out there.

Friday Open Thread

No directors' community meetings on Saturday; I note from Wednesday's Board meeting that directors are struggling to find spaces. 

From the Seattle Art Museum:
Congratulations to the 200 young artists whose tremendous talent shines through in the 2017 Naramore Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Middle and High School Art Show!  Join us for the reception and awards ceremony on May 5, at 6:00 pm as we honor all participants for their amazing creativity!  Free and open to the public.
A huge congratulations to the Michael James, Director, and the Ballard High School Wind Ensemble which will play at Carnegie Hall in NYC.  
We were accepted into the "New York International Music Festival" through a competitive audition process and are one of eight ensembles chosen to perform at this particular festival on stage at Carnegie Hall on April 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm.
SPS high schools won top honors at the Washington State University's Edward R. Murrow High School Journal Competition in photography (1st place, Ballard), best newspaper edition (1st place. Nathan Hale), feature writing (2nd place, Nathan Hale), best website (2nd place, Nathan Hale) and multimedia (2nd place Nathan Hale).

More congratulations this time to the Thornton Creek Archery teams that recently competed at Central Washington University at the National Archery in the Schools Program. 
One Thornton team placed second out of 14 teams in the Elementary Division. Three girls on that team placed in the top ten of the elementary girls category to qualify for the National Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, May 11-13th , 2017.
The district is looking for members for an Ethnic Studies Task Force.  This seems a bit cart before the horse given the Board has no approved this effort.  I think the Board approves of the idea but no firm approval has been given.   Of course, most SPS "taskforces" find their work usually shaped or ignored by senior management so this may just be for show.
Focusing on grades 9-12 is the first step in ensuring ethnic studies are part of the preK-12 learning experience for all students in the district. Help inform and shape this important work by applying to join the task force by April 21.
Trying to get your kid into UW?  They just received a ranking of 9th out of 10 among world universities from the Center for Work University Rankings so it may get even more competitive.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Race, Education Reform and Public Schools

A very fine article from NPR from last September about race and charter schools provided a wide variety of thoughtful opinions.  Much of the debate has been around the NAACP calling for a moratorium on the opening on new charter schools. 
Some education leaders are rushing to embrace the newly frank conversation about the racial impact of education reforms. Others are caught awkwardly in the middle. And some — especially conservative — reformers feel alienated.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Still Waiting for McCleary Dollars

Data Privacy Bill in Legislative Docket

Update: it appears that the Legislature is doing even more.  This from a story in the Puget Sound Business Journal.
A bipartisan group of Washington state lawmakers on Wednesday introduced companion measures, House Bill 2200 and Senate Bill 5919, to update the state’s consumer protection act and require internet service providers operating in the state to obtain a customer’s permission before selling data.

Internet service providers including Comcast, Verizon and AT&T released statements since Congress appealed the FCC rules, claiming they don’t intend to sell customers’ browsing histories.
end of update

The Times had an op-ed today from State Rep. North Smith, R-Clinton, who serves as the ranking Republican member on the House Technology and Economic Development Committee about a bill - HB 1904 - that she is sponsoring.

In her op-ed she says,
The protection of your personal data and privacy is crucila, which is why I want to make one thing very clear; while contressional Republicans may be making it easier to sell your data, lawmakers in Olympia have a strong recrod of accomplishment in protecting your personal information. 
She goes on,
House Bill 1904 has bipartisan support in the House, and is one of the few revenue bills that will be on the table during final budget negotiations this sessions. 
The bill hasn't even made it out of the House committee so I have to wonder.

I looked at the bill and here's what I see:

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Work Session on the 2017-2018 Budget

For this Work Session, all of the directors were present in person except for Director Blanford who was there via phone.  The Superintendent was there as were several senior staff members.

President Peters did seem to set a good tone for action when she stated, "We are going to have to make decisions tonight."

I actually don't want to do a complete detailing of the work session but I'll just summarize and give some highlights.  Also, some of the nitty-gritty of the details of what pots of reserves that are actually going to be used went over my head.  I felt like I must have miss that discussion somewhere.


Option Schools and Larger Class Sizes

I hadn't intended to write about this yet as I am still waiting for some answers from the district but here's what is being said at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page:
If you are at one of the option schools listed below -- you will have LARGER class room sizes in 2017/2018.

Tuesday Open Thread

I went to the Work Session on the budget for next year.  More to come but spoiler alert: the majority of the Board went along with everything staff wanted.

From Senator Jamie Pedersen's newsletter:
One of the bright spots this year has been the bipartisan agreement on the capital budget, which funds a variety of building and maintenance projects throughout the state. I was very pleased to see a large number of projects that I advocated for funded in the proposal. In particular, the capital request for Seattle Public Schools that I led for our Seattle delegation was approved in its entirety! 

Seattle Public Schools - $22M (including expansion of West Woodland Elementary)
Over in Bellevue, their schools' foundation raised over $700,000 at their annual luncheon.
Ardmore Elementary School Principal Chas Miller told guests that in his 11 years as a principal in other states, he’s never seen anything like the community support for education that is a cultural norm in Bellevue.

“It’s not as if I came from a place that didn’t care about the schools, but the sheer coordination and the sheer will of so many people at the same time saying, ‘We’re going to support public education,’ was something I had never experienced in my career,” Miller said.

For the district’s youngest learners, particularly in the Title I Ardmore student population, the benefits are striking.

“In Kindergarten last year the number of students scoring ‘far below proficient’ dropped from 74% in September to 10% in June—a 64% change,” he said.
 The Times reports that $800,000 has been raised to cover testing costs for low-income students who are taking AP or IB tests this year.  

What's on your mind?

Monday, April 03, 2017

Getting Unpleasant at House Budget Hearing

From WPD Facebook via Robert Cruickshank
If you watched today's testimony, you saw numerous people, including business owners, who would pay the taxes in the House budget (capital gains and B&O) step up to say they supported it because our children come first. 

But one lobbyist for our state's biggest companies, including Walmart, Shell, Uber, AT&T, Blue Cross, and more, claims in this tweet that it was just a room full of "spenders" (as if you can reduce parents and children to that) and no "payers". 

Just a sign of what we're up against. But we can and will win this battle, because when it comes to ensuring every child has an amply funded public education, losing is not an option.
I would remind Mr. Gano that every adult in that room pays taxes.  Appalling.

Early Education Promises from Mayoral Candidate Nikkita Oliver

I'll be trying to have interviews with all the mayoral candidates but I did see this article from Capitol Hill Seattle with some of candidate Nikkita Oliver's education ideas.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Money Matters

The cancelled Work Session on the 2017-2018 budget is scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, April 3rd from 5:30-7:00 pm at JSCEE. 

(Immediately preceding it is the Curriculum & Instruction Policy committee meeting from 4:00-5:30 pm.  Agenda.)


Remember that Crosscut article that pointed out that the Senate GOP numbers were off?  The News Tribune finds another issue:
What has now become clear is that the education plan introduced by Senate Republicans doesn’t put as much new money into schools as GOP leaders would like people to believe.

Senate leaders have said their budget would put about $1.8 billion in new state money into K-12 schools in the next two years — a number that, on its surface, comes close to matching the $1.9 billion investment promised in a competing plan from House Democrats

But that Senate estimate of $1.8 billion doesn’t reflect the actual amount of new funding that would go to school districts under the GOP proposal.

Senate leaders now acknowledge that — after factoring in how their plan would reduce local dollars for schools — their approach would add significantly less than $1.8 billion to the state’s K-12 system in the next two years.
Two policy wonks, Barbara Billinghurst and Nancy Chamberlain, at the Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page have really done yeoman's work on this issue.  Thank you!