Friday, June 23, 2017

With Overlapping City/Public Education Issues, Here's What the Candidates Think

I've managed to interview six of the top eight candidates for mayor of Seattle.  (I previously said seven, my error.)  Those are:  Cary Moon, Mike McGinn, Bob Hasegawa, Jessyn Farrell, Casey Carlisle and Nikkita Oliver.

I reached out twice to Mary Martin (Socialist Workers Party) with no reply.  I also reached out three times to Jenny Durkan's campaign (both in person and via email).  They promised an interview but it never materialized.  Given what Durkan said to the 36th Dems in her interview with them (see end of this post), I would not recommend her as the mayor to watch over public education in our city.

My Recommendations
The candidates I think have the best grasp of what is currently happening in Seattle Public Schools as well as good ideas about how the mayor can work with the district are Jessyn Farrell, Mike McGinn and Nikkita Oliver.  Farrell and McGinn are current SPS parents and Ms. Oliver works in SPS schools.

In speaking with candidates about public education, I came away the most impressed with Farrell and Oliver.  Both spoke with knowledge and passion about the issues facing Seattle Schools.

The only candidate that addresses education at her campaign website is Nikkita Oliver. 
She has a whole page of concerns and ideas.

Honorable mention for Farrell, Moon, and Hasegawa for mentioning education/child-related concerns at their websites.

All the candidates I spoke with understood the role of the City is not governance of schools and, to a person, were not for mayoral control of the schools. 

Editor's update: I did overlook mentioning that I asked candidates about charter schools receiving funds from the Families and Education levy.  (The current language would not allow that but I perceive that charter supporters will try to get it into the next version.) No one thought that a good idea save Mr. Carlisle.

Friday Open Thread

Two director community meetings tomorrow:

Director Blanford - Douglass-Truth Library from 10 am to noon
Director Patu - Raconteur from 10 am to 11:30 am

The Seattle Youth Commission is looking for new members.
The Seattle Youth Commission is a group of 15 Seattle teens from all over the city who are appointed by the Mayor and City Council to connect youth to local elected officials, advise on City policies, and discuss issues that youth in Seattle are facing. There is a Youth Commissioner representing each of the seven City Council Districts, as well as eight at-large commissioners. 

Youth Commissioners must be between the ages of 13 - 19.
Applications must be received by July 17, 2017 at 5pm.
Betsy DeVos Watch:

New York Times opinion writer Gail Collins had a quiz - Who's the Worst Cabinet Member and guess who won?  Yup, DeVos.
“It’s hard to be worse than Sessions or Pruitt. But DeVos deals with … children,” wrote a Michigan reader.

DeVos really hates public schools — something you don’t find often in a secretary of education. Her goal seems to be replacing them with charter schools, none of which will need much oversight because, you know, the choice thing.

Many readers noted that our secretary of education does not seem to be … all that bright. (“DeVos is a solid choice based on irony alone.”)
Amazing that anyone could beat Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) or Scott Pruitt (EPA) but DeVos pulled it off. 

Oh, and in case you have some ideas for the Department of Ed, they're looking for them. 
The Department of Education (Department) is seeking input on regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.
One of their guidelines for elimination of regulations - impose costs that exceed benefits - might be a tough one to measure but I'm sure many will try.

What's on your mind?

State Budget Update: Nothing Happening Here (with Dire Consequences Coming)

These tweets say it all:

17h17 hours ago
McCleary Crime Scene Retweeted Crosscut
Great & their enabler get to hold the 4th of July hostage, as the political brinkmanship over continues.

If the can't pass a budget by June 30, the state's 125 parks will be closed for Fourth of July.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Stevens Elementary Trying to Fight Cuts

From Stevens parents worried about their school.  Understand that if the Board does not act on policies that are broken/bent/ignored, then YOUR school community could be next.  

I can see what the district is doing - clearly, if they got Madrona's enrollment up near building capacity, they are trying to fill schools.  But it is just wrong to then leave other schools twisting in the wind.  (I think staff believes that more people will eventually move near Stevens and it, too, will fill back up but meanwhile they are ridiculously below their capacity.  And, I think the district is triaging schools by student population.  Again, that might be okay except that the policy doesn't state that.) 

Where Should New Schools Be Built?

A group of parents are forming a grass-roots campaign to have the Fort Lawton re-development project in Magnolia become a new STEAM (science and environment, technology, engineering, arts, math) middle school or a magnet STEAM high school instead of building homes for the homeless. This new plan would serve the entire city with an attendance area drawing from students in the Magnolia/Queen Anne cluster. 

The property already has all the modern updated classroom-ready facilities, gym, cafeteria, conference rooms, vault, huge parking areas and multiple outbuildings for specialty education. Education staff conference lounge, counseling areas, library and other functions of a fully operational school are all in place. Five separate parking lots provide ample room for staff and student parking.
The buildings can be transferred to the school district at no cost. The city’s scoping period for this re-development project ends at 5:00 PM on June 26th so the timing is imminent.

Please submit public comment asking for a school to be added as an alternative development plan for Fort Lawton and that it be added to the Environmental Impact Statement.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Supporting SPS Families in Need

In a remarkably short amount of time, SPS families from several different NE schools, via Soup for Teacher's heroic, Liza Rankin, have organized family gift bags for every family that lives at the Sand Point Housing campus of Solid Ground, Brettler Family Place.  That is where Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of four,  was gunned down on Sunday by SPD officers responding to her call about a burglary. 

There is a GoFundme page for Ms Lyles' family.  The page has raised over $80,000 so far.

Here's one message at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page:

Thanks for taking this on, Liza Rankin, and for all of the volunteers and those who have contributed. We thank you with all of our hearts! -Karen Stukovsky, SPE PTA co-President

I just want to gently point out the irony of this huge effort by people from several different NE schools in contrast to the image put forth by the recent KUOW story on several NE schools.  

No group is monolithic and casting doubt - on any one group of people, whether by race or region - is really not fair and, of course, very likely to be untrue.

We need to rise up to believe in each other and lift all boats.  Just as this remarkable group of people is doing.

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people sitting, table and indoor

Wednesday Open Thread

I've interviewed 7 of the top 8 mayoral candidates.  Who is up and who is down seems to vary.  I just heard on KUOW that a survey puts former mayor Mike McGinn at the top, following by Jenny Durkan and Bob Hasegawa.  At last night's 43rd Dems endorsement meeting, Jessyn Farrell came out on top (by a wide margin) and Jenny Durkan is tops in fund-raising.

I'll be publishing their answers and my thoughts on the race from the perspective of public education but I thought I'd throw out a couple of questions to survey my readership.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

SPD Shooting of Mother Sparks Loss for SPS Communities

I was away this weekend and so am just coming to learning about the terrible shooting of a black pregnant mother of three, Charleena Lyles, at transitional housing for people coming out of homelessness.  Her children - two in Seattle schools - may have been present at the shooting.

I heard the audio tape of the incident and it's hard to grasp how quickly the police apparently felt threatened by what is to be a small woman with mental health issues.  And especially since the police knew she had mental health issues.  I'm sure I am not alone in believing that had Ms Lyles been white, she would be alive today.

SEA will have a rally at 5 pm followed by a press conference/vigil tonight at 6 pm at Brettler (the re-settlement site at Magnuson).  Teachers are being encouraged to wear their Black Lives Matter t-shirts today.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Thought-Provoking Article on KUOW on "White Liberal Racism" in SPS

 I don't have time to write a full thread on this article but it certainly seems written to be incendiary (including that headline which seems to me, a non-journalist, not the most objective headline they could have used).

Some of Blanford's and Geary's comments also seem a little-less-than-nuanced.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Open Thread

City  Council Member Tim Burgess is taking a (non-scientific) survey about your thoughts on an income tax for wealthy Seattle families.  I put this up because, in the end, if passed, that tax may play a part in funding for the district.

FYI if you have a child in Special Education:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017-2018 Bell Times

From SPS Communications:

SEATTLE – Seattle Public Schools today expressed their appreciation for $2.3 million in one-time funding that allows the district to implement a two-tier school schedule for the 2017-18 school year:

“The City Council voted yesterday to approve one-time funds to move us to this new two-tier bus schedule. We are grateful to Mayor Murray for bringing this issue forward  as a city priority and the City Council for finding a thoughtful funding solution. Changing to a two-tier bell schedule will eliminate the latest or third tier of school start and end times, which has been a hardship on many of our families. 

We also want to thank and recognize the many families who shared their perspectives and concerns about the bell time schedule with us. The final schedule reflects the varied needs and perspectives of our families, students, staff and partners.”

The final bell schedule for Seattle Public Schools is posted online here. The 2017-18 school calendar is also posted online.

Congrats to all the Grads of 2017!

Such a happy and exciting time for our seniors and their families.

I see six (!) graduations for Monday, four for Tuesday and Wednesday and two for Thursday.

Best wishes for a wonderful time (and dry weather). 

Seattle School Board Elections 2017 - District V

Editor's Note: please see this thread for my process for vetting candidates.

District V

The candidates who filed for this position are/were:
  • Omar Vasquez
  • Andre Helmstetter
  • Candace Vaivadas
  • Zachary Pullin DeWolf
  • Alec Cooper
  • Michelle Sarju Withdrawn
For District V, I recommend (in no particular order) Andre Helmstetter and Alec Cooper.  I do think Zachary DeWolf has an excellent background in public service but probably doesn't know the district well enough.  Cooper and Helmstetter do.  Again, my concern is the learning curve it takes to be a director. 

I confess I find it hard to pick as all three each have different strengths.  I look forward to hearing them speak at forums between now and the primary. 

Cooper is a straight-ahead, blunt candidate who wants to get things done.  Personally, I find that very appealing.  He would an analytical skill set to the Board.  He is an SPS parent.

Helmstetter has an inviting demeanor and warmth and is a good listener.  His skill set includes being a trained facilitator as well as his job working with groups/companies to sharpen/clean-up their operations and policies.  He is an SPS parent.

Zachary DeWolf is the most soft-spoken but with a drive to serve and help better communities as he has done for  years.  His work at the Seattle Housing Authority means that he knows issues around housing problems for low-income families.  This is knowledge and understanding that would be worthwhile to bring to the Board. 

Helmstetter, DeWolf, Cooper and Vasquez have filed with the PDC; only DeWolf has contributions.  

I interviewed all the candidates in person for this race except Vaivadas, who I do not believe is qualified for the position based on her 36th Dems interview, and Vasquez, who despite claiming he did want to interview with me, has suddenly gone silent and not answered queries.  More on him below but upfront I will say he is the last person I would want to see come out of the primary.

Seattle School Board Elections 2017: District VII

Please note this thread where I outline my guidelines for the interviews.

District VII
Currently Director Betty Patu represents this region.  She is running to retain her seat and has two challengers.

- Tony Hemphill.  He is a chiropractor who also has an MBA and graduated from Garfield in 1991.
- Chelsea Byers.  From her work bio:
She spent several years as a Teach For America math teacher in Oakland, CA. After that, she went to England to earn a masters in quantitative analysis from the London School of Economics, where she also helped to train teachers and develop curriculum for a flagship outreach program at University College London. She then followed this line of work to Hong Kong and Italy. Now at General Assembly, Chelsea manages training and development for instructors and leads a team of instructional coaches.

She currently works for a local company, Galvanize, which provides tech training services.

Only Patu and Byers are registered at the PDC; neither has any contributions to date.  I only interviewed Patu and Byers.  I did have a phone interview set up with Hemphill but he was not available and did not contact me back as to why he was not available.

This is the Board race with the fewest candidates and so I believe it is Patu and Byers who are the favorites to move forward out of the primary (unless Hemphill decides to have more of a presence in the race and soon).

I am endorsing Betty Patu to keep her seat in District VII.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Seattle Schools News

Today the City Council voted 6-0 for funding the buses for the two-tier transportation system for SPS.  I don't know who was absent/didn't vote.

Nothing from the district yet at either the website or on Twitter.

From Washington's Paramount Duty (this is for Thursday, the 15th):

Image may contain: 18 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoorGovernor Inslee will be at Garfield High School in Seattle tomorrow at 2:30 PM for education funding townhall. Come as soon as you can after school! 

Here's the Garfield football team fighting for amply funded public schools on MLK, Jr. Day at the Capitol.

On McCleary:
Inslee convened the leaders of all four legislative caucuses this morning and ruled out a 30-day “stop-gap budget” in the face of the “glacial” pace of budget negotiations.

The second 30-day special session ends June 21.

Betsy DeVos is a Menace

Update: from KCTS' Facebook reply to my query:
"We can confirm that we will not be airing "School, Inc." on KCTS 9, while other PBS member stations may choose to air the film. We greatly appreciate your input, and thank you always for getting in touch."
end of update

First up to be aware of is this:
If you go to the website of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington that believes in privatizing the public education system, you will learn about a three-part documentary called “School Inc.,” which is narrated by the late director of the organization’s Center for Educational Freedom. The documentary has been called the magnum opus of Andrew Coulson, who was a researcher and author who promoted the idea that free markets and the profit motive would improve education in the United States. 

It is no surprise, then, that School Inc. — whose primary funders have the same educational beliefs as Coulson — would extol the virtues of privatized education and attack public education. What is surprising to some public education activists, however, is that the documentary is being shown on publicly funded PBS stations.

Uninformed viewers who see this very slickly produced program will learn about the glories of unregulated schooling, for-profit schools, teachers selling their lessons to students on the Internet.

What they will not see or hear is the other side of the story.
Don't know if KCTS is showing this - I don't see it on their schedule - but I sure hope not.

Probably the biggest news lately is DeVos' appearance before and what she said...and didn't say.
Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos faced questions from the Senate Appropriations subcommittee regarding the Trump administration's education budget. It was not an easy day for her, as senators from both parties took issue with some of the suggested cuts. Republican Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Miss., bluntly called it "a difficult budget request to defend."
Perhaps the most controversial proposal in the budget was the $250 million increase in Department of Education funding to support private school choice.
But, with no specifics about how the department would run the program, lawmakers focused on whether the secretary would require participating private schools to prevent discrimination against LGBTQ students or follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the primary federal education law governing students with disabilities.
DeVos was not particularly forthcoming, repeatedly responding to both lines of questioning by saying, "Schools that receive federal funds must follow federal law." Attempts to get her to elaborate on what that would require were unsuccessful.
She made that statement fourteen times in answer to questions with no explanation.   What would it mean in practice:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

McCleary Updates - Where Are We?

From Washington's Paramount Duty:
Washington's Paramount Duty would like to congratulate Carter McCleary on his recent graduation from high school. McCleary was in *second grade* when his family filed the lawsuit that now bears their names, and led to the Supreme Court ruling requiring the state to fully and amply fund public education. 

Think about that. 2nd grade to high school graduation. And remember that the next time you hear a legislator make excuses for failing to comply with a court order to fund our public schools. Because this isn't about a court - it's about kids like Carter McCleary.
An interesting article, Why a $67 million fine isn't motivating the Legislature to act,

Read more here:
from The News Tribune:

Tuesday Open Thread

A new study on obesity finds that one-third of the world's population is obese, with the U.S. leading the way. The saddest number?
The United States has the greatest percentage of obese children and young adults, at 13%.
The district released a statement today about the investigation into players "imported" to play on Garfield's football team. The district itself did not release a statement or the report but the Times says:

Monday, June 12, 2017

On "Red-shirting" Kindergarteners

Several readers had some thoughts on this practice of holding back a child to enter kindergarten much later than at age five.

I came across a couple of good articles on this topic I wanted to pass along.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Tomorrow's City Council Vote on Two-Tier Transportation

Final Update (for today):  The City Council voted, 5-3, to hold on the vote for funding two-tiers from the Families and Education levy.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Seattle School Board Elections 2017 - District IV

Editor's Note: in writing up my thoughts, opinions and reflections on candidates for the Seattle School Board, I used interviews (my own and the 36th Dems recorded interviews), Google, Facebook and Twitter searches.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Attention: School Board Candidates

I see that some candidates are planning meet-and-greet events around the city to meet parents and community.  I applaud this because there are so few school board candidate forums usually and it's a fine way to get out there and answer questions.

If you are a candidate having such an event, please send it to me at and I will throw it up on this thread or on Open Thread days.

Friday Open Thread

Good news for summer transportation for kids via KUOW:

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Why Does the District Let Good Schools Go Bad?

As a case study, Laurelhurst Elementary is a good one.

Heading to a Government Shut-Down Without Getting McCleary Done

From a good article at Crosscut:

Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration has again started to study shutdown procedures.

When he began the current 30-day special session last month — the second of the year — Inslee was loath to even talk about calling a third special session if the budget agreement is not made by June 22, the end of the second special session.

“There is no excuse not to get it done in the next 30 days,” Inslee said.

Sure, there are.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Two Tiers or Three? The City Council Will Decide

Update 2:  Tonight the School Board voted 6-1 to accept both city grants if adopted by the City Council next week.  (Blanford was the sole no vote).

One grant is for crossing guard costs and the other grant is to pay for the two-tier transportation costs for school year 2017-2018.  

It turns out that President Harrell is the other no vote on the City Council, along with CM Burgess. I am also told that CM Gonzalez will not be there so every vote really counts.  Here's how you can give input (from the Soup for Teachers Facebook page):

Tuesday Open Thread

A reminder about the Seattle International Film Festival's showing of the public education documentary, Backpack Full of Cash.  

Monday, June 05, 2017

Capacity Issues and Funding/Building

I had planned to write just one thread about this issue but there are two looming items so each will get its own post.

First up, Lincoln.

Most of you know that one of my special interests is Capital building.  I think the district and the voters of Seattle have made a serious commitment to schools here in funding levies and bonds for new and updated buildings.  (Many districts in our state envy this commitment.)

But the district first had a two-fold problem which has now become more complex with the numbers of new students coming every year.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Garfield Honors For All Update

On May 23, 2017, the Garfield PTSA hosted two Garfield teachers at their regular meeting to talk about the progress of Honors for All.

To note, there were roughly 30 parents in attendance; it seemed like a small turnout but then again, given that parents were not notified about this change until right before school started and Principal Howard did no 9th grade parent orientation, maybe parents just thought it not worth attending.

There were two teachers presenting; Tim Zimmerman, an LA teacher, and Nathan Simoneaux, a History teacher.  They spoke to the concern that "honors" would not be honors-level work.  They handed out a group of papers that contained a test that students took two days prior, one from last year's Honors class and a paper from a student.

They each spoke about their experiences and then took questions from the audience.  Unfortunately, they did their PowerPoint slides in such a way that the audience could not read them so they did from their phones. 

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Exhibitionist at Green Lake

It appears there is a guy who frequents Green Lake - especially during good weather - who is a major exhibitionist, provocateur and "photographer."

He wears a thong with socks and shoes and that's pretty much it.  Not a great sight, frankly, and it's unclear to me if he could get a ticket/be arrested.  (I'm thinking not.)  He has a sign offering, "Free hugs and kisses."

As a provocateur, he sometimes wears a holster with a gun.  Or a knife sheath with a knife.

As a photographer, his subject of choice are women in bathing suits.  Obviously, people who sunbath at Green Lake know they are in a public place.  I'm sure most of them are aware someone could take their photo.  Well, this guy is and he puts them up at his "blog" with comments like "fun" when it's a woman with a thong bikini bottom.

One photo is clearly of two teen girls (fully clothed).  

This, Not That in Seattle Schools (Plus one update)

THIS - As was previous reported by a reader in another thread, Grammy-winning singer John Legend donated funds to wipe out the school lunch debt for parents who had not paid.  Thank you as well to John Lew, a Seattle Schools parent who got the whole thing going.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Friday Open Thread

It's near the end of the school year and a time when awards - both in yearbooks and at events come out.  Unbelievably, there are grown people - in charge of watching over these awards - that seem to have the worst judgment.  There's this one from Texas.
A group of teachers are being disciplined after they thought it would be funny to name a student “most likely to become a terrorist.”

Lizeth Villanueva, 13, said a teacher gave her the award during a mock ceremony in her college prep class at Anthony Aguirre Junior High School in Houston on Tuesday.  Lizeth said the teacher warned students that the awards “might hurt their feelings." She then handed out the certificates as other teachers watched and laughed. But Lizeth didn't think it was funny.
I am reminded of a similar thing that happened to one of my sons in a high school yearbook.  If an award is not funny or complimentary and, most importantly, not something you would want said about you, teachers/advisors should say no.

The Board has a retreat tomorrow at JSCEE from 10 am to 3 pm.  Agenda.  The retreat is open to the public but no comment/testimony is taken.  It is a great way to buttonhole directors either before the meeting starts or on breaks.  Two big topics - Racial Equity Training: Stereotype Threat and Identity Safety and Equity in Highly Capable Programs.

Public Education Story Round-Up

From NPR Ed via Huffington Post, a very good blog post about the push and pull of What Do We Do About Public Education?
Educators of all races, from various ideologies, and committed to very different school policies are also split over fundamental differences as to how we in a democracy work with each other. The unraveling of the corporate reform coalition is due, in large part, because of the ways they treat people who disagree with them.

A National Press Club panel discussion clarified the positions of today’s three dominant schools of education policy. Shavar Jeffries of the Democrats for Education Reform embodies the neoliberal wing of the corporate reform movement. Andrew Smarick, from Bellwhether Education Partners, displays the new face of their former partners, conservative reformers. The panel also included an open and welcoming face of teacher-led school improvement, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association.
My favorite from this debate?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Parents, Please Talk to Your Student

"I think they wanted to scare him straight," Maureen Walgren told the Tribune in story published earlier this week. "Instead, they scared him to death."

Left by himself, Corey walked out of the school a few minutes later and headed toward a downtown Naperville parking garage. He climbed to the fifth floor and then committed suicide by plummeting 53 feet to the ground.
One of the saddest and most disturbing stories of teen suicide surfaced this week. 

End of the Year Honors for Seattle Schools Students

Tweets from SPS Communications:

2017 All Metro - Lacrosse - Kai Chamberlain, Tate Gilges and Dain Coddington from Ballard High, Nate Koidahl and Nicky Sweedin from Roosevelt, Charlie MacIntire and Sean McGlyn from Hale, Hank Halfaker from Garfield, and Jay Zhu from Franklin.

Boys Soccer - Congrats to Roosevelt's team for winning the state championship!

Girls Track and Field - Congrats to Garfield's team for winning the state championship!

Congrats to the All Achievers who were awarded scholarships from the Breakfast Group - 
There were these listed below plus 14 other students.

Seattle Schools Waitlist Updates

From SPS Communications, waitlist updates.
Although more than 50 percent of the students who participated in the choice process received a placement, many students are still on school waitlists. Typically, staff do not move waitlists that positively or negatively affect staffing at attendance area schools. Due to the $50 million budget shortfall for 2017-18, the district is conducting additional analysis around waitlist moves.
I would call out that "typically, staff do not move waitlists..."  That may be true but that has NEVER been made transparent.  The Board should not let this kind of thing stand.  ALL parts of the Enrollment process should be clear and be explained in totality.
As a result of this additional analysis, waitlists at attendance area schools will not move until district staff review updated spring staffing allocations in mid-June. Waitlist moves at option schools will continue through August 31 based on current school staffing and available seats in classrooms.
Sorry to those who had hoped to hear sooner.

Network For Public Education's Stand on Charter Schools

The Network for Public Education believes that public education is the pillar of our democracy. We believe in the common school envisioned by Horace Mann. A common school is a public institution, which nurtures and teaches all who live within its boundaries, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, sexual preference or learning ability. All may enroll--regardless of when they seek to enter the school or where they were educated before.
We believe that taxpayers bear the responsibility for funding those schools and that funding should be ample and equitable to address the needs of the served community. We also believe that taxpayers have the right to examine how schools use tax dollars to educate children.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

First up.

Despite the third graphic in a series from The Seattle Times in their partnership with LEV, Washington Roundtable, Stand for Children and other ed reform types via their "Education Research Institute" (maybe just call them ROI) about public education - a series that deliberately targets Seattle Schools and only Seattle Schools, this time calling out Superintendent Nyland - the district itself has been silent.

Is all the information on these graphics true?  Or true in one sense but not really?  I'm not sure that staying silent is the way to go.  Maybe Board members and/or the Superintendent should speak up. 

Or, since the way the graphics have been written seems to be angled to a certain audience, maybe the district should just ignore them?  I just had one legislator from the Seattle delegation tell me that they never seem to hear much from the Board or the Superintendent and that person wondered out loud why that would be.

(FYI, I was told that this association with ROI is just "marketing" for the Times.  Sure it is.)

Next, I'm hearing that Director Jill Geary is running to fill the seat that will be made empty by the 46th LD's Jessyn Farrell who is leaving to run for mayor of Seattle.  That decision will be made by June 10th and the job starts June 12th which would leave the School Board one member short.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Not To Put Too Fine a Point On It But...


Re: the Seattle Times. I did exchange e-mails with a member of the Editorial Board.  That person maintains that those "ads" are not part of their editorial thought.

However, when media entities do not explain relationships between those they support and information they provide - including ads that include that entity - then it's bound to cause confusion.   The Times has a direct relationship with the Education Research Institute and that would seem to indicate they support the tone and purpose of ERI's work which, currently, looks like a full-time job attacking Seattle Public Schools.  To what end?  Why not other districts like Kent or Highline?

I maintain that the Times truly does want the GOP spending plan, which includes funding McCleary.  It's hard to not believe that given the sources they cite in their policy and research reporting on public education.

Re: KUOW.  I did exchange e-mails with an editor there.

To note, they did update their Local Wonder piece on philanthropy to include that the submitter of the question, Anne Martens, works for the Gates Foundation.  Then, they clarified it even further saying,

NO to the Seattle Times Education Reporting

 At the very least, you should take all of the Seattle Times' education reporting on policies and solutions to education issues with a grain of salt.  Some of it is supported by the Gates Foundation and the rest of it is suspect. 

You should be unhappy that the newspaper of record in our city is being decidedly disingenuous with readers and attempting to manipulate the conversation about public education in our state via back-room decisions with ed reformers around the state.

Over the last seven years or so, I have repeatedly told various Times' education reporters that I thought their editors (via Editorial) had to be leading their reporting and every time I am told that there is a "wall" between Editorial and reporting. 

Recently, I had given the Times credit for pushing and pushing on the Legislature to get McCleary done.  They didn't acknowledge their push was for the GOP plan and they would be using every trick in the book to undercut the Dems plan.  The Times Editorial Board sounded so earnest and yet demanding for the Legislature to get this done.  And I fell for it.

I say to you today that the Times' wall between Editorial and reporting is about as believable as the Trump wall.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

One More Ding for Garfield; When Will the District Step Up?

Another sad story about Garfield and this time it's a counselor who had a second job that went wrong.

On Privitization of Public Schools

The Network for Public Education, started by the great Diane Ravitch and now lead by Carol Burris, also a noted public education advocate, have put together a great Toolkit on school privatization all over the U.S.  This work was generated by the push by new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Best Wishes for Ramadan

Wishing all those who practice the Muslim faith, a happy and safe Ramadan over the next month.

Image result for happy ramadan

Friday, May 26, 2017

Plans for Future Magnolia and Queen Anne Assignment

From the district:

Hey, Big Spenders (that would be the Gates Foundation)

The Gates Foundation has this notice on their grants page:

Seattle Public Schools

April 2017
to ensure the K-12 team’s work in equity is grounded in the real experiences of teachers, we must engage them directly in our learning
K-12, K-12 Education
United States
Seattle, Washington 

Now, my first thought is, "Is that a typo? Because $225 isn't going far.  But this is the Gates Foundation so how could that be?  

As well, notice of this grant has been on Twitter from national public education activist, Leonie Haimson, with this tweet:

Same time @gatesfoundation gave $2M @schoolzilla gave $225 to Seattle pubschls to "ground work" in teacher expernce  

It's too late in the day for me to ask the district but yes, I did ask the Board about this.

Speaking of the Gates Foundation, KUOW has a series, Local Wonder, that examines issues in Seattle of the "what's up with that?" nature that readers submit as questions.

One Anne Martens wrote in, asking about philanthropy in Seattle.

Turns out that she's not just a random listener posing a question. Martens is Senior Communications Officer, Community & Civic Engagement for the Gates Foundation.  (I can find no other Anne Martens in Seattle with that spelling so I feel confident on this one.)

Friday Open Thread

Going to be a beautiful weekend so do put on that sunscreen and/or hat.

I'm hearing about a disturbing slam book at Lowell that has parents concerned.  Any other information about this issue would be welcomed by me (  I was surprised to learn that the principal there is Colleen Stump because I thought the district long ago decided she was better not being an administrator.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

District Picks Medsker as Lincoln Principal

From Superintendent Nyland:

Dear Families:

Ruth Medsker has been selected as the Principal of Lincoln High School, reopening in the fall of 2019 in the northwest region of the district. She will begin her new position in July 2017, as she leads the development of the first comprehensive high school to open in the district since Nathan Hale in 1963. The complexities of opening a high school including development of a master schedule, hiring over eighty staff, athletic coordination, and building strong elective programs like arts and music is a significant body of work. With proactive planning, we are investing in smoother transitions for students who may have to move schools and will be putting into place a rich high school experience for all Lincoln High Schools students.

Tonight's Work Session May Provoke Debate

Kellie LaRue has posted the agenda for tonight's Work Session which includes a section on the 2017-2018 budget.  Naturally, that includes the issue of staffing based on enrollment.  That then brings in the issue of waitlists.  (I also note the inclusion in the agenda of a waiver for 2017 graduates that some readers had asked about.)

Page 15 of the agenda has this question (that I've asked before):

What to do with Last Minute New Revenue?

When the state budget is passed, AND IF we receive more revenue than anticipated, what should be done with that increase?

  • SMART Goal funding
  • More for equity High Needs schools 
  • Fall enrollment/split classroom adjustments 
  • Middle School math 
  • Central admin restoration 
  • Other
Recommendations will be part of the June budget work session. 

Let the Board know your thoughts on spending of any new revenue before the June budget work session.

It is also noted that the district is still waiting for action from the City Council on the funding for two tiers for transportation next year.

Page 11 starts the discussion of waitlists.  Items to consider:

Chief Sealth's Self-Examination

Fascinating story from KUOW this morning on teachers and administrators efforts to find out one thing lead to the discovery of another.
Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle had a big problem. As one of the most racially diverse in the Seattle school district, Chief Sealth was known for the disproportionate number of students of color being disciplined and suspended.

Teachers and administrators at the school realized they needed to make some changes.

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.

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 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.