Saturday, August 19, 2017

Perusing Homes for Sale This Morning...

Welcome to this wonderful home located in the sought after Northgate neighborhood, this home is within the boundary of the prestigious Hazelwolf Alternative School home of the highly prized S. T. E. M. Program. There is no waiting list for students in this location.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Open Thread

Thinking about privacy issues, from KUOW:
Smart devices like your phone or tablet could be used to track your movements. A group of computer science researchers at the University of Washington recently demonstrated this.

They turned smart devices into active sonar systems using a new computer code they created called CovertBand and a few pop songs.

In essence, download and play the song from a malicious attacker, and the song itself acts like a spy.
Also from KUOW, in advance of Monday's eclipse: Make Your Own Eclipse Viewer

Speaking of privacy, a story from the Daily Sun in Yakima about their district's new social media policy.  They had an issue earlier in the year when a library assistant had posted on Facebook about her opposition to students in her district who are here illegally as did a first-grade teacher.
The policy was reviewed by the ACLU, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Professional Educator Standards Board.  

The policy also outlines the necessity to take social media seriously. He said staff in the School District needs to take into account the effect a social media posting will have on their jobs.
Meanwhile, over at Microsoft, their president and chief legal counsel, Brad Smith, has jumped on the "the Legislature did great on McCleary and the Supreme Court should move on" train." As an officer of the court, I'm sure Mr. Smith is aware of how things work and rarely does a high court rubber-stamp anything.  Nice try, Brad.

From Microsoft:
We commend Gov. Jay Inslee and legislators from both sides of the aisle for signing into a law a measure that substantially increases state funding for basic education.  While we believe the McCleary decisions have played a valuable role in improving education funding in accordance with the state’s constitution, we hope the state Supreme Court will agree that the constitution’s obligations have now been met.  This would enable the legislature to move beyond the court’s ongoing scrutiny and focus on the key policy needs of the kids of our state rather than on who will argue what next in additional rounds of hearings among lawyers.
From Google, a story on pollen forecasts.  Maybe it might help if your child has allergies.

A slide inside a school?  Yup in Keller.  From KING-5:
Parkwood Hill, a 5th and 6th grade campus and Hillwood Middle, the 7th and 8th grade campus across the street, are divided into eight different "houses." Think Harry Potter. The students, roughly 1,200 at each campus, compete for academic rewards and the newest enticement is the reward of hearing your classmates cheer as you take a ride down that big green slide.

At a cost of approximately $18,600 and paid for by fundraising and donations, the slide is padlocked at the top and bottom until it is needed for one of its celebratory, ceremonial, or symbolic uses. The students will get to celebrate the results of house competitions, get to take a ceremonial first ride as 5th graders and a ceremonial last ride as they leave the 8th grade, and celebrate symbolic events like birthdays and other major milestones.
What's on your mind?

In Black and White

This pretty much explains the route to where we are in public education today.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Charter Schools News Roundup

Here's a stunner: Surprise, Trump's Education Ideas Are Polarizing.  (That could have just as easily read: Surprise, Trump's Ideas are Polarizing.)  From NPR:
In the last year, there's been a big drop in support for charter schools, while other forms of school choice are getting a little less unpopular. That's the top line of a national poll released today.  

Here are the latest results:
  • Charters: Last year 51 percent of the public supported "the formation of charter schools"; this year it's just 39 percent, a 12 point drop in one year.
  • Vouchers: 45 percent are either strongly or somewhat supportive of universal vouchers. That's a bounce from last year, but more or less in line with the five years before.
  • Tax credits: This was the most popular form of school choice with 55 percent of the general public supporting this year; also a one-year bounce, but in line with longer-term trends.
There's no one obvious explanation for the change in opinion on charter schools. The drop was seen among both Democrats and Republicans and amongst all racial and ethnic groups. 

"That's the largest change on any survey item, and one of the largest single-year changes in opinion that we've seen over the 11-year history of the survey," Martin West, the editor in chief of EducationNext, said on a press conference call.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who's Running for Seattle School Board in the General Election?

The Candidates

District IV
Eden Mack - 70.47%
Herbert J. Camet, Jr. - 7.7%

District V
Zachary DeWolf - 47.36%
Omar Vasquez - 17.53%

District VII
Betty Patu - 68.41%
Chelsea Byers - 20.98%

Donations/Spending (via PDC)

Mack - $ 15,952.34/$13,926.74
Camet - 0/0

Notable Mack contributors: Director Jill Geary, Director Leslie Harris

DeWolf - $19,241.00/$4,644.97
Vasquez - $19,241.00/$10,000 (spending/debt)

Notable DeWolf contributors: WEA, CM Debora Juarez, Rep. Frank Chopp, Director Jill Geary, Rep. Nicole Macri

Notable Vasquez contributors: Democrats for Ed Reform, Vulcan, head of DFER WA, TFA reps, several charter school heads,
As well, Vasquez paid for campaign support from LEE, Leadership for Education Equity, which is the arm of TFA that helps TFAers with "leadership development."

Patu - $1,540/$35.00
Byers - $6,778.00/$139.65

Notable Patu contributors - Director Jill Geary, philanthropist Kay Bullitt

Notable Byers contributors - none

My early thoughts:

District IV
Everyone now has a website include Camet.  His website continues his pattern of name-calling and a misguided belief that he is running for superintendent and not School Board.  I honestly think it will be fascinating to see him in action at forums.

Mack clearly knows her stuff but that's no reason not to ask both candidates hard questions.

District V

DeWolf outpaced a talented field in District V.  I'll have to ask Helmstetter and Cooper who they might be endorsing but given that they both don't believe in charter schools and many types of corporate ed reform, I'd venture they would support DeWolf.

Neither candidate knows the district well but DeWolf has lived and worked in Seattle for a long time with many ties to various low-income constituencies.  

Look for this to be the biggest spending race of the three and I suspect that there may be some big financial firepower, coming from both in-state and out-of-state sources. 

District VII
Patu has been to this dance before so I would look for her to stick to her tried-and-true formula of being herself and presenting her background/experience.  Byers is a quiet, kind person so I don't expect to see her on the attack. 

What I would expect is attacks on Patu from PACs a lá the ones that we saw when Director Sue Peters ran four years ago.  

I'll let you know if I hear of any worthwhile candidate forums.

Vote, Vote, Vote

An ask from me.

Seattle's City Club is going to have a mayoral debate in late October and I am hoping they will add a question on public education.  They are taking questions and submitting the same (or near-same) question would really help to get it on the list.

Here's the question I would propose (but it certainly can be edited via your suggestions):

What do you believe the role of the mayor is in public education in Seattle and do you believe in mayoral control of either the school board or school district?

Ask the next #SEAMayor a Question

King County's certified election results are in and the 2017 Seattle mayoral race is down to its final two candidates, Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon!

Both candidates will meet October 24th for our live broadcast debate at Starbucks Support Center presented in partnership with KING 5, KUOW and GeekWire.

In order to make sure we have diverse questions that cover multiple topics, we are asking residents to submit their questions in advance for selection. 
Submit Your Question

Add Your Name to the Waitlist

As we confirm the venue seating layout, we will release additional tickets for our live debate audience. 

Washington State Charter School Updates

There are three two new charter schools opening in Washington State this fall with a current middle school expanding to include a high school.  They have both have been authorized by the Washington State Charter Commission.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A New Kind of Classroom

In any event, advocates argue, the current education system is not working.

From the NY Times, A New Kind of Classroom (that sounds a lot like SPS' Nova):

Tuesday Open Thread

A new tech institute - a joint project between the University of Washington and China's Tsinghua University - will open this fall in Bellevue.  Story from the Times:

Schools Supplies on a Big Scale

From the Progressive via Bill Moyers&Company, Is Back-to-School More Expensive This Year? Yes, and Here’s Why:
The most recent survey asking teachers what they pay out of their own pockets for their students’ school supplies found teachers spend nearly $500 on average, and 1 in 10 spends $1,000 or more.
This is not to say parents shouldn’t complain about getting hit up for the costs of school supplies.
The annually compiled Backpack Index, which calculates the average cost of school supplies and school fees, reports parents face steep costs during back-to-school season: $662 for elementary school children, $1,001 for middle-school children, and $1,489 for high-school students.

Middle-school parents face average costs of $195 for athletics, $75 for field trips and $42 for other school activity fees. In high school, the fees spike much higher to $375 for athletics, $285 for musical instrumentals, $80 to participate in band and $60 in other school activity fees. High-school fees may also include academic courses such as Advanced Placement classes, which more schools are emphasizing. The average fee for tests related to these courses is $92. The costs of materials to prepare for these tests and the SAT average more than $52.

Someone has to pay for these things, or kids go without.
One SPS school is stepping up...again.  From Soup for Teachers:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Parsing the Friday Memos

I circled back to Friday Memos from the Superintendent because there was a review of Advanced Learning (Spectrum) in the one from June 30th. 

I will get to that important thread but I see a couple of newer ones that deserve some attention.  (Also to note, they need to get better proofreading.  There's some sloppiness in these memos that should not be there.  For example, from the Superintendent Memo of August 11, 2017:

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development shared insightful information on Seattle’s growth and why are students need to be Seattle and beyond ready;

Highlights of the July/August Memos

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Seattle Schools Next Week

Next week heralds the resumption of Board committee meetings and public district activity but I thought I'd give an early heads up especially about the Kindergarten Jump Start event.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Open Thread

Yesterday was National S'Mores Day and yes to those (but no outside fires, please).

In yet another sign of idiocy, the Trump administration wants to cut funding for programs designed to lower the number of teens getting pregnant.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jobs and the Future Workforce, Part Two

 Update: great article in today's NY Times, Seeing Hope for Flagging Economy, West Virginia Revamps Vocational Track:
When it comes to technical education, the United States is an outlier compared with other developed nations. Only 6 percent of American high school students were enrolled in a vocational course of study, according to a 2013 Department of Education report. In the United Kingdom, 42 percent were on the vocational track; in Germany, it was 59 percent; in the Netherlands, 67 percent; and in Japan, 25 percent.
What is the program in West Virginia?
Simulated workplaces, overseen by teachers newly trained in important state industries like health, coal and even fracking, are now operating in schools across the state. Students punch a time clock, are assigned professional roles like foreman or safety supervisor, and are even offered several vacation days of their choice in addition to regular school breaks. (Many take time off during deer hunting season.)

Traditional math and English teachers have been reassigned to technical high schools, to make sure students on the vocational track still gain reading, writing and math skills.

And this fall, students enrolled in simulated workplaces will need to participate in one of the program’s boldest elements: random drug testing.
end of update

A comment from Ghost Mom from Part One of this series on jobs and the workforce:

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Jobs and Our Future Workforce, Part One

I grew up in a company town.  Copper was king and our little town, and other little towns throughout Arizona, depended on one company.  That business also owned the supermarket and the hospital and company houses. You could get a job with just a high school diploma.

Of course, when the copper mine played out and the price of copper dropped, the company closed the mines and the smelters.  Which, of course, was a near-death knell for those towns.  The employees had nowhere to go for jobs, especially low-tech jobs.

I bring this up because in my parents' generation, you did try to get a job in a good company and maybe stay there until they handed you your gold watch at retirement.  Those days are long gone.  Most of our students today will have multiple jobs and maybe multiple careers.  Being flexible and nimble and keeping up with technology may be the key to future long-term employment.

For now, there's what is being called "a skills gap."  From Bloomberg:

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Every Student Succeeds Act Plans

Update: I had forgotten about this great article from Rick Hess about ESSA.

Tuesday Open Thread

Update: just saw this event and wanted to put it out there to get on your calendar if you are interested.
Thanks to a generous grant from Safeco Insurance, we are proud to present Exploration for All: Autism Early Open at Pacific Science Center.

On the second Saturday of each month, through December 2017, all families affected by autism spectrum disorder are invited to explore Pacific Science Center during a special free morning visit from 8-10 a.m. – before we open to the public. Experience our exhibits without heavy crowds when we have softened general lighting and decreased the noise level and visual stimulation on interactive exhibits wherever possible.
Shout out to Garfield grad Ari Melber who hosts The Beat on MSNBC.

Man, those ed reformers don't quit.  The latest nonsense from the Center on Reinventing Public Education and the 74 trying to lure Special Ed parents into the charter school fold. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Latest School Board Election 2017 Tally Results

No new tallies have moved the dial especially in the more contested District V race so I think these will be the final candidates.

Here's the updates:

District IV 
Eden Mack - 70.45%
Herbert J. Camet, Jr. - 7.77%

District V
Zachary DeWolf - 47.17
Omar Vasquez - 17.54%

District VII
Betty Patu - 68.36%
Chelsea Byers - 21.02%

Final results will be certified by King County elections on August 15th.

The PDC shows these campaign amounts:

Eden Mack - raised $15,952.34 and spent $13,926.74
Herbert J. Camet, Jr. - $0

Zachary DeWolf - raised $19,166.00 and spent $4,644.97
Omar Vasquez - raised $15,215.97 and spent $13,271.49

Betty Patu - raised $1,340.00 and spent $0
Chelsea Byers - raised $6,353.60 and spent $139.65

One interesting item to note: Vasquez paid Leadership for Education Equity $500 for "campaign consulting services."  Who is LEE?  A TFA alumni support group.

District to State: It's Not Enough

 Update: my bad.  I skipped over a paragraph in my notes.  See bottom of page for info on impact fees.

end of update

Today's press conference at JSCEE about the district's early analysis of the McCleary funding as approved by the Legislature this year  didn't have many fireworks but there was one good note of passion from an unexpected source.

Fronting for the district were Superintendent Larry Nyland, school board director Jill Geary, and CFO JoLynn Berge.  Director Geary gave the opening remarks, saying the public has asked for information since the legislative session ended.  She noted that SPS has made "shifts" in their budget process, making it more transparent, and want to keep doing so with the new McCleary dollars.  She said that the Legislature did not seem to understand the "particular challenges" of Seattle Schools.

She said, "We anticipate unforeseen consequences for our diverse population and shortfalls in the budget."

She was the Board's legislative delegate to the legislature this past year and thanked the Seattle delegation for their work with her, saying they had been very responsive.

Ms. Berge said that state funding dollars had always had complicated formulas and the new changes in the law didn't make them less so.  She said what they were presenting was not all the analysis but enough to allow them to see that the district will be in a very bad place in just a couple of years.

She then went into the presentation handouts.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Monday Meeting to Talk about School Capacity Issues

Rep Gerry Pollet is having a town hall Monday, August 7th from 5-7:45 pm at the Lake City Library.  He'll be talking about school capacity issues being ignored by upzones. 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Let's Talk Money in Schools

"We can't keep throwing money at the problem" is a familiar line you'll hear from conservatives and ed reformers alike when we talk about funding public schools.

(I'll digress here a moment and state that I do think Seattle Schools needs more money.  But they also need to spend their money more wisely and more transparently.  Charlie loves to say, "Go look at the district's budget - it's all there."  It's there in vague piecharts but do we really know where all the money goes AND where all the money is held?  We do not.)

I saved an article from the end of 2016 from The Upshot section of the NY Times, "It Turns Out Spending More Probably Does Improve Education."  From the "C'mon, this is news?", is this a big surprise.  I don't think so and, when we look at state spending, those states at the top of spending appear to have the best outcomes. (bold mine)
Educators, politicians and unions have battled in court over that crucial question for decades, most recently in a sweeping decision this fall in Connecticut, where a judge ordered the state to revamp nearly every facet of its education policies, from graduation requirements to special education, along with its school funding.
So what other factors come into play when we talk about spending?
Many other factors, including student poverty, parental education and the way schools are organized, contribute to educational results.
Getting more notice - and rightfully so from the POV of equity in funding - is the money that comes from parents.  We've discussed this here before and I plan on asking the Seattle Council PTSA if this will be one of their focus points for the next school year.  I think it should be and I believe the PTSA really could help with equity issues. 
But new, first-of-its-kind research suggests that conclusion is mistaken. Money really does matter in education, which could provide fresh momentum for more lawsuits and judgments like the Connecticut decision.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Data Show Overall Student Discipline Rates are Decreasing, but Gaps Persist

From OSPI:

OLYMPIA—August 4, 2017The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) today released data analytics on student discipline in Washington state school districts.

The data show the 2015-16 school year saw decreases from the previous school year in the number of suspensions and expulsions statewide. 

In the 2014-15 school year, the overall rate of suspensions and expulsions was 3.9 percent. In the 2015-16 school year, the rate dropped to 3.7 percent, which represents 1,804 fewer students being excluded from school. The largest decreases were in long-term suspensions and expulsions.

District Pushes Back on McCleary Fulfillment

Seattle Times article today on McCleary funding which the article indicates seems almost as hazy as the skies over Seattle.

Seattle Schools statement (they are having a media event on Monday which I will attend and bold mine:

McCleary Plan does not achieve state’s paramount duty District also encourages resolution of capital budget

Friday Open Thread

Want to know how to raise good kids and "trail-blazing daughters?"  Listen to the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg aka Notorious RBG.

A documentary on great teachers; it looks good.  Passion to Teach.

Painting lockers as book spines looks like a novel idea.

What did lobbyists think of the last session of the Washington Legislature? Not much. From Elway:

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Press Release From District IV Candidate

(Editor's note: I reprint without comment except to note the use of Comic Sans.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Seattle School Board Elections Primary 2017

Ballot Update (Thursday at 4:30 pm)

Tueday Open Thread

Sad stat: Washington's homeless student population is the eighth largest in the country. From the Spokesman-Review:

The number of homeless students in Washington state increased 30 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to a study released Thursday.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Food for Thought

Two worthy readings.

From Naoki Higashida, the author of Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8:

Education News Roundup

From the ever-amusing Washington Policy Center: Vouchers are Pell Grants for students under 18. 
Vouchers are no different than Pell Grants or GI benefits, except the money goes to the families of students younger than age 18. 
Except they are. Pell Grants were created to help needy students and that's not really the goal of the voucher program.  The Pell grant website does have a couple of great studies on why low-income students drop out before finishing their higher ed and what makes a difference.

Friday, July 28, 2017

National PTA Appeals for Help to Fight Cuts

From National PTA:

Over 1,000 people have signed the petition to #STOPCutsToClassrooms. Are you on that list? Sign today and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter

We need to tell Congress that our children deserve more than 2% of the federal budget for their education. Mark your calendars for the following #STOPCutsToClassrooms events over the next few months! 

Denny Custodian Loses Home to Fire

From the West Seattle Blog:
Last Sunday afternoon, we reported on a house fire in Highland Park, in the 8100 block of 14th SW. No one was hurt, but it turns out the damage was greater than first assessed, and the longtime West Seattle resident and Denny International Middle School employee who lived there has lost most of his belongings, as well as a place to live, so a family friend has organized a crowdfunding page for community members to help.

Friday Open Thread

Again?  The Times is reporting that Garfield guidance counselor, Raymond Willis, is under investigation by OSPI at the request of Seattle Public Schools.  Willis has been fined - two times - by state regulators for financial issues not related to his work in the district.  The district filed a complaint saying that he has violated stated law that says school employees must have "good moral character and/or personal fitness."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Please Add Your Comments to HALA EIS

From legislator Gerry Pollet:

Seattle Fails to Consider If There is Any Space for Children to Go to School in HALA Upzones
Please send in your comments on Draft EIS

The City of Seattle has again failed to consider the lack of school capacity to serve our children who suffer from unconstitutionally overcrowded school buildings across Seattle as it proposes to increase density and upzone neighborhoods under HALA and its “grand bargain.” Please share your comments urging that the City live up to repeated promises to consider school capacity, and actively helping to add capacity for our children, by submitting comments on the MHA Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
You may be outraged to learn, as I was, that instead of considering whether there is any space in public schools to accommodate the massive increase in population proposed by upzones, the City considered standardized test scores as a positive indicator of “educational opportunity” justifying upzones. Read my full post along with suggested comments and link to submit your comments:

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Jam-Packed Friday Memo

From the last Friday Memo of 2016-2017, news to know.  This is very long thread but I will highlight key words/programs; there appears to be something for everyone here.  
  • These items are written by different senior staff.  
  • To note, there are acronyms aplenty and I'll try to spell out the less obvious ones.
  • There are two reports attached which I have not read and will create separate threads for discussion:
    International Education/Dual-Language Immersion and Advanced Learning/Spectrum
Also, I have a ton of questions based on this memo so if you have one, write it down in the Comments section.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Get Those Ballots In!

No Charter Cheerleaders in SPS

Dear Directors,

I learned from the West Seattle blog that Gatewood has a new principal, Kyna Williams.  She's a former charter school principal.  That's okay.  She was in TFA.  That's okay.

What's not okay is proselytizing in SPS for charter schools.  Apparently, the principal at Arbor Heights - who is married to noted charter supporter and head of a Washington State ed reform group - is counseling parents to consider charter schools.

And now we have an actual former charter principal heading a school.

I would suggest that when the district knows that incoming staff have ties to charter schools that it be made clear to those staffers that their job is NOT to counsel/cheerlead for charter schools. 

I would suggest that when the district knows - as in the case of the Arbor Heights principal - when there are strong connections to charter schools, that it be made clear that their job is NOT to counsel/cheerlead for charter schools. 

While SPS is struggling to support the students it has, SPS staff should not be supporting the growth of charter schools which will - in the end - undermine our district.  If you need any supporting facts about the loss of dollars to a district, go ask Tacoma.  Or ask me and I will deliver story after story to you about how charters are hurting districts across the country. 

Melissa Westbrook
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog

Blanford's KUOW Interview

KUOW released an interview that journalist Ann Dornfeld did with departing Seattle School Board member, Stephan Blanford.  It was eye-opening, both for what he said and didn't say and what either didn't get asked or was left out in the piece by editor, Katherine Banwell.

The full interview as released on KUOW is 31 minutes long; the shorter for-the-radio piece is about 7. 5 minutes.  The title of the interview is:  On being the only black man on the Seattle school board

Sadly, I didn't take a screenshot but I do recall the first time I saw the KUOW page on this story, it said that Blanford would be reflecting on his time on the Board.  Well, he does but thru one lens and that's race.

My overall impression from listening is that Director Blanford is very much the person he has been all along on the Board - quick to judge, good at never telling the full story and, most of all, good at blaming others for lack of progress in our district.

I'll go into detail but here are the issues that jump out at me:

Tuesday Open Thread

Correlation is not causation but this new data is something to consider, From Gadfly on the Wall blog:

Middle School Suicides Double As Common Core Testing Intensifies
The suicide rate among 10- to 14-year-olds doubled between 2007 and 2014 – the same period in which states have increasingly adopted Common Core standards and new, more rigorous high stakes tests.

In fact, it is a hallmark of other nations where children perform better on these tests than our own.
For the first time, suicide surpassed car crashes as a leading cause of death for middle school children.
In 2014, the last year for which data was available, 425 middle schoolers nationwide took their own lives.

To be fair, researchers, educators and psychologists say several factors are responsible for the spike, however, pressure from standardized testing is high on the list.
Remember I told you about the new Washington Slaw about driving while using a cell phone?  The ultimate in bad outcomes for one teen driving while drunk and using Instagram.
A California woman is in custody after allegedly livestreaming a fatal car crash on Instagram that killed her 14-year-old sister and injured another teen. 

Obdulia Sanchez, 18, was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated after Friday's crash, according to the California Highway Patrol.
In a super-human effort, parent Barbara Billingshurst created this:
I created a website that contains all the results from my detailed analysis of comparing the State’s Current FY 2017 Budget and the State’s FY 2019 Budget (SSB 5883 and HB 2242) for public schools to the QEC Fully-Funded FY 2019 Plan.
What's on your mind?

Monday, July 24, 2017

My, My

The Badass Teachers Association held its 4th Annual Education Conference in Seattle, Washington.
The Badass Teachers Association presents Back to School with BATs - 4th Annual Education Conference on 7/22 and Open Air Restorative Justice Circle on 7/23 -

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Andre Helmstetter for District V

It took me awhile to get here but, after careful consideration, I am endorsing Andre Helmstetter for Board position V.

Friday, July 21, 2017

District V Board Race Update

If you live in District V, you may receive a mailer from candidate, Alec Cooper.  It includes a list of endorsements that include my name. 

I have not endorsed any candidate for the District V race.  I recommended Cooper along with Andre Helmstetter and Zachary DeWolf.  I find them all strong candidates for different reasons and I continue to urge those of you in District V to pick one of them.

I talked to Mr. Cooper about this issue when I became aware of it.  He had thought my recommendation was an endorsement.  It was not.  I believe it was a good faith error of understanding on his part and, if he goes thru to the General election, I know he will correct that error in any other mailings or voter information.

On another note, while I believe it important to consider many facets of a candidate, I would urge readers to really look to work/volunteer background of a candidate along with their thoughts on issues that face our district and what lens each candidate may be using to view those issues. 

Friday Open Thread

First up, the South Seattle Emerald reports on scholarships won by students at Rainier Beach High School and Mercer Island High School that are named in honor of President Obama's mother.
On May 20, the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund held its 8th annual awards ceremony at the Northwest African American Museum.

For the first time in its history, the Fund awarded a scholarship to a Rainier Beach High student.
Rainier Beach High graduating senior Emily Au, along with Mercer Island High graduating senior Christine Lee, received $5000 scholarships from the fund.
Tell your driving teens (and yourself) to put that phone down while driving.  Starting Sunday, a new law against cell phone use will see folks getting stopped and warned about the law (it goes into effect in January 2018).

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Just when you think the Legislature can't do more to hurt public education, they do.  Or rather, the Republicans do.

Again, this is why you MUST support Manka Dhingra's race in the 45th district. Not only is her opponent a carpetbagger, we need people in the Legislature that want to get things done.

There are two big issues on this impasse.

From the Times:

DeVos Updates

Today she's going to the ALEC annual meeting in Denver...except her name hasn't been on the agenda.  Wonder why.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is just the gift that keeps on giving.  Let's review.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Video Messages from Seattle School Board Candidates 2017

From Seattle Channel's Video Voter's Guide:

Reading Between the Lines on McCleary

I had a bit of a dust-up with reporter Melissa Santos at The News Tribune over her story on what teachers and students get from the McCleary-driven budget and her picks for quotes from public education groups.  (I'll note I generally like Ms. Santos' reporting.)

Who did she quote?

Someone from LEV and someone from Stand for Children.

Now there is WSPTSA or Washington's Paramount Duty or Parents Across America but no, she picked two ed reform groups, both funded by Gates.  If the News Tribune and the Seattle Times want to go to the same Gates-driven well for quotes on public education, that's their call.

But then, no fair being whiny when you get called out for it.  I consider it a public service to let people know because the Times and the Tribune certainly aren't telling their readers who these groups are and who funds them.

Oh and speaking of LEV, here's a few tidbits at their website:

Tuesday Open Thread

I'm disappointed that the Mayor says he's staying put.  He's now the lamest of lame ducks and frankly, it hurts our city at a time when we need leadership.  From The Stranger:
His statement came after City Council Member Lorena González called for his resignation by July 24. She said the council should consider looking at steps for his removal if he does not step down by that deadline. But a number of González's colleagues, including Debra Juarez, Bruce Harrell, Sally Bagshaw and Lisa Herbold, seem to be more skeptical. The four city council members released a statement saying Murray did not "willfully violate" his duties. But as Daniel Beekman of the Times pointed out, the statement did not address another potential cause for impeachment: "an offense involving moral turpitude." 
From University of Washington Communications about new Learning Gardens in SPS:

Monday, July 17, 2017

Education News Roundup

New Study Backs Academic Rigor for Preschoolers. Oh, Please; from the Washington Post:
A new study finds that preschool classrooms — those in which teachers provide “high doses” of activities “emphasizing language, preliteracy and math concepts” — give “positive” academic benefits to children as measured by standardized tests, and that black students generally get a bigger boost than others. Think flashcards.

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early-childhood-development expert, recently wrote:

We have decades of research in child development and neuroscience that tell us that young children learn actively — they have to move, use their senses, get their hands on things, interact with other kids and teachers, create, invent. But in this twisted time, young children starting public pre-K at the age of 4 are expected to learn through “rigorous instruction.”
And never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that we would have to defend children’s right to play.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mayor Murray Needs to Step Down

The Sunday Times story revealed a report from the '80s about Mayor Murray and his role as a foster parent.
An Oregon child protective services investigator in 1984 determined that Mayor Ed Murray sexually abused his foster son, according to documents published by the Seattle Times today.
From The Stranger's reporting:
Finding the child sex abuse allegations to be credible, a child protective services investigator recommended that Murray stop fostering children all together. 

So did a foster care specialist, who wrote, "Under no circumstances should Mr. Murray be certified in the future."

A prosecutor declined to press charges against Murray due to concerns with meeting the burden of proof, not because she didn't believe Simpson.

In a separate document, a foster care specialist wrote, "Although he was not indicted, the Protective Services department feels that the allegations are true, as does the district attorney’s office.”

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Conversation on HCC, Part Two

For this part of the discussion, I want to reiterate a few things I said in Part One.

There are some parents don't believe that there could be that many children who are highly capable.  To that I can only say that the feds, the state and the district all believe it is true and have allocated resources and services to that end.  I note that the new McCleary budget includes extra dollars for programs like Sped, ELL and yes, highly capable.

There are some parents believe it's all based on a single test score in order to get into the program.  That is not true and you can examine the application process and how the district's own committee decides on admission.

There are some teachers/administrators don't like HCC because some of their best learners leave the school after they are admitted into the program.  One reason could be the loss of test scores.  Another reason is the loss of students who help teachers drive the classroom by being generally engaged.

I can understand their unhappiness but it is not the right of a teacher or principal to decide what program parents want their children to be in for the best academic outcomes.

If your belief system on highly capable students falls into either of those two groups, you probably won't be interested in what follows.

Last Community Meeting with a Director Today

I forgot to post this on the Friday Open Thread but Director Leslie Harris is having a community meeting today.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Open Thread

The Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked Washington State #28 in education just as in the same week we are ranked #1 for business climate.  I did tweet the Governor that it would be a great day for public education in Washington State if we ever get to #1 in that category.  

Speaking of public ed, the budget is done but not important legislation attached to it.  From Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Education: The Great Leveler and the Great Divider

David Brooks had an tense (and some would say awkward) column in the New York Times last week.  It was called, How We Are Ruining America. 
Over the past generation, members of the college-educated class have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Stranger vs The Seattle Times: School Board Endorsements

District IV:
Times - Eden Mack
The Times gave Mack their strongest endorsement for school board as compared to Chelsea Byers (tepid, both with what the Times said and what Byers said) and Alec Cooper (short).
Eden Mack is fully prepared to be on the Seattle School Board.

The Stranger - Eden Mack
"Eden Mack is the wonkiest education wonk who ever wonked."

Me - Eden Mack
Ditto on the comments made by the Times and The Stranger.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Back to the PTA Fundraising Sharing Discussion

We're revisiting this issue because it seems to be receiving more and more attention, both nationally and here in Seattle.  Again, this comes back to the question of equity which gets trickier because PTA is a private organization that encourages both kinds of parent engagement -  funding and volunteering in their child's public school.

I was reminded of this by a recent op-ed in the South Seattle Emerald.  Here's their headline which flips the idea of contributing money to your child's school on its ear:

Contributing to Inequity: White Parents Must Act to Change Seattle Public Schools’ Opportunity Gap
The piece was written by Hayden Bass and Vivian van Gelder who are parents of students in Seattle Public Schools.  Here's their basic premise:
White parents, then, are uniquely situated to challenge institutional racism in our education system – and conversely, to uphold the status quo by resisting the understanding that our system, as it is currently designed, does not distribute opportunity fairly.
So what to do?

Tuesday Open Thread

A Mercer Island student newspaper did an interview with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (who hails from Richland, WA).  As I like to say, if it's not rude or illegal, it never hurts to ask.  The Times does a good job on this story and it's fascinating.  (Also, the student, Teddy Fischer, brilliantly noticed,in a photo of a Trump bodyguard carrying a stack of papers, that there was a Post-It with Mattis' phone number on it.  That got the ball rolling.)

The Times is endorsing Chelsea Byers over Director Betty Patu.  I'll have more to say on endorsements soon as The Stranger will be dropping their endorsements this week as well as ballots going out this week.  The Times' blaming Patu for the $74M budget deficit is laughable.

They also cite votes they claim she made against the City's Pre-K program.  Absolutely wrong.  She never voted against it.  It would help if the Times would actually get that kind of info right.  Shame on them.  Byers has a good background - if all you cared about was STEM - but knows very little about this district.

Monday, July 10, 2017

HALA and Public Schools

You may recall that when the Mayor's HALA plan for our city came out, the plan consistently referred to schools as "amenities."  That's just wrong because no city is great without great schools which are part of the infrastructure of a city.  (They also had it in the plan that if the City built housing that could support a school at the street level, that school would go to a charter group.  When I challenged that idea, the word "charter" mysteriously disappeared.  No one at any HALA meeting will explain how it got in there and why it went away.)

You may have recently received an e-mail about the EIS for the HALA plan with a link for public comments.  I have to smile because while I think it important that citizens have access to the entire plan, it's a huge document.  I think if you really wanted input, a detailed synopsis would have been helpful. That's if you really wanted public input.

A reader did alert me to a section I had missed in the plan, called Public Services and Utilities (with public schools being part of that).   (And thank you to this reader; I depend on readers to send me this kind of information.)

Friday, July 07, 2017

Governor Vetos Portion of Budget Bill for Tax Breaks

See, sometimes if you band together, good things happen.

Washington's Paramount Duty statement:

Conversation on HCC - Part One

Let's talk about giftedness first.   (Note that this thread is not about HCC so any comments about it will be deleted.  I will once again state that no one will be allowed to name-call or sneer at someone's children.)

To start, after decades of thinking about this issue, here are some conclusions I have come to about how some parents think about giftedness.

Let's just start with the idea that ALL children have gifts to share - leadership, empathy, artistry, humor - many good things.  But...

Friday Open Thread

Very disturbing study from Georgetown Law's Center on Poverty and Inequality:
Adults view young black girls as less innocent than white girls of the same age, a new study has found, indicating that children’s race may affect how their actions are perceived.

“This new evidence of what we call the ‘adultification’ of black girls may help explain why black girls in America are disciplined much more often and more severely than white girls – across our schools and in our juvenile justice system.”
Speaking of better understanding, summer reading ideas for your woke kid from NPR.

What girls want have come a long way since The Spice Girls asked that question 20 years ago - good for Victoria Beckham.  Girls and women want equal rights to men and for some men to quit abusing/exploiting/holding down women and girls.  (Although Cindi Lauper was right - girls do just want to have fun.)

Want something free and fun to do with the kids this weekend?  Try the Goatalympics in Monroe.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Upcoming School Board Candidate Events

Update: the Squire Park event will be just for District V candidates

Squire Park Community Council School Board Candidate Forum and BBQ

Saturday, July 8th, 2017 10:00 AM-2:00 PM
722 18th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122


SPCC thanks Centerstone for the donation of meeting space for our quarterly Meeting. In appreciation we encourage all to bring a donation of food for their food bank.

District V candidate Alec Cooper is having a meet-and-greet event
Thursday, July 13 at 6 PM - 8 PM
North Capital Hill; RSVP for location and details

District IV - Eden Mack
Sunday July 9 from 3-5pm
Meet and Greet with Eden Mack hosted by David Kaplan & Susan Devan
At Kaplan & Devan home in Magnolia
RSVP to 206-283-2362 or
 Tuesday July 11 from 5-8pm (kid friendly!)
Meet the Candidate (Eden Mack for School Board) hosted by Margaret Gheen and Kristeen Penrod
At Margaret's home in Magnolia
RSVP via Evite

Tuesday July 18 from 5-6:30pm
Cocktails and Conversation with Eden Mack
At Mirchandani's home in Queen Anne
RSVP via 

District Doesn't Seem Interested in Nutritional Improvements

As you may recall, the district hired a consultant group to do a review of Nutrition Services.  The report had a lot of good things to say especially about the staff but offer numerous suggestions for improvements.  The district and Board seemed to take that report and put it on a shelf. 

It's unclear why they paid the money for it and are largely ignoring its work.

One program that was begun in the Fall of 2015 (just before the Prismatic staff came through and which they gave high praise) was the “Pilot Program at NOVA High School”. The pilot has now been left as just that.

The program is supported by both students/staff and nutrition staff.  But even though the program doubled student participation, staff is being told it didn't meet enough benchmarks.

It's hard to understand ignoring the report.

Magnolia or Seattle Center;Where Should a New High School Be Located?

Here's a very comprehensive look at the situation over in Magnolia at Fort Lawton as written by Outside City Hall's George Howland, Jr.

It comes down to this:
Twenty-eight acres of surplus federal property should be a great opportunity for Seattle. Instead, it shows signs of becoming a terrible civic imbroglio. I fear that the interests of homeless people will be lost in the melee.

The feds have also designated the city of Seattle as the Local Redevelopment Authority for the site. The city can have the land for free provided it be used for public purposes like housing, a school or a park.
So again, like the situation with the former Federal Reserve building in downtown, the feds are offering this land first for public uses. 

There are three things that could be done:

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

WPD Urges Governor's Veto on Part of Budget

From Washington's Paramount Duty:
Please CALL GOV. INSLEE: 360-902-4111 on Thursday, July 6! Parents are asking Gov. Inslee to veto a huge new tax cut for businesses that was created in the budget deal. 

Here’s the story: Even as legislators failed to fully fund public schools, they added a section to the funding bill (SSB 5977) that reduces the Business & Occupation Tax for manufacturers. That’s a 40% reduction in the business tax rate, and could cost as much as $40 million per year. (For perspective, the state could fully fund the Breakfast After The Bell program for just under $3 million a year.)

Please call Governor Inslee (360-902-4111) on Thursday, July 6 and ask him to veto this new tax cut. Doing so wouldn’t require vetoing anything else. This tax cut never got a hearing in the House Finance Committee — there’s no way to justify this. If you can't call on Thursday, please email the Governor using this link
Here is the letter that WPD sent to Governor Inslee's Chief of Staff and Director of External Affairs on Sunday, July 2.

Waitlist Resolution

 Update 2:  I kinda got it right but it is much harder to track an issue when there are many Q&As, motions, etc.   From VP Harris via Soup for Teachers Facebook:

Wednesday Open Thread

 On the waitlist vote tonight: I again note that Director Geary will not be at tonight's Board meeting (I believe she's gone on a trip) so it will be six directors.  In my head I was trying to parse how I think the vote might go.

Staff was pushing back over providing some additional analysis that the Board requested and so I expect a pro forma type document from them.  Will that be enough for the Board to say, "Well, they did what we asked?"  Or, will the sheer volume of proof of what they have said in the past versus what they are saying now allow the Board to say, "You can do this next year after a carefully, clearly stated procedure is done.  Right now, we don't have that - we told parents one thing and now another, and we'll have to live with that for next year." That would be a big step towards letting the Superintendent and staff know that they must live up to their words.

The main thing is the district has to take responsibility for its own inaction on the lack of trying to make underenrolled schools more attractive AND its own whiplash statements on procedures. 

I haven't listened to it yet but KUOW has done a piece on Director Blanford.

Monday, July 03, 2017

McCleary and Funding Updates

There was a very good discussion at KUOW today between Daniel Zavala, director of policy and government relations with the League of Education Voters and Summer Stinson of Washington's Paramount Duty about the Legislature's funding of public education.

Zavala says the Legislature made "significant moves toward structural inequities" across the state and says this budget provides  $7.3M in "additional funds."  I don't even need Summer to chime in before I call BS on that one.  We had a recession, remember?  So districts had to make deep cuts and those cuts have only been slowly backfilled.  How is that new money?

But take it away, Summer.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Seattle School Board Meeting This Week - Waitlists

An oddity in the SPS calendar; two board meetings in two weeks.  There will be a couple of special board meetings in July - both about the budget - and then not another one until, well, I don't know because neither the district calendar nor the Board calendar reflect when the next one is.  I would guess late August or early September.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Seattle Schools' Statement on Budget

(Bold mine)
“We thank the Legislature for their effort to create a new basic education funding model. It is no small task, and those of us in the field of education recognize their challenge.

“As we review the budget and McCleary plan, we have been evaluating whether the money we get from the state will meet constitutional needs and district needs.

“We appreciate the increase in learning assistance funds, and that the budget retains the funding model based on staffing allocations.

“The budget shows a net increase for Seattle, and we are appreciative. The challenge is, most of these new dollars are restricted to spending in certain categories. This puts us behind because we lose the flexibility to use local levy dollars where needed and the state doesn’t backfill the gap.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Legislature to Pass Budget Today

I was actually going to give you all kinds of links and updates but here's all you really need to know - the Dems caved, schools will not be fully-funded and property-rich areas will pay for most of the increases.

Schools will get $7.3B more over the next four years.  This is not enough and is likely to not pass judicial muster for fully funding schools.  After this budget is passed, the Supreme Court will review the part that addresses McCleary and allow the plaintiffs to give their thoughts.  Any ruling on this issue would probably come at the end of the summer.

Robert Cruinkshank
Last year, McCleary plaintiffs said $5.6 billion needed just for next school year. $7.3b over 4 years won't cut it

- Property taxes will go up in Seattle/King County - by a lot.

Joe O'Sullivan
Rough numbers, Seattle will see $440/yr increase in property taxes for average house, Ranker says

Student Data Deletion Day - Wouldn't That Be Great

From Education Week:
Bradley Shear is a lawyer who focuses on digital privacy and social media. 
He's also the father of two elementary-aged children who attend the public schools in Maryland's Montgomery County. 

A little over a year ago, Shear says, the focus of his professional life became an intensely personal concern, as well.

"I got a phone call from my son's teacher, who said he had performed an internet search for inappropriate content on a school-issued Chromebook," Shear said in an interview. "It got me thinking about all the data being collected about kids, and whether it will ever be deleted.
From Shear's blog, Shear on Social Media Law:

Every time our kids may be admonished for talking out of turn or texting in class they may receive a permanent demerit in Class Dojo.  In the near future, classrooms may be filled with cameras and other tracking technologies that also analyze our kids every interaction with their teachers and class mates. This is not some type of crazy prediction; in China, this Orwellian future is already a reality.

Multiple companies in the educational technology space have intentionally misled students, parents, teachers, administrators, and lawmakers about how they are using the personal data they are collecting about our kids in school. For example, Google was caught intentionally scanning student emails for advertising and other troubling purposes despite prior promises it was not.  ConnectEDU tried to sell personal student data for profit when it went bankrupt despite promising not to do so.* Edmodo, another educational technology company, was recently caught surreptitiously tracking students online to monetize their web surfing habits despite promises to the contrary.

As a parent and privacy advocate, I have come to the realization that more needs to be done to raise awareness about these issues and to effectuate change. Therefore, I am calling for all K-12 public schools and their vendors to automatically delete the following data points each and every June 30th after the school year has ended:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Important Viewing to Understanding about Being Black in America


Washington State Legislature: Nothing to See, Move Along

Latest on the budget and McCleary:

Rachel La Corte Retweeted Jim Brunner (Seattle Times)

We were originally told budget details would be released publicly at noon Thursday. Was told tonight there was a miscommunication.

Boy, the Washington Legislature makes the GOP in Congress look like pikers on lack of transparency.  Just sickening.

Seattle Schools Announces RESMS Mural Dedication Dates

From SPS Communications:

Construction crew stands in front of the muralsJoin us for an event to celebrate the unveiling and dedication of the Andrew Morrison's murals and Honoring Circle at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School and Cascadia Elementary.

The public ceremonies will be held July 13, 6 until 8 p.m. and August 25, 5 until 8 p.m. at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, 1330 N. 90th St. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Live Blogging from School Board Meeting

Superintendent to skip his Comments and noted that the construction contract for Magnolia Elementary did not proceed and so they are rebidding in the fall and the school will open in 2019-2020.

President Peters is out of the country; Vice-President Harris is presiding.  All other directors are present.

JoLynn Berge of Budget is reviewing the budget portion of the Work Session, noting that the thrid session of the legislature is still in progress and they expect some news tomorrow.

Superintendent Nyland pointed out that the district, like all other WA state districts, has been dealt a bad hand by the Legislature but there is nothing they can do.

Blanford didn't even know that Peters was out of the country and was asking about her thoughts.  He himself was late and somehow decided he needed several clarifications because of it.

Looks like they are going to put off any budget decisions until they understand what comes out of the Legislature.  Vice-President Harris thanked the Budget folks for their transparency on budgeting issues for this year and noted how hard they had worked and been responsive to Board requests.

Waitlist Discussion

Tonight's Board Meeting: Waitlists and Ethnic Studies

On the Work Session on the Budget and Waitlists, here's the presentation.  The waitlist section starts on page 14.

Staff is insisting:
Waitlist moves are predicated on staffing, not just space capacity.
That may be true in internal practice.

Long standing actual process/practice is that both physical space and staffing determines the number of waitlist moves at a school. 
I sure wish former head of Enrollment, Tracy Libros, was here to verify that because that may be true internally but that was never transmitted to parents.  What WAS very clearly stated - over and over and over for decades - said is that the district's biggest commitment to families was to keep sibs together.  That I know for a fact.  It was not a guarantee but it was stated in that manner repeatedly by superintendents, staff and boards.

Tick Tock - Friday is Coming, Is McCleary Done?

Update: KUOW is reporting a deal has been struck but there are no details as the budget writers now have to go and sell it to their caucuses. 

I am appalled at this push to "get it done" when legislators literally had years to get this done.  I hope legislators of good faith will refuse any deal on this basis if the budget - especially for education is not equitable and fair for all.

This is no way to create a budget and has pretty much complete lack of transparency for the public AND no way for the public to weigh in on specifics.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Ah, the first day of summer vacation and, of course, it's overcast.

Checking the PDC for school board candidate contributions, I see this:
District IV: Eden Mack, $6K
District V:  Alec Cooper, $2K; Andre Helmstetter, $835; Zachary DeWolf, $4K and Omar Vasquez, $8K
District VII: no contributions to any candidate

Story in the Times about the possible closure of Fircrest School in Shoreline puts a spotlight on how we serve students with developmental issues.

Here's what I'm seeing from posts (from readers, not the WPD) at the Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page on budget/McCleary negotiations:

Blanford Slams the Board and the District at TFA ("Alumni") Event

Editor's note: this event was not sponsored by TFA but by their Washington Alumni group.  I'll just note that the TFA website has pages with links to all alumni groups.)

end of update

Dear Directors,

I am tracking the school board elections and I attended two events last night.

One was at the NAACP where they hosted the national education director who was speaking on ESSA and how states will be enacting those regulations.  I was unable to stay for the full program as I had planned to go to another event and the NAACP program started late.

The other program was at a group called General Assembly and it was sponsored by Teach for America Washington Alumni.  They allegedly invited all the candidates (but I heard from at least one who only got the reminder, not the invite) but only two came and, of course, were both former TFA members.  That would be Oscar Vasquez in the 5th and Chelsea Byers in the 7th. 

The moderator for the evening was Director Blanford who had been asked - at the last minute - to come and fill in the group (of about 40 people) about the Seattle School Board.  What he said about the Board and the district, I found appalling.  Keep in mind, he knew I was there and taking notes.  I'm only going to speak to what he said about the Board and district and not all his speaking points about running for school board.

Oddly, he started by saying that "hopefully, I can speak without being negative" and then proceeded to do exactly that.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Last Day of School 2017

Always fun, always bittersweet.

Segregation: Everywhere and Growing, so What to Do?

This post will be the first of a two-part series on the issue of segregation in schools.   This is not just a Seattle Schools issue; it's a national issue.    (The second part of the series will be about the HCC program and the presentation the Board hear at their last retreat from an expert on gifted programs who gave the Board many ideas on how to expand the make-up of the program.)

Today's Landscape

Segregation in schools is on the rise.  From Business Insider:

The number of students attending "High-Poverty and mostly Black or Hispanic" (H/PBH) public schools — including charter and magnet schools — more than doubled between 2001 and 2014.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

A New Twist at the Board Meeting This Week

The Board is having a special Work Session this week along with the regular Board meeting.   The Work Session will address:
There will be a special School Board work session on June 28 to discuss the budget, waitlist process and a path forward. The work session will take place at the beginning of the regularly scheduled School Board meeting. 

Additional Background: The district has started to move waitlists at Option Schools where seats are available, and at attendance area schools that can accommodate additional students with their current staffing allocations. At the June 28 work session, staff will present recommendations on waitlist moves, various scenarios and implications.  
A path forward on what?  Waitlists or the budget?

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.

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.

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.