Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Open Thread

As I wrote elsewhere, Muir Elementary is closed for a second day.  The district says the school has been scrubbed of the norovirus but that many students and staff are still ill.

First it was Trump's love affair with Twitter and now it appears Bill Gates thinks it destroyed Common Core.
This, presumably, is why his foundation paid for this recent study (on top of the $2.3 billion he has already invested into Common Core) analyzing the amount of artificial activity on Twitter opposing Common Core. The study claims the activity managed to “skew” the debate.

Yes, tweets — tweets! — are what brought down Common Core. $2.3 billion down the drain because of 140 characters. Damn you, Twitter!
Speaking of Common Core, let's bribe those kids to take the test.
Jewell’s particular incentives: a raffle and a party in which kids can participate only if they have shown up to school on all PARCC testing days and “who have tried their hardest.
And, the school asks parents to donate items for raffle baskets.  
Hundreds of thousands of parents have opted their children out of these tests, and in 2015, an Indiana superintendent of the year, Rocky Killion, actually suggested to parents that they home-school their children during testing week because he was so opposed to the exams. In Colorado, PARCC tests are used in part to decide whether struggling schools should face state intervention.
 What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I guess Mr Gates discounts public outrage over the bribery and extortion practiced by the US Dept of Education to forcibly push CCSS adoption.

Perhaps Tweets were centered on actual facts rather than pushing Gates' propaganda.

Those damn Tweets are attempting to turn an oligarchy into a democracy. No wonder Bill Gates is not happy.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

NYT article on what Spokane is doing to raise graduation rates and college attendance and success:


Anonymous said...

On a lighter note, an interesting 10 min. video on how to explain complex scientific research at different levels. I am always amazed at some of the teachers I know in the SPS and how skilled they are at knowing the developmental stage at which different kids can understand concepts. At home, with my own kid, I often make mistakes.......and tears ensue.


Anonymous said...

Tweets DID NOT "skew" the debate on Common Core but tweets DID "skew" the debate on the levy cliff.

Got it.

--- Confirmation Bias

Steve said...

In a time of budget cuts and the increased focus on equity in the district, I wonder if the district should set a policy of not accepting money from school PTAs to fund certified teaching positions (classroom, PCP, etc.) that are being cut. As it stands, some PTAs facing staffing cuts will choose to raise money for them if they are able. This creates an inequitable situation. I don't blame any parents for wanting to pay for these positions. But if the district said they won't take PTA money for this, we will all face these budget cuts in a transparent, probably equitable manner. And perhaps with the pain felt everywhere, more pressure might fall on the district and the state to remedy the situation.

Related, there were people who were gathering PTA budget data to see where parents were spending money on their schools. Was a summary of this data ever made public? Would love to know how much we're all ponying up for things most people assume should be the responsibility of the District (esp. staff positions).


Melissa Westbrook said...

Confirmation, I'm sure tweets were part of it. But Gates had used his muscle to get CC done and then did a very poor job of explaining it.

Also tweets did not win the levy cliff; the volume of feedback from constituents, including tweets, probably did.

Steve, I think Soup for Teachers were gathering that and I'll let readers know when/if it comes out.

I, too, think that SPS should follow Bellevue and other districts and not allow PTAs to fund staff.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of money...

…DeVos’s only stated commitment is to expand “choice” nationally through charter schools and private-school vouchers, as she worked to do in her home state of Michigan.

There, DeVos was a key player in expanding a free-market system that features the largest number and percentage of for-profit charter schools in the nation: 79 percent of Michigan’s charters are for-profit. This is highly unusual, as more than 80 percent of charters nationwide are nonprofit. DeVos has also owned shares in K12 Inc., the nation’s largest operator of for-profit charter schools. In 2000, she helped fund an unsuccessful effort to change the state constitution in order to permit private-school vouchers. (more)


Anonymous said...

The volume of feedback from constituents including tweets DEFINITELY got the levy cliff bill through. The pressure you and your WPD friends put on the Democrats caused them so much anxiety that they were willing to accept pretty restrictive uses on local levy dollars that the Republicans had been demanding all along.

You didn't put pressure on the Republicans at all. You played right into their hands.

--- Confirmation Bias

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, it looks like Uncle Albert is back.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Except the pressure we applied was NOT to Dems ("vote for this no matter what the GOP does to the bill") - that pressure was applied to the GOP.

Those "restrictive uses" were already coming via McCleary anyway - we had heard over and over from the GOP that levy dollars could not be used for basic education.

And still I smile.

Watching said...

RE: Levy Cliff

Enormous pressure was placed on Republicans and funds will get shifted.

The Supreme court asserts the state should pay for basic education. The Supreme Court did NOT state that levy funds can not be used for teaching. This fight will go on, I imagine.

I'm not happy that SPI will be involved with our levy process. IMO, Too much state involvement - for something that is done at a local level.

Outsider said...

What was the Republicans' motivation for adding their amendment to the levy cliff extension? It seems to reinforce the McCleary framework, which the Republicans seem otherwise not to like.

Outsider said...

Regarding Bill Gates and his twitter woes, it's worth noting that the lead twitterbot operator credited with bringing down the Common Core is a Strangelovian group in Florida called the Patriot Journalism Network. Their main complaint seems to have been that Common Core required too much progressive orthodoxy in history and social sciences. Their main influence was to swing Tea Party and alt-right followers against Common Core.

Gates's feelings are perhaps doubly wounded because Seattle Progressives don't feel sorry for him.

Anonymous said...

Common Core has been brought down?


Anonymous said...

Anybody know when the 2017-2018 school year calendar will be approved? Anyone? Bueller?


Melissa Westbrook said...

INsider, no it hasn't been brought down and I doubt that it will as it's a state issue to decide. But I think the federal oversight of CC will lessen and states may change/amend some standards (especially when they figure out that for some grades, they are developmentally inappropriate).

But for all Gates' billions and machinations, it certainly hasn't turned out the way he thought.

In fact, there was a June 2016 article on the Gates Foundation that said this:

“We’re facing the fact that it is a real struggle to make systemwide change,” wrote the foundation’s CEO, Sue Desmond-Hellman. And a few lines later: “It is really tough to create more great public schools.”

The too-quick introduction of Common Core, and attempts in many states to hold schools and teachers immediately accountable for a very different form of teaching, led to a public backlash.

“Unfortunately, our foundation underestimated the level of resources and support required for our public education systems to be well-equipped to implement the standards,” Desmond-Hellmann wrote. “We missed an early opportunity to sufficiently engage educators — particularly teachers — but also parents and communities, so that the benefits of the standards could take flight from the beginning.

“This has been a challenging lesson for us to absorb, but we take it to heart. The mission of improving education in America is both vast and complicated, and the Gates Foundation doesn’t have all the answers.”

Yeah, so.

Anonymous said...

Everyone in Olympia knows Republicans totally caved on the levy cliff. Tweets matter.

The Gates Foundation is the equivalent of the US military during the Vietnam War - totally oblivious to how their aggressive tactics that totally discount what people actually want undermine their own cause and spur a successful guerrilla war.

Well, not quite successful yet. Common Core still hasn't been repealed in many states. But there's still time.

Admiral Halsey

no caps said...

Strangelovian... stealing that one.

Lynn said...

flummoxed - The rules for creating the school calendar were included in the last SEA contract. You can find them on the 11th page (labeled page 5). Link here.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lynn!


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"" analyzing the amount of artificial activity on Twitter opposing Common Core. The study claims the activity managed to “skew” the debate. ""

How did this Gates Funded Study determine which Twitter activity was artificial?

I am puzzled.

-- Dan Dempsey