Monday, April 03, 2017

Early Education Promises from Mayoral Candidate Nikkita Oliver

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

With a campaign based around housing, education, and ending the “school-to-prison pipeline,” Oliver currently stands as the most serious challenger to Murray. Safe streets advocate Andres Salomon has also entered the race. Oliver, 31, was admitted to the state bar in 2015 and works for Creative Justice, “an arts-based alternative to incarceration,” according to Crosscut.
  • No new youth jail: Under Nikkita’s leadership, the City will invest in creating research-based, developmentally- and age-appropriate approaches to administering justice for children involved in the criminal legal system with the goal of eliminating youth detention in Seattle.
  • SchoolsNikkita will seek to immediately end the practice of withholding City levy dollars to schools based on test scores. City funds would be distributed to schools, in consultation with Seattle Public Schools, based on need.  
On that last point, I will say that I've never been quite clear on how the funds from the Families and Education levy are distributed.   Meaning, how much the district is involved in that distribution.  As well, despite repeated questions to several people, I cannot find out if the City will be sharing levy dollars with any charter schools in Seattle.
From Oliver's website, thoughts on education:
Nikkita will leverage Seattle’s resources to support its schools, while leaving decision-making control to the school district. Mayoral control of school districts has been a disaster in cities that have attempted it, leading to decreased democracy and increased privatization, segregation, and school closures disproportionately impacting students of color. In Nikkita’s vision, the City would strongly support the school district by supplementing our currently under-funded services to support a whole child approach for all Seattle’s youth. 
 On the levy, I found this from the minutes of the Levy Oversight Ctm from March 14, 2017:

Greg Wong asked with the changing tests and math going up and down, do we have some comparison to see if levy investments are still paying dividends in comparison to non-levy funded Title One schools? Is this investment making a difference regardless of scores going up and down? D. Harrison replied yes, anecdotally. The metrics are tricky because there is not much commonality across schools, however there is quite a bit of positive feedback in terms of results that are happening.
 Wait, what? It's not possible to compare Title One schools math performance because of lack of "commonality?"  I'll have to ask but I would assume that is because of use of differing math curriculums.

There's this as well:

Allison Wood asked if the growth mindset intervention was being reinforced school-wide as well, or if it was just focused on math and those teachers? K. Skanderup replied that it varies, at some schools it is very much a school-wide approach and some schools there is a teacher who has been an advocate for it. It has spread and although it may not be from a leadership perspective, we have had students modeling to adults and other kids by presenting to staff meetings about the growth mindset. There are more and more schools that have adopted it school-wide but it is not universal, sometimes it is in pockets.
And again, if you don't have some kind of conformity from school to school, how do you truly know what works?  I think this is a good example of the district allowing principals to make decisions that probably should come from the district.

On data:

I. Muñoz-Colón replied that we have not had a database that allowed us to link our data over time to be able to do a deep analysis that would follow student cohorts easily. We are very excited that for the first time, we will be able to do that kind of analysis soon and will be able to share that with the LOC.
 On the City helping with the SPS budget crisis:

K. Washington stated that in this looming 74 million budget cut, we have some specific things that we are funding in the levy and my hope is that there will not be a lot of pressure to take dollars away from the levy and “backfill” the district. The district has some work to do and should do that work.
I'm not sure what that last sentence means.

5 comments:

Robert Cruickshank said...

This makes me deliriously happy. The City has been using the Levy funds to try and force policy changes at SPS and push high stakes testing, rather than make sure that students are getting what they need. That quote at the end is just damning - they'd rather withhold money from SPS than help out in a budget pinch. Nikkita Oliver is right to go after this, especially as the levies (Families & Ed as well as preschool) are up for renewal next year.

Watching said...

"I. Muñoz-Colón replied that we have not had a database that allowed us to link our data over time to be able to do a deep analysis that would follow student cohorts easily. We are very excited that for the first time, we will be able to do that kind of analysis soon and will be able to share that with the LOC. "

Seattle's Pre-K Program provided an opportunity for the city to merge data bases with Seattle Public Schools. The head of SPS's Research, Evaluation and Assessment worked with the city on this issue.

Robert Cruickshank said...

For more background on this issue, Melissa and I co-authored an article in 2015 showing how the City was "losing its way" on the Levy and what needed to be done to fix it: https://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2015/06/seattles-families-and-education-levy-is.html

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll have to ask about those "merged" databases, thanks.

dan dempsey said...

Wait just a minute on this:

"I'll have to ask but I would assume that is because of use of differing math curriculums."

I thought the whole idea behind Common Core was that all schools were teaching the same standards regardless of the instructional materials being used. --- So now we can't compare schools. Huhh why is that?