Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

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

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

"The vote today sends a resounding message that schemes like vouchers, tax credits, savings programs, call it what you may, at the end of the day, it's a method in which it seeks to siphon away moneys from our public schools," said Herrero. "The House, with the vote today, strongly took a position in support of our public schools, our public school teachers." 
The House then rejected a follow-up pitch to allow children from poor families to use such a program. The chamber voted that idea down 117-27.
You might have missed it but the coalition group that challenged the latest charter school law is appealing to the Washington State Supreme Court.  I'm not sure at this point that it's a good idea because of the lower court's ruling on the "ripeness" of the case but we'll just have to wait and see.

Speaking of private schools, the Times reprinted a "story" that read more like a press release on how personalized learning is saving some Catholic schools.   (FYI, charter schools that are the major challengers to Catholic schools' enrollment.)   The best part of the "story" comes at the end:
St. Therese also received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (Disclosure: The Gates Foundation provides funding for The Seattle Times’ Education Lab project.)
Oh, so not only did the Times not write the story, it appears to have been sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

Neil Gorsuch took the oath of office as the newest Supreme Court Justice (although there will always be an asterisk by his name, given the circumstances).  The first case he will hear?  From Teen Vogue:
On April 19, Gorsuch will participate in a case that deals with religious freedom – an important topic that could have a lasting effect on future cases. According to NBC, this particular case was brought about by a lawsuit from Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri. The church, wanting to improve its day care playground, asked for money from a state-funded program in order to replace the playground’s gravel surface with a softer, safer rubber material. Their application was denied because the state’s constitution prohibits taxpayers’ dollars from being used by religious groups.

As The New York Times points out, the case, depending upon its outcome, could influence the separation of church and state, which is undoubtedly a cornerstone of the United States’s democracy. Moreover, the Supreme Court will have to decide whether or not these restrictions on religious groups’ funding are an infringement upon their freedom of religion.
I'm sure this case does have many nuances but it would seem a private school is responsible for children's safety at school.  I'm not sure how that infringes on anyone's religious rights.  

What's on your mind?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/education/2017/04/03/scott-walkers-k-12-budget-drops-hours-instruction-mandate/99705162/

"A proposal in Gov. Scott Walker's state budget appears to make Wisconsin the only state with no law aimed at guaranteeing students a minimum number of hours and days of instruction.

Walker's budget plan eliminates the state law that calls for public schools and private voucher schools to provide a minimum number of hours of instruction. It would also free virtual charter schools from having to ensure that teachers are available for direct pupil instruction for a minimum number of hours each year."

--GOPHatesKids

dan dempsey said...

What is on my mind? Duplicity and Fakery

Consider this from SPS website:

"The good news is that since 2011, the number of gap eliminating schools has increased."

Now consider this:
Check the Seattle 8th grade MATH data for
White - Black / African American gaps from State testing 2016 in Math:

Level 4 exceeds standard :
White = 51.4% :: Black = 12.1%
[White results are over 4 times "Black" results at level 4]

Level 1 well below standard:
White = 7.6% :: Black = 37.5%
[Black results are about 5 times "White" results at level 1]

----
English Language Arts
Check the Seattle 8th grade ELA data for
White - Black / African American gaps from State testing 2016 in ELA:

Level 4 exceeds standard :
White = 41.3% :: Black = 5.9%
[White results are 7 times "Black" results at level 4]

Level 1 well below standard:
White = 4.5% :: Black = 29.1%
[Black results are over 6 times "White" results at level 1]

The White - Black "Opportunity Gap"; Any Real Progress in Seattle Schools?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dan, you make a good point. I'm not sure what to think from the district because they seemingly say one thing and then something different another day. I'm going to have a thread on that soon.

Anonymous said...

SPS is cheering because we now have a whopping 8 so-called gap eliminating schools? Out of about 100? Sad. And notice how they use the term "gap eliminating," too. It doesn't represent eliminated gaps, but rather progress in that direction--rapid increases for students historically underserved.

In other words, less than 10% of schools are making good progress.

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

The most efficient way to reduce gaps in SPS is to gerrymander school boundaries and reduce the inherent effects of highly impacted FRL schools. It's research proven. Since FRL and racial disparities intersect (and more and more so in Seattle), this solution should be the first step in any real attempt to reduce gaps in Seattle.

SPS is reacting to the political heat of having one of the highest black and white achievement gaps in the nation. Some like to blame it exclusively on the economics of living in Seattle which has driven out many families to cheaper neighboring districts. This is part of the story. The black and white discipline disparities in Seattle are not new and the significant achievement gap, while increasing, has always been abysmal.

Gerrymander school boundaries and make option schools more diverse by offering them as a choice to FRL families up to a certain percentage of the school population.

As long as Seattle keeps its current SAP, it won't narrow any of its achievement gaps.

FWIW

Anonymous said...

The cost of Betsy DeVos’s security detail — nearly $8 million over nearly 8 months

Coming out of the DoE budget, $8M could fund a lot of ed programs.

--No DeVos

dan dempsey said...


Checking out the middle school math performance......

I just ran spreadsheet looking at all of the 6,7,8 middle schools and their performance based on scores in SBA math 2015 and 2016 of LOW INCOME students....

Verdict - clear champion is Mercer Middle School

So what is going on at Mercer and has the district analyzed it and attempted to spread it to others?

I did my analysis by looking at Percent of Low Income students at Level 1 (well below standard) and percent of students at Level 4 (exceeds standard).

===
I am now looking at the k-8 schools but they are more difficult because of much smaller middle school class sizes.

One thing is really clear, putting all 8th graders into Algebra is not working.
It is not working in Tacoma and it is not working at Orca.

dan dempsey said...

FWIW, There is truth in what you say.... but I am in slight disagreement.

You said: "The most efficient way to reduce gaps in SPS is to gerrymander school boundaries and reduce the inherent effects of highly impacted FRL schools."

While high concentrations of poverty often have an adverse impact, I think the SPS has even bigger problems.

I strongly believe that the SPS uses instructional materials and practices that are very poor for educationally disadvantaged learners. The SPS is not using a complete whole language approach to reading and literacy rather than a phonics centered approach. (whole language was a 20+ year disaster in CA) However many materials and practices are sub-optimal. Hard to forget Carla Santorno and the Everyday Math adoption with her claim that EDM with fidelity of implementation and 75-90 minute math classes would eliminate the achievement gap in 4 years. Instead scores declined.

Applying cognitive science in Seattle could have a large positive impact.
However the ideological foundations of some leaders at district office are nearly anti-science when it comes to using relevant data.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, Dan, the district continually touts the results at Aki and Mercer and yet, why not export these best practices? Kind of a mystery.

Wild Cat said...

"As long as Seattle keeps its current SAP, it won't narrow any of its achievement gaps."

Data does not support this notion.

dan dempsey said...

Yes Aki is doing quite well. Take a look at percents of Low Income kids

Aki 80%, Mercer 69%, Denny 67%, Washington 45%
All others are under 33%

In SBAC Math results for Low Income kids Washington does much worse than the other three at 6th and 8th grades ... and just worse at grade 7 . true in both 2015 and 2016.

But Mercer is the champ.

Anonymous said...

It's not just a matter what those well-performing middle schools are doing. Elementary feeder schools are likely a factor in the observed success, I would expect data on a few of the feeder schools to show similar trends. What are those feeder schools doing right? Or if it's not them, how do they turn things around so quickly in sixth grade?

DisAPPointed

not mc t said...

i will for perhaps the only time agree with fwiw, perhaps because they have co-oped it from my statements.

"Gerrymander school boundaries and make option schools more diverse by offering them as a choice to FRL families up to a certain percentage of the school population."

sps gerrymandering is opposite of equity. wms is going to dramatically increase in frl percent. most of the changes are pushing the dollar gap each and every iteration.

and don't get me started on option schools. total bs.

no caps

SPS Mom said...

As an option school parent, I would love it if the district would do set-asides, tiebreaker or priority enrollment for FRL students up to a certain percentage (30% is what I've read is the ideal proportion where all students benefit.). I brought it up at a board meeting and an SPS lawyer said that FRL data couldn't be used for anything but FRL eligibility, but I believe that the district could either use a proxy (like ELL eligibility) or ask for self-reported income data or eligibility for TANF or other assistance on the enrollment forms to identify those students.

Anonymous said...

Yes, look at the 6th grade results then follow the trail to the successful or failing elementary school, and you may get useful information. Don't expect 6th grade math or ELA teachers to be miracle workers if a bright student sat in a corner for three years so the teacher could focus on those that are acting out or not meeting grade standards.

Option schools should have quotas to create more income and race diversity and opportunity, otherwise they turn into the white flight catch all (Hazelwolf and Thornton Creek) where pta/pto donations are 3-4 times that surrounding schools, which, btw, makes them quite unwelcoming and intimidating to those who can't afford to donate $500-$800 per child.

Mix Itup

Melissa Westbrook said...

MixItUp, good point on the comfort level for those at heavy-duty fundraising schools. I understand the pressure at McDonald and JSIS is pretty high but I hadn't heard that about TC.

Anonymous said...

I remember having a conversation with an educator about WHY Mercer Middle School was doing so well. I mentioned that this school changed the math curricula materials and that other schools should follow its example. She was more in favor of Reform Math so she stated how they changed lots of things at Mercer beyond the math curricula. I argued that changing to a better math program should not be overlooked. It was a key change and could be replicated at other schools.
Dan is so spot on about the deficiencies of Reform Math. It is impossible for kids with ADHD and hard for those who use English as a second language. The text heavy approach of Reform Math keeps them behind their peers and confuses many students in a completely unnecessary way.
I am hopeful Rick Burke can be a leader for better math in all middle and high schools. This change is long overdue.

S parent

Anonymous said...

@Melissa--there are people who keep better track than I do, but I believe TC raises the most per student than any north seattle school, and their diversity numbers are strikingly low.

Mix Itup

Anonymous said...

"Option schools should have quotas to create more income and race diversity and opportunity, otherwise they turn into the white flight catch all (Hazelwolf and Thornton Creek) where pta/pto donations are 3-4 times that surrounding schools, which, btw, makes them quite unwelcoming and intimidating to those who can't afford to donate $500-$800 per child."

This is true if you want it to be so, but I don't see this as the reality. My kids attended option schools. We're working poor and were never pressured to donate. One of my kids even attended Laurelhurst before TC (formerly AE2), the school once famous for buying a whole teacher, and we were never pressured to help the buy in.

We chose option schools after doing the researc and deciding upon the schools we felt would best fit with the abilities and needs of our kids. I wasn't fleeing people of color, although if the words of Rickie Malone are to be believed (she's a former principal of the African American Academy and Madrona K-8), she was uncomfortable whenever she saw White people in her school. Racism can exist in all directions. As a lowly Norwegian-American with weird kids, I did the work to find schools where my kids would do well, and where we could trust the teachers. Any parent should do this, yes?

Given the history of the AA Academy and Madrona, the tradition of always blaming low achievement on racism doesn't appear valid, and yet we're supposed to base everything we do on NOT being racist, and to assume all blame if we happen to be White. It appears, at least to me, that the equity lens can be tilted to always favor one group over another. Yet another construct leading to nothing of value?

Westside

dan dempsey said...

S Parent,

Back in the day, Mercer made large improvements by teaching math using Saxon for grade 6 (and perhaps grade 7 I believe) and also for low performing students all grades. Of course this had to be done under the radar as it was contrary to Central Admin's math ed beliefs.

No idea what is going on at Mercer now but, for Low Income kids at Mercer the SBA math scores for 2015 spring and 2016 spring are as follows
followed by [low income district average] {all student district average}
(all white student district average) [[all black student district average]]

Mercer Middle School
2015 8th grade Math
L4 39.9 [23.0] {37.5} (46.5) [[12.0]]
L3 22.7 [17.5] {18.0} (17.6) [[15.6]]
L2 18.8 [19.5] {14.7} (11.7) [[20.9]]
L1 17.1 [29.8] {17.4} (7.9) [[41.4]]
no score 0.8 [8.7] {11.4} (15.2) [[9.0]]

2016 8th grade Math
L4 36.3 [23.3] {41.2} (51.2) [[12.1]]
L3 25.9 [20.7] {19.8} (20.4) [[21.4]]
L2 19.9 [20.6] {15.4} (12.0) [[21.4]]
L1 15.1 [27.7] {15.4} (7.6) [[37.5]]
no score 2.1 [6.1] {7.1} (7.8) [[6.8]]

As you look at the above for Mercer, remember it is the highest performing 6,7,8 middle school for Low Income students in math. Notice the level 4 score for district White students as well as the level 1 score. You will notice that Best Performing School for Low Income kids (Mercer) is no where near the all white student district average.

Now consider this:
On the opening page of SPS website is a link for
eliminating opportunity gaps
(as if this is possible in SPS - remenber Charlie's phrase "aspirational goals" // wouldn't reducing opportunity gaps be better for an honest conversation?)

Following the link takes you to a page with this fourth paragraph:

The good news is that since 2011, the number of gap eliminating schools has increased. We now have eight schools that are rapidly increasing achievement for students we have not historically served well. These schools have a common foundation and approach.

Looking at White student district average at exceeds standard (L 4) and well below standard (L 1) and scores at best performing middle school Mercer, I would say the number of gap eliminating schools is still zero.

Typical of the SPS Administration to fantasize in the realm of the unreal, avoiding any honest conversation.

"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data"
-- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

dan dempsey said...

Do NOT MISS this from Dec 2011 in the Seattle Times
from Brian M. Rosenthal (of course)

‘Alarming’ new test-score gap discovered in Seattle schools

For the first time, Seattle Public Schools officials have broken down test scores by specific home language. The recently announced results revealed a surprising trend that may have implications for policy around the district.

......
Michael Tolley, an executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle schools, said at the meeting that the data exposed a new achievement gap that is “extremely, extremely alarming.

The administration has for years analyzed test scores by race. It has never before broken down student-achievement data by specific home language or country of origin — it is rare for school districts to examine test scores at that level — but it is unlikely that the phenomenon the data suggest is actually new.

In fact, some national experts said the trend represented by the Seattle data is not surprising. They pointed to some studies about college attendance and achievement indicating that immigrant families from all backgrounds tend to put a larger emphasis on education than those families that have been in the country longer.

Traditional factors in low performance, such as poverty and single-parent homes, are generally shared by black immigrants and nonimmigrants alike.

The new finding may help Seattle educators more accurately pinpoint students who are struggling and figure out how to help them, School Board members said.

However, district officials said they need to study the new data further before speculating about the reasons for it or making policy changes in response.

Some community members said the administration doesn’t appear to be taking the results seriously enough.

--- No surprise there. This was December 2011, is the administration any more serious today?

Anonymous said...

How is TC a "white flight catch all?" Fleeing from View Ridge and Wedgwood?

~FHS85

Anonymous said...

May be not ...

It was written ... "could influence the separation of church and state, which is undoubtedly a cornerstone of the United States’s democracy."

the term “separation of church and state” appears nowhere in the Constitution.
------------------

The first amendment to the US Constitution states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" The two parts, known as the "establishment clause" and the "free exercise clause" respectively, form the textual basis for the Supreme Court's interpretations

Definitely open to discussion ... as

The Constitution only forbids government sponsorship and compulsion of religious exercise by individual citizens. It does not require hermetic “separation”—implying exclusion—of religion and religious persons from public affairs of state.

A strict separationist view is not supported by the Constitution.


-- Dan Dempsey