Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

First up.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

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

Update:

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

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

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

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

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

NO to the Seattle Times Education Reporting

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 29, 2017

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

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

On Privitization of Public Schools

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Best Wishes for Ramadan

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

Image result for happy ramadan

Friday, May 26, 2017

Plans for Future Magnolia and Queen Anne Assignment

From the district:

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

The Gates Foundation has this notice on their grants page:

Seattle Public Schools


April 2017
to ensure the K-12 team’s work in equity is grounded in the real experiences of teachers, we must engage them directly in our learning
$225
1
K-12, K-12 Education
United States
Seattle, Washington
http://www.seattleschools.org 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Open Thread

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

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

District Picks Medsker as Lincoln Principal

From Superintendent Nyland:

Dear Families:

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

Tonight's Work Session May Provoke Debate

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

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

What to do with Last Minute New Revenue?

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

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

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

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

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

Chief Sealth's Self-Examination

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Bombing a concert you know will likely have a majority of tweens and teens?  There's real men for you.  A very sad day in Manchester, England.

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's 80 Degrees and Here It Comes...

I'm not sure I really see much wrong with this dress code but then, I'm old.

School Board Candidate Updates

Three candidates have withdrawn from the races.

Two are in District 4:  Jeff Jones and Anh M. Nguyen.  Neither showed for the 36th Dems interviews.  (Also not interviewed there but still in the race; Herbert J. Camet, Jr. and Sean Champagne.)

One is in District 5: Michelle Sarju.  I'm a little disappointed about this one; she sounded like an intriguing candidate.  


Seattle Schools This Week

First, the date for Director Burke's next Lincoln High meeting has been changed.  From Director Burke:
The next Lincoln community meeting will be held Monday, June 5th from 6:30-8:30+ at the Hamilton Middle School Commons.  There will not be a meeting on May 23rd as originally planned, due to multiple scheduling and space availability conflicts.  I apologize in advance for the late notice on this change and any conflicts as I tried to fit this event in with the myriad of year-end occasions.

Meeting topics will include:
·         Introduction of Ruth Medsker, Lincoln High Principal starting June 1st of this year.
·         Updates on high school boundaries – HS Boundary Task Force process and work-to-date
·         Answers to frequently asked questions from prior meetings, or process/timelines for still-open questions
·         Facility design updates
·         Dedicated time for student Q&A.  Bring your existing HS student even if they aren’t Lincoln-bound to share their suggestions.
·         Opportunity for small-group networking to launch PTSA, Music/Arts, Athletics community groups.

For families from JSIS, it has been brought to my attention that this meeting exactly conflicts with the JSIS Ice Cream Social, so I will be hanging out a bit later to 9:00 or until they kick us out of the building if anybody wants to join this meeting a bit later.

I am looking forward to seeing folks, especially more students, on June 5th.  If you can’t attend this time, no worries - we will be having more get-togethers later this year.
SPS This Week (partial)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Want to Hear From Some of the School Board Candidates?

Those folks at the 36th Dems* don't let any grass grow under their feet.  Here's the link to their interviews with candidates for many races.

For Seattle School Board they include:

Just Say No, Governor

The Seattle Times issues the throwdown to the Legislature. I'm down with that - no new Special Session.

I'm calling the Governor's office tomorrow and asking him to not schedule one.

Let the Supreme Court take the reins now. Enough is enough.
The Supreme Court should get more directly involved in the state’s necessary effort to reform the school-funding system.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Summer Camp Opportunity for Autistic Youth

Come Explore the Possibilities! Theater of Possibility ("TOP") helps young people give voice to their ideas and dreams! Through fun and zany theater games, improv exercises and role-playing, we explore the dynamics of friendship, family and school. Along the way, we shape powerful emotions and ideas into moving, profound and funny works of theater.

Theater of Possibility for youth with autism spectrum and other ability differences will offer a two-week half-day summer camp for ages 8-13 at University Heights Center, 5031 University Way NE, Seattle, 98103, M-F, 3-6 PM, July 31-August 11. Cost $600.

Dear Readers

Once again, blog business.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Last Call for School Board Candidates

Update:  As I predicted, a few more candidates at the last minute.

Friday Open Thread

The candidates for School Board continues to grow and I'll have a thread on the newest folks.   Interesting, though, that Patu still has no challenger.

I'll note that Trump is considering former senator, Joseph Lieberman, as the head of the FBI.  A former elected official as head of the FBI?  Who sits on a board for one of DeVos' organizations?  Of course, that makes sense.

Portland Schools passed a record $790M bond for school buildings:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thinking DeVos and Trump Won't Get Commencement Invites After this Budget

From the Washington Post:

Discouraging Kids from Opting Out at Washington Middle?

At the Seattle Opt-Out Facebook page, there's this:

President Peters Makes It Official; She's Not Running

From her website:
After serving four years on the Seattle School Board, I will not be seeking reelection. Other obligations and responsibilities beckon at this point in my life, in the realms of both family and career.

Newest School Board Candidates

Update 2: Yet another candidate for Peters' position - Jennifer Crow.

There is one Jennifer Crow with a LinkedIn profile says she is the Clinic Operations Supervisor for the Breast Imaging Center at Swedish Medical Center.  She was a mentor in the early 2000's for Youth in Focus.  

There's 24 hours before the filing deadline.  This should be interesting.

end of update


Update:  more candidates

Ballard's Robotics Team Takes the World Championship

Members of the Ballard Robotics Team celebrate their win!Wonderful, fabulous news and congrats to the student scientists, their teachers, their families and the school community at Ballard High!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Please Help Find This Girl

I am told this girl goes to Hale.  Her family is very worried.

Day 24 of the Special Session


Today Is the School Board Meeting (Also Canadian PM Here)

From KING-5:
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Western Washington Wednesday and Thursday to take part in the Microsoft CEO Summit.

The prime minister's office said Trudeau will be at Microsoft's Redmond campus to promote the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, encourage investment in the Canadian technology sector, and draw global talent to Canada.
It's unclear if the public will see Trudeau but between going to Microsoft and then downtown to see the Governor Thursday morning, traffic is likely to be tied up.

I have a query into SPS about any bus schedule changes.

Agenda for Board Meeting.

SIIF; Good Things for Kids and Families

The Seattle International Film Festival is just getting underway this week.

One film I want to emphasize is Backpack Full of Cash, a documentary about public schools. It's having its West Coast premiere here after being the runner-up for Audience Award, Best Documentary at FilmfestDC.  The SIIF link has a trailer for the film.

Backpack Full of Cash, narrated by Matt Damon, explores the real cost of privatizing America’s public schools.  The producers also created the award-winning PBS series, SCHOOL: The Story of American Public Education (narrated by Meryl Streep.) 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Education News Around the State and Nation

The Bellingham Herald has good coverage of THE key race for the legislature this fall - the race in the 45th where interim Senator Dino Rossi will likely be replaced by one of two major candidates.  With the Senate barely held by the GOP, this race could be a game-changer.

SPS Needs a High School Czar

I'm not kidding.

There are bell time issues, 24-credit fulfillment, reaching more students with advanced learning opportunities, the reopening of Lincoln and the boundary alignment and enrollment issues that will involve.

I had a good conversation recently with a director on many issues and one topic I asked about was who is overseeing all these changes to high schools.  The director said there really wasn't a single person so I asked how parents could be sure that there was alignment of all the details and oversight for the big picture.  Not sure.

I am truly worried about how this will all play out.  High schools are usually big enough entities with strong principals and manage on their own.  But this is a plethora of new issues and some that will not (cannot?) be in control of principals.
I urge you to ask the Board for the district to appoint one staff member to oversee all this change.  

Here's another curve ball for ya.

High school sciences courses are to undergo big change and be rolled out over the next three years.  Those changes come as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are to be enacted in Seattle Schools.

Tuesday Open Thread

I have to getting going but I did want to put up two key items.

One, did you get that letter from Superintendent Nyland? What a hot mess.  Basically, please stay tuned and someday you'll find our the school schedule, bell times, transportation.  The least the district could do is provide a chart so you know at a glance what key dates there are.

I also found this sentence - around early-release dates - off-putting:

In further review of our data we found that Wednesdays are better for teacher collaboration time and maximizes educator participation.

I find this issue of why Wednesday is better for having teachers in place versus Friday (which is when many parents want an early release day) something of concern.  The teachers contract wasn't written to emphasize penalties for non-participation in professional development?

Plus, a odd sentence at the end that I don't recall him placing in other letters:

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, it is a great honor.

Second, although Director Patu filed her notice about running again, the first official filing is from Zachary DeWolf for the open seat that Director Blanford is vacating (he has said this publicly several times).

Mr. DeWolf is quite the interesting candidate. He is Native-American, gay, and a communications specialist. He was in the Peace Corps and, to my interest, a member of the 43rd Dems (and sits on their board). As they are having an event this week, I'll be delighted to go introduce myself.

I have to smile, though. For being a communications guy, it's a little odd that his website doesn't mention which region he's running from or anything about that region. It's district 5, Director Blanford's region (which I believe will be the most highly contested race).

What's on your mind?  

Letter from Superintendent Nyland:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Rich People; Could They Please Leave Public Ed Alone?

Forbes has just come out with its annual list of the wealthiest people in the world. 
It was a record year for the richest people on earth, as the number of billionaires jumped 13% to 2,043 from 1,810 last year, the first time ever that Forbes has pinned down more than 2,000 ten-figure-fortunes. Their total net worth rose by 18% to $7.67 trillion, also a record. The change in the number of billionaires -- up 233 since the 2016 list -- was the biggest in the 31 years that Forbes has been tracking billionaires globally. 

Bill Gates is the number one richest for the fourth year in a row, and the richest person in the world for 18 out of the past 23 years. He has a fortune of $86 billion, up from $75 billion last year. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos had the best year of any person on the planet, adding $27.6 billion to his fortune; now worth $72.8 billion, he moved into the top three in the world for the first time, up from number five a year ago.

The U.S. continues to have more billionaires than any other nation, with a record 565, up from 540 a year ago.
You can only cross your fingers that all the new U.S. billionaires don't get it into their heads to go the way of Gates in terms of his "helping" public education.  

NPR had a good piece on a new book on philanthropy, The Givers: Wealth, Power and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age by David Callahan.

Did You Get What You Hoped for Mother's Day?

From Liza Rankin at Soup for Teachers:

Friday, May 12, 2017

An 8-Year Old Committed Suicide over Bullying

Shocking.  Stunning.  Horrible.  From USA Today:

A security camera video taken inside a Cincinnati elementary school reveals that a student assaulted an 8-year-old boy in a restroom and other children may have kicked and struck the boy for 5 minutes while he lay unconscious.
 
Two days later, the child, Gabriel Taye, hanged himself.

You'd think that was the worst part but no, there's more:

Friday Open Thread

Congrats to Coe's Peter Fleisher who was picked for the AAA School Safety Patrol Hall of Fame this year.

From SPS Communications:
Advanced Learning Referral Window Open May 15 - Sept. 22, 2017
Advanced Learning referrals for the 2018-19 school year of students currently in kindergarten through 7 grade will be accepted online beginning Monday, May 15. 
Paper forms in nine languages will be available online and at schools.
Eligibility testing for the 2018-19 school year begins in September 2017.
Applications for students in grades 9 through 12 will be available in January 2018.
Complete information and referral forms can be found on our Advanced Learning webpage.

How Many Mayoral Candidates Will I Be Interviewing? Stay Tuned

Now we have Rep Jesslyn Farrell and former U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan running to take the place of current mayor Ed Murray.

I hope to interview all the major candidates (and that's a lot just in itself) about public education and Seattle.

What questions would you like me to ask?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bell Times/Transportation Update

I attended the Audit and Finance committee meeting this afternoon.  On the agenda was discussion around accepting funds from the City for the two-tiered transportation system.

Pegi McEvoy, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, reported that she had attended the Families and Education Levy committee yesterday.

She stated:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Discussion; How Far Should Santuary Go in SPS?

I'm asking this question just for discussion because there are several issues in this story that may come up at some point for SPS students.

Kent School District is not allowing any international trips for student groups over the worry that any undocumented students on such a trip might be held up at the border upon return.  I heard a report on this on KUOW yesterday and the Kent superintendent stated that they had heard - anecdotally from some undocumented students - that the students did have this fear.

On one side, it's a major disappointment for many students; the flip side is that it's a potentially life-changing issue for a few students. 

From the Seattle Times:

News for Parents of Special Education Students

Update:  The final Spec Ed PTSA meeting of the 2016-17 school year is coming up onTuesday, May 16 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the JSCEE

The meeting will feature guest speaker Cathy Murahashi, the Family Engagement Coordinator King County Parent and Family Coalition, from the Arc of King County, talking about parent advocacy. There will be Spec Ed Directors there to answer questions and address concerns, the SEAAC report and elections for the PTSA Board for next year. Also Wyeth Jessee, Chief of Student Supports, will be presenting briefly on the strategic plan for the District moving forward.

end of update

From the Seattle Special Education PTSA:

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Cedar Park Elementary Community Meetings


Are you looking for a lovely school for your kids to learn and grow?

Cedar Park Elementary is a new SPS option school opening this fall. Our Expeditionary Learning model uses big themes throughout the year to apply reading, writing and math to real world questions. All the academic rigour of Seattle Public School core curriculum paired with topical adventures that gets kids (and their adults) excited for learning.

Tuesday Open Thread

Ballard High School Viking RoboticsCongrats to Ballard High's Robotics team!   From GeekWire:

A robotics team from Seattle’s Ballard High School accomplished what no program from the Pacific Northwest has ever done. The Viking Robotics team took home the world championship at at FIRST Robotics competition last month in Houston.

The event April 20-22 featured approximately 400 teams, including groups from Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Israel and China, according to a news release.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Not Vaccinating Kids; Ignorance and Arrogance

We all knew this would happen with the amount of talk against vaccinations; here's real outbreak in Minnesota that was caused by aggressive anti-vaxxers on a community they knew would more susceptible to their influence.

Here's what happened via two stories in the Washington Post (red mine):

Thank a Teacher This Week

Image result for teacher appreciation week graphic

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Give BIG is Here Again

This Wednesday, May 10th, is the Seattle Foundation's Annual Give BIG day. 
GiveBIG Seattle is a one-day online giving event to raise funds for nonprofit organizations serving Greater Seattle.
Their theme this year is "Now More Than Ever." #GiveBIG  Donor FAQs  
GiveBIGSeattle.org
GiveBIG is the third largest Giving Day in the country.  It is a community-wide event supported by significant media and corporate partnerships.  It is our region’s most well-recognized and visible crowd-funding platform, with more than 1,600 nonprofits estimated to be participating.
One very big difference this year is that there is no "stretch pool."  Previously, there had been a matching "stretch pool" for all the organizations, depending on the number of donations.  That has been eliminated and organizations are being encourage to seek matching funds.  I think you would have to check with the orgs you wish to donate to and see if they did get a matching fund.

What is new?
Dollars for Change is a new donor-driven effort that will award more than $350,000 to participating King County nonprofits. Using a computer-generated selection process, donors will be chosen to have their contribution to an organization generously boosted with a $2,500 award. These Dollars for Change awards will be made to King County-based organizations across Seattle Foundation's Healthy Community framework and across budget size. Dollars for Change will benefit nonprofits of all sizes, but will place a greater emphasis on small- and mid-sized organizations. This structure aims to bring greater equity in the distribution of additional dollars. 
The participating organizations will be selected based on several criteria, including that they work within one of the eight elements of our Healthy Community Framework: basic needs, economic opportunity, health and wellness, education, environment, arts and culture, vibrant communities and global giving. Learn more about our Healthy Community Framework
Note that wording in bold as only King County nonprofits are eligible for the Dollars for Change.

Also, you can schedule your donation now if your week is a busy one.
Yes, donors will have the ability to make an online donation starting on April 27. To schedule a donation, a donor needs to create a simple account on GiveBIGSeattle.org. The donor will receive a confirmation email receipt upon submitting the form. The donation will not be processed until May 10. 

Really?

Apparently, some of you do not understand what I mean by name-calling especially as it pertains to children.  A few of you seem to play dumb as if you just don't know what I saying.  So here goes.

I think most of you know I mean no using curse words to describe students.

And not unkind/derogatory descriptors:

snowflake, anchor baby, heathens, spawn, brats

or sarcasm like:

precious, special, angel, etc.

You can easily use:

child(ren), students, scholars, kids, adolescents, juveniles, youth, preteen

Non-judgmental words.   We all love our children and should consider that feeling when speaking of others' children.

It's fine to say that you think some parents overprotect, overvalue or push their child's interests before others.  That's your opinion.

You can say that you believe some parents' actions underprotect, undervalue or show a lack of concern for others' children in this district.  That's your opinion.

But I think it should be clear why we will not abide name-calling, especially of children.  It's unkind, mean, immature and, most of all, not what you would want someone to say about your child.  If you do that, then save it for your friends or family or people you gossip with.

Not here.

Words have meaning.

News on Lincoln High from Director Burke

I'll just note that, at this point, it's not entirely clear who is the Lincoln community except for those who live close-by the school.

Good for Director Burke for being detail-oriented and keeping the community updated.

From Director Burke (bold mine):
Dear Lincoln Community,

Friday, May 05, 2017

Dandelion Dash at Capitol on May 10th

Dandelion Dash to Olympia on Wednesday, May 10th, is a grassroots event to raise awareness and rally in favor of amply funding public education for all children in Washington. 

Because members of the Washington State Legislature devoted a significant amount of time debating dandelions on the Capitol lawns in the last days of the 2017 legislative session, advocates of all ages will take advantage of the Seattle Public Schools early dismissal on May 10th to support Seattle Education Association and teachers from around the state, as they continue to Occupy Olympia, by making and displaying tissue paper dandelions and engaging in other advocacy and awareness activities that are supportive of the Washington State PTA legislative 
platform issue, "Amply Fund Basic Education" and similarly aligned platforms.

Seattle Public Schools Scholarship Fund Awards Ceremony

Wanted to give a big shout-out to these seniors and their benefactors; from SPS Communications (partial):

The community is invited to attend the Seattle Public Schools Scholarship Fund Awards Ceremony on May 11 at 7 p.m. in the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence Auditorium. 

At the awards event, 26 graduating seniors from each high school will be recognized for their personal tenacity, contribution to their community, and academic accomplishments.

Friday Open Thread

Update: One last piece of blog business - blanket accusations and statements must always have "in my opinion" with them or they will be deleted.  I need to find the statement made about Garfield teachers that was wrong and hurtful and delete it but that's a good example.  In that particular case, that was name-calling and would be deleted anyway.  You can have opinions; just make sure that you say that.

end of update

Let's just get some quick blog business out of the way first.  Do NOT name-call here.  Ever.  And especially don't even think of calling any child any name.  Any word that is pejorative to a child is strictly off-limits. You are adults, you know what I mean and you know better.  If you don't, this is not the blog for  you.

From Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page:

Cecelia Lehmann
#specialsession Day 12, a math lesson for you.
(98 House members +49 Senate members) * $120 per diem *12 days =$211,680


Tickets for the Seattle International Film Festival are now on sale.  I'll do a thorough review but here's an early one to put on the calendar.

That Should Do It

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

On Bell Times/Waitlists

Update:  I must have been tired when I posted this thread.  I did leave out another key testimony.
A parent of a Special Ed student explained how their initial assignment was to Olympic Hills which would be nearly an hour bus ride from their house.  Meanwhile, just blocks away was Thornton Creek which did have the type of class they needed.  To their joy, the waitlist moved and they were assigned to Thornton Creek.  What happened next was their child, and four others, were then "unenrolled" from TC and reassigned back to Olympic Hills.

Again, that kind of jerking of assignment - of what looks like someone changing their mind and NOT considering the real children that would live with that change - is the kind of trust-buster that hurts this district.

end of update

I'll be brief because I only watched the first hour of the Board meeting and did not wade thru the director comments.

On Bell Times
Superintendent Nyland started out thanking the City for the help in paying for a possible two-tier bus schedule.

But he said that staff had heard from multiple high schools (he did not specify if he meant parents or staff or both) but he said that Pegi McEvoy and Flip Herndon would be meeting with high school principals about alternatives.

He said they basically need roughly the same number of schools in each tier to make it work.

He also said they had heard from Tier 3 folks who were glad for two tiers but it seems jarring to go from three to one. 

He said the Board would review the options as the City Council proceeded with its own work on this issue.  This item will be introduced at the next board meeting and voted on at the meeting after that.

On Waitlists
Dr. Nyland had Flip Herndon and JoLynn Berge (Budget) come up to the mic during his comments.

Herndon gave a less-than-clear explanation.

He said there is a waitlist process that they go thru each year after Open Enrollment.

He said the factors they looked at were:

- capacity of buildings
- given staff allocation currently in building, can they move in additional students?
- "equitable" impacts on schools (it would seem that whenever staff wants to change policy, they can say "equity" and believe that negates any other argument)

He noted that the impacts were greater on elementaries because they tend to work in full FTEs.

Berge merely said that sending and receiving schools felt budget impacts by the choices that parents made.

The Board was asked if they had any questions and, to my surprise, no one did.

Public Testimony on Waitlists

Multiple Stevens' parents testified (and some kids) including their PTA president,  Jennie Peabody Rhoads.

I found their testimony compelling if only because it made sense in the context of the stated policy.

Stevens is underenrolled by 90 (!) students with a waitlist of 23.  There was a waitlist as long last year.  What makes the waitlists here particularly curious is because there are many sibs on it.

How can it be a school has room in the building and yet sibs can't even get in?

What I think may be happening in Stevens' case is that the district wants to shore up Lowell and Madrona at any cost. 

It was also pointed out that the enrollment policy seems to evolve as need be for staff.  It's inconsistent because it appears some schools that are underenrolled will move their waitlists. Why would some students get choice and not others at underenrolled schools?

A Stevens teacher, surrounded by other teachers, said that the PD at the beginning of the year was about relationships.  She then asked why some relationships with children would be torn apart because of these decisions.

Again, where is the sense in saying one thing and doing another?

What was depressing were the OTHER stories from different schools.

One Hamilton HCC parent said his son had been very excited to go onto the IB program at Ingraham. Except, wait, it seems that for at least a couple of years, the number of HCC students who can go to Ingraham will be capped.  Then, that cap will be lifted.  And for some reason, other waitlists are being mixed and matched but they will not be doing that for Ingraham for the next two years.

Another parent - from Dearborn Park - said they had the same issue with sibs being separated.  They will be losing two teaching positions and may have split grades.  Is that optimal for a dual-language program?  It's not.

Kellie LaRue, capacity guru, also testified, stating that the lack of transparency on this issue will erode trust.  She made a key point that the district and the Superintendent and Board should never forget - the money they have comes from enrollment.

As well, she said that protecting teachers at some schools will probably not pay off in the end.  The district has not reached its projected enrollment for the last couple of years.  If you have a process that hurts families, some of those families may make other choices.

And if they leave, their money leaves with them.  Then NO school in the district gets it.

If anyone watched the directors' comments on this topic, let us know.

But I think the message is loud and clear - be unfair and inconsistent and it may come back to hurt the district. 

Charter Schools News

The Washington State Charter Commission reports that they have received two completed applications for new charter schools in Washington State (I have not yet been able to confirm if Spokane School District, the only school district authorizer in the state, has received any applications.)

News Around Seattle Schools

Update: families from Stevens Elementary are planning to show up at the Board meeting in force to ask the district to release the waitlist on their school. They are underenrolled so they can accommodate new students (some of whom already have sibs there) and not lose a teacher because of...underenrollment.

end of updat

USA Today is reporting that Nathan Hale basketball coach, Nathan Roy, was shot in the leg while standing on the porch of his grandmother's house in L.A.  From KING-5:
He was shot while at an outdoor gathering in the Los Angeles area. Roy was reportedly an innocent bystander in what may be a gang related shooting.
There are still spots on the speakers list for the Board meeting tonight if you are so inclined and have an issue you'd like to raise to the Board. Most of the speakers appear to want to comment on waitlists. Also to note, the Board is scheduled to have an Executive Session right after the meeting. Initially it was about Complaints against a Public Employee, and to Evaluate the Performance of a Public Employee.  The session has since been expanded to include Potential Litigation.  

On Thursday morning, there will be an Executive Committee meeting.  Here's the agenda.  I see a number of interesting items.

1) Discussion with a labor partner: Local 609.  This is the union that represents custodians, kitchen staff, maintenance workers and others.  This is notable because it's not that often that you see open discussion with union reps. But I see from the minutes for last month's meeting that Director Harris made the suggestion to invite labor partners to the meetings to create better relationships.

2) Also on the agenda is the school calendar for next year.  You can see a draft of the complete calendar on page 10 of the agenda.  This is to be introduced at the May 17th Board meeting with approval at the June 7th meeting.

3) Executive Committee meetings are where you can preview agendas for the next two School Board meetings.  Of interest for the May 17th meeting is the acceptance of grants from two PTAs for playground improvements at Madrona and Highland Park.  A big thanks to those two schools' PTAs and other groups that helped with those projects.

There is also a notation about "modernizing" Lincoln for its reopening.  There is no documentation attached but it will be something to monitor to see exactly what updates will be happening there.

There is also an Introduction item for Ethnic Studies. It is unclear whether this means something aspirational or an actual move to create a curriculum and put it in schools.

This meeting also has the Introduction of the grants from the City to fund crossing guards and the two-tier bus system.  

Also at the Executive Committee meeting is the preliminary agenda for the next Board retreat on June 3rd.  (See page 19 of the agenda.)  There are several ideas on racial equity training that include:

Options include:

- Identity Safety Training (similar to April presentation to principals)
Kyle Kinoshita on stereotype threat, Since Time Immemorial curriculum review, Dr. Stephanie Fryberg from UW 


- Increasing equity in HCC, with potential guest speaker Austina De Bonte from NW Gifted Child Association 


- Review of programs that move the needle on equity 



Also in the agenda packet for the Executive Committee meeting is a memo about staff wanting to change the scheduling for committee meetings (see page 20).  The issue?

The current rhythm of the Board meeting calendar does not lead to the most efficient flow of action items through the Board, because the meeting order for a month varies depending on length of the month, the day of the week the month starts on, and holiday breaks. In some cases, staff have to wait 5-6 weeks for items to make it from committee to Board action; at other times, it can be as short as 3 weeks. This inconsistency causes trouble for staff in planning, varying levels of review time for the Board, and slows down the flow of Board business. Staff have been exploring alternative options for the meeting structure and rhythm of Board meetings for the 2017-18 school year.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Thank You, Teachers

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week(s), a video montage of tv and movie teachers in films that many of us enjoyed.

What is a wonderful thing is how many actors - both stage and screen - and singers, when accepting an award for their work, thank their music or drama teacher for believing in them all those years ago.  It says something about the power of teaching and the inspiration therein.

And sometimes it's not even the teachers you love but the ones who pushed you (even when you didn't want to be pushed).

I volunteer just a short amount of time each week in a classroom and I am in awe of the teacher I work with.  It is so tiring and worrying and stressful and yes, wonderful, to know and try to help these students.  And she does it every day, all day.

I want to thank my second grade teacher, Mrs. Gates, my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Springer, my sixth grade PE teacher, Mrs. Banky, my high school civics teacher, Mr. Huddleston, and my high school band teacher, Mr. Brendon.   Your work is not forgotten.

Tuesday Open Thread

Facebook in Australia seems have gotten caught trying to collect data on kids' emotional states to fuel advertising.  It does not seem a surprise but it is one more example of the vast collection of data on kids.
Mining Facebook for young people and children's negative emotions including "stressed," "defeated," "overwhelmed," and "useless" seems contrary to the ethical standards the Code's authors, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA), champions.
A horrific story from the AP on a sexual assault at school that escalated from bullying and teasing to sexual assault.  A cautionary tale about the consequences of not nipping bad social behaviors from the start.
Relying on state education records, supplemented by federal crime data, a yearlong investigation by The Associated Press uncovered roughly 17,000 official reports of sex assaults by students over a four-year period, from fall 2011 to spring 2015.

“Schools are required to keep students safe,” said Charol Shakeshaft, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor who specializes in school sexual misconduct. “It is part of their mission. It is part of their legal responsibility. It isn’t happening. Why don’t we know more about it, and why isn’t it being stopped?” 

Elementary and secondary schools have no national requirement to track or disclose sexual violence, and they feel tremendous pressure to hide it. Even under varying state laws, acknowledging an incident can trigger liabilities and requirements to act.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article147796139.html#storylink=cpy
The district has a great story about the visit of civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, to Seattle and his book, March.
The donation originated from SAM supporter and Seattle attorney, Mathew Bergman, who provided 3000 copies of the March trilogy plus tickets to see its authors at a sold-out SAM event held in Benaroya Hall. Of the 3000 copies, 1800 will be used in schools while the remaining 1200, plus tickets to the Benaroya Hall event, were offered to students of Cleveland, Franklin, Garfield, and Rainier Beach, high schools with which Bergman had connections to in the past. 
A big thank-you to Mr. Bergman for his efforts and generous donation.

What's on your mind?

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article147796139.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article147796139.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, May 01, 2017

Enrollment Updates

Many, many of you - both here and at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page - have expressed concerns over the enrollment trends for next year.

It appears that 10+ schools that have been underenrolled, will continue to be underenrolled and will lose staff over that fact, also have waitlists.  That does seem odd unless the goal is to force people to go to their neighborhood schools.  But if a school has been underenrolled, doesn't it help to have it fully enrolled even if it's with people not in that neighborhood? 

I wrote to the Board about this and heard back from Director Rick Burke:
Enrollment. I share many of the community's concerns. Staff is taking a deeper look at waitlists today and has been asked to provide updates and supporting data this week. I expect it to be a topic of discussion at Wed Board meeting.
Also, reader Just FYI reports that there are updated waitlist numbers put up this morning.


I checked out the waitlist and found some interesting trends.


- popular programs like dual-language at Beacon Hill/JSIS/McDonald as well as Montessori at Daniel Bagley have significant kindergarten waitlists (interestingly, Graham Hill's Montessori program only has one student on the waitlist)

- Ballard/Hale/Chief Sealth have modest waitlists, there are large GenEd waitlists at Garfield, Franklin, Roosevelt, at 68, 50 and 69, respectively at 9th grade Gen Ed.  Ingraham has large waitlists for GenEd and HCC: 26 and 44 students for the 9th grade.  West Seattle High has 22 students on its 9th grade waitlist.  Sealth and Rainier Beach have virtually no waitlists. 

- Center School has a 9th grade waitlist of 8 students for 9th grade. 

- Hazel Wolf has an astonishing 90 students on its kindergarten waitlist and 53 for first grade with 55 for 6th grade.  Pathfinder has 35 students on its kindergarten waitlist. Salmon Bay has a waitlist in several grades (interestingly, a large one for 3rd grade).  South Shore K-8 also has small waitlists in nearly every grade. STEM K-8 has large waitlist at most grades, with 57 students for kindergarten.  Thornton Creek also has a large kindergarten waitlist.  Jane Addams has a 6th grade waitlist of 25.

- New Schools - Cedar Park has very small waitlists, RESMS has its largest waitlist (13) at 6th grade.  Meany has no waitlist.

- Thurgood Marshall has a waitlist of 26 for General Ed and 1 for HCC in kindergarten.  Cascadia has no waitlist for kindergarten and small waitlists for a couple of other grades.

- Nothing too dramatic in middle school except Whitman has 26 on the list for 7th grade and 25 for 8th grade.  The exception is Mercer with 35 for 6th grade.

OSPI Looking for Input on Special Ed Manual

OSPI has a short survey for feedback on their Special Education Manual.

In Advance of May Day Protests

From SPS Communications via Twitter:

Monday PM activities that req transportation are cancelled at Gatzert, T. Marshall, McClure, and Wash MS in anticipation of May Day protests.