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.