Sunday, February 26, 2017

Charters Schools: Starting a Downward Trend

Watching the charter school movement in the U.S. has certainly been both intriguing and discouraging.

I don't think anyone could have been against charters as they were originated - one or two classrooms in an existing school that were little hotbeds of innovation.  Successes would be sent out to other classrooms and schools and failures duly noted with lessons learned.

But that is not how it has played out.  What is the honest truth about charter schools looks like this:
  • Most of them perform about the same as any given public school, meaning, no better/no worse.
  • The top ones perform very well especially with at-risk kids.  However, some of that performance comes at a cost.  One issue is schools like KIPP are very segregated and use strict discipline (to the point where kids walk in a line from class to class with no talking...ever).  Another issue with high-performing charter schools is the issue of transportation.  Some are able - at a very high cost - to provide transportation but those that don't then find their population skewed to those who can get transportation to the school.  I recall from my visit to Preuss High in San Diego - a top charter school in the country - that they were open to students across San Diego and the costs of transport were becoming a problem.
  • The terrible charters tend to be the ones who close up shop in the middle of the night, leaving parents and districts scrambling.  There continues to be a charter school scandal over money nearly every week (I can say that with confidence because the Network for Public Education is documenting this).  
Despite their growth, charter schools still only serve about 6% of the nation's children.  California, which has the largest number of charter school students, is at about 8% while Washington, D.C. has the largest percentage of charter school students at 42%.

Interesting stats from the National Center for Education Statistics:
Between school years 2003–04 and 2013–14, charter schools experienced changes in their demographic composition similar to those seen at traditional public schools. The percentage of charter school students who were Hispanic increased (from 21 to 30 percent), as did the percentage who were Asian/Pacific Islander (from 3 to 4 percent).
In contrast, the percentage of charter school students who were White decreased from 42 to 35 percent. The percentages decreased for Black (from 32 to 27 percent) and American Indian/Alaska Native (from 2 to 1 percent) charter school students, as well. Data were collected for charter school students of Two or more races beginning in 2009–10. Students of Two or more races accounted for 3 percent of the charter school population in 2013–14. 
Let's look at what the Center on Reinventing Public Education said recently about charter school growth.
A recently released annual update from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools included a surprising fact: a mere 329 charter schools opened across the country in the 2016-2017 school year. In no year since the Alliance began tracking new charter openings has the total number of new schools been so low. Looking back at CRPE’s Hopes, Fears, and Reality series, it appears that it was the early 2000s when we last saw fewer than 350 new charter schools open. When you take closures into consideration, the total additional growth of charter schools last year was just over 100 schools, or nearly 2 percent.
Student enrollment numbers tell a different story. Total charter student enrollment surpassed 3 million this year, a 7 percent increase over last year. This likely reflects existing schools’ addition of grade levels and approach to full capacity.
More aggressive closures don’t explain the slow down. The number of charter school closures over the last five years has held pretty steady. Last spring's number of closures (202) is actually lower than the previous year's high-water mark of 257. 




Saturday, February 25, 2017

Seattle Schools Update

A couple of items of importance have come up on the district's website as well as the agenda for Wednesday night's Board meeting.

Parents and community members have a week to apply to be on the High School Boundary Task Force.  
Seattle Public Schools is seeking a diverse group of community members to serve on the High School Boundary Task Force, whose purpose is to examine and prepare a set of recommendations regarding Seattle Public Schools high school capacity management and boundary issues.  

The report will include an examination of major capital projects that are affecting high school buildings; an exploration of past, current and possible future high school boundaries.
Open the High School Boundary Task Force Application for family and community membersPDF icon.
Please complete and submit the application by March 3. Applicants will be notified by email, if possible, or by phone by March 10, 2017. 

Please visit our task force webpage for more information.
The district is also holding a meeting for parents of students who may fall into the boundaries of the reopening of Magnolia Elementary School.
An attendance area will have to be established for Magnolia Elementary School to assign students to the new school. This means that the existing boundaries for Catherine Blaine, Coe and Lawton will likely be changed.

Please join SPS Enrollment Planning and the principals of Catherine Blaine, Coe, and Lawton at the upcoming community meeting to learn more about boundary changes and share feedback with district staff. Interpreters will be available.

Magnolia Elementary Community Meetings
Monday, March 13, 2017, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Catharine Blaine K-8, 2550 34th Ave W, Seattle
The Board meets this Wednesday, March 1st, starting at 4:15 pm for its regularly scheduled board meeting Agenda

Highlights:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Open Thread

The U.S. Supreme Court decided this week to hear the case of a student who receives Special Education services to sue for services his parents say he did not receive.  Background here. Basically,
What is the level of educational benefit that school districts must confer on children with disabilities to provide them with the free appropriate public education guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
From local Sped advocate, Mary Kohli Griffin on the case:
It allows the family of a student with a disability to pursue a suit for money damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act when the school districts actions constitute discrimination against the student with a disability and the nature of the suit is not a complaint about the denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education.
Heads up for a great music opportunity, a free summer jazz music camp.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Advanced Learning in Seattle Schools, Part Two

In this thread I want to cover:my thoughts on what I believe AL is to become (and why).

Part Three will cover:
- the Advanced Learning Work Session on Feb. 8th
- the UW Equity Summit on Gifted Education, Feb. 9-10

Here's my groundwork on this topic (and you probably have heard me say this before):

Seattle Schools Open Enrollment Ends Tomorrow

Friday, February 24th is the last day for Open Enrollment.

SPS sent out this tweet today which came as a surprise to me but perhaps I just missed reading this (bold mine):
Open Enrollment ends Fri., Feb. 24, 2017. Forms submitted after Feb. 24 do not receive tiebreaker priorities.
 Upcoming key dates
  • Mon., Apr. 17, 2017: Updated Next Year Assignment Information Available Online
  • Wed., May 31, 2017: School Choice for 2017-18 Ends
  • Thurs., Aug. 31, 2017: Waitlists Dissolve

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Legislative Items of Note

One bill is in Congress and one is in the Legislature.

Genealogy Event at Seattle Public Library

Seattle Public Library is having an genealogy event this Saturday for African-American families at the downtown central library from 1-3 pm.  The event is free and will be a podcast later on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Schools reports on a recent professional development day for substitute teacher around culturally responsive teaching.

From NPR, Will Algorithms Erode Our Decision-Making Skills? Something to consider for you and especially, your children.

Sure, such computer code aims to make our lives easier, but experts cited in a new report by Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center are worried that algorithms may also make us lose our ability to make decisions. After all, if the software can do it for us, why should we bother? 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Commenting on the Blog

Dear Readers,

I had mentioned previously that I am very frustrated with this district but that's actually a different issue than what I am bringing up here.

I find it difficult to moderate lately and therein lies the frustration.

Charlie and I have basic guidelines on comments but we try to use our best judgment on what stays and what goes.  It's not easy because:

In Honor of Presidents Day - Thanks, President Jefferson

From Great Big Story:
Founding father, co-author of the Declaration of Independence, third president of the United States. All great achievements. 

But, we should also recognize Thomas Jefferson for bringing macaroni and cheese into our lives. The creamy combo made its way to the U.S. courtesy of Jefferson, who, while visiting France, became enamored of fashionable pasta dishes there. 

Yum! Thanks TJ.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Seventy-Five Years Ago Today; A Day That Also Should Live in Infamy

From Sol's Civic Minute:
Today is the 75th anniversary of the executive order that President Franklin Roosevelt signed three months after Pearl Harbor creating a system of internment camps to which Japanese Americans were sent.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Netflix Allows Classroom Access to 13th

Thanks to Soup for Teachers for this heads up.  From Variety:
Netflix has granted public screening access to Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” for classrooms, community groups, book clubs, and other educational settings.

The streaming service said Tuesday that there has been a groundswell of interest from elementary school, universities, another other educational institutions asking for permission to screen the film. “13th” — which takes its title from the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery — explores the link between slavery and the modern-day prison system.

“13th” is competing for the best feature documentary Academy Award against “Fire at Sea,” “O.J.: Made in America,” “Life, Animated,” and “I Am Not Your Negro.”

Lincoln High Open Thread

Wanted to throw this up for anyone who attended Director Burke's meeting Friday evening to discuss the reopening of Lincoln High School.   Please weigh in if you attended.

DeVos - Not Off to a Good Start

As you may recall, Secretary of Ed Betsy DeVos, went to a traditional D.C. middle school.  There were a few protestors that apparently so intimidated her that she and her handlers left and then went in a different door.

She visited one classroom and then made a comment about the teachers there being "in a receive mode."  She went on:

“They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child,” DeVos said. “You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”

As you can imagine, that "waiting to be told" remark didn't go over well with teachers who are doing tremendous things.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Washington State Charter Law Upheld

Update: the Times has an article on this ruling.  Here's part of my comment in response to something from the Washington State Charter Schools Association:
"Charter public schools have been given a stamp of approval from Washington voters, the state Legislature, and now the state’s judicial system,” he said in a prepared statement. "
This is a factually untrue statement (prepared or not). Why? Because the courts only rule on constitutional issues and, in fact, both the WA Supreme Court AND the King County Superior Court rulings both said that neither case was about whether charters work or are good or bad.

They ruled that the law was constitutional. That's it and Mr. Franta knows it. To say that there is some "stamp of approval" by the courts undermines our judicial system. Maybe Mr. Franta is taking his cue from the Trump administration.

End of update

Judge John Chun of King County Superior Court today ruled in favor of the defendants in upholding the current charter law.

I will say in reading the ruling, I see many places where the judge further validates other rulings and leaves the door wide open for other lawsuits (which I predict will come to pass.)

It's a big win for charter supporters but I don't think it now leaves anyone in a relaxed place.  Or rather, no one should take this ruling to be the end.

Gates' Annual Letter To Buffet Doesn't Mention Education Efforts

For the second year in a row, Bill and Melinda Gates' letter to Warren Buffett on his donation to their foundation doesn't mention what any of their policy and advocacy work in public education.   From fellow public education activist, Leonie Haimson:
..whether related to funding and promoting the Common Core, test-based teacher evaluation, charter schools,  online learning, or data-mining students' personal information. 

Perhaps that's because these policies have failed to improve student outcomes and instead have provoked real anger and resistance among parents and teachers nationwide.
Not one single word.

Friday Open Thread

Apparently this is the number one question that kids ask astronauts.  Science finds a way.

Fifth grade basketball teammates ban together; show your kids and ask what they would do.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cedar Park Elementary Tour Tonight

Didn't see this on the SPS calendar before so sorry for the late notice.

6-7:30 pm
Cedar Park Elementary 13224 37th Ave. NE

Visit our (maybe your) school set to open in the fall for next school year.  We'll show you around and give you an idea of the what it would be like for your son or daughter to come here.

Cedar Park is what's called an "option school." This means anyone in the Seattle School district is eligible to attend. Submit a "school choice" form (available on Feb. 6) during the open enrollment period that runs Feb. 13 - 24.

A Day Without Immigrants

Today is a “Day Without Immigrants” with protests around the country.

LiveWire Event on Washington State Public School Funding

Want to talk about the costs of NOT fully-funding schools?  Here you go.

Boy, I hope they invite some legislators.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Over 10 Million Pages Viewed

From our blog stats (and I missed the tick of the dial but still good news):

Pageviews all time history       10,006,800

Lt Governor Spearheads Effort to Cover AP Test Costs

From the office of Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib (partial):
Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib today announced that his office will be leading a coalition that includes Washington businesses, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and education nonprofit the College Success Foundation to raise $800,000 to help the state cover the cost of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exam fees, which range from $53 to $116 per test, for low-income students in Washington state.  The timeline to raise the funding is extremely short, given the March 7 deadline for students to sign up for AP exams.

Should Schools Get back to our "Historic Judeo-Christian Principles?"

Update from USA Today:
Two congressional lawmakers are asking the Trump administration to restore a missing U.S. government website that helps families navigate a complex federal law on students with disabilities. They also want U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ assurance that the site won’t be stripped down during her tenure.

Education advocates late last month noticed that the site, idea.ed.gov, had been shut down. It has since reappeared, but in the past few days it has linked to a generic page offering information about the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

But the hearing unleashed concerns from special education groups — in a Jan. 26 letter to lawmakers, Denise Marshall, executive director of The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc., an advocacy group, said DeVos “manifested an appalling lack of knowledge of educational concepts, the difference between the federal and state statutes that govern education, and basic facts about public education. Specifically, her lack of knowledge of the IDEA is disturbing and offensive to us.”

Marshall said DeVos’ stance, whether due to confusion or ideological belief, “is unacceptable and clearly indicates that Ms. DeVos is unqualified to serve as Secretary of Education.”
end of update

No, no and no.

From the Washington Post, Influential conservative group: Trump, DeVos should dismantle Education Department and bring God into classrooms
A policy manifesto from an influential conservative group with ties to the Trump administration, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, urges dismantling the Education Department and bringing God into American classrooms.

The five-page document produced by the Council for National Policy calls for a “restoration of education in America” that would minimize the federal role, promote religious schools and homeschooling and enshrine “historic Judeo-Christian principles” as a basis for instruction. 

Names of the council’s members are closely held. But the Southern Poverty Law Center published a 2014 membership directory showing that Stephen K. Bannon — now chief White House strategist for President Trump — was a member and that Kellyanne Conway — now counselor to the president — served on the council’s executive committee.

Ask the Governor

I'll give the latest on McCleary (and it's not good) but I make a plea for something you CAN do today.

Tomorrow afternoon, KCTS will be videotaping their program, Ask the Governor.  I suggest that parents tsunami KCTS with questions about McCleary.

I have been very proud of the Governor's recent remarks in staring down Trump's immigration policies.

I would like to see the Governor do the same to the Legislature on McCleary. 
On Feb. 16, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. KCTS 9's Enrique Cerna will sit down with Governor Jay Inslee in a Facebook Live interview to talk about the pressing issues facing Washington State, such as Washington State's future under President Trump, as well as take submitted questions. Watch the interview here, or on the KCTS 9 Facebook page.

Submit a question by posting on our Facebook, tweeting @KCTS9 with #AsktheGov or clicking on the link below.
Here's one question you can ask but certainly, feel free to craft your own.
"Governor, you have recently been a shining voice against the Trump administration's immigration policies.  And thank you for your bold proposal on fully-funding our public schools with new revenue.  That's real leadership.  But what exactly are you doing to make sure that your public education funding proposal becomes part of the state budget?" 
On McCleary and the work being done in the Legislature:

Want the Official Trump Portrait in Your Child's School?

Apparently some schools/districts across the nation put up the official portrait of the current president.  Here's Trump's original one (now being fixed). 

Speaks volumes about current administration including Betsy DeVos who has her own English language issues (see Twitter).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gifted Education, Part One

(You didn't think I'd be able to say everything in one post, did you?  Part Two will have me talking about what I hear and saw at various events and what direction I think the district will take.)

As I gather up my thoughts from the Work Session on Advanced Learning,the two-day Equity and Gifted Education Summit at UW and more reading/research, I come away with three main thoughts.

Spring Break Theater Camp

Image may contain: one or more people, closeup and text

Tuesday Open Thread

Happy Valentine's Day.

I have a happy memory of Valentine's Day in the first grade. We each cut out two big valentine hearts from pink and red construction paper, stapled them together along the straight edges to make heart-shaped pockets, and taped them to our desks as "mail boxes". Then the class walked up and down the rows of desks dropping off a valentine's card at every desk. When you got back to your desk you had a card from everyone else in the class.

What are you musing about today?

Monday, February 13, 2017

District News Roundup

- Dr. Nyland announced last week the new principal for Decatur HCC.  (Apparently, this is will happen before the end of the school year.)

I am writing to let you know that Principal Rina Geoghagan has been selected to become the principal of Decatur Elementary School. 

Ms. Geoghagan brings experience and extensive knowledge of the HCC program and the Cascadia community. She was instrumental in the original move of the APP/HCC program from Lowell Elementary to Lincoln High School, has served as the design principal for the new Cascadia site, and has demonstrated strong leadership during the conversations and decisions regarding Cascadia and Decatur.  We are excited that she will be able to bring this expertise and passion to serving the Decatur community.

We are looking at finding an interim principal to support Cascadia during the final months of the current school year.  Executive Director of Schools, Jon Halfaker will be meeting with the Cascadia Building Leadership Team prior to Mid-Winter Break to share updates and next steps.

- Garfield appears to be moving to cap the number of AP classes a student can take in a year. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Where's the Money (for fully-funded schools)?

A year ago Teacher Retention Advocate Parents (TRAP)  hosted a coloring contest to draw attention to Washington State’s criminally under-funded public schools.

Today, TRAP is back – because the Legislature STILL can’t find the money. Let’s help them out with a word search.


Tax_The_Rich

Friday, February 10, 2017

That Was Short

It appears my hiatus is coming to an end.

It's kind of Godfather-like - I keep trying to do less but I keep getting pulled back in.

But there are too many stories popping up.

Friday Open Thread for February 10, 2017

Look! It's Friday again! Another open thread.

Betsy DeVos was turned away from a visit to public school in Washington, D.C. but managed to visit the school today. She also asked Twitter where to find the pencils at the end of her first day on the job. That didn't go well.

The debate continues to rage in Olympia over school funding. This is the exact same debate that the legislature should have had five years ago. Some people only work when they are under the whip. I don't think those are the people you want to hire for important roles like state legislator.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Seattle Schools High School Discussion

Brian's Duncan's post about the Summary notes of last week's High School and Ed Funding Panel Discussion at Ballard High School are now up on BHS PTSA webpage.

Latest updates on SPS budget cuts for levy cliff, broader ed funding, coming high school schedule/programming credit changes, Lincoln HS, CTE program from panelist from SPS, legislature, PTA, and Principals.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate as the next Secretary of Education. The 50-50 tie vote was decided by Vice President Mike Pence.

What else is going horribly wrong?

Friday, February 03, 2017

Friday Open Thread

It's been a busy week. We're looking ahead to a lot of education news at the federal level and the state level. What has your attention?