Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Open Thread

 Dr. Nyland speaks out about the Florida high school massacre (partial):
As a district, our goal is to prevent these types of emergencies whenever possible and be prepared to respond effectively if an emergency should happen. Our educators increase safety by knowing their students by story, strength and need. We use social and emotional learning strategies to help students cope with stress and trauma to prevent harm to themselves or others. 

Each school – with our district and city emergency responders – develop a safety plan responsive to its layout and design. Controlling access to our students is part of that plan. Students and staff practice drills so if the unthinkable happens, they know how to respond. We always encourage students to report any threat or safety concern to a trusted adult – including families, staff, 911 or the district Safe Schools Hotline at 206-252-0510. 

We know students will likely want to talk about this, particularly because of the amount of information they see on social media and the news. As always, repeated exposure to traumatic images should be minimized. Our schools will be monitoring student reactions and support students who need additional supports.
Resources that are helpful in discussing troubling events with children:
From the News You can Use department, this from the Future Privacy Forum:

New US Dept of Ed Finding: Schools Cannot Require Parents or Students to Waive Their FERPA Rights Through Ed Tech Company’s Terms of Service

Policymakers, parents, and privacy advocates have long asked whether FERPA is up to the task of protecting student privacy in the 21st century. A just-released letter regarding the Agora Cyber Charter School might signal that a FERPA compliance crack-down – frequently mentioned as their next step after providing extensive guidance by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) employees at conferences throughout 2017 – has begun. The Agora letter provides crucial guidance to schools – both K-12 and Higher Ed – and ed tech companies about how USED interprets FERPA’s requirements regarding parental consent and ed tech products’ terms of service, and it may predict USED’s enforcement priorities going forward.
According to USED, the Terms of Use allowed “near universal use and distribution by K12 and various third party affiliates and licensees of information that could have constituted her child’s PII from education records,” an outcome that constituted an unlawful “forfeiture of [the parent’s] rights under FERPA to protect against the unauthorized disclosure of PII from her child’s education records.” Because the Terms of Use would have allowed K12 to freely re-disclose FERPA-protected information without consent (including, as stated in the letter, to “future employers of the student”), the Terms of Use constituted a waiver of FERPA rights. And because the child could not enroll at Agora without the parent agreeing to the Terms of Use, USED found that Agora violated FERPA.

According to USED, the Terms of Use allowed “near universal use and distribution by K12 and various third party affiliates and licensees of information that could have constituted her child’s PII from education records,” an outcome that constituted an unlawful “forfeiture of [the parent’s] rights under FERPA to protect against the unauthorized disclosure of PII from her child’s education records.” Because the Terms of Use would have allowed K12 to freely re-disclose FERPA-protected information without consent (including, as stated in the letter, to “future employers of the student”), the Terms of Use constituted a waiver of FERPA rights. And because the child could not enroll at Agora without the parent agreeing to the Terms of Use, USED found that Agora violated FERPA.
A couple of great learning opportunity stories in our district; one is from Chief Sealth High School and Concord Elementary and the other from McGilvra Elementary.  

Director Burke's community meeting for tomorrow has been CANCELLED.  However, President Harris' community meeting from 3-5 pm at the High Point Branch Library is still on.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

“We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults.”

Second update: a link to the 14 students and three staffers who were killed.  Open the link and look at their faces; next time, it could be your child.  There is NO safe place left in this country.

From an excellent article in the New Yorker:
The gun lobby, and the Republican Party it controls, have accepted as a matter of necessity the ongoing deaths of hundreds of children as the price that they are prepared to pay for the fetishization of weapons. The claim of this lobby’s complicity in murder is not exaggerated or hysterical but, by now, quite simple and precise: when you refuse to act to stop a social catastrophe from happening, you are responsible for the consequences of the social catastrophe.
Do something today.  Tell your family and friends on Facebook. Stand up and be counted.

 Tell your state and national elected officials; no more.

Most of all - do you remember high school?  Consider that those students killed might have been the person another student was sweet on.  What a crashing end to a first crush.  What will Valentine's Day mean to their families - a new Valentine's Day Massacre?  Probably.

Don't let this be your child.  And most of all, every - single - time you leave your child, say "I love you." 

end of update

Updating the Parkland, Florida story

Seventeen (17 !) people dead.  At least two are staff who stood between kids and the gunman.  As in all the other school shootings, not a single staff person ran to save themselves.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Another School Shooting (That's 28 so far this year)

Yet ANOTHER school shooting, this time at a Florida high school.  There were at least 20 people shot but they have not yet said how many died. 

On this point, we live in an insane country.  It IS not worth the fear, pain and death that having easy access to guns allows. 

One thing I think that should happen is this (because money is the one thing that gets people's attention).   I think that for accidental shootings that cause injury where the gun is not stolen, the homeowner will be held responsible.  It is every gun owner's responsibility to know where their guns are at ALL times.

Fine those crimes, say, $25K and you'll see people snap to.

For crimes that not accidental, then the fine goes waaay up. 

You can have your guns but you will be held responsible for what happens in their use. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

This and That

It appears that the district will be granting a leave of absence to Lowell principal, Colleen Stump, as soon as this Friday.  No word on her replacement.

No sure if the district's Science Department is really hearing what parents and teachers are saying but here's what I'm hearing about the new changes for high school science.

The new 9th grade “PhysA PS / ChemA PS“ course codes that were given to the registrars at most high schools are the course codes of the Physics and Chemistry courses that, up until now, have been offered to juniors and seniors who have fulfilled math prerequisites, and are crucial for admission to some colleges.

Meaning, that colleges may end up confused about what courses students have taken.
Registrars were given this note:
NOTE – Since these courses are existing courses, they will see outdated Descriptions when they participate in the PowerSchool Online Course Request this spring. To not impact current student transcripts, the changes will take place over the summer & schedules will reflect new names when PS is available in the fall.
It looks like parents of incoming 9th graders will see their student sign up for a course - based on the description in the course catalog that has been there for years - and their student will get something different in the fall.

Why all the subterfuge?

Also in science news, Trump was going to pretty much slash and burn many federal departments that support scientific endeavors including public education and then, at the 11th hour, those cuts were pulled back.

There's a great article from NPR on the science of learning to read.
Success in reading depends on linking print to speech. There's a massive amount of behavioral research, neuroimaging research, on brain organization and brain development, which conclusively shows that skilled reading is associated with children's spoken language, grammar and the vocabulary they already know. It's about teaching kids the correspondence between the letters on a page and the sounds of words.
What also caught my eye was this:
One interesting recommendation you offer is that college graduates who sign up for Teach for America be hired not as classroom teachers but as an army of reading tutors.

Yes. They could be trained to provide supplemental reading instruction, one-on-one or in small groups. That's what wealthy people do. They pay for tutors. Poor people can't.
So I would say yeah, put more people in the classroom or after-school programs who focus on reading and language. This would be helpful.
First, amen to that on two counts.  We definitely need kids in early grades to have more one-on-one time with tutors.  And the point about better-off parents being able to afford tutors rang true to me after hearing a discussion at the Crosscut Festival a few weeks ago about public education.

I'll have to write a separate thread on the discussion (and the odd moderating) but on the point of tutors, former Washington State Teacher of the Year, Lyon Terry, talked about opportunity gaps.  He mentioned how at his school in Magnolia, there were six students in his class who had tutors outside of class and how he wished all his students had that.  He spoke of these kids of privilege and that it was an equity issue. 

And holy Toledo!  The vaccination rates in Oregon charter schools and traditional schools is frightening.  If they get an outbreak of measles, it will spread like wildfire.   Some charters have up to 65% of their students not being vaccinated.
An analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive shows that nearly 65 percent of the state's public charter schools lack what scientists call herd immunity against measles, meaning not enough children are immunized to prevent the disease from sweeping through their immediate community.

A much smaller percentage of traditional public schools fall into the same category, but they have more students, so the potential exposure is greater.
Oregon historically has had among the lowest overall vaccination rates in the country.

Tuesday Open Thread

Despite overflowing speaker lists at the last several Board meetings, this list for tomorrow night's meeting isn't even full.

I see that former Mayor/City Council member Tim Burgess is already stumping for the City's pre-K levy.   He does leave out several things like how the City is much less a good partner to the district than the district is to the City.  I'll have a separate thread on this but I hope this Board tell the City some things need to be clarified and/or changed for this "partnership."

And, everyone on the City Council as well as Mayor Durkan need to publicly state their views on charter schools.

There will be a protest Thursday, Feb. 15th from 4-6 pm outside of the site of a new high school that Green Dot Charter Schools is building at 6002 Rainier Ave. S.  It is hosted by the Social Equity Educators and endorsed by SEA.   As I mentioned previously, Green Dot has backed off its attempt at a zoning departure after it was revealed that there was not a legal basis to do so and that the City had not included the district on the zoning departure committee as the code requires.  The school will have a small capacity than Green Dot had wanted. 

Numerous communities have levies on their local ballots today.  It will be interesting to see how well these elections go given the changes coming to property taxes to pay for McCleary funding.

An interesting story from the University of Washington about the use of touchscreens and accessibility for those with disabilities. 

New Zealand has decided to pull the plug on charter schools in that country.
"Both National Standards and charter schools were driven by ideology rather than evidence. Both were rejected by the vast majority of the education sector. The Government's strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system."
An amusing story about teens in Kansas running for office (and the adults who want them to stop).
In a state where the youth voting rate is even worse than the dismal national average, more than half a dozen Kansas teens are running for statewide office in 2018 – a sort of viral movement against apathy that could, in theory, make a high school student governor.

From there, running for governor became something of a high school trend. Four candidates, all 16 or 17, held a forum inside the Lawrence Free State high school gym in October – long before any of their adult counterparts held a debate, the Wichita Eagle wrote.

The forum looked not much different from any other, the newspaper reported. Teens in the audience murmured when a 17-year-old libertarian candidate got a jab in at Ruzich during a debate about toll roads. “You don’t drive yet,” he quipped.
What's on your mind?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Salmon Bay K-8 Film Series

PIE (Parent Information Exchange) Presents: Film Series 2018

Our Public Schools: Promises and Threats In The 21st Century

The series will be at Salmon Bay School, 1810 NW 65th Street at 7 pm.
Films will be shown at 7:00 PM on: 

Feb. 13   /  Feb. 28
Mar. 7  /  Mar. 13

 Film #1
Backpack Full Of Cash
TUESDAY, FEB. 13, 2018,  7:00 PM

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Seattle Schools This Week - Feb. 12-17, 2018

 I'm sure you received notification but the bus drivers' strike has ended and bus service will resume tomorrow morning.

Monday, Feb. 12th
Board Work Session on the Superintendent Search, JSCEE 8-10 am.

Tuesday, Feb. 13th
Board meeting.  Agenda

I note that the Board has chosen to move the meeting from its regular Wednesday date to Tuesday; I believe that is because of Valentines Day.  I applaud their kindness to staff and public alike.

The meeting should be short as there are only Intro items and no Action items.   As well, there is an Executive Session (on "potential litigation") directly after the meeting so the public will need to leave immediately. 

Of interest:

- the unaudited Board-mandated annual financial report for 2016-2017
- introduction for the next year of the City's Pre-K program in SPS.  I have some thoughts on this topic but I'll write a separate thread.

Saturday, Feb 17th
Community Meeting with Director Burke at Green Lake Library from 1-3 pm.

Community Meeting with Director Harris at High Point Library from 3-5

Business on Parade - Wonder How Amazon Would Run Public Education?

The Puget Sound Business Journal recently had an op-ed with this usual type of business headline, "Money Won't Fix Our Education System." I would link it but they have a paywall; a friend sent it to me. Its author, one Bob Wallace, a CEO of something, said the tired old standards:

Friday, February 09, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I see that there is a BEX Oversight Committee meeting this morning.  I haven't been in quite awhile as there is more talk about projects than any visioning about facilities.  But BEX V is coming up and many communities would like to see their name on that list.  So I note that the agenda says that the meeting next month will have "BEX V Capital Levy Presentation."  

A kinder, gentler Betsy DeVos?  Not really but she's working with a right-wing message guru who is urging less of "choice" and more about "innovation."  I'll just note that one of the main dings against most charters schools across the country is that they are NOT more innovative.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Seattle Schools Superintendent Search Updates

I have attended the last two meetings with Board members discussing the search for a new superintendent to replace Larry Nyland.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Two Items of Note - HC Capacity at Ingraham and High School Sciences

Editor's note:  a sharp-eyed reader asked about a quote I attributed to Mr. Kinoshita that seemed to be from Director Rick Burke.  I have corrected that in red in the high science science discussion.  My apologies to Mr. Kinoshita and Director Burke.

end of update

Some of you have wondered this outloud at this blog about HC capacity at Ingraham and one parent did so to Director Mack:

A parent pointed out to me that this page still says "space available" for Ingraham IBX, and since the cap is lifted it might be confusing to people.

Now unfortunately, that link to the enrollment page that she was sent is now dead but here are the answers from Enrollment (to directors and bold mine):

We have done the following in regards to communication around the additional HC seats available at Ingraham:

  • Updated the school choice documents referenced below to indicate the increased seat capacity at Ingraham.
  • Updated the Advanced Learning Page with this information about increased seat capacity at Ingraham.
  • Briefed Admissions, Enrollment Planning, and Advanced Learning staff on the changes to ensure that families questions can be answered appropriately particularly in regards to those asking about the seats available at Ingraham.
  • Connected and informed Principal Floe about increased available of HC seats. Principal Floe is supportive of the change.

The second update is the discussion at yesterday's Curriculum&Instruction meeting about high school science.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

The bus strike continues.  What are you seeing/hearing at your school?  From the district:

Monday, February 05, 2018

Special Education in Seattle Schools: Why Not Better for These Students?

Several stories across my desk on this issue.

Seattle Schools' Teachers to Walk Out This Wednesday

My reading of this is that it should not affect students but just know your child's teachers will not be available if you had planned to try to talk to them on Wednesday afternoon.

From SEA

Solidarity Walkout FAQ

Seattle Schools Reports Allegation of Sex Abuse by IA/Sub

 Update: SPS Communications responded and stated that SPD is asking that the district not release any more info on the individual in question so as not to possibly hurt the investigation.  They did confirm that the individual was only hired as an IA and not a sub.

end of update

From West Seattle Blog (thanks to reader Miramac1):

Seattle Public Schools confirms this letter – shared with us by a Denny International Middle School parent – was sent to the school’s families tonight:

Dear Denny Middle School families:

This letter is being sent home to our families to share important information about a serious allegation and our commitment to student safety.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Seattle Schools This Week - Feb. 5-10, 2018

A busy week before Mid-Winter Break.

Washington State Charter School Updates - Green Dot

When I last left this topic, I was going to attend  the Charter Commission meeting.  I did on January 18th in Tacoma and I testified before the Commission about the issues with Green Dot charter schools regarding zoning departures that they sought for a middle school and a high school in the Rainier Valley, near RBHS.

They did receive the middle school departure but under sketchy circumstances and the high school departure had been put on hold by the City pending a protest from the district.  Green Dot had let the Commission know that they might do one of several things but have, in the end, decided to scale back to keep that location.  Meaning, they have withdrawn their request for a zoning departure.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Say No to Facebook Messenger for Kids

From the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood via the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy:

Please lend your support by signing the petition!

Friday Open Thread

Bus strike - still on.

Did you know nearly 9,000 of the DACA people are teachers?  Story from the NY Times.