Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

Paul Allen has given $1M to Initiative 1639, a measure for gun control and responsibility.  His statement from GeekWire:
"Initiative 1639 is a reasonable and necessary measure that will improve the safety of our schools and our communities, which is why I have contributed a million dollars to the campaign.

I hope people throughout the state will support the campaign, so that we can qualify and pass this important initiative into law."
If passed, the initiative would raise the minimum age to purchase semiautomatic rifles to 21 and create more enhanced background checks, bringing the system in line with requirements to purchase handguns. The initiative would also require people to undergo firearm safety training before purchasing a semiautomatic weapon and require a waiting period of up to 10 days to purchase the weapon.
I have been selected to be on the new Information Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC) that was put forth by Director Rick Burke.   We were told 125 people applied so I feel very honored to be part of this group.  We had our first meeting yesterday.  I'm happy to report we are a diverse group (at least half women) plus two student members, both of whom are great.  I'll have a separate thread on this.

Culinary arts news from SPS Communications; congrats to to the advanced culinary students at Franklin High who won the first annual Culinary Summit to create a "June Sundae."  Their creation?
Wild blueberries with Molly Moon Dark Fudge, paired with a shortbread cookie and a sprinkling of kosher salt, cinnamon and sugar. 

Their creation will be the feature sundae through the month of June at all Molly Moon locations across the city. The proceeds from “June Sundae” will be gifted to the Seattle Public Schools culinary program.  
Big shout-out to Molly Moon ice cream for supporting this effort!

There was also a competition for school lunches with these winning dishes:
  • Ingraham: Chicken and spinach quesadilla
  • West Seattle: Chicken street tacos with cilantro lime rice
  • Roosevelt: Chicken stir-fry
  • Rainier Beach: Turkey-BLT sandwich 
The winning entrees created by students in the school menu challenge will be incorporated into the 2018-19 districtwide school menu. 
What's on your mind?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dress Code Dilemma

When the weather gets warmer there is always the issue of dress codes in Seattle Schools, mostly especially in high school.

Apparently, this has been quite the issue at Garfield where several readers let me know that students - almost entirely girls - have been ambushed while coming to school by administrators.  One issue that gives the girls much unhappiness is that boys are able to use the field without shirts on while girls have to cover up.

I recall that Principal Howard had brought Steve Harvey, game show host/comic, to Garfield a few years back.  There was an uproar because Mr. Harvey, in his talk to students, singled out girls:

"Everything God made of value, he made hard to get," Harvey said at the assembly.  "All you girls here who have what these boys want: Why do you think God put it where he hid it?  You girls are sitting on a gold mine! You can't pass it off like it's candy."

It was never clearly explained why Mr. Harvey was selected as an inspirational speaker but I wonder, in thinking of the latest unhappiness over student attire, that Mr. Howard seeks to define young women in a certain manner.

But again (and again) is this issue of principals as kings of their fiefdoms.  It seems like, especially for high schools, principals really do go their own way with little oversight or interference from JSCEE.

One beacon of hope?  Trenna Treena Stark, the principal at Eckstein who found her own way to meet this dress code challenge (bold mine).  I appreciate that she makes it about what is appropriate, not about how an item fits a student's body.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Open Thread

Teens and sleep talk at Pacific Science Center, May 29th.

Seattle International Film Festival has started.  Lots of good films for kids as well as other activities.

Shooting at a Texas high school this morning leaves at least eight dead.
A suspect in the shooting at Santa Fe High School has been arrested, assistant principal Cris Richardson told reporters near the school. 
A second person has been detained as well, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter.
Witnesses described students running from the school as they heard gunshots; they also described hearing an alarm at the school, though the sequence of events wasn't immediately clear.
An armed person walked into an art class at the school and began firing what looked like a shotgun, a witness told CNN affiliate KTRK.
"We were all standing (outside), but not even five minutes later, we started hearing gunshots," she said. "And then everybody starts running, but like the teachers are telling us to stay put, but we're all just running away."
Damning report from KING 5 tv about Special Education student inclusion in Washington State public schools.
A KING 5 investigation found that Washington schools exclude students with disabilities from general education settings more often than schools in nearly every other state in the country.
That’s not supposed to happen under state and federal law. Public schools in the United States are required to provide specialized educational services to all children with a disability recognized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

That law guarantees that the more than 150,000 special education students in Washington have a right to go to school in the “least restrictive environment.” It means they should get the opportunity — to the maximum extent appropriate — to learn in a general education setting around children who are not disabled, even if they can’t keep up academically or if schools have to modify the way the children learn with extra support.

Inclusion helps students with disabilities perform better academically, she said, but it also gives these students a sense of belonging that encourages them to finish school.
That's noteworthy because only 58 percent of Washington special education students got diplomas in 2016. A 50-state analysis of graduation rates reported to the U.S. Department of Education shows that just 12 states, including Alaska, Georgia and South Carolina, graduated fewer kids with learning disabilities than Washington that year. 

But the state is not forking out enough money to its schools to fund the actual cost of providing services to kids who have special needs, a KING 5 investigation found. That shortfall forced the state's school districts to come up with nearly $165 million in taxpayer dollars on their own to help cover their special education expenses in the 2015-2016 school year, according to OSPI.
 The YMCA in South Seattle is ending its partnership, Powerful Schools programs, that provided summer school and after-school programs for children in that region.  From the South Seattle Emerald:
In early 2018 the YMCA abruptly decided the financial cost of keeping Powerful Schools running was too much for the organization to bear. The YMCA states they are losing $1.3-million every year running the program. CEO Bob Gilbertson said at a parent meeting that philanthropic and government funding has shifted away from funding the program.

The merger between Powerful Schools and the Y was heralded as a way to help families thrive but has instead harmed communities of color. The Y is choosing to leave when things are hard rather than fight to stay and support children they said they wanted to help. Now families and schools are forced to figure what we will do for summer and after-school care.  
There's several district taskforces to apply for:

Advanced Learning Task Force
Application deadline May 24, noon

Transportation Services Task Force  
Application deadline May 23

Science Instructional Materials Adoption Committees
Two committees: Grades K-5 and Grades 6-8. You may join the K-5 committee or the Grades 6-8 committee. 
Application deadline May 29, 9 a.m. 

Update: Yes, his meeeting for tomorrow is cancelled.  end of update Director DeWolf was scheduled to have a community meeting tomorrow but it has disappeared off the district calendar.  I have a call in to confirm.
What's on your mind?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Not to Start a Fight but Here's News on HCC

Way back in January, I made a public disclosure request to the district for emails and other documentation about the Advanced Learning office.  I recently read a number of emails that offer at least part of the picture of the thinking in that office.  (I have been told that there 10,000 items in response to my question - something of a record for me -and I'll be reading them in installments.)

The emails were largely among several people:
  • Katie May, principal at Thurgood Marshall
  • Stephen Martin, Director of Advanced Learning
  • Mathew Okun, Consulting Teacher
  • Thurgood Marshall parents on their equity team
Details of interest:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Washington State Charter Schools Convention

I attended the Washington State Charter Schools Convention several weeks ago down in Sea Tac.  And tomorrow, the Washington State Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the lawsuit against the current charter school law.

The convention came on the year anniversary for the head of the Washington State Charter Schools Association head, Patrick D'Amelio.  (Patrick is one of the good guys and boy, I wish he had stayed at the Alliance for Education where he been CEO.)  He said the conference was full but when I looked around the dining room, it seemed to have many empty seats.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

High School Science News

I see that's there's a state science exam,WCAS, coming up for high school.  Just to note, your child does NOT have to take this test.  Right now, all kids that do take it are doing is piloting it for the State.

Federal law requires science testing but it does not require linkage to graduation. However, Washington State Board of Education has chosen to do so.

Taking and passing the WCAS will be a high school graduation requirement for the class of 2021 and beyond.  But that doesn't mean your child has to take it at all for now.

Tuesday Open Thread

Congrats to the Franklin High Mock Trial team for winning the National Mock Trial competition!  The Franklin team came out on top of a field of 46 teams in Reno, NV the weekend of May 10-12.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Parsing the Curriculum&Instruction Meeting Agenda

Here's a copy of the agenda for tomorrow's Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting with documentation attached.  There are some notable issues that have a deep dive.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Seattle Schools This Week, May 14-20, 2018

Monday, May 14th
Audit and Finance Committee Meeting, JSCEE from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda
Of interest:
- BAR: Families & Education Levy (Stone)
- Informational Only: Coast Property Management Contract Terms (Skowyra)
- Notification of Contracts Exceeding $250,000:Sum of Learning and CHILD (Mills)
- Informational Only: 2018-19 Schools’ Funding Allocations (Purple Book) (Sebring)

- Informational Only:Items Financial Impacts of Capacity Issues (Committee)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Noteworthy Articles about Teens and College

Every year the New York Times puts out a call for college essays from high school seniors.  This year's is a great collection; perhaps show your middle schooler or young high school student for inspiration.  I think the first writer in the series - Eric Ngugi Muthondu - is going to be a great writer someday.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Ballard High in in Shelter in Place

Update: SPD was investigating a burglary nearby and suspect ran toward school and school went into lockdown to protect students.

Happy Mother's Day

Some ideas (with freebies for mom) from The Stranger.

Friday Open Thread

As noted previously by a reader:
From the Capitol Hill blog, a man high on crack was arrested this morning inside Stevens elementary..
This was Tuesday, May 8th.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

What's Happening with Charter Schools? Let's Review

It's almost hard to know where to start but one thing seems to be happening - charter schools are having a harder time with the passage of time. 

Monday, May 07, 2018

Thank You, Teachers!

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!

Image result for teacher appreciation week graphic
And that includes substitute teachers!

Also, it's National Nurses Week and that includes our school nurses - thank you to all of them!

For the past 16 years, the Gallup poll has named nurses as the most-trusted profession in its ratings of honesty and ethical standards in professions.

And a shout-out to my own mom, a former surgical nurse for 40 years - people in my home town used to tell me she was the last face they saw before they went into surgery and the first they saw when they woke up.  For this upcoming Mother's Day, I remember my late mom and honor her work.

Seattle Schools Week of May 7-12, 2018

To note, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week and it's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Board Work Session on Capacity Management, May, 2018

All the directors were in attendance at the Work Session on Capital Projects Annual Report and Capacity Management Annual Report.

Noted capacity expert (and SPS parent) Kellie LaRue was there.  She let me know that surrounding district like Northshore and Bellevue no longer accept out of district students.  They, too, are overcrowded.  What's also interesting is that they have created new high schools or high school space and she suspects that SPS had been pushing off enough students to Running Start to not have started on that until the reopening of Lincoln.

The first portion of the meeting was on the Capital Projects Annual Report and the latter was the Capacity Projects Annual Report. 

Highlights and director comments

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Board Work Session on Capacity

I'll be attending today but a lot of meaty info here.

Story to come.

Tuesday Open Thread

Volunteering this morning in my classroom, the teacher was explaining to the kids about many dates in May (Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, etc) AND that they were in the last full month of the school year.  Wow, time has flown.

Looks like, once again, Denny Middle School is going hard core for the SBAC.  From the Seattle Opt-Out Facebook page:

Public Education is a Risky Business

If you are a person of certain age, you may remember the report, A Nation at Risk, put out during the Reagan years about how bad public education had gotten.  Turns out, not so much.  From NPR,

What 'A Nation At Risk' Got Wrong, And Right, About U.S. Schools