Sunday, December 30, 2018

Seattle Schools Science Curriculum News

Dear Families,

It is an exciting time for science instruction in our district! We are currently in a Science Curriculum Adoption Process for grades K-12. This process will provide new instructional materials and support for all our classrooms teaching science for the 2019-20 school year. Our last elementary adoption was in 1995, middle school in 2002 and high school various times before 2000; not only has science changed significantly in the last twenty years, but we know so much more about how children learn.

Washington State adopted new science standards in 2013, and it is our obligation to our students to align to these new standards. The biggest shift in science instruction has been from “learning about” to “figuring out” where students work through a series of connected lessons anchored in explaining a compelling science phenomenon. This revolution in science education will provide a rigorous, engaging experience for all our students and will ensure they are college and career ready.

Follow the K-12 Science Adoption process on our website: https://tinyurl.com/SPSScienceAdoption

Science Instructional Materials Open House

Amazon Dollars Explained

Update:  here is the list of school funding so far.

The highest funded schools are Franklin at $31,600 and Mercer International at $26,500; the lowest funded schools are Dectaur at $1100 and Cedar Park at $1400.

I would urge everyone to speak to your principal about a school need that could be met with this funding when school resumes.

end of update

As you may recall, I recently asked about the $2M that Amazon had donated - via the Alliance for Education - to SPS "student needs."  I had wondered where it went; here you go. (Bold mine)

From: Superintendent Sent: Monday, December 10, 2018 1:19 PM
Subject: Right Now Needs Funds

Dear School Leaders:

Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday Open Thread

Opting out of testing in one Oregon district just got a lot harder; I'm hoping SPS doesn't try this stuff.  From Opt-Out Oregon:

Parenting; How Goes It?

Two interesting articles on parenting; I'll be interested on your take of either or both.

The first is from Mother Jones on school discipline.  I absolutely agree with trying to help kids figure out what is really upsetting them (and giving them tools to deal with anger).  Punishment doesn't really work for a child with real issues so more care needs to be taken.

But, as someone in a classroom on a regular basis, I will push back a bit.  If a teacher has a large class plus the kid in question is endangering other students (not just stopping the teaching and learning), the teacher needs the ability to act.   And sometimes, it won't be nuanced.

Has your child ever complained about another child disrupting class?  Is kindness taught for other children's issues?  

The other article is from the New York Times, The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting.  (I actually heard something on NPR this morning about Amazon's own relentlessness and that Alexa had read literally hundreds of thousands of holiday stories.  Really? Even during a holiday, parents can't read to their own children? But I digress.)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Seattle Squeeze? It's Going to Affect Seattle Schools

Sadly, I see no information at the SPS website but I presume everyone is on vacation.  (I also received no press release.)

However, on KUOW this morning, they reported that SPS believes it will get hit with timing issues for school bus service when the Viaduct closes forever on January 11th.  The story stated that they will be sending the bus drivers out 30 minutes earlier than usual in an effort to get to kids on time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Blog Refresher

Dear Readers,

I know many of you are long-time readers (thanks!) and some of you are new (welcome!) and I thought it useful to review blog policies.

Wednesday Open Thread

From The Columbian, Battleground SD has taken to ditching the cardboard single use milk cartons in their cafeterias.  Wish SPS would consider this; in my tutoring time, I go to lunch with the kids and see a lot of waste.

Where's the greenest school classroom in the U.S? In Seattle (but not at a Seattle public school).  From Crosscut:

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I had meant to try to see the number of hits at this blog change but I got busy and forgot.  So I missed when it ticked from 11M to now 12,202,580 hits for all its years.  Thank you to all my readers.  (Interestingly, while the U.S. is the #1 spot, Ukraine comes in second.)

I note that a group of youth from the NAACP Youth Coalition spoke at this week's Board meeting about racism and inequities in the district.  One student asked why every school didn't have a Race and Equity team.  That is a good question and, at this point, I think they have them in half the schools.  One issue may just be that some schools may be dragging their feet because of the need to find people who will serve and really do the work.  But for staff who already seem to work fairly hard, it may be one more district directive that they don't have the time or support to fulfill even if it is for the best of reasons.

There is the briefest of stories on KUOW about the Hamilton Twitter issue and I see none at the Times.  Hmmm.  Has there been any tv coverage?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Social Media Strikes in Two SPS Schools

First up, Hamilton International Middle School.

It was reported to me that a couple of days ago a student in a class took video of his teacher warning students about not supporting a certain, very popular YouTube channel because the channel and the ones it retweets to its 75 million (yes, million) followers can be (looks at list): racist, homophobic, mysogynistic, and anti-Semitic.  The video has had nearly 2M views.

I also heard that there were reported bomb threats to the school and police came out, either today or yesterday.   I have calls into SPD and SPS but mum's the word so far.

Update from SPD:
I can tell you that officers were called to Hamilton yesterday shortly after noon for a threats call by school staff. Officers documented the incident after interviewing staff, but you will need to contact Seattle Public Schools for any further details. 

From SPS:
The ensuing responses from other social media users included some negative comments and language. While the language did not include a direct threat, out of an abundance of caution, Hamilton International Middle School responded by contacting the Seattle Police Department. The Twitter post and related comments were investigated by the Seattle Police Department and SPD quickly determined there wasn’t a safety risk to students, staff, or the school.


Since the incident, and today, we have extra security presence at the school. This is simply out of an abundance of caution. Also, the Seattle Police Department will continue to monitor the social media traffic.
end of update


Then the student tweeted out the video (I will not be linking the video as this particular YouTube star and his minions are a nasty bunch).   This student said:

Our history teacher told us that by supporting Twitter site X we are supporting anti-Semitism, racism, ignorance, etc. He also said that is a very reputable news source. How ignorant can you get? The political arguments are more and more ironic daily. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

District enrollment and school tours information here.

What do most speakers at tomorrow night's Board meeting want to talk about?

Approval of the Student Assignment Transition Plan for 2019-20 as it pertains to Graham Hill's Montessori program

I'll have a separate thread on this one because there are some notable issues. 

From NBC News: While teenage girls attempt suicide more often than teenage boys, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, boys are more likely to die by suicide.

From Education Week:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

District Hires New CAO

And now, former head of Athletics, Eric McCurdy, says he was wrongly let go.

Here's the story from the Seattle Times on McCurdy.
The Seattle Public Schools athletic director accused of bullying a former district employee is appealing his firing in King County Superior Court, claiming he was the subject of a vendetta based on inaccurate information and his race.

Eric McCurdy claims the termination violated his Constitutional rights, endangered his future career opportunities and had “a stigmatizing impact upon him.”

In an appeal and complaint for damages filed in King County Superior Court Friday, McCurdy said he was fired from the school district and asked the court to reverse the district’s decision. McCurdy said in a news release from his attorney that he was fired “based upon hearsay and inaccurate information.”
He is also unhappy that his accuser didn't have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Below is the info about the new CAO, Dr. Diane DeBacker.  I note that the district hasn't had a CAO in a long time.  Kyle Kinoshita is Chief of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Waivers List

The Board's Curriculum&Instruction Committee met today; here's the agenda.  I chose not to attend but I did want to post a couple of items from the agenda.

One is the Annual Report to the Board on curriculum waivers. Kyle Kinoshita, head of Curriculum, was kind enough to send it to me when it was left off the documentation.

Tuesday Open Thread

Interesting opinion piece in the NY Times about straight A students.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Seeking Parents to File a Federal Complaint

I've been working with a mom from Kent School District on this story about a King County survey, developed by UW and Seattle Children's Hospital that has been given/is slated to be given at six Seattle Schools middle schools.    Here is my previous story.

The schools involved are Hamilton, World School, Whitman, JAMS, Meany and Madison.

I am seeking any parent (or parents) who would be willing to file a complaint with the Department of Education.  If you have a child at any of these schools (whether they took the survey or not).  In my previous thread, one parent, Wildcat, said his son had taken the survey.    sss.westbrook@gmail.com

If you do have a child at one of those schools, I urge you to write a letter to your principal and tell them your child is NOT to take the survey called Check Yourself or SBIRT.

I also urge you to contact the Board and request that implementation of the survey be stopped immediately.  spsdirectors@seattleschools.org

I am now convinced that the district is violating federal law (PRRA) and their own policy on surveys.  There are rules about asking questions about sexuality, mental health issues, religion and other sensitive subjects.

Friday Open Thread

Community meetings on Saturday, the 8th
Director Mack at Queen Anne Library from 11 - 1pm.
Director Burke HAD a meeting scheduled but, because of travel for work, had to cancel.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

The City is getting near to making a decision about upzoning throughout the city.  They say it will be "gradual and incremental" but frankly, I'm sure once the ok comes, you'll see the changes come rapidly.  One item to consider is the report issued by the Mandatory Housing Affordability group says that the current zoning is not fair to all citizens and does not afford them the ability to be near "parks and schools."  

Monday, December 03, 2018

Advanced Learning Work Session

Change is coming and I believe it will be tough love all the way around. 

Now could they all be blowing smoke?  Sure, I've been fooled before.  Except that this is a new superintendent who I continue to believe is charting her own course.  She finished her Listening and Learning tour; here's her report about that work.  I'll have a separate post on this report but she says:

Seattle Schools, Week of December 3-9, 2018

Update: I had closed the comments on the post about the Strategic Plan but reopened it upon request. 

Tuesday, December 4th
Quarterly Audit&Finance Committee meeting at JSCEE from 4:30-6:30.  Agenda

Continuing the audits for the year, there will be reports on Special Education and on Thornton Creek Elementary by the Internal Auditor.  There is a notation for the Special Education audit that I do not recognize - "write-back process" - does anyone know what that means?

There will also be audit responses from various JSCEE departments. 

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Last Goodbyes to Old Burke Museum

From the Burke Museum website:

Celebrate the final days of the current Burke Museum before we close our doors on December 30, 2018 to move collections and prepare exhibits for the New Burke Museum (opening fall 2019). Enjoy free admission and gallery activities for all ages.

Garfield Student Speaks Out on Honors for All

In advance of my post on the Work Session on Advanced Learning this week, here's a column from the Times written by student journalist, Millan Philipose.