Monday, March 18, 2019

More Science Adoption Updates

From a reader:

This Friday and Saturday, March 22nd and 23rd, the SPS Science Curriculum Adoption Committee will be meeting.  MaryMargaret Welch, head of Science for SPS, will likely call for a vote on adopting Amplify Science.   

MMW has been blocking the Adoption Committee from seeing performance data on Amplify Science in 8 Grade Schools, and 11 Middle Schools, for 2017-2019.   This is contrary to the requirements spelled out in Board Policy 2020, for Waiver Curriculum Materials adoption (new materials being tested).

 Please write to the Board and give them your input.  spsdirectors@seattleschools.org

The Board needs to hear from a large number of parents and teachers, especially those who have been affected by the Amplify Curriculum, which was imposed without Board approval - a distortion of the Waiver Process. 

March 22, 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., JSCEE, 2765, 2750
March 23, 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., JSCEE, Auditorium

I will try to attend some of the Friday meeting; I would suggest that someone go to the Saturday meeting and take notes.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

BEX V Work Session

This was the second Work Session that came after the Budget Work Session.  Both were held at Garfield High School.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Go Talk to Your State Legislator

From Washington's Paramount Duty:
The Balance Our Tax Code coalition, which includes Washington's Paramount Duty, has collected information on the legislature's upcoming town hall meetings. Please click here to find the date, time, and location of the town hall meeting for your district -- and make a commitment to attend!

Friday Open Thread

On the heels of the horrific shooting at a mosque in New Zealand yesterday, I give one suggestion.

There is video out there of at least part of the shooting (the shooter put a camera on his head).   I would suggest telling your child to NOT watch it.  I know, if you tell them, they might not have known and might want to watch.  However, I urge you to tell them there is never a good reason to watch a live killing of anyone and, in this case, dozens of people.  There's always some smart kid at school who might want to come up and ask your kid, "Wanna see this?"  Tell your child to say no. You cannot unsee that kind of thing.

Superintendent Juneau issued a statement/apology about the issue of the district letter to parents about testing and Ramadan.   She said this:

Thursday, March 14, 2019

"Staffing Capacity" Explained

From our sage, Kellie LaRue:

The District Seems to Have a Problem with Religion (or at least holidays)

Once again the district missteps on religious holidays.

You may recall that last fall, members of the Jewish faith were not happy that the 2018-2019 school calendar had kindergarten starting on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).  The district did apologize.

It seemed odd that happened because OSPI has a published list of holidays and important dates for many religions.

Indeed, I also wrote this at the beginning of the school year:
There was also some unhappiness this year over testing during Ramadan (which just happened to fall during the testing window).  For those who might not know, fasting is part of Ramadan until sunset.  Most younger students do not fast but many older students do and taking a test on an empty stomach is rough.

What this all points to is a need to figure out how to better balance communities' concerns with the district doing its job of educating all students. 
So you are large and in charge at the district and you KNOW from last year that having testing during Ramadan - a Muslim holiday that lasts a month and includes fasting during the day (but generally not for younger children) - was a problem.

And yet, somehow someone at JSCEE doubled-down and not only scheduled the testing during Ramadan but also drafted a letter sent to principals that said that maybe parents could allow their child to eat/only partial fast and to get enough sleep.  

None of this had to play out in this fashion and yet, here we are. Again.

One principal, Katie May at Thurgood Marshall, sent it to parents and you can imagine the unhappiness.  (The letter is at the end of this thread.)

On Getting Into College

In the wake of the college admissions cheating scandal, there have been a number of worthy articles.

The story in short via The New Yorker:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tuesday Open Thread

In case you missed it, there is a Facebook group for science in SPS called Save Science in Seattle Schools.  If you have concerns about science in SPS write to:
MaryMargaret (mmwelch@seattleschools.org), head of Science,
Rick Burke (rick.burke@seattleschools.org) Jill Geary (jill.geary@seattleschools.org), head of the Curriculum&Instruction Committee
Diane DeBacker (dmdebacker@seattleschools.org), Chief Academic Officer

March is Music in Our Schools Month in SPS as Superintendent Juneau writes in her journal.  As well, a local group, the Newcombe Foundation has a program for getting musical instruments to students in need in some areas of the Puget Sound region including Seattle.  Their deadline for application is April 30th.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Updates on the Budget Issues in Seattle Schools

  • It appears that the numbers being used for student enrollment at some schools do not match the enrollment numbers at OSPI.
Anyone know a reason that might be?
  • Budget submission from school committees are due this week, and most have been given new information less than two weeks ago.

Science Updates for Seattle Schools

Update:
At the Board meeting, Director Jill Geary, head of the Curriculum and Instruction committee, said that she would welcome questions from parents/staff about the Science adoption.  She said knowing the questions would allow her to pass them along to staff.

End of update

Once again, I have to shake my head.  (At this rate, Linda Blair will have nothing on me and many days, I do feel like my head is going to go around and around, trying to take in all that this district's dysfunction has to offer.)

(Yes, I just said the district is dysfunctional which is something I have denied for a long time.  No more.  And this thread is just the start.)

Updates on the ongoing Science adoptions:

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Latest Strategic Plan

Not to give it away but it's the just about the same draft Strategic Plan as before.  It comes up for Intro at this Wednesday's Board meeting.

It's interesting that the Superintendent, in an interview with the Times, called the early draft of the Strategic Plan "just words" and, well, that looks a lot like what is going to be.

It is astonishing to see after months of working with consultants, online survey input and, of course, the work of the Steering Committee, no real change.  How a draft document can allegedly undergo that type of input/oversight and stay nearly in the same place is a mystery.

Except that it's not.

The consultants? Talked a good game at one Work Session and were never heard from again.

The online survey and community meetings (all done in January in a fairly rushed fashion)?   I do not recall results being tabulated and released.  I just did a check and don't see them at the district so what was said/conveyed to the district and the Board is unknown.

Let's first compare and contrast the last Strategic Plan which was created in 2013 under Superintendent Jose Banda.  I like to think of the new Strategic Plan as "Strategic Plan Unplugged" as compared to the previous one.  It's fairly stripped down.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Seattle Schools Budget Work Session

After yesterday's Work Sessions, I confess to many feelings - feeling flummoxed, confused, irritated and even feeling admiration at so many people trying to do their best.

The entire Board was present as was the Superintendent.  Garfield principal Ted Howard was also in attendance.

Budget head JoLynn Berge led the discussion for staff.  She noted that 85% of districts around the state are in the same place as Seattle.  However, she didn't note that many districts do not have the ability to pass levies the way Seattle Schools does.

She said the next Work Session on the Budget on April 3rd will be to find consensus on restoration issues.