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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday Open Thread

 Action Alert from the Network for Public Education:
The U.S. Senate will soon make critical decisions on federal education funding. The House, to its credit, increased funding for programs such as Title I and Special Olympics, while cutting $100 million from Betsy DeVos's Charter Schools Program (CSP) budget to start new charter schools.
Send your letter and tell the Senate it’s time to investigate the CSP and cut its funding. Let's fund our neediest public schools instead.
The Times has a story on the transportation issues at SPS via the Council of Great City Schools.   Spoiler! Not good.  But of course it's not - the district has been operationally dysfunctional for a very long time.  In SPS, operations is like the weather - complain all you want but you can't change it.  Charlie and I used to say that if they got operations right, it would be hard for us to fight back on other issues (because policy is more nuanced than, say, getting the buses to run on time).
Just a few months after the height of a bus-driver shortage at First Student that delayed routes by up to two hours, an external review dated January 2019 also found many critical and longstanding problems with oversight and communication in the district’s transportation department, little to no reliance on data to drive decision-making and an overall “lack of urgency to change.”
The list of issues of long and appalling.  But there are good items:
In just one year, 7,000 additional students received free ORCA cards as a result of a partnership between the district and the city that began last fall. First Student and the department now have regular weekly meetings to improve communication and the district requires GPS tracking and video cameras on all contract buses.
New to me:
The district is still reviewing the report, he added, and the recommendations will be brought to the superintendent’s transportation Think Tank, a group of business, city and district leaders tasked with brainstorming more efficient transportation options.
Did you hear this good news?  Morehouse College graduation speaker, Robert F. Smith, announced at the commencement that he would pay off all the college debt for the class.   What a great gift to get all those young men going off to their futures.

From UW's Computer Science and Engineering Department, news parents can use:

In a paper published last week in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team presents a new app that can detect the presence of fluid behind a child’s eardrum — a telltale sign of infection — anytime, anywhere in a matter of seconds using a smartphone’s microphone and speaker.

Interesting story at the district's website about Graham Hill and their feelings that their school was divided by its Montessori and Gen Ed programs. 
The equity teams have committed hours of effort in transitioning the school towards a One School model, where all classrooms will reflect the diversity of the community. Eradicating the Montessori program is not the goal; they want to see the school become more inclusive in all learning spaces.

They wanted to hear from families that have historically been excluded.  

There are currently two programs at Graham Hill: Montessori and Contemporary. Students in Montessori and Contemporary have separate break and lunch times and have little to no opportunity to be around each other throughout the school year. Upon completion of one grade level, students also move through the school in a cohort model.
What I always find fascinating about these kinds of stories is that this is a district-created program and the school carries it out.  These two entities always act like some terrible thing visited their school.   You could ask:

- why were families historically excluded?  Were families of color not allowed to enroll?  Did principals not explain to all families what the program was about?
- how come the principals didn't take steps to unify the school like having lunch and recess times mixed? Or mixing PE and music classes?

Unifying the school is a great idea but how it got divided in the first place, without those in control doing anything about it, is troubling.

What's on your mind?

Monday, May 20, 2019

Seattle School Board Races Update

Readers, some of you may have seen my name listed at King County Elections to run for Rick Burke's seat in District 2.  I did that for strategic reasons, namely, I didn't want someone to sneak on the ballot at the last minute with no challenger.  There are two candidates now for that position and so, true to form, I'm not running.  (Everybody at JSCEE can exhale now.)

Note to those who are not as in-the-know about campaigning.  You file to run with King County Elections but you are not truly running until you register with the Public Disclosure Commission.   (Yes, I know legally when you file, you are a candidate but to get and spend money, you need the PDC registration.)

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Saturday Open Thread

The Seattle International Film Festival has just gotten underway; lots of good films for kids and teens in their Films4Families.

The district has selected a new head of Advanced Learning (via Kari Hanson, Director of Student Support Services, partial):

"Adversity Score" for Students Taking the SAT

From the New York Times:

Problem:
Scoring patterns on the SAT suggesting that the test puts certain racial and economic groups at a disadvantage have become a concern for colleges.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Zachary DeWolf Should Step Down .....NOW

Update: in other Board news, there's finally a candidate for District 2 (Rick Burke's district - he has not filed yet), Lisa Rivera Smith.  Smith is a past PTSA president at Hamilton MS and the current co-president of the yet-to-open Lincoln High School.

There's another challenger for Director Harris - Crystal S. Liston. I can find nothing about her.  Anyone?  

end of update

DeWolf missed an important Board meeting last night where an entire adoption - K-12 - took place.

Where was he?

Campaigning for City Council.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Betty Patu Stepping Down Early

Patu announced this from the podium during Board comments.  Her last day, if I understood her, will be June 26th.

President Harris said that an application would be organized because the Board selects who finishes her term to 2021.

Know a good person in Patu’s district?  Tell them to stay tuned.

Roosevelt Jazz Band Wins Essentially Ellington

Great news from NYC - the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band has once again won top place in the Essentially Ellington Jazz contest.  This is the fourth time that RHS Jazz has won which ties with Garfield High School's four wins.  No other schools in the country can match these records.

Congratulations to both Roosevelt and Garfield for their inspired work. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Final Science Adoption Thoughts

Update: I mistakenly thought the three Science adoptions had been introduced at the last Board meeting.  It certainly sounded like that would be the course of things after the Committee of the Whole meeting for Curriculum & Instruction last week.  So the big vote won't be until May 29th.  There are good and bad aspects to this schedule. 

Good
- More time, more discourse.  And whether the Adoption committees are taking any input doesn't really matter at this point - the Board is.
- More time for public disclosure information to become available; I'm crossing my fingers on that one.
- It's always fun to see how many stories can be told about the Amplify pilot program.

Bad
- It's starting to drag out.
- More time for people who don't seem to understand that there can be concerns or disagreement over curriculum without the need to call people racist for that disagreement.  It's pretty striking how the staff and the Amplify supporters fell the need to go this direction.

Wish
It would be nice if the High School Science adoption could be broken out for votes.  See the comments in this thread for the reasons why.  I had forgotten that the head of Science, Mary Margaret Welch, was involved in the creation of the Biology pick, Carbon Time.  

There is quite the volume of information on all sides of the Science Adoption debate.
Have thoughts? Write the Board - spsdirectors@seattleschools.org

I'll tell you the vote I believe this Science adoption merits.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Science Adoption Update

In a previous post, I said I had attended Director Rick Burke's community meeting last Saturday.  I came to listen to others but I also wanted to point out ongoing issues with the science adoption especially for K-8.

The most important thing to do is tell the Board what YOU think.  Despite the fact that whoever created the process for input on the various science curricular being considered decided that ONLY their form would be considered for input, Board policy says any kind of input - written, electronic - could be submitted and should be considered.

Write to the Board at: spsdirectors@seattleschools.org

For example, I hope the Board realizes that there is a weirdly low number for input on the K-5 Amplify curriculum.  It's something like 12-15.

There has now been an amendment put forward by Directors Burke and Pinkham to reject the Committee recommendation for Amplify for K-5 science.  They instead believe the choice should be HMH Science Dimensions.

Director Burke's Community Meeting

Last Saturday, Director Rick Burke had his regular community meeting.  It is a bit disturbing that he was the only director having one and that, this Saturday, May 10th, there is not one single director community meeting.  This despite the high interest in the science adoption looming at the upcoming Board meeting on Wednesday, May 15th.