Friday, September 21, 2018

Superintendent Forming Student Advisory Board

Superintendent Juneau has been clear - from her first interview on - that she values student voices.  Putting words into action, the district is creating a Student Advisory Board.

Friday Open Thread

Update: FYI, Payless Shoes is having a 50% sale on all kids shoes, including dance shoes, thru Sunday.  I know this can be a big cost to families so I wanted to put it out there.

Well, it's the next-to-last day of summer and the dreary news from the district - on the cutting of teachers at some schools/movement to other schools - sure makes it feel that way.

My two tweets this morning:

Teacher cuts at some Seattle schools but district seems to want to say that it's a huge number of $$ but really, in the count itself , not so big. They can't have it both ways. 

Can't say it more clearly; Seattle schools staff at Nova, World School and Interagency save LIVES. Cuts to their staffing hurts KIDS.

Superintendent Juneau has another stop on her listening tour tonight with Somali families from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m at the Somali Community Services of Seattle, 8810 Renton Avenue South.  Will include dinner and childcare.

Juneau's joke of the week:
Corny joke of the week: What do you call the security guards who work at the Samsung store? Guardians of the Galaxy.  

An interesting take on opting out of standardized testing - incentivize students to do it.  A group in Texas will offer scholarships. Great little video.

Great event this weekend - the Green Lake Luminata.  I attended last year and some of the lights were stunning. Grab a glowstick and go!


The Fremont Arts Council celebrates the autumnal equinox on September 22nd at Green Lake Park to bid farewell to summer and move gently into autumn with our annual illuminated celebration.
Full participation is open to the public! Many traditions around the world recognize the last days of the productive summer are about to shift into the dark and introspective time of winter.
 
Director community meetings this weekend:
Director Harris - SW Branch of Seattle Public Library from 3-5 pm.
Director Burke - Green Lake Branch of Seattle Public Library from 4-5:30 pm.

To note, at this week's Board meeting, in Board comments, all directors stated their next meeting.  Except Director DeWolf.  Director Geary seems to be having her meeting on Tuesday mornings at Zoka Coffee from 8-9:30 am.  (She says to check her Facebook page as she sometimes can't make it.)

What's on your mind?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Seattle Schools Cuts Teachers at Some Schools to Move to Other Schools

Today, a letter signed from Michael Tolley, Flip Herndon, JoLynn Berge, and Clover Codd went out saying, "Dear School Leaders...."

The district has 775 fewer students than they thought they would.  They say that they are only off by 1.4%. From the letter, it is unclear if that is growth they had expected (but not gotten) or students who have left the district or both.  They claim that many nearby districts to the east and south have the same issues and put cost of housing up "as a likely reason."

They cannot cover all that revenue loss and so they are cutting teachers.  My understanding is that they are NOT losing their jobs; they will move to new schools.

Principals are to ask for volunteers and if there are none, then the least senior person in the teaching corps is displaced. If there is not a "suitable vacancy," then those teachers will be "assigned as building-designated substitutes until a position becomes available."

The timeline was that principals were told yesterday and today the principals told their schools (starting "the displacement process").  Those teachers to be cut will be notified by next Monday.    Those teachers moving will be told next Tuesday and Wednesday and move Friday, the 28th.

I urge you - whether your school is affected or not - to write to the Board and the Superintendent - you can reach them and senior staff at:
schoolboard@seattleschools.org

Why?

Because if there are this much needed movement of teachers, then there should be movement at JSCEE.  Why are schools bearing all the reductions in revenue? 

And, if it's just 1.4% off, it seems like a lot of movement. 

 (And I don't mean cut someone who works in food services at JSCEE; I mean that there should be someone else up the food chain.  When you have this kind of action, the pain should be spread out.)

One very glaring issue  is schools like Nova, World School and Interagency that serve many kids with challenges.  It's LGBTQ kids, immigrant kids and kids who have not found a place where they feel safe.  I can say that I know -for a fact - that Nova and Interagency save lives.  And, those two schools, along with Middle College, always get more kids after the October count. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Advanced Learning Referrals Due Soon

From Advanced Learning:

This year’s window for parent referrals for K-8 students currently enrolled at Seattle Public Schools is May 15, 2018 through Sept. 24, 2018 to determine eligibility for school year 2019-20.

Applications for students in grades 9-12 will be available in January.

How to Submit a Parent Referral


Referring a student online is easy and can even be done on your smart phone! Simply access your parent or guardian account on The Source.


Once you login to your parent or guardian Source account, click on the "Advanced Learning Parent Referral” button to start the referral process.

Read more about how to submit a referral on the Advanced Learning referral webpage. If you need technical tips for The Source, we have some on our Source Technical Tips webpage
 
Need help? Contact mjokun@seattleschools.org or mskawasaki@seattleschools.org .

Read more about Advanced Learning Services and Programs.

Washington Middle School Meeting

At last night's Board meeting, there were several parents there from Washington Middle School.  All were not happy with what is happening at their school.  Here were their complaints:
  • The school has lost a lot of population due to the reopening of Meany.  
  • Courses are not being offered as they were promised previously.  
  • It's not unusual in Seattle Schools for middle schools to offer foreign languages to 6th graders.
  • Didn't the school need approval from the district to offer online courses? Kids are not ready for this kind of learning especially for math.
  • The upending of schedules was not communicated to parents.
  • Wish that the south-end schools were consider as much as north-end schools.  
  • WMS hired an additional ELA teacher while saying their budget couldn't afford a Spanish teacher.
  • Meany has a French teacher and last year there was collaboration to share that teacher.
  • Students aren't even sure now if they are in the right classes. 
  • Principal has changed so much beyond the schedules with policies on backpacks, phones, and bathroom use.
What did the Board have to say?

Seattle Schools Transportation Update

Via SPS Communications (bold mine):

This is an update on transportation services contracted with First Student. Anytime there is a late bus, students, families and schools are impacted. We apologize for this disruption. Getting students safely to and from school on time is a top priority. 

Naviance Updates

Last week I attended the Naviance community meeting at Roosevelt High School.  There were about 30 parents and students in attendance.  There was one counselor from Hazel Wolf.

Unfortunately, there is no link to the presentation documentation at the district's Naviance site so I'll have to request that info.

Public Education Stories of Note

In the category of "Things that Don't Surprise Me Any Longer in Public Education," the richest guy in China, Jack Ma of Alibaba fame, is stepping down from his company and going to focus on public education.

What makes this story different?   For one, Mr. Ma WAS a public school teacher.  That certainly gives him more of a voice of authority than say, Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates.  According to the Times:

Special Education Stories of Note

This story from Education Next - The Better Question: How Can We Improve Inclusive Education? - came from a previous story they had published - Has Inclusion Gone Too Far? - which in turn came from yet another story - How Can We Improve Special Education without Asking Uncomfortable Questions?"  (Links for other stories at the first one.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

On the Washington Middle School meeting last night which I attended - two words - not good.  I'll do a write-up but frankly, it was quite the tour de force (with an emphasis on force) from the principal. 

Reminder that tonight is the Board meeting instead of its usual Wednesday.  Here's the agenda.  Tonight the Board approves the one-year teacher contract. 

Is your child's bus late?  This seems to be on-going for more than a few parents, likely due to a shortage of drivers/veteran drivers.  This was discussed at the Executive Committee, with Pegi McEvoy, who oversees Transportation, noting that this is an occurrence at the beginning of every school year.  What are you experiencing/hearing at your school?

Superintendent Juneau did an interview on KUOW yesterday. Also, a link to her ThoughtExchange page so if you are unable to attend one of her listening sessions, you can leave your thoughts there.

Monday might be a good day to set the DVR because we are going to see a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee almost like no other.  (Except, of course, if you are old like me and watched the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill hearing.) This is history in the making and the committee - especially in this Me, Too time - needs to get it right.  I am hearing that it will only be Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Professor Christine Blasey Ford.  It might a good jumping off point  for a discussion with your children if they are teens about boundaries and sexual assault.

Garfield teacher (and author) Jesse Hagopian reports this from his I Am An Educator blog:
Grammy award winning Seattle-based artist Macklemore and three-time NFL Pro Bowler Michael Bennett have teamed up to purchase and distribute copies of the new critically acclaimed book, Teaching for Black Lives to every middle and high school Social Studies and Language Arts teacher in the Seattle Public Schools. 

Michael Bennett said, “This is the book I wish I had coming up in school but it never existed. Now we have the opportunity to educate thousands of youth about the Black history that was too often missing from my schooling—from the building of the White House, to the role of Black youth in social movements, to organizing for restorative justice today.”

Macklemore added, “With everything from history, to poetry, to visual art, these lessons will help educators affirm the lives of their Black students and create deeper dialogue in our schools about the struggles and contributions of Black people that all students need to learn.”

The editors of Teaching for Black Lives will be participating in a Seattle Town Hall book launch event on Monday, September 24th at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center.
It's official - more U.S. schools have police officers - than counselors

From the Lincoln High Parents Facebook page:

LHS Music Boosters Sept meeting, Wednesday, 9/19, 7pm
Wallingford QFC (area upstairs next to Starbucks)

Meeting agenda: 1) organization formation, 2) potential projects, 3) committee formation.
Come join us! We are especially looking for parents with students at RESMS, JAMS, McClure, Garfield, and Ballard.

What's on your mind?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I attended a great talk last night sponsored by Town Hall.  The speaker was Professor Justin Driver and he talked about his book, The School House Gate, which covers public education cases in the Supreme Court.  Interestingly enough, one of the cases he writes about in the book is the race tiebreaker case from Seattle Public Schools.   (He also talked about one of my favorite public ed cases, one in which a student got into trouble for his sign, Bong Hitz 4 Jesus.)  I'm going to read the book.

He did mention one issue about the Seattle case that I hadn't known - the district had a box on the enrollment form for race that had to be filled in (if the parent didn't do it, the district did).   I let him know that the parents who brought the case never got what they wanted - a high school in their area - and that the racial tiebreaker had worked both ways (for white students wanting to get into Franklin).

Speaking of Town Hall, they have a great series of family concerts coming up.  The next one is October 13th at 11 am at The Royal Room by the Bushwick Book Club Seattle.  Tickets are $5 for adults/kids over 12.  Kids under 12 go for free.

It appears that several states are dropping the PARC/SBAC in favor of state-produced assessments.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

SBAC Results Released by OSPI

From OSPI Communications:


OLYMPIA—September 13, 2018—Results from state tests given this past spring were released Monday by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Called the Smarter Balanced Assessments, the tests were taken in English language arts (ELA) and math by students in 3rd through 8th grade and by high school students. The tests are based on Washington’s learning standards, adopted in 2011. Students in grades 5, 8, and 11 also took new science tests. These tests are based on the Next Generation Science Standards, adopted by Washington state in 2013.