Posts

Showing posts from November, 2006

Income-Based Tie-Breaker

Danny Westneat suggests an idea that I and many others have been talking about --- the income-based tie breaker for enrollment to desirable schools. Read Seeing our way to diversity . He also discusses some of the arguments in favor of the race-based tiebreaker, while his colleague presents the opposing viewpoint: There's no compelling reason to manage race in schools .

My link errors

I am sorry I am so lame at these links. I listen to what Beth tells me and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I wish I knew what I was doing wrong. My apologies
More from the media. First up, Danny Westneat from the Times. Pretty simple and to the point. Schools in crisis? Not really A new editorial from the Times, this one a little less shrill and strident. However, they now say, grudgingly, that the Mayor could have handled his plan better, Mayor Rice should come in because he knows the lay of the land (no, he doesn't, he knows a lot of people and there's a difference) and that Mayor Rice should not have any time limits on his interim period. The school district's credibility deficit . And, an interesting op-ed piece from a former Times editor who moved to Penn. Kind of sobering. Maybe education matters more here

The Conflicting Views at the Seattle Times

The Seattle Times today ran two opinion pieces about Seattle Public Schools. One, by Danny Westneat, Schools in crisis? Not really , was straight-forward, reality-based, data-supported, and calm. He says that Seattle schools are doing alright and compares scores to those in other urban Washington districts. As Mr. Westneat writes: "The mayor and the former mayor and the editorial board for this newspaper ought to back off. My kid goes to a Seattle public school, and from where I sit you all are starting to do more harm than good." The other, was a long unsupported and self-contradictory rant by the editorial board, The school district's credibility deficit . They call for both new long term leadership and for an interim Superintendent. They anguish over a nine-month lame-duck period for Mr. Manhas and prefer an eighteen-month lame duck period for Mr. Rice. They say that Mr. Rice could go right to work when Mr. Rice has demonstrated his ignorance of District issues and p

Joel Connelly column in today's PI

Yet another take on the push by Mayor Nickels to run the schools. Mr. Connelly's column is a dead-on commonsense take on the issue (which I happen to agree with). My favorite line is when he asks anyone to name one specific improvement that would come from letting the city run the schools. There's also a couple of good letters to the editor in today's PI. :) seattlepi.nwsource.com/connelly/294021_joel29.html

PI editorial/Times op-ed today

Another reasonable editorial from the PI today, this one about having Raj finish his contract. It is well-reasoned. My favorite line is: "The district's financial and classroom progress argues for hiring a superintendent who wants to spend years accelerating the improvements, not rethinking everything." I wrote just as much to the mayor last night. I think starting with a new superintendent AND having an education summit would just muddy the waters. The PI has it right to say we need acceleration and, I would add, someone supporting all that Carla Santorno is doing. Seattle Schools: Staying on track The Times had an op-ed by Steve Pulkkinen of the SEA. He gives the realities of school funding and points out that changing the Board is unlikely to increase state funding. Seattle schools crisis highlights need to boost state funding

The Effects of School Closure

Read a good article in the Seattle Times today on the effect of the MLK closure on other Central area schools: Closure affects nearby schools . "The district says it's taking the opportunity to learn from its enrollment-planning mistakes before attempting next year's challenge." I sure hope so.

The PI Perspective

As a welcome contrast to the Seattle Times articles mentioned by Melissa Westbrook in More from the Times , the Seattle PI today has an editorial presenting the opposite perspective. Read Seattle Schools: Is there a 'crisis'? and then compare the ideas and opinions presented there with the ones in the Times' editorials. I support the idea of Norm Rice as an interm superintendent, since I believe it will improve the chances of the levy and bond votes passing February, and will increase the chances of having a successful search for an excellent permanent superintendent. However, the writing in the Seattle Times has been so slanted and one-sided that I'm happy to see the editorial in the PI today presenting the opposing view.

More from the Times

Two editorials in today's Sunday Times about Seattle Schools. One is about the TAF Academy at Rainier Beach. Don't miss opportunity at Rainier Beach High The other is another over-the-top editorial about the Board and taking over Seattle Schools (by some unnamed entity): Why Seattle must control its schools The Rainier Beach piece is actually measured in its tone. They do miss the point; this isn't about charters or not because they are not legal in this state. It is about what the relationship between private entities that want to come in and create schools and our district. They point out how well the foundation that the Academy is based on has done. Good and well but running a program is not the same as running a school. They point out, rightly, how poorly Rainier Beach is doing but don't delve into why. They completely miss the point that it is just plain common courtesy with any group or established school to make the effort to include everyone at the table in

Governance

I hear people talking about the governance of Seattle Public Schools and saying that the District has a serious governance problem. I would agree with them. All of them say that the source of the governance problem lies in how School Board Directors become School Board Directors. This is, of course, absurd. That may strongly influence the persons in the positions and to whom they owe their alligience, but it will not impact governance one whit. The District's governance problem is this: The Board has not been afforded the tools necessary to do their job. I see a lot of confusion around the Board's job. Many of the people who give public testimony seem to think that the Board is the Complaint Department; they are not. Other folks seem to think that the Board writes the District's budget; they don't. The School Board is not supposed to get involved in the day-to-day administration and operations of the District. It is, after all, supposed to be a strictly part-time volu

Finally, from Norm Rice Himself...

After weeks of hearing from everyone except Norm Rice, Melissa Westbrook (and others) got their wish --- an interview with Norm Rice in the PI in which he tells us more about his opinions about Seattle schools and why he wants to be interim superintendent. Ex-mayor wants to run schools The time period Norm Rice mentions for being an interim superintendent (about a year and a half) matches exactly with what I think would be beneficial --- long enough for the levy to pass, some trust to be restored in the schools, and an excellent superintendent to be hired. I found this exchange interesting and surprising: "[PI]What do you think about the seven school building closures that have already been approved for this fall? Is it a good idea to go forward with those? [Rice] I can't answer that. I haven't gotten involved in that on purpose. My instinct says you ought to just shelve it. You ought to really maybe have a cooling-off period, look at some other objectives and come

Recent News Articles on Seattle Schools

The discussion about the future of Seattle Schools continues to appear on a regular basis in the city's two local papers. Recent articles include: Rice could lead district out of morass , Seattle PI (11/24) Nickels suggests role on schools , Seattle PI (11/23) Mayor wants summit on future of Seattle School District , Seattle Times (11/23) Our big drawback: schools , Seattle Times (11/22) I completely agree with Hubert Locke's take on the issues in his article "Rice could lead district out of morass." It will be interesting to see what happens in the next week or so.

Giving Thanks for the Good Things in Seattle Public Schools

For Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to give thanks for some of the good things about Seattle Public Schools. My list follows. Please post what you are thankful for about Seattle Public Schools in the comments. ******* On a personal level, I am thankful for: Missa Marmelstein and Lisa DeBurle, my daughers' fabulous teachers in Pathfinder's Earth hall, teaching 2nd/3rd grade classes with an amazing mix of kindness, joy, inspiration and rigor. Lou Cutler, the Pathfinder teacher who makes PE fun while helping my girls get good exercise habits, and chooses to spend his Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Seattle Kids Marathon leading a group of Pathfinder kids. The PTSA leaders and other parents at Pathfinder who run a well-oiled volunteer machine with many, many adults contributing time, energy and money to support the teachers and the school. On a more global level, I am thankful for: The resignation of Raj Manhas as Superintendent. The hiring of Carla Santorno as Chief Acade

Seattle Schools on "The Conversation" at 10 am Today

ADDED : Link to the archive of today's show if you want to listen to Mel, me, Andrew (via e-mail) and others speaking on this topic. ********* Today on KUOW (94.9), the first hour of "The Conversation" (from 10 am to 11 am) is about Seattle Public Schools. *********** Who should supervise Seattle schools? With the upcoming departure of Superintendent Raj Manhas, what's needed to solve the problems facing the Seattle Public School system? Should the entire school board resign? Does Mayor Greg Nickels' need to assert some control? What role should the state play? We'll take your calls and hear your proposals. ******* Call: (206) 543-KUOW or (800) 289-KUOW; or e-mail weekday@kuow.org to get your perspective on this issue on the air.

Updates on Seattle Weekly article on the Board

I did some research today about the Nina Shapiro article in the Weekly about the Board. I didn't read it closely enough (or misunderstood some of it) but there are a couple of things to point out. One, that it seems that Ed Murray is largely abandoning his legislation on appointments to the Board due to lack of interest from other legislators. (I have a call into his office to confirm this but it's pretty much Nina's impression from her discussions with him.) So, unless the Mayor gets some other legislator to put up the legislation, it's a non-starter. Also, Murray's comment about connecting schools' performance to "a group of people who get paid really well" had confused me. It turns out that he was referencing the city council and the mayor and not suggesting that board members get paid. Also, on the issue of Brita's comment that likened school closures as a crisis like global warming. Brita said to me that she meant school closures a

Suggestion Blocks...

In response to the Mayor's interest in Seattle Schools, Cheryl Chow said he should focus on potholes and the viaduct instead. Hmm... By that logic, Seattle business leaders should just focus on their products and profits. Communities should just focus on parks and recreation centers. And, parents: we should just focus on feeding and dressing our kids. After all, we elected the Board to make the school decisions for us, right? Wrong! Strong leaders welcome input, and use it as an opportunity to hone and defend their vision. If the district had the right leadership, they wouldn't be so threatened by outside opinions. Even if you don't agree with the Mayor's opinion, you should be concerned by the School Board response. If they eschew the Mayor's input, what do you think they will do with input from you or me? I hope the Board considers this before they go off to decide the fate of the district all by themselves. Listening to input doesn't mean they have to make ev

CPPS Position on Leadership Change

Today's article in the Seattle Times, " Nickels urged to take control of Seattle schools " continues the recent pressure in the media for leadership change at Seattle Public Schools. The article includes a quote from CPPS president, Charles Rolland, supporting the idea of an appointed School Board. ""If I'm a stellar superintendent, what makes me want to come to this kind of place?" said Charles Rolland, a community activist who has twice trooped to City Hall in recent weeks to meet with Nickels, along with other activists, business people and educators." Charles Rolland and Venus Velazquez also weighed in last week with a guest column in the PI, " Norm Rice for interim superintendent ." And below is the CPPS response to Raj's resignation posted on their website : "Seattle’s school system is in crisis because of a failure by our district leaders to provide a comprehensive vision and corresponding strategy. The trust and conf

Leadership Change Needed for Seattle Public Schools

Leadership change is needed for Seattle Public Schools, and it is needed now. Whether it is the reality or just a perception (fueled by very biased media coverage in the Seattle Times and elsewhere), many Seattle residents think Seattle Public Schools are in crisis. Allowing that perception to remain unchanged over the next 10 months could be quite harmful to the health of the district. In the Informal Poll - Hire Norm as Interim? or Keep Raj Until Next August? on this blog today, the majority of respondents felt that hiring Norm now as interim superintendent made sense. As I've talked with people over the last few weeks, I've been surprised at how many people share that opinion, both those parents deeply involved in working to improve the school system and the taxpayers/voters who don't usually pay much attention to education issues. The support for hiring Norm Rice seems to cross racial, ethnic and income lines. I have found support for the idea among some people who su

Academic Achievement Gap Event

I found this on the Alliance for Education website. Please join us at a forum on the Achievement Gap Wednesday, November 29 featuring Dr. Terry Bergeson Superintendent of Public Instruction Darlene Flynn Seattle School Board Member There is a significant and persistent Achievement Gap in Seattle and Washington State. We are going to talk about it. · What are the root causes of the academic achievement gap between students of color and their White and Asian counterparts? · How big is the gap? · Is anything working and what are effective gap-closing strategies? · Why should we care about an Achievement Gap? Hear answers to all of these questions as well as your own! Event Information: Wednesday, November 29th 11:45 am – 1:30 pm Seattle Public Library Downtown Branch 1000 Fourth Avenue Please RSVP to Constance Yee at (206) 205-0324 or by email Parking information

NY Times article on math

Seattle was featured in this article about how we teach math in the United States. As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics

Informal Poll - Hire Norm as Interim? or Keep Raj Until Next August?

I'd like to take an informal poll, asking everybody who reads this to click on the comment button below and leave your response to the question. Should the Seattle School Board: Hire Norm Rice as Interim Superintendent and postpone the national search for a year or so until the reputation of the Board and the district improves? - OR - Keep Raj Manhas on as Superintendent until the end of his contract next August, and launch into a national search for a new superintendent right away?

Bill Gates' Op-Ed in Times

Getting our children ready for school, college and work Some of what he writes about we have been discussing. What should high school graduation be based on? Getting into college? Being able to walk out into the world knowledgable enough to be a productive citizen? Trained for work or educated to be a citizen? Are they the same thing? Mutually exclusive? He's off on his bit about not being able to do anything about failing schools. Under NCLB, there are penalities and they kick in pretty quickly. In fact, the whole school is damned rather than just one teacher. I agree with finding some alternatives to teacher certification for people who would be able to demonstrate, based on experience, that they have the skill to teach. My husband is a UW professor who would like to teach high school math/physics. He certainly knows how to teach (although good luck with those high schoolers, honey) and knows how to teach math. But he's not going to go and get more training to do it. Gat

Last Night's Board meeting

Entering the Board meeting last night, I was startled to see kids doing backflips in front of the dias because the Board generally doesn't get that kind of reception. Oh. It was the Dearborn Scats team doing tumbling (which kind of freaks me out because they don't have a spotter at both ends) and juggling. It was fun to watch. The public testimony was mostly well-behaved until the end. I spoke against the capital bond measure. There was the man who loves to shout out racist remarks but he seems to have some sort of mental problem (I mean that) so he gets off the hook for that behavior. Also, Omar Tahir let loose and said something vaguely racist to Cheryl Chow (mentioned Wei Meng - not sure of spelling - which I think is some Chinese gang) and pointing out that Raj was Indian but not even Native American Indian (his words, not mine) and where were the Native Americans? He also threatened the Board (not clear what he would do but it sounded more physical than legal) over

Align High School Graduation Requirements with College Entrance Requirements

Out of yesterday's Washington Learns report, comes one recommendation that makes so much sense, it's hard to believe it hasn't been put in place already. In the PI article yesterday, Offer students more help, state's colleges are urged , is the suggestion that "The state should align high school graduation and college entrance requirements to ease the transition to higher education." As James Sulton, executive director of the HEC Board explains, "there is no clean mesh between what students are told they need to do in order to finish high school and told what they need to do in order to get admitted to college." In other words, students in Seattle (and elsewhere in Washington state) can finish high school with a diploma and a high grade point average and still be ineligible to apply for entrance as a freshman to a state university because they didn't take the required number of years of English, math or other required coursework. Many kids wh

PTSA Legislative Roundtable

I attended the Seattle Council PTSA Legislative Roundtable last night at Eckstein Middle School. It was slow to get started as the legistlators were late in coming. There were about 50 people from around the Puget Sound area. We mostly networked and talked while we waited. I get the impression that there is consensus on the idea that former Mayor Rice should step in as superintendent. The sheet passed out listed the WSPTA 2006 legislative Assembly voting results. Out of about 21 topics, the ones that got the most votes were: 1. K-12 Education Funding 2. Math and Science 3. Simple Majority 4. Reduction of Class Size 5. School Recess (The last one puzzled me. I know it's an issue in other parts of the country but I hadn't heard anything about it in Washington state.) Other top ten issues; student supports, sex ofender registration, Washington state tax system, highly capable programs and tie between assessment system improvements/special ed funding. The legislators wh

City Hall shouldn't run Seattle Schools

There was an op-ed piece in the Times today written by Cindy McMullen, the incoming president of the Washington State School Directors' Association about the Mayor and his increasing interjection in school district direction/politics. What she says is not surprising but her calm tone and reasoned argument are good. City Hall shouldn't run Seattle schools

What's Wrong with Seattle Public Schools?

What's wrong with Seattle Public Schools? Mayor Greg Nickels answered that question and many others on KUOW's Weekday today. Below is a transcript of the conversation. *********** Reynolds : What’s wrong with Seattle’s schools? Nickels : I think that there’s been a real issue of accountability and confidence in the public schools. For an awful lot of parents, as their kids approach school age, their default is to move out of the city in order to send their kids to suburban schools or, if they can afford it, to send their kids to private schools. We have the highest per capita private school attendance in the country. And I think that the Seattle Public Schools ought to be, if not the first choice, at least in contention with those, and that we keep more of those kids in our city and in our public schools. And the confidence is not there amongst a lot of people that they are going to get a good education by going to the public schools, and we need to change that perception.

Washington Learns Final Report

The Washington Learns Final Report: World-Class, Learner Focused, Seamless Education was released today. If you get a chance to read through it, please post your reactions here. You can read the Seattle Times summary of the report at Governor's panel recommends changes to education . If, like me, you are curious about who the people are on the Steering and Advisory Committees, go to the Washington Learns Steering Committee page . You can read information there about the Steering Committee members ( Committee Members tab in the main page) and the Advisory Commitee members ( Members link under each of the three Advisory Committees listed at right). You can also look at meeting agendas, read consultants' reports, and have fun digging through all the documents created by or used by these committees by clicking on any of the Materials links.

Is the School Board Incompetent?

The Seattle Times writes that the Seattle School Board, with the exception of Michael DeBell and Cheryl Chow, are incompetent and should resign immediately. You can read their Sunday editorial at this link or below. http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=boarded12&date=20061112 What do you think? The Times says that the District is dysfunctional. If it is dysfunctional, how much of that dysfunction is attributable to the Board, how much to the Superintendent, and how much to the District's culture which predates all of them? Why does the Times put all of the blame on the Board? The Times doesn't say. The Times says that the District has been missing a strong Board-Superintendent leadership team. The Times puts all the blame for that failure of leadership on the Board. Why? The Times doesn't say. The Times says that the majority of the Board members have failed in their public leadership because they don't act as part

Money (That's What I Want)

Money can’t fix everything, but isn’t it painfully obvious that additional state funding would alleviate at least a few of the problems of the Seattle School District, and probably those of other districts around the state? I’m not just talking about smaller class sizes, more money for books, teacher training, better enrollment staff and computers, etc. I'm envisioning money that could help move us from a siege and crisis reality to a rational blueprint for meaningful progress on those lofty educational and social equity goals that are as common as Halloween candy. If you are one of those people that think that school closures, choice restriction, and private funding should be last resort financing schemes, now is the time to start agitating for real money from the people who are actually tasked with the job of slicing up the public pie. This is the time to match education vision with specific proposals. With Democrats nicely padding their seat margins in the Legislature in the

More International Schools in Seattle?

Articles in both the PI and the Times today report on Carla Santorno's plans to create more international schools in Seattle. - In the Times: School district to expand its worldly offerings - And from the PI: School district eyes adding more language-immersion programs "The district already has the Stanford school and Hamilton International Middle School, and Santorno envisions creating language-immersion programs at five more elementary schools, another middle school and two high schools...Ideally, the district will create the programs in different parts of the city, in existing buildings where the school staff is excited about incorporating a language-immersion program, she said."

TAF Academy at Rainier Beach

Trish Millines Dziko made on a comment on a previous post ( TAF & Seattle Public Schools Letter of Intent ) that I want to make sure everyone sees, so I've copied it below: As the person who crafted this Letter of Intent and as the founding director of TAF, I think it's important for me to comment on the letter and process. About the process: Yes we have been talking to the District since September 2005. In every one of those 13 conversations, the RBHS Principal, the Director of High Schools, and the Executive Director of the Teachers Union were in attendance, except 4 of them. They each had an opportunity to tell their respective constituents what was going on. TAF made a choice to try to get District approval of the idea first instead of making a promise to the community that we couldn't keep. Then we wanted to walk together with the District as partners to work with the community on how this may work out. Right or wrong, that was our strategy. I can't say that

Why not Norm Rice AND a national search?

There’s a lot of finger-pointing these days at Seattle Public Schools. Who is to blame for the crisis we are in: Superintendent Raj Manhas? The School Board? The angry protestors? The State for under-funding education? The one thing we know for sure is: It’s the children who suffer when the adults can’t provide the necessary leadership. Along comes a great suggestion from a group of community leaders who understand that it doesn’t matter who is to blame—the real question is: What are we going to do about it? And one leader is so passionate that he has offered up his own services. That leader is former Mayor Norm Rice. Contrary to reports, nobody has asked the School Board to choose between Norm Rice or a national search. Norm Rice has offered to serve only as interim Superintendent while the best long-term candidate is identified. And, let’s face it: After Superintendent Manhas’ much publicized difficulties with the School Board and parents, it might take longer than year-end to find

Norm Rice or A Nationwide Search for a Superintendent?

The School Board is preparing for a nationwide search for a new superintendent for Seattle Public Schools (see the PI's School district gearing up for search ). Meanwhile, the suggestion of having Norm Rice replace Raj Manhas continues as the topic of discussion at dinner tables and in offices around the city. I admit to being on the fence about the idea of appointing Norm Rice as a temporary solution to the leadership vacuum at Seattle Public Schools. I'm opposed to government takeover of public schools. I'm not sure what Norm would do as an interim superintendent. And buying out Raj's contract would be expensive. But, I do like the idea of having Raj leave sooner rather than later. I worry about what is going to happen to Seattle schools (and the public perception of the schools) during almost 10 more months with ineffective district leadership. And, the memory of the last failed search for a superintendent is still relatively fresh in many people's minds. As a

Everyone Weighs in on Hiring a New Seattle Schools Superintendent

School Board President, Brita Butler-Wall, does not think that rushing to hire a new superintendent for Seattle Schools is a good idea. She wants to take the necessary time for a national search, holding discussions about what we are looking for in a superintendent, and then hiring the best person for the job. See the PI article, " Too soon for a new school district leader " for more details. The PI's editorial piece, Seattle Public Schools: Suck it up, board , seems to argue against hiring Norm Rice and for a full superintendent search, but it also throws in the idea of an appointed School Board with members paid for their work. Frankly, I think the writing and ideas are unclear. The guest column in the PI by two Alliance for Education Board members, School district hopes for leadership , is clearer about what is being recommended. "the School Board could appoint a new superintendent before year-end and buy out the remainder of Manhas' contract, which expires

Lowell School Proposal Meeting Tonight

Tonight at 6:30 pm is a public meeting at the John Stanford Center on the recent proposal to move the special education students out of Lowell. For more details see: Lowell Special Education program Special Education Students to Be Dispersed?

TAF & Seattle Public Schools Letter of Intent

Thanks to Melissa Westbrook, here is the Letter of Intent between TAF & Seattle Public Schools. ********** Letter of Intent Since September 2005, The Technology Access Foundation (TAF), a nonprofit educational corporation, has been meeting with several key Seattle Public Schools (SPS) members including the Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer, several school board members, middle and high school directors, and principals to explore a partnership to bring TAF Academy (a 6th-12th grade school model with a theme of Science, Technology, Engineering. and Math) to Rainier Beach High School. After a year of discussing strategies and issues, we have determined that TAF and SPS will collaborate to bring the TAF Academy model to Rainer Beach High school with the following parameters: TAF Academy will collocate with the current Rainier Beach program. There will be a total of 525 students (75 students per grade) enrolled in TAF Academy. TAF Academy will start in September 2008 with a 6t

Hamilton won't know what hit 'em

The Program Placement Committee has proposed placing some portion of the middle school APP students at Hamilton International Middle School. This will represent a radical change in APP; the cohort will be split as it leaves elementary school. Even more so, however, it could represent a radical change for Hamilton. While Program Placement has not indicated how many APP students will be placed at Hamilton, the number cannot be less than 180 and may be as high as 250 or more. If Hamilton's total enrollment is about 1,000 students, that's 18% to 25% of the student body who are there for APP, not for the international-themed curriculum. When APP is at Hamilton you can expect Hamilton's Spectrum program to become a whole lot more popular. Right now, about 75% of the Spectrum-eligible students in the Northeast Region enroll at Eckstein, but that is likely to change. Of the 300 now at Eckstein, I would guess that somewhere from 90 to 180 will choose Hamilton with APP instead. Ha

It's Time for Visionary Leadership...

I sent this to the School Board last week and it went out in the CPPS newsletter. I'm posting here as well so folks can comment. This is why the idea of bring former mayor Rice excites me. This is why I admire Dr. Mike Riley (Supt of Bellevue) as I've commented elsewhere on this Blog... --------------------------------- By Andrew Kwatinetz, Seattle public school parent and CPPS board member I hoped Raj Manhas would succeed as Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. I admire his character, intelligence, dedication, and genuine passion to do what is right for the children of Seattle. I was one of the 14 people who volunteered hundreds of hours for his Community Advisory Committee for Investing in Education Excellence. With the support of the district staff and extensive community input, we provided 21 specific recommendations to the superintendent. An independent survey showed that two-thirds or more of Seattle residents supported every component of the proposed plan. Yet al

Norm Rice or Tom Vander Ark for Superintendent?

The idea, which has been around for a while, of Norm Rice being hired as the next Seattle Schools superintendent, was given extra life today by the PI in their article, Will Rice ride to schools' rescue? and by the Seattle Times in their article, Mayor pushes Rice for Seattle school head . An article in the Seattle Times this week, Vander Ark steps down from education post at Gates Foundation , makes me think Tom Vander Ark is throwing is hat in the ring for the Seattle Schools superintendent job. According to the article, he is staying with the Gates Foundation with a new position in January 2007 as a Senior Fellow. But I also read a recent quote of his that no one should stay in a foundation for too long, and that he wants to get back in the field. Vander Ark is the candidate touted by Robert Jamieson, Jr. in the PI today in his column, Jamieson: Take this schools job and love it . But he also discussed the Norm Rice rumor and other potential ideas, such as the Buffalo schools

Special Education Students to Be Dispersed?

As described by Charlie Mas in an earlier post ( APP Update ), the district is considering changes to the Advanced Learning programs. As part of that discussion, the plan on the table now suggests dispersing the special education students from Lowell to schools around the district. See the Times article " Special-needs students may leave Lowell " for details. "Michelle Corker-Curry, Seattle Public Schools' associate academic officer, said she had heard of no special-education parents voicing concerns about the move." This quote comes after the two quotes by parents of children with special needs doing just that. Why is that Jessica Blanchard of the PI has heard of special-education parents voicing concern, but Michelle Corker-Curry of Seattle Public Schools has not?

Private Money is Evil

I've been trying to keep an open mind about the proposal for a TAF Academy and the Rainier Beach school and community opposition to it, but I think I need some help. I have been called naive at times (rightfully so), and so I am asking for more experienced and skeptical education advocates to help me out on my understanding of this issue. This is what I gleaned from today's article in the PI, " At Rainier Beach High School, 'we're fighting for our lives' ." Private money is evil. Any proposal that does not follow the current Seattle Public School model is wrong, and should not even be considered or discussed. The district has not supported Rainier Beach High School appropriately in the past. The district does a rotten job with communicating new ideas and getting public involvement. I totally get #3 and #4, and completely agree. But I have serious problems with #1 and #2. Based on discussions and testimony over the last year, I have also learned that: Many