Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Taking a Vote

So which would you rather see to make up these lost school days; add on days to end of year or take them off of Winter/Spring break? Wendy Kimball, the head of the SEA, said it would probably be too late to do it for Winter Break but that would be my first choice. I can't believe in a couple of weeks these kids will be off for a week. Spring Break is my second choice with end of the year the last choice.

End of the year has a lot of impacts. Whether it's Winter, Spring or summer vacations, that can't be the district's concern. But end of the year it makes it impossible to give seniors a full year (they'll show up for graduation but good luck after that), makes it hard for teachers trying to take summer classes, students trying to get summer jobs or parents trying to enroll students in summer camps.

And winter isn't even over yet.


Anonymous said...

Is not making up the days an option?

I think snow days are a wonderful cultural breather. Slow down. Stay close to home. Whatever you were doing wasn't sooooo important. The machine of productivity occasionally gets jammed. Ahhhhh...

What interesting lessons do children learn when school gets cancelled?

Anonymous said...

I've never liked midwinter break. The intent is to stop the spread of viruses. Everyone should stay home for a week and any virus hopping around the classrooms would die out. Well, in reality, all it does is give kids opportunities to travel and visit with friends from different schools, new virus vectors. Unless you are wealthy enough (and parents have enough vacation hours saved) to afford a vacation, kids are out of school during a time that tends to have really crappy weather. So what can they do but hang out with the video games? And it makes the normal school year end at the summer solstice which just seems wrong.

So I say dump mid-winter break forever. However that doesn't answer the issue here. There is a correlation between poverty and academic struggling. There is probably also a correlation between poverty and not having nonrefundable tickets to Sun Valley. So, let's have school that week and if parents who already have plans keep their vacation plans at their discretion, what's the big deal? The four days in school could have an alternative instructional focus, to account for the expected high rate of absence. That can be helpful to give extra help to the kids who need it, or who have already missed a week with the flu, and offer something challenging and deeper to all the kids who show up. A focus back on the joy of learning and not just slogging through the mandated curriculum. (how abot a call for extra parent volunteer tutors for the week?)

Yes, some teachers will have conflicts, but I imagine schools can be flexible and things can work out.

Melissa Westbrook said...

We have to make up the days; the state is legally obligated to have 180 days of school. And, I think there are contractual issues for the teachers as well.

Anonymous said...

I would vote to do what a lot of other districts do - instead of mid-winter break being a week long, make it 4 days long - presidents day and one addtional day.

I really wish we could make up the days during mid-winter break. I spoke to others today that agreed. If they do Spring break, we will be missing a lot of school as we will be out of town.

Anonymous said...

I vote for making up the days over winter break - not because I'm against going to school through the end of June, but because elementary school kids (and families) haven't had effective school time since parent-teacher conferences began 11/13 - and it's crazy!

7 half days followed by the Thanksgiving 4 1/2 day weekend - then 3 1/3 weather days and winter break resulted in their going to school all of 10 days in Dec - then they go to school 10 days in January and it's MLK holiday and 1 1/3 snow days.

On a related subject - was relieved to read in this blog about the motion at last night's board meeting - to petition the state to let us make a change to the 180-day requirement, so that parent-teacher conferences could be compressed to 3 full days rather than 7 half.

Hallelujah - I hope it passed and I hope the state board grants it - since there would be no decrease in hours in doing it, it's hard to understand why they wouldn't, but with all of the state laws, union agreements, and other complexities with EVERY blessed thing in Seattle public schools, there is always more to the story.

Gossip-mongering, but I heard some "renegade" :) elementaries were already doing the compressed schedule, but a new lunchroom worker (local 609) at one of them reported it, perhaps because s/he wasn't being paid for the 3 days not worked (a violation of contract?)

I'm actually glad it happened, because the district then shut down all all non-compliant conference schedules, which galvanized principals at 3 of the schools to make the case for the motion made last night.

Which helps me, because for 4 years our principal's annual pledge was "we'll look into it", which this year became "the district won't let us" -

Hallelujah, I say. Something sensible - that goes from notion to motion in my lifetime - in Seattle Public Schools - without breast-beating, teeth-gnashing, public drama or media foofaraw - could it be?

Still too early to say though - I don't know how the board actually voted (a no from Mary and Sally, perhaps?) and it would still have to go to the state board.

Hope springs eternal.

Anonymous said...

the district is taking an actual advisory vote online ... it will be on the website (or so SPS says) on the news page by 5 pm today (Thursday).

Anonymous said...

The survey is there now. Go to the news section.

Anonymous said...

Can you provide a link? I can't find any survey on any of the news pages, nor by searching the site. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I have it from a good source that most teachers voted to use their professional days and i think add two onto the end of year.