Showing posts from May, 2007

The Superintendent's First 100 Days

Back in April when Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was hired, she shared her plan for her first 100 days in Seattle. ( Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's First 100 Days in Seattle ) A superintendent in Enumclaw is just finishing his first 100 days, and what he has accomplished sounds good to me. ( Enumclaw schools chief making an impact in 100 days , Seattle Times) " members are taking notice of new goals targeting four areas: communication, infrastructure, academics and culture. "Our new plan is something much more tangible and simple," said Cathy Dahlquist, Enumclaw School Board member. "I don't know if anyone could describe our old one." ...He wants to strengthen ties between parents and staff and improve community relations. ...A self-proclaimed "communicator," Nelson sends weekly letters to staff where he discusses his concerns and thoughts on the past week. For parents, he hosts community meetings and regularly sends home letters."

Church and State working together?

Reading the PI this morning, I saw this article about the First United Methodist Church and its move to Belltown. I stopped when I saw this: "The church's 1950s-era administrative wing will be torn down to make room for the skyscraper. The saved sanctuary will be renovated for public use, but what exactly it will become remains undecided. With the building's acoustics, it might make a good performing-arts center, Daniels said. One idea, he said, is a collaboration with Seattle Public Schools to take student performances downtown." That does sound good and would be a nice downtown venue for any and all student groups who might want to put on performances. I wish I knew who in the district to direct this information to because it should be on the district's radar. This would be a good partnership that would let Seattle know (and hear) more of the good things that are happening in our schools. I recall that when Rainier Beach's new performing arts hall

Joel Connelly's take on candidates

Joel Connelly wrote in his column today about candidates who attended the Alki candidate forum (I'm sure there are more than the ones he wrote about). Here's what he had to say about School Board candidates, Peter Maier and Sally Soriano. "Seattle School Board candidate Peter Maier came across at the forum as crisp, able and informed. Maier is a Harvard-trained lawyer who has headed Schools First, organizing school levy campaigns. He is taking on incumbent Sally Soriano, active in anti-World Trade Organization protests and part of an insurgent school slate elected in 2003. The race will offer clear choices. "The WASL test has become a punitive test," declared Soriano. Maier argued, however, that the statewide test is "an appropriate means of introducing rigor and skills" that students need in college and the job market. As to race relations, Soriano said "anti-racism, sexism and classism" belong in the curriculum of city schools. Maier st

One idea at a time - Promotion Policy

No one, not even Mr. Manhas, is blind to the dysfunction in Seattle Public Schools. Unfortunately, no one, particularly Mr. Manhas, has done much to address it. Perhaps they don't have any ideas about how to address it. Well, I'm all about solutions. It's not enough to complain; one must also offer remedies. You may not think these remedies are any good; in which case I welcome opportunities for improvement. I don't know if anyone in a position to do so can or will take these ideas forward, but I will offer them anyway. Let no one suggest that these problems can never be solved. IDEA #5 Promotion/non-promotion policy. When I look around Seattle for examples of success in closing the academic achievement gap by bringing every student up to Standards I see a recurring theme. It isn't cultural competence. The schools that show success all set and maintain high expectations for all students. The Board already has policies that mandate this, but such a Policy would be

WASL Op-Ed in the Times

In the op-ed piece, High Test Fuel for WASL , teacher Wendy Grove makes the case (I think) for keeping the math and science sections of the WASL instead of using alternatives (which I believe the Governor vetoed doing anywway). I say "I think" because her piece is somewhat contradictory. She starts by saying, "The WASL is a valid test for my third- and fourth-graders; it asks them to show proficiency according to the wisely, deliberately crafted Washington state standards, and we should stick with the test that aligns with the standards to which we're instructing." (I'm not sure I know what wisely crafted means. She might have meant well-crafted?) So you think she believes in the WASL based on what is taught in schools. But further on, it seems like she's making the case that when Everyday Math was rolled out it didn't come with training and some teachers used it fully and others didn't. Meanwhile kids who changed schools got math presen

One idea at a time - Program Placement reform

No one, not even Mr. Manhas, is blind to the dysfunction in Seattle Public Schools. Unfortunately, no one, particularly Mr. Manhas, has done much to address it. Perhaps they don't have any ideas about how to address it. Well, I'm all about solutions. It's not enough to complain; one must also offer remedies. You may not think these remedies are any good; in which case I welcome opportunities for improvement. I don't know if anyone in a position to do so can or will take these ideas forward, but I will offer them anyway. Let no one suggest that these problems can never be solved. IDEA #4 program placement reform. A lot of people are not aware of how program placement decisions are made in Seattle Public Schools. These are the decisions about which schools will have special education, bilingual, and advanced learning programs. There's an excellent reason why most folks don't know how these decisions are made; it is because they are made in secret. According to

One idea at a time - volunteer Board staff

No one, not even Mr. Manhas, is blind to the dysfunction in Seattle Public Schools. Unfortunately, no one, particularly Mr. Manhas, has done much to address it. Perhaps they don't have any ideas about how to address it. Well, I'm all about solutions. It's not enough to complain; one must also offer remedies. You may not think these remedies are any good; in which case I welcome opportunities for improvement. I don't know if anyone in a position to do so can or will take these ideas forward, but I will offer them anyway. Let no one suggest that these problems can never be solved. IDEA #3 volunteer Board staff. Periodically, we hear that the Board cannot do their job properly because they lack staff. The lack of staff is provided as the reason they can't respond to their email, phone calls, and letters. The lack of staff is given as the reason that the Board isn't adequately informed on issues. The lack of staff is given as the reason that the Board relies so he

Fair and Balanced

Here's an editoria l that's more even-handed in its assessment of the Board. It ran in today's PI.

Times Differs with the PI

Following up on the PI's endorsement of the math adoption plan yesterday, here's the Times' take on it. Their reasoning: "The decision would be made before new state standards are in place, before the new district superintendent is in her job and before Seattle voters have had a chance to realign the School Board. It would be best to delay this decision until those things are done first. Delay would come at a cost. Forty percent of fourth-graders are failing the WASL test in math, the scores have not substantially improved in three years, and there is a large achievement gap between the races. There is reason to hurry, but only if the district is hurrying to do the right thing — and that is not obvious." I didn't realize that the state standards weren't in place so it does seem logical (especially considering the costs involved) to wait. I'm not so sure you need a new Superintendent/Board to make this decision but that's their belief. I th

Special Legislative Session Tonight

Instead of a regular School Board meeting tonight, there is a Special Legislative session, starting at 6 pm at the John Stanford Center. There are only two agenda items: Elementary Math Adoption (Student Learning) – The Student Learning Committee recommends approval of this item which would adopt a new elementary math curriculum beginning in the 2007/08 school year. K-2 Independent Reading Classroom Libraries (Student Learning) – the Student Learning Committee recommends approval of this item which would authorize expenditures of $1,388,432 for K-2 independent reading libraries in every K-2 classroom in Seattle Schools. If you are interested in testifying about either one of these topics, just show up early. The agenda says: Public testimony at this special legislative session will be limited to the topics of the meeting. Each speaker will be allowed up to three minutes to speak. Anyone wishing to speak may sign up at the door starting at 5:30pm.

What I Did On my Summer Vacation

I found this at the Couriercritic.blogspot: "Sunday's story in the P & C about goody bags given to about 22,000 elementary children in CCSD surely is cause for hope. Nancy McGinley took the initiative to follow through on a suggestion from a school volunteer! "The bags contain a day-to-day calendar of suggested activities for children to do with the help of their parents, such as "think of all the words that describe your family and make a poster of family words" or "name a food that starts with each letter of the alphabet." "The bags also include: a list of locations and phone numbers for the free summer meals programs, a brochure for the Charleston County Public Library summer program and library card application, summer journal writing ideas and educational Web sites. Individual schools are invited to add information to the bags such as media center hours and reading lists. . . . The district also plans to partner with the library to put

One idea at a time - Gap Closing Plan

No one, not even Mr. Manhas, is blind to the dysfunction in Seattle Public Schools. Unfortunately, no one, particularly Mr. Manhas, has done much to address it. Perhaps they don't have any ideas about how to address it. Well, I'm all about solutions. It's not enough to complain; one must also offer remedies. You may not think these remedies are any good; in which case I welcome opportunities for improvement. I don't know if anyone in a position to do so can or will take these ideas forward, but I will offer them anyway. Let no one suggest that these problems can never be solved. IDEA #2 Gap Closing Plan. I have been active in Seattle School District issues for about six years. For all that time the District's stated number one goal and priority has been to close the academic achievement gap by bringing every student up to Standards. And for all that time, the District has made rather poor progress towards that goal. I suspect that the progress has not been very go

Seattle PI endores new math curriculum

I know I am rehashing old ground here but,The PI today says that the school board should adopt Everyday Math with an add-in of Singapore Math for the elementary schools. Sorry for the upcoming sarcasm, but my only thought on this is: "Oh boy, I can hardly wait till I get these students in high school and I get to teach them the basics they should have learned long ago." If the elementary schools are going to do a blend of Everyday Math and Singapore math, it should be mostly Singapore Math with Everyday Math used to help students discover things after they have learned the basics. The PI does say that teacher training will be the key to success, so at least they understand that you can't just adopt a curriculum in a vacuum and expect real learning to take place.

One idea at a time: contributor column

No one, not even Mr. Manhas, is blind to the dysfunction in Seattle Public Schools. Unfortunately, no one, particularly Mr. Manhas, has done much to address it. Perhaps they don't have any ideas about how to address it. Well, I'm all about solutions. It's not enough to complain; one must also offer remedies. You may not think these remedies are any good; in which case I welcome opportunities for improvement. I don't know if anyone in a position to do so can or will take these ideas forward, but I will offer them anyway. Let no one suggest that these problems can never be solved. IDEA #1 Contributor Column. If you take a look at any Board Action, such as the sample shown here , you will see that the format includes a three-column table with the headings: Options, Pros & Cons of Each, and Fiscal Impact & Revenue Source. I propose that we add another column called "Contributors". In the contributors column, the person writing the School Board Action Rep

Chinese Education -The Educated Giant

The Educated Giant was a Nicholas Kristof op-ed in the NY Times about China's education system. (I'm not sure how long this link will last as they didn't have their normal long-term icon for links.) He brings up some good points like foreign language instruction starts a lot sooner in China (and most European countries) than in the U.S. He also makes a point that bears thinking about in our youth culture of "I want it now", rap music (you may agree with Russell Simmons but he's smiling all the way to the bank whether or not he puts on a public persona of "I care") and the 3 Bimbos of the Apocalypse (Britney, Paris and Lindsey). (Having said that, I do believe that climate change may be extending to hell as Paris is actually going to do jail time.) "A third reason is that Chinese believe that those who get the best grades are the hardest workers. In contrast, Americans say in polls that the best students are the ones who are innately the s

Whither the Alliance?

Thise editorial was in today's Times about the Alliance for Education. I had wondered myself about what happened to the Alliance who was so front and center during Superintendent Olchefske's tenure. I remember when the Alliance came about under John Stanford and thinking, "Now that's a good idea to get buy-in, help and feedback from different organizations." But the Alliance seemed to be more business-oriented than an umbrella organization and soon was allowed privileges that no other group had (like sitting in on meetings that the general public was not allowed at). After the elections 4 years ago, I thought that Alliance would not be happy with the Board makeup and, as time went by and they were less visible, thought it was true. But, with any organization, I'm sure there was a lot going on. It will be interesting to see what their relationship will be with the new superintendent.

New From Crosscuts

A Comeback Scenario for Seattle Schools , a new article in Crosscuts by David Brewster has some fair forecasting along with some tired old bromides about the Board. He calls Mary Bass and Sally Soriano, "the least-corrigible dissidents" (I wonder who would be the most). He made me laugh with his description of Maria Goodloe-Johnson: "Maria Goodloe-Johnson, from Charleston, S.C., Country Schools (an urban-suburban blend), came across as crisp, tough, almost gleefully confrontationist in the Chow mode. She looks like the overt reformer, which raises the question of whether, after she skewers some sacred cows, the board would stand behind her." Will she be an uber-reformer? Good question. Will she be willing to skewer some sacred cows? Now that would be interesting. I don't think any Board wants to hang the superintendent out to twist in the wind so let's see how far she might go. He does say there are "quality" candidates running but leav

Happy Birthday, Blog!

On May 25, 2006, frustrated by the school closure and consolidation plan, but invigorated by the discussions I had with others around the district during meetings and hearings, I started this blog. I was completely new to blogging -- I didn't read any blogs on a regular basis, and I had never created one -- but I was determined to do something, and it needed to be something I could do in the evenings from home, after work and putting kids to bed. It was a great decision for me. The research and writing I have done for the blog, has provided a great form of professional development, pushing me to learn more about K-12 education issues, both in Seattle and elsewhere around the state and the country. But it has been reading others' posts and comments that has provided me with the greatest insights and the best learning. Inviting other experienced education advocates, like Charlie Mas, Andrew Kwatinetz, Mel Westbrook, and Johnny Calcagno, to be blog contributors gave me and othe

Seattle Magazine Article on Dropouts

This article is in this month's Seattle Magazine about drop-outs. I find quite a few problems with it. One, the author, Carol Tice, says that there has been leadership turnover in SPS and that made it hard to implement new ideas. And that is based on what? There is leadership turnover at many districts throughout the state and the nation. Frankly, I think people get tired of "the latest thing" and actually would prefer to laser focus on maybe 3 things. Whether you agree with me or not, I'm not sure how she can support that assertion. Two, she says that the population of SPS has a higher percentage of minority students than the general population because of the large numbers of parents choosing private schools. Okay. Then, she staates, "Observers also say there’s a lack of openness to new programs that work for minority students." I love when reporters say "observers". Who are these people and why should I place my faith in their obser

A Valentine to SPS

A nice end-of-the-year shot in the arm to our public schools in the Times today. It's nice to have because as we approach the end of the year, 7 schools will close/merge and it is likely to get a lot of coverage in the media (as it should). It will be painful and sad but I honestly believe that if the district can thoughtfully and with great sensitivity guide these schools through this process, can create an assignment plan that saves money (via transportation dollars that are then driven into schools that are struggling) and have the new superintendent vow to have a laser focus AND work to implement Board policies (no matter who is on the Board), we have a great chance to move forward and make this a great district for a great city.

Board Work Session on Student Assignment

I attended the Board work session on student assignment yesterday. There were lots of maps and data posted but I didn't get to look at them much. I'm assuming it's what is at the community meetings. All the directors were there except Bass and Stewart (it was being recorded for them). I thought there was much good discussion by the directors. There was one slight oddity which was that Director Soriano sat completely away from the other directors. I don't know why. The following is not a complete record but highlights as I took notes. Raj and Carla both spoke. Here is what Carla said that they are looking to do/have occur in terms of the assignment program: -equitable access to quality instruction -family engagement -access to programs and services -diversity -curriculum alignment through solid feeders Her requirements: -Quality teachers at every school -strong leadership at each school -increased resources and opportunities -intentional location of progr

Peter Maier finally has a website

Here's a link to Peter Maier's website. Here's what he says needs to be done: "The current School Board is off course and too often unfocused. I will bring three essential qualities to a new Board: » Leadership. The School Board's role is to set policy in a steady and consistent manner - insisting that every student has an opportunity to be what she or he wants to be. » Responsibility. Once policies are set, the Board must take responsibility to see those policies are carried out by the District staff and in the schools across the city. » Accountability. Our District faces long-term financial problems. The Board must hold the District accountable for the funds being spent, and the Board must engage with the community, the Governor and the Legislature in pushing for solutions." There is no issues area to his website so we'll have to go to forums to see where he stands on various issues. I'm not sure I understand the

School Board Forum Last Night

Corrected at 8 am thanks to blogger comment :-) Last night was "The Future of the Seattle School Board: Why Should You Care?" community forum at Seattle's Town Hall. See We have the power to make school boards more relevant in the Seattle Times and previous posts on this blog ( Washington Appleseed Forum and Board Elections & School District Governance ) for more information.

Hale's New Principal

It was announced today that Marni Campbell, currently principal at Eckstein, will be Hale's new principal. Eckstein's loss is Hale's gain. My son graduated from Hale last year and I believe it was a good place for him and has many wonderful teachers and staff. I personally thought, however, that the principal was not good in many areas. I find Marni to be friendly but not cloying, firm but not rigid. Of course, this now leaves Eckstein without a principal.

Open Letter to Seattle from Brita Butler-Wall

Dear Members of the Seattle Community, Four years ago you elected me to the Seattle School Board because the need for reform was so great. Our new board’s strong vision and hard work have paid off. Our district is in far better shape than it has been for decades and is heading in the right direction with new leadership, a firm financial footing, and some very sound policies. By setting up stringent oversight of the Superintendent and the budget and making tough policy decisions, we have turned the district around. Our board has focused relentlessly on student learning, always with an eye to equity. We have pushed for systems thinking and analysis of data. We have pushed for greater transparency, inclusion, and accountability throughout the system. Relentless focus worked. We got our finances under control, got operations back on track, put academics in the drivers’ seat, engaged a much wider community, and advocated effectively for children in Olympia. We recently conducted a

Hamilton Rebuild

This article was in the PI this morning about the Hamilton rebuild. There two interesting points in it. One is that the district wants 27 feet from the park. I rechecked the info at Hamilton's site and the question asked on the FAQ is"exactly how much land does the district want" and the answer is not given in a clear number. Also, the questionaire to the community only mentions 11 feet from a garden area. Whether or not it's 27 or 11, this is exactly the kind of thing that gets the district in trouble when these issues come up. Second, there was a question about when and why the district changed its tune about moving Hamilton into Lincoln after Roosevelt and Garfield were done. (This has never been explained in a clear manner.) Here's what Eleanor Trainer, the Community Liason for Facilities says in the article: "While previous school district boards may have supported moving Hamilton students to Lincoln, that's not the intent of the current

Student Assignment Plan

Please make time to attend one or more of the Student Assignment Plan events happening this week and next week. The decisions made about this policy will have far-reaching effects. Workshops start tonight . Drop-in meetings started last week and continue until May 30th. The schedule of upcoming events is: Workshops Tuesday, May 22, 6:30-8:30 p.m . - Hamilton International Middle School Thursday, May 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m . - NewHolly Gathering Hall Drop-in Meetings Wednesday, May 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Ballard Community Center Thursday, May 24, 9:00-11:00 a.m. - Garfield Community Center Thursday, May 24, 1:30-3:30 p.m. - Delridge Community Center Wednesday, May 30, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. - John Stanford Center More details can be found on the Student Assignment Plan page on the district website.

Principal Announcements for 2007-08

An article on the SPS website details principal announcements for 2007-08.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Great story, great school in this article in this morning's Times about a low-income, high non-English speaking school in Auburn. Could SPS learn from this? The best part is the principal's attitude; slow and steady win the race and you need to have fun and high spirits while you do it.

Parents of Disabled Child Win Supreme Court Victory

New ruling from the Supreme court in this article from today's Times. The Supreme Court ruled that a parents does not have to have a lawyer to file a lawsuit against a district in order to fight for services for their disabled child that they feel the district isn't providing. It doesn't mean a parent will win going to court on their own but that they can at least attempt it.

Lakeside article in Crosscut/Seattle Weekly

Well, as if just to prove that issues of race aren't just public school fodder, here is an article by Knute Berger from the on-line 'zine, Crosscuts, that I missed in April. It, in turn, references an excellent article from the Seattle Weekly written by Nina Shapiro. Both are about Lakeside School and its problems with race (seemingly more with faculty than students). I don't know how much there is to discuss but it makes for interesting reading. I know that Lakeside recruits heavily for minority students and finds most of them in public schools. We applied for both our sons to get into Lakeside (yes, even I have considered private school). One got in (but didn't go) and the other didn't. Lakeside is a wonderful school, sort of a mini-Ivy league-looking place, with a rarified air. It has some truly enthusiastic kids (one of the articles makes fun of their overseas trip program but the kids who spoke about it called it life-changing and that their view

High School Rigor

This article was in the NY Times last week and talks about high school rigor (or the lack thereof). It states that in a survey by ACT that only one-fourth of high school students who take a full college prep load end up ready for college. This from the president and CEO of ACT: “What’s shocking about this, is that since ‘A Nation at Risk,’ we have been encouraging students to take this core curriculum with the unspoken promise that when they do, they will be college ready,” she said. “What we have found now, is that when they do, only one in four is ready for college-level work.” And further, "In 1999, Clifford Adelman, then a researcher at the federal Education Department, found that the strength of high school work was the most important factor in determining college success, more than the socioeconomic status of a student’s family." So it is vital that what is being taught, at every high school, be similiarly rigorous and high quality. Two parts of the article str

The Power of Coaching

I used to work with adult literacy, ESL and GED teachers, helping design and facilitate professional development opportunities. Now, I work to design training for the people around the world who answer customers' questions about Adobe software. In both fields, I have seen the power of coaching as a professional development activity. When designed and implemented well, it has transformative power that goes way beyond what is likely to happen from more traditional professional development activities like workshops and lectures. Happily, Rosalind Wise, K-12 math-program manager for Seattle schools, and Governor Christine Gregoire and the legislature seem to agree with me. "Currently, Seattle has five districtwide and 10 school-based math coaches. As more are added in the coming years, "We should see a huge increase in the quality of math instruction," Wise said ...Gov. Christine Gregoire signed legislation May 9 allocating $5.4 million to train a small cadre of 50 math

Two Chances to Share Your Ideas Today

Today is a busy day at Seattle Public Schools. If you want to share your thoughts on the elementary math curriculum adoption or any other issues, you have two chances. Brita Butler-Wall has drop-in office hours at the Honey Bear Bakery in Ravenna from 8 am to 10 am this morning Tonight from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm is the "Meet the new Superintendent" event at the John Stanford Center. I'll miss both of these opportunities. I'm working this morning and then attending a music performance by my children at Pathfinder tonight. But please, please, please ....if you attend these or other district events, e-mail me your notes and I'll share what you have learned with others.

New Public Participation Policy Raises Protest

The Public Participation procedures the Seattle School Board approved in January of this year raised little fuss at the time it was voted on. However, last night at the School Board meeting, people who were unable to testify because of the new priority rules were frustrated enough that they interruped the meeting with a protest. ( Protest delays School Board meeting , PI) I wasn't at the meeting last night, so I don't know what actually happened, but folowing the new policy and procdures, the only people who were given slots on the agenda to testify last night were addressing items on the agenda. Elementary Math Adoption - which had 18 of the 20 people testifying Resolution 2006/07-15: Approval of Local Tax General Obligation Bonds for BEX III which Chris Jenkins signed up to testify about. Amendment to Facilities Master Plan which Maggie Metcalfe signed up to testify about. K-2 Independent Reading Classroom Libraries were also on the agenda last night but no one was s

The Latest From Charleston

This article, Has District Shown Bias ?, was in today's Charleston Post-Courier. From my reading of it, it seems there has been a dispute within the district whether two so-called magnet schools have received equity in resources (types of classes offered and numbers of administrators) and allowing transfers made under NCLB. From the article: "The investigation targets Charleston Progressive Academy and Buist Academy, two kindergarten through eighth-grade schools on the peninsula. Nearly all of Charleston Progressive students are black, and 69 percent of Buist students are white. The district denies the allegations and asserts it is operating Buist's academic program the same way it did when the school opened in 1985. Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson said the district doesn't have a standard for what magnet schools should receive, and she questioned how anyone could accuse the district of discriminating because it lacked that standard. Charleston Progressive

PI story on Carla Santorno

This article was in today's PI. Pretty good press for Carla and I give her credit for staking out a position and following thru.

Textbooks and Curriculum

I got an interesting e-mail message from a blog reader (excerpted below) about textbooks and curriculum. And the Seattle PI has an article on the elementary math curriculum adoption process today that relates to this topic: Uniform school math program sought Denise says: "'s something I'm curious about – textbooks and curriculum. Our third-grade son has attended two different alternative elementary schools, and we have yet to see a single textbook. I assumed this was an alternative school thing, until I learned that one of our friend's daughters, a fourth-grader who has attended two traditional elementary schools in Seattle, also has never had a textbook. I mention this because without textbooks, it's hard as a parent to tell what curriculum / approach is being used to teach reading, math, etc., and knowing how to best build on that approach at home. I remember as a kid finding textbooks to be helpful when reviewing concepts I'd previously studied,

SchoolKids Come First website

I was browsing for one thing on Google and found this group, SchoolKids Come First (yet another group I hadn't heard of). Here's their blurb about their work: "SchoolKidsComeFirst was founded by Dick Lee (Ballard HS ’61) and Rich Carr as an outgrowth of their involvement in and passion for community partnerships and fundraising for all school kids. The site was inspired by a similar venture that has raised over $2 million for New York public schools over the past two years; Dick and Rich believed the Seattle community was just as committed to public education and the future of all their children, and would respond avidly to the opportunity to put their support to active, direct use in the classroom. SchoolKidsComeFirst solicits proposals from teachers throughout the Seattle Public School system. Projects must involve direct student benefits, and must also provide an experience or an opportunity beyond the textbooks and supplies needed for basic education (which School

K-2 libraries

Looking at tomorrow night's Board Agenda there was this Action item: K-2 Independent Reading Classroom Libraries (Student Learning) – the Student Learning Committee recommends approval of this item which would authorize expenditures of $1,388,432 for K-2 independent reading libraries in every K-2 classroom in Seattle Schools. Okay, I know from going through many buildings that not all libraries are created equal. I've seen some really underdeveloped libraries and it puzzles me because I'm not sure why one school would have substantially more books than another. (I know some schools encourage parents to donate a new book in honor of their child's birthday but that can't supply that many more books. I also know that some librarians are more proactive in getting grants to buy books.) I believe that every school has a library time for each class. Are kids going to read more books if they get them from in their classroom? I know some teachers have reading libr

If I were running for the Board

For me, the primary issue in Seattle Public Schools continues to be the District's structural and cultural inability to respond to the needs of the community. So what could a Board member do to fix that? I think the Board could direct the Superintendent to do surveys and other forms of market research. For example, why hasn't the Board asked the Superintendent to make an assessment of the demand for public school services broken down by program and location? How can we even begin to form either a student assignment plan or a facilities plan without that data? There are a number of other surveys that would be helpful, I'm sure. The Board could ask for a public input column on every Board action like they now require a fiscal note. The staff would have to disclose how and when they solicited public input, and the volume and content of what they received. This would create a structural element to support the cultural shift towards gathering public input and getting it early

Washington Appleseed Forum

I had to look up the " Leadership Tomorrow " group as I had never heard of them. It looks like they have been around since at least 1984 as a leadership development group. It looks like they pick people in positions of leadership and help them gain more/new skills. Most of them are business community members. From my perspective, I'm fairly wary what this new group, Washington Appleseed, and Leadership Tomorrow are hoping to accomplish. A few people who attended the Washington Appleseed meet-ups said it seemed they were pushing for appointed school boards. It's worth looking into if only have a good understanding of what is out there. "The Washington Appleseed is having a School Board Forum on Wednesday , May 23, 2007 at 7 pm Location: Downstairs at Town Hall , enter on Seneca Street. The troubled Seattle School District has just hired a new superintendent. Four of seven seats on the school board are up for election this fall. What is the role of the superin

Equity and Race Relations in SPS

So I hadn't gone to this area of the SPS' website in a long time. I was reading another blog where what is in this area was largely railed against by many people. It's hard to know what to say because it's a quilt of many different squares, some of which make sense and others, well, not so much. For example, on the calendar (which the staff takes pains to say they tried really hard to cover everything), I see things that I don't get. One is National Tartan Day for the Scottish. What? And they leave out Ramadan (which is a pretty important, monthlong Islamic tradition). For some of the terms/definitions used, I have a hard time believing both the Superintendent and Board signed off on these. Oddly, Darlene Flynn is quoted but as a "Race and Social Justice Trainer" but not as a Board member. They have many types of professional development opportunities for SPS employees which is great. However, they have one presenter, Sakara Remmu, who has

Board Elections & School District Governance

Starting this week, "Meet-up" discussions about Seattle school district governance are happening around the city, sponsored by Washington Appleseed, Community & Parents for Public Schools Seattle, and Schools First. (see Host a Spring Meet-up and Education Meetups In May ) At the same time, discussions about School Board elections are heating up. (see Who's running for Seattle School Board? , Candidate Forum and School Board Candidate web sites ) I've heard a lot of anti-incumbent rhetoric about the current School Board members, and even indulged in a bit myself at times when I was most frustrated. But I don't think having a large turnover of School Board members every two years is good for our district. I hope that voters do some research and think carefully about which Board members should stay on and which should go. However, since no incumbents have officially announced they are running for re-election, this might be a moot point. Geov Parrish wrote

Student Assignment Plan web site

The District has created a new web site specifically for the review of the Student Assignment Plan. The web site includes information about meetings and events for community participation. The site also claims to offer the same information that is being provided to Board members. So far, the District has scheduled these opportunities for community members to participate in the discussion process about the New Student Assignment Plan: Community Forums: Tuesday, May 22, 6:30 - 8:30 pm Hamilton International Middle School, Auditorium, 1610 North 41st Street Thursday, May 24, 6:30 - 8:30 pm NewHolly Gathering Hall, 7054 32d Avenue South Drop-in Meetings: Wednesday, May 16, 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 pm John Stanford Center, 2445 Third Avenue South, Room 3700 Wednesday, May 23, 6:30 - 8:30 pm Ballard Community Center, 6020 28th Avenue NW Thursday, May 24, 9:00 - 11:00 am Garfield Community Center, 2323 East Cherry Street Thursday, May 24, 1:30 - 3:30 pm Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delr

Roosevelt Waitlist

Just to let you know, I attended our Site Council meeting last night and the Roosevelt waitlist has moved 60-70 places. Better than the 30 they had been at. We asked if they were taking on more students and the answer was no, that they had been making calls to see who was coming for sure and that's how it moved. (Do I necessarily believe that answer? No but that's what was given. ) Roosevelt lets the district know how many spaces they have and the Enrollment office makes the assignments. It's sad because Roosevelt is having problems with non-students coming to Roosevelt to hang out (both students from other schools, dropouts and over 18 slackers). But some of the people, I know, are Roosevelt students. It's sad because so many students (or their parents) want to get in and yet many students just don't show up. Too bad the district couldn't, after 10-15 absences in a quarter, tell parents of those students that they would be transferring their student

A Blog from Charleston about the Superintendent

This is a link to a blog that appears in the Post-Courier in Charleston.

Candidate Forum

This from another blog: THE 46TH DISTRICT DEMOCRATS WILL HOLD A SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATE FORUM AT OLYMPIC VIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL THURSDAY, MAY 17TH AT 6:30 (SOCIAL) 7:00 PROGRAM. OLYMPIC VIEW IS LOCATED AT N.E.95TH STREET AND 8TH AVE N.E. Too bad it is the same night as the Superintendent meet and greet. It seems like the meet and greet would be a great opportunity for candidates to meet the public. I'm a little torn which one to go to on the 17th.

Op-Ed in Seattle PI

" Putting Trust Back in Seattle Schools " is the title of an op-ed in the PI this morning by Betty Hoagland (former Seattle Council PTSA president and now president of Schools First) and Lisa MacFarlane (longtime public education activist). Schools First did a survey, in late 2006 (anybody participate?) about Seattle schools asking parents and voters. There are various piecharts for five questions (it is unclear if only 5 were asked but I don't see a link to the survey so probably). One thing that is interesting is that no matter what the district or Board say, people still think we have financial problems. (78% of all voters have a negative belief and 86% of parents have a negative belief.) But the piechart says "budgeting and handling of finances" so I'm not sure if that means people believe we are solvent (the district says we are in the black) or if people agree with how things are being done to manage finances (i.e. school closures will save m