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Showing posts from June, 2007

High school credit for courses taken in middle school

I recognize that there are only a few thousand students with this problem, and that the content is likely to get very legal and technical. My daughter, along with a number of other students, took an Integrated I math class at Washington Middle School this past year. Integrated I is a high school level math course. Washington offers Integrated I, Integrated II and Integrated III. So does Eckstein. Hamilton and a number of other schools offer Integrated I, as it is the math class that Spectrum students typically take in the 8th grade. According to State Law, RCW 28A.230.090 , " (4) If requested by the student and his or her family, a student who has completed high school courses before attending high school shall be given high school credit which shall be applied to fulfilling high school graduation requirements if: (b) The academic level of the course exceeds the requirements for seventh and eighth grade classes and the course would qualify for high school credit, bec

Supreme Court Rejects Use of Racial Tiebreaker, 5-4

The Supreme Court today struck down both Louisville, Kentucky and Seattle's use of race in their school assignment plans (as presented to the Court). The vote was 5-4 down the conservative versus liberal lines with Justice Kennedy being the swing vote. Here's the article from the Times. Justice Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion: "Yet Justice Anthony Kennedy would not go as far as the other four conservative justices, saying in a concurring opinion that race may be a component of school district plans designed to achieve diversity. To the extent that Roberts' opinion can be interpreted to foreclose the use of race in any circumstance, Kennedy said, "I disagree with that reasoning." He agreed with Roberts that the plans in Louisville and Seattle violated constitutional guarantees of equal protection." Justice Kennedy leaves the door open to carefully crafting an enrollment policy that uses race as a factor but, of course, the devil is in the det

Inequities and solutions

There are inequities - both perceived and real - between schools. Let's face it, anything separate is inherently unequal. While we must accept this non-uniformity, we want our schools to be equivalent, or, barring that, we want them all to be at least adequate. I think that "Every School a Great School" is a wonderful goal, but I think we should start with "Every School an Adequate School" and work up from there. So what are the inequities? In elementary school I think they are class size, access to enrichment (arts, field trips, etc.), and access to challenging curricula. More than that, there is a serious concern that some schools are not setting and maintaining sufficiently high expectations for students. In middle school they are essentially the same: access to music and arts, access to challenging curricula, and, at some schools, low expectations. In high school, again, they are the same. Are there other significant inequities that we need to address?

Alleged Assault at RBHS

I had read about this incident a couple of days ago and wasn't going to post on it but now a criminal investigation has been launched and the boys expelled (somewhat after the fact). Basically a girl alleges that a boy was harassing her during class (verbally and putting hands on her), that the class ended and he followed her into the hall, continuing the harassing and finally pulling her into a boys' bathroom where he assaulted her while another boy stood guard. It was reported to the school later that day by the girl and an unnamed adult. The school did not notify the police and it is unclear if they told the district. The boys were initially expelled for 3 days. The district has clear-cut rules on criminal behavior and yet the principal did not call the police. Of course, the girl and her family could have but may have thought telling the school administration would trigger that. What is also odd is that when the boy touched her in class, why didn't she go to he

The Times: They Just Can't Help Themselves

Not content to wait a couple of weeks until their endorsements, the Times' editorial board has come out with yet another piece bewailing our current board. They promise "this page will parse the roles and qualifications of elected boards through a series of editorials." Oh boy. They claim that with this Board that Raj was "just a vote or two" away from firing. Brita could weigh in but I do not believe that was ever the case. At a couple of points they might have thought about not renewing his contract but that's different from firing. I think the Board thought the time had come to move on when Phase 2 of closures and consolidations was so badly botched. But I don't think there was strife or animosity between the Board and Raj and the Times seems to make it sound like there was. And, once again, they try to compare the Board of Regents at UW with the School Board. I'll bet they are very different in their goals and processes but it just

Vouchers Win Praise by Parents, not by Kids

This article , in the NY Times last Friday, certainly does raise a lot of questions about the federally mandated voucher program in Washington, D.C. Here's an overview in quotes from the article: "A Republican-controlled Congress established the voucher program, for Grades K through 12, in 2004. Over the last three years it has provided scholarships of up to $7,500 annually to cover tuition, fees and transportation expenses for each of about 1,800 poor children to attend private school. About 90 percent of the participating students have been African-American, and an additional 9 percent Hispanic, according to the Congressionally mandated study. The results were eagerly awaited, because studies of similar programs elsewhere, in cities including Cleveland, Milwaukee and Dayton, had not produced definitive conclusions about whether vouchers significantly increased the academic achievement of students who previously attended public schools." However: "Students who p

Leeway in Lesson Plans

This lengthy article appeared in today's Seattle Times. It's a discussion about uniform lesson plans, teaching order of subjects, etc. Many quotes from Carla Santorno and Mike Riley (Superintendent in Bellevue). Among them, "Locally, the Bellevue School District appears to manage its lessons the most. In some subjects it has a long list of required lessons, one for nearly every day. Other districts, to varying degrees, are standardizing instruction as well. In Seattle, for example, Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno hopes that a U.S. government or calculus class at Ballard High eventually will use the same syllabus as one at Franklin or Roosevelt or Sealth. The goal is to provide students with the same academic experiences, regardless of their teacher or school." And later on, "Locally, the Bellevue School District appears to manage its lessons the most. In some subjects it has a long list of required lessons, one for nearly every day. Other districts

What Should a High School Grad Know?

On Tuesday from 9-10 am KUOW's Weekday show will air a program about graduation requirements. 9 - 10 AM: What Should A High School Graduate Know? "The state board of education is grappling with new high school graduation requirements. They are looking at what makes for a meaningful diploma. Among their criteria - they believe that a high school graduate should meet or exceed the standard on core subject areas; be able to think critically and logically; know how to learn continuously; and be able to apply learning in practical and work settings. But how do you turn these ideas into actions? What should students have to know to graduate? What would make the diploma a student receives more meaningful?" They normally list their guests but didn't here; I assume they are not set yet. You can always listen to the show after it airs by going to their website at kuow.org.

School Capacity

Roy Smith brought up an interesting issue on the tail of another thread but I thought it deserved its own. What is the capacity size at any given building? Would we want schools full to capacity? In my work on the CAC (and later on), I found that Facilities uses different capacity numbers. It's quite puzzling. There are different factors in determing capacity like teaching stations (actual classrooms), special ed rooms, a teachers' area, etc. What I saw on the CAC is that when a school was underenrolled, many schools found uses for their extra space and were loath to give it up. I get that (especially in older buildings that weren't designed to have an art room as many new buildings do have) but the extra rooms have to do more than be storage or extra room for art projects. The district doesn't help by publishing/stating different capacity numbers (depending on the issue they are speaking on). We need realistic numbers that do not change (unless a new progra

Thanks Linda

Today was the final day for Linda Thomas' fun and interesting education blog at the Seattle PI. Thanks to Linda for a great forum and her charming off-the-cuff takes on life. This leaves an opening there if someone might want to continue an education blog at the PI. Anyone? This being the last day of school (and as Linda has alerted us to in our kids' yearbooks), HAGS to all. (Have a Great Summer.)

Hey, Wait a Minute, I was #5

Well, according to this study first-borns are smarter than their sibs. "The study of 240,000 Norwegian men in the journal Science found the IQs of firstborns were two to three points higher than those of younger siblings. While that may not sound like much, experts said even a few IQ points can make a big difference over a lifetime and set firstborns on a trajectory for success. University of California, Berkeley, researcher Frank Sulloway, who wrote a commentary accompanying the study, said two to three IQ points could translate to an added 20 to 30 points on an SAT college-entrance exam." and this, "The findings suggested the mechanism behind the birth-order effect is not biological but related to social interactions within families. He surmised older children are showered with attention early in life and treated as leaders within the family. They are handed more responsibility after siblings are born and live with higher expectations from their parents. Sp

Great Story, Great Teacher

This article about a teacher at Issaquah High School and his experiment was great. He teaches the kids, in action, about physics AND helps them see the practical uses of the experiment (and, that you could possibly make money from it). Good for him.

Ballard High Tennis Coach Fired

Ballard High School's girls' tennis coach got fired (he wasn't a teacher there). I wasn't surprised because if you had read the Seattle Weekly article on him and his team, you could see it coming. First, this one of the longest, weirdest articles I have ever read in the Weekly. I kept waiting for a point but basically, it was a New-Age coach and his team of what seemed to be whiny, less-than-competitive girls. Second, I came away thinking it was very odd but maybe this is how coaching is today. But mostly I was troubled about how the relationship between the coach and the girls came across. So I visit the Weekly website today and find out that the coach got fired. I'm not sure I believe he should have been fired. I'm not sure he did anything wrong except read somewhat inappropriate poems to the girls. A brief blurb about the firing appeared in the sports section of the Times on Wednesday.

Town Hall forum (Revisited)

I finally got around to viewing the video of the Town Hall meeting in late May with panelists discussing the School Board. I was alternately amused, amazed and annoyed. I'm going to note a couple of interesting comments and then bring it around to why it's valid to revisit it. -Dean Wasley of UW clearly likes the idea of appointed boards. She likes that over in Bellevue things are steady and sound. She's right on that point and it's worth looking into how the relationship between Superintendent Riley and his Board works and what makes it work. I wonder if any of the SB candidates have looked into this. But then she went on to explain that if a Board member is stepping down, the member steps down BEFORE the election to allow the Board to select the someone to fill out their term (and thus giving that new person a huge "in" come election time). That's handy if you are a Board that only wants a certain type of person on your Board. Cathy Allen, a pol

Neighborhood Schools: Separate but Equal?

I’m troubled by the prospect that the new assignment policy framework is to some extent a 21st Century version of “ Separate but Equal .” Can we thoughtfully discuss the ways in which that might or might not be the case? The blindness of privilege makes this issue particularly difficult to address. If you happen to live in a neighborhood with a great school that has space for you, and has plenty of human and financial resources to devote to that school, of course the “neighborhood school” concept is fantastic. However, it may be extremely difficult for you to empathize with someone who doesn’t have the same choice. For those of you who are in a relatively privileged position, I urge you to ask yourself if you would send your child to an underperforming school with the hope that you could successfully make it work for your child. Or perhaps your child or family has needs nearby schools can’t fulfill. Would you send your child to those schools anyway? If you think you would, try readi

Merit Pay for Teachers

"This article makes clear that many states are considering merit pay for teachers and teachers' unions are supporting it as long as they are part of the process and it isn't just administrator picked. ere in Minneapolis, for instance, the teachers’ union is cooperating with Minnesota ’s Republican governor on a plan in which teachers in some schools work with mentors to improve their instruction and get bonuses for raising student achievement. John Roper-Batker, a science teacher here, said his first reaction was dismay when he heard his school was considering participating in the plan in 2004. “I wanted to get involved just to make sure it wouldn’t happen,” he said. But after learning more, Mr. Roper-Batker said, “I became a salesman for it.” He and his colleagues have voted in favor of the plan twice by large margins. Minnesota’s $86 million teacher professionalization and merit pay initiative has spread to dozens of the state’s school districts, and it got a lift this

Calming the Mind

I love this idea and wish we could try it here. The article describes different ways of calming children throughout the day and helping them find ways to calm themselves. (I remember this from baby books about trying to help babies learn to comfort themselves if they woke up in the night and thus being about to fall asleep on their own.) I believe we live in a busy, go, go world that gets easily impressed on our children, from teachers trying to cover test material to parents trying to fit everything in. We have a noisy life with beeps, buzzes, sounds coming from every direction. Five minutes out of the day to calm the mind might be a good thing.

Paying for Progress

This interesting article is from the NY Times. NYC is experimenting with paying students to do well. "Under his plan, fourth-grade students will receive up to $25 for a perfect score on each of 10 standardized tests throughout the year. Seventh-grade students will be able to earn twice as much — $50 per test, for a total of up to $500. Fourth graders will receive $5 just for taking the test, and seventh graders will get $10. Officials expect up to 40 schools to participate this fall, with a total of 9,000 students, in the pilot phase of the program, which will be monitored by Professor Fryer. After two years, they said, they will evaluate it for possible expansion. Principals in the system’s empowerment initiative — who have more autonomy to run their schools — can choose to join the program. Similar, smaller programs for cash incentives to raise schoolchildren’s performance have been put in place elsewhere in the country. In Chelsea, Mass., for instance, students can receive $

What is and is not an alternative school?

Okay! Have at it!

Deferred elements of the new Student Assignment Plan

The New Student Assignment Plan has been sketched out. We're all pretty familiar with the features as the lines are getting inked in: * Right-sized elementary school reference areas - matching the student population size with the school building capacity * Default assignment to a reference area elementary school * Guaranteed enrollment to a reference area elementary school * Continued choice in elementary schools * Elementary school transportation limited to clusters * Clusters reduced in size to cut transporation distances * Single middle school reference areas * Middle school reference areas aligned with elementary school reference areas (feeder patterns) * Default assignment to a reference area middle school * Guaranteed enrollment to a reference area middle school * Continued choice in middle schools * Middle school transportation limited to reference area school * High school transportation by METRO * Continued choice in high schools Also written, but not as darkly: * Sing

School Board candidate questionnaire...

Once again, Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle ( www.cppsofseattle.org ) is putting together a questionnaire for School Board candidates. Here is the link to the one we did last election: www.cppsofseattle.org/candidates.htm . The goal of the questionnaire is to educate voters, so we're looking for questions that address important issues and differentiate the candidates. We'd love to get your input. Got a question you think all candidates should answer? Let us know by leaving a comment here, or if you prefer, you can send ideas to kerry@cppsofseattle.org . Please respond by next week (6/26) since we need time to assemble it all in advance of the primary. Thanks!

School Assignment Plan Vote Tomorrow

The School Board will be voting on the revised School Assignment plan tomorrow night at the Board meeting at 6 pm at the Stanford Center. Today on Crosscut, former Seattle School Board member Dick Lilly has an interesting article about the proposal: Seattle's contradictory school-assignment proposal .

The Hall Monitor blog

Here's a link to the Partnership for Learning's blog, The Hall Monitor , that has links to many education stories. For example, this from an article following analysis of what happens after students after they graduate in Oklahoma and Florida: "As more states follow Oklahoma 's lead, there will be more measures to choose from. Some states have already connected their education data systems to databases containing information about employment, welfare, and public safety. In addition to tracking students into college, the Florida Department of Education 3 publishes, for each high school, statistics such as: The percent of high school graduates working in Florida on a full-time and/or part-time basis the autumn after graduation Average hourly earnings of employed graduates, as well as the percent of employed graduates with earnings meeting certain hourly wage thresholds The percent of graduates working for the federal government The percent of graduates enlisted i

School Board Candidates

A blog reader sent me some additional contact information for the upcoming School Board races which I have listed below. I've put the districts which are at play in the primary first: District 2 and District 6. That is where I'm going to focus my research and attention first as I learn more about the candidates. I can't imagine that candidates without a website will be competitive. But, then again, a candidate like David Blomstrom would actually do better without one. If you have additional contact information, like websites which are not currently listed, let me know. I've posted a link to this post at the right so that people can return to this page to contact School Board candidates between now and the election. ********************************************** Primary Election: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 Election Day: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 ********************************************** SPS District 2 North Seattle --- Primary Election Sherry Carr (206) 9

Crosswalks and Kids on Metro

This question was in the Getting There section in the PI (which answers traffic questions). It has relevance to the district's move to Metro for all high schoolers (and perhaps, eventually, middle school). The part of the answer that is telling (the question is about crosswalks at Ingraham High School): "Della, separately responding to Collier, said current city policy is for painting crosswalks around elementary schools and not near middle schools or high schools. Hirakawa says this is based on middle and high school students' better understanding of traffic dangers. Della said he'll ask about the pros and cons of adding middle and high schools and work on the issue with the council's Special Committee on Pedestrian Safety." Well, the kids may be older and understand the dangers but I wouldn't say that makes them less likely to take chances. Dropoing an e-mail to members of the City Council on this issue might be a good idea. If the district

Troubled Teens Find Help to Graduate

This is an important story by Jessica Blanchard of the PI in today's issue. Not many people know about Interagency or how it works. The point of schools like John Marshall and Interagency is that they are second (or third) chance places for kids in impossible situations (not just troublemaking teens). It takes a special kind of teacher to be at these schools. Their success rates, their WASL scores are not the point. The point is that they are making the effort to help kids make slow, steady progress that help them see they can be successful. Sometimes life is measured in small everyday victories.

Peter Maier

I'm very troubled by Peter Maier's campaign for School Board. On his web site he says that he 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. " Unfortunately, he doesn't really have any plan or, if elected, any means for fulfilling any of these promises. No supporting details appear anywhere on his web site. How will the Board assure that every student has an

Mystery Board sessions

Just took a look at the Board calendar for June and found these items for June 27th: Public Hearing, Director District Changes 5:45pm - 6:00pm Public Hearing, 2007/08 Budgets 6:00pm - 7:00pm I'm wondering if the Board Director District changes are for boundaries. Seems odd, given that the assignment boundaries would still have to be redrawn. Wouldn't you want to do the assignment boundaries before the director boundaries. Brita I'm not sure I remember a public hearing on the budgets so late in the year. Anyway, something to put on your radar should you be interested in attending.

Dads in the Halls

This article appeared in today's Times about a program at Franklin High School to encourage fathers to check out their student's school. I think most of us know that women tend to be more of the faces in the halls at most schools. It happens, it's our society, it's our culture and it's not a slam on dads (especially on Father's Day - shout out to all the dads!). Parental participation (and appearance) drops off a lot in middle and high school. It's likely a combo of burn-out (parents tend to give their all in elementary school - don't let this happen to you because you will be needed on down the line), kids trying to push you away (again - completely ignore their cries because your chances of crossing paths while working at your child's middle/high school are slim to none and they will ignore you anyway) and it is sometimes less obvious about how to help. There are lots of ways to help at these levels that (1) don't involve actually bein

Late Start; Coming to a School Near You

This brief was in the Times today. Renton adds planning time for teachers "Renton students will be able to sleep in most Fridays under a measure that gives teachers and staff 90-minute planning and development periods on 30 Fridays during the school year. The School Board passed the measure Wednesday evening, despite concerns from parents who say the late arrival system will create a burden for children in child care. Renton students now arrive late or leave early every other Tuesday, depending on their grade level. Renton says it will investigate ways to lighten the burden for parents whose children are in day care. The district is talking to nonprofit groups that could provide morning day care to schools. "A lot of the responsibility will fall on parents to find accommodations," said Randy Matheson, spokesman for the district. The additional days are intended to give faculty and staff more time to develop courses, receive training and align curriculum." This is

Foreign Language Instruction for Elementary Students

FYI from the district: Seattle Public Schools, through a foreign-language assistance grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is offering four fun-filled foreign language summer camps for elementary school students beginning July 2. The summer camps will offer the following languages: Chinese, Korean, Arabic and Farsi. To register for the Chinese or Korean language camps or for more information on registration fees, contact Betty Lau at (206) 252-6211 after 1:40 p.m. To register for the Arabic or Farsi language camps, visit the Web site at www.cultural.org/wlp/ or contact Maka Janikashvili at (206) 217-9644. Summer Language Camp Chinese or Korean , K-4th grade 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., July 2-13 Mercer Middle School 1600 S. Columbian Way Summer Language Camp Arabic , ages 6-12 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 2-13 Farsi , K-4th grade 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Northgate Elementary School 11725 1st Ave. N.E.

School District Facilities Management

Because it involves so much money, and because it has been handled so poorly in the past, any piece of news about how the school district is handling property and buildings interests me. A recent article from the Ballard News Tribune, Tenants Have One Year to Buy School Buildings , provides details about the June 6th School Board vote in which "Five facilities, including the Crown Hill School (Small Faces Child Development Center) and Webster School (Nordic Heritage Museum), were assigned surplus status." According to the School Board agenda, 10 people testified on this topic, including Maggie Metcalfe, Chris Jackins and Gordon MacDougall. The meeting minutes aren't up on the website yet. Anyone who testified or attended the Board meeting willing to share what you heard? The details are spelled out on the district website in the Board agenda: Amendment to Facilities Master Plan (Finance) – The Finance Committee recommends approval of this item which would change the d

Contentious School Principal Assignments

The school principal hiring decisions at Aki Kurose and the African American Academy have incensed many parents. Parents left fuming at South End principal choices (Seattle Times) I have conflicted feelings about this story. On the one hand, inauthentic public/parental involvement really incenses me, so I completely sympathize with the Aki Kurose parent, Sharon Dodson's statement: "Basically it was a waste of our time for you to tell us that you want our input, and then you turn around and just slap us in the face." But I also appreciate Carla Santorno's statement that "We tried to divorce ourselves from, you know, the political piece, and make a decision that serves students and perhaps not all the adults." What's impossible to know from the outside and in advance of these new principals beginning their work, is whether or not these were really good decisions that serve students well. So, for me, because Seattle Public Schools doesn't have a goo

School Assignment Plan discussion on KUOW Tomorrow

Tomorrow on KUOW's Weekday at 9 am, Cheryl Chow and Michael DeBell will be talking with Marcie Sillman about the proposed changes to the school assignment plan. Call (206) 543-5869, (800) 289-5869, or e-mail weekday@kuow.org to join in the discussion. If you miss the broadcast in the morning, you can listen to it later by visiting the Weekday page on the web.

Advanced Learning Issues

There is some weird stuff going on in Advanced Learning. The programs are without a manager and have been for a couple months now. Aside from the management questions about who is giving the programs direction and supervision, how will the District account for the state grant money that is supposed to be spent on the program Manager's salary? The District has been very slack for years about accounting for this grant and how it is spent. I know that some of it supposedly goes to pay for a part of the program manager's salary, but there is no program manager, so how is that money being spent? This is categorical funding from the state; the District is prohibited from spending it on anything else. Despite repeated requests all year, the APP Advisory Committee has never seen a department budget. No one outside the District staff - including the Board - has any idea how the District is spending the grant. From a supervisory perspective, the lack of a program manager isn't such

Radio Report/Interview

This story on School Board candidates aired on KIRO 710AM News on Friday. The link appears on their podcast page http://www.kiro710.com/getpodcast.aspx?sid=7912&lid=3017&id=419858&source=1&url=http://sea.bonnint.net/2007/0607indepth.mp3

Candidate Filing has Closed

This is the FINAL list Director District No. 1 The candidates for this race will not appear on the Primary ballot. These candidates will move directly onto the General Election ballot Sally Soriano 14051 1ST AVE NW SEATTLE WA, 98177 Sally@SallySoriano.org SallySoriano.org (206) 782-8292 Peter Maier 1300 HOGE BLDG SEATTLE WA, 98104 plmaier@aol.com (206) 623-2800 Director District No. 2 Patrick Kelley 9216 WOODLAWN AVE N SEATTLE WA, 98103 pakman60@hotmail.com (206) 300-0200 Darlene Flynn 706 N 87TH ST SEATTLE WA, 98103 flynn4kids@hotmail.com Lisa C. Stuebing PO BOX 31258 SEATTLE WA, 98103 lisa@stuebingforschools.org (206) 524-6788 Sherry Carr PO BOX 30696 SEATTLE WA, 98113 sherry@carr4kids.com carr4kids.com (206) 914-6790 Courtney Hill 813 N 44TH ST A SEATTLE WA, 98103 courtneyhill@gaggle.net (206) 288-9818 Director District No. 3 The candidates for this race will not appear on the Primary ballot. These candidates will move directly onto the General Election

Darlene Flynn is Running for Re-election

This article from the PI this morning. There are now 4 candidates for the District 2 position. Darlene is either incredibly tone-deaf or smart like a fox. Tone-deaf because as many here have stated, she virtually never returns phone calls or e-mails and doesn't have community meetings. I find Darlene bright and passionate but I have also seen (again, as others have noted) her sneer at staff in public meetings or break into tears. It doesn't create a lot of good will or faith towards her. But she could be smart like a fox because now she is in a 4-way race for the primary vote and she's the sitting incumbent. She may believe that she'll come out ahead in the voting because of name recognization. The problem for her is that at least 2 of the candidates are bright and qualified (Lisa Stuebing and Sherry Carr - I don't know anything about David Kelley) and she may just get shut out in the primary. But it should make for some good forums.

West Seattle HS Parents Take On 4-Period Day

I had heard about this issue from a West Seattle parent (who had contacted me about Roosevelt's late-start days which West Seattle, Franklin, Roosevelt and Hale were having under a DOE grant that ended this year). This week's West Seattle Herald features a story and an editorial about this issue. The editorial argues for changing from a 4 to a 6 period day which is what most high schools have in SPS. What is striking is how differently the parents and the district see the issue. One point that should be closely watched is what the Board's charge to the Steering Committee was versus a new "clarification" letter that Carla Santorno sent them. You cannot change, midstream, a basic charge and, if what the parents say is true based on what they were given by the Board and by Carla, this needs some clarification from the Board. It is true that there is a certain number of seat hours a student has to have in order to get their high school credits. WSHS has bee

Lynne Varner's Opinion Piece on TAF

Today's Times also had an opinion piece by Lynne Varner about TAF. She had attended a 10th anniversary breakfast for TAF which Carla Santorno attended. Ms. Varner talked about the irony of TAF's successes and yet it is making few in-roads with the district. Maybe Dr. Goodloe-Johnson will want to take this on in order to help a school (like AAA) that is struggling and/or the new Board will write a policy about public/private partnerships that will kick-start some of these efforts. They will, of course, need to keep in mind that we want to keep the public in public schools but be willing to work with those with new ideas.

New Student Assignment Plan Process is Good

Congratuations to Seattle Public Schools, and the Board in particular, for addressing Student Assignment. The District is making a clear and rational effort to match the use of facilities with the demand for facilities. This is a truly wonderful thing and the Board and the District staff are to be congratulated and thanked for making this effort. The work that Tracy Libros has been doing has been both very important and very good. She has genuinely invited the public to participate in the conversation, and the public input is clearly reflected in the framework document. The data that she and her colleagues have generated is meaningful to the process and she has been very open about sharing it. The right-sizing of the elementary school reference areas is long overdue and very welcome. It has been goofy to tell 550 students that a 300 student building is their neighborhood reference school. We must all be very pleased that these mismatches will be fixed. People should have confidence t

NCLB Aiding Test Scores?

This may be true according to an article in today's Times. It says that, according to test results, the achievement gap may be narrowing and student achievement is rising. From the article, "Conclusions were drawn from states that administered comparable tests for at least three years. Gaps in the data meant that not all states were included in evaluations of certain subjects and grade levels. The study found that gains tended to be larger in math than in reading and larger at the elementary level than in middle and high school." Comparable tests? There's 50 different tests so I'd like to know if some states mimic each other and so can be called comparable tests. Also, the last sentence reenforces what we see in the WASL results, namely, rising scores in reading and writing at the elementary levels. Again from the article: "The study also found that 14 of 38 states with sufficient data showed shrinking gaps in reading scores between black and white s

Candidate Forums

The 34th District Democrats will be hosting a candidate's forum on Wednesday, June 13 at 7:00 at The Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California Avenue SW (across from the YMCA) Any others? These events may be our only chances to get real answers to real questions from a number of the candidates. Questions to ask School Board candidates: In specific and concrete terms, what action do you want to take as a School Board Director? What action will you take as a School Board Director to support academic achievement for every student in every school? What action will you take as a School Board Director to close the academic achievement gap? What action will you take as a School Board Director to make the District more responsive to the community? What action will you take as a School Board Director to assure equitable access to quality programs? What action will you take as a School Board Director to improve the institutional culture at Seattle Public Schools? There is a lot of talk

Web site for Steve Sundquist

Here is the candidate web site for Steve Sundquist Like most everyone else, the web site does not describe anything specific that Mr. Sundquist intends to do or change as a member of the Board. It says that he is running "to bring strategic focus, a strong academic program for all schools, team play, and long-term fiscal health and accountability to the District." He gives no indication of how he hopes to do any of those things. How will he, as a Board member, bring a strategic focus to the District? Isn't that the Superintendent's job? What is a "strategic focus"? It sounds like an oxymoron. Strategy indicates something broad and global; focus indicates something narrow and detailed. Is he saying that the District is missing the forest for the trees and needs to focus on the forest? What is he saying? How will he, as a Board member, take a role in building a strong academic program at High Point? Isn't that the job of the Principal and teachers? W

Candidate Updates From Linda Thomas Blog

Here are the Seattle School Board candidates who filed for office Monday, June 4th: Director District No. 1 Peter Maier Director District No. 2 Patrick Kelley Lisa Stuebing Director District No. 3 No candidates have filed for this position as of the last update. :( Director District No. 6 Steve Sundquist Danaher M. Dempsey Jr. I'm not sure who Mr. Kelley is; anybody? You can Google his name but it's pretty common so I can't be sure. Mr. Dempsey is a math teacher at West Seattle high School and is on the state Board of Education math advisory panel. Good for both of them for stepping up. Sally Soriano, Sherry Carr and Harium Martin-Morris have yet to file although they have announced that they are running. Linda is generously offering each candidate a day at her blog to post information about themselves. Lisa Stuebing was first up yesterday and Sherry Carr is there today. I thought Lisa was clear in her focus and she has been one of the few people t

Framework for Revised Student Assignment Plan

On Wednesday evening the Board willintroduce a motion to approve the Framework for a Revised Student Assignment Plan . This is an interesting document. Here are a couple of intriguing points in it: Elementary school reference areas will be re-drawn to align with student population residing in each area and the building capacity. What number will they use for student population? The current public school population or the schoolage children population? What building capacity number will they use? There are a number of building capacity numbers for every school. None of them appear reliable or credible. Let's see these numbers before they act on them. How will school programs such as bilingual, special education and Spectrum be treated? Will each school be expected to provide these services for the students living in their reference area or will the District reserve seats for these programs that draw students from several reference areas? It isn't addressed, but it is a big

Candidate Filing this week

Candidate filing opens today and closes on Friday, June 8. Anyone wishing to run for School Board needs to file this week. There are four Board seats up for election this year: District I, North Seattle. This seat is now held by Sally Soriano. She has announced that she will be seeking re-election. There is one other announced candidate for this seat, Peter Maier. District II, North Seattle. This seat is now held by Darlene Flynn. She has yet to announce whether she will be seeking re-election. The announced candidates for this seat include Sherry Carr and Lisa Stuebing. District III, North Seattle. This seat is now held by Brita Butler-Wall. She has announced that she will not be seeking re-election. The only announced candidate for this seat is Harium Martin-Morris. District VI, West Seattle. This seat is now held by Irene Stewart. She has announced that she will not be seeking re-election. The only announced candidate for this seat is Steve Sundquist. I am deeply concerne

Interesting Ideas for Middle School

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Yet another good profile in the NY Times about a middle school. It is a small school (about 400) and scores in the top 10% in their state scores. What's innovative or different about them: -extra set of books so kids have one set at home and one at school (it does make a difference but I don't know how they manage the costs) -smartboards instead of blackboards. I support this in middle and high school. In my husband's class at UW, they have some prototypes of handsets that are connected to the smartboard and so the prof can ask for answers to a question (anonymously submitted) and see where students are. Are they understanding the problem? Are there similiar errors? Many of the students have said they are more likely to give an answer if it is done anonymously than if they have to raise their hand and be wrong in front of others. This might be one more thing coming in the use of smartboards Their most basic idea; motivational sayings. Sixteen of them to be exac

Shhh, Please...We're Graduating

This is a tough subject for an article (but I think this district went way over the top). You'll all get there someday (if you haven't already). My son's graduation was fairly dignified, just clapping and yays. I can't imagine someone bringing an air horn. My sister told me her daughter's college graduation was marred when some people behind her screamed so loudly it frightened her because she thought something was wrong. It's hard because it is a once in a lifetime event and you feel very proud of your child but one person's celebration is another person's annoyance (been to a movie lately?).

Schools Deep-Pocketed Partners

This utterly fascinating article from the NY Times covers many issues in private giving. I almost don't know where to start. I'll just say that I always wished the Alliance for Education had turned out differently. I thought it was either going to be a fundraising arm for the district or something like what is described in this article, a foundation to oversee giving. I'm not sure I fully understand (despite having read the Alliance's website) how they pick their focus and much the district is involved. Maybe I can get an interview with their new leader (I'm not a journalist, of course, but as an involved parent and blogger maybe he might want to spread the word of what the Alliance's focus and goals are).