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Showing posts from July, 2007

An Interview With Dr. Goodloe-Johnson

This interview appeared on July 18th in the Seattle Medium. Of note, this section about special education: "Submersing herself into the realities that exist for others is nothing new to Goodloe-Johnson. Upon graduating from high school she was torn between going to school for psychology and teaching so she decided to participate in a summer work experience program — where she stayed in a mental institution for a weekend as she pretended to be a non-verbal, wheelchair-bound patient whose hands were bandaged because she supposedly had a history of hurting herself. “At that time they still had institutions for youth who were mentally challenged,” recalled Goodloe-Johnson. “No one knew that you (the students who participated in the program) weren’t supposed to be there except for the head nurse.” The experience wasn’t pleasant for her at the time, but the impact that it would have on her life and life’s work help set the stage for where she is today, as it motivated her to bec

The Racial Tiebreaker Lawsuit (Let's Have This Be the Last Word)

Okay, I can tell by the Open Thread that there is a lot of simmering unhappiness over the racial tiebreaker lawsuit. What's done is done (but we also need to keep some institutional memory about this and not gloss over it in the future). On the one hand, I admire those parents who brought the lawsuit. As a person who has personally stuck up for what she believes in, I get their passion. I think a lot of people who are education activists started out working for their children, got involved and it becomes a larger issue. I had a disagreement with how TAF handled their Rainier Beach outreach and the TAF founder, Trish Dziko, and I sat down and talked. Guess what? We had more in common and had more common ground than either of us thought. People of good faith do find ways to do that. I do admire the parents for their passion and willingness to stick it out. However, I will point out a couple of things that still remain despite the outcome of the Supreme Court decision. 1

Seattle Center and District Holdings

I missed this interesting article from The Stranger in July. It's a discussion about what should be done with the Seattle Center. I particularly liked the comparisons of how much land there is versus other parks worldwide. Of particular note is how much the land at Memorial Stadium is worth (somewhere between $50-60M) . I'm not of a mind to sell it - it was created as a memorial and just because time passes it doesn't make it less so - but is it being used to its best i.e. lots of use and/or lots of profit for such a prime spot owned by the district? Because of the shortage of high school fields with stands, I believe it gets used a lot for high school football games in the fall and an occasional concert for Bumbershoot, etc. Any thought?

New Tool for SPS

This article appeared in today's Times. It's about a new on-line tool called L3RN: "Similar to YouTube, the popular Internet video-sharing Web site, L3RN (pronounced simply "learn") is touted as a tool for professional development of teachers, allowing teachers in different schools to discuss ideas and upload lesson plans and other information. But for students, it means they can comment on their peers' work and also show off their projects to their parents. According to Hale's Advanced Placement students, it also has proved to be a lot of fun." Also from the article: "Though many parts of L3RN are available to the public, at www.l3rn.com , only teachers can post to the site. They can designate certain files as private, so only other teachers and students can see them. To comment on students' work, visitors must have a login name and a password from the school district." "The district gets the software free, and Hale estimates

PI Endorses in Districts 2 and 6

The PI's endorsements for the primary races in Districts 2 and 6 appeared in Sunday's edition. (Since the other two races already have two challengers each, they don't endorse those races until the general election.) They have endorsed Darlene Flynn and Sherry Carr for District 2 and Steve Sundquist and Maria Ramirez in District 6. After listening to all the candidates (who showed up) on KUOW and at the audio of the PI's interviews, I agree. I had hoped Lisa Stuebing in District 2 would have been a stronger candidate. She is bright and has clearly thought a lot about issues and solutions but she is scattered in her reasoning and cannot stay focused on a question. It might be because she has so much she wants to say that she's trying to get everything out there at once. While I think Darlene is bright and knowledgable, she is also very hard on staff (the PI put it as "sometimes pointed in her questioning of staff") and is not accessible to paren

Open Thread

As requested, an open thread post. Fire away, rant, question, give advice or speak your mind on any education-related topic.

A Brave Op-Ed in the PI

From the PI this morning, this op-ed by John Burbank, head of the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle. (From their website : "The Economic Opportunity Institute develops new public policies to create ladders for low-income people to move into the middle class and to plug holes so that middle-class families do not fall into poverty. EOI is an activist, progressive, and majoritarian institute. We pursue our work through media outreach, public dialogue, and policy initiatives that address the shared economic security concerns of middle-class and low-income workers.") The premise of his piece is basically that people who opt out of public schools are hurting the schools and cheating their children of the opportunity to interact with a more varied group of kids. On the most basic level, he's right. Money walks out of schools when kids do. We wou

Under the "Passionate, Lifelong Learner" Category

Tell your kids the guy who wrote "We Will Rock You" for the band Queen is getting his PhD in astrophysics. This great story from various news sources, this one Yahoo: "After more than 30 years which he spent as a member of one of the world's most successful bands, Queen guitarist Brian May has finally finished his PhD thesis which he began as a student in the 1970s, The Times reported on Thursday. May, 59, earned a degree in physics at Imperial College London but after years of studying interplanetary dust, he abandoned work towards his doctorate when Queen took off. His interest in the subject was reignited when he co-authored "Bang! The Complete History of the Universe", which tells the story of the universe from the big bang through its subsequent evolution, and was released last year. "For the last nine months, I've done nothing except slave over my PhD, which is now written up, thank God," May reportedly

California Charter School Maverick

This was an interesting and provocative article in the NY Times this week. It's about Steve Barr, a charter school organizer in California who concentrates on high schools (which is the opposite of most charter school organizers). From the article: "In just seven years, Mr. Barr’s Green Dot Public Schools organization has founded 10 charter high schools and has won approval to open 10 more. Now, in his most aggressive challenge to the public school system, he is fighting to seize control of Locke Senior High, a gang-ridden school in Watts known as one of the city’s worst. A 15-year-old girl was killed by gunfire there in 2005. In the process, Mr. Barr has fomented a teachers revolt against the Los Angeles Unified School District. He has driven a wedge through the city’s teachers union by welcoming organized labor — in contrast to other charter operators — and signing a contract with an upstart union. And he has mobilized thousands of black and Hispanic parents to demand be

Study Says NCLB Cuts Time from Other Subjects

This article appeared in this week's NY Times. The basic premise of the study is this: "The report, by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington group that studies the law’s implementation in school districts nationwide, said that about 44 percent of districts have cut time from one or more subjects or activities in elementary schools to extend time for longer daily math and reading lessons. Among the subjects or activities getting less attention since the law took effect in 2002 are science, social studies, art and music, gym, lunch and recess, the report said. The report, based on a survey of nearly 350 of the nation’s 15,000 districts, said 62 percent of school districts had increased daily class time in reading and math since the law took effect."

Times Op-Ed on How Diversity Could Be Achieved

This op-ed appeared in today's Times. It offers some good starting points for a tiebreaker for diversity. I don't agree with the writer's idea of essays to get into high school. That could be a nightmare; who would read them? Score them? How to score them to achieve what the district is striving for?

Dr Goodloe-Johnson to be on KUOW's The Conversation Today

From the KUOW website: "Seattle's new school Superintendent, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, is in her third week on the job. What has she figured out? She is our guest for this hour of The Conversation. There is no shortage of people with ideas on what's wrong with Seattle public schools. Mayor Greg Nickels says every year the Seattle public schools lose 600 students to private schools or other districts. That's the equivalent of losing a large elementary school each year. We'll find out from Seattle School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson where and how she will start to improve the state's largest school district." The Conversation is from 1:00-2:00 p.m. on 94.9 FM. They archive the show about an hour after it has aired so you can listen to it on your computer anytime.

Another Way to Listen to School Board Candidates

I was looking at the Editorial area at the PI's website and discovered they have the audio from their editorial board interviews with candidates in Districts 2 and 6 (I don't know if the other districts are upcoming). I haven't had time to listen to them but I just wanted to pass them along in case you don't get to any of the pre-primary forums. Also, August 7th is Neighborhood Block party night. If any of you live in neighborhoods that participate, you might consider it a good time to talk with neighbors about the upcoming primary (many people might not realize it's happening). I find that many people welcome information on school board candidates because they either don't have kids in the district or don't keep up. (I'm like this on port commissioner and judges; I never quite know who to vote for beyond what's in the newspaper.)

Another Op-Ed in the Times about the Supreme Court Case?

What is up with the Times and their op-eds? This one by John Miller, one of the parents in the recent Supreme Court case, appeared in today's Times. This is the second one on this topic in 2 weeks. I'm thinking the parents in this case must be getting a lot of blowback from the outcome because why in the world is the Times pushing this? I'm guessing it's both blowback and an opening salvo to let the Board know they shouldn't try it again. With Justice Kennedy's deciding vote (but his separate opinion), he left open the door to use of race in determining school assignment. His opinion said that he did not agree with the use as stated by the district and he laid out, vaguely, how it might be used. It is up to the District and the Board to decide, as they roll out the enrollment plan, what the tiebreakers might be. Do they dare try to use race again in a more tailored fashion (i.e. break out by every single race rather than the previous white versus non-

Seattle Times Editorial

This Editorial appeared in today's Seattle Times. The Times refers to the School Board "mess" even as they note the Board's recent successes. They particularly decry Board members who cannot "refrain from micromanaging the superintendent - or worse, attempting to do the job themselves"

Math Wars (Continued)

This article about an outside math review for the state Board of Education was in the Times on Saturday. It does not bode well for students especially since the Board has approved the math curriculum. From the article: "Echoing concerns from a grass-roots parents group, Plattner also said Washington needs to be clearer about the need for students to memorize basic math facts and learn standard methods of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. "Washington's standards are too far on the conceptual side," she wrote." From Superintendent Bergeson: "Some of the recommendations of this new report, however, would increase the WASL's difficulty. "If we move in the direction that this report wants to move in ... we're going to have a harder test," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson. "It's not going to solve the math-score problem overnight." From the article: "Plattner said Washington

College Board to Police AP listings

Following up on the larger discussion of what a baseline curriculum would look like for a Seattle schools comprehensive high school, I saw this article about AP classes in the NY Times. The company that runs AP, College Board, is doing an audit of classes because of schools that invent AP classes (AP Ceramics?). From the article: “Schools just slap AP on courses to tag them as high-level, even when there’s no Advanced Placement exam in the subject,” Mr. Poch said. “It was getting to be like Kleenex or Xerox.” But now, for the first time, the College Board is creating a list of classes each school is authorized to call AP and reviewing the syllabuses for those classes. The list, expected in November, is both an effort to protect the College Board brand and an attempt to ensure that Advanced Placement classes cover what college freshmen learn, so colleges can safely award credit to students who do well on AP exams." A little background on AP (Advanced Placement): "Develop

School Board Candidate Forums

There are two upcoming forums to hear school board candidates. Here's the blurb for one of them: On Monday, August 6 , Pathfinder will be hosting a forum for the candidates for the Seattle School Board. We have 8 candidates who have confirmed attendance. This should be a terrific opportunity to meet the candidates before the August 21 primary. The evening will begin at 5:30 with an old fashioned ice cream social where the public will be able to meet the candidates one to one. At 6:30 each candidate will have three minutes to present their views after which the moderator will ask questions submitted by the audience. Families are encouraged to bring a blanket and picnic dinner. Complimentary ice cream bars will be served. The event is jointly sponsored by your PTSA, Alki School PTSA, Sanislo PTSA, and Arbor Heights PTSA. Thank you to those PTSAs for their work on this event. The other one is this: Primary Election Debate, Seattle School Board, Thursday, August 16 , 2

Times story on Dr. Goodloe-Johnson

I read the story in today's Seattle Times on the new Superintendent of Seattle Pubilc Schools, Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, and two things jumped out at me right away. First, there is no news in this "news" story. The reporter interviewed the Superintendent, but she didn't say anything she hadn't said before. There were no announcements, no change in anything. Second, the message came through, loud and clear, that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has little patience for the "Seattle Process". From the article: "Goodloe-Johnson said she would have little patience for the "Seattle process," shorthand for the inclusive -- but often slow -- way of doing public business." I think that the recent experience we had with the Student Assignment Plan showed, without a doubt, that genuine, inclusive public engagement can be done and that it can be done easily, quickly, efficiently, and effectively. My view of the "Seattle Process" is mainly public

CPPS looking for discussion group

CPPS is building a study group to further analyze the Student Assignment Plan framework and possible consequences of implementation. After working together to create a list of questions and concerns, this group would then take the list to the District for further clarification, etc. Depending on the answers from the District, the process could be repeated once more before the details are made public later this fall. CPPS is currently seeking public school parents who have been following the issue and would have interest in coming together with others. The group would have at least two meetings (two hours each) and extensive conversation via e-mail. I have been asked to recommend some names of parents who may be interested. Are there any among you who have some time in the next few weeks to delve deeply and look for the intricacies of this most important policy? If so, send me your name and I will forward them to CPPS for consideration. I'm thinking of putting my own name fo

Pay to Play for Athletics

I knew this was looming for Seattle high schools but this article in the Times shows it is spreading rapidly throughout our area. I guess it's a sign of the times. We have a lot of sports, they cost money (in transportation, coaches, uniforms, etc.). It also becomes an issue like the drama differences between high schools (Roosevelt versus Rainier Beach, for example). Many schools have sports booster clubs and it is likely there are big money differences between schools (and probably between sports as well). I know that the Seattle high school principals voted to return to the Metro league (versus King-Co) because of the issue of transportation costs but that's the last I heard. The Roosevelt PTSA is going to try to set up a scholarship fund for free/reduced lunch athletes so that any student who wants to participate in sports can do so. I know this is not probably not going to happen everywhere and it seems sad that some kids may not be able to participate. I know

A Lively Discussion

Between the using income for diversity thread and the assignment plan thread, we certainly have had a lively conversation. We can all see that there are some resentments, misunderstandings and general lack of knowledge/information out there. I think we can all agree that when you are talking about your child's education and access to educational benefits it is a deeply heartfelt and personal conversation. (By the way, by lack of knowledge I don't mean that in a disparaging manner. It is difficult to keep up with everything, no one can possibly know everything about each school and high school can seem far away when your children are in elementary.) Keep in mind; School Board Directors HAVE to take a district view and so their view is wide-ranging and has to keep a sort of "greater good" and fairness emphasis (regional differences are naturally part of the discussion to be sure). As I said, I think I'll send e-mail to the Board and the Superintendent alerti

Let's All Read?

Two articles in the NY Times caught my eye, both dealing with reading. One is about a library phasing out the Dewey Decimal system in favor of bookstore-type headings (Fiction, Religion, Cooking, etc.). The other was an article on Harry Potter books and kids' feelings about reading. From the Harry Potter article: “Unless there are scaffolds in place for kids — an enthusiastic adult saying, ‘Here’s the next one’ — it’s not going to happen,” said Nancie Atwell, the author of “The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers” and a teacher in Edgecomb, Me. “And in way too many American classrooms it’s not happening.” " "In a study commissioned last year by Scholastic, Yankelovich, a market research firm, reported that 51 percent of the 500 kids aged 5 to 17 polled said they did not read books for fun before they started reading the series. A little over three-quarters of them said Harry Potter had made them interested in readin

Using Income to Create Diversity in Schools

This is an excellent article from the NY Times about different applications of income in enrollment in different districts around the country. It focuses primarily on San Francisco which uses income as one factor. "The number of schools where students of a single racial or ethnic group make up 60 percent or more of the population in at least one grade is increasing sharply. In 2005-06, about 50 schools were segregated using that standard as measured by a court-appointed monitor. That was up from 30 schools in the 2001-02 school year, the year before the change, according to court filings." "Only a few plans appear to have achieved all three goals. Others promote income diversity but not racial integration while still other plans are limited and their results inconclusive. Those who have studied them say a key to that outcome is how aggressively a plan shifts students around and whether there are many schools that can lure middle-class students from their neighborhood

Assignment Plan

Okay, from the high school thread (and Charlie's summations along the thread), it would seem to me that the district really isn't in a good position to change the high school enrollment plan. The discussion here seems to indicate that we believe are the main issues: - all the high schools are not equal (clearly in quality) but also not equal just in a baseline offering of what a basic comprehensive high school should offer including AP and Honors. -QA/Magnolia and the NE have high school distribution problems that are problematic. -arts, particularly music and drama matter to families and we have unevenness in programs. Solutions: -Carla Santorno and staff develop a baseline for the comprehensive high schools so that parents can be assured of access for their students to similiar offerings. - What would work best? Community meetings to get as many ideas as possible? Having directors get input from their districts? It also likely depends on how many students are in each

One More Viewpoint on the Racial Tiebreaker

This op-ed piece was in today's PI. It's by Scott Barnhart, former School Board member.

High School Assignment

So let's have the conversation about high school assignment. Let's see if we can find a balance between reliable access to a nearby school and equitable access to desirable programs. I think I've described my thoughts on this fairly well, but I'll spell out the six basic elements of the framework again to provide a starting point. =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= 1. For each of the ten traditional comprehensive high schools, the District will identify a reference area. All of the students in this reference area will be assured of access to the general education program of that high school. 2. The reference area for each school will be right-sized for the capacity of the general education program at the school. 3. The District will determine the program placement for special needs programs: Special Ed, Bilingual Ed, Secondary BOC, re-entry programs, and APP. 4. Access to alternative high schools and to specialized courses of study within schools - CTE programs for the most part,

Last Night's School Board Meeting

I stayed for about half the SB meeting last night and heard all the speakers as well as Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's Entry plan and SB committee updates. There were about 100 people at the meeting, 1 (that I saw) SB candidate, Dan Dempsey, and about 40 of the 100 were young adults protesting the SB military recruitment policy. Despite what the PI wrote, the SB meeting last night was not "disrupted" by the student activists. The students were organized out front, marching in chanting at 5:55 p.m., sat down and were quiet except to do a two-line chant between speakers. Were they loud? Yes, but they are protesting a war and a district policy about recruiting soldiers for the war. They dominated the speaker list. Sadly, no one outlined their policy (even though Dr. Goodloe-Johnson clearly had never heard it this being her first meeting). Their policy, I believe, would call for one district-wide fair for all career/technical schools, colleges/universities and military recruitm

Math Wars; Eastside

This article appeared in today's Times. It's old-school math versus the conceptual math, Singapore versus Everyday Math. What's interesting on the Eastside is that people are running for school boards because of the issue. The only Seattle SB candidate that mentions it is Dan Dempsey, running in West Seattle.

Rebuttal to the Times

Over the past four years, the Seattle Times has published a steady stream of negative editorials disparaging the current Seattle School Board. This is the same Seattle Times that provided unstinting support for the previous Board. The Times has dismissed the Board members as "a barrier to progress", "ineffective", "misguided", "myopic", "incompetent", and "divisive". The Times called for five of the seven to resign. But what is the Board’s actual record? The District’s finances are much better today than they were four years ago. This Board has turned the $35 million deficit left by the previous Board (the one the Times supported) into a $25 million surplus. For the first time, the District’s operating budget reflects the District’s academic priorities. This Board is moving the District away from the Weighted Student Formula, which was overly complicated and ineffective in its stated purpose, to a Weighted Staffing Formula th

District 6 candidates on Weekday

Thursday on Weekday: Hour Two 07/12/2007 10:00a.m. Elections: Seattle School Board District 6 Archive available at 11:05 a.m. There are four candidates vying for Irene Stewart's vacated seat on the Seattle School Board, District 6, which covers West Seattle. Today we will speak with the candidates, as Weekday's election coverage continues. Tomorrow on Weekday: Your Take on News Guests: Danaher Dempsey Jr., candidate Maria Ramirez, candidate Steve Sundquist, candidate Edwin Fruit, candidate Call the live studio (206) 543-KUOW (800) 289-KUOW Email the show: weekday-at-kuow.org

Money in the Right Places

A basic article in today's PI about the state of the District's finances. Not in the red, has a rainy day surplus (which some want to point to as the big lie that "see, we do have money, we don't need to close schools") and that the state needs to provide more stable funding or SPS (and nearly all other districts in the state) will have budget shortfalls in the coming years. Not much new but then there's this line: "This year's budget cycle marked the first time academic priorities were considered when the operating budget was developed." Charlie has said many times that academics should be the primary issue driving spending and not all the other issues that face the district. An admission that this is the first time that academic priorities were "considered" for the operating budget is kind of breathtaking. Let's hope it remains a priority in the budget.

Holy iPod, Batman!

Attention WASL takers: did you fail the 10th grade WASL reading or math? SPS has an iPod shuffle for you. No kidding, according to this article in today's Times. You have to spend 5 weeks in a WASL summer prep program. This is a joint project with SPS and Seattle Community Colleges but the city is paying for the reading iPods, a donor is paying for the math iPod. (Call 252-0815 by the end of today to register and get one.) Apparently fewer students were signing up for this program (which existed before but not with iPods). From the article: "The programs, called Summer College, are designed to help students pass the WASL and to give them the chance to experience college life. One program focuses on math, with one-on-one tutoring available to students who scored very low on the math WASL. The other is for students who failed math or reading on the 10th-grade WASL, and includes classes in literacy, math, and enrichment courses. They are offered at North Seattle and So

NY Times Editorial

Interesting editorial from the NY Times on smaller high schools and their outcomes in NYC. I wonder how comprehensive (electives, sports, etc) they are.

New Method to Consider Progress

This article appeared in the NY Times. The premise is that if you use a "growth model", it will track student progress from grade to grade rather than comparing last year's 4th graders to this year's 4th graders. NCLB is allowing several states to pilot the program. "Adding growth models as a way to satisfy federal requirements to demonstrate “adequate yearly progress” could make it easier for some schools to avoid penalties because they would receive credit for students who improve performance but still fall below proficiency levels." From the article: "Many urban educators contend that growth models are a fairer measure because they recognize that poor and minority students often start out behind, and thus have more to learn to reach state standards. At the same time, many school officials in affluent suburbs favor growth models because they evaluate students at all levels rather than focusing on lifting those at the bottom, thereby helping to

Student Learning Committee agenda

The Student Learning Committee will meet this afternoon and, according to their agenda , they will have a preliminary discussion on forming a program placement policy. The District does not have a program placement policy right now. Instead, program placements are made entirely at the Superintendent's discretion, so long as they comply with District policies, state laws, and federal laws. Due to their interpretation of a Policy, the Board Student Learning Committee reviewed a program placement decision this year and discovered that the program placement process is capricious, thoughtless, careless, and politically driven. The decision was made without data, without considering the best interests of the students, and without considering public input. Everyone was pretty shocked by what they found squiggling under that rock.

PI Editorial on Super plus reminders

This editorial on Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's appearance in the district was in today's PI. Don't forget to read the comments after the editorial, they're interesting and one Board candidate weighs in. Just to remind you, Wednesday's Board meeting will be the first one with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. It starts at 6 pm at the Stanford Center and also shows live on Channel 26. Also, KUOW's Weekday program will have the SB candidates from District 6 (Irene Stewart's district) on during the 10-11 am segment. You can also listen to the discussion online after the show at kuow.org. They archive their shows.

Whither the Alliance, Part II

This article appeared in today's Times. Many only know the Alliance as a conduit for their donations to their school. The Alliance's profile has been much lower since about 2003/4. It's a bit mind-blowing to know that there has been $100M raised by and pumped into SPS by the Alliance since 1995. The Alliance's take on the situation: "But as time has gone by, more donors have wanted to target their money at specific programs or schools — sometimes even specific purchases — rather than let the alliance choose how to spend it. Board Chairman Jon Bridge, co-CEO and general counsel for Ben Bridge Jeweler, said the alliance should be more focused. Small donations for equipment and field trips should fall to other nonprofits, he said. The alliance should give money only to programs with specific goals. "Let people trust us in earmarking those funds in a direction instead of telling us that we're going to have to spend it on athletic gear or ... on t

Say What?

This editorial appeared in today's Sunday Times under the title, "On the Corner of Indifference and Ignorance". I believe he is saying that he doesn't think the people running for City Council and School Board are qualified enough. He's disappointed. I say "believe" because he seems so peeved, it's hard to be sure. What he says on who runs the city: "The city is run by representatives of two major and influential cohorts: neighborhoods and highly specialized interest groups. That may fit a less-competitive era, but if this region is going to need every brain and every molecule of stamina, it must have a much higher caliber of contestants for public office." I don't want to argue with him about whether that is correct for the City Council but it is somewhat true for School Board. And rightly so. Board members have to know neighborhoods; it's an intimate job in that way. I'm not sure I believe interest groups run the Di

More Program Decisions through Less Choice?

I had an interesting discussion with a SB candidate recently (I can't say who as I have not yet heard back about blogging about our discussion. I told this person I do blog but I did forget to say that I would likely blog about our discussion and my impressions. It seems bad form to not at least let the person know). This candidate is clearly in the de Bell camp of pulling back on choice and going with feeder options. I mentioned I could see this in light of the transportation costs but that I still thought that high school should be an open option. (And I know many of you believe that to be a farce because it is unlikely that many could get into certain schools if they are not in that region. Agreed but it doesn't hurt to try.) Or if not an open option, that there would be a lottery for the Ballard biotech program and/or IB programs (at Sealth and Ingraham should they become oversubscribed) as well as an audition process for the jazz bands at Roosevelt and Garfield.

Denny/Sealth Update

This is the latest article in the West Seattle Herald about the Denny/Sealth renovation. For me (clearly) some amount of irony here: "One parent said the district was treating the public like "children," and only cared about their opinion when it comes time to vote for a levies and bonds. "You can't just bulldoze through the community and tell us it's a done deal when you didn't involve us in the first place," she said." Well, it helps to ask questions before you vote for something but the bond language was not clear on the dual-campus issue. However, school administrators admit they didn't do enough outreach and promise more opportunities for parental input. There seem to be several issues here including: -not telling people clearly it would be joint campus -parking issues -staff issues (with many staff opposed to the joint idea which makes it harder to implement if people are not onboard - out of the half of Denny's staff tha

Agenda for July 11th Board Meeting

The agenda for next week's Board meeting has been posted and has several interesting items. One is a renaming for High Point Elementary (which has Fairmount Park now joining it). There had been a survey about renaming it and the pick is West Seattle Elementary. The most interesting is the revisions to the visitors to school policies. There would be a revision to limit the number of visits to two per year per school from any military, college or career group. Not sure if means all military or two per Navy, Marine, etc. They would also be adopting a new procedure for allowing outside group research in schools. It also includes a new provision: "It also is amended to allow parents/guardians and/or students to select to have directory information not disclosed to outside individuals or organizations and that such a selection shall remain in place for the duration of a student’s secondary educational years. The procedure is amended to also require that an annual report

Mark Green, COO, Resigns to Take Job at UW

This article is from the District's website. Mr. Green is leaving for a job directing business affairs at UW Medicine. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has selected Fred Stephens, director of Facilities, to be the new COO. He has quite an impressive resume which makes me wonder what he was doing in Facilities. He may be well-suited for the COO job. "Mr. Stephens came to SPS from an already distinguished career in the public sector. He served for six years as Director of the Department of Licensing of the State of Washington where he led transformation of customer service standards at licensing renewal offices and implemented an agency-wide program to provide licensing services via the internet. Mr. Stephens also served for two years as Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Gary Locke. In this role, he oversaw 22 cabinet agencies, and spearheaded the Governor's regulatory reform and quality improvement initiatives. Stephens also served as Chief Administrative Officer for King Cou

Program Placement Committee minutes

They came today. I made a public records request for the minutes of the Program Placement Committee and they came today. I have copies of the minutes from meetings ranging from September 2003 to January 2005. They make for vaguely interesting reading. It's very clear that the Committee, as a practice, defers to principals and that the Committee is extremely reactive despite repeatedly stated intentions to plan ahead.

More Candidate Info

I was checking out the King County Democrats website and found that 7 of the candidates for School Board had filled out the Dems questionaire . Those are Darlene Flynn, Peter Maier, Sherry Carr, Lisa Stuebing, Harium Martin-Morris, Steve Sundquist and Maria Ramirez. Their answers are interesting and may help in broadening your perspective on these candidates. I wouldn't say that it's a mark against those candidates who did not participate (maybe they didn't get their forms in on time, didn't know, etc.) but it would have been helpful to read what their answers would have been as well.

PI's Take on "Pro Bono" Work

This editorial appeared in yesterday's PI. Also, just to put some perspective on how this lawsuit came to pass, Ballard was not a popular school in the late 80's/early '90s. It ran almost full but was not a big first choice. In 1991, the then-Superintendent recommended the building be demolished and rebuilt but could not get a bond measure passed until 1995. In 1994, a student there was killed in a drive-by shooting. It would be interesting to know where Queen Anne and Magnolia students spread out to after Queen Anne High was closed in 1981 but, given that Ballard High wasn't full, I don't think they were all trying to get in there. Ballard was really in a bad state. So Ballard was rebuilt and became a success story (with the biotech/maritime programs put in to make the school more attractive). The district success in reinventing Ballard did cause more parents in Queen Anne and Magnolia to try to send their students there and thus you got the oversubscr

Spectrum and the Assignment Plan

I'm becoming anxious about the new Student Assignment Plan. The Board has approved the framework, but the framework has yet to address the controversial issue that it needs to address: Spectrum. Special programs like Spectrum are mentioned twice in the introductory paragraph for the new assignment plan. One of the plan's goals is to "provide equitable access to programs" and one of the plan's requirements is the "careful and intentional location of specialized programs". Despite the focus in the charge, there is scant mention of specialized programs within the framework. This is a very tricky problem. There are three types of considerations to be balanced. First are the academic considerations. A Spectrum program needs a critical mass of students to form a viable learning community. To be strong, an elementary Spectrum program needs to have at least 80-100 students. The Manager of Advanced Learning told the Board Student Learning Committee that a midd

A Cautionary Tale (Whether for Public/Private Partnerships or Charter Schools)

This article, Patrons Sway Leads to Friction in Charter School , appeared in the NY Times last week. The Times' synopsis: "The clash has exposed fault lines of wealth and class that are perhaps inevitable as philanthropists, in New York and nationwide, increasingly invest in public education, providing new schools to children in poor neighborhoods while making communities dependent on their generosity. And for those lucky to have such benefactors, the situation raises core questions: Who ultimately controls charter schools, which are financed by taxpayers but often rely heavily on charitable donations? Do the schools, which operate outside the control of the local school district, answer to parents, or to their wealthy founders?" A quote from Frederick M. Hess, an expert in philanthropy in education (what an interesting thing to study): "Frederick M. Hess, an expert on philanthropy in education, said there would be more disputes like the one in Brooklyn as high