Showing posts from November, 2007

The Alliance for Education

So there's this full page ad in the PI today (maybe the Times as well) where the Alliance is thanking the people who attended their Black and Orange Ball in October. It's quite a list (SilverCloud Inns and Hotels?). I read a few of their publications. In one place they say this is what a Seattle public school graduate should have: have the foundational skills for reading, writing, math and science and have the capacity for change communicate effectively (they could have used this for point one; what does that mean?) be a critical consumer of information and be able to utilize changing technology think analytically and solve problems understand and value themselves and others work respectfully and productively in teams value democracy, diversity and community stewardship appreciate the arts be prepared for careers and life-long learning That's quite a laundry list. Maybe we should add to the list of everything else we want in a high school graduate. I'm being sa

Good News About Rainier Beach HS

Hello I wanted to pass along this article about Rainier Beach High School that appeared in the Seattle Times on Friday. As all of you can imagine, we are pretty proud of this, but are nowhere near satisfied. We still face huge challenges every day, but I would just like the larger community to know that real learning does take place at RB and that there is dedicated, talented and focused administration and faculty that are committed to the education of every child that enters the doors at RBHS. When it comes to academic achievement, I wonder when the last time Roosevelt, Nathan Hale and Rainier Beach were used in the same sentence?

Spotlight on Chris Jackins

The West Seattle Herald has a nice piece highlighting the work of Chris Jackins: School critic remains focused on his task . While I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with Chris on particular issues, I respect the time he has invested in being a district watch dog and the knowledge he has accumulated during that time.

It's Official: We Have Four New Board Members

I attended the swearing-in ceremony at the John Stanford Center last night for the 4 new Board members. It was very sweet with relatives swearing in new members (Sherry Carr had a close friend who was the former principal at Bagley). They each gave a brief speech; one went on a bit long (which might be an future indicator). Ellen Roe, the grand dame of the Board (she served 4 terms at least) was there as well. One oddity which may also be a future indicator (or something to hold them to): apparently Dr. Goodloe-Johnson found a directors' "affirmation" which they all agreed to recite. Cheryl Chow read most of it but they all chimed in at different places. They agreed to "abide by the policies and bylaws" of the Board. (Hold them to that, Charlie.) They agreed to "leave the day-to-day operations of the district to the superintendent and staff" - great but it is sometimes a gray area. They agreed to "no independent comments or actions&q

Thought-Provoking Column on Teachers

This is the latest column from Leonard Pitts, Jr., a syndicated columnist. It has a lot of interesting thoughts based on a tour through a KIPP (chain of charter schools - one of the most successful charter systems in the country). I found this section particularly compelling: "Having spent the past year studying educational success stories, I find myself increasingly convinced that much of what ails American schools can be traced to a bureaucracy that: (a) doesn't pay enough; (b) does too little to encourage and reward creativity; (c) doesn't give principals authority over who works in their schools; (d) makes it nearly impossible to fire bad teachers. As Dolan put it, " I don't think you can pay a good teacher enough and I don't think you can fire a bad teacher fast enough." (italics mine). "Teachers are generally very optimistic," said KIPP co-founder Dave Levin. "Unfortunately what happens is, you don't have a lot of exam

Should Newcomers have to Pass the WASL?

There were two recent articles about the subject of immigrant students and WASL requirements. This article about Dr. Bergeson's efforts on this front appeared in today's Times. The other article appeared in the Times earlier in the week about teachers who know their students are passing classes but cannot pass the WASL. Part of argument seems to be whether these students should be treated like special ed students who get different measures of assessment. From the second article: "For those who are recent immigrants, however, she's not sure what to do. No matter how hard they work, she says, most haven't been in the country long enough to have much — if any — chance of passing a 10th-grade exam in English. And that, she says, is "extremely unfair." That's a sentiment shared by many of her colleagues in Seattle and across the state who are concerned about the roughly 2,000 students who probably won't graduate because they don't know eno

Constituent School Boards

I went to the Charleston county website to look up how they enroll students. I was wondering what Dr. Goodloe-Johnson had used in her past job to see if I might discern her thinking on the assignment plan. Oddly, I could not find a blessed thing. I searched everywhere and used their search feature and nothing. (Also, no staff directory. We may have a better district website than we think.) Anyway, what I did find was that they have a 9-person School Board but then they have these regions with something called Constituent School Boards. There is absolutely no explanation of who these folks are or their role but I was intrigued. Has anyone ever heard of this before?

Okay, We Passed Simple Majority But There's One Catch

So I'm reading the Times online and see this story about the first levy elections after the Simple Majority passed. This will be happening in Snohomish county (and probably some others) in Feb. In a way, it's not a real first test because it will also occur the same time as the presidential primary which is likely to have high voter participation. Here's an interesting thing to keep in mind about the changeover (from the Times' article): "Snohomish County adopted all-mail voting in January 2006, but it didn't take effect until the September primary, making the seven districts the first to run finance measures under the all-mail vote. When Thurston County changed to all-mail voting in 1993, one of the first casualties was school-finance measures, said Auditor Kim Wyman. Instead of running one campaign, which often consisted of mailings and phone calls to supporters on the eve of the election, Wyman said districts had to shift to running campaigns timed to

High School Credits

This was in our student bulletin at RHS: "NEW APPROVAL PROCESS FOR ANY OUT OF DISTRICT COURSEWORK - Students who want to take ANY courses outside of Roosevelt for which they want credit towards Roosevelt graduation requirements, whether through BYU Distance Learning, Dartmoor, ETC or EA2, summer programs at UW or at Georgetown, take note: There is a new district policy which takes effect immediately, requiring students to get documented approval from their counselor and fill out paperwork PRIOR to enrolling in the course. " This kind of follows up on Charlie's questions about getting math/language credit in high school for middle school work. Looks like some new district policy has taken effect.

New K-3 Libraries; How are They Working at Your School?

This article appeared in Monday's PI about the new mini-libraries in every K-2 classroom in Seattle. The plan is to extend it to 3, 4, and 5th grades. This from the article: "The libraries aren't intended to replace regular school libraries but complement them. The hope is that students' interest in reading will be sparked by the classroom libraries and, in turn, circulation at school libraries will get a boost, Coles said." A couple of things I had wondered about: -from the article: "Thanks to new libraries installed in each Seattle kindergarten, first- and second-grade classroom this fall, Meisner and her peers have instant access to hundreds of books, each labeled with a letter from A to Z to indicate its level of difficulty." Who determines an "R" versus an "S"? Isn't that a pretty detailed level of difficulty? What staff member has this job and who labels all the books? - I hadn't heard about it being extended

High School Graduation Requirements

From a CPPS e-mail today: How High Should We Set the High School Graduation Bar? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Are our children getting a world-class education to prepare them for 21st century life after high school? The WA State Board of Education wants to hear your thoughts as they review high school graduation requirements for the first time in 22 years. Background information/presentations will be provided to help inform this critical discussion. Join this important community conversation: Wednesday, December 4 6 - 8 pm North Seattle Community College College Center Bldg Cafeteria 9600 College Way North The WA State Board of Education will use feedback from this meeting and from community meetings across the state to define the purpose of the high school diploma and to draft recommendations for new high school graduation requirements. The outcomes will be shared with the public in spring 2008 with another round of community outreach meetings pre-finalizat

Advisory Committees

There are a couple District Policies regarding advisory committees, E08.00 and E08.01. E08.01 requires the appointing entity to respond to the recommendations from an advisory committee within three months. The Superintendent is the appointing entity for most advisory committees, and a number of them make their reports and recommendations at the end of the school year. If a committee made their report and recommendations in July, the Superintendent's response was due in October. The Superintendent, however, has yet to make some of these responses. They are a month overdue and approaching two months overdue. There are, of course, a number of legitimate reasons that the Superintendent's response might be delayed - new Superintendent, new program managers, various outside evaluations, etc. Just the same, I would think that professionalism, courtesy, and respect would dictate that the Superintendent get in touch with these committees with an apology for the delay, an explanation f

A Schramie for Caprice

So I'm watching the local news one night and, at the end, there's Ken Schram. He's a newsman (to some degree) and he basically gets to do a semi-rant about whatever politicians/leaders do that bug him. To those he really disagrees with or whose actions he finds ridiculous, he gives out a statue dubbed the Schramie. So who did he give one to this week? None other than our director of Equity and Race Relations , Caprice Hollins. He was upset about her sending a letter to teachers about Thanksgiving saying it was a time of grieving for some Native Americans and shouldn't be cast in a rosy glow. Okay, first when the first Thanksgiving did occur, there was obviously some outreach between the settlers and the Native Americans. (Before and after we became a country? Obviously, the way Native Americans were treated was a complete disaster on so many levels you'd have to be an idiot not to get that.) It seems like you could take Thanksgiving in the light of which it

Follow-up on School Closures

The implementation of the school closures has been quiet compared to the discussion of the plan. Personally, the only impact I have seen has been some new children in Pathfinder who came because their previous West Seattle elementary schools closed. But I have been wondering about the schools and families more directly impacted, and would love to hear from families and teachers at those schools about what it has been like this year. The Seattle PI today, has a piece that tracks the numbers: After 5 schools closed, 157 students left Seattle district , which certainly gives a partial picture of the impact, especially financially for the district. But I want to know more. Stories anyone?

WASL - Guest Column in the Times

This op-ed appeared in today's Times. It is by David Marshak, a respected educator in the College of Education at Seattle U. He details how Superintendent Bergeson's pass rate claims for the WASL are, by his measure, not true. He says at the end: "Is this really a great achievement after 14 years and who knows how many hundreds of millions of dollars spent on testing? And, are our schools not pretty much where we were in 1992 before we started with this unproven yet very expensive obsession with standards and high-stakes testing?" That is an understatement (posed as a question).

Kids Need to Read

This article appeared in the NY Times and says that kids appear to be reading less for fun and that reading and writing scores are declining. From the article: "In his preface to the new 99-page report Dana Gioia , chairman of the endowment, described the data as “simple, consistent and alarming.” Among the findings is that although reading scores among elementary school students have been improving, scores are flat among middle school students and slightly declining among high school seniors. These trends are concurrent with a falloff in daily pleasure reading among young people as they progress from elementary to high school, a drop that appears to continue once they enter college. The data also showed that students who read for fun nearly every day performed better on reading tests than those who reported reading never or hardly at all." There is argument over whether this is indeed true. The study, this time, did include all kinds of reading including literary and

Testing Dangers

Yet another troubling story about testing and testing flaws. This from an article that appeared in the NY Times about an international test (which I had never heard of) that is given to students worldwide (including US students) that had not been anybody. The pages were numbered incorrectly and students had been directed to "the question on page X" rather than the opposite page. From the article: "The problem came on a test known as the Program for International Student Assessment that allows students’ proficiency to be compared with that of their international peers. It was administered to 5,600 American 15-year-olds last fall, as well as to students in the 30 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and in 27 less developed countries. Scores are scheduled for release next month." It's serious because: “We need to recognize that the testing industry is under immense pressure at a time when scores are b

FYI Meetings

The next meeting for the Seattle Council PTSA is Monday, Nov. 26th, from 6:30-7:00 p.m., social/light dinner and 7-9 p.m. General Meeting. It is at the John Stanford Center. They will be talking with Tracy Libros from Enrollment and Planning on the Assignment Plan. There will also be a guest speaker, Ortencia Santana, from the Beacon Hill PTA about their approaches to increasing family involvement in multicultural communities. Childcare provided. If you need childcare, call 364-7430 or Also, the Washington State Board of Education will have a Community Meeting on Improving Graduation Requirements on December 4th from 6-8 p.m. at the North Seattle Community College Cafeteria (in the College Center Building). (Start with making the math portion of the WASL about math and not reading and writing and drop either the senior project or community service. Any of that would help.)

Rethinking Homework

I've been doing a lot of thinking and reading about homework and the its impacts (both positive and negative) on kids of different ages. I believe there is too much homework assigned, in general, and that much of it does not have a positive learning impact. Below are a few resources and quotes on the homework debate: 1) Parent Map's "Should we kill homework?" "Should kids get to turn away from schoolwork when class time finishes? At Valley School, a private K-5 school in Seattle’s Madison Valley, the answer is yes. Barry Wright, formerly a fifth-grade teacher at Valley and now its director, says, “People don’t stop and think about the harm homework is doing. When you’re really in touch with kids, it seems apparent.” Valley teachers assign no homework until third grade, and even then Wright says it is “very light.” Minimal homework is a longstanding Valley policy. “We’re efficient during the [school] day — we’re good at it — and when kids go home we think they

Alternative Schools Matter

This was a great article that appeared in the NY Times about a public alternative high school in Great Neck, NY that, to my limited knowledge, sounds a lot like Nova, one of the alternative high schools here in Seattle. Nova has one of the worst buildings in the District (and it's a badge I think they wear proudly) but they do good work for kids who need a different way of learning. And, Nova students produce results, doing well on the WASL and many of them going to 4-year colleges and universities. "Nationwide, alternative schools and programs are not closely tracked — the last count was 10,900 by federal education officials in 2001 — but some estimates have put the number at more than 12,000 when private schools are included. Districts from Farmington, Conn., to Vista, Calif., have started alternative schools in the past three years, while many others are considering them, including the Roslyn district on Long Island, which has not had an alternative school for more tha

ADHD and Future Academic Success

This NY Times article seems like a hopeful view of the possibilities for kids with ADD. From the article: "Educators and psychologists have long feared that children entering school with behavior problems were doomed to fall behind in the upper grades. But two new studies suggest that those fears are exaggerated. One concluded that kindergartners who are identified as troubled do as well academically as their peers in elementary school. The other found that children with attention deficit disorders suffer primarily from a delay in brain development, not from a deficit or flaw. Experts say the findings of the two studies, being published today in separate journals, could change the way scientists, teachers and parents understand and manage children who are disruptive or emotionally withdrawn in the early years of school. The studies might even prompt a reassessment of the possible causes of disruptive behavior in some children." One side note is that they found that math

More Science and Engineering

Following up on Bill Gates' remarks, this article appeared in the NY Times about biotech programs. From the article: "We know the refrain by now: the United States, birthplace of most of the great commercial advances of the last 60 years, must increasingly rely on overseas talent, otherwise known as imported brains, to maintain an edge. Talented immigrants are crucial to American vitality, and employers are smart to woo them. But research universities aren’t content to rely only on the overseas pipeline, and are working to make science and engineering studies more appealing to American students. Sometimes overlooked in this mix is how high schools can help cultivate a fresh crop of scientists, engineers and lab technicians. Secondary science and mathematics education is on the rise, with growing numbers of students in more challenging classes. Enrollment in advanced biology and physics courses doubled from 1997 to 2004, nearly doubled for advanced math and rose 50 percent fo

Bill Gates: Get Thee to School Young People

This article appeared in the Seattle Times under the title, "Bill Gates Sees Engineer Shortage Looming". In the article, he makes a lot of pertinent points such as: -"The overall picture is that the United States is not turning out, from any group, as many of the great engineers as there will be jobs for," he told an energetic audience gathered at the company's Redmond headquarters for a weekend conference of the National Society of Black Engineers." -Fewer people remain interested in technological work as they progress through school, and there's a particular drop-off among women and minorities, groups that are already underrepresented in computer science, Gates said. "We have to think, what is it, in high school, in college, that really knocks things off track," he said. Later, drawing on his work through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with U.S. high schools, Gates said solutions include smaller classes; curricula focused on s

Odds and Ends from the School Board Meeting

What can you say about a Board meeting that - 2 1/2 hours in - wasn't even halfway done? And the speaker list wasn't even full? First, you have one speaker who is a long-time public annoyance and got up and proceeded to make racist remarks to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and then, when Cheryl Chow asked him to stop, made racist remarks to her. Cheryl asked him to stop, he shouted about his First Amendment rights and Cheryl called an intermission and the entire Board left. Then he goes on and on with Security who are then forced to call the police who had to drag him out. I wouldn't have any problem banning this guy from speaking. He's done this numerous times and it just gets old. One interesting thing I learned from one speaker is that AE II is now called Thornton Creek School (and they want the Assignment plan to give them an "in" to Salmon Bay). I myself was speaking against an Action item to take all the 15% contingency fees that each BEX III project has

From Steve Sundquist

Here's another introduction from a newly elected Seattle School Board member, Steve Sundquist . "Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers. I decided to run for the Seattle School Board because I believe deeply that all of our children deserve a quality education and the opportunity to succeed. I’m hopeful that this year’s election marked an important turning point for Seattle’s schools and the leadership of our District. The public voted by significant margins for school board candidates who possess broad and deep experience. As I listened to each of the recently elected candidates on the campaign trail, I heard us echoing similar priorities while maintaining our unique voices and frames of reference. As I said repeatedly during the campaign, my focus will be on raising standards, improving the academic achievement of all our students, and turning around our under-performing schools so that all children, in all neighborhoods, get the quality educa

Looking Good For Simple Majority

With a bit under 69,000 ballots estimated left to count , 32,000 of which are in King, 4204 is likely to pass.

Consultants and a Plan; So What Else is New?

This was sent out by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson (I'm not sure to whom but likely community leaders): As I begin my fifth month in Seattle, I am impressed by the dedication and passion of our staff members in our schools and in our central office. I have seen areas of excellence throughout our District, where our students are successful, our staff are energized, and our families are engaged. You may have heard about or been involved in some of the reviews that are underway in our district. The purpose of these reviews is to identify these areas of excellence, develop plans to enhance and expand those areas, and direct resources and best practices to areas in need. This can ensure that our district becomes a "District of Excellence," recognized throughout Washington and the nation. Today, I am delighted to announce a deepening of our relationships with local philanthropic partners dedicated to excellence in Seattle Public Schools. The support of our local philanthropic

From Peter Maier

After the election, I invited all the newly elected School Board members to post something on this blog. Peter Maier is the first to send his piece in. "With most of the votes now counted, I have been elected to the Seattle School Board by a majority of over 63%. I thank the voters of Seattle for the trust they have placed in me. I recognize that the incumbent Sally Soriano had the support of a significant number of voters, including some contributors to this blog. With the election now over, I hope we can put it behind us and unite around our common goal of achieving a quality education for all Seattle public school students across the city. For my part, I will listen carefully to all persons who care about our schools, regardless of which candidate they supported in the election. Now the hard work begins. We are fortunate to have School Board members, both new and old, who are dedicated to improving our schools and to sustaining the many good things that are already happe

Simple Majority IS Passing

As of 6:00 p.m. on 11/13, Simple Majority is ahead by 6,000 votes. Stay tuned!

Agenda Item: School Transformation Plans

There is this apparently innocuous item on the Board agenda for this week. It is titled " School Transformation Plans " and appears to be another of those routine administrative tasks that state law requires of the Board, such as approving all warrants, the personnel report, and certifying that new construction won't exacerbate segregation. Here's the language of the actual motion: " I move that the Seattle School Board approve the method of review of school transformation plans outlined by the Chief Academic Officer, accept the Chief Academic Officer’s certification that each school in the District has complied with WAC 180-16-220, and approve the schools within the District. " It appears that the Board is doing three things here: 1. Approving a method used by the CAO to review School Transformation Plans 2. Accepting the CAO's certification that there is a plan for every school and that every school's plan complies with the requirements of a sta

Inappropriate Maturity Expecations

Dan Dempsey sent me a link to a very interesting article in the New York Times on children's behavior and learning: Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say . I found the whole article fascinating, but my favorite quote was: “I think these may become landmark findings, forcing us to ask whether these acting-out kinds of problems are secondary to the inappropriate maturity expectations that some educators place on young children as soon as they enter classrooms,” said Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education, who was not connected with either study. One of the reasons I love my daughters' school (Pathfinder K-8), is because the teachers have appropriate maturity expectations for the children in their classes. The expectations are not low --- in fact I think they are quite high --- but they are appropriate and grounded in research on what is developmentally appropriate for small children. For example, the kids in the

Simple Majority -- Will it Pass?

I just checked the latest election results , and the "Yes" votes now only trail the "No" votes by 2620 votes. I'm betting that when all the King County results are counted, the initiative will pass. See the Simply Better Schools website for updates and information.

Seattle Council PTSA

From the SPS Schoolbeat newsletter: The Seattle Council PTSA invites the community to its general membership meeting Monday, November 26. Tracy Libros, Enrollment and Planning Manager, Seattle Public Schools, will share the District’s plans for the next phase of the new Student Assignment Plan . Also, guest speaker Ortencia Santana, membership chair of the Beacon Hill PTA, will share some of Beacon Hill’s approaches to increasing family involvement in multicultural communities. Santana has been recognized on a statewide level for her accomplishments in family involvement. Child care and language interpreters will be provided at the meeting. For more information, contact the Council’s office at (206) 364-7430 or e-mail info@seattlecouncil > Seattle Council PTSA General Meeting Monday, November 26 6:30 - 7 p.m. – informal networking 7 - 9 p.m. – general meeting John Stanford Center 2445 Third Ave. S.

Post-election News

From the SPS Schoolbeat newsletter: The formal swearing-in ceremony for these Peter Maier, Sherry Carr, Steve Sundquist and Harium Martin-Morris is scheduled for Wednesday, November 28, 6-7 p.m. in the auditorium at the John Stanford Center. All are welcome. The first meeting of the newly elected Board is Wednesday, December 5. Carr, Maier, Martin- Morris and Sundquist will join Directors Michael DeBell (District 4); Mary Bass (District 5); and Cheryl Chow (District 7). Wednesday, November 14 will be the last meeting at which the current Board will preside. About 7:30 p.m., the Board will take a short break for refreshments and to allow outgoing Board members Dr. Brita Butler-Wall, Darlene Flynn, Sally Soriano and Irene Stewart to be honored for their dedicated service to the students of Seattle. From the PI: "House Joint Resolution 4204 has netted 690,580 votes statewide, or 49.9 percent, according to the Secretary of State's Office. There are an estimated 178,1

The Internet and Students

I organized a parent education night at Roosevelt and we had, as our first speaker, a parent who is also a psychologist that specializes in teens and electronic addiction. It turned out to be less of a talk and more a guided discussion. It was great because many of us had the same issues about video games, ipods, cell phones and internet use (interestingly, tv never came up). The point was raised that our children have been born into an electronic world and never known differently (unless they were Amish - even kids without computers in their homes encounter them at school). For them, these items are like appendages. What is troubling to me is the long-term ramifications of some of the uses of these items. If you own a cell phone (or your child does), there is also likely a camera in it. Anyone can be shot anywhere at anytime doing almost anything and zip! There it goes up on a blog or MySpace or Facebook. And once it's on the Internet, it may be impossible to know whe

No, Thank You Brita

This editorial by Director Brita Butler-Wall appeared in today's PI. Well-said, Brita.

Special Education Audit Report

This article on Special Education in SPS appeared in today's Times.

Interpreting the School Board Election Results

Since Wednesday morning, I have been having conversations with people about the election results. And when it comes to the School Board election results, which are of particular interest to me because I have gotten to know many of the people involved, I have spent a fair amount of time in discussion about the "meaning" of the results. I didn't find the results a surprise, given the primary results, the buzz, and the media endorsements. But I did find some of the specific numbers and margins of victory surprising. For example, I find the number of votes David Blomstrom received alarming. How could 18,562 people (and still counting) vote for him? Are those the voters who haven't read anything about a candidate and just choose based on name? And the margin of victory of Steve Sundquist over Maria Ramirez also surprises me. Everyone I talked with had high opinions of both of the candidates, and I expected the result to be much closer, although I guess the current general

Update on NCLB

This article about the NCLB renewal legislation appeared on Tuesday in the NY Times. Someone had asked on a previous thread about what would happen if renewal legislation wasn't passed. "It passed Congress with bipartisan support in 2001 and will remain in effect even without Congressional action. But the administration and Democrats in Congress had repeatedly promised to make important changes to it this year, including some that would alter judging student performance. Despite dozens of hearings, months of public debate and hundreds of hours of Congressional negotiation, neither the House nor the Senate has produced a bill that would formally start the reauthorization process." And the future? "Speaking of reauthorization, Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education in Washington, said, “It’s dead for this year.” “The more things move into the presidential election year,” Mr. Hartle added, “t

News From Seattle Council PTSA

Legislative Roundtable November 15, 6:30-8:30pm Hamilton International Middle School ( registration and light dinner); 7pm program Come sit down at a table with your district legislators and discuss key education issues! Registration starts at 6:30pm with the program beginning at 7pm including a mix of panel discussions and small groups by legislative districts. Refreshments. Also be sure to mark your calendars for WA State PTA Focus Day, February 13, 2008 (in Olympia). More information to follow. (This might be a good time to follow-up with legislators after the failure of the Simple Majority Amendment and ask where do we go from here.) School-Family Partnership Advisory Committee seeks new members Nomination deadline extended to Nov.16 Click here to download a nomination form or here for a description of the committee. Special Education Program Fair December 1, 9am-12:30pm Meany Middle School (301 – 21st Ave E, 98112). The fair will consist of worksho

School Board needs a new bylaw

Sometimes when you make a mistake you get away with it. Sometimes you get really lucky and your mistake results in a benefit. Usually, however, when you make a mistake it costs you. The School Board made a mistake and, if they don't fix it, we will all pay for it. As a result of Tuesday's election, every member of the Board Student Learning Committee will be leaving the Board at the end of the year. There is no excuse; allowing a committee to consist entirely of Board members who all have the same term of office is just bad planning. This time it will result in a number of losses. First, all of the Committee's work in progress will be lost. There is no reason to believe that the new committee members will complete the work of the current committee. Second, all of the Committee's momentum will be lost. The new Committee members will have to start from a dead stop. They will have to set new priorities, generate a new workplan, and start new initiatives all from scr

Texas School Blog Sued by District

Thanks to Dorothy for passing along this item about a woman in Texas with an education blog who is getting sued by her district for saying bad things about administrators. To whit: "The postings accuse Superintendent Lynne Cleveland, trustees and administrators of lying, manipulation, falsifying budget numbers, using their positions for “personal gain,” violating the Open Meetings Act and spying on employees, among other things. Tetley (the blogger) said the postings were opinions only." What's interesting is who they are threatening to sue: "Feldman (the district's lawyer) cited 16 examples of what he says are libelous postings. Half were posted by Tetley; the other half were posted by anonymous users." I'm assuming he'd have to get a subpoena for who the anonymous posters were in order to sue them . From what people here have said about their wish to remain anonymous, well, there's anonymous and there's the force of a subpoena.

Middle Schools in Seattle

Conventional wisdom in Seattle is that there are some very good elementary schools, and some very good high schools, but that middle schools are problematic (perhaps with the exception of Eckstein). I certainly know several families who have sent children to public school in Seattle for K-5 and 9-12, but have gone private for middle school. If you have concerns about middle schools in Seattle and want to have conversations with others who share your concern, Communities & Parents for Public Schools (CPPS) of Seattle is offering you that chance. I received the following notice from Stephanie Jones, Strategic Organizer for CPPS of Seattle: I’m looking for parent representatives from across the city and from different types of schools, to join a study group that CPPS is forming about middle school education in Seattle – defining what a high quality middle level education should look like; what Seattle does or doesn’t do to support parents’ visions of high quality middle school; and

Mike Riley Leaving Bellevue

Big news from the Bellevue School District this morning --- Mike Riley has resigned as Superintendent. Bellevue schools chief takes national job (Seattle Times) While I admired the fact that Mike Riley was able to create significant change in a short period of time (which is not easy to do in any large bureacracy), I know several Bellevue teachers personally who will be happy to see him go. His implementation of a lock-step curriculum that took away much of teachers' creativity and freedom has frustrated teachers.

Elections: Open Thread

Am I surprised by the outcome of the SB races? Not really. I had thought that the incumbents' races might actually be worse losses than they were. I'm amazed that many people voted for Harium's opponent. I am sad that the Simple Majority didn't pass. What it means, to me, is that we have to get the Legislature to do its job so that the levies are not life or death for our district. It's just too much of a dark cloud to live under. We now are facing a whole line-up of new faces in our district in senior management, both elected and hired. Now is the time for compromise and consensus and clarity in vision as we move forward. P.S. By the way, no matter what the person's background is professionally, nothing is like sitting on the Board. I've talked to enough Board members and that's what they all say. There is a learning curve to everything. I'd say Sherry is the one to be in the best place to hit the ground running as her background po

And They're Off!

I voted first thing this morning and it's probably the last ballot I will be able to cast at a polling place. No one else was voting but my husband and me. I'm going to a Sherry Carr event tonight. If anyone else goes to another SB candidate event, let us know how it goes or if you saw a crowded polling place. As I mentioned before, SB races tend to have far lower votes than, say, City Council. It'll be interesting to see what the turnout is for SB. Good luck to all the candidates.

Another Way to Help SPS

Nicole Brodeur's column in the Times highlighted yet another way to help a good program benefiting SPS students. I recall a thread asking what we could do to support our school system. "Or maybe you can get involved with 826 Seattle. The Greenwood writing lab, founded by author Dave Eggers, not only welcomes help at its after-school program, it sends its volunteers right into the classrooms to sit beside students and see, firsthand, what's going on in the schools." One interesting thing: "The program has 830 people waiting to volunteer, and 230 active volunteers who help some 35 kids through their homework every day. The seven 826 chapters in the country are named for the original chapter's address: 826 Valencia St. in San Francisco." I wish we could funnel some of those 830 people into the school system somehow if they are volunteering to work with students.

Good Homework Advice

I saw this article, Winning the Homework Wars , in this month's Seattle Woman magazine. It has some good thoughts about homework including: -time of day to do homework (for teens) -having them put due dates for large projects/tests on a calendar in a prominent place so you can hold them accountable without saying a word -turning it in (I have experienced this...a lot. It's an article worth reading.

Pop Quiz!

Emily Heffter's reporter's notebook on the SB races has a quiz to help you figure out which candidates align with your views. I wish it had been out sooner because I think it's a good basic guide to picking a candidate (albeit in a more shallow way than you might want).

Well That's One Way To Look At It

The Times, on Election Eve, had this editorial . Their take is that yes, there is a few big-money donors to some campaigns but that's because we're the biggest district in the state. Oh and thanks for explaining that to us because it had been quite a mystery. "Contrasted with two years ago when a $4,500 campaign contribution represented a high mark, the $5,000 and $10,000 checks written this year to unseat two incumbents and elect two others stand out. But a scroll through the Washington Public Disclosure Commission's Web site reveals how much people care about the schools. A few big checks are heavily outweighed by hundreds of contributions in the $10, $25 and $50 range from people with a vested interest in the city schools. Money can signal the intrusion of special interests into politics. There are no contribution limits for School Board races. But there's nothing alarming, here. The $500,000 raised so far by seven candidates vying for four board seats is a

Two Court Cases May Spur Legistature To Fund Education Realistically

Interesting front page story in the PI this morning about another case about education funding in Washington State. "A King County judge ruled Friday that the way the state doles out salary money to school districts is uneven and unconstitutional, potentially forcing the Legislature to revamp how it funds education -- and giving a boost to the movement to increase school funding in the state." As many of you may know our funding system is based from 1977 parameters and obviously, things have changed since then. "The Federal Way lawsuit, filed a year ago, maintained that there are serious disparities in how the state reimburses school districts for salaries. Some districts are allotted higher salaries for staff positions, while neighboring districts inexplicably received lower amounts for the same positions. Unlike another pending lawsuit over education funding, the Federal Way case doesn't challenge whether the state is providing enough money, but claimed that it

Seattle Public Schools names CFO - Seattle PI

P-I STAFF Don Kennedy has been hired as the chief financial and operations officer for Seattle Public Schools, joining the district's new superintendent, with whom he previously worked. The role combines responsibilities that had been split between two jobs. Kennedy will oversee the district's business operations, including enrollment and planning, facility services and capital projects. He also will supervise the district's finance department. Since 2004, Kennedy had been the chief financial and administrative officer for the Charleston County School District in South Carolina, the district previously headed by Seattle's Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. He began his career as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force, and later worked as a training analyst, instructor and finance manager for Boeing. His first day on the job was Thursday.

Union Funding and "Who Are Those Kids"? in SB Races

Emily Heffter's reporter's notebook on the SB races had some interesting blurbs. One is about where the other source of larger donations comes from (the first being venture capitalists/business leaders), namely unions. The incumbents received much of their donations from unions except for the SEA which gave to Peter Maier. The other story is about who the kids are in photos on the candidates' literature. Frankly, I was kind of surprised because I always (naively?) thought they were candidates' children or children of friends. Turns out on both Steve Sundquist and Peter Maier's literature at least one photo is a stock photo taken from the Internet of anonymous kids (they each have one with local kids who they may or may not know). Sherry Carr's photo includes her daughter and other kids and Maria Ramirez knows the kids in her photo. (One thing interesting about Sherry's photo is the use of older kids; it's nearly always elementary aged kids. Mayb