Monday, January 21, 2008

Parents' Wish List?

This question is just for the parents of kids in the Seattle School District this blog.

If you (as a K-12 public school teacher) had a magic wand, what 3 things would you change about public education in Seattle?


Anonymous said...

1. Eliminate teaching to the WASL.

2. Option for students to select a traditional math track from grades 6 - 12.

3. The return of yellow bus transportation to high schools so students could consider all high schools, not just the ones close to home. (Or good Metro options for all areas of Seattle, to all schools!)

Anonymous said...

A revamp of the Spectrum program. Keep APP the same, but make Spectrum like the advanced track in Shoreline - any kid can be in it, but has to maintain a certain percentage to remain.

Anonymous said...

1) Free, full-day preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds in the city and free full-day kindergarten for all 5 year olds. All, as in, without any sort of income test or fees.

2) More access to self-paced programs, multi-age classrooms, and opt-in rigor, to allow students of all abilities to work to their fullest potential while still being exposed to students with differing abilities. Montessori, multi-age classrooms like AS1 has, IB, and opt-in honors like Shoreline has, are all examples of programs that meet this goal.

3) A language immersion program in the Central District. Maybe at Madrona? My personal preference would be dual-immersion Russian.

4) Middle School IB. Denny would be the logical choice, given it's relationship to Sealth.

Anonymous said...

1. Class size maximum at 20.
2. Grade 1-8 APP school.
3. No fundraisers.

Anonymous said...

1. Small Class size - 20 max
2. That the State funded basic things like full time nurse, music program, librarian, etc a they did when I was a kid and maintained the schools so fundraising wasn't required to replace things that are falling apart or basic electives like music and library
3 - That all high schools and middle schools in Seattle were sized correctly and offered a diverse curriculum to serve all students including extracurriculars and advanced classes

Anonymous said...

Opt in Spectrum or honors in middle school.

Stop teaching to the WASL, and start using more meaningful assessment.

A traditional math curriculum!

Stronger focus on visual and performing arts.

Base line of offerings in HS, so every school offers consistently rigorous curriculum, AP, band, sports, drama, etc.


Anonymous said...

1. Adopt the California math standards and textbooks for all grade levels. Don't re-invent the wheel! Require teachers to pass the California grade-level math proficiency test for that grade, before they are allowed to teach math for that grade, and provide training for teachers who need it. Sample tests and textbook reviews at wwww.wheresthemath.com

2. Require education majors at Washington universities to complete a concentration sequence for proficiency in another subject (math, science, history, English, etc.) in addition to "education" courses. There are so many teachers who lack substance behind their techniques and can barely write a paragraph or do basic math. (I have worksheets my kids bring home to show this.) Fortunately there are also MANY well-educated teachers in SPS, but they are individuals who went beyond the basics required by the ed program or went back for a teaching certificate after earning their bachelor's degree in a "real" subject (e.g. anything other than BA Education).

3. Jane's suggestion at 11:50 about Spectrum.

Anonymous said...

1. Smaller class sizes - 20 max is still larger than almost any private school class.

2. No teaching to a test - WASL or otherwise

3. Get kids involved in their school on a very basic level - growing food in an on-site garden, serving food in the cafeteria once a term, reading to younger children, etc. A tall order, I guess, but kids need to feel like they are truly a PART of something at their school, something larger than themselves.

Anonymous said...

1. Traditional math curriculum.
2. Merit pay for excellent teachers and principals, the boot for the terrible ones.
3.Adequate funding from the state for all schools, so that the basics and a few goodies are available without a massive infusion of PTA funds.

Anonymous said...

1. Have the district celebrate and market its programs for gifted students. That might accidentally increase enrollment.

2. Back-to-basics math, Singapore or whatever you want to call it.

3. Get rid of the bad teachers. The student in our family has a horrible one that school administration acknowledges is bad but professes to be unable to get rid of. Yipes.

Charlie Mas said...

1. A change in culture at the District level so that it actually becomes the open, honest, transparent, engaged, responsive and accountable organization that it claims it wants to be. Fix this, and a lot of the other things people want will naturally follow.

2. An extended, intensive, and enriched program for students working below grade level to quickly bring them up to grade level and then return them to their general education classes. For all of the talk about closing the academic achievement gap by bringing every student up to Standards, there was never any specific effort to do that. Any such effort would reasonably begin by identifying the students working below Standards and giving them something different. We have programs for students working beyond standards, shouldn't we also have programs for students working below standards?

3. Have the Superintendent elected by the voters every four years and a nine-member Board representing different parts of the district (the nine elementary clusters) appointed to staggered six year terms by the mayor (4) and the city council (5). This would make the person who really has the authority in the District accountable to the public and would give us a Board that was appropriately focused on oversight and compliance. A four-year term is longer than urban school superintendents usually last, and - if re-elected - eight years of stable leadership would be amazing and wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Smaller class sizes.

Meaningful communication (at all levels, including progress reports).

Value-added assessment at whatever level is needed for an individual student, and appropriate intervention according to the results.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Smaller class sizes.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I hope some of our decision makers read this blog. Every single poster on this thread, with the exception of Charlie named reduced class size as one of their three top priorities!!!!!!

I hope the powers that be are listening.

I hate seattle schools said...

Opt in Spectrum was another very popular response on this thread.

Melissa are you going to compile the survey and send it to someone at the district or on the board?

Beth Bakeman said...

Honker101, I'm glad you asked.

What I'm planning to do with the ideas generated on this thread is create an web-based survey (using SurveyMonkey or something like that) that we can post on this blog and (hopefully) get quite a few more reponses. The decision-makers pay attention to numbers.

Current (and former) Board members and some district administrators do read this blog, but I want to take this idea a little further and do more data gathering.

Anonymous said...

1. Teach study skills
2. Have (history or science) subject matter integrated with art
3. Create governing body at every school that hires the principal, examines budget, oversees how curriculum gets kids to meet standard

dan dempsey said...

Class size --

Hey folks pay attention -

MG-J has repeatedly said that is not a concern.

In case you have not been noticing

Denny / Sealth input JSCEE could not possibly care less

Everyday Math could not care less -- in fact did not TV broadcast or Tape the Board meeting of the adoption action.

WSHS move to 6 -period day decision.
Ignore all the data and use the standard SPS method of Autocratic mandate. Complete with vindictive intimidation and putting some teachers on administrative leave.

You will have to rework the entire decision making process if you think anyone actually wants to hear you.

Sure we have some of the largest class sizes in the nation but your admin thinks that the I -728 money should be used for something other than reducing class size.

Academic literacy and math coaches for teachers. $4.2 million
High School Pathways program $3.1 million. Concern about reducing regular class sizes ZERO

Anonymous said...

Dan this was a wish list, not another opportunity for you to rant. Please give it a rest, and add your wishes for SPS.....

Anonymous said...

Have stronger focus on science in elementary school and full year science in middle school (Like Shoreline), instead of the 1/2 year Seattle offers.

Integrate the arts into all subjects in the curriculum.

Stronger focus on the conventions of writing, grammar, punctuation...

Honors/Spectrum available to all who are motivated to try it!!!

Behavior expectations defined, and enforced at middle and high school

Traditional math curriculum!!!!!

Smaller class sizes

Anonymous said...

1) Ineffective teachers need to be removed from the system and the remaining need to be paid better. This is all part of the same transaction with SEA.

The present system is way too difficult to remove the low performers, to the frustration of parents and many teachers. As a HS student parent, every semester seems to find one in 6 teachers not suited to the profession. I suspect 15% need to go. Paying teachers more without addressing this structural problem will give us nothing but higher costs.

2) Enforce district policy or get rid of the policy. A complete review is likely required by the district of what they're willing to enforce. Then those policies need to be enforced at a site level. Too often, the only way for enforcement to be considered is to make the request to higher officials after being "blown off" by site administration.

3) Challenge the HS differentiated education model that has students of all skill levels sitting in the same classes. Honors classes, Pathways and trade educations are all okay and should exist in each neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

1. Smaller classes
2. Foreign language instruction from kindergarten on, when young brains are primed to learn it
3. A district willing to listen and apply what it hears from the public.

By the by, really interesting story in the current Atlantic on how schools boards have got to go. You might not agree with all of it, but it's very much worth reading.

Anonymous said...

1) More money. Education is valuable and worth paying for:

Increase teacher pay, decrease class size, pay principals enough to attract really able managers/educators. Maintain properties. Create a municipal property tax to do this.

2)Apply best practices on every level:

E.g., California has put much thought into their math standards, don't reinvent the wheel. Have upper level educators not administrators determine what is appropriate (this may require an appointed school board so that college level educators can have a voice).

3)Be flexible:

Cookie cutters are great for cookies not kids. Create magnet schools. Allow professionals to teach their subjects (on probation for a few years) without onerous certification requirements. Make it easier to keep good teachers and get rid of bad ones. Support choice.

Beth, if you are going to do a survey, please ask people what they are willing to pay and how they think education should be funded. Questions about why people go private (what it would take to bring them back) would be interesting too.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon at 6:55 AM,

I put my wishes in the teacher's list I am a Grand-parent of a child in school.

If almost everyone here seems to want smaller class sizes, a few might actually like to put a plan in place to achieve it. That means a new model for decision making. With a new board perhaps a new model could fly for decision making. I think that Steve and Sherry and Harium may have the skills to significantly improve decision making in the SPS.

Anonymous said...

The extra scrutiny toward teachers is unwarranted and plays directly into the hands of conservatives. You can't replace teachers, there's a shortage of them. Work with what you have.

You need textbooks that children like and parents understand. Teaching is easy, when the curriculum is accepted.

If a college educated adult has to read the answer from the teacher's edition in order to comprehend it, that's unacceptable for kids. Why do these textbooks intentionally avoid basic concepts.

Well let me give you an example. Core plus 1 was orginally written as a senior level bonehead discrete statistics class - it was not intended for eighth grade. Your teachers are using it with ninth graders. Core 4 is not calculus and that bears repeating.

I know AP students? that can't get into college because their math scores are so low. They lack basic instruction in algebra! Washington schools are pathetic.

The teaching proseffors from UW and SPU should probably have stayed at their chalet retreat in Leavenworth where they may continue weeping into their coffeemugs. New math...Old math... New New Math...Boohoohooo. It makes for delightful reading.

What this country should have is a national curriculum k-12. It must be world-class and I'm not talking from Pluto.