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Showing posts from February, 2008

This Week's School Beat

This week's Seattle School District School Beat seem particularly full of interesting information. Check it out at: SCHOOL BEAT - Seattle Public Schools

New Website Focuses on Public School Successes

From an e-mail I received today: The Learning First Alliance has launched http://www.publicschoolinsights.org/ , a new website that promotes a fresh, 21st-century vision for public schools, with real examples of what is working in all kinds of public schools and districts. On the site, you can learn about imaginative strategies public schools are pursuing to help students succeed. You can also hear insights from extraordinary people on public education's front lines, listen to exclusive interviews with leading thinkers, and find tools to help you tell stories about success in your own public school or district. The Learning First Alliance is a permanent non-profit partnership of 18 major national education associations that collectively represent over 10 million dedicated teachers, parents, principals, superintendents, teacher educators, school board members, school counselors, and other school and district staff.

KUOW Show On Picking a School - 1 PM Today

Here's the topic for today's KUOW (94.9 FM) show, The Conversation. It airs at 1 p.m. but you can always go to their website (kuow.org) to listen to it on your computer anytime. The deadline for the Seattle School District open enrollment is tomorrow. It's a high stress time for many parents. How do you chose a school? If you don't like your neighborhood school, what do you look for? Small class size? Strong test results? When you visit, what are you looking for? Does your kid get a vote? Tell us how you decide on a school. It's particularly tricky when you're choosing kindergarten. You're not yet sure what kind of classroom will work best for your kid. Are you hedging your bets by also applying to private school? Also today, behind the scenes at the 9/11 Commission. New York Times reporter Philip Shenon found the head of the commission tried intimidate the staff from findings that would be harmful to President Bush. We'll speak wit

Audit Shows What We All Know Already

At last night's School Board meeting (quite an emotion-filled evening, more on that on another post), the curriculum-management audit results were explained by a rep from Phi Delta Kappa International, which is a professional association of educators that did the audit. Here's the story that appeared in the PI today. From the article: "Though the report's primary purpose was to examine how the district designs, delivers and evaluates curriculum, it was much broader in scope than previous audits, touching on such areas as school facilities, budgeting and administration." For my money the best thing said was that site-based management swung too far and left too many schools struggling. The consultant said that there was an evolution back to more centralized control. Among the findings included in the article: "Update School Board policies related to curriculum -- some of them haven't been reviewed since the 1980s. Make sure the next comprehensive

Oh the Irony

So on the day of the vote for the contentious Denny/Sealth project (it's not like a big Oscar surprise; it'll pass with little to no dissent on the Board), here's this article in the Times about Bellevue's capital bond measure. "The Bellevue School District will ask voters to approve its largest-ever school-construction initiative, a 20-year, $545 million bond measure in a special election March 11. The measure would fund a $100 million renovation to Bellevue High School; completely rebuild three elementary schools; add science labs, classrooms and security to Sammamish High School; and modernize Tyee and Chinook Middle Schools. Because of the booming development in downtown Bellevue and the already substantial city tax base, voters can approve the measure and still end up paying half what residents pay in school taxes in many surrounding districts." Now, you look at the figure and go, holy cow! But boy, they get a lot done for their money. Interesting

What To Do About the Assignment Plan?

Lynne Varner at the Times is the latest to weigh in on the problems of changing the assignment plan (and here we thought it was going to be hard to draw the boundaries). As usual, her rhetoric is overblown and it's as if she is taking Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson to task for things that other superintendents and Boards did before she got here. At least she hired Don Kennedy who had the courage to tell the truth (outloud and in public) about the situation. She did have one line of good sense: "Better to have lasting policy than short-lived plans made in haste." I agree. Director de Bell and Director Martin-Morris seem urge to forge ahead. Which do you want - forge ahead with the plan to change the high school enrollment process by the fall of 2009 (but with the understanding that if the system blows there will be mass confusion on a huge scale) or make sure they do it right and commit the time and resources to both the system and the assignment plan and thus p

Bye Bye Memorial Stadium?

Robert Jamieson's column in the PI this morning was about what the City and the district plan to do with Memorial Stadium. I had to laugh because it's true; if the Denny's in Ballard can be a historic landmark, anything can. Jamieson does lay out the facts: the stadium is over 25 years old, has historic significance (was built for WWII war dead), easily identifiable features. What might replace it? "Planners for Seattle Center are salivating over the possibility of turning the stadium footprint into a giant parking venue or amphitheater." His take: "The people shaping the future of Seattle Center are arrogant. They seemingly care little that the stadium -- like Seattle Center -- sits on land bequeathed to the city and dedicated in historical documents for "use of the public forever." They seem dismissive that the site is owned by the school district. The land was deeded by the city to the district in 1946 for $1 with a stipulation -- th

Strategic Plan update

Here is the latest news on the Strategic Plan. We have a project plan from McKinsey and a teacher survey, conducted by McKinsey . Both are posted on the District's Strategic Plan page. Here's the short version of the teacher survey results: Instructional staff would like to see the district emphasize these initiatives: * Provide adequate facilities * Provide on-site professional development * Provide useful student achievement data to help shape instructional practices * Effectively measure central office performance * Provide uniform instruction materials From the timeline for the process, the next step will be Framework construction. During this four week phase from February to March, the McKinsey folks will "clarify feasibility and resource requirements of 'highest priority' initiatives, review resource availability (e.g., funds, capacity) and review 'highest priority' initiatives with internal and external stakeholders" This phase will conclude

Dinosaur VAX System

This article about the computer system used for the assignment plan appeared in today's Times. I don't know if it was meant to be funny but there was a kind of funny pathos about the whole situation. Like this: "I gotta say: What did we do before computers?" a frustrated Michael DeBell asked at a board work session last week. "I'm reluctant to accept that ... technology is limiting our policymaking process." I get his frustration but we're living in 2008. There's really no way to change the assignment plan without changing the technology (unless you like holding your breath and hoping no major disaster occurs). And this: "Steve Nielsen, chief financial officer from 2002 through December 2006, said parts were hard to find when he arrived in the district, and officials worried the VAX system would crash permanently. But the district had more pressing financial concerns at the time, he said. "We were trying to avoid laying off

Those Interesting Board Agendas

You'd think the Board agendas, with their Consent agendas and Action Items, might not be all that interesting. But I give the Board much credit with fleshing out the agendas by having links to information about them. Like this one: "Establish a line item budget of $2.5 million for interim sites. Monies will be drawn from the BEX III Program Reserve." Now this item didn't surprise me all that much until I read the whole thing. Here's the gist of it: "The BEX III budget did not have a specific line item budget for miscellaneous work at interim school sites to house staff and students during construction and renovation of the BEX III schools. This motion provides a line item budget of $2.5 million for interim sites. Monies will be drawn from the BEX III Program Reserve. Interim schools covered under this budget line item include Columbia, Lincoln, Boren and the portable campus at Nathan Hale High School." Now this strikes me as odd that they wouldn&

Odds and Ends

FYI, Board Work Session on High School Math Adoption, Wednesday, March 12, 4-5:30pm at JSH. For you uber-planners, here's the school calendar likely to be approved at Wednesday's Board meeting. University of Washington Adolescent Brain and Behavior Project (This is not sponsored nor endorsed by the RHS School or PTSA): Are you the parent of a 13-17 year old boy? Does your son have trouble paying attention in school, sitting still, or completing chores? -OR- Is he fidgety, restless or hyperactive? -OR- Has he been diagnosed with ADHD? If you are the parent of a 13-17 year old boy whether or not your son meets any of the symptoms above, we may be interested in inviting you to participate in a new research study on information processing in adolescent boys. Your child must be male, right-handed and not adopted in order to participate, and participation will take about 3-hours total. If the study is right for you and your son, your son will have a chance to earn up to $50 for

Questions and answers about Denny-Sealth

At the last Board meeting, a number of the Board Directors asked questions about the Denny-Sealth project, but didn't get answers from the central office staff. We have those answers for them here. Directer Martin-Morris asked if there wasn't a bait-and-switch perpetrated on Seattle's voters because they were not advised of the re-location and co-location elements of the Denny-Sealth project. Director Carr asked where the additional $5 million would come from for Option 3. Director Maier asked if we have learned our lesson on community engagement. Director Chow didn't ask any questions. Director DeBell asked about police on campus or at least some sort of onsite security personnel. Director Bass said that she would ask here questions privately. Director Sundquist didn't ask questions so much as lament the erosion of purchasing power that would come from a delay in the reconstruction of Denny Middle School. Answers to follow.

Curriculum Audit results

The agenda for the February 27 Board meeting includes this entry: "III. Superintendent’s Updates A. Superintendent’s Update (M. Goodloe-Johnson) - Improving academic achievement: Curriculum Audit Report" It looks like we're finally going to get to see it. It isn't yet on the District web site - probably won't be until the Superintendent presents it - but there is a place saved for it on the Strategic Planning page.

Weird statements about Denny-Sealth

I received an email from a teacher at Sealth in which a number of intriguing items were brought to my attention. First, here is a mysterious statement from the minutes of March 9, 2007 meeting of the BEX Oversight Committee : "Denny-Sealth at $125M is the most expensive project the District has attempted and is probably the first of a new model of addressing middle and high schools together." What new model? Co-located campuses? And what high schools are they going to address together with a middle school? After BEX III, the only high schools that won't have had recent top to bottom renovations will be Sealth, Rainier Beach, and Ingraham. As Fred Stephens said at that meeting, "At the end of BEX III, every high school will have received improvements." Here's another funny statement from those minutes: "This group [the BEX Oversight Committee] learns of every major BEX issue or concern before it goes to the Board." Hmmm. Really? And how do they

If Your Kids Eat in the Cafeteria, Note this Date

There is follow-up news on the possible bad beef distributed to schools in the article from the Times . This is a California company that processed the meat and apparently 50 million pounds went out with 20 million pounds known to be consumed (15 million pounds are in storage and 15 million pounds are unaccounted for). I had been watching a tv news item on this and was fascinated by the blaise manner of a doctor who said it might be a good idea to track the kids who ate the meat because in 20 or 30 years, they might come down with some version of mad cow disease. He made it sound like a terribly interesting science experiment but all I could think was Whatttt???

Houston, We Have a Problem

So I made 3 of the 4 hours of the Board work session on demographics. In many ways, it was not promising for the future of the assignment plan. (I'm hoping to hear from a couple of people about what I missed which seemed very important. Namely, Philosophy and Policy of the assignment plan which included a discussion of diversity, percentage of seats for Open Choice, how those Open Choice seats should be allocated (e.g. distance, SES, targeted geography, pure lottery, etc.), special programs like Special Ed and bilingual and how choice will work outside of Open Choice seats. ) All the Board members were in attendance as was Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson. The biggest news is that COO Don Kennedy, after an overview of the computer systems in use and their challenges, recommended waiting a year for any assignment plan changes even if only for high school. He did not say stop planning but to not go forward with implementation as previously scheduled. He was blunt and clear ab

Reminder and an Update

Today is the Board's 4-hour (bring a snack!) work session on demographics to help lead the Board's decisions on the new enrollment plan. I had heard they brought in an outside demographer (a good idea I think). It's important to consider ALL the children (not just ones in the system already) because that should be part of the planning - what if we get kids back from private school? (I know this is happening at Roosevelt - we seem to be one choice for those looking at Seattle Prep and Blanchet.) I also recall that when Don Nielson was on the Board, he had suggested a tiebreaker for SPS "loyalty". Meaning if you had something like two or more consecutive years in SPS prior to enrolling, you get a bump up. (His constituents had been incensed that they could be displaced by students who had never been in SPS before. It's kind of a chicken or egg question: do we want more students in SPS (and their dollars) or are we trying to keep the students that we

P-I Story on New Math Standards

There was a story in the P-I today about the new State standards for K-12 math. You can read it here . Significant elements from the story include: An expert hired by the State Board of Education says that the standards for high school students has serious problems. Seattle Public Schools intends to adopt high school math curricula and order textbooks before the standards are complete and before the OSPI announces the recommended curricula they will support. Apparently the OSPI announcements will be too late to be effective for the start of school in fall 2008. Seattle Public Schools will make a dual adoption - one conceptual math curriculum and text and one traditional math curriculum and text - and each school can choose one of them. What happened to the district's claim that they could only effectively support one curriculum? Despite the fact that Seattle Public Schools adopted Singapore math at the same time as Everyday Math, the Singapore math has not been used in any cl

Priorities, Priorities

The West Seattle Herald had a good story about the community meeting about Denny/Sealth sponsored by the Westwood Neighborhood Council this past Tuesday. They had put together a panel of speakers to address this project. I had known where staff thought the extra $10M for Sealth under Option 2 would come from and I have explained it on this blog elsewhere. What the reporter, Rebekah Schilperoort, learned was jaw-dropping to me (especially because of the hammering I took over my BEX III stand). The largest part - $5M - would come from the BEX III Infrastructure fund which is for air and water quality fixes and resurfacing playfields. Now, in my remarks to the Board on Wednesday, I told them that I knew, of course, they would fix the water and air and that it looked like that left the playfields not getting done (and one of them was Denny/Sealth). But no, folks, Salmon Bay and Summit K-12 will NOT get their air/water quality issues addressed. "These projects would likely

Open Thread

Here's an open thread for anything on your mind. The WASL is looming (I was surprised to see at Sealth a big countdown banner. Is this at your school as well?). This semester our kids have mid-winter break, the WASL (which disrupts the regular school day for 2 weeks), and spring break. Are they ever in school longer than a week? The new Enrollment plan preliminary roll-out is looming. There's a 4-hour Work Session this week on district demographics on Feb. 20, from 4-8. Just as an aside, I thought my post about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and Cheryl Chow was going to be a " just letting you know" brief. It sparked a very real and valid discussion about race. I am always surprised at what ends up with the most comments but it's what keeps this blog alive and relevant. Thanks for speaking up.

What To Do This Week?

If you are able to take the kids out and about this mid-winter break, here's a couple of good ideas. One, MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) has what sounds like a great exhibit of materials about Lincoln (including his hat!). Great NW history like: "Chances are you also heard nothing about the Knights of the Golden Circle, a militant secret society that wanted to turn parts of the West, including Washington Territory, into a pro-Confederacy nation called the Pacific Republic. In fact, the "distant" Civil War loomed so large around Puget Sound that jittery citizens asked the U.S. Navy to send a war steamer to protect Washington waters from potential attack by Confederate privateers." WHEN: Through April 20 WHERE: Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E. SPECIAL EVENT: Living History Day on Saturday will feature an authentic wartime camp, spinning demonstration, tea with "President Lincoln" and other events. Outdoor activities are free;

A Careful Post

This article appeared in today's PI. It seems the former Chief Sealth girls basketball coaches who were dismissed over an alleged recruiting case are suing the district, the Seattle Times, a reporter at the Times and gulp! a blogger (who wrote about girls basketball). The former coaches are alleging discrimination and defamation and that the district and the Times targeted them because they are black (and, that the district had no business speaking to the Times). They are asking for $5M in damages. The Times is standing by its story and a spokesperson for the district couldn't be reached. All I can say, gently, is that the charge of discrimination based on race is hard to believe given that most of the top leadership in this district is African-American. When this case occurred, it was nearly the same.

Sowing Bitter Seeds

After the financial debacle of Superintendent Olchefske, I count the closing, leasing and then the sale of Queen Anne High School (for less than market price because of a flawed lease/sale agreement), as one of our district's worst mistakes in recent history. It led to so many outcomes that rippled across our district. We had lawsuit by QA/Magnolia parents that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The outcome was a minor win for the parents (they got rid of the use of the racial tiebreakers used by SPS) but they didn't get race thrown out for use in enrollment plans. Instead, the district created a small high school, The Center School, which is great little high school but was not what those parents wanted and has cost the district a lot of money (to create and sustain). The rippled out effect are the large legal fees the district is likely to have to pay (and thus we lose money for our district) and to over enroll Ballard and likely Roosevelt and create problems there.

Heads Up on Issues that May Affect Your Adolescent

There's a couple of things that have come across my radar that I thought I would pass onto you. One was an article about the "choking game" that many pre-teen and teens try. It's basically choking yourself unconscious and getting a free-floating feeling as the blood rushes back to the brain. Eighty-two kids have died across the U.S. from engaging in this behavior (most of them boys who did it alone). Here's link to a website with stats and FAQs. Next, all of us know about energy drinks. I personally have never tried one but they are quite popular with kids as a pick-me-up. Recently I found a website with all kinds of recipes for mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Now, the industry has decided to cut out the middle-man and is selling energy drinks with alcohol. They have between 6-7% alcohol (higher than beer) and, sadly, are available in 7-11 type stores and supermarkets. They are in the same size silver cans as regular energy drinks so, at a glance

Goodloe-Johnson and Chow Seek Permanent Court Protection

This article appeared in today's Times. It is about how Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and President Chow are seeking permanent court protection against a man, Omari Tahir-Garrett, who visits the Board meetings semi-regularly. I have heard him on many occasions and always dread it when I see his name on the speakers list. In the past he would ramble a lot but in the last year, he has gotten racially abusive. I am for the First Amendment and I believe that people in public service have to know that people will come to public meetings and disagree with their decisions. Maybe even loudly and with anger. But public discourse has to be civil and that means no overt swearing (I personally don't have a problem with damn) and no racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. remarks to those officials. (Mr. Tahir-Garrett is African-American but he did accuse former CAO, June Rimmer, of being a racist and tried the same thing on Dr. G-J.) He has insulted President Chow and did make an illusion to

FYI - Parent Education

There is an author coming to Seattle who has written a book called Your Child's Strengths. I haven't read it but a couple of people have told me it is a good book. Some of the book addresses how to partner with your child's school. The author, Jenifer Fox, will be speaking at Town Hall on Wednesday, March 12th at 7:30 p..m. Tickets are $5.00 at the door or free with purchase of book at U Bookstores. Teachers attending the program will be eligible for one Professional Development unit subject to WA state regulations and forms will be available at the event (this was from the card I received; I hope it is true for teachers in our state).

The District Answers Questions (sort of)

Here are the questions and answers from last week's presentation on Denny/Sealth. Once again, the district manages to confuse the issues even more. One, I just posted over at the West Seattle blog that my questions did not appear on this document even though I went to the scribe and told her she had skipped one. Clearly, there's been some editing done. Someone else on the blog says the same thing. Two, are they building a co-joined building with separate schools or a co-joined building with integrated schools? Here's what they said in different places in the document. "To clarify: the schools are not together-they are not integrated and never will be." "There are opportunities to create a 6-12 learning community with clear values, traditions, and ceremonies that connect the students as a unified community." This should be quite the interesting meeting over at Sealth tonight especially since the district isn't in charge and won't be co

Where Do They Get This Money? (Part 2)

So I hopped up to Hale for a Facilities presentation to the public on the Hale renovation. My main concern was the chimney which either has to be taken down by half or altogether (it's a seismic issue and one of the main reasons that Hale got put forth on this BEX III along with the seismic problems in the library). Well, the chimney is getting taken care of but now, according to the architects, they're taking it all down. The design looks very nice, more natural light, new finishes overall, getting rid of portables, new classroom space. However, right there, on the cover sheet under Quick Facts, was another amazing Facilities coup. "Budget - $84.8M" Whaaaat? Let's go back and double-check that bond language and yes, it says, "$77.6". So where'd the nearly $8M extra come from? Vapors? Boy, the next time this district cries poor, it should fall on deaf ears. They have more money than they know what to do with.

Where Does the Money Go?

The Board is having a meeting on Wednesday night. The agenda is always posted on-line and always makes for interesting reading especially when it comes to Facilities. This one is no exception. First, there's added costs ($360,000) for New School (with Facilities claiming they had no idea it would need to be bigger because it is to be a preK-8, not a K-8. This was known for a long time so I don't know where they get this.) Then there's the timeline - New School is to be finished by August 2009. That is a very quick timeline for project that has just started. I suspect this will be only the first of several requests for more money for this project. I can't see how you can get building like this done that quickly. Then there's Denny/Sealth. It looks like Facilities is going with Option 2 which basically means they cough up $10M more to go to Sealth so they can appease that community. The wording here is: "The February 6, 2007 Schools’ Capital Project

Reading the Middle/High School Enrollment Guide

You never know what you'll find when you read information put out by the district. So I'm perusing the middle/high school enrollment guide. One plus is you see what the enrollments are at each school currently. For example, Eckstein is huge at 1213. Its closest competitor in size is Washington at 1038 followed by Whitman at 931 (and I know Whitman, several years back, was nearly Eckstein's size but gradually started pulling back). The sizes then drop to Madison at 895 down to Aki Kurose at 465. All of the poorly performing schools have much longer descriptions than the high performing schools. I wonder if incoming parents read the guide and wonder why some have lengthy descriptions and others don't. Then you get to K-8s. The largest K-8 is Broadview-Thompson at 671. Somehow, in my head, I was thinking a K-8, with a range of 9 grade levels, should be about 500-700. But only B-T, Salmon Bay (611) and TOPS (526) are over 500 (Blaine is 499). I was quite surp

Interesting Reading from UW College of Education

As I was going through the PTSA box I found a booklet from the University of Washington College of Education called "Research That Matters -part 5, Taking Measure, Does Modern Math Education Add Up?" I haven't read the whole thing but seems to be a thoughtful discussion. I've put a call in to see if it came to each school or how available it is. Here it is from the College's website. From the intro: "Last fall, Judy Mitchell, Dean of Washington States University's College of Education, and I (Patricia Wasley) convened a group of 26 of the state's superintendents at a conference sponsored by Microsoft. We asked,"If you are to be successful with the children we serve, what would our colleges of education be doing?" "Helping us with math achievement," they said. "Training more math teachers." "Helping us explain the 'math wars' to parents, board members and our own teachers." I don't part

FYI Special Ed Parents

Official reminder of the upcoming Feb. 13, 2008 SpecEdPTSA General Meeting at 7pm at Graham Hill Elementary, 5149 So Graham St.

Levy/Bond Election Woes

This article in the Times highlights even more woes with trying to pass school levies and bonds. From the article: "Nine school districts in King and Snohomish counties are competing with a high-profile presidential primary Feb. 19. While it promises to attract a record number of voters, it has also angered some independents who don't want to choose a party preference or have that party choice made public. School leaders say they're worried some voters will toss their ballots rather than declare a party, and not realize they can vote for local and school measures without identifying themselves as either Republican or Democrat. "Washington voters are generally independent and vote on the candidate, not the party," said Lakewood Superintendent Larry Fran├žois. "We want to make sure people understand that they can choose not to vote in the presidential primary, but can still vote in their local school elections and have their vote counted." In King

Early Preview of the New Assignment Plan

So, I, along with a few other stalwart folks, went to the 4-hour Board Work Session on the new student assignment plan. Unfortunately, I only managed to stay for 2-hours (as did Charlie). I do have the complete presentation which is likely to show up at the district website at some point although I'll warn you, without the explanations from staff, it is not altogether easiy to understand. I don't want to go into it minutely because I need to ponder what was presented. Here are some basic understandings about it: -they plan on starting with high school assignments. Meaning, next spring, 8th graders will be using a different plan than middle/elementary students to enroll for high school for Fall 2009. Some of it is because of pure logistics; fewer high schools and less software to try to manipulate. This software issue is a big sticking point because the assignment and transportation and student information data isn't all on the same software plan and they need to mov

Board Responsibilities

I've been thinking about the new Board lately and I'm becoming worried. The Board has, essentially, four duties. Policymaking Body. The Board is supposed to be the policymaking body for the District. While I have no doubt that they can write policy, they cannot (or will not) enforce policy. I've said it before, if the policies are not enforced, then they are pointless, irrelevent, and meaningless. If the policies are pointless, irrelevent and meaningless, then so is the policymaking body. If the Board does not enforce policy, then they have abdicated their responsibility to function as a policymaking body. My observation is that this Board doesn't show much interest in enforcing Policies. Manage the Superintendent. The Board is supposed to manage the Superintendent. This is closely aligned with enforcing policy as well, since one of the things that the Board is supposed to oversee is the Superintendent's policy compliance. This Board has, in a number of ways, s

A Waste of Editorial Space

So the Times has this editorial this morning about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and her various reviews of programs and the district. Did they say anything particularly useful or helpful? Nope. Did they add a nuanced view to what direction our district might go? Nope. Just "be patient and wait for her plan." And so we wait. For more review outcomes and a new plan. The Plan to End All Plans. Sorry to be cynical but we've seen it before. The latest report told us nothing that we didn't know before (except maybe that teachers are totally stressed out to the point where the stress is worse than the pay). And, the Times gets it wrong because there was no review of advanced learning programs - there was a review of APP and it's not the same thing. I can't help but wonder if there isn't already a plan in Goodloe-Johnson's head and she's trying to get the "data" she needs to enact it. We'll see.

Accountability

The accountability targets for the Southeast Initiative have not yet been set. They were due in September. So far, this is our only example of how Dr. Goodloe-Johnson implements accountability. I'm not impressed. The story I heard was that the schools were asked to set their own goals. The goals they presented in September, however, were so dreadful that they were asked to try again. Their second attempt was also sent back for revision. They are supposedly now composing their third draft. The school year is now more than half over and we still don't have the goals for this deal. Do you think that the Superintendent is going to be able to hold the schools accountable for the first year numbers when they didn't even know the target for most of the year? I don't think so. I don't think she will even try. The Board now needs to seriously consider revoking the funding for this boondoggle. After all, didn't the Board also promise accountability on this deal? So do

District Communications

I can't help noticing the District's utter failure to communicate with the public on the Denny/Sealth project. Even after the dreadful lack of communication is noted, it doesn't improve. Despite specific promises, the improvements don't appear. As of this moment, there is no mention of this evening's public meeting about the Denny/Sealth project on the District's News and Calendars page, no mention of it on the News page, no mention of it on the News Releases , there is a mention of it in a P-I article that is referenced on the In the News page, but no help finding it. There is no mention of the meeting on the Building Excellence page, no mention on the Chief Sealth/Denny Campus page, no mention of it on the Project Updates page for the Chief Sealth Denny Campus project, no mention of it on the Building Excellence News and Press Release page, no mention of it on the BEX Calendar of Events page, and, of course, no mention of it on the promised but absent buildin

We're Drowning in a Backlog of Maintenance

There was a little blurb, back in late January, buried in the PI saying that the district has a backlog of about $485 M in deferred maintenance "largely because of construction levy-failures in the '90s and inadequate state funding for education". Based on my research, I wouldn't dispute either claim - the costs or why. Problem is, it doesn't solve the how - how to catch up, what is going to happen if we don't and how, despite huge strides in construction, we really have a lot left to do. I know there are seismic issues at many, many schools (which regularly get scoffed at here) but all I can tell you is we haven't had a really BIG earthquake. (I lived in San Francisco and know what it feels like.) If that day comes, there will be a lot of damage at a lot of schools. But then you have stuff like roofs, plumbing, heating; the day to day items that make a school livable. I think Maintenance and Facilities are getting to a desperate place because of

Where Do Kids Go to High School?

There was an interesting article in the Times today about trying to keep students from the southeast from heading to north end schools. The accompanying chart showing the numbers from each area of the city for each high school was eye-opening (I wouldn't have thought Roosevelt had that many students from Central/QA/Magnolia and the south end). There are also a lot of kids from the south end who travel all the way up to Ingraham. That's a long way to get to a high school. Very few north end students travel south. The school with the most numbers from different areas of the city is Garfield (not surprising given the APP students usually go there and they come from all areas of the city). From the article: "The falling enrollment has taken a toll on many of the schools, which already teach some of the poorest kids in the city. As the schools' enrollment has dropped, so has funding. In the past few years, the schools have pieced together programs with fewer elect

Where's the Beef?

I had seen a report about this meatpacking plant in California where torture had occurred and this article in the Times reported that various districts around the state, including Seattle, are not using beef coming from this plant. For the time being, no beef is being served in SPS. The issue is "downer" cows being mistreated. They are not supposed to be used in the food supply (and the government is pretty good on its checks but they can't be there every day). It was painful to watch the tv report because the cows were run over or harassed by guys in forklifts or sprayed in the face for minutes on end with high-pressure hoses or hit with stun guns. The most important issue is the safety of the meat in the food chain but the treatment of those cows is a close second. Interestingly, the men mistreating the cows were "fired" but I'd like to hear that the owners of the plant are getting heavily fined.