Showing posts from September, 2008


From the Seattle Council PTA: Seattle Council PTSA will hold a general membership meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 22 at theStanford Center at 7 p.m. School Board Work Session on Capacity issues: Wednesday from 4-5:30 at the Stanford Center. For a comment form, meeting materials, updated frequently asked questions or enrollment projections , please see Input from the September community meetings has been posted. Input Sought for BTA Levy: 6-8:30 p.m., Oct. 6 (Broadview-Thompson K-8, library), Oct. 8 (Meany MS library), Oct. 9 (Mercer MS library), Oct. 10 (West Seattle HS library) SPS invites staff, families and community members to provide input as the district plans for the next capital levy, tentatively scheduled for a vote in February 2010. Future meetings and updates on the Capital Program Levy Planning will be posted at Arts Education Forum 7 to 8:30

State Auditor Releases K-12 Audit

The State Auditor's office released a report of K-12 education in Washington state. It covers the larger districts in the state (10 in all) including Seattle. It's quite a long report at 140 pages. I'll only cover Seattle. Here are their findings and recommendations: Seattle has a large backlog of deferred maintenance, risking higher repair and/or replacement costs in the future. The district should: Identify their deferred maintenance backlog, estimate a cost to clear the backlog and track their work. Develop and follow a formal deferred maintenance plan, including a timeline to complete the work and a corresponding budget plan. Develop and follow a formal preventive maintenance program. Deferred maintenance can be classified as deficit budgeting, in that spending needs accumulate. Many times the deferred maintenance projects are big-ticket items requiring considerable funding, perhaps more than a district can afford in one year. Excess building capaci

Upcoming Board Meeting Agenda

Before Wednesday Board meeting there is a Board Work Session, from 4:00-5:30, which had been advertised as being about the Assignment plan but now reads "Capacity Management Priorities." I have to wonder if the capacity issues are overwhelming the discussion so they are putting off the assignment plan or if it is part of the discussion. I wasn't able to reach anyone at the Board office to ask. The first look at the agenda for this Wednesday's meeting and boy, is it chockful of odd and interesting items. First up, they are selling several properties: The Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Community Center property is selling for $3,005,000 and the Small Faces property for $1.3M. They are also selling a couple of playgrounds to the City Parks. For example the Phinney Ridge playground is going for $5.4 M and the Webster playground for $1.6M. Then we have the renaming (and revamping) of the Student Learning Committee to become the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee

Special Session on the Achievement Gap

FYI All of our state's ethnic commissions (Asian Pacific Islander, Native American, African American and Hispanic)  are involved in five studies on the academic achievement gap affecting students of color. A long-standing fighter for educational equity may hold the key to aligning our efforts: Mr. Paul Ruiz, co-founder of the Education Trust. If you care about educational equity, you are urgently invited to a special session on Tuesday, October 7, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, at Sea-Tac - Washington Mutual Leadership Center at Cedarbrook, 18525 36th Avenue South.  Driving directions: Light refreshments will be served.   This event is free of charge.  Please rsvp to Alicia Luna at 360-725-5661 or or Pam Morris at 360-725-5664 or

OSPI Meeting On Science Standards

FYI The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction will hold public forums to gather feedback from the community regarding revisions proposed to the science standards. At the meeting, staff from the standards writing team will review the proposed changes, answer questions and lead small group discussions that will help the team refine its final product. SEATTLE October 7th 6:30 - 8:00pm Stanford Center Auditorium 2445 Third Avenue South RSVP to or 360-725-4961

Alternative Schools --- How Long Can They Survive?

Despite many words to the contrary, Chief Academic Carla Santoro and Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson are destroying what is special about alternative schools in the pursuit of the almighty WASL scores. For example, all the alternative schools in the district are being forced to use the standard elementary school math curriculum, Everyday Mathematics . And more standardized curriculum decisions will be coming soon. If our schools can't use alternative curriculum, then what is going to keep them "alternative"? How can a school that has multi-grade classrooms use a curriculum that requires kids to be separated strictly by grade? How can a school that believes in highly differentiated, theme-based, contextual instruction follow a curriculum where the math concepts are covered rapidly at a shallow level with no connection to other classroom work? What happens to kids that are used to being able to go as fast and as far as they can in their learning when everyone now has t

Report on Assault at RB

Hello I know many of you are dying to comment on this. I have to say that I don't know anything more than what I have read in the paper. I don't know if there is going to be a meeting about it and even if there is, I'm sure privacy laws are not going to allow much detail to be shared. If I find out anything I will be sure to post.

Program Placement Season is Open

The new Program Placement Proposal Form is ready and available online. Any Program Placement Proposals must be submitted by October 31, 2008. So if you want to move a program, create a program, close a program, you have about five weeks to write up your proposal and submit it. This year's form includes a new question: " Please describe the proposal/request and how it aligns with the District's Strategic Plan "Excellence for All," and with the recently completed reviews (e.g. Bilingual Review, Curriculum Audit, Special Education Review). " Also, on this form, the academic achievement gap has been re-titled as the "education gap". I wonder if this is suppose to reflect a shift in the responsibility from the students to the teachers.

Is Being Educated Elitist?

This op-ed piece in today's PI caught my interest because the term "elitist" gets thrown around a lot during presidential (and other) elections. The author, Steven Roy Goodman, is discussing getting an Ivy League education and whether it can hurt you should you choose to run for office later in life. (Please note: I'm NOT looking for a fight or even a discussion about right versus left, liberal versus conservative. I'm trying to start a discussion about education and what it means in American life.) I grew up at a time when many adults hadn't gone to college and most parents dreamed that their children would go on to college. It was the ultimate American parent dream that your children would live better than you (based on the belief that a college education would allow you to do better). I also remember, vaguely, the huge gap between who went to Vietnam and who got to stay home (and some of that was about having a college deferment). This was viewed as


Please join the UW College of Education and the UW Alumni Association for a special lecture by Philip Bell, associate professor of learning sciences. He will be speaking on "Pathways to Excellence and Equity in Science, Math and Engineering Education." People learn about science and math in a wide range of settings—classrooms, homes, online communities. As such, education needs to be understood as taking place across a wide range of associated institutions—schools, families, after school clubs. Dr. Bell will examine why these institutions should provide youth with a broad set of life opportunities and choices associated with science and math learning. When : Tuesday, October 28, 7-8:30 p.m. lecture; 8:30-9 p.m. reception Where : UW Tower (formerly Safeco Tower) Auditorium, Fourth Floor Cost : FREE, but advance registration is requested. More information and online registration... Space is limited—please register in advance. You may also register by call

Upcoming Events

There are a number of upcoming events and community engagement opportunities for you to know about. CAPACITY PLANNING If you visit the District's Capacity Planning web site , you can provide feedback on a form . A School Board work session on this topic is scheduled for Wednesday, October 1, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Board Work Sessions are open meetings and the public is welcome to attend, but the Board does not take testimony at a work session. BILINGUAL REVIEW On September 25 Veronica Maria Gallardo, Seattle Public Schools' Bilingual Program Manager, will share the findings from the Bilingual Peer Review with the community. The meeting will be held at Aki Kurose Middle School, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the cafeteria. An informative presentation will be followed by small group discussions to provide additional information and to seek feedback. Additional meetings will be scheduled during October. For more information, call the Bilingual Family Center at (206) 252-7750. Simultaneous inte

School Messenger Test Today

This from the Seattle Council PTSA: SchoolMessenger Automated Phone test 9/24 Seattle Public Schools will be testing their SchoolMessenger automated phone system tomorrow 9/24 “earthquake preparedness day.” About 10% of families will receive test calls. Principals have been asked to advise students. Information posted at: . (From Patti Spencer, SPS Communications Manager) I don't know much about the new Messenger system except that the District is bringing it online to advise parents of school closures due to emergencies (earthquake, snow, etc.) or other timely news. I'm not sure when it will be totally live.

Superintendent Evaluation Instrument

The Board is considering a Superintendent Performance Appraisal Instrument . The bulk of the tool keys off the Strategic Plan, but it includes other assessments as well. Altogether, it's not bad. It could benefit from an additional matrix keyed off of Policy B61.00 , but the current version would be good enough. It would certainly be better than whatever the Board used last year, which was nothing, to determine that the Superintendent earned a 10% raise.

Board Evaluation Instrument

At the last Board meeting, the Board introduced a motion to approve and adopt Board and Superintendent Evaluation Instruments. I will discuss the Superintendent Evaluation Instrument later. Today, I have to point out how completely horrible, inadequate, inappropriate, and misguided the Board Evaluation Instrument is. The Instrument keys off of the Board's Affirmation of Responsibility , which is, itself, a horrible, inadequate, inappropriate, and misguded document. Here's the fundamental problem with both of them: they don't address the Board's job. What are the Board's functions, duties and responsibilities? 1) The Board is - first and foremost - a policymaking body. Yet there is nothing in this Evaluation Instrument that asks if the Board is fulfilling that function. The sad answer is that they are not doing a good job of setting Policy. Where is our Student Assignment Policy? The Board is very late with it. The Board has not made much progress on the huge backlo

Who Makes What?

This information was part of a story in the PI on September 11th. Here's a link to the search function at OSPI for administrators, teachers or anyone working in K-12 education in Washington State. I want to add their last line: "All data is provided "as is" and from public records. It is not warranted by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer or" Or me.

Roosevelt Capacity Meeting

I attended the district's meeting about Capacity Planning and Management Phase 1 Community Meeting (the actual title). I wandered in about 6:15 and there were maybe 40 people, started talking to a couple of people and turned around - there were about 100 people in line. By the time the meeting started (late), there were about 300 people there, some sitting on the stairs and for small group sessions, two groups went to the library. I was told by someone that the meeting at Blaine had about 125 people. School Board members there: Harium Martin-Morris, Cheryl Chow, Steve Sundquist, Michael de Bell and Peter Maier. There were a couple of legislators (and candidates) including Senator Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Peterson along with Gerry Pollet, a candidate for the 46th district. We were told that this meeting was only for a short-term solution(s) for the 2009-2010 school year. They explained why we were at this time and place (not enough capacity in NE/NW) and basically said the 10-

Sounds LIke Fun

The Seattle Rep is putting on The Three Musketeers from Oct 5-Nov. 15. For the October 5th 3 p.m. staging, kids come free with each full-priced adult ticket. Also before the October 5th matinee is a Musketeers Training Camp - create your own hat, tunic and sword and learn some combat moves. You have to reserve a spot for the pre-show activities at 206-443-2222. (Not pushing the Rep but it sounded like a good, low-cost activity for kids.)

Capacity and its Difficulties

It's interesting, the difference a few years makes, but the stories of district overcapacity (meaning too many schools, too few students), which led to school closure, are changing. While still true across Seattle Public Schools as a whole, pockets of district undercapacity (meaning too few seats in certain geographic areas) are causing the district to look at things a little differently. Parents and community members should be aware of this situation, which CPPS has been following for a few months. On the one hand, press for more classroom space in NE Seattle by elementary parents whose choices and educational experiences are limited by overcrowding in all non-alternative NE cluster elementaries has brought a new angle on capacity to public light. And it isn't strictly a NE problem. All elementaries and most middle schools north of the ship canal, as well as in Queen Anne and Magnolia are or will soon be facing space and accessibility issues. On the other hand, such crowd

A dream for MLK

I recently heard about this meeting: Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School School Use Advisory Committee Third Meeting Date: Thursday, September 11, 2008 Time:7 PM - 9:00 PM Location: Madrona Elementary School, Cafeteria (1121 33rd Avenue) Here is your chance to provide public comment to the advisory committee which will identify uses and recommend criteria for the establishment of non-school uses for Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, 3201 East Republican Street, to the Director of the Department of Neighborhoods. Seattle Public Schools wants to consider MLK Schools for possible non-school uses that are consistent with the underlying zoning (SF 5000). The Committee will gather and evaluate public comment to establish criteria of non-school uses of the building and grounds, which are compatible with the surrounding community, zoned Single Family 5000. The Land Use Code requires a minimum of three public meetings. The committee can recommend any relevant conditions for perm

Lunch Issue at NOVA

Yesterday was my daughter's first day at NOVA alternative high school. She has been looking forward to going to school there ever since the start of the year and her first day did not disappoint. Except in one area. Students at NOVA have been able to buy healthy vegetarian meals cooked on site, but the NOVA kitchen is closed right now. The weird thing is that no one seems to be able to tell me why. I have some folks saying that it is a liability issue - that there's no insurance in case any one is harmed either in the kitchen or by the food. Some folks say that it's a union issue - Local 609 demands that only union members provide nutrition services on campus. Some folks say that it has to do with the person who runs the kitchen getting certified to provide CTE classes and credits (students work in the kitchen as a Occ Ed class). But no one can actually explain anything to my satisfaction. I'm trying to get information about the situation, but it has been surprisingly d

Two Schools at Step 5 Must be Restructured

There are two Seattle public schools which have reached Step 5 of NCLB sanctions: Aki Kurose Middle School and The African-American Academy. Federal law requires that these schools be restructured. Last year, when the schools were at Step 4, they were required to write a restructuring plan. This year they are required to implement it. So what are these restructuring plans? What do they say? I wrote to the District and asked for copies but have no reply as yet.

Merit pay for teachers?

Merit pay for teachers was discussed on KUOW's "The Conversation" this afternoon. I haven't had a chance to listen to the show yet, but did read some of the background links they provided: 'Merit pay plan's unintended lesson' , St. Petersburg Times 'Pros and Cons of Merit Pay For Teachers' , Elementary Education It's a tough issue to say the least. I like the idea of rewarding the best teachers. I think money for a rewards system would be easier to come by politically than simply raising pay for all teachers. But, setting up the right metrics to decide who is best is certainly problematic. Bonuses cannot be based on test results alone -- as per the Florida example, you don't want to set up a system where teachers in affluent schools reap most of the rewards. Also, teaching at its best is a team activity, and we cannot have a bonus system that pits good teachers against each other. Perhaps all of the teachers in a school should ge

Special Education Change Coming?

Back in November 2006, I wrote a post called: Special Education Students to Be Dispersed? Now, as I belatedly comb through e-mails from blog readers over the summer, I find that a similar proposal is once again being discussed. According to one blog reader, The staff at Lowell Grade school have informed me (in June of 2008), that they have been informed by the Seattle School District administration, that Lowell Grade school will be broken up, with all special education staff and children then being scattered through Seattle general education schools, following the spring 2009 school quarter. He continues... NOTE: The Seattle School district administration now classifies each individual "special needs" classroom as a "program", which has removed the classrooms from Seattle School district School Board control and oversight. Does anyone else have more information about what is being proposed?