Showing posts from March, 2009

K-12 Funding

"This week, state lawmakers will release a budget proposal that will make cuts in our public education system in order to close a historic budget shortfall. Kids in our public schools will feel the real impacts of these cuts. Our lawmakers need to know that we are paying attention and will hold them responsible for investing in our children’s future. Please sign the online version of the Washington Kids Can’t Wait Petition to help us pass 10,000 signatures by Friday, April 3rd. The petition asks lawmakers to: protect funding for Washington’s children and schools and redefine basic education to pay for what our children need to succeed in college, job training, work and life. (This petition is endorsed by the Washington State PTA.)" Take action: Email your legislator NOW: Sign the petition NOW: “We lead the country in science and engineering jobs, but we are one of the state

Is Your Middler Schooler Drinking? High Schooler?

Great story over at the West Seattle Blog about a mother and son who wrote a book about their journey as he started drinking. Chris (mom) and Toren (son) Volkmann will be speaking on April 8th at 7 pm at Madison Middle School. Their book is Binge to Blackout . From the article: "A focus of Chris’s advocacy is pointing out that the human brain is still developing until age 23: “Toren and I like to talk about how much research has changed. … A lot of parents don’t realize how much damage can be done. The prefrontal cortex is the last part of the brain to form - and that’s at age 20 for girls, age 23 for boys. That’s a huge length of time to be susceptible to extreme damage.” And if you start drinking in 6th grade, there's plenty of time to harm a young brain. How to start the discussion? Here's some great ideas: "So, we ask, how to open that discussion - at any age - without getting the eye roll, the “yeah, yeah, you’ve gone through all this before, I know, I

Program Placement update

At the March 18th Board meeting Courtney Cameron told the Board that she would release detailed information about the decisions made on the nine program placement proposals, including the rationale for them. There is now a link for that information on the Program Placement page of the web site. Unfortunately, the link doesn't work. It connects to last year's decisions. I'm sure the link will be fixed soon and we will all be able to see the rationale for each of the program placement decisions made for the coming year. Then we will see how they comply with the policy that governs program placements. =-=-=-=-= The link is now fixed. You can read the Program Placement decisions here . There is some interesting stuff here. First, under a section titled "Communications" it says: Families and Community Members: The approved recommendations will be posted on the Program Placement website: Individuals who submit

YMCA Summer Camp Scholarships

It's that time to start thinking about summer. Here is information that was forwarded to me that I hope you pass onto any counselors or teachers you know. I have 50 scholarships for students this summer and I would love your help getting these scholarships into deserving hands. Can you please nominate a deserving student and/or forward this email to any teachers, youth workers, or partner organizations you might know? Thanks! B.O.L.D. - Boys Outdoor Leadership Development - is now accepting registrations for our summer Mountain School. Our 5 - 16 day backpacking, rock climbing and mountaineering expeditions provide an opportunity for boys 11 - 18 years of age to develop communication, decision making and multi-cultural leadership skills through outdoor adventure, challenge and fun! This is a fantastic opportunity for young men to develop the leadership skills necessary to thrive in school, college and life all while exploring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. For more

Tracy Wants Your Input

Per Charlie's thread about boundaries, I mentioned I thought that since some K-8s are going to be used as reference schools, that Jane Addams would be as well to take pressure off of Eckstein. But the question was raised that maybe only for elementary, not middle. (The assumption may be that kids who start there will stay for middle school but how many? Enough to take 300 out of Eckstein?) So I wrote to Tracy Libros, head of the Enrollment department and said: A question came up on the blog as we were pondering possible boundaries. So, as currently put forth, some K-8s would be reference schools. Does that mean reference for elementary only or both elementary and middle? I know the new plan has middle school regions so would Jane Addams be a middle school for its region? Tracy's reply: "I’d like to hear thoughts on this from families. As I’m sure you know, we’ve switched the order of the work, concentrating on getting the assignment rules approved in June so the

Assignment Plan Boundaries

THIS IS ALL CONJECTURE SO FAR But if you take a moment to think about it, which elementary schools do you suppose would be in the assignment area for Eckstein? Since there is no middle school further north or east of Eckstein, then any elementary school attendance area north and east of Eckstein will likely be in the Eckstein area. In fact, when planning this, you might start in the northeast corner of the district and work out from there in an expanding radius until... until Eckstein is full. That would make the Eckstein feeder schools to be John Rogers, Olympic Hills, Sacajawea, and Wedgwood with high confidence. Then I reckon would come View Ridge, Northgate and Olympic View. After those six, would there be room for any more? By this reasoning, Whitman's feeder schools would be Greenwood, North Beach, Loyal Heights, Whittier, Adams, and maybe Bagley. That's six. It doesn't seem that Whitman would have room for Northgate and Olympic View. That would mean that the fe

This Week's Assignment Plan/Math Adoption Meetings

Update (3/26) There was a blurb in the Times this morning about the math adoption but I can't find it at the Times' website. Here's the lead sentence: "A math committee has recommended new math textbooks for Seattle's high schools, but it's unclear whether the Seattle School Board will approve them. At a work session Wednesday, a number of board members voiced concern that the committee's choices might be too heavily weighted toward one side of what's often a heated debate over how best to teach math." Apparently, Ms. de la Fuente argued that the texts selected strike a balance. Well, there is some disagreement. As has been stated by others previously, OSPI rates the series by Key Curriculum Press (selected for all SP high schools including Precal w/trig and calculus; the lone exception is a book by Pearson Addison Wesley for statistics)is rated highly but a recent report to the State Board of Education concluded they were "mathematica

Pronouncements From The Times

I love the Times editorial board (at least when it comes to editorials about the school district.) They make these grand declarative statements about the Board and the Superintendent and then back them up with uninformed details. Here's their editorial today about the bell times. First they intone about the Board (and no editorial about the school district would be complete unless they referenced how little they thought of the last Board): "It is slowly dawning on the board that many more tweaks of the 46,000-student district will be necessary before its costs are brought in line with its budget. In a departure from past boards, this one is not shying away from the task." Really? Who closed schools first? Oh yeah, it was the last incarnation of the Board. Also, "slowly dawning" is pretty dismissive. This Board has been well aware of the problem and if only "tweaks" could solve the problem, they would have done those first. Then they move o

Michael McGinn Running for Mayor:Seattle Schools One of Top Three Focus Areas

From the Times this afternoon: "Michael McGinn, the former chair of the local branch of the Sierra Club and founder of the Seattle Great City Initiative, in the past hour announced he will take on Mayor Greg Nickels this November. McGinn, 49, lives in North Seattle and is a former president of the Greenwood Community Council. He joins one other candidate for mayor, political newcomer and executive recruiter Norman Sigler." I listened to most of Mr. McGinn's YouTube announcement with, of course, special interest in his words on education. He said that education is always treated by public officials as a "hot potato". He says the mayor should be accountable for the success of the public schools. He said his first 2 years in office he would work to shape up the schools and listen to parents, teachers and others. He said if the schools didn't shape up, "we need to see about the City taking control of the school system." Interesting. Well, I a

"Reading Test Dummies"

This thoughtful (and thought-provoking) op-ed appeared in yesterday's NY Times. I feel the writer, E.D. Hirsch Jr., does a brilliant job in outlining how to have easier-to-take tests that are meaningful assessments. Mr. Hirsch is the author of "The Knowledge Deficit: Closing the Shocking Education Gap for American Children." From the piece: "Before we throw away bubble tests, though, we should institute a relatively simple change that would lessen the worst effects of the test-prep culture and improve education in the bargain. These much maligned, fill-in-the-bubble reading tests are technically among the most reliable and valid tests available. The problem is that the reading passages used in these tests are random. They are not aligned with explicit grade-by-grade content standards. Children are asked to read and then answer multiple-choice questions about such topics as taking a hike in the Appalachians even though they’ve never left the sidewalks of New Yo

News From the Seattle Council PTSA

Alliance for Education Community Breakfast Wednesday, May 20. Doors open 7 a.m. Program 7:30-8:45 a.m. Seattle Westin, 1900 5 th Ave. Featured speaker: Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson will speak on the state of Seattle Public Schools and on the progress of SPS’ Strategic Plan: Excellence for All. RSVP: or 206-205-0334. Boardwalk 5K Run/Walk Fitness Carnival Sunday, April 26, 8:30 a.m. University of Washington, Husky Stadium Cost: $30 adults; $10 18 and under Proceeds help raise funds for physical education programs in Seattle Public Schools. Includes 5K run/walk, Walk of Champions and fitness carnival. Prepare for the SAT FOR FREE Take the practice test at the library, receive your score at a follow-up session and learn how to improve your scores through smarter test taking. Registration is required. Times, info: … for other great teen pro

Pay for K?

Seattle schools are going through or finishing up their budget process right now. One budget problem all K-5 and K-8 schools have to deal with is the fact that the state only pays for a half day of kindergarten; Schools who offer a full day (most of them), have to pay for those FTE’s somehow. In past years, most north end schools use a “Pay for K” scheme, with varying amounts paid each month by families. Most south end schools have not. For schools that have not had a Pay for K scheme, federal Title 1 funds apparently have been used to make up the difference, since many of them have the required high percentage of FRL (Free and Reduced Lunch) students. But even some schools without Title 1 funds have managed to avoid Pay for K. This year things seem to be different, for a variety of reasons. One, the state budget shortfall has seriously affected the district, and school budgets are feeling the pain. Two, the percentage of FRL required to get Title 1 funds has increased. Three, the

UW's Foreign Language Requirement

I had heard about the change at UW for their foreign language requirement at the last RHS PTSA meeting where we had the World Languages department come in for a presentation. Then I saw this article at Crosscut. Basically, if your child has three years of one language in high school, that meets UW's language requirement. From the article: "The current policy is that students must achieve first-year proficiency in a foreign language in order to graduate from the university with a B.A. There are basically two ways that students can show that proficiency; they can complete the third quarter of a first-year language class with a passing grade, or they can take a department-administered proficiency exam." "As of next year, students who have taken three years of a language in high school will automatically satisfy the university's graduation requirement. This will have the effect of reducing, dramatically for some languages, the number of students enrolled in

Solving the Safety Issue for High School

There was a terrible police shooting in Oakland this weekend. Four officers were killed (one is brain dead from the shooting) when a parolee started shooting after being stopped in his car. Two of the officers were killed when they were trying to find the shooter at his sister's apartment after the initial shooting. From an article in the Times today: "The parolee who shot five Oakland police officers Saturday, killing three and gravely wounding another, was hiding inside his sister's apartment just around the corner, where he ultimately was shot dead himself. And neighbors knew it. But they didn't call the cops for nearly an hour. If neighbors had spoken up sooner, said one woman who lives two doors down, some of those lives might have been saved. But in East Oakland, lamented the woman, Elaine, who refused to give her last name, that just doesn't happen. "I've been crying all day. It makes you feel bad," she said, wiping her eyes just step

Press Release on Bell Times

Here is the press release from the district on bell times. According to it, schools with the earlier time( "Tier 1" )will start somewhere between 8:10-8:20, "as determined by the school". End time just says "buses available at schools by 2:45 p.m.." Schools that start later ("Tier 2") will start between 9:25 and 9:35 a.m. "as determined by the school". The buses will be available at schools by 3:40 p.m. So, again, at your next PTA meeting, sit down with the principal and ask what your principal and staff have discussed (as they are the only ones the district mentions as who may decide this issue) for your school's start and end times. One other thing that I neglected to mention. Mr. Kennedy did say that some schools may apply for waivers if their request didn't cost the district money. This might be Hale for example as they already have an 8:30 start time but if the district is claiming "consistency" as one

A Few Items from the Board Meeting

I finally watched all of the Board meeting (or all I taped). A few items I thought worth mentioning. They said that there were a total of 9 program requests with 3 granted. These came from principals and the public but they did not show a list nor state which ones were granted. Was one of those yours, Charlie? On the bell times, Mr. Kennedy said, repeatedly, that the transportation times are NOT start times . He self-corrected several times as he really wanted to make this clear to the Board. He stated that principals and staff can decide (hello, what about parents?) on the actual bell time which, I believe, can be within 10 minutes of 8:15. Beth? So, if you are middle/high/K-8, go to your principal or PTA and ask about what the real start and end time will be for your school. It was also interesting to see the list of bus ride times for the K-8s. New School has the shortest at 38 minutes. (I'm thinking because of their preference for the Rainier Valley, they don't

Income-Based and Race-Based Enrollment Tiebreakers

Based on the comments on the Assignment Plan/Math Adoption Meeting Today from yesterday, I thought I'd share some history/background on the income-based and race-based enrollment tiebreaker discussions. Race-Based Enrollment Tie-Breakers (this blog) Seattle schools' racial tiebreaker ruled improper (Seattle Times) Using income, instead of race, to identify disadvantaged students ( Income not always perfect school tiebreaker (Seattle Times) The resegregation of Seattle's schools (Seattle Times)

Tuesday Night's Meeting

I checked out Urban Impact, the location of Tuesday night's Assignment plan/Math adoption meeting. As I posted in a previous thread, I wondered why the district chose a non-district location in a faith-based building when there are other school buildings nearby. I had to drive around a bit (for reasons that will become clear) looking for this building. I managed to overshoot it and passed Dunlap, South Lake AND Rainier Beach High School. (And FYI, the new South Shore building for New School is HUGE. I couldn't believe how large this thing is and they aren't even done. That's one school opening I'm going to attend.) So the reason I couldn't find Urban Impact is because the name on the green sign in front of the building is "Emerald City Bible Fellowship, Mission Outreach". Urban Impact is nowhere to be seen on the outside of the building so keep that in mind as you look for the building. I went inside to see the meeting room and a very nice

Budget Issues at Schools

A request was made for a thread on budget issues at your school. What's happening on this front at your school?

Assignment Plan/Math Adoption Meeting Today

Charlie and I (and a handful of others, about 20) attended this morning's district meeting. There were plenty of staff including interpreters. (I was really glad that one determined Latina mom sat at our table and had the interpreter telling her everything. Her concerns were quite revealing.) (Charlie, Leslie, anyone else that was there; help me if I get anything wrong.) I don't have a lot to say about the math adoption except that a recommendation has been made to use the Key Curriculum Press' Discovery books. The Math Manager, Anna Maria de la Fuente, did note that one study had said it was not a good series but that other math experts had said it was fine. I asked and she said it was used in the Lake Washington and Everett School districts. There is a Board work session on it March 25th, with introduction at the Board meeting on april 8th and approval/or not by the Board on April 22nd. I do have quite a bit to say about the new Assignment Plan. Here is a link

Alternative Schools Coalition of Seattle prepares for the Alternative School Audit

The Alternative Schools Coalition of Seattle Monday, March 23 2009 Potluck at 6:00 PM Meeting 7:00- 8:00 PM At TOPS K-8 2500 Franklin Ave East Cafeteria A coalition building event in anticipation of the audit of alternative education in Seattle Public Schools Please personally invite friends from other alternative schools and programs: those facing closure or change, those burned out but still caring students, families, teachers, supporters, principals, all are welcome. Numbers will count as we face the next challenge. Agenda: Follow up information from March 9th meeting. Focused small group discussion of common ground between programs using the Seattle School Board Policy C54.00 on Alternative Education and report back to group at large. Potluck A-F Treats G-Z Hearty Salads We need help with small items like plates etc… Call Marilyn 722-0793 Here is a link to the FAQ . In the optional schools sections the question is Will the