Showing posts from November, 2009

Winter fundraising traditions

When my kids were little they attended Lafayette Elementary in West Seattle. Every year Lafayette held a craft fair in which the kids sold crafts they had made themselves. The range was amazing, the prices were impossible, and we absolutely loved it. Even after the kids left Lafayette we kept going back to the craft fair. Some of my favorite holiday and birthday gifts came from there. It will be on the evening of December 4 this year. Coming soon is the NOVA craft fair, on Tuesday, December 8, from 6:00-8:30pm, at The NOVA Project (at Meany). It features handmade crafts for sale plus make-and-take craft projects that you do yourself. There will be food available and a non-perishable food drive. For more information, visit the NOVA PTSA web page . What are the winter fundraising traditions at other schools?

Curriculum Alignment Meetings

There were two Curriculum Alignment meetings this week. If you attended, let us know what you were told and what you thought of them. There are two more next week: Monday, Nov. 30th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Ballard High School 1418 NW 65th St. Tuesday, Dec. 1 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Garfield High School 400 23rd Avenue

Upcoming Meetings

Meetings for the week of November 30-December 5th December 2nd - Board Work Session on Quarterly Strategic Plan Report 4-5:30 p.m. New Board members Oath of Office 7:00 p.m. December 3rd - Board Work Session about "Real Estate" - 3:30-5:00 p.m. Likely to discuss Memorial Stadium. I can't attend so someone please go and report back. December 5th Community Meetings with Board Members Carr - 8:30-10 am DeBell - 9-11 am Maier - 10:30- noon STEM meeting on Sat., December 5th at Cleveland High School from 9-10:30 am Students, staff, and families of current and prospective students are welcome to attend. The meeting will include a presentation, opportunity to ask questions, and a small group discussion to include: ► the vision for the STEM program at Cleveland; ► the goals and benefits of STEM; ► course offerings and program structure; ► next steps for the STEM program and how to get involved; and ► how to determine if STEM is a good

If the District Messes This One Up...

The Times has an article this morning about the City and the School Board making planning to tear down Memorial Stadium. This is wrong on several counts. First, to make clear the Seattle School District owns, outright, Memorial Stadium and the 9 prime acres of real estate it sits on. This is a very important piece of real estate if only because of the Memorial Wall. It is dedicated to those 700 Seattle high school students who went away to fight in WWII and did not come back. Some of their bodies were never found so that wall means a lot to their families. Moving away from the stadium really defeats the purpose. Now, has the district taken care of the wall properly? No. Have they really taken pains to make sure the athletes who use the stadium understand who came before them? No. They certainly can do better. Don't move the wall for design purposes. It is the home field for both football and soccer for at least 4 of the high schools and is used for graduations. I rec

Prospective Sand Point Parents (Urgent and Important)

I know someone who is now within the Sand Point boundaries. A group of these parents has organized and has a survey for parents who also live in those boundaries. They also have a Sand Point blog as well as a Yahoo group . Here is a link to the parent survey . It is live until midnight Thursday, December 3rd . Please urge parents you know in that area to participate. T here is also another survey for parents in the newly drawn boundaries for Eckstein. Here's info from the blog: "Sand Point Elementary will reopen in the Fall of 2010. We are a group of parents who live in the Sand Point Elementary attendance area. We have been exchanging ideas on the Sand Point Parents Yahoo Group, and we are organizing to ensure that our concerns are communicated. To that purpose we created the "Sand Point Elementary Community Input Survey", which emerged with the help of the McDonald Community Group, and from several in-person gatherings held over the last few weeks. P

Curricular Alignment Meetings

If you go to a Curricular Alignment community meeting - and I encourage you to go - the question you should be asking is this one: "We've tried this before without success. How will it be different this time?" There are four necessary supports for curricular alignment which are NOT in place. The people who are responsible for curricular alignment do not have control over these elements, so they can't make them happen. We have tried for years without success to establish these four necessary supports, but have never been able to realize them. So the central questions to curricular alignment will be "What will be different this time that allows us to do what we have never been able to do before?" Keep asking: How can we be sure that the students are learning the curriculum? If students who are working below grade level do not get any intervention, then they will not be ready and able to succeed with the grade level curriculum. There will be no vertical alignme

Thinking More About the New Gates Foundation Grants

[Here's a link to the Gates Foundation page with the links to each district.] Just an update on the Gates Foundation's new grants for studying how teachers are evaluated and how they get tenure. Here's an article from the NY Times. From the article: "The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday announced its biggest education donation in a decade, $290 million, in support of three school districts and five charter groups working to transform how teachers are evaluated and how they get tenure. A separate $45 million research initiative will study 3,700 classroom teachers in six cities, including New York, seeking to answer the question that has puzzled investigators for decades: What, exactly, makes a good teacher effective? The twin projects represent a rethinking of the foundation’s education strategy, previously focused largely on smaller grants intended to remake troubled American high schools. With these new, larger grants, the foundation is seek

Danny Westneat Weighs in on Sup's Bonus

In this morning's Sunday Times (which has a big audience), he wrote about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's bonus that was an introduction item to the Board last Wednesday. They vote on it in two weeks and what can they do? They negotiated the contract. I think they did this because they truly thought they were hiring someone who really was going to get things done. More on this in a minute. Danny referenced this blog and some of the posts about this issue. Happy to hear Danny checks in here sometimes. Here's what he said: "It's hardly a Goldman Sachs-style bonanza. It's no AIG outrage. But a plan to give the chief of Seattle Public Schools a pay-for-performance bonus — albeit only $5,280 — had parental jaws hitting homework tables around the city last week. " He gives some background: "I'm willing to take the heat on this," DeBell said. "Anytime you set goals and then attach money to them, it's going to shine a much brighter spotlight

Bye, Bye Spectrum?

There is a Yahoo group for Spectrum/APP which is largely inactive but I do, from time to time, get an e-mail from it. Here's what I received today: "Did you know that the Seattle School District says that " We anticipate that we will phase out the Spectrum program over time so that its closure will not affect current students." http://www.seattles area/newassign/ faq_advancelearn .html#al64 < http://www.seattles area/newassign/ faq_advancelearn .html#al64 > (last question-and-answer) (The writer also said she had e-mailed the AL office but no answer. I'll try on Monday.) Okay, so here's the original Q&A: If a school loses its Spectrum program under this plan, what will happen to the students currently enrolled at that school and in that program? This situation will be addressed in the transition plan. We anticipate that we will phase out the Spectrum program over time so that its closure will not affect current students. It

Cleveland STEM update

I just wanted to bring everyone up to date on the Cleveland STEM program. I could have added this to the existing thread, but it's getting down there and harder for people to monitor. To recap - our family is interested in Cleveland STEM as a possible high school choice for our daughter, who is now in the 8th grade. I looked for information on the program without much success. Then, on Monday, November 9, I sent a message to the email address for the program, . I also got the number for the STEM hotline, 252-0046, and left a message there. No response. On Thursday, November 12, I sent an email to the principal of Cleveland asking for information. No response. On Sunday, November 15, I sent a follow up message to the STEM email address. No response. I wrote again on Tuesday, the 17th. I got a response to my message of the 15th from Dick Lee in the "Office of Partnerships" saying that either Princess Shareef or Susan Derse would "respond shorty&

Dorn's recommendation to delay

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, is recommending that the legislature delay, yet again, the "pass the math test" requirement for high school graduation. See this news story in the Seattle Times. The Times, in this editorial , complains that this delay "lowers the bar". Instead of delay, they write that " The Legislature must exchange Dorn's plan for one that does something for students. A better effort would include more experienced math teachers and up-to-date textbooks. After-school tutoring, summer school and other ways are needed to give students more lesson time. Science must be injected into core curricula with all the teacher training and other resources required to place science on par with reading, writing and arithmetic. " Ah, the idealism of the Seattle Times. It's refreshing, if naive. They are, of course, correct. But so what? The legislature is not going to pony up any money to pay for these proposals. So after

Persona Non Grata

Okay, so I'm convinced now because it happened yet again. Every time I ask for information, basic information, from any staff member (usually people up the food chain), I get a polite message that my request has gone to Joy Stevens (the public disclosure person for the district). I'm thinking there's some e-mail saying, "Don't give this woman information or at least make it take a long time." I suspect Charlie's in the same boat. This is basic stuff like terms (seismic diaphragm versus seismic upgrade versus seismic mitigation). Yes, I could look it up online but, as we discovered from Meg's work, the district sometimes has its own language and definitions. I understand not having multiple people trying to answer the same question but I know who to direct a question to (and I try to ask if I have the right person if I am not sure). I suspect that the pushback the State Auditor is getting from the district on BEX information isn't just inab

Talk Among Yourselves

There are some education news items we could get to like Randy Dorn's idea of a two-tier diploma or the Gates Foundation and yet another education initiative (one part is $45M to study 3700 teachers to figure out what an effective teacher is which reminds me of the Supreme Court Justice Potter on a case about pornography said, "I know it when I see it"). I also have some interesting research on BTA III after going over the final project list. However it is Friday so talk about anything. If you aren't at Twilight Moon (I would be if I were a tween but frankly I don't care how dark Forks is, vampires can't go out in the daylight. First rule of being a vampire.), here's something to do with the kids under the category "now for something completely different". It's called Smash Putt , sort of a Rube Goldberg version of mini-golf (indoors). It's only open for families this weekend and next (they serve alcohol at other times). There cle

I'm Humbled

I had heard that McDonald parents had a meeting with the head of International Instruction, Karen Kodama, on Saturday. And boy, I thought, how fair is that to these other reopening schools? Who knew you could just ask for a meeting? And mostly I thought it unfair to Sand Point who seems to have no real focus yet. (Rainier View and Viewlands aren't opening for awhile and McDonald seems in the lead for foreign language immersion and Old Hay has Montessori.) Luckily, I have a friend who steered me straight. The McDonald parents did set up a meeting with Ms. Kodama but they also had the courtesy to invite Sand Point parents. Ms. Kodama apparently did not talk about specifics but did talk about what an international school is and said she was there unofficially. She also said every elementary should have foreign language (she and Kay Smith Blum will get along well). There was also a meeting with De Bell and Carr to go over McDonald's survey results about their school. Sand

Community Meetings for Curriculum Alignment

The district has announced public meetings to "share" information about curriculum alignment in our high schools. (I really doubt they will change their plan but you can try.) From the press release: The high school curriculum alignment projects will result in aligning high school Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies and World Languages core classes to college-ready standards, revising course offerings in academic subjects to better prepare students for college, careers and life and providing professional development for teachers to support their delivery of the aligned curricula. Seattle Public Schools instructional leaders will discuss our alignment work and provide more information about the upcoming instructional materials adoption for high school Language Arts courses, to be followed by adoptions for World Languages and Social Studies for 4th and 8th grades. So there you elementary and middle school parents; it's coming your way as well. Now don't laugh

I Should Have Known

I ran down to the Board meeting to give my remarks and had to leave right afterwards. (I then went to the Roosevelt PTSA meeting to be the opposition side to Schools First support of the BTA III levy. More on this later as it was interesting and I may need your input.) But, I had set my Tivo to record the meeting. Silly me, the meeting ended at 11 and I only recorded 3 hours of what turned out to be a 5 hour meeting. They didn't get to the Action items until almost 2:45 minutes into the meeting (they did start late though). So I missed the SAP votes. So help me out. Here's the story from the Times. About the amendments, here's all that was said: "The boundaries approved Wednesday reflect small adjustments in the lines around five pairs of elementary schools: Bryant/View Ridge, McDonald/Green Lake, Whittier, West Woodland, Loyal Heights/Adams, and Alki/Lafayette." So I am thinking the Executive Board's passed, Harium's amendments passed, Mary'

Steve Sundquist Weighs In

Thanks to reader Yumpears who linked us to the update from Steve Sundquist's last meeting before the vote tonight at the West Seattle Blog . Steve said he was not "inclined" to change the boundaries except for one (far south end of California SW) and that there would be an amendment for that. (It's still not on the website but they can introduce them without them actually being on the agenda. At least that is what has happened in the past.) He said some pretty interesting things about high schools. He was trying to make people feel better about their assigned high school saying that many kids from areas all over West Seattle/SW go to either high school. Here are the stats from the article: SEALTH 1,000 students - 550 from its “drawing area,” 200 from northern West Seattle WEST SEATTLE HS More than half its 1100 students come from southern West Seattle (574) DENNY Most from its “drawing area,” 136 from north West Seattle MADISON Even split - 449 from north West

Board Meeting Tonight

The speakers list for the Board meeting tonight is full. (I'm speaking near the top of the list but it has me down for the SAP and I'm speaking on the BTA.) There are 5 of us on the list who are regulars and interestingly, there are 5 people from the Sharples family speaking, probably asking why their family name is being moved to another school and why there is a motion to postpone this vote. Directors Bass and Martin-Morris will be introducing amendments. Here is Director Bass': 1. I move to amend that the attendance area boundary for Stevens Elementary School be those set forth in the attached. Rationale: The current eastern boundary for Stevens Elementary School should be retained. 2. I move to designate Madrona K-8 as an option school. I don't know enough whether number one is good. With number two, her rationale is all over the place. Here's the last paragraph: "Our priority should be to serve the families at the school. Over half of the families

Superintendent Bonus Pay

Remember all of that talk about the Superintendent not getting a raise this year due to the tight budget and how inappropriate it would be for her to make more money while the District is laying off teachers? Did you believe that? You did? You must be new. Here it comes; item for introduction tonight: Incentive pay for the superintendent. Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson will receive performance based-incentive compensation of $5,280.00 for the 2008-09 academic year because the students in the District met four of the twenty academic goals. Man! If I met four of twenty goals at my job I'm not sure that I would be allowed to keep it, let alone get incentive pay. She is eligible for up to 10% of her pay in incentives based on twenty point system of 16 academic measures (three are double weighted, one is yet undetermined). She got four of the twenty points, one fifth, so her incentive pay is one fifth of the possible amount, 2% of her pay: $5,280.00. The superintendent already makes mor

A Minor Note (But It Should Be Noted)

Someone pointed this out to me even though I should have known it if I had thought about it enough. I don't know where all the directors live (obviously within their districts). I do know where Director Carr lives. The first boundaries put her home within Ballard's boundaries. ( As you may recall, she has a child at Roosevelt as does Director Martin-Morris). So that map would have sent her second child to Ballard. (But under the 10% Open Choice seats, her second child would easily get into Roosevelt via that choice.) The second map has her neighborhood in Roosevelt. And personally that is the way I thought it should have been for her neighborhood. (But part of that change was for west Green Lake and I'm still not sure why west Green Lake is in Roosevelt's area because no one from there is going to walk to Roosevelt which is the given reason for the change.) I point this out because I have gone to many boundary meetings, large and small, and I never heard Directo

HIring at SPS

Look, I am not a business person so I am probably wrong on this one so help me out. Once again, while looking for one thing, I found another. I was looking for school maintenance information and found a link for a SPS job a headhunter firm called Waldron and Company (they cover the NW/SW). Now the listing I found is old but they currently they are looking for someone for another SPS job. I do understand that higher-end people are harder to find but we have a bad economy (read, more people out there looking for jobs even high-end jobs) and SPS has no money. So how do we have money for a headhunting firm? I went and looked at the SPS jobs listings and it was maybe 25 jobs. Maybe there's more openings that aren't advertised? I don't know. (The one that the Waldron group is working on is there as well.) Don't we have a Human Resources department?

Executive Board Amendments

Thanks to Central Mom for alerting us to the amendments made by the Executive Committee of the Board to the Superintendent for the SAP to be presented at the Board meeting on Wednesday. They include McDonald, Whittier, Alki/Lafayette and Loyal Heights. Here's a link . Note that other individual amendments may surface. I think it unlikely but it is possible. Also to note, Dr. Enfield, our CAO, is doing a presentation on MAP. Here is one bullet point: 100% of elementary & K-8 schools will share results with families during parent-teacher conferences So okay, you heard it from her, all of you elementary/K-8 parents, if you attend a parent-teacher conference, will get results. Middle and high school? A little less clear what will happen: Middle & high schools will share results in conferences (if applicable), send results home with report cards or designate one staff to share results with families. Also, Dr. Enfield has hired 4 "data coaches" to train a MAP tra

Policy on New Schools

There is a Capacity Management item on the Board agenda for Wednesday. Here is one of the new Superintendent Procedures about new schools. In total, it says: "The new Capacity Management Policy (H 13.00) contemplates actions that might be taken to address fluctuations in enrollment, including the possibility that new schools may need to be opened to accommodate enrollment growth. While all final decisions about a new school’s programmatic direction, budget, facilities modifications and principal selection are the purview of the Superintendent, it is important to gather community input on the new school. The level of public participation is defined as “Involved” indicating the District will work directly with the public through the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered. If and when new schools are opened, the following actions shall occur: • An Instructional Director will be appointed to guide the opening process •

PSAT Update

As you may recall I was wondering how come the district had no results (by grade or school or district) for the PSAT given last fall to 9th, 10th and 11th graders. Bob Vaughn in Advanced Learning told me they had too much on their plate to get it done. Joy Stevens, the Public Records officer said this: I am writing in response to your email below requesting PSAT test results. In doing so, I learned that the test results that we receive are in a format that cannot be easily incorporated into our information, which would allow us to release statistical information without violating individual student confidentiality. I am looking into whether it would be possible to redact or remove student identification from the results we get from the College Boards and/or extract statistical totals. I also placed a call to Boeing and got a very nice guy who was puzzled but said that they were expecting a report by Dec. 31. He got back to me on Friday and said he got a report and that the d

School Violence: Students' Perspective

There is a fabulous story on the West Seattle Blog today that tells the story of a school violence incident from the perspective of the students. Classroom interview: SWYFS students’ side of the stabbing story

Teachers Sell to Teachers

This article was in the Seattle Times today. It's about teachers selling lesson plans they have created to other teachers. It's an interesting idea but, as you can imagine, some issues. "Thousands of teachers are cashing in on a commodity they used to give away, selling lesson plans online for exercises as simple as M&M sorting and as sophisticated as William Shakespeare. While some of this extra money is going to buy books and classroom supplies in a time of tight budgets, the new teacher-entrepreneurs are also spending it on dinners out, mortgage payments, credit-card bills, vacation travel and home renovation, leading some school officials to question who owns material developed for public-school classrooms." "Teachers Pay Teachers, one of the largest such sites, with more than 200,000 registered users, has recorded $600,000 in sales since it was started in 2006, $450,000 of that in the past year, said its founder, Paul Edelman, a former New York Cit

Board Meeting on Boundaries and Levies

The School Board meeting for votes on both the new SAP boundaries and the levies is this Wednesday, the 18th at 6 p.m. You can sign up to speak starting tomorrow at 8 am by: calling 252-0040 or e-mailing Here's we are, almost to zero hour. I don't want to disappoint anyone but I'm not sure I believe any amendments will come forward. I think only a broad-based one like the "soft" boundaries one (allowing anyone within a block of a school to have access even if it isn't their attendance area school) or the "one-time" option (which would allow anyone within, say, 3 blocks of a non-attendance area school to make the one-time choice to commit to that school). Those would not require moving boundaries. But I think the Board will say they just can't at this point. (And that's why I do not like staff saying, "Oh yes, the Board can do anything up until the vote.") Please let us know if you attended Dir

Meg Diaz Report Follow Up

I was at the meeting of the Audit and Finance Committee and I heard, very clearly, the Board members ask that Meg Diaz's presentation and the District Staff response both be posted to the District web site. I heard, very clearly, Mr. Harman say that they would be. He looked right at Communications staff when he said it and they gave him the nod. So... where are they? Has anyone been able to find on the SPS web site? I couldn't find them on the Budget web pages, not on the page for the Operating Budget either. I couldn't find them on the Board web pages or attached to the agenda for the Audit and Finance Committee. So where the heck are they? I found them! They are in the District News section . Here is the presentation by Duggan Harman and the one from Meg Diaz . I notice that the link to Meg's report is an external link. That means that Meg can edit her report to respond to Mr. Harman's presentation - if she wants to - and the link from the District will take

Public Hearing On Operations and BTA III Levies

(Update: I totally left out parent Bruce Taylor's great remarks about how we might be making a mistake opening Sand Point when the district projects more than 100 open seats at Laurelhurst in just a few years. He asked if it was worth spending $7M for 134 seats. Saying Sand Point will fail if Laurelhurst is a choice people can make because there's space at a good program, he urged them to put in an international program there. ) This was a quiet affair, 4 Board members, 7 staff and 7 speakers. We were in and out in 20 minutes. However, that didn't mean it wasn't interesting. First of all, Peter Maier ran thru the pleasantries and it was announced that the other 3 Board members AND Dr. Goodloe-Johnson couldn't be there because of a commitment to attending a fundraiser at Chief Sealth. Good on Sealth for getting all these people to attend. However, this was a public hearing, a legal obligation, and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson couldn't be there? There were alread

Friday Funny (If You Like Teenagers)

Oh those kids! Turns out there's a high school in Danver, Mass. where the principal has banned a word from school. And the word is....meep. Yes, that's right - meep. Now there is allegedly some character from the Muppet Show who said this word (but I seem to recall that on Sesame Street there were two alien-like characters who communicated with this word and I think it might have been what the Coneheads from SNL used to say when they touched cones). The kids say it's just a greeting and it has no real meaning. Well, if you Google it (as a verb, meeping), the urban dictionary has quite the meaning and this being a family blog, I won't repeat it. (Really, don't be me and Google it - it's not good. This is the second time in a week I Googled a word and was sorry I did.) But these kids, whether they mean it in a dirty fashion or just the cool greeting of the day, are teenagers pushing the envelope. I'm surprised the principal (who I'm thinking must s

Performance Management

The District has released a number of seriously overdue documents relating to Performance Management. The first is the District Scorecard . There are a number of interesting points about this document. First, there is absolutely no reason in the world that the District could not have delivered this scorecard on time in December 2008. There's nothing here that reflects 18 months of design work. Second, the scorecard, while it does show the results for each year does not show the annual benchmarks. Are there no annual benchmarks? Moreover, it doesn't show if the District had growth or was on pace in previous years. That could have been done with some simple color-coding. I don't understand the reason that the AYP data box in the lower right was included. Do we care about that? Does that tell us anything that we want to know? I would much rather that they used the space to show how many students scored 1, 2, 3, or 4 on the WASL. Pass/fail isn't as meaningful. The School Re

Donors Choose: You Could Help a Classroom By Shopping

I'm on the Donors Choose e-list and received this e-mail that I thought might be of some interest. I'm only posting because Donors Choose is a good organization that helps teachers fund projects. So, if for any reason you shop at The Gap, Banana Republic or Old Navy, you can get a good deal AND you will help teachers fund projects in their classrooms. (Gap owns BR and ON so you can shop at any of them and money will go to Donors Choose.) Note: it says in-store and not on-line. From today through Sunday (November 12-15), you can receive 30% off any in-store purchase at the GAP, Banana Republic and Old Navy. You'll be doing good at the same time -- the GAP will give 5% of what you spend to high-need classrooms through Print the 30% off coupon and take it to the store with you.

What's Due and What's Overdue

Today's board work session on the District scorecard serves as an excellent reminder of all of the things that are either due or overdue. It also serves as an excellent reminder of how horribly slack the Board has been about holding the superitendent accountable for all of the things that are due or overdue. The District scorecard was supposed to be ready by fall 2008. See page 45 of the Strategic Plan, "Excellence for All" . Other items from the Strategic Plan that appear overdue: Math curriculum alignment - should be in place this year. Science curriculum alignment - should be in place this year. Common formative assessments K - 12 for math and reading - should be in place this year. We have the summative assessments (MAP). Teacher training on analyzing MAP results - should be in place this year. School performance framework - was supposed to be completed by December 2008, still absent. The performance management system, including the school performance model - was supp

Public Hearing On Operations and BTA III Levies

The Public Hearing for the Operations and BTA III levies is tonight at 6 p.m. at the district headquarters . There are 40 spots and 5 people (including me) signed up to speak. (I'm thinking it'll be an early evening.) These levies have huge ramifications for our district so it's important to at least be thinking about them. You are likely to be hearing from your PTA (or PTSA) soon on these levies. Many PTAs do donate to the levy fund, Schools First. I am hoping to be able to make a presentation to some PTAs on the BTA III levy so if you are a PTA leader, you might be hearing from me. I am hoping that the Board does make some good faith efforts to show both parents and taxpayers that they ARE going to hold staff accountable for the state of our facilities and the capital money that is spent on them. If not, then it is likely that there is going to be active opposition to the BTA III levy. The district has many things going against them going into this levy so they ha

Rainier Beach Donations

After much back and forth and looking at various options, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to give money to Rainier Beach High School in support of any book needs (which are likely to be for AP books as it is not certain there is a shortage elsewhere) is to donate to RBHS via the Alliance for Education . One hundred percent of your donation goes to RBHS . The one caveat is that the money is administered by the principal. There is not a way to designate the donation solely for books. Mr. Gary is a caring and enthusiastic principal and I don't have a real reason to doubt that if money comes in that he won't spend it for books. However, as the principal, he has sole authority over the money and if he really thought it was better spent elsewhere, he could do it. I did try to get Mr. Gary on record as promising to spend any donations on books but I wasn't able to get an answer from him. The AP teacher, Mr. Moriarty, waved me off trying to go through the PTSA.

Parents Divided or United

Once again, the district's "feedback" process has pitted families against families, neighborhoods against neighborhoods. Unfortunately, for every family that is unhappy about being assigned away from a popular school, there's usually another family happy to be assigned to it . So, how can we win? The real problem is: The district has failed to convince us that they have a credible plan to improve the less popular schools. (Are they even trying to convince us?) I applaud Melissa's "don't give up" sentiment and think everyone should continue to advocate for boundary changes they believe are necessary, but please ALSO advocate for developing a credible plan to improve more schools now. And I'm not talking about more "excellence for all" lip service -- I'm talking about specific steps they will take to improve schools. Examples of specifics? We all have our own. We need more money from the state, but it's not just about funds.

Don't Give Up

There seems to be a feeling of resignation over the maps in this second round. Is it worth it to continue advocating for what you believe needs to be changed or modified? Absolutely. There's a couple of reasons. One, the Board needs to know that parents can and will stand up. If you won't stand up for your beliefs on the assignment plan, when will you? Otherwise, staff will be the louder voice (and the Board already gives them a bigger nod because of their knowledge base). However, as I said in my remarks at the public hearing, parents are on the ground, every day, in their neighborhoods and schools. You walk in the walk zones, you know the rise and fall of streets and you know what makes your neighborhood tick. Staff CANNOT know this as you do and that is your strength. Use it. If you (or a group) feel strongly, then lobby hard. Send e-mail every day (but have a different tweak on your message each time). Better yet, know what the Board rarely gets? Snail mail. If

PSAT Results

It never hurts to ask. So I had sent a Public Disclosure request for the PSAT results by grade at each school, school, grade level across the district and district overall. I had spoken to the head of Advanced Learning, Bob Vaughn, briefly about this and he said they had not had time to break out any results. Then I called Boeing. (They paid for it.) Turns out they don't have those results either but are due a report by the end of the year from the district. The guy I spoke to said the results are public data. The response I received from the district's Public Records was this: "I am writing in response to your email below requesting PSAT test results. In doing so, I learned that the test results that we receive are in a format that cannot be easily incorporated into our information, which would allow us to release statistical information without violating individual student confidentiality. I am looking into whether it would be possible to redact or remove stud