Education Heats Up as Issue for Mayor and City Council

Education definitely seems to be on the radar for both Mayor McGinn and the City Council. In today's PI, Joel Connelly reports:

"The Council's priority list contains one hint that Seattle taxpayers will be called upon once again to show their legendary generosity.

Burgess said the Council will soon begin consideration of renewing the city's Families and Education Levy almost a year earlier than in previous renewal cycles, due to low high school graduation rates.

"The fact is that more than one-third of our students are not graduating from high school and that failure has gone on for years: It's time we take bold steps to change our school results," Burgess said."

I think these people are getting serious about results. At this rate, the Board and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson might want to think about what life might be like if the City took over.


dan dempsey said…
Gee is there a concern about graduation rates.... you mean right here in Seattle.

Then I have a suggestion instead of spouting more meaningless goals let us develop a plan. Not just any plan but a plan based on relevant data.

Now I don't know how it is going in many other areas, but I do know that in the last 5 years it has been the absolute pits for math and STEM.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. The school board sees little relevant data and uses even less.

Consider that on Feb. 3 2010 the Action Report for voting on that $800,000 NTN contract said:
It is best practice for all students to be offered rigorous, challenging coursework at the high school level. New Technology Network is a nationally recognized leader in providing STEM content, professional development, coaching, and support. New Technology Network has successfully implemented their model in 41 high schools across the country (two-thirds of which are STEM themed).

So is all this just meaningless happy talk? Is any of this actually measured?

What is the measure of Rigor?

What standard needs to be met for a successful implementation?

Here is one I can measure:
41 high schools across the country (two-thirds of which are STEM themed)

41 x (2/3) = 82/3 = 27 1/3

so I would figure that they have 27 STEM schools but then I thought I recalled some one saying 40% or was it 38% ... so what if it is 33% then it is 41/3 = 13 2/3 so somewhere from 14 to 27 STEM schools. But this is the Action Report that Board members read for voting so it must be 27 STEM Schools.

I call NTN. In school year 2009-2010 there are 6 STEM schools ... Whattt ??? that is 14.6%

So is this like "I did not have sex with that women" or does it depend on what "is" is.....It must be all in the phrasing of "STEM themed"

This is just one deception after another.

These schools are almost all under performing less advantaged schools in their own districts.

I fail to see much in the way of rigor or any academic performance that could be called a successful implementation ... but if 14.6% can = 2/3 ... then I guess anything is close enough.

Oh by the way the SPS recorded an all time high White - Black math achievement gap of 51.5% differential. This is the avaerage of the Gaps at grades 4, 7, and 10. The Strategic Plan mindlessly says we need vertically aligned instructional materials for a successful k-12 math program. So the Staff recommends building on horrible performance with mathematically unsound books.

Now Staff is unhappy that excluding evidence is not acceptable and wants the board to refuse to accept the idea of using all the evidence in making the decision again.

We hardly need more resources to improve this situation until the starting point becomes rational evidence based decision making. nothing will help. JSCEE agents of Chaos.

New Technology Network is a nationally recognized leader in providing STEM content.....

With 6 STEM
schools .. well I guess anything can be viewed in multiple ways after all this is Seattle and 14.6% = 2/3
What content? Harium keeps going on and on about it's only a framework for whatever content they use.
dan dempsey said…
There are 41 schools and they are all free to chose their own content, yet all 41 are very likely sub par performers, I would be saying get me outta here!!! not explaining how we can make this work because its about blah blah blah......

I rest my case about how well the board and staff do research and as always fail to use relevant data to make a decision.

What creative work of fiction will we hear if the board decides not to follow a one sentence order of remand from the court?

Well if anyone ever needed confirmation that some in the SPS consider themselves above the Law ... they may get that confirmation within 48 Hours.

Ya sure you betcha we have a graduation rate lower than it should be ........

Because to improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data ....

The SPS decision-makers are unable to do that .... thus we are left to nebulously fumble in a cloud of CYA dust....... and the graduation rate does not improve.

Look at the math instructional decisions ... look at the STEM decision ... and you have an excellent understanding why.

Why any Judge can likely rule on SPS Board actions about Math and/or STEM "Arbitrary and Capricious" now and again and again until eternity arrives with bells on.
dan dempsey said…
Correction to comment #2:

I said "These schools are almost all under performing less advantaged schools in their own districts."

I should have said:these schools are almost all under performing and in the cases I looked at in every instance they were academically out performed by the demographically more challenged neighboring school.

2 examples but there are more.
(Low income percentage)
Napa NT (19%)
Napa High school (44%)

Hillsdale NT (44%)
Hillsdale High (%4%)
dan dempsey said…
Hillsdale NT (44%)
Hillsdale High (54%)
Charlie Mas said…
The City Council has no control over the school district at all. They can't even threaten the District with the Families and Education Levy money. If the district underperforms and the City withholds the money it will not be perceived as helping the students.
Anonymous said…
The real concern is mayoral control of SPS which is something McGinn talked about during his campaign.

What happens with that is the mayor takes over and appoints the school board. That means that one person, who knows little about the educational system and is a political animal, now has control of the public school system.

We lose any power that we have as voters to convince, elect or recall our school board directors.

This has happened in LA and New York City with disastrous effects.

Eli Broad, as in the Broad Foundation, has the ear of the mayor in LA and with all of his money he has too much control over the school system there.

In the Broad Foundation's report they state that one of their goals in being effective is to have mayoral control of a school district. It's much easier that way when you're a billionaire to control the school system through a political figure who relies on campaign donations to continue in office.

For more information, see:

"Broad Attacks Mayor's Plan for Schools":

"COMMENTARY: Mayoral control doesn't work and is wrong":

"Mayor Bloomberg’s Crib Sheet"

"GATES' $4 MIL LESSON";jsessionid=42C0915F03070CADA6018F18FAACC68E

"Mike McGinn's Flawed Mayoral Campaign Platform"
"That means that one person, who knows little about the educational system and is a political animal, now has control of the public school system."

Well, we now of 7 of these people and look at how well it's going.

Charlie, the City did change the Families and Education levy and put in benchmarks while having more say in targeting the money. This is not unrestricted money to the district so the Council does have some control here.
Anonymous said…
I don't think that one person should have control of our educational system in Seattle. There is no balance.

It would also be easier to recall a board member than a mayor if you think that the decisions that are being made are not in the best interest of the majority of school children in the district. I'm hearing rumors of the possibility of that happening now so I know that it is a plausible avenue.

And, try getting the ear of the mayor if you have an issue, something that is only happening in your school. Many people are saying that the only way to get to McGinn is through one of those town hall meetings that he has. I can go up to Kay if I like after a board meeting or during a break to speak with her. They are far more accessible and they know that I am a constituent in a much smaller pool than that of the mayor's pool of voters.

But you know, the Broad already put our superintendent into place and they are just hoping that the mayor will take over, then you will have balance again...between Broad, Gates and anyone else with a large enough checkbook.
Joan NE said…
Melissa, I wish you would at least skim the links that Dora has posted.

Does it not alarm you that the Broad Foundation finds that it can most easily influence a school district when the Mayor appoints the school board?

Do Dora's comments that mayoral control would bring poorer responsiveness and accessibilty to the the district oversight relevant and important to consider in weighing the pros and cons of mayoral control?

I just do not understand how you can be so sure that mayoral control will have better outomces for students than having an elected board.

Is there more to your view than naive, wishful thinking? If so then please share any articles, news stories, editorials, or reports that show that mayoral control has better outcomes for schools and students than does a panel of elected directors.

Maybe McGinn would turn out to be a wonderful leader of the schools. What about the next mayor? Maybe s/he will be awful. We will be stuck with that awful Director in Chief of the schools for up to eight years!
Patrick said…
I still don't understand how anyone could think the mayor should be in charge of the schools.

We have school directors who are in charge of the schools. They may not be perfect, but they won their elections. The voters get who they voted for. If McGinn wants to run the schools, he ran for the wrong office.
Please show me where I ever said I was in support of mayoral control. I never have said it.

I have said I understand Mayor McGinn viewpoint and could see how he might feel it necessary at some point if he heard from enough people. But I don't support doing it precisely because you have no control over who is Mayor and what their viewpoint is and how much control they would have over the superintendent.

"Is there more to your view than naive, wishful thinking?"

Boy, there's a lot packed into that statement that makes a lot of assumptions that you know me or know what I wish for. You know neither.

I have been writing about the Broad Foundation for awhile now and sounding the alarm. I have no idea why anyone would think I support them.
Joan NE said…
Melissa - You have a number of times expressed support for mayoral control; perhaps this is not the exact term you used, but this is how I refer to the city taking over the schools or the school board. So I was disposed to interpreting this "Well, we now of 7 of these people and look at how well it's going" [your response to Dora], as showing that you meant that one (mayor) is better than 7 (elected directors).

I have not been following the blog closely for the past month or so, so if you have started expressing reservations about mayoral control, I have missed that.

So what did you mean by ""Well, we now of 7 of these people and look at how well it's going"?

(No, I don't presume to know you or know what you wish for. You're reading more into my statement than was there - something that I am guilty of in how I interpreted the statement of yours that sparked my interest in commenting.)
No Joan I haven't NOT said I support mayoral control of the district. Show me where I did.

I am reporting a trend. I started with McGinn (the only candidate who seemed truly interested in my issue - education). I reported what he said and I said I could see how a mayor might feel that way. Indeed, it is playing out in some places throughout the nation. I am merely reporting on this fact about public education.

I never said this is how I feel.

As to the comment (not mine):

"That means that one person, who knows little about the educational system and is a political animal, now has control of the public school system."

I just meant we now have 7 people who don't really know education well (or have had a learning curve) who are elected (political animals) and they control our school system. That's seems pretty obvious to me.

Don't put words in my mouth.
Anonymous said…
My point is that seven people who are elected by us is better than one person who is elected by many controlling our school district and overseeing the superintendent.

It's far easier to control one person if you have the money and wherewithal to do that as has happened in New York and LA with Broad and Gates and their influence on those two mayors than trying to control seven people who are beholden to the voters.

I don't care how you stated your case about mayoral control here or in the past,the point is that this agenda of McGinn's is being reflected in his actions by having these forums and needs to be seriosly considered as a move on his part to get that ball rolling.
Unknown said…
As I see it, the problem with electing a school board is that we're electing personalities, each of whom have their own agendas, and none of whom are elected based solely on their qualifications and experience. And as a parent who appreciates the consensus-driven model of decision-making, I'm concerned about how well people work collaboratively.

Do we truly know who we're electing? Do we fully understand the choices in front of us, understand their implications, understand whether the candidates can actually deliver on their election promises?

This isn't a criticism of the people per se, but rather a reflection of the nature of broad elections.

If board members were elected - or appointed - based upon their expertise in getting specific things done, we would be better informed about what each candidate brings to the table. We would then be able to elect people to fulfill specific roles, who have demonstrated their capacity to do their job well. It would therefore be less about their own personal agendas, and more about their qualifications and experience.

So for example, a position might be open for someone with broad and deep experience in fiscal oversight. Voters would want to know what that particular experience is, and would better be able to base their vote upon how well a candidate has shown that they have relevant experience and were successful to achieving their goals. And upon re-election, there would be something to evaluate them against.

If the mayor - bless his heart - was to make these appointments, he would be evaluating candidates based upon their credentials. He and his staff would have a very thoughtful process in place before making any appointment. Appointees not meeting their "job requirements" would need to work towards improving their performance.

Mayor McGinn is an honest man; I trust him to make good decisions and have a thorough process.

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