Disqus

Friday, May 07, 2010

Open Thread

No community meetings this weekend to report (unless you know of one I missed so then, please post it.)

Any topic is fair game on this thread.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

40 comments:

seattle citizen said...

Here's a topic:
How can public schools change current budgeting prodedures to even out the yearly roller coaster?
Is it even possible?
Is there a way for District, state and feds to come up with some way to stabilize the funding so it's not so chaotic every year?
This is a major cause of disruption on many levels.

Unknown said...

This comment is all good news, for a change. A student team from Sealth will be competing in this year's Quick & Dirty boat building competition tomorrow during the Maritime Festival. Three students will start at 9:00 with $100 worth of materials, finish a boat at 3:00 and put it in the water to race at 4:00. This is a great application of physics, shop, and PE classes, not to mention a healthy dose of teamwork.

Also in the competition will be students from 3 other high school, UW, Bellevue College, and 3 professionals. I'm sure Sealth would like some support from the crowd if you can be at Pier 66 (Bell street pier) sometime during the day.

Full disclosure--I run the Quick & Dirty competition and some of my co-workers will be competing.

seattle citizen said...

They're putting the boats into PUGET SOUND???
I've seen this done at the Wooden Boat Festival on Lake Union, but the Sound? It's fifty degrees, and they're putting boats built with silly putty and duct tape in an hour in there?
Yikes!
Hope today's wond calms down!

WV is messen with me again

Melissa Westbrook said...

Regarding the budget roller coaster, I have been in contact with Director Smith-Blum and she seems very interested in figuring out ways to do this. Her take is that doing cuts here and there isn't enough and that a systemic look at what we spend money on with a long-term view might be the way to go. More stability and less anxiety.

Unknown said...

This time of year, I think it's more like 47 degrees. :) And they get 6 hours to build, then an hour to rest before they get into the boats to race.

Yes, the boats go into the cold waters of Bell Harbor Marina (fortunately not out where the tugboat race wakes are!). The race is a few hundred feet long, and it does get mighty chilly if the boat is leaky.

Unknown said...

PS Most of the boats are plywood, 2x4s, and liquid nails, although we do get a few shrink wrapped boats every so often.

owlhouse said...

Nova is hosting a showing of the film, War on Kids, next weekend.

Join us for the PERY Conference

Public Education and the Rights of Youth
Sunday, May 16, 10a-3pm
Nova High School
300 - 20th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112
Free. donations welcome!

Learn more and reserve your FREE tickets online at:
http://www.pery.novafolios.com/home

seattle citizen said...

Yes, Melissa, I'm wondering if budgets could be averaged or something, and funds provided every five years or whatnot.

As it is, every year money comes in, money goes out, people are riffed, people are rehired, programs are changed...

I guess in addition I'd like to see some program stability, where programs and curricula just stay the same for a few years....

hschinske said...

North Beach principal Joanne Bowers is moving to Green Lake Elementary, per http://www.myballard.com/2010/05/07/north-beach-principal-heading-to-green-lake-elem/

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

Has anyone else heard that Bagley's principal is stepping down? (I heard it from a Bagley parent, but may have misunderstood.)

The "Quick and Dirty" boat reminds me that Ballard HS's film crew won the 48 hour movie making contest at NFFTY (National Film Forum for Talented Youth). The criteria were to make a short film in 48 hours that incorporated cardboard, butcher paper and the phrase "Live Stoked." You can see it on You Tube, it's called Charlie.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is true. Bagley's Kimberly Kinzer let parents and kids know last week that she plans to return to teaching and is stepping down as principal. I think she's been great for the school and I've heard nothing but praise for her from others. She will be difficult to replace.

seattle said...

Nathan Hale's Horticulture class is having a plant sale today and tommorrow! They have a good selection of tomato varieties (including Sungold, Green Zebra, heirlooms, and beefstakes). All $1 each! They also have a pretty good variety of veggie starts for $1 each. 6 packs of basil for $2 each. And some native plants, trees and shrubs. Check it out!

seattle said...

Kimberley was great when she was at Salmon Bay too!

wsnorth said...

I think the state just raised the levy lid, and with Seattle's high approval rates, perhaps a "rainy day" fund could be built in to the levy, with "leveling" rules to ensure it is spent only when needed. Don't know if this is allowed under the revised law. I'd gladly vote for stability in lieu of less elaborate building remodels.

Mr. Edelman said...

It's interesting that no one is discussing the 36 teachers who were RIF'd this week. At our school, we lost a valuable art teacher.

Here is part of the email we received:

To all Seattle Public Schools staff:



I am writing to provide you with an update on the budget development process for 2010-2011, including information related to a Reduction-in-Force (RIF) of certificated staff.



There are three key areas of information I want to share with you:

· Budget: While we have a great deal more work to do, we are on track to present a balanced budget for 2010-2011 to the School Board on June 19. The presentation we provided to the school board on April 22 summarizes key elements of budget development. The updated budget gap is approximately $31 M; we have identified about $23.4 million in solutions (including $6.5 M in central staff job cuts; $7.7 M in a freeze on hiring and spending; and $4.5 M in use of reserves) and have about $7.5 million left to identify. The key strategy we recommended to the board to close the remaining gap is to delay $6 M in planned 2010-2011 expenditures pending a potential supplemental election in November. The presentation shared with the board on April 22, a Frequently Asked Questions document, and materials from community meetings and other board presentations is available at the Budget Web site.



· $6.1 million restored to schools. The size of the expected budget gap and our duty to be fiscally responsible by creating a conservative budget led to the initial decision to cut $6.1 million from the funds we allocated to schools via the Weighted Staffing Standard (WSS). The state legislature recently approved the long-awaited final budget, which restored $5.2 million of the funding previously cut to Seattle. Because the state restored $5.2 million, we were able to restore the $6.1 million cut from WSS. We will identify other budget cuts, including more reductions to central office non-staff spending, so that we can cover the difference of $900,000.

· Certificated Reduction-in-Force: Our goal has been to keep lay-offs away from the classroom to the greatest extent possible. However, after considering all of the factors that contribute to a decision to RIF, we have concluded that a certificated RIF of 36 positions, in specific job categories, will be necessary. Extensive work has been done by Human Resources to review the potential RIF list and to determine to what extent we expect to be able to place staff. While overall vacancies exceed displacements, there are several job categories in which sufficient vacancies do not exist to place displaced staff. That fact, combined with the number of staff who hold certification in only a limited number of categories, leads to a RIF at the secondary level in Career & Technical Education, Language Arts, PE and Social Studies teachers; and at the elementary level for counselors. The statutory deadline for notification of certificated RIF is May 15. Principals will notify staff members who are affected by a Reduction-in-Force by the end of this week. RIF will proceed per the provisions of the SEA collective bargaining agreement. . . .

seattle said...

Thank you LA Teachers Warehouse for bringing this to our attention. I have not heard anything from my child's school, Nathan Hale. How can I find out if any teachers were laid off there? This is truly a tragedy. The very very last thing to go should be our teachers.

StepJ said...

Ah, what to do?

Twin Kindergarten age daughters. Both are tutored six days a week. One excels in reading, the other in math.

One does well with the computer MAP test, the other does not. The reality -- the one who excels at reading scores 30 points lower on the MAP than the one that does not (which is a huge, BTW.)

Only reason why? Taking a test on a computer kind of freaks her out – she very obviously does not do her best.

What does this mean? We will spend our entire summer teaching her how to take a test.

We have been invited and strongly encouraged to enroll the low scoring daughter in summer school based solely on the MAP scores (no teacher input included.) Unless summer school focuses only on how to take a computerized test my daughter will do no better in the fall than she does now.

An exceptional teacher that differentiates her teaching methods based on the child’s interests and learning methods will be penalized - because she teaches the child and not to the (computerized) test.

I am fiercely angry that a computerized test will hold more sway for the evaluation of my child, her teacher, and her school than any education professional that has personal day to day knowledge and understanding of my daughter and her true skill and knowledge level.

gavroche said...

I agree. I have my own stories about the detrimental and abusive nature of the MAP test -- and the enormous amount of time and energy it takes up. Three times a year? For kindergarteners too? Libraries off limits when the test is being administered. $4.3 million+ is what the District is paying just for the subscription to MAP (payable to Northwest Evaluation Association, on whose board of directors, btw, sits Supt. Goodloe-Johnson).

What else could the District do with that $4.3 million?

Keeping those 36 teachers, for one thing.

Maybe it's time to RIF the Supt. and dump the expensive, inappropriate MAP.

Anonymous said...

StepJ said: "Twin Kindergarten age daughters. Both are tutored six days a week. One excels in reading, the other in math. "

This baffles me.

Not that twins can excel in different areas. Not that they could score 30 points differently on the MAP. Not that you have frustrations with the MAP and how it might be used for your kids. I can understand all that.

I'm baffled that any kindergartner would be tutored six days a week! Are they really so far behind in the other subjects they don't excel in that they need heavy tutoring in kindergarten?? Or are you working this hard at such an early age to make sure they get waaay ahead of the other kids? Or by "tutoring", maybe you mean hanging out and learning together with your and your spouse?

It's very possible that there's a completely rational explanation for this, so my mind is open. I'm just really curious.

wsnorth said...

What to do (MAP)? I'd ignore the district, brush off the MAP score, work with the teacher and maybe principal... and let the kids eat some dirt, chase their friends around the neighborhood and get some skinned knees. Seriously, don't worry too much about acedemics in Kindergarten!

Sahila said...

I understand StepJ's dilemma..

My happy, healthy, curious, funny, social, deep thinker first grader is doing his thing on his own schedule/inner timeline that's influenced also by how much time/energy/focus I can give him outside school hours...

And I choose to leave formal academics at the school gate every afternoon - we talk, play word and number and 'what if' games, explore life and learn lots, but not in a structured way...

He's the kid who piped up from the back seat of the car on the way to school last week, completely unprompted:
"Mum, I think it would be better for the earth if there were no people. We're hurting the earth and all the other living things. We need the earth but the earth doesnt need us"...

We have never discussed this idea and I'm pretty sure it hasnt come up in school and he hasnt been huddled with his mates in the playground, discussing eco-philosophy...

AND school sent me a notice last week offering him a place in summer school for a month because his TEST scores indicate he's an "at risk" child - at 6.5 years old, he's 'at risk' of not getting into college and ruining his life because he's not doing SOME things to an arbitrary timeline...

Summer school is 8.30-11.30 each day and if you miss one day, you're out...

8.30am start on a summer's day, means getting up at 6.30-7.00am and out the door by 8am, 5 days a week - lots of pressure...what to do?

Am I a bad parent if I dont take this 'opportunity' to bring him up to 'standard'?

Will his life be irrevocably damaged/altered if I say "no" to this offer, which by the way, will be made available to some other child/family if I dont say "yes" to by Monday!

Is this really what happiness, joy, excitement, puposefulness, achievement in life is all about?

Sahila said...

http://FunnyOrDie.com/m/3tfl

A video PSA from parents in California, protesting further teacher cuts...

Mr. Edelman said...

Jasper,

Other than word of mouth, I don't know how you find out who has been RIF'd.

Lori said...

StepJ, I'm sorry to hear your news. How frustrating! Is this based on the latest round of MAP testing, which only finished this past week at our school. That seems pretty fast for them to look at results and make recommendations.

Personally, I'd be hesitant to put my daughter thru summer school. Does the district pay for it? What exactly is the goal for a 6 year old to be in summer school?

I'm also curious if both girls have the same teacher this year. If so, that seems like prima facie evidence that MAP does not measure teacher effectiveness. Twins should not be scoring 30 points apart - they share a home environment, and if they share a teacher, clearly something else is going on, like a faulty testing process.

Your anger is completely understandable. Have you had any support from the teacher or principal? Do they see how silly this is?

Melissa Westbrook said...

StepJ, I urge you to start documenting your experience. There may come a time when you need it. I also urge you to let the Board know your experience. It is important they hear about how this is playing out. Also, you might consider not having her participate. I think (but help me out here) that she doesn't have to take the MAP test. Her teacher probably already knows her strengths and weaknesses just as you do. If you get pushback from the teacher/principal on this, be firm. Your child's mental state of being is just as important as any standardized test result.

As to the RIFs, I think that Charlie and I each thought the other person would be starting that thread. I'll put one up soon and maybe by then some folks might know where the RIFs are taking place (other than knowing it is at the secondary level; I'm thinking since they cut all the elementary counselors, they decided to RIF at secondary).

When I think that they are RIFing any teachers over keeping the Broad Resident for the CAO AND the one for the COO, it really makes me mad.

Grey said...

Sally was a star math student who easily understood advanced concepts, but continually froze on those “math minute” timed sheets. She was such a perfectionist that it was easy to assign the problem to anxiety. It wasn’t until several years later when Sally started really struggling in school that they found a sensory processing issue that affected the way she processed printed material especially in cases where the page was crowded.

Daniel barely passed the WASL each year. His teachers knew that he was an unmotivated student. They pushed him to work harder. When his MAP scores came in the 99% percentile, his parents had him tested & found a learning disability in writing.

Emily always did well on the DRA. She loved to read & devoured several books a week. She made “silly mistakes” on class tests though, sometimes misinterpreting the questions. Her teacher thought she understood Emily’s creative mind, but things got worse in middle school. Emily had dyslexia. She was able to read using the context of long passages to understand text. But when there was no context, like on multiple choice questions, Emily foundered.

If you see anomalies in your child’s assessment scores & performance - pay attention. It may be caused by an uncomfortable environment, or unfamiliarity with the testing tool. But it could also be a learning disability.

I identified my child’s learning disability much later that I should have. It probably could not have been identified in kindergarten but the signs were there. It is much harder to remediate older kids. I wish that I had paid attention.

Meg said...

I think it could be good if the district uses MAP to flag kids that may need additional assistance, for whatever reason. But if the district doesn't use teacher input about the kids the computer results flag... not so good.

seattle said...

I've told this story before but it's worth telling again.

In 2nd grade we had our son take the APP test. He scored very high, just a few points away from the minimum to get into APP. He qualified for Spectrum.

In 3rd grade we had him take the APP exam again, hoping that with a bit of test taking experience behind him he would score the few extra points needed to get into APP. But this time he bombed it. And I mean bombed big time.

We wondered how there could be such a huge vaiance in one year and decided to do some investigation. Here is what I found.

In 2nd grade the test proctor came to our childs school and pulled him out of his classroom after lunch. The proctor took him to a private room, where she administered the test to him one-on-one, reading each question to him and waiting while he filled in the bubble and did whatever else was required.

In 3rd grade it was a very different scenario. We had to take our son to a testing site (another school), at 8A on a Saturday morning (he's not a morning person). There was a large group of kids (30 or 40), and they were all taken in to a room together. The proctor handed out the test booklets, read the children the instructions, set the timer, and said "go". Kids were expected to do the test independently and turn it in when they were finished.

My kid has always had an issue with staying on task and focusing. He was at a huge disadvantage for the second test where he had to work independently and stay on task without being prompted or reminded to do so.

The test did not measure his academic ability at all. For him it only measured his ability to stay on task and focus.

Luckily we had both tests to compare. Had we only taken one, or the other, it would have been skewed. Especially if we only had the 3rd grade test. We would have thought our child was far behind, when if fact he was far ahead.

So take tests for what they are worth. Talk to your kids teachers, watch their classroom assignment grades, work with them on their homework to get a feel for how they are doing. Tests are a useful piece of the puzzle, but don't allow a test alone to dictate your kids ability level - there are too many variables. Test are just one piece of the puzzle.

Charlie Mas said...

Test results can generate good questions, but they don't provide good answers.

StepJ said...

Thank you all for sharing your experiences and suggestions.

Her teacher brought this to our attention as her test results and classroom work were so different.

I'll follow-up per the suggestions from Grey and others.

I am still very upset that the District is moving towards having this one test be their most important factor for evaluating our kids, teachers, and schools.

This summer in addition to sand, sun and fun we might toss in a few computer games. :-)

SolvayGirl said...

StepJ: I'm guessing the girls are fraternal twins (you didn't specify), so a difference in scores is as reasonable as it would be for any siblings. Fraternals just share a womb, not exact DNA.

SolvayGirl said...

StepJ: I know you KNOW all that, I was just pointing this out to the person who was surprised at the difference in the girls' scores. ;-)

Lori said...

Solvay, I just read a study a few weeks ago about twin studies and teacher effectiveness. The difference between fraternal twins is not as great as people would think. Yes, the concordance is better with identical twins, but there is still some concordance with fraternal twins too. I can't remember where I read it or who the authors were though, and I'm supposed to be working right now, so I'm not going to take the time to look for it! :-)

SolvayGirl said...

The studies may be true, but I know a pair of fraternal twin boys who are VERY different in everything from physical appearance to academic strengths and talents—just like most siblings. To me they were always the poster boys for nature vs. nurture.

hschinske said...

If one child is scoring 30 points higher than the other, that's got to be above grade level. If the child who scores lower is actually the better reader, based on day-to-day observation, then they're likely both somewhere above grade level.

I say you should ignore the summer school recommendation, ignore the MAP results, and either leave the kid alone or request individual testing through the school. The one-on-one testing they do for dyslexia and such should be much easier for her. If there *is* any underlying learning disability or other problem (heck, it could be her eyesight or something), summer school wouldn't be the answer anyway. Incidentally, as they're twins, were they premature at all? and if so, have they had any ill effects as a result? (My twins were full term, so I have no personal experience, but of course I read a lot about the possibilities when I was pregnant.)

Bear in mind that kindergarten is NOT EVEN REQUIRED in this state. If a first-grade teacher can handle a child with no previous formal education, s/he can certainly handle yours.

Another thing you could do is write a letter to the principal for your child's teacher's file, praising her work with your child and saying (not as the main point of the letter, but as an aside) that you believe your child's low score was not related to her learning that year, and certainly not to any deficiency in how she was taught. It shouldn't actually be necessary, but letters of praise are always good anyway.

It might be a good idea to have your daughters do some computer games and the like, but I sure as heck wouldn't spend the summer teaching them to take a computerized test. I'd take them to the playground and the beach and the library, just as you would any summer.

Helen Schinske

SPS mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meg said...

I know it's late in the thread, but what do other folks know about the use of Title I funds? I've read through some of the Dept of Education documents, and the "supplement, not supplant" rule is a good rule of thumb.

But the thing is, SPS is using Title I money for performance management (now school improvement). So, if a performance management grant is given to, say View Ridge, and also to Aki, it would be supplanting to use Title money at Aki for something that's also being done at View Ridge. Does that make sense? You can use Title I money to buy yourself a math teacher at an elementary, because that's supplementing what exists, but not a 1st grade teacher, which would supplant. But if performance management is something that non-Title I schools can apply for, and uses Title I money... wouldn't that be supplanting, even if the title monies are only spent at title schools?

Am I missing something? And did I make sense?

southmom said...

MAP results can be crazy. My 9-year-old fourth grader DOUBLED her reading and math scores between Sept. and January. Her reading scores went up again last month, but her math plummeted. We don't quite know what to make of it. Her teacher says not to worry, that she's working hard. But it's hard not to freak.

dan dempsey said...

Meg,

You make perfect sense to me. Unfortunately rules, codes, and laws are routinely ignored in Education at every level. I hope you can bring some sanity to this particular situation.

Let us start at the Top with "Race to the Top". Try THIS for ignoring Federal codes.

Stu said...

All right . . it's late, I'm tired, but my "Seattle Public Schools Pet Peeve" is barking again . . .

Just read the wonderful article about the Garfield Jazz Band winning the Essentially Ellington Competition, for an unprecedented fourth time, in New York this past weekend. The Roosevelt band, which has won three times in the past, came in fourth this year. That's first and fourth in the whole country . . . pretty prestigious stuff, wouldn't you think? Many of these students will actually move one to college to study music; many won't but participation in these programs has been an amazing part of their education here in Seattle.

So, once again, I find it unacceptable that kids who might have that extra bit of musical aptitude, who might benefit from an advanced music program THAT'S ALREADY OFFERED IN OUR SCHOOL DISTRICT, are offered no way to go to either school unless they live in the assignment area or are APP students. It's ridiculous that a student can take advantage of a great middle school music program, like the one at Eckstein, and then not be able to move over to Roosevelt but, instead, be sent to Nathan Hale, where music isn't as big a deal.

Either off comparable programs everywhere, have some sort of audition process for advanced musicians, or eliminate the programs entirely. The way it's set up now is unfair.

stu

link to story: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/musicnightlife/2011831485_ellington11.html?prmid=related_stories_section