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Friday, July 02, 2010

Friday Open Thread

According to Cliff Mass, summer IS coming but just after the 4th. Sigh. As an Arizona girl, I consider it sad to have to wear a sweater on the 4th but so be it. The trade-off is not burning my hand on my car door handle as often happens in AZ.

15 comments:

Sahila said...

This very vexing question of the Super and her staff not being able to certify that records are complete and correct...

Some of us have been submitting emails on matters currently being decided by the Board with a phrase included at the top of those submissions asking that our input be included as part of the record, and quoting the relevent RCW reference...

Kay Smith Blum sent me a note a couple of weeks ago saying she would make sure my email was included in the record, but has now come out in reply to another person and said that:

"It appears under the current constraints – emails are not “required” to be part of the record. I suggest if you want this included – that you create paper doc’s and submit them to Joan Dingfield in the board office."

What I want to know is this:

If you now can file Motions and Declarations etc in the Courts by email (which, for example, Scott Stafne has been doing for months on the lawsuits on which myself and many others are appellants, motions and declarations I have copies of in my email inbox) and those electronic filings are definitely part of the judicial record, how can SPS hold this ridiculous stance?

What is so special about SPS that it feels it necessary to place itself above processes that are accepted by the most procedurally-bond institutions in the land?

Amazing, absolutely amazing... just when I thought I had heard the worst craziness possible...

This needs to be challenged, but how? God forbid another lawsuit?

Sahila said...

The only possible reason I can think of for this turnaround is that the District thinks it can muzzle us (and discount our input) if we have to go to the trouble of providing hardcopies of everything we want to submit...

Fire the Superintendent...

Anastasia S. said...

Along the lines of summer-speak...I am the parent of a Stevens Elementary student who happens to also be an archer, and I want to let everyone know about a gem of a place to learn about archery called The Nock Point up in Mountlake Terrace. At the Stevens school carnival we set up an archery booth with help from archery instructors, including a man from the National Archery in the Schools Program, Dave Mack. Next Step Archery, which is at The Nock Point, 425.672.8080 (www.NextStepArchery.com) is offering summer camps that are affordable and have a lot of openings (this is the first year they are offering camps) and I can't recommend the instruction more highly. I've been a teacher in Seattle for many years (Graham Hill, MLK Elem.) and have observed children who may not be 'athletic' have great success with a bow an arrow--archery is an amazing sport that will build concentration while providing instant gratifiacation--a unique combo. Check it out!

Charlie Mas said...

It is vexing to learn that your emails to the Board are not necessarily included in the official record of information available to the Board when they made their decision.

The official record only has meaning when the Board's decision is appealed to the Superior Court. The Court regards anything in the record as known to the Board.

It was discovered, with the appeal of the high school math materials decision, that emails from constituents were not in the record. The District said that they were not in the record because, they claimed, they could not say with certainty that the Board Directors had read them. It seems arbitrary to me that in the face of ambiguity they chose to leave the emails out. The messages were unquestionably AVAILABLE to the Board Directors. I wonder if - and how - they could say, with certainty, that the Board members read the material that the staff provided?

However - and this is really weird - if you provide eight hard copy versions of your message to the Board secretary then it does becomes a part of the official record and, I suppose, the District says that the Board Directors will absolutely read it.

That's not credible.

seattle said...

Here is Harium's response to being asked what he thinks of all of these schools voting no confidence. It's on his blog.

"I am now back in Seattle. I have been away on a family holiday. My reaction to the votes at various schools is that I do not share lack of confidence in the superintendent. She is caring out the direction the board has asked her to. I do have conversations with her on the concerns that families bring. And they are weighed against what our goals are for the whole district."

He really doesn't care what the families and staff think of MGJ. That is crystal clear

seattle said...

Here is Harium's response to being asked what he thinks of all of these schools voting no confidence. It's on his blog.

"I am now back in Seattle. I have been away on a family holiday. My reaction to the votes at various schools is that I do not share lack of confidence in the superintendent. She is caring out the direction the board has asked her to. I do have conversations with her on the concerns that families bring. And they are weighed against what our goals are for the whole district."

He really doesn't care what the families and staff think of MGJ. That is crystal clear

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sahila said...

I put up the Community Declaration of No Confidence on behalf of a group of parents, educators and community members not affiliated with any particular organisation but calling ourselves the Seattle Shadow School Board.

That name came out of a series of informal get togethers by various activists to discuss our concerns and what we were doing (mostly singly) in SPS, to give each other moral support and to have some fun!

The name came up with a great deal of hilarity and facetiousness/irony - you know, a bunch of us concerned about our kids education, watching the Board doing its incomprehensible, illogical thing seemingly unable to muster the spine to manage the Super and the District... there was us, a handful or two of grownups able to do the research, see what was going on, calling it for what it was, basically doing the Board's job for them...

We quite quickly became much more serious about using the name and the Supe's evaluation and contract extension option seemed to be a good time to take on something of a public persona...

Hence the Declaration, hence the letters to as many teachers/schools as we could reach, to as many individual school PTA office holders we had the time to cover (we got to 2/3 of elementary schools but didnt have time before the June 16th board meeting to cover middle and high schools) and to reach out to the media...

All very labourious work, combing through public websites and gathering email addresses... people were very gracious about being contacted by email letter - of the 2,000+ contacts we made, we only had a half dozen or so negative responses.

Why I am writing this today? Well, we have 379 signatures on the community declaration and 12 school staffs have carried out their own votes of no confidence; a Queen Anne & Magnolia blog straw poll has around 77% of responses saying the Super is doing a poor job and then we also have those two surveys (one done by CPPS) showing that the majority of the 600 respondents also are not happy with the Super...

So, I want to get the Community Declaration signatures up to 500+ before I close it on 7th July for presentation at the Board meeting and I need help to make that happen... I need people to pass the word to communities that might not yet have been contacted/responded, such as middle and high school PTA memberships, the Native American, African Anerican, SBOC and Latino communities etc...

We have a good coverage of the various schools within SPS but it could be better, so that the Board cannot say its just a group of whiney, white, middle classed, privileged parents bitching cos they cant get their kids into the schools they want...

Will you spread the word pleas - and this URL -

http://www.petitiononline.com/S3B62010/petition.html

to all your connections... Seattle residents with an interest in the public education of our children - aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbours, colleagues, church communities, bowling leagues, book clubs, wherever you hang out...

I dont expect the Board to buckle under the pressure, but what they are doing - in spite of our concerns - needs witnessing... so this effort in that sense, will not be a waste...

And if you could come to the Board meeting on July 7th and help us make our views clearly, unmistakably known, that would also be great...

Thank you

Sahila

TechyMom said...

Today's Times has an article on ability grouping, which seems to be catching on in a few school disticts. I really hope this becomes the next big trend in education, and makes it's way here. It requires mastery to move to the next level, allows for both extra time and acceleration, and provides data concrete data, far beyond a single year-end test, about which students, teachers and schools are successful, and which might need additional supports. It seems to me like this approach has all the opportunity for accountability and intervention (like adding a social worker or tutors) of stndardized testing, without many of the drawbacks. It allows teachers to tailor lessons, and kids to go at their own pace. I also like mixed age peer groups, as I think kids gain a lot from watching older kids and caring for younger.

Sahila said...

Vertical(unitised)curriculum or timetabling, as many schools in Australia have, would do away with most of the issues we have here around 'meeting grade level expectations' for all groups, 'struggling', 'spec ed', 'normal', 'ESL' and 'gifted' children and all the kids who fall somewhere inbetween on this continuum...

see here for details:
http://austega.com/gifted/provisions/vertunittimetable.htm

Lori said...

Thanks for pointing that out, TechyMom. I love the idea. I read a quip in a book about education earlier this year that has stuck with me: Arranging children into grades by age makes about as much sense as arranging them by height.

Makes sense to me.

Sahila said...

and imagine this appraoch to learning math, science, language - engaged learning:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NKR/is_2_92/ai_n16726158/?tag=content;col1

We are so, so boring here in SPS.... imagine if Gates money actually funded this kind of education, as its happening in public education in Berkeley? That is appropriate for all ages from K through to Ph D level...

But then, how would the NWEA make its millions in MAP profits, and how could you continue to bash unions and teachers over their heads for this failure to standardise curricula and to adhere to scripted lessons?

TechyMom said...

I don't think ability grouping and MAP tests are necessarily incompatible. They are supposed to be used for similar ends.

Jan said...

Interesting articles, TechyMom and Sahila. Thanks for the links.
Two other things that "ability grouping" with mastery concepts does: it reduces (and maybe eliminates) the problem of social promotion. It doesn't really matter what "grade" you are in -- if you are still working on adding/subtracting fractions - your "tasks" just go with you to the next grade. There has been enough evidence of the harm of holding kids back (and we all see before us the "harm" of just passing them on regardless of whether they have mastered grade level work) that a system that requires mastery without hold back would be great.
Second, ability grouping also begins to move the system away from the "seat time" concept (I am one who writhes in dismay when the blog turns to the "problems" of having Hale start later -- and have fewer instructional hours than say, Garfield.) Hours in class should not be the goal -- learning should be. If they know the stuff -- they should move to the next level, and when they know enough to get a high school diploma, we should GIVE them a high school diploma and turn them loose on college level work -- either for college credit IN the high school, or through Young Scholars (or whatever the UW program is) or Running start, or whatever - or even AP, though I would like to wrest the thing more out of the hands of the company that markets AP exams and SATs, and instead, let them just "go to college" - either real college, or real college classes taught in high school buildings. Or -- for those who maybe want a different post high school path, whatever other post high school training provides the right path.

Jan said...

And now -- for an open thread question on a different topic. We are now about 8 or 9 weeks away from the start of the next school year. I can no longer find on the SSD website the chart that showed the numbers of students enrolled at each school. Does anyone know if people's fears of too many students at Garfield, Roosevelt, Bryant, Eckstein, etc. because of the size of the SAP enrollment areas is coming true? (And, on the flip side of that coin, where enrollment is at schools that started out underenrolled -- Rainier Beach, Sandpoint, Queen Anne Elementary, Cleveland STEM, etc.?) And whether the SSD was able to preserve the 10% choice option in all schools?