Various Small Notes

Here are some nuggets from my email inbox that I thought might be of interest.

Strategies 360 is hiring an Education Communications Manager. You could be the flak for Education Reform in Seattle - if you have what it takes.

A fellow wrote to the Board and the Superintendent with this question:
I would like to see the district's analysis of why the Schmitz Park Elementary has such a fantastic standard Math pass rate. I'm sure the district has noticed this and determined the reasons why such a success cannot be replicated.
To which Dr. Goodloe-Johnson replied:
Thank you for your question [name deleted]. The district has had conversations around success and areas of improvement. We have targeted schools to analyze and learn from, we will share publically when we are finished.
I think both the question and the answer were disingenuous. The person writing pretended not to know about Singapore and so did the Superintendent. Hee-larious.

Diane Ravitch, education historian and former Assistant Secretary of Education, will head “"Race to Where?," a forum on the damaging realities of education reform, Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 7 p.m., at Seattle University’s Pigott Auditorium.


Arnold said…
The District uses our children as guinea pugs. I mean the district uses our schools for "targeted research". It would be nice if the District told parents about this. Don't you think?
Anonymous said…
Anyone want to discuss legal office employee arrested for dealing crack? Because hello, school district legal office employee arrested for dealing crack.

Jet City mom said…
he was the legal asst for students with 504's- has anyone else been assigned to the position?
Anonymous said…
The Schmitz Park math program is fantastic! Let's not side track this post. This program has energized the entire school! Instead of trying to replicate it, however, the district seems intent on trying to destroy this school by bringing in portables, skewing the boundaries, and generally overcrowding it. This math program should be the district standard, no question.
suep. said…
Hi Charlie,
Thanks for posting a notice about our upcoming forum featuring Diane Ravitch. I just want to clarify that Dr. Ravitch will be conferencing from New York via Skype. On site at Pigott Auditorium will be Wayne Au (of Rethinking Schools), Jesse Hagopian and Dora Taylor. There will be a Q&A for audience questions after Ravich's talk. And it's free.

More details here.

See you there!

-- sue p.
suep. said…
And yes, every school should be following Schmitz Park's lead in math. The board approved Singapore Math the same time it approved Everyday Math, didn't it? So why can't we demand that it provide the Singapore Math resources for all schools?

--sue p.
dan dempsey said…
When the Board approved Everyday Math it did so as EDM had sort of advanced through the correct adoption process. The supplement "Singapore Math" had not gone through the process.

Under state law the Board accepts or rejects a recommendation of materials that has come before them by process.

The Board had NO Right to approve a supplement from outside this process. Singapore as a supplement was not the result of a legal process by the Board.

The process that produced Everyday Math was in fact corrupted by Santorno to move it from TERC/Investigations to EDM.
ParentofThree said…
Schmitz Park is a perfect example of "alignment, where teachers are free to use supplemental materials," (Singapore). It is going to take strong school leadership to improve students math scores and Schmitz Park obviously has that leadership in place.
But just speaking of supplemental materials, the district doesn't pay for them. As Dr. G-J explained it, the schools themselves can budget for it or teachers can pay for it. So if you want to use something you believe helps kids, either your principal has to pony up or you do.

Also, just to be clear, the state does NOT pay for textbooks. That is considered the district's duty. The line item in our budget for books was eliminated at least a decade ago. That books are an important part of the classroom and the district left itself in this position of ignoring it until it gets really bad is on them. Harium said he was very startled to get on the Board and find this out.
Bird said…
My kid was in Kindergarten last year and 4 times during the year we got little glossy booklets published by EveryDay Math that told us of mathy activities we could do with our kids. (The sort of mathy activities our family did when our kid was a toddler, so the relevance for us was zero.)

Anyway, I noticed each of those little booklets cost $2.50 on the EveryDay Math website. We were expected to keep them.

I don't know what they purchased from EDM. For all I know it was a package of ongoing additional materials. But for $10 wasted on this, I'd rather the district buy some Singapore materials.
Bird said…
The other thing that I think is hee-larious about EDM is the homework.

Now I'm not a big fan of homework for Kindergarteners, and I can see the EDM homework is mainly meant to be homework for me. The EDM homework irritates me especially, however, because it makes a whole bunch of assumptions about my life that aren't true because I live in the future ;)

They keep asking my kid to cut things out of newspapers and magazines --paper newspaper and magazines. My kid: "A newspaper? Isn't that one of those things from the olden days."

They want me to watch the "evening news weather report" with my kid on, get this, TV. Me: When is that even on? We can probably find something online.

They expect us to buy groceries every week. Groceries filled with boxes and cans our kids can sort by shape. Uh, we don't go on big grocery store trips to buy things in boxes and cans. We go to the farmer's market and buy fresh produce and buy fresh items during the rest of the week in tiny, unsortable quantities.

The expect me to have marshmallows and toothpicks on hand for my kid to build 3-D shapes with. Who has this stuff? I don't own a car, so I can't rush out and get any either.

And they expect me to have a big jar of spare change, cause, like, I use paper money. (Okay, I'm exaggerating here. I do have some change, but give it another year or two).

Anyway, all this makes me notice that the homework is written to be usable only by a middle class family in 1995 (or one that lives like it's 1995).

Our case is comical cause, well, times have moved on, but for other less affluent kids I'm sure it's less comical.

If a family is living hand to mouth, as many do, they won't have a big jar of spare change, toothpicks and marshmallows, newspapers and magazines or even food lying around to sort into categories. Makes me thing the folks who wrote EDM are just a bunch of ignorant jerks.
Chris S. said…
I believe Schmitz Park have a waiver NOT to use EDM. This is important ecause "supplementing" requires both money and time.
Moose said…
I am wondering how you know that the Education Communications job is for edu-reform? I didn't glean anything like that from the job listing and from looking at the firm's client list. (And yes, after two years of under-employment and no health benefits, I am desperate for work!)
Moose said…
Whoops, it was Charlie who posted this, not Melissa. I need coffee!
Charlie Mas said…
Moose, Strategies 360 works for the Alliance for Education and the Our Schools Coalition, two Education Reform organizations. Well, one Education Reform organization actually since the Our Schools Coalition is mostly another face of the Alliance for Education.

I think the ad has been revised, because I'm pretty sure it used to actually say "Education Reform".

Trust me, though, Strategies 360 is promoting the Education Reform perspective. The non-corporate perspective doesn't have money to hire PR firms.
Steve said…
I thought the same thing about the Everyday Math booklets our school sent home. I honestly wasn't sure what to do with them. It seemed to say to me "This is something related to math, but it's not really math, and we want you to play around with it in the hopes that it becomes math to you and your child." I'm no math with, but I do know that $2.50/booklet x X thousand kids = a lot of money that was probably wasted.
Lori said…
Bird, we share a hatred of the absurdity of EDM, apparently. Wait until you see the addition and subtraction triangles they use for 1st grade EDM. It's as if the EDM folks took a traditional flash card and purposefully tried to make it unusable and overly complicated. And since this is perhaps the only opportunity to "drill and kill" basic math facts, it's a shame they made a tool that doesn't work at all.

I do find it interesting though that there is variability in how EDM is rolled out at different schools. I never got any glossy parent guides last year like Bird did. I never got a password to view activities on the EDM web site either (but I got one this year). Sporadically, we got a paper copy of the family letter for whatever unit they were doing. Why is this? Did Bird's school's PTA pay for those glossy guides but mine didn't find them helpful? Is this how schools are supposed to "individualize" and supplement the material?

And one last grumble. My child's 2nd grade EDM worksheet last nite gave her a data set and had her determining the median and mode (among other things). Why? When will a 7-year old need to find a median in her "everyday" life? And maddeningly, as I sat down to explain how you find a median ("There are 11 data points, so we divide 11 by 2..."), I realized that since she hasn't mastered basic division facts, much less how to divide an odd number by 2, we are again putting the horse before the cart. So instead, we lined the data points up from smallest to largest and did it visually (with me wondering if this is how they presented it at school - was I reinforcing a concept or confusing her with something new?). The whole thing makes me crazy; at a time in her life when she should be learning basic math facts, we were spending our time working on measures of central tendency that I don't think I learned until high school or have ever needed to use outside my professional career.
Jet City mom said…
I am wondering how you know that the Education Communications job is for edu-reform?

this is from their " blog"

Strategies 360 is working with the State on its Race to the Top application process. The first phase of this effort is an enormous success. As of today, 87.5% of the state’s 295 school districts have returned signed Partnership Agreements, in which they make commitments to take specific actions to improve their schools. Even better, these districts cover 96.4% of all the students in Washington’s public schools.

This is only the first phase of this application process but the breadth of this commitment to school reform improves our chances of securing these federal education funds.

But, whether Washington gets this money or not, our path of education reform is right for kids and we’ll continue building on the momentum from Washington’s Race to the Top to create better outcomes for our students.
Eric B said…
I agree that EDM is awful. But TERC was even worse, if that can be imagined. So at least EDM is half a step in the right direction. Why they took half a step instead of a flying leap is beyond me, though.
dan dempsey said…
Schmitz Park has a waiver to use Singapore Math.

There is no way to correctly implement Singapore Math and at the same time be using Everyday Math.

Also Schmitz Park uses no District Math coaches. At 10 or 11 million bucks per year for centralized literacy and math coaches, it seems a move to Singapore Math could easily pay for the materials out of coaching savings.

It would seem that schools that wish to move to Singapore math could begin with a k-2 adoption and then add a grade per year.
Bird said…
So how long has Schmitz Park been using Singapore?
Jennifer said…
"But TERC was even worse"

Says who?

TERC had some holes that needed supplementing, but the base content was strong mathematical ideas. EDM's base content is watered down and jumbled up (spiraling curriculum). Singapore math does a great job at building fact fluency, but also have holes that need filling. There is NO curriculum that will ever be perfect; it’s the standards that need to guide instruction NOT the curriculum!
Bird said…
Abby G,

Can you provide some details please? Sounds like you are pretty familiar with the different publishers.

What holes does Singapore need filled?

TERC's base content was "strong"? How so.

TERC occupies the space between my schooling and my kid's schooling, but I have to say everything I've heard (from neighbors and teachers) and read about it (albeit largely by critics) makes it sound genuinely disastrous.

It's my impression that during TERC kids were never taught how to divide by fractions or do long division. I've read ananlysis of the TERC texts that say you can go through the whole curriculum and never run across calculations with certain numbers (the tricky ones you can't easily do in your head). Didn't TERC have a huge bias against precision and teaching direct algorithms that work in all cases

This doesn't seem to me like a curriculum with holes, to me it looks like not teaching mathematics, and at the very least not teaching arithmetic.

But you do probably know more about it than I do. So let's hear it!
hschinske said…
It's my impression that during TERC kids were never taught how to divide by fractions or do long division.

That's common to lots of recent math curricula. There are plenty of people who will tell you that doing long division by hand is as outdated as extracting cube roots by hand. (I am not one of them.)

Helen Schinske
Anonymous said…
i found this interesting site from a colorado educator/administrator.
you all may have already read it but, if, not, have a look.

i got this from Diane Ravitchs website. its not so much the blog entry but the responses that are very good.

Eric B said…
I'm running off of my experience with one child who was in the early grades of elementary school during the TERC era. We found TERC worse than EDM. I should have specified that this was a single data point.
jd said…
Does anyone have the history on how Schmitz Park earned the waiver to teach Singapore, and how they fund it? I'm sure lots of us would like to attempt to reproduce their success. Any advice on getting grass roots efforts started would be appreciated.

However, I do confess to loving the addition fact triangles for everyday math. It's a very smart way to think about addition and subtraction. Of course, that doesn't mean that it's a way that beginning students can master.
dan dempsey said…
Schmitz Park declined to use EDM in 2007-2008 citing too many other projects and adjustments that year to undertake EDM. Eventually they gained a Singapore waiver. SchmitzPk never used EDM at all. SP has been full on Singapore since 2008-2009 school year.

Note 5th grade teacher Craig Parsley had been a Singapore fan before all this hub-bub started. He vehemently testified against EDM adoption in May of 2007, for he knew what could be done with Singapore Math.
Bird said…
So in 2007 they were using TERC?
seattle said…
Our school used Terk until 2007, then switched to EDM.
wseadawg said…
Schmitz Park Rocks, and has rocked in Math since way back when. Why? Because when I toured the school before my kids enrolled in Kindergarten (elsewhere, ultimately), the 5th grade class was doing math JUST LIKE I DID IN THE 70s. Thus, parents can help kids without confusion, crying fits, panic and anxiety, unlike all the other schools in the district. And keeping it simple means kids can actually enjoy, not hate, doing math.

In my house, we typically toss the EDM junk to the side and consult one of the Math for Dummies books, which are pretty good.

Frankly, I don't see how my kids' opinion about a problem they just did is relevant or useful to mastering math. But I guess the zombies on the adoption committee know better. If only they could appreciate the collateral damage of teaching a generation of kids to hate math.
Moose said…
wseadog,I learned math during the 1970's and there were plenty of kids who hated math then too. In my experience, there was ONLY ONE ALGORITHMN and it came to you as holy writ. No matter that all over the world, for instance, there are multiple ways to do a complex multiplication problem and still come up with the right answer. And guess what, my parents derided the "new math" of my youth as well.

There is no "golden age" of math, IMHO.
hschinske said…
There were many different approaches being used in the 1970s. My district was still using New Math, as lampooned by Tom Lehrer. Oh, wait -- Moose, are you saying you had "new math" and it was the One True Algorithm way? Because that's not the way I remember it at all. I remember struggling with set theory, and asking the teacher WHY you couldn't just say "red things," but instead had to say "the set of red things," what did it get you? And don't get me started on Cuisenaire rods -- instruments of torture, I thought them then -- though I'm not sure those were part of new math.

Helen Schinske
ParentofThree said…
"confusion, crying fits, panic and anxiety"

Yep, that sums up math in my house!
MathTeacher42 said…
Helen at 9/22/10 12:53 PM

This is my 6th year teaching high school math. I'm 50, I wasn't in a k-12 environment from 1978 to 2003. Math teaching was NOT perfect 30 and 40 years ago.

I've experienced lots of similiar comments in the last 6 years, and those kind of statements come from people who typically:

have NOT been out in the low end dog eat dog job market where basic math deficiencies = permanent lousy pay and really really really limited options in the world,

have NOT been in higher end dog eat dog job markets,

are COMPLETELY unaware of their personal mastery of math basics and how important that mastery has been,

from background$ in the upper quintile$ of income, OR, have been in those upper quintile$ for quite a number of years,

well meaning but will NOT acknowledge the failures of reform dogma,

steadfastly blaming drill and kill teachers of 40 years ago who aren't anywhere I've seen in the last 6 years.

What Lori describes at 10:21 is the day to day reality for too many of our high school kids - confusion and frustration with rambling curriculum which rambles to the kids because the kids were NEVER allowed AND NEVER required to master a basic tool kit of skills.

Bob Murphy
Anonymous said…
SPS knows that the 5th grade graduates from Schmitz Park dominate mathematics in the District. They are #1 in the District and #3 in the State. They dominate the honors math program at Madison MS, with many students skipping directly from grade 5 to Math 8, and most to Math 7! (That is not a typo...I said "Math 8".) Schmitz had at least four students with perfect math MSP scores last year and all females pass the math MSP.

Do the data abstraction...a child leaving Schmitz Park is the top performing math student in the district (on average).

But...SPS could care less...they can't admit failure. EDM is a failure...I will say it again...EDM IS A FAILURE. No hyperbole here...

Signed: Concerned West Seattle Parent
Eric B said…
Hang on a minute. Aren't there other schools using Singapore (North Beach?)? If there are, how do they compare? If other Singapore schools aren't as dominant as Schmitz Park, then maybe the answer isn't only in the curriculum, but something else that the school has.

I'd love to know what that is, too.
Nobody said…
North Beach is (or was?) using Saxon math.
wsnorth said…
Right on, "Concerned West Seattle Parent". And to those of you who say they are trying to run SPS like a business, this is proof to me these folks are lousy business people, terrible decision makers, or both. No successful business would ignore the results of a runaway success like this. A well run "business" or school would replicate and leverage success from one location to another. District admin acts like a farmer piling sheep into the back of a truck - they only care about how many they can cram in, not where the sheep are going, much less for the welfare of the sheep - oh, I mean students.
Anonymous said…
There is one Singapore Math School in SPS - Schmitz Park.

Signed: Concerned West Seattle Parent
uxolo said…
Bird, your post this morning (8:43 am) needs an even bigger audience than this blog.
Please send it on to the Board and go to the "Contact Us" page of They may have some ideas about who else should have a glimpse into the reality of EDM.
Josh Hayes said…
I think it's fair game to post something under "various small notes"; Mel or Charlie, feel free to ding this post if it seems egregious.

But hey, there's an open house at AS1 tomorrow (Thursday) night, from 6 to 7:30, and I'd love to see non-AS1 people there, checking out what we're doing. Maybe you'll hate it, maybe you'll like it, but it'd be great to at least get some exposure.

Come on by and see what we're up to in the struggle to maintain alternative education in SPS! I'll be bringing my killer mushroom blue cheese polenta tart to the potluck, in case that sways anyone!
dan dempsey said…
Schmitz Park I do not believe ever fully embraced TERC. TERC was never an official District adoption. It was just everywhere. SP used other materials along with TERC I believe.

In 2007-2008 when almost every SPS elementary school began EDM. Several Schmitz Park teachers began using Singapore Math and some did 100% Singapore Math.

The waiver came the following year 2008-2009.
hschinske said…
MathTeacher42, I think you meant to address wseadawg. I was DISAGREEING with the idea that math teaching in the 1970s was necessarily great. Moose and I had differing classroom experiences, but they were both lousy. I learned 99% of my math at the kitchen table.

Helen Schinske
Unknown said…
This comment thread still appears active, and it's as close to an "open" thread as there is right now.

So here's the news. Per the Slog, the teacher's union supports the levy.
dan dempsey said…

You are correct that most math instruction has been "historically" poor. That is not to imply that change will necessarily make things better.

In fact the Math Ed gurus at UW have made things even worse. Data HERE.

A while back THIS was posted about autonomy.

Schmitz Park is a prime example of the superiority of Autonomy.

The MGJ and her Board are killing teaching and teachers.

Mathematics teaching can be improved. There are numerous examples of teachers that when given autonomy can do so.

It seems that we are way past due on giving principals greater autonomy and greater responsibility for producing improvement.

Each school needs its own board of directors to support and hold the principal accountable. Principals need the resources and freedom to produce needed change.

Schmitz Park did it through exceptional courage. Notice 19 out of 19 principals supported the Superintendent's recommendation for Key Curriculum Press's "Discovering Math". Their jobs depend on mindless support for their Autocratic Leader, which has "Zero" effect on improving things. In fact with Discovering we've seen negative results.
hschinske said…

You are correct that most math instruction has been "historically" poor. That is not to imply that change will necessarily make things better.

I didn't say most math instruction has historically been poor. I don't have enough data to know whether that's true. I said that from my own experience, it was nearly as bad, in a slightly different way, when I was a kid as it is today. Indeed, the "new math" of my childhood privileged conceptual knowledge at the expense of procedural and factual knowledge in much the same way as recent inquiry-based curricula tend to do.

I prefer a more balanced approach, myself, with all three kinds of knowledge brought along at the same time. From what I've seen of Singapore, it qualifies pretty well.

Helen Schinske
ParentofThree said…
I was poking around SPS trying to find out some information about Education Directors and came across a memo that was dated June10 (and July 8th in the footer._

What caught my eye was that QA Elementary is now a STEM school. I this link comes through, it is long
ParentofThree said…
I think I converted the link:
seattle citizen said…
Parentof Three, the link you provided (here hyper-linked)also lists
ALL programs moved or opened along with QA elementary being a STEM school.
Special Ed, Spectrum, ALO...all sorts of movement, openings, closings....Thanks for the link!
wsnorth said…
seattle citizen - is that linked document a joke?

- additional Generic Self-Contained classroom is needed... at West Seattle ... [and] Rainier Beach High School. Really?

- The designation of Chief Sealth as an international school completes a K-12 strand of international programs in West Seattle. What about a true International Middle and Elementary program, I guess a "strand just requires designation, not any real action.

- to accommodate increased enrollment at West Settle Elementary! Increase, decrease, whatever...

- Queen Anne Elementary will open as a STEM Program. When is this happening?

- [moving] Spectrum from WSE to Arbor Heights is consistent with the NSAP.... well, it is as consistent as anything else about NSAP.

Seriously, did someone fabricate this document just to amuse me tonight?
ParentofThree said…
Yeah, I suspected there were some nuggets in that memo, other than the new K-5 STEM school in Queen Anne.

Now they just need to tag a 6-8 as STEM and they have a K-12 Stem program. (makes ya wonder, whose next...)

And is this what they mean by Innovation Schools. I hope not!
cascade said…
WS North U know your stuff. You are a consistent commenter on this blog. The question is, are you going to run for school board. If so, get going. And if you are not, WHO are you going to educate and persuade to run. Because frankly not a darn thing is going to change in WS unless you get a different board rep. In fact little will change across the district unless we get a different mix of votes. Sundquist has to go. As does Maier and Martin-Morris.

You know what your district needs. What are YOU going to do to really make a difference instead of pontificating from the sidelines.

And PS, yes I am putting my money where my mouth is. I am writing a check to a mom parent in Harium's district who sees through the gobbeldy-gook being spewed by the pr flacks at HQ. She is educated, engaging and is going to kick a little a** KSB-style. You do your part and that just leaves Maier.
none1111 said…
cascade said: "Sundquist has to go. As does Maier and Martin-Morris. "

You seem to have forgotten to include Carr. She may not be as disgracefully bad as Maier and Sundquist, but she hasn't done anything meaningful besides bleat along with the others for her entire term.

Of these 4, I think Martin-Morris has the best chance of getting set back on the tracks, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope for that.
cascade said…
I did not forget PTSA Supermom Carr. I have been unimpressed with the amount of knowledge she has versus what she has actually done with it.

BUT if she does revamp last year's PATHETIC budget process AND puts a public, qualified professional on the Audit committee then I might give her a pass, just because it is a hell of a lot more than Harium, Steve and Peter have done.

I do think all three of them are beatable. The Position III mom rocks from what I've seen of her. But still I persist. WHO THE HELL IS RUNNING AGAINST PETER AND STEVE. Get off this blog people and step up. Seriously. I learn a lot here but sometimes it feels like just so much armchair QBacking with no one willing to do the seriously heavy lifting.
QA is STEM in name only as far as my neighbor w/two kids enrolled there can tell.
seattle citizen said…
Administration gets the APPLE$ and QA elementary gets the STEM.

Which word verifier, thinking this "reform" hokey, would call getting hoaked.
Anonymous said…
Everyday Math, even at the Spectrum level of performance, has no effect on the MSP scores of 5th grade math students when correlated against Singapore Math Students. In fact, it could be argued that EDM has a negative effect on your child's math education.

Compare these two schools. Schmitz Park and Lafayette. They are just a few blocks from one another. Both have the same demographics.

Schmitz Park students (Grade 5) passed the MSP at 94.5%. They are the top performers in the district under the new math standards (and 3# in the State).

LaFayette Elementary School (with Spectrum) at Grade 5 only scored 76.6% passing the MSP. They actually didn't do so well for their demographic.

Now ask yourselves...why are the Spectrum students scoring so low in math. It's not the teachers at LaFayette...they are all top quality instructors.'s the math program. EDM is a waste of money. Your children are being short-changed by the district. When are you people going to begin your revolution?

Schmitz Park began theirs several years ago. Look at what they have done in a few short years.

This thread started as a discussion of MGJ's willful ignorance and obfuscation about Singapore Math. It devolved into a mush. Personally, I am going to hound the district to get Singapore Math at my school. Who will join me.

Signed: Concerned West Seattle Parent
ParentofThree said…
"QA is STEM in name only as far as my neighbor w/two kids enrolled there can tell."

Yes, the document indicates a soft rollout this year, look for full implementation in Sept 2011.

When will they start talking about it publically, your guess is as good as mine.

Remember, this community wanted a Montasorri or Language school and was told no.
Anonymous said…
Well, there are other things at Schmitz Park which also contribute to good scores. They used to have a special education classroom, which was in a dumpy portrable. Students got very little in that classroom, including no running water. Students were routinely bullied and teased.. and ignored by the staff. Eventually the district killed the program, dispersing the students to other locations. Then, it had an "inclusion" program... but it was never very inclusive environment, and at least a few of those students were driven out.

So, it's all fine and good to declare some sort of "math victory". But, when you drive out all your challenges rather than address them, it's hard to pin that success on a text book.

-- special education parent

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