Showing posts from October, 2010

Urgent ! Sign up to Speak at Board Meeting

Look folks, if you are really worried/upset/frustrated over the TFA process, you have got to sign up to speak at the Board meeting this Wednesday. I feel certain there will be plenty of "go TFA" people. Use whatever I wrote if you feel like you don't know how to state it. I have word that SEA is NOT happy and they have quite a lot to say including some good suggestions about what the district should be doing. E-mail or call 252-0040 to get on the list. It is likely to be crowded but they have been clearing the waitlist as of the last two meetings. FYI, the Superintendent has the last of her coffee chats this week. Monday from 6-7 p.m. at Mercer Middle School Tuesday from 8:10-10a.m. at North Beach Elementary School (I just noticed that all the evening ones were 1 hour and the daytime ones were about 2 hours.)

Advice on the NSAP Meetings and Drop-In Sessions

I attended the first drop-in session for the NSAP and the Transition Plan. It was headed by Tracy Libros. About 7 people attended but I wouldn't have expected more given the lack of outreach by staff to let people know about it. I didn't come away with much info as Tracy and her team are still working on data analysis from this fall's enrollment patterns. (The Annual Enrollment Report will do analysis on Oct. 1 enrollment versus last year's, school choice trends, enrollment by attendance, option and service schools, siblings, by grade level, new schools, Spectrum/APP, International schools, K-8, demographics, where students live versus their school, kindergarten and projections.) So we just went over the some of the Powerpoint given at the Work Session and discussed our issues. Tracy handed out the Powerpoint and a US Census timetable for information which goes from Feb. 2010 - June 2013. It looks like the most basic info will come out in May-June 2011. (I

TFA Agreement with the District

I need someone with a legal background to read this thing but I do see some problems here. Here is WAC wording for why the district can do this (italics mine): "(a) The purpose of the conditional certificate is to assist local school districts, approved private schools, and educational service districts in meeting the state's educational goals by giving them flexibility in hiring decisions based on shortages or the opportunity to secure the services of unusually talented individuals. The professional educator standards board encourages in all cases the hiring of fully certificated individuals and understands that districts will employ individuals with conditional certificates only after careful review of all other options. The professional educator standards board asks districts when reviewing such individuals for employment to consider, in particular, previous experience the individual has had working with children. " How do we know the TFA teachers ar

High School Credit Delayed Further

Incredible as it may seem, Seattle Public Schools still refuses to allow high school credit for high school level courses taken in middle school. Let's review the timeline on this cluster. Around 2004 or 2005 the State Legislature adopted this part of RCW 28A.230.090 : (4) If requested by the student and his or her family, a student who has completed high school courses before attending high school shall be given high school credit which shall be applied to fulfilling high school graduation requirements if: (a) The course was taken with high school students, if the academic level of the course exceeds the requirements for seventh and eighth grade classes, and the student has successfully passed by completing the same course requirements and examinations as the high school students enrolled in the class; or (b) The academic level of the course exceeds the requirements for seventh and eighth grade classes and the course would qualify for high school credit, because the course

Tom Douglas Helping SPS Students Eat Better

Famous local chef, Tom Douglas, is lending his skills to creating recipes for lunches for SPS students and teaching district cooks how to make them. From the article at the Stranger Slog: The partnership will allow Seattle Public Schools to serve made-from-scratch meals in its cafeterias for the first time . The project is possible because of a $100,000 federal Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, said SPS Nutrition Services Director Eric Boutin. It's tied to Mayor Mike McGinn's Let's Move! program—launched yesterday—which seeks to end childhood obesity. (Note: this is First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! project.) Nearly one-quarter of Seattle students in eighth, 10th, and 12th grades are overweight, with rates for Hispanic and African-Americans being even higher. I asked Boutin whether SPS had banned trans fats, preservatives, refined flour, high-fructose corn syrup, white bread, generic hot dogs and hamburgers, and extremely salty foods.

Continuing in the Pursuit of Unwhelming Engagement

I received a link to the robocall that the Superintendent sent out about the levy. I don't particularly have a problem except that it's not the Operations Levy; we had that in February. This is a supplemental operations levy. There is a difference but the Superintendent is hoping you won't notice. She also talked about the upcoming meetings about the NSAP. She said info has gone out to schools and PTAs. Did anyone receive anything from either source on Friday? Was it posted in your school? Website? Kid mail? (I did a quick spot check and found one high school - Center - had it on its webpage. Only Hamilton had it (and they didn't mention the NSAP so it wasn't clear what it was about). For K-8, I found South Shore had a complete listing with explanation. I couldn't find one elementary that had the info. So I am hoping it went home in kid mail or is hanging up at school. (Eckstein and Wedgwood already have their 2011 tour dates up - fast work.)

Hard to Say When the Board Has Made Me This Angry

(Please note, this is not my thread on my TFA research.) So I'm a little behind so a reader sent me a let he sent to the Board. This letter is about the fact that Teach for America has yet again been put on the Board Agenda for the Board meeting on Wednesday. I went and checked out the agenda (there are several interesting items including public notice of a parent who appealing the use of a specific textbook) and there it was. And, if you read the so-called action report, well, TFA is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Are they kidding me? So what was my central question before? What is the problem they are trying to solve? Is there a shortage of teachers? No. From the item: We believe that the larger our candidate pool, the more likely that we will hire the best teachers for our classrooms. OHHHH. That's the problem, not a big enough candidate pool. Why TFA? TFA’s mission is to help eliminate educational inequity by enlisting the nation’s most promisin

Spooky, It's Open Thread Friday

I'm going to do something very scary and that's drive downtown for the first (and mostly unadvertised) drop-in session on the NSAP. (The scary is driving home during rush hour. On a Friday. I try to NEVER go out on the freeway on Fridays.) But 3-5 pm is the time they picked so I'll be there. This is a sad Halloween as I have no party to go to and I just thought I would be a great Snooki. (She's a short girl like me but she uses a "bump-it" to get height.) But don't worry if you don't know who she is; it's not important and you really don't need to know. But she would serve a great example for children as to why they should stay in school but then they would have to watch just one episode of Jersey Shore (as I did). That would be wrong and scar their eyes for years.

A Couple of Shout-Outs

To JSIS principal, Kelly Armaki, who won the 2010 Milken Educator Award for Washington with a $25,000 cash prize. Good for him and good for JSIS. (One slightly sad note: the OSPI website story says that he works to connect Spanish immersion students with native Spanish speaking ELL students. This is great but if you will recall from the NSAP discussions, fewer native speakers will be able to go to JSIS because it is an attendance area school, not an option school.) As well a shout-out to Lowell Elementary, Stevens Elementary 2nd grade and South Shore Elementary for creating altars for Dia de Muertos at Seattle Center. I'm sure that was a great project for kids, both interesting and educational. There will be altars at the Center House and a candlelight procession from the Center House to the International Fountain at 7 p.m. on Saturday. As well, there are other activities on both Saturday and Sunday. For those who may not know, Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a t

LEV Evening with Ed Reformers

I just sat down to write up a post about the LEV event at MOHAI (which turned out to be interesting and informative). I was going over my notes and started in but I realized it's on video if you want to watch it. Are most of you going to watch it anyway or should I post my notes/reactions to what was said? You can watch the entire event online via TVW .

LEV Event with the Ed Reformers

It was interesting to say the least and I can honestly say I learned something and walked away better informed. The auditorium at MOHAI was filled (and not just the usual suspects). I saw Councilman Tim Burgess as well as Board President Michael DeBell. (And Councilman Burgess was introduced as the brains behind this event. The Councilman has decided to step into Seattle education. Welcome, Tim.) So the moderator, Adam Porsch, works for the Gates Foundation and used to work in the D.C. district (but he didn't reference Rhee so I don't know if he worked with her). With him were Richard Barth, CEO of the KIPP Foundation; Timothy Daly, President of the The New Teacher Project; and Steve Barr, Founder and Emeritus Chair, Green Dot Public Schools. The discussion was organized around the guests giving a overview of their group's work, a few central questions and then questions from the audience. (Just as an aside, and I don't mean this badly, but there they were,

From the Board Work Session on NSAP

I was unable to attend yesterday's Work Session but several parents did. Thank you to all who put in links. I haven't looked at these documents myself but wanted to get them up so you can see them. There are three on various graduation issues and one on capacity management.

Louder Now

So I guess the folks at Schools First are getting a little desperate. Because in not one but two radio interviews, their spokesperson said things that were just plain wrong and/or misleading. I want to point this out because no matter how much you want to win, you do not tell voters wrong information. Not if you want to have your group keep any integrity going forward. Exhibit 1. This afternoon, Dorothy Neville of the Committee for Responsible Education Spending debated Sharon Rodgers from Schools First on KUOW. Sharon stated, that "no money was lost" in the audit. Yes, it was. The district overpayed something like 80 employees over a series of months and is working to get the money back. It is unlikely this will happen. Missing assets (equipment) was also another of the findings. The Superintendent's gifting of public funds in the form of the gift certificates she gave out at the retirement money is money lost (this from the Attorney General's off

My E-Mail to the Board

Update: Well, look at that, on the News and Calendar page, an item about the upcoming meetings. Except that just looking at the brief paragraph, you might think there is no meeting until Nov. 4 and none after November. They don't have to list everything (that's in a link to the news release) but at least put ALL the dates down). Better late than never I guess. Dear Directors, The district has just announced public meetings around the NSAP and the transition plan. I posted them at the Save Seattle School blog. One of the drop-in meetings is THIS Friday . And yet is the meeting schedule on the district home page? NO. In the News and Calendar page? NO. What the hell do we pay all these people downtown for? Communications? IT? And this is what passes for so-called public engagement? Don't you dare allow the Superintendent and her minions to say they are doing true public engagement. This is nonsense and you know it. I'm not trying to be disrespe

South Lake Counselor Receives Award

From the Rainier Valley Post : Last week, South Lake High School counselor Carol Johnson was honored in a surprise school-wide rally with the “Champion for Youth Award” from Atlantic Street Center, a private nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Seattle’s kids and families thrive. It feels like she works every waking moment trying to better the lives of the people she comes into contact with,” notes Ralph Fragale , Atlantic Street Center’s counseling department program manager. Fragale routinely works with Johnson to provide students and their families with the resources available through Atlantic Street Center’s programs. South Lake is a small re-entry high school near RBHS (and adjoining South Shore K-8). It's good to know there are fine staff at every school including those reaching youth who need extra help and guidance.

Election. Ballot. Vote. MAIL IT IN.

Uh kids, King County elections is reporting that for Seattle, just a shade under 20% of you have returned your ballots. For the entire county, it's just over 20%. Let's get with the system and get this done.

Heads Up Parents

I have written about this before but now there is a reason to return to this topic of teen drinking. As you may have heard, there was an incident over at Central Washington U at a house party where a dozen young people, mostlly women, passed out and were taken to a hospital. Initially the thought was that they had been slipped a roofie (date-rape drug) but they weren't. So what was it? It was a type of energy drink called Four Loko. I don't know how this name came about but according to CBS news it has 4 times the caffeine of a soda and 4 times the alcohol level of a beer. So typically, if you are drinking too much, you may get drowsy before you pass out but this thing takes you from zero to sixty and that's why so many of these women just dropped. The University has banned them from campus and now there's a call for them to be banned by the FDA. Both the Governor and state Attorney General Rob McKenna want to ban alcoholic energy drinks. From the Seattle T

Want to Challenge MAP?

There seems to be a growing unhappiness around MAP. The Superintendent has indicated some thought to tweaking it - maybe an organized movement would help. I have heard from one parent that their school is thinking of petitioning to not have K-2 students take it (based on complaints from both teachers and parents). I am happy to link up parents if you want to send me an e-mail at

Support Family Support Workers

I'm in a mad dash out the door so we can have a longer, more informed discussion on this topic of Family Support Workers versus School Counselors. But over at the Stranger Slog the topic has come up because of the upcoming Families and Education levy next fall. Please, if you do have an informed opinion, please write in at the Slog and/or let the City know what you think. This is the City's money and not the district's. I think this is a good place where parents, as City voters, get to weigh in heavily.

Apparently a Cheerful LIttle Earful

From our friends over at West Seattle Blog, a review of the coffee chat last night with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. The number of community members who attended was almost matched by the number of district staffers on hand, but those who came brought up some challenging issues – primarily class size and closed schools. Here's a great line: Most of the discussion centered on elementary-level class sizes; if classes hold 28 or more, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said, it’s up to the school’s principal to work with teachers and find solutions. So get busy principals. Anyone attend?

Food for Thought - News Roundup

Lots of interesting news stories out there, here are some of them. Singapore Math on the front page of the NY Times. Guess what? It's what they use at the school Obama's daughters attend. Singapore math may well be a fad, too, but supporters say it seems to address one of the difficulties in teaching math: all children learn differently. In contrast to the most common math programs in the United States, Singapore math devotes more time to fewer topics, to ensure that children master the material through detailed instruction, questions, problem solving, and visual and hands-on aids like blocks, cards and bar charts. Singapore math’s added appeal is that it has largely skirted the math wars of recent decades over whether to teach traditional math or reform math. Indeed, Singapore math has often been described by educators and parents as a more balanced approach between the two, melding old-fashioned algorithms with visual representations and critical thinking.

District Meetings on NSAP

Update: the district did final put out a press release . The Regional Meetings are: NW - Thursday, November 4th from 6:30-8 p.m. at Ballard HS SE - Monday, November 8th from 6:30-8 p.m. at Rainier Beach HS NE - Wednesday, November 10th from 6:30-8 p.m. at Roosevelt HS Central - Monday, November 15th from 6:30-8 p.m. at Garfield HS West Seattle - Tuesday, November 16th from 6:30-8 p.m. at West Seattle HS No child care but there will be books and drawing materials provided. All Regional Meetings will be led by the Executive Director of that region. Drop-in Sessions Friday, October 29 from 3-5 p.m. at JSCEE, Room 2700 Saturday, November 6th from 10 a.m. to noon, JSCEE Auditorium Thursday, November 18th from 1:30 -3:30 p.m., JSCEE, Room 2700 Tuesday, December 14th from 6-8 p.m. at JSCEE, Room 2750 Board Work Sessions Wednesday, October 26th from 4-8 p.m. in JSCEE Auditorium (note: this Work Session also includes graduation topics) Wednesday, November 3rd from 4-5:30 p.m. at JSCE

Oh Those Kidders at the Stranger!

Checking out one of my favorite blogs, the Stranger Slog, I saw this under the heading, "Get Your Ass off the Couch" Seattle Public Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson hosts a Community Coffee Chat . Ask her if we got our school levy endorsement right. (West Seattle Elementary, 6760 34th Ave. S.W., 6 to 7 p.m., free) Those kids at The Stranger, love 'em but they need to get a clue (or two). It's a tough choice: Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, a bunch of charter guys at MOHAI or the Cowboys versus the Giants (ignore this one if you have no idea what sport I am talking about). Thank goodness for Tivo.

Yay for Ballard High!

From the My Ballard blog: Congratulations to Ballard High School students in the Video Production Program for winning the 34th Annual Young People’s Film & Video Festival. More than 150 entries were submitted from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Alaska. Among the 16 chosen were: the short dramas Reflection (by Sheridan Koehler & Blair Scott) and Signs (by Rikke Heinecke, Lizzy O’Laughlin & Tony Meyer) as well as the documentaries Bar Ink (by Robyn Cochrane, Spencer Miller, Georgia Peck & Justin Smith-Mercado) and Henry (by Amelia Elizalde, Levi Friedman, Sean Hendricks & Sheridan Koehler). Ballard's video production by its students just gets stronger and stronger. Great!

LEV Event at MOHAI Monday Evening

I hadn't posted about this before because,well, it fell off my radar at one point. But I'm going and while I'm pretty sure what I'll hear - a love fest for charters - I want to go and listen. Here's the info: On Monday, October 25 at 6 p.m., LEV will be hosting a panel discussion at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) . There are three speakers on the panel: Richard Barth, CEO of KIPP Foundation, Timothy Daly, President of The New Teacher Project, and Steve Barr, Founder of Green Dot Public Schools. The discussion will be moderated by Adam Porsch of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Who are these guys? Richard Barth runs KIPP (a charter system, Knowledge is Power Program. He is married to Wendy Kopp who runs and started Teach for America. There are 99 schools in 20 states. KIPP is considered one of the better charter school systems although it is a more difficult model in that the schools start early and run late and have a longer school y

Common Core Standards - Time Sensitive

From Concerned Teacher: The last OSPI Public Forum on the Common Core Standards and SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is being held tomorrow night (Monday)18560 1st Avenue NE, in Shoreline. The forum will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Mount Rainier Room at Shoreline Center. OSPI is also seeking public input at the forums and through an online survey (available to take until Oct 31 ) because it is required to deliver a detailed report on the common core standards in January 2011 to the state Legislature. Formal adoption and implementation of the new standards may not occur until after the 2011 legislative session, which will provide an opportunity for legislative review. The forum will include information on how the new common core K-12 standards for English language arts and mathematics were created and how they build toward college and career readiness. In addition, the forum will contain information about: * The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consor

High School Credit for Middle School classes

Once again I hear people asking "Why would a student want to get high school credit for classes taken in middle school?" This may not surprise you, but you're not going to get a good answer to this question from someone who isn't interested in it or who thinks it ranges from pointless to being a bad idea. Yet that's who have been answering that question of late. So, rather than their explanation, to graduate high school early, let me instead offer some better reasons. 1) Lighter course load when taking challenging classes. A high performing student might take as many as three or four AP classes as a senior. These classes are challenging and demanding classes. Wouldn't it be nice to have the option to not take two other classes at the same time so the student can devote more time to the AP classes? 2) Credit for work done. If you have ever told your child that going to school is his or her job, then credit is their pay for that job. If someone does the

Parent Info about Orchestra Situation in SPS

When I attended a Regional Meeting earlier this fall, I met Keith Bowen and some other parents. They are parents who are concerned about orchestra offerings the follow-thru from middle to high school music especially around the orchestra offerings. I talked with them after the meeting and Keith sent me this article about their concerns which I want to share with you. (I edited this article for length.) If you would like to reach him to join his group or offer ideas, his e-mail is The new Student Assignment Plan (SAP) changes the demographics of who is assigned to which school. However, specialized programs are still in place at these same locations but now the students are distributed without regard to their interests or merit. Parents, teachers and local administrators predicted the oncoming situation and how it would affect a prized resource of music education. They predicted that existing programs would come dangerously close to not having enough parti

Levy Info and FAQs

Okay, here in one place (but if I missed something please let us know): information about both sides of the Seattle Schools Supplemental Levy. Schools First - the levy support group Committee for Responsible Education Spending - the group challenging the levy Facebook page for Teachers Against the Levy Facebook page for No on the Supplemental Levy CRES page with links to: official resolution, explanatory statement for Voter's Guide, teachers contract and levy, and endorsements There are 11 days until the election. You have your ballot. Sadly (and I think this hurts everyone) the levy is the last item on the back side of the ballot after judgeships. I have no idea how this bodes for either side as my experience is that many people don't vote for judges because they have no idea who to vote for. So look for a huge drop-off of votes for the levy which means every vote counts. Seriously. What can you do? Well, vote of course. Also, follow the directions . I can&

Go See This!

Race to Nowhere Tuesday, 10/26 6:30 Film; 8:00 Community Discussion @ Nova 300 20th Ave E, 98112 tix at: This film shines a light on the high-stakes testing that has replaced meaningful teaching and learning. Race to Nowhere has been featured on CNN, Oprah and last week the Washington Post said “the film is playing as a quiet counterpoint to the better-known Waiting for Superman."

Open Thread Friday

Director Meetings this Saturday: just one. Director Martin-Morris from 9:30-11:30 am at Diva Espresso, 80th and Lake City Way NE). The Superintendent has another Coffee Chat on Monday the 25th at West Seattle Elementary, 6760 34th Ave SW from 6-7 p.m. Have Coffee Chats been in your parent newsletter or on your school's website? There is also a Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee Board Meeting from 4-6 p.m on Monday.

Wondering about 1098?

The LEV blog had an excellent article by Hannah Lidman about what I-0198 will do for education. She answers these questions: “What exactly does ‘education’ mean within the context of I-1098? Where would the money go exactly? Does it only go to K-12 and higher ed or does it cover early learning too? I learned that I-728 is known to Washington state government as the "student achievement fund." And she has a put a listing of what I-728 money can be used for (it seems like a lot of things and that's probably why so little seems to have gone to actually reducing class size).

New Website for Scholarship Money for WA State Students

This helpful article was in the Seattle Times. A new website run by a public/private partnership of nonprofits and the state's Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) aims to help Washington scholarship-givers and scholarship-seekers find one another. The service is free. The scholarship clearinghouse, , works like an online-matchmaking service such as eHarmony, said Mary Beth Lambert, spokeswoman for the Washington Scholarship Coalition. But instead of finding you a date, it finds you money for college. The Washington Scholarship Association only allows registered nonprofits to list scholarships on the site, and interviews the nonprofit to make sure the scholarship is legitimate, Lambert said. You log in and set up a profile so that your student's info will be matched with scholarships and you get an e-mail. They also give reminders as the deadlines loom. Also, it's not just for high school students but student already in college, both you