Friday, October 08, 2010

Open Thread Friday

Anyone go to the first of the Superintendent's coffee chats last night? The next one is Tuesday, the 12th from 8:10 - 9:10 am at Jane Addams. (I admit a bit of a pause in attending as it is stated that the meetings are for "parents, grandparents and caregivers of Seattle Schools students. I have no student. I'd like to think the community can come as well if only to listen.)

Tomorrow's School Board Director's Community Meetings:
  • Director Carr at the Greenwood Neighborhood Service Center from 8:30 am-10 am
  • Director Sundquist at High Point Library from 11 am-12:30 pm
  • Director Maier at Bethany Community Church from 10:30 am-noon
I'm sure you can come up with plenty of things to ask them but you could ask:
  • Why Teach for America? Explain why you think this is good for the district and what that belief is based on. Where are the funds to pay the TFA Foundation fees for these teachers?
  • What is being cut/reduced by having to pay back $1.2 M from the General Fund to the Capital Fund because of improper use of capital funds for the Small Business works?
  • Do you support AME Church buying the MLK, Jr. property given that its offer is less than half the money of the Bush School offer AND the proposal for youth programs has no partnerships and no specifics?
  • Did you read the book given to you that Director DeBell referenced at the Board meeting, Diane Ravitch's The Death and Life of the Great American School System?


Lori said...

Hmm, so they changed the time for the Jane Addams coffee chat? I've had penciled in on my calender for 9AM for weeks now.

There is also a thread on this blog dated 9/12 that stated that the 810AM start time is an error, and 9AM is correct.

Anyone know for sure? The only info I found on the SPS website just now is the press release, which says it's at 8:10AM.

If true, then I can't go as I have a child to get ready for school at that time....

Charlie Mas said...

Here are some more suggestions for questions:

Director Sundquist, the October 1 enrollment shows over 1,700 students in the attendance area schools in the Madison Service Area where the total functional capacity of the schools is about 1,500. Pathfinder is also full. Is there any way that the capacity management report due this winter can fail to reflect the need for additional elementary capcity in the Madison service area, and is there any way that the District could fail to take action to expand capacity in this area - where the District has recently closed two school buildings?

The Board is now making a list of their budget priorities for the next school year. Where on that list of budget priorities will I find early and effective interventions for struggling students? What other spending do we have which is more dire or more urgent than this?

The Board is now making a list of their budget priorities for the next school year. Where on that list of budget priorities will I find funding to make the inclusion model of special education work? What spending has a higher priority than this?

Board policy (C42.00) calls for evaluations of our educational programs to determine their effectiveness. Where is the annual report that shows the effectiveness of the Spectrum program? Why haven't I ever seen any of these reports?

We have been hearing about accountability for over three years now. Can you name three actual examples of it?

I understand that the school performance framework was based on the model used in the Southeast Education Initiative for accountability. Was the Southeast Education Initiative a model of accountability that we want to duplicate district-wide?

Anonymous said...

Parents at our elementary have realized that MAP testing causes kids to lose 9 weeks of library use during the school year, and apparently have approached the principal to discuss alternatives. Are any schools doing MAP testing in other locations besides the library, and/or using proctors other than the librarian?

Charlie Mas said...

Here's some more:

The audit - and the Board's response to the audit - makes it clear that the Board has completely abdicated their responsibility to oversee the management of the District. While I'm pleased that the Board has decided to start providing some oversight, I find it hard to trust the people who botched the job for the past couple years to do start doing it right. Why don't you have someone from outside the Board helping you to see the duty that you had earlier refused to acknowledge?

KG said...

PBS aired a story on homeless students. I know that some homeless students in the school where I teach have had difficulty enrolling -- being asked to provide documents, etc, contrary to the McKinney-Vento Act.

Here is the story's URL:


ARB said...

Hello, All,
Next Wednesday, October 13, the Seattle School Board is holding a work session on special education from 4pm – 6pm.  It is open to public attendance, but not open to public participation.  The work session will be followed by the regularly scheduled public school board meeting from 6pm – 9pm.
Because the Work Session on Special Education is the day of the October 13th public meeting, I want to encourage all of you to consider signing up to give public testimony at this school board meeting.
If you have never given public testimony, click below to learn how it’s done:
·         They start taking sign-ups for public testimony on Monday of the week of the meeting at 8 am (in the case at hand, Monday, Oct 11th).
·         You call (206) 252-0400 or email boardagenda@seattleschools.org and give your name, telephone number, email address, and topic.
·         They have 20 speaking slots, each 3 minutes in length.
·         The spots fill up fast, so call or email as close to 8 am on Monday as possible!
·         Three minutes of testimony generally comes out to less than 500 words.  I recommend running through your testimony with a timer a couple of times.
If you think that things are going swimmingly with the provision of Special Education Services, you may not feel too compelled to sign up to give testimony (although I am sure the school board would like to hear the good news that is out there).  If you have concerns or stories about the provision of Special Education Services in Seattle Public Schools, please sign up to let your voice be heard. 

Melissa Westbrook said...

ARB, Director Martin-Morris has said there is no real policy on outside people not presenting at Work Sessions. Contact him and ask for 10 minutes to present whatever Special Ed info you think the Board needs to hear. Be the test case.

Lisa, from the little I have heard, other schools that have dedicated computer labs do it there. Of course, if you are in an older or crowded building, that space may not exist or is being used some other way. Let the Board know how much down time this is for the library (especially since City library times have been cut as well).

Jan said...

Ah Lisa -- yes, and 9 weeks is 25% of the entire school year. If someone had shown up at a school and announced that they were taking the library and the books to some other school for a quarter of the year -- but never mind, it's all for a good cause and you'll never miss it -- parents, teachers, and kids (I hope) would have been furious.

Dorothy Neville said...

At the grocery store a man stared at me, then he approached and asked, "Didn't you give a presentation last night at the League of Women Voters?" When I said yes, he replied, "That was excellent! Thank You!" He walked off and a woman asked, "Where did you give a presentation?" "League of Women Voters." "What about?" "One of the ballot measures. I am against the Seattle School Supplemental Levy because it supplements headquarters and hurts funding to schools." "Oh! Thanks for keeping us informed!"

TVW and King County TV filmed the ballot briefing at the LWV last night. When it is available, I will let you know. Then you can see for yourself what SchoolsFirst! and I each had to say.

Luz Villasana said...

My question to the Superintendent is why communications can't settle on a time! (If they can't get this right... you can just wonder what they'll do with all the $$ they haven't "allocated" under the levy proposal...)

I have two printouts with the different start times for morning coffee chats, 8:10am and 9:00am

The link at SPS's website under the Superintendent coffee chats says 8:10am. Melissa, I recall you phoned the office and so did I, and they reassured me at the time that the meeting would start at 9:00am.

owlhouse said...

Race to Nowhere film screening
Tuesday, 10/26, 6:30p
@ Nova, 300 20th Ave E, Sea. 98112

"Our high-pressure, high-stakes culture has invaded our schools and children’s lives, creating unhealthy, disengaged, unprepared and stressed-out youth. Educators, parents, and students are embracing Race to Nowhere, a new documentary that exposes the insidious silent epidemic in our education system. The film tells the stories of young people pushed to the brink, burned-out educators, and deeply frustrated parents."

We're looking forward to an active post-film discussion. Bring a teacher, parent, friend or policy maker (!) and come on out.


Read more about the film in yesterday's
Wash Post

Maureen said...

-Open Thread-

This NYT article made me sad: Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children. It says in part: Parents have begun pressing their kindergartners and first graders to leave the picture book behind and move on to more text-heavy chapter books. Publishers cite pressures from parents who are mindful of increasingly rigorous standardized testing in schools.

Dorothy Neville said...

At Wednesday's board meeting, they held a brief "public meeting" on the selling of construction bonds. They need to sell bonds to accelerate getting their capital levy money to pay for the newly opened schools. The only people to speak at the public meeting were Chris Jackins and Melissa Westbrook. Chris had clearly read the bond documents and had several points that were kinda scary about risk and oversight. One point raised eyebrows in that according to his reading, the bonds will be repaid using both OPERATIONS and Capital budgets.

Chris S. said...

We have set up a computer lab in a portable. It seems to work ok. The principal is a major proctor but the librarians are doing some.

Re: the coffee chat, the one that says 8:10 - 9:10 is for us, and the one that says 9:00 is for MGJ, har har.

I was a little ticked about the 9:00 start time since our school starts at 9:20, but I guess I can dump my kid on the playground at 8:55.

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

I was at the Coffee Chat at SBOC/Nova/Meany. Staff outnumbered parents. It's nice of the Superintendent to set these up and take Q&A, but it still felt more like a formal restatement of the district's plans than a 'chat'. I've had some mgmt training along these lines when I was at Microsoft -- works better when leaders don't just respond to questions, but also ask questions back to the audience to ensure they understand everyone's concerns. I think if more parents felt that their input would actually be sought, then more parents would show up to meetings like this. I wasn't sold on her response to my question about innovating in public schools in response to the PR from Waiting for Superman (which she hasn't seen), but I was happy to hear that they are working on resolving the Garfield Marine Bio issue that I listed as an example of where it appears they are working against innovation.

Anonymous said...

I went to one of the welcome meetings. I had a problem. The Supt agreed that it was a big problem. The Board intern took my email and promised to follow up. Dutifully, he asked somebody in Central Office, a keyholder, about my concern. He was told it is not really a concern. So, he told me it is really just my misunderstanding and lack of knowledge. He gave me the knowledge that he felt I was missing. I told him that I could produce a lot of documentation to contradict what he was told. I did not hear back from him. In my opinion the Supt should either decide that she is willing to deal with our concerns or not. This placeholder routine she and the intern have going is something else.

wsnorth said...

"Director Sundquist, the October 1 enrollment shows over 1,700 students in the attendance area schools in the Madison Service Area where the total functional capacity of the schools is about 1,500."

Capacity management is such a joke. Even the "functional capacity" of 1500 relied upon moldy, rusty, portables and 30 kids per classroom. A more reasonable functional capacity # would be more like 1200 students.

Dear Director Sundquist, please stop trying to help.

SickOfMAP said...

On the topic of MAP - I hate walking into our school library and seeing the new computers dominate it. Libraries are for books, IMO. I didn't opt my kids out of the beginning of the year MAP because I saw some valid instructional use, but I am wondering if there is any valid instructional reason for the second and third testings.

Megan Mc said...

Dave Horsey has a great cartoon in the PI about testing

Another great cartoon would be to have the books in the library all blocked off and have the librarian's shackled to the MAP computers.

Sahila said...

post these things far and wide... the only way to get this train stopped is to inform people.... and we dont have much time... seriously... I predict legislation will be passed to let charter schools into this state in the next six months...

seattle citizen said...

League of Reform the Voters, uh, of Education Voters has a...surface review of the Kevin Johnson "event" up on their blog. Check it out. Feel free to comment, it's good to have "many voices" in the form of various blogs, and theirs seems woefully unattended for such an important organization! They've banned me; they review comments before posting and haven't put up anything I've written since I adversely commented on the Kevin Johnson event.

Oh, and I had an opportunity, finally (I'd been very anxious to do this) to visit their Facebook page, and it's a hoot to go over there and see what's happening. Of particular interest are the photo albums (not much happening on any of the other tabs, particularly no very few comments or discussion...why discuss?

Here are a list of people from a couple of the albums:
Race to the Top Luncheon: Carole King, Partnership for Learning; Bill Gates Sr - Keynote speech; Lisa McFarlane, cofounder LEV; Andrew Miller, TAF teacher; Thelma Jackson, president Washington Alliance of Black School Educators; Pat Irwin, Principal Lincoln High in Tacoma; Randy Dorn, Superintendent of Washington schools; Judy Hartman, Governers K-12 ed advisor; Shannon Campion, Executive Director Stand for Children

Another album (Legislative Session 2010) has pictures of our Rueven Carlyle, Deborah Parsons
Alison Meryweather, Pat Sullivan, Marcia Maxwell, Ruth Lipscomb, George Scarola, Corinne Patten, Marcie Maxwell, Chad Magendanz, Anne Aboularage Moore, Suzanne Garber Weaver, Jody Rae Mason Mull, Deb Blakeslee, Chad Magendanz, Dawn McCravey

Another album, Kathi Haycok Town Hall, has numerous state legislators. LEV is evidently really working the politics, even if they have no one involved in discussion on their blog or their facebook page...

One photo from the Haycock Town Hall appearance is captioned: Kelly Munn, Statewide Field Director for LEV, talks about what's next for the education reform movement in Washington State."

Look out! LEV is workin' The Movement!

As per Word Verifier, all this politickin' without no conversation (censor comments on a LEV blog that has few comments...) is starting to irkimi

seattle citizen said...

Hey everybody, don't forget to register for LEV's October 25th event, with a panel of expert Charter School marketers!

"The League of Education Voters, along with the City of Seattle and a host of generous sponsors [see list below], is organizing a free speaker series called Voices from the Education Revolution. Join us as these nationally recognized speakers share their stories of the diverse challenges and opportunities that define the efforts to give ALL our kids the public education they deserve.

October 25th: What Works: Changing Our Schools
We want our public schools to be among the very best in the country. But to get there, we need to answer some tough questions: How do we close the achievement gap? How do we prevent students from dropping out of school? How do we prepare ALL kids for life after high school?
Join us for our second Voices from the Education Revolution Speaker Series event on October 25th for a thought-provoking discussion about strategies that are working to provide an outstanding education for every child.
Richard Barth joined KIPP in December of 2005. As president and CEO of the KIPP Foundation, Barth has overseen the growth of the network from 45 to 82 schools and has the network on track to its 5-year goal to double in size to 97 schools.
Timothy Daly is the President of The New Teacher Project. Since his appointment in 2007, he has helped lead the organization’s efforts to end educational inequality by aligning policies and systems to better support teach effectiveness.
Steve Barr founded Green Dot Public Schools in 1999 with the vision of transforming secondary education in California by creating a number of high-performing charter high schools using available public dollars. Under Steve’s leadership, Green Dot became the leading change agent in the region, starting in fall 2000 by founding one of the first comprehensive public high schools in the Los Angeles area in thirty years.


seattle said...

Both of my kids schools had curriculum nights last week. They are in middle and high school, so between both schools we met 12 teachers. I have to say that I thought ever single teacher that we met was top notch. Super. We were honored to have our kids in their classes, and grateful. My kids have occasionally had a teacher that we didn't think was great, but they were few and far between and definitely the exception. And they have never had what I would consider a "bad" teacher.

seattle citizen said...

So I wandered over to the SPS website's Labor Relations page, and beneath a picture of smiling superintendent, Alliance, LEV, Burgess and others, were a few celebratory statements dated 9/16. here is the rah-rah release on the Board approval, for your amusement (how IS it that these people get to gush over their insertion of the MAP test? Only Ramona Hattendorf, of the Seattle PTSA, celebrates collaboration and other aspects - she notably does NOT comment on the evaluation tests)

Those who attended the pre-release party were:
"Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson and Director Sundquist, Tim Burgess, Seattle City Councilmember; Estela Ortega, Executive Director, El Centro de la Raza; George Griffin III, 2010 Chair, Alliance for Education; Chris Korsmo, Executive Director, League of Education Voters; and Ramona Hattendorf, Seattle PTSA

All of them, except Ms. Hattendorf, were ga-ga over the "teacher accountability" and "teacher quality" aspect of the contract.

Here we see how A4E, LEV, OSC and local politicos are working with minority group representatives to drive "reform" into SPS.

We are far, far behind the eight ball on this, people - the machine is engaged, and come heck or high water these "reforms" are going to rammed down our throats. Note the recent insertion (and deletion) of TFA into the Board agenda.

Let's get organized and spread a bit more truth, the machine can be stopped (but with OSC smiling on the Labor Relations website, it's gonna be a tough, uphill battle.)

Dorothy Neville said...

SC, Ramona told me she supports the levy and all the new spending because she supports the evaluation process and sees the new accountability measures will improve things, make it easier to get rid of teachers that are ineffective.

I did point out that if she thinks that, that's fine. We can disagree and know what we are disagreeing about. However, the SCPTSA is supporting the levy because it will restore cuts. Now most parents think about that as restoring librarian hours, smaller class sizes, restoring staffing ratios for ELL and Special Ed. When they find out that this new program will HURT funding for all that, well then what are they going to think of SCPTSA in the future?

seattle citizen said...

The point I was trying to make with my amazement over the district's labor relations webpage is that it appears that the district is CELEBRATING its close collaboration with LEV, A4E, minority groups, the business community and Tim Burgess (as a whole, OSC)
I'm concerned that a district, which crows about its concern that labor negotiations remain closed to the public (remember how the board directors, in public meetings, etc, would say, "oh, no, I can't talk about contract negotiations! Those are between admin and labor! Closed closed closed!"?) is blatantly open to a few influential groups/people inserting their agendas into contract negotiations.
It's not ethical, and it makes me shudder.
Furthermore, these groups are claimed to be "community groups" when they are anything but. LEV, the prime player here it seems, has virtually NO comments on it's blog, NO comments on its Facebook page...They are JUST a political tool of the Gates/Broad/Duncan/Burgess crowd. They are NOT community.

So how is it that someone downtown thought it would be a good idea to post a picture of this gang at the very top of the Labor Relations page, followed by statements from them all extolling ONLY the evaluation piece of the new contract?

One would think that their collusion in undermining democracy and ethical labor negotiations would best be kept under wraps, but they're CROWING about it!

It's disgusting. Public education in Seattle is being blatantly manipulated by people who do NOT represent the community, have a far-reaching agenda comprised of bad pedagogy, and they're crowing about it!

Where's the Times? Where is the Stranger? Where's Crosscut?

Won't some please please please file an ethics complaint...

I think it's time to leaflet the city, fliers on every telephone pole, organized protest at JSCEE....anything!

Unless we want to see our pubic schools completely destroyed: They're half-way there, and rapidly deploying their endgame.

Arnold said...

Seattle Citizen- Have you thought about running for SPS Board of Directors? We can complain all we want, but that won't help. We need votes to block reform agenda. Anyone else?

seattle citizen said...

Arnold, good point. I can't run, but would support candidates who are anti-reform as much as I possibly can.

StepJ said...

I have an e-mail from Phil Brockman (NE Ed. Director) that the NE Supt. coffee is from 9 - 10 am.

Lori said...

thank you, StepJ! See you there?

StepJ said...

No. :-( Pre-school obligation.

Sahila said...

national day of action (first in a series):

Education Communication Day

StepJ said...

*scream* Per Communications the NE Supt. Coffee is back to 8:10 - 9:10 am.

However, the meeting time may be extended because of the time changes, inconsistent communication, ...

Sahila said...

from a discussion elsewhere on the value of standardised testing, and homework....


Lori said...

StepJ, I hear you! Seriously, how hard is it to pick a time and go with it? This is crazy. I'm ready to just give up on the whole thing. I have a busy work week but wanted to carve out 60 minutes or so for this, but now what? I'm going to arrive at 8AM for a meeting that might possibly start at 9AM instead? Or, if I arrive at 9, I will have missed half of it?

Absurd. This is not community engagement.