Friday, January 14, 2011

Open Thread Friday

It felt like a long week to me; you?

Here's one funny item about a dad who didn't like a 4 am robo call from his district about a snow day. Beware of people who have 5 kids and don't like getting a call that early.

He found a robocall company online, taped a message and listed every phone number he could find for nine school-board members (sparing the student member), Prince George's County Public Schools Superintendent William Hite and General Counsel Roger Thomas.


LG said...

Mark your calendars for this program on the Seattle Channel - multiple ways to participate (below).

Seattle Speaks: How Are Seattle Public Schools Doing?

Are Seattle Public Schools doing well or is it time for more reform? After four years of the district’s strategic plan, are we seeing any results? Are current resources being used wisely? Should there be a new way to measure student and teacher success? What do you think? Join the conversation! On Thursday, February 10th, 7:00 p.m., SEATTLE CHANNEL host C.R. Douglas will lead a live televised discussion “in the round” with Seattle Public Schools’ Supertintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson and other leaders from the school district, parents, teachers, students and YOU.

THE FORMAT: Using cutting edge technology both the studio and online audience will participate in real-time conversation using people meters, testimonials, Twitter and Facebook. Attend the free multi-media event on Seattle Public Schools in person, Thursday, February 10, 7:00 p.m. at Seattle’s Town Hall or watch live on Cable 21 and right here on http://www.seattlechannel.org/.
TICKETS ARE FREE! But registration is required: visit http://www.seattlecityclub.org/ or call 206-682-7395 for your free tickets.

The above text is from:

Charlie Mas said...

Thanks for the notice, LG.

I have registered for the event.

More than that, I'm going to contact the organizers and ask them if there is space on the panel for someone from outside the institution (I'm thinking either me or Mel).

Anonymous said...

What a concept! A true roundtable instead of the usual semi-circle...


Melissa Westbrook said...

I already did an interview with C.R. Douglas for the pre-story before the forum. I does want Charlie and I to be there because they will be taking questions from the audience.

This could be very interesting.

Joan NE said...

Mayor Daley proposes emergency income tax SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — “...This is a temporary income tax to deal with the immediate fiscal emergency our state faces; to pay the bills so we don’t have severe cutbacks in education, health care, public safety, important things that are absolutely vital to the lives of the citizens,” Quinn added. [...]


For Washington, what about a very modest emergency gross business revenue tax?

A mere $5 per $1000 of (annual) GBR would sufficient to close the estimated $5 billion bienniel revenue shortfall, provided that the GBR is uniformly, universally applied within the state.

Consider a Mom&Pop business that brings in $100K gross revenue annual. The emergency GBR bill for this business would be $500/yr over the next two years, and zero after that (though there may be a neeed for a new emergency GBR in the next biennium).

Is this so burdensome? Would this emergency tax cause the business to fail?

I think not.

"Why a GBR instead of an income tax?"

Compared to an income tax, a GBR is very easy and cheap to administer.

"But GBR's are regressive."

I'm not sure I agree, but even if it is, so what? This is a state fiscal emergency, and this is a very modest tax. It's only 0.5%, for goodness sake! The sales tax at ~20x this rate is regressive, but still citizens accept it.

Taking this proposal a step further:

How about a STATE LAW that says that revenue shortfalls will be met by emergency GBR tax?

Then we won't face painful cuts in education and other critical service areas. There is much suffering that will be avoided if every year we can be sure that the state-legislature-approved budget every year. If I were a legislator negotiating the state budget, I would be pleased to know that whatever budget we arrive will be fully funded, no matter what.

As Gregiore has said, the state budget represents our values as a collective citizenry.

I am interested to know if you think this is a stupid idea.

Anonymous said...

Architecture 101 classes for students will be offered on MLK day, the day between semesters, January 28th, and mid-winter break.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

A Space Station

We will be learning how the astronauts go about their daily lives and then take our turn at developing a more comfortable environment that would still function for the astronauts who confront a small amount of livable space in a world of weightlessness.

January 28th, Day Off Between Semesters:

A Space Station
This session will include a tour of the interior renovation of King Street Station lead by the senior project manager of Sellen Construction.

Mid-Winter Break

Town Planning: Grades 3 through 8
Urban Infill: High School Students

hschinske said...

Are Seattle Public Schools doing well or is it time for more reform?

Is this "reform" in the old-fashioned sense of the word, or is it "reform" as in the ed reform movement? Because if it's the latter, then this is awfully heads-I-win, tails-you-lose.

Helen Schinske

Jamie said...

From KUOW this morning, 3 SPS schools are eligible for Federal Grants - AS1, Rainier Beach, and Chief Sealth. Seems like the district will not apply for Sealth to get the grant, since the criteria would interrupt the implementation of IB, etc. Story is here: http://kuow.org/program.php?id=22356

Charlie Mas said...

This morning I spoke with Jessica Jones at CityClub. She addressed my concerns and gave me a lot of confidence about this event.

It will not be the standard structure in which the four members of the panel will answer questions from the audience. I was very concerned that they were all "inside" voices and boosters. I wanted to know where the critical voices would be. It will be a lot more interactive than that. There will be a lot more opportunity for answers to come from audience members. A number of folks, including Mel, will be in the front row for ready reference.

Yes, the Ed Reform crowd will the there (Washington Policy Center, Alliance for Education, Gates Foundation, Seattle Foundation, etc.) but I asked and they will also have other voices as well. I asked about a couple of names and I will contact her again with a few more. In particular, I wanted to be sure that there are folks there who can speak knowledgeably about Special Education and Rainier Beach High School.

Who else should be available? Dan Dempsey? Sahila Changebringer? Dora Taylor? Campana Quetzal? Seattle Shadow School Board? Stephanie Bower from the APP Parent Advisory Committee?

Let's do what we can to encourage folks to attend, tune in, or participate online. Let's get our voices out there.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a Seattle Times article about the schools that made the federal list of low performing schools.

SeattleSped said...

Charlie, we need Seattle Sped PTSA/SEAAC there.

Lori said...

Joan, they already passed a 2-year temporary increase in the B&O tax for service businesses in May 2010. It was a 0.3% increase, I believe. It expires July 2013.

I agree that something must be done on the revenue side, but I don't agree that one sector needs to bear the brunt of it simply because it's logistically easy.

The B&O is outrageous because it taxes gross income. If you run a small business with a lot of overhead, this is particularly problematic. It essentially puts a tax on money that is not in your pocket.

That said, it's consistent with our entire tax structure out here though. We're taxed on the value of our home, not on what we paid for it or what we can afford. We're taxed on gross business revenue, not profit. As a strong supporter of 1098, I wish we could create a more sane tax structure in which tax burden is shared by everyone, according to ability to pay. I'd be happy to pay an income tax on my actual income, but I hate paying the B&O on money that I didn't really make because it was used to keep my (very small) business running, while local millionaires, who probably make more in one month than I make in year, pay nothing.

Bird said...

There was a meeting at Lincoln last night about the international school at McDonald. My Wallingford had a pretty good report about it.

Word at the meeting was that the plan currently is to offer Japanese and Spanish to Kindergarten and first graders at the school starting next fall.

There were questions as to how this would be funded given the budget constaints. The answer was that the school would get less money than would normally be offered for such a start-up (Kodama said that was $100,000 in the past), but that there will probably be some funds available.

I went to the meeting. One of the staff helping at the meeting was JSIS's principal intern. Anyone know how many such interns there are out there?

I atteneded a meeting where MGJ also had an intern in attendance.

Any idea how much are we spending on interns these days or how they might be funded?

klh said...

Joan, I'm with Lori in thinking that additional B&O tax is not the way to go. As she said, it's a tax on gross revenues as opposed to profits. Many small businesses (the one I work for included) are not making any profit. They may bring in $100K in revenues in a year, but are having to pay more than that to keep the doors open, pay employees, and try to keep everyone in health insurance. When you're already losing money, having to pay even a small additional tax could be enough to shut you down or lay someone off.

dj said...

Bird, is there any sense of the parental enthusiasm for MacDonald? (I.e., whether or not the neighborhood will fill the kindergarten class next year?) I am wondering if, as someone who isn't in an immersion school neighborhood if there is any chance of getting my rising kindergarten student in there.

Bird said...


There were probably about 80-100 parents at the meeting. Some were current McDonald parents and some were prospective parents.

The latter part of the meeting was spent addressing current parents concerns. There were definitely some parents who had strong concerns about the immersion program. The district has jerked around these parents and as late as November they were seriously considering becoming a science focus school. The district had been telling these parents they would get to decide and then stepped it and said, nope, you're an international school.

That said, there was a show of hands of parents who wanted the international program vs. those who didn't. There was overwhelming support for the international program. I only saw one parent raise their hand that they didn't want it, and there were a couple of parents who voiced concern about what happens to kids who might not be able to join in the immersion program because of language development delays or other issues.

I got the impression that there might be one or two families that might not want their kids to conitnue on in such a program because of these sorts of concerns. So it might be worth trying to get into the school if you have a first grader.

It's hard to say what your chances might be with a Kindergartener.

There are quite a few incoming Kindees who are sibs of kids in JSIS but live in the McDonald area. I would expect some of those parents to try for JSIS. If they get in, there may be some excess compacity in McDonald.

I do think this year might be the best chance for parents outside of the attendance area to get their child into the immersion program, but that is pretty much speculation.

Dorothy Neville said...

Two pages to save, print, and share.

How many centrally funded jobs were cut last year? The number 85 is used a lot, but this data shows that the true answer might be something more like 19. (Question? Is it a fair open records request to ask for the names and/or job titles of everyone who was laid off? How else can one ask for proof of how many jobs were actually cut?)

This Alliance Fast Facts shows that they spent 9 million dollars, eleven percent on management and fundraising and that they are very open and proud of the fact that they don't just raise money for Seattle Public Schools but that they have a point of view, they clearly see their mission to influence policy. (Now many of us here know that already, but if you want to nudge someone, get them thinking about the bigger picture and is this a good influence, then sharing this might be just the thing.)

Lori said...

My husband just sent me this link via his RSS feed about taxes and priorities in WA state:

Infants vs Coal: You Decide

The post has an interesting link to a PDF with $4 billion in savings from various loopholes that many of us would probably agree should be closed.

So, yeah, back to increasing the B&O on small businesses... I think I'd rather close this coal loophole first! :-)

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have to say, given the Budget Work Session and the huge gap, the district has probably done the math and believes that a language immersion program would fill McDonald. If they didn't do their math correctly, it could cost us and frankly, we don't have extra money for this program.

I still go on record as believing this is deeply unfair with two neighborhood schools, not very far apart, both as foreign language immersion.

Kathy said...


I appreciate your enthusiasm. However, last November voters gave a resounding NO to taxation. It appears Wa. State voters prefer cheap candy to services.

Seattle generally votes YES on tax initiatives. However, this is not the case throughout the state. Seattle keeps thirty six cents of every tax dollar, and tax dollars get spread throughout the state.

Senator elect White suggested tax cuts will be made, voters will feel the pain.. then, perhaps some referendums can be passed.

Kathy said...

TIF and SIG grants total $18.5M.

Is it reasonable to ask the district to budget within grant allocation for controversial ed. reform initiatives?

Let's face it, these reforms are controversial.

Chris S. said...

Anna McCartney / Graham Hill - did you get a lot of books?

I collected a carload but couldn't contact you so have found a different elementary home for them - want to know if others have done he same. This other school seemed quite willing to take them off my hands - bet there is lots of need out there, as Anna said.

dan dempsey said...

And from LEV comes this .

This week's lesson is on class size and you can also find the legislative update for week 1.

MAPsucks said...

Here's an improvement:

SPS General Counsel will tighten up the Ethics Policy to preclude a district employee from garnering "indirect" benefits (not just financial interests); resume' padding, for example.

owlhouse said...

Nova has a literacy/literature event coming up on Jan 26. We're seeking books donations w/ multiple goals in mind. We'll collect, sort and share books with:
--Books to Prisoners
--Nova and SBOC students and families
--the Nova/SBOC library

Classics, paperbacks, dictionaries, comics, picture books, text books... books in all forms are welcome and can be dropped off at the Nova office during school hours.
300 20th Ave E, 98112

Charlie Mas said...

I went through my bookshelf and pulled out a box full of books that I had to admit I didn't need to own because I didn't think that I would ever read them (or read them again).

I brought the box to NOVA and they will be in the Book Exchange.

Some of them were pretty good. At least three were in there because I had multiple copies of a book.

Charlie Mas said...

The agenda for the upcoming Board meeting has been posted online and it includes the Board's and the Executives annual disclosure statements.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's disclosure statement has dropped the Broad Foundation and NWEA but it now shows the Alliance for Education and the Council of Great City Schools.

seattle citizen said...

Dan provided a link to the LEV blog, where we see that they have invited Wendy Kopp, head of Teach for America, to come speak March 2nd.

From LEV:
Voices from the Education Revolution Speaker Series

Wendy Kopp: An Excellent Education for All
The founder and chief executive of Teach for America will share her thoughts on what it will take to truly transform education – improving the academic and life trajectories of children.
Wednesday, March 2 at 6pm
MOHAI (Museum of History & Industry)
2700 24th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112-2099 (map)

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP"

Melissa Westbrook said...

So what if MGJ NOW has it on her disclosure form about CGCS and the Alliance. She hasn't for the past years she's been on there.

But let her off the hook, sure. This sets up a great precedent for any other superintendent.

Wendy Kopp. If they took questions, I'd go but if not, it would be tough to sit through. (Although if you wanted to see what I imagine a room full of Scientologists to look like, this is your event. I don't think TFA is that secretive but I do think it has some cult-like aspects.)

mirmac1 said...

We started a craze!

No Confidence in Rochester

Melissa Westbrook said...

Miramac, thanks for that. It was so interesting, I might have to start a thread.

from wallingford said...

dj -- I have heard of several parents with current K kids who live in the McDonald attendance area, but are either at a different public or private and are planning on switching back to McDonald for next year. So 1st grade could be very popular at McDonald next year.

It's funny because a lot of the current families I know at McDonald could care less about immersion. The ones who really wanted LI found a different option and aren't at McDonald.

LI is not a good fit for all kids, and dumping those kids off to BF Day is not good for anyone, BF Day included. They really need to have English tracks available at these schools for kids who cannot be served in a immersion setting.

Bird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird said...

They really need to have English tracks available at these schools for kids who cannot be served in a immersion setting.

Unfortunately, while there are always kids in any year who won't be well served by immersion, they number far less than would be required to fill an English language class.

The better solution would be for the international schools to be option schools. Then they would fill with families that really want those programs, not just with folks who really want their neighborhood school and will take immersion. Everyone would also then have a non-immersion neighborhood school.

Anonymous said...

The latest Battle for Seattle, Part 4 has been posted.