Open Thread Friday

Not sure what to make of this week. I get the feeling there is a lot more going on behind closed doors than we all may know.

Budget news to follow; there are no community meetings held by directors this Saturday. But here's one Saturday activity for budding authors by a young author:

Sarah Bowen, a 9th grader at Roosevelt High School, will be discussing her book 5 Winds, 5 Dreams: The Guarders of Peace at Mockingbird Books (7220 Woodlawn Ave NE) on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.

From Mockingbird Books:
This fantasy is a story about five orphans who meet at an academy where they are learning to become fairies and guardians. Before they have finished with their training, they are chosen to embark on a quest to retrieve a power diamond that is in the hands of the Dark Wind.
Join Sarah as she talks about how she got her idea for this book and the work it took to have it published.


Sahila said…
I've been busy challenging Michelle Rhee on her facebook page....

When Life Imitates Art

and reading this...
secret revolution

I so wish that people would wake up to what is really going on... in education and in the rest of the world...

we're being led/herded like lambs to the slaughter...
Lori said…
Interesting editorial from Joel Connelly in the PI today:

Boosting a levy 99% in a Great Recession: The Seattle Way

Basic point is that we have been promised for 2 decades that the levies we vote for will close the achievement gap, will make all students college- and career-ready, etc, but they haven't, so why is this one any different? How will throwing more money at the "problem" of education change student outcomes?
zb said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
zb said…
Thanks for passing on the info about the Roosevelt author! Annoying that it can't fit in our schedule.
lendlees said…
Lori- I read that article too. It was the first one I've seen that questions how much money doesn't make it into the classroom.
Anonymous said…
State level info (from Laurie Rogers' "Betrayed" blog):

SJR8212 and SB5522
These two bills eliminate the elected position at OSPI (the superintendent) and replace it with a position appointed by the governor.

Like Mayoral control on the state level...

If adopted, would allow Washington State to adopt the Common Core State Standards

-A parent
Thank you, Lori. Interesting comments:

A few minutes after laying out the proposal, Mayor McGinn was asked if he is upbeat about the current performance of the Seattle School District. "I don't think things are working right now," McGinn replied. (He did not give specifics of what isn't working.)

Well, I can tell him (and I can tell him charters won't fix it).

And Seattle's drop-out rate has held pretty steady (although it did drop below 30% in 2008). We do better than much of the country. But how come Everett and Tukwila are doing better?

I love that a researcher at the conservative Washington Policy Center had this to say:

"As a public policy researcher what I see is a lack of resources and support in the classroom, compared to the District's half-billion dollar annual budget," said Paul Guppy of the Washington Policy Center.

Guppy is pretty conservative, but the lack-of-support argument is one I hear constantly from line teachers."

FYI, "A public hearing will be held Thursday, Feb. 17th, at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers." This is for input on the Families and Education Levy. (Great time.)
suep. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said…
SPS to eliminate science classes for K-8?!!

Just got word of this. Details below:

Hello Teachers/Parents/Kids Who Care About Science!

There are some steps being taken by the Seattle Public Schools administration that are going to affect the science program in a negative way. These steps will have a negative effect on student learning in science. We have been told the following:

• Science is no longer part of the strategic plan for the Seattle School District
• Professional Development classes in science have been cut for elementary and middle school teachers for next school year. (That means that there will be no initial use classes for new teachers and no MSP classes. There will be no science classes at all for K-5 and MS teachers.)
• The program manager, Elaine Woo, will be displaced at the end of June. (She has brought approximately $18 million in grant funding into the school district over the past 15 years for science education.)
• A new program manager combining K-12 math and K-12 science will be sought.
• We don’t know if there will be any science coaches.
• We have been told that the science materials center will continue to operate and teachers will receive science kits.

At this time, when President Obama is calling for more effective science, math, and engineering education for U.S. students, so that they will be able to compete for jobs and so that the American economy will thrive, it seems short-sited to take science off of the strategic plan even though state and district budget cuts are severe.

If you know of parents and community members that would appreciate knowing about these issues, please forward this to them. The school board needs to hear from teachers and especially parents, that science education is valued and needed. These school board members need to be asked the hard questions: Why has science been removed from the strategic plan? Why is all science professional development for elementary and middle school teachers being cut for next school year? Where is the support for teachers of science?

There will be some “Neighborhood Chats/Meetings” of school board members in various districts around the city in the next couple of weeks. It will important for parents and teachers to attend and show support for science education. Please go to the following link to find the meeting closest to your school or home. Scroll down to the February Calendar.

• District II community meeting (Carr), Saturday, February 12, 8:30-10am @ Bethany Community Church in the Overflow CafĂ©, 8023 Green Lake Dr.

• District III community meeting (Martin-Morris), Saturday, February 12, 9:30-11:30am @ Diva’s Espresso, 8014 Lake City Way NE

• District I community meeting (Maier), Saturday, February 12, 10:30am-Noon @ Bethany Community Church, Sanctuary Building, Classroom A, 8023 Green Lake Dr, Seattle, WA

• District VI community meeting (Sundquist), Saturday, February 12, 11am-12:30pm @ High Point Library, 3411 SW Raymond St

• District IV community meeting (DeBell), Saturday, February 19, 9-11am, Caffe Appasionato, 4001 - 21st Ave. W. (next to Fisherman's Terminal)

• District VII community meeting (Patu), Saturday, February 26, 10am-noon, @ Tully’s Coffee, 4400 Rainier Avenue South (corner of Rainier and Genesee)

--sue p.
Sahila said…
meanwhile, in Shoreline, they're turning the district's only alternative school into a STEM programme....

WV = preop... preparation for what?
My Green Lake said…
A link back to your source, or at least a hat-tip, would be nice (again...). Thanks!
Central Mom said…
Sue, I think that science post is too simplistic. What I have seen from the board is some healthy skepticism that the science alignment, and NSF science kits, are the best way to do science in an engaging, effective way.

I see the removal from the strategic plan as a way to give this curriculum area some breathing room and re-examination instead of pouring money into the gaping maw of middle management. Esp. with funds at a premium for next year.
Central Mom said…
Another "lacking in knowledge and nuance" editorial at The Seattle Times: Teacher performance must be factored into teacher layoffs

Just once I wish they'd ask what an idea would look like at the operating level. In this case, it appears that statewide implementation would be a mess and open to a whale of a lot of litigation. Not to mention there is no funding to go with it.
Even if kids graduate from high school ready for college, will they be able to pay for it?

Rising tuition a threat to GET program
Several legislators say they are considering bills that would change the GET formula to control costs, possibly paying lesser benefits for families who purchase GET units in the future.

Bills would let colleges set tuition
Carlyle’s bill, introduced Tuesday as House Bill 1795, would give the boards of regents for The Evergreen State College and state universities the authority to set tuition rates for four years starting with the 2011 academic year.

Another bill, requested by the governor and introduced by Rep. Larry Seaquist, would allow the state universities and colleges to raise tuition starting in 2013 to make up for funding shortfalls in years when the state cannot appropriate enough money for higher education.

Under either bill, tuition rates would go up in coming years.

The fact that we ration higher education by ability to pay rather than by academic ability and that the majority of the "assistance" available is in the form of loans that leave new graduates deep in debt even before they start their working life is a disgrace.
ParentofThree said…
"SPS to eliminate science classes for K-8?!!"

We need additional info to put this into context.

"Parents received word..."
From who to who?

Where does it say that science classes are eliminated?

I read this as a cut at the district level and possible scaling back of the bloated stratigic plan.

We complain about coaches, then we are to complain when we see coaches cut?

Personally, before I pack off to any directors meeting I would like to have a better understanding of what this really means.
My Green Lake, this was forwarded to me from someone else (which is what happens frequently) and they did not attribute it. I assumed it came from the bookstore. My apologies.

Sue, I wish you had waited to post that. I receive it as well but since I do not know who wrote it or when he/she got this information, I was waiting for further confirmation. Please do not post items like that that give information that has not been verified.
My Green Lake said…
Thanks for the explanation - that happens to me sometimes as well.

And, thanks for providing such great info about SPS. As a parent, I really appreciate the work you do here!

Amy Duncan
My Green Lake
Elizabeth said…
Does anyone know how many SPS elementary schools have computer labs? If your school doesn't have one, where are your students taking the MAP test? We didn't want to give up library time for 6-9 weeks each year, so our students are crowded on the stage of our cafeteria. I don't think most of our parents are that interested in a computer lab (just more screen time), but it is a huge burden to administer and take the MAP test without one. I'm not sure if its the District provided laptops or if its the software, but the K/1 test was really problematic — missing test questions, missing answers, and needed to be rebooted at times. The K/1s are exactly the group that doesn't need a test with issues. It is very concerning to me that the District would use this test to measure teachers, schools, or even students (though I think teachers have other ways of knowing if the MAP test is an accurate picture of a student - but what a waste of time) with such varied testing environments.
mirmac1 said…
Hold it now. Most of us posters do not put ourselves forth as journalists. We don't have to cite or verify sources (not to say that true-blue journalists that actually get PAID, even do that). Blogs get information out, period. It is, like everything else in life, buyer beware.
Mirma, this blog is what Charlie and I do and yes, we can set parameters about what we want to put out. I could just easily eliminate that post but I didn't. I asked that before people put out something with no name attached, that they find out where it came from. Sue has a blog and so I would expect her to be more careful in what she posts.

If not, then I will start deleting posts like that. We're not running a rumor mill here.
mirmac1 said…
Okay, then we should never, ever link to Seattle Times articles.
mirmac1 said…
And, actually, I recall Charlie getting reamed on a certain Eckstein Music program discussion. He did not back down and I did, and will continue to, defend him putting that issue out there for intelligent people to decide for themselves. Nobody's crying fire in a crowded movie theater here. And with the degree the district fights to keeps things hidden (they are just aching for a public records act lawsuit), sometimes all we have to go on is "rumor". I would be the first to say that, oh a year or so ago, I would think Sahila could not possible be right in her accusations regarding the Broad influence. Now, it is common knowledge among many of us. So, I feel that free, if incorrect, speech should be encouraged, not stifled. If we want to read the district's party line, there's always School Beat.
ballardmom said…
Is there any update re pushing back MS/HS start times to align w/the new proposed Transportation plan - do we kn ow which schools it will affect? I cant find this on the website. Also, is there ANY chance we could ever successfully advocate to push these MS/HS start times later? Kids taking the bus need to BE AT THE BUS by 7:20-ish, because of the be-there-for-BF rule. I guess it varies based on yr bus service but its brutally early, when you factor in walking to the bus. Is this in line with other districts' start times? Have Seattle HS/MS start times always been this early? Is advocating for a later start time a waste of time? Thnx for yr feedback.
Joan NE said…
Here is the legislative hotline #. You can give any message to your legislators, and you don't even need to know your legislator's name to do it- the folks in Olympia will use your zip code to get the message. You can say something as simple as "Vote No on HB1443"

Takes less than 120 seconds.


It's toll free!
Maureen said…
A friend who works for the city asked me to distribute this survey notification as best I can, so here it is. It is from the Alliance for Education. I haven't taken it yet myself. It is due by February 18th.

Dear community partners:

The Alliance for Education and Seattle Public Schools have started a process to seek public feedback on school and community partnerships.

Our goal is to use your input to inform the planning process for developing a model for Intensive School and Community Partnerships across our school district. This process includes:

1. 12 Focus Groups (including school and district staff, community based organizations, students, and families) – started in December 2010

2. Online Survey (attached below) – February 2011

3. Phone Survey – late February 2011

Attached are links to the online surveys:

Survey for Adults Only (i.e., parents, school staff, community partners)

Survey for Students Only

Please complete the surveys and/or email the links to your associates, community partners, and students.

All survey responses are due no later than Friday, February 18th!

We hope to get a broad representation of the Seattle Public Schools district community. The surveys should take no more than 15 – 20 minutes. Please be aware there may be some duplication in this email message, as it will be sent to numerous partners.

We will build this framework for partnership over the course of this school year. We will emphasize, during this process, clarity regarding access to student data, engagement with SPS and schools, access to community resources, assurance of performance accountability, and alignment with academic growth and student outcomes. We’re also planning for a few school sites to embark on a more intensive partnership model by either building on existing work or by starting something new.

If you have questions, please contact Solynn McCurdy, Community Engagement Manager at the Alliance for Education, at 206-205-0329 or

We sincerely appreciate your support and commitment to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to be successful in college, career, and life.

Best regards,


Solynn McCurdy

Community Engagement Manager

Alliance for Education
Anonymous said…
BallardMom, I completely agree with you. Busing to school via Metro is a completely different proposition than using a yellow school bus. You have to factor in the time to walk to the stop, often time to transfer ... and because lateness due to Metro is not excused you have to err on the early side when you go to your stop by one full bus timepoint just in case. AND high school kids often have "zero hour" classes that require them to be at school an hour ahead of the published start time.
Anonymous said…
Elizabeth, our elementary school lacks a computer lab and solved the issue of having the library taken over by moving MAP testing to the stage in the lunchroom. There, the computers can be left out for the full three weeks they are needed. You may have seen my other post about how this displaced the music program -- but it did solve the library issue.
anonymous said…
"Is there any update re pushing back MS/HS start times to align w/the new proposal "

Hale has announced that their start times will stay the same next year. Not sure if they are getting a waiver, or what?
anonymous said…
For the record - I agree with mirimac. I like the idea of getting info out to the public, uncensored, even if at risk of sometimes getting it wrong. And yes sure Melissa, it is your blog, you can tell people that they can't post without a list of criteria or fact checking. But is that really how you want to run the blog? This isn't CNN or the NY Times, and we (posters) are not reporters. We're just parents and teachers sharing opinions and information with one another.
Anonymous said…
But Gernerally Speaking, and mirmac1-but just posting anything you want without a source or verification is what leads people to call bloggers "not real journalists" and to deny them press passes. "Real journalists", in addition to having some writing skills, also usually at least TRY to verify sources and contact those sources for comments.

Some on this blog believe otherwise-that "real journalists" are those that support certain points of view and to hell with truth and background. It's why blogs are rarely taken seriously by those in power-and they've got a point, Operating on rumor, inuendo and hysteria is best left the the tabloids.


WV has an actual word today: cities
Anonymous said…
Re: Science

The science classes being cut are those for teachers. So no teacher training for science or the NSF kits. The NSF kits will still be available, but new teachers will have no training with them.

Re: Transportation

Bell times should be posted some time next week according to Tom Bishop. They will not be flipping high school/elementary times, though there will be a third tier of elementary schools with an even later start and end time. There is no indication that high school start times will change.

SPS parent
anonymous said…
"just posting anything you want without a source or verification is what leads people to call bloggers "not real journalists"

That's exactly my point anonymouse. We (posters) are NOT real journalists. We are moms, dads, teachers, community members, sharing opinions and information. That's it. To expect us to fact check, research, quote sources, is a bit over kill, don't you think.

I'm not Barbara Walters, and I'm not getting paid to post here. I'm a busy mom taking the time to share information, in between my thousands of other errands and responsibilities, and I'd hope the blog administrators appreciate my contribution.

Now Melissa, as a blog administrator may hold herself to a higher standard, she may consider herself a journalist. That's all well and good, and that's admirable and appreciated.
mirmac1 said…
Is cutting science professional education for teachers any different than cutting it for students...if some profess that is one of THE important issues of the day?

If I wanted to read about John Edwards latest love-child, I'd read a tabloid (a rag that BTW deserves a Pulitzer). If I want the latest (including scuttlebut) about MGJ and her minions, I'll read a blog and then post my two cents.
mirmac1 said…
The latest from Shannon Champion!

Stand for Children - Week in Review

Great Schools Bills (HB 1609 and SB 5399)

We have heard strong indicators that this bill will receive a hearing in the House Education Committee, and we thank Representative Eric Pettigrew for sponsoring and House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan for working closely with Chair Sharon Santos to get there.

It is unclear if the Senate will hear the bill in committee. Members are encouraged to contact these key legislators to share their hopes that this bill will be heard and brought to a vote.

Representative Eric Pettigrew continues to work with us on strategy to push a bill through, and his leadership is appreciated.

Action Update

Stand for Children held a legislative summit on the Great Schools Bill on January 28th. The summit included presentations on the legislation, discussions about advocacy, and a chance for participants to meet with their legislators about the bill. Overall 71 people attended the event, including some new faces. Thanks to all who participated!

On Monday, Stand sent out an Action Alert to urge the legislators to hold hearings and schedule a vote on the Great Schools Bill. Our members responded by sending out nearly 650 emails to members of the legislature. Thanks goes out to all who responded. Keep it up!

Stand In the News

Teacher performance must be factored into teacher layoffs – Seattle Times Editorial in strong support of the Great Schools Bill

Teacher Experience vs. Skill on KUOW – Stand for Children Director Shannon Campion discusses the Great Schools Bill on "The Conversation with Ross Reynolds"

In Our View: Disregard Seniority – Editorial in The Columbian in strong support of the Great Schools bill

Share Your Story

We want to hear from you!

Stand would like to encourage members to share their story with us and with their legislators and community members. Tell us what the Great Schools Bill means to you. You can share your story on Facebook or send it to us at


Oh, I wonder if they'll like my comments!?
Jennifer said…
The science kits are NOT available at this time to teachers who have not done the initial use training. So it will exclude any new teacher or teachers changing grade level from having access to the science kits which IS the SPS science curriculum k-5. This will in turn exclude students with a teacher in the above categories from receiving the SPS science curriculum.
mirmac1 said…
Look at Section IX in the G45.06 of the Superintendent's new, "ethical" procurement procedures.

"Decisions about whether to compete services that directly relate to the teaching process, such as teacher training and professional development, will be made on a case-by-case basis, although these services will typically qualify for exemption from competition as sole source contracts.

Although textbooks and curriculum purchases are exempt from competitive bid laws, the District typically competes curriculum or textbook purchases as a part of using sound business practices and promoting fair competition among vendors. The adoption of textbooks is governed by Board Policy C20.00, Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials, and Board Policy C21.00, Adoption of Instructional Materials.

Decisions about whether or not to compete contracts for academic consulting personnel will be made by on a case-by-case basis with the Initiator, Procurement, and/or Senior Leadership in conjunction with Legal Counsel."

Okay, so staff have expanded the definition of textbooks to include the "teaching process" and academic consulting personnel. Yet another way for slippery, ethically-challenged Friends of Maria to gain access to our dollars and children. What are these ACPs? TFA test prep instructors? Consulting teachers? Joey Wise? Who knows. It's not defined anywhere.
That was not verified information nor was it presented as an opinion. You want a rumor mill - go start another blog. I actually asked my source who sent this info to me things like who said this, at what meeting and who was present.

I am not asking all of you to be reporters but I hold myself to a higher standard. I'm not going to have readers just post anything that looks vaguely official and say it is now district policy without verification.

I think many of you are missing the point between posting an opinion/feet on the ground observation versus saying "here's what the district is doing" with no real proof.
peonypower said…
very interesting about k-8 science. I will check on my sources about this. The alignment for high school is and will be a disaster.
Meg said…
Given budget constraints and the fact that completed alignments don't appear to have improved student learning, why aren't alignments being dumped from the budget for the time being?
Meg said…
I looked into the 85 cuts claim from SPS and central office staffing levels.

Upshot: there were cuts, but not even "approximately" 85, and central administration remains over-sized. You can check it out here, or with much more snarky commentary on my blog.

Staffing issues can be fluid, so it's really not a huge deal that 85 cuts were proposed and less than 85 positions came off the books.

But a) there was a certain "everything and the kitchen sink" aspect to what was counted in the proposed cuts and b) there's a significant issue of transparency and honesty since the district has, all along, insisted that what was proposed was what happened.

The board is making budget decisions based on information like this. I think it's a serious issue.
Anonymous said…
Okay, Abby G. where did you get your info? Sounds an awful lot like Sue P.'s post. Are you Deep Throat?

Jennifer said…
no I'm a teacher. This is how the science kits have worked for all my 7 years with this district. First hand knowledge. Not confirming or unconfirming the "rumor" just pointing out FACT.
anonymous said…
"That was not verified information nor was it presented as an opinion. You want a rumor mill - go start another blog"

You know Melissa, this got me thinking - I hear people thank you for all of the work you put into this blog all the time. But, I have never heard you thank your followers. You have never thanked them for taking so much time out of their busy days to post, comment, read, send you tips, and generally contribute to this blog. That's odd to me because without your followers there would be no blog. A little sign of appreciation is in order, don't you think?

I think a "thank you" thread should be on your "to do" list for 2011. It's time for you to openly thank your followers and fellow blog administrators (all busy parents, teachers, and community members) for keeping this blog alive.
ParentofThree said…
Generally Speaking, scroll down and you will see this recent post by Melissa:

"A round-up from all over (thanks to Maureen for this story from the My Ballard blog):"

Now the question is, do you apologize when you are wrong?
dan dempsey said…
Time to pick up the phone and call in opposition to HB 1443.

The Administrators in this state would like to have the state spend $187.5 million on the Common Core State Standards. That is money that will be diverted away from local school districts' classrooms.


It's toll free!

You can watch the entire hearing right here:

If you want the reasons to reject this next big expensive experiment, watch these 2 minute presentations:

34:50 Bob Dean
36:50 Bob Brandt
39:00 Laura Brandt
41:45 Marty McLaren
48:00 Mark Van Horne
50:00 Lying Wong
59:25 James Wilson
1:01:40 Sharon Hanek
1:04:00 Laurie Rogers
1:30:00 Ted Nutting
1:32:00 Dan Dempsey
hschinske said…
I heard the other day that North Beach is no longer doing cross-grade math groupings -- when did this happen, and what was their reasoning? Seems a great shame to me.

Helen Schinske
ds said…
Has anyone heard any updates about the HS science adoption? According to the district website:

"Week of January 24, 2011: Send out an invitation to view instructional materials; public will be notified that they can review the science instructional materials and provide feedback both on site and a Web site survey to get on specifics of science instructional materials"

"Week of January 31 – February 8th, 2011: Community reviews science instructional materials and provides feedback."

So the materials should be available...has anyone seen either the materials or a link to the survey?
suep. said…
Melissa Westbrook said...
Sue, I wish you had waited to post that. I receive it as well but since I do not know who wrote it or when he/she got this information, I was waiting for further confirmation. Please do not post items like that that give information that has not been verified. 2/4/11 1:16 PM

Melissa, are you serious? Do you honestly think that everything everyone posts on your blog is verified or sourced? If you want to hold everyone to such standards, there will be far fewer posts here.

99% of the time I attribute what I post thoroughly, or ascribe it to my own opinion. You know that. Anyone can check out my and Dora's blog to see what kind of research we do.

I have since learned that the source of that info/concern is an SPS science coach. I in turn got that information from a reliable source I know. I was told it was urgent, so I posted what I knew.

I figured you and Charlie would be interested in the info and you and others on the blog might be able to add to or clarify it.

I put it in quotes -- and even added a question mark to the heading indicating that I was suprised and baffled by the news myself. People can take what they want from it -- or prove it incorrect. Believe me, I would be extremely happy if this proves to be wrong. I think eliminating k-8 science would be a huge loss.

I should think that by now, readers of this blog and watchers of this school district know that many truths begin as small rumors or items like this one. Remember the 'rumors' about plans to switch Jane Addams to a middle school? Remember the 'rumors' from some of us two years ago about our Broad Foundation superintendent's support of charter schools?

These 'rumors' turned out to be true. As have so many others. You yourself reported (did you name your source?) that Supt G-J met with Mayor McGinn last week to discuss charters. (Btw, even without attribution, I took your post seriously because you have a pretty solid track record on reporting what's really going on in the district.)

Because SPS is not forthright with all of us, and has sprung many things on us, we parents are unfortunately forced to consider whatever info we hear about what's going on, from various sources.

Lastly, let's cut each other some slack. There is so much to report on in SPS and our local media are doing a poor job of it, so it is left to citizen-journalists like ourselves who do not have the resources to do everything perfectly.

But I think we're all doing a damn good job nevertheless.


mirmac1 said…

Thanks for the efforts you and Dora put forth to inform us on district shenanigans.
Yes, I was serious. I will gently point out that you have a blog of your own and you can create the standards for your reporting, not for SSS blog.
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
Careful what you request Melissa - it's contributors like Sue that, along with you, keep this blog alive. Many of us appreciate what Sue, Charlie, Maureen, Helen, and other posters have to say, just as much as we appreciate what you have to say. You shouldn't be so quick to run her, or others that disagree with you, off. The my way or the highway attitude seems pretty top heavy, when you are running a community centered blog, especially when you RELY on contributors for a lot of your tips and information.
Anonymous said…

This would have been a good time to demonstrate that you are not prickly and defensive.

Name withheld by request
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
Anonymous, Melissa's just going to delete your post. It's another blog "rule" that you can't post anonymously. So, please, just make up any screen name you want to, and re- post. Argh......
Anonymous said…
But "name withheld by request" IS my name...

Name withheld etc etc...
dan dempsey said…
Why I Quit : Confessions of a former community college math teacher.

by Clint Thatcher

The time to quit the best job in the world is right before you get tired of it. After spending 20 years flying in B-52s and retiring from the U.S. Air Force, I spent the last 16 years as a math teacher. I can truly say that teaching mathematics was the greatest and most emotionally gratifying experience of my life. I certainly did not want to quit teaching, but I was told to change my traditional approach. I refused to and quit the job I loved so much.

I had been teaching developmental algebra for 12 years at Spokane Falls Community College and have had a 95 percent success rate with the students. Nine out of 10 students who enroll at SFCC are placed into developmental math. It is sad to think that 90 percent of all entering college students didn't retain (or learn) enough algebra skills to pass the math assessment test to be placed into a college-level math class. Developmental math classes are five-hour courses and cost the same as a college-level class. It takes some students three or four attempts to complete one class.

It was found that only one in three students completed the dev-math series; failing to complete the series effectively ends a student's college career. It became apparent that something had to be done to change the outcomes. Money was secured through the Title III program and was used to change the dev-math program at SFCC. All teachers had to go through professional training in order to teach the new series. The new curriculum style is for students to collaborate in groups to find the best way to answer or solve a particular problem. This method reduces and, for some teachers, eliminates lectures altogether.

It took brilliant men and women decades to formulate the laws of math that we have today. Now they want our students to formulate these same laws in a 50-minute class. This methodology is also the darling of the local and many other school districts, and we wonder why our children are graduating with minimal math skills? Many of my students would be absolutely lost without a calculator. They have lost the basic skills of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing real numbers. They have essentially zero skills when it comes to dealing with fractions. We have strayed so far from learning basic math skills that our college-bound students are entering a world that is totally foreign to them. So what does SFCC do? They change the math world to match what the students had in K-12.

I say we must first teach our students time-honored procedural mathematics that produces step-by-step methodology, and then we must introduce basic skill problems that use these procedures. When their skill levels reach a certain proficiency, students can then be given real-world problems where group collaboration can be of great benefit. The new method is to reverse the process and it is terribly inefficient. Students will not only become frustrated but will learn very little mathematics when it is all said and done.

I am enormously concerned for the future of our students to have the necessary math skills to fulfill the jobs that have built this nation. Oh, it is still a great nation, but we are importing a large portion of our high-tech workers to maintain our status. We know there is a problem when we are rated 25th out of the top 30 industrial nations in math skills.

I hope to open up the eyes of parents who realize the system is failing their children. Where better than in Spokane to start a movement of parents and teachers to change back to the traditional and proven way of teaching mathematics?

Clint Thatcher, along with retired engineer John Barber and education advocate Laurie Rogers, are holding a series of discussions on the topic of math education, at 6 pm. For more information, e-mail
SC Parent said…
I would have liked to attend this book discussion. I know you sometimes find out about events at the last minute, but I wanted to encourage you to post interesting events such as this with as much advance notice as possible. I'm only able to catch up on your blog 2 or 3 times a week, and so I missed this event. But, without your consolidation of all things to do with education, there is no way I would keep up. Thanks
Maureen said…
The book discussion wasn't even posted on Mockingbird's web site, so Melissa's post may be the only advertisement it got. I called the store to check on it and they told me that the author had worked with 826 Seattle. I don't think they published the book (store said it was self published), but maybe they or Mockingbird have copies for sale or could help arrange other author talks?
mirmac1 said…
BTW, this is an excellent argument against what's happening to public education. Earned its spot on Huffington Post. Well Said!
Anonymous said…
FYI - Transportation is now starting to post transportation maps for each school.
Maureen said…
Anonymous, Can you post a link or URL for the new maps? I don't see them. Entering from old or new web site I get sent to the Transportation Page where it links to the same old Adams "Sample Transportation Zone." (As of 12:15 on Tuesday 2/8)
Anonymous said…
From the old website, clicking Transportation sends you to the new website. Then click on "Proposed Transportation Zones - In Progress", under Transportation Plan for 2011-2012.

Another anonymous
Maureen said…
Thanks! So weird, I tried it four different ways from old and new. The trick seems to be clicking the 'Transportation' link on the lower right side of the New home page (following other links from the new site just sends you to the old page I linked to.)

Here's the direct link to the New Transportation Page.
Maureen said…
Wow, look at the intermediary transportation boundary for Sandpoint. Opening new schools isn't cheap, is it?

This is the biggest intermediary boundary I ran across, but most schools have pretty big ones. I just don't see how this is going to save us $4,000,000 (80 buses) in one year. After three or four, sure, but in '11-'12, really?
none1111 said…
I heard the other day that North Beach is no longer doing cross-grade math groupings -- when did this happen, and what was their reasoning? Seems a great shame to me.

Helen, this is pure speculation, but not without justification (i.e. I've seen it happen elsewhere).

I'll bet it was working great for (most of) the kids - until some parents got wind of their kids being in the "lower" sections. Unfortunately, parents' egos can be huge, and the complaints can get too loud to ignore. As I understand what happened in another building a few years ago, it just wasn't worth the hassle to the administration, so they shut it down.

Pity. It's usually the best thing for all the kids because they all get more appropriate material for a given time. As long as the teachers do a good job assessing the kids when they move from topic to topic and aren't afraid to adjust the kids along the way. Because kids can easily be at different relative levels in different math strands.

This is one time when "strongly advocating" for your kids might not be the best course of action.
none1111 said…
Yes, I was serious. I will gently point out that you have a blog of your own and you can create the standards for your reporting, not for SSS blog.

It's troubling to see friction here, especially between two extremely valuable district watchdog reporters.

I feel like I see both sides. I generally like to see all information as soon as possible, regardless of verification -- as long as it's very clear whether it's fact, rumor or opinion. And here's where it gets dicey.

I read Sue's post with some shock and horror. Why? I think it was the combination of not noticing the "?" in the "?!!", and the fact that it was Sue's post instead of "joe anonymous". Whether it's fair or not, there are at least a half-dozen or so people here that I hold in high esteem for their deep knowledge of the district and dependable information. Sue is one of these people, and like Melissa, I think many of us hold them to a higher standard.

I hope that we are all free to post rumors, as we hear them, but I also think the original post could have been much more clear about the unverified nature of the info. Melissa, would that have satisfied you, or were you really in favor of holding back the info in any case?
hschinske said…
I've been told now that it is *not* true that North Beach is discontinuing its cross-grade groupings for math. Kindergartners aren't involved, but 1-5 do have "walk to math" groups. The person who told me said they'd double-checked with the NB principal.

Helen Schinske
Maureen said…
NYT article about how difficult it is to actually replace principals of failing schools due to lack of better/qualified candidates. Just wait until they fire the 'bottom' 10% of our teachers!
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