Showing posts from March, 2011

Who Is Paying for Teach for America?

Update:     It seems the Seattle Foundation gave TFA $80k in December 2010 to " support general operating expenses of the Seattle program ."   Their other generous donations cover a wide range of Puget Sound programs (including intervention programs in Renton, Northshore and Highline schools).  Interesting that they want to help support a non-local program that doesn't even exist here yet.   As I previously reported, I had this back and forth with Washington STEM over their funding of TFA.  At one point, they had brought in the TFA regional director who told me that they are trying to get recruits with science and math backgrounds.  Clearly, there is no way for them to guarantee who will come but she said 10 recruits with math/science degrees had indicated Puget Sound as their first choice.

Counselors or Coaches - Vote Now

Charlie reported that Robert Boesche, CFO, wants budget ideas so let's give him some.  My thought is inspired by the Kia car commercial with the gangsta hamsters (I cannot say why this commercial so entertains me but it does.)  The tag line is: You can go with this or you can get with that. So in that vein, I thought we might put together a list (and feel free to do this at your elementary school).    First up, School Counselors or Academic Coaches? This or That? Which do you think make the most difference at your school?  Which would you be willing to do without for a year or two or three?  (And none of this, "I don't really know" stuff.  You know your school; what do teachers or the principals talk about more?) What else would make a good "this or that"?

Special Ed Survey (But Anyone Can Take It)

ParentsCare is a group working on issues around Special Education for SPS students with special needs.  They are taking a survey and would like your help, whether you are a parent of a Special Ed student or not.   From their e-mail: We invite parents of SPS students to participate in a survey for families with students who are assigned to new schools next year, typically the 5th and 8th graders.  We ran a sample survey in our corner of the district and will post a sample of our results is in the Attachments section "2011 SPS Riser Assignment Survey".  It would be nice to see if we get results from across the district. We are trying to measure family agreement with the New Student Assignment Plan with emphasis on the riser process.  A student "riser" is a student who changes schools or program.  For example, from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school are two riser situations for most students. If your student is not a riser but y

Seattle Council PTSA Meeting Last Night with Enfield and Boesche

The panel last night was Steve Sundquist, Sherry Carr, Pegi McEvoy (COO), Robert Boesche (CFO) and Dr. Enfield.   Peter Maier also attended but was not part of the panel.  Linda Shaw from the Times attended and there were about 30 people in the audience. The Seattle Council PTSA was very gracious in dispensing with the business part of the meeting and went right to comments from the panel and then questions.  It was an interesting format because you could submit a written question and, at the end, ask a question.  I had printed out all the budget questions I had received from my thread and gave it to the moderator.

Mr. Boesche Wants Your Ideas for Budget Cuts

At the PTSA Q&A event last night I spoke with the interim CFO, Robert Bousche, and he told me that he wanted folks to send him ideas for ways that the District could cut their budget. Steve Sundquist told me that the Board generally relies on the staff to recommend changes but that they could put in ideas of their own or ideas that they get from the public. So let's send Mr. Bousche and Mr. Sundquist some ideas. I can't find an email address for Mr. Bousche, so until we can get it, let's just send the ideas to Communications and to the superintendent and ask them to forward the idea to Mr. Bousche. Here are a couple ideas that I will be sending in today: * Stop the spending on the web site upgrade project. Savings: at least $400,000. * End the NTN contract with STEM a year early at one school (academy). Savings: $200,000.

PTA Sponsored Q & A

I went to the Q & A sponsored by the PTA tonight. Boy am I glad I went. On the panel were five people, all of them taking on new jobs. Susan Enfield, the new Superintendent; Robert Boesche, the new CFO; Pegi McEvoy, the new COO; and Sherry Carr and Steve Sundquist who are completely new to providing governance and oversight as Board Directors. I have to say that every time Dr. Enfield spoke I was more and more pleased with her appointment to the job. She spoke about students instead of schools. She spoke about the connections between teachers and students. She spoke about accountability in ways that came closer to being concrete terms. And when she had to deliver bad news, she did it. She was honest about what could or couldn't be done and she was honest about the way things are. It was wonderful. Every time that Steve Sundquist spoke it made me try to think of everyone I knew in West Seattle who might be able to run against him. Maria Ramirez, where are you? We need you

Good for You, Grandma

From the Rainier Valley Post, news that at least one of the suspects in an incident at RBHS on March 10th turned himself in police at the insistence of his grandmother.   The backstory: On Tues., March 8, several students said they witnessed a shooting right outside the school at about 10 am. Apparently, the incident was not immediately reported to police. There were no injuries, but two days later, shortly after 10 am on March 10, three men showed up at the school looking for two girls that had witnessed the shooting. The men ignored a security guard who insisted they leave, and instead, pushed by him in their attempts to confront the girls, before eventually being escorted out of the building. What the cops had to say: This guy attempted to intimidate a witness in one crime, and now he’s locked-up for another. Although direct witness intimidation attempts are few and far between, that result is actually not uncommon. People should know that actual incidents of witn

Complaints About Complaints

I enjoy bitter flavors. I like coffee, bitter ale, Italian aperitif wines, and these little red sodas from San Pelligrino called Sanbitter. I also enjoy the bitter tang of irony. There are a few specific ironies that I truly savor. One of them are people in their cars in traffic complaining about traffic. They seem so blissfully unaware that they themselves are part of the very problem they hate. Another irony I enjoy are those who complain about complaints. Let's be clear. I don't have any problem with a complaint. A good one states the problem, knows its roots, shows the harm it causes, and suggests a viable solution. That's perfectly legitimate. I absolutely loathe whining. Whining has the statement of the problem but rarely knows its roots and never suggests a workable solution. That's the big difference: suggesting a solution. If you offer a solution then you are part of the solution. If you don't, then you're just whining about the problem. This blog h

As the District Churns

Just got word that as Lesley Rogers comes in to the district as the new head of Communications, long-time Communications manager Patti Spencer-Watkins is leaving.   Her last day is tomorrow.   Here is a list, for future reference, of who handles what in Communications: Paige Hatcher, 206 252 0200, - general inquiries about communications support Teresa Wippel, 206 252 0203, - media or communications planning advice; support for principals Robert Teodosio, 206 252 0104, - web, publications, logo queries Bev Shanahan, 206 252 0200, - principal communicator

What's Your Budgeting Question?

I am going to attend the Seattle Council PTSA meeting tonight that features Dr. Enfield and our new CFO, Robert Boesche.   They will be answering school budgeting questions.  I want to say something to Mr. Boesche but I don't have a burning budgeting question. Throw out some to me and I'll try to ask as many as I can tonight.

Hiring Committee for Chief Communications Officer

There was some question about who was on the hiring committee for the Chief Communications Officer job. The job went to Lesley Rogers of Strategies 360, a firm that worked for the Alliance, laid down the Our Schools Coalition astroturf, and provided services to the District between Communications Directors. The press release announcing Ms Rogers' hiring said that "parents" (not very inclusive language) were part of the hiring committee. Some of us wondered who they were. Here, from Ann Chan, Chief Talent Officer, are the names of those who served on that committee: Participants for final interview were: Seattle Public Schools ---------------------- Marni Campbell, Special Education Holly Ferguson, Policy & Government Relations Bree Dusseault, Executive Director Patti Spencer, Communications Bernardo Ruiz, Family Partnerships Paige Hatcher, Communications Robert Teodosio, Communications Teresa Wippel, Communications Cathy Thompson, Curriculum & Inst

Parent Perspectives on Standardized Testing

Parent Chris Stewart has organized an evening for parents to discuss standardized testing.  With the changes in the state test and the newness of MAP testing, it is a good time to talk about the issues.   Issues to explain: parent education goals of testing benefits of testing costs of testing parental rights national perspective Issues for feedback: are these the best way to meet the district's academic goals? what you might like to see in SPS ideas on testing frequency for different age groups She will have different speakers on the issues speaking about 10 minutes each and then an hour for discussion with the entire group (no breakout groups).  (Note; there is not going to be discussion of testing for the Advanced Learning program.) The meeting is Monday, April 4th at Thornton Creek Elementary, from 6-8 p.m.  

Audit Response Log Update

The Audit Response Log has been expanded to include a number of audits and financial reviews - including the Moss Adams review and recommendations .

Top Chef Seattle Schools Style

From SPS: The West Seattle High School culinary team won the "Best Entree Award" at the 2011 Boyd Coffee ProStart Invitational - beating 17 other teams across Washington. The team members are students are Kirby Davis, Latisha Evans, and Johnny Le. The students received a $500 Scholarship to The Art Institute of Seattle, a Certificate of Achievement and a chef's knife. Kate Ptasnik of Roosevelt High School was named ProStart Student of the Year. The students attribute their success to two chef mentors; Quinton Stewart, executive chef at Branzino in downtown Seattle, and Robin Leventhal of Stopsky’s Delicatessen on Mercer Island. The Pro Start class is offered at West Seattle High School and is taught by Sarah Orton and Danielle Henry. Thank you to these two mentor chefs for supporting Seattle's youth. Any good news from your corner of the district?

Seattle Schools Being Sued for Libel by Local Landlords

The Stranger Slog reports that local Roosevelt landlord jerk, Drake Sisley, is suing the district for an article in the Roosevelt High School paper back in March 2009 that he says is " false, defamatory, libelous, and malicious ."   There is much that I could say given where I live and my status at the time but I'll just leave you with the letter I wrote to Noel Treat, district lead counsel, the Superintendent, the Board and Principal Brian Vance.  Here's what I wrote: Dear Noel, I just got wind of Drake Sisley's lawsuit against the district over the Roosevelt High School newspaper articles about properties near RHS that he and his brother own. First up, I live in this neighborhood (just 2 blocks from RHS). Second, I was co-president at RHS PTSA from 2007-2009.   Between those two items, I know this issue well.  I have had to talk to the police about this issue (at their request based on my being co-president of the PTSA). Additionally, my so

School Budgets Online

Here is a link to the page with the school budgets. It also has a link to the Weighted Staffing Standards Model .

Open Thread Tuesday

I thought I would open it up in case anyone had attended the Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting yesterday or Dr. Enfield's coffee chat this morning. 

Race, Poverty and Public Schools

Bob Herbert of the NY Times wrote an excellent column about race and poverty in learning called Separate and Unequal.   From his column: Educators know that it is very difficult to get consistently good results in schools characterized by high concentrations of poverty. The best teachers tend to avoid such schools. Expectations regarding student achievement are frequently much lower, and there are lower levels of parental involvement. These, of course, are the very schools in which so many black and Hispanic children are enrolled. 

Court of Appeals Reverses Previous Math Adoption Ruling

The Court of Appeals for Washington State has ruled that the School Board's adoption of Discovery math was not " arbitrary capricious or contrary to law ."  From the ruling: Those challenging the Board decision bear a heavy burden, particularly because it was based on complex and technical factual matters at the heart of the Board's Arbitrary and capricious agency action is "wilful and unreasoning action, action without consideration and in disregard of the facts and circumstances of the case. Action is not arbitrary or capricious when exercised honestly and upon due consideration where there is room for two opinions, however much it may be believed that an erroneous conclusion was reached. The Court found that the Board did not fail to give honest consideration to the " alleged deficiencies of the Discovering series" . It went through, item by item, of the plaintiffs issues with the decision. One interesting item: The challengers believe th

Coffee Chat with Enfield at the Library is Full

FYI,  I just received a notice that the coffee chat with Dr. Enfield at the Central Library tomorrow is FULL.  They will only be allowing people in who RSVPed.   Do not go if you didn't RSVP or are not on the waiting list.  I hadn't noticed but this event is being put together by the Alliance for Education. 

ALO versus Differentiated Teaching

A thread was requested about ALOs (Advanced Learning Opportunities, the third tier of the Advanced Learning program) and differentiated teaching .   Differentiated teaching is a teacher knowing his/her students' strengths, challenges and readiness and being able to adjust teaching to the different levels in the classroom.  (This doesn't necessarily mean teaching to every single student's level but rather knowing that there are different abilities in the classroom and trying to meet those needs.)

A Small Double-Standard/Hypocrisy

As we all know, the District has intentionally made language immersion programs at attendance area schools. This works directly against the District's stated goal of equitable access to programs. It's just bad in every way. It's getting worse. When building the feeder pattern for language immersion programs, the District wants to have two elementary schools feeding into each middle school and, then, into one high school. If the second elementary school program were placed in a school in another middle school service area, but adjacent to the middle school service area of the language program middle school, then access to the program could be extended to students in another service area. For example, if the second school with language immersion in the north-end were at Green Lake, then students in the Eckstein service area (theoretically) would have access to a language immersion program as well as students in the Hamilton service area. The District, however, has rejec

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's Record in Southeast Seattle

There has been some lively discussion about the steps that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson took to improve schools in Southeast Seattle (if any) and the positive impact of those steps (if any). Because this discussion came in another thread with another primary topic, I thought it would be useful to bring the discussion out to its own thread where it would have better visibility.

Meetings This Week

Monday, March 28th Board Committee Meeting - Curriculum and Instruction Agenda topics:  science adoption delay, AP Science and Social Studies, high school social studies adoption committee, middle school language arts adoption committee, K-5 General music adoption commitee, promotion/retention policies, homework policies Tuesday, March 29th   Superintendent Chat from 8-9 am at the Central library downtown (10th Floor) The Source Informational Night for Latino Families - Campana Quetzal will be hosting this event at 6:30 p.m. in the RBHS library.  Families will learn to use the Source and how to create an e-mail account.  The workshops will be in Spanish.   Superintendent coffee with members of the East African community from 6:30-8:00 p.m. - there is no location given for this; I'll try to find out where.   There is also another diversity speaker lecture.  This one is Brian C. Johnson about framing diversity through modern film.  It is very 6-8 p.m. at headquarters. (My a

Something to Consider

I get a weekly e-mail from an organization named the Public Education Network. I have no idea what PEN's political leanings are. All I know is that, on Fridays, for the past 7 years, I get a great summary of articles and reports that cover the whole spectrum of education. The e-mail I received yesterday contained this: Get serious Writing as a guest on The Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog, Linda Darling-Hammond says that the recent and first-ever International Summit on Teaching, convened in New York City, showed "more clearly than ever that the United States has been pursuing an approach to teaching almost diametrically opposed to that pursued by the highest-achieving nations." The summit gathered government officials and union leaders from 16 nations, and the contrast in attitude toward teaching between international participants and Americans "could not have been more stark." Officials from countries like Finland and Singapore described

It's the Student, Stupid

This isn't really what Dick Lilly over at Crosscut said but it's what went thru my mind reading his recent article .  Here's his premise about "closing the achievement gap": Among the results of this frustratingly persistent problem is a vast, energetic industry of school reform, headlined in recent years by the involvement of powerful private foundations and the policy directives of the federal government: “No Child Left Behind” in the “Race to the Top.” Over the years, a variety of structural changes have been proposed and, to one degree or another, tried: small schools, mayoral governance, charter schools, (more) intensive professional development for teachers, (more) leadership training for principals. Testing and more testing, along with the loss of federal funds and wholesale staff changes when schools have failed to improve scores (many states dumbed down their tests to avoid the consequences). And lately, paying teachers based on student test r

With Arms like an Octopus, Gates Foundation Reaches in all Directions

From: Bill Williams, Executive Director, Washington State PTSA I am pleased to announce that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a grant to Washington State PTA in the amount of $191,424.  Among other things, funds from the grant will be used • to enhance communications with and among our members; • to strengthen efforts to engage all parents, especially those from communities who have historically been underrepresented; and • to undertake a public information campaign about the importance of every student graduating ready for college or a career.   WSPTA is very appreciative of the generosity of the Foundation in supporting our efforts to achieve our vision that every child’s potential becomes a reality.  More information about specific initiatives being funded through the grant will be forthcoming in future issues of the Leadership News.   I can hear some of you now, " But Melissa this could be a good thing.  It's nice that Gates wants to help

High School Open Choice Seats for 2011-2012

The District has quietly announced the number of open choice seats available at attendance area high schools in the fall. Nice transparency. This represents a clear failure to keep the commitment of maintaining choice by reserving seats for out-of-area students at every high school. Here's a link to the table . High School Open Choice Seats for 2011‐12 School. . . .Grade. . . Seats. . .% Ballard. . . . 9. . . . . 21 . . . 5% Ballard. . . .10. . . . . 41 . . .10% Franklin . . . 9. . . . . 38 . . .10% Franklin . . .10. . . . . 21 . . . 6% Garfield . . . 9. . . . . 0. . . . 0% Garfield . . .10. . . . . 0. . . . 0% Ingraham . . . 9. . . . . 32 . . .10% Ingraham . . .10. . . . . 32 . . .10% Nathan Hale. . 9. . . . . 32 . . .10% Nathan Hale. .10. . . . . 6 . . . 2% Rainier Beach. 9. . . . . 31 . . .10% Rainier Beach.10. . . . . 31 . . .10% Roosevelt. . . 9. . . . . 43 . . .10% Roosevelt. . .10. . . . . 21 . . . 5% Chief Sealth . 9. . . . . 0 . . . 0% Chief

Program Placement for 2011-2012

Apparently when no one was looking the District announced program placement decisions for the coming school year. The document is dated 3/17/2011, one day after the last Board meeting. Nice start on the transparency effort. Every single proposal that came from staff was approved. The staff must have all of the good ideas because all ten of the program placement proposals submitted by members of the public were rejected. Among them: Relocate elementary Spectrum for the Washington Service Area from John Muir to Madrona K‐8; could also provide additional Spectrum capacity for grades 6‐8. Rejected because an ALO is being added at Madrona, which will increase access to advanced learning programs rather than just shifting services from one school to another. This same proposal was rejected last year for a different rationale, that the program should be located close to the students' homes. So the rationale changes from year to year. Change Van Asselt from a K‐5 school to a K‐8

More Silas Potter Connections

Publicola did some digging and found that the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) had a contract with the Urban League (who also had contracts with SPS).    From the article : In response to a public disclosure request, WSDOT revealed that it has contracted out support for disadvantaged and minority businesses through the Regional Small Business Development Program (RSBDP), the Seattle Public Schools division headed up by program manager Silas Potter, the man in charge of the SPS program at the center of the $1.8 million scandal, as first reported by the Seattle Times. According to quarterly and annual reports on WSDOT’s Support Services for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), Potter’s RSBDP offered business competitiveness courses to companies with the goal of helping them bid more successfully for WSDOT contracts. The low level of DBE attendance and the lack of any growth in enrollment at RSBDP classes suggests a similar pattern to that described in th

Dr. Enfield's Priorities for the Next Three Months

We now have a document from Dr. Enfield, Earning Public Confidence in Seattle Public Schools: Every Student Known, Challenged, Cared For , that lays out her priorities for the rest of the school year and her plan for restoring trust. In this document she writes: " I know public confidence is earned through strong leadership ". In that case she knows something I don't. I know that public confidence is earned through telling the truth and fulfilling commitments. She does go on - quite a bit - about transparency, openness, and collaboration. I appreciate the words, but I won't believe them until I see it happen. I won't dis-believe them - I'll just remain neutral. One thing I really, really like about this document is right up front, her top priority: 1. Focusing on our core mission: providing every student with an excellent education • Continuing our commitment to Excellence for All, our five-year strategic plan, with an eye to making adjustments in light

Open Thread Friday

Reminders for Saturday: Community Meetings - Patu and Smith-Blum,  Seattle Spring College Fair at Seattle University Pinehurst K-8 Festival

Get GET While the Getting is Good

According to the Times, the terms of GET (Guaranteed Educaton Tuition)  - the state's program for pre-paid tuition rates - may change soon under a bill in the Legislature.  This program has been and now, with looming changes, even more popular.  From the article : The program is bringing in $1 million to $2 million daily and adding about 200 new families each day, on pace to be at or above the biggest year for the program. Tuition is going up so fast the state may have problems paying out everyone in full.  There seems to be mixed messages on whether this will really happen or not. The increase in GET purchases helps buoy the program financially, Lochner said, because it gives the state more money to invest. GET contains about $1.4 billion in assets, and the money is invested in stocks, bonds and other investments, much like a pension fund. There are nearly 129,000 GET accounts; a student can have more than one account. Although the deadline for creating an account this yea

For that reason alone, he does not deserve re-election

In an earlier thread, skeptical wrote about Director Sundquist: Sundquist also opened the last, hardest, of this year's budget sessions by making a sweeping statement that staff's board recommendations should be baseline accepted as the starting point of discussion. For that reason alone, he does not deserve re-election. Which actions or statements by Board Directors make them un-deserving of re-election? I'll provide the second one. At the Board meeting of November 17, 2010, Director Martin-Morris scolded his Board colleagues for trying to verify a statement made by Dr. Enfield. He lectured them that they should just accept her statements as true and not insult her by verifying them. For that reason alone, he does not deserve re-election. The statement in question proved false, a fact he knew when chastizing his fellow Directors, but that didn't slow him down one bit.

Strategic Plan Refresh

The District is preparing a "Strategic Plan Refresh". They will review the Strategic Plan and decide which projects to continue, alter, defer, or remove. The refresh will have to include goals, timelines, status, and budgets for each of the projects. I spoke with Mark Teoh last night and asked if he could include two items in the Refresh program: 1) A record of the various projects in the Strategic Plan, including those that were originally in it, those that were added, those that were completed, and those that were simply dropped without notice. Remember how there was supposed to be an APP Review in the plan? Remember how there was going to be an alternative education review? These projects just silently faded away. At the same time, Capacity Management and World Language curricular alignment, which were not part of the original plan, have been added. 2) A review of the community engagement protocols and some table that shows which of the projects are meeting the requi

Board Update

When they first took office in 2007, the four school board directors elected that year didn't seem to know what to do. None of them had been very active at the District level before the election. None of them had regularly attended Board meetings. None of them knew much about the District outside of some single area of interest. They were unfamiliar with the District's personnel, structure, and workings. They were unfamiliar with the board job. I don't mean any insult; that's par for the course for new Board Directors. These new Board members took their lead from Directors Chow and DeBell and from the staff. I think they were getting a lot of whispers from the Broad Foundation, WSSDA, and the Alliance as well. That was too bad. It created a Board that did no oversight. Director Chow disbelieved in the Board's role. Near the end of her term she became very candid. She scolded her board colleagues for even asking questions of the staff. She told them that by the t

HR Oversight Work Session

This was an interesting Work Session not least of all because of its topic - HR .  (And no one said anything about "human capital.")  Much of my interest was in how the Board acted.  They acted like people who had questions and wanted answers, polite but firm. Sherry started off by explaining that Don McAdams, who is guiding the Board on governance issues, encouraged them to do overviews of all the departments.  They just happened to start with HR.  Ann Chan, who is the new head of HR, started out by explaining HR's focus which is ensuring every classroom has a qualified teacher, supporting teachers and providing timely staffing and evaluation data and support to principals, executive directors and central office managers.  Michael pointed out that 40% of SPS employees were not in the classroom.  He said the recent issues that "reflected badly" on the district occurred in Central office functions.   He was following up on a comment Sherry made about "

Quarterly Strategic Plan Update

I attended the quarterly Strategic Plan update this evening. It was, far and away, the best one ever. Credit for the clearer and more informative format goes to Mark Teoh, the new person in charge of the Strategic Plan. He said it was easy to present the information clearly. He didn't say that was true once the goal became to share information rather than horde it. The Board, except for Director Martin-Morris - who was silent throughout the presentation, was engaged and asked some good questions. The Powerpoint speaks for itself, so I'll just make a couple notes... On slide 8, Special Education, the District doesn't yet keep IEPs as electronic records, so it is extraordinarily difficult to measure or track the work. They are transitioning to an electronic format. It was noted that two schools experiencing a lot of progress and success, West Seattle Elementary and Highland Park Elementary, are using a "workshop" model in the classroom which allows the teache

News Roundup

From the New York Times: an op-ed about asking students what THEY want in a high school .  The author, Susan Engel, followed a group of 8 high school students as they " designed and ran their own school within a school. "  Interesting reading.  Here's a connecting lesson plan .  A couple of thoughtful parts: An Independence Project student who had once considered dropping out of school found he couldn’t bear to stop focusing on his current history question but didn’t want to miss out on exploring a new one. When he asked the group if it would be O.K. to pursue both, another student answered, “Yeah, I think that’s what they call learning.”  The students in the Independent Project are remarkable but not because they are exceptionally motivated or unusually talented. They are remarkable because they demonstrate the kinds of learning and personal growth that are possible when teenagers feel ownership of their high school experience, when they learn things that ma

The Most Popular Girl in SPS

From Dr. Enfield's office: As you can imagine, Dr. Enfield’s calendar quickly filled after that letter went out. And given that ‘Open Office Hours’ are only on Thursdays, 4:00 -5:30 pm (15 minutes per guest or group), it didn’t take long.  Unfortunately at this time, I am unable to schedule any additional appointments.  With the great demand of her time following this invitation, we filled her calendar through June in a matter of days. We are currently looking for additional scheduling opportunities on her calendar to create more openings.  Once identified, I will get back to you. Thanks to Jaane for the update.

Don't Hold Your Breath II

On January 11, I wrote this blog post called Don't Hold Your Breath about my doubts that the district staff would follow up on commitments to make corrections to the school reports. The blog post also expressed my dismay at a Board that appears completely unfamiliar with the whole idea of following up. They actually accepted promises of future action from a staff person that they knew was leaving the District. Incredible. It has now been over three months since the changes were promised (and promised promptly), yet we still have not seen any of the promised action. I wrote to a couple of Board members asking about it. One of them forwarded my concern to the superintendent. She wrote back on Thursday the 17th that the changes would be made on Friday, March 18. The changes were not made. I wrote back to the Board member to make her aware of that fact. No response. This sort of stuff does not restore public trust in the District. I recognize that this sort of thing may appe

Seattle Schools Budget Information Posted

The district has posted a spreadsheet document for the budget.   It is quite large and very detailed and I have not plowed through it myself. One thing that did jump out at me was the amount of money we pay to private schools (roughly $300k).  I know there's a reason the district has to pay for students to attend them but it eludes me right now.  Can anyone jog my memory?

I'm Speechless (Me?)

Lynne Varner of the Times wrote what is probably one of the least clear editorial columns I have ever read I just don't know what to make of it so I leave it to you to decipher it.  (She does use her fav phrase "Sturm und Drang" which I never thought of as all-purpose but okay.) Hint: I think it's about ethics. Here's one of the weirder lines: Wow, is city government so clean Barnett has time to police the educational equivalent of Libya? I'm a pretty big critic of the district but I do not believe it is the educational equivalent of Libya.

Criticize Privately, Praise Publicly

At the recent School Board Retreat, the Board discussed a Governance and Oversight Policy that would define the Board's job. On page 18 of this 21 page document, is a section titled " Board-Superintendent Communications ". Under this section is this set of guidelines for communication between the Board and the superintendent: Communications between the Board and the Superintendent will be governed by the following practices: a. Exercise honesty in all written and interpersonal interaction, avoiding misleading information b. Demonstrate respect for the opinions and comments of each other c. Focus on issues rather than on personalities d. Maintain focus on common goals e. Communicate with each other in a timely manner to avoid surprises f. Criticize privately, praise publicly g. Maintain appropriate confidentiality h. Openly share personal concerns, information knowledge and agendas i. Make every reasonable effort to protect the integrity and promote the positiv

Revisionist History at Work

Students Need Stable District Leadership is an article at the website, District Administration, about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.  It was written by Tom Payzant, a professor "of practice" at Harvard's Graduate School of Education and the former head of Boston Public Schools and he is apparently someone who likes to talk about things he isn't well-versed in or he just likes to leave things out.

Education Laughs

First up, Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.  The show had taken a week break and left the news of the day at Charlie Sheen and teachers in Wisconsin.  As Jon pointed out, Japan was rocked by an earthquake AND tsunami and a coalition of the willing are trying to knock some sense into Khaddafi.   He played clips of various politicians saying the U.S. is basically broke.  Then he said: "How is it possible to fire Tomahawk missiles AND fire teachers?"  Good question. Then, from Washington Post's The Answer Sheet by Valerie Strauss, comes news of the next edition of tv's " Survivor. "  Here's how it starts: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg , New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Bill Gates will be dropped in an elementary school classroom for one school year. Each will be provided with a copy of his/her school district’s curriculum and a class of 20 to 25 students. Each class

Feel Strongly about the Benefits of Testing?

A group is organizing a forum on parent perspectives about standardized testing .  They are looking for a couple of people (teachers and parents) who support standardized testing in SPS, namely MAP and HSPE.  They are looking for authentic dialog on this important issue.  What benefits have you seen for your child?  How has it guided your thinking as a parent in how your child is doing in school?  Happy about the feedback from your child's teacher? If you might be interested in being part of a panel that is supportive of the testing currently offered (thanks but they have plenty of the other side of the coin), please contact Chris Stewart, ( Also, if you have opted your child out of testing, that would be an interesting experience to share as well.  (I did opt my sons out of most of the WASL but that is years back now.)

Reminder: Let Your State Legislators Know that K-12 Ed Matters

I am again reminding you to please, during this Legislative session, let your state representatives and senators know you care about K-12 education.  Doesn't have to be in support of any particular bill but "I'm a parent, a taxpayer and this matter to me.  Oh, and I vote."   K-12 education is the state's paramount duty and should be always in the minds of our legislators. Here is the link to the Washington State Legislature.    If you know your legislator, find them in the House and write to him or her.  The e-mail will automatically ask you if you want the e-mail sent to your other legislator and senator so you only have to do it once. Don't know who yours is?  Here's the link to Find Your Legislator.  It takes 5 minutes and they need to hear from parents that you care about public education.

More on Teach For America

Just as spring heralds the arrival of new growth, it is sometimes difficult to tell the flowers from the weeds (and to figure out how some things just keep growing). As previously announced, the money for the TFA recruit fees ($4k per teacher per year for SPS and $3k per teacher per year for Federal Way) will come from a grant from the Washington STEM organization.  This would be okay except in trying to figure out how this large grant ($475k) brings more math and science to either district, it gets murky. At the Washington STEM website, the media kit on the grants explains they will " over-recruit " for TFA recruits with a math or science degree.  I asked what this meant and couldn't quite get an answer.  (They don't have their own PR people and the question got farmed out to their PR person.)  As per TFA, I eventually had to go through the TFA regional person, Janis Ortega.  (This happens a great deal of the time.  Try to contact a former TFAer and you'll su

Events This Week

Monday the 21st Reminder of the lecture on water tonight at by Robert Glennon for the Chief Sealth Int'l High School World Water Week.  Doors open at 6:15 for music and refreshments with the lecture at 7 p.m.  Robert Glennon is the author of "Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It." Tuesday There is a discussion at Jane Addams about serving their advanced learners .   This meeting is a Jane Addams school community discussion around how best to serve their advanced learners. Current Jane Addams families, and families considering the school are welcome to join the conversation.  It runs from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the library.  Please note this is school event (not district) with the discussion about Jane Addams only. Wednesday Oversight Work Session on Human Resources Department from 4-5:30 p.m.  This should be interesting as I haven't seen a work session on human resources previously.  Then there is an half-hour break and

Trust Update

So how are we doing on the whole Trust thing? On the positive... 1. The District has out-sourced Ethics Compliance to the City of Seattle. 2. The District says that they will revise their Ethics Policy to make it more effective. 3. The District continues its plan to address Audit findings. 4. The Board is working on Governance and Oversight. 5. The "Graduates Who Qualify for College Entrance" statistic was updated again. 6. The new web site continues to be built out. 7. The Superintendent will hold weekly Open Office Hours on Thursday evenings. On the negative... 1. The District had to admit that they couldn't be relied upon to do Ethics Compliance in-house. 2. The District says that they will revise their Ethics Policy, but the District doesn't have a good record of doing the things that they say they are going to do. 3. The District's plan to address Audit findings is an INaction plan. They are mostly deferring action rather than taking i

Anyone Attend a Director Community Meeting Yesterday?

I attended DeBell's (crowded) meeting yesterday.  I'll post about it later but would like to hear from others. Update:   Michael DeBell's meeting had about 13-15 people (at various points).  I like how Michael has people introduce themselves and then he writes down their topic and tries to get to everyone's topic.   There were several teachers and staff as well as Ramona Hattendorf from the Washington State PTSA.

Finally - the Third Leg to the Crisis Stool

The Times has a revealing article about Fred Stephens, former head of Facilities and Silas Potter's enabler/friend/supporter.  I was wondering when someone in the mainstream media might want to examine his record.  The Times does a fairly good job but does miss/leave out a few parts. For me, it jogs my memory back to several Board meetings.  (I keep most of the Board agenda's at meetings where I have spoken and so I can recall testimony from other speakers.)  The article starts off with African-American activists wanting more access/opportunities to bid on SPS construction contracts.

Principal Assignments

The Superintendent announced these principal assignments today: Appointments: * Kelly Aramaki to Beacon Hill International School (Susie Murphy is retiring) * Anitra Pinchback-Jones to Rainier View, which opens this fall * Lisa Escobar to Viewlands, which opens this fall * Dr. Robert Gary to Principal-on-special-assignment at Interagency Academy, joining Kaaren Andrews Note: Pinchback-Jones has been at Bagley Elementary, Lisa Escobar and Robert Gary have been at RBHS.   Also, the word is that Bryant will either have an assistant principal or head teacher and not continue having two principals. The following individuals have served in an Interim role this year and are officially being appointed as principal. In each case the ExecutiveDirector of Schools gathered feedback from staff, families and communitybefore making these recommendations: * Keven Wynkoop at Ballard * Kelley Archer at Stevens * Keisha Scarlett

Community Meetings Tomorrow

Directors' Community Meetings on Saturday, the 19th: DeBell , from 9-11:00 am, Caffe Appassionato, 4001 21st Ave W. Martin-Morris , from 9:30-11:30 am, Diva's Espresso, 8014 Lake City Way NE Maier , from 10:30 am-noon,  Bethany Community Church, Brick Room,     8023 Green Lake Dr. N. Events early next week: Chief Sealth is doing quite a great week-long event next week called World Water Week to promote global water conservation and awareness.  It is being organized by a senior, Molly Freed, and teacher Noah Zeichner, and a group of 50 other Sealth students and teachers.  Freed and Zeichner were selected last summer as Bezos Scholars (2 of 24 across the nation) to attend the Aspen Ideas Festival. From the SPS news release: Monday, March 21 : A free public lecture by Robert Glennon at 7 p.m. accompanied by a special video message from Alexandra Cousteau. The event will kick off with a water resource fair at 6:15 p.m. and follow with introductions by Congressman J