Showing posts from April, 2011

Dr Enfield to Talk with...Senior Citizens?

The Mayor's office announced a coffee hour with Dr. Enfield in May.  Clearly, it's a PR push for the Families & Education levy because seniors vote.  This is all good and well but meanwhile, she's booked up solid to speak to parents and other community (who actually have a slightly more vested interest in schools) till the end of the year.   (Thanks to a reader for this tip.) This also makes me wonder, for the umpteenth time, what is the working schedule for people at Central Administration?  Do they work full-time during the school year and half-time during the summer (or not at all)?  I honestly don't know except that headquarters is a ghost town during the summer.  Anyone? The Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens invites older adults to attend a coffee hour with Dr. Susan Enfield, Interim Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. Learn how Seattle's K-12 schools prepare children and youth for the future, and current opportunities and challenges. For mor

Saturday Community Meetings

I note that Directors DeBell and Patu have Community meetings this morning.  As well, Dr. Enfield is having a meeting this morning with Fillipino parents and community. If you attend any of these events, let us know what you hear. The Board finally gets back on track with Board meetings this coming Wednesday, May 4th.  Here is the agenda .   And, in the category of colliding issues, there will be an appreciation for teachers as it is Teacher Appreciation Week AND they will introduce the motion for RIFing.

Support Learning During the Summer

Seattle Public Schools is hosting several workshops Saturday, May 14 that will provide families with tools and information to support their children's learning during the summer. The " Building Bridges: Workshops Connecting Families and Schools " will run from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at Garfield High School. For more information, please read this news release .

Friday Open Thread

Dr. Enfield on KUOW's Weekday this morning. Royal wedding. Whatever you want to discuss.

Education News Roundup

What the word? First up, the hacked grades story in the Times.  Right now it looks like it's at Chief Sealth, Ballard and Ingraham (all corners of the city).  Apparently some kids are blabbing about this and I'm sure someone is going to get caught.  (I love when kids think they will never get caught and then go tell someone what they did.  Kids, loose lips sink ships.)  The Times also reported that the City signed a deal with the Space Needle Corp for a  Chihuly glass exhibition hall.  This includes a $1M for a children's playground (yay for kids) and again, some kind of educational tie-in with SPS. The deal was sweetened with the addition of the playground, as well as arts-education programs at the Chihuly museum in partnership with Seattle Public Schools and other arts organizations. The New York Times had a story about rigor in high school classes.  This idea is taking on Supreme Court visions akin to what the definition is of pornography  (Justice Potter Stewa

Turn Your Back for Just a Minute...

I have been out of town (unexpectedly) dealing with elder care issues for my mother.  Can I just offer some advice before I move on to education issues? 1) wondering what field your children can find jobs doing in the future?  Remember The Graduate's word was "plastics"?   The word for this generation is..." geriatrics ."  Remember that.  There will be work in all directions for anyone who wants a job because senior care cannot be outsourced, is very individual and hands-on and is multi-faceted.  From medical to technical to social work to management - you name it, there's a job in geriatrics. And, there's going to be millions of baby boomers who need help AND these are people who are likely to live a long,long time. These are not old people; these are elderly people (and there is a difference).   Tell your child to just figure out all the ins and outs of Medicare and they have a job for life.  If you think education is confusing, try elder care.

Grade Books Hacked

From The Stranger SLOG, Seattle Schools Students Steal Teacher Passwords, Alter Grades . It appears that some half clever students attached a device, called a keylogger, to teachers' computers. The keylogger, which gets installed between the keyboard and a USB port, records every key stroke on the keyboard. The keylogger can then be read to reveal the key strokes, including IDs and Passwords. Apparently the teachers' ID and Passwords were used to log into the grading system and alter grades.

The Future - Professional Teacher Version

Let's just get this straight from the start. All students are capable of learning. Except for the few with cognitive disabilities, all of them are capable of working at grade level, which is regarded as developmentally appropriate. In fact, they are capable of far more. Some students have been well-prepared for school and some have not. Those who have been well-prepared need to be challenged to meet all of the minimum grade level expectations and then go beyond them. Those who have not been well-prepared need some additional support to allow them to also meet all of the minimum grade level expectations and then go beyond them. Every student is well-prepared in some ways and to some degree and poorly prepared in other ways to some degree. In short, they are each unique individuals. Identifying individual student needs and providing those students with the lessons and support they need is the professional work of teachers. Teachers employ their training, their expertise, their

Follow Up Update

Over four months ago the staff promised quick changes to the School Reports. The changes have not been made and no one talks about them anymore. The Board has yet to ask about them. The interim superintendent and the Board have been promising more transparency and engagement since the change in leadership on March 2. Since that day not one action brought before the Board has had any community engagement. The new superintendent uses a new Board Action Report template that doesn't have a community engagement section. There's no noticable increase in transparency either. The projected enrollments at schools used for budget purposes is significantly smaller than the projected enrollment at schools for the capacity management and enrollment planning purposes. The difference has not been explained. There has been no report to the Board of program placement decisions for 2011-2012. It is long overdue. I know the decisions were made, but they were never reported to the Board as t

The Future - Education Reform Version

It seems to me that the goals of Education Reform are primarily to bring the increases in productivity (and cost reductions) seen in other industries to the education industry. The greatest obstacle to the effort to cut the cost of education is teacher salaries. The cost of education cannot be cut until the cost of teaching is cut. The Education Reform movement seeks paths to cutting the cost of teaching. While technology has allowed for amazing radical increases in productivity in nearly every other industry, teaching is still, for the most part, done exactly as it was done in pre-industrial times: face-to-face with a personal relationship between a professional teacher and a limited number of students. For there to be any improvement in productivity (and reduction in cost), this model must be broken. Education Reform is pursuing four paths to increase productivity (and thereby reduce costs). 1. The de-professionalization of teaching. Teachers are professionals. They are expect

Meetings for Week of April 25-29, 2011

Back to school, kids. Monday Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting from 4-6 p.m.  The agenda includes: SEA tentative agreement on calendar (this may be about the shortened Mid-Winter break) textual materials adoption for high school science, social studies, middle school LA and elementary music anti-harassment policy and procedure promotion/retention policies homework policies credit/retrieval/summer opportunities Tuesday Latino College Night, a workshop to prepare students for college, 6-8:30 p.m., Rainier Beach High School.  Dinner is provided.  Workshop topics include: high school graduation requirements vs. college entrance requirements; post-secondary options; and funding post-secondary education. Wednesday Two School Board Work Sessions 4-5:30 p.m. - Budget 7-7:30 p.m. - Governance Policies

April Executive Committee Meeting

The information comes from the April 13th meeting of the Executive Committee.  The three Committee members - DeBell, Sundquist and Smith-Blum -  were in attendance.

Daring and Thought-Provoking Senior Project

As you are probably aware, all Seattle seniors have to complete a year-long senior project as one of SPS' graduation requirements.  One young woman in Toppenish took a decided risk and went for broke on hers - she pretended to be pregnant for 6 months. Right there, makes you think, right?  Gaby Rodriguez is a 17 year-old honors student at Toppenish High School.  She told her mother, her boyfriend and her principal but didn't tell teachers and other students, 6 of her 7 sibs nor her boyfriend's parents about her social experiment.  She revealed the secret in an all-school assembly. From the story in the Seattle Times: The topic of her presentation: "Stereotypes, rumors and statistics." "Teenagers tend to live in the shadows of these elements," she says. Before removing her fake belly in front of the entire student body, she told her audience: "Many things were said about me. Many ... traveled all the way back to me." Then, she a

Garfield High Athletic Director Fired

Athletics at Garfield hasn't been going very well this year. First there was an investigation into the football coaches playing ineligible players and the outcomes from that.  Now comes word via a Seattle Times story that the Athletic Director, Jim Valiere, has been fired after a long investigation. From the Times: The action was taken because of "inappropriate and unprofessional behavior" and "violation of district policies," according to an April 11 termination letter to Valiere from Susan Enfield, Seattle Public Schools interim superintendent. The letter was obtained by The Seattle Times under the Freedom of Information Act. In addition to being blamed for allowing ineligible student-athletes to play, the letter said Valiere misused district funds, disregarded policy and provided grades students didn't earn. The investigation also alleged that Valiere misled the KingCo Conference and Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (W

Open Thread Friday

There are no School Board community meetings tomorrow.   Have a Hoppy Easter.

Just Say No, Newark

Thank you to Dora Taylor for the heads up.  Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is one of two finalists for the superintendent job in Newark, New Jersey (the other is a TFA person).  The story is at Apparently Dr. Goodloe-Johnson wouldn't go on record with the press about what happened here in Seattle but the recorded interview captured this: "The board terminated my contract without cause," she told the group, immediately bringing up the finance issue "They decided, I think, based on a lot of things — I think politics, reform, union pushback." Her Broad pal, flack Tom Payzant, says she's one of the best urban superintendents in the country.  The proof of that is nowhere to be seen but apparently he thinks if he says it enough, it will be true. You know, Maria, it's not a good idea to misrepresent the past but like I say, we all need one good rationalization to get us through the day.  Yours seems to be that you are blameless in everything. Interesti

Crosscut Education Op-Eds

There were a couple of new op-eds in Crosscut this week.

Some Good News From the District (But Also Puzzling)

First up, congratulations to Green Lake secretary, Debbie Passi , the Washington Education Association's Educational Support Professional of the Year.  Also, congratulations to Sandi Whiton, the Academic Intervention Specialist at Chief Sealth High School who received an award from the private college, Whitman.  Her award is called the Distinguished Elementary/Secondary Teacher Award and is given at their commencement exercises to honor an outstanding teacher who contributes significantly to the intellectual development of students.  My puzzlement comes from two places.  One, Ms. Whiton is an academic intervention specialist and what does that mean?  This is something every middle and high school should have.   As I mentioned previously, at the Alliance Breakfast they showed a Denny Middle School video that mentioned an "early incident specialist" who works there.  So obviously these intervention employees exist at some schools but which ones and how do the schools pa

New Superintendent, New Hagiography from the Times

You knew it was coming, and it arrived today: the Seattle Times hagiography of the new superintendent of Seattle Public Schools: For interim Seattle school chief, a moment to shine

Pay for K? Meet Pay for Play

When we last left Pay for K in November, the district hadn't been able to figure out what money had come in or even who was supposed to be paying.   At a later Audit and Finance Committee meeting, it appeared more under control but the handout still didn't explain if they had fully implemented it and were receiving all the money due to the district. On the heels of that comes another snafu, this time with Pay for Play which is for students who want to participate in competitive athletics in high school.  (This is not for PE or intramural sports.)   The old fee was $50 for the first sport and $25 for the second sport (with a cap at $75 for 3+ sports).  The Board approved raising the fee for this year.   I believe that the new fee was $100 for the first sport and $30 for the second (again, with a cap at $130 for 3+).  (Still checking on this because the new website has old data and no one answers at the School Board office but it was raised.) All students also have to pay an

City Year

Do you know about City Year ?  I had vaguely heard of it and, of course, if you see a City Year member, you see a young person in a bright red varsity jacket and khakis.   They were particularly noticeable at the recent forum on SPS put on by Seattle Channel.  I recently sat down and interviewed the head of City Year Seattle, Simon Amiel, about who City Year is and what they do in SPS. After talking with Simon, I was very impressed and I want to raise awareness and support for City Year.  The reason I feel strongly about this is because in our high-need schools,  they are doing exactly what I would like to see happen throughout the district.  They are: in schools all day tutoring students building relationships with students and staff and community being role models to students This is the kind of intimate and direct intervention that many of these students need. First, from their website, a little background information: Twenty years ago, City Year was found

Board Testimony for May

I'm working on my testimony for the board meeting coming up in May. I will be talking about the approval of the minutes of the previous meeting. In that meeting there were twelve motions brought and not one of them had any community engagement. The board pitched a twelve inning shut-out. That calls for recognition. I'm thinking of making up these really nice certificates for the Board members in honor of their special achievement in suppressing public input. The certificates will be nice enough to hang on the wall, or they could show them to the Alliance for Education as a sign of good faith and their sincerity after the Board had the bad taste to fire Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. Given that the new Board Action Report template has dropped the community engagement section and with the summer is coming up, I think the Board is capable of breaking Hershiser's record. I think they could shut out the public for sixty consequetive motions. They are certainly capable of it. We'll

Seattle Schools Story in Crosscut

Crosscut publishes a lot of thoughtful pieces on Seattle Public Schools, mostly by Dick Lilly. They recently published one by Melissa Westbrook .

Echos from Chicago

Rahm Emanuel, the mayor-elect of Chicago, just appointed a new head of schools.  Jean-Claude Brizard comes from Rochester, NY schools and is a Broad superintendent.   From the Huffington Post: Brizard, a native of Haiti, embodies two types of urban superintendents. On the one hand, he’s a former principal with masters' degrees in school administration and science education. He’s a product of the classroom who went on to follow a traditional path of school management, serving as a regional superintendent of New York City schools. On the other hand, he’s a graduate of the Broad Foundation’s Superintendents Academy -- a program that stresses the corporate-tinged, charter-school championing policies emphasized by the Obama administration -- that is much maligned by teachers unions. His tenure saw improved graduation rates and higher test scores in math and English, but was also marked by clashes with teachers' unions over a push for increased charter schools and me

TFA's Wendy Kopp on KUOW Today

The 10 am hour of Weekday on KUOW 94.9 FM will feature the head of TFA, Wendy Kopp.  This is interesting that Ms. Kopp does not appear to be here on a book event and she was here just last month.  I'm thinking this is about setting up shop (with money from the Gates Foundation) and firing up the troops. I predict a huge call-in.  Call 543-KUOW or e-mail We'll talk after the show.

Odds and Ends

Several quick thoughts on various events/items in the newspaper.

Audit and Finance Committee Meeting Tuesday

I was only able to hit two of the four Board committee meetings last week (and not the work session either but Charlie covered that one).  I went the the Audit portion of the Audit and Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday.  This was a good meeting and especially so because of the arrival of the A&F's two new volunteer public advisors (looking for one but got two and that's even better).

News Roundup

One article is about the growing number of colleges and universities that are admitting students but not right away; the student has to wait for a semester or even a year.  The admission is gauged on the student going to another college or university and maintaining a certain GPA.

What Would Make You Happy?

In the Org Chart thread , Reader suggested that I'm impossible to please and that there is nothing that the District could do that would make me happy. I responded with a list of 11 things the District could do that would make me happy. They are all things that the District has said that they would do but have not done. Therefore I don't consider them unreasonable expectations. I'm not the only grumpy gus on this blog, however, so let's see other folks answer that question: What would could the District do that would make you happy?

New Org Chart - New Titles - New People - Same Old Problems

Dr. Enfield has re-arranged the org chart at the JSCEE. Here is the new org chart . She has also changed some of the job titles. None of this really changes anything. It appears pointless. It is, however, consistent with her stated priorities for the remainder of the year. She said that she would focus on: 3. Creating a central office that serves and supports schools • Reorganizing departments across finance, operations, and teaching and learning with a clear focus on being a results-driven organization. The only part of it that strikes me as even interesting - not necessarily significant, but interesting - are these two elements: 1. The Executive Directors of the Schools report to the Superintendent, not to the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. Since the principals report to the Executive Directors for Schools and the teachers report to the principals, there aren't any school-based staff who report to Dr. Thompson. She is not the boss of them. She can

Open Thread Friday

 Update (via reader Salander) - The head of HR, Ann Chan, just five months into her job has resigned.   Now interim CFO, Robert Boesche, is in charge.  I think the question is - who IS in charge down there?  So we lost the head of Facilities.   (At least in that position - I have a feeling they may keep Mr. Martin on temporarily to guide the BEX III projects which was his previous position.  But at some point, he needs to go permanently.) Also, today is the last day for Open Enrollment which closes at 4:00 p.m.   Community meetings on Saturday Director Martin-Morris - at Diva Espresso (Lake City) from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Director Maier - at Bethany Community Church (across from Bagley Elementary) from 10:30-noon.

TFA News and Facts

I'm not sure if some of these facts have yet been spelled out on the blog. Maybe they have; maybe they haven't. Even if they have, they merit repetition. 1. Seattle Public Schools has hired a recruiter who is a former Teach for America corps member. There is reason to believe that this person views TfA favorably and may promote TfA corps members to schools making hiring decisions. I'm not entirely sure what a recruiter's job is, but it may include filtering the hiring pool and rejecting some applicants before the hiring committees at the schools get to see them. I am tempted to apply for a teaching job, just to see if I am rejected out of hand due to my lack of a teaching certificate. If I am, then I wonder why Teach for America corps members would not also be rejected out of hand on the same basis. 2. We have been told that Teach for America corps members will only be considered during the Tier 3 hiring period, after transferring and RIFed teachers have already bee

Head of Facilities Ousted

As I mentioned in a previous thread, another high level manager has left the district.  The story is in the Seattle Times. A top-level executive who took over the Seattle Public School's facilities department after it was rocked by scandal that led to the superintendent's ouster is losing his job in what the district describes as a management reorganization. William "Bill" Martin, who was promoted into the $142,000-a-year job of executive director only three months ago, acknowledged that his management style is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the district. What does this all mean?  No head of Facilities?  Ongoing investigation of a "management" style?  But, he might remain with the district.  Okay, so too rough for the head of the department, just right somewhere else.   Boy, does Pegi McEvoy now have a lot on her plate - COO and now Facilities.  And - Martin's promotion during the scandal had some scratching their heads.

Couple of SPS Updates

I think there may be an announcement soon of another top-level management person leaving the district.  My sources tell me this is pending.  I don't see any announcement yet at the SPS website.   I'll keep you updated.  Also, there was this somewhat curious announcement at the website: Seattle Schools' policy on religious holiday celebrations: Seattle Public Schools has been receiving numerous questions regarding the District's policy on the celebration of religious holidays. We have a "Religion and Religious Accommodation" policy, approved by the School Board in 1983, stating that "no religious belief or non-belief should be promoted by the School District or its employees, and none should be disparaged." There are no new District policies on religion or holiday observance guidelines. For more information, Religious Holiday Observances Guidelines Religion and Religious Accommodation Policy Not sure why the district felt the need to

Let's Not Forget Why We Don't Have Education Dollars

So this thread is a bit of mind-wandering on my part but maybe you can tease out something to comment on.  It came from a couple of places.  One was this that a friend wrote on his Facebook page: "Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither."

State Balances Budget on the Backs of Teachers

Here's the story from the Seattle Times: Senate's school cuts get low grades from Gregoire, educators . I like the way that the Governor thinks she can save her reputation by acting upset, pouting, and stamping her little feet - but without actually taking any meaningful action to prevent the cuts to education. She's not fooling anyone. I don't mind that she's ineffectual, but I'm insulted that she thinks we will confuse this act with actual opposition. Who are the legislators who are looking to make cuts to education while preserving special tax breaks for favored industries and businesses? Oh, right, all of them.

Strategic Plan Refresh

I attended the first half-hour of the Strategic Plan Refresh work session yesterday before I had to leave. I don't think I missed anything. The meeting was an utter waste. The staff trotted out a bunch of meaningless jargon and the Board acted like bobbleheads. There was nothing to decide and damn little to even talk about. There was no serious discussion of what is in the Strategic Plan, how it is working, what it costs, or whether we should continue it. The District staff still refuses to provide a comprehensive list of the projects and initiatives in the Strategic Plan. The list of projects and initiatives continues to be in flux. New efforts magically appear while others sink out of sight. The Audit Response, for example, is now a Strategic Plan project, but STEM and capacity management have slipped off the list. This is really frustrating. I don't understand how the Board tolerates it. I want to see what I was promised: The final words of the Strategic Plan, sa

Campaign on Behalf of Elementary Counselors

From a reader: We are organizing a letter-writing campaign on the counselors issue, since we have limited opportunities for public comment before the RIF. Basically, we are asking people to write letters to Dr. Enfield, cc'd to the Board, with two basic sentences: Our counselor has helped our child by ____. To pay for elementary counselors, I think we should cut ____. Please join the fray and forward to other parents who would be interested! Dr Enfield - School Board -

Out There Working in the Community

I have a couple of items to note about work I'm doing around Seattle public education.

Dr. Enfield Answers Questions on Questionland Today

Today is the day that Dr. Enfield will be answering questions posted for her on Questionland . She will reportedly answer at least ten questions. It's not too late to add questions or vote for your favorites.

State Sentate Passes Education Reform Bill

The State Sentate yesterday passed a sort of omnibus Education Reform bill, HB 1443 . The bill puts teachers with unsatisfactory ratings at the head of the line for layoffs. Principals, too, although I cannot remember a time when the District ever had to RIF principals. But the bill doesn't stop there. It's a regular Christmas tree of Education Reform bullet points: * It adopts the Common Core Standards * It reforms the requirements for high school credit * It requires the use of a kindergarten readiness assessment * It includes some meaningless stuff about drop-out prevention * It includes some even less meaningful stuff about fully funding education If this monster passes the house - and they started it - there will be a whole lot of stuff that the State dictates schools and districts must do, right down to spending on facilities maintenance per student. The bill now goes back to the House for approval of the amendments. Here is an AP story about it that appea

School Board Meeting Recap

I'm behind on this one and I forgot about something happening today - it's National Library Week and today a picture is going to be taken in every Washington state library.  I hope the schools put this word out and got kids in their school library for the photo.  My apologies.

Proposed Bus Arrival Times

The district has put out the bus arrival/departure times for next year.    It doesn't say preliminary or draft at the top but I don't think this has been signed off on yet.  I believe the final decision will come in early May.  Note:  the bell times will be somewhat variable as the listed times are for BUSES, not bell times.  The schedule says that " morning start times are generally 15 minutes after bus arrival.  Afternoon end times are generally 5-10 minutes prior to the bus departure .) I don't see a lot of change at the high school level (although it seems that Cleveland has a slightly longer day than other schools starting at the same time.)  I note that West Seattle used to start at 8:10 am and it appears they will start around 7:50 am. All of the K-8s start around 9:10 am with middle schools starting around 7:50 am (except for Jane Addams at 8:20 am and Denny with a TBD designation).    The outliers are Pinehurst which ends 10 minutes earlier than the

Gregiore signs end-of-course test graduation requirement

Here is the story from the Seattle Times: Gregoire signs end-of-course math assessment change The test/graduation requirement pathways are so chopped up now that I don't think anyone can recite them. It's something different for every graduating class from now for the next six years.

Tell Your Search for K-12 School on KUOW

From KUOW's The Conversation producer, David Hyde: We’re doing a show tomorrow that’s tentatively titled, “what are you doing to get your kid into K-12 school? (public or private).”  I’m looking for people who can tell us their personal stories on the air sometime between 12:40 and 1 pm tomorrow.  If you know anyone with an interesting story to tell please pass this on, and I can call in the morning to discuss it (between 9 and 10:30 am).  I would need two numbers:  the 12:40 and 1 pm number (land line).  And the morning / backup cell number. Or if any of your blog readers is interested, they can call our feedback line and leave a message (with contact information) @ 206 221 3663.   

Who Are We Really Waiting For?

Timothy Hacsi, an assistant professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, wrote an timely op-ed on districts and their leadership.  Entitled, " Stop Waiting for a Savior, "  I think this is its most cogent point: The problem is all the time we spend talking about how the last leader failed, how the current leader is struggling, how the next leader must succeed. 

Reminders and Good News

Just to remind you that Open Enrollment ends this Friday, the 15th at  4 p.m .  Postmarks do NOT count.  Here's a link to the enrollment page for more info. Also, know an outstanding educator or education volunteer?  KCTS Channel 9 is accepting nominations for their Golden Apple Award .  Any person contributing time or services in Washington state schools from pre-K through grade 12 can be nominated. Nominations can be made online at or you can request a nomination form by calling (800) 766-0900. Nomination forms must be postmarked by April 30.   The Good News - Washington Middle School student, Deanta Kelly, won the Regional Spelling Bee for King and Snohomish Counties and will advance to the Nationals (it appears there isn't a state championship).  It looks grueling with 3 rounds over 2 days in Washington, D.C. in June.   Deanta won on the word "obfuscatory." I can't spell well at all so I am always very impressed with gre

Education Bloggers Get Attention from the White House

Following up on the reports of President Obama's remarks about standardized test comes an article in the NY Times about what some bloggers wrote and the White House reaction.

Meetings This Week

Tuesday Audit and Finance Committee Mtg , 4-6 p.m.   This meeting will focus on Audit issues.  There are several debriefings like IA meetings with the City, discussion with Don McAdams (a district consultant), salary benchmarks and internal audit manager posting.  Wednesday Executive Committee Mtg , 8 am-10am.   Quite a packed agenda .   Materials adoptions for LA, Social Studies and music instruction, academic calendars, consulting services for TIF, ethics agreement with the City and partnering with the City, community engagement, and a raft of discussion items like superintendent evaluation, CFO/COO search process, protocol for following up on public testimony (really?) and much more.  There's also some sort of amendment to a contract at Denny/Sealth to rebuild the previously torn out tennis courts/softball field.  (You remember this one - it's a rebuild of something we paid for under BTA II.)  Looks like more money. It's a jammed packed two hours and I say, good l

Physical Science in High School

Note: I pulled this out of one thread because I thought it important for parents to see and let their views be known to someone in SPS in a position to do something about it.  Thank you to Maureen from TOPS for this info. If anyone thinks their 8th grader is prepared to skip 9th grade Physical Science (Seattle Girls' School? TOPS? Others?), please email the High School PTSA and Science Director, Elaine Woo (, and let them know right now. You can also email me at maureen at germani dot org so we can coordinate. TOPS grads cover 100% of the 9-12 Physical Science standards and at least 75% of the 9-12 Life Sciences standards. Their teacher is certified K-12. There has never been a reason (or a way?) to make sure they get HS credit for what they cover but I spoke with Elaine Woo yesterday about the possibility of piloting a HS level Physical Science class at TOPS (not that I have to authority to do anything about it). It makes more sense to allow

Capacity Management Work Session, Part 2

As I started this thread, I went to look for the handouts that were available.  Here is the link to the agenda for the handouts.  However, I am very annoyed that I cannot easily locate the one that I thought was the most interesting.  What this means is tomorrow I have to call Tracy and then have someone send me the link because, of course, you can't find a darn thing at the new website.  This also means sending a letter to the Susan Enfield (and the Board)  to request that every single thing staff hand out be posted.   (Sorry to be grumpy but it's tiresome to have to do this multiple times in a week.)  More on the interesting handout at the end of this thread. 

Community Meetings Today

Anyone attend Sherry or Steve's community meeting today?  Any feedback?

Update on Pottergate

I attended an event on Thursday by a group called First Thursday which is a black community group that supports its community businesses and groups.  Their speaker was King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.  I attended because it was advertised that he would speak about Pottergate.

I Met with Dr. Enfield

I had a half-hour meeting with Dr. Enfield on Friday. At first I had this long outlined list of topics of concern, but it simply wasn't realistic. Instead, I chose to focus the meeting on a single concern: What is the mission of the academic side of the Central Office? I'm not usually interested in Mission Statements. In fact, I freakin' hate them because they are useless and typically create unreasonable expectations. Just the same, I think people should know what they are trying to do. We know the District's mission - to educate Seattle's students. That work is done primarily in the schools. The mission of the schools - to educate students - no different from the District mission. The Central Office has two sides: Operations and Academics. The mission of the Operations side is also clear - to take on all of the non-academic work to free the schools to focus on academics. But what is the mission of the academic side of the Central Office? What academic task

Capacity Management Work Session, Part 1

Upfront, I want to get a few things off my chest from what I heard at both the Work Session and the Board meeting.  I'm going to write this opinion and then move on to what was said at the Work Session and Board meeting.

Call for Parents/Teachers who Face School Closures

A radio producer for KBCS radio is looking for a parent and/or teacher whose school got closed.  She interested in: How do they handle that, logistically and emotionally? Did they decide to leave the public school system entirely? Here's her contact info if you are willing to share your experience. Heidi Lang Managing Producer, Voices of Diversity Community Radio KBCS 91.3FM 206.909.0044 What:  Voices of Diversity is a weekly talk show that addresses issues with a panel of guests.The show seeks to tell the untold stories in our community as well as celebrate the diversity of cultural expression found in the Northwest. Guests on Voices of Diversity address issues such as racism, sexism and homophobia, as well as the realities of life for vulnerable populations like immigrants and homeless people. Voices of Diversity seeks to literally give voice to those not often heard on the airwaves and to that end, trains community members in radio skills and inde


Couple of quick Olympia updates.

Open Thread Friday

Not a good week for ed reform.  Michelle Rhee's empty suit is slowly unraveling, in NYC Chancellor Cathie Black made a hasty exit and, to the chagrin of the Department of Education,  President Obama went off-script in a speech talking about his daughters' testing.  (Thread to follow) And, Spring is bustin' out all over!

Missing Child Alert

From the Queen Anne View blog : A 13-year-old Queen Anne boy has been missing since yesterday, Wednesday, April 6. Brad George, who lives at the McGraw Residential Center, part of the Seattle Children’s Home , was last on Wednesday at 11:40 a.m. seen near the center, at 10th and McGraw, according to his mother Gina Latshaw. Brad is 5’1”, 128 pounds, a medium build with blue eyes, dark brown hair and light complexion. He was last seen wearing black shorts,  a teal thermal shirt and purple Converse shoes. Brad is prone to seizures, and takes daily anticonvulsants medication. Without his medication Brad’s caregivers warn that he may become confused or have unusual episodes. If you have seen Brad, or have any information about his whereabouts, please call Seattle Police at 206-683-8917, or call 911 and reference PD Case Number 11-109938. His parents must be worried sick.  Please keep an eye out for a boy with this description and let others know about him as well.  Th

Heads Up for Friday and Saturday Meetings

 Update: the BEX Oversight Committee meeting for tomorrow has been CANCELED .   (Not enough for a quorum so I guess they really need those new members.) Friday In case anyone is interested and available, the next BEX Oversight Committee meeting is tomorrow morning (Friday, 4/8) from 8:30 am-10:30 am at headquarters upstairs in room 2750.  (Sign in at the front desk and they give you a code for access to upstairs.  Take a left after you exit the stairwell or elevator.  Sit along the side of the room.  Agendas and minutes are on the table.  Coffee is for the members.) One of the issues that will be discussed is bringing in some new members to the Committee.  I will report back on that issue and I hope some of you consider applying.  They need a broader view.  Also, it was interesting because the head of Facilities, Bill Martin, at the last meeting, seemed to think that staff would pick these new members.  A little amusing that he would think he could appoint people to oversee his

Genius, Absolute Genius

Thanks to a reader for a tip-off to this well-written and hilarious piece by Gene Lyons of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette which came via Salon.  I needed a laugh and this delivered.  It is entitled Michelle Rhee; Education Reform Huckster .

That Was Fast

From Crain's , Cathleen Black, the newly installed Chancellor of Schools in NYC, has resigned.    No big surprise because: Ms. Black ascended to the city's top education post last fall amid heavy criticism that she was not a suitable choice. She had no professional background in education and no direct experience with the city's public school system, having sent her children to boarding school in Connecticut.  Critics said her only qualification was that she traveled in the same high-powered Manhattan circuit as Mr. Bloomberg. It was only after the Bloomberg administration struck a deal with the state Board of Regents that Ms. Black was granted a waiver (for not having the required education experience) that she was allowed to become chancellor.  In that deal, a largely unknown former principal and education administrator was appointed to the newly created post of chief academic officer. It was hoped that Shael Polakow-Suransky would silence critics and a

Reflections on Standardized Testing Forum

I attended the forum on standardized testing on Monday night at Thornton Creek Elementary.  There were about 40 people there including parents and teachers.  I sure wish more people had attended as it was a great discussion.  I wish someone from the district could have been there to see that this is how you have a public discussion.  Kudos and thanks to Chris Stewart for putting this on (and her speakers as well).

Voting for What Enfield Will Answer

So I guess you guys (and others) sent in a lot of questions to the upcoming Stranger Slog Questionland featuring Dr. Enfield on April 13th.  She has committed to answering 10 questions (and so far there are 35).  V ote for which ones she will be answering.    There are lots of good questions (and you can still submit one as well). 

Two Education Opinion Pieces in the Times

First, there is another education column by Lynne Varner. Class size matters — but some things matter more She tries to take a reasoned, moderate position but swings and misses. Then, a guest column by two state legislators, Rodney Tom and Joseph Zarelli. This was probably actually written by a flak at one of the various education reform organizations, but they get the byline. They tout a bill in the legislature SB5914, which, they say, would require reductions in force to be based on teacher performance, not seniority; allow principals to approve teacher placements in the lowest-performing schools; and allow administrators to initiate due process to remove ineffective teachers in a timely manner. It also would link National Board Certification bonuses to teacher evaluations after the first two years; phase in performance bonuses by adjusting salaries to reflect the latest research on improving student performance; and eliminate district salary enhancements benefiting only 12 o

News Flash - TIF Consultant Contract Action Deferred

I just had a call from the School Board office. Action on the TIF consultant contract has been deferred to the May 4 meeting. Here is a link to the updated agenda for the April 6 meeting. This is a positive sign for the Board and their effectiveness as a governance and oversight body.

District Administration Magazine - That's Their Story and They're Sticking To It

When we last left the discussion of District Administration magazine, they had published an article by former Boston schools' superintendent, Tom Payzant, about how urban superintendents are not being given a long enough tenure to see real results.  Professor Payzant used our district as an example and wrote a revisionist history of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's stay here in Seattle.  (And mind you, there are more than a few Board members who agreed that the article was off the mark.  They, too, do not want to see themselves painted as being bullied and weak.)  Charlie and I (and at least a few other readers) wrote to the editor to complain.  One of our main complaints was that Professor Payzant did not disclose in his article that (1) he knows Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, (2) was brought out to conduct her Board evaluation and (3) that he and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson are both professionally affiliated with the Broad Foundation.  That might have given some readers pause had they known those fact

Discussion of UW Admissions on KUOW

The Conversation on KUOW this afternoon (that's NOW 12:06 p.m.) is going to be about UW's admissions.  It looks like it will be on after 12:30 p.m. (they do about 12 minutes per segment).

Tough Luck, Kid

For all of the passion and strong opinion expressed on this blog - and I hear complaints about it - there is a broader spectrum of opinion expressed elsewhere. I read education stories in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Weekly, the Stranger, Crosscut and on other online sources and I read and participate in the reader comments that follow the articles. Some of the folks who comment on these sites give voice to some absolutely shocking sentiments. There are some who oppose the very idea of publicly funded education. There are others who are okay with the government funding education but don't think the government should be providing it. I read a lot of bumper-sticker thinking - folks who think the whole education failure can be solved by vouchers, charters, abolishing the teachers' union, or school choice. Only none of these solutions is actually workable and none of them will really make any difference. Scratch the surface of any of these solutions and you will find them to be