Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seattle Schools Student Assignment Info for 2011-2012

Here's a link to the SPS webpage.

The automatic enrollment/waitlist number is 252-0410 - you must have student's ID # and birthdate.

(Thanks to all for the updates.)  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Noodling Around the SPS Website

Just so we all keep up to date, looking at the district website, it appears we now have four Assistant Superintendents.  
  • Pegi McEvoy - Operations (interim)
  • Robert Boesche - Business and Finance (interim)
  • Cathie Thompson - Teaching and Learning 
  • Noel Treat - Deputy Superintendent (interim)
It states at the Superintendent's page:

The process of restructuring central office at the John Stanford Center has a near zero budget impact. 

What?  Cathie Thompson has a new job title and her old job is being filled by someone else.  Don Kennedy was COO/CFO and now those jobs are split into two.  Noel Treat isn't being paid more for his new workload?   So that statement about zero budget impact is a little hard to believe but like most statements about money in the district, no data is ever given.

Also, I see they are advertising for not only Cathie Thompson old job, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, but also for the additional Executive Director job.  

Also, just to keep up, the heads of Communications, Capital Projects and Human Resources are all new. 

Did I miss anyone?

RIFs (I'm Puzzled)

I may have missed something so please help me out if you know the answer to this confusion.

I was just putting in a public disclosure request for RIFs - the categories, schools and subjects (if secondary schools).  I wanted to give the request some context so I looked for the district's own numbers.

Here's my confusion.  First, there is one presentation from a work session on April 27th.   Then, there is one staff presentation from May 4th and one to the Board on May 5th.  The one on May 4th matches the April 27th Work Session presentation. But they don't match in numbers or categories with the May 5th one.

April 27th/May 4th both say they will RIF 30 certificated individuals (27.5 FTE).    It also says they will RIF 49 Classified staff (42.05 FTE - 13 SAEOP FTE and 36 paraprofessionals).   So if you wanted to add them all up, you get 79 people RIFed from throughout the district.  

But the May 5th one says 36 people certificated employees will be RIFed.   Linda Shaw's report in the Times said "about 30 teachers and 40 other employees."  

In both they say 8.5 "counselors" will be cut, with the May 4th saying 1.8 elementary, 3.7 middle and 3.0 high school.   However in the Board presentation of May 5th, it says 11 elementary counselors.  

I know there are RIFs in classified versus certificated and that may be the issue but why so many different presentations?  If I didn't know better, I'd think staff were trying to confuse the issue.

I wasn't here for any of this so I have no notes to fall back on.  I went to my go-to person, Dorothy Neville, but she's not available. 

Any thoughts?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Seattle Area Teacher Blog

From Salander:

Here is the blog I have just created for Seattle area teachers.

All are welcome to comment.

Seattle Schools Meetings Week of May 30th-June 3rd

No school, of course, for the Memorial Day holiday.  However, if you wish to speak at the Wednesday Board meeting, they are still counting Monday as the day they use to see who signs up.  So if you wish to speak at the Board meeting, do not wait until Tuesday (the next business day).  Sign up on Monday starting at 8 am, boardagenda@seattleschools.org or 252-0040.  I note a more sternly written instruction for being on the list:

Provide your "full legal name, topic you will be speaking on, telephone number, and email address.  If complete information is not provided, you will not be included on the list."

Interesting that "full legal name" stuff.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Goodloe-Johnson Applies to be Florida Education Commissioner (along with 18 other people)

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson continues to seek employment this time in Tampa Bay, Florida.  The deadline was May 25th but they are thinking of extending the period to Monday, June 6th.

The Commissioner of Education in Florida is the equivalent to the State Superintendent in Washington State.  He/she reports to the Governor as an agency head.  The salary range is $195k-275k.

Reading through the qualifications, I noted a few areas where Dr. Goodloe-Johnson might run into trouble:

• Inspires trust, possesses self-confidence, and models high standards of integrity.
• Possesses excellent communication skills and can effectively establish dialogue with all stakeholder groups.
• Is a “team player” who inspires others by example.
• Creates an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, open channels of communication and shared decision-making.

The TampaBay.com site says this:

We provided a partial list on Thursday evening. Here are the additional names provided this afternoon:
  • Oleh Bula, an Orlando charter school principal
  • Edward Hashey Jr., Manatee County school teacher
  • Maria Goodloe-Johnson, former Seattle schools superintendent (dismissed in a financial scandal in March)
  • Ellen Ryan, Nassau County school principal
  • Scott Whittle, Leon County school teacher
When reviewing my Google search, I saw this Florida education blog thread from March 2011 when the current Education Commissioner resigned.  The last line of the thread said this:
    Maybe the Broad Foundation has a candidate to fill this tall order.

    Scary.   Or, that blog also has the bead on the Broad Foundation's Superintendent Charm School.

    SPS News and Events

    According to the SPS website, Open Enrollment letters are to be mailed out Tuesday, May 31st.
    Update: The automatic enrollment/waitlist number is working. 252-0410 - you must have student's ID # and birthdate.  (Thank you to reader Laura for this info.)

    There will also be an online lookup tool and automated phone line that families can use to check assignment and waiting list status. These should be available by mid-day May 31, so check back here for the online link and phone number.

    Also, the district wants to remind families that there will be no SPS summer programs but there's a summer resource list .

    Free Youth Cardiac-Screenings at Garfield on Wednesday, June 1st from 8 am to 5 p.m.  These are in partnership with the Nick of Time Foundation.   The screening takes about 25 minutes.

    Screening packets are available at the Garfield office or Teen Health Clinic or can be downloaded.  You can also pre-register your child for a screening by email (jasmine.brooks@seattlechildrens.org) or call the Garfield Teen Health Clinic at 860-0480.  

    Rainier Beach High is having a Community Celebration at their school on Friday, June 3rd from 5:30-8 p.m.  Free food, student performances and other activities in the cafeteria and courtyard.

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    School Board Campaign News

    Charlie brought us up-to-date in a previous thread on School Board candidates.  I'd like to add some new information.

    First up, the King County Democrats had an endorsement meeting this past week.  None of the incumbents won an endorsement.  Apparently, Sherry's was the closest vote but she still lost. 

    Initially, both Michelle Buetow (Harium's announced challenger) and Kate Martin (Sherry's announced challenger) both won endorsement from the endorsement panel.  But they held a hand-count vote and Kate lost endorsement by a handful of votes.  Michelle retained her endorsement and was the only candidate for School Board endorsed.

    I have seen campaign letters from Steve Sundquist and Sherry Carr.  Both are somewhat disappointing.  Both are asking for early endorsements.  (FYI, Peter seems to have quite a large number of endorsements at this stage.) 

    Steve's is much shorter.   He points out the NSAP passed and new teacher and principal contracts with new assessments were also passed.  This is true and this is progress.  However,  his next category is "School and District Accountability and Transparency" and talks about school scorecards and "related resource allocations to drive school improvement."  I don't know what the latter references.  I can say that there aren't a lot of parents who either don't understand or have faith in the school scorecards.  I'm not sure I'd count that one.

    He also mentions "fiscal responsibility" which is "Continuing to make the difficult decisions required to remain financially solvent and live within our means in these difficult times."   If I were running against Steve, this is the one I would pound home.   Where was he when Potter was running around unfettered?  He and ALL the Board had opportunities to intervene and did not. 

    Sherry's campaign letter is a doubled-sided piece.  Among the accomplishments she points out:
    • investments like new textbooks (true to some degree) and "We have continued to invest in professional development, tools and support for teachers to ensure quality instruction in every classroom.  These changes benefit all students and are fundamental to closing the achievement gap."  This is assuming that all that needs to get done is on the teacher end.  Is that valid?
    • teacher/principal contracts, more students in AP, IB and Advanced Learning.  
    • "We have ensured financial stability in spite of the worst recession since the Great Depression."  First, they have to have a balanced budget so it's not like the Board has a choice.  Second,  I'm not sure that even Robert Boesche would say the district is completely financially stable.  "We worked together to successful minimize cuts to our classrooms."  Is that true?  Did this Board do everything they could have to keep cuts from the classroom?  I think that's up for debate.
    • "We have demonstrated real leadership."  Here she points to the NSAP, new transportation system saving money (but where did the savings go? never answered), closing schools(!) and reopening others(!) and taking care of the financial scandal.   I'm not sure she thought this paragraph through because it looks like a lot of flip-flopping.
    Still working on a candidate for Peter's spot and I hear there may be yet another challenger for Sherry Carr's spot. 

    In West Seattle, I also hear rumblings of a candidate or two but nothing firm yet.  I do think if every incumbent had 2 challengers, the positives would outweigh the negatives.  I also think that if a miracle happened (and I suspect it would be in West Seattle because Steve doesn't seem to be making people happy despite the warm feelings people have for him personally) and one incumbent got knocked out in the primary - now THAT would be a game-changer.

    Open Thread Friday

    RIFs.  Three-day weekend.  About 3 more weeks of school. 

    Teacher Assessments

    By request by a reader:

    Indeed, today I met a teacher friend that theoretically now confirms 3 local districts supposedly practicing the technique of giving negative evaluations to older (read "non-reform" and/or expensive) teachers to help force them out as a combo cost-saving/pro-reform move.

    What I am hearing is that while some schools are not having RIFs, many first-year teachers are not getting their contracts renewed.  (If they get an unsatisfactory in just one area, they're out.)  I have also heard that the teacher assessments are having a rough first implementation with some older teachers only getting one visit to review their performance and even stellar teachers are getting an "overall proficient" rating.  


    Parents, ask at your school about RIFs.  I'd like to develop a list of them.

    A Goal Without a Plan

    I spoke to someone last night and it reminded me of one of my greatest frustrations with Seattle Public Schools.

    I have been a school district activist for about 11 years. For all of that time the District's stated number one goal and priority has been to close the Academic Achievement Gap. Ask anyone in the district leadership what their primary goal or highest priority is and that will be named.

    So where is the plan to achieve that goal? There is none. They have never made one.

    What kind of organization - business, sports, government, non-profit, cultural, whatever - sets a goal, swears commitment to that goal, but never makes any kind of plan to achieve it? That's simply not credible.

    If the District were ever to write a plan to close the Academic Achievement Gap, they would do it by bringing every student up to Standards. And the only reasonable way to do that would be to identify every student who was working below Standards and give them the support they need to reach Standards. Yet, astonishingly, Seattle Public Schools doesn't do that. Why not?

    Why doesn't the community get in front of these people every day and demand that they develop and implement a plan to close the Academic Achievement Gap? If this is the District's highest priority, then why is it the first thing the District cuts from the budget? Summer school - cut. Elementary school counselors - cut. Interventions - never funded in the first place. Required interventions for struggling students - cut from the promotion/retention policy.

    We don't have a district-wide assurance of early and effective interventions for students working below grade level. How can that be? What could possibly be a higher priority than that?

    Calls for a specific plan to close the gap and calls for interventions needs a permanent spot at the top of the list of all of our demands.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    News Roundup (Local and National)

    Only one Director community meeting this Saturday.  That would be with Betty Patu from 10am-noon at Tully's, 4400 Rainier Avenue South.

    Walk to Math Follow-Up

    Fellow activist Dorothy Neville went deeper after the discussion around Walk to Math and penned this thread.

    I'd like to follow-up on the Walk-to-Math issue that I brought up at a recent Open Thread. I had heard Anna-Maria dela Fuente tell the board that Walk-to-Math was not ability grouping across classrooms, but rather students being instructed by a math specialist instead of their classroom teacher. Since I know some schools implement math instruction in ways that violate that, I gave the head's up.
    I have now contacted Anna-Maria. We corresponded in email and spoke on the phone. I can now clarify the situation as far as I know it.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Great Job, CPPS

    The stars aligned last night and Charlie and I were once again in the same place - the CPPS event on parent engagement at Lincoln High.  This event was great because there was evidence that the work CPPS is doing around parent engagement is reaching the right people. Also, I feel this may be a signal or a golden moment for parents to seize upon; this based on what the Superintendent had to say about parent input AND the CPPS idea of "training" parents to be advocates for their child.   I only wish this wasn't coming at the end of the school year when people are starting to dial back.

    Credit goes to all the CPPS staff but especially Stephanie Jones.

    Gentle Pressure, Relentlessly Applied

    I attended the CPPS annual meeting last night. Dr. Enfield spoke and talked around a number of questions. She didn't answer any of them, but she expressed a lot of enthusiasm about answering them in the near-term, but unspecified, future. In the context of her talk she introduced us to her new motto or slogan or modus operandi, or whatever: "Gentle Pressure, Relentlessly Applied."

    She got the motto from her former boss, Vicki Phillips of Portland Public Schools, but I like it anyway. I'm going to use it also. That's going to be my modus operandi as well. Going forward I will be in front of the Board and the District leadership at every opportunity and I will be in their email inboxes relentlessly applying gentle pressure. It will be grueling, but I think it has the potential to be as wearing on them as it is sure to be on me.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Teacher Pay Cut 1.9%

    The state legislature balanced their budget today, in part by cutting teacher pay by 1.9%.

    Given the contracts that the Districts have with the teachers, does this really result in a cut in teacher pay or does it result in a shift of 1.9% of the state's contribution to teacher pay from the state to the districts?

    From the story in the Times:
    Other cuts to K-12 education in the proposal include suspending two initiatives dealing with teacher pay and class sizes worth around $1 billion. Another $215 million is saved by eliminating other money to reduce K-4 class sizes.

    The Gates Foundation and Their Never-Ending Reach

    First off, bless Melinda and Bill Gates for being willing to give away money for world health and public education in the U.S.  I applaud anyone who steps up to help.  They are likely helping many people.

    However, we all know, as citizens in a city where we have more than one billionaire, that while philanthropy is a great thing, these people giveth...and they taketh.   The new mantra is "venture philanthropy" - they expect a return on their investment.  

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    SPS News Roundup ( the 6.3% Claim)

    Apparently the Alliance had an event at High Point Center this evening with Dr. Enfield, Steve Sundquist, and other district officials.  It was billed as an evening with Dr. Enfield. 

    More Tedium

    The Seattle Times has published yet another moronic editorial about Seattle Public Schools.

    This one reflects absolutely no knowledge or understanding of the test scores in our high schools, what those test scores mean, or what can be done to raise them.

    Every comment to the editorial so far takes the Times to task for their poor understanding.


    At some point we need to talk seriously with the people at the Times to discover their major malfunction. Why do they have such a broken perception of education issues? Are they unduly influenced by the District leadership? Are they unduly influenced by some local big shots like the Alliance for Education? Are they unduly influenced by some outside entity such as the Gates Foundation? Are they just not very bright? Have they just not given these matters much thought? What, exactly, is going on?

    It's not just that they write things from another perspective or that we don't agree politically; they have their facts wrong and their logic is dreadful. Is it a conscious choice or they just stupid? I can't tell.

    Sunday, May 22, 2011


    I hate to be so tedious about all of this, but the District still has not updated the School Reports as they promised to do in December.

    When I contacted Mark Teoh about this he wrote back to say that he would write to me the following week. That was three weeks ago, and I still have not heard from him.

    I have written to him and the Board, but still haven't heard back.

    Strategic Plan Survey

    The District invites the public to fill out a survey regarding District's Strategic Plan.

    Seattle Public Schools is updating and adjusting the Strategic Plan with input from teachers, principals, parents, families, and members of our community. Please visit the following survey link to provide feedback to Seattle Public Schools:


    The survey consists of 21 questions and will close on Tuesday, May 31. Responses to the survey will remain confidential and anonymous. For questions about the survey, please email performancemanagement@seattleschools.org.

    There are some trick questions here.

    1. As you envision Seattle Public Schools in the year 2013, for what would you like it to be widely known and respected?
    They list some possible responses, but I answered "providing interventions for struggling students, challenge for advanced learners, and rigor and support for all students."

    5. What kinds of supports can be provided to help all schools achieve academic excellence?
    Schools don't achieve academic excellence; students do. The schools should support struggling students with whatever unique need they each have.

    3. Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve our ability to monitor and evaluate student academic progress?
    It's a bad question. The District shouldn't be focused on monitoring student progress, but on taking action when students fall behind. Less monitoring, more action.

    2. Do you have any suggestions on how we can improve our ability to hire and retain the best teachers and principals?
    Stop low-balling the projected enrollments and manufacturing a need for RIFs.

    Meetings Week of May 23-27

    Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee, agenda. This is from 4-6 p.m.
    This agenda reflects issues that have been brought up before so I think it is an on-going discussion about previously discussed issues. These include Student Rights & Responsibilities, Families and Education levy, anti-harassment policy and procedure (students), high school graduation requirements policy, and high school grad and credit marking policy.

    Parent Engagement for the 21st Century: A CPPS Event
    Tuesday, May 24 6:30-8:30pm
    Lincoln High School Library
    4400 Interlake Avenue North
    Join us as we bring together parents, community members, and our education leaders to explore new possibilities for parent engagement. You’ll learn about our Parent Leadership Training and opportunities for you to make a difference in our schools.
    Dr. Susan Enfield - Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools - and her Regional Executive Directors will be our special guests. You won’t want to miss this!
    RSVP to: stephaniej@cppsofseattle.org or 206-604-4408

    Any other events this week you would like to let others know about?

    TFA - UW and SPS and Outcomes

    I have to thank so many of you for your input.  You don't know how many times someone either reaches out to me at my Save Seattle Schools e-mail (sss.westbrook@gmail.com) or writes something here that sticks in my brain.  It's like a phantom itch; it doesn't matter how much you scratch, you can't make it go away.

    So I think I have figured out (and some of you probably as well) why TFA is so damn sure they'll be putting their recruits into SPS.   That Wendy Kopp doesn't even try to demur should tell you something.  (Janis Ortega, the regional TFA director, does the same thing in her e-mails to the Dean of the UW's College of Education.   Funny, he never asks her why she's so sure.)

    They are sure because I would bet money that the district has a quiet agreement (beyond the contract) about TFA.  Here's how it will work:

    As many of you have point out, there are many schools (not just a couple) that the district projects as under-enrolled.  One of them is Garfield which, as we all know, is a laughable thought.  You couple this year's enrollment figures, look at historic neighborhood enrollment (you can extract that information from our previous choice assignment plan) AND the sky-is-falling capacity management projections and you KNOW there will be very few under-enrolled schools.

    But, if the district has a significant number of schools with projected under-enrollment, then they RIF at those schools.

    Come the first day of school, masses of students show up.  Whoops!  Oh my gosh, look at all those kids who need a teacher!

    Well, the first people they call are from within the district including the RIFs.  But the district knows by the first day of school few teachers either want to move from schools they are assigned to and few RIFed teachers will be available because they have moved on.  

    Who is left to plug the holes?  TFA recruits.  

    Works out well, no?  

    And, of course, then about in October, you know, right before the general election, Gates or someone suddenly gives a great gift or grant to the district and boy, do those incumbents shine.   I believe it's called a quid pro quo and yes, I absolutely believe it's going to happen.

    See, it would be one thing if the School Board, said, look, we won't promise TFA any jobs but they can interview and let the principals decide.  But that wouldn't have been good enough for TFA.  So there has to be some way to make sure it happens.  Well, if the district is going out of its way to make sure TFA comes in, I'm sure they want something back. 

    So we need to call the Board on this RIGHT NOW.   Again, ask them - why are SO many schools projected as under-enrolled?  

    Now, onto the UW and its College of Education which seems to have some real problems brewing. 

    As one commenter said, it is true that out of nowhere (because there was no hint of it at last Wednesday's meeting with grad students), the Dean has decided that there will be summer courses to allow their grad students to be done in time so they can be eligible to apply for any open Puget Sound teaching jobs in September.   Just like that. 

    Smell that?  That's the whiff of someone getting a little desperate.  I do believe that the Dean has had his cage rattled and he realized that he can't just steamroll the grad students and the faculty. 

    TFA always expects something. Always.   They act like they are doing someone a big favor and therefore, want something in return.  If they can get someone else to pay for stuff, they will.

    So what that means for example at UW is maybe these perks for TFA and only TFA students:
    • scholarships
    • "negotiated" tuition rates
    • deferred billing
    • stipends to cover their in-school classroom expenses
    These are items they have negotiated with other universities. 

    Do you think it fair for TFA recruits to get these benefits that UW College of Education grads don't get?  That regular UW undergrads don't get?   In these hard fiscal times, when UW is admitting fewer in-state students, TFA is importing mostly out-of-state students who get special breaks on tuition?  Do you know how many first-year teachers would love for someone to give them money for classroom needs? 

    But TFA, sure. 

    Those of you with high school students, is this fair for your child who might want to go to UW?  

    It's not. 

    (I'll wrap up with one last part on next steps and why I don't "hate" TFA.) 

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Candidates for School Board 2011

    There will be elections in four Director Districts. here are the candidates

    District I, North Seattle
    Peter Maier (Incumbent)

    District II, North Seattle
    Sherry Carr (Incumbent)
    Kate Martin

    District III, Northeast Seattle
    Harium Martin-Morris(Incumbent)
    Michelle Buetow

    District VI, West Seattle
    Steve Sundquist (Incumbent)
    Joy Anderson(?)
    Charita Dumas (?)
    Martha (Marty) McLaren (?)

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    UW and TFA - Part Two (Let the Right One In)

    Question: how is Teach for America like a vampire?  Now if you know your vampire lore, they have to be invited in.  And so it is for TFA.

    TFA didn't just ring up Dr. Goodloe-Johnson and say, "Hey, we have a swell program going.  Want to be part of it?"  No, they needed a facilitator.   The facilitator in this case is the Dean of UW's College of Education, Tom Stritikus (also former TFA alum).   He's the one who got the ball rolling.  And boy, he did it fast.

    From my last post that contained e-mails from my public disclosure request, we learned that he couldn't do enough for TFA.  Not just bringing them here, not just setting up a hidden (well at least from the public and his own students) partnership between UW and TFA but as he said the week of Sept. 13, 2010, "I am open to pursuing other ideas that would be helpful to TFA."  You have to wonder if he was actually aware he had a whole college of education to run.

    So what happened is that finally the students in the college learned about this partnership.  A meeting was set up with the Dean and the students for this past Wednesday.

    To set the scene, consider this: you are enrolled in what is considered a top college of education in the nation.  It is a rigorous Master's program where you take a year of courses and a year of in-school work complete with a mentor.  It could take longer than 2 years and, of course, it's going to cost you thousands of dollars.

    You learn that your own Dean has set up, with no discussion publicly (and very little with faculty), a partnership with a group that "trains" recruits for 5 weeks and sets them loose in their very own classrooms to be part of your college of education.

    How would YOU feel? 

    Open Thread Friday

    Fire and rehire - first Martin Floe and (hopefully) Cliff Mass.

    Two Community meetings tomorrow:
    DeBell - 9- 11 am at Cafe Appasionato
    Maier - 10:30 am-noon - Bethany Community Church

    Plus, the Superintendent meets with members of the Latino Community at El Centro de la Raza at 2524 16th Avenue S. from 9:30- 11am.

    Lastly, are you ready for tomorrow?  Got someplace for the pets to go?  Or, maybe conversely, looking forward to the extra room here on Earth?  You did know that The Rapture is happening tomorrow, right? So if you are not in those good numbers, well, it's going to be hell on earth.

    If I don't see you again, thanks for being part of the blog.  Otherwise, have a good weekend.

    We Want Cliff Mass!

    You'll have to read it to believe it.  KUOW has fired/let go UW professor Cliff Mass.   If you're not familiar with Professor Mass (he of the perfect radio voice), he did a regular feature on Friday mornings about the upcoming weather in the Puget Sound.  He usually added some kind of science feature to his work and it was usually related to the weather/science.  I actually didn't hear him do this all that much.  He was usually on between 3-5 minutes.

    But I guess sometimes he talked about fuzzy math.  (He was part of a small group that successfully sued the district over the math curriculum only to later have it reversed on appeal.)  And I guess that made some people (like UW which owns KUOW) mad. 

    Read about it at his blog and how he matches it to the firing of Principal Floe.  He makes some very strong points about how other "regulars," who are on much longer also provide commentary. 

    If you like Professor Mass' work on KUOW, I urge you to consider boycotting KUOW and letting them know (1) how unfair this is and (2) how much you enjoy his work.   If you feel as strongly, as I do, please let your family, friends,co-workers and neighbors know as well.

    KUOW Weekday:

    Steve Scher

    Katy Sewall

    KUOW News Director:
    Guy Nelson: gnelson@kuow.org

    Chair of UW Board:
    Allen Steinman: asteinman@badermartin.com

    Wayne Roth, KUOW President and CEO

    Upcoming LEV Event

    The League of Education Voters is hosting an event in their "Voices from the Education Revolution Speaker Series".

    This one is called Innovations in Learning: Technology in (and out of) the Classroom

    Here's how they describe it:
    Technology has revolutionized our lives. But has it changed education in the 21st century? Join us to hear leaders share their experiences using technology to deliver better individualized learning and outcomes for students. Read our blog series on technology in the classroom.
    I think you will hear a lot of people advocating for a vision of the future in education that approaches the one I described in a blog post titled "The Future - Education Reform Version".

    The speakers will be:
    John Danner, CEO of Rocketship Education
    Cheryl Vedoe, CEO of Apex Learning
    Shantanu Sinha, President of Khan Academy
    Moderated by Tom Vander Ark

    Thursday, June 9 at 7:00 p.m.
    University of Washington
    Kane Hall, Room 210
    4098 15th Ave NE, Seattle

    You can RSVP at the LEV web site.

    I'm going to try to make it. I want to hear what they have to say. I will be paying special attention to their idea of the right uses for technology and the right mix of live instruction with a professional teacher and recorded or online instruction without a live teacher.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    UW and TFA - Part One

    Let me take you on my UW/TFA journey for the last several months.

    Films for Kids at SIFF

    It's that time of year again - the Seattle International Film Festival

    I always like to give it a shout-out because they feature films for families as well as for teens.

    For teens there are the Adobe Youth Voices where youth from 32 countries created short films to communicate about their lives.  As well there is FutureWave with films about teens with FutureWave Shorts with filmmaking by youth under 19. 

    My favorites in this category are Detention (Mix Donnie Darko, The Breakfast Club and Heathers - it's not the end of the world, it's just high school),  Finding Kind, a documentary about girl bullying, and Hooked, a Russian film about 6 college students who suddenly find they have the powers they use when they play video games.

    Then there is Films4Families each weekend.   This year's films include a look behind the scenes at Elmo from Sesame Street and behind the scenes at a youth circus, an animated French film about a cat and a cat burglar, and a series of animated shorts from around the world.

    Tickets for Films4Families are $6 ($5 for SIFF members) and students with valid ID can get tickets for $6 on the day of show. 

    SIFF starts today and runs through June 12th. 

    Capacity Management Briefing

    The District staff gave the School Board a briefing on the current status of Capacity Management yesterday afternoon.

    I'll give you the short version: The plane has flown into the mountain.

    The District will be seriously deficient in capacity for 2012-2013 all over the place:
    Elementary schools in every part of the city except the Hamilton and McClure service areas will be at or over capacity.
    Elementary schools in the Denny service area will be critically over capacity.
    Four middle schools will be critically over capacity: Aki Kurose, Eckstein, Mercer and Whitman.

    The numbers for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 just get worse.

    Here's the worst news of all: the District does a perfectly terrible job of counting students and counting seats. The numbers shown to the Board are "adjusted" numbers. They are adjusted to discount students in option schools, students in APP, and students in K-8s. So, although the District reduced the student count for these populations, they didn't discount the school capacities for these populations.

    Take a look at the numbers for Hamilton. It shows that the school has a functional capacity of 938 and it shows "adjusted" student population in the service area of 661, so they conclude that the school will only be at 70% of capacity. Gee. I guess they forgot about the 220 or so APP students at Hamilton. Put them into the school and the building is at 94% of capacity. Or, viewed another way, reduce the capacity of the school by 220 students and the school's capacity for area students is 92% full.

    Is this the way that they calculated the right size for the Garfield attendance area? Did they forget to reduce the capacity available in the school by the number of APP students?

    Seriously, this mistake is so basic, so stupid, that is defies credibility.

    In all of the capacity management calculations, going all the way back to the beginning of this whole messed up exercise, the District has never thought about non-geographic communities. Given the number of students in option schools and special programs, it astonishes me that the folks planning capacity have forgotten them.

    So guess what the District staff is going to do? First, they are going to go around and calculate the functional capacity at each school - WHAT?!? Ummm, dude, haven't we done that about three times already? Are you telling me that none of those counts were any good? Then, their big plan is to place portables all over the District wherever more capacity is needed.

    This briefing exposed the desperately poor state of the District's capacity planning and revealed the unspeakably poor job the District has done so far reckoning how many schools we need or where we need them.

    I'll say again: they think that Aki Kurose has too many students but Hamilton could take half again as many.

    By the way, check out the slide for the timeline for construction. Do you see the community engagement on there? No, you don't. They left it out. Just didn't think of it.

    Look at these numbers and you'll get a sense of how monumentally the District has failed throughout the entire capacity management effort. Why did the District close schools? Not for any real capacity reasons, just entirely for political reasons.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Can You Hear You?

    I know that the School Board Directors can't hear me, but I wonder...

    Can they hear themselves?

    Can they hear themselves speak earnestly about closing the achievement gap? Probably not.

    They approved cutting summer school.
    They approved cutting elementary counselors vital to SIT teams and RTI.
    They won't fund interventions.
    They approve the removal of required interventions from the promotion/retention policy.

    Can they hear themselves wax poetic about the value of community engagement? The evidence indicates otherwise.

    They accept motion after motion that has no community engagement
    They don't enforce the community engagement protocols of the Strategic Plan
    They don't conduct any real community engagement of their own

    Can they hear themselves go on about the value of transparency? Apparently not.

    They have not required transparency in the budget.
    They have not required transparency in program placement.
    They have not required transparency in any decisions.

    Can they hear themselves talk about the crisis in governance? It doesn't look that way.

    They never enforce policies - they don't even have a process for it.
    Their new governance policy doesn't mention policy enforcement.
    They take no action when policies are violated.
    They took no action when the superintendent ignored their direction.

    Can they hear their own words about oversight? I don't think so.

    They haven't demanded any reports from staff for the past three years.
    They don't follow up when the staff promises action.
    They don't follow up when the staff promises information.

    Do they know that they said that they would earn the public's trust? Maybe they forgot.

    They don't tell the truth.
    They don't fulfill their promises.
    Their words and they actions don't match.

    I know that the Board Directors can't hear me, but I don't think they can even hear themselves.

    5/24 Meet the Superintendent and Exec Directors

    From the CPPS web site:

    CPPS ANNUAL MEETING - 21st Century Parent Engagement
    TUES, MAY 24, 2011 at 6:30-8:30pm
    Lincoln High School Library, 4400 Interlake Ave N

    Come learn about our Parent Leadership Training, encounter action opportunities where you can make a difference for our schools, and help define parent engagement for quality neighborhood schools in our city.

    Special guests, interim superintendent Susan Enfield and the regional directors, will be there to discuss the district AND local level community/parent impact.

    Join us! RSVP at contact@cppsofseattle.org

    More info: http://www.cppsofseattle.org/CPPS052411.pdf

    Not Invited (Again)

    Am I media or not?  I wish the district would make - up - their - minds. 

    Anyway, there was a media briefing this morning with Dr. Enfield.  Here's what the Slog article had to say.

    "I think there's a big difference between caving and listening," Enfield said. "The decision that I made originally was hard, but I made a commitment to the community to listen and I listened. I felt this was the best way to move forward."

    But Enfield said that her decision to not renew Floe's contract had come after a year-long review period. "I have to make the best decision with the data I have," she said. "... The challenge was Floe and I were privy to information parents didn't have. So that was frustrating."  

    She added that part of the problem was that people failed to understand that there was a proper process in place. Enfield hopes to make that more transparent in the future. "When we make hard personnel decisions, we provide as much information as we can, but we can be much more clear on what the overall process looks like," she said.

    Explaining processes in advance?  Listening to community?  Does the Broad know she's saying this?  Oh right, Enfield went to Harvard's superintendent academy, not Broad's.  

    Interesting Take on the Floe Decision From the Weekly

    Over at the Seattle Weekly, Nina Shapiro took a big picture look at what it all means.  She zeros in on some key points.  It makes good points to ponder and mull over. 

    Changes in the Board Agenda for Tonight's Meeting

    There have been quite a few changes in the agenda for tonight's meeting.  Some are a bit puzzling.  (I also suspect the speaker list - which is full and has 20 on the waitlist) will change now that Ingraham's principal is off the table as an issue.)

    RIFs and Your School

    A request was made for a thread on this topic.  Let us know what is happening at your school.

    One person commented they were interested in how this might affect Garfield and Ingraham. 

    From a discussion I had with Martin Floe, it does not appear that Ingraham will have any RIFs (or very few).   I do not know about Garfield.  (I did ask Mr. Floe about TFA and he gave one of his trademark hearty laughs.  Then he said that there isn't much movement of teachers out of his school and he didn't anticipate any RIFs.   It is one hallmark of a good school when teachers don't want to flee.)

    Response to the Floe Decision

    The Times' article this morning on the reversal of the Floe firing has some great quotes.  This from Paul Hill of the Center for Reinventing Public Education:

    "It kind of gives a blueprint for resistance," said Paul Hill, director of the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education. "It invites a political response to every action."

    He said it also suggests that Enfield didn't realize Floe could mount a strong political response to what she likely viewed as a straightforward personnel decision.

    Boy, Professor Hill makes a lot of assumptions.   Blueprint for resistance?  You mean like calling your School Board member, creating a Facebook page, going old school with a peition and talking to the Superintendent?  That kind of scary blueprint?

    Also, people act like somehow parents are now going to get listened to more often by the Superintendent and staff.  One half-way success does not make parents any more powerful than they were before.  Which is to say, parents had little power before this and I doubt it has moved them forward much.  What it does do is give people hope. 

    And Floe mounted this "political" response (there's that word again)?  No, he didn't and he would have been in a lot of trouble had he done anything like that.  I talked to him and he said the outpouring of support astonished and humbled him.   He did get a lawyer but he was too busy running a school to organize a "political response." 

    I also like that "straightforward personnel" decision.  When was the last time SPS fired a principal?  Nothing straightforward about it.

    Others thought differently.

    There's no shame in listening and reflecting and hearing, on a deep level, what a community is saying," said state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle.

    "The whole community needs to prove to the superintendent that this is a good place, that the leadership is good leadership and deserves to stay," Nevins said. "I think we're all here to support the principal in that, in whatever we can." (Cindy Nevins is the PTSA President at Ingraham.)

    "How long has it been since there has been a leader in Seattle Public Schools who will actually listen to a community?" said parent Rosemary Daszkiewicz, the PTSA's legislative co-chair.

    School Board President Steve Sundquist also said he thought Enfield made a wise decision.

    But finally something did get said outloud:

    Enfield said she wouldn't — and couldn't — give the precise reasons why she wanted to fire Floe, saying it was a personnel matter. But she did explain it wasn't as sudden as it might seem — that it rested on a year's worth of observation and evaluation by Floe's supervisor, Bree Dusseault.

    And something didn't - Ms. Dusseault has clear connections to the CRE so of course, they aren't going to like this decision. 

    I also had to laugh at this comment over at the Stranger Slog:

    Fear of helicopter parents and pitchfork parents means that teaching professionals cannot practice their profession, and mob rule also silences the voices of quieter or more polite parents and kids. There needs to be more insulation from mob rule in how the district is administered. We've had mobs rise up about everything from mathematics textbooks to Principal Floe at Ingraham. It's not a way to run a school district. 

    Yes, these mobs have done SO well in getting change in SPS.  Time after time this fearful district has kowtowed to these terrifying parents and community members.   It's just been win, win, win.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    School News from West Seattle

    Our friends at the West Seattle blog have some good stories from West Seattle schools.

    Enfield Reverses Decision: Floe to Stay

    From the Superintendent;

    May 17, 2011

    Dear Ingraham staff, students and families:

    When I was appointed Interim Superintendent, it was with the clear charge to strengthen opportunities for all students to learn. You asked me to bring high levels of transparency and accountability to this effort. The decision I made last Tuesday about the leadership of Ingraham High School Principal Martin Floe reflects my efforts to realize these commitments.

    However, I also know that a good leader listens. After extensive conversations with Ingraham High School staff and the community, I have decided to renew Mr. Floe’s contact for the 2011-12 school year, under the condition that he continue on a plan of improvement, which I, along with his Executive Director, will monitor throughout the year.

    If Seattle Public Schools is truly to make gains for our students, we must hold all of our leaders to a high standard of performance.  The work my team completed over many months leading up to my initial decision not to renew Mr. Floe’s contract was, and is, solid. As I have explained, I am not able to share with you the details of Mr. Floe’s performance evaluations or the work done with him to address performance concerns. I assure you that I made this decision after a fair and rigorous process. 

    Before a decision about terminating a principal’s contract is made, the evaluation process includes identifying areas of concern through a mid-year evaluation, building a clear and detailed performance improvement plan with the principal, numerous one-on-one performance meetings, coaching sessions, time in the school by my team, bi-weekly reports with feedback on progress and very clear guidance to the principal about performance expectations.  Only after this process had been completed and the principal had been offered support and opportunities to succeed would a decision be made to not renew a principal’s contract. A principal must demonstrate “unsatisfactory” performance on the performance improvement plan in order to be recommended for non-renewal.

    We know high performance means not just high test scores but schools where every student has access to high-quality teaching in every classroom. That kind of performance depends on principals who work with their teachers day in and day out to improve the quality of their teaching practice. We rely on our principals for other things too, but this work with teachers—what I and others describe as “instructional leadership”— must be their top priority if we are to achieve what we say we all want for all children in Seattle.

    We should all have very high standards for our leaders, and our strong team of Executive Directors of Schools will continue to work with all principals to ensure that our students achieve at high levels. I am mindful of the community input and the turmoil this situation has created for the school. I am not backing away from our high standards for performance or the work that led to my initial decision. However, I listened to the community input and I decided it is appropriate to provide Mr. Floe with an additional opportunity to succeed.

    I had a chance to meet one-on-one with Mr. Floe on Monday, and I believe we can all work together to see improvement at Ingraham. I also want to thank the Ingraham staff and community for your obvious commitment to the school. Given today’s announcement, I am cancelling tonight’s community meeting at Ingraham. My hope is that now we can move forward as a community to ensure all of our students receive the very best we can give them.

    End of message

     As I wrote to her earlier today:

    Support him to be the principal you want.

    As a long-time parent, I can tell you that finding someone who BOTH staff and parents trust is rare.    Floe saw the IB application process thru and now the district has a successful IB program.  He has reached out to APP parents for a new program that he didn't ask to come to his school.  Many of them picked Ingraham because of his steady leadership.  He endured BEX/BTA project year after year (only to see that his school - like RBHS and Sealth - will never get a total rebuild as all the other comprehensives have) AND waiting out the neighbors for the BEX addition.  That's a lot of patience and stress that he managed to handle. 

    In the end, it's your own best judgment.  I only ask that you consider other voices. 

    Bravo Dr. Enfield.  You are your own kind of leader and it's a brave and wise leader who admits a mistake (or says they will try again).  

    Should You Have Command of "American" English to Graduate?

    From New London, Connecticut comes a story that the district there will make " knowing American English" a requirement to graduate from their high schools by 2015. 

    From MSNBC:

    "We know from colleges and employers, that our students are going to have to know how to read and write in English if they are going be successful," Supt. Nicholas Fischer, told the Day. 

    That is not to say that the school is instituting an "English only" program in which where students are told they can only speak English in the schools. New London's program is a literacy program in which students will be required to achieve a certain level of English reading and writing literacy by the 10th grade. 

    The school system will offer several ways for students to fulfill their English language requirement and they have until the age of 21 to meet it. "

    I'm thinking some of this is driven by district costs but they may very well feel kids are not being served by graduating without English-language competency.  (And, if you call an elevator a "lift", I guess you get dinged for not speaking American English.)

    I have mixed feelings on this issue (particularly for newer immigrants - is it the kid's fault he gets here in 10th grade?) but I feel that, in some ways, districts drag out the process of learning English well enough to receive instruction and/or pass state tests.   Maybe this district is doing some kids a favor and some kids a disservice.

    What do you think?

    FYI about Tonight

    Apparently Dr. Enfield had been scheduled to attend an event at Hamilton tonight.  The word is that her appearance there has been CANCELED.

    Obviously she is going to the Ingraham meeting. 

    I'm sure she will reschedule at Hamilton another time.

    (This seems to be something that the Hamilton community wants known so I decided to put it up here.)

    The Seattle Times Should Just Shut Up

    Yet another misguided, misinformed, mistake of an editorial from the Seattle Times:
    Gov. Gregoire: Don't veto teacher performance bill.

    The comments are significantly more thoughtful than the editorial (as usual).

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    One More Meeting This Week

    Ingraham PTSA meeting. Special Guest: Susan Enfield
    Tuesday, May 17. 6:30-7:30
    IHS Auditorium

    Meetings this Week


    Work Session on Integrated Capacity Management - 4:00 - 4:45 p.m.  No agenda/presentation available yet.

    Exit Conference for Financial Statements and Federal Single Audit Report - 4:45 -5:30 p.m. - This would appear to be for the State Auditor's office.  I'll call for more details. 

    Board Meeting - 6:00 - 9:00 pm.  Agenda
    • Science update by Cathy Thompson - ( for fun, look for those grammatical errors).  They feel they need to keep explaining what alignment is and is not but teachers, how are you seeing the alignment as it rolls out?   Page 8 gives the science scores for last year - there is quite a clear divide and I'd be interested to know what factors are in play.  (It can't be facilities; Nova does almost as well as the higher ranked schools like Garfield and Center.)  There is finally a written validation process - again, teachers how likely is it an alternative science course can be validated as this is written?  They are piloting a physical science assessment at Garfield and Ballard.
    • Lots of revisions to Board policies on homework, promotion/retention/student fees (Pay for K going up $30/month)
    • Revision to BEX Oversight Committee.  As soon as this gets approved, I hope some of you with either a construction, architecture or building management background might consider applying.  
    • approval of academic calendars for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 (noting that for the latter the district will go to a 4-day Mid-Winter break)
    • intro of high school science and high school social studies instructional materials.  These both have long explanations and attachments.  
    • the agreement with the City for help with ethics and whistleblower protection.  The district will pay the City $125k per year (ouch) but "the funding level is not quite sufficient for one full-time City employee."
    • library collections for Rainier View ES, Viewlands ES and Queen Anne ES at a cost of $115k each.

    Operations Committee - 4-6:00 p.m.   Agenda - review of garbage/recycling contracts, more Board policy revisions, capital budget, energy conservation, lessons learned from recent computer security breach, BEX IV planning, policy on security cameras in school, nutrition policy.

    David Horsey (Ingraham Alum)

    His take on the Floe firing.

    Still Not Clear on the Reasoning for the Floe Firing

    Been doing research and while I keep diving, the water is still murky.

    What have I learned?

    Yes, Ingraham is at Level 5 under NCLB.  
    Yes, Ingraham has not met AYP for 6 straight years. 

    BUT, Franklin and Ingraham have the exact same record for the past 6 years.  Three years at Level 5, then 4, 3, 2 after that.  Both have failed to make AYP for the last six years.

    (To note, the steadiest school in the district is The Center School which has only missed AYP once in the last six years and has never been higher than Level 1.)

    What is equally troubling is that there has been a steady decline, across the board at nearly every high school.  We have six high schools at Level 5.

    We had just one school in the last three years meeting AYP.  Just one in three years.  The decline starts around 2004-2005 and I have to wonder what happened that so many schools just started a downward trend.

    Back to Ingraham.  Thanks to several commenters (including ITK and Reluctant Poster), I found out that under NCLB, sanctionsDON'T kick in unless you are a Title 1 school.  No SPS high schools take Title 1 money.  

    So, to be clear, the district cannot hide behind saying "Ingraham's a Level 5 school so we are mandated to do something."  They are not, not at the state level nor the federal level.   They are making this choice on their own.  (Which is fine but they can't hide behind any alleged mandate. This also begs the question of why other schools in these dire straits are not facing the same thing.) 

    Additionally, as I may have stated before, Board policy and the RCW are in conflict.  Board policy says the Board handles appeals but the RCW (28A.405.310) says that a hearing examiner is appointed after being picked by both sides.   There is a pre-hearing conference followed by the hearing (within 10 days after the conference).  A ruling would come 10 days after the hearing.

    What would be great (but I don't think will happen) is that Principal Floe could request an open hearing.  That would be very interesting and illuminating.

    Kate Martin - Candidate in District II

    Kate Martin has announced her candidacy for the School Board in District II. Sherry Carr currently occupies that seat.

    Ms Martin is frequent commenter on this blog. She has been following the District closely for about six years.

    You can read a large body of her work on Seattle schools and public education at www.theseattlejournal.com

    From her press release:
    Kate Martin would like to see the District do more of what works, less of what doesn't, and put more of its scarce resources directly in the classrooms rather than layers of administration, excessive high stakes standardized tests and other areas that do not benefit students. She would like to see the District engage proven strategies more and ideological aspirations less. She thinks that all students need and deserve a personal learning plan (Individualized Education Program) and that schools, students and their families need to build stronger relationships in order to collaborate and work from the same playbook to ensure student success. Martin is interested in seeing the City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools expand their collaborative efforts to make facilities work harder and smarter year-round for the benefit of kids and communities and believes that all children need and deserve Safe Routes to Schools.

    We welcome Ms Martin to the election and wish her well. She will have my support.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson (Science Rocks)

    I went and heard astrophysicist extraordinaire, Neil deGrasse Tyson, speak at UW last week.  What an entertaining two hours.  Students from Cleveland High were in attendance and seemed very enthused to be there.   He didn't talk on one subject but meandered around various topics (including the demotion of Pluto - very funny).

    Times columnist, Jerry Large, interviewed him and got some good quotes.   I had just been watching NBC news last night and the President was featured saying, "We have to make science cool."  Sigh.  Here's what Dr. Tyson has to say:

    "Getting kids interested in science is not the challenge," he said. "Kids are born interested in science." The challenge is to get out of the way of their curiosity, let them develop their skills, use their creativity.
    "There is no greater education than one that is self-driven," Tyson said. You go to the library, visit museums because you want to learn, and your quest for knowledge outside of school magnifies what happens when you are in school.

    So what excites a kid is basically what is going to drive him or her to learn.  Helping students understand that almost any discipline is multidisciplinary will help students try to do well in all subjects.  

    He pointed out that NASA is the most prominent (for better or worse) example of government funding for science and has been for decades.  He also pointed out that Kennedy wanted a space race, not to raise awareness but to beat Russia.  

    I asked him a question that got an ooh and then applause.  I asked what he would do to help K-12 public education in this country.

    He said he only had 3 great teachers in his life and challenged the audience to count in their heads their number of great teachers.  Most said 2-3 (but there was the smarty-pants up in the balcony who said 8 and that he grew up in Evanston, IL so there).  He said he wished he could clone those teachers.

    A little disappointing but it was interesting that he didn't say there were too many bad teachers, just not enough good ones.  And that's the point.  Despite what ed reformers are trying to sell, there aren't that many bad teachers.  But there are a lot of discouraged, stagnant or underperforming teachers.  These are teachers who may be in schools that aren't supported with professional education.  These could be teachers who aren't pushed to do better and to have high expectations.  These are teachers who could be helped to be better teachers and aren't.

    That might be something to focus on until we get cloning down (and which of you teachers is the volunteer for the first teacher clone?).

    Michael DeBell on Reuven Carlyle's blog

    Michael DeBell wrote a guest post on Reuven Carlyle's blog in which he says that students need to be threatened with the loss of their diploma if we expect them to take math and science education seriously.

    This is the same man who will vote this week for a new promotion/retention policy that will remove all requirements on promoting students from grade to grade.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    The "Ah Ha" Moment (But Not That Things Are Clearer)

    Anyone who has ever read Oprah's O Magazine knows she has a column where she talks about an "ah ha" moment.

    So I have been pondering the Martin Floe issue and thinking that Ms. Dussault certainly isn't all powerful and Susan Enfield probably thought long and hard about this.  So I went back and looked through some other data (and talked to some trusted sources).  I believe I now understand the reasoning behind this firing but I think the district has a fight on its hands, nonetheless.

    Simply put, Ingraham is in Level 5 of AYP.  

    Petition to Reinstate Martin Floe

    Sign this petition and pass along if you are so inclined.

    Also, anyone who want to speak to this issue, call or e-mail the School Board office right at 8 am tomorrow morning.  Call 252-0040 or e-mail boardagenda@seattleschools.org.   You need to state a topic and I recommend stating that you will be speaking on the "high school science instructional materials" or "high school social studies instructional materials" and then relate how the high school alignment is probably a key issue to why Floe is being dismissed. 

    Danny Westneat Nails It Again

    This Sunday's column by Danny Westneat of the Times is spot on.   He explains how he wasn't really going to talk about the special 3-person Spanish class set up for basketball star, Tony Wroten, and 2 others. 

    It was especially niccceeee because Garfield is the most jampacked, overcrowded high school in Seattle. I figured there wasn't much I could add about the sway sports holds in schools and society that wasn't summed up best by that one tweet.

    But as he says, last week the class cuts started at Garfield.

    "At Garfield, budget cuts are being translated to cuts in Advanced Placement courses and other classes, including the cancellation of AP Calculus BC, reductions in sections of AP Chemistry, and AP Spanish," read a bulletin from a parents' group. (italics his)

    Translation: After finding the wherewithal to gin up a three-person Spanish class so the star player can remain eligible to play ball in college, the school now is cutting back on the Spanish classes needed for scores of kids to do academics in college.

    So how did Ted Howard, the principal at Garfield, explain the special Spanish class?

    The Garfield principal's defense was he created the special Spanish class because he "felt we owed those kids and parents credit and also an education."

    I'm sorry.   Did Tony and his friends not have the opportunity to take a regular Spanish class?  Yes.  So why the "special" class?  Is this kind of owed help available to every single student in the school who manages to fail a class?  (I'm sure UW will continue this treatment when Tony gets there as well.)
    As Danny says, one other thing got missed:

    Speaking of stars, did you see the other news about Garfield? It barely made a blip. It was just announced Garfield had more National Merit scholarship winners than any other public high school in the state.

    I've met Mr. Howard and he's a good guy and it's a big school.  But this is unacceptable.  What is the district's response to this?
    And yet they fired Martin Floe but Ted Howard is still sitting in his $120M school.  (The irony here is that Martin Floe, in yet another heroic effort, has been through BTA/BEX fix after fix.  He had to wait out neighbors on the decision about whether to cut a grove of trees for a new addition.  And yet, Ingraham will never get the rebuilt that nearly every other high school received because of all the "fixes" done over the years.  It's a strange thing.)

    Congrats to Roosevelt

    The Roosevelt High School Jazz Band took second place at this year's Essentially Ellington competition in NYC. 

    They also were awarded prizes for many individual and ensemble awards.    (Dillard High in Fort Lauderdale, FL took first place.)  Details in the Times' article.

    The article also explained why Garfield wasn't there (and I hadn't heard this before). 

    According to Massey, Garfield inadvertently failed to renew its membership in Essentially Ellington on time, so the school's sheet music arrived only a week before the due date for an audition CD.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    What a PR Fiasco (and why SPS will never get ahead)

    Talk about backpedaling - Dr. Enfield is now saying test scores had nothing to do with Martin Floe's firing.  This is as reported by several Ingraham parents and staff.

    The press release certainly made it sound like this was the case but here's what Dr. Enfield says:

    Unfortunately, the Times article was not correct. While we did share Ingraham's test scores since we were getting questions about the school's performance, I never said that these scores were the reason for my decision. They were not. Additionally, I never spoke with Katherine Long so I am puzzled why she would attribute any quotes on this matter to me.

    I have not, and will not, reveal the information that was part of the evaluation process and eventual decision. I am legally bound not to do so.

    Katherine Long is the Times' reporter on the story.  I reread the story and Ms. Long did not attribute any quote from Dr. Enfield as given to her personally.  She quoted what parents said Dr. Enfield said.

    So here are some questions:
    • by putting out the test scores, of course, everyone was going to jump to this conclusion.  If people were asking about test scores, Communications could have referred them to the OSPI site and let them do the comparisons.  Why do this?
    • Dr. Enfield is right about not saying anything legally and yet, now people believe it is about test scores at Ingraham.  I'll wait for our new Communications head to write yet another backpedaling press release.  (Recall that Sara Morris from the Alliance sent out an e-mail telling her constituents this was the reason.)  Why send the press release to people who will pass on that information?
    What is happening here?  How did anyone at the district believe they could summarily fire a popular principal and have no backlash?  The district believed they could hide behind "it's a personnel matter" and people would shrug and say okay?  

    This happens over and over.  These ideas are never given the "if this, then that" treatment; meaning, "what are the possible outcomes to this action and our response to them."

    Again, I'm smelling subordination because this feels like someone got dissed and didn't like it.    If Principal Floe does appeal (and I hope he does), I'm sure we will get a clearer picture.   

    The Board needs to put its collective foot down NOW.  This is now getting worse and worse.

    If you attended a community meeting this morning, please let us know what was said.  I believe Ingraham staff is meeting with Noel Treat, our new Deputy Superintendent, on Monday and parents will meet him on Tuesday.

    Dr. Enfield is a Liar

    Dr. Enfield has told us two things

    1) Mr. Floe was fired from his job as principal of Ingraham High School because student test scores had stagnated. This was offered as the primary rationale for his dismissal.


    2) Students at Ingraham have been making gains on state tests at a higher rate than the district average. Ingraham's School Report shows 70% of Ingraham students making gains on the state reading test and 63% of them making gains on the state math test compared to 65% and 66% on the tests for the district as a whole.

    These statements cannot both be true.

    Anyone Interested in Demographics?

    This is the first I've heard of this and echoing Kellie LaRue who forwarded it to me, I don't know what to make of it.

    SPS Demographics Review Task Force Application
    Date: Thursday May 19, 2011
    Time: 9:00 am - 10:00 am 
    John Stanford Center
    Notes: SPS Demographics Review Task Force Application
    Due Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Seattle Public Schools is looking for a few volunteers from the community to participate on a Demographics Review Task Force.

    Current demographic projections suggest that up to 7,000 new students may enter Seattle Public Schools over the next 5 years. The total student population could rise from 47,000 students today to 54,000 students over the next 5 years impacting every school in the District.

    The purpose of the task force is to review the impact of demographics on the New Student Assignment Plan and Capacity Management for 2012 and beyond.

    The task force will also review national best practices, clarifying planning assumptions and current SPS enrollment projections.

    Who: SPS staff, local experts and community participants

    When: Weekly meetings beginning May 31st with a report to Superintendent and Board by June 30th

    Where: John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence

    If interested, Please contact:
    Janet Chin
    (206) 252-0102

    Please include your name, school, phone number an email address.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    School Beat

    I get my regular copy of the district newletter, School Beat.  Imagine my surprise to learn that we now have an Interim Deputy Superintendent.  That would be General Counsel Noel Treat.  So now, the General Counsel is Ron English.  (I never thought I'd write that sentence but life is strange that way.)

    Mr. Treat is to serve in this capacity until June 30th.  There is no explanation why this appointment is necessary.  I'd have to go back and check but I don't think we have had a deputy superintendent since Mona Bailey (and I think that was the '80s). 

    We also have an Interim Director of Capital Programs, Doug Nichols.   Now I know that COO, Pegi McEvoy is now also Facilities head so what does that leave former Facilities head, Bill Martin, to do? 

    The Seattle Special Education PTSA is honoring two educators; Maki Ichikawa at B.F. Day and Carlen Luke, a teacher at Stevens at their May 17th meeting.

    Graham Hill Elementary is newly certified as a Washington Green School at Level 1.   Good for them.

    The Case of the Missing Principal (No, not Martin Floe)

    So what has happened to Principal Tate Loftin at Coe Elementary?  Apparently, staff showed up on May 9th and poof! Her office was cleared out and she was gone with no explanation. 

    They have brought in retired principal, Terry Acena, to fill in but for how long is unknown.  

    Apparently the district is to explain this all on Monday.   But think about it - if this were your school and your principal, wouldn’t it seem odd that neither staff or parents had any explanation of a sudden departure?

    My source on this says Loftin had some chronic health problems but thinks if Loftin had been leaving on her own, she would have said goodbye to staff, parents and students. 

    What’s going on here in this district with personnel?  We have the top leadership – superintendent, COO and CFO – all in interim positions.  The new head of HR, gone after three months of commuting from Chicago.   Martin Floe gets fired despite support from staff and community (and with principals in many schools with the same kind of stagnant test scores).  Now we have one principal just disappear from the school without warning.

    Is this any way to run a district?

    Education News

    From the Stranger Slog comes news that UW has moved its in-state waitlist by 210 freshman students.  About 120 remain on the list while all other students currently on the list will be notified there isn't room for them in the 2011 autumn quarter. 

    So Why Was Floe Fired?

    The district, feeling the heat, has taken a couple of steps in the Floe firing.

    Open Thread Friday

    We're Back!  So sorry, never happened before, cause to think of migrating away from here.  Onward.

    Community Meetings Tomorrow
    Carr – 8:30-10 am, Bethany Community Church
    Sundquist – 11 am – 12:30 pm, High Point Library
    Martin-Morris – 9:30- 11:30 am, Diva Espresso
    Anyone attend the rally for Martin Floe at headquarters yesterday?  I note that Dr. Enfield is now saying they will put in an interim principal and then have a search that includes parents and staff in the fall for a permanent principal.   I find the stats they released to be somewhat weak given other schools’ performance.  Is this just the first in a line of principal firings to come?

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    School Board Policies Being Updated/Changed

    FYI from the School Board webpage:

    WSSDA (Washington State School Directors Association) alignment work:
    In consultation with WSSDA, the Board is reviewing and updating each section of policies. The revisions will happen a section at a time. The policies will be renumbered in order to follow the WSSDA model. For example, Section B, Board of Directors, will become Series 1000.
    This website will post the proposed policies prior to their adoption in order to invite public input.
    Other Policies:
    • New Policy D85.00, Student Fees & Charges, scheduled for Introduction on May 4 and Action May 18
    • Amended Policy G23.00 and New Procedure G23.01, Office of Internal Audit, scheduled for Introduction on May 4 and Action May 18
    • Amended Policy F08.00, Tobacco-Free Environment, scheduled for Introduction on May 18 and Action June 1
    • Amended Policy C11.00 and repeal of policies C12.00, C13.00 and C14.00, scheduled for Introduction on May 4 and Action May 18
    • Amended Policy D43.00 and repeal of policies D44.00, D45.00 and D46.00, scheduled for Introduction on May 4 and Action May 18
    If you would like to comment on the policy work, please e-mail Schoolboard@seattleschools.org.

    If you have any questions regarding policies, please contact the School Board Office at the email above or 206-252-0040. Thank you.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Yet Another PERC Finding

    In addition to everything else, the District is an employer. As an employer, the District is required to comply with labor laws. Sometimes they don't. In fact, they often don't. And when they really mess up they have to appear before the Public Employment Relations Committee (PERC). And when they are proven to have followed unfair labor practices they have to read the decision of the PERC into the minutes of the School Board's meeting such as they did on March 10, 2010.

    This happens once or twice a year and it is a direct indictment of the District's culture and management practices.

    It has happened again.

    I would really like to see a clause in the superintendent's contract that dings the superintendent salary $10,000 for every one of these. Then I think we would see them stop. Historically the District never takes any action after one of these and never holds anyone accountable for their grotesque mis-management and denial of rights to District employees.

    Instead these findings get the same treatment as everything else in the District:

    We see a lugubrious series of mea culpas
    We see a big, sloppy show of contrition
    That's followed by a big sloppy commitment to do better in future
    Then they forget all about it, fail to hold anyone accountable and go on doing the same stuff they were doing before.

    Dysfunction, delusion, and deception all over the place.

    Support For Martin Floe

    From IHS PTSA:

    For Supporters of Martin Floe there will be a demonstration of support at the Stanford Center on Thursday 5/12 at 5:15 p.m.  Enfield deigned to give the community one 15 minute face-to-face meeting with parent and faculty representatives.

    FYI (Charlie alerted me to this):

    From School Board Policy B61.00:

    "The Board of Directors shall:...

    Elect principals and teachers upon recommendation of the Superintendent."

    The Board retains final authority to hire principals.

    In addition, the Board has ALL of the duties, authority and responsibility. They LEND some of those duties and authority to the superintendent, but they reserve the right to recall any or all of those duties and authority.

    So, if Floe appeals, it will be the Board who decides.  There are 4 people who, I believe, want to be reelected and they are basing a decision on an interim superintendent's input.  

    They might want to think long and hard about this decision.