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Monday, May 16, 2011

Meetings this Week

Wednesday

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
Highlights:
  • 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.
Thursday

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.

29 comments:

mirmac1 said...

By word of Spec Ed PTSA listserve:



I am holding a community meeting on Tuesday, May 17 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the IHS auditorium.

I look forward to meeting with you.

Sincerely,

Susan

Susan Enfield, Ed.D.

Interim Superintendent

Seattle Public Schools

Eric M said...

Science alignment: Hmm.

Now, suddenly, a new plan: move the physical science course taught in 9th grade to 8th grade for fall 2012.

That's 15 months away, with no planning having taken place.
That's about 2 1/2 science teachers NOT needed anymore at the larger high schools.
That's roughly 9 months after they want to buy textbooks for 9th grade physical science.
That's about 14 months after going through a big hoo-hoo about making lots of kids take a newly developed test for physical science standards.

Backwards, incompetent "planning".
It's a changing target, with changing rationale, constantly.
Times a million.
Plus one.

This Science alignment is like a clown driving a bulldozer.

Homework said...

What are the Board revisions to homework?

dan dempsey said...

Dear Homework said....,

The answer to the homework policy revision proposed for Wed. Board meeting can be found by clicking on the action item on the agenda.

Action Item "2" is the one you want on page 2 =>

HERE

That should get you ...
THIS

On the inside said...

@Melissa: "This would appear to be for the State Auditor's office. I'll call for more details."

More details: Yes it is for the state auditors.

GreyWatch said...

Proposed last day of school in 2013 is June 14. I like that it ends on a Friday. I never understood SPS's habit of ending on a Tuesday. Just hope this doesn't mean we'll shift to starting before labor day.

TFA ? said...

Slide 14:

"Spring 2012 –Establish hiring practices to recruit highly qualified teachers to teach Physical Science at additional middle schools"

"Highly qualified". TFA perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Re: High School Materials
adoption

Amazon reviews of the proposed World History text (World History: Patterns of Interaction) don't inspire confidence in the final choice:

Comment 1
A group of concerned citizens in Florida have questioned the apparent bias in this textbook, a bias against Western Civilization. The text has an anti western, anti capitalist, anti Christian and anti Jewish bias, and conversely promotes Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures and promotes Islam as a religion.

These concerned parents have approached the local school board and asked that this text be removed from the approved list of instructional materials. They were initially rebuffed, but the matter is now pending appeal before the entire Sarasota County School Board. This is the first time in history that such an appeal has ever been granted.


Comment 2
This book is terrible. I was shocked to find that the object of many hours of study for my IB World History class was this middle school-level book. It's filled with more pictures and phony biographical sketches than information and (heaven forbid) intelligent analysis.
Not only is it monotonous and dull, it's superficial.


Comment 3
this is NOT the book that will tell you whether you like history or not. This is strictly a list of facts to be regurgitated on a test with some values of tolerance sprinkled in.

-FYI

dan dempsey said...

Eric M said ....
Backwards, incompetent "planning".
It's a changing target, with changing rationale, constantly.
Times a million.
Plus one.

This Science alignment is like a clown driving a bulldozer."


It seems that there would be a huge savings if anyone connected with either math or science at the Central office was immediately terminated. In addition to financial savings, the eventual delivery of academic content to students would be greatly improved.

It seems that what has repeatedly been done to Math, is going to be done to Science .... the Autocrats are on another rampage.

Charlie Mas said...

The rationale for aligning the science curriculum does not appear to extend beyond the 10th grade courses or those required to meet the state standards on the science HSPE.

If there is no rationale for aligning science beyond the 10th grade class, then why are we doing it?

StopTFA said...

Don't forget from mskym on the Seattle Times article regarding UW/TFA alum Tom Stritikus setting up an alternative teacher certification program for TFA:

"As a candidate for the UW Teacher Education Program Master's degree, you cannot believe how enraged I (and many fellow members of my cohort) was after first hearing about this partnership. Now, I think TFA has a lot to offer for communities in need of programs such as theirs, but as many have said, this region has an abundance of highly qualified teachers already (or will soon be) in need of jobs. They are also teachers who are not opposed to working in high needs school either, so that's no excuse.

I would also like to happily inform all that Tom Stritikus has personally invited the community to a public forum on Wednesday, May 18 at 4:30 pm in Miller Hall 301 to respond to and discuss the situation at hand. A number of us from the Teacher Education Program plan to be there to share our thoughts and feelings with our dear dean. Please feel free to join us! We'd love the support"

Anonymous said...

What I don't get about the Science alignment is that it's focused solely on high school, when the rationale is that they are trying to meet the new science standards. What about elementary and middle school?

The NSF science kits alone do not meet the new science standards, yet...?

-Confused

Anonymous said...

Science alignment-- a huge issue here is that current 7th graders will miss out on the opportunity to take phys science in 8th grade, and then will not be able to fit in all the college-ready courses, e.g. if want to take marine biology., etc. Also, if you are lucky enough to be at GHS or BHS you can get a waiver, but none of the others. This will really affect workload/pathway for many college-bound kids who fall in the gap between alignment dates.

Science Fan

Anonymous said...

The Physics adoption is for on-line materials - the materials cost does not take into account the cost of printing materials for students, which I think would be a significant cost.

This review is given as support:

“It is the finest example of constructivist teaching in the U.S. It has changed my life and the way I teach.”
-Don Yost, near Sacramento

-FYI

Anonymous said...

I share Science fan's concern. If the alignment is justified by "equity", how is this implementation equitable?

-Another parent

Anonymous said...

Another meeting that I would like to add is the forum, Fighting Racism in the Public Schools, this Thursday at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 1634 19th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122.

Sponsored By: Social Equality Educators (SEE) and Parents Across America

Featuring:

James Bible
Civil rights attorney and the president of the King County chapter of the NAACP

Wayne Au
Professor of Education at the University of Washington, Editor of Rethinking Schools magazine, and author of Unequal by Design: The Standardization of Inequality

Olga Addae
President of the Seattle Education Association

Gabriella Gutierrez Y Muhs
Seattle University Professor, Latin American & Women Studies

Jet City mom said...

regarding the history text- while it isn't indepth enough for an AP class- a teacher eval on
www.historycooperative.org/index.html
found it quite good.

The controversy in Florida seems centered around this viewpoint that is presented in the text.
“The religion [Islam] has close ties to the prophets and teachers of Judaism and Christianity,”12 and “Muslims believe that Allah is the same God as the God of the Jews and Christians.”13

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link to the World History text reviews. It presents a much more balanced (and positive) review.

-FYI

hschinske said...

“The religion [Islam] has close ties to the prophets and teachers of Judaism and Christianity,”12 and “Muslims believe that Allah is the same God as the God of the Jews and Christians.”13

Eh? Which readers is that supposed to be a problem for? I can't even tell! It reads to me very like what Christian-centric history texts said when I was in school (I remember one of my older sister's Muslim friends getting really ticked off at my high school's medieval history textbook).

I'm more concerned about the reviews that say the book is shallow and discourages critical thinking.

Helen Schinske

Salander said...

I know this is off topic but it seems important. Where did the money go that was earmarked for this?

Hi all, I just received word that the adoption of new instructional materials has been delayed due to the district budget crisis and the uncertainty of the final state budget.

Please know that at this time, it is a delay, not a cancellation. As soon as the state budget is released, and the district knows more clearly where it stands in terms of additional budget cuts, the decision regarding continuing the adoptions will be re-opened.

If the delay is for just a few weeks or months, we can continue forward with the current adoptions.

The announcement of the adoption delay will be made public later this afternoon and I wanted to let you know before the announcement.

Thank you for all of your hard work. I’m hopeful that as soon as the state budget is complete we will be able to continue with the adoption.

Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions.

Thanks again.

John Brill
Social Studies Adodption Coordinator

Jan said...

Eric M: I can't say anything good about the process (scrambled) or the timeline (too rushed), but I have to say -- I think moving this course down to 8th grade is exactly the right thing to do -- and seems like it was what Garfield parents were pushing for.
1. It frees up kids for Biology in 9th grade, leaving time for Chemistry, either AP Chemistry or Physics/AP physics, AND specialized school science courses (Marine Science at GHS, the various academy science classes at Ballard, genetics, etc.).

2. It aligns better with what a lot of private schools and other districts do -- which makes transferring easier.

3. As for the books? Send them to the middle schools! We still need the same books for the same kids. Just one grade earlier. I don't see the materials thing as an issue.

4. With the exception of a few schools (TOPS, maybe? and I don't know what else), there have been years of complaints about weak middle school science. To actually assign a class (is "rigorous" too robust an adjective to hope for here?) to middle school, we maybe take a step towards fixing the "weak middle school" problem.

On your other points, I mostly have questions:
Eric M says: That's 15 months away, with no planning having taken place.

My question: How much time should it take for middle school science teachers to get ready to teach a year of physical science in 8th grade? *And, I guess, to reconfigure 6th and 7th grade science, whatever is taught there)?

That's about 2 1/2 science teachers NOT needed anymore at the larger high schools.
I thought one reason we were doing this is so kids could take DIFFERENT science classes in HS, not fewer. Yes, I realize some will, but aren't we still requiring 2 years science at high school? Or will 8th grade phys. science now count as one of those? In any case, it seemed to me that one reason for this is to permit MORE science, not less -- which should mean no (or little) loss of teachers.
Eric says: That's roughly 9 months after they want to buy textbooks for 9th grade physical science.
See above -- don't we just buy the books anyway, and use them at 8th grade? (unless these books are as bad as Discovery Math dreck -- sure hope not!)

Eric says: That's about 14 months after going through a big hoo-hoo about making lots of kids take a newly developed test for physical science standards.

But -- I thought the test was just a stopgap, designed by the administration to help get the loudest complaining schools (BHS and GHS) through an interim period until the long term solution -- which is moving physical science to 8th grade -- could be put in place. Is that not right?

Again, I can't defend process or timing -- it seems to me that the current plan screws up all the ninth graders EXCEPT GHS and BHS, where kids can opt into Biology and either pass the test or take phys. science later. And next year's 8th graders are also getting goofed up -- maybe -- because they will MISS phys. science in the shift -- but like the GHS/BHS kids, maybe they just test out -- which means they didn't need it -- or take it later.

My preference would have been to not implement ANYTHING -- in light of the objections -- until they were ready to move the course to 8th grade. But that might have seemed like too much of a concession to the downtown curriculum folks who wish they didn't have to pay any attention to us at all (someone clearly IS listening, and changing, or this would all be much worse -- no work around for Ballard or GHS, and no plan to fix the problem for the future).

wv says "awkwar" -- which is how decisions feel when the roll them out FIRST -- and only talk to the stakeholders AFTERWARDS.

peonypower said...

@Jan
Your assumption is that if physical science is moved to 8th grade then students will be able to take other classes in high school after by biology, but the only courses that will count towards graduation are chemistry and physics; not marine science, not genetics, not astronomy. To be considered "valid" a class must align with one of the above courses. None of that cross subject stuff- no chemistry in your marine science - nope. You match 80% of the standards for that pathway (a number chosen randomly and not by the alignment committee) or you are not valid. The current proposal closes the door on innovation. Personally, I would love to see physical science tied to math level- you take it when you take or have taken algebra 1. If you can't do algebra you can't do physical science. Math level is has been the clearest predictor of student success in my physical science class, and kids who are at a higher math level should be in biology.

As for the proposed pilot test is a disaster. Not written by a physical science teacher but a physics professor, no math computations but heavy on the conceptual and beyond the ability of most students. Oh and even if a student doesn't pass the test they can take biology anyway if they swear to take physics later. If the pilot was the answer to the problems proposed by the alignment then clearly the alignment proposal is flawed.

Regarding the proposed book, I've only be able to look at it for 20 minutes and can't really say how well it would work for 8th grade. Frankly the plan is still a mess and it needs to be figured out before we enact it.

My biggest disappointment with this new plan is that it does not take advantage of the strengths of solid science programs that exist (specialized courses taught by passionate involved instructors) and build on that. It is still more of the same floundering and narrow thinking that the district is unfortunately famous for.

Anonymous said...

As Harium explained it, the high school requirement is for two laboratory based science classes - which Physical Science and Biology will supposedly fill.

So, by having Physical Science in 9th grade (rather than 8th), more students would come closer to fulfilling the 2 year science requirement. Having it moved to 8th grade makes sense for some students, but then requires students to - gasp - take more science to fulfill HS graduation requirements.

Why not give all students the choice?

Also, I can't believe the Physics materials do not include a student text. It's looks very constructivist. How is it that money left from the federal AP grant can be used for these non-AP "materials"?

Times a million.
Plus one.


Another SPS parent

Kenny O said...

"Fighting Racism in the Public Schools, this Thursday at Mt. Zion Baptist Church" Featuring James Bible - race-baiter extrordinaire.

Salander said...

It appears that after forcing the adoption process timeline it has now been put on hold. Since this was levy money earmarked for a specific purpose it doesn't make sense that this adoption is now dependent on what the Stae does.

Hi all, I just received word that the adoption of new instructional materials has been delayed due to the district budget crisis and the uncertainty of the final state budget.

Please know that at this time, it is a delay, not a cancellation. As soon as the state budget is released, and the district knows more clearly where it stands in terms of additional budget cuts, the decision regarding continuing the adoptions will be re-opened.

If the delay is for just a few weeks or months, we can continue forward with the current adoptions.

The announcement of the adoption delay will be made public later this afternoon and I wanted to let you know before the announcement.

Thank you for all of your hard work. I’m hopeful that as soon as the state budget is complete we will be able to continue with the adoption.

Salander said...

From the adoption coach
Hi all, I just received word that the adoption of new instructional materials has been delayed due to the district budget crisis and the uncertainty of the final state budget.

Please know that at this time, it is a delay, not a cancellation. As soon as the state budget is released, and the district knows more clearly where it stands in terms of additional budget cuts, the decision regarding continuing the adoptions will be re-opened.

If the delay is for just a few weeks or months, we can continue forward with the current adoptions.

The announcement of the adoption delay will be made public later this afternoon and I wanted to let you know before the announcement.

Thank you for all of your hard work. I’m hopeful that as soon as the state budget is complete we will be able to continue with the adoption.

Dorothy Neville said...

Salander, did it say which adoption?

One thing I heard at the Exec committee meeting is that one issue with the science materials adoption is that we actually adopted new HS science materials 7 years ago and they were so bad that they are still sitting unused in schools. This particular adoption is not because of ancient worn out texts. So are these new science books really all that good, are they worth the expense?

I don't know much about the Social Studies adoptions.

Salander said...

Dorothy-

This is the Social Studies adoption--don't know what is up with science or if they recoeved the same message. There has not been new high school social studies books since the mid 90's.

What concerns me though is if there is/was levy money set aside for this--what happened to that money that funding for the adoption now depends on the State.

Jan said...

@Peonypower: Aaggh. This all makes me want to bang my head against the wall, gnash my teeth, and weep. Based on all the great posts, maybe what we need (given where we are) is this:

1. A physical science in 8th grade pathway (for those who want/need a selective college transcript).
2. The availability for kids to defer phys. science into high school if they just want to take the two courses and be done with science.

Whether the other courses "count" for science with the District is irrelevant -- since they will be on the transcript, and colleges will count them.

I totally agree that the workaround is bizarre, but only because it patches an alignment scheme that was flawed in the first place.

And -- I totally agree with your conclusion at the end. More than any other area, science seems like fertile ground for a plethora of interesting, non-pigeonholed courses like marine science, astronomy, genetics, biochemistry, etc. -- created and taught by great, passionate science teachers. When you come at an issue with a predetermined answer, reality only gets in the way, and that seems to be what happened here. The reality of great science courses and opportunities in schools has only been an irritating distraction to administrators who arrived hell bent on "standardizing" the curriculum to physical science/biology/chemistry/physics.