Showing posts from June, 2011

Again, with the Bad Audit

This Accountability Audit Report by the State Auditor was better than the one in February if you are only looking at money.  But yes, money was once again lost and while the amounts are smaller than in February, it still damning and painful.

ASB Audit - Heads Should Roll

There are a couple of folks who, as a result of the state auditor's report on the ASB fund should find themselves suddenly no longer employed by Seattle Public Schools. First, the fiscal specialist at Garfield High School. Whoa! Some VERY bad findings here including about $56,000 in cash and checks left laying about and $169,000 in unpaid invoices. On top of that, about $12,000 that had just gone missing. That person should not be surprised to lose their job over these offenses. Second, numerous procedural and internal control failures around an $80,000 contract with the Urban League for mentoring - WHICH CAME AFTER THE RSBDP SCANDAL and all of the promises that everyone would be good. These failures were committed by the Executive Director of Schools in regard to Cleveland High School. There is only one person who was the Executive Director of Schools responsible for Cleveland High School last year. I don't really see how this person can keep that job after these failures

Work Session on Capacity Management

As I previously posted, yesterday's meetings got started late.  I had been there for 3 hours and they still had not gotten to the meat of the Work Session.   It was pretty frustrating but again, they ALWAYS believe they can get through work quickly.   I can only say that maybe if this district would quit getting poor audits then yes, they would have had more time at the Work Session.  Also, I knew from looking at the Powerpoint that there was no way to get through the information in an hour-and-a-half.  So what I heard from the first part of the Work Session is below.  I am hoping that others who attended and stayed longer can report back on the solutions portion of the meeting and, in particular, what the discussion was with the Board directors. It was Pegi McEvoy, Operations, and Bob Boesche, CFO, reporting to the Board.  They first went over the Demographic Task Force Report.   One theme here is communications.  Everyone on the Taskforce agreed that the district must be

Work Session on Capacity Management Heads Up

Unbeknowst to me, the schedule changed.  They are having an Executive Session from 4-4:30 p.m., then the Exit Conference from 4:30-5:515 p.m. and THEN the Work Session from 5:15 - 6:30 p.m. They are running LATE.   The traffic is horrible and the Mariners game just let out.  As of 4:15 p.m. they had NOT started the Executive session so I don't expect the Work Session to start until at least 5:30 p.m.

Lowell Meeting Redux

Okay, let me just state that when I took a head count at 7:00 pm at the meeting, it was about 75 people.  Imagine my surprise when I got up to speak and saw many more people had come in.  So yes, the crowd was larger than my 75 count. I'm just going to go thru some highlights, review what I was hearing from the first thread and let's see if we can find some ideas to put forth.  (Also, please do not hijack this thread on another topic.  I'm asking nicely.)

Work Session on Capacity Management on Wednesday

I did post this previously about this week's meeting but wanted to put it up again due to the interest in the Lowell situation. Work Session on Capacity Management from 5-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the 29th Here is the agenda with links to the presentations.  It appears that one part will be about creating a system to manage capacity management and the other part is about projections for the future.  (They do have one interesting map showing Boren opening in 2012, Hughes in 2013 and Fairmount Park in 2014 but I don't know who they would putting in those buildings.) To note, this seems like a mammoth amount to cover so I don't expect them to cover it all.  It is unlikely they will discuss Lowell in specific but anything is possible.  Also, the meeting is open to the public but you cannot ask questions nor make comments.  There is a meeting previous to it so when you open the door, don't be surprised to see a meeting already in progress. 

New Principal for Rainier Beach High School

The district announced the appointment of Dwane Chappelle at RBHS.    He comes to us from Arlington, Texas where he was an assistant principal (not sure of what kind of school - Google search shows it was a high school).  He started as a Special Education teacher.  He is African-American.  From the press release: Mr. Chappelle also worked as a juvenile detention officer for Dallas County, helping detained youth and developing programs in academics, group projects and life skills.  Mr. Chappelle said he considers it a privilege to serve the students and staff of Rainier Beach High School, as well as the community. Within the next two weeks we also plan to announce an Assistant Principal for RBHS. I am confident that with a strong team in place at Rainier Beach High School, we will see significant improvements.  I don't have any comment yet from RBHS PTSA leadership. Update Wednesday morning:   T he RBHS PTSA seems to be quite satisfied with this choice.  They said, &q

School Board Candidates At Metro Dems Event

I attended last week's Metropolitan Democrats meeting.  It wasn't an endorsement event but rather, one for their members to get a first look (and listen) to candidates ranging from King County Council to School Board Directors.  It was a good chance to hear from the School Board candidates (although not all were present).

Odds and Ends

Spoke with Pegi McEvoy, assistant superintendent for Operations, and guess what?  Roosevelt is finally getting its security cameras by the end of the summer.   Cross that one off my "to-do" list. I knew RHS had been put on the BTA III list for the cameras and had advocated for them to get moved up the list (the $80-90k cost and the time it would take was a complete drop in the bucket for the district under BTA).  Kay Smith-Blum had even asked for this at an Operations Committee but former head of Facilities, Bill Martin said they had a schedule and Peter Maier backed him up.  I think Pegi might have gone to bat on this one (she's the former head of SPS Security) so I owe her.  From the Seattle Council PTSA: This Tuesday, June 28 , the Washington State Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the McCleary v. State of Washington case.  The plaintiff is arguing the State of Washington is not meeting its constitutional responsibility to fully fund basic education. 

Lowell; What to Do?

I spent two hours at the meeting tonight with SPS staff and Lowell families who  are trying desperately to understand what should be done about the massive overcrowding due at Lowell this fall.  (The meeting was still in full swing when I left.) There was a lot said and I will post a longer thread but I know many of you may need an outlet right now for your thoughts. Briefly, the district is putting forth four options (but one is off the table for the district and one seems to be off the table for the majority of  APP families at Lowell). Options 1) Stay at Lowell.   Obviously, this can't happen as the safety and crowding issues cannot be resolved.  (One parent asked why portables couldn't be put in.  It was not answered but I can only say that portables create classrooms - not bathrooms, common areas or lunch areas.)  Not on the table for the district. 2) Split off 4th and 5th grade APP to Lincoln.   This is the option that seems to be off the table for every family

Heads Up for Health

Not education related but I know in the summer, many families serve more salads so heads up especially for younger children: Sprouts from Idaho firm linked to illnesses in Washington Customers urged to discard sprouts from this source OLYMPIA—A multi-state disease outbreak leads Washington health officials to warn people not to eat alfalfa sprouts or spicy sprouts labeled “ Evergreen Produce” or “Evergreen Produce, Inc.” The sprouts are linked to nine cases of Salmonella Enteritidis in Washington; cases have also been reported in Idaho, Montana and North Dakota.

Seattle Schools Week of June 27-July 1, 2011

Despite school being over, a couple of key meetings this week: Monday Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee from 4-6 p.m.  Some key items on the agenda: Highly Capable grant Wallace grant (this is the arts grant that the district won jointly with the City that was mentioned at the Superintendent/Mayor Town Hall last week) adjustments to school report Walk to Math Disciplinary Appeal Council Interventions Report Attendance Policy The APP Meeting at 7 p.m. at Lincoln auditorium .  Lincoln is at 4400 Interlake Ave North.  We have discussed this quite a lot but key questions include: If the district does move APP students from Lowell, what grade levels would it include? How long would the move to Lincoln be (probably just a year if SBOC is to move in school year 2012-2013)? What will happen to APP in school year 2012-2013?   What is the plan for the ENTIRE Advanced Learning Program?  Will there be ALOs available in schools without Spectrum?   Why is Spectrum diff

Lowell Meeting 7PM Monday at Lincoln

Help Keep Lowell's APP community intact Meeting at Lincoln, Monday June 27 at 7 p.m. The predicted overcrowding of Lowell next fall has prompted the district to address capacity at the school. That's good news. But the solution the district has proposed so far -- and it's not a done deal -- is to send only the 4th and 5th APP grades to Lincoln High School in Wallingford, leaving APP grades 1-3, ALO and SPED at Lowell. Splitting Lowell's APP community for the second time in two years is not a sound solution. So let's help the district make a better plan. WHAT YOU CAN DO: Come to the meeting on Monday evening at Lincoln. District representatives will be there to hear from the community. From Executive Director Nancy Coogan: We would like your feedback on this option. Please join us at a Lowell community meeting: Date: Monday, June 27, 2011 Time: 7 p.m. Where: Lincoln School auditorium 4400 Interlake Avenue N. Seattle, WA 98103 If you have any q

Odds and Ends

Forgot to mention the last Director Community meeting for this school year: Director Betty Patu, 10 am-noon at Tully's, at Rainier and Genesee So apparently, the John Marshall building is being rented to a group called Applied Scholastics Academy of Seattle .   They use the "works" of L. Ron Hubbard who started (invented) Scienctology.  Here's what they say: I see you mention L. Ron Hubbard in your materials. Who is he and what does he have to do with Applied Scholastics Academy of Seattle? L. Ron Hubbard was an American philosopher and educator who extensively researched the field of learning, and identified barriers to study that individuals face when trying to learn something new. More importantly, he developed methods to overcome these barriers that any person can apply. Mr. Hubbard’s written works on education and child development are applied within the school’s program and are directly related to our success in helping students and families. Th

Reporting Violations

Since the Board has a new-found interest in governance, I have tried something new. I have tried reporting policy violations to them and asking them to enforce the policy. So far I have reported two. I reported the superintendent's failure to submit an annual program placement report to the board as a violation of policy C56.00 and I reported the creation of the APP program at Ingraham as a violation of policy D12.00 . In response, I got reply emails from Theresa Hale in the Board office. She said that the Board did get the annual report on program placement and that is it this document and this document . I responded to her that neither of those documents meet the requirements of the policy because they do not speak to how the decisions reflect the guiding criteria for program placement. She also said that policy D12.00 wasn't violated because it provides for additional sites in the vent of substantial district-wide growth, which, she says, has been experienced. She

Tick Tock - Where's the Announcement of the Rainier Beach Principal?

Dr. Enfield has said, via both e-mail and in person, that Rainier Beach High School would receive an announcement of who their new principal is for the fall by today.  (She really said this week but since it is Friday at 4:27 p.m., I'm thinking 4:59 pm would be the cut-off time for this week.) If you are part of the Rainier Beach community, let us know if she sent only the community an announcement (rather than sending out a press release). Update:  it's now 4:45 p.m.  Still no news.

Pull the Trigger

The District is dragging out a number of decisions that should have been made already. In most cases they should just make the decision because they have only a single viable option. There's no decision to be made. 1. Re-open John Marshall as an elementary option school and the site of north-end elementary APP. They need to bring north-end APP up north and there is no other building that will hold the 500 students in the program. John Marshall would allow space for the APP students and a small general education program as well. That would help to relieve some of the overcrowding in the northeast. Enrollment in the general education program should be by choice only. That would bring a lot of advantages. It would give preference to APP siblings and keep families together. It would allow the District to cap the enrollment of the gen ed program so they aren't guaranteeing enrollment to two different groups. It would evade any need to alter the attendance area boundaries. If the

Great News for Ingraham!

I heard from some parents this great news - Ingraham  High school is receiving "RISE UP" funds from ESPN to refinish their gym floor, renovate the bleachers and renovate the weight and locker rooms.    Ingraham is one of four high schools selected by ESPN.  There will be a story on Ingraham on ESPN in the fall after the improvements are made.  From the ESPN story: Currently players can’t take postgame showers because there is no hot water. The weight room is filled with weights from the “1970’s ‘Let’s Get Physical’ videos,” as co-host Chris Spielman put it. Football co-head coach Gene O’Hara said that Ingraham is the “laughing stock” when opposing teams visit their facilities. “When you look around here, you walk into a time warp in 1959 when the school was built. Same lockers, same everything,” Floe said. “This is an opportunity to upgrade the facilities to meet the needs of today’s athlete.” And why Ingraham? Several banners line the windows near the top of

Open Thread Friday

School ended yesterday and I guess you could call this the last Friday of the 2010-2011 school year. You know, I had just posted something different.  It was doom and gloom.  But okay, tell us something about this school year that made you feel good.  Was it a teacher?  Was it seeing your child move forward in school in a tough subject?  Was it working with other parents at your school? What makes me happy is when the Roosevelt High School marching band comes down my street to practice.  I wave to Scott Brown, the director, and try to see if everyone is keeping a straight line.  They all look so young and hopeful and it takes me back to my marching band days.

Like A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off

Yup, that's our district.  I am almost to the point that I would even take a well-run district with Ed Reform rather than this sloppy mess. Are these people that tone-deaf?  Yes, they are, the Board included.  What has got me riled up?  Going to the Operations Committee meeting today.  They had been scheduled to talk about BEX IV but alas, that was put off.  I could go into the other items discussed (before I left early because I was so irritated) but they're not that important. Here's what just blew me away: they want to move NOVA back into the Mann Building by September 2012.  They will then be renovating Meany for SBOC and SBOC will be housed at Lincoln (about 18 months to two years).   SBOC would move back to Meany in about 2014.

Lowell to Split This Fall

I didn't complete my thread on Lowell because of the reaction to the first part.  But one of the issues at Lowell that has some parents frantic is the moving of the Special Education services around the building with them getting less room in inconvenient spaces.  What would happen to these fragile Special Ed students with so many new students coming in this fall?  It would worry you if it were your child. According to my sources, teachers at Lowell were packing up all of today in order to accommodate those space changes (and to allow for construction of new walls to create more classroom space).  Abruptly they were all called to a staff meeting by Principal King. He announced that they should stop packing and that this fall's 4th and 5th graders were going to be going to Lincoln.  The new principal would go with them. Apparently parents have not received notification of this change.  Maybe they received robo-calls or e-mails tonight.  Maybe something will be announced

Too Funny

The Stranger Slog (ever the smarty-pants bunch) gave the three District Position 1 School Board candidates a pop quiz today.  From the thread: I n front of the SECB right now are incumbent Peter Maier along with challengers Sharon Peaslee and John Cummings, who appear sane but must be nutters because they want—actually want —to be on the Seattle School Board. First we're giving them a civics quiz —eight questions you're required to know in high school—then what do you want to know? Put your questions in comments and we'll try to ask 'em Unfortunately, they didn't print the questions but I'll try to ring someone up tomorrow and ask what they were.  Congrats to Peter Maier who came in first at 87.5%, Sharon Peaslee at 87% and John Cummings at 75%.  It is pointed out that those scores are all better than most Americans and most educators (again, no idea where these stats came from). 

Town Hall with the Mayor and the Superintendent

I got there about 5:10 p.m.  A lot of the Mayor's staff, district staff and a middle school rock band warming up.  For all those people, there was no one to officially greet you or tell you anything about the event.  (I get that they needed staff but seriously, it was a lot of people for a simple Q&A.)

Give BIG Tomorrow!

The Seattle Foundation is having a one-day (7 a.m.- midnight) GiveBIG campaign for residents of King County to give to local non-profits with a share of contributions matched with a "stretch pool" of funds from the Foundation and supporters.  Your contribution isn't matched dollar for dollar but the more a non-profit receives, the more they get from the "stretch pool."    You can only give via the Seattle Foundation to be part of the campaign. From the press release: GiveBIG participants can make contributions of any size through The Seattle Foundation’s online Giving Center , which includes information about and evaluations of nearly 1,000 nonprofit organizations working in a broad range of areas: Arts & Culture, Basic Needs, Economy, Education, Environment, Health & Wellness, and Neighborhoods & Communities. In-depth analysis of these areas and philanthropic strategies to support them are available in The Seattle Foundation's Healthy

Board Budget Hearing

The Board is holding their prefunctory budget hearing as required by law. There's no sign up in advance. Just show up and add your name to the speakers list. Then, when your name is called, you can drop your words into the abyss. Just don't imagine that anything you say might have any kind of impact at all. What might you say? You might say something about all of the raises given out in the central office over the past few months. Raises for no clear reason. You might raise some questions about specific school budgets. For example: Why does STEM have just one assistant principal? Shouldn't it have two - one for each of the academies? Isn't that what the contract with NTN requires? Where in the STEM budget are the other things like the NTN subscription cost of $400,000 or the expense for the tech support professional with the $70,000 salary? I don't see them in this school budget. Why is the projected enrollment for Rainier Beach High School shown as 402 in

Rainier Beach High School

There has been much conversation about the happenings at Rainier Beach High School. As we head into the final couple of days of the school year, I feel compelled to comment on what is and what is not happening at RBHS. As of right now, there is no principal at RB, even though the timeline was to have someone hired by the middle of May. I am not on the interview team, but the last update I received is that no one is even under serious consideration at this time. I have met the candidates in the informal "meet and greets" that the district organized. I have to say that I was summarily unimpressed by all of the candidates except one. The one candidate I was impressed by was the assistant principal from Foster. I think in a different situation, he would have been a very good candidate for RB. He understands the school and the students, but at this time, RB needs to hire an experienced principal. This cannot be someone’s first principal assignment. The gentleman from Foster will

The Board's Self-Evaluation

For the past three years, Seattle Public Schools has been working to improve Performance Management. The most concrete elements of this effort have been the development of job descriptions for nearly every job and the development of structured peformance evaluations based on the job description and characterized by the comparison of objectively measurable outcomes to benchmarks, targets, and goals. Contrast that effort with the brief "highlights" narrative the Board used to evaluate their own performance. The Board has succeeded in addressing many significant challenges this year. The Board took decisive action to terminate the employment of the previous Superintendent and the Chief Financial and Operating Officer. During this challenging time, the Board worked together very well, led a thoughtful investigation and decision-making process, maintained confidential information, and was able to quickly restore stability to District operations. The Board has also led other im

Near Total Turnover at Rainier Beach

We know that neither of the two principals currently at Rainier Beach High School will be there next year. Now we learn that nearly all of the teachers currently at Rainier Beach High School are also leaving. It's a combination of factors, including RiF's, dissatisfaction with the school administration, the challenges associated with teaching there, and concern about how student outcomes will impact the teachers' performance evaluations. There will be almost a complete turnover of personnel at Rainier Beach between this year and next. While that might be one of the hallmarks of a transformation, this is not a transformation. In a transformation the personnel turnover is targeted, deliberate, and planned. This isn't. There isn't anyone guiding this turnover; it's just happening. It's a crisis, not a strategy. The school is going to get hit with all of the negative consequences of turnover. All of the established student relationships will be destroyed.

Why It's Hard to Take our District Seriously

Let's go back to those days of yesteryear when we were a district with little money.  The district had: "hiring freezes",   RIFed teachers, laid off central administration workers,  laid off elementary counselors  and the state cut teacher and principal pay Oh wait, that's today, right?  I think anyone looking at that list would say that the district is experiencing a severe money crunch. But as I've always said, this is a district that finds money when it wants to do something.   STEM?  No, don't go out and do the hard work of getting the program at least half-funded by private companies and entities (even though our area is rich with science/technology companies).  No, we just take money from other schools.  (Not saying they shouldn't have created the program but that they could have done it in a way that was more cost-efficient to the district like the STEM school over in the Tri-Cities.)  Consultants?  Sure.  (Even consultants for a depa

Is Susan Enfield Doing a Great Job?

Every so often someone suggests that I take the job of superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. It's a bad idea. I lack the skill set and experience for the job. Not only don't I have executive experience, I don't even have management experience. Others suggest that since I'm not qualified to do the job then I'm not qualified to critique the performance of those who do. That's another bad idea. I can't play second base for the Mariners, but I can assess the performance of those who do. I can't do the president's job or Ben Affleck's job, but I can critique their performances as well. I don't need to have done the job or even have the skills to do the job to have an informed opinion about the performance of the person in the job. What? You think Roger Ebert can act or direct? That said, if I were suddenly made superintendent on March 16 (like Claudius finding himself Caesar) what would I do? What would you do? First, I would assume it wa

Bus and Bell Times

I couldn't recall if we had printed the schedule with both the bus and bell times.  Here it is. Bummer for Denny students - they got the earlier start time rather than Chief Sealth High.  They start the earliest of all the middle schools (7:40 instead of 7:50 am).   Sealth gets to start at 8:30 am along with Hale, Center School and NOVA. I was looking over the list of elementary/K-8 schools that start at 9:20-9:30 am and that strikes me as pretty late for many parents.  If you are at one of these schools, what's the reaction been? Pinehurst, Laurelhurst, Van Asselt and South Shore are the "earliest" later starts at 9:10 am.  Is this a Special Ed issue?  I wonder why just 4 schools would start at 9:10 am.  I also note that the start time for earlier start elementaries ranges from 8:20 am-8:55 am (with stops at 8;35 am, 8;40 am, 8:50 am).

Dick Lilly in Crosscut on the Board's Assessment

Today in Crosscut Dick Lilly wrote a pretty good piece, Seattle Schools' report card: faltering progress on academic goals , in which he credited the Board for " surprising and refreshingly candid language about where the district stands " in their annual assessment of the superintendent and themselves.

Actual Dismissal Dates for Last Day of School

Okay, so I now have it clear about the last day(s) of school for SPS students.  It has been a challenge for all involved, especially Communications, as (1) the info for them changed over two days and (2) the website coordinators have not kept up and there is differing information right on the SPS homepage.  Here's the correct info right off the webpage from Communications: Tuesday, June 21 - Last Day of School for Elementary and K-8 Students with a one-hour early dismissal Thursday, June 23 - Last Day of School for Middle and High School Students with a one-hour early dismissal HOWEVER Tuesday, June 21st, all elementary, K-8 and middle schools will have a one-hour early dismissal (except Aki Kurose which will stay on its regular schedule).   Even though the middle schools are releasing one hour early that day, it is NOT their last day of school. High schools will release on a normal schedule on Tuesday EXCEPT for Chief Sealth and West Seattle which will also release o

Principal Announcements (But What About Rainier Beach HS?)

The district has announced another round of principal/assistant principal appointments.  (I'll list those below.)  But what about Rainier Beach HS ?  When we last left them, both of their current co-principals, Dr. Robert Gary and Lisa Escobar, were leaving to go to other posts (Interagency and Viewlands, respectively). Nearly every other school who has been searching for a principal as far back as RBHS has found one.  It's not for lacking of trying because they did form a search committee and did interviews starting back in early April.  But they still haven't announced a principal appointment. I've served on a principal search committee and it was very structured and, of course, that because you need to be completely fair to each applicant.  Same questions, from the same people, etc.  The district did an initial screening search to find candidates who would meet the criteria - both from their resume and the screening - to be a principal for SPS. The main focuse

KUOW Series on "Paramount Duty"

KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher has created a series running this week called Paramount Duty:K-12 Education and the Recession.   From the KUOW website: In "Paramount Duty," I report on how the recession has affected children, parents, teachers and school districts. I produced this series with assistance from Mike Babb and Anita Rocha from the UW Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology; Shannon Harper of the West Coast Poverty Center; Doug Haddix of Investigative Reporters and Editors; and NPR's Hansi Lo Wang.  The stories will air on Monday on Weekday at 9 am and on Tuesday-Friday on Morning Edition (5am-9am).  Topics: Monday - Auburn School helps Kids Eat on the Weekend Tuesday - Homeless in Mount Vernon Thursday - Staying After School (teachers helping kids catch up) Friday  - The Ask (districts lobbying for support in Olympia) It sounds interesting and I'll be most interested in Friday's report because I'll like to hear what legislators s

Kick-off To Families and Education Levy

I attended the kick-off event for the Families and Education Levy yesterday at El Centro de la Raza.  There were the usual suspects; the Mayor, Councilman Tim Burgess (he heads the Council's Public Safety and Education Committee), Superintendent Enfield, Olga Addae (SEA), and various other education supporters.  Just to note, the only School Board candidates I saw were Sherry Carr and Michelle Buetow.  (If I missed anyone, please let me know and I will update this thread.  It was a small space but crowded.) I have to say it was a little disappointing in that there was only one City Councilperson and one School Board member in attendance.  Maybe they are going to participate in other events around this important levy but it seems like for the kick-off (and, if you are running to be reelected to the Board), you might at least be there to show your support. 

SPS Meetings Week of Jun 20-24, 2011

Tuesday Joint Town Hall with the Superintendent and Mayor at South Shore K-8, 5:30-7:30 p.m.  (it's a two-hour event; I wonder how much of it will be Q&A.) Wednesday Public Hearing on the Budget from 4-5:00 p.m. at  headquarters.  You know folks, it IS worth your while to speak out and go on record.  Whatever your concern or unhappiness with the public, register it.  (I believe you can also send e-mails which will go into the record but I will check.) Thursday Operations Committee meeting from 4-6 p.m.  No agenda released yet. You'll note that I didn't put in the Last Day of School times.  That's because the district website reflects something different from what information I received directly from Communications.   Also, reviewing the information from Communications, it is unclear to me which day middle school is releasing on.  They have it listed on both June 21 and June 23rd. I'll check but the word in the "labels" is how I feel about thi

Quote of the Day (For Exiting Grads)

From the graduation speech that Tom Friedman, author and columnist in the NY Times, gave to Tulane University: What brought down Hosni Mubarak was not Facebook or Twitter. It was a million people in the streets ready to die for what they believed in.   So if you want to get something done in the world, never forget that ultimately you have to get out of Facebook and into somebody's face.

Last BEX Update for the School Year

Lots of interesting information from this meeting of the BEX Oversight Committee on June 10th. Highlights: They still don't have the Committee Charge draft to open up applications for this Committee.  They really need new members as their numbers have been dwindling.  At some point this will be sent to the Operations Committee who will forward it onto the full Board for approval.  I'm thinking the earliest that information will be available will be sometime in August.  I am hoping that if you know someone who might like to serve, that you will forward the information to them.  We need more community members who know the district on the Committee.    The Committee, as constituted, as good input from construction professionals but they also need community to balance it out.  Asking this Committee to provide accountability when the only information they get is from staff is not plausible.  Barbara Kelley, an SPS parent, had a good idea about parents who know the district AND ha

Last Audit & Finance Roundup (Audit)

Audit&Finance Committee (Audit) - from June 7, 2011

Young Adult Fiction; Is it Too Much for Teens?

I love children's literature.  It's one thing that I look back on with fondest during the time my children were growing up.  I loved revisiting old childhood favorites of mine and was so thrilled with all the new literature out there.  (I remember when I worked at All for Kids Books and Music and the buyer handed me a book without a cover - a publishers' copy - and said "This is the next big thing."  I read it and was enthralled.  It was Harry Potter.) But since my boys are young adults, I haven't kept up as much.  But there's a new debate over how much realism should be in young adult books.  The Times had a story from the Scripps Howard news service about this issue.  This debate was first sparked by the 1967 publication of "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton, which is considered the first book truly aimed at teens. Many parents were horrified by Hinton's picture of violent, disillusioned young adults, but teen readers loved the book — a

Uh, Who Took Over the Editorial Board at the Seattle Times?

I ask that question because of the meat of this editorial .  You'd think that Charlie or I wrote it because it is strong medicine down to its last line. I'm not even going to excerpt it - just read the whole thing, please. Maybe it's all the churn between Pottergate and the sale of the MLK, Jr. building.  Maybe it's one poor state audit too many.   Maybe it's the discouraging knowledge that despite having some exceptionally bright and capable people on the Board, we still cannot get our act together as a district. I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe these people on the Times' editorial board, are tired of making excuses for when - when - when ? will the district stop flailing around with crises and settle down to the real business of educating students with no education-word-of-the-day named plans.  Just good teaching with good supports for teachers/principals AND students.   Just well-maintained buildings.  Just a website where you can find inform

Local Blog Perspective on School Board Race

Publicola had a good take on the Board elections based on Sherry Carr challenger, Kate Martin, who says that some of Sherry's high donors from her last election "own her."  What is interesting is that these are some of the city's heaviest hitters and Sherry says she doesn't know most of them.   If out of $149k of donations from my campaign, $84k came from 8 couples, I, as a candidate, might want to reach out to those people and meet them.  (I would just feel weird accepting that much money and not even talking to them.) The article also reports that so far Carr has raised over $9k and Martin $1500. Update:   I would like to add that Carr had most of her donations in her first election come in under $100 and the trend is continuing in this one.   I suspect that is true for most candidates but it's possible to look it up.

Open Thread Friday

 Updated 9:54 am From SPS Parent: Re: Attendance policy   (the vote postponed at the Board meeting) The reason given was that staff's going to take another look at the policy and submit a possible revised version for the next meeting.  Old policy New policy If you have problems with the new attendance policy, now is the time to make your voice heard.  Write to the Board, . Or attend one of the last Director Community meetings of the school year. Peter Maier - 10:30 - noon - Bethany Community Church, main building Director DeBell has canceled his meeting. Also, the Budget book is available for light reading.  The public hearing for the 2011-2012 Budget is Wednesday, June 22 from 4-5 p.m. 

News Roundup (And So Much of It, too)

First up, a commentary from David Brewster over at Crosscut about the upcoming elections citywide.   It gets so much wrong about the School Board that Charlie and I just couldn't stop ourselves.   I'll just hit the highlights: It was different with the Seattle School Board , where all four members of a particularly inept board were swept away (or declined to run) by an informal slate of business-backed, big-organization-experienced newcomers. The result was a transformed board. It changed overnight from a board dominated by petty bickering, meddling, superintendent-undermining, inexperienced bumblers. This time there is a swarm of challengers. I don't know much about them yet, but none seems to have much community stature.  I wouldn't call the previous majority on the Board inept at all but throwing that at all four of them seems wrong (especially if you know those women).  I'm not sure what "big organizations" that Steve, Harium and Michael