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Friday, August 05, 2011

Friday Open Thread

Thank you so much for the suggestions on the blog changes.  I'll give updates on the progress but I hope to get it done within two weeks. 

Sad to say but next week the district is gearing up to start meetings after the summer hiatus.  I note that Wednesday there is an Executive Committee meeting and Friday is the BEX Oversight Committee meeting.  I hope to be able to let you know how to apply to sit on the BEX Committee as they are looking for new members.

If you are so inclined, happy Seafair! 

34 comments:

Dorothy Neville said...

LEV announces it will campaign for charters. Note that it refers to them as public charters, just so you know, right? Is that the new buzz word, public charters? Isn't that as redundant as saying red stop signs?

"After having these discussions [about Schools That Work], we've realized that these are very large concepts to move the entire state on all at once. We thought we should have a discussion around allowing a group of teachers and principals to do things differently. The great successes at the top-performing public charter schools across the country can't be dismissed. And while we'll continue to advocate at the broader level, we also will add public charter schools into the discussion.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I saw this Dorothy. I had been planning a thread about charters so this is as good time as any.

I was wondering when charters would come up for a public discussion in Washington State. Now I know.

uxolo said...

Wow, thanks Dorothy.
"LEV announces it will campaign for charters."

Now's the time to start collecting emails between South Shore, New School Foundation and LEV. If LEV doesn't try to suck up more public school dollars now, I'd be very surprised.

SP said...

From LEV's announcement, a live online chat next Thursday- ought to be interesting...

"Join us for the first ever LEV Live online chat to learn more! Get the facts, hear about examples of charters making a difference in other parts of the country and ask questions.

You don't even need to leave the house to attend...just open your browser to http://www.educationvoters.org/levlive/ and watch the conversation unfold.

Thursday, August 11th at noon for 30 minutes

Go to http://www.educationvoters.org/levlive/ at noon on Thursday to join in or just "listen" to the conversation - we'll start promptly at noon!

One more thing! If you have questions that you'd like us to answer during the chat about public charters, please send them ahead of time to info@educationvoters.org"

JC said...

From JC:

For those of you who have not sat in the staff lounge and heard/done this . . . "Haunting Words to Inspire Every Teacher"

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/charting_my_own_course/

Anonymous said...

I've firmly decided that the only way that they're going to convince me that there are "great successes at top-performing public charter schools" is if they develop their own parallel private charter system. Pick a school district -- Memphis, TN might be a good one, and fund a parallel private school system, fully, and run it yourself. Broad can run it and Gates & Broad can fund it. It's expensive (775M for Memphis, which is only $6500/student). But, they can afford it. Then show me that it does better, and I'll consider funding their charter.

(zb)

uxolo said...

We are funding the LEV charter right now. It's called South Shore School.

A new building was built for them. They got to experiment in the new building and now we are paying for that experiment.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good point about South Shore. First LEV joins with them and then announces it's next goal is to bring charters to WA State. (Or at least kickstart that discussion...again.)

I'd have to go back and look at South Shore's 10 years and see whether that extra $1M per year created better outcomes. You'd think in 10 years there would be tremendous gains.

What's interesting is that I don't even really know for sure how much leeway South Shore has on it curriculum but I suspect it's a lot.

Maybe a South Shore parents can tell us more.

(I just checked and they have 14 IAs. Is that a lot for a K-8?)

Chris S. said...

Hate to interrupt a great charter school conversation, but I need some information about single-subject or partial homeschooling. I know some here do it. I'd like to know what district/regulatory hoops you need to jump thru. I've read state homeschooling regs. Is it the same for a single subject? Reply here or to stewcc at hotmail. Thanks

Charlie Mas said...

I will be out of town and unavailable to participate in the LEV event, so I will have to send in any questions in advance.

I usuallys have the same questions about charters:

Here in Seattle, we have a number of alternative schools which allow for different instructional strategies, we have schools that offer extended days, we have schools with special agreements with the teachers for one thing or another such as home visits. What can charter schools do that our regular public schools aren't free to do?

Second question: if there is something that a charter school can do that a regular public school cannot do, isn't it the district-level administration which is creating the barrier rather than the teachers or the principals? So why don't we see charter school proponents focusing more pressure and placing more
blame for the rigid status quo on the district administration instead of villianizing the teachers and their union?

Much of the savings that charter schools realize is realized through the absence of administrative overhead outside the school, isn't it? So, once again, the difference between charters and regular public schools is in the district headquarters, isn't it?

One of the greatest frustrations people have with public schools is their lack of accountability - and responsiveness - to the community they serve. How would charter schools be more responsive and accountable to the public? Could the school community hire and fire the principal or any of the teachers?

Charlie Mas said...

Chris S - There are people on the blog who have done it. More specific advice is available, but we need some detail:

Is it elementary, middle or high school?

What subject?

Does your child ride the bus?

Chris S. said...

Charlie, middle school math and/or LA. No bus.

CT said...

For good peer reviewed research on charters, try http://nepc.colorado.edu/

They also do a nice job "debunking" most of the often-cited charter success stories that are horribly flawed.
Ohio and Florida have some major horror stories in regards to charters and the disappearance of taxpayer dollars - much more money than SPS has ever misplaced. They also are famous for enrolling lots of students up until the count dates, then suddenly class sizes shrink as SPED students and low achievers are "counseled" out and sent back to public schools, meanwhile the funds for that child stay at the charter.
In Arizona, the bulk of the charters serve upper class white students (NEPC has a study on the re-segregation of schools in AZ thanks to charters) and in Utah it is similar. Since they don't offer transportation, that limits their students to those who who have transportation readily available - usually those where one parent can afford not to work and can transport kids back and forth. In AZ, non-certified teachers can "teach" in charters, and in Utah, they can follow an alternative route to certification AFTER they get a teaching job. They have 3 years to get certified then.
Utah has a ton of legislators who either own construction companies who built charter schools or else started the charters and employ all their family members - or sometimes both. In AZ, a previous Supe of Schools started her own charter group and made herself quite a tidy bundle of cash after she pushed legislation to allow charters in AZ. It's incestuous and crooked and such a horrific conflict of interest it isn't even funny - these guys are pocketing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars while writing legislation that lets them get away with it. Arizona also has issues with the lax issuance of charters and lack of oversight. Charter schools are not the magic bullet they are made out to be; while there are some good ones, most do no better or even worse than public schools while lacking the transparency most public districts are required to have. And I won't even get started on the ways they cherry pick students and "encourage" difficult students to leave. Washington should take notes from states who already have charters and not even go there; the funding for K-12 is too tight already, and charters will only exacerbate the problem.

Charlie Mas said...

My daughter was home-schooled in math in the 8th grade. We arranged it through the school counselor. It was pretty easy. We just talked to her and told her we were doing it.

My daughter was scheduled for math for the 6th and final period of the day, so she just left school after 5th period. They wouldn't allow her to stay until the end of 6th period and they wouldn't allow her to take another class for that time.

Anonymous said...

uxolo,

Is there an idea that the LEV and NSF merger means a charter grab for South Shore? Your comment has me wondering?

Concerned South Shore Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Concerned, that was my thought exactly.

Charlie's questions are right on point and the latest stories on charters are bearing evidence of more problems.

The big issue is the teachers union which, of course, could be worked with but if your mission is to get rid of it, well, have schools without unions.

SP said...

Chris,
The K-12 Counseling Manual may help as it includes a lot of the district's procedures, especially in your case if you are trying to get HS credit for those MS classes. The manual is updated annually, and is a moving target on the SPS website, currently found if you go to:

Departments, then to
College and Career Readiness,
Side Bar on the right under “Helpful Links”
Click on “Counselor Manual"

By the way, the title has changed to:
"Secondary Administrative Procedures and K‐12 Counseling Services Manual"

A search on the SPS website for both of these titles comes up empty. This is a good example of what would be wonderful resource for the documents section of this blog (but properly should be easily found on the SPS website!). The new School Board policies refer to the manual but do not provide a link or place to find it!

GreyWatch said...

Not sure if this is widely known or not. Comcast is offering a discounted internet only service for families who qualify for free or reduced lunch. $9.95/mo and they promise no additional activation or rental fees price increases. Also offering $150 computers when you sign up.

here's the link to their site

Anonymous said...

As it's Friday's OT, here's mine to share. Just picked up Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism written in 1979 and read chapter VI titled "Schooling and the New Illliteracy". Wow!

This book was writen over 30 years ago, and yet its relevance in describing and analyzing our American culture, mores, and life rings true even today.

Lasch starts of in the Schooling chapter with:

1. The Spread of Stupefaction
2. The Atrophy of Competence
3. Historical Orgins of the Modern School System (which goes on for the bulk of chapter, but makes a fascinating read about how American (public) school system came to being and the changes it undergone. Lasch writes "the democratization of education took place for two reasons: to providd the modern state with enlightened citizens and to train an effficient work force. He quotes Jefferson that school was to teach our youg people about" the actions and designs of men, to know ambition under disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views."

The most thought provoking thing he wrote was:
"The experience of western Europe anad the United States in the last 200 years suggests that mass education provides one of the principal foundations of economic development, and modernizers throughout the rest of the world have tried to duplicate the achievement... Faith in the wonder-working powers of education has proved to be one of the most durable components of liberal ideaology... Yet the democratization of education has accomplished little to justify this faith. It has neither improved popular understanding of modern society, raised the quality of popular culture, nor reduced the gap betwen wealth and poverty, which rmains as wide as ever. On the onther hand, it has contributed to the decline of critical thought and the erosion of intellectual standards, forcing us to consider the possibility that mass education ... is intrinsically incompatible with the maintenance of ecuational quality.

He goes on to explains why. Not a light read, but, won't be a waste of your time.

-another reader

WSSW said...

So what do people think of Chris Kinsey being the new Chief Sealth principal?

Jan said...

I am wondering if anyone knows how the APP migration from Lowell to Lincoln is going (as well as the "effects" of it -- including the pulling together of the remaining Lowell students, additional admissions (or not) at Lowell in light of the move, etc. Usually, there is all this hoop la over getting libraries packed by the end of school, moving stuff out asap, etc. But in this case -- the APP thing was just sort of "tossed over the fence" in early July. Does anyone know whether things are shaping up well for both locations?

Anonymous said...

WSSW, it's hard to tell from this recent interview with Chris Kinsey about Cleveland STEM.

A Leadership Perspective on Implementing a STEM Initiative

The paper is the work of Margery Ginsberg at the UW College of Education. She is co-director of their AIM Center, which is housed at Cleveland High.

-Steveroo

Melissa Westbrook said...

Steveroo, thanks for that link. Very interesting reading. A couple of things that stuck out:

- The worry that they are not reaching high achievers and they (the students) are not making progress

- they took the whole staff to a week-long conference in Indiana. Who paid for that? That's a lot of money.

- wanting it to be STEAM (with the A for arts)

- that they were really monitoring constant feedback - a good sign.

Anonymous said...

Kinsey is the Design and Engineering administrator at STEM. From this interview, admittedly conducted by nice people with a less than intense interest in or knowledge of design and engineering (probably including Kinsey), I didn't get a sense of how much engineering the students at STEM did in the classes and labs. It does seem that there would have been a lot of possibilities there.

It would be interesting to hear from someone from the Life Sciences side of the school. And to hear a comparison of STEM's Life Sciences curriculum with that of Ballard's biotechnology program. No doubt it's hard to compare the two because even though they emphasize that STEM is an all-city draw, I'm guessing that few if any Ballard biotech students transferred to STEM this year (or vice versa) who would be able to give a first hand account. Unless someone knows the actual figures I'm going to guess that it must have been close to 100% local Cleveland kids at STEM this first year.

With all the money put into the STEM curruculum, is the STEM Life Sciences program itself educationally superior to Ballard's, for the average student?

-Steveroo

anonymous said...

Chris S, we were unhappy with the district 10th grade HS English curriculum and decided to have our child do an online BYU class instead (which wound up being far more advanced than the SPS 10th grade English and my child could move at his own pace). We met with my child's HS counselor and opted him out of 10th grade English, and then enrolled him in the BYU online class for $125. Couldn't be happier.

uxolo said...

Cleveland & Chris Kinsey:
How much funding goes to the AIM Center? It may be nice for the UW to have a place to do research, but what's in that MOU? Is the SPS budget funding the UW program?

How do you spend so much on professional development and then pull Kinsey out of the mix?

Why publish 9th grade data when those kids just walked in the door? To say the 9th graders look better in April (when that article was published) does not seem like good research to me. Better than whom?

If Cleveland isn't working for high achieving kids, (as stated by Kinsey), that is a big problem. And how do they know this?

uxolo said...

Concerned South Shore Parent, when a foundation (or Center from a University) is formed with the sole purpose of influencing how a school is run, what the curriculum should be, deciding home visits are the secret to education (AIM),etc., that foundation or nonprofit (or for-profit) must have a foothold in a school building or it cannot exist.

If LEV raises money now that it has merged with the New School Foundation, sure, it can donate more money, but it can also take more funds for salaries to run its foundation. It is a business. If it pushes charter schools, it can make lots of money opening schools and funding people to tell the school to do as it (LEV) wishes. And our public dollars go to that school, in addition to the foundation's money.

I know nothing about South Shore becoming a charter school. It is something that may be brewing to make LEV more money, more influence. But as Melissa said, where's the data - why accept funds to implement some group's approach if that approach is actually costing the district to administer?

After reading about Cleveland and how much mileage UW is getting out of the theory that Motivation is why our kids aren't doing well, I look at Cleveland as another likely takeover. Gates would love the research aspect, but collecting qualitative data may be more informative for the college kids than it is for the classroom teachers. And Michael Tolley is a critical member of that AIM team. I think we need to watch where our dollars are going. I can't imagine that all those college kids are in Cleveland all the time and it isn't costing SPS a fortune.

Chris S. said...

Thanks everybody! Especially for the directions to info on the new website. As usual I knew I had seen resources on the old website but got nowhere with search funtion or poking around on the new one!

Anonymous said...

oh no. Salon buys a Michelle Rhee argument:
http://www.salon.com/life/education/index.html?story=/mwt/feature/2011/08/06/good_school_excerpt

aggrivated

bexnews said...

Did I miss this elsewhere on the blog?
I think it went official from SPS yesterday...

http://www.cefpi.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=4892

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you! to aggrivated and BEX, both good pass-alongs.

One of the people I really wanted to see gone from the district as part of the "old bureaucracy" was Don Gilmore who seems to get great press but he was in charge when a lot of the cost overruns occurred.

SP said...

Here's a link to some interesting data from the US Dept of Ed's Office of Civil Rights:
www.ocrdata.ed.gov

For 3,000 school districts (including Seattle) they include data from the civil right's lens for each school- it's quite a mix of equitable access to AP classes (incl. enrollment in AP classes per school and testing results, broken down by ethnicity) through Discipline broken down by students with or without different types of disabilities and the types of discipline.

It's ironic that the district has to report these results to the feds annually, but SPS Dicipline office claims that they do not have easy access to annual detailed discipline records. Also, for the SPS annual report's "college ready" data the # of students taking AP tests was removed because SPS said their data was not reliable as it was "student reported" (which we all know is tracked in great detail by the College Board, and now we see also reported for civil rights data).

been there, done that said...

Thanks everybody! Especially for the directions to info on the new website. As usual I knew I had seen resources on the old website but got nowhere with search funtion or poking around on the new one!

Please share! Is there new, updated official info available on the SPS site? I could share detailed info on the topic, but because things change so often I'm afraid it might be out of date. Plus, some aspects vary from building to building because the principal has leeway to make things easier (or not) for you.

Chris S. said...

I was referring to SP's post @ 8/5/11 3:17 PM.