Showing posts from September, 2011

CityClub Event: The Best Teachers for our Children

I attended a CityClub event, The Best Teachers for our Children, this afternoon at Town Hall (I was in that building twice in three days!). It was a panel discussion about what makes a good teacher.

Series 2000 Policies

I'm starting to go through the drafts for the Series 2000 Policies. We got them at the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting. There's a lot here and it's going to take some time. They aren't posted anywhere on the district web site, but write to Holly Ferguson if you want a copy.

Open Thread Friday

There a meet-and-greet tonight for School Board challengers Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslees who will be joined by UW prof/meterorologist Cliff Mass  from 6-8 p.m. at the Puget Ridge Cohousing Assn, 7020 SW 18th, north of SW Myrtle.  Next week, the district should have the Oct 1 (or is it today's?) head count that is the final count for staffing and enrollment.  What will the numbers reveal?  Should be interesting. What's on your mind?

Oh Those Kids at The Stranger Slog!

I almost am not sure whether to post this - the sense of humor out there seems thin lately.  But it's funny in an irreverent way and I hope the candidates take it that way.  (And I may like it because I didn't get skewered.)

News Around the District (Ding Dong, the VAX is Gone)

Franklin High School Kicks Off Centennial Year on Friday, Sept. 30th Franklin High School turns 100 years old in 2012, and one of Seattle’s oldest high schools will kick off a year-long centennial celebration in the gym Friday afternoon. The event will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school’s newly-renovated gym and a proclamation by King County Councilmember (and Franklin alumnus) Larry Gossett, who has declared Sept. 30 Franklin High Day in King County. The proclamation will also recognize the school’s significant improvements in student test scores and college acceptance rates. Principal Jennifer Wiley predicts that other big-name Franklin athlete alums, along with Seattle School District leaders who are also Franklin graduates, will be in attendance. Officials of the National Achievement Scholarship Corporation named three students from SPS as Semifinalists in the 48th annual National Achievement Scholarship Program. These academically pr

Seattle Times for Common Core Standards

The Seattle Times ran an editorial today, Core Academic Standards Bring Promise of Consistent Student Preparation , in which they touted the mythical benefits of national common core standards for K-12 education. Once again, the Seattle Times got it completely wrong. Here's a sample: Imagine if parents could know with certainty what their children are learning and in what grade they need to learn things. The result would be a coherent educational system with the opportunity of education truly equalized. Well we already had standards here in Washington state, standards which were more clearly written than the common core standards. So parents already could know with certainty what their children were supposed to be learning and what grade they needed to learn things, yet, somehow, mysteriously, it did not result in a utopian coherent educational system in which the opportunity of education was truly equalized. Gee. I guess it takes something more than just setting standards. H

Instructional Materials Waivers

Trying to finish up on the Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting minutes, I come to instructional materials waivers.  I can sum it up in one sentence. Forget anything happening this year.   Yup, because the committee kicked that can right down the road.  As I mentioned previously, Steve S. and Michael DeB stayed on with the committee regulars, Betty P., Peter M. and Harium M-M.  So there was quite the discussion but most of it was circular.  Harium started off by saying that this issue was generated by discussion at the Board's retreat.  (I didn't attend so I can't fill in the story.)  He said they needed to " refine what the true objective is here, what are we trying to fix ?"  I'm not sure it's fixing something but rather allowing schools to find the best solution.  Michael said he wanted all sites to have the opportunity to examine alternative materials and methods of teaching. Kay S-B had sent in notes saying she thought there neede

Big Screen Film Festival

The Cinerama will host a Big Screen 70mm Film Festival showing 15 legendary films. Many of these films have a different character when shown on a truly big screen. If you or your kids have not seen Lawrence of Arabia on a huge screen as it was intended to be shown, then you haven't really seen it. Nothing else does it justice. The 70mm prints the Cinerama will show are on loan from Hollywood studios' vaults and rarely seen by general audiences. Opening weekend will feature two of only seven movies ever produced for Cinerama’s three‐projector technology, This is Cinerama and How The West Was Won . Cinerama came to popularity in the early 1960s, shot with three 35mm motion picture cameras mounted as one unit, sharing one motor. Three separate projectors running simultaneously merged the film into one movie, shown on a giant, deeply curved screen. Among the more kid-friendly 70mm movies they will show are: The Sound of Music West Side Story My Fair Lady Chitty Chitty Ban

The Stranger School Board Candidate Forum Wrap-up

Here are my highlights:

Candidate Forum at Town Hall

I was at the Stranger's School Board Candidate Forum at Town Hall last night. It was very interesting and I would encourage everyone to look for it on the Seattle Channel. The festivities began with a quick answer round. The MC, Dave Ross, asked a number of questions and candidates would take a position on the stage behind signs that said "Yes", "No", or "Dunno". The questions were pretty good and they caused some folks to struggle with their answers. A number of the answers - particularly from the incumbents - were VERY surprising. When asked if they wanted to change the math curriculum, all of the incumbents clustered at the "Yes" sign. They also clustered at the "Yes" sign when asked if language immersion schools should be option schools. I was not the only person in the audience who wondered why their voting records didn't reflect the positions they were taking on the Town Hall stage. There were some times when the incumbe

CPPS Looking for Input from SE Parents

Communities and Parents for Public Schools has really been doing yeoman's work on outreach to different communities.  I wanted to pass on this info I recently received from Stephanie Jones who is the Director of CPPS Seattle. An incredible group of south end parents has been drafting a SE Parents’ Bill of Rights for Quality Neighborhood Schools.   We have had about 20 parent leadership graduates from Community & Parents for Public Schools to get the ball rolling on this, and they are ready to share it for more input and buy-in.   Next week we’ll be sharing it in a formative way (for advance notice, input, support) with School Board Director Betty Patu, and district Executive Directors Michael Tolley and Bree Dusseault.  Ultimately, we’ll have parents bringing their statement to the school board, to board candidates, to the Superintendent.  And, we’d like to get principals and teachers and PTAs to buy in as well – the idea is that this might become a tool for par

Curriculum & Instruction Committee Mtg - MAP

I wanted to follow up on some notes I had take from the C&I meeting about MAP testing.  (I'm going to do a separate thread on instructional material waivers as this one is quite long.)   The Committee is made up of Chair Martin-Morris, Peter Maier and Betty Patu but in a somewhat unusual action, they were joined by Director DeBell and Director Sundquist for the discussion on MAP and instructional material waivers.

Seattle's Child Part Two: the Challengers Weigh In

 Highlights from the challengers: Sharon Peaslee:   a bit of a mixed bag on financial issues.  She said she would hold administration "100% accountable" but doesn't say exactly what that would look like.  I do like her idea of a citizen oversight committee to review the district budget.  Fresh eyes are a good idea and I have to wonder if someone new had seen the Small Business program go from $100k to nearly $1M, we have headed this issue off much, much sooner.   I also support putting district documents up for viewing.  She appears to be in favor of a superintendent search and names being transparent and collaborative as key qualities for a good superintendent for SPS.  In terms of parent engagement/involvement, she mentions making sure there is some kind of governing body that includes parents at every school.  I can support this because not every school has a PTA but there are likely parents at every school who would be willing to participate in a committee they

Seattle's Child Posts Candidate Responses to Questionnaires

Seattle's Child magazine sent a questionnaire to all School Board candidates and it appears that they all answered it.  Here's a link to their site so you can read all of them at your leisure. I'll read the incumbents first. 

Tuesday Open Thread

As promised, let's try two days of open thread.  What's on your mind? I noticed a huge amount of discourse over charters.  I hope to have a couple of charter threads in the coming days as this is certainly a topic of interest (and some even consider them inevitable but nothing like throwing in the towel before the fight).  Last call for the big School Board candidate debate tomorrow night at Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.  You need a ticket but they are free. 

Capacity Meetings

This is news to me but thanks to North Seattle Mom for this update: School Capacity Planning Meetings Tuesday, October 4 6:30-8pm at Mercer Middle School Library, 1600 S. Columbian Way, Seattle 98108 Thursday, October 6 6:30-8pm at Madison Middle School Library, 3429 45th Ave. SW, Seattle, 98116 Tuesday, October 11 6:30-8pm at Hamilton International Middle School Library, 1610 N. 41st St., Seattle 98103 Meetings will include a presentation by SPS staff, and a question and answer period. Community comments and feedback will be collected, recorded and considered in the SPS capacity management planning process. Not to be ungrateful but only three?  Hamilton covers the entire north end and central area?  I also note that the district stays true to its manner of cramming these kinds of meetings within one week.  (And sadly, the one at Hamilton is the same night as the School Board candidate debates at Olympic View.) 

District Announces Co-Principal for Lowell

The district is announcing that Rina Geoghagen has been appointed the co-principal of Lowell Elementary.  She will continue to oversee Lowell at Lincoln as well as work with Greg King for " success at both school sites. "  It is also stated, " In addition, Marella Francois will not be joining the Lowell staff ."  While this makes some sense, it costs more to have two full principals for any one school.  Given that it is "one" school but at two locations, I guess there was no choice but to make her a full principal.  It sounds like she has been doing a good job, both now and throughout the summer. 

Good for the Times - Good for Voters

The Times has a concise editorial about why this policy of not updating candidate endorsements after the primary stinks.  It is to their credit to see this as old-school thinking in a modern digital age.    The issue: Primary winners used to add updated information, including post-primary endorsements, for publication in the general election voters' guide. But now information from the primary will carry forward to the general election. Voters' guide statements for city of Seattle candidates are filed with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission and are not affected by the change. But other key races, including the Port of Seattle, Metropolitan King County Council and the Seattle School Board are impacted by the new approach.   Voters do not need fewer educational resources. They need more. Harmed the most by the change are challengers who already compete against better-known incumbents for voter attention. Their best reasoning is the one I find mind-bogg

Words Have Meaning

I say that often here - words have meaning .   I bring this up because I have noticed over the last week or so some wording being used here that is pointed at the person and not the argument.   It both hurts this blog and the argument when that happens.   There is also some unsaid (but implied) arguments that aren't really helpful. I noticed things like: someone saying he/she is open-minded (and implying that others aren't).  Opposing ed reform doesn't mean you aren't open-minded to new ideas in education.   For example, I think most everyone here would agree that technology - both in teaching and learning - is and is going to be, a larger part of the education picture.  That's a new idea that has gotten stronger and stronger.   I especially dislike the implication that if you aren't for new trends in education, you are for the status quo.  That is a weak and tired argument and not a worthy one. someone saying that someone hates someone else.  C'mon,

Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee

The Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee will be meeting this afternoon from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. This committee has been totally useless and ineffective for the past four years. That's a fact. I defy anyone to name a single positive that has come out of this committee in four years. It has been chaired by Director Martin-Morris all that time.

Seattle Schools Calendar for September 26-October 1, 2011

Monday, Sep. 26th Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee Meeting , 4-6 p.m. at JSCEE.  On the agenda: discussion of contract with NWEA for MAP testing, instructional materials waivers, Board policies C and D.  Board policy C is about curriculum & instruction and covers a large number of items like course of study adoption, high school graduation requirements, use of internet, adoption of basic instructional materials, school libraries, field trips, assessments, proposal for a new program, career& technical, alternative education, international education, Special Education, effective staff. Board policy D is about Students including student placement, attendance, advanced learning, high school grades/credits, student records, sexual harassment of students or discrimination, discipline, student health and welfare, activities and ceremonies and observances.   Tuesday, Sep. 27th Equity Task Force Meeting, 4-5:45 p.m. at JSCEE (not sure if this is open to the public

Neptune Grand Opening - Free Stuff to Do

I had meant to put this up sooner.  As you may know, the Neptune Theater in the U-District has turned from being a movie theater to an entertainment hall.  This week they are featuring a number of free events that may appeal to a teen in your family (or even adults).  Most of these have some degree of interaction for the audience.  Tonight is free showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. (Bring your umbrella and toilet paper.)   First come, first served and yes, there is a costume contest.  A complete calendar is here . 

More from the School Board Meeting

So in a wrap-up to last week's Board meeting (which I left at half-time), here's some highlights:

Governance Update 9/21/2011

During the Board Comments section of the Board's regular legislative meeting of September 21, 2011, Director Carr delivered an update on the Board's Governance improvement efforts since the disastrous audit of July, 2010. Director Carr seemed very pleased and proud of the progress the Board had made in the past 14 months. I am less impressed.

Education Nation (and a Fox in the Schoolhouse)

NBC is gearing up its Education Nation series this week and having a conference in NYC.   Many of the speeches are to be webcast.   Naturally, this is EST so you either have to get up very early or tape/Tivo them.   I haven't been overly impressed with this series in the past but they do have some interesting conversations scheduled. Tomorrow's include an interview with Warren Buffett, Susie Buffett and Melinda Gates at 8:15 am. One great one will be on Tuesday at 9:00 am - a debate between Geoffrey Canada and Diane Ravitch.  I have a feeling they have more in common than might be expected. I'm going to be on KING-5 news at 8:30 am on Wednesday to talk about parent involvement and whether parents need a union.  (This is their phrasing and no, I don't think parents need a union but I do think they need groups who serve as parent advocates.  I don't think that's happening so much now except at a high level - PTSA advocacy for legislative matters - and at C

The Stranger Forum is Filling Up

As of today, nearly 500 seats have been reserved for The Stranger/Washington Bus/Save Seattle Schools blog School Board Candidate forum on Wednesday, September 28th from 7:30-9:00 p.m. at Town Hall.  Tickets are still available (and free!) but going fast.  You need a ticket to get in.

Washington State PTSA Survey

I can't remember right off-hand if I posted this before but the Washington State PTSA is taking a survey of legislative priorities of parents for education.   The deadline is Sunday, September 25th. 

Obama Takes On NCLB

Score one for Obama.  He waited and waited for Congress to do some needed updating of NCLB.  Did they?  Nope and so he went ahead and is going to grant waivers to states that ask for them.   The concern was about the large numbers of schools (somewhere between 50-80%) were going to be labeled failing.  Today the President will give a speech outlining how states can get those waivers and what they will cover.  It seems clear, though, that only states that buy into the administration's vision of ed reform (see Race to the Top) will get the waivers. This includes charter schools and that's why you may see this push for charters here in Washington state. 

Open Thread Friday

Just as a reminder, there are 4 directors having community meetings tomorrow (see this thread for times/locations).  I note that Director Maier is now having his meeting in a location in his own district (for some reason he had it in Sherry Carr's for a couple of years).  Also, going out to your child's soccer game or other group activity?  Chat up other parents about the School Board races.  What are other parents saying?  If you feel so moved, advocate for the candidate of your choice.  

Tacoma Teachers Approve Deal

Seattle Times story: Tacoma teachers approve deal by 99% vote School starts again on Friday.

Seattle School Board Meeting Testimony-September 21, 2001

Last night was interesting because the Board meeting was split into halves; one half the shiny and prepped TFA folks and the other side ...the rest of us.    What was interesting is that TFA seemed to only want to clap when TFA folks spoke while the rest of us knew the (polite) drill and clapped for everyone.  You notice these things when you've been to a lot of these meetings. I'll just go over the speaker testimony and do a separate thread on the latter half of the meeting.

More School Board Endorsements

From the 43rd Dems: - endorsed Sharon Peaslee over Peter Maier - endorsed Sherry Carr over Kate Martin (this was Sherry's district) - no endorsement in Position 6 (Marty McLaren vs Steve Sundquist) - had previously endorsed Michelle Buetow and voted to contribute to her campaign From the 36th Dems: - endorsed Sharon Peaslee over Peter Maier (this was his district) - endorsed Kate Martin over Sherry Carr - endorsed Michelle Buetow (I believe this, too, was a previous endorsement) - no endorsement in Position 6 Both districts voted, by wide margins, to endorse the Families & Education Levy.

Troubling Safety Issues Around Some Schools

Over the last week there have been some troubling incidents around two of our high schools, Roosevelt and Garfield.  Sometime last night or early this morning, a man was beaten to death just blocks from Garfield High School. Last weekend, there were several incidents right by Roosevelt including Bellevue police using a compression bomb to get into a house to make an arrest and two armed robberies.   (This is also near my house which makes it doubly scary.) I reported these crimes to the Board and Dr. Enfield.  She promptly wrote me back voicing her concern and said that she was having a meeting with Councilman Burgess this week and would bring it up with him.  (He is the chair of the Public Safety committee which also oversees education and, of course, is a former cop.)  I don't know what the answer is - more police patrols around schools after dark or alerting the kids to be watchful at their school after dark - but it is troubling. 

Seattle School Board Meeting - My Testimony Tonight

About TFA – what a long, strange trip it has been.   It seems apparent at this point that our former superintendent didn’t have any real donors lined up – she just assumed they would materialize.   Another in the long list of mistakes she made. It’s good to have that settled except that the press release doesn’t make it clear whether Seattle Foundation is paying for two years or one .   I tried to get confirmation from Communications but they said they didn’t know and I should ask the Foundation and I have been trying with no success.   It might be good to iron out that point. One delicate issue is that the Seattle Foundation named several donors.     Among them are two that have contributed heavily to the campaigns of the directors running for reelection. I would just gently point out that it is one thing to have campaign supporters who you know care about particular issues or programs.   It’s another thing altogether to have campaign supporters who not only care about a pr

TFA Fights Back

I was wondering where local TFA was all this time. We'll find out out tonight's School Board meeting as it looks like at least five people who signed up to speak are TFA.  One, Lindsay Hill, is the executive director of TFA in the Puget Sound area, and another is one of the teachers hired for SPS, Kenneth Maldonado.  I note that there are still four places left on the speakers list. I also note that the action item for the conditional certifications has changed under Alternatives: Do not authorize application for conditional certificates for these candidates.  This is not recommended as these candidates have been through the school-based hiring process and were recommended by the school-based team to be hired.  Failure to authorize a conditional certificate would result in a school-based decision to hire a particular person being overturned.  Furthermore, failure to authorize will require a new hiring process, which could result in disruption to the classrooms and

Suggestions to improve the blog

We're all ears.

Staffing Increases/Decreases

I hear that Eckstein had to lose a .5 FTE.  I find it hard to believe they lost enrollment but maybe they overstaffed believing it would be higher?  Anyone? And then there was this in another thread: "I just got my robo-call from Hale high school saying that they've been given 3 new staff based on student enrollment. Chemistry, Algebra II, and a 10th grade "core" teacher. Some students will see a schedule change, but classes will be smaller." That's worth looking into.  I'd love to know if Hale got filled following their new rebuild because 3 new staff is quite a lot so good for them if they did.  

Advanced Learning

This is likely to be one of my last posts on Advanced Learning.  Oh, not because I'm not interested or don't care.  But frankly, I'm tired of caring.  I'm tired of waiting for this district to at least have a program that is coherent and easy to understand.  So I'm done on advocating on this topic in any big way. This comes on the heels of having a small discussion with Dr. Enfield about Spectrum and then a longer meeting with Dr. Vaughn (the head of Advanced Learning) and Roger Daniels, consulting teacher.   These were good conversations and I did feel like they were listening.  But I don't think they really care that the program makes sense to parents.

Seeking a Diversity of Voices

I would really like to hear from folks who disagree with me. They may be cautious about commenting here on this blog. No one likes to feel like they have been shouted down, attacked, or had their integrity or intelligence insulted. So I would like to create a safe space for people who have another perspective so we can discuss these things in a civil, courteous, and respectful manner. Towards that end, I'm going to try an experiment. Here at Save Seattle Schools, we delete spam comments and unsigned, anonymous ones, but it is not our practice to edit or censor comments for content. This is a free forum. On this thread - just this one - I will remove any comments that are not civil, courteous, and respectful. I want to create a safe space for people to disagree. We'll see how it goes. In particular, I would like to hear from people who either support any of the School Board incumbents for re-election or support the hiring of Teach for America corps members as teachers in o

School Board Races Getting Tough

In a hard opening salvo for the School Board elections, the SEA voted no confidence in Board President Steve Sundquist .  The word is that it centers around his unwavering support for TFA. In other news, a raft of school board candidate forums have popped up so here's an update (please let me know if I missed anything): Tuesday, September 27th , Special Education PTSA School Board forum, JSCEE, 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 28th - Town Hall at 7:30 p.m., 1119 8th Avenue (at Seneca) The Stranger's forum with interactive input from the audience (both questions and reactions).  Free but ticket required (can print at home) Tuesday, October 4th , Bryant Elementary PTSA Candidate forum, 7-9 p.m., 3311 NE 60th Street Tuesday, October 11th - North Seattle School Board Candidate forum, Olympic View Elementary, 504 NE 95th St. from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., free childcare available. Tuesday, October 18th - West Seattle Candidate forum, Madison Middle School, 3429 45th Ave. SW

Seattle Schools This Week, Sep. 19-24, 2011

Tuesday, September 20th @ 7:30 pm the 43rd Legislative District Democrats will be voting on endorsements , including three School Board seats. The 43rd LD meets at University Heights Community Center, 5031 University Way NE  Wednesday, September 21 Community Meeting with Director Sundquist , from 11 am to 12:30 p.m. at the Delridge Library, 5423 Delridge Way SW Presentation by PASS (the principals' association) to the School Board on goals for this school year, from 5:30 -5:45 p.m. at headquarters (right before the School Board meeting) School Board meeting, 6-9 p.m.  Agenda is fairly short so it shouldn't be three hours.   There are some facilities acceptance items, approval of the High Point Promise Neighborhood application (which seems like a good deal as the money, $455,472 is "in-kind" from existing grant dollars and is for services at West Seattle Elementary and Denny Middle School), the postponed Conditional Certification for two TFA teachers, int

Seattle Schools: Getting Into the School You Want

A reader asked for a thread about the status of their out of attendance area siblings getting in this year. I know we did hear from a Denny/Sealth reader in the Open Thread Friday this week who said the waitlist at Sealth had not moved at all.  The reader who made this suggestion had a troubling story out of Bagley Elementary so I hope she will repeat it here.  Apparently parents who wanted the Montessori program at Bagley were told it would be better to apply for the regular program and are now languishing on the regular list and somehow out of area parents are getting into the Montessori program.  It sounds very frustrating.  What are you seeing?

TFA and Apple - What Happened?

 Thanks to Mirmac 1 for this update. The Daily Kos had a story about one woman's story about Apple's program to have customers donate old iPads to TFA teachers.  Her story of getting passed around at Apple corporate reminds me of my efforts to figure this out.  From the story: After being passed around on the phone from one corporate office to another, I finally asked Jerry in marketing if Apple knew that Teach for America recruits weren't really teachers -- that their claim of "Teach for America takes well-trained teachers—referred to as "corps  members"— was completely false, and that the campaign was deceptive.  I said it would be great if Apple  were offering donated iPads to real teachers, but the company is misleading donors when it tells them their donation will go to a Teach for America "teacher." The marketing guy then said this.  "We paint with a broad brush when we use the term teacher ."  He said he considered hi

Looking Hard at Facilities Issues Costs the District More Money

From the Seattle Times comes this story about how much money it is costing to review the Facilities department.  Sigh. Yes, it wasn't just the Silas Potter-connected programs but the whole thing is getting a good look-see.  From the article: While the district's initial consulting contract was $25,000, the scope of work quickly grew. The district extended the contract three times for varying amounts that now total $162,000, according to records obtained by The Seattle Times under the state's public records act. I have to wonder, out of all the things the Times could investigate, how they picked this one but fine. It's a great thing, frankly, because ALL of Facilities and Capital Projects should get this look.  It's disturbing to listen to Board Committee discussions on these topics and get worried about where the money is going.  From the article: The hiring of the consultants and the scope of their work indicate the department was more troubled than

Low-Cost Bike Helmets

Walking around Green Lake today I saw a notice about a bike helmet (and sports helmet) sale tomorrow (Saturday, the 18th) from 10 am - 2 p.m. at Evans Pool.    The helmets cost $10 which is a great deal for a brand-new helmet.  Evans Pool is in the Green Lake Community Center which is to the east of Green Lake by the playground.  I believe Cascade Bike Club is putting this on.

Open Thread Friday

The end of the first full week of school so how goes it? News from the 34th Dems Endorsement meeting: Position#1 - Sharon Peaslee Position#2 - no endorsement Position#3 - Michelle Buetow [updated] They had previously endorsed Marty McLaren for Position #6 in West Seattle. [end update] I also am assuming they could not get consensus on a vote for Sherry Carr/Kate Martin so they have no endorsement. Also, congratulations to Loyal Heights Elementary which was named one of the 304 Blue Ribbon Schools by the US Department of Education. This honor is given for public/private elementary, middle and high schools where students are either all doing well or where the achievement gap is closing. I note that Loyal Heights had requested a waiver to use Singapore Math and it was denied.

News Round Up

Loyal Heights Elementary named Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education for high pass rates on the state tests and a narrow achievement gap. Tacoma teachers ordered back to work by judge , but the defiant teachers stay out . The superintendent of Lake Washington schools leaves for a job in Singapore. I wonder if his replacement's name will be familiar to us. Lots of National Merit Scholarship finalists from all the places that always have a lot of them.

Our Mystery Donor Revealed

From Dr. Enfield's office: The Seattle Foundation President and CEO Norm Rice today announced funding for Teach for America in Seattle Public Schools. I want to thank The Seattle Foundation and all the donors for their support. Please see the attached announcement for more information. From the district press release: The TFA teachers receive a typical first-year salary from the District and are members of the Seattle Education Association. They will, however, receive additional support from TFA during the school year. The Seattle Foundation will cover the $4,000 fee per teacher paid to TFA– an estimated $20,000 total. This fee is used to offset the cost of training. “We know that an exceptional teacher in every classroom can help close the achievement gap and increase the academic success of all of our students. Teach for America brings even more exceptional and motivated teachers into our classrooms,” said Norman B. Rice, President and CEO of The Seattle Fou

Where Does Education's Role End and a Parent's Begins?

I read Jerry Large's recent column in the Times and came away feeling confused and unsure of what I thought I just read.   Maybe it's just ignorance on my part (and I'm willing to hear that if that's what you think). 

Seattle Board Procedures - Series 5000

Today the Board will be holding a Work Session on the Board policies numbered in the 5000s.  The meeting is from 4-6 p.m. at headquarters.  These policies cover human resource matters so you might think it's only personnel issues.  It is but, of course, the SPS students and parents interact with teachers and staff so having awareness of these policies is important.  For example, volunteer athletic coaches for the district have to have a fingerprint check whereas regular volunteers only have to give a name and birthdate for the Washington State Patrol's WATCH program.  (When I was volunteering, everyone had to do a fingerprint check.)  I don't know why the district has changed this policy; it is more expensive to do fingerprint checks than the name/birthdate check. Keep in mind that with both, they are checking for criminal history conviction records only for the state of Washington.  Interestingly, the WA State Patrol website says: WASIS cannot guarantee the recor