Friday Open Thread

Started sunny, ending rainy - another Seattle week gone by.

Five Seattle schools named "Schools of Distinction" for academic improvements in math and reading that put them in the top five percent of improving schools in the state.  Drum roll -

- Alki Elementary
- Hamilton Int'l Middle
- Madison Middle
- Mercer Middle
- Orca K-8

Madison has won for the last four years - good for them.  Likewise Mercer and Orca have won for three straight years.  Hamilton, no slouch, this is their second year in a row to win this honor.

There were 99 schools statewide earning this honor.  The selection is through a group of educational entities; Center for Educational Effectiveness,  Association of Educational Service Districts, Assn. of WA State Principals, Phi Delta Kappa-Washington Chapter, WA Assn. of School Administrators, WA State ASCA and WA State School Directors' Assn.

More honors - two of our elementary PE teachers were honored last week and they are Chuck Millsap from Bagley Elementary and Jennifer Shaw from View Ridge Elementary.  Mr. Millsap was selected as the 2011 WA State Elementary PE Teacher of the Year and Ms. Shaw was honored for her work raising awareness about fighting heart disease and stroke.

Update:  I did want to add the letter (and explanation) from the JSIS principal, Jesely Alvarez, over the pledge of allegiance issue at their school.  (I've also read the e-mails from some parents - pro and con - over this issue.) 

My reading of this is that the decision was principal-driven and that some parents weren't happy when the pledge suddenly appeared and that's what propelled this discussion.  It was part of a BLT discussion but it does not appear that the policy got out to the greater community before the pledge started being said at Monday morning announcements.   The principal states that the pledge will be said during the Monday morning announcements (and at all evening events "where students, staff and families are present").  She does include a history of the pledge and what families and students can do if they choose not to say the pledge.  I would say that it is a more difficult thing for a K-5 student to opt out than a middle school or high school students but they can opt out of it.

Saturday, Oct. 22

- Dream Project Scholarship Kickoff event.  This is to help seniors (and juniors) who are applying for national scholarships with early deadlines learn how to write essays, apply for multiple scholarships and more.  Lunch, snacks, computers and printing provided.  This is at Mary Gates Hall on the UW campus from 9 am-4 pm.  More info at Lily Ly (

-Director Martin-Morris Community meeting from 9:30 am-11:30 am, Diva Espresso at 80th and Lake City Way NE

- Director Maier Community meeting from 10:30-noon at the Lake City Library, 12501 28th Ave NE

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
We are a new Orca K-8 family with kids in 3rd grade and kindergarten. We transferred from a much loved north-ish end school to our local Columbia City school and couldn't be happier. The new principal, Ms. Concie Pedroza, is stellar, and the school has some of the most dedicated teachers I've come across. I'm glad to see this alternative school, long known for its dedication to arts and social justice, coming into its own academically.

- southpaw
Anonymous said…
Not to downplay the hard work of teachers and staff, but doesn't the move of APP to Hamilton, along with Laurelhurst being assigned to Hamilton, have something to do with increased scores? From my estimates, about a third of Hamilton students are in APP.

From what info I can find, the award is based on the change in state scores from 6 years prior. Does anyone have more info on the criteria for winning the award?

-hesitant to celebrate
Getting frustrated said…
Melissa or Charlie or SOMEBODY-I cannot see the comments to the new charter post. This is the ONLY post for which I can't see comments or make a comment. It is the same no matter which computer I use so I figure it's GOT to be some kind of setting on your end. If there is a workaround, PLEASE post it. I know I'm not the only one having the problem.

Thank you.
Charlie Mas said…
At the Board meeting I asked the Board to do two things. They did neither.

I asked them to defer action on the superintendent evaluation tool to allow for public comment. They did introduction and action at the same meeting which denied the public any opportunity to comment. There was no real urgency. Not one member of the Board questioned the need to shut out the public. They should be asked at their community meetings.

Also, I asked them why they repealed the policy that directed them to introduce motions at one meeting and vote on them at the next meeting. Not one of them explained why they repealed that policy. The staff misinformed them when they claimed that the practice is in a superintendent procedure. It isn't. The superintendent procedure only applies to votes to change policies. Also, I don't think a superintendent procedure can govern the Board - who is the boss here?

Ask them about that at their community meetings as well.
Maureen said…
Open thread - public thanks to whoever at transportation acknowledged that out of MS attendance area middle school kids at Option schools are entitled to Orca cards and sent them to the school. It did take four or five emails and a phone call or two, but was resolved by mid October.
Jet City mom said…
I spoke to a teacher last night who is subbing in SPED & he is very concerned that because of the shortage of SPED teachers, many teachers are substitutes. Substitutes do not have to have a background in SPED ( although he does)- he also does not have an aide, but the class size warrants one.

This is in the high school- & I was wondering what other parents/teachers are seeing?
SPSLeaks said…
Did you know that all applications for emergency substitute teaching permits and conditional certificates are public records?

Anonymous said…
Michelle Buetow has been endorsed by ALL Democratic Districts in Seattle. Congratulations, Michelle!

Sharon Peaslee has been endorsed by all Democratic Districts, but one.


Nice job ladies!
Mr. Z said…
Something's going on at JSCEE today. All the principals and asst. principals got asked at the last minute to head down there for a meeting.
StopTFA said…
Sounds like a call to arms to mobilize the balance of Die TFA Jungen.

I'm sorry but I don't see how Daniel Calderon can be construed as "best and brightest".

Not so awesome
Found out that the principals' meeting was a regular leadership meeting that got moved to accommodate a speaker. No big news.
Anonymous said…
Hesitant to celebrate - I have a general ed student at Hamilton, and the school has been great for him. No complaints, and like you said, no knocking the work of the great staff there.

However, you are right. It really is demographics. Two years ago, when it was still at Lincoln, APP became a part of it. Two years ago was also one of the first years in a long time that Hamilton had a waiting list. Perhaps because the new building was almost ready? Then last year, the NSAP plan brought even more north end area students in, while shutting out the kids from other parts of the city who had chosen to bus in (they lost transportation, unless they were older and grandfathered in).

Great school, and to be commended on serving their students. But the improvements are from demographic changes - I'm certain.

- Deserves Credit for Good Work, But Not This
Anonymous said…
more McClure:

Nancy Coogan and Sarah Pritchett are holding weekly staff meetings about racism. I'm wondering -

1 - how can there be an honest pubic conversaition if anything you say can and will be taken down and held against you as Sarah is well-known for her vindictive ways.

2 - Nancy Coogan's materials are twenty years out of date.

3 - the only race being discussed is African American (boys) - what about all the diversity of Asians amd African nationals and Pacific Islanders and Hispanics? Or Kurds and Turks for that matter. Or Celts and British (remember the "No Irish need apply" signs?

4 - Sarah Pritchett seems to be completely unaware of her own staff's multi-cutural backgrounds and families.

5 - the discussions are vague and seem to include a general personal indictment like the old Maoist Chinese self-criticism sessions - gulity and never proven innocent. Is this meant to be a private therapy session in a staff meeting?

6 - no specific incident has been mentioned concerning staff treatment of a student, student treatment of another student, or staff treament of another staff so why this blanket indictment?

This whole thing feels divisive, ill-conceived, and unprofessional.

If there really is something wrong at McClure, then spit it out. Otherwise, why not work from compassion, acceptance, celebration, and trust amoung all staff and students?

Anonymous said…
On the Hamilton award: I was there at curriculum night and Principal Carter addressed whether the gains were due to the advanced learners. They were not. He had the PowerPoint with a detailed bar graph chart comparing the previous year with this year in several demographic groups. The school made incredible gains (reading and math) in FRL students, African-American students, and SPED students - and one other group I'm forgetting (Native American?) . It wasn't an overlap with APP. I'm a huge critic, but let's give credit where credit is due. Good things are going on at that school,

6th grade mom
JC, I'm going to assume you are staff at McClure. I'm not sure this is exactly the right place to hash it out if we don't have all the facts. Have you told the Board? And, if Ms. Coogan as the Ex Director, is working with the principal, then you should go to Kathy Thompson and/or Noel Treat.
Anonymous said…
6th Grade Mom - Yes, there are great things going on at Hamilton! I was also at curriculum night, and I don't remember Carter specifically saying that the gains were not due to APP, but I do remember him pointing out that they had higher percentages of students in the groups you mentioned passing the state tests than before. Hamilton is great, and staff does deserve credit for their hard work. They were a "hidden gem" in my opinion, before APP and NSAP. Now they aren't so hidden.

But the demographics have changed dramatically. No harm in pointing it out.

- Deserves Credit
Anonymous said…
6th grade mom,

Usually the data available doesn't separate out APP & Spectrum kids from the FRL, African American & SPED numbers? So, for example, the SPED numbers usually include kids who were both APP & SPED.

I have not been able to find the kind of data you are referring to from OSPI & would be curious about where to find it.

- 2e parent
TraceyS said…
I want to give a huge shout-out to the kids at Wedgwood Elementary. We held our annual Move-a-thon fundraiser today despite the pouring rain, and those kids absolutely rocked! They were excited and focused, and were really booking it around the track despite the weather, while parents, grandparents, and staff cheered them on. It was an amazing and energizing experience.
Anonymous said…
wow, JC. Your comments prove how much the awareness training at McClure is needed. Why is the focus primarily on African American males? Have you looked at achievement gap lately? Prison statistics? If you can't see that a radical reevaluation of how we serve these kids is needed then you need to open yourself up to hearing what these trainings are trying to show you in spite of your dislike for the messenger.

I don't know either of these administrators but the fact that they are focused on these issues makes me feel like the school is heading in the right direction. The fact that it makes comfortable white teachers uncomfortable is a sign that they are addressing the problem.

By your logic, the problems of black males can never be discussed until everyone else has been discussed even though the others are not in as dire a situation. That's like telling the drowning man that you can't pull him out of the water until all the swimmers are pulled out too.

-Institutional racism in action
CT said…
Yikes, StopTFA and Julian - not only did I not know those were public record (which makes me wonder what else is public record), but this is definitely a "so much for the best and the brightest!" defense.

I didn't see the justification for why this person needed emergency certification, nor why OSPI granted the certification. There are no properly certified subs out there who have better than a 2.94 GPA and no arrest record and are willing to teach at RBHS? Or is this part of Enfield's plan to dumb down her teaching ranks just like NCLB dumbs down students?
Anonymous said…
Institutional racism --

If you notice, JC often uses an open thread opportunity to post something negative about that particular principal. Clearly, it's a case of someone with an axe to grind.

--another McClure parent
Anonymous said…
I don't know what is happening at McClure...

And we need to focus on institutional racism. I don't know how you can focus on that and have it be a bad thing.

and I think its okay to focus on specific marginalized groups at different times.

we need to not see it as a black and white issue though.

I'm pretty certain that the achievement gap is widest for Native American and Samoan students (who ten to be lumped in a category with Asian students). And students that are in these marginalized groups get very little attention or resources.

Anonymous said…
@StopTFA: I love how the supporting document for conditional cert states that "Mr. Calderons application WILL be approved by the School Board" when this was submitted in August. Seems a bit outside what I would consider legal or professional.

@ The McClure Crowd:
There is a lot of focus on African American boys and the achievement gap. There should be. But it should also be specific. Vagueness in these types of trainings is completely counter productive and will demotivate staff. I think it is because so many of the people assigned to do these trainings are very weak and unwilling to address the issues openly and bravely. They mutter, mumble, and give far too many personal anecdotes that make the training a pity party rather than a constructive exercise. That principal sounds like they need to let someone else do the training because they seem horrible at it. That being said...trainings need to happen for other student groups and...for parents about being better parents. Interested, involved, constructive parents who want to help their child rise to the occasion rather than villify a teacher who wants nothing more than for that child to succeed is in my opinion the single greatest reason for the achievement gap.

seattle citizen said…
Race pops up in many threads here. I wonder if a thread dedicated to race and how it IS addressed, MIGHT be addressed, SHOULD be address in SPS is a worthwhile thread to have. I know I struggle with it.
My main struggles are twofold:
1) students are so much more than the categories we place them in: By calling a student "Black" are we assuming something about that student? If so, what? Likewise for the other categories. As we become more and more mixed in our population, this is more and more important.
2) Is categorizing itself racist? Does it perpetuate racist distinctions? Will we ever be able to stop categorizing? When might we do that, what indicators will tell us it's okay to stop categorizing? If we can never stop, isn't it racist?

I THINK I understand about valuing a diverse population (in school and out) but isn't making assumptions about people based on "race" or "culture" itself racist?
Anonymous said…
Sundquist is now going to enforce state law & district policy! From yesterday's Seattle Times article about the flag pledge controversy:

School Board President Steve Sundquist said he plans to talk with interim Superintendent Susan Enfield about enforcement of the pledge policy.

"The School Board's policy is clear. State law is clear. And our job is to follow the state law and to follow our policy, so I'm firmly in the camp that says we need to be doing this," Sundquist said.

---too late & why choose only this one?---
StopTFA said…
Well interestingly the WAC says this about emergency substitute certificates:

(4) Emergency substitute certification.

(a) If the district or approved private school has exhausted or reasonably anticipates it will exhaust its list of qualified substitutes who are willing to serve as substitutes, the superintendent of public instruction may issue emergency substitute certificates to persons not fully qualified under subsection (2) of this section for use in a particular school district or approved private school once the list of otherwise qualified substitutes has been exhausted.

(b) Such emergency substitute certificates shall be valid for three years or less, as evidenced by the expiration date which is printed on the certificate.

Hello-o-o, SEA-A-A, anybody home?
dan dempsey said…
"The School Board's policy is clear. State law is clear. And our job is to follow the state law and to follow our policy, so I'm firmly in the camp that says we need to be doing this," Sundquist said.

---too late & why choose only this one?---

Simple -- Steve likes that law and he is running for reelection.

WAC 181-79A-231 that one he ignores. It covers the issuance of conditional certificates for teachers. He wants TFA and ignores the requirements of the WAC.
mirmac1 said…

Sundquist on record for pandering, again!
StopTFA said…
I believe there is grounds to file an OSPI complaint against a certificated individual. In this case Susan Enfield. If she failed to follow WAC 181-79A-231 by not exhausting the certificated substitute pool before placing unqualified people in your child's classroom, well that is against state regulatory requirements.
LG said…
I went to the Columbia City library today for the Communities and Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (CPPS) meeting listed in a 9/28 post, but no one was there.

What a waste of my time.
Anonymous said…
Anonylmous; JC often uses an open thread opportunity to post something negative about that particular principal. Clearly, it's a case of someone with an axe to grind."

Yep. That's me - the old axe grinder. Just like everyone other person on the blog with an issue be it TFA or math curriculum or special ed or whatever.

I deeply thank the blog for giving us a safe place to air complaints and wrongs and have open discussions - all of which are mostly prevented by the Board, the District, and administrators using threats, name calling, poor job evaluations, etc.

There is something deeply wrong with our current national situation which is why the Occupy folks are occupying.

And there is something deeply wrong with a school district that is so off-track and dysfunctional.

It is our right and our responsibility as citizens to bring these problems out into the open where they can be examined and worked out.

So. I think I will keep on posting until "Someone" pays attention. If that's OK with you?

And many thanks again to the blog for being the one safe space to do so.

"The axe grinder"
dan dempsey said…
JC --

"There is something deeply wrong with our current national situation which is why the Occupy folks are occupying."

There should be tents on the lawn at 3rd and Lander.

There are plenty of wrongs there.

JC keep on grinding .....

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.
CT said…
Here's a letter from a student who was taught by a TFA-esque intern. (the letter writer doesn't specify if it was a TFA person or not)
dan dempsey said…
I just began listening to Michelle Beutow and Sharon Peaslee on Hot Potato Media...

Sharon is amazing ...
Harium and Peter are in big trouble if the voters pay attention.
fynkmba said…
The blogger who hails by the tag of JC is out of touch with reality. To turn around student achievement generally teachers must face the student population which is consistently at the bottom of statistical achievement measures; African-American students. JC is like many teachers and citizens who believe the primary cause for student failure are the students and their families. In doing so JC can absolve herself/himself of the responsibility for turning around student achievement. It is the individual and collective instructional practices on which the principal wants the staff to focus. *"When teachers feel collectively responsible for their student's success or failure, student achievement will rise."

* John B. Diamond, assistant professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Incidents of racial and intolerance ignorance at McClure range from the subtle to the outrageous. Category Outrageous: A teacher greets a Somali student with "Assalamu alaikum", which means peace be to you. The teacher follows the greeting by singing to the student. Featured song; theme song from the animated movie "Lion King." I'm sure the Somali student was felt empowered and uplifted.

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