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Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Open Thread

Good news from both the district and the Times,
  • West Seattle Elementary has a brand-new library with new books, paint, carpetings and 10 iPads via a partnership between Target and the Heart of America Foundation.   The projected cost was $200k.    Mayor McGinn attended the ribbon-cutting.   Motivational quotes are part of the new library:  She pointed to new motivational quotes on the library's walls such as "Un libro es un amigo que nunca te dara la espalda" (Spanish for "A book is a friend that will never leave you") and "It is important to remember that we all have magic inside us" (from J.K. Rowling).

  • Ballard High School student Meron Kasahu , along with 826 Executive Director, Teri Hein, were awarded the 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from first lady Michelle Obama at the White House on November 2nd.  
The award is the highest recognition for community-based arts and humanities programs, such as 826Seattle. The non-profit organization is a writing and tutoring center that helps students ages 6 through 18 improve their creative and expository writing skills. 

Kasahun is the daughter of a single Ethiopian immigrant mother. She began attending 826 Seattle’s after-school programs more than 7 years ago and has been a regular at the Greenwood based nonprofit ever since.

She has served as a youth mentor at 826 Seattle and is a member of its youth advisory board. She is president of the Ballard High Black Student Union and is an active member of Teens Against Tobacco. She has been an editor at her school newspaper, the Ballard Talisman.

A BIG shout-out to 826 for their superlative work in working with youth.  
  • Yet another SPS teacher has been honored with a Teacher of the Year Award.  This time it is Michelle Green, a teacher at South Lake High School, who received the 2011 Nancy Johnson New Teacher of the Year award from the Washington Family and Consumer Sciences.  She now goes on to compete at the state level. 
"She (Green) helped me to look ahead to touch my goals one step at a time even outside of school," said former student Tiffany Anderson.  

Green helps teen parents get certified to work in a daycare, brought leadership opportunities to students, and more resources to her students.

 What's on your mind?

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

JSIS now has an assistant principal. Here's Principal Alvarez's announcement and welcome:

Today I am pleased to announce the appointment of Bruce Rhodes as Assistant Principal at John Stanford International School.

Mr. Rhodes joins us from the Edmonds School District where he served as the English Language Learner (ELL) Coordinator. An educator for more than 20 years, Mr. Rhodes has considerable experience providing comprehensive support to students, families and staff. Mr. Rhodes brings expertise in the areas of ELL, counseling, and professional development of teachers.
Mr. Rhodes has his Masters in Counselor Education from Westminster College and his Professional Certification in Educational Leadership from Seattle Pacific University. A classroom teacher and counselor for 17 years, he has worked in a variety of school settings and he has considerable experience working with and meeting the needs of diverse student populations.

Understanding that exceptional instructional leadership provides the cornerstone for student academic achievement, I want to do everything I can to build upon the solid foundation from which our school and students can continue to grow and thrive. I believe that Mr. Rhodes will compliment this foundation very well.

Please join me in welcoming Mr. Rhodes to the John Stanford International School community. I know he will be a positive addition to our learning community!

-JSIS mama

mirmac1 said...

Just a reminder:

NOW is the time to let your elected state representatives know where you stand on funding cuts and revenue to fund basic education.

Dorothy Neville said...

Head's up about student newspapers. See Phyllis Fletcher's piece Here

Jet City mom said...

Here is one district which is reducing the numbers of tests they give students.
But not in the way you would hope.
No more finals or mid-terms

Dorothy Neville said...

The October A&F Bond Status Report

Here's the status report Melissa discussed in a previous thread. Sharon also referred to it while campaigning against Peter.

Not sure how many are interested in reading it yourselves, but now you can. The next A&F committee meeting that might discuss this is Thursday November 10th.

Jet City mom said...

Seattle schools calls dyslexia " specific learning disability". ( or they did) As far as I can tell, it is so they don't have to use the prescribed mode of instruction that has proven to be successful with dyslexia.

I wonder if this study will change that. ( although SPS doesn't use IQ tests anyway- do they?)

Dyslexia not tied to IQ

dan dempsey said...

Question of the Day:

What does the substitute teacher pool look like in the SPS? Does it have adequate numbers of substitute teachers?

The reason I ask is because of :
WAC 181-79A-231 (4) on Emergency Substitute Teachers.
---------------------
(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.

-----------------------------

So is the Seattle situation bad enough that Emergency Substitute Teachers are needed?

Susan A Enfield as of Nov. 1, 2011 had still not requested the Conditional certs for three TFA corps members authorized by the Board on (9-21) and (10-5) but she has those same three still teaching on "Emergency Substitute Certificates"....

------------------
Note the Reason Given in section B of the ...
District Request for Emergency Substitute Certificate on the next to last page HERE. =>

-----
Section B

Ms. Robinette has been selected to teach in the Seattle School District and is a Teach for America candidate. Her conditional certificate will be approved by the Seattle School Board and she will receive her certificate once processed by OSPI. To ensure that she will be eligible to teach, Emergency Substitute Certificate is requested.
-----

Signed by Enfield on 8-12-11

Emergency Sub certificate issued 9-23-11

Board Authorized SAE to request conditional cert on 9-21-11

as of 11-1-2011 Dr. Enfield had not yet requested a conditional cert from OSPI.

Emergency Sub is limited to 30 days of consecutive service in one assignment.

StopTFA said...

Interestingly, Dorothy pointed out to the Board that the Personnel Report for September (or October) shows Ms. Robinette hired on 9/1/11... The Board didn't care.

Dorothy Neville said...

StopTfA, actually the October Personnel Report had Ms Robinette with a start date of JUNE 1, 2011. And yes, I was ignored, the Personnel Report stayed on the Consent agenda. However, the November Personnel report got waylaid by an issue Chris Jackins mentioned. And I got special apology from Noel Treat who admitted he dropped the ball with following up in October. Evidently Mr Apostle was not at that meeting. He WAS at this week's meeting and he came over to ask me for details, said it was the first he'd heard of the issue. Any errors in personnel reports are unacceptable, he said. When I told him one issue was a TfA recruit listed with a start date of June you could practically see steam coming out of his ears. I emailed him Thursday morning with the details of that and other issues I found and got a prompt reply that he will follow through.

cascade said...

That's nice and all Dorothy, but Apostle is a temp fill in. Don't get your hopes up for longterm HR change just yet. Like TFA there will shortly be churn, quite possibly leaving us farther behind than when we started.

Maggie Hooks said...

Questions for the group here: How is transportation going? Have the kinks of the new school year mostly worked themselves out? Is your bus on time? If not, does your kid still get to school before the bell? I ask because our bus has never been less than 10 minutes late in the morning. The district definition of "late" is 20 minutes late. The 10-minutes-late bus gets my kid to school just before the bell, so any later pick-up makes him late to school. Yesterday, the bus was over an hour late. I don't know how late or if it ever showed up because we walked home and drove the car. We don't ride the bus every day, because we often ride bikes, but I call transportation every time the bus is late. The people in transportation are generally helpful, sympathetic, even apologetic, but every day there is a different one-off excuse. Yesterday, I went down to the JSCEE to complain in person. I looked at the route map, which looks like spaghetti, so there's one part of the problem. The other problem is the stacked? routes: a delay in the first route makes the second route late, and so on. I talked to the principal and she asked me to write an email, which I will do. But, really that is a bit of a farce -- the district knows the bus is late, the school knows the kids get to school late, but I have to complain for them to be properly motivated to get kids to school on time? For some kids, the lost instructional time is even more because they have to eat breakfast when they get to the school. And this line of complaint doesn't include any of the dissatisfactions particular to my specific kid: It took 3 weeks to be assigned a stop and times, after transportation was granted. Our stop was moved further away from home and the school, said to be by a computer, and we've been in the coordinator's queue for at least 2 weeks trying to move it back, while the bus still DRIVES BY the original stop. Not to mention the bus is always late in the afternoon, too.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Cascade, actually Mr. Apostle IS staying on so he is the go-to HR person now.

Maggie, whoever is your Board rep, invite him or her to check out your route. Explain what you have done so far and your worry that this is what it will be like the entire year. Let us know if he or she says yes (or what they think can be done).

Anonymous said...

Asian Americans are the most bullied in US schools.

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.1732b21b28ee34447047f9aa12dd08c5.b31

I've watched Asian kids being treated as invisible at McClure.

I'm curious what the district is doing about this specifically, if anything.

Anyone?

-JC.

Jack Whelan said...

It's interesting that after a disastrous several years of top-down corporate reform in the late nineties ealry 00s, San Diego Schools has moved to "community-based" school reform. Here's what Ravitch has to say about it after recently visiting there:

"It was a different story when I returned to San Diego in 2010. The leadership of the district—both the school board and the superintendent—was working harmoniously with the teachers' union. All had coalesced around an approach they called "community-based school reform," where the central themes were collaboration and mutual respect. Instead of behaving as adversaries, the leaders, teachers, and parents joined to decide what should happen to improve education in every community.

Adhering to this model, the district leadership refused to apply for Race to the Top funding. It rejected the U.S. Department of Education's demands for competition and accountability, preferring to implement its own community-based, collaborative vision of school reform.

The district is now led by a dynamic school board chairman, Richard Barrera, and a low-key superintendent, Bill Kowba. Barrera has a background as a community organizer in the labor movement, and Kowba is a retired rear admiral with 30 years in the Navy and administrative experience in the San Diego public schools. Together, they are passionate and effective advocates for the San Diego public schools." (link: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2011/11/will_san_diegos_public_schools.html)

Me again: Dynamic school board, low-key superintendent: that sounds right to me. Also interesting they decided to opt out of RttT, since as the rest of the post points out how financially strapped their district is. I don't know much about the situation in San Diego. Anybody reading here have a take on how things are going down there?

In any event, I am convinced that this community-based approach adapted to Seattle realities is the way to go if we are serious about restoring stability and good order to Seattle Schools. No solution is perfect, but top-heavy solutions are inherently unstable, and I believe that sooner or later we will go to a more bottom-up form of organization and accountability, but I fear that it will be later rather than sooner if we don't have a change in leadership starting next year. Let's hope we won't have to learn the hard way as San Diego had to.

Brian M. Rosenthal said...

Maggie Hooks - Look out for a story in the Local section of Sunday's Seattle Times about that very issue.

-Brian M. Rosenthal
Education reporter, The Seattle Times
www.twitter.com/brianmrosenthal

someone said...

@Maggie - have friends who work in Transportation and have passed along your comment to them -

(just FYI - they are not allowed to use internet at office for anything other than work stuff (even reading work related news is off limits), so those who were tracking blog comments on transportation issues here can't anymore.)

Anonymous said...

And Seattle Times has managed to wedge in yet another Vote Incumbent on its editorial page this afternoon.

Not Voting Incumbent

dan dempsey said...

Election 2011: recommendations for Tuesday's Ballot

at the Seattle Times

Christina said...

Helping out "Not Voting Incumbent" by supplying link.

WV: "worse" - for real.

dan dempsey said...

Seattle School Board —

Voters should go with Peter Maier, Sherry Carr, Harium Martin-Morris and Steve Sundquist, incumbents with experience and professionalism.

This is the best way to ensure stable and consistent leadership rather than return to activist politics voters swept out four years ago.

seattle citizen said...

Maggie - regarding the suggested email: The principal might have suggested this route in order to encourage documentation. While they MIGHT keep a phone log downtown to register calls and the content of them, an email is forever, right? Same with the suggestion by Melissa that you contact your Board rep (I'd also suggest contacting your zones Ed Director) - Use email because then there's a "paper" trail of contacts.

dan dempsey said...

So after I ran data and discovered how poorly the first year of Cleveland NTN STEM option school went... I bumbled into this piece.

Written by Sen Rosemary McAuliffe and UW Prof. Ed Lazowska.

While much of the article is OK .....

Here is an example of pure HYPE---

"Toppenish High School is a great example of this success. It is growing in popularity and improving test scores. Enrollment increased 400 percent in pre-calculus and 61 percent in trigonometry class over the past three years, both classes necessary for STEM careers."

As far as Math goes this is 100% pure nonsense.

I do not believe that placing students into courses with nice titles = learning.

There is NO Evidence of improved math test scores at Toppenish high school or in the School District for high school students.
--------

10 grade WASL and HSPE scores were declining:
YEAR ---------SCHOOL --- District --- STATE
2006-07 WASL -- 38.5% -- 34.8% -- 50.4%
2007-08 WASL -- 27.9% -- 25.7% -- 49.6%
2008-09 WASL -- 24.3% -- 22.1% -- 45.4%
2009-10 HSPE --- 19.0% -- 14.0% -- 41.7%

----------
There were a total of 171 students in the District that took algebra I and the EoC in 2010-2011
Here are the results:

level 4 - 0.0%
level 3 - 8.8%
level 2 - 25.7%
level 1 - 63.7%
----------

It is appalling the amount of selling that is being done .... for STEM. When results are poor why lie about them?

The testimony by Cleveland's Principal at the most recent board meeting concerning a waiver from the 150 hr/credit requirement neglected to mention test score changes from Spring 2010 to Spring 2011 the first year of Cleveland STEM.... which were unimpressive and an absolute disaster for Black students.

Is the public ever entitled to the truth?

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Does anyone know how can I find out
which schools the TFA recruits have
gone to?.

Maggie Hooks said...

Thanks to everyone for the help. I've written a letter to KSB and will send it on to the Ed. Director also. I'll let you all know what kind of response I get. @Seattle Citizen -- you are absolutely right about the desire for documentation. I still think it is a valid question why my discontent is what needs documented. Although, maybe I'm giving too much credit by assuming the district documents the departure and arrival of its buses...

Sahila said...

Seattle-ites: close your bank accounts and transfer your money to a Verity Credit Union account tomorrow (Saturday 5 November); tell them I sent you & I'll donate the referral cash reward to OccupySeattle...

dj said...

My kids only ride their busses in the afternoon, The earlier of their busses is, I think, second shift, and is usually about five minutes late. The other bus is the third shift and is almost always 10-15 minutes late. I wouldn't care so much about the 10-15 minutes, but thanks to these multiple shifts, that kid already isn't getting out of school until 3:40.

The actually distressing thing one of the us drivers does, however, is leave two kindergarten students in the care of whatever parent (not theirs) is present when the bus shows up if their care provider isn't available. I am not going to leave five-year-olds to fend for themselves, obviously, but that bus driver doesn't know me or my child care provider, and neither of us know those kids.

peonypower said...

@emerald kitty
SPS for dyslexia uses that gap between student ability (not quite an IQ test- measures more than this) and academic progress. My son was finally diagnosed in 2nd grade. At which point we had already hooked up with a private tutor who used the letter, sound, picture method. It took a year, but he learned how to read and now he no longer has an IEP for reading. I wish more elementary schools used the method because it helps students also learn how to spell.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Best comment at the latest Times' "vote for professionals" SB endorsement:

"I think the Times should come out with a special ALL School Board incumbent Sunday Edition! That's far more efficient than the daily smattering of pro-ed reform BS they print all week long."

No kidding.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone who applied for AL testing heard anything back (scheduling the test)?

- D's mom

seattle citizen said...

@dj -
"The actually distressing thing one of the us drivers does, however, is leave two kindergarten students in the care of whatever parent (not theirs) is present when the bus shows up if their care provider isn't available."

Is that even legal?! People who volunteer in schools and are left alone with children without a certified teacher present are required to be background-checked. Why on earth would it be okay to leave a five-year-old with whatever adult happens to be standing around at the bus stop? This should be reported and stopped. I understand the driver's need to continue on their route, etc, and don't really blame them (hey, parents are all caring people, right: It must be okay to leave kids with them!) but this seems wrong. But what do I know,I don't know the rules and regs of this.

RosieReader said...

Why should a bus driver wait for anyone's parents to show up at a bus stop? Yes, most people in our day and age think a kindergartner should not walk the three or five blocks home alone. But it's not the bus driver's responsibility to ensure that someone is there to,pick up the kids. Think of the downstream effect, that poor last kid on the bus.

RosieReader said...

Why should a bus driver wait for anyone's parents to show up at a bus stop? Yes, most people in our day and age think a kindergartner should not walk the three or five blocks home alone. But it's not the bus driver's responsibility to ensure that someone is there to,pick up the kids. Think of the downstream effect, that poor last kid on the bus.

Anonymous said...

D's mom-- re AL testing-- my daughter took the test at her school a couple weeks ago. You better call or email the AL office and make sure they have your paperwork.

another mom

Anonymous said...

Rosie, I totally agree. Why should the bus driver wait around for people not concerned enough about their 5 year olds to be on time to the busstop? You should be annoyed with the people who count on you to do their parenting for them, not the driver, who is working for a living with a lot of pressure to be on time with an impossible route to keep up on...

--where are the parents?

Lori said...

If you read the FAQs on the Transportation page of the web site, you will see that yes, it is normal practice to drop off children without someone there to receive them, regardless of age. Exceptions are made for preschool, Headstart, and "Special Services" students.

A child can say that they are not comfortable getting off the bus if they see that no one is there to meet them. The driver is supposed to continue on the route then return the "undeliverable" student to his original school or make another attempt to drop him at his stop after finishing the route. When this happens on a first or second tier route, it makes the bus late for subsequent routes (this has happened on our bus a few times and explains why one day last year, our bus was 2 hours late!)

I do think this policy was reasonable under the old plan where stops were only a block or two from your home. But now that some kids are assigned up to 1 mile from their home and need to cross arterials, I do wonder if it's time to reconsider allowing young children to be left at stops without someone to meet them. At least with community stops, there will usually be other adults there who would be willing to wait with a child for a parent to arrive. A parent at our stop put together a contact list, which is a great idea to help all of us look out for one another's kids.

Anonymous said...

Lori said...At least with community stops, there will usually be other adults there who would be willing to wait with a child for a parent to arrive.

The operative word here is usually. I guess most of the posters on this topic live in the areas of the city where the majority speaks English.

I agree that a responsible parent would make sure they were there to meet their youngster's (<8) bus, but Seattle traffic, and life in general, often undoes the best-laid plans. If the only adult at the stop is someone who does not speak the language of the child left-off without a parent, life could be very difficult for both. And really, this could happen anywhere in the city, but would be most likely in the southend (on either side of I-5).

I agree, this was a better policy when kids were dropped off very close to home—not so much now.

SolvayGirl

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when final grades are supposed to be posted on the Source? We're still waiting for several grades to be filled in by the teacher.

-parent

Maggie Hooks said...

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016699395_schoolbuses06m.html

Not a lot of sympathy in the comments. The mom who thinks making her kid stand outside for 15min is "inhumane" isn't helping the cause...

So far, I've heard back from Nancy Coogan. <36hrs and email sent @6:36am! She's forwarding on to Tom Bishop.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent, the teachers' contract doesn't speak to use of the Source (it had been something like twice quarterly). I'm not sure the teachers ARE required to put grades on the Source.

I'll never forget the teacher who told my younger son and his classmates to tell their parents to quit e-mailing her about grades when the answer is right in her own computer. Use the Source and we'll stop e-mailing.

Sahila said...

In a nutshell - what many of us here in Seattle have been naming and fighting against for the last three-four years, laid out clearly, from around 17 minutes...

Cornel West & Chris Hedges

Kathy said...

As a cost savings measure- Maier proposes elimination of Home School Resource center. See minute 137:

http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=5997

Anonymous said...

Can parents contest grades? If there's no resolution with the teacher, do you write a letter to add to your child's school file?

-parent

Anonymous said...

DeBell came in as the voice of reason on the ALE/Homeschool Resource Center discussion. It sounds as though they have a stong new leader at the school and they are responding to the audit to make necessary improvements (that's how it's supposed to work, yes?).

homeschool supporter

Kathy said...

Home School Supporter,

DeBell acknowledges need for alternative pathways for success. Maier doesn't. Maier supports one size fits all model. One more reason to vote Maier out.

Anonymous said...

So what DJ? SPS isn't running a daycare here. Bus drivers aren't required to wait for parents, or even deliver kids to parents. And no, they don't return kids to the school either. Special ed students with "door-to-door" on their IEPs do get that service. They are picked up at home from parents, and delivered to schools to teachers - and vice-versa on the return. That service is provided via short-bus or via taxi. If there's no listed door-to-door service for a student, the bus driver will deliver students to the police. This was desribed to me at my kid's IEP meeting. In reality, most drivers will wait around for a while for parents or other adults as a courtesy.

-parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent, you can request a conference with your child's teacher and the principal and ask to see your child's work and give evidence of your own.

However,
this rarely works. The principal has more vested in making sure all the points are covered than getting to basis of your appeal (this is my experience based on two times).

I was not allowed to take my son's final exam out of the building to take to the hospital to show my husband. Not even for 2 hours with a promise not to copy it or show it to anyone. It was pretty pathetic.

You should ask your principal about this but don't expect a lot in the way of understanding or help. (The idea is that you would have intervened sooner.)

Anonymous said...

Isn't that incredible? All we hear is about how great the teachers are, and about how they really need a union. But when it comes right down to it - the union will protect teachers from the "burden" of simply posting grades and assignments on the SRC. That's just such basic part of teaching - reporting results, and giving feedback, in the absolute easiest way. Unbelievable that the union would go to the mat over that.

parent