Friday Open Thread

Last one of 2011.

Over at The Stranger Slog, they were asking the question, "Will 2012 be a better year than 2011?"

Poor 2011 is widely perceived as a pretty stinky year.  For my family, I feel blessed and cannot offer a complaint; we are working on our health and my sons have progressed in their education.

But oh, what about the rest of the country?  There's a lot of turmoil and suffering out there and it is sad and painful to see.  Out in the world, though, Osama bin Laden is no more and the Egyptian spring led to a great many uprisings that may change the face of the countries in the Persian Gulf.    For better or worse?  That remains to be seen.

I fear we are going to have a fairly ugly Presidential race.   I feel like we've already had a long season of presidential campaigning and it's just the Republicans making their choice for a candidate.  It could be a long, hot summer.

But folks, we're Americans.  Eternally optimistic and hopeful and willing to work hard.  Just as I feel we are on the cusp of something great in our district, I feel our country is going to right its course as well.

I don't want to allow myself to go into the New Year without hope and a willingness to try to make things better.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year and be careful out there.


seattle citizen said…
It was a beautiful sunrise today. I am blessed to see it, and with family and friends. I'm further blessed with thoughtful citizens here and everywhere discussing ways we strange and wonderful humans can continue to grow together into the future. I'm as usual saddened that some of our human propensities for base action - crime, violence, war...seem still mired in the past. But that is as it always has been, and every minute we make progress towards less-hateful ways. Education helps that progress, of course, and I am blessed with this place where it can be discussed so as to, one hopes, help our kids move onward and upward away from mindless violence and into a loving and equitable future, my wish for everyone.
dan dempsey said…

Anu Partanen, a Finnish journalist based in New York City, is writing a book about what America can learn from the successes of Nordic societies, told through her personal experiences as a young woman living between Brooklyn and Helsinki.

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success in The Atlantic.

Keep in mind most of the Finland success talk comes from PISA scores.

PISA may not be the greatest measure of high level preparedness for a "High Tech" Collegiate major....

My two cents worth is that a lot of the current "our schools are failing us and putting the future economy in jeopardy .... is ... "the sky is falling talk" to let the Feds and Big money run the show.

Improvements in USA Ed are certainly needed ... but the ones being pushed are lacking evidence of efficacy.
dan dempsey said…
So what is to be learned from Finland?

At no point does this article talk about the curriculum, teaching philosophy, instructional materials, or instructional practices. What is Finland actually doing in the classroom?

Many Seattle Ed leaders spent the last 30 years ignoring instructional practices that have been proven effective in many nations outside the USA. Instead pushing what they would like to have work.

Whole Language and discovery/inquiry math are fine examples of USA-wide blunders pushed in Seattle.

Just believing has failed to work. Is just believing in Finland the next move for Ed USA leaders and Seattle? ...... Hopefully we can do better in 2012 than that.
Kathy said…
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that democracy really does work!

Best wishes in the New Year.
dan dempsey said…
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that democracy really does work!

Kathy be specific .... when? where?

Do you expect to see more of this in 2012?

I sure hope so.
Anonymous said…
I was pleased to see Charlie and Melissa profiled ias movers and shakers in Seattle.

I promised myself many years ago that my interest in education would not be limited to the interests of just my children. This blog has been the main way for me to fulfill that promise to myself -- to remain an informed participant in Seattle education. I'm glad it's here, and that it is playing a role in shaping the discussion.

mirmac1 said…
I am hopeful for what the new year brings. I was hopeful last March, but as the months went by, felt more and more discouraged. I can only equate it to a cheating spouse; you want to trust but then find out you're sucka' once again....
dan dempsey said…
Mirmac1 reported:

I was hopeful last March, but as the months went by, felt more and more discouraged.

Having seen the CAO's action reports and duplicitous actions .... I had no increase in hope similar to yours in March 2011.

My hopes went up substantially when Sharon Peaslee won in November 2011 ... for then Marty and Betty would not be sitting all by themselves watching the parade be run by them for at least the next two-years.

Betty Patu gave me hope in 2011.

Brewster's revelation of the truth about "Big Money" buying a school board in 2007 ... gave me some hope that a sleeping public might finally get it. ... I do believe that Brewster is correct had Peter spent $165,000 or $200,000+ instead of $88,000 Peter would have won.

Are Marty and Sharon a change we can believe in? I do really think so, but time will tell.....

In 2012, a lot hinges on which side of the fence DeBell and KSB choose to sit. The side with the evidence and the children or with the Big Money "movers and shakers"? .....

Given that those TfA votes were 6 votes for ... and that WAC 181-79A-231 is very clear and that Enfield chose to move in the Pure Ed Reform direction rather than the legal direction .... who knows what may happen in 2012 in the SPS. Six more months of Enfield lays before us.

See Susan spend on outside legal to defend her clear violation of WAC 181-79A-231 .... Hear Harium proclaim it is done. .... "Progress is being made" ..

Harium clearly sits on the "evidence deficient" side of the fence.
Anonymous said…
I'm getting so very sad with the comments like "Many Seattle Ed leaders spent the last 30 years ignoring instructional practices that have been proven effective in many nations outside the USA. "

I'm an educator here in Seattle. I research best practices, discuss my work with my colleagues, and I ensure success for all my students by implementing sound practices that are well tested. Most of my educator friends do the same thing.

When I read quotes here and elsewhere about educators "ignoring" I think to myself what other field has a few ineffective professionals ruin the perception for all the other effective professionals?

Please allow this blog to be used to spread the positive message that the majority of educators endorse- we want all students to succeed and we work incredibly long hours (yes I did say that) to ensure their success.

Tired of the bad attitude out there but still doing my best,
Teacher in Seattle
Anonymous said…
Quoting Dan:
"My two cents worth is that a lot of the current "our schools are failing us and putting the future economy in jeopardy .... is ... "the sky is falling talk" to let the Feds and Big money run the show."

That's it. You've summed it up for me.

Here's my burning question. Why is it that the ones working hardest are blamed for the failings of the ones at the top?

Teachers don't have power unless they empower their students. This reminds me of the teacher from Woodinville High who was murdered on Christmas eve.

Prudence Hockley made demands on her students and empowered them. She didn't take a dime from Gates. Would the Gates Foundation have given it to her? I wish they had the wisdom to enrich teachers like her. In her memory, can those of us who care about learning and teaching stand up for teachers like her? If a noisy individual or organization is making news by blaming teachers, that's the silent alarm telling you they're phoney.

I've been on holiday with my grand kids so I have to catch up and add another "Mary Jean Ryan?" because I missed that debate. I'm still puzzled. Melissa and Charlie are dropping that name? Mary Jean Ryan is a do nothing. She's has a political resume. I want a doer as superintendent and not a do nothing.

Melissa, your archives have some priceless comments from you concerning how Mary Jean was the head of a new education group taking Gates' money. You said Ryan was rolling out a group just like all the other fix it groups that that didn't invite parents to their events. You said Mary Jean didn't tell you what she'd do. She was flustered by your question but kept talking about fixing things fast. What kind of endorsement is that?

Mr. White
dan dempsey said…
Dear Teacher in Seattle,

"Many Seattle Ed leaders spent the last 30 years ignoring instructional practices that have been proven effective in many nations outside the USA. "

You are absolutely correct. Many teachers attempt to use practices known to be effective in spite of SPS leadership and OSPI leadership.

The Board is really famous for lip service but little else when it comes to academics and a positive direction.

Consider the following statement from Peter Maier, made on April 22, 2009 as the "Discovering Series" was being considered for adoption.

"I will be watching carefully to see how the superintendent and the staff are implementing this. We have been promised reports and promised accountability, and ultimately the question will be: are we going to see an increase in math achievement for our students. I hope so, I believe so, and we need to achieve that result."

See and hear Peter HERE on YouTube.

This is the subject of my latest letter to the Board. HERE.

In 2011, I made some observations about the Common Core State Standards and the profusion of programs generated by the Dog and Pony Show producers..... The expertise and knowledge of teachers is rarely considered. In other nations much of the productive ed research is done by teachers in the classrooms. Teachers with generous planning time. Here we get the word oh how to do it from vendors, Central Admin experts and the UW experts etc. ... UW Math experts and PD what a joke.

Here is Mr. Maier at the next Board meeting on May 6, 2009 .... speaking on research and a quality implementation.

Here are the Discovering results that the District refuses to divulge ==>

District Pass rates for 9th grade low-income algebra students on the OSPI Algebra EoC

38.5% : Seattle (Discovering Algebra)

29.6% : Bethel (Discovering Algebra)

33.1% : Everett (Discovering Algebra)

31.4% : Highline (Discovering Algebra)

43.8% : State average

56.7% : Clover Park (Holt Algebra)

51.3% : Spokane (Holt Algebra)

Percent of Students at level 1 (well below basic) for 9th grade low-income algebra students on the OSPI Algebra EoC

36.7% : Seattle (Discovering Algebra)

38.4% : Bethel (Discovering Algebra)

40.6% : Everett (Discovering Algebra)

43.1% : Highline (Discovering Algebra)

30.8% : State average

19.7% : Clover Park (Holt Algebra)

28.3% : Spokane (Holt Algebra)

The District correctly stated; “it is impossible to fully compare spring 2010 and spring 2011 math results until spring 2012, when the students will have taken the same test for a second year in a row.”

Compare the scores of six districts above with the State on the 2011 Algebra End of Course assessment. .... Look at Discovering Results and remember the Promises of which Peter Maier spoke.

So where are the promised reports?

and where is that accountability?

Teachers do the work and must put up with total nonsense shoveled down from the top.


Instead the Superintendent and Board provide TfA as an achievement gap the solution and SEA leaders do nothing of consequence.
Jack Whelan said…
There's a part of me that thinks we've reached a saturation point with regard to Finland, but there are two important things we need to learn from them: The first is that they don't care about standardized tests, and yet they do well on them. Why? They focus on improving quality and enriching curricula. Second, their model for teacher collaboration and professionalization. They focus on getting the top 10% of students into the teaching profession, and they have effective ongoing professional development programs.

If we just emulated those two things, it would make an enormous difference in the quality of what we provide our students, and if you take care of quality, everything else falls into place.
Anonymous said…
Wednesday's Board meeting includes the introduction of the waiver policy and some changes to the assignment plan for next school year.

On the plus side, Spectrum 5th graders will now get a neighborhood Spectum assignment for middle school (before it was not guaranteed). On the confusing side, what is going on with the geozones?

The waiver policy is written for a school-wide change in materials and makes no provisions for self-contained programs. Does that mean Spectrum or APP programs are automatically precluded from requesting waivers?

The waiver request must:

...Clearly state the rationale for using different materials and explain how the requested materials will both raise overall achievement and close the achievement gap; and

...Indicate how the waiver materials will be rolled out school-wide, including the professional development plan

Also, the PASS survey shows a 50-50 split for principals supporting waivers. Even if the parents and teachers want to support a waiver, there's a 50% chance the principal won't.

Anonymous said…
I am deeply concerned about the leadership vacuum for Special Education. With the search for the executive director led by somebody who knows nothing about special education (thompson) and under the general watch of somebody who has done almost nothing to get the damages of the new inclusion model dealt with (enfield), the outlook is depressing. And while we are at it let's throw in the board's total lack of oversight during 2011-2012.

Looking for leadership in 2012
seattle citizen said…
As I've feared for quite some time, the dumbing down of curricula via state tests omits the teaching of civics. This is more apparent with the adoption on Common Core State Standards, as show by the Southern Poverty Law Center's study that finds that "More than Half of States Fail at Teaching the Civil Rights Movement:

“For too many students, their civil rights education boils down to two people and four words: Rosa Parks, Dr. King and ‘I have a dream,’” said Maureen Costello, SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance director. “When 43 states adopted Common Core Standards in English and math, they affirmed that rigorous standards were necessary for achievement. By having weak or non-existent standards for history, particularly for the civil rights movement, they are saying loud and clear that it isn’t something students need to learn.”
Anonymous said…
In Finland, fewer than 5% of children are living in Poverty. In the US, about 18% of children live in Poverty, the highest rate among industrialized nations! Consider how that may factor in test score differences.

How many immigrant kids don't speak the majority language in Finland?

I think we should be analyzing Canada's successful public education instead of Finland's. Canada is multicultural as the US.

Signed, another made up name
Anonymous said…
I just happened to read today a quote from President T. Roosevelt as taken from page 47 of Timothy Egan's book "The Big Burn":.....

"It tires me to talk to rich men," he said. "You expect a man of millions to be worth hearing, but as a rule, they don't know anything outside their own business."

This is how I feel about the various education reformers who all have the answers. But there simply isn't one answer for a business in which there are so many different customers!

Thank you and a Happy New Year to everyone who keeps the information rolling on this blog.

Two and a half years to go
dan dempsey said…
In NYC ....
Dispute Over Evaluations Imperils Grants for Schools

Do not for one moment think that the US Dept of Education is not in control of many aspects of Public Education in the USA. A violation of several laws makes the DoE, an illegal powerhouse.

Negotiations for a new evaluation system for teachers and principals broke down on Friday, jeopardizing roughly $60 million in federal grants designated to help 33 struggling schools across the city.

The grants are designated to help kids ..... but if you do not do what Uncle Fed wants, then your kids get shafted. ..... Mr. Duncan is unable to convince with evidence ... so he pulls out an illegal club with which to beat the locals.

Perhaps Duncan should just have his buddies buy all nation's the school boards in 2007 Seattle style and make it 24/7 Ed Reform Full Speed Ahead...... (the WA legislature would not stand in the way) but that might not work on a national scale as not all union leaders are as "collaborative" as the leaders of SEA and WEA. So Arne D. will just stick with asserting power he does not legally possess and the sheep will all fall in line.

We should thank the SPS Board and the recent Superintendents for their fine demonstrations of the irrelevance of following existing laws or using actual evidence in decision-making. TfA is another great example and the most recent reminder of SPS current "de facto" policies in regard to decision-making.

Teddy Roosevelt said:
"It tires me to talk to rich men."
But ... like it or not ... admit it or not ... the rich men do control many of the "de facto" education policies of the nation and certainly since at least 2007 the SPS .

The huge contributions of wealthy Ed Reformists to Mr. Obama's 2008 campaign may have influenced the formation of the current National Education Policy situation.
dan dempsey said…
In WA DC, Large Rewards in Teacher Pay

WASHINGTON — During her first six years of teaching in this city’s struggling schools, Tiffany Johnson got a series of small raises that brought her annual salary to $63,000, from about $50,000. This year, her seventh, Ms. Johnson earns $87,000.

That latest 38 percent jump, unheard of in public education, came after Ms. Johnson was rated “highly effective” two years in a row under Washington’s new teacher evaluation system. Those ratings also netted her back-to-back bonuses totaling $30,000.

“Lots of teachers leave the profession, but this has kept me invested to stay,” said Ms. Johnson, 29, who is a special-education teacher at the Ron H. Brown Middle School in Northeast Washington. “I know they value me.”

That is exactly the idea behind what admirers consider the nation’s most advanced merit pay system for public school teachers. This fall, the District of Columbia Public Schools gave sizable bonuses to 476 of its 3,600 educators, with 235 of them getting unusually large pay raises.

“We want to make great teachers rich,” said Jason Kamras, the district’s chief of human capital.

The profession is notorious for losing thousands of its brightest young teachers within a few years, which many experts attribute to low starting salaries and a traditional step-raise structure that rewards years of service and academic degrees rather than success in the classroom.

Many districts have tried over the last decade to experiment with performance pay systems but have frequently been thwarted by powerful teachers’ unions that negotiated the traditional pay structures. Those that have implemented merit pay have generally offered bonuses of a few thousand dollars, often as an incentive to work in hard-to-staff schools or to work extra hours to improve students’ scores. Several respected studies have found that such payments have scant effect on student achievement; since most good teachers already work hard, before and after class, there are limits to how much more can be coaxed out of them with financial incentives.

But Washington is the leader among a handful of large cities that are seeking a more fundamental overhaul of teacher pay. Alongside the aggressive new evaluation system that has made the city famous for firing poor-performing teachers — more than 400 over the past two years — is a bonus-and-raise structure aimed at luring talented people to the profession and persuading the most effective to stick with it.

“The most important role for incentives is in shaping who enters the teaching profession and who stays,” said Eric A. Hanushek, a professor of economics at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “Washington’s incentive system will attract talented teachers, and it’ll help keep the best ones.”

Under the system, known as Impact Plus, teachers rated “highly effective” earn bonuses ranging from $2,400 to $25,000. Teachers who get that rating two years in a row are eligible for a large permanent pay increase to make their salary equivalent to that of a colleague with five more years of experience and a more advanced degree.

One persistent critic of the system is Nathan Saunders, president of the Washington Teachers Union, who argues that the evaluations do not adequately take into account the difficulties of working in poor neighborhoods. He also says that performance pay inappropriately singles out stars.

“This boutique program discourages teachers from working together,
” Mr. Saunders said.
Anonymous said…
Happy New Year -


Sundquist - GONE

Peter - Lost

Enfield - Quit


Marty & Sharon are NOT drooling toadies of Gates!


The non sexist, non bigoted, non racist, upper middle cla$$, go along get along, well paid branch of the "Democratic" Party continue their decades long rightward chase of the moving rightward goal posts, doing what their paymasters define as ... ha ha ha... moderate, or bipartisan, or centrist.

Where are we in the quest?

The NEA / WEA / SEA are stuck in the Shire, debating the size of the carrot crop, and what kind of carrots to plant.

Like different armies of Orcs, we have the antagonists, foes and villains of DFER, LEV, SFC, A4E, PFL, TFA, KOPP, KIPP, CRPE, CRAP and CRUD vexing us with unfunded mandates and slick soundbites.

Where is the ring of power?

Is the Great Gates Sauron, or, Gollum?

'One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all,
And in the darkness bind them.'

Anonymous said…
Oops! I should have put GREAT NEWS first, and I should have written it as:


Marty and Sharon are Great Citizens who we the people are lucky to have as representatives!

(=> Marty & Sharon are NOT drooling toadies of Gates! )

mirmac1 said…

Great! I LOVE Lord of the Rings!

My Precioussss
Anonymous said…
This is what to expect from LEV in 2012:

The League of Education Voters Charter School Proposal Annotated

Happy New Year.

Sahila said…
The KKK loves charter schools - "separate but equal"???

"The kids in the article below seem to be happy. Parents have been given a choice as to where to send their children and without government interference, many have selected schools with a student population that reflects the race of those children. In addition, many of these schools satisfy the children’s longing to identify with their racial history by incorporating cultural studies relating to their ethnicity. There is nothing wrong with this, yet some think it is terrible. In fact, the majority of people prefer to be around others who are like them. Even those who enjoy international travel and experiencing other cultures still, for the most part, live the rest of their life among those of similar racial background. Why does this make some social engineers so angry? It is only natural. Each race should have the right to determine their own affairs without interference. This is why homogeneous nations are good for world peace. Everyone needs their own space. And parents who choose charter schools for their children based upon this fact are doing so instinctually and its healthy for their families."

Guess LEV and CPPS and S4C and A4E are not very particular about the company they keep...
Could you please reference the article you are quoting from?
seattle citizen said…
Melissa, the link to the article is below, but beware: I had the misfortune to click on it. It is a KKK website - the link was posted elsewhere by education advocates so we could see what the KKK thought about segregation in charters, and unfortunately I clicked on it without seeing what the actual web address was...

I mean, I want to be informed, and have been actively anti-hate-group for years, but I just don't want to visit these nasty sites because....well, they're nasty and I have no interest in giving them my traffic. Yes, I should grit my teeth and see what these people are doing, but there are other ways, such as the SPLC, where I don't have to actually visit their websites.

The piece Sahila provides in her comment is KKK commentary on an article about how charters are resegregating schools. The KKK, of course, thinks that's just fine.

You can read their comentary on Sahila's post, but if you are like me and just don't want to visit a KKK website, you can read the article they comment on here:

Segregated Charter Schools Evoke Separate But Equal Era in U.S.,John Hechinger, ©2011 Bloomberg News

KKK website, if someone is willing to visit them...
Christina said…

And Millionaires Enthusiastically "Reforming" Democratic Education... the MERDE advocacy group.

WV: Mopegie... a small domestic bird with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Sahila said…
join the national movement to opt out of standardised tests:

Opt Out to make a difference

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