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Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Open Thread

The first Friday the 13th of the year.

Best wishes and get well soon go out to the following:
  • Dr. Enfield for pending surgery on her hand
  • Communications' Teresa Whippel who broke both wrists
  • Director Patu who sustained a fall and is now limping
  • Anyone and everyone who gets this cold that is going around
What's on your mind?

52 comments:

whittier07 said...

When will the district release info about BEXIV? How does a community get involved in advocating for a certain building ... i.e. a new north-end middle school?

whittier07 said...

Full of questions today ... about the new plan of having 5th grade Spectrum students guaranteed a 6th grade Spectrum seat ... is that ONLY for students that are enrolled in a Spectrum program? What about Spectrum eligible students being served in an ALO program or on the wait-list?

Dorothy Neville said...

Capriciousness of funding. At yesterday's A&F committee meeting, Duggan Harman shared that after two years of a five year grant for Mandarin Language Education, the Feds have pulled the plug. Sorry boys, we are done, please file your final reports. That's a quarter million dollar a year program. What happens to the investment? I think this is a middle school thing and we do have some breathing room because our language immersion students don't hit middle school for a couple years. But if you are a middle school student currently benefiting from this grant? Tough. If you are a Mandarin language immersion student hoping that the middle school program will be fully in place when you arrive? Hah!

He also shared a rumor that the feds may similarly disband the TIF grant early. Oh boy, that will be a mess. Unlike the Mandarin grant, the district could not easily just eliminate the work which would have to come out of the general fund. (And the TIF grant funds work of dubious quality and effect, grr)

Eric B said...

I believe BEX IV will be approved late this year. FACMAC will be taking up how to support the capacity needs in the next couple of meetings, although actual recommended solutions are out a ways. You can influence the process by talking to Board directors (staff definitely gets requests from directors and responds to them), FACMAC members (many read and post here), and BEX IV Oversight Committee members (not sure who those people are). You can also send input to staff at capacity@seattleschools.org.

All of that said, a north end middle school is pretty much a done deal. Where it will be placed is a bit up in the air, so there's room to advocate on that if you have any special desires. It's hard not to see Wilson-Pacific as the frontrunner given its central location and plenty of space.

After the site is selected and funded (assuming the levy passes), there will be some kind of design team that will direct the architect who makes the detailed plans. I don't know if the general public can get a spot on the design team or how you would go about doing that.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how to find out what the percentage of kids who actually live within the neighborhood boundary is for a given school? Is this data that the school district has somewhere? I would really like to know what this number is for the schools in west settle because I think it will inform the debate about a new option vs. a new neighborhood school. I am very concerned that we are still dealing with all of the fallout from the switch to neighborhood schools and that redrawing boundaries without factoring in data such as this could necessitate further boundary redraws down the road.

Delridge mom

mirmac1 said...

Yay! We're Number 42nd! in funding per pupil.

And we stink in relation to state expenditures as a percent of state taxable resources

dan dempsey said...

About those Common Core State Standards <== The report on implementation progress.

Ed Week reports:
Few States Cite Full Plans for Carrying Out Standards

As Dorothy mentioned the Feds on occasion pull the plug.... no consider the current ED Reform moves in WA State. .... As we look at the RttT extortion action from Arne D ... pushing Charters and Value Added Assessments of teachers .... look back on 6696 which the legislature essentially said go for it in 2010 on CCSS while not knowing what "it" was.

Dorn was to have a big report delivered on or before Jan 1, 2011 .... which was not delivered until 30 days later ..... Now I was thinking since Dorn was such a pusher of all things RttT ... that CCSS would take a priority postion .... but NO.

The report found that “a handful of states are particularly far along” in their plans to transform the common standards into practice, but “most states ... still have a long way to go” before they have blueprints to take the standards from paper to practice.

The report...
Preparing for Change A National Perspective
on Common Core State Standards
Implementation Planning

.... says for WA state:

Teacher Professional Development =>
In development

Curriculum Guides or instructional materials =>
No Planning Activity Reported

Teacher Evaluation Systems =>
No Planning Activity Reported

============

So if the money should dry up, why are we going for the the Ed Reform bribes?

Jan said...

I agree, Dan. I don't think we should fall for Ed Department "bribes" (personally, I think they are more akin to extortion, but I won't quibble) even if the money IS there -- because the actions required are harmful to the education of kids. But we certainly should not be falling for this stuff when the bribe money is not forthcoming!

dan dempsey said...

Jan ... try this in the Times and leave a comment.
WA lawmakers aim to strengthen teacher evaluations

A bipartisan group of Washington state lawmakers announced plans Thursday to make statewide evaluations of teachers and principals more rigorous and uniform.

Floor Pie said...

I just asked this on my neighborhood blog and I'll ask it here too: WHY is foreign language immersion so crazy-popular? And does anyone have links to studies about it?

dan dempsey said...

$20K raise possibility for New York City teachers

Bloomberg dangles dough while debate over teacher evaluations rages
================================

Mayor Bloomberg dangled a lot of dough at teachers on Thursday in a move to force the hands of union officials in the debate over teacher evaluation.

In a groundbreaking state of the city address, Bloomberg proposed giving $20,000 pay bumps to “highly effective teachers,” but hinged the raises on creating a rating system for the city’s teaching force. He also vowed to ax half the teachers in 33 low-performing schools — even without the union’s consent.

“Historically, teachers unions around the country have opposed rewarding great teaching through merit pay, but more and more teachers are asking why,” said Bloomberg.

“Our teachers deserve that. And so do our children.”

Both moves put pressure on union officials to reach a deal on evaluations, a contentious issues since 2010, when the state required teacher ratings reflect students’ test scores. The overhauled law was part of winning $700 million in federal Race to the Top funds.

Under the state changes, teachers can be labeled “highly effective,” “effective,” “developing” and “ineffective.”

A teacher who earns two “ineffective” reviews would be placed on a fast-track for removal.

The state left the union and the city to hammer out an agreement, but no deal has stuck.

SolvayGirl said...

I'm curious about foreign language immersion too. It would not have been an obvious draw for our family.

Anonymous said...

Floor Pie,

I tried to post this link on Wallyhood but it didn't go through; not sure why.

This page describes known and possible benefits of language learning/immersion, and has links to the studies that back up those benefits:

http://www.actfl.org/i4a/pages/Index.cfm?pageID=4526#improves_cognitive

Sea

Anonymous said...

I have the same question as whittier07 - why/when did the Spectrum eligibility for middle school change? It is clearly stated on the Advanced Learning website, but I'm not sure what was behind the change. I have a 5th grader at an ALO school (Bryant) who now will be at the bottom of the wait list, if I am understanding it correctly, after the View Ridge/Wedgwood/other Spectrum kids who've been in the program. Was this at the request of the Spectrum middle schools noticing that those kids were better prepared for the program, where ALO kids weren't?

Do I need to transfer my younger children to a Spectrum school for the next few years to guarantee a Spectrum spot in the future, and are those schools able to handle more kids transferring in?

Wasn't this the whole point of the ALO program, to keep kids at their neighborhood schools, reduce busing costs, etc. Now they are basically saying ALO schools don't positively affect those kids enough to make them qualified for a middle school Spectrum program. What's the deal with that?

Disappointed by ALO

Anonymous said...

This is the WAC related to highly capable:

WAC 392-170-078 Program services.

Education program plans for each identified highly capable student or plans for a group of students with similar academic abilities shall be developed based on the results of the assessed academic need of that student or group of students. A variety of appropriate program services shall be made available. Once services are started, a continuum of services shall be provided and may include kindergarten through twelfth grade.

I haven't seen the district rationale for the NSAP change, but according to Washington Administrative Code, a "continuum" of services shall be provided."

The change was just approved by the Board, along with some other changes to the NSAP.

Before everyone gets too distracted by the charter school debate, you may want to read the Board Procedure being introduced at the next meeting - it deals with the Board/Superintendent relationship.

a parent

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why the District has not updated MAP scores on The Source since last spring?

~ Just Wondering ~

Charlie Mas said...

My understanding of the new 6th grade Spectrum rule is that every Spectrum-eligible 6th grade student is guaranteed a seat in the Spectrum program in their attendance area school.

The student's program participation in the 5th grade is not a factor. It doesn't matter if the student was in Spectrum, in an ALO, in a general education class, or in any other program in the 5th grade. 6th grade Spectrum eligibility is the only determinant.

The catch, as I see it, is that student can have a seat in the Spectrum program in their attendance area school. There is no promise of a Spectrum seat in any other school.

If you lived in the Lafayette attendance area, you could list "Spectrum - Washington" as your first choice and "Spectrum - Madison" as your second choice. Then, if you didn't get into Washington, you could still take the guaranteed seat in the program at Madison.

While this is clearly a sort of bribe to encourage people to choose their attendance area school, I'm okay with it. I would rather see the District pull people into programs than see them push people into programs.

The tricky part, of course, is how some schools are going to schedule classes to meet the demand. Washington Middle School has, for years, set a hard ceiling of 180 students on their Spectrum program. They won't be able to do that anymore. How will they group 72 6th grade Spectrum students? Two classes of 36? Three classes of 24? Will they have three classes with 24 District-identified Spectrum students and 6 high performing students? 24 District-identified Spectrum students and 6 students of all skill levels? What guidance, if any, have they received from the District?

Perhaps this is a question for the Advanced Learning Task Force to address.

dj said...

Floor Pie, I can only tell you why I am so interested: I can supplement math and reading, but I can't supplement foreign language. I have the I think fairly typical American foreign language experience in that I took several years of a foreign language in high school and never gained anything that looked like fluency. Now, more than twenty years later, my facility with that language is pathetic, and when I tried to help my kids with foreign language, it was a disaster. I signed my oldest up for one of those after-school language classes 2-3 days a week and saw very little progress. It was more of a language-appreciation experience than a really-get-facility experience.

I would like my kids to actually develop fluency in another language. I don't see any realistic options to make that happen on my own. We have considered moving near one of the language immersion schools, but between the fact that I have four kids + one on the way, the oldest two are already in school, and the incredible churn in this district (such that as we are seeing the JSIS boundaries move and calls for the language immersion schools to become option schools), I think making a residential decision around living by an immersion school is a sucker's bet.

Anonymous said...

Help?

Can anyone please help me to find access to the City of Seattle Department that has contracted with SSD to handle complaints?
A Teacher

Rufus X said...

@Charlie said While this is clearly a sort of bribe to encourage people to choose their attendance area school, I'm okay with it. I would rather see the District pull people into programs than see them push people into programs.

I thought that this proposed change to the NSAP was, at least in part, an effort to cut down on headaches and paperwork for all 5th grade spectrum students headed to middle school. This past year, all of the rising 6th grade Spectrum eligible students assigned to their neighborhood middle school still had to apply during open enrollment for Spectrum at that same school. I wondered then about the extra open enrollment application for this cohort and how it seemed contrary to the idea enrollment could be streamlined a bit w/ the neighborhood-based approach. Plus it meant a whole bunch more paperwork for the enrollment folks.

But that's just me - I've been wrong before.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm finally getting smart about how to manage by diverse news sources.

It was a long time ago that I added this blog to my subscriptions in Google Reader. I also added the APP discussion blog and Meg Diaz's Dolce and Nutella. But it wasn't until just this week I also added a long list of Education Reform blogs to my subscription list.

Hoo-boy! You think Mel, Sue and I write a lot? These folks write as much or more.

Subscribing to their blogs has made me more efficient about checking them for updates and has made me able to either report or respond more promptly.

Charlie Mas said...

@ A Teacher at 1/14/12 8:11 AM

For ethics complaints or whistleblower complaints see this form:
http://district.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/general%20counsel/ethicscomplaintform.pdf

The contact information is at the top.

Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission
P.O. Box 94729
Seattle, WA 98124-4729

chris.thomas@seattle.gov
(206) 615-0091
FAX: (206) 684-8590

Charlie Mas said...

Ah! Thank you Rufus X for the distinction I was missing.

5th grade students who are enrolled in a Spectrum program will receive a default assignment to the 6th grade Spectrum program at their attendance area school. Other Spectrum-eligible 5th grade students will not. 5th grade students who are Spectrum-eligible for the 6th grade but are not enrolled in 5th grade Spectrum will have to choose the 6th grade Spectrum program during Open Enrollment if they want to enter the program at that time.

They will have to choose it during Open Enrollment, but their assignment to the program - if they choose it - is assured.

All rising 6th grade Spectrum-eligible students are guaranteed access to the Spectrum program in their attendance area school, but only those already in a 5th grade Spectrum class will get a default assignment to the program. The rest will have to choose it during Open Enrollment.

Charlie Mas said...

@ a parent at 1/13/12 10:20 PM

Spectrum is not covered by the Highly Capable law or grant. APP is the district's Highly Capable program. Spectrum is not part of it. You will note that there is no Spectrum after 8th grade, and therefore no continuum of service through grade 12.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I've said this before; I think most parents want some foreign language instruction in elementary (and all we have is foreign language immersion). While immersion is great, it is costly and harder to implement. And, the way our NSAP is set up, not available to all.

But I think we should have foreign language in elementary as that is really the best time to start.

As to advocating for a new north-end middle school, the district will be doing some middle schools this round. I can say with the certainty of watching this process and discussion for years, that yes, we will see at least one north-end middle school renovated. Both Eckstein and Whitman are due as is Washington.

As to a new one, well, you'd have to decide where to put it and what existing one wouldn't get a remodel. Charlie has said Wilson-Pacific would be a good location and I would agree (given the limited choices). They already have a large playfield and it is between Eckstein and Whitman.

I wouldn't bother advocating to the BEX Oversight Committee. They don't make or give input on these decisions. Go to the Board and outline your reasons and get as many parents as you know to do the same. Use as much data as you can. Also, advocate to FACMAC or at least keep track of their data and findings.

Rufus X said...

@Delridge Mom: I think the information you seek can be found here:
2011-2012 enrollment data

Scroll down, Sections 3 & 4 may give you what you need.

Floor Pie said...

Thanks for the responses. And, FYI, West Woodland and BF Day do offer Spanish (not immersion) during the school day. When we were at TOPS, they offered after school classes in Mandarin and Spanish that parents pay for. It's not immersion, but it's better than nothing...

Anonymous said...

Just Wondering - the MAP scores have been in the Source for Winter testing for my kid's schoool for awhile. Maybe it is just your school that hasn't updated it?

-yumpears

Anonymous said...

Previous post was eaten, so apologies if it shows up twice.

Ted Dezember is coming from McClure to Hamilton as House Administrator. There was plenty of discussion on this blog about low staff morale at McClure some time back. Any connection? Any idea about his outlook on advanced learners?

open ears

Anonymous said...

Charlie @ 8:51: have you considered adding a blog roll to your site. I think you have room. Perhaps include the best of the lot.

I wish more teachers would post morale issues at their schools. Ours in the north end is experiencing extremely low morale. I'm wondering if principals have been put on notice to either get rid of teachers or simply work us to death. I, for one, will be glad to see the end of Susan Enfield.

northender

Anonymous said...

northender: I am a new teacher with very low morale! I'm starting to have physical reactions related to the stress. Whoo hoo!
-nt

Spruiter said...

Jane Addams K-8 School Tours

Looking for an alternative to your neighborhood school?
Interested in a smaller learning environment for middle school?
Just interested in coming to take a look?

Join us for a tour.

Jane Addams is a K-8 school with an emphasis on environmental science. We offer an integrated Spectrum program, bilingual services for English Language Learners (ELL), special education services, and rich arts offerings. An exceptional faculty and staff, diverse student body and engaged parents have created this thriving school community in record time. Come see what all the excitement is about!

Evening Open Houses:
February 9, 6:30-8:30pm
February 29, 6:30-8:30pm

Morning Tours:
Tuesday, January 31, 9:30-11:30am
Monday, February 13, 8:30-10:30am
Thursday, March 1, 8:30-10:30am
Thursday, March 8, 9:30-11:30am

(please note there are 2 different start times for morning tours)

Please visit our school (http://addamsk8.seattleschools.org/) or PTSA (www.janeaddamsptsa.org) websites to learn more.

Jane Addams K-8 is a Seattle Public School located at 11051 34th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98125
206-252-4500

Syd said...

How will they group 72 6th grade Spectrum students? Two classes of 36? Three classes of 24? Will they have three classes with 24 District-identified Spectrum students and 6 high performing students? 24 District-identified Spectrum students and 6 students of all skill levels? What guidance, if any, have they received from the District?

The answer is they assign them to the class that has room given the constraints of the student schedules. That is what they do at Washington. In your example, they would probably have two classes, any "extras would either go into an APP class or a general ed class - WITH NO ATTENTION TO THE STUDENTS LEVEL. There is no attempt to have hard lines between the programs.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Anon/Ted Dezember moving from McClure to Hamilton:

Heads up. Ted is the perfect example of a cronyism-hire. One year as an administrative intern under Sarah Pritchett and then magically hired as an LA teacher - over the heads of how mnay RIFed teachers.

The quitely whispered comments at McClure rate Ted very low on all counts.

Good luck.

-JC. (signed this time - sorry)

Anonymous said...

news about Boren/STEM over at the West Seattle blog, with interesting discussion pro & con.

Looks like Marty is withdrawing her amendment, after pressure from the district:

http://westseattleblog.com/2012/01/west-seattle-schools-board-rep-mclaren-decides-not-to-try-to-delay-boren-re-opening-after-all

All of that, yet at Marty's community meeting a straw poll resulted in only 1 out of 20 K-5 parents actually said they would sign their kid up at Boren if it was opened next year.

never ceased to be amazed...

AL Advisory task force questions said...

Charlie,
How about a status report on the AL Advisory task force?
Is it possible to attend meetings, for non-task force members, I mean.

Fremont Mama said...

I too, have been wondering when the MAP test results for this year would be up on the source. When I checked today, all of my daughter's previous MAP scores are gone. Not even a link to MAP under the assessments tab...anyone else?

Susanne

Charlie Mas said...

The Advanced Learning Task Force is meeting just once a month. There have been two meetings. The first was a sort of an introduction. The second was all about brainstorming for the survey.

The progress has been painfully slow. There won't be any recommendations ready for implementation in the fall of 2012. That's not the schedule.

The meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is January 26 at 4:15 in room 2700 of the JSCEE.

At the January 26th meeting, our group will

1) Hear from FACMAC leadership about capacity and program placement issues

2) Hear a presentation from Teaching and Learning and the educators on the task force about quality/consistency of program offerings

3) Staff will provide information about the geographic distribution of students in Advanced Learning programs throughout the district.

Anonymous said...

same thing for MAP scores for my daughter. everything has suddenly disappeared. Maybe the de-activate the page while they upload and audit the scores, then reactivate?

JA mom

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Principal trouble at Whittier. I'm told some think it's the District and demands and others blame the principal, Linda Robinson. Anybody know anything?

Wondering

Name said...

Re: Map score disappearance
It looks like they have reinstated the old scores. When I checked today there was this message:

Some MAP data was loaded into the Source incorrectly during the past week (12/8 - 12/13) . The data on this page should now be consistent with data reported in November. We apologize for the inconvenience and any confusion this may have caused.

mirmac1 said...

I'll agree that pressure from the district, in the form of mild-mannered Robert Boesche raising the spectre of OMG Operating budget paying for school startup unless we go STEM SCHOOL NOW!

Not convinced. Why does he raise this at the eleventh hour before the deadline to submit amendments. Based on my experience of how senior staff works, yer only given as much as they allow...

Anonymous said...

I think the Bryant parents and teachers (what is left of them!) would happily welcome back Linda Robinson over Kim Fox! Talk about low morale among teachers, I can't imagine a worse environment than Bryant.

Bryant Community Member

Anonymous said...

Bryant Community Member, I saw the very low number (30-something percent) on the teacher satisfaction with leadership portion of Bryant's climate survey--is that the sentiment that your post is expressing? Could you explain what you mean by not being able to imagine a worse environment for teachers than Bryant? My daughter is a new K student there, and at least the K team seems effective and inspired. What are the problems with Kim Fox?
--Has a student at Bryant

Anonymous said...

One thing I learned about Linda Robinson when she was at Bryant is that she has an extremely strong ethical standard.

She may say that she can't give you certain information, but she will not lie to you. She will not tell you one thing & say another thing to someone else. She will not run down teachers, students or parents to other people. She will not allow one group to 'gang up' on another. She will try to protect her staff, school & students from the district. She will push hard for what she wants, but she will seek 'buy in' from the BLT or staff & not force an issue with them, if the district gives her a choice.

I didn't always agree with Linda Robinson but I always trusted her ethics.

Former Bryant Parent

Anonymous said...

Kim Fox talks openly about staff members and families, and betrays the trust of many parents and teachers. What time she in the building is spent complaining about all the work she has to do, and repeatedly criticizing teachers for things she herself cannot do. I rarely have seen her at school functions, as there is a vice principal (no more trustworthy than Kim) and counselor who do much of the hands on work with students. It is rare that she is seen in front of the building in the morning greeting kids or getting to know parents, or in the lunchroom and is never seen on the playground.

There has been so much teacher turnover in the past few years, that more than a third of the staff is brand new, many of them young. Instead of being mentored or constructively criticized, she bullies and harasses, and actively encourages parents to complain openly in meetings and document teacher criticisms for their file.

All that being said, Bryant is still a school with caring and talented teachers whose priorities are always the kids. Kindergarten is an especially strong year for kids, with a fantastic staff.

Bryant Community Member

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Yikes. Unsettling stuff for a newbie Bryant parent. I had heard rumblings of tension between Fox and the co-principal but didn't realize how reviled Fox was among teachers until I just looked up the District Score Card. So when a principal gets a number like 34% positive response for leadership skills, what can be done? It makes me sick to think of our teacher (or any) being bullied or under stress like you describe. I love my child's teacher (K) and she is only in her second year.
Bryant mom

Anonymous said...
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