Open Thread Friday

I'm thinking that KUOW is likely to talk about the School Board and policy 1620B on their weekly news-roundup at 10 am.  Might be interesting.

Director Patu has the only community meeting tomorrow morning.  Her's is at Caffe Vita, 5028 Wilson Ave. S. from 10 am -noon.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
I thought folks interested in alt schools might like to know that Salmon Bay school in Ballard, will have seats open not just for kindergarten and middle school as it usually does, but also for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade next year due to the second year of a planned expansion (approx 12 seats per grade I think?). Those grades have had 1.5 classes per grade (1 full and 1 multi-age class) but now will have 2 full classes per grade. for tour dates and info.
Salmon Bay Parent
Anonymous said…
How much ya wanna bet Jordon Royer and his S4C crew will show up to try and gang up on Betty. They won't know what hit 'em.

Mr. Ed
dan dempsey said…
Try this for an interesting research project on charter schools. Go to which is for California and do a current job search by selecting a subject by placing a key word like "Science" and selecting say Los Angeles County or Orange County or San Diego County and then searching.

You should find many many more openings at charter schools than at regular public schools and many of those openings will be at far lower salaries than regular public schools.

CA has no state salary schedule for public schools and salaries vary widely throughout the state but most of the salaries advertised at the CA charters posted now are low.

Not all charters pay less than the regular public schools in the surrounding area ... but many certainly pay less.
TM parent said…
I want to give a shout-out to the Franklin HS Lion Dance team. They performed last night at Thurgood Marshall's Lunar New Year Celebration. They were awesome.

Also, a big "thank you" to the TM teachers and volunteers who have made LNY such a huge success. The cafeteria was packed.
Floor Pie said…
Well, the new student assignment plan was approved on Wednesday, and I just read this on the Wallyhood blog:

"School board members Sherry Carr and Kay Smith-Blum have said they would like to investigate opening a language immersion program at B.F. Day. They would like to hear from parents of preschoolers in the B.F. Day area, including much of Fremont as well as Wallingford."

What. The. Hell.

First of all, Wallingford has not one, but TWO mandatory foreign language immersion schools as it is. And now they want B.F. Day too. How does the rest of Seattle feel about that?

Second, and more importantly, these immersion programs simply don't work for every child, whether they're wildly popular or not. It is a particularly disastrous fit for children with special needs -- who are currently being very well served at B.F. Day, who have in some cases been reassigned to B.F. Day from JSIS and McDonald because foreign language immersion was detrimental to their school experience in the first place.

I know I've tooted B.F. Day's horn on here before, but really, it is a great school without a trendy new immersion program. We have authentic diversity, our advanced learning program, our inclusive special ed classrooms, and our vibrant community. B.F. Day works for students and families at a time when many public schools don't. Why can't that be good enough for people? Why can't we see that "Foreign Language Immersion" is not synonymous with "Good Education"?

TraceyS said…
The Nation had an article by Linda darling-Hammond with a nice, high level summary of the problems with what they labeled the "test-and-punish" approach to school reform.

Why Is Congress Redlining Our Schools?
Anonymous said…
Floor Pie, as a parent of a first grader at BF Day, I couldn't agree more. I guess I will be sending some emails.
BFDay parent
Floor Pie, I think that was from all the Wallingford parents testifying at the Board meeting on Wednesday night over their (justified) unhappiness.

That said, I'm with you. What?!?
Josh Hayes said…
Not a peep about SPS on KUOW this morning. Don't bother with the podcast if that's what you're looking for.
dan dempsey said…
A Tale of Two Missions” – a film by Juan Williams and Kyle Olson – tells the story of competing cultures in American education through examples from Chicago.

While the fight for school choice rages across the nation, perhaps no better example exists than that of the Windy City. Traditional alliances are breaking down. Both political parties are pushing for education reform and expanded school choice. The status quo is under attack, because most reasonable people understand that thousands of Chicago students are trapped in failing schools.

But the education establishment, led by the radical Chicago Teachers Union, is not willing to give an inch to allow better choices for underserved students. And the union still has enough money, influence and legal standing to make reform efforts difficult to implement.

The film features the Noble Street College Prep charter school and the amazing results its teachers and leaders are delivering for students and parents of Chicago. It also exposes the entrenched educational establishment bent on stifling school choice options and preserving its monopoly on state education dollars.

Being released during National School Choice Week, the film runs approximately 35 minutes and is geared towards generating discussion about the role of our schools and what obstacles can be overcome when school culture is focused on student success rather than adult demands.

Visit to organize and event and watch the film during National School Choice Week, January 22-28, 2012.
==== --- ====

So will this push for choice actually improve the "failing system" that server far too many children poorly? Do we see any positive examples that will work for the long haul on a large scale?

I do not see much happening in WA State or the nation that I find particularly hopeful for a widespread positive change.

This situation is far too reminiscent of health care reform .... USA does not have enough Doctors... plan is to provide a lot more medical care but nothing is being done to greatly increase the supply of doctors.

The claim is that we need better teachers and yet nothing is being done to make teaching an attractive enough profession to encourage more of the best students to become teachers.

I see teaching in WA state to be far less attractive than 10 years ago .... or 20 years ago ... or 30 years ago.

Not enough Doctors and a supposed shortage of "High Quality persons" entering teaching and remaining in teaching positions, so who notices or who cares? Apparently this is all about politics and whether my tribe is winning.
mirmac1 said…
Interesting! HB 2210 just passed. This sets campaign limits for school board races. You should read it.
Anonymous said…
Floor Pie: Perhaps BF Day's been flying under the radar, which usually results in happier-better schools than those that get too much district attention, which is rarely a good thing!

Let Kay know what you like about your school, why, and that you don't want to harm an already good program. As opposed to Sherry, I've always found Kay to be sensitive not to step where she might cause damage. Sherry is less-so, mainly because she typically sides with what the district staff want. That's probably where the "demand" for this arose, btw.

Showing that you care and will fight for your school is the first step in getting the district to back down. WSDWG
Josh Hayes said…
Thanks for the tip, mirmac. What do you suppose prompted this modification of existing campaign finance laws?
mirmac1 said…
Reuven Carlyle trying to look like a reasonable man? Figures they can set up corporate superPACs to exercise their "free speech"?
Happy said…
Existing finance laws didn't apply to school board elections.
dw said…
Anyone want to post an update on the situation at Wedgwood? Specifically, the destruction of their Spectrum program, assuming Cronas' plan is allowed to continue.

Mel/Charlie, any discussion of this at the ALTF meeting?
This has been an important issue to Rep. Carlyle and I think it's great that he and other supported it thru. There is no reason for School Board elections not to have campaign limits and all the other office races do.
TraceyS said…
I can speak a little to the Wedgwood situation. Several parents have made multiple requests for a written description of the Spectrum changes, specifically what is currently being implemented in first grade, and how these changes will be measured. All requests have been rebuffed so far. Chris has been stating since November that he needs to meet with staff before writing down anything, and has not yet had the time to do so. As far as any of us know, there was no written plan in place nor change metrics established before reorganizing first grade classrooms.

District staff and board members are aware of some of what is happening. I have written and spoken to several of them, as have others. I also testified in front of the board on Dec. 3 about the lack of a written plan and the refusal to provide one. We have asked the Advanced Learning office for more information, but that has not arrived yet either. Dr. Vaughan has said he will try to get back to us once the AL letters go out soon.

We are now five months into the school year, and none of us know know what is happening in the first grade classrooms with regards to the Spectrum program, nor what measures of success are being used to determine their effectiveness. We do not know what the plans are for next year's roll-out into second and third grade either, other than Chris has stated several times that he plans to proceed regardless of whatever data he gathers from the first grade experiment.

He did recently announce a set of parent coffees for the next few weeks, which I had asked the PTA to set up. This is the first time any type of meeting has been set up since the June announcement meetings. Even then, the coffees are not specifically about the Spectrum changes, but are open to any topic. Though I am pleased to see that the PTA did that, I was hoping more for parent to parent interaction, rather than just one on one chats with Chris.

What we need from Chris is something in writing. We also need more honest, face to face discussions among parents, because there is a *great* deal of confusion as to what is going on, and old tensions have been reignited.

I also cannot state this nearly enough times - this is NOT a self-contained vs integrated battle. I am actually a supporter of an integrated classroom if done right, and if it follows an established model. That is not happening at Wedgwood.

It is obvious that the Brulles/Winebrenner school-wide clustered program is not being even remotely followed. To the best of my knowledge, no established model is being followed at Wedgwood at this time, and it is being created out of whole cloth.

I also do not want to diminish the efforts of the teachers at Wedgwood either. From what I gather, they do not have a clear plan of record to follow either. And despite that, I am sure they are doing their level best to deliver a good education to all the kids in their classroom. But I cannot see how this is making their lives anything but significantly harder, either.

Unless there is a radical change between now and open enrollment, I could not recommend sending your child to the Wedgwood Spectrum program if you want a rigorous curriculum for your child. Too much is unknown about the program goals and structure to be able to count on it at this time, despite the best efforts of the teaching staff.
cpvmac said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said…
so it begins...:

here and there.

The first one is disturbing. When I was her age, I was already aware of the struggles my immigrant parents went through to prove themselves in this country. It was their (and my) battles that opened the world of opportunity for her. Of course, that world is (now) in the 99%...
Anonymous said…
mirmac1 at 1/27/12 2:55 PM

I heard about this bill from Rueven last evening, and several of us were happily surprised? pleasantly surprised?

and then this morning it dawned on me - WHO were the biggest contributors to sharon and marty ---

and, before you answer that, the amount of money each one spent was pathetic, the amount of money they raised was peanuts, and the campaigns of the challengers were run on a wing and a prayer -

killing off the few grand the local teachers unions kicked in are probably Rueven's real objective -

look at him supporting yet another 1 of those garbage evaluation bills from LEV.

Anonymous said…
Wow -- I can't believe they are even considering opening another language immersion program in a neighborhood school! Why won't the discrict open one or more of these schools as Option Schools? It just makes so much more sense.

Perplexed Parent
Anonymous said…
Mirmac 1 didn't find the first op piece disturbing. Some of what she said rang true for my kids and me.

The second op ed is much more of the same stuff, but the general counsel of Microsoft (now if I was going to have someone help draft a bill, he's a good one to go to) puts it out there best:

"Employers and other school-reform advocates can step out of their corner and support the additional revenues needed to help schools get past their current budget challenges. A temporary sales-tax increase, as Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed, is one important option worth considering."

Think about that. We want to better fund Basic Ed. Some of us are willing to consider a tax increase. But where is that new tax dollars going to go? Into existing classrooms? or teacher eval and charter schools?

I don't think we can compete with China and India when it comes to work. Citizens here won't work in factory under those conditions for poor pay. The US went through that over a hundred years ago. And just because China and India have talented work pool and cheap work pool, look at the societal cost. What gains has India made to improving the quality of life for its people. Things like childnood malnutrition, education, environmental quality? Their economic gains came at great human and environmental costs, as the US did when we went through our industrial revolution.

We don't teach history and related critical thinking (unless it's for R &D) anymore for that reason. Just teach kids how to perform to standardization. You want precise standardization when you make computer components or parts of an airplane. Hence machines are preferred. But you still need to have some workers do things machine can't do quite well yet. And machines need to be fixed when broken, need to be calibrated and maintained.

Sahila said…
Its been published and posted before... AND if you havent read it already, or you know people who are naive about what is going on in education, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to go through this... its one of the most comprehensive exposes I have seen... about the only aspects left out are the co-opting of unions, the founding and funding of astro-turf groups like LEV, A4E, S4C, $tuden$Firs$t, the links to testing company Pearson and Murdoch/IT and how the Common Core was arrived at
Got Dough?
Anonymous said…
I've long appreciated the sense of humor of the blogger at "I Thought a Think":

Anonymous said…
Melissa, has there been discussion at the Advanced Learning Task Force meeting(s) about the Wedgwood situation? It seems like this falls exactly within the purview of what the group is supposed to be about.

It's not just Wedgwood, they are simply one egregious example of the destruction of advanced learning by splitting and dissolving. This particular situation needs to get nipped in the bud.

Tracey, you said these meetings are "one on one chats with Chris". Does that mean there aren't parent-only meetings? I think you do have a chance of effecting change, but you will need to do it as a group, with some solidarity. Is there enough interest to put together a meeting of parents only, perhaps at the SPLibrary?

dan dempsey said…
I just read Sahila's link above to Joanne Barkan's article in Dissent Magazine. Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools.

I've long been amazed at how the RttT "turnaround models" could have come about as I saw nothing in the research to convinced me the Obama/Duncan model was worthwhile.

Ms. Barkan's article certainly explains a lot.

Sahila.... Thanks for the above "Got DOUGH?" link.

Now I see another reason why out politicians have so little interest in intelligently applying relevant data to bring about improvements to our k-12 educational system.
Anonymous said…
Hey you guys! I posted that link here months ago. She was interviewed by David Sirota on his Denver radio show last year. That explain anything, Sahila? (Laughing here)

mirmac1 said…
Teachers: Send the President a letter NOW on this site and tell him to dump Duncan now!
Sahila said…
@"n"..... I am still finding myself to be incredibly obtuse!... I could go back through the postings to find out, I guess... or it can remain a mystery... big grin... I bet you are killing yourself laughing - I would be if the situation was reversed... LOL

but sending thanks!!!
Charlie Mas said…
The real work of the Advanced Learning Task Force has not yet begun. The meetings so far have been mostly about understanding the current situation and getting our charge, timetable, and working plan in place. The real work, which will be done in six sub-committees, starts at the next meeting in February.
Rufus X said…
I received emails this AM w/ two Advanced Learning Task Force survey requests (for Thing 1 & 2, APP & Spectrum). Under the question "If you could design the perfect advanced learning program for your child how would you classify the following components for the program? (1 = Not Important and 3 = Highly Important"), I found that I could not accurately rank these two:

"Offered as a self-contained program ("separate classrooms") in a neighborhood elementary or middle school"
"Offered as an inclusive program with differentiated instruction in the general education setting ("blended classrooms") in a neighborhood elementary or middle school".

For the purposes of this survey, I wonder why elementary and middle schools are being lumped together when asked if a parent feels it's important to have self-contained or blended models. That preference may change depending on age and school population.

But that's just me.
Anonymous said…
At almost the end of the Board meeting, Whittier's Spectrum program and K issue were addressed.

Never intended to add a fourth K but increase capacity at two or three. As I recall,they said their footprint was too small for portables. Not sure about that.

Regarding their self-contained Spectrum, no changes were being planned.

They also discussed BF Day but it was more of a mention than any firm ideas.

Dan, I wonder if there is a correlation between poorer communities and lower teacher pay? Or the reverse?

seattle citizen said…
The New York Times Magazine today has a succinct essay that tells how "data" dehumanizes us, particularly as it is created for and/or stored in something besides our hearts and heads.
The Essence of Being Human is not Remembering but Forgetting

A couple of excerpts that illustrate my fear of losing our humanity in our efforts to become "data-driven":

"“Data” has become the default word used to describe the constantly generated, centrally stored evidence of our existence. I wasn’t surprised to learn that the word “data” comes from the Latin for “to give,” and refers to something that is given or relinquished. It also feels significant that data rests at the very bottom of the so-called knowledge hierarchy — below information, knowledge and wisdom.

For everything that’s gained by our ability to store and maintain more information than ever before, something is lost that has to do with texture, context and association. The science journalist Joshua Foer, author of “Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything,” said in a lecture to the Royal Society of Arts that people once “invested in their memories, they cultivated them. They studiously furnished their minds. They remembered. Today, of course, we’ve got books and computers and smartphones to hold our memories for us. We’ve outsourced our memories to external devices. The result is that we no longer trust our memories. We see every small, forgotten thing as evidence that they’re failing us altogether.” As we store more and more of what makes us us outside of ourselves, he said, “we’ve forgotten how to remember.”

When asked by his interviewer if memory isn’t also a form of baggage, a conduit for suffering or a handicap, Foer responded with two stories. The first is about a man who lost his memory and his ability to form new memories, which made him less human in a way, because “to be a person you have to exist in the dimension of time.” The second story is about a man who could remember everything but had no way of filtering the information. Foer likened this man to a character in a Borges story that concluded that the “essence of being human is not remembering but forgetting.”

"accumulating data does not feel the same as gaining knowledge, experience or understanding. 'What does the inside of your computer actually look like?' Case asked. 'Well, if you print it out, it looks like a thousand pounds of material that you’re carrying around all the time. And if you actually lose that information, it means that you suddenly have this loss in your mind, that you suddenly feel like something’s missing, except you weren’t able to see it, so it feels like a very strange emotion...'

...Foer said, 'What makes things memorable is that they are meaningful, significant, colorful.' Data is weightless and characterless and takes up very little space. The more of it we save, the more we lose the ability to differentiate it, to assign significance and meaning."
seattle citizen said…
This bears remembering (from the above NYTs excerpt):

" rests at the very bottom of the so-called knowledge hierarchy — below information, knowledge and wisdom."
Catherine said…
Dan between the "got dough" article you referenced, and (Lawrence Lessig's latest) ... I wonder where to dig in and fight.
TraceyS said…

No, there have been no parent-only meetings, despite member requests to the PTA. The next option is to meet off campus, but I had really hoped to work this out within the school.

Some of us have asked as a group for long-promised written plans about the program changes, but we have been continually rebuffed. I first asked last June for a copy of a written plan, even a one page summary, and a group of us have made three attempts via email. Nada.

Since it is clear that no one will provide anything in writing at this point, nor even discuss it schoolwide, we are now looking at our options. None of us have any confidence in what will be delivered next year, given how this has been handled. It is all so very heartbreaking.

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