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Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Open Thread

What a week!

Please keep those phone calls and e-mails up to the Governor and legislative reps.  If you have time for only one - make it the Governor. 

38 comments:

dan dempsey said...

As we hear about more legislative wrangling consider this from Texas.

Texas Schools Cope as Classes Expand and Staffs Shrink

Every minute is accounted for in her meticulously planned workdays. To some extent, that is true every school year. But last fall, for the first time in her 12 years of teaching, 23 students were enrolled in her San Antonio elementary school class — making those minutes even more precious.

Many Texas teachers have found themselves in a similar predicament. Texas Education Agency data for the 2011-12 school year show that the number of elementary classes exceeding the 22-student cap has soared to 8,479 from 2,238 last school year.

================
WA state has large class sizes, needs a longer school year and longer school day for many students ..... and Rodney Tom comes up with charters and the Guv is all for Value Added measures incorporated into teacher evaluations.

The WA School System needs fixing ... unfortunately the needed fixing is not even discussed by the politicians.

Anonymous said...

Bit of a random question but...I'm going to be looking for a job teaching Special Education. I previously taught music in a district with a very tense relationship between schools/parents/admin which exacerbated the climate caused by the budget cuts. This resulted in a teacher strike which anyone could see coming from a mile away.

I'm looking for a district in which central admin/school admin/teachers are all on the same page. Although they may disagree about the route, they're all heading towards the same destination (hopefully NOT Testville).

Any districts I should focus on (or avoid like the plague)? I live in north Seattle, so up to Everett-ish, maybe down to Highline, and no 520 or 90.

SpEd can be a stressful job, and I really don't want the extra stress of a combative work environment. Plus, I can put up with a lot of poo if I know admin has my back, and I know I'm going to be dealing with a lot of that (paperwork/procedures/etc-NOT the kiddos ).

It's not something I can really ask about at job interviews, and I know there's a lot of involved people here, so even if you don't know about other districts, I figure you can at least point me to places where I can find the info I'm looking for.

Thank you :)
Rachel

Anonymous said...

You know the scene in "Good-bye, Mr. Chips" where the new Headmaster complains Mr. Chips is under-mining his authority and the Head of the Board of Governors says, "You brought it upon yourself."

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

More McClure mess (unedited):

From: Pritchett, Sarah J
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2012 2:19 PM

Over the last week there has been a lot of communication regarding ASB and
Yearbook being taught during the day as opposed to an after school club.
As I stated in previous emails, what a teacher teaches during the day rest with
the principal to make the final decision, however I feel that my choice and
reasoning behind my decision making has been misrepresented. Which has
caused the need to clarify and articulate.

My decision to place both of these programs into our schedule is based on
what is in the best interest of students; which sadly has been absent in most
of the comments that I have heard regarding the example schedule, i.e. "why
should this person get that and not me", "that's money I use for vacation", "I
don't like that person", etc . This process has been frustrating for everyone,
including myself, but we must keep our focus on students. Students must
be in the center of every decision we make.

Over the five years that I have been here I have had the opportunity to
see growth in our WEB program even beyond my expectation. By having a class
during the day every day, students have been able to gain valuable leadership
experience and training. The WEB leaders have developed their identity
and have become an indispensable part of our McClure community.

During that same time I have seen our ASB's growth become stagnant. I
believe that those students who run for ASB and who are class representatives need
leadership training, beyond once or twice a week after school. We have
the responsibility to our students to create the best opportunities for them
and having leadership training throughout the year will provide that
opportunity. This year our yearbook program almost dissolved completely, and now
students are scrambling to salvage our yearbook. This is not ok, if we have the
ability to have students have a guaranteed class during the school day to do this
work throughout the year and come with a phenomenal project it is my/our
responsibility to make that happen.

Sarah Pritchett, Principal
McClure Middle School

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

Where to begin?

1 - The completely unprofessional approach to staff.

2 - The illiterate writing and composition.

3 - The preemptive use of power with apparently no over-sight.

4 - The promotion of social engineering over academics.

5 - Substantial budget resources spent on turning after-school activities into year-long full-time quasi academic classes. (Why not a language or art class or, hey, grammar instruction?)

6 - The lack of the district waiver process to institute curriculum changes.

7 - The lack of state standards for the creation of new “social engineering" classes during the academic day. How are teachers going to legally grade a WEB or ASB class without standards?

This is so off-the-wall even for Sarah.

-McClureWatcher

Melissa Westbrook said...

McClure Watcher, could you e-mail me about this? I'm a little unclear on what is happening.

sss.westbrook@gmail.com

Someone said...

@McClure watcher - huh - ok, maybe I grew up in the dark ages, and it was Tacoma, but I was on my junior high yearbook team and it was indeed a class - an offshoot of the journalism curriculum. Ditto my high school - it too was a class because of the time, effort and yes, indeed, learning that went on to create a spiffy product.

Student council was also a "class period" - for the same reasonings - there were a lot of things that dealt with writing, reading, poli sci etc that were imparted in that venue.

I know zero abou the situation re: McClure - I'm just saying it's not that unusual for those kinds of programs to happen within the class schedule time period - at least it used to be lonnnnnng ago ;o)

Anonymous said...

Melissa, please ask me your questions via the blog.

Better yet you could ask Sarah herself.

And all the info available so far is in the email.

-McClureWatcher

Charlie Mas said...

Can a principal create a class that isn't in the course catalog?

Maureen said...

McCLure watcher, what is WEB? (ASB stands for Associated Student Body and is basically student governmen.)

So is it the case that kids who want to do yearbook or run for student government will have to use their elective periods to participate? Will it be possible for kids to do Foreign Language and Music AND ASB or yearbook (or 'WEB'?) How many kids are on ASB at McClure, is it enough to fill a class? It seems like it would be hard to schedule 28-32 ASB reps over three grade levels all into the same period (same with yearbook) in order to make this type of thing cost effective.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with Someone on this one. My niece took a yearbook/newspaper journalism class in 7th grade in CA. She went on to be the co-editor of her HS newspaper today. I'm not getting the "social engineering class" comment here. What is it anyway? Doesn't McClure offer TV production class too? 35 years ago, I took Home Ec and Shop because I wanted to learn to bake and make step stool. The classes were well represented by both sexes. They were considered lightweight in contrast to trignometry, but I have to say I still use the stuff I learned from those 2 classes to this day.

-befuddled

Anna said...

Leadership is in the SPS course catelog. As is yearbook. And journalism. No waiver or permission needed to implement a class that exists in the SPS course catelog.

RosieReader said...

At Ingraham, I know ASB is a class, and I'm reasonably sure that Yearbook is too. It makes these opportunities more accessible to all students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

McClure watcher, I don't like have a public discussion over an issue that clearly seems to have caused some division at McClure.

I'm not even sure what the big overall issue is. That's why I asked you to write to me for clarification so maybe I could go and talk with the principal.

But I'm not debating something I don't understand nor am I writing a thread about it.

RosieReader said...

Good for you Melissa.

RosieReader said...

Oops. hit "enter" before I could add that I really appreciate your commitment to basic standards.

TraceyS said...

Any news yet about the Lowell investigation report? I thought there might be some chance that it would come out today, since it is a Friday.

former leadership teacher said...

McClure watcher

The Washington State principal's association endorses a strong leadership curriculum for both Middle and High school students. The programs differ for the level. Here's a link to check out

http://www.awsp.org/Content/awsp/StudentLeadership/Resources/Publications/default.htm

Having been a Middle Leadership and Yearbook teacher, it is not uncommon for those classes to be held during the school day. The amount of work it takes to produce a Yearbook cannot be done solely afterschool. Additionally, a well run Leadership program can make a big difference in school climate, students learning social skills, etc.

It sounds as if there is a disgruntled employee complaining making something out of nothing.

Please help us understand what the concern is.

Also, while some may think EVERYONE should be a perfect writer, unfortunately none of us are perfect. :0

Anonymous said...

Lynne Varner strikes again with this nonsensical editorial line:

"Charters are not about saving money but about spending it more intelligently."

Whaaa?

Then the piece demands that Frank Chopp push the charter bill. This is after the governor has said she absolutely will not accept charters and that they are not to be part of the budget.

There are a whole slew of other demands, too. It's a classic. There's a reason the Times editorial writers have never won a Pulitzer.

-skeptical-

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone saw this - more cheating, this time in Philadelphia. 20% of the schools affected, including 50% of their high achieving ones, plus three charters.

http://articles.philly.com/2012-03-11/news/31145463_1_city-charter-schools-vanguard-schools-education-secretary-ronald-tomalis

Anonymous said...

reprint to avoid deletion

Anonymous said...
Not sure if anyone saw this - more cheating, this time in Philadelphia. 20% of the schools affected, including 50% of their high achieving ones, plus three charters.

http://articles.philly.com/2012-03-11/news/31145463_1_city-charter-schools-vanguard-schools-education-secretary-ronald-tomalis

3/17/12 3:00 AM

--enough already

seattle citizen said...

Here, No more foot-dragging on the state budget, is the Times, opining about how we should accept the Republican budget. They note six pieces, and comment on each. Here's the comment on charters. Same old "failing school" crap, and how are charters spending money more intelligently? Who knows:

"• Allowing charter schools (SB 6202, Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue).

This would allow 10 charter schools, all in districts with persistently failing public schools. Charters are not about saving money but about spending it more intelligently."

Cindlylouwhoo said...

Rachel- apply up in Edmonds. That's where I work. Good district.

Anonymous said...

We are thinking about McClure for the year after next. That email does not discourage me about the principal. Seems like her reasoning is right on.

And her observation about some not putting the kids first might be correct, given that the person who posted the email thinking it would damage her was a recipient, and likely on staff. That worries me more about the teaching staff than it does the principal.

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

TracyS The latest information (Thursday, 3/15) is that the the district does not know the date the report will be finalized and released.
SLP2

Anonymous said...

Cindlylouwho-
I've been subbing up there a good bit, and my impression has been pretty favorable! Nothing that weirds me out on the union space in the staff rooms, and most of the people I've met have been really awesome and welcoming :).

So a random question-what's with the no Smartboards? The projectors are great, but they're a million times more great with Smartboards. Plus, you get at least 3 years of increased student involvment because they really really want to touch the board and if they're not paying attention, they don't get to touch!

Rachel

seattle citizen said...

Meanwhile over at LEV, Chris Korsmo discusses "reform schools" and how she is glad DFER (a "small, pink unicorn") arrived to help us discuss (and, given LEV's biases, enable) reform schools:

HOw Much Specialer Will it Get?

"...the debate over whether the Democrats are reform school enough rages on. Personally, and no one’s asking me, this discussion is long overdue here. Thank a small pink unicorn for the arrival of Democrats for Education Reform..."

seattle citizen said...

Meanwhile over at LEV, Chris Korsmo discusses "reform schools" and how she is glad DFER (a "small, pink unicorn") arrived to help us discuss (and, given LEV's biases, enable) reform schools:

HOw Much Specialer Will it Get?

"...the debate over whether the Democrats are reform school enough rages on. Personally, and no one’s asking me, this discussion is long overdue here. Thank a small pink unicorn for the arrival of Democrats for Education Reform..."

Sahila said...

NY Times: How Charter Schools Can Hurt

Anonymous said...

Re McClure. Yes. This is a HUGE issue.

The issue for me is that WEB (a "leadership" class where a bunch of kids get picked to be "leaders", Where Everybody Belongs), ASB, and yearbook - are not classes that are going to have very many kids. And, right, they are NOT academic. When my kid is sitting in 38 kid classrooms for core subjects and we have these little boutique classes - doing very little - dedicated to what should really be a "club"... then you are relugating academics to a distant second priority by having the largest middle school classes in the whole district, especially for language arts. I mean really. It is pretty infuriating. And to think... we are wasting our LA and reading specialists on this baloney, it's just ridiculous.

What do the kids DO in ASB? Not much. It's a "club". How about WEB - a bunch of eight graders prance around the building wearing special shirts. They do a few tours. They run a few homeroom activities. Yearbook? Same with yearbook. This should definitely be a club. You think a bunch of kids are "saving the yearbook"? No. That is parents and staff. No, there isn't a lot of reading or writing or thinking or anything in these "electives". It was meant to save money by not spending on afterschool. Why not just ask the PTSA for this nominal amount?

OK - Just sayin. What you're considering is 38 kids per class. That IS pretty mediocre and it in no way "puts students first". And, how is it that "you're considering" this? Open enrollment is over. Either you signed up, or you didn't. But, if that's what you like, then I guess you will be pleased.

Another McClure Parent

Anonymous said...

Former Leadership Teacher -

I could totally back these classes if we could really afford it. In an obvious, bizarre cost saving measure - we are bring these classes back into the school day. We save a little money by NOT funding them at the very little they cost as afterschool programs. That was the real driving force for sure. BUT then - these classes will be taught by teachers who are really credentialed in core subjects. Therefore, those teachers will teach fewer core subjects than they could have. The results of that, inevitably, will be another year of HUGE classes.

So a few leadership etc classes AND HUGE classes vs offering these as after-school programs.

The other tremendous downside with having these enrichment activities be during the school day - many students will not be able to participate... due to their schedules. How fair is that? You want to be a "leader"? Too bad, you're in band. You can't take Spanish AND yearbook. Another: too bad.

We saved a few dimes to get even larger classes and exclude a lot of students from what could be worthwhile.

Another McClure Parent

Anonymous said...

Anyone know where to find start/end times for elementary schools for 2012-13?

Jane

seattle citizen said...

Another McClure parent wrote that the ASB, Yearbook, and WEB classes were not really classes. If your account is true, than I agree. What is the curriculum and expected outcomes of these classes? That would be telling. Anyone have a syllabus?

One question, tho', AMP: You write that these classes are "meant to save money by not spending on afterschool."

But by having these small classes, isn't McClure spending FTE on them? If there were two sections of each, that's a full time cert, about $75,000 give or take.

Oh, wait, I see - they don't have to spend more money if they crowd other classes. Never mind, I get it.

Hmmm....

seattle citizen said...

Jane, I did a quick bit o' research and could find nothing about next year's start times. I believe all elementaries are on the same start schedule now, and I believe that is 8:50-8:55. This was recently standardized to facilitate transportation, so I wouldn't imagine it changing next year. But...

But try the Customer Service website or call 206 252 0010 between 7:30 and 4:30 weekdays.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane,

Hope the below works for you...

If not - it is available on the Transportation page.

Link to Bell/Bus Times for 2012-2013

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/transportation/APPROVED2011-2012ARRIVALDEPARTURETIMES%209-6.pdf?sessionid=40dc1697b00cd10ce9593cd61cbc5833

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Even though it says 2011-2012 at the top, it is under the link for approved 2012-2013.

-StepJ

seattle citizen said...

goos sleuthin', StepJ!

Here's the Link to Bell/Bus Times for 2012-2013 as a live link.

Anonymous said...

But by having these small classes, isn't McClure spending FTE on them? If there were two sections of each, that's a full time cert, about $75,000 give or take.

Oh, wait, I see - they don't have to spend more money if they crowd other classes. Never mind, I get it.


No SC, there won't be 2 periods of each. There will be 1 period. It will be available to a limited number of students (problem 1). And yes, they will just massively overcrowd the core subjects to pay for it.(problem 2) Parents won't mind. Will they? They probably will never even know about it. They won't have to have an "afterschool program" available to all. They won't have to pay for an afterschool program. (Hooray!) And, they can have classes of 38 students. Who knows? What really is the limit? Maybe they could even squeeze 45 into an LA, math, or science teacher. Maybe you could get away with just having 1 teacher per core subject. Wouldn't that be cool?

As to these classes (ASB, WEB, yearbook) really being classes - well, that's sort of a secondary question/issue. I'm sure that a great teacher could run them as real classes that were valuable. Who knows? It's speculation.

The real issue is that principals are being allowed to sell our students down the river - in clumps of 38 to a teacher. Where's the union when you need it?

If it is an issue affecting student performance, they seem to care - not so much.

Another McClure Parent

notsure said...

I'm not sure that those are the 2012-2013 bell times. Boren, for example, isn't included in the list. Also, on Friday I emailed the school secretaries of both of my kids' elementary schools, and they did not know the bell times yet.

Anonymous said...

A quick visit to the Transportation home page, or the School Board page and view the attachments for the Feb. 1 SB meeting will verify. I have no motivation to mislead a fellow parent.

Thank you for the link SC.

-StepJ