Tuesday Open Thread

 From the City of Seattle:

As you know, Youth Commission applications closed last Friday; in order to get better geographic and high school representation, though, we’re extending the application period through the end of this week. If you know anyone who wanted to apply but wasn’t able to, please ask them to get their application in by this Friday, April 20th. Because this week is Spring Break, it’s OK for new applicants to submit their references by the end of the day next Tuesday, April 24th.  We’re especially looking for more applicants from Franklin and Rainier Beach, so if you know any students at either school, please encourage them to apply.

All application materials can be found online at http://seattle.gov/syc/apply.htm; thanks for getting the word out already, and thanks in advance for any help you can offer now!

What's on your mind?


dan dempsey said…
McKenna talks education in Vancouver, WA visit.

"During the conversation, Mc-Kenna said public schoolteachers’ collective bargaining agreements and salary rules hinder education. He also said rising health care costs for state employees are “cannibalizing” the money Washington should be spending to improve its education system.

“We have to stop running the education system for the adults and start running it for the kids,” said McKenna, who serves as the state’s attorney general.

The state Supreme Court in January ordered the Legislature to make progress toward fully paying for basic education by 2018. As a result, K-12 education has been a focus for state lawmakers this year.

McKenna brought up the $13.2 million National Math and Science Initiative grant that Washington schools had to reject because the terms of the grant clashed with the collective bargaining agreements between teachers and schools. The grant would have increased pay to teachers who participated in the program."
Anonymous said…
Differently Designed Artist Trunk Show

Sunday, April 29, 3 - 7 pm at Thornton Creek Elementary

Shop for handmade art by twenty local artists. Twenty percent of proceeds benefit the Every Body Plays community playground at Thornton Creek Elementary, s specially designed playground for children with special needs.

To learn more about the project...

Anonymous said…
I'm wondering if someone can explain to me what a School Decision Matrix is, and how it originates or evolves, who oversees it, and if there are any rules or guidelines that govern how it develops... Any information you can point me to would be very helpful.

Anonymous said…
Curious, check your school BLT's framework for it. Also called Decision Making Matrix (DMM).

Charlie Mas said…
The matrix may exist in a document, but don't be surprised if it doesn't get used.
Anonymous said…
Yes, but who oversees it and has the power to revise it? Big question.

Also not sure what you mean by the BLT's "framework."

seattle citizen said…
Dan, what does Attorney General McKenna say about the court's order to the state to make progress in fully funding education? (Was McKenna, as AG, arguing FOR the state against the plaintiffs in that case before the court? Was he arguing that the state WAS meeting its "paramount duty"?
Does McKenna believe a couple small, national grants will "fully fund" our state's education? Or does he want edcuators to take the hit? Hmmm, lessee...
Anonymous said…
I am the only person I know who got wait listed for my first choice, an option school. Very frustrating. Anyone know how quickly the wait lists move typically, if at all?

Sarah said…
I am curious, are there any other families out there who are frustrated by the pay for K policy? We can't afford the tuition so we will have to pick up at the half-day point next year, but that also means my son will miss out on 50% of the instruction. :( I was stunned to hear my child will be the only half-day kid at his school. One of the kindergarten teachers made it sound like my kid will be doomed forever if we went that route, she couldn't seem to grasp it wasn't our choice, it's our only option. We can't be the only middle income family stuck in this conundrum can we?
It seems unethical to put the fear of God in parents about how important all day K is (that message came through loud and clear) unless it's actually available to every kid. Which leads me to wonder, Is it really that important, or are they talking it up so emphatically so those that do have a choice won't choose half day?

Frustrated Mom
Sarah, I think there are MANY parents who don't like Pay for K. But the state won't fund it. (Note: both McKenna and Inslee say it's a priority for them.)

And yes, it's pretty hilarious to tell parents they have to pay for full day K and some schools don't even have half-day.

Is it that important? Well, as you pointed out, your child will miss things the other kids will be doing. So if they make something or go to music, your child could feel left out the next day. Also, kindergarten is not the "getting to know you, naptime, etc" it used to be when we were growing up. They aim to do some real learning and teaching.

I can only tell you to vote your conscience and tell one or the other candidate they better act as they say they will. Write your legislators and tell them it's a priority.
Nick Esparza said…
Dear Mr. Dorsey,

I received your letter on April 9th 2012 in what appears to be an attempt to once again silence public testimony and dissent. Body language is clearly protected by the First Amendment and yet body language is what you have chosen to try to reprimand me for my comments regarding incompetencies of our HR department and administration lead staff. I stand behind my public testimony, which is my right as a tax payer and citizen of the Seattle community. I'm puzzled at the timing of your response, you see there was no indication at the meeting either during or after of any disruption to the procedure of school district business. I'm not shocked at your response on the other hand, as it once again falls into a familiar pattern of reprimand where I'm concerned.

Your goal by my understanding at these proceedings is to make sure there is no harm to either persons or property, and to ensure no one is harassed or intimidated by the speakers. I would appreciate it in the future if administration personally felt they were maligned by my comments, that they would contact me directly with purpose and approachability, not misdirect the focus of security staff under a guise of protecting them from undue criticism.

I find it curious that to my knowledge even though a woman at the same meeting called out Marty"McLaren" by name she did not receive a letter of reprimand by you or anyone else from your staff. The School Board and Superintendent, also the HR District staff are public employees who are not exempt from such scrutiny, I intend on exercising my First Amendment rights which are guaranteed under the US Constitution, so hope you understand I will be present and continue to speak on topics of concern where Seattle Schools Children's Welfare is at stake.

The topic of my speech that night was regarding the Lowell Investigation and equal opportunity. How sad I'm to report that we continue to fight against discriminatory practices against employees, and to hamper and misdirect abuse investigations.

In closing Larry I will go on record as saying I'm not intimidated by such documents as your letter dated on April 4th hoped to accomplish. I'm not going to be suppressed or hijacked through the US Mail, so until I break a policy of our State or Federal Law I would advise you to focus your attention or more pertinent situations of real concern.

Finally all individuals interested are always free to view my public testimony, which is video taped, then they may render their own decisions. They may go to the City of Seattle Channel to view these tapes, then they may post to my blog where I also welcome both supportive or contradictory responses. Unlike yourself they may due so freely knowing a letter will not be sent to their home for voicing their opinions. Larry you may also join me on Facebook at Seattle School District Exposed, or if you would like further dialogue, you might also choose to use Twitter at SPSSchoolsexposed or possibly YouTube PSSchoolsexposed.. Hope to see you at the next board meeting.

Nick Esparza
cc Brian Rosenthal - Seattle Times
cc Seattle ACLU
cc KOW News
Anonymous said…
Sarah/Frustrated Mom,

There might be a couple of options available. If your family qualifies for free and reduced lunch (FRL), then you will not need to Pay for K. There are also other benefits like not having to pay for field trips and such. Here is a link to the income amounts for the current school year.

Also, make an inquiry of your school PTA. There may be some scholarship or other funding available.

Anonymous said…

Some Option Schools move their wait lists quite a bit. Others don't. It really depends on the school. And completely normal to be wait listed for your first choice. There is just no wiggle room in the SPS system right now.

Specifically to Option Schools...normally, they will overbook the classes a little bit. If enough kids let SPS know they will not attend then the wait list may move from now through the end of June.

Normally in July the enrollment system computers are shut down for at least two weeks so no movement then.

Movement on the list starts again in mid-August through the end of September.

Wondering said…
When will SPS announce the next Superintendent?
Sarah said…
Yes Melissa, I will certainly voice my opinion with the state regarding funding all day K. I still don't understand why Seattle is operating ALL of their Kindergartens as if they were fully funded. I would much prefer my son have the option of attending a real half day K.

Thanks for the link StepJ, unfortunately we don't qualify for free/reduced lunch. Hmmm, i'm not sure how I feel about asking our school's PTA for a $2750 gift, that is a great deal of money. I will think about it though. Ugh, why can't they have a handful of half- day programs still???
Anonymous said…
I may be dumb, but what if all parents simply left their kids in kindergarten regardless of their ability to pay? The teacher is there and (presumably) paid for, the school is open and so are facilities...is it a contractual thing, or just a policy? The costs are sunk, right? We can pay for full-time kindergarten, and I'd be thrilled if anyone who can't could just keep their child in the classroom.

I know a few years ago there was pretty poor accounting of payments for kindergarten. Now that the (expensive) PayPams system keeps better track of non-payments, I wonder what the district is willing to do if someone doesn't pay? Send them to collections? For kindergarten classrooms that we (the collective we) should be paying for anyway?

Don't want to get the little kids involved, but I would love to force this issue....

- Kids should be in K
Anonymous said…
Agree kids should be in K.

But, yes. You will get a few months of full-day K without payment. Then they (SPS) will send you to collections.

-Short term reality
Charlie Mas said…
Sarah, frustrated mom, wrote:

"we will have to pick up at the half-day point next year"

Sarah, if your child is supposed to get yellow bus transportation, then that is to and from school. If they bring your child to school on a bus then they have to send your child home. Either on a bus or in a taxi. They cannot push the transportation burden onto you.
Charlie Mas said…
From the District's Transportation Service Standards:

"Midday kindergarten transportation will be provided should a parent/guardian decide to not participate in the school’s full day kindergarten program. Transportation will be limited to the student’s attendance area boundary"
Anonymous said…

I had one of my children in 1/2 day K, the other was in in full day K. Academically it did not make a difference. One of my children was advanced the other had a learning disability. Neither was addressed in the kindergarten academics, so it really made no difference how long they were there. Our school did most academics in the morning and enrichment (art, PE, etc) in the afternoon because there were always a few families who pulled their kids at half day.

We did a lot of enrichment at home in the afternoon that I felt was more valuable than what the school offered because it was in smaller groups and targeted at my child's personality & interests.

Neither of my children felt they would be missing out if they left school in the afternoon. That will depend on your child. If your child is social it may be hard to find playdates of the same age in the afternoon.

The school wants everyone in full day K because it helps to cover their costs & is less bother. My advice is, don't feel pressured to do full day K. There are certainly some advantages, but I don't think it is worth making a big financial sacrifice.

-stay at home parent
Hoping for No Raises said…
I consider myself "lucky" enough to be below the income threshold for free lunch - and more importantly for free kindergarten. This means that my kids will get the same amount of education as their wealthier peers.

However, if my family's income creeps up, and we go above that threshold (even by a few dollars a month), then we would start owing hundreds per month in tuition. For public school.

Well, I would have the option of removing my child from the classroom halfway through the day. Gee, that's a great idea -- give the kids hovering above the poverty line half as much school as their well-off peers; that'll really "close the achievement gap" (sarcasm).
The new superintendent should be announced early to mid-May. That person is likely to come on-line in July.
Jamie said…
I got this email today from StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee's organization. I cannot attend but thought I'd post it here.

On April 25th, you can get the inside scoop on current education initiatives in Washington State and find out how educators and concerned citizens like you can get involved!

StudentsFirst is coordinating a panel discussion next week called: Education Issues in Washington State. The discussion will focus on current educational initiatives across the state and what they mean for educators and students. Panelists include: Eric Lerum, Vice President of National Policy at StudentsFirst; Rosalund Jenkins, Black Education Roundtable Director at The League of Education Voters; Frank Ordway, Director of Government Relations at The League of Education Voters; and Chris Eide, Co-founder of Teachers United.

Come hear a dynamic discussion and find out what action steps you can take to get more involved.

RSVP today!

Date: Wednesday, April 25
Time: 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Place: Aki Kurose Middle School Library
Address: 3928 S. Graham St. Seattle, WA, 98118

It is critical that we all have a voice when it comes to education policy in our state. Educators know what needs to change and what programs have succeeded and failed in the past. Parents and concerned citizens understand the importance of quality public schools to the health of a community. Bring your ideas and questions to the panel discussion and start making a difference now.

Tell us you’re coming by clicking on the link below:


Hope to see you there!

Gina Wickstead
Teacher Fellow, StudentsFirst
dan dempsey said…
Seattle Citizen,

Your questions about McKenna are good ones. All I can say about the AG.... is that certain duties come with the office.

AG will defend the Gov and the SPI in recall attempts.

When the Gov decides that the state will appeal some ruling it is the AG's job to do the defending.

I am completely unimpressed by the two major candidates for Governor when it comes to their expressed views on K-12 education thus far.

As to what the WA Supreme Court said on k-12 funding ... simply idiotic. State has a plan to stop violating the constitution by 2018 so good enough. Typical WA State leadership.
Dorothy Neville said…
The decision to only offer fullday K is a superintendent decision. Not all of senior management agrees. I doubt all board members agree either. Who knows? A new super could change the policy or the state could fully fund or both. One could try to get into one of the handful of schools with free fullday K.
Dorothy Neville said…
Yes, they send people to collections if they don't pay. Otherwise it's a gift of public funds, so they say.
dan dempsey said…
About the 10:28 posting above on Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst.....

Here is what was happening in Connecticut.

It seems that there was a failure to properly disclose lobbying by StudentsFirst.

====== About Ms. Rhee (a big current influence peddler) please consider the following letter (excerpt)

Open Letter to Mayor Vincent Gray
Testimony by Erich Martel

Retired DCPS High School Social Studies Teacher

Including Testimony at Mayor Vincent Gray’s School Budget Hearing at the Sumner School

(March 8, 2012)

Mr. Mayor,

For many years, the DC Public Schools have failed in its duty to educate all students in the District of Columbia who wish to attend a public school. For the past five years, that failure has continued, because Chancellors Rhee and Henderson have had only one goal: Creating a teacher evaluation formula that would enable them to fire hundreds of teachers annually, while effectively delaying them the hearings where they could challenge the process that led to their less than effective evaluations. You have yet to hold Chancellor Henderson accountable for her and her shared responsibility with Chancellor Rhee for the failure of our schools to improve. In fact, you are now planning to let her set up charter schools.

Approximately 46% of the staff in the 37 IFF-labeled schools were hired under Chancellor's Rhee and Henderson. Their actions disrupted the lives of thousands of children and hundreds and hundreds of teachers. And now, that their actions have failed, you are going to give the chancellor the break that she and her staff never considered giving to teachers. Teachers can be terminated after one or two years; yet, Chancellor Henderson is allowed to tinker with the schools, fail, and you now want to give her time to tinker even more.

The reason she wants to close schools is so she can force more teachers into the "termination through excess" process. This is outrageous.

You have apparently aligned yourself with the destructive self-interests that have been invited to take over the DC schools and treat them, the students and the staff as a colonial possession, with an open invitation to mercenary foundations to engage in all kinds of experimentation.

Think for a moment: You and the Council Members traveled to New Hampshire to plea for support for DC statehood, that is, for greater local control of DC affairs. Yet, at the same time, you have opened the door even wider for special interests, accountable to faraway powers, who care little for the accuracy and validity of school data, as long as schools are closed and teachers are terminated, to take over our schools. How could you?

You thought it unfair when a NH legislator cited safety issue in DC as a reason for opposing your request. Yet, the causes behind those safety issues are the same ones that have depressed educational improvement for our students. Why is your apparent understanding of socio-economic factors limited to the statehood campaign and not to our schools? In other words, why do you allow the chancellor and her bloated staff to evaluate teachers as if the only factor that mattered in student learning occurs in the classroom?

It’s time for you to act as the elected trustee of the people of this city and not the moneyed interests and influence peddlers.
hschinske said…
Kindergarten isn't even mandatory in this state. For children who aren't starting out behind or disadvantaged in any way, I doubt it makes a blind bit of difference whether they're in half-day or full-day programs.

Helen Schinske
StopTFA said…
Gina Wickstead, TFA BFF! On the selection committees for Aki's TFAers, along with the P and the AP. So SEA what's up with that?
Jamie said…
Dan, that letter is brilliant. I was hoping someone who reads this blog (or writes for it) could attend the StudentsFirst meeting and let us know what they're all about. I honestly don't know how I got on their email list but I get things from them once a month or so.
Steve said…
I added myself to StudentsFirst's email list by accident when I supported a petition (about something...I don't remember) related to education on Change.org. I honestly can't remember if it was a specific issue or if/how StudentsFirst was event mentioned as the organization sponsoring the petition. In any event, when I got my first email from them, I recognized it as the Rhee group, and had them remove me from their database. There's a bit of a thread about this related to Change.org sponsoring this petition if you want to look for it...

Well, this should be interesting so thank you for the notice of this event.
mirmac1 said…
Please consider attending this wonderful event at my alma mater. Roxhill is a wonderful, inclusive, high-achieving school that is, thanks to ?, is poised to be dissolved.

Where are our values when CM Tim Burgess can get his South Lake Union elementary (where no one lives) while thriving, successful schools in established neighborhoods are simply erased?

Well, they aren't getting my levy vote. And Mayor Burgess? HA Ha Ha!
mirmac1 said…
In less than 24 hours, we'll know the finalists to be the next superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. Who's getting excited!?
Anonymous said…
Did someone say "StudentsFirst"?

Here are a few articles to read regarding Rhee's multimillion dollar organization:

Shame on Michelle Rhee
I Don't Understand Michelle Rhee and Michelle Rhee comes to Oakland, is greeted by protesters.
Anonymous said…
Sarah/Frustrated Mom,

I don't think all day K is at all important, if you provide lots of interaction at home.

We had our older daughter do 1/2 day K. We had a younger daughter at home and they liked to play together. We felt that 1/2 day was plenty for her, but half day ended at 11:35, which was really just 2 hours and 15 minutes. Another half-day family and we worked with the principal to make a pro-rated payment to keep her there until noon so she could also have lunch and recess for the social time.

The K teachers should do academics in the portion of the day the half-dayers attend. (Our daughter was the only 1/2 day kid in her class, tho there was one other in another class.) Then your child misses art and choice time. Our K teacher would let our daughter stay for special events such as field trips and performances.

She was more than ready for first grade, but she is pretty bright. We also had her in piano, which did more for her brain than anything she got in K. And she played a lot with her 3-year old sister. They really played with a lot of imagination, which I think is hugely developmental for them, more so than sitting in the K classes I observed when volunteering in my kids' classrooms.

The upshot is that if you are providing a stimulating environment, half-time K won't put your child at a disadvantage academically. One-on-one with you is hugely preferable to one-on-26, when she has a half day at school to get used to going to school and some social time.

Anonymous said…

Asa teacher I agree that you can get the academic stuff at home, no problem. My caution: be careful how you frame 1/2 day to your child, especially when your child is the only one that will be coming home 1/2 way through the day. What we want is for kids to develop a feeling of power/agency. If your child thinks it's your choice to do 1/2 day, whether or not it's agreeable to him, it's better than if your child develops a belief that he is the only one who can't afford it-- kids often frame that as "I am worse than all the other kids." Kids don't understand the nuances of family struggles and it's very easy for them to form beliefs about themselves in these kinds of contexts. That said, if you truly are the only person whose child won't be in all-day K at the school, and if your school has a counselor, go to the counselor and explain the situation. The counselor may be willing to put in to the PTA for a grant-- and that way it's anonymous. Also if that doesn't work make an appointment with your child's principal to see what some out-of-the-box options might be. Many principals are really good about getting around the red tape, and most really want to find a way for kids to succeed.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said…
HHG has great suggestions! As for "Hoping for No Raises," here is a tip. When we qualified for free/reduced lunch no one asked us about our qualifications throughout the year. Unless the bureaucracy has changed, once you are in you are in for the year. And in my opinion if you go from just-below to just-above the line during the year you ought to be retained on the program. If you win the lottery or that $100,000/year dream job comes through, please remove yourself from the FRL program!
Sarah said…
Thank you all for your support, suggestions and kind words. I do feel much better, in fact I'm feeling a bit optimistic, maybe this is isn't so awful. Thankfully my son is already reading and his math skills are through the roof, so I really need to stop letting the gloomy resistance I got from the K teachers roll of my back. And you're right, he probably will get more from our enriched afternoons together (with his 3 year old brother) than he'd ever get at school with 28 other kids. And thank you JMHO, for reminding me to paint an extra positive picture in regard to why he "gets to come home" while his friends HAVE to stay'. ;)

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