Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Open Thread

Don't forget the district's Building Bridges for Summer Learning event on Saturday from 9:30am to 2:30 pm at Chief Sealth High School.

Also, Directors Carr and Smith-Blum have community meetings on Saturday so you might want to bend their ear on issues of importance to you like, say, transportation. UPDATE: Director Smith-Blum has canceled her community meeting.

Did you get a blue plastic bag in your mailbox? The US Post Office is doing one of their regular Saturday food drives.  Don't forget to fill that bag and put it for your friendly mail-person.

The Orca K-8 annual plant sale is this Saturday! We'll have lots of veggie starts, raspberries, native plants, environmental education opportunities, a mobile art makery, baked goods, and a Full Tilt ice cream truck - something for everyone! 46th Ave. S. and S. Dawson in Columbia City, 10-3.

Over at Hale, the mighty C89.5 FM radio station is having their pledge drive to support the station.  SPS is one of the few districts in the country to operate a radio station and have for at least 20+ years.  Consider a small donation to keep this great (and fun) station going.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

The famous Bike Works Bike Swap is tomorrow from 10-4 at Rainier Community Center. They promise no lines due to the longer hours but it's worth it even with long lines. We've gotten some great deals in the past. You bring your old bike and they'll assess it and give it a value, then you trade up as needed. For any difference in cost, you pay cash, and the money goes to programs that teach kids to fix and build bikes. They can earn a free bike for volunteer hours, too.

Great cause, good bikes, guys.

South Side Biker

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else noticed a change in their child's MAP score from spring of 2011?

I know they recalibrated the scores for this fall, but my child's reading score dropped from 99% to 97%.

I have not heard back from the district. I'm wondering if anyone else sees a change.

Loving MAP less and less and less...

Anonymous said...

The spring 2011 score dropped, I should add.


Anonymous said...

The Architecture 101 Summer Workshops for students in grades 3 through high school is up.


Anonymous said...

Also, for your weekend viewing, I have uploaded The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.



ColOR said...

Any suggestions for academic skill building summer classes/camps for an incoming 8th grader? Found the "Brain Camp" and considering that, but would like to hear if that's a good one or if there are other options. Thanks!

Melissa Westbrook said...

ColOR - UW has great summer sessions for middle school/high school (or they used to). Also, Morningside Academy is a great school for that kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

KUOW ran a news story on the transportation debacle on its morning news and just had time on its call-in show devoted to it.

The thing that makes me most furious? Given the opportunity in both pieces for someone from the district to apologize for their abysmal customer service (no notification, no strong outreach to gather comments now, no promise to now take input under consideration) the district in both instances does....

Nothing. Zip. Nada. Zilch. They are hunkered down and an acknowledgement that they f'd up, let alone an apology for it, isn't going to happen.

Reporters just now pointed out there isn't even a prominent place on the school district website for people to find information. It is buried.

I am staring at the sun trying to temper my hatred for this district. That's right: hatred.

Not for the teachers or principals or custodians or lunch ladies. For the technocrats downtown who are bottom of barrel in their skills and beyond incompentent in their customer service ethic. For senior board members who excuse it away time after time after time after time. (I'm looking at YOU DeBell. And YOU Martin-Morris.)

A crappier example of governance and administration of a public entity cannot be found. And that INCLUDES the Seattle police department under fed investigation. At least the chief and staff are out in front of the public with a plan now. SPS? Nothing.


Anonymous said...

After above rant, I went back to the last transportation thread. I am copying the last 2 comments, which most readers won't have seen, here. 'Meg' more eloquently than I shows the incompetence of Staff Analysis. 'DW' eloquently shows the end result of this incompentence and hubris.

Meg said...
It's possible that other districts simply offer much more restrictive bus service. However, given the sloppiness of the plan presented, I strongly suspect transportation didn't make sure that the comparison of per-student transportation costs was actually comparing the same group of cost segments.

Not having been there when the "analysis" was done, I can only guess. So this is a guess. I think SPS administrators took what they knew to be SPS total transportation costs (taxi service, basic transportation, SpEd, APP, Title I opt-outs, etc - and possibly also administrative costs) but a) only did basic transportation costs for the other districts and b) didn't note exceptions like although APP routes are expensive, the district both piggybacks other students on those routes and gets additional revenue from the state, so that those routes are actually slightly profitable.

A little late, but just a thought.

Also, in 2008, SPS spent $1.1M on taxi service - and at the time, at least, taxi service was ineligible for reimbursement under the state transportation plan.

5/11/12 8:48 AM
dw said...
Anyone still reading this thread? Perhaps I'll post in a fresher thread later, but this post by ostrich deserved a response.

ostrich said: The only consistent thing about SPS is how expensive and confusing it is for this district to do anything. And they want me to vote for the $1 Billion + Levies? Ha, ha, ha! Please, convince me some more.

This is both a problem and an opportunity.

The district only really pays attention to a couple things. Money and pride. And frankly, sometimes I wonder about the pride.

It's a problem because if enough people get sufficiently frustrated with the district to fail this levy, we're going to have some serious problems with capacity moving forward. (an aside, if it fails, I'd like to know what the opportunities are as far as repackaging for a revote in the near future)

But this also an opportunity. When a HUGE clusterf like this ridiculous set of transportation proposals comes up, it's an opportunity for the community (particularly if the media gets onboard) to attach the frustration to an action, i.e. voting No on the levy. Do I want this to happen? Not really. I'd much prefer that the district gets their head on straight and comes back to the table with a realistic proposal that doesn't infuriate huge portions of their constituents. Perhaps something along the lines of Eric B's proposal.

But it always seems like there has to be some kind of negative consequence for the district before they'll pay attention to families. If this levy is perceived to be threatened over a measly potential $1 million bus savings plan that enrages thousands of families, I think the proposal will disappear faster than MGJ after she was fired.

Let me reiterate that the $1M savings is only a guess. The previous guess at transportation savings didn't exactly work out as planned.

This is not a compartmentalized problem affecting dozens or even hundreds of families. When you start messing with start times you're affecting thousands or even tens of thousands of families. A lot of people have signed the opinion poll already, stating their displeasure, the displeasure just needs to be attached to an action to be effective.

5/11/12 9:45 AM

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm not looking in the right place, but I don't see dates or a price for your camp. It looks like something my 7th grader would enjoy. Can you confirm?


Anonymous said...

It it clear that some proportion of the staff/management responsible for transportation in SPS is inept or unqualified or sloppy or negligent. Is this Peter Principal stuff? Do the responsible parties think that whatever they do (no matter how questionable) is just fine? Let's consider some value added measures for staff and management responsible for transportation. If this is a staff issue then management is responsible. If this is a management issue then management is responsible.

-Sue in Zen Field

Anonymous said...

Has our Superintendent checked out? Where is she on this whole mess?


Anonymous said...

Like I said yesterday...I'm outta here!

-Sue in Zen Field

mirmac1 said...

Oh! I get it, Sue... : )

Lori said...

When and where is Sherry's community meeting tomorrow? The side bar says 830AM, but when I clicked the "details" button, the new page said 330PM. And neither place gives a location!


KG said...

As long as the District uses a dart board as big as the JSCEE then the budget projections will always fail.

mirmac1 said...

Hold the PHONE

School district changes its mind about transportation plan that could have meant major bell-time changes

mirmac1 said...

"The new proposal will return to the current 2011-12 transportation plan (and therefore minimal impact to current bell times) and a return to the 2010 ride times of up to 45 minutes. This new option is expected to save the district between $250,000-$500,000. While other options might have saved more money, the proposed new option is responsive to the feedback and will impact the students, schools and families the least."

Okay, but with 45-min standard, you can't have three tiers without changing bell times. They will have to add more buses (some only two tier)

HOW are they saving money? Inquiring minds want to know.

Scrawny Kayaker said...


A 2% difference is small enough that it's possibly "noise" in the measurement. No measurement can be PERFECTLY consistent when repeated. It just not possible. That's a difference of what, one correct answer on the test?

Unfortunately, if there's a hard cut-off for something (like APP or a scholarship) and you miss it by one point, it can have a real consequence even if it's not a "real" difference in the score.

My daughter's MAP math score dropped almost 30 points one fall when she had a crappy math teacher. That looked like a real difference!

Anonymous said...

I am adding to that story a thanks to this site for surfacing the issue in the first place. I eventually got something on our site, thanks to reader prodding (and having seen it here too), not long before last week's board meeting.

P.S. Thanks for the C89.5 reminder - I may be the only 50-something who listens to that station but I couldn't keep going without it! - Tracy @ WSB

Anonymous said...

@ Mirmac. Sorry to be cynical, but expecting those "small changes" to bell times to affect those populations the district thinks will make the least stink. That would be in keeping with the "usual" from downtown.

Glad they've gotten the message, but no celebrating just yet, please.


Scrawny Kayaker said...

Regarding the food drive, while it's nice to participate in something like that, it would be better to give a donation for the same dollar amount directly to a food bank. They can buy bulk food that's on sale at a deep discount and get WAY more food for the same money.

On the May 2 Give Big drive I gave to Northwest Harvest and U-district food bank. I hope they're reasonably well-managed. Didn't really take time to investigate it...

mirmac1 said...

Tracy at WSB,

In my zeal to post your late-breaking news I failed to credit the great reporting at WSB.

Anonymous said...

Good news about the decision to minimize changes in transportation for next year - but how's it going to work with current bell times? Our chid's bus is routinely late for afternoon pick-up (3rd tier), and that's not included in ride time.

I guess the answer is in the news release. Perhaps "minimal impact to current bell times" means some times may still change 10-15 min.

3rd tier parent

mirmac1 said...

Do you think these kind of flip-flops make Highline feel good? Hey, they picked style over substance.

Anonymous said...

This will be lost in the ongoing transportation morass, but perhaps another thread could be done on a separate Parent Revolt going on right now.

So many Snohomish parents kept their kids out of MSP testing (too much money and time spent on tests w/ questionable benefit) that state legislators are now talking to them and waking up to the fact that Ed Reform's focus on testing hurts more often than it helps. Other districts, according to the article, may join the boycott next year.

I admit to timidity in keeping my kids out as a lone voice. But if there was a grassroots push on this next year, with an organized group, petition, specific talking points, etc. as to why the Alliance-4-Education-shoved-down-my-throat emphasis on the MAP and MSP is necessary to browbeat teachers and add-little-to-student assessment is COMPLETELY ridiculous and in fact is wasting weeks of my child's actual learning process...then, hell yes, I'd keep my kid out next year.

New Anti-Test Believer

Anonymous said...

Re: District transportation announcement.

What was just published was a 7 paragraph blahblah plea for the public to get off its back (and no apology, to 'District-watcher's' point above).

Don't be placated just yet. The announcement came with nary a detail. Wait for the real thing. What we just got was an attempt to have the public go away. I hope we're not going away!


Oh, also, just who is on this Wonderful thrown Together Transporation Committee? The release says "experts". The release does not say "parents" or "taxpayers". They are moving so fast to cover their a*@#&&@ that they are still missing the basic point: Involve The Community.

mirmac1 said...

If you attended one of the BEX IV community meetings or posted comments online, and you don't see them here, please let the school board now. It appears some opinions about the south lake union pork, I mean, school is not getting through.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked at how just two MSP tests meant a full week of doing very little. In middle school, the entire class schedule gets compressed whether your child is testing that day or not. The first few hours are dedicated to testing and if it's not your child's test day, your child sits and reads for a few hours. Because the classes are shortened there isn't much time for lessons. What did many of my child's teachers do? Show movies.

In elementary, the entire day went unplanned. If a child finished the test before lunch, the rest of the afternoon was spent reading or doing other quiet activities. The day between the two tests is also an unscheduled day. They're told to bring books.

It really is maddening. I'm not against testing, per se, because there is value in having some uniform, objective measure of learning. It just seems that the testing takes much more time than it should. What is wrong with timed ITBS tests? It was just a blip in our school year when we took those tests, not weeks.


Anonymous said...

Riding in the Clown Car says -

Anyone see any leadership this week, e.g. actual statement to the community, from our board president Michael DeBell or our head-of-staff Susan Enfield? Isn't she still drawing a $200K+ salary? Isn't Michael still running the board?

The new press release doesn't have their names either. In fact there is not a single board or staff member's name in it. So telling, isn't it?

The clown car ride continues, I reckon. And no Board or Staff member is driving or even willing to offer to do so. Hey SPS: Nameless faceless statements and edicts by committee went out with the USSR Politburo. (Which failed.)

Anonymous said...

Kayaker - the score didn't drop from one test to the next - the actual spring test score was 99% last spring, but that score has changed. So spring 2011 score = 99% in May of 2011. Spring 2011 score = 97% now.

Weird. As if I needed another reason to think the MAP test was a waste of time and resources.

mirmac1 said...

Varner tweets Mr. Banda's flying in for Wed's board meeting.

Anonymous said...

Here's my understanding of the MAP issue:

The MAP score changes had to do with the NWEA 3 year cycle of norming the test. New norms came out that would change the percentile rankings for Fall 2012 tests onward. The reported percentiles were changed for past tests to make them comparable to future tests. Even though your child's score was 99 percentile under the previous norms, it is being reported as 97 percentile in order to compare it to this years scores. Otherwise, it would look like your child's performance dropped, when in reality it could be just the ranking that changed.

MAP skeptic

Anonymous said...

To be more clear, "score" should be used to refer to the RIT value, and "percentile" to the corresponding normed percentile ranking. The same RIT score can corresponds to a different percentile under the updated norms.

MAP skeptic

Anonymous said...

Last night the K5STEM @ Boren Design Team voted to pursue a waiver to use Singapore Math next year.

-I was there

Anonymous said...

@Mirmac: Clearly Banda needs to understand in person what the current staff and board has done (not) to steward this district in the past week.

Whoever was on the list to testify at the meeting, don't let this 'soothe the beasts' transportation announcement today dissuade you from still doing so. The full story of the depth of the district's hideous operations and parent relationships needs to demonstrated.

And personally, I don't want to see the board, esp. Pres DeBell, to get any sort of a 'pass' in hiding the public's anger right now. They kept the public out of the superintendent interview process. They set this transportation disaster into motion and did not insist on a reasonable timeline for parent input. Let Banda see how unhappy we are. He needs to understand.


Anonymous said...

District Watcher, wouldn't be surprise if Mr. Banda already gets the level of frustration here. He probably has this blog bookmarked. Heck, just getting through the whole leaky Super search, vetting, interview process would have clued a prokaryote about this district's smoldering crises.


Anonymous said...

My bad, I probably insulted a very useful prokaryote out there.


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

Anonymous at 2:05 -- you have to sign with something OTHER than just anonymous (at the top -- or bottor), or the post gets deleted. You don't have to sign your real name -- just something so people can follow threads of discussion.

Anonymous wrote:

The APP elementary school in the North end conducted a survey of parent opinions and wanted to know If "closed classrooms" were favorable. Many thought this meant their kids would stay with ttheir teacher all day with enrichment classes. It was later explained this meant that APP kids would not mix with other programs in the same room.
The survey with its deceptive results is now the basis for having kids in Fifth grade move to different rooms like middle school.
Developmentally some kids are not ready for this and the end of the "elementary school experience" seems a little forced and premature.
The school used a decptive survey to justify an outcome they already had in mind.
The power structure of the reformers has decided they do not have to have discussions only falsified documentation.
This is a very dangerous road.

Anonymous said...

What survey was that? Having kids move from class to class for some subjects isn't all that bad IMHO.

-out of the loop

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Parents were given a deliberately false explanation of the question so that they would answer "no"--am I getting that right?

Charlie Mas said...

There is a lot of talk about "walk to math" these days. There are, however, two versions of "walk to math".

District-approved version of Walk to Math.
Seattle Public Schools' central administration is convinced that the poor student achievement outcomes in mathematics is due, to a great extent, to poor quality instruction. They have, however, identified some teachers in each school who must be providing high quality math instruction. The evidence of this high quality instruction can be found in their students' test scores. So, to solve the problem of widespread poor quality math instruction the District is allowing schools to implement "Walk to Math". With this innovation, each elementary classroom - the whole classroom with a wide range of skill levels - walks to the designated math classroom each day to get their math instruction from a teacher who has a demonstrated ability to deliver high quality math instruction. This is what the District means by Walk to Math.

District-rejected version of Walk to Math
Some schools have decided to differentiate math instruction by dividing students into groups based on skill-level. All classrooms have math instruction scheduled for the same time each day. At that time students from each classroom are divided by skill-level among the teachers for math instruction. When the math instruction period is over, the classes re-form in their home classrooms. This is NOT what the District means by Walk to Math.

Jim Cap said...

Not directly related, but THIS is absolutely shocking: http://www.wa-democrats.org/content/cory-booker-speak-state-convention-gala-banquet

Why would the Washington State Democrats invite Cory Booker? If you’re going to invite Booker, why not also include Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal—both of whom Booker spoke with, just last week, at an ALEC sponsored event in New Jersey? At least they don’t use the label “Democrat” in describing themselves.

It’s one thing for ersatz groups like ” ‘Democrats’ for Educational Reform” to hoodwink and bamboozle your average citizen, or even your average, educated voter. But for their con job to succeed with the people who run our state’s Democratic Party is astonishing.

Was someone asleep at the wheel? Or, even worse, was Booker invited to speak BECAUSE of his stance on “Education Reform”? Did our state dems actually WANT to seduce party members into thinking Booker’s pro-corporate, anti-union, anti-public schools stance is a “good” thing?

Whatever the explanation, it’s an awful thing to think he’s coming. If Booker does speak, all of us who are opposed to the selling off of our schools needs to show up and make our voices heard in dissent.

People can also contact the Washington State Democrats directly at http://www.wa-democrats.org/ or on their Twitter or Facebook accounts. Or by calling them at 206-583-0664.

Josh Hayes said...

So Charlie, what you're saying is that the District has identified the important part of "walk to math" as the walking part. Makes sense to me!

Jan said...

Great observation, Josh. Dan may be out of town (I haven't seen any posts today,) but I have to believe he would approve of your viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

Jim Cap -- look at the positions of Democrats (and the unions who often provide much of their support) in the last legislative session. Moderate, anti-ed-reform democrats had darned well better start speaking up about this. Your guess (that Booker is speaking BECAUSE of his positions on ed reform, charter schools, etc.) is probably the right one -- and I suspect the WEA and SEA are totally ok with it, if not outright supporting it.

--Alarm clock

Disgusted said...


Don't forget that stdents will be expected to take MSP and EOCs after MSP. Ridiclous.

Anonymous said...

Walk to Math, the kind by ability, sounds like a good way to meet student needs. At the elementary level, it could be a little time consuming but should be manageable. Why not the same for reading/writing? It seems that there's still the problem of kids feeling inferior, by being at grade level rather than in the advanced class, but don't they feel even worse in class with bored high ability kids who do very little to accomplish what is hard for the average student?
I don't want to reignite the Spectrum self-contained firestorm, but the district needs to do a better job of serving the various abilities that exist in the real world. APP takes the pressure off to some extent, but at a cost to those kids and their families who really only need more challenging material, not the segregation that some brainiacs truly need. Spectrum was supposed to fill that need but it just doesn't work having segregated classroomsr within an elementary school, usually.
We try so hard to accept those with behavioral, mental , and physical deficiencies, why not show our kids that being born with a brain that works faster at what our society values, I.e. math and language, is likewise a abnormality that deserves special consideration? Isn't it true that all the horrors of our times, from H-bombs to plastics to the global distribution system of food that lets millions continue to starve; didn't "geniuses" do all that?
Don't smart men run these corporations that poison our planet?
" Smart" people are in fact in need of much help from all of us to control themselves and should not be left to their own devices.

Migratory bird on my way North

SPSLeaks said...

reposted from custodian story on KIRO thread:

Local 609's rebuttal to KIRO news.

KIRO "reporting" is below journalistic standards.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Booker was chosen because he is a rising star nationally in the Democratic Party, is an energizing public speaker, and he has been out front in support of gay rights and same sex marriage, specifically, and that issue is on the WA ballot in November. WA gay rights supporters are trying to be the first state in the nation to approve same sex marriage by a popular vote and Booker will rally the troops on this issue.

I don't agree with Cory's stance on charters but recognize that Newark has a very different set of problems than Seattle education-wise. But I don't think he was chosen on the basis of education policy.

It's Not Always an Education Conspiracy

mirmac1 said...

Seattle Schools schedules second public hearing on BEX for May 22; Comment period extended

Maureen said...

I somehow had never come across this Seattle/Tacoma Teach for America site before. Not much info there (the most recent 'news' is from May 2011.) But I thought the Supporters list was interesting. Nothing about the Seattle Foundation, Alliance or LEV, but Dave Matthews is listed in the Stakeholder ($100,000 -$249,000) category.