Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Open Thread

Rainier Community Center is part of an event tomorrow, National Park Family Day 2012.

"It has been said that the National Park System, which includes many of our nation’s most precious, revered and significant treasures, reflects who we are as a people and as a nation– that America’s spirit is reflected in the National Park System. 

National Park Family Day is a FREE, family-friendly event that brings your northwest national parks to you!

This year’s event will be even bigger and better than before with a multitude of hands-on, kid-friendly activities. Park Rangers from Olympic, North Cascades, and Mt. Rainier National Parks will be on-hand for demos and to answer all your park questions. Local organizations will be on-site teaching families about the wonders, culture and history of our national and local parks, conservation, and wildlife.  Kids will also have the opportunity to become Family Day Jr. Rangers and win prizes!

EVENT SCHEDULE- Saturday, May 19th:
10:00AM- National Park Family Day Begins- Come Join the fun!
11:00AM- Wildlife encounter presented by the Woodland Park Zoo
Additional demos: Camping 101 demonstration, “Family Day in the Garden” with Seattle Tilth and more!"

Saturday Board Director Community Meetings

DeBell 9 am- 11am - Cafe Asppassionato

Martin-Morris 9:30 am- 11:30 am - Diva's Espresso

Peaslee - 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm - Northgate Library

What's on your mind?


Sahila said...

a communication from the district that somehow got lost in the mail- virtual or otherwise...

Dear Seattle Public School District families (students and parents) and school staff...

We're really sorry we suck at doing anything right in this district...

That's because we think we know it all, we don't want your input because we answer to other, deeper pockets and we really never, ever stop to think of the impact of what we decide on your children - what would be the sense in that?

Oh, and here's a watered down version of our latest F**k-Up and you better be grateful we did any tweaking at all...

Sincerely (not)

Susan Enfield, Peter DeBell, Harium Martin Morris, Sherry Carr and 'not-sure-who-I-answer-to-today' Kay Smith Blum....

Anonymous said...

Which Cafe Apassionato will DeBell be at? Queen Anne or Wallingford?


Kathy said...

A couple of candidates running within the 36th Legislative District will NOT seek endorsement from Stand for Children.

I find this a bit encouraging, but we need more of the same. Keep informing, folks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, the one by Fisherman's Terminal.

Anonymous said...

Shout out to Ballard High School:

CONGRATULATIONS TO BYE-BYE BIRDIE CAST AND CREW: The cast and crew were honored with 75th Avenue Musical Theatre Awards. They received nominations and 4 honorable mentions for their outstanding work on stage. These kids made BHS history by being the first Best Musical nominated show. Congratulations to the over 70 kids took part in putting this event together. We will be performing June 4 at the 5th Ave. Theater at 7 p.m. The event will be broadcast on Comcast later that week.

--Proud BHS Mom

Anonymous said...

Waitlist kids at Nathan Hale are starting to be notified that they got in. I know #6 on the list got in but haven't heard about #13 yet. The waitlist numbers on the enrollment website show as unchanged though with 49 waiting for Nathan Hale and 75 waiting for Roosevelt.

Has anyone else heard anything yet?


Anonymous said...

What's going on at Lawton this year? How is the Spectrum change working out? Where does the new Principal stand on Spectrum? Is differentiation working out?


Spectrum Parent

Anonymous said...

The advertising in schools proposal is still on my mind. The policy change will allow advertising just about anywhere, not just on athletic fields, score boards, etc (as the article suggests).

Please write the Board to only approve this change if previous restrictions on walls, floors, etc are maintained. If the intent is to allow advertising only on athletic fields, then the policy should very clearly state the locations which advertising is and isn't allowed.


Anonymous said...

Posted this at end of transportation thread:

"What does it mean that the task force will present ideas for consideration of implementation in 2012-13? Are they saying they may make changes mid-next year? After the past 2 weeks are they crazy?"

And also, when do we learn the names of the schools changing times in the updated plan? And in the bigger picture, is transportation the tail or the dog?


Anonymous said...

@ Kathy - Does this mean those 36th Legislative District candidates won't be dealing with 'Democrats' for Education Reform, (hedge fund NYC charter-pushers) either? Hope so.

Also, Stand just announced it supports McKenna for guv. Big surprise. They say legislative endorsements are coming in a week or so. Good it's early. I'll know who NOT to vote for this August.


Sahila said...

oops - MICHAEL DeBell.... guess I was conflating him with the recently departed Peter Maier.... oh well, same diff!

Floor Pie said...

B.F. Day has a new principal. What can you folks tell me about Katie Pearl? Here's the e-mail we got:

Dear B.F. Day community,

I am excited today to announce the appointment of Katie Pearl as your new principal, effective July 1, 2012.

Ms. Pearl comes to B.F. Day Elementary from Mercer Middle School, where she was assistant principal. Ms. Pearl is committed to the vision of B.F. Day as a family school and to rigor and excellence for every student. She will be a great fit for the B.F. Day community.

Katie Pearl previously served as house administrator at Mercer Middle School, and she was a Special Education teacher at Mercer Middle School and at Briggs Elementary in Bronx, New York. She also was a classroom teacher at Hamlin Robinson School in Seattle.

She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Mercy College, with an emphasis on elementary education and K-12 special education, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Occidental College. She has Washington State Administrative Certification and has completed the Danforth Educational Leadership Program through the University of Washington.

Ms. Pearl was selected after a hiring process that included input from staff and families. The selection team committee was particularly impressed with her strong experience in instructional leadership. Please join me in welcoming Katie Pearl to B.F. Day Elementary!

Susan, etc.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, charlie

How can we get started w an ed director recall?

Tax payer

Anonymous said...

Think of the money we'd save by eliminating the executive director positions. Why, it might be enough to make up an "unexpected" transportation budgetary shortfall, for example.

Perhaps we could dump MAP while we are at it, too, and fund school counselors and social studies books again. Just think of the possibilities, if we started funding the basics first.

- Thinking in the Box, for a Change

Anonymous said...

Apparently the District claims “There has not been a capacity need to open an elementary school in Magnolia in recent years."

An article in the Magnolia Voice discusses the old Magnolia Elementary school building that has gone to seed:


a reader

Jan said...

Tax payer -- I think you can only technically "recall" people if you voted them into office. The Ed Directors are appointed/hired by the Superintendent, and I think only she (or a micromanaging board) could get rid of them.

BOARD members are technically subject to recall, but the bar of misconduct is quite high, and the last attempt failed pretty much right out of the gate.

All you recall experts out there, does that sound right?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, there is no way to "recall" them. Of course, we are getting a new Superintendent. There's a start.

Patrick said...

What sort of middle management structure do you envision? It seems like all the principals reporting directly to the superintendent would be way too many direct reports for him to keep track of.

Anonymous said...

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Two Local Mothers Whose Babies Nearly Died of Whooping Cough Share Their Stories

Get those booster shots!

Jan said...

Patrick -- if I recall correctly, the EDs were an MGJ creation (or did she just "realign" them geographically?) Who did people report to before that structure was put in place?

I am not sure that EDs are inherently useless; I just think they are useless when they (or at least many of them -- Phil may be an exception) don't know enough substantively to manage principals, and don't have enough management skills to manage anyone.

The lack of management skills should be an obvious non-starter. But also, these jobs have been set up to be complicated. You are supposed to be managing principals' management skills, their "instructional leadership/teacher evaluation" skills, AND (evidently) all of the disparate tasks around the areas that have come up just recently -- ethics/whistleblower reporting, improper-touching reporting, oversight of a principal's efforts to investigate a complaint of inappropriate conduct, etc. Throw in some pushy parents, a few principals inclined not to report things that they have concluded are racially motivated, And all of it ultimately affects (sometimes profoundly) the well-being of kids. Oh, and by the way, keep those schools working on those test scores and graduation rates.
Done well, these could be some of the most complicated, most challenging, and most rewarding jobs in the District. But MGJ's slate seemed (to me at least) weak initially, and the people in those positions have, in some instances, dropped the ball.

I concede that perhaps some great work is being done by the EDs as well. This is a classic instance where the bad stuff would get all the press, and the great stuff would go unheralded. However, how would we know? We have no way of knowing how these people are evaluated. There is no open feedback from principals in schools about whether their management has been helpful, irrelevant, or hugely problemmatic.

Yet another task for Mr. Banda!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jan, well stated.

I Escaped the SSD said...

In most other districts there's only one elementary director (two if its a big district) and one secondary director. Seattle used to only have 4 directors (two elementary, one middle, and one high).

The other big difference is that for most other districts it's an Asst. Superintendant position, reqiring commensurate certification.

Seattle has 50-100% more directors than they need and they are not requiring them to be certified at the correct level...

Jan said...

I Escaped -- very interesting. I do vaguely recall the old structure. I think MGJ's idea was that somehow this would strengthen "accountability" -- by making it possible for ED's to make sure that each school knew what the next one "up" was looking for in terms of knowledge and learning readiness. If anything even remotely like that has ever happened, it is invisible to me! But we DID lose any ability to find and mentor age-specific expertise, share (through the ED) strategies among schools working with similar ages and (now aligned!) course materials.

And your point on certification had not occurred to me -- but is a good one. Maybe we need fewer, but we need to know they have actually been TRAINED to supervise.

In an earlier blog post, Melissa discussed Bree's cv, and the posted job requirements -- frankly, based on your point on certification, it seems to me that our requirements were too weak -- and the person we hired was way under those!:

Education:Master’s degree in education or closely related field
Five (5) or more years of successful experience as a Principal, Supervisor or District Administrator
Preferred Qualifications:
Demonstrated experience across grade spans (Pre-K - 12)

[Melissa's analysis]:

She has one year of experience as a principal of a small charter middle school that had only 50 students and 5 teachers. She claims to have been Founding Principal of New Orleans Charter Middle School but checking, it looks like the school was founded in 1998. It was a good school until Hurricane Katrina wiped it out. She re-opened it in 2007 and left at the end of the school year.

She has had three years experience teaching high school math, one year as a middle school principal, and has no experience teaching in or administering elementary schools.

To be fair to the others, I think Bree might have had the weakest paper qualifications -- hers are the ones I recall being most surprised about. But Ms. Lora's inability to deal with the Lafayette issue, Nancy Coogan's inability to deal with the Lowell issue -- it does make me wonder if we structured these positions correctly, filled them with the right people, and then gave them the right support.

Jan said...

Oops. I should have noted where Melissa's analysis ended and my comments started:

From Melissa: She has had three years experience teaching high school math, one year as a middle school principal, and has no experience teaching in or administering elementary schools.

[End of Melissa's text]

To be fair to the others, I think Bree might have had the weakest paper qualifications -- hers are the ones I recall being most surprised about. But Ms. Lora's inability to deal with the Lafayette issue, Nancy Coogan's inability to deal with the Lowell issue -- it does make me wonder if we structured these positions correctly, filled them with the right people, and then gave them the right support.

Anonymous said...

The restructuring to geographic areas was because of the NSAP and capacity issues. The prior ed directors, has schools all over the city so none of the directors really know any zone in depth.

But then again, Gloria Mitchell was our ed director and she really didn't know much so I can't say if the other ones were better fits or a better model.

- north seattle mom

I Escaped the SSD said...

With Seattle being as big as it is, I could see moving from four level directors to four area directors. You cut the pie differently and you get to see vertical instead of horizontal alignment.

However, then going ahead and adding two more six-figure salaries to both build in a fifth "quadrant" and double up the ed directors in one quadrant just seems like allocating more resources than they need at a level that does not really impact kids.

You want to impact kids in a positive way, cut two of those positions and use the savings to fund resources that actually reach students--like truancy specialists at the 4-6 schools that have the biggest attendance problems. We used to have those, you know...but they were so effective they worked themselves out of a job!

Anonymous said...

I have a question about requesting meetings with the school principal. Requests for individual meetings have always been honored, but requests to meet with another parent present are not (this has been our experience with more than one principal). Is there some reason why a principal would not honor such a request? Does something procedural kick in when a small group (2-3 parents) meets with the principal vs an individual parent?