Showing posts from June, 2012

News Roundup

From Education Week, coverage of the Int'l Society for Technology in Education convention in San Diego in late June.  Here's what Yong Zhao, the associate dean in the College of Education at the University of Oregon had to say about what our public education system is doing. "Right now, we are lost in terms of what's the purpose of education," said Zhao, addressing a crowd of nearly 5,000 in the packed San Diego Convention Center. "We are in the U.S. pushing for the idea of Race to the Top. But race to the top of what?" Zhao pointed to results from PISA, an international exam that measures students' skills and knowledge in a variety of countries as a widely recognized yardstick for determining the quality of a country's education. However, many of the countries that rank highest in PISA results—China, South Korea, and Singapore, to name a few—rank lowest on entrepreneurial skills, which correspond to stronger economies, Zhao argued. "We

Blog Business

We had a comment from a reader who had several complaints about the blog, largely around creation of threads and the belief we don't cover enough individual school items/topics. Our reader acknowledges that we create threads based on demand but apparently that isn't enough (even though readers then take control of the thread and the direction of the discussion).    We also have Open Threads twice a week but that isn't enough either.  Charlie and I regularly get guest posts sent to us and about 90% of the time print them verbatim.  We have had this policy for years.  So if you have a topic you want to write about, please send it to us.  This is a down time for the district; summer is a time it goes very dead.  Much of what we could discuss about various topics in the district is, at this point, speculation.  Superintendent Banda has to come in, get the lay of the land, hire the new people for senior positions that are either interim or open (like Special Ed) and then

Updates on Middle College/K-5 STEM Siting

From Director Marty McClaren: Bob Boesche, Interim Deputy Superintendent, met with South Seattle Community College President, Gary Oertli on Thursday, 6/28 to discuss possibilities for continuing to house Middle College HS at SSCC. Mr. Boesche reports that President Oertli was very cordial and expressed great regret at having to ask MCHS to vacate its classrooms at SSCC.  He made it clear that the college has had an excellent relationship with the Middle College students and staff, as well as with Seattle Public Schools, and that the college simply has no more space, due to increasing SSCC enrollment. He also confirmed the decision was not based on any financial obligation (facilities have been provided at no cost). In addition, he confirmed that there is not space in the parking lots for portables.   Mr. Boesche and SPS staff are continuing to explore other sites in the Delridge/West Seattle area, ideally in proximity to South Seattle Community College.  Updates

Walking You Thru 1240 - Part 1

I am preparing an annotated analysis of 1240 so that anyone and everyone can see exactly what it says (and does not say which is the case in many places). First, do NOT bother to write a comment " Melissa, there is no perfect bill or initiative" because I'm sorry - this is an aggressive and vague charter school initiative and there is every reason to be suspicious of it.   (Again, like many things that Charlie and I disagree with, if this initiative had been well-written and yes, "modest and reasonable" then I would have far less ground to stand on. ) So let's start with the opening section, 101 , which is basically a preamble.  You'd think I wouldn't find much here but they get out the gate with a lot of what is overblown and not data-provable rhetoric.

Trying to Figure Out the Message in I-1240

So there seems to be a couple of themes emerging from the pro-charter side.  First, it seemed it was about choice. " Why do you oppose choice for poor children?"   This is what one of the $100k donors said to me. So first of all, that's a fairly unfair and disrespectful thing to say.  There is no one that would oppose choice for poor children.   What is hard to understand is this belief that you can equalize everything in education for all children.   (Teach for America and charter school supporters believe this and it's a great slogan but it's not reality-based.) For example, we can't give every single child the option of a private school education (Bill Gates not withstanding as he recently lauded his childhood school, Lakeside, and said he wanted a Lakeside experience for all kids.  Don't we all, Bill, don't we all?)  Better education?  Absolutely.  But what is interesting is this idea that charters are so innovative and that we will see

Friday Open Thread

Board agenda .  One key item is the introduction of Policy 0030, Educational Equity (Race and Equity).  The C&I Committee had a back-and-forth on the language of this sometimes delicate policy.  I think it may need further tweaking as the four Directors at the committee meeting all had issues with the language and I suspect the other three will want to weigh in as well.  There is also the intro for the UW Experimental Education Unit which is not a well-known partnership between UW and the district.  Unfortunately, true to form, this item is not available even though it is just days until the Board meeting.  At some point, the public has the right to see this kind of information in a timely manner. Also interesting is the resolution for a grant by the Legislature, through OSPI, for $9.4M to do work to reopen John Marshall, Boren and Van Asselt.  Here's the link to the work.  This is good because it frees up BEX and BTA money for other issues. Also Policy 2200 is back (Pr


Reminder: sign-ups for the School Board meeting next Tuesday (not Wednesday because of the 4th of July holiday) are tomorrow , Friday the 29th starting at 8 am.  The agenda is not yet available. Call 252-0040 or This will be the first "official" Board meeting for Superintendent Banda.  I note that there has been discussion here over the K-5 STEM program, late-breaking principal placements and our favorite, the math curriculum.  This is a good opportunity to get his attention. There is also a Executive Committee of the Whole today from 5:10-6:30 p.m.  It could be quite interesting.   Speaking of Banda, the event in his honor at El Centro de la Raza (with the Alliance) was very nice.  I realize now that the Alliance needed a head count as they generously served food and drink.  It was a big crowd when full (I'd say at least 200+ people).  The Mayor attended as did Michael DeBell, Sherry Carr,  Kay Smith-Blum and I think Director Mar

Gates Pushes Charter Giving to $1 Million

The Stranger Slog is reporting that Bill Gates' spending for I-1240 -which is not even on the ballot yet - is over $1M.     Fine, he wants a fight, he'll get one. People of Seattle please understand. This is NOT about right and wrong - it's about telling the truth. Gates, Allen, League of Education Voters, Stand for Children, all these people supporting charters will NOT tell you the truth about what this initiative will or will not mean to Washington State. They will give you hearts and flowers, challenge you on why you (yes, you) don't want to allow poor and disadvantaged children choices and tell you charters are better. Overall, they are not.   I will tell the ENTIRE truth about charters and this initiative (because folks, what we end up with is what is in THIS initiative). We won't win on money but we will win (or have a fighting chance) if people promise to do their duty as voters and listen and ponder what they are told. And, lo

News Roundup

From Ed Week, a story about the US Supreme Court declining to hear a case about using race in K-12 enrollment to encourage racial diversity.   Shades of our own case.   NY Times Sunday Review op-ed on Brown v Board of Education and what it has and hasn't meant for school desegregation.  Ed Week also has this article about charters and segregation. “Charters could be more integrated than traditional public schools. The great tragedy is that they’re more segregated,” said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a Washington think tank. “The charter school community is recognizing that to the extent that it’s seen as segregated, that’s a negative thing.” There are some charters working in this direction: The brief from the Washington-based National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, or NAPCS, highlights six high-performing charter schools, three of which specifically formed to create a more diverse alternative to existing neighborhood schools. The

Want to Talk Education with Obama?

From the National PTSA: National PTA®, in partnership with the White House and U.S. Department of Education, announced at its 116th Annual Convention and Exhibition an unprecedented opportunity to recognize extraordinary PTA volunteers. Twelve PTA members working to improve the lives of children through involvement in PTA and education will be honored as White House Champions of Change at a special event and policy briefing with PTA leaders from across the country at the White House in August. Individuals can nominate exemplary PTA members who have dedicated time, talent and a powerful voice to improving educational equity and opportunity for every child.  To nominate someone, visit the White House Champions of Change website by July 10.  “As parents, both President Obama and I have so much respect for the work parents do as PTA leaders. In Washington, we aim to be a supportive partner with states, school districts and schools but we know that the real success

San Diego District Buys $15M in iPads

From The Daily Tech: The Unified School District in San Diego, California is receiving nearly 26,000 iPads as soon as this fall. The school district's commitment has been labeled the largest iPad deployment in K-12 schools in the United States. The students will likely be using iBooks , which is an application that provides students with textbooks on the iPad as well as new study options like note-taking. Students can also use this app as well as others for writing and math without having to carry several heavy books to class. Overall, iBooks offers a more interactive learning experience that the district hopes will engage students. They will be using them in 5th and 8th grades and some high school classes, about 340 classrooms.   How did they afford this? The answer is Proposition S funding, which was passed in 2008 and offered money for classroom technology. Each iPad was purchased at $370 a piece (sic). FYI, that per iPad cost is only $30 less than retail

Tuesday Open Thread

BTA II and III work is starting up for the summer.  BTA is the major maintenance work done on schools (painting, roofing, HVAC, etc).  Among the schools where work is being done: Work is being done at: * Adams, Bagley, B.F. Day, Bryant, Coe, Gatewood, Gatzert, Green Lake, Hawthorn, Hay, Leschi, McDonald, Montlake, Olympic Hills, Olympic View, Thurgood Marshall and View Ridge elementary schools; * Jane Addams, Broadview-Thomson, Salmon Bay and Orca K-8 schools; * Franklin, Rainier Beach, Roosevelt and West Seattle high schools, and at the * Boren, Fairmount Park, John Marshall and Wilson Pacific buildings. More detail on work done at each school is available at . What's on your mind?

Phil Brockman Promoted

I believe we will see ever-changing org charts for several months as Banda gets the lay of the land and new hires/shifts are made.  That makes two Ex Directors changed (Aurora Lora, leaving SPS, and Phil Brockman, moving up). From SPS (via a reader, thanks!)  (Does anyone know what the High School Graduation Grant Initiative is?  Sounds good.) As we continue to plan for the 2012-13 school year and beyond, we recognize the need for increased collaboration between all departments. Providing all students with an education that will prepare them for college, career and life is our mission, and along with that comes many operational duties.   Additionally, coordination between departments is essential as the District begins to discuss system-wide changes that impact schools and families, such as school boundaries, bell times, instructional programming, athletics and transportation.  To ensure this, today I am pleased to appoint Phil Brockman to a new position: Executive

Pro and Con on I-1240 at The Stranger Slog

Update: LEV has a daily news round-up and yet are silent on these two pieces (despite the fact that they are helping to sponsor this initiative).  Now I get them not wanting to link to anything written here but not The Stranger?  Odd.  Our friends over at The Stranger Slog were kind enough to ask me to write a No on 1240 piece and had another parent write a Yes on 1240 piece.  The focus of each piece and the comments (and numbers of) are interesting. One thing I find interesting is The Stranger is becoming a bigger player as a voice of editorial power in this town.  I know some of you may disagree - I am not saying they are the Times - but in Seattle, I think many voters who do not want to listen to the Times have turned away to The Stranger. The Stranger, for all its smarty-pants, foul-mouth talk, does do its homework.  And, they do call themselves out when they get it wrong.  You don't find that kind of humility that often. As I ponder the ballot, I come to the followi

King to Detroit by Monday?

From the Times : Although he hasn’t told his boss or his school, it appears that Lowell Elementary Principal Gregory King is moving to Detroit to work for former Seattle Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. A spokeswoman for Michigan’s Education Achievement System, where Goodloe-Johnson is the top academic officer, confirmed Monday that King is under contract to start there as a principal next week. SPS says they have no official letter of resignation. Talk about burning bridges; it seems Mr. King really doesn't care what SPS thinks. (And yes, this is news. Lowell will be getting a new principal.)

Times' Reporter Reports on Petition Interaction

I missed these on Saturday but the Times' Brian Rosenthal was out and about on Saturday and here's what he heard from signature gatherers (reported via his tweets): Charter school signature-gatherer's message isn't exactly accurate: "Hey, can you sign a petition to get more funding in education?" ‪ Charter school signature-gatherer says he's from California, 1 of ~400 ppl here. But he doesn't think they'll meet the deadline. ‪ Ran into 1st charter school petition signature-gatherer (at gay pride). He says he's getting paid $4/signature That's $14 an hour and $4 a signature.  No wonder their Craigslist ad says you could make $1,000 a month.   And yet they had to import them from California?  Interesting.   Update:  I had thought the Yes on 1240 would have thru July 6th to get signatures but it seems it is July 5th with all petitions due to the Secretary of State's office by July 6th. Opinions please; will the

The Looming Disaster of a Charter Conversion

The charter school initiative, if approved, would create a time bomb that would seriously threaten Seattle Public Schools. The threat doesn't come from the possibility of a charter school organization creating a school in Seattle - at least not if they get their own building. The threat comes from the possibility of a conversion. A conversion occurs when a majority (50% plus 1) of either the teachers or the families at a school request conversion to a charter. If that were to happen at an attendance area school, then the school would become, essentially, an option school. The attendance area boundaries all around the school would have to change to cover the converted school's attendance area so that every student had an attendance area school. There is no school in Seattle that has any excess capacity to speak of. Any addition to the attendance area of any school - particularly one of this scale - would result in the instant overcrowding of the school to something like 13

Meet Superintendent Banda This Week

I had already planned on attending this event but wasn't sure it was open to the public; it is.  To note: still nothing from the Mayor or Councilman Burgess on Superintendent Banda's appointment.  I have to wonder about that and I hope they both show up to this event. From El Centro de la Raza and the Alliance for Education: What:   El Centro de la Raza and the Alliance for Education , together with a host committee including nearly thirty community groups representing every corner of the city, are pleased to host a Community Welcome Reception for incoming Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda . The free event will feature a global selection of food, including El Quetzal, Green Leaf and Fusion on the Run.  Who:  A wide array of educators, school staff, parents, civic leaders, elected officials, and corporate partners will attend the Welcome Reception. The following community members will offer brief remarks: Estela Ortega, Executive Director,

On-line Charter School District Fight in North Carolina

This was a fascinating story on NPR.  There are on-line schools to be sure but apparently there is a (for-profit) company, K-12, Inc. that runs online charter schools in many states and wanted to get into North Carolina.   A little reviewed clause in their charter law allowed a small district to be their authorizer for 4% of the take.  So you're a little district, low on funds, and you get offered "help" (or a kickback, take your pick) from an outside source with no strings attached (except maybe, stay out of their way).  What would you do?  It's not a pretty picture. 

Legislative Youth Advisory Council Deadline Extended

From the Lt. Governor's office: Lt. Governor Brad Owen is once again encouraging all interested Washington youth to apply for positions with the Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC). The 22-member council, comprised of youth ages 14 to 18, advises the Legislature on key issues of interest to Washington youth. Members serve two-year terms and, if eligible, may be reappointed for additional terms.  “This is a very action- oriented and diverse group of bright young people,” Lt. Gov. Owen said. “Each year they tackle a broad range of issues that are important to youth, take positions on legislative bills and work closely with legislators on seeing these bills through the legislative process. I would strongly encourage any interested youth to apply.” Applications are due June 25 July 2. The lieutenant governor makes the final appointments to the panel based on the recommendations of LYAC membership. The 2012 application fo

So Why Don't They?

The people who say that we need charter schools have no trouble pointing out the obvious fact that the bulk of our public schools don't work for the students, particularly minority students, students from low-income homes, students with IEPs, and English Language Learners. The people who say that we don't need charters respond with two powerful arguments: 1) We don't need charters to develop and implement strategies that are effective with these populations. the public schools have license to do these things. We can point to a number of public schools that have reorganized around more effective strategies and have shown strong results. 2) There is no reason to believe that a charter school will do any better than the public schools with these challenging populations. The simple fact that the school is a charter does not mean that it will do anything different or better than what a public school does. I have made both of these arguments myself. Usually I make them to

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, June 25th Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee Mtg. - 4-6 p.m.  Agenda This should be a jam-packed meeting as well as one fraught with varying agendas.  They will be discussing the Program Placement policy which guides what new programs get created, where they are placed and who nominates/decides.  It seems like staff is making noises about "community input" but that's not where the action is.  Also on the agenda for policies; nutrition, "ensuring educational equity", student discipline, advanced learning.  There will also be discussion of the partnership agreement for the Families and Education Levy and the Creative Approach Schools Board oversight process.   Wednesday, June 27th Public Hearing on the Budget from 4-5 p.m. This is a legal requirement of the district for any citizen who wants to weigh in on the budget for 2012-13.  Note that you sign up right before the hearing and they only have the hearing as long as there are speaker

A Great Piece of Writing about Interagency

Brian Rosenthal, of the Times, wrote a lovely piece about Interagency, one of the specialty programs that helps students in SPS graduate.  It's a fairly unflinching look at some troubled teens and the adults who work like crazy to help them find a good path in life. He notes that this is an expensive program for the district but frankly, isn't this what tax money is for?  Some kids have tough backgrounds and do not have the supports to move ahead without Seattle Schools. We say we want ALL kids to graduate?  Well, this is where the rubber meets the road and the district is doing its job.  Abandoning these kids is not the answer and if sticking with them, helping them graduate and creating the dynamic where they believe in themselves and they go from drifting to being a solid citizen, then it is all worth it. Congratulations to those 78 grads, Principal Kaaren Andrews and all the staff.  This is the hard, intimate work of public education that no TFA could pull off, no c

Decline to Sign at Target

 That was an interesting exercise.  I just spent two hours meeting people and handing out the flyer on Decline to Sign.  There were two signature gatherers there (same two from the last time). They first tried to say I was with the teachers union and I told them - out of earshot of voters - to NOT say that.  They stopped.  I didn't hear a lot of what they were saying as it was outdoor and noisy. Did it help to be there?  Absolutely.   The majority of people just walk past the table.  Me just handing them a flyer was much easier as I could walk with them and then they had info.  The signature gathers only gave out their flyers (I didn't get a copy) IF a person signed the sheet.  (They were also gathering signatures for a separate tax initiative.  They also mentioned a "privacy" page so people couldn't look up who signed.  I thought the court said that was invalid.  Anyone?) Second, I did manage to give my flyer to several people considering signing and the

LEV is Among the Worst

Here is a link to a story on the LEV blog with the headline " Washington among the worst when it comes to Black male graduation rates ". The story - written by the League of Education Voters - says: "The Schott Foundation has released individual report cards revealing the graduation rates of Black male students, and Washington is among the worst performers." Later in the story, however, the LEV admits: "The national graduation average for Black male students in the 2007-2008 school year is 47 percent, which technically means that Washington is slightly above average." Waitaminnut. Does LEV know what the word "worst" means? If Washington State is, in fact, above average, how can LEV claim that it is "among the worst"? Washington isn't even among the worse, let alone the worst. If this article is reflective of the LEV's ability to interpret data, then they stink at it. Now, I'm not proud of the state's 48% gradu

Policy 2200 - What Should It Be?

Director McLaren chairs the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee. This Committee will discuss the revised Policy 2200, Equitable Access to Programs and Services, at their next meeting , scheduled for Monday, June 25, from 4:00pm to 6:00pm in the Board Conference Room at the JSCEE. Director McLaren has a number of specific goals for the revised policy: It states an unequivocal value of equity in decision making regarding the siting of programs and services. It states an unequivocal value of transparency in decision making regarding the siting of programs and services. It sets out clear expectations of evidence to be provided by the Superintendent that the above criteria have been met. It states an unequivocal value for clear, efficient parameters for community input. It has had the benefit of community vetting via email or conversation with Board members. I, myself share these goals and I have my own areas that I would like the Board to consider:

Friday Open Thread

Last day of school - cool and cloudy.  That's our Seattle.  But for kids, summer vacation is any day they let you out of school for the year.  Had a great time dancing last night for 826 (tutoring organization).   Dancing with young people keeps you young.  I did get a prize (coffee and bacon) for "Tiniest Dancer." We likely won't have quite as many stories over the summer with the end of the school year.  But we will keep rolling with our new superintendent coming in, fighting I-1240, finally getting to some national stories that have been on the backburner and whatever else comes up.  Have a great summer and read to your kids (or find them some good summer reading)!

Studio Ghibli Film Series at SIFF starts Friday

SIFF is showing 15 Studio Ghibli films , most of them in both English and Japanese, over the next two weeks. If you are not familiar with this work, this is a wonderful opportunity to repair that tragic failure. I think all of the films are fine for children, most of them are brilliant for children, and nearly all of them are simply brilliant. Small children will adore My Neighbor Totoro, Pom Poko, Kiki's Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, and Ponyo. Those over 9 or so will love Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and The Cat Returns. Those over 12 will enjoy Castle in the Sky, Howl's Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away although these may be frightening or too violent for some younger children. I'm not sure if younger audiences would appreciate Whisper of the Heart, Ocean Waves, or Only Yesterday, and, to be honest, I'm not familiar with the film My Neighbors the Yamada's. I can recommend all of these films for adult audiences, even those that youn

C & I Agenda for 6/25

The Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee has posted their agenda for their June 25 meeting. The meeting is expected to run from 4:00pm to 6:00pm on June 25. The Committee meets in the Board Conference Room. The agenda includes some interesting bits, such as: a. Policy 2180, Nutrition Education (Wendy W) This will include the new federal requirements. b. Policy 0003, Ensuring Educational Equity Policy (Bernardo) I don't know what this is, but it is sure to be interesting. c. Policy 4210, Dangerous Weapons on School Property (Pegi/Ruth) I think they are against them. d. Policy 3200, Written Student Discipline Rules (Holly/Ruth) Hmmm. Written rules. What a novel concept. It's so crazy, it just might work. e. Policy 2190, Advanced Learning (Bob) This item may be of some interest to a few folks out there. f. Annual Highly Capable Application to OSPI (Bob) This is never as interesting as you think it is going to be. g. Partnership Agreement for Families

Decline to Sign Flyer

Not being the most technically able people I did not link the flyer properly.  I have redone all the links and here it is (again). My apologies.


Breaking news from the West Seattle Blog ; Executive Director Aurora Lora is leaving the district.  She's going to Dallas as an assistant superintendent.   Her last day is July 6th. That's one TFA gone (and I hear we lost another in HR).  Decline to Sign flyer here . Going to the Gay Pride parade?  There an SPS float in it that will be decorated as a school bus. The Board approved the change to the advertising policy and will permit it on school calendar, scoreboards, etc.  Not sure where (high school only?) and when it starts. Seattle Times' story indicates it will go to high schools only.  Keep in mind, the first year, the district puts all the money into the General Fund (handy, no?)  It's not until year two that ASB students start seeing money and then it's quite vague on how much.  From SPS (to update your calendar): Seattle Public School employees will again take unpaid furlough days in the 2012-13 school year to help balance the budget and prio

Decline to Sign Flyer

Here is the Decline to Sign flyer .   There are two to a page to save printing costs.  It's fairly basic but we wanted to hit the biggest charter issues.  Where to take these?  First, consider going local (but there are other venues as well): - farmers market near you - ferries - supermarkets - Target - UW - Red Square (better on weekdays) Sat 3 p.m./Sun 2:00 p.m. US 2012 Olympic Team Trials for Diving - could get to people from all over the state King County Aquatic Center, Federal Way  Friday,  June 22nd - King of the Beach Volleyball sign-ups at Alki in West Seattle , 6 p.m. Sat, June 23rd  -Rock n' Roll Half/Marathon, Seattle Center, 7 am to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 24th -Gay Pride parade 11 am - starts at 4th and Union to Denny Way and 2nd. Plus tons of other events. Beacon Rocks!  Beacon Hill festival from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday, June 26th - June 26th - Foster the People concert at WaMu theater at 8 p.m Where not to go? - surprisingly, large sporting e

Interesting I-1240 News

Washington State Wire did some digging and found that if I-1240 does qualify for the ballot it would only be the second-fastest in Washington State history (not first).  I don't think that's anyone's biggest concern but there you are.  The photo of a table with petitions on it is priceless.  Click on it to read the signage.  Naturally, they are at Wal-Mart. 

Never Too Soon to be Thinking about School Board Elections

Word is that there are considerations/planning being done for the School Board elections in fall 2013.  Those would be for the seats of DeBell, Smith-Blum and Patu. It is my understanding that DeBell is unlikely to run for a third term and may be running for a seat in the state legislature.  As of now, he has made no public statement except to tell Publicola that he would have liked to run in his old legislative district (that his home was redistricted out of).  Director Patu appears to be running again and is having an event to celebrate her family's work in public service.  Her Legacy Luau event will be Thursday, June 28th at the Pravda Events Center, 1406 10th Avenue, Suite 200 at 7 p.m.  There is a $75 suggested donation.  RSVP at or 425-891-6705.

I-1240 - Making False Claims

It seems that some signature gathers for I-1240 are making some false claims.  Now this may be entirely legal (I'm actually not sure but others are looking into this; I think the burden falls on the voter to read the initiative.) But I'd like to document them so on the Tuesday and Friday Open Thread, please list if you hear an I-1240 signature gatherer making a false claim. Here's mine: On Monday, Jun 18th, at about 10 am I was at the Northgate Target where I heard a woman being told that I-1240 was just a "pilot" program for charters.  That language is nowhere in the initiative.  And again, I invite you to correct me if I get anything wrong.  I did correct one error in my reading; charters can contract out only management (and nearly everything else) to a for-profit.  They can contract out only operations to another non-profit (which is what most CMOs - charter management organizations are).   They are one of the biggest growing sectors in charters. 

Goading Works!

Just checking in over at the Yes on 1240 website and they finally(!) have the text of the initiative up.  Still, you have to wonder - if they want you to sign the petition for it and vote for it, why wouldn't it have been there in the first place? They now have about $750k in their coffers from: Democrats for Education Reform WA PAC (that would be contributors from Leslie Hanauer, Steve Sundquist and others) Gates has given $386k Education Voters Political Action Fund (that would be the Amazon family, the Bezos, about $75k) Stand for Children WA PAC (more Bezos family members) Went by Costco today.  Please to see that they don't allow any kind of solicitation or petitioning on their sites.  

The Tide Keeps Turning

 Update (Wednesday afternoon) - Interesting chart from the Wall Street Journal article on the GAO report on charters underenrolling Special Ed students. Update (Wednesday morning): From at reader at Diane Ravitch's blog: is still collecting sigs for the group. Their petitions remain. The only thing they have agreed to is to stop offering them paid promotion of their petitions. Please read the HufPo article more closely and you’ll see this is so. They have already gained over a million sigs through these automatic ads. Bottom line: Don’t sign any petitions on until you feel certain that you are not automatically registered as a “member” of Students First or Stand for Children without your knowledge. end of update Remember how it has been reported that StudentsFirst, Michelle Rhee's organization, had petitions at that if you signed them, made you a member of StudentsFirst?  Well, I guess had a change of heart because

Gracious Farewell from Dr. Enfield

KOMO-tv news did an interview with Dr. Enfield.  It's quite interesting.  Probably the most intriguing (and yet confusing) statement for me: Q: Why are you leaving Seattle? A: "I wanted to go somewhere where I could be more actively involved in the work. The size of Highline allows me to do that. And it felt like the right time personally and professionally for me to make a move."

News Hot off the Presses

This week, Orlando, FL is hosting the U.S Conference of Mayors.  According to Reuters, "hundreds" of mayors endorsed "parent trigger" laws... "...aimed at bypassing elected school boards and giving parents at the worst public schools the opportunity to band together and force immediate change." Well, it does force change but is it change the only outcome parents create?  Generally so.  The adage "be careful what you wish for" surely applies here to those parents. I called Mayor McGinn's office and they are going to let me know if he voted on this issue and if he did, how he voted.  It will be a great disappointment if he voted yes.   Parent trigger laws are in place in several states including California, Texas and Louisiana and are under consideration in states including Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York. So far, though, the concept has never successfully been used to turn around a school. Though it has not yet been shown t

APP North Elementary Decision

From SPS: On Monday, Dr. Enfield said: “deciding whether to create a stand-alone school for APP students or to house the program in multiple sites with existing neighborhood schools is a big decision, and not one I take lightly. Given our upcoming change in leadership, it is also not a decision that I would be here to defend. I am asking that incoming Superintendent José Banda work together with staff and the community on how to move forward with both program placement and capacity.”  Read letter from Dr. Enfield to Lowell at Lincoln families. For the 2012-13 school year, the District will: • Separate the two Lowell schools. The Lincoln site will now be “APP at Lincoln,” much like our other programs housed at interim sites, such as K-5 STEM at Boren. This means that Rina Geoghagan and Gregory King will no longer be co-principals, but instead serve as principals of their own buildings. The two schools will also have a separate budget structure. • Keep APP at Lincoln f

Tuesday Open Thread

I managed to miss yet another important graduation ceremony- Interagency.  There was a great story on KONG-tv about this SPS program and one of its graduates.   Their graduation ceremony is tonight at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall - congrats to Interagency class of 2012! What's on your mind?

Charter News Roundup - It's Not Pretty

Let's start with Diane Ravitch's call at her blog for ed reform stories from around the country.  It's staggering to read and most are about charters. Last Stand for Children First Illinois about how turnaround schools happen in their state. Diane's blog again - a story about the " American Indian Charter School " in Oakland, CA.   The school is about 86% Asian-American, not Native American.  It has been a high-performing middle school but parents and former teachers complained.  An audit found that $3.7M were wrongly spent by the founder and his wife.  (The founder told Newsweek that he thought it would help to get rid of school boards.  He also said he would prefer the Ku Klux Klan to the teachers' unions.)  I'm with Diane; if you can't trust them with the money, do you believe the test scores? Via Huffington Post by the Detroit News, some pretty sad but not surprising news:  The majority of the Motor City's charter high schools u

KIRO Gets Spanked Over Leschi Custodian Story

As you may recall, KIRO-tv did a story about a Leschi custodian, Chester Harris, who, it was claimed, was "bullying" students.  As it turns out, it was one family and their issues at the school (they were told to only drop off and pick up their child because of their continuing complaints against many staff members).  The custodian's union, Local 609, had asked KIRO to retract their reports and they wouldn't.  I've seen these things and boy, it's not good or fair journalism.  The union took this to the Washington News Council, a media oversight group, and last Saturday there was a "mock trial" over the work of the reporter Chris Halsne at KIRO.   From the Stranger Slog write-up of the three-hour event: After a three-hour-long proceeding, supervised by retired appeals court judge Karen Seinfeld, eight members of the News Council's panel voted unanimously that Halsne and his employer, KIRO TV, had inaccurately described Harris as "man

What's Wrong with Proposed Policy 2200

Every so often something comes along that exposes and epitomizes a wide range of problems. This week it is the proposed Policy 2200, Equitable Access to Programs and Services . This proposed revision to Board Policy C56.00 reveals and illustrates problems with the Board's procedures, the Board's practices, the staff, program placement, the allocation of authority, the factors that really drive decisions within Seattle Public Schools, and the whole concept of governance vs. management. Where to begin?

Seattle Schools - Good News

 Update: a great story from the Times about the Ballard valedictorian this year.   Mikael Perla got diagnosed with leukemia in the middle of his freshman year.   He spent two grueling years fighting it off (with steroids causing him to have diabetes).   He could have taken time off to fight but he continued his studies.  Don't mistake Perla's persistence for arrogance. He credits his top grades to hard work and teachers who tutored him. He doesn't mention that he practically taught himself the language and math of chemistry from textbooks in bed, that he turned in every homework assignment, that he came in after school to do labs when he would be less likely to catch germs from classmates, reluctantly accepting his mom as his lab partner. Mikael Perla will attend the University of Washington in the fall after completing a summer program in engineering. He's considering a career in medicine. Good luck, Mikael - you have lots of people behind you.

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, June 18th Continuing high school graduations .  Go get 'em, kids. Tuesday, June 19th  Continuing high school graduations .  But don't forget the sunscreen. Wednesday, June 20th Last Board meeting of this school year.  Agenda .  There appear to be a number of interesting items including the contract between LEV and the district for South Shore (and it looks more like a newish contract than a renewal because of the passage of time since the old MOU was created), vote on the Advertising and Commercial activities policy,and renewal of NWEA contract. Intro items include policy 2200, Program Placement (now called "Equitable Access to Services & Programs).  I haven't read this yet but Charlie tweeted that it did not appear to make understanding program placement any better.  Also, there is intro of the 2012-2013 Operations and Capital budgets which I really haven't looked at yet.  There's also always an odd item like the increase in spending fo

Fact-Checking on the Charter Initiative

I didn't say this in either of my threads on not signing the charter school petitions or about the pro campaign. Any statements I make about what is and isn't in initiative 1240 are based on my reading of the initiative.  Two other parents read it thoroughly as well (I won't name them because I didn't ask yet) and we cross-referenced our reading. Anything I say, I am happy to back up with a citation of page and section from the initiative.   Just ask. I am confident in my reading of the initiative but if someone sees something I missed or perhaps have wrong, speak up.  But again, I worked with other people to make sure of my understanding of this incredibly dangerous initiative. There in no link to the initiative at the pro-side's website.  They are not going to fully explain everything in the initiative.  They are not going to name citations from the initiative to back up what they are saying are "facts".  You are only going to see that here. 

Pro-Charter Campaign Started

A bit tepid, their website .  It's called - big surprise - "Yes on 1240".  (Interestingly, a web designer I know told me "No on 1240" domain name is taken - very clever.  Only I don't think anyone would want it because, as the designer pointed out, it would read in the URL "noon1240".) There are several things to note about this website: There is NO link to the actual initiative.  Why wouldn't you want people to be able to read what you want them to support?  That says it all.   They say "There will also be an evaluation at the end of the five-year period to determine whether additional public charter schools should be allowed."  See, it's not a pilot project.  Also, if this thing passes, I'd bet money they will ask for the cap to be raised in three years. Of course, they are urging people to "simply" sign the petition so voters can "consider the facts."  I find this very funny because it has NEVER

Charter Petitions May Start Appearing Near You

The judge in Superior Court heard the challenge to Initiative 1240 yesterday and rejected most of WEA's reasoning (with a few tweaks).    Stand for Children issued a statement saying all the changes from the WEA had been rejected but apparently they don't bother to keep up with what actually happens in court.  They say they will use a combination of volunteer and paid signature gatherers (but there is no legal way to find out how many of each but I suspect an ARMY of paid).  They need about 250,000 signatures to be on the ballot but it would be good to get at least 300,000 for safety's sake. The title now says "Initiative Measure No. 1240 concerns creation of a public charter school system." I totally agree with this as voters need to know this is a system and not just a few schools. The concise description is still over by 3 words but the WEA missed that. Bill Gates has given $200k to the cause and Nick Hanauer has kicked in money as well.  It is like