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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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 bta.seattleschools.org.

What's on your mind?

44 comments:

ws said...

Just received a communication from Schmitz Park Elementary that they have 115 incoming K kids for next year. So they are adding a 5th Kindergarten class in a portable that will be arriving this year. In addition they are creating a kindergarten only playground near that wing this summer and expanding an existing bathroom in a Kindergarten class to have access to the outside for the new K portable. While I think the school (Admin, Staff and Teachers) is doing an amazing job in handling the growth its to the point where its beyond ridiculous. This puts all of 3rd, 4th and 5th grade in portables plus one 2nd grade class and one K class. There is no way this can continue.

mirmac1 said...

Combing through the FY13 Proposed budget. Remember, the public hearing is tomorrow.

Interesting. The position of Sr "Benefits" Specialist is now replaced with Sr "Retirement" Specialist. This speaks volumes. The rates of teacher retirements are way up.

Do you hear that Mr. Banda? Experienced, well-liked, and respected teachers are being hounded out of their profession. To be replaced by...TFA?! Perhaps, if some of your underlings and the power-players who are hosting your "coming-out" party tomorrow, would have their way.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Five kindergarten classes? Wow.

Anonymous said...

Some interesting articles for the math folks out there:

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2012/06/fractions-are-key-to-math-learning/#comments

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2012/06/the-dangers-of-education-technology/

math loving parent

Kathleen said...

Just received an email message from Hamilton International Middle School, principal, Chris Carter, that he's moving to Mercer Middle School. Was kind of shocked by this announcement. Text of said email here:
June 25, 2012

Dear Hamilton International Middle School Community,

I’m writing today to let you know I have news that is both bittersweet and exciting for me. I am leaving to take a position as principal at Mercer Middle School – a school where I taught for five years earlier in my career.

Hamilton International is a vibrant and warm community, and I will miss you all. It has been an honor to serve as your principal. I am proud of the accomplishments we have made at HIMS during my three years, including:


· In the midst of many changes in the spring of 2009, we have been able to successfully integrate and build upon the range of programs we provide HIMS students. This includes our incredibly exciting music and international arts program, our world language program, and the services we provide our students in advanced learning, general education, and inclusion for our students with special needs. All of which are resulting in achievement and success for all students.
· We have been recognized as a School of Distinction for the past two consecutive years.
· Our teams of teachers are working collaboratively in support of the needs of all of our students by closely aligning instructional and assessment practices.
· We moved into a new facility and have grown to well over 900 students.

Marni Campbell, Executive Director of Schools for the Northwest Region, will be overseeing the process for finding your next principal. Hamilton has an amazing reputation and I am confident you will find a strong leader to start the new school year. In addition, Hamilton has a strong administrative team and teacher leaders who will continue to move the school forward.

I look forward to helping in the transition in whatever way I can. I hope to hear about the great things all of our students are accomplishing in the future! Thank you for your continued support of your student and our staff at Hamilton International Middle School.

Sincerely,

Christopher Carter
Principal
Hamilton Middle School

Benjamin Leis said...

I wonder what happened to Susan Toth? I thought she was doing really good things at Mercer.
Ben

Jack Whelan said...

Several of the comments on the parent trigger post yesterday got me thinking about how we live in a political culture that is currently dominated by Libertarian thinking and how that creates enormous challenges for those of who believe in the political process.

Libertarianism has enormous appeal for people who are fed up or who have given up. Libertarianism is an ideology for people who don't really believe it's possible to achieve anything through collective effort, and Charter Schools are the perfect Libertarian solution for people who have given up or are fed up with the mismanagement of SPS and other districts throughout the state in the last decade.

SPS mismanagement is a textbook case for why charters should be so appealing. And the parent trigger is a tool that a lot of parents would love to use if it were available to them when they feel that they are at the end of their rope with a district that jerks them around or is just plain unresponsive to their needs. Cut out the middle man, and let us run our own ship here. Why wouldn't parents want that option?

So many teachers, too, are either fed up or have given up. Ask good teachers how often administrators have done anything that helps them to do their job more effectively, and then ask how often they do things that impede them in doing their job effectively. Hardly ever.

If you were a teacher and could work at a private school without a pay cut, don’t you think you’d jump at it? Teachers don’t want to leave public schools because of the kids or the parents or other teachers; they want to leave because of the nonsense they have to deal with from downtown bureaucrats. So from the teachers’ POV, why not work in a charter where the only administrator they have to worry about is the principal?

But here’s the problem with Libertarianism in general and Charter Schools in particular. When you give up on government and the political process, you give up on having any real power to push back against private interests with enormous power. These private interests don’t care a fig for the public interest. Only the public can protect the public interest, and the only tool they have to do that is the political process. When they give up on that, they have in effect accepted a reversion to the proverbial ‘state of nature’, and in the state of nature it’s eat or be eaten, and the little fish get eaten by the big.

(continued below)

Jack Whelan said...

Libertarianism is all about individual freedom in theory, but in reality it’s about giving the strong unrestrained freedom to dominate the weak. It’s just updated Social Darwinism that justifies the right of powerful economic warlords to be free to do as they please, and mostly what they please to do is loot and pillage without regard for how it hurts the rest of us.

And in the last 30 years a complacent citizenry in the country has let these people with their Libertarian/market ideology dismantle so many of the protections we took for granted, and done so all in the name of freedom and the free market. How has that worked out? Very well for a very few.

The problem isn’t with the political process, but with the fecklessness of citizens who have given up and allowed the political process to be run by default by the big fish and their lackeys. These interests have from time immemorial sought to coopt the political process, and they always succeed unless citizens have the will to stop them.

Maybe the situation in D.C. is too far gone—it would appear that the big fish have coopted all three branches of government there--but they haven’t here in our state yet. But they are trying, and this charter initiative is very important for them in that regard. If it’s too late to fight back on the national level, it isn’t yet on the local level.

So while it’s understandable that any one of us should feel fed up, it’s essential that we not give up. And that’s why this charter schools fight is so important for us here in Washington. It’s important that people not give up on the political process, that they not accept the tempting Libertarian arguments that so effectively play on our being so fed up. Giving in to the privatizing interests that are pushing for charters is a surrender to that temptation.

This initiative, if it succeeds, will give people the means to fragment our school districts; it will remove these schools from community governance and oversight, and these schools and the teachers in them will sooner our later be gobbled up by the big fish. It’s just the way things work in the state of nature. The only protection we little fish have against the big is to insist that our local governments and our unions be the responsive to our needs, and if we’re not willing to insist on that, then we deserve what we get. And we can be sure that we will get it.

suep. said...

I believe Toth is leaving SPS for a KIPP, Inc. school in Texas.

Anonymous said...

I heard that Thurgood Marshall is abandoning Everyday Math. Is that just a wild rumor or is it true?

View Ridge had 5 kindergarten classes this past year.

NE Parent

Anonymous said...

NE Parent- Is it possible to just "abandon" Everyday Math?? I thought it was necessary to get an exemption from the district, and that it was very difficult to get one. I know a number of schools that would want to get one if they could. Everyday Math has been hated by many for a long time; it's just been forced upon us.

If there's a process for rejecting it, please share.

-frustrated

Anonymous said...

I have no idea how they are doing it (or even if they are). Someone on a listserv I'm on posted that she'd heard TM was "opting out" of EDM, but she wasn't sure it that is the case. I was trying to find out if anyone knows if they are- and how they are.

Ne Parent

Jan said...

Very, very thought-provoking post, Jack. Thanks. I am constantly fighting a sense of frustration when people I know who used to fight for the "public interest" say that they are giving up -- that they are either not voting at all, or that they are voting for people whom they ADMIT will not further the public's interest (candidates who have publicly stated that they have no interest in doing so) -- in order to "punish" those who claim to support public interest causes, but who are perceived as having been ineffective. We need to stay in the game. And, after the Supreme Court decision against Montana's campaign finance laws, we are needed even more.

And -- we can't give up on Washington, either. Because there are elements of the public interest that can ONLY be protected on a national basis, not a state or local one. The Citizens United decision (and this week's follow up) is a reminder of that.

Charlie Mas said...

I can think of three ways for a school to replace the Board-adopted instructional materials (Every Day Math).

1. Become a CAS and make the use of alternative materials part of your creative approach.

2. Claim that you are following MTSS (Multiple Tiered System of Support) and that the replacement materials are for the purposes of intervention or enrichment, and that every student requires either intervention or enrichment.

3. Just do it. Defy the authority. If they aren't going to fire you over it (and I don't think they will) then they really have no other carrot or stick in their toolkit. None of the Education Directors have any appetite for confrontation. They may scold a bit, but in the end they will just shrug their shoulders and walk away.

Charlie Mas said...

In case you're wondering if five kindergarten classes at Schmitz Park is sustainable, consider this:

115 students per grade times six grades equals 690 students. The new education standard for an elementary school is a capacity of 650 (that's what it will be for the new Schmitz Park at Genessee Hill). So 690 represents 106% of capacity, well within the surge expansion range.

Welcome to the new normal.

ws said...

Yeah 690 and who's to say there won't be more than 115 once September rolls around. I know two families in the process of moving into the boundaries right now. I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a 6th class needed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And Charlie, if they show good results, the district REALLY won't care.

Anonymous said...

I thought K-5 STEM at Boren, conceived by Schmitz Park families and Aurora Lora, was the relief valve for all those budding engineers?

wondering

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

These are the stars of the charter school movement ? I see only self promotion and nothing to suggest students first. It is a catchy name for a nonprofit organization that does alot of political influencing. Where is the money for classroom supplies, educational materials, maintenance of school property, or after school tutoring ? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/corrected-national-educat_n_1626053.html?utm_hp_ref=education-reform
Publi School Parent

Anonymous said...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/corrected-national-educat_n_1626053.html?utm_hp_ref=education-reform

More Charter news. Let's improve what we have before bringing in more non proven or unsubstanable fixes.

Public School Parent

Benjamin Leis said...

I've always thought that finding the funding to replace the EDM textbooks etc. would be the more difficult part at this point rather than getting permission.

Ben

STEM Parent said...

The increased number of kindergarten classes that popular schools are forced to add is a direct result of the new student assignment plan, under which you are guaranteed a spot. I know several families that have moved into Schmitz Park's boundaries for that reason.

STEM has not relieved the overcrowding at Schmitz Park -yet- because STEM is new and it takes a leap of faith. Those in the SP area know that they have a good school with Sinagapore math, so why take the risk at this time. I expect that to change as we have even more to offer and have recruited one of the most favorite SP teachers.

The district has a breakdown of where STEM kids are coming from. It's largely unpopular, lower performing schools. It's a no-brainer for those families (us) to take the leap of faith.

Anonymous said...

Thurgood Marshall will be using a different math program next year. There is a curriculum waiver process that they followed for this change.

Centrally Located

Dorothy Neville said...

Someone here said that Steve Sundquist had contributed to the pro charter initiative. I can't find it on the Washington State Disclosure site. Can whoever it was give a pointer or was this false information.

Charlie Mas said...

There is a Board Policy (2020) on the waiver of instructional materials, and the policy says that "The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures to implement this policy." but the superintendent has not, in fact, developed any procedure for the implementation of the policy.

The policy itself reads more like a procedure than a policy, so maybe no superintendent procedure is necessary. On the other hand, without the superintendent procedure we'll never know what criteria and benchmarks applicants need to meet for approval. We'll never know if some applications for waivers were approved or denied based on favoritism instead of merit.

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to see the district breakdown of which schools Boren STEM students are coming from. Does anyone know where to find that info or a link?

-Enrollment interested

Anonymous said...

Back to Mirmac1's comment-just so that all who read this blog are clear.
Simply put-SSD has actively engaged in policies and practices over the last two years to rid the district of experienced teachers. SSD now leads the state by a double digit margin of teachers who have been forced out. That said, you are free to interpret what this means to the education of your child.

Salander

Anonymous said...

http://capitalroundtable.com/masterclass/For-Profit-Education-Private-Equity-Conference-2012.html

How to make money from education !

Public School Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I found it at the State Disclosure site. I'll put a link up later but you have to get all the initiatives in a row and there are multiple ed PACs that have contributions and he contributed to one.

I plan on asking all the Board members to confirm what they ran on. This would have been an unpleasant surprise at Steve won his race. I'm not buying that he was against them one month and scant months later (I think it was a Feb or March 34th Dems meeting), he's up there supporting them.

Steve said...

Would love to hear more about Thurgood Marshall using a different math curriculum. If this is for the entire school, that means the APP program at TM is using a different math curriculum than APP at Lincoln. Wasn't there supposed to be a single curriculum for this program? Since the District thinks of APP as a "program" instead of a "school" (at least for the program at Lincoln, it seems), perhaps the Lincoln APP program can ride on the waiver that TM may have received and use a curriculum other than EDM? That might be the *only* benefit I've seen to APP being a "program" in the eyes of the District...

Jan said...

I agree with what Charlie said. If I wanted to switch to Singapore -- I would just do it. Mr. Banda is surely not wed to the corrupt, illogical decision-making process that brought us Discovery, and most of the key players are now gone. If you can't afford an entire building, start at the bottom and fund a grade (or two) a year. It bothers me to abandon the older kids, but we have to start somewhere, and I don't know if the early years of discovery math give the older kids a good enough basis to just jump in, at grade level, on a more solid program that assumes they have actually been learning math all along.

Anonymous said...

All of TM is switching away from EDM as EDM doesn't work well for Gen Ed or APP at TM. My understanding is that the administration at Lincoln was kept in the the loop as to what TM was doing as they researched and tested out other math curriculums (curriculae?), but I don't know what they did or did not do with that information. I don't blame TM for going ahead and looking at something new...it's not like you can wait for the Advanced Learning department or the district to make a (obvious, much-needed) change.
SPS NE Parent

Jan said...

Hurrah for TM! School by school, maybe teachers and good principals (can't count on this from the bad ones, unfortunately) may "fix" this problem by just deserting EDM. Wonder what the SNAPP teachers think/want? Wonder what Rina, their "instructional leader" thinks and wants?

Anonymous said...

So EDM sucks? And Discovery also? My child just finished 6th grade math using Discovery, our school has walk to math, he just finished grade 5. Map score 252, 99 percentile. Seems like EDM and Discovery worked OK for her.

Satisfied

Anonymous said...

We at Lincoln were told we could not switch away from EDM because then we would be different from TM. Apparently it doesn't work the other way. Very frustrating.

Snapp family

Anonymous said...

Unless the ed levy equalization is changed or abolished, I'm voting no to the ed levies this February in Seattle. I really don't want to see my voluntary taxes sent to folks who do not share my values to fund education. If those Districts and counties can't pass an Ed levy, I wonder if it is because they know they don't have to because they know/they count on "Seattle will pay the freight!". There is no way I am voting for a $700 million dollar levy knowing that it will get siphoned off the top to pay for places who won't vote yes on an ed levy. That, plus putting it into the hands of SPS, given the State Audit Report and the Garfield high school cost overruns... I have no confidence. They just haven't proven themselves capable. I cannot trust them with this kind of float. After all, they can't even seem to pick a math curriculum that is reasonable even though that is the one thing that they ought to be able to do. Think about it Seattle, are these really the folks you trust to get this ambitious building program done? Me, not so much.

-signed, first time No vote

Kathy said...

http://www.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/CommitteeData/contributions?param=REVNT0VSIDEzMw====&year=2012&type=continuing

Dorothy,

Sundquist donated $5K to Democrats for Education Reform.

Lori said...

first time No vote, districts are only eligible for levy equalization if they vote "yes" on their own levies. If their constitutents vote down a levy, they don't get levy equalization.

The hypocrisy of conservative lawmakers (and voters) is what bothers me about levy equalization, but at least it only goes to those places that vote to support their schools. Might not be much but it's something.

Jan said...

signed, first time No vote: Here is my quandary. Two school boards ago, the "activist board" (as they were known) brought MGJ to a dysfunctional, badly managed District. Rather than lifting a finger to put out any of the raging fires, she proceeded to ignore most of what was dysfunctional while bringing in her "strategic plan" -- which worked terribly (at least so we assume, as virtually none of the required reports on it were ever delivered), ignored the southeast schools, imposed NSAP on a district in which schools were very unequal in quality. She brought with her, or hired or promoted, various incompetents who allowed the downtown brew of cronyism and intimidation to reach a full boil. The Garfield overruns happened on her (and Fred Stephens's watch). The Potter stuff happened on her watch. The "Terrible, No Good, Horrible, Very Bad" audit happened on her watch. The downtown bloat and dismantling of District grown and supported programs happened on her watch. The death by a thousand cuts of SPED and the dismemberment of APP all happened on her watch.

Fine. Well, not fine, but moving on, we got rid of her finally (YAY). Meanwhile, the entire District had been infested by ed reform termites busily chewing at the timbers and further weakening the structure -- and we replaced her with her 2nd in command, the much nicer Dr. E -- who cleaned out some of the rooms, but prounounced an affinity for termites. She not only let them stay. She made pets of them (or they of her).

We went to work on electing board members who would work for a different vision of the district (one where parents and kids, rather than donors and political BFFs) matter. We won (2 of 4 is a win in my book -- though it is hard to see victory with HMM still sitting on the board). AND the new board (under full attack by the termites as a "micromanaging board before they even met for the first time) made it pretty obvious that a search would take place. Dr. E left. Fine.

THEN -- we managed to avoid a Dr.E/MGJ clone among the finalists for the new position, and to our delight, have a very promising new Superintendent in Mr. Banda.

Are we exhausted yet? Yep. Have we been totally hosed by District governance and management for much of the last decade. Yup. But. BUT. How can we bring Mr. Banda in and, based on the glaring failures of his predecessors (you know -- those failings that we fired them for?), refuse to support the operating levy that will give him the only POSSIBLE chance of cleaning up the messes of his predecessors and moving the District forward?

The time to vote no on the levies was the LAST election or two -- when the same bad management/goverance that trashed the place was in power. All voting no now does is undermine the person we have worked so long and hard to bring here, and prevent him from doing the job we asked him to do.

I get the frustration. But how is this not the equivalent of shooting the guy in the white hat who comes to rescue you, because you are furious at the ones who tied you to the tracks?

Jan said...

Snapp family -- who told you that? Someone from downtown? Or your principal?

Now that TM is changing, would your principal be willing to meet with the TM principal to figure out how they got their waiver. It would seem to me to be pretty obvious that if the two APPs should have a unified curriculum, you should now be able to change to match TM's approach? If the principals and the teachers are really behind the change, I would think it would be pretty hard for the District to deny you.

If you are hitting a wall, my guess would be one of three things.
1. A substantial number of your teachers actually want to stick with EDM. Not all teachers hate it-- especially newer ones who know no other approach and were trained to teach math only with discovery methods.
2. The principal is not really behind you on this. Without a principal on board, you are pretty much stymied.
3. Your ed director is not on board, and your principal cannot get past her.

The TM people will know what they needed to pull this off. Now that they have switched, it ought to be (but won't necessarily be, if you have obstructionists in your pipeline) an easy thing to switch as well.

(And -- hoo boy! Wait until all those parents of "regular" kids who hate APP because their child is not in it get wind of the fact that APP kids get a better math curriculum. It may not bother them that Schmitz Park or Boren STEM has it, or Mercer Middle school. But they will HATE the fact that APP kids get it. TM gets a little "coverage" here because their regular program kids get it as well. At Lincoln, you lack even that fig leaf.)

Good luck.

mirmac1 said...

Jan, excellent observations.

I wish we could ensure Banda listens to the "anti-Alliance". I have personally observed how our 2 of 4 board winners are seduced by the easy answers offered up by staff...

Seeing as how the MGJ clone was not just incidentally dismissed, I hold out hope that Banda will do an extra great job of "listening"

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jan, I may have to store your "history of SPS" somewhere. It's great and it's priceless.

I am in agreement; voting no for BEX now is NOT the time. It was when many of us advocated to defeat the special levy. That would have hurt the schools far less and the district a lot more.

Of course, if charters pass, you may want to vote for BEX if only because it is likely to be the last capital levy you vote for that will go to SPS schools and not charter buildings.

Jan said...

Satisfied: I have thought long and hard about your post. I too have a child whom I think would have done fine with EDM and Discovery. He is very smart. He gets bored with "direct instruction" methods. He loves figuring stuff out for himself. He was in APP, and like many (probably most) APP kids, tested higher on the SAT than most high school seniors do. But he was quick to point out to me how poorly even the old integrated math had covered certain topics (as he discovered when taking pre-calc and calc in a different school district and in college). And he really gets it. He figured out immediately exactly what it was that all the other bright kids in his accelerated classes had learned -- that he had not. So I thought of writing -- "yeah, but maybe your child will find later that he/she is not as prepared as he/she had thought." And then I thought. What a crabbed, uncharitable thought. I hope your child's journey through EDM/CM/Discovery gives them a first rate math education -- and he or she goes on to become engineers, or Nobel physicists, or whatever. Discovery math DOES work for some kids -- and for a few, may be the ONLY math that works well, because they are simply too smart to deal with the more measured pace of other curricula and they are smart enough not to need much (any) repetition to reach mastery. Somehow, I doubt Isaac Newton spent a lot of time doing all of the even problems through problem 54 in Chapter 6 -- and he did ok.

If the purpose of your post was really just to point out that happily, EDM works for at least one child, yours, then that is great, and would be the end. If you wanted to make the inference, though, that somehow your child's success is in fact the norm and "validates" this curriculum choice, that Seattle's children are being served well by this approach and the very expensive materials we have purchased to teach it -- then I think all you need to do is look at the aggregated test scores (individual ones don't mean much, but the aggregate ones surely show something bad with respect to math learning, District wide) AND the success, or lack of it, of many of our children (including the ones who passed these tests) when they get to college and confront college math.