Friday Open Thread

In our house there's a bit of a rush to complete summer assignments. School is starting VERY SOON.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
At our school, there is also a rush. Construction projects that have not been "finally checked" are preventing staff from moving in to their rooms. Desks,file cabinets, and materials are filling hallways. I wonder why the project managers haven't been told when school starts so projects could be completed in time to get ready for the first day of school. Maybe a visit from the fire dept. would speed things along (or at least get the hallways cleared before students arrive).

SPS staffer
Unknown said…
Ravitch in a post today talks about how she was criticized for being anti-democratic for opposing charters. She responds by saying the obvious: "It is because I believe in democracy that I am disturbed by the rapid growth of charters, which erode the democratically-controlled public sector."

The ancients thought that democracy was the second worst form of government--tyranny being the worst. They thought the people too vulnerable to be manipulated by demagogues who whip them into a mob which surrenders its democracy to the demagogue. That is always a danger in democracy--that the people can choose to give it away. We take it for granted but it's fragile.

The market has its place. I am not anti-market or anti-capital, but this idea that the market equals democracy and that a healthy public sphere is somehow anti-democratic has become dangerously widespread. It's sincerely believed by a lot of people, and it is a bit of demagoguery that will lead to the destruction of real democracy if it is not resisted.
Anonymous said…
Arbor Height Kindergarten is piloting McGraw Hill My Math this year, does anyone have have a opinion or review of this either positive or negative?

-School Math Curious
Anonymous said…
Just how many different math programs, other than the adopted texts, are being used in the district a this point? It's bordering on ridiculous. Singapore, Saxon, TERC, Envision Math, Glencoe Math Connects, McGraw Hill My Math, and...?
Anonymous said…

This week's New York Times debate topic: "Is Teach for America Working?

--Old School Music
mirmac1 said…
Have a Great Last Blast of Summer! : )
Po3 said…
"Just how many different math programs, other than the adopted texts, are being used in the district a this point?"

Funny, haven't heard the term alignment in a long time...

Anonymous said…
If the adopted math books were better, would there be a need to deviate from them?
Anonymous said…

My child is attending private school,
how does one notify SPS w/o losing SPS services for speech?

Unknown said…
NEDad, students in private schools qualify for speech services through SPS.

Anonymous said…
Class schedules are up on the Source.

HIMS mom
mirmac1 said…
the board agenda is posted and, surprise!, both SPS' General Counsel and OSPI's unethical staff have found that (OSPI website, HQT manual, and regulations notwithstanding) a TFA SpEd teacher can be considered HQT! Problem is, both the SBAR and the Legal Memorandum spew nonsense.

What, pray tell, is a "West-B in Special education"?! The West-B is:

"Basic Skills Test Requirement (WEST-B)
Washington Educator Skills Test – Basic (WEST-B). Must successfully complete each subtest for reading, writing and mathematics. Use report code #399 to have your test score sent to OSPI electronically. Test information and registration is available online. OSPI website

The West-E is the test for subject area mastery. Passing the West-E does not, in and of itself, produce an "endorsement" of any kind. So this statement in the SBAR is poppycock:

"Special education teachers teaching multiple subjects must have a bachelor’s degree, a special education endorsement (WEST B), be highly qualified in at least one substantive subject area taught (WEST E)..."

The TFA novice on the SBAR was slated to get hired last fall at Hamilton but hadn't bothered to take the required tests. So now they're trying again.

The SBAR's statement that "five of six" TFA teachers remain on assignment. It is my understanding that:

Aki let one go,
Washington's (actually certificated) SpEd teacher didn't want to teach SpEd, and
RBHS's non-HQT Spanish teacher will lose his spot because the previous teacher is returning from leave.

So is this another instance of staff doing some "creative writing" of SBARs?

As for the two that were slated for TFA Alum's Kristina Bellamy-McClain's Emerson, I've been informed that, due to enrollment adjustments, hiring at Emerson is on hold. I see there is a waitlist for Emerson so not sure what that's about.
Anonymous said…
Hm I find that strange that they are saying the WEST B is an endorsement...because it's not. At most colleges you have to take and pass the WEST B to enter the education program. You take the WEST E at the end of the program, which lines up with coursework and a practicum (i.e. to get an add on reading endorsement I had to take so many credits/classes, a certain number of practicum hours AND pass the test). Very interesting...

mirmac1 said…
Yes, apparently passing the Basic Skills Test in reading, math and writing makes you uniquely qualified to teach children with a whole range of disabilities.
Anonymous said…
I don't think the West-E is required for regular special education teachers. That is, teachers who are NOT TFA. It sort of does make sense. If the teachers are not replacing actual subjects - then the students get a general educator who is HQ. The special education teacher can then specialize in actual disabilities, remediation, social skills, etc.

-sped Parent
Anonymous said…
NE Dad,

You can always request special ed services on a part-time basis if your child is home schooled or in private school. You can ask for the services to be provided at the SPS school closest to your home or the private school. If your child just needs SLP services, call SPS and talk to Pat Whitmore.


Anonymous said…
To NE dad who asked about SLP services,

Sped services can be accessed no matter what school your child attends. However, those services are NOT provided at private school sites, or necessarily at the public school closest to your private school or home. There are designated therapy sites and services are only provided during the actual academic day. Also, bus or taxi transportation can be arranged but I would not recommend that. Spotty service, long transport time. Do contact Ms. Whitmore who is the secretary for the SLPs.

Been there, done that
dj said…
I still don't have transportation letters here. Anyone else? Is the info online somewhere?
Anonymous said…
sped Parent:

The WEST E is required to get a teaching certificate...even for regular special education teachers.

Anonymous said…
Washington State 2011-12 MSP/EOC scores are online.


Anonymous said…
dj - we received our transportation letters on Thurs Aug 30.

2 kids @ 2 different schools
mirmac1 said…
I wonder if, like Renton's teachers, Seattle's teachers will care to sign up Monday at 8am for board testimony (I'm sure TFA will try its "charm/whine" offensive. To question how it is that TFA can get a subject area "endorsement" by just passing a West-E, or a special education "endorsement" by the West-B. This is another example of those running the PESB in Olympia smoothing the way for their friends at TFA and the UW COE. It stinks and is unethical. And for SPS to be the instigator of this travesty is an outrage. Parents of SpEd students are tired of SPS' refusing to take responsibility for our kids.
NE Seattle Mom said…
I'm wondering what is going on with the waitlists the enrollment office says it's working to assign students but the numbers they publish really haven't changed.
Anonymous said…
Pat Whirnore is the head SLP, not a secretary. Every school has the ability to provide SLP services. They work very hard to match you up with a school close to where you live or close to where the private school is. The only exceptions are when you need specialized services i.e. a social skills group.

NESeattleMom said…
NY Times article today Mon. Sept. 3 on the quality of the schools in the Harlem neighborhood of NYC being so quickly changing that parents have a difficult time making a clear choice, especially during the same time period with many new charter schools springing up.
Charlie Mas said…
Is Renton moving forward with Teach for America?

Is Seattle - or Renton - really going to try to use a Teach for America corps member as a Special Education teacher?
Maureen said…
Here's a link to the NYT article NESeattleMom mentioned.

It says, in part:

[Some p]arents .... also described a disconnect between the concept of choice, which most of them wholeheartedly embrace, and the execution of it. Information on schools provided by the city in printed directories is often outdated (the city’s Web site is more current). And the constant churning of schools, and a school grading system that can result in large swings in a few years, has left them wondering which schools are truly successful.
fix the math said…
Mercer Middle continues to be an outlier in math performance.

A comparison of the average MSP pass rates - across 6th, 7th, and 8th grades - vs FRL rates, ranked in order from highest to lowest pass rate (2011-2012):

SCHOOL: Avg MATH pass rate (%FRL)

HIMS: 83.3 (19)
Mercer: 78.4 (75.2)
Eckstein: 77.4 (24.8)
Whitman: 70.9 (30.1)
McClure: 70.7 (32.7)

District: 67.2 (43.2)

Washington: 66.0 (51.7)
Madison: 65.2 (43.4)
Denny: 63.1 (67.1)
Aki: 44.1 (86.5)

Mercer's pass rates on the math MSP rival those of Hamilton (home of North APP) and Eckstein. It is the only traditional middle school in the south end to surpass the district average. A graph of the results is even more compelling. Results for K-8s are not included in the list.

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