Tuesday Open Thread

From KUOW, a story on high school "froshing" which is basically hazing freshman (whether general population or via groups like sports teams) in SPS. 

This, of course, is outlawed in SPS and there is a very strongly worded statement in the student handbook about not doing this and the severe outcomes that follow. 

"Harassment and hazing constitute exceptional misconduct and are in fact felony offenses. This includes 'initiation' and 'froshing.' Prohibited activities include dunking in the lake, face painting, baby powder, whipped cream, shaving cream, boxing, other forms of initiation, humiliation, or abuse. Consequences include suspension or expulsion, and/or possible criminal charges." 

Listening to the story was not pleasant:

Anna: "We poured condiments on them, we made them do an Easter egg hunt and inside the Easter eggs were gross things. We sprayed them with hoses and stuff."

The freshmen have to dress in costumes and embarrass themselves in public. Sometimes they're even paddled or thrown into Lake Washington.  

What is funny is that this student, Anna, thought it was community-building.  But not so much.
Anna: "It wasn't like this happened to me so I have to make it happen to someone else because it was so horrible. It was more like, someone gave me this and I'm gonna pass it on as a tradition to continue."

I was hazed in high school and I remember being scared at points and very embarrassed at others.  I think there are better ways to build community and I'm glad SPS cracks down on it.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
How do people feel the healthy lunch initiative is working out? My high school junior son reports that his standard daily lunch is not filling enough anymore. He always gets the pizza, and I guess you used to be allowed two sides of choice, one of which he always chose to be bread. Now it has to be a fruit and a vegetable. He said he's eating those but is starving by last period.

I wish he would eat something besides pizza, but this is year 3 of HS and he has gotten that nearly every day, so I doubt he will change.

I don't think hungry kids is the intent of this initiative. I like that he's getting fruit and veggies though.
mirmac1 said…
KOUW at noon, NPR reports on how charters started.
Anonymous said…
Here's a very interesting education politics leak, courtesy Publicola.

Apparently LEV staff wanted to endorse McKenna. But according to Publicola they were overruled by their board, on which sits Hanauer (he of the infamous education email tantrum chewing out Inslee.)There are donors to the Republican and Democrat party on the board, but founder Hanauer trumpets the group's liberal dem roots.

LEV ended up endorsing neither man, issuing a mumbly jumbly press release about neither candidate doing enough to fund education. (This from the same group that keeps saying it isn't all about funding. Hmmmmm.)

Does anyone else find this fascinating? Because now the group that tries to position itself as the biggest voice of Ed Reform in the state has managed to p*** off both candidates, has lost sway with whoever ultimately becomes governor, and is apparently at battle with itself internally.

For myself, I'm voting Inslee. It's going to be a tight race.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, I don't think you should assume that SPS is "cracking down" on Froshing. It's commonplace among Garfield students and they seem proud of it, not trying to hide it from coaches or teachers. I'm shocked to learn that many parents condone hazing as a beneficial rite of passage and encourage their own kids to participate, in violation of school rules.

-bullying by another name
Anonymous said…
@EdVoter: Interesting...yes! Can't say I mind LEV losing its luster (but that's because I'm sick to death of their charter push and their new 'tone' of speaking to we parents, the minions.)

Something on a different thread yesterday sparked my interest. The BEX stuff. When exactly are we to know the latest? If Jane Addams is now staying put and a middle and elementary school are being crammed at Wilson Pacific - I think that is what I saw? - then does that mean APP @ WP is DOA? And is the district *really* going to leave Jane Addams alone when the building isn't filled yet - (projections be damned)?

Anonymous said…
Did anyone else mention the editorial on Mondy about TFA and the board?

I got this in my email yesterday:

Kay Smith-Blum, Seattle School Board, District 5

The Seattle Times editorial published on September 9th is wholly inaccurate and without merit. I would, as a responsible citizen, ask for the reason it was even written. Who incentivized this editorial?

Every "fact" is wrong. The Board did not "bungle" teaching credentials for TFA teachers ..far from it.

Members of the Executive Committee, upon reviewing the agenda for the September 5 meeting, asked staff to verify the credentials of the candidate applying for a Special Education position at Aki Kurose Middle School. The Directors indicated during the Executive committee meeting that it was imperative that the District was compliant with both State and Federal law. As a district, compliance issues with Special Education guidelines take the majority of the work schedule of a full time SPS lawyer. It is the single most common cause of litigation against the District.

The Board asked that the staff verify credentials, not to see personnel files to be certain the District would be in compliance with the LAW upon hiring a candidate with a conditional certification.

As it turned out, the HR department was not able to verify the credentials because the candidate did not respond to either emails or phone calls placed by the department.

Not one of my colleagues questioned the right or the reasoning for any principal or Building Leadership Team's decision to offer a job to ANY candidate, TFA or otherwise. The two candidates at Emerson Elementary were not in question, but the enrollment at that school proved not to be high enough to warrant the two positions for which those candidates had been potentially hired. There was NO discussion of any of the candidates nor were any of their personnel files requested.

The Times should print a retraction of this bogus editorial and issue an apology to each School Board Director named therein.


I didn't see any comments on this editorial earlier.

mirmac1 said…
Here's my twittersation with the author of that attempted hatchetjob on our board members:

@SeaTimesOpinion @lkvarner latest op-ed on Seattle School Board is more Rupert's News of the World than actual sound journalistic practice

@Parent4SPS if you have specifics pls email to lvarner@seattletimes.com or call 464-3217

@lkvarner Specifics? TFA conditional certificate information not released by SPS board members. They were public records provided by OSPI.

@lkvarner Specifics? Prospective SpEd TFA hire not highly qualified under IDEA and federal regulations. SPS would be in breach, kids harmed.

@Parent4SPS Prrof pls? My understanding from school board is that they asked that question, but didnt get an answer. You did?

@lkvarner The answer was riddled with errors (like WEST-B confers endorsement in SpEd, NOT!) Real answer came when TFA failed to rtn mssgs.

@Parent4SPS To be clear, are you saying Aki Kurose & SPS Human Resources put forth candidate in violation of IDEA?

@lkvarner Yep, Spec. 34CFR300.18((b)(1) & (2), and (d)(3). Shocking, isn't it. Like when SPS hired a TFA Bilingual cert to teach Spanish.

@lkvarner It's a sad thing when SPS' own general counsel makes things up to serve TFA and Ed Reformers. Kinda like @SeaTimesOpinion.

@Parent4SPS So now its a conspiracy?

@lkvarner @SeaTimesOpinion Only the SeaTimes editorial board thinks we're not onto you...Lynne Varner's All in!

...then for some reason she locked me out of her twitter feed... : )
suep. said…
@HP -- The Times' TFA rant (and mendacious attack on the board majority) prompted some discussion at the end of this thread:


Seattle Times Vision for Education

But it merits more discussion. At what point has the Times gone too far? When it traffics in outright lies and smears against board members, you've got to wonder if it has a shred of decency or credibility left.

Benjamin Leis said…
@District Watcher.

Re:JA filling the building. Enrollment is now up past 600 and there is a wait list at almost every grade. The building will almost certainly be officially full next year. Any new program has to be given enough time to ramp up. Even a new middle school building would not be full in the first few year(s).

You can make a case on overall costs for moving the program around, but definitely not on the grounds its wasting any space.

That being said, I too wonder what the current plan is going to be. Does anyone know when another update will be posted?

Thinking outside the box there are many possible alternatives that could be on the table. For instance, build a new wing on the JA building and build up the middle school program, or rebuilding one of the several 1 story building as a 2-3 story one to increase capacity. There's no guarantee yet the district hasn't decided to phase out the JA program or convert it to a K-5 even for that matter.


JADad said…
Ben, the next updates are being announced tomorrow (Sep. 12) at 4 PM at the BEX work session.
Remember that proposals for JA K8 have dramatically changed with pretty much every release, and could change again.
Rufus X said…
Interesting ad on craigslist:

We are seeking a tutor for our 4th grade child. Would like a tutor to help her advance above her peers in Math, Reading and Comprehension (For the Seattle Public Schools Spectrum Test in October).

Things that make you go hmmmmmm.....
Unknown said…
@Edvoter: Hanauer's is an interesting guy, and while he is wrong on charters, he isn't a mindless hack. He is, for instance, a "traitor to his class" when it comes to taxes, and a TED talk he gave was initially banned because it was considered too left partisan. See; this Ezra Klein piece on him.

Along the lines of why business guys have the attitudes toward public schools, it's interesting to hear the story of Jamie Vollmer's conversion. I think the main problem is that rich business types mainly talk to one another and not to teachers.

I suspect Hanauer's a guy that might be persuadeable if the right person got to him.
Anonymous said…
Per SPS Enrollment website:
Jane Addams wait list (9/10/12)
K (GenEd)- 21
1st - 0
2nd (GenEd) - 1
3rd (SM4)- 1
4th (GenEd) -1
5th (GenEd) -1
6th -0
7th - 0
8th - 0

There is no wait list for the middle school grades, though I understand that the middle school was expanded this year, to take on one more 6th grade cohort (approx 30 more kids). I think the middle school is now up to a total of around 200 students?

North End Mom
Josh Hayes said…
I had an interesting conversation with a deli worker at a QFC store yesterday; we sorta kinda know each other (she often slices deli stuff for me), and we were talking about schools, and she said, "I sure hope that charter thing passes."

I said, "Really? Why?"

And she said, "Because this district is trying to do away with every alternative school we have! Maybe with charters we can keep some of them alive, or start new ones!"

I pointed out that charters are granted by a board, a board that probably won't be real supportive of Seattle-style alternative schools. I suppose it's possible, though, right? In the end, I suggested, it's yet another way to dilute or deny parent involvement in their child's school, and she seemed ready to mull that over. Life on the front lines of campaigning.
Eric B said…
Job opportunity from my email:

The Center for Wooden Boats located at South Lake Union has a AmeriCorps position for a person 19-25 years of age for a year starting very soon. The person should love boats, have some marine skills, and have an interest in working and teaching life and technical skills to youth. Unfortunately, the CWB has a very short window to find a candidate for this position. They need to identify a person by the end of the week. If you know a person that might be a good fit for this position, please have them contact Captain Tyson Trudel at CWB. His cell phone number is 206-719-8056
Anonymous said…
K12 Inc, the biggest online charter school in America, was beaten up on the front page of the New York Times last year for putting profits in front of actual learning.

Today comes word that it is under investigation in FL.

To those who think public schools are a sinking ship, charters in WA may just be the hole in the ship that sinks public education.

'Charter Unbeliever'
Anonymous said…
New BEX list is off. JA is left alone. Thornton Creek gets a new elementary on its site but not Thornton Creek program? At Wilson Pacific a big middle school and also an elementary school not called out as APP. Note says that the plan gives 'flexibility' for housing APP. That ain't no promise, people.

No South Lake Union school. Bet the Downtown Association is grumpy. But they are probably the only ones.

And Lincoln ready for accepting HS students again by 2017. Wheeeeee.

NE Parent
ws said…
where do you find the BEX IV list.
Tracy @ WSB said…
Here's the slide with the new draft BEX plan:


As we point out in a story on our site, a few notes of interest for West Seattle, including the opening of a rebuilt Arbor Heights pushed back another year to 2019 (fall), and we are not seeing the Hughes reopening (currently leased to an independent school that fixed it up just a couple years ago) mentioned, though this came in too late in the day to doublecheck that its absence on this list really would mean reopening no longer on the table... could of course just mean $ coming from elsewhere.
Johnny Calcagno said…
I am stunned to see that 1240 is apparently way ahead in the polls.
Anonymous said…
For BEXIV Info:

There is a link to an overview and the spreadsheet on this page:


There is a link to the presentation from the School Board web page (click on the Sept 12 worksession agenda).

Slide #9 is particularly amusing. Apparently, there will be an excess of over 1000 middle school seats in the north region in the 2021-22 school year, thanks to BEXIV. Can anyone figure out how that would be possible if they are opening only 1 new middle school at Wilson Pacific (1250 seats)?

Will a chunk of the north end be annexed to Shoreline? ;)

-North End Mom
Anonymous said…
This presentation is all the evidence needed to support a new math curriculum. OMG!

Can anyone in this district add?? Am I supposed to believe that somehow this BEX money will magically restore the district to 5% portable usage AND leave thousands of extra capacity for everyone. Wow. I can't even speculate as to how these numbers were imagined. Every family I know is in a school that is dramatically over-crowded and density is only increasing. I would love to have only 5% of Eckstein in portables rather than the 1400 + students there at the moment.

- eckstein parent
seattle citizen said…
mirmac1 wrote,
"Wow, the K12 sleaze in Florida is really bad!" about a story mirmac linked to: EduWeek Report: Florida Investigating K12 Inc. for Using Noncertified Teachers

It's no worse than anywhere else where the charter industry colludes with TFA bring in a rotating pool of uncertified warm bodies to deprofessionalize educators, use the barest metrics to assess the teaching to the test, and thereby save 50% of labor costs that can then be turned to profit.
seattle citizen said…
Johnny, I wouldn't be surprised for a second if 1240 was ahead in the polls. After years of demonizing public school teachers, trashing public schools, and buying influence in all sorts of places, many people believe public schools are hell and teachers are devils.
It's sad and callous: They (the Reformers) say it's about the kids, but they destroy the children's schools and educators. Oh, and btw, they destroy the very idea of a well-rounded, child-centered, caring and compassionate public education system. Pathetic.
seattle citizen said…
What's even worse is what public education will look like in a couple of decades, after the corporations have finished monetizing it. We'll all have moved by then (except Melissa and Charlie): Kids graduated, retired maybe...The marketeers and the paid-for legislators will have succeeded in convincing most of the public that "everyone should be ready for college and work" but the work will have continued to become, itself, devaluated and, increasingly, exported or automated (and the machines, of course, "data driven."
Public education will be run by the corporations and for the corporations. Our current lack of state testing of civics and history and art and philosophy and citizenship and caring for others will have, of course, rendered those courses and ideals "valueless" and therefore extinct. Number-crunching ("Math"), writing reports and advertising and propaganda ("Writing"), reading instruction manuals ("Reading") and designing product ("Science"....or "Stem") will be the curriculum. NO free thinkers, here, just free marketers and their minions.

All because a majority of our citizenry allowed itself to be convinced that "schools fail" and "union teachers are not of high quality."

What a world. What a backwards step. What can we do to stop it?
Anonymous said…
It would be great to highlight what the Chicago Teachers Union is really striking for. The same issues are present here in Washington.

Seattle Teacher in Solidarity with CTU
Anonymous said…
1. Heard the "froshing" story also. Scary stuff indeed. Coming of the death by hazing of the marching band member in Florida, I believe, I would like to see the board address this issue. Hazing is absolutely unacceptable.

2. 1240 will win unless the teachers union can get their act together nd put some ads on TV. Tell truth to power, don't just know the truth. The WEA has some money and they need to fight the good fight.

3. Tutors for Spectrum prospects? Gotta love that. AL is seem as a Golden Ticket of sorts and rightly so. Frankly, I think having a reward for working hard is good for all of us in the system. Spectrum may not be perfect, not by a long shot, but it does offer something to parents and students. I tutored my kids to APP acceptance, nd they are no geniuses. It gives people a goal and a benchmark and the kids feel proud of their success, even if they don't go to n APP school as is our case. In fact, due to my job situation, I may look into that tutoring job myself.

4. Back to unions. This Chicago thing is really interesting. The Republicans are backing Emmanuel against the unions and Obama hasn't said anything.
It really is the whole reform battle being played out in this one job action.i just read about the local union leader, she sounds like she might be able to win one for the teachers and the public scholar families. Anybody following it who can give us some details?

Loving the weather
Anonymous said…
"Go Chicago" says:
Seattle teachers could have gotten that same kind of take it to the mat leadership if we'd voted for the Candidate Who Is Not Knapp. Eric Muhs, the candidate who lost, has the passion and the smarts and the humor that the Chicago union leader has. She is killing it, drawing a line in the sand not for better pay but to put an end to overtesting and underfunding public education out of existence.

Seattle teachers need to pay better attention next time. If it is not too late for the students and ourselves.
Johnny, two things.

One, I've found out there on the campaign trail a LOT of confused people. When you explain what it all means, you get that "oh NOW I get it" look. Education is the key.

And as Yogi says, it ain't over until it's over.
TechyMom said…
On the new lunches...
My 3rd grader just asked to eat school lunch. She has thought they were "gross" for the last 2 years, but tried one last week when she forgot her lunch, and says they're much better now.
Maureen said…
Jonathan Knapp has a quiet little push back piece against TfA in the Seattle Times.
Jan said…
mirmac1: nice job with the twittersation! Too bad LV "hung up" on you, but predictably petulant.
Jan said…
Melissa and Charlie: something odd is happening when I access the blog. There is NO text posted (or at least accessible to me) on the most recent blog post, the No on 1240 one. Nor is there any way to post comments or to scroll to older posts (to get to them, I have to access the archives, and go back to older posts, where everything works normally). Anyone else having this problem?
Jan said…
Actually -- it is the last two posts, the No on 1240 and the BEX Updates posts that have different layout, and no access to the text of the posting, the ability to make comments, or the scrolling feature. And -- they layout is quite different.
Anonymous said…
I'm having the same problem as Jan. Odd.

Teacher Sally
ws said…
I am also experiencing the same thing since late last night
Christina said…
I too have observed content and formatting issues on the saveseattleschools.blogspot.com index page earlier today, when using Internet Explorer 9. As of Wed 12 September 2012 3:49 PM, using Google Chrome 21.0.1180.89,
Platform: Windows 7 I see the index page renders normally, and five comments have appeared since 8:16 AM.
Anonymous said…
Could Chicago teacher strike help 1240 and Mitt win? Chicago is a Dem town; so is this a case of divide and conquer?

Anonymous said…
If you haven't checked out then Al web pages recently, someone has been busy. Lots of details about programs and criteria and the appeals process. Also some excellent links. Seems AL is trying hard to get in front of the ball. Still want to hear about middle school math placement. I don't have a problem with teacher recommendations and MAP scores, I just am curious what scores are used and how kids are placed.

Giving Credit
Mary Griffin said…
And back to the TFA fiasco,

The TFA candicate who did not return calls from Ron English apparently has been hired to work at a Renton middle school even before the Renton school board has voted on the TFA agreement: http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=27919
Anonymous said…
Giving Credit-

What is your question about middle school math? Is is Alg 1 placement for 6th grade? If so, the criteria was a hard cut-off of 250 (not 249) on Winter of 5th, Fall of 5th or Spring of 4th MAP tests. That's it.

As everyone knows, teachers don't know anything about their math students, so their opinion did not matter.

While it is good that the AL department is allowing kids to again take Alg 1 in 6th grade, this current selection process is poor.

Anonymous said…
Wow. For the "missing" TFA widget it would have been as simple as having the courtesy to return a call or respond to an email and saying "I have accepted another offer." Really weird. It would be satisfyingly amusing if the Renton board declined to approve the TFA agreement.

Anonymous said…
Giving credit, I don't see any information on the AL website that wasn't there last year, besides an update of the calendar from 2011/2012 to 2012/2013.

dw said…
Jan said: mirmac1: nice job with the twittersation! Too bad LV "hung up" on you, but predictably petulant.

I'd say it was a nice start to a conversation, but mirmac blew the opportunity. LV engaged, and was responding. That's the time to take her and SeaTimesOpinion to the mat with careful dialogue, not pissing her/them off with a direct accusation. Rather than getting shut out you could have lead her through the prickly path of their own hubris and lies.

Other people follow these conversations, and it could have been powerful if the right people picked up on it. I'd say this was more of a missed opportunity.
mirmac1 said…
Sorry DW, sometimes cannot contain the snark. Particularly when she's tries to pass me off as a conspiracy theorist. : )
mirmac1 said…
And actually, my "accusation" was not speculative, but backed by her allies' documented emails. Her accusations were backed by...*crickets*
dw said…
Understood. Unfortunately, the language you used was the kind of language used by conspiracy theorists, which gives her/them ammo. You have so much solid data, I suspect more than almost anyone else, I'm just trying to encourage smart use of that data and strategic discussions rather than spouting off. I say this with great respect for the research you've done and the time spent doing it. I just want to see it count, cause if it doesn't, the best we're going to be able to do in a few years is say "I told you so", which doesn't help kids.
Anonymous said…
I guess I haven't checked the site for awhile, I particularly liked the links to gifted organizations. I think this whole gifted education concept is going through an overhaul nationally. It also relates to my question about middle school math placement. Hard cutoffs are problematic and can
misidentifying kids, usually keeping them out of programs. That's why I am concerned if teachers have no input. It seems that teacher input is in fact used for testing decisions from my reading of the AL web pages. Can anyone actually direct me to policy and criteria for entering advanced math programs on middle school?

Anonymous said…

No. No one can lead you to a written policy because there is none. This is one of the reasons parents are so angry.

In this Brave New Education World that Bill Gates would like to create, test scores tell you everything you need to know. What, the MAP test isn't an algebra readiness test? Doesn't matter as long as you have a test score.

-annoyed by the lack of process
mirmac1 said…
Less spout. More clout. Got it.

: )

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