Showing posts from October, 2012

Conversion Charter Ambiguities

Initiative 1240's rules for conversion charters has some clarity, some flexibility, and some elements that make no sense at all. To follow along you'll want quick access to the text of the initiative .

Word Verification Back On

I put word verification back on because I read the blog comments on Google Reader and I am tired of scrolling through hundreds of spam posts selling Tramadol online to find the few real posts. Hope this works.

Who's In?

It's an interesting thing to see who has endorsed which campaign around I-1240. First, you can thank me for the Yes side even having an endorsement page because they didn't have one for months.  But I kept calling it out at debates and I guess they got embarrassed.  What is kind of cute is the little mini-bios they have for every single person listed (but it does make the page look longer). For variety, there isn't a lot of comparison.  The Yes is a lot of business groups/ed reformers and, for the elected officials, Republicans (with the "roadkill" Dems thrown in). The No side / No side is quite varied and long on elected officials (but yes, very Democrat-heavy). As far as educators and those in education, there is no comparison.  Educators, administrators and elected officials in education are overwhelmingly against I-1240.  Community groups?  Quite a variety especially up against the Yes side. Newspapers?  Very much for the Yes side but I note that

Tuesday Open Thread

Very nice (and short!) No On 1240 to check out. Kids, ready for Halloween?  Indulge me and let us know what your child will be.  (My youngest son at college grew out his sideburns for that "old" Elvis in a white jumpsuit-look.) Is your school doing a Halloween costume parade/party?  I hear these got outlawed at several SPS elementaries.  Going door-to-door?  My house is the one with the black skeleton flamingos and the pumpkin bride. But let's not forget to send prayers and thoughts and good karma to those on the East Coast suffering from Superstorm Sandy.   What's on your mind?

Work Session on District Vision today

I'm not sure what this is about, but here it is: The Board will have a work session this evening from 5:00 to 6:30 on the District Vision. Here is the agenda : Call to order:  5:00 pm Work Session: District Vision Adjourn 6:30 pm Yep. That's it. Board Policy 1005, Responsibilities and Authority of the Board , says, in part: Acting on behalf of the people of Seattle, the Board will fulfill the following functions: Vision: The Board, with participation of the community, shall establish core beliefs and create a vision for the future of the district, formulate and adopt a theory of action for academic change, and shall formulate the goals and define policies and outcomes that set the course for the district. So the Board needs to work on this Vision thing, and a work session is appropriate, as well as their Retreats, but I'm wondering where the "with participation of the community" part comes in. I'm not able to get to the School Distric

Banda to Present State of District Report on Thursday

Update:  The Alliance IS "hosting" this.  I'm sorry but since when does a sober and serious (and mandated by the Board report) have to be "hosted" by anyone?   I don't care if it's Perkins Coie's anniversary or if Sara Morris' husband works there or if it is free use for SPS - this is WRONG. Still no word from the district.  Not a good sign, Superintendent Banda. End of update. Among the happenings in SPS this week, comes a notice that the Superintendent will release his State of the District 2012 report on Thursday, Nov. 1 at ...Perkins Coie LLC(?!) from 11:30 am to 1:30 p.m. Folks, I just got this press release so I will call district communications as soon as I can to find out why: 1) it is being presented at a very high-profile law firm's offices downtown (is there some major announcement to come?) 2) you have to register to hear it and all members of the media are welcome but space is limited for the public. I smell the fine

Romney (Ann, not Mitt) Weighs in on Education

Would you like to know what Ann Romney thinks about public education in the U.S.?  From an interview in Good Housekeeping via Daily Kos, she asked about the issue closest to her heart: I've been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people's lives if they don't get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers' unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system. The whole system is flawed?  You really can say that about all the educators and administrators who get up every single day to educate the overwhelming majority of the nation's children?   Or is it just the teachers union?  (Funny how your husband ran a car company and I'll bet he said the same thing about that union as well.) Among her other views: - only people who are "financially secure" should run for office AND aft

A Teacher's Goodbye (with reasons)

 An update to this thread comes from this op-ed by Allison LaFave, a teacher in a charter school in NYC.  She says: Last week, Deborah Kenny wrote an op-ed piece (in the NY Times) decrying the heavy influence of test scores on teacher evaluations. Kenny rightfully claimed that the practice “undermines principals and is demeaning to teachers” and leaves little room for innovative teaching and learning. S he went on to say that test-based evaluations inhibit the “culture of trust" between principals and teachers and “discourage the smartest, most talented people from entering the profession.” While I agree that test-based evaluations are inherently flawed (when was the last time our politicians, Democrats or Republicans, truly analyzed a Pearson test ?), I am baffled by Kenny’s ultimate argument. It seems that Kenny bashes test-based evaluations because ... wait for it ... they make it harder for her to fire teachers she doesn’t like – specifically a teacher whose

Also, in the "Could This Happen under 1240?" Category

Readers pointed out this news story - a charter school in Sacramento, just 6 weeks into the school year, closed its doors to 400 students.   Just like that. The story comes from CBS Sacramento .  The CEO claims there are "safety" issues in a building that Placer County said can only hold 75 but had 400.  But the County also said that it didn't tell the CEO to shut down "not wanting to interrupt the school year."  And in shades of SPS, here's how the parent meeting with the CEO went: During a meeting with parents Tuesday night, Heimbichner spent the first 30 minutes of his presentation talking about the history of Horizon Charter Schools before someone finally stood up and yelled for him get to the point. The angry interruptions became a common theme throughout. Some parents got so frustrated they walked out. “He never answered anyone’s questions directly, and it was a waste of time and so frustrating,” student Diamond Matthews said.  What

K-8s (and does $1M a year extra at South Shore help?)

South Shore PreK-8 came up as a topic during a discussion over conversion charters .  I, like many, believe it would be a target (a willing one) for a conversion takeover.  I suspect you could get the parents or teachers to agree and I'm sure LEV, who now directs the foundation money that South Shore gets, would also be agreeable.  That leaves the community and the district that may not like the idea of losing a $73M building to a charter entity. One thing to keep in mind - ALL charters are their own districts .  If they take over a district building, they can decide the parameters - within the law - of public use just as SPS does.  If you use a school building for your local community meetings or Boy Scouts, you might have to find someplace else to go.  I also don't know what it would mean for the joint-use agreement that SPS has with Parks for SPS playfields.  I would assume if a charter group takes over the building and its grounds and is its own district, they don'

Our Schools Coalition Wants Your Input

The Our Schools Coalition, an Alliance for Education project funded by the Gates Foundation, wants to kibbitz once again on the negotiation between the teachers' union (SEA) and the District as they wrestle over the collective bargaining agreement. And they want you to tell them what they should agitate for. Provide your input here . Just in case you question the propriety of their kibbitzing in the process, they have this blog post to justify it. Only that blog post doesn't give any reason that we need Our Schools Coalition to serve as the voice of the community in addition to the democratically elected board which has the duty to serve as the voice of the community to relay our priorities to the negotiators.

Google "charter Schools" and "financial scandal" - This is just the Tip of the Iceberg

Updates from the Orlando Sentinel , about the story about the charter school principal who got $500K when the school was forced to close.  I got it wrong - it was $519K and her take for the whole year?  $824,000.  In June, the charter school's board cited Young for "leadership" and "providing an excellent educational opportunity for at risk and underprivileged children in Orange County" in its resolution authorizing the payout of more than $500,000 upon the school's closing. A principal of a school of 180 kids and; In 2011-12, NorthStar High School's directors paid Principal Kelly Young more than twice as much money as they spent on the school's educational program. By comparison, the school spent $366,042 on instruction, including teacher salaries, last school year, according to an audit paid for by the school. The school lacked computers, a library or cafeteria services at its facility in concrete portables on Curry Ford Road. Acc

Friday Open Thread

Reminder - one Community Meeting on Saturday with Director Patu at Caffe Vita from 10 am to noon. From the ridiculous/sad ed news: cheerleaders who seem more devoted to God than their team (that's a big NO from this ex-cheerleader - you're there for the team) . And, a school that had, for years, an on-going "fantasy slut league".  The school had no idea this was going on (really?) and apparently isn't going to punish anyone.  What? Have you voted?  It's the most important thing you can do as a citizen. What's on your mind?

Crosscut Pro and Con on I-1240

Crosscut is running two articles on I-1240, one in favor and one opposed . They are worth reading if only because the article in favor demonstrates the naive and thoughtless acceptance of every myth and marketing line offered by the proponents of charters. The person writing in favor of the initiative is a voucher advocate living in a rural area. He doesn't know what he talking about and he obviously hasn't given any of it much thought. It's sad, really.

Partnering Parents with Education

Education Week highlights a new publication, Promising Partnership Practices 2012 , with 92 ways schools are partnering with parents and community.  The publication is for sale but individual stories are available as PDFs for free.  "Me 2! Getting Parents into Middle School," explains how Park Middle School in Kennewick, Wash., created the expectation that parents would volunteer for two hours a year at the school. The campaign included tracking progress on the 1,800-hour goal and "talking up" the expectation with students. "The A.S.P.I.R.E. Survey" is used at Bassick High School in Bridgeport, Conn., to find out what talents volunteers can share with students. More than 160 parents and community partners have gone through the small-group sessions to identify their skills and talents, which are matched to the needs and requests of teachers, administrators, and students. At Scott Elementary School in Naperville, Ill., 350 students and their

The Stranger Explains the "Property Tax Swap"

I have been desperate to get a thread on this issue because both McKenna and Inslee have been talking about it (along with Rep Carlyle and Rep Hunter) but pulling it altogether was going to be a task.  Enter Goldy with a good article (and a chart!).  It pretty much completes what I thought - Seattle and other "wealthier" districts would get less.  My understanding of the property tax swap is that it would phase out levy equalization and yet, wealthier districts would STILL be subsidizing poorer ones.  I am all for equity but when every single district in this state is cash-strapped, it seems unfair. Read on and tell me your thoughts.  The Property Tax Swap (or "State & Local Property Tax Shift" as it is more technically known) is also the only one of four levy reform options to be dismissed as "Not Recommended" in the final 2011 report of the state's Levy and Local Effort Assistance Technical Working Group . The idea is simple, though

MathFest on November 8

Bring your family Nov. 8th to experience Math like you’ve never seen it before! Zeno is hosting its 7th annual Seattle MathFest – a FREE community celebration of kids and math! Registration is now open and over 100 volunteers are being recruited for this unique event that brings together over 1,000 elementary-age kids, parents, teachers, school administrators and community members to help kids build confidence in and enthusiasm for math through interactive games in a carnival-like setting. Come experience squeals of delight, high-fives and a chorus of cheers as you work your way through over 20 stations to play math with your family! What: A city-wide celebration of elementary students and mathematics Where: Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118 When: November 8, 2012, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM 5:00 PM Doors open, refreshments served 7:00 PM Refreshment service ends 7:30PM Games close, awards ceremony and prize distribution begins 8:00 PM Doors close Zeno

Should We Fear the Unhappiness of Bill Gates?

I think I mentioned that a reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution came out and interviewed me (and many others) about I-1240.  This vote is national news as Washington State is not only doing this again for the fourth time but is the ONLY state in the country to have ever had the issue of creation of a charter school system on our ballot.  Sidebar to the "41 states have charter schools" argument: - Washington state voters have said no three times to charter schools. - 44 states have an income tax.  Washington State does not. - 42 state legislatures have come out with some kind of statement/legislation against gay marriage.  Our Legislature?  Voted for gay marriage. Whether you like or agree with ANY of those stands, it does point to one thing.  Washington State voters are an independently-minded bunch.  We are NOT followers and we take our time to consider an issue.  Personally, I like that in a state. Back to Bill Gates. So the reporter, Wayne Washing

BEX IV - Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?

I confess - I haven't been able to keep up on BEX IV as I would have liked.  But I have noticed (and noted) that, true to form, this BEX follows the pattern of previous ones (except on steriods). 1. Changes to the list in the last month before it is approved?  Check. 2. Lack of clarity about changes and no fleshed-out explanations?  Check. 3. A Board in a hurry-up mode "because we have to get this done to get it qualified for the ballot in time?"  Check. Again, it's a list of projects but you are really just voting for a pot of money.  They can change that list but that really isn't my worry. It's that this high-cost, long-term project has not been walked through in a clear and deliberate manner.  What is it that is being accomplished and what does that mean down the road? I note that the West Seattle Blog was at the BEX IV public hearing yesterday and it appears from their reporting, that the speakers list wasn't full.  That's not a surpris

Seattle Teacher Residency Program

I have heard rumblings about this program and this press release does little to assuage them.  The Alliance for Education, Seattle Public Schools, and the University of Washington College of Education on Oct. 24 announced the addition of the Seattle Education Association as the fourth partner in launching the Seattle Teacher Residency.  Urban Teacher Residency United, ( ), based in Chicago, is the national network of the highest-performing residency programs. UTRU Executive Director Anissa Listak said, “This is the first time we’ve seen a residency launch with this set of players at the table. It bodes very well for the success and efficacy of the initiative.”  My first question is - why is the Alliance for Education involved?  This is NOT their area of expertise at all.  I have to wonder about their growing role in SPS which I find troubling.   Urban teacher residency programs, pioneered over the last decade in Boston, Chicago, Denver and el

Can UW Be Promoting I-1240?

You may have heard of the Partnership for Learning, yet another business-based ed reform group.   They have just put out a document called Examining Charters: How public charter schools can work in Washington State.   It "examines" charters in other states and comes to the astonishing conclusion that we need them here in Washington State. However, upon a quick read, I came upon a troubling issue. It was written with the help of UW's Center on Reinventing Public Education.  Actually, the whole thing was written by CRPE's staff.  Why is this a problem? Because they reference I-1240 about 10 times as a good charter law and the entire document promotes charters.  That would seem to be UW endorsing I-1240.   Why is a publicly-funded university promoting an initiative?  That would seem to be a misuse of public funds especially since the entire promotional document was written by UW employees. Something to ask the State Auditor about, I think. 

Scare Tactics

It's funny but that's what the Yes to 1240 side says constantly.  That people who point out the obvious outcomes of 1240 are using scare tactics.  Or "what are you scared of? It's just 40 schools."  Okay, so in real time, in real experience, here's what's happening in other states: number one on the hit parade is the state of Georgia where their charter ballot measure is about enshrining their charter commission into their constitution.   You'd think a state's constitution would be about questions for the ages but apparently not.   What happened is they DID have a charter commission which then got ruled unconstitutional by their Supreme Court and so now there are some who feel, in order to keep charters going, they have to put it into their constitution.  The story here via Salon : In March, the Georgia Department of Education released  an in-depth report  showing that students in the state’s charter schools perform worse than those in t

Dear Seattle Times

The Times printed a story this morning that I was interviewed - extensively -for by Linda Shaw.  I was told it was about 1240 but apparently, from the headline and the contents, it is a piece about Lisa Macfarlene with a little bit of background "color".   I would link it but I am not going to give the Times any help.  You know how to find their website.  I sent the Linda, Brian Rosenthal and the Executive Editor, David Boardman, this e-mail this morning.  It's sad because I know and respect all of them.  Dear Linda, That was quite the interesting article this morning which I was told, by you, would be about 1240.  Clearly, it is largely about Lisa Macfarlane (and that's the second time in a week the Times' has printed her photo).  I spent considerable time talking with you and frankly, you wasted my time.  That won't happen again. I have been a good source for various Times' reporters over the years.  That ends today.  Please do not call me

What is the Alliance for Education?

I'm confounded by the Alliance for Education. I don't know what it is anymore. At one time the Alliance was all about fundraising for Seattle Public Schools. It raised money for the District through it's own events and promotional activities and it acted as fiscal agent for school-related causes. That's it. No politics, no policy, just raised money for the District.

No on I-1240 Op-Ed in Seattle Times

Will wonders never cease! The Seattle Times printed a guest editorial in opposition to I-1240 and it is a pretty good one. Op-ed: Reject Initiative 1240 and sending public money to charter schools by Mari Taylor, Vice President of the Washington State School Directors’ Association and a current member of the Lake Stevens School District Board of Directors.

Tuesday Open Thread

A new group has come about called the Community Forums Network .  They have a survey going until October 28th to ask about spending on K-12 education.  They have rather an interesting way to reward you - you get to select a nonprofit organization to receive points towards earning a grant. I think this could be an interesting start to better public engagement and consensus building so it's worth a look at. Hey, it's just two weeks until election day.  How are you feeling about this election season - too long, too short?  I note that both President Obama and Mr. Romney diverged off the foreign policy topic last night and talked education for a bit.  Mr. Romney right away went for the tired "teachers union" point, vaguely mentioned vouchers (without saying the word) and tried to take credit for success in Mass. that happened before he was Governor.  President Obama was not all that much better but he talked about trying to hire more math/science teachers AND gave

Odd Corners of I-1240

There are some potential consequences of I-1240 which have not been much discussed.

More Special Ed Coverage

KUOW also has a report on Special Education in SPS.  It is heartbreaking and, to me, confusing. Confusing because in the first story, about a little boy named Ryder, it labels him as being on the "autism spectrum."  It states he received services in  preschool and yet, he can't get them in SPS?  If he has a diagnosis, then he should be receiving services. Then there is another child in the story, Tenzin, who also has autism and yet he can't get something simple like instructions in a written form.  (I was able to get that for my son in high school and that was multiple teachers and no one called it a problem.)  His mom says, "...the quality of special education in Seattle schools depends too much on how well a school’s principal understands the federal law that guarantees services to kids with disabilities."  It shouldn't be that way.    This almost seems to echo DeBell's comment about how expensive it is to serve Special Ed students.  We

College Scholarships for Student with ADHD

Following up on the thread about the report in the Times on Special Ed, a scholarship just for students with ADHD.  It's called the Shire 2013 ADHA Scholarship Program: The Shire ADHD Scholarship recognizes and supports individuals with ADHD in the US who are seeking to obtain higher education. The Scholarship includes a $2,000 monetary award and a prepaid year of ADHD coaching from the Edge Foundation to assist in the transition to higher education. Fifty recipients will be selected in 2013, based on community service, volunteer and extracurricular activities, and a personal essay describing how ADHD has impacted their lives. Shire, a global specialty biopharmaceutical company, sponsors the Scholarship as part of its work to support patients who are diagnosed with ADHD, their families, and the professionals who help them. T

Name That...World's Largest Diameter Tunneling Machine

This would be the one to create the tunnel for State Route 99 downtown.  So funny but yes, a contest for kids so tell yours to have at it.  From DOT: Here’s a riddle for the kids of Washington state: What do you call the record-breaking, dirt-chomping, future-changing machine that will begin tunneling beneath downtown Seattle next summer? Answer: You tell us. The Washington State Department of Transportation kicked off a statewide contest today for kindergarten through 12 th grade students to name the machine that will dig the State Route 99 tunnel to replace the waterfront section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Crews in Japan are putting the finishing touches on the machine, which – at five stories tall – will be the world’s largest to date. The winning name will be painted on the machine and the contest winner will be invited to attend the dedication event next year in Seattle. “This project will be a great benefit for future generations, and that’s why we’re turning to t

Seattle Times and I-1240

Okay. We get it. The Seattle Times endorses initiative 1240. Boy, do they ever. They have run a string of editorials in support of it and they have hosted two live chat events for it. This latest stunt should not have surprised me, but it did. The Times editorial board invited folks to send a tweet about I-1240 to their twitter account @seatimesopinion  with the hashtag #I1240. I sent a few. I'm sure other folks sent some in opposition to the initiative. The Times wrote : " We asked readers to share 140-word editorials on Twitter about the Washington state charter school initiative on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot, Initiative 1240. Here are some of the tweets you shared with us ." Yet the only six tweets to get through their filter were five that were in favor of I-1240 and a cryptic one that appears neutral. Newspapers have editorial boards and they have opinion columns. We're supposed to pretend that their opinion doesn't influence the news that we see from t

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, October 22nd Road Map to College : College Application Event from 2:30-8:00 p.m. at Franklin High School Wednesday, October 23rd Public Comment on SPS Levies - BEX IV and Operations from 4-5 p.m. at JSCEE This is a legally mandated public hearing the district must have for all levies.  Unfortunately, they don't say how long the speaking period is but I suspect it is about 2 minutes.  I recall that President DeBell said they had spots for between 20-25 speakers.  You sign up at the time of the hearing. Work Session on Creative Approach Schools from 5-6:30 p.m. (right after the public hearing) Community Conversation to Support Student Success at Nathan Hale High School from 5:30-7:00 p.m. A Parent Discussion:Alternatives to Truancy, Suspension and Discipline The District Ombudsman, in collaboration with staff from Disciplinary Appeals, the Truancy Office and School-Family Partnerships/Equity & Race, invites families to participate in discussions to addr

Times' Investigation of Special Ed in SPS

A lengthy and troubling report by Brian Rosenthal of the Times on Special Ed and SPS.

The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland; Useful for Today's Politics

The Wizard of Oz was published in 1900.  Alice in Wonderland was published in 1865.  But their usefulness in politics? Timeless. So many phrases describe what we see every day.  Down the Rabbit Hole.  Advice from the Caterpillar.  Don't mind that man behind the curtain.  Not in Kansas anymore.   The Mock Turtle on education:  Reeling and Writhing, of course, to begin with, and then the different branches of arithmetic -- Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision. "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all." We are seeing all this play out via charter schools and the somewhat ugly discussion about them in our state.  Stand for Children, the Tim
Let's start this conversation about BEX (again).  I like the BEX staff that I know.  They are bright and hard-working.  A few of the very problematic people are gone and that is truly a good thing.  That said, I have never been confident in the choices that the BEX staff has made over the years. Here are my problems with how BEX staff works.  One, there never seems, despite their use of the word "scenarios", any real evidence that you see them saying "if A, then, B but what about this ripple to C".   No school is an island and there are ramifications to all these choices and it's NOT just about capacity.  

Friday Open Thread

Reminders for Saturday: Board Community Meetings: DeBell from 9-11am at Cafe Appassinato Family Symposium / Road Map to College Event at Chief Sealth High School from 10 am- 3 p.m. Good News in SPS: Hawthorne Community raised more than $11K to "reimagine" their library. Roosevelt High School's Hands for a Bridge program received the World Educator award from the World Affairs Council.  The program is being recognized for " its dedication to increasing global awareness and fostering dialogue about issues surrounding social justice." SPS's LGBT Families Dinner is Thursday, November 9th from 6-8 p.m. at NOVA/World School at Meany.  Dinner is provided.  Questions and RSVP to Lisa Love at 252-0982 or with how many people in your group or for more information.  What's on your mind?  

Sylvester Cann and I-1240

There was some interest in hearing more about this candidate (from the 46th) and his views on charter schools.  This is particularly important because he is one of Stand for Children's candidates and naturally, they generally only fund people who share their views.  (They are going after Senator Rosemary McAuliffe of the 1st Legislative district in an aggressive and harsh way.) The Maple Leaf Community Council had their candidate/issues forum last night. First up were Sylvester Cann and Gerry Pollet.  Gerry was quite clear from his opening remarks that he is against charters and particularly why he is against 1240.  Cann only spoke generally about education in his remarks but got asked, right out the gate, what is your stand on charters?  He said: - it wasn't an easy issue and "his favorite question this campaign) - "my official position is that I do not support charter schools" and that he was voting NO on 1240 (but didn't say exactly why) - h

Support for NO on 1240 Rising

Stats from the latest KCTS-9 Washington Poll (via The Stranger Slog): Initiative 1240 – Charter Schools Yes 47.5% No 39.2% Undecided 13.3% That is a slight drop for Yes, a slight rise for No and a LOT of undecideds (which is pretty much what I see out there on the campaign trail).  There's a lot of pondering to be done between now and Election Day but I think Elway polling may be right - initiative support tends to drop as you get closer to it. Other initiatives: Referendum 74 – Marriage Equality Yes 56.3% No 35.6% Undecided 6.1% Initiative 502 – Legalizing and Regulating Marijuana Yes 50.9% No 40.8% Undecided 8.3% Initiative 1185 – 2/3 Majority to Raise Taxes Yes

On-Line Debate on 1240 Today at Noon

The Seattle Times is having a live chat at noon today, Thursday, Oct. 17th, with Professor Wayne Au, from UW Bothell, opposing I-1240 and Shannon Campion, from some organization supporting 1240. About Professor Au: He is an assistant professor in the education program at the University of Washington, Bothell. He is an editor for the progressive education magazine, Rethinking Schools . He is the author of numerous books, chapters, and articles, and his research focuses on issues of equality and justice in education. Our moderators are Times reporter Linda Shaw and myself. Feel free to send questions in advance to or . Get those questions in!

Seattle School Board - NO on 1240

I couldn't stay but it was on Twitter; the Board said No to 1240. It was a unanimous vote.  Details to come (but if you have input, let us know).  They are the school board for the largest district in the state.  Combine that with Superintendent Banda's no, it's a pretty effective one-two punch. Others saying No to 1240: Sally Clark Both Leg candidates from the 46th: Gerry Pollett  and Sylvester Cann

From STEM to Arbor Heights

We have been asked to relay this message: Dear Arbor Heights Community, I wanted to thank you for giving the STEM community the opportunity to speak at the Oct 17th School Board Meeting. The fact that you so gracefully ceded your spot to another parent so we could speak to the board speaks volumes about the amazing people you are. We were so disappointed to only have spots on the wait list, so this was truly a gift you gave our community. We are so hopeful that your communities zealous advocacy on behalf of your children and families will pay off. With hope, respect, and big props, Robin Graham Co-President K-5 STEM

Pinehurst Parents' Response to BEX IV Levy

From the Save Pinehurst group: We hastily formed a new Pinehurst K-8 BEX Levy Committee in response to the following in a letter sent  to the entire School District on October 9, 2012 from Superintendent José Banda. The Seattle School District (BEX IV Levy Team and School Board) has yet to talk with the Pinehurst K-8 community on next steps. We are aware that they have meet with Jane Addams K-8 and other schools over the last few months, including this week. We request the same courtesy and consideration to meet with them ASAP and collaborate on a solution for preserving the 40+ year history of the Pinehurst K-8 alternative school. We are aware that time is of the essence since the Board will be voting on the BEX IV Levy soon. "Jane Addams K-8: Move to Pinehurst K-8 and open Jane Addams building as a middle school by 2015. We will work with the Pinehurst community on next steps for the school." Solutions proposed by our school community: •Keep Pinehurst K-8 in our

The Stranger Says NO to 1240

In their usual no-nonsense manner, The Stranger laid out its opposition to 1240, pretty much calling it smoke and mirrors. If there were a single credible, independent, peer-reviewed study to suggest that charter schools do a better job of educating children than traditional public schools, we might drop our opposition to this measure. But there isn't. A widely cited Stanford University study finds that 17 percent of charters do substantially better, while 37 percent do substantially worse. Maybe it's our public-school education, but we don't like those odds. I-1240 would draw scarce funding from existing public schools, while handing control over these dollars from elected school boards to private boards. A petition signed in secret by a majority of a school's parents could initiate the conversion of your neighborhood school to a charter school, but there's no like provision to convert a charter school back to a public school. Charters are nominall

Wednesday Open Thread

So, some high drama tonight at the Board meeting.  From the speakers list (with a long wait list), we see most of it is over the resolution for a No on 1240 from the Board.  Judging from the names I recognize that would seem to be in agreement with this resolution, the Board will get lots of encouragement (although I do see a few that will disagree and I'll be interested to hear their argument). Unfortunately, there are 4 TFA people on the list apparently to endorse the latest hiring of one TFAer (which no one else is protesting).  It sure would be nice if they gave up those spots to parents with BEX concerns.  If I hear enough good words in support of the No on1240 resolution, I will give up my spot. I am actually hoping the Board, while discussing the resolution, does make some statement about groups that try to stifle their right to speak out on election issues that directly affect our district and the Board's work overseeing our district.  Neither Stand for Children o

Keep Your Eye on the Bouncing BEX Ball

 Two more updates. This from the Board agenda as a change to the BEX list - an addition of RBHS for seismic issues and I note the new amount is at $694.9M. Also, below are notes from a parent who attended a meeting at Jane Addams last night.  This is THEIR reading of what they heard. Anyone else attend who heard the same or different? Here are a few details about the BEXIV bombshell delivered last night at a meeting at Jane Addams. District Staff present included Pegi McEvoy, Lucy Morello, Kim Whitworth. Sharon Peaslee was also there, as were at least two FACMAC members. The Jane Addams K-8 community rejected the Oct 10th proposal, because the enlarged Pinehurst building proposed to house their program was only adequate for 2 classrooms per grade at elementary and 3 cohorts per grade at middle school. The Jane Addams K-8 BEX Task Force group met with District Staff on Friday, and explained to them that the program must have 3 classrooms/cohorts per grade, K-8, in o

Stand for Children Tells Board to Sit Down and Shut Up

Amazing.  Not only is Stand for Children NOT a "education group"; now they are against basic democracy. Here's what they said yesterday: "Ask Seattle Public Schools to let the people lead on charter schools.  Instead of waiting to see what the will of the voters is, the Seattle School board wants to preempt our right to decide. That's not what we want from our elected officials" (And I note they didn't put this on their blog but in a super secret message to their supporters.)  But let's look at that request. We elect people to make decisions on whatever entity they represent.  That's their job.  And, we ask public officials - all the time - about their stands on issues.  Jay Inslee, Rob McKenna, everyone. And yet, Stand believes that somehow the Board is to stand mutely by over an issue that will directly affect every single child in SPS (and the taxpayers of Seattle).  How much reasoning is there in that thought?  I submit there is


Whoever the person is that has the phone number that I mistakenly put down for the Board office number, I apologize. I have typed the real number for years, never gotten it wrong but I sure did here.  I apologize for the inconvenience it caused you and promise to always double-check phone numbers in the future.

Check Out Google Today

An interactive (and very cute) tribute to Little Nemo in Slumberland that your younger kids will enjoy.

How the District Cheats Four Schools

There are four schools which are cheated by the District every year. They are South Lake, The Center School, The NOVA Project, and The World School. These are high schools which are not funded in accordance with the Weighted Staffing Standard used to fund every other high school. Instead of getting the funding that they are supposed to get, these schools get much, much less. High schools with enrollment under 800 are supposed to be funded with these staff positions: High School Staffing for schools with less than 800 students (AAFTE) Principal 1.0 Asst. Principal 1.0 Admin. Secretary (260) 1.0 Data Registrar (220) 1.0 Attendance Spec. (201) 1.0 Fiscal Specialist (220) 1.0 Activity Coordinator 1.0 Nurse 0.8 Counselor* (per 400 students) 1.0 Librarian 1.0 Academic Intervention Specs 1.0 These schools, however, are not allotted these staff positions. These schools are singled out to be intentionally underfunded. You might think it is because they are small schools, but Rainier Beach

What They Say vs What They Do

Tell me that I'm not the only one troubled by the wide gap between what the District leadership says - mostly the Board, but senior staff as well - and what they do. They say that they are committed to transparency, but they never offer any. We went through this long process for the BEX IV plan with all kinds of community meetings and you would think that every idea was aired and discussed, but then, at the 11th hour, they interject this weird Jane Addams to Pinehurst idea. It comes out of nowhere and there's no time left to discuss it. And what, exactly, is the process for program placement decisions? What is the rationale behind under-funding the "non-traditional" schools? They say that they are committed to community engagement, but look at the motions that come before the Board. The vast majority of them have had no community engagement at all. The Board's primary community engagement, public testimony, has been squeezed and reduced and diminished. They

Hot Week for Seattle Schools

Monday, October 15th Superintendent Banda will be busy as he bounces from the Seattle Special Education PTA meeting and the Seattle Council PTA meeting .  Both are from 7-9 p.m. The Seattle Council meeting is in the auditorium but it is unclear where the Special Ed PTA is meeting.  I'll find out and post it. The Seattle Council PTA meeting includes Q&A on I -1240.  It also includes a presentation of the BEX IV levy. Tuesday, October 16th Operation Committee Meeting from 4-6 p.m.  Agenda .  To note, Pegi McEvoy will give an update on the BEX IV levy to the group.  Other items include the Student Assignment plan for 2013-2014. Wednesday, October 17th School Board meeting.  Agenda . A rather important one as this will introduce the BEX IV levy list AND the Board will vote on a resolution of a NO against I-1240.  I suspect quite a run for the speakers list especially from those supporting charters and the downtown folks. To get on the speakers list, e-mail at boa