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?


Anonymous said…
Is there polling that indicates whether $700M will pass this Feb.? That is a hefty price tag when put together with the operations levy. That BEX creeped up past $650M means that the city of Seattle is looking at over a billion dollars. Is this really going to pass? The District needs the money, but there may be a limit to the willingness to self-tax, especially with that equalization syphon, which will suck dollars to places that don't face the same aging infrastructure or capacity crunch as Seattle faces.

-polling numbers, please
Anonymous said…
I don't know how to do proper links, but I saw this story on MSNBC this morning and wanted to post it.

Who knew that charter school principals could get golden parachutes? Yes, this is at one school, but it's what happens when you combine business principles with education.

-no charters in WA
Charlie Mas said…
Here's a link to the story.
Anonymous said…
No charters-
I was about to post a link to the exact same story :)
Unknown said…
No, no polling yet on BEX that I know. The district may have some internal polling (maybe the Alliance paid for it?) but hasn't released it. Good question to ask.

Yes, over $1B is huge (especially since we are also taxing for libraries, seawall, fingerprinting, a new juvenile justice center, etc.). Is there a breaking point for Seattlites and, if so, where is it?

Google "charter schools and financial scandals" and feast your eyes. It's all out there and it's nationwide.
Frustrated about homework said…
Homework policies are on my mind. How much is being assigned to kids in each grade, what are the consequences if homework isn't done, and which schools do or don't have a homework policy as mandated by the district? (Policy 2422)
Unknown said…
Is Linda Shaw trying to make a statement about her journalistic independence in this morning's article about Seattle Times pro McKenna ad?

It could be Shaw was planning to do this earlier, but I'm also wondering if MW's letter earlier in the week drew some blood.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said…
Anonymous, you need to sign your comment or it will be deleted. Aaack!
Unknown said…
@Jack Whelan,

I saw that Linda Shaw truth needle, and it provided me with the laugh of the day. Who can figure that out?

Is this a show of audacity coming from a reporter against the business end of the paper? If so, why not go for the "not true," instead of just the the wishy-washy "half true." Is it testing the firewalls between business, news, and editorial departments? Is it an attempt to placate critics and continue with the "business experiment?" Are they intending to sell ads to future political campaigns and then subject them to the truth needle? And what about Naomi?

Tune in next week for the next installment of "The Seattle Times pays for partisan political ads in its own paper."

It boggles my mind. In this very strange political season, the Seattle Times wins the award for the strangest political story of all.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said…
Just copy and past it into a new comment, and give yourself a pseudonym, like "---SpEd On My Mind"
Jamie said…
Anon, just click the button under the comment box that says "Name/URL" and type a name in - you can leave the URL box blank. Any name is fine - I just typed Jamie and it shows up above your comment. Make sense? You will need to copy and paste your comment again - I don't believe you can go back in and sign the first one, but I could be mistaken.
sped on my mind said…
Special Education is still on my mind...

Thank you Brian Rosenthal for shining a broad spotlight on the education "gauntlet" sped families have to endure.

I just wanted to point out to others: A speical education due process hearing can cost a family $10,000 for a "minor" case to $60,000+ for a "major" case.

There is no such thing as contingency in special ed law.

Most families leave the district to pay for private before spending $$ on lawyers to remind the district about the federal laws, discrimination,civil rights, and on and on.

Meanwhile, their kids are being damaged either mentally, physcially and/or educationally (like the poor boy whose adoptive mother didn't know the school was lying on top of him to restrain him- just like his abusive previous family).

OSPI citizen complaints are time consuming, and with many of the same issues coming up over and over, and the same Corrective Action Plans routinely ignored - again why bother.

It can take a layperson 50+ hours just assembling doucments for a due process hearing.

Due process decisions listed on OSPI are just that - decisions made by the judge.

How do we find out how many due process requests/hearings were settled (out of the public eye?).

The culture of deny or lie is damaging and those denying services, or lying about the federal law should suffer consequenses instead of our kids.

Maybe a more deep investigative report will help some.

Since we are still in the dark ages in Special ed in this city, maybe we would get some attention by showing up at JSCC with torches and pitchforks.

Where are the special ed "police"?

Maybe we should inundate the "system" with complaints and due process requests....

Maybe we should set up a public "review" of iep's.

Special education is giant hornet's nest of their own creation. And our kids are stung or suffering anaphalitic shock!

Isn't breaking federal laws a crime?
Unknown said…
sped on my mind,
I am the mom of the kid who was laid on.

SpEd is on my mind every day.

You raise a lot of valid points. It seems like there should be a way to get the school district to do better without all of us individually spending time and money on due process complaints.

Breaking federal laws for schools doesn't mean that a criminal offence occurred--in that criminal usually means that someone has to serve time in prison. The consequences of breaking federal law for schools usually means they end up in administrative hearings where the penalty is that they have to provide services that they didn't provide in the first place.

I'm not sure due process complaints can be settled out of the public eye. They have to be filed with OSPI, and then they become public record.

There are civil suits which can be settled out of the public eye, but in my view, that kind of settlement is unethical. These can involve large sums of money.

If parents win due process complaints, the school district usually ends up paying lawyer fees, as well as paying for some compensatory services. School districts can be fined for some offences, but in any case, no one usually goes to jail in these cases.
SpEd On My Mind said…
Look at the OSPI website. There are huge gaps in the numbering for due process cases.

Due process hearings that are dismissed are not listed.

Due process hearings where are resolution was reached - either by mediation or in a resolution meeting are not listed.

Due process hearings where a settlement is offered, such as tuition, etc are not listed.

I hope your son is doing well.

SpEd still on my mind said…
Also - regardless of who "wins" the District has used their inside counsel and staff.

In addition, from what I can gather, many due process hearings are handled by outside counsel, not their own inside consel.

they are paying for legal fees either thru salaries or per hour billing.

Seattle School District is "self insured" for these cases. Wonder why? Probably can't get insurance.

And think off all the resources spent in "defense" mode, covering their tracks, hiring subtitutes so staff can be prepped and then testify before the judge.

Mr. Banda has said he was surprised the District had such a large legal staff.

Anonymous said…
"Seattle School District is "self insured" for these cases."

sped on my mind, what does that mean?

sps legal seems to think nothing of hiring very expensive outside firms wit our tax payer dollars to compensate for their own clients -- their education directors and sped supervisors-- lack of motivation to settle matters before it's too late. i've been in many school districts. this one is the worst bar none in how it treats families.

Jan said…
Jack and Mary: I read Linda Shaw's "truth needle" analysis last night, and thought it was a thump on the head with a thimble, where a punch in the nose is what was needed. I thought "mostly false" or "false, unwarranted conclusions even though some of the underlying facts were true" would have been better summaries than the weak "half true." It had the same "false equivalence" feel that I get from the cable channels when they try to somehow "air" two sides of a controversy, when one side is a false smear campaign, and the other side is an honest defense. I have no clue whether this really is the reporting staff being miffed at the dreadful light that the corporate side's ad has put their integrity in -- or all part of a "show of impartiality" and fake integrity in an organization that is now hopelessly entangled in compromised ethics.
Jan said…
Melissa and Charlie: it's been a long week, and I am no longer thinking clearly, so maybe you can figure this out. If 1240 passes and survives the legal challenges, what do you suppose would happen with a conversion at an interim site? Could L@L "convert" to charter status and "take over" Lincoln? Could AH wait until it got to an interim site, and then just convert and refuse to leave? This may be moot, as most interim sites are pretty beat up and are farther from neighborhoods than kids would otherwise be -- in all likelihood, L@L (and AH) would wait until they get their new buildings, and then just vote to take that one over. But the whole thing is so poorly thought out -- it was so clearly done only with the objective of amassing public money for the use of the charter school, and solving rent problems, with absolutely NO thought given to the realities of how districts allocate and use capital assets.
mirmac1 said…
But Jan! According to the Exec Dir of CRPE (paid experts on charters), I-1240 is one of the BEST laws in the Nation!
Maureen said…
JanI'm not sure it's worth worrying too much about L@L (I can't think how they could write a proposal that would get by the approving commission). I do hope someone downtown is thinking about what to do when South Shore, Aki and Rainier Beach get approved as charters and still get to keep their % of levy money. I would worry about Arbor Heights and Mercer, but I figure there are too many experienced teachers there for a conversion to work (maybe a parent conversion at AH? But you are right-AH should wait for their new building). Pinehurst and Thornton Creek are possibilities, but I'm not sure the charter advocates would be want to approve the sort of school they would propose, at least in the first batch.

The Yes people keep saying that there has to be community input before conversions are approved, but we know that LEV has their 'coalition' all lined up to cover that for South Shore at least.

Too bad the adhesive problem at South Shore is all solved. Maybe they should be moved somewhere else 'temporarily' so that can be checked out. It drives me nuts that that beautiful new building might be taken out of SPS control.
Anonymous said…
It IS, one of the BEST laws in the transfering the commenwealth into private pockets!

Anonymous said…
Sped on my mind asked, "Where are the special ed police?"

We are working with your children.

We are sped teachers, IAs, SLPs, OTs and PTs. We are frequently as ignored and dismissed as you are. When we push the envelope, we are retaliated against via involuntary transfers. So, the foot patrol continues its work but the citizenry (you, the parents) needs to remain vigilant.

You do seem to have the attention of the new chief and many of us have high hopes his professionalism will make the difference.

Charlie Mas said…

If I-1240 passes then Arbor Heights could convert to a charter. If AH did it while they were at an interim site, then, I believe, they would take over the interim site.

Conversion is not, however, granted on demand. There are some big contingencies.

First, they would still have to make application and win approval from an authorizer.

Then they would have to be one of the eight charters allowed that year (although there is some question as to whether conversions count towards the 40).

Those are both big hurdles and rife with uncertainty.

But why would they do it while they are at the interim site? That way the school would not be in the neighborhood and they would be taking the action and getting a shoddy space just as their own building was under renovation. That's not the right time for this action at all.

If AH did it before they were moved, they could demand about 1% of the BEX IV levy or $7 million, which wouldn't help them at all.

I don't see an upside.

As for L@L or APP@L, or whatever that program is called, they could not continue to be APP if they went charter, so that would defeat their purposes as well.

The only schools that would benefit from conversion would be those that are in good shape structurally and feel threatened by the District somehow. Among the candidates I would list every alternative school - but Queen Anne and NOVA only AFTER they get their BEX IV work done.

I would also list JSIS. That would make it an option school, allow it to manage its enrollment, and allow it to give preference to siblings currently enrolled students. That's the one at the top of my likely conversion list. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose from conversion.

I would add Graham Hill and Leschi if they wanted to go completely Montessori.

Those are insurgencies. There is also the possibility of a hostile takeover.

I think Madrona K-8 is a potential target for a takeover by an outside group. That school is so small (enrollment 275 or 286 if you count the pre-school) and the population so transient that it would be easy for an outside group to move in with a couple hundred students and take it over. South Lake, with an enrollment of 127 and Lowell with 182 are also potential takeover targets due to their low enrollment. Even Rainier Beach High School, with an enrollment of only 407, is a potentional takeover target.

Any committed group with about 200 students could move into a seriously under-subscribed school and convert it away from the current community. I'm thinking mostly about church groups but there are other communities that might want to take over a school. This be an opportunity for a Waldorf School or maybe Seattle Girls School. Not that they would. Maybe it wouldn't pencil out for them. Maybe they wouldn't be interested.

Here's another possibility that's half insurgency and half takeover with a bit of interim site mixed in: What if the German school in John Marshall building did it?

I have been thinking a lot of different things along these lines. It could be a blog post of its own, but it is ALL conjecture.
Anonymous said…
L@L's school is technically Lowell at Capitol Hill, since APP hasn't been officially separated from the Lowell building/school. The vote to convert would then have to be from a majority of teachers from both sites.
Anonymous said…
Hummm... How about Hamlin Robinson school (yes, it is private) that is a tenant in the TT Minor property? It is a stretch, but where there is a will, there is a way. Lots of fennaygelling but creative souls can always get a work around going.

--signed, where there's a will, there's a way
interesting scenarios said…
It would take about 30 teachers at Eckstein to vote for a conversion & take the school out of district hands. They could cut the incoming classes by 250 kids a year. It's not a great building, but they are unlikely to get a better one anyway.

Or how about a school who wants to get rid of their principal like Bryant. It would only take 16 teachers at Bryant to vote for conversion. They could change the management & limit incoming classes.
Unknown said…
Charlie is right but I don't think a conversion charter is any bigger hurdle (from the authorizer's viewpoint). Meaning, the petition is merely one more item on the checklist to them.

There is NOTHING in 1240 that says they have to consider anything else in a conversion charter.

There is no public notice to parents or teachers or community that a charter group is considering this.

The reason for a charter group to go after a school? It's facilities, facilities, facilities, It's the number ONE problem for charters around the country and the opportunity to take a NEW building? Priceless. So Charlie's idea of South Shore or JSIS make sense to me.

And that Eckstein idea? Maybe. I think desperate or unhappy people can be sweet-talked into a lot of things with a lot of promises.

Endless possibilites (or tragedies ) depending on how you view it.
Unknown said…
And by the way, the Yes side has publicly berated and insulted me on points about 1240. They claim that the No side hasn't read it, is being disingenuous, doesn't understand legal terms, etc.

We had a lawyer read it (more than one). We know what we are seeing (and not seeing - I don't call it vague for nothing).

So anything I say about the initiative, ASK ME where I read it. Unlike the Yes side, I WILL tell you where it is and why I believe my reading is correct.
Anonymous said…
I just don't get why charter supporters think it is great to have site-based management for charters after they expended so much energy supporting the move to get rid of it in the district.

Eckstein parent
Unknown said…

Thanks for fighting the good fight against a well-funded behemoth of corporate charter interests and thanks for sticking with it despite their personal attacks. You have my admiration.
suep. said…
Speaking of South Shore, isn't that pretty charterish already? It has extra foundation funds in a "public-private partnership," a high FRL population, pre-k and wraparound services, a principal who fully backs TFA. How has that worked out? Is it considered a success story?
Anonymous said…
Staff cuts, I don't get it. Maybe if the District could be.... oh, I don't know.... a tab bit more TRANSPARENT?

According to the District's data, Gatewood and APP@Lincoln are the only 2 schools loosing a teacher and a half PCP teacher, Madrona and Gatzert are loosing a teacher.

Gatewood's revised projection was 485 and they came in at 461, a net loss of 24 students, eg., an entire class worth of kids. Gatzert was project for 405 and came in at 378, a net loss of 27 kids, eg., an entire class of kids, and so they are having a teacher 'pulled'. Madrona was projected for 315 and came in at 275, a net loss of 40 kids, eg, a classroom and a half; they are having 1 teacher 'pulled'.

And then there is APP@Lincoln. Their projection was for 521, and they hired for 521 in the summer, and they came in at 524, a net GAIN of 3 students. So, why are they loosing a homeroom teacher and half a PCP teacher? Were they told the 'wrong rules' in the first place to do their hiring? Or, did they follow protocol and protocol changed? Or, did protocol just change for them because they are 'special'? Arrrrgghh, why can't the District be transparent? In the absence of transparency, we are all left to ponder the whys, and, we may conclude this is haphazard and inconsistent. Which it may or may not be.

-signed, transparency please
Anonymous said…
Madison Middle is losing staffing as well. Here is part of a letter to concerned parents from Executive Director Carmela Dellino, regarding the overenrolled science classes at Madison.

“Thank you for contacting us regarding the Science situation at Madison Middle School. I know that two of the Science classes have had a substitute since the beginning of the year. The Science Department Head and other Science teachers have been providing ongoing support to the substitute in those classes. Mr. Carlisle was set to interview for the position and then on Oct. 11th learned of a staffing adjustment. Unfortunately, at the October 1st deadline, Madison Middle School did come under projected enrollment, which resulted in a need for the school to reduce staffing. How that staffing adjustment is made is the responsibility of the principal. Of course, Mr. Carlisle would seek out the input from his Assistant Principal, the BLT, and the entire staff. I know that he has established the procedures to determine what is the best course of action so that all students are served with a high quality education."

-I was there
Anonymous said…
My children have never been in a class smaller than 28. For the last few years, and also this year, they are in a class of 34 students. They are in elementary schools in the north end. One of them was in a split grade class for 3 years out of the last 4. I know the district could be better managed, but I'm pretty sure they are not targeting APP. Every school is dealing with cuts in budgets. There is just not enough money. I wasn't going to say anything but there seems to be several posts from APP parents about losing the one teacher in every open thread. Perhaps it might be more beneficial to spend your energy on finding a solution for the district's severe budget shortfall, instead of on trying to prove your program is being unfairly treated. And no, I am not resentful or jealous of APP families. All of my children qualified
for the program during their K year. We chose to stay at their current schools because they were happy there.
We all need to think of ways to get more money for the state so they can stop cutting education funding. I know it would be difficult to pass a state income tax, but what if we couple the income tax with a reduction of the sales tax; say a 6% income tax, and a sales tax reduced to 5%? Or perhaps we can try to pass a city income tax for Seattle only, then we won't have to worry about all the people in Eastern & Central areas voting no.

n said…
Thanks, Jamie. I didn't know that either! Much easier.
n said…
Everything gets so convoluted. That member list of launchers doesn't give me much faith in the outcome. As a union member, I'm wondering why I don't know about this from Jonathan.

If there is a union member (or rep like me) that has heard about this, I'm all ears (or eyes in this case!). Thanks.

And all that money going to Alliance for Ed . . . it just doesn't stop. Imagine how much that money could help children instead of promoting the ideas of rich people.
n said…
Sorry. That comment was meant for a different thread.
Josh Hayes said…
There was a meeting up at Pinehurst yesterday (Friday), attended by Director Peaslee and a handful of JSCEE staff types -- I was not there, so what I say here is hearsay, but we were apparently told that there is NO PLAN, period, to throw Pinehurst K-8 out of the building before the end of NEXT school year (that is, before June of 2014). Director Peaslee said this, and when told that Director DeBell had denied it, turned to a facilities staff member and asked them directly, and we were then told that we're still in the building for this academic year and the following academic year.

What this means for crowding, and all that, I cannot say. Sharon P said that she wants to keep Pinehurst in its building and build a new one on the JA lot; apparently the EIS has come back and said it's okay to do that, but it's the first I've heard of THAT (I had heard that the EIS would put the kibosh on that plan, but apparently the kibosh-putters have some other reason for it).
kellie said…
@ Josh,

That is some descent news for Pinehurst and frankly a fairly realistic assessment of NE capacity. Simply put, there needs to be some space for the dominos to fall and right now there isn't any space at all.

The only way for there to be any program movement is to bring a new-new building on line, rather than a remodeled building. Remodels temporarily reduce capacity and well .. we are long past being able to do that.

I had pretty high hopes about Cedar Park as that would be a new school and might create enough room to move folks around. I hope there are some creative types that might know how to work around the landmark status.

I think a new building on the Jane Addams campus would make a lot of sense. However, it would only make sense for the new building to be a K5 and then have an academy at the middle school. A K8 and a middle school sharing a campus would be a bit odd.

I still can't believe SPS didn't take back Lake City when there was the option. I know there was an outcry about it on the blog but the need for space is getting ridiculous. Does anyone know if the Lake City building is still an option?
Anonymous said…
I think a K-5 on the Jane Addams upper field with an environmental sciences academy within the Jane Addams MS is something the surrounding neighborhood schools would rally behind.

At John Rogers, we have a strong emphasis on science, and environmental sciences in particular. A STEM or STEAM middle school with an environmental sciences academy within it would probably be very well-received by our community.

I know there has been a lot of concern amongst the parents at our school regarding how SPS is going to launch a middle school from scratch, and building upon the program that is already in the Jane Addams building would help tremendously with that issue.

Also, I totally agree about Cedar Park and the Lake City School properties being needed. The Lake City area is growing by leaps and bounds. John Rogers added 60 kids just this year!

-JR Mom
Anonymous said…
@Kellie and JR Mom-

The upper (north) field at Jane Addams is used by community sports teams. Can we really afford to lose more field space in the NE?

-North End Mom
Anonymous said…
@Molly on the reply to "Sped on my mind" ("Where are the special ed police?"0.

You said "We are working with your children.We are sped teachers, IAs, SLPs, OTs and PTs. We are frequently as ignored and dismissed as you are. When we push the envelope, we are retaliated against via involuntary transfers. So, the foot patrol continues its work but the citizenry (you, the parents) needs to remain vigilant.

You do seem to have the attention of the new chief and many of us have high hopes his professionalism will make the difference."

Who is retaliating? How are you helping to open the new chief's eyes to this? In his public comments he seems to think that families complaints resulted in the news coverage of KUOW and the Seattle Times, even though his own staff actively were pretty obviously active contributors.

North End Mom, well, we are losing playfields at Thorton Creek. We could lose more if charters come in because charters that take over a school don't necessarily have to honor any joint use agreements with Parks.

What's one more at JA,at this rate?
Anonymous said…
Does anyone know if the environmental sciences academy within the Jane Addams MS idea has been considered by the Jane Addams K-8 community?

-JR Mom
Anonymous said…
This is exceelent news! If JA k-8 can move into a new building on the upper field it would be a win win win all around!

The JA community is committed to it's K-8ness. Although there could certainly be a benefit to both programs to have an environmental science academy within JA middle school right next door to an ESTEM k-8. The more ESTEM the better in this town. Sounds like this could offer many opportunities for collaboration.

-JA advo
JADad said…
What's the "environmental sciences academy within the Jane Addams MS" idea? How does it relate to the existing K-8 program?
JADad said…
Sorry, I just saw what you're talking about. Splitting up the K-8 school isn't the same as preserving the K-8 school, is it?
Anonymous said…
The Special Ed Post web site ("news for the special education community") posted the Seattle Times article on Seattle School District Special Education problems here:

with the title: "Is Seattle School’s Special Education Department Beyond Repair?"

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Dentist Seo said…
I think desperate or unhappy people can be sweet-talked into a lot of things with a lot of promises.
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