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?


Anonymous said…
"As you know, the creative potential is there... All it needs is the challenge and the method to liberate it. And that is the teacher’s task."

(Lebbeus Woods, visionary architect and educator, in response to complements on the quality of work produced by first year students in his design studio. Woods is reported to have died in his sleep last night at his apartment in New York City.)


Elizabeth W said…
My nine-year-old plans to go as a vampire, with fake teeth, ashen skin, green eye circles and a purple bathrobe. I did not know that's what vampires wear, but apparently they do!

My twelve-year-old is going to dress distressed and periodically make hash marks on his skin. He is going as someone who has seen the Silence and I find his costume terrifying.
Unknown said…
I have a question about the upcoming collective bargaining agreements.

I don't know much about this process, as I have been more focused on other things. It seems strange to me that somehow different organizations and parents are supposed to get involved in this...but again I don't know much about it.

I have an issue that I am told, if it is to be addressed at all, would require modifications in the collective bargaining agreements.

I happen to believe that anyone who might be involved with children in crisis on a routine basis should have specialized training to help support them. To this end, I think that Special Education teachers should be mandated to receive specialized training in de-escalation, restraint and seclusion. The state does not mandate this, but many school districts do, and many other states do.

Currently, SPS does not mandate training on de-escalation, restraint and seclusion and does not keep records on who has been trained. Nor do they even have an official recommendation on such training.

One might think that it would be obvious that this situation is absurd, but I struck by the number of people who do not think it is at all odd that teachers who may need to use such techniques in the performance of their job--techniques which may prevent crisis from happening in the first place and may cause death or serious harm if done incorrectly--are not required to take such training.

It seems that since I did not address this issue several years ago and have not rounded up administrators, staff, parents and union reps to talk about this issue for the past twelve months or so, that the train has left the station.

My questions is--is that the case--that it is too late to address this issue in collective bargaining?
mirmac1 said…
No. It is not too late. I recommend you visit the EA sites for the districts you mention. Read the clauses that address that type of training. Present to SEAAC and the Sped PTSA and they may make a formal request to the Board/Supt and SEA to include this. This should be a net zero cost proposal, so find evidence of the $aving$ in lawsuits, compensatory services, and lost education time.

The overarching requirement is a mindset that calls for positive behavioral supports and effective BIPs. You know, the vision thing. There must be the right staffing for support. There must be Supt procedures that must be followed or there will be consequences. Just because someone is trained does not mean it will happen.

Good luck Mary! : )
Anonymous said…

Public School Parent
Anonymous said…


Public School Parent
Anonymous said…
Wouldn't it be nice if the Seattle Times did an expanded story on the financial "imbalance" funding the advocacy of I-1240. Nice way for the newsroom to show that they are not beholden to the editorial page or publisher.

And then I woke up.

Unknown said…
@Public School Parent,

If there is one thing that is really upsetting about the pro-charter movement, it is the nonstop tsunami of unmatchable sums of money. And I am not just talking about $10+ million that went into the campaign for the signature gatherers, and the nonstop smarmy television and radio ads. Add to that 10 million the millions from the three prior charter school campaigns. Finally, add to that the funding by the same Gates, Bezos and Waltons of university-affiliated private agencies that write pro-charter "research," and the agencies that write standards for "high-quality" charters, and the "take-over by funding" of other private educational agencies in an attempt to legitimize the pro-charter initiative in Washington state.

Grass-roots it's not. Atomic bomb of money it is.
Anonymous said…
Thanks mirmac1 for the CAS applications. I quickly glanced through and am quite impressed (by the language anyway) of QA, NOVA and Cleaveland CAS applications. Thornton Creeks' emphpasis on writing and starting it early is intriguing. QA's CAS application (all city draw) blows me away. IT could be Bertschi, but with a much larger class size, frumpy and aging building and a terrific philosophy regarding learning, thinking, and teaching. Do this right and replicate it and SPS will take back the private school share and deliver a smack down to charters.

Anonymous said…
"Do this right and replicate it and SPS will take back the private school share and deliver a smack down to charters."

My bet is that QA Elem is getting ready to become a charter conversion; then mushroom into a

QA Parent

Anonymous said…
Is there a way for a school community to prepare a preemptive strike against the anticipation of a charter organization "infiltrating" and planting the seed via either teacher or parent community?

Is a teacher "vote" for charter implementation secret? Is the school "immediately" converted into a charter? Who does the existing staff in the school work for immediately following the vote?

That's right, I haven't read the entire initiative. I'm against it, but just curious about these things...

mirmac1 said…

Whatever it says, they don't have to follow it. And if they don't, who the heck cares...?!

Anonymous said…
Very impressive work from QAE on the CAS.

Anonymous said…
The QA CAS is hallow. There isn't anything new. It seems that their CAS is focused on QA getting to hire preferred candidates before other schools, meaning that other schools get the leftovers. Of course they are good school if they get to hire first.
Unknown said…
Oompah, I believe that the district and the PTA would have a responsibility to explain to their schools what this would mean (especially around conversion charters) should this pass. It would be very sad if parents who are busy find themselves under attack from an outside charter group and had no idea it could happen.

As to how it works, well, it's quite vague (and thus open to court challenge).

One, a charter has to submit the petition as PART of the overall application. A petition alone won't do it but for the authorizer, it's just one piece of paper as part of the application. I do not believe it makes or breaks an application. There is NOT direction to the authorizers on whether it matters if it is new or conversion except for having the petition.

Two, there is no verification process for the signatures (and this has been a HUGE issue in California) so I have no idea how valid it would be.

Three, every charter, conversion or new, HAS to have a public meeting about its application. However, there is NO mandate that a charter applicant has to say what kind of charter it will be.

If asked, where are you locating, they could demur and not say "we're taking over a school."

Only if you have savvy parents/community asking, "Are you circulating a petition to take over a current school?" would they then have to answer the question.

I find that lack of transparency troubling.

I think it would be quite possible, especially with the teachers, to circulate the petition on the downlow.

You could ask all Seattle authorizers who are the groups that are submitting a charter application and if any are conversion charters, but I see no language in the initiative where an authorizer has to disclosure that information. You could ask via public disclosure but you may not get the answer in a timely manner (as is often the case in public disclosure request).

The initiative is vague on when things happen. I would suppose that the district and the charter would work it out for the next school year to help the children, parents and staff to work out what they all will do.

Under the initiative, children at the school may stay but, of course, parents must buy into whatever the charter is putting forth. The district would have to find placement for any children and teachers leaving the school.

That, of course, impacts other schools, transportation, teacher placement, etc.
Anonymous said…
According to District news release:

...families and schools will receive their School Reports on Nov. 1, which provide a snapshot of how each of our schools is doing academically. These reports provide staff, families and the community with data that shows how each school is performing, where the school is excelling and where improvement is needed. School Reports will be available to families on Thursday at their school or online at http://bit.ly/school_reports

Anonymous said…
QA Parent wrote - "My bet is that QA Elem is getting ready to become a charter conversion; then mushroom into a K-8."

As a parent who has been a part of QAE from the beginning, an integral member on the school's CAS application team, I have never heard this mentioned and will fight it with every bone in my body if it goes that route. I’m already starting with letting every parent I know the myriad of reasons why they should vote no on I-1240

Hallow? (I assume you mean hollow). Really? Did you read anything other than the waiver section? There were countless hours from staff and parent volunteers spent to decide what mattered and aligned to the school vision, would drive outcomes, and support the learning of all children. Hiring early is in there to have the chance to really vet candidates for the PBL philosophy and train them on the SEL and PBL approach and details.

After reading all the applications, it does point out a big downside of the CAS idea. At QAE, we had a parent who basically volunteered full time to work with staff and parents on the initial ideas, gather the feedback, host input meetings, write the application, get the signatures, and submit the application. I'm sure there are other schools who would love to have that help but don't have the parent resources to do so.

QAE Parent
Charlie Mas said…
Today is October 31 and the due date for the superintendent's quarterly report to the Board on program placement as required by policy 2200, Equitable Access to Programs and Services.

The superintendent has talked a lot about equitable access to programs and services - I expect it to be a big part of his State of the District address - so one might expect that care to translate into compliance with the new policy.

One might expect that, but the District can be a surprising place.
Anonymous said…
@QAE Parent
Can you please explain why QAE wants to be an all-city draw? I thought all-city draws were being phased out to save on transportation costs?

-North End Mom
Maureen said…
North End Mom, ALL Option Schools are NOW (since the NSAP) all city draws. They do have 'geographic zones' of varying sizes (people inside the zone have 2nd preference-after sibs but before anyone else in the city). All new families throughout the rest of the city have the same chance at being admitted. However, only those who live inside the middle school attendance area for that school (which is generally bigger than the geographic zone) are eligible for transportation to the school. I think that many people believe you have to live inside the transportaion zone to have a chance of being admitted to an Option School and that is just not true.

The QAE Geo Zone (Appendix D) looks pretty big, but most of it is downtown. I don't know how many of their seats have ended up being filled through the 'all city draw.'
Anonymous said…
Maureen is correct. Anyone from anywhere in the city can apply to QAE. First preference is siblings - there are a lot! Second is geozone, then it is lottery. Transportation only for those in the McClure service area.

QAE wants to be an all city draw to ensure we have a diverse population socially, economically, racially, etc. It aligns with our Pillar of being concerned, confident, compassionate citizens of the world.

I haven't seen the numbers for this year, but in our first two years, we had plenty of kids from outside the GeoZone. But with Hay bursting at the seams and the QAE geozone basically overlying the John Hay footprint, I think this year may be lower for new students outside the geozone.

As far as transportation, I do know of at least one student outside the transportation zone who is not back at QAE this year because the family couldn't do the transportation on their own anymore. Very sad as the student was thriving in the alternative environment.

Not sure how that part will be addressed under the CAS as all initiatives are supposed to be cost neutral to SPS.

QAE Parent
Charlie Mas said…
All schools are all-city draws.

There are geographic tie-breakers for assignment and there are limited transportation zones, but all schools are all-city draws.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said…
"What is the story going on with Mr. Jeff Keller at Schmitz Park? WSB Forum is upset about him being put on leave for "breaking up an incident with a student". He seems well liked, popular and successful. Thoughts?"

First, Anonymous, add an alias or risk having your post deleted per blog rules.

Second, just a suggestion, provide a link or something so inquiring minds like mine don't have to poke around the WSB site to find what you're talking about.

Bring Mr. Keller back to Schmitz Park ASAP

Poking around the Board policy site lately, I came across this: Use of Reasonable Force. What struck me as absurd was how this is okay: "reasonable physical force may be used to protect district property." (emphasis added). But to protect students from harm...NOT OKAY?!
mirmac1 said…
Having now read through the comments, I would say there's some key missing information:

1. Did the child have a Behavioral Intervention Plan?

2. Were teachers informed of this?

3. Are teachers trained in how to follow a BIP?

4. Is there adequate monitoring at recess?

5. Was the activity in question a form of "restraint" and used in punishment or to "protect district property" (uh, students?)

6. WTH does this all mean?
Anonymous said…
Somehow, though perhaps not the precise equivalent, I can't help but reflect upon the "Lafayette incident" and the actions of the principal in that situation.

Compare and contrast the district response to an "incident" involving a teacher with that of a principal.

Oh, wait. How about principals geoghagan and king at lowell? Yes, the best response is retaliation against the reporters.

I am SO confused that I decided to move on.

I am NOT Susan Enfield

Sue in Zen Field
Charlie Mas said…
I know this taking this in another direction entirely, but the Use of Reasonable Force policy says:

"The Superintendent will annually report to the Board on the use of force."

Have we seen this report?
Anonymous said…
Wow. I came in peace and asked a question in a polite, non hostile manner. I may not be familiar with the "rules" here, or even understand how to use them. Not everyone is "Blog savvy". I used the "prove you're not a robt" test. Perhaps another layer of error message could be injected to complete "the requirements". I'm sorry, I don't use all these tools you seem to be familiar with.

Sorry to tip the tea pot, but thank you for adding your thoughts and copying my original question. It seems very puzzling and the Board Policy link was very helpful.

Thank you,

A Schmitz Park parent.
mirmac1 said…
SP Parent,

Sorry, no snark intended. Just shorthand. Still got lots of questions.

Happy Halloween!
Unknown said…
I asked for that report with one of my original public record requests. They don't have any report. They don't keep any data. They don't even have a procedure for reporting it or a form. Are you surprised?
Unknown said…
@Schmitz Park Parent,

Don't be intimidated. It's just the way it is. There was no unfriendliness meant. Comments that aren't signed get deleted.

And it took me 6 tries on my last post to prove I wasn't a robot. And I can't even understand the audio at all. I think the Captcha needs to be turned down a notch.
Syd said…
Does anyone know how to find lists of classes offered for each middle and high school? I can't find these on the school sites or the SPS site.
Anonymous said…
Nathan Hale has their course catalog available on their website.


Not sure about other schools.

If the link doesn't work, try http://halehs.seattleschools.org/ and the academics button to the left.

Charlie Mas said…

Which schools? Most of the high schools have a course catalog online. Here are a few examples. From the school web page click on Academics.


Chief Sealth

mirmac1 said…
Two interesting events today:

Work Session: District Scorecard/Operations Data Dashboard
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Oversight Work Session: Finance
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Anonymous said…
Right Mirmac - it means you can't manhandle students, ignore BIPs, and not have consequences, even if you're a beloved teacher. It's not up for a vote. Wouldn't it be great if people came to the defense of students on the receiving end of teacher abuse instead.

Another POV
Jan said…
I couldn't attend the "State of the District" press conference today (not sure I could have gotten in anyway, if invitations were required). But -- I happened to walk through the building lobby -- and there was Mr. Banda, surrounded by a crowd (including reporters), explaining why 1240 is a bad deal, not only for Seattle's kids, but all kids in our state -- and I thought RIGHT ON! Couldn't picture MGJ ever being so articulate a spokesperson for this cause.

Then, I almost stumbled into Kay Smith-Blum expounding to a reporter from either KIRO or KOMO on how bad an initiative this is (I wasn't close enough to hear everything, but it sounded to me like a reasoned, logical explanation of why charter conversions are bad -- particularly if they change the pedagological approach of a school that you may have specifically selected as appropriate for your child, only to have an unelected group of teachers or parents "change" the school.)

It was such a great moment. I felt so well served by our superintendent, and our board members. I know it's not all good all the time -- but kudos for both Mr. Banda and Kay Smith-Blum! It was a great moment to be a Seattle parent and a supporter of SPS!
mirmac1 said…
Another POV,

I have the same POV.
Anonymous said…
Jan: I've been impressed with Banda's attitude thus far. He seems like a person I can respectfully agree or disagree with, unlike his sneaky, dishonest, agenda-driven predecessors. I feel we've got a board we can work with, at long last, but the Ed Deformers instead see rain on their playground. What does it take for these interlopers to get a life and get over themselves? WSDWG
Jan said…
WSDWG: Good question. I don't know what it would take -- and we may not find out for awhile, because if I 1240 passes, they will essentially have "bought" the playground -- and then it will all be a lot worse (at least if the legal challenges fail).

Actually, maybe I do know. What it would take, I think, is for them to conclude that there is no money to be gotten (for them) in public education. If the dollars dry up, these folks will largely go away (at least their wealthy, hedgey backers will -- and once no one out there wants to pay them huge salaries to pander and spin, the voices will go away too). But it will take huge acts of voter will to dry up the dollars. Does the public have the gumption to do this? We will see, I guess.
Anonymous said…
What planet are you guys from. Do you really think ANY billionaire is into "ed reform" for the money? Nope. Not at all. The ones into the money are the ed reformers on the ground. The little money. They have convinced the big money that this is what really, really matters. The big money will never use public schools for their own kids, have no expertise in education, and have become wealthy from other things. They really believe they are doing public good. Misguided as it may be.

mirmac1 said…

You are not serious. How do you think the big money stays big? Who controls the stock market? Who has insider information? Who has bought and paid for, yes, the President of the U.S. of A.?

I must be having a nightmare. good night.
Unknown said…
C'mon Parent, you're a grownup. It's ALWAYS about money.

Ed reformers get their money from Gates, Waltons, etc. Feel free to check that out.

There is HUGE money in public education - testing, charter management, real estate, etc.

Agreed, they are misguided but not stupid.
Unknown said…
Melissa, mirmac1 and parent,

I think you all have points. But I think it is a mistake to paint all the ed reformers with the same brush about it all being about the money all the time. I don't think it started out that way with most of them.

Education is everyone's favorite whipping boy. Everyone's an expert because they all spent 12+years in education themselves. Education has suffered due to low standards for enrollment in schools of education and low pay. There is no other profession where people think that six weeks of summer school can turn them into a professional, or where people with no training or background in teaching are brought in to provide expert opinions, produce research, receive funding to furnish reform, or take over schools entirely. It's outrageous and it's unprofessional to the core.

The Walton Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation are clearly in it for the money. And probably others.

I don't see the same thing with the Gates Foundation, even though they have been driving ed reform for upwards of fifteen years. It would be easy to say that they are doing it all for the money, and certainly some of their initiatives involving technology would point that way.

On the other hand, there is evidence that a lot of their charity is not aimed at a goal of producing more money. I just can't see that with vaccinations in third world countries, efforts to eradicate AIDS, or to provide clean water. There certainly is a movement in philanthropy where social venture philanthropist feel like they have to have a hand in the changes being wrought with their money, they need measurable results quickly, and they bring the business practices and technology that they are familiar with to the issue. I certainly think that is at play with the likes of Hanauer, Gates and Bezos in education reform. I think this type is used to throwing money at issues and wreaking the change they seek, and it just hasn't happened as fast as they like. But I don't think they understand just how unethical they've become by doing what they're doing. Gates Foundation has found itself in bed with the likes of ALEC over education reform, just like other members of the the Billionaire Boys Club types, AKA Broad and Walton (free-market, union-busting, vote-suppressing, deregulating,and overall generally evil-doing all-about-the-money thugs.)

So even though these nice, charitable rich people who think they are doing us a big favor, may claim it isn't about the money, after the wash, in the gray water going down the drain, it is all about the money.

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