Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Open Thread

The Times has the most popular names for dogs in Seattle.  They had a top 10 and then by breed.  Perusing the list, I saw this:

Shih Tzu & Poodle - Charlie

Sorry, Big Guy.

What's on your mind?


mirmac1 said...

Well, he is kinda furry...

Josh Hayes said...

Do they mean a CROSS between those two? What's that, a PooTzu?

On a vaguely ed-related note, we spent the weekend in Vancouver (BC). My kids asked me, what are the schools like here? I had no idea, so I'm asking the wise readers of this forum -- oh, hell, I'll just ask ALL of you (Snap!): what are the schools like north of the border?

Charlie Mas said...

People are generally good at responding to acute or urgent issues and not so good at paying attention to chronic issues with no specific deadline. Similarly, it is easy for people to see something that stands out, but hard for folks to notice what is missing from a set.

In that spirit, I present a matter of growing concern for me.

The Board, in their governance role, is supposed to conduct these management oversight meetings. They are supposed to do some of them annually and some of them bi-annually. School board policy 1010, Board Oversight of Management, lists all of the areas the board is required to oversee (at a minimum). You'll notice that the very first item on the list is: Curriculum & Instruction.

Now take a moment and try to remember when the Board has conducted a management oversight session on Curriculum & Instruction. Can't remember one? There's a good reason for that. They have yet to do one.

They are supposed to do it annually, but in the year and a half since this policy was adopted they have yet to conduct an oversight of the district's academic programs.

I wrote to the Board about this and I was told that just such a session was scheduled for December 5. Only there is no such session scheduled.

My biggest complaint with the District - and it's at the top of a fair sized list - is that the Board fails/refuses to perform its duty. This is just what I'm talking about.

At the upcoming board meeting, the superintendent will present on program evaluation and assessment. This is no substitute for board oversight of the academic program in the District. Particularly because the title is misleading. The report is entirely about student assessment. There is no program evaluation done at all.

Let me say that again.

There is no program evaluation done at all.

The District does stuff, but they never assess its effectiveness.

Charlie Mas said...

One more note of interest about the presentation to the board about assessments:

The MAP is not listed among the formative assessments. It is listed, instead, among those for "Screening/Diagnostic/Progress Monitoring".

The District no longer even pretends that the MAP is a formative assessment, the function it was bought to fulfill.

Anonymous said...

Special Ed On My Mind.....

There's been alot of changes in special ed, but what has really changed?

3 out of 6 (?) regional supervisors "asked" to take other positions (one is now an Instructional Assistant - WoW! at maybe $10 / hr....
One is now a Asst Principal
and one is on "leave"...

Who replaced these folks? And what makes them worthy of the job?

A perm. Spec Ed Director is still not in place, the violations are continuing, and complaints are at an all time high! over a third of instructional days have already occured.

I was one of the "helpers" to a parent that just finished a nine-day due process hearing.

An outside atty was hired at a cost of $300 an hour ( 10 (?) hours a day billing for JUST THE HEARING IS $27,000 !!!!)...

This child has the most common learning disability - dyslexia - AND has a high IQ (obviously cabaple of learning).....

Add to the cost substitute teachers, atty-client planning meetings, atty-teaching staff meetings, document retrieval and production for parent and district, etc... that's a huge, huge waste of resources at the expense of a childs education....

How many other cases are coming up like this?

How many cases have their been like this - that have been 'settled' and not public record?

How many parents can't afford the costs associated with a taking the school dist. to court or don't know that they can?

Besides emotional cost, a typical due process hearing is $20,000 - $100,000 to parents.



Over a third of the instructional days have already gone by - with no leadership!!!

These are a fragile population of kids... not just the kids in diapers (tiny percentage) or major behavior problems, the majority have common learing disabilities such as dysgraphia, dyscalcula, dyslexia, etc....

For each spec ed student the dist gets "regular student" funds, + special funds, + safety net funds if the case is high cost.

Where is the $$ going - to fight the parents???


What is REALLY changing?

Who monitors these people?

mirmac1 said...

Special Ed On My Mind.....

Why ex-principal John Thorp of course, except SpEd parents have never heard or seen him. Does he exist?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous asked, "There's been alot of changes in special ed, but what has really changed?"

Well, IMHO the change is that things continue to get worse. At an IEP meeting recently, the team had no answer to several important questions I had about placement changes. Or at least no answers they were willing to state because after the administrator left they reminded me about my "rights" and pointed out the agencies to contact (PAVE?) if I needed help.

Dissatisfied Parent

Anonymous said...

Crosscut article on school funding in WA state:


word said...

When will the math curriculum be changed? This is an easy fix that will profoundly benefit the district's kids.
Does Banda, like MGJ, have a financial interest in continuing with the present curriculum? If not, then lets fix it.

Anonymous said...

My guess on the math is that they bought all these expensive textbooks a few years ago and hate to admit they made a mistake on them. Many parents warned them about the poor math curricula they were choosing but the directors at the time did not listen.

I do have some hope about Banda and new directors Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee. Both women know about fundamentally sound math curricula. Banda used better math in his past district.

Enough parents need to argue that it is better to make changes now rather than later. We need to stop fixing around the edges, like expecting outside tutoring to make up for a poor central math program. It is an immediate step that could benefit lots of students and help stop the depressing remedial rates they face in college.

S parent

Anonymous said...

When does a school get more custodians? My kids go to a school in the Northeast, and it has doubled in student enrollment since my oldest started K. We now have many more teachers, an assistant principal, but the same number of custodians (two people for two shifts). I'm sure there are other pressing academic needs, but custodians deserve a break too.
--Empathy towards cleaning all day long

Anonymous said...

Anyone know anything about proposed boundary redraws coming this year? Sherry Carr came to our school last spring and indicated that the board and district would be looking at redrawing boundaries around Green Lake, Bryant, McDonald, Olympic View and Sacajawea.

Curious Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

"regional supervisors" - do mean Executive Directors?

Curious, I am behind on my updates but I recall at the last Operations Ctm meeting that Tracy Libros said this would be the last transition years for the NSAP so if they are redrawing anything, I think it would be at the end of the school year.

Good question to ask at the next Community meeting. Director McLaren has one next Monday the 3rd and Director Carr has one on Saturday the 10th.

Anonymous said...
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mirmac1 said...

"regional supervisors" ...

Don't forget the interim Director.

Charlie Mas said...

The superintendent's evaluation tool gives him until the end of the school year to hire an Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning and an Executive Director of Special Education.

I wouldn't expect a hire in either position before we get a lot closer to that last day of school deadline.

Anonymous said...
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suep. said...

Re: Math, both EDM and CMP are up for review already or soon. Apparently we've had them both for about 7 years. Anyone here happy with the results?

Seems we have an opportunity here to seriously improve math in SPS.

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Why not just fire everyone in Sped and have them re-apply for their jobs.

What a joke!

What do they do with all that money from the goverment to educate special ed kids?

Maybe they use the $$ to use sped teachers as reg. ed teachers (like at Ballard) but report to OSPI, etc that they are using the $$ for special education....

Mirimac1 - can you remind us of the Citizen's complaint to OSPI regarding Ballard HS?

Maybe they are using the $$ for to devise ways to report "in-compliance" versus massive "out-of-compliance" ... non-compliance with special ed federal laws means ZERO special ed $$.....

Seems like the cat watching the mouse.

When will the Board stop accepting these delusional reports of compliance.

End of the year for an EXec Director for Sped - what a joke!

What has the Interim Exec Dir of Sped been doing this school year??? Does anyone know???


Anonymous said...


"regional supervisors" in special education report to the director of special education who in turn reports to the executive director of special education who in turn reports to whoever directs teaching and learning and who probably doesn't have any career connection at all to special education so wouldn't know what they are talking about anyway.

special ed regional supervisors do not report to education directors. michael sanford used to say that his main job as a sped supervisor was going to due process hearings. nobody really knows what the supervisors do.

one thing they don't do is report to education directors. education directors report to the superintendent.


Anonymous said...

>>What has the Interim Exec Dir of Sped been doing this school year??? Does anyone know???

Wait a minute? You mean Bihoa Caldwell who has been in Paris all year? Or Jim/John Thorp? Nobody has even seen him. He was supposed to make the buses run on time. Really? We need a non-existant nobody for that?

>> 3 out of 6 (?) regional supervisors "asked" to take other positions (one is now an Instructional Assistant - WoW! at maybe $10 / hr....

I heard the $100K+ "regional sped supervisor" who was demoted off his throne to IA, still gets to keep his $100K+ salary. Any truth to that? He required students to just "eat it" all the time, and go without services. For himself? Not so much. For his excess salary, we could educate 4 or 5 extremely high needs students. Where is Michael DeBell when we need him? There's some excess cost to hunt down!

=sped parent

mirmac1 said...

OSPI has informed the district that it will be watching the use of restricted funds at Ballard under the "monitoring" provision of the WAC. It is investigating diversion of funds and resources away from transition and SM4 programs in the building.

Banda and the Board has heard, and will continue to hear, of Wynkoop's rip-off. The latter's greatest defender, DeBell, won't be around much longer to whine and complain about those damn SpEd students expecting to get services for the $$K in "excess cost" funding they bring to their schools.

suep. said...

West Seattle update?

A parent with an incoming kindergartener would like to know what are the best SPS options in West Seattle.

What is the current status of W. Seattle elementaries? Anyone have any recommendations or advice to pass along?

What is happening with Boren STEM? How is Pathfinder's curriculum unique?


Anonymous said...

This announcement was sent out by the GHS PTSA - and I find it encouraging that recent high school graduates are doing what they can to help out with the college application process in the absence of career counselors. Certainly not a replacement for a qualified counselor, but a great option for kids who may otherwise not have an opportunity to seek help.

"A message from Bulldog2Bulldog College Advising......

Free Peer College Advising: Bulldog2Bulldog Program

Calling all GHS Juniors! Does thinking about college seem a little scary? Having trouble limiting schools on your list? Wondering how financial aid works? We're here to help. Bulldog Alumni are offering FREE college prep meetings!

We would have 1-3 meetings with you over the course of the year and answer any questions you have regarding the college process. Some examples are...

What is the app process like?
What schools should I apply to?
Can you help me make a list of colleges?
How does the financial aid process work?
What should I do when I visit a school?
How can I research schools?
What are my options outside of going to a typical 4-year college (gap years, vocational schools, community college, etc)?

All you have to do is fill out the application at this link http://tinyurl.com/bulldog2bulldog by December 14 (thought we do accept late apps). We want to match you up to an advisor (all recent GHS graduates) that has expertise in the questions that you have.
If you have any other questions about this, shoot an email our way!

~~Bulldog2Bulldog College Advising is a group formed by 2012 graduates of Garfield High School to help current GHS students with educational opportunities after high school, especially (but not limited to) the college application process~~"

Something that all the high schools could do with willing volunteers.

-GHS Parent

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

If they redraw Bryant, where do the kids that are drawn out end up? SPE? Isn't VR over cap as well?

Bryant parent

Anonymous said...

Seattle Special Education PTSA
General Meeting

"Meeting Special Education Student Needs in General Education Classrooms"
featuring Dr. Bridget Walker
Assistant Professor in Seattle University's Master in Teaching Program

Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
John Stanford Center, Room 2700
2445 3rd Ave. S., Seattle 98134

We have a fantastic program for you and for your child's teachers. Please invite them, and
your friends! "Special Education Students are General Education Students First!" But when
the rubber hits the road, with crowded classrooms, funding shortages, limited
opportunities for teacher professional development, and parental questions about how to
start a conversation with teachers, are our children's learning needs fully being met
alongside their typically developing peers?

Dr. Walker, who works with school districts throughout the area on special education
issues, offers practical, timely, cost-effective information for parents and teachers in
differentiating instruction for the spectrum of student learning needs in general education
classrooms. Q&A will follow.

Also scheduled: Updates on state legislation issues of interest to the special education
community, as well as an SPS District update on its progress in reshaping the Special
Education department.

The meeting will also provide you with an opportunity to renew your PTSA membership.
Last year's membership expired at the end of October. Bring cash or a check. General
membership fees are $14 and educator memberships are $10. Membership keeps our
PTSA robust and enables our PTSA leaders to advocate for your interests.


Anonymous said...
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n.seattleparent said...

to =SpedParent:
Bi Caldwell was making 92K plus a 19K benefit package in 2006. According to the www.thenewstribune.com educator-salary-lookerupper Caldwell makes 111K with 18K benefits now. John Thorp, according to FOIA info was making 62K in 2006 - no idea where his pay is now.

What's the name of this regional sped supervisor who's now an IA? Look them up at either TNT or www.lbloom.net

Calling BS on DeBell said...

DeBell recently told a group of parents that it is unlikey his colleagues would take on the work of changing math curriculum.

I don't believe him.

mirmac1 said...

Michael Sanford

Honestly, retired or ex-principals are, for the most part, not qualified to run Special Education in our district. Take Marni Campbell...(please).

seattle citizen said...

Well, here's a surprise:

Burgess to run for mayor

Anonymous said...

Yes. And he made last year:

Salary: $103,083
Insurance: $9,852
Mandatory Benefits: $15,669
Certificated FTE: 1
Certificated Experience: 18.9 years
Academic Credits: 27
Status: Continuing Individual
Reporting District/ESD: Seattle
Public Schools in King county.

Present Age/Sex: 58 / Male


All information from Kitsap Sun. You can get it by googling:
Seattle Public Schools

You find Kitsap Sun, and it will have that person's salary.

But the real question is how much does he make as an IA in the school year 2012-13? Is the district stuck paying $100K plus?He had temper tantrums and couldn't keep the high buck job. Why should we have to pay those rates for IAs?

-Ask Michael Debell

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

All the comments about Sped---wondering where you got your information. No Supervisor was asked to take other positions--they left on their own accord--probably from stress trying to do an impossible job with no resources and continually under the microscope!!!

An Insider

mirmac1 said...


Seriously. When a staffer is accused, and found, to have deliberately obstructed services on an IEP, breached ethics (or been generally obnoxious and intolerable), then - yeah - they "voluntarily" leave. Good riddance.

The great staffers outweigh the bad. When the latter find something else to do, parents are gratified. We can quit hiring consultants and lawyers to get our kids what is their federal right.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous Eckstein parents, give yourself a name and repost.

Unknown said...

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS CAUTIONARY PRAISE FOR A SPED ADMIN. I had a meeting a few weeks ago with Stacey McCrath-Smith and Wayne Herzog regarding mandatory teacher training on deescaltion and restraint. The meeting went very well from my point of view and I did not bring a raft of attorneys with me, nor any threat of the same. The meeting was in stark contrast to a meeting I had with Becky Clifford in June over the same topic.

People can call me naive, but I have hope that things can and will get better with SpEd. I heard recently that Stacey M-S is, in fact, the current Interim Director of Special Education, and in my mind, that is a big improvement over people who don't show up (she's been at every meeting I've been at), people who don't respond to emails (she does) and people who don't have any SpEd experience (she does.) It may be the case that my expectations of Sped have devolved to the point where common courtesy gets high praise from me, but, like most SpEd parents, I'm used to such horrible treatment, that I sort of came out of that meeting in shock.

Anonymous said...


Welcome to the other side. Both Wayne and Stacey are smart, experienced, and very professional. Those qualities, and their experience in the special education "front line" is what makes them stand out among their admin. peers.

Sped Staffer

Anonymous said...

I'm new to the district this year with a kindergartener. (I've been teaching for over 15 years in a neighboring district). I heard a number of complaints about the math curriculum before beginning my SPS journey, and yes it's weak, but I must say it is leaps and bounds ahead of the district's reading curriculum.
I was stunned beyond belief to discover my child's school using patterned/predictable trade books to teach reading. The rest of the educational world threw out these whole language texts about 15 years ago. I asked at conferences why these damaging texts were still being used and was told it has been 14 years since they updated their language arts materials. How is this possible???
There is no systematic or explicit phonics or phonemic awareness happening in my child's kindergarten (or in the 1st grades). Instead, my daughter is being trained to "find and follow the pattern" and to "look at the picture"- the two strategies most utilized by poor readers.

The district has a very vague definition of balanced literacy, and it doesn't state what kinds of "trade books" schools should be using and this is scary. There is nothing "balanced" about a reading curriculum that ignores phonemic awareness in kindergarten and phonics in first grade.

I have been told some schools (Thorton Creek for example) have adopted reading curriculum that is heavily researched based- is there any talk of the district following suit?

I shudder to think of the number of children in Seattle who are presenting as LD because nobody is actually teaching them how to read in a diagnostic and scientific way.
I am curious how many other schools are still predominantly using these patterned predictable texts??

Anonymous said...

No Supervisor was asked to take other positions--they left on their own accord--probably from stress trying to do an impossible job with no resources

Seriously Insider? What planet are you from?

When somebody goes from a supervisory level (that's the same job grade as a principal) down to an non-certified, IA level, that's called a demotion, and it is impossible to believe it was voluntary.

You are right. Higher level jobs have more responsibility, and take on higher levels of stress. So what? He was aweful at his job, and widely disliked by staff and parents alike. Let's not pity anybody because they can't do their jobs. We don't need excuses about resources either. Being prepared, being courteous, returning calls, all those things are free. That's not about resources.


Anonymous said...

Stunned, you hit the nail on the head. Everyone whines and cries about the math books. Really, they aren't so bad, and you can still use them and learn from them, especially with a good teacher. On the language arts side, the situation is orders of magnitude worse! Whatever your child is getting as a kindergartener is a million times worse at the middle school level. At that point - it's just "Readers Workshop". And that's a huge excuse for having nothing at all. No books, no lessons, no anything. Talk about cheap. At least having no materials is free, which is probably why it's the "curriculum".

And if the kid hasn't learned to be an excellent reader on his/her own - there's really no hope with Reader's Workshop. Nobody has a shared experience with literature. And, the whole premise of RW is that the book will teach the child to read, or "literacy" concepts. The fact is, books don't teach kids anything, teachers do.

-RW sucks

Maje said...

I'm also new to SPS with a Kindergartener. I'm in the classroom during reading and at our school they do spend time with those books. But they also spend time doing a lot of other work with phonics - especially during small group work with their teacher and parents in the classroom.

My kid finds those RW books to be really boring because when we read to the kids at home, they get books with plot. The teacher said she often sees that with the kids who get read to at home and, for those kids, the 'just right' RW books don't get a lot of use.

Then there are the kids who don't get a lot of additional reading at home, if any. When I read with them they really feel a sense of pride after they finish the pattern book. It helps give them confidence so that when they work with the teacher ten minutes later on phonics, they are a lot more willing to try new things.

Anonymous said...

Weat Seattle Parent with an incoming kindergartener-

West Seattle is a mess, thanks to the Cooper closure and the NSAP. Schmitz, hard to get into,overcrowded like a trailer park, Lafayette, we had a terrible year, difficult parents if you are ethnic and culturally insensitive, West Seattle Elementary, trying, but struggling academically, but I like them, don't know about Highland Park or Sanislo, Arbor Heights, full of mold, building falling apart, Pathfinder, really not a fan, I find too loosely goosey hippie-ish, and children I have known who transferred from there struggle. School was in step 4/5 failing AYP. STEM at Boren, don't bother til they get the kinks worked out. No playground equipment, no real STEM curriculum thus far, though they do have Singapore math, and the parents I have talked to are disappointed and underwhelmed, given the District's promises. I liked Gatewood the best. Principal not ingrained in the SPS culture, nice staff, nice kids. And Roxhill is succeeding. However, after sampling the buffet of West Seattle elementaries, 3 in 4 years, I gave up and put my child in private school. I know many WS parents who have the same story I do. Save your 5 year old the agony and find him a good private school. With no Everyday/ Discovery math.


Anonymous said...

I am relieved to hear your child's class is getting phonemic awareness/ phonics- what curriculum are they using?

There are plenty early reader texts out there that give children that same sense of confidence you mention, but don't reinforce poor habits. At least 20% of kids are going to struggle learning to read- giving patterned texts to that group of kids always yields disastrous results- years of resource room teachers trying to to undo the "guessing" habit they were taught and were so successful with in K. If you don't teach poor reading habits, they tend to display them less- imagine that?

RW sucks,
I'm so sorry to hear you feel they curriculum (or lack thereof) only weakens as you go along. :(. We are suddenly realizing we need to move outside of Seattle.

dan dempsey said...

About the math an providing each student an ample opportunity to learn it.....

Let us consider 8th grade math performance for Low Income students at the middle school level in 2011 and look then at 2012 MSP grade 8 math results.

There is huge grade inflation at AKI ... School report card says 90% OF all Aki 8th graders are ready for high school math based on grades in classes ... yet 8th grade Aki students in 2012 on MSP had 51.6% at level 1 => well below standard


8th grade

school MSP is for all students

SY 2010-2011
School MSP :: Low Income Student Math pass rate
Eckstein 80.1 .................. 54.4
Hamilton 70.8 .................. 46.1
Whitman 66.4 .................. 38
Denny 66.8 .................. 59.9
Mercer 60.7 .................. 55.8
Aki K 36.4 .................. 36

SY 2011-2012
School MSP :: Low Income Student Math pass rate
Eckstein 80.0 .................. 45.9
Hamilton 76.7 .................. 46.1
Whitman 60.5 .................. 24.7
Denny 69.8 .................. 58.6
Mercer 75.5 .................. 69.0
Aki K 29.3 .................. 27.0


Like Charlie says .....

There is no program evaluation done at all.

dan dempsey said...

You can find the Aki Kurose school report card HERE .

I guess this is supposed to pass for program evaluation.

Is there any hint that the MSP math pass rates and percentage of students scoring at level 1 is abysmal?

Yet this is the school report card ... so what is it reporting? Is it reporting on grade inflation and lack of progress? (apparently not as it reports 90% of 8th graders are ready for high school math) .... It should say 90% of 8th graders got acceptable math grades but less than half of those students are ready for high school math....

So what does the MSP math pass rate mean to the SPS anyway..... 29.3% of students passing MSP Math at AKI in 2012 .... down from 36.4% passing in 2011.

But the principal hired TFA for 2011-2012 school year .... so what?

dan dempsey said...

Look at this.

The NY Times Thomas Friedman wants Arne Duncan to be Secretary of State.......

I'll take anything to get that guy out of education.

Anonymous said...

Ps forgot about Alki. Pretty good too.


Anonymous said...

One of the issues we've had with RWW (Readers Writers Workshop) is that teachers let kids choose books without having read them themselves. We have had multiple instances where the books are outright inappropriate for the given age group, no matter their reading level. There's really no excuse for it.

If a teacher would be uncomfortable reading the book aloud, then the students probably aren't mature enough for the material. I am not against delving into difficult or uncomfortable subjects, but RWW is structured so that there is no adult to discuss and buffer the material.

Students are in groups discussing the books amongst themselves. Without the teacher guiding the discussion, they are they missing out on some of the multiple meanings of the book and lose out on some of the what makes the books good.

The SPS chosen math and reading/writing materials are equally weak, in my opinion.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Dan, I can't go that far on Duncan. If Friedman's misguided thinking believes an ed expert is the way to go, then Diane Ravitch should be Secretary of State.

Anonymous said...

This gets to Charlie's comment on hiring a head of Teaching and Learning. Budget issues aside, is there any hope of improved curriculum without someone new in the Teaching and Learning position?


Unknown said...

No doubt Thomas Friedman got his idea about Arne Duncan from a French-speaking African-looking taxi driver in Brussels. Or perhaps a pretty German-speaking Egyptian hotel receptionist in Cairo.

Either way, Thomas Friedman short-sighted opining on Arne Duncan's foreign policy chops carries very little weight with anyone.

Unknown said...

@Dan Dempsey,
Politico reports that Arne Duncan says he is more likely to become a stripper than Secretary of State: http://politi.co/YroJOt.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent, here's the thing. For some reason, teaching and learning and program placement - two things I believe most parents care deeply about - are, sadly, not at the top of the list.

I think Banda cares (and I believe we will see some authoritative muscle flexed soon) but if he doesn't have the support of the Board, it's a tough haul.

But where is the Board? DeBell is off making closed door deals with Burgess (and I still wonder if the rest of the Board knows about these meetings). Carr and Martin-Morris seem somewhat fixated on teacher evaluations. And frankly, I'm a little unclear what the others are pushing for.

I think BEX has taken up a huge amount of airtime for the Board and that's distracting. And now? They get to worry about people taking over schools and turning them into charters.

Teaching and learning? Nope, easier to stick with what we have.

One person's opinion.

Anonymous said...

I think Melissa has it just right. Instead of focusing on the best learning practices, SPS is thinking about the big upcoming levy. We have all been distracted by ed reform fads, like charters, that will only serve a handful of students. What SPS should care about is insisting upon the best curricula to serve many more students.

The conversation about whole language reading techniques is just plain depressing. On math, Dan has been showing these sad statistics for years to the School Board. Why don’t they listen and change the darn math curricula? They have certainly had enough parents complain about it for years.

SPS has been distracted by poor superintendents, overcrowding at schools and new assignment plans. They need to hunker down and examine what they are teaching and how they can improve. That is the best way to improve the reputation of SPS and improve results for students. It is time for Banda and the Board to get to work.

S parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

S, I just heard the report on Assessments at the School Board meeting. Holy smokes! It's not about teaching - it's about assessing. Scary stuff.

mirmac1 said...

AND there are NO accommodations in this Brave New world of Standards-based grading to account for those are at a different standard. This is a big deal and will NOT go away.

Anonymous said...

One thing I have noticed as a long-time SPS parent and educator is that the system does not have a way to vet good research and distribute it in a meaningful way that can help teachers change the type of practices Stunned is referring to. Research is pretty clear about a number of practices most likely to lead to achievement, in all subject areas. There is also a great deal of recent brain research that directly affects teaching and learning. Most teachers want to use effective methods, and if they are convinced that the research is valid and accurate, will do their best to implement it where possible. Isn't the Sup the highest instructional leader? Wouldn't it be wonderful if he sent out a detailed memo once a month of recent nuts-and-bolts methods vetted by research? Educational Leadership, AFT, NCTM, and other groups/publications have at least one sound, evidence-based practice in their pages each month. Yet this is lost in mumbo-jumbo trainings that make participants yawn. If I were the Sup I'd communicate these core pieces of research to my people-- directly and frequently, and not through management.

Anonymous said...

whoops, forgot to sign above-- above is by SST

Anonymous said...

There's research and there's "educational" research. Sometimes the results of research are misapplied to the field of education and sometimes the methods and results of educational research are questionable - association is not causation, proper controls, peer review, and all of that.

According to Michigan State University, "CMP is based on research, and was field tested in diverse sites across the country with approximately 45,000 students and 390 teachers." Has using a "research" based curriculum improved math competency in the SSD?


A blunder that I see on the horizon is the local RTT plan to increase the number of students taking Algebra I in 8th grade. If a student has covered the skills necessary to take Algebra I in 8th grade, then they are likely to benefit. Forcing students to take Algebra I when they don't yet have the skills, however, can actually be to their detriment. "Studies show that students taking Algebra in 8th grade do better in math" has been mistakenly used to push students into Algebra when they would be more successful by using 8th grade to solidify arithmetic skills. Results from some districts have shown that having students take Algebra too early, and then making them retake Algebra in 9th, actually sets them back.

Back in my day, when we walked uphill both ways in the snow to get to school, it was the norm to take Algebra I in 9th grade. I would argue the Algebra then was more comprehensive than what is covered in first year Algebra these days. Students still went on to college and majored in math intensive fields, not having taken Algebra in 8th grade.

math whiner

Longhouse said...

InsideOuter... believe what you want, but the facts are that Michael Sanford chose to take a job as an aide of his own accord. He was not forced out.

Michael is prone to temper tantrums, but he is also one of the only administrators I have worked with in my two decades who seemed to actually care about kids, actually came out to fix problems and kept his word.

I can Michael getting tired of the BS. God help us... we still have no leadership and no direction.