Thursday, January 31, 2013

Board Votes to NOT Open New JA Middle School Next Year

If I had to say, it seems that Director McLaren was the swing vote.  It came down to equity even as Director Martin-Morris tried to say that equity was only about school quality.  It's also about how you treat parents and students as you move in that direction.  I'm surprised he doesn't see this.

DeBell spoke out someone angrily about the vote saying the Board lacked courage.  He said public expected clear and decisive action when there is an obvious problem.

This is somewhat unusual to have directors debate a vote AFTER the vote.

McLaren also said she believed in clear and decisive action "seize the bull by the horns" when it needs to be done.  This was a difficult decision, she stated.  "But I strongly believe we are signaling our purpose as a district to put the needs of our most challenged students and families first as we go forward."

Laurelhurst will now go to Eckstein instead of Hamilton.

Carr, I want to put a big "checkmark" next to what DeBell said.  Message to Board and management team is that you need to do something.  She said that 3 out of the 4 directors north of the ship canal wanted this.  (I get that but DeBell is NOT in the NE; Martin-Morris, Peaslee and Carr are.)  As well, directors are responsible in their votes for the ENTIRE district.

Smith-Blum really gave some very statesman-like remarks.  She thanked all who sent her e-mails and thanked the staff.

I get the feeling a lot of these remarks are directed at those not in the room.  I'm sure the yes votes are going to get an earful from some parents and, of course, the powers that be.

Part Three of Interim Meeting

We are getting close to the vote and yet the directors seem to have endless questions.  It is quite clear that directors do not see these enrollment and boundary issues the same way (and watch for that to come out when boundaries start being considered).

Patu - Pegi, if rolling up middle school, can we do this in 6 months time?
McEvoy -  Deferred to Phil Brockman.
Brockman - We would have to immediately hire a planning principal and contact communities and have those meetings.  Have a marketing campaign.  (But DeBell says marketing costs money so wouldn't that be as bad as a recruiting campaign?)

Martin-Morris - worried about recruitment idea, it's "squishy".  True but you have NO idea what parents are going to choose given the churn that is happening now.

DeBell - surprised that time is running out for this vote.  He thinks people DO know their choices.  (Boy, that's a big statement given how busy many parents are especially those who are have challenges like single parents, low-income, etc.)  We haven't thoroughly analyzed the amendment (and we have for all these other plans?).  He says that the new middle school will be more "personalized" and for Special Ed and ELL students who have issues at Eckstein.  (Meaning the new JA MS will take all those students as well?  Interesting.)

Sherry - issues of equity, enrichment funding to JA K-8 versus Broadview-Thompson.  It's not a "one-sided equation."  "Better solution that impacts the most students in a positive way" is opening JA MS.

Peaslee - Well, what about costs if you move both K-8s to John Marshall and many families leave those schools because of the movement and go BACK to their feeder schools.  That will have a tremendous impact on the NSAP and those costs have not been vetted either.

Smith- Blum - worried about three feeder schools, families visited open houses thinking those would be their school and now we change that.  It does feel inequitable.  We did that before and we need equity lens in all we do.  She appears to be voting yes to the amendment.

He is really pushing hard and I have no idea how McLaren will vote. Pins and needles.

McLaren - I want more time to talk.  The things that I see that DeBell points out is that amendment is not analyzed.  I disagree and it's almost the same as a week ago.  Told in good faith one week ago that it is a viable solution.  I don't see the "squish" in the recruitment idea.

She spoke quietly but passionately.  "I don't think urgency to do something now should overwhelm doing the right thing for equity."

Martin-Morris - not sure what people mean by equity.  He says good and quality schools for all but he misses the point of HOW you treat parents and students while meeting that goal.  Families have been asking for this for a very long time.

Time for the vote on Peaslee amendment:

Smith- Blum - yes
Carr - no
DeBell - no
McLaren - yes
Patu - yes
Peaslee - yes
Martin-Morris - no

Amendment passes, 4-3

Part Two of Interim Meeting

Sorry, having some issue live blogging.

Director Peaslee is submitting her amendment.   She stated that her amendment was basically what the staff said a week ago with just a few modification.  She believes that it does include relief for Eckstein and Hamilton (but just as with the staff's rec, who really knows because there is so much churn that it is near impossible to know what or where students will be enrolled).  She also says that Principal Debbie Nelson at JA K-8 supports this plan and Laurelhurst supports being moved to Eckstein.  She says, "This will give parents choice. And I believe they will choose well for their students."

DeBell question:  K-8 capacity in 6th grade except for Pinehurst?  Are we going to change the enrollment caps that we have in place?  Physical space for K-8s for additional 6th graders except at JA K-8 (but that enlarges JA K-8).
Morello - capacity at K-8 is 841 for 608 is about 439 and these numbers are without portables on site.  Looking at enrollment for next year, the enrollment for 6-8 is 220 students so there is room for growth.
DeBell - following up, all the other K-8 are far from JA K-8 except Pinehurst, so if we recruit, the available space is at the building we need.  The 150 students we want for JA MS, if they go to JA K-8, then do we lose those students for that middle school?   No room in JA building to start it?
(He seems to be missing this is NOT assignment but choice.  It could be 150 or it could be 100 at JA K-8.)
Smith-Blum - is this an issue for a larger JA K-8?
Morello - K-5 capacity is 402, that's not the case.
Other capacity guy - add portables in '14-'15 so after next year, we'd need portables no matter what.

DeBell is still hammering this point.  Significant fiscal impacts from this amendment.  Morello says yes but they are unsure what they are.

DeBell - what are fiscal impacts?  (Sounds like he wants to limit JA K-8 growth.)

Other capacity guy - will need to add portables sooner if we recruit more students if it grew to 740-800.

McEvoy also says this would all depend on the boundaries, might be part of Olympic View, for example.

McLaren - DeBell's question about what would happen in '14-'15, does amendment specify that year?
Peaslee - the JA MS would start roll-up then and as well, the boundaries would change.  The planning would be done and boundaries redrawn.
McLaren - no, does amendment preclude JA K-8 moving to John Marshall in '14-'15?
Peaslee - no it does not and is not part of the amendment.

DeBell - Some real misgivings of this notion of recruitment, not part of language or spirit of NSAP.  Intention was for clarity.  (This amendment would NOT change that but it seems he wants to throw this out there for some reason.)  He also said is it our intent to overcrowd Eckstein so people go elsewhere?  (No, Michael, that is not what Sharon is saying but clearly you want people to believe that.  A new middle school will be here quite soon so one year is no NSAP dealbreaker.)  "Sets a precedent here."

Patu asked about what recruitment would look like and why necessary.
Peaslee pointed out that it wasn't more money but letting people know, more clearly, to know about ALL options parents have in their region.  For example, she said many parents might not know that JA K-8 was named a school of achievement last year.  She disagreed with DeBell that it was any kind of plan to overenroll any school.

Smith-Blum asked about mushroom model at Salmon Bay.
DeBell said we have that but Salmon Bay is full.
Smith-Blum pointed out that Thornton Creek adds students to Salmon Bay (but those student might end up at either Eckstein or JA K-8).
Martin-MOrris said the TC tiebreaker wasn't a "preference" fr those students.  What?!

Seattle Schools Board Meeting on Interim Plan

I will be trying to live blog (iPad is not making it easy) from the meeting.  The Board is just finishing up a Work Session on the Budget.

Well, this is interesting.  In the handout from Pegi McEvoy, it states that they need $1M for  "kitchen remodel and other necessary facilities upgrades from BTA III balance fund."  What the heck is this?  And they need $112k for a planning principal for JA Middle School (fine) but then $920,000 for mitigation and support for the JA Middle School 6th grade rollup fro General Funds.

We need to take nearly $1M from our General Fund for this effort.  Wow, that's a lot of money.

Ah, so I asked Pegi McEvoy.  That kitchen remodel is for JA's kitchen because they are moving from a K-8 to a middle school. (How much different is a K-8 kitchen versus a middle school kitchen?)

She also said yes, they had gone back and forth and yes, ther was no assurance that all the APP students that might go to Hamilton will actually go there.

Public Testimony was quiet.  A couple of people did not show up.  Only one person supports the opening of the JA Middle School (but when the deal is in the bag why the need?).

Carr to amend the agenda to withdraw amendment one from Director Carr.  Her comment is that this was from previous meeting and since the rec has changed they don't need it.

Pegi McEvoy is speaking now.  "Sets the stage for long-term capacity management"  "Must balance issues."  "predictability in assignment while providing choice"

Reviewed school enrollment projections.   Considered conservative numbers so as to not overstaff buildings.

Originally, thought Bryant might need more support.  Worried about APP Hamilton growth.  Not anticipating any high school projections growing.

Going over enrollment changes (Tracy Libros is on vacation so Ms McEvoy is doing it.)

Now going over JA MS and who would go there.

Budget Director said the portables could cost (depending on which plan you pick) between $250K to over $2M out of capital funds.  (No wonder we never get ahead on the backlogged maintenance.)  This is about a 5-year amount.

Smith-Blum asked for any questions from directors.

Martin-Morris - reflect additional portables at JA?
Morello - not for intermediate planning.

Peaslee - Difference between two plans presented by staff to Board?
McEvoy - would reduce one classroom at Hamilton but Hamilton will still need 4 more classrooms.   For Eckstein, if we start roll-up we assume we will get 30 from Hamilton to Eckstein to about 1300 at Eckstein.  ABout 150 students at 6th grade roll-out and reduce Eckstein to 1150.
(This is verbatim.)  There's only 30 5th graders at Laurelhurst that would end up at Eckstein?  Hard to believe.

Peaslee - fiscal analysis
Paperman -don't have the spreadsheets and this is just a summary on the screen.

Updates for Today's Seattle School Board Meeting

It appears that a couple of people dropping off the speakers list so there is at least one spot open if you want to call in to claim it, 252-0040.   As well, they will have a waitlist in case any of the scheduled speakers do not come forward.

Also, Director Peaslee has put forth her own amendment.  I agree with her thinking. 

Basically, she is asking for two things:

- wait a year for implementing the new JA Middle School with planning for it ongoing and a planning principal in place by September 2013
- reassign Laurelhurst students to Eckstein to take the pressure off of Hamilton (and fit in those APP students). 

As well, it asks for the Superintendent to support an effort to recruit students for JA K-8, Pinehurst, TOPS and Salmon Bay. 

Over enrollment at Hamilton can be relieved with minimal disruption by assigning the 6th
graders from Laurelhurst to Eckstein. Pressure on Eckstein and Hamilton can be relieved by
District supported recruitment effort of new 6th
graders at Jane Addams, Pinehurst, TOPS at Seward and Salmon Bay.  Transportation from Eckstein service area to Jane Addams, Pinehurst, TOPS and Salmon Bay is already in our budget. 

This amendment also delays assigning students from Sacajawea, John Rogers and Olympic Hills
to JAMS for one year, giving time to redraw boundaries and adequately plan and implement a
quality comprehensive middle school.  Students from those schools will be encouraged to
voluntarily enroll at Jane Addams for school year 2013-14, but their assignment to Eckstein
Middle School will not be changed until school year 2014.

Students in the NE will be permitted to attend Eckstein as planned and promised, while
boundaries are redrawn and a quality comprehensive middle school is planned at JAMS.

She explains the alternative:

Adopt current staff recommendation.  This is not desirable because it abruptly reassigns students
from three schools to a comprehensive middle school at JAMS that has not been planned. 
Parents doubt that it will be equal in quality to Eckstein.  If 17 portables are located at JAMS
(shown as Roll Up Option B in the Fiscal Analysis document), it will likely prove unacceptable
and will result in moving the two K-8 schools to John Marshall in a year or two.  This move will
prove unacceptable to many families who will withdraw their students and place them in
neighborhood schools, thereby weakening both K-8 schools and increasing capacity problems in
other overenrolled NE schools.

 By forcing a small group of 6th graders into a new (and quickly planned) middle school, the district does NOT significantly reduce the enrollment at either Hamilton or Eckstein.

What it does is tell those families a couple of things.  One, we will tell you over and over at public meetings that nothing will change for next year and then abruptly change our minds.  Two, we will favor one group of students over another. 

I do want to point out that shared pain is better than targeted pain.  It is better to wait, plan and then have every share the pain of boundary redraws as a region/district, than to focus on one small group of students.  And if it were your student, you would not like it one bit.

Times Talks About the Seattle Schools' Levies

In a surprisingly candid piece, the Times lays out the case for the levies.  The district, following its usual script, has not been as forthcoming but the Times points out the obvious:

How much is the district asking? The flier does not give the amounts, but the levies total $1.25 billion — the district’s biggest request to date. 

Much of that money, as the flier does say, would simply renew measures that otherwise would expire. What the flier doesn’t say is that the district also is asking voters to open their wallets a little wider.  

This year, the owner of a $400,000 house paid about $1,000 in local school levy and bond taxes. If both levies pass, that bill would go up by $160.

That basic information that, while true, is probably not exactly what the district wants to say right out loud (nor Schools First).

The district says:

The district also points out that Seattleites would pay half of what homeowners in many nearby school districts do — just under $3 per $1,000 of assessed value, compared with $5 to $6 in Issaquah, Highline, Kent, Shoreline and Federal Way.

District officials also defend the plan, saying larger elementary schools will cost less to operate, and that they need to have enough room for the additional 7,000 students that are expected to enroll over the next 10 years. If the levy passes, they say, they’ll be able to reduce the number of portable classrooms and shrink a big maintenance backlog by about $100 million.

All true except that the backlog truly never ends.  Are we maintaining the buildings we currently have in basic ways?  No.  Even the new ones that we spent millions to build?  Not really.  Because basic maintenance is low on the list of priorities, leaving that backlog to rapidly grow.

A parent who was on FACMAC says:

“This is a triage. It’s not going to fix everything everywhere,” said Gail Herman, speaking as a parent. Herman also serves on the district’s capacity- and facilities-advisory committee.

The district, Herman said, has done a responsible job vetting what needs to be done, collecting the right data and asking the right questions.

One interesting question I have is where is the deep research piece on BEX that reporter Brian Rosenthal has been working on?  It is likely to be in a Sunday Times but it wasn't last week.  Maybe it won't appear at all or maybe it might appear...after the election.

Dearborn Park teachers support MAP boycott

Here is a letter from 17 teachers and staff members at Dearborn Park Elementary to Superintendent Banda in support of the teachers boycotting the MAP:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Assessment Task Force Members Sought

From the district:

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda is seeking parents and community members who are interested in serving on the Task Force on Assessments and Measuring Progress.

The task force will be composed of between 20 and 25 members that include central office staff, school leaders, teachers, parents and community representatives.

The task force will be charged with reviewing District assessment programs and making recommendations for next year and beyond. It will carefully review the MAP assessment, and also hear from subject matter experts on key topics, such as future Common Core standards aligned assessments, and the new statewide evaluation system for teachers. The task force is scheduled to meet 4-6 p.m., Thursdays on the following dates:

• Feb. 7
• Feb.  21
• March 7
• March 21
• April 4
• April 11
• April 25
• May 2

If you are the parent of a child in Seattle Public Schools or a community member interested in participating on the Superintendent’s task force, please submit a brief letter (1-2 pages) that explains your interest in participating.

Please verify in the letter your availability to attend all task force meetings and provide any relevant information about your background or experience that would make you a strong candidate. If a parent, please also indicate the grade level(s) of and school(s) attended by your children.

For additional information, please see the announcement. All letters of interest must be submitted by noon, Monday, Feb. 4. 

Please submit your letter to the following email address: emanderson@seattleschools.org with the subject line: ASSESSMENT TASK FORCE

Agenda and Documents for Interim Plan Vote Thursday


The agenda includes Public Testimony.  I made the list but so did three people speaking about Stevens.  The directors had discussed how to make this as wide-ranging a group as possible but I'm thinking really did nothing to make that so. 

I find the updates confusing.  What I think I am reading is that staff wants no changes but mitigation efforts (some of which, as I predicted, they would likely be doing no matter what the vote). 

They do have a caveat that if the staff recs are changed, an update will come by the end of the day today (Wednesday the 30th).

Fiscal Analysis.  I find this a bit hard to read but they present Director Carr's amendment - to create JA Middle School next school year - in two forms.  One is co-location until 2016 or co-locate one year and then JA K-8 moves out the next year to John Marshall.

Enrollment projections.  Again, not a lot of help because we're not seeing the direct comparisons of what these head counts mean in various regions.  Interestingly, many high schools are project to decrease slightly (40 or less). 

For middle schools, there is a modest increase overall - from 8225 to 8352, a difference of 127 students.  But where is that growth mostly?  At Hamilton, up a whopping 98 students.  I don't really get it (unless there are a lot of APP students).  (Eckstein had been projected to be 50 fewer but it looks like it's only about 25.) 

Other items of interest:

- K-5 STEM in West Seattle continues to grow at a good clip.
- Gatewood will be up over 500 students.
- Schmitz Park will be near 600.

- QA Elementary also continues a good clip and will be nearly 340.

- Bailey-Gatzert will go over 400.

- Bryant is projected to be over 600.  (To note, View Ridge is nearly there already at 598.)
- JA K-8 is projected to be up 63 and nearly to 650 students.
- Olympic Hills?  Up a whopping 55 students.
- Olympic View?  It climbs up over the 500 student mark.
- Laurelhurst is projected to be down about 15 students (those boundaries need to be redrawn in that area).

- Very little growth in the NW except at Viewlands which will climb over 300.
- Ditto on the SE.
Low enrollment schools (per their building size) - Pinehurst (146) and Madrona (a newish K-8 building at 286 - not good)

Program Placement annual report due

That's right. I'm not going to let this go.

The annual program placement report is due in January, which means that the superintendent has to deliver it either today or tomorrow or its late.

More MAP Boycott Support

This post from EdVoices by Seattle parent, Sue Peters, on why she doesn't support MAP.

Via Diane Ravitch's blog:

- Australian teachers chime in.
- I haven't seen the letter but Ingraham teachers have apparently notified the Superintendent of their support for the boycott.
- by the numbers, 38 teachers at Chief Sealth have joined the MAP boycott, 8 support it and 2 abstained.
- op-ed from Garfield student in Crosscut 
- I hadn't heard much from elementary teachers but one did write to me and sent along her letter to the Superintendent.  There were the usual complaints about time from instruction, library shut-down, missed services and then there was this:

"I had a 2nd grader tell me how much better her score was than her peers.  When I asked her how she knew she said she had listened in as the librarian reported them to her peers."

That should NOT be happening and even Michael Tolley admitted at the press conference that the district needed to be giving more guidance to teachers and staff over the MAP.  I'd think one of the first things is to NOT announce the scores outloud to students and encourage students to keep them private.  

- High school students in Oregon are organizing their own opt-out

“We need more community based schools and better relationships between students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Schools should not be being evaluated based on student’s standardized test scores, but rather a 360 portfolio evaluation which includes feedback from people who are directly involved with the school. A test score cannot give someone the same insight to a school as a discussion with students, teachers, and parents can.” says Lincoln Senior Alexia Garcia. “The ideal solution would be to eliminate high stakes standardized testing and replace it with a more comprehensive evaluation system developed by the community.”

Meanwhile, the Times just can't stop itself and has yet another editorial on the boycott. 

The MAP boycott is puzzling, coming as the district, and presumably teachers, are hoping voters agree to raise their taxes to provide a total of $1.2 billion in levies for Seattle schools in the Feb. 12 election. 

Well, as Charlie points out, no is isn't bad timing - it's just when the MAP is given.  That there is an election is not the teachers fault (and, at the same time, is unlikely to have any effect).  And, this is not new.  The teachers have been complaining and asking the district to talk about MAP for years.

The Times also either didn't do its homework (very possible) or doesn't want to tell readers this but they complain that the teachers should have said something at a different time (they have) and/or wait for contract negotiations.

Then, they get to it:

All of this may be just union flexing. One union official encouraged teachers to support the boycott to show district leadership the union is united and ready to be a powerful force in the upcoming contract negotiations. 

Again, the Times doesn't know/realize that the union is following on this issue, not leading.

They also, falsely, claim this testing started with "one of Seattle's most beloved education figures", John Stanford.   I'd like to see their proof but I'm with Charlie; the biggest push for this came from Maria Goodloe-Johnson who came long after Superintendent Stanford. 

Using students to advance workplace issues is dishonest. 

Really, and what about using the only daily newspaper in the state to advance an agenda without providing full information to the readers?  Oh pot, it's the kettle calling.

As we hurtle towards February, it would seem that this will all come to a head at some point.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Open Thread

I note the passing of TJ Vassar, a former member of the Seattle School Board in the early '80s.  From the Times article, he is described as a "pioneering African-American educator" who taught at Lakeside.  He served two terms on the Board and, at 30, was the youngest person ever elected to that body.

Among other accomplishments, he helped win reparations for Japanese-American secretaries who had been forced to quit their jobs at Seattle Public Schools during World War II. 

During his years as an administrator there, Lakeside became one of the most diverse elite private schools in the country, Noe said. Today, students of color make up 51 percent of its enrollment, and “he did it,” Noe said.

What's on your mind?

Grading Schools

Over at the Times there's this article reporting that Republicans in the State Senate are sponsoring a bill to assign a letter grade - A-F - to every public school based on outcomes from standardized testing and "other measures."

High schools also would be graded by graduation rate, SAT scores and AP course participation.


Schools that earn “A” grades would be eligible for teacher bonuses and get more control over the money the state allocates to them.

The bill is sponsored by Senate education Chairman Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.

I'll have to go over this bill to get more details but, as we all know, SPS does have a scorecard for every school with a host of measures.

The kicker (and the number one objection voiced in the Comments section):

Charter schools and alternative schools would be exempted from the grading, unless they opt in.

And why is that?  I thought these were "public" schools and yet they don't have their results poured over.  Where is that accountability?  That only comes at the hands of their authorizers and the public doesn't get to see what their outcomes are?  Hmm.

One commenter provided this link to almost the exact same bill...in Florida.  

We should all understand a couple of things.  Nearly everything - from the actual initiative itself to every bill that comes forward now that involves charters - will be coming from outside Washington State (probably via Stand for Children).  Rob McKenna?  He recently said he will be working with them on ed issues. 

Also, where is the money coming from to create this grading system by OSPI and the Board of Ed?  For districts to enact it?  An unfunded mandate if ever there were one and yet, not a penny that would actually go into the classroom.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Supporting the MAP Boycott

From the Solidarity with Garfield Facebook page:

GET READY! THIS WEDNESDAY, January 30 is a national call/phone/fax day to tell Seattle Public Schools that you, your organization and your union stand with the Garfield test boycotters. Send your message to Seattle Schools Superintendant José Banda:

Phone: (206) 252-0180

Fax: (206) 252-0209

Email: superintendent@seattleschools.org

Legislative Round-Up

As most of you know, public education, both K-12 and higher ed, are central focuses of the current Legislative Session.  Here are some issues/bills up for discussion:

- from the Times, an article about a bill to "grade" schools (except for charters, of course).  

- as previously mentioned, Senator Rodney Tom (F-Medina), wants to get rid of GET (Guaranteed Education Tuition), the program that helps people save for their children's college educations.  Guess what?  The astoundingly popular College -Bound program that low-income middle school students sign up for to encourage them to finish high school and go to college?  He wants to end THAT one as well.  (Even the Times says they should continue the College Bound program.)

Senator Tom has said the State shouldn't be in this "business."  Confusing because our Constitution says that educating the populace IS the paramount duty of the state.  (Also, understand that people who crunched the numbers figured out it will cost MORE to close down GET than continue it.)

- according to Publicola:

On Tuesday, January 29, the House Education Committee has a public hearing on a bill to cut costs in education by dramatically reshaping standardized testing. The bill eliminates the writing portion of state tests, reduces the high school math assessment to just one test rather than two, and removes testing-related graduation requirements. It also prevents the state schools superintendent from developing additional science tests in any subject other than biology. The bill is sponsored by a bipartisan group including Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, chairwoman of the Education Committee. The hearing starts at 1:30 pm.

- Also this week on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education will be hearing from the group tasked to figure out education spending. Later in the week on Friday, the House Education Committee will hear from the Joint Task Force on Education Funding (the McCleary group).  

Link from Rep. Marcie Maxwell to the Joint Task Force.   

Article from Ed Week about McCleary being thrashed out in the Legislature.

- Thursday, the House Higher Ed Committee will work on the GET program. 

- Rep Sharon Tomiko-Santos, along with a couple of other Reps including Gerry Pollet, are sponsoring a bill for more on-line education courses.  I'll have to ask them about this.  While it seems the way of the future, there is an awful lot of crash-and-burn stories throughout the U.S. on this subject. 

State Board of Education Seeks Public Input

The Washington State Board of Education is seeking input via a survey "on how we should measure the performance of Washington's K-12 schools. Your answers will help us improve the Washington Achievement Index."

Levies Addressed in Times Editorial

The Times is endorsing both levies but with a caveat (and it's not exactly what you might think).   They are worried about "leadership."  And here I thought it might be complete accountability for that $1B especially for capital funds. I find it troubling that both the Times and Schools First don't make that accountability -given the strife since the last BEX/Operations levies - a promise not to be forgotten. 

(In the past, Schools First members have repeatedly told me, off the record, that they, too, are worried about the transparency and have pledged to me to follow-up.  I have never seen that effort come after the election.)

The Times misses no opportunity to complain about the Board and the Superintendent in ways that have little to do with the levies.

The School Board continues to struggle to work as a coherent body. New Superintendent José Banda appears unable to defuse a teacher boycott of a standardized test that he and other district leaders view as a valuable part of their assessment strategy. 

Defuse?  He told them the teachers would be suspended without pay.  He cannot challenge their democratic right to speak out.  He cannot fire them outright because they have spoken in and  done nothing that violates their contract.

But then they get right to it:

Seattle Schools This Week

A very quiet week in SPS except for the special Board meeting on Thursday, January 31 to address the Interim Plan for 2013-2014.

Thursday, January 31st
Board Work Session on the Budget from 4-5 p.m.

Special Meeting of the Board from 5-6:30 p.m.
Discussion and possible vote on the Interim Plan 2013-2014.  This is the only agenda item for this meeting.

Sign-ups for the Speakers list started this morning and I was surprised to hear they are only taking 10 names instead of 20.  I know this is a special meeting but of such importance that it would seem they might have taken the full 20.  I'll ask.  That they are taking only 10 speakers and have an hour-and-a-half meeting time allows for questions to staff and probably explanations from each Director for his/her vote.

They will then have an Executive Session on another topic at 6:45 pm so the meeting will end at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 1st
No School - Day between semesters

There are no Community meetings by Board directors this Saturday.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Special Meeting This Thursday for Interim Plan Vote

From President Smith-Blum:



The School Board is expected to vote on the Short Term Capacity Management Plan during a special meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, January 31st at the auditorium of the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence.

On January 23rd, the Board decided to delay the vote by a week to review 2013-14 enrollment projections, which are expected the week of January 28th. District staff will review the options to address our growing enrollment for next year with this additional data.

Enrollment is projected to grow by 7,000 students over the next 10 years. The Capacity Management Plan addresses immediate capacity needs. If approved by voters on Feb. 12, renewal of the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy would provide capital funding for long-term growth.
Even though public testimony was heard on the Short Term Capacity Management Plan on January 9th and 23rd, ten public testimony slots, two minutes each, will be available at the January 31st meeting.

People who wish to provide testimony at the Board meeting should follow the standard sign-up procedure by calling 206-252-0040 or emailing the School Board office at boardagenda@seattleschools.org starting at 8 a.m. on Monday, January 28th. People should give their legal name, telephone number and email address when requesting to speak. Since there is only one item on the agenda, speakers must address capacity management.

Any updated information on the Short Term Capacity Management Plan will be posted online Wednesday late afternoon at www.seattleschools.org/schoolboard.

More information on capacity management is available here. Families can continue to voice their opinions at schoolboard@seattleschools.org and capacity@seattleschools.org.


While I am glad for this delay, it certainly gives little time for assessing the new enrollment data.  At last week's Board meeting there was considerable discussion over when parents and community could see these new numbers with enough time to make a general assessment.  Late Wednesday is pretty late but if you can crunch numbers and find a flaw in either idea, then you may sway someone on the Board.  I think hard, cold numbers could change minds in either direction.

(I am assuming that the 6th grade academy idea is out and it's either co-locate the new middle school with JA K-8 or steady state with planning for one more year.)

This is, of course, all in the belief that the Directors ARE willing to look at and consider new data BEFORE they make a decision for their own vote.  I hope each of them are willing to do that because otherwise this will be an exercise in window-dressing for the public and extra work for staff.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

District Updates

From the Times about the West Seattle robberies of Denny students:

Seattle police believe they may have caught at least one teen connected to the armed muggings and beatings of West Seattle middle-schoolers earlier this week.

When officers approached a dozen teens hanging out around 4 p.m. today near Roxhill Park, where the armed robberies took place, several of them took off running. Officers chased after them and caught eight, all between 14 and 18 years of age.

One 18-year-old was arrested and booked into King County Jail because of a gun and box of ammo in a car he’d been driving. The seven other teens were released, but police say they’re continuing to examine any links between them and recent robberies in the area.

The Stranger Slog is reporting that Salmon Bay K-8 has dropped out of the MAP boycott.   They surmised, (and I believe rightly so) that their middle school could lose funding via the Families and Education levy for their middle school activities.  (The City wants more accountability of the money spent and thus is tying scores to funding.  I suspect many more schools might join the boycott if not for this funding issue.)

Meanwhile, Thornton Creek teachers join the chorus of schools that support those who are boycotting the MAP.   From their open letter (partial):

We, the teachers at Thornton Creek Elementary, voice our wholehearted support for our colleagues around the Seattle School District who are refusing to give the MAP test. We are continuing to take time from teaching to proctor the test at Thornton Creek because we are making a good faith effort to continue our eighteen month negotiation with the District to replace the MAP with an assessment that is more relevant and humane to our students. This decision was made the afternoon we learned of Garfields action. Our continued administration of MAP should in no way be construed as approval of this flawed and expensive test.

Our experiences and research confirm our belief that the MAP inadequately evaluates students’ knowledge, diverts a lot of time and resources from the school, and narrows the scope of a quality education. 

Teachers in Seattle were told the test would inform instruction. This is false: MAP is not helpful. The MAP does not evaluate what is being taught in our classrooms and does not give teachers feedback that could help us understand individual student needs. Teachers don’t know what is on the test and which questions a student got right or wrong resulting in baffling scores. 

We object to the time and money the MAP takes away from curriculum and instruction. Teachers, librarians, and administrators are spending lots of time to develop testing schedules, troubleshoot ongoing network problems, and update the computers in time for the test administration.  Sometimes
building funds are used to hire proctors to administer the test since funds were not supplied by the district. 

We strongly urge the Seattle School Board to direct District staff to discontinue the MAP and consult with teachers to find more appropriate measures of academic progress. The conversation about MAP at Thornton Creek is not over and we thank the Garfield faculty for strengthening our conviction for the work to come.

If you go to either Patu's or DeBell's Community Meetings today, use this thread to let us know about the discussion.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Superintendent's Press Conference on MAP

 Update:  I reviewed my notes and realized, based on questions about opting out, that I had missed one answer.

I had asked the Superintendent about what would happen to the teachers who boycotted MAP and what would they do with students who opt out (given, for example, that word is that at least 50 Orca students had opted out).

He deflected the teacher question with the "working on solutions" answer but with the students just said that students are able to opt out.  He would not say what any given school would be doing. 

Clearly, he does not want students to opt out or for parents to know they can.  The district probably has given directives to principals in how to handle opt-outs but my experience is that teachers and principals tend to be a little more pragmatic and don't make it in a big deal. 

End of update.

It was interesting to be sure.  The Superintendent was accompanied by Michael Tolley, Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning and Eric Anderson, head of Assessments.  The room was packed with reporters, several of which were student reporters from Hale and Garfield.

Unless otherwise noted, these are Superintendent Banda's answers and not all the questions were mine.

Q- If teachers boycott MAP, what about those suspensions?
A.  He said "We have to focus on solutions but let them (teachers) know potential consequences."

Now what was confusing here is that Communications staff had just passed out the two statements - on to the teachers from HR on outcomes and one about the Assessment Taskforce - and yet the Superintendent seemed reluctant to admit that the district had taken a stand.

Q. Is MAP a flawed exam?
A. It's not perfect, I know that.

Q.  I asked about why the letter to the teacher referenced state law:
A. State law requires that teachers implement a course of study in accordance with District directives.  Administering the MAP to students of tested subjects is a District directive.

(You'll note they don't give the specific RCW and when I asked Jonathan Knapp, head of SEA, he just waved it off.  I have no idea, legally, what is the correct answer.

What I do know is that the State Auditor had had serious issues with how the MAP contract got signed and I pointed out to the Superintendent that it seemed wrong for the District to say there were legal issues and yet ignore legal issues from the other side.)

The Superintendent just kind of shrugged that one off and said he didn't think the State Auditor had said that.

Friday Open Thread

Interim plan for next year kicked down the road another week.   Will the new enrollment data change anyone's mind?

Community meeting with Director DeBell tomorrow from 9-11 am at Cafe Appassionato, near Fisherman's Terminal.

Community meeting with Director Patu tomorrow from 10 am to noon at Cafe Vita, 5028 Wilson Ave. S.

In the "what?!" category, from the Washington Post, the Texas State House has introduced a bill to stop funding for standardized assessments.

"By way of explanation, Speaker Joe Straus said, “To parents and educators concerned about excessive testing, the Texas House has heard you.”

Last year about this time school districts in Texas started passing resolutions saying that high-stakes standardized tests were “strangling” public schools, and hundreds of districts representing nearly 90 percent of the state’s K-12 students have followed suit. Then Robert Scott, the man who was then state education commissioner, said publicly that the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should be."

Texas students are tested 45 days out of the 180-day school year.  The article does mention Garfield's stand.   

The Atlantic has a great article about why "Gloomy Pundits and Politicians are Wrong about America's Education System." 

It's failing our poorest students and codding the richest. Americans are falling desperately behind the rest of the developed world.

But here's what a new study from the Economic Policy Institute tells us about America's education system: Every one of those common assumptions is simplistic, misguided, or downright wrong.
When you break down student performance by social class, a more complicated, yet more hopeful, picture emerges, highlighted by two pieces of good news. First, our most disadvantaged students have improved their math scores faster than most comparable countries. Second, our most advantaged students are world-class readers.

Why break down international test scores by social class? In just about every country, poor students do worse than rich students. America's yawning income inequality means our international test sample has a higher share of low-income students, and their scores depress our national average. An apples-to-apples comparison of Americans students to their international peers requires us to control for social class and compare the performances of kids from similarly advantaged and disadvantaged homes. Friday funny for the kids (and parents) with what wild animals are really doing and thinking. What's on your mind?

Friday funny, show the kids.  

What's on your mind?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Publicola and The Stranger say YES to Levies

From Publicola:

Cynical voters may see that as an opportunity to vote the local money down as a way to put the state on notice. Astute voters understand that the McCLeary decision highlighted a crisis that demands collective action. Putting the state on notice that Seattle's all in is the smart thing to do.
PubliCola picks "Yes" On Seattle Propositions 1 and 2. 

From The Stranger (keeping in mind, this is The Stranger talking):

But really... vote yes on both of them.

Slashing a quarter of our schools' funding would be absolutely unthinkable. So don't even think it.

Can you believe it's 2013 and our schools don't have Wi-Fi?

Remember: The children are our future. And if we don't properly educate them, who will take care of us when we're old and helpless? So approve the fuck out of these school levies.

Nothing like The Stranger taking the view of "what's in it for me?"  which is a great reasoning for people who don't want to vote yes.  An educated populace to pay your Social Security, that's what's in it for you.

Schools First video for the levies (with my favorite student leader, President of the Student Senate, Dexter Tang.)

How to Make a Point in a Discussion?

From recent elections, there are those who confuse arguing with attacking in order to get what they want or to marginalize others. 

I saw this during the charter school election when I got personally attacked by both Lisa Macfarlane and Shannon Campion at several debates.  (What is interesting is that Tim Ceis, the former city official who was known as a pitbull, could not have been nicer at the debates.)  I had thought, in the moment to respond back, but my reward was watching the faces of the audience and clearly, people think little of personal attacks. 

Now from Ms. Campion, I expected that.  She's a shill for Stand for Children.  But Lisa and I have known each other professionally for years.  We have stood together on issues around the World School.  I expected better from her but apparently they wanted to win the election at any cost. 

Now, over at the Times, there is an op-ed - well, really an advertisement - from the head of the Northwest Evaluation Association, the group that sells and services MAP.   I've seen other business-types write op-eds but generally they don't push their own business/product. 

I give the CEO, Matt Chapman, for being quite careful in what he says about teachers.  

Educators are rightfully concerned. In a decadelong quest for accountability, we have lost sight of the real purpose of assessments in the schools, and the mission of public schools themselves — student learning.  

But then he says:

We understand that some educators are concerned that students are being over-tested and are growing more frustrated as student performance is included as part of teacher evaluation.

No, teachers aren't frustrated over using student performance as part of their evaluation.  They are frustrated AND worried over tests that don't help them be great teachers to their students.

He says MAP was developed by researchers, educators and psychometricians.

(FYI, I didn't know that word, psychometrician, so I looked it up:

A psychometrician is someone who practices the science of educational and psychological measurement, or in other words, testing.)

So I weighed in and simply stated that while Mr. Chapman calls NEA, "an organization", it is, in truth, a business.  

So then, here's Lynne Varner of the Times:

Great discussion here and honesty is critical to that. You're right testing is a business. But why is that a problem?

Isn't your blog a business in which you're accepting advertising in the hopes of turning a profit? 

And again, making it personal.  The argument is not about me or the blog but somehow she thought it worthy of inserting it into the discussion.   And, the blog existed for YEARS before we monetized it.

Folks, Charlie and I make gas money.  If I had time, yes, I would spend time trying to make more money off the blog but guess what?  Most of my time is spent reading, talking to everyone I can, attending meetings and pondering.  Oh yes, and writing. 

In other words, this blog is not a business.  

I know that people in power in this town like to marginalize the blog.   They worry about cold, hard truths getting out there especially about what they are doing behind the scenes.  They wish we would pack up our tent and go away.  So I take their comments with a grain of salt and a smile.

SPS Librarians also Speak Out on MAP

From our friends at the Stranger Slog, what librarians are saying:

Laurie Amster-Burton, who spoke on behalf of librarians, says she actually switched schools in part because of how invasive MAP testing had become in regard to library time and space. The district has told educators that it thanks them for their concern but it needs time to work out a solution, but Amster-Burton says that these problems have existed for years, and educators have been bringing them up with the district the whole time. She brought with her a letter to Superintendent Banda, signed by 35 Seattle school librarians, in support of the Garfield teachers and in opposition to the MAP test.

Excerpt from letter:

Librarians, whose role is to teach information skills and support reading instruction, have been required in many schools to spend weeks and weeks as testing clerks. In many schools the first time a student visits the library is not to check out a book or research a topic, but to take a test—a test that is not aligned to curriculum and covers material that they have not learned.

These issues and many others were raised by librarians and teachers to district administrators over the years, but no major changes have been made.

The Slog also issued a call to arms to parents (based on a question I asked at the press conference at Garfield on Monday - they were nice enough to call me a "kick-ass blogger - I'll take that):

Parents could be teachers' greatest ally in getting MAP testing killed, but first these boycotting teachers and their allies need to focus their ground-game on getting parents up to speed.

Parents, are you up-to-speed?  Do you understand the issue?  Does it matter to you what your teacher thinks of MAP?

I can't urge you enough that if you do have questions, ask your teacher. Ask your child.  Ask other parents.

If it matters to you, then support the teachers.  If it really matters to you, opt your child out. 

The kids opting out would be more the problem than the teachers if you think about it.

District Continues to Overbuild?

I'm not an architect so someone who know building design or construction, help me out.

The West Seattle Blog has a report about the "preferred schematic" for the future Genesee Hill school where Schmitz Park will be moving.    The good:

The design principles were described as including “really fit(ting) into the challenging site” where Genesee Hill Elementary now sits, and being “timeless” as well as serving as a “community resource … not just a place of learning … to be a community center, to allow for community access onto the site, to use as a park, if you will,” plus “to be sustainable … good steward of taxpayer dollars and good steward of our environment.”

On the second floor, the library would be located in a way that would take advantage of the Mount Rainier and territorial views from that location.” Donelson said that the preferred scheme, even with some two-story buildings, would still allow nearby neighbors to maintain their views.

The bad:

I look at this drawing and think "That looks like two very irregularly shaped buildings plus two "bridge" to join them.  And there's an instrumental music area (fine) and a dance studio (what?). 

Now what I heard from the BEX Oversight Committee - months ago - is a move towards a more generic elementary building.  Find three reasonable blueprints and the community can ask for one.


Because SPS has overdesigned and overbuilt now for years.  It costs a LOT of money for these irregular buildings.  Most people who have been in bad buildings will be grateful for shiny, new, safe and healthy.

I hope this is going back to the drawing board because I find it hard to believe this is a $38M building and if it is, couldn't it be simplified down to $30M?  There is so much need to go around.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Robberies of Denny Students Cause Concern

From West Seattle Blog:

3:13 PM UPDATE: The SPD report says this was one of TWO robberies targeting kids that age, in that area, in the past four days – the first one was near 27th and Cambridge last Sunday, and yesterday’s robbery is now described as having happened in Roxhill Park itself. Details here 

Chief Sealth Teachers to Boycott MAP

It appears that at least some of Chief Sealth teachers will be boycotting the MAP.  (I received this statement via Facebook from a teacher at Sealth.)

Be it resolved that we, the undersigned educators from Chief Sealth International High School do hereby support statements and actions of our colleagues at Garfield High School regarding the MAP test. Furthermore, we join our colleagues in their boycott and refuse to administer the MAP test to students at Chief SealthInternational High School. 

Interim Plan Vote Postponed at Least a Week

The Board is currently voting to extend the voting time and will NOT be voting tonight.  They are extending it at least a week (or more) but need to get it done before enrollment starts in late Feb.

I believe the Board must have gotten tremendous pressure about the plan to change the voting date.

They will be receiving new enrollment data from the Enrollment office.  Directors are debating whether gettting the data on Tuesday night for a Wednesday vote is fair to families and community.
Is it sufficient time for these people to give input?

Tracy Libros says they need a week to be sure.

Trying for 36 hours between posting of new info and meeting so the vote is set for Thursday, January 31st at 5 p.m.

This removes the vote and Director Carr's amendment.

Update:  All the directors wanted to make sure there was as much time as possible for people to weigh in on the new enrollment numbers (and possible ramifications to any plan) so kudos to them for that effort.

From the National Education Association

WASHINGTON—National Education Association (NEA) members at Garfield High School in Seattle, Wash., voted to not administer the district-mandated Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) standardized test that is not aligned with state standards or the district curriculum. NEA has long urged for the careful consideration of the fact that these tests are being used to make decisions about students’ and teachers’ futures, and have corrupted the pursuit of improving real learning and effective teaching.

A rally event organized by the Seattle Education Association in support of Garfield High School educators will be held in Seattle on Wednesday, January 23, 2013, at 4 p.m. PST at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence.

The following is a statement by NEA President Dennis Van Roekel:

“Today is a defining moment within the education profession as educators at Seattle’s Garfield High School take a heroic stand against using the MAP test as a basis for measuring academic performance and teacher effectiveness. I, along with 3 million educators across the country, proudly support their efforts in saying ‘no’ to giving their students a flawed test that takes away from learning and is not aligned with the curriculum. Garfield High School educators are receiving support from the parents of Garfield students. They have joined an ever-growing chorus committed to one of our nation’s most critical responsibilities—educating students in a manner that best serves the realization of their fullest potential.

“Educators across the country know what’s best for their students, and it’s no different for our members in Seattle. We know that having well-designed assessment tools can help students evaluate their own strengths and needs, and help teachers improve. This type of assessment isn’t done in one day or three times a year. It’s done daily, and educators need the flexibility to collaborate with their colleagues and the time to evaluate on-going data to make informed decisions about what’s best for students.

“If we want a system that is designed to help all students, we must allow educators, parents, students and communities to be a part of the process and have a stronger voice in this conversation as they demand high-quality assessments that support student learning. Off-the-shelf assessments that are not aligned with the curriculum or goals of the school are not the answer.”

Timely Updates

Apparently, the Superintendent has sent out a letter to teachers that is to read at mandatory faculty meetings today.   It informs teachers of the outcomes of not giving the MAP test.  (I am going to verify what that is but it does involve punishment.)

If you support the teachers and believe MAP does not help your student, let the Superintendent know:

Phone: (206) 252-0180
Fax: (206) 252-0209
Email: superintendent@seattleschools.org

On-line petition.

Also, about the interim plan, Apparently Directors Carr and Martin-Morris attended a meeting at Sacajawea last night to allow parents to air their concerns.  I give the directors credit for showing up for what was likely a difficult meeting.

What is astonishing is that Pegi McEvoy apparently said that Sacajawea's 5th graders might have to get split up for middle school because of their boundary pattern.


Well, I hope that gets changed when they change boundaries because no 5th grade class should get split up.  (If parents choose something else for their 5th grader, that's one thing.)  I ask you all how you would feel if you had to tell your child this news.

What's also interesting is that the northern part of Wedgwood might end up going to the new JA Middle School when boundaries are redrawn.  I'm sure that will go over well. 

That's a lot of change for a number of families; I find it unfortunate that it seems there will be great and severe impacts for two years for some families. 

Board Meeting Likely to be Lively

I suspect that given the district has a media event to explain the interim plan for next year AND the SEA is having a "boycott the MAP" rally at 4 p.m. outside of JSCEE AND the large number of concerns over the interim plan, the Board meeting is probably going to be lively (to say the least).  

What questions do you think I should ask at the media event?

The speaker list reflects that most of the speakers are going to talk about the interim plan.  The speakers start at 5 p.m with the vote on the interim plan occurring roughly at 6:30 p.m.   Sadly, I think that the directors will all choose to give lengthy explanations of their votes.  I say sadly because sometimes I find it even harder to take a vote based on reasoning I hear given. 

Charters in Chicago

A lengthy and devastating account of public schools in the Chicago school system, created by the Chicago teachers union.  While I'm sure some of the viewpoint is somewhat skewed, they have hard data. 

Thanks to my friend, Carolyn, for this info.

What About BEX?

What are you hearing at your school about the levies?  Is there a big push on?  I know that at least 20+ schools have endorsed it.

Yesterday, the Times had an op-ed from the head of School First, Greg Wong, in support of the levies but it had one day on their webpage and is now gone to their file area.  Kind of odd. 

The election is less than a month away and ballots are coming your way next week.  And, yet this seems to be a decidedly low-key election.  Does the district NOT want to call attention to it?

I go on record as saying I support both levies.  

(FYI, I find it unlikely that either levy will fail but if one or both did, the district can come back again in a couple of months.  It would cost a lot of money.  If that didn't pass, at least for Operations, I'm sure the State would step in with some funds.  The district could not suffer a loss of 25% of its Operating budget.)

But there are definite rumblings against BEX.

 I know watchdog Chris Jackins is actively out there.  He is very concerned over the Wilson-Pacific building, its murals and, of course, the outcomes for programs there that serve Native American students.  Chris seems to be stepping up his efforts this time and going to different community groups to speak out.

 In every BEX there is generally one problematic project and that one for BEX IV is the new TC Elementary.  The district insisted on rebuilding South Shore, even as it was attached to the Rainier Beach Community Center.  Waiting would have meant sharing the planning and costs.  And now, yes, the City is redoing RBCC (albeit slowly).  There is a value to waiting.

Some members of the Wedgwood neighborhood are very unhappy about Thorton Creek's site and the new elementary there.  I can't blame them.They may or may not mount an organized effort.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Co-Location It Is for JA K-8

 So unless someone has a change of heart, it appears that Director Carr has decided her vote for next year's Interim Plan.  She has submitted an amendment (which yes, could get defeated but I doubt it) and it signals, rather clearly, her vote.  The only vote still up in the air is Director McLaren but she appears to be leaning that way as well. 

14, as submitted by staff on January 22, 2013, to (1) restore the language included at
Introduction on January 9, 2013, where the Jane Addams building will be designated to become
an attendance area middle school and the new attendance area middle school and the current Jane
Addams K-8 environmental science option school will be temporarily co-located in the Jane
Addams building; and (2) to direct the Superintendent to designate a Jane Addams Middle
School planning principal or provide for equivalent planning activities, effective April, 2013.


1.      Both Hamilton and Eckstein are running at over capacity already

2.      Safety incidents at Eckstein have increased due to overcrowding

3.      Projected enrollment grows significantly, including special populations such as APP.

4.      Families have signaled a clear preference for comprehensive middle schools.

5.      The FACMAC has urged us to proceed with opening a new middle school as soon as possible, recommending even stronger action such as the immediate splitting Eckstein into North and South Annexes and the movement of Jane Addams K-8 to Marshall. Most recent communication was Monday, January 21, 2013, reinforcing this message.

School Board Briefing/Proposed Action Report6. Significant parent support demonstrated through email and community meetings is to

proceed with an early opening of JAMS.
6. Significant parent support demonstrated through email and community meetings is to
proceed with an early opening of JAMS.

7.   The district will incur an addition $250-400k in expenses from our general fund over two years if we proceed with the current proposal to use surge capacity.

8.   The proposed amendment would provide relief to both Eckstein and Hamilton, and would utilize excess capacity at the Jane Addams building.

9.   This change is an incremental step that aligns with our long term BEX plan.

It is important to acknowledge that this change has immediate and unexpected impacts on some of our families in Northeast Seattle. Our commitment is to work with them to ensure that a full and meaningful comprehensive middle school experience is provided to them starting in fall 2013 and that a JAMS planning principal is in place effective April, 2013.

If adopted, this amendment will have the effect that all short and interim term capacity management plans will align with the intended use of the Jane Addams building as a comprehensive middle school.
Okay, BUT:

- This is NOT going to significantly alleviate the crowding at Hamilton or Eckstein.
- It goes AGAINST what staff told the far NE families at John Rogers, Sacajawea and Olympic Hills.
- It really does nothing to solve the issue of APP growth.
- I will quibble over the "significant parent support" - based on the survey and the running comments here, I strongly suspect it is neck and neck which thing parents want to see.
- She makes the claim that there is "excess capacity" at JA K-8 and I hope there is not an unpleasant surprise or shifting of programs because of this decision.
- Interesting that FACMAC had an emergency meeting to make the decision to tell the Board/Director Carr their feelings.  Or did they poll FACMAC members or just who told Director Carr this?

Also, Director Carr said, at the Work Session, "I could go either way"; she did not say "I don't know" or "I still need to consider it."  A little confusing there because it sounded like she actually thought it was six of one and half a dozen of another. 

JA K-8 folks, you're going to have neighbors.

To the new student body of Jane Addams Middle School (and parents), hold to them every single promise they make but do remember, they did say they wouldn't make this change for next year at several community meetings so honestly, hard to know what promises they will or will not keep.

KUOW Report on the Alliance for Education

It's a doozy.

The first head of the Alliance, Sue Tupper (who coincidentally ran the No on 1240 campaign for the WEA), said this:

"When the organization started, there was great sensitivity to needing to take the cues from the school district, rather than coming up with an agenda and then imposing that agenda on the school district," Tupper said.


National Graduation Rate Rises

From the Washington Post:

The percentage of students at public high schools who graduate on time has reached its highest level in nearly 40 years, according to the most recent federal government estimates released Tuesday.
Based on data collected from the states for the Class of 2010, the National Center for Education Statistics estimated that 78 percent of students across the country earned a diploma within four years of starting high school. The graduation rate was last at that level in 1974, officials said.

Asian students had the highest graduation rate, with 93 percent of students finishing high school on time. White students followed with an 83 percent graduation rate, American Indians and Alaska Natives with 69.1 percent and African Americans with 66.1 percent.

Notable in 2010 was the rise in the percentage of Hispanic students who graduate on time, with a 10-point jump over the past five years, to 71.4 percent. 

Boys dropped out of school in higher numbers than girls in every state. The national dropout rate was 3.8 percent for boys and 2.9 percent for girls.

Now, I'm sure all our ed reformers will credit charter schools for this but no, I don't think so.   The national graduation rate has not changed much since the '60s.  Is it good that a fourth of kids don't graduate?  No.  But it may take more than smoke and mirrors to change that.

“When the economy turns down or there are poor economic conditions, there’s a lack of available jobs for high school dropouts, fewer jobs that they can actually be qualified for,” Buckley told reporters last week. “Historically, there has been a correlation between the dropout rate going down when the economy is weaker.”

Cities do worse than states overall.

One study found the graduation rate for the Class of 2005 in the nation’s 50 largest cities was 53 percent, compared with 71 percent in the suburbs.

Dropout rates do not combine with graduation rates to total 100 percent because they do not include students who take longer than four years to graduate or those who earn GED certificates.

In 2005, the Education Department began publishing an official estimate of graduation rates, and all 50 states agreed to adopt a standard method of calculating those rates by 2013.

Iowa and Vermont have the highest rates (about 87%) with Nevada the worst and, oddly, Oregon was fourth from the bottom (across all races).