Showing posts from January, 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" n

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

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.  Loo

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. Publ

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 J

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

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:

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 th

Agenda and Documents for Interim Plan Vote Thursday

Agenda . 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

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

 Update: 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 ne

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. Details: 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 result

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

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 a

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

Special Meeting This Thursday for Interim Plan Vote

From President Smith-Blum: SCHOOL BOARD TO VOTE ON CAPACITY MANAGEMENT PLAN AT JANUARY 31st SPECIAL MEETING 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 p

District Updates

From the Times about the West Seattle robberies of Denny students : S eattle 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.  (T

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 E

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  

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

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

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

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:

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 Sealth International 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 p

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: 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. Really? Well, I hope that gets changed when they change boundaries because no 5th grade class should get split up. 

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 activel

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.  I move to amend the NEW STUDENT ASSIGNMENT PLAN TRANSITION PLAN FOR 2013- 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. VI. S

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. Exactly.

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 n