Showing posts from February, 2013

School Board Retreat

I finally did find details of the Board Retreat this Saturday, the 1st of March. It's at a place called The Hub Seattle , 220 2nd Avenue South in Pioneer Square from 10:30 am to 5:30 p.m. And once again, you have to pay for parking.  I find this quite off-putting for members of the public given the number of venues in this town (and particularly the number of  - free - SPS ones).  But if you are staff, the Board, or the Alliance, of course, you won't be paying for parking. Then again, I'm not sure the Board or staff really cares if any member of the public comes. The Hub Seattle sounds like an interesting place. HUB Seattle, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and Social Venture Partners have teamed up to launch a Center for Impact and Innovation in the heart of downtown Seattle. Housed in the historic Masin’s furniture building in Pioneer Square, this unique facility houses one of the largest concentrations of social entrepreneurs in the country. Together, we’re creatin

Taxes and Public Education

The Stranger is reporting that the Washington State Supreme Court has struck down the two-thirds supermajority requirement for taxes, 6-3.  Basically, the Constitution sets a minimum already and that's enough for the Court.  Interestingly they also said: However, we reverse the trial court's decision that the Referendum Requirement presents a justiciable controversy. Because the Referendum Requirement is not justiciable, we make no determination as to its constitutionality. (FYI, on "justiciable" - Essentially, justiciability in American law seeks to address whether a court possesses the ability to provide adequate resolution of the dispute; where a court feels it cannot offer such a final determination, the matter is not justiciable.  From Wiki.) This is a relief and may help with the McCleary decision. Update: The Times' headline on their website - " High court makes it easier for lawmakers to raise taxes."   Seriously.  A majority is a

Who's Heading the Race to the Top Consortium?

That would be former SPS staffer Jessica de Barros.  Sigh.

One More Reason to Wonder about Tom

From The Stranger Slog (with the headline "Rodney Tom Hates Teachers"): With zero notice Sunday, just one day before it was heard by the Ways & Means Committee, millionaire state Senate Majority "Leader" Rodney Tom (R-Medina) filed a bill that would eliminate defined pension benefits for most state and public school employees , replacing them with a risky 401-K-style savings plan that would subject future retirees to the whims of the market. SB 5856 , of which Tom is the sole sponsor, would apply to all future public employees and all current public employees under the age of 45. That means if you chose a career as a school teacher twenty years ago, trading the opportunity to strike it rich in the private sector for the promise of a secure retirement, you are totally fucked . Of course, a lot of states have catastrophically underfunded their public employee pension plans. But not Washington . No, Washington has the second strongest funded pension sy

Legal Challenge Filed to I-1240

It's on. From the WEA: Educators and community groups file legal challenge to new charter school law A coalition of educators and community groups has filed a legal demand with the Washington Attorney General challenging the constitutionality of Initiative 1240, the state’s new charter school law. The demand asserts I-1240, the Charter School Act, violates the Washington Constitution by improperly diverting public school funds to private non-profit groups that are not subject to local voter control and impeding the state’s constitutional obligation to fund fully K-12 public education. The League of Women Voters of Washington, the Washington Education Association and El Centro de la Raza filed the demand with the state attorney general’s office earlier today. “The Washington Supreme Court has ruled the state is violating its paramount duty to fund our public schools,” said Catherine Ahl of the League. “The Charter School Act drains money from public schools

Ed Reform Flowchart

A very nifty flowchart from our friends at the Seattle Education blog (Sue Peters and Dora Taylor) showing the "lines of influence" both nationally and locally.  They created this awhile back and admit it needs updating like the line between Gates and the Alliance, that Goodloe-Johnson is gone, and there are even more connections than ever in 2013.

Scrap the Map Event at UW

From Scrap the Map: Standardized testing discussion at University of Washington Physics & Astronomy Bldg Room A102 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. this Thursday, the 28th. Seattle teachers at Garfield HS, Ballard HS, Chief Sealth HS, the Center School and Orca K-8 voted to stop administering the widely used and highly unfair standardized Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test. The are now facing the threat of "consequences" for refusing the give the test. Students and parents are joining the struggle in defense of their teachers and their right to a quality education. The outcome of this grassroots movement will have an enormous impact on the future of resistance to high sta kes testing around the country! Featuring: Diane Ravitch Educational policy analyst, NYU professor*, former US Assistant Secretary of State Wayne Au UW-Bothell Assistant Professor, Member of Rethinking Schools editorial board Jesse Hagopian Garfield HS teacher, founding member of Social Eq

Seattle Schools Leadership Posts Announced

From Superintendent Banda via SPS Communications (and I believe one of our astute readers called this one for Michael Tolley about a week ago): "I am pleased to announce that after a strong national search, Michael Tolley has been named Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, where he will oversee all aspects of students’ academic growth at Seattle Public Schools. Mr. Tolley stepped into this role as the Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in September and has demonstrated his strong leadership. He plans to have the District’s Teaching and Learning team continue development of a comprehensive professional development plan to implement the Common Core State Standards and provide students with increased academic and social/emotional supports. In addition, he will focus on working with school and Central Office staff to address opportunity gaps across the District and to ensure that the needs of each and every student are appropriately met. Mr. To

Should All Students Learn to Code?

This is a new video circulating out in the Internet world.  You'll recognize many of the faces in it. Look, I'm married to someone who knows how to program (and teaches computer science).  He did a stint at Google and yes, it's an exceptional work environment (free food - for both you and your dog - free snacks, massage chairs, games - it's a swell place to work).   But I would also gently point out that not everyone is cut out to be a programmer and many of the people in computer science have what I might gently call "communication issues."  Sometimes people are drawn to certain jobs based on their personalities. Yes, learning to program does bring together a lot of elements in the brain.   I think it might be good to have an elective class in every high school for programming.  But not everyone is going to have to program to have a job. Do I think it should be a core item to teach?  I do not.  I sense some arrogance in this video about who the new

Tuesday Open Forum

Another film-making competition that high school students can enter from the NW High School Film Festival.  They also have a scholarship competition as well. Looks like the district may not be able to save the Native American murals at Wilson-Pacific after all.  The artist feels he's getting the runaround from the district and has declined permission to digital reproduce them. From the Times: He repeatedly congratulated the district for the passage of the levy, which he opposed. But Morrison said he’s lost trust in the district, in part because no school official approached him about saving the murals until he started showing up at public meetings about the levy. He also said he’s talked wit h four different officials, and has no confidence they won’t simply continue to pass him along. “For many reasons,” he said, “it’s in my best interests to step away.” (P.S.  This may be one of the last Times' articles I will be able to link to for the blog.  I am unlikel

Upcoming Elections and Public Education in Seattle

This fall the citizens of Seattle will be voting for mayor.  As of now, I believe there are seven candidates.  I have interviewed one of them - Peter Steinbrueck - and have Kate Martin on tap.  I will reach out to Mayor McGinn but from working with him over the last several years, I have a good idea of his views.  One of the candidates is Councilman Tim Burgess.  The Councilman has been deeply involved in Seattle public education and was a big supporter of the Families & Education levy.  He also has shown a propensity for behind-the-scenes con-fabs with high-level SPS leaders and it is unclear to me whether he ever shared any of this information with other councilmembers.  (We have public disclosure e-mails to thank for this info.)  Now I see that Councilman Burgess is being thrown a fundraiser this week by the following people: Michael and Marie DeBell, Sherry Carr, Clover Codd, Bree Dusseault , Chris Eide, David Elliot, Christina Gonzalez, Chris Korsmo, Peter Maier, Lisa Mac

How Sequester Cut Will Hurt Public Education

From our friends at The Stranger Slog : Washington will lose approximately $11,606,000 in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 160 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 11,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 50 fewer schools would receive funding. In addition, Washington will lose approximately $11,251,000 in funds for about 140 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, Feb. 25th Open Enrollment starts today and ends on March 8th.  Info on enrollment. Wednesday, Feb 27th Oversight Work Session :  Technology Services - 4 pm - 5ish Work Session: Budget - 5:30- 6:30 pm Saturday, March 2nd Board Retreat - no details available about where or when.   A few words on the retreats.  The Alliance for Education has been gracious enough to sponsor Board retreats, probably for the last several years.  Usually this has been in the form of finding a site (although I don't know why they pay for an off-site rather than using one of the many SPS sites for free), food, printing, etc. However, at the last Board retreat, the Alliance staffer sat at the table, with the Superintendent and the Board.  This was not the norm.  She then gave input during the discussion.  I was completely dumbfounded as this retreat is for the Board, the Superintendent and the staff.  I asked the facilitator (also paid for by the Alliance) who set the agenda and he s


Short film competition at MOHAI - open to all ages - History is  ________ .    Submissions through March 31.   There are several youth awards for students 17 and younger. Shout out to MAP boycott leader (and Garfield teacher) Jesse Hagopian for his appearance in Seattle Met's "Perfect Party" group.  (See page 28 of the March issue.)  I appeared on one of these lists but I was grouped with Eddie Vedder so I was very happy. Remember I was questioning why the Chief Communications Officer at Starbucks, Blair Taylor, was the moderator for the Michelle Rhee talk at Townhall?  As I previously mentioned, she handpicked him to do it.  (And as someone who has done a few of these things, I have rarely seen a guest be allowed to pick their interviewer.) Starbucks media did get back to me and said that Mr. Taylor did this on his own.  I pointed out that the press release only mentioned his affiliation with Starbucks and NOT that he sits on Rhee's StudentsFirst board.  The

Downtown School Update

 Councilman (and mayoral candidate) Tim Burgess has a regular newsletter that he sends out. Here's what he has to say about the South Lake Union development and a "public school." 3. Support our public school system. Two weeks ago, Seattle voters once again demonstrated generous support for public education by renewing two vital levies at a time when more parents are enrolling their children in public school. City government can do more to support the school district by encouraging the development of an elementary school for the growing number of families in the greater downtown area. With this up-zone of South Lake Union, we must craft language that specifies what a developer would need to build for a school (such as space suitable for classrooms, cafeteria and a gymnasium) to earn additional building height. As with any piece of land use legislation, the details of how we seek to accomplish these policies will be very important. The Council will meet on Monday in Ci

Friday Open Thread

I attended the Assessment Taskforce meeting yesterday.  It was a good meeting that was very well organized (kudos to staff) and the talk by Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University who phoned in was stellar.  I'll put up a thread this weekend.  (If only the Advanced Learning taskforce work had been organized this well.) The Garfield teachers are having a press conference today at 3:15 p.m. to talk about the coming consequences of their MAP boycott action.  Those consequences could start as soon as today as this is the last day of the winter testing window.  From the press release: "Of the over 800 MAP tests that were supposed to be administered at Garfield during the winter testing window, only around 180 valid tests were administered - further demonstrating the unity of the Garfield community in the pursuit of quality assessment."  It is confusing as the Superintendent told the teachers that, despite his plans to suspend them without pay for 10 days, that he w

Why I Can't Support Michelle Rhee's Efforts

Many seem to think that the criticism of Michelle Rhee has to do with her personal style of presentation of her ideas.  She herself has said she had a "PR" problem in D.C.   I would agree that she can be off-putting.  (I even find a little of myself in her as she and I have a tendency to get to the point in a blunt manner that can be hard on others who prefer a gentler nuanced delivery.)  In the Frontline special on her, she says even her mother thought her too cold as a child and said that maybe her new job was just right for her because she needed that coldness.  (I sense in Rhee and her background that blunt talk was the order of the day.) Here's my thread on that show. But, in the end, it is not Rhee, it's her ideas.   And she certainly is the poster child for ed reform and there was no surprise that Time Magazine put her on the cover for that reason. But let's break this down.  First, what has she truly accomplished that gives her the stature to say th

David Brooks on "Data"

Thanks to a reader for this heads up on this column by David Brooks, "Driven to Distraction by Too Much Big Data" - it is well worth reading and pondering especially for public education. I want what is done in our state to be based on some degree of data and experience BUT I agree with Brooks - there are many other factors to consider in any kind of decision-making especially about children and learning.   But unlike Michelle Rhee, I don't want change for change's sake especially with a statement like this: “Given where we are today, given how poorly things are going in large part, we can’t afford to wait until all the studies are done on a single issue,” said Rhee..." Well, given our scarce education dollars, we can't afford NOT to make sure that the changes we make are based on some kind of real, verifiable and scalable evidence.

Assessment Taskforce

Sorry for the late notice but I had been trying to find the location for today's Assessment Taskforce meeting. The meeting is today, Feb. 21st from 4-6 p.m. at JSCEE in room #2278.   The public can come and view the meeting but "the limitation is the size of the room."  If you go and are turned away for space, let me know and we can work on that. Here's a list of members and meeting minutes (there has been one meeting so far).   The group includes several Garfield reps including the testing coordinator at Garfield, a student and the principal.  There are four parents in the group (although some of the schools' staff may also be parents).  The facilitator comes from a Kirkland company, Performance Dimensions Group, "the art and science of human performance."  I am waiting for information on how this cost is being paid. Agenda for today's meeting.   Looks good especially since they have Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond from Stanford coming to present

Michelle Rhee has a messaging problem

We have been hearing Republican party officials saying lately that they lost the presidential election last year because they didn't tell their story very well. They had a "messaging" problem. A number of other folks, however, dismiss that explanation and believe that Governor Romney lost the election not because people didn't understand his proposals but because they did. The problem was not the style of the communication but the content. Analogous to that perception, Lynne Varner writes today that people reject Michelle Rhee's message because they don't like her style. I don't think that's the case. I think people just disagree with her. Lots of people. Lots and lots of people. Lots and lots of people with far better credentials in education than hers.

Advanced Classes - For All?

News from OSPI: More Washington students are taking and passing Advanced Placement exams, according to a national report released today.  The College Board’s ninth annual “AP Report to the Nation” shows that 20,581 Washington students (or 32.8 percent) in the class of 2012 took at least one AP exam. That number represents an increase of 1,276 (6.6 percent) from 2011 and 12,068 (62.5 percent) from 2002.  Not only did participation increase again this year, so did scores. In 2012, 20.0 percent of Washington’s 12th graders scored a three or greater – a score that generally qualifies for college credit – on an AP test. In 2011, 18.4 percent of students scored a three or greater; in 2002, 9.6 percent. The 10.4 percentage-point increase in the past 10 years ranks Washington eighth among all states. The national average for the same period was 7.9 percent.  “We’re seeing great results all over the state,” said Randy Dorn, state superintendent. “More students are takin

Mayor McGinn's State of City Speech and Public Education

Thank you to reader Gail for this portion of the Mayor's State of the City speech yesterday.   I have put in red those items that I wanted to call out. Press Release Today, Mayor Mike McGinn gave his fourth State of the City speech. Education and our schools were a major priority. There is no probably no stronger foundation for opportunity, and long term economic success, than ensuring that our children are educated. Click here to view the speech. Early Learning Early learning is a critical place where we can make an even bigger difference. The achievement gap need not be permanent. Kids shouldn't have to go to their first day of kindergarten starting off two laps behind the other kids. If we focus on early learning, every kid can start on that path together. This fall, the City Office for Education will launch an Early Learning Academy to provide high quality, evidence-based early learning training for preschool providers in Seattle. This initiative will

Charter School Watch

It's been awhile since we talked about charters.   I have been stockpiling the stories because, yes, there's a lot happening. FYI, the Washington Board of Education is having a public hearing on charter rules .  They seek input from citizens.  It is on Tuesday, Feb. 26th at 1:00 pm in Olympia at OSPI. Those wishing to provide comment on the draft rules may attend the hearing in Olympia, via K-20 video feed in Spokane at the office of ESD 101, or by writing us directly ( The draft rules establish an annual application and approval process and timelines for local school boards seeking approval to be charter school authorizers. For example, the current draft rules will require school districts to submit an authorizer application to the State Board by June 15 and for the State Board of Education to make decisions on those applications by August 15. The draft rules also set requirements for districts applying to authorize charter schools, as well as criteria fo

Special Education News

From SPS:   Do you have a child with special needs headed for kindergarten, 1st, 6th or 9th grade in Seattle Public Schools in the next academic year (2013-14)? Do you have a child with special needs in other grades within SPS, but have questions about his/her building or program placement? Wednesday, Feb. 20th,  Seattle Public School representatives, in conjunction with Seattle SPED-PTSA and SEAAC, will offer the chance to ask questions about the "riser" process in general and how it relates to your own student. Please join us Wed evening at JSCEE (downtown SPS administrative building at 4th and Lander), room 2700, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tuesday Open Thread

Quite the astonishing report on KUOW about MAP.  Banda sounds a bit tougher: “They chose this way to express themselves and the message is heard loud and clear,” Banda said. “But I’m going to hold firm to the fact that they have obligations and responsibilities. And the expectation is these two assessments will be given." What was astonishing was the response from John Cronin who directs research at the NEA which makes MAP. He says it's a mystery to him why an entire school of teachers would vote to boycott the test. Laughing, Cronin said, "You know, it’s not even something I can speculate on. It’s interesting to us, but not being Seattleites ourselves, I really can’t say that I know what’s motivating them.” It's a very odd thing that he thinks this is funny but it's also a good way to marginalize the teachers' concerns.   What's on your mind?

Events Update

Another event this week: Washington Student Achievement Council Public Forum , on Wed Feb 20, 5–6:30pm , Broadway Performance Hall, Seattle Central Community College, 1625 Broadway, free. The Washington Student Achievement Council is conducting on a statewide Listening Tour to inform the development of a 10-Year Roadmap to increase Washington’s educational attainment level. We want to hear and learn from local communities about what’s working, what we need to pay attention to, and how we can work together to create the integrated, effective education system we need for all Washingtonians. To read recaps of the listening tour sessions and give feedback to the Council, please visit .  Also, a reminder of the Michelle Rhee talk tonight at 7 p.m. at TownHall.  There will be a protest at 6 p.m. so please try to come.  (Anyone staying to hear her talk?  I just can't - I think I might say something uncivil and that would not be good.)  The moderator is...t

Just a Reminder

Tele-townhall TONIGHT at 7 p.m. on standardized testing.   It's being sponsored by Fair Test ,"the National Center for Fair and Open Testing that works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing AND to ensure that the evaluation of our students, teachers and schools is done in a fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial manner." Speakers include Garfield student body president, Obadiah Perry; Mallory Clarke, Garfield High teacher, and the executive director of Fair Test, Dr. Monty Neill.   It starts at 7p.m.  and the call-in number is   1-(866) 476-7782

School Websites and their Information

As I have often said (and found), when you starting looking for one thing, you often find another.  I wanted to see what might be being said at different middle schools about overcrowding.  I found various things but it was what I found being said about other issues that was interesting. One thing I notice is that many middle schools seem to assume in their newsletters/updates that all parents know everyone who works in the school/PTA.  I was the editor for the Eckstein PTA newsletter and I quickly realized that making assumptions about what parents do and do not know is a bad idea.  One, because it isn't true that everyone is up-to-speed on how things work for any given program/activity at school.  Two, it can lead to shutting people out because they feel dumb/frustrated for asking questions.

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, Feb. 18th No school for the Presidents' Day holiday. Reminder: Seattle Testing Tele Town Hall : What’s Next After the MAP boycott? Mon. Feb 18, 7pm PST. Toll-free dial in (866) 476-7782.  A discussion of standardized testing in K-12 public education. Also, you DO call in today (even if a holiday) to get on the speakers list for the Board meeting on Wednesday.  It's 252-0040 or Tuesday, Feb. 19th Protest of Michelle Rhee before her talk at Town Hall at 6 p.m.   Wednesday, Feb. 20th School Board meeting starting at 4:15 p.m.  Agenda The agenda includes: - intro of contract to start Arbor Heights planning - intro of contract for Cedar Park planning - intro of contract for Van Asselt reopening - intro of contract for John Marshall reopening in 2013 (note that would be this fall).  Interesting. - intro of contract for new school at Thorton Creek (or equivalent site) - intro of contract for New Jane Addams K-8 at Pinehurst

Whiplash over at the Times

If you were someone who had moved to Seattle in the last year, you might be forgiven for trying to figure out what it is that the Seattle Times is doing in support of public school levies. Most of the time, according to them, the district can't do anything right (and this is over, say, the last two years when, coincidentally, there has been a majority power shift on the Board and we have a new superintendent who has received tepid support from them). First, the Times writes an editorial in support of them but with a lot of finger-wagging especially around leadership (and not, as you might suspect, around transparency of dollars spent). Then the Times has an article on the levies that mentions only one group opposing BEX.  Meanwhile there have been at least three sets of people going against the BEX levy.  Three sets.   And yet, the Times, in its reporting, said there was only one (until today that is).  

Upcoming Special Events

Monday night, the 18th , I'll be moderating a tele-townhall about standardized testing.   It's being sponsored by Fair Test ,"the National Center for Fair and Open Testing that works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing AND to ensure that the evaluation of our students, teachers and schools is done in a fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial manner." It starts at 7p.m.  and the call-in number is 1-(866) 476-7782 Speakers include Garfield student body president, Obadiah Perry; Mallory Clarke, Garfield High teacher, and the executive director of Fair Test, Dr. Monty Neill.   Tuesday night, the 19th , the smartest girl in the room, ed reformer Michelle Rhee, will be in town to push her book at Town Hall.  There is a protest starting at 6 p.m. that I hope to attend because Rhee should know that there are real people who do not believe what she is saying (or selling).   A good overview of Rhee is here at the Seattle Education blog .  Town Ha

Rainier Beach High School Flyer

I got a promotional flyer from Rainier Beach High School. It came on an email from the Rainier Beach family support worker/marketing coordinator Virginia Owens.

Update on Eckstein Capacity Issues

I hope this to be the last word on capacity issues at Eckstein (but I suspect not as these parents are quite persistent).  From the  DPD/FMO.  (I am not posting the entire thing but here's pertinent info.) "During inspection, staff walked the halls and observed class sizes and hall traffic between classes.   No signs of overcrowding in halls or classrooms was observed with respect to allowing safe exiting in the event of emergency. " "For purposes of safe exiting, the more doors you have off (classrooms and offices and hallways), the more people you can have in the building.  Based on current building code standards, the size of the rooms and number/proximity of exits, Eckstein Middle School could safely handle over 4,000 people for purposes of exiting." "Portables with one door are limited to 49 occupants but portables with an additional exit can have more." Re: pedestrians - " The topic of student safety is important and should be discusse

Friday Open Thread

Back from the (un) Walking Dead (4 days of a massive migraine culminating in a trip to the ER to get relief - hence, my lack of engagement here). Anyone attend any Board Committee meetings this week? Reminder that  Director DeBell and President Smith-Blum both have community meetings tomorrow morning.   (Director DeBell's has been postponed.) Superintendent Banda issued a thank you to Seattle voters for the overwhelming support for the two school levies this week.  He also said thanks to FACMAC, the BEX Oversight Committee, volunteers and staff. Did you know The Source got updated?  Here's info . What's on your mind?

Strategic Plan

The Board has directed the Superintendent to draft a Strategic Plan. They have some ideas about what they want in it. A Strategic Plan Stakeholder's Taskforce has been formed and they will express some ideas about what they want in it. What do YOU want in it?

Wednesday Open Thread

What's on your mind?

BOTH Levies Passing

According to KC Elections, both Props 1 and 2 are passing about 75% to 25%. Thank you, Seattle voters!


STEM schools - Where's the Art?  on the Nature Consortium blog.

State of the Union Speech Tomorrow Night

President Obama will be delivering his State of the Union speech tomorrow night.  Here's what Diane Ravitch would like him to say about public education. What would you like to hear President Obama say?

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, Feb. 11th Curriculum&Instruction Policy Committee Meeting from 4-5:30 p.m. Agenda  Tuesday, Feb. 12th Special Education Advocacy &Advisory Council Meeting from 6:30-9:00 p.m. at JSCEE, 2nd floor, room 2700.  The Open Forum & District updates portion of the meeting is from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Levy election for Operations and BEX. State of the Union speech by President Obama at 6 p.m.   Wednesday, Feb. 13th Executive Committee Meeting from 8:30-10:00 am.  Agenda .  Review of next couple of Board meeting agendas, government relations, community engagement, strategic plan.  And, the next Board Retreat agenda which I am very interested in because I am hoping to be sponsoring that retreat (just as the Alliance for Education is allowed to). Open House At Rainier Beach High School about their new IB program from 6:30-8:30 .  Any families curious about attending Rainier Beach should plan on attending.  There will be information about our programs, a facilities

House Finance Committee to Hear From Taskforce on Ed Funding

The House Finance Committee will be convening at 1:30 p.m. to receive a briefing from the Joint Task Force on Education Funding on funding K-12 public education under McCleary. You can watch live here .  I was told by Chair Reuven Carlyle's office that the tape usually makes its way onto the log for viewing later within several hours. 

The Vote for the Levies

That deadline for that vote is now a little more than 36 hours away.  Frankly, I doubt there are that many undecided votes out there.  (I think no matter the outcome, the voting patterns will be interesting to watch as they may be an early warning for the Board elections in November.) No matter the vote, we do need to pull together as a district.  The unity of purpose of parents is just as important as it is for the Board or district staff.   Parents and communities ARE the best voice for our district. I think the discussion around the interim plan for next year has been interesting to view because it shows the need to find regional solutions.  To that end I would hope that PTA presidents in each of the five regions (or however many people feel is important) would join together to work for solutions.  (I know that most of the PTA presidents in the NE did indeed meet but unfortunately, it did not include all of them and decisions were made after some had left.  Clearly, there would

Music Teachers - The Grammys Appreciate You

From Citizens for Public Schools: Something amazing happened at the Grammy tonight, a new category has been established, an award to the best music teacher of the year. Could someone with connections, please let the members of the Grammy know that due to NCLB and Race To The Top, music teachers have become extinct in most urban U.S. cities? So, maybe the Grammy could use their influence and contact our President to let him know how much more important music education is to high stake testing! From the NY Times: The Grammy Awards are adding a new honor for music teachers. Neil Portnow, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, announced the new award for music educators, which will be presented for the first time next year. He made the announcement on Thursday evening at an event for the Grammy Foundation’s Music Preservation Project at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles. “Music education is perhaps the most vital part of the Grammy Foundation’s miss

The Times Just Can't Stop

Honestly, I just don't get the Times.  So now they have trotted out an op-ed against BOTH levies (and, gotten the name of the pro-levy supporter, Greg Wong -not Wang - wrong to boot).  It's yet another person who is late to this party of "accountability" and yet this guy even casts a bigger swath.  And he's a public school parent who wants both levies to fail.  I understand his unhappiness but failing the Operations levy won't change that.  In fact, if he wants to see our district fall to its knees, let the Operations levy fail.  He gives NO solutions to what might happen after that failure - not so helpful - but yes, he's voting against both of them.  (He also points out "big-city cronyism" from the Potter scandal.  Yes and that came at the hands of a superintendent who swept in with big changes supported by the powers that be.  Let's remember that.) I'm with him on changing how we run SPS and frankly, changing the protection

Apparently, I'm Not the Only One

In the continuing saga over opposing the BEX because of the interim plan vote, I have seen some new e-mails. One interesting item to note is that BOTH the Eckstein PTA as well as the Seattle Council PTSA support both levies.  It would seem Eckstein's elected parent leadership is for the BEX.  And, if the Seattle Council PTSA had serious issues with either levy, you'd think they would have brought them up. One PTA president (who will remain nameless) asked Ms. Sweet to cease and desist sending out the emails, calling them " unprofessional ." (Ms. Sweet had sent out an e-mail to the presidents of the Seattle PTAs (all that she could find - I know, it's tough trying to find them all and the Seattle Council PTSA won't help you).  But she did say something telling: "Based on what we have learned, we imagine that other schools may be facing similar issues related to capacity and overcrowding.  Each and every one of our students deserve (sic) better."

Testing - What Does it Reveal?

Psychology Today put forth this article by researcher Susan Engel, "What Test Scores Don't Tell Us: The Naked Emperor."  Ms Engel reviewed over 200(!) studies of K-12 standardized tests. What I have discovered is startling- most tests used to evaluate students, teachers, and school districts predict almost nothing except similar scores on subsequent tests. I have found virtually no research demonstrating a relationship between those tests and measures of thinking on the one hand, or life outcomes on the other. To grasp what we do and do not (yet) know about standardized tests, it’s worth considering a few essential puzzles: why we find individual differences in test scores (why one child does better or worse than others), what makes a child’s test scores go up, and what such improvement could possibly indicate.

Complicated Science Down to Its Essence

This article from Mental Floss.  Could be interesting for you or your kids (although I'm not thrilled with the explanation of Web Development).  A fun read.  (Note: no, we don't want to "dumb" down science but make it easier for kids to get that basic idea so they get that a ha! moment and want to learn more.)

Notes to Aspiring Activists

In the continuing kerfuffle over BEX, one of the women in the trio of NE moms trying to get the BEX to fail (albeit quietly via very large neighborhood e-mail lists) has sent quite a pointed e-mail to Director Peaslee that was less-than-effective.  This e-mail is in reference to a video that Director Peaslee helped Jane Addams K-8 make in order to try to attract more students that in turn, would help take the pressure off neighboring elementaries and, of course, Eckstein.  This mom seem to believe, without quite coming out and saying it, that Director Peaslee has done something unethical.  (And fyi, the district HAS a method to alert them to any potential or perceived ethics violation and it has been well-advertised.)  The mom asks a laundry list of very pointed questions to Director Peaslee, most of which should be answered by district staff, including the Legal department. Short of name-calling, this e-mail breaks almost every rule in the activist rulebook.  So I offer these su

Real Public Schools, Really Hard Work, Great Payoff

A great, great op-ed in the NY Times by UC Berkeley professor, David L. Kirp, called T he Secret to Fixing Bad Schools. He just spent the last year researching a book on public education in Union City, N. J.  I'll let him tell you what he found out: The striking achievement of Union City, N.J. — bringing poor, mostly immigrant kids into the educational mainstream — argues for reinventing the public schools we have.  Union City makes an unlikely poster child for education reform. It’s a poor community with an unemployment rate 60 percent higher than the national average. Three-quarters of the students live in homes where only Spanish is spoken. Public schools in such communities have often operated as factories for failure. This used to be true in Union City, where the schools were once so wretched that state officials almost seized control of them. How things have changed. From third grade through high school, students’ achievement scores now approximate the stat

Looking for Something to Do With the Kids?

It's a busy Saturday.  Info from the Times: Neighbor Appreciation Day Events include open houses for visitors at 21 fire stations around Seattle, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday; free (; the sharing of stories about good neighbors and other activities, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Wallingford Center, 1815 N. 45th St., Seattle, free; snacks in the lobby and public swims, 1-2 p.m. Saturday, Southwest Pool, 2801 S.W. Thistle St., Seattle (206-684-7440) and 12:30-2 p.m. Saturday, Ballard Pool, 1471 N.W. 67th St., Seattle; $2 (206-684-4094 or Lunar New Year: Dragon/Lion dances, food walk with $2 tasting menu, children’s costume parade, music and dance performances, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Hing Hay Park, 409 Maynard Ave. S., Seattle, and surrounding neighborhood ( ).  They even have a scavenger hunt and live reptile show! It's the Year of the Snake! Artifact ID Day: Informati