Showing posts from March, 2013

Seattle Schools This Week

This week starts the community meetings about the Strategic Plan.  I also received this info from a reader: Open Enrollment processing will be completed and information on next year's assigned students downloaded on Friday, April 12th. Information on assignments and waitlist status will be available to families beginning at Noon on Monday, April 15th.  You will be able to access this information on-line or by calling the automated phone line, 206-252-0212. Individualized letters will be mailed the week of April 22nd to anyone who submitted an Open Enrollment application. Monday, April 1st Strategic Plan community meeting at Eckstein Middle School from 6:30-8:30 p.m.  (Interpreters available in Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, Amharic and Tigrigna) Tuesday, April 2nd Strategic Plan community meeting at Chief Sealth International High School from 6:30-8:30 p.m.  (Interpreters available in Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, Chinese, Tagalog, Amharic) Wednesday, April 3rd Community

Transportation Changes May Be Coming

In starting this discussion, I will make a point about transportation in SPS that was made at the Work Session on the Budget.  Overall, SPS transports many more students than the average district does.  My understanding of that meaning is that many other districts do not provide transportation to schools outside of your neighborhood and the amount of transportation available to middle/high school students is far less in other districts. I understand the concern about limiting transportation especially when so much has been provided in the past.  I also understand that it can be seen as a social justice issue when cutting off transportation makes it harder for some families to access programs.  But this is the way it is in most urban cities and students are still able to access schools via public transportation.  (I know in NYC that many students take the subway or bus - for an hour or more each way - in order to access speciality programs.) So what is to follow here may seem a sh

Former School Board Director Cheryl Chow Dies

It has been announced that former School Board President and City Councilwoman Cheryl Chow passed away today.  She was 66.  Chow had been ill with lymphoma since 2011.  She was married to her partner, Sarah Morningstar, on March 16th. They shared a daughter, Liliana who is five years old. Chow had an relentless concern and commitment to children as evidenced by her decades-long career as an educator and as a basketball coach and Girl Scout leader. The Times reports a memorial will be held at Town Hall on April 20th but no other details are available yet. Condolences to her family which includes four brothers. 

Brockman to Leave SPS

From Phil Brockman, Executive Director of K-12 Operations: Dear colleagues,   After 30 years with Seattle Public Schools, I have decided to move on to a new challenge. I have accepted a position as Superintendent of the Sedro-Wolley School District.  My last day with Seattle Schools is June 30 th .   This was not an easy decision, as I am proud of the work we have all accomplished together. I have enjoyed my time in the classroom, as a teacher and principal, and then working in the central office as an Executive Director, supporting the great work we are doing in our schools. I am grateful for the people I have worked with in Seattle and appreciative of the experience I have received as a result of my years here.    I am looking forward to my new role as a Superintendent, and excited about working with the Sedro-Woolley school community.   Thank you for all you do every day; I wish you the very best.   I have  personally always liked Phil and thought

Updates from the Drunk Driving Incident near Eckstein

This story gets even more sad. The incident occurred on the first day the mother, Karina Ulriksen-Schulte, had ventured out after giving birth via C-section.  (As someone who has had C-sections, I know she must have been moving slowly and carefully.)  She and her in-laws decided to cross NE 75th at 33rd NE and she saw the pickup coming.  She doubled back to help her in-laws and all of them got hit. Both the grandparents, Judy Schulte and her husband, Dennis, were former educators who just moved from Indiana. Details of the conditions of the mother and baby from the Times: Elias, born March 15, was thrown to the pavement and wasn’t breathing when police and medics found him lying next to his unconscious mother, the papers say. He suffered skull fractures and a brain injury and underwent emergency surgery for injuries to his liver and intestines, charging papers say.  Ulriksen-Schulte suffered a crushed pelvis and later developed blood clots that caused a stroke and led t

Friday Open Thread

 Update:  Free Admission to Washington State Parks this Saturday!  Beautiful weather, beautiful parks - get out there! West Seattle HS culinary students place 5th in state competition with two students winning scholarships.  Our own Top Chefs in SPS.  Congrats kids! From the "what do you want him to call it" category, comes this story about an Idaho science teacher who was called out by parents for using the word "vagina" during a unit about...the human body and the reproductive system.   I'd love to know what word they think the teacher should have used for this discussion.  “I teach straight out of the textbook, I don’t include anything that the textbook doesn’t mention,” McDaniel remarked. “But I give every student the option not attend this class when I teach on the reproductive system if they don’t feel comfortable with the material.” “It is highly unlikely it would end with his dismissal,” the superintendent mused. “Maybe a letter of reprimand from

No Surprise-Burgess Would Consider Taking Over Seattle Schools as Mayor

From Crosscut, an interview with mayoral candidate, Tim Burgess.  Key item: Burgess, his wife, Jolene, and their three children are products of Seattle Public Schools, so it's no surprise he considers it another of his priorities. "I graduated in 1967 and the adults then were talking about North End schools vs. South End schools," he said. "And they are talking about it today. That's a tragedy." It's important, he argued, for the city and the school system to align their resources and efforts for education. One such example: the city's agreement to let its ethics office handle questions for the Seattle school district.   (Note: that did happen with McGinn who didn't need to take over the district to get it done.) Would he push for a mayoral takeover of the school system? Burgess pointed to a recent Center for American Progress study that showed mixed educational results in cities that control of school systems, but said the rep

Budget Work Session

I attended the Budget Work Session on Wednesday.  It was pretty sobering.  Key facts: There is a projected deficit of $18.4M .  I would love to explain it all to you (and I will try to at least get the PowerPoint up by tomorrow) but frankly, I look down at the paper version and I don't know what half of it is.  Imagine my happiness (and surprise) to hear Board Directors say, "Now, what is this?" because they don't know either.  I don't know if it is the Budget office trying to use smoke and mirrors or just too much jargon but if the people who will make the final decisions don't know what you are talking about, you're doing something wrong. By April 10th, we will have the Governor's budget, the House budget and the Senate budget.  We were told that is when "the rubber meets the road."  The Governor released his budget today and it seems quite favorable to K-12 ed (if not quite the amount everyone would want).  He seems to be finding the m

Most Disturbing

I am deeply disturbed by Seattle Times editorials regarding education. It's not because the Times Editorial Board, and Lynne Varner in particular, doesn't share my perspective. I'm okay with that; I have a lot of good relationships with people who disagree with me. I am disturbed by the disingenuous, thoughtless, or deceitful tone of Seattle Times editorials about education which create contradictions.

Assessment Taskforce Update

 Update:  the Superintendent's latest message on MAP .   From his letter: I n the meantime, our spring assessments will be held from April 22 to June 7 . Beginning this spring, the District recommends that students enrolled in an Algebra 1 course take the NWEA Algebra End-of-Course (EOC) exam instead of Math 6+ test. Based on a preliminary review of MAP by staff, we’ve made the following adjustment to our testing policy: For 9th grade, only students below standard based on the state reading assessment will be required to take the MAP reading test. It will be optional for 9th-graders who are at or above standard in reading. Reader Joan Sias attended Thursday's Assessment Taskforce meeting.  Here are her notes on the meeting. The new MAP policy for 9th grade was handed out at the meeting. Not a single member of the TF asked what the process was for this policy decision. I am not a TF member, so I could not ask this question. A handout was given that was a comp

Rainer Beach Receives IB Authorization

I am thrilled to announce that Rainier Beach High School , over three years of hard work, yesterday received their official authorization letter to be an International Baccalaureate high school. From Colin Pierce, the IB Coordinator at RBHS: We are extremely proud of RBHS's new designation as an IB World School, and it is gratifying that the IB Organization - an organization responsible for setting the international standard for high quality curriculum and assessment - has recognized the hard work we have been doing over the past three years.  Their stamp of approval is an affirmation that we have the staff and systems in place to offer the level of challenge and quality of learning required for an IB education.  Our parents, students, and community are beyond excisted to  engage the opportunity this program presents us with.   From the district: International Baccalaureate is a college-preparatory program that includes two years of courses in six subjects. At the end, stu

SB 5242 - Just Say No

You'd think that our state legislators would have their hands full trying to figure out how to fully fund education per the McCleary ruling.  Apparently not.  We have the "give every school a letter grade" bill and now we have SB 5242 .  It's short and to the point and I agree with the WEA on this one - it's nothing but a distraction and gives principals too much power.  (It also ties the hands of school boards because they have to follow this directive in all collective bargaining agreements.) From the WEA website: This misguided and punitive legislation allows school districts to fire teachers without any kind of fair or objective process and regardless of their job performance or experience. Administrators and principals would be allowed to transfer a teacher for any reason, and if no other principals wanted that teacher, she would lose her job. Under SB 5242, qualifications, experience and evaluations would no longer matter in staffing decisions.

Odds and Ends

Rainier Beach is one of three comprehensive high schools to not have a complete renovation. Chief Sealth has had major work done and got some of it via the fallout of them having to share a campus with Denny.  Ingraham is the other but Ingraham has also had major work done and has been on every single BEX and BTA.   Rainier Beach got a performing arts hall (but no performing arts curriculum or program so it sat, mostly unused for years) and had some building area upgrades but not much else. According to the Times, the Rainier Beach community isn't going to wait for the district to make their building better.  They would like to make it the greenest high school in the state.  The story in the Times . T he community’s aspirations were announced Tuesday at a news conference where Mayor Mike McGinn and Denis Hayes, president of the Bullitt Foundation, expressed their support, albeit not the financial kind.  The Bullitt Foundation doesn’t fund capital projects, Hayes said, b

Ed News Roundup

More stories on the hopeful side. From Scholastic , a story about the superintendent of what is considered the "best" public school district in the country.  That would be Mooresville Graded School District, outside of Charlotte, NC.  The article is called 10 Lessons From the Best District in the Country .  From the article: The district undertook a massive “21st Century Digital Conversion” in 2007. Students now frequently work in groups, and they use one of dozens of interactive learning platforms instead of textbooks. Rather than lecturing, teachers act as facilitators, circulating among groups or leading students in interactive lessons. Results of this transformation are off the charts—the graduation rate for African-American students was 95 percent in 2012, up from 67 percent five years earlier. The overall graduation rate is the third highest in the state, and 88 percent of 2012 graduates are attending college, compared with 74 percent in 2007. Mooresville has accomp

Tuesday Open Thread

A couple of blog issues to bring up.  I note that there has been some decidedly unpleasant attacks as of late.  Again, no name-calling, no criminal allegations (unless you can prove it), etc.  Also, please take the time to read what is written.  I'm seeing arguing about words/thoughts that are either not part of the original post or were never said in comments.  I suppose you can say what you believe the writer meant but that doesn't make it so.  Let's not throw a lot of red herrings into a subject.  What's on your mind?

Car Accident Near Eckstein Kills Two, Injures Two

I don't have many details but a pick-up truck struck four pedestrians near Eckstein, at 33rd Avenue NE and NE 75th at around 4:10 p.m.  (That is right at the northeast corner of the school.)  I have a call into SPS Communications to find out if this involved staff or students. Two people were apparently killed outright and a 25-year old woman and an infant were in serious condition and taken to the Harborview. The police are saying the driver may have been under the influence. This comes on the heels of complaints about pedestrians trying to cross in that area.  For those of you who don't know it, Eckstein sits at the top of a hill so coming over either side of it, you immediately start picking up speed.  There is a crosswalk with a push-to-call light right at Eckstein but no other marked crosswalks are there until you get to 35Ave NE.

Budget Updates for SPS and Washington State

In case you didn't hear, last Wednesday the economic forecast was released for Washington State.  It showed flat growth which was actually good news as it means the Legislature doesn't have to find more cuts (in theory). Here's what was stated by Duggan Harman who is the Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance (aka the budget guy) for SPS at last week's Board meeting. He stated the following: SPS has an $18M shortfall.  Staff has found cuts that would make up for two-thirds of the shortfall but they are one-time cuts.  A couple of thoughts to close the gap - increasing kindergarten tuition (again) and transportation reductions. SPS, along with several other districts including Tacoma, Spokane, Bellevue and Highline, have sent a letter to the Legislature urging them to pass ESB2261 (which is the full-funding measure for Washington State K-12 schools).  It would include fully funding transportation, K-3 high-poverty students would be in classes no larg

Same-Sex Marriage and Public Education

 Update :  new article from Ed Week sheds more light on this subject. What does one thing have to do with the other?  According to this article in Ed Week, a lot. It is certainly going to be interesting to see how gingerly districts may have to step in the future to remain "neutral" on this issue. Here in Washington State, same-sex marriage is now legal and this week, in two separate cases, the United States Supreme Court will consider the issue.   (The two cases are Hollingsworth v Perry that challenges California's limitations on marriage as just for a man and a woman under the equal-protection clause of the Constitution and United States v Windsor that will consider the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 known as DOMA.) Thoughts what those in public education might have to consider from the Ed Week article:

Answers On Hiring Substitutes for SPS

There are not further details/information on the Hamilton substitute incident that occurred last week as the investigation is on-going.   SPS replied to these basic questions about substitute hiring. 1) Why did the reporter say the sub wasn't employed by the district? Is that right? We did not tell the reporter that the substitute wasn’t a district employee. We did say that because he isn’t a permanent teacher, he couldn’t be placed on leave. Instead, we would not give him any more assignments until the investigation was completed.

PBS Two-Parter on an American High School

Tonight and tomorrow night, PBS is showing 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School .  It's a two-part 4-hour special about a "failing" high school in Washington, D.c. where only seven percent of students are deemed proficient in math and only 19 percent in reading.  It was produced by the National Black Programming Consortium.  (Locally, KCTS 9 is showing it on both nights, starting at 9 p.m.) From the director, Jacquie Jones', piece at the Huffington Post: After receiving this press release, a veteran African American journalist for whom I have the utmost respect, asked me this question in an email: "I looked at the   site   for this program and I see that the team spent a lot of time in the high school, but what I'm not getting is why this is compelling television. Why should I watch?" That's a good question. And, as I said to him, my honest answer on whether or not you should watch really depends on how interested you are in the to

Precursor to Seattle Schools DOE Investigation

From Ed Week comes this story of a district in Mississippi and the measures they must take for their disciplinary measures for all students. This may end up being what Seattle Schools is told they must do. Among other things outlined in a consent decree signed Thursday between the district and the DOJ: The district cannot use suspension, alternative school settings, or expulsion for minor misbehavior and has to limit these types of consequences all together. School administrators cannot ask school law enforcement officers to respond in cases where administrators can use the school code of conduct to address behavior problems. School police must be trained in bias-free policing, child and adolescent development and age-appropriate responses, mentoring, and working with school administrators. The district's alternative school has to establish clear entry and exit rules and speed up students' transition back to their regular school. All district schools must

Seattle Schools This Week

Wednesday, March 27th Work Session on Update on Families & Education Levy from 4-4:45 p.m. Work Session on the Budget from 4:45-6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28th Community Meeting with Director Peaslee from 6-7:45 p.m. at Lake City Public Library Saturday, March 30th Community Meeting with Director Patu from 10 am to noon at Caffe Vita.

Seattle Schools News

First up, some good news from SPS Communications: The McClure Middle School boys team won first place in the Team Relay Heat of Erg Ed’s Indoor Rowing Championship. In second place were the Pathfinder K-8 girls, and in third place were the Madrona K-8/Broadview-Thomson K-8 team. Launched in 2010, Erg Ed is a classroom-based indoor rowing education program operating as part of Seattle Public School's physical education curriculum.  In partnership with Seattle Public Schools, Erg Ed is currently provided at 14 middle and K-8 schools across the city.  With more than 800 pledges, Roosevelt High School let it be known loud and clear that they are against texting and driving . And to celebrate this massive turnout for the "Save it Seattle" campaign, Roosevelt welcomed Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to their campus March 22. The Verizon Wireless "Save It Seattle” contest challenged students at four Seattle high schools to take a pledge against textin

Spotlight on Aki Kurose

The Alliance for Education, by giving Mia Williams the Thomas B. Foster Award for Excellence, has put a spotlight on Aki Kurose. Let's take a look. Aki Kurose was in Step 5 of No Child Left Behind when Ms Williams was installed as the principal there for the 2008-2009 school year. In Step 5 schools are supposed to either be closed (then re-invented and re-opened) or be "transformed". This transformation must include, at a minimum, the replacement of the principal. It can include replacement of all of the staff. It must, at a minimum, consists of a radical change in the school's operation. The only thing changed at Aki Kurose was the appointment of Ms Williams as principal and the extension of the school day by about fifteen minutes. So how is that transformation coming along? It's not.

Boys and Girls (Part One)

A number of news stories have crossed my path this month about boys and girls.  This thread is about issues that happen to kids outside of school. One heads up I wanted to give parents of girls is the movie, Spring Breakers .  Now, you don't have to get too worried because it's rated R so I would hope most of your students could not just go to see it. Spring Breakers is about a group of college girls who want a spring break, have no money, rob a restaurant and they're off and running.   However, you should be warned for a couple of reasons. One, this is NOT a comedy.  It's pretty serious stuff.  Trailer . Two, it stars some very familiar (to young tweens and teens) actors like Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), Selena Gomez (Disney Channel) and Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars).    I read an article in the NY Times and for most of these young actresses, this is a breaking-away-from-type movie for them and their careers.   (This is fine but you as paren

Friday Open Thread

Our spring surprise - snow.  But thank goodness it is not going to stick and make Friday traffic even worse. Heart-warming news for Arbor Heights via the West Seattle Herald. Kind of a Friday Funny.  I was at the Board meeting this week and the Salmon Bay Marimba band played (very well and with great energy).  But, of course, the Pledge of Allegiance  is always said before anything else and everyone was asked to stand.  I looked over at the kids and they looked panic-stricken.  One mom with them whispered to them, "Do you know it?" and they shook their heads.  I smiled, thinking they were joking.  Nope, most of them were not saying it with the rest of the crowd.  There's a generation gap for you.  (I make no judgments here as I don't care whether they know it or not.) What's on your mind?

How big is the policy book?

In a discussion about the 12th grade humanities class at The Center School, commenter parent wrote: " They've got so many procedures and policies, it's impossible to follow them. " I have heard Director Martin-Morris describe them as a long shelf stuffed with binders. That's not accurate. I hear this sort of thing all the time. I also observe the reaction I get from people when my knowledge of School Board policies is displayed. They are generally surprised. That's not appropriate. Here's the truth: You could probably read all of the policies in a single sitting in a single afternoon. There aren't that many policies and most of them are pretty brief. You, too, could become a policy expert between school and dinner. Here they are . You will find that most of them are meaningless and un-enforceable mush. Not's a shame, but not surprising. What to know what surprises me? The fact that the board and the superintendent appear ignorant

Alliance for Education Community Breakfast

There’s still time to RSVP to join the Alliance for Education and hundreds of other supporters of public education in celebrating the students, teachers, and principals of Seattle Public Schools at the Alliance for Education's 11th annual Community Breakfast on Thursday, March 28. This year’s keynote speaker, John Danner , co-founder and former CEO of Rocketship Education  is currently working as the founder of a newly established online education software development company. He will share lessons he has learned in advancing blended and personalized K-12 learning through technological innovation. The event will take place on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at The Westin Seattle, 1900 Fifth Avenue 98101. Doors will open at 7:00am, the breakfast program begins at 7:30am, and the program is scheduled to conclude at 8:45am.

Are the Vetting Measures in Seattle Schools HR Adequate?

It would seem something is amiss. From Q-13 News : The 12-year-old special education student at Hamilton International Middle School reported the alleged incident Wednesday to school officials, who called police. The substitute teacher isn’t employed by the school district, but a spokesperson said he won’t get any other assignments in the district until the police investigation is complete. The boy, who is not being identified since he is underage, said the alleged incident happened between classes while he was alone in a bathroom with the substitute teacher. The details are troubling and thank goodness this student said "stop" to the teacher and went and told other adults.  Those adults rightly called the police but it is unclear from this report if the teacher was arrested.  Oddly, the district says the sub wasn't employed by the district.  I'm not sure what to make of that. But an HIMS parent reports that this same teacher was in her child&#

Want to be Depressed? Let's See What's Happening to Higher Ed Funding

From The Atlantic, an article on higher education funding in all 50 states.  Very depressing with all this talk of "we need more trained workers."  As the costs soaring, the funding drops.   See Washington?  We're up towards the top.  And, the correlation is there between higher cuts to funding and rising costs. 

It's Time to Turn the Page on Math in Seattle Schools

--> Guest Post by Rick Burke Days are getting longer, the weather is warmer.   The smell of spring is in the air.   But if you inhale deeply down by JSCEE, there’s another smell.   It’s the smell of math.   After years of sideways movement, the stars are aligned for systemic changes to math instruction in Seattle Public Schools. When you look at Seattle kids’ math achievement against other urban districts, Seattle might seem to be doing OK.   As a district-level statistic, we’re not too bad.   But closer inspection of disaggregated data and the view from inside the system prompt a cry for help.   Seattle still has a large number of struggling students and a persistent achievement gap which we can’t shake.   Outside tutoring has become commonplace, with math as the most frequent remediation subject.   However, recent national and state developments have identified common ground and outcome-proven methods which can serve as a model for Seattle. This brings us ar

Assessment Task Force Update

I mentioned previously that I had attended the Assessment Taskforce meeting on Feb. 21st.  I wanted to make note of several things I noticed: - Organized - very much appreciated - Good facilitator who kept things on track - The group is going to be able to look at the MAP test.  I think this is great because as members of this Taskforce, they need what they are talking about when it comes to this discussion. - Two principals - from Mercer and Denny - came in to talk about what was happening at their schools.  A little bit of cheerleading there for MAP but I think the Taskforce took it with a grain of salt.  The only odd thing was the Denny principal saying they had a data wall with kids' scores on it.  I hope not.  - As in any group, there are a few people who speak often and the rest listen.  I hope that the listeners don't allow the discussion to always follow what the speakers want it to be.  That's a facilitator's job. - The head of Curriculum and Instructi

Immigrant Populations: Seattle versus the Eastside

Great article in Crosscut about what is happening over on the Eastside with immigrant populations.  What draws immigrants to the Eastside and keeps them there, even when, like Tushara, they go to work in Seattle? Lee could be speaking for all of them when he answers, emphatically, with a single word: “School! I needed to raise kids, and Bellevue’s the place to do it.” It wasn’t just the Bellevue schools’ celebrated instructional quality (its average test scores place it among the top 10 districts statewide in math and science and the top 30 in reading and writing) or their ample tax base, which includes the wealthy lakeshore municipalities of Medina, Clyde Hill and the Points. It was the counter-intuitively congenial social environment of what was then an upscale, predominately white, monocultural community. In Bellevue and Newport, Pham found, he didn’t have to worry about his three kids being bullied or sticking with their own kind for protection. The friction, s

Second Civil Rights Investigation by Feds

The Times updates the civil rights investigation by the DOE in SPS by noting there is now a second investigation into ELL students and school closures.  From 2009 through the end of last year, the civil-rights office has launched about 100 civil-rights investigations involving at least one school district in nearly every state.  Those investigations, known as compliance reviews, are just part of the office’s caseload, most of which stems from complaints filed by parents or community members.  The department’s proactive efforts have won praise from those who say there was a drought of education civil-rights cases under the previous administration. About ELL students: In Seattle, the review of services for students learning English appears to have started in 2009. A spokeswoman said that information she received from the education department also indicated that federal officials are looking at whether the district discriminated against some students when it clo

Making Sense of Funding Foreign Language Immersion

To start, I think that foreign language teaching is great and should be started in every elementary school. I would advocate for foreign language several times a week in every elementary versus what we have now which are four foreign language immersion elementary schools that are ONLY open to neighborhood children. I did a previous post on this subject that covers some of the history. JSIS started as a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland "hey kids, let's open a foreign language school to honor a beloved superintendent." But, where was the discussion about funding, where those kids go AFTER elementary and how to expand the program? Nowhere.   Guess what? John Stanford International School was a wild success and left other parents clamoring for more. It took the district nearly eight years to bring a couple more schools on-line and then McDonald in the last couple of years. (They did also finally get around to figuring out a pathway to middle and high school although those

Two Washington School Districts Apply to Be Charter Authorizers

From the AP: The State Board of Education says two Washington school districts have formally expressed interest in applying to be charter school authorizers. Those districts are Eastmont in East Wenatchee and the Highline school district south of Seattle. Any school district that wants to authorize charter schools during the next year are required to tell the State Board of Education by April 1 that they plan to apply. The News Tribune also has reported that the Tacoma School District will discuss the idea of joining that list at its March 28 meeting. It will be interesting to see if any other school districts file by April 1.  Otherwise that will truly leave the Charter Commission as the place to go (as districts can only okay charters that open in their own districts).

Let Your House Rep Know What You Think

The nonsense that is SB 5328 - the bill for letter grades for schools - passed the Senate.  Please, please let your House representatives know that you do not support this. On the face of it, why?  If this is so important, why not grade ALL public institutions, starting with the Legislature and the elected officials there?  Even Stand says that " schools are already being graded by the Achievement Index" so exactly why do we need this?  In fact, the Achievement Index would be what the grade is based on.  I note that the Index does not account for Special Education and ELL students within a school which could weigh on a ranking. I spoke to Superintendent Dorn's office and he does not support it.  Why?  Because OSPI was charged with an adjustment to the Achievement Index anyway by the Legislature (I believe for rollout this fall).   While you're at it, let the Governor know your feelings as well.  What is interesting is that while the Governor supports the idea

Education News Roundup

Common Core and assessments and a new group, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium . More on assessments from The New Yorker; its story covers the Garfield assessment boycott. As the author and relapsed educator Garret Keizer observed in his return to teaching, of which he writes in the September 2011 issue of Harper’s, “No student I meet seems to believe that the universe formed in six days but a disturbing number insist that an essay is always formed in five paragraphs.” Charter Schools The group that 1240 is following for authorizing guideline, The National Association of Charter School Authorizers, released a 12-step "Index of Essential Practices" for charter school authorizers. Looking over them, it does not appear that 1240 meets them but then :   The report found that only a small percentage of those who responded have all 12 practices in place, but the majority are using at least nine. Also from Ed Week , a study about the early years of new charter schools:

Tuesday Open Thread

Really interesting photography series on children and their toys.  Might be interesting to ask your child if you were taking the picture with them in it, what toys would surround them? Update: I just learned that Superintendent Banda had a death in the family and is out on bereavement leave until Friday.  Naturally this means he will not be at Wednesday's Board meeting.  Our sympathies to the Superintendent and his family. Also new , from the West Seattle blog comes the notion that because we had no snow days this school year, the last day of school is likely to be June 14th.  That's one of the earliest end dates I can remember in a long time. What's on your mind?

STEM Expands in Washington State

From GeekWire : The UW Board of Regents officially approved the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) last week. It’s the first school in the state to combine all of the STEM fields into one academic unit. The school of STEM will bring together two existing programs —  computing and software systems , and science and technology — and house them under one school. The creation of the school was also due to the increased interest in STEM-related degrees — enrollment in the computing and software systems has doubled in the past 15 years. The school, which now serves more than 600 students, will offer seven undergraduate and two graduate degrees, with three more (Chemistry, Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering) coming in fall of 2014: Applied Computing  (BA) Biology  (BS) Climate Science & Policy  (BS) Computer Science and Software Engineering  (BS and MS) Cyber Security Engineering   (MS – begins fall 2013) Electrical Eng

The Anti-Stand Group - The Network for Public Education

Diane Ravitch and other noted public education activists have joined together to form a national group, The Network for Public Education . Here's what they are: We created the Network for Public Education as a way of connecting groups and individuals around the country who are devoted to preserving public education. This is no small task. We're up against a well-funded corporate reform movement that's waging a slick PR campaign based on misleading information and junk science. But while they may have the billionaires, we have something far more powerful: the authentic voices of teachers, parents and students who understand that public education is a pillar of our democracy. The NPE website will be at the very center of our efforts. In a matter of weeks, an all-volunteer team has begun to create a site that can function as a clearing house for public education advocates. With the help of our network of academic experts , we're pulling together reliable, easy-to-use