Friday Open Thread

First up, there are community townhalls tomorrow for legislative districts.  Go weigh in and talk to your legislators about education issues in our state.  I'm going to mine in the 43rd.

What education bills are still alive in the Legislature (from the Times):

Grading schools: The Senate has advanced a measure to assign A-F grades to schools based on factors including improvement of student test scores. Supporters say parents could get a clear sign of how a school is doing. Opponents insist it would be punitive and often unfair. (SB 5328)

Third-grade reading: The Senate has advanced a measure to require third-graders with inadequate reading skills to repeat a grade, attend summer school or otherwise improve their reading before enrolling in fourth grade. The measure also would authorize K-3 teacher training to help improve students’ reading. (SB 5237)

Dream Act: House Democrats and Republicans approved a measure that makes young illegal immigrants eligible for college financial aid. Lawmakers amended the bill on the floor to broaden its scope beyond young immigrants granted a temporary stay in the country under an Obama administration plan. The bill follows a law approved 10 years ago that made illegal-immigrant students eligible for in-state tuition if they met certain criteria. A similar bill died in the Senate. (HB 1817)

Not listed but apparently alive (according to the Seattle Education blog), SB 5329, which would use a "transformation" model that would take schools with the lowest test scores and use this model:
      • Turnaround model: Replace the principal and rehire no more than 50% of the staff, and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time and budgeting) to fully implement a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes.
      • Restart model: Convert a school or close and reopen it under a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
      • School closure: Close a school and enroll the students who attended that school in other schools in the district that are higher achieving.
      • Transformation model: Implement each of the following strategies: (1) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and (4) provide operational flexibility and sustained support.
Given that 1240 allows school takeover by a charter anyway and, under NCLB, parents who are in a struggling school that doesn't meet AYP can already move their child to a higher-performing school, this bill seems overkill.

Also having community meetings on Saturday are Directors DeBell and Martin-Morris.  Details at the thread, Seattle Schools This Week.

It's also Pluto Day at the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. (home of the great tutoring group, 826) at 8414 Greenwood Ave N from 3-5 p.m.

3pm: sign making
4pm: march
4:20pm-ish: rally and debate. Enjoy tiny food offered by our volunteers AND very special mini Pluto cupcakes provided by the stellar Trophy Cupcakes! Talk with like-minded folk, share the love, eat stuff!

I know today is a "no school" day and parents you can celebrate - this is the last full/partial release day until Spring Break.  That means your child will be in school every day for an entire month.

Last, I find that I have difficulty with these "phrase" names that some commenters are using to ID themselves.  PLEASE - pick a character name, your first name, initials or a TWO-WORD (no longer) tag.  I will give everyone the weekend to figure this out but sadly, will start deleting comments with unwieldy monikers.  I find it very difficult to answer commenters with long names. 

What's on your mind?


Jet City mom said…
I cant decipher if the bill HB1452 & SB5237 allow students with 504s & IEPs to continue with their class or if it requires them to be held back if test results indcate ther reading level is lacking.

Students in special education who have appropriate accomdations and support should be allowed to progress in reading at their own rate, as it does not necessarily represent their capability in other subjects.
Jet City mom said…
Melissa, I live in Ballard & I am just getting used to our new legislative district after 30 yrs in the 36th. But according to the list, the 43rd meeting isn't until the 30th.
Unknown said…
Another education bill that is still alive is Substitiute HB 1688, which would require that parents be notified if restraint or seclusion is used on their child while at school. The bill has been watered down from its original version to longer requiring reports to the state and has been modified to only apply to special education students. (I guess general ed parents don't need to know? Seems counterintuitive to me.) I testified in favor of this bill in front of the House. Although it got a lot of love from the TV stations King 5 coverage , it has gotten zero print coverage.
Unknown said…
@Jet City mom,
My reading of both the House and Senate version of the third grade literacy bill seems to indicate that students with IEP's whose IEP team agrees that it would not be appropriate to retain the student are exempted. This sounds like there needs to be a meeting around to exempt. Also, it does not look like students with 504 plans are exempt, even though if the student does not make the standard one of the interventions is to look at whether a 504 plan is needed.
The model ALEC legislation (The A+ Literacy Act--based on Florida legislation) on which this is based does contain the following language for exemption "students who have ... a Section 504 plan that
reflects that the student has received intensive remediation in reading for more
than 2 years but still demonstrates a deficiency in reading and was previously
retained in kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, or grade 3."

Jet City mom said…
Thanks, that is the take I was getting also.

If summer school is required, does that mean the state is going to free up money to pay for it?
I was under impression Seattle does not offer summer school, at least for high schoolers.

I consider extended year learning to be important, and generally effective in helping students progress.
Maureen said…
Melissa, why do so many open threads often have so much news/information in the post? In this case this thread is already about legislation and the open thread stuff people add will feel off topic.

Also, I agree that long monikers are annoying, but it's possible to just call them by the first word or two of the phrase (like "yeah" instead of "yeah I went there" in the APP thread.)
Anonymous said…
Right. There are a fair number of students who do not learn to read at the third grade level. Ever. (yes, they have disabilities) Should they just stay in 3rd grade until they are 21? What about immigrants coming here that have no reading skills, and may be 15. Should they be placed in a third grade classroom?

That would be ridiculous. And then, the other way around is ridiculous too. You have a bypass for special education students, but general education student don't get that too? You have a general ed 4th grade class with lots of kids with IEPs reading at a first grade level... but 4th graders without disabilities would have to stay back even though the 4th grade class already has students with the same skills?

This is the whole problem with retention as an idea. And, with non-educators dreaming up laws. (How much summer school are they paying for.)

-sped parent
Unknown said…
Seattle SPED-PTSA meeting notice

Please join us this coming Wednesday, March 20 th , from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at JSCEE(4 th and Lander) for discussion of two important topics:

1) Adaptive Technology: The field of adaptive technology is exploding. How does the Seattle School District use adaptive technology to make learning opportunities accessible for students with special needs? What are best practices? How do parents request the use of adaptive technology for their students? District personnel will present information and take questions.

2) District 5-Year Strategic Plan: The District will issue a refresh of its strategic plan before the end of the school year. At the SPED-PTSA meeting, a district representative will give an update on the status of the development of the new strategic plan. The district will also take input from the special education community on “lessons learned” by soliciting feedback about how the current plan was developed, communicated and implemented. Although these questions are not special education-specific, it is important that the special education community weigh in during this process to assure that the next five years provide equity and access for students with special needs to excel within Seattle Public Schools. This is the only strategic plan meeting focusing specifically on the special education community. Please join us!

Please note a change from the SPED-PTSA’s usual meeting room: This meeting will be in JSCEE, room 2750.
Jet City mom said…
Both my kids had mixed age classrooms until 3rd grade, when youngest entered Summit k-12. ( Ironically chosen because most of the classrooms in elementary school were mixed grades

IMO mixed groupings allowed students to learn at the appropriate rate for them and looping with the same teacher for two or three years increased learning because it reduced transition time.

I realize it would be expensive to reduce class sizes and introduce mixed age classes, but it doesn't seem more expensive than what we've been doing.
I just like to throw things out there, Maureen, but talk about whatever you like.

Not changing my mind on the comment names.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, another bill that is still alive that is getting little to no press is Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5587, which would change the high school graduation requirement assessments.

This bill would reduce the number of tests required for graduation from 5 to 3. But more critically, starting with the graduating class of 2018, students will have to pass the "college and career readiness" English language arts and math tests from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium in order to graduate. These tests will be set to a college readiness cut score and will be MUCH MORE difficult than our current HS tests.

--- Two Words
Anonymous said…
I too wish you would change your mind on the comment names. Sometimes the name lends meaning to where we are coming in a work of art.
...and a number of them are funny, which I find a helpful detail when reading so much about the SSD that I find distasteful. You would censure this one small personal detail?!

A Year and A Quarter to Go!

mirmac1 said…
Very interesting piece of propaganda in last week's Friday memo to Board. Seems like someone or other felt Directors McLaren and Peasless needed some schoolin' on the wonder that is the Alliance for Education.


It sures makes them sound like they are in that classroom, helping your kid. What they are doing is steering the bus off a cliff. It's their way or the highway. I'd prefer the highway.

They think excellent teaching is "contract reform" and "Seattle Teacher Residency" which, BTW, will cost SPS around $40k per teacher trainee in about three years. The philanthropists get these bright, shiny new things going, then hand it off for public funds to pay.

They know what's best because they are the education experts, y'see.

UTR+Alliance, What could go wrong?!
Maureen said…
Well Year, it would be pretty easy for you to sign off with:

A Year and A Quarter to Go!


Melissa isn't really dissing your art! It's her blog and I feel like we should allow her some guidelines! :)
Eric B said…
It;s also pretty easy to check the Name/URL box and put in something. Even XYZ or just Z would work. Then put your regular snarkiness at the bottom.
Unknown said…

I realize tht McLaren and Peaslee are the newest members of the schools board, but they've been on the board since November of 2011. It's hard for me to not see the Alliance for Education's "briefing" prepared exclusively for Directors McLaren and Peaslee as an insulting exhibition of testicular fortitude or perhaps fodder for the Onion? Wow.
mirmac1 said…
Wow, here's another Board Retreat document that is Onion material.

Unique Opportunities in 2013 & 2014 - Interactivity with Board Goals & Roles

It uses the royal we and I suspect it was written by the Alliance-funded facilitator. I don't think it was an accident to sound like Alliance was on the school board too.

Board assignments

I doubt this was prepared by KSB. Likely Erin Bennett (Holly Ferguson's successor). Is it meant to illustrate the ponderous load borne by poor, frozen out, directors DeBell and HMM? And the lightweights McLaren and Peaslee? Fine, let's NOT have DeBell have responsibilities that he will manipulate to benefit his friends.
Anonymous said…
@ Mary re: The Onion

The Alliance Vision: We will run SPS based on a Corporate Reform Education Model.

Mission: We will do what it takes to Have Our Way


* Offer Board Leadership aka lure recalcritant Board Members to obscure holding pens on Saturdays and Indoctrinate Them In The Way of The Alliance.

* Hold Naysayers down and PowerPoint them until they cry for mercy.

* Animate the PowerPoints! Makes us That Much More Impressive!

* Establish ROI on Community Consensus, once we figure out what is Community and what is Consensus.

*Hold Ball! Distribute Money! Wheee!


Mirmac, that Alliance "briefing" is unbelievable. I guess over in Rome they used the wrong people to pick the Pope - the Alliance does it all.

Talk about tooting your own (business) horn.

As for
Unique Opportunities in 2013 & 2014 - Interactivity with Board Goals & Roles

That was written by President Smith-Blum in an effort to add something from an ACTUAL Board Director to their OWN Board retreat. That's the thing that DeBell steamed over - that Smith-Blum would actually go off the Alliance script. I think what she discusses is pretty good myself.

Unknown said…
You forgot their motto:

mirmac1 said…
Okay Melissa, that changes things 180 degrees! Yes, I would WANT something like that prepared by our board president, not some A4E lackey.

Thank you. I can sleep better at night. Did she do the assignment tally also? Can you remind me what prompted that? Wasn't it whining or something?
Yes, President Smith-Blum did the assignment tally as well. She had concerned about the number of hours each kind of assignment would represent to each director and was trying to quantify them to find some balance. (And yes this was based on some complaining - done right in front of senior staff - by Director DeBell.)

She can't win for losing in this case.
mirmac1 said…
The HR Oversight Board Session was interesting in its questioning of Asst Supt of HR Paul Apostle. A number of questions relating to, among other things, proper training of principals, timely resolution of increasing complaints and grievances, the ever-growing expense of hiring investigators to (often, in my view) harass teachers and classified staff.

Altogether, it was one of the few public meetings when central staff was not patting, or being patted, on the back...
Anonymous said…
SB 5329 was supported by several ... "Democratic" Senators - including Frockt of the 46th.

Let's try some science - sunlight kicks of photo synthesis in & stuff grows and animals eat the stuff.

Cowards and Sell Outs accept right wing lies, sell us out, and ... we support them OR things could be worse! Opps!

Wait - WE support sell outs and cowards, so things don't get worse, and we get sold out!

Anonymous said…
Funny aside, the kids in the pictures in the "School Board Member Briefing" are graduating this year. I think the pics are at 10 years old.


Tami, I noticed that as well that when they redid the SPS website, they used the same pictures of students from at least 10 years back.
mirmac1 said…
What I want to know is, when will the 80's shoulder pads and frizzy perms come back?
Anonymous said…
@mirmac -No doubt the Herman Munster shoulder pads will once again be the height of fashion.

mirmac1 said…
Kool! Now I just have to let the seams out a bit...
seattle citizen said…
Chris Korsmo, $122,000 per year at LEV, opines today in the Times that some un-named people at some unidentified meeting somewhere were saying we can't help poor children until we cure poverty.

Of course she is referring to those she finds guilty of being mired in "the status quo," something she, and only she (with the help of a salary twice that of a teacher) can do anything about.

Read all about it:
Commit to poor kids to end the achievement gap
dw said…
I know it's not a democracy here, but I'm jumping in with Maureen and A Year And A Quarter To Go, on the names. I guess I'm in compliance, but as I read through various posts over the past few days I see many examples of perfectly fine names we know that are more than 2 words.

Jet City mom
Old School Music
Don't Let The Ball Drop
North End Parent
from the periphery

It's almost always easy to respond to them with a shortened name.

And of course, people will always find a gray area, like Marueen said:
Well Year, it would be pretty easy for you to sign off with:
A Year and A Quarter to Go!

Yes, there are occasional egregious examples of stupidity, and perhaps some slightly improved guidelines would be in order, but 2 words is pretty harsh considering that things are mostly okay here. Contrast this blog with the APP blog, where it's a mess of referring to posts by timestamp, which the name "requirement" here deals nicely with.

I'm thankful that you do maintain some law-and-order here, just feel like 2 words is 2 tight. Okay, had my say, moving on. :-)
A-mom said…
NCLB says that if a school does not meet AYP students have the right to attend another school?
How would that work? With neighborhood schools, students are only guaranteed a spot at their neighborhood school.
Josh Hayes said…
@Jet City Mom, I'm not sure I see why mixed-age classes need to be smaller. At AS1 back in the day, EVERY core classroom (except for one straight K class) was a mixture of grades and ran about 25 kids or so. I think a span of about three grades is nearly ideal for a lot of kids, as long as there's no stigmatization of kids doing remedial work, and no lionization of kids doing advanced work. (Which is up to the kids themselves to some extent, but should not be echoed by the adults around them.)
A-mom, it works because it's a federal law. It is one way a child who doesn't live in the neighborhood could access a different nearby school. You don't hear about it much because I think the district doesn't like to tell people and also that many parents don't always know/access it.

The school just has to make the room.
Jan said…
Oh, goody. dw said what I wanted to say! Your blog, Melissa (and we really like it) so your call -- but, would you consider a move to THREE -- just one more itsy word? That would save all but "Don't Let the Ball dDrop," and preserve some of the better, wittier names that people use.

Of course, if you decide to go all Red Queen on us, there is always Maureen's very sensible suggestion -- allowing both wit and brevity (which of course is its soul).

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