Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Update on Strategic Plan Task Force Meeting

The Strategic Plan Task Force Meeting is tomorrow, Wednesday the 1st, from 10 am to 2 p.m. in the JSCEE auditorium.  The public is welcome and the Task Force will be working thru lunch.

Further thoughts on Highly Capable Policy

My thinking about the proposed Highly Capable policy 2190 has evolved.

At first I just wanted the Board to fix the obvious flaws in the policy. Clarify the "school-age" language and the language about "individual learning rates and styles", remove the superfluous second paragraph that isn't specific to highly capable students, and change the third paragraph so it requires the superintendent to submit a grant application rather than requiring the Board to approve it. Once fixed, the policy won't do any good, but at least it won't do any harm.

Then I thought that this policy, even when fixed, will, in fact, do harm. It will create the illusion that the topic has been addressed and stall the action that really needs to be taken. I believed that the Board should reject the proposed policy until the proper process has been followed. The Board needs to first articulate a Vision for all of Advanced Learning before drafting any policy to implement it. Then the Board should adopt a policy that speaks to all of Advanced Learning - not just APP. That's what I used to think.

Now I dread that possibility. I thought about what Vision the Board might have for Advanced Learning. Given the indisputable fact that the entire district leadership hates Advanced Learning - at all levels - and wants to dissolve it, perhaps it is better for the students if the Board does not articulate that Vision or write a policy to implement it. That has brought me full circle back to my original position - fix the obvious flaws in the policy and adopt it. The Board should not articulate their Vision for the dissolution of Advanced Learning.

Tuesday Open Thread

U.S. Department of Ed official to visit Cleveland High School today to promote "transformation efforts."  From SPS:

Brenda Dann-Messier, who heads the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education, will visit Seattle’s Cleveland STEM High School on Tuesday, April 30, spotlighting the school’s transformation efforts aimed at promoting educational excellence for its students.

As previewed in President Obama’s State of the Union address, the administration is proposing $300 million for a new High School Redesign program, which would fund competitive grants to districts partnering with postsecondary institutions, businesses and non-profits to help ensure that all students graduate from high school with college credit and career-related experience.  

The irony here is that Cleveland was not created to be self-sustaining (because it got rolled out too quickly because of MGJ's ego) and the school actually needs the very kind of grant the DOE will offer because Cleveland doesn't have enough sustaining partnerships.

I'm going to visit the Charter Commission meeting today over in Bellevue.

I attended the press conference about the continuing boycott of MAP by SPS teachers. (The third window of testing has started and is thru the first week of June.)

The movement is now joined by Ingraham and Thornton Creek. Franklin says if MAP is still being used next year, they, too, will not give it.

The demand is for the district to not renew the contract with NWEA and "scrap the MAP." (FYI, Chicago uses MAP and one of the measures they used in deciding to close 61 schools.) They are appealing to parents to opt-out.

Parent Sue Peters told the group that at her son's middle school, they will be taking seven tests over the next seven weeks.

What's on your mind?

Public Review of Native Education Program Grant Application Tomorrow

PUBLIC NOTICE: Open public meeting to review draft application for Seattle Public Schools Title 7 Native Education Program Grant for fiscal year 2013-14

An open public hearing to review the Seattle Public Schools Native Education Title 7 Grant Application for fiscal year 2013-14 will be held 7-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 1, at the John Stanford Center, Room 2700, 2445 3rd Ave S., Seattle, Wash., 98103.

The 2013-14 draft Title 7 grant application will be presented. Native American Parents and community members can submit recommendations to be considered in the final grant submission. Deadline is May 14, 2013. For information contact: Janine Tillotson, Intervention Specialist, Native American Education Program at jetillotson@seattleschools.org or call (206) 252-0061.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Yes, the Cracks are Showing in Ed Reform

 Update:  on Assessments, exhibit one, from CBS in Albany.  A teacher came to the hospital where a student is undergoing pre-brain surgery screening.  He has epilepsy and they have to withdraw his meds in order to cause a seizure to see what is happening in his brain.  Did she come to give him her best?  Nope.

She was from the district there to administer the 4th grade NY State test to the boy.  The parents say they had made arrangements for him to make it up.  The district claims it didn't share any info about the student's absence with NYS Ed Department or the hospital.  


End of update.
“Thursday morning a woman walked into his room with a piece of paper that had his name on it and told my husband that she was a teacher from the New York City School District and that she was there to administer the 4th grade New York State test to my son,” Furlong tells CBS6. The family was shocked. They had already made arrangements with the Bethlehem School District for Joey to make up the exam if he was back in time, so someone asking him to take it from a hospital bed, never even crossed any of their minds.

Read More at: http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/features/top-story/stories/the-real-deal-4th-grader-asked-take-nys-test-hospital-bed-7933.shtml
Thursday morning a woman walked into his room with a piece of paper that had his name on it and told my husband that she was a teacher from the New York City School District and that she was there to administer the 4th grade New York State test to my son,” Furlong tells CBS6. The family was shocked. They had already made arrangements with the Bethlehem School District for Joey to make up the exam if he was back in time, so someone asking him to take it from a hospital bed, never even crossed any of their minds. A spokesman from Bethlehem Schools says the first the district heard about Joey being asked to take the test in the hospital was when they got a call from the Furlongs after they had been visited by the teacher. The district tells CBS6 it did not share any information about Joey’s absence with the NYS Education Department or the hospital. A spokesman from Cohen Children’s Medical Center says under NYS law, the hospital must offer school instruction to any child who spends more than three days in the hospital and that includes standardized testing. The Medical Center has five full-time New York City School Teachers on staff who get age and grade information from patient records and offer their services to families.

Read More at: http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/features/top-story/stories/the-real-deal-4th-grader-asked-take-nys-test-hospital-bed-7933.shtml
“Thursday morning a woman walked into his room with a piece of paper that had his name on it and told my husband that she was a teacher from the New York City School District and that she was there to administer the 4th grade New York State test to my son,” Furlong tells CBS6. The family was shocked. They had already made arrangements with the Bethlehem School District for Joey to make up the exam if he was back in time, so someone asking him to take it from a hospital bed, never even crossed any of their minds.

Read More at: http://www.cbs6albany.com/news/features/top-story/stories/the-real-deal-4th-grader-asked-take-nys-test-hospital-bed-7933.sht
I have my own threads to write on the large and visible cracks in ed reform that are showing.  But in brief:
  • TFA?  There is now a group of ex-TFA that have organized to get TFA to go away.  It's not just a few people, it's now a whole group.
  • Common Core?  There's another big story of states starting to back away.  One reason is something I have said would come and that's the day that conservatives realize that local control goes out the window with Common Core.  (Not saying if that is right or wrong but most conservatives would not go for it.) 
  • FERPA?  Along with Common Core are the the concerns over student privacy.  Will any student in K-12 today be protected from their information going out to any company/group a district deems necessary?  Where is that line?  
  • Assessments?  A huge story and one that gets bigger every day.  A teacher going to visit a student in the hospital (the kid is in because of a possible brain tumor) and guess what the teacher brings?  The state test.  These moms in Texas outsmarting a Texas legislator over the 15(!) end-of-course tests that Texas gives (and their scores would count for 15% of any class score).  From the Austin Statesman:  “Who allowed these big boys to go and play in education? Now the moms have to clean it up, as usual,” said Theresa TreviƱo, a child psychiatrist and Austin mother who helped launch the parent group, Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessments.
  •  Michelle Rhee?  In a couple a years, it will be Michelle Who?  Her latest? Her StudentsFirst group says the "Reformer of the Year" is an anti-gay lawmaker in Tennessee.  This comes from Salon.   StudentsFirst claims they had no idea.  That seems to be Rhee's party line for anything that smacks of accountability on her part.  Salon also points out that StudentsFrist has endorsed mostly conservative, anti-immigrant, anti-union and anti-LGBT candidates. 
For now, read this compelling piece from The Atlantic by John Tierney called The Coming Revolution in Public Education.   It's important reading.

Critics of the contemporary reform regime argue that these initiatives, though seemingly sensible in their original framing, are motivated by interests other than educational improvement and are causing genuine harm to American students and public schools. 

Seattle Schools Transportation - Towncars?

From the "Uh Oh" department, KIRO news is going to have a report at 5 p.m. about SPS transportation.   They allege it includes private transportation of "hundreds" of students, some in towncars.  (I knew SPS used taxis.)  I'm hoping the district has a clear explanation AND the KIRO actually gives them the time to explain it.

Mayoral Forum Tonight

There is yet another mayoral forum tonight.

Mike McGinn, Charlie Staadecker, Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell, Ed Murray, Peter Steinbrueck, Kate Martin and Mary Martin will meet at 6:30 p.m. at South Seattle Community College’s Georgetown campus. Doors will open at 6 p.m.  It's at 6737 Corson Ave. S., Rooms 110/111 and moderated by the swell C.R. Douglas of Q13 News.

Interesting Article from the NYT

Some thought provoking information that I hope the decision makers at the SPS, LEV, AFE and all the  "stakeholders" will read and digest.


Legislature Can't Get It Done, Adjourns

 Update: the Times has a good piece on this issue but says that if lawmakers were giving themselves a grade for education, it would be "incomplete."  C'mon legislators, you didn't get your work done in a timely manner.  I'm thinking the teachers out there would not simply say, "okay, an incomplete it is."

Yes, the "we can get it done" coalition didn't get it done in our state legislature.  The Governor has ordered a Special Session to start on May 13th.

I think the message here is that it takes more than being large and in charge to get things done.  Legislators HAVE to work together.

Frankly, I don't envy them as they have to worry over the mixed messages they get from voters.  Over and over, voters have said fund education.  Even the Supreme Court says that.  BUT, via Tim Eyman, we also vote "no new taxes."  That leaves legislators with,  all things being equal, continuing to slash social services and health care primarily to the poor and elderly.  Not a good choice.

I was astonished to learn of how many tax breaks that exist (especially for our friends at Boeing and Microsoft who like to lament the lack of STEM) and yet the legislators can't even find the will to take a few of those away (say, the beer one).  It is more important to the state to help micro-breweries than fund education?

The Washington State PTA has put forth a policy paper on the funding for basic education.  One key thing they point out is the need to consider what is and isn't "basic education."  An example is that 180-day school year is basic education.   Class size isn't.

Just as you teach what you test, you fund what is mandated.

From their policy paper:

Washington State PTA does not want access to full-day kindergarten,  small K-3 class sizes and adequate instructional time in middle and high school to be funded as “enhancements” – something the state can easily cut or something that can be pushed down to local school districts to fund via excess levy. We want them funded as part of “basic education” so the money will be stable and equitable. This is also why we have lobbied so hard for the expanded graduation requirements. We want all students to have access to the courses that will prepare them for family-wage work, advanced training or college.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Seattle MAP Protest Goes On (and Goes International)

Update:  For example, there is this story from Rockville Centre, NY from the Long Island Herald where 20% of the students in their district have opted out of their "high stakes testing."    These are students in grades 3-8.  

This one is from the Courthouse News Service about parents who filed a federal class action lawsuit against the state of New York and their son's school over the school punishing him for refusing to take a test.  New York apparently has no policy on opt-outs so principals are free to do as they please.  In this case, the school called the sheriff's office to send officers to a ball field to make sure the student could not participate in playing baseball for his school.  Another student was denied recess and the parent told that the district may refer to Child Protective Services. 

 "Such disparities in terms of how school districts throughout New York state viewed and handled students who opted out, occurred, in large part, because New York state's Education Department failed to promulgate regulations and/or protocols to ensure that the students and families that were subject to these examinations were treated in an equitable, just, consistent and constitutional manner," the parents say.

They seek a temporary restraining order to bar punishment for opting out of the April 25-26 math tests, and a preliminary injunction barring any further disciplinary action. They also seek court costs and attorneys' fees.

End of update
There is a press conference tomorrow by the Seattle teachers/staff against MAP testing to announce the boycott for the next round of testing is to grow larger.  (They will be announcing new schools joining in.)

Their message to the district; Don't Renew the MAP Contract.  The MAP contract expires this spring and the call is for the Superintendent to decline to renew the contract with NWEA.

From the press release:

Garfield history teacher Jesse Hagopian said, “Our movement for quality assessment is becoming an ‘educators’ spring’ uprising. New elementary and high schools in Seattle are joining the movement here in Seattle. Hundreds of teachers from around the state just voted overwhelming to support the continuing MAP test boycott at the Washington Education Association’s end of April Representative Assembly. In Chicago hundreds of students walked out of school to protest their own high stakes test. In New York thousands of parents have opted their children out of a standardized test—and this is all just in the last week.”

And this is true - the Seattle protest has been noted, over and over, in the national media. The courage (and whether you agree or not, they are being courageous) teachers and staff who are standing up are being heard by teachers around the country. This protest has been a spark for other protests around the country.

In response, teachers from around Seattle formed their own committee, the Teacher Work Group on Assessment. The Teacher Work Group on Assessment has been meeting to discuss research and send recommendations to the district Task Force. The final report of that group will be presented at the press conference.

They also note that May 1st - International Workers Day - there will be support from teachers in other countries who also support the boycott.

Interesting times we live in.

In Advance of the Mayoral Forums

The King County Democrats had their endorsement interviews this weekend and have put up the questionaires that each candidate filled out.  Very illuminating.

To note:
  • Murray, Martin, Harrell, Steinbrueck all say no to charters (and vouchers)
  • Burgess and McGinn gave "qualified" answers to charters.  Here they are:
I did not support the charter school campaign last year as I viewed that effort as a distraction from some of the larger issues we need to address related to public education. I’m a strong advocate for innovation and reform in public education, but these initiatives should be pursued in cooperation with our teachers, principals and parents. We have seen significant reforms in Seattle Public Schools through the collective bargaining process; for example, teacher evaluation protocols and creative approach schools.

I believe we should monitor the 40 charter schools authorized statewide by the statewide initiative to determine whether they generate better outcomes for students, and deserve to be replicated.  They also need (sic) to be public oversight to hold them to high standards, and to protect collective bargaining rights.  The reality is that, although improving, the achievement gap is deep and lingering and our district is failing to educate many students, particularly those from communities of color.  We need to be open to different options.

Now I had to take a deep breath when I first read these statements.  Because, despite repeated outreach (face-to-face) with both these candidates when the charter campaign was on, neither of them made a single public statement.  I asked and I read and nope, nothing.

In fact, Burgess told me he would not talk about this subject.   His statement makes him sound so willing to talk to all and yet he certainly didn't during the campaign.  (You'll recall that Burgess also thinks mayoral control of the district and the school board might be good ideas.)

You are welcome to take these statements however you want and weigh them against whatever else matters to you in a mayor.  However I feel that both of them showed a decided lack of political courage to take a stand during the campaign (one way or the other).  Maybe this was the safest route for their campaigns but I want a mayor who has the courage of his/her convictions.

I am especially disturbed that McGinn weakly says "we" should monitor the charter schools created.  And how will he, as Mayor, do that?

All the candidates save Steinbrueck said education was one of their top priorities (although Steinbrueck did have plenty to say on the subject anyway).  His ideas include early childhood education and green buildings.

Harrell brought up the idea of Community Service Officers which would be SPD assigned to neighborhoods (and that would include schools) who would be key communicators between neighborhoods and police.

Murray said he would make permitting easier for the district to get school construction done more quickly.  Good call.

All the candidates support more early childhood education.

One other fascinating item is the first non-incumbent candidate for School Board.  That would be Suzanne Dale Etsey.  She is running for Michael DeBell's (apparently) open seat.  She has one child in SPS at Blaine.  She has a very high-powered campaign manager (and this is NOT typical for School Board elections).

Failure to Manage

The core mission of Seattle Public Schools is to educate students. The executives and managers in the District who are most directly responsible for the accomplishment of that mission are:

  • Superintendent, Jose Banda
  • Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, Michael Tolley
  • Executive Director of Curriculum and Instructional Support, Shauna Heath
  • Executive Directors of Schools, Marni Campbell, Carmela Dellino, Kim Whitworth
  • Principals

I don't know about your workplace, but any organization with any kind of intentional management makes a periodic assessment of the effectiveness of the organization's efforts. The same can and should be expected from Seattle Public Schools.

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, April 29th
Special meeting of Audit& Finance.  One single thing on the agenda - potential RIF presentation by HR head, Paul Apostle.

Also, if you wish to speak at the School Board meeting on Wednesday, you can start calling/writing at 8 am on Monday.

Tuesday, April 30th
Charter Commission Meeting in Bellevue from 10 am - 5 p.m. at the Bellevue Arts Museum.  Agenda.  Open to the public (and people do come and go).

They will be having an Executive Session first thing until 10:40 am.  They will then have a presentation about "charter school research findings" from the CRPE's Robin Lake.  (I have heard Ms. Lake speak before and she's a charter cheerleader. I'll be interested to see what the reaction is from the members.)

Public Comment is at noon.  They are electing officers and any bets that Steve Sundquist won't be chair? 

Mayoral forum from 6:30-9:00 pm at Garfield High School.  

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Advanced Learning Policy

At the May 1 Board meeting we will see the introduction of the new Advanced Learning policy.

There is a LOT wrong with it. A LOT. This is the public's chance to speak up and ask the Board to fix it. It is time to get active.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Youth Opportunities from Seattle.Gov

 Youth Commission
The City has extended the deadline for Youth Commission applications for the 2013-2014 school year until Friday, May 10th.  It's good experience (and would look good on a college resume). 

See http://seattle.gov/syc/apply.htm for more detailsand if you know anyone you think would be interested, please encourage them to apply!

Want to Hear Some Frank Talk on Bullying?

This just came on my radar so sorry for the late notice.

On Monday, the 29th, Town Hall is presenting Emily Bazelon of Slate (and author of Sticks and Stones) in a discussion with Dan Savage of The Stranger (and creator of the It Gets Better program) about "Defeating the Culture of Bullying." 

I think it will be fascinating to listen in.   I do want to note that Dan can speak quite frankly so you are warned.  From Town Hall:
Growing up has never been easy, but with the rise of the Internet and social media, bullying has taken on new, complex, and insidious forms, and suddenly childhood is exponentially more challenging—as parents, educators, and even elementary-age kids know all too well. Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon, a leading voice on the social and legal aspects of childhood drama and author of Sticks and Stones, returns to Town Hall after hosting 2012’s sold-out Political Gabfest to examine the ever-shifting landscape of kid-to-kid meanness and its sometimes-devastating consequences. In conversation with The Stranger editorial director Dan Savage (It Gets Better), Bazelon defines bullying (and what is not bullying); identifies when intervention is essential; dispels persistent myths; and explains, above all, that to deal with the problem, we must first understand what today’s kids are going through. Presented as part of Town Hall’s Civics series by Spruce Street School, Billings Middle School, and Town Hall with Elliott Bay Book Company. Media sponsorship provided by The Stranger.
Tickets are $5 atwww.townhallseattle.org or 888/377-4510

Friday Open Thread

Seattle edges out Portland as the "most-liked US city" in a national poll.  Yay for us.

Community Meeting with Director Patu on Saturday from 10-noon at Cafe Vita.

Great youth film festival going on, NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth).  

NFFTY occurs each spring in Seattle, Washington and is the premier showcase of the best young directors 22 and younger from around the world. The films of NFFTY represent the voice of this generation, covering all topics and genres, from compelling and provocative, to hilarious and uplifting. NFFTY has the perfect film for a fan of any age.

UW professors believe it's possible we could actually be living in a computer simulation.  Ponder that over the weekend.

Forgot to note that Olympic View Elementary is having a plant sale today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday) from 9 am to 7 pm.  They're on 5th Ave NE and NE 95th (right on the way up to Northgate if you are headed that way this weekend).  

What's on your mind?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

80 Students Won't Graduate Due to Math Test

Linda Shaw of the Seattle Times reported today that there are 80 high school seniors who can't graduate because they didn't pass the two state End Of Course math tests. School principals wanted superintendent Banda to seek a waiver for the students but the superintendent Banda will not. Statewide there are over 3,000 students in a similar situation.

What Do We Spend Our Education Dollars On?

Apparently there is some confusion out there about how education dollars are spent, particularly among conservatives.

Over at Crosscut, they have been doing some good reporting on this year's legislative session.  (FYI, it is supposed to end on Sunday but odds are they will not reach agreement on the budget and have a (costly) special session.)

Reporter John Stang's article about the Dems and what they are trimming from their budget was useful reading.  One quote that is pertinent to this thread was this one:

"We don't need new taxes. We've got plenty of money for education," said Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama.

"We have to have the courage to fund education first and say 'no' to the other people," Orcutt said.

Really Rep. Orcutt?  And we will have more for education by taking away from public health including homeless people?   That's one way to find the money.

Here's an opposing view:

We're asking some businesses to invest in public education. I very much think this is a very wise investment in public education," Carlyle said. Democrats also argued that improved education would help the state economically. "Our economic success is based on lifting all people up," said Rep Chris Reykdal, D-Olympia.

Then, over at the Washington Policy Center, they have an article, "School Managers Short Teachers on Classroom supplies.  Where does the Money Go?"

NAEP Scores in Economics - Pretty Darn Good

I'll let Diane Ravitch explain these newly released scores to you (as she's the expert) - bold mine:

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) just released the results of its Economics test for high school seniors.

Only 18% of students ranked “below basic,” which surely included high numbers of students who are English language learners and have serious disabilities. 

82% are basic or above.

A remarkable 43% of students ranked “proficient” or above.

Proficient is excellent performance. Having served on the NAEP Board for seven years, I believe that a student who is proficient demonstrates A level performance.

3% of students rank “advanced.” This is A++ performance. 

In any classroom where 43% of the students earn a solid A, great things are happening.
Congratulations to our high school social studies teachers!

What is interesting is that NAEP reports that there is no significant change from the overall scores from 206-2012.

From NAEP:

Almost 30% of Hispanic students have parents who did not finish high school, a higher percentage than that of all other racial/ethnic groups.  These Hispanic students posted a 9-point gain in their average score from 2006-2012.

I'm with Diane - good job, social studies teachers.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Definitions

Today at the Management Oversight work session for Teaching and Learning we learned of some new definitions, or, more precisely, the re-definition of some terms.

Early Education now refers to Pre-K through grade 5. Cashel Toner will be responsible for all of that. Previously, early education referred only to Birth to Kindergarten. Now it includes all of elementary education as well.

The definition of Academic Assurances has been narrowed. It now refers only to the academic opportunity that the district is required by law to provide students. It had previously meant the baseline minimum that each Seattle School would offer or which every student would have access to. Under the old definition it included access to advanced learning, access to AP or IB classes for high school, access to music and arts instruction. No more. It is now only what the law requires.

Curriculum now refers only to the set of knowledge and skills that students are expected to acquire as defined by the Common Core State Standards. This is what we used to call "content". Curriculum has been through a number of re-definitions, far too many to count. The last one was that curriculum was an umbrella term that included content, instructional materials, pedagogy, and assessment. So this word has certainly had its wings clipped.

Please update your lexicons.

We also learned a new word: Crosswalks. Unfortunately the definition of crosswalks was provided by Ms Heath and she is unintelligible. So I can't tell you what it means. Likewise I have no grasp of the District's use of the words Framework, Accountability, Internal Controls, Equitable Access, 21st century skills, or complete. None of these words means what they normally mean when they are spoken by a District official.

Scope and Sequence, Alignment and Walk-Thru, Oh My

I have been to many, many Work Sessions.   This current one, Teach and Learning: Part One of Curriculum and Instruction, takes the cake.

A dense, voluminous presentation with more edu-speak than you can shake an eraser at.  Department head Shauna Heath is a master of this verbage.  Right now, the directors are struggling to get this verbage understood.  At one point she said they still needed to define "curriculum."  She also said this:
"We are systemitizing our systems to compare apples to apples."

I have no idea what she means but it sounds very busy.

Staff also had a comparison of FTE for their department compared to other districts - nationally and regionally - and Director DeBell asked about Bellevue.  It turns out for that particular slide (21 but you won't find the numbering because they stopped numbering the slides after 20) staff only looked at websites and did not call the districts themselves.  So our staff was making an visual assessment of another district's org chart and deciding for themselves what was or was not an FTE.   (It was stated that they did call for the slides that followed.)

I'll listen to more of the discussion now but my heart is sinking.  It's a LOT of top-heavy work (and they complained about lack of money) but I don't see how/when it trickles down to the students.

Folks, you will be somewhat happy with what followed which was close questioning by the directors, particularly Carr and Peaslee.  Carr, with her Boeing background, honed in about the presentation not having the detail she needs to understand their department (which is the point of this Work Session).  Peaslee asked, twice, if teachers were being asked what they need and Ms. Heath avoided answering the question again and again.

More to come.

Big Fight at Nova/World School Yesterday

From the Stranger Slog:

A Central District high school was locked down yesterday afternoon as police responded to reports that a former student and suspected gang member had assaulted several peers and had allegedly pulled a gun on one student. 

Students from Nova High school and the World School, a multilingual school for newly arrived immigrant and refugee students that shares space with Nova, were locked into the building at around 2:30 p.m. yesterday, after teens reported seeing a bloody, brass-knuckle-fueled fight between at least four high school students on the schools' playfield.

"A 14-year-old student who used to go to the World School had basically been kicked out and was going to Chief Sealth school, but he wanted to be re-admitted and the principal had turned down his request," confirms Teresa Whipple, a spokeswoman for SPS. "He’d apparently shown up at the school to confront some students. He said they were spreading rumors that were keeping him out of the school."

The former student, with an older friend, came to school and confronted a couple of students about talking about him on Facebook.   He then started hitting one student with brass knuckles.

At some point, the suspect pulled a gun on another student.   That student got away but the suspect and his friend told the remaining students that he and his friend were part of a Salvadoran gang and would come back.

The three victims declined medical attention. A search failed to unearth the suspects or a firearm. Because of the district's no weapons policy, "the 14-year-old has been long-term expelled from Sealth until the police investigation is complete and we understand what his role was," Whipple says. "We won’t make any final decisions until that’s done."

Oversight of Teaching and Learning

This afternoon we will finally get a management oversight work session for teaching and learning, you know, the school district's core mission.

Here is the presentation that will be made to the Board.

Here are some questions that the presentations makes me want to ask:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Open Thread

Operations Ctm agenda now available for their meeting on Thursday from 4-6 p.m.  Highlights include "growth boundary update" from Enrollment's Tracy Libros, "resolution that construction projects will not create or aggravate racial imbalance", and a resolution about the "sustainability and design and construction of high performance schools."  This is from President Smith-Blum and I believe she means it for greening of schools, not academic achievement.

A bill passed both chambers of our Legislature yesterday regarding the use of so-called isolation techniques.  From KIRO-tv:

According to state law, schools can isolate students in rooms without parental permission and are not required to notify the parents their child has been disciplined with isolation.

 But lawmakers in Olympia passed a new bill Monday which states:

 "The principal … must verbally inform the student's parent or guardian of the restraint or isolation as soon as possible, preferably on the school day that the restraint or isolation occurred."

Show the kids this one - Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield explaining what happens when you try to wring out a soaking wet washcloth in space.   (I believe this was based on an inquiry from two schoolchildren.)

What's on your mind?

Mayoral Candidates Education Forum

CPPS, Community and Parents for Public Schools, is hosting a Mayoral candidate forum on Education.

Tuesday, April 30
6:30 - 8:30pm
Garfield High School Commons
400 - 23rd Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122

Candidates who have confirmed their attendance:
Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell, Kate Martin, Michael McGinn, Ed Murray, Charlie Staadecker, and Peter Steinbrueck

Join these seven candidates running for Mayor of Seattle at the CPPS Mayoral Candidates Forum on Education. Ask questions and learn how the next mayor proposes to help ALL Children receive the support that they need to gain a quality education.

Let's make our presence known and send a message to the next mayor of Seattle!

Be there and please spread the word!

Oversight Work Session: Teaching and Learning

Tomorrow evening the School Board will conduct an oversight work session to review the operation of the District's Teaching and Learning. Finally. This will be the Board's first review of Teaching and Learning EVER.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Adoption Cycle

For those who believed that Seattle Public Schools was supposed to be on a seven-year cycle for the adoption of instructional materials, and that we are overdue for a review of the math materials, you are right.

Here is a memo to the Board from Shauna Heath on the status of the adoption cycle.

She intends to use the coming school year, 2013-2014, as a "curriculum mapping year" for K-12 math, then spend the following year, 2014-2015, for "evaluation" with implementation coming in the fall of 2015. She's going to take three years to recommend math texts when the work is already overdue.


When a vendor for the District has overbilled the District they can be subject to debarment - the District will refuse to do business with them in future.

As a result of the scandal around the Small Works roster program and the state auditor's office investigation into the potential loss of public funds, a number of cases for debarment arose.

Here is a district memo summarizing the status of those debarred.

You will note that the debarment of the Urban League has expired. It ran for 18 months from September 2011 to March 2013. I was troubled when Micheal Tolley contracted with the Urban League to provide mentoring to "at-risk" youth AFTER the Pottergate scandal broke. I was particularly troubled when the SAO reported that, once again, their invoices lacked sufficient detail. Yet the District is ready to do business with them again. Astonishing.

Of Interest