Showing posts from April, 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

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 th

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 or call (206) 252-0061.

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.   Enough. 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

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 pri

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, becaus

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: Burgess 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. McGinn I believe we should monitor the 40 charter schools authorized statewide by the statewide initiative to determine whether they g

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.  

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.

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 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 some

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

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

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 NA

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 Comm

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 o

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

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 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

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.

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