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Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Open Thread

The Friday before Spring Break - the calm before the testing.

Two animal stories connected with education.

One is about a cat, Simba, who visits Westbrook high school in  Maine every school day and the other one is about a program where elementary students read to dogs.   Turns out the high school kids love the cat (and the place seems calmer because of it) and the little kids love to read to non-judgmental dogs (and their scores seem to show it).

Simba has gone to the high school for 13 years but still hasn't graduated (damn those standardized tests!).

Just saw this and it may appeal to teens in your household who (1) love Macklemore and (2) have an artistic bent.  Thrift Shop is so catchy it feels like the ultimate ear worm.

The BEST video about overcoming bullying from a remarkable young man in Canada.  Inspiring and (big sap that I am) a really tear-jerker.  We should all start a "Be Kind" campaign.  

Threads to come:
- Charter Commission meeting, part two
- Equitable Access Work Session, part two
- SPS school leaving the PTA?

What's on your mind?

52 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Watching said...

http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/latest-mayors-race-fundraising-numbers-april-2013

Here is a riddle:

What do you get when you add:

Tim Burgess desire for mayoral control of our schools + Nick Hanauer + Lisa McFarland (DFER)=

Melissa Westbrook said...

From Anonymous (give yourself a name next time):

Memo alerted Rhee in 2009 that DC cheating could be widespread:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/11/memo-washington-dc-schools-cheating/2074473/

"The USA TODAY investigation found that, as far back as 2008, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), D.C.'s equivalent of a state education department, asked for an erasure analysis. Among the 96 schools flagged for wrong-to-right erasures were eight of the 10 campuses where Rhee handed out so-called TEAM awards "to recognize, reward and retain high-performing educators and support staff." In all, Rhee bestowed more than $1.5 million in bonuses based on increases in 2007 and 2008 test scores."

Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, I'm watching as well.

I've said it at several places (the Crosscut article and the Publicola one) - Burgess supports takeover of school districts AND school boards. He is now getting money from local ed reformers.

If he clears the primary, expect to see what we saw in just the school board races in LA - namely, out-of-state ed reform money.

Do we want the Waltons to decide who is mayor? Bloomberg?

I don't.

Chris S. said...

Easy, you get Chicago, or New York. Without the charm.

New Jersey! We wanna be just like New Jersey!

Anonymous said...

Saw the CPPS mayor debate notice. Anyone going to get the pols on the record? Interested in a couple of the candidates - Burgess isn't one of them. Will probably go but a recap here would also be awesome.

SavvyVoter

Anonymous said...

Really frustrated with the new source and its inability to handle Nathan Hale's quarter/semester classes. Grades for classes on the quarter schedule can't be found which are their core classes History/Language Arts/Science/Health. It has also wiped out the grades for these classes in the first semester.

HP

Melissa Westbrook said...

Savvy, of course I'm going. This is a pretty big event in my world and I hope to get a question in.

What should I ask?

HP, are you being told why this is happening?

Janis said...

HP, I have reported this problem to Source Support (we have the same issue at TOPS). It took some back and forth via email for them to understand the problem, but now they do. I have been told that they are reporting it to the developers and the vendor and hope to have it resolved as quickly as possible. I just had the email exchange this morning.
Janis

Anonymous said...

No. It just can't seem to handle the quarter classes. My daughter had Health/Science first quarter and the grades are for that on the old Source. Her final grades for her second quarter classes, History/Language Arts stop before the quarter ended or have disappeared. When the quarter flipped from 3rd to 4th quarter, her 3rd quarter grades disappeared for Health/Science. Her year long classes and semester classes show up fine.

HP

Anonymous said...

Thanks Janis!

HP

Anonymous said...

The Source: Everybody should look very closely at the grades. I found a signficant mistake in a class grade.

Make sure that the grade/percent ties out with all the listed tests and homework grades.


Watching closely

Janis said...

HP, it looks like the problem of losing grades for classes that are only one quarter as opposed to a full semester or a full year, has been fixed. Wow. Great customer service from someone at Source Support. At first, s/he did not understand what the problem was, but when s/he went into my child's profile, bingo. Immediately saw that this was a serious glitch and it was fixed within a few minutes.

Watching said...

Melissa,

With Hanauer and McFarland's support, I'm sure Burgess would get plenty of logistical, financial and other support to get mayoral control.

F

Anonymous said...

For those interested in "reading with dogs" programs, check out Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) at www.petpartners.org. They have programs all over the country and are based out of Bellevue (used to be in Renton).

There should be a number of teams working in the R.E.A.D. or Reading with Rover programs if you want to get some to come to your school (K–12). They also set up programs at libraries.

SolvayGirl

suep. said...

Speaking of Crosscut, here's a curious item: It turns out Gates has given the local news & opinion site twice as much money as originally stated.

According to the recently revamped Gates Foundation web site, Crosscut has in fact received $800,000 from Gates -- an increase from the $400,000 that has been originally posted on the site's grants database these past three years.

It would appear that the amount has been updated retroactively, or slipped into the earlier grant on the site.

That's a nice chunk of change, and may help explain the pro-corp-ed-reform slant of much of Crosscut's education coverage. It also makes it highly unlikely we'll read much reporting on Crosscut that is critical of Gates and his unelected influence on public education.

Crosscut Public Media

Date: April 2010
Purpose: for general operating support
Amount: $800,000
Term: 57
Topic: Not Available
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: Foundation
Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington
Grantee Website: http://crosscut.com

suep. said...

Here's the original grant posting on the original site:

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Grants-2010/Pages/Crosscut-Public-Media-OPP1016563.aspx

Crosscut Public Media

Date: April 2010

Purpose: for general operating support

Amount: $400,000

Term: 1 year and 11 months

Topic: Not available

Region Served: North America, Global

Program: Foundation

Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington

Grantee Web site: http://crosscut.com

Anonymous said...

Now it is spring break, I wanted to ask about truancy/excused absences. I have seen in the last decade the decline of stigma surrounding taking off school just for vacation. It appears SPS is changing their policy ( via anecdote ) surrounding excused absences for vacation.

Thoughts?

When I was a kid, I rarely saw anyone do this, but now it seems to be the norm especially around the Fridays and Mondays bookending breaks.

--wondering

Anonymous said...

I am a parent at JSIS, and every year, we have fundraising so we can hire instructional assistants for immersion classes. This year, we need to raise $450,000 which is basically $1,000 per student. I think it is outrageous amount of money for parents to donate. why SPS makes immersion programs as neighborhood school and then doesn't help school financially? We live in Wallingford but we are middle class family. I just feel tremendous pressure from school every year (especially last 2 years) and I don't feel comfortable getting letters after letters and phone calls to remind us to pay. People compare with private school and paying $1,000 is cheaper than sending to private school, but we cannot send my kids to private school because we don't have enough money. Public school should not do this kind of pushy fundraising, and the program should be sustained without parents support. If program cannot run it without fundraising, that means it is not sustainable. In my home country, we never ever do this kind of fundraising in public school. SPS should mention that it will cost extra $1,000 per year to learn 2nd languages in public school, and if people still want to learn at immersion school, then they should charge $100/month (free lunch people is free) instead of fundraising so we understand before we enter this immersion school. If there is not enough budget in SPS, SPS family is living tight budget too!!

very upset mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Very upset, I don't know if you follow this blog but I have written a lot on this issue. I told the Board that I believe it is wrong to put this kind of burden on parents. Director Carr has expressed deep misgivings on this point (creating a program that needs support the district knew it could not give).

I'm sorry to hear the fundraising is so hardcore. I believe for JSIS it ended today.

Greg Linden said...

Is it too early to talk about school board candidates for 2013? Who is up for re-election and who might be running against them?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Never too early.

Betty and Kay are both running to hold their seats and I have no doubt they will get challengers.

DeBell says he is leaving (and I believe him). A big ed reform seat.

I predict a LOT of money spent (with some coming in from out-of-state) and at least one exTFAer.

If you know anyone who wants to run (or you think would be good) for DeBell's seat, let me know. I'd be happy to talk to them about running, etc.

Asking said...

Where is DeBell going?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Asking, last I heard,he wants to run for the Legislature (this was in Publicola).

A-mom said...


About Immersion

I see a disconnect here. Northgate Elementary touts an immersion program on their school website. I doubt with an 80+ FRL population that hey have much money derived from fundraising. What gives?

Anonymous said...

From The Huffington Post this past week: "A Warning to Young People: Don't Become a Teacher"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-turner/a-warning-to-young-people_b_3033304.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

FirstHiller

mirmac1 said...

A-mom,

Northgate has a high ELL population. Here is an instance where those "out-of-the box" thinkers downtown look to "leverage" those IAs who are supposed to help ELL students reach/stay at grade level while learning English. Now they reduce ratios so that english-speakers can learn a new language. More diversion of restricted-use funds.

Melissa Westbrook said...

A-Mom, this is how Concord and Beacon Hill have IAs. Their FR/L dollars from Title One can be used for IAs.

Anonymous said...

Another sad lament from a teacher.

http://bgfay750.blogspot.com/2013/04/i-am-teacher-and-i-am-tired.html

-dismayed teacher

Anonymous said...

First Hiller-

I have (had) been a teacher for all of my adult life. Until these last few years of ed deform I loved every minute of it. Yes, it is a stressful and demanding career but it was what I was called to do. Daily I received love and kudos from my students and parents. I found joy in the high level of work and success reached by even the most challenged of my kids.
I would give the same advice to young people who are called: Do not become a teacher. You will be harassed and intimidated by administrators in their efforts to force out creativity and innovation and diversity all in the name of chasing dollars from the billionaire boys club.
Salander

Anonymous said...

www.scribd.com/doc/135764604/Claim-Response"> The Woman Who Stepped on the Hornet's Nest

After a full year of jumping through every arbitrary and capricious hoop administration pushed in front of me I discovered that I was no longer the same teacher who I had been for over two decades. I did not have time to actually by a teacher, which means much more that the proper method of the day. I made the decision that come what may I would devote the balance of my time, thoughts, energy and heart to my students. As a result I was forced out on "administrative leave" a punishment reserved for teachers who are a danger to their students. Just after this particular purgatory began I received charges in the mail that I was going to be fired for probably cause- "retaliation against students". I was also threatened that if I did not respond to this charge I would immediately be fired with no hearing. Although I would rather have not had to lower myself to a defense of things I did not do. I had no choice. I am now out of the hoops and into the ring of fire.

Salander

mirmac1 said...

I am amazed at the immorality of our HR department. They have no problem shelling out $5K-8K for an "investigator" to smear a teacher based on a trumped charge or single parent complaint.

mirmac1 said...

Here's a live link to that letter.

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

If you were posting the teacher information (which, wow, should probably remain private, even if it is a public record) in order to support the teacher's claim of harassment, etc., I'd have to say it's going to have the opposite effect. It does not portray the teacher in a positive light. I'd strongly encourage you to remove the post.

reluctant reader

mirmac1 said...

The "investigations" serve their purpose, do they not? Do you think they are fair-handed and accurate? Who hires them and pays them - over $100K last year?

In fact the teacher has both eyes open, and has more courage and stamina than others who have been similarly mistreated.

Melissa, I don't know why your removed my post. This is what principals, assistant principals, HR and their investigators do. Yes, even at Roosevelt. The investigator's report and invoices can be found on SPSLeaks.

Anonymous said...

http://virtualweb.seattleschools.org/DataFlowForm.aspx?desiredform=700&sessionid=0
--SPS assignments

Anonymous said...

Thank you SPS assignments. It's is nice to know.

-8th grade parent

Anonymous said...

I have to say I agree with reluctant reader. The teacher's letter of response accuses 4 different admin types of harassing and bullying and basically having it in for her, of at least two other teachers of lobbying for students who didn't do their work properly while she alone was in the right, and accuses 4-5 students of being out to get her. And they're bad students, bad, bad. Oh, and the one teacher they want to transfer to is not any good.

I have no idea if any of this is true. It may be that all these people are really that evil, that incompetent or that conniving, but wow is right. Lots of rambling second and third-hand reports of who said or didn't say what or who told who this or that. And then there are the students out to get her. YIKES.

No one comes out of this looking good, including the teacher, even in her own words.

HOLY COW

Anonymous said...

And yeah, teachers DO suddenly go from being amazing and popular and wonderful to needing to get out, or be asked to go. I had one in high school. She was at one time, I guess, a great LA teacher who inspired great writing in her students. By the time my class got to her, she'd lost the ability to control the students, her ability to teach well, or to even grade papers well.

Back then they called it a nervous breakdown, at least, that's what the rumors were. All I know is that we learned nothing of use for an entire quarter, and having the department head come fill in for the rest of the year was the best thing that ever happened to us.

I hope that isn't what happened to Salander

HOLY COW

Anonymous said...

HOLY COW

No. I did not have a "nervous breakdown". Nor did the dozens and dozens of teachers in SPS who have been treated in the same way using the same tactics. Several teachers, parents, and community members have posted on this blog in regard to the harassment and intimidation they have experienced. Hundreds of teachers across the nation have endured exactly the same experiences.

Yes, sadly, there are students who cheat and manipulate the system to get what they want. You apparently have not read the data gathered over several years that proves this point.
Fortunately, they are not the majority. Over the years I have taught thousands of wonderful, bright, capable and honest students. These are the same students who thank me each day after class. These are the students who sit be my desk as we go over their work, listen to my comments and then revise for a better grade- a grade they have earned by their hard work and diligence.
Yes, there are administrators who believe it is their job to harass, intimidate and bully teachers in order to ruin their reputations. This is not new information.
You are correct, no one comes out of this looking good. That is not the goal of the process. The goal is to rid the district of any teacher who might do their own thinking. This opens up positions for the bots of TFA and other ed reform trainers. This community bemoans these "teachers" being foisted upon their students while at the same time sticking their heads in the sand and the fingers over their ears unwilling to help and support the qualified and competent teachers who daily motivate, guide and, yes, teacher their students.
I will leave you to it.
Salander

mirmac1 said...

Is this an isolated case? NO. Teachers at RBHS have submitted a petition, citing the new assistant principal who has, from day one, harassed and targeted teachers.

How is that "support for struggling teachers", "working with labor partners" yada yada? How are principals who have never taught 150 high schoolers, better able to devise lessons and differentiate instruction? And how does micromanagement and constant moving of the goalposts help the teacher or the students?

There are always two sides to these things. In my experience fighting some sleazy slimy $%#&! in this district, you can bet the district will win at all costs. Ron English will stand there and lie to your face. Superintendents will evade, deny or ignore. HR will stick it to you. Principals will bar you from buildings. Legal will tell families go ahead and sue us.

Anonymous said...

The Danielson Framework explained...

The Framework for Teaching

fyi

Melissa Westbrook said...

I removed the post because it does have names and I needed to know, in particular, if the teacher was okay with this being posted.

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said...

I understand Melissa.

There comes a time when some must take a stand. Not necessarily for their own benefit, but on behalf of those who have legitimate reason to fear retaliation.

I identify with the workers who have the guts to confront those in control who, while wallowing in the slime, claim the moral high ground.

How many lies and distortions does $13K of your child's education buy? Apparently enough to allow an administrator to feel he has exerted his authority as the "educational leader" of teachers, who have much more knowledge and experience than he has.

Again, this is comparable to what HR pays people like Curman Sebree to write one-sided, character assassinations of teachers and staff.

Keep writing those checks...

Dave said...

Having had my character questioned by the likes of Curmen Sebree several times over the last couple years, I agree with mirmac. However, its not only teachers.

Having been here under 9 superintendents and numerous regimes in HR, I can testify that the current cast is by far the most disfunctional group of cronies ever.

Employee can not seem to get any support from that Department which appears to percieve its mission as "principal enforcers" regardless of facts.

And then the hiring of outside "shills" to parrot the party line as "investigations" is simply too "Animal Farm" to believe.

Dave said...

We have counted at least 5 ongoing "outside investigators" including (yet another) "new FTE" in HR as a regular employee.

HR investigations costs have doubled and (last year) even tripled in each of the last four years.

Every person in HR gets a pay increase and other do the "work".

Fremont Mama said...

assignments and waitlist information is up on SPS...

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=fcb774dbb031312c8d85935ebf41d5b4&sessionid=b823dc3f3d46f791d0a1eccace573319&pageid=172239&sessionid=

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