Tuesday Open Thread

Following up on yesterday's Memorial Walk near Eckstein, the Mayor speaks out.  Changes to NE 75th include these:

• Installing a flashing school zone beacon on Northeast 75th Street in front of the school
• SDOT will begin the process of evaluating and potentially installing a school zone speed camera on Northeast 75th Street

The Seattle Police Department will enforce traffic laws at this location, including:
• Use of the mobile speed van to monitor and cite speeders, in response to requests from the Eckstein school community
• Temporary use of a speed reader board to warn drivers of their speed
• Assignment of traffic officers to monitor that corridor (since January 16th)

What's on your mind?


Benjamin Leis said…
These are all good changes to implement but its quite possible a drunk driver would still speed through all of them.

mirmac1 said…
I don't know if you have noticed but, SPS' IT dept has grown exponentially. Meanwhile schools with antiquated equipment have to depend upon the kindness of strangers for tech equipment hand-me-downs.

The agenda for Wednesday's board meeting includes a rather bureaucratic "technology plan" required by OSPI. It does not, in any way, look like a real plan to better use our limited IT funds. Buildings (and PTSAs) are left to their own devices to stock tablets, netbooks, projectors etc.

I know preparing a district technology plan is high on KSB's agenda. Let's hope it happens in a thoughtful, well-designed manner.
Louise said…
Ben is correct. This guy should've had an ignition lock. We need to enforce those much better.
Anonymous said…
Right, those changes won't stop a drunk driver who is out of control, but they might stop the sloppy driver who is distracted and texting or talking on their phone or otherwise not paying attention to a complicated intersection.

I do think there should be a speed camera there.

And, if ignition locks are required, they should confiscate the car and install the lock before they give it back.
Anonymous said…
@ Mirimac:

Thinking that since SPS isn't a technology company, SPS will never do tech well. It hasn't so far and it doesn't look promising for the future. Too many complicated software and privacy concerns downtown. Too little funding for resources for school support.

In the absence of help from downtown, schools still cannot innovate with technology as they wish. They are actively told what they may or may not bring in on the network. Thus, I can't imagine schools leading instead of following the populace of this techsmart city.

Finally something being high on KSB's agenda doesn't seem to mean much. From what I have seen neither staff nor much of the board cares. Not commenting on the agenda itself, just the situation.

Anonymous said…
Right, those changes won't stop a drunk driver who is out of control, but they might stop the sloppy driver who is distracted and texting or talking on their phone or otherwise not paying attention to a complicated intersection.

I do think there should be a speed camera there.

And, if ignition locks are required, they should confiscate the car and install the lock before they give it back.

oops, that was me

Susan said…
My child needs surgery out of state next year. I'm hoping someone can point me in the direction of the "tentative" 2013-2014 SPS calendar. I can't find anything online, but I remember a couple years ago the proposed calendar was somewhere.

Anyone know where I can track this down?
Anonymous said…
First Suspects In Atlanta Cheating Scandal Surrender.

What do we expect when we base financial rewards on high test scores to the exclusion of so much else?

Anonymous said…
From the above article:

At one middle school, 86 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient in math, compared to 24 percent the year before. Prosecutors say that progress was a criminal mirage, Phillips reported.

Justina Collins says her daughter Nybria, now 15, has always struggled with reading. The single mother knew something was wrong when Nybria aced her standardized test in reading.

"Could someone explain to me how she could have passed or exceed a test, but fail throughout the whole entire year? ... When you hear it coming from the very ones that you look up to, to help educate your children, it's just sad and hurtful to know that we search and hope for the best for our kids, and that's what their oath is to provide the best education for them," Collins said.

Now watch the Ed Reform Cartels who push and hype these snake oil miracles blame it all on the teachers or my favorite, "a few bad apples."

How many times have we seen this movie? WSDWG
Anonymous said…
Gawd, it gets even worse:

The world of public education was shocked recently by the story of former Atlanta public schools superintendent Beverly Hall. Lauded in 2009 as the National Superintendent of the Year, Hall and several of her senior staff were indicted for perpetrating a massive fraud, conspiring to manipulate school test scores.

And her ruby slippers and her little dog too! WSDWG
RosieReader said…
I think the District is obligated to bargain the specific calender, as opposed to setting it unilaterally. This delays getting the info out there. In 13 years in the system, though, students start the Wednesday after Labor Day.
Anonymous said…
District technology has not functioned for a single day since the end of January. Who receives angry complaints from parents and harassment from building administrators? It's the teachers' fault of course.

Disgusted said…
Lisa McFarlane is directly tied to the Walton Foundation:

Anonymous said…
I want to know what Mr. Banda thinks about these Education Directors. Now that there are 2 open positions, it could get worse ... much worse ... This administrative tier has not worked out for instructional leadership in the buildings around special education and oftentimes seems to be joining principals at working against the Special Education Department. It would be a nice change if Mr. Banda and his inner circle would take this seriously especially as they review the astonishing truths about the disproportionate discipline of students with disabilities in the district. That translates into only 1 thing: principals are not on board. NOT ON BOARD. How much longer do special education families and teachers have to wait until Mr. Banda hears this and does something about it?

Anonymous said…
Tennessee is considering tying a family's warfare benefits to children's school performance: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/04/01/1802811/tennessee-advances-legislation-that-would-tie-welfare-to-childrens-grades

Anonymous said…
That would be "welfare benefits", not "warfare benefits". Damn you autocorrect!

seattle citizen said…
Strangely, Brian Rosenthal (who usually provides fair and balanced education reporting for the Times, today has a short story, Education group poll: Voters support grading schools, adding money, about a poll done by Strategies 360 for Stand On Children, with only 402 citizens polled...

Rosenthal's handlers at the Times, including Lynne Varner (a Stand puppet) must have twisted his arm to write this non-story.
Anonymous said…
I am a teacher who has been placed on administrative leave until the end of the school year. The reasons that are cited for this:
1. I didn't attend meetings that I was told by HR were optional
2. I didn't turn in lesson plans in the specified manner-even after the district curriculum specialist and the HRCT teacher both said it was impossible to complete these plans in the mandated format.
3. I did not meet with my supervisor to be told how to arrange my furniture.
4. I did not label areas in my (high school) classroom where "supplies" were to be kept even though I have no supplies.
5. Not all my students brought their books to class.
6. I resisted directives to use sticks to call on students.
7. etc, etc, etc
8.Oh, and I didn't give my students any rubrics even though they were posted on Fusion and given out in class
9.There was no evidence that I attended a Power Teacher training even though I signed the sign in sheet, submitted a clock hour form and was paid two hours for the time
Now the district is paying my salary and the salary of a substitute- the same substitute which I told the principal should NEVER be allowed to teach my classes as he has no social or academic expectations of students.

Way to lead HR and principals, Mr. Banda.

mirmac1 said…

Yet another instance of capriciousness and total waste of waste of district money. The principal corps has total control of building funds and can use it in any wasteful action they want.
Disgusted, I was going to write about that endorsement of Macfarlane by the Waltons. You can't get more ed reformy than that.

Everything the Times writes on education should be taken with a grain of salt. They have decided to go all in with the ed reform crowd and damn the data (or evidence). Sadly, their reporters (despite their denials) are sometimes along for the ride.
GreyWatch said…
re: the still TBD 2013-14 school schedule. I had heard it was a bargaining issue, but can someone at least tell us when the schedule will be available? It seems ridiculous that it isn't out yet.
Anonymous said…
Most school districts bargain their calendars 3 years at a time (some 5) so that people can view the calendars years in advance. Why can't Seattle work this out? It is absurd that we still don't know when are vacations will be. Must every decision in Seattle be made at the last minute?
Anonymous said…

A lesson to others.

Document, document, document via email.

For me, if it isn't in writing, it isn't a policy-directive-rule, etc.

Unknown said…
The article about the Stand for Children poll is curious. With 3,910,000 voters in the state of Washington and a sample size of only 402 survey respondents, that gives a margin of error of +/- 4.89% with a confidence interval of 95%, which would is a relatively wide margin of error. Why would this group plan a poll with such a small sample size knowing that it would have such a wide margin of error. They must have expected a wide variance between the two response groups. This leads me to believe that there was a certain amount of question bias by Strategies 360 in the first place in which they expected this kind of result...which leads to why this was reported before the actual methods/results can be examined. Very strange. Or not. As others have noted, the ed reformers have used the same company before to provide biased polls.
Patrick said…
Sticks to call on students? What does this mean?
Anonymous said…
Teachers are now supposed to use tongue depressor sticks AKA craft sticks to call on students.

Staffer- I have 1500+ pages of documents-including emails that prove that administrators have no training so make up stuff as they go along and HR does the same.

All the documentation in the world does no good when there is a culture in which falsifications rule.

I hired an attorney to gather all this information but then the district just throws out more bs. Can't hit a moving target.
I would have had to pay an additional tens of thousands just to keep up with the hash they are slinging.
Eventually it comes down to justice being only for the wealthy.
Can you imagine one teacher winning any battle with the corruption that prevails in SSD?

What? said…
Craft sticks to call on students?
Anonymous said…
Yes. Teachers are to make 150 sticks and pull these out to call on students.

Several parents have written letters of support on my behalf. However, the district responds that these are "personnel" matters not to be discussed

Ann Dornfeld at KUOW has interviewed teachers who have been forced out or targeted by district administrators. She has also obtained evidence that demonstrates senior teachers bear the brunt of illegal and unethical practices on the part of administrators and HR. There is ample grist for a class action law suit but the district has all of the public's money to play us with and we have none.

The Board and Banda are well aware of these practices put in place by MGJ and continuing over the course of three+ years.

There is no one left to which to appeal.

JS said…
I still don't understand the sticks business. Point at the students with a stick? Hand them the stick? Something else?
Patrick said…
Will the union do anything to protect you? That's supposed to be their number one reason for existence, I thought.

I'm also curious how the sticks work, but hate to make light of your situation by focusing on them.
Anonymous said…
You can make light of this absurd situation any time you want. Sometimes all I can do is laugh. Teachers are supposed to write the names of student on the sticks, place the sticks by class period in some kind of holder, pull the sticks out to call on students. Of course the students would never sabotage the whole system as they would never think it was just a bit elementary.
I asked my union rep what the president, vice president and the director of the union do all day. He had no answer to my question.
I have had a couple of ethics complaints initiated by the City. SPS is allowed to "investigate" themselves and conclude that the laws do not apply to them.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hschinske said…
The stick idea is not necessarily a dumb thing to do. Randomizing which student you call on is a good technique to make sure you don't unconsciously leave anyone out. (There are many studies showing that teachers on average call on boys far more often than girls, for instance.)

REQUIRING that teachers all use a particular technique is totally wrongheaded, and to that extent I'm with Salander, but if a teacher chose to use this technique for their own reasons I wouldn't see anything silly about it.

Helen Schinske
Anonymous said…
Yes, there are teachers who are not teaching. But I am not one of them. At the start of the school year I realized that I have several exceptionally gifted students. I designed a parallel learning experience for them where sometimes they would work with the rest of the class and at other times they would use study groups to work on AP curriculum. Any student who wanted to challenge themselves was able to do so under my direction using the AP framework. They and their parents were delighted with this challenge. I was told by administration that I couldn't do this because the other teachers were not and I did not have permission from administration. The principal sent out a letter stating that this would not be allowed. I was directed to use the low level approved curriculum materials. It is obvious that my highly capable students do not have the materials to fully engage at their level. However, when I try to supplement the district materials I am written up for such things as not knowing of the top of my head where a particular reading came from. Given a moment I could go back and cite the source but often I use current "one time use" materials on fast moving topics.

Anonymous said…
In addition, the publisher gave ALL teachers access to the AP materials at a district sponsored training. I assumed that this was with the idea that those materials would be used in the classroom.

Before the tech system broke down I posted everything on the Fusion pages.

Then I was dinged for not putting grades in the EGP grading system after it had been abandoned and another grading program put in its place. I update grades on this system daily even though when I go back the next day those grades are missing. Several times I have asked students to watch me putting their grades in. The next day they have completely vanished. This happened the other day with a student who had been absent and then submitted the work. This moved her grade from a D to an A. Thank goodness I checked her grade again before I was put on leave. Sure enough Powerless Teacher grading had eaten it. I shudder to think what will happen to my student grades and gpa now that I can not watch over this crappy system daily.

Anonymous said…
Wow Salander that is just awful. I have had friends pull their kids from your school because of really bad teachers in some of the general ed classes. One teacher came to class, handed out worksheets for the students to do and then promptly put his head on the table and slept. My friends would have loved to have had a teacher like you for their kids.

Anonymous said…
In the same classes I have many students with severe learning challenges. I routinely give those alternate assignments that are achievable but stretch their skills.
The principal holds up two pieces of graded work and says, "These two student got the same grade but it is clear there is no grading criteria because the other student did not produce at the same level." I tried to explain the concept of assignments at alternative skill levels. My evaluation says, "_____ seems to know the needs of the students but only as the class as a whole." Also, "lesson plans do not include detailed data(MAP scores?) on every student's learning level." WTF! This is what a teacher knows and does. No teacher writes that stuff on their lesson plan for God's sake! Of course the administrator has actually never been a teacher so has to rely on the Teaching for Dummies Handbook AKA the Danielson Framework.
mirmac1 said…
The principal and assistant principal are control-freaks who couldn't teach ONE day in your classroom, Salandar.

If a principal decides he doesn't like how you questioned him, or look, or approach a subject, he puts a target on your back and sics the incompetent HR apparatchiks on you.
Anonymous said…
My union rep told me not to ask him questions because he doesn't know the answers and it just makes him angry.

mirmac1 said…

If I didn't know better, I'd say that sounds like a sketch on SNL.

But it is our state's largest school district. depressing.
Anonymous said…

I lost my job in SPS last year and fought it through the channels I had. I tried to do everything that my principal wanted. The union was no help. The executive director of the region fully supported anything my principal did. It was a rough year.

I feel for you!

Anonymous said…
Forced Out
Sorry this happened to you as well. SPS continues the practice of forcing out teachers. Banda and the board are aware of it but they choose to do nothing. The community is aware of it but they choose to do nothing. I believe this is all driven by the reformer's agenda as well as the national disrespect for teachers that has now rooted itself in American culture.

I still believe strongly in the power of public education. It is sad that our nation does not.

Teachers are merely expendable trash in our throw away society. The public has spoken and they want something new and fresh and shiny. Experienced teachers are far past their sell by date. Our time as the back bone of a school system that has educated millions of young people who often come from nothing but grow up and gain confidence and knowledge is over.

Maureen said…
KPLU played a really thoughtful piece about the new IB program at Rainier Beach this morning. I'm not seeing a link to it right now (only to the one on March 28th), but it was by Gabriel Spitzer and well worth a listen for those interested in RBHS and IB. Chances are they will replay it this evening and eventually have a link.
n said…
A teacher forced out at my school last year under another principal who was out to get her. Impossible record keeping and planning demands were made and no teacher could pass such a grueling examination. The deck was stacked. She was at a grade level that was new to her and, unfortunately, didn't match her style. Even so, she could have been helped with some decent in-school partnering. Also, she could have been moved to a higher grade level which was done for a younger teacher who also couldn't teach the grade level she hired into. But different principals made different decisions.

No, the fix was in. The die cast. The principal wanted this older teacher gone and so it happened.

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