Friday Open Thread

Start of the Memorial Day weekend - give a bit of time to remembering our vets (and tell your children why it's important).  I say this every year at this time but I do it in remembrance of their sacrifice.  Thank you to my mother's cousin, Charles, who gave his life during WWII at the Baatan Death March and to Harry S. Ravenna, who died in Vietnam.  I wore his name on a MIA bracelet during junior high. 

Inspiration for your student - a short video by This American Life's Ira Glass, on the creative process (and persistence).

And, since it's prom season, a photos of President Obama going off to his prom.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Was there any discussion about AL at the work session on Wednesday?

I don't think so as the presentation didn't mention it.

No, I think AL is really in the hands of individual principals because clearly, no one at the top really cares at all. (Except for Harium who likes to harrumph about the SE.)
Anonymous said…
What's bugging me lately is thinking about mainstream "journalists" who report the charter school issue uncritically. This charter school is successful? Hooray. Where's the other side? Writing critically means not only that there are two sides to every story; it also means you look at people's motives, and history, and what they have to gain from a particular one-sided spin of the facts. You don't take things at face value. You don't publish a story until you've interviewed both sides, then neutral experts, then thought it through, and are sure you're not being spoon-fed one angle. It's our kids' futures here. Take the time to do it right, media.

Anonymous said…
StepJ, the Education Directors took up so much time, there was barely time for the Special Education presentation and ELL had to be moved to another day. Very poorly managed on the part of the Education Directors. I think of ELL and SPED as clients of the Ed Directors. So, the Board should have heard from them with enough time to delve into their problems and opportunities THEN with that context they could have had some real questions for the Education Directors. It was a poorly managed session and more like rubber stamping than "oversight."
mirmac1 said…
What kills me is that this org structure of Exec Dirs of Schools was set up by MGJ and hailed by Enfield (the data-driven duo). Yet the presentation was incredibly devoid of data. There were frequent citations of SPS' oracle UW prof Meredith Honig who's "research" has led to research-based "promising" practices. ?!? Is that like "maybe best practices but we really don't know and can't say"?! The only thing non-Honig, non-anecdotal part of the presentation was a principals survey that showed, for the most part, EDs were getting B+s from their charges. No mention was made of the fact that only 80-90% of principal evals (one of the EDs key tasks) were completed on time (goal is 100% of course). They said that they're really trying to make sure there is uniformity in how the PG&E evaluation tool is being used for teachers; that arbitrary, somewhat nebulous practices by principals are the complaints they hear most. Check that, they should have mentioned that they also hear from special ed families who suffer under principals who are ignorant of IDEA, and who are told that they are to elevate concerns to the principal's boss, EDs. Yeah, if you believe that works, I gotta bridge in Skagit County to sell you.
Carol Simmons said…
Heard Sue Peters speak at an Metropolitan Democratic Club (MDC) meeting last week. She was excellent.
Unknown said…
I hate to sound like an educational conspiracy theorist, but it seems like I am reluctantly turning into one.

I was at the Executive Oversight Session meeting. I think the SpEd presentation was well done. It addressed a lot of parental concerns moving forward. Notably many teachers and some SpEd parents were there in support.

I did sit through the Education Directors part. It was heavily based on direction from the Center for Educational Leadership at the UW. I don't know much about organization. So I did some heavy duty research--and googled them. I could find no direct funding from the Gates Foundation in terms of grants. I was surprised at that, as they are listed as "partners" on the org's website. Did some more heavy duty googling and found that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation lists position openings for the Center for Educational Leadership on their website, indicating that the GF funds the position directly.

This brings up two thoughts: 1. Does anyone know of a way to get at how many positions in local educational reform organizations are actually GF employee positions? 2. I think someone needs to develop/write a paper delving in depth intoto the relationship that GF has with every single educational/reform org in the city/state? I know that Seattle Education has a diagram on their site which diagrams some of the influence of Gates/Waltons/Broad here, but as far as I can tell the relationships/money runs much deeper.
Unknown said…
And along the same parallel paranoid track, I have some thoughts/facts on InBloom or the Road Map Project: Parents wrongly believe that FERPA or HIPPA regulations provide protection
to this sort of data mining. But it is legal under FERPA because in 2008 and 2011, amendments to FERPA gave third parties,including private companies,increased access to student data. In 2008, amendments to FERPA expanded the definitions of “school officials” who have access to student data to include "contractors, consultants, volunteers,and other parties to whom an educational agency
or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions it would otherwise use employees to perform." HIPPA provides no protection for medical records as schools are not a covered agency.
So all of us who think InBloom can be legally challenged based on FERPA are wrong, wrong, wrong. I am now looking at WA state privacy protections to see what help they may offer.
seattle citizen said…
This just in: Seattle has cancelled yellow bus, short bus, and taxi transportation into the district from all points north of the Skagit river.... :(
Anonymous said…
Posting a question for my sister who lives in Columbia City...She heard that Columbia school (where Orca was housed, on Edmunds) will be reopening and all tenants will be moving out by this summer. Does anyone know the plan? She searched the district site and couldn't find any info about it. Thanks!

seattle citizen said…
Gretchen, I went to SPS site, went to search, searched Columbia School and found a March 2013 board introduction item to reopen Columbia as an elementary to relieve crowding in SE. I didn't ser there if it had been approved, but if your sister reports people moving out....sorry I can't paste a link to the doc. I'm on my phone and I don't know how to copy and paste on it.
dw said…
And along the same parallel paranoid track, I have some thoughts/facts on InBloom or the Road Map Project: Parents wrongly believe that FERPA or HIPPA regulations provide protection
So all of us who think InBloom can be legally challenged based on FERPA are wrong, wrong, wrong. I am now looking at WA state privacy protections to see what help they may offer.

Thank you Mary, for your efforts and sharing.

From what I've been able to discern so far, I'm not sure there are any real legal protections left -- but please correct me if you find anything at the state level! Those who have been lobbying for these changes have been doing a great job eating away at what few protections our kids have left. We need to start an organized effort to restore some of those protections, but it's not going to be easy.

What we can do right now is work at a local level and make sure that our local districts do NOT share data with ANY of these organizations. The laws are being watered down to allow sharing, but it's not required. If senior leadership in our local districts is not listening, then we need to work through the elected school boards. If they are not listening, then we need to elect new directors.

Right now most people still have no idea this data sharing is even happening. The word needs to be spread far and wide, to friends, neighbors, fellow parents, teachers, everyone. Unless our leaders hear from many voices, they will continue to assume that we don't care and/or that they can continue to sneak in these changes. Start talking with the new school board director candidates as well as our current directors. Make our voices heard!
Anonymous said…
Melissa - is it possible ot have a full post on this data sharing information? it sounds very alarming, but i don't knwo anything about it.
Anonymous said…
Thanks Seattle Citizen. Found it! Will send it her way.
Thanks, looks like I will have to try to do the whole piece on Common Core soon (which is driving some of this data sharing for sure).

Mary, you cannot swing a dead cat in this town at a non-profit that doesn't benefit from Gates. I was just going to write about the newest charter group that ...wait for it ... is funded by Gates.

Maybe some of us can collaborate on this effort (at least for local non-profits). No one wants to listen; maybe they need to see it in black and white.

And, by the way, somehow Gates gets more of a glow but when I mention the Walton Foundation, everyone gets upside. You can certainly see the difference between Walmart and Microsoft in people's attitudes.
mirmac1 said…
Do you know why nobody knows? Because the district signed an amended MOU with CCER last fall, with NO public meeting or discussion. For some reason, either the administration didn't feel the board needed to be bothered about this, or had to be kept in the dark. Knowing the board, they probably figured it was a fait accompli. The Road Map project application has been in process since, well, Enfield was high-stepping for Gates and gang. Banda signed the MOU 2 months after he came to town. Probably thought we ALL love Mary Jean Ryan.

While it's true that FERPA has been gutted, there are best practices for data-sharing in the Federal Register. Frankly, I don't have the energy to pursue this, but someone could compare best-practice provisions against the MOU language.



Privacy (Hah! that's a laugh) Technical Assistance Center
Watching said…
Has anyone else noticed the individual handling the data sharing project with CCER is a TfA graduate?
mirmac1 said…
If I'm not mistaken Nicole VanVoohis has been around since the MGJ days, acting as "project manager" for various misguided strategic plan initiatives. Whodda thunk TFA trained you in project management skills. And that you could go from TFA teacher to Performance Management consultant in 6 years?
Unknown said…
Nor surprises there. Ms. Van Voorhis is a TFA alumnus, and as such is just doing what most of them do: contribute to churn.
She stays 1 or two years in a position and then moves on. It's just a two-year stint in a classroom before the rest of your life starts. Her pathway just happens to include management in education. Of note, she did obtain a Master of Public Administration in June of 2011, which would be after MGJ hired her, but presumably would make her more qualified for her present position.
Anonymous said…
What's bugging me is not knowing what's happened to the former MLK school site "awarded" to First AME church. I can't find anything (here or elsewhere) newer than 2011. There were contract terms and penalty clauses requiring occupancy by certain dates, etc. Given the millions the District walked away from to select this bidder, there better be some oversight.

Although not directly related, they lost their Federal Head Start funding last month due to sloppy management. Their director claimed he had "no idea" why, yet the story quoted Federal officials with details of multiple written warnings. A denial culture doesn't bode well.

-- Bill
mirmac1 said…

SPS property management made a presentation to the Audit & Finance committee April 11th that said everything regarding the lease is hunky-dorie. I'm sure you could get the handouts (which had specific lease terms and performance numbers) by asking the Board Office. Anita and Theresa are very helpful.
Bill, I was at a recent Board Ctm meeting where the update was received about the use of MLK, Jr. building. According to the report, the First AME group is fulfilling its contractual obligations. Apparently not many groups are leasing space from them - no explanation was given - but they are allowing the community use that was promised.
Anonymous said…
I received an e-mail from Suzanne Estey announcing her candidacy and asking for my support.

My question is… how did she get my e-mail address?

She stated she was endorsed by outgoing Director DeBell. Did she do a public records request for anyone that had ever written to DeBell? Or, how else did she get my e-mail address?

I do not respect the ethics of anyone that would glom onto an address book from – SPS, LEV, DeBell, or...where individuals have written an e-mail or made a donation to their individual school, but did not explicitly agree to have their information shared.

I will not even consider voting for her now. I have no respect for people that skirt integrity.

If anyone knows whom or which organization is sharing their address book with her, please let me know.

Thank you,
StepJ, you might write to her campaign e-mail and ask her yourself. I agree, though, very odd given you had not contacted her campaign directly.
Anonymous said…
StepJ. Are you a pta board member at your school? And if so, is your email address on the PTA or school website. Many solicitations come in that way.

...just a thought
Anonymous said…
Thanks, ...just a thought.

No. I haven't been a PTA Board member for a couple of years now. Our PTA website intentionally does not list e-mail addresses. We do contact links through our interface software specifically so personal e-mail addresses remain private.

I have written e-mails to Director DeBell on various topics, but have never endorsed him as a candidate, nor donated money to his campaign.

I would hope the SCPTSA would not share or sell their mailing list of current or previous PTA Board members. I actually think that might be a violation of their guidelines.

I'll try to find out the source.

seen it said…
@StepJ, It's very likely that DeBell gave out his email list to Estey.

I know for a fact that other directors have done this, specifically KSB. It's not cool even when it's given to someone you ultimately support; I'd be furious if it was handed out (like in this case) to someone you're very likely to not support.

Estey is 100% off my list as well.
mirmac1 said…
That's funny. I write to Director DeBell all the time, yet he didn't give his handpicked replacement my email address... ; )
Anonymous said…
Gee StepJ, why are your undies in such a big wad? Why do you care that SHE got your email address? Her goal, like anyone else running for office, is to get her message out as widely as possible. She could get your email from a million places, including from your own school. Shouldn't your high and mighty contempt be directed at who ever gave out your super secret email? If you don't want your email out, then don't send email, or give it to anyone, and certainly never buy anything using an email identification for yourself. There is no privacy when it comes to email. Wake up.

dw said…
Nice, reader. No need to be an ass about it.

Technically, any email sent to a school employee or director is open for public records requests. That's why we got to see all the somewhat embarrassing banter between Enfield and her "friends". So from a technical standpoint, yes, there is no expectation of completely privacy with regards to emails sent to a director.

However, unlike your BS tirade here, there IS an expectation that with email in general, people or organizations do NOT share out in bulk, their entire address books. Especially in a case like this, where there is a profit motive (getting elected) behind it. In this case, StepJ has every right to be mad at both the giver and receiver of that data. The giver, for breaching implied trust, and the receiver, for either requesting or accepting bulk contacts from individuals who did not give any permission to do so, either explicit or implied. There is no implied consent to having personal contact information dispersed merely by making contact with someone. That's where you're 100% wrong.

If DeBell wanted to share his list with Estey, he should have sent out a message to his entire list, expressing his support for Estey and suggesting that everyone sign up for her mailing list. But of course that would have resulted in far fewer takers.

Question for Mirmac: when does a public servant's email become public? Only after they are elected? Or as soon as they are officially a candidate? Would love to see emails between DeBell and Estey, leading up to and shortly following her decision to run for office. I doubt they happened over his official SPS email account though, and good luck getting those other emails.
Anonymous said…
Ha, spot on dw. DeBell is my rep. Don't know much about the candidates, but if "reader" is an Estey supporter, I'm not impressed so far.

dw said…
As I continue to read about this candidate/race I found this post CCER, the Road Map Project and student data collection which says:

Suzanne Estey is on the board for the Community Center for Education Results (CCER), actively participated in the Road Map program and is now running for Seattle Public School Board.

If Estey is on the Board of CCER and working on RoadMap, that alone is enough for me to say No Way, No Thanks. I suspect she will have a strong campaign $fund$. I hope the other candidates in district 4 are able to compete with it.
DW, money is not going to win a seat. Look at LA. Support for a candidate, both in resources and on-the-ground, that's what wins for School Board.
Anonymous said…
Dw, if you expect privacy then you are a self righteous moron. There's no secret, unwritten rules. That's not a 'tirade', it's a fact. I'm not an Estey supporter. I know nothing about her.

dw said…
Ha ha. Yes reader, your "facts" overrule other people's facts. Good one.

Apparently you think the simple act of emailing someone gives them the societal right to not only add you to a mailing list, but to then give it out to others without your permission? Glad to know this, I'll certainly never email you. I can't imagine you are in anything but a small minority with this opinion. Not worth they keystrokes to continue this conversation.

Melissa said: money is not going to win a seat. Look at LA.

This is the optimistic view, but I took this: Out of three candidates, one ed reformer won, one moderate won (who had been targeted nonetheless by the ed reform crowd) and one seat went to a runoff. with a little less optimism. If the "moderate" was targeted by ed reform, they got contributions, right? And they won. Following that logic, money bought 2 out of 3 seats and the remaining seat was close, which is depressing.

I'm cautiously optimistic, because Marty and Sharon were able to pull off wins here last election. Especially Sharon, who managed this with such a small fraction of Peter Maier's war chest. But I'll stick with my original tenet that Estey will have significant fund$ to work with, and I hope her opponents will be able to compete well against it.

Ultimately, we need election reform, with low limits on contributions, and perhaps even some small public matching funds for those who move past the primaries into the general. I'm torn about this last part because I don't generally think public funds should be used for stuff like this, but after watching recent elections here and around the country where money has been a big factor in small, local seats, I wonder if it's worth consideration.
Anonymous said…
Dw, you'll never "email" me? You already have! And I will share it. Get a clue. There's no privacy though you might wish it. That is independent of this candidate's qualifications.

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