Showing posts from June, 2013

Seattle Schools This Week

 To note, it appears there will be no other district/Board meetings after the July 3rd Board meeting until early August. Wednesday, July 3rd   School Board meeting at 4:15 p.m. - Agenda Even during the sleepy summer months, a lot is happening.  At this meeting, the Strategic Plan will be voted on.  The Board will heard a report about FERPA re: Common Core and the student data "cloud." (I will be putting out a white paper on this topic so look for that.)  The Board will vote to extend the Superintendent's contract by one year to June 2016.   (They are not considering a raise until after bargaining agreements are done and the district's budget is set.  I personally would not be for a raise at this point in time.  Apparently, according to the item, there is no public input sought on the issue of a raise or extension of his contract.) Hey and look what is delayed (again)?  It's the Highly Capable Student Program State Grant .  No grant form attached so the

Washington State Budget: A Win for Schools?

The answer to that headline is - not really.  Are they getting more money?  Yes.  Enough money? No.  Can the Supreme Court really do anything?  Doubtful. So really, it's a lot of legislators blowing smoke about education.  (And no legislator should pat themself on the back for finally getting a budget.  That said, I know many districts are relieved to finally have some answers so they can finish their own budgets.) The Times reports that half the money would go to fund "student transportation, school supplies and building utilities" (things districts now pay for that the Supreme Court - go figure - said the state should pay for). The rest would go toward expanding state-funded all-day kindergarten and class-size reduction in kindergarten/1st grade in high-povery schools. This is all great but not enough.  (I believe the class-size reduction is about two students per class.  I don't know if the kindergarten funding means no more pay-for-K.)   Here's The S

Last Words from a Sweet, Decent Young Woman

I'm sure most of you heard about the drive-by shooting in Lake Stevens of Molly Conley,  student at Bishop Blanchet High School.  She was shot to death on her 15th birthday; the police have no suspects in custody at this time. From My Northwest , Linda Thomas reports that the school sent home her report card and in the envelope was a letter she wrote to her class as a last assignment.  Blanchet is a Catholic school so Molly does speak in religious terms.  But what she asks of her classmates (and herself) should ring true for all teens.  Show this to your middle schooler or teen and ask them to consider what she says going forward in their lives.  Hers is over but maybe she can generate some real thought about how students treat each other. I particularly like her last paragraph. Dear Class of 2016, I pray that we can find a way to connect and get along before our last year together. I pray we are different. I pray that we can be a family. I pray that we can make this sch

Advanced Learning Service Delivery Models

The District will appoint a Task Force this fall to answer the question: What service delivery model should we use for Advanced Learning? It's a question that can have only one answer. There can be only one answer because there is a bigger question that takes precedence: Will we deliver service or not? Students and families don't care if they get no service from a small group instruction model or whether they get no service from a "walk to" model. Either way they are getting no service. We can't know what decisions the District will make about the future of advanced learning, but we do know that the actual service will have to be delivered in the schools, not in the JSCEE. We also know that no one in the JSCEE can - or will - guarantee the quality and efficacy of the service. In fact, they cannot even guarantee the existence of that service. They never have guaranteed service delivery and they never will. Do they give any assurance of the quality or effi

Friday Open Thread

It's summer and yet it feels busier than ever. Saturday community meeting with Director Patu at Cafe Vita at 10 am. Concerning story about the use of Roundup and links to autism, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's from Nation of Change. The authors of the new review call for more independent research to validate their findings, stating that “glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and contrary to being essentially nontoxic, it may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.” From Director Carr on the subject of the Management Letter from the SAO: Please be clear that the Board doesn’t respond to the SAO – our management team does. The SAO doesn’t require to response to management letters, only to findings. The management team is required to develop corrective action to the Board as we track all levels in A&F (findings, exit items, management letters) though they are provided some flow time to develop that plan (so we don’

Human Resources at SPS: Going Up or Down?

There are sometimes days doing this watchdog work that are defeating, sad and frustrating.  Today is one those.  I'll get to the issue at hand but a few thoughts first. I've said this before - I do truly believe we have some good and decent people working in SPS.  There are several up the food chain who are almost great but, like many a bureaucracy, have those whose work either drags them down or mires them in place. I've also said this before - anyone who works in leadership at SPS who does not read and heed the words in the Moss-Adams report of 2002 is doomed to failure.  Or, at least doomed to frustration. The echo in my head from that brilliant report (and I paraphrase here) -   It does not matter what structural or systemic change you bring to an institution, if the culture of bureaucracy at an institution does not change, nothing changes. This has been, and continues to be, the problem with our district. You really need someone at the top who comes in

Final Board Evaluation Meeting

The Board met briefly last night to finalize the language for the narrative summary of the Board evaluation. It was a Kumbaya moment. For a minute there I thought they might actually all join together in song as they declared a "fresh start". They pledged to put the past behind them and go forward in a spirit of trust. I'm not kidding - they went around the table and each pledged. I'm okay with putting the past behind and facing forward, but let's not pretend that fresh starts and accountability are not in direct opposition. You can't preach accountability and then write off past bad actions with a flippant Hakuna Matata. Seriously, if I were a Board Director and I knew that there was going to be this sort of general amnesty on past transgressions I would have taken the opportunity to do something really nasty and divisive - like give a newspaper interview and call a board colleague untrustworthy. I think it's a bit ironic that they re-pledge themselve

What is the procedure for principal appointments?

There have been and will be a number of new principal appointments made for the coming school year. In some cases the school communities have been allowed to offer input on the selection of their principal. In some cases the school community has formed a hiring committee and interviewed candidates. In other cases, however, schools have been assigned a principal with little or no community input or engagement.

Are you freakin' kidding me? 12% of students in APP?!

Per Rachel Cassidy, the District demographer, 12% of Seattle Public School students in grades 6 to 8 living in the McClure, Whitman, Hamilton, and Eckstein attendance areas are enrolled in middle school APP. You read that right. 12% of north-end middle school students are in APP. How can this be possible? The program is intended for students in the top 2% nationally for cognitive ability and in the top 5% nationally for reading and math achievement. Sure there will be some local variations from 2%, but to be a full ten percentage points above the national mean seems a bit... much.

Growth Boundaries Presentation and Trust

On June 1st, at the Board Retreat, there was a lot of talk about trust. Here's one statement from that event that I recall clearly: "You cannot talk yourself out of a trust issue that you acted yourself into." Everyone at the retreat - Board directors and senior staff - pledged themselves to building trust. That was just a few weeks ago. Then, yesterday, we get a presentation from the senior staff, Board Work Session - Equitable Access, Growth Boundaries & Capacity Management , which is rife with dishonesty and deception.

Boundaries and Capacity Management Work Session

This Work Session had a larger-than-normal audience which is a good thing because now there are other witnesses to what was discussed.   Charlie and I both went and came armed with ideas for the Board to consider.  (He outdid me, of course, with his sheet with 23(!) questions.  He checked them off as they went along.  At least five of them got asked but not necessarily answered.)  I gave them a sheet with comments copped from Charlie's previous thread.  And, with apologies to all other programs, somehow Advanced Learning/Highly Capable got the lion's share of discussion. Michael Tolley started the session, outlining the higher level thinking.  However, the presentation, on slide 3, says that one goal of the process is to " include access to services and programs as a key component in boundary revisions."   To which Charlie wrote in the margin "except Montessori."  And, he's right.  Montessori is in neighborhood schools but is an optional program.

Doing the George Costanza in China

So China is now deciding that for public education, the idea that testing is best, is now going out the window.  From The Answer Sheet at the Washington Post: China just began a major education reform effort that is aimed at reducing the importance of standardized testing in determining school quality and including factors such as student engagement, boredom, anxiety, and happiness.  As scholar Yong Zhao notes in the following post, the approach is the opposite of the education reform path in the United States, which in recent years has increased the importance of test scores for accountability purposes. We all know that China was never famous for individual thought or creativity.  But even they seem to realize to create a better educated populace, that testing will not do it.  They realize that using only test scores to send students to higher level schools is a bad idea.  From the Chinese Ministry of Education: “However, due to internal and external factors, the tende

Tuesday Open Thread

Update:   I have learned that the W-P design team discussed 4 options for W-P and overwhelmingly went with the one with the buildings at opposite ends of the property.  However, I am getting early warning that #4 might not make tonight's discussion.  Those of you going, keep an eye out for this and if there aren't 4 of them, ask why not. End of update. Presentation for tonight's Work Session on Growth Boundaries and Capacity Management (it also says Equitable Access in the title but since the equitable access framework is not in place, I don't get why that's there). I like slide 9: Expect recommendations to change during the process. •Authentic community engagement leads to ongoing input from multiple sources, including new ideas and different ways of thinking about issues. •Some of the Guiding Principles express conflicting values. The relative priority of Guiding Principles may vary depending on the issue. •Technical and feasibility issues may also res

Seattle Schools Knows How to Spend Money but Not Make Money

At least that's what you might think if read the recent State Auditor findings   on the district's handling of rentals for district facilities.  It is hard not to be frustrated over the district not tracking ALL the money AND probably losing money from the joint use agreement with city parks.  (In a couple of places it even smacks of some kind of insider help for some groups.) From the audit: Background: The Building Rentals Office (rentals office) is responsible for collecting the required insurance and concussion management compliance documentation, issuing permits for facilities usage and invoicing outside organizations that are required to pay. The rentals office is also responsible for training school-level employees how to use the online system and inform them of the District’s requirements to submit all ―school related‖ events through the system, as well as refer outside organizations’ facilities usage requests to the rentals office. In addition, the rentals off

Seattle Schools This Week

Even though school is out there are several important meetings this week. Tuesday, June 25th Work Session on Growth Boundaries , 4:30-6:30 pm, no presentation yet available. This is the Work Session that Tracy Libros referenced in her remarks to the Board at the School Board meeting last Wednesday.  She mentioned that Lucy Morello of BEX would also be presenting in conjunction with capacity management. Community Meeting about the Wilson-Pacific projects , 7:30 pm at W-P Wednesday, June 26th Work Session on Strategic Partnerships and Communications , 4-5:30 pm  (I have no idea of how anyone thinks there could be any real discussion of any of these departments in this amount of time.  It's just ridiculous unless, of course, the idea is to NOT have discussion.) - Government Relations presentation - Office of Public Affairs and Communications presentation . - School and Community Partnerships Department presentation .  Oddly, this one includes the new - - - Office of Strat

Have You Been to a Mayoral Forum Yet?

Or are you waiting to see how it all shakes out after the primary on August 6th?  On the one hand, the one person I did not want to be mayor - from a public education standpoint - was Tim Burgess.  He made it much easier because he walked away.  (But he made it clear he hoped for a new mayor in the fall.)  I am continuing to talk with all the candidates and it makes for some interesting discussions.  What I plan to do is offer tidbits of those conversations and make some suggestions for candidates I think would be good for public education.  There won't be any endorsement per se of one candidate.  There are several mayoral forums coming up this next week: Sunday, June 23rd , the South Lake Union Mayoral Forum at  2 pm at the Immanuel Lutheran Church at Pontinus and Thomas (moderated by C.R. Douglas - I'm a big fan of his).  Wednesday, June 26th , the City Neighborhood Council Forum from 6-8 pm at City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room More Information -Submit Ca

From the Seattle Council PTSA

Thank you to Lauren McGuire, her Board and all those who serve on PTA Boards.  It's a busy and sometimes tough job so thank you for your time and efforts.  Lauren is a kind, calm and dedicated person (and is also a good sport). Her letter to members:  Dear Seattle PTA and PTSA Members,   Summer is here!   I hope you all find time to spend with your kids and enjoy some recreational time.  Before I sign off as Seattle Council PTSA President, I'd like to thank the current SCPTSA Board for their dedication.   Ann Weber -- Vice President and Acting NW Area Director Dianne Casper -- Treasurer Andrea Bown -- Secretary Linnea Fichter -- Legislative Chair Daphne Dejanikus and Leanne Hawkins -- Enrichment and Reflections Co-Chairs Sebrena Burr and Carlina Brown-Banks -- SE Area Directors Monica Mace -- Northeast Area Director Katherine Schomer -- Central Area Director Leda Goncharoff -- Interim eNews Editor Sharon Rodgers -- Seattle Council PTSA's Serv

Start Time Petition

There are lots and lots of great reasons for Seattle Public Schools to swap around the start times for school so that elementary school starts earlier and middle and high school starts later. A group called Start School Later Seattle has is looking for a resounding show of support for moving secondary schools to a later start time. They have created a petition. You can express your support for the effort by signing the petition at :

Good Stuff for Kids this Weekend

Honk! Fest West.   HONK! Fest West is a free, three-day, community-supported music festival devoted to marching bands, drum corps, samba lines, and anything acoustic and mobile that makes a ruckus. We revel in celebration of street band culture by taking mirth and music to the streets and parks of Seattle. Always family-friendly, always free :: fanciful costumery and audience participation are * highly * encouraged! HONK! Fest West 2013, Seattle’s free festival celebrating street band culture with fanfare performances , will be taking the streets and parks by horn, drum, and HONK!er on  June 21st, 22nd, and 23rd . Fremont Fair and the Solstice Parade (parade is Sat at 3 pm but there is also a dog parade for all on Sunday ) Fremont, Fri. 6/21 to Sun. 6/23, FREE Note: most know this by now but if not, the Parade DOES feature naked (but painted) people on bikes.  One of my favorites (and starting Monday) is the Trader Joe's Silent Movie Mondays at The Paramount.

When to Talk to Kids about (Gulp!) Porn

Seattle's Child has a worthwhile article on this topic.  You can say, "Well, I haven't even talked about sex, no less porn."  My reaction is that we are growing up in a very different time than when we grew up vis a vis the access to these kinds of media.  There is a good chance that if your child has access to a computer, they may accidentally (or on purpose) view porn.  (Did you know that is a porn site?  Yeah, your child is doing research, puts in the wrong letters and there you are.)

Seattle Juneteenth Mayoral Forum and talk of Seattle Schools

From the Times : The candidates who were there had some tough talk for Seattle Public Schools. State Sen. Ed Murray said if he were mayor, he would forge a new partnership with the school district to increase the graduation rate. “The school district has to change,” he said, vowing to make improvements in the graduation rate and how money is targeted — or, he said, “Please yell at me and vote me out of office.”   Usually, the school district blames the state Legislature for district problems, so it was interesting to hear that. Ed Murray is my senator and yes, I am a bit surprised to hear him say this.  He hasn't said a lot about Seattle schools in any pre-mayor bid venue.  His advocacy has been limited (and appreciated) to the Legislature.  Without specifics, this isn't much (and I'm still waiting to interview him so we'll see). Also, note to the Times, the district does not blame the Legislature for all its problems; just the funding ones.  Mayor Mi

Friday Open Thread

One important note from the Board meeting - parent Mary Griffin spoke out about the issues around student data information, the inBloom student data "cloud" and FERPA and HIPPA (for students with disabilities).  She let the Board know that neither of those would protect student data if the district signed an agreement with a third-party allowing access to student information.  Director Sherry Carr, during her director comments, said she wanted clarity on this issue and asked for feedback from the district's legal counsel.  (I wrote to her and asked about when she wanted this and she said she wasn't sure she had a confirming vote from another director for this information.  She said she would check with legal counsel, Ron English.) I have been working with a couple of parents on this issue and I urge you to encourage the Board to seek this information.  Please write to them - - and add your voice to this concern and ask for clari

Work out of sequence will create problems

The attendance area boundary work is scheduled out and will end in a motion before the Board introduced in October and approved in November. There is also work scheduled out for discussion and decision about the re-vision of Advanced Learning and Special Education. The timetable for that work should have it finish up some time around January of 2014. There is no current timetable set for the Equitable Access Framework. It was supposed to be done by April, but it has hardly been started. This represents work getting done out of sequence.

Seattle Superintendent Performance Evaluation

Here's Superintendent Banda's Performance Evaluation .  You will see that this is based on a "supermajority" of the Board (I would assume that to be 5 people) with a minority assessment coming at the end of the evaluation.  From the evaluation: These evaluation criteria focus on five areas: Hire, Develop and Strengthen Leaders: Teacher/Principal and Central Staff evaluations; Hire quality leadership to fill vacant positions; professional development Raising expectations and improving academic performance and opportunities of all students: narrow achievement gaps, growth for English Language Learners; implementation of Common Core State Standards; Building relationships with selected stakeholders to connect them to our schools:  Family engagement, Labor Partners and community based organizations. Governance Team Priorities and Areas of Continuing Emphasis:  Develop a plan for BEX IV and EP&O levies; a framework and process for collective bargaining; bring

Seattle Schools Growth Boundaries Project

 I would bookmark this SSCF page as it has a lot of boundary dates/meetings noted. Thanks to reader Kim for alerting me to this page .  Tracy Libros told the Board about this last night.  She updated the Board on this work including: - Growth Boundaries website - Work Session on this work next Tuesday the 25th from 4:30-6:30 pm.* - They are developing FAQs for this work - the Walk the Boundaries project is being worked on with help from parent volunteers (good for you, Tracy, for reaching out to willing parents) - They have a consultant working on Seattle housing changes to assist with projections. - Email comments to: .    (Please put your school or topic in the subject line.) * There is also a Community Meeting on the Wilson-Pacific BEX IV projects that night at the Wilson-Pacific Seamat Center, 1330 N. 90th St. from 7:30-8:30 p.m. (it will go later if there are enough community questions).   District's Timeline for Community E

Charter Commission Meeting Update

I checked the agenda for tomorrow's Charter Commission meeting and it is truncated because they will be doing interviews for Executive Director in the morning.  So there will be nothing of import for the public to see until 12:50 pm when there will be Public Comment.  They will then discuss rulemaking and planning, reviewing the proposal for work by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Chairman report, Staff report, and Conflict of interest subcommittee report.  This all ends around 3:30 p.m. when they go into Executive Session again for another interview.  After that (about an hour), it's a wrap-up of the day and review of assignments and July's agenda.  They adjourn at 5 pm. Reminder, this time it's at this location in Seattle: Seattle University, Loyola 203 901 12th Ave

Harsh Words at Seattle Weekly about the Board

What does Adele say in her soundtrack song, Skyfall?  "This is the end.  Hold your breath and count to ten."  I guess so for Director Michael DeBell who lets loose in a damning article against the entire School Board (and I think he forgets - he's a member of that august body).   Any thought about a Board working together over the next six months seems out the door.  Good work, Director DeBell and I point out here, he has just violated the Board's own policy in saying this: Over coffee last week, DeBell calls Smith-Blum “not very trustworthy” --a comment that drove the board president, upon hearing it, to send out an angry e-mail to DeBell, other board members and the superintendent demanding a retraction.  This because of this: After she was elected president in 4-3 vote, Smith-Blum gave the old guard members one committee assignment each while giving those who voted for her three. It was a move she said was meant to allow the senior members of the b

Inquiring Minds Want to Know (and see if the Board Does Its Oversight Job)

Update Two: I attended the Board meeting.  I pointed out that the Advanced Learning grant application was not attached to the agenda but no problem says the Board as they roll along.  Ms. Heath comes forward to explain there was an "error" in thinking that the AL Taskforce has anything to do with it.  It was the "advisory committee."  I'm thinking it was the APP Advisory Committee as that's the only one that currently exists. This is fine because the grant only covers APP. I just don't want anyone thinking that anything has been done on Spectrum or ALOs. What is interesting - ALERT - is that Director Carr, after listening to the public testimony where a parent said the survey done during the AL Taskforce work could be useful, stated that she thought it might be useful going forward.  (The parent pointed out the high rate of approval for APP - at about 90% - and Spectrum (about 73%) and ALOs (about 65%). So write her and encourage this thinking.

Bullying...with Food Allergies

Hard to believe, sad to believe but apparently this is happening.  From the NY Times (bold mine): Any difference can set schoolchildren apart from their peers and potentially make them a target for bullying. But a severe food allergy is a unique vulnerability: It takes only one lunch or cupcake birthday party for other children to know which classmates cannot eat nuts, eggs, milk or even a trace of wheat. It can take longer for them to grasp how frightening it is to live with a life-threatening allergy. Surprisingly, classmates may prey on this vulnerability, plotting to switch a child’s lunch to see if she gets sick, for example, or spitting milk at a child’s face and causing a swift anaphylactic reaction. In a recent survey of 251 sets of parents and children with food allergies, published in Pediatrics in January, roughly a third of the children reported being bullied for their allergies. Parents knew about the threatening behavior only half the time. Food Alle

Washington State Charter News Comes With Questions

Over the Washington State Charter Schools Association, they announced the " members of the inaugural Washington State Charter Leader Cohort."   What's striking to me? 1) "... over two dozen applicants in a national search. "  Two dozen over the entire country?  That's all?  Boy, I would have thought they would have droves.  After all, this is what they get: Cohort members will receive coaching on writing a charter school application and board member recruitment. They will also receive a planning stipend during 2013-14, and a variety of support services, including travel to visit high-performing public charter schools, and office space. 2) Here's what they say about the selection process: Representatives from parent, university, school district, and charter communities participated in the selection process. It would be interesting to know what school districts but I certainly hope it wasn't anyone from Seattle School District. 3) Gue

The Board Evaluation

The evaluation was requested by the Board itself.  It was done by the Mercer Island Group and they apparently did interviews with the Board and Cabinet (with an additional online survey of the Board) but it is unclear to me what questions they asked or if they just used an attribute list for the respondents to vote on and then, asked for their comments.  (Also, Appendix Four isn't quite clear as to who made the statements in this section.) (The cabinet consists of Jose Banda, Bob Boesche, Ron English, Michael Tolley, Duggan Harman, Pegi McEvoy and Paul Apostle.  I have to wonder what the Board might have said about how the Cabinet works but that was not part of this evaluation.) I'll let you read the whole thing and be the judge.  But here are some thoughts (followed by what was said at the meeting): - my biggest surprise was not the comments but the ratings the Board gave itself.   They were pretty low.  I have to wonder if it is really about morale or maybe about a few

Washington State Superintendent Says No to Half-Days/Waivers

State Superintendent Randy Dorn throws down on half-days/waivers for school districts, according to a report from KING-5 tv. Washington State’s school superintendent says he opposes the expansion of half-days on school calendars and wants lawmakers to act next year to give his office the authority to curb them. “Just because the adults have the problem of not having enough money does not mean we should take away kids' instructional time,” Randy Dorn told KING 5. “So they moved to this partial-day thing,” said Dorn. “I think it’s a burden on parents, working parents that have to do all the arrangements.” “I don’t like the idea of waivers. I don’t like the idea of half-days for professional development,” said Dorn. “Especially the kids that struggle the most, it hurts them the most if we’re not in the classroom teaching.” “The lack of adequate time for professional development, collaboration and planning is just one of the problems caused by underfunding,” WEA sp

Tuesday Open Thread

 Update: Just wanted to say thanks to our readers.   There has been quite an uptick in hits to the blog and we appreciate the numbers and the input/comments. Hearing about a phone survey about School Board candidates.  Anyone received a phone call?  If so, let us know what you were asked and if you were told who was sponsoring it.  (Gotta say, it's quite early for this kind of thing and for School Board races?  Someone out there must be quite serious about who gets on the Board to spend that kind of money before the primary.) What's on your mind?

Spectrum Thread

This was requested as finally some Spectrum parents are understanding that Spectrum is very much on the chopping block.  Who knows?  As we speak Shauna Heath and Michael Tolley may have already done away with it (it seems they will be creating whatever Advanced Learning will be).  If the district had allowed the Advanced Learning Taskforce to continue its work, we might have gotten to Spectrum and ALOs.  But maybe that was the point of NOT continuing on. It may be too late and trying to organize and get any attention in the summer is a big lift.  But I would do it if I cared about Spectrum (no matter what its form at your school). 

Washington State Charter Commission-Mtg #3

I am obviously way behind on this thread as the next Charter Commission meeting is this week.  It was held at the Technology Access Foundation headquarters in White Center.  Very nice building and great staff.  One of the Charter Commission members, Trish Millines Dziko, runs TAF and its programs.  Chair Steve Sundquist, in his chairman remarks, stated that the Commission had sent a letter to the Board of Education.  The Commission would like to influence the BOE on the issues of timelines and fee schedules.  It appears they did get what they wanted.  One, there will be a requirement of a letter of intent to apply for a charter .  This is great because it gives everyone a heads up to who is coming and where they intend to apply (either through the Charter Commission or a school district).  Two, t he timeline for extending the deadline for decision-making has been moved to Feb. 24th.   The BOE rejected their ideas on the fee schedule. Sundquist also pointed out there was now

Seattle Schools Announces Community Meetings for New Buildings

From SPS Communications: Seattle Public Schools will host two community meetings to present information on projects funded by the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy. The levy was passed by voters in February 2013. • Wilson-Pacific Elementary and Middle School projects These projects are to construct a new elementary school building and a new middle school building on the Wilson-Pacific site, both scheduled to open in the 2017-18 school year. The meeting will be presented by representatives of Seattle Public Schools capital projects team and Mahlum Architects. The meeting will include information about the projects’ early design progress. 7:30–8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, 2013 Wilson-Pacific Seamat Center 1330 N. 90th St. • New Thornton Creek Building project This project is to construct a new elementary school building, scheduled to open in the 2016-17 school year. The meeting will be presented by representatives of Seattle Public Schools capital projects team an

This Might Be One Way to Keep Kids in School

There's a long interview - with questions by readers -  in The Guardian with Ed Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower.  It's good and I agree with the Stranger with this quote being the best (bold mine):'s important to bear in mind I'm being called a traitor by men like former Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a man who gave us the warrantless wiretapping scheme as a kind of atrocity warm-up on the way to deceitfully engineering a conflict that has killed over 4,400 and maimed nearly 32,000 Americans, as well as leaving over 100,000 Iraqis dead. Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, Feinstein, and King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school.

Info on Charter School Start-up Resources

Just so no one can say I'm not a good sport. From the Washington State Charter Schools Association website : The Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement has announced their 2013 grant process for planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools.  There will be two webinars explaining the application process for the start-up funds: One on Monday, June 17 at 12pm PST (3pm EST) to 1:30 pm PST (4:30 EST) One on Thursday, June 20 at 8am PST (11am EST) to 9:30am PST (12:30pm EST) To sign up for the webinars, please RSVP to . Applications for the grant funds are due on July 12, 2013. This is a great opportunity to learn about potential start-up funds and the federal grant process. For more information on the grant application and program, please visit the following links: Department of Education announcement Federal Register announcement I know some here have been wondering about trying to open a

Sweet, sweet irony

A few days ago I wrote about the Board's role and how they are failing to do their job. Today, the Seattle Times writes the same. Funny thing, though, the Times and I have exactly the opposite ideas about what the Board should be doing. The Times apparently wants the Board to do nothing but promptly approve everything that Mr. Banda puts in front of them. That's what Directors Chow, Maier, and Sundquist did, and what Directors Martin-Morris, Carr, and DeBell do. The Times wants a rubber-stamp Board - as if that isn't dysfunctional.

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, June 18th Audit and Finance Ctm meeting (quarterly audit mtg) from 4-6 p.m.  Agenda . Includes: - exit conference from State Auditor on accountability - internal audits include Kimball Elementary, custodial services/grounds, and Denny - risk management - ethics update Wednesday, June 19th School Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda . Includes: - academic calendar for 2013-2014.  There appear to be two Options, A and B (the difference being PD waiver days in A and not in B.) They want the Board to approve both as the BOE doesn't meet to discuss the district's request for PD waiver days until July 12th.  The other difference is 2 days of TRI but different dates for A and B.  There appear to be two snow days at the end of the year in June and one they could use for the Day between Semesters.  And yes, there continues to be a full-week of mid-winter break.  It's unclear to me if this is a final from SEA.   - the NWEA contract (MAP) for about $470k

Board Retreat and Strategic Planning

Following up on Charlie's thread to the new (waiting for Board approval) five-year Strategic Plan , here's what I heard from the Board retreat where the Board and senior staff discussed it.  For some reason, only the goals are at the communications page on this issue but there are links to the v ision/mission/core beliefs from the Intro item on the Board agenda page.  To note: that Saturday, June 1st, saw a packed room of staff (most of whom stayed from 10 am to 2 p.m. - a big commitment of time) and Board members. Everyone came prepared to work and was in good spirits.  There was a feeling of a shared unity to this work.  Once again the Alliance person sat at the table with Board and staff.  One funny aside is that I downloaded the agenda from the district's website.  It had only the district logo but when you got to the meeting, the agenda had both the district's and the Alliance's.  Just in case anyone thought the Alliance was just a helper at the retreats -

Strategic Plan

The revised Strategic Plan for Seattle Public Schools is scheduled for introduction at the Board meeting on June 19 and for a vote at the Board meeting on July 3. You can read it here .

The Board's Role

I went to Director Martin-Morris's community meeting on Saturday morning and the conversation was really good. It was good, in large part, because we stayed focused on things that Director Martin-Morris could do - we kept the conversation within the boundaries of the Board's role. We didn't ask him and his Board colleagues to make decisions that have been delegated to the superintendent or direct the superintendent in what decisions to make or to overrule decisions that the superintendent had made. But we did ask him to assure that the superintendent's decisions were compliant with policy (and law) and to assure that the superintendent's actions were aligned with the District's stated values. This is the Board's job, and, frankly, they haven't been doing it. We got started down this path early when I used the word "transparency" and he asked me what I mean by that. These words get tossed around all the time, but they are never defined. We are

Parents, You've Got the Power

Great idea as we go into the summer vacation season from Jack FM Vancouver.

Is College Becoming Out-of-Reach?

An article in the Huffington Post about college costs caught my eye. Over the past three decades, the inflation-adjusted income of the median American family has basically remained stagnant. The same can’t be said of college costs, which have simultaneously surged to almost unrecognizable heights , according to a new report by the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Costs at private nonprofit four-year colleges have increased by more than 150 percent since 1982, but the real trouble is at four-year public schools, where inflation-adjusted costs have experienced a startling 250 percent jump. Yikes.

Center School Award from the City (and what McGinn Had to say)

At the Slog , they covered the mayor's award that The Center School received from the City's Human Services Coalition for student support of the race and social class at Center.  What is interesting to me is that Mayor McGinn stood very clearly on the side of the students and didn't mince words (bold theirs). Because it’s the mayor's award, it was given by Mayor McGinn himself and accompanied by a signed mayoral proclamation, which said that "Seattle is battling inequality in our schools" and "we need to have more discussion in our schools about race, not less." It concluded: "I applaud the Center School Community for their dedication and perseverance, and I agree with them that the Social Justice Curriculum should continue at The Center School ." One more big statement: A student said to the room: " We ask everyone in support of keeping this curriculum at Center School to come stand with us. " And the banquet tables em

Farewell to Pinehurst K-8?

Superintendent Banda has sent a letter to Pinehurst families about their school that leaves things pretty up in the air but on a downward trend.  He tells the families that they had been considering moving Pinehurst to Broadview-Thomson K-8 but that it will NOT happen.  Pinehurst will stay where it is for one more year and they will have "discussions over the summer about the school's future beyond the 2013-2014 school year." District, just pull the band aid off.  It might be kinder.

Want a "Teacherpreneur" Making Education Policy?

At the Times, Lynne Varner continues her string of unintentionally funny editorial pieces .   She starts out right: If we’re going to talk about money, let’s talk about the future of teaching because nearly 80 percent of education spending goes toward salaries. Okay, BUT when 22% of American children (and that's about the same here in Washington State) live in poverty and you ignore that fact, then you are missing a HUGE piece of the puzzle. As well, most of the money may go to salaries but the Legislature is not funding schools enough to provide funds for other needs.  Your biggest and most primary need is always going to be a teacher. She then says: A recent Seattle Times front-page story pointed to a rapprochement between teachers and ed reformers at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Imagine if the two sides had been working together all along. Well, I 'm sure the teachers (and their unions) would have been more than happy to work with Gates but he