Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday Open Thread

In the lull that is summer, it seems that there is more behind-the-scenes action around the School Board than you might think.  At the end of the week, I'll have a thread about this subject but understand that there are people who are up the food chain who want to either bully or limit the School Board's power.

In good news about teenaged boys, two 15-year olds saw a 5-year old get kidnapped and took off after the car.  They chased the car for 15 minutes before the kidnapper stopped the car and let the little girl go.  Very brave boys.

Q13 news story about the number of Washington state seniors who did not pass the math test to graduate.  I'm one of the speakers in this story.

What's on your mind?


StringCheese said...

Carmela Dellino, Exec. Director for WS, is leaving (heavy sigh). Another void in WS leadership.


She is truly amazing and will be sorely missed. I hope she can find the happiness and success she truly deserves in her new position with the city.

SPS is simply hemorrhaging its most talented and skilled professionals.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks. String Cheese. I saw this in the West Seattle blog. I'll have to create a thread and ask what people think. It does seem like West Seattle has had quite the flood of movement.

mirmac1 said...

Unfortunately, the ineffective Michael Tolley will now run the WS region, pick a new ED and six new principals.

Unknown said...

The link you posted to the Q13 story on math/graduation doesn't work; here is the link.

It's weird that they used so much of your response but they didn't mention your name.

Do you know if anyone has statistics on the demographics of the kids that didn't graduated due to the math exam? Does anyone know if there is a higher proportion of kids who didn't pass who used discovery math vs. traditional math?

Anonymous said...

I taught in Seattle, was considered highly effective (by test scores and other measures), loved the students and the (former) diversity, but decided to leave because I knew I could. After some years in SPS(and probably most urban districts), many people with skills finally get fed up enough and leave.

You realize that SPS is not only dysfunctional and corrupt(with a weak union, to boot), but that you're a pawn of so-called reformers who were too smart
to become a teacher or principal, but enjoy doing research on abstract teachers and students. I used to picture those types during their drive-by visits and what would happen if I suddenly had to leave the classroom for fifteen minutes with them in charge. Fetal position always came to mind. (I'd love to see Liv Finne in an inner city high school for a day as a sub.)

Mr. Banda seems much more human and and focused on what matters than his two predecessors. However, how much longer do you think he'll stay at this rate? Who will blame him when he leaves?

You realize that you really have a lot of options, once you get fed up enough. Then, you get a great job and feel bad for everyone who is stuck there.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I've looked through the 2013-14 SPS budget documents that were posted in the comments last week (on p. 3 of the board action report), and am trying to make sense of them for the school my kids go to (APP @ Lincoln). Everyone should look through these documents, but I've only looked at my school thus far. Can someone help me understand a couple things?

1. In the School Budget Detail Pages, the budget for APP @ Lincoln is apparently on page A.93, but the school is named "Lowell @ Lincoln". There appears to be no uniformity at SPS about the name of our school, and I fear that APP @ Lincoln and Lowell Elementary on Capitol Hill are still tied together financially and otherwise (to the detriment of both - I think this leads to fewer resources allocated, and may still be leading to Lowell getting the Title I money they might otherwise be eligible for. Criminal if still true). Can't seem to find anyone with the answer to this questions.

2. Page 19 of the overview budget document lists the per-student budgets for every school. The per-student budget for "Lowell @ Lincoln" is $4,925, the lowest of all the elementary schools. I know the per-school budget is complicated and there are lots of funding streams that come in to a school depending on the student population. And, I know that some school *has* to be last in per-student spending, but I'm curious if anyone knows why this is the case for our school. I'm concerned that the continuing tie to Lowell Elementary on Capitol Hill is somehow screwing up the budget.


- Budget Reader

Anonymous said...

Enough Already

The SPS district has been a slow burn for the near 15 years I have been a teacher. I used to work FT and left decade ago and came back to find it worse.

Between the people with 3 names.. I love those ones and the other revolving door morons that are there for whatever purpose.. Audra Luntz of Mercer now KIPP comes to mind and a few of her minions she hired and now long gone but she is just one of many who use the district as a can to kick down the road on the way of stepping over it.

I do think the Seattle culture that exists enables it. We have become a very young transitory city with people who have had no interest in establishing roots but to use this place as some sort of experimental lab to do their Pavlov dog work on it. And the powers that be lap that up like dogs when it comes proffered at the end of a check. I count the days to leave this place. God what a mess this district is and will be. Can't rebuild something until its demolished as this is way past remodeling or renovation

-Builder Bob

Anonymous said...

Builder Bob

Sounds like you'd be a good person to have a beer with.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Budget Reader,

APP@Lincoln has some of (if not the)lowest FRL (.5%) and Special Ed (2.4%) percentages in the district. The total budget includes those amounts. I compared APP@Lincoln's budget to Lafayette's because they have similar enrollment numbers. Basic ed allocation per student at APP is $4,688 and at Lafayette it's $4,639.


Charlie Mas said...

Budget Reader, you are correct. The District still officially regards APP @ Lincoln as an annex of Lowell. Those children at Lincoln are, for official purposes, assigned to Lowell.

This does not serve any students and the Board should be confronted with it at the Budget Hearing.

The Board has adopted a Strategic Plan that lists, as the first Core Belief:

We believe it is essential to place the interests of students above all others in every
decision we make.

We need to ask them:
How does the decision to pretend that APP @ Lincoln is part of Lowell serve students' interests?

Charlie Mas said...

The District is playing some kind of game with APP @ Lincoln.

It has its own attendance report. It has its own CSIP. It has its own budget. In all of those ways it appears to be a school. However, it is not a school in the one way that counts: it does not have a school number registered with the OSPI.

This has created some very weird consequences. Try reading the CSIP for Lowell. It doesn't have any data. It's meaningless. Since APP @ Lincoln has a CSIP does that mean it was included as a school in the annual approval of schools? And, if so, does that make it a school?

I directly asked Mr. Banda if APP @ Lincoln was a school and he refused to answer. We stood there together for about 30 seconds as he pretended not to know and pretended that he didn't even know who makes that decision. It was awkward... for him.

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

Here's an article by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post about the "most famous teacher in America: "The world’s most famous teacher blasts school reform." Guess what? He's not fond of TFA, or the obsession with testing. And guess what else? He says the two biggest factors for his kids who live in poverty are nutrition and sleep. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

2013-13 calendar- update

Looks like the 2013-14 school calendar will not be what the district originally assumed- our kids will actually be with their teachers for 3 more days than planned, as Seattle’s request for the 3 full Waiver days for professional development has been denied for a 2nd time by the State Board of Education last week.

From the posted July 10-11th meeting highlights:
“The Board considered requests from 13 school districts for Option One waivers from the basic education requirement of a minimum 180-day school year. Six of the requests are resubmittals of requests presented but not approved at the May meeting, with additional information provided by each district as requested in May…The Board directed staff to provide written notice to Columbia (Walla Walla), Fife, and Seattle districts that their requests were not approved.”

Among the reasons given for the final denial for Seattle- lack of community support or engagement (required by state law). The district did not even release the information to the public (or to the Board, which had to vote approval of the 1st application) that they were changing the original application. The 2nd application stated that all 3 professional development days would be directed by the district, for district initiatives (and not left to the discretion of each building, as before).

Unfortunately, there are no state (or district) laws or rules limiting the number of half and/or partial-day releases, on either a district-wide basis, or individually on a site-based basis. Partial days are in many ways more disruptive than the full-days off. Will see more of these?


Anonymous said...

tk 7/16/13, 10:03 PM

so this means that Fri. 11 October and Fri. 14 Mar will be school days, instead of us adults being subjected to the Great! Idea!! useless meanderings of U.W. - OSPI educrats.

wow, what a bummer... not.

maybe all the unemployed edu-craps could useful jobs in education - ya know, like actually HELPING kids and teachers in classrooms! (whew! did I just blow your mind?! How UN-American is that ?? Managers that aren't just highly paid parasites!!)


Charlie Mas said...

How remarkable that the State Board of Education actually enforced the law and denied the waiver.

Good job, State Board!

Melissa Westbrook said...

TK, I'm going to reprint your info as a thread.

I"m with Charlie; it's big news that the district was told no.

But I'm also with those in not liking the multiple half-day releases.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Enough Already

You are so on for the beer, I will buy the first round while I rail about the equally idiotic union. If the 'reformers' really fear said unions they have never dealt with the incompetence that describes SEA.

When you are ready to move to a "red" state to actually teach you know that it is time to go.

SPS the SEA and all the other ed acronyms are why I embrace alcoholism.

- Builder Bob

Anonymous said...

just got this in my email box...

Join Democrats for Education Reform and The Thomas B. Fordham Institute for the upcoming panel, "Opt-Out or Cop-Out? A Debate on 'New' Accountability Systems."
July 25, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. EDT
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute
1016 16th Street NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
But don't worry, if you're not in DC, you can watch the panel online by registering here!

About the Event:
Growing numbers of parents, educators, and school administrators are calling for a local “opt-out” from state tests and accountability systems.
Is this opt-out a cop-out? Or would students benefit from a system that their own teachers and principals devised? Should all schools be offered an opt-out alternative, one in which they propose to be held accountable to a different set of measures? What about opt-outs for high-achieving schools or schools with good reason to be different? Would such a system move us toward or away from the goals of the Common Core? As for charter schools, must they continue to be tethered to uniform statewide accountability systems? Or should we rekindle the concept of customizing each school's charter and performance expectations?
Join Democrats for Education Reform, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and several leading education reformers and thinkers for a lively discussion of the accountability opt-out—as well as its potential pitfalls.
Panelists include:
Charles Barone, policy director, Democrats for Education Reform
Robin Lake, director, Center for Reinventing Public Education
Michael Petrilli, executive vice president, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Delia Pompa, senior vice president of programs, National Council of La Raza
Nelson Smith, senior advisor, National Association of Charter School Authorizers
To attend or to watch online, register here

-sps mom

Anonymous said...

As a follow-up to my earlier post about the budget document and APP @ Lincoln, I sent my questions to Joe Paperman, who is in charge of budgeting for the District. He was kind enough to send a detailed response:

1. Re: Is APP @ Lincoln still connected in any way to Lowell Elementary (on Capitol Hill):

For item #1 there is no financial link any more. We had a database table we used for putting the documents together and it still had the old name for APP @ Lincoln in it. I’ll make sure we get that changed for the revised version which is coming out on Friday.

2. Re: why APP @ Lincoln has a lower per-student budgeted expenditure than any other elementary school:

For item #2 it is essentially because of the way dollars are pushed out to schools and school size – sort of a perfect storm for APP@Lincoln.

Staffing - Gen Ed teachers are allocated to all elementary schools based on enrollment at each grade. Most schools would show up pretty much the same on that measure but because the contractual class size is larger at higher grades (26 for K-3 and 28 for 4-5) and APP @ Lincoln is weighted towards the higher grades due to the way students enter there is a small effect on the average dollars allocated per student. Other staffing is based on student characteristics but is added on top of the general ed allocations. At elementary one ELL teacher is allocated for every 45 ELL student – APP @ Lincoln has ZERO ELL students and thus has no allocation. This means they automatically have a lower cost per student than any school with ELL students. Special Ed teachers are allocated at a rate of 1 per 18 SM 1 students. APP @ Lincoln has 6 SpEd students and thus they only get a 0.4 FTE resource teacher (rounded up to the closest .2). This ratio puts them by far at the lowest percentage SpEd students in the district thus again lowering their cost versus other schools. Finally the big add for many schools is the self contained SpEd class rooms. So with gen ed ratios the cost per kid for APP is around $3,632 for the teachers ($87,169/27 kids per teacher +12.5% for PCP time). Our cheapest self contained room per student is a 9 student to 1 teacher and 1 IA ratio which gives a cost of around $16,000 per kid (the highest self contained is around $25,000 per kid). Adding a self contained class or two in an elementary thus drives the average way up (check out the Lowell building which has a high ratio of self contained SpEd for example).

Discretionary Dollars – Every elementary school gets the same basic allocation per kid at $93 each so that has no affect. Additional dollars are pushed out at about $212 for every FRL (Free and Reduced Lunch) student. APP has 3, so they get about $600, or $1 per kid on average. The average across the district is around 40% FRL so most schools get about $80 added per kid.

Grant Money – We give schools either Title I or LAP grant money with the Title I going to the schools with the highest needs based on FRL %. Obviously with their low FRL numbers APP is not a Title I school. LAP dollars are allocated out based on the number of FRL students but the rate per student is also a sliding amount base on the FRL %. So with the lowest % FRL in the district they get the lowest rate also multiplied by the lowest number of students (only 3 of them). So the LAP allocation for APP is pretty much non-existent.

So all of the above – the goal is to push money out to school based on student need. The measures of student need are SpEd, ELL and FRL – APP comes in last place on pretty much every measure of need (by a large margin) and thus has a way lower allocation per student.

Lastly there is a scale factor. There are fixed costs (only 1 principal) and as one of the largest schools the cost per student get’s pushed down. The one area where APP would come in higher than other schools is transportation. At the district we record all the transportation costs centrally rather than at the schools so it’s not included in the numbers presented.

- Budget Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

A big thank you to both Budget Reader AND Joe Paperman for asking and answering these questions.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone interestes in discussing Seattle's private school enrollment rates? Why do parents make that choice? Should the district see the higher than average rates here as a failure on their part? And my favorite - what would their response be if the 28% of Seattle students in private schools showed up at their neighborhood schools in September? We never discuss that capacity issue.


Anonymous said...

Both of my kids went to private school for K-8. At the time, I found the Seattle Public Schools and their lottery for a choice school to be too stressful. We stayed with private through middle school because by that time, I had really come to appreciative Waldorf pedagogy and could not find a comparable program in SPS. When my eldest went to high school, we continued with private because of the math program used in SPS. My youngest is now at Hale because while the math program hasn't improved, the public school offered things that were important to my youngest and we could afford to supplement the math program. I have to say that had I to do it now, I would still choose private for K-8. The amount of turmoil in SPS is more than I can take. I also don't like all the testing. I don't like the chaotic cluttered nature of the public elementary schools I have observed (Bryant and Wedgwood).

You probably aren't going to see a return of private school kids or a decrease in the numbers of them because those that can afford it and aren't satisfied with SPS will either choose a private school or move to a different district.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, actually we have discussed this in the past.

My take on the higher-than-average private school rate is that it's a Seattle tradition. Some go for name-brand, some go because it's religious and some aren't happy with SPS.

But that the district is growing (and at a rapid rate) despite those numbers says something. This is NOT a problem other urban districts are having.

I doubt if you'll see any influx that haven't already registered.

Anonymous said...


I don't think we'll see an influx this fall either. Families have to be pretty unhappy to leave their schools. I think we'll see fewer families start at private schools without giving their neighborhood school a try. (Seeing some continuity of leadership within the schools would help - and new math would too.) Kindergarten waiting lists are low to non-existent in West Seattle private schools this year.