Tuesday Open Thread

The Great Gatsby Original Cover Design
Kind of an interesting story from Indie Reader to tell your art-inspired kids - the story of the first cover of The Great Gatsby and the ones that came after. 

Remember kindergarten?  I do and it wasn't like this (from Boston.com).

Yet there is a growing disconnect between what the research says is best for children -- a classroom free of pressure -- and what’s actually going on in schools.

Take the example of a girl who was barely 5 when she entered Gerzon’s classroom. She didn’t know her ABCs, but one day in class she made up a song and taught it to the other children. But because of new requirements, “I had to send a letter to her parents saying that [she] is not proficient,” says Gerzon. “You tell me that [she] is not proficient in language skills!” The Concord resident, who usually exudes a gentle presence, bristles. “It’s destructive, even abusive. That’s a pretty strong word, but what do you call it when you take a group of children and you force them to do something that they are not developmentally ready to do? What do you call that? It’s abusive.”

 Important reading from The Washington Post's The Answer Sheet by Brian Langley - A Primer on Five Basic Education Facts you should know.

Lesson #1:  Americans think the nation’s public schools are troubled, just not the public schools their kids attend. Lesson #2:  The U.S. has never led the world on international exams. Lesson #3:  We are not a country of average students. Lesson #4:  Teachers are the most important school-related factor, though out-of-school factors matter more. Lesson #5:  Nothing in education is simple.

But do read the long version because it's worth it.

For Lesson #1, a survey of Americans about public schools.

For respondents  with children in public schools,   77% gave an A or B grade to their child’s public school.  77%!

Gallup has been asking this same series of questions for years and has consistently demonstrated  a  perception  gap.  What  this perception  gap  represents  is anyone’s  guess. Perhaps  people  are  biased  in  favor  of  their local schools.  Perhaps parents simply have low expectations.  Perhaps parents value other aspects of their local school over standardized test scores and similar data often reported.   Perhaps parents see low standardized test scores as more reflective of the child than the school. Perhaps while Americans have seen the test scores and understand problems exist, three out of four parents are pleased, even impressed with the experience provided by their public schools.  Most likely the data reflects a mixture of these options plus more.

We know that the perception of the nation’s public schools as a whole undoubtedly involves information gathered from outside sources: news reports, documentaries, political discourse, etc.  The parental perception of local schools, on the other hand, relies heavily on personal experience.  This data therefore delivers an encouraging correlation:  The stronger one’s relationship with the public school, the more favorable one’s opinion.  

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Yes, I remember kindergarten. I remember the nasty old lady teacher who made anyone who got out of line sleep under her desk during nap time where she would kick them. I remember knowing how to read going in but having to play games all day instead. I remember my sister coming home in tears because she had colored outside the lines and got her paper torn up. Fun times.

I also remember my youngest going into K knowing how to read and being given ability-level books, even though we were in a "bad" south Seattle school. I remember the teacher helping one child learn her ABC's while pushing my own kid to do more than she already knew. I remember her talking gently to the boy with the rough home life who came to school every few weeks with a new bruise. I remember her talking to parents of many backgrounds and native languages with respect, offering them ways to help their children.

I think I'll take today's K over what I suffered through.

Regular Reader
RR, I didn't have a good kindergarten experience either. But this article was not about teachers but about expectations.

With those expectations, time becomes shorter for teachers to have those interactions you mention.
Just a rant here, but I just watched a couple of media talking heads discussing the School Board races.

How is it:
- they don't know how to pronounce Director Smith-Blum's last name? It's Blum (like plum) not Bloom (and the reporter who did this should know better).
- they don't know how to pronounce Superintendent Banda's last name. It's not "Band-a" (like hat band), it's "Ban-da".
- the reporter got the length of time one of the SB candidates had lived in Seattle wrong.
Anonymous said…
From the article Melissa posted:

the United States is one of only a handful of OECD nations that spends more educational dollars on its privileged population than on its underprivileged population. []
“Unless you are comfortably middle class or richer,” he explained, “you get an education that is truly second-rate by any standards.” []

We know teachers are the most important school-related factor in a student’s success. That is clear. Less clear is why our school-related reforms are not focused squarely on attracting the highest quality teacher candidates.

mirmac1 said…
Road Map Project 2 - Develop a Regional Data Portal & Data Sharing Agreements

Project Goals/Desired Outcomes: The purpose of this project is to transfer student data easily between districts and in a common format, to provide educators with information to support personalization of instruction, and to make information available to parents, students and community-based organizations supporting students academically.

Narrative: This project invests in the creation of a data system for all seven districts to coordinate the collection of student data (demographics, academic, health, social and family history), facilitate the flow of that data from district to district as students move, and present that data in a meaningful form to students, parents, educators and other stakeholders. This portal will assist with more personalized learning because student data will be available in a clear and common way. Families and community based organizations will have specific portals that allow access to specific student data to assist in supporting students toward graduation as well as college and career goals.
mirmac1 said…
Here is the first Request For Proposal for districts participating in the Road Map Project.
Project 1

According to the RMP Scope of Work for Project 1, district's will be expected to use $7 in existing funding for every $1 in RTTT money ($28.4M to $4M RTT funds). Plus we have to pay administrators to jump through hoops to compete for the opportunity to "redeploy" our already tight funds.
Jon said…
I went past Madrona K-8 today and was wondering if anyone has heard about whether anything is going to change with it? It's way under capacity (only 213 students) with dismal test scores (well under 50%) that are declining (5th grade reading pass rates dropped from 44% to 34%). Especially in this time of badly needing more capacity, are there any plans to do something at Madrona K-8?
Anonymous said…
From the Seattle Council PTA e-bulletin:

Seattle Public Schools Takes a Cut of Proceeds

Starting in the Fall 2013, Seattle Public Schools will take a 10% cut, up to $1000, for the use of school grounds if the fundraising activity takes place during school hours (read: Walk-A-Thons, etc). (We're trying to think of it as a "use fee" for the space).

Please contactpresident@seattlecouncilptsa.org if you have further questions.

Questions this raises for me:

1) Will PTAs get a complete list of fundraisers that will fall under this policy?
2) 10% cut, up to $1000 per fundraiser or annually?
3) Who will be collecting these funds?
4) Will the funds go to the school or to the SPS general budget?
5) When will SPS release a policy paper on this so PTAs can review the guidelines?

I feel like this is just another SPS money grab ... similar to Pay 4 K. SPS is now taking a cut of money that PTAs raise for the schools ... unbelievable!

N by NW
Jon, yes, Madrona, like some other schools of the past, is certainly flying under the radar and needs closer examination. Haven't heard a thing.
Anonymous said…
What is the status of the district's correction actions to comply with OSPI on special education? Comply or lose $11mil.

OSPI rejected the district's proposed corrective actions, submitted June 30th.

The issues are not just about paperwork as one of the central office admins is putting out. One of the advocacy organizations has pulled together a good analysis of the OSPI findings. Is that available online. It shows how the OSPI findings are far from mere paperwork minutia.


mirmac1 said…
The district has, to date, resisted disclosure of the SpEd Corrective Action Plan, submitted to OSPI in June. This is public information and must be released.

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