Seattle Education News Roundup

KUOW is reporting a sticking point in the SEA and SPS contract negotiations - class size.  Yes, SPS wants to go bigger in the upper grades.

Seattle Education Association President Jonathan Knapp says the district’s latest proposal, made last week, would increase class sizes in Seattle by two students per class in grades four through twelve.
That would create average class sizes of 30 students in fourth and fifth grades, and 32 students in grades six through 12. Class sizes in grades one through three would remain the same.

Knapp says a survey by the National Education Association earlier this year found Washington state has the fourth-largest average class size in the nation.

According to the report, the district is using the capacity management issue as the problem.  I gently point out, who's fault is that?  And, what happens in three years with the next contract?  If I were a teacher I might say okay to this upping of class size for THIS contract with the stipulation that it goes back down in three years.  That's just me.

KUOW is also reporting that thanks to the new money for public education in Washington State, the number of schools with full-day K has doubled.

The new state budget pays for all-day kindergarten in 269 more schools across the state, including eight schools in Seattle.

State law requires that by 2017, all public schools offer free, full-day kindergarten.
The state is rolling it out first to schools with the highest percentage of low-income students.

Meanwhile, over at Crosscut, they have decided to give out "Courage" awards. They have an adjoining article about trying to define courage in today's terms but here is what they came up with:

Crosscut’s editorial team will review nominations and select the winners using a few simple criteria:
  •       innovating despite criticism;
  •       showing uncommon, selfless leadership;
  •       inspiring and instructing others in public service, business and cultural leadership;
  •       following data and best practices even when custom and tradition say otherwise;
  •       taking a risk to successfully break gridlock. 
I nominated a couple of people and are happy to see them on the list.  But what a list.  Among the names (in education):

Shannon Campion, Stand for Children Washington Executive Director

Trish Millines Dziko, Technology Access Foundation Founder & CEO

Jon Greenberg, Center School teacher

Stephanie Jones, Community & Parents for Public Schools Executive Director

Mary Jean Ryan, Community Center for Education Results Founder & Executive Director
Carla Santorno, Tacoma Public Schools Superintendent

The entire list is at their website and is in several categories (they lumped all the activists into Public Service).   They are still taking nominations until Friday, August 9th.

Do you know someone in the Northwest who deserves to be recognized for their courage in public service, culture or business? Crosscut is accepting nominations until August 9th. Please send yours to Please include your nominee's name, organization (if applicable) and a paragraph describing what makes them courageous.

They will be announcing the winners in late October and I believe the Crosscut editorial team will be making the decision.  

Out of the education picks, I would give to Jon Greenberg, Trish Dziko or Stephanie Jones.  


Anonymous said…
Currently, class sizes are supposed to be:

a. On a district-wide average, 26:1 for K-3, 28:1 for 4-5, and 150:1 for 6-12 (for a 5 period day, that's an average of 30 per class).

b. Building class size is supposed to be limited to 28 for K-3, and 32 for 4-5.

c. For grades 6-12, class size is supposed to be limited to 32 for core classes (PE, music, etc, excluded).

My children's classes have been 32+ since 4th grade, so how is the new proposal different?

Anonymous said…
8 more schools getting fully funded all day K, yet no word on tuition decreasing for those who pay. Hmmmm?
mirmac1 said…

That must be how they're funding the "wish list", like language immersion expansion. Or they are printing money.
SPS Parent, the difference is that the past contract allowed teachers to accept the larger numbers for some amount of money. This upping of class size would end that and the class size would have to go even larger for that payment.

I always wished that teachers would just say no and stick to the contract number.

Parents never - for all our campaigning and voting for I-728 - never had a hope of getting smaller class sizes.
Anonymous said…

What are the costs associated with language immersion expansion? I know MacDonald and JSIS PTA's pay for language immersion assistants in their classrooms. Is there something else the district pays for?

Anonymous said…
Groan. They already complain about special needs students in their classrooms. Who can't see the writing on this wall.

Each FL school gets about $10k extra for start-up costs. That's a one-time infusion, I believe.

I think in terms of materials, the PTAs kick in a lot. (I don't know about Beacon Hill and Concord but Stephan Blanford's child is at Beacon Hill, we could ask him.)
mirmac1 said…
I've attended enough district meetings where the "strategizing" for language immersion includes "leveraging" off the needs and funding of genuine ELL students who need to keep pace with standard as they acquire a whole new language. I contrast their needs (and funding) from those who wish this as a nicetie for their children.

Recent board meetings I've attended have demonstrated that the district is good with "redeploying" restricted-use funds for ELL to hire those IA to teach Johnie Spanish. I hear the same at community meetings. That is misapplication of federal funds.
dan dempsey said…
Send those class size figures to the WA Supreme Court and ask about McCleary progress. Really this is NOT significant progress. The idea that it was OK to violate students rights until 2018 was really bizarre.

The court was conveniently miopic when addressing the legislature's 2009 plan to increase funding so that by 2018 everything would be Peachy Keen. At the time of the McCleary ruling the 2009 plan had been in effect for two years and done ZIP. --- so let's all pretend together ...
Anonymous said…
What I find most upsetting is that per the latest All Day K memo from the Superintendent of Public Instruction (dated July 2nd),
"Class-size Funding:
State-funded full-day kindergarten schools with greater than 50 percent of their students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, which includes all of the newly eligible schools, will be funded at a class size of 20.85 students. This smaller class size is possible because of the Legislature’s high-poverty class-size reduction funding." I haven't heard of any plans to actually utilize this new funding to reduce class size in SPS kindergartens- has anybody else? The application to the state was due on July 16th. It appears that if districts are going to use the funds to pay for All Day K, they also have to reduce class size, but I'm not sure who would enforce that?
My child had 29 students in her kindergarten class last year, and most families in the class actually paid for that (with the exception of 3). This is maddening.
dan dempsey said…
Please note that "Student : Teacher" ratio is NOT the same as class size.

According to NEA estimates class size may run as many as 9 or 10 students above that ratio.
Anonymous said…

Can you please clarify your comment re: the misapplication of federal funds to language immersion? I was under the impression Title III funds CAN legitimately be used for this, as Title III doesn't specify a particular educational approach for serving ELL students. There may be room for argument that language immersion is not the most effective way to teach English, but then again, since there's a need to balance this with also making sure ELL students also meet academic standards, some level of instruction in the native language may have other benefits.

In Title III, Section 3301, a language instruction educational program is defined as a program of instruction:
". . . that may make instructional use of both English and the native language to enable the child to develop and attain English proficiency, and may include the participation of English proficient children if such course is designed to enable all participating children to become proficient in English and a second language."

To the extent that ELL students whose native languages are different than what's taught in the school's LI program are participating, that would indeed seem to be inappropriate. I don't imagine there's a whole lot of that going on though, as parents of such kids would likely opt for non-LI programs instead. (Assuming, of course, that the district makes this all clear to families in this type of situation and explains the challenges of learning two new languages at once, which may not be the case. With international schools currently having neighborhood school status, the district may just go ahead and assign everyone there regardless.)


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