Showing posts from November, 2013

The Third Rail in Education; Parents

Now we come to that third rail of education - parents.  I have said this a lot in person but naturally, it's a dangerous subject.  Just like the first rule of Fight Club is not talking about Fight Club, the first rule of parenting is you don't criticize others' parenting.  Everyone has their own ideas about what is "good" parenting.  What might really help the education conversation - is for districts to express to parents what would help teachers/schools to do a better job.  This is NOT telling parents "here's what a 'good' parent does" but "here's what would help your teacher/district."   (I know that there are documents out there but I'm not sure there has been a widespread effort to help parents - especially immigrant parents who may come from a different kind of educational system - understand what teachers/districts would find helpful.) I will note that maybe there should be a letter from the PTA to the school/d

Friday Open Thread

Wow.  Listen to this less-than-3 minute video of noted teacher evaluation expert, Charlotte Danielson , talk about teacher evaluation.  My favorite line?  "You can't fire your way to Finland."   Should be required viewing for every school district administrator.   Next favorite line? "What can count as evidence and how can that be attributed to an individual teacher?"   She also says, at the end, "No one on the planet has figured out how to do that."   Boom! Shout out to the Chief Sealth Marching Band who appeared in yesterday's Macy's Holiday Parade.  Good job, kids! In bad news , apparently, in some parts of the country you can get arrested for picking your kids up at school...on foot. (And yes, I am going to address the Times' editorial column on parents and schools but that'll be a separate thread.) To note, there are no Director Community meetings tomorrow.   What's on your mind?

Everyone has a Gift to Share

Here's a video from Night of Too Many Stars (back in October) where we meet Jodi DiPiazza, an 11 year-old with autism.  She and Katy Perry sing "Firework." Jodi's father said: Her father explained: "We were afraid she would never speak. Never dreaming she would sing, or even be able to understand. I've taken off the idea that there is some limit on her, as she continually proves that that's not true."  As Jon Stewart, the host of the event said: "People with Autism shouldn't be written off. They deserve, like everyone, the chance to reach their potential," he said. "Let's take a look at what happens when someone actually gets that chance." Let's give thanks for all those gifts. 

Gates Foundation Going All In to Support Charters in Washington State

From the Gates Foundation website: LEV Foundation Date: October 2013 Purpose: to build capacity for a state-wide public charter school support organization in Washington State Amount: $4,200,000 Term: 24 Topic: College-Ready Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA Program: United States Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington So let's review. Lisa Macfarlane co-founded the League of Education Voters.  She now works as the Washington State Director of DFER (Democrats for Education Reform).   (Their advisory committee membership is telling:  Chris Eide, Dan Grimm, Erin Kahn, Robin Lake, Steve Sundquist and Megan Wyatt.  It's kind of funny how these people all serve on each others' boards.) Chris Korsmo is CEO of LEV but also a Board member of the Washington State Charter Schools Association.  Mary Beth Lambert who is the press person for LEV is also the press person for the Washington State Charter Schools Assn.  LEV

Washington State Charter Commission Has 22 Charter Applications

 Update:   I think some of my confusion over who's in and who's out is that some of the letters of intent were filed under the non-profit name and then the actual charter school name was used for the application title. Figuring this out, I learned (via a California activist) that the Coral Academy of Science is a Gulen-affiliated charter school.  Gulen is the largest charter operator in the country with 140 in 26 different states.  The schools deny that they are part of the Gulen movement and yet the evidence is that they are.  Here's a good site to explain the issue.  There have been huge issues over these schools in Hawaii, Utah, Georgia, Ohio, Arizona and Texas (which wants them out of the state). The FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education are investigating them.  They hire mostly Turkish teachers, saying there are not enough American teachers available.  From the NY Times .   A lengthy article from City Journal about the history of Gulen.  Learning abou

Tuesday Open Thread

News that President Smith-Blum fell on her way to a restaurant and broke her arm.  We wish her a speedy recovery. From The Guardian , kids of today can't run as fast as their parents. On average, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their counterparts did 30 years ago. Heart-related fitness has declined 5% each decade since 1975, for children aged 9 – 17. If you have a girl, you might want to watch this video of a young woman who gives voice to body image issues.  If you like powerful storytelling, it's also a must-listen.   It appears to be a performance competition/show and the crowd is with her as she gets deeper into her story. Want something for the kids to do while you're preparing that Thanksgiving meal?  More DIY Star Wars Snowflake Templates.   What's on your mind?

Education News Roundup

Locally (and thanks to reader Carolyn), news from Real Change newspaper about getting food to needy students for the weekends.  While the kids of John Hay Elementary School play outside, LaRock carries bags of food into classrooms and surreptitiously slips them into the backpacks of 15 kids at the 500-student school on Queen Anne Hill. Each bag contains cans of soup, crackers, tuna, granola bars and fresh fruit. There’s enough food to get a student through the next two days: two breakfasts, two lunches, three dinners and snacks.  Administrators slip the food into backpacks when students are outside of the classroom to avoid stigmatizing the students receiving the help. So anti-hunger nonprofits decided to stop relying on parents to get the food from the food bank and instead bring it directly to the kids to take home.  The Queen Anne Helpline and the West Seattle Food Bank launched their programs in November at a handful of neighborhood schools, and hope to expand them

Advanced Learning Taskforce

Work is continuing of the first of two Advanced Learning Taskforces.  I have only been able to attend one meeting (on November 5th) but it was a good one.  The oversight and facilitation of this Taskforce is quite different from the last one and for the better. Here's a link to the AL webpage ; details of the meeting schedule,minutes and PowerPoint presentations are available at the bottom of the page. The facilitator, Barbara Grant, is great.  She keeps people on task, keeps a careful eye on the clock and provokes expanded thinking.  Interim director Stephen Martin organizes the meetings and the agenda but wisely keeps out of her way. It was noted that in late January, there is some kind of gifted institute at Whitworth University (by Spokane) about ongoing issues in identifying gifted students that several members of the group were to attend. The meeting I attended had two good presentations.  One was by Dr. Roger Daniels who works in the AL office on a historical perspe

I-1240 Litigation

I attended the first hearing on the constitutionality of I-1240, the Washington State Charter School law. To be clear, this hearing was pretty meaningless. No matter who wins or loses, this case will appealed all the way to the State Supreme Court. None of the decisions in any of the lower courts will matter. Only the one decision from the State Supreme Court will decide this.

Finding the Gifts of the '76 Schimitz Park Elementary Students

My husband and I have been doing these various stairwalks around Seattle (we've done 14 so far, all over the region).  Great exercise (you'll find stairs you never knew existed), wonderful neighborhoods and, of course, the beauty that is Seattle. On today's walk around Alki Beach and environs, we went into the Schmitz Park Reserve, a bucolic and muddy, area.  I found this sign and it made me smile and wonder what happened to all those bi-centennial Schmitz Park kids. 

Gates Versus Duncan - Who's the Bigger Ed Reform Problem? (and their Competition)

Or, what does the fox say?  Bill Gates June 13th, 2012 A relatively tiny donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has created quite a stir over the past several days. News broke that Clemson U. had late last year obtained a nearly half million dollar grant from the foundation to conduct a pilot study with Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) bracelets, wireless sensors that track physiological reactions, in schools. The idea supposedly was that children would wear these biometric bracelets in classrooms to measure their engagement. What made this grant even more polarizing was the notion that the bracelets were in fact tools that would evaluate teachers’ effectiveness. So what are these bracelets for? According to the foundation, they are intended to “help students and teachers gain a better understanding of how and when students are most engaged in the classroom.”  Here's what the writer at Forbes had to say (and beware of wealthy people who will experi

Weekend Updates

From Tracy Libros in Enrollment about Growth Plan map confusion : There are two maps that show two different things. In the future (by 2020) map, the area you are talking about is included in the Schmitz Park attendance area. However, the map for implementation for next year (2014-15) does not include that area since it is not being implemented next year. Hope this clarifies! President Obama is to be here Sunday for a couple of fundraisers (no public events announced).  From KING-5: The official time frame for Obama’s visit has not been released, but drivers should be prepared for delays on major highways including Interstate 5 for the presidential motorcade. The Seattle Monorail tweeted that the monorail will be shut down between 8 p.m. Sunday and 8:30 a.m. Monday due to security. Also, a free hot chocolate for your child when you buy an espresso with this c oupon from Starbucks.  Always nice to get a freebie. Fun video of what little girls REALL

Friday Open Thread

Today will see the long-awaited hearing on the Washington State charter school law.  Charlie or I hope to make the hearing and will let you know what is said/outcomes. What a long week it has been.  President Smith-Blum told the audience last night that she planned to sleep in today (and that was at the beginning of the meeting).  I plan to take some time off next week myself.  Thanksgiving IS a good time to reflect, resolve and be grateful.  And mostly, to enjoy your family.   What's on your mind?  

Ballard Science Class Looking for Help

Eric Muh's science class at Ballard High has signed up at Donors Choose  for some financial help. We are a large urban comprehensive high school. Teachers have a variety of students from English language learners to special education students with a variety of individual needs to Advanced Placement students. We'd use the laminator for all these classes. You may recall that Donors Choose is a great organization that allows teachers to ask for help - big and small - for their classes. If there are other SPS teachers/schools asking for help, please let us know and we'll add them.

Seattle Schools Approved Growth Boundaries Plan

That was fast (good job, SPS staff).  Here is the district's overview of the approved Growth Boundaries plan.  I don't think it answers all the questions you have but it is a good overview. From SPS Communications:

FYI - per Jane Addams Middle School

FYI, a  JAMS parent reports this: For any of you now interested in participating in a conversation about the design/programming of JAMS, there is a blog for that purpose at:

Bad Priorites -> Bad Process -> Bad Results

I have never asked the school district to do anything that they didn't promise to do. The fact that I have to ask them to do things so often is a testament to how rarely they do what they promise they will do. We hear - all the time - about how there is a division of authority with the Board focusing exclusively on policy and governance work while the administration and management decisions are delegated to the superintendent. If that were true, then the school assignment decisions should never have been subjected to a Board vote. Drawing attendance area boundaries is clearly an administrative or management decision - not a policy decision - and should have been delegated to the superintendent. Policy 3130 is nearly all that the Board should have to say about student assignment. One mistake leads to others. Putting it before the Board for a vote made it a political decision. The more political the decision, the less it is based on data and reason, the more it is influence

Seattle Schools Growth Boundaries; Faces from the Fight


Growth Boundaries Plan and Amendment 12 Vote

Amendment #12 - McLaren and Peaslee - Growth Boundaries will be reviewed annually (with a lot of input and data) PASSES Patu - includes where it has to come to Board? Yes. Carr - feels redundant - I know what you are doing but I feel like Tracy &Co are doing this already. Peaslee - not directing staff but acknowledging concerns of public. Discussion around this. Vote - 4-3 Back to main motion for Growth Boundaries with all of amendments in place.  PASSES Vote 7-0 Poke me with a fork - I am done for tonight and will review the tape for the rest of the meeting.

Growth Boundaries - Amendments 11

Amendment #11 - Smith-Blum - target feeder patterns for Central District Carr - how is this different from what is currently proposed? Libros - entirely different feeder pattern Smith-Blum - John Muir, Leschi and Kimble Libros - right.  The thing to understand is that if lines or patterns look like they don't make sense, I understand that but it was made based on the numbers.  If Kimble stays in Mercer, Mercer will be overcapacity.  If some don't go to Meany, it will be underenrolled and Washington will be overenrolled. Smith-Blum - 8 elementaries to Meany Middle Schools and my point is the unpredictable growth in Central- north.  We are going to have, what I believe and community analysis, we are going to have huge growth.  Stevens went from 48% -74% birth-K capture rate.   Carr - I get that but trying to map that to middle school in 2017. DeBell - We have been working six months with staff's data and it's great that we have community analysis and data but ther

Growth Boundaries - Amendments 8-10

Amendment #8 - Patu - no changes to District 7 boundaries and to reassess the boundaries - PASSES

Growth Boundaries - Amendment 4-7

Amendment#4 - DeBell/Martin-Morris - Middle Schools/APP - PASSES Peaslee  - ?  on North end analysis  Libros - identifies feeder patterns, see initial numbers of how many APP students expected over next few years and feeder patterns.  Long discussion at Work Session of this issue. Start JAMS and then W-P program, and potential changes to APP but have flexible capacity w/o changing structure.  If okay at JAMS, then they could phase out at Hamilton.  Can expand and contract without changing the entire patterns.   Peaslee - This is for alternate #2? Libros - Yes Peaslee - what would be impact of grandfathering Hamilton APP? Libros - no one liked 6th grade roll-up even if a lot of them.  Moved to geo-split model and that's what we built this around. Peaslee - What is impact of grandfathering at Hamilton? Libros - Eckstein and Hamilton would both have severe capacity problems.  Hamilton cannot have portables and Hamilton is struggling this year.  JAMS would then be under

Growth Boundaries Part One - Amendments 1-3

Flip Herndon was up first to talk about Growth Boundaries.  Pretty much we've heard before; changes may come with each year.  Staff tried to keep up with changes and can give impact/analysis on some of the amendments ("as much as we can" - which seems fair). DeBell - recommend to Chair that things will change if amendments pass.   So they will move through the amendments first. Amendment #1 - Carr - Maple Leaf issues. PASSES Carr said they worked with Libros' team on boundaries to address these concerns.   Peaslee - concern on the change in line between Sacajawea and Olympic View.  An area with crossing two major arterials and up a hill to Sacajawea. Carr - would have done it if possible but not able to do now.   Probably eligible for transportation.  I'm uncomfortable making an 11th hour decision.  Want to leave intact. Peaslee - in walk zone or eligible for bus?   DeBell - I think amendment and process behind it is quintessential Director C

Pinehurst: Final Notes - Pinehurst Saved

Director Patu came out like a lioness, saying that the district tends to start programs and then, if they drag, stop supporting them.  She also said that no, she did not believe these kids could be served elsewhere. Peaslee said the commitment is there.  They will take anything to continue on as a program (AS #1) and Indian Heritage, like WS, has been tossed around.  Both know it will take work. Carr - So I would like to respond to Director Patu's comment about not working to help grow the school.  We've had this conversation before when I was on the CAICEE committee and that was back in the '90s.  She believes staff HAS tried.  I've tried to listen to both groups and both are showing a willingness to work hard and I'm willing to take a chance on it.  But I will be watching it closely. Smith-Blum - if there's a pathway forward, I know staff can help find it. Vote  Martin-Morris and DeBell - no Rest - yes Pinehurst is saved (to live another day).   So

Pinehurst Part Two

Peaslee is really fighting back with data on Pinehurst and its relationship to the Strategic Plan.  Pinehurst has been recognized by many organizations as a great school for students with different learning styles.  The support is there, she says, for Native American program and Pinehurst to join together and work well together.

Pinehurst Agenda Item Discussion/Vote

Finally, onto a biggie. Ron English - Spokesman for a team of staff.  Needed to have community meeting at Thornton Creek and that happened.  TC doesn't want to be a K-8 program and want to preserve integrity of program.  Second issue in last two weeks about finances and whether estimates of per student costs were too high.  Joe Paperman looked at that.  When estimate was prepared several months ago, it was 125 students and now it's 150 students.  That's his explanation of why it is lower. Third issue is instructional and revised BAR outlines this.  Each Option school is unique with culture, values, academic approach, etc.  Two Option schools in same building under same administration, you won't get two schools but some hybrid.  So programs really need separate administrations to preserve a program (so says Ron English). Suggestion of merged with APP at Lincoln.  The BLT team for APP voiced the same kinds of concerns as TC in an e-mail to Michael Tolley today.  &qu

Board Meeting - Part Six

Director Peaslee is saying "we must honor our commitments."  To honor programs and serve our most underserved students (Native American, Special Ed and gasp! APP) is her message. Director DeBell is speaking.  "Eight years is a long time."  A long goodbye and he called out his policy work as being very important and how consistent policy matters.  He also said that he worries about the turnover at JSCEE (he said he was sorry to say that but was very worried about it). President Smith-Blum thanked (without reference) the SPD for their work.  Mentioned her amendments to the Growth Boundaries and working with colleagues in the wee hours of the morning (she said she would not miss that).  She got a little misty-eyed when thanking colleagues and staff. So we are now about an hour and a half behind and they will likely take a break here and then come back and attack the Action Items.

United We Stand

A show of FORCE from the Native American, Pinehurst and World School communities.  Boy, the troops were really rallied and it was great to see such determination from these groups. There is a big NO to any kind of taskforce for either WS or Indian Heritage.  I think the message is out that an SPS taskforce means very little with so many with so little follow-up and follow-thru.  I think "we won't get fooled again" is the takeaway from these groups. The majority of the public testimony was around these three items.  Pinehurst and Indian Heritage seem in total agreement on joining together and excited for the opportunities for each group.  It was a beautiful thing to see.

Board Meeting - Part Five

Now Peaslee wants to move one of her amendments but now backs off that. Now nearly 45 minutes behind.  Onto Consent Agenda and Martin-Morris wants to move item #4 (Legislative agenda) off of it.  Got that done. Now voting on Legislative Agenda.  Martin-Morris says as he read document that there isn't anything strong in it and it is a bit unclear in the state versus the national level.  (I honestly didn't know the district was working a lot on the national agenda but that's clearly his focus.)  DeBell concurs with M-M and add that it's a major opportunity for our district/state to commit to pre-school for all and feels it should be in there.  (This couldn't have been tweaked sooner?  Hard to believe.) Peaslee says Joe Paperman reported where our budget is related to cuts over last five years.  Referenced letter from Rep. Pollet and that our funding is where it was in 2008 and that should be added to Legislative Agenda. McLaren asked why it couldn't be del

Board Meeting - Part Four

Erin Bennett is now speaking about DeBell and Smith-Blum and their service.  DeBell was president no less than three times during his eight years of service.  She reeled off the entire number of Board meetings that he has been at (a lot). Pegi McEvoy is now speaking about Smith-Blum.  (Funny aside, some new people came in and when  I showed them where we were on the agenda, they were horrified.)  She said meetings with Smith-Blum were never "boring or routine" and called her "fun."  She talked about her commitment to capital projects and her district and talked of Smith-Blum's "green" focus. Onward.  Motion to change the order of couple of items on agenda.  Move Intermediate to Growth Boundaries position.  (They switch places.) DeBell asked why and Smith-Blum thinks it makes more sense.  DeBell is pushing back on this switch.  (I note we are now 25 minutes behind.)

Board Meeting - Part Three

Onto the Superintendent's comments.   Wayne Barnett, Director of Ethics Commission with report on Ethics.  In middle of three-year program for Ethics program for SPS.  Training and advice and investigation.  On-line ethics training happened this summer.  Like to receive more requests for advice.  Done more investigation than advice.  130 complaints to date, whistle-blower mostly.  I'll get his report and get all the details.  Program is working well with some growing pains.

Blogging from the Board Meeting - Part Two

Native American parents and leaders speaking about Indian Heritage month.   Native American students are still at the top for drop-outs and Special Ed placements (proportional to their numbers).  One speaker said that we  must - "Put our minds together to seek a future for our children."  Another speaker is now talking about the late Native American leader, Robert Eaglestaff, who led the Indian Heritage program. A student-led Native American student forum was held in August, for ages 9-18.  They want a clean, maintained building with technology and social justice focus and leadership development.  (Doesn't sound like a lot.) Sarah Sense-Wilson, a well-regarded Native American leader, said that for that vision, they need the district's cooperation.  There have been meetings but nothing has come from them.  No meaningful pathway.  Assimilation policies are not working.  She referenced DeBell saying that their program failed and she believes it was lack of cooperatio

Live Blogging From Board Meeting-Part 1

Since Blogger doesn't work well on my iPad, I'll just do multiple posts.  It's now 3:54 p.m.  There are about 25 people outside the JSCEE to rally for the Indian Heritage program.  There is a petition to make Wilson-Pacific School a Seattle landmark (I'll see if it's on-line). There are already tv crews here.  (Thank you to everyone who volunteered to be interviewed.  Very helpful.) The auditorium is full of children from MLK, Jr. school who are going to be singing for the Board and assembled audience.  It's a nice thing to see so many beautiful faces ready to sing out.  (Note; they are taking up a lot of seats but they will be leaving after their performance so many seats will open up.  It does not appear that there is any extra seating so it is likely some people will be standing.) I see Martin O'Callahan, the principal of the World School, along with many supporters. It's a sober (and very nice looking - everyone is dressed up) Board that is t

And Now for Something Completely Different

Tired of all this growth boundaries talk?  Let's have a laugh. First up, hey, looks like the old Monty Python gang is getting together and putting a show on.  Please let them come to Seattle.  From the NY Times ; A certain Norwegian Blue parrot is still dead, nearly 44 years after it shuffled off its mortal coil and joined the choir invisible in a famous television comedy sketch. But there is life yet in Monty Python, the singularly influential British troupe, whose surviving members are to announce this week that they will join together for their first live performances in more than a decade.  Parents who want to give their children a little magic - funny and wonderful.   Wish I had thought of this when my kids were little. Childhood is fleeting so let's make sure it's fun while it lasts.   And someone with a sense of humor visits Starbucks and everyone else plays along.

Looking for Input on Growth Boundaries

I have a couple of reporters looking for parents affected by the growth boundaries.  If you want to speak out publicly, let me know at sss.westbrook@gmail ASAP.  Leave a phone number if possible. To note (in case it got missed), the Native American SPS parent community is having a rally at 3:30 pm before the meeting.  Wear red in support.  If you are already going, please come and support these parents and students and their community.  If you ARE going to the meeting, I urge you to get there early as it will likely be packed.   I'm hoping they will have screens in the lobby for those who cannot get in to watch.  I checked and the notation on the agenda under "Business Action Items - Motion to Amend the Agenda" is just there to quickly pull off all the amendments that the Directors are withdrawing, in order to save time later.   The Public Testimony list is full with 25 people.  I urge that if you see someone else speaking on your topic to give your space to som

State Education News

I attended the 43rd Dems meeting last night; it's my district.  As you may be aware, the election of Ed Murray as mayor means he leaves the State Legislature as senator.  So his post needs to be filled and, so far, the only person to step forward is the one of the 43rd's representatives, Jamie Pedersen .  (The other is Frank Chopp, the Speaker of the House.)  Senator Murray is to resign on December 31st and the seat must be filled within 60 days of that date. Naturally, that means Pedersen's seat will be open and there are - so far - three candidates vying for the appointed position.  (It seems a complicated process who gets the appointment.  It was explained that the PCOs for the 43rd will vote, their rank order votes for all three are then sent to the King County Council who will make the final decision. Pedersen and Chopp spoke to the crowd about coming legislative issues.  Their overriding message was that the Dems need to regain control of the Senate in order to

Seattle Growth Boundaries: Here's the Best Assessment So Far

So the SCPTSA may want the Board to vote first for the Intermediate Plan and then vote down the Growth Boundaries but that may not work.  (It's possible if they adjusted the Intermediate Plan.) Here's the thing:  It feels like the Board and the staff could have cut up the Growth Boundaries plan, section by section, thrown the pieces in the air and picked 10 off the ground.  I honestly worry that somewhere in there is something that many will have overlooked and/or will not like.  I want to have faith but when the SCPTSA says the process wasn't good, it wasn't good.  When Kellie, Meg and others who really see the weeds AND the big picture and are worried, it isn't good.  When a program gets moved around before its review is finished, it's not good (that would be AL). When a school gets changed from a neighborhood school to an Option school without a single meeting of the school community, it's not good (that would be Dearborn Park). When parents cannot un

Yes to the Seattle Council PTSA's Suggestion on the Board Agenda

This just came across my desk and, at this point, I agree.  The agenda is a mess (not to mention the Growth Boundaries plan.  There's now even some mystery motion to change the agenda (with no explanation of what).

Seattle Police Clear Mann Building

UPDATE :  I checked in with the district as the Times had confusing information about whether ACEI has a lease for the Columbia Annex.  The district has confirmed that there is no signed lease right now.  They are negotiating for ACEI to provide direct services to students and must meet certain criteria for reduced lease rates. End of update. This just in from the Central District News: Seattle Police say they have made arrests and are searching the building as groups occupying the Horace Mann school are being cleared from the Seattle Public Schools property on E Cherry near 23rd. SPD says that three  four adult males were arrested as police continue to search the building after entering the barricaded facility Tuesday afternoon. CDN is reported that the police began the raid around 1 p.m.  The police had been planning a careful raid, making sure there were no children at the site.  They report only four ment in the building, all were arrested.  The arson and bomb squad w

Where Were You That Day?

There is quite a lot of talk leading up to Friday, November 22, 2013 as the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Many news outlets are asking, "What do you remember of that day?" and I realized that most of the readers of this blog were likely not even born then.  I can tell what I remember as a very small child.  I was with my mother in the town general mercantile store.  (I know, it sounds very old-timey but we lived in a company town and they owned a large store that housed a combo Macy's with a supermarket.)  It had a large open floor plan and you could look up and see shoppers on the second floor.  It was a beehive of activity and sounded that way all the time. It was odd that I was with my mother - she worked full-time as a nurse - but I was.  (I was not in school as I was a kindergarten drop-out.  Mom sent me to a Catholic school and a nun hit me on the hand with a ruler and I refused to go back.  Mom didn't argue the point as she ne

Tuesday Open Thread

 From the Central District News , a trailer was released for a film, One Square Mile, that was shot throughout Seattle including Garfield High School .   Many recognizable sights and yay! Garfield.  I learned that there is a subtropical storm brewing over the Central Atlantic about 600 miles off Bermuda.  Melissa is showing signs of developing a tighter core of convection (thunderstorms) close to its center, signaling that it may be trying to become a fully tropical storm. However, an approaching cold front over the western Atlantic should catch up to Melissa by Thursday, heralding its inevitable transition to a post-tropical low. Melissa is no direct threat to land, but its large wind field is generating large swells that will affect Bermuda, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, parts of the Bahamas and the northern Lesser Antilles over the next few days. So really, a lot of hot air.  Hmmm. What's on your mind?

And the Hits Keep Coming for Enrollment

Update:  I just went in to correct the link to the new document (see paragraph below) and found that the Board Agenda looks like a crazy quilt.   I'm not sure what I have seen or not seen.  I would say - with no hesitation - that at the end of the voting on the Growth Plan and the Intermediate Capacity Management Plan that will not be one single person in the room who could really tell you what will happen.  I'm sure that there are staff and parents who know certain parts well but the whole thing?  It will unfold as it will.  The district has just unleashed (and yes, that's the word I'm using) a new document    for pathways for the North/NE. I'm trying desperately to keep up so did I miss this?  Two days before the Growth Boundaries and Intermediate Capacity Plan is NOT the time to hand this out.  Who can really digest what this means? They say this on the last page about "program placement": Board Policy F21.00 delegates to the Superintende

Board Meeting Ramps Up

First, there will be a meeting - called by the Superintendent - for discussion around renovating T.T. Minor to be the new home for World School .  The meeting is tomorrow night, Monday the 18th, at JSCEE at 5:30 pm. I'm not sure what form the discussion will take.  The issue is two-fold.  One, World School has been consistently ignored by the district and the Board (or takes a backseat to almost every other program, take your pick).  At one point, their BEX III money had disappeared.  When it reappeared, it was less than had been allotted with no explanation. But the concern is that T.T. Minor may not end being their permanent home.  Data indicates that the Central Area growth will need that space.  At the Work Session last week, it was suggested if that happens, the district would be able to add a wing to Bailey-Gatzert.  This may be true but for two issues. One, B-G is not in the same place as T.T. Minor - it seems like this would add more transportation costs.  Two, where

In Remembrance

We note the passing of two wonderful writers - one who wrote for children and one who wrote for adults. Barbara Parks, the author of the series, Junie B. Jones, passed away Friday at age 66. Doris Lessing, a literary giant who won the Nobel Prize for writing in 2007, also passed away today.  She was 94.

Common Core: Arne Duncan's Foot in the Mouth Problem

Update : from The Blaze a story about a very smart and brave high school senior who testified to his school board about Common Core.  He says: “ If everything I learn in high school is a measurable objective, I have not learned anything,” Young proclaimed. “I’d like to repeat that. If everything I learn in high school is a measurable objective, I have not learned anything.” Government bureaucrats will never be able to measure “creativity, appreciation, inquisitiveness” but they are the “purpose of education,” he lectured. “Somewhere our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves — pleading, screaming and trying to say to us that we teach to free minds. We teach to inspire. We teach to equip, the careers will come naturally.” From Ed Week's Anthony Cody - Common Core Standards: Ten Colossal Errors . As for Arne Duncan, here's what he is doing in service of Common Core.  Understand that there is tremendous pushback across the country and getting louder.  Hence hi

Seattle Schools This Week

It's a fairly light week but given the seriousness of the Board meeting on Wednesday, perhaps better that way. Wednesday, November 20 School Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda As I previously mentioned, this will be a long (and hard-fought) meeting to slog through.  I can't say for certain, one way or another, if the speaker list will run long again.  On the subject of the Growth Boundaries , I would say that, for the Directors, it is likely all over but the shouting.  However, there are other items - like the Special Ed Corrective Plan - that many parents will want to speak out on.  So even if the public testimony list is 20 people, I suspect there will be questions on the Special Ed issue and Pinehurst (both of which are right before the Growth Boundaries).  I don't think the Board will get to the Growth Boundaries before 6:30 p.m. What will happen is that the motion will be made to accept the Growth Boundaries.  From what I recall from previous issu

Seattle Times Education Lab Blog check-in

The Seattle Times started Education Lab on October 24. Education Lab is supposed to be a public conversation about what works in education. I've just made a quick review of the most recent Education Lab stories, the ones on the front page. About half of them have no comments at all. Nearly all of the others have only one comment. Public participation on this blog appears low. Surely they must be concerned that Education Lab isn't achieving its ambition to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest. Surely the sponsors are also concerned. Surely the Seattle Times, the Education Lab team, and the sponsors are monitoring public participation as a measure of success? On the other hand, the project is less than a month old. This may not be enough of a sample to form the basis for a judgement. Maybe it's just too early to say. On the other hand, the participation was much, much higher when the project was new. It appears that the initi

Seattle Schools School Board Meeting- November 20th

Here is the updated agenda for the Board meeting on Wednesday.   To sign up to speak, you must call (252-0040) or e-mail ( at 8 am on Monday morning. To note: - changes were made to the Pinehurst Action Item .  Kudos to parent John Chapman who crunched the numbers and made the query to staff about comparing the costs per student at Pinehurst versus other K-8s.  It went from about $3,000 more per student down to $1350 more per student.  (And again, Pinehurst's underenrollment - some of which can be related to the district's multiple attempts to close it or ignore it during enrollment - is driving that per student cost up.) New recommendation includes possibly moving Pinehurst to Thornton Creek or JA K-8. - revisions to the Growth Boundaries Action Item.   I have not read through these changes thoroughly so I'll ask readers to let us know what they are (and possible implications).  Somehow there are 15 amendments on the docket which s

Pottergate: Done and a Lesson Learned

The Seattle Times is reporting the following: - Silas Potter was sentenced to 3 years, 7 months in jail.   He could get credit for the eight and a half months time that he has already spent in jail. - One accomplice, David Johnson, was convicted in early November of 30 counts and will sentenced in early Jan. - Potter and Johnson "are jointly responsible for restitution of $168, 275." - The other accomplice, Lorrie Kay Sorensen, was sentenced to 60 days of home detention with electronic monitoring.   She must pay $83k in restitution. The most basic lesson is accountability. There was failure from the top down.  Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, the superintendent at the time, is the least responsible but she should have realized that Mr. Potter's direct supervisor, Fred Stephens, was distracted by the murder of his son and the subsequent trial.   Additionally, employees within JSCEE either feared or avoided Potter; that was a well-known situation and yet no one at the top seemed

Honor Roll? Should We Care?

A Florida mom was really upset when she received notice from her son's middle school when he was named to the school's honor roll. Why? Because he received a C and a D and she didn't believe he deserved it.  From Gawker: "The bottom line is there is nothing honorable about making a D," the Pasco County, Florida mom told a local news station . "I was not happy, because how can I get my child to study for a test when he thinks he's done enough." In addition to the D, Douglas also got three A's and a C, giving him a GPA of 3.16 — more than enough to be counted among the school's best and brightest. But thanks to his mom, the Pasco County schools superintendent has announced that the honor roll policy will be changed to allow only students with all A's or A's and B's to be considered for inclusion. "It makes my job at home so difficult," Tillack said of the current policy. What does your school do

Teens, Sex and High School Health Centers

Seattle Public Schools, via our generous voters and the City's Families and Education Levy, funds a health center in every comprehensive high school in the district (and I believe one there are four at middle schools).  Correction (I had not reviewed my notes thoroughly but the following is correct):  In Washington State, minors can consent to reproductive health services at any age without parental consent.  In addition, youth ages 13 and over can consent to their own mental health treatment.  Parental consent is needed for other health services.  (And the sheet sent home is that consent form.) There is not an M.D. on site but there are nurses.  And what a lot of services: routine/sports physicals, immunizations, vision/hearing screenings, dental referrals,mental health counseling, and wellness counseling.  They are hoping to offer dental services at some locations.  (Note; there is a special notification for immunization services.)  Folks, this is a great gift that voters

Sacajawea Meeting with Director Carr

I did not attend this meeting last night.  If you did, could you please fill us in?

Friday Open Thread

Hogwarts (if it were graded under an A to F school grading law).  Thanks to reader Tammy. Looks like Director DeBell is already looking for a new gig - he's applying to be a PCO for the 43rd district (where apparently he lives now).  It may be a prelude for the appointment to fill the representative seat being vacated by Jamie Pedersen in the 43rd (Pedersen is filling Ed Murray's senate seat).  By coincidence, I live in the 43rd. Hey, look who The Stranger thinks is one of the smartest people in Seattle politics. Silas Potter will be sentenced today for his crimes against Seattle Public Schools after pleading guilty to 36 counts of theft in April.   What's on your mind? Meg Diaz, Kellie LaRue and Charlie - all in the same place, all smiling.

Fall Family Symposium - November 23

From Seattle Public Schools, Public Affairs: Seattle Public Schools is committed to preparing all of our students to graduate ready for college, careers and life. The goal of the Family Symposium is to support our families as critical partners in their students' academic success. At this symposium, families and community partners will learn how to support student academic achievement at home and in the community. Please join us! Saturday, Nov. 23 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Garfield HIgh School 400 - 23rd Ave. Seattle, WA 98122 Directions & Map Supervised child activities for ages 4 and up Light breakfast and lunch will be provided Community Resource Fair Learn how to support your child with: Math, Science, Reading/Writing, Early Learning, Community Arts, Understanding School and Student Data, College and Career Readiness, and much more. More Information: Family Symposium Flyer

Growth Boundaries Work Session Part Two

I am going to attempt to slog through all my notes but I expect Charlie, Kellie and Meg to chime in here as we were all sitting at the back taking notes.  (And, I had to take a phone call during part of the APP middle school discussion.)  Staff has done an incredible job in creating the various plans.  No one can truly know how long it must have taken and the tedious but important job of determining walk zones, ripple effects (if this, then that) and all the other issues they had to take into account. So why so messy and why so much confusion? My view (not shared by Kellie) is that the main flaw WAS the public engagement.  Kellie believes the problem was never truly expressed so the answers were always to be confusing and flawed.  I believe that I think I know what staff problem staff was trying to solve but that they never engaged their stakeholders correctly in the first place and so, never had real buy-in AND created mistrust. The old set-up for these meetings - presentation

Live Blogging from Growth Boundaries

As Blogger is quite wonky on my iPad, not a lot here. One thing is clear - there will be no delay.  They are going through the 21 amendments and no one is saying, hit pause. The district has a sheet on Assumptions.  One is a change from 10-year planning to 5-year planning.  Two is APP projections and how the program has grown.  Three is implementation "5-year planning horizon, in conjunction with annual implementation decisions, allows for mid-course corrections. Link to all the handouts including amendments.  I caution you that much of it - without explanation - may not make sense. It appears from my count that amendments 2, 6, 13, 14, 15 are out.  (Again tentative as they are not really announcing "in" or "out" but those were some that were withdrawn or dismissed.)

Upcoming Board Meetings

I wasn't able to attend the Executive Committee meeting this morning but Board staff were kind enough to give me the handouts (thanks Lily and Teresa). As a heads up, a couple of things from the Legislative agenda (aka School Board agenda). - November 20th.  The Growth Boundaries discussion/vote is the fifth Action item on the agenda.  Two items ahead of it will likely go quickly but the Special Ed item and possible closure of Pinehurst are likely to have some amount of discussion (and, with any luck, Pinehurst will be pulled off the agenda).  Altogether the Boar has 13 Action items to vote on (whew!) plus three Intro items.  One of those is acceptance of RTTT money for the three IB programs. I let you know this simply if you are trying to time your arrival (unless you want to come for Public Testimony but by then, it will all be over but the shouting).  If I had to call it, I'd say the Growth Boundaries discussion and vote will not start before 6:30 p.m. As well, there

Pinehurst Fights Back

Parents do the work to defend their schools and Pinehurst is challenging the per student figure for Pinehurst students versus other students. As usual, parents step up with extensive research.  Pinehurst is no exception and here is a letter to Superintendent Banda asking for an explanation of the costs announced to the Board per student at Pinehurst versus other K-8s.