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?  


Anonymous said…
History as if it was happening now. Tweets from past: @JFK_1963 John F Kennedy presidency. @9Nov38 Kristallnacht.

JFK Presidential Library has online archives www.jfklibrary/Research.aspx


Anonymous said…
Weird, captcha for last post was wereDoc

Unknown said…
Patrick Deneen, a principled conservative, a Toquevillian and localist, argues here against the utilitarian mindset of the Common Core:

"The American “system” of education, for much of its history, consisted of local governance of educational institutions, high-levels of voluntarism by parents and members of local communities, and a rich diversity of public and private institutions that aimed to offer to families the kind of education that each saw fit for their children. . . .

. . . it was in the very absence of any national standard for education, and the strong tradition of local control of education, that we could perceive, in fact, a pervasive historical commitment to the aspiration of republican self-government. Because humans in their social and political communities are various, it was understood by our Founders that the way that these educational purposes to be achieved would be various, and so the commitment to local control of education was not born of a resignation in the absence of a strong central government, but a positive embrace of variety and multiplicity. Because there is likely to be debate and disagreement in a pluralistic society over the nature of our civic ends and the nature of a good character, it was understood that only in more local circumstances could the highest aspirations of education be pursued, even if that would be various and multiple. In our modern insistence to standardize and equalize, we necessarily discard any higher aspiration of education’s end in an embrace of a widely-secured agreement about lower, debased ends: an education based upon a lowest common-denominator, “career-readiness.” Our civilization thus shows its ultimate commitments through how it educates its young—that we think them incapable of anything higher than being workers in a deracinated globalized economic system, neither citizens nor, in the fullest sense, humans.

At the same time, we condemn ourselves, betraying our ancient faith in our own ability to educate and cultivate our young, handing over our final and most basic liberty to a distant power. Contained in the very act of handing over the education of our young is the self-indictment of a decaying Republic, a future feared by, among others, Tocqueville, as a possible path that America might take, since it is one that all republics heretofore have taken, and is an inevitability once a people has lost the taste and the art of ruling themselves."
Linh-Co said…
As to the “Moms Against Duncan” (MAD), which formed on Facebook to pushback on U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s recent comment about “white suburban moms” and their resistance to the national Common Core curriculum standards, here’s what one of the MAD moms wrote this week about Duncan and Common Core:

“Duncan’s foot-in-mouth-disease comes from the fact that he doesn’t understand that this is no longer a political thing. This is about our children. As a teacher who left the classroom because of Common Core and the abuse of our children, I can promise it has nothing to do with color, or sex, or education level, or income, or political party. As a Democrat myself I will be voting all over party lines in November. If you support Common Core….we will show you the door. There are a lot of Dems who have signed onto Harkins bill, which will effectively remove all local boards of education, and they need to watch their re-election bids carefully.

“As the co-founder of MAD (Moms Against Duncan) we are linking groups of parents all over this country together. Our ultimate goal is a 10% standardized test opt out rate in every school K-8. We will corrupt the data so it is useless. No school scores, no teacher scores, no student scores. No databases, no prison planning data, no economic development data. Pearson, Gates and Duncan can kiss our multicolored backsides. Our children are NOT data. We want all this wasted money back in the hands of our teachers.

“If Arne Duncan thinks he can take a poop on someone’s yard and apologize by saying “it would have looked better if I’d been over a few feet” he is sadly mistaken. We are America’s MOMS (and Dads) and WE ARE MAD!!!”
Anonymous said…
I am opposed to parent teacher conferences and this week off of school that is coming up. In 7-8 years as a parent I don't think I've ever experienced a conference that wasn't plain old boring, perfunctory and rushed. What do teachers get out of them? The net result is a lot of parents rushing around trying to make the week work for our kids while still trying to make it in to work.

- sallyforth
Jack, I don't know if you saw but I had posted a video clip of a high school senior unhappy about Common Core. He did so beautifully and he referenced the Founding Fathers, too.
Jamie said…
sallyforth, I prefer the way they do it now vs the way they used to schedule conferences - over 8 half-days, the week before Thanksgiving and the week of. That was a bigger headache to schedule, for me at least.

My favorite conferences were when my kid was at Salmon Bay for middle school - they were "student-led" conferences where your kid showed you a portfolio of their work and their homeroom teacher was there with their MAP scores and to answer questions. Teachers also had open office hours if you had questions about specific classes.
Anonymous said…
Jack, thank you for the Patrick Deneen link. I'm spreading that one far and wide. It's brilliant.

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
I like parent-teacher conferences at the elementary school level and find them helpful. The middle school ones are not very useful. Hamilton canceled the parent teacher conferences this year and that was fine by me.

Charlie Mas said…
I went to the Courthouse today and watched the initial arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Charter School law. I'll try to write something about it today.
joanna said…
Likely the parent/teacher conferences should be a richer experience, but they are an important opportunity when teachers know they are expected to be available and add structure for many families. If there is not enough time for the discussion you want, set up another appointment. At middle school level they give the kids the message that parents are still parents, which is sometimes important at that age.
Anonymous said…
Don't get me started about a week off, three weeks of school, then 2 weeks off ... that's 3 weeks out of six!

How can any kid learn, or any teacher have continuity, with that schedule?

It's absurd and makes it basically January before kids learn anything again. NO OTHER DISTRICT around us does this.

Signed: attend school
Anonymous said…
Attend school's comment above got me surfing and I came across this:

"To get input that helped shape the school year calendars for 2013-14 through 2017-18, LWEA asked for input from its members while the LWSD surveyed parents. The result is a calendar that is similar to current patterns."

Can you believe that the Lake Washington School District actually solicits input on the proposed calendar from the parents, and then takes it into consideration in its planning?


Ann D
Patrick said…
My middle schooler's conference was useful. However, the teacher we met with was teaching her in two classes, plus we didn't have any other conferences scheduled after us, so we actually talked for about an hour.

The week off for conferences doesn't bother me too much. I do have a problem with midwinter break in February. It's only a month and a half since winter break, and we need another week off already? And then another week off in April? If we're going to have two weeks off during the year, why not put them together, so we could take a long trip without missing school? Though better yet would be getting our earlier in the summer, to facilitate working for HS students.

I'd really like to have the schedule made up more than a year ahead, to allow booking international trips. I don't see why it's so difficult to plan ahead. The District knows how long the year has to be. It should be an advantage to teachers and other District employees to know in advance, as well as parents.
Lynn said…
The Issaquah School District's goal is to have three years of calendars available before the beginning of the school year. That seems reasonable.
Jamie said…
Patrick, I'm with you. Mid winter break is totally unnecessary and I lived it when they got rid of it last year. Very annoying to see it return.
Jamie said…
Oops, loved it not lived it, sorry. Darn iPhone.
RosieReader said…
SPS did solicit parents feedback on the schedule for conferences- several years ago. At the time, elementaries had almost two weeks of 1/2 days to fit them all in. A couple of schools asked for and received permission to try all conferences during three days before Thanksgiving. The success and popularity of those experiments led to the District telling all schools they could poll their parents and decide. At all, or virtually all, schools there was a strong preference for the current option.

In terms of midwinter break, according to my school's union rep, the union has been asked and they split pretty evenly down the middle. I suspect the same thing would happen if there was a way to conduct a statistically accurate poll of parents. Some people hate it, and others love the chance to get in a winter ski or sun vacation. To each family its own.
Anonymous said…
Ah but Rosie Reader,I would argue that the school schedule should be set up for what is best for learning, not for what adults prefer. The research is clear on learning loss that occurs both over the summer and during interrupted learning time. This learning loss is particularly hard on kids of low SES who aren't going skiing or on vacation. Lower SES kids are in fact more likely to spend that time in front of the tv or taking care of siblings. And don't even get me started on high school start times! I know I am naive, but I can't believe that this is even a question put up for a vote.
High School Mama
Lynn said…
High School Mama,

I'd prefer to skip mid-winter break and get out of school earlier in June myself. Doesn't that move the learning loss from February to summer though? Either way, we'll have the same number of days out of school. I'm totally in agreement with you on the high school start times.
Anonymous said…

That is a good question about learning loss at holiday versus summer. Interrupted learning time does exacerbate gaps, but at the moment, I haven't read any research addressing the question you ask. I am going to dig around to see if there is any research out there on that. Of course, if we were really serious about addressing learning gaps, we would have year-round school schedules coupled with support during breaks, which research shows does make some difference for low SES kids. A person can dream...

High School Mama
Anonymous said…
From what I understand, Mid-Winter Break started out here. We never had it growing up in St. Louis. Statistically it was found that lots of kids and teachers were missing school that week around Presidents Day due to illness. So it was decided to just take that week off and stop the spread of illness and let people recover. Not sure if that is true or not, but my kids always seem to get sick just before Mid-Winter break.

Many schools in Europe have 6 weeks of school and then a week off. With a bigger break at Christmas and 8 weeks during the summer, 4 of which are August. It seems like the curriculum can be planned around these breaks. The summer break may be too long though and should be shortened.

RosieReader said…
I do understand that long gaps in education can be problematic. Like Lynn, though, I don't think that eliminating or shortening mid-winter break will make a difference either way. The 2013 4 day gap will be replaced by the 2014 9 day gap. Is a whole week off easier or harder for low income families to manage or plan for than 2 days off on either side of a weekend? I just don't know and wouldn't want to guess.

Here's another thing. Mid winter break seems to strike a negative chord in some people. When concerns are expressed about it, however, no one ever seems to suggest shortening the December holiday or spring break. As a result, complaints about midwinter break always strike me as people who prefer time off when they've always had time off, or to follow the school schedule in place when they were young.
Jamie said…
I express concern about mid winter break because I don't think it's necessary, at all. Give them President's Day off only. Shortening winter or spring break would not really make a difference in my opinion, it's the short time between the breaks that is problematic. The kids have two weeks off in Dec/Jan and a week off in April - there is no need to also have a week off in February. It seems overly disruptive to me. They get back from winter break and have something like five or six weeks of school and then a week off and then six weeks of school and then another week off. If you eliminate the February break then they have 12 almost solid weeks of school, which would be great.

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