Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Tuesday Open Thread

From Publicola:

Ballot returns for tomorrow's off-year mayoral election are coming in lower than expected, according to King County Elections spokeswoman Kim van Eckstrom, who estimates that "about 250,000 ballots have been returned" as of this morning (that's about 40,000 more than you'll currently see on King County's official elections web site, which only reflects returns through Friday night.)

"The numbers are definitely lower than we anticipated," van Eckstrom says. "We have no way of knowing if this rate is going to continue or if it's going to pick up."

The estimated 250,000 ballots that have come in so far represent about 21 percent of the King County electorate; King County Elections has predicted a 55 percent turnout.

Every vote counts - make sure you get yours in and check the cut-off time for any mailbox you use.  Here's a link to KC Elections and their ballot box locations.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering how as a community we come together and demand success for all students (not just our precious own).

The latest boundary proposal is another example of how a subset of students is being told to sacrifice in order to build success for others. Many complain when it suddenly affects their families (e.g. Wedgwood yesterday) but we should be complaining and seeking solutions when it affects any student (e.g. Current Eckstein students who live far north).

The behavior of SPS and frequently the board is so reactive and not proactive. This results in a division of the families instead of creating unity.

I'm disappointed that the word education does not come up in the proposals. I'm disappointed we don't ask for the best for all students.

- Sad

Anonymous said...


I think about this school system we have a lot. I too am so disappointed that in this city that we do not have an unbelievable school system for all. I keep coming back to how this city in general cannot make decisions, examples, the viaduct, mass transit, sports teams. I think it is goes back to the fact that everyone thinks that they should get their way all the time. We as a city are not good at compromise and then moving forward in a constructive way. When we don't get our way we all have a tendency to keep fighting for our position to the detriment of us as a city moving forward. This really is a group thing but we do not see it as such. Me and mine is the reverberating song. People also think that the school system is going to make or break you kid. No true. You and your family values will make or break your kid.
-So tired

Anonymous said...

High cost of child care and not enough quality ones. 7th highest for urban setting, 8th highest as a state. But by all means, keep talking how we all support early childhood ed. Citizens talking like politicians. Who can tell these days. Pinched my nose and...


Anonymous said...

How does one find out about VNESS?


Anonymous said...

We have a kiddo who is really struggling with CMP2 this year. Currently has a D overall. F's on the tests. Last year the teacher supplemented more in 6th grade so it was very bad, but somewhat salvageable. This year, the 7th grade teacher is only using CMP2 (and the school purchased an online tool for math practice).

Has anyone pulled their child from middle school math recently and home schooled using a different curriculum? Would appreciate hearing what curriculum others might have tried for middle school, if it had online delivery, and how things worked out. We already have a math tutor that we pay for but the school does not offer any other math help resources. This curriculum seems to place a very heavy burden on parents to provide help and support. We are….

-Math worried

Melissa Westbrook said...

Math worried, what you suggest can be done as I home-schooled one son for one semester in LA in middle school. I would suggest calling the homeschool center, Cascade Parent Partership, and asking them about it.

NNE Dad said...

NorthEnder - That's just it, you really can't find out much more about VNESS. They seem to be sort of the opposite of an astroturf group, a small body of individuals acting like they're a larger organization. All I can find is their Facebook page:
They have "Core Members", but no other indication of a structure.

I was at the startup meeting in April. They indicated they wanted to start a coalition of all NE schools, but it quickly became clear it was being run by the usual Ravenna/Eckstein/APP activists. They completely assumed we all agreed with their agenda, basically that JAMS needed to start up as soon as possible, and that the last school board election was a disaster. We never voted on standing rules, or were even asked to introduce ourselves, come to think of it. I was never informed of a 2nd meeting. I think their map of NE Seattle ends at about 85th.

My impression is VNESS was the next move after Jean Bryant, Alissa Sweet, and Deborah Sigler tried their incredibly ill-advised last-second attempt to oppose the BEX IV levy, after JAMS didn't start up soon enough to suit them. Maybe VNESS is a genuine attempt to become a more mature, reasonable voice for their concerns, but the behavior of some of their core members over the past few years leaves me very skeptical.

Anonymous said...

i am wondering about the actual process that takes place in these boundary iterations... i haven't had time to dig through the documentation, but is there any transparency to the process? is it known actually who (and why) makes these decisions? i keep thinking of 2 people sitting in a backroom saying "ok, they complained about our first map, so let's really mix things up [eckstein/app redreaw] and then maybe they'll like our first plan after all"

or is the problem that we have too much voice in the process, which then opens up the reactive mode? what if the district hired smart demographers, real planners, and said, "here you go public, this is the plan".

aren't there consultants who specialize in how to grow/shrink a school district? seems our situation is not unique, and there would be best practices learned. how do other cities the size of seattle draw their boundaries and grow/shrink with population changes?


Anonymous said...

Our children both struggled with CMP2, so I can empathize. We found: 1) the topics were not clearly or completely covered, 2) the problem sets were tedious and wordy yet somehow simplistic in coverage of math topics, and 3) there were not enough problems to achieve mastery on a topic.

We started out supplementing but moved to part-time homeschooling with a very traditional text. It took less of our time to go through a traditional pre-algebra book than to help get the CMP work done and then try to do the supplementation. Part-time homeschooling is a big commitment because you need to pick up or drop off your child each day, plus you need a schedule with math 1st or 6th period (in order to have a late start or early release). This was a daily commitment to sit with my child and teach the math, section by section - it was not an online self-teaching approach.

Alternatively, you can purchase a used pre-algebra text and use it alongside the CMP booklets so you have clear explanations and worked examples for each topic.

Some book suggestions:

McDougal Littell Pre-Algebra
ISBN 0618250034

McDougal Littell Structure and Method Course 2
ISBN 0395570131

Key to Decimals...Fractions...Percents
(Consumable workbooks found at Math-n-Stuff)

The first two are traditional texts that cover the three years of pre-algebra in a single text.

-been there

Anonymous said...


A video about a public boarding high school in Louisiana (!) for gifted kids. The link is to an columnist who helped put the video together and was is an alumni

Anonymous said...

@ Diane: In most districts I've read about, staff roles out boundary changes and that's it. You get what you get and you don't throw a fit. (Or if you throw a fit fine, but administration isn't going to pay any attention.)

I think Seattle IS unique, or at the very least an outlier in how the process is handled, so we can't look to other places to see a correct path (unless you are OK with my way or highway dictates from HQ.)

First, the district is still trying to recover from a horrible 10-year very poor record in projecting student enrollment.

Second, we are still evolving into a completely new assignment paradigm from a decade ago.

Third, we have had huge and perpetual churn in downtown administration.

Fourth, we have a city whose parents insist on far more involvement in day-to-day district administrative decisions than is typical. (That's not bad...it just is the way this city works.)

Fifth, the financial pressures on the district continue unabated. Though we all agree that the bulk of $$ must go to classrooms, the lack of $$ to hire and keep talented professionals handling technical and non-education-based jobs (project management, IT, systems planning) becomes quite apparent during complicated issues such as boundary revision.

Sixth, we simply do not have enough physical buildings, in the neighborhoods with the most pressing enrollment needs, to satisfy all constituencies with an optimal enrollment option.

I think all things considered, until this recent revision, the boundary process has not been horrible. SPS did give both notice of changes and time to comment far in advance of its usual pattern. Yes, it should have had more outreach to the south and West Seattle and it should have done a much better job explaining WHY each revision suggestion has been made, because we are now collectively losing the thread of reasoning(s) behind changes.

That this most recent revision in the NE looks like staff finally threw up a deck of cards and let them land on the table in frustration...well, it's not too surprising. The boundaries people don't have key program roadmaps in place, there aren't enough buildings, board directors have different priorities, and parents from various constituencies are persistent and loud in advocating for their kids' needs.

Boundary changes always stink. Because of all the reasons listed above, this process promised to be extremely stinky to an extreme number of parents from the get-go. And so here we are, despite what I think is best intentions from the district and the best effort of parents to inform them of on-the-ground realities.

Sorry for the lengthy post. I just think that if we assume best intentions from all parties, and see that we are at a very, very difficult planning moment, that we might be able to table a small amount of frustration with each other. The level of anger is sky high, and ultimately, I don't think that's good for our students or for the people who are paid to support them...not to mention the students' caregivers/parents!


Anonymous said...


One other point you left off was the issue with AL program delivery. Decisions are being made about program location before strategic directions are made about the program itself.

Cart before horse.

My fear is that we'll be facing yet another assignment plan discussion in two years...


Melissa Westbrook said...

Diane, the district does have people hired for their expertise in facilties. The district has a demgrapher but I believe her background is in mathematics. The City has offered its demgrapher but I don't know if the district took them up on it.

That said, I think your idea of a consultant that specializes would be good but that didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

Ed voter, agree with everything, but would modify, we have one very vocal, well organized group within the population, especially on this blog. The majority of SPS students go much more quietly where they are told to, for better or worse. The south end has more available capacity without the desirable zip codes. Build and renovate more schools, but we do have unused and under utilized schools south of downtown this district can use.

look south

Anonymous said...

Hi Sad,
There will always be members of a community that are selfish and entitled, and desperate situations tend to bring these traits of everyone. Our new school board however is currently controlled by a fragile majority of directors (Smith-Blum, Peaslee, Patu and McLaren) who do demand success for all students (not just the precious own of the well-heeled and powerful). With Director Smith-Blum leaving at the end of this term, we face the threat of a new majority reverting to the clueless, reactive practices of the previous board.
If you want to see the word education in more proposals, if you want a board that asks for the best for all students: please, if you haven't already do so, vote TODAY for Sue Peters for Seattle School Board -- and put that ballot in today's mail.
Ms. Peters will come to the job with the knowledge, skill and ability to help undue the damage done in the recent past. Directors Smith-Blum, Peaslee, Patu and McLaren all endorse her and Seattle needs her on the Board. (Her opponent is endorsed by Director Michael DeBell from the old guard)
I can't promise this would make our larger community come together, but with a school board focused on the education of all Seattle students, perhaps those values will trickle up.
Get and stay involved Sad. At times this may drive you Mad, but the community needs your voice. Use that voice to vote for Sue Peters. You'll be...
- Glad

Anonymous said...

@ Confused, Actually, I did cover that point:

The boundaries people don't have key program roadmaps in place

I did not specifically call out advanced learning because it's a bigger problem than advanced learning.

Language Immersion, Special Ed, English Language Learners, Montessori and other Alternative Education - there are scant or no roadmaps for ALL of this.

If people do not realize that still more enrollment shuffling will have to happen in future years if/when academic programming coherently comes together, then they will be unpleasantly surprised yet again.
In short order.

Even if AL were straightened out today, it subsequently would be impacted by developments in the other programs. We are all one system, and we need to look beyond our own personal interests accordingly.


Anonymous said...

@ Math Worried
I've used Singapore Math text and workbooks with my kids, purchased at Math 'n Stuff. If you have the time and if you and your kid can work well together, you could do that and spare your child the frustration of CMP. It's an easy curriculum to understand and teach, if you have some math skills.

It is an investment of your time and you need to work together every day. Make it fun in any way you can. Be upbeat and encouraging.

My daughter loves math so it was easy for me to get her to work with me. So what worked for us might not work for you. After we finished level 6B, as high as Singapore goes, I started her in Alcumus at the Art of Problem Solving site. I like it much better than Kahn because you can choose a pre-Algebra track and it will serve up problems based on what you are getting right and wrong. It has a "get a hint" function and if you give up or get a problem wrong it gives a detailed explanation of how to solve the problem. The videos are more interesting than Kahn's, IMHO.

My kid is pretty self-directed and I didn't get involved unless she asked for help once she started on Alcumus. The site aims for 75% correct rate...if your child does better than that it starts serving up harder problems, if your child does worse it eases up on difficulty. They believe you have to face problems that are too hard to solve and work at them, then see the correct approach. I can only say it was great for my kid, and she was ready for Algebra this fall in grade 6. She's not struggling.

I think it would work with any kid though, if you provide the emotional support they need to keep up at it day in and day out, to build their knowledge and skills.

Good luck,

serenity now

Linh-Co said...

Math worried, you can do partial home-schooling. I wouldn't bother trying to supplement CMP2. It is a disastrous curriculum that has little to no value.

I initially single subject home-schooled my son for 3 years to avoid CMP2. I am a private tutor currently single subject home-schooling 6 students from Salmon Bay, Whitman, and Hamilton. It is doable but is a commitment because the schools will not allow your student to be on campus during that period.

I use Saxon and Singapore with my students and have them opt in to all MAP and MSP testing to show growth. Last year, I had 6 eighth graders from Whitman opting out of math during 6th period. They were able to sign themselves out at the office after 5th period without their parents, and then biked to my house. The kids were encouraged to take the EOC1 (End of Course Algebra test). Everyone of them passed and they are all currently enrolled in either Geometry or Geometry Honors at Ballard and Ingraham HS. These kids were all in the regular and not advanced level math class.

I hope this gives you some options.

Joe Wolf said...

EdVoter - Thank you. Speaking for myself, as the district's lead planner this is the best summary of the situation I've seen.

RosieReader said...

Has anyone seen a spreadsheet with the actual enrollment numbers school by school/grade by grade, etc?

Anonymous said...

Singapore math does not end at 6B.

Singapore Secondary Level Math

Alcumus is probably best for advanced math students. You have to find what works for your child. My child did not want online lessons and really disliked Khan for some reason. Take Linh-Co's advice if you are able. Part-time homeschooling has worked for us. We also have our children take the MSP tests, but that's a requirement of homeschooling. You have to take some standardized test to show progress. We preferred working from a text (Saxon appeals to some, not others).

-been there

mirmac1 said...


You bring up something that has, perhaps, slipped by some observers. I believe Banda has been gradually steering the ship to a better course. Our board (with that fragile majority) has tried gamely to place students back in the focus of the district. New initiatives are not just rubber-stamped. Board members have asked questions and actually got some (limited) answers. Staff has had to go back and do their homework. The Alliance and their groupies don't just stamp their feet and get what they want right when they want it.

Progress has certainly not proceeded at the pace we would like. But I look at the Native American education program, a robust internal audit schedule, extensive community engagement on some issues (not so much on others).

Banda has had to play Whack-A-Mole from his first day on the job. I see him delegating (sometimes to individuals not of my choosing), but at the same time working to inculcate his values into how the district treats families.

I've considered throwing it in if Estey buys this election. The only reason I wouldn't is if I think Banda can keep the ship on the right course.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to West Seattle Elementary. Good news about them on the West SEattle Blog.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I know APP North parents will be screaming at me, but we need to consider putting APP at a school in CD or perhaps in the old Magnolia Elementary. There are just too many kids in the north end, and not enough seats, even with all the new schools being built. And SPS does not have any other properties suitable for more schools N of the ships' canal, and NO money to buy. Wherever APP is placed with this boundary proposal, within 3,4 years AT THE MOST, it WILL have to be moved again. Parents can scream as loud as they want then about the unfairness, it will not make a difference. APP kids are the only ones with guaranteed transportation, and come from many neighborhoods, so they will have to be the ones who are moved. And MOVED they will be, if APP stays north of the canal. The district has NO choice! Kelly has said MANY times on this blog about the severe shortage in seats even after all the new schools are built. Yet either no one believes her, or do not want to believe. APP parents are fighting for Lincoln Annex when there is no room at Lincoln without kicking out the Indian Heritage group (yes, APP parents, they ARE there) and the Sped group (Medically Fragile!); and advocating for stand alone schools either at Lincoln (needed for HS), or at WP, (needed for overflowing neighborhoods). Because APP parents can scream loudly and have lots of time to do so, we can get our way in THE SHORT TERM, but when those 3rd graders & younger cohorts start rolling up to MS, APP WILL have to move, as it is the ONLY program that can BE moved, and it has gotten HUGE, too big to fit anywhere in the north end.

So everyone must make a choice, exit APP, or stay and move south of the ships' canal. I really do not understand why this is suddenly so unacceptable, as APP was at Lowell and Washington until not too long ago; and APP people are constantly bemoaning the split. Yet now everyone scream at the idea of going back to that area, and some are DEMANDING the right to be at Eckstein because many APP kids live in that area. Surely many also came from that area when APP schools were Lowell and Washington?

So choose, APP parents, demand a school in the North now, and be moved again in 3 years, or advocate for the program to be placed in a not too far place (the CD or Magnolia) where there are seats!

Look around people, see all the pregnant women and tiny toddlers everywhere in the North end? Be realistic, the school age pop is still growing. It is the trend and NOT a bubble. Demographic patterns have changed, people who are moving to Seattle as young adults are NOT moving out to the burbs when they start having babies. And the private schools do not have any more room either. SPS will keep growing. Accept, and plan for things as they ARE , not as you wish them to be.


mirmac1 said...


With all due respect, could you also post your comment on the latest NE APP assignment/boundary thread? That way we preserve a Tuesday Open Thread for all the other important stuff? Thanks

Anonymous said...

Thanks for amplifying my post with your deeper knowledge of the machinations of the board and district. I have had trouble reading Jose Banda, so I appreciate your perspective and, assuming Peters wins the seat, will remain hopeful for better days ahead.

Question: who and what is this “Alliance” that gets mentioned frequently by posters to this forum?


Anonymous said...

mirmac1, I'm with you on Banda. He's more independent than what most people would like. Hence you don't read the glowing stuff in Crosscut and ST like past Superintendents MGJ (before the fall) and Enfield. No Michael DeBell singing high praises. There's been a couple of pressure pieces on him. I think people just don't quite know what to do with him, especially if the Board remains independent too. We'll see if money wins in education. That's what happens with marketplace education. Lobbyists and PACs galore.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"APP kids are the only ones with guaranteed transportation.." - not true but keep saying it.

CCA, where in the Central district? I'll wait. Magnolia Elementary would need way too much work AND is so geographically isolated as to be ridiculous.

Glad, What is the Alliance? Now, that's a question. It is the Alliance for Education and since it is well-known within public ed circles in Seattle, we call it the Alliance.

It started back in the '90s when Superintendent Stanford wanted to see business get more involved in public education. It was originally started mostly as a booster group for public education but morphed into what is a national trend - business people who think they know education and try to direct it.

The Alliance has done some good - raised millions of dollars but it was money THEY direct and so maybe not as helpful to the district as it could be. And now they are "critical friends" who like to try to influence others (like elected officials) to see things their way.

Their newest thing is "governance" and boy have they tried to get their way on that one with the Board. The problem is that these are PUBLIC schools and their voice is NO more important than anyone else's. Most of the Board gets that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone who has provided feedback on my CMP2 math question. Very much appreciate each of your responses!

-Math worried

Anonymous said...

Thanks Melissa. I'm guessing some googling can tell me a little more about who is in the Alliance, etc. But could you please elaborate a little more about this ”governance” issue?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Mirmac1, I just got tired of all the sturm und drang so just threw in my 2 cents. No point in reposting, no APP advocate on this blog is going to listen to me. Melissa Westbrook is already saying I'm wrong. So APP will get put someplace the loudest people want. The less politically powerful groups, Sped & Indian Heritage will get moved to make room. And in 3 years when the student pop doubles and triples in the N, we'll get the merry-go-around again. I have said my piece, I don't plan to say anymore. It's futile & waste of time because some people want what they want at any cost. We have children in the program, and not all APP parents are like that, thank goodness. But some are, and the district will grease their wheels until the population realities make it impossible.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Nope, CCA, didn't say everything you said was wrong. But no, APP students are not the only ones to get transportation and yes, Magnolia Elementary is too isolated.

I'm not saying APP should get what it wants but they have to go somewhere.

I know that other programs are politically less powerful and that's why I support and advocate for them.

Anonymous said...

Not related to anything current:

Does anybody know if out of area GenEd kids can apply for the IB program (not IB-X) at Ingraham? We're an international family and I think the IB diploma is more accepted in my home country than a regular HS diploma (regardless of how many AP classes were taken).

IB curious

RosieReader said...

IB Curious -- Any student attending Ingraham High School is welcome to take IB classes, and to work towards the IB Diploma. The typical IB student does Pre-IB work in 9th and 10th grade, and then completes their IB requirements in their Junior and Senior Year. The APP students (also known as IBX) do their pre-IB preparatory work in 9th grade, and then complete their diploma requirements as Sophomores and Juniors. The senior year is still being developed. Some students will choose to graduate early. Ingraham is looking at the Senior Year available at Interlake in Bellevue for APP students as a potential model.

The trick is getting in to Ingraham. If you are moving to Seattle, I would encourage you to relocate into the Ingraham attendance area. There is always some room for non-attendance area students, but these days Ingraham typically has a wait list so you can't be sure of a slot if you are outside the attendance area.

"Regular" IB is also available at Chief Sealth, and a new "regular" IB program is just starting at Rainier Beach. Sealth has a huge wait list and I would not place any bets on ever getting in there if you live outside the attendance area. Rainier Beach always has space, but it is a small-population school which may not have the extras that you would want for your student.

And you're right, the IB diploma can be quite helpful in admissions to oversees universities.

mirmac1 said...


I totally get it. Pls don't take offense. Just trying to keep an open thread.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, RosieReader!

So basically, you can try to apply to Ingraham if you're out of area but your chances as a non APP student are slim at this point. If you are APP (qualified) in 8th grade then you get the choice to attend Ingraham to do IBX (can you also slow down to a normal IB diploma?) regardless of whether you have been previously in the APP program.

I wish SPS would start offering IB at all HS then as the APP entrance advantage to an IB program (and to me it is a huge advantage over GenEd) personally bugs me a bit.

Thanks for the info though!

IB curious

Melissa Westbrook said...

IB Curious, I believe so. For example, I just checked and Ingraham has 30 Open Choice seats so there is a good chance. For sure there would be seats at Rainier Beach's program.

You should contact Enrollment services to make sure.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa!

We still have a little way to go for HS, so hopefully it will be choice later on as well (I am just trying to figure out options). And who knows, me might move further south at some point and then Rainier Beach will become a more realistic option.

again, thanks!
IB curious

mirmac1 said...

I hope you have seen this (now) infamous photo of Big Bully Chris Christie shouting at an educator "I'm sick of you people! You people should just do your jobs!" Apparently she was disturbing his Rutgers tailgater. Notice his Stepford wife, grinning with pleasure.

RosieReader said...

Yes, an APP qualified student can go to Ingraham, and then choose to become a "typical" IB student. I'd imagine it has happened, though I am not aware of any specific examples.

In terms of whether IB should be at every HS, I'm not sure that's such a great idea. Some students prefer to go the AP route, and unless you are at a really huge high school it would be hard to offer both.

Lynn said...

I think every student should have access to both AP and IB. One idea would be to draw boundaries around a pair of neighborhood schools and give everyone in that attendance area an equal chance to enroll in either. Or make IB schools option schools and have every attendance area school offer AP classes.

Anonymous said...

Lost your ballot? Slog has a link to King Co Elections, where you can vote & download ballot to sign & mail in or drop off at ballot box. If no time, there is choice to fax or email your ballot today, and send in signed copy later. Do go vote, remember we are cursed with the House of Zombies because many of us did not vote during the off years.


Anonymous said...

Additional homeschool math recommendations for pre-algebra (from the creator of Math Mammoth curriculum):

Recommendations for pre-algebra

-been there

Anonymous said...

You have a good point, RosieReader. AB classes may be of interest to more students than IB classes are (for now at least). Like your suggestions, Lynn!

IB curious

RosieReader said...

Danming article on KUOW on the proposed operators of Charter schools in Washington state. http://kuow.org/post/meet-hopeful-charters-some-mixed-records-others-just-failing

Anonymous said...

@RosieReader thanks for the link to the KUOW piece.

Here is the money quote,
"Most of the 12 charter schools meeting state standards have much smaller percentages of low-income students, English language learners and special education students than their surrounding districts." Of course it goes on to cite the percentages which are pretty telling.


Patrick said...

Fall MAP scores have been posted, at least for my student.

Mike said...


About the de facto resegregation of schools and what could be done...

Anonymous said...

Did you see there are 63 people on the wait list to give testimony at the 11/6 school board meeting? Do you have any tips for how we might move up the list?
- WW

Anonymous said...

Wow ... grid-lock around the Ballard Library ... dropped off my ballot but they told the next lady that she was 16 seconds too late.

N by NW

Benjamin Leis said...

Seattle School District No. 1 Director District No. 4
Suzanne Dale Estey
48.18% - 36676 votes

Sue Peters
51.46% - 39177 votes

Anonymous said...



Patrick said...

Great! Hope the lead lasts!