Showing posts from December, 2013

Public Education News Wrap-Up (and what YOU, yes you, can do in 2014)

A great piece from @The Chalk Face by John Kuhn who covers both the year in review AND what to do in 2014.  His queries for 2014: Will the education reformers rebound from their numerous defeats this year? They still have the money, they still own the media and the US Department of Education, and they have fresh NAEP and PISA scores that “prove” whatever they want them to prove. (Tennessee and DC students showed major gains on NAEP,  they enthuse , but then they conveniently forget to mention all the reform-friendly states that didn’t show gains at all. Asi es la vida.) Will the Common Core be perceived by the masses as a sensible set of standards to guide instruction in 2014, or will progressives across America view it as another armament in the artillery trained on public education and teachers, while conservatives across the nation view it as a federal takeover of a traditional state responsibility and an attempt to brainwash the children?   His Five Resolutions

Washington State Charter School Updates

More news rolls in for updating charter schools in Washington State. First, three Charter Commissioners have expiring terms and are up for re-appointment (apparently all three want to stay).  Commissioners Chris Martin, Margit McGuire and Kevin Jacka have expiring terms.  It's early to say who should stay and who should go but so far these three seem capable.  Margit McGuire is the most thoughtful of the these three and definitely should stay. The Commission welcomes public comments and asks that all comments be delivered to the Executive Director, Joshua Halsey, by January 11, 2014. Comments can be emailed or mailed to Director Halsey. Email:  Mail: Joshua Halsey  Re: Commissioner Re-nomination  PO Box 40996 Olympia, WA 985004-0996    As well, public forums for each charter application are starting to be scheduled.  The first one I know of is next Wednesday, January 8th in Yakima for the Sunnyside Cha

Goodbye to 2013 - Hello to 2014!

Pop quizzes! Pew Research Center - News IQ Quiz Slate's News Quiz. Nice idea for the new year - a Good Times Jar project.   A good way to keep track of what matters to your family and showing gratitude for the good things (big and small) in your lives. Even little victories count. Start this January with an empty jar. Throughout the year write the good things that happened to you on little pieces of paper. On December 31st, open the jar and read all the amazing things that happened to you that year.

Washington State Charter Applicants - No Conversions

I've been pacing myself to go through all the charter school applications.  At about 566 pages each, it's a long slog. But I can confirm that I see none of them - submitted to the Charter Commission - that are applying to be conversion schools.  What is somewhat troubling is that one of them - Pioneer School which currently exists as a private school - didn't even seem to understand the question.  Have they read the law?  It's unclear.  I also note the presence of several ex/current Microsoft or Gates Foundation employees in a couple of applications.  I was also quite surprised to see former Washington State legislator, Dawn Mason, on the application coming from the Gulen group.  I note that Gulen is in the news as their supporters in Turkey are presumed to be behind the effort to overthrow that country's secular government.  In the US, it runs one of the largest networks of charter schools – purportedly secular – with links to more than 100 schools. In Tu

Patt Sutton - A Champion for Public Education in Seattle

The West Seattle Herald has a very good obituary of Patt Sutton who served two-terms as president of the Seattle School Board.  That's a very little bit of what this woman did for Seattle Public education (as well as being the mother of 12 children and working for Boeing.)  She also: Upon learning there was no kindergarten due to a double levy loss, Patt volunteered for the school levy campaign in 1960. By the late 1960s Patt was a leading expert in state education funding and finance. She served on the League of Women Voters Education Committee, Seattle Schools Condition Study, Seattle Citizens for School Support, and the Greater Seattle PTA. Elected in 1973 as Region 6 School Board Representative, Patt championed stable school funding by initiating Seattle School District v. The State of Washington, also known as the Doran decision. In 1982, she testified on educational finance to Congress as a member of the National School Boards Association. She co-authored the f

End of the Year Stories about Students

Out of Florida via Ed Week : A new Florida bill would ensure that the state's high school students have a little more time to catch up on their sleep. Filed by state Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican, the bill would make it impossible for any Florida high schools to begin the school day before 8 a.m. starting with the 2014-2015 school year, reports the Tampa Tribune. A recent Education Week story highlighted this issue, with a look at some research on the subject and efforts to highlight the value of later start times. Sleep deprivation is considered a widespread health problem for adolescents, it notes. While the exact benefits of adequate sleep are hard to pinpoint, a May 2012 study found that, for middle school students in Wake County, N.C., a later start time correlated with a 2 to 3 percentile point jump in standardized math and reading test scores. According to the Education Week story, experts recommend that high-school-age young people get around nine ho

Ed Reform and NY State

New York State, and in particular, NYC, is a great place to consider what has happened and what changes may be coming for ed reform.  Call it the ghost of ed reform today, the future and, of course, the past.   NYC - the ghost of ed reform in the future Naturally, all the change in how NYC will based on new mayor-elect, Bill de Blasio.  Here's a selection of what he pledged during the campaign from NYC Public School Parents :

Talking about Teaching Math

 Update:  some of you may have missed the link below to a video of a kindergarten teacher teaching math via Common Core standards.  I'm putting it in this thread as well. New York State's Education department has a website to promote its work called EngageNY .   @The Chalk Face education blog has a story on Common Core videos that are being used.  I personally found the one in the story - for kindergarteners - to be somewhat disturbing.  There is something so mechanical and detached about the way this teacher is providing the teaching.  I also learned that there's two ways to think/learn about math.  The teacher does not state the name of the first way (as she starts) but she calls the second way, "the math way." Can a teacher or someone who knows about teaching math explain why the students would need to learn to think of math in two different ways? What is interesting as well are the comments to this story.  Is warmth and engagement just as imp

Friday Open Thread

Interesting news about the necessity of dental X-rays for kids from the Los Angeles Times.   The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Chicago Public Schools is making computer science a core subject.   In the next three years, every high school will offer a foundational computer science course, and within five years, CPS plans to be the first urban district offering kindergarten through eighth-grade computer courses, officials said. “The new bilingual is knowing computer code writing, and what we’re setting up today, while it’s a good foundation, the fact is that in the UK and in China, computer science and computer coding is now fundamental to elementary school education, and we’re playing catch-up to that effort,” the mayor added. The Chicago Teachers Union said the initiative partnering with the nonprofit for free computer science curriculum and teacher training is positive on its face, but pointed out most schools still struggle for basic resources.

Fighting the Good Fight

It's nice to see that more and more people - especially educators - are rising up to fight back against ed reform that does not work. John Kuhn , is the superintendent of Perrin-Whitt School district in Texas, and gave a rousing speech - back in 2011 - that's a bit of a foretelling of what educators are finally understanding. From the speech: The poorest Americans need equity, but our nation offers them accountability instead. They need bread, but we give them a stone. We address the soft bigotry of low expectations so that we may ignore the hard racism of inequity . Standardized tests are a poor substitute for justice.  So I say to Arne Duncan and President Obama, go ahead and label me. I will march headlong into the teeth of your horrific blame machine and I will teach these kids. You give me my scarlet letter and I will wear it proudly, because I will never cull the children who need education the most so that my precious scores will rise.  I will not race t

U.S. Government Reports on Santa Claus

For all American kids: NORAD , the Northern American Aerospace Defense Command, has this Santa tracker .  Santa IS on his way (apparently over Mount Everest at this time - thank goodness he dresses for the weather). From Wiki: NORAD Tracks Santa is an annual Christmas -themed entertainment program, which has existed since 1955, [1] produced under the auspices of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Every year on Christmas Eve , "NORAD Tracks Santa" purports to track Santa Claus as he leaves the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world. Also, the USDA , United States Department of Agriculture, has issued a special livestock permit to Mr. S. Clause to allow all his reindeer into U.S. territory.  In the spirit of the season, they have waived the normal application fees and disease testing for his reindeer. To all our readers, thank you for your support of public education and this blog.  Merry Christmas and happy holidays to a

Washington State Charter School Applications to be Posted Monday

From The News Tribune : The state Charter School Commission received 19 applications from 18 organizations hoping to launch the type of alternative public schools that already exists in most other states. Also Monday, teams of experts hired by the state commission will start poring over the extensive applications, which include details such as curriculum and instructional models, background information about school leaders and members of each school’s governing board, projected enrollments, plans for serving students with special needs and a school discipline policy. The commission plans to hold public forums in January, when charter applicants, parents and others can offer comments on the proposed charters. Dates and locations for those forums are to be discussed at Thursday’s commission meeting. Read more here: Read more here:

Seattle Schools Looking for New Tech Director

SPS is looking to hire a new Director of Project Management (basically a tech director) with a fairly wide-ranging salary (from $94k to $142k annually). 

I'm From the West; How about You?

Fun quiz that you and your family might enjoy (especially if you and your partner are from different places in the country) - from the NY Times, a dialect finder .  What I found interesting is that I hesitated in a couple of places because words/phrases I used in my childhood, I don't always use now because I live somewhere else.  But soda is always soda to me.

Potpourri of Parenting Stories

No "This Week in Seattle Schools" today.  Instead a round-up of stories - happy and sad - about parenting. Let's go with happy first (and you can skip sad if you want to). What to do over the holidays (unlike the Times, I'll try to give you the free/low-cost stuff): visit the Gingerbread Villlage at the Sheraton, 1400 Sixth Avenue. Donations accepted for Juvenile Diabetes. Free. Seattle Center Winterfest.   Lots of activities, not open on Christmas.  Free. Holiday Carousel at Westlake.  Fee. Model Train Festival in Tacoma at the Washington State History Museum.  Fee. Seattle Public Library events today and tomorrow.  Libraries are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.   Note: on Friday, December 27th/December 28th there is a Children's film festival of animated short films at the Central Library.  I recommend a walk around Green Lake to look for bald eagles and blue herons.  The bald eagles can sometimes be found way up top the highest trees.  The

Yoo Hoo, Seattle Times and OSPI - See You in the New Year

I called and left a message for two different people at OSPI today to get a comment about OSPI signing an agreement with the Seattle Times for student and teacher data (it was November 13, 2013 to be exact).  No one called back. I called and talked to Jim Simon, who is the managing editor at the Times.  He's very busy, says that KUOW got it wrong on the personally identifiable student or staff-related data and they were preparing a statement.  That was about 10 am this morning and yet, the Times remains silent, both in sending anything out via e-mail or at their newspaper. ( Update: Mr. Simon phoned me late Friday afternoon.  He told me that they had talked to KUOW about the inaccuracy of their story in saying that personally identifiable information would be given to the Times via the agreement with OSPI.  He said it was a "significant" update.  I told him that was his view because, while the update is true, it does not mean that students could not be identified ot

Seattle Schools and Transportation

Apparently, I did not hear/understand Bob Westgard of SPS Logistics correctly yesterday in my reporting on coming changes in transportation.  First, the total number of students that may be impacted is 1,000 with under 300 being students at Option schools.  Second, the standardization of times are for ARRIVAL, not bell times.  Here's the handouts: Transportation Service Standards 2014-2015Here's the section on Option Elementary/K-8 Schools   4. Option Elementary / K-8 Schools – Option School Elementary and K-8 students whose transportation service address is within the boundaries of their service area or linked service area and outside of the designated walk boundaries are eligible for transportation. District arranged transportation is provided for those students attending an elementary or K-8 Option School in their service area or linked service area. ORCA cards may be provided for 6th through 8th grade students who live within the boundaries of Seattle Public School

Common Core Roundup

Hey, former Governor Mike Huckabee - remember him - says to FOX News recently " Common Core is dead."   Well, not so fast, Mike. The Girl Scouts  and the American Girl dolls series don't think so.  Why?  Because : The American Girl dolls, long a fun way for little girls to immerse themselves in play associated with American history and culture, have now met Common Core . A new American Girl doll school backpack set comes complete with everything a doll will need in school, including a Common Core-aligned math textbook , published by Common Core industry giant Pearson—the same Pearson whose charitable foundation is paying a settlement of $7 million for allegations of illegally helping its corporate parent develop Common Core-aligned courses.  If a young girl doesn’t get enough Common Core in school, she can also be exposed to the new standards at her next Girl Scout meeting . According to the Girl Scouts , “the content of all Girl Scout national proficiency ba

Friday Open Thread

Seattle Schools running 2 hours late (but being parents, you already know that). I have seen no statement from the Seattle Times or OSPI on their student data sharing agreement to share Seattle students' data.  Nothing like a newspaper not reporting the news.   Want to let Randy Dorn at OSPI know? Randy I. Dorn (360) 725-6004  I promise to write a wrap-up of the Operations Committee meeting of yesterday because some fairly major things were announced.  Transportation is desperate to save money and in the name of that effort: 1. bell times could change for about 21 elementaries, 5 regular K-8s, 5 Option K-8s, 1 middle school and 4 high schools.  It's not a significant change for the overwhelming majority. but there will be a change. 2. There could be transportation changes affecting up to 1300 students in the district.  The most basic change would be for Option students who would be told that transportation will no longer be given and you hav

Ed Reform - Who Are These People? Part One

A reader asked a simple question - who are the ed reformers?  That's a more complicated question than it seems.  But let's break it down by who's who nationally, at the state level and in our city.  Let me just say that there are education bloggers out there who have done the lion's share of work to compile this information so credit goes to them.  The real top gun is, of course, the Gates Foundation .   Nearly every single ed reform flows from their money in one way or another.  They even help fund the also-wealthy Broad Foundation (another major player).  The third member of this trifecta would be Alice Walton of the Walton Foundation (but I think she gets her guidance from Gates).  (The Gates Foundation just got a brand-new CEO and most of her qualifications seem to be on the health-care end - at least that how the Times touted her - but she seems to have some background in education.  No matter - she's not going to be directing any education ideas at the

Seattle Times and OSPI Sign Deal for SPS Student Data

I learned of this yesterday but was waiting.  KUOW has done a good job showing the issues around student data privacy. To note: - To be clear, SPS did NOT know this was happening and was not asked. - No data has been released as of today. - OSPI said the data it planned to give the Times is not available through a public records request. From the KUOW story: KUOW obtained a copy of the two-year agreement between the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and The Seattle Times, signed last month, which authorizes eight Times journalists to work with, but not publish, confidential student and staff information, including names and Social Security numbers.   "Wow," said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda. "I wasn't aware of [this agreement], and I don’t think any of my staff was aware that this was being considered and approved." "This is really disconcerting for us, because we've been assuring families

Seattle School Board Operations Committee - Could Be Interesting

The agenda for the Board's Operations Committee meeting was finally posted yesterday and now, updated today.  I'm hoping to see the new Board members there as this is the last committee meeting for the year and a good way to get up-to-speed.  What will they be talking about? a c ontract modification for a company called Brainbox Consulting .* 2014-2015 Transportation Service Standards .  This could be important as the Work Session yesterday on the budget had some wording on transportation and grandfathering in their presentation that I didn't understand.  (I was unable to attend the Work Session and am only working off what was in the presentation.)   Annual Capacity Management 2014-2015 - moved from being an update to an action report newly added - High School Target Enrollments from Tracy Libros and, as an update, the bell times survey *Their Linked-in page says:  Brainbox Consulting is a Seattle-based business intelligence consulting firm specializing in de

The Times and Their Charter School Push

The Times continues its march towards becoming less of a newspaper and more of an mouthpiece for ed reform. Folks, I have personally heard from a number of Times' editors/writers who continue to claim that there is a solid wall between editorial and reporting.  That may be true in some areas but that is not true for education reporting especially on ed reform.  What do they do? - they lean the reporting towards ed reform, doing things like only getting a comment from an ed reform person and not anyone directed associated with the opposition.  This has happened several times. - they mislead readers (see Lynne Varner saying that the Washington State Charter Schools Association will "review" the charter applications which would lead the average reader to believe the WSCSA will be the ones picking the winners.  They aren't - it's the Washington State Charter Commission (and the lone district authorizer, Spokane) who will decide but Varner doesn't mention t

And We'll Never Be Royals

I had posted a link to a 5-part series at the New York Times that followed a young girl and her homeless family living in NYC.  It is devastating reading. Mayor Bloomberg weighed in.  Now, he has the biggest city in the country to run and I absolutely don't expect everything to work well particularly for the poor if only because that's not the way of the world.  But a certain level of sanitation and safety, especially in shelters with babies and children, is a must.  He said nothing about the issues raised in the story about those problems. What he said was this: Mayor Bloomberg responds to the Dasani article in the New York Times: “It’s fair to say that New York City has done more than any city to help the homeless and we should be very proud of that,” declared the mayor, who went on to express optimism that the city’s public schools system would help Dasani break the cycle of poverty. “This kid was dealt a bad hand. I don’t know quite why. That’s just the way God works

Standardized Public Education

In his recent thread on the outlines of what ed reform is pushing for, Charlie included this in a comment as another facet: Standardized Curriculum - Reformers push the idea of standardized curricula, not only across classrooms within a school, but across schools within a district, across districts within a state, and, with the Common Core, across all states in the country. Standardized Curricula leads directly to standardized instruction - teachers essentially working off a script and pacing guide and being judged on their "fidelity of implementation". This boils down to every classroom in the country being on page 56 on the same day. This includes the ideas of vertical and horizontal articulation. Not only does this rob teachers of their autonomy and thereby de-professionalize teaching, but it is antithetical to differentiated instruction and therefore it worsens education for students. This is the first step towards delivering teaching through some process o

Washington State and Transparency in Public Records/Meetings

From Representative Gerry Pollet: I will be prime sponsor in House of AG Bob Ferguson's open government agenda bill (HB 2121). We've spent the past year collaborating and refining the bill to require that public officials take an on-line training to learn their obligations to the public to meet in open public meetings, and ensure that the public has access to public records . Watch the AG's news conference here from TVW.  I will also be introducing a constitutional amendment to undo the recent State Supreme C ourt decision giving Nixon-like Executive Privilege to the Governor to hide public records and corporate lobbying (the decision was not about Gov Inslee, who pledges not to claim Executive Privilege).  The 3rd piece of my open government agenda is HB 1197 to guarantee that you have a right to comment at a city / county or other council or state agency board meeting BEFORE the council or agency takes action. Many councils and board don't take

Tuesday Open Thread

A fairly definitive list of every Christmas movie and tv show made.   It would be a hard choice to decide which is the "best" but I'd go with It's a Wonderful Life (for drama), A Christmas Story (comedy) and Die Hard (for action).  According to the LA Times , Governor Jerry Brown of California, pushing back against standardized testing, says he is still "haunted" by a final exam he took in high school (and one particular question). If you have not read this 5-part series on a homeless girl in the NY Times , it's very good (and sobering) reading. What's on your mind?

It's about the money

Here is a comment, pulled out as the start of a new thread. My review of the proposals made by Education Reform Organizations shows that all of their efforts, in the end, are either about reducing the costs of education - and therefore keeping a few tax dollars in their pockets - or about directing some of those tax dollars into their friends' pockets. It's all about their money, not the students. I wish someone could prove me wrong about that.

If You Care about K-5 Math in Seattle Public Schools...

...then get down to the John Stanford Center and review the proposed ideas for math. From the district: GIVE US YOUR INPUT! First Phase of Adoption Reviews: Seven new Mathematics programs for Kindergarten through Grade 5 use are on display in the Professional Library on the second floor of the John Stanford Center. These are the textual materials that are being reviewed by our Adoption Committee for potential use by the district in the coming years. You may visit the display of materials any time that the Stanford Center is open between now and January 8, 2014. There are Public Review Forms if you wish to add comments or suggestions for the committee’s consideration. Please use your voice to help us choose new Math materials for our elementary students. THE NEXT SCHEDULED MEETING OF THE K-5 MATH ADOPTION COMMITTEE IS: Thursday, December 19, 2013, 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM in the Professional Library of the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence. Two things to consider: - o

Dear Santa


Washington State Charter Schools - To Be Clear on the King County Ruling

First, the Seattle Times continues to try to use smoke and mirrors on their readers on this issue. Their latest editorial's headline says "A charter schools victory at the state Supreme Court."  The reality?  It was a decision by a King County court (although, yes, it is very likely to head to the Supreme Court).  This, like Lynne Varner's statement in her opinion piece that it is the Gates' puppet charter group that will review charter applications, is a gross error that should be correct and yet, the Times is allowing both to stand. Very bad journalistic form and it points to their agenda in both reporting and editorializing. I also want to put in Charlie's very cogent statement on the ruling which is exactly how I read it as well (and, as he points out, has not been refuted by the state attorney general's office): Just to be completely clear, the judge specifically ruled that charter schools - when and if they are created - will not be com

Seattle Schools This Week

 Monday, December 16th   Seattle Special Education PTSA Meeting, 7 pm at Rm 2700, School District main offices at 2445 3rd Ave S (3rd and Lander). Tuesday, December 17th Audit&Finance Committee Meeting (Quarterly Audit Meeting) from 4-6 p.m.  Agenda . Wednesday, December 18th Work Session: Budget, WSS, and Transportation from 4-7 p.m.  Agenda I see some troubling and yet vital info in this presentation but I think that will be a separate thread. JAMS meeting from at the Jane Addams library at 6:30 p.m.  Thursday, December 19th Operations Committee Meeting from 4-6 pm.  Agenda not yet available. Saturday, December 21st Community meeting with Director Patu (yes, this is still on) from 10 am to noon at Cafe Vita.

JAMS Meetings; Past and Present

I know there was a JAMS meeting on December 11th and someone requested a thread to talk about that one. Also, there is another Jane Addams' Middle School "launch/intro" at the JAMS library this Wednesday Dec. 18th at 6:30pm. Meet the wonderful principal, Paula Montgomery, and hear about the exciting work being done. Lots of Q&A, and a tour of JAMS too!

More Diversity for Non-Profits Workshop

From United Way of King County (please forward if you know people who are interesting in learning more): Project LEAD: Why is everybody white? A challenge for more diversity on nonprofit boards United Way of King County is recruiting people of color for the 2014 session of Project LEAD (Leadership, Effectiveness and Diversity) and we need your help to get the word out. The application deadline is Wednesday, December 18th, 2013. More information on Project LEAD, including the class schedule and application is available here .

Real Education Reform

I am an opponent of corporatist, millionaire- and billionaire-backed Education Reform, but I am no supporter of the status quo. I want to see radical change in our public education system, just not the changes that the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, or the WalMart heirs support. I support changes that directly address the failures in the system and are proven effective. So, just to make it perfectly clear, I will list a number of education reforms that I absolutely support. These reforms address the fundamental flaws in our education system. And what are those flaws? Our schools, here in Seattle and across the country, do a great job of educating students who come to them prepared, supported, and motivated. They always have. However, our schools, here in Seattle and across the country, do a dreadful job of educating students who arrive at school without preparation, support, or motivation. They always have. The solution, to me, is obvious: We - as a society - must prov

The Times Doubles Down for Charters

Let's review the Times coverage of the Washington charter school law this week. On the charter law court ruling, they manage to confuse readers with two different headlines but settled on one that makes it sound like it was upheld but " questions remain."    Then, they only quote the pro-charter side  (going to their go-to source, Lisa Macfarlane).   They do quote the plaintiffs' lawyer but that's not the same as going to sources who oppose charters (like some of the actual plaintiffs). Next comes Lynne Varner and other mistake-ridden education opinion along with her usual shot at the teachers' union. First, she hilariously says that Judge Rietschel's opinion is "antiquated" because it comes from our "constitutional framers."  (I'm guessing that she would never agree with Supreme Court justice Scalia who is a strict constitutionalist.)  The problem is that we have the Constitution that exists and until that is changed, she

Friday Open Thread

Anyone who has given thought to Common Core standards and has a opinion you might want to pass along/talk about, please shoot me an e-mail at   I'll forward your e-mail on.  Please send it to me by noon if possible. Haven't checked other news sources but I suspect the charter law decision is generating a lot of discussion. Both Board Director community meetings (Carr and Martin-Morris) are cancelled for tomorrow. What's on your mind?

Washington State Charter Law; Kinda, Sorta Overturned

Someone, quick, get me a lawyer! Naturally, I go out of town and this ruling comes down and I am scrambling to get info and understand it. Here is the basic understanding of Judge Rietschel's ruling per Diane Ravitch: “ In a ruling issued today (pdf), King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel has tossed out the heart of Washington State’s charter schools law on the grounds that it violates the constitutional provision that state education revenues be “exclusively applied to the support of the common schools.” “But, Judge Rietschel concludes: “ A charter school cannot be defined as a common school because it is not under the control of the voters of the school district. The statute places control under a private non-profit organization, a local charter board and/or the Charter Commission.” “In other words, charter schools may not be funded with state dollars dedicated to funding our state’s common schools.” That last part is the key.  She said that under the co

Oregon Bans Online School Operator for Life (but not Washington State)

In one of those likely "it's only a matter of time" stories, The Oregonian reports that Tim King, who is a charter school chain operator in Oregon was recently banned - for life -in a court settlement from ever "running, advising, or otherwise getting financially involved with any charter school in Oregon."   He and a partner also must pay the state of Oregon $475k and dismantle their schools. You can imagine the repercussions to students and parents at those schools. The pair had been accused of engaging in "racketeering, money laundering and other fraud in operating charter schools in Oregon from 2007-2010." The Oregon DOJ had initially wanted $20M but backed off because "the state now believes most of the $17M that went to them was legitimately used to educate" Oregon students.   The Oregon Department of Education provided start-up grants of up to $450,000 per charter school. It also paid about $6,000 a year for each student enro

Seattle School Board Retreat Wrap-Up

The Board retreat was last Saturday.  I was one of two observers along with reader Cecilia. As I previously mentioned, I felt a lot of good energy and reason for hope from this new team.  There were a couple of people around the table that felt the need to point out how many new people there were but there is nothing to be done except regroup and move on.  Rapid turnover is not good for any organization but I personally feel this is a good team (as does the Superintendent). I also mentioned a couple of things that the Superintendent said that stuck out.  One, that staff needs to not be overloaded because they have a lot on their plates already.  He said, " our system lends itself to that..."  He said "If we want to hold onto people, we need to set aside peripheral things and work on specifics."   I agree BUT the Board has to be able to ask for data and discussion so they can do their work.   More on this later on in the discussion. There was a survey done o

Education News Roundup

A great story from Huffington Post on the " Buddy Bench ."   Second-grader Christian Bucks, of York, Pa., knew that some of his classmates felt lonely during recess , and he decided to do something about it. His simple, utterly heartwarming solution was to install a playground "buddy bench."  As reported by the York Daily Record, a buddy bench is a designated seating area where students feeling lonely or upset can seek camaraderie . The area is customarily painted in bright, inviting colors. Christian told the Record that he hopes the bench will help "grow our dream circle of friends." Next up in what's coming up in the next Legislative session .  For education, it'll be more of the same from Senator Tom & Company.  From the Times: The state Senate majority caucus congratulated itself Tuesday for surviving a year and vowed to pursue legislation that did not pass last session, including changes to K-12 education and workers com

Clarity around the title "interim"

Seattle Public Schools bureaucrats love to play word games. Their favorite word game is to re-define words. They do it for a variety of reasons. They have re-defined "task force" and "advisory committee" to evade control by Board policy. They have re-defined "program" and "service" to expand superintendent authority. They have changed the definition of "curriculum" at least six times to confuse the Board and discredit activists. Today we learn the new, revised meaning of the word "interim". A person appointed to a position on an interim basis has the job for a year. The interim appointee gets a mid-year review and, if they pass that review, they are appointed to the job on a continuing basis. For example, interim principals are appointed to schools without any consultation with the school community. That interim principal gets a mid-year evaluation and, with a positive evaluation, they are then appointed as the full principa

West Seattle High Student Fends Off Would-Be Attacker Outside School

From the West Seattle Blog: "1:58 PM: Seattle Police are searching for a man reported to have jumped out of the bushes near the east side of West Seattle High School , in the Walnut/Stevens vicinity. Police say the man was reported to have grabbed the arm of a passing female, who hit him and ran into the school. Police were not able to tell us if she is a student. She was not hurt. The man was described as white, 30s-40s, medium build, about 5-11, in a blue zipup jacket and black pants. 2:06 PM UPDATE: Right after we talked with SPD media-relations Det. Jeff Kappel about this incident, which we had heard on the scanner, SPD mentioned it on Twitter and described the victim as a student. ( Added: The SPD Blotter version pulls back on that but says she’s 16.) 2:43 PM UPDATE: Here’s principal Ruth Medsker ‘s note just sent to WSHS families, forwarded to us by a parent: Today, one of our students was off campus during lunch when she was grabbed by a male strange

New Seattle Schools PTA/PTO Resource Page

This new webpage at SPS is a welcome addition.  It has an FAQ page (chock-full of info), Building Rentals page and a Contacts page.  The main page, called PTSA/PTO Resources, also has links for forms/documents, policies and procedures and info for various groups/individuals.  I am also glad to see PTOs given the same rank and recognition as PTA/PTSAs.  It's the right thing to do. 

No Grandfathering for Grades 6/7 at Hamilton or Eckstein Next Year

From the Superintendent: Dear Seattle Public Schools families and staff, As many of you know, the Seattle School Board on Nov. 20 approved boundary changes for the 2014-15 school year to help address our growing enrollment and to plan for three new middle schools. We have heard from several families -- especially from parents of 7th grade Hamilton International Middle School APP students and parents of Eckstein Middle School 7th graders – asking that their students stay at their current school next year, and not move to the new Jane Addams Middle School (JAMS). However, we will not be “grandfathering” – or guaranteeing a seat – for students who are currently in grade 6 or 7 at Hamilton and Eckstein. The new boundary changes mean these students will move to Jane Addams Middle School next fall.  I understand it is a lot to ask of our students to change schools in their last year of middle school. Please know that we do not take decisions like this lightly. When