Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Open Thread

For the artists in your house, two guys, feet, a rake and some unusual mediums to work in.  A thing of beauty is not always a joy forever.
Saturday Community meeting - Director Sue Peters' first one at Queen Anne library from 11 am to 12:30 pm.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

High School Students - Input Wanted on Next Police Chief

Got a politically-minded high schooler with some time on his/her hands? From Publicola:

Two of the most important members, in our opinion, of Mayor Ed Murray's police chief-search Community Advisory Committee, Franklin High School's Isaiah Bridges and Garfield High School's Jabari Cook—a pair of African American South End high school students in a city where the SPD has a strained relationship with young African American men in southeast Seattle—are no longer on the committee. 

Mayor's office spokeswoman Roz Brazel simply told us the students "were not able to keep their commitments...due to permission and contact issues."

We've asked for more clarity.

The mayor's office is currently trying to find replacements for the two committee members with a "goal" of appointing two more students.

Give the Mayor a call, (206) 684-4000.

Washington State Charter Commission Meeting - Part Three

Trying to keep up; details to come.

Also to note; the Times has not had one piece of news on this.  Again, quite strange.

Seventh application - First Place - an existing K-5 school for students with trauma, approved 8-0.

Eighth application - Green Dot - approved 7-0 with one abstaining vote

Ninth application - King County Academy - denied 8-0

Tenth application - Out of the Box - denied 8-0 

Eleventh application - Pioneer School - denied 7-0, one abstaining vote

Twelfth application - Rainier Prep - approved 8-0 

Thirteenth application - SOAR Academy - approved 8-0 - first vote to go against evaluators recommendation to deny.  Commissioner Dziko fought hard for this one and it came in with a condition to redo a budget with some vagueness and seemingly high number of adminstrators.

Fourteenth application - Sports in Schools, coming up

Rave and Rant for Classroom Issues

Hearing from parents about classroom issues like homework.  Below are two comments (off-topic in Math Adoption thread) and we have heard enough of these to warrant their own thread.

Rant and rave away - please DO state things you like in your child's classroom as well as any concerns/unhappiness.

WA State Charter Commission Mtg - Part Two

First application - CAL Elementary - is denied, 8-0.  Commissioners cited the evaluators' "deny" and noted not financially ready with little community support/input.

Second application - Cedar River - is denied, 8-0. 

Third application - Coral Academy of Science - the probable Gulen-based charter - is denied, 8-0.

Cyndi Willams, Commissioner said it was a good application but not wide-ranging for a 10-year existing school group and that the Commission had made a real decision with charter applications with groups with prior models to look at their outcomes for evidence.  They also left out Title I dollars in finances and that showed a "real lack of knowledge."
Steve Sundquist said that the group could be Gulen and it was something they could look into in the future.

Fourth application - Evergreen Academy - denied 8-0.

Fifth application - Excel - is first Charter Commission approved charter application but with a 6-2 vote.

 Extensive discussion over this one on two main issues.  Commissioner McGuire cited concerns over heavily structured day (down to how students are greeted and answer back at the door) and discipline.  Another issue is the citation by Excel as getting a loan for $500k.  A condition is attached that Excel assures that the loan is not secured by public funds, either now in the future per RCW. If so, they must be able to show an alternative source.  As well, 50% of teacher evaluation is based on student scores. Vigorous discussion around discipline issues as well as teacher issues (including merit pay).

Sixth application - First Place - approved, 7-0 (with one abstaining by Larry Wright)
Substantial discussion around making sure that First Place, already a K-5 school serving students experiencing trauma, would be sure to follow the McKinney-Veto federal law around serving homeless students.  Assurances that they have been and follow per OSPI.

Live Blogging from Charter Commission Meeting

Starting out a bit disorganized with several people lost.  But meeting appears to be starting on-time.

Eight members of the CC are present (Doreen Cato has a health issue and is not going to be here - what that might mean for any given charter is unknown).

President Steve Sundquist says law makes this process  "complicated."   If denial, must have reasons. If approved, attach any "conditions"  (if any). Make resolution to pass each itemand all work done in public.

Public Comment

Again, with this lottery process to speak.   I still think it is wrong because it allows some charters to be heard and some not to be heard.  As well, you get nothing from the public.

Sunnyside Academy, that narrowly missed the "approved" cut, is pleading their case to be approved with conditions.  (Their financials were not up to par.)  They say they can narrow their enrollment numbers so that can raise the funds.  They had 2 speakers.

SOAR is pleading that their application was not properly reviewed and there are inaccuracies.  They say they got dinged for saying they would use levy dollars in year three which is legal (true but if the levy didn't pass, they would not have those funds).  They also say the evaluators say they have no fundraising ability and yet SOAR says they have two fundraisers on the Board including one professional fundraiser.  They want to approved this year and not have to apply again.   They say they have met the rubric.  They had 4 speakers.

Pioneer (Evergreen) is pointing out that innovation isn't something that can be necessarily measured.  Says report is "biased" against them and that some reporter (didn't name newspaper) that has a bias against military-related schools had filed a story against them.   Say errors of fact and errors of omission in the evaluation.  (Report says they are not financially stable.)  One of co-founders said she was "offended" by evaluation.  Says Oregon is the anarchist capital of the Northwest and that's why some people there don't like them.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ballard High Teachers Say Yes to Later Start

 From one Ballard teacher (via Facebook):

Educators at Ballard HS voted today on a motion regarding moving the High School start times to a later time (switching with elementary). The vote was UNANIMOUS in support of the motion. The research, by the way, is also unanimous. Students learn better later in the morning.

Seattle Schools Math Adoption - What is Going On?


First, here's a link to School Board policy (see top of chart "Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials").

To review, here's what we reported (via reader Rick B) in early January:

The top three programs are to be selected as finalists by Friday the 10th. Additional copies of these finalist programs will be ordered from publishers and distributed to ~5 locations around the city for formal public review and comment during the month of March.

Final selection of a single program will take place by the end of March, to be submitted to the SB for introduction Apr 23rd and approval May 7th. 

Clearly, those finalists have not been selected (or, at least, no announcement made).  The next meeting of the Math Adoption Committee is Feb. 7th so I would hope we would hear something then.

Also, SPS Communications reached out to us with the SPS Math Director, Anita Box.  She was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

The process seems to be about half done.  After the Committee picks three finalists, those three will then be announced and the public again allowed to review them and give input.  (I asked about trends from the public from the first round but that won't be available until the January minutes of the Adoption Committee.) 

What is interesting to me is that the final recommendation to the Board from the Adoption Committee IS the one that the Board will vote on.  I had it in my head that the three finalists when to Shauna Heath, head of C&I, and then she/other district officials decided on the finalist. 

Nope, Ms. Box said (and the policy backs that up) that the final choice of the Adoption Committee is the one submitted to the Board.  (And, that's what Rick B's remarks indicate as well.)

I reread the policy and the only kind of violation I see is this:

The adoption timeline will be posted on the Curriculum & Instruction website, and through any other method defined in the communication strategy. 

The timeline is not at the C&I website (and I would have expected to see it under Initiatives).

End of update.

There seems to be some mystery and oddities going on with the Math Adoption.

1) Many parents are asking - Where IS this process?  Who are the finalists for the new math adoption?

2) Then we have this letter from some teachers at Pathfinder saying that none of curricula are "adequate for preparing the high standards of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics."  This is surprising because no curricula could be selected that did not meet CC standards.   And that Pathfinder letter says that "there are curricula currently being developed" to meet CC "in its entirety" and yet they don't name it.  If it were that vital for the Board and the Math Adoption Committee to look at this issue, why not name the curricula?

The Math Committee did say that they did NOT want any math that was "CCS lite" but that it would have a "sincere" alignment to CC state standards for Math.  (Naturally, this is a moving target as no one state has had any real, long-term experience with teaching CC math standards.)

In a previous thread, I said what's the rush but I was wrong  I had just gone blank on how long math curriculum in SPS has been mostly bad for most students.  We need this new curriculum to meet the challenges of Common Core AND to help our students get the best possible math education they can.

I don't think a deadstop is a good idea.  

3) I am hearing rumblings that the final three picks coming from the Math Adoption Committee may not be the ones the district announces.

That could be a problem and if you want to make parents suspicious for any future curriculum adoption committees AND blow a hole in this one - then that's the way to do it.

4)  I know that one of the curricula was adopted by Highline.  One Board member told me that he/she had examined the choices and felt that there were definitely some fine ones in there.

I would love to hear from members of the Math Adoption Committee (either in Comments or at

I Asked - Do You? (about guns at home)

From Washington Ceasefire:

ASKing-Saves-Kids-472x1024.jpgAsking Saves Kids (ASK) - Washington is a public safety education campaign aimed at encouraging inquiry by parents and neighbors about guns in homes where their children play. Our goal is to persuade parents that this conversation—to ensure that their kids play in a gun safe environment—is an essential parental responsibility.

Despite the very real dangers of guns in proximity to children, pro-active dialogue is necessary due to the often delicate nature of any conversation in this country involving guns. Thus, this effort does not interfere with nor infringe upon anyone’s right to legally possess a gun, but normalizes parent responsibility to ask and make an informed decision that where their children play is safe.

The conversation is worth the effort given that ten children a day in this country under the age of 18 are killed or injured in the home with a gun. An estimated 40% of homes in the US (and in Washington State) have guns. A recent study by King County Public Health found there are at least 5,000 homes in the county with children and unlocked guns.

Our strategy in changing parental behavior is: 1) to highlight those instances where a gun in the home resulted in a tragedy involving a child, and 2) to impress upon parents that ensuring their child’s safety trumps any inconvenience or discomfort in neighbor to neighbor conversation. Central to the ASK program is educating and supporting parents in making the most tactful outreach possible to minimize awkwardness and maintain neighborly relationships.

I did this since the time my children were small. It's not the easiest of conversations but I would just ask parents is they had guns in their home.

Seattle Schools Updates Fieldtrip Volunteer Policy

(Editor's note - the district is making a distinct difference here between oversight chaperones and day fieldtrip volunteers - I believe that may be what "A" and "B" volunteer categories are but I have a call into SPS about that.)

From SPS Communications:

To ensure the safety of our students and volunteers, Seattle Public Schools has updated our Volunteer Administrative Procedures, including certain instances where fingerprinting will now be required.

Starting Feb. 1, schools should follow these procedures:
    • As previously required, all overnight field trip chaperones must be screened via the WATCH (Washington Access to Criminal History) check.
    • Any overnight field trip chaperones living continuously in Washington state for more than two years shall not be required to be fingerprinted; clearance via WATCH (Washington Access To Criminal History) shall suffice.
    However, if a prospective chaperone cannot provide verification of a two-year residency in Washington, fingerprinting will be required.

    • Verification of continuous residence may include: drivers license, insurance documents, utility bills, rental agreements, mortgage statements, property tax statements, or employment verification.

    For the remainder of this school year (2013-14), the District will not require any volunteer chaperones to pay for their own fingerprinting.

    Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, we expect schools to include the fingerprint fees – if any chaperones require fingerprinting – with their other field trip costs. 

      o We understand that even spreading costs among all participants may make participating in overnight field trips difficult for low-income families to participate.
      o We will be conducting some outreach to explore this impact and follow up with you prior to the beginning of the 2014-15 school year to share how we will address these equity concerns.
    • All volunteers are required to read and sign the volunteer handbook, complete an online training course related to Adult Sexual Misconduct Prevention located on the volunteer Web page: http://bit.ly/SPS-Volunteering, and submit results of training to the school volunteer coordinator and the Volunteer Management Department beginning Feb. 1, 2014.

    • All Category “A” and Category “B” volunteers will continue to follow the current Administrative Procedures and guidelines listed on the Volunteer internal website: http://volunteer.mysps.seattleschools.org.
We know that the role volunteers perform in schools is vital to the success of student learning. Seattle Public Schools serves a highly diversified community and a strong volunteer program will help us meet three goals outlined in the Strategic Plan 2013-2018:
    • Ensure educational excellence and equity for every student.
    • Improve systems Districtwide to support academic outcomes and meet students’ needs.
    • Strengthen school, family and community engagement.
Schools partner with volunteers in a variety of ways. Your school’s designated site coordinator keeps our students safe and helps reduce the District’s risk and liability by correctly and consistently screening volunteers. It is very important for each school’s safety to ensure compliance with District Policy No. 5630 (Volunteering).

For a complete list of updates and details changes to our Volunteer Administrative Procedures, please visit our internal website: http://volunteer.mysps.seattleschools.org.

Kid President Gives Us All a Pep Talk

This kid is great - listen up students (and everybody's a teacher).

Get your learn on!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seattle Times - A Confusing Place for Ed Information


First, still nothing about the charter applicants and the upcoming Charter Commission meeting.  Still odd.

Second, there was an article this morning. about public school funding throughout the country that may give some insight into why our state legislature drags its feet on fully-funding education.  To whit:
  • nearly all states doubled or tripled the amount of money spent on public schools from 1970 to 2010; but the growth has been uneven
  • But the biggest per student spending has been in nine states, with seven of those in the NE
  • Seven of ten states with the least growth in spending are - you guessed - in the West and yes, Washington State is one of them.
  • Despite what Washington Policy Center wants to tell you (they regularly say that the average WA State student spending is about $12k), according to Ed Week, Washington State spending is about $9,497 (adjusted for inflation from the 1969-70 rate of $4,794).   
  • The top six states spend about $15k.  The national average is about $10,643. 
  • Understand these stark figures (from the Washington Post) - NY state spends $18,167 per year: Utah, Idaho and Oklahoma spend less than $8,000 per year.
But here's my thinking about Washington State spending as you can see from the map below. 

(Credit: National Assessment of Educational Progress report.)
Credit: National Association of Educational Progress report
 Why should we spend more when, as the Times puts it, 

 Looking at the states that spend the most per student, six did better than the national average in 4th and 8th grade reading and math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).  
Washington appeared to be one of the few states were spending was BELOW average, but NAEP results were consistently ABOVE average.

Washington, despite not doing well for some minorities, gets a pretty good bang for the buck.  And that high rate of SAT participation (number one for the last several years) doesn't hurt.

Imagine if we were funded to even the national average.  Sigh.  A girl can dream.

End of update.

What's going on with the Times' reporting?  It's strangely crazy quilt.

Bingo (or Drinking Game Alert) for SOTUA

I used to have bingo sheets for School Board meetings (particularly when we had an ed reform superintendent that had every ed reform phrase in the arsenal).  It helped pass the time.

So in honor of tonight's State of the Union Address, here's a mock-up for your own "education" bingo sheet for the President's speech.

Possible words/phrase the President might use:

- choice
- college and career ready
- teacher
- data
- reform
- Duncan
- Common Core
- testing
- classroom
- schoolhouse
- early childhood learning
- teacher evaluation
- class size

Name your favorite.

Data Privacy Day

 From Stay Safe Online:

Data Privacy Day is an international effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy and control their digital footprint.

Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. Data Protection Day commemorates the January 28, 1981, signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. Data Privacy Day is now a celebration for everyone, observed annually on January 28. 

Data flows freely in today's online world. Everyone - from home computer users to multinational corporations - needs to be aware of the personal data others have entrusted to them and remain vigilant and proactive about protecting it. Being a good online citizen means practicing conscientious data stewardship. Data Privacy Day is an effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy, control their digital footprint, and make the protection of privacy and data a great priority in their lives.

Now this is a fascinating thing - this concern over our "digital footprint" because of NSA leaks, data breeches by the millions through businesses like Target and the latest survey from Common Sense Media.
  • 90% of adults are concerned about how non-educational interests are able to access and use students' personal information.

Gun Violence at Schools and Campuses; It Needs to Stop

As you may be aware, there are two competing initiatives going to the Legislature (and, in fact, going before a committee tomorrow). One is SI 591 - Protect our gun rights and the other is SI 594 gun sales background check.  Both are about background checks - one for and one against.  

You might want to consider contacting your own legislator on this issue.  

Look, do I think background checks for guns will prevent all gun violence?  Nope but it's a start (and, at this point, we need to start doing something). 

I think the bigger question - for our purposes of talking about gun violence in schools - is whether parents who own guns will have the common sense to secure them from their children.

 That seems to be quite a problem and for the life of me, I don't know why.  Guns and kids - of any age - do not go together.  (Hunting is different if it part of your family's culture and still, the weapon should be secured when not in use for hunting.)  It does NOT matter that the adult involved had no bad intent - it's just common sense.  

Do not for one minute think "it won't happen at my child's school."  We live in a country where almost any kind of gun violence is possible in any location.  I wish that were not so but the evidence is in our face almost every single day.

From Bill Moyers:

Tuesday Open Thread

Coming up on Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the MAP test boycott.  

It's also the day that SEE (Social Equality Educators) are introducing their "Respect' slate of candidates to challenge the current SEA leadership.  They are having a forum on Thursday at Garfield Community Center.   Lead by Jesse Hagopian, a Garfield teacher who was named "Secondary School Teacher of the Year" by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences, the group has a mix of current SEA Board of director members and award-winning and/or veteran educators.

The event starts at 4:30 pm and City Council member Kshama Sawant is scheduled to make an appearance.

What's on your mind?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Washington State Charters; Six to Be Recommended for Approval by Charter Commission


It seems there are three Charter Commission members with conflict of interest issues with charter applicants.  Two seem simple and one is quite problematic.

Trish Millines Dziko is in a leadership program with the founder of Summit.  That one is a big of a tough call to make because the relationship could be either just professional or just collegial but if not financial, I think she could vote.  On the other hand, if she's in their their program, she probably supports how they operate.

Chris Martin has some personal friendship with the founder of Pioneer.  I would say straight-up, no voting on that one.

The last one is that Larry Wright has taken a position with a non-profit funded by the Gates Foundation.  Not only do I think he would have to recuse himself on several applications, he probably should step down as a Commissioner.  Why?

1) Bill Gates funded most of I-1240.
2) The Gates Foundation is the primary funder of the Washington State Charter School Association who gave recommendations to the Commission. 
3) The Washington State Charter School Association also gave money to three applicants ($100k each probably from the Gates foundation) - SOAR, Rainier Prep and PRIDE Prep (which is not part of the Charter Commission group). 
4) The Gates Foundation is helping to create a capital fund group for charter schools.
5) The Gates Foundation is giving $4M to the Summit applicants.

That's a lot of connection to one group that is funding the organization that Mr. Wright will work for.

End of Update.

The evaluations of charter school applicants are into the Charter Commission and there are six recommended charters.  They are:
  • Excel - A high school to be located in Kent.  It met standards.  There is an issue with their financing as they wanted to get a line of capital credit that is not allowed by the law.  Apparently they are okay with not getting the line of credit and can find money elsewhere. 
  • First Place - An existing non-profit K-5 school in Seattle for children with families in crisis.  They met standards.  A big thumbs up from me as I have seen this school in action and THIS is what a charter is for, not just to have more schools.
  • Green Dot - A middle school to be located in Tacoma.  It exceeded standards in some areas and got high marks because of the existing Green Dot structure in California.  (They do mean to come into our area in a big way and, as I previously reported, they have no problem with conversions.)
  • Rainier Prep - A middle school (grades 5-8) in Highline/South King County.  They met standards.
  • Summit - Two high schools - both applications approved - one in Tacoma (Olympus) and one in South Seattle (Sierra).  Like Green Dot, a lot of approval because of their existing background in California.  Plus they have $4M of money muscle from the Gates Foundation (with more promised).  
Several of the applications were just dismal and the evaluations showed it.  The only one I got wrong - Out of the Box - got some encouraging words and could reapply.  Coral Academy, the Gulen charter applicant, was also denied but there were also encouraging words for them.

There were some disturbing items in some evaluations.
  • Pioneer School's evaluation stated that they did not seem to understand or comply with the existing charter law.  
  • Soar Academy's evaluation noted that by year five, they expected to have six administrative positions costing almost half a million dollars and their CEO would make $125,000.  All this for a 300-student school.
  • Sports in Schools' evaluation noted that they had little for Special Ed or ELL students.
  • Yakima Academy's evaluation noted that the governing board would be "off-site" and mostly out of Texas.  
One item to note, Excel's application had this notation about a facility on page 82:

Broker Support: Excel has worked with Mr. Matt Wickens from Wickens LLC to better understand the charter facility process and to develop the attached timeline. Mr. Wickens is currently consulting for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop the Washington State Charter School Facility Fund. Excel will strongly consider Mr. Wickens to serve as the school’s broker and developer. Please see Appendix 20: Facilities Documents for a description of the Facility Acquisition Timeline.

It would appear that there will only be one non-Puget Sound charter and that is Pride Prep over in the Spokane School district.   Seattle will have two, Tacoma two, South King County two.  That is a total of seven so unless the Charter Commission decides to override a recommendation, there will only be seven charters.  Four are coming from out-of-state charter operators and two are home-grown (First Place and Rainier Prep).

 All thoese great innovative charters out there in 40 other states and Washington State could only muster seven worthy applications?  Interesting. Maybe some were scared off by the challenge to the law. 

Washington State Charter Schools Update

Items of interest:

- the Charter Commission is going to have a phone-in meeting tomorrow, the 28th from 9 am to 10 am.  The agenda vaguely says " discussion of resolution process" and "bills currently under consideration."  Dial-in number is 800-245-9874, Access code 7784207.

- the Charter Commission will have a regular meeting this Thursday the 29th, in Seattle, from 8:30 am to 5:50 pm at TAF Headquarters, Bethaday Community Learning Space, 605 SW 108th St.  Agenda

This should be quite the meeting as the Commission will be announcing what charter applications have been approved (if any).  They seem to be expecting a crowded meeting as they will be putting in speaker spots by lottery (after sign-in).  (I'll have more to say about this public speaking process when I cover the charter applicant forums I attended.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why Do Students of Different Races Achieve as They Do?

In one heck of an op-ed by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld in the NY Times Sunday Review, they lay out their case for the three conflicting (somewhat) reasons why students in different groups perform the way they do.  The two authors have a book coming out called "The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America."

It's long but worth it (especially the comments).  The comments are widely different and you can see a lot of "right on" with "racist trash." 

One commenter asked a question, "A more pressing question for us here in the US is "What drives a successful SOCIETY?"  Is that the more important question - how we succeed as a society or as individuals? 

Another says: I think the authors have a very limited idea of what constitutes success--"income, test scores and so on." What's missing is emotional success: humanity, compassion, strong family ties, empathy.

Again, are we asking about societal success or individual success (and in that case, who defines "individual success?"

From the op-ed:

Merely stating the fact that certain groups do better than others — as measured by income, test scores and so on — is enough to provoke a firestorm in America today, and even charges of racism. The irony is that the facts actually debunk racial stereotypes.  

So who does better?

Seattle Schools This Week

A fairly quiet week in the district.

Monday, January 27th
Seattle Special Education PTSA General Meeting at 7pm. JSCEE Rm 2700.

Agenda includes program services and enrollment issues for 2014-2015.

Tuesday, January 28th
Community Meeting with Director McLaren from 8:45-10:15 am at Highland Park Elementary.

Thursday, January 30th
A day to note as the Washington State Charter Commission is to announce who passed muster to become part of the inaugural class of charter schools.  Spokane has already claimed one space so there are seven left.  The Commission does not have to fill all seven spaces but I suspect they will.  (A thread to come on the charter applicant forums I attended to come.)

Now what is puzzling to me, even as someone who knows the law, is if there are more than seven, will there be the run to the State Board of Education (where the approved applications are to be filed)?  And, if so, whoever gets there first, gets in.  I'll double-check with Charter Commission staff on this.

Work Session: Budget from 4-6 p.m.  Agenda (but no presentation available).
Well, as usual, there is a gap and they will have to figure out how to close it.  It's interesting because Director Blanford, who has been honest about what he doesn't know, stated at a Board meeting that he had no idea the district struggled with such a large budget gap.

I give him credit for admitting this but it is astonishing that he ran and had not looked into the budget for the last several years because then he would know this was the case.  I suspect his learning curve as a director is going to be greater than anticipated.
Work Session: Board Self-Evaluation from 6-7:30 pm Document.
In most ways, this effort is a good idea.  The Board has had issues of seeming confusion over their roles and who could blame them with both the Times and the Alliance for Education telling them what their roles are.  As well, there was a former director who stepped over the line, repeatedly for some unknown reason, in talking to the media about other Board members.

But this is a 24-page document that, on my reading, is just for the Board's use.  (Although I suspect it will be fodder for many an upcoming editorial in the Times.)  But I think this document is overwritten and I can't help but wonder if the Board didn't have a lot more important things to do.   But I hope they just approve this and move on.

Friday, January 31 
No School

Saturday, Feb. 1
Community Meeting with Director Peters from 11 am to 12:30 pm at Queen Anne Library.

To note there was to be an Advanced Learning Programs Task Force meeting this month but I could never ascertain when it was.  It is sad that these calendars are not part of the regular district calendar and are not kept up-to-date at their own webpage.   There is a Seattle Area Institute conference on Jan30-31 by Whitworth University's Center for Gifted Education at Shoreline Community College.  I suspect several Task Force members may be attending.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Highly Capable Services Delivery Model Task Force Nominations Open

The District is forming a task force to make recommendations to the superintendent on delivery model(s) for Highly Capable Services. This group will meet, investigate, discuss, and recommend the structure for the services that the District currently provides as APP.

Here is a link to the form for nominations for the Highly Capable Services Delivery Model Task Force.

Here is a link to the charge for the Task Force.

The charge seems to confuse the program, APP, with the service, Highly Capable Services. It's a common misunderstanding, but they are not synonymous. APP, the program, is the dominant delivery model for the service. Non-program delivery models are possible and, with the placement of highly capable services at Fairmount Park, necessary. Also, let's not forget that highly capable services are, purportedly, provided in Spectrum, in A.L.O.'s, and at Garfield High School.

You will notice that there is no task force for Spectrum or A.L.O.'s. Their structure and governance will be deduced from the outcome of the highly capable task force. They won't get a task force of their own.

The Latest Re-Definition of "Curriculum"

Seattle Public Schools has re-defined the word "curriculum" no fewer than six times in the past four years. It seems to change with each new Chief Academic Officer, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, or Executive Director of Curriculum. It also changes anytime the District needs to weasel or make other people (the Board or members of the public) appear ignorant.

Odds and Ends

Several items I thought might interest you.

Frida Kahlo, "Fulang Chang and I," (1937). Image via Flickr.
Frida Kahlo, a favorite of mine
One is a new video from Dove soap, straight from the Sundance Film Festival where it "premiered."  It's an 8-minute video about an experiment with teen girls, their mothers and cell phone photos called "Selfie."  Worthy viewing, I think. 

My favorite line, from a girl, "Social media is widening the definition of what beauty is."  Yes, maybe a good thing out of all these millions of self-photos taken on cell phones is "look at me, I look great/having fun/I matter." 

You can also show your kids there were always selfies - great artists loved to paint themselves.  One link here, another here.

About Race

There's an article by Joel Connelly in the PI that there was some irony that one of the first acts of our new mayor, Ed Murray, was to go to see the Race exhibit at the Seattle Science Center.  (It has now ended.)   (Thanks to Johnny Calcagno for the heads up.)

The irony is that just across the way at Seattle Center is Center School where Seattle Public Schools allowed one family to upend a vital conversation about race and privilege in one teacher's class. That teacher is Jon Greenberg. It is a great article and a great topic.  From the article:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Please Take this PTA Survey

From the Seattle Council PTSA:

Dear Seattle Council PTSA Members,

As you probably know, our state constitution requires ample funding for education.  The Washington Supreme court has directed the legislature to show real and measurable progress by 2018--the McCleary Decision--, and yet, our schools are still underfunded.

Please take a few minutes for kids and complete this quick survey . 

Your survey reply will be printed into a postcard.  These postcards will be hand delivered to your Washington State Legislators (your Senator and 2 Representatives) plus Governor Inslee on Washington State PTA Focus Day on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 in Olympia.

Our kids deserve a twenty-first century education.  The survey takes less than 3 minutes but time is short and we need your response by Tuesday, January 28th, 2014.

Thank you very much,

Eden Mack, SCPTSA Legislative Chair
Heidi Bennett, WAPTA Region 6 Legislative Chair

PS. You can join us on Focus Day, Tuesday, February 4th from 10:30 to 2pm.  We rally at noon on the Capitol steps, deliver postcards to legislators and more. Register here.  The event is free but we need to plan for supplies - we are REGION 6 (it's a required field).

PPS You can also learn more about the McCleary decision here.

Friday Open Thread

A class size bill, HB 2589 is making its way thru the Washington State Legislature.  Interestingly there is a column at The Olympian by Dick Cvitanich, the Superintendent for Olympia Public Schools,  who advocates for spending McCleary money on smaller class sizes. 

A story of contrasts between that bill and Bill 5246 for teacher evaluations which would no longer allow districts to use years of teaching experience in their hiring except as a tiebreaker and would rank order all teachers and principals based on student growth in their evaluations (mandating use of state test scores for teachers). 

I'll try to do a complete round-up of education bills including the student data privacy bill. 

What's on your mind?

Keeping this Blog Alive

Among the many unusual things I've done in my life (not many but some), one was working as a volunteer investigator for one the Seattle public defender offices.  It was fascinating work and I got many insights to both sides of the law.

One thing that troubled me, though, was that we were told not to bother to look up any record of our clients.  We could look up the victims or the witnesses but we were told not to bother with our clients.  Naturally, I did and most did not appear to be in the church choir.

But a wise lawyer said to me, "We're not really defending any one person. We're defending the Constitution."

That's the point I was trying to make recently.  That if even one person tries to silence anyone else from speaking out on a public issue at a public forum (or reporting on such), it is a blow to all.

I'm not sure most of you understood the issue of my concern because it really was not about me (although I am grateful for the many people who were concerned and let me know).

It's about the life of this blog and the ability 
for Charlie and me to do this work. 

When you have someone who seeks to ban you from Board meetings, City Council meetings or education committee meetings at the Legislature as well as prevent you from talking to any of those who serve as elected officials for those entities on certain topics, well, that kind of effort might make this blog go away.

I believe this blog to be a good resource and sounding board - for better or worse.  Its existence, I believe, is a good thing.

I had also wanted to explain to readers that there is a law that protects anyone who wants to speak out on a public issue in a public forum from lawsuits that would seek to silence them.  I myself had not known about it and was glad to learn of its existence.

I thought it might be of interest given we are all discussing public issues in a public forum. 

But discretion being the better part of valor, we will have no more discussions on this particular topic except to say that Charlie and I will continue to write about public education issues, no matter where that leads us.

I like to think that's defending the Constitution.

(No comments needed for this thread and I will delete any comments about it in any other thread.)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Want to Keep Those After-School Activities?

I wanted to pull this issue out from the Seattle Schools This Week thread because I believe this could affect many, many schools and their after-school programs.

Amending School Board Policy #4260, Use of School Facilities. 
It has come to my attention that the district wants to create a change in usage of facilities.  The district says it is "working with SCPTSA" over using facilities and there is a rent waiver process for groups wishing to use facilities for "youth enrichment that meet requirements."  This is a change from type of organization to type of use.

The issue is that the district now wants the group - not the district - to pay for aides or support for any special needs child.

With respect to all non-District uses of school facilities, the organization conducting the activity shall be responsible for assuring that youth are able to participate consistent with these requirements. This includes providing appropriate services and accommodations and, if necessary,paying the costs of providing services or accommodations for youth who require such assistance to participate. School staff will convene Section 504 meetings as appropriate, of those knowledgeable about the activity and the youth’s needs in order to be able to participate in the activity, to determine what services or accommodations are needed to allow the youth to participate, and will include a representative of the organization conducting the activity to assure their understanding of the requirements.

Obviously, this would be a huge issue for any group - PTA or not - to have to find the dollars to give to support for a child with a disability.  This is NOT to say that students with disabilities should not be able to access any or all programs on-site at their school, during the school day or not.

But the costs would likely be prohibitive to any group wanting to sponsor an activity.  Also, it appears that many students in this category would be attending under a 504 which would seem to be squarely in the district's responsibility.

I would urge you to write to the Board in opposition to this move.  PTAs or other groups could continue on without offering services to students with disabilities but naturally, would run the risk of a lawsuit or denial of space by the district.  Write toschoolboard@seattleschools.org and include "Use of School Facilities" in the subject line.

I know this is a matter of deep concern to the SCPTSA and I'm sure you will be hearing about this from your own school PTA.  It might mean the end of many after-school activities. 

Thank You, Reverend King

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Note to B. Gates - Education is NOT a Business

In a classic "aw shucks, we tried and keep in mind, education, if run like a business would do a lot better" interview, Bill Gates spoke with the Wall Street Journal

He somewhat humbly says, "It's been about a decade of learning."  Kind of true but it's also been a decade of experimenting with other people's children.  (But I think Bill, like a writer at Forbes who had written about yet-another Gates ed initiative said, he wouldn't want it for his own child but sure, why not try it somewhere.)

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, January 20th
No School in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Wednesday, January 22nd
School Board Meeting, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda.  
Note: there is to be an Executive Session after the Board meeting for 30 minutes. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Internet and Free Speech

Gentle readers,

The last couple of months have been something of a strain for me. I was busy fighting a petition in court for an order of protection against me, claiming I had harassed someone via this blog and this person feared loss of their job because of the alleged harassment.

I will go into some detail about this case in another thread but suffice to say that, of course, it was without merit and summarily dismissed. I knew this from the start - as did my lawyer - but the wheels of justice can be slow.  (My lawyer and I also made a motion for a little-known law that protects citizens speaking out on subjects of public interest in a public form.  More on that as well later.)

But the broader issue - one we can open up for discussion today - is a discussion of the Internet, privacy and free speech and how they relate to each other with respect to this blog.

Charlie and I have tried valiantly to keep this an open and lively place for discussion. We have tried to keep it civil. But this case have made me realize that there are some readers who might be making assumptions about what they might believe to be "right"  for us to write versus what is legal.

So I put forth these thoughts about this blog and our work. 

Saturday Food for Thought

 From The New Yorker, a thoughtful article by Mark O'Connell, "First Thought, Worst Thought," about thinking before you hit send.  I would think that includes Facebook, e-mail, texts or Twitter.  Something to talk to the kids about, perhaps.

On the one hand:

As Roxane Gay put it in an essay on her ambivalence about the public shaming of Sacco: “The world is full of unanswered injustice and more often than not we choke on it. When you consider everything we have to fight, it makes sense that so many people rally around something like the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet. In this one small way, we are, for a moment, less impotent.”

Or maybe:

The weird randomness of this sudden mutation of person into meme is, in the end, what’s so haunting. This could just as well have happened to anyone—any of the thousands of people who say awful things on Twitter every day. It’s not that Sacco didn’t deserve to be taken to task, to be scorned for the clumsiness and hurtfulness of her joke; it’s that the corrective was so radically comprehensive and obliterating, and administered with such collective righteous giddiness. This is a new form of violence, a symbolic ritual of erasure where the condemned is made to stand for a whole class of person—to be cast, as an effigy of the world’s general awfulness, into a sudden abyss of fame. 

From Whim W'Him, a story about an art exhibit about a drawing of a gun and what the artist allowed people to do to it.

From the Huffington Post, a story about ad differences for girls and how they have apparently gotten more girly.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Comments and an Open Forum Blog

We can all feel this way sometimes. 

Friday Open Thread

Fun math challenges via UW's Computer Science and Engineering department. 

Former School Board President Kay Smith-Blum will have her name on the scholarship wall at JSCEE via a constituent, Eleanor Towes, for Smith-Blum's service to Seattle Schools and students.  It's a great way to honor someone and help a student.

Today I'll chatting with folks about student data privacy and other public education subjects as part of the Seattle Education Meet-up with our host, Dora Taylor.  Noon to 1 pm at Couth Buzzard Books, 8310 Greenwood Avenue North.

Director community meetings tomorrow:Blanford and Martin-Morris.

From the district:
Seattle Public Schools is seeking parents to attend a ten-week course dedicated to supporting their children's education and becoming better advocates for their children and schools.
Classes are held 6-8 p.m., Tuesdays, starting Jan. 21 at North Seattle Community College. Cost is $40. Financial assistance is available for families. Registration closes on Friday, Jan. 17.

Threads coming up: lawsuit against me over this blog thrown out (in two parts)

What's on your mind?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Really? The Legislature isn't going to pay up on K-12 funding?

Publicola is reporting that some legislators - notably Senator Rodney Tom - aren't really interested in putting more money into our K-12 public education system.  Apparently, even with all the mandates (including Common Core),our schools have enough money.

I keep asking - over and over - how Senator Tom would spend the money for better outcomes.  What are districts spending the money on that he thinks they shouldn't and what would HE spend it on?  I never hear that answered.

From Publicola;

Seattle Ed Meetup Tomorrow: Student Data Privacy

From Seattle Education blog via writer Dora Taylor:

Our first Meetup was a success with our guest, the newly elected School Board Director Sue Peters. We were also fortunate to have with us at the Meetup two previous board members Amy Hagopian and Sally Soriano.

It was a great discussion and we learned more about the history of our district and how the school board works along with Sue’s priorities as a new School Board Director.

meetupThe next Meetup will feature Seattle Schools Community Forum contributor Melissa Westbrook. The main topic will be on student privacy and House Bill 2133, “Maintaining privacy of student educational records”, that was dropped last week and had a hearing on Wednesday, January 15th.

Please join us for information and discussion on this topic.
Melissa is also well-informed about many other issues that affect Seattle Public Schools and you are invited to ask questions on other topics as well.
Friday, January 17, 2014
Noon to 1:00 PM

Couth Buzzard Books is located at 8310 Greenwood Avenue North in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood and serves a light lunch as well as hot and cold beverages.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Education Reading List for 2014?

Fascinating reading provided via the Center on Reinventing Public Education (our local ed reform think tank).  They are recommending the list "top eight books that schools reformers should read" from Dropout Nation.  Boy, are there some interesting picks.

One is I Got Schooled by none other than "I see dead people" director, M. Night Shymalan.  Here's what Dropout Nation says:

Written as a travelogue of sorts about his six-year exploration of education policy issues, the director of The Sixth Sense manages to do in a mere 249 pages what most think tankers fail to do after thousands of pages: Quickly explain flaws in traditionalist thinking — including class-size reduction efforts — and outline five key steps (including giving power to principals to make hiring and firing decisions, and embracing the use of data) to transform education. 

Really?  Just 249 pages and he has all the answers (and watch out CRPE because he apparently does that thinking better than you).  But then they whine that it is problematic because he - gasp! - cites the CREDO study on charters from 2009, calling it "rather flawed."

Then there another odd pick from Camille Paglia, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars.  I gave up on Paglia in the late '80s; too much a provocateur for me.  People at Amazon seem to like it.  What's surprising is that Dropout Nation says there should be more art/culture in schools just as they are embracing Common Core which would seem to narrow the curriculum AND take more time out the school day that might go for arts.  

Then comes the most jaw-dropping one - Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights. I'll let Dropout Nation explain this one (bold mine):

There’s plenty for reformers to learn from political historian Keith M. Finley’s text on how politicians such as Georgia U.S. Senator Richard Russell, Louisiana’s Russell Long, and J. William Fulbright of Arkansas (now better-known for the international education program he helped create through law) used every political tactic — including arcane Senate rules and faux compromises that effectively kept Jim Crow segregation laws in place — to slow down the civil rights movement’s efforts to end state-sanction segregation. One of the lessons — that those defending a status quo will use any step taken by activists they oppose to rally their side — is one that reformers should always keep in mind; after all, traditionalists are essentially using the same tactics leveraged by defenders of Jim Crow this past century. Just as importantly, reformers can be heartened from another lesson: That those defending failed policies and practices ultimately don’t have time on their side, especially when activists and others continually challenge them at all levels.

Well, nothing like being compared to defenders of Jim Crow (and, of course, there's dreaded "status quo" term).  I suppose their next pick will be The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

Jam-packed exciting C & I meeting

The C & I meeting on Monday began with a change to the agenda. An update on Advanced Learning was added as an eighth discussion item.

Annual Program Placement report

I picked up a draft copy of the annual program placement report at Monday's C & I meeting. It was written by Misa Garmoe, the recently hired Executive Director of School Operations. She has been on the job for about three months. This is a new job which is different from the Assistant Superintendent for Operations.

The copy I saw was clearly labelled as a draft and the final report won't be released until January 31, so I won't comment on it in detail yet. That said, I think the report is seriously flawed and I have sent Ms Garmoe my suggestions for changes. I don't really expect her to make the kinds of changes that I suggest, but I did offer them nonetheless.

The draft I saw included a lot of information about changes to curricular foci rather than programs. None of those should have been included. In addition, the information provided about changes to programs did not include the sort of details required by the policy.

As I often say, the fact that all of my efforts are futile does not absolve me of the obligation to make those efforts.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Equitable Access Framework Explained

In response to an apparent need, I offer this explanation of the Equitable Access Framework.

It begins with the differences among schools, services, programs, and curricular foci. The distinctions are based on the definitions provided in the Superintendent’s Procedure 2200SP. This document should have ended the confusion about what is a school, a service, a program, or a curricular focus. Unfortunately it did not - mostly because few people took the time to read and understand the procedure. That includes the people who purportedly wrote it. Some of the confusion lies in the legacy names for things or our habitual way of speaking about them. Some of the confusion lies in the historical trespasses on authority. Some of the confusion is rooted in the large amount of overlap.

Best Anti-Smoking Ad Ever (and it features kids - little kids - asking for a light)

A great ad and the looks on the adults' faces is telling.

Sad to Report: 30TH School Shooting Since Newtown

From Moms Demand Action:

Details are still unfolding, but at least two children are in critical condition after a shooting today at a middle school in Roswell, New Mexico. Witnesses say a 13-year-old student shot a 14-year-old classmate in the face: http://tinyurl.com/kd9odt8 (from the Albuquerque Journal).

The scene of parents waiting in a school parking lot to find out if their child was shot is all too common in America. Mothers will no longer be silent about the epidemic of gun violence across our nation, and we will continue to speak out for the safety of our children and families.

Join a chapter in your state TODAY: http://momsdemandaction.org/join-us/

Update:  After the 12-year old (!) pulled out a shotgun and fired, according to the AP, he was "quickly stopped by one staff member who walked right up to him and asked him to set down the firearm, which he did." Superintendent Tom Burris stated, "In the 10 seconds that transpired from the time of this thing starting until the teacher had control of the weapon, there was no cowardice."   He continued, "There was protection for our kids.  Everyone acted and did their duties today at Berrendo Middle School."  

An 11-year old boy and 13-year old girl were shot; the boy is in critical condition and the girl in serious condition. 

And once again, a teacher/staff person stood between students and a gun.  

Charter School Applicant Forums

I will be attending several of the charter school applicant forums this week.  I am slowly making my way thru some of the applications and it makes for interesting reading (but what a slog - very long applications - one was 238 pages!).

I don't want to give too much away because I do hope to make a public comment on several of them.  But here are a few highlights:
  • no KIPP? Not to worry, there's a KIPP-look-alike in the bunch.  Uniforms? Check.  Middle school handshake with administrator with scripted responses? Check?  Lots of TFA?  Check.  Very structured? Check.  Working with the Washington State Charter Schools Association? Check.  Punitive discipline over the small stuff? Check.
  • Another one - Coral Academy - is a no-sale for me.  It appears to be aligned to Gulen and that's just not a group to trust.  There is way too much evidence - from multiple states who have their charters - that the overall answer should be no.  Their petitions of support don't have the number of signatures that they claim and many people only gave a first name.  A couple of the more important letters of recommendation are in support of having a charter school in Kent, not Coral in particular.  Their application is uneven and has that whiff of trying way too hard.   Link #1, Link#2, Gulen issues state-by-state.  You be the judge. 
  • If you like being told what the expectations of you, as a parent, are but you will have almost zero input as a parent, you'll like some of these charters.  There's are service hours expected at some and all list how they interact with parents but it will certainly not be like regular public school.  In fact, in the several I have read thru, not one mentions organizing a parent group.  (Although one says "unlimited e-mails between teacher and parent" - have fun with that one teachers. To its credit, it also says that parent issues will be noted and meetings scheduled within one day on issues that parents bring to staff.)
  • Special Ed.  Oh so careful wording about the letter of the law but not a whole lot of specifics.  You don't get the feeling this is anyone's strong point.
  • STEM? check.  At-risk students?  check.  They know what the Charter Commission is looking for but how will this all play out will be the question.  
Update:  Here's a report from KING-5 TV.  Apparently one applicant did NOT show up for last night's public forum.   Washington STEM Academy didn't show.  That would seem to disqualify them from continuing on as that it is a legal requirement to be part of a public forum that the Charter Commission convenes. 

Another Reason the Seahawks are Great

It's not just Russell Wilson and his quiet leadership (and off-the-field history of helping others). 

It's not just Marshawn Lynch who doesn't just power past the opposition's defense; he shoves them out of the way despite their size (and his).

It's this guy - Derrick Coleman - who is the first deaf player in the NFL. Picked on and picked last his whole life.  Didn't get picked during his first NFL draft.

They didn't call my name but I've been deaf since I was three...and I didn't listen.  

He says he has the loudest fans in the NFL...and he can hear them all.

Tell the Legislature - Obey McCleary and Fully-Fund our Public Schools

The Legislature has started its new session but because it is not a budget session (and therefore shorter), no one seems to think too much will get done.  Issues include the DREAM act to allow college financial aid for children brought illegally to this country, health insurance covering abortions, reducing the costs of vehicle registration and, oh yeah, fulfilling McCleary.

Here's a link to the legislators.  You only have to write to one and you will get a prompt that asks if you want your message to go to both your reps and your state senator.  Pretty easy. 

Let them know that there are mandates that our district can't avoid like Common Core.  That needs to roll out well and that means money for professional development and technology updates to support those assessments.  We need lower class sizes.  We need more supports for at-risk high school students in danger of dropping out.  Arts, STEM, you name it.  These cannot just be talking points to legislators - we need to see money to embrace all these promises.

This is NOT throwing money at schools; it's supporting the mandates and needs of schools and the most important imperative for our state to complete - fully-funding public education.

Tuesday Open Thread

From KING-5: apparently a drunk man wandered into Salmon Bay on Monday, January 6th and was found (not sure by whom) in a bathroom. He had entered via a door that is left open longer for students using wheelchairs.  All the rooms were secured and the man taken away by police/paramedics.  From the letter to parents:

"At approximately 9:30 a.m., a transient man entered our building and attempted to take shelter in a boy's bathroom.  We immediately called 911 and the district security officers, and teachers were notified to keep all students and guests in their classrooms.  Upon the arrival of police and paramedics, the man - who was very intoxicated but non-confrontational - left the building."

The district says it will be reviewing procedures to ensure the school can balance the need to maintain access for students with disabilities while also ensuring the security of the building.

KING 5 also spoke to one parent, who was volunteering inside the school when the security scare took place.  He said the staff remained calm throughout the 28-minute ordeal, and was happy with how it was handled.

Also, I know the first local Charter Application Forum was packed last night and Dora Taylor at Seattle Education blog was there and will have a wrap-up of the event.

Want to know if there might be continued growth in Seattle Schools?  My Ballard blog is reporting that Swedish in Ballard delivered over 1,000 babies last year.  First Hill Swedish delivered over 5600.  
What's on your mind?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Charter Applicant Forums

Updates from the Charter Commission:

1.      Each applicant will be given 10 minutes of presentation time, followed by 30 minutes of public comment. Individuals will be provided up to 2 minutes for comments. We are hopeful that 15 people will be able to provide comment.
2.      Individuals who wish to provide public comment are asked to sign up at the meeting. If there are more than 15 people that signup to provide comment, a lottery will be held to determine the 15 individuals. If an individual wishes to provide public comment on more than one school, myself or a volunteer will enter that individual into the lotteries for the schools of their choice.
3.      The January 11 deadline pertains to comments concerning re-nomination of commissioners with expiring terms. We’ve, in fact, not named a deadline for written comments on potential schools.

Also, a new story online said that at one of the first Charter Applicant forums in Eastern Washington that all three commissioners were in favor of that applicant.  I was quite surprised to read this as it certainly would have seemed wrong for any Commissioner to express favortism for any applicant.  Below is the answer to that question:

4.      Thank you for bringing the story to our attention, and we will look into this matter. Chair Sundquist and all commissioners have not made public comment regarding the approval or denial status of any charter school application the commission has received. As for the second part of your question, the commissioners in attendance were Stephen Sundquist, Kevin Jacka, and Larry Wright.

C & I Meeting this afternoon

Oh Boy! The Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting this afternoon is going to be good! I'm going to be there for sure. Just check out this list of discussion items from the agenda:

Committee Discussion Items
a. BAR for Yearbook Contract (Shauna/Kathleen/Misa)
b. Policy 3130, Student Assignment (Shauna/Ronald/Janet B.)
c. Policy 2415, High School Graduation Requirement (Michael/Janet B.)
d. Career and Technical Education Annual Report (Mary)
e. BAR for RTTT Project 4 (Clover, Eric C., Anna)
f. Equitable Access Annual Report (Michael/Misa)
g. Math Adoption Progress Report (Shauna/Eric/Adam/Shawn)
h. Policy 2090, Program Evaluation and Assessment (Marty/Shauna)

Nevermind the yearbook contract (how is that even a C&I issue), nearly everything else is a hot topic - or could be.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, Jan. 13th
Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm. Agenda
Discussion of Policy 3130, student assignment, Policy 2415, high school graduation requirement, CTE review, Equitable Access Annual report, math adoption progress report

I will be unable to attend this meeting but it does look interesting.

Charter Commission Charter Applicant Forum
Starting at 5 pm for Washington STEM academy, 6 pm for CAL Elementary and 7 pm for Sports in Schools Team Charter.  All are to be held at South Seattle Community College, Building C, Room C122.  Public comments accepted with sign-in at the meeting and a lottery to pick speakers if there are more than there is time to hear from.

Wednesday, Jan. 15th
2-hour early dismissal for professional development

Work Session: Board Code of Conduct from 4-5:30 pm
This was discussed at the Board retreat and I see that they have captured ideas from various sources.  I hope they can get this done quickly so they can move on to their real work.

Charter Commission Charter Applicant Forum
Coral Academy at 5:30 p.m., Excel Public Charter School at 6:30 p.m., Cedar River Academy at 7:30 p.m. at Puget Sound Education Service District, 800 Oakdale Avenue SW, Renton

Thursday, Jan. 16th
Operations Committee Meeting from 4:30-6:30 p.m.  Agenda not yet available.

Charter Commission Charter Applicant Forum
Rainier Prep at 5 p.m., Summit Public School: Sierra at 6 p.m. andn First Place Charter School at 7 p.m. at Bethaday Community Learning Space in White Center, 605 SW 108th, Seattle

Friday, Jan. 17th
Charter Commission Charter Applicant Forum
King County Academy at 5:30 p.m. and Out of the Box Learning Studio at 6:30 p.m. at Aviation High School, 9229 East Marginal Way S., Tukwila

Saturday, Jan. 18th
Director Blanford Community Meeting from 10-11:30 am at the Douglass-Truth Library

Director Martin-Morris Community Meeting from 11 am to 1 pm at the Montlake Library.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Good Thing on a Friday

A VERY big thank you to @[9115708862:274:Softchoice] for their very generous donation.  Today at our monthly assembly Harry Turpin, from Softchoice's Seattle office, presented a check for $3,829.49 to purchase replacement computers (stolen Fall 2012). Softchoice employees held a variety of fundraisers to help raise the dollars donated to our school.  We will always remain appreciative of your kindness and extension of generosity!

A VERY big thank you to Softchoice for their very generous donation. Today at our monthly assembly Harry Turpin, from Softchoice's Seattle office, presented a check for $3,829.49 to purchase replacement computers (stolen Fall 2012). Softchoice employees held a variety of fundraisers to help raise the dollars donated to our school. We will always remain appreciative of your kindness and extension of generosity!

Ditto on the THANK YOU to those in our communities who care.

Friday Open Thread

How to fund schools properly?  The Stranger Slog offers up not one but two alternatives.  It can be done and done without adding onerous bills (like grading schools) in order to say "we're doing something about education" before education is truly fully funded.

Here's the district's "official" notice about proposed Transportation changes.  I'll note a couple of things.  One, they don't list (or link) what schools would be affected.  You'll get a letter if you are affected. 

Two, they claim money saved will go to teachers and classrooms.  All $3.4M goes to classrooms?  I'd like to see real and verifiable proof that claim will happen. 

Three, about those secondary late start times and the Board wanting a real timeline, here's what staff says:

During the School Board’s March retreat with senior District leadership, Board members will discuss their governance priorities and when staff might pursue this work.

So they'll have yet another work session-like discussion about when they MIGHT do this?  In March?  What's weird is that staff are not supposed to be setting what the Board retreat work is so how do they know this so far in advance?  

Favorite line: Families should be on the lookout for more information in the next few weeks. You've been warned.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Franklin and Thurgood Marshall are in "shelter-in-place"

From SPS Twitter at about 2:30 p.m.:

Franklin HS and Thurgood Marshall Elementary are in shelter-in-place after shots were fired in nearby neighborhood. SPD looking for suspects.

Students were released on time when school ended.  For Thurgood students who normally walk home, parents were asked to come and pick them up.

Seattle School Board Meeting re: Later Start Times for Secondary

I do want to note a couple of items before attending to the subject of the thread.

Director McLaren was not in attendance at last night's meeting. Also, the student speaker, Mallory Richey of Roosevelt, told the Board and Superintendent that they are working more on school pride and have "Rider Pride" cards that they send home with students to their parents, letting the parents know a good thing - either kindness, leadership, etc. - that their student did that contributed to the life of the school.  Great idea.

After attending part of last night's Board meeting, I feel somewhat differently about later start times for secondary students becoming a reality at some point in the near future.  Here's why.

Most of the speakers for public testimony were speaking in support of later start times and boy, did the supporters find some good speakers.

One was Michael Vitiello who is a UW professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.  From his UW page:

Dr. Vitiello is an internationally recognized expert in sleep and sleep disorders in aging. Dr. Vitiello serves as chair of the Sleep Disorder's Research Advisory Board (SDRAB) of the NIH's National Center for Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) Established by an act of Congress the SDRAB is chartered to provide advice to the NIH Director, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Director, and the NCSDR Director on matters related to planning execution, conduct, support and evaluation of research in sleep disorders.

Dr. Vitiello is founding Co-Editor and Editor-in-Chief for the Americas of Sleep Medicine Reviews (SMR). SMR articles review the clinical information published in peer-reviewed journals devoted to the many disciplines involved in sleep medicine and provide International coverage of sleep disorders, their etiology, diagnosis, treatment and implications for related conditions at an individual and public health level.

Dorn Unveils Bill to Fully Fund K-12 Public Ed

From OSPI:
State Superintendent Randy Dorn today released a draft of a bill that would move Washington state toward the full funding of basic education in the event that the Legislature fails to do so by Jan. 1, 2018. 

Among other things, the bill calls for a one percent increase in sales tax, an increase in state property tax to $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value and a decrease in local levy authority – the so-called “levy swap.” 

OSPI estimates the bill will increase education funding by $7.5 billion in the 2019-21 biennium. 

“This bill is a blunt but necessary instrument,” Dorn said. “A general increase in the sales tax is not the best solution to this problem. But something has to be done, and passage of this bill will, I hope, spur the legislature into action.” 

About the bill
Dorn’s proposal makes it clear that the intent of the Legislature is to create a process that will comply with the McCleary decision. The compliance consists of three major parts:

  1. Sales tax: An additional one percent would be collected. The money would go toward funding education.
  2. Property tax: The portion of the state property tax that funds basic education would be raised to $3.60 per thousand dollars of valuation, the maximum allowed by law. At the same time, the “levy lid” – the maximum amount a district can ask for in a levy – is reduced by the amount of new revenue generated by the increase in the state property tax. This is commonly referred to as a “levy swap” of revenue from local sources to the state.
  3. Local levies: Funds generated by local levies may not be used to pay for basic education costs, such as student transportation; materials, supplies and operating costs; and salaries of school and district staff. Levies may still be used for supplemental contracts to compensate staff for extracurricular activities, such as coaching. 
If I'm reading this right, this would make the SPS Operating levy illegal as it pays for basic education costs as noted above.  That would be okay, of course, to not have to beg voters for dollars for basic operating costs but it certainly could change things. 

I am seeking a statement from the district as soon as they have reviewed the bill.

Update: from the Times, the state Supreme Court weighs in saying "the pace of progress must quicken."  

The Court directed the state to 'provide a complete phase-in plan for meetings its goals by April 30, 2014, and indicated the court might seek more frequent reports.'

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Seattle Schools Confirms Sports Change

Yes, all our comprehensive high schools will be moving to the Metro league (including Roosevelt, Ballard and Garfield).  Roosevelt will be the second-largest in the league but keep in mind, they count ONLY the numbers of 10,11and 12th graders to decide school size.  That's why Roosevelt will fit into the Metro league.

Boy, that will save transportation dollars AND be one less reason to change to later start times for high school students (and middle school, as well).

NW School Unveils Rooftop

Here's how a downtown school for SPS might work.  Good job, Northwest School.

OSPI Terminates Agreement w/Seattle Times

I have just received word from OSPI that the data sharing agreement with the Seattle Times has been terminated.  Don't get too excited as apparently a new one is being written.

Details to follow.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Seattle Schools with Possible Bell Time Changes for 2014-2015

 Update: this is a draft of Arrival/Departure times which, if those change, the bell times would change.  I am seeking clarification from staff but it would be mighty helpful if things were clear from the start.

End of update.

Readers had been asking about possible changes to bell times previously discussed by Transportation.  I could not find a link at the SPS website so I scanned it in.  I had to handwrite in "old" and "new" (for start times) as it had not been noted that way on the original.

As previously mentioned, most of these are 5-10 minutes with a few, like Laurelhurst being about 20 minutes. 

Math Adoption Update

From reader Rick B:

Re: the K-5 Math Adoption. Here's a quick process overview and status update from the trenches:

The Math Adoption Committee (MAC) has met three times so far. The SSD website has some basic info and minutes of the first meeting, but not for meeting #2 or meeting #3:

In these meetings, the committee laid the typical process groundwork, developed selection criteria and weighting formula for evaluation, and reviewed the 8 candidate programs. All MAC members are supposed to complete their reviews and submit score sheets this week for tabulation.

A separate questionnaire was created for community feedback, which is on the tables at the JSCEE library, or can be accessed and submitted online from the website above. DEADLINE FOR THIS IS TOMORROW if you still want to weigh in.

The top three programs are to be selected as finalists by Friday the 10th. Additional copies of these finalist programs will be ordered from publishers and distributed to ~5 locations around the city for formal public review and comment during the month of March.

Final selection of a single program will take place by the end of March, to be submitted to the SB for introduction Apr 23rd and approval May 7th.