Showing posts from February, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Wedgwood teacher, Kelly Clark, has been given the  2014 Civic Educator of the Year Award.  From Rep Gerry Pollet's office:   The award is sponsored by the Washington State Legislature to honor outstanding instructors in civics education.    Other SPS honorees : • Lori Dunn,  program manager for Physical Education and Health Literacy, will be presented a  Fellow for Professional Excellence  at a convention sponsored by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD).  • Gayle See, coordinator for Physical Education for Progress, will be acknowledged at the same convention for her outstanding contributions with an Honor Award, Non-college/University.  Article from Crosscut by City Councilwomen Jean Godden and Sally Bagshaw about the long-promised playground at Seattle Center.  They are looking for input on its design. The project team will begin its robust community engagement process, inviting children and adults alike to joi

Finding Solutions: Where is the Leadership?

This issue of homes for Cascade and NW Center Kids is  but one of the first capital dominoes to fall.   The new 2014-2015 budget reflects that the growth isn't quite what the district expected.  At this point, that doesn't matter. The district simply does not have the capacity for the students who continue to pour in.  There will be more dominoes and the number and speed at which they fall will only get faster.   There are huge mistakes being made in our capital building and thinking.   Someone needs to have the political courage to do something but what is it going to take? I have heard from a number of different people on the front lines of the issue of housing both  Cascade Parent Partnership and NW Center Kids.   There has been an astonishing amount of "haven't heard from them", "didn't know" and "they offered no options."  Somewhere in there is the truth.   It's like in Cool Hand Luke - "What we've g

Seattle Education - This and That

 From two area PTSAs: We are proud to announce the Seattle Council PTSA Board and Northshore Council PTSA Board, which represents the PTA's in Woodinville, Bothell and Kenmore, have endorsed I-594. Join these parents and teachers to help make our schools and state safer for Washington families by endorsing 594 today: This is the measure for background checks for guns.   So I was pretty surprised yesterday that both Banda and Herndon stayed so long at the Cascade meeting give there was the Board Work Session on the Budget at 4 p.m.  (they left around 3:45 p.m.)  Naturally, I did not attend but if anyone else did weigh in, please.

Making Money from Public Schools (Pictograph)

From Yes !

Off to Austin for the Network for Public Education Conference

I am so excited to be attending this new conference.  It will be great to meet other education writers and bloggers from around the country.  The keynote speakers will be Diane Ravich and the head of the Chicago teachers union, Karen Lewis. Los Angeles special education teacher Vincent Precht will be carrying the conference on his channel here, at The conference will begin at 8:30 am Austin time, which is 9:30 am Eastern. We hope to livestream from the start, but some portions of the conference may be delayed, because of their location.

District Puts Forth What is Likely Final Position on Cascade/NW Center

I attended a meeting today at the Cascade Parent Partnership school at Wilson-Pacific.  The meeting was called by Superintendent Banda who was in attendance as was Facilities chief Flip Herdon and NE Ex. Director Kim Whitworth.  The school had just finished a spelling bee and there were plenty of parents and students in attendance. 

Boycott Common Core Assessments: Some Seattle Schools' Teachers Say Yes

The Stranger has an article (which I am in) about Common Core.   I actually didn't know that the main thrust of it was about some Seattle Schools' teachers who plan to boycott the Common Core assessments.  It seems to me like the same wolf in different sheep's clothing. How could we not boycott that?" says one longtime high-school teacher. "We objected to the MAP test because we didn't know to what standards it was addressed," she explains, and because it took time away from classrooms and computer labs. Moreover, the teachers couldn't look at the tests before having their students take it. "Smarter Balanced has all those disadvantages, but in addition, it's teaching to standards that have never been vetted in a classroom or by teachers," she says. This could be the first-ever teacher boycott of Obama's new standards and testing regimen, with the potential to set a precedent for the rest of the country. Critics say corp

Waiting to Hear from Advanced Learning? Good Luck

A reader sent in the latest info from the AL webpage :

On Switching High School/Elementary Start Times

From School Start Later-Seattle: As a brief update, the school board approved transportation standards for next year that will move us to a 3-tier system in order to save approximately $3 million.  It was impossible to get the school board to consider putting secondary schools in the later tiers and elementaries in the earlier tiers. The good news is that Sharon Peaslee, board president has introduced a resolution to make analysis and community engagement on start times a high priority and then to decide, based on feedback whether to flip elementary and secondary start times for 2015.   The resolution will be introduced on 3/5 and voted on 3/19. We need to win this vote in March otherwise the district will halt any further progress on the issue. Thank you for all of your recent emails.  They made a major impact and helped bring Peaslee's resolution to the table. Please write to board directors and urge them to prioritize analyis and community engagement on start times.  L

Tuesday Open Thread

More opt-outs of testing, this time at a school in Chicago where 300 parents have opted their children out.  In an article from Catalyst Chicago , one superintendent sent a letter to parents telling them why they shouldn't opt their children out.  One interesting note - they use the MAP test for screening AL but they have a much lower threshold than SPS. The letter also for the first time makes clear that the NWEA/MAP will be used to determine who can sit for the selective enrollment test, but it sets the bar low. The current policy limits the selective test to those students who ranked in the 50th percentile or above on the nationally normed section of the ISAT. Now, according to the letter, students scoring above the 24 th percentile on the NWEA/MAP will be eligible to test for selective enrollment high schools. Sharkey said the new standard is low because district officials are concerned about a lot of students doing poorly. “These new Common Core assessments ar

Seattle Channel's Families&Education Levy Series

This series on Seattle Channel (21) premieres tonight.  From Seattle Channel: The five-part series premieres tonight; chronicles levy programs to increase student success in school.

Arne Duncan Weighs in On Student Data Privacy

Arne Duncan spoke at a public education summit yesterday put on by Common Sense Media. From Ed Week : The event came in the midst of a recent flurry of student data privacy-related activity. In addition to the non-binding federal guidelines , expected to be made public Tuesday afternoon, a leading technology trade group released recommendations on the issue ; major state legislation on the issue was proposed in California; and U.S. Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who also spoke at Monday's school privacy summit, announced that he will soon introduce new federal legislation. All of this is good news. The big takeaway: One key principle around which there is an emerging cross-sector consensus is that educational data about students should be used solely for educational purposes—and not for targeted advertising. Industry representatives and some education officials in attendance at Monday's event supported the general notion, but said much co

Great Thoughts from a Smart Guy

You know, there are some really smart people out there thinking about public education and public discourse.  I wish more people would read their writings.  It's people like Trish Millines Dziko who runs TAF Academy.  (FYI, they are having STEM Day camps during Spring Break.) Vu Le, who is the Executive Director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association, is another one.   He has the blog, Non-Profit with Balls. (Explanation on the title:  You may be thinking, “Why ‘Nonprofit with Balls’? Isn’t that sexist?! Why not ‘Nonprofit with Balls and Ovaries,’ you sexy sexist pig?!” The title comes from an experience he had, described here . Basically, it refers to all the balls that we nonprofit professionals have to juggle: clients, board, staff, volunteers, funders, auditors, payrolls, budgets, cashflows, trainings, annual events, etc. We are all knee-deep in balls. We have balls coming at us from every direction. Sometimes we “drop the ball,” but no worries, since there is nev

Youth Drug Summit

From Town Hall: Youth Drug Summit: Keeping Kids Safe in Changing Times Wednesday, Feb. 26th Town Hall $5 - 1119 Eighth Avenue Doors open at 6:30 pm with main event at 7:30 pm The legalization of marijuana in Washington State has real implications for parents and kids. What are current teen attitudes about drug use and accessibility? How will things change when legal marijuana shops are open for business and marijuana is increasingly available in homes? What about the growing prevalence of heroin and toxic mixtures, such as “molly?” During this panel discussion featuring experts on adolescent psychology, drug addiction and law enforcement, parents will be armed with the knowledge and tools they need to help kids navigate the risks and dangers in this changing environment.

Northwest Center and Cascade - What Will SPS Do?

I am in receipt of an e-mail sent out to the Board, the Superintendent, the Seattle City Council, Mayor Murray and a few others in leadership.  It is about a meeting about NW Center.  It includes no wording about Cascade nor does it invite any of Cascade's leadership. It is from a NW Center parent; I am checking to see if this has been done through NW Center. I find that sad because NW Center seems to have gained quite an upper-hand in this situation from various government officials (including Rep. Reuven Carlyle who is hosting this meeting).   I would love to know if Cascade is having a similar meeting and have an e-mail out to their principal to ask. I find some of the wording to be not-so-fair to the situation. They say:

Student Data Privacy Debate

It's heating up. There was a great debate on Here and Now on NPR between Mary Fox-Alter, superintendent of schools in Pleasantville, N.Y., and Aimee Rogstad Guidera, executive director of the Data Quality Campaign (and note, DQC is a Gates group). A hugely important article appeared in the NY Times about a California legislator who is introducing a student data privacy bill.  Who can truly argue with this statement regarding students and their student data?  “We just think the public policy of California should be that the information you gather from students should be used for their educational benefit and for nothing else.” I believe Arne Duncan will be speaking on this issue today so I will have an update when details come in.

Seattle IS Growing (It's Not Your Imagination)

The Seattle Times is reporting that, for the first time in 100 years, Seattle is growing faster than the suburbs that surround it.  During 2011-2012, Seattle's population outpaced King County's by 25%. Seattle is the 8th fastest growing city in the U.S. of the 50 largest cities (Austin, Texas is number one). So was this - as the district's freelance demographic consultant said a couple of years back - caused by families who might ordinarily have moved to the suburbs but didn't (either they wanted to stay and/or the recession)?  Or is it just temporary?  Car culture suburbs or dense, walkable city? I can only say you can't swing a dead cat in this town without encountering construction.  I live by Roosevelt and that light rail station work is really heating up.  Ditto on downtown (the Mercer Mess is still the Mercer Mess), Ballard and Capital Hill.  If it continues, SPS will have some hard decisions to make.  Double-shifts for high schools?  Leasing space (w

Seattle Schools Open Enrollment Starts Today

Enrollment page. Page that has EVERY form. I have to say this all looks very involved so read carefully and good luck.     2014–15 School Choice Forms Pre-K (South Shore Only) Kindergarten Elementary Middle School High School Enrollment Information Line:  06-252-0410 Transportation Office:  206-252-0900 SPS Service Center and Bilingual Assistance:  206-252-0760 From SPS: Here's how the Open Enrollment process works: 1. All current students, and all new students for 2014-15 who completed early enrollment by January 31, 2014, will get an assignment letter mid-February  (right before Open Enrollment begins on February 24, 2014). Assignment letters will confirm continuing assignments or provide notification of new assignments for 2014-15. These are initial assignments, and nothing further is required if the family wishes to keep the initial assignment. These families will know by mid-Feb

The Shooting at Chardon High

An important story about a football coach who went above and beyond, not just one day but for all the days that followed when a shooting happened at his high school.   A great piece from 60 Minutes. I will note - again - that in all the (sadly) multiple stories about school shootings that I have yet to read one where teachers or staff did NOT protect the students in the building.   All the stories I have read have been about teachers/staff who stood between a bullet and their students. I had the opportunity to this weekend to address a group of young Dems leaders about public education.  I noted School Safety as one of the many education issues in our country. I took a minute to tell them that when I was in school, I NEVER worried about a gun at school.  Ever. I told them I did not believe it fair for them and for their some-day children.  And I apologized for my generation's seeming lack of concern and oversight of this issue. I said that, in my opinion, there were thr

Seattle Schools This Week

Back to work. As one reader reported, the dates for school year 2014-2015 are up.  One of the earlier last-day-of-school dates in recent memory, June 15, 2015. Tomorrow, Monday the 24th , starts the two-week Open Enrollment period .  I expect to see JSCEE jam-packed this week (and I would advise getting there early).  Info here .  Unfortunately, the "choice" form for those who want an alternative to their neighborhood school is not available until tomorrow.  I find this not-so-helpful as parents could preview it and make sure they understand it BEFORE they get to Open Enrollment.  I'll check it out tomorrow and hope to have some words of advice. Wednesday, Feb. 26th Work Session on the Budget from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm- Agenda not yet available. Work Session on Board Evaluation Goals from 5:30-6:30 p.m - Agenda not yet available. As previously noted, there is no School Board meeting this week nor any Director Community meetings on Saturday, March 1. I'm

Rainier Beach and Basketball Greatness

Interesting story from The Classical (an independent sports website) about Rainier Beach High School and its history of basketball dominance. Locally, it's known as the best place to get Vietnamese food. It is perhaps less well known as an astonishingly fertile cradle of basketball talent, although it's that, too. This is a place that has produced more current NBA players than just about any other place on Earth—as many as Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx combined. This jumped out at me: Those most recognizable student is 6’7” senior and Louisville commit Shaqquan Aaron, who moved all the way from California to go to high school at Beach. Strange as it this seems if framed in a non-basketball context, such a thing would have been entirely unthinkable a few years ago.  This, too: As something of a last-ditch attempt to turn things around, the school began offering classes from the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, a route that had actua

All and All Your Kid is Just....

Another brick in (the data) wall.

Data Walls in Classrooms (Coming to a School Near You?)

Read this article by Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post.  It should cause you to consider what is coming.   Following on the heels of that article is her next one where one privacy expert says this could violate FERPA. Really, the photo, from Caledwell County Schools in North Carolina, says it all. In some places, parents and teachers are getting tired of embarrassing kids. New England Public Radio reported earlier this month that teachers and parents have banded together in Holyoke, Mass. to petition schools officials to stop publicly displaying student achievements on classroom data walls. District superintendent Sergio Paez, who has been pushing schools to use more data, said that students are not supposed to be identified, but teachers said they feel pressure to do so. The In These Times reported that Agustin Morales, an English teacher at Maurice A. Donahue Elementary School in Holyoke, said she thinks data walls are mean, but she has felt pressure to create them. Thi

Urgent: Contact Senator Murray's Office Today on NCLB Waiver

Education Week is reporting that Senator Patty Murray will be meeting this weekend with Education Secretary Arne Duncan about Washington State waiver request for NCLB.  Really good insights from Education Week : Washington State is in the unfortunate position of being just one of four that had its NCLB waiver put on "high risk" status by the U.S. Department of Education. The Evergreen State has run into trouble with the teacher-evaluation component of the waivers , which has been the trickiest part for those states seeking the flexilibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. But Washington is in the fortunate position of having a very powerful advocate on its team: Sen. Patty Murray. She chairs the Senate Budget Committee, is trusted by Senate leadership, and is a senior member of the panels that oversee education policy and spending. What's more, she could be in line to chair one or both of those committees in the next Congress, after Sen. Tom

Update on NW Center Kids and Cascade Parent Partnership Building Tug-of-War

Here's the latest on this story: From My Northwest : So far, the only response from the school district came in an email saying they'll let Northwest Center know the next step after enrollment numbers are in on March 7 . By that time, Northwest Center will have just three months left to figure out a plan.  From The Stranger Slog , now we have a Seattle legislator involved: The Northwest Center understands that they may have to move, but is asking for more time to find a suitable location for their developmentally and physically disabled students, many of whom require a facility that will accommodate their specific needs. SPS spokesperson Teresa Wippel told me that the old Van Asselt school has been offered to the Northwest Center, but Northwest Center President and CEO Tom Everill says, "There is no offer of Van Asselt on the table—no planning or site analysis has been done, and there are no applications for construction permits or licensing."  I

Friday Open Thread

A new initiative is coming on student data privacy in Washington State but here's the latest from California via the NY Times.  California has always been a frontrunner on this issue and this bill may be one that our Legislature could use as a template (along with the bills now going in Georgia, NY, and Colorado).  This is an issue that is gaining steam.     This says it all: “We don’t want to limit the legitimate use of students’ data by schools or teachers,” Senator Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who is the sponsor of the bill and the president pro tempore of the California Senate, said in a phone interview. “We just think the public policy of California should be that the information you gather from students should be used for their educational benefit and for nothing else.” Also in a continuing pattern, Governor Cuomo of NY state yesterday said he would side with parents if Common Core rollout in NY state doesn't get better. “I think the way they have impleme

More Legislative Updates

From Mary Griffin of the Seattle Special Ed PTA:   SHB 2605 is a step backwards in Washington state’s efforts to make our education system more transparent and accessible for parents. That’s because this bill will make it harder, not easier, for parents to know and understand school district policies regarding restraint and isolation of students with disabilities. Right now, for students with IEPs and 504 plans, districts must provide parents with a written copy of their seclusion and restraint guidelines. This is a smart policy because it helps parents understand up front the limited circumstances under which seclusion or restraint may be used with their children. Yet under SHB 2605, school districts would only be required to share that information on their website; if parents wanted a copy or an explanation, they would have to ask for it. Common sense tells us it’s impossible to ask about a policy you don’t know exists, and yet that is precisely what SHB 2605 requir

Seattle Schools' Student Survey of Teachers

 Update:  I have received some new info - via the City - and either we have a case of Who's on First or SPS is not being forthcoming with all it knows about this student survey of teachers.  I have word that one school has been working on this - with Teachers United and possibly school staff as well as the Seattle Youth Commission - for almost two years.  I'll let you know all the details when I get them sorted out but I have to wonder whose survey it truly is going to be. End of update. I had a long conversation with Dr. Eric Anderson, head of Research, Evaluation and Assessment, who is in charge of the initiative for a separate student survey of teachers.  So let's get some basics out of the way: The survey has not been written but they will likely pivot off other student surveys out there (more on this below) Who will be part of this "work group" that will decide on the survey, which schools will pilot it and which students (grade level) will take

Washington Legislator Town Hall Weekend

Many Washington state legislative districts are having Town Halls this Saturday with some or all of the elected reps from each district.  This is the most complete list I could find but if you know of others, please post them in the comments. It's a good time to let them know about issues like: funding the McCleary decision student data privacy not wanting schools to get A-F grades the need for capital funds for Seattle schools I'll be at mine at the 43rd district.  

Washington State Legislature Gets Busy on Education Bills

Major news on two important education bills in the Legislature. First, the State Senate REJECTED a teacher-evaluation bill that would have changed using student test scores in teacher evaluations from "can" to "must" because the feds wanted that change.  The feds were using - as a carrot or stick, take your pick - federal funds.  Superintendent Randy Dorn has been moaning about the possible loss of these funds, about $38M (Seattle stands to lose about $2.4M). What got left out is that Washington State has applied for a NCLB waiver and may still get the federal dollars.  So far, Arne Duncan has given 37 states waivers. What is amazing is that conservative GOP members joined with minority Dems to defeat this measure and it is the first time the new Senate "coalition" majority has lost.  According to the Times , it is probably dead as 5pm today was the cutoff for non-budget legislation to get out of at least one chamber.  (This coalition is showing o

Seattle Schools' Principals - Who Gets to Go Where?

Long ago, I used to say that having a great school is like a three-legged stool partnership with teachers/staff and parents and principal.  After my personal experience and years of listening to parents' experiences at other schools, I revised that because the biggest leg really is the principal. I feel that way because the principal sets the tone, the focus and usually has a lot of ability in creating a staff for the school.  Many successful principals, like many successful schools, appear to get more leeway because of their abilities.  (This harkens back to former Superintendent Olfchefske's "tight/loose" theory that if a school is doing well, loosen up that grip, if not, tighten up.)  This ability for some principals to have greater control certainty looks true in a column at the Times about one reporter who about to become a Seattle schools' parent. 

Tuesday Open Thread

UW's department of Computer Science & Engineering has DawgBytes: A Taste of CSE which is their K-12 outreach program.  They have lots of fun events as well as offering a UW CSE student to come out to your school to talk to students.  They have an e-mail list so you can get regular updates of events. Remember the story, There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a fly and The House that Jack Built?  Here's a mash-up ed reform version of them featuring Bill Gates from the blog, Russ on Reading. What's on your mind?

Presidents Day Presidents Quiz

I did horribly.  I don't know my presidents well.  Let's see how you do.

Women and Political Office

On the heels of the depressing news that the Washington State Legislature is mostly white, middle-aged and male, I urge women and any women in a minority group to consider running for office (or supporting a friend who may want to run). I have helped walk candidates through running for School Board (with help from great former directors and others) because it's important to know what you are getting into with a race AND what that work is like if you win. But I am certainly no expert but there are ones coming to town.  The National Political Caucus of Washington is having a campaign training for women on Saturday, March 8th from 8 am to 5 pm at the Tukwila Community Center.  The cost is between $40-60 depending on if you are a member or non-member.  From their webpage: Sessions include: Are you Ready to Run? Developing and delivering your message Finding and raising the money Targeting and talking to voters Campaign Nuts & Bolts: getting started, deadlines, rules,

The Worst Person In the World

With a tip of the hat to Keith Olberman, I would like to nominate state senator Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane) for "Worst Person in the World" this week. Mr. Baumgartner has introduced a bill before the state senate that mocks the state supreme court's McCleary decision . This is guy who complained about the waste of time when the senate squandered fifteen minutes naming a state oyster. What a prick  a pointless, unproductive irritation committed for his entertainment. If he and his senate colleagues would do their job and fully fund education as the constitution requires, then they wouldn't have lost the McCleary decision.

Things that Make You Go, Hmmm

Update: here's a new one.  So if this is just a little pilot student survey of teachers, why is it the most hugely read post 4-1?  That is way off the charts for normal post hits.  (Naturally some of the hits are the same people but when it gets off a certain amount, you know there is a lot more traffic.  And on a holiday weekend.)  Someone called this a "tempest in a teapot";  I don't think so. 1)  Still waiting to find out who is paying for the costs for the pilot student survey of teachers by students.   2)  Still waiting to find out if teachers are contractually obligated to give out the survey in their classes and/or do students have to take the survey?   Will students be told this is an optional piece of work and allowed to not take the survey if they choose? 3)  I'm also waiting to hear what does the SEA has to say about this issue - both from the teacher level and the union level.  Hmmm. 3)  What's up with the Jane Addams building ?  It seems t

Seattle Schools This Week

Update : Schools are closed.  Is the district?  I would say they are likely technically open.  But I personally know a couple of staff who won't be around much.  It is also my experience that during holiday breaks, JSCEE powers down somewhat.  Call if you'd like, there may be a chance you will catch someone there. End of updat.e No Director Community meetings on Saturday, either. At the Rachel Maddow show, they have a section , This Week in God (which goes with our theme of Seattle Schools this Week) and here's a good one: A nti-evolution activists have pushed a variety of measures over the last several decades, hoping to either eliminate or water down science-class curricula, though nearly all of the efforts have been struck down in the courts. The efforts nevertheless persist , even now in the 21st century, with state lawmakers weighing new science restrictions in several states . Missouri, however, is breaking new ground . A Missouri lawmaker h

SPS News including Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment starts the week after next week's Mid-Winter break and runs two weeks thru March 7th.  All forms must be returned either in person or online to Seattle Public Schools by 4 p.m., Friday, March 7, 2014.  Here's the info from SPS .   Also the Enrollment FAQs have many answers to questions.  (Oddly, the district's Facebook page has nothing about this.)  But, to keep in mind: the district isn't open next week so no, you can't call and ask questions the enrollment form is not available so you can't look at one and review it so that you are ready to go when you go in to enroll this is two weeks and that's a lot of kids to enroll.  I would encourage you to go early - in date and time of day).  I did write to Tracy Libros, head of Enrollment, two weeks ago to ask about why application forms could not be reviewed and why the enrollment window seems so short but I never received a reply. Looks like Superintendent Banda is to have some To

Student Survey Coming about Teachers but Why?

Update: I neglected to say - if my children were still in SPS, I would tell them to say no to any kind of survey about their teachers.  It is not required and frankly, there is too much leeway for kids to not understand the questions being asked and/or decide to muck about with phony or false answers.  If someone's job is on the line because of this, how much input should students impressions be given?   How would you feel if this were your job? End of update. Several weeks back I became aware that some Seattle PTAs were working with the district, students on the Seattle Youth Commission, SPS Research, Evaluation & Assessment and "teachers associated with Teachers United" on a student survey. To whit via McClure PTA: --The work is to conceive, define and implement a structured survey of students' perceptions of their teachers. - The objective of the surveys is to provide all teachers insight that can use to better inform their teaching practice for each

Seattle Schools' Tours

Have you been on a tour yet?  Where and how was it? Had a friend who went to an IBX meeting at Ingraham and said it was absolutely packed to the rafters.  I recently got a private tour of Sand Point Elementary (which I had never been to and had wanted to check out).  Very impressive.  For those of you who wondered how well a new start-up school can do, here's proof.  And, it's a team effort with the principal (Dan Warren), staff and parents.  Principal Warren had done his homework in checking out the Sand Point of former years.  It was opened in 1956 with 13 (gulp) portables as the school and with a K-6 enrollment of 309 students.  (Actually checking district archives, Pontiac Elementary opened in 1890 by the Yesler School district and was annexed into SPS in 1911.  The land was then sold to the federal government in 1926.  But in early 1941, Navy parents at Sand Point Housing wanted a school and staged a one-day strike and out of 51 children, 48 stayed home.  It didn

Friday Open Thread

Good story on Garfield teacher Jesse Hagopian in Seattle Met . The Times editorial board weighs in on the North Center Kids/Cascade program and oddly, completely leaves out Cascade.  Naturally this baffled a couple of readers who ask, "What is the about?  Why would the district do this?"  But paint a complete picture?  Not the Times. Best wishes to all your loves this Valentine's Day - be they big or small. What's on your mind?

Saying Goodbye

I've been through a lot of changes in my personal and professional life in the past year or so. Actually, I'm still in a sort of transition period, but that period and those changes will be complete in April. Among other things, I'll be moving away from Seattle, which has been my home since 1987. For the past several months I have been splitting my time between Seattle and Charlottesville, Virginia. I'm in Charlottesville now, as a matter of fact. In April I will leave Seattle and make C'ville my new home. I think it will be a little inappropriate for me to comment on Seattle Public Schools when I'm no longer a Seattle resident, so I won't be writing many blog posts after the move. No promises that I'll quit entirely, but I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to make the committee meetings anymore. I have been writing about Seattle Public Schools for over a decade. I have probably averaged a couple thousand words a day over that period. It sur

Seattle Capital Programs

I attended the Board Work Session yesterday on Capital Programs and Plans.  It was both informative and annoying. Attending were Directors McLaren, Patu, Blanford, Peters, Peaselee and Martin-Morris.  Director Carr, like at last week's Board meeting, was not in attendance.  Staff included Superintendent Banda and the head of Capital/Facilities, Flip Herndon.  Dr. Herndon gave the entire presentation. There was a good laugh before the meeting when Director Blanford said that he had a lot of people asking him if he was Richard Sherman or Marshawn Lynch of the Seahawks (the only similarity is that they are all three black men with long hair - they don't look like each other at all.)  I later asked Director Blanford if anyone asked him if he was Lawrence Fishburne - a joke based on an entertainment reporter who this week was interviewing Samuel L. Jackson and thought he was Lawrence Fishburne.  Jackson's reaction was priceless. Dr. Herndon did two good things.  He did NOT

City of Seattle Neighborhood Summit

Mayor Murray is having a neighborhood summit on Saturday, April 5th from 9 am to 1 p.m at the Seattle Center's Pavilion Room. They have a survey going on for citizen input before the event in order to help shape it.  To learn more about the Seattle Neighborhood Summit, you can email or call 206.684.8069. This is a good opportunity to let the City know how you feel about schools and neighborhoods.  It would be great to have a lot of parents asking for the City to be active partners with SPS.

Seattle Schools Math Adoption Committee Work

I attended the Math Adoption Committee meeting a week ago.  I stayed about 2 hours (out of a daylong meeting).  I didn't have high hopes at the beginning as the meeting seemed disorganized and slow to start.  The meeting was monitored by staffers Anna Box and Shauna Heath.  They first went over the discussion from the Board-asked-for Work Session that had occurred the day before about the math adoption process.  (More on that in a minute). The next meeting of the Math Adoption Committee is tentatively set for April 25th (I did not hear a reason they were skipping March).  As soon as they announce their final selections, they want public comment. There will be viewing of materials at five schools (one in each region) and one library.  These are Arbor Heights, South Shore K-8, Coe, Northgate and, for the Central region, Douglass-Truth Library. It was noted by staff that they have about $1.5M for this math adoption.  One Committee member said they were getting so far away from

Read This

Read this guest column by Colin Pierce, IB Coordinator at Rainier Beach High School, that appeared in the Seattle Times Education Lab. You can comment there on the Seattle Times site.

Here's the Tradeoff for Tech versus Buildings

I'm off to go listen in on the Work Session this afternoon about Capital Program Planning.  I was talking with an aide to a City Councilperson yesterday about this very issue.  Apparently the staff and families at the NW Center for Kids have been very active in reaching out in all directions to try to stay in the SPS building they currently occupy.  He was mystified at how there could be two groups - Cascade and NW Center for Kids - both whom serve special needs children that have somehow become pitted against each other.  Inwardly, I thought, "Well, that's about par for SPS."  He was also surprised at the lack of preventive maintenance in our school buildings especially given how packed and well-used they are.  Again, no surprised if you know that the district has cut back on maintenance since the late '70s.  They cut back and never looked back.  Well, there has been a lot of hand-wringing from Board members and superintendents and staff and yet, not much h

SPS Meetings Tomorrow

Both the Operations and Audit&Finance Committees have meetings tomorrow, Thursday the 13th.  In addition, there is also a Work Session.  Audit&Finance and Operations both start at 4:30 p.m. and the Work Session on Technology starts at 6:30 pm. I call this out because Operations and A&F did not have their agendas out until yesterday.  Again, I have to smile and wonder.  These are very lengthy agendas.  There is truly no possible way to cover everything in them except as a brief update.  The Board is supposed to use these committee meetings to go over - in detail - issues.  I realize a lot needs to get done but I wonder why these agendas are so lengthy for such a short period of time. Operations agenda .  Items to cover: - wireless network deployment - various upgrades/renovations/repairs at several schools - one item that caught my eye is Olympic Hills where there is a "resolution" about the new construction but also a "resolution regarding racial im