Showing posts from March, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, March 31st The final Strategic Plan Community Meeting from 6:30-8:30 pm in West Seattle at Roxhill Elementary. Tuesday, April 1st Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. , JSCEE, Room 2700 Wednesday, April 2nd School Board meeting starting at 4:15 p.m.  Agenda .

Refusal Movement Growing in New York

FYI, the correct legal term that districts and states use is "refusal" and not "opt-out." From the Mrs Mom Blog (in case you didn't know what the Supreme Court has to say on this subject): Until last year, I, along with most parents, did not realize that parents have the right to refuse state testing on behalf of their children. Parents have the right to refuse . There is no provision that allows for the opting out of state assessments, however according to parents’ federal constitutional rights:  "The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” The Court also declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized

Senior Project Going Away?

In something of an irony, a senior doing her senior project did it on...getting rid of the senior proejct. From the News Tribune : If Gov. Jay Inslee signs Senate Bill 6552 into law next week, and if school districts decide to use their new option to eliminate the project, seniors in the class of 2015 would be the first to avoid the extra work. “The bill goes into effect in 2015, so if everything goes right, then next year, this year’s juniors won’t have to do it,” said Stewart, a 17-year-old senior at East Valley High School near Yakima. “I’ve had the juniors and the sophomores and even some of the freshmen come up to me and give me a hug or a high five.” Don’t celebrate yet, kids. Districts would have to change their policies. Many are “deeply invested in it,” said Ben Rarick, executive director of the State Board of Education, while others view it “as a compliance hurdle.” I'll have to ask SPS on Monday what their reaction will be. There are no statewid

Downtown Seattle Association Has a Great Idea for Where to Put a School

Update: according to the Times some non-profits are already circling the building but I suspect that if the district got an application together, they might move up that list given they are a public entity. Apparently, though, (and this is just what I thought the district would say), the Times is reporting Flip Herndon as saying that it would take a lot of work as a school and at what cost.   He's right as the building has asbetos, seismic retrofitting and updating work to be done (the Times cites a figure of $40M). But honestly, is this looking a gift horse in the mouth?  Of course, nothing is truly free but compared to the costs of finding land and building, this may be the best chance the district has.  I felt certain the district wouldn't want to divert off its "Strategic Plan" for anything.  They truly need help in looking at the vast facilities and capacity problems - hello, City? End of update. I received what I believe is a fairly amazing press rele

New York has the Most Segregated Schools in the Nation (and guess where it's the worst?)

In a devastating report from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA , New York State's Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction and a Damaged Future , the conclusion is that NY State has the segregated schools in the nation, both by race and poverty.  They looked at patterns from 1989 to 2010, both at the state and regional levels. From Education Writers Association: “ The children who most depend on the public schools for any chance in life are concentrated in schools struggling with all the dimensions of family and neighborhood poverty and isolation,” said the project’s co-director, Gary Orfield, according to Al Jazeera America . According to the report, 19 of the 32 community school districts in New York City had enrollments that were less than 10 percent white in 2010.   The study also called charter schools in the city “apartheid schools” because 73 percent have less than 1 percent white enrollment.  Magnet schools were the most multiracial.  From the stu

Seattle Schools Updates/Good News

From SPS Communications: Ingraham High hosting Seattle Unified Soccer League kickoff Saturday On Saturday, March 29 , Ingraham High School will host opening ceremonies to officially kick off the 2014 Unified Soccer Seattle season . Unified Soccer is an inclusive sports program for ages 8-21 that combines athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (those without intellectual disabilities) on the same team for training and competition. Schedule: 7:30 a.m. – Arrive and team check-in 8:15 a.m. – Spirit Rally in the gymnasium 8:45 a.m. – Opening Ceremonies (see speaker schedule below) 9:20 a.m. – March to the Match on the outdoor field 9:30 a.m. – Warm-ups and youth soccer clinic 9:45 a.m. – Unified Soccer games  Ingraham High School, 1819 N. 135th, Seattle (Festivities begin in the gymnasium and move to the outdoor field)

Washington State Mudslide Victims

There are truly sad and tragic stories coming out about all the victims of the recent mudslide in Oso, near Darrington.  The youngest victim, a four-month old baby, was found yesterday.  She had been killed as well as her grandmother who was babysitting her.  They don't need any more volunteers to show up or need more clothing so probably the best way to help is through: Red Cross - call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.  to help those with pets/livestock, the Everett Animal Shelter is taking donations Cascade Hospital has set up the Cascade Hospital Foundation Disaster Fund Please consider making a donation.  

Seattle Schools and Technology

Someone asked a question in the Friday Open Thread about a Special Ed program and that led to SpedPTA president, Mary Griffin, to say this (and she calls it a rant alert and warning but really, it's a huge district-wide issue): I am not a fan of data sharing, but I am a fan of useful data collection and accessibility within the district. The district right now is suffering greatly from the lack of usable, easily accessible data.   Not having good data means that the Director of Special Education needs to spend two weeks going through all the student records identifying which students receive Special Education services.   Not having good data means they can't get their ducks in a row to even fill out the forms to request $12 million dollars to fund Special Education.  Not having good data interferes with enrollment predictions for next year and hampers communication about the location of classrooms.  Not having good data means even though they have a federal i

Friday Open Thread

I have many threads to write - student surveys about teachers , Charter Commission meeting, Work Session on data privacy, transportation and athletics (all had very interesting parts). It appears that LEV has joined forces with the City for the universal pre-school initiative.   This is fine except that LEV has been tweeting that people should send e-mails to the Board, urging them to support early childhood education.  So it was kind of funny at the Work Session on Families & Education on Wednesday when President Peaslee somewhat peevishly told the City staff that, of course the district supports early childhood learning but that no one has briefed the Board or staff on what a City/district partnership might look like.   She did not seem happy that the Board was getting painted in this fashion by LEV. Holly Miller of the City's Education Department hastened to say their office did not know why LEV was sending those tweets but, yes, the City does know that the district su

Wilson-Pacific Meeting

It fell off my radar that there was a meeting at Wilson-Pacific last  night (I believe it was a SEPA meeting).  Did anyone attend and if so, could you describe the discussion?  Reports here. Thanks. In a related story, here's what was said at last week's Operations Committee meeting where there was some discussion about Wilson-Pacific.

College Degrees and ROI

Not sure that ROI (return on investment) is really the best way to look at what college/university you pick but for some degrees, it could make a difference.  The Atlantic has a comparison.  Look at where UW is. It's important to be clear about what this study is telling us and what it's not telling us. The fact that the most valuable colleges here seem so predictable is an interesting data point, because the predictably best colleges tend to get the best students. So what you're seeing here isn't just the quality of the school's education but also the quality of the students it attracts.  Indeed, that's one reason why it's important to not conflate "highest ROI" with "best" or "smartest."

Internal Communications Specialist required

Seattle Public Schools has an interesting job posting. Here is a Facebook post about it: Here is a link to the actual job posting. I particularly like the part about "two-way conversation (not just top-down messaging)"

Bumbershoot Goes Back to Memorial Stadium

From The Slog, news that Memorial Stadium will be used all three-days of Bumbershoot.  Here's hoping between allowing a women's soccer team, Reign FC,  to use the field and Bumbershoot, it's a shot of money that can be used to update that stadium.  Seattle's annual Labor Day arts festival Bumbershoot is moving its Mainstage from KeyArena to Memorial Stadium. Key had served that function for the last three years. Memorial Stadium's comeback comes with a new configuration.

Seattle Schools' Advanced Learning Updates

Many updates on Advanced Learning via the Superintendent's Friday update (thanks to Mirmac 1 for finding this).  It is a litany of woes about many issues affecting AL (some of their own making and some the district.  One of them, lack of cooperation from schools, needs some attention from someone.)  Emphasis mine: From Advanced Learning: The most important update continues to be the changes that occurred in April 2013 to the Washington Administrative Code (WAC 392-170) regarding Highly Capable Learners. After speaking with OSPI and colleagues around the state, most districts are making adjustments to their Highly Capable programs in response to the changes. During this transition year, OSPI is providing some lee-way in their annual consolidated program review to allow the districts to adjust.  The new WACs regarding Highly Capable Learners requires that changes be made to our current program delivery model. State law now requires addition

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

When Common Core supporters call Common Core opponents "enemies", I think, hmmm. This appeared in a NY Times op-ed (that I thought was fairly pedantic) and Ready Washington, a mystery public/private WA state cheerleading group for Common Core, retweeted the link as though it's a good thing to divide people who want a transparent discussion about Common Core.  And really, the op-ed isn't even really about Common Core. Speaking of Ready Washington, they say at their Facebook page that the discussion has to be "fact-based."  Okay, but who decides what is factual?  Because at their webpage, they have a big whopper in their FAQs on Common Core: Who developed the Common Core ? The Common Core was created by states, for states. Uh, no, that's not true.  Here's what true (and this comes from numerous sources including U.S News&World Report and Wikipedia). Common Core standards were created by the National Governors Association and the Counci

Let's See If We Can Get the President's Attention

There's a petition going to direct the Department of Education and Congress to remove annual standardized testing mandates of NCLB and RttT.  It needs 97,350 signatures and needs to get to 100,000 to get attention from the White House.  (Update: I had this backwards previously.) Meanwhile the Today show on NBC has a Facebook poll going on about testing: Do you think standardized tests are the best way for kids to learn? Tell us why or why not in the comments below. We’ll tackle the debate on air tomorrow! It's running about 4,000K+no to 32 yes.

Tuesday Open Thread

Parents, Teens and Sex: The Talk, Part 2 Tuesday, March 25th at the SW Branch Library (9010 35th Ave SW) from 6:00pm- 7:30pm Presented by Katie Acker, MPH, Health Educator with the Neighborcare Health School-Based Health Centers at Chief Sealth and West Seattle High Schools W e will reiterate the critical role parents play in teens’ lives, decision making and health-seeking behaviors.  The presentation will include: · brief data on the state of sexual health and sexual activity among teens, · helpful resources for parents, · role play examples and · strategies on initiating and continuing “the talk” and taking the topics to the next levels.  Happened to get a Linkedin e-mail asking me if I wanted to "link" with Suzanne Dale Estey. Turns out she went to work at the Economic Development Council of Seattle/KC and has stepped in as interim CEO. Among district job openings: Coordinator of Equity and Race Relations for Family Communi

Seattle Schools and "Refusal" to Take Tests

I asked SPS for a comment on what the policies are for parents who want to opt their students out of standardized testing.  (Although MAP is not mentioned, these answers probably apply.)  Here is the reply (and I'm happy to see this district not being punitive): Currently for the MSP, we do not have “opt out” but rather parent or student refusal. (The language from the Washington State Assessment Coordinators Manual is at the bottom of this email.) For parents who refuse to have their child tested – they may choose to keep them home in the morning of the test dates or if they come to school, they will be supervised but not have individualized instruction. Supervision could be helping in the library or assistance in K-2 since they do not test MSP. The parent refusal must be initiated by the parent and not a teacher suggestion. We do not have the “sit and stare” policy. Because it is parent initiated, they know their child will not be testing. They will not go to the office

Common Core and What is Coming

I remember from talking to a teacher in Pittsburgh (where coincidentally, this photo was taken), that she told me her school had a "data room" where any teacher in any class could see how every single student was doing AND look up all the data on them - discipline records, F/RL, etc.  This appears to be such a room.  She said the door was not locked and any adult could wander in there.  Would you want other parents seeing this kind of thing?   I see a pink highlight on most of the students in the red section and fewer in the green or yellow sections but I don't know what it means.  From Seattle Education blog, a great video of a 4th-grade mom in Arkansas who uses her three-minutes before her school Board, to explain her deep unhappiness with Common Core.  She even gets the board to interact with her (something you would never see here). 

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, March 24th Seattle Special Education PTSA Meeting , at 7 pm, Rm 2700, JSCEE Topic is Secondary Transition and plans in SPS to to bring the District into compliance with IDEA on secondary transition.  Wednesday, March 26th Oversight Work Session on Athletics/Transportation from 4-6 p.m.  I'm assuming from the length of it that these are two sessions in one.  Agenda . Athletic (sic) Presentation - among the "strengths" - It is interesting to try to read between the lines.  It almost sounds like this department wants to run more effectively and smoothly but needs help with technology and a clear direction on how to proceed from the top - among the "weaknesses" - transportation, difficulties in communications and "inability to attract, recruit and maintain quality athletic coaches."   - "threats/risks" (an unfortunate column name) - " increasing responsibilities for adm

Race in our Public Schools

More news on race and children in America. I offer this information as news.  I have tried not to editorialize much here but to listen to what others are saying.  Somewhere in this country, people are suspending preschoolers and most of them are children of color or Special Education students.  (I didn't even know you could suspend a pre-schooler.)  This story from the Huffington Post.   It's a wide-ranging report that goes from preschool thru high school and examines not just discipline but offerings in districts throughout the country.  A staggering new report released by the Department of Education and the Justice Department on Friday highlights a troubling pattern of zero-tolerance school discipline policies that disproportionately impact minority students in general, but also trickle down to the nation’s youngest students. While black children represent only 18% of preschool enrollment nationally, they make up 42% of students suspended once and nearly half

The White House Wants Your Input on Big Data and Privacy

Please go to this White House site and give the President your opinion on data privacy.  There is a message from John Podesta, who is aide and counselor to the President, in a short video where he states that he is the Chair of the "Big Data and Privacy Working Group" at the White House. Here are the two big questions that are being asked by the White House: 1) Which technologies or use of data is most transforming in your day-to-day life? 2) Which technologies or use of data gives you pause? (Oddly, Mr. Podesta asks both questions but the survey doesn't.  Let them know what gives you pause.)  I'll simply say - again - that I believe over the next 10 years, the new coin of the realm in our country, for both government and business, will be personal data.   (My other coin of the realm over the next 20+years? Water, not oil.) We , the people, should be directing where this line is, not Bill Gates or Arne Duncan (for public school children) and not unilat

Seattle Schools and Opting Out

I'll have to ask SPS just what happens if a student opts out of a school-wide test.  But here is what is happening in other parts of the country (and it's just wrong). From the Washington Post's The Answer Sheet , the policy of "sit and stare."  Districts and schools are allowing students to opt out but only if they sit still for the entire duration of the test.  No reading, no homework, no headphones.  I'm surprised they don't make them just sit in a corner and face the wall. “Sit and stare” policies are being considered or adopted in schools from New York to California as a reaction to the growing “opt out” movement in which parents have decided that they do not want their children to have to take high-stakes standardized tests. Each state has its own policy about opting out, but they don’t generally provide districts with guidance about how to enforce it, so administrators come up with their own policies. As the number of parents opting out

Friday Open Thread

Seattle Education blog is having a Meetup .  It's An Opt-Out Workshop with Jesse Hagopian (currently running on the SEE slate - Social Equality Educators - for SEA president). It's Wednesday, March 26th at 6:30 p.m.  RSVP: (you must RSVP to attend as it is being held at a private home.)  What's on your mind?

Students First? If You Pay Enough

Michelle Rhee's group, Students First, has been trying to get more "likes" at Facebook.  Or rather, buying more "likes."  From Big Education Ape blog :  The most popular country for her Students First group is in Bangladesh?  Well, yes because... Search on Facebook for " We Sell Likes in Bangladesh ." You'll see that anyone can buy 1000 likes for about $15 bucks. (Click HERE to go buy likes or fake friends for yourself.) Click HERE to read an article that tells about the dishonest business of buying popularity on social media sites.  The most popular city for the Alabama Students First?  Istanbul, Turkey. 

Seattle Schools Staff Cuts - Not So Restored

Update:  here is what Superintendent Banda said in a press release on Tuesday: As a result, each school was given a funding amount based on student population, including weighted discretionary dollars, to make budget decisions that best fit the needs of their school. The goal was to provide as much flexibility to schools to meet the needs of their school population. Subsequently, we have heard from our school staff that this new formula is detrimental to our schools. Please know we listened to your concerns and funding of our classrooms and schools remains our first priority. As of today, $1.8 million has already been restored to schools and the Executive Directors of Schools are working with school leaders to have the remaining amounts in place this week. We intend to fully restore what was cut during the WSS allocation. End of update. In an e-mail that was sent yesterday to SPS principals, Executive Directors and the Superintendent Leadership Team (but not the Board

Common Core Math _ One Parent's Thoughts

Common Core math problem of the day (and look how cleverly they worked in showing your words).

Scenes from Last Night's Board Meeting

Last night's Board meeting saw the honoring of four (!) SPS basketball championship teams.  (My apologies to Garfield's boys basketball team - I managed to flub my photos of them.) Ballard High School Beavers -Special Olympics Unified Basketball Team Cleveland High School Lady Eagles- 3A State Champs Rainier Beach Vikings - 3A State Champions The Superintendent in a demonstration of how much a middle school student would have to carry w/o a locker. Later Start protesters before the meeting Ballard High Video by Will Erstad, Aurore Bouriot and Side Johnson about needing more sleep.

Seattle Schools' Transportation Costs - If We Fund Charter Students, What Will That Mean?

I knew when the charter school initiative was being debated that charter schools were not supposed to get as much money for transportation as real public schools.  In fact, one of the main questions in the application was about transport. So now it turns out that in the recently passed Budget bill there was a section to cut down the transportation funding.  (This comes to us via the Washington Policy Center.) Section 505(2)(b) of the House Budget Amendment to the Senate Budget bill, SB 6002 , would have required transportation funding for charter school students to be calculated based on “total number of students in the district.” The voter-approved charter school law, however, requires that, “Allocations for pupil transportation must be calculated on a per student basis based on the allocation for the previous school year to the school district in which the charter school is located” (RCW 28A.710.220(3)).  If you know our charter law, every charter school is its own dist

Seattle Schools Parent-Teacher Conferences - What Works?

 From the thread on The Source/Fusion: Also, maybe this is a thread request, and potentially not relevant, but I am thinking about parent teacher conferences and what the expectations should be. What do you learn in P/T conferences, and what would you like to learn? Any hints for making the conference time more effective?  Both from the teacher POV and parent POV, what do you want from a parent/teacher conference?  

The Gap Between Rhetoric and Action

There are a lot of people in Education who say all of the right things, but then, somehow, go ahead and do all of the wrong things. This continues to astound me. We see it all the time from US Secretary of Education, the Governor, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Education Reformers, Board Directors, the Superintendent, and the senior staff. No one, however, shows me a bigger gap between what they say and what they do than the Alliance for Education. They top the list with the biggest gap of all because they always, always, always say the very best things. They not only say the right things, but they state them eloquently and passionately. Then they always, always, always do the very worst things. They do them with extraordinary gusto and grim determination. It freaks me out every time I witness it. That happened again today when I received an email from the Alliance for Education President Sara Morris.

Wilson-Pacific Meeting

Thought I'd open a thread for anyone who attended that meeting to weigh in. As I posted elsewhere, I am baffled by the use of Wilson-Pacific fields for Lincoln High. Why not Woodland Park?  Or, near me, they are going to lid the reservoir near Roosevelt High.  Why not dedicate one of those fields to Lincoln? I said I think the district is doing the wrong thing on the Genesee Hill Elementary school design. I think the district is creating a monster problem - from the get-go, no less - with Wilson-Pacific. No lockers, no auditorium (for two schools!) and shared field?  Not exactly the same middle school experience as other SPS middle schools.  If there is no dedicated space for music in the middle school, I have to wonder what they can even offer.  It will certainly be lesser to Eckstein or Jane Addams. Just wanted to put up the Operations Committee meeting agenda for Thursday, March 21st from 4:30-6:30 pm. There are several capital items of interest: BEX Oversight Co

SEA Response to SPS Budget Cut Reversal

--> Dear SEA members, Congratulations! By acting collectively on behalf of students and schools, and by shining a light on SPS budget practices that have routinely overestimated expenses, we have succeeded in getting the District to reverse the $4 million in school budget cuts! By Monday night, 40 schools had voted no on their school budgets, with dozens more set to follow suit this week.   Hundreds of members were making plans to come to the school board meeting tomorrow night.   Now that will not be necessary; the school board action is cancelled. This unprecedented action by SEA members helped District leaders understand the devastating impact the cuts would have, and focused them on SEA’s budget analysis, which showed a pattern of overestimating expenses which has resulted in substantial end of year savings for the last 4 years. We also commend the many principals, executive directors and central office administrators who worked diligently to understand

KOMO Helicopter Crash; Please Stay Away from Area

Mayor Murray and SPD are asking people to please stay away from the Seattle Center area in the wake of this morning's crash of a KOMO helicopter that killed the two people onboard and seriously injured a driver in a car where the crash occurred. EMP and the Monorail are closed.  It is likely that any school activities that may have been scheduled for that area (like Science Center) are cancelled.  You might want to check with your school if any outings were scheduled in that area for this week. It's a sad day for all reporters and journalists.  It makes me think of two things. One was the day of the Cafe Racer shootings when no one knew where the shooter had gone.  I went over to Roosevelt High School that was in lock-down and surrounded by school security staff and SPD.  I ran into Times' reporter, Brian Rosenthal, and remarked that I couldn't believe he and I were standing around looking for news when there could be a shooter nearby.  He, in his 23-year old wisd

Tuesday Open Thread

A six-year-old calls Hasbro out on its Guess Who game (with 19 men and only 5 women on the game board).  They write back with a silly answer and her mom weighs in. A bipartisan bill has been introduced into the House of Representatives to cut down on high-stakes testing.  In the on-going debate about discipline, zero-tolerance discipline and how to keep a classroom orderly (while NOT suspending kids), an interesting article from Education Next.   One report, Discipline Disparities, has a lot of good info and says this: One oft-repeated justification for frequent suspensions is that schools must be able to remove the “bad” students so that “good” students can learn. There is no research to support this popular theory. To the contrary, when schools serving similar populations were compared across the state of Indiana, and poverty was controlled for, those schools with relatively low suspension rates had higher, not lower test scores. But two other studies find that stud

Seattle Schools Backs Off on School Cuts

I have received word of the following: The district is to recind the budget cuts to schools and add $1.8M to the budget to cover these cuts. The union is urging members to still attend the School Board meeting on Wednesday to support later start times. I'll be checking in with both groups tomorrow. Update:  Banda's letter to school staff (which I find wordy and not entirely clear).   But, the upshot is that $1.8M will be "restored" to schools and "We intend to fully restore what was cut during the WSS allocation."  It is unclear to me when that might happen (meaning, is this aspirational or doable?)