Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Open Thread

The Florida legislature will be considering a bill to meet grad requirements for high school students by substituting computer science for ...PE.  Yes, that makes sense with childhood obesity.  The rates of childhood obesity have leveled off but this doesn't seem to make sense.  I would think allowing anyone in a sport to not take PE but high school PE is a way to teach kids about the importance of regular exercise or new sports. 

Want something to do with the kids as the weather gets better?  This woman has walked nearly every park in Seattle (there are 425 official ones).  This story from My Northwest.

Community Meeting with Director Martin-Morris tomorrow from 11 am to 12:30 pm at Montlake Branch Library.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

Has Sue Peters had a community meeting yet?


Melissa Westbrook said...

I believe so. As well, she has had community meetings at schools in her region. You might contact her.

Anonymous said...

The legislature did not act by the time they adjourned last night on either bill in front of them to address the use of state test scores in teacher evaluation. Therefore, there is no change to state law regarding this issue. In other words, state test scores MAY get used in teacher evaluation -- they do not have to be used.

--- swk

P.S. I also posted this in the teacher evaluation thread.

Lynn said...

I think kids get plenty of exposure to new sports in middle school. I don't see the point of PE in high school. Better to take a language or music or art class - or have a study hall period.
Starting school an hour later would be a better tool to fight obesity.

Anonymous said...

Sue came to our school gave us an update on what was going on, and was very interested in what the parents had to say. She was invited to come and did so.

QAE parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good points, Lynn.

Broadmom said...

I have to disagree with Lynn. My boys do not participate in team sports. We doing skiing, hiking, biking as a family but sometimes they go with limited activity because of weather. I am always happy when they have PE. We are a middle class family. I would guess there are MANY lower income kids who do not participate in sports or recreational activities with families. I think PE is very important in high school. Waivers for kids doing sports is totally acceptable. But I think we need to keep fitness part of the high school curriculum.

Of course, longer school hours with time for study hall and less homework would be great! My 9th grader said he would rather go to school year round and have no or limited homework.

Anonymous said...

In the news today:
Roosevelt HS warns parents of spike in drugs, alcohol
- News

Anonymous said...

Met the Roosevelt principal at Hale last night. Very nice guy.

Hale allows 2 of your PE credits to be waived by participating in school sports. 1 credit has to be a PE class. What do other high schools do?


Anonymous said...

Stressed out by SPS budget allocations ... our PTA has basically been told to keep writing checks without any input on the decisions being made.

N by NW

maje said...

Our PTA was asked by the Principal to fund an extra 30K next year, which will be used to fund things that SPS cut from the school's budget.

RosieReader said...

Maje, I hope the teachers at your school voted to reject that proposed budget!!!!

And I don't know what school you're from, but even for the most well-funded PTOs/PTAs in Seattle, that's a huge increase. For many shcools, or course, that amount is more than several times their entire PTO budget.

I'd say "what is this world coming to," but from a school budget perspective, the answer is too depressingly clear already.

Anonymous said...

Hale is supposed to lose around $500,000 according to the high school newspaper, the Sentinel. No way we can make up that sort of change.


mirmac1 said...

The board needs to find out what that laundry list of honey-dos discussed at the board retreat costs. More ed reform claptrap with a hefty price tag.

Anonymous said...

What about south end schools? Are their proposed budgets just as tight? PTAs should not be making up for cuts in personnel.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will point out that the district DID chose to fund something new - they are spending $100K+ for the HR department to be part of the Urban Schools Human Capital Academy. As part of being in that group, they will sent 4 HR people, twice in a year, to conferences. Of course, that $100k doesn't include airfare so the district will foot that.

The entire cost is $150k but Philanthropic Partners in Public Education. It's a bit of a mysterious group that I can't much info on except they meet 4 times a year "to discuss relevant initiatives and sometimes to join together on a specific project."

I smell a Gates connection.

The district says that if they want to continue into years 2-3 (it's a 3-year deal), they will find private funding.

What is annoying is that the district has tried to revamp HR previously. Is this a new revamping. (I note that HR gave a Work Session report this week that got pretty good reviews from the Board although we are on the higher side of FTE for that department vis a vis peer districts.)

I don't tell you this to make you mad but the district is spending all kinds of money on consultants and initiatives that may not even know about. They want to strengthen their "systems" which I get because the headquarters doesn't run well.

But they never stop to step back and ask two questions.

1) are we trying to do too much in this district? What are the REAL priorities and are they the MOST important and are there TOO many?

When you have little time and money, that's what you do - strip down.

2) How much money does the district REALLY need in reserves? The SEA is saying they keep anywhere from $20-50M (I'm waiting for their data) and it's too much especially when asking schools to make cuts.

And, the district has NO business asking/expecting PTAs to fill any of these gaps.

mirmac1 said...

I'll take some poetic license and say I see the PPPE (or 3PE whatever) as the "Illuminati" - a secretive group of corporate interests with token input from minority, politically-connected groups. Their organ is the Alliance for Education and Sara Morris.

The aforementioned mouthpiece tangled $150K during Enfield's time to "transform HR". What resulted was a snoozefest of UW academic Meredith Honig giving lectures and holding team-building exercises.

The HR Powerpoint clearly showed how SPS brought employee investigations in-house, to the tune of around 5 FTEs, so that teachers and classified staff on principals' blacklists can get easily drummed out. I've seen the many "investigations".

This is one way our money gets wasted.

Anonymous said...

I'm an elementary school counselor that is being cut. Every day is painful now because in addition to the rewarding feelings that I have when I am instrumental in helping a child to become safe, or to shift from bullying to leadership, it's accompanied by a painful feeling and the thought that next year it won't happen.

The work that counselors do is largely confidential. Counselors like myself are the ones who know just how much cutting us hurts.


Anonymous said...

Somehow, despite continued projected growth, a new ELL program, over 40% FRL, and inclusion SpEd, John Rogers once again was not allocated for an elementary counselor.

Our PTA will most-likely vote to support the 0,5 counselor position, for the 3rd year in a row.

I went to the Banda strategic plan meeting last night, and it is hard to take all the talk of meeting the needs of all students, equity, etc... when an essential position, like the elementary counselor is not funded at our school.

It is ridiculous that the PTA of a 40+% FRL school is seemingly expected to fund their own counselor (or go without).

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

North end mom,
Your school deserves a counselor!
To me it seems like life is getting harder and harder for kids. They are dealing with huge issues-abuse, neglect, homelessness, suicide, guns in the home, abandonment, foster homes, substance abuse in their homes, incarcerated family members, poverty. These are some of the issues I see in my middle class neighborhood school. Children spend the bulk of their waking hours at school. They deserve access to professionals who can help them with these issues. And they need this in order to learn! That is just a small part of what counselors do and it's hugely important.

I know that Seattle Schools and Washington State can find the money if they stopped catering to greedy psychopaths.

Thanks for caring NEM!


Anonymous said...

This links is available off the SEA website where they discuss the budget cuts. I think the fourth slide on the following link is where they show the gap in projected and actual ending fund balance over the last four years.


Also, there is a petition about the budget with a video produced by Mary Smith at Ingraham High School about the impact of the budget cuts.

-No More Cuts

Anonymous said...

Maje ... similar ask at our school ... another $20,000.

This after our PTA survey showed that parents are already concerned about the sustainability of raising the amount we already do.

N by NW

Lynn said...


My kids don't participate in organized sports either - and they loathe PE. I think schools should focus on academics and recognize that exercise, (like good eating habits and getting enough sleep) is the family's responsibility. I wasn't suggesting longer school hours - I was suggesting study hall in place of PE.
Offering PE as an elective would be fine - but I would argue that mandatory study hall/academic intervention periods would make more sense for struggling students.


There should be uniformity across the district for things like PE waivers. (Some schools will waive all PE credit whether you play sports or not.)

Anonymous said...

"...uniformity across the district..." That's a good one, Lynn!

As far as I can tell, there are very few areas in SPS in which there's any consistency from school to school. It's a free-for-all.


Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, Hamilton's PE waiver used to require 90 hours, even though the state requirement is 60 hours (and neighboring schools required 60 hours). It was brought to the school's attention and they eventually reverted to 60 hours.

Yeah, it does feel like a free-for-all where it's hard to find the person accountable.

-same old

Anonymous said...

N by NW - I'm curious how your PTA phrased the survey question you mention... "This after our PTA survey showed that parents are already concerned about the sustainability of raising the amount we already do."

I think that's a very important question to ask of donors.

Also, if you feel comfortable, what is the income raised for your school?

fellow mom

seattle citizen said...

Melissa smelled a Gates connection at the Urban Schools Human Capital Academy (to whom SPS will give $100,000). Smell no further than their CEO, then take a whiff of the reform wafting off many of the other team members:

USHCA Team - Selected “reformy” points from bios:
Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Arons Chief Executive Officer
Chief Executive Officer and founder; Chief Executive Officer of Human Resources, New York City Department of Education; From 2007-2011, she worked as a Human Resources/Human Capital Consultant for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, supporting human resources reform in…[many cities];
Darlene Merry Chief Academic Officer
recent role as a Senior Advisor to New Leaders for New Schools, Darlene was responsible for serving as a thought leader and a critical consultant in the work of turnaround school leadership, human capital management, and district leadership
Charles “Chuck” Cascio Chief Communications Officer
Vice President at Educational Testing Service (ETS) for ten years; Before joining ETS, Chuck was Vice President for Certification Standards and Teacher Development at the National Board
Danielle Pickens Senior Human Capital Advisor
Human Resources Director for the New York City Department of Education; served as a project coordinator for the Chicago Public Schools and worked at Accenture, a management consulting firm
Craig Chin Human Capital Partner
[In Boston Public Schools] played a key leadership role in a human resources reinvention initiative, as well as implementing Race to the Top, Teacher Incentive Fund, and Teacher Quality; worked in management consulting with Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton, and Benchmarking Partners. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering
Roberta Cole Ellis Human Capital Partner
[In Tulsa] worked closely with Betsy Arons and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to redesign the Human Capital Department
Michael Moore Human Capital Partner
Michael led the core program at New Leaders, Inc. as Chief Academic Officer. New Leaders, a national nonprofit, recruits, selects, trains, and supports principals for the most underserved schools in 12 urban areas.
Monica Santana Rosen Human Capital Partner
recently, Monica directed the Chicago Public Schools efforts to improve the quality of principals; at the end of the 2011 school year to launch her own business consulting in education on principal effectiveness and HR redesign. Early clients include Newark Public Schools, The George W. Bush Institute, and The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems.
Dr. Rosa A. Smith Human Capital Partner
Most recently, she served as the Regional Education Director for New Leaders for New Schools (NLNS; Prior to joining NLNS, Rosa was President and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education
Dr. Jane Lai Woodburn Human Capital Partner
She collaborated with staff from Teach for America and The New Teacher Project to develop a Hiring for Attitude project

seattle citizen said...

Oh, and about all those New Leaders for New Schools connections:
"New Leaders for New Schools (now 'New Leaders') was founded in 2000 by a group including Jonathan Schnur, former education policy analyst for President Bill Clinton;[3] Ben Fenton, former management consultant at McKinsey & Co.;[4] Mike Johnston, a former Teach for America corps member; Allison Gaines, a former New York City public school teacher; and Monique Burns, an education-reform advocate specializing in charter schools"

Anonymous said...

I went to a private college prep school and we were required to have PE. No waivers for any sports.

PE is not an uncommon requirement.


Blueglass said...

According to the Alliance for Education website, the Philanthropic Partnership for Public Education (PPPE) is one of their endeavors. I think it used to stand alone (based on the Social Venture Partnership website) but it's listed on SPS grant funding docs as a subset of the Alliance for Education as well.

Blueglass said...

Also, the Urban Schools Human Capital Academy makes it pretty clear on their website that it started as a Gates funded venture: The Urban Schools Human Capital Academy was founded as an initiative in Human Resources reform supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
BMGF's grant funding database shows they received $4,475,911 in 2011 to be used over a period of 43 months.
Pretty clear who's behind that one.

Anonymous said...

To: Fellow Mom

This is the question we put in the survey. Most picked the second answer. However, the open comments that followed the question were quite telling in how parents were feeling in regards to funding staff.

Our PTA donates a huge amount to the school ... and this year the school is asking for even more.

Q) Due to concerns of sustainability, the National PTA states: "PTAs should not fund additional school staff during the school day, an occurrence that places school districts in the difficult position of trying to continue funding said staff once PTA funding ceases."

Please choose the statement you most agree with:

**I believe the PTA should NOT fund school staff positions.

** Ideally, the PTA should NOT fund school staff positions, but due to budget short-falls, I agree with providing funds to the school for staff positions.

** I fully support PTA funding school staff positions regardless of sustainability.

N by NW

Anonymous said...

Thanks N by NW !

-fellow mom

Stephen said...

I attended the Western Washington University Orchestra Festival in Bellingham on Friday.

SPS was well-represented, with Eckstein (five separate performances!), Hamilton's chamber orchestra, and West Seattle HS performing on Friday. Other schools performing were Explorer (Mukilteo), Tyee (Bellevue), and University Prep.