Friday, March 28, 2014

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 supports this effort and yes, they will be filling the district/Board in soon on what the City is planning.

Peaslee did go on to say that the City HAS to realize the space crunch that the district is in and there may be very little room to house any additional preschools.  (My sources tell me that Councilman Burgess seems to not understand this issue and continues to think the district has space for multiple preschool classes.)  Again, Ms. Miller said the City does understand and praised SPS staff for "creative" thinking on this issue even if there is not space at schools.

On the heels of that discussion, I have heard from those who have done the deep dig/thinking on the growth of the district and it seems that the district will continue to grow and, apparently, most of that growth is most likely to take place in the lower grades (not kindergarten but 1st/2nd).  It could be that Pay for K is masking people who may show up in bigger numbers in 1st grade and may stretch our district's resources even more. 

Bill Moyers interviews Diane Ravitch on his show on Sunday on KCTS at 6:30 p.m.

Letter that Neil DeGrasse Tyson wrote to Carl Sagan in 1975 when Tyson was a senior in high school.  Tell your kids it never hurts to reach out to people.  Tyson is now doing Sagan's Cosmos series (and it's very good). 

What's on your mind?


mirmac1 said...

Again with the mysterious Youth Development Executives of King County (YDEKC), linked with Schools Out, "aligning" initiatives with CBOs and "enabling" student data collection, use and sharing. "enabling" student data collection, use and sharing. I like the topic at this meeting: What SPS wishes CBS knew about partnerships and data sharing. Yeah, like FERPA and privacy maybe?

mirmac1 said...

A Work Session that WASN'T interesting was the City FEL update. These folks are so data happy they went bonkers with charts and tables that didn't make sense. The "animated" maps had Hamilton in WS. Some programs showed gains or losses in MSP etc with an n=11. They reported that 20% of the FEL $$ went to "data support". And all the Pre-K programs, there's only ONE Native-American enrolled?!

With all this data gibberish, you can miss the forest for the trees.

Anonymous said...

The city and SPS can't collaborate to resolve the Cascade/NW Center space issue and we are to expect that they will work closely together to site and plan the myriad facilities and programs needed for quality preschool for all?

Not buying it for a second.

I'm an A1 supporter of quality preschool for all but I won't vote for funding unless I see how a collaboration might really work. I don't expect to be persuaded. That's tragic, but there it is. There is no sense flushing money down the drain and having critics say that preschool doesn't work (it does) when the initiative can't get traction because of ineptness in city-district partnering.

Does the Families and Ed Levy and SPS work closely? Not really. They are 2 separate entities that tolerate each other.

Do Parks and SPS work closely together? Not really. Could be much tighter relationship.

Does City Development/Planning/Zoning and SPS work closely together? Ha.

Does City or County transportation and SPS work closely? Double Ha.

Do city politicians and SPS administration respect each other? Not that I can see. Burgess and possibly McGinn sit in the EdReform camp. The current SPS board does not. Who knows where Banda and his troops sit. They are duck n cover types.

Unless the City and SPS TOGETHER can demonstrate, with real plans and real people, how this would work, it's a boondoggle.

LEV inserting itself at this point (WHY????!!!) just shows what a gravytrain feedtrough of "there might be money in here for us" morass of taxpayer education dollars with no firm capital or operational objectives this could be.


mirmac1 said...

Amen DW

Curious said...

Melissa, were you at the Strategic Plan community meeting at Ballard High School last night? Was anyone else reading this in attendance?

I am curious to know more about one particular issue that came up during the question period at the end - involving uncertainty about a proposed change to the Transitions programs (special education for students 18-21 years old). The Superintendent's first response was, unfortunately, "I haven't heard anything about this until tonight." Michael Tolley and a woman who said she was a K-12 special education program manager both responded with skepticism, but it was clear that numerous parents had been told by district staff at the Special Ed PTSA meeting that this change was coming.

Does anyone have more details about this?

Eric B said...

One mode of cooperation that is used in Boston and NJ is having districts supply training and PD and the city/state provide the space and pay for the district support. As long as the city knows that they are finding space, I don't have a problem with this. The only possible exception is small short-term time limited projects in the startup phase. Even that is fraught with danger of becoming a Cascade/NWC problem where the tenant doesn't want to leave the space they have been using.

From a practical perspective, I think the city would be very well advised to use a storefront model, where you have a small number of classrooms of PreK intermixed with other commercial businesses in neighborhoods rather than at larger central sites like schools. Getting services closer to where people are reduces transportation costs and increases community acceptance and involvement. In a truly ideal world, I'd like to see everyone with a child in PreK able to walk to their classroom with their child.

Anonymous said...

You bring up excellent points Eric B. Unfortunately, SPS does not have a strong history of PD within its K12 system. Whether this is a funding or competency issue I don't know. And then there is the SPS ability to roll out core programming at multiple sites which has not had a stellar track record (see advanced learning, special education, arts enrichment, general ed expectations, languages or pick your own pet topic)

So then a thinking person says: right: just let the city and its partners like Gates and LEV handle the preK training and curriculum. Major pitfalls there: suddenly you've got an initiative unlikely to dovetail into SPS kindergarten not to mention the overlap of the SPS mandate to be involved with preK services for special education. And petty infighting over whether city noneducators have any right to tell educators how to set up preK.

I'm not saying it couldn't work. Boy, I sure wish and hope it can work. But I am exceedingly skeptical, looking at the divergent interests, knowledge bases and motivations of the city, SPS and ed "players"/nonprofits in this city. They don't play well together. Neither are any of them (and I include Gates here, despite its world reputation) especially educationally strong on their own.

I see mediocrity, politics and a money-suck as the leaders in a preschool initiative outcome. If any of the big players (SPS, city, nonprofits) can convince me that helping kids love learning, getting a strong start for kids in education, and partnering with families to teach them how to help their kids learn would be the primary outcomes then I'll be helping to pass a levy. But I want concrete plans not platitudes and vision. Murray and Banda and City Council and SPS Board and LEV and Gates together supplying a coherent plan? Hmmmmmmmm.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, I was not in attendance at Ballard last night. I don't know the Transitions program. I would ask Sped PTA president Mary Griffin on this one. It's odd that something would be said by staff at the SPED meeting and then the Sped director)(?) tells you something else.

Unknown said...

Warning- RANT alert and Warning

YDEKC is just another Gates funded youth education nonprofit offshoot arising out of the morass of other Gates funded youth education nonprofits.

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 investigation staring down their throats, SPS can not produce good data statistics around discipline. Particularly galling to me is that even though I spent several weeks of my life writing a position paper on the the disproportionate discipline that has been dished out on students with disabilities and tried to hammer out the point that the collection and dis-aggregation of these statistics to include students with disabilities was one of the most important things that the district needs to do, they aren't going to do it at all for the 2012-2013 school year. Why? BECAUSE IT ISN'T A PRIORITY! There is good evidence that providing principals about the use of exclusionary discipline in their buildings will help drive down the use of exclusionary discipline. By not being able to provide them and the public with data, the district is dis-serving students.

Additionally, the Special Education department's new external consultant's plan to improve the delivery of special education services to the district relies heavily on providing data to principals. If the districts infrastructure can not provide the data, I have little hope that the consultant's plan will be effective.

The district needs to make the collection and disaggregration of civil rights and special education data a top priority. It is hampering them and more importantly, it is hampering students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay Mary, I'm putting that up as a thread.

I will also say that yes, data, its collection, its safeguards, its destruction after use (by outside contractors) AND its analysis are hugely important.

This is now the second time this week I have heard this story. The first was Transportation saying that the transfer from one technology system to another caused them to have to do a lot of work by hand.

That's just crazy talk in this day and age AND given how much the district has spent. (or not spent).

That parents/teachers struggle with The Source/Fusion, the public with the website and staff with using the technology is so wrong.

But, as I like to say to the Board, priorities, kids.

Eric B said...

Curious: I was at the Ballard meeting, but had to leave before Q&A. I have heard that at the SpEdPTSA meeting this week, parents were told that the transition program in the north end would be moved to a single site from the three schools it's at now (Ingraham, Hale, and Ballard). This is (IMHO) a terrible idea on many levels, from serving students to capacity management.

I wasn't at the meeting, but one person who was there said that when asked about how this would affect the Special Olympics Unified sports teams, district staff said that the Unified program was a leisure activity. Regardless of whether that's a word-for-word quote, the Unified teams would probably disappear under the change. This illustrates the terrible equity issues that SpEd faces--would staff say that football at Ballard (or basketball at Garfield, or...) was a leisure activity?

Ingraham had a parade with the marching band and cheerleaders for their Unified team champions. Ironically, the NW's executive Director's presentation listed the Ballard Unified team's success as a NW Region success. The program they basically said they would kill and wasn't important.

This program is about so much more than sports. It's just a simple example of the inequity in the system.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Eric. Can someone who was at the SpEd PTSA meeting on Monday please post more information about this plan to move the transition program to single sites in the north and south end starting in Fall 2014? This seems like a really big change for the students and families involved.

I have heard the students would be moved out of all the high schools and into a "hub" that would not be a high school building. Someone at the meeting was reporting that the Lincoln building was mentioned. How do parents in the transition program or the transition students feel about this?

Regardless of any move, the Special Olympics Unified program absolutely needs to be maintained.

-a parent

Unknown said...

Regarding the SpEd PTSA meeting where it was announced that the district would be developing two hubs for the 18-21 transitional services, what has been reported seems accurate.

We have asked the district for official communication on this matter and expect to have it by Monday.

No one in SpEd PTSA had heard of this change at this meeting. We were expecting to hear how the district was making progress on their transition portion of the Comprehensive Corrective Action Plan. I reviewed this data the other day and found that in February of this year, the most recent report indicates that the district was only achieving a 22% compliance rate with the six components of a compliant IEP. Sherry said that this compliance responsibility is being shifted to the principals. She has educated all of them on the use of a checklist to ensure compliance. I am not sure that this approach is working, as the most recent CCAP report indicates that only 22% of pulled IEP's were compliant with these standards.

Getting back to the actual families, we will distribute what we know as soon as we know it.

Families should also know that there will be an open microphone night with the external consultants on April 8, from 5-8pm at John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence. We are encouraging as many families as can make it to come and make comments on SpEd services for a few minutes each.

mirmac1 said...

Sorry for my typos on the first post. : (

But apparently there is friction between SPS and their CBOs (community-based organizations), with respect to data-grabbing. With the introduction of ConnectEDU, CBOs came out of the woodwork, excited to have access to students' GPA, career goals, survey results. I guess the Source and SPS' nightly automated data reports aren't enough to meet their needs. And I see that students are directed to use their email address for their username because it will be their "login for life"

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Mary. Only 22 percent of the pulled IEPs were compliant?? That is shocking.

Is there anything parents can do to push the district to comply in this area other than appear at the open microphone night on April 8?

-concerned parent

Anonymous said...

On the subject of universal preschool in Seattle: Did anyone read the Washington Post letter and subsequent comments on the kindergarten teacher quitting because it's all about data and not about her kids anymore? She's drawn a heap of attention, including an appearance on the Today show.

Here is the link.


Melissa Westbrook said...

EdVoter, yup, saw it. We'll see more of this as we go on, I'll wager.

Pitiful said...

Burgess and LEV have always showed a complete disregard for the board and process They prefer the tactic of bullying.

What's happening? said...

To be clear, there are attempts to turn the K-12 system into a pre-K-12 system. Is the city attempting to place infra-structure for pre-K-12 system?

The state is under a court order to fund K-12, and the state has allocated dollars for early learning.

LEV/city want SPS buy in. Where are we headed?

If the city is successful in incorporating Pre-K- 12, will the state be willing to fund pre-K in addition to mandated K-12 as required by the courts? I don't think so.

Another Point said...

I should mention, the state has counted early learning dollars as fulfilling McCleary mandate.

Josh Hayes said...

I am reading (Sunday afternoon) that Jesse Hagopian has been disqualified from running for SEA president because he's on paternity leave. Can anyone confirm this?

If this is true, I don't know whether to be angry because of it, or pleased that the reform slate has got people so scared that they have to pull stupid crap like this.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Josh, I"m looking into that. If true, not good and that will be a real issue with a lot of people.

And, it needs to be outed that this is what happens when those in power don't want to run fair elections.

seattle citizen said...

If it is true that Jesse Hagopian was disqualified from the upcoming vote on SEA leadership, I have a question and a point based on this document:
2014 NEA and WEA Delegate Ballot (SEA division)choosing delegates
These results, votes of SEA members, were certified by the SEA Board.

Question: If Jesse was certified as a delegate by the board at the end of January, how come he is now ineligible to be a candidate in this race?

Point: Note that in both NEA and WEA categories by SEA rank and file, Jesse is second, and a close second, in votes garnered in this delegate vote. Jonathan Knapp is barely first. That explains, perhaps, why Jesse is now (purportedly) disqualified....

Anonymous said...

Hi mirmac1 & Mary Griffin. I have a friend whose child is kept in the Sped room all day long this year. Last year she was in the gen ed class some of the time where they either let her crouch under a table or sit in the back of the class with a book.No attempts to teach. Is this legal?


Anonymous said...

CCA, has your friend tried calling the Office of the Education Ombudsman? Number is 866-297-2597.

Here is some information about the right to the least restrictive environment (to be educated with children without disabilities to the "maximum extent appropriate") : http://nichcy.org/schoolage/placement/placement-lre

As you can see from that website (or by looking on Wrightslaw), preschool students and secondary transition students also have this right.

SpecialEd Parent

seattle citizen said...

CCA, I am not a Special Education teacher, but I teach general ed. From what I know about the law, what's going on with your child would not be legal (as you describe it.)
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) means that your child should be evaluated for her needs (which they already have, since you identify her as Special Ed) then they must provide her the LRE, in other words, as close to the experience of a gen ed student as is possible, given her particular needs. If a decision was made to move her from a Resource Room setting to a general ed setting (for any amount of time) then the expectation is that a) her experience there would be made, with the effort of the teacher (and an IA or accompanying Special Ed teacher, if called for given her situation), as close to the general ed experience as possible.
While "accommodations" (legal term for different ways to address curriculum: longer for tests, modified readings, etc) might be made, she should still be generally participating, as well as she is able, with the general class.
If she is not getting any instruction at all (under the table; reading a non-curricular book) then she is not getting what she is legally entitled to.
LRE means as close to gen-ed as is possible. Just putting her in the same room with gen-ed students doesn't cut it.

Anonymous said...

Your friend can also take a look at WAC 392-172A-02050: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=392-172A-02050

-SpecialEd Parent

Watching said...

It should be noted that the $15/hr campaign and AFT has entered into the pre-K campaign.

Articles indicate that Burgess might not be happy, but $15/hr would make teaching positions attractive.

More Data said...

The Seattle Times EduLab is collecting data from high school students related to guidance counselors. High Schools are putting this link to PTA newsletters:


More data for Gates, but how will the data be utilized??

mirmac1 said...

I'm guessing they'll be used to justify increasing ratios of students to guidance counselors, now that new web tools by for-profits (ConnectEDU) now give the appearance of "counseling". What is so disconcerting is how so many secondary counselors are so very excited when SPS and CCER push these things. It looks to me that district would love to foist this service onto CBOs.

Unknown said...


I would second the comment to call the OEO at 1-866-297-2597. Also, they have a very hand booklet about the rights of students with disabilities available for download at http://1.usa.gov/1pFZdjH.

If your friend wants to contact me, please have them send me an email at maryvgriffin@gmail.com .