Showing posts from April, 2014

Looking for New Leadership for the Seattle Education Assn.

Monday began the voting period for teachers in SPS to elect the leadership of their union the Seattle Education Association (SEA). The RESPECT slate is hoping to win office and I’m hoping they do too.  The voting continues for the next ten days. The RESPECT platform proposes a new way of collaborating with parents and community members in the interest of unifying the power of those fighting for genuine reform of our public schools. Many of us believe Seattle needs its own research-based vision for the schools our children deserve. Those developed in Chicago , Portland and St. Paul through a collaborative process between teachers, parents and the community became a foundation from which strong alliances blossomed. With the RESPECT slate leading the SEA I’m confident that we will move forward on creating such a vision that meets the needs of Seattle Schools' students. I also believe the RESPECT slate will help us come closer to achieving the kind of partnership between tea

Tuesday Open Thread

SIIF is having a Giant Monsters All-Out Attack week - Godzilla, Mothra, King Kong, and others. What's on your mind?

Impact Philanthropy (Or, Ed Reform for the Young and the Restless)

You'd think our current Democratic administration would have more to do than host a convention for "100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire families" at the White House but apparently not.  From the NY Times : Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth. Policy experts and donors recognize that there’s no better time than now to empower young philanthropists. Professionals in the field, citing an Accenture report from 2012 , estimate that more than $30 trillion in wealth will pass from baby boomers to younger generations by around 2050. At the same time, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy (no relation to this rep

Kindergarteners - Get with the System

I come to this issue because of two recent stories about kindergarteners. One was from Oregon where - guess what?  Bad news about testing kindergarteners for "school readiness."  Two state official up the food chain in public education in Oregon called the kindergartener readiness results " sobering ." It is important to have a baseline for each child.  But this pressure of testing and standards - which are not developmentally appropriate for these children - is wrong.  It is unlikely to move the needle and, in fact, is more likely to hurt them.  Every single book or article I have ever read about early childhood  development talks about the learning through play model (which is rapidly disappearing). So then we come to the story from Elwood, New York about the cancellation of a kindergarten play in the name of  "college and career" readiness goals. From  The Answer Sheet, Kindergarten (and even preschool) has increasingly become academ

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, April 29th Work Session: Board Self-Evaluation/Superintendent Evaluation, 4:30-6:00 pm; Executive Session, 6:00-6:30 pm. Wednesday, April 30 Work Session: Special Education, 4:00-5:30 pm.   Agenda Work Session: Capital Projects , 5:30-7:00 pm.  Agenda not yet available. Friday, May 2nd Kimball Elementary Art Walk from 3 pm to 6 pm. Saturday, May 3rd Community meeting with Director Blanford , Douglass-Truth Library from 10 am to noon. To note: The District is still soliciting input from Sped parents via a survey .  Last date for input is May 11th.

Special Education Speaker Monday, April 28th

Seattle SpEd PTSA April Meeting 7 pm Monday, 4/28/2014 Rm 2700, JSCEE  2445 3rd Ave Seattle's SODO neighborhood Dr. Nicole Swedberg will present practical tips and information on:

Friday Open Thread

Good article from Edutopia about helping students evaluate online research.  I think it's written for teachers but I think it might be useful info for parents as well. We will have to wait and see what happens with the denial of Washington State's NCLB waiver by Sec'y Duncan.  Frankly, I think it is likely to be a ripple rather than a wave of problems. What's on your mind?

TFA: Troubled Waters in Seattle

I had been waiting for this story to come out.  It's just what I thought because it is the reality of TFA in the Puget Sound region.  No real success at all.  Districts?  Just not interested or finding plenty of fully-qualified teachers right here in Washington State.  From Non-Profit Quarterly : Maldonado was also feeling the conflict, but also noted that TFA’s national office had stumbled in dealing with the challenges in Seattle. Maldonado said that “TFA just hadn’t done the research” and “national staff came off as ‘arrogant…they were assigning the blame to everyone but themselves.’” TFA’s original 38 approved applicants had been reduced to just 13, serving ten schools, only three of which addressed the high-needs population, a critical part of TFA’s mission. An official with TFA cited that the issues in Seattle were a “complete aberration” by the organization. I found this statement funny: TFA in Seattle has made adjustments following the backlash. Lindsay Hi

WA State First State to Lose NCLB Waiver

From Sec'y Duncan : As you know, Washington’s request for ESEA flexibility was approved based on Washington’s commitments to carry out certain actions in support of key education reforms. In return for those commitments, we granted your State and your local school districts significant flexibility. However, Washington has not been able to keep all of its commitments. Thus, although Washington has benefitted from ESEA flexibility, I regret that Washington’s flexibility will end with the 2013–2014 school year. I love the last line here: However, because those efforts were unsuccessful, and your legislature is not scheduled to reconvene until January 2015, I cannot extend Washington’s authority to implement ESEA flexibility, and Washington and its LEAs must resume implementing the requirements of Title I of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), as well as all other ESEA requirements that were waived under ESEA flexibility, for the 2

Advanced Learning: Crumbling Faster and Faster

Remember that Leonardo DiCaprio movie, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?  The SPS version is, "What's Going on with Advanced Learning?"   What appears -to me - to be happening is that Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath are quietly making a lot of decisions behind closed doors and quietly spreading them out through the schools.  Spectrum principals, either on their own or thru Tolley and Heath, seem to be dismantling every single Spectrum program, whether popular and/or working well. It is now late April and at the time of year that staff loves because the end of the school year is nigh, you parents get distracted and the staff has the entire summer to continue to roll out whatever they are doing. That much of this is happening all the while the district has not one, but two AL taskforces, both dedicated only to APP makes it quite clear what is happening.  (The Taskforce that Charlie and I served on?  All APP, all the time.)  This district does not care for nor does it w

Race to Nowhere Showing at Orca K-8

FYI, Dear Community Members, We are excited to announce a showing of the groundbreaking film, "Race to Nowhere” . The documentary is a call to action for families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens. Join us Friday, April 25th for a screening of the film followed by a discussion that will bring forth community issues and help us create methods for change. This film is rate PG-13 and is not suitable for young children. Childcare available - see details below. Friday, April 25th, 2014 - 6:45pm (Doors open at 6:30pm) (Film 6:45-8:15pm followed by ~30 min guided discussion). Venue: Orca K-8 School, Lunchroom Address: 5212 46th Ave S, Seattle, Washington Tickets: Free Tickets Here

Duncan Gives No Hint about WA Waiver in Interview

In more in the long line of stuff Arne says comes this interview with Education Week .  But, NCLB waivers ARE brought up and, in specific, Washington State.  But Duncan is both direct and coy. And he pledged to get one long-awaited initiative done that could also have a far-reaching impact: an overhaul of regulations that govern teacher-preparation programs . "They will get done," he said. "[They are] very important." So that was the direct message and the one that the Washington legislature chose to ignore. It's the teacher-evaluation piece of those waivers—tying evaluations to student test scores—that is tripping up a lot of states, and may cost at least one (Washington state) its waiver. "We've tried to provide some real flexibility," Mr. Duncan said. "I'm interested in finishing at the right point. The path to get there is going to be very different. Some states are two or three years ahead of others, and are in great

Testing Issues Nationwide

From Diane Ravitch's blog via the group, FairTest : Today’s technical problems, which disrupted computerized testing in many Florida districts, are far from unusual. Many other states have experienced similar failures, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), which monitors standardized exams across the country. Earlier this month, the statewide testing systems in Kansas and Oklahoma both crashed. Last year, technical problems disrupted computerized exams in Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Oklahoma. In the recent past, new, automated testing programs collapsed in Oregon and Wyoming, requiring administration of replacement, pencil-and-paper versions. After root cause investigations, both Wyoming and Oklahoma levied multi-million dollar fines against Pearson, the same testing vendor Florida uses. Wyoming labeled the company in “complete default of the contract” and replaced it. Oklahoma let its contract with Pearson

Seattle Schools Special Education Meeting

I did not attend but this is an open thread for any discussion for anyone who did attend. 

This and That

To note for tonight's Board meeting agenda ; the Jane Addams Middle School BEX IV construction item has been moved to the May 7th Board meeting by the Superintendent.  No explanation given.  The Superintendent has also asked to remove the Reduction in Force (RIF) item from the agenda.   I confirmed that this is because there will be no RIFs sent out.  As well, the bill to fix facade restoration at Franklin is - gulp - nearly $1M (coming from BEX III and good thing the money is there).  (When part of the facade fell, it was great luck no one was standing underneath it.)  Along with the backflow item at Jane Addams that had to be replaced recently (and I'm not sure how much that cost), we see that our buildings have a near-constant need for maintenance and emergencies fixes.  This is why the maintenance budget needs to be upped or we will likely pay more in the long term.  There are only five people signed up to speak so if you wanted to speak up about, well, anything - Wil

Tuesday Open Thread

Is your 5th grade and up student looking for a great sport that offers individual achievement as well as the benefits of participating on a team?   Seattle Canoe & Kayak Club is having an Open House on Sunday, April 27th and Saturday, May 17th from 10 am -1 pm.  Come join us at the Small Craft Center on Green Lake at 9:45AM.  Get to see the competitive Junior Team finish their training session, meet the coaches of this exciting sport and then climb into the boats with our team members to get a feel for what it is like to be in an Olympic style Sprint Kayak or Canoe.  You need to bring a parent/guardian to sign the waiver and bring a change of clothes in case you get wet!  Questions?  Contact Tami Oki at 524-1116  or  or the Green Lake Small Craft Center at 684-4074.   Check out the website at .   Beginner classes begin in April, the full schedule can be seen at Youth Kayak - Seattle Parks &am

Big Ed News Roundup

Stories that have come across my computer over the last few weeks on a variety of issues. Arne Duncan - the things that Arne says. So first it was those "white suburban moms" thinking their children and their schools were really something.  He said opposition to Common Core came from "fringe" groups.  The Daily News says those against CC are "drunk with right-wing hysteria."  So moms are being hysterical and dramatic?  Almost sounds like a little sexism thrown in there to marginalize any female voice. Common Core   Pearson and Common Core The huge ed gorilla publisher in the room, Pearson, has a nonprofit wing, Pearson Charitable Foundation, which just agreed to pay over $7M to New York state after NY's attorney general determined they had created CC materials to generate money for the Pearson company.  And who figured into that determination?  The Gates Foundation.   (Pearson says it did nothing wrong but admits it could have been clearer and m

Death and Adultery; More Common Core Homework

Honestly, these things come across my radar on a near-daily basis as schools and districts go the Common Core way.  This from Breitbart(emphasis mine): Breitbart Texas also covered this type of assignment in the article Orwellian Newspeak Coming to Common Core Classrooms Everywhere . It's a reading and response writing genre popping up in classrooms labeled contemporary realistic fiction .  It is a Common Core style of reading and writing prompt. In Common Core circles it is also known as life problems fiction. This identical, inappropriate assignment made the rounds many months ago on Stop Common Core affiliated websites and Facebook pages.  It should raise eyebrows that a Common Core assignment that may not be at all aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS) content standards was used in a Texas classroom. And I note that a story from NY from the AP about parents upset over brand names - Barbie, iPod, Mug Root Beer, Nike and Life Savers - showing

InBloom CEO Shuts Down inBloom

Second update:  a reply to inBloom's withdrawal from NY city parents who have been very in the thick of this fight. Yet the statement issued by inBloom’s CEO reeks of arrogance and condescension, and makes it clear that those in charge still have not learned any lessons from this debacle.   The fervent opposition to inBloom among parents throughout the country did not result from “misunderstandings”,   but inBloom‘s utter inability to provide a convincing rationale that would supercede the huge risks to student security and privacy involved. Contrary to the claims of Iwan Streichenberger and others,   InBloom was   not designed to protect student privacy but the opposite: to facilitate the sharing of children’s personal and very sensitive information with data-mining vendors,   with no attention paid to the need for parental notification or consent, and this is something that parents will not stand for.   In New York, the last state to pull out of inBloom and the only on

Seattle Schools News Roundup

From SPS: Seattle Public Schools seeks members for School Family Partnerships Task force Seattle Public Schools is starting the process of revising the current School Family Partnerships District Plan. An important part of the review is to engage with our families, staff and community members and gather as much feedback as possible to help revise our school family partnerships efforts over the next three to five years. A key element to gathering feedback is the formation of a School Family Partnerships Stakeholder Task force . The task force, made up of approximately 40-50 people, will be a diverse group that includes families/guardians, teachers, principals, District staff, community members, city officials and university representatives. Task force members will offer feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the District’s School Family Partnerships Plan, give feedback on the vision, mission, and core beliefs of the District on School Family Partnerships, and make

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, April 22nd "Open Mic Night" on Special Education , from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Rainier Beach High School, 8815 Seward Park S.  Families of Seattle Public Schools are invited to join experts from Louisiana State University and the TIERS Group (Teams Intervening Early to Reach all Students) during two Open Microphone Nights to give feedback on Special Education services. Seattle Public School’s Special Education Department is undergoing a Comprehensive Corrective Action Plan (C-CAP) to help improve results for our students in special education. As part of this plan, the department is working with experts from Louisiana State University and the TIERS Group for consultation on activities related to C-CAP targets.  They will be visiting the District the week of April 21 to collect data for initial analysis on the Special Education department. Part of their data collection will incorporate family input. Families are invited to give feedback orally or in wri

OSPI Thinks Duncan Will Bring Down the NCLB Hammer

According to an article in the Seattle Times, Superintendent Randy Dorn thinks the DOE will lose its waiver from NCLB.  Washington State would be the first state to lose a waiver.  (Other states may also lose their waivers as well by the end of their school years.) (As usual, the Times makes the link between the teachers union and the Legislature.  Is that really the entire story of why the Legislature said no?  Probably not but it fits the Times' on-going ed reform narrative.) I spoke with a DOE spokesperson yesterday about when this decision would come and she said that they are still "working" with the State and no decision has been made.  The DOE has said they know they need to let states know soon because of budgeting but they certainly seem to be taking their time. Is the district "losing" money?  In one way, yes, as they will have to set aside funds to meet NCLB obligations.  Under NCLB,  at schools named as "failing", parents are allowed

More Thoughts about Race

Two thoughtful articles have come across my computer about race and education. The first is from the blog , The Becoming Radical written by P.L. Thomas, a professor at Furman University.  Professor Thomas' blog subtitle is "A Place for a Pedagogy of Kindness and the article that caught my eye is entitled "Are We (Finally) Ready to Face Teacher Education’s Race Problem?"   I find this issue has coming up frequently because of the continuing push from TFA.  Despite all of TFA's claims, they have a largely white teaching corps and, in places like, New Orleans, have pushed out many teachers of color.  The teacher quality and teacher education debates have been absent a fundamental acknowledgement of race in the same way that school quality and education reform have mostly ignored race. While the mainstream press and education reform agenda remain distracted by the whitewashed “achievement gap”—a metric not only identified by but created by standardized

Friday Open Thread

Princeton University has come to the conclusion that we don't really live in a democracy but that we are basically an oligarchy.  No real surprise there - the rich are getting richer, the poor getting poorer and the people in-between worry about that their children won't even live at the same standard as they do.  Just to be clear: An oligarchy is a system where power is effectively wielded by a small number of individuals defined by their status called oligarchs. Members of the oligarchy are the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military. Their main conclusion? As Gilens and Page write, "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." In other words, their statistics say  your opinion literally does not matter. We see this in public education

Common Core in Portland - Why So Silent Seattle?

I had been seeing a lot of Twitter buzz around Portland School District and the outspokeness of one Board member but now it's ramping up. (The Seattle Times put it in their ed news roundup but blandly said, "Portland school board members express concern over Common Core.") What is fascinating to me is the silence from the district and our own School Board on this issue.  I suspect once CC really hits schools and impacts curriculum, test prep and resources, Seattle Schools parents may wake up.   Most of the concern of Board members is one of the issues I have raised - where was the preparation for Common Core for schools and teachers?   From The Oregonian : Despite clashing opinions on a group of controversial state standards , six Portland School Board members appeared united on at least one issue:  They all had concerns about the rollout of new state exams aligned with the Common Core state standards. “Is the state providing sufficient time and resources for

What Can Girls Wear?

It's prom season and it's soon to get warmer and that means....dress code issues.  One huge issue: are leggings really pants (my young adult sons say no)?  From the Huffington Post: Younger girls often wear them as pants with little fuss. But as those same girls approach middle school, leggings have become a clothing accessory that's increasingly controversial — and seemingly, the favorite new target of the school dress code. Haven Middle School in Evanston, just north of Chicago, took what turned out to be a contentious stand: If you wear leggings, you need to have a shirt or skirt over them that reaches at least down to your fingertips.  In other words, girls need to cover their behinds. I can't necessarily disagree with this.  Sometimes leggings are made of different materials and, if they are not thick enough, can show underwear.   As I used to tell the boys at Roosevelt who had baggy pants, I'm not interested in seeing your underwear. But is a di

Seattle Schools Score Well in State's Highest Honor

From OSPI: A total of 413 schools are 2013 Washington Achievement Award winners. Winners were notified Monday via email from State Superintendent Randy Dorn and State Board of Education Chair Dr. Kristina Mayer.  The Washington Achievement Award is sponsored by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. Award winners are selected using the state’s Accountability Index and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Waiver.  “It is important that we use the revised Achievement Index to not only provide feedback to schools and districts on their progress, but also to identify schools with exemplary student performance,” said Mayer. “These awards shine the light on what is working well in schools across Washington.” Schools are recognized as top performers in one of six categories: Overall Excellence High Progress Reading Growth Math Growth Extended Graduation Rate (awarded to high and comprehensive scho

Charter Schools and "Teacher Appreciation Week"

From Daily Kos, comes a fairly unbelievable story (and yet, they are not The Onion) about a charter school group, run by a for-profit education management org, called Mosaica.  To note before I get to the main story, Mosaica, run in the Muskegon, Michigan area, was recently in the news as they were not able to meet their own payroll.  The state is fronting $231,000 to the charter school district in Muskegon Heights so it can pay its employees. Teachers and staff didn’t get paid like they were supposed to on Monday. The new Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System was set up in June 2012 when the old school district there went broke. A state-appointed emergency manager created the PSA, which hired Mosaica, a charter school company, to run the school system. Now the new school system is running a deficit of its own. Right, because private industry does run so much better for all areas. The unbelievable story is about "Faculty Fun Day" at Mosaica's

Washington Education News Roundup

To repeat, Senator Rodney Tom, noted turncoat for the Dems, is not going to run again after all (citing health concerns for himself and his elderly father).  The Times ran a blathering editorial about how great he was but you really can't take them seriously when they start with, "But this time you might wonder, what will become of the Legislature without him?" Seriously?  Not, "how will the Legislature operate like without him?" but "what will become of it?"  Well, like most of life, the Legislature will carry on just fine without him.  He isolated himself with his choices and I think he realized it was going to backfire on him in the election.  The Washington State Charter School Commission released its 2014 request for proposals yesterday.  According to their press release , last year they received 19 completed proposals.  I'll be interested to see how many letters of intent (which was about 25ish last year) that they receive.  To unders

Tuesday Open Thread

Now, for the second year in a row, the most objected to book in libraries is...Captain Underpants.   Do these boys "defy" authority and do silly things?  Yes.  Do I think it needs a warning label, "Kids, don't try this at school?"  Not really.  (I even have a tiny Captain Underpants toy in my car who serves as my parking diviner.  Works 95% of the time.) You've probably all heard but Senator Rodney Tom is NOT running for re-election, citing health concerns for himself and his elderly father.  Whatever the reason, he has been more of an obstructionist than a leadership (not to mention betraying his party).  As I mentioned elsewhere, Superintendent Dorn told me I would never get a student data privacy bill passed with the current Senate leadership. Well, that now becomes less of an issue. Here's an interesting feature by National Geographic on what the U.S. population will look like in 2050.  The U.S. Census Bureau let respondents check more than

Common Core Roundup (with trends and memes)

 Update: Finally! An thoughtful piece about why Common Core is failing (and likely will be weakened).  It's by Jay P. Greene at Education Next and he has it right.  Supporters of Common Core have made some of the same political mistakes that opponents of gay marriage did.  They figured if they could get the US Department of Education, DC-based organizations, and state school chiefs on board, they would have a direct and definitive victory.  And at first blush it looked like they had achieved it, with about 45 states committing to adopt the new set of standards and federally-sponsored standardized tests aligned to those standards.  Like opponents of gay marriage, the Common Core victory seemed so overwhelming that they hardly felt the need to engage in debates to defend it . But in the rush to a clear and total victory, supporters of Common Core failed to consider how the more than 10,000 school districts, more than 3 million teachers, and the parents of almost 50 m

Seattle Schools This Week

Basically, it's Spring Break week so no meetings. Saturday, April 19th Director Blanford finally has a community meeting.  It's from 10-11am at the Douglass-Truth library. I attended both Director Carr and Director Martin-Morris' community meetings yesterday.

Seattle Times editorial on Initiative 1351

The Seattle Times wrote an editorial to discourage people from signing petitions to put Initiative 1351, Class Size Reduction, on the ballot. The editorial was, of course, full of lies, misrepresentations, and unprincipled statements. I don't know where other people stand on initiatives. Lots of states don't have an initiative process. They are certainly open to abuse. We have seen Costco use the initiative process to buy themselves the law that allows them to sell liquor. We have seen a dozen millionaires and billionaires use the initiative process to buy a charter school law. Tim Eyman writes frivilous initiatives to provide himself an income as the manager of the campaign. There was a time when Tim Eyman was the de facto political leader of this state - it was a time when there was no leadership coming from Olympia. A number of Mr. Eyman's initiatives, though successful at the ballot box, were reversed by the Court because they failed to meet constitutional requirem

Goodbye, Charlie

This is likely to be one of the most difficult posts I ever write because how do you say goodbye to someone who has been a constant in your life over the last six+ years? Charlie Mas is something of an enigma.  Even to me.  He's brash, outspoken and yet, a big softie. At times some people thought that Charlie and I were one person. Or that we were joined at the hip in our thoughts. Or that we confabbed on every post. Wrong, wrong and wrong. It makes me smile because Charlie and I also never consulted on who wrote what.  We had our own reasons and our own interests.  I think the most important concern for Charlie is (and always was) accountability, no more, no less. I have sometimes groaned at his words, cheered at his words but always admired his ability to cut thru the bullshit to the core of the matter.  That it may have upset others was no matter to him (or me) because the cleansing light of day is what this district has needed (whether they believe it or not).

Friday Open Thread

Did your senior write a great college essay ?  Here's a link to an award for $5,000 through  The deadline is May 19.  (Great judges like Anna Quindlen, Wally Lamb, and Mary Roach.)  This is not "new" news but the Gates Foundation invests in a private prison company as well as a company with 19 juvenile detention facilities in the U.S.  This from Mother Jones.  A Gates spokesperson attempted to, according to The Slog , "philanthro-splained" "The trust invests in a lot of things to make sure we have the most money we can have to do that job."  Oh. Nothing like creating - via your work and your investments - your own school to prison pipeline. A horrible week for students in two high schools.  First, the stabbings at a high school in Murraysville, Pennsylvania where 20 were stabbed with one in critical condition on a breathing machine.  Second, the news this morning that bus with seniors from LA/Fresno going to visit Humboldt State whe

Special Ed Open Mic nights

Families are invited to give feedback on Special Education services at Seattle Public Schools during two “Open Mic Night” meetings Families of Seattle Public Schools are invited to join experts from Louisiana State University and the TIERS Group (Teams Intervening Early to Reach all Students) during two Open Microphone Nights to give feedback on Special Education Services. Join us: Tuesday, April 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Rainier Beach High School , 8815 Seward Park S., Seattle Washington 98118 Wednesday, April 23 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Nathan Hale High School , 10750 30 th Ave NE, Seattle Seattle Public School’s Special Education Department is undergoing a Comprehensive Corrective Action Plan (C-CAP) to help improve results for our students in special education. As part of this plan, the department is working with experts from Louisiana State University and the TIERS Group for consultation on activities related to C-CAP targets. They will be vi

Required Reading on Common Core

One of the most calm, well-thought out op-eds on Common Core that I have read from Elizabeth Phillips, principal in NYC's PS 321.  Read the entire thing but here are highlights: So teachers watched hundreds of thousands of children in grades 3 to 8 sit for between 70 and 180 minutes per day for three days taking a state English Language Arts exam that does a poor job of testing reading comprehension, and yet we’re not allowed to point out what the problems were. We want to be clear: We were not protesting testing; we were not protesting the Common Core standards. We were protesting the fact that we had just witnessed children being asked to answer questions that had little bearing on their reading ability and yet had huge stakes for students, teachers, principals and schools.  We were protesting the fact that it is our word against the state’s, since we cannot reveal the content of the passages or the questions that were asked. In general terms, the tests were

Center on Reinventing Public Education; All Charters, All the Time

It used to be that you could give CPRE a little credit for caring about other education issues than just charters schools.  It would appear that time has passed.  I'm on their listserv and if you go just by that, it's all charters, all the time.  What is worrying is that if they feel this way about charter schools in other states, I can't wait to see what they think should happen in Washington State. For example, you may have heard that newly-elected NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio came into office with a willingness to stop giving favors to charters in NYC and quit forced co-locations.  This has turned in to quite the epic battle with one charter operator (and quite a big mover and shaker in NYC), closing her schools and requiring parents and students to march in a rally.  (Try closing a real public school for this kind of thing - not going to happen.) The issue really was that the former mayor was not charging state-mandated rents to charters and the new mayor was going t

Charter Schools - What is Really Happening

The first thing to understand is that Congress is considering a bill to support and expand charter schools.   The other, a charter school bill , is aimed at growing more high-quality charters and encouraging them to better serve students with disabilities and English-language learners. That bill also won swift approval, but not before a number of committee Democrats lambasted charter schools for siphoning off resources from other public schools—before voting for the legislation anyway. The bill passed 36 to 3. Wait, what?  It would combine two main federal programs for charters, meshing together grants to help charter school developers open new schools, with money to help charters find and fix up facilities. And the bill would make it easier for charter organizations with a track record of success to open more schools.  Oh, but what about the bad charters?  The mediocre ones?  Those that are taking public dollars and were suppose to be successful and innovative?  I

Washington State Waiting for Washington, D.C. on Waiver

From Education Week : All eyes have been on Washington state since lawmakers there adjourned last month without making a key change to their teacher-evaluation system that would have enabled the state to hang on to its flexibility from the mandates of the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act. And now, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is on the verge of yanking Washington state's waiver, several sources say. An official decision is likely by the end of month—and if the waiver is pulled, as expected, the move would make the Evergreen State the first to lose its flexibility. Duncan called Randy Dorn, the state schools chief, Tuesday to discuss the waiver situation, but the state didn't get official word during that conversation that the flexibility would be pulled, Nathan Olson, a spokesman for Dorn, told my colleague Andrew Ujifusa. "We'd hoped this phone call would yield a simple yes-or-no answer to the question about whether we'd continue the waiver,&qu

Puget Sound Education Meetings of Interest

Meeting on Wilson-Pacific on May 13th From the district: To address growing enrollment and capacity needs, Seattle voters passed the 2013 Seattle Public Schools Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy. As a result, a new middle school and new elementary school are scheduled to open in time for the 2017-18 school year. A newly renovated play field will be located between the two new buildings on the site at 1330 North 90th Street.   The project is now in the design and permitting phase and thereafter, the existing structure will be demolished. A School Design and Advisory Team (SDAT) composed of community members, professionals, Mahlum Architects and Seattle Public Schools Capital Projects staff have worked to create the design of the two school buildings and the entire 16.8-acre school site. The comprehensive neighborhood middle school will be constructed to house 1,000 students, including students from the Pinehurst K-8/Indian Heritage program (They will soon

Something is Well and Truly Screwed Up in Special Education

I want to fill in some details about the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting on Monday. Three members of the Special Education staff, including the chief of that department, Ms McWilliams, presented the Board with the program placements for Special Ed for 2014-2015. At that time they described the status of the implementation of the new Special Education system. Their presentation and conversation was almost impossible to follow. It was filled with meaningless jargon and self contradictions. For example, they would say that there are no more Special Education programs anymore, and then, in the same breath, talk about Special Education programs. Then, in the next breath, they would say how important it is to use the right words for things. In fact, for all of their talk about creating systemic change in Special Education, the only examples of change that they gave were changes to the names of the programs, because words are so important, and there are no programs any mor