Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Open Thread

cool-Art-Design-College-discover-peacockNaturally, in Seattle, the first "summer" holiday and it's raining. 

At the Columbus College of Art and Design, two anonymous students create art for all to enjoy. Something to show the artist in your home.

New names to look for in, say 2019, in SPS classrooms:
And once again, Game of Thrones rules. There were 1135 Aryas, 241 Khaleesis and 67 Daeneryses born in 2013.  

As well, for girls there is Vanellope, Pistol, Prim, Rarity (from My Little Pony?), Charlemagne and Rebelle.  (Editor's note; because "Rebel" is just too tough for a girl's name? I assume she'll be a feminist rebel.)

Brand new boy's names included Rydder, Jceion, Hatch, Tuf, Lloyal, Xzaiden, Charger, Kyndle, Power, Warrior, Kaptain, Subaru, and Vice.  (That second one - Jceion - I believe is a new way to spell Jason.)

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is awarding nearly $7 million this week to 80 school districts to help them install emergency response systems. These new systems will decrease the time it takes for police and other first responders to arrive and react to incidents at schools. 

SPS is receiving $845,310 to cover 95 schools. 

The Board approved the school calendar for 2014-2015.

What's on your mind?


Benjamin Leis said...

As I now know there is a "Rebelle" line of nerf dart guns for girls. So all things being equal that girl was named after the toy.

Lynn said...

From the Friday Memo:

With the signing of SB6552, the state has removed the Culminating Project as a graduation
requirement starting with the class of 2015. After thoughtful consideration, Seattle Public
Schools has decided that this requirement will not be added as a District graduation requirement.
High schools may continue to require a senior/culminating project as a building-level graduation
requirement if they choose.

I can't believe individual principals are allowed to add to the graduation requirements. There's some inequity for you.

Po3 said...

I disagree Lynn, programs like NOVA need a culminating senior project. This gives them that flexibility.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Lynn.

Anonymous said...

I'm at Puget Sound App Day, which is a learn to code event for students. It's a high-energy, well staffed event for about 1000 kids in Ranier Beach High School gym. My only complaint (aside from the loud music, which is hard on my 50 something year old ears and possibly on my autistic son's ears) is that the students had to sign in using a Gmail, yahoo, facebook or Microsoft account to use the software.
--Student Privacy!

Lynn said...


I'm sorry - I wasn't clear. I was referring to attendance area schools.

Comprehensive high schools to which students are automatically assigned should follow the district graduation requirements. There should also be district-wide PE waiver policies for middle schools and for high schools.

When students aren't able to choose the school that's right for them, principals should not be allowed to customize schools to fit their vision. If Nathan Hale is going to offer full-inclusion classrooms it should be an option school. A student who can take biology as a freshman at Ballard should be offered that class as a freshman at Roosevelt.

The quality of education provided by the district shouldn't depend on the student's address.

mirmac1 said...

I get it, Student Privacy!

Fact is, I'm watching you right now.


For serious. What is up with this crap? Is this a new barrier? Give us permission to identify you or you're excluded? It's gone beyond reading our ten pages of fine print Privacy Policy information which figured we'd just hit continue and never mind. Now it's play along or go home.

Anonymous said...

more Student Privacy:

Heads up, kiddos.


…Facebook is rolling out a new feature for its smartphone app that can turn on users’ microphones and listen to what’s happening around them to identify songs playing or television being watched. (more)


Anonymous said...

Seems weird to have the last day of school be on a Monday....seems like they could have planned that one better.

NE Mom of 3

Melissa Westbrook said...

Student Privacy! Ditto on that. What a shame.

Ragweed said...


Melissa, you have tried several times to bring up the issue of race and racism on this forum. I am wondering if you caught Jerry Large's column on Wednesday?


The title is "We tend to discriminate by favoring familiar" and discusses the work of Anthony Green on unconscious bias.

What struck me as very valuable about the article is the points it made about positive bias, which is where people don't do anything negative towards a group, but they do more to help people in their own group. From the column:

"He noted studies of helping behavior, in which whites and blacks were set up to be in need of help. White test subjects, who didn’t know they were being studied, more often helped when the person in distress was white.

Studies of homebuying, apartment-hunting and job searches consistently find discrimination, especially against black and Hispanic people. Greenwald thinks much of that happens not because the people doing the hiring, selling or leasing are hostile toward blacks or Hispanics, but because they are more favorable to white people."

I think this is an important and nuanced aspect of race that often gets ignored or misunderstood. It is a lot of what underlies the concept of white privilege (but without the white guilt of much of the white privilege conversation). Racism, class discrimination, etc. often don't propagate because of anyone's ill intention, but because of a millions well-intentioned choices, each of which is reasonable in their own context, but result in maintaining a system the gives one group a raw deal.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I love your comment: "The quality of education provided by the district shouldn't depend on the student's address."
I think it's ridiculous that in sooo many ways our neighborhood schools are different -from some offering ALO and others not (unfair, even though it means nothing, it does mean a child has to keep re-testing each year to stay qualified for APP), to what classes are available, to up until now whether you can get into a language immersion school, to whether you have an open-style elem classroom. If you don't get a choice at these, it's not right.

Unknown said...


I think the issues raised in that column are very true.

I have had the pleasure this year as serving as the president of the Special Ed PTSA, and I would have to say that the same notions apply to bias against students with disabilities.

Time and time again, I have met with staff from this district who consider themselves to be very nice people. And I'm not saying they're not--but the district and its staff engage in what I would term not only discrimination against students with disabilities along with what I would call "ability privilege," or complete blindness to their own notions of norms and access.

When I sit down with someone and they start out with "Hey, I'm a nice person," I always kind of have to check myself. What does that mean and what does that have to do with the fact that they are perpetrating the same discrimination that is endemic in the system that disallows students with disabilities from participating? There's a whole lot of emotions tied up with these issues, but I guess I would feel like we could get a lot more done if staffers could hear what is being said without assuming that I or other think they are "not nice." Ignorant, perhaps, of their own biases, but not a "bad person."

I'm not of color, and I don't know what it's like to be the parent of someone's who's of color. All I know is that in this district, I kind of feel like I have a small inkling of what it's like to have to deal with chronic issues that can't or won't get fixed, when people talk about gaps yet refuse to acknowledge the kids and their issues who are in those gaps. Kids with disabilities are clearly not favored this system, even though they need more help. It would be a rare day, though, when someone would admit it. I feel like it's this kind of subtle discrimination that's a huge factor in this district's issues of race, economics and abilities. We're all nice enough, we just won't admit who is being favored.

Carol Simmons said...

The premier screening of the documentary "Robert Eaglestaff and Indian Heritage" shown last night at Wilson Pacific School was excellent. This event had been highly publicized and it was extremely disappointing that there were no central office staff or Board Directors present. It was a community wide fee event with dinner provided and a panel discussion which followed the documentary. Robert Eaglestaff's guidance led the Indian Heritage School to be a model for all urban inter-tribal alternative schools with "a program that balanced academic success with cultural, traditional, and socio-historical uiqueness of all tribal learners." I sincerely hope that the film will be made available for viewing to all in our community and beyond.

Garfield Mom said...

Garfield Theatre Department is currently performing Legally Blonde, The Musical. It's a lot of fun (the energy level of the students is amazing!) and very well done. They have a show tonight, and then four more shows next week (May 28-31). If you are thinking of coming to next Friday or Saturday's shows, you really need to get your tickets now, because there is a high chance that those performances will sell out. More info at the website www.garfieldstage.org or on Facebook www.facebook.com/GarfieldSTaGe

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ragweed, I have tried to talk about these issues but not much traction here.

I do think what he is addressing and what Mary is addressing is the issue of "I'm not a bad person." (I also personally dislike "don't assume bad intent" because I don't but I also tend to go into a situation with my eyes open).

I have tried to talk to some more well-known people than me to ask about having a community dialog but I can't get traction there either.

Anonymous said...

Full inclusion schools, such as Hale, should be the standard not the option in a district dedicated to equality.


For Progress

Lynn said...

Meeting each student's needs is more equitable than giving each student the same thing. One English class for every junior - those who haven't passed the HSPE and those who would prefer an AP class makes no sense for anyone,

Patrick said...

NE Mom of 3, I was thinking that, but they have gotten rid of the extra week long vacation in February. And the Tuesday and Wednesday after the last day of school will be possible snow makeup days. They might have found one day by reducing the 4-day weekend at Presidents' Day to a 3-day weekend, but I don't think there's any way to find two more days besides that. On the whole, this calendar is pretty good.

Anonymous said...

The last day of school is a Monday?


Anonymous said...


What LA class would recommend for my student who reads at a college level & writes at a 3rd grade level?


Anonymous said...

I would be all for starting school one day earlier (Tuesday after Labor Day rather than Wednesday) than hanging around one extra weekend to go on Monday. Who's going to show up for that Monday?


Would Have Left The Event said...

I'm at Puget Sound App Day, which is a learn to code event for students. ...
is that the students had to sign in using a Gmail, yahoo, facebook or Microsoft account to use the software.

Are you joking? Was that clear from the onset in the registration policy? According to <a href="http://www.geekwire.com/2013/firstever-high-school-hackathon/>this article</a>, kids as young as 11 attend this event. <i>Federal law</i> prevents kids under 13 from creating gmail/yahoo email accounts without parental rigamarole.

Agree with Mirmac: <i>Give us permission to identify you or you're excluded?</i>

Yes, it's BS, and it's more than just identifying them, it's monitoring everything they say and do online. It's bad enough that adults allow themselves to be used like this, it's unacceptable for kids/teens.

Lynn said...


Is your child a high school student with dysgraphia or a gifted first grader with developmentally appropriate writing ability? If the first - your child should choose the LA class (s)he prefers and receive special education support and/or accommodations as necessary. If the second, hopefully your child is in APP.

What do you think is the appropriate class for your child?

Anonymous said...


That is an interesting question.

I think my 2e middle schooler would also like to be in a class of similar ability students. In a system of ability tracking placement I wonder what that would look like? Perhaps only one student in that class.

Failing that, I think my child would like to be in a class of mixed abilities and differentiated individual goals, where every student has different strengths & weaknesses.


Lynn said...

If placement were based on cognitive ability, your child would be placed in an appropriately advanced class and supports would be provided in that classroom.

Our experiences with mixed ability classes has not included differentiated individual goals - or much learning.

To get back my point on the variations between course offerings at our attendance-area high schools, students at Hale should have access to actual AP-level courses. An attendance area school should not be a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why the last day of school this year has been changed from June 18 to June 19th? I hadn't known that until I looked at the note at the bottom of the newly confirmed 2014-2015 calendar.

We had one late arrival due to snow this year, but I don't remember a snow day. Did we have one? If not, why this change? Have others been aware of it? Maybe I just missed it.

-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

SPS parent. It is because a year is 365.25 days.Our calendar gather the four quarter days and put them on Feb 29 every 4 years (fun trivia, the lunar calendar's month is only 30 days, so every 6 years they have a 13th month). So the day of the week moves with regard to the numerical date. Because Labor Day is always set on Monday, teachers start on Tuesday to get ready for students, and kids start on Wednesday every year - the numerical date of when school begins (and ends) changes.


Lynn said...


I believe SPS parent is wondering why the draft calendar for the current year said the last day would be the 18th but the current version shows the last day on June 19, 2014.

Anonymous said...

Lynn & SPS Parent,

Just went to look at the 2013-2014 school calendar SPS sent out to all parents last year. It shows "Last day of school One hour early dismissal" on June 19th. Did some people get a different calendar?


Lynn said...

Here's the tentative calendar that was originally released. The final date was changed when the state denied the district's request for three professional development waiver days.

Anonymous said...

Ah, that must be it. I must have entered the dates into my calendar from the tentative, not the final calendar.

Thanks for clarifying!

-Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to have a thread on Pearson's PowerSchool.

I understand that almost week there is a new problem (or the same problem) and that no district using PS has had a smooth rollout. I have heard that many of the problems that Charlotte,North Carolina has experienced (as mentioned earlier on this blog) occur daily here in Seattle SD.

How long will it take for this new system to work properly?

Is Pearson truly providing adequate support for Seattle and other North American districts? If there are indeed serious daily or weekly problems, what is Seattle SD doing to hold Pearson's feet to the fire so as to protect students and families? Or is the responsibility for PS seen as more of a "work harder, work faster" -make -the- best -of -a- not -so- great -situation for secretaries, counselors, registrars, etc?
I wonder whether the districts in WA State are collaborating on how to get rid of the bugs in PS?