Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, May 5th
Community meeting with Director McLaren from 6-7:30 pm at the High Point Community Center.

Tuesday, May 6th
Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council (SEEAC) Meeting starting at 6:30 pm at JSCEE in room 2700.

Wednesday, May 7th
School Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda

- I see from the Personnel report that there is a new Director of Capital Projects and Planning, Richard Best.  The sheer number of capital projects - just on the meeting agenda - should keep Mr. Best busy.
- on the Intro items, I see one of the first tech contracts keying around wireless services for all schools.  This particular contract is for $1.7M.  Of course, I'm a bit confused because in one place in the BAR it says:

Fiscal impact for this specific contract will be part of the $6.5 million dollars of BEX IV Levy funding for wireless deployment.

But elsewhere, it says:

Levy voters approved $9.6 million dollars to support the deployment of wireless access to 80% of all district-owned buildings.

So is it $6.5M or $9.5M?
Here's why the district needs to do this:

This levy based purchase will also help ensure that SPS students have the necessary reliable device connectivity for daily research and lessons, and provide better access to technology for required testing, as dedicated computer labs are removed to make way for additional classrooms.

Except that it's not just for "better access to technology for required testing" - it's because the testing requires the technology. That would be for Common Core testing. It's a huge cost for every single district in this country and while I do believe students need access to online information, I think that it is Common Core that is driving this and nothing else. I would venture that if Common Core assessments were not to be given online, the district would take its time on this work.


Seattle Public Schools lags behind the rest of the state in providing wireless access in the classroom. Nationally, more than half of all school districts provide wireless in most classrooms. SPS provides managed full-campus wireless coverage to 20% of its buildings at present. 

I see one sentence that I find hard-to-believe in this BAR:

There will be no General Fund impact for 5 years.

After that point, the additional internet bandwidth will potentially increase general fund needs by $10,000 a year for an additional 10 Gigabit (Gb) of internet access. Additional funds will also be required for ongoing software licensing of $60,000, for a grand total of $70,000 annually. These maintenance costs would be grouped with the other regular maintenance costs, and funded the same way. The plan is to include these ongoing costs, along with other annual license maintenance costs, in the BTA IV levy. 

Really?  For technology like this, no other money needed...for five years.  Hmm.  

Phase one will start in May 2014, and will involve up to 40 schools and be completed no later than November 2014. Primary weighting for deployment order will be based on aggregate free and reduced lunch numbers, but will also factor for existing services, and readiness at the curriculum level.

Phase two will start in September 2014, and will involve the remainder of approximately 31 schools and will be completed by January 2015. New schools will be covered as part of construction, and not as a part of this request for proposal process.

Thursday, May 8th
Audit&Finance Committee Meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  No agenda yet available.

Friday, May 9th
BEX Oversight Committee Meeting from 8:30-10:30 am at JSCEE in Room 2750.  

Saturday, May 10th
Community Meeting with Director Carr at Bethany Community Church from 8:30 am to 10 am.


Anonymous said…
(Repost from Friday O.T.) Re: Spectrum and why we aren't choosing the best Math for SPS:

A thought and a question: (Thought) Spectrum's demise is also inextricably linked to poor capacity management. Were I the parent of a Spectrum qualified kid who got wait-listed, I'd be rightly pissed off that SPS is denying my kid their appropriate education by claiming there's no room at the inn. No room? Make room. Whatever it takes. The horror stories I've heard from kids who tested in but never got in should never, ever have happened. Bad policy leads to bad results. Hence, Spectrum withers and dies while APP becomes disproportionately a refuge and security blanket for kids above grade level. Crazy.

And now the question: Why is Math in Focus good enough for Highline School District, but not good enough for Seattle? They love it so much there, that they've adopted it for elementary and are adopting it for middle school as well. And they sing the praises of none other than Susan Enfield for getting it right! They're loving some Enfield in Highline, and who can blame them? She supports the best math curriculum, not the one that aligns with Big Brother's Wish List (aka Common Core).

"Aligning with Common Core" sounds like nothing more than a "we had no choice" excuse in the making when the deficits of this curriculum come knocking in a year or two. Do we want what's best for the kids, or CYA for those in charge when it backfires and disappoints in a year or two? It appears to me it's the latter.

I sincerely hope the Board chooses MIF, after hearing it's praises from my friends in Highline.

Charlie Mas said…
The amendment to Board Procedure 6550BP would change the Board Internal Audit procedure so that they got quarterly reports instead of monthly reports. According to the BAR, this change is to

"ensure that the resolution
of internal audit findings remains a high priority for the Board and for district management.

How does making the reports less frequent highten their priority?

There won't be any discussion of this item because it is on the consent agenda.
Charlie Mas said…
Take a look at the Board Agenda.

It's pretty easy to see that the bulk of the Board's business is property management. Nearly all of the votes this week are property management votes.

Do you see what's missing? Policy.

The Board is supposed to be a policy-making body. Moreover, the Board is supposed to be in the middle of a total Policy re-write project. Yet there is not a single policy revision on the agenda.

Look at the previous Board meeting agenda. The only policy vote in that one was to repeal Board policies and replace them with Superintendent procedures.

The meeting before that had no real policy work, just minor revisions to the Student Assignment policy to reflect changes in the law and to update footers. Seriously: update footers.

This Board has completely given up on doing any policy work. They only do the policy work that the staff brings them. They aren't doing any policy work on their own.

Why don't we have an advanced learning policy? Because the Board has ceased to function as a policy-making body.
Anonymous said…
Look at the waste and absurdity in the schools.

Take a look at South Lake right across the street from RB what or who is that serving.

Is South Shore a public school really? How about the numerous "interagency" schools that have kids sitting at PC's all day doing nothing but common core.

Ask how much those cost? Now that NCLB money is not of an issue dump common core start auditing all the schools see where the waste and replication and fraud lies.

Then start allocating money to programs and schools that work or are trying but don't have the resources. Having charters within SPS are not helping. And yes Highline is doing it right. Whoops!

Anonymous said…
Lowell Spectrum now has open seats at every grade level for eligible children.

-Rollin Withit
Lynn said…
Will Lowell have Spectrum classrooms though? I thought I had read that instead it'll have students with a Spectrum label in gen ed classrooms. That's what Arbor heights has - 36 kids across five grades this year.
Anonymous said…
So I dug into the Highline Math Adoption processes over the past few years, and after all their research & success, they chose to expand Math in Focus to Middle School, while at the same time touting Common Core and it's strengths.

Why can't Seattle do the same and get the BEST MATH curriculum, instead of one that aligns best with Common Core?

If ever there was a time to deploy Michelle Rhee's rant that public education is too much "about the adults, and not the students," this is that time. Everyone concedes that Math In Focus is Best For Students, families and teachers, while the over-riding concern at the district is "alignment to common core." Why? So standardized test scores can make them all look good? And protect their jobs? Hogwash.

A great math curriculum will leave common core in the dust. The better people like something, the more they'll use and enjoy it. Period. Don't be Stupid, SPS. Adopt Math In Focus and end this carousel of bureaucratic ignorance once and for all.

Anonymous said…

I have been increasingly impressed with everything Highline is doing lately. The way they are managing capacity (moving 6th grade to middle school), engaging the community (lots of meetings, making actual policy and enforcing it. Not to mention their highly capable model and of course their groundbreaking Aviation High, which really must have taken leadership to get off the ground (no pun intended). I know Enfield went there recently, but they seem to have a history of being a functioning, well-run district. Their strategic plan is clear, with measurable goals! Amazing! I wonder why we can't do at least a couple of these things right. They aren't a tiny district - 19,000 is decent. And they have tremendous socio economic diversity. Melissa, would you think about doing a thread dedicated to neighboring districts and what works for them? Maybe one on Bellevue, one on Shoreline? There is a lot we could learn from our neighbors.
#notallroses said…


Clearly, you are unaware of the fact that state auditor had issues with funding behind Aviation High School and funding continues to be a problem.

you seem to like Enfield, but can I remind you that her curriculum alignment almost eliminated VERY successful science pathways such as Biotechnology and others. Can I remind you that Enfield supported administration over cassrooms?
#notallroses said…
Sorry for the typos:

You seem to like Enfield, but can I remin you that her curriculum alignment almost eliminated VERY successful science pathways such as Biotechnology and others. Can I remindyou that Enfield supported administration over classrooms? What about the debacle when we had hundreds of high school students sitting in the cafeteria for months to get classes because Enfield didn't provide funding for adequate student enrollment?
Anonymous said…
On the one hand, the math adoption committee - which included trained and apparently neutral, professional facilitators - performed so much better than other SPS committees, most of which have been and continue to be unfocused, hidden from wider community inspection and ultimately unproductive, that it is hard to criticize the end result.

On the other hand - and this does NOT reflect on the committee, but rather on T&L downtown - it is hard to support the weight given to common core alignment in selecting the material. What it says to me is that central administration either doesn't trust its teachers (it doesn't think teachers can take strong materials and align them w/ CC at the classroom level, taking each classroom cohort's needs into account on depth, pacing and presentation)...or it doesn't trust its own Professional Development effort to teach such skills.

Again, at core, it shows a lack of trust.

So while it appears we are taking a step forward with the committee recommendation, this process has not addressed a systemic issue that affects every teacher in every classroom in every subject.

Anonymous said…
EdVoter: I'd take it a step further. I don't think it's a lack of trust in teachers. I think it's a lack of trust in themselves. Hence, they adopt the curriculum that best aligns with common core, thereby giving them the ready-made excuse if it turns out to be a bad decision in a few years. "But we were compelled to select it because it best aligned with common core." I can hear it already and see the fig leaf in my mind's eye.

Whoever made alignment with common core the top priority pre-determined the outcome and tied the committee's hands. They certainly did not have the kids' & families best interests at heart, but their own careers, I think.

Yes, call me cynical and skeptical. Why? Because I've been down this road before.

There is no reason to NOT choose the best, and Math in Focus is the clear winner. The Board should hear from all of us who want MIF as the next curriculum. If it's good enough for Enfield and Highline, why not Seattle?

mirmac1 said…
Good thing we have three mathies on the board: Peaslee, Peters and McLaren. I believe that Patu would listen to her colleagues.
Copycat, I'll try to do those threads but that will take some research. If anyone wants to take a district, let me know.

Susan Enfield made some mistakes as interim in Seattle, that is clear. But she was a rookie and that was to be expected and I'll be she's learned from it. (I'm pretty sure she doesn't discuss going out to drink wine with colleagues in her e-mails anymore).

I think she is a smart cookie who went from a large and unwieldy district to a far smaller and more manageable one. I think she has done some good work. I also think she likes ed reform but that's her thing.

Tacoma is also doing interesting things.
Anonymous said…
WSDWG, et al, I have to say that I'm baffled by this thread. Here are some underlying assumptions I'm gathering from the thread: (1) CCSS is bad, really bad, devastatingly bad; (2) The district doesn't trust teachers or themselves to make a sound decisions regarding curriculum and instruction; and (3) Highline SD is making sound decisions regarding math curriculum.

Here's what I don't understand, I guess: (1) If CCSS is so bad, why do you support Math in Focus at all? If I understand correctly, MIF is aligned to the CCSS, just not to the extent that EnVision is. So, wouldn't the adoption of MIF also lead to detrimental academic achievement and cause our students to suffer? Why not adopt a curriculum that has no alignment to the CCSS and thus save our children and their futures? (2) If teachers are to be trusted to change the pacing, depth, and presentation of MIF to address the needs of students as well as align to the CCSS as appropriate, why is it that we can't trust our teachers to adjust the pacing, depth, and presentation of EnVision to address the needs of their students and the classroom while aligning to the CCSS? And (3) How can a district being led by such an obvious education deformer make such sound decisions regarding MIF? Could it be that Highline also used the CCSS criterion in choosing MIF and found a better alignment to the CCSS than our own committee? I have no idea but I can't understand how an education deformer didn't basically sell Highline to the highest bidder.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
During Enfield's time in Seattle we got Discovering, despite it being considered "unsound." Go figure.

Methinks some have a short memory.

-MIF please
Anonymous said…
Richard Best is a good choice for Capital Projects. I'm glad we got him, and I hope he stays a while.

Anonymous said…
@MIF Please. Nice catch. Maybe she learned her lesson? Highline isn't under the Alliance's microscope like SPS is, so maybe she's got more freedom to do the right thing or what she thinks will best benefit the students in her district.

@swk: I'm sorry you're so confused. I dunno. Gluten?

Anonymous said…
Thoughts (on swk's questions and Susan Enfield:

1. CCSS's worst aspects are less in what it recommends at each grade level (at least in math), and more in the fidelity to standardized testing and bad approach to skills vs. knowledge (which maybe matters less in elementary math, because in many cases, the skills ARE the knowledge). Thus, it is not "evil" to have something that aligns (or can be made to easily align) with CCSS. The problem, I think, is in substituting fidelity to established CCSS alignment for an informed decision about what actually teaches math the best. I was not on the selection committee -- but let me assume (as in summary judgment motions) that everything the MIF people say is right -- MIF does a demonstrably better job of explaining concepts, providing problem sets and a progression that moves kids through elementary math concepts, and actually gets them ahead (i.e. -- covers MORE ground in a given year) because it does such a good job of being clear, logical and understandable. But it doesn't align well (either because they haven't laid out the elements of alignment in as great a detail, or because its acceleration (or other progression) features actually cause misalignment. Let us also assume, then, that the choice of EnVision is solely a matter of greater fidelity (perceived or real) to CCSS and, to some extent, cost. I think your first argument (why is MIF ok if it also aligns (sort of, mostly, maybe) with CCSS is a red herring. The fact that something can be aligned to CCSS does not make it bad necessarily. The problem is in assuming the opposite -- that the closer the alignment, the better the product, is true. If MIF is a better choice, then the committee (and the board) should not be pulled off task by CCSS alighment issues-- period. They should just pick the best curriculum we can afford (and if we need to talk cost, then we should talk cost, and not CCSS).
Frankly, your first point was very disappointing. I don't always agree with you -- but I haven't known you in the past to propose something that was so clearly fallacious.


Anonymous said…
Here is my problem with your second comment. It IS true, in my opinion, that if EnVision is reasonably good, that good teachers will be able to use it effectively. But -- at the point of choice, when we still have an opportunity to give teachers the best resources we think are out there, why would we go with an inferior one -- for NO good reason (except maybe cost, see above). How would that be different from having your boss show up at your office door and introduce a new employee who reports to you -- saying -- there were clearly better candidates, and I know you are busy, overworked, and undercompensated for the incredibly important work you do -- but I decided for no good reason, to just hire a less competent and qualified person -- I am sure, if you are as good as you say you are, that you can still turn out superior work with this person, instead of a better one, on your staff. Oh -- and you still get fired if you don't.

Is that reasonable? Is that the kind of support teachers should want from the board and the downtown staff? Is that how parents would want their kids' teachers supported?

I have little doubt that math scores will improve if we move from ED to enVision. But I think it critical for the board to understand if (as most seem to think) we are deliberately giving them a lesser quality resource, for no good reason that flawed fidelity to CCSS.

Finally, on your last point -- I agree with Melissa that some of this may just be that Dr. Enfield is more seasoned. But the real reason, I think, is that our bureaucracy at Stanford is just so utterly awful. We hire weak, flawed, inept people at the top bureaucratic layers of teaching and learning (I am excluding the Superintendent right now -- different discussion). We would not be having this discussion if the directions given to the committee had been to pick the best possible materials, period -- without regard to CCSS alignment. The instructions could have then been to consider, if CCSS alignment was an issue, whether other CCSS aligned schools were using the materials successfully, whether the misalignments were material or not, and whether teachers believed that they could meet whatever the challenges might be of lining the materials up with CCSS. (Frankly, we might then be talking about JUMP math -- but it sure sounds like the choice would be between JUMP and MIF, not for enVision. Smarter bureaucrats would have made this happen. T and L has been a deeply flawed department at SSD for years -- and we continue to reap the results. I think that when Dr. Enfield was being led around by bad staff, she made bad decisions. When the input she gets is good, she is entirely capable of making good decisions.

We need to clean house in T and L!

SWK, I am surprised you feel confused. (That said, the gluten remark? Not kind.)

Jan, yes, T&L is becoming a huge problem. I just worry parents won't wake up until the damage is really done.
Anonymous said…
We need to clean house in T and L!


As to the English Language Arts CCSS as they are beginning to be implemented in SPS, it' quite concerning. It is not that the standards are bad. They outline general skills that can be applied to just about any LA (or social studies) curriculum a district may choose.

The problem seems to be SPS directive or interpretation that the CCSS are the curriculum. The CCSS make it clear they are meant to enhance content, not replace content. The LA units have become so random and filled with poorly selected materials, yet get justified because they "align" to Common Core.

I suppose the parallel to the math is that the CCSS are somehow leading to inferior curriculum choices, rather than truly improving academic offerings.

-growing skeptic
Anonymous said…
Excellent explanation Jan. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
@MIF Please: I'm not sure how accurate that Cliff Mass post is re: the timeline of Enfield's involvement with the Discovery Math adoption. My memory is of Carla Santorno standing at the podium telling Michael DeBell everything would be A-OK with Discovery, even though she'd had 3 years to supplement CMP with Singapore/traditional math and not done it replying, remarkably, "It's not that we aren't doing it. It's just that we haven't done it yet." (Or very similar words to that effect). If I recall correctly, Enfield was brought in as an Assistant S.I. and became CAO after Santorno left for Tacoma - after EDM was adopted. Enfield took the district's side defending the decision while the court case was on appeal, but the two key players in getting EDM approved were Santorno and Anna Maria De La Fuente. Enfield could have worked behind the scenes, pushing for EDM. I don't know. But I do know she wasn't in the driver's seat. My memory is at least that good.

And if you recall, EDM was the next step in the "discovery" based or "inquiry" based curriculum after, or replacing in some cases, CMP, which was also from that school, and board members were encouraged to "stay the course" not "undo the progress that had been made (???)" and the usual tripe that follows a bad decision that people can't or won't admit. Anyways, not to defend Enfield history in SPS, the point is that Highline's doing it now and loving it, even with Enfield at the helm, and that should say something loud and clear, whether she's progressed, converted, or had an epiphany. We could use one in T&L downtown!

Anonymous said…
I just see the state learning standards as being the curriculum. Whatever tests OSPI uses to measure are what students, a couple of weeks, prior will be busy reviewing for. Now it's smart balance and CC. Of course people will say these are minimum and not the curriculum, but what incentive is there to push beyond by school districts and teachers. Certain schools and teachers will provide so much more and you know it because kids will gush about those classes.

I don't see the dollars coming from Olympia or businesses to help make things better. Businesses want more tax breaks. And voters don't like more taxes, especially if they think money has been wasted already. All this re-do is expensive.

Tuesday blues
Anonymous said…
If I were someone who intended to go before the school board to argue in favor of adoption of Math In Focus, I would cut and paste Jan's comments above into a Word document and simply read them to the board (sans any reference to disappointment in my obviously fallacious arguments, of course).

There is nothing more effective (or that I personally enjoy more) than a reasoned argument that excludes hyperbole, conjecture, and fallacy.

Truly well done, Jan.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
@swk: If only reason trumped politics. I think we'd all agree on that.

Recall Michael DeBell's very well-reasoned arguments against the adoption of EDM? It's on YouTube if you want to see it. It was truly one of the best, most reasoned and sincere statements about the math adoption I'd ever heard. And it fell on the deaf ears of the Gang of Four who voted in favor of EDM anyways, against the mountain of empirical evidence that showed its huge deficits.

In a fair world - not even a perfect one - reason should win out once in awhile and people would perform at their individual bests, not just go along to get along. But something else is often at play & driving policy in SPS. Textbooks involve big dollar contracts and thus the lure of improprieties and bias. Hence, causes and movements must be multi-pronged to stand a chance of being successful, as reason has too often fallen to SPS politics in the past. If we don't learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
Anyone know if there's an APP-AC meeting tonight, and if so, when/where? I found a cryptic note I'd jotted down, but can't for the life of me find anything on the district's website. Or do they not consider the APP-AC one of their own?

Anonymous said…
Debell voted in favor of EDM and the renewal of CMP2.

He voted against the Discovery Math and those comments are on youtube.

SPS Parent
Anonymous said…
May 6 APP-AC mtg @ Thurgood Marshall Elementary library

Anonymous said…
At Thurgood Marshall tonight, in the Library, May 6, APP AC meeting at 6:30pm. All welcomed!

Anonymous said…

Would you post what is going on with APP-AC? I didn't realize you were still meeting. What is your current objective? Do you have goals for the year? WOuld you post them?
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