Showing posts from June, 2014

A Common Core News Roundup

It's a cavalcade of news but most of it, not so good.  I have nearly 50 other stories in the hopper.  About Pearson, about Gates, about what else states could do without (gasp!) CC.  And then there are the mid-term elections and CCSS. 

Great Reading on Ed Reform by a Local Leader

That leader is Trish Millines Dziko who started Technology Access Foundation and is truly a great thinker on how to push the needle forward for students of color using STEM-based curriculum with project-based learning. Trish has written a series on her thoughts about ed reform (she's frustrated) and we think - intentionally - about the work of educating children on a school level. Time to Transform Public Schools: Part 1- Brown v Board, An Incomplete Journey Time to Transform Public Schools:Part 2 - A Vision for a Great School Time to Transform Public Schools: Part 3 - Don't Drink the Milk (complete with a charming Little Rascals video to prove her point) I believe in what Dziko is doing (and saying) for several reasons.

Seattle School Board Meeting on Wednesday

This meeting could be interesting for a number of reasons. One, it is likely the last one where we will see Superintendent Banda up there on the dais with the Board.  (The Sacramento School Board is scheduled to vote July 17th and this Seattle School Board meeting is the last until August 20th.)  It may be awkward (to say the least) as the Superintendent is now the lamest of lame ducks.  Does the Board say farewell publicly or throw him a quick party after he makes the final announcement on his departure? Two, as usual, the agenda has got some items that stand out. 

Have you written to the Board about a New Superintendent?

Honestly, I think it matters.  (I'll tell you why I think that at the end of the thread.) I wrote to them and included some thoughts that Charlie and I had previously printed here especially around the role of the Board and the role of the superintendent. Here's some of what I said (and I'm deliberately vague on the process because it's the Board's call and no one else's):

Friday Open Thread

Update :  it appears that the district is working with the City and the Downtown Seattle Association on a proposal for the former Federal Building.  I am somewhat surprised given the district's seeming lack of interest.  The proposal is due July 3rd.  I have no further details until I hear back from the district capital spokesman on this issue. End of update. The West Seattle blog reports on a fire at one play area at Schmitz Park early Thursday morning.  It did $50K in damage to a playground that the district paid for last year.   That likely means it is covered by insurance.  The Fire Department is unsure if it was arson, an accident or spontaneous combustion (from wood chips).   From Principal Kischner: “We appreciate the prompt response of the Seattle Fire Department, which prevented what could have been a much more serious outcome. Although the heat was enough to blister paint on the outside of the building and crack numerous windows, there was no damage to the in

Seattle Schools and Building Leadership Teams

Building Leadership Teams (BLTs) exist at every SPS school (or should). There should be parent/community representation at every SPS school's BLT (or should).  That representation should NOT be controlled by the principal. There should be bylaws written and readily available for anyone to be able to access about the decision-making process for each school. Let us know how the BLT at your school works. A huge thank you to  Ann Donovan  who pulled all this info together.  Follow her on Twitter: @ann_donovan for great ed news in one place.

Washington State Democrats Approved Revised Education Plank

You may recall I, along with other Dems, were not so happy to see what appeared to be a stripped-down public education plank in the Washington State Democrats platform. I heard from one of the members of the Platform Committee members, Andrew Villeneuve, on this topic recently. I wanted to let you know that this past weekend, the Washington State Democratic 2014 Convention was held in Spokane. The final Education language adopted by the Convention is here: As you can see, it's quite substantive. The Platform Committee agreed that the original draft (which was produced by a subcommittee) was insufficient and worked hard to ensure we had a set of Education planks that we could be proud of. I wasn't present when the subcommittee responsible for Education came up with the original draft, so I can't speak to how we ended up with that language, but several of us were resolved that we needed to go back to the drawing board and write

Education Items of Note

Stories on Common Core polling, charter schools, all-day schools, spending on high poverty schools and and an ACLU lawsuit over uneven school experiences for low-income students.


March and Rally to Gates Foundation To note: there is the march and rally to protest the ed reform work of the Gates Foundation today, starting at 5 pm at Westlake Park.  The march will then go to the Gates Foundation on Mercer at 5th.  There will be speeches and some kind of flash mob dance. The police are warning of possible traffic issues.   From Diane Ravitch: Speakers: Anthony Cody (prolific education leader from CA) & Kshama Sawant (speaking as a teacher & city council member) will engage the crowd by connecting public education issues to larger issues of democracy vs. oligarchy. Morna McDermott & other education heroes will also make the case for school transformation, not corporate reformation. (Editor's note: Cody is a former teacher and writer at Education Week.) Anthony Cody will be speaking at 10:30 on Friday June 27th at the University of Washington HUB Room 332. His talk about the education ‘reform’ movement and how to reclaim our sch

Duncan to Sped Kids; Try Harder

Update : from the Washington Post's The Answer Shee t on this story: How well special education students perform on a test called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, will be one of the factors considered. This marks the first time that NAEP scores have been attached to any education policy that has potential consequences; the Education Department could withhold federal funds to states that don’t comply with the new special education regulations, though officials there said that is not something they want to do. But NAEP, a test given every two years to a nationally representative sampling of students,  wasn’t designed for this purpose . When asked by reporters about whether using NAEP for this purpose was turning it into a high-stakes test, Duncan said, “I wouldn’t call it high stakes.” He said his department was using NAEP because, however “imperfect,” it was the “only accurate measurement we have.” Well, shades of MAP, imagine using a test for a purpose

Supreme Court Upholds Cell Phone Privacy

 Update: here's a link to ACLU Washington's page on youth issues. This ruling may be a subject you might want to talk to your kids - especially teens - about at some point. In a 9-0 ruling, the Supreme Court today ruled that police must have a warrant to search the cellphones of people they arrest.  From the NY Times: The old rules, Chief Justice Roberts said, cannot be applied to “modern cellphones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.” The courts have long allowed warrantless searches in connection with arrests, saying they are justified by the need to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence. From Chief Justice Roberts ruling:

Example of how SPS Staff Can't Get it Right

Tomorrow is the public hearing on the budget.  This is a state-mandated requirement.  There are rules about it. But I noticed that the SPS website - the home page, the Board's home page, the Calendar page - none of them explained how to give input (other than showing up and THEN finding out).  No info on length of time at the hearing, no info on giving written comment - either e-mail or snail mail - or how long that written comment will be accepted. I complained to the Board and now there's this at the district website.  Again, no real info.  The link to the "rules?"  As of this writing, it doesn't work. Again, what does it take?  Is this that staff doesn't know how?  Doesn't care? I'm filing a complaint with the state.

Summer Safety

I just saw this article in Slate about drowning and what it really looks like.  It's not someone bouncing up and down, yelling, "Help!"  Important reading for parents as we go into the summer months.

Tuesday Open Thread

I attended (and spoke at) the City Council meeting yesterday where the two pre-K for all programs were discussed and voted on.  Boy, you want to see a president of a group control the conversation, look at the master, Tim Burgess.  I'll have a thread on this but it is astonishing the City did not work with pre-school teachers and their union on this issue.  Both measures will be going before voters in the fall, not as complimentary measures on the same topic but competing ones.  It's a pity. Wow, big news out of Milwaukee.  NPR is reporting that in order to boost attendance they are bringing back art, music and PE .  Milwaukee Public Schools is one of several school systems across the country — i ncluding Los Angeles, San Diego and Nashville, Tenn . — that are re-investing in subjects like art and physical education. The Milwaukee school district is hiring new specialty teachers with the hope of attracting more families and boosting academic achievement. Want to show

Seattle Schools and Leadership: What the Fundamental Problem Is

Charlie wrote this elsewhere and it absolutely reflects what I believe.  (Emphasis mine and this is partial.) The Board and the staff have a fundamental disagreement on the role of the Board. The staff believes that the Board should function as a rubber stamp. They don't believe that the Board has anything positive to add at all and should just show up twice a month to approve whatever is placed before them. The less they talk about it the better. These things don't stand up well under discussion - even friendly discussion. The Board, on the other hand, thinks that they have a duty to make policy and oversee management. Funny, right? So the Board occasionally - rarely, to tell the truth - takes a break from floating with the current and sticks an oar in the water. They suggest something. Something like having a transparent program placement process, actually conducting performance evaluations, keeping track of the money, or setting school start times that work fo

From Friday's Mad Dash News over Banda's Pending Departure

Updates: I spoke with several people connected with this issue on Friday.

Seattle Schools This Week

It would have been a quiet week for SPS except for the new issue of Superintendent Banda wanting to leave.  As well, there are a couple of events that will impact our district. Monday, June 23rd Seattle City Council will vote on their Preschool for All bill at 2 pm in City Council chambers.  They do take public comment but I note it comes after presentations (which means you get to sit through a lot before you can speak).  This is important because it involves our district.  I cannot support any measure that puts a burden of time and resources on our district.  It is not the district's core mission nor do our facilities in any way support this use of space. Wednesday, June 25th I see that the previous Work Session on the Superintendent's evaluation has been pulled. Public Hearing on the 2014-2015 Budget from 4-4:15 pm.  You are allowed two minutes to give your input on next year's budget.  I believe you can submit a written statement via e-mail to go into the pub

Two Worthy Pieces of Reading

First up, the most hilarious thing I have read in a long time is this innocent recipe for a rainbow cake with a number baked inside (see pictures).  Why is it great?  The comments.  Goes from an innocent question (with a somewhat snarky answer) to a troll to an all-out fight.  I laughed out loud and it reminded of how commenting can go off the rails. Next, a sobering piece on reform from the Huffington Post - Education Reform: a National Delusion by Steve Nelson. In the cacophony of reform chatter -- online programs, charter schools, vouchers, testing, more testing, accountability, Common Core, value-added assessments, blaming teachers, blaming tenure, blaming unions, blaming parents -- one can barely hear the children crying out: "Pay attention to us!" None of the things on the partial list above will have the slightest effect on the so-called achievement gap or the supposed decline in America's international education rankings. Every bit of education ref

Mythbusters: Seattle can't keep a superintendent

Once again Seattle is looking to hire a schools' superintendent, just two years after hiring the current one. So you're going to read and hear a lot of people saying stuff like "What the heck is wrong with Seattle that it can't keep a superintendent? There must be something wrong with that school district/school board/city/community/whatever." Let's bust this myth.

New Game: If I Were Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools

Okay, boys and girls! We're going to play a new game. The new game is called "If I Were Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools", and here are the rules. Here in the Comments of this thread tell us what actions you would take if you were the next Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. That, by itself, is enough fantasy, so please keep the proposed actions in the realm of reality - you may not have any staff keel-hauled, spend more than the budget, or hire Clark Kent (wink*wink*). Nor can you magically wave your wand and have all classes taught to the Standards, make all principals wise and kind, or give all teachers the ability to differentiate instruction. You're going to have to explain how you are going to manage these changes in culture and personnel. Take your time. There are no bonus points for answering quickly.

Friday Open Thread

I first want to congratulate parents and staff (and students) for their hard work this school year.  I did see my second son graduate from college in May.  Yesterday I went back to his elementary school to thank two special teachers, Marianne Crawford and Gillian Gordon-Smith, at Whittier.  I believe as his first and fifth grade teachers, they bookended his time at Whittier and gave him a great start.   (I would also single out Ian Malcolm at Roosevelt - a superlative teacher who I think helped my son greatly.) My son is going onto graduate school because of great teachers like these three. I hope that as your years go by in SPS that you take the time to remember teachers who made a difference in your child's life. It means the world to them to know (1) that they did make a difference and (2) what happened to your child in the years after a teacher had them in his/her class. Seattle Children's Theatre has the Washington State Teaching Artist Training Lab .  If you know a

Banda Leaving Seattle Schools

 Update 4:  just returned from press conference.  It was interesting and I will have a full report later (I am just sitting down to eat something for the first time today.  Had an interview with both the Communications director and school board president in Sacramento.) My belief is that Banda will be gone by July 17th( that is the earliest date the Sacramento board can vote him in as their new superintendent.)  But yes, I do believe he will be gone, baby, gone by the end of July. End of update.  He is letting staff know today. I don't know where he is going (I have rumor that it is a district in San Jose, California.) I suspect the Board will make Charles Wright the interim superintendent. Update:  KUOW is reporting that he is a finalist for a job in Sacramento.  (My source tells me he has the job.) From the KUOW story: “Sacramento is an opportunity to go back to California, an opportunity to be closer to family,” Banda said. “As I near the latter part of my ca

Common Core; Who Knew?

Polling.  Our country loves this stuff.  Naturally, for anyone who has taken a decent high school civics class (or sociology/poly sci course in college), we all know to take polling with a grain of salt.  Depends on who does it, who paid for it (not always the same) and, most of all, the shaping of the questions.  Nowhere is this more visible than in polling around Common Core.  The most hilarious part?  To this day, nearly half the country doesn't have a clue.  Still. 

Updating: Downtown School for Seattle

Well, this is interesting.  News from the Puget Sound Business Journal. As you may remember, the former Federal Reserve building - a federal building - was closed years ago.  Under federal law, entities and groups may apply to use the building for public purposes.  The Downtown Association was very interested in the district applying so that downtown would have an elementary school.  It's a good location, near the downtown library.  District facilities director, Flip Herndon, toured the building with some reps from the DSA earlier this year.  He is decidedly not in favor because of the many issues of getting the building ready (and he already has a lot on his plate).  He believes it might take up to $40M to get it ready and the district only has about $5M.   He said around 460 kindergarten through fifth graders live within a mile and a half of the former bank branch. There was a homeless group applying for its use and they had first rights.  Their application was turned do

I Must Be Blind

I must be blind because I can't see what the Seattle Times editorial board sees when they look at the legislature's response to the McCleary decision.

Louisiana Governor Drops Common Core and its Assessment Group

Update : from Jindal's press release (bold mine): The Governor said the state is no longer committed to implementing the PARCC assessment in the 2014-15 school year, rendering it unable to comply with the terms of the June 2010 Memorandum of Understanding between the State and PARCC. In addition, several changes have occurred since the MOU was signed that make Louisiana’s membership in conflict with Louisiana law. He also cited teacher dissatisfaction and concerns over one-size fits all federal standards, and highlighted that the federal government has rushed its implementation. Governor Jindal said, “It’s time for PARCC to withdraw from Louisiana. We won’t let the federal government take over Louisiana’s education standards. We’re very alarmed about choice and local control over curriculum being taken away from parents and educators.  Common Core has not been fully implemented yet in Louisiana, and we need to start the process over. It was rushed in the beginn

Corrections and Updates

Corrections  I misspoke when I said that Jackie Bezos was Jeff Bezos' wife.  She is his mother.  She is the president of his family foundation.  I reported that two members of the Advanced Learning Committee were at the C&I meeting last week but I missed the name of one person.  That was Jeanne Thompson, the chair, of the APP Advisory Ctm and a member of the current AL taskforce. Updates The district is following other districts' in dropping the senior project for graduation.  They have waffled a bit saying individual high schools can still require them so you need to check with your high school to see what decision (if any) has been made.  You may recall that one high school student made creating a bill to get rid of the senior project her own senior project.  

End of the Year Changes May Be Foretelling for Others

As for the title of this thread, I am hearing some rumblings of a rather large change that may come to the district very soon.  I am trying to learn more and when I know for certain I will let you know.  I hesitate to say anything specific.  There are two reasons for me saying anything at all.  One, because I believe parents deserve a heads up early (if only to brace yourself).  Two, because I rarely get any credit or acknowledgement from the regular media, I'd like to be able to say I was the first one to raise the red flag. We have all seen the shifting sands of principal movement.   I asked the district some questions about this issue and here are the questions and replies.

Tuesday Open Thread

Great article at Publicola on the McCleary ruling (with slide from the Office of Financial Management).  Meanwhile, over at the Times, the editorial board is saying that the Supreme Court is "menacing" the Legislature.  They say that "so far" the Legislature has done everything the Court has asked.  Except fully fund education in a clear and explainable manner.  The Legislature went back into session to make Boeing happy.  How about the 1M Washington state public education students? Horrifying (but good) article at Crosscut about homeless teens in Shelton.  The Shelton School District tracks homeless youths in order to receive federal money for programs that serve them. For the 2012-2013 school year, the district counted 374 homeless children and youths; 38 were high school juniors, 62 were seniors. Nearly 14 percent of the seniors at Shelton last year were homeless. Last, you will hear that the completely made-up group, National Council on Teacher Qua

Seattle Schools Updates

In contrast to what is happening for Graham Hill and South Shore , here's the principal process that Wedgwood had (as reported on their webpage): Wedgwood is getting a new Principal. This is a really exciting time for us. The goal is to hire a new Principal that best meets the unique needs of our kids and our school. The Wedgwood BLT (Building Leadership Team, comprised of five elected staff members representing all grade levels and the PTA President) met with Kim Whitworth, Executive Director of Schools for the Northeast region recently to discuss the hiring process. Wedgwood’s hiring committee, limited to 10 people, will consist of the BLT (6 people), three additional Wedgwood staff (for diversity of position) as well as our newly elected PTA VP Davina Inslee. The District is currently working to recruit a pool of principals for Wedgwood and other schools. These candidates will go through an initial vetting process, then Wedgwood will be given six potential principals to

Seattle and Universal Pre-K (Not all that it appears)

 Update: From KPLU comes news that the City Council has delayed their vote on the Pre-K plan, apparently because a separate referendum (I-107) will likely be on the ballot in November.  The Mayor had wanted his proposal to go on the ballot in 2015.  Councilman Burgess says it might loosen the city's control over the qualifications for teachers.  But the I-107 side says that with their initiative more of the existing teachers would get professional development while with the City's proposal there would be many fewer current preschool teachers eligible.  end of update. Again, like mom, apple pie and the flag, we can all like the idea of providing enriching activities to stimulate the brains of our Seattle toddlers.  Research has shown that kids with good preschool do better when they enter kindergarten. Over at the Seattle Education blog , Dora Taylor does an incredibly heavy lift over the question of what exactly is being promoted (and by who) for the issue of universal

Seattle School Leadership Changes at South Shore/Graham Hill

South Shore K-8 is losing its award-winning principal, Keisha Scarlett.  Their new principal will be Dr. Laurie Morrison who had previously served as assistance principal and was the principal at Graham Hill Elementary.   Ms. Scarlett is going to be the district's "principal leadership coach." What is odd is that a survey was sent home Thursday night to parents about input on the principal.  It had also been available on the SS website but it's unclear for how long.  It seems odd to do that unless you didn't have any community input on the selection of a new principal.  (To note, the district's previous agreement with the New School Foundation that help to fund South Shore included a notation that New School had a say in the principal.  I wonder if the agreement with LEV has the same notation.)  There is also an article in the Rainier Valley Post on Graham Hill parents who are very unhappy with leadership changes at their school that see their entire lead

Seattle Schools This Week

Again, high school graduations are continuing so congrats to all students and their families. As well, Thursday is the last day of school for all students so enjoy these last days.  Wednesday, June 18th School Board meeting, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda .

Did You Know?

It's the end of spring so, I'm spring cleaning.  That means going thru my vast SPS files and throwing out/reordering. Naturally, I found some interesting stuff (but threw out two bags of paper).  Among the things I found: - Did you know I was an education activist in high school?  Me, neither but apparently I wrote, for the school newspaper, an op-ed in support of a bond measure to building onto our school.  I mention that our high school was built for less than 1,000 students and we had over 1500.   We had 30-year old stadium lights that leaned like the tower in Pisa.  We needed science labs and a new auto shop. It was for $3M but I don't know if it passed.  - Did you know the Alliance for Education - at least in 2011 - actually included Spectrum in the feedback they received from folks attending their State of the District luncheon.  " Increase access to Spectrum and ensure consistency across the district."   - Did you know as far back as 2005, the dis

Latest on Advanced Learning in Seattle Public Schools

Update:  AL Supervisor Stephen Martin provided the grant application to me but I can't seem to create a link.  He said this: As you may know, the final guidance from OSPI will not be available until Tuesday June 17, so the iGrant application is very much a work in progress and likely to change before submission. OSPI understands that districts may need to make revisions as local plans are finalized for this first year of implementation of the new WACs. From the SPS webpage: - Summer Testing: For students who moved to Seattle after October 2013 and were not able to test for Advanced Learning eligibility, a summer testing opportunity is available. Information and Application Form . Applications are due by August 1, 2014. - For students found eligible for Advanced Learning programs, a School Choice Form must be completed in order to enroll. Forms are available from the Enrollment office ( or call 252-0760). You can still apply for a schoo

Compare and Contrast How Vergara Decision is Viewed

An ad in USA Today by yet ANOTHER group.  As Diane Ravitch notes, Funny the ad doesn’t mention that the highest performing states in the U.S. on the NAEP are Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut, all of which have strong unions. Or that the states at the bottom of the NAEP ratings do not have strong unions (or, in some states), none at all. The ad was underwritten by the deceptively named “ Center for Union Facts ,” which last year ran a full-page ad in the New York Times blaming the AFT and Randi Weingarten for our international test scores. Answered back by the Badass Teachers Association

Friday Open Thread

Found this kind of fun looking gaming science/math site - might be worth bookmarking for those long summer days.  A sobering look at school shootings.  Here's a list of every school shooting since Jan 2013.  Did you hear?  A mom in Philadelphia, a mother of seven with four currently in school, was jailed for two days over her children's truancy fines.  She died in jail .  On a lighter note, here's some photos of a 50-year reunion of  the 1964 1st grade class at Montlake. Director community meetings tomorrow: - Blanford - 10 am-noon at Douglass-Truth Library - Martin-Morris - 11 am to 1 pm at Montlake Library - Carr - 8:30 am - 10 am - Bethany Community Church What's on your mind?

The Supreme Court: Ball's in your court, Legislature

The Supreme Court had something to say about the lack of progress in fulfilling the McCleary Decision.  It's short but sweet .  They ordered the State to appear before them on September 3, 2014 to address why they should not be held in contempt by the Court.  The State must reply by July 11, 2014. Here's what they say they can do to address the request for "relief requested by the plaintiffs:" - imposing monetary or other contempt sanctions; - prohibiting expenditures on certain other matters until the Court's constitutional ruling is complied with; - order the legislature to pass legislation to fund specific amounts or remedies; - ordering the sale of State property to fund constitutional compliance; - invalidating education funding cuts to the budget; - prohibiting any funding of an unconstitutional education system; - and any other appropriate relief.   I find it hard to believe they can order the legislature to pass anything.  But it would

Seattle Schools Releases 2014-2015 Budget

Haven't read thru this myself but here's the SPS budget for next year. From SPS: Seattle Public Schools on June 11 released the proposed budget for the next school year, which includes funding for educating more than 52,000 students and operating 97 schools. The proposed $689 million General Fund budget and $214 million Capital Fund budget will go to the School Board for introduction on June 18 and a July 2 vote. View the full proposed budget . A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 4 p.m. on June 25 in the auditorium at John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence, 2445 3rd Ave. S. Those wishing to speak about the FY 2014-15 Recommended Budgets must register at the School Board Office before or on the day of the public hearing. The budget office will continue updating the budget appendices. Please check the  budget department website for updated information. Please direct any questions or comments about the budget to  

Two Major Education News Stories

One story comes from California where a California superior court overturned laws related to the employment of teachers and, specifically, the use of tenure.  The other is the defeat of the House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor. The tenure story is somewhat akin to the story on Common Core.  Whatever your views on standards (CC) or whatever your views on teacher tenure (California), how we all got to this place needs some real notice.  (As I previously reported, a rather long expose at the Washington Post revealed for all to see that Bill Gates, once he got convinced about Common Core, was THE driving force behind Common Core.  It's not a pretty road.  Same with the California ruling this week.) So about the California ruling, known as the Vergara Decision. 

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

There is an Audit and Finance Committee meeting today at 4:30 p.m.  Wish I could attend but I have an event.  Here's the agenda which has some interesting items: - adoption of the 2014-2015 budget book .  This might be interesting since the pick of MIF for K-5 Math adoption.  Of course, until a contract is executed, no one truly knows how much MIF will cost the district.  They had, according to their presentation at the last Board meeting, been willing to spend about $3.6M on enVision.  MIF is more expensive but, as has been pointed out, many of the items that staff pointed to as costs can be mitigated one way or another. - a loan from the Capital Eligible Program (CEP) to pay for the renovations at TT Minor for the Seattle World School .  They don't give a figure for this loan.  - one of my perennial favors is on the agenda - JSCEE Bonds annual update .  It's amazing how that building is the gift that keeps on taking from this district.  So much money spent on acqu

Math Pathways, Middle School, and Equitable Access

The District has claimed that equitable access to quality programs and services for all students is important to them. They say that, but where are the efforts to provide equitable access beyond the flowery talk? In one step towards equitable access the District math department has standardized math placement in middle school. All of our comprehensive middle schools use the same assessment and make the same placement based on the results. This is a positive step towards equitable access. A student is assigned to the same 6th grade math class regardless of their attendance area school. Too bad that commitment ends in the 6th grade.

Garfield and Roosevelt - Top 10 for WA State Honors Award

From SPS Communications: Garfield and Roosevelt high schools are ranked in the top 10 for students receiving the Washington State Honors Award. Garfield is ranked 8th and Roosevelt is ranked 9th – tied with Brainbridge High School. The  Washington State Honors Award Program  honors the top 10 percent of the current year's graduating class from Washington state. To qualify for the award a student must rank in the top 10 percent of this year’s high school graduating class. The ranking is determined by an index, which considers Grade Point Average and college prep test scores. Furthermore, a student must have completed at least 75 percent of the credits required for graduation and be enrolled in at least three academic core subjects in Grade 12. Of the 260 school districts in the state, the following heads the list for having the most recipients. 1. Newport High School - Bellevue School District 2. Skyline High School  - Issaquah School District 3. Mercer Island High School - Mercer

Charter Schools Ed News Roundup

Great National Education Policy Center (NEPC) paper called "Wait, wait. Don't Mislead Me!  Nine Reasons to be skeptical about charter waitlist numbers. " So the next time you hear some huge number of kids are on charter school waitlists, remember these. In brief: Students apply to multiple charter schools Waitlist numbers cannot be confirmed Waitlist record-keeping is slipshot and unreliable Many charter applications are for non-admissible greades It's likely that most charters aren't very oversubscribed NAPCS's (National Association of Public Charter Schools)Methods aren't available for independent verification NAPCS numbers are inexplicably precise What are we comparing charter waitlist numbers to? charter waitlists can be trimmed by requiring "backfill" From the Seattle Education blog , a good explanation of the bills in Congress to give a big boost to charters (seemingly in the name of accountability). To note, over in Spo

Odds and Ends on Math Adoption

The Times finally got around to writing an article on this issue.  I didn't really like their take on it but I'm not surprised that it is made to sound like the cost was the main issue.  The article said that MIF is "nearly twice as expensive" as enVision but forgot to say that was based on the staff's reading of it.  The article then waits until nearly the end to say "the exact cost won't be known until the district places the order."  Oh.  They also made it sound like the MAC recommendation was a done deal - when that was never the case - and it caught all these principals off-guard.  Well, whose fault is that?  Not the Board's. Got some interesting e-mails in my most recent public disclosure request from Seattle Schools.

And I Mean This Sincerely

There are a number of people who are very worked up about the School Board's recent decision to adopt Math in Focus as the instructional materials for K-5 math. A lot of the opposition has been expressed as outrage that the Board did not follow the expert recommendation of the Materials Advisory Committee. Is that really the beef? Really? I find it very difficult to accept this claim as sincere from people who, as far as I can tell, have never expressed any similar outrage when other advisory committee recommendations have been ignored. I have been watching the District very closely for about 14 years and I have almost never seen the leadership implement the recommendations of an advisory committee. Almost never. So why would people - who never seemed to mind this failure before - suddenly become incensed this time? I can't say, but I can say that I don't believe that they are really upset about what they claim to be upset about. They are not really upset about the reject

Common Core Updates

Update 2:  Arne strikes back.  Today Sec'y Duncan, in an apparent effort to shore up support (and that's putting it nicely), pretty much threatened the state of Oklahoma for backing out of Common Core. Word to the wise, Secretary Duncan, want to make even MORE people suspicious of Common Core? Try the federal government strong-arm. You're only giving them more to work with. From Yahoo News: Duncan had ominous words for states that buck the Common Core trend. “We partner with states whether they’re in Common Core or have their own high standards. But where we will challenge status quo is when states dummy down standards,” he warned. End of update. Update:   the NY Times is reporting the Gates Foundation has "called" for a two-year moratorium on states making any "high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned to the new standards."  Well, that's big of them considering THEY have caused this rush to new standards and testing.  The letter

Parents, Secure Your Guns

(Update: I do include a correction about the Simpson murders; they were stabbed, not shot.  My attempt was to link the uptick in shooting with the Simpson murders simply because going after a murder criminally is NOT the only way to go.  Apparently this linkage was lost on some readers.  My apology for anyone have their whole world view explode over this single point.) There was a shooting today at a Portland high school just after 8 am.  The shooter and a student are dead.  Clearly, something is in the air.  Whether it's extreme right-wing paranoia of our government or narcissism or mental illness or teen unhappiness, their one link is guns. So far we can't do much about adults who get guns.  (But we can work to close those gunshow loopholes.  Yes on 594 .)  The Daily Show had a hilarious skit that pointed out how Second Amendment supporters like Bill O'Reilly said that there will "always be mass murders."  Except, as the Daily Show points out, in countries

Math Adoption Redux

Analysis I am going to believe the Superintendent as he tells principals that Math in Focus in the sole selection for K-5 math and will be used in the fall.  I am disappointed that he said in the letter, "I know many of us are frustrated about the process."  It's an odd statement given the district - not the Board - designed the process.  The actual vote on it was designed by the State Legislature (meaning the Board has the final, legal say on the curriculum). I am going to believe the Superintendent when he says that MIF will be funded to be "fully implemented" including professional development. Updates -  Clearly, someone from above was trying to maneuver the BLT process .  I say this because I heard from three different people at three different schools about a math adoption survey.  It was the same survey .  Now how could that have happened, I wonder. It was also a strange survey asking parents what is important to them in math curriculum.  Thes

Tuesday Open Thread

A recap of the Curriculum and Instruction meeting to come.  I perceive this is not quite the done deal it appears to be.  Got a grad?  A great story asking prominent/interesting people "If I were 22 again..." Written probably for college grads but still worth letting your own graduate read.  I was at a high school graduation party this weekend and told some of the kids to write a letter to themselves and open it when they are 30.  One young lady said she did that in 8th grade for when she graduated from high school.  She said, "I was so...bubbly and optimistic."  C'mon kid, you just graduated from high school.  Speaking of graduation (and graduation parties if your child is not attending the school-sponsored all night party - highly recommended), here's a great video about driving and texting that was shown in a movie theater. Great article in The Stranger about Nova High School.  Principal Mark Perry is such a gift to this district and particularly

Seattle School District Priorities (By Senior Staff)

Again, more from the Retreat and analysis later but here's what staff put out as priorities (and this in reference to trying to do the bell time analysis work plus all these items).  Seattle School District Priorities 2014-2015

Seattle Schools and Later Bell Times

Just wanted to put this up for tonight; some further input from the Retreat and thoughts tomorrow. Seattle School District presentation on bell times. Framework timeline for work on bell times. Board Resolution (not yet adopted) on later bell times.

Letter to Seattle Schools Principals from Superintendent Banda

Quick Update :  At the C&I meeting, I had expected more of a kumbaya moment but clearly there are hard feelings and not all has been settled.  I did record that part of the meeting and will upload when I can.   Generally, there is some confusion over the waiver process, principals thought that the MAC rec was going to be upheld by the Board (despite not having any real good history of committee recs always being upheld by the Board) and Board members are still wary of what is happening.   There is a previously scheduled building leadership meeting tomorrow and the Superintendent said they will be discussing this.  I hope to be able to attend that portion of the meeting as it has no personnel issues to it so that I can report back on the concerns coming from principals on the math adoption. end of update  Also to update: The C&I Committee Chair and staff have agreed to move the math adoption update to first place on the agenda.   So that discussion will be at 4:30 pm, n

Curriculum & Instruction Meeting Today; Update

I just checked in with the Board office on the order of items on what should be a very enlightening Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting.  The math adoption was added late Saturday and, if you are following this blog, things are changing fast and furiously. Because this agenda had been made up for awhile and other staff have presentations that were on the agenda previously, in the name of fairness, the math adoption item will NOT be moved up the list. That means that the Committee will be addressing that item towards the end of the meeting.  Depending the discussions previous to math adoption (and there are a lot of them), I suspect the math adoption discussion will start somewhere between 5:45-6:00 pm.   The meeting is to end at 6:30 pm.

Shelter in Place at several Seattle South End Elementaries

  Last update: Police have suspect in custody.  Shelter in place lifted at all six schools. Latest from SPD twitter feed 11:15 am: According to Officers on scene at 51 Ave S/S Brandon St the suspect is fully contained within the suspects house. From SPD tweets: Officers responding to area of 51 Ave S/S Brandon St for a reported shooting. No known victims at this time.  SPD says they are on their way to a "suspect residence."   From SPS communications 8 minutes ago via Twitter: Report of shots fired nearby. These schools in shelter-in-place: Orca K-8, Aki Kurose MS, and Dearborn Pk, Graham Hill, ML King, Wing Luke

Math Adoption Documents

More documents at Scribed from Julian A.  They include info on 2015 Math in Focus and several school math waivers.  Scroll to the bottom to access other documents. 

Seattle Schools Math Adoption Update

Here's the latest that I have gleaned from various sources: - Michael Tolley did indeed, in front of Director McLaren, say that "in effect there is a dual adoption."   This is stunning.  I believe now that if this push to have schools - in effect vote on which math curriculum they want - blows up in staff's collective faces, they will then say, "Oh, we interpreted the Board vote as dual because we have a math waivers policy."  That may have been why the Superintendent repeatedly told me yesterday that the math waivers policy was important in this discussion. I'm not sure that CYA will work but good luck.  At the worst, someone may be out of a job and at the least, a very bitter wind will continue to blow through this district.

Seattle Schools Happenings - More than Math Adoption

There were some other key, important things said at both the School Board meeting last Wednesday and the Board retreat yesterday.  I'll just group information under headings but note by M (for meeting) or R (for retreat) where I heard it. Principals (M) To note, both of the Washington State Principals of the Year, for high school and K-8, came from Seattle Schools.  Keven Wynkoop, principal at Ballard , and Keisha Scarlett, principal at South Shore, were the winners.  Mr. Wynkoop is one of several of our high school principals who actually attended the high school he now leads.  Native American students (M) President Peaslee noted that she wished that the Indian Heritage program would be revitalized especially in high school.  This came in conjunction with the large contingent of Native American parents, students and community members who were part of public testimony.  They said they wanted a program for high school and hoped it could be at Chief Sealth where the lar

Seattle Schools' Math Adoption: What's Happening at Your School?

Update 2: It now appears that staff - via the Executive Directors - have gone to the principals association to ask them to vote - en masse - for enVision.  Very troubling. I have NO idea when Ex Directors became empowered to speak on labor issues with groups that represent teachers, principals, etc.  I'll be interested to hear when that happened. One good thing - the principals association has also said they would like an extension of time to consider all this.  That's a smart move. End of update 2.  Update: Stevens - likely to be enVision Bryant - likely to be Math in Focus End of update  A reader suggested that we start a thread and try to keep track of what is happening at all the K-5/K-8s vis a vis the math adoption.  There are 59 elementary schools and 10 K-8s so I'm not going to try to list them all here. In the Comments Section, note your school, what you are hearing at your school via principal/PTA/schoolyard, and the input that you gave your pri

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, June 9th Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee Meeting , 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda A large agenda for various policies and includes an update on Creative Approach schools, Advanced Learning update, the BARs for the Highly Capable Program Annual Plan and Seattle Teacher Residency.  At the end of the agenda, just added - Math Adoption Update. If you do one extra thing this week (besides writing to the Board/your principal about your thoughts on the math adoption), try to attend this meeting from about 5:45-6:30 pm .  If that small Board conference room was packed with parents/community, it would send a powerful message to all in the room.  Even if you had to stand in the hall and try to listen, it would be worth it. Wednesday, June 11th Executive Committee Meeting, 8:30-10:00 am.  Agenda Among the items is "public access to district records- policy 4040", review of annual required reports (which is a funny one considering how - according to Charlie's cou