Monday, June 30, 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.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

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, June 27, 2014

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 interior or the structure of the building. Mr. McNaughton and school district maintenance responded quickly this morning to secure the area and repair windows. A security fence is expected tomorrow, and it is likely that the damaged structure will be removed fully next week.”

As we learn of an uptick in measles cases in King County, a ruling from NYC over a policy that bars unvaccinated children from being in school when another student comes with a disease that a vaccination could prevent.

In the ruling, Kuntz wrote that the Supreme Court, "strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations."

Three families filing suit contended that the school policy preventing their unvaccinated children from attending school at risky times is a First Amendment violation of religious freedom. 

I don't want to start a fight but we are living in an area where the numbers of children NOT being vaccinated is rising.  Please, go do your research but understand that having measles come back as a childhood disease is wrong and will hurt many children and adults especially babies.  

There is still a petition out for later start times for secondary schools in  SPS.  Consider reading it and adding your signature. 

What's on your mind?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

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 a better set of planks for Education, even before the public comment period ended and we received a bunch of comments saying the same thing.

So that's we did. The dedicated activists who volunteer for the Platform Committee draft the platform in stages, thereby allowing for continuous improvement, whether that comes in the form of tweaks or a striking amendment. It's a deliberative process. 

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 schools will be live streamed @ schoolhouselive.org

There will then be three breakout sessions for you to choose from (these are as valuable as YOU make them! We aren’t teaching you what to do, we are asking you to plan next steps for yourselves & to inspire others new to organizing):

Opt Out planning in your locale: Why & How?
Creating 21st Century Schools-what is our vision?
Coalition Building with other organizers who see Gates as a threat to social justice 

Following those three work groups we will show the movie Standardized. A panel of speakers will do some Q & A following the movie.

Details here: https://m.facebook.com/events/742638552449687
Location here: http://depts.washington.edu/thehub/reserve-the-hub/hub-spaces/hub-332/

Downtown School
Crosscut is saying (without attribution) that the City, the district and the Downtown Association are working on a proposal for the old Federal Building.  Dr. Herdon is on vacation and I haven't yet been able to verify anything on this.  The deadline is July 3rd. 

The district's request for departures from City zoning were all passed by the committee in charge last night.

This turned into an ugly (and expensive) situation.  I will attempt to post all the back and forth between the district and the lawyer hired by neighbors to protect their rights but I can only say - not pretty.

The district's hired lawyers (and I'm finding out the cost) said some of the issues around the bus areas were because of APP (not noting that the district also had to transport some students from around the region for the K-8 program).  They also "noted" (read: threatened) the neighbors that if the district didn't get the departures, they might have to use the power of eminent domain and take some houses, stating, "as it has done in the past as necessary."  (I am also asking when this last happened.) 

The neighbors truly believe that two schools can't fit on that site.  It seems to be the fields will definitely be smaller but weigh in if I am mistaken. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Duncan to Sped Kids; Try Harder

Update: from the Washington Post's The Answer Sheet 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 it was not designed for.  

end of update

An interesting collection of statements from Arne Duncan came out as he issued new regulations on how schools are to serve Special Education students.  From NPR:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced what he calls "a major shift" in how the government evaluates the effectiveness of federally funded special education programs.

"It's not enough for a state to be compliant if students can't read or do math," Duncan said. "We must have a system that will do more than just measure compliance."

The latest government figures show that the dropout rate for students with disabilities is twice that for nondisabled students. Two-thirds of students with disabilities are performing well below grade level in reading and math. By the eighth grade, that figure rises to 90 percent.

Apparently creating an IEP (individualized education plan) will no longer be enough.  Duncan is saying that it isn't enough for schools to say they are serving these students but that the students are making academic progress.

Fair enough, perhaps, but then there is this:

Under the new guidelines, Duncan says he'll require proof that these kids aren't just being served but are actually making academic progress.

"We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel," Duncan said.

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:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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 — including 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 your kids a quick history lesson about the U.S.?  Here's an interactive map from Slate showing the loss of land from Native Americans.

KOMO tv is reporting that a Seattle Schools mom wants Meatless Mondays.   Megan Murphy gave the district 1500 signatures to the district towards this effort.  This won't happen next year, according to SPS, but they will consider it in the future.

She pointed out that dozens of large cities across the country, including Bellevue, San Diego, Los Angeles and Philadelphia are already doing it.

Apparently even Leonardo da Vinci had to have a resume. From Letters of Note:

Da Vinci's efforts paid off, and he was eventually employed. A decade later, it was Sforza who commissioned him to paint The Last Supper.

What's on your mind?

Monday, June 23, 2014

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 for students. You can review the past several years' of "Board Priorities" for a complete list.

The staff reacts to these signs of life with the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, but without ever actually doing the work that the Board asks them to do. How could they possibly do any of that silly work when they are so busy with the same implementation that they have been trying to make (under a variety of names) for over a decade now?

It was called Standards-based Learning System, "the same high quality instruction at every school", Fidelity of Implementation, Equitable Access, and now MTSS. It doesn't matter what they call it, they can't get it to happen. And they are trying in every way they know.

The only way this ridiculous dysfunction can be fixed is for a new superintendent to come in and fix it. 

A superintendent who understands administration and management of a company of professionals.

A superintendent who understands that you have to allow people to participate in the development of an idea if you want their buy-in. 

A superintendent who will articulate a narrow mission for the central administration so they aren't wasting their time on pet projects that don't advance the mission, so they actually can address themselves to the mission, and so they can eliminate the excess payroll in the JSCEE that doesn't support schools, teachers, and students.

I will add a couple of things.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

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


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

Seattle Schools This Week

http://saveourschoolsmarch.org/core/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/bats-flyer.jpgIt 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 public record but I will check.  Sadly, the agenda gives no information on how to give input.

Work Session: Open Public Meetings Act and Public Records Act Training from  4:30-5:30 pm.   Powerpoint presentation.

Thursday, June 26th
March and rally to protest the Gates Foundation involvement in public education sponsored by Save Our Schools and BATS (Badass Teachers Assocation) from 5-7 pm.  They will march from Westlake Park to the Gates Foundation (at 5th and Mercer/500 5th Ave N).

Speakers include Anthony Cody, Kshama Sawant, Wayne Au & Morna McDermott. We would love you to join our flash mob and sing with our amazing chorus. You will also have an opportunity to vocally demand that public education be revitalized as the foundation to a free society that it should be.

Saturday, June 28th
Community Meeting with Director Patu from 10 am to noon at Caffe Vita.

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 reform -- every think tank remedy proposed by wet-behind-the-ears MBAs, every piece of legislation, every one of these things -- is an excuse to continue the unconscionable neglect of our children. 

As Pogo wisely noted, "We have met the enemy and he is us." We did this to our children and our schools.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

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.

Friday, June 20, 2014

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 great artist, let them know about this opportunity.

Community meeting tomorrow - Director Peters from 11 am - 12:30 pm at Magnolia Library.

I would end by saying have a great summer - let your kid play, stay up late, read under a tree, and have some fun.  The public libraries have great summer programs so check them out. 

The blog will be on a bit of a hiatus (although the recent superintendent change may change that) throughout the summer although we will try to maintain the Open Threads.  I am going to write about one major issue next week so look for that.

I am half-smiling when I ask, "What's on your mind?"

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 career, it’s an opportunity to get back into the retirement system that I spent almost my entire career in.”

I recall this as having been brought up as a possible issue when he was a candidate to come to Seattle.

Unlike Seattle’s public superintendent search processes, Sacramento was poised to vote on Banda’s contract on Thursday before even announcing that he was a finalist. The vote was postponed at the last minute after board members decided to visit Seattle next week.

Well, now that the cat's out of the bag, that seems a bit awkward.   He couldn't be more lame duck at this point and if he doesn't get the job?

Banda said he considers his greatest accomplishments as Seattle superintendent to be the 2013 capital and operations levies, worth a combined $1.3 million. He’s also proud of the district’s new strategic plan.

He leaves with two years left on his contract.

I don't want to hear anything about superintendents being pushed out.  He came, he hung around and now he's leaving.

Update 2:  letter from Banda - very bland.

I have a call into Sacramento to ask some questions.

Update 3:  Checking the search firm that Sacramento SD is using I see a somewhat familiar face.  One of the principals at the company, Leadership Associates, is Kent Bechler.  I know I have seen Mr. Bechler in the audience at a couple of district meetings in the recent weeks.  I had wondered who he was.

Update 4:
Letter from President Peaslee- She's being pretty nice in this letter; good for her.

The Sacramento job starts July 1st so he is gone, gone gone (if he gets it but I suspect he has it).

And yes, this was the big news I had been hinting at.

Press Conference at 1 pm; I'll be there.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

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 down recently.  The district is now next in line.

But, the district only has until July 3rd to apply.  I think they should. 

Ironically, one issue is how "stout" the building is - it's able to withstand an atomic blast.  According to those who have seen it, the building is massive with the entire bottom floor being giant safes.  

The location is good.  (Children live everywhere in downtown, not just by QA and South Lake Union.) 

It's free.  Did I mention, it's free?  And, after 50 years, the district owns the building and the land outright.  What a gift for future generations.  Because if the district - at that point - doesn't want it, they will likely be able to sell it for a big chunk of change.

As for the costs, I suspect that between downtown interests and a possible levy, it could get done.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

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 beginning and done without public input.

“If other states want to allow the federal government to dictate to them, they have every right to make that choice. But education is a primary responsibility of states, and we will not cede this responsibility to the federal government.”

The Governor said the MOU does not allow for a competitive bid process for the test, which is required under Louisiana law. Additionally, other vendors have entered the market that offer comparable assessments at lower costs and allow greater input from, and accountability to, the states that hire them. Louisiana law requires the state to choose the lowest cost responsive bidder.

BUT, Louisiana's state superintendent of schools sees it differently:

“The state will continue to implement the Common Core Standards… this is a long term plan we have been working on for four years and committed to another 10 years of implementation. We are not willing to subject our children to last minute changes to throw our system into educational chaos,” White said.

End of update.

From Deutsch29 blog:

Jindal just finished a press conference.

His words, summarized:

Corrections and Updates

  •  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.
  • 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.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

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 Quality that is funded mostly by Gates Foundation and Broad Foundation (and let's not forget the Walton Foundation), has a "report" coming out today on teacher education programs.  Naturally, they find most of them wanting.  Like by 90%. 

Most of the institutions they write about would not talk with them because of NCTQ's lack of credibility. So most of the report is what they found on the Internet.  Guess who was the highest for alternative teaching programs? Teach for America (and they, too, are famous for not giving out real information).  

What's on your mind?

Monday, June 16, 2014

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 interview. The interviews will be conducted on May 31 with questions that incorporate information gleaned from the “important qualities in a principal” survey distributed to all parents last week. Based on these interviews, top candidate names will be forwarded to the Superintendent of SPS for consideration and selection. Ultimately, principal hiring is at the discretion of the Superintendent of SPS. Hopefully a new Principal will be named in by mid-June.

From SPS Communications about the math adoption:
A new math resource is on its way to K-5 classrooms this fall in Seattle Public Schools after the School Board approved Math in Focus, a teaching tool that uses graphic models to help students think mathematically.
Math in Focus for Grade 3
math in focus for Grade 3
The program is considered excellent for language learners but also for all students in the general population.

“I really would have benefited from this when I was a kid,” said Dan Golosman, the principal at McDonald International School, which has been using Math in Focus this year because it dovetails with the school’s language immersion program.

The Elementary Math Adoption Committee – a group of math teachers, parents and other volunteers who spent many hours this spring studying potential resources to replace the District’s current program, Everyday Math – recommended Math in Focus as one of the top three resources. The School Board selected Math in Focus during its June 4 meeting. 

Math in Focus, which uses the Singapore method of teaching math, takes an approach called “bar modeling” as the primary strategy to visually depict problems. Students learn early how to draw these models, and they continue to use them to show their thinking as problems become more complex. 

About Head Start and SPS, yes, there is an item on the agenda for the School Board meeting on Wednesday.   SPS is increasing the number of slots at Emerson for an overall total of 430 half-day slots.   I'll have to ask the Superintendent how he views Head Start versus what the City wants to do. 

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 pre-K for Seattle toddlers.

I will point out that no parent has to send their child to any pre-K program.

There are several compelling issues.

1) Like Common Core, the legislation being pushed by Councilman Tim Burgess seems on an incredibly fast track.  I find this troubling.

2) Are we talking pre-school or pre-K (which are not the same things).  Ask any expert on early childhood learning. Again, I find another link to Common Core because early childhood learning experts have raised real issues about the Common Core standards for K-2 being developmentally inappropriate.

3)  Forty (40!) public employees made trip to Boston to check out their work on universal pre-K centers.  As Dora asks, who paid for that and why so many people?

4) Red flag for me and Dora - DFER is involved with this issue and they link it to ...charter schools.  Ah, now the picture becomes clearer.  KIPP is starting their own chain called LEAP.

5)  It's worth pointing out the push coming from Councilman Tim Burgess.  Councilman Burgess refused - repeatedly - to ever state his views on charter schools during the 1240 campaign.

It's interesting because Burgess wrote an e-mail to Susan Enfield in Nov. 2011 (when she was superintendent) where he said he was deeply interested in the World School and vocational education.  There is no mention of pre-K.  I do keep up and I don't recall any Board member or Superintendent Banda mentioning this input/interest from the Councilman.  

5) Mayor Murray is to attend the Mayor's Conference in Austin with panels on education that include, Kevin Johnson (mayor of Sacramento, married to Michelle Rhee), Arne Duncan, Jackie Bezos (yes, married to Jeff and head of their foundation), Antonio Villaraigosa (former mayor of LA and linked to Eli Broad). 

Other concerns via Seattle Education blog:
  • The Seattle Public School district is listed as a crucial partner for this program but given no oversight.
  • There is an emphasis on assessments (testing).
  • There is wording that implies a waiver for teachers who aren’t fully certified. KIPP uses Teach for America, Inc recruits to staff their charter schools, is this what is meant in the Ordinance about non-certified “teachers”?  (To which I'll add, what is the normal requirement for being a teacher in a "quality" pre-K?)
  •  There are references to using Head Start funding as well. Will that divert federal funds from existing SPS pre-k s to this new project?
  • Data sharing mentioned.
From Politico:

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 leadership team change.  They want the district to undo these changes.  (The article notes that it was written by a parent at GH.)

It was 4 pm Friday — about an hour after school let out for the last weekend of the year — when Superintendent Jose Banda sent the Graham Hill Elementary School community a mass email announcing that principal Dr. Laurie Morrison is being transferred to South Shore PK-8 in Rainier Beach, replacing current South Shore principal Keisha Scarlett, who has been appointed Principal Leadership Coach for the district.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

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 district was talking about moving the World School (then known as SBOC) to TT Minor if Minor was closed?  But the district also said - given SBOC had been allotted $14M from BEX II - that SBOC wouldn't need $14M to move to Minor.  (And in the agenda for the Board meeting this week, we see the district borrowing money from different places to get that $14M.)  

- Did you know that if there are excess funds left from the end of a BEX or BTA, the Board controls where they go.  And, that means they don't have to do just to capital or BEX.  The Board could move them back to the General Fund.  Hey, there's some money to pay for the math adoption.   (This from the district's minutes of the BEX Oversight Ctm meeting in Dec. 2009.)  Wonder if the Board realizes this. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

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 (www.seattleschools.org/enrollment or call 252-0760). You can still apply for a school or program assignment until September 30.

 - Responses to email are much faster than responses to phone messages. 

BUT, to note also at the SPS website:

The Enrollment Service center will be closed to the public from July 14 through Aug. 1, 2014, in order for the Department of Technology Services to make the necessary new school year transition updates. During this time, the Enrollment front counter will be closed, as well as the Enrollment service mailbox, the Customer service mailbox, faxes, and our Enrollment phone lines. Student and families will not be able to access or submit online choice or admission forms during this time. The Customer Service phone lines and Receptionist desk will remain open to the public to serve those who need to contact other internal personnel or departments. Enrollment will re-open its doors again on August 4 at 8:30 a.m. for start of school late enrollment. 

Charlie and I have heard from several parents around the district about how - without discussion or notification - it appears that the humanities at APP middle school seem to be changing.

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 seem the others are doable. 

I am no lawyer so I have no idea if this is all realistic.  However, some of it must be true because if any entity holds the Court in contempt, there must be redress of some sort (otherwise, where's their power?)

There goes the summer for our legislators.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

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 websitefor updated information.

Please direct any questions or comments about the budget to budget@seattleschools.org 

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 acquiring that building.  

- Was on the agenda but struck out and tabled - "Property swap at Garfield and South Shore (Rainier Beach Community Center)" with Ron English's name attached.  To the best of my knowledge, the district owns the land at Garfield and South Shore but, of course, RBCC is owned by the City.  I have a query in to Mr. English about this one. 

- Also tabled is revision of a number of Board policies on Fundraising.

Also in the Hmmm category - if you have a child at an elementary school, do they offer headphones for K-1 when those students take the MAP?  Because I recently learned that some schools offer headphones to those students - most of whom don't read - and some PTAs pick up the tab for some schools and the district buys for others.  Was this an unforeseen cost and what does it mean for the scores if some students don't have this aid?

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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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 Island School District
4. Eastlake High School - Lake Washington School District
5. Inglemoor High School - Northshore School District
6. Issaquah High School - Issaquah School District
7. Bellevue High School - Bellevue School District
8. Garfield High School - Seattle School District

9. Roosevelt High School - Seattle School District (tied with Bainbridge High School - Bainbridge School District) 

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 Spokane, there was an editorial in the Spokesman-Review about how our lawmakers should be be helping charters. It's pretty funny.

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 rejection of the recommendation.

Now, I am the very first to discourage conjecture about the motivations of others. I frequently and loudly advise against it. I strive to avoid it myself. But in this case I cannot. I need someone - anyone - who claims to be upset with the choice because it was not the committee's recommendation (not because they prefer enVision over Math in Focus or because they prefer the staff over the Board or because they prefer the Carr, Martin-Morris, Blanford faction over the Peters, Peaslee, Patu, McLaren faction) to prove to me that they were as strident when other committee recommendations were not implemented. Otherwise, I cannot accept the claim in this case. I must conclude that the real source of the upset is something else.

Where were you when the recommendations from a long line of Disproportionality Task Forces were neglected? Where were you when the District walked away from the CACIEE recommendations? Where were you when the District chose to ignore the recommendations from nearly every single advisory committee they have ever assembled? Moss-Adams, Highly Capable Review, School Family Partnership, etc., etc. etc.

I can tell you where I was. My outrage at their failure to adopt those recommendations are archived here on this blog. Here's a good one about the CACIEE recommendations.

So here's the really funny thing. From Melissa's reporting on the C & I Committee meeting I learned that Director Blanford claimed to be upset over the failure to follow the committee's recommendation. I wrote him an email in which I told him that I shared that outrage and encouraged him to follow up on all of the other advisory committee recommendations that have not been implemented, starting with the various "Close the Gap" advisory committees and task forces. From his response - yes, he responded - it appears that he thought my message was written with a sarcastic tone, but I meant it sincerely. Funny, huh? I'm the one who really is sincerely upset about the District's habit of ignoring recommendations from committees, but it is my sincerity that is not believed by people who are using that as a false flag.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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 from the Gates Foundation is laughable in how long overdue it is.  They are feeling the heat from the debate sweeping the nation.

End of update.

Required reading in the Washington Post by Lyndsey Layton called, "How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution."  

Common Core would NEVER be where it is today if not for Bill Gates. 

The result was astounding: Within just two years of the 2008 Seattle meeting, 45 states and the District of Columbia had fully adopted the Common Core State Standards.

And yet, because of the way education policy is generally decided, the Common Core was instituted in many states without a single vote taken by an elected lawmaker. Kentucky even adopted the standards before the final draft had been made public.

Whenever you hear about "powerful" teachers unions, please understand - that power and money from millions of hard-working teachers is dwarfed by the millions spent by Gates, Waltons and the Koch brothers.

Bill Gates was de facto organizer, providing the money and structure for states to work together on common standards in a way that avoided the usual collision between states’ rights and national interests that had undercut every previous effort, dating from the Eisenhower administration.

What did Gates have to say?

Gates grew irritated in the interview when the political backlash against the standards was mentioned.

“These are not political things,” he said. “These are where people are trying to apply expertise to say, ‘Is this a way of making education better?’ ”

Really?  If it's not political, why go through the Governors Association to get this done?   I think Mr. Gates believes all the adults in the U.S. are naive children who can't possibly look behind the curtain.

Gates is disdainful of the rhetoric from opponents. He sees himself as a technocrat trying to foster solutions to a profound social problem — gaping inequalities in U.S. public education — by investing in promising new ideas.

Gates has said that one of the benefits of common standards would be to open the classroom to digital learning, making it easier for software developers — including Microsoft — to develop new products for the country’s 15,000 school districts.

In February, Microsoft announced that it was joining Pearson, the world’s largest educational publisher, to load Pearson’s Common Core classroom materials on Microsoft’s tablet, the Surface.  

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 where gun laws have been enacted and have virtually no mass murders.
BUT, parents YOU do have control over your guns.  And whether it's a 2-year old or a 16-year old in your house, YOU have a responsibility to secure your guns.

Math Adoption Redux


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.

-  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.  These are very pointed questions for laypeople to answer.  I suspect that many parents don't even know what some of the language truly means (again, if you are a layparent who doesn't track ed lingo).

This rushing around to try to get BLTs/parent feedback by 9am this morning would be funny if not so sad.  Clearly someone was trying a Hail Mary. 

-  On May 1, Michael Tolley sent out a memo to all elementary/middle school principals (cc'd to the Board and senior staff) about MAC's decision to recommend enVision.  Two items leap out at me. 

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 to this school.  To note:

Another example is that the Seattle Times published a list of all the middle and high school discipline disproportionality rates a few months ago. Only one school did not have a disproportional discipline rate—Nova—yet no one from SPS has asked why our focus on redemptive and restorative justice/discipline works and what it takes to make it work.

What's on your mind?

Monday, June 09, 2014

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, not later as I has reported.

 Letter from Banda (bold mine).  It looks like cooler heads have prevailed...for now.

Dear Principals,

Over the last few weeks there has been extensive focus on the K-5 math elementary adoption. When we started this process, it was our goal to create alignment for our math program, ensuring consistent and equitable materials, which is in the best interest of our students.

We believe any of the top three materials considered by the Materials Adoption Committee would have provided staff with a strong resource to support instruction. The selection of Math in Focus provides an opportunity to ensure an aligned approach to mathematics across the district through our established feeder patterns in regions. The implementation of a single program also ensures equitable access to students throughout the city of Seattle.

I know many of us are frustrated about the process. I want to thank you for your patience and support during the past week. Given the short timeframe and the need for consistency in our District, I must ask you to support the adopted Math in Focus program for the fall. We will provide the funding to fully implement the program and also ensure aligned professional development.

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. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

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 largest numbers of their children are students.

Special Education (R)
Michael Tolley said that this is a high priority for staff in his department.

Advanced Learning (R)
It was reported that the work is wrapping up and that the two taskforces are joining together to present a joint report of recommendations to the Board.  He said that should be delivered to the Board by fall.  (I note that this allows yet ANOTHER year to go by before anything is changed.  On the other hand, it may give the Board time to write an actual policy before they do anything.)

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. 

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 principal.

I'll put updates as I get information.

Also, those of you who are at schools that have been piloting enVision, could you please identify those schools and tell us if your child was part of the piloting?

Thanks to all.

From Mirmac1, all the e-mails of principals of K-5, K-8s; check  for your principal's name.  Be SURE to cc the Board on your e-mail, schoolboard@seattleschools.org

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 count - this doesn't always happen) and the 2014-2015 Board meeting calendar with Work Sessions and work plan for the Board.

Executive Session on Labor Negotiations from 4-4:30 pm

Executive Session for Superintendent Evaluation from 4:30-5:30 pm.
I would urge you to write to the Board - schoolboard@seattleschools.org - and express how you view the Superintendent's performance. 

Thursday, June 12th
Audit and Finance Committee Meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda not available.

The district starts today one of the happiest times in our district - school graduations.  This evening sees the students of Middle College, Nova and Ingraham high schools graduate. 

Congrats to all the graduates and their families.  (This would include Director Carr who mentioned this at the Board meeting and said having her community meeting the morning after her daughter's graduation might see her still teary.)

Friday, June 13th
BEX Oversight Committee Meeting from 8:30-10:30 am

High School Graduations - Franklin, Nathan Hale and Ballard.

Saturday, June 14th
Director Community Meetings

Carr - 8:30-10 am - Bethany Community Church
Blanford - 10 am-noon - Douglass-Truth Library
Martin-Morris - 11am-1 pm - Montlake Library

High School Graduations - West Seattle and Chief Sealth