Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

 (Not about education but I wanted to get this out there as so many of us have loved ones with cancer.  A high school friend of mine does cancer research at Tulane University and they just found out that even low levels of light while sleeping may inhibit breast cancer drugs from working.  He also let me know this:

"The Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium has special sleep masks that we will mail to you for a modest donation of $25 that will help support our development of this work and a clinical trial.")

Are you raising "nice" kids?  I like to think I did.  

“Children are not born simply good or bad and we should never give up on them. They need adults who will help them become caring, respectful, and responsible for their communities at every stage of their childhood,” the researchers write.

Last, I hope you can share this with your children (from Rebelle Society - "creatively maladjusted") = Creative Manifesto.  It's a list of thoughts about how you live your life fully and creatively.  My favorite one:

Hey Frodo, it’s a lonely battle, and we need help taking the ring to Mordor. In this lifehouse, we collaborate, we share and e-hug daily. We can’t do this (or anything) alone. We need each other badly.

The only possible form of existence is co-existence. Beyond our own, unscripted individual stories, we’re part of a bigger, universal story to which we add every day with our thoughts and actions. We are responsible for the course of events and desperate status of our world.

When it comes to technology and communication, we’re at a place of synergy and synchronicity like never before. It is imperative that we make a mindful, heartfelt use of it.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I would rather see smaller class sizes, counselors, school nurses and fresh foods made in the local kitchens before taking on more in our public schools.



Anonymous said...

Woah. Just found out today that the SOURCE has been down for nearly a month. AND, is supposed to be down until school starts!

What kind of incredibly lame IT department does SPS have? Who takes their information site for families down for months on end - just to do a software upgrade???! Isn't there a shred of talent there?

Wow. Just wow. I guess it's just another branch of incompetence at the central office.

Tried It

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tried It, I'm looking into this.

Anonymous said...

Tried it:
I don't want to protect the IT Department but they warned the parents well before school ended.
My feeling is that it has more to do changing the program itself, not just upgrading it. Still, anyone should have an access to the info if they need it.

Anonymous said...

Imagine Cup Day at MOHAI 2014
On Saturday, August 2, MOHAI and Microsoft will host Imagine Cup Day when the museum will open its doors to the public for free and the Imagine Cup world finalists will showcase their projects as part of a special one-day only event. Residents of Seattle are invited to meet our students and see their projects in action.

At the MOHAI Imagine Cup showcase, visitors will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite Imagine Cup project, and the team with the winning project will receive the Avanade People’s Choice Award: a $2,000 prize!

More info: https://www.imaginecup.com/Content/Details/16370#?fbid=pO8KASv_--t


Anonymous said...

Some families, like ours, leave town immediately when school lets out. It's good to see official grades and state EOC/HSPE and/or MAP results on the SOURCE. I use that as an official communication tool. Yes. I vaguely recall something about the SOURCE going down. Still lame. Really? Months on end? And it has to be down? These aren't real professionals working in IT at SPS. No urgency what so ever. They supposedly upgraded to PowerSchool last year. All sorts of things were late in getting started last year because of the change to PowerSchool. How many years of no-service can IT upgrade/transitions be blamed for basic lack of service?

Tried It.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Blanchet High School

Has an incredible IPAD program that is transforming the experience for different types of learners, especially visual and auditory learners. Dyslexic students will have the tools to engage in the full high school academic experience.

Shame on you SPS!


Anonymous said...

I just learned today that the ballot language for the preschool initiative (s) have been submitted to the County (7-25-2014), AND that the language is being contested. (From my understanding, process allows for anyone to contest the ballot language within 10 days of submission, but only one appeal is considered and whatever the judge rules if final.)

It is buried on the City clerk's website and in a PDF on the last page, and I'm honestly too lazy to re-type and it won't let me cut and paste, so here is the link:


It is on the last two pages of the scanned PDF.

It is rather confusing, I must say. There is 1A (the citizen initiative 107) and 1B (the City plan) and voters are being asked:

"Should either of these be enacted into law? Yes/NO"

"Regardless of if you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be? 1A or 1B"

Huh? If you vote no on the first question, we are still being asked to vote on 1A or 1B? Why not both or none?

I can't figure out WHO is contesting the ballot language, but I'm guessing it is someone who campaigned for 107.

This publicola article from a few weeks ago is further informative:



Anonymous said...

"Mom, can I have dessert?


"okay, but if I was going to have dessert, could it be chocolate cake or vanilla ice cream; (by the way mom, I'd really like the cake, but my roommate prefers ice cream)?"

That is stupid. Glad it is being contested. Hope the prevail and this gets fixed.

Vote NO on both

Catherine said...

Tried It & Melissa... isn't this that "upgrade" that they were supposed to do over a long weekend in May... you know, right before the end of school?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Catherine, I was aware that the district's network for parents (including the Source) would be down for a period of the summer but I do not recall it being the entire summer.

Still working on an answer to that.

Anonymous said...

I am not an IT person, however I can say that IT department inherited a mess when the District higher ups-not the working IT people-made the decision the switch to PS, a product bought by Pearson's.
IT is doing adaptive bandaid work--I have heard that Pearson's customer service is not very helpful.

FYI The IT department is also one of the departments that has been cut over the years, especially under Goodloe-Johnson. It has not been built up (Some of the people who actually *chose* to leave under MGJ were people who loved their jobs and wanted to be of service so much that you could contact them at almost any time....).

Charlie Mas' posting concerning PowerSchool from Sept 2013 also provides us with a bit of context behind the scenes concerning the change: See http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2013/09/powerschool-roll-out.html

Remember all that data that had to be put in by hand last summer when eSIS was shut down?
Registrars put in 40 - 100 hours of overtime back in the fall in order for schools to work. Counselors put in a lot of time. Things still are not finished.

Having done a quick search regarding problems with PS across districts, I posted on May 25, 2014 that no school district has made a smooth transition to PS, that there are so many small and large bugs to be ironed out.
Is there an incentive for districts to join forces?

I just noticed some of the comments I made in response to the discussion back in 2012 and forgot (on 10/27/12) about concerning the then - proposed switch to PS! What I said has turned out to be true.
See http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2012/10/our-schools-coalition-wants-your-input.html

I would have preferred to been wrong.

Overall though, my two cents: I wish the District had connected with parents and community members with sharp minds from the tech arena to build a system that *works* for SPS instead of relying on something the multinational Pearson company took over, instead of having us *adapt* to it. It could have been done here.

Sorry, I forget how to embed links!


Anonymous said...

Isn't the source always down for (at least) the last month before school starts? I guess for technical upgrades but I thought it was b/c schedules + teacher assignments are being refined and input over the summer and many schools release teacher assignment (elementary) and schedules (ms and hs)very close to the beginning of school (like the day before or day of).

This isn't the first year the Source has been down for upgrades and/or to control premature release of schedule info over the summer. Frustrating maybe but not a new thing I don't think.

That said, there should be a way to view your student's grades and test scores while still locking down next year's schedule info...


Watching said...


Thank you for the preschool links. I will look at them tomorrow.

Here is my understanding: The city is asking voters to pay additional taxes for their plan 1B. Initiative 107 is a citizen initiative that would provide training and increase pay for all preschool workers to $15.

I believe there may have been issues with the city and 107.

It is rather confusing, I must say. There is 1A (the citizen initiative 107) and 1B (the City plan) and voters are being asked:

The city was very upset that citizens were able to get an initiative on the ballot. The city wants voters to approve their plan.

I'm feeling concerned about the below language. I recommend that you contact the 107 campaign.

"Regardless of if you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be? 1A or 1B"

I will be voting NO on the city's plan. There are many levels of additional bureaucracy, preschool teachers are expected to receive same level of pay as K-12 and I don't believe this initiative will be able to cover the costs. Additionally, SPS does not have room at the inn. I remain concerned about the "Oversight Committee" which will consist of 4mayoral APPOINTMENTS and folks on family and ed. levy committee. As is, SPS's only representatives would be a board member and super. The city wants the district to implement, but would not have oversight.

I'm voting NO

Watching said...

It is interesting to note that the city's preschool plan is a major initiative for the city and will be an enormous campaign. Ed. Murray has met with Arne Duncan and Mayors across the US on this initiative.

However, the campaign does not have any funds, and has spent $36K. I am wondering why we haven't seen an infusion of funding into this campaign. I'm wondering: Who are the funders.

It is also worth noting that charter schools have gotten into the pre k for all scene. Burgess has been trying to get control of our schools- for years. He supported an initiative that would have allowed SEA and SPS to manage school budgets of $5M without board oversight. Citizens took this to court and won. I hope Burgess, Murray et. al don't have plans for utilizing preschool to get charter schools into SPS.

Watching said...

'"Regardless of if you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be? 1A or 1B"

I'm wondering if we are seeing a slimy maneuver.

The backers of Prop 1 wanted voters to believe that Prop 1 was intended to repace a levy and this isn't the case. Prop 1 creates a new taxing authority at the city level which would allow the city to increase park funding $.75 per $1000 assessed value of your home.

Again, I recommend contacting the 107 campaign. They seem like decent people. I'm not so sure about the city....

I hope you report back. Thanks.

Watching said...


Initiative 107 does not provide a revenue source. Funding is expected to come from the city's general fund, I believe.

Joe Wolf said...

Rep-post from the Downtown School thread

Joe Wolf said...
Re: High school capacity

I think I have posted the following before, but it's been awhile. Any FACMAC members reading this can tell you these ideas have reached that level of community conversation, at least. Please note that none of them have been formally discussed with the Ops Committee or full Board to date.

Present projections indicate SPS will need a minimum of 1,000 additional HS seats after the re-opening of Lincoln. Two potential options to address this need:

Option 1:

Modernize and add seats to the currently-vacant Magnolia campus. Move Blaine K-8 to this campus. Retrofit the Blaine campus as a ~1,000-1,100-seat high school to serve Magnolia/QA/perhaps part of Downtown.

Option 2:

Add seats/capacity and core facilities - about 600 seats each - to Ingraham and Rainier Beach. (They are the only two extant HS campuses where any significant expansion is possible.) This would make both schools about the same size Roosevelt is now.

As these campuses are at the far north and south ends of the district. it might make more sense to use IBX/IB/other programs to draw students from other high schools, rather than boundary adjustments.

I suspect there is interest at looking at our Seattle Center property too. But I wanted to let the readership here know that there are do-able solutions.

Some thoughts on high school size:

Recall what Kellie said the other day about the challenges of setting up a high school: Master schedules, class offerings etc. A high school of 500 students - what some readers here have proposed for the Federal Reserve building -would have significant challenges offering, say the Ballard or Roosevelt class catalog without augmentation of the standard staffing formula. The current Board wants to stay with comprehensive, 1,000-1,700-seat high schools for that and other reasons.

Conversely, there is also no appetite for a 2,500-seat high school, which would have:

- Been the biggest high school in the U.S. north of San Francisco and west of (suburban) Minneapolis;

- Been 47% larger than Roosevelt, our current largest high school;

- Required a building of 425,000 s.f. More than twice the square footage of the Wilson-Pacific elementary and middle school buildings combined. Plus high school-appropriate fields and parking.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the two part question for the pre-K, should we just leave the second question blank if we vote no for the initiative? Wondering what the ramification would be.


Anonymous said...

Thanks again Joe. I'm excited to learn that there are solutions being considered, but wondering as well what the process is for getting these ideas closer to reality, and for engaging the community and finding the funding.

The presentation on Monday for the downtown building showed that even if the renovations could start next year it wouldn't open until 2017.

Basically, as you already know, it take a few years from the formation of the idea of capacity to when that capacity is actually in place. We are looking at being at a minimum 1000 seats short for high school in 3 short years, if not sooner.

Don't we need to start moving rather quickly toward getting more specific on exactly where we need space, and what solutions might exist to build them out in time to meet the need?

We know that Bex 4 is not enough, and currently the district isn't planning more than what is in Bex 4, but the ice berg is still in front of us.

Are planning meetings happening now to develop the list of how many buildings are needed and where?


Joe Wolf said...


Well, the two scenarios I laid out above are, by implication two answers to the "seats/areas" question you pose. And they are not mutually exclusive; both could be executed if the need for additional capacity turns out to be greater than currently projected.

It's important to remember that there will most likely be no perfect answer(s). There are constraints - political, financial, even "community cultural" - that might not be fun to think about but which are very real, and need to be taken seriously if one wants to move beyond the debate phase and actually get something built and opened.

This is, IMHO the big difference between the public and private sector for this type of work.

Riffing on the above: There are not endless numbers of do-able scenarios. There are the two I outlined, ans "x" that involve some use or leverage of our Seattle Center property. That's about it in my judgment.

Leadership (Richard, Flip) is your resource for details on public engagement.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,

thanks. Yes it's complicated, and there are and will be many various stakeholders and constraints to consider and certainly many significant challenges to overcome to get from where we are (We KNOW we have a capacity crisis now and even more scary looming in front of us) to where we need to be (We have figured out some solutions to the problem and have plans in motion to address them effectively).

And thanks so much for posting publicly here, because THIS is community engagement. You are sharing information and thoughts, and engaging with the community and while not the same thing as a public meeting, this is community engagement in the modern age.

Blogs, social media, websites...

Speaking of websites...

The SPS website has the latest facilities master plan posted as the one drafted in 2012 before BEX 4. It is here:


It is so outdated even though it is only a few years old because things have changed so rapidly. Who knew that the new student assignment plan + intense increased development in various neighborhoods would impact enrollment and capacity so much?

I think this needs to be updated, and the process for updating it will require focus and thought on where the gaps are and how they will be managed.

AND here is the biggest deal in my mind: We still don't have an official and complete LIST of capacity needs defined. We know that there are at least 1000 seats short for high school in 2018.

But what else? In specific, really, what else and when and where?

If there is a report, or a list or any sort of actual declaration of how much space we are short, that would be really great to have compiled and identified.

Just talking in isolation about downtown or HS in the north will generate exactly what you all don't want to generate: "community cultural" strife. When schools are pit against each other fighting for space, and boundaries need to be re-drawn and kids are uprooted from their schools and friends, things get stressed.

If we start now with the district figuring out how much space we need in which areas of town so that we can start having meaningful discussions about solutions, things might not get quite as contentious.

We really first need to daylight the need. We need THE LIST.

Thanks so much for all you do.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The facilities master plan? A joke and always has been.

I say this as someone who was asked to be on a committee to "review" it which, as I found out, was to read it and rubberstamp it. When I realized that no one was going to take any suggestions I had (not even proofreading ones), I left the committee.

The FMP has been out-of-date for as long as I can remember. It is useful, though, if you want to see the language around counting space in a building versus what is said at the district's website.

Anonymous said...

Joe, as the parent of a kid who will enter high school in 3 years, I appreciate your engagement here on the high school issue but am concerned by a couple of things you just wrote.

On the two scenarios you laid out, you said "both could be executed if the need for additional capacity turns out to be greater than currently projected."

So where is SPS on accurately determining the level of need? Is there an updated projection of how many spots we'll be short come 2017? If not, when will be that be available? We obviously can't wait until open enrollment of that year to figure this out, so what's the timeline on getting the projections right with sufficient time to then plan and implement a solution?

You also said referred to "constraints - political, financial, even 'community cultural' - that might not be fun to think about but which are very real, and need to be taken seriously if one wants to move beyond the debate phase and actually get something built and opened."

I understand there are a lot of considerations, but don't we NEED to move beyond the debate phase? It doesn't seem to be a matter of just "wanting" additional HS capacity. If we need it, we need it! And who is not taking these political, financial and community constraints seriously? Is SPS engaged in publicly addressing these, so that we can quickly move to the next phase? I haven't heard much on this yet from SPS, aside from your contributions here. Is there some planning work underway, and if so, how can the community learn more about it?


mirmac1 said...

A possible solution in WS is relocate K-5 STEM at Boren to EC Hughes, move Denny to Boren and expand Sealth. People will scream but high school students must have HS space. Elementaries can occupy buildings like EC Hughes.