Showing posts from August, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Boy do I like public disclosure laws because that story out of LA about the iPad debacle only gets better/worse.  I'll have another thread on that soon. Kids and Uzis - I'm not sure there is anything that could better demonstrate a lack of common sense.   Very funny story from the Scary Mommy blog about going back to school in the 1970s (some of us were doing that) and going back today. In a big "what were you thinking," the clothing store, Zara, had to withdraw this offensive t-shirt for kids.   Hey, maybe it's still useful to take with a pencil or pen.  (Even the Cleveland Browns coach thinks so.)  From the Washington Post. There's a new high school space in town - Seattle Waldorf just opened its new high school building at Magnuson Park.  Interestingly they absorbed another Waldorf high school in 2007 called Hazel Wolf High School Oklahoma got denied its NCLB waiver so Washington State is not the only outcast. According to the

No Internet for Your Kid

I regularly check the district's website for updates.  Here's the latest one (bold mine): All Seattle Public School students in grades K–12 will be able to access their personal email accounts from District computers beginning this fall. This change comes at the request of District principals with approval of senior leadership. SPS is not providing email accounts to students, nor is SPS recommending that students get personal email accounts if they do not already have them. SPS is instead allowing students to access their personal email accounts from District computers for academic and learning purposes only. Access to personal email from District computers will not reduce or eliminate other filtering of Internet content and does not conflict with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). However, access is governed by all applicable SPS policies and agreements including: •  Student Network Agreement •  Students Rights & Responsibilities •  Policy 2202 &am

Look What's Arriving at Seattle Schools


Guest Post on Garfield Field Trip Rape

Please support a much more critical demonstration next Wed, Sept 3rd , at the Seattle School Board meeting.   The District is making decisions about its next step regarding the Garfield HS rape victim. We know the District’s response was outrageous, but the general public must also become educated. The self-serving Seattle Times reporting did nothing to inform the public of the facts. We know the District still pretends that no assault occurred (despite the assailant's testimony to raping/sodomizing and medical information); the District takes no responsibility for its deplorable chaperoning, nothing is wrong. The victim wasn’t even the recipient of sexual harassment, they determined.   Yeah right.   A successful student’s life was ruined on a school field trip where chaperones and staff failed to supervise. It was entirely and easily preventable.

School District in Florida Votes to Opt-Out of Common Core Testing

 Update: will you look at that?  Another Florida district is considering this idea (Palm Beach County School Board).  “They say testing has gotten out of control and creates too much pressure for students and teachers. After discussing the opt-out idea at a recent meeting, board members asked their lawyers for further study. They will discuss it again at a workshop in the next few weeks. “Sometimes it takes an act of civil disobedience to move forward,” School Board member Karen Brill said. “We must explore the consequences, but we cannot allow fear to hold us back.” In what can only be called unbelievable courage, a school district in Florida, Lee County, has voted to opt the entire district out of Common Core testing. The school board vote was 3-2 with the superintendent warning, "This will hurt children." From News-Press: Throughout the tense three-hour meeting, more than 33 people came forward to share their thoughts on the matter. Emotions came to a

OSPI Releases State Test Results

Someone at OSPI has a sense of humor.  Their press release is called, "State Test Scores in a Waiverless World."  Seattle's Test scores   I have to say that those 10th grade scores are looking pretty good for reading and writing: Reading: 81.2%, Writing 84.5% Math and Science EOC - looks they are holding steady at about 61-64%, not great. From the press release:

I Have a New Twitter Follower

Welcome, Mr. Gates (no, I don't believe he reads anything I write but it brought a smile to my face). Bill Gates @billgates_s Inspirational quotes from Bill Gates Following: 1409 · Followers: 1115 Follow

Finding Common Ground

I have been an education activist for a long time and I have never had any delusions about my effectiveness. After all, the district officials have all of the power and all of the authority, so they don't have to do anything they don't want to do and they are free to do whatever they like. We have seen that there is almost no accountability or consequences for them, so they really aren't answerable to anyone. They have carte blanche. You have to presume that they are already doing things the way that they want to do them, so there can't be much expectation that community activism is going to have much of an impact. For all of my time as an activist I have been getting advice about how to be more effective. - usually from people whose behavior I'm trying to change. They will say things like "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." They have suggested that they would respond to me more if I didn't contact them so frequently. They say I should be

Issues with Test Scores for a Seattle School?

A letter sent out from Superintendent Nyland: Dear Seattle Public Schools community,  I’m writing today to let you know that on Wednesday we will receive our final state Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) test scores.  Earlier this month, while reviewing preliminary data, we discovered an anomaly with Beacon Hill’s test results. We requested that the scores at Beacon Hill International School be reviewed by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). We hope to receive the results of that review in the next several weeks.  Seattle Public Schools is conducting its own review of the situation, and is in the final stages of a review of our policies, procedures and practices related to testing.  We will keep you informed as more information becomes available. Thank you for your patience as we review this matter.  Sincerely, Dr. Larry Nyland Superintendent Seattle Public Schools I do not see this letter at the SPS website but a paren

Seattle Schools' Equity and Race Advisory Committee

The district is looking for new members via nominations . This committee is a commitment to transforming our current practices at a systemic level to eliminate disproportionality in education and in all aspects of its administration. These efforts require a long-term commitment from our advisors that includes both making recommendations and staying engaged as our work progresses over time. The Superintendent will appoint members to this committee. Nominations will be sought until Monday, September 15, 2014 . Download the complete information about this committee and its charge. Download the nomination form Term of Committee and Length of Term The Advisory Committee is a standing committee. The initial term of membership is September 2014—September 2015 . It is expected that one-year to two-year terms will apply. Process for Soliciting Nominations and Appointing Committee Members Nominations for the committee will be sought via public notices and program contacts. C

Tuesday Open Thread

 In the "grrrr" edition of Open Thread: In Jurupa Valley (a small city near Irvine, California), s chool officials apologized to parents of high school Sped students because, as part of a "functional skills program," the schools had them dig through trash for items that could be recycled for money.  The Superintendent carefully phrased his apology: “I personally apologize to any students who may have been humiliated,” but also said: Duchon said Tuesday that “this is standard curriculum” for the program’s students, who routinely collected recyclables such as cans and bottles. “Up to last week, there has not been one complaint,” he said. Gee, I wonder why students didn't feel they could stand up to their teachers over this nonsense. (It was discovered after complaints appeared on Facebook.) Their Sped ex director said it was a common project to teach life skills. Next, remember that HUGE planned iPad buy for Los Angeles Unified School District

Later school start times for teens - Doctor's orders

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement calling on school districts to move start times to 8:30 am or later for middle and high schools, so that students can get at least 8 1/2 hours of sleep a night. Full story here .

If You Want to Transfer Your Child under NCLB, Get that Request In

I was reading the Spokane newspaper and it was stated that for Spokane's school district, the deadline to request a transfer to a new school under NCLB is August 26th.  So I wrote to SPS to ask what their deadline is.  Here's the answer I received: Parents have to request a transfer by the first day of school by 4 pm. They will then be sent an application with their PSC options. That PSC is " Public School Options " and here is the form you must submit to ask for it.  Understand, this form I'm linking is a request for the PSC form, NOT the actual form.  Note - only via mail or fax (which seems not-so-helpful); I would suppose you could also submit it in person. Transportation would be provided but: - your new school may not have services your old school did and the district does not have to provide them - transportation would end if that new school did not meet AYP (annual yearly progress) under NCLB For more information about Public School Choic

Wondering about how to Get Your Kid Ready for College?

Here's a great website from the DOE, chock-full of good advice and information. Whether you’re a student or parent, years away from college or just about to start, the following checklists will help you get ready. Elementary School Checklist : Student and parent checklists that start the student on the road to enjoying learning and point the parent to resources for college savings accounts. Middle School Checklist : Student and parent checklists that get the student thinking about high school and possible careers and encourage the parent to keep an eye on the student’s progress. High School Checklist: Student and parent checklists that help the student focus on succeeding academically and learning about financial aid and provide the parent with tips for supporting the student and participating in the financial aid application process. 9th Grade Checklist 10th Grade Checklist 11th Grade Checklist 12th Grade Checklist

Seattle Schools This Week

Update: I had forgotten that tomorrow is the date that WA State Supreme Court answers the Legislature on the McCleary decision.  That should be illuminating. end of update. Seemingly, the quiet before the storm that is the reopening of school next week. The only item on the district calendar is one I erred about in the Friday Open Thread.   Director Patu's Saturday Community meeting is this Saturday, the 30th from 10 am to noon at Cafe Vita. There is also, on Saturday, September 6th, the first Community meeting with President Peaslee in a very long time.  (She has previously apologized, saying her duties as president left her no time to have community meetings.) It is at the NE Library and it is one hour long from 3:30-4:30 pm.  I would imagine you might want to get there early to get a seat. I've received a report that Arbor Heights and STEM K-5 have been able to equitably share space in the Boren building.  It's great when school leaders can work together for ev

Seattle Preschool - Time to Start Thinking about Your Vote

 Update:  Here's an event to talk about this issue from the League of Women Voters/King County : Help lay a foundation of understanding for the continuing public discourse on early learning and the role of public policy. Participate in the LWVS-KC conversation on September 4 with panelists representing the Puget Sound Educational Service District, University of Washington, and Thrive by Five. Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? Event Date & Time: Thu, Sep 4 - 7:00 PM Seattle First Baptist Church 1111 Harvard Ave, Seattle end of update We're seeing a ramping up of the start of campaigns for both preschool measures.  Sort of.

Garfield Field Trip Rape Case

I need a little help (although I know this info is out there somewhere, I'm trying to find it quickly). Aviva (Garfield parent), you had said you might be able to fill in some info for me.  Something new has come to light and I'm hoping you might be able to tell me about it.

Fix the omission

Something's missing and we all know what it is. It's the unfulfilled commitment I have been requesting for over ten years. It's the hole at the heart of the district's dysfunction. It is the emptiness at the root of the complaints and protests about the Garfield rape case. It is what was absent from Director Peaslee's understanding of the protests and it was omitted from Dr. Nyland's letter. The District staff does not comply with procedure, policy, regulation, or law and they do so without consequence. No matter if the violation is trivial or tragic, they are not only neglected, not only forgiven, but even defended. A sea of outrage rose up against Director Peaslee's tonedeaf remarks at the Board meeting. We were shocked by her misunderstanding of the protests. They were not calls to hold the boy accountable for his actions but a call to hold the district staff accountable for their actions (and inactions). How was it possible for Director Peaslee to

Seattle School Updates

I neglected to mention Director Patu has a Community Meeting from 10 am to noon today at Cafe Vita. I read thru the g eneral letter from SPS to families about NCLB.    As I previously noted, the Washington Policy Center is claiming 33 letters went out about different schools (I need to get confirmation from the district on this) but they also claim there isn't info on tutoring and/or changing schools. Under NCLB, students at "failing" schools are offered free tutoring and/or the ability to change to another non-failing school.  The district has always made this option available as their legal obligation. In addition to the notification, SPS Title I schools that did not meet AYP now must offer to move students to school that made AYP or is not in one of the Steps of Improvement required by the law. This is called Public School Choice. The law also includes free tutoring services in reading, language arts and/or math at schools that do not meet AYP.  This time,

Critical Incident Response Plan

I'm sorry to report that the Critical Incident Response Plan referenced in Dr. Nyland's letter to the community is total bunk. It is, at best, a PR plan. It is designed to respond to potential sources of bad press. It basically calls for district officials to gather information, comply with policies, procedures, regulations and laws, and to inform stakeholders. I can't believe that executives at that level of responsibility have to be specifically directed to do these things. Worse, I have no confidence that these written directions to do these things will result in the actual fulfillment of these duties. The only thing that the superintendent needs to do is require compliance with procedure, policy, regulation and law, and to hold staff accountable with meaningful consequences if they violate the rules. That would fix the problem.

Friday Open Thread

Feel like your child does not return your phone calls/texts in a timely manner?  One mom was frustrated with the low/no response of her own children and created, Ignore No More.   If your child doesn't answer, you have a code so that you can block incoming calls/texts and disable gaming on their cell phone.  That'll get their attention. Did you get a phone call from School Messenger with a message from Superintendent Nyland? I was hearing that this was going to happen but didn't know the content of the message (which I believe may be about NCLB.) What's on your mind?

Duncan Offers Olive Branch (to teachers), and Carrot (to states)

Secretary Arne Duncan issued a statement today as schools start up around the country.  Rather than saying how poorly our schools are doing, Duncan said this: First, the thanks. America’s students have posted some unprecedented achievements in the last year – the highest high school graduation rate in the nation’s history, and sharp cuts in dropout rates and increases in college enrollment, especially for groups that in the past have lagged significantly. For these achievements, we should celebrate America’s teachers, principals, and students and their families. These achievements are also indications of deeper, more successful relationships with our students. All of us who’ve worked with young people know how much they yearn for adults to care about them and know them as individuals. He even thanks teachers: I have heard from many teachers that they have not received all the support they’d want during this transition. Yet America’s teachers are making this change

My Plea to Superintendent Nyland

I spoke at last night's Board meeting.  My remarks were about the MOU with the Alliance for Education (more on that in another thread as the Board discussion with Charles Wright was telling) and to welcome Superintendent Nyland and ask for his help. My remarks to the Superintendent: I want to say welcome to Superintendent Nyland.  Please understand, you may truly be the guy in the white hat who just rode into our district. You can be a figurehead, a follower or the change agent that our district needs so badly. The change? Creating a headquarters that is well-run and, in turn, a district that is well-run.  Our district is not well-run. We need a central headquarters staff that follows policies and procedures and that any deviation from that will be handled appropriately.  That attitude needs to funnel down to the last staff member in every single school. Because the Title IX issues - and the case they stem from - are appalling.  Everyone wants to be one of the three mon

Downtown School for Seattle Schools - Some New Twists

(This is going to be an excerpt from the Audit&Finance Committee meeting held on Tuesday.  I note that this information is likely to be again discussed at today's Operations Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Also at the Operations Ctm meeting, there will be a bell times analysis update , a Facilities Condition Assessment and Study and Survey by the group, MENG , 2015-2016 proposed growth boundaries adjustments and Title IX update. I also know that many of you are waiting for updates on MAP and other testing and I promise to get that up in the next day or so. It's been a very busy week to cover.) There were two rather extraordinary presentations (and a couple of just plain "huh" ones that I will also get to later) at the Audit&Finance committee meeting on Tuesday.  One was about Title IX and sexual harassment which I just covered in the Garfield field trip rape update thread posted today. The other was the discussion lead by Flip Herndon, the head

Gaps in the Garfield Case

This is a lengthy post and has new information so I urge you to read to the end. Gaps abound in the Garfield case.  You can see this just from the Times' story this morning on last night's School Board election.  (And welcome Times to this story - very late to it, no?) Some have suggested that the Times article is slanted?  I would say it is underwritten and has several parts wrong.  I can say that just from a cursory reading of it.  (The Times is not allowing comments but I think that is their policy on rape cases as the comments can get very unpleasant.) Update 1: the girl did not go back to Garfield as a student.  From an e-mail from her parents: One point, she never returned to GHS. the chat you likely read referred to going to GHS after school to see friends. She then had a huge melt down concerning the retaliation.  The District granted her a school transfer with rape as the basis (we have that document), so they know she was raped.  T

Seattle Schools' Letter to Community on Garfield Rape

Update: in the Board Comments, each Board member addressed this issue (in his/her own way).  There was a range of verbiage used.  I was surprised at how they spoke out now, given their silence the entire summer (except for President Peaslee's letter months ago.) Director McLaren is the only Board member to say anything nearing this: " I regret whatever lapses occurred on part of district, both in communication and systemic organizational responsibility." She is also the ONLY person, to the best of my knowledge, who has acknowledged that mistakes were made and that she is sorry it happened. A couple of Directors support several speakers' call for a taskforce of BOTH community/experts and district staff.  I could support this taskforce only IF it was run by an outside entity. Director Martin-Morris acknowledged the issue but went on to say that Seattle could be a leader in this kind of advocacy of providing information to students on sexual harassment/assault.

Live Blogging From the Seattle School Board Meeting

I'm going to try some live blogging tonight as it is Superintendent Nyland's first meeting AND I believe that the district - via legal counsel - will have something to say about the Garfield field trip rape and Title IX issues. I attended the Audit & Finance Committee meeting yesterday and boy, what a meeting.  But that's another thread. I will note, however, that lead counsel, Ron English, gave out a "Legal Action Log on Title IX Issues."  It is lengthy and troubling.  The district is to create a "Crisis Response Team" for such incidents. Superintendent Nyland gave his first superintendent remarks.  He talked about the Garfield fieldtrip rape issue and read a letter from the district.  The letter will be available on the district website soon.  It was fairly vague and nothing new that we haven't heard after OTHER incidents.  There was a gap between the beginning of the meeting and Public Comment.  I asked if I could speak with the Superi

Common Core; Slip Slidin' Away

Poll results on public education including Common Core from two sources.

Power Was Out at District Headquarters

Just went to the SPS website and saw a notice "Power has been restored at the JSCEE.  Thank you for your patience." I don't know how long it was out but if you were trying to access the building and couldn't, that's the reason why.

Tuesday Open Thread

A wealthy person trying to buy a basketball team?  Well, that would be Steve Ballmer buying the LA Clippers but according to a very well-done story from the Seattle Times, he cut his teeth doing it at Lakeside. I note that some of the comments call out Bellevue School District for this kind of thing as well as Rainier Beach High School.  The activities at RBHS have been covered in the Times previously but I don't really know what the story is in Bellevue. But when parents want sports to become the focus at a school (and the school allows it), it benefits no one.  There is no "you're helping low-income/minority students" when they are allowed to play as they are not passing classes. From the John Rogers Elementary school community: "John Rogers will have  4  kindergarten classes this year!  With that many kindergarteners (85) the school is scrambling to move classrooms, offices and closets around.  Staff have asked if anyone is available to help ...

Highland Park Elementary Discussion

 Update:  there was this new comment at the West Seattle blog: As a HP resident and a parent who sends her kids elsewhere I’d just like to point out that the creation of neighborhood schools and the lack of available busing to get away from failing schools has only further segregated poorer kids and families. Segregation by income is just as wrong as segregation by race.. The district needs to change the policies that only exasperated the income inequality issues at HPE. If not, parents with the financial means to make other choices will just continue to do so. Actually, parents at failing schools always did have the ability (with busing) to get away.  Under NCLB, parents were supposed to be notified of this option (along with tutoring options).  I would be fairly sure the district did send those letters but many parents may not have realized what it meant. If your child was enrolled at a "failing" school, you could request being moved to another non-failing

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, August 19th Audit& Finance Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda Wonder if the Committee might consider where money was taken for the various staff members to go off on their preschool junket. Update: Wonder no more, there is nothing on the agenda about the preschool junket or replacing those funds from the various sources that were used to fund it. Lots of interesting items like: - redirection of selected lease and rental earnings to General Fund (because, really, why do buildings need maintenance?) - policy for unpaid holidays for reason of faith or conscience - restrictive covenant agreement terms review - downtown school financing options Wednesday, August 20th School Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm. I am aware that a rally over the Garfield field trip rape is to occur outside of headquarters right before the meeting at about 4 pm.  Supporters of the student and her parents are also likely to be at the meeting. Agenda Selected Action Ite

Local Ed News

The AP is reporting that the State Supreme Court will announced on Friday that it would consider if the charter law of Washington State violates our state's constitution. I would say that's a rather large piece of news as I have been repeatedly told that it was "highly unlikely" this would happen.  Oral arguments are scheduled for Oct. 28th.  I just might have to go and listen. A King County judge had earlier ruled that parts of the law were unconstitutional and both sides asked to skip the appeals and go straight to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court issue centers around our Constitution's wording about "common schools" and whether charters meet that specific definition (and therefore are entitled to be funded in that manner). NCLB letters are reaching mailboxes soon.  (SPS is holding back to see if their individual district waiver comes thru based on the district's belief that the CBA covers using test scores for teacher evaluation.)  Her

From Two Sides: Ed Reform versus the Most Famous Teacher in the U.S.

That teacher would be 5th grade teacher Rafe Esquith from Hobart Elementary School in Los Angeles.  He has taught for nearly 30 years and written several books.   But I'll let Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post's Answer Sheet tell you more: *When he goes to China he is so popular he needs security guards to protect him from the crush of the crowds. *He is the only K-12 teacher to be awarded the president’s National Medal of the Arts. *A documentary, “ The Atticus Finch of Hobart Elementary ,” was made about the famous Shakespeare program he has run for years at Hobart, where all of his students appear in at least one full-length production a year. The English actor Ian McKellen actually noticed some of Esquith’s young students mouthing the words to a Shakespearean play in which he was performing in Los Angeles. *He has been given the Kennedy Center’s Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award, Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life Award, and Disney’s National Outstanding

Friday/Saturday Open Thread

I've been out of town so a bit behind on this. I see that teacher John Greenberg has been reinstated at The Center School (this from a story in the PI ).  The story does NOT say what if he will be teaching his Citizenship and Social Justice class.  The petition for a new principal at Garfield (on the heels of the outrage over the investigation of a rape on a Garfield overnight field trip) has over 2,000 signatures.  I hope to talk to some alum next week about this move. Is ballet a sport? Under Armour thinks so with this great video of ABT's Misty Copeland and an apparent letter she received about becoming a ballet dancer.  It's good to defy the odds. What's on your mind?

Advanced Learning Task Forces' Recommendations

Advanced Learning Task Forces Report  &  Recommendations                    August 2014 The Advanced Learning Task Force s  met  for  more than 50 hours  during the 2013- 2014  school  year   to study identification and  service delivery model s for Highly C apable students.  They  found  that many aspects of our Highly Capable/ Accelerated Progress Program work well and do not require changes.  The task forces believe  the current delivery model should remain in place with the recommendations below providing additional opportunities and direction to enhance equity of access to  Highly Capable  services . This task force was not asked to address Advanced Learning programs beyond those for Highly Capable students. The task force recognizes, however, that Spectrum and ALOs are a valued aspect of Advanced Learning, and the District should continue to address the opportunities  for advanced learners beyond students  identified as Highly Capable. Enhancing those opportuniti

Seattle Landmarks Board Votes to Hit Pause on Wilson-Pacific

From Indian Country Today media network : Plans to demolish a public school with strong ties to Seattle’s Native community have been sent back to the drawing board. The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted 7-1 on July 16 to designate Wilson-Pacific School a city landmark. That prevents Seattle Public Schools officials from proceeding with plans to demolish the school so a new school can be built in its place. Ironically, the school was nominated for landmark status by the very agency that wanted to demolish it. Under the state Environmental Policy Act, the school district was required to make an assessment of the school’s cultural and historical importance and present it to the landmarks board. Erin Doherty, Landmarks Preservation Board coordinator, said the school met three of six criteria for landmark designation: it is “associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the history of the City” (Eaglestaff); it is “associated in a si

Tuesday Open Thread

 A bit of dark place I find myself in.  Robin Williams , a giant talent who I saw twice live in San Francisco (and once in a little bookstore), killed himself.  Very sad. Then there's the essay by Joe Williams of DFER who says that "Suburbs Hold Key to Resolving Democratic Party's Tensions over School Choice." It's hard to know which is worse - the idea that the "school choice" is the REAL issue among Dems (hint: it's not).  Cue violins and wringing of hands - if only we could get the "huge swaths of black and Hispanic families" on the same page as " as the nation's soccer moms" where"no cul-de-sac left behind," why we'd all be singing Kumbaya, no? (Note to Mr. Williams, you may have missed the World Cup but those of us who watched and who know soccer as the world sport, know there are MILLIONS of black and Hispanic soccer moms.)   According to Bazaar magazine, we have "the Savior in Seattle.&

Highly Capable News

Just kidding. There are no recs in the handout at the C&I meeting.  Apparently they will be in the Friday memo sent out by the Superintendent.  So unless someone who is on the Committee wants to let us know about them, I have no idea what they are. There was a funny moment when it was pointed out how old the Board's policy is (from 1993). They will be working with secondary counselors on what 9-12 students ,per the new WAC will receive as they had been getting "nothing in particular." First Stephen Martin said the vote on the recs was unanimous and later on, said it was the majority (he and Shauna Heath, head of C&I, exchanged glances on that one).  No idea what the real story is. They are hiring a couple of curriculum specialists (a good thing). Marty McLaren praised staff for this "sweet moment" to get this done.  I'm glad she's happy but I see no clarity here yet. Again, I see the end of Spectrum because they so clearly don't

Seattle Schools' Sped Director Goes on Leave

Update:   The Times is reporting that Williams leave is based on the issue around the consultant hired to work on the C-CAP.  The district says it is not disciplinary but that they are investigating. end of update. From Deputy Superintendent Charles E. Wright (bold mine): Dear Seattle Public Schools principals, teachers and staff, I am writing today to let you know that Wyeth Jessee, who is currently Executive Director of Leadership Development and former Broadview-Thomson K-8 principal, will be temporarily serving as Interim Executive Director of Special Education while Zakiyyah McWilliams is on leave. Wyeth has experience in Special Education and will step in to ensure this important work continues. As you all know, it is our goal to make sure each and every student has access to a high quality education. For the last several years, we have made Special Education services a high priority, and will continue to do so. In addition, we are supporting the Special Education team

Reclaim Your Domain - Who Owns Your Student's Work?

Ramping up to the start of school, I hope to (finally) get several threads on student data privacy going.  I also hope to draft a template letter that I'm going to offer to parents to ask their school about any kind of signing up for online groups that a school asks students to do.   I don't know why the district would not think this important enough to even inform (no less ask permission from) parents about online services that their child signed up for and what information their child was asked to give away. Don't let anyone tell you that you do not have the right to ask - you do.   Education writer, Anthony Cody, has left Education Week and is writing his own blog, Living in Dialogue .  Anthony is a gifted thinker and his work is worthy reading.   He has guest bloggers on occasion and this piece by high school teacher, Mary Porter, is very good and very troubling.  Her thesis? Teachers must protect student agency and identity from the “templated self” demanded by

OSPI HC Program Requirements

On another thread, nitpicker referenced the Highly Capable Program Requirements for All Districts document produced by OSPI. The 2013-2014 school year was the transition year, so everything is supposed to be implemented and up and running at the opening of school in a few short weeks. We're likely to be missing some required elements here in Seattle. And that's saying something because the OSPI has set the bar really, really low. Here's what's required:

Charters - The Gift that Keeps on Giving

There's almost something humorous about charter stories today.  They come faster and faster; stars who start charters that fail, financial scandals, and promises made and then broken. What's the funny part?  Well, the supporters of 1240 said "we have a lot to learn from charters."   I would agree and in more ways than one.   We should be the state to be uber-careful about who comes through that charter door.  No backdoors for anyone.  No one who has been indicted in another state.   y Here's the examples of what NOT to do: - In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the FBI, not just the state auditor, have moved in on a charter group. From AP :

Gifted Students: What are the Coming Changes for Seattle Schools' Students?

I came across two articles recently on gifted students.  One is quite good, the other somewhat useful but over the top (and the tone is distracting from the content, in my opinion). NOW, to start, if you don't agree that there are gifted students or the need for gifted education, please don't comment.   Because many readers here already know that conversation. Tomorrow we will find out what the Advanced Learning Taskforce has to say about how Seattle Public Schools might view these students and their programs.  This work may or may not guide what changes the Board approves district staff to do. I offer these articles as both educational and thought-provoking. Nearly every "gift" that a child has can come with/have a double-edge to it.  For example, athletes are only as good as their health/lack of injury.  Gifted kids have the ability to go faster and farther but often have behaviors that backfire on them from this ability. No one has a better child or a pe

Seattle Schools This Week

As a heads up, the district is offering (at nearly every elementary and K-8), Jump Start for kindergarteners.   Sounds like a great program.  From the flyer: It is a weeklong experience for new kindergarteners and their families to learn about their new school. Children will become familiar with the school building, staff, and typical school-day activities and practices. This summer, over 50 elementary and K-8 schools across the city of Seattle will offer Jump Start the week of August 18-22 . Jump Start will run for five consecutive half-days (usually 9 a.m. to noon). Parents/guardians will have a chance to meet with the school principal during the week. Interpreters will be available for children who are English-language learners. Families who have enrolled their child in kindergarten will receive a letter from their assigned school inviting them to participate. Families will need to reserve a space and return needed health and safety forms ahead of time. Not every school of

Updates and Pondering the Issues of Capital Building in Seattle Schools

Went to the BEX Oversight Committee meeting this morning. In terms of notable people at the meeting, Director Sharon Peaslee was there, Lead Counsel Ron English was not. Issues mentioned/discussed - Seems to be some kind of portable placement issue for Blaine and Laurelhurst .  No specifics given. - Only $1M for technology left in BEX IV .  Head of Technology, Carmen Rahm, gave a presentation where he noted that 75% of SPS schools don't have wireless.  But he repeated, again and again, that for the here and now, you still need "wired" buildings for all kinds of reasons.  Meaning, to have a totally "wireless" building for technology is not the desired outcome. There was this interesting back-and-forth with Director Peaslee and Mr. Rahm over smartboards.  She was under the impression that they were $10K apiece.  He said no, you could get 5-6 of them for $10K.  I looked this up and it really depends on what you want to spend.  But the total cost - of buyin

Special Ed Update

The district has sent out a letter to "principals, teachers and staff."  It does not include parents but I'm supposing that is not an omission but rather, a separate letter to be sent. I think there will be a few readers here who will say, "I told you so."  I myself have told various Board members, through the years, that in Seattle Schools, if there is smoke, there IS a fire somewhere. Evidence that your voice(s) can make a difference.  I believe in this case, that it has.  (Bold mine) Dear Seattle Public Schools principals, teachers and staff, Making sure each and every student has access to a high quality education is our goal at Seattle Public Schools. As part of this work, we have spent the last several years working to improve our Special Education services. More than 7,000 students receive Special Education services and we know we need to do a better job to meet their needs. Last year, the state Office of Public Instruction (OSPI) dir

Friday Open Thread

I'm at the BEX Oversight Committee meeting this morning; I'll let you know if anything news-worthy gets said. What's on your mind?

C & I Meeting on Monday, August 11

The agenda for the 8/11 Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting has already been posted. There's a lot there for folks interested in Special Education along with a couple of tasty items for those interested in high school graduation requirements, creative approach schools, Native American education, and discipline.

Gates to ConnectEDU: Where's Our Dough?

When we last left this story, ConnectEDU, a company that had an interactive program to try to connect middle school students with info on college/career.  From the story in the Wall Street Journal yesterday: In July 2013, the well-known foundation awarded a nearly $500,000 grant to ConnectEDU to develop an interactive program to help students master literacy under the Common Core standards that many states use to guide how public school students are caught.   The money came with some conditions, including a promise to only use the funds for the development of the new technology as well as a timeline requiring benchmarks to be met along the way. The grant, paid out in two installments, was set to expire this December.  I pause here to note that I didn't remember that the Gates grant to ConnectEDU was around Common Core. ConnectEDU filed for Chapter 11 earlier this year.  Apparently since then, ConnectEDU has not answered the Gates Foundation's questions about th

Vermont's NCLB Letter

Update: as Charlie points out, Arne Duncan has really decided - without real authority backing his actions - to be large and in charge of public education in this country.  (I suspect this is one reason so many conservatives, not just in the Tea Party, don't like the DOE.) One conservative education writer, Michael Petrilli,  advocates for Washington State to go to court over the NCLB waiver issue.  Now the head of the state group for Washington school superintendents says he thinks that's a good idea as well. Bill Keim of the Washington Association of School Administrators said this : For me, one of those continued sources of irritation is the unfettered federal intervention into what used to be the states’ domain—operating our public schools. I was amazed when the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation passed that there was so little debate regarding the expanded role it created for the federal government to dictate how schools in each state must function. It was a clas