Showing posts from October, 2014

On the Weekend Eve of Election Day - No on 1B to Protect SPS

I'll put in my plug for voting NO on the preschool/childcare props one more time.  This plea  is for Seattle Schools parents.  In every single document that I have found about the preschool plan, the number one "priority" is to "partner with Seattle Schools."   After you have read thru a number of documents, it starts to jump out at you. Now 1B says, we know there is little space and there's other things we'd like to work on with SPS.  Yes, SPS could help with curriculum, info on how they already work with preschool groups, etc.  Except that, as the Board complained at the recent Work Session with Councilman Burgess and others on the preschool plan, the district really hasn't been consulted on curriculum.  The Board wasn't invited to give any input at all on the preschool plan.  Hmm.  (To note, three current Board members have endorsed 1B - Sherry Carr, Harium Martin-Morris and Stephan Blanford.  Carr and Martin-Morris have donated to t

Friday Open Thread

Just Jupiter's creepy eye (courtesy of NASA/A.Simon) Looking at the Seattle Weekly , I was taken aback from the official photo of the former principal (for now) at the Center School. There are no Director community meetings this Saturday. Wishing all your little goblins and witches a Happy Halloween! Tomorrow is Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday.  Seattle Center has weekend of activities.

Preschool and Long-Term Benefits?

In another thread, we had a kindergarten teacher say this (bold mine): I am a kindergarten teacher in a school where the vast majority of students live below the poverty line. My Head Start pre-K graduates not only have pre-academic skills, but, more importantly, understand how to listen to a story as a member of a group, how to solve interpersonal problems (i.e., how to take turns with a special object), have greater mathematical understanding, and have a far greater vocabulary in both their birth languages and English.    I have NEVER questioned the value of Pre-K. Frankly it's a luxury to be able to do so.  I don't have any idea which I'll vote for, 1A, or 1B, because I've been too busy teaching to do my research, but I'll definitely be voting for something that increases access for the families I serve, who, although working and contributing in so many ways, cannot access quality early childhood education for their children. Followed by SW

Work Session on MOU with Alliance for Ed

Summary: it appears that most of the Board, both as a group and individually, have real issues with the Alliance.  It is not to the point where they don't want to work with them but the issues are both irritants and concerns.  It would appear that the many on the Board believe that the Alliance oversteps its grounds (in relation to its work with the district) and the Alliance's insistence on being a "critical friend" may just be too much for the Board.  More support, less criticism and attempts to steer direction for the Board.  In a frank discussion at the Work Session on Tuesday, much was heard and learned about what the next MOU with the Alliance might look like. I am left to wonder - if the Board and the Alliance have a hard time figuring out where to meet and how to talk - will there be an MOU?  Because with the Alliance's increasing strong stands on what needs to get done in the district and the Board wanting to set the goals (and the Alliance can follo

Don't Open Mail from Me

I apparently have an issue on my computer.  I'm going to attempt to fix it but the e-mails says something like I have a Googledoc. Ignore these.

Seattle Schools and Halloween

From SPS Communications: Halloween reminder: Toy weapons or anything that resembles a toy weapon are not allowed in Seattle Schools. Students must be identifiable in their costumes, so no full masks allowed. Costumes shouldn't get in the way of school activities, including P.E. and recess. Each school has the discretion of making additional rules around Halloween costumes and activities. Check with your school for further information. One artist dad's idea of fun with his daughter (apparently she thought so as well).  Note: creepy photos with small child.  Not for small children.

Shelter in Place at NE Schools

Update:  Shelter in place has been lifted from these schools. Tweet from SPS: Shelter in place: Eckstein,View Ridge, Bryant,Thornton Creek after bank robbery,73rd/35th Ave NE. No students involved.

Strategic Plan Update

Yesterday staff presented an update to the Board during a Work Session on the Strategic Plan.  I did not attended but just read thru the presentation .  It includes survey results of both parents and staff. Here's what I wrote the Board: Dear Directors, Looking at the Strategic Plan Presentation, I see this notation: At this stage, we are highlighting data but do not yet have root cause analyses or proposed solutions. I can help.

Horrific Shooting of Family Leaves Aki Kurose Saddened

This is beyond sad. Here's the story from KIRO-tv .  (They get one thing wrong - the Aki student killed, Anahlia Cowherd, was not a "fifth grader" at Aki because it's a middle school.  I have been unable to reach Communications but it was reported she was 11 so I would think a 6th grader). Anahlia reported at an online site that her grandfather had been inappropriately touching her.  She wrote:

Seattle Schools Updates

On the Center School incident, one odd thing that I noticed yesterday when I received a press update: the principal has been replaced. 

Listening in on Supreme Court Discussion on Charter Law

Update:   Story from The Capitol Record and link to oral arguments. End of update. Fascinating and yes, if you aren't a lawyer, somewhat hard to follow.  You are trying to quickly follow the line of argument and then, as well, the line of questioning.  (These are very rough notes as I was listening AND typing.)

Seattle Schools' Enrollment Data, 2001-2001 to 2014-2015

From the brilliant and hard-working Meg Diaz, data on enrollment for about the last 15 years. 

Seattle Schools October 2014 Enrollment

Here you are.

Updated Draft of Advanced Learning Policy Still Needs Improvement

The District has posted an updated draft of the proposed Advanced Learning Policy and Procedure . The updated versions still contain the flaws of the previous drafts.

Yes, Happy Birthday and Thank You to Jonas Salk

Google's doodle today is the hundred birthday of Jonas Salk who invented the polio vaccine.

LGBT Families Dinner Announced for November 13th

From SPS Communications: The annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Families Dinner will be held 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 13 at Nova/SBOC (old Meany Middle School). District leaders and members of the School Board will be there to welcome LGBT families and their friends. All District families and staff are welcome to attend. Dinner is complimentary, and there will be craft tables for younger attendees. For more information and to reserve your spot at this popular event, click here.

Tuesday Open Thread

I put up another update on the Center School incident yesterday.  It sounds like both staff and students did a great job in handling the situation. Fun fact: there are now only about 20+ schools where parents pay for kindergarten.   The district has managed, through LAP dollars and other funding, to fill in that half-day that the state doesn't pay for.  McCleary can't come fast enough.  I also note that the district has financial documents, like Race to the Top, that reference "in-kind" staff time "donations."   Keep this in mind around initiatives like RttT and preschool.  1B likes to say that SPS doesn't have to give space but I'm certain that any partnership will include a lot of staff time from several departments.  In-kind donations of staff time, whether dollars exchange hands or not, are REAL money. A reader had mentioned this previously but here's a list from OSPI of school bus violations statewide by drivers in cars.  Number of v

Garfield High Updates

Field Trip The proposed field trip last Friday to Vashon Island, an eight-year annual tradition by the Garfield jazz vocal group (about 70 students),  had been pulled at what seemed like the last second. This confusion happened because despite the approval of the principal and the district's risk manager, approval was not given by the Executive Director, Sarah Pritchett.  They had only two weeks from the time that the ban on field trips at Garfield had been lifted and felt they had all the necessary documentation done.   The Vocal Music supporters sent a letter to Ms. Pritchett and Mr. Tolley to ask what happened.  They are really upset because there are potential costs of $10K from breach of "various contracts."  They maintain they repeatedly called Ms. Pritchett on Friday to get an explanation and she could not be reached.  They want the district to help mitigate those potential costs. Richard Staudt, Risk Manager, wrote them back today, explaining that:  &quo

On the Campaign Trail with 1A and 1B

Update: well, will you look at that?  On the same day, Publicola and The Stranger choose to highlight one campaign issue.  And it's their support for 1B.  Hmmm. End of update. After several forums (most of which I was invited to), I've learned a lot about the two campaigns for childcare/preschool, 1A and 1B. Here's my vote: Vote NO on the first question (and your conscience on the second one but I'm voting for 1A because I believe that, overall, it will serve more low-income children, faster, than 1B.  That's where I want my tax dollars going.) That will get the City Council and the unions back to the table to deliver one early learning proposition they both agree on.

Ingraham High Native American/Latino Student Protest

I attended this protest rally in front of Ingraham High today at noon.  There were about 40 students and community members.  Sponsored by the Native/Latino club at Ingraham High, it was organized to call attention to issues around cultural competency, equity and student learning.  One student read Ingraham's mission statement which says, in part, "to empower multi-ethnic urban youth.." They would like an assembly every year for Indigieous People's Day.  They would like a Native American focus at Ingraham with teaching by Native American elders.  (This is interesting because it echoes what the members of Africatown wanted and the district is working with Africatown on their program.)  

Center School Closed down due to Security Threat

Second Update: Per the principal's report to parents (which was very detailed and a good review): The student who had the device had brought it to school and hid it somewhere in the food court area. Another student saw this, picked it up, put in his backpack and brought it to the front desk.  (I appreciate the thought but I wish that reporting student had not picked it up.) The school went into Shelter in Place and then the school was evacuated by SPD (as in a fire drill procedure) and attendance was taken outside.  The rest of the building got emptied by SFD.  The students got cold and were moved to a pavilion to stay warm. The students are to have a "debrief" this morning. Update:   it was a 10th grade boy who brought the Molotov cocktail to school; he was arrested by SPD a fellow student saw it in the arrested student's backpack and reported it to staff no threats by the would-be bomber were made prior to his arrest incident started around 9 am entire

Another MPHS Student Dies

It was announced last night that another Marysville-Pilchuck High School student, Gia Soriano, died last night.  She was 14 years old. I note that there are still three other students in the hospital in serious condition.  The Times reported that the two boys were cousins of the shooter (who killed himself).  The school is closed this week to allow for some of the initial shock to wear off.  One student said he could not go back in the cafeteria.  I think it might be wise for the school to repaint and reconfigure the room so that students don't get that shock from walking into the room.  I'm sure the school staff will do what they can to help mitigate those feelings for students. Teens feel quite deeply.  Of course, from the distance we have as adults, it can seem like a lot of high drama over an early romance.  But to teens, their world IS high school and as parents, we need to take it seriously and not gloss over it or ignore it.  (I am not saying the shooter's paren

Let the Data Collection Begin on Seattle Tots

1B will give all enrolled their first chance to be part of a very large state/federal database of public school students.

Know a Classroom that Could Use These?

A neighbor of mine sent this; know of a classroom that might be able to use it? We have some equipment to give away if anyone is interested (or knows of a science classroom that could use them, or any good use!) 45 gallon tank with wooden stand, with filter, light and lid 20 gallon tank with metal stand, with filter, light and lid some other miscellaneous equipment from our many years of raising fish and hermit crabs etc.

Beacon Hill Test Scandal; More Details

The Times has a fairly in-depth story about the Beacon Hill cheating incident. In most cases, it appears someone changed answers from wrong to right on the 20 to 25 multiple-choice questions that make up part of the reading and math exams. But on question No. 3 of the third-grade reading section, the pattern was just the reverse. Four of every five responses on that item were erased and changed to the wrong answer — a bizarre blip in what otherwise looked like an across-the-board attempt to help students get more answers right. Very odd. Did someone get tired? Mixed-up?

Hey Kids, Spoiler Alert

One way to quiet a classroom from a teacher in Belgium .

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, October 27th Superintendent Nyland Meet and Greet Yesler Community Center, 917 Yesler Way 6-7 pm Tuesday, October 28th Charter School court case in the Washington State Supreme Court Finally.   The Court will hear arguments from both sides. To note:

Sped Head Put Hold on SEAAC Committee

Seemingly no urgency here despite the state of Special Ed services in SPS.  It will be interesting to see what this "marketing campaign" for more diversity on SEAAC will look like.  It looks like a bit lift to find that many people from such a variety of groups.   That this will now run until the end of November likely means nothing will happen until after the winter holidays.  Nothing like deliberate speed. Bold mine. Dear Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council (SEAAC) Nominees, We want to thank you for your application to serve on the Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council.  We are looking forward to a productive year working with the Council to address the five goals for Special Education in the Seattle Public Schools Strategic Plan. At this time, we are putting the selection of the committee on hold.  While we are very pleased with the parent/guardian representation in the pool of applicants, there are groups that are not

District: Get a Grip on Field Trips

It appears that a field trip this weekend for jazz vocal at Garfield (just over to Vashon), that had been approved by the principal and the district Risk Manager, got pulled by Michael Tolley and Sarah Pritchett (executive director for the region) at the last minute.  (The vocal teacher did get the paperwork in at the last minute because of the new policies but was told it was approved.) There was no explanation given and, despite Principal Howard's best efforts to contact anyone at JSCEE yesterday afternoon, he couldn't get ahold of anyone. There were to be 70 kids on this trip.  Some of the kids think it might be retaliation for the rally on Wednesday. If the district has a problem with a field trip, they need to make that clear BEFORE planning is done, chaperones gathered and money paid.

Huge Tribute to Marysville-Pilchuck High from Oak Harbor

From the Times: Oak Harbor announced early Friday evening that it would take second place in the Wesco 3A North division (football), giving up the league title to Marysville-Pilchuck following the fatal events that took place at Pilchuck earlier in the day. The game for the title was supposed to be played tonight at 7 p.m. in Oak Harbor but was postponed after a freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck shot one student, wounded four and then killed himself early Friday. Oak Harbor's football team ALSO came to the vigil last night in Marysville. Those young men have learned a valuable lesson about compassion and sportsmanship. 

Garfield Teacher Cut Update

A bit of confusion all around (and you could see this from the Superintendent's letter).  What process is happening?  I think recounting using the Running Start students eligible to be counted.  Or something else?  The GHS PTSA sums it up (bold mine):

Superintendent Nyland's Statement on Maryville School Shootings

The following is a brief statement from our Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland. He is the former Marysville School District superintendent. "My heartfelt thoughts are with the families, students, staff and entire Marysville community during this difficult time." What a terrible day for him.  I'm sure he must know many staff members at the school. Superintendent's statement to the Seattle Schools community . (partial) It is a struggle for adults and children alike to try to comprehend why and how such a senseless and shocking incident could occur. Excessive and repeated media viewing can create increased anxiety, and therefore limiting ongoing exposure is recommended. Additionally, talking about the incident can be a healthy way for families to process their feelings and reactions to an event of this nature. You know your child best, so be mindful of the timing if and when you choose to discuss this with them. Here are a few suggestions f

More SPS Community Meetings on Boundary Changes

In November 2013, the Seattle School Board approved various changes to elementary and middle school attendance area boundaries (Growth Boundaries). These changes are being made over time. Planning is now underway for the boundary changes proposed for implemented for the 2015-16 school year. Students will be grandfathered at their current school. In September, letters, including translated versions, were mailed to the families living in the affected areas who currently have students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools. The letters invited families to come to community meetings in early October to learn more. Enrollment projections show that these changes affect up to 1,172 current students. A second round of community meetings are being held in upcoming weeks to answer questions and receive additional community feedback. The schedule is below.

Two Students Dead in Nearby High Shooting

 Update: the shooter has been reported as committing suicide.  He was a freshman and played football.  He had been voted freshman homecoming king.  He was very close to his family and involved within his community.  Some are saying it was over a girl who had rejected him. It is reported that many students either ran from the scene in the cafeteria or ducked under tables when the shots rang out.   There will be a vigil at a church in Marysville tonight.  End of update. The Times is reporting a shooting this morning at 10:45 am at Marysville-Pilchuck High school in the cafeteria.  Four other people were wounded, three of them are in serious condition.  The school has 1200 students.  Some evacuated were walked from the building with their hands up, others locked themselves in classrooms. A parent's nightmare:

Friday Open Thread

In one Nebraska high school, students are being granted the right to pose with their firearms for senior pictures .  (No, it's not the Onion.)  From Mother Jones: “The board, I believe, felt they wanted to give students who are involved in those kinds of things the opportunity to take a senior picture with their hobby, with their sport, just like anybody with any other hobby or sport,” Superintendent Mark Sievering explained to local paper, the Omaha World-Herald.  As for the "tasteful" requirement, that means classy poses only folks: no photos with weapons pointed at the camera, no brandishing of weapons, and no "scantily clad girls." Can't they just take a photo?  In the yearbooks I was in, it was a simple head and shoulders shot. has a petition up for saving recess in Seattle Schools.  I may have put this up before but it's worth showing again. Long ago, there was a girl singer named Lesley Gore who sang a brilliant song, &

Strong Op-Ed on Preschool Props from Seattle Parent

The Times (finally) had an op-ed that wasn't for mayoral takeover or promoting 1B.  That was written by Seattle Schools parent, Rita Green, is even better.  Rita is a savvy, smart, dedicated parent and advocate for Rainier Beach High School.  My hope is that she may run for the School Board soon (before it becomes an appointed job). Her POV is that 1B likely won't help low-income students and may even hurt the situation.  She supports 1A. Now I believe voters should reject both but, since you can name a favorite (or the lesser of two evils), you probably should vote.  My vote, like Rita's, would be for 1A.  I'll highlight her thoughts but my basic one is that, after consideration, I think more low-income children would receive the benefit of 1A and that's where I want my tax dollars going.

Amazing, Inspiring Rally

It was pretty great.  Loud and proud, about 500+ Garfield students came out and spilled down the long front steps to the school.  The drumline came out.  There were signs and chants "We want to graduate!" Totally student-directed and organized.   The student were actively engaged and boy, it was a diverse crowd. (There were two groups of three girls each, not with the students but standing in front with parents and teachers and reporters.  One group was Asian, the other were African-American girls with hijabs.  I asked them if they had left class.  Shyly, they said yes.  I asked if they were more quiet girls and they smiled and said, "Yes, but we wanted to come and be here."  Even the quiet girls came.) The student leaders each read a section of their statement.  They don't want to lose a teacher, don't want their schedules disrupted over the loss and want Superintendent Nyland to take money from the rainy day fund of $8M to cover the cost.  (I'l

District's Statement to Garfield

I'm just on my way out the door to the Garfield walk-out and this message came up on my feed.  It's from Superintendent Nyland.  (I don't see they are saying their numbers are wrong.  Well, something's wrong if Garfield says they DID meet the district's stated goal.) Nyland also says:   We are still working through this process, and we would hope the community will allow us time to complete our process.  What? How does that help Garfield to say a process is still going on? Nyland Letter

Student Safety Near Magnuson Park

I'll confess that this does not have to do with Seattle schools or its students.  But with the lack of concern for ANY student exhibited here, you have to wonder if this kind of lax behavior could happen anywhere. Rep. Gerry Pollet, a true friend to public education, was being interviewed by KIRO-tv about the clean-up of radioactive sewer lines near Magnuson.  Look who comes walking along; students from the Waldorf High School.  How is this safe? From Rep. Pollet: Watch how students are protected by a chain link fence from radioactive contamination at Magnuson Park. Numerous groups of students walked within a couple of feet of the work crew in radiation protection tyvek suits as they dredge out radioactive contamination from a sewer line. Their protection against splashes and contamination is the chain link fence.  Students in this video are walking from NOAA road underpass towards Waldorf High School and Building 27 (indoor soccer).  We have asked WA Department

Student Protests Continuing (Now at Ingraham)

Ingraham High School has a  Native/Latino club.   Since both the district and the City had passed resolutions recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day every 2nd Monday in October and, since November is Latino Heritage Month/Native American Heritage month , the club had asked the school for a school-wide assembly to "promote and celebrate" these recognitions. But the school leadership said no.  According to a press release, "Ingraham H.S. has no formal policy or procedure for student club initiated school-wide assembly requests."  The students do have a grant to raise awareness of Native American students and wanted to use some of those funds for the assembly "to engage the Ingraham community by educating staff and students about local and National leaders, artists, activist and providing a rare look into Native/Latino perspectives, experiences and contributions." The students are not happy with the no coming from the office. These Ingraham students plan

FYI, Another Data Breach (This one with student data)

From the Washington Post . The personal information of almost 100,000 people seeking their high school transcripts was recently exposed on a Web site that helps students obtain their records. The site,, facilitates requests from all 50 states and covers more than 18,000 high schools around the country, according to its Web site and company chief executive officer. The data included names, addresses, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, mothers' maiden names and the last four digits of the users' Social Security numbers. Although there is no evidence the data were stolen, privacy advocates say the availability of such basic personal information heightens the risk of identity theft. The availability of the data appears to be the result of a flaw in the way the two-year-old site was designed. It highlights how easily sensitive personal information can be exposed with the proliferation of online businesses and services - many

Garfield PTA Asks Community for Support

Dear Garfield families, The Seattle School District has announced its intention to withdraw one full-time teacher from Garfield, effective Monday, October 25, 2014 - leaving 150 students without a class for the rest of the semester, unless Garfield produces $92,000 by Friday, October 24 . This cut will occur despite the fact that SPS holds $8.5 million in reserves that could be used to cover this expense. Garfield High School is already the lowest funded High School in Seattle .  At $5,951 per student, we are a full 15% below the average of $7,004 per student per the 2014/2015   district funding report (page 44). High Schools   Proj Enrol lment FTE  Grant Budget  Non-Grant Budget Total Budget Budget per Student Ballard 1572 106.1 $71,500 $9,472,548 $9,544,048 $6,071 Center 271 20.3 $12,500 $1,866,756 $1,879,256 $6,935 Chief Sealth 1170 97.2 $186,500 $8,673,628 $8,860,128 $7,573 Cleveland 805

Student Data Privacy

Here's a webinar I'm going to listen to.  Here's some of the troubling words they use to describe the conversation: - "...COPPA has become yet another hurdle between teachers and connecting students to digital learning opportunities. " (FYI, COPPA stands for Children's Online Privacy Protection and it's part of the FTC. - "Can teachers provide consent for students to register for online websites? " -"May students who are under thirteen years old even use Web 2.0 resources without running afoul of the law?" I believe there should be a parents bill of rights on student data and one of them should be that, at the beginning of every school year, they get a list of any and all online resources their teachers/principals might access for them.  You should at least know what your child may be signing up for. I'm just not getting how/why parents are losing the ability to know what their children are doing online while at scho

Guess What I Would "Ask the Mayor?"

You ask, the mayor answers during a live broadcast of Ask the Mayor , 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22 , from Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave. Ask the Mayor’s format features a live audience and a topic of focus during the second half of the hour-long program. During the first half of the show, Mayor Ed Murray will join host Brian Callanan to discuss a range of city issues. Murray will answer questions posed by a live audience as well as viewer inquiries submitted via e-mail and social media.  In the second half of the program, Callanan and Mayor Murray will discuss his 2015-2016 budget proposal. Mayor Murray submitted a 2015-2016 budget that expands funding for priorities in education , worker protections, public safety and support for the homeless. The mayor is also proposing to bring new transparency to the city budget, including increased accountability for program outcomes and improved access to information on city finances. The City Council has begun their review