Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's Worth Writing to Some Board Members on Superintendent Vote

It is becoming increasingly clear that the vote on whether to offer the job of permanent superintendent to Larry Nyland at Wednesday night's School Board meeting will not be unanimous.

In fact, appealing to directors who have not made any statements on this issue might be a good idea.  I think the issue of NOT telling the public that a shift in attitude had occurred over a search is a major issue for a couple of directors.  I think there is discomfort out there over voting yes because of promises made and now a change with no real explanation.  

Again, I suggest writing to Director Martin-Morris and Director Carr who may well believe Nyland is a good superintendent but also have a good sense of fairness.  

And what of a split vote of 5-2 or perhaps 4-3?  That is no way for a permanent superintendent to start his/her tenure.

Now, of course, perhaps there are people trying to manipulate the situation.  What if this were done as a ruse so that either the Board pulls this off the agenda at the last minute and says "Okay, okay, we'll do a search."

But, by then, hasn't the damage been done?  Nyland will feel unsure of his chances and anyone who might apply would be very wary.  How convenient for a mayor who might want to point this out to anyone who might listen.

I also note that a JSCEE source tells me that there was supposed to be some kind of public notice - either at the district's homepage or a press release - about the vote.  President Peaslee said in the Seattle Times that the public could weigh in any time between now and the vote.  She left out that no one would really know if I hadn't been alerted to this and broadcast it.

Seattle Schools This Week

 Monday, December 1st
 Want to get on the Speakers list for the Wednesday Board meeting?  They take e-mails/phone calls starting at 8 am (not before so don't bother).  Phone: 252-0040 or boardagenda@seattleschools.org.
Coffee Chat with Superintendent Nyland at Neighborhood House High Point from 6-7 pm.  The notice states:

Dr. Nyland looks forward to listening to your feedback, concerns, and questions.

So I think bring any and all input and questions.

Community Meeting with Director McLaren at Neighborhood House High Point from 7-8 pm.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Chance to Talk about the Installation of Nyland

Guess who's having a last Coffee Chat on Monday?  Superintendent Nyland (although I'll lay odds it gets canceled).  And guess who is joining him?  Director McLaren.

Please join Seattle Schools’ Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland in the upcoming West Seattle Community Coffee Chat:
Monday, December 1st
Neighborhood House High Point

West Seattle
6400 Sylvan Way SW
Seattle, WA 98126

Dr. Nyland is grateful to have this opportunity to meet and talk with our West Seattle families and community members about the educational issues that matter the most to you and your family. Dr. Nyland looks forward to listening to your feedback, concerns, and questions.

Guess who else has a Community Meeting right after that Superintendent Coffee Chat?  Director McLaren.

Neighborhood House High Point Center, 6400 Sylvan Way S.W. from 7-8:00 pm.

Might be a good time for some questions. 

Lastly, there is the Board retreat on Saturday the 6th which I will not be able to make but I sure hope someone goes.  It could be a very entertaining and revealing one.  It's from 10am-2 pm at JSCEE.

United Vote or Split Vote on Seattle Schools' Nyland for Super?

To have a split vote would look terrible (no matter how large or small).  For the purposes of whoever is driving this process, the Board should be united on who they pick; otherwise, it signals no faith in the choice and/or the process.  

It would also serve to isolate whoever votes no.  In essence, they may become a present-day Mary Bass (the former director who frequently was the lone vote against many issues.  She ended up being the canary in the coal mine for former Superintendent Olchefske's $30M+ unraveling.)

However, the courage to say NO is more valuable to them than any good will.  It means they stand with the parents and community who knew that the search process had begun and expected them to finish it in good faith.  Or, AT LEAST have the grace to tell people in a timely, rational fashion what they were going to do. 

Here's how I see the vote.

Friday, November 28, 2014

McLaren Speaks Out On Superintendent

Update: from Director McLaren's blog under Priorities (when she ran for office) bold hers:

Seattle central administration has turned a blind eye towards the communities which fund its existence and the families it should be serving. Community engagement should be the foundation of district decision-making, not an afterthought. I invite members of the community to brainstorm with me and form a constructive venue fortwo-way dialogue. Help me reshape the district!

Together, we can bring the wisdom and guidance of the community back into the Seattle Public Schools.

Guess she forgot about this goal.   You might keep this in mind should McLaren run again because it is quite confusing when candidates say one thing to get elected and another when in office.

End of update

 She  makes the mistake of believing it's all about the Superintendent when it's all about the dysfunction at the district.  She also completely ignores the student data breach.  

I do not recognize this person as the Marty McLaren that I helped find and get elected.  

Question is, will all vote yes so it's a "united" vote or will anyone have the courage of their convictions?

On December 3rd, the Board will vote on offering a permanent contract to Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland.

Friday Open Thread

You've heard what's on my mind.

Also, anyone ever hear about any school paying to be accredited?  Except for IB, I haven't and one parent wrote to ask about this (as their principal wants their PTA to pay for it).

What's on your mind?

Seattle School Board Agenda Item: Buy the Federal Reserve Building

I did forget to mention this previously and an alert reader reminded me of it; there's a notation on the Board agenda for an Executive Session at the end of the meeting:

Executive Session: To consider the selection of a site or the acquisition of real estate – This closed session will begin at the conclusion of the regular Board meeting and last approximately forty-five minutes. The legislative session will not reconvene after the executive session, and no action will be taken as a result of the executive session. 
I believe this is likely to be over how much the district is willing to pay for the Federal Reserve building and land.  $10M? $15M? $20M?  I haven't seen any estimates of how much it is worth (given its condition and its landmarking status). The auction starts on Dec. 5th and continues until Jan. 28, 2015.  Opening bid is $5M.
The district, if successful, would buy themselves land and a building and, doing it thru auction, they also buy time.  All good things if you want a downtown school.
But then there's always the question - where's the money to buy it?  
The answer to that will NOT be non-voted bonds (unless Sherry Carr is going to walk around with her arm twisted around her back).  

BTA IV?  Doesn't get voted in until Feb. 2016 and that will be after this upcoming Superintendent vote AND elections of four of the seven Board seats in November 2015.  What will be the mood of voters by then?  It's one thing to fix up schools; it's another to be buying land and a building that needs heavy renovation.

Some kind of public-private partnership?  Sure did anyone step forward at any point when the district was trying to get the property for free? And now when the district needs money?  Good luck.

That leaves our old friend, BEX IVYup, I think some poor school and its project is going to get somehow rolled back or downgraded.  

Now since this is an "Executive Session" we won't know anything until the district starts bidding.  I can ask their upper limit but they are unlikely to say because they don't want to show their hand to other bidders. 

Another Ed Reform Sign from Nyland

The Times this morning has their own, rather subdued, story on the attempt by President Peaslee to install Superintendent Nyland permanently.

Rise Up, Seattle Schools Parents and Community - It's YOUR District

This is a turning point before us.  We either fight back and let the Board know, in huge numbers, that this is terrible mistake to just appoint Dr. Larry Nyland the permanent superintendent of Seattle Schools or the district will take the most major turn we have ever witnessed.

Here's the KIRO-tv news story from Thanksgiving Day.

If you watch the story, you will see me being more than fair.  Frankly, that was a mistake on my part.  I am vehemently against this action, no matter Nyland's qualifications.  His experience and qualifications are NOT the only considerations for a superintendent for this district.

This is wrong for so many reasons.  Read the agenda item (and note who sponsored it).

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Seattle School Board Moves to Install Nyland Permanently

Talk about on the downlow.  Talk about shady.

Embedded in the School Board agenda for next Wednesday, Dec.3 - for Intro and Action via Sharon Peaslee and Ron English - is this:

This action will authorize the Board President to negotiate a contract with Dr. Larry Nyland for the office of Superintendent. Selection of the chief executive officer of the District is a policy decision by the School Board. Per RCW 28A.330.100, the Board shall have the power to employ a superintendent of schools of the district.

To Our Readers - Happy Thanksgiving

Many issues with our district but let's give thanks for what we do have.

As well, despite hardships and other concerns, let's be grateful and thankful what we do have in our lives.

I hope you feel you have found this blog a place to be heard, to gain and give information and to find some fellowship in this journey of parenting and schooling your children.

 I am an absolute sucker for kids (did you really think it was just a love for public education that keeps me here?).  When I went over to Roosevelt yesterday at the end of their march over the Ferguson decision, I had come into the cafeteria and climbed on a chair to film the crowd. It was so energizing to see all these young faces so determined and positive.  The principal (who I know), Brian Vance, told me to get down. I thought it was because I was on a chair but no, he didn't want me giving them attention; he wanted them back in class.

And I get that but sometimes, when kids find passion and purpose, it is so beautiful.

So be thankful for your beautiful children; I am.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mayor Murray Ups Ante Using Ferguson Decision

Wow, just wow.  This from Publicola in its coverage of the Seattle marches related to the Ferguson decision (bold mine). 

At the press conference prior to the arrests Murray said: "Bike officers do a great job. Officers will be out there [tonight] on bicycles." He added, "We're not Ferguson," citing the lack of African Americans on the Ferguson police force ["only three," he claimed] saying Seattle had "a number of African American officers."

However, saying there was "an enormous gulf of mistrust" between African American communities and the police, he added that, "race remains our greatest challenge. We have to confront the challenge painfully again and again." He said there was "tremendous hurt in the African American community" about the grand jury's decision in "the murder of Mr. Brown."

Murray boiled the issue down to the Seattle school system. "We are failing our young African American men, sending them to prison instead of college." 

I asked Murray afterwards if he had any specific plans to address the problems in Seattle schools—he had cited drop out numbers among African American students. He said only that he wanted to convene the City, businesses, and Seattle Public Schools to identify a joint effort.

Addressing persistent rumors that he's interested in having the city take over the school district, he said that would require authorization in Olympia and told me the city was not lobbying state legislators for that authority.

Seattle Schools Accidental Release of Student Data Update

The PI had an in-depth story today on the accidental disclosure of 7500+ student files to a guardian seeking to protect his sister's Sped rights. 

In the story, it was stated that the district had filed to go to court and force the guardian to destroy the files.  This was puzzling to me as at least one reader said it HAD been done last week.  There is an update today from the district saying this (partial):

We received confirmation yesterday that the individual provided the court with certification that the documents have been deleted and the individual possesses no copies, electronic or otherwise. The court certification confirmed the documents were not distributed, electronically or as hard copy, to any other individual or party except for a KING 5 News reporter who was permitted to view the files on the individual’s computer. KING 5 has confirmed they did not keep copies of the data.
But the questions continue.

Dr. Nyland Issues a Heartfelt "Whoops" over Gates Preschool Grant

Despite Cashel Toner's "this is how it's done," actually NO, this is not how grant agreements over $250K are done in SPS.  Why anyone on the Board took her word for it is beyond me.

From the Superintendent's Friday Memo:

At the board meeting on Wednesday you approved the $750,000 Gates grant for a Gatzert pre-school. Thank you, that will allow us to move forward on providing much needed and appreciated services for high need students at Gatzert. 
Following the board meeting, you noted that the support materials for that agenda item included a copy of the contract between the Gates Foundation and the District. It was noted that I, as superintendent, had signed the grant in September which is much earlier than approved by the board. 
In following up, I have confirmed that we did in fact receive the money from the Gates Foundation in October however, those funds were held and would not have been spent until Board approval was obtained. 
My early signature was obviously not appropriate policy or practice. I apologize. What I know now, but did not know then, is that we have a routing form for all contracts which require multiple signatures by different departments – ending with the superintendent. That did not occur in this case. We also have a protocol for recognizing and correcting errors such as these. General Counsel for the District will make you aware of those steps. I certainly do acknowledge this mistake and now know the proper steps for approving contracts. 
- Larry
Dr. Larry Nyland, Superintendent

Executive Committee Meeting of the Whole

An update if you were thinking of going to the COW meeting this afternoon which says it will be about the search firm for the selection of our next superintendent.

There had been a notation on the agenda that it might not happen so I checked in with the ever-sunny Theresa Hale at the Board office.

It seems that the Executive Session last night ran over three hours and, they didn't get finished.  (You may recall this was about a review of Superintendent Nyland which seems kind of soon given he just got here six months ago.)

So the COW meeting won't happen until that Executive Session is finished.  

Meaning, you could go down there, wait until the Executive Session is finished and hope that they then commence the COW meeting. 

Or, you could go down and be disappointed if the Board takes longer, is exhausted and then postpones the COW meeting.

I get all this except for one thing. 

As it turns out, I am getting some very pronounced vibes - both from sources and my own instinct after years of district watching - that there is a move afoot to radically change our district.

Tuesday Open Thread

 Update: I witnessed about 200 Roosevelt students marching and chanting over the Ferguson decision as they made their way back to campus around noon today.  They got corralled in the cafeteria where staff was trying to get them to go back to class.  Rowdy but peaceful.

I heard from the West Seattle Blog that West Seattle High students as well as Garfield student also marched today.

end of update

Richard Lodish collects public education memorabilia.  It's a fascinating story from Education Week:

His resume tracks his path from young teacher in inner-city Cleveland, to doctoral student at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, to associate headmaster and principal at the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in Washington. Brief stops were made along the way as a charter school founder in Oakland, Calif., an education advisor to local, state, national, and foreign government agencies, as well as published author in so many periodicals and books that he has lost count.

Over the past 40 years, Lodish has amassed a collection of school artifacts and memorabilia that date from the 18th to early-20th centuries, and now jam his home in the Washington suburbs. With pieces acquired from flea markets, live and virtual auctions, private sales, and through word-of-mouth, the collection is so historically significant and complete that curators from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History now make twice-weekly visits to his home to catalogue and transport items for display in several of the museum’s divisions. 

Did I mention I went to the City's community meeting about their preschool program on Saturday about "family engagement?"  (There was another one in the afternoon about dual language programs.)  There will be others next week so let me give you some feedback.

Upside: nice people to greet you and free food.

Downside: incredibly long (and seriously ridiculous) introductions. The City is paying(!) someone to do this elaborate game of dividing the room into people who tweet, text, read magazines and use voice mail.  Then, in your group, you decide what your "message" is about yourself and THEN you go around the entire room and every single person introduces thenselves and gives their blurb.

That's 35 minutes of my life I'll never get back (and this in a less-than-2+ hour meeting).   It was sort of a rah-rah session, "we all love preschool."  What was telling is one of women from the group of immigrant women there (with an interpreter) said that not everyone uses Twitter or texting.  No kidding.

I stayed for one presentation which truly seemed for caregivers/teachers and not parents.  I found it all confusing.

So, if you do go to one of these, I'd come late.  

What's on your mind?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gates Grant for Preschool at Bailey-Gatzert; One Mighty Big Hole in the Agreement

Finally sat down to listen to the Gates Foundation preschool grant discussion from last Wednesday Board meeting.  Many adjectives come to mind; disingenuous (Cashel Toner), tardy for the party (Director McLaren), integrity (Director Patu), rationality (Director Peters) and dumbfounded (for Directors Carr and Peaslee).

Folks, our Board not only okayed a grant that had been signed off months before by the Superintendent (and more on that in a moment) but most agreed it lacked clarity in one key issue.  Astonishing.

It seems that staff was able, somehow, to negate to the Board that going into Years 2 and 3 of this grant, it is completely unclear what will happen.  Both Sue Peters and Betty Patu asked, over and over, and yet no real answer.

Here's the crux of the problem as both Patu and Peters pointed out.

The district is doing this backwards.  The MOU with the City should come FIRST and then any agreements.  Because what IF an MOU with the City is not reached by the end of year one? (Which would be January 2016 as the preschool is to open in January.)

 Is the Gates Foundation going to continue the funding?  NO one knows but them.  What a great way to sign-off on an agreement.

There are a LOT of other Universities than University of Virginia

Want to know my number one piece of advice for young women going off to college?  Not "study hard" or "be open to meeting new people" - it's this:

Do NOT attend any frat party

If you do, don't go alone and don't separate from your friend.  

Do not EVER accept a drink you did not open and pour yourself.  

I think this Rolling Stone article explains very well why I have this policy.

I wrote a letter to President Sullivan at the University of Virginia (she doesn't have an e-mail but I sent it to her aide):

Dear Nancy,
I note that the president does not have an e-mail so would you be good enough to pass this along (if you have the courage of your convictions).
President Sullivan,
Your "response" to the allegation in the Rolling Stone magazine are tepid at best.  Why aren't the frats shut down for the ENTIRE school year?  Want to send a message?  That's how it's done.
I have ALWAYS told girls going off to college; never go to a frat party, if you must, go with a friend and don't separate and most of all, never drink a beverage you didn't pour. 
I write a public education blog in Seattle and you better believe, I will tell my readers, do NOT send your daughter to UVA.
Madeleine Albright said, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."
You are right at the front of that line.
Melissa Westbrook
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog

This needs to stop.

Seattle Schools Advisory to Principals on Ferguson Outcome

From SPS Communications:

This message was sent to all principals in the district, to aid them in preparing for and advising their students regarding the Ferguson Grand Jury Verdict.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week and Good News

Good News
3-D Lego making at Cleveland High's STEM program.

Chief Sealth wins gold in the Youth Division for their video, Riffing on a Dream at the Social Justice Film Festival.

In the film, inspired by a project called Question Bridge, 13 students sat down in front of a camera and gave their unscripted answers to questions from classmates to prompt racial dialogue within their school.

The SPS story does not name the young filmmakers but you know their names, please let me know. 

Monday, Nov. 24th
No school for elementary and K-8 for parent/teacher conferences.

Work Session two-parter from 4:30pm-8:30 pm
Part One - Evaluation of the Superintendent (open session) - 1 hour
Part Two - Evaluation of a public employee (closed session) - 3 hours 

I would urge you to write to the the Board at schoolboard@seattleschools.org with the subject line "Superintendent review" and let the Board know what you think.  I think Nyland is an experienced administrator but it would appear, is being directed by others. His signature on the Gates grant for the preschool at Bailey Gatzert two months before it came before the Board shows that. It also shows that he apparently does not know Board policy or does not plan to respect it.  (Of course, why should he? Senior staff in general don't.)

Tuesday, Nov. 26th
No school for elementary and K-8 for parent/teacher conferences.

Executive Committee meeting of the Whole (COW) from 4:30-7:00 pm, no agenda yet available.  

No Director community meetings this Saturday.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Seattle Schools Data Breach: All the Latest

I have a huge amount of news that all came nearly at the same time. 

I am still gathering information about how you can directly complain to various agencies including OSPI, DOE and the Washington Bar Association.  I hope to get that thread info by Monday.

First, the district has created a webpage on the issue, Student Information Protection.

It has the Superintendent's latest letter to the entire SPS community which includes this:

More Than a Score: Review of a New Book by SPS Teacher

Garfield teacher (and activist) Jesse Hagopian has edited a new book on student testing called More Than a Score: the New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing (with a foreword by Diane Ravitch). 

The book is a call to action but more than that, a good book for those who want to action but wonder if they can really make a difference.  The answer is, you can.  Hagopian calls those willing to stand up for opting out, testdefyers. 

More Than a Score brings together stories of the fight, poems and interviews with leaders about what testing does to students and how to fight for the right assessments and testing. What I really liked were the voices of students because like most of us when we are young, we don't know enough to be scared. 

Proposed Advanced Learning Policy

Let's give the proposed Advanced Learning policy some thought and see where it leads us. Schools had better start thinking about it and right quick because School Board policies become effective immediately upon approval by a majority vote of the Board. That means that any services promised in the Advanced Learning policy will have to be delivered immediately after the vote on December 3. Those services are supposed to be provided in every school and they will be required to be in place on December 4. The Kindergarten services will have to be in place at the start of the second semester, Monday, February 2. Has anyone asked if the schools are ready to deliver?

Friday Open Thread

Guess the percentage of cable news educations guests who are actually educators?  From the Washington Post.

Send this to your legislative reps when they ask, "Where will we find the money for McCleary and 1351?"  From the Puget Sound Business Journal, "Boeing CEO Makes More than his Company Pays in Federal Taxes."  

Well, that didn't take long.  Buried in the Seattle Times Ed Lab comes news that our new City pre-k program WON'T pay for transportation.  And, since our City is largely segregated that will make having the mix of socio-economic backgrounds even more difficult.

They also report that the levy has capital dollars that could help SPS "should the district become a classroom provider for the program."  What's odd is that this isn't new; those capital dollars were already embedded in the levy.  Of course, the City is trying to dangle as much bait as possible in front of the district.  How do capital dollars for preschool classrooms - at this point in time - mean anything to the district when there - is - no - space?

When Library Time Means Screen Time, from the NY Times Motherlode blog.   Is this a problem at your local library?  I can say (as a fairly old person) that libraries are definitely not as quiet as they used to be.  I'm confused why any library allows sound for computer games. 

Inside the World of the Upper East Side Girl Scouts? CNN Money reports.

"So..." prompts Alyssa Moeder, a private wealth adviser at Merrill Lynch by day and the troop's leader at their monthly meetings, "when you buy a stock, you want to buy..." 

"Low!" shout all 14 of the Girl Scouts in unison. The 14-year-olds, clad in a mix of plaid skirts, cable knit and shades of blue nail polish, attend the elite all-girl private school Chapin on East 84th Street in Manhattan, where tuition cost $39,300 this year. 

From Quote/Counterquote, "He remembered poor Scott Fitzgerald and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, ‘The very rich are different from you and me.’ And how someone had said to Scott, Yes, they have more money." Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Killmanjaro.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Preschool or Pre-K; There is a Difference

It's too late for 1A but from The Atlantic comes a great story of this issue of why "pre-k" and what it means.

Background (partial)

"Pre-k" and "preschool" are often used interchangeably in education circles and by the news media.  After all, the two can mean the same thing: schooling that happens prior to kindergarten. But rarely do politicians who’ve declared early education a top priority say they want to expand access to preschool. 

Pre-k is seen as a solution to those problems. Preschool, on the other hand, connotes nursery school. And when people imagine nursery school, they think of daycare. A babysitting arrangement.

 It’s all about the single year that precedes kindergarten: pre-k.  In edu-speak, pre-k typically refers to a specific category of early learning that focuses on ensuring kids are prepared for kindergarten.  

Framing the final year of preschool as pre-k, some say, implies that it’s an essential building block in a child’s educational experience. The benefits of early education aside, critics question the accuracy of that message, particularly because pre-k isn’t considered compulsory. After all, few states even mandate kindergarten.

It also highlights the growing emphasis placed on the quality and accountability of early education programs and the widespread belief that access to early learning should be a basic government function—something to which every child is entitled. And this is deliberate.

But Steven Barnett, director of NIEER, says there’s a societal value to thinking of preschool as pre-k because it promotes equality. Rather than treating early education as a private service to which only wealthy kids have access, thinking of preschool as pre-k makes it a learning experience that is—or should be—available to every child, rich or poor. The preschool-prekindergarten dichotomy, in contrast, creates a two-tiered education system. 

Remember this Date: It's the Day We Lost Control of our District

November 19, 2014.  Mark it on your calendar or in your journal.  Because today, to my mind and experience, marks the beginning of the reform movement of our district.  (I say "our" district meaning the parents and taxpayers of Seattle.  I leave out staff because they have unions and contracts to protect them.)

In a couple of days, if you watch the meeting online, you might be puzzled.  Sure, it's a packed house (and very few who came to the meeting actually got to speak about their issue) and sure enough, droning reports from staff, so what's so different?

The difference is - as Charlie points out - that lawlessness has taken our district.  The manipulation of district processes are now being controlled but surely not by the Board.

The Board had to vote - under Board policy 6114 and 1620 - on the Gates Foundation Preschool grant.  That Action Item, so lovingly written as to make it sound like the district had to fire this shot against the injustice over the lack of aligned preschool spaces in Seattle.  And, if the Board didn't do this NOW, the money might go away.  From the Gates Foundation.  Please.

All this testifying and commenting was just a show.  

Because it was a done deal.  (See the grant agreement.)

The Superintendent signed the agreement two months ago.  Two months.  Before the Board vote.  In fact, according to the grant, they got $250K sometime in October.  The Board vote?  No real meaning.

Once you cut out the Board on these deals, despite Board policy to the contrary, AND the Board knows it and still votes yes, we're done as a democratically-driven district.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Crazy Board Meeting

No, not the crowd but the people on the dais.  Who are they?

To bring you up-to-speed:
- big crowd of Garfield/RHS students in support of Latin
- big crowd of Hay/Coe parents against placement of Interagency
- big crowd of Native American parents/community
- Director Martin-Morris on phone from somewhere

Then, the Superintendent (and staff) went off on a looong tangent about "Program Evaluation and Assessment Annual Report.

1) no program reports - not one.  Did School Board speak up?  Nope.

2) lengthy report from Tolley, Heath and others that was more like a Work Session.  I could not believe how long it went on.  Tolley said 10th and 11th graders  are taking Smarter Balance test and 10th grade counts for graduation.  I will have to ask how they can make 11th graders do this.

McLaren spoke up and said how great Common Core is ("there are quibbles") and it's already approved.  I could not believe my ears.

3) Superintendent had remarks about City preschool program, again praising voters and noting he was with Mayor today and there is a "committee" being started with district leaders on it (unclear who).  He said that the district needs to help "all our students." News flash: preschoolers that are not Sped are NOT SPS' responsibility.  Get State dollars for that and we can talk.

4) He also said parents of students affected by data breach were being contacted "as best we can" electronically.  WHAT?  They need to send a letter to every single family.

I have also been told that Marty McLaren told SCPTSA should would be voting Yes on the Gates Foundation grant for preschool.  I am astonished.

The real beneficiary of an approval of the grant is the City.  Not SPS.  I can only hope that other Board members vote on fiscal and prudent grounds i.e. get a partnership agreement FIRST.

The biggest shocker?  I had read all the attachments for the Gates Foundation grant action item. But somehow I missed (and it was pointed out to me) that Superintendent Nyland signed it...on September 26, 2014.

How this happened and why, I don't know.  I think this very wrong.

Just starting Speakers List now.

Contempt for Policy - Annual 2090 Edition

There is a school board policy, 2090, titled "Program Evaluation & Assessment". It is, of course, about program evaluation. I encourage you to read it - it's only one page long and written in fairly simple language.

The policy requires an annual report. Here is the actual policy language:
"The Superintendent shall prepare an annual report which reflects the degree to which district goals and objectives related to the instructional program have been accomplished."
Pretty straightforward - evaluate the instructional programs to determine if they are accomplishing their goals. Instructional programs include each school's general education program, each option school, language immersion programs, International Education programs, Special Education programs, Spectrum, APP, A.L.O.s, the Skills Center, bilingual education, Biligual Orientation Centers, and anything else that you could identify as an instructional program.

Each year the staff puts together their report, as required by the policy, and each year it utterly fails to even address the instructional programs. Instead, the annual report is all about assessments. Here is this year's annual report to be presented at tonight's board meeting. The policy does not require an annual report on assessments; it requires an annual report on programs. You would think that the Board - or at least one Board member - would ask for the report required in the policy but, shock, not one of them ever does.

This is yet another example of how everyone in the District Leadership conspires to ignore policy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Seattle School Board Meeting - Will the Board Say No to Gates?

Update:  I spoke with the Board office and they are likely to take five more people from the Speaker waitlist.  I believe President Peaslee may have some discretion in this area but that remains to be seen.

Also to note, it appears that the Mayor and the Superintendent will be appearing at Rainier Beach Boys & Girls Club this morning.  I have not been able to find out why nor does this appear on the Mayor's published schedule.  I have another meeting so I cannot attend. 

end of update

Looking at the Speaker roster, it appears that the topic is "P-5 Schools Aligned with Seattle Preschool Program."  Out of 30 spots, all are on this topic, except for 4 of them for the 2015 State Legislative Agenda and on on Lunch/Recess Times.  (I have one spot about the preschool issue.)

Then, there is quite a large waitlist of 30 people.  This may signal the Board may hear 10 more speakers as they tend to open it up if this many people are coming.  Those speakers are mostly wishing to speak on the Garfield staffing reduction/Latin program, a couple about Interagency location, and various other topics.

I had thought the speaker list would be more varied especially because of the data breach, Garfield staffing/enrollment numbers, and the Interagency issue.  But somehow all these people who wanted to talk about the Gates grant got there first.  

I find the main speaker list interesting as many of these names are new (which, of course, is a good thing) but I wonder if perhaps people are being asked to speak (rather than coming on their own accord).  We'll see.

I'll say here what I will tell the Board on the topic of the Gates Foundation grant in support of a preschool at Bailey-Gatzert under the City's new preschool plan.

State of the District? A Mixed Assessment at State of District Speech

Update: I note that neither the Mayor's Facebook nor Twitter account mention the State of the District event at all.  The Mayor sat there for an hour and a half with elected leaders in our city and it was not enough to note on either social media.

End of update

It was a packed, smallish room for this event.  There was nothing that happened in that room that could not have happen at JSCEE.  Alliance head, Sara Morris, introduced many of the notables in the room.
There were a lot of district staff there (including PE teachers who saw their leader, Lori Dunn, speak about their work).  Elected officials included  Mayor Murray, City Councilman Burgess, Senator Pedersen, Rep. Carlyle, Rep. Walkinshaw, Rep. Pollet,  Directors Blanford, Peaslee, Patu, Martin-Morris and McLaren and Jonathan Knapp (SEA). 

Ms. Morris also went out of her way to tie the event to John Stanford (which I'm pretty sure he didn't start).  I note that the Alliance has not one word about their own event  nor even notice of the speech in general on their website.


Update on What You Can Do if Personally Affected by SPS Data Breach

I've made queries in several directions; one was to OSPI.  Here's what they have to say:

Can parents file a complaint thru OSPI or just DOE? If parents can file a complaint with OSPI, what is the process?  What could be the outcomes for the district?

The complaint process you identify (in sec. 300.151) refers to a citizen complaint, which is a written statement to OSPI alleging that a federal or state special education rule or law has been violated by a school district, among others. The citizen complaint process is defined by federal law, and all states are required to have one in place as a condition to receiving IDEA Part B grant funding. The U.S. Department of Education does not have a similar process of its own for special education complaints.

Has OSPI seen a case like this before involving a legal case and student data at a law firm?

To the best of our knowledge, we have not.

Is there any kind of regs/rules that any entity receiving student data from a district should check to make sure it IS the data that was asked for and/or that it has been properly redacted before releasing out on discovery?

Under the federal FERPA rules, outside contractors with legitimate educational interest in a student record can be considered “school officials” for purposes of the FERPA privacy rule, and may obtain copies of the records without parental consent in certain situations. But these officials are subject to all of FERPA’s limitations regarding the disclosure of personally identifiable student information. So, generally speaking, they should be aware of FERPA’s rules and best practices.

Does OSPI have any kind of statement in specific on this case and/or about student data and the handling of it by districts?


End of statement by OSPI

I do find that reply to the FERPA question interesting because OSPI is saying the law firm should have known these limitations and "best practices."  It would seem whether or not the district is the law firm's client (and has lawyer-client privilege), the law firm may be responsible to have followed FERPA guidelines.  

Tuesday Open Thread

Went to the "State of the District" event yesterday hosted by the Alliance for Education and sponsored by Group Health.  (I'm sort of kidding about the the sponsorship but somebody paid for that.)   There were some interesting things said from the Superintendent (frank talk, very long and a reference to God), Mayor (how many times can he say "collaboration" until you realize that it may just be a talking point) and Washington State Teacher of the Year (tests are NOT everything but he likes Common Core). 

You will not hear all this today when the Superintendent gives his speech again at JSCEE at 4 pm.  It's a 20 minute speech.  Also, no food or wine for you as at the Alliance event (but I was rushing out the door to see David Sedaris so I didn't get any either). 

All part of the SPS puzzle (especially around enrollment) - the City announces community open houses around housing.  (What? no love for West Seattle or NW Seattle.)

Monday, November 17, 2014


I am seeking information far and wide on what parents with students affected by the data breach can do in terms of filing complaints.  I believe there may be multiple avenues of complaints about the district and at least one for the law firm.  I have no idea if you can sue (maybe for negligence?), so you need to get a lawyer to answer that question.

I am troubled that so many call this "a mistake."  Once maybe but more than once? Incredibly sloppy.  I still don't get that the law firm, when they got that data, didn't do a random check just to make sure it was redacted (if only to protect themselves.) I mean, isn't the district paying them to do due diligence?

Stay tuned and I'll let you know what I find out.

As for the John Hay/Interagency situation, an update from the Queen Anne View (bold mine):

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tell the Board to Wait on ANY New Preschools in SPS

 I applaud the SCPTSA for this stand and support it.

Please, write to the Board and ask them to, politely, say no to this Gates Foundation grant, school board@seattleschools.org

As the SCPTA says:
  • the district should negotiate any partnership with the City on preschool BEFORE signing off on any other agreement about preschools
  • any new City preschools must be borne by the LEVY dollars, not district dollars.  This grant would put the district on the hook after year three
  • what are the demands on district resources - facilities, staff time, etc - on an already stretched district
I would add:
  • this grant application is vague
  • Bailey-Gatzert, under BTA III, IS scheduled to get a preschool classroom.  This grant is not needed for that to happen.
  • the application says SPS will "lead the work and design the program."  This is NOT what was said during the preschool campaign and again, the district needs a partnership FIRST, then any grants. 
SCPTSA Letter to Directors and Superintendent

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, November 17th 
College Application Event, 2:20 PM - 5:30 PM at Franklin High School.

State of the District Speech at Group Health headquarters from 4:30-6 pm (with a wine reception to follow the presentation).  RSVP only.  Put on by the Alliance for Education (although, oddly, no mention of it at their own website). 

Tuesday, November 18th
State of the District speech at  JSCEE at 4 pm.  It is a 20-minute presentation that will be broadcast live streaming and on Channel 26.  I don't think there will be a wine reception.

I think of the two dueling speeches (and their location/format) as the Snobs versus the Slobs. (No disrespect to anyone but when a state of the district speech - the first one, the main one - is not at district headquarters, you have to wonder.)

Work Session
DistrictScorecard/Operations Data Dashboard from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm.  Presentation 
There are quite a few interesting stats in here but I may write a separate thread (but feel free to read and comment here). 

The Garfield Enrollment Puzzler

Part Two from Kellie LaRue and Meg Diaz.   There will be an update at the end by me provided by Garfield staff and PTSA.

Garfield High School

Garfield High School is still slated to lose a teacher. District administration says Garfield’s enrollment is under projections, and the building is overstaffed. As of Curriculum Night, the Garfield community was under the impression that they were comfortably over projections.

There are a lot of conflicting and confusing numbers. Since this is a long post, I’m going to tell you my conclusions right away. I think district administration made a mistake. It’s likely they made more than one mistake. I came to this conclusion after examining the (sparse) enrollment data available on the SPS and OSPI websites. I thought that if the district’s other enrollment data was consistent and normal, the counting difference was probably a mistake on Garfield’s part.

SPS enrollment data is riddled with anomalies, conflicts and inconsistencies, leading me to conclude that district administration made an error with Garfield’s count – and possibly in other enrollment calculations, as well. 

Seattle Schools Enrollment Numbers: Hard to Reconcile with Reality

A guest post from Kellie LaRue and Meg Diaz in two parts.  My early comment is that these are two parents who know how to analyze both data and lack of data.  They have done their homework.  But like Charlie and I have said, you are only as good as the data that you can get from the district.  But we try.

Part One: Enrollment Data and Public Information

What seems like a reasonable way to gauge who might have erred is to look at the rest of the available enrollment data, sparse though it may be. If the rest of the data is pretty consistent and lacking in anomalies, then it seems reasonable to conclude that the district got it right, and Garfield had an unusual counting flub. 

But first, a second to rant about the incredible scarcity of enrollment data. 

Enrollment data directly drives hundreds of millions of dollars of public funding. It is important that it be both accurate and public. Right now, it is neither. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

In LA Public Schools, a Middle Schooler Can Consent to Sex with a Teacher

At least that's an LA court's ruling.

Once again, this is not about what happened.  The teacher who raped this child got three years in prison.  (And we can hope he never teaches again.)

It's about the district's responsibility for the actions of this teacher.  In this case, it appears there was little to none BUT the district took the opportunity to portray the victim as a wanton harlot. (I'm not exaggerating  - read on.)

(I'm also going to say that I find it hard to believe that a sexual relationship that went on for six months was unnoticed by any other adult in the school.  Hard to fathom.)

NO district should treat any student this way, CYA or not.

From KPCC:

Seattle Schools Student Data Privacy Breach

 Update: The Times is saying that the guardian did not just bring it to the law firm's attention weeks ago that he received unasked for student data but that he told the district.  And yet got even more student data after that notification. 

If true, this would support the guardian's thought (and mine) that the district and the law firm were trying to bury him with masses of data.  That would mean that somewhere in the district someone did not bother to redact anything, possibly not thinking of the consequences of sending out a huge volume of data. 

Because if some of the records had been redacted, that would have been an accident.  To me, that none were, then it seems a deliberate action, possibly done in a lazy fashion.

The Times also reports that "the district asked (the guardian) to return or destroy the records so that they can be replaced by a set that doesn't reveal confidential student information."  I'll have to ask if that means he would get 8,000 more records but redacted. 

They also report the district has used this law firm for 10 years.  The district has only pulled this one case from the firm and is assessing other work assigned to the firm. 

End of update

It's worse than we may have thought. I really thought this was a fairly contained incident to just one high school.  It appears to be a colossal failure on the part of the district and the law firm involved, Preg O'Donnell & Gillett.  (The firm was named by the guardian of the student in question in an e-mail to the Seattle School Board.)

(I Googled the firm and frankly, they sound like a very solid citizen firm.  However, in this particular case, something went very, very wrong.)

Let's start with the particulars, gathered from multiple sources.

New Sped Position -Hay to Lose Principal

I'm hoping this is good news but I can only observe that Central headquarters grows larger by the week and you have to wonder where the money is coming from.

Also, there is no mention of who is filling in at John Hay.

From SPS:

Ms. Kari Hanson, Principal of John Hay Elementary has accepted the Interim Position of Director of School Based Special Education Services effective November 24, 2014. She will be joining Special Education Interim Executive Director Wyeth Jessee and Director of Special Education Michaela Clancy on the Special Education leadership team.

The position of Director of School Based Special Education Services is being added to the Special Education Department to support systems and procedures within the Special Education Department and improve department response to all 97 schools, parents and guardians.

This position will work directly with the Special Education Supervisors and Program Specialists to support the needs of the 7,000 plus students receiving special education services in Seattle Public Schools.

Ms. Hanson comes to the district office from serving as Principal of John Hay Elementary, where she has also served as an Advanced Learning Specialist, classroom teacher and Head Teacher.

We welcome Ms. Hanson to the Special Education Department.


Larry Nyland
Interim Superintendent

John Hay Parents/Community Fighting Placement of Interagency

Update: I had bad information about Interagency at Lincoln.

Interagency was never at Lincoln.  The student incident with the plastic knife was a Sped student that is part of a Sped program based there.

My apologies.

Also, the info in italics is from a widely-sent e-mail and included the information about Ms. Powdlodowski.

End of update

The district plans to move Interagency from its somewhat secret location (until the recent incident with one of its students and a plastic knife) at Lincoln to across the street from John Hay Elementary.  Story from Queen Anne View.

There is a online petition against the placement of Interagency across from John Hay Elementary.   The authors of the petition are Christina Economou, Janelle Fowler and Carmen Hagios. Some feel the district is trying to "sneak" the program into their area.  Here are some of their reasons:

SPS: It's the Circle of Life

I attended yesterday's Audit and Finance Committee meeting which had several fascinating discussions (and non-discussions).

In attendance were Chair Sherry Carr and members Sue Peters and Harium Martin-Morris.  Also in attendance was Superintendent Nyland.

I had wanted to attend because of a couple of issues of interest to me.  And naturally, one item on the agenda that I really thought would be dry and not-so-vital turned out to be great.  That's why I go to these meetings - you really learn a lot.

The items I had wanted to hear about were:
- MOA with Africatown
- MOU with the Alliance for Education

So what turned out to hold my attention? The presentation on Nutrition Services given by Nutrition Services staff, led by Wendy Weyer. 

First, kudos to Ms. Weyer.  While her presentation was long, it was detailed and well-organized.  She laid out the information to the Board in a manner they could follow and then connect the dots.   The district has a gem in Ms. Weyer.

Next, the title of this thread and the Circle of Life in SPS?  Ms. Weyer's presentation was a good example of that. 

I've said this before (but yes, I'll say it again) - everything connects in SPS.  Things ripple.  No school lives in a vacuum. 

So let's do the links which are to lunch times and bell times:

Friday Open Thread

Yes, I will have a separate thread on the data breach that apparently happened at a law firm that was handling a Special Education case for the district.  

Community meetings tomorrow:
Director Blanford, 10am-11:30 am at Douglass Truth Branch Library
Director Martin-Morris, 10 am-noon at NE Library branch

News about SPS:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rainier Beach to be reopened tomorrow

From SPS Communications:

Rainier Beach High School will resume classes tomorrow, Friday, Nov. 14.

Classes were canceled today due to a power outage after a small explosion occurred while fixing a transformer. There were no injuries.

Power has been restored and the building systems are operational.

Recess and Lunch Time Issues Update

You may recall the district's press release on this subject said this:

Lunch/Recess Times
-          We understand the concerns of parents regarding lunch and recess times. This is an issue we are taking seriously and are working to address.
-          A Wellness task force has begun looking into the concerns and issues surrounding lunch times throughout the district. The purpose of this 18-month long task force is to examine nutrition, physical education and physical activity.
-          The task force will provide recommendations to the superintendent at the end of this time period.
-          Creating daily school schedules has become increasingly complex, due to multiple factors and requirements. This includes:
o   State Board of Instruction required educational hours
o   Recess times
o   Teacher/union contract constraints
o   Building capacity
o   Length of school day
-          Schools leaders have reported having at least 20 minute lunches. One main issue being reviewed, is the ‘passing time’ on the way to and from lunch/recess.

I was puzzled because it sounded like there would be a new taskforce and yet Pegi McEvoy, at the last Board meeting, had referenced other taskforces on this issue to the Board.  I asked her for clarification (and for her statement to the Board) and she kindly sent it along.

There is one overall committee with 2 subcommittees (each one is “referred to as a Task Force.” ) Sorry if there was confusion. 

Ms. McEvoy's statement to the Board:

The Plight of Schmitz Park

Schmitz Park Elementary is one of many schools that will be affected by new enrollment boundaries that were agreed on in 2013 but now will affect the school differently given the huge and continuing growth in SPS.

Meaning, what was agreed to before is not going to play out as thought.

Schmitz Park has been trying, very hard, to explain to district staff what is happening (and what will get worse).  This subject of enactment of these new boundaries came up at the Executive Committee meeting yesterday.  This is what my notes reflect:

Flip Herndon said they were "between a rock and hard place."  He said there was no space at Alki for portables.  He said SP had space but not "infrastructure."  The interim director, Brent (something) said, "We really need to make these changes."    Director McLaren was there but said nothing.

Here's what Schmitz Park sent to parents and has told the district (bold mine):

Rainier Beach Closed Today

From SPS:

Rainier Beach High School classes are canceled today, Thursday, Nov. 13th, due to a power outage.

Preschool for All Really Means Just That

Below the cut is the latest message from Councilman Tim Burgess about the outcome of the vote on 1A versus 1B.  I am putting it up for a single reason - because so many people believe that this program was aimed at and will give preference to enroll mostly low-income tikes.

It's just not true.  Currently, there is NO mechanism or "bump" to allow low-income students to the head of the line.  Placement of the preschools could very well decide who enrolls and that may very well be low-income students.

But these preschools are open to all so when I hear "we had to do something for these kids," I sigh because that's not the way the measure was written.

I'll pull out the pertinent phrases sans "low-income":
  • Seattle's children
  • best prepare children
  • to encourage economically mixed and culturally diverse classrooms 
  • our children
He also says this which, to the best of my recollection, I have never seen before (and certainly not during the campaign): full day preschool (6 hours per day, 5 days a week) and wrap-around care.  See that last phrase "wrap-around care?"  Going to add a lot of costs to the program.  You would also need to find space that has room for a preschool AND likely already has childcare.

I have no doubt that as charter start to pull dollars from the Families and Education levy so will preschool.  That 25% of the F&E currently going to preschool services will likely get much bigger.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Tale of Two Measures

Update: West Seattle meeting with Senator Sharon Nelson

15m15 minutes ago
Nelson says she expects the Republicans to ask that i-1351 be suspended.

end of update

Passage of ballot outcomes according to Seattle Schools:

1B for Preschool: Yay! Great! Thanks Seattle voters.

1351 for Lower Class Sizes : Not so much.

From Interim Superintendent Larry Nyland:

It is too soon to know exactly how I-1351 will impact Seattle Public Schools in the wake of the Supreme Court McCleary ruling and actions anticipated during this Legislative session.

Class size is one of the top four priorities of the McCleary ruling and long overdue since Washington’s class sizes rank among the highest in the nation.

If fully funded by the legislature, the initiative would have a significant impact on staffing and building facilities. That will put pressure on Seattle  to find additional classroom space in our current buildings.

Moving forward, the district will follow the deliberations of Washington State Legislature as they determine funding for McCleary and I-1351. We will work with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) on implementing legislation that comes from I-1351. 

Seriously?  If the Legislature funds 1351, the district would have many more resource staff to offer students.  Is this decided distance because those staff would be at the school level and not the headquarters' level?

And 1351 "would put pressure on SPS" for classroom space?  And 1B wouldn't? Preschool isn't even a K-12 funded mandate by the state.

Well, we know where those political chips are.  We also know which way the wind blows for Interim Superintendent Nyland.

Wednesday Open Thread

Threads to come
- what's the issue w/enrollment counts (and Garfield fights on)
- testing opt-outs across the country
- recess - not just a problem in Seattle

I'll be seeing some legislators today and hope to get their take on the passage of 1351 plus McCleary in the upcoming legislative session.

Great article from The AtlanticHigh School Graduation Rates Hit All Time High.  

Last year, 86 percent of students took home high school diplomas, while only 7 percent dropped outdown from 13 percent two decades ago, according to Census Bureau data.

The national average reflects improvements across all demographics but is boosted by significant gains among black and especially Latino high-schoolers.  

Want to see what some of the Smarter Balanced testing for 3rd graders looks like? 

This morning, parents and teachers in the Portland Public Schools district are buzzing about one detail of a third grade practice test that's available online: the incredibly complicated instructions that one teacher said scored at eighth-grade reading level in online calculators

At Wal-Mart's website, they called Halloween costumes for larger teen girls "fat girl costumes."  Good job, WalMart. 

Want to show your kids a mind-boggling clever desk (made for Harry Potter or James Bond, take your pick) and all built by hand for a king?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Washington State Says Yes to Lower Class Sizes

I'm going to call it a winner as well (the 1351 campaign already did).

Yes - 989,754
No  - 962,794

Yes - 50.69%
No  - 49.31%

The gap is only widening (No has never caught up again since Election night). 

The last drop of ballots at 6:02 pm was King County which is at nearly 55% in favor with 88K left.  No other county has near the ballots although, oddly, Spokane was supposed to have a new count at
5 pm and did not (they have 13,500 ballots).

Jerry Seinfeld: "I think I’m on the spectrum" for Autism

From Disability Scoop: In what looked like a puff piece about Jerry Seinfeld, NBC pulled an astonishing admission from Seinfeld:

Seinfeld tells NBC News that he sees traits of autism in himself, indicating that he isn’t the best socially and does not always follow what others are saying.

“I think on a very drawn-out scale, I think I’m on the spectrum,” said Seinfeld, 60. “You’re never paying attention to the right things. Basic social engagement is really a struggle. I’m very literal, when people talk to me and they use expressions, sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying.”

“I don’t see it as — as dysfunctional. I just think of it as an alternate mindset,” he said.

It would be interesting to find out what his K-12 school experience was. 

FYI, Disability Scoop is a great resource on information on people with challenges. 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, Nov. 10th
Curriculum& Instruction Policy Committee meeting, 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda

Among items of interest:

Items Requiring Board Action on Nov. 19/Dec. 3

- BAR for Policy 3201, Disciplinary Appeal Council (McFadden/Sander)
- BAR for Policy 2190, Advanced Learning (Martin) 
- BAR for 24 Credit Waiver Application (Heath/Stoen) 
Standing Agenda Items
- Special Education RC-CAP
Also, policy on attendance, Native American Education Report, waiver of basic instructional materials,program evaluation&assessment, research activity and test administration and selection/adoption of instructional materials.

That's a lot of ground to cover in two hours.

Tuesday, Nov. 11th
Veterans Day - No School

Seattle Schools and 1B

From Seattle Schools:

Seattle Public Schools celebrates with the City of Seattle and says a resounding thank you to Seattle voters for their approval of the pre-school initiative. 
Our utmost appreciation for the leadership by the Mayor and the City Council in supporting this important work. 

Providing an early start to our neediest families is one of the most cost effective ways to help EVERY student succeed. 

The city initiative starts small and builds to 2000 students over the next four years. 

We look forward to working with the City of Seattle in the implementation of this important work.  

Naturally, we all think preschool is a good thing.  But really?  All the schools are excited about this work as they are underfunded and overenrolled?  Hard to believe but I'm going with headquarters staff is happy.   (I also note that the second sentence lacks a verb.)

 The district is also WRONG in the "neediest families" statement.  1B does not favor any group of children and consistently said it is open to all.

Most telling?  "We look forward to working" with the City.  So the partnership that IS the linchpin to 1B is a foregone conclusion?

That will be an interesting discussion because until McCleary is fully enacted AND our schools not busting at the seams, I would think the district's involvement would be small. 

As well, the district now has the mandate that is 1351. 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

1351: The Engine That Is Nearly at the Top of the Hill

Update:  the I-1351 campaign has declared victory.

My latest tweet:

 Yes to lower class sizes in WA continues its winning ways, up 18K votes. Biggest counties trend Yes; should be able to call by Monday eve.

After today's ballot drops, Yes on 1351 is up by 18,205 votes (nearly 1%).  

Pierce County had 9,000 ballots - they are down to 1500 (at 51.65% Yes)
King had 121,000 ballots - they are down to 88,000 (at 54% Yes)
Snohomish had 58,000 ballots - they are down to 27,000 (at 50.5% Yes)
Spokane has 13,500 ballots outstanding (at 50.23% Yes)

So while some counties are just hanging in there, King has, by far, the largest number of ballots and they continue to trend Yes.

Biggest approval?  Jefferson County with 60%.
Lowest approval?  Colombia County with nearly 65%.

I readily admit that, like other measures, voters may have been confused by this measure.  But again, if we all agree to vote Yes to everything for kids, then we will have a very long list of measures passed.

From all the legislators that I read about/heard from, I don't think there will be much joy in the Legislature.  I also perceive that the Times, given their recent editorial, will be very unhappy about this outcome.  But just as the charter measure was close, so is this one.

Another Marysville Victim Dies

From KING-5 News:

Andrew Fryberg, a 15-year-old Marysville student who was critically injured after another student opened fire inside a high school cafeteria two weeks ago, died Friday from his injuries, Harborview Medical Center officials said.

The last victim, Nate Hatch, went home from the hospital this week.  He and Andrew were best friends. 

The Daily Herald in Everett writes about a gun control bill to be reintroduced in the Legislature:

State Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, whose district includes parts of south Snohomish County, for two years has sponsored a bill that would require that guns be safely stored, making it a crime if a person stores or leaves a loaded firearm in a place where a child under 16 could get it.It didn't get out of committee in 2013 and didn't get a hearing in 2014. She said Wednesday she'll try again in 2015. The Legislature convenes in January.

She introduced it because of a series of accidental child deaths and adolescent suicides in Washington involving guns. She thinks loss of life could be reduced with a safe-storage law.

Investigators have not released details of how the legally purchased and registered .40-caliber Beretta was kept, and how shooter Jaylen Fryberg obtained it. 

I support this bill.  I am fine with people owning guns (within reason - no one needs an assault rifle).  Gun owners should be responsible for their guns except if stolen. 

I agree with reader Eric B. who says gun ownership should be like car ownership - you need training, then a license and insurance.  

Friday, November 07, 2014

Federal Reserve Building to Go to Auction

The General Services Administration has announced that the Federal Reserve Building will go up for auction on December 5th with an opening bid of $5M.  The closing date for bids is January 28th, 2015. 

From the GSA website:

At the close of the auction, the high bid will be considered for acceptance by the Government.  The Government reserves the right to reject any or all bids for any reason.  

The building cannot be demolished because of historic preservation regulations (although the zoning for that area would allow unlimited height if those regulations did not apply to the building). 

That right there will severely limit the number of bidders. 

So, the district could try to bid on it and obviously, set a limit on how high they go.  I suspect the money could be found a number of ways.  Of course, then it would be quite awhile for the district to find the real money to renovate it.  Is that worth it? Possibly. 

Or, as one commenter at the Times said, "Here is an opportunity for civic donors to step up..." "They can buy the building at auction and gift it to the district."  

There's a thought.

Washington State Class Size Initiative Clings to Affirmative Lead

I've been tracking I-1351 for most of the day. 

At 2 pm, they were neck and neck with Yes- 50.07% and No-49.93%. 

But as the vote totals go up - Yes had about 7500 more votes at 4 pm, then up 9,000 votes by 5:30 pm and at the last vote count, Yes had over 11,000 votes and has its biggest percentage lead at ....64%. 

King County still has 121,000 votes left to count, Snohomish has 58,000, Spokane has 13,000 and Pierce has 9,000.

King is solidly yes but Snohomish and Spokane are barely yes.

But the trend is to the Yes side. 

For me, this is very reminiscent of watching the vote counts for 1240, the charter school initiative.*  Except that, day after day, the trend never changed.  This one is changing. 

As I mentioned elsewhere, the Times had not one but two whiny editorials today (and truly, there is no other way to describe them).

Shelter in Place in West Seattle

SPS tweet:
Shelter in place: Chief Sealth, Denny, Roxhill after reports of man w/gun near Roxhill Park. investigating. No students involved.

This was about 40 minutes ago and the shelter in place was lifted after about 15 minutes.

Schools will dismiss at their regular times.

Friday Open Thread

Threads to come - are the school funding numbers a Brad Bernatek kind of issue (meaning, the district has them wrong) or deliberate subterfuge?  What do these midterm elections mean for the state of public education in the U.S.A?

Next major drop of ballot counts for I-1351 is about 4:30 pm today.

OSPI reports that more Washington students are taking the SAT, PSAT and AP tests, across all racial subgroups. 

The state’s student performance remained relatively strong. SAT and PSAT saw a slight downturn in overall scores, but the number of AP scores of at least “3” — the score needed to earn college credit — increased 5.7 percent. 

I haven't watched this but there's a "Conversation with the Superintendent" at the district's channel.  It appears this will be a regular feature and you can submit questions.

Viewers are invited to submit questions for the Superintendent by emailing publicaffairs@seattleschools.org (please put “Conversation” in the subject line) or tweet @seapubschools #conversation 

Congrats to those filmmakers out at Ballard for their continued success at various film competitions.  

This month, three short films by students from the Ballard High School Digital Filmmaking Program were winners at Fresh Film Northwest. This competitive regional festival is coordinated by the Northwest Film Center in Portland, Oregon. It accepts entries from filmmakers ages 13 to 19 in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Only 10 films were winners at this year’s festival.

This is the tenth year in a row that students from Ballard’s Digital Filmmaking Program have been winners at the event.

Winners include:
- Air Pressure by Coleman Andersen, Leo Pfeifer & Josh Vredevoogd, is about a disaster at the World Balloon Animal Championship.  This film has already won numerous other prizes.
- Clipped Wings by Coleman Andersen, Duncan Gowdy & Leo Pfeifer about the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay scouts/leaders.
- Raven Rock by Rachel Cole, Jaya Flanary & Meagen Tajalle. It concerns a treatment program that pairs survivors of childhood abuse with abused horses for mutual healing. 

Saturday Community Meetings
Director Carr - 8:30-10:00 am at Bethany Community Church
Director McLaren - 11:00 am-12:30 pm at High Point Branch Library

What's on your mind?

Thursday, November 06, 2014

1351 - the Little Engine That Could?

Update 8:25 am

The Times is whining that Governor Inslee didn't "lead" by revealing his own vote against 1351.

As governor, he should have expressed his concerns with the initiative and let voters know where he stood so they could follow his example. Now, the initiative might require a recount and, if it does pass, it could suck up lawmakers’ time and resources from other matters, and it might not ever be fully implemented.
Inslee might have wanted to let voters make up their own minds, but that’s no excuse for sitting back and not doing what voters expect him to do: lead.
Since when is ANYONE supposed to reveal their vote (even a Governor)?  I have to wonder if maybe he does support it but worried about the money so he voted no.  Whatever the reason, it's his vote.

Next big ballot drop is 4:30 pm.

Update 8:05 pm
Yes continues upward climb over 4500 votes up with more votes to count.

Update 7:40 pm
Yes takes the lead...with about 125 votes.  However, King County is to drop at 8 pm.  This could be very interesting.

Update 6:40 pm
There are now less than 2,000 votes separating No from Yes with no King County votes yet counted.

I expect the 8 pm drop will likely kick this over to the Yes side.

And all over this state, legislators are really starting to sweat.

end of update
 Update: 4:57 pm

Yes - 49.8%
No -  50.2%

This doesn't even count King County ballots whose number has not changed.

There are still over 465K ballots statewide to be counted.

Choo choo.

end of update

The ballots are pouring in because now there are MORE than 500,000 to be counted (last night it was about 500K, now it is 504,693) including an uptick in King County from 130K to nearly 143K.  This is important because 1351 is passing more comfortably in King County.

No -  50.27%
Yes - 49.73%

Just about a half-percent difference.

No -  728,730
Yes - 721,004