Friday Open Thread

Back in Seattle after a visit in Arizona.   My friends there told me how bad it is with their charter system.  Their districts are being drained of money and they have many poor-quality charters. As well,  the "top" charter high school, Basis, is doing exactly what we have thought - they start with one group of kids and graduate a much smaller group.  In short, they weed out anyone that they don't want there.  (Plus, my teacher friend's first question to me, "What do you think of Common Core?"  I had to smile.)

Director Community Meetings tomorrow:
Carr - 8:30-10 am Bethany Community Church
Martin-Morris - 10 am - noon - NE Branch Library
Peters - 11 am - 1 pm -  Magnolia Branch Library

The Times is asking, "What should top Nyland's to-do list for Seattle Schools?"  I know you are busy but honestly, please go weigh in (or provide a comment here).  Unfortunately, the Times gives an issue list - a very short list -

- Sped
- parent involvement
- STEM preparation 
- discipline
- other

Seriously?  STEM?  Does the district have NO idea what is happening in SPS?  Capacity management?  Testing issues?  Lack of oversight by the Board of their own policies? 

Currently, the Times' list has "other" winning (but there are only 24 votes).

Great event coming up - "Paramount Duty" - a discussion of the WA State constitution by the lead trial lawyer from McCleary, Tom Ahearne, and Andrew Nicolas from the WA State Budget and Policy Center. 

I am also sticking in my own, off-education topic opinion - we need to cut our losses on the tunnel.  Now.  (Somewhere Mike McGinn is shaking his head.)

From the Onion, now we know what's wrong - Youthful Tendency Disorder.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…

Eric B said…
Hey, at least the Times put SpEd at the top of the list.
Anonymous said…
I am not a scientist but I had a bad feeling about the mud there where Bertha is. Built on sawdust. I was against it, but thought, oh, well they are smarter than me... we will see, but it doesn't seem possible at this point.
Anonymous said…
One way of improving SpEds chances for rapid improvement is to have the Executive SpEd director report to Nyland or the board.

The TL people are really a bottle neck and have conflicts with implementing the proper curriculum for students with dyslexia and other SLDs. Many other districts are years ahead of SPS in providing SDI to SLD students many have very good track records of promoting students out of SpEd when using evidence base curriculum and methodologies.

Jet City mom said…
Three students have been shot outside an alternative high school in North Portland.
Not sure how serious injuries.
Anonymous said…
I just received this in an email from Nathan Hale Principal, Jill Hudson...

"New lesson for the day….

Our Second Amendment allow citizens to carry a gun out in the open as long as they have a permit. Well, we had a citizen carry a gun on his hip through our student parking lot and around our school perimeter. Police were notified, they spoke with him and wrote up a report about the incident. Many of our students saw this individual and I wanted to let you know that we were aware of the situation and took appropriate action to ensure the safety of our students. The citizen was reminded that he cannot be on school grounds with a firearm. The police informed me that this happens often when people want to remind others of their Second Amendment right.

Every day I am amazed at the community we have here at Nathan Hale. One of our neighbors informed us of this situation so that we could react in a timely manner. Again we teach our students to inform us of situations of concern. If you have any questions, feel free to contact.

Jill Hudson, Principal"

- North-end Mom
Lori said…
Seriously?! Someone was "exercising his second amendment rights" outside a highschool on a day when there was a shooting at another highschool?!? Do we know what time of day this event happened at Hale? Was it after the news from Portland broke?

I am so sad for our country that we have to be ever vigilant and concerned for our kids' safety at school.

Thanks for posting, NE Mom.

Anonymous said…
You do NOT need a permit to "Open Carry" a firearm in Washington state. Doing so on school property is asking for trouble or to be shot. If others feel threatened by you then you could be arrested under numerous statues. Of coarse arresting someone for simply carrying a firearm is a violation for there rights.

Lori said…
Also, unfortunately, Ms Hudson is incorrect about one thing.

You do NOT need a permit to openly carry a gun in Washington state.

You need a permit (a concealed pistol license) to carry a concealed weapon, but anyone, absolutely anyone, can openly carry a gun in this state. No training, no permit, no nothing. Remember that when you see folks exercising their 2nd amendment rights and openly carrying their guns to make a point. You don't know who they are or if they know how to handle that weapon. We're supposed to trust.
Charlie Mas said…
You can open carry in public, but property owners may set their own rules for firearms. The schools have banned them, so it was a trespass to bring the firearm onto the school property.
There may be state laws about it as well, such as the laws in some states that forbid firearms in bars.
Anonymous said…
I don't see schools listed under

RCW 9.41.300
Weapons prohibited in certain places — Local laws and ordinances — Exceptions — Penalty.

There this :

(2) Cities, towns, counties, and other municipalities may enact laws and ordinances:

and this :

(5) The perimeter of the premises of any specific location covered by subsection (1) of this section shall be posted at reasonable intervals to alert the public as to the existence of any law restricting the possession of firearms on the premises.

Such laws and ordinances shall not abridge the right of the individual guaranteed by Article I, section 24 of the state Constitution to bear arms in defense of self or others;

One can argue they didn't see the sign posted or they where in defense...looks likes a gray area.

Walking into the school would be a No No, but cutting thru the parking lot or egress is perfectly understandable, not smart but not clearly illegal.

Lori said…
It's worth pointing out that many in the gun violence prevention community view today as the 2nd anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Although the date of that tragedy was 12/14 (2012), it happened on a Friday, a school day just like today. So today is a sensitive, emotional day for a lot of people.

Choosing to open carry outside a school today, well, I just can't find the words for it. I hope the police did their jobs well to find out this person's motivations. I'm deeply disturbed by the date and possible proximity to events in Portland if this indeed happened after that news broke.
Anonymous said…
What does it take for a teacher or administrator to be put on leave, and how long does the investigation typically take?

A teacher and Vice Principal have been placed on leave at View Ridge Elementary. Principal went on medical leave a week prior.

Parents are in the dark. I'm sure there's a fine line between what is private/public in an HR or legal investigation. The principal sent out a note before leaving (for an undisclosed amount of time) and Kim Whitworth sent a note home with all students regarding the VP ("has been put on leave") but no additional details. Would love to see acknowledgment that 3 staff are now missing - is this related or not - and tips for talking to our kids about this?

And if there were an actual criminal investigation, parents would be alerted, correct?

View Ridge Parent
Anonymous said…

I haven't specifically looked around Hale, but I know there are signs posted at several points at my other son's elementary school (No Weapons).

If there are laws against having guns on a school campus, then I am surprised the armed citizen was not arrested, since there were apparently witnesses that saw him/her walking in the student parking lot.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
It should be noted that the student parking lot at Hale is shared with the playground, tennis courts and baseball fields of Meadowbrook. I am not sure the parking lot is considered part of Hale or a part of the Parks Department. The individual carry around a firearm outside of Hale must have been white because they weren't shot.

What a strange conversation.

WA state is an open-carry state? I honestly did not think so.

View Ridge parent, I don't necessarily know that you would be notified. I think it more likely you would find out via the media. Clearly, though, something is up at your school.
Anonymous said…
Yes, WA is an open carry state and has been for awhile. Probably due to the ranching and farming areas where it makes sense to be carrying a firearm.

mirmac1 said…
Cred for this Onion post to Gabriella and Eric Muhs.

Charles Wright would salivate after wunderkind Chad Berner:

Professor Deeply Hurt by Student's Evaluation,20130/
Anonymous said…
Funny, I was just talking to a HS classmate in AZ who is fed up with the charter BS and the its-not-a-voucher voucher program and the string of totally unqualified State Superintendents who just make things worse each year. Her kids are both in elementary and she has watched the charter industry and the state drain the public schools of top students and money - first as a teacher, now as a parent and lawyer. She has applied for new jobs, but says she's packing up the kids and moving someplace else this summer regardless, because they deserve a real public education like we had growing up.
I think out of my graduating class of 650, considerably less than half are still in AZ, if the alum contact book is accurate, and a good number were run out of the state by the condition of the schools and the corrupt political situation there.
Always a good reminder to me up here that things could be much, much worse.

TechyMom said…
Looks like the proposed changes to advanced learning entrance criteria are part of a national trend Slate
Anonymous said…
I had no idea Terri Skjei was still allowed in SPS building, complicit in the terrible acts committed at BT.

Do parents know this? Why in the name of god is this women still employed at SPS?

CPS please
CH said…
Correction: open carry is only for white people.
Anonymous said…

I remember, Cathy Von Haartman didn't quit and brought this is the light....Ms. Skjei in my opinion should not be working with children.

Anonymous said…
There is a new (small but growing) group on Facebook: Dyslexia Support - Washington State:

Please join and let others know who may be interested.

Anonymous said…
Skjei wasn't found to be guilty of any misdeeds. But I did find it striking that the new substitute Assistant Principal once worked at B-T. It's like they want parents to start googling...

w(e)ary watcher
Unknown said…
Patty Murray has announced she will be taking the ranking democrat position on the Health Education Labor and Pensions committee. She will be looking to reauthorize NCLB, decrease student loans debt as well as beef up early learning initiatives. I don't see anything from her office that indicates that she will be the champion for persons with disabilities that Senator Tom Harkin was. Republic Lamar Alexander is likely to chair the committee.

The Friday Memo to the board is quite interesting, with info on preschool, Gatzert, lunch recess, John Hay, etc. As far as Special Education goes: Special education is in an “intensive” – once monthly review – session with OSPI this week. OSPI is recognizing that SpEd is working hard on the compliance issues and has agreed to work with us on several of those issues.
- Procedures: We turned in the required 70 page procedures manual on time in November. They now say they want a more customer friendly user-manual by the end of December.
- IEPs. We have increase IEP compliance to 97%; OSPI also has higher expectations in this area.
- Leadership: We continue to be asked about stabilizing SpEd leadership. We have worked on job descriptions and accountability expectations. Zakiyyah McWilliams has resigned for personal reasons. Wyeth Jessee has been transferred into the position of
Executive Director. He will be supported by two directors: Kari Hanson who will provide day to day connections for principals, parents and supervisors; and Michaela
Clancy who will continue to help lead the compliance work.
Communications: A letter will go out early next week (electronically and snail mail) updating parents on the issues of the data breach, the compliance issues, our efforts around
communications and the leadership changes to provide greater stability. We met this last week with the SpEd PTA and SEACC. I am scheduled to meet with the Special Education PTSA Executive Board on Tuesday."

The timing of the announcement of the appointment of Mr. Jessee to Executive Director of Special Education is interesting. Ms. McWilliams resigned two weeks ago, and the announcement to the board of Mr. Jesee's appointment was made last week. Dr. Nyland announces here that he has met with SPED groups, yet it does not seem that he had the wherewithal to discuss this important development with the leadership of the SPED PTSA on Tuesday, when the announcement came out on Wednesday.

While I appreciate the transparency of the Friday memos to the board, more transparency with parent groups would go along way towards the development of a genuine relationship with the parent groups. As things go now, there is an appearance that they are being used as window dressing rather than as people who deserve current accurate information.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said…
More Friday Memo stuff:

Further info concerning twice-exceptional learners is located in the T & L memo, which contains these crypic remarks: "In regards to twice-exceptional students, the points in a message of October 22nd (cited at the November 19th School Board meeting) have been considered carefully. Most of the suggestions have been absorbed into paragraph 42 of Procedure 2190SP. However, we do not agree that “The ‘assurances that the district is legally complaint’ needs to be specifically spelled out to include Civil Rights, Title IX, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504, etc.” The district is legally bound to comply with all laws. We do not believe there is a need to enumerate them."

What does this mean and who is "we?"

Further into the Friday memos and attachments you can find very interesting stuff about transportation, Native American Education, and what seems to be a rough draft of the letter sent to parents about SPED. For the big list of links, go here:
1) Principals. I am aware of at least three principals that are issues. I find it interesting that the general public loves to say how many ineffective teachers there are and yet principals can do a lot of damage and yet you hardly EVER see one of them dismissed.

I note, for example, that a principal who struck another adult on a playground, got transferred to another position. I don't get that at all when teachers get in trouble for less severe forms of that offense.

2) That Nyland announced something after the fact about an issue that would deeply affect one community - when he had the opp to tell them in advance - is troubling.

There are patterns of behavior forming here that I don't like.

One of them seems to be staff talking about communication and not really doing much.
Anonymous said…
We shall soon see just how well the district is doing around 504 compliance. OSPI and OCR will be conducting interviews in the next few weeks in regards to several 504 compliance complaints.

The 504 AT program is simply a shell lacking any structure, this is also true for students IEPs requiring AT.

I have asked OCR to include in the district specific corrective actions a requirement for SPS to hire an outside AT consultant to develop and implement an AT program for SPS.

It's interesting to read how SPS legal tells OCR they want to work things out with families and it's not their fault families don't trust SPS, but when you read the dialogs between staff you see no intention of working out anything, only impunity.

SPS has just 6 months left in the C-CAP timeline and are still committing IDEA violations.

I say stop the C-CAP and have the feds takeover now.


Charlie Mas said…
For Dr. Nyland to meet with SPED PTA and not update them on the status of the Executive Director of Special Education is a lie of omission.
Watching said…
An individual testified against moving children- of non-english speaking parents- out of Bailey Gatzert. As the city wants to incorporate prek into Bailey is worth keeping an eye on this issue.

Years ago, Maier, Sundquist et. al gave away a school building to First AME church. The agreement with First AME required that the building be used for community purposes. This building should be considered for the city's prek program before these children are displaced from their neighborhood schools. The city has set- aside $8M for capital projects and these dollars should be used to create space within the old Martin Luther King building.

Burgess told voters that space within Seattle PUblic Schools is NOT required for their prek program.

Lynn said…

What changes do you anticipate the federal government making? Have they done this before and produced real improvements for students? Alternatively, is there another district in the region that gets special education right?

Anonymous said…

Kids in the ID aren't getting forced out of Bailey Gatzert because of preschool. They are getting forced out to increase elementary numbers at Lowell to justify the opening on Meany, while adding just the right amount of safe diversity to the insular population that will attend Meany. You can see that if you look at the proposed growth boundaries.

TechyMom said…
Meany is needed. Washington is very crowded. What would be a good and fair way to draw the boundaries between the schools?
Anonymous said…
The FEDS will walk into classrooms and observe if the federal dollars equal academic achievement and that's a start for change. As far as I can tell from the information I have received neither SPS administrators nor OSPI have ever performed classroom observations.

Under Fed control, the Feds will control every dollar insuring they are used for there intentions and not used for GenEd as happens now at SPS.

If SPS could have provided services they would not be where they are today. The lack of expertise of the personnel back-filling SpEd positions is poof SPS isn't going to succeed just delay the inevitable.

Many teachers are complacent in the violations, yet never seem to suffer any consequences and I have yet to see any district communication to the teacher's union or teachers notifying them of the responsibility to serve students. Parents don't care if an IEP is missing information or late or vague, if students are receiving services that provide for academic achievement then most parents and students will be content and not file complaints.

The most telling information on SPS and SpED is the hundreds of district emails I've read over the last 7 years detailing and validating SpEd IDEA violations. Many from teachers begging the district for help and the district refusing.

SPS has been scamming the system since at least 2004 by taking federal funds for thousands of SLD students and not providing services, it's crystal clear. What's not clear is why so many adults let it happen, why local lawyers turned their backs and sadly why they still do.


Anonymous said…
Techy Mom,

Good question. I don't know, but it isn't this:

Washington 2020

Meany 2020

Anonymous said…
Ok, this time no html for me.




Anonymous said…
Michael, sped is a piggy bank for the district. Who do you think supervises recess, exits kids from busses, supervises the cafeteria, monitors students in the hallways before school, outside, on sidewalks, or anywhere there might be a problem, etc? Sped staff. For hours everyday. It would be one thing if these jobs were split up among all staff - but overwhelmingly, they are done by special education staff. And that comes right out of federal IDEA funds.

The district also hires almost no permanent substitute teachers. This means, the district is short substitute teachers every single day. And usually there's no way to get a substitute in place. Who do you think fills in for all those absent classroom teachers? Well, sped teachers of course! Any sped teacher who delivers push in services is fair game to be called to "sub in" for absent general education staff. Nope, the students won't be getting their specially designed instruction that day. Even special ed teachers who teach classes or provide "pull out" services, they are used as general education substitutes. Well, those special education classes and services can easily be cancelled. Who will ever know? Ever wonder if your kid got his or her service? It could well be NO - his/her teacher is being used as a substitute teacher. Would your disabled child tell you - "there was no math support class today". ??? Many sped students aren't able to articulate that. And many don't know they are being robbed of their special education.

Been There
Anonymous said…
@ Been there

That's going to have to stop. If have poof of what you're talking about please post it. The district has been hiding those types of violations in the shadows with teachers turning a blind eye afraid of retaliation and now is the perfect time to pile it on the district administration. I'm been reading a few emails from Nyland, he's trying to garner sympathy by telling OSPI none of the current players in SpEd administration worked there during the non-compliance years? What does he mean? There just a few new employees most are the same old conformist. It makes me think Nyland is preparing to openly admitting they will not make the C-CAP June 30th deadline?

The bottom line is, SPS owes compensatory compensation to these students and I try my best to force them to provide it no matter what it takes. I don't care about what happens after June 30th. SPS has been found guilty and needs so pay for it's past and current violations now directly to those who are the victims, the students. No more stepping over imaginary lines on the floor and no more BS.

Like I wrote, I don't understand how the adults sit back and do very little, yes there are a handful of parents and advocates making things difficult for the district, but we need more pressure. Nyland has made some promises, but I don't believe much will change unless the district is forced to change by parents calling the district out for the districts continued failures to follow the law.

Finally, why wont the district provide documentation as to what their $421K consultants "Seneca Family of Agencies" are doing?

After all didn't Jesse say SpEd can't complete the C-CAP and provide services? Maybe Seneca Family of Agencies can work the C-CAP and Jessee and his crew can get out to the schools and provide services over-site?

Unknown said…

What "Been There" said is true and we have raised that issue with SpEd and with Jose Banda over the last two years.

There would be an element of whistle-blowing to proving that SpEd IA's are used to patrol playgrounds and cover other general building duties on a daily basis for the entire population of an elementary school, and if the administration really cared, they could find out very easily, but they don't.

I first realized this 5 years ago, when an IA complained about it to me, but I didn't really get what the issue was, but I do now.

In a recent Seattle Times article, SPS brags that they don't use un-certificated subs. The article didn't go into why or how they do that, but as far as I can tell, there ability to do so is dependent upon their use of SpEd IA's. Systemically, a lot of the elasticity of staffing in SPS is predicated upon the use of SpEd IA's, but you only rarely hear that from SPS. Ironically, the school in that article, Emerson, was the topic of a recent discussion with Kelly Aramaki, in which he admitted the practice of covering an entire SpEd classroom with IA's. Additionally, I have heard of another classroom which is being covered by IA's for extended periods of time with the "IEP teacher" of record being the SpEd Supervisor. That can't be legal.

The reason they don't use subs in a lot of cases is 1) because they don't fill all the SpEd Teaching positions and "cover" with IA's, 2) they cover absent SpEd teachers with IA's, and 3) they cover gen ed absences with SpEd teachers.
Anonymous said…
Interesting, I know most IAs are not certified special education teachers and many are not even certified teachers. So, they can't be providing SDI per the law. Their roles are limited, in fact a recent OSPI corrective action decision calls for the special education service provider (teacher) to have specific training in the area of language based disabilities. This pushes against the districts notion that any old certified special education service provider can provide services for an qualifying disability which we all know is complete nonsense.

Anonymous said…
More on Common Core and how they are setting cut scores for the SBAC:

Tables show estimated performance levels (1-4) based on 2014 SBAC field tests.

Anonymous said…
I went to a parochial boarding school. We had LOTS OF RULES, it became a challenge/point of pride/bonding exercise to break them. The penalty for breaking rules was expulsion (also Jesus hates you!), we still did it. Every year some got caught & are expelled. Our favorite rebelling act was to climb the wall over to the boys' school.

I would be very reluctant to volunteer to chaperone if I'm exposed to lawsuits from parents whose children sneak out of cabins, and something bad happen.(See above!) It's not like we can sit up all night blocking all the doors and windows. We're not security guards or jailers!

1) Kids who sneak out of cabins should be sent home and EXPELLED. ALL students should sign a contract stating they UNDERSTAND this. There should be NO EXCEPTIONS. Then MAYBE the kids who want to go to college might think twice before flaunting rules. Still very iffy, teenagers are both impulsive and unable to believe bad things can happen to THEM!
2) Only hope is to make sure kids BELIEVE that sex without affirmative consent (CA's YES requirement) is WRONG, WRONG & ABSOLUTELY WRONG! Since many adults don't even believe this (she wanted it, she led me on, if she agreed to 1st base that means she wanted to go all the way; she came to my room/house/tent so she OWED it to me; she's my girlfriend; she's a slut; she slept with last BF, so she has to sleep with me, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Remember the tears shed for those athletes who drugged and gang raped a girl and got sent to Juvie for a couple of years? I believe they're out now, good behavior or some such (oh the irony!) God forbid we should disrupt their glorious future in professional sports, where - apparently - beating and raping women and torturing animals aren't bad things.
3) If kids have to be chaperone 24/7, I guess there'd be no free time when they can explore on their own? Is this wise? All decisions are made for them through high school and then suddenly they're at University, maybe on the other side of the country, making decisions and trying to take care of themselves with no prior experience? When/How do we trust them to make the right choices?

Apropos misogyny, Missouri's GOP is pushing bill requiring the man's written NOTARIZED consent for ALL abortions except in cases of LEGITIMATE RAPE! Wonder how their poor and abused women are to prove legitimate rape to the GOP.

Who'd knew Missouri was the ninth circle of Hell!

EducatorofGreatStudents said…
I am a Seattle native who currently teaches in Philadelphia, PA. I am a Special Education Teacher for the School District of Philadelphia. Charter schools are also a huge burden on my district. There are some charter schools that are run by people who genuinely care about children and work fairly with the District. Other schools are cash cows for their CEOs and contractors.

A major issue in Pennsylvaia is that the state also doesn't allow districts to impose enrollment caps, so charter schools must agree to enrollment caps. Also, there are issues with special education. Charter schools tend to educate mostly students with easier to serve disabilities such as Specific Learning Disability and Speech Language Impairment. Also, many Republicans in the Pennsylvania legsilature would like to see the entire SD of Philadelphia charterized or broke because that weakens the local educators union, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, of which I am a member.

Charter schools are not a silver bullet. They come with many problems. The conversation around them has changed from them being laboratories of innovation to them replacing public schools. The UW's Center for Reinventing Public Education is aligned with many of the "enemies" of public education who want to dismantle public schools, such as The Walton Foundation and The Gates Foundation.

One final word of advice is that Seattlites should fight tooth and nail any attempt for state takeover or mayoral control of SPS. Having an elected school board is messy enough, but it at least allows for democratic oversight.

Here are a couple of articles about issues in Philadelphia pertaining to charter schools:

Educator of Great Students

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