Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year (Make an Education Wish)

What's your education wish for 2015? 

Let's go with three wishes; one for Seattle Schools, one for the state, and one national.

1) For this district, a perennial favorite of mine, a School Board that does its REAL job.  Providing oversight and accountability. Examining the "priorities" of the district vis a vis school-based needs/parent desires.  Not accepting excuses from upper management on serious issues.  But this will not come from the majority of the current Board (clearly) so we have the work to find, support and elect four new people for the Board.  (I know - it's a big job but it has been done before.) 

2) You might have thought I would say "enact McCleary" but honestly, that's the Legislature's job and it's the constitutional mandate.  There shouldn't even be any discussion that drags on for months and months.

Nope, my wish is for the Washington State Supreme Court to overturn the charter school law.  I think the law is unconstitutional.  There is just one charter school open at this point (and it's already on probation). 

During the campaign, we were told, over and over, that this was the "best" charter law in the country.  That may be but apparently, the creators forgot to align it with our state constitution.  So, if it is overturned, they can go back to the drawing board and start again.  (My best guess is that the Court will split the baby somehow.  I don't think that will truly work and will engender more arguing so throwing the whole thing out makes more sense to me.)

3) Nationally, I would like to see every single state and the feds enact student data privacy restrictions with REAL gatekeeping and REAL punishment.  Every single entity that wants access to data should fear the ramifications if they foul up.

Wishing you all a safe and happy New Year's Eve into our new 2015.  


Po3 said...

I would like to see the board get to the work of providing outstanding curriculum and textbooks to all students. This would include new middle school and high school math, elementary science and social studies curriculum.

I don't want to see anything PreK on an agenda!

Po3 said...

Question: If the Charter Law was overturned what would happen to schools like First Place, would they be forced to close?

Anonymous said...

I want the district to adopt a language arts curriculum that is based on the mountains of research accumulated in the last 100 years about how to teach reading. There is no debate, the science is VERY clear. You must teach reading using a structured and systematic approach. The most common method here in SPS, with leveled books that enforce cueing methods such as,look at the picture, what makes sense there...etc, have no basis in science. There is no research to support the use of this methodology yet it persists. In fact, research proves those cueing methods are the primary strategies used by poor readers, however here in SPS, and across the nation, that is what teaching reading looks like- teachers teaching and enforcing the habits of poor readers.
I want the state to pass legislation mandating that all districts adopt curriculum based on science, not curriculum that pretends to have a basis in science. It has been 15 years since the National Reading Panel's report, and yet the knowledge has not trickled into most SPS classrooms. The greatest tragedy is that most SPS teachers think they are actually teaching phonics because they teach letter sounds and have a word work center. The lack of knowledge about teaching children how to read by teachers is astounding, at the city, state and national level. My wish for 2015 is that this will begin to change.

Watching said...

I would like for I 1240 to be considered unconstitutional AND for Bill Gates to get out of the education business.

Special shout-out to Director Peters. She is a strong parent/ community advocate and is attempting to keep the district accountable; she has the support of Director Patu. The problem: she needs support from the rest of the board.

Best wishes in the New Year.

seattle public said...

Charter schools work Seattle. Public schools don't work

Anonymous said...

I agree with Po3 and TS. Explicit reading and writing instruction, with a content based social studies curriculum (and texts that can go home with students), could substantially improve learning outcomes. New middle school and high school math texts need to be brought in line with the elementary program (no more CMP and Discovering). A change in Teaching and Learning leadership would also be on my list.


Anonymous said...

For Seattle, I would like better math textbooks in middle and upper grades and a new high school in the Amgen building.

For the state, I would also like to see discovery math textbooks replaced with fundamentally sound curricula.

For the nation, I would like to see more support for public schools and less money diverted to underperforming charters.

S parent

Eric B said...

Seattle public, did you not see the Seattle Times articles about the lone charter school in WA? It has been in a tailspin, with promises to get out, but no reported progress.

If I-1240 is declared unconstitutional, First Place would have to give up public funds and go back to being a private school. Since they were successful under that model and don't appear to be successful as a charter, that might not be such a bad thing.

Leon said...

Seattle Public,

How is First Place charter school working out??

joanna said...

Yes, to your wish regarding the funding for Charter Schools and the Washington State Supreme Court. That would a relief.

Wondering said...

S. Parent,

Are you implying that you support charter schools.

Anonymous said...


No, I am not a charter supporter. The Stanford CREDO studies show they do not outperform regular public schools and I think they are a huge distraction. From what I have read, they cherry pick students, have big overhead in administration and suffer from high teacher turnover.

I do not think charters offer new innovations, in spite of their generous funding from Bill Gates.

S parent

Charlie Mas said...

For the District, I would just like the people in the JSCEE to do their jobs. Why is that such an unreasonable expectation? Yes, the Board, as Melissa wrote, but also the superintendent, the senior staff, HR, Facilities, Legal, all of them. They need to operate like adults with adult expectations of each other instead of like a kindergarten with an infinite number of second chances and no standards or accountability.

For the state, I have absolutely no confidence in the legislature, so I am just looking forward to the sanctions imposed by the Supreme Court on the legislature for being in contempt. I want to see legislators in jail.

For the nation I would like to see a revision of ESEA which includes the end of NCLB, the end of RttT, and the end of corporate Education Reform institutionalized into law. Corporate Education Reform is running out of steam. It has been exposed as a huge failure and needs to fade away.

Yep. I'm going for a pony on all levels.

Carol Simmons said...

My wish is for the elimination of disproportionality racial and otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I wish for competent Special Education administrators who give a hoot about somebody, and something, beyond their next promotion. And who, at a minimum, don't screw things up more.

Sped Reader

Unknown said...

It's been sixty years since Brown v. Board of Education, the fruits of which have yet to be realized. Echoing Carol Simmons, I wish for the elimination of disproportionate outcomes for students of color as well as students with disabilities.

AnonMom said...

I wish for a program that doesn't leave my second grader already feeling like attending school is a dreary job. She's only seven! She should still be excited about being at school.

Wishful Thinking said...

Lower class sizes, individual attention, supported teachers and high school teachers to have less than 150 students

Anonymous said...

Let's hope for a speedy federal take over of SPS. A dollar by dollar audit of SPS spending and the termination of 25% of SPS administrative staff.

Crooked SPS

Anonymous said...

Wish #1 - The idiot in the clown suit (Arne Duncan) resigns and takes his corporate/Gates Foundation pals in the USDOE with him.

Wish #2 - Charter schools legislation in WA State is overturned.

Wish #3 - The emphasis on testing, VAM, evaluation, grading schools, competition, and other shallow Ed Deform measures brought on by our corporate overlords would fade into the ether. Quickly


Anonymous said...

I believe Secretary Duncan’s assertion that procedural compliance is not enough hails the end of “legally defensible” IEPs that nonetheless fail to deliver the kinds of education that help special education students become taxpayers rather than tax-dependents in adulthood. Bear in mind that most special education students have normal to above-average IQs and are compromised by learning disabilities, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other “hidden” impairments that do not affect intelligence. These are the kids who, with a little extra help, can contribute rather than live on the contributions of others. Be-aware districts spend millions of dollars on legal fees when they could choose to follow the law.



Anonymous said...

I wish for all of the rich people, politicians, and for-profit companies that are advocating for Common Core/non-stop-testing/no excuses/charters/etc to knock it off and start advocating for ALL kids to get the same kind of education they want for their kids.

Anonymous said...

I wish for an special education civil rights culture in SPS.

I wish for SPS leadership & SEA leadership to embrace special education civil rights intelligence & literacy across all departments and operations.

Anne S.

Anonymous said...

I have ten years experience teaching special education and am finishing up my Ed.S. in school psychology, and my wish is to get a job in Seattle in special ed that will help transform the overall program into what everyone's kids deserve.


Hum Bug said...

The Alliance for Education leave SPS and take Charles Wright with them.

Anonymous said...

Did you see this?, another problem at Roosevelt. Wasn't it Roosevelt that led to the data breach of the 8,000 students information.



Anonymous said...

I wish all schools teach Mood meter as part of the daily curriculum. I love how it's currently being taught at some schools in the south end. What an effective way to help kids and adults understand and manage their feelings/emotions. I'm a big believer that it will help reduce all the anger and violence going on around us.

Anonymous said...

My middle school child has a different opinion of the RULER program (source of the "Mood Meter") as used at their school. The materials seem geared toward younger students. Though some older students may benefit from the approach, my child resents the program and sees it as simplistic. I understand the good intentions of the school, but also bristle at the school's intrusion into what I think is my role as a parent, and what is deeply personal for my child. Teachers are not trained psychologists.

Do I want schools to be sensitive to social and emotional issues? Yes. Is a canned curriculum the best way to address social and emotional issues? Maybe not.

What may be good for some students becomes an opportunity cost for other students. Time spent on the RULER program is time not spent on academics - be it keeping up with homework, reading, meeting with teachers, or in school tutoring.

What's weird to me is how it's even been incorporated into some LA/SS writing assignments. My child's mood would be greatly improved if more time was spent on academic content and less time on the mood meter.

So...opinions vary.

-another perspective

Andrea Leigh Ptak said...

Po#: Ditto on the textbooks—and make sure EVERY student has a textbook they can bring home with them and not have to share with other students.

Anonymous said...

KT, you may get your wish, as 25 additional schools will be rolling out the RULER program in 2015-16, and yet another 25 schools in 2016-17, according to this document:


It looks as if it's being implemented through the SPS Early Learning Department.

-another perspective

David said...

I'd second everything Charlie Mas said.

Only thing I'd add is that, at the federal level, I'm hopeful we may see a lot more federal funding for education, something that is long overdue. The leading candidates (Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush) both have pushed education as a major issue in the past and both may try to top each other with education proposals, though we'll have to see.

I have to admit, I thought Obama was going to double down on education funding too. It remains one of my biggest disappointments in him that he did not, but perhaps we'll get some positive change in 2016 (or at least we can hope for that change).

Anonymous said...

(1) My wish for the district is for them to drop the farce this is "parent/family engagement." They have no intention on authentically following through on such a commitment. Plus, it's virtually impossible to define and, therefore, impossible to authentically follow through on. And even if they could define it, I'm not sure parent engagement should even be a goal of the district --- it merely pulls the district in disparate directions rather than focusing on the basics.

(2) My wish for the state is for certain members of the legislature to realize that they are not education experts, regardless of how long they sat on a school board or an education committee. There needs to be much more deference to practitioners and education research. We don't need full-time legislators continually mismanaging state education policy because they think they know best despite any real background in education.

(3) My wish for the nation is to finally put this debate over the Common Core to rest and get down to the business of teaching and learning. Congress and the US Dept of Education needs to support quality education research and to fund best practices supported by that research.

--- swk

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