Tuesday Open Thread

The Taliban stormed a school in Pakistan today and killed about 140 people, the majority children. 

Is there really a special place in heaven for "martyrs?"  Then the corollary must also be true - there's a special place in hell for those who kill children. 

We learn the fate of First Place charter school today since the Charter Commission rejected their corrective plan.  Apparently, there will now be negotiations over what needs to be done to keep it open.  It would seem that if this is happening this early on, that perhaps the school was opened too quickly. 

Governor Inslee announced his plan for K-12 public education funding during the next legislative session.  He gave the "what" - $2.3B - but not the "where" as in, where to get the money (that comes on Thursday).  He wants:
  • paying for full-day K (by 2016-2017)
  • smaller class size in K-3 (by 2016-2017)
  • increase basic education funding to cover school operations
  • raises for teachers
  • drop-out prevention for middle/high school
  • job training and pre-apprenticeships at community colleges
He also said that investing in early childhood education could be the best thing to do to improve graduation rates.  

For higher ed, he wants tuition to stay steady for at least two years and more money for college scholarships.

He did say he would not support repeal of 1351 but seems to only support it for K-3. 

What's on your mind?


Watching said…
What is going on with payroll? District documents indicate that there is a lack of legal oversight?

In the past, there were enormous audit findings within the payroll department.

Channeling Ron English.
Anonymous said…
Where were Burgess and Murray last week? In DC, apparently hoping for a big fat photo opportunity and resume accolades by getting their pictures taken with Obama when this year's DOE grants were handed out for early childhood education.

Problem is, we were not deemed worthy. According to the Times, 36 states applied, half got grants. We were in the losing set.

Sorry that we don't have more money for our children, but find it funny that Murray and Burgess had to slink home without the brass ring. Suddenly I understand why the push in the fall for passing Seattle's PreK levy. Never underestimate a pol's desire for a feather in the cap.

And let readers of this blog never, never, never forget that Murray did less than nothing for education when he led in Olympia. Don't trust his newfound "It's for the kids!" farther than I can throw him. As for Burgess, can't get over the idea that he's trying to position himself as an ed guru as a backup in case he loses his city-wide election next year. Don't know what would be worse: Keeping him on Council or letting him pull strings behind the scenes with the Gates Foundation set. Equally unappealing.

Anonymous said…
Speaking of sleazy photo ops, Gov. Inslee's big reveal of his education budget yesterday was laughable. Absolutely nothing novel in his ideas and zero guidance around funding mechanisms, which of course is the biggest problem needing resolution. Go look at his 'proposal' and let his office and the media know he got an F. It's like he had his junior, junior policy maker throw something together over a long weekend.

The republican candidate for guv. would have been bad for public ed, but boy - Inslee is one weak dog on education. He's too busy tilting at (solar) windmills.

Transparency Please said…
Thanks for the link, District Watcher.

Interesting to note that Murray and Burgess were flanked by Dow Constantine.

Perhaps the feds realized that Burgess's and Murray's plan is half baked. Where are they going to put 2,000 kids with $8M for capital projects. No worries: Burgess told voters that space within SPS was not required.

Murray and Burgess were all puffed-up because they passed 1B. Meanwhile, Murray sponsored BERTHA legislation and Burgess supported this plan.

Very likely that the state will fund early leaning with millions and millions of dollars. It will be interesting to see where these dollars land.

It is worth remembering that the city has $53M via 1B and $60M Family and ed. dollars to provide 2000 children with preschool.
Eric B said…
Hamilton Principal Cindy Watters sent a letter home yesterday saying that she is leaving at the end of the year to go to a school in Singapore. The letter said that the Hamilton BLT and PTSA would have input into the new hire process.

I hope the "students should not be crying over homework" rule sticks with the new principal.
Anonymous said…
I wish her the best in her new endeavors.

As far as a "students should not be crying over homework" rule, which has been translated into little or no homework for some classes, it can lead to crying over homework in high school when students haven't learned how to handle the work load and manage their time.

Also, no homework means a lot less material gets covered, adding to the stress in high school when it is assumed material has been covered.

differing opinion
Anonymous said…
Small fire at Whitman today ... school hasn't sent out any information to parents and the office has the phones on voice-mail.

N by NW
Anonymous said…
Gov. Inslee's senior education policy advisor is Marcie Maxwell. While Marcie is a nice person and well thought of within the Democratic caucus, her education experience consists of sitting on the Renton school board and the House education committee. She's never worked in schools or for a school district.

Gov. Inslee's proposals are simply recycled ideas. Nothing new to see here, folks.

--- swk
TechyMom said…
I'm glad Inslee treating education as an important goal. I don't think we need new ideas. We have plenty of ideas. We need money, plain and simple, to implement old and proven ideas.

OTOH, I'm underwhelmed with the focus on P-3. Our classes are much too big at every grade. Class size may not impact test scores, bit it impacts the experience of school: Whether everything is hurried, ability to customize to the interests of the class and differentiate for differing skill levels, interpersonal relationship building, and teacher burnout.
SWK, I agree with your assessment.

Techy Mom, I was watching 60 Minutes and they had a piece about being mindful every day (kind of taking a step away from everything including cell phones and breathing, kind of a meditation). They showed this in businesses and classrooms (Goldie Hawn has a similar program).

And all I could think was it would be GREAT to do this in classrooms but SPS can't even find the time for elementary kids to have a true lunchtime.

It is hard to know what SPS believes truly matters in the classroom.
Anonymous said…
Does anyone know what the Seneca Family of Agencies is doing for their $421,000 SPS is paying them?

I email JW and he told me to ask the PTA? WTF, since when does the PTA speak for the district.

Transparency Please said…
TfA and decreased recruitment:


Will Burgess/ Murray attempt to recruit TfA for their prek program?
Eric B said…
@Differing opinion, I saw the not crying rule as being more about deadlines being flexible and the load not being over 20 min/class/day. If teachers are interpreting that as no homework at all, then that's not a problem with the flexibility or time limits.

I also haven't seen nearly as much homework for the sake of homework at high school as I did at another middle school. I'm not sad about not getting that. Maybe homework should ramp up a bit in 7th and again in 8th grades, but the light 6th grade load is refreshing.
cmj said…
The Seattle Times had piece last week on school discipline in Kent. The students most likely to be suspended for bad behavior are also the most likely to be doing badly in school, and making them sit at home and miss class doesn't do them any favors. So Kent switched from out-of-school suspensions to in-school suspensions for as many infractions as they could. Not quite perfect, but better.

On recess:
What about shifting elementary school bus schedules earlier and having a half-hour exercise session before school started? Recess or even a jogging club?
-They'd have to rearrange bus schedules (potentially costly).
-They'd have to pay for playground monitors.
-It would be less effective than having a long recess in the middle of the day.
-It doesn't do kids much good if they've just walked to school, anyways.
-Kids, particularly those with ADHD/ADD, desperately need physical activity.
-It wouldn't affect the schedule of the school day as much as mid-day recess.
mirmac1 said…

based on what I heard today, the superintendent is looking for a holistic approach that will push forward the imperative of: the well-being of the child.

He can clearly see that throwing up the "chaos and confusion and so many other things" argument doesn't go far when it comes to placing children first.

The district has acknowledged that activity is important for children, and that buildings must hew to policy with regards to lunch. It's is up to them to satisfy their customer: students and families.
Anonymous said…
So much violence going on everywhere. Sad! I'm scared. Maybe school should focus on teaching kids how to get along and love each other instead of math, science... Money runs the world and until we change that, I think it will get more and more violent every day.
Anonymous said…
@MIRMAC: "The district has acknowledged that activity is important for children, and that buildings must hew to policy with regards to lunch. It's is up to them to satisfy their customer: students and families."

Sigh... if only. If only they wanted to satisfy the 'customers'. Not seeing it. Activity level is important for children. Who knew? How does cluttering the field with portables help that objective? What about Stevens? What about QAE? What about the 4 additional portables proposed for Laurelhurst, in violation of the zoning code? How does that let kids be activite if there is simply no place to play?

My ADD/ADHD child doesn't get PE per the WACs. The building is out of compliance with the minimum required minutes of PE, as are many K5s in the north. Why? Because you simply can't do through-put with that many kids and only 1 gym. He gets 2 weeks NO PE, then, in one week, he gets to get PE 3 times, then, another 2 weeks NO PE. That means in 5 weeks of school, he gets 3 gym visits. My other child, in a younger grade, gets a bit more PE BUT his class must double up with another class, so that there are nearly 60 kids in the gym at the same time. One K5 north of the ship canal now conducts PE in their cafetorium. They have no other choice. Guess those kids won't ever get to do basketball.

This District has big problems, and, very little empathy from the cabinet for the actual children. I get that resources are tight, but it is the Marie-Antoinette-Attitude I perceive from the powers-that-be that really gets under my skin. That is why Director McLaren's 'love letter' to Dr. Nyland makes my blood boil.

We parents/guardians and kids may be their 'market', but, they sure don't answer to us. We are a captive market, and, they know it. That is why they don't answer the phone when your bus is late by 30 mins and you need to know where you kid is. That is why poor Schmitz Park is heading into 17 portables. That is why SpEd is booted around to the least desirable seats. That is why they violate the law. There are no consequences. None. So yeah, little kids need a playground and need physical activity in order to learn, but I don't see any acknowledgement of that, let alone empathy or even remorse that that is not happening. Instead, I see smugness, remoteness, attitude and arrogance on the part of the cabinet members. Piling in lengthy, tricky computer tests for the Common Core state standards won't do a single thing to improve the experience or learning of any 8 year old in any third grade classroom. Making sure they got art/music and PE every week in every school, yes, that would help.

Teachers, thank you for showing up and doing your best for all kids every day. Thank you. Cabinet; you could all go away tomorrow and my kids would not notice. You really are that unimportant. Teachers, if you leave, there would not be school. You really are that important.


Anonymous said…
The "Departures Committee" for considering the District's request to the City's Department of Planning and Development to get an exception to land 4 MORE portables at Laurelhurst Elementary, in violation of the City's code for lot coverage maximums, is forming NOW.

December 17th is the deadline to submit a letter of interest to be considered for one of eight representatives on the City's School Design Departure Advisory Committee

Letters should be sent to Steve Sheppard at Steve.sheppard@seattle.gov or regular mail to:
Steve Sheppard
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
700 5th Avenue Suite 1700
PO Box 94649
Seattle, WA 98124-4649


(too many freakin' portables)
Lynn said…
I can't find the OSPI seat time rules the Superintendent keeps referring to when he talks about recess. The law defines instructional hours as inclusive of recess.

Does anyone know what he's talking about?
Lynn said…
I hate to promote anything coming out of the Washington Policy Center - but Liv Finne's written an editorial about Garfield's staffing issue.

I hear the solution they've come up with is for the teacher in each department with the least seniority to drop one class (and lose 20% of their pay) for the second semester. I'm wishing the PTSA had given parents the option of raising funds to cover the costs for one FTE for a half year instead. I understand the stand the staff is taking - but I feel for those teachers who are already at the bottom of the pay scale.
Po3 said…
From the Times editorial:

"The district has recently added 153 more administrative staff members, enough to add a new full-time teacher in every Seattle school."

Sigh said…
Portable buildings are being placed on Adams Elementary. The playground is literally disappearing.
Anonymous said…
The district obviously knows about the looming capacity crisis. We know that they do because playgrounds are being to be covered up all over the district.

In this new era of open communications and acknowledging that parents actually exist (no, I am not holding my breath), when is the district going to tell us the plans for fitting all the kids into buildings? Maybe there aren't any to tell? I know the district loves to create emergencies so that they can do whatever they'd like instead of what makes sense, so maybe they purposely aren't planning so that they can do just that.

My child is in 8th grade. From what I understand, the capacity issues will really hit when they are in 10th grade. I want to know what high school will look like for my kid. I know, that's a big expectation in this district.

-mince pie
Waste Time, I may use some of your comments in a thread.

Parents, you ARE the captive audience but you are very wrong if you think you have no power.

It's numbers that matter.
Anonymous said…
"Sigh said...
Portable buildings are being placed on Adams Elementary. The playground is literally disappearing."

Same at John Rogers. There are 5 portables this year, 2 more coming next year, and probably more the following year. The play surface is shrinking, as the number of kids increases.

- North-end Mom

mirmac1 said…
First question I have is:

What would families prefer?

Higher class ratios or more portables?

Where would more classroom space materialize before buildings are acquired/condemned/built? No one seemed to take to my recommendation that any buildings suitable for classrooms are ripe for emergency condemnation.

Anonymous said…
@ miramac 1

What would parents prefer?

Personally, I would have preferred that SPS took parents' concerns more seriously back when they were closing schools at the same time kindergarten classrooms were being added in some parts of town.

IMO, portables are better than losing the library, etc..., but they are not a long-term solution.

SPS needs to add more capacity. K-12 capacity...in real buildings.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Adams' PTA is advocating for an agreement with Parks for use of BCC's field for recess. I'm quite confused, I thought SPS and Parks already have this reciprocal sharing agreement. Is the problem liability issues?

We need portables with bathrooms for schools with lots of portables.

We MUST HAVE an impact tax for housing developers. If they are profiting from building a gazillion more housing units in Seattle, then they need to pay for the additional wear and tear on infrastructure: roads, sewer, water, garbage, schools, police, firemen, air/soil/water pollution, blocking of sun light, storms overflows turning Puget Sound into our personal sewer, traffic, collisions, longer and more dangerous commute around constructions all over the city, and and and...As it is now, we who already live here are paying ALL these additional expenses for them. Sigh, why do Americans allow big businesses to get away with not paying their share? If any business cannot survive without paying their expenses, then they should fail and make room for better companies. The whole rationale of the free market is that only the best, most competitive companies should be in each industry. Instead, we have been cowed into subsidizing businesses that can't survive on their own like any Communist country! All they have to do is yell, "Jobs", and everyone cringe and fall in line. How many jobs did Boeing keep here in exchange for the billions in taxes they got out of paying? Microsoft? Amazon? Vulcan? (Hee, I just typed Vulture).

Ballard has multi-units housing being built everywhere! They're going to need more schools. Ditto U District, Cap Hill, and soon Yesler Terrace, Roosevelt, SLU. It's getting so miserable driving through residential streets since there are big SUVs parked bumper to bumper on both sides, so cars can't even go down any block without someone having to back up! And why do people need to drive SUVs in a city where every inch of road is paved? Global warming, greenhouse gas, toxic pollution - any of these terms sound familiar? FYI, parents, SUVs' drivers can't see the under-5 set when backing up, the kids are too short. Many have been ran over by their parents and neighbors backing out of their garages.

We're turning into Colorado Springs with the SUVs, except they have better funded schools.

My head hurts
mirmac1 said…
I have advocated numerous times, to no avail, for invoking eminent domain and condemnation of SPS buildings previously sold or given away. It may be possible for a quick take of the property, before the final adjudication of just compensation for the current owner.
So Heads Hurt, one thing I would suggest for ALL voters - ask these hard questions to any and all City Council district candidates.

Like "what is your position on linkage fees, impact fees for developers?" "How can we increase density but keep livability?"

I'm asking those questions right now to candidates in my district.
Anonymous said…
I just had a very positive and productive 504 meeting with an elementary principal around specific learning disability. I've heard a lot of horror stories, but they are happy to do what we asked. Many of the in-class accommodations are already being done, without the paperwork being finalized, so I'm feeling pretty good about this getting implemented too. Just wanted to put that out there.

Name Redacted
mirmac1 said…
Wonderful Name Redacted. I too have had great interactions with my child's school administrators over the years. There are some great ones and some terrible ones. The latter must learn their responsibilities under the law.
Anonymous said…
Name Redacted, too bad this is not common for parents in SPS. There is a so much unprofessionalism and ignorance out there. More common is to get the fisheye from your kid's teacher just for asking.

Anonymous said…
@mirmac1 said...

First question I have is:

What would families prefer?

Higher class ratios or more portables?

My response? False premise!

It is NOT either/or. It is not portables for you to obscure your playground or else higher class sizes. (Class sizes, thank goodness, are controlled by the Collective Bargaining Agreement -- in other words, the teachers -- and thank goodness, because teachers are in front of the kids and get it. They understand the practical limits of too many kids, not enough teacher attention to go around to all...)

My answer? PLANNING! TRANSPARENCY! LISTENING! Not endless portable that haven't been planned for with specific intentional.

They know high school north is in peril. So plan for it! Be open and honest about what is happening. Ask families what they prefer: year round school or school in shifts. Tell West Woodland they are in peril; tell Ballard they are not enough classrooms to go around. Tell Queen Anne they don't have enough middle school capacity... See what their preference is to handle this so that planning can occur to mitigate the problem.

Facilities ?Planning?

Anonymous said…
I don't doubt that. Calling out the positive is something I'm working on in many aspects of my life, and this seemed like a great opportunity to give positive feedback for a job well done. Don't worry, I still have plenty of gripes with SPS ;)

Name Redacted
mirmac1 said…
Facilities ?Planning?

I suppose I should have said near term, within a year or two years. Where do we put the students? For those losing their playgrounds, I feel for you; I might have not been reading the blog when the immediate practical solutions were mentioned.
mirmac1 said…
Here is the joint use agreement with the City Parks department.

Anonymous said…
Broadview is sheltering in place due to police activity across the street -Greenwood and 132nd.

Thelma said…
The Seattle Times Editorial continues to bang the mayoral control drum.

Although this editorial comes from the Seattle Times, this piece sounds A LOT like one of our favorite legislators.

Thelma said…
The Seattle Times Editorial continues to bang the mayoral control drum.

Although this editorial comes from the Seattle Times, this piece sounds A LOT like one of our favorite legislators.

Patrick said…
The Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn't magically make more classrooms appear when there's no space. Classes continue to get bigger, the District just pays a bonus to the teachers with overfull classrooms. The bonus is small enough that there's no incentive from it for the District to knock themselves out trying to find more space.

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