Tuesday Open Thread

The Onion takes a look at how to fix our nation's schools.  It's barely tongue-in-cheek but takes a fairly good swipe at corporate ed reform.

The Times had an article about how Seattle is first in the nation for kids living with both parents.  This is not altogether surprising to me.  I recall (and this was more than a decade ago) that my son's elementary class (this was a Spectrum class) had 32 students and yet there were only two divorced parents.  That seemed an anomaly to me at the time but perhaps not. 

It was also a bit of an odd article as it seemed to define intact families with conservatism (and how did liberal Seattle end up this way) via a non-traditional bridal blogger.   

But I also looked up the cities with the lowest kid population because I had been quoting San Francisco as having the lowest, then Seattle.  Turns out that has changed according to Forbes in Feb. 2014.  Pittsburgh has the lowest "youth population" followed by Tampa-St. Petersburg.  San Francisco is 7th and Seattle doesn't even make the top 10.

What's on your mind?


Ragweed said…

The graph on page 2 (in the actual Newspaper) tells most of the story - families with children living with both parents correlates heavily with income. Cities like Seattle and San Francisco are very high income and so there are more children with both parents. While it is not clear the direction of causality (do lots of single-parents lower income, or does poverty increase divorce, or a feedback loop), it does seem that this is another impact of skyrocketing tech incomes in Seattle (along with out-of-control rent increases and decreasing diversity).

A couple of years ago, I did some analysis of the SPS data reports, comparing test scores to demographic variables such as race, FRL% etc. It was never a complete or thorough study, but one of the things I did notice was that "children not living with both parents" was correlated very strongly with lower test scores. The correlation was almost as strong and in some cases stronger than FRL%. It also co-varied strongly with FRL% so again the causality is not entirely clear, but I was surprised at how strong and indicator it is.
Ragweed, if there were one thing I would change, it is the number of children starting out their lives with single parents. The correlation between poverty and educational outcomes is striking.

How you address this issue would be a big question and one that is beyond the influence of public education.
Anonymous said…

Where have I heard this before?


Anonymous said…
OSPI just ruled in CC 14-70 that Roosevelt High School violated FAPE for over 130 students. Roosevelt forced students to attend learning lab without providing SDI. The district will have to review the IEPs and make schedule changes and possibly be on the hook for over 10,000 hours of compensatory education.

All SPS high schools where ordered last year to STOP this practice and for staff to attend the training outlined in CC 13-60 corrective action. Roosevelt staff signed off on the training and agree to stop the violations as did the other high schools.

There are only 5 months left to implement the C_CAP and now SPS gets nailed with this type of violation, unbelievable. BTW there will be similar CCs filed in the next weeks against all schools who have learning labs or studies skills classes.

OSPI awards compensatory education at $75.00 per hour so this could end up costing SPS over one million dollars if parents choose to exercise their full rights under IDEA.

SPS first needs to fire Brian Vance, then Sherry Studley and finally Michael Tolley.

Can't wait to hear Nyland explain this problem away.

joanna said…
I suggest caution with the advocacy for non-single parent families as it is more complicated than it first appears. First I know a number of high achieving students from single parent families. Also this could be misused to encourage a parent in an abusive relationship to remain for the sake of the kids. I am assuming that this is based on whether the parents are married or what is reported. It probably happens more often in low income families where people are struggling, but there are some two parent families where the parents are not married and the second parent is not reported at that address for any number of reasons. It would have to have much broader research in order to determine relevance. I suspect that many lower income single parents have been priced out of living in Seattle and that in part accounts for the high number and percentage of children in 2 parent households.
cmj said…
This is a little old, but Youth Ambassadors did an activity where older students gave their mentees graduation caps to get them to think about graduation and coming to school every day. 9th grade students wrote their goals on the inside of the cap.

I think this would be a good art project for late elementary/middle school students. Have students make caps out of cardboard and stiff paper and decorate the mortarboards like some high school graduates do. It's artsy and might get them focused on graduation and their careers.
Lynn said…
McLanahan and Sandefur (1994) summarize the research by writing: Children who grow up in a household with only one biological parent are worse off, on average, than children who grow up in a household with both of their biological parents, regardless of the parents’ race or educational background, regardless of whether the parents are married when the child is born, and regardless of whether the resident parent remarries.

I think if you read the research, you have to acknowledge that most children are better off being raised by both of their parents.

This is something we talk about with our kids. They have friends and family members being raised by single parents and they can see it's not something they'd want for their own children.
Huh? said…
We've switched to neighborhood schools. Why is the district advertising prek enrollment and "choice"?

"Kindergarten Early Enrollment Events at 10 Elementary Schools

... no matter what school you live near and submit your registration form. You can enroll anytime in person at the John Stanford Center. For more information, click here.

To apply for a school outside your attendance area, please
submit a Choice Form between Feb. 23 - March 6

Anonymous said…
Huh? - sps offers many option schools - that is the choice

Anonymous said…
Michael, do you have a link to that finding? Every high/middle school has study skills classes, where sped students receive extra support. It's where many accommodations are implemented, like extra time. I believe Sealth has a class called, IEP. Hale has a mandated SS class for anybody with an IEP. Its even in their catalogue. BHS has SS, not mandated, but necessary if you want need extra time for example.

"OSPI just ruled in CC 14-70 that Roosevelt High School violated FAPE for over 130 students."

When was this? Michael, it's fine to post info but you need to provide accurate and complete info.
Anonymous said…
Michael - here's what OSPI says about CC-13-60. No. It doesn't say there can't be study skills classes. It just says they've got to include the parents on a change of placement decision(duh). The district can provide study skills classes that are as lame as they like - so long as they pretend to be teaching something. So, next time, they'll tell you about their study skills class at the IEP meeting. Pretty simple. And not much of an impacting decision. Though I'm sure it felt good to get something. Typical OSPI - do nothing in the corrective action.


Summary of 13-60 From OSPI:

CONCLUSIONS AND ORDERS: The district substantiated that it considered the private evaluations for students A and B. The change in services in student A’s IEP occurred as a result of the school’s decision to modify the service delivery model and without the benefit of the parents’ participation. However, the district took steps to address this, and given the parents’ agreement to review the information resulting from the student’s reevaluation, no student specific corrective action were required to address the violation. The district was required to develop written guidance for staff at student A’s school, addressing the need for parent participation in IEP meetings when a service delivery model changes affect the amount and location of special education services for a student. The district was also required to provide documentation that it provided the same training for all district high school administrative and special education staff, that it provided at student B’s high school.
Anonymous said…
13-60 The parents filed a CC because the school forced the student in to a studies skills class where most of the students had behavioral issues. When the parents objected, the district told the parents it was illegal for the student to be at the school and not attend a studies skills class.

The parents prevailed in the CC and OSPI ruled that studies skills class was not appropriate for students unless SDI was provided by a certified instructor trained in the areas of service the student needs.

OSPI did not rule on student specific corrective actions because the parents revoked services.

There's also Memorandum issued by the general counsel to consider that was included.

To: Special Education Teachers & IEP Case Managers
From: BiHoa Caldwell, Interim Executive Director of Special Education
Andrea Schiers, Assailant General Counsel
Date: May 1, 2013
RE: Legal Guidance Regarding Implementation of IEP Services in the Special Education and General Education Settings.

Specially-Designed Instruction (SDI) must be provided during implementation of services(adapting the content, methodology or delivery of instruction). WAC 392-172A-01175(3)(c)SDI should align with then the general education content and focus on IEP annual goals.

There much more to it but you get the point.

This document was part of the training package the district agreed to provide to all the high schools. Each schools applicable staff members signed a document stating they had received the training and agreed De facto to STOP the practice of using studies skills type classes to IEP students unless SDI was provided according to the law.

Each high school provided OSPI with a sign in page to verify the District provided the training required. The staff from Roosevelt signed the sheet certifying they received the training. Those staff members are still there and in fact involved in using the Learning Lab in violation of the law.


Anonymous said…
CC decision 14-70 was issued on DEC 24 2014 by Gill.

Here's a small sample:


Based on the information provided by the District and the on-site investigation conducted by OSPI, the District did not substantiate that it consistently or routinely provides specially designed instruction for students attending the special education Learning Lab classes at Roosevelt High School. While the information provided by some of the high school's special education teachers indicates that specially designed instruction is provided to some students on a weekly, if not daily basis, the inconsistencies between the students' class schedules and the amount of services required in the students' IEPs makes it impossible to determine how the services provided by the District address the required services as stated in the students' IEPs.
Out of the 126 students at the District's Roosevelt High School who attended a special education Learning Lab class, OSPI reviewed 24 of those students IEPs and class schedules. 22 of those students are discussed, 21 discrepancies between the current IEP and class schedules show 13 students' IEP and class schedules show that the students spent more time in a special education setting than was indicated in their IEPs.8 students' IEPs and class schedules show that the students currently spend less time in a special education setting than indicated on their IEPs. Only one student reviewed currently spends the same amount of time in a special education setting as indicated in his IEP.

OSPI goes on to require SPS to review ALL IEPs at Roosevelt High School and basically describes LL as a "homework club" warehousing students with IEPs.

This is very bad for SPS first they have a breach and release all the IEPs for Roosevelt special education students now they are found to be fraudulent in their documenting services and service minutes.

Anonymous said…
Once again though, the only thing OSPI is doing.... is counting minutes and looking at location. Yes, good, but minimal. Not content. They never have any findings on content. Right. Study skills are indeed glorified homework club. But it's better than homework club, because homework actually gets done.

Whatever. I can tell you, every secondary school in the district has SS, or the equivalent.

Anonymous said…
Never before have I seen OSPI actually visit a Seattle public school when investigating a CC.

OSPI has presented a decent decision in CC 14-70 that parents can use to claim compensatory services.In the case where students are put in to Learning Lab for substantially more minutes there is cause for a civil rights complaint and suit.

It takes parents or guardians to drive allegations to a meaningful result. OSPI will not search out violations on your behalf. OSPI will not force the district to write you a check for compensatory services without a specific complaint by you.

I'm impressed with the work now coming out of OSPI. They are doing what they can. Now it's up to parents to actually do their part. I'm not talking about going to PTA meetings or SEEAC meetings those two groups can not solve individual issues. You need to file very specific evidence based complaints with OSPI.

For 2015 let's have less whining and more action! The CC process is extremely easy to use and fast,
start using it!

Madman Gates said…
The International District will get a charter school, and Gates provides $4M for building.


Anonymous said…
How stupid is Roosevelt High Schools staff to pull a stunt like this? I keep hearing from people how well RHS does special ed, really?

Wasn't it Roosevelt's issues that led to the massive data breach?

When will the stupidity end with these clowns. These continuing SpEd issues are going to destroy any remanding moral left at SPS.

Anonymous said…
Lynn, did you read the paper that you referenced? The author himself was raised in a SP household and his paper is a critique of research regarding children from SP(single parent) homes.

I'm saddened you discuss how awful SP households are with your own children.

I'd encourage anyone to read the paper Lynn referenced, it's actually quite sympathetic to SP families.


Lynn said…
paperwhite - you're putting words in my mouth. I was raised by only one of my parents. It's perfectly appropriate for me to share my feelings about that experience with my children. I am encouraging them not to have children until they are able to support them and provide them with stability.

As for the paper, the author suggests we should study single parent families to find the factors that increase the likelihood their children will be academically successful. That's a great idea - because there are lots of children being raised by single parents. Why wouldn't we simultaneously encourage our young people to put off parenthood until they have the resources and skill set to do a good job of it?
Anonymous said…
You know stats just drive me nuts. Probably because they leave me with more questions than answers. And this kind of study just irritate me along the same line as is working mom better than non working mom? Or tiger parenting more effective? What the...? Can't we stick with funding disease eradication research or better family value judges?

There's a lot to consider before throwing out societal value judgement regarding which is better. And why the judgement? Is that helpful? Should that put pressure on couples to stay married instead of divorcing? Or adopt out kids if not married? Or abort? If widowed, get married again for children's sake?(Brings back memories of watching school auction committee seating all the single parents together at one table. Couldn't figure out the point of that, especially for the newly divorced. Awkward and rather mean.)

Finally IF you are going to put a judgement value on this type of thing, just to be kind, shouldn't there be some excuse clause like being widowed, being in an abusive relationship, being abandoned, spouse on 2 year deployment which makes you THE parent, falling in love with someone else and bigamy is still against the law (that one probably is a bit thin), etc. ?


cmj said…
TGIF wrote There's a lot to consider before throwing out societal value judgement regarding which is better. And why the judgement? Is that helpful?

We have a bunch of research that says that kids are generally better off when raised by two parents. (Yes, there are also very good reasons why some kids should not be raised by both parents, such as an abusive parent.) We are better off acknowledging it. We are capable of acknowledging the fact without publicly shaming single parents. (Yes, seating single parents together at a PTA meeting is a bad idea.)

Consider teen parents (though it's not a perfect analogy). Children of teen parents are generally worse off than children of older parents. So what should we do? Make teenage parents go around wearing scarlet 'T's on their clothing? No, of course not. We tell kids not to become teen parents. We tell them that having a child as a teen will likely disrupt their education and that kids are extremely expensive. But, if they become pregnant or impregnate someone, then we support them. We remember that people that make mistakes. We remember that not all sex is consensual. We offer on-site child care where we can and where it's most needed. We try to be sensitive to their needs -- such as not refusing restroom breaks to pregnant girls during class. Beating them over the head with condemnation won't help them or their kids -- supporting them will.

We can offer advice without heaping condemnation.
Anonymous said…
The article about SP families criticizes researchers for not exploring the benefits of SP households as well the emphasis on poor SP households. The author does not know his birth father is trying to show the problems with the body of research currently available.
I would also direct readers to this new paper on the effects of fast food on learning. 20% drop in scores.


And yes Lynn, you do disparage SP families and its not nice. My kid has friends from all kinds of parental situations and we never judge any as superior, because none are. They have a parent or many parents of various genders and orientations and it would never cross our minds to comment on one type of family structure being better.

Anonymous said…
The author of the paper Lynn mentions references to resilience as a quality that is little studied but which is an attribute of children from single parent homes. As noted, the author is from a single parent home and knows first hand the pros and cons. He seems to believe the studies that have been done are not very comprehensive or useful for making conclusions.

Anonymous said…

"Madman Gates said...
The International District will get a charter school, and Gates provides $4M for building.


Yes, the fact that it is a Gates-funded initiative is buried in the piece.
An "interesting"news....the website tells us that this is a school where kids will be "constantly assessed". What does this mean?

--OldSchool Music
cmj said…
Tony wrote The author of the paper Lynn mentions references to resilience as a quality that is little studied but which is an attribute of children from single parent homes. (bold mine)

If I'm reading you correctly, you're saying that Barajas is saying that most or all children from SP families are resilient. That wasn't my reading of Barajas's article. To me, he said that resiliency might show up in SP families and needs to be studied more.

Barajas made a good point that there are many kinds of SP families and that researchers have largely ignored the ramifications of that in their studies: "Researchers have often failed to identify the reason for
parental separation. When the reasons have been accounted for, evidence has shown marital breakdown to be associated with the most negative outcome and parental death to be associated with the least negative outcome."

Here are the things that I would say to young people:
- finish high school. You will make so much less money if you don't.
- children are incredibly expensive.
- until you are ready for children and want children, please, please, please use birth control when sleeping with someone of the opposite sex. Think condoms are expensive? Try child support for 18 years. Heck, try daycare for the first five years.
- parenting is easier with a partner. For one, having the option of two incomes for one household makes life less stressful. That being said, don't stay with an abusive partner for the sake of the kids.
- life isn't over if you make a mistake or life throws a curveball at you.
Anonymous said…
Expensive but until you pay for college, pretty manageable and folks who read this blog's children all go college.

As far as two beng better than one, many times not true. Not true in many endeavors including parenting. Some single parents do quite well and enjoy building a support network for their children with other than a live in spouse type person.
As usual money grease the wheels and makes it awhile lot easier. Poverty is what keeps kids from graduating and contrary to popular belief, schools can educate and socialize children despite a dis functional environment outside of school. Schools are the only way to change the wealth imbalance. Educational level is the main division between economic groups and is used to maintain a class separation. When educational outcomes are equal between all students, there will be equal and fair economic opportunities. Outcomes, not just access.


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