Tuesday Open Thread

A reader points out an interesting issue to the Nyland version of the early signing of the Gates Foundation grant.

"I was checking out the agenda for the board mtg on Wed. and went to the technology document that was added.  It was sent from Nyland on Sept. 18, and section II clearly states that board action is necessary because the amount of money being addressed exceeds 250K.

Kinda weird that the Gates grant flew through afterwards, with no board approval beforehand.  If Nyland wrote the memo himself there is just no excuse."

So Nyland knew (or whoever wrote that BAR under his name) on Sep. 18th that any spending over $250K needed Board approval.  And yet, on September 26th, he signed the Gates Foundation grant for $750K and seemingly did not know this.  


Looks like National PTA is getting in deeper with Gates/Microsoft - this is a tweet from one of the national heads:

"Great day with  advocates at  offices. Learned a lot about data privacy in education. Back at it tomorrow AM. -MLE"

I actually am hoping to talk to the head of Microsoft IT because he has said some promising things to the press.  But, of course, those pesky details.

What's on your mind?


New threads said…
If I could put in a couple requests for new threads, I'm wondering about a couple things and would love to see more discussion of them if you, Charlie and Melissa, think they're also likely to be of broad interest.

First, as a supporter of McLaren, I'm dismayed by her recent statement about Nyland. It's not about her support for Nyland, which is fine, even if I might disagree on that. It's about her fawning statement, which I think shows she no longer views the Board as being a check on administrative power and intended to serve in a supervisory and questioning role. So, my questions here are, am I right that this is a change? Am I right that it is concerning? What caused McLaren to change? And does new electing board members make any difference if they just become captured and stop serving as a check-and-balance?

Second, on Nyland, I'm wondering about why he is acting the way he is acting. Is he a figurehead? A supporter of the reform movement who sees his job as to push an agenda? Or is he just too trusting of his staff and advocacy organizations at this point, but may eventually learn to be more questioning? In particular, I had some hope that Nyland might come in and focus on getting the administration's house in order, particularly focusing on the basics of efficiency, budget, and legal and policy compliance, but he does not seem to be doing that, and I am wondering why. Is it that he doesn't believe it is important and never will? Or that he has been told it is not important by people he currently trusts, but might eventually change his mind?
Unknown said…
Learn about opting out of standardized testing: what it is and how to do it.

Join us this Thursday, December 11 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Harbor Pointe Coffeehouse (2818 East Madison Street 206-420-1187)

Seattle Opt-Out of Standardized Tests Meeting
Watching said…
Computer delivery will cost taxpayers $41K.(!) I hope this cost can be negotiated.

$14K for prek junket + $41K for computer delivery= Cost Garfield Teacher.
Yuck said…
Nyland signed the Gates Grant for $750K on September 26th.

Below you will find the Sept. 3rd $300K BEST Grant, which required board approval. Nyland's name is on the document:

Watching said…
I received something from Education Voters. They are connected to League of Education Voters. Is LEV trying to rebrand themselves?
mirmac1 said…
Carmen Rahm with Technology is the one who bemoaned having to go to the board for anything over $250K, claiming that he had personal signing authority for more than that.

ALL the public agencies I've worked with have similar limits to SPS. But apparently Nyland and staff think it shouldn't apply to them.

Pottergate and reformed practices of contracting, review and approvals happened just three years ago. How quickly district leaders and suits forget.

How about we educate staff on laws and procedures before they're hired, rather than worrying about educating/(recruiting) board candidates on rubberstamp governance.

Beware the latest Our Schools Coalition (cough, A4E gambit)
Anonymous said…
I guess I don't see what the deal is with some oversight on committing taxpayer dollars to big projects. It's only prudent. Its what happens at most government agencies. At least all the ones I ever worked for.

And yes, you'd think "Pottergate" would strike a bell or two.

If you don't want to have such checks/balances, don't work for a government agency. Pretty simple. But since you do, STOP WHINING!!!

Anonymous said…
Yuck - I'm not sure what you're trying to call out there. Of course his name is on the action report, it always is whenever an item is coming from staff. That's standard. His name is nowhere on any of the attachments. Please point fingers where there is something to point out.

just sayin'
mirmac1 said…
Sorry, meant to say Rahm had higher signing limits on his previous job.
Charlie Mas said…
The idea that Dr. Nyland isn't responsible for a document with his name on it is offensive. Even if he didn't write the document, he needs to know what people are doing in his name.
Maje said…
I have a question about what happens when new students come to SPS mid-year. We're at HW K-8 and both my kids have had new students join their classes since 10/1. Would SPS have added them if there had been a waiting list? I can't find the waiting list info, so I don't know if there were families waiting.

I'm curious to know if those families on the waiting list are out of luck, but new families could still get in.
Anonymous said…
Can someone tell me if Hale will have two or three portables next year? Does anyone know where they plan on placing the additional portable(s)?

Anonymous said…
Can anyone share why there appears to be no movement on a middle school and high school math adoption? At least anything that I have heard of? Is this not a priority? How long will it not be a priority? Kids are going to have whiplash going from Math In Focus to CMP in the transition to middle school. Can anyone share anything on the status of this?

Po3 said…

Couple of weeks ago I mentioned that it seems like all focus in on PreK and now the super. So I wouldn't look for much in the way of meaningful curriculum engagement anytime soon.
mirmac1 said…
By the way, a big change re: procurement signature authority matrix after MGJ and friends was the requirement that Asst Supts, then Ken Geotsch review/approve contracts, MOUs and grants up to 100K. So Tolley and Geotsch were "hornswaggled" too gosh darnit! The district webpage does not list Wright anywhere on the matrix.

Watching said…
I've always thought that administrators have to much spending authority. Last check, $250K was a lot of money and it is quite easy for a single individual to spend millions of dollars. At the end of the day, the board must balance the budget.

If anything, spending authority should be lowered, and processes streamlined.

Since the pre-k junket, I"ve not been thrilled about providing administrators with tax dollars and $250K spending authority. I'm also tired of dollars exiting classrooms.
Anonymous said…
You should know there's a challenge brewing over CMP2 and students with dyslexia. CMP2 by its high linguistic load structure discriminates against students with dyslexia. The new proposed state SDI rules will not bode well CMP2.

If your student has an IEP and a diagnosis of dyslexia you should in writing request a non-linguistic heavy math curriculum to your IEP case manager. Watch them dance around the subject.

Eric B said…
Charlie, I'm going to agree and disagree with you on whether Nyland should know what's in a document with his name on it. This really depends on the organization and what is being signed.

On the disagree side, let's rip from the headlines. Cables from the State Department in DC are traditionally signed with the Secretary of State's name. Should Clinton have known that there was a cable reducing the security presence in Benghazi? Probably not reasonable; that's why she has subordinates.

Here's where I agree. That example doesn't apply to this situation. This situation would be more like Clinton not reading a policy proposal before it went to Congress. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that Nyland would read the Board Action Report and the executive summary for every item on the agenda before it goes out. If nothing else, a good administrator doesn't want to be surprised when he's on the dais at the meeting.

I don't expect him to read everything that goes out with his name on the letterhead. But BARs aren't that much to ask. One would also think that he would have paid attention in the board meetings when the $250K figure was read.
english must go! said…
Nyland lies. Get over it. How much we don't know.

Thanks Micheal "If your student has an IEP and a diagnosis of dyslexia you should in writing request a non-linguistic heavy math curriculum to your IEP case manager. Watch them dance around the subject."

I love a good dance.
mirmac1 said…

State’s first charter school in disarray

Lynn said…
Wow - sometimes it seems this region really isn't very large. First Place has a new interim principal - Linda Whitehead. Dr. Whitehead was the superintendent of the Marysville School District until she was replaced in 2004 by Dr. Larry Nyland.

Here's an article on the opening of the school. There's a familiar face in the picture - Wyking Garrett of Africatown Consulting. What's his role in the school?
Marly said…

SPS needs to take over certification in Seattle. This situation sounds criminal from reading the Times article.Where are Bezos and the Gates' now?

Real children are suffering thanks to their ability to force their theories about education on the population at large.

Charlie Mas said…
After a certain date - I think it's September 30- the waitlists are thrown out. After that, school enrollment is on a case-by-case basis. So a child who is number 17 on the waitlist on September 30 can approach the school on October 4 and ask "Do you have room for me?" If the school has room, then the kid is enrolled without regard to the sixteen other students who were ahead of that student on the waitlist.

Some schools don't accept transfers after a certain date and the District can prohibit transfers if they want to. The District used to disallow transfers to NOVA at the semester break for no clear reason.
Anonymous said…

New students are taken, year-round, at attendance area schools. If a new kid shows up who lives within the attendance area, the school is obligated to take him/her, due to the assignment plan, even if there isn't really "room," and class sizes are at 30+ (for elementary).

Funny thing though, staffing at assignment schools is usually kept very tight, with just enough teachers to cover the October 1st enrollment, and not much wiggle room to accommodate kids who show up mid-year.

As Charlie points out, as an option school, Hazel Wolf can say "sorry, we don't have room for your child." But, from the October 1st numbers, it looks like there is room at HW at most grades, even after the wait lists were moved.

Since Hazel Wolf escaped having to lose a teacher, despite being significantly under-enrolled, it seems as though there should be adequate staffing in the building to accommodate new students who arrive mid-year.

- reality check
Dana said…
I keep thinking about the data breach and the reference to links in the documents. My assumption is that the links are supposed to link back to the SPS database and that is how the information was revealed, not that the information was altogether sent. Does that seem correct to anyone's memory?

If the revelation was via links, then my question is what kind of security is SPS using for its database? The links should have been denied or, at the very least, a username and password screen should have been registered, not a direct link to student information in the database.

I think this goes back upon SPS. Not only did they release the data, but they did not have due diligence in protecting the database of information in the first place.
Anonymous said…
The fact that Peaslee and McLaren ran on community engagement as the foundation of their campaigns then abandoned it on their most important duty - hiring the super - with an announcement that "we know better" forever stains their legacy as board members.

No matter if they run again or not or whether Nyland's good or not. At the end of the day they didn't uphold their stated core belief.

Quite the opposite. They abandoned it publicly and unapologetically. That's called morally bankrupt.

Tis the season for bah humbug.

Anonymous said…
Speaking of student data, Education Week has an article on ConnectEDU and its bankruptcy. Director Peters is quoted.

Millions of Student Records Sold in Bankruptcy Case

--- swk
mirmac1 said…

The "links" were to embedded attachments like xls or pdf files.

SPS has a firewall that requires login for MOST of its operations. That is why we are kept in the dark on basic stuff like procedures and reference info.
mirmac1 said…
Thanks for that info swk
Unknown said…
Kudos to Director Peters for taking a strong stand on the ConnectEdu data issue.

What's the status on any legislation in WA state like the legislation passed in California to protect student information that is in the hands (and databases) of vendors. Are there any proposals that anyone is aware of?
Anonymous said…
From the KPLU coverage of the superintendent hiring:

"We have someone who has, on his own initiative, given a diagnosis on the district's health issues, proposed a very well-thought-out plan and galvanized staff behind him... and he figures two and a half years would give him a good start on doing that. Why would we say we'd only give him a year and a half?" McLaren said during board discussion last week. "That makes no sense to me."

What plan is Director McLaren referring to?

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Front page of the times and SPS website - Z McWilliams has resigned.

Anonymous said…
Yes, McWilliams resigned. SPS could not pin anything on her without indicting themselves. Isn't it always like that at JSCEE?

Wyeth Jessee has been slipped into the Exec Dir role with little feedback from parents and advocates. SpEd central is back to its bad ole ways.

Anonymous said…
To add on to North-end Mom's comment, what exactly are his "diagnoses on the district's health issues"? My impression was that he answered a lot of questions with "I'm new, I don't know" (or shrugs), so how is it that he does know enough in detail to diagnose all that ails us? Or are we talking more broad, obvious diagnoses?

Also, is it necessarily a good thing if he has "galvanized staff behind him"? I have a feeling that refers primarily to JSCEE staff, and it seems like a lot of the problems we have originate there. If he's about insulating them, removing external oversight, etc., staff may like it, but will we?

Half Full
Been there said…
That is some oversight! That kind of violation of a spending threshold is reason to toss a steward of the public trust out on his ear. It will be a serious issue in the school district's next audit. It could have ramifications for the school district's bond rating. Breathtakingly dumb.
Anonymous said…
Wow! That was fast. Just received this email.

At a Special Meeting of the Board on December 10, Dr. Larry Nyland was approved by a vote of 5 to 2 to serve as the next Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.
Dr. Larry Nyland was appointed by the Board in August to serve as Interim Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, through June 30, 2015. This motion allows for the Board President to negotiate a Superintendent contract with Dr. Nyland through June 30, 2017. A completed contract is expected to be brought to the Board for approval at its January 7 meeting.
He has 40 years of experience in public education having worked in Pasco, Highline, Shoreline, and Marysville school districts.

Office of Public Affairs

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Wilson Pacific, Wilson Pacific, Wilson Pacific. An update is long overdue. Parents of kids entering middle school need to know how the construction delay will impact us.

Before the delay my 5th grader's path looked like this:

Whitman MS or Hamilton APP for 6th grade, Interim WPMS at John Marshall for 7th and WPMS for 8th grade.

But now that the construction has been delayed, what are we looking at?

And is Salmon Bay MS an option anymore?
mirmac1 said…
Sue Peters gave a bravura performance - showing her strong commitment to consensus, and living up to promises to count the customers (students and parents) and constituents as full partners.

The other five struck me as saying "we know better than you. We can say one thing then do another and there's nothing you can say or do to sway us because we know better." I even had one look me in the eye and proclaim that special education was getting better. If that means more inert bodies downtown who know absolutely nothing about living up to the promise of IDEA and civil rights - well then I guess she's right.

The five cited "strong support" from "community organizations, PASS, SEA *cough* jonathan knapp, and central staff." Parents and families? We're chopped liver, apparently.

Serious. I saw the majority reminiscent of the drone/ambassador MGJ board as styled in the 1984 Apple commercial. And Sue Peters track star chucks the hammer at the latest manifestation of the "Big Brother" A4E/ OSC/MGJ "governance" board. The board that turned its back on the great unwashed public who are only "in it for their kid"

Except this version not only has mindless drones, it's also Big Brother droning on about how the uninformed just don't understand and are not worthy of listening to. Well, I think even us uninformed dolts know when they're being told to talk to the hand.

Serious. I'm not so opposed to the man (although I'm not inspired), rather the utter arrogance that radiates from the dais. Have there been the claimed miraculous changes in the last 4 months? Well, I've seen alot of deck chair shuffling on the deck of the Titanic, nothing concrete in buildings. Near all admitted that they had absolute zip data to base their certitude - but I guess that only applies to teachers expected to fend for themselves and just get those "growth" ratings, baby!

The rest of us are expected to flail and beat the iron gates with our spindly fists - to try and reach equal cred as the "community organizations" who remain unnamed but we know who they are and who they own.
Anonymous said…
Board vote: result exactly as Melissa predicted last week.
Anonymous said…
2Tweet tonight from "Teachers United" unfortunately received via SPS. Confirms, no reason to hope this might have been a reasonable students first choice...

#TU commends @seapubschools on move to bring stability to district and congratulates Dr. Nyland http://sta.cr/81U1 #waedu

And BTW the link doesn't work -- you need to upgrade your tech TU.

Anonymous said…
What happened at the Queen Anne meeting? Did cooler heads and warmer hearts prevail?

Not Funny said…
There was one person that missed the meeting--Jonathan Knapp.

What happened with the "survey"? Was there a survey that was done, today?

Knapp was hiding.
NW parent said…
Saw a little bit about the QA meeting on the news last night. Looked like it devolved into yelling at one point. Was anyone there who can report in?
Rufus X said…
A friend attended, sent me a synopsis of and takeaways from the meeting. Won't post the whole thing here, but it sounds like the most vocal and confrontational (my words, not the friend's) part of the Q&A was within the first few minutes of it and then the tone dialed back to civil.
Anonymous said…
Article and pictures from the News:

Anonymous said…
Don't fall for the news coverage. A couple of excitables. Majority of people were civil, calm, and appeared to be supportive of the school. I'm not sure why the reporters from KOMO and KING didn't show more positive comments and interactions. Weird news editing.

Anonymous said…
The comments attached to the KOMO story are different than I expected, and heartening. 95 percent of the commenters are supportive and welcoming of the Interagency school. It isn't just this blog's readers who perceived the outraged Queen Anne set as navel-gazing elitists!. So glad to see their gated community attitude smacked down.


mirmac1 said…
"I'm not sure why the reporters from KOMO and KING didn't show more positive comments and interactions."

Glad to hear saner minds prevailed.

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