Friday Open Thread

No new bids on the Federal Reserve building.

TWO bills from one Washington State legislator that would radically change Seattle Schools forever?  In one week?  And this is probably the most ed reform guy in the Legislature?  You don't have to wonder what the puppetmasters are up to. 

Great article on a letter that the Georgia State Superintendent sent to Arne Duncan. 

Georgia recently entered into a $108 million contract to deliver federally mandated standardized tests to our students. That figure does not include the millions of dollars spent to develop and validate test questions and inform the public about the new tests.

As a nation, we have surrendered time, talent, and resources to an emphasis on autopsy-styled assessments, rather than physical-styled assessments. 

Instead of a “measure, pressure, and punish” model that sets our students, teachers, and schools up for failure, we need a diagnostic, remediate/accelerate model that personalizes instruction, empowers students, involves parents, and provides real feedback to our teachers.

Testing must be a tool in our toolbox, but we need more rulers and fewer hammers.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Just sent out to JAMS families:

Dear Jane Addams Middle School families,
I’m writing to inform you of an incident that took place last night after our school dance. After the dance concluded I was assaulted by a group of teens. I am fine, just a little shaken. I called the police and filed a report.

It’s important that you know JAMS students were not involved in this incident. Several JAMS students were helpful and are assisting in the investigation of this incident.

The safety and security of our students and staff is our top priority. In response, the district is working with JAMS to increase security presence at future and after school events.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Paula Montgomery
Jane Addams Middle School

Anonymous said…
We were transferred to JAMS this year and let me preface this by saying the school, principal, teachers and classes are very good. Ms. Montgomery is wonderfully responsive to parents and kids.

However, my kid has said several times that she feels very unsafe there. I am still trying to monitor the situation and differentiate middle school angst and irritation from the facts but I put it out there.

JAMS parent
Anonymous said…
Anyone know when the 2015-16 school calendar will be finalized? I know it's part of the bargaining agreement with the teacher's union, but I can't find any indication of when the negotiations are supposed to conclude. It would be nice to know key dates at least, particularly since Labor Day is so late this year.

Voted NO1B said…

Seattle legislators are supporting Santos- Tomikos and Pettigrew's bill. With the exception of the governor, house and senate voting on this issue... I see no reason why other branches of government and governor would not support this proposal...especially since the Washington State Delegation is behind this effort. I am afraid this is a done deal.

Ed Murray is involved. As we predicted I' feel Ed Murray is using this opportunity to use prek to take control of Seattle Pubic Schools.

The picture is unfolding and without transparency.
Ada said…
I imagine this is addressed somewhere, but my Google-Fu failed me today.

I am the parent of a kindergartener. I think it is likely she will qualify for Spectrum, or perhaps APP. I am dismayed to find out that I have to file a school choice form before we receive results of her tests, "as if" she has qualified.

A few questions:
-are there any self-contained spectrum classrooms?
-is there any place (other than going individually to each schools' website) to find out what there spectrum program looks like?
-if we move to a new quadrant of Seattle (which will likely happen in April) -- how hard will it be to get into the appropriate APP program/spectrum program?

Thanks so much for the help. This seems like such a terribly disorganized process.

Ada said…
Oh my. I am so embarrassed to misspell their/there/they're in a question about Spectrum. Please forgive.
Anonymous said…
I'm looking for any precedence on this limiting of the size of districts. Seems unique and probably unconstitutional. What does Chopp & Co. want?
Is it the mayor appointment bill or something else.

I've heard a lot of calls on this blog for splitting the district, but who gets the downtown tax money? QA?

Somethings up in Olympia and Murray's in deep, he knows all those guys.

Are the poor getting the short end in SPS? Maybe if rich PTSA's would simply share like down in Portland we would look better,no, be better, and get the state off our back.

Just Fishin'
Anonymous said…

Check out the discussapp blog. All your questions are answered or will be quickly by very helpful and knowledgeable parents.
Also, email the AL office and see what they say. The problem is Al services are a moving target due to capacity issues and changes in delivery models.
Don't expect today to be tomorrow and as far as moving for consistent AL service, move to Shoreline. Life is so much less complicated there.
Hope that helps.

There is never such a thing as a done deal when it comes to legislation. We can always fight and stop it. Just takes a little bit more work sometimes.
Anonymous said…
JAMS parent,

Did your daughter say that she felt unsafe while in school during school hours, or more after hours around campus? Is there any more context you feel comfortable in providing?

A done deal? Well, as John Belushi said in Animal House, "It's not over until we say it's over."

Seriously, we ARE the voters and we have a say. If this gets pushed thru, then we all get to say the fix was in.

I spoke with Tomiko Santos about this issue this morning. It was a concerning conversation because of several things she said:

1) she had been thinking about idea for years as she has felt that her district (and its schools) have not been respected by the school district.

I find this a very odd reason to upend an entire district. One legislative region does not a district make (at least as I see it).

2) She believes this will bring "equity" to her area. I wasn't able to ask her what faith she has dividing the district up is the way for that to happen. I also would ask the question about equity.

Years ago, I very much thought things were not as equitable throughout the district but I think things are much better. I see the inequity not so much in what the district proves as what PTAs do. (That said, RBHS has been at the bottom of the "to do" list for waaay too long.)

3) the "emergency" clause was put in by "technical" people. Well, I don't care who did it - there is no burning reason to do this kind of massive overhaul.

4) She made it sound like there would be a process to the change almost as if parents/communities would be involved but the bill proves zero guarantee of that. So the sausage making will happen probably behind the scenes.

5) She said that most exceptions in the law for schools are for Seattle and other legislators had questioned that. I'm not sure I get it.

6) she said it isn't class size that matters but school size. I can only say that Seattle had many small schools just a decade or less ago and they were not all beacons of success.

7) She feels it's important for communities to support the central administration. I would agree.

I also told her this sounds a lot like a charter district coming. She said no, she was against charters (and she has been consistent on this point).

I told her - it is a massive gamble and I'm not hearing real reasoning backed up with real data.

wondering said…
What is the districts policy regarding vaccinations? Can parents opt out?
Po3 said…
Washington State law does allow exemptions to the immunization requirements for religious, medical, or personal reasons. These are recorded on a Certificate of Exemption (COE) form. Beginning 7/22/11 most exemptions must include a health-care provider's signature.
wondering said…
Anonymous said…
Just know that if your kid is not vaccinated and another non-vaccinated kid gets measles, mumps, etc., your kid will not be allowed back at school for whatever length of time it takes to become infected/contagious stage. In California, a district just excluded 60+ kids who did not have the measles vaccination because an infected child came to school. They are out for at least 21 days.

Sure hope that kid didn't come in contact with a pregnant teacher or a medically-fragile kid who cannot be vaccinated.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick said…
Wondering, also note that measles is highly contagious for a week before any symptoms appear, so waiting until another kid is diagnosed to keep your kid home is, well, you see the point.
Lynn said…
Here's another example of how the rules are different for preschool. The district would like to change the assignment rules for preschool seats at South Shore because In 2013-14, 16 of 54 PreK students did not matriculate into Kindergarten in the fall of 2014. Of these 16, 50% of the families indicated early on that they did not intend to return for Kindergarten, but pursued South Shore for free all day PreK. Nine of the sixteen identify as Caucasian, middle income families (college educated, two parent household).

How much time has the board and the (constantly complaining about being overworked) staff spent on preschool issues over the last several months? If LEV wants to pay for a preschool and choose the participants, let them find their own facilities.

And here's the news on Montessori at Leschi.

Montessori at Leschi will no longer be an enrollment option. All the classrooms with be half-time Montessori and half-time Contemporary.

Why? Because Students enrolled in the Contemporary program are predominantly African American, low income and come into school with far fewer school-readiness skills, as shown by the WaKids teacher/ classroom-based beginning-of-the-year assessment. Students enrolled in the Montessori program are mostly white, middle or upper middle class, and score significantly higher on district and state tests. As the Montessori program has become more popular, and thus harder to get into, the discrepancies between the two programs have increased.
It has become clear to Leschi leadership that in order to achieve academic success for every child, the classrooms must be racially and economically integrated. Right now, they are not.

No explanation is provided for the school's inability to achieve academic success for every child without adding white, middle and upper middle class students to the classrooms. Oh wait - here it is Mixed or heterogeneous ability or achievement groups offer several advantages according to research done by Gene V. Glass who is currently a Research Professor in the School of Education at the University of Colorado;
1) Less able pupils are at reduced risk of being stigmatized and exposed to a less rigorous curriculum;
2) Teachers’ expectations for all pupils are maintained at higher levels;
3) Opportunities for more able students to assist less able peers in learning can be realized.

Leschi's staff is admitting that they can't expose the children in Contemporary classrooms to a rigorous curriculum without getting middle class children into the classrooms. They're incapable of maintaining high expectations for the children they're currently teaching. And of course, there's some benefit to their new classmates of having an opportunity to help teach their less able peers.

When you place a program that's popular with white, middle class families in a neighborhood school where the students are low income African American children, you don't get to complain that the demographics of the classrooms are different.
Anonymous said…
@Lynn - I appreciate the information on Leschi. The hyperlink to the SPS documentation is positive and thoughtful. I think the new classroom model proposed by the Leschi school leadership team will better serve the needs of all students in the area. - NP
Lynn said…
Oh it looks thoughtful. The message though is that the staff doesn't want an option program in their school because it makes them feel icky.

I predict that those white middle class families who want a Montessori education for their children will find and pay for one. How will that benefit anyone other than Leschi's staff?

Leschi is responsible for meeting the needs of their attendance area students and providing an option program for students (primarily) in the central region. Equitable access to programs requires that families in the central region have access to option programs.

The board shouldn't authorize this without creating a replacement program in the region.
Watching said…
"Of these 16, 50% of the families indicated early on that they did not intend to return for Kindergarten, but pursued South Shore for free all day PreK. Nine of the sixteen identify as Caucasian, middle income families (college educated, two parent household)."

Thanks for the links, Lynn.

I don't have the time to delve into details and I would appreciate a summary. Is there an issue with those that can afford prek crowding-out low income children? If so, this is one of the problems that I had with the 1B campaign. Research does indicate that free prek was provided for middle income families at the expense of low income families.
Lynn said…
Couldn't you also say that free pre-k benefits both low income and middle income families? It's not inherently immoral to provide high quality preschool to all families.

Treating preschools as a charitable endeavor affluent families provide to the poor puts their funding at risk in times of recession, concentrates high need children and isolates them from the rest of the community.
Anonymous said…
I am curious as to why JAMS feels unsafe. My kid attends Nathan Hale HS right across the street and has never reported feeling unsafe. Is it the age difference between MS and HS?

The back of JAMS does seem more wild while the area directly around NHHS is more cultivated and public. Does JAMS landscaping support lurkers?

Anonymous said…
My daughter is at JAMS and has never reported feeling unsafe. I volunteer there too and it always seems calm to me.

Anonymous said…
I asked my 6th grade boy at JAMS if he feels safe or scared ever at school. He said the only place/time he feels uncomfortable is walking through a hallway where 8th grade rowdy boys congregate on his way to or from PE in the gym at the back of the building. But he said these big boys are just being normal and rough-housing a bit more than his style. He said they have never said anything to him as he walks through.
Anonymous said…
I read the email from Ms. Montgomery to my 7th grade son at JAMS and ask if he ever felt unsafe in any way when at school. He said no, never. Other JAMS parents I know have received the same feedback from their kids. I'd love to hear from others if their kids do have concerns.

Anonymous said…
My daughter also attends JAMS and has never expressed feeling unsafe at school.

She is happy and thriving. Teachers and staff are doing a good job.

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