Showing posts from February, 2015

National Public Ed Updates

The two biggest public education stories seem to be the opt-out movemen t and the reauthorization of NCLB. 

Dorn threatens Nathan Hale

According to this story in the Seattle Times , State schools superintendent Randy Dorn is threatening to withhold funding if Seattle's Nathan Hale High School doesn't administer the SBAC tests to 11th graders.

Director Patu on Leave Due to Death in Family.

At the Work Session on the City's preschool plan, we learned that Director Patu's husband, Von Paul Patu, passed away.  It was noted by President Carr that she would be gone for a few weeks. Mr. Patu was a frequent speaker at Board meetings in my early years as an activist.  He and Betty were tireless activists for the Pacific Islander community, especially students. Von Paul and Betty were recently recognized by the  University of Washington Alumni Association – Multicultural Alumni Partnership (UWAA – MAP) for their work. My deepest sympathies to Director Patu and her family.

Friday Open Thread

Not sure if everyone saw this - it's a report commissioned by the Mayor and created by Peter Steinbrueck about neighborhoods in Seattle.  It's interesting reading.  There are mentions of school issues on page 10, page 32, page 100, page 101 (where they speak of the WASL) as well as maps of the district. Yes, it's true - the wonderful murals at Wilson-Pacific have been cleaned and, to my eye, keep their wonderful vibrancy.  I'm still wondering what the plan is to preserve them when W-P is rebuilt. What's on your mind?

Truth is, Common Core (and its Assessments ) are Still in Flux

From a school counselor in Oregon:

Stay out of Ingraham (if pregnant or if you have an infant)

A notice went out to all the parents at IHS, but there are two confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) at Ingraham. Pregnant women and infants should stay out of the school building for a bit. Whooping cough in high school?  Get the vaccinations, okay?

Seattle Schools in Wrestling Match with Edline Over Fault in Website

Oh my. It appears that the District and Edline , the company that the district contracted with in/around 2010 to redo the District's website , are having a tussle over who is to blame for the inability for blind parents/students to access information on that website. Further, they are now arguing over whether Edline still has a contract and should still be providing services to the district.

What is best for low achieving students

An article in the Seattle Times quotes Eric Pettigrew (D-37) as saying "smaller school districts would improve performance for low-achieving children". I'm dying to know what data he has to support that contention. Or could it be that Mr. Pettigrew made the claim without any data to support it?

School Board Candidate Training

A local organization, School Board Leaders for the Future , is offering training for potential school board candidates, and it sure does sound good.

Washington State Common Core: What a Long, Strange Trip

 Update: another timeline from a different group, Stop Common Core in Washington State. A fascinating history of Common Core in the Washington State legislature from Opt Out Washington . Wonder how come the Times didn't ask a single question about its history in their recent article.  (It has a great graphic with an important notation that I was not able to include here.) The author, David Spring, provides a lot of detail including:

More Required Reading: Learning Style and Personal vs Personalized Learning

 Think your student has a specific "learning style?"  This thoughtful NY Times op-ed gathers a variety of voices on this issue.   Is learning style the same as a learning disability?  How much weight can/should teachers give this issue?  Students do have preferences when it comes to receiving information visually or verbally, said Mark A. McDaniel, a psychology professor at Washington University and a co-author of the book “ Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning .”  And, said Harold Pashler, a psychology professor at the University of California, San Diego, and one of Dr. McDaniel’s co-authors on the study, no compelling evidence for teaching to students’ learning styles has emerged in the years since: “There’s one or two somewhat oddball studies,” he said, “but there’s a number of new negative findings that are more substantial.”

Seattle Schools Enrollment Videos for Non-English Speakers

From SPS Enrollment, videos to help non-native English speakers: 廣東話 登記入學 Cantonese Enrollment Video Español - Spanish Enrollment Video Thủ tục để đăng ký học Vietnamese Enrollment Video

Emanuel Fails to Win Outright in Chicago

 Update:   in a HUGE win, voters in Chicago voted to have an elected Chicago Board of Education (after 20 years of mayoral appointments.)   From the Chicago Tribune: Voters in 37 wards overwhelmingly endorsed an elected Chicago Board of Education, according to preliminary tallies Tuesday, a non-binding outcome that nonetheless promises to stoke a long-running debate over the mayor's power to appoint board members. In the 2012 general election, 89 percent of voters in five Chicago wards approved a similar advisory referendum for an elected board. Earlier this month, a Tribune poll also reflected broad support for the idea. Seventy-six percent of voters said they favor an elected school board while 14 percent backed an appointed board. Gee, sounds like voters in Chicago want to democratically elect who represents them in school governance. I tweeted this story to Mayor Murray and Rep. Eric Pettigrew (who is sponsoring a bill to allow the mayoral to appoint two membe

Seattle Smarter Balanced Testing - The First Shot Has Been Fired Across the Bow

The Nathan Hale Senate (effectively their BLT) voted "nearly unanimously" to not give the SBAC to their juniors this year.  (They had also recently voted to not give the PSAT to 10th graders at all.) The Nathan Hale Senate–a body made up of the teachers, administrators, parents and students–voted nearly unanimously that this test was inappropriate. The vote was taken after careful consideration and much discussion and inquiry, including two school community forums — one of which included University of Washington professor of education and renowned scholar on high-stakes testing, Wayne Au.) Reasons for refusing the SBAC for 11th graders included (summary):

Tuesday Open Thread

Great op-ed from the NY Times on how basic (and fairly inexpensive) things can make the difference for low-income kids of all ages.   When people ask me, "What would you do?" these are the kinds of things shown to work that I support. - While they were graduate students at Harvard, two young professors designed and tested a program to help students stick to their college plans. Benjamin L. Castleman, now at the University of Virginia, and Lindsay C. Page, at the University of Pittsburgh, set up a system of automatic, personalized text messages that reminded high school students about their college deadlines. The texts included links to required forms and live counselors. -The same researchers also tested a texting program to keep students from dropping out of college. The problem is important because the graduation rate of low-income college students is dismally low; two-thirds leave without a degree. Community college students received texts reminding them t

Smiling Faces: Sometimes, they don't tell the truth

From Class Size Counts WA:

Murals at Wilson-Pacific Site Vandalized

In horrible news, the Times is reporting that the Native American depicted and created mural at the Wilson-Pacific building were vandalized over the weekend.  According to the artist, Andrew Morrison, he knows who did it because "he was stupid enough to sign his name." The words DAPKILO were painted over, said Morrison, who sent me the photo you see above. DAP is the name of a crew of graffiti artists. It stands for Down Around Pike, said Morrison, and KILO is the name of one of their artists. It remains to be seen how this can be mitigated but these were not the actions of "graffiti artists" but of vandals. Andrew Morrison

Pollet Offers Insight on Proposed District Split

From Rep. Gerry Pollet's Facebook page:

Seattle Schools This Week

Many interesting meetings this week.

The Times Talks Common Core

The Times has an article about Common Core and why it's no big deal in Washington State. (The article is not in their education blog and I truly get mixed up about the difference between their ed blog stories and their education section stories. But I digress.) They ask a bunch of the usual suspects about CC but they don't do two big things. 1) They don't really explain why there is so much pushback throughout the country.  2) They don't have a SINGLE person with a quote on why they don't like it.  Almost as if they don't exist in our state.  (You can Google - Washington State Common Core - and guess what you find?  Stop Common Core in Washington State . )

Get Rid of Public Schools? Parent vs Superintendent over Opting Out? Required Reading

 Required Reading Did you know that there is a move among conservatives to suggest that public schools should not exist?   There is and MSNBC has a good article about this issue.  One place it came up is at FOX News in a discussion over Oklahoma wanting to get rid of AP History. The Fox host said , “There really shouldn’t be public schools, should there?  I mean we should really go to a system where parents of every stripe have a choice, have a say in the kind of education their kids get because, when we have centralized, bureaucratic education doctrines and dogmas like this, that’s exactly what happens.”

Seattle Schools Updates

KOMO tv is reporting this: A disturbing trend has been identified in Seattle public schools, where marijuana now makes up most of the disciplinary actions involving students. Between the start of the school year and Jan. 7, marijuana made up 77 percent of all disciplinary actions taken against students, district officials said. That's a big number.  What seems to be the issue? Lately, school officials have faced a new threat: Marijuana edibles dressed up as sugary treats. Everything from pot-infused caramels to drug-laced lemonade has been confiscated. That's in addition to the pipes and joints collected. The article doesn't explain how/why KOMO came across this news.  I'll have to ask the district. Reader Mary G said this: If this is true, this is a stunning statistic, but how would one know? The district has been unable to produce any reliable statistics for the last two years, and certainly not any resembling real time statistics and now all

Fee Reduction Info for AP/IB Testing

From SPS, information on low-cost AP/IB testing: SAT:   Next Wednesday, Seattle Public Schools will be administering the SAT to all juniors during a regular school day at no cost. The SAT normally carries a fee of at least $52.50. The district is offering this free SAT Day to open higher education opportunities to all students.  More info here. (Editor's note: as well, the district is offering for scores to be sent to colleges/universities (up to 4) for free AND students get lunch and snacks.  This is really great but boy, I wish I had gotten this info sooner to alert more parents.) AP and IB:  The Test Fee Reduction Program for Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge Capstone program exams, gives students from low-income families a significant break on fees for taking these tests. This year's fee of $12 per exam is down by one-third from last year and applies to an unlimited number of AP exams. More information at

Friday Open Thread

The Seattle Times, like Crosscut, has redesigned itself (well, not in editorial writing so don't get your hopes up).  Both redesigns - to my eye - are not good.  Busy and hard to follow the categories.  The Times does have a good overview article from the AP about the opt-out movement. — Thousands of Colorado high school seniors walked out on new state-mandated science and social studies tests last fall. — An Ohio middle school teacher published a letter calling state officials “bullies” for printing a pamphlet that warned of wide-ranging consequences if students sit out exams. — At least 93 students at a single Philadelphia middle school are declining upcoming tests in a city that saw only 20 students districtwide sit out the exams last year. The Washington Post's Answer Sheet also has a great article from a high profile principal, Carol Buris, on what is really happening in American public education. - Backlash against Common Core - Pain but no gain - Ann

Seattle Schools Updates

Roosevelt and Garfield jazz bands both made it into the Essentially Ellington competition in NYC...again.  Congrats to both programs. And because I love high school newspapers - news from the Rainier Beac h student newspaper, Viking Shield. I received a press release today from the district announcing that  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will visit Sanislo Elementary's  3 rd -5 th graders  tomorrow .   From the press release:

Education-related bills that have a chance to pass in Olympia

A bill in the state house, 4210 , would allow school bond measures to win approval with a simple majority instead of the 60% they now require. Another, 1971 , would limit the number of charter schools that could open in a single district in a single year to three. A third bill, which would clarify and strengthen regulations on the use of isolation and restraint tactics with special-needs children, passed the House Education Committee Tuesday.

Franklin chooses gender neutral graduation

Last year my daughter graduated from Chief Sealth International High School in a ceremony that included different color robes for boys and girls. Boys walked in one line and girls walked in another, then came together in a boy-girl pair. Except, of course, to accommodate the mis-match in the number of boys and girls. I didn't see any point in that. The students had to meet the same requirements and were getting the same diploma. What, if anything, is gender-specific about graduation? The answer, of course, is nothing. Franklin High School also had gender-divided graduation ceremony, but no more .

New Juvenile Detention Center Raises Hard Questions

The issue here, over the building of a new juvenile detention center has brought a firestorm of an argument.  (In August 2012, the King County ballot had a levy for a new “Children and Family Justice Center,” which ended up passing by 55.42%.) It would seem to be a two-fold argument:

Tuesday Open Thread

The South and the East Coast are covered in snow. What's on your mind?

How Fast Did You Read in Kindergarten?

 Raising the stakes on what kids can do. ( Screenshot link to graphic.) For instance, pre Common Core a 1st grader was expected to read 40-64 words per minute . Under the Common Core, they are now expected to read 69+ words per minute. Common Core has been attacked as developmentally inappropriate for K-2.  I've read the evidence and I agree.  From the blog, Lace to the Top : Common Core continues to place greater demands on our youngest students with little to no regard to years of research on child development. For example, take the Fountas and Pinnell research based guiding reading levels that have stood the test of time. They spent years creating a system that matched students with just right books. They even warned, “…through detailed coding of thousands of readings, showed that when a text is too difficult for the child the process breaks down and the child does not develop inner control of effective actions for processing texts.” When Common Core

Seattle Schools Open Enrollment Starts Soon

I note that the district's home page has a prominent section on the upcoming Open Enrollment period that starts on Monday, Feb. 23rd.  It lasts until Friday, March 6th.  This period is to request "a school or program outside" of your regular assignment. As a general rule, your student is assigned to the same school he or she is attending now. In the case of students moving up to middle or high school, students will be automatically assigned to their neighborhood school. You will be able to confirm your student's school assignment via the Assignment Look-Up Tool after Feb. 23 or by calling our automated phone system at (206) 252-0212. If you would like to change your current or assigned school for the 2015-16 school year, get detailed Open Enrollment instructions at or by contacting the Admissions office at (206) 252-0760. School Choice forms will be available when Open Enrollment begins on on Feb. 23. If you request a different schoo

Repealing I-1351

The Legislature doesn't like what the voters want. Really? From The Olympian : Legislature Might Send I-1351 Back to Voters. So wait, does this work for ANY unfunded initiative?  Because we could talk about others like I-1240. Also, how much would this repeal election cost taxpayers? A couple of choices for the Legislature: Read more here:

Or Almost Any Office


Testing - Big News Throughout the Country

From reader Lynn: The Washington Educational Research Association has published a White Paper on Parent/Student refusal to participate and a handy test refusal form . Smarter Balanced website (the test that Washington State students will be taking). FAQs page. I note that on their support for students page ( those with visual, auditory, linguistic, or physical needs), they say this (partial): A set of universal accessibility tools—such as a digital notepad and scratch paper—will be available to all students. Designated supports—like a translated pop-up glossary—will be made available to students for whom a need has been identified by school personnel familiar with each student’s needs and testing resources. Accommodations will be available to students with a documented need noted in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan. These tools include Braille and closed captioning, among others. A digital notepad is going to be available for all students?  Ever

School Board Member takes 10th Grade Reading/Math Tests

So what did you think happened?  He failed math and got in D in reading.  From The Answer Sheet : “It might be argued that I’ve been out of school too long, that if I’d actually been in the 10th grade prior to taking the test, the material would have been fresh. But doesn’t that miss the point? A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.” Here’s the clincher in what he wrote: “If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had. 

Rethinking Public School Funding: Thoughts From Rep. Reuven Carlyle

Here's his latest blog post ; good starting place for dialog about school funding in Washington State.

Seattle Times Editorial Board Continues Its Droning on School Board

The Times has yet another editorial on the state of the Seattle School Board.  Yawn. This time around they reference the three bills before the Legislature around large districts. HB 1665 -  Increasing compensation for school directors in districts enrolling twenty thousand or more students. HB 1497 - Concerning appointments of the board of directors of a school district of the first class having within its boundaries a city with a population of four hundred thousand people or more.  HB 1860 - that would limit a school district size to 35,000 (affecting SPS only).  

Friday Open Thread

Spate of Crime Around Denny/Sealth Continues

From the West Seattle Blog: Police are investigating three incidents reported in this letter going home to families of students at Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School . From SPD: We have had 3 incidents involving middle school to high school age victims today ; from the descriptions t hese are not related to the earlier robberies, the last of which occurred a week ago today. We are going to continue the early-morning emphasis patrol where we are bringing additional officers that are assigned to this problem, and CPT officers will be the lead on working on the stairwell at 26th and Trenton SW, where one of today’s incidents occurred. I will update you as things progress, this is a different series with a different suspect or suspect(s). In this series young female students are the victims , so whenever possible please have them walk together with friends so that they are less vulnerable, and if they have a cell phone have the

Audit and Finance Committee Meeting

Audit and Finance Committee meeting today at 4:30 p.m..  Agenda

Highline schools’ construction bond measure failing

Doesn't the Seattle Times tout the passage of school levies as evidence of the efficacy of the superintendent? What does this failure mean about Dr. Enfield's effectiveness as the superintendent in Highline? Or could it be that the passage of levies reflects more on the board than the superintendent? In that case, what does the routine passage of levies in Seattle mean?

Washington's first charter school falls deeper into trouble

The Seattle Times reports more trouble for First Place , Washington State's first charter school.

Seattle Schools' News Update

Dear SPS colleagues, I am writing to let you know that Ron English, General Counsel, has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Tuesday Open Thread

Principal Appointments

I don't know anything about any of these principals, but I thought if I posted this, it would give everyone an opportunity to comment upon them: Dear Seattle Public Schools staff, Today I am delighted to announce several principal appointments. The following interim principals, currently serving at their schools, have been appointed principals after receiving input from their schools’ families and staff, and information from their mid-year performance evaluations: Graham Hill Elementary: Walter Chen Maple Elementary: Elena Sanchez Lawton Elementary: Dorian Manza Salmon Bay K-8 @ Monroe: Dr. Neil Gerrans In addition, last week I also transferred and appointed Treena Sterk into the principalship of Eckstein Middle School, replacing Sherri Kokx who has taken a position in School Operations. Ms. Sterk’s move to Eckstein from her current position as principal at Cascade Parent Partnership Project has created an opening at Cascade. The district’s plan is to post

Who are the Golden Two?

There is a belief that our school district could be reformed if the Mayor were granted the authority to appoint two school board members. That belief must be predicated on the knowledge that there are two people who, if they were on the Board, could do the job, but who, for some reason, could not be elected to the Board. Who are these Golden Two? And why can't they win a school board election?

Seattle Opt-Out Group meeting

A Seattle Opt Out Group is forming. They are a group of teachers, parents/caregivers, and community activists who are working to halt the machine of high stakes standardized testing that public school privatizers and corporate Education Reformers are promoting all over the country. The group is just getting started, but they are growing fast. Their third meeting will be on Tuesday, February 10th at 6:00pm at the Beacon Hill Library. Garfield teacher Rachel Eells will talk about the New York Performance Standards Consortium. Ms. Eells and other educators have been working to further understand and develop a model of performance-based assessment that could potentially be implemented in Seattle. Leading the field with this model is the New York Performance Standards Consortium, with whom Ms. Eells and other Garfield teachers have been collaborating. Go to the meeting to hear about what the opt out group would like to put on the table once SBAC and high stakes testing are swept off of it

Friday Open Thread

It's Friday. That means a new Open Thread for your thoughts. It also means another Friday Memo will become public. What's happening in your school?

How Representative Eric Pettigrew is Wrong with HB1497

Please take the time to read House Bill 1497 introduced by 37th District Representative Eric Pettigrew. This bill, if it were to become law, would grant the mayor of Seattle the authority to appoint two members of the Seattle Public Schools board. Not only is that an exceptionally bad idea, it is un-democratic to boot.

Tuesday Open Tread

Many of us are thinking of Melissa and her family today. What other thoughts are you having?

Time to Say Goodbye (for how long, I don't know)

I am prewriting this as I know I won't be able to write it after the fact. I am taking my hiatus from this blog for an indefinite period of time.  As I said previously, Charlie will try to put up the Tuesday and Friday (and possibly, per a suggestion, Sunday) Open Threads. I will not be answering any e-mails. My beloved husband has lost his long and fierce struggle with cancer. From where we started from - Stage Four more than six years ago - he lasted a long time.  He was able to work almost the entire time and we had several great trips including celebrating our 31st anniversary last September in Paris.  He was a wonderful father, brother and son as well as one of the best professors at UW (at least if you look at his awards and listen to his students, both grad and undergrad). I have no words for my feelings. My best to you all in your own lives and I hope you will consider continuing to work towards better public education for all our children.  It matters.