Friday Open Thread

Update: forgot to include this fascinating piece of news.

Sarah Morningstar, the late Cheryl Chow's partner, applied for Sally Clark's soon to be vacant City Council seat.  Morningstar mentions her work as a school administrator in Seattle Schools in her application.  Morningstar is currently assistant principal at TOPS.

The City Council will announce the finalists on Monday at 2 pm.  There will be 3-minute presentations from the finalists on Friday, the 24th with an announcement of the winner on Monday, April 27th.  Good luck, Ms. Morningstar.

end of update

In news about First Place Scholars, it's good news.  Apparently, they have shown enough progress for their turnaround for the Charter Commission's Executive Director, Joshua Halsey, to say that things are looking good.  They just need to turn in their documentation on Special Education to meet what the CC asked for in changes at FPS.

Did you get a robo-call from Ready Washington (brought to you by OSPI and the Gates Foundation) about SBAC? From Seattle Education:

People around the state are receiving robo-calls from a (Gates backed Teachers United) teacher who was declared “Teacher of the Year” by The Office of the State Superintendent (OSPI) which is headed by the State Superintendent Randy Dorn. Mr. Dorn is also on the board of CCSSO which is an organization receiving $84M from Bill Gates to promote the Common Core Standards.

Interested in civil rights data collection?  Here's a place to search. 

Robert Kennedy, Jr. continues his ranting over vaccines and autism.  Recently, he had to walk back this statement:

This is a Holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

Here's a test question from Singapore that seems to stump everyone - When is Cheryl's Birthday?

From KUOW, a entirely outdoor preschool here in Seattle.  Wonder if they would qualify for the City's program? Nah.

Time for your science lesson - Finding the Speed of Light with Peeps

Coloring Books - they're not just for kids.

What's on your mind?


dw said…
This might deserve its own thread, but yet again we have more Pearson problems.

LAUSD ditching Pearson iPad program software, demanding multimillion dollar refund

Some of the headlines make it sound like this is an Apple/iPad problem, but if you dig in, it's mostly about Pearson.

LA schools iPad project: How it started... before the bidding began

"(Superintendent) Deasy also personally pitched Apple on working with Pearson, according to the emails."

Troubling behavior:

"Early emails show Pearson’s Codding did not want the district to solicit bids from other companies – known as a request for proposals, or RFP."

And here's something to take note of, because it happens everywhere, not just in LA:

"Feng sits on a committee overseeing the use of bond funds for neighboring San Gabriel Unified School District.

She likens it to being wooed by the pharmaceutical business, which spends billions annually to wine and dine doctors, reward them for participating in trials, provide free samples and other perks.

“In a similar way, when you have limited number of contracting companies, they will develop very strong relationships with school administrators and not because there is even necessarily corruption, it’s just because they have special access others don’t they are considered at the front of the line,” Feng said.
Anonymous said…
Cheryl's Birthday can be a language arts question too. Write it in correct English.

dw said…

I guess you missed the part where the "Cheryl's Birthday" problem came from Singapore. An independent country, with it's own language use, complete with slang, idioms and a rich history of its own.

That aside, it's sad that so many people seem to find this problem difficult. It's quite easy, a simple 3-step logic problem without any math involved. If you expose kids to these kinds of fun puzzles (along with lots of other things) from the time they're young, it helps with brain development. The problem is that if, as a parent, you can't understand the logic, then you're unlikely to encourage your kids to partake. Sad.
seattle citizen said…
My thoughts and prayers go out to the one-year-old child of a Franklin graduate, shot in a road rage incident in Kent and in critical condition. Too many guns too callously used - our youth are suffering.
Anonymous said…
Write it in proper English then.
How hard would that be.
Probably like most test questions, bumblese.

Anonymous said…
My kid was told that the sport she is doing for her PE requirement (outside of school) is not eligible because it's not involved in competitions with other teams. When asked why, the school counselor said that it was because PE teachers are worried for their jobs (which I understand) and therefore, the PE waiver situation is now only for competitive sports.

While I am sympathetic to PE teachers' concerns, this seems to go against the whole point of PE--which is to get kids moving. It's never been specifically about competition.

North End Parent
Anonymous said…
Robocalls from the teacher of the year?

Ya, interrupt my Diane Ravitch time, here's your golden can of Spam.

Anonymous said…
First, they set you up by titling it a math problem. Then they don't clearly state who knows only the month and who knows the numerical day. Once you clarify that most people can solve it when told to use the process of elimination. It the same approaches you learn to take multiple choice test.

n said…
There's little time to teach actual problem solving and thinking today. Esp. with the Math in Focus curriculum. Granted, I teach primary, but it is computation, computation, computation.

I was trying to do enrichment as well but no time and when I send it home, few parents will do it with students. I don't know what to do.

Tests ask questions that require thinking/problem solving but that's not what we are asked to teach these days. Common core supports thinking but curricula does not.

Hmmm, thinking perhaps I need to devote some reading time to math problem solving...
Anonymous said…
We had to buy full rain suits for our Kindergarteners at Waldorf. Waldorf doesn't spend all day outside like the outdoor preschools but they spend a great deal of time outside in all weather. They also do nature walks to the local parks several days a week, no rope in involved. One of the highlights of my kids week was going to Woodland Park and bunny hill. Northwest kids need to learn how to deal with the weather and not be deterred by rain.

n said…
Interesting, HP. I worked for a principal many years ago who said we live in a rainy climate. Get used to it. But most principals or secretaries seem to call "rain-day recess" in early drizzle. Sometimes I think it is because they don't want to do outside recess duty in drizzle. So, teachers endure "rainy-day recesses" in the classroom.

This year has been exceptional in that we've really had few rainy days. I like rain. My yard and garden need it.
Anonymous said…
@North End Parent,

I'm stunned. I don't know why, but I am. What about individual sports such as gymnastics, tennis or golf? Are they only teaching competitive team sports in PE?

Unfortunately, each school has its own policy on PE waivers. Eckstein has a different policy than JAMS and HIMS. A district policy for all schools would be nice.

Anonymous said…
Push back on the PE policy, which isn't really an official district policy, right? HIMS tried requiring more hours - 90 instead of the state specified 60 - in order to get a PE waiver approved. The state specifies an average of 100 min per week (which works out to 60 hours).

Waivers are allowed for "directed athletics." Kirate class, yoga, dance...those are all directed athletics, yes? Call BS on the "competitive sports" requirement.

Many students get PE waivers in order to participate in music. This benefits the school because they can squeeze more students into a music class than into an art class or other elective. It actually helps a school with capacity issues.

-push back!
Anonymous said…
Doh! I ordered items for Dearborn off of the Amazon wishlist and they can't deliver them because of spring break. Hopefully they will try again next week.

Lynn said…
North End Parent,

I suggest either homeschooling PE or having your child complete one of the courses available in BYU's online high school program.
Anonymous said…
Hale requires 3 semesters of PE none of which can be waived by outside sports. 2 semesters can be waived by participating on a Hale sport but you have to attend a set number of practices and compete at least twice. 1 semester has to be an actual PE class. This year they finally allowed Cheer to count for a PE credit.

Anonymous said…
My kid has been taking gymnastics for years. She is just not in competitive gymnastics. This was allowed for her 3 years in HIMS but Roosevelt says "no" due to the "competitive" clause. It's maddening.

North End Parent
Anonymous said…
North End Parent:

Can your daughter do gymnastics with team at Roosevelt and get credit? That is how it works at Hale. No credit for outside gymnastics but if you are on the team, go to practice and compete twice (only have to do one event) - you get 1 semester of PE.

Anonymous said…
We got the robo call from teacher of the year. The local primary school moms adore him. He's quite the rock star. He's the big lifter at the school and was responsible for the walking school bus, go green, and literacy drive at Lawton. I'm not on FB, but they tell me he's got an "awesome" FB page that profiles how much he cares about his students and his community. Yes, I know it's Magnolia. Not the toughest gig zip code wise, but the robo call is probably part of being "teacher of the year". He's a union rep, but does SEA care about the SBAC opt out effort? Unions don't want teachers eval tie in with any standardized testing, be it MSP, WASL, MAP, or SBAC. Who can blame them? It'll be interesting to see if any students opt out at Lawton.

Spring breaker

Anonymous said…
The whole "competition" based sports are all that count to qualify for a PE waiver sounds ridiculous to me! Our daughter received a PE waiver for ballet - which she was doing 15 hours a week. I guess there are "competitions" for dance, but she never participated.

She now does do a school sport so we haven't checked in a couple of years.

That's annoying.

-Garfield Mom
Anonymous said…
Our middle school approved PE waivers for everything from swim lessons to martial arts to Seattle Parks community center classes, which seemed very reasonable. When our child took PE at school, they mostly played badminton or shot hoops. There was little in the way of directed athletics. It was a complete joke. I couldn't believe we had to go to such great lengths to document info for a PE waiver when PE class was allowed to involve such little physical exertion.

The state code on waivers says nothing about "competitive" sports. It specifies "directed athletics," which allows for much broader athletic participation. If you are getting nowhere with the school, I'd take it up with the school board (before school is out for summer).

crazy SPS
Anonymous said…
When we were at Roosevelt, the PE waiver was only for school sports/clubs. No outside athletics. Is this new counselor or a new policy? I would ask to see the written school policy.

-rhs alum
Jamie said…
Wow North End parent - I'm sorry about your situation. My daughter at Ballard HS got a PE waiver for being in the marching band, no problem.
Anonymous said…
Ultimately, it's sad to me that competition is the requirement for any sport taken for a PE waiver. One would think that the point of the sport would be to get the kids moving in a meaningful way (which gymnastics does quite well).

To answer the inquiry of why she doesn't take school gymnastics: She happens to be a kid who enjoys doing gymnastics but who doesn't enjoy competing with other people. She also took a year of archery in middle school and, again, it wasn't competitive. Therefore I'm guessing that it would not be acceptable at Roosevelt, either. The system is a bit bonkers on this. What kind of message is this sending the kids?

@rhs alum: I'm not sure when you went to high school, but you can take 2 "electives" during each term--one of which can be PE. But, you have to do something related to PE. So, if you don't take PE as an elective (e.g., if you take a language and orchestra instead), the district gives you the option of doing a directed sport outside of school--you have to do a certain number of hours and you have to have letters sent to the school signed by the coaches of the sports.

North End Parent
Anonymous said…
Garfield accepts dance for the PE waiver, no problem.

Greg said…
Related to DW's comment, a good article from Ars on the situation with iPads and Pearson in Los Angeles:

From the article: It was a "$1.6 billion plan to give every student in the nation's second-largest school district an iPad .... While Apple and Pearson promised a state-of-the-art technological solution ... they have yet to deliver it ... The vast majority of students are still unable to [even] access the Pearson curriculum on iPads."
Anonymous said…
from LA Times re LA Unified & Pearson,

"Only two schools of 69 in the Instructional Technology Initiative ... use Pearson regularly,” according to an internal March report from project director Bernadette Lucas. “Any given class typically experiences one problem or more daily. Teachers report that the students enjoy the interactive content — when it’s available. When it’s not, teachers and students try to roll with the interruptions to teaching and learning as best they can.”
The remaining schools, she said, with more than 35,000 students, “have given up on attempting regular use of the app.”..
The materials are not readily adaptable for students who are not proficient in English.
Nearly a year ago, L.A. Unified sent Apple a letter demanding that it address problems with the Pearson curriculum.

SPS better revisit contract with Pearson, make sure expectations are clearly stated, with clause for complete refund if product is substandard. Make sure ALL Ts crossed etc. because Pearson is "standing behind quality of their product and saying "no digital product should ever be considered completed".
Looks like Apple is now going to use Microsoft's philosophy - put out unfinished substandard product and send patches when scammers find weaknesses. SAD!


Anonymous said…
How are the people at Pearson who worked on iPad curriculum for LA Unified and the SBAC still employed? No consequences for incompetence anymore in Tech?
Anonymous said…
Pearson is not involved in Smarter Balanced.

--- swk
seattle citizen said…
Pearson is not involved in Smarter Balanced per se (except they were contracted by SBAC and PARCC to develop and deploy a "Technology Readiness Tool" 2012-2014 to assess states' tech capabilities vis-a-vis testing needs) but you KNOW Pearson is 110% in favor of CCSS and it's affiliated high-stakes tests, because there is $20,000,000,000 per year spent on education materials in the US, and Pearson is already involved in testing (they created the test used in Kentucky and New York. So while not directly involved in SBA, they love it, live it, love it, as 68% of states bought CCSS texts, etc in 2012 and Pearson gets a big payoff because of SBA, the test at the end of all those expensive new texts, etc.

If Pearson isn't responsible for the multitude of problems with SBA, who then should we hold responsible, swk? Who can we fire for this boondoggle?
Anonymous said…
So - if students aren't "career and college ready" as determined by the ed-reformers, and corporate ed gravy train riders, instead of failing in college (which was always what MIGHT have happened when the entered college), they should just be preemptively failed in high school. Nice. In that case, students won't get a college degree (because they are "career and college ready") but they'll also be punished by not getting a high school diploma either. Using that logic, maybe we should take it a step further. We could just fail them after fifth grade. It's pretty clear by then who will be "career and college ready".

The only thing wrong with American schools - is the ed reform.

Anonymous said…
Reader, which students are being "preemptively failed in high school" due to the college and career ready assessments?

As has been shared multiple times, our State Board of Education will be setting a cut score for high school graduation separately from the cut score for college and career ready.

--- swk
SWK is right; Pearson is not the company associated with the SBAC.

However, their textbook is one in the running for the middle school social studies adoption.
Anonymous said…
And they run PowerSchool correct?
Anonymous said…
Don't worry swk, we're sure to see the same people who love punitive testing.... mandate that fail means fail. What could be more logical? I mean, why would you want to give a test, and then tell people that fail really means pass? The whole point is to make sure the status quo is maintained no matter the cost. We need to make sure every dime we have is funneled to Pearsons, SBAC, Gates foundation, and that students spend as much time as possible reading fake testese literature, because there's no point in real school is there.

It wouldn't be an awesome test if minorities and/or students with disabilities could pass it. Obviously too many low lifes were passing HSPE, and that needed fixing! We already have ACT and SAT to let us know about "college ready". But those are no good because they don't punish the losers.

Katydid, yes, Pearson runs PowerSchool.
Anonymous said…
swk, Why not give our 10th graders the MCAT (the test for Medical school) and let the State Board of Ed. decide a different "cut score" to determine high school graduation from the failed MCAT? Does that make sense to you?

We know 10th graders are not really ready for Medical school, and they will mostly all fail the MCAT. Probably a few will squeak through. We know they've not been taught the materials for Medical school. But what the heck, why not just extrapolate a wrong level test and fiddle with the "cut score" and call it a day? That's exactly what we're doing with the SBAC.

If we give the MCAT instead of the SBAC, we will save student time - because the MCAT is shorter to administer than the SBAC ELA. And, it isn't as idiotic. Go take any practice ELA SBAC. You will find incomprehensible, poorly written drivel. At least the MCAT results wouldn't really be random. And, the graders of the MCAT are probably people who can find jobs for more than $11/hr.

Anonymous said…
Reader, I realize little of what you write makes sense to me.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
swk, The point is, giving a test to students which is designed for a different grade level, and for different standards than materials current students were taught, and then simply setting graduation cut scores to some unknown lower level - is absurd. Changing the "cut scores" doesn't make up for a bad decision in the first place. It's unlikely to produce a desired result.

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