Showing posts from May, 2015

What's Happening at your Middle School and Spectrum?

I got a query from a parent about changes coming to Washington Middle School and its Spectrum program. The parent stated that he/she was not able to attend the PTSA meeting where this was presented but that it seemed to others to be fairly vague and no one is really sure what is coming.  The parent also asked: I see that there are similar changes happening at McClure, so wonder if this is district-wide? Well, the district has said very, very little about Spectrum and is seemingly allowing principals to chart their own course. 

Sunday Morning Reading - Curmudgucation vs Frank Bruni

Frank Bruni, who used to be a food critic at the New York Times but now writes op-eds, has a piece in the Times about Common Core.  Or is it the Department of Education. Or teacher evaluations.  Well, it's about public education.  It's daringly called, The Education Assassins   (that actually brings to mind Sarah Vowell's hugely funny,  Assassination Vacation , which is probably not want Bruni wanted). Over at the Curmudgucation blog , the very funny Peter Greene takes Bruni's arguments apart, line for line. What's interesting is that Greene points out the half-truths to what Bruni says.  This is a major irritant for me - just tell the WHOLE story, not just part of it if you have the courage of your convictions.  I'm just going to pull out some great comebacks from Greene but do go read both pieces.

Do Not Support HB 2214 (No Matter What WA State PTA Says)

As further proof that WA State PTA (and National) seem to be moving further and further into the ed reform camp, comes a message from WSPTA urging members to support HB 2214. The first thing to know about HB 2114 is that one of its authors is Chad Magandez, ed reformer thru and thru.  He loves charters, is connected to LEV The second item to note is that this bill is pretty much a wolf in sheep's clothing.   While it says it reduces the number of tests for graduation, it really does this: If you read the bill, you will see it accelerates the SBAC test monopoly from 2019 to 2016 and it will severely harm the Opt Out Movement by imposing a fourth year of advanced math on anyone who opts out of the test in high school - giving Washington state the most draconian graduation requirements in the nation. So not only does it speed up SBAC, it will NOT preserve a parent's right to refuse their student from taking test (and I see that in the House of Representatives, there IS a

Lotteries and Waitlists

A parent of an incoming kindergarten student wrote to me about issue she was having with Enrollment. Based on reading the Enrollment policy and speaking with different Enrollment staff, she believed that the only tiebreaker for the lottery into neighborhood schools is siblings. (It seems she wanted to put her child into a non-attendance area school.   The lottery was held and she was told that she was #4, and then, #3 on the waitlist.  Now, weeks later, she finds that her child moved down the list and another child moved up the list.  She is baffled how that happened. I have a query into the District but... Did this happen to anyone else? Any thoughts on why this might have happened? FYI, here the waitlist by school .  There are some interesting numbers.

Seattle Schools Updates

I am trying to get an update on the Cleveland students involved in that two-car crash yesterday on I-5S.  The Times is reporting that two of the six are in critical condition and the other four are in satisfactory condition. Director Betty Patu has a Community meeting tomorrow from 10 am to 11:30 am at Cafe Vita. From SPS Technology: Seattle Public Schools will begin changing to a new website at 10 p.m., Sunday, May 31. The new site will look slightly different. Thank you for your patience during the transition. Should you experience any concerns, please email . More information can be found here: .

Computer Science Education for Teachers

From the University of Washington Computer Science and Engineering Department: Each summer, UW CSE welcomes middle school and high school teachers from around the state at our computer science education workshop, CS4HS . Math and science teachers are invited to participate in an action-packed, three-day program designed to give them the knowledge and resources to integrate computer science into their classrooms and to build student interest in our exciting and rapidly growing field. The 2015 workshop will take place July 15th – 17th at UW’s Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering. Thanks to the generous donors who support CSE’s K-12 outreach programs, the registration fee for teachers is just $50. CS4HS participants will enjoy breakfast and lunch each day, an evening networking reception, parking or transit reimbursement, dorm accommodations for out-of-town participants, and 20 clock hours from the Washington Science Teachers Association – not to men

Friday Open Thread

After three long days, the National Spelling Bee ended in...a tie...for the second year in a row.  The judges ran out of words on their list.   In a fun twist, both contestants have last names that might be a challenge to spell - Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar.  Vanya correctly spelled the word "scherenschnitte" and Gokul correctly spelled the word "nunatak."  The story from CNN is great and the recoiling of one contestant who lost from his mother's sympathetic kiss is priceless (we've all been there if you have boys).  Show the kids the story from CNN - many great moments. Work Party at Hamilton Middle School on Sunday, May 31st from 10 am-noon.

To Tax or Not to Tax (That is the Question)

At least that's how KUOW frames it in reporting that the current Special Session of the Washington State Legislature will end tomorrow.  Without a budget.  And needing another session.  That costs taxpayers dollars. Additionally, the bill that made it out of the House, overwhelmingly, in order to pause the use of passage of a high school science test for graduation, didn't make it out of the Senate Education committee.  Their chair says they'll work on this topic at another time.  Oh. I would hope that the Republican and Democratic House and Senate leaders would understand how this looks to the public.  It looks childish and ridiculous and like maybe some of you need to be voted out. 

Garfield Production of Rent

Kevin Bacon, who is in town yesterday for the Seattle International Film Festival, asked to visit a high school theatre class and Garfield was chosen. He came and spoke with theatre, film, newspaper and LA students.  (Coincidentally, I saw Bacon last night at SIIF where he gave a very funny interview and saw his new film Cop Car.  It's kind of a Stand by Me on speed - very effective.) Garfield Theatre Department Presents RENT! Garfield High School is proud to present Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking rock-opera Rent. Set in New York City during the HIV crisis of the 1990s, Rent follows a year in the lives of Alphabet City’s bohemian residents as they struggle with issues of AIDS, sexuality, homelessness, and economic hardship. Although Rent deals with weighty and often controversial subject matter, its overall message is one of love, hope, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Cleveland Students in Car Accident this Morning on I-5

Second update via SPS Communications: This was one of two days of late start at CHS for EOC exams. All we have confirmed is that at least 4 of the 6 are juniors.  End of second update Update via KOMO news: Six teens were injured - three of them seriously - in a two-car crash that sent one of the vehicles plunging through a guardrail and over an embankment Thursday morning on Interstate 5 near mid-Boeing Field, emergency officials said. Witnesses said the teens in both cars were driving erratically before the crash. Arriving at the scene, they found one of the cars about 60 to 70 feet down an embankment. Four people were in the car, and three of them were seriously injured - including one with a serious back injury. The fourth sustained moderate injuries, but was able to crawl out of the car and back up to the freeway.

Guess and Draw - New Times asks about Family Income and College

From the NY Times: You Draw It: How Family Income Affects Children’s College Chances How likely is it that children who grow up in very poor families go to college? How about children who grow up in very rich families? We’d like you to draw your guess for every income level on the chart below. Readers, tell us how you did.

Sand Point Elementary's Families&Ed Dollars Pulled When Principal Leaves

Josh Kerns at KIRO Radio does an excellent job in covering this story.  (I have several questions into the City on this issue and I will update as I receive answers.)  Basically, Sand Point Elementary, a fairly diverse elementary school in NE Seattle, had applied for a grant from the Families&Education levy.  The work on this grant had been done by all stakeholders at the school including the principal, staff, and PTA.  They were awarded a grant of over $300K to hire hire a counselor and enact other initiatives to support students and their families. But, when the City learned that Principal Warren was leaving (to move to Washington, D.C. with his family), they pulled the grant.  Why? I found this in the most recent RFI presentation doc I could find at the F&E levy page.  It says: Applying principal and/or assistant principal is still at school during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school year. Now, of course, their money, their rules.  But...

Seattle Education News

There is an issue going on with Sand Point Elementary and the sudden pulling of a grant from the Families & Education levy because SP's principal is leaving.  The school planned staff around that grant and are now scrambling because of the rescinding of the grant.  The school is looking for answers and so far no one - from the City or the District - has any to give them. This could mean dire things for other schools who may get F&E grants and then see them taken back should they lose their principal. I have never seen any documentation mentioning this nor did the Department of Early Childhood and Education staff at a recent Board Work Session on the levy mention this possibility.  I'll have full details after I get some answers to queries I have put to various stakeholders. Today I will be attending an odd sort of panel discussion on charter schools at UW via the Evans Schools of Public Affairs.  It's called Charter Schools: Problems and Possibiliti

Will Washington State Get Waiver to Hit the "Pause" Button?

Education Week is reporting that five non-waiver states - including Washington State - may be allowed by the Department of Education to "hit the pause button on their school ratings through next school year." 

West Seattle's Middle College Program: What Happened?

As you may have heard, the district has, quite quickly and quietly, decided to close the West Seattle campus of the Middle College High School program at High Point.  The district says that the enrollment is down.  Seniors will finish there but the other students will have to find someplace else to go. Programs like Middle College are the ones that catch the drop-outs, the at-risk kids and the kids who need something different to stay in school.  In short, programs like Middle College save lives.  Our friends at the West Seattle blog have a great wrap-up of the story.  Apparently, the staff is not prepared to go down without defending their campus.   As the West Seattle blog reminds us, this program was kicked off of the South Seattle Community College campus in spring of 2012.  It then got moved to Neighborhood House's High Point Center.  The district doesn't have anything up at the website nor has there been any news release.  A letter, dated May 18th, was sent t

Keep This in Mind As You Read My "Big Picture" Series


McClure Closed Today Due to Power Outage

From SPS Communications: Seattle City Light is indicating that power at McClure Middle School will not return this morning as hoped . Therefore, the official school day for McClure will end at 11 a.m. today and students will be dismissed. Buses will arrive at the school to transport students home at 11 a.m. The building will remain open with limited staff to assist students who need to contact their parents. This is officially a half day, so there will be no need for a makeup day at the end of the year. Thank you for your understanding.

Tuesday Open Thread

Happy Birthday, to space hero Sally Ride.  Today would have been her 64th birthday. I sent this story - via t he Washington Post ,  along to the Board - Six of the nation's largest school districts dump polystyrene trays .   These districts are banding together for volume savings to do better for their districts.  Great new area at the Fordham Institute for Advancing Educational Excellence - Eduwatch 2016 - with quotes from presidential candidates on education (which I believe they will be keeping updated). Rand Paul has an interesting idea about student loans for higher ed: Let’s let college students deduct the entire cost of their educations over their working careers. Let’s make college tuition entirely deductible.  Bernie Sanders: Promote creative learning by doing away with 'fill-in-the-bubble' standardized tests, and instead evaluate students based their understanding of the curriculum and their ability to use it creativel y. It's 2015 but apparently

The Big Picture - Part Two

My first piece in this series was about how the City and other outside forces seem to be lining up to takeover the district, piece by piece. This thread is about legally mandated programs for students that have been an issue for the district for a very long time, namely, ELL, Special Education and Advanced Learning. I'm not going to go into a dissection of each because I'm not qualified to speak fully on ELL or Sped. (And I'm not looking for another discussion on Advanced Learning.  Please do not go off-topic on this point.) The issue is that our district has consistently either failed to provide services, provided partial service or failed to provide services in a timely manner for all of these programs at one time or another.  This has happened for many years.  The district has been under review for both Special Education services and ELL services by OSPI over the last year.  To be fair, I know that ELL and Special Education services are expensive and it is a c

Want to Take Some Action on Testing that Will Help?

1)  Ask the School Board to write a letter like this one from the Palm Beach County School Board and tell them to send it to Governor Inslee and State Superintendent Dorn.  Write to them at : Partial (full letter in link):

What Do You Think?

I saw this video from Creative Evolution ; it's called The Truth About School (in a two-minute video).  I think that it is simplistic and probably less-than-accurate about all public education because I don't agree all schools are doing this.  But I do think that our country is still stuck on many issues around public education. That's the funny thing - if you don't like the current ed reform ideas, you're "for the status quo."  Nope.  But there are other things that need to happen but the problem is that basically there's a lot of busy "look at what we got done" in public education, rather than "look at the outcomes for these students."  You can "do" a lot and it may not help kids (especially when some people seem more interesting in their resume than actual outcomes).  But I think this two-minute video does start a conversation. Based on your experience with public education so far, tell us this:

Smarter EveryDay - Can You Ride This Bike?

Really good piece of video about how changing one thing on a bike changes everything and what is takes to get your brain to figure it out.  (Also, kids can change their brains faster than adults.)

How Much Time is the SBAC Taking at Your School?

I ask because I'm seeing various comments on this issue.  So let us know what you have heard and seen at your school (across any grade).  For example, one reader said that Garfield had a couple of late starts this week 11 am. That's pretty late for the school day to begin.  Maybe leadership there thought it better for students to NOT come and have to hang around doing almost nothing rather than coming later. I also heard from a reader at Ingraham who said her daughter took the test (as a junior) and didn't find it all that hard but that she was very annoyed with sitting around for 45 minutes.  It all adds up to lost instructional time of which there are several factors: - the actual time to take an untimed test - the actual time for set-up to take the test (which apparently can be anywhere from 15 minutes to almost an hour). - time that is test prep (how you take the test) - time that is test prep (for what is on the test) Not to mention down time for co

Arts and Seattle Public Schools

I just came across an article in the Capitol Hill Times (thank you former Board member, Kay Smith-Blum) about arts in Seattle Schools. You may recall that the district had received a Wallace Foundation grant to develop a district-wide vision for arts in Seattle Schools.  It was for $1M of planning which was great but the district didn't receive the follow-up grant from the Foundation for the implementation .  But I know this didn't stop Carri Campbell, the director of School and Community Partnerships at SPS and so, with the City's Office of Arts and Culture and the Seattle Foundation, the District started the Creative Advantage partnership.  They are also partnering with groups like the Seattle Art Museum, Arts Corps, Arts Impact, EMP and others. 

Friday Open Thread

Computer science and young women - a great article from the NY Times that includes mention of a great computer science and engineering department at UW.  Behind the scenes of many of these colleges’ efforts is an organization called the National Center for Women & Information Technology . It provides consultants to college faculties on how to change their programs to recruit and retain women. On Thursday, the center is giving the University of Washington its first award, sponsored by Google, for colleges that have succeeded in this effort. The center hopes to give the award annually. Thirty percent of University of Washington bachelor’s degrees in computer science last year went to women. Ed Lazowska, chairman in computer science and engineering at the university, called that share “not great.” Still, it is twice the national average and up from 20 percent in 2010 and 15 percent in 2005. I had to smile at this article from WHEC in Rochester, New York over wh

Electronics, the Web and Kids

News of an "eavesdropping Barbie. "  News from Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood: At February's Toy Fair 2015 in New York City, Mattel unveiled "Hello Barbie," the Wi-Fi-connected doll that uses an embedded microphone to record children's voices—and other nearby conversations. Georgetown University Law Professor Angela Campbell, Faculty Advisor to the school's Center on Privacy and Technology, said, "If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child's intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed. In Mattel's demo, Barbie asks many questions that would elicit a great deal of information about a child, her interests, and her family. This information could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market unfairly to children." Will you take a moment to ask Mattel CEO Christopher Sinclair to stop the marketing and production of "Hello Barbie"? Also from the CCFC:

No Child Left Behind: Here's Want Needs to Change

From the Network for Public Education (NPE): No Child Left Behind should have been reauthorized in 2007, yet here we are 5 months into 2015 and Congress has failed to act. The  Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 is the latest reauthorization effort. While the bill passed the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee unanimously, it has not yet been brought to the Senate Floor for a full discussion and vote. The proposed legislation does away with some of the most destructive aspects of NCLB, such as AYP, and as NPE President Diane Ravitch commented, it " defangs the U.S. Department of Education " by taking away the Secretary of Education's ability to coerce states into adopting specific standards, tests, or accountability schemes. One major flaw with the legislation however is that the Every Child Achieves Act maintains the federal mandate for annual testing .  Act now to let your Senator know you want to see the end of annual testing

High-Stakes Testing and Graduation Requirements in Washington State

David Spring has written a lengthy explanation of what may or may not be coming with state testing.   It's called Comparing Three Graduation Requirement Options for Washington State. It is a lot of heavy reading (and it would require you to go read all these bills which I have not done yet) but I think it worthy.   In this article, we will compare three sets of high school graduation requirements currently being considered by the Washington state legislature. These three options are the current law which was enacted in 2013, House Bill 2214 and Senate Bill 6122. All of these three options are complex. We will therefore provide a comparison table at the end of this article to better help citizens understand the provisions and consequences of each option. Understanding the current Washington state law is important because if no bill is passed in the state legislature in 2015 to replace it, then the current Washington state law will continue to be in effect.

Robert Reich on What Needs to Happen in Public Education is looking for the 10 best ideas to save the economy.  One comes from former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, who says Reinvent Education .

Charter Schools Updates

 Update: the Times has more reporting on the situation with First Place Scholars.  According to their article, two Commissioners wanted to revoke their charter. It was pointed out that FPS will probably owe money back to the state because they did not enroll as many students as they said they would.   FPS has another deadline of June 17th - less than a month - to meet the Commission's requests.  It appears most of the Commissioners agree that if these requests are not met by June 17th, they won't "kick the can" down the road again.  Head of FPS, Dawn Mason, continues to claim it's not FPS' fault because they opened too quickly.  end of updates From the PI , news about charter schools in Washington State: First Place Scholars is still under scrutiny. According to written reports to the commission, the school has made some progress in its work with students who do not speak English at home and in setting academic plans for children with special

Testing - Some Analogies

Why I love my readers?  They say the smartest (and darnest) things (about over testing):

Updates from the Washington State Legislature

 The one update I cannot provide?  That the Legislature has finished its work in creating a budget.  The Governor has said if it is not done on time, he will call ANOTHER special session.  From the Washington State Democratic Party from Governor Inslee:

Seattle Schools Sponsoring Learning Disabilities Workshop

This workshop has been rescheduled to JUNE 10 (formerly scheduled for May 19)       "Understanding Learning Disabilities"  For this workshop, Seattle Public Schools is partnering with Open Doors for Multicultural Families. This workshop will be beneficial to parents whose children have a hard time with listening/paying attention, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, math, social skills, or have been diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability. Examples of Learning Disabilities include ADHD, Dyslexia, etc.

New York Regents Speak Up on Testing


Views from the Seattle Schools Teacher Walkout

(Note: if anyone running for School Board has a photo they would like included, please e-mail it to be at and I'll put it up.) Essay from a teacher, Jon McClintick (not SPS),  on 10 Reasons I'm Walking Out 

Tuesday Open Thread

The LA Times is reporting that spending for school board races in LA almost $4.6M.  LA is the second-largest district in the country.  Guess who's pouring the most money?  Charter school groups and then, the teachers union.  (LA has the highest charter school enrollment in the nation.) And, there's a new PAC in the mix and who are its top three donors?  A Wal-Mart heir, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg and LA rich guy Eli Broad.  I do not expect to see that kind of firepower here mainly because we have no real ed reformers running.  (But I think the ed reformers and their elected officials proxies are going to continue to try to get what they want via the Legislature.) Thinking testing is out of hand here in the U.S.?  This was reported back in 2014 but worth mentioning here.

Smarter Balanced Classroom Activity - 10th Grade ELA

I received this classroom activity for 10th grade ELA on " Environmental Interdependence (Environmental Awareness)." Issues - the directions are somewhat confusing - Can't we get solar energy from the sun in other ways than the one way noted on the activity? - for me, calling the teacher "the facilitator" seems odd.  - pretty step-by-step for teachers, down to what to say - the odd diagram they ask for isn't something I think most kids would be able to read and get very quickly But I'm not a teacher so teachers, any thoughts? 

One Seattle School Board Candidate Withdraws

 Update : two more candidates have now withdrawn from School Board races. From district 4, Suzanne L. Sutton has withdrawn, leaving Marty McLaren, Leslie Harris and Nick Esparza From district  2, Deborah Leblang has withdrawn, leaving Rick Burke and Laura Obara Gramer. end of update The King County Elections webpage reflects that Julie McCleery has withdrawn from the district 2 race, leaving Rick Burke, Laura Obara Gramer and Deborah Leblang still in it. Presumed candidates have until the end of today to withdraw. 

Reading the Friday Memo of May 8, 2015

Some topics of interest in the Friday Memo from the Superintendent and senior staff:

Seattle Schools Updates

One piece of pretty bad news, especially for high school students and parents, is that the Class Pages are going off-line on June 1.  Apparently the district's switchover to a new system, SharpSchool, cannot extend until the end of school (the district blames the vendor) and so neither you nor your student will be able to access any homework, grades, etc. SPS to teachers: Teachers, students, and families will not have access to class pages the last 2 weeks of schools. We are working on available alternatives to help minimize disruption to schools. Teachers will be receiving additional communication about options for sharing files and announcements during the last two weeks of school.  We apologize for this added inconvenience. We had truly hoped for an extension to beyond the end of the school year to help ease this transition for all of our students and families, as well as for all our staff, especially those in schools. All the functions of class pages will be unavailabl

Be SMART - Gun Safety Now

From Moms Who Demand Action (for Gun Sense in America): If you haven't already, get *very* familiar with these letters — they're the core of our new #BeSMART campaign. Following these easy steps can help reduce unintentional child shootings that occur once every 36 hours. The latest school shooting was on a school bus in Florida.  Shooting into a bus full of kids.  (It was gang-related and probably done by juveniles who should NOT have any access to guns.)  We can do this.  Given the huge number of accidental shootings in this country (not to mention the suicides and actual murders), we either have too many guns or too many careless people who own guns.  We probably can't do anything about the number of guns but we can do something about the numbers of careless people. 

Congrats to Ingraham High School

The Ingraham High School varsity ultimate frisbee team won the city co-ed/mixed-gender championship last weekend. Seattle has the best youth ultimate scene in the world, so winning the city championship is a really big deal. Our current seniors won the league their freshman year, and after a few rebuilding years, they’re back on top again. They crushed a really solid Bainbridge Island team (where I used to coach before Ingraham) in the semifinals, and then beat an incredibly athletically dominant team from Skyline High by one point in the finals. Every single Ingraham student conducted themselves with dignity and spirit on the field, and both of our opponents were extremely impressed not just with our level of play, but with our sportsmanship and fair-mindedness. Ultimate is a self-refereed sport, and even though play got very intense, everybody kept their cool and made us all proud. We’re sad to lose our incredible seniors at the end of this year, but luckily we only

Congrats to Ballard High School on Big Wins

I see that Ballard High School is celebrating two big sports wins. The girls Fastpitch team took the Metro championship beating West Seattle. The boys soccer team took the Metro championship, beating Roosevelt. As well, the Chief Sealth girls track team members of the 4x100 won first in the Metro-All City Track meet yesterday. Update: Nathan Hale's girls varsity Ultimate team took the Metro championship beating Franklin. Good job to all who the students who worked so hard and competed.

Tick Tock: It's 5:09 pm - The List of Seattle School Board Candidates for 2015

Updated :  I left off one person and somehow, someone got in late (because I checked at 5:05 pm and this person was not there - odd). end of update As usual, a flurry of last minute filings for Seattle School Board for the four positions up for election. This thread is just an overview.  I'll write up something separate on my thoughts on these candidates as well as how the first candidate forum on Thursday night at the 46th Democrats went. First, a few observations: Clearly, something has hit a boiling point in Seattle Schools where we have multiple candidates who have experience in Special Education issues.  We have two candidates with a legal background and two candidates with an engineering background. I think we may have only one minority candidate. One huge mystery - where are the ed reform candidates?  Only Lauren McGuire who has worked with a group to reform school boards seems in that camp.  (I did overhear a couple of people at last night's 46th Dems me

Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club

This fun club is having an open house tomorrow, May 16th at 10 am.  Lunch will be provided at noon.  (There's an open house for adults at 1 pm.) No experience needed but do bring a change of clothes.  You'll need an adult to sign a consent waiver.  It's held at the Green Lake boat house at the south end of Green Lake.

Friday Open Thread

Attended the candidate forum at the 46th Dems last night and I'll write that up today.  Good news - there are some fine school board candidates running.  As well, people who have attended city council forums report that those candidates are getting the memo on the mayor appointing part of the board - the answer is no.  The more candidates that understand that this is not a winning policy point, the less chance it can get traction. In horrific news, at a charter middle school in Oklahoma, kids in a science class made a music video...using dead cats as props.  It was a grotesque version of a cat food commercial.   (It's unclear if a teacher was present or allowed this.  I find it hard to believe that many kids could be in a classroom by themselves making a video at the middle school level.) Rather cool website - Atlas Obscura . Share this one with the kids. The Seattle International Film Festival has started.  Here's a link to the Films4Families.  Consider taking you

Seattle Council PTSA Message to PTA Leaders

Dear PTA Leader, As you likely know, the Seattle Education Association (SEA) voted "to strike for one day [May 19, 2015] to protest the state legislature's failure to fund 1351 and McCleary, its attempt to take away our right to bargain over our wages and healthcare, and to insert test scores into our evaluations." We have received several inquires for guidance on this issue.  It is important to understand PTA's positions, and to be clear when you are speaking on behalf of PTA versus as a parent. PTA positions:  Both Seattle Council PTSA  and WA State PTA's number one legislative priority is fully funding basic education per the McCleary decision.  At the same time, Resolution 18.6   states that the WSPTA "will not support work stoppages and/or strikes which interrupt or disrupt the educational day." In consideration of these existing positions, the Seattle Council PTSA board voted in a new resolution on

Hedge Fund Managers (25) Versus More than 150,000 Kindergarten Teachers

A story from the Washington Post caught my eye and the visual below sums it up.

Bell Times Taskforce Meeting Today

The Bell Times taskforce has a meeting to day at JSCEE from 4:30-6:30 pm. The Taskforce has requested information from staff on the real costs of two versus three tiers and, in specific, how it would cost almost $20M to move back to a two-tier system.  The Taskforce is in the process of writing recommendations and needs the clearest, most up-to-date information in order to do their oversight job.  As someone who served on a district committee in the past (as we did not get full information from staff), I think it is vital that the Bell Times Taskforce receive the best information in order to make informed recommendations to the Board.  Some links to read: May 2012 SPS webpage on review of transportation. KPLU story on bell times

Federal/State Education News

From Politico : Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will reintroduce a bill today aiming to better protect student data. Like the bill that House Education and the Workforce Committee leaders Reps. John Kline and Bobby Scott have been putting together, the Markey-Hatch bill would change data privacy by updating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.   The bill [ ] would take several steps to bring the long-outdated FERPA into the digital age, including prohibiting tech companies from using student data to target ads. It would also give parents the right to access records about their children held by private companies — and change that information if it’s incorrect. Districts would have to keep lists of outside vendors that hold information on students and make those lists accessible to parents.  There are now two bipartisan bills targeting student privacy, Markey-Hatch and the bill reintroduced recently by Reps. Luke Me

May 19th Walk-Out Updates

From SPS Communications: Ingraham will hold a Saturday School  on May 30th from 8:30 – 11:30 AM , and Center School will hold a Saturday School  on June 6  (I believe similar hours to HIS but I’ll need to confirm). This is to ensure that all seniors have at least 175 instructional days while still allowing their scheduled graduation and graduation night events to take place. From the City of Seattle: Seattle Parks and Recreation has announced it will open and staff drop-in activities at 21 designated community centers for Seattle Public School students from kindergarten to 8th grade in response to the May 19 teacher walk-out. The free program will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19 and will include supervised recreation activities, with an anticipated supervision ratio of 20 children to 1 adult leader.

Seattle School Board Races

I had planned to wait until the filing period ended but there are some interesting developments in the various school board races.

The Big Picture, Part One - Meet the Aguirres

We all know - from photos, tv, etc - what a pixel is.  It's a tiny picture element - a point - to a larger picture.  You can't tell from one pixel what the picture is. Lately, I have been seeing several notable series of pixels that seem to be gathering speed to create the big picture.  This is a profile of one of those pixels. The big picture that I see gathering speed is that this district is being set-up for a transformation.  I would say set up for a fall but mostly a picture seems to be forming so that the district can look like it's in very bad condition but, simultaneously, that it's nobody in senior leadership's fault.  (Yes, that's quite the feat but I think that's how it's going to get played). I believe our district is being set-up to be taken over, at some point, by the Mayor and others in power in the city.    I think - like Bill Gates - they are frustrated (and, in some cases, rightly so) with the pace of student academic gains in SP

Seattle Schools Having Tech Issues

It is being reported that as of 9 am this morning, there had been issues with the wireless system at Seattle Schools.  It likely halted SBAC testing for at least an hour.  Outages and/or slow system may still happen.

This is Why You Don't Listen to Wealthy People on Public Education

In what is a fairly astonishing piece of video, The Answer Sheet has the CNBC interview with Bill Gates AND Warren Buffet AND Charlie Munger (of Berkshire Hathaway) opining on public education. Munger on McDonald's as one of the nation's educational institutions (just starting from the premise that education is what McDonald's does is ridiculous):

SPS News Roundup

Good News It is very pleasing to see different high schools do well with programs at their schools.  Ballard excels with video production, Roosevelt and Garfield with jazz bands and now Ingraham is doing great with their Rocket Club. Last Saturday, Ingraham participated in the Team America Rocketry Challenge in Virginia, coming in third.  Over 700 teams competed.  There were three Ingraham teams with Foxtrot winning 3rd and $1,000 for the school.  Each team had to create and build an under-two pound rocket by themselves.  They were judged on how close they came to their predicted trajectory and landing their rocket in less than 60 seconds. Foxtrot was just one foot off the 800-foot target and landed about 48 seconds after liftoff.  Team Foxtrot's first score of 1.0 was the best single flight score in the history of the competition.   Speaking of Ballard filmmakers , SPS Communications is reporting that Ballard was the ONLY school to win the top prize twice at the Natio

Tuesday Open Thread

Anyone go to the SPS Sped meeting last night? This Friday is the deadline to file for elected races for November.  Still no one from Director Peaslee's district has filed.  I'm sure someone will and that one person will just walk onto the Board.  That's a terrible thing for democracy, no matter who the person is. Speaking of school board races, there is a candidate forum at the Fightin' 46th this Thursday at the George Center for Community, 2212 NE 125th St.  It opens at 7 pm with the program starting at 7:30 pm.  It's a great opportunity to meet the candidates.  (Note: I'll have a candidate wrap-up thread, probably on Sat morning of all the candidates, their websites/Facebook pages, etc.) SPS' request for a waiver from NCLB was denied by the U.S. Department of Ed.  Seattle had applied on its own because its teacher contract DID include use of test scores in triggering a look at teaching in any given classroom but did not include using test scores i

You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream...

for ice cream. Free Scoop Day  TODAY from 2-8 pm at Cupcake Royale's locations.   None of the locations are near me (just as well) but yum.

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, May 11th Curriculum&Instruction Policy Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda The agenda is a long list of items, some policy issues (like student fees, student rights and responsibilities handbook) and a couple of very serious items.  (To note, each BAR usually has a list of supporting documents at the end of the BAR.  In the past, each supporting document had a live link.  I now see - with help from the Board office - that instead of making each listed document a live link, those documents now follow the listing of the documents.  I do not know when this changed.) One is the movement of Special Education from the Revised Comprehensive Corrective Action Plan to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Office of Superintendent Public Instruction (OSPI). OSPI has listed the School Board as an approver on the draft MOU.  Fiscal impact to this action will be $3,000,000 in federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Northshore District Working on Bell Times, Too

I heard from a friend who works for the Northshore district t hat they have been working on bell times as well.  Here's a link to what they are doing.  They appear to be further along than SPS.  I have not yet had the time to read all their documents but it may offer some answers to what SPS could do. Update:  a reader sent me this info from yet another district, North Clackamas The current 2014-15 North Clackamas school hours are: Elementary School: 7:45 for 10 schools, 8 am for 4 schools & 4 schools at 8:15  > this would be very early for kids on free and reduced lunch Middle School: 9:30 – 4:10 High School 8:35-3:10 Note that North Clackamas bus their high school students which is why the elementary school students start so early — to free up buses for the high school runs. I think they essentially have a 3-Tier system, but they weren’t familiar with that concept. (Seattle Public School high school students that qualify for transportation are

Happy Mother's Day

To all the moms, living and departed, to whom we owe so much. "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." ― Abraham Lincoln “There is nothing as sincere as a mother's kiss.” ― Saleem Sharma “I tell my kids, ‘I am thinking about you every other minute of my day.’” — Michelle Obama

Regarding May 19th and the Last Day of School for Seattle Schools

  Update:  I cannot find any notice of the closure of SPS on May 19th at the Times.  The newspaper of record in Seattle and they don't have this up? Hmm.  (I searched and if it's there, it's not easy to find.) end of updates From SPS Communications (please note, no info here on IB testing) Seattle Public Schools Families, Thank you in advance for your patience as we work to provide information and options for you around the May 19 Seattle Education Association (SEA) walkout and cancellation of school that day. Below is a list of frequently asked questions and information to assist your family in planning for May 19. Last day of school for seniors and all other students What is the last day of school now? What is the last day of school for seniors ? The last day of school for all students, except seniors, is June 16 . Students will attend school for a full day on June 15 and be dismissed 1 hour early on June 16.  The last day of school for seniors is now Jun

In Prom News

I get that we don't want girls going to prom super-exposed.  (And, you would think parents would refuse to buy a dress that was too sexy. )  But we have some real Sarge Marge administrators out there as this story from the Daily News shows. The girl in the polka dot dress is a LOT more covered up in her dress than in many other prom dress I have seen.  Not wearing a bra?  I'd bet most of the girls aren't.  (I also think it's a pretty adorable dress.) The girl in the red lace dress looks great and she's pretty covered up but here's what the assistant principal said: The Harrisburg High School student was reportedly told she was too busty by her assistant principal. "She said, 'You have more boobs than other girls," Alexus told Penn Live . "The other girls have less to show.'" Then there is the horrible prom photo of kids with a Confederate flag and guns.  Apparently not all of the parents of the students shown even knew th