Showing posts from June, 2015

Preliminary BTA IV List Revealed

Update :  here's the presentation that Dr. Herndon is giving at the Board meeting. Early on  at tomorrow night's School Board meeting there will be a " Levies 2016 Update" that starts off with this ludicrous statement:

Testing Kindergarteners In Washington State?

From Diane Ravitch: A reader shares this information with us. The state will administer assessments to children in kindergarten but parents have the right to opt out. Will the parents know? If you live in Washington, make sure you inform parents of their right to opt out their children from this unnecessary assessment. Let the children play.

Times Endorses Harris for Position 6

A little corner of hell froze over at about 5 pm today as the Seattle Times endorsed challenger, Leslie Harris, over incumbent, Marty McLaren saying: Voters should chose (sic) Leslie Harris for Seattle School Board District 6 They go on to say - in the first sentence - "Voters should oust incumbent Marty McLaren from Seattle School Board District 6 and bring in longtime parent advocate Leslie Harris." They use words like "detail-oriented" and "analytical" and "transparency" to describe Harris. They described McLaren as "complacent" and complained that she could not give a "substantive example" of her consensus building at their editorial board meeting. They mention the third candidate in the race, Nick Esparza, as well. Swinging back the other way, they chose the candidate other than Jill Geary in the District 3 race.  I put it that way because the Times didn't even have the grace to name Geary as her oppon

Tuesday Open Thread

Not on the district's homepage but of note: The Enrollment Service Center will be closed to the public from July 13 through Aug. 7, 2015, allowing for necessary new school year system transitions. During this time, students and families will be unable to access or submit online choice or admission forms. Additionally, the Enrollment front counter, Enrollment Service and Customer Service mailboxes, faxes, and Enrollment phone lines will be closed. These services are closed during the transition to reduce significant backlog, including incomplete documents received during this shutdown period, which would delay the timely enrollment of new students once the updated system is online. The Customer Service phone lines and receptionist desk will remain open to the public to serve those who need to contact other JSCEE internal personnel or departments. Enrollment will re-open its doors again on Aug. 10 at 8:30 a.m.​ I'm a bit perplexed as to why Enrollment phone lines

Summer Food Service Program

From SPS Communications: The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded child nutrition program that provides reimbursement to local organizations that provide free, nutritious meals to children and teens, 18 years and younger, when school meal programs are not available. The Summer Meals Program can offer up to two meals per day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or snacks. Anyone under 18 is free to come and receive a meal; no documentation or proof of age is required. Meal sites are located all over King County. To find the site nearest to you, call 1-888-436-6392, text MEALS to 96859, or go to .

SE Region Meeting Tonight

I have learned that an informal meeting on issues in the SE region is to be held tonight. Betty Patu's meeting to hear from SE Seattle families about their educational experiences, and for her to share information about work being done on the strategic plan.  Monday, June 29, 5 - 7 p.m. Rainier Beach Library 9125 Rainier Ave. S.

Washington State History Lessons will Now Include Tribal History

Update: the Stranger followed up its story with another story about the 29 legislators who voted against this bill.  Some of the names may surprise you. end of update. In the "what took so long" category, a great story from The Stranger on the signing of legislation by Governor Inslee that mandates the teaching of tribal histories of the state's 29 recognized tribes.  The curriculum is called "Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty Curriculum." According to The Stranger, it goes in effect on July 24th which naturally means it needs to start by the beginning of the school year (or so you would hope).

Times Says Washington State Budget Agreement "in principle" Reached

From the Times . Apparently this WILL prevent a shutdown of the state government on July 1.   No details have yet been provided.  The Governor's office has apparently been instrumental in getting both sides to the table.  "They're definitely forcing closure, which is a great thing, (Ross) Hunger said, referring to the Governor's office.  I would be willing to bet that the teachers don't get much of a raise that that I-1351 is mostly on-hold (something like I-728).  From the Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk blog , Class Size: The Common Sense Bus doesn't stop on School Reform Blvd.

Kindergarteners - C'mon Kids, Get with the Program

 Latest articles about kindergarten. Washington Post's Answer Sheet - A Very Scary Headline about Kindergarten Washington Post's Answer Sheet - Report Debunks "Earlier is Better" Academic Instruction for Young Children Boston Globe - Is the Common Core Killing Kindergarten? “When we require specific skills to be learned by every child at the same time, that misses a basic idea in early childhood education,” she says, “which is that there’s a wide range to learning everything in the early years.” Given the wide developmental variation in young learners and the evidence that early reader advantages fade, the report concludes that a kindergarten literacy standard will simply crush the spirits of the late bloomers, linking school with “feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and confusion.” Follow-Up on WaKIDS assessment story I asked the district about the WaKIDS issue where half of the incoming kindergarteners don't start school on September 9th but o

Bell Times EIS Update

From reader Eric B: I was the only person at the Bell Times Environmental Impact Statement scoping public meeting last night (Thursday, June 25th). Somehow, the meeting did not make it on to the District calendar, and the beautiful weather certainly didn't help attendance. There were a couple of interesting takeaways: * Any alternative that doesn't fall within the range of alternatives covered in the final EIS will take a supplemental EIS. Fat chance of that. * The consultant and Pegi McEvoy did not seem real eager to add additional alternatives to the list considered. * The draft EIS is expected to be released sometime in late July for a 30-day comment period. * McEvoy said that state funding is pushing everyone to a 3-tier busing system, and any districts not on that type of system are getting dinged by the state. I'd appreciate anyone who knows about this weighing in. * The consultant said that they would look at positive impacts of changes (eg later

Friday Open Thread

I have much to say but it's a busy morning. Threads to come: - Ron English, where are we? - City still trying to inflitrate District? And, of course, the big news of the day - oh happy day - from the Supremes (via the Beatles), all you need is love.

Six Days to a Washington State Government Shutdown

From the Washington Democratic Party: ACTION ALERT: We're 6 days from a govt shutdown. Call these Republicans and tell them<  "It's time to compromise on the budget." Andy Hill (855) 981-2701 Steve Litzow (855) 981-2702 Joe Fain (855) 981-2703

"Disruptive" Good When Ed Reformers Use It; Bad When Teachers Use It

In what can only be called an "We told you so, just a matter of time" event, charter teachers disrupted the National Charter School Conference in New Orleans over their ability to form a union.  (You just can't make this stuff up.)  From one of my favorite ed bloggers, EduShuyster : When is *disruption* not just a super cool buzz word but something that’s actually, well, *disruptive*?  That would be when teachers at the National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans ask the CEO of an Ohio charter management organization about firing teachers for trying to organizing a union at his schools—and using taxpayer money to pay the fine when he got caught.  This went about as well as you might expect. And when security arrived, combing through the crowd for disruptors, that’s when things got really disruptive… 

So Long, SBAC

From Save Maine Schools' Emily Talmage , I'm reprinting this in its entirety because of its clarity and brilliance.  I highlighted what I believe are the most important lines.

New York Times Op-Ed on Special Education

I'm not going to say much to start here but I feel this op-ed by   two professors of education, Paul L. Morgan of Penn State and George Farkas of UC, Irvine, is a more nuanced look at the issue than many other articles I've read. Read it and give me your impressions. Also, from NBC, a beautiful and touching story about a deaf boy, Zeke Ortiz, who has become part of a very competitive hearing basketball team. 

City Puts Back Families&Education Levy Funding

Update 2:  I'll have some analysis of why the City may have put the money back (it's not normally their way) but if you have some thoughts, please let us know.  (Also, a huge shout-out to PTA President Chandra Hampson and the Sand Point Elementary community who were fairly relentless on this issue.)   I'm putting the Mayor's letter to Sand Point at the end of this thread; Emerson received a similar one.  The letter had some language that confused me so I wrote to the DEEL office and here are the Q&As:

Some Seattle Schools Kindergarteners Will Start School Later Than Others

The District sent out letters to some kindergarten parents to tell welcome them and given them info on kindergarten readiness as well as a "transition camp" this summer.   The letter is dated May 31st but somehow is just making it to parents' mailboxes.  Oh, and that their kindergartener won't start school until September 14th (not the 9th like everyone else). Schools listed below will delay the start of school for Kindergarten students until Monday, September 14th to hold "Family Connections" visits for Kindergarten teachers and families.  All other students will start school on Wednesday, September 9th.

Got It Wrong - These SPS Meetings are Today, Wednesday, June 24th

Public Hearing: Budget (4:30-4:45 PM) Oversight Work Session: Legal (4:45-5:30 PM) Executive Committee of the Whole (5:30-7:00 PM)

Washington Charter Commission Announces Forum for Summit

The Washington State Charter School Commission (Commission) will be hosting two (2) public forums in July. These public forums are a chance for the parents, community members, local residents, and school district board members and staff to learn about and provide input on the proposed charter school. Commission representatives will be in attendance. Below are the dates, times and locations for each public forum: Summit Public School: Seattle #2 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, 2015 9601 35th Ave SW Seattle, WA 98126

Grading the Common Core Graders

The New York Times' Motoko Rich today explains who is scoring the PARCC assessment. So the standardized tests given in most states this year required fewer multiple choice questions and far more writing on topics like this one posed to elementary school students: Read a passage from a novel written in the first person, and a poem written in the third person, and describe how the poem might change if it were written in the first person.   But the results are not necessarily judged by teachers. Some are retired teachers with extensive classroom experience, but one scorer in San Antonio, for example, had one year of teaching experience, 45 years ago.

Oregon's Governor Signs Parent& Student Opt-Out Bill

Kind of a ying/yang reaction from Opt-Out Oregon : Today, Oregon Governor Kate Brown sent out a media release announcing she has signed House Bill 2655 into law . This is welcome news, and expands the rights of students & parents to opt-out of high-stakes testing. Some elements here have us concerned, though. The statement wrings its hand over the possible loss of federal funding if the opt-out rate gets too high. Additionally, there are elements that point to an ongoing effort to intimidate parents & students from opting out.  Frankly, if educators and administrators don't have a good case to make that parents understand and believe, all the talking in the world on the subject of assessments will mean nothing. 

Garfield New Orleans Field Trip Report

I am troubled by my dilemma of putting a link to the Investigation report and/or naming the chaperones and their statements to the investigator.  I know these are public documents but it does give me pause.  However, someone already put a link to the report so I will as well.  Report document.   If you do read it, understand that "identifier" means the private school - which we all believe to be Blanchet High School - "student 1" is the male student in question and students 8 and 9 are the girls who were groped.  None of the students nor the male student's mother is named.  All of the chaperones are named.

Tuesday Open Thread

Another week and no budget from the Legislature . Disgraceful.  (I'm marching in the Pride Parade on Sunday in support of Leslie Harris and Jill Geary for School Board and if I see any legislators there, I'm going to give them a cheerful earful.) If the state shuts down - even partially - it will have real effects on the population.  For one, the state parks will close and that will be terrible for those planning their 4th of July.  Naturally, the bigger issue, especially for school districts, is the inability to clearly plan spending without knowing how many dollars are coming in.  At the last Board meeting, the Board voted to name the two new buildings at the Wilson-Pacific site.  The middle school will be the Robert Eagle Staff Middle School and the elementary school will be named Cascadia Elementary .  (It was explained at the Board meeting that the spelling of Eagle Staff's name was corrected by the family and this is the correct spelling.) There is a scoping

Maine Ed Committee Votes to Drop SBAC

The members of their legislative education committee took that vote because 74% of students opted out.  From WMTW :

Garfield New Orleans Field Trip Report

I will be doing a lot of reading over the next several hours as I received both the report and the exhibits.  I have to say - just scanning the exhibits - that there are many contradictions from what I have heard from several directions.  It's going to be interesting cross-referencing both. What I can say is that there are two connecting issues that could be problematic for the district. One is that it is not clear if the district made an effort to find out the past history of the male student involved.  The "admissions form" for SPS does ask two questions about past discipline issues and the parents are supposed to "certify" that these are "true and accurate."  What is problematic is that the attorney for the teacher could not get access to this student's admission form. Did the district know this student had issues (and, in particular, had been in trouble for nearly the same behavior at another field trip)?  I have heard that someone at JSC

Questions about Friday Memo

The superintendent's Friday memos to the Board are still online - even if they are very hard to find. And they still make for interesting reading. The most recent one is no exception. Very interesting.

Happy Father's Day

To all the Dads, Daddys, Papas, Pops, Old Man and even "Fathers" - thank you for being there for your children.  I always say that if parents send your children out into the world as thoughtful, kind human beings who obey the law and support themselves, you've done your job as a parent (and society thanks you).  It is a difficult day at my home as it's the first Father's Day my sons will have without their loving papa; it would also have been my husband's 57th birthday. He was a wonderful father and we were so lucky to have him in our lives.

Common Core Algebra Test

This was posted at Diane Ravitch's blog and it's the NY State test (PARCC) for Algebra I using Common Core standards. 

Guns and Kids: A New Yorker Take

A very well-written piece by Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker called The Simple Truth about Gun Control.    Those who fight against gun control, actively or passively, with a shrug of helplessness, are dooming more kids to horrible deaths and more parents to unspeakable grief just as surely as are those who fight against pediatric medicine or childhood vaccination. It’s really, and inarguably, just as simple as that.  

Calling All Kids - What Did You Think of "Inside Out?"

I went to see it because I do like Pixar films (most of the time).  I'd like to know what kids thought so if yours saw this film, have them write a paragraph or two comment on what they thought - was it funny, what did they understand it to be about, would they recommend it, etc.

Summer Activities A 'Plenty for Kids

Update: lots of happenings in July at city parks throughout the city.   Let's start with the Seattle Public Library and their Summer of Learning program, Wild Science.

Seattle Schools Updates

View Ridge Teacher Takes Plea Deal The Times is reporting the outcome of a case of a View Ridge teacher who sent "sexually-suggestive text messages" to a high school girl who had volunteered in his second-grade class.  The male teacher was sentenced to two months in jail. He also surrendered his teaching certificate as part of his plea deal but will not have to register as a sex offender.  He will also not make an attempt to get his teaching certificate back and cannot have any kind of supervision of children except his own. Lowell Loses Its Principal It was reported to me Thursday night that Lowell's principal, Marion Smith, Jr., quit Wednesday with no little notice to the school community. I have asked the district if they knew sooner than that and, of course, how the principal replacement process will be handled.  Obviously, leaving at the end of the year makes it harder for the district to easily find a replacement.

District Appears to be Following Thru on Closing Middle College at High Point

From teacher Alonzo Ybarra: We're ordered to pack boxes today, but the struggle will continue. Thank you to everyone that took the time to write, show up at meetings and stand for social justice education. It takes courage for our disenfranchised youth to speak truth to power. Yet they have remained active in the struggle. I will continue to fight for justice and help grow this movement and I ask for your ongoing support until we achieve victory.

Garfield Choir Students Rally Today

 Update:   according to a comment in this thread, this rally is timed for when Ms. Burton is meeting with Dr. Nyland today. I have requested the District's investigation report and was told I could have it on June 22nd. The District put out a press release on the report right as the Garfield students and Friend of Garfield Choir were rising up to support Ms. Burton.  A tease of a press release is NOT the full report and to act as though everyone should go "oh well, never mind, move along, nothing to see here" is a wrong assumption on the part of the District. 

Friday Open Thread

The month of Ramadan started this week; best wishes to those who are part of the Islamic faith.  I remember when my husband and I visited Egypt in the early '80s on a TWA tour during Ramadan.  TWA told us nothing about Ramadan and we could not believe how all these people - in May in such hot weather - could be so patient and calm about not eating and drinking.  It's a testament to faith. Interesting story from Good Morning America about a preschool in an elder center in Seattle.  This is a great idea and one that Seattle Schools used to do in several schools.  They used art/music rooms for elders to come and visit with younger students.  The elders would read to the kids and show them how to knit or tell them stories.  But the space was needed for other things so it went away. From the HuffPost Parents section, " 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12."

Washington Charter Commission Gives First Place Scholars More Time

The Charter Commission - at the end of almost five hours of presentations and discussions - took a vote to revoke the charter of First Place Scholars and the vote lost, 4-3.  And at least two of those yes votes are very tenuous.  Main takeaways:

Operations Committee Meeting Today

I cannot attend the Operations Committee meeting today but wanted to alert you to a couple of things that appear on the Agenda .

Will First Place Scholars Survive?

The Charter Commission meeting tomorrow morning will let us know if First Place Scholars charter school has met the requirements laid out for them.  I do not believe there will be any more chances for this scrappy little charter if the requirements are not met.

Tonight's School Board Meeting

Update:  Packed auditorium with SEA members with lobby nearly filled as well. Kudos to Washington Middle School volunteers - big applause. Following by big tension after Bernardo Ruiz finished his presentation on the annual Education and Racial Equity.  A man stood up and shouted at Bernardo to tell the truth about Middle College.  He wouldn't stop and President Carr said she would clear the room if need be.  He shouted, "*** you!" to the Board and left in a fury. As for the transfers of money, I note that the presentation on the movement of money from the Capital Budget to Operations budget changed and asked Ken Gotsch about him.  He knew nothing and seemed confused. I am VERY suspicious of what is going on with these dollars for the Interfund loan and the Operations and Capital budgets. end of update  Tonight's School Board meeting looks to have one of the longest agendas I have ever seen (and therefore, possibly one of the longest meetings ever seen). 

Whoops! Error in SAT Booklets means Two Sections are Out

From NPR: There was a discrepancy between the time allotted in the student test booklet for one of the sections, 25 minutes, and the proctor's instructions, just 20 minutes. A version of this stressful situation played out across the United States on June 6. Scores will be thrown out on two of the 10 sections of the SATs taken that day. And late Monday night the College Board announced that fees will be waived on the next testing date for students who report having a bad experience this time. That's because a printing error in the student instruction booklet stated the wrong time limit, leading to widespread confusion. A reported 487,000 students were registered for the test, the last SATs of the school year.

Last Day of School and Some Good News

The Seattle World School had its first graduating class of students who finished the four-year program.  Thirteen students from five different countries were the graduates.  The 4-year program has 175 students overall.  Congratulation graduates! (World School, in a day, raised $8,000 to pay for the funeral of Cuong Uong, a student who drown in Lake Washington on June 7th.) The Times had a great story about the fabulous Ballard High film program that continues to roll on to more awards.  And one name - and you better remember it because this kid will win an Emmy or Oscar someday, Leo Pfeifer - was involved in every single film that won an award. The program won five awards the films they entered into the competition, some documentaries and drama.  The awards were given at the NW Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences festival.  As well, two documentaries won awards at the Dominique Dunne Film Competition (you'll remember Ms. Dunne as the older sist

Seattle School Board Races Info

District 1   Scott Pinkham ; so far, no campaign website or campaign Facebook page Michael Christophersen ; so far, no campaign website or campaign Facebook page To note, I spoke with the PDC because, in reviewing the school board races, I see that neither Pinkham nor Christophersen has registered with them.  According to PDC rules, once you do one of several things - including announce your candidacy - you have to register with the PDC.  They said letters are going out this week to candidates in all races where the candidate has announced but not registered with the PDC.  The PDC is not an enforcement agency but said that if there is no reply to the letter, then a hearing is scheduled in late July and if no reply there, those names are turned over to the county auditor.  They don't know if candidates who don't register with the PDC would be kicked off the ballot but they would be subject to fines.

Tuesday Open Thread

Have you read thru the District's budgets ?  One funny thing is the cover with "Three Goals - 50,000 Journeys."   Last I looked the District was near 53,000 students.  What about the other 3,000?  Also, page 54, where they show the broad breakdown of "Expenditures" - it adds up to 99%, not 100% .  Must be that Common Core Math.  And guess who's spending is going up the most within SPS?  Central at 16.4% (but they still like to contend they are only 5.8% of the budget with 800 people working at JSCEE). Important new ruling from the State Supreme court on sealing juvenile records .  Story from Crosscut .

More Nonsense about the City's Preschool Program and SPS

Despite the fact that most Board committees only meet once a month, here's another meeting of the Executive Committee for June.  With just a single item on the agenda.  What's that?  Why the next City/SPS Preschool agreement, of course. The odd thing here is that the Executive Committee meeting of the Whole, which was two weeks ago, saw this particular partnership agreement rejected by the Committee to even move it forward for consideration by the Board. Now the Executive Committee meeting of the Whole two weeks ago never had this preschool agreement attached to their agenda so I can't compare what has changed from that one to the new one. From the BAR: Space/Facilities: Seattle Public Schools is experiencing significant enrollment growthand does not have adequate capacity to meet it. Given the opportunity that exists with SPP, the City will be leading conversations to identify space. I almost do not have to write one more single word on this subject because that

Let's Review Those SBAC Promises from OSPI

Thanks to Ann Donovan for this. From OSPI's Smarter Balanced Top 10 Reasons Why Washington is Making the Switch  In the "who says" category - #1 Washington’s new state learning standards in English language arts and math (Common Core) are designed to prepare students for career, college, and life. In the "what the heck does this mean" category - #3 The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium took advantage of each member state’s technical, practical, and political expertise to ensure a blend of everyone. In the "liar, liar" category - #4 Quicker results - Individual scores will be available within three weeks of a student completing the summative tests.

Parenting: What Do You Think?

A couple of interesting articles about parenting have come across my desk in recent weeks. One hits on the topic of "overparenting" or "helicopter" parenting (in all its forms).  I'm sure teachers could give us an earful. From KQED , What Overparenting Looks Like From a Stanford Dean’s Perspective

Take the Seattle 2035 Draft EIS Survey

They are taking input until Thursday, June 18th (why not Friday?).  Here's the one question on Seattle Schools - see anything missing?   Here's the survey .

Garfield Student Press Conference on Latest Field Trip Incident

The Garfield student protest over the possible loss of their beloved choir/musical director was held on Wednesday.  There were about 100 students, many with signs that read, "Bring Back Burton" and "Hurtin' for Burton."  Their statements are included at the end of this thread (these were supplied to me by them).  Here's their ask: We are calling on Seattle Schools, especially Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland to take into consideration the legacy Ms. Burton has built and her day to day performance as a devoted, caring, and invaluable teacher. We encourage friends, former students, colleagues, and the public to send letters in support of Ms. Burton and her positive impact to the email: superintendent@seattleschools. org .

BTA IV Updates

I'm going to go from most recent news to later news. At yesterday's Audit and Finance Committee meeting, there were a few particulars. One was that Dr. Herndon said there will be a July work session where the Board will see the first project list.  He said that nominations can continue to come into the District.  BTA I was $150M.  BTA II was $178M, a modest 19% jump.  However, BTA III was $270M which was a huge 52% leap.  What the notation was on the handout about BTA IV was this: If $350M, then 30%  If $400M, then 48% Keep in mind two things.

Friday Open Thread

The Times has a great story about a student with Asperger's at Marysville Arts and Technology High School becoming valedictorian of his 50 student graduating class.  Chance Mair never told most classmates.  Good with math ( "I can count better than I can talk sometimes" ) and loving bowling, he went from special education classes in his beginning years in school to regular classes.  He will be attending WSU  on a full-ride scholarship.  In his speech to his classmates he said, "We choose whether we sink or swim, stand up or lay down, fight or fall, succeed or fail."   The Olympian is reporting that Governor Inslee will be signing a new state law to expand computer science in high schools by creating standards for teachers and students.  No word on where the money would come from to create these classes.  By popular demand, at least five people have sent me this article from the NY Times on kids and kindergarten.   I absolutely agree with the article and

Seattle Schools Has Reversed its Plan to Change Middle School Assignments for Kimball-Area Kids

From Beacon Hill parents: On Monday, June 8th, Lester "Flip" Herndon from Seattle Public Schools came to Kimball to let us know that SPS staff will now recommend to the School Board that Kimball-area kids stay assigned to Mercer Middle School for the foreseeable future, instead of Washington Middle School.

The District Wants to "Borrow" Capital Money

Hard to know if this is just sloppiness on the part of staff or if they think Board policies really don't mean all they say (just what staff says they say) or if they just think the Board is very dumb. As I say to my readers, I will say to staff, "Words have meaning." My letter to the Board: Dear Directors: Today's A&F meeting sees the district staff wanting this:

President's Education Awards Program

  I have no idea if SPS schools are handing these out federally-based awards but, just in case, here's info about them.

Hug Your Child Tonight

Deepest sympathies to the students, staff and community of  Windward High School near Ferndale. Today, walking back from PE class along a raised sidewalk, four boys were hit from behind by an SUV.  Two were killed, the other seriously injured.  The driver is suspected of being impaired by drugs. Please send prayers and good thoughts to this graduating class, school and community at this terrible and sad time.

Bell Times - Never Mind

Update : From SPS Communications about the EIS: This  This is a state requirement for large programmatic changes within the District.  Legal advised us to conduct the EIS for the bell time change as part of the feasibility study (as they would do for any such possible change that the state could deemed impactful to the environment).  They reviewed the language, consulted our SEPA attorney and determined that this is required under the statute. We will be speaking to this at the Task Force meeting. is a state requirement for large programmatic changes within the District.  Legal advised us to conduct the EIS for the bell time change as part of the feasibility study (as they would do for any such possible change that the state could deemed impactful to the environment). They reviewed the language, consulted our SEPA attorney and determined that this is required under the statute. We will be speaking to this at the Task Force meeting. I could not find the next Task Force meeting date

Olympic View Kids Get Tag Back

News from Olympic View Elementary: Third graders at OV organized to bring back tag at recess---and won. They collected signatures, held lunch meetings, and negotiated with the Principal. One of the agreed upon conditions was the negotiating team would make posters explaining the new tag rules for the school community.

Principals and Curriculum and Programs and Their Schools

Two items have come up that only solidify my belief that the district has a very odd relationship with principals.  I say odd because there is no real way of knowing what the district will tighten the screws on and what they will completely look the other way on. One key issue is WHY principals make some of the decisions that they do and where they get the stated support for some decisions.   Principals say "their community" wants something and yet sometimes the PTA doesn't even know what is happening.  I have found that principals are people with their own philosophies and beliefs about education.  The problem is that a school can have a district program in them as well as a stated focus for the school.  I find it vexing that a new principal can come in and almost sweep all that away.   You can have parents, on the ground at their schools, telling Ex. Directors and others, "this is happening at my school" and the district will ignore it or shrug. It lea

Garfield New Orleans Field Trip Issue Heats Up

Just back from student press conference - I'll report on that later.  I so appreciate their caring for their teacher who sounds like a wonderful teacher and mentor.  But they clearly do not understand the issues for other SPS parents and taxpayers.  They don't believe that what happened rises to the issue of dismissal. One of the students' main issues is the "outdated" rules about same sex students in the room.  They said the boy in question was gay and did not/was not wanted in his assigned room.   One mom at the press conference, not a parent of a current GHS student, said it was a "witchhunt" against the teacher.  When I mentioned that it is alleged there was drinking going on among the chaperones, she said, "We're all human, aren't we?" I'm not sure that some parents and students understand the ramifications of looking the other way.  That's a pretty slippery slope.  The district has put out a press release (see belo

Heads Up on Traffic Around Memorial Stadium Graduations

From SPS: It’s graduation week and with it come a few transportation logistics we want to make sure you’re aware of in advance.

Screenshots are Your Friends

Below is good advice on ANY SPS page that you believe relates to your child's academic career or is important information.  Po3 said... If you have a student who has previously met a state requirement via the HSPE or EOC. I recommend taking a screenshot of their assessment page just in case there is a bait and switch this fall and they try to tell us our students have not met the requirement(s) and remove the assessment from the Source.

Garfield Faces Another Alleged Sexual Assault Incident

Tears of frustration, anger and sadness filled my eyes when I finally learned why the choir teacher at Garfield had been put on administrative leave. ( I knew the teacher had been put on leave a month ago but did not know why.) There was a Garfield choir field trip to New Orleans earlier this year and there was some kind of incident involving an alleged sexual assault on two girls.

Why Are There No SBAC Scores Available?

Remember when you got the message from SPS that said: The timing of the state assessment score reports has changed from June to September. SPS went on to say: Due to unanticipated delays at the state level, the district will now send score reports home in September.  September is the typical timing for state assessment score reports, but the district this year had initially anticipated they would be ready earlier. That "earlier" was never June so why they said that I don't know.  How do I know it was never June? I asked OPSI.

Shelter-in-Place for Schools near Rainier Avenue South

From SPS Twitter feed: Shelter in place: Aki Kurose MS & Graham Hill Elem . to due @ SeattlePD activity in 4600 blk of S. Rainier Pl. No students injured/involved.

Tuesday Open Thread

Thread to come: the Washington Middle School meeting on Spectrum .  Pretty interesting stuff but again, what does it all mean? From the Washington Post, doing some building work on an Oklahoma high school, contractors uncovered chalkboards - intact with lessons - from almost 100 years ago.  What is truly fascinating is one board has a technique to teach multiplication tables that was new to the principal (it's some kind of circle table).  From King5, Renton High votes transgendered teen as their prom queen.  There was also a good story on KUOW on the issue of transgendered children .  Legislative News:

Seatle World School Student Drowns in Lake Washington on Sunday

  Update: please, if you are new to our area - whether from elsewhere in the country or another country - or if you know someone is new to the area, let them know the waters in the Puget Sound, whether it's the Sound or lakes are very, very cold even on the hottest of days.  Even good swimmers can have problems. Sad news from the World School: Dear Seattle World School community, It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I share the tragic news that one of our students, Cuong Uong, drowned yesterday evening while swimming in Lake Washington. He was a junior.

Seattle’s Families and Education Levy May Minutes

Following up on the op-ed by Robert Crunkshank and me, here the the Families& Education Levy minutes/Mid-Year report from May 15, 2015. There are several statements made that tie with what Robert and I are seeing. It's a little funny because there are more staff there than actual committee members.  Superintendent Nyland is on the committee as is Marty McLaren ( I didn't know McLaren was on the committee.)  SPS staff include Pegi McEvoy and Charles Wright along with Jonathan Knapp of SEA.

Seattle’s Families and Education Levy is losing its way

Remember that Big Picture that I am trying to build about Seattle Public Schools? This is one more set of pixels for that picture.  Say what you will but someday - probably soon - you will see all these pixels from a distance and understand the big picture.  This is co-written with Robert Cruickshank who served as a Senior Advisor to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. Seattle’s Families and Education Levy is losing its way Last month, parents at Sand Point Elementary School learned that the City of Seattle had decided to slash a $318,000 Families and Education Levy grant they had worked hard to earn. When parents and staff learned about the sudden cut, they rose to challenge that decision. The dramatic reduction to the grant puts at risk teachers' jobs, instructional supplies, a family support worker, and a school counselor. What was the reason given by the City for taking away the grant funds? It's because the school's principal is leaving for another job . Since this news

Middle School Social Studies Adoption

Social Studies Adoption Committee wants, needs, your input : please inspect the candidate text books and supporting materials and provide your feedback and preferences.   These are the social studies text books middle school students will have for many, many years. So, even if your student is in early primary grades, they will still be affected. Now is the time to speak up! Viewing continues until June 18 th 2015.  All instructional materials are available for viewing at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellent AND at 5 middle school libraries: Hamilton Int'l Washington Madison Aki Kurose Eckstein If your students happen to be at those middle school, urge them to pop by the library and check out the texts and leave feedback. Their input matters! If you visit the school, be sure to stop in at the office first to register as a visitor. They can direct you to the library. (Note: 6 th graders study ancient civilizations, 7 th graders

Poke at Common Core Math on Kids Jeopardy

Alex Trebek doesn't explain it but there was a category on Kids Week called "Non-Common Core Math."  The young man who took it on didn't do so well but I think the lack of parens may have made it harder for him to do in his head. 

Another Denny Carnival Bullying Story

From Diane Ravitch's column (this is a parent who wrote to Seattle Opt Out: This spring the SBA was rolled out in grades 3-8, 10 and 11. We were delighted to learn that there were many opt outs across the Seattle School District, as well as in every corner of the State. We formed the Seattle Opt Out Group in Dec. 2014 and have worked tirelessly in the first half of 2015 to inform parents about opting out and the problems that high stakes standardized tests bring with them. We plan to continue our efforts in earnest over the summer and into the next school year. Yesterday, however, we learned of an event that has us quite alarmed, and we want to proceed in as informed a manner as possible. Apparently at a Seattle middle school the principal forbade students who opted out of the SBA to attend a year-end school carnival last Friday. A parent reached out to us and sent us this note: Here is my daughter’s experience with being excluded from the Denny Carnival

Highline's Outdoor School

The Waskowitz Outdoor School and the WELS program in Highline School District sound really great.  I had never heard of this before. 

Book Sale for Community LIteracy


Washington Middle School Meeting on Spectrum

Washington Middle School principal, Susan Follmer, will be holding a parent meeting about Spectrum La/SS on Monday, June 8th from 4:30-5:30 pm at WMS.   It does not seem that AL staff will be there.

Safe Walk Routes for Schools/City's 2035 Comprehensive Plan Update

Good coverage by Publicola over the Mayor's huge Transportation levy and safe walk/bike routes for students.  The group ( Seattle Greenways ) believes that upgrading walk sheds around the city’s 97 schools with bike and ped safety amenities will transform Seattle into a  perambulatory paradise—not just for kids, but, by planning for kids’ safety, the strategy would simultaneously benefit everyone. Disappointed in the plan’s $7 million line item for Safe Routes to School, they called for $40 million. Mayor Ed Murray spokesman Jason Kelly tells me that despite the $7 million line item listed in the presentation to council, the mayor’s plan actually spends $47 million on Safe Routes to School programs. Kelly says there’s $7 million in the levy, plus $33 million from school zone cameras and $7 million in grants that would complete one Safe Routes to School project at every Seattle public school. Greenways director Cathy Tuttle says she’s well aware of the $47 million fi

"This is the power of an informed public."

So says Edward Snowden in an op-ed in today's NY Times. I'm not Ed Snowden, nor will I ever be, but as I have stated in the past, sometimes you have to be the cheese who stands alone if you are trying to shine a light in the darkest of corners. Our school district is not corrupt nor is it run by venal people.   But I do believe some in senior leadership are listening more to outside influences than to parents, teachers and administrators.  I think they may even be trying to be helpful to those outside forces to allow them to seep into and then, take root in the workings of our district.  I think we are back to the old "need to know" basis at SPS - they'll tell you what they think you need to know. I even think that perhaps the powers that be - given who is running for School Board - have given up on trying to control the Board - they will get control of this district in other ways. I received an e-mail yesterday from an education writers group about fi

Fun Event in the CD Tomorrow

Hopscotch in the CD

Sympathies to the Garfield Community

One of the Americans (among thousands of Nepalese) who was killed in April's earthquake in Nepal is Sydney Jo Schumacher.  Sydney was a 2014 graduate of Garfield where she was on the swim team and active in the outdoor education club, POST, where she was a mentor to many students.  Here's her obituary in the Times. There will be a memorial service at the Garfield High School's Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center, on June 7th at 1:00. This will be followed by a reception in celebration of Sydney's life at the Seattle Tennis Club from 3:00 to 6:00. Please consider donating to one of the following:POST, P.O. Box 22911, Seattle, WA, 98122. - See more at:  There will be a memorial service at Garfield's Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center on June 7th at 1:00 pm.  Deepest sympathies to her family, friends and Garfield community who knew her

SBAC Scores Not Available Until September

From the SchoolBeat Newsletter just sent - SBAC scores not available until Sept: "Expect state test scores in September.  The timing of the state assessment score reports has changed from June to September. These are the score sheets from your student's spring Smarter Balanced tests in reading, writing and math. Last month, the district told families that the score reports would likely be sent home with final report cards in June. Due to unanticipated delays at the state level, the district will now send score reports home in September. Scores also will be posted online to the Source in September. September is the typical timing for state assessment score reports, but the district had initially anticipated they would be ready earlier. Thank you for your patience as we work with this new assessment system. To learn more, please see our Smarter Balanced web page."

Since I Got the Friday Open Thread Wrong, Free Doughnuts

Well, not from me. But apparently tomorrow is National Doughnut Day. - Dunkin Donuts - one free with beverage purchase - Krispy Creme - one free - Top Pot Top Pot is also supporting Northwest Harvest by collecting non-perishable food donations at all 17 Puget Sound Cafes. Purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win a trip for two to Hawaii! You can also win a dozen doughnuts a month for an entire year! See you Friday! - Rodeo Donut (part of Cupcake Royale) - free Stumptown coffee with donut purchase (they are not cheap donuts, fyi)

Good Luck Grads of 2015!

It's graduation season.  It's a time of great happiness and pride for both students and parents as well as school staff.  (And some relief.)  Congratulations to all our SPS graduates - you will probably never know how many good wishes follow you as you graduate.  When we parents look out at all those beautiful, young, hopeful faces, we truly want you to seek your passion in life and then, make a plan and go out there and strive for it. A couple of notable grad stories. In Mississippi, several people, including students, received fines for cheering too loudly at a high school graduation.  I myself have mixed feelings.  While one person describes graduation as a "sacred event," (a description I don't agree with), there has to be some respect for ALL who attend.  Cheering so loudly that you drown out the next student's name being called is not cool.  (Also, bringing an air horn to an indoor graduation, is also not cool but it happened at one son's middl

Friday Open Thread

Have you kept up with the steady stream of toddlers either shooting themselves, their sibs or their parents?  We need some gun regulations with teeth for people who will not secure their guns (whether at home, in the car or at Walmart).  In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie doesn't like Common Core (where, previously, he did).  Oddly, he doesn't want to get rid of the PARCC test that is used there.  Someone must be running for President. Speaking of Pearson (from the Washington Post ), they just had to pay a $7.7M fine to NY State because the "nonprofit" arm of their business had created Common Core products to generate “tens of millions of dollars” for its corporate sister. “The law on this is clear: non-profit foundations cannot misuse charitable assets to benefit their affiliated for-profit corporations,” Schneiderman said in a statement Thursday.  According to the settlement, Pearson used its nonprofit foundation to develop Common Core products in

Meet Seattle Schools' Newest Partner - the City of Seattle

It's been a long day so I can only be brief here (but I'll write more another day).  Two fairly interesting things happened at the School Board meeting tonight. One, there is considerable support for the Middle College High School program , both from community and some Board members.  Speaker after speaker rose to support the program and ask that the Middle College High School at the High Point Neighborhood Center not be closed.  Especially moving was testimony from a former student, Paul Campiche, who said that these were not "throwaway" students and "people who are the most disenfranchised need the most help."  He had been thru the Middle College program, then went to Evergreen and is now in the Master's program at Antioch for counseling.  Peaslee, Peters and Patu (the Peter, Paul and Mary of the Board), in their Board comments, all said they want a second look at this decision (or at least more discussion).   The other Board members were fairly

Executive Meeting of the Whole

The Executive Committee of the Whole will meet tomorrow.  The agenda includes this: Plaintiff is a former student at Nathan Hale High School who alleges that on February 11, 2010, he was weightlifting at school and sustained a significant back injury. He claims that the District failed to properly supervise this activity. This case is currently scheduled for trial in King County Superior Court in late June. The instructor and principal are also current defendants in the lawsuit. Based on all the relevant facts, it is the recommendation of the Acting General Counsel and the outside counsel defending the District that this lawsuit should be settled at this time for $325,000, rath er than allowing this case to proceed to trial. If the Superintendent is authorized to settle this case, a Settlement and Release will be drafted and Plaintiff will release all claims and dismiss the lawsuit against all defendants in exchange for the $325,000 payment.  - also, the Resolution about th

Arson Fire at Nova High School This Morning

From SPD: The Seattle Police Department has increased patrols around Nova High School this morning after suspicious chemicals were found outside  a gender-neutral restroom  shortly after an arson fire was set on campus. Police responded to Nova High School this morning around 7:30 AM after receiving a report someone had set fire to the principal’s office door. The fire was extinguished before it spread. School staff then found a chemical sprayed outside a gender-neutral restroom on campus, and SPD’s Arson/Bomb detectives are investigating whether it is the same substance used to ignite the principal’s office door. Bias Crimes detectives are also reviewing the incident because of the evidence found outside the gender-neutral bathroom. School officials are continuing classes through the day and working closely with police to ensure the safety of students on campus.

Washington State Charter Commission Gives First Place until June 15th

Update : the process is the Charter Commission really bending over backwards to help First Place Scholars stay afloat.  This is NOT the process for revocation of their charter.  If these items are not completed to the satisfaction of the Commission, then the revocation process would probably start.  (Both the Commissioners and the Director of the Commission have given FPS repeated chances to get their ducks in a row and apparently, the Commission has not seen enough progress on those stated issues.) end of update I'm listening into a special phone meeting of the Washington State Charter Commission.  The top agenda item is  First Place Scholars charter school. The Commission is giving First Place until June 15, 2015 to finish corrections that the Commission needed to see to keep First Place as a charter school.  It is quite a lengthy list of items.  (This comes from a 5-2 vote of the Charter Commission whether to give FPS these corrections conditions (5) or not (2).  It'

Three Things You Never Thought You'd See Together

Rep. Reuven Carlyle on the ongoing budget issues during the Legislative Special Session: I have been unrelentingly  critical of the 2015 Senate budget that is predicated on an extraordinary level of marijuana revenues. Unfortunately, thanks in part to a quirk of timing, the non partisan Economic & Revenue Forecast Council is projecting marijuana tax collections that are astronomical and, in my view, based on faulty assumptions. This, in effect, implies that the state Senate’s heavy reliance on marijuana taxes is reasonable. Regardless of the past, marijuana revenues are too new, too uncertain and too unpredictable to be a responsible basis of an education budget. I find it ironic that on the issue of marijuana taxation it is Democrats–who generally supported I-502– who are more cautious and fiscally conservative and  Republicans –who generally opposed I-502– who are acting more like big spending addicts Carlyle has some compelling reasoning on some in the Sena

High School Teachers on Administrative Leave

One teacher at Garfield was put on administrative leave after a school choir trip to New Orleans earlier this year. Two teachers at Ballard are on administrative leave. I normally might not put this up with so few details but there are a couple of concerns. One, Garfield has had several issues around teacher supervision and school trips.  The last one created upheaval around Title IX issues. And now there's another one.  Hearing from a couple of parents, there is concern this teacher might not come back and apparently, is well-liked. For Ballard, it seems odd that two teachers would be put on administrative leave at just about the same time.  But the district will say nothing as "it's a personnel" matter.  Again, I get that but it does create confusion for students when teachers suddenly disappear. 

Inclusion in Schools

Why, what it is, how to make it work and methods of implementing it.  A reader requested this thread. Two items to note.  Most of the searches on inclusion and education are around Sped students.  But yes, there is a whole subset of research on inclusion and gifted education.  I found a very good article about inclusion and gifted education that could be a the blueprint for going forward in SPS.  But SPS has not revealed what they are doing or why so it's hard to know if there is planned change for HC or just change. Let's start the discussion .

Ask a Teacher, "What Do You Make?"

Best thing I've heard all day.

Seattle Schools Waitlist Whoops

As you may recall, a parent had written to me in confusion over how her daughter was on  place on the kindergarten waitlist, only to move downward days later.  She said something had to have changed. An eagle-eyed reader, found this new page at the SPS website, Waitlist Order Update, and it confirms what many of you thought. (Now I note - an issue of HUGE importance to parents throughout the district - and it's not even on the front page of the district's website.) Following the completion of Open Enrollment, an error was discovered in the priority system for waitlisting students. The distance tiebreaker was inadvertently left out of the waitlist priorities.     As a result, the initial waitlist order was incorrect. We have since corrected the error and placed students on waitlists based on the correct tiebreaker set , including the distance tiebreaker. 

Denny Issue over Opting Out

Sometimes you cannot believe what you read.  Indeed that was my reaction to both Principal Clark's explanation of his not allowing any student who opted out of the SBAC to go to the school carnival last Friday.  Below is the explanation I received from SPS Communications, along with an e-mail that Director McLaren sent to him and my reply. Read my reply carefully because you will see why this  - is - wrong.  (bold mine) The 2015 My Best Performance Carnival at Denny International Middle School In addition to many special activities throughout the year, for the past ten years, Denny has hosted a carnival at the end of the state testing period for those scholars who have given their best performance. The scholars’ effort is tracked on a form called the “My Best Performance Rubric,” a copy of which is located in their student planners. The rubric includes categories such as: ·         positive attitude ·         time management ·         reading inst

Tuesday Open Thread

 Tell your kids about this - those Instagram photos ?  They don't own them once they are on Instagram AND they can be publicly shown AND someone can make money off them.  From the Washington Post: The Internet is the place where nothing goes to die. Those embarrassing photos of your high school dance you marked “private” on Facebook? The drunk Instagram posts? The NSFW snapchats? If you use social media, you’ve probably heard a warning akin to “don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your employer (or future employer) to see.” We agree, and are adding this caveat: Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want hanging in an art gallery. Safe Routes to Schools needs YOUR help.  Here's 10 ways you can make getting to school safer for students. Great info-map on the relative size of Africa - show the kids. Congrats to West Seattle High School softball coach, Trevor Leopold as Metro Coach of the Year.  His team is on their way to state finals.  Good luck, Wildcats! What