Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mayday! Mayday! SOS! SOS!

So now do I have your attention?

I am going to try to channel Ernest Hemingway and write in short, declarative sentences.

Send this thread to your PTA/PTO president.  If for no other reason than to notify them because Seattle Schools is NOT going to until it is all a done deal.

There is a Board meeting this week on Wednesday, Nov. 4th, starting at 4:15 pm.

On the long agenda is this item - Approval of the Student Assignment Plan.  

Since the original overhaul of the student assignment plan several years back (dubbed New Student Assignment Plan), there have been various tweaks.  Small ones.

But now the staff tried with the Board and is now trying with parents to, basically, sneak in HUGE changes that will affect every single family.  This is what I hope the NEW Board will say, no (and hell no) to.  If the current Board votes yes, it's a vote against transparency and families. 

From WSDWG from Friday, October 30th:
JSCEE staff slipped this in today, at the last minute, and much later than it's purported time of 4:15 p.m. (Total BS. There was nothing on the SPS sight at 4:55 p.m., when I last looked).  

The "it?"  The red-lined version of the Student Assignment Plan.

BAR with redlined Student Assignment Plan.  There is some irony that I write this on Halloween as the red-lined version looks like a bloodbath.  I note the BAR has the good grace to no longer say that these are "minor" revisions.

I was looking for it as well and it was verified to me that Board members did not receive this before Friday.  As you will read below, many on the Board were very uncomfortable with NOT getting timely information.  This red-lined version is NOT timely to the Board or parents.  Shame on the staff for this.  

I will have a separate thread for what (and where) you can show your displeasure but you should be up in arms over this.  

Friday, October 30, 2015

BTA IV and Operations Levies Public Comment

Not so many comments but a lot of QAE parents coming in support of Principal David Elliott.  Several of them did manage to speak on QAE via BTA IV and thought acquitted themselves quite nicely.

Friday Open Thread

Good morning (on a gray one).  Tell me, what is your kid going to be for Halloween?  Probably a good idea to bring an umbrella, according to the weather forecasts.

A last-minute (truly) School Board candidate forum has sprung up.  It's Monday, November 2nd from 7:30-9:00 pm at the Queen Anne Community Center (gym.)  It's being organized by the QAE community.  It's fairly late to have one of these but, then again, there are a pitiful number of ballots that have been returned. Out of 419,578 registered voters in Seattle, only 58,428 ballots have been returned with 56,948 waiting to be counted for school board races.  That's under 15%. 

Speaking of school board campaigns, Director McLaren's e-mails to supporters say:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Follow-Ups and Did You Know?

Did you know that the district has rank ordered programs/support activities in district buildings?  The reasoning is two-fold - for enactment of 1351 for smaller class sizes in K-3 and the growth in Seattle Schools.  Here's the list from a letter that Flip Herndon sent on Oct. 13, 2015 to "Seattle Public School Partners:"

What if the lie of Spectrum or ALO were challenged?

I don't know if this effort would be at all worthwhile, but I would really like to see someone try it.

Given the presumption and the suspicion that the advanced learning at most ALOs exists exclusively on paper, and that blended Spectrum is no different from an ALO, which is no different from nothing... has anyone ever tried to get their child's teacher or principal to provide evidence of an advanced learning opportunity?

What would happen - or, if someone has tried it, what has happened - when a parent or guardian demands evidence that a school is actually providing the advanced learning opportunity that the Board Policy 2190 and the Superintendent Procedure 2190SP requires?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Assessments Have Started (even for some kindergartners)

I have heard from parents that assessments have started for some elementary students.  But naturally, parents aren't being informed about this.

Seattle Opt-Out.

Here's a link to the K-8 assessments.

Here's a link to the high school assessments.

Some schools still use MAP (except in high school)and some will use Amplify.  One parent said she was told that Amplify was being used for "instructional differentiation." 

From the Soup for Teachers page via Erin Kinsells Klones:

MAP can potentially be administered three times a year: Sept. 21-Oct. 30, Jan 4-29 and May 9-June 10. 

WaKIDS can also be administered, in buildings that have all-day state-funded K, Aug. 1-Oct. 29, Oct. 30-Feb. 14 and Feb. 15-July 31. 

This information is available on the District website. 

Now the tricky part, the part that concerns us greatly: parents may or may not be informed. Crazy, we know, but that is part of the work we're doing. School admin at your building SHOULD give you a testing calendar and inform you not only of the test but what it is going to be used to discover, who will have access to the data (may shock you, just a heads-up), how long the testing will take, who will conduct it and how the social/emotional health of your child will be monitored during the potentially stressful event. 

We'd love to see an opt-out form given out to parents in the first day packets that come home with kids, too, but the District isn't too jazzed about that! 

So...I recommend that you talk to your child's teacher and see if they are administering MAP and/or WaKIDS, and when. Then ask questions, informed, perhaps, by what I share with you here, and realize that YOU CAN OPT YOUR CHILD OUT OF ALL TESTING IN GRADES K-8 WITH NO PROBLEM, WHATSOEVER!! You don't need a form, you can write your opt out note on a napkin. Seriously. Be sure and opt out of practice tests and make-up tests, too.

How Did Washington State Students Do on NAEP?

From OSPI:

How many states scored statistically higher than Washington?

NAEP Scores Drop; Duncan Says,"Don't Worry"

Now what if there were NO Common Core standards being enacted?  Would he be quite so calm?  He was quite happy in 2013 when the scores went up and he crowed about how all eight states using CCSS showed improvement in at least one score with none declining.  Today?

“Big change never happens overnight,” Duncan said. “I’m confident that over the next decade, if we stay committed to this change, we will see historic improvements.”

Wonder What He Would Do to K-12?

I cannot imagine who would bring us more grief - President Trump or President Carson - and I don't want to find out.

From Daily Kos:
Ben Carson: I'll turn Department of Education into investigator of professors' 'political bias'

To briefly recap, the retired right-wing neurosurgeon argued last week that he doesn’t want to shut down the federal Department of Education; he’d prefer to turn it into an investigatory body in which it would “monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias.” If a Carson administration decided it disapproved of the “extreme” political speech on a university campus, the school would lose its federal funding.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

MIF/new Scope and Sequence

Have at it - this is one subject I'm not up-to-date on except for the number of parents who say Math in Focus is not being used at their school.

School Governance

The Board has a policy F20.00 (last revised April 1996) around school governance.  It speaks of "school governance structures such as, but not limited to, local site councils, leadership teams and/or school management teams."

I have also heard from parents that parents are not always included on Building Leadership Teams (BLTs).  There are also Site Councils which can include parents and students as well as staff.  The BLTs are much more building governance and Site Council is more about planning and goals.

But one key item that generally happens if your school does has a Site Council is that they have some degree of input in any principal search.  

I'd be interested if readers could let me know what the structure is at their school. I'd also be interested in readers who ask their principals about Site Council and/or BLT. 

My experience is that this "school governance" that includes parents is very hit or miss and is largely dependent on the principal. 

Tuesday Open Thread

Speaking of class size, teachers in Kelso are trying two teachers in a classroom.  Story from Longview Daily News.

Thanks to new state money, the Kelso School District was able to hire Jennings to reduce K-3 class sizes at Rose Valley and Carrolls elementaries. That state money was a partial fulfillment of the voter-approved Initiative 1351, which the Legislature declined to finance fully for four more years. 

The teachers and their principal, Mark Connolly (who is principal at both Rose Valley and Carrolls), say doubling up gives them more time to work with small groups of students and improves their teaching skills by giving them another educator to talk with.

From Soup for Teachers:
WA PTSA's #1 priority is Funding McCleary. The Ballard HS PTSA board and general membership recently voted to pass a resolution urging legislators to promptly address the McCleary ruling. Please consider contacting your local representatives urging them to "Fund McCleary Now!" That's it. No need to write a long letter. Here's a link to find your state legislators: http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/

The governor also needs to hear from us. You can contact him at https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/.

Write the Governor today (and every week) and tell him this needs to get done.  The Governor and the Legislature need to fill some real pressure.

Following on the heels of the Rainier Beach HS town hall on transportation comes news that the King County Council voted to end a policy that criminally charged youth for fare evasion on Metro.  From KIRO:

County Code currently makes the non-payment of bus fare a potential misdemeanor offense for youth. The charge could also lead to the accused being banned from riding the bus, even if it is their only source of transportation. Now, fare evasion remains only a civil citation for youth and adults. 

On the heels of President Obama's announcement of the desire to cut back on testing (read the fine print) comes a KIRO tv report that includes input from Professor Wayne Au, UW Bothell, and SPS teacher, Jesse Hagopian.   A longer explanation of why Obama's words are somewhat hollow comes from blogger Peter Greene.

What's on your mind?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind

Washington State Supreme Court Ruling on Charter School Law News Roundup

In what can only be called the pot calling the kettle black, ten Washington State legislators have filed an amicus brief (friend of the court) to the Washington State Supreme Court about the Court's ruling on the charter school law.

Folks, apparently we may have a pissing match going on.  While I appreciate that there are some in the Legislature who really like charter schools, this kind of amount to telling someone their job.  Now perhaps some in the Legislature (maybe a majority for all we know), believe that the McCleary ruling (and all that has come after) was treading on the Legislature's delicate toes. 

So maybe this is some of those legislators trying to toss this back into the Corut's face and telling THEM that they don't know how to do their jobs.  And maybe some are trying to be deliberately provocative. 

It should tell us all that when January starts, charters may be the wedge to get McCleary done. 

From the News Tribune:

BTA IV Project List

 Update:  here is a link to all the updated BTA IV documents.  There is now a line:

Capital and Technology Financing Obligations principal payments - $8.1M

Where did this money come from (did they add dollars or rearrange?)  They rearranged but I'm not sure what projects lost what.

Now I did ask if this is all just to pay off JSCEE.  The answer was...not sure.  I really would love a full accounting of all that has been paid into JSCEE, how much remains, when payments are due and when there is an end in sight.  This is patently ridiculous at this point.  While I realize there is virtually NO one at JSCEE who helped enact this nonsense, the fact of the matter is a lot of people there - both on the Board and in management - have kicked this can down the road for a very long time.

end of update

In advance of Wednesday's public comment meeting for BTA IV levy and the Operations levy, I have uploaded the handout from the community meetings labelled, "Seattle Schools BTA IV Proposed Project, September 30, 2015.  The district's calendar and the Board page have no links for this information.

I am hearing conflicting things about whether this includes money to go to pay off the bonds purchased in order to buy the JSCEE.  I don't see it included and I was told it would be added.

I will again state that BTA has NEVER been for building renovation.  It was always sold to voters as mostly maintenance levy with tech/athletics/academics.  (I have the old handouts.)  But with capacity issues, it has morphed into BEX Jr.  

I won't go over everything but some thoughts.

Bell Times Comparisons

Update:  from the Start School Later Seattle group, they are urging a "yes" vote on the current bell times plan.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Seattle Schools This Week

A quiet week but maybe the quiet before the storm that may be the results of elections next week.

The UW's College of Education Master in Ed Policy is having a documentary film series on public education with panel discussions on each topic covered in each film.  This week, they will cover The Cartel.

The CartelTuesday, October 27th, 6-8pm, 120 Smith Hall, UW Seattle

Get that Ballot In!

From Sol's Civic Minute on elections:

First of all, mail in your ballot by next Tuesday, November 3rd! Here are some helpful links:
On Cliff Mass' school board picks I'll just note that if math is the only issue for you, listen to him. It's my belief that single issue candidates are not the best picks.

You know my picks for the Board: Pinkham, Geary, Burke and Harris.

Sue Peters Community Meeting

I attended this meeting yesterday, along with at least 60 parents (plus School Board candidate Leslie Harris).  Director Peters did a superlative job in handling the crowd.

There were two topics; bell times and the QAE issue.

Queen Anne Elementary Update

Update #2: I asked the district to answer some basic questions on this issue.  Some are about timing, some were about this issue of a missing laptop - none were answered.  "It's a personnel matter."  But naturally, if the laptop was owned by the district - effectively, you and me - then yes, we get to ask.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Underfunded Schools Forced To Cut Past Tense From Language Programs

From the Onion.

"With our current budget, the past tense must unfortunately become a thing of the past."

"For some, reading and writing about things not immediately taking place was almost as much a part of school as history class and social studies." 

"That is, until we were forced to drop history class and social studies a couple of months ago," Reynolds added.

Have a good weekend.

No Praying at School Events

Update: on another football story, Ballard and Roosevelt face off tonight for the City Football Championship.  Best of luck to both teams (but I have to say it - go Roughriders!)

End of update

 I had heard about this story and, apparently, Superintendent Dorn had to speak out (see end of thread).

Joe Kennedy, the assistant football coach at Bremerton High, has been leading a prayer on the field directly after the games.  Sometimes opponents and fans stay as well. He claims he is just saying a prayer by himself.

But clearly, if he is a coach and he's saying the prayer, out loud and on the field directly after a game, it's a problem.

From CNN:

Friday Open Thread

Yet another eventful week.

Attended the great Rainier Beach High School town hall on transportation.  It is a weird thing to have kids begging for help to get to school.

Please Tell the Library No

Remember that survey from Seattle Public Library about "rebranding?"  The one with the fairly hideous logos?  From The Stranger:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Seattle Schools Releases Final Staffing Adjustments

Update: I almost hate to post this but the Times decided to opine on this issue.  I'm not sure most of you will appreciate it.  Basically:

The district is not eliminating staff positions because of lower-than-expected enrollment but instead is moving some teachers and staff to the schools with the most demand.

But they also say this which is funny considering they NEVER hold senior leadership accountable for lack of transparency in spending:

While it’s clear the state must put more money into education, it’s also true that individual school districts must spend every dollar as effectively as possible — for the benefit of students.

end of update

From SPS Communications (Editor's note: I broke up this press release into more paragraphs for easier reading):

SEATTLE–Seattle Public Schools will add certified staff to five schools next week, and reassign only seven certified staff to other schools, out of nearly 1,100 general education staff (elementary, middle, K-8).

Seattle School Board Race Updates

District 6
Last night, the King County Labor Council voted to rescind their dual endorsement for Marty McLaren and Leslie Harris to a sole endorsement for Harris.  It appears that Jonathan Knapp played a hand in getting the dual endorsement back in May but McLaren's apparent lack of support for teachers during the strike changed minds. Letter from King County Labor Council to Marty McLaren.

As well, Teamsters Joint Council 28 recently endorsed Harris.

Free Health Services Today Thru Sunday, October 23rd At Seattle Center

From KING-5 tv:

Seattle's KeyArena will turn into a free health clinic October 22 to 25, offering medical, dental and vision care at no cost to underserved and vulnerable populations.

Dorn Will Not Run Again

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn announced this morning that he will not seek reelection.  He said that he will continue to fight on to see schools fully funded because of his "extreme frustration" over the system of funding public education.

But such a system doesn't exist to day, and I see little, if any, progress toward creating one."

He calls out the Governor, the Legislature and even the Supreme Court for not imposing "sanctions meaningful enough to compel the Governor and Legislature to act." 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Queen Anne Elementary Principal Leaves

Second Update:  There will be a rally and petition signing tomorrow, Friday the 23rd, at 9:15 am at Queen Anne Elementary.  

Update: a parent sent me a reply from Ms. Pritchett.  I won't print it in full because I don't know if it a general parent letter but basically she stated:

- that it was Mr. Elliott's choice to go "on leave."  That's a bit odd because her first letter to parents said he resigned.  I could be wrong but resigning generally means leaving the place of employment.  Leave is walking away for awhile while some matter gets settled.  

end of update

This is quite stunning as David Elliott was a dedicated principal who left one school, Coe, to helm the start-up of Queen Anne Elementary.  I know many parents are saddened and upset and want answers.

One parent told me he/she feels certain it is not a health issue as Mr. Elliott is unlikely to have started the school year only to leave so abruptly.

Also the Executive Director does not say that he is going on to another school in SPS.

I can only add that the highest number of complaints I ever hear about from readers about an executive director is about Sarah Pritchett.  

Seattle Schools has lost a great principal.

Seattle School Board Meeting for October 21, 2015

I'm a little late in writing this up but here are the highlights of what is to be discussed at tonight's Board meeting.

There is to be a presentation called, "Can Assessment Actually Improve Schools?" by one Rick Stiggins.  (There is no link to his presentation.) That's a ludiacious title because, of course assessments can help.  It's how many, the cost, the time and the actual assessments themselves that are at issue. But here are his seven principles of assessment and it's fascinating that he doesn't mention data once.

Mr. Stiggins is - surprise - part of the Pearson Assessment Training Institute.  He also has his own website.  He's not here out of the goodness of his heart but I have no idea how much he is being paid.


The speakers list is full with 13 people on the waitlist.  Many of the speakers are addressing bell times and transportation and school staffing cuts.  One speaker stands out - Jane Broom who is the Director at Microsoft Community Affairs and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Education who will be speaking on the topic of the Alliance. (I had previously misidentified Ms. Broom as working for the Alliance.) 

Highlights of Agenda

Seattle Youth Commission

Seattle Youth Commission logoThis Commission is looking for new members.

From the City:

The Seattle Youth Commission is a group of Seattleites aged
13-19 from all over the city who are appointed by the Mayor and City Council to connect youth to their elected officials.

October 21, 2105 - Recognize this Day?

C'mon, it's the day that Marty and Doc Brown set the clock to in the Delorian so Marty could save his kids in Back to the Future Part II.  It's finally here. 

CNN quiz.  As they say, "think like McFly."

30 things the movie got right (and wrong) from CityLab

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Alliance Doubles Down

Unbelievable but true.  Not only does the Alliance say - via a Times op-ed by CEO Sara Morris and Jon Bridge -  that the district is making a mistake in ending the relationship, they don't even admit they did a thing wrong. Here are both letters.

Kind of amazing considering that the district has been trying, for literally years and years, to steady and make better the relationship with the Alliance.  The district wrote quite a detailed accounting of the issues, which the Alliance answered with their letter including a refutation chart, and now, an op-ed saying how much this partnership means ...to the district.

There was no partnership left.  Here's what I said in my comments at the Times:

Ballard High Area Alert

From Principal Keven Wynkoop,

Concord Elementary Sends United Message to Nyland

Good afternoon, 

I'm writing to you on behalf of the community of parents, guardians, and teachers at Concord International Elementary school who together, wrote and gathered over 300 signed copies of the letter attached to this email in two days.

Bell Times: They Will Be A'Changin'

This Wednesday's School Board meeting sees the Superintendent's introduction to change bell times.  What has happened is that a large number of schools - primarily elementary schools - have shifted to Tier Two, leaving about 13 schools in Tier One (I think there are eight elementaries). 

What appears -to me- to be happening is that the Super and staff are trying to get the "We want two tiers" out of people's minds.  Staff doesn't really want to have to suss out the real costs and present them to parents. (Do I think it is truly $8M for two tiers? No.)

So how to divert parents off that idea? Whittle down the Third Tier to a handful of schools and let other parents attack Tier Three parents for being "selfish" to not think of the greater good. 

Brilliant on the part of staff and not-so-lucky for the Tier Three people. 

But I think so much time has gone by, that it's likely a done deal if only because people are probably now tired of talking it to death.

For the record, I think, for ALL students concerned, the district should have provided real numbers on the costs, found that money and had two tiers. This is real and vital part of the school day for BOTH students and parents. 

Tuesday Open Thread

I attended the "listening tour" last night by members of the Legislature who appeared to want input on how to fund McCleary but had their own Senate bill that they presume will solve this issue.  I'll have a separate thread but the kid speakers did it best (along with the panel of teacher/principal/superintendents.  (One guy got thrown out of the room for interrupting and I had to ask a couple of legislators have a confab while I was talking if they might stop talking.)

Readers, I have a question for you - district or District when I am talking about our "district?"  I go back and forth but it seems I should be more consistent.  I'm thinking upper-case but I note that the Times goes lower-case.

The district has a blurb for parents about Schoology.  A couple of things to wonder about: 1) nothing is mentioned about student data privacy and 2) just like The Source, Use is optional for our teaching staff.

Edu Speak - Friday Memo to the Board of October 2

We hear a lot about Edu-Speak, the obscure jargon of education administration professionals that appears designed to create the illusion of science and action where there is neither. As a classic example, I present the Teaching and Learning Update from the October 2, 2015 Friday Memo to the Board. It's about the implementation of MTSS and I challenge you all to find meaning in it. To me, it seems to say that the folks in the JSCEE have wistfully unreasonable expectations for the magic of MTSS but they have no effective means of implementing it. Instead, they can only fantasize about the miracles it would bring if only... if only. It's like someone daydreaming about winning the lottery when they didn't even buy a ticket.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Crucial Voting for Seattle School Board

It happens every single time there are school board races - that it is VITAL to vote and get the right people on the Board.

I will admit that last time, in trying to find good candidates for a couple of races, I certainly got fooled.  I really thought that Sharon Peaslee and Marty McLaren were change agents.  They did present themselves that way even as I realized they really didn't know the district well. My vetting of them found two fired-up women ready to come in and ask hard questions.  Well, that really didn't happen (or it was piecemeal and uneven).

I read everything I could find online and attended five candidates forums.  

Here are my picks for School Board, some with comments and some I just decided that I will let the candidates' words speak for themselves.

Who I'm Voting for to Sit on the Seattle City Council

I view the City Council races in two ways. One, public education in Seattle.  I want people on the Council who know where the line is between the district running itself and the City's role in supporting that effort.

Two, livability in Seattle (which I think is becoming an issue as our growth shoots up like a firecracker.)

I want progressives on the City Council so my choices are:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Seattle Schools Updates

From Sped PTSA:

Please be assured that the October Seattle Special Education PTSA meeting IS STILL BEING HELD on October 20th 7pm - 9pm at West Seattle High School (in the library). 

Confirmed speakers are:
Israel Vela
Executive Director of Schools
Southwest Region
Seattle Public Schools
And Mike Starosky, Chief of Schools.

*Please Note - There is some confusion as our meeting was to originally be held directly after the Seattle School Districts SpEd Regional meeting.  The SPS SpEd Department cancelled their meeting.
They have rescheduled their Regional Meeting to Nov. 10th.

The Seattle SpEd PTSA has decided to keep our meeting as it was originally scheduled on Oct. 20th.
Please help spread the word, and pass this information on! Thank you.

We hope to see you there!

Rainier Beach High School 

RBHS is holding a transportation summit on Thursday, October 22nd around the number of kids at the school who have to walk there thru unsafe territory.  It's at RBHS at 6 p.m.  Guests include Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Bruce Harrell. Transit Riders Union petition in support.
Currently, only students who live more than two miles (as the crow flies) from their school are eligible for a free ORCA pass subsidized by the school district. Not only is four or more miles a long way to walk to and from school, often there is no safe route to walk, due to dangerous traffic or neighborhoods.
So the rule is 2 miles+ to get an ORCA card.  But here you have a school that is building its enrollment AND has a more variable landscape for the kids to walk - you'd think some of the administration spending would go to help these students.  I mean if you truly wanted to keep kids in high school, you make sure you have a safe way for them to get there.

From SPS Communications, news that two SPS art teachers have been honored.  Eckstein's Jennifer Heller has been named Middle School Art Educator of the Year by the Washington Art Education Association. As well, Montlake’s Jennifer Lundgren is WAEA’s Elementary Art Educator of the Year. Heller and Lundgren are among five award recipients statewide who will be honored at the WAEA Fall Conference in Leavenworth on Oct. 24.

Both teachers share the conviction that art class should serve as a refuge and an outlet – especially for stressed or struggling students.

“The kids who maybe don’t really shine in their classroom come in here and they can just – we like to say – let their freak flag fly a little,” says Lundgren. “They find their voice in here. It’s really great and powerful to see.”

I love that "let your freak flag fly" - I think that IS what art is about.

Russell Wilson visited Dunlap Elementary and helped out in the garden.  (Be sure to turn down the volume if you watch this video - the screams are very loud.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Advanced Learning Update

From a parent: Finally got an email from AL: 
"Students who did not receive a testing appointment notice for Saturday October 17 will be rescheduled for another date and time as soon as possible. All referred students will be tested. Our new interim system successfully scheduled almost 400 SPS and private school students for our first Saturday testing event. Circumstances beyond our control prevented some families from being notified in a timely manner. We apologize for the inconvenience."

District Can't Quit the Alliance That Fast

As I reported, the district and the Alliance for Education each put out a letter, outlining the dissolution of their 20-year partnership.  As I also said, there is something bittersweet to this as the Alliance started with the blessing of the late Superintendent John Stanford.  Here they are in one place at Scribed.

I was around then and I always did think of the Alliance as its own separate self but it was very much put forth as being a fundraising (to help meet challenges and gaps and provide enrichment) group as well as a civic cheerleading group for the district.  I remember the early years of pre-first-day-of-school pep rallies at Mariners field with a huge number of parents, teachers and children.

But there was a lot of upheaval and the Alliance morphed much more towards its business side.  I believe the Alliance was impatience with the slowness of change and very much wished it could control who sat on the Board and their governance.

But these letters! Well, there's some hurt feelings, misunderstandings and at least one item that I suspect could end up in court.

Highlights from the district:

Student Data Privacy; Gotta a Story?

A PBS producer is looking for parents who can talk about specific instances of where they think their child's data has been breached or abused, and they have been harmed as a result. She wants at least 5 specific parent /kids stories to profile for this piece.  She is not interested in Class Dojo.

This is her email:  CMcGrath@epe.org

Friday Open Thread

What a week.

I'll have to have a separate thread with both the district's goodbye letter to the Alliance for Education AND the Alliance's own long, detailed (with a chart!) rebuttal to what the district says are the issues between them.  It's not over by a long shot and I believe there are hurt feelings all around.  I do have some idea, though, about how we can create a real civic booster group for SPS.

Apparently Advanced Learning reported a power outage yesterday and some families who should have gotten a testing notice did not.  (I believe testing starts tomorrow.)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Unhappy with the District?

In addition to the perennial issues of the district - Special Education, Advanced Learning, ELL, building conditions, the debt on JSCEE and, of course, funding - we have more that have risen up.  To wit:

- staffing cuts at more than 25 schools this year
- bell times
- City's pre-K and their ever-increasing desire for space in the district
- capacity issues
- facilities' issues
- curriculum choices/use
- increased spending at district administration

(Please, add to the list.)

The clamor is ever louder.  The frustration is growing - for teachers, parents, students, principals.  I'm sure district staff is frustrated but senior management is large and in charge and really, most of it is on them.  They HAVE to find better and more transparent ways to communicate.

It really is the communications that is killing them.  They refuse to treat parents as adults and give them full explanations of current situations.  They obfuscate, they deflect, they tell half the story and it is hurting this district. 

But what to do?  I would say - as I frequently do when senior staff don't appear to be listening - the district needs a shock to the system.  But maybe a gradual build-up might just do the trick.

At Yesterday's (Kinda) Wild Executive Committee Meeting of the Whole

It was a hugely important meeting, if a bit wild.  Because there is SO much happening right now for our district and I'm trying to chase down so much information, I only have time for highlights:

The district has ended its relationship with the Alliance for Education (for the most part).  I will scan and post their letter but it is very damning.  Basically, the district says it has been trying, for years, to get on a better footing with the Alliance.  There are several allegations by the district.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Seattle Schools 2015 October Enrollment Numbers

Reader 47 posted this link to the October Enrollment counts.  Thanks.

One early read:

First crazy bits of info from the new 5-yr projections:

1. They used the May 2015 projections of October 2015 enrollment as their 2015/16 projection, rather than the current actual October data. So are the projections are built upon a current year enrollment of 51,745 rather than the 52,399 we actually have. Why start with data you know aren't accurate? Maybe because the lower number helps hide the capacity crisis?

2. Hamilton shows 1068 for the current year, when it's actually close to 1100. Next year's projection is a whopping 1172--so that might be closer to 1200 if they started with the current true count. In either case, there's no way all those kids can fit. Good luck with that!


Tweets from Press Conference

1h1 hour ago
“It’s a balancing act,” says ’ Jacque Coe — says there are schools that beat enrollment projections and in need of teacher.

“These are not cuts. No one is losing their job,” said spox Jacque Coe of impending teacher shuffle.

Why not allocate teachers conservatively to avoid cuts? says that's logistically tough. Adding teachers also disruptive.

Seattle Schools News Update

Coming fast and furious.

The District is have a press briefing right now over the staffing cuts (with less than an hour's notice to reporters - I could not have made it down there).  I'll let you know what is reported out by other media sources.

Second, there's this new Bell Times schedule possibility,dated Oct. 13. 2015, but I have no time to really review it.  It is three-tier and labelled "cost neutral."

Discuss among yourselves.

Kids Not Cuts Updates

The Board has now smushed today's Executive Committee of the Whole together with the Work Session.  Agenda here.

Kids Not Cuts is planning to listen in, hoping the Board may talk about the current staffing issues.  The meeting starts at 4:30 pm so be there by 4:15 pm if you want to sit with the group. 

To the meeting topics:

- Preschool - there is some delusion out there that City's pre-K program is both going to expand in SPS as well as trump before-after school program space.  Given the two classrooms that are City-enrolled and way under capacity, I find it hard to understand how the district could choose to take on more.

- Alliance for Education.  This should be interesting, given how bad the relationship has been for the past year.

Hale School Board Candidate Forum Tomorrow Night

Nathan Hale Government classes are putting on a student led Election Forum the evening of Thursday, October 15th from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center involving candidates for Seattle School Board and would like to invite you, your friends and your neighbors to attend. Candidates will make short opening statements, respond to questions from students, and then make a short summary statement. Be an informed citizen and attend!

Kids Not Cuts Picks Up Speed

 The Seattle Times has two stories on the staff cuts at more than 25 Seattle Schools.

One is Danny Westneat's column whose headline made me smile, "Outraged Seattle Public Schools parents, pace yourselves."  Sigh. He's right.  (BUT I do believe we ARE hitting a tipping point and it is to the parent side. Sadly, there will be more pain before healing but I believe the day of reckoning is coming and parents are going to (mostly) win this one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kids Not Cuts Gets Political

Update 2: Word is that not all members of the School Board even saw the letter (no less signed-off on it) before it was sent.  I think that an appalling lack of respect.  This continues a theme on the Board as Board members were not told that Principal Chappelle was leaving for a city job in education.   I have to wonder about Director McLaren out on the campaign trail, denigrating the previous Board and saying that her Board works together.  She must have a different idea of what "collaborative" means."

Update 2: My apologies to Rep. Walkinshaw.  He DID sign this letter. (Thank you to reader Ivan.)

Update: Below this letter is the Board's response which I consider disingenuous.  The district is NOT cutting these jobs; they are moving them from one building to another.  Maybe I'm missing something.

Also: following Dems debate, Bernie Sanders was the only candidate to mention education in his opening remarks.

end of update

Editor's Note: the Board apparently wrote back and seemingly was not happy with the input from the delegation.  I will post when I receive.  Also, I note that Rep. Reuven Carlyle, Speaker Frank Chopp, Rep. and Senator Jamie Pedersen did not sign this letter. Pedersen and Carlyle are SPS parents.

And How Many Cookies to Save Teachers at 25+ Schools?

Tuesday Open Thread

From City of Seattle:

"...We still have trees in need of good homes! If you, a friend, neighbor, or family member have room in the yard for a beautiful Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), grand fir (Abies grandis), or willow oak (Quercus pehllos), please let me know. The yard tree application is still open and we're still accepting applications for these lovely yard trees. Send your friends to our website to learn more.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I look forward to seeing you at the workshop on October 24th!
Katie Gibbons
Seattle reLeaf Project Manager
(206) 684-3979

Hearing from the Kids Not Cuts group that one school, having gone to their principal about the staff cuts, he/she directed them to the Ex. Director for that region, Sarah Pritchett.  Ms. Prichett's office is refusing to take messages, directing them back to their principal.  That directly goes against the established protocol AT the district's website.  As well, appealing to the board director of that region, Stephan Blanford, has gotten no answer as well.

Very disturbing and "talk to the hand" stuff.

In the "Brother, can you spare a reader" category, ed blogger Mercedes Schneider reports:

On September 03, 2014, I wrote a post about Education Post, a nonprofit set up to pretty much just operate a pro-corporate-reform-promoting blog. Upon start-up, EdPost scraped together $12 million.
Now that’s one expensive blog.

It turns out that billionaire Eli Broad convinced Peter Cunningham, former communications official for (freshly resigned) US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to run the cushy, pro-privatization blog operation.

EdPost has been in operation for just over a year, and it seems that Cunningham can’t seem to attract what he cannot purchase:


Are you a worrier?  What about your kid?  Relax, you are probably a creative genius.  

Tonight is the first look at the Democratic candidates for President.  It's on CNN at 5:30 pm PST.    Wonder if public ed will come up at all?

What's on your mind?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Alki Gets Money to Retain Staff (from a complete stranger)

Update: Kids Not Cuts leader, Chandra Hampson, had an interview on KIRO radio this morning.  (It's brief and starts at about minute 23:00.  But, the reporter said that the district said "nothing is final."  So I'm hoping that is true.  More to come.

end of update

From the West Seattle blog:

The West Seattle school that was crowdfunding to try to save a teacher from being cut has apparently met its goal. After receiving e-mail announcing that the Alki Elementary fundraising drive had reached its goal thanks to a $70,000+ donation, we checked the crowdfunding page, and the donation is listed there.

Seattle Schools Central Administration Spending

From Reader 47:

From the 2015/16 Budget book (pg44)

CENTRAL ADMINISTRATION Actual 2013/14 Adopted 2014/15 Recommended 2015/16
  • Board of Directors $4,377,610 $2,603,840 $4,270,653
  • Superintendent's Office $5,263,869 $5,515,745 $6,418,660
  • Business Office $5,790,899 $6,207,175 $6,980,623
  • Human Resources $4,685,999 $4,705,558 $5,283,638
  • Public Information $490,227 $500,189 $623,449
  • Superv. of Instruction $11,886,009 $14,331,199 $16,131,620
  • Super.Nutrition Services $766,624 $916,965 $904,898
  • Super Transportation $1,125,084 $1,648,618 $1,876,805
  • Super Maint and Operation $836,484 $1,010,144 $1,093,617

TOTAL CENTRAL ADMIN $35,222,804    $37,439,433   $43,583,963

By my calculations, that's about a $6 million increase in Central Admin - what could the schools (remember them, the places kids go) do with that?!

Editor's note: I do not believe this includes Central Office which is different from Central Administration.

Hit the Pause Button on October Staff Cuts

Sent to the Board this morning:

Dear Directors,

You have an Executive Ctm Meeting of the Whole on Wednesday.  I am asking you to please consider 10 minutes to discuss hitting the pause button on the extensive cuts that affect schools in every single region that the Board covers. 

You have it within your power - having an advertised public meeting of the whole - to ask the Superintendent to not make these cuts until they have been clearly and transparently explained to parents.  I just sent Ken Gotsch these questions at the end of this e-mail. Do you know the answers to all of these?  If not, hit the pause button.

At the very least, you need to commit to a policy to end October surprise staff cuts like these.  Senior staff have pointed out that these happen in other districts as well.  But other districts ALSO now have policies against doing this.  SPS should as well.

Melissa Westbrook
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog

Letter to Ken Gotsch, CFO

Dear Ken,

I am working with the parent leaders from various schools over the staffing cuts announced last week.  I know you have given of your time to several parents in order to explain the situation.  But it continues to be murky and honestly, this is not good.  Parents are losing faith in what they hear from senior staff.  To that end, I'm asking for clarification on some issues. 

1) In Jan of 2014 you said this:

The WSS committee which includes both Central Office and school staff, examined the WSS formula, which makes up 53% of school funding. We looked at deciding on the best revisions to WSS if we have to make school-based reductions ranging between $3 million, $6 million and $9 million this year.

What is the current WSS formula being used?  I tried to search for it at the SPS website but cannot find it. 

2) I note that Superintendent Nyland said at the Board meeting that hiring and trips are to be curtailed at headquarters.  Could you be more specific about what that looks like -  are trips being cancelled or just not scheduled, does that apply to STR, the Board, the Superintendent and senior staff?  What kind of money will that save?

3) And clearly, hiring will continue (I see there are still jobs today at the SPS website) so what does "curtailing" hiring look like?

4) What the less-than-anticipated enrollment will actually cost (not just the lost revenue; but the net after not providing for those students)?

5) What are the implementation costs to the cuts - having fewer teachers for lunch/playground supervision, loss of instructional time, kid anxiety over classroom switches, decreasing resources for high-need kids.  How is that all being calculated? 

6) Parents understand that because of the underenollment of about 589 students, the district is not getting money it anticipated.  What they don't understand is how the cuts can be made (to save money) and yet the teachers/staff are retained and placed elsewhere (which is continued spending). 

I appreciate your time and hope to hear from you.

Melissa Westbrook
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog

Indigenous Peoples Day 2015 in Seattle

Indigenous-Peoples-Day-Celebration--8.5x11 (3)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Seattle Public Education This Week

Monday, Oct. 12th
Board Curriculum&Instruction meeting from 4:30-630 pm at JSCEE.  Agenda
- there's a Race to the Top grant for the Seattle Teacher Residency.  The Board should reject this.  Why?  Because the relationship with one partner for the STR, the Alliance for Education, is tenuous and the district may be left holding the bag for this project.  I think that the district had the right idea but, like most district initiatives, did not have the long-term planning or backing to fulfill the mission.
- Did you know our district has NO "Instructional Philosophy?"  Apparently not, as a new Board Policy A.01.00, has been written.  Sigh. Yes, that's the most important thing to get done.
- High School Credit for World Languages (this is for both students who have taken a language as a second language and those whose first language isn't English and can receive credit for what they know in that second language).
- Special Ed program review
-Elementary Math implementation

Please Join Eckstein’s PTSA for a Seattle School Board Candidate Forum! Mon, Oct 12th, 7:30-9:00 pm, Eckstein Auditorium. Do you know who you're voting for on Nov 3rd? Come learn more about the eight Seattle School Board candidates and what they think about the issues that matter - from school funding to standardized testing. The Eckstein Middle School PTSA, in collaboration with Eckstein students, is pleased to welcome parents, teachers, kids and community members to a moderated forum with Seattle’s candidates for School Board. Everyone is welcome! Eckstein Auditorium. If you have questions for the candidates that you'd like to submit in advance, please send an email to kendall.levan@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 13th
Half-Baked Bake Sale from 11 am- 1 pm outside of JSCEE to call attention to teacher/staff cuts.  Step up to support this effort because 1)parents should stand united against cuts to any school because cuts for ANY kids are wrong and 2) next time it could be YOUR school.

Wednesday, October 14th
Executive Meeting of the Whole, 4:30-6:15 pm at JSCEE - main topic: Seattle Pre-K program with special topic - Alliance for Education.  Uh oh.

Work Session - 2015-16 Board Governance Priorities, Superintendent Evaluation Instrument and SMART Goals, 6:15-8:00 pm at JSCEEAgenda

Thursday, October 15th
Washington State Charter Commission meeting, 10 am-5 pm - STAR Center Voyage Studio, 3873 S 66th Street, Tacoma.  Agenda
- Supreme Court charter school ruling
- Commission operation and finances
- Annual Report to the Board of Education
- Charter Schools update

School Board Candidate Forum,  Nathan Hale Government classes are putting on a student led Election Forum the evening of Thursday, October 15th from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center involving candidates for Seattle School Board and would like to invite you, your friends and your neighbors to attend. Candidates will make short opening statements, respond to questions from students, and then make a short summary statement. Be an informed citizen and attend!

I want to give a shout-out (and perhaps a heads up to candidates) about the Hale seniors.  At each Board meeting, the first speakers slot is given to one high school.  Last week it was Hale and the students brought up a VERY good point.

Several Boards ago, a policy was passed on what kind of food could be sold at high schools.  Soda was banned and there were more juice and milk products.  The vending machine money went to ASB and was a big source of revenue especially for high schools that didn't have as many fundraising opportunities (RBHS went to nearly zero dollars.)

At that time, high school students rose up, complained and complained, and finally, a few years back, they were PROMISED the revenue from calendar advertising (another policy put into place).  Guess who never saw that revenue?  ASB.  And what is that revenue spent on? No idea.

I hope the students extract a promise from the candidates on this issue.  I note that BTA IV has some kind of slogan, "Promises made, promises kept."  A big of an irony that makes many promises and promptly forgets about them.

Parents Rising - Dear Directors

Dear Directors,

I write to you with both a heavy and joyful heart.  Heavy because there is so much frustration and sadness in our district this early in the school year.  Not because of the teachers strike but because of the staff cuts at a large number of schools. 

I am joyful because enough parents are now ready and willing.  I am joyful because, unbidden by me or anyone else, they have risen up to act.  I am joyful because they have decided that being nice, playing along and raising money for this district is no longer going to be the status quo for them. 

Transparency - That's All It Takes

From a teacher reader;

The problem with opacity with teacher pulls:  we don't know if they are legitimate or punitive.   

The problem when no one speaks up for a school that is under attack is that it gives permission to launch attacks against other schools in the future!  Hence, Schmitz Park today!

If they do this to JAMS, they will do it to Meany, Eagle Staff and Lincoln High School.   

If SPS Thinks All Parents are Good for is Fundraising...

Join Teacher Retention Advocate Parents for a "bake sale" to highlight the inadequacy of local parent groups to fund raise for major staffing cuts. We will call on SPS to make alternate budget cuts and our state legislature to fully fund McCleary.

Tuesday, October 13th from 11 am - 1pm at JSCEE 

We will have a table with various treats and goodies such as:  
- Bum Deal Brownies
- Chopping Block Chocolate Chip cookies
- Overcrowding Krispy Treats
- McCleary M&M Bars
- Paramount Duty Pie
- B.S. Banana Bread
- Teacher Shuffle Sugar Cookies  
- Bye Bye Teacher Blondies
- Pissed off Parent Peanut Butter Bars.

All of these items are priced to move at .5 FTE.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Newest Seattle Schools Messaging on Staff Cuts at Schools

From SPS Communications (to my e-mail at 5 pm):

Media: The following letter is being distributed to all SPS families this afternoon. It is a reminder of our annual required enrollment count process. We are still in the process of finalizing staffing adjustments at schools, therefore individual school information is not available at this time. Once adjustments are final, principals will communicate with their schools.

You Know What's NOT at the Seattle Schools News Page?

Any mention of Indigenous People's Day on Monday, October 12th.  Not on Twitter, either.

PTA Leaders from Affected Schools to Meet on Sunday about Staff Cuts

Lots happening on this front.

First, a petition to ask the district to rethink the cuts.

Next, some SPS documents - via public disclosure - on staffing and enrollment.

Seattle Schools Staffing Adjustment

Seattle Schools Staffing Adjustment Appendix 2015

Seattle Schools Oct FTE 2015 

Latest from SPS to parents, via SPS website.

Link to parent analysis of schools losing staffing.  Sobering stuff.

To PTA Leaders and others from Chandra Hampson, Sand Point PTA President about meeting:

Back to School Speech (You Wish You'd Hear)

From the Alfie Kohn blog:

Is this working? [taps microphone]  I do believe it is!

It's Friday and the President is Coming

We all know what Friday driving looks like in our region and to add to that today, the President is coming in probably around 2 pm.  (He is visiting Roseburg, Oregon first in light of the community college shooting there last week.) He is in Seattle for a private fundraiser at the Westin at 5 pm.  After the event, he leaves immediately to go back to D.C.

SPS wants to remind parents that buses could be impacted by his visit and the ensuing traffic. 

Friday Open Thread

What a week, no?  I sense a parent Spring Uprising coming (I hope so).  I am sorry that it is in the face of so many schools suddenly losing staff and parents pitted against each other over bell times.  But really, do not allow yourselves to be divided.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Seattle Legislative Delegation Visits Board Meeting Last Night

A good, brief wrap-up from SCPTSA's Eden Mack:

Last night at the Seattle School Board meeting, Senators David Frockt, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Jamie Pedersen and Representative Gerry Pollet were there to receive recognition for securing $25 million for capital funding. 

I was there to ask that SPS make their legislative agenda more clearly state that fully funding per the court's orders was the #1 priority, and that they continue to advocate for funding the school buildings we desperately need. 

They all said in their remarks (essentially) that they know that this amount is a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. 

Reminder of School Board Candidate Forums

Update: there is another Saturday School Board candidate forum.

Squire Park Community Council Quarterly with Seattle School Board Candidates from 10 am thru non at Centerstone, 722 18th Avenue.

Note: this is a meeting and the candidate forum starts around 10:30ish.  

End of update

The other is on Saturday.  It's the Vietnamese American Community of Seattle‏ event from 11 am to 1 pm at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center at 3515 South Alaska Street.  This looks like a full event of City Council, ballot measures and School Board candidates.   The Board candidates look to be starting at 12:15 pm. This looks like more of a discussion than an actual debate.

Also to note for tomorrow, Sat the 10th, Director Carr is having a Community meeting from 8:30-10am at the Hearthstone on Green Lake.  (There was one parent at the Board meeting who, in giving her testimony, was shouting and practically hyperventilating at the podium.  She promised to be at Carr's meeting so it could be interesting.)

Enrollment and Staff Cuts

 Update:  I asked, via public disclosure, for the official reports on enrollment.  Here's the reply:
Relevant staff members have informed me that the October P223 report is not yet available. Staff anticipates having it by the end of next week, and the report will be posted to the District Data and Reports webpage once available. All available past P223 reports can be found on that webpage as well. 
End of update

KPLU is saying it incorrectly quoted Superintendent Nyland at last night's Board meeting on enrollment growth on Twitter.   

Here's the portion of the meeting where the Superintendent speaks on the issue. 

But here's his exact quote (which I transcribed but find difficult to comprehend):

Washington State Charter School Updates

Some items I have mentioned before and some items are probably new to most readers.

Mr. and Mrs. Gates

Update; these are some choice comments made by the Gates as reported in the Washington Post today.

Gates on Common Core:

“The early days almost went too well for us,” Gates said. “There was adoption, everything seemed to be on track. ...We didn’t realize the issue would be confounded with what is the appropriate role of the federal and state government, we didn’t think it would be confounded with questions about are there too many tests, confounded with if you’re raising the bar, what is the right set of things to help teachers be ready for that?

Mrs Gates on testing:

“In a few states, they went too quickly, rolling out the standards and the assessments went too fast and parents rightfully said, ‘Oh my gosh, a new test,’ ” Melinda Gates said.  

OH, blame it on the states. 

You'll note there is no admission that they might have been wrong.  Not one single word.

End of update.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Puzzled Me This: What's Going on With APP?

APP just grows and grows.  Now some of that may be better outreach, some may be parents seeing the writing on the wall and fleeing Spectrum but APP seems to be growing.  There are six classes of second graders at Cascadia.  It does beg the question of how all these students will fit into the new elementary at Wilson-Pacific.  The short answer would be that they probably won't but where would half of them go?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Seattle Schools Losing Staff

I am hearing upwards of 25 elementary schools are losing staff due to "enrollment losses."  Most of it is loss of teachers.  A JAMS reader is reporting that their school is losing staff as well.

Please report in here as you hear from your school.  This seems to happen every single year and throws schools off kilter and this should not happen like this at the start of a school year.

The district will not give me this information.  I will file a public disclosure request to both the district and OSPI and see who gets it to me first.

Bell Times Morass

It was a fired-up crowd that came to JAMS last night for the bell times meeting held there.   (Oddly, like a forewarning, there was a contingent of crows - by my rough count, about 50 - on the east side of the building when I came in. I felt like I was in The Birds.)

I estimated the crowd at about 70 which was the largest number to attend a bell times meeting.  (Pegi McEvoy told me that the one last Friday night had about 30 people.)

There were quite a few Sand Point parents there plus I know there were JAMS parents, John Rogers, someone who wanted to represent for Aki Kurose plus high school parents (who self-identified as such but not their schools).

Here's my take, overall, about what is happening and you should keep this all in mind as we go forward.

1) Most important of all to remember is that the staff NEVER wanted to do anything.  In fact, they never even wanted to discuss this issue.  They had to be dragged by the Board to this time and place.

Title IX Sexual Assault Groups Rise Up

From U.S. News and World Report on the uptick of reported assaults:

Tuesday Open Thread

Update: Congrats to Chief Sealth (via the West Seattle blog);

For the third consecutive year, the Academy of Business, which includes both the Academy of Finance and Academy of Hospitality & Tourism programs, was awarded “Model Status” by the National Academy Foundation, an award given to only a select number of business academies across the country. 

There are only five NAF academies in the entire state of Washington, with two of those located here at Chief Sealth Int’l. Over the past five years, the graduation rate for the Academy of Business has exceeded 99% and over 95% of those that graduate have gone on to college or post-secondary education. 

I attended the bell times meeting at JAMS last night; thread to come.  Apparently it was the largest crowd yet (about 70 people).  I think the district has a plan and it's working.

Speaking of getting to school, The Atlantic had this article, Why Japanese Kids Can Walk to School Alone.

Even in big cities like Tokyo, small children take the subway and run errands by themselves. The reason has a lot to do with group dynamics.

A popular television show called Hajimete no Otsukai, or My First Errand, features children as young as two or three being sent out to do a task for their family. As they tentatively make their way to the greengrocer or bakery, their progress is secretly filmed by a camera crew. The show has been running for more than 25 years.

And before you say that Japan is "different" from the U.S., yes, I'm aware of that.  But sending kids to school is a world-wide event and many kids take public transportation - alone - to get there.

Speaking of, tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct. 7th is national WalkBike to School Day.

A high-school senior in the Highline School District died on Monday after sustaining an injury playing football.  I'm going to have a thread on this issue as more districts across the nation are rethinking high school football. 

What's on your mind?

Monday, October 05, 2015

It's 2015 and Yet American Textbook Writers Apparently STILL Don't Get It

In what is one of the most odious items I have read about American textbooks in a long time, this one created by McGraw-Hill for world geography had this (from the Washington Post):

In a section titled “Patterns of Immigration,” a speech bubble pointing to a U.S. map read: “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”