Showing posts from October, 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,

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:

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?

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 S

How Did Washington State Students Do on NAEP?

From OSPI: H ow 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.

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 princi

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 No

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

Bell Times Comparisons

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

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   Cartel ;  Tuesday, 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: FUSE Washington's  Progressive Voters Guide .  The Stranger's profanity-laced endorsements . Seattlish's gif-laced " Guide to Your Ballot ". Seattle Weekly's thumbnail sketches of each race. Publicola's version of an urbanist straight ticket . The Seattle Times' Election Guide project, with snapshots of each Council race. School board picks from education blogger  Melissa Westbrook  and  celebrity meteorologist Cliff Mass  (Mass's comes with an analysis of the unseasonably warm October we've had so far, too). 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.

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:

Seattle Schools Releases Final Staffing Adjustments

Update : I almost hate to post this but the Times decided to opine on this issu e.  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,

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." 

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

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. Speakers  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

Seattle Youth Commission

This 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

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 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

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.

Just Remember, Someone Always Has it Worse

I post this without comment.

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:

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'

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 succe ssfully 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 s

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:

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.)

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

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.

Seattle Schools 2015 October Enrollment Numbers

Reader 47 posted this link to the October Enrollment count s.  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! HIMSmom

Tweets from Press Conference

Kyle Stokes ‏ @ kystokes 1h 1 hour ago “It’s a balancing act,” says @ seapubschools ’ Jacque Coe — says there are schools that beat enrollment projections and in need of teacher. Kyle Stokes ‏ @ kystokes 1h 1 hour ago “These are not cuts. No one is losing their job,” said @ seapubschools spox Jacque Coe of impending teacher shuffle. # waedu Kyle Stokes ‏ @ kystokes 1h 1 hour ago Why not allocate teachers conservatively to avoid cuts? @ seapubschools says that's logistically tough. Adding teachers also disruptive. West Seattle Blog reporting:

Seattle Schools News Update