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?


Lynn said…
Is the district's plan to collect negative responses and tell the board the community doesn't support a change?
Lynn, in short, I believe so. It's a clever tactic to support the change and then pit parents against each other to tear it apart. As well, the issue of the additional 20 minutes in the new CBA will come into play in 2017. If things get changed now and then those additional 20 minutes get thrown in and change has to happen AGAIN, that would be quite the upheaval over 2-3 years.

Anonymous said…
If you have learned that your school will be one that loses a teacher due to the Oct. 1 enrollment numbers, can you please raise your hand? Trying to get the full list from the District, but it would be good to know which schools are on the list. Our elementary (B.F. Day) is on the list.

Lynn said…
Didn't BF Day lose a teacher last year too? I think she was moved to Fairmount Park. Why is the district having a hard time projecting enrollment there?
Anonymous said…
Steve, are you losing a teacher at a specific grade level, or are you just losing an FTE to be mitigated at the discretion of school leadership?

Anonymous said…
I think people who are upset about the "chaos" from moving start times 1) have not had children in SPS long and 2) have not really thought about what will happen with extended day other than " ACK CHANGE NO." If we extend the day, we'll need to go to two tiers. In that case, the tiers will be in between existing tiers- 1.5 and 2.5, say. Not very far off where they are now. So the schedules will move 20 minutes in most cases. That is not upheaval. That is a snooze button. Before SPS went to the rigid 3 tier system (4 years ago?) bell times used to move often, an hour at a go. They did NOT do community engagement, and frankly the start times were fairer and better. Sometimes community engagement is a chance to insert politics and favoritism. Childcare providers ALWAYS filled in the gaps, and there were many benefits of some of the schedules people are railing against. If two elementaries start 90 minutes apart (say, Cascadia and Sand Point), the Cascadia kids can bus to Sand Point and then take part in after school activities in their neighborhood, or they can stay and do activities at Cascadia. Having elementaries at different schedules also can mean more field availability for sports(or class availability for popular classes) since they aren't fighting for the same space at the same time.

I was at that meeting last night. I wondered if I saw many of you there. I had intended to speak, but then a woman at the next table over started shouting down the sleep expert and questioning if she was a real academic, and it no longer seemed to be a serious discussion. During all the growth boundaries discussions Pegi did this same thing- listened to people vent, validated their concerns, and then left and the district did what they wanted anyway. For once I want what the district is proposing, so I hope they stick to their MO.

But the way they have been soliciting feedback- "would it be convenient for you, elementary parent with no current benefits in this plan, to maybe or maybe not move your schedule around?" of course they are getting wild pushback. Especially from people with no institutional knowledge about how these differing schedules often work, and have in SPS just in the last decade. The benefits are so profound, and none of these problems people are worried about actually happen when we have these schedules. But SPS is sneaky.

Anonymous said…
This was a fascinating Fresh Air with Terry Gross that aired last week. Good real life summary of what happens when ed reform, money and politics collide. Saw some similarities with our own district. It's an interview with the author of a new book, The Prize. If you have a few minutes, have a listen.



Anonymous said…
Lynn and H, yes, BF Day did lose a teacher last year as well (a 4th grade teacher, if memory serves). Like this year, it is because of a per-grade enrollment issue. The district projected more people to attend 1st grade this year than actually appeared on October 1. We are moving from 3 first-grade classes to two. It will likely mean a shuffling of kids in at least three classes as we will move to a split class. I don't have a lot of insight into the enrollment projections used.

Very hard to have this two years in a row, especially as there is real momentum at our school that started last year. And, there are schools adjacent to us that are fighting for portable space to house (some of the kids from B.F. Day's enrollment area go to that particular school). I don't know the details behind all of this, but we have classroom space in a district that is packed to the rafters. Removing a classroom from our school does not help.

- Steve
Anonymous said…
Playing devil's advocate, I'd say the district is not out of line in avoiding start time changes for next year. Yes, there is evidence to suggest later start times could be beneficial, but there is also a lot involved in changing times, and moving start times up to 2 hours for many students is going to create other difficulties for families. If there will be additional changes in another year, due to a lengthening of the school day, does it make sense to go through this twice? Perhaps the district is right on this one. If they go forward with the modified flip, will we be locked into 3 tiers for even longer? Given the real problems created by a modified flip within the 3 tier system, shouldn't we press for a 2 tier solution (even if it means waiting another year or two)? Given the other issues that need attention - capacity, SPED, curriculum (what in the world are they doing with MIF?), etc. - I'd rather time and energy be put on the more pressing problems this district faces.

sleeper said, "During all the growth boundaries discussions Pegi did this same thing- listened to people vent, validated their concerns, and then left and the district did what they wanted anyway. For once I want what the district is proposing, so I hope they stick to their MO." Yes, that seems to be the district MO, but if the district does what they want, doesn't that mean "no change?"

-another voice
(over 10 years in SPS)
Anonymous said…
If they go forward with the modified flip, and we get locked into three tiers, at least the three tiers will be better than what we have now. Staying with what we have now is harming adolescents, so putting off changing because of fear of change later seems like saying we are not going to stop sitting on your head, teenagers, because I don't like the bean bag on offer to sit on. Give me an armchair, and maybe then I will move off your head. Too much upheaval to maybe move to a beanbag and then an armchair. We have to get off their heads, now. It's hurting them, and we can't let it continue.

But thanks for your response. I was thinking there would be some healthy back and forth, and I don't really mean that no one with experience in the district would ever oppose the plan. Just the the bulk of the opposition I am actually hearing is from people who were saying terrible things will happen from a start time, which we happened to have 5 years ago(or other schools currently have) without all those terrible things. And early elementary parents are so often the loudest. The middle school parents in the room overall favored the switch (though not unanimously).

But yes, I think the district does not really want to do this. Community initiatives don't usually get this far, so I guess we will see what happens at this point. I am still hopeful, but very discouraged by the process.

Anonymous said…
I am also hopeful that if they go to two tiers they will just place them, so there wouldn't be another long process to go through. Middle/high school on one, elementary earlier. k-8's wherever they fit. I think that is usually fairer and leads to a better result than these expensive and drawn out processes. Hopefully people would be less afraid of smaller changes, and the times would be more reasonable, so we wouldn't have to duke it out for who ends up on the loser outlying tiers.

Anonymous said…
If they go forward with the modified flip, and we get locked into three tiers, at least the three tiers will be better than what we have now.

I think that is where people disagree. Has the district actually polled middle school students on the proposed change (and phrased the question, "Would you agree or disagree with a start time of 9:40 and a release time of 4:10? My 8th grader found it almost laughable that they'd move to 9:40. Sleeping in sounded great, but the late release sounded like torture.

-another voice
Anonymous said…
@ sleeper, you said "If we extend the day, we'll need to go to two tiers." Are you you serious? The district is adamant they don't have the money for that. Are you just saying that to falsely reassure people they don't need to worry about the possibility of an already-too-late 4:10 dismissal turning into a 4:30 dismissal the next year? Whether you want to admit it or not, that IS likely to impact availability of extracurricular activities for MS students--and research shows EC participation can be very important to healthy development in these tweens/teens. Please stop trying to discount the justified opposition some parents have to this aspect of the bell change. We are not all "new" or "unthinking" as you suggest. We are just thinking about things you seem unwilling to fully think through.

Anonymous said…
There is as much validity from parents who do not like this plan as from parents who do. Sleep is one of many considerations for most families. Sometimes families do what is not 'best practice' because they prioritize other things. That is OK. Which is to say, sleep experts or no, I see no reason this flip needs to be a done deal. Our family does not support it at all and I know many who feel similarly. Not to belittle the sleep later contingent. Just to point out that this would be a step backward for many families and others. No plan will make all sides happy.

Especially with adding another 20 minutes coming soon and with no idea of high school assignments due to lack of space I'd be happier to leave the schedule alone right now.

Also, I despise SPS transportation and their lack of visibility into whether other solutions are possible. They are making the issue difficult for all sides of the argument.

One parent
Anonymous said…
sleeper, elementary is 6 years. Do you mean to be so dismissive of concerns about how early elementary kids would need to wake up in order to travel to schools with long bus routes like Cascadia?

6yrs experience
Lynn said…
Middle school students might not be accurate judges of what is best for their health.

What I don't understand is why this change has to be cost-neutral. Many other initiatives that are expected to improve academic performance are not cost-neutral: the moratorium on out of school suspension for elementary students, MTSS implementation, use of the Amplify-Beacon interim tests, the Seattle Teacher Residency program.

The upcoming "refresh" of district and school websites won't be cost-neutral. http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/procurement/RFP09502_Web%20Refresh_9.18.15.pdf

We should know how much a two-tier system would actually cost in year one - and how much the state contribution would increase in year two.
Anonymous said…
I am serious. That is what the district has been saying all year. And if we add time, school will end too close to civil twilight to legally bus kids on three tiers. They are expecting more money next year, and I believe plan to use that to up the transportation budget, though I wish they would consider just not bussing so many kids (the number we bus now is a relic of the choice plan; many districts just don't offer this level of transportation), or having non FRL families pay for bussing.

I have very fully thought through the potential opposition. EC participation is not impacted to nearly the level you believe it will be(or at all) in places that already have the healthy start times (MN is a great example). When schedules are different, providers adjust their schedules. And it is just true that the majority of people at the meeting last night who opposed the plan had 2nd and 3rd graders. I know a lot of them.

Plus the complaints from last night were not the complaints you have- they were around the impossibility of being an elementary on the third tier (which many schools are now without those problems, at least the ones they are bringing up), and requests for two tiers (which I believe is not an option for next year). A few people spoke up saying they wanted to see how jazz band and sports practices would be arranged first (I don't think that is reasonable, and again I believe even in the worst case scenario- morning practices- at least then students can choose whether they want to participate, rather than being forced to live an unhealthy and in some cases dangerous schedule), some people were vitriolic about some weird things, some people spoke about equity (very reasonable question, IMO), and some people spoke for the plan and implored the room to consider the health of teenagers. No one said anything about decreased extracurricular activity. Oh, and one woman said her middle school child stays up until 11 doing homework with a 2 pm let out, and 4 pm would mean 1 am. I am worried about a child doing 9 hours of homework and don't think start times are the problem there.

If we are going to please stop things, please stop implying that logistical challenges which other areas of the country have solved completely are in any way equivalent to life saving benefits of healthy teenaged sleep.


Anonymous said…
There are elementary schools with early start times now, and they are fine. Prime learning for elementary students takes place at 9 am, about two hours after an elementary student's circadian rhythm encourages them to wake up. We should WANT to take advantage of that, instead missing it as we do now, and trying to keep elementary students focused late into the afternoon, when they are no longer able to focus.

Anonymous said…
Have the October 1 enrollment numbers been published anywhere yet? I can't find them on the SPS website.

Anonymous said…
At the cost of healthy elementary sleep? Elementary kids need 11 hours according to best practice. I have a fifth grader who has been at sports practices or games until after 7 on many, many nights since third grade (rec leagues, coached by parents, and so practices/games ALWAYS start at 5 or 6pm). Those kids would need to be asleep at 8 o'clock in order to get a healthy amount of sleep and be at school by 7:55 or whenever the first bell would ring.

I know the risks to teens are huge and scary. But starting down the path of school as a sleep deprived elementary student is going to impact outcomes down the road too.

Two-tiers only
Anonymous said…
sleeper, which schools with 45 minute bus rides start at 8 am now, and "are fine"?

This just isn't a workable solution.

6yrs experience
Anonymous said…
If your 5th grader got out earlier, many sports practices would/could be earlier. And yes, going to sleep earlier would be better for many, many elementary students who currently stay up later than is really healthy for them.

Anonymous said…
Because all the coaches are going to get out of work earlier now? All of a sudden all the parents get out early too, to be driving kids to all their games and practices at 4?
Two-tiers only
Lynn said…
Two-tiers only,

You are arguing against yourself. Elementary school age children need 9-11 hours. If your fifth grader really does need 11 hours, what's your plan for sixth grade with a 7:50 start time? This is the time when circadian rythms change for kids. To be up at 7:00, your child will need to be asleep at 8:00 next year - that is not going to happen. The organizational demands of middle school are best met by a child who is not exhausted.

Anonymous said…
No, but private providers will move earlier, leaving more field space in the early evening. My kids have also done rec leagues for years, and they are typically earlier practices- the working parents who run them get out early one day a week or share the load, mostly because there are not lights on park fields, so practice for elementary kids cannot run as late as you are talking about.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
practice for elementary kids cannot run as late as you are talking about.

Sleeper, you are dead wrong on that point. Elementary practices can and do run as late as 9. Currently. This will compound the problem. You have a nice view of the world, but it's just one view. Agree that other views and concerns are valid. With experience in juggling HS, MS and K5 kid academics and extras, I do not want this change. The negatives outweigh the benefits.

K-12 mom
Anonymous said…
Was just about to write the same K-12 mom. Several of our rec sports practices DO run late. Soccer fields are lit, basketball is indoor, softball (or baseball) is in the spring.

Two tiers
Eric B said…
Even if we go to 2 tiers, there will always be some elementary students in the second tier, just because there are more elementary students to bus than middle/high students. Elementary schools with very long routes would need to be placed in the second tier.

As far as rec sports leagues going to 9pm and elementary students needing 11 hours of sleep, that puts start times at ~10am. I don't see anyone asking for later start times for their elementary students. I'm also not really sure why we're making a decision on start times for all students based on the apparently inflexible schedule of a relatively small number of students in unspecified recreational sports. It's bad enough when the school-sponsored sports make decisions for the rest of the schools, now rec sports do too?
Anonymous said…

Please explain: "the number we bus now is a relic of the choice plan; many districts just don't offer this level of transportation"

Grandfathered transportation for out-of-attendance area students was cut a several years ago.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
When the school district is making decisions, organized sports should not be the driving factor. Sports are a choice. School is not. Exercise can & does happen outside of organized sports. It even happens in after school care in many elementary providers. Choosing to have your child do organized sports that require field access a specific time is not a good reason to require all teens to have schedules that hurt their academics & their health. That may be your priorities, but it should not be the priority of the district.

-need sleep
Anonymous said…
Eric, you too are mistaken. We are talking about a large number of kids across ALL enrichment activities including music, art, STEM and yes sports. The problem is that the majority of these people also have 9-5 jobs in addition to their leadership-coaching-mentoring. These people are not at liberty to move their activities to the morning. They have to be at their jobs. This switch would cut enrichment activities for MANY. Enrichment activities that are the only bright spot in many students' day. Enrichment activities that keep kids in school.

For those of you reading this thread, please use this point in writing to SPS for advocating AGAINST this move. It resonates with the district. More voices are a counter to the well organized sleep-in contingent.

Anonymous said…
I know it was, and if we were still using bussing to increase equity in the district I would be all for paying for it. That is supposedly the state rationale for bussing for HCC programs- to keep transport from affecting the decision for families with fewer resources. I don't know if it actually works that way, and if so we should keep it I guess, but that is reimbursed by the state so supposedly not a cost consideration. If not maybe we could use the money to make an actual curriculum for the program.

But offering free bussing to middle school students, for example, is not a given in many districts, whether you are in a walk zone or not. Or option schools. Pegi said last night only one high school does not have yellow bus(non SPED) service. And it is bus costs that are driving the three tiers. If those went down, two tiers could also be cost neutral.

Anonymous said…
Maybe NO SLEEP hasn't seen the latest: That we all need an hour of exercise a day. Is that going to happen in the morning? Fat chance for most. Sure, give high schoolers more sleep. They won't be exercising in the morning. Not most of them. So you're impacting potentially the huge majority of 50K kids with poor health habits. Increasing health risks for MOST? I don't think so.

And that's before they also don't get to take music, art, STEM.

This emperor of SLEEP LATE doesn't have no clothes, but he has a lot less than the sleep late contingent want known.

Anonymous said…
What are these elementary kids doing til 6pm that is so unenriching? They can't draw or run or read or build legos or sing. If parents are not home to do enriching activities with them til after dinner, presumably they are in some kind of after school care. There is no enrichment there? They just watch tv or something? That is what needs to change then.

-need sleep
Anonymous said…
A child's mental and physical health depends on so much more than sleep. Of course an adequate amount of sleep is important and part of life is figuring out just how much we can do in a fixed amount of time each day, but let's not discount the importance of activities outside of school that help support students' health and well-being. @sleeper, your message falls short in part because you are discounting the importance of ECs and dismissing the real impacts on family schedules. No, it's not as easy as moving the same activities to the morning. Those that disagree with the modified flip don't necessarily disagree with the science on sleep. I am with others in that the modified flip, as proposed, creates more problems than it solves.

Perhaps what we can agree on is that the district was remiss in not doing an analysis of moving back to two tiers. The conversation would be much different if we had real numbers to discuss.

-another voice
Anonymous said…
@ sleeper, are you talking about Moorhead in MN, where they moved their MS from early to the third tier a few years ago? That's great that it's (mostly) working for Moorhead, but it's also a somewhat different situation. Their dismissal is 3:50pm, not 4:10 or 4:30. They also have a field adjacent to their single middle school--and it even has lights! Not that the lights matter too much, because they don't do any outside activities from mid-October until spring. They instead have a wide range of indoor activities, including volleyball, swimming and diving, wrestling and gymnastics. Afterschool activities can start at 4pm, run until 6pm. They also do some AM practices, from 7am-8:30; those can be a little shorter since they have onsite facilities. Still, it's not all perfect--they're finding that kids are now missing a lot of class in the afternoon due to athletic matches.

They also officially "open" the school to kids at 7am to accommodate the early practices, as well as parents who need to drop their kids off early before work. They're allowed to hang out in the cafeteria for those 2 hrs. That would be awesome, but no chance would SPS do it!

Can you please direct me to the legal requirements around civil twilight? If 4:10 is truly the latest we'll ever be looking at, that's one thing. But 4:30? Please no.

Anonymous said…
So glad we were lucky enough to live in Hale's boundaries. Hale has started at around 8:30 for years. It has been great. Some sports and activities meet at the 0 hour for practice but everyone competes after school.

I thought the only high schoolers who got bus service were ones that had no metro service? Why aren't we teaming up with metro to put in bus routes in those areas? I can't believe the kids would be the only ones to benefit from it. The only ones riding school buses should be the SPED kids who need bus service.

Anonymous said…
Eric is correct. Even if my MS student's start time becomes 9:40, as proposed, she will still need to be up at the same time she is currently getting up for the 7:50 start because I HAVE TO GO TO WORK! Additionally, many students in upper grades who are not shuffled off to school by a parent who is there to light the fire under them to get them going in the morning DON'T GET GOING. They miss their earlier classes because they miss their Metro bus, or just can't seem to get out of the house...

I respect the need to match a more natural rhythm, but there is a "too late" start time. Anything that is after 9:00 (8:30, really) creates a possible attendance issue for kids who aren't self starters in the morning. If it is my duty as a parent to make sure my children get up and get to school, then it has to be possible for me to do so without losing my job, too. She will get up and be somewhere "supervised" before I have to be at work by 8:00.

The desired benefits will be nullified by the requirements of the adult world outside of the school district. Business hours are business hours. Kids who need supervision will need supervision, mornings or afternoons.

I will have a separate thread on the bell times meeting at JAMS last night; Sleeper is right about the mood of the room. (But continue on here until I do.) I will have a couple of other considerations in mind but I'll throw one out here now:

Do you think it a good idea to change bell times when, in 2017-2018, there will be 20 minutes more to the school day? (This is per the new CBA.) Will that have an impact again on bell times (and thus, perhaps causing yet another adjustment to those times)?

Would it be better to table the discussion and/or continue working with the idea that we need to consider that 20-minute change NOW and not wait until it comes?
Anonymous said…
Tired of talking about transportation, seeing parents fight against each other.
Why can't we just bus kids in Sped?
Elementary school buses in my area run so empty I believe hiring an Uber driver would be cheaper!
Just ditch busing and put a reasonable start and dismissal time for all grades.

Anonymous said…
@ Melissa,

I can't imagine tacking on another 20 minutes to the proposed Tier 3 start/dismissal times, so I agree that, if SPS isn't willing to go with a two-tiered system for next year (which would be much more adaptable to the extended school day the following year), then there is no point in continuing any discussion of the current proposal. There is too much disruption in the bell time changes, and the communities that typically have the least capacity for engagement (low-income/high ELL) will be seriously impacted.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Melissa asked: Would it be better to table the discussion and/or continue working with the idea that we need to consider that 20-minute change NOW and not wait until it comes?

Absolutely. That has to be a factor in any decisions being made now, otherwise it's unfair to families who don't realize the consequences of this initial chance. The 24-credit requirement should also play into this decision, if there's a chance the HS day will be restructured. I realize this is SPS, but we need to be planning more than one year ahead at a time.

PreK said…
Can anyone confirm that the city's prek program (at both Van Asselt locations) has a total of eleven students?

If so, there was a lot of pressure for the board to accept funding, and in return, allow the superintendent to enter into a Partnership Agreement with the city that wasn't fully vetted. The district inserted city documents into the city/district prek Partnership Agreement and district's attorney told the board that he didn't have time to conduct a line to line analysis of the Partnership agreement. Additionally, the Executive Committee (Peaslee, Carr, McLaren) did not put prek/ city over-arching policies in place.

Anonymous said…
Please people - the advocates for the switch in times have been hitting the board and staff hard for two years I hear. If we don't like the bell time proposal now being discussed we must comment to the board, not just here on the blog. Staff and board need to hear the other side loudly right now. Email today!

Maureen said…
NO MOVE said: Enrichment activities that are the only bright spot in many students' day. Enrichment activities that keep kids in school.

So wait, Enrichment activities that have to begin after 5:00 PM because the volunteers who run them are at work are keeping K-8 kids in school? I'm not following your logic. (Especially since it's pretty hard for a ten year old to drop out of school.) I'm with the other posters who are saying ANY sort of sport/non academic activity should not be driving start times. Science, yes. Equity issues, probably. Safety, ok. The realities of adult work schedules, sure (but none of the school schedules take those into account NOW.)

Why are people always so willing to have the perfect be the enemy of the better? And why do people find it so difficult to think about the whole 13 or more year range of experience they will have in a school system when they are advocating for their child? (Let alone the impact on kids who aren't their own.)

Anonymous said…
Maureen: You think that people who don't like this proposal are selfish? That they aren't thinking comprehensively? Wrong! Or maybe you didn't hear that the families in many parts of the south part of the district aren't keen on the change. You know - the lower income part of the city? parts of the city who get steamrolled by North-ofShip-Canal-itis all the time?

Just because this proposal seems a no brainer for your family or for high school kids you know doesn't mean others have the same view for their communities.


Eric B said…
NO MOVE, I just don't get it. You're saying that elementary students can't go to school earlier because they have enrichment activities until 9:00 at night. These can't start any earlier because the adult volunteers who run them get off work at 5:00. Let's be charitable and say that they need an hour to get from work to get to the field or building. So your 8-year-old is doing 3 hours of sports practice a night and that's critical to their well-being? It just doesn't make sense unless they're Olympic athletes in training.

Your math doesn't add up either. Right now, your student is getting off practice at 9:00. You want them to be home, showered, and in bed in time for 11 hours of sleep and still get up in time for school that starts by 9:30 am? Unless your kid has a Time Turner, it ain't happening now, but you want every other person in the District to have their schedule driven by your kid needing 11 hours of sleep when they aren't even getting that now because of the recreational activity schedule you chose!

Yes, the advocates of later start times for secondary students have been hitting the Board and staff for two years. We were asking for a rational two tier system, doing the analysis that showed it was possible at negligible cost. Where were you?
Anonymous said…
Extracurricular activities that call for parental involvement are largely structured around working hours 9-5. If elementary students have to get on a bus at 7am, they are going to lose sleep. I support later start times for high schools, I support start times between 8 and 9, I support two tiers, I even support the 8 am OR the 9:30 am start for my kid in neighborhood elementary because we can mitigate it either way. I don't know why parents are so dismissive of concerns about elementary kids with long travel times like Cascadia losing sleep because they need to get on a bus at 7am.

Chiming in
Anonymous said…

re new SPP preschools: You are likely correct, or I should say one of them had (confirmed) 6 kids attending for the past 2 weeks, and I would guess the other was not far off. There was to be a sudden influx of more students, but didn't yet happen.

been there
Pre-K, it was reported by Cashel Toner at the Ex Ctm meeting last week, that one City classroom had 3-4 students and the other 8-9 students. (The one that the district enrolled at Bailey-Gatzert has 19 students, just one short of the size of the classroom available.) The Board directors asked what was happening at the Van Asselt locations and Ms. Toner said the City had issues with enrollment but there were waitlists.

My take is that the City did not get any middle class families. They do not want entire classrooms of low-income students because the outcomes are generally not as good. I think they held out as long as they could and now will have to move those waitlists. As a taxpayer, I don't like paying for a full-time teacher and teaching aide for 4 students in a classroom. That was not what we were promised. (Of course, we were promised more students in preschool but that's not the truth either. Someone really should call Tim Burgess out on this.)

On K-8s. There's a discussion that needs to happen. I think there are some real issues there that have not been discussed and that may be part of the transportation puzzle.

Maureen said…
You think that people who don't like this proposal are selfish? No I didn't say this.
That they aren't thinking comprehensively? Yes, this is what I mean.

Pushback, If everyone who is pushing back against this went through a fact-based mental exercise of thinking of their family's needs over the entire K-12 school experience then I think there would be less push back. I think this is true even for poor families. I think that people are throwing up straw man arguments (see Eric B's points) because they choose not to think comprehensively. I think that if this change goes through then in five years, families would be screaming bloody murder if the District threatened to go back to the way it is now.

The exception may be for people who truly believe that athletics are more important than academics. And you know what? I don't care what those people think. SPS is a school district, not an athletic league. Peak mentally functioning hours should be for school, not sports.
PreK said…
".... it was reported by Cashel Toner at the Ex Ctm meeting last week, that one City classroom had 3-4 students and the other 8-9 students"

The district invested hundreds of administrative hours in the city's prek program, and it took a lot of the board's time and energy for a very small amount of children...not to mention quite a dog/pony show at one of the board meetings.

Anonymous said…
The school district should determine it's start times based on what is best for the kids academic outcomes and mental health, taking into account what are reasonable expectations for staff and its transportation schedule (ideally with a 2 tier bus system).

The 3 tier transportation system should not be driving this process.
The disagreements here are not so much the flipping of times per se - its the fact that 3 tiers mean most times are either unreasonably early and unreasonably late. We are all fighting over which population should be saddled with most unreasonable time (they early one). The early times are too early for any aged population (elementary or high school). If the district could move to a 2 tier system, I think much of the opposition from elementary parents concerned about early start times with a flip would vanish (perhaps thats not what the district wants though).

The convenience of families (working and otherwise) while should not be a factor.
It is not currently a factor. For instance - how convenient is a 9.30am elementary start time for families who mostly need to start work much earlier? Not very. Before school care helps but it is difficult for some.
How convenient is any elementary school end time before say 5pm for working families that don't likely finish work before that time? After school care helps with this issue.
How convenient is 11-12 weeks of summer break? It's made manageable with a hodgepodge of camps, babysitters, grandparents etc.
The point is, the school district does not exist to provide convenient child care during working hours - it raison d'etre is to educate our kids and this should be done within the hours that are most reasonable to ensure the academic success and wellbeing of the majority of kids, based on the information (research evidence) that we now have.

Likewise, sports and extracurricular activities should also not a consideration.
I don't believe they currently are so why should they now be taken into account. These are optional activities and we should not arrange a legally mandated requirement for all kids (school) around activities that only some chose, or are able to participate in (And everyone wants their kids particular activity/practice time to take precedence in setting the time it seems). It won't be the end of the world. Sports practices and extracurricular activities will still continue, they will just need to fit in with the new schedule. Calm down. Youth soccer will not stop being played in Seattle because of it.
Everyone picks selective arguments based on their own situation.
I just don't get these people who are complaining about their elementary kids being out at soccer practice til 9pm at night and how bad for sleep it will be it they start school earlier. Have you ever thought it's probably not that great even with the late start time. Lots of families would not choose (choice, being the operative word) to have such a demanding schedule for a young kid - yet you CHOOSE to do that. Families cannot CHOOSE their school start and end time - no matter how difficult some may find these times to be for particular child or personal circumstances. School comes first. Then you can CHOOSE to try to fit in activities around that and figure out how to do that, or choose not to. Your choice to have your kid play select soccer or whatever should have no bearing on any other kids school start time.

Finally, Mercer Island and Bellevue School districts are also currently analysing start times (they are similarly early) and expect to make change for the next year. Moving to later start times is going to be move on the right side of history.

timing is everything
Anonymous said…

Everyone with elementary kids complaining about the flipped times - I get it. It will impact me too, in fact it will be a huge struggle. Thats why i hope we can somehow lobby for a 2 tier system. But we need to look at the big picture. Our kids are not going to be in elementary school forever, Maybe by the time our kids are sleep deprived middle or high schoolers we might be calling on the district to listen to research and do what is biologically appropriate and make later start times? If we don't suck up the ridiculously early start in elementary school, we will be hit with it a few years down the track - where arguably the stakes are higher. We may not benefit from a change now but our children WILL benefit in the future. That is why this elementary parent supports the change. Though, I would argue it would be better to make any changes concurrently with the lengthening of the school day, taking this into account.

Big Picture
Anonymous said…
Just received the following email from the JAMS principal (in part):

"Here at Jane Addams Middle School we have experienced lower 8th grade enrollment than projected, which has lead the district to reduce our budget by 2.0 certificated staff with an additional .4 reduction in certificated Special Education staff.

We have an immediate plan to reduce sections of Social Studies, Special Education and Science as well as to shift funding from a variety of areas. We may have the opportunity to delay these changes until the semester. However, if Jane Addams is required to reduce the entire 2.0 FTE, at the semester we will need to make reductions in the above areas as well as in music, world language, and in math. Many student schedule changes will need to occur."

Unbelievable. JAMS opened last year - this is the second year of operations. Virtually all of the 8th graders were relocated from Eckstein or Hamilton and have already experienced enough disruption of their middle school years. You would think that the district would cut some slack in this situation.

How can the district be off by so much?!

Jaded Jaguar
Jaded, I am currently gathering information on this issue of staff downsizing. I have heard upwards of 25 elementaries are losing staff;yours is the first middle school I have heard of that is.
Anonymous said…
Standardized common core tests just got another kick in the shins thanks to the New York Times front page article. Seems Common Core comparison across states just isn't happening because parents students teachers even politicians have rebelled. Who'da thunk? Hmmm, just about everyone other than the Nonproft Eduwonks aka B&M Gates Foundation and their grantees. And the Corporate Reformies. Textbook crumbling of Dictates to the Masses failing.

Hint: Next time take time to include the actual community. Maybe it will go a little better.

Anonymous said…
For the PreK thing...well, duh? The program just opened, after most people would have already made childcare plans. Many people think a 6 hour day is too long for most 3s and 4s unless in the context of daycare as a support for full time care needs and including rest time and quite a lot of downtime - it's unclear to me what the SPP's program "academic day" looks like, but it doesn't sound like what I want for my preschooler. It's quite expensive for people who are affluent. And it leaves people who work in a bind - either you pay extra for before/after and try to figure out summer/winter/spring break, etc (and while programs exist for older kids to fill in those gaps, there's few to none in N Seattle for preschoolers - I looked last year). Or you triage around those times. Plus no transportation. It doesn't sound appealing to me.

North Seattle
Anonymous said…
This is embarrassing.


- Seekr
Prek said…
The board passed a resolution to eliminate elementary school suspensions. Thus, the district is going to need additional space for these students. Policies related to pre k and space availability should tempered with the need to create space to eliminate out of school suspensions.

Anonymous said…
District Watcher wrote about the NY Times article:

Test Scores Under Common Core Show That ‘Proficient’ Varies by State

It include this:
Some teachers see the state’s presentation as misleading. “They shot themselves in the foot by putting it that way,” Kathryne Roston, a fourth-grade teacher at West Broad Elementary School here, said upon seeing how Ohio categorized the test results. “If you look up ‘proficient’ in the dictionary, what does that mean? Does it mean what they are making it mean? .......

Fewer than half of the 40 states that adopted CCSS originally are using tests from either of the testing consortia that develop the exams, making it difficult to equate results from different states.

It may be a little too premature to declare it a failure,” said James A. Peyser, the secretary of education in Massachusetts, where the State Board of Education will vote in November on whether to use the PARCC tests, “but for sure it’s in retreat.

More confusion is to come.

In WA State the State Board of Education already revised the cut score to below the proficient level in regard to graduation.

On August 5, the State Board of Education lowered the cut score on the SBAC testing for passing to below the “standard score for proficient”. Then explained that this was done to ease the transition for our system and demonstrate fairness to students. This statement was needed to maintain the dual illusions of fairness and quality in this unfair one-diploma system.

Randy Dorn originally stated back in 2010 that SBAC testing would save WA State money. I wonder how much this debacle is costing WA State? Hey it is better than WASL but not as good as MSP for math.... Cheaper than either??? Who knows?

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Seekr alerted us to this:

Seattle schools have one of nation’s largest equity gaps, new study says

Seattle ranked near the bottom of a 50-city study on several measures of equity examining who was more likely to attend the highest and lowest performing schools.

on Sept 30 the Board held a work session on "Closing the Opportunity Gap" and staff presented a 42 page .pdf of slides that contained NO DATA.

Here is the missing data in regard to grades 3-8 math:

Are Seattle Schools closing the Math "Opportunity Gap"? or just failing to report the data?

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
The elementary math thread has been sent to the next page, so many readers won't see it. Don't want this missed by the greater population. Thanks to one blogger, we've just gotten to read what Tolley told K-5 teachers: Forget MIF, use our scope and sequence. Oh, you can use MIF, but you'll have only 30 days - at the start of school and in the midst of the strike - to appeal Central's scope and sequence and explain why you want to the BOARD APPROVED textbooks (plus your expert-teacher knowledge at filling in any concepts you think your class needs but doesn't get from the books.)

Thanks Central! We've entered a new era of hodgepodge worksheets and MIF has been sidelined. An enormous textbook adoption set aside in Year Two. Just what you wanted all along. I guessed this would happen, just not so quickly or blatantly. In the name of "equity" ya know. Which is pure baloney.

Didn't McLaren and Peaslee and Peters and Patu all push for MIF? Are they blind or are they choosing to drop the ball?

Anonymous said…
Bye Bye Garfield as guaranteed HCC path. This was posted on the HCC blog this a.m.:

1. Garfield may max out of capacity next year and there are some early meetings going on at JSIS about this. Note: none of the decision making on pathways etc. is controlled by advanced learning.

Also from that blog, no plans for Spectrum beyond a name change.

Downtown's really stepping up on improving outcomes for ALL within SPS!

AL parent
Anonymous said…
I would strongly encourage parents to write the School Board and bring the math question front and center. Are they shelving MIF to focus only on test prep? Why bother to ask for parental input on new curricula only to junk it in one year?
The administration has a terrible record on effective math. They need to use MIF in elementary and expand better math to middle and high schools.
I have a great deal of confidence in Rick Burke. He will do what he can to strengthen math but he needs support.
S parent
Anonymous said…
A clear choice in the coming school board election McLaren or Harris?

No fuzzy nuances to contemplate on this one.

Recently from Director McLaren as sent via email:

Our Board has hired SPS’s best Superintendent in almost 20 years. I agree with him on many of his initiatives, and our students, teachers and parents are seeing the gains that come from stable, forward-focused leadership. It is imperative to elect Board members who support Larry Nyland and the vital work he is leading. It is of great concern that some candidates for School Board promise to “shake things up,” implying that they do not support the important strides in motion.

.... I am proud to be a strong force for unity, respectful dialogue, and positive change on the School Board.

Warm regards,


So the choice is clear for voters.

Make your choice and vote accordingly.

-- Dan Dempsey
Yes, I will be having a candidate update before the ballots drop on October 13th. The candidate forums are making it very clear who should get elected (and who shouldn't).
Christina said…
Here's video of a Seattle School Board candidates' forum hosted by First A.M.E. Church Fellowship Hall, September 24, 2015.
Anonymous said…
Melissa. A few days ago I submitted a FERPA form. I selected option B ("no release of information"). I added a notation: "Exception: I want my son's photo included in the school yearbook." Today I received an email from the principal of my son's high school, informing me that the District has revised its FERPA form. Option B now includes sub-options, one of which is to allow the photo in the school yearbook. It is gratifying to entertain the notion that my notation may have given rise to this change.

Unfortunately the District wants revised forms submitted in a short timeframe (turned into school by Friday October 10.)

I visited the District website and found that the District has similarly revised the K-8 form. I have not received notice from my younger child's middle school principal.

It seems to me that every parent in SPS should get immediate notice of this revised from given the apparent deadline of Oct. 10.

Every principal could just use Brian Vance's message. It is clearly written. I will forward you his message so you can post it if you like.

It appears to be the same message as the one I posted several days ago. I am glad that Principal Vance (whom I know and worked with as co-president at RHS) wanted to make sure parents heard this.
SPS Mom said…
I believe that FERPA allows you to turn in a new form anytime - and that new form would override the old one. I'm guessing the district would like them all by 10/10 in order to get all of the data into the systems (and so resources like parent directories accurately reflect family wishes), but they have to take the forms after that date.... That being said, if you miss the date, you're more likely to be left out of some of those more local resources, so getting the forms in ASAP is a good idea. Our principal included the link in an all school email and we also put it on our Facebook page... A couple of ideas to get the word out without depending upon the district.
mirmac1 said…
As if this is news to us:

2+2=What? Parents Rail Against Common Core Math

Given that Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath seem to think this is what your child should learn, NOT the curriculum selected by their bosses - better start saving for math tutoring. What a &^^$%#@! mess!

I'm glad Rick Burke testified at the board meeting that this is wrong.
Anonymous said…
There is a Seattle City Council Candidates Forum tonight at Nathan Hale run by the Hale seniors. District 5, 8 and 9 candidates will be there. I believe it starts at 7PM.

Next week, they have a school boards candidate forum.

Anonymous said…
Gates will continue to push schools and government around.
SEE Washington Post article

Improving U.S. schools tougher than global health, Gates says

Bill Gates, whose foundation has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into K-12 education and influenced state and federal policy to embrace charter schools, teacher evaluation and the Common Core academic standards, said Thursday that trying to improve education is harder than work on global health.

“When we come up with a new malaria vaccine, nobody votes to undo our malaria vaccine,” Gates said in a speech at his foundation’s Seattle headquarters. “So it’s pretty steady progress. Every year is better than the last.”

But when you’re dealing with 100,000 public schools, politics makes changes to K-12 education much less predictable, he said.
..... and more

-- Dan Dempsey

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