Monday, November 30, 2015

Show Your Kids; Trying and Not Succeeding is not the same as Failing

This was tweeted by J.K. Rowling:

Speaking as someone who would never have succeeded if she hadn't first failed on a grand scale, I enjoyed this.

Revised ESEA - Please Let Our Congressional Reps Know Your Concerns

The vote on the next version of No Child Left Behind is coming up for a vote this week, first in the Senate and then, next week, in the House.  

There are several issues that have come to my attention via Diane Ravitch and the Network of Public Education.

Here's a link to all the Washington State representatives and senators.  E-mail is great but there is also great value in calling their offices and registering your vote.  (I interned for an Arizona senator once and my job was taking phone calls from constituents on issues of the day.  They registered every single call.)

However you do it, PLEASE contact our congressional reps on this vote.  When you do, please note to them that this is a much better bill than the original.

Asking for Patience and the Ability to Ignore

Gentle readers.

I turned off the comment moderation.  I don't like it,  you don't like it and so we'll go back to the way we have done it since this blog started.

Most of you have noticed that we now have a person (and most of us know who it is) that blames me for his shortcomings in life.  He is being vicious and unkind and some of you even find his comments to be threatening to me.  That he has even stooped to saying hurtful things about my late husband speaks volumes about his lack of character and humanity.

Not to worry; I don't.

What I ask is for your patience AND to please ignore him.  Do not answer anything he says.  Answering him will only egg him on.

While I'm sure this immature behavior is the highlight of his day, let's not give him any kind of attention.

If we ignore him, he has no audience. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Middle College Continues Its Steady Decline

Is there an explanation for how quickly Middle College is sliding downward in just a matter of months?  And, with very little in the way of real explanation to the SPS community?

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, December 1nd
Oath of Office for the four new members of the Seattle School Board.  JSCEE auditorium from
5-6 pm.

If I had to guess committee choices for new Board members, I'd guess that Leslie Harris would like either be on the Executive or Audit&Finance committee and Scott Pinkham, Rick Burke and Jill Geary would like Curriculum&Instruction. 

Wednesday, December 2rd
School Board Meeting, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda

(And into the fire quickly for those four new members. It's always fun to see them figure out the microphones as well as see where each member gets seated.)

- Native American program annual review
- Board self-evaluation narrative.   I liked this line:

Directors also noted the need to strengthen how the Board ensures accountability for progress on the Strategic Plan. 
This is interesting.

At the November 10 work session, Directors discussed the progress the Board has made from previous behaviors and improvements in understanding their roles and in reconciling diversity of opinions. Directors noted it took time for them to understand the governance tools and how to use them to bring about change for which Directors are looking. 

Results on this goal varied by individual Director. Most are very good at understanding the delegation of authority documented in Board policies while others micromanage when they do not agree with a decision. Not all Directors appear to feel bound by the Communications Protocol or respect the confidentiality of executive sessions. The Board has not yet found a mechanism to enforce the Code of Conduct, confidentiality agreements, and the Communications Protocol. 
- Election of Board officers: President, Vice-President and Member-at-Large.   I look for Sue Peters or Betty Patu to be elected to be Board President/Vice-President.  
- Approval of Continuous School Improvement Plans (C-SIPs).  

A School Board’s annual approval of schools certifies to the State that each school has a school improvement plan in place. School improvement plans must be data driven, promote a positive impact on student learning, and include a continuous improvement process for monitoring, adjusting, and updating the plan. Each building’s Continuous School Improvement Plan (C-SIP) includes all of these elements.

All of our schools have current 2015-17 Continuous School Improvement Plans, or C-SIPs, on file at the schools, with their Executive Directors of Schools, and in the Grants office. All C-SIPs are also posted online on our district website.

All schools have updated their C-SIPs based on student data from spring 2015 by November 6, 2015. C-SIPs are working documents and will be adjusted during the year as additional data is made available to schools (e.g. Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) data, graduation data, attendance data).
All revised C-SIPs will be uploaded to the district website by December 2, 2015.
Thursday, December 3rd
Executive Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm, Board conference room at JSCEE.  Agenda not yet available.

Saturday, December 5th 
Board retreat.   JSCEE from 10 am-3 pm. Agenda not yet available.

This should be interesting to see how various members establish themselves vis a vis senior staff.  I am of the mind that since the name of this event is "Board" retreat that the Board themselves should decide what should be discussed/worked on.  Just a thought.

Sunday Open Thread

Sorry, I just flaked out on Friday.

I am reading and posting all comments (but the amount of spam we get is pretty amazing.)

What's on your mind?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Former Chief Sealth Principal Passes Away

Update: I am attempting to get info on Mr. Kinsey's services but the West Seattle Blog has nothing nor have I found anything listed elsewhere.  Several former students have contacted me about wanting to attend any services so if you learn anything, please post it here.

end of update.

Sad news from the WestSeattle Blog:

Small Business Saturday ( and don't forget your local bookseller)

As reported at Crosscut:
After the big box madness that has become Black Friday is the totally lovable celebration of Small Business Saturday. Saturday also acts as Indies First, a day to show your love for local booksellers and meet authors as they talk to you about books at the counter of your local bookstore. Sherman Alexie, the mastermind behind the event, will be at Elliott Bay offering book recommendations, Book Larder will be hosting a bunch of local cookbook authors (including Renee Erickson), and there will be a YA panel and sci-fi panel at University Bookstore. Don’t forget about Ravenna Third Place, Phinney Books, and Ada’s Technical Books, among others, and make this holiday one where you give the gift of books (I’m pretty excited to give my sisters an adult coloring book and Humans of New York: Stories).
Big shout-out to Ada's Technical Books, one of the coolest bookstores around.

I also endorse the coloring books for adults (but I have not yet seen an "adult" coloring book).  Coloring can be very zen thing that is good for all kinds of emotions including grief.

Lastly, yes, Amazon is a cheap bookstore and I have not seen their U Village bookstore but please, let's keep our real independent booksellers alive and well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving; this blog is thankful for all our readers.

Two fun things, one for vegetarians and one from Ellen for the hope that is education. 

Kids really are little sponges.  "My little brain just remembers." 

Good News in Seattle Public Schools

A wonderful story from KING-5 news - Franklin High School was the surprise receipt of $17K worth of new band instruments via Stub Hub/Mr Holland's Opus Foundation.  Music teacher Geoff Ogle made it happen and, looking at the faces of his students, they are happy he did. 

Orca K-8 put in a new playground.  According to district Communications:
The project is the culmination of a handful of funding partners including Orca PTSA, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, King County, the Norcliffe Foundation, Windermere, Microsoft and hundreds of volunteers who helped put it all together.
 Good work to all those parents and community members who made this happen.

Big shout-out to Garfield High's football coach, Derek Sparks, an award from Angels in Sports,  for his hard work in supporting student athletes.  Angels in Sports is a non-profit org for "high striving underprivileged youth applicants that require assistance in achieving their athletic and academic goals." 

Middle School Ultimate Frisbee news:

- Aki Kurose, A pool champions
- Madison, the A2 pool champions
- South Shore K-8, the B pool champions
- Hamilton, 6thA champions
- Hazel Wolf K-8, 6th B champions
- Salmon Bay and Washington, Co-Spirit champions

Aerial shot of the work for the Hazel Wolf K-8 building from NAC Architecture

Embedded image permalink

Equity vs Equality

We keep dipping into this discussion, so let's dive into it.

I hear and read people using the words "Equitable" or "Equity" as if they were synonymous with "Equal" and "Equality". I continue to see these words used as if they were interchangeable. They are not synonyms. They are not interchangeable. They are, in fact, opposites.

Equality means providing each with the same.

Equity is providing each with what they need or deserve.

Since everyone needs or deserves something different, equity means providing each with something different, which is the opposite of providing each with the same.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Fight is On for McCleary (using blackmail for leverage)

Over at Representative Chad Magendanz' Facebook page, there's quite the discussion over fulfilling McCleary and also what to do about charter schools.  He has much to say on both topics.
He starts with this:

Our bipartisan group working on the charter fix remains firmly committed to addressing the issues identified in the Supreme Court’s ruling and keeping our charter school doors open. The Senate committee testimony Thursday really highlighted the need for these innovative schools that serve our most impoverished areas, and the timing of the Court’s press release was particularly cruel to the students who travelled down to Olympia to show their support.

Again, as if the Court has time to tell their staff to keep them updated on what groups come to Olympia to speak to legislators.  That's just not plausible.   Also, that "bipartisan group" - I think their one Dem might be Seattle's Rep. Eric Pettigrew who seems to make it his life's work to just sign up for these groups.

So I asked, based on what Magendanz had written at the GOP Washington legislative page about McCleary and the state budget:

Teacher/Substitute Shortage a Strain in Washington State

OSPI has released their survey and its subsequent findings about teacher shortages in Washington State.

The survey

The findings.

From the survey:

Tuesday Open Thread

My colleagues in student data privacy are warning against anyone taking this so-called "most used word" Facebook quiz.  Read this article and see if you agree; if so, warn your kids.

Ever wanted to know more about school emergency and safety programs.  I found this great page at OSPI chock-full of good info.

The Times has a lot to say over a couple of days.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Closing Opportunity Gaps

I want to be sure that everyone has seen this. It's important.

An Action Plan for Accelerating Achievement
for African American Males
and Other Students of Color

In this document, the District commits to some very specific benchmarks:
  1. Every student will achieve proficiency in Reading and Mathematics by end of Grade 2.
  2. Every student will have a personal learning plan and an advocate/mentor to keep him on track to high school graduation and successful post-secondary transition.
  3. Every student will meet standards of performance in Reading, Writing, Mathematics, and Science at the end of key transition grades.
  4. Every student will receive fair and equitable treatment regarding discipline and access to rigorous instructional programs.
  5. Every student will graduate from high school prepared for success in college or career.
Whenever I see commitments of this kind from the School District, I always want to ask "What if it doesn't go like that?"

Who Has the Best Coverage of McCleary Decision? Boston

Or rather, the Boston Globe.  I had many people send me links to this story that appeared in the Globe on Saturday, Nov. 21st.  It's part of their "Divided Nation" series and I hope to read more of the articles ( they cover a number of topics, not just public education.)
Here was a self-described progressive state with a Democratic governor and House, an electorate that last year voted to improve school funding, and many cash-flush corporations famished for qualified graduates. If a solution to gridlock couldn’t be found here, how could other states — or the other Washington, the nation’s capital — break out of their political stalemates?

"I Take It Personally" - A Teacher's Response to a Governor

From The Washington Post's The Answer Sheet, a story about Indiana governor, Mike Pence,   remark that teachers "shouldn't take it personally" when their students' scores plummet because of a new state test.  One teacher, Donna Roof, a 30-year veteran teacher, answered back.  (In Indiana, teacher evaluations do use test scores although the Governor says that, given the test is new, they get a one-year reprieve.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Guest Post: Rep Gerry Pollet Meets with Charter School Parents and Students

By Representative Gerry Pollet, 46th District:

Thursday offered a “learning moment” for students in charter schools, parents and legislators.

Blue-shirted charter school students and parents came to the state capital to urge that legislators “save” their schools. Ironically, the Supreme Court released its opinion the same day reaffirming its prior unanimous opinion that charter schools were not “common schools” and its majority opinion striking down the entire charter school initiative as unconstitutional.
A group of 8 or 9 Summit Sierra Charter HS 9th graders and two parents were leaving my office as I returned from committee hearings. Although I had a large group waiting for their scheduled appointment with me, I didn’t want to disappoint high school students who had made the trek – and, were eager to tell me about the “unique” learning experience offered by their school.

So, I stopped to engage them. It was a learning moment for me, and I hope for the students as well – as students and I found some pre-established notions challenged by thought provoking questions. There are questions which legislators should be asking – and, they have surprising answers.

FYI - Act Now for Washington Students? Astroturf Group

I may have mentioned it but to clarify, this "new" group, Act Now for Washington Students, is an astro-turf, Gates-funded group made up of DFER, League of Education Voters and Stand for Children.  You don't get more ed-form and Gates-guided than those three.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Yes, Next Legislative Session is about McCleary (and apparently, about charter schools)


I queried OSPI about what might happen.  Here's what the immediate issues are:

The ruling from the Court removes footnote 10 on page 11, the footnote that caused the “glitch” issue; namely, that funding for other categorical programs (Running Start, the Schools for the Blind/Deaf) might be in danger. Other than that, the Court simply said it was rejecting the motion for reconsideration of its original opinion, meaning that charter schools – at least in their current incarnation – will no longer be able to operate in Washington state. So yes, they will be gone.

The issue we’re trying to determine is when. We’re not sure if this order is effective today or not. The Court has a meeting on the books for December 14, possibly about the mandate. The Attorney General’s Office and OSPI are trying to find out from the Court if that means that money for November can be paid to the schools or not. We should have clarification on that by next week.

Regarding Spokane, the Court struck down the entire initiative – that includes authorizing agents, even if such an agent is controlled by an elected board. My understanding is that Spokane is working to bring the schools into the district. 

First, it is fascinating that no one seems to know what the Court decision truly means in terms of logistics.

Care about KPLU? Come Weigh In

KPLU's Community Advisory Board is meeting on Monday the 23rd from 2-:30pm at the Westin.

Here's a link to their Facebook page; I'm still looking for an e-mail address for the Board.  You could also write to KUOW, programming@KUOW.org.

Here's a very good story from Crosscut on this situation.  Apparently, a lot of this deciding happened behind closed doors even though it's public radio.

I've worked with a lot of reporters over the years and can tell who cares, who follows up and who gets into the weeds.  These two guys are good solid reporters.

Let's save KPLU's great reporters like Gabriel Spitzer and Kyle Stokes. 

Great Outdoors Free on Black Friday

From the Seattle Times on "Green Friday":

Washington’s two most-visited national parks, Olympic and Mount Rainier, are joining to offer free entry on Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving, in celebration of the holiday and as a way to encourage healthy outdoor time.

“The day after Thanksgiving is a great time for fresh air and a little exercise,” Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said in an email. “Thanksgiving is a time-honored American tradition, and we invite families to create new traditions by enjoying a fee-free day at two of the Northwest’s premier national parks.”

As well, if you have a 4th grader and want a free Christmas tree, Colville National Forest has a deal for you.

All fourth graders are eligible to receive a pass that allows free access to federal lands and waters across the country for a full year. In support of this initiative, the Forest Service will make available a free Christmas tree permit to every interested fourth-grader with a 4th Grade Every Kid in the Park Pass or paper voucher. Christmas tree permits are available on a first-come, first served basis while supplies last.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Deputy Superintendent to Leave in January

Deputy Superintendent Charles Wright announced, via a letter to staff, that he is leaving SPS, effective Jan. 5, 2016.  It's a bit of a curious letter as he doesn't say anything about his future plans but does give a long list of the accomplishments that he has worked on.  He also says this:
As you prepare to work with a new board, more closely with the community, and continue to work with one another to strengthen the system’s ability to support students, I encourage you to read the book The Trust Imperative by Stephen Hacker. Some of you may recall that I mentioned this book to you in September 2014.  It will be an excellent resource as you engage in intentional conversations about re-building trust where you believe it does not exist. The book offers insights and tools to help you understand and build trust across a spectrum of key elements including trust readiness, worthiness and willingness.
I have heard that he has been handing this book out and I hope to read it soon myself.  I'm glad he asking staff to work on trust issues.  I'm not sure what he means/context of "worthiness."

I wonder who will get the blame for this change - the new Board not even yet in there or the Superintendent?  Maybe I should ask Sherry Carr who went out of her way in her farewell remarks to name how many of each category of senior management had left over her eight years in office.

One in Four Seattle Public Schools Students Walk/Bike to School

This from a survey done by Seattle Greenways 

Friday Open Thread

Checking the Seattle Times, the final charter school ruling from the state supreme court is now gone from their home page.  There's not even a listing under their "Education Lab" section.  I guess the editorial board is now busy writing their latest missive to prop up what is truly a battered law.

As I said in one of my comments there, the Legislature would have a lot of explaining to do if they really tried to turn this around.  They'd have to create some quasi public/private system for charters, find the money to prop them up (as well as the Charter Commission who would still need to oversee the majority of them) and then, of course, explain to the public why, during a short session with a lot of work including McCleary, they are choosing to do this work and divert money from other programs.

I think this law is on life-support and maybe the Legislature should just pull the plug and start over with a new law.  A constitutional law.

Here's the trailer from the new Michael Moore documentary, "Where to Invade Next."  He's going to "take over" other countries' great ideas including those on public education.  This should be good.

Re: the arguing the other night at the Board meeting (where Director Patu really took it on the chin from some community members) about one of the SMART goals, closing the opportunity gap, here's the flyer that the district created last year about this program for African-American males.  At the time, I remember seeing this and wondering why I wasn't hearing more about this program. I'm still wondering.  The last page has a list of what ALL programs would like: "community-wide engagement, unwavering Board and Executive leadership ownership, dedicated cabinet-level "project-manager" and consistent resource allocation, culturally responsive professional development and accountability for performance."

There's a new book called Alice - Alert, Lockdown, Inform, counter, Evacuate - to help little kids know what to do in an active shooter situation.  Someone made a video of parents reading the book.

One of my two least-favorite U.S. Supreme Court justices, Antonin Scalia, told a Georgetown law school group this week that there is nothing in the constitution that gives parents the right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. 

 Naturally, home-schooling groups especially don't like this ruling and have a whole list of court cases that seem to indicate otherwise.  Of course, the actual right being in the constitution doesn't mean that the Court can't protect that right any way.  Scalia is apparently against substantive due process i.e. being a strict constitutionalist although I think even he would say that the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" contained in the Declaration of Independence may cover child-rearing as well as the First Amendment.

There are three community meetings on Saturday.  (Director Peters noted my plea for the new Board to try to have one community meeting per Saturday.  She told me that it's hard to do but I'm thinking maybe with seven people and four Saturdays a month, maybe it could happen.  The public really has no other way to see Board members in a group fashion.) See the district calendar for times and locations.

Friday Funny - making plans for the kids for that long Thanksgiving weekend?  Forget Black Friday - take the kids to the Internet Cat Video Festival at SIIF.  My latest fav cat video is cats and the scary, scary cucumber.

Transforming the internet phenomenon of cat cuteness from a solitary online experience to a real-world social event, the Internet Cat Video Festival features over 85 viral cat videos in one engaging and exciting non stop parade of **squee!** that will leave you with a smile on your face and a purr in your heart! 

What's on your mind?

Good News About Long-requested Improvements

One of the recurring themes among the criticisms of Seattle Public Schools centers on annual reports. These reports are required by policy but either the reports simply are not made, such as the report required by Policy 3208, Sexual Harassment, or the reports clearly fail to meet the requirements listed in the policy, such as the quarterly and annual reports required by Policy 2200, Equitable Access to Programs & Services.

You should all be familiar with the routine. Each year the superintendent and staff submits a woefully inadequate report. Each year I complain about it and beg the Board to demand a compliant report. Each year the Board accepts the report without complaint. Each year the culture of non-compliance is strengthened and transparency is weakened.

But this year there's something new. This year the superintendent and the staff are bringing forward a different kind of report for Policy 2090, Program Evaluation & Assessment.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Washington State Supreme Court Uphold Its Charter Law Ruling

The Court released its ruling today and upheld its decision to strike down the charter school law.   The ruling was 6-3, 5-4. The decision in the original ruling becomes final on December 14th.

The majority did strike out one footnote (page 11, footnote 10) about the use of School District No. 20 v. Bryan.  A bit interesting as this does revolve around Article IX on funding but they were likely addressing the issue of funding for other education programs. 

DOE - Mostly a Failing Grade on Data Security

Inline image 1
From the Washington Post's Answer Sheet:

Post Board Meeting After-Thoughts

A few thoughts after that long Board meeting (and I even left after the Action items so good for everyone who stayed until the bitter end.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waitlist Date May Have Moved

Update:  the staff IS recommending that the waitlist dissolve on August 15th.  The change is in the BAR. Good job, parents.

end of update
A parent at the Board meeting is reporting that Ashley Davies, the Enrollment Director, is going to recommend an August 15th waitlist date, not May 31st.  Will let you know if this comes to pass.  If so, quite a win there for parent power.

School Board Meeting, Part Two

Carr restarts meeting, mentioning the number of Action Items to get thru (and says that some Board members had previously left during Intro items - I didn't know this - and as long as there are four of them, they can do the work.)

School Board Meeting, Part One

Packed room for start of meeting.  A whole contingent of neon-yellow shirted kids from Schmitz Park Elementary, questioning the funding at Central versus school-based including class size.

RBHS students opened with a spirited call-and-response, singing and cheer-a-long.  They recognized the Board especially those directors who are leaving the Board.

The Last Board Meeting

Tonight's Board meeting is the last for this particular make-up of the Board.  They certainly are leaving with major issues that will be decided tonight.

Items of note for tonight's meeting:

Advanced Learning Testing Updates

The district's Advanced Learning office reports this (bold mine):

However, shortly after the Advanced Learning Office posted the calendar, staff learned that an existing district database that had been expected to aid scheduling could not be used. As a result, staffers were required to create a new database, entering all referral forms by hand. This unanticipated process has caused some scheduling delays. Additionally, a district server glitch inadvertently blocked a number of notification emails before the first October testing date. For these reasons, not all families could receive the email notification of their school’s testing date in time. 

Title IX work left undone

As soon as the Title IX news moved off the headlines, the Title IX work in Seattle Public Schools moved off the agenda.

The annual report required by Board Policy 3208 has never been submitted. Never. The Board has never asked for it and the superintendent has never offered it.

There is no Title IX coordinator. There was an interim person, then another interim person. There's no one doing the work right now.

There was a report by the interim Title IX coordinator. No action is planned in response to that report.

Despite promises to revise the sexual harassment policy and procedure, that work remains incomplete.

Title IX training has come to a stop.

The Board has lost all interest in completing the Title IX work that they made such a show of starting. They do not respond to emails about the stalled work on Title IX.

Can We Duplicate These Teachers' Methods?

Via ABC News:

This Florida Special Ed teacher,  Chris Ulmer, starts the school day with uplifting words to his students.

Advanced Learning and CSIPs

I have said, over and over again, that having an ALO in a school is usually no different from not having an ALO in a school.

Schools typically don't define their ALO in any meaningful way. They cannot and do not describe the ALO for families or tell families what the ALO provides that is any different from the norm for good teaching practices.

There are typically no practices specific to school ALOs. Schools cannot identify anything they do differently for students in ALOs than they do for students who are not in ALOs. Often the school cannot even say which students are participating in the ALO.

There is no assessment of school ALOs. The District has never made any assessment of their quality or efficacy (or even their existence) and the schools make no assessment of their quality or efficacy.

The bulk of ALOs are a fiction. They exist exclusively in marketing materials.

I recognize that this is a pretty harsh characterization of ALOs and, let's face it, Spectrum since Spectrum is, in most schools, no different from an ALO. You might wonder what evidence I can show to support this complete discredit of ALOs. Here is the best proof of that claim: school CSIPs.

Normally I would say that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but in this case it is. If something doesn't show up in the school CSIP, it doesn't show up at the school.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dorn Asks AG Ferguson for an Opinion on Local Levies

State Superintendent Randy Dorn's letter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The letter is much more in the weeds than the press release below. Dorn ends the letter saying (partial):

In the meantime, many school districts have already begun the process of planning future levies.

Without clarity on this question, school districts cannot adequately plan how they intend to deliver - or pay for - basic education services.

Given the longstanding - and ongoing - legal uncertainly regarding school districts' authority to use local levy funding to pay district personnel for basic education services, I believe it is essential that your response to this request be expedited.

Tuesday Open Thread

The Board has put up - less than 48 hours before the Board meeting - a rather short narrative for the Superintendent's evaluation.   They reference the rubric document as well and it's an odd thing to see someone get a raise when he is ranked only "Basic" in some categories.  I look forward to the tortured explanations from the Board tomorrow night as to why he deserves a raise and contract extension.

Clinton Provides More Clarity on Public Education Thinking

Hillary Clinton seems to be ever-more nuancing her ideas about public education.  A couple of weeks ago she said this (from the Washington Post:)

Clinton also said that public charter schools “should be supplementary, not a substitute” for traditional public schools. 

Then, at a closed door meeting with teachers and paraprofessionals on Nov. 9th she said this:

Monday, November 16, 2015

City Council Votes to Fund ORCA Cards

Update (11/17)
Today, I spoke with staff at the office of the sponsor of this measure, Councilman Mike O'Brien.

Data Collection and Your Children: Is Your Kid Just Another Brick in the Wall?

Back to one of my major concerns - data collection on children and student data privacy.

There was an important article published last week at The Answer Sheet at the Washington Post by Leonie Haimson and Cheri Kiesecker who are both public ed advocates and in leadership for the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, a national alliance of parents and others, standing up for the rights of parents and their students to protect their data.

Into the fray, via the Times, comes...Rob McKenna?  You remember him, former Washington State Attorney General and failed candidate for governor?  Look where he landed? At the Gates-funded Data Quality Campaign.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, Nov. 16th
Community Meeting on Assignment Plan at Rainier Beach High School, starting at 6:30 pm.  This is the last of the meetings on this topic.  I still maintain this was window-dressing and not about staff getting and receiving real input on this topic.  I'll have a separate thread on what readers have said but it seems clear that the waitlist is still an issue.

Wednesday, Nov. 18th
Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm.  Something of an end of an era for this particular make-up for the Seattle School Board. Agenda.

I do want to publicly say thank you to each of the Board members who are leaving - Harium Martin-Morris, Sherry Carr, Sharon Peaslee and Marty McLaren.  I walked Fremont with Sherry Carr to help her get elected.  I worked on the campaigns of both Sharon Peaslee and Marty McLaren (her first one.)  It takes courage to even stand up and run for office and even more courage and energy to serve.  I certainly have disagreed with them on many issues but I truly thank them for their service.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Long-Awaited Student Assignment Plan

Here's the agenda item from the upcoming Wednesday Board meeting. 

I have not had the opportunity to compare the red-line with the green printed (clean) versions of the SAP.   (And actually, it would be interesting to compare the last red-line version with the current one and see what differences there are.)

Here's the agenda for the entire meeting.

I note one interesting thing on the agenda.  The Board is to vote on the SMART Goals that guide the Superintendent's work. There are two amendments to this BAR; one from Director McLaren and one from Director Peaslee and Director Patu.  It involves wording over who are the groups in "students of color."

Friday, November 13, 2015

New 'No Child Left Behind' Almost There

From the Washington Post:

City Looking for New Members for School Safety Committee

From the Department of Transportation:
The Seattle School Traffic Safety Committee is looking for new members to help make walking and biking to school in Seattle safer and easier. The volunteer board, which was created by the Seattle City Council in 1975 to improve traffic safety for all of Seattle’s school children, advises the Mayor and City Council with respect to school traffic safety, including adult crossing guard locations, school traffic signs and signals, school safety patrols, bicycle facilities, sidewalks and student traffic safety education.

New UW President to Follow Nyland's Lead

The Times is reporting that new (but long-time with UW) president, Ana Mari Cauce, will be paid $910K per year and has said she will donate $100,000 back to the university for "student programs and scholarships."  She will do this over the life of her five-year contract which means half-a million dollars back to UW.

Oh wait, I guess the two gestures on the part of President Cauce and Superintendent Nyland aren't really all that similar.

Friday Open Thread

Tomorrow is Director Carr's last community meeting as a board member - it's at the Hearthstone at Greenlake from 8:30-10:00 am.

A couple of strong women speaking out - Reece Witherspoon honored as Glamor's 2015 Women of the Year Awards and Meryl Streep getting turned down for King Kong.  Witherspoon's speech is a good one to read to your daughters. 

See, I just kind of started wondering lately why female ambition is a trait that people are so afraid of. Why do people have prejudiced opinions about women who accomplish things? Why is that perceived as a negative? In a study by Georgetown University in 2005, a group of professors asked candidates to evaluate male efficient versus female efficient in politicians. Respondents were less likely to vote for power-seeking women than power-seeking men. They also perceived ambitious women as looking out for themselves. They even reported ambitious women as provoking feelings of disgust. 

I am terribly sad about the news that KUOW is buying KPLU and changing it to an all-jazz station.  KPLU has two of the best reporters - Kyle Stokes and Gabriel Spitzer - and I would consider it a loss of their dedication, professionalism and smarts on the reporting scene here in Seattle.  Those of you who have talked to or been interviewed by either guy know what I mean.

If you are looking for something to do this rainy weekend, SIIF is having their mini-Italian film festival.  I recommend the documentary on the Palio, a horse race run in a piazza in Sienna.  It should be a great and exciting story.  Sienna is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own animal to represent it.  The race is made up of riders from nearly every neighborhood.  The other film I really recommend is a re-release of the classic, the Night of the Shooting Stars.  

Your Friday funny - the Onion's " 'Seek Funding' Step Added to Scientific Method."  I say "seek funding" also almost seems to be the basis for most public education research.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Curriculum And Instruction Committee Meeting

I wanted to also update you on all the items discussed at the Curriculum&Instruction Committee meeting on Monday.  The agenda was jam-packed and Director McLaren did an admirable job keeping it moving.  Sadly, though, it meant truncated discussions.  (Note; this will not be inclusive of all items on the agenda.)

Director Blanford, who is Chair of the committee, was absent so Director McLaren filled in with Director Peters also there as the third member of the committee.  I also noted that Rick Burke, Jill Geary and Leslie Harris, newly elected members of the Board, were also in attendance.

Charter School Updates - National and State

Where are we with the Washington State charter law?

As usual, waiting on the Supreme Court.  The last action that I see is that four former state attorneys general — Slade Gorton, Ken Eikenberry, Chris Gregoire and Rob McKenna - filed a friend of the court document, asking the Court to reconsider. This was filed right at the end of October which may have been on purpose - the Court does have to read and consider everything filed.

I think the Court will politely tell all these people - thanks for the input but we got it right the first time.  They will say thanks for the input but outcomes from the ruling ("this will hurt other education initiatives the Legislature funds") fall on the Legislature to solve.  But the ruling on charters is separate from those.

I think the one bone the Court will throw out is asking the Legislature to fund the existing charters thru the end of the school year.  Given how late the Court ruled on the challenge and now, the lateness of their reconsideration, it's probably the right thing to do.

I myself just received in the mail today a glossy "How Do You Tell Him?" plea from a group, Act Now for Washington.  It seems to give up on the Court's reconsideration and tries to make the case for the Legislature to act.  They do go for the tone that the Washington Policy Center usually does which is borderline hysteric.

Unless the Legislature acts, six judges will overturn the will of more than one million voters.

Yes, and do you know how many voters get their vote overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court?  We have these courts for a reason and that is to guard our state and national constitutions.

They are also STILL whining over whether this will affect funding for other education programs.  Again, two wrongs don't make a right.  Fix those issues but it won't make charter schools constitutional.

The worst part is the back page with quotes from various people and the Times.  Gregoire's is out of context, Ferguson's can't be proven, and the one from a parent lays all the blame on the ruling without any blame that rightly belongs on the shoulders of the Charter Commission and the charter schools themselves.

Sadly, I think that there will have to be a "grand bargain" struck for McCleary in the upcoming legislative session - the Republicans will want a charter bill passed.  Of course, I don't support this (and I hate these blackmail kind of situations) but if they pass a decent charter bill, so be it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Assignment Plan Community Meeting #1

This meeting turned out to be more interesting than I thought but that was mostly due to parents who asked some fairly pointed questions about the waitlist. 

Ashley Davies, the director of Enrollment, was the lead for the evening.  (Flip Herndon was at a Work Session and it will be interesting to see if he handles any of the other community meetings.)

There were about 50 parents who came to Ingraham for the meeting.  There was an issue right from the start because Ms. Davies had brought copies of the Board-approved 2009 SAP and the 2013-2014 Transition Plan which are the documents the district is attempting to combine AND streamline.  The issue was there was no current document available and Ms. Davies did not convey that point to parents.  She did not say when it would be (but the board was told "before Friday.")

Thank You, Vets

A huge thank you to all our American veterans on this day of remembrance of their service. 

I recall an assembly at Roosevelt on Veterans Day where they had all the teachers and staff who had served come forward.  Very touching.

A thank you to all our vets who are ALSO working in and for public education.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Beacon Hill Investigation Closed

Basically, the district can't figure out who did it but someone did tamper with tests. The press release mentions security measures taken since then which is great except that now they don't do paper and pencil testing.

And naturally, there is no mention of the principal. This is a key issue because the principal is the head of any school building. The investigation had revealed some comings and goings at the school that seemed odd; isn't the principal responsible to answer for those?

It's understandable if there simply was not enough evidence to say who did what. But that doesn't mean there wasn't evidence that there was sloppy oversight of the test booklets. They do know who was responsible for that and yet that gets left out of the investigation.
From SPS Communications:

Washington Paramount Duty

From Washington Paramount Duty:

On Saturday afternoon, we are filming for a video about education funding and WPD. Time commitment: about 1 hour, somewhere between 12-5 p.m. in Fremont (we can work with you on which time slot is best for you). If you or your child is interested in telling our legislators and fellow citizens why education funding needs to be prioritized, we'd love to capture that! Please contact video@paramountduty.com if you are interested in participating.

Tuesday Open Thread

Reason #10 on why I hate the SPS website - the main calendar does NOT reflect all the meetings. Sitting at the Curriculum&Instruction meeting yesterday,  I learned of a regional Sped meeting with district staff that will be held tonight at West Seattle High from 6-7 pm for parents.

It's important for parents/public to be able to have ONE place to know about any and all meetings that they may want/need to attend.  I'm not sure I get why this cannot happen.

 There are a couple of moms who have started a Facebook page - The Thirteen Thousand Dollar Question - about what their school could do with Superintendent Nyland's proposed raise.  They are looking for letters to him explaining the needs out there (see example).  They will be on display at the next Board meeting where the Board will vote on the raise/contract extension. 
#‎nylandsraise‬   ‪#‎donateitall‬    ‪#‎letters2larry‬

Great article from NPR about Special Education teachers - finding and keeping them.  (More on Sped as it was discussed at the Curriculum&Instruction Ctm meeting yesterday.  Despite progress around meeting OSPI mandates, I am still hearing from desperate parents and teachers that things are just not working in the classroom.

As you may be aware, Mayor Murray and King County Ex Dow Constantine recently declared a state of emergency over the issue of homelessness in King County.  Story here from Waterland Blog that the Des Moines City Council passed a city rule that homeless encampments cannot be within 1,000 feet from any school (which means many churches cannot house encampments.)  The irony?  
Lathrop said the one in 20 students in the Highline School District are homeless.

Let's talk about sex.  In two stories on sex and sexuality and teens.  This one from Connections.Mic is one dad's post on Reddit, a letter he wrote to his kids about being ready for sex.  It's pretty good.   The other story is from the NY Times about one high school in colorado where at least 100 student had been trading between 300-400 naked photos of themselves.  The youngest child involved was an eighth grader. 

The revelation has left parents outraged, administrators searching for missed clues, and the police and the district attorney’s office debating whether to file child pornography charges — including felony charges — against some of the participants.

He added that he was not interested in arresting hundreds of children and would “use discretion” if he decided to file charges.

Members of the high school football team, the CaƱon City Tigers, were at the center of the sexting ring, Mr. Welsh said.  Students at the school described a competitive point system that classmates used to accrue photographs.

The photo-sharing, some of which took place in school, was done largely on cellphone applications called “vault apps” that look innocent enough — some look like calculators — but are really secret troves of photographs accessible after entering a password.

Parents, on both counts - sex and sexting - talk to your children.  My feeling, from reading many of these stories is that many students are being bullied/coerced into these photos.  Again, talking to your children about the old-fashioned notion about privacy and the right to be private might be a good idea.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Student Assignment Plan Will Remain the Same (Save Two Things)

I almost - almost - didn't go to the Curriculum&Instruction Committee meeting and then the COW of the Operations (Committee of the Whole - that acronym is a scream).  But I did and I am glad I did.

To the biggest news - did you hear about the University of Missouri president who resigned under protest from students about lack of sensitivity/action on racism issues?  How did that happen? Big, steady, continuing pressure.

And so it goes for the Student Assignment plan.  Staff has rolled back what they are doing in a major way AND the Board is pretty clear that this is what they want. 

I cannot tell you how the support of the Seattle Council PTSA has mattered in this case.  I am so proud of that group and their graceful (and seemingly fearless) leader, Cassandra Johnston.  I truly believe that their support on this issue for transparency and clarity on this issue - along with many of you - have carried the day.

What was said at the COW tonight:

- the SAP is not changing except for the waitlist dissolves May 31st instead of in September.  Open Enrollment is two weeks in Feb-March and so there is time for waitlists to form and students to be assigned.
use of the distance tiebreaker will end.

That's it.

A Vote of No Confidence in Nyland Coming?

I haven't raised this idea but others have.

My analysis of the situation is below but here's what made me a "vote of no-confidence" believer; it's a quote from a story that KIRO radio did about the State of the District speech.

He also defended his salary. 

"My raise is not going to solve anywhere near any of the issues that we have on the table," he said. "I have done better than anybody else. I'm gonna take the smallest raise in the district, as far as I know.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, Nov. 9th
Washington State Charter Commission meeting from 10 am - 5 pm at the STAR Center in Tacoma.

Highlights of the agenda:
- State Supreme Court Ruling Calendar update
- First Place Scholars presentation/update (after which the Commission has an Executive Session)

Made Me Laugh (and remember why we look out the window)

This and That

Hey, the Alliance for Education had their Roaring Twenties fundraiser:

What a wonderful night we shared on Saturday and what a powerful statement of support to the more than 52,000 students in Seattle.  You contributed over $400,000 to support students in our public schools - wow!  This is by degrees a significant increase over the past few years and yet another compelling testatment(sic) to the generosity and commitment to high quality public education that exists in our community.  Thank you!

Well, it's great that they are still saying they want to give to Seattle Schools but I wonder how?  (Oh wait, the first face I see on their photo roundup of the event is...Don Nielson.  Never mind.)

Really good piece from Seattle Education by parent Carolyn Leith on the possible raise for Superintendent Nyland.

As we at this blog have all seen, from the past two school board elections, counting your chickens before you count all the votes is a bad idea.  It appears some pundits (see Publicola) thought that the City Council races were a done deal.  Not so fast.  It appears that Lisa Herbold (over in West Seattle) is close to overtaking Shannon Braddock.  As well, Pamela Banks Tammy Morales is quickly gaining on long-time councilman, Bruce Harrell. 

Some updates on the school board races - all of them have seen the gap widen between candidates.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Friday, November 06, 2015

Rainier Scholars Information Sessions

Here's a list of informational meetings for parents about Rainier Scholars.  You only need to attend one.

Rainier Scholars cultivates the academic potential and leadership skills of hard-working, low-income students of color. By creating access to transformative educational opportunities and providing comprehensive support to scholars and families, we increase college graduation rates and empower new generations of leaders.

Currently, we serve 600 scholars through 14 cohorts with 60-65 new scholars added each year. We serve African-American, Hispanic/Latino, first generation Asian and Native American students who are most underrepresented on college campuses.

These students have the greatest number of barriers to achieving a college education:
  • More than 90% of students come from households without a four-year college degree
  • More than 85% of students qualify as low-income
Our scholars are distinguished as much by what they have as by what they don't have. All Rainier Scholars demonstrate innate cognitive ability, motivation and a strong work ethic. They share a desire to use education as a pathway to new possibilities.

Each November, 5th grade students of color in Seattle, Highline and Renton school districts who met standard on their fourth grade reading assessment receive a special letter - one inviting them to a meeting where they can learn about being a Rainier Scholar.

Over the next five months, we work with students and their families to identify approximately 60 - 65 motivated learners who will make up a new cohort of Rainier Scholars for the upcoming summer. We recruit those students who have the greatest number of barriers to a college education. More than 85% of our scholars qualify as low-income. More than 90% come from households where they will be the first generation to earn a four-year college diploma.

To note: you can apply if your family get a letter OR on your own.  Attending an informational meeting is recommended and they have several with translators.

Work Session on District Scorecard/Operations Data Dashboard

The Board is having a work session this afternoon from 4:30-6:30 pm.  It's an annual topic - results of the District Scorecard/Operations Data Dashboard - and the Board needs it to assess whether the Superintendent deserves a raise (still a no from me) but the timing.

I see more and more work sessions on Fridays. This is NOT a going thing and never has been.  But it makes me wonder if there is a rush to get a lot done and/or there's just more work.

I, for one, am not trekking down to the JSCEE on a Friday afternoon in rush hour traffic.  I do wish the work sessions were taped for later viewing.

Here's the presentation and it's a whopper at about 80 pages.  Absolute credit to staff who created this huge document.  It must have been a lot of time and effort.

I slogged thru but did I truly read it?  No. 

One issue is that it is very "in the weeds" and I suspect that will be an issue for the Board.  I'm not even sure what some of it means.  One example is slide 6 which I think I understand but I'm not sure. 

Another issue is that they may get thru every slide in two hours but discussion?  I don't think so.

20140-2015 District Scorecard

Comment Moderation

Gentle readers.

Charlie and I have never shied away from discussions, even spirited ones.

We have a policy of not deleting any comment unless it is anonymous or has name-calling or is off-subject (and that one we don't always enforce.)

However, I will have to add a new reason - making threats.  Whether they are vague or direct, we do not want any threats being made against anyone and especially not against this blog.  The blog is a community service and Charlie and I did not work this long and hard to have anyone deliberately try to undermine it. 

As well, there seems to be a few readers who know each other and a couple who want to pick a fight each time the other one comments.  That needs to stop - take it elsewhere.

So I will delete any comment that has threatening language, using my own best judgment. (Luckily, these few readers have discernible writing styles/tone so I believe I know who to delete.  Changing your name is not going to save your comment.)

I am hopeful this will end that activity.

Moving on.

Friday Open Thread

Good news - a Seattle trash collector found about $12K in checks that turned out to be part of money  raised at Lawton Elementary by the PTA.  Micah Speir said he found them scattered among other trash.  He called around and let the Lawton principal, Dorian Manza, know and returned the checks. (A PTA member had accidentally thrown them out in the trash.) Principal Manza tried to give Speir a tip but Speir said no.  He said, "I'm just happy I was able to come across it and it didn't blow away," 

Big tip of the hat to Micah Speir!

Kids filled the benches of King County Superior Court before Judge Hollis R. Hill to hear oral arguments about climate change, on November 3rd, 2015.
Bellamy Pailthorp, KPLU
A wag of the finger to Republican Ben Carson.  Apparently, there is nothing he won't say and in this clip, where he is asked about Common Core, he decides that public education is at the bottom of educational services in this country.  (Also, his personal belief is that the Egyptians didn't build the pyramids.) 

But another tip of the hat to kids who came to King County court this week to fight climate change.  This from KPLU:

Eight young teenagers are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state Department of Ecology. They want to force action on climate change.

Their arguments are part of the lawsuit filed in Washington, one of dozens of suits filed and actions taken in every state and against the federal government, by a non-profit called Our Children’s Trust.

Here's a fun game - caption what those kids are thinking.  Those faces are priceless especially the girl in the blue shirt who looks very mad.

Did you hear?

It Was a Bad Week for Education Reform at the End of an Awful Era of Corporate School Reform

This from the Huffington Post Education:

The title of Jeff Bryant's Education Opportunity Network piece says it best: Education Reform's Very Bad, God-Awful Week. Bryant reviews the resignation of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President Obama's apology for contributing to over-testing, and the stagnation and even the decline of the reliable NAEP scores after decades of growth.  

Bryant also surveys the national news on charters. A series of new stories in several states document how the lack of oversight opened the doors for financial irregularities by charter school operators, and the number of other reports documenting underperformance by charters continues to grow. Of course, the documentation of how Success Academy pushes out more-difficult-to-educate kids and Eva Moskowitz's arrogant response was a huge blow to reformers.

Not to leave out that the ed reformers on the school board in Jefferson County, Colorado all got recalled.

"It sends a large message that you need to be responsive to your constituents, your teachers and your community," Harmon said.

Bryant concludes his impressive catalogue of recent reform failures with the words of teacher/activist Jesse Hagopian: 

It should be clear that this national uprising, this Education Spring, has forced the testocracy to retreat and is the reason that the Obama administration has come to its current understanding on testing in schools. However, the testocracy, having amassed so much power and wealth, won't just slink quietly into the night.

There is a Friday Work Session on the District Scorecard/Data Dashboard which I will talk about in a separate thread.

There are no Saturday Community meetings (and I note that Director Blanford scheduled his next one for November 21st, right before Thanksgiving - why?)  I''m hoping that the new Board will make a pledge to have at least one director community meeting each weekend so that parents/public have access to one director a week.  With seven of them, I think it possible.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Latest on the Student Assignment Plan

The district has announced community meetings about the Student Assignment Plan.  I'll be frank.  It's too little, too late and really, it's a waste of everyone's time.  Why?

Too little
1) There are just three meetings scheduled.  There is not one in the SW.  This is very akin to what they did for the "growth boundaries" meetings.  This city, this district has regions.  It is difficult for parents to learn of these meetings and then get to one on school nights.

Too late
2) The last meeting is just two days before the vote. In less than two weeks, the district will notify parents, take their input and consider it in the plan?  No.  In less than two weeks, they will have some public meetings and write down what parents say.

Waste of everyone's time
Check out the FAQs.  They STILL say there are only two changes to the plan.  Who is zooming who?
(Note: there is an Admissions FAQ for various programs AND an FAQ for the Student Assignment Plan changes.  Don't go getting those mixed up. Sigh.)

"I Need to Move"

From Upworthy, a beautiful and moving piece about kids who are different (because of their brains, not their personality.)   Maybe we need more of these stand-up desk classrooms.  There's even a movement, Stand Up Kids.

State of the District

 Update: here's the Powerpoint for the Superintendent's speech.

Update: readers, I was blogging on the fly so it's a choppy account.  I'll have some analysis tomorrow.

end of update.

City Hall space starting to fill for the Superintendent's State of the District speech.  Lots of top SPS staff here.  John Rogers Elementary choir warmed up; they sound great and look adorable.

I see Sharon Peaslee, (saw Bruce Harrell but he seemed to know nothing although Communications tells me they e-mailed City Councilpersons twice this morning).  I see Directors Blanford and McLaren.  Looks like President Carr is unavailable.  I see Board-elect Rick Burke.  Sue Peters is here as well.

- Welcome from VP Peaslee
- John Rogers Otters Choir
- Every Student, Every Classroom, Every Day - speech by Superintendent Nyland
- Kent Koth, Center for Community Engagement and Seattle University Youth Initiative on Community Partnerships
- Closing - First Seatle Youth Poet Laureate, Leija Farr from Cleveland High School

Ballard High on Lockdown

SPD Twitter at 1:37 pm
@SeattlePD: Principal Wynkoop and Chief O'Toole give @seapubschools Ballard HS students a real time update.

Should Public Officials Be Able to Use "Ghost Messaging?"

From Education Week's Digital Education blog and the Sacramento Bee.  I'm going to print some excerpts from the article below but the entire article follows those excerpts.

But Cuban, the Cyber Dust founder, sees a different problem.

"Should [school officials] be able to discuss business at lunch? What about over the phone?" he said. "There is a place for public disclosure and transparency. But there is a place for privacy as well."

James Mayer, the CEO of good-government group California Forward, agreed. The group has not taken a formal stance on the use of ephemeral-messaging apps, but Mayer said it would be a mistake to automatically attribute nefarious motives to public officials who seek to use such a tool.

"If you really want good public services, with fewer mistakes, you have to allow managers to think out loud and consult with their peers and talk through issues with their teams," he said. "Not all communication is public record."

First, I'm not asking Mark Cuban (of Shark Tank fame) for advice on privacy and public records.

But to address the question, it depends.  In a meeting, even one between just two officials, someone could take notes. Those notes are accessible to the public.  Verbal conversation? Unless it is recorded, nothing short of getting someone on the stand would make that accessible.  (I'm no lawyer but I think that's right.)

Readers?  Your thoughts, please.

Let's Get Some Answers on K-12 Ed from Presidential Candidates

From the Network for Public Education:

We've created an action campaign asking Rachel Maddow, the host of the next Democratic presidential forum, to ask one of our 8 questions. Voters should know how the candidates feel about crucial issues like high-stakes standardized testing, student privacy, and equitable funding. With a couple of clicks, you can send her an email, and let her know education policy needs to be part of the discussion.

You may have seen Network for Public Education President Diane Ravitch's recent article in Salon. In that piece, Diane cautioned that in 2012 the subject of K-12 education was largely ignored. She said:
The media and citizens at public forums must not let that happen again. Education is central to our future as a nation; it is also the single largest item in every state’s budget. Yet the candidates for the 2016 race in both parties are talking only about pre-kindergarten and higher education, skipping right over the important issues that face millions of children and educators in public schools today.
Diane has done her part to elevate the conversation about our public schools -- now it's up to us! To get these questions asked, NPE ACTION NEEDS YOU!

We've made it super easy. Just follow this link, and with a couple of clicks you can let Rachel Maddow know how important K-12 education issues are to you.

Great Travel Opportunity for High School Students

Via Chief Sealth International social studies teacher, Noah Zeichner:

The U.S. Youth Ambassadors Program with South America offers two separate three-week leadership exchanges abroad for U.S. teenagers ages 15-17 and adult mentors: one to Brazil and one to Argentina & Chile.

The application is due November 30Step-by-step instructions
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the programs aim to develop a cadre of young adults in the United States who have a strong sense of civic responsibility, a commitment to their communities, an awareness of current and global issues, and strong interpersonal leadership skills. The programs aim to promote mutual understanding, respect, and collaboration between the United States and South America.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Bell Times

Just in from SPS - bell times off the table for tonight's Board meeting, pending an environmental review.

Sup Says He Will Donate Half of Raise Back (Just for this Year)

New attachment to the BAR, Nyland's letter at end of attachments.

I am ceding my speaker time to Sarah Sense Wilson, a leader in the Native American parent community tonight but in my prepared remarks I stated I was puzzled.  Because weeks ago, one director had said that they wouldn't be considering any kind of raise/extension until AFTER the State of the District and the release of the District Scorecard.  Neither thing has happened.

SPS parents have to pay for basic supplies.

The district can't afford ORCA cards for RBHS students who truly want to be at school on time.

Maintenance can't even set the clocks in all the school to be on time.

Is anyone really impressed with his offer?  I'm not.

Traffic Gridlock on I-5 This Morning

There is some kind of road repair north of the West Seattle bridge that seems to have traffic locked up on I-5.  I see nothing at the SPS Twitter feed about bus issues but a heads up from me anyway.

Welcome New Board Directors

Welcome to new Seattle School Board Directors Burke, Harris, Geary, and Pinkham. Congratulations on your victories. Now on to the real work of governing the District.

As you have heard (over and over again) your role as a Board Director is not to manage or administer the day-to-day operations of the District. That work has been delegated to the Superintendent. Your role is to set policy, provide oversight, and represent the public.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Guess Who Might Get a Raise AND an Extension of Contract?

Yup, Superintendent Nyland.

Here's the BAR about this from the Board agenda.  This is an Intro item with a vote at the next Board meeting in two weeks.

They propose a 5% raise (based on COLA and other management raises) which would raise his BASE pay to over $289K.  And they propose extending his contract to June 2018 (it is currently 2017.)


From the district:
The board action for the Student Assignment Plan scheduled on Nov. 4, 2015 is being postponeduntil Nov. 18 to allow for additional understanding and feedback from our many stakeholders.

Good decision but if there is confusion, it is at the hands of district staff.

School Board election results: First returns:

Director District No. 1 
Michael Christophersen  33.65% - 24825 votes

Scott S. Pinkham  65.87% - 48597 votes

Director District No. 2
Laura Obara Gramer  20.72% - 15480 votes

Rick Burke  78.96% - 58982 votes

Director District No. 3
Jill Geary
59.43% - 44392 votes

Lauren McGuire
40.22% - 30041 votes

Director District No. 6
Leslie Harris  74.51% - 55538 votes

Marty McLaren  25.15% - 18744 votes

I would say that clearly voters made clear choices.  The two Establishment candidates did not win.  

Now the hard work towards accountability and transparency starts.  Parents, it will take the backing of parents and teachers to allow the Board to hold staff to Board policy and timely and clear accounting of district spending.  Outside voices will clamor that this is "micromanaging" but it is not such thing. 

I personally think this a win for our district.S

Bell Times Update

With just about 24 hours until the vote on bell times, here comes more info.

First, the district has released a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the change.

As well, KPLU's Kyle Stokes is tweeting this:

FYI updated the new bell times proposal — everything time-shifted 5 minutes. My updated spreadsheet:

I’m checking with whether bell times shift really will override current 7-hour day at

His spreadsheet is a wonder.

Guess What? It's Not the Student Assignment Plan

The Student Assignment Plan BAR on the Board meeting agenda has changed again.

I have just spent about 20 minutes comparing this document to the real SAP (see next paragraph).  I have tried to understand what they are saying and you know what?  I don't believe ANYONE should have to be a detective to figure this out.

This has gone too far and frankly, it's a mess.  The Board needs to say no.

First, the document that staff is using is NOT the Student Assignment Plan.  It's the 2014 Annual Transition plan.

To explain, the Board passed a Student Assignment Plan in 2009.  But there have been Transition plans for the school years since because of the growth of the district and the reopening of schools.  Each of these plans had specific items (like grandfathering - who got it and for how long) and were documents to work towards - I thought - a finalization of the use of the SAP which would now be based on address.

The Oct 21, 2015 BAR said this:

Student Assignment Plan

October 21, 2015

The Student Assignment Plan was approved by the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Board of Directors in 2009 to provide greater predictability for families while still offering opportunities for school choice. Annual Transition Plans for 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14 guided a phased approach to implementation. The purpose of this document is to provide a single, unified resource that explains student assignment in the Seattle Public Schools district.

But n fact, the newly edited BAR says that this is the:

Redlined Student Assignment Plan which shows the proposed changes from the 2013- 2014 Annual Transition Plan (the current governing document) 
But I'm fairly certain it IS the Transition plan and NOT the real SAP.   The opening pages of the old SAP do not match what the district is now calling the "Student Assignment Plan."  

So, for whatever reason, the district has rewritten a transition plan as the SAP and what - left the real SAP on the shelf?
Also in the updated BAR:
Seats that become available after May 31 will be available for assignments for new students.
However, I cannot find any mention of this in the actual document.