Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday Open Thread

The last Open Thread of the year.   It will be a challenging year ahead but, if there were any evidence that the world should go on, look into your child's face.  Wishing you all a healthy, safe and yes, Happy New Year.  And, of course, go Huskies!

Great opportunity for girls, 16-17 - Inspiring Girls Expeditions is offering free glaciology and marine programs next summer. The deadline for applications is January 31st.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Mumps Expanding Across Region;One Case at Nova

From Q13:
New numbers show the mumps outbreak in King County has now spread to 108 cases, including one new case in a Seattle public school.

The Public Health Department of Seattle & King County has confirmed a student who attends Nova High School has been diagnosed with mumps.

Helping Students Spot Fake News

Here's the link to this infographic.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Nyland Speaks Out About Seattle Schools' Deficit

Update: I note that the Times had this up on their front page webpage for just a couple of hours before it disappeared into their Op-Eds links. Hmm.

end of update

The op-ed in the Seattle Times is like many adminstrative missives; kind of bland, kind of vague and without much real strength behind it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Looking Ahead (Nationally) - Part Two, Personalized Learning

I've already written several times about "personalized learning" (here's the latest post that I wrote.)

But let's see how personalized learning will play out within a Trump administration. 

Tuesday Open Thread

Carrie Fisher, our Princess Leia, dead at 60.  I just watched a great documentary - Bright Lights - about her and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.  It was a fun and funny film about two women who lived their lives out loud.  Sad.

Interesting story from NPR about whether software in classrooms can help save lives from teachers viewing what topics students searched for.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Looking Ahead (Nationally) - Part One

You'll notice I didn't say "looking forward" because honestly, I don't see much hope for public education for all students in this country, state and city.  Let's start with nationally.

Trump won the Electoral College and is therefore elected president.  However, that win is clearly not a mandate when you consider that he received nearly 63 million votes to Hillary Clinton's nearly 66 million votes.  Add into her votes the ballots cast for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and others and you get to about 74 million people who voted against Trump.

He has not even been sworn in and already there are many warning signs.  His background and actions tell us three important things.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Good Will Towards All

As we come upon different holidays, I want to wish everyone a safe, peaceful and happy time. The blog will be quiet for this weekend but, as promised, next week I will have posts on issues of "segregation," HCC, and 10,000 foot view of the district.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa (not to mention the just-passed Winter Solstice.

Naughty and Nice List 2016

On the subject of gift giving....

Thursday, December 22, 2016

This and That

From Ed Week, New York State lifts disciplinary action against teachers who discuss test questions that the state has released.

A reader asked about a threat at Ingraham High School in the cafeteria by a student with a backpack.  A staffer asked around and not a single student knows about this.  In this day of phones with cameras and social media, that would seem odd.  I'm thinking someone was trying to stir the pot here.  Don't do that.

Last spring, Mayor Murray had his Education Summit.  I was there as were hundreds of other people.  He said this about homeless students in SPS (transcript from the Mayor's office, dated April 30, 2016):

What's Up With the Security Cameras at Washington Middle School?

So what's up with this story about Washington Middle School and security cameras in the cafeteria?  From the South Seattle Emerald:
(In late November) the principal of Washington Middle School said she thought so, announcing the installation of “video surveillance throughout the school.”
“We intend to identify kids who do not fulfill their clean-up responsibilities,” said Principal Susan Follmer. “Who wants to sit at a crumb-ridden table?”
In another e-mail Follmer said:

Stay Calm and Join the Resistance

Worried about what comes next for our country and public education?  Great uplifting words from the Gadfly on the Wall blog
Why should we despair when we behold the glass menagerie of fools Trump has assembled to populate his administration? Glass breaks.

Why despair when hearing the tired rhetoric of Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South coming out of his mouth? We defeated both! We can do so again.

Yes, we don’t have any political party that supports us. So we’ll either take over the Democrats or build our own legislative network. 

“Fate whispers to the warrior ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispers back ‘I am the storm.’ ”
– unknown

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bellevue School District

A reader recently referenced the high PISA-like scores for students in Bellevue School District; I read about it in the Times via this article:
If the Bellevue School District were a nation, its high-school students would rank among the top of the world’s developed nations on an influential international exam.

Fighting Trump's Ed Secretary Nominee

Update from Politico:
Billionaire Betsy DeVos has been unabashed about using her wealth to advance her own agenda. “We expect a return on our investment,” she once wrote about her family’s massive political contributions.

After giving millions of dollars to politicians over the past two decades, she now heads into her Senate confirmation hearing for education secretary with a clear advantage: DeVos and her husband, Dick, have donated to the campaigns of 17 senators who will consider her nomination — four of whom sit on the Senate education committee that oversees the process.
end of update
Billionaire Betsy DeVos has been unabashed about using her wealth to advance her own agenda. “We expect a return on our investment,” she once wrote about her family’s massive political contributions.
After giving millions of dollars to politicians over the past two decades, she now heads into her Senate confirmation hearing for education secretary with a clear advantage: DeVos and her husband, Dick, have donated to the campaigns of 17 senators who will consider her nomination — four of whom sit on the Senate education committee that oversees the process.
Simply put, Betsy DeVos will be a disaster for American public education.  That Trump does not know near enough about the system, Common Core, etc. means that he would likely give free rein to whoever runs the Department of Education and that includes pushing charter schools and vouchers.

Tuesday Open Thread

I'm celebrating a child's birthday this week (I have grown men now.) One thing I always tell parents of boys; record that little boy voice because when puberty hits, it goes away.  I can still hear my older son's voice in my head but not my younger but hey, it's all on tape.  Whether with video or not, get some audio of your son's voice - you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

UW 2017 History Lecture Series

This winter's lecture series on Equity&Difference has some good ones that could be useful in thinking about public education.  (Two of the early ones - Equity and Deeper Learning and White Privilege are already sold out.)

Feb. 15th, Kane Hall at 7:30 pm
Joy Williamson-Lott -  
New Hurdles, Same Territory: How History Can Guide the Future of Education
Many look to “the school” as the great equalizer, a meritocracy where equal opportunity is realized. For communities of color, this is often far from the truth. Throughout history, each time communities of color have made progress toward equal educational opportunity, a major societal pushback has caused the loss of gains that appeared won. Dr. Williamson-Lott looks to history to show how we can work toward real progress.

Overview Thoughts as We Come to the End of 2016

We don't need to have an expanded discussion here on these various issues but here's what I'll be writing about by the end of the year:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Open Thread

The Governor has announced that he wants to have a new department, for Families, Children and Youth, to provide a streamlined, one-stop service agency for those citizens. This makes sense to me.  I think better outcomes, faster, for children in need is what we all want and this could be it.  From the News Tribune:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Why I Have Little Respect for Bill Gates on Education

If this statement doesn't convince you, then I give up.  From The Hill:
Bill Gates said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump’s potential to bring innovation to the U.S. resembles that of President John F. Kennedy’s. 
Gates, the billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist, told CNBC that Trump can lead the U.S. “through innovation” and compared Trump’s ideas to Kennedy’s expansion of the U.S. space program in the early 1960s. 
“But in the same way President Kennedy talked about the space mission and got the country behind that, I think whether it’s education or stopping epidemics … [or] in this energy space, there can be a very upbeat message that [Trump’s] administration [is] going to organizing things, get rid of regulatory barriers, and have American leadership through innovation,” Gates said.
There are no words for the words of Gates except that, well, it's business on parade.

Tuesday Open Thread

Finally, some good news for students with disabilities and ELL students who are taking the SAT.  Via the Washington Post:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Budget Deficit Revealed (Kinda)

I spoke at the School Board meeting on Wednesday.  One of my topics was the fact that in order to understand the raging budget deficit facing SPS, I was told to file a public disclosure request.  I pointed out to the Superintendent and Board that this was not transparency at its best and if they want support from the community, it might be useful to be open about the situation.

This information  is not some state secret and, in fact, the finance/budgeting folks probably all know the numbers by heart.  

To my surprise, I was sent this information by JoLynn Berge,Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance. Great but, once again, not specific enough (but, of course, that's by design.) 

I'll first note the obvious for every single one of us adults - when creating a budget, you start with what money you DO have and what you owe/needed spending and THEN you see what is leftover for other things.  The district seemingly operates with what they WANT to do and then moves on to paying for needs. 

This is obvious when you consider the underspending on maintenance of the facilities, both new and old.  This is obvious when the Board votes a COLA for the Superintendent (after giving him a raise the previous year) and yet schools like Northgate don't have money for copy paper.  It's obvious when some Sped students don't get to come to school on a late start weather day because of transportation (I had no idea but this is happening.)

Most of all, when the Superintendent and staff, in the face of all operational problems, puts Strategic Plan initiatives ahead of a well-operating district.  This district will NOT ever move ahead for its students (especially those who are low-income and/or of color) if this district is not well-run.

I do not believe it is well-run and I have thought this for a very long time.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Yay for Girl Scouts of Western Washington

If you have ever wondered about the difference between the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. I am very proud to have been a Brownie, Girl Scout and Cadette.

Dear Girl Scouts,

New York Times Asking Kids: What Are Your Reactions to President-Elect Trumps Cabinet Appointments?

 New York Times:
From George Washington’s presidency until today, the president of the United States has always had a cabinet, a group of close advisers who help him make decisions about how to run the country. Since winning the election, President-elect Donald J. Trump has named many of the individuals he will nominate to serve as members of his cabinet.

Have you been following the news about Mr. Trump’s cabinet selections? What’s your reaction so far?
Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Friday Open Thread

Interesting way to get kids to consider those less fortunate during the holiday season - the Christmas Cat of Iceland.

So this blog has had lively discussions over tracking in music and athletics - China takes this a step too far.  From the NY Times:

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Seattle School Board Meeting Tonight

Update 2: Sue Peters is the new School Board president.  VP is Leslie Harris and Member-at-Large is Scott Pinkham.

End of update

Update: Guess who is getting a raise?  Superintendent Nyland.

He has generously offered to only take a COLA of 1.8% of his base salary of $289,878.75.  The BAR states that no public engagement was needed and that research had been done around other superintendents' salaries.  There is no such data attached to the BAR.

This information was put up this afternoon, less than 24 hours before this BAR has intro/action.  That is completely wrong to put this up in this timeframe. Like this is an emergency or something.

I cannot believe anyone can believe – with a straight face and that kind of salary –that you will have any support from the public or parents when you come and say that big cuts must be made to schools and personnel.

To say I am aghast and disillusioned is putting it mildly.

End of update

 A couple of things to look for:

- The quick no to any contract change/raise for Superintendent Nyland.  I'm fairly sure of this outcome because there is no link to anything about this on the agenda despite it being there.
    Approval of Contract Discussions with the Superintendent - Approval of this item would approve the results of the contract discussions with the Superintendent. (to be posted prior to action) (this item is for introduction and action at the same meeting)
    That there is no link 24 hours before this item would indicate to me that no action can be taken.  They cannot just put it up there without any ability from the public to review it.  (As well, how would it look to give him a raise?)

    - As I mentioned in the Blanford post, if you watch the meeting on tv, look at his body language.  He tends to keep his back to his colleagues even as they speak.  Given what he wrote in the South Seattle Emerald with no notice to his colleagues, there may even be discussion about what he wrote.

    - The speaker list is full but with just one person on the waitlist.  The majority of input is to be about the Student Assignment Plan.  I am the first speaker after the student speaker from Garfield.  As well, former director Sharon Peaslee is on the list and may speak about Licton Springs K-8 which she fought mightily to save.

    Thank You, Nordstrom

    From Nordstrom's Facebook page for their downtown store Santa schedule:

    Updates to Garfield Report Card Conferences

    The district requested that I provide these updates for clarity.

    Tuesday, December 06, 2016

    Washington State Charter School Updates

    With the Growth Boundaries, 20-Minutes added to the school day, changes to the Student Assignment Plan, Cedar Park, etc, I have found nary the time to write about charter schools in Washington State.  But finally, here it is.

    "I Know You are a Good Boy"

    This is a singularly beautiful video on being a teacher but especially those who take on the big challenges.

    Want to Know What Makes Up Budget Deficit? Mum's the Word

    Last week, I asked district Communications a couple of questions about the projected $70M+ budget deficit for the 2017-2018 via email.  I also spoke to a member of the Communications team. When I asked, I was told that was probably a question they would get from many reporters and they would get that info.  (Makes sense, no?)

    Tuesday Open Thread

    Unfortunate news from View Ridge Elementary; a smash-and-grab windows and then theft of purses from cars in front of school right after drop-off time.  Apparently, one mom was only gone 10 minutes so that meant the thief was watching the school because that's pretty brazen for daylight hours.

    One huge story comes from Washington's Paramount Duty's Facebook page:

    Senator Michael Baumgartner (6th LD, Republican) filed a resolution today to amend Article IX (Education) of Washington State Constitution and call for a state vote on numerous amendments. 

    Monday, December 05, 2016

    Director Blanford Starts a Fight (and to what end?)

    The South Seattle Emerald newspaper has an op-ed piece from Director Blanford that is, well, pretty incendiary.  The title of the piece (I don't know if it is his or the newspaper's) is School Budget Deficit Too Heavy A Price For Our Children.  Which children Blanford is talking about becomes clear as you read the piece.

    He starts by explaining that in mid-November, the Board had been informed about the budget deficit.  He says it's the biggest one the district has ever experienced and could not be solved by McCleary. 
    The SPS’s financial staff advice to the board was clear: Using the Strategic Plan as a touchstone, the board must commit to exercise financial discipline in order to manage current and future expenses. Otherwise, projected teacher layoffs and program cuts would be catastrophic in our classrooms and schools.
    Now I stop here to interject that when the district had this so-called "underspend" last year of $11M, staff could not find enough ways to spend it.  To his credit, Director Blanford had wanted to not spend all of it.  And, staff has continually thanked the Board for allotted the bulk of that money towards Strategic Plan initiatives.

    He goes on to complain about the $1M voted in by the Board majority for transportation costs for grandfathering.

    Wait, what?

    He doesn't explain that the overwhelming majority of the deficit is due to the levy cliff?  That makes it sound like the district/Board are terrible managers of the public's money.  He doesn't help the public understand that action needs to be taken to prevent this from happening.  No, he says nothing about that.

    He goes onto describe the Board meeting where the Growth Boundaries were voted on. 
    Afterwards, we moved to the business portion of the evening, hearing from a long line of angry parents clamoring for special treatment of their children’s schools with revisions to the Growth Boundaries Plan. Various members of the board, acceding to their demands, then put forward 12 separate amendments to the staff-generated plan. Not one of these amendments addressed conditions at any of our South End schools or clearly articulated the financial costs of implementation. And the amendments did not provide any cost savings, or even remain budget neutral. 
    I'm not sure that it's "special treatment" for parents to want their child to be able to finish school where he/she started.  And, that many of those parents clearly spoke for parents who could not attend or did not have the ability to advocate for their own child.   Anyone watching that meeting would not say it was a bunch of NIMBY parents.

    As for not addressing conditions at South End schools, I can only say that what was being discussed and voted on that night were growth boundaries for mostly the north end as that is where the majority of change would happen. 

    As for the costs, well, staff didn't put forth any amounts for how much it would cost to move 800 kids around from one school to another so how would anyone know the real costs versus savings?

    He went on to explain how big budget cuts would likely hurt students of color most of all.  I think we could all agree on that.  That newer teachers get laid off before more senior teachers.

    But then he veers off into an attack on the rest of the Board and their motivations.
    Secondly, based on recent history, I have come to believe that the school board that I serve on is not sufficiently oriented to or motivated by the need to eliminate the gap, in spite of the fact that the majority of students (53%) served by Seattle Public Schools are students of color. Obviously, not every student of color is in the gap – in fact, many students of color outperform their peers. But for those that don’t, there was very little outrage or even discussion when the board learned of our national ranking in a story that was reported back in May. I’ve frequently seen members of the board disregard advice from the staff and parents when it conflicts with the narrow interests of some of their constituents. 
    Betty Patu, who has served far longer than anyone on the Board, doesn't know or isn't motivated to eliminate the gap for students of color.  And Scott Pinkham, who is a Native American SPS parent, isn't motivated to close that gap?  Not to mention all the rest of the directors who have stood up for students of color including voting for the Strategic Plan and its focus.

    I would have to think that his assertion that the rest of the Board doesn't seem to care about children of color might just violate the standards that the Board has set up for themselves about how they interact with each other.

    Why the lack of clear information to the public about the reasons for the deficit?  Why no call on trying to get the Governor or the Legislature to extend the levy for another year when that would be the one real solution, not cuts?

    My spidey radar tells me there is more here than meets the eye so my real question would be, how does this help the budget situation, Director Blanford? 

    Seattle Schools This Week

    The district's info on buses and inclement weather for what may be an up-and-down weather week.

    Also, two items of note to put on your calendar.

    One, a community meeting on Cedar Park and its designation as an Option School.   This is on Thursday, December 15th at Cedar Park Elementary from 6:30-8:30 pm.

    The other is an Option School Fair that the district will be holding on Saturday, January 28, 2017 at Cleveland STEM High School from 10 am-2pm. 

    Monday, December 5th

    Student Assignment Plan meeting from 6:30-7:30 at JSCEE.  

    At UW, Education and Society Film Series: Starving the Beast.  Sponsored by University of Washington College of Education Master in Education Policy program
    Kane Hall 120 from 7-9 pm.
    Some of the most pressing issues facing America's educational systems will be discussed during the "Education and Society" documentary film series. Watch "Starving the Beast" and join a conversation about the funding of public higher education. 
    Examine the ongoing power struggle on college campuses across the nation as political and market-oriented forces push to disrupt and reform America’s public universities. The film documents a philosophical shift that seeks to reframe public higher education as a value proposition to be borne by the beneficiary of a college degree rather than as a public good for society.
    The event is free and open to the public.

    Tuesday, December 6th
     There is notice of a possible School Board quorum as the Board has been invited to a luncheon with Superintendent-elect Chris Reykdal.  

    Wednesday, December 7th
    School Board meeting at JSCEE, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda

    - the Board is slated to approve grant funds from the Seattle Foundation/Vulcan Foundation of $465,000 for two projects.  One is the Creative Advantage/CTE Media Arts Skills Center program and the other is the Creative Advantage Regional Arts Showcase.
    - election of new officers for the Board.  I'm thinking that it's likely the Board will continue on with Director Patu as President.  I believe she's likely to leave the Board when her term expires in Dec 2017 (but I have no inside knowledge of that.)
    - one-page narrative of Superintendent Nyland's second year of work for SPS
    - introduction of the Student Assignment Plan that already has one amendment.  This comes from Director Peters and is to grandfather all rising 8th graders with transportation affected by the opening of Robert Eagle Staff Middle School and the reopening of Meany Middle School.

    Thursday, December 8th
    Audit&Finance Committee Work Session, JSCEE Board conference room from 4:30-7:00 pm.  No agenda yet available.

    Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Family and Community Planning meeting from 6-7:30 pm at Loyal Heights Elementary at the John Marshall building.

    From Washington STEM and the League of Women Voters:

    Have you ever wondered about the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) programs in our schools.  What does it mean to be a STEM program? How are they implemented?

     Join the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County, 1620 18th Ave, Suite 101, from 11am to 1pm.

    Friday, December 9th
    BEX Oversight Committee Meeting, from 8:30-10:30 am, JSCEE, Room 2750, no agenda yet available.

    Saturday, December 10th
    Community meeting with Director Peters at Magnolia Library from 11 am-1pm.

    Contact the Governor NOW

    I'm going to offer the simplest advice I can on the levy cliff. There is NO reason it has to happen. 
    I urge everyone to call 360-902-4111 or,
    email https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/ or 
    tweet @GovInslee 
    and tell him to put pressure on the Legislature to have a one-day special session to extend the levy deadline from 2017 to 2018.

    Remind him that until the Legislature completes McCleary work, districts should not suffer even more from a lack of fully funded schools.

    Yes, contact your own legislator as well but I'm hoping that if the Governor feels the full force of citizens begging for this, he can make it clear that whatever the Legislature wants to get done when they do convene their regular session, nothing will get his signature.

    Saturday, December 03, 2016

    2017-2018 Student Assignment Plan

    Or, as more commonly referred to, the SAP.

    The district created a new Student Assignment Plan in 2009 that was approved by the Board.  It was a big change, primarily because the district went from a choice plan to a neighborhood plan.  I know that many of you don't like this form of SAP but, at the time, many parents were clamoring for a neighborhood plan because of the assurance of knowing what school their child would be assigned to.  The interesting thing I wonder about is that under the choice plan, 90% of people received their first choice.  That's a pretty good percentage but was that their desired choice or just the best choice they felt they could make in terms of knowing where their child would be?  I haven't heard any numbers on the choice within the neighborhood plan.

    Then, with the explosive growth in the district, the plan had to be tweeted and so there was a Transition Plan.  What is confusing to me is that the district is still in a growth mode plus opening new schools even after school year 2017-2018.  Why they would not continue having a Transition Plan until all those new schools are open is a mystery.

    Legislature Needs to Act Fast

    Email your legislators right now by clicking here and ask them to fully fund public schools so they don’t lay off teachers this spring.

    Dear friend,

    Please email your legislators right now and ask them to fully fund public schools so they don’t lay off teachers this spring.

    Across the state, already-underfunded school districts are being told to prepare for a new round of budget cuts. You may have received letters or emails warning about the possibility of teacher layoffs or program closures.

    Let's be clear: this is unacceptable. And it's unconstitutional.

    Friday, December 02, 2016

    Friday Open Thread

    The big news is that the City of Seattle announced three new homeless encampments to be established in early 2017 and one of them is right by the Wilson-Pacific complex that will be home to Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, Licton Springs K-8 and Cascadia Elementary.  The location is 8620 Nesbit Avenue North and it will have up to 50 tiny homes, serving 60-70 people (Nesbit is one block east of Aurora.) The other new encampments are down in Georgetown and White Center.  (The one in White Center will also be near an elementary school but with enough distance that it's not the issue that Wilson-Pacific campus is.)

    I think we can all agree that the homeless crisis in Seattle is a major issue.  But I am shocked the City would choose a location in an area that is already problematic AND has so many school children nearby. As I previously reported, RESMS planning principal Marni Campbell announced at a community meeting this week that the City is giving the district $1M grant to improve safety in that area. Well, this would appear to be one reason why that happened. 

    The district tweeted out a story from Mind/Shift from KQED about West Seattle High School and a program to reach students who may learn in different ways.
    “How do we make the system fit the child instead of trying to make the kid fit the system?” she asked. Teachers at her school are exploring this question in a variety of ways, including through a pilot advisory-type program that began with a cohort of 25 tenth graders.
    As I tweeted back to the district, this is great but how come they didn't announce this themselves?

    Hey DFER (Democrats for Education Reform) WA is looking for a new director.    Just to note, DFER has endorsed the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Education secretary in the Trump administration while simultaneously criticizing Trump.  It does not mention DeVos love of vouchers but supports her love of charter schools.    From Diane Ravitch:
    The reformers are in a pickle. They can’t claim fealty to Trump, because they pretend to be Democrats. But Trump has embraced the reformer agenda, lock, stock and barrel. This statement is one way of handling their dilemma: embrace DeVos–a figure who finances the far-right and wants completely unregulated, unaccountable choice, and simultaneously chide Trump for his hateful rhetoric. Pretend to be Democrats while saluting her.
    Not so coincidentally, DeVos gave money to DFER. From ed blogger, Mercedes Schneider:
    Well, because DFER already has a relationship with both a DeVos’ nonprofit as well as a DeVos-chaired nonprofit– a financial relationship.
    There is a meeting tomorrow about Robert Eagle Staff Middle School at Northgate Elementary from 11 am to 12:30 pm.  

    Need to do some holiday shoppingThe Stranger has a great list of fairs/shops to buy locally made gifts.

    There are no director community meetings tomorrow as the Board has a retreat at JSCEE from 10 am-3 pm.  The agenda reflects discussion around the following:

    - the 2017-2018bbudget (recap of discussion and/or decisions - if any- to date), compilation of recommendations from stakeholders and staff, discussion of additional/new information, recommendations and consensus for pessimistic and optimistic budget scenarios
    - eliminating opportunity gaps
    - discussion of work of Community Engagement Task Force
    - assignment of Board Committee assignment preferences (the Board will be voting in new officers soon)

    Based on the worrisome budget next year, I think I may be buying this holiday gift for the Board and Superintendent.

    What's on your mind?

    Thursday, December 01, 2016

    Understanding the Dire State of SPS' 2017-2018 Budget

    Update 3: partial from letter sent to families that has new information:

    Next Steps

    Between Dec. 5, 2016 and Jan. 4, 2017 we will continue to solicit feedback on budget priorities from staff, families, and community partners. I would like to thank the Seattle Council PTSA for hosting three regional meetings for families to provide feedback on budget priorities. 

    Community Budget Gap Meetings
    Tues., Dec. 13, 6:30 - 8 p.m. Ballard High School
    1418 NW 65th St.

    Thurs., Dec. 15, 6:30 - 8 p.m. South Shore PreK-8 School
    4800 S Henderson St.

    Tues., Jan. 3, 6:30 - 8 p.m. Franklin High School
    3013 S Mt Baker Blvd.

    Interpretation will be available. To request interpretation please contact publicaffairs@seattleshools.org with your requested needs. 

    Additional details regarding the budget deficit, budget development timeline, and actions you can take will be posted to the 2017-18 budget webpage by tomorrow, Dec. 2. 

    If you have specific questions or concerns about the budget shortfall please email the Budget Office at budget@seattleschools.org.

    end of update

    Update 2: at the end of this thread is the district's press release about this issue.  It has no new information.

    end of update

    Update 1: the Times now has a story on this issue and the district is talking about lay-offs.  A message went out to teachers on Wednesday from Superintendent Nyland. 
    ....Nyland said the problem is based primarily on a $23M increase in labor costs and the fact that the district could lose about $31M under the so-called "levy cliff.

    The budget gap is the largest the district has faced since the 1970s, Nyland wrote in his message.
    Information is to be sent to families today, according to the Times.  As well, from the Superintendent's letter to teachers:
    Additional details regarding budget development and actions you can take will be posted to the 2017-18 budget webpage by the end of the week.
    But here's what legislative wonk (and all-around smart guy) Robert Cruickshank says in the comments to my story:
    It is important to keep in mind this is a fake budget gap. SPS does not have to cut a dime. The legislature cannot push districts over the levy cliff - doing so would be unconstitutional and the state Supreme Court would reject it. The legislature also promised in the 2016 budget to either provide new money to replace the lost levy authority OR extend levy authority for another year. That's a promise and not a law but it suggests that SPS will not actually have to cut anything.

    So what should SPS do? Nothing.

    SPS staff should NOT be planning for cuts. They should NOT be asking parents to fight amongst each other to decide which programs and teachers stay or go. They should NOT be preparing layoff notices.

    Why? Doesn't SPS have to plan in case they lose state money?

    No, because again, it's not actually possible for the district to lose that money. Whether through legislative action or court action, SPS will get the money they need.

    We must insist that SPS - staff and board - refuse to undertake a divisive, unnecessary, and unconstitutional exercise of planning for a budget cut that is legally and juridically impossible to actually happen.
    end of update

    Here's some information on what the levy cliff is and what you can do to try to head it off before our district falls off that cliff.

    I do note that I'm not sure how much of the $71-74M deficit projected by staff is due to the levy cliff.  All? Part? If so, how much?  I'll have to ask.

    From John Freeman at the Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page (editor's note - I rearranged some of the information):

    Robert Eagle Staff Community Meetings

    I attended the community meeting for Robert Eagle Staff  Middle School on Tuesday night.  There were maybe 5 parents there including one father with his daughter.  Marni Campbell gave the presentation with Executive Director, Jon Halfaker, in attendance.  There were no handouts.

    She led with the phrase "dream ambitiously."  She also referenced the heritage of the Wilson Pacific site that SPS wants to honor. 

    Wednesday, November 30, 2016

    Garfield's Report Card Conferences

    I actually don't really want to write about this subject because it's pretty tiresome. I've done some research and frankly, I'm appalled at one big issue.

    According to the GHS website:

    Tuesday, November 29, 2016

    Tuesday Open Thread

    OSPI had (seemingly) been rushing to submit its plan to the US Department of Education for the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which is the NCLB replacement.  They announced yesterday that they are allowing 60 more days for public comment.  From Superintendent Dorn:
    After consultation with Superintendent-elect Chris Reykdal, Deputy Superintendent Gil Mendoza, Gov. Jay Inslee and various stakeholder groups, I am delaying the submission of the Every Student Succeeds Act Consolidated Plan to the U.S. Department of Education.
    Here's a link to OSPI's ESSA page including a summary document in seven languages and a link so you can make your comment.  OSPI did have a listening tour but that happened last week.

    In something of an oddity, there is this call for volunteers at Garfield to go over report cards with students.  I'll have to ask the district about this because it would seem to me there are privacy issues here especially if parents don't know that their child is sharing their report card info without the parent's knowledge. 

    Monday, November 28, 2016

    Nathan Hale's Basketball Team Looks Super

    The Times had an article yesterday about the new head boys basketball coach at Hale and what looks to be a very competitive team - as in competitive at both the state and national level.  Hale is now ranked as 22nd in the nation.  Two of Hale's games this year will be televised nationally.  Sixty students tried out and 14 made the team.

    I had reported earlier this year that former NBA All-Star Brandon Roy was taking the head coaching job at Hale.  He receives $6,000 a year for his work, just like all the other SPS coaches.  Roy had wanted to coach at UW but chose to coach at Hale.

    Coach Roy appears to have made his presence at Hale known to top high school boys basketball prospects and got one of the most highly-sought after high school players in the country, Michael Porter, Jr., from Missouri.  Porter's brother, Jontay, is also playing on the team.

    Sunday, November 27, 2016

    Seattle Schools, Week of Nov. 28-Dec 3, 2016

    Monday, November 28th
    Student Assignment Plan Community Meeting
    Franklin High School from 6:30-7:30 pm

    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Friday Open Thread

    The natural explanation for the lateness of this thread is, of course, discombobulation from too much turkey.

    Spokane School District suspends more kindergarteners and first graders than high school students.  From the Spokesman-Review:

    Seattle Schools Posts Info On 20-Minute Added School Day

    This story was put out sometime on Wednesday. (partial)
    To improve K-12 students’ academic access and achievement, the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) agreed to add 20 minutes of core instructional time to the school day starting in the 2017-18 school year. This action also brings our instructional hours into alignment with other districts in the region.

    In addition, SEA and SPS agreed to add teacher collaboration time into the work day to support common planning time and improved student outcomes.
    Your input and feedback is valued.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    Just When You Learn Rhee Won't be Secretary of Ed, Trump Goes One Worse

    Trump has selected Betsy DeVos of Michigan as his pick for the next Secretary of Education.  Who is she?  Well, for one, not an educator. 

    Updates on Growth Boundaries

    Over at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page there was some unhappiness over what info is available at the SPS website around the Growth Boundaries.   Apparently some parents received an email about them but it had no link to the webpage (which means you would have had to search for it yourself.)  And here is the link.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2016

    Tuesday Open Thread

    From Soup for Teachers:
    The Center School's Model United Nations team just won the prize for Best Large Delegation and nine Center School students won awards. There were 720 students at the conference from schools all over the Northwest, including lots of private schools, a number of which have MUN as a daily class. At Center, MUN is a student run group (with an amazing advisor teacher, Mr Bell) and is currently funded by parents.
    I'm putting up this notice from SPS but I would tell you not to bother.  The district is seeking members for the SPS Nutrition Services Policies Task Force.  I say don't bother because the district has ignored a very good report (that they paid for) put out earlier this year on the state of Nutrition Services in SPS and what could be done to make it better and continue successes in it.  Why have a taskforce when that work is already done?  As well, neither the Board nor the district ever act on taskforce recommendations so again, why bother?

    Monday, November 21, 2016

    Calling It For Reykdal

    I'm calling it for Chris Reykdal for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The vote count is under 28,000 votes and Erin Jones has never closed that gap since election day.

    The vote margin will end up being less than 1% and a difference of about 28,000 votes.

    I think both candidates had good campaigns.

    This And That

    The president-elect is now considering Michelle Rhee for Secretary of Education.  (I find it interesting his actually going to keep it open because hard-core conservatives want it gone but then again, public education was of little interest on the campaign trail.)  Ed reformers love this because Rhee is all things ed reform (TFA, charters, etc.) 

    But still I smile.  Conservatives had plenty to say about Hillary's baggage from her husband.  Well, Rhee has even worse baggage with her husband, Sacramento mayor, Kevin Johnson.

    One of the most moving first-person narratives I have ever read, Academia, Love Me Back, by grad student, Tiffany Martinez.

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Seattle Schools, Week of November 21-23, 2016

    Despite it being a holiday week, there are SPS meetings happening.

    Why Can't Seattle Schools Be Clear on Principals and Their Purview?

    Principals.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - if your principal is less-than-effective, your school will suffer.  Nothing can pit staff and parents against each other more than a principal who cannot lead.

    As I previously reported, I attended the HCC Committee meeting earlier this month where a parent asked about what is the line between what the district mandates/oversees about schools and what principals have leeway/control of. 

    Just like how a principal gets chosen - from school to school - has never been revealed, this is one of the great unanswered questions in our district.  And schools suffer from this kind of deliberate vagueness from the Superintendent and senior staff.

    Let's chart some of the examples:

    Friday, November 18, 2016

    Friday Open Thread

    Community meeting with Director Pinkham tomorrow from 3:45 to 5:15 pm at the Northgate library.  To note, Director Pinkham said he was coming from a South Seattle event and may be late but "hang in there."  Director Harris was not able to find a library with space and said she may join him.

    Seattle Times Education Event

    On November 30 the Seattle Times will host a panel discussion about K-12 Education called:

    Here's the stated premise:

    Washington’s K-12 public education system is broken. Only 77% of our students graduate. Only 39% of graduates are ready for college or a career. The state fully funding basic education is just the beginning. We need to fix the outcomes for all students, preparing them for graduation, college and the workforce.
    What are acceptable outcomes for Washington’s children? What steps must be taken to build a successful K-12 system where every child receives an equitable, quality basic education? Join The Seattle Times LiveWire for a timely forum with education experts, advocates and policy makers, facilitated by Seattle Times Editorial Page Editor Kate Riley and former Executive Editor Michael Fancher.

    The members of the panel are:

    Thursday, November 17, 2016

    Seattle School Board Meeting; 2016 Growth Boundaries

    I'll do the School Board meeting in two parts because even though the Growth Boundary amendments were the big show, many other interesting things were said at the meeting.

    But to the Growth Boundaries.  HUGE thank you to Kellie LaRue who sat thru the whole thing (something like 6+ hours; I wimped out at 4 hours) and reported back on the votes.

    Puget Sound Districts Promote Multilingualism in Schools

    From SPS Communications:

    Seattle, Highline and Kent School Districts Honor 
                                                the Multilingualism of Public School Students

    Seattle, WA – Seattle Public Schools is proud to release its "Speak English AND Your Home Language" video honoring the multilingualism of students in Seattle and neighboring districts. The video, available with subtitles in eight languages plus English, was made in collaboration with Highline Public Schools, the Kent School District and OneAmerica.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2016

    Washington State Superintendent Looks to Be Chris Reykdal

    Checking the latest numbers from the Secretary of State's website, it looks like Chris Reykdal will narrowly take the state superintendent position by about 30,000 votes (.22%.)

    There are about 170,000 ballots left to count throughout the state with King county having the largest number at about 64,000.  Looking at the vote counts from the counties with major outstanding numbers of ballots AND who has consistently been carrying what county, it look like Jones will not catch up.

    A recount happens if the vote count is less than 2,000 votes apart.   That does not appear to be the case here.

    Updates on Tonight's Board Meeting

    Update:  there is finally a staff document about the amendments.  It is terse and I don't have a link but here are their main points on the amendments. There are not comments for all amendments.

    Student Assignment Plan Changes Coming

    The Board will be having the Operations Committee meeting on Thursday, the 17th, from 4-7:15 pm.  Why such a lengthy committee meeting?  For one, it's a packed agenda but there are a couple of high profile issues that could take some time.

    They are:
    -Approval of the Student Assignment Plan for 2017-18 (F. Herndon)

    - Transportation service standards and contract (P. McEvoy)

    As well, there will be a COW (Committee of the Whole) session for Special Education Placement Update.  That they want the entire Board at this meeting must mean something.  (Frankly, it would be great if the entire Board was there to hear about the other two big issues as well.)

    I have not read thru the SAP info but reader Lynn has:

    Supportive Words for Middle School Students

    From Soup for Teachers:

    Yesterday, the PTSA at Eckstein Middle School wrote 1,200 encouraging notes and put them on every single locker, classroom doors, and mailboxes. Some of the kids pinned them to their shirts or put them on their binders or phones. We need more of this! Thank you PTSA!


    Tuesday, November 15, 2016

    The Times Leads Its Readers on How to Think about Public Education

    The Seattle Times is the major newspaper of record in our city and it really does fall to them to give the fullest picture in their reporting and then, if they must, lead their readers to a conclusion about that story (or write an editorial.)

    The Times did both things recently.

    Tuesday Open Thread

    That was a big turnout for students who walked out of class to protest the presidential elections results.  One student told me, "We're the new generation and we'll decide next time who will be president."  I told him that was great but 100 million people didn't bother to vote so how will he get young people to vote?  He said he thought the next four years would motivate them.  So we shall see.

    Who's on the short list for Secretary of Education under Trump? From the NY Times:

    Monday, November 14, 2016

    Student Walk-Out is On

    Update: KIRO is reporting that the district says about 5,000 students walked out.  As well, apparently other districts - Highline, Lake Washington are two - had student walkouts as well.

    End of update

    I received a press release this morning about the high school student walk-out.

    Sunday, November 13, 2016

    District Data Dashboard 2015-2016

    Here's what was presented at the Work Session for the annual Operations Data Dashboard.  PowerPoint.

    The current Data Dashboard cycle is from 2013-2018.  It has 31 measures in five categories - academic milestones, commitment to equity, effective teachers, positive school environments and stakeholder engagement and satisfaction. 

    On-track to meet 2017-2018 target; 13 of 24 measures.  

    Made improvement (or) On-Track: 17 of 24 measures.

    Seattle Schools This Week, November 14-19, 2016

    Monday, November 14th
    Public comment continues for K-5 ELA materials

    Curriculum & Instruction Policy committee meeting
    4:30-6:30 pm at JSCEE.  Agenda

    Friday, November 11, 2016

    Friday Open Thread

    From a classroom in Chicago
    Want to support those who feel fear over the election of Trump?  Here's a thought; a safety pin, via Vox.
    If you missed my updates on the Growth Boundaries (from this week's Work Session), you might want to check them out.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2016

    West Seattle High Students Walk Out in Protest of Trump's Election

    From the West Seattle blog:
    10:23 AM: About 200 students from West Seattle High School have walked out of their classes and are headed south on California SW toward The Junction.  

    10:50 AM: The group has reached The Junction. A TV helicopter has picked up on this so if you are hearing/seeing a helicopter, that is what is going on. 

    11:15 AM; The group rallied at the Jefferson Square corner plaza (photos above and below) and then headed back to WSHS, where we’re told they’ll be talking with principal Ruth Medsker.
    What participants were telling us is, what happened last night does not represent the future that they want, the America that they believe they belong to and belong in, and they will work to embody the values they want to see represented.  

    New Info on Work Sessions and Growth Boundaries

    Update #2 
    I attended the Work Session yesterday.  (I'll do a review of the Data Dashboard portion separately.)

    I just want to note that Director Blanford seems increasingly absent at meetings and there is no explanation given.

    For staff, there was Ashley Davies, head of Enrollment, and Flip Herndon, head of Facilities.  They stated that they wanted the Board to have as much knowledge as possible around the submitted amendments and their impacts.

    There was one hour allotted for this work for 10 amendments, with three of them being brand-new.   However, was this time really used wisely, trying to sort thru what could be agreed on (and therefore set aside for discussion)? Nope, more than 30 minutes was spent on 5A/5B and 6A/6B about Cedar Park.  I hasten to say these are very important amendments but only those amendments and #8-10 were discussed.

    Not so helpful if you are trying to track possible changes and how the Board will vote.

    As for 5A/5B and 6A/6B, directors Pinkham, Geary and Burke, as sponsors, had most of the discussion (which was what staff said should happen.)

    Burke said if they are opening Cedar Park, they need to do right by it.  He also said there has been community outreach by Olympic Hills and 94 families said they would prefer an Option school and no one voted to delay the decision.

    Geary said that the children at Olympic Hills and John Rogers are already in very good communities and she is not happy to rip them apart.  She said we can't "make children flow like water."

    Herdon raised a good question about those who said they wanted an Option school; was there a question of would these families go to the school (meaning, how many would leave Oly Hills or Rogers for this new Option school?)  Burke said he didn't know.  Geary pointed out it was similar to Hazel Wolf K-8 which did open with a waitlist.  She said it was a matter of equity for that region to have an Option school.

    Davies said the timeline was short with enrollment starting in January.  Director Harris made the analogy to the opening of Boren STEM but that got done and the school is thriving.

    Staff talked about how, in other cases where communities were to be split, the district had rented a bus and took families to the new building where it could be toured.

    Pinkham said it is important for all families to feel welcome but change can be hard on children especially those whose families face challenges.  He said that creating an Option school is a "comfort zone" for change.

    Geary, seeming feisty, said that the principals at Laurelhurst, Bryant and Sandpoint worked out how to support their communities when Sandpoint opened.  She said it is "on us" to create these schools and that is the district's challenge, not the families'.

    Staff said principals are engaged "behind the scenes" and that they may be speaking on behalf of families who aren't here.

    Again Geary pushed back, saying there has been engagement at Cedar Park with many of the minority families speaking out.

    There was some discussion of how to pull amendments off the agenda but it seems like at least two - either 5A/5B or 6A/6B - will get withdrawn.

    Geary asked about portables and the class size reduction issue and "meeting the letter of the law."

    Director Harris asked about seeing what the F/RL and racial data would be on these changes around Cedar Park.  Staff said they didn't have all of it.  Harris said she would not be comfortable voting without knowing that.

    Amendments 8,9,10
    These are around grandfathering for 4/5th graders and 8th graders at middle schools and were submitted by Peters.

    She walked thru the possible outcomes for nearly every middle school.

    Meany might not have as many 8th graders but that would only be for one year.
    Eagle Staff might have the same issue but that might be good for the first year of their opening.
    Hamilton/Washington would probably not get much relief from their overcrowding.
    Whitman would see these 8th graders finish at the school they started at and have a more "staggered" drain of kids once the new boundaries come into play.
    McClure, she said she thought would be okay and did not mention the other schools.

    As for Amendment #10, she said it would not be a geo-split but provide an "optional" path similar to what is done at Ingraham for IBX.

    Herndon expressed concern over keeping at double-portable at Hamilton one more year (as it was only allowed for a year) and he would have to go to the Landmarks Commission.

    Davies asked Peters who would grandfather for 8th grade, just HCC cohort or all students?  Peters said all students.

    There was some discussion around the Decatur building but I could not easily follow it because it almost seemed like they were talking about Decatur and  Thornton Creek as the same thing.

    Harris said the Board had received a note from former Board member Sharon Peaslee who reminded them of the path for Pinehurst to Licton Springs for the Native American community.  Patu said she had worked on this and wanted to make sure what was promised is what is being given.  Herndon said they were following thru but wasn't sure how many classrooms.

    I was dismayed that not all the amendments were discussed, even briefly.  I cannot tell you how the amendments that were not discussed will go.

    I do believe that the majority of the Board wants Cedar Park to be an Option school and will likely vote that way.  I also think that unless staff comes up with a really good reason, the Board will also do some grandfathering.  Question is, where and how much?

    end of update

    Work Session agenda for Wednesday's meeting.

    - the Data Dashboard section of the Work Session has a huge amount of data including academic outcomes, graduation rates, climate surveys.  It's a lot to read and suss out but it's there.

    - the Growth Boundaries info starts on page 73 and includes these three new amendments, all from Director Peters:

    o Amendment 8 - Approval of this motion would allow for the grandfathering at the elementary school level of all rising 4th and 5th grade students who live within any areas that are changing from one elementary school to another for the 2017-18 school year and do not already have a provision providing grandfathering for rising 4th and 5th graders students within such area. (Director Peters)
    o Amendment 9 - Approval of this motion would allow for the grandfathering at the middle school level of all rising 8th grade students who live within any areas that are changing from one middle school to another for the 2017-18 school year and do not already have a provision providing grandfathering for rising 8th graders within such area. (Director Peters)
    o Amendment 10 - Approval of this motion would, in the event that a second elementary pathway for north-end Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) students is deemed necessary for reasons of capacity in the 2017-18 Student Assignment Plan (SAP), designate in the SAP this second site as an alternative, optional pathway for HCC students assigned to Cascadia Elementary, instead of requiring a forced geographic split. (Director Peters)

    Audit and Finance Committee agenda for Thursday's meeting

    What to Tell The Kids about the Election

    From my dear friend, Maria Trujillo:

    If my kids didn't know this already, today I'd say: don't give your power to fear. 

    You (as is everyone else) were meant to thrive. Always. Focus on where you want to go and who you want to be and opportunities to get you there will show up. 

    You can decide the direction of your thoughts and words and therefore how you feel. 

    View the world with love in your heart. 

    Be the better person. 

    Don't let external situations get in the way. 

    You have an incredible wealth of inner power and knowledge to guide you. Appreciate it, cultivate it, honor it. 

    You won't be lost. And neither will our country.

    Election Results/ Thought Regarding Education

    Update: State Superintendent candidate Chris Reykdal has very slightly widened his lead from 51% to 51.11% over Erin Jones who had 49% and now has 48.89%

    End of update

    Well, that was unpleasant.

    Good article from the NY Times:

    “Tonight data died,’’ he added.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2016

    Education Updates/Impacts from OSPI and City of Seattle

    From OSPI:

    Tuesday Open Thread

    Interesting article about the use of "open educational resources" by schools via EducationNext. 
    As I keep hearing people say, "Why expensive textbooks?" this might be a red flag on that issue.

    A thoughtful article on life from a man who has seen 12,000 deaths via Uplift .

    Monday, November 07, 2016

    Seattle Schools News

    The district is seeking parents, staff and community members to be part of the K-5 Gender Identity Materials Task Force.  (I have a call in to ask how many members there will be on the task force.)
    This year-long Task Force will be vetting materials and helping create literacy-based lessons with gender-focused books appropriate for K-5 classrooms. Specifically, the focus will be on gender expression and gender identity. Task Force members will be selected to represent diverse perspectives.  

    If you are interested in applying to be a part of the Task Force, please complete our online application process before November 14, 2016.
    Also, from the Soup for Teachers Facebook page, a link the Transgendered Language Primer.

    Sunday, November 06, 2016

    Seattle Schools HCC Committee Meeting

    An op-ed from a Seattle Schools parent in the Yakima Herald Seattle Times on testing all students for advanced programs.  (For some reason only the link to the Yakima Herald works; I can't find a working one at the Times.)She's also a teacher (in Shoreline) but taught at Hamilton.  She gets things wrong and she should know better:
    What’s equitable about a school district that provides special services for the elite, white, privileged, top 2-3 percent of the children and families it serves?
    Really? What special curriculum or training or support did your students and you get from being in HCC?
    What message does this send to students in the district?  That white students are the current and future members of the intelligentsia, while black and brown students are not.
    No, it sends the message that the district needs to reach out in new and better ways to find students of color who would benefit from the program.
    More than thirty years later in Seattle, the opt-in system continues to leads to a serious stratification of students and their opportunities for advanced learning.  Until this is addressed, I can’t believe that the district has any real intentions of working to achieve equitable education across socio-economic and racial divides.
    What? HCC is not that big and that the entirety of "equitable education" changes in SPS rests on it?

    Her suggestion of testing all kids (except those who opt out) is fine but I'm troubled by how long she takes to get there.

    I now truly believe more is going on here than one program.  This is way too much noise over it.

    Also, here is a link to the Advanced Learning budget that the district provided to me.  Anyone have any questions on it?

    end of update

    I attended the HCC Committee meeting last week at Thurgood Marshall.

    Seattle Schools This Week

    Monday, November 7th
    State of the District event at Franklin High School from 5-7 pm.

    This is always a fascinating event to attend because of the players that show up and the happy face whoever is superintendent generally puts on.  And I think there are things to celebrate for sure but I'd be willing to bet if you did a truly independent parent survey, the results would show a very high level of frustration and dissatisfaction with how the district is run.

    Saturday, November 05, 2016

    Jump Back One Hour on Sunday

    Funny Tweet reminder about setting back your clock one hour tomorrow, courtesy of Tacoma Public Schools:

    Students (and parents) get an extra hour of sleep this weekend! School starts the same time Monday. ;-)

    This and That

    Terribly disturbing news this week that middle-schoolers are now as likely to die from suicide as car crashes.  From the NY Times:

    Friday, November 04, 2016

    Friday Open Thread

    No Saturday community meetings with directors this week.

    The district is starting a partnership with Seattle Public Library called Library Link
    This program will automatically provide a library account to students at three middle schools; Aki Kurose, Mercer and Denny.  "The Library Link pilot program is a good example because access to digital resources isn't necessarily equal for all students in the district. By partnering with the Seattle Public Library, we're hoping to have a solution for that."
    Interesting article from the Columbia Basin Herald about a high school that is trying to do more "outside school days."  
    “All the questions they had will serve as a springboard in the classroom, and that’s the difference between this experience and your typical school field trip,” Dermond said. “Usually, field trips aim to reinforce what has already been dispensed in the classroom. We wanted our field trip to create questions that we can answer in the classroom.”

    “If you looked at their discipline records, you’d probably think to identify them as ‘problem students,’” Dermond said. “But if you observed them in this setting, you’d have correctly identified them as leaders.”
    A blast from the past I stumbled upon; a story from Marysville in 2007 where then-superintendent Larry Nyland was grappling with boundary issues.  Another fun fact I didn't know; he and new SPS chief of curriculum, assessment and instruction, Kyle Kinoshita, worked together in Maryville School District.

    A great story about a twice-gifted high school student in Kentucky, Jack Bradley. 
    "Although I do not believe our election process is rigged, I do believe that in many ways, our education system is."
    He and his family have started an organization called JackBeNimble to advocate for transforming special education by elevating student, family and educator voices, and by working with school districts to examine limiting assumptions and to encourage greater innovation.   
    The Economist has its usual meaty writing in this article about what they believe is the direction that either presidential candidate will go on various policy issues including education.  College funding is on page 7 and K-12 is on page 9.  

    Nice contest from Pacific Northwest Ballet - grand prize is two roundtrip travel vouchers on Alaska Airlines and tickets to PNB's Nutcracker.  Twenty other people will win a pair of tickets to the Nutcracker.

    What's on your mind?

    Thursday, November 03, 2016

    Blackface at Ingraham High

    From The Stranger Slog comes a story about an Ingraham teacher who wore a Michael Jordan face mask and hand gloves to school for Halloween. I honestly found this story jaw-dropping if only for how long administrators allowed this at schools. 

    What Ed Reform Wants from Our Next President

    As we are coming to a close of our long national nightmare that is the 2016 Presidential election, here's some thoughts from Peter Greene at the Curmudgucation blog tries to explain what Bellwether Education Partners, a reliably reformy right-tilted thinky tank, believes the next president should do in public education policy.

    Should Billionaire Ed Reformers Buy State Superintendent Race?

    KUOW has a story on the spending in the state superintendent race and spending for Erin Jones' campaign is ahead of Chris Reykdal.
    One of the largest independent expenditures in Washington state elections this year has come in the race for schools chief: the education reform organization Stand for Children's PAC has bought $164,887 worth of mailers for the Erin Jones campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction. The PAC spent another $12,809 yesterday on last-minute robocalls for Jones's campaign.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2016

    Live Blogging the Seattle School Board Meeting

    I am unlikely to be able to do this all night but it seems clear that no vote will be taken on growth boundaries.  I say that because both Director Patu and Director Blanford are not in attendance (she's at a conference and no reason was given for his absence.) As well, Superintendent Nyland is not there and Deputy Superintendent Steve Nielson is filling in for him.

    The Situation At Emerson Elementary

    I will be writing a separate post about some other principal issues at other schools but this churn speaks to a big problem in Seattle Schools - who's on first?

    Many of you have asked this question as have Board directors.  What is the list of things that principals can decide on for their communities and what is mandated district work that all schools have to do?  It is unclear and I firmly believe this is hurting the district and undermining the work at schools.  Parents need to know this information. 

    There is quite a swirl of stories and rumor around what is happening at Emerson Elementary.  Here are some things that are clear:

    Tuesday, November 01, 2016

    Tuesday Open Thread

    Teaching info on the issues around Standing Rock and the history of the treatment of Native Americans since our country was "discovered."  I'm going be reading up myself. 

    The Puget Sound Educational Service District announced its annual Schools of Distinction list and several Seattle Public schools were on it (some repeating.)  Those schools are:

    Polio-Like Symptoms Hallmark of Illness Striking Children

    Update: there is now a ninth child in Washington state who has been hospitalized with this condition.

    end of update

    Not sure if this story is widely known but eight Washington state children have come down with polio-like symptoms and one died yesterday in Bellingham.  Three children are from Seattle and one of those is still in the hospital.

    Monday, October 31, 2016

    Patu Asks for Postponement on Growth Boundaries Vote

    From the updated School Board agenda for Wednesday:

    Board President Patu has requested to postpone action on this item and any amendments to the November 16th Board meeting to allow for a Board Work Session on November 09th to discuss Director Amendments.

    I have to believe that most directors will go along with this action, given how complicated the work is before them.

    Seattle Schools Announces High School Community Meetings

    Update from Capital Programs:

    These meetings do not include information about specific programs nor services at any of our high schools. 

    end of update

    From SPS:
    Community Meetings to be held on
    Educational Specifications Design Standards

    Seattle Public Schools will present three community meetings on Educational Specifications Design Standards for high schools. District staff will share information and ask for public input and feedback. Architects base school designs on a predefined set of guidelines that set space requirements for elementary, middle, and high schools to create the best schools possible. With the new design process, each school has more flexibility in adapting the design to fit the needs of its learning community. 

    The meetings will take place:

    Sunday, October 30, 2016

    Does Your Vote Matter? Yes, It Does

    According to the Seattle Times, the latest Elway poll has the race for state superintendent of public instruction at a dead heat between Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal.  A lot of undecideds out there.

    I think like many of the down ballot judicial races, many people have no idea who to vote for for state superintendent.  You may have friends who don 't have kids in school and/or don't necessarily pay attention to public education issues.

    Help them out and tell them how you are voting for state superintendent.

    Again, I'm supporting Chris Reykdal.

    I believe he has the best skill set and background.  He is a steady presence and supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle as well as by top leadership at OSPI.  He has been endorsed by the Network for Public Education that was started by former deputy secretary of education and noted educator, Diane Ravitch.

    Can School Districts Use Race in Enrollment Policies?

    Yes, you can.

    The question is - why is Seattle Schools saying, in document after document - you can't?

    From the majority opinion:

    Seattle Schools This Week

    Tuesday, November 1st
    Board Work Session from 4:30-6:30 pm at JSCEE.  Agenda

    There is one topic  - Annual Evaluation of 2015-2016 Board Governance Priorities and Superintendent SMART Goals, Part 2.

    This particular topic has - no kidding - 164 pages for the Board to review.   Most of it is around Cedar Park and its enrollment.  I do not understand sticking this topic in with SMART Goals.

    Then there will be an Executive Session to "Evaluate the performance of a public employee" (likely the Superintendent as it is time for his annual evaluation.)

    I am hoping that the Board will soon take control of their own Work Sessions and not allow staff to eat up time with endless reviews and/or documentation delivered before whatever the topic at hand gets actual discussion.

    Wednesday, November 2nd 
    School Board meeting, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda

    Saturday, October 29, 2016

    Lincoln High Reopening Meeting

    Kudos to Director Burke for attempting to take on the issue of the reopening of Lincoln High School in 2019.  The estimate of how many parents packed the library was about 300 people.  Staff included Flip Herndon, Michael Tolley as well as Hale principal Jill Hudson (who is on the 24-credit committee as well as being the planning principal for Lincoln.)  She was the only staff member to speak.

    Burke outlined the goals of the meeting:

    Friday, October 28, 2016

    Tick Tock; Where's the Board Meeting Agenda with Growth Boundaries Amendments?

     Update: here's the agenda.  There are nine amendments including one to postpone (that one from Director Harris and I think she's right.)

    end of update

    I do believe that the "end of the day" means 5 pm especially since the JSCEE closes at more like
     4:30 pm.

    I suspect the amendments are what is holding up the agenda.

    I'll update when I can.

    First Indigenous Peoples' Day at Chief Sealth

    Dominique Salinas (Jicarilla Apache/Navajo) and Marcos Arellano Martinez (Mexivo, Otomi) performing a Deer Dance.

    Wonderful celebration of cultures at Chief Sealth International High School - these photos make this event look like it was a fantastic one.  All photos by Leda Costa for the West Seattle Blog.