Friday, January 29, 2016

Sure, That'll Solve ALL Our Public Ed Problems

Apparently this bill comes - in one form or another - every couple of years.

That would be HJR 4216 to bring to a vote of the people a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. (I have a call in to Reps. Sullivan and Lytton to ask why.)  OSPI had no comment except to say this has come up before.

EEU Working Out Plan with SPS

The official joint statement from EEU and SPS:
The Seattle Public Schools and the Experimental Education Unit had an extremely productive meeting about funding for the EEU kindergarten on Thursday, January 28th. With the help of the Washington Governor’s Office of the Education Ombuds and OSPI we have reached a tentative agreement about a new structure for funding the EEU kindergarten program for the 2016-17 school year and beyond. SPS will be exploring, based upon the agreement currently in development, next steps for an appropriate enrollment process for enrolling students for the EEU kindergarten. We will continue to communicate updates in the days ahead.

Friday Open Thread

Demographic Research Information Session
Enrollment Planning is pleased to host our second Demographic Research Information Session on Friday, January 29, from 12-1 pm, at the John Stanford Center in room 2700.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Public Ed News Roundup

Not from The Onion -

Court rules Michigan has no responsibility to provide quality public education

Safe Pathways to New Schools at Wilson-Pacific Survey

The story from Phinneywood Blog:

Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, Cascadia Elementary School (Advanced Placement Program) and Licton Springs K-8 will serve about 1,700 students total, including students from Greenwood and Phinney Ridge. Many students will have to cross major streets, including Aurora, 85th, I-5 and 105th/Northgate Way.

The survey is being conducted by Licton-Haller Greenways, Greenwood-Phinney Greenways and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. At the end of the survey, you can enter a drawing for raffle prizes for gift certificates from Woodlands Pizza, Fred Meyer and other local businesses.

Take the survey here

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

McCleary? Anybody? It's Crickets at the Legislature

WA GOP gut bipartisan education legislation
RELEASE: Jan. 27, 2016  (this came via Senator John McCoy but I'm not sure of its origins)

Senate Republicans gut bipartisan McCleary bill

Food for Thought - Talking About Teachers

Tacoma School District's Nate Bowling was recently selected as Washington State's Teacher of the Year.  Mr. Bowling teaches at Tacoma's Lincoln High (which is a success story unto itself.)  He teaches AP Government & Politics and AP Human Geography.  He is one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year.  That award will be announced in April. 

Budgeting and Figuring Out Priorities

There's an article in the Times this morning about IB funding, particularly at Rainier Beach High School.  It reflects a pattern in Seattle Schools that truly has to be addressed.  That pattern is for the district - with a flourish and applause - likes to roll out new and "innovative" programs that are usually wildly popular.  And fund them with seed money and then expect them to continue on (finding the funding themselves.)

I truly dislike that the district - and many school boards - like to start programs that they have no idea how to continually fund.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Denny Teens Attacked on the Way to School

From the West Seattle blog;
Two eighth-grader girls from Denny International Middle School say older boys/men “grabbed and pushed” them on Monday. That’s according to this letter just sent to Denny and Chief Sealth International High School families by Denny principal Jeff Clark (who shared it with WSB) and Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer:

MTSS - The Unfulfilled Promise

MTSS - Multi Tiered Systems of Support - is a fancy way of describing this practice:
  1. Try the standard curriculum with the kids. It will work for most of them. Check to make sure.
  2. It won't work for some, so, just for them, try something else that's more their speed. Check to see if that works.
  3. If that doesn't work then try something more. Check to see if that works.

So why is Seattle Public Schools having such a hard time implementing it?

Tuesday Open Thread

Not often, but sometimes, newspapers allow their political reporters some free reign and here's one of the best on the current legislative session from reporter Melissa Santos of the News Tribune in Tacoma.  Pretty funny.  (And I'm going to miss Kyle Stokes of KPLU who has the funniest tweets ever. That traitor is moving to Southern California.)

Also from the Tribune comes the story that their superintendent, former CAO for SPS, Carla Santorno, has been nominated for a top award, Women in School Leadership, from the American Association of School Administrators.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Threatened Childcare Sites - Think About Uniting

I know from the Soup for Teachers group that a couple of childcare groups are involved in the fight over the possible closure of up to 19 sites located at SPS sites.  But I have also heard from many concern parents especially around how late they are hearing about this issue, for both themselves and their childcare provider (the former to find childcare and the latter to relocate.) 

I also know that there has been some outreach to members of the City Council.  Naturally, parents can reach out to whoever they feel might be able to help but the lines of governance and oversight are fairly clear here.  The City has nothing to do with this issue except, of course, that they, too, want SPS space.  Not exactly neutral parties.

My suggestions are to:

1) Go to one of this week's district meetings (see Seattle Schools This Week thread) and hand Dr. Nyland a letter with your concerns. 

2) Find like-minded parents at your school and get as many signatures on any letter to Dr. Nyland or the Board as possible.

3) It's hard because no one knows for certain which schools are being targeted but reach out to other schools in your region and create a coalition to advocate.  There is strength in numbers so use it.

4) Go to the directors' community meetings and ask how you can be part of any parent advisory board. 

Anytime you write to anyone, be sure to cc Flip Herndon, Facilities, and the entire board, spsdirectors@seattleschools.org.

Youth Making Choices for Seattle

From the City of Seattle via Catherine Weatbrook who sits on the steering committee for Youth Voice, Youth Choice.

What would youth 11-25 do with $700,000 of the City's budget? 

Youth Voice, Youth Choice is a new Participatory Budgeting (PB) Initiative from the City of Seattle. PB is a democratic process where community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget that focuses on engaging people who have not historically been involved in government, budget processes, or represent underserved communities.

A new project from the City of Seattle called Youth Voice, Youth Choice, empowers youth ages 11 to 25 to share their ideas at one of six upcoming idea assemblies. From those assemblies, project delegates will be selected from the youth in attendance, and those youth all be coached into creating a high level project descriptions. City-wide, those project ideas will be voted on by the youth in our city. The top vote-getters will then be developed by the youth and various departments and other technical resources, into fully scoped and budgeted projects. Those projects will then be put forward in round two of voting! The top $700,000 of projects ranging in size from $25,000 to just over $250,000 will then be funded out of budget money already allocated for this project.

Beyond the opportunity to have youth decide on youth-focused projects in our city, this process engages youth, offers many opportunities for leadership roles, and experience developing project proposals with budgets. 
The first event is January 28th is at Meridian Center of Health, 10521 Meridian Ave N

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Seattle Schools This Week

It's an interesting week at SPS.

Monday, January 25th 
Understanding the School Budget - presented by the finance team at SPS.  It's at JSCEE from 6-8 pm.  I hope people go to this event because the district is trying to help further understanding of this important subject. 

They’ll share helpful information such as:
  • When the 2016-17 school planning dates occur
  • An overview of the budgeting process
  • How funding is determined and schools are staffed, including understanding information around class sizes and the process for parent involvement
Also, Elliott Bay Book Company is having an event about becoming an activist for any topic.  It's at 7 pm.

Now in When We Fight, We Win: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World (The New Press), longtime social activist Greg Jobin-Leeds joins forces with AgitArte—a collective of artists and organizers—to capture the stories, philosophies, tactics, and art of today’s leading social change movements. Some of the featured organizers include Patrisse Cullors-Brignac, Bill McKibben, Clayton Thomas-Muller, Karen Lewis, Favianna Rodriguez, Rea Carey, Gaby Pacheco, and other prominent changemakers—all sharing lessons of what works—and what hinders—transformative social change.

Tuesday, January 26th
Loving Our Kids for Who They Are: Parent Education Event on Gender Diversity
Queen Anne Elementary from 6:30-8:00 pm, childcare available ($5/kid)

Expert on gender diversity, Aidan Key, will lead a dynamic discussion to help parents understand gender nonconformity and transgender identification in kids. He will also address ways to discuss these topics with kids, benefits experienced by children in relation to these topics. This frank and open discussion will leave plenty of room for questions, including ones about bathroom sharing, sleepovers, faith, etc. 

Please join us for this very special event, for parents to broaden their education on these issues, learn how we can support others, and walk away with the message that is beneficial to everyone - how we can fully embrace and love our kids for who they are.

Wednesday, January 27th
Work Session at JSCEE from 4:30-8:00 (!) pm
Agenda includes:

- Status of this year's budget
- Levies
- Status of budget development for 2016-2017
- legislative update
- Governor's proposed budget
- FY 2016-2017 - Understanding class size ratios
- Central services budget development

Superintendent SMART Goal #1: MTSS - what it is, theory of action, etc.

Executive Session on evaluating the performance of a public employee: this is closed to the public and should start around 7:30 pm.

I'd love to put in a plea for the district administration to clearly and completely explain ALL the spending at JSCEE - whether they call it "central administration," "central office, " or "central services."  All those services combined - how much are they spending? 

This is an issue that truly gets the district in a lot of trouble with McCleary and the legislature because most people see a lot of money going into JSCEE and, seemingly, not as much going to schools.  This lack of true transparency in the spending hurts our district.

Thursday, Jan. 28th
BRIDGES Program information at JSCEE from 6-8 pm.
Come learn about Seattle Public Schools' special education transition programs for young adults with disabilities ages 18-21. Meet transition teachers, adult-service agency providers, and ask questions.

Beyond Measure, a documentary about ed reform from the people who made Race to Nowhere, from 6:30-9:00 pm at Garfield High School's Quincy Jones Performance Center.  Filmmaker Vicki Abeles will be in attendance and have a Q&A after the film.  Free Admission

Friday, January 29th
To note, the revised school calendar reflects that this IS a regular school day. 

Demographic Research Information Session
Enrollment Planning is pleased to host our second Demographic Research Information Session on Friday, January 29, from 12-1 pm, at the John Stanford Center in room 2700. 

Our demographer, Dr. Natasha Rivers, will discuss the recent housing study with Integrated Economics that explores the relationship between housing and enrollment. Dr. Rivers will also briefly discuss a set of topics ranging from the Seattle Let’s Move transportation levy to the challenges of addressing inequality in a growing city with economic opportunity and increased homelessness. The presentation, followed by a question and answer session, highlights how these topics currently and may potentially impact enrollment in the district. SPS staff and public are welcome to attend. Comments and questions may be emailed to nmrivers@seattleschools.org.

 Saturday, January 30th

Director Community Meetings
 With Director Burke, 10-11:30 am at Greenwood library
With Director Pinkham, 3-4:30 pm at Broadview library

To note, the blog will be powering down this weekend and into next week for personal reasons.

Compassion for Kids Being Kids

One of the best stories ever.

Cop gets called to a neighborhood because of "noisy kids" in the street.  He shows what real community policing looks like and plays basketball with the kids.  Then, he just casually asks them to be respectful of their neighborhood.  Very classy.

But he promises to come back for a rematch and he does, bringing back-up.

It's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Annual Equitable Access Report

It's January again and therefore time for another annual report on Equitable Access.

This report is required by Board Policy 2200 which delegates authority for program placement to the Superintendent, but sets the criteria for program placement and requires an annual report to allow the Board the opportunity to confirm that the Superintendent's program placement decisions are aligned with those criteria. The Superintendent submits quarterly reports throughout the year and an annual report in January. The reports are delivered in Friday Memos to the Board. Every quarterly report and every annual report is deficient in some important way. This year is no exception.

Girls on Ice

No, not ice skating but being on a glacier.  This opportunity crossed my desk.

Girls on Ice

Girls on Ice, a free wilderness education program, is accepting applications now through Jan. 29. Each year, two teams of nine teenage girls and three instructors spend 12 days exploring and learning about mountain glaciers and alpine landscapes in Alaska or Washington through scientific field studies with professional glaciologists, artists and mountaineers.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Talking about Race

A number of events /reports have crossed my path in the last couple of weeks and I thought it worth a thread.

Next Saturday, January 30th,  there will be an Education Roundtable to discuss the impacts of student discipline on communities of color.   Among the groups involed there are The Washington State Commission on African American Affairs, Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, and Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs, along with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and El Centro de la Raza.  The event will be held at El Centro's headquarters at 2524 16th Avenue S. from 1-3:30 pm. 

Friday Open Thread

Break out those crayons/colored pencils/markers this weekend and work on your Color of Money McCleary coloring sheet.  It's a great way to get the attention of legislators (see previous thread for sheet.)

Want to give input on what happens to the Roosevelt Reservoir (just down the street from Roosevelt High)?  There's a survey out about that.  Some of us in the neighborhood think best use might be a new elementary school while others think playfields would serve more people and there's even one person who wants a ice skating rink.

Yet another petition - via NEA - on high stakes testing - if that's your concern, sign it.

Good News in Seattle Public Schools

Lori Dunn, Seattle Public Schools’ Physical Education and Health Literacy Program Manager, has been honored with SHAPE America’s top award for Physical Education administrators.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Color of Money (A Coloring Sheet)

From TRAP (Teacher Retention Advocate Parents):

Is the Washington State Legislature REALLY planning to ignore the McCleary Ruling for another session? Is the House and Senate - once again - refusing to uphold their paramount duty to fully funding public education?

Here at TRAP Headquarters, the Legislature's continued defiance of the Constitution makes our blood boil. In fact, we think it's a crime. 

 Funding public education should be JOB ONE this legislative session.

Breaking News

 Update: as of 12:04 pm, the shelter-in-place at Blaine has been lifted.

end of update

SPS Communications is reporting a shelter-in-place at Blaine K-8 as SPD investigates a bank robbery nearby.

Meanwhile a judge has ruled that Tim Eyman's I-1366 that narrowly passed in November is unconstitutional.  Another huzzah (and a monkey off the backs of legislators.)

Is Your Student Taking the SAT/ACT Soon?

This Saturday, Jan. 23rd, will be the last time the old version of the SAT will be given. The newly redesigned SAT will be given for the first time in March.  That one will be the one now aligned to Common Core standards.  Test prep companies say yes - it's creating a lot of anxiety (which may help the folks that give the ACT.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Senate Passes Charter School Bill

Update: one reader asked about the costs and here's the link to the fiscal note.  Quite eye-opening and fyi, according to the note there are just about 840 students, not 1,000.  That's what happens when charters are forced to tell the truth instead of throw numbers around in ads.

The bill requires OSPI to reimburse charter schools for any loss in state funding directly resulting from the state Supreme Court decision. 
Also, Senator Ann Rivers from R-La Center had this to say about McCleary in The Columbian:
“I’m sick to death of talking about McCleary, and a lot of other people are, too,” Rivers said of the court case that resulted in an order that lawmakers must fulfill their paramount duty under the state constitution and adequately fund the state’s public schools. But tackling more specifics in the 60-day legislative session, Rivers said, “wasn’t in the cards.”
This is the same Senator Rivers who left work group Town Halls right on the ending time, despite large numbers of people who had been patiently waiting in line to give their point of view.
But the good Senator has the time to vote for this charter bill.  
Once again, priorities, kids.  

end of update

A bit of a yawn as we all knew this would happen and the only question was which charter bill.  They passed Senator Litzow's bill, SB 6194.

The House is not going to see the same outcome (or I doubt it.)  Even if they did pass one, again, I doubt Governor Inslee would sign it.

Why?  Because the darn thing is STILL not constitutional.  I don't know if charter supporters don't listen or don't have good lawyers but fixing the funding was not the entire issue.  There is still no real elected oversight.

Sure, they are trying to muscle the State Superintendent on the Charter Commission but Dorn told me he didn't think any superintendent would have time for that and he would send a substitute.  If that happens, there goes your elected oversight (at least on the Commission.)

If this bill becomes law, I'm fairly sure it will get hauled back into court and it starts all over.

I have to wonder about why the Supreme Court is getting dissed on all sides by the legislature with lawmakers seemingly ignoring the sanctions on the lack of work on McCleary AND seeing how fast legislators ran to pass a charter bill that isn't constitutional.

The rollcall:

Tonight's Speakers List for Board Meeting

Update:  the BAR on capacity management has been amended to a vote for a "preliminary approval of potential list" of 19 childcare classrooms that would be converted to "K-5" homerooms (meaning the Board is only giving tentative approval to this AND if classrooms are converted they are for K-5 uses.)  Huzzah!

As well, the Superintendent has asked for a postponement of the ORCA card program vote.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Where Did FACMAC Go? Reading the Operations Ctm Agenda

The minutes from the last Operations Committee meeting shed some light (if somewhat dimly.)

From the December 17, 2015 minutes:
Resurrecting FACMAC was discussed. Dr. Herndon explained that the FACMAC was a superintendent advisory committee working on the operational side which is different than the BEX Oversight Committee, is a professional advisory board appointed by the Board of Directors. The committee expressed concerns that the former FACMAC had been primarily run by two people and did not represent the school district equally. Dr. Herndon will be discussing the committee with the superintendent in the next few months when current workloads have lessened.
1) Which "committee" expressed these concerns - BEX Oversight or FACMAC? 

2) Who were the two people?  (I have my own thoughts but I don't really know.)

3) Finally, it would be GREAT to see FACMAC back but that "discussing in next few months after workload lessens" doesn't exactly seem to have any urgency given the capacity issues in our district.

I'll say it out loud - I think the number of smart, questioning people on FACMAC scared some staff but boy, they asked some very good questions.  Director Harris is a big supporter of this committee so I think she will take some interest in what happens.

More from the Operations Committee meeting Thursday (1/21) from 4:30-6:30 pm.   

Wilson-Pacific appears to be getting "retaining walls for elementary school future portables" for about $250K plus "infrastructure for future portables at middle school and elementary school for $225K.  Nothing like planning to be over-capacity from the get-go.

Also, on page 62, there's the:

District Releases "Updated" Calendar for 2015-2016

Just saw this at the district website but I don't have time to check what may have changed (but it was just posted today):

The following revised school calendar dates were finalized with our SEA partners,  and approved on October 7 by the SPS Board of Directors.
Please mark your home and school calendars accordingly.

School Year Calendar Changes

McCleary Already (says Dorn)

State Superintendent Randy Dorn continues to speak out against the "kick the can down the road" methodology of the Legislature to enact McCleary.

Here's his latest press release (and please e-mail your reps and tell them NO:)

On the Possible Closure of 19 Before/After Childcare Classrooms

Update: the BAR has been amended to a vote for a "preliminary approval of potential list" of 19 childcare classrooms that would be converted to "K-5" homerooms (meaning the Board is only giving tentative approval.)  Huzzah!

end of update

Tuesday Open Thread

From the great West Seattle Blog, a comprehensive wrap-up of the discussion at Director Harris' community meeting. 

I was in Olympia yesterday to work with Washington's Paramount Duty, visiting legislators.  Boy, that place was hopping.  You'll be glad to know that nearly all the legislators we visited are just flummoxed by trying to figure out how to fund McCleary.  But no one particularly wants to worry about it this session.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Thank you, Dr. King

Once again, the words of Dr. King ring true, today more than ever.  It's amazing how he seemed to forecast what looks to be happening today in public education.  

The Purpose Of Education

by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Morehouse College Student Paper, The Maroon Tiger, in 1947

Times' Story on African-American Boys and SPS

The Times has an article about the district's move to shore up learning specifically for African-American boys.  One thing I didn't realize that's right in the headline is the district is considering a whole office/department for this effort.  (I also didn't know the district was piloting a program towards this effort at Aki Kurose.) 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

More Ed Reformers (Sigh)

But this time next year, we will have a new president and if it's not a Democrat, a Republican would probably flip the table on the Department of Education.  It would be hard to know how far-reaching a Republican president would go in revamping public education but you'd notice the change.  But Republicans love charters and vouchers and, naturally, the wealthy.

So in the Who's Who of billionaires who care and non-educators who think they know it all, let's add two more names. 

Seattle Schools This Week

Here's a link to the district's Spring Bell Time Adjustment Volunteer List Survey.  
Several schools have indicated that they have been having ongoing conversations about participating in a Spring Bell Time Adjustment Volunteer List, with some having already coalesced around a preference. Other schools have asked for additional support to make this decision including an online survey. This survey is available from January 6, 2016 to January 22, 2016 for parents and staff to provide feedback on whether there is a preference for an earlier tier, or to remain in the 3rd tier.
If you are a 3rd Tier School (List the schools) Please take a few minutes to complete the following questions on your preference for your school start time.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Latest on EEU/School Board Meeting

Update: here's a bit of the discussion from the last Board meeting on EEU where Director Peters asks a very direct question to Sped head, Wyeth Jessee.

End of update

Via the Support Big K Facebook page:

I'm very sad to report the below update on EEU - 

"I'm in disbelief that we are asking people to join us again (at the next School Board meeting.)

Despite all of your incredible support at our last meeting, the powerful moving testimony, the passion, and the unanimous support of the school board- no solution has been reached.

The Executive Director and Director of Special Education stated at a Special Education PTSA meeting 'no solution will be reached by open enrollment.'

Olympia: McCleary, Charters and Updates

As I mentioned in another thread, Seattle Channel has one episode of City Inside/Out about this short legislative session with Rep. Reuven Carlyle, Rep. Gael Tarleton, Rep Eric Pettigrew and Senator Jamie Pedersen. 


On the Costs of the Legislature Continuing to Drag Its Collective Feet on McCleary

From the Arizona Republic (another state that underfunds public education):

Why didn't GE choose Arizona as its new HQ? 

Friday Open Thread

A tough week in celebrity loss - Alan Rickman, Professor Snape from the Harry Potter films, died this week.  One of the last uses of his many talents was doing a voiceover for a viral video to raise money for refugees (and all you have to do is watch the video.) 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Denny/Sealth in Shelter-in-Place

Update: 30 min. ago,

Lifted: Shelter-in-place at Denny & Sealth. deemed the rumor of violence on shared campus as non-credible.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday Open Thread

New federal dietary guidelines for men and boys and less sugar for all of us.
Despite those warnings, the guidelines were also notable for what they did not say. While draft recommendations had suggested all Americans adopt more environmentally-sustainable eating habits by cutting back on meat, that advice was dropped from the final guidelines.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Off to Olympia (with this story in my brain)

I was interviewed last Friday for a KUOW story by Ann Dornfeld on the legislative efforts to save the (former) charter schools.  It played today.  Astonishing.

Highlights from School Board and Executive Committee Meetings

School Board meeting highlights (thru Board comments).  Here's the full video:

The False Promise of Choice

One of the charms that ed reformers like to dangle before public school parents is choice.  It's quite the appealing siren call because 1) we're Americans and we love choices (even when they can overwhelm and even paralyze us) and 2) the idea that "wealthy people have choices when it comes to their children's schooling and so should you."

Number two is false on so many levels.  Wealthy people have many more choices period.  Houses, cars, vacations, clothes, colleges, you name it - wealthy people have so many more choices.  What's interesting is that the schools in our district are - almost to a school - full.  Now is that because there are more people in our city? Maybe but the private schools are full as well.  (Imagine if even half those private school parents came back.)

Here's a great essay by Chicago Schools' parent, Julie Vassilatos, The Frightening Implications of School Choice (bold hers, red highlight mine.)
Because "choice" of this kind quietly diminishes the real power of our democratic voice while it upholds the promise of individual consumer preferences above all else.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Seattle Schools This Week

It's a fairly busy week in the district.

Monday, Jan. 11th
Curriculum&Instruction meeting, 4:30-6:30 pm, JSCEE.  Agenda

Start of the Washington State legislative session.

Special Education PTSA meeting, 7-9 pm, JSCEE
Update on EEU situation among topics. District staff will be on hand to give updates and answer questions.

Tuesday, Jan. 12th
Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council Meeting, 5:30-7:30 pm, JSCEE 2765
Highlights of agenda include discussion of Sped issues(including restraint and isolation), CTE, annual report on Equitable Access and Instructional Philosphy.  They will also be discussing what the committee's workplan and goals are for the year.

Thursday, Jan. 14th
Audit&Finance Committee, 4:30-6:30 pm, JSCEE.  Agenda not yet available.

Transition Workshop for Sped Parents, 6-8 pm at Old Van Asselt building, 7201 Beacon Ave. S.
This workshop will focus on helping families of children who receive Special Education Services to understand the Transition Process in developing vocational, social, and independent living skills so that they may transition to adult life as productive community members. We are providing this workshop in partnership with Open Doors for Multicultural Families.
Saturday, Jan. 16th - Director Community meetings
Director Geary - Montlake Library from 11 am-1 pm
Director Harris - SW Library from 3:00-4:30 pm

Advanced Learning Updates (Good luck, parents)

Update: interesting comment thread from the Community Forum for HCC (APP).

Friday, January 08, 2016

Charter Schools - As the World Turns

You could call it a soap opera or use another, more colorful, word (but this is - mostly - a family blog.)

Wait 'Til Next Year

The Washington state legislature is committed to taking bold action on funding public education... next year.

State lawmakers’ proposal to fix school funding calls for more study

I guess some things just don't change. It's always "next year" for these people. Don't they know that we were here last year? Do they think we can't figure out that this year is the "next year" in their promises last year?

Once again, their plan for this year is to work on a plan for next year. You might wonder what happened to the plan they made last year to work on a plan for this year. Yeah, that didn't work out. It was a total failure, so their bright idea is to do it again without any changes.

Friday Open Thread

Update: I left out that the one community meeting on Saturday is with Director Sue Peters at the Queen Anne Library from 11am-1 pm. 

end of update
Did you get the latest oversized "save our charters"ad?  I think more than one reader has pointed out that the money going to save this lousy law could probably help these kids a lot more.  I also don't like the name of the group, "Act Now for Washington Students" because I think most people would think it's a group supporting all public school students, not a small group of them.

Here's a thought - via Representative Gerry Pollet - to fund McCleary, close some tax loopholes.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Early Heads up from District Transportation for Tomorrow

Tweet from SPS:

Transportation Preparation Alert: Drivers to start early tomorrow afternoon for time to navigate potential traffic delays w/Clinton visit.

That would be former president, Bill Clinton, who is stumping for his wife, Hillary Clinton, in support of her run to the White House.  Tomorrow, Friday the 8th, he will be at the Century Ballroom on Capitol Hill from 12:30-2:30 pm.  

Washington State's "Former Charter Schools" - Updates

I call them "former charter schools" because, according to OSPI, that's what they are.  They are "contractors" fulfilling a program formulated by OSPI for their students.

My reading of all that is going on comes to two conclusions.

One, the current charter school law is dead.  Two Eastern Washington legislators, Senator Andy Billig and Senator Michael Baumgartner, are introducing a rather hacked-up bill (it's formatted using the old law to show the changes) - SB 6163.  It's what Charlie calls "charter-lite" and it's nonsense.  It would allow any school board in a district to become  an authorizer of a charter.  (The previous law made the district the authorizer with the school board having true role.)  It is a vague mess that would put both districts and school boards in uncharted waters without a map.

Two, there is no frankensteining these former charter schools back to life.  They have passed from being charter schools to being contracting schools.  How they were authorized and overseen would probably not align with any new law enough to make them legal.  They are done.

If people want charter schools, they need to start over with a clean (and constitutionally sound) charter law. 

But I can't see it getting done in this short session because of the more important issues that need to be covered (see: McCleary) and because a new law would need serious consideration and vetting.  There is not enough time to do that. 

Of the nine former charter schools:

The One Charter School Article You MUST Read

Naturally, there is activity everywhere in the country but there is one national article you should read by noted ed blogger Edushyster - Are Charter Schools the New Subprime Mortgages?  

 She interviews one of the authors of a new study published at Social Science Research Network called "Are We Heading Towards a Charter School 'Bubble'?: Lessons from the Subprime Mortgage Crisis.

What Would You Want to See to Change Gun Laws?

I was listening to the NPR show, The Takeaway, and they had a conversation with former Attorney General, Eric Holder.  It was a somewhat wide-ranging conversation and it included discussion of Sandy Hook.

Holder: And I met with the first responders and the crime scene search officers and they took me around, I looked at the pictures. If the American people had access to those pictures, if the American people had seen those pictures, the calls for reasonable gun safety measures would have been passed.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Superintendent's Announcement on Senior Staff

Another former staffer comes back to the fold and two switch roles.

Superintendent Nyland's Announcement

Free ORCA Cards for Free/Reduced Lunch Secondary Students on Board Agenda

This just got put on the agenda for tonight's Board meeting (thanks to reader Lynn for the heads up):

Motion to Amend the Agenda – Superintendent Nyland has requested that a motion to amend the agenda be made to add an introduction item to accept a grant from the City of Seattle in the amount of $510,017.58, in the form of a Memorandum of Agreement, and to amend the 2015-16 Transportation Service Standards, to implement the ORCA Card Passport Program Enhancement for Free and Reduced Lunch Secondary students for the 2015-16 school year. 

Given the time sensitivity of this item, the motion to amend would include a waiver, for the purposes of this motion only, from the requirements that the item be posted to the district’s website at least three days in advance of the meeting, as discussed in Policy No. 1420.

Seniors Applying to College

From SPS Communications:

Seattle Public Schools would like to invite all seniors to attend one of the many College Goal Washington Financial Aid Nights happening in January.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Public Education News Round-Up

I have many public ed stories that have piled up on my computer so here goes.   (There won't be any charter school stories because there are so many of those, I'll be giving them a separate thread.  The news is not good.)

Tuesday Open Thread

Update: Seattle Opt-Out is having a showing of Beyond Measure on Thursday (Jan. 28th) at 6:30 pm at Garfield High School.  (SORRY - I missed that this is Thursday, Jan. 28th and NOT tomorrow, Jan. 7th.)

end of update

So Seattle Schools had this retweet yesterday (from someone named Julia Kass who I can't publicly identify from her Twitter account):

Identifying high priority leadership practices with principal professional development committee. 

Monday, January 04, 2016

Speaking of Testing...

A couple of items to consider.

Update 2: SPS teacher (and parent and activist) Jesse Hagopian's essay on why he is opting his 1st grader out of MAP testing.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Charter Schools: What's Happening, What's Next

I'll start with what I think is coming next.  A big fat fight in the legislature - one that will take time and energy away from the work of McCleary.  (Despite what Republicans think, a one-pager to the Supreme Court with some dates and thoughts on funding are unlikely to change minds on the court.)  The legislature starts its short two-month session on Monday, Jan. 11th.

I think there will be at least one charter school bill in the legislature (I'm hearing there may be two which would make it interesting.  I'm also betting one of them will have Rep. Eric Pettigrew's name on it.) 

Now, there are three major issues with the current law that would need to be fixed, two of them constitutional, and I think those two come with so much baggage, that a bill can't be created, vetted by both legislators and the public, amended and then passed.  It could happen but I think that's not likely.

I think the charter schools will be opening their doors after the holiday break but honestly, I can't really tell you what they are now.  I don't think the ALE program has been set up, I don't know where the money is coming to run them, they have no real public oversight (maybe OSPI in a vague way) and I'm not even sure they are public schools at this point. 

Three - I previously mentioned Dora Taylor's good work over at the Seattle Education 2010 blog on this issue. 

Seattle Schools This Week

This week sees the reopening of schools after the holiday break.

This week is a big work week for many who will be attending and closely watching what happens when the Legislature starts its short session on Jan. 11th.  

Updated: see Thursday for details.

Wednesday, Jan. 6th
School Board meeting, at JSCEE starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda