Showing posts from February, 2016

Washington Middle School to Have High School Night

Update: according to information I saw at Facebook, the Summit principal will not be presenting to the group.  I'm hoping that also means that no printed information will be given out either. end of update Tomorrow night Washington Middle School is having a high school night.

Charter Struggle Update

 Update : in yet another desperate effort, Robin Lake of the Center for Reinventing Public Education put out this writing effort.   It's semi-hysteric tone sounds a lot like what comes out of the Washington Policy Center. To my great surprise, she is one of the few to still say this: Our law is one of the best in the country. What? All of this progress was threatened last September, however, when the state Supreme Court ruled the initiative unconstitutional. This innovative approach didn’t fit into a 1909 definition of “common schools”, leading the court to conclude that the schools couldn’t receive traditional public school funding streams. Right, that pesky state constitution.  Here's a thought - write an initiative or bill that is constitutional sound and you will have your charters.   And she makes the claim - without one single shred of documentation of data - that most of the charters are seeing massive improvement with their students.  Saying something ove

Students and their Digital Lives

I'll have a thread on this issue of public education and technology but for now:

Seattle Schools This Week

To note: SPS has just announced the start of a K-5 English Language Arts (ELA) instructional materials adoption.  The district is pretty fa  behind on putting current, standards-aligned instructional materials into classrooms district-wide.  The last formal ELA adoptions for elementary schools were basal readers in 2002 and Balanced Literacy in 2004.

Opting Out Heats Up

 Update: a Huffington Post column from the Vice-President for Advocacy for National PTA is not getting much support.  Read those comments; rank and file PTA does not seem to like National telling them what to do. It's getting to be testing time and BOY, are there a slew of states and groups and people worried that the opt-out movement will continue to grow. First, for great information on opting out, United Opt Out is a national group. There are two interesting developments on this front.

One Quick Point on the Charter School Ruling

Remember all that hair-pulling and finger-pointing when the Washington Supreme Court issued its ruling on the charter school law right before school opened last September? Well, I sat down and watched the interview with Chief Justice Madsen on TVW . (You should watch the whole thing.  She is quietly deferential to the other branches of government and careful about what she says.  The second half of the show was Rep. Matt Manweller and Rep David Frockt talking about the McCleary issue.  Rep. Manweller could not have been more disrespectful to the Court.  It's fine to disagree but if anyone is taking this to a constitutional crisis, it's some in the legislature.) But I digress.  That point I wanted to make was brought up when host, Austin Jenkins, asked about that timing of the ruling? Chief Justice Madsen pointed out the average time for most cases to go thru the Court and that the charter school case was, indeed, about average at 90-120 days. Then she said the Court has

Pre-K Work Session Review

I attended the Work Session on the City Pre-K last Wednesday.  An alert reader found this at the Seattle Schools' Facebook page just about a day ago. (bold mine) Seattle Public Schools is looking to expand our partnership with the City of Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray , and the Seattle Preschool Program to start up more preschool opportunities for families. In 2014, ‪#‎ Seattle‬ voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative to fund quality preschool throughout Seattle. Since then, SPS' Department of Early Learning and the City's Department of Education and Early Learning have been collaborating to operate three preschool classrooms. Right now, preschool is offered at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, Van Asselt Elementary School, and Original Van Asselt. So first, when staff speaks of "Seattle Public Schools," doesn't that include the Board?  I'd like clarification on that because that was always my impression.

Finding Teachers of Color: What the Gates Foundation Thinks

Public disclosure requests can sometimes yield the oddest things (seemingly not related to your request, no matter how narrowly you tailor it.)  Such is the case with my public disclosure request from OSPI around charter schools. One e-mail in one batch was from sent in late Nov to various people in education from several districts including SPS about a meeting to discuss how to get attract more people of color to  teaching.  The e-mail was from the Gates Foundation's Edie Harding, Senior Program Officer, Pacific NW Initiative about their "DEW" work (Diversify the Educator Workforce.) The one SPS invitee was Karen Harris who is an assistant principal at Beacon Hill Elementary.  (Ms Harris appears to have worked for the Martinez Foundation whose principal mission is to support teachers of color.  The Martinez Foundation has been moved to the Technology Access Foundation.)  I did ask the district if they knew about this effort but no one has answered back. From the e

Friday Open Thread

Still nothing new on the charter bill front.  As I reported yesterday, there is some last ditch bill - still sans any link/info about it except it appears to be a funding bill for a year - out there.  So what's left? Monday, Feb. 29, 2016 - Last day to read in opposite house committee reports (pass bills out of committee and read them into the record on the floor) from House fiscal committees and Senate Ways & Means and Transportation committees. Friday, March 4, 2016 - Last day to consider (pass) opposite house bills (5 p.m.) (except initiatives and alternatives to initiatives, budgets and matters necessary to implement budgets, differences between the houses, and matters incident to the interim and closing of the session). Thursday, March 10, 2016 - Last day allowed for regular session under state constitution. So if you considered this latest bill as part of the budget, then next Friday would be the last day anything could be done.   The Times has weighed i

Seattle Schools Organizational Charts

Here are the latest org charts that I could find for SPS departments (as requested by one reader.)

Charter Bill Won't Be Heard (Today)

 Update#3:  The representative who didn't vote on putting 6194 back on the House Ed agenda yesterday was  Rep Sam Hunt, D-Olympia.  Interestingly, Rep Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, who was the co-sponsor of the House version of 6194, voted no.  Apparently he had doubts about the ability for it to hold up in court.  (And I believe that many of those who voted no probably felt the same way.  Once bitten and all that.) But Springer does want charters to go forward but was worried if a second law was overturned, it would doom the whole effort.  He is apparently trying to figure out a way to get local control AND funding AND state authorizations possible as well. As I said before, that's pretty much a whole re-write of the bill.  Is there time for that?  Given the record of those who have been writing these initiatives/bills, I don't think so. By the way, have you gotten your robo-call?  After the third one, I called WSCSA and told them to knock it off.  end of update

Charters and McCleary: A Round-Up

From Cascadia Weekly : YOU HAD ONE JOB: With fewer than 20 days left in their short legislative session, a nearly paralyzed state House and Senate in Olympia passed watered-down education funding plans on razor-thin margins divided along extremely partisan lines hours before a cutoff deadline that would have stalled the bills in their houses of origin.

"Hoax-Call" Threats to Five High Schools

Update #2 I spoke with SPS Communications head, Jacque Coe, about what happened.  She didn't flesh much out but said it was a recording that was played, all the high schools got the phone call about the same time and it was an adult voice (as far as they could tell.) end of update.

Washington State and AP Testing

From OSPI: State AP Scores and Participation Rate Rise Again OLYMPIA — February 24, 2016 — More Washington students are taking and passing Advanced Placement (AP) exams with a score of 3 or higher, according to a report released today by the College Board. That means more students are better prepared for college. And they’re saving money on college credits when they get there.

A Real Teacher of the Year

One of the most beautiful interactions between a teacher and a student that I have ever seen.  I know we Sped parents long for teachers who are like this wonderful teacher.  The teacher, Chris, has his own Facebook page , Special Books for Special Kids. (No negative comments, please. Let's be positive on humanity and relationships between teachers and students.)

Ask a Candidate

Readers, I would like to put together a questionnaire for the five candidates for state superintendent of public instruction. Naturally, I value your input.  So give me your top three questions for them.

OSPI Graduation News

From the Graduation Alternative Application for Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction:

Shakespeare's First Folio at Seattle Public Library

From: SPL (free tickets will go fast): The Seattle Public Library invites the public to come face-to-face with the First Folio at the downtown Seattle Central Library March 21 through April 17, 2016. Considered one of the most important books ever published, the First Folio is the first and most comprehensive collection of the plays of William Shakespeare.

Tuesday Open Thread

Common sense writing on teachers, testing and public education from an unlikely source in the New Yorker - noted film critic, David Denby .  (Yes, the ed reform blogs have not been happy.) Another of-note writer on education is Erika Christakis whose new book, The Importance of Being Little , asks for more play for younger students.  This via NPR: That's because, she writes, "the distinction between early education and official school seems to be disappearing." If kindergarten is the new first grade , Christakis argues, preschool is quickly becoming the new kindergarten. And that is "a real threat to our society's future."   Chronic absenteeism is an issue in many districts and it was just announced that Seattle would be one of 10 districts under a new effort by the White House and the Department of Ed to address this problem.  Nationwide, between 5-7 million kids a year are chronically absent each school year.  The Times reports that in Washington S

State Superintendent Considering Lawsuit Over McCleary

Crosscut is reporting that Washington State superintendent Randy Dorn is thinking about suing the state over McCleary funding.  From Crosscut: “I would like it to be before the end of session,” Dorn said in an interview late last week, referring to the current session of the Legislature.   Dorn added that he had been trying to put together some kind of legal action on the issue since before the start of the legislative session. That's pretty lickety-split, considering the session ends in early March. The central focus of his legal action would be to get the state Supreme Court to rule on the legality of continuing to use local levies to supplement teacher and staff pay. The court has already ruled that paying for essential parts of education is a state duty, not a local one. But local districts continue to collect levies that pay for basic parts of public school operations. As it stands, legal experts have called it an open question whether the McCleary decision r

Looking at the Upcoming Work Session on Wednesday

It's quite the mash-up of topics for this week's Board Work Session on Wednesday the 24th from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm: Early Learning/Seattle Preschool Program 4:30 pm- 6 pm SMART Goal #4 - Early Hiring 6 pm - 6:45 pm SMART Goal #6 - Customer Service 6:45 - 7:30 pm Each of the presentations is quite different. Early Learning starts on page 3 of the agenda.  Staff claims that there are 60 students in the three SPS-located City Pre-K.  But they also claim that there is space available at all three locations.  Which naturally begs the question - what is the stated class size limit for these classrooms? (Answer: 20 students per class so I'm unclear how there is still space available.  (The graph shows 20 students in each location.)  They also don't say that it has taken months for the two City-enrolled SPS classrooms - Original Van Asselt and Van Asselt - to get to this level.   Then, there are pages of "data" that I'm not sure adds much to the who

Shelter-in-Place Lifted from Beacon Hill/Kimble

Tweets from SPS and SPD:

Last Chance for Youth Voice Input

What an incredible month!  Thanks everyone who has been coming out to our assemblies, helping us to get the word out about Youth Voice, Youth Choice and submitting ideas online.  We have gotten tons of ideas of potential projects to improve our community. These ideas are the foundation for what will end up on the ballot in May and we want to continue to collect ideas until our deadline this week. This Friday, February 26 th , is the last day to submit funding ideas to be considered for this process .  Project ideas need to benefit the public and be between $25,000 and $300,000. There are many ways to submit ideas which include attending our last public assembly tomorrow , hosting your own private assembly in your class or organization, submitting your idea(s) online or posting your idea using social media.  Below are more details on exactly how to attend, host and submit ideas.

Digging Deep: What is Public Education?

This topic weighs on my mind all the time and certainly is a valid question for all of us. What is public education supposed to be doing?  I would love if anyone who comments would write a 2-3 sentence reply to that question.  To aid in this discussion, I bring up two articles.  (For now, I'm leaving out the growing - and coming-to-your-child's-classroom like a freight train - issue of so-called "personalized learning" via technology.)  (All bold mine.) One article is from the Center on Reinventing Public Education.  Along with being a charter thinktank, they also like to put forth ideas about what they think public education should be (but they are not interested in any discussion and, of course, you can't comment on their articles.) I Ain’t Talking to You If You Ain’t Talking About Structural Reform spins off from remarks from the Washington State Teacher of the Year, Nate Bowling, who said, "“If you ain't talking about the teacher in the clas

Public Education News Round-up

I'm leaving out opting out and charter schools stories; they need threads of their own. Over in Pasco (FL), they are so desperate for teachers they have a $1,000 training program to become one for their schools.  I was not aware of this program. The Professional Development Program that helps train people without education degrees to become teachers costs $1,000. However, candidates do not have to pay the money up front. Instead, they can have that money deducted from a series of paychecks and pay it over time. Remember how crummy American kids are at math ?  Not the elite students who are growing in power and numbers.  From The Atlantic (and you should check out the photographs of the kids in this article:

Laugh of the Day

A grammar lesson AND state funding lesson, all rolled into one.

Seattle Schools News (Whoops)

The district is reporting that more than 300+ letters to AL parents were sent to the wrong address. Due to a mailing error, 348 letters of Seattle Public School student test results were mailed to wrong addresses.  The error was discovered Thursday, Feb. 18, by a staff member and reported. The letters were mailed in initial batches on February 12. The error was identified at the beginning of a mailing of an estimated 1,200 letters, and halted before the remaining letters were mailed. In good news, the district tweeted more than $30K was awarded to different schools for composting and recycling efforts.

What Happened to Kindergarten?

Some sobering graphics from Education Week:

Help Our Ultimate Frisbee Students

From Chief Sealth news: Chief Sealth is launching their first all-girls Ultimate Frisbee team and they need YOUR help to get jerseys. They've entered in a video contest, and the YouTube video with the most likes wins free jerseys and equipment. We are currently in first but Franklin and Nathan Hale are quickly catching up! Please help our team win this contest by searching "We're Making History Frisbee Team" on YouTube and liking this video. It will help our freshmen players and girls who don't have jerseys.    Whichever school you choose to support, make it a Seattle school.  (I'm inclined to vote for Sealth because they are just starting out their all-girls team.) I can't seem to find the Franklin or Hale video at YouTube; if you have a link, send it.

Friday Open Thread

I'm headed with a number of people to Olympia today to testify against the charter school bill.   I note that Destiny Middle School is having the entire school go (unless parents opt them out or they are on the naughty list.)  This is the same charter that is bribing parents with gift cards to get new students.   Interesting article from The Globalist on "native languages ."  From Our Kids, Our Future, a class I believe is sorely needed.

Does Anyone at OSPI Care about Appearances?

Apparently not, at least when it comes to charter schools.  My second batch of public disclosure e-mails raises more troubling questions. In my first batch, I explained how a couple of other districts' lawyers were worried about running afoul of state law in signing interlocal documents to allow students within their district borders to have an ALE with Mary Walker School District. This batch reveals more concerns from other people. Among them was the overarching role of Washington State Charter Schools Association. Who are they?

Hale Had a Lockdown Today

From Principal Jill Hudson at about 10:45 am today. This sounds quite scary with the suspect coming into Hale's building. Most burglars are not the violent types but I'm glad the schools did the absolute right thing to protect students.

McCleary; It's Not Over

It may appear that way to legislators and their big "whew, we got something done" but until we hear  the Supreme Court's weigh in, the issue is not done. I just spoke to teachers at Roosevelt at the Red for Ed day.  My main message to them and to you is to keep the heat on. Legislators need to hear that YOU are not happy.  They need to feel that pressure. They also need to hear that you VOTE .  There is nothing like a voter to put the fear of God into an elected officials.  Certainly, if you are not their constituent, you might think they can brush it off but the power of saying you vote - out loud - surely gives all of them pause. Here's the link to finding your legislator.   Once you get there, it's a pretty easy process with a fill-in e-mail form that can go to all your reps.

Majority of U.S. Public Ed Students Live in Poverty

Let that sink in.   Story via the Washington Post. The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.  It also means that education policy, funding decisions and classroom instruction must adapt to the needy children who arrive at school each day. The amount spent on each student can vary wildly from state to state. States with high student-poverty rates tend to spend less per student: Of the 27 states with the highest percentages of student poverty, all but five spent less than the national average of $10,938 per student.  Guess who doesn't spend that amount? 

Garfield and Roosevelt in Essentially Ellington (Again)

The jazz bands of Garfield High and Roosevelt High have been selected, along with, Mount Si High, to participate in the Essentially Ellington Jazz Band Competition in New York.   The competition takes places in early May in NYC. The Times reports that Garfield has been a finalist 14 times (since 1999 when the competition realized there were high schools west of the Mississippi.)  Garfield has been in first place four times.  Roosevelt has been a finalist 16 times and won first three times.  Neither has won since 2010 but I foresee a win for either band. Congrats - students, band leaders and parents.  I also want to note the creation of a new jazz band -  the Girls Ellington Project.  They applied to be in the Essentially Ellington competition and didn't make it but kudos to all of them.  Story via KUOW.

"This Bill is Better Than no Bill"

The Quarterly Journal of Economics put out a report in October 2015 - The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms.   They linked school spending and school finance reforms in public school spending.  (This follows a very long-term study from James Coleman at Johns Hopkins University.  Coleman's work suggested no connection between money and test scores.)  Guess what?  District that had more money, on average, did better.  And their students had higher wages as adults.  The study was not so much about WHY the money affected change but that it DID.

If I had a million dollars

The recent $1.5 Billion prize in the PowerBall lottery made a lot of news. A lot of people who don't normally buy lottery tickets bought some for that drawing. I didn't because, as my brother succinctly told me, buying a ticket does not significantly improve your odds of winning. Needless to say, I didn't win the big prize. I didn't think about what I would do with the money if I won. That's what you buy when you buy a lottery ticket, right? You buy the license to dream. I didn't buy a ticket so I didn't have license to think about how I would spend the money and I certainly didn't presume that I would win and start spending the money before the drawing. That would be crazy, right? Yet that's what Seattle Public Schools does on a regular basis. They draw up all of these initiatives - Targeted Universalism is the latest one - which, I suppose, are all very high-minded and well-intentioned, but are predicated on one or more fantasies.

Race and Equity; Targeted Universalism (Part Two)

--> In part two of this thread, I want to analyze the theory around which the MTSS-B initiative seems to be based – targeted universalism. I hadn’t heard of this theory before now and it’s always good to hear about what ideas are out there for better public education. I did some research and lots of reading and found several good articles including ones about the Oakland School District’s program. Let’s start from the premise that if you see a problem that affects the population broadly, then you attempt to create a solution that will negate or end that problem. That premise, of course, supposes that all people are affected in the same way by both the problem and your solution. Universalism – across all sectors, not just education – is discussed in a paper by Thandika Mkandawire called Targeting and Universalism in Poverty Reduction.

Tuesday Open Thread

The Human Face of Big Data is an important documentary film about the masses of data being collected, analyzed and used throughout the world.  The point needs to made - and is in the trailer - that just as much as the good it can generate, there is equal ability for bad things to happen.  There's a preview tomorrow night at SIFF while the film airs on KCTS on Feb. 24th at 10 pm. SPS and its bell change decision in the news via Huffington Post .

Work Session Thursday on Race and Equity Initiative

This week the Board will hold a Work Session on SMART Goal #2 – MTSS-B. (The district has now created an MTSS-A and MTSS-B. “A” is about “success in academics” and “B” is for “attitudes, beliefs and belonging.” They wait until pages 13-14 to define MTSS overall.) This is such a large issue that I’ll write two parts to this thread. One, what this Work Session going to be discussing and two, the theory behind these ideas. The work session is three hours long for two topics (the other is the Board self-evaluation.) But it would appear the bulk of the Work Session is for the first topic. The Powerpoint is quite long and, sadly, is so chockfull of ed jargon on race and equity that you can’t quite make out what will truly be happening. And that’s a pity because this is work that is needed. Missing – and shockingly so – is what lessons this district has learned from past efforts. One is the African-American Academy which was created for African-American children in the district, with pla

Protecting Your Student's Data (and Your Privacy)

The Department of Education is seeking comment on a new student database.  From Student Privacy Matters: The U.S. Department of Education intends to create a new student database to house the personally identifiable information of 12,000 students, 500 teachers and 104 principals from 104 unidentified schools in 12 school districts across the country.

Missing Crown Hill Teen - Have You Seen Stone?

Update: Stone has been found and is back with his family. 

On This Presidents' Day - #ArresttheLegislature

Press Release (bold mine): #ArrestTheLegislature Press Conference on School Funding and Black Lives Matter Who: All City Black Student Union (BSU) and Black Law Student Association, Garfield High School BSU members, University of Washington BSU members, Chief Sealth High School BSU members, Rainier Beach High School BSU members, Seattle University Black Law Students Association Members, BlackOut Washington, and Black Lives Matter organizers

Charter Bill to Get Hearing on Friday

The Washington Policy Center had a whole article about how swell charter schools are doing, both in enrollment and outcomes. Over and over, charter supporters say there is "evidence" that students in former charter schools are doing better but they have given NO definitive, verifiable evidence. There are no baseline scores to say where the kids were before they came into the former charters and no explanation of what kinds of assessments were done (what? two months into school?) to show progress. What I DID find was the following about charter schools in Washington State.

Let's Get Serious (Everyone but the Legislature Is)

We previously published opinions from several editorial boards from around the state, all chiding the legislature for their lack of progress on fulfilling McCleary to fully funding public education in Washington state. The Seattle Times has finally weighed and they agree.  Choice quotes: Team Olympia can't even punt without squabbling over details. That's a sad, sad commentary that work is of such weak quality and yet it still gets argued over.

Want An Example of a District Making Progress? Meet Tukwila

From Our Kids, Our Future , a great story about the success Tukwila is having with a diverse student population.  (bold mine)

Friday Open Thread

Something fun for the kids to do - vote in Google's doodle competition winners for students K-12.  Some of the pieces are truly inventive. Also, The Color of Money - McCleary Crime Scene Coloring Contest will be announcing its winners next Saturday, the 20th. We will be announcing the winners of our coloring contest, one kid and one adult, chosen by our Celebrity Artist Guest Judge Derek Erdman, at our Color In at Zeitgeist Coffee Saturday 2/20, from 4-6. Please turn in your coloring sheets by 2/18 at midnight to enter. (Need not be present to win-but we would love to see you!) For your own vote, here's one for parents on assessments from the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

New Reading for Washington State Legislature

From The Witchita Eagle : The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Legislature has inequitably funded schools and gave lawmakers until June 30 to work out a plan that meets constitutional requirements. The justices signaled that if the Legislature fails to craft a solution by the end of the fiscal year, it could lead to a court-ordered shutdown of schools.

Middle School Families - You Need to Agitate for McCleary

You need to agitate for McCleary because it was the legislature who mandated the 24-credit graduation requirement...with no funding to back it up. From SPS: Dear SPS middle school family, We are sharing information with you about a change that is likely to affect your middle school student when he or she is in high school – and we are encouraging your input. The state has increased the number of credits students need to graduate from 20 to 24. In Seattle Public Schools, students currently are required to earn 21. In Seattle, the new 24-credit requirement will take effect with the graduating class of 2021, this year’s seventh-graders.  

McDonald Principal to Switch to CTE Head Next Year

The McDonald International school community received a letter today from principal Dan Golosman, letting them know that he has been tapped to head CTE sites around the district. He said that the school community would be involved in the "first round" of seeking a new principal and that he would stay with the school until the end of the school year.

Finding Out about What Happened During Lull of Washington State Charter Schools

As I have previously stated, I have had public disclosure requests in for some time to various groups including former charter schools in Washington State, OSPI, and the Charter Commission.  I am still awaiting yet another drop from OSPI. I had a very difficult time getting ahold of anyone from couple of former charters and gave up.  But, if they ARE public schools, there should be no mystery of who is their public disclosure officer and how to contact that person.

The Urgency of Now - Where is it for WA State Legislature?

Via McCleary Crime Scene Color-In - Jeff Synder

Seattle Schools Levy Results

Operations levy   71.07% Yes BTA IV levy   70.97 Yes   After listening to a painful discussion at a meeting at Cedar Park about race and equity regarding Olympic Hills and who ends up at what school, I tweeted out that I regretted my yes votes on the levies.

District Meetings; Demographics and Executive Committee Meeting

Demography Talk The talk by SPS demographer, Dr. Natasha Rivers, on January 29th didn't have much new information.  She stated that there are links to her reports at the SPS page on demography. To note: - the district is definitely working with the City on housing trends - she stated that the district had thought they would grow by 1,000 students as they had in previous years but only gained 336.  That number seems much lower than I recall from the fall. - fun fact: the average age for new mothers in Seattle is 32 and for fathers it's 35. - the growth in SPS is not equally scattered.  Most of the growth is in the NE/NW, some in the Central area but down somewhat in the SW and especially down in the SE.

SPS Asking for Input on Family Survey

SPS is working on the Family Survey and are considering some new questions to add to it.  They would like your input but please get this back to them by the end of this week.  Send feedback to I applaud the district in asking for this input.  

Editorial Boards Weigh in on Recent Republican Legislative Action

Basically, the editorials seem to be asking "what are YOU doing to solve problems besides criticizing others?" (bold mine)

Parent Comments Sought on Before/After Care Changes

A writer for Seattle's Child, Amy Hatch, is reporting on the impact of possibly having to move/ relocate before and after school programs & preschools from seven Seattle Public Schools for the 2016-2017 year. She needs to speak to someone later today or tomorrow so email her if you have input on this topic,

Tuesday Open Thread

Uh oh, testing in Tennessee came to a crashing halt yesterday, after the state spend $108M for on-line testing.  From Diane Ravitch via Nashville NPR : The state commissioner, a huge fan of Common Core, blamed the vendor. She told schools to go back to the “worst case scenario,” that is, pencil and paper testing.  The worry is that their computer system for testing cannot "perform consistently."  This comes on the heels of the story that students who took PARCC tests on paper did better than those who did on a computer so see, maybe a silver linings.   Hilarious comment from those involved: "It is true that this [pattern exists] on average, but that doesn't mean it occurred in every state, school, and district on every one of the tests," Jeffrey Nellhaus, PARCC's chief of assessment, said in an interview. Hmmm, maybe this guy doesn't realize how the pattern got there "on average." Someday, all of Common Core may be the silver linings

Will You Look At That? Two Perfect Scores on AP Calculus

One student, Nick Porter at Kentridge High in Kent, got one of those perfect scores.  From the Times (bold mine): Well, Nick Porter was one of 12 students worldwide to earn all 108 points possible on the calculus AB exam, which covers what’s in a first-semester college class. About 302,530 students took the exam, which lasted 3 hours and 15 minutes. Two years ago, another student at the same Kent high school was one of eight people worldwide with a perfect score. So what are the odds that two students from the same high school both receive near-impossible scores within two years of each other? About 90 percent of Kentridge calculus students pass the exam, which means they receive a score of 3 or higher.  A student in LA, Cedrick Argueta, a senior at Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights, was one of the other students in the world that had a perfect score.  From the LA Times :

Upcoming SPS Meetings

Reminder: meeting about boundary changes in the far NE region: Olympic Hills Elementary Parent Teacher Association invite media to attend a Seattle Public Schools community meeting to discuss race and equity issues surrounding 2017 boundary changes February 9th, 6:30-7:30pm in the Cedar Park Elementary cafeteria.   From SPS: In September of 2017, a new middle school will open in the NW Region.

The Gates "Machine"

Fellow public education blogger, Dora Taylor , does a huge job in sorting out the whole charter school timeline and actions since it was announced that the majority of former charter schools were going to ALEs for their students. I have additional information to add based on my own public disclosure documents and research but thank you, Dora. I would have more information but I could only get ahold of four charters' public disclosure officers (and I should have been able to easily find them all but that is the nature of charter schools - secrecy of operations).  The ones I did get ahold of?  I can't see emails from less than four months of a school's existence - of a very specific nature and timeline - until "March or April." That would be after the Washington State legislative session is over. 

Seattle Schools This Week

I note that the next week is the Mid-Winter break but only Monday and Tuesday with school resuming on Wednesday, Feb. 17th.    Monday, Feb. 8th Curriculum&Instruction Policy Committee meeting at JSCEE, from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda I note from the minutes of the last C&I meeting that there are now 21 Racial Equity teams .  It would be interesting to hear more about what these teams are doing and how much variation there is by school. I also see that the district is asking for a waiver of the 180-day school year requirement of three days so that elementaries and K-8s can have parent-teacher conferences.  This is nothing new but the one thing that caught my eye is that the district saves about $120K by not operating buses to elementary schools on those three days.  Wonder what they do with that savings? Looking thru the documentation, I see a document from the Alliance for Education that the district is accepting a grant via the Nesholm Family Foundation for services at th

South Shore Invites 100 Black Men to School

From SPS: National African-American Parent Involvement Day February 8, 2016 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. South Shore PK-8 In a dynamic family engagement event, South Shore Pre-K – 8 School will be host to over 100 men of African descent, welcoming every child with enthusiastic “high fives” to school on Monday, February 8th in honor of the school’s 8th annual celebration of National African-American Parent Involvement Day (NAAPID).

Of Legislative Matters

Feb. 5th was one of the key dates in the 60-day legislative session. It was the policy cut-off in the House of Origin. Here are the next key dates:

What Should You Be Reading in High School?

Two interesting thoughts for discussion. One was this post from Diane Ravitch's blog , A Father Learns about Common Core.   (Readers point out that this dad may be confusing AP Language and Composition for AP Literature and Composition - I don't know.)  He's a little sad over the reading list which, according CC standards, is more non-fiction based than fiction.  Here's some of the works (which he also says seem short):

Great Opportunity for Computer Science Learning Over Winter Break

From UW's Computer Science and Engineering department: Midwinter Break Workshops! February 16 & 20 Noon - 4 p.m. Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, UW Seattle FREE Discover the intersection of computer science and electrical engineering with the Arduino microcontroller!

High School Sports and Student Safety

From the Herald, a local story but with national implications - the use of rubberized fields and the incidence of cancer for young athletes (mostly soccer players who are goalies.)

Ballard Meeting with Flip Herndon

I was unable to attend but I thought I'd throw up an open thread on high school issues. Link to discussion at APP website:

Friday Open Thread

As we all suspected, the district/schools are phasing out self-contained Spectrum .  The latest? Lafayette.   I have no idea if this decision was made with teachers and community.  Also, if I were a parent, I would not really appreciate the edu-jargon - the principal could have used much easier-to-grasp language.  He also makes it sound like previously, some students were benefiting more than others at Lafayette.

Olympic Hills Meeting on Race, Equity and 2017 Boundaries

This notice is important for many reasons and I remind readers that while it may not be your school/region, issues like boundaries have ripple effects so it's important to keep this on your radar. As well, why are we building a huge new building for OH when the district is drawing more kids off OH into Cedar Park?  It makes it look like the district has other plans that they are not revealing.  Olympic Hills Elementary PTA press release Olympic Hills Elementary Parent Teacher Association invite media to attend a Seattle Public Schools community meeting to discuss race and equity issues surrounding 2017 boundary changes February 9th, 6:30-7:30pm in the Cedar Park Elementary cafeteria.

Legislative Updates from Senator Jamie Pederson

Senator Pederson is from my district, the Fightin' 43rd. From his latest newsletter (partial:) Today is our first big cutoff, when bills that have not passed out of committee will die for this year. Please attend our 43rd District Town Hall on Saturday, Feb. 20 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Erickson Theater at Seattle Central College . House Speaker Frank Chopp and I will discuss the legislature’s work and answer your questions on various issues before the state.

Sad News All Around

I missed it but there it was reported by the Times yesterday that there was an 18-year old girl at Chief Sealth High School who reportedly had a gun on campus.  Police arrested her off-campus at a nearby shopping center. The police did not find a gun but the Times says "they arrested her for investigation of a firearms violation."  (I asked SPD and they said the arrest was made because of credible information about the gun issue and her "status" at CSIHS.) SPS had briefly put both Denny and Sealth on a shelter-in-place.  Apparently a group of students - not related to the incident - ran from police when confronted.

Herndon to Speak at BHS PTSA Meeting Tonight

Have you wondered how Seattle is going to continue to deal with the growth in the North End of Seattle?  What new schools are opening in the next few years?  Are you concerned about how the boundary re-draw is going to impact your neighborhood or your school?  What grade levels will Lincoln High School open with in 2019?  Will Ballard and Roosevelt students be forced to move to Lincoln?  Do you have concerns about the impacts that the late start will have on athletics and field use?  If any of these questions apply to you, attend tonight’s Ballard High School PTSA Meeting at 7:00pm in the BHS Library and hear from the person who will ultimately be in charge of these decisions, SPS Associate Superintendent of Facilities and Operations, Flip Herndon.  Please feel free to forward this to any friends at other schools that would also be interested in this conversation. Keven Wynkoop Ballard High School Principal

District Releases List of Proposed Childcare Closures

Here's the list. There are only seven on the list (so far.) From the district: We are collaborating with schools, providers, partners and families as we work through the complexities associated with the capacity management challenges we face as a community and their potential effect on child care, preschool providers and families. Effected Schools As of February 3, 2016, the following provider sites have been notified that they need to make alternative plans for the upcoming school year. The dedicated space they have been using is needed for a K-5 classroom in 2016-17 . We anticipate that all providers notified will need to move from their dedicated space by July 1, 2016. Adams Elementary (will affect before and after school child care) Daniel Bagley Elementary (will affect before and after school child care) Bryant Elementary (will affect before and after school child care) Coe Elementary (will affect preschool) Hawthorne Elementary (tw

Seattle's School Levies (and other state funding issues)

Next Tuesday, Feb. 9th, Seattle voters will decide on the Seattle Schools' Operations levy and the BTA levy.  Both are renewals but at higher amounts than were voted on last time. Most of you know this is a sticky wicket for me.  I've frequently spoken out frequently against capital levies but not because they aren't needed, but because I don't think this district spends the money in either levy in a transparent manner.  I'm also not sure of their priorities for spending and, given how much parent unhappiness there is out there on many issues, failing a capital levy might be a good way to get the district's attention. Let's be clear on a few things.

Raise the Volume in Olympia

"Nothing big happens in Olympia unless the external voices become so loud that the legislators can't ignore it."                            State Superintendent Randy Dorn speaking to Washington State PTA Focus day. Have you e-mailed/called your reps?   Let them know McCleary IS the thing and your disappointment that it does not appear that way to the legislature.  Let them know that you believe the needs of over 1M children who have been waiting for years for fully funded public education are just as important as 1,000 charter school students, call them.  No on HB 6194.   (To note, there appear to be a couple of charter school bills that were not there before with some of the same sponsors.  I'll have to read them and see what the differences are.)  Let them know you will support the Supreme Court in any action the Court may take in support of McCleary. Let them know you are a registered voter.   In other news, hey, look at what Rep. Chad Magenda

Seeing the Inside of an Old School

 Update:  here's the updated story from Queen Anne/Magnolia News .  Some interesting history but also some expensive trouble for the district. The building had various uses after it closed like being the home to the African-American Academy and a temporary fire station. The "uh oh" is that it has landmark status thru the City in a large way.  This means much higher costs than if they could just renovate it without that status.  This has been a problem at many schools like Roosevelt, Cleveland, and Garfield.  I'm trying to recall the last elementary that had a major update that had this status but I know Coe, Stevens and maybe T.T. Minor. end of update Opened in 1927, Magnolia Elementary School served the neighborhood’s children for nearly six decades, before it closed in 1984 due to declining enrollment. From then on, it served as a temporary site for several schools, including Adams (from 1987 to ‘89) and John Muir Elementary (1989 to ‘90). From 1993 t

"Valuing Public Education: a 50-State Report Card"

This n ew report , from the Network for Public Education, is sobering.  Overall, Washington state gets a "D" and no state earned more than a "C."  (Public disclosure; I belong to this network but had no input to this report.) This report really is a good counterbalance to other groups' report cards that cheer on unchecked charter growth or more testing. From their website:

LGBTQ Youth Leadership Conference

From the GLSEN Washington State Chapter : GLSEN Washington State is excited to announce that this year's Puget Sound LGBT Youth Conference will be held Saturday, February 6th at Miller Community Center in Seattle from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Our keynote speaker this year is Conner Mertens and Aidan Key. In 2014, Conner Mertens became the first active college football player to ever come out publicly about his sexuality. Since then, he has been involved with groups like GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, HRC and many more. Recently, Mertens started his own non-profit called Out on the Streets to help homeless LGBTQ youth across the United States. Mertens grew up in Kennewick in Tri-Cities, Washington, where he was the youngest of four boys in his family. His main areas of focus are anti-bullying and suicide prevention as well as LGBTQ athletics. We are excited to have him at our conference! Aidan is the founder and director of Gender Diversity, an organization that provides edu

Temporary School Bus Route Changes due to Sand Point Construction

Update: this closure has now been pushed to Feb. 8th.  Thanks to reader North-end Mom for this info. end of update From district communications: Beginning Wednesday, February 3, Sand Point Way will be closed to all traffic north of the NOAA Center in the Magnuson Park area. The traffic closure will include Sand Point Way NE between NE 60th Street and NE 95th Street. Schools Effected (sic) This Seattle Department of Transportation project will make school bus route changes necessary for the following schools:  (See below for full list of bus routes effected.) Schools Effected (sic) This Seattle Department of Transportation project will make school bus route changes necessary for the following schools:  (See below for full list of bus routes effected.)

Tuesday Open Thread

Here's a story to file under "brave new world" in public education - a kid was kicked out of his middle school because of a DNA marker.  Basically (from Wired:) Colman has genetic markers for cystic fibrosis, and kids with the inherited lung disease can’t be near each other because they’re vulnerable to contagious infections. Two siblings with cystic fibrosis also attended Colman’s middle school in Palo Alto, California in 2012. So Colman was out, even though he didn’t actually have the disease, according to a lawsuit that his parents filed against the school district. The allegation? Genetic discrimination. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution , a story about one high school's reliance on iPad for teaching and learning for classroom assignments.  The catch is that the parents have to provide them (the district has somewhere between 10-50 for checkout and it's only for school use.)  Interest

Seattle Times section dedicated to Education

The Seattle Times online edition has a whole section dedicated to education issues called  the Greater Good Campaign .