Friday Open Thread

Kudos to Director Rick Burke who Skyped into the Work Session on Wednesday from London.  By the time he got on, it must have been about 1 am his time.

SPS tweet this morning:
Afternoon bus routes in Central District might be impacted by Sanders rally and Sakura-Con. Parents will be notified of major delays. 
Are you going to the Democratic caucuses?  I am.  It may be old school but it is one of the most truly democratic experiences you can ever have - talking to neighbors and others about who should sit in the White House.  More on this in a separate thread as both Dems have pretty disappointing views on K-12 public education.

Oh look, Teach for America is laying off workers (oddly, sending 250 packing but hiring for 100 new positions.)  From Diane Ravitch:
Despite the flashy celebration at TFA’s 25th Anniversary Summit held in Washington D.C. last month, TFA did not meet its recruiting target for the second year in a row.
2015 was the first time in its history that TFA laid off employees, and now it’s happening again.
In addition to the staff layoffs and job restructuring, Villanueva Beard told TFA employees that the Office of The Chief Diversity Officer (OCDO) will be eliminated in September. Despite TFA’s self-professed commitment to diversity (it’s one of the organization’s core values), the decision to eliminate the OCDO comes only months after the new chief diversity officer was announced on
 Taking sides in a disrespectful tweet from a Tumwater high school student to his principal, this story from The Olympian.  What is the correct punishment for a student who gets mad at a principal after being reprimanded for too many late arrivals to class/school and tweets, "Eat my (expletive) ,Broome.)  Is this free speech (apparently not, according to several other high school cases?)

Nominate your school to participate in the 2016 National Fitness Champion campaign. Your school could win a $100,000 fitness center.  This is sponsored by the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils.

What's on your mind ?


Eric B said…
If the student used social media to flip off the principal, I just don't see how it does anyone any good to respond in any way. If it was in person, there may be more consequences, but even then it's hard to see the upside for the school in levying more discipline on the student.

OK, that was the easy one. The 24-credit meeting last night at Ballard was profoundly depressing. Right now, ~20% of high school students don't get the 21 credits currently needed to graduate, out of the 24 credits possibly available in 4 years at 6 credits each. To solve the problem of these students being required to get 24 credits in, they are looking at expanding to between 26 and 30 credits, although with minimal increase (20 minutes) in actual time in school. The other assistive solutions proposed include online tools for plotting out high school careers starting in 8th grade, increased support from counselors, and a couple of other items. When asked about the digital divide, counselor workload, etc., staff said they knew they would need to beef up those areas. It also depends on PD for teachers to teach them to effectively use longer class periods. When a parent said that they liked all these things, but they sounded expensive, Tolley out and out said that they would come up with a price tag and the Board would have to figure out where to cut to fund these things.

So we have a solution that depends on increasing access to computer labs, decreasing counselor workload, and increasing effective teacher PD, with no dedicated source of funding. Has anyone seen this script before? Any idea how Act 2 goes?
TheGoodFight said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cynthia K said…
Please, CK, I understand that you don't like Melissa, but when I see 4 comments posted, I hope at least a few of them will be different. It's not fair to have to wade through the same comment that you posted multiple times. It is much more effective to say your point one time.
Anonymous said…
@ Eric B, so how exactly are they proposing to provide access to 24-30 credits per kid? Are they considering adding a 7th period, or something else? They're not expecting everyone to take online classes are they?

Thanks Eric for the update on the Ballard meeting.

Cynthia, I perceive this is not CK doing this; that person is usually more dignified. I'll delete 'em, you ignore him.

Waiting, that's not the case here, c'mon.
Eric B said…
HIMS Mom, I am probably not the person to answer that since I honestly completely did not understand the answer. I asked the question and basically got back that the math works. That said, here's what I got: There are apparently ways to jigger the school day around so that with block scheduling and some longer classes you get more credits in roughly the same time. Some of that presumably comes from not needing passing periods, but I don't really see how else that happens. I definitely get in theory that a 90-minute class may be more valuable than 3 30-minute class periods (see: early release complaints every single month) because the teacher has more time to spend going deeper into a subject. I'm not sure how that works in practice and how the state credits that time. Hale apparently does this so students get 26 or 27 credits out of the same amount of in-school time as other high schools give 24 credits for.

The most egregious (IMHO) of the schemes was one that isn't really on the table anymore, where each semester would be 8 credits. 32 credits available in high school! Woohoo! They would do this by having 8 short class periods on Monday, then alternating A and B days to have 4 90-minute classes on each day. The total time in classrooms would be the same as the 26-27 credit system discussed above, but students would magically get 32 credits out of the same year.

I know I'm flippant and a little rude above, but I honestly do not understand how the math works and how this isn't just re-arranging deck chairs. If anyone can explain this, I would dearly love to hear it.
Charlie Mas said…
For those who have not been to SakuraCon I highly recommend it.

Even if you don't purchase a membership or go all day, you can go to the public areas of the Convention Center and see the attendees in their cosplay. It is a totally worthwhile way to spend an afternoon.
I have been downtown when this event was going on and Charlie's right; very cool costumes.
Anonymous said…
Eric B - sounds like SPS Management!!

The teachers are insensitive, hence PD, and the counselors are lazy, hence refocusing.

Heaven forbid that they use all the data they have on kids to see that certain grade profiles map pretty tightly to issues of attendance and or lack of doing home work. No one wants to just state that teachers with 140 ++++++++++++ kids are getting ready for the next class, for the kids who show up AND who do something, and chasing the random attendees and random workers down the halls takes away from the first group, therefore, the kids of the certain grade profiles need EXTRA support with EXTRA adults with their math English music Spanish ... classwork.

Let's get real - we can't afford these adults in the schools to make the system work because then we'd have less money for the adults

Lynn said…
Eric B and HIMSmom,

Here's how a student can get more credits in the same number of hours (it's not reducing passing periods):

From FAQ on the state board website:

3. When did SBE remove the 150 hour, time-based definition of a high school credit?
SBE adopted the new rule in November 2011. The change was part of SBE’s overall review of graduation requirements and move towards a career- and college-ready graduation requirements framework.
The recommendation to change the time-based definition of a credit emerged from the work of the Implementation Task Force (ITF), a group of education practitioners appointed by SBE to recommend policy changes needed to implement new graduation requirements. The ITF recommended that a non-time-based policy would:
Place the focus on student-centered learning.
Allow districts more flexibility to meet the increased credit requirements.
Allow districts to determine, and individualize, how much course time is needed for students to meet the state’s standards.

4. Is there a uniform state policy on how each district should define a credit?
Districts can base their definition on criteria they stipulate in policy, such as:
Earning a passing grade according to the district’s grading policy; and/or
Demonstrating competency/proficiency/mastery of content standards as determined by the district; and/or
Successfully completing an established number of hours of planned instructional activities defined by the district.
Watching said…
I just read Eric's report. Truly depressing and we're looking at another unfunded mandate. All types of ideas coming-out of Olympia, but no funding. I recently heard a call to extend the entire school day. It would be great if the state starting paying for 6 periods of high school per day- first.

Anonymous said…
Watching, the statement that the state has not funded six periods a day is a common refrain, but is inaccurate. So, I'm curious as where this belief comes from. The legislature increased the instructional hours for high schools to 1080 and provided funding for this increase in the 2013 biennial budget and maintained that increase --- as part of basic education and the prototypical high school model --- in the 2015 biennial budget. In other words, the state has started paying for 6 periods of the high school day.

Do you have evidence otherwise?

--- aka
Anonymous said…
When did that happen and did they also fund the longer middle school day?

Maureen said…
aka So, SPS (and all of the WA school districts) received 20% more funding in 2013 than they did in 2012? And have retained that level of funding since then? Can you link to a graphic of that for us? (Maybe that is just for HS? It's not clear from what you say.) I have had kids in HS since 2008 and I thought I was paying attention. Thank you!
Watching said…
aka, I am interested in your information. Please share.

It has been a while since I studied the issue and my understanding is that most of the state's investment was geared towards early learning and other expenditures (MSOC?), which did not include high school.

As well, were schools able to use any extra funds for this OR did they need it to backfill cuts they had to make because of the recession?
Eric B said…
Lynn, thanks for the explanation. So in theory, a district could make a 1080-hour high school year 100 credits as long as that's the standard they set for themselves and the students met some basic level of competency on state tests? That seems like a loophole you could drive a truck through.

AKA, the state changed their funding model from 1000 hours in high school to 1080, or an 8% increase. So they are asking for a 20% increase in credits with a nominal 8% increase in funding. So no, they didn't actually fund the new requirement. Oh, and they were underfunding that 1000 hours anyway, hence McCleary which was well before the Core 24 requirement.

As LeVar Burton says, you don't have to take my word for it. Show us your own numbers! We'd love to see them.
Anonymous said…
Watching, et al, the 2013-15 operating budget - SB 5034 - spells out the changes to increase the instructional hours in grades 7-12 and the funding formula that OSPI is to use to allocate the funds to address the increase. Its' in Section 502 (11) of SB 5034.

Eric B, the question was as to whether or not the state funded the six period day. This increase to 1080 instructional hours with requisite allocation increase addresses this question. As for the 20% increase in credits required of students, comparing this to the funding increase as a percentage is not apples to apples. Finally, the vast majority of districts required, prior to the increase of the state minimum credits to 24, more than the minimum 20 credits. So, in other words, for most districts, this was not a 20% increase.

Melissa, it's highly likely that districts used these funds for purposes in which they were not intended. Nearly the entirety of the state funding model is an allocation model. Districts have a great deal of flexibility to expend the funds as they see fit, and they often do.

--- aka
Anonymous said…
@ Eric, it's not really a loophole--it was intentional. The state realized it would be harder to meet the 24-credit requirement, so they loosened criteria for what defines a credit. Essentially they said they wanted more breadth, and were ok with less depth. It's too bad.

@ Lynn, I was aware of the state requirements, but was asking more specifically about how SPS plans to deal with this situation. The state allows for a lot of flexibility in this (for better or worse), and we could go in a lot of different directions. Personally, I'd much rather see 7 periods than a modified 6-period schedule that simply assigns more credits to certain classes. Students applying to selective schools will still likely want to take a full 4 yrs worth of English, SS, math, and science, and likely a foreign language a well, but that doesn't work well with a 6-period day since it uses up 20 "classes" (regardless of whether they assign them 20 credits or something more). With 2 credits of health and fitness, 1 credit of CTE, and now 2 credits (instead of 1) of art required, that's probably 5 more "classes" to fit into those extra 4 periods. I suppose they could make one of those "non-core" classes a longer, blocked "extra" credit type course, but my hunch is that they'd use any longer or blocked course for the more core courses like LA or SS or science. That might be beneficial in terms of ability to deeply cover material in those classes, and in terms of ability to meet the (somewhat meaningless) new credit requirement, but it does NOT help at all when it comes to getting the variety/types of classes students may need. Then add in the overcrowding, and the increasingly complex master schedule if there are classes of varying lengths, and it's probably even less likely that kids will always be able to get a full schedule in the first place. I hope the task force is taking these other factors into consideration too.

"Districts have a great deal of flexibility to expend the funds as they see fit, and they often do."

Can you blame them (at some level?) I think Seattle district hurts itself by not using money in clear and transparent ways all the time but I know those cuts were real.
Anonymous said…
Just saw this excerpt on Salon, looks like it might be an important read.
I'm planning to read it over spring break, and have offered it to a few folks in my building as well. If it can reach the right folks it might go a long way to improving schools top to bottom.

Unknown said…
AKA, This isn't really true: "...and provided funding for this increase in the 2013 biennial budget and maintained that increase --- as part of basic education and the prototypical high school model --- in the 2015 biennial budget. In other words, the state has started paying for 6 periods of the high school day."

They still have not fully funded teacher salaries and a host of other things, and so, no, they have not started to pay for the 6 period day. The actual per pupil investment the state made in the last few years in the "$1.3 billion more" they like to claim as a win only really brought us back to the same level of funding as in 2009, which was already unconstitutional. It was NOT really an increase. It was something, but it certainly is not covering the actual costs of the 6 period day and basic education as a whole, and not nearly enough. That "record level of increased investment" still leaves us with a huge gap in funding, and is why they are in contempt of court and being charge $100k a day.

Page 38 of their own report to the court shows a graph of how the per pupil spending dips after 2009 and only returned to that level in about 2015.

You can find lots more interesting tidbits of information about how the state had repeatedly promised to fully fund basic education, and still hasn't, here on our newly revamped website:


Anonymous said…
Eden, I'm curious as to why you're ignoring the the 2015-17 budget and its increases. The graph to which you refer shows substantial investments in funding for basic education in both the 2013-15 and 2015-17 budgets. And, according to the same report, the legislature has left to fund the full cost of teacher compensation and the full cost of K-3 class size reductions (including the state's share of construction costs to meet this obligation). IMO, this is not "a host of other things."

They are in contempt for not submitting a plan to achieve these obligations. The court was very clear about this in levying the $100K-a-day fine. The court acknowledged in that same order the substantial progress the state was making toward its financial obligations.

The court acknowledged the pace of the phase-in of the state's obligations, which are noted on pg. 7 of this report you referenced. The asterisk specifically notes the completion of the full funding of the increased high school instructional hours and graduation requirements.

But your point, vis-a-vis the 6 period day, seems to be that, if they haven't provided the full cost of teacher compensation and completed the class size reductions, they've funded nothing. I don't share this view --- and neither did the court.

--- aka
Eric B said…
AKA, what you're missing is that the report you cite is the report from the legislature. As previously noted in this thread, the legislature is convinced they're done with funding 6 credits. At least SPS (and possibly the courts, I haven't done that research) don't believe that's true. And it's getting into awfully thin hairsplitting to say that funding 6 credits is done when the salaries they are assuming in that funding model aren't adequate. So yes, they have funded the 6-period day, they just don't fully pay for the teachers to stand in front of those classrooms. And next year, we might get ahead of already-unconstitutional 2009 funding levels adjusted for inflation. So the funding levels are less unconstitutional than they were! Progress!

PS The reason the Legislature doesn't have a plan to submit to the courts is that they can't figure out how they're going to pay for the rest of the shortfall.
Anonymous said…
Eric, I certainly didn't miss that the report that Eden originally cited and I continued then to reference is from the legislature.

As for the Supreme Court, they "commended" the legislature starting on page 5 of their sanction order: Other than the detailed plan for fully meeting its constitutional obligations, the court only called out the legislature's shortfalls in teacher compensation and class size reductions (including the capital outlay necessary to meet these obligations as well as full-day K obligations).

And are you suggesting that 6 periods a day aren't funded because the teachers' salaries aren't fully funded by the state? That seems odd. The teachers are there but their salaries aren't covered by state, so the prototypical school and its MSOC aren't funded? This makes no sense. But, let's look at it this way --- the teachers are fully paid to stand there but the locals are taking on too much of that burden. After 2017, I will suggest that teachers won't see a pay raise (other than possibly COLAs) --- the state will simply take on the full cost of their salaries. How does that affect the 6 period day?

Finally, I agree 100% with your PS. The legislature does not have a plan for how they're going to pay for the full cost of teacher compensation, the remainder of the class size reductions, and their capital cost shares of construction to meet these class size reductions and provide full-day kindergarten. That's why they're in contempt.

--- aka
Anonymous said…
And, finally, can we please dispense with using SPS as the example as to why the state is falling short of its McCleary obligations? This district hasn't failed a constructional bond levy in over 20 years and an operating levy in 18 years! How the hell does SPS still have overcrowded classrooms, insufficient materials and supplies, a wholly and indefensible maintenance backlog, etc., etc.?

It's my understanding that the per-pupil expenditures in SPS are north of $12K, which would make it near the top of the averages of per-pupil expenditures across the country. It's shameful that this utterly mismanaged district continues to place ALL of the blame for its mismanagement of its resources on the state.

--- aka
Watching said…

"It's my understanding that the per-pupil expenditures in SPS are north of $12K"


"1. Basic Education Allocation Per FTE Student Rate $ 6,279.60"

Any conversation about funding and education must include teacher compensation. The district is required to fund 25% of teacher salaries with levy dollars. Whenever we talk about increasing teachers i.e. reduction K-3 or 24 credit hours etc....we will see funding taken from other sources.
Josh Hayes said…
So I was reading in the Times this morning that Gov. Inslee signed a handful of bills, but I still haven't heard the upshot on the Charter legislation. At this point it's looking like he'll just let it pass into law without signature, which is pretty darn weaselly. How much more time does he have to sign this thing? Or veto it?
Josh, He has until April 2nd. He has said he won't sign anything until the budget is done. Naturally, he could just allow it to pass into law but I am sending him new information that I hope will give him major pause.

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