Friday, April 29, 2016

Split-Level Classes may be coming to Seattle Schools

From SPS to parents:

Friday Open Thread

The Viaduct is closed and I see no tweets from SPS Communications about transportation issues so I hope all is well for schools in that area.

KUOW Story on the Mayor's Summit

This story was on KUOW today.
"Perhaps the greatest challenge we face in addressing the opportunity gap is the persistent disparities in our public schools," said Murray, in an statement promoting the event. schools," said Murray, in an statement promoting the event. "This is not just the responsibility of the Seattle school district.
This is clever way for the Mayor to get the City more involved but really he should have said:

"Perhaps the greatest challenge we face in addressing the opportunity gap is the persistent disparities in our city.."

Because that is equally true AND his turf.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Seattle Schools' Facilities Planning

Charlie and I have always enjoyed a good laugh over the district's "Facilities Master Plan" because we both could never understand how a list of buildings with descriptions and policies around them is a "plan."  It will be interesting to see if the newest one is any better.

I attended both Work Sessions yesterday on facilities and it pretty much turned out how I thought.  Staff's presentation for the first work session was overly long - a lot of flowery talk about the mission and values of facilities which is fine but you don't need five minutes about it - and sure enough, they had to rush at the end of the first Session.  Directors seemed to have more questions to ask but they had to plow on.

I'll have a write-up of my notes soon.  There were several handouts including this one that I thought parents might want to see.  It's the newest Facilities Master Plan Replacement or Major Modernization Priority list.  It has many categories of facilities conditions for each school in the district.

Dirge, please, for buildings scoring for the worst condition:

Staff proposal for program placement reform

School Board Director Sue Peters has proposed changes to the policies that govern program placement.
The staff have responded with their suggestions for updating the policies.
Both versions will be discussed today in a work session. You can read them here.

Charter school discipline story at Crosscut

Crosscut is featuring this story: Charter schools suspending black students at high rates. It's full of accusations and denials.

Testing News

Update: some common sense from one of my favorite education writers, Jersey Jazzman, and his "The PARCC Silly Season.

end of update

It's just hard to know where to start.

First, the new thought from ed reformers is that parents just don't understand what they are doing when they opt their children out.  Thanks for patronizing them as if they are not thinking adults.  There are also new pro-testing groups springing up and many of them are funded by the Gates Foundation.  It's the same thing, over and over, with the Foundation. Create faux parent groups, data use groups and even media groups. 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

From SPS:
The district is distributing prevention materials to families and students this week.
The materials were selected by the Task Force for the Prevention of and Response to Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault and were shared with principals and assistant principals at leadership learning events earlier this year.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Full-Funding for Public Schools NOW

From Washington's Paramount Duty and Democracy for America:

Please SIGN WA's Paramount Duty's petition to WA legislators: "Stop the delays: Fully fund our schools!"  Please SHARE the petition on Facebook, Twitter, and email, and ASK your friends to sign.  WPD is partnering with Democracy for America on the petition.  

We need as many people as possible in WA to sign this petition right now, so legislators know that we won't let them delay any longer in meeting their constitutional, Court-ordered obligation to make sure every public school in our state has the funds they need to give all kids a great education!


Highly Capable Work Session

To save you some time, there was virtually no talk about any changes to the overall program. Spectrum was not even mentioned.  Whatever is to become of AL programs is something that Teaching and Learning is choosing to keep a mystery.

What was interesting is that Director Burke, who chaired the meeting, had people write down questions (even the audience, though none of our cards got read but we handed them in.)

There was a huge group of SPS staff there including Stephen Nielsen, Clover Codd, head of AL Stephen Martin, and all the Board members.

Shauna Heath lead the discussion which I found interesting given the presence of Mr. Martin who spoke very little.  She did say that HC was "big" part of her department.  They say they are dedicated to "everyone who wants to get in, gets in."


The Mayor's Education Summit: Still Not Clear on Purpose

It would seem a simple enough premise - Mayor Murray cares about students in Seattle and wants to find new/effective/supportive ways to help students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools (heck, maybe even the kids in so-called charter schools but that's unclear.)  Here's what's been happening so far.

The agenda was published this week.  (See below.)  The Summit is this Saturday, starting at 9:00 am.  They have moved it to Garfield High School's Commons due to popular demand.  (I am a bit mystified about that location, despite it being in a central location.  The street Garfield is on - 23rd - has major construction going on and Garfield has very little of its own parking.  They are warning people about the traffic and have a list of parking lots for attendees to access.) They will be serving a free lunch.

So the first half of the Summit is sitting and listing to a lot of people talk?  And why Michael Tolley and not Steve Nielsen or the Superintendent or President Patu, all of whom outrank him?  I find it hard to believe none of them are available.  Mr. Nielsen just did a great job on the Seattle Channel event last week.

Carol Burton will be back at Garfield

Judge George Finkle decided that the district's decision to dismiss Garfield choir teacher Carol Burton for procedure violations during a choir field trip to New Orleans was excessive. See the Seattle Times article here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Seattle Schools Issues Statement on Drinking Water

“The Seattle Public Schools considers student health and safety as a top priority. Over the last several years we have adopted and implemented a set of rigorous standards which have set nationally recognized standards for safe drinking water quality in public schools.

The program was established by the School Board, which adopted a Drinking Water Policy in 2004. It includes periodic testing of each drinking water source in each school, coupled with reporting of the results on the District website.”
Here's a link to the Drinking Water Testing program.

Tuesday Open Thread

Interesting story on NBC last night about one of the members of Cheap Trick and his use of music to help his autistic son.  He's started a group called Rock Your Speech. Also from STAT, this story, Is the dramatic rise in autism tapering off?
CDC officials found that 1 in every 68 children in the country has an autism spectrum disorder, a rate unchanged from the last CDC survey two years ago.

And while the new findings may help counter claims that half of all children in the United States will be autistic within a decade, it’s too soon to say whether the rate has reached a plateau, CDC officials cautioned.
Here's yet another great story about the move to bring back more CTE (Career and Technical Education). The Tri-City Herald reports that the Kennewick School District's Tri-Tech Skills Center students built two "tiny" houses that will be put up for sale along with all other district surplus items.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Next in the NPR Series on Money and Public Education

This NPR story is aptly titled, Can More Money Fix America's Schools?

The bottom line to that question is yes BUT no one seems quite sure what is the best bang for the buck and many legislators are loathe to give out extra dollars if there is uncertainty about what to do.  (But more on that in a minute.)

That's a super broad question.  Does it mean:

Seattle Schools This Week

Tuesday, April 26th
International School and Dual Language Immersion Programs Meeting
Chief Sealth International Schools from 6:00-7:30 pm
Seattle Public Schools invites families, community members and staff to share thoughts and ideas on our International School and Dual Language Immersion programs.
The district is examining these programs in order to make recommendations about potential changes in the 2017-18 school year.
Boundary Change Community Meeting
Roosevelt High School from 6:30-7:30 pm

Mayor's community conversation on education, hosted by SEA.  Van Asselt Community Center from 5:30-7:30 pm.

Mayor's community conversation on education, hosted by SEA.  Northgate Community Center from 5:30-7:30 pm.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Thank you, Prince

Prince was a Jehovah's witness and that faith doesn't allow telling of good acts.  But since he has passed, friends have been speaking out.

There were several letters from neighbors left at his home who said they knew it was him who came thru every time their schools in Minneapolis needed help.  

He helped start, Yes We Code.

Apparently, nearly every concert season, he reached out to communities in need wherever he played.

His death is a loss on many levels but losing someone who cared about more than his own career and acted on his beliefs is tragic. 

The City Council Needs Help; What about the School Board?

From Erica C. Barnett (of C is for Crank):

Tomorrow, the city council plans to fund nine new legislative assistants, one for each council member, bringing the total number of legislative assistant salaries for each office to four. (Council members can divide up those salaries however they want, for example by hiring multiple part-time aides, but council members' budgets will increase to add the new full-time equivalent position.) 

The reason for the change, according to a staff report, is that council members have more work to do now that they represent districts, instead of the entire city. (This is the first council under the new system, in which seven council members represent geographic districts, and two are elected at large). 

"The additional staff support provided by the new positions in this ordinance will be used to address the increased workload resulting from this switch to district elections," the staff report says.
The legislation doesn't identify how much money it will cost to hire nine new aides; that will be addressed in the budget process this fall. A quick back-of-the-napkin tally, based on current legislative assistant compensation and benefits (say, $70,000 each plus $35,000 each for benefits), puts the cost of these new positions at roughly a million dollars. 

What Hillary Said on Public Education

Mrs. Clinton sat down with Newsday in Long Island for an wide-ranging interview that included the topic of public education.  Her wording was a bit hard to understand so I'm not quite sure I understand all that she is saying.  She has some things wrong (but that was the propaganda of Common Core so I don't entirely blame her.)  But she offers zero solutions and that's troubling. And she has a lot more faith in charter schools than I do but that's another thread.

Common Core and Opt Out (this is how Newsday titled this section of the interview)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Hillary Says

Clinton hasn't been entirely clear on her position on several K-12 issues but, given she like hedge funders and their money, she probably supports charter schools in some form.  But this comment is a true one.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Just a Thought

And speaking of field trips, yet again the district cannot get the smarts to head off situation. Now it's all over the news. 

This morning students at Stevens protested outside their school for about an hour.  They were protesting the very abrupt announcement that a long-time tradition of 5th graders going on an overnight field trip was not happening.  This is two weeks before the trip was to happen.

The "official" explanation is that the paperwork didn't get to the district in time and, even with an extension, could not get done.

The "New" Vocationalism - Not Your Grandpa's Vo-Ed

A funny thing happened to me.  Someone wrote that because I believe there should be multiple ways for students to look at work/career after high school, that I was for "tracking" and that meant kids of color and ergo, that's racism.  (I know, quite the leap.) 

But here I see, from conservatives and others, that CTE (Career Technical and Education) is making - thankfully - a big comeback.  Many of these new job start in high school and involve a couple of years of community code including algebra.  Or, they are a stepping stone to a college-based career. It's not your grandpa's voc-ed and one more choice for students.

Friday Open Thread

Updates to come: Seattle Speaks evening, discussion of the Work Session (kinda) about HCC.

Prince has died and that's a sad thing for many of us.  He was almost impossible to classify as an artist; a true original.

Associate Superintendent Michael Tolley will be remaining with the district for now.  Bainbridge Island chose another person to be their next superintendent.  Interesting thing about this article was that the Bainbridge School Board certainly revealed a lot of their thinking - openly and about all the candidates - to the press which is not what we see here in Seattle.

We're losing an important voice for public education in Senator Rosemary McAuliffe who announced her retirement.  What a blow at this important time.

Tweet from SPS: Seattle Public Schools to it routinely tests water. No problems found. No gooseneck pipes containing lead.

On this Earth Day, a new activity book for kids based on the walking and writings of Henry David Thoreau. 
This is why Corinne Hosfeld Smith's new book, "Henry David Thoreau for Kids: His Life and Ideas," is so needed and important. Eloquently written and thoughtfully designed, the book is a perfect way to introduce Thoreau to young readers, and, more importantly, to reintroduce them to the natural world.
I left it till the end of the week but this was National Volunteer Week so do take a bow for all the things you do, big and small, to support the schools and work of this district.  Thank you very much.

What's on your mind?

Schools with State Test Participation Rates below the Required 95%

On Tuesday, April 12, the OSPI sent Dr. Nyland an eMail reminding him of the requirement that districts and school achieve a participation rate of 95 percent on the state proficiency assessments. The message included a table naming the 49 schools in our district that did not meet the 95 percent participation rate on one or both tests.

Field Trip Issues

The District is definitely having trouble around field trips.

There has always been incidents of misbehavior on field trips but they didn't get much publicity until the report of a rape on a Garfield High School field trip to NatureBridge. The review of that incident revealed the lax supervision that was practiced and the total neglect of the policies and procedures.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

How Would You Change the District Budget?

From a comment by Board Director Sue Peters:
I invite Melissa, Charlie and readers to start a thread or send the Board emails on their Dream Budget or People’s Budget (with a nod to Councilmember Sawant, who initiated a similar proposal with the city's budget): What would you like to see added to the school district budget? What would you like to see removed?

Because we are working within the reality of an unfulfilled McCleary mandate and thus limited resources (the state's failure to fulfill its Constitutional duty to amply fund public education), everything we add to our wish list will require an adjustment somewhere else in the budget.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Proposed end to staff reductions after the start of school

The Board Audit and Finance Committee agenda for yesterday included a proposed change to Policy 6010, School Funding Model, which, if adopted, will prevent mid-year classroom shuffling and staff reassignment caused by enrollment overestimation.

Director Peters is introducing this motion and she has a lot of stuff to back it up. Including a number of letters of protest to Superintendent Nyland about staff reductions this year. It's good that Director Peters included them because, as we now know, the Superintendent doesn't make it a practice to read letters.

Director Peters shows that the staff reductions make little sense - staff is reduced at schools due to under-enrollment while the school has a wait list for enrollment, the costs of the staff reduction wipes out most of the savings, and the staff reductions are incredibly disruptive to students and their education.

We'll see how it goes.

This and That

 This from SPS Communications on the upcoming closure of the Viaduct and traffic issues:
School bus transportation and commute times for nearly all schools will be affected by the closure.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

On the Upside of McCleary....

The "Education Funding Task Force" set up by the legislature to plan for a plan for fully funding schools starts its work tomorrow.  But would I want to go to this meeting?  Nah.

Civics for All will be Coming to Seattle Schools

I got word from the human Energizer bunny, teacher Web Hutchins, that Seattle Schools has agreed to bring in the Civics for All initiative to SPS.  I am so happy this is happening for our district.  Here's how Web explains it:

Big Education Discussion Tonight on Seattle Channel

Seattle Speaks will be talking about school funding.  This is a live event so nothing will be filtered or edited.  Program starts at 7 pm.

State Superintendent Questionnaire: Robin Fleming

Fourth in a series.  There is one new candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, David Spring, and I will be reaching out to him as well.

Ms. Fleming's Facebook page.
As a native Washingtonian raised by a single mother, who had a brother with Down Syndrome, and who attended eight different schools before graduating from high school, I understand struggle. As an educational researcher and published author with a doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership (with an emphasis on school finance and multicultural education) I understand educational research and policy.

As a school nurse who for 13 years worked with some of our most vulnerable students, and with families, teachers and administrators, I understand what it is like to be in the trenches.

I have lived in the world of policy now for more than four years, working collaboratively with internal partners at OSPI and with the many state and community partners I have nurtured during my long career of building coalitions and partnerships to implement programs in schools and to advocate for needed policy changes in education and health. I have the skills, experience, relationships, and the depth and breadth of knowledge to effectively lead OSPI into a new future – one ripe with challenges and opportunities that I can and will effectively navigate. 

City and District Announce Partnership to Aid LGBTQ Students

From SPS Communications:

SEATTLE–As part of the Seattle Police Department’s Safe Place strategy, Chief O’Toole, Superintendent Nyland and Mayor Murray will officially announce Seattle school buildings as designated Safe Places. Mayor Murray first mentioned the district’s participation during his State of the City address in February.

All of the district’s 98 schools will support safe and secure places for victims of crime and discrimination directed towards the City’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community. Seattle Police Department launched the strategy through partnerships with businesses throughout Capitol Hill and the City to promote awareness of hate crimes and provide safe places for victims of harassment until officers arrive.

Where:            Garfield High School (Outside Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center)
                        400 23rd Ave 
                        Seattle, WA 98122
When:             Wed., April 20, 2016
10:45 a.m.

Who:               SPS Superintendent Larry Nyland
                        SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole
                        City of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray
                        GHS staff, Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) student members

Oversight meeting Teaching and Learning II

This week the School Board will conduct its required management oversight of Teaching and Learning. The agenda for the oversight meeting can be found here.

In this session, the staff will share information with the Board about Curriculum Assessment & Instruction and Advanced Learning. Some of the information they are sharing does not ring true.

Tuesday Open Thread

Well, at least I have company (in the personal attacks department.)  I am part of a coalition group for public education - Parent Coalition for Student Privacy - and I wrote them about my issue.  Guess what?  Apparently (and quite suddently),  it is happening to other advocates all over the country.  Almost makes you think is coordinated and paid for.

As transgendered student news (sadly, focused mostly around the issue of use of bathrooms) has been a topic around the country, I realized that there are two very different pediatrics groups that have very similar names but very different viewpoints. 

One is the American Academy of Pediatrics which has been the gold-standard for infant/child care founded in 1930.  The other is the American College of Pediatricians founded in 2002 which has a very conservative viewpoint.  And if you look at what each says about transgendered children, it's quite a clear divide - AAP v ACP.   Don't get confused like I did.

Don't know if you saw it but the California teachers union recently won a huge victory in court in the Vergera case when a California appeals court unanimously reversed a decision from a lower court around tenure, tying test scores to a teacher's evaluation and other measure.   A group of nine students had filed the case saying their civil rights were being violated because of poor teaching.  They vow to take it to the state supreme court. 
The effect of the rules, said LA County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu,  was to allow ineffective teachers to keep their jobs and subject students — especially poor and minority ones — to inferior schooling that could stunt their futures.

“Plaintiffs failed to show that the statutes themselves make any certain group of students more likely to be taught by ineffective teachers than any other group of students,” Division Two Presiding Justice Roger W. Boren wrote. “The court’s job is merely to determine whether the statutes are constitutional, not if they are ‘a good idea.’”
Parties on both sides viewed the Vergara decision as a bellwether for the nation.
As we are getting closer to the end of the school year, here's some thoughts about talking to your child's teacher(s) about how your student has done.  I had put this up at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page and found differing opinions on whether parents would feel comfortable asking these questions and if teachers felt they could answer them.  What about you?

I'm hearing that at least one high school had a foreign language on its list of available languages when a student took a tour of the school but now that she's enrolled, is being told it has been cut.  Anyone else?

What's on your mind?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Public Education New (and good SPS News)

Congrats to the Ballard High School Talisman newspaper. From an SPS tweet:
The 2016 Best of Show award for Newspaper, Tabloid 17+ pages goes to The Talisman () from Ballard HS!
The newspaper staff also won several individual awards.

As well, there was this tweet:
Washington Achievement Award April 18, 2016 A total of 258 schools earned for 2015. 16 Award-winning schools in inc

What's happening with program evaluation?

Seattle Public Schools has a longstanding policy that requires annual evaluations for all academic programs. It's policy 2090 and the need for these evaluations is beyond question.

Not only do annual program evaluations provide a critical check on the quality and efficacy of our academic programs, but they are an integral element of the performance evaluation of the program managers, they are a necessary element of the District's budgeting process, and they address the most fundamental question for district managers: are the various programs getting the job done.

There's really only two things wrong with the policy:
1. Despite the policy, the District does not conduct any program evaluations and never has.
2. Do I really have to list a second thing? Let's just list that first thing again but with greater outrage and disbelief: Despite a policy that clearly requires annual evaluations of the efficacy of every academic program, and despite the critical and fundamental role that such evaluations should play in every aspect of managing the district, Seattle Public Schools has never conducted any program evaluations ever.

NPR Story on School Funding

Seems this topic is all the rage.  This story is a three-parter with the other part coming next week.  I haven't had time to read it thoroughly but it has a very good interactive map that shows you who spends what. 
We began with the question: "How do we pay for our schools?"  From a leaky ceiling in rural Alabama to a four-day school week in Arizona. From $9,794 to $28,639.

Next week, we'll wade into the debate over the difference money can make in a classroom. And yes, it's a debate.
National average for school spending - $11,841
Seattle: $10,610
Bellevue: $9,192
Issaquah: $8,096
Highline: $9684
Spokane: $11,610

The center of the state and the far NW of the state spend a lot more. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Making Noise (and Possibly Detractors)

It's a funny thing, this public education advocacy.  There are many of us, locally, and nationwide, representing all kinds of issues and viewpoints. 

But, with the advent of corporate ed reform, there are now new players, most of the funded by the big fish (people like Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Alice Walton, etc.)  They create these faux groups that just pop up as if they have existed forever and yet they can only point to a few - seemingly token - parents or teachers.

But regular advocates forge on without that kind of financial backing or big name firepower.  Our coin of the realm is that biggest, widest picture on issues.  Many in corporate ed reform hate it.  They need to get something done and so, put their side in a pretty frame where the frame covers half the picture. 

Since most of us regular advocates traffic in the truth with real data and real outcomes (just as the other side does sometimes), well, the truth has the ability to get people to pay attention. 

Case in point is this story of Heather Hicks, a parent and teacher in Lacey Township, New Jersey.  Ms Hicks came before her school board to talk about Edgenuity, another Pearson online "learning" program that her son was using.  The story comes from a group I am a proud member of, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.  It comes with a video that Ms. Hicks made that I hope you watch. 

Ms. Hicks is one person and yet she had a big impact on her school board's actions. 

That made Bruce Friend, the COO of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) very unhappy.  Mr. Friend gave two workshops in Feb. that were to be about gaining "stakeholder support as you build a blended (or online) learning program.  We will share strategies in gaining the support of these key contacts; discuss barriers to gaining support; and share examples of the consequences when stakeholder support is not achieved.

Ms. Hicks only knew about what Mr. Friend said because several attendees at the conference sought her out.  They must have been very concerned to try to track down a single parent to tell her what was being said about her at this conference.

(You may recall that iNACOL is the company whose CEO said, in a YouTube video, that online learning was the "Trojan horse for education reform."  They are also funded by the Walton and Gates foundations. It's also a member of ALEC.) 

However, Mr. Friend made the focus of his talks about one person - Ms. Hicks.
It is difficult to conceive of how effective strategies for gaining parent support would include attacking concerned parents by name, (although at the second forum he mistakenly called her “Heather Micks.”)  He showed a screen shot of her face taken from the school board presentation, and accused her of being ignorant about the purported benefits of blended learning and technology.  He said she “killed just about three and half years of work” with her presentation, in which she had refused to “let the facts get in the way of the truth.”  He also revealed her son’s log-in data in the Edgenuity program – a violation of his personal privacy by both him and presumably Pearson – and suggested that the school board should have shut off her microphone.
Ms. Hicks' video shows both her and him, giving their presentations.  You'll note Ms. Hicks is quite calm and rational and, at the end of it, one Board member thanks her profusely.   Friend misrepresents many of her points and what she actually said.

Mr. Friend tried to suggest her child was not very bright and that "she didn't let facts get in the way of a good story." 

I don't know if Ms. Hicks talked to anyone at iNACOL about what Mr. Friend said about her and her presentation.  But it could not have been easy to watch him speak about her.

I had a similar experience recently.  There was a blog thread written about me that challenged my racial background and, taking several things I had written about, basically called what I had written, racism.

Seattle Education This Week

Monday (fun day), April 18th (fed tax day)
My property tax postcard said that 47% of our taxes were local and I'd bet that is mostly SPS levies as well as the Families and Ed levy plus the pre-k levy.  Good for Seattle voters but again, I wonder how long voters can keep this up at every single election.

Tuesday, April 19th
Audit&Finance Committee meeting, from 4:30-6:30 pm at JSCEE.  Agenda

 Of interest to me is the Data Privacy Policy that will not be presented by Carmen Rahm, our Tech lead staffer but by Clover Codd, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.  Given that, I assume it is about adult data privacy issues, not student ones. 

Staff is also giving more "informational" purchase updates to the Board for items that don't exceed the $250K vote to the Board. This is a good thing to see.

From the minutes in a discussion about effects of catastrophic events on school buildings and the district's coverage:
Washington School Risk Management Pool (WSRMP), provide generous coverage, covering the replacement of all of our building. They cover up to $500 Million of any single loss. We are well covered in terms of the maximum limit.
Mr. Staudt spoke about if the District were buying commercial insurance we would be required to report 80- 90% of insurable values or see our claim payment reduced; this is not the case with the WSRMP coverage. A number of school districts have under estimated their building replacement values and the WSRMP hired an outside firm to estimate.

The District’s buildings are undervalued and we should be at $2.26 billion, even after increasing our property values by $564 million last year to $1.776 billion. We have to bring our values up and have been given until September 2018 to do so. We have a timeline in place and will increase our stated values progressively over the three years, moving to 85% of replacement cost values for September 2016.
Directors ask if there is any way to break out older schools for earthquake insurance. Mr. Staudt explained the District can look at individual schools, however we have looked at the policy before and it was a $4 million annual premium for $25 million in earthquake coverage, which wouldn’t even cover half of a high school. Last time it was looked at this the district decided it had other priorities.
Also of interest are the Classified RIFs which appear to number about 24 this year.  It's a sad thing to see what can't be funded by SPS (partial): truancy intervention specialist, career center specialist, sign language interpreter, 11 family support workers (this from "diminished City Levy grant funding.")

Seattle Channel education live event: Seattle Speaks: Making the Grade.  At Town Hall starting at 7 pm but doors open at 6:00 pm with audience instructions at 6:30 pm.

Take the pre-poll!

- State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, (R-6th), Member, Senate Higher Education Committee
- Eden Mack, Advocacy/Legislative Chair, Seattle Council PTSA; President, Washington's Paramount Duty
- Stephen Nielsen, Deputy Superintendent, Seattle Public Schools
- Betty Patu, President, Seattle School Board
- State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, (D-37th), Chair, House Education Committee

Wednesday, April 20
School Board meeting, starting at 4:15 pm. Agenda

Items of interest:

- the district is purchasing seven single portables and two double-wide portables at just under $1M (installed).  
At high school level, all campuses except Rainier Beach and West Seattle are at or over capacity. 

As of March 2016, Capital Planning staff identified a need for sixty-three (63) new homerooms to accommodate District enrollment and Special Education capacity needs for the 2016-17 school year. Of the 63 projected new homerooms, Capital Planning staff identified a need to place twenty-six (26) of the new homerooms in portable classroom modules at twelve (12) schools throughout the District.
The BAR speaks of the eight portables at Thornton Creek being available soon but word is it from the BEX Committee is that project has run into some issues. Hamilton and Mercer are getting doubles.  Viewlands, Woodland appear to be getting the others. 
- There's an Action item for seismic work on Salmon Bay School and "Decatur School."  I'm sure they mean the Decatur building that houses Thornton Creek.  I haven't heard it called Decatur School in a long time. 
In the Intro items is the 2016-2017 preliminary calendar.  

There is also a resolution from Directors Burke and Peters about "alternative summative assessments and to reaffirm student opt-out rights."

Thursday, April 21
 Operations Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda not yet available.

Work Session from 6:30-8:00 pm.  This is an oversight work session on Teaching and Learning, Part II (Curriculum and Instruction and Highly Capable.)  This is in room 2750.

Saturday, April 23
Director Community Meetings
Director Blanford - 10-11:30 am at the Douglass Truth Library
Director Patu - 10-11:30 am at Caffe Vita
Director Pinkham - 2-3:00 pm at Lake City Library

There is a notation about a community meeting - Whiteness and Privilege in Schools & Education System at the JSCEE from 8:30-1:00 pm.  Several directors may attend which may constitute a quorum.  However, the Board will be taking no action at this meeting.

Field Trips and Mayoral Takeover of the School Board; From the Times

The Times had two items of note this weekend; one is an editorial and the other is an article.

The article is about field trips and how difficult it is to write a comprehensive policy that everyone can understand and cover.  I feel like this commenter, Teresa A., at the Times:
"Without clear guidelines, some teachers and parents say, districts and individual teachers open themselves up to liability."

This is all that is really needed.  IF students know what the expectations are AND they know with absolute certainty that the teacher will check on them  and enforce those rules AND they know with absolute certainty that they will immediately be sent home (at their parents expense) if they violate the rules AND they know that no amount of whining will change the teachers mind, then 99% of the students will follow the rules with no problems.  That is all that any reasonable person can expect.

Students are going to try and break the rules, that's part of the young pushing the boundaries and that's a good thing for a our society.  However, as adults it's our job to make sure that they are safe in how they push those boundaries and to only let them push so far before we stop them.  This does not always lead to being the "popular or fun" teacher.  I imagine, from the many problems they have there, that Garfield has a culture of "fun" field trips where the rules are not enforced. As someone who now has to do more paperwork for my field trips as a result of these mistakes, I say that it's way past time for that culture to change not just at Garfield but across the district.
Naturally anything can happen if you have kids who choose to break the rules.  But, yes, if the adults, both teachers and chaperones, have followed the guidelines and rules, then everyone can say they did their jobs and the students chose to ignore the rules they were given.  But the adults are the ones who set the tone for a field trip so it starts with them.

The editorial is about the Mayor's looming education summit.  I say "looming" because there seems to be a ramp-up to this event (which is fine but that no one know what to expect is troubling. I also note that the district and board were not the only ones left out.  I went to Councilman Mike O'Brien's community meeting on Friday and he said there was no communication from the Mayor's office to - at least - his office on participation.  Hmm.)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Again, What Will the Washington State Supreme Court Do?

Update: good overview of funding from the Times.

From KUOW:
Washington Governor Jay Inslee must sign the supplemental budget next week. When he does sign it, that action touches off a series of deadlines in the McCleary case.
KUOW is reporting that the Court told the legislature they must, within 30 days of Inslee signing the supplemental budget, give them a report on their McCleary plans.  Then the plaintiffs in the case can respond (within 20 days) and then the state has 10 days to reply to that response.

Now we all know what the "plan" is - there was a bill passed on it.  They "plan" to kick the can down the road for another year.  I'm not sure what else the legislature could say they are actually doing.

So I did a calendar check.  The end of next week is April 22nd and that would be the last day the Governor can take to sign the budget. The legislature has until June 6th to respond (Memorial Day moves it one more day further on.)

The plaintiffs would have until July 6th to respond (with 4th of the July moving the date one day forward on the calendar.)

And then the legislature would have their 10 days to reply to the plaintiffs' response which takes us to July 20th.   

Of course, how long after that date the Court will take to do/say anything is a guess.

Friday Open Thread

Below is a roundup of information/stories from the (Southeast Seattle Education Coalition) SESEC e-mail update; they do a very good job in covering youth/ed issues in South Seattle.
The City of Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is an ongoing comprehensive internship program. Applications are currently open until May 2.

Seattle Opportunity Youth Fair for 16-24 year-olds not working or in school. Thursday, May 5. 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. All attendees must register online.

South Lake High School is seeking volunteers and donations for their 4th Annual Teen Parents Community Baby Shower on April 29 from 4.00-6.00 p.m.

Really good article on diversity in our neighborhoods from KUOW.
Starting on Saturday, national parks have free entry for a week for National Park Week from April 16-24th.  #FindYourPark and #EncuentraTuParque. The National Park Service is celebrating 100 years of service this year.  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Should I Apply?

The Times is looking for an editorial writer with expertise in education.

So tempting.  (And yes, I'm kidding.)

What's happening with program placement?

I'm trying to figure out what's going on with program placement, and I have to admit that I'm not confident in my understanding of the current status.

Here's what I can determine:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Busing - Is it Worth it for Diversity in Schools?

A teacher-writer, Sean Riley, at The Stranger thinks so.  It's a pretty lengthy article but one that has good history that I hadn't heard before (not having grown up here.)
In total, 10 of my 13 years in Seattle Public Schools involved long rides on a school bus. Between the ages of 6 and 9 alone, I logged thousands of miles looking at the city from a green vinyl seat. This is true for thousands of Seattleites. Seattle Public Schools used busing from the late 1970s through the mid-2000s in the hopes of achieving racial integration. To give just one snapshot of the program's breadth: In 1980, mandatory busing involved 12,000 of the district's 54,000 students.
He has one pretty funny line (but I'm not sure if he meant it to be funny):
It was watching the OJ verdict with black kids and getting so caught up, I joyfully sprinted in the halls with them for a second. 

Pondering PTA

We've had discussions here about the role of PTA in public education in our district.  There are several schools that are now PTOs (parent-teacher organizations) that operate solely at their schools.  Being a PTO is more work in some ways but in another way, it's better as your school gets to keep all your fund-raising dollars (without dollars going to state and national PTA.)

We've talked about trying to figure out if it would be possible to share PTA wealth from some more empowered schools since other schools have small PTAs.  (I was doing a random check and so far I haven't found a school without a PTA/PTO.)  As I previously reported, the district says that PTA grants are now well over $3M a year and that's now above some other grant providers.

Seattle PTAs have certainly taken on more and more.

But it's not just the money but how PTA at all levels seems to be different to me.

Low-Income Students Receive AP Test Fee Reduction

From OSPI:
OLYMPIA — April 13, 2016 — Funds are now available for low-income students who are eligible for Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge Capstone program exams, the US Department of Education announced yesterday.

Qualified low-income students will now pay $15 per exam. This is a $3 increase from last year’s reduced rate of $12 per exam.

There is no limit to the number of exams a student may take.

For more information on the program, as well how students qualify for the fee reduction, please visit Advanced Placement.

Charter Commission Meets

I'll have a full write-up but here's a new fun fact.

Under the new law there are two new commissioners.  One would come from the State Board of Education and one from OPSI (the law says the executive director board chair of BOE and the state superintendent but we all knew that was never going to happen.)

OSPI has not put forth someone yet but from the BOE it's going to be Isabel Muñoz-Colón .
Ms. Muñoz-Colón is the K-12 Investments Manager for the City of Seattle’s Department of Education and Early Learning, where she also co-chairs the English Language Learner working group for the South King County Road Map Project.
That's quite a cross-reference of groups for Ms. Muñoz-Colón.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"The Nuisance of Democracy" and Bill Gates

Nonprofit Quarterly, a journal on "innovative thinking for the nonprofit sector" has always been a  lately favorite of mine.  They are generally very straightforward in their thinking.  This particular article, Charitable Plutocracy: Bill Gates, Washington State, and the Nuisance of Democracy, by Joanne Barken, is much more harsh than their usual writing but, on this topic, I don't mind.
Joanne Barkan is a writer based in New York City and Truro, Massachusetts. For the past six years, her work has focused on the relationship between “big philanthropy” and democracy, and the intervention of private foundations in public-education policy.
(Barkan also has another excellent article, They (Not We) Shall Overcome: Private Largesse and Public Education, that I hope to write about in context of what I see happening in Seattle around discourse on public education reform.)

Tuesday Open Thread

Looking ahead, there's a great talk on public education coming up at Town Hall; it's Ed Boland and Inside America's School Systems based on his book, The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School.  It's on Tuesday, June 28, 7 pm.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Public Education Events

FYI, the latest on enrollment for the next school year, 2016-2017.

District Wants Input on Dual Language/International Schools

From SPS (note: the survey at the bottom currently does not have a live link):

The district is examining these programs in order to make recommendations about potential changes in the 2017-18 school year.
Interested families, community members, and staff may participate in one or more of the following ways:

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Seattle Schools Parents have a friend in Danny Westneat

And why not? He's a long-suffering SPS parent as well.

In this particular column, Westneat asks some hard questions in his usual gentle manner.   He's writing about the Mayor's upcoming Education Summit and how the Mayor seems to be figuring out what he might think needs to be done for/to Seattle Schools.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Why does this olive branch have thorns?

There's yet another pro-charter op-ed in the Seattle Times. This one by Robin Lake of the Center for the Reinvention of Public Education.

While pretending to offer cooperation and reconciliation to charter school opponents following the passage of the new charter school law, Dr. Lake takes a number of shots at the other side and defines cooperation as "You abandon your position and adopt mine."

Friday Open Thread

Here is your semi-weekly opportunity to use this blog as a space to talk about what you want to talk about.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

More Local Education Talk

Seattle Speaks: Making the Grade

State of K-12 education subject of live, interactive televised forum, April 19

SEATTLE— In a city with a skyrocketing student population, the math isn’t adding up. Why have state lawmakers not amply funded public education for yet another year? How can we close the opportunity gap and improve outcomes for all kids?

Seattle Channel host Brian Callanan will lead a live, televised discussion, Seattle Speaks: Making the Grade, 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Ave.The community conversation will take place before a live audience. Seattle Speaks is presented by Seattle Channel, Seattle CityClub and Town Hall Seattle.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Mayor's Education Summit

Mayor Ed Murray will sponsor an Education Summit on April 30.

They will be preceded by a number of community conversations:
  • Wednesday, 5 p.m. at Lake City Community Center, hosted by North Seattle Family Resource Center/Children’s Home Society of Washington and Lake City Future First
  • Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Seattle Wood Technology Center, hosted by Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
  • Friday, 4:30 p.m. at Chinese Information and Service Center, hosted by Chinese Information and Service Center
  • Saturday, 3 p.m. at Rainier Community Center, hosted by TeamChild
  • April 14, 5 p.m. at Neighborhood House High Point Center, hosted by Neighborhood House
  • April 26, 5:30 p.m. at Van Asselt Community Center, hosted by the Seattle Education Association (south)
  • April 26, 5:30 p.m. at Northgate Community Center, hosted by the Seattle Education Association (north)
High school conversations:
  • Thursday, 3:15 p.m., Rainier Beach High School
  • April 19, 3 p.m., Garfield High School
  • April 20, 6 p.m., Nathan Hale High School
Please go and report back.

Carol Burton wants her job back

There's a story in the Seattle Times about Carol Burton, who lost her job for violating field trip procedures.

The story outlines her argument but it leaves out her best one: when other teachers violated field trip procedures - in worse ways with worse consequences - they were not disciplined at all.

Tuesday Open Thread

Spring is here!

What are you up to?
What are you looking forward to?
What are you dreading?

Monday, April 04, 2016

Pre-school prioritized ahead of before- and after-school care

After the jump is a letter from Associate Superintendent Flip Herndon to the Pathfinder community regarding the forced relocation of the before- and after-school care currently using school space.

The letter makes the District's priorities clear: the first priority is K-5 classroom space, then pre-school space, and then childcare space. While the letter suggests that "we may be able to find multiuse space (e.g. gyms and cafeterias) within our buildings that is licensable and will work for our childcare providers", it is not particularly optimistic about it.

As the District designs schools, I would be curious about the extent to which they include space for preschool or childcare in their facilities plans.

Update on Loyal Heights Construction Dispute

From KIRO-7:
So she and a group of other neighbors filed a preliminary appeal last week to stop the project, at least temporarily.

They plan to finalize it Monday.

Tests needed, and not needed, to graduate

Check out the most recent Friday memo to the Board for the test requirements for graduation.

It includes this entry:

Is this correct? If students have already taken and passed the EOC exams for algebra and/or geometry, they do not need to take the SBAC Math assessment to graduate. Yes. If students pass the Algebra or Geometry EOC assessments, they would meet the graduation requirement. However, the Smarter Balanced Assessment would still be required by the state for accountability.
I guess we'll be seeing a lot of students opting out of an unnecessary test again this year.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Blog On a Bit of a Hiatus

I will be unable to be updating the blog on a daily basis for a short period of time.  Fear not, there will be the Tuesday and Friday Open Threads (and Charlie may have something to say along the way.)

I have to confess I've been a bit confused by the reaction on the pro-charter side.  They seem happy to have won but also slightly miffed that the Governor didn't sign the bill.  They also seem to be on a game plan to try to discredit anyone who disagrees with them.

Now that's a odd thing because we all have differing opinions about what public education could/should/does look like and just as many ideas about how to move the needle. I am baffled at the notion that any one idea should get more traction (especially without heavy supporting evidence) than others (like fully funding schools or more wrap-around services.)

Who is to say what idea or direction is the best?  I'm not saying it's me but I'm also going to go out on a limb and say not Bill Gates, either.

An open and spirited discussion about all options, pros/cons, etc. is what is needed.

I'll leave you with this thought from Eleanor Roosevelt to consider:
Great minds discuss ideas

Average minds discuss events

Small minds discuss people.
I'll be back soon.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Seattle Schools This Week

Some interesting and important issues being discussed this week.

Monday, April 4th
Curriculum and Instruction meeting, 4:30-6:30 pm, JSCEE. Agenda

Highlights (partial)
Resolution to Consider Alternative Summative Assessments and Reaffirm Student Opt-Out Rights (Burke) 
Brave and ground-breaking resolution (see page 16):
Under Resolution No, 2014/15-33 on Use of Smarter Balanced Assessment, The Board of Directors of Seattle Public Schools:Asked Congress to support the Elementary and Secondary Education ActSupported the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn’s efforts to suspend
the use of the Smarter Balanced 2015 assessment scores for any consequential judgment or purpose such as federal school evaluations (Adequate Yearly Progress) 
- Called upon the Washington Legislature to reconsider high stakes graduation requirements until we may ensure assessment scores are interpreted and applied appropriately.
- Called on Congress to continue to permit students to voluntarily opt out of taking SBA tests, but to but to discontinue the penalizing practice of giving these students’ scores of 0%. 
-BAR for contract with UW for EEU services
- Quarterly annual report Equitable Access to Programs and Services - page 48, listing of Special Education services, also see page 55
- 24-credit graduation recommendations (see page 62), including student focus groups info:
- Students are divided in their opinions about their current schedules and on-line learning.- Students are consistent in looking for increased support from the school in planning for career and college.
Join Seattle Council PTSA for our annual District Roundtable Monday, April 4 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the JSCEE Auditorium.

District staff will be available to talk with you and answer questions. Representatives from Teaching and Learning, Special Education, student data and assessments, Advanced Learning, Community partnership and afterschool programming, Differentiated Learning and Student Social and Emotional supports. 

We will also discuss Washington State funding as the legislative session comes to a close, elect a nominating committee and discuss the changes in state high school graduation requirements.
Look forward to seeing you there!

Growth Boundaries Meeting, Ballard High School, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Interpreters: Somali, Spanish, Vietnamese 

Meetings are being held in April 2016 to begin sharing information about the boundary changes that will be implemented for the 2017-18 school year. Additional meetings will be scheduled for Fall 2016.
Please visit our 2017-18 Growth Boundaries webpage for a list of the schools with changes and maps showing the new boundaries.
Open the map of all attendance area elementary and K-8 changes.

Tuesday, April 5
Neighbor to Neighbor program and African American Male Scholars Think Tank meeting.
Nathan Hale High School, 6:00-7:30 pm

Wednesday, April 6th
School Board meeting.  Agenda. To note, this is the first meeting where the time for public testimony will start at 5:30 pm, not 5:00 pm.

The agenda is largely BEX and BTA items but also includes a revised superintendent evaluation timeline for 2016 and 2017.

Thursday, April 7th
Executive Committee meeting from 8:30-10:30 am.  No agenda yet available.

Work Session on Board self-evaluation and code of conduct in Board conference room from 5:00-6:30 pm.  No agenda yet available.

Friday, April 8th
End of 3rd Quarter

BEX Oversight Committee Meeting from 8:30-10:30 am at JSCEE, Room 2750.  No agenda yet available.

There are no director community meetings on Saturday the 9th.

Look Who Has a Blog

It's none other than Trish Millines Dziko who announced it today on Facebook.   Trish is one of a couple of public education heroes of mine (along with Diane Ravitch.)  About Trish:

Governor allows charter school bill to become law

Governor Jay Inslee, by taking no action, has allowed the charter school bill, SB 6194, to become law,

See the Seattle Times article.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Marni Campbell to Lead Robert Eagle Staff MS for Final Year of Planning

Put up without comment because I know many of you will have your own:

Friday Open Thread

Will you look at that - a school district voted to opt out of all statewide standardized tests.  This was in Lee County in Fort Myers, Florida.

The Chicago Teachers Union is staging a one-day strike over funding issues from the state.  Has a familiar ring to it, that wish for fully-funded schools.

 Great ad from New Zealand on checking your phone in your car. Show your teens.