Friday Open Thread

Crosscut asks the question - Are Seattle schools prepared for heroin epidemic?

They are talking about having the drug naloxone in schools as a quick remedy for someone who has overdosed on heroin.  Seattle police have successfully saved three lives in the last month.
Locally, Mayor Ed Murray has repeatedly blamed heroin for contributing to the exploding homeless population. He and King County Executive Dow Constantine recently convened the Task Force on Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction, made up of political and health officials. Two representatives from Seattle Public Schools — Assistant Superintendent of Operations Pegi McEvoy and Executive Director of School Health Patricia Sander — are members of that task force, a recognition that schools must play a role in fighting heroin use.
As early as summer 2014, board members of the National Association of School Nurses started discussing whether naloxone should be a part of schools’ response plans.
Some are comparing having naloxone in a school to having a defibrillator or epi-pen.

Good news for school rocket clubs or students doing science projects, according to a story from KUOW.  
It just became easier for students to fly drones as part of their class work. The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday loosened restrictions on the use of unmanned aircraft in academia.

"UAS are an exciting way to promote STEM education and wider use among young people will no doubt inspire the next generation of UAS operators and aviators,” said Brian Wynne, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. 
 Hard to believe but yes, the Republicans in the U.S. House are sponsoring a bill that would make it harder for poor children to access free meals at school.  Booooo.  There's a petition to tell them no.
Yet a new proposal by congressional conservatives would restrict community eligibility, substantially increasing administrative burdens in more than 7,000 schools and threatening 3.4 million students’ access to school meals. For no good reason that we can see, lawmakers from the Education and the Workforce Committee may vote soon to raise the ISP threshold from 40 percent to 60 percent. Because ISP numbers don’t capture low-income students who must typically apply for free or reduced-price meals, this threshold would render all but the highest-poverty schools (generally those in which more than 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals) ineligible for community eligibility.
 FYI, about the priorities in the legislature.
"Combined, Washington State is providing Microsoft and Boeing $1 billion annually in tax breaks. Cumulatively, Microsoft's state tax has saved its shareholders $8.6 billion in costs. While the company quietly surpassed $1 trillion in all time revenue, its home state faces emergencies in education funding, homelessness, heroin addiction and escalating crime."
 Let them eat cake.

It's Sunday Spring Day at our Washington State parks this Sunday, May 8th.  That means the parks are free for day use.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Naloxone? Yes, schools need this right now. My soon to graduate youngest said she avoided certain bathrooms at her previous Seattle high school because of students shooting up.

Anonymous said…
It's sad that heroin is a real issue in schools, but I'd much rather have the naloxone there and potentially save lives than clutch pearls and look the other way.

Inga Manskopf said…
I'm glad that you shared the Crosscut article about the heroin epidemic, Melissa. I especially want to highlight Pegi McEvoy's quote about focusing on prevention activities so that students (and, later on, young adults) don't become involved with heroin and other drugs in the first place.

According to the UW Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, King County heroin-related treatment admissions among people ages 18-29 have risen significantly over the past few years. People currently seeking treatment for heroin addiction represent a substantially younger population than in years past. And treatment slots are scarce.

That's why prevention programming needs to start early -- by middle school. Yet, if you look at prevention programming in SPS, it's poorly funded, dependent on year-to-year government budgets and grants, and not all schools provide it. When I worked in the prevention-intervention program at SPS about ten years ago, almost all high schools has drug counselors (though cuts had already been made and several schools had lost counselors.) Now only a few do and most are not full time. Being witness to cuts to prevention and intervention services in schools has been heartbreaking and frustrating.

That's a long way of saying, yes, we need to be ready for interventions but we also need to increase our investment in prevention. The opioid crisis isn't going to be easy to address and it is likely going to get worse before it starts getting better.

I also want to thank the person who wrote the first comment for bringing up IV drug use at schools. I think we need to talk openly and honestly about the drug problem in our city and especially how it's impacting kids and our schools. Too many people, including public officials, seem to shy away from talking openly about drugs and the many harms associated with their proliferation and use.
Anonymous said…
Good information available at and the same-named Facebook page.

- HIMS mom
Johnny Calcagno said…
Garfield, Roosevelt, and Mount Si are competing this weekend at Essentially Ellington. Good luck to them. Livestreamed here:
Anonymous said…
Roosevelt and Garfield were in the top ten of Niche High Schools for the Metro Area. Nathan Hale and Ballard made the top 20.

Anonymous said…
I'm writing this note after more than a few beers at my grad school end of program party. I wouldn't normally do this, but I want to get this out there.

In Seattle, I would be considered a conservative. I consider myself a moderate, but as the city moves left and lefter, people think I'm way out there on the far right. Trust me, I'm not. I only read this blog because I love Melissa and Charlie's coverage of a large complex organization that has major operational issues. I'd don't have skin in the game otherwise.

But yet, for many years I felt that Danny Westneat was a spokesperson for the far left establishment in Seattle. Yet, even the city has moved past him, and I find myself identifying strongly with his viewpoints in the TImes, whether regarding Mayor Murray, the Seattle Police, King County Metro, or Seattle Schools.

And in this article, Danny does a great job summing up how Carol Burton's absence has impact the Garfield Choir.

Just a few days ago I noted that the Garfield choir establishment's desire to have Burton back at the helm my have shoved the replacement director out of the picture. I don't disagree with my earlier position, but I do believe that for the sake of the students, as soon as the adults in the room can come to an agreement regarding Burton's status, she needs to be in the classroom.

Why employ her, a sub, and the replacement teacher who clearly couldn't cut it? And what is Ted Howard's position on the student that is teaching choir in her senior year. That's insane. This has to be fixed. And its up the adults in the room to get either Burton or a qualified teacher back in front of those classes, yesterday.

How is this acceptable? I understand Charlie's position that this is something the board should stay out of. But they should make it clear that at all times a qualified professional needs to be teaching students. And in this case, its obvious that one isn't.

I know why students are attached to Burton. I was in band at Ballard High well over a decade ago. Our band director, who moved out of the district about 10 years ago was beloved by his students. He and I never saw eye to eye, but yet, as the adult, teacher, who saw me day in, day out, for four straight years, he may have been the single most impactful individual in what is a very challenging time for most adolescents. The continuity of one teacher to help students grow over that particular time period cannot be underestimated, especially in the arts.

While I tend to believe students are more resilient to changes than often portrayed here, there is no doubt that the district's inability to hire an adequate replacement has been detrimental. This needs to be fixed, yesterday. I'm with Westneat, where are the adults and why haven't they fixed this?

p.s. some kid named Riley Calcagno is quoted in the article? Relation to rare blog author and occasional commenter Johnny Calcagno?

Anonymous said…
north westerner, the long term teacher was qualified, welcomed and treated with respect. He had recently completed his graduate degree and had a primary residence in another city. I don't know why he quit but he is a grownup. The students did things his way and called him Dr. It is not accurate to say because the kids wanted Burton back that he quit. When he arrived in late Sept., Burton was already fired with no sign of being back. It wasn't until after he was gone and her appeal court case started that Burton was a topic. When people take a leave it is usually medical. You don't get paid for being a no show, in general.
Well, teachers don't just walk out their classes in the middle of the day for nothing. That's a very bad step to take especially if you want to continue being a teacher elsewhere. If nothing personal happened in his life, I'd have to wonder what happened at school.

I don't think you can ignore this fact given that Burton was fighting to get her job back and everyone knew the position had to be open for her TO come back. It's all something of a mystery.

Anonymous said…
North westerner, why employ all three is great question. The guy who quit must have benefits that cover his absence, and Nyland at SPS wants to prioritize not losing over student learning, in my opinion. And also in my opinion he want to punish Burton in order not to accept responsibility for not informing the school about the student who groped the 2 girls, and to punish Burton and the program as a power issue that is personal to him. He didn't even read the letters from families in spring 2015.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, I don't know the exact reason he walked out, but a medical reason is a very common and believable reason someone would walk out. It is conjecture to say he was driven out by students missing Burton. Students came to class, worked on their parts, sang in performances, and he walked out.
Johnny Calcagno said…
@northwesterner - Yes, Riley is my son, and I couldn’t be more proud of him and his choir mates for their work to expose the short-sightedness and lack of judgment by District supervisory staff over the last year.

In addition to being talented musicians and singers, these kids are all dedicated students. As second semester seniors, bound for highly selective colleges in the fall, I suspect they will be fine missing a class or two this spring to keep their choir program alive. Of course all of them would much rather have Ms. Burton back, and as soon as possible.

We are about to complete our 13 year run in Seattle Public Schools, and I am planning one more blog post discussing our experience. The short version is that there are many amazing teachers, students, parents, and building leaders, but overall District leadership has been sadly and tragically lacking. That’s not news to readers of this blog, but the particulars will be worth daylighting at least one more time.
Peanut said…
Can someone help me interpret the move rules for SPS? I've read them repeatedly but not easy to understand.

Specifically, we need more space/different configuration for 2 parents and 2 pre-teens, but want minimal disruption for kid schools. Kid 1 is 6th grader in designated Middle School. Kid 2 is 4th grader in option school.

As I read the rules, it looks like we need to stay in the boundaries for both. If we stay in Option school geozone but not middle school boundary, does Kid 1 have to move for 7th grade? I think answer is yes. If we stay in middle school service area but not option geozone, does Kid 2 have to move? I can't tell.

Peanut said…
Or do we go by Elementary Attendance Area for Kid 2?
Anonymous said…

For Kid 1 you will need to stay within the Middle School boundary. If you move outside the boundary you would need to move Kid 1. If you move during the school year in most instances they will let you child stay through the end of the school year before being moved to the new boundary school.

Kid 2 got into their school via the Choice process, because of that you may move outside of the Geo Zone and not lose your assignment.

Anonymous said…

To add to the above - for Kid 2 you will need to stay within the Service Area of their school. I didn't look for any maps of Service Areas but they are in essence the Middle School boundary wherein your Option School is located.

I'd also like to offer the heads up that there will be a lot of boundary changes taking place for the 2017-2018 school year. As a matter of self preservation it would be easier to keep within the middle school boundary as it will be in 2017-2018. You can find maps here:


Anonymous said…
Update on Experimental Education Unit funding issue previously discussed on this blog:

"May 5, 2016 — Yesterday, the Seattle School Board voted unanimously to approve the EEU contract for the 2016-2017 school year. The contract will provide funding for 18 kindergarten students receiving special education services. It will increase the funding amount by over $7,000 per student to more appropriately reflect the actual cost for serving these students. Under the agreement, EEU will also provide technical assistance, training, and coaching to SPS sites to promote inclusive practices."

Good news.
--kindergarten mom
Anonymous said…
Melissa: Well, teachers don't just walk out their classes in the middle of the day for nothing.

Well, there is a McClure teacher who walks out of her class frequently with no response from the admins. I wonder if they even know she's on walkabout...?

GHSMom, if you believe I used conjecture to understand why the new music teacher left Garfield, I'll tell you that you are using conjecture to say it was personal. We just don't know but again, weird that he would hurt his own career with that kind of action.

McClure, okay but that's on the administration if you have a teacher not in class and they do nothing.

Johnny, I thought he might your son. All those kids did a great job at the mic; very impressive.
GarfieldMom said…
He left on indefinite medical leave.
Anonymous said…
One final thought...

It was mentioned on another thread that SPS has two music subs, and they are fully utilized.

Which basically means that if any music teacher goes out on long term leave (FMLA or whatever), then their entire program and the education of their students stops.

Could you imagine if Clarence Acox at Garfield had to step out on leave mid-year and there was no one there to replace him?

Is the district expecting students to teach music classes in case of an absence as a matter of policy? Because there apparently is no fall back.

Anonymous said…
As an ex-librarian, that story in the Seattle Times about the inequities of SPS school libraries just breaks my heart. I am who I am because of libraries. I had my first "library job" as a student helper in my elementary school library in 4th grade. The day I got my first library card was like Christmas. Libraries can change lives in so many ways. What a ridiculous system this District has. Its a school. Where you know, kids learn to read and to love learning. Step up to the plate SPS and fix the inequitable funding, and poor material allocations. Could you possibly be more inept? (yes, I know they can...sigh)

And to some of the commenters on that story - wow - get a clue. Public libraries, adequately funded, are the hallmark of a democratic and free society. To suggest Seattle has too many...aiyiyi!

Reader 47, agreed.

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