Friday Open Thread

Good morning on the start of this Memorial Day weekend.  Please consider taking a little time to explain to your children why they have Monday off from school and the sacrifices that have been made for all of us by service members in our armed forces.

Interesting article on the growth of Montessori-based public schools (both traditional and charter.)

As a complete opposite to the Washington State Supreme Court, the Texas Supreme Court is taking a decidedly hands-off approach to school funding in that state.  From NPR:

The Texas Supreme Court just doesn't want to get involved in how the state pays for its public schools. That was the signal the nine justices sent Friday when they unanimously ruled the state school funding system, which historically has been one of the country's most controversial, constitutional.

But that wasn't before they called the system undeniably imperfect and said the 5 million Texas schoolchildren deserve better. But, "Accordingly, we decline to usurp legislative authority by issuing reform diktats from on high, supplanting lawmakers' policy wisdom with our own,"  

In 1973, in the landmark San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, the U.S. Supreme Court found that there was no federal guarantee to equity in school funding. They told plaintiffs, led by parents from a poor, Hispanic district near San Antonio, that the system was imperfect but that it was up to the state to fix it.

In this new ruling, the Texas justices echoed that, saying, "Our judicial responsibility is not to second-guess or micromanage Texas education policy."
Makes me glad to live in Washington State (even if the legislature is dragging its feet.)

Sad story on Q13 about Beacon Hill Elementary's lack of a playground as well as Hawthorne Elementary's lack of the same.

The American Academic of Pediatrics says there should be a full-time nurse at every school.
"School nursing is one of the most effective ways to keep children healthy and in school and to prevent chronic absenteeism," Dr. Breena Welch Holmes, a lead author of the policy statement and chair of the AAP Council on School Health, said in an AAP news release.
There's a panel discussion coming up on Wednesday, June 1st at Seattle Central Library on youth homelessness from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

I saw a great documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival.  It's called Sonita and it's about an Afghan girl who fled to Iran with some of her family.  She wants to be a rapper but her parents want to sell her into marriage.  Heartbreaking but her determination for her hopes and dream (which are really about being her own person and getting an education) make it great film for teens.  There's  a showing on June 4th at Shoreline Community College.

Community Meeting with Director Rick Burke tomorrow at the Greenwood Library from 10 am to noon.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Our elementary school is using Envision math instead of Math in Focus. The staff rejected MiF because the lessons are scripted and require the entire math period. This doesn't allow them to teach more than one grade level of math in the classroom. As a result, children receive 1/2 the instruction and wander around chatting while the other group is taught. My child is struggling.

I'm planning to review third grade math skills over the summer and pre-teach fourth grade math to avoid this problem next year. I can't believe the PTA is paying for this.

Annoyed Parent
Patrick said…
I'm so glad that Save KPLU has achieved their $7M fund raising goal!
Anonymous said…
Now accepting submissions - no age limit - great weekend project for your student:

NO 1240 said…

Commission staff members noted that the school has only two members remaining on its Washington board — one from Seattle and one from Bellevue. Summit’s bylaws state that its Washington-based board will include at least three members.

Commissioners made approval of Summit’s contract for the coming school year contingent on adding a board member.

“We are in the process of adding members,” said Jen Wickens, chief regional officer for Summit Public Schools Washington. “We will certainly have at least one more member by the time we need to execute contracts next week.”

Here is something Washington Charters- or their campaign- will tell you:

"The new charter law imposed additional requirements on charter board members. They now must file personal financial statements with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Commission member Cindi Williams speculated that some board members at the schools might have felt uncomfortable with the financial disclosure requirements and bowed out."

Read more here:
Maureen said…
McCLure Watcher Do you know if there will be any poetry workshops directed at a general audience? I assume the Urban Native and African American Workshops will be conducted in English, but I'm not sure I would feel it would be appropriate to direct an English speaking white kid to one of them at the risk of co-opting the experience the organizers are looking for?
I need to do my write-up of the Charter Commission meeting last week; interesting stuff.
Anonymous said…
There's an important post on the HCC blog that related to every single high school student in Seattle, not just HCC. Check it out:

In short, it sounds like we're pretty far down the path toward moving to trimesters in reaction to the new 24-credit graduation requirement. IMO, it's completely crazy to upend the current system to ensure that kids who fail classes will be able to graduate. We should definitely put programs into place to help those kids to make up any needed credits, but we should NOT change the current system for all students on that basis. Of particular concern is how this change would impact AP and IB programs.

BTW, I don't think we should have changed the graduation requirement in the first place, and don't think the legislature should have been able to make such a change prior to funding McLeary.

I responded to the SPS survey about this a couple of months ago, and gave strong feedback against this change. Either I was in the minority, or SPS is moving forward regardless of parent feedback.

-Seattle Parent
Jet City mom said…
Does Seattle have a school like this?
Students graduate by showing what theyve learned, rather than by amassing credits.
Anonymous said…
Maureen said...
McCLure Watcher Do you know if there will be any poetry workshops directed at a general audience? I assume the Urban Native and African American Workshops will be conducted in English, but I'm not sure I would feel it would be appropriate to direct an English speaking white kid to one of them at the risk of co-opting the experience the organizers are looking for?

Perhaps the English speaking white kid could learn something by respectfully attending a workshop not specifically addressed to them? Think Folklife - the festival is not about co-opting but amazing diversity and sharing and fun for everyone.

Also, take advantage and contact the Poetry on the Bus folk, ask for the kind of workshop you want. How about one in your school?

Anonymous said…
Check out this incredible Harvard graduation speech. Among other things, it rails against standardized testing and common core.

-Seattle Parent
Maureen said…
McClure, I would never ask an organization to add a session for a white English speaking kid. I would assume that if they haven't scheduled a general session that they don't have the resources to do it. Likewise, I wouldn't send my English speaking kids to a session conducted in Spanish or Amharic, because they would place a burden on the organizers and require them to either translate for my kid or exclude them (which would be awkward for the organizer.) I believe that my kids, or others like them, could attend the Urban Native or African American sessions and respectfully participate, but then the ratio of instructors to participants would decrease and the intended audience would be shortchanged.

Is there a way to request to have a workshop held at an individual school before the end of the academic year? I didn't see that.

A different spin on this: My older child was very interested in science and we didn't have any extra money at the time. I was never able to find a free summer science program that wasn't aimed at girls. It would never have occurred to me to ask if he could have attended a girls in science program. Maybe I was wrong to think that way? I actually looked at several applications but it was clear that they assumed the applicant was a girl. (This is a sincere question--I may not be thinking about these gender or ethnic or language focused programs in the right way? Could someone who organizes these chime in here?)

I'll note that my kids have aged out of these sorts of workshops, so I am not asking for myself.
Jet City mom said…
I think that Carkeek & Discovery Parks may have some summer programs, perhaps camp long as well.
Ive never found any that were free, and I have two girls.
Are they grant funded?
The only thing that was free, was something at Lakeside, but I couldnt get my youngest to buy into having her whole summer planned.
Anonymous said…
Jet City Mom,

There are some free programs, but they are few & far between. The ones I know of are a program called Tech Trek that has an almost-free week long math & science camp for girls, but that is specific to girls entering 8th grade & the application need to be done in Feb or so. There is a school year monthly program for 7th & 8th grade girls, called GEMS. These things tend to be run by women's professional organizations, like AWIS (Association for Women in Science) or AAUW (American Association of University Women). I haven't found any for high school yet, but will be looking.

I concur with Maureen though - I haven't found these sorts of programs for boys, and my son is the one who is the real math geek in our family; he'd be all over one of these camps.

There are some school-based programs available as well, like Future Cities (co-ed), but they need an adult to run the program for the school, which can be quite a time commitment.

I think a key thing that engineering programs do is to expose kids to the idea that math & science as they experience them in school (generally solving problems & memorizing facts) is not at all what math & science are like when you apply them to real-world situations or use them in your job. I think a lot of kids immediately dismiss engineering or science as career options because the don't enjoy arithmetic or algebra (who does?), without realizing that while most engineering jobs do require proficiency in math, engineers do not necessarily spend much time doing math when they are at work. For example, I assumed my daughter would not be interested in Future Cities because she doesn't really like math, and I was rather taken aback when she read the description (that year they wanted the kids to design a city, and figure out how you would raise crops in sustainable way within the available space to feed a given population), and announced that it had nothing to do with math or science & sounded very interesting.

Mom of 4
Jet City mom said…
If you are looking for free programs, may I suggest volunteering?
Both my kids volunteered at the WPZ pony barn, oldest began at 12 & youngest at 14, when they increased minimum age.
The pony barn is no longer, but the zoo volunteer program for teens still exists.
They are well trained and supervised, and both kids gained a lot by having adult mentors who were able to write excellent recommendations when they needed them for college.

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