Showing posts from June, 2016

At Board Work Session on $11M Underspend

A lively meeting and I will flesh this out later but here's what's happening:

Personalized Learning; Part One

Personalized learning is the next big thing in public education but how it will play out in your child's classroom is, at this point, a big guess.  I note that Michael Tolley, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, seems interested in it and put forth requests to the Board about starting it up in Seattle Schools. (To note, I believe that many teachers are, of course, doing personalized learning as much as they can within the scope of the size of their classrooms and the resources they have.  This is what teachers have done since teaching began.)

No one is checking

I just read the Teaching and Learning update from the Friday Memo for June 24, 2016  and it makes the District's problem with accountability perfectly clear. While these problems are examined in Advanced Learning, the truth is that these failures are repeated all across the district in every school, program, and classroom. The problem is that no one checks to confirm that the work is getting done.

SPS News and Reviews

I had heard that Emerson Elementary was losing a large number of teachers (somewhere between 10-12) and I asked the district about this. Here is their reply:

Seattle Schools This Week

 Update: added the Audit&Finance Ctm agenda.  See the bottom for a couple of items I called out to the Board. end of update I had wrongly assumed most meetings were done for the year but had forgotten that there are generally some left before the 4th of July holiday.

Tuesday Open Thread

End of school year congrats to: - Queen Anne teacher, Joe Bailey, who was named Kidd Valley Teacher of the Year - John Rogers Elementary students earned the Anti-Defamation League's No Place for Hate® campus for the 2015-2016 school year. It's the first SPS campus to earn the award.

The Future of Ed Reform

I actually had not meant to sit down and write this one but I had so many articles piling up on this subject, it seemed the right time.  To be clear (as I am certain that 99% of adults in the U.S. would agree), all is not well with public education.  There are many reasons for that.  Now, if you just looked at white and many Asian students, the U.S. is doing as well as most top-level countries. But the U.S. is a very heterogeneous country that tests all public school students.   We are also a country that seemingly is accepting that nearly 25% of our children live in poverty.  Anyone who thinks that a good teacher is going to overcome institutional racism, poverty and inconsistent/low funding is wrong.  Also, when I speak of education reform in the U.S., I mean corporate ed reform.  I'm not saying change isn't needed; I'm saying what is being pushed is not really working and, at the end of the day, seems to be serving to allow some people to make high salaries and som

Summer at SAM (and other events)

This is one of my favorite summer events and, except for the food, all free.

Garfield and Principal Ted Howard

The Times had a story about the principal at Garfield High School, Ted Howard.  Mr. Howard went to Garfield and his father was also a principal.  Mr. Howard has been principal at Garfield since 2004. (Fun fact; there are at least three SPS high school principals who graduated from their schools - Howard, Martin Floe at Ingraham and Kevin Wynkoop at Ballard.)  The focus of the piece seemed to be how Principal Howard has a "microcosm" of the city to manage. To note, it appears to me that the Times is on a careful campaign to try to point out the many ways that SPS is not bridging the opportunity gap.  I'm pretty sure this is in anticipation of figuring out a way - next legislative session - for the Mayor to take over some or all of the district. I'm not kidding.

Is This What We Want for Children at School?

Update: from the NY Times , asking parents of your child's playmates about guns in their home.

The Legislature's Education Task Force Wants Your Input

Given what they have asked for, I believe they want an actual outline of specifics, not just suggestions.

Friday Open Thread

Candidate Forum for State Superintendent hosted by Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, Equity in Education Coalition, and Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees & Communities of Color, Tuesday, July 19, 2016 from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave. S How one principal turned around a " persistently failing school " in Longview.  Strong leaders build relationships.

OSPI Wants Your Input

The purpose of the Educator Working Conditions Survey is to gather input from educators, administrators, parents, and community members on the various factors that affect working conditions in schools. This includes parent and community involvement, leadership, professional learning, classroom support, and safety. You have until July 11th to take it.

Things Kids Can Do This Summer

Heard about these programs via readers and the always-helpful Director Leslie Harris.

Special Education Stories of Note

From KPLU: How The Language Of Special Education Is Evolving

Food for Thought for New Grads

Great essay from a guy named Tor Bair : Your Life is Tetris. Stop Playing Chess . 1. In life, your only opponent is yourself. 2. In life, things don’t get harder — they just get faster. 3. In life, you can’t control the board. 4. In life, no one tells you when you’ve won.

Big School Furnishings Garage Sale

A heads up from Soup for Teachers from Craigslist :

A View from LaRue

Kellie LaRue is a parent in Seattle Schools and, in my opinion, a brilliant thinker on issues about budget and facilities.  This is her professional work and when she weighs in on issues at SPS, I listen.  Here's her take on what to do with the "extra" $11M for next year's budget.  (She sent these thoughts to Linda Sebring in Budgeting and to the Board.) Kellie's thoughts (red bold mine:) I have been following budget and capacity issues since 2002 and I have a incredibly simple and utterly boring recommendation, that would provide an immediate benefit to every corner of Seattle Public Schools - use the $11M as budget reserve to realign the building level staffing and budget cycle. 

Summer Camp for Kids with Developmental Differences

I heard about Theater of Possibility when I recently attended a Laurelhurst meeting.  They just completed a successful workshop with parents and staff there that was well-received.  Theater of Possibility helps teach social skills through acting and improv.

Wednesday Open Thread

Quite the discussion here about equity - I'm hoping to make Director Geary's community meeting today from 4-6 pm at the NE Library to get her insights on the use of the  Racial Equity Analysis Tool .  It could mean sweeping changes in how resources are allocated, services delivered and what focus there is in the classroom.

Seattle Schools This Week

Again, as the district continues with high school graduation ceremonies this week, congratulations to all the seniors making that walk and their proud parents.

Friday Open Thread

What's on your mind?

What Will Seattle Schools Be When It Grows Up?

I sat thru the quick meeting today that was held before the Board meeting about the extra $11M in next year's budget that somehow got found.  It was quite discouraging. Up front - NO decisions were made.  I suspect that staff will want some soon so look for another meeting next week. One thing from the get go is that many of the Board members were not happy to be given a list less than 24 hours before this meeting.  Not happy at all and, as Directors Harris and Blanford said, "This is no way to do business." 

New Chief Financial Officer for Seattle Schools

This name had sounded familiar to me but I have never met Ms. Berge. Seattle Public School Welcomes New Chief Financial Officer JoLynn Berge  Seattle Public Schools (SPS) hired JoLynn Berge as the district’s Chief Financial Officer. Berge brings extensive experience to the district and will begin her new role on June 15, filling the position vacated by Kenneth Gotsch. 

Site-based Management

When is site-based management an intentional strategy to allow schools to tailor practices to the individual needs of their communities and when is it just a euphemism for the culture of lawlessness and the district administration's inability or unwillingness to set and enforce practices and procedures?

Following the Bouncing Meeting Ball

I don't know what is up but there is a lot of adding and shifting of meetings in these final weeks of school.

Governor Inslee Steps Up to Protect School Mapping Program

The Governor has his own discretionary fund and is allotting the $500,000 needed to continue the Critical Incident Planning and Mapping System that I had previously reported was going to be shutdown for funding.

Meeting on the Reopening of Lincoln High

Update :  I am told that the notice went to several community groups in Wallingford, Fremont, Ballard, etc as well as the alumni group for Lincoln High.  Again, this meeting is ONLY about building design - not programming or enrollment.  You can certainly go and ask questions but I doubt anyone from Enrollment or C&I will be there to answer those types of questions. End of update

Updates coming to Advanced Learning procedure

The Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee reviewed proposed revisions to  Superintendent's Procedure SP2190, Highly Capable Services & Advanced Learning Programs , Unfortunately, the proposed procedure is very bad. Beyond that, it fails to meet the requirements of the policy.

Tuesday Open Thread

 Update: I took down the thread I had on SBAC scores and when they will come out.  I misread the headline of the Seattle Education blog and hadn't realized it was from last year (with a new headline about what might happen THIS year. ) Apologies for the error. Look who has a new job in ed reform - Arne Duncan .  Diane Ravitch reports that Duncan will be working for the foundation, Emerson Collective that that the widow of the late Steve Jobs, Laurene Jobs, set up.  I agree with the ed blogger, Peter Greene, this foundation is a mish-mash of issues.

Headline of the Day: "Evergreen Public Schools to pay for school supplies"

I kind of laughed.  Because it may not surprise any parent in any district that many districts don't pay for basic supplies and expect parents to foot that bill but many citizens would not know this. Really, it's good news.  From The Columbian :

Seattle Schools This Week - June 13-18, 2016

Monday, June 13th Curriculum&Instruction meeting , JSCEE from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda Once again, a jam-packed agenda which would seem to mean little discussion. Tuesday, June 14th OSPI is have a series of forums on the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which replaces NCLB.  There will not be a forum in Seattle but one of the closest ones - in Everett - will be on Tuesday at the Everett Community Resource Center, 3900 Broadway. The next one in our region will be July 19 at the Highline Performing Arts Center in Burien.  There will be a webinar on August 1st.   Wednesday, June 15th School Board meeting , JSCEE starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda 

"It’s one of those things where you don’t really know how much you need it until you need it"

So says Rich Yelenich, director of school safety for North Thurston Public Schools, about the news - via the News Tribune - that there was a big "whoops" in the budget that cut the funding for Critical Incident Planning and Mapping System and it will stop operating July 1. What is that system?

Thinking of the City of Orlando and Their Terrible Grief

What words do we have left in our venacular for what we as Americans have learned to tolerate? So first, prayers, sympathies, hope for the survivors - all these to the families and friends of those killed in Orlando in last night's mass shooting . It's interesting because I had just seen a town hall with President Obama where an older gentleman asked him why he wanted to take "our guns."  The President said he didn't and, in fact, had never once in his presidency, suggested this.  He said what he did want to do is be able to not allow people on the federal watchlist for terrorism to not be able to legally get a gun. I don't know if the shooter this time was on that list but he had been questioned, twice, by the FBI because of things he had said to others. Update: here's a map of massing shootings since Newtown from Vox .  Pretty crowded. So what will it take for change?

"Are You Legal or Illegal?"

Sigh. Yes, State Superintendent Randy Dorn, visiting Raisbeck Aviation High School this week, said to a student, "Now I'll ask you under my breath, are you legal or illegal?" after the student said he had gone to school in Mexico for part of his schooling. Superintendent Dorn is not a bad guy and, according to the Times article, Ricardo Sanchez, a member of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic affairs, says Dorn has worked to help get financial aid for undocumented students seeking higher education.

Want to See What Happens When You Step Up to be a Citizen?

Update: I forgot to add the new meme on McCleary.  It comes from a guy running against Joe Fitzgibbon in the 34th, Brendan Kolding. He says, yes, THE paramount duty of the state is public education....but nearly everything else should get a cut in order to fulfill it. Clever, no? That way you get to say "I'm absolutely for fulfilling the constitutional requirement" BUT you also get to use that as the excuse for cutting into the health/human services and public safety areas of the budget.

Friday Open Thread

Check my "Dude, Seriously?" thread for updates on McCleary .  I find it astonishing that legislators think somehow it would reflect worse on the Court to promise to shut down schools if McCleary isn't fulfilled by the start of school year 2017-2018 than the legislature.  And, that the action would be so distasteful to the legislature that they would actually entertain the idea of NOT getting the work done so as to make it look like it's the Court's fault. The fault lies entirely on the seemingly touchy shoulders of the legislature.

"Dude, Seriously?"

Update:  State Superintendent Dorn's filing . Interview with Summer Stinson of Washington's Paramount Duty, Rep. Reuven Carlyle and Superintendent Dorn on Q13 yesterday. Dorn is pushing for all kind of answers including, yes, closing down schools in 2017.  (That would give the legislature a whole year - a year - to get this done which, by their own requirements, they should have it all done before school year 2017-2018.)

Teacher Wins Settlement Against City in Pepper Spray Action

The Seattle Times is reporting that Garifeld High teacher and activist Jesse Hagopian won $100K for being pepper-sprayed at the 2015 Martin Luther King, Jr. march and rally by a police officer.

Seattle Schools This and That

Reminder of the boundary meeting at JAMS tomorrow night at 6:30 pm.  Please email stories, information and questions to Audit and Finance committee meeting agenda for Thursday's meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  The documentation is 383 pages but a number of pages are part of the EEU contract.


I've had several emails from parents pleading for info on waitlists.  I truly have none beyond what the district says but I did hear from someone in the know.   Here's an opening remark: The waitlist is a dead end! Do not give parents and students false hope with the creation of a waitlist. 

Putting Heat on McCleary for Special Education Funding

Press release I received today (red mine)   ANALYSIS FINDS WIDESPREAD UNDERFUNDING OF SPECIAL EDUCATION Children’s Advocates Urge Supreme Court to Keep the Heat on the Legislature OLYMPIA, WA (June 7, 2016) - The Washington Supreme Court should consider the unmet needs of students with disabilities when enforcing the State’s paramount duty to fully fund education, The Arc of Washington State and The Arc of King County said in a “friend of the court” brief filed today.  The Arcs joined with other advocates for children with disabilities in filing the brief in McCleary v State of Washington , including Teamchild, Seattle Special Education PTA, Bellevue Special Needs PTA, Highline Special Needs PTA, Washington Autism Alliance & Advocacy, Open Doors for Multicultural Families, and several individuals who professionally support children with disabilities and their families in medical, clinical and educational settings .  It is the first amicus brief in the lan

Tuesday Open Thread

Remember that story in the Times a week ago about how Councilman Tim Burgess thinks the district is "evil" because all of the Level 1 elementary schools are in the south-end (with neither he nor the Times truly acknowledging all the reasons that may be?)  Well, somebody felt like this less-than-a story article needed more play and now they added a map of what level schools are where. Almost like someone picked up the phone and said, "This needs more attention - put in a graphic and get it back in the cue of local stories."  Almost like someone needs to get the drumbeat up about pre-K and getting more space in SPS. Interesting series from KCTS about portables .

Yearly Staffing Cuts - Just Part of the SPS Process?

Remember Kids,Not Cuts?  I think they may be back in business soon because I'm hearing of schools fighting staff cuts already.  Here's the latest.

Why I'm Endorsing Pramila Jayapal for Congress

I'm a member of the 7th Congressional district which has been served by long-time representative, Jim McDermott.  After 28 years, he has decided not to run which means an open seat. We in the 7th are really lucky to have three truly good candidates.  I have watched two discussion shows that included some of the candidates.  It seemed clear to me that the top three candidates are Brady Walkinshaw, Joe McDermott and Pramila Jayapal.  I interviewed all three (and public disclosure, Brady Walkingshaw is one of my current reps in the legislature.)  I respect and admire all three.  But, after due consideration, I believe the very best candidate for the 7th is Pramila Jayapal.   Pramila offers a mix of wide-ranging experience, dedication to purpose, and a solid foundation of knowledge on the issues facing our country.  Naturally, I care deeply about public education and Pramila is on the side of supporting our schools, seeking best practices and not going the education refo

Seattle Public Schools This Week

The district is still doing its website survey so weigh in if you, like many of us, find it less-than-useful. I gave Roosevelt my younger son's graduation gown so that another student could use it.  But I do have a black gown and a navy blue gown if anyone wants them or knows a kid who can't afford one. (

Friday Open Thread

Great story about Chief Sealth's water-bottle filling station from the West Seattle Blog . The CSIHS Green Team has been “recognized as a 2015-16 Conservation Champion for their work to get water-bottle-filling stations.  Not only did they get the green light to purchase filling stations at Chief Sealth, additionally they convinced the school board to pursue a $200,000 grant for filling stations in every single Seattle Public School.”

Major Washington State Education Event Tonight

Sorry for the late notice (and I wish I could go but I'm judging some senior projects tonight) - it's a great line-up of speakers:

Is B&MG Foundation Admitting They Don't Know Everything?

 Update: I'm just going to piggyback on Michael's story which needs some sussing out for full impact (but I'm glad he got to it; I'm behind.) Here's the letter that the Gates Foundation's CEO, Sue Desmond-Hellman   wrote earlier this month.  Buried in there are some real gems about public education (couched of course in nuanced language.) The lead paragraph: From the beginning, Bill and Melinda wanted their foundation to be a learning organization; one that evolves and course corrects based on evidence. We want to get continually smarter. One of our greatest areas of learning has been our work in K-12 U.S. education. I actually laughed out loud.  Well, the Gates Foundation may have "learned" something but it has taken them millions to do so and that "evidence" is more experience in failure.  As well, they were using other people's children and schools as their guinea pigs. However, all this learning never seemed to get them

Bell Times Update

Update: The other school to get Tier One busing time is Bailey Gatzert.  What McEvoy said: But she also held out hope that even those schools could get earlier start times within a few years.  "There are scheduling changes coming...that will allow the district to adjust transportation times," she wrote.

Civil Rights Icon James Meredith Speaks Out about Public Education

Thanks to Washington's Paramount Duty for this article via the Washington Post.   The piece is co-authored with writer William Doyle. (bold mine) We are in a dark age of American public education. We are losing millions of our children to inferior schools and catastrophically misguided and ineffective so-called education reforms that are wasting billions of dollars, destroying the teaching profession and causing widespread chaos in public education . We are, in effect, destroying the future of our republic.

"If I Were Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools.."

No, that's not me saying that; it's from Trish Dziko's blog.  (I mentioned a couple of months ago that Trish was going to regularly write a blog.  She's on the Charter Commission and runs a successful STEM education foundation and school.) As usual, she pulls no punches.