Friday Open Thread

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Gratitude! It's so easy to focus on all that's wrong in the Seattle public schools, but, especially as my last child graduates, I am so impressed with all that our schools do right. Last night I watched as awards were handed out to kids who have done amazing things with the support of their teachers. Kids who arrived in the United States not speaking in English in their freshman year, and with the help and support of their teachers, are graduating, on time and going to college. Kids who saw a need for young women of color to empower themselves, and with the help and support of their teachers, started thriving clubs and organizations. Kids who started down destructive paths, and with the help and support of their teachers, got back on track to graduate and go forward.

I could go on and on here...but in the interest of space, I'll just say THANK YOU!

Grateful SPS parent
Grateful #2 said…
I second the gratitude. To all those amazing, hard working teachers. They should just take those $11 million and give them to the teachers as an apology for neglecting them all these years. They are the rockstars of SPS.
Carol Simmons said…
Thank you Grateful SPS Parent,

You are totally correct. Last night I also watched as awards were handed out to students who have done amazing things with the support of their teachers, support staff, and Administrators. The Garfield High School Class of 2016 Senior Celebration and Awards Night Program was again extremely impressive. From the "Against the Odds" award to the "Department Awards" to the "Academic and Administration Honor Awards" there were so many students recognized and celebrated. We cannot or must not give up on public education or our educators or our students.
We can and must give up on the policies that prevent students from succeeding.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for a positive thread. I am the spouse of an SPS Principal and it is disheartening to hear so much bashing of the work they do. She works so hard, is so giving and so in tune with her students. She works early mornings, days, evenings, nights, weekends and holidays. She often times misses her own kids events so she can attend SPS events.

Please remember the work some of these admins do and don't let the mistakes and issues of a few cloud the good work of others. They work very hard for your children.
Anonymous said…
"don't let the mistakes and issues of a few" With all doe respect,

1. Those mistakes are very large.
2. There are more than a few.
3. Those mistakes are repeated month after month, year after year.
4. Many people don't agree with your assessments of principles.

I do like hearing success stories too.

SPS Parent2

Jet City mom said…
I disagree that money is the way to reward teachers. IMO- respect shown through autonomy is where its at.
That is the difference in private schools. Sure some have shinier toys, but they didn't always.
Teachers are often paid less than in publc schools, and some of the best are not even certificated, but they also may have fewer kids per week, and they have more control over the curriculum and day to day instruction.
If we have made informed decisions hiring our staff, they should be plenty capable to evaluate their students progress and adapt curriculum to classroom needs without the bulk of current mandated testing.
What would the impact be if we threw out the most time consumng and least helpful testing and used the money to make up whatever we would be out from the state, but gave the time back to the teachers?
Michael Rice said…
I am finishing my 5th year at Ingraham and my 11th year in SPS. And yes, the chaos at the JSCEE is a major pain to the teachers and detracts from the district. However, at the classroom level, great things are happening every day. I appreciate all the support I receive from the IHS administration, parents, and community. It makes my life easier and helps me to be the best teacher I can be. Graduation is tonight and all I can think about is how I am going to tweak my classes for next year to make them even better. I love my job and I wouldn't trade what I do for anything. Thank you to Melissa for everything she does.
Anonymous said…
Does anyone know anything about this shelter in place incident yesterday at Hamilton?

Anonymous said…
The IB program is a bright spot for Ingraham High school, the rest of the school is mediocre.

The school has some challenges for sure, like too many civil rights complaints, repeated IDEA violations, chronic absenteeism and a larger than average drop out rate.

The IB program elevates the schools ranking from needs major intervention (failing) to meeting expectations.

Form the outside it seems like JSCEE has abandoned Ingraham to focus more on the South end schools.

Thanks for all you do in spite of the district.

Anonymous said…
The worst teacher my kid ever had was a non-certificated "teacher" at a private school. Then he sat through repeated meetings with us smugly grinning at us as he told us why he wouldn't meet our child's academic needs. His total control over the curriculum and how he taught it was a huge part of the problem, in addition to his belief that he knew it all.

Certainly one teacher at one school is not proof of anything, but the private schools and their methods are not a panacea. The BEST student my kid ever had was in an overcrowded public school. There's no one answer.

Anonymous said…
I think that Ingraham says it all and the truth but it should be added that this is the case in many if not most of the schools in SPS. There are these bright spots, great teachers, or interesting programs that enable and allow both Students and Teachers to excel. Some of it by intent but much I suspect is by accident.

The problems with the district is the fiefdoms, the politics and the overall lack of genuine communication, inter and intra district. This enables and encourages the problems that have pervaded over decades.

Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

- Old Timer
Anonymous said…
Well, having 4 posts in a row where the glass was half full had got to be a record for the comment section here! But then it all returned back to the normal nattering nabob of negativity approach.

SPS Parent 2, the only "principle" (sic) that Anon assessed was his or her own spouse. But you have the gall to say you know better than Anon about his or her own spouse's work ethic and dedication to the children she serves. You must know a lot more about this person than her spouse does. Please cite your evidence that led you to disagree with her assessment.

Nothing will ever persistently improve if people can't accept and reinforce the positives directions of the district and their allies within the system.


Anonymous said…
"Nothing will ever persistently improve if people can't accept and reinforce the positives directions of the district and their allies within the system."

Same old same old, it's our way or the hiway. Again it's all subjective, one person positive is another persons negative.

Please enlighten us with your evidence of the district's positive directions and what do you mean by "allies within the system. "

Anonymous said…
Thanks NP. I appreciate the back up.

So much for positive threads.

Fire all the admins is the best solution I guess because clearly they ALL are terrible.

Back to your regularly schedule vitriol.
Anonymous said…
Ok, I can't find the information right this minute, but there was a survey that went out to the teachers asking about their opinions around both central administration and school principals.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the results were very negative towards both the central administration and principals.

SPS Parent2
Anonymous said…
Did anyone find out what this was about ?

The Board is then having a closed meeting immediately after the Operations Committee meeting on Thursday from 6:30-7:30 pm. The topic of the meeting has not been disclosed.

Anonymous said…
Waiting - Here is a quick brainstorm of some positives can think of with the district and some employees. The school my children attend has improved. I like our principal and think he is hard working and cares passionately about the students.

We had staffing issues last fall that were a challenge for a few weeks but were resolved with people who worked in the central office who he said were very helpful in problem solving a situation that could not have been predicted.

I have a nephew who has been able to access world class musical opportunities as a student in the district.

A fellow parent who is part of a minority immigrant community that has felt very voiceless in our society and school district was just telling me about how people from the central office have been meeting with a group she belongs to and she feels like people are listening and responding to them for the first time.

But hey, I am sure you will be at the front of the line to tell me that my own experiences and opinions are invalid because they don't fit your black and white view of the district.

SPS Parent 2 - So if there was such an opinion poll (I didn't read about it but I will take your on it that something like that exists), how would that give you cause to disagree with Anon's observations of his or her spouse? How would you presume to know anything about this individual?

Anonymous said…
You know, I can totally understand being vague when speaking negatively about schools and teachers - no one needs the legal headaches of potentially unfounded accusations - but I, for one, would love to know specifically which schools and programs are great. I don't know if it's against the rules, though.

-New Mom
Anonymous said…
Great how, New Mom?
It all depends on the perspective.
For some, a great school is all about test scores.
For others, its about the community.
Others look for diversity.
Still others are looking for alternative schools.
One person's idea of great may be another person's idea of crap.
A school that worked well for one family may be another family's worst experience ever.
Visit schools, visit programs, see what you like, see where you feel comfortable, see where you feel welcome.
Start with your neighborhood school.

Anonymous said…
Agreed. Every program in the district has families leaving every year for other programs(that families are also leaving). I'd also add that different kids thrive in different settings- maybe different than what you would have thought before they started school. Mine surprised me.

But your neighborhood school has something unique- a walkable community of your neighbors- so it is a good place to start.

Watching said…
I'm interested in hearing about closed door meetings- too.
Liza Rankin said…
Regarding the closed meetings:

RCW 42.30.140
Lynn said…
Maybe the board is being updated on negotiations wth the principals association. I am cynical enough to suspect the principals are testifying at board meetings in an attempt to generate some of the public support teachers had in their negotiations last fall.
Watching said…
I suspect the board's closed door meeting is related to the principal contract. IMO, principals showed-up to the board meeting to garner public support- for something. What ever the testifying principals want to give and take away is a mystery.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for your responses, CT and sleeper. I actually was posting in response to a post that, naturally, now I can't find - maybe it was in another thread. Essentially every so often I see people sing the praises of their school and I always think, well, don't keep it a secret, let's hear where it's so great!

I agree that the neighborhood school is a great place to start, but I'm actually in a bit of a unique situation - since I'm expecting another child, our apartment will eventually be too small - not immediately, but we'll have to move within the next few years. So a world of options are open, even Eastside, though we're not anxious to get out of Seattle. There doesn't appear to be anything bigger than two-bedroom in my neighborhood, so I'm starting from scratch, even though we've lived here happily for several years.

-New Mom
Lynn said…
New Mom,

Do you know which neighborhood or region you're interested in? I think people would be more likely to share if you could narrow it down a bit. Are you looking to rent a three bedroom apartment or a house?

If either parent works on the east side I would look at Bellevue schools.
Anonymous said…

We're out of the downtown/SLU area. We'd probably prefer an apartment - we're not handy - but we're open to houses, since three bedroom apartments seem to be rare. I tend to prefer newer construction, since, again, not that handy.

We've really enjoyed living downtown - we don't even own a car - but we know having two kids will mean changes and, again, there just doesn't seem to be anything that fits us, so we're willing to consider the east side, though man, talk about changes.

-New Mom
Josh Hayes said…
Hi New Mom,

I'm a high school teacher over in Redmond right now, but I have a couple of years worth of experience in SPS as well. My son graduated from Ingraham last year with an IB diploma and after a year to catch his breath is heading off to Evergreen this fall. My daughter, also at IHS, has elected to go the Running Start route, starting next year. Both kids were products of what was called the "alternative schools" pathway, which are now called "option schools", and I'm a big fan. In this district, I'm most familiar with the central to north-end schools, and I have a lot of admiration for both Hazel Wolf K-8 (moving into their new building this Fall, right? Or is it Fall 2017?) and tiny but potent Licton Springs K-8, moving into the Licton Springs schools the year after that. Smallish classes, broad-ranging curriculum, lotsa teacher autonomy, happy challenged kids. I've done a little sub work at Orca K-8 and liked it a lot as well, and of course NOVA is a great option high school.

I really don't know the elementary schools over in Lake Washington SD, which spans Redmond, Kirkland, and Sammamish. So far as I can tell, all the high schools range from good to amazing, and all the teachers I've met at my own school (Redmond HS) are almost absurdly dedicated to the job. Actually, the same thing is true at every school I've taught at, mostly at Roosevelt and Ingraham. Very dedicated teachers, and administrators who do their best to provide a bulwark between downtown's heavy-handedness and the work that needs to happen in the classroom. You'll notice as you read this blog that the vast majority of complaints are about "downtown", and not particular teachers and schools (there are exceptions, of course); really, I think on balance the local schools are pretty good. Feel free to email directly if you have questions I can answer: josh dot hayes at q dot com. Best of luck.
Josh Hayes said…
And while I'm at it, let me add a story. I did my internship teaching at Roosevelt two years ago. Because of my program, I was there the entire school year. I came to know my students well, and I cared (and still do!) about each and every one of them. So I went to the RHS graduation last night and cheered for every one of my students, to the point where people around me were giving me funny looks - this weirdo has cheered for over a hundred students! What's up with that?

The hope that wells up in me when I see them head off into life is a feeling like no other. It's why I do this job, and why I plan to keep doing it until they make me stop. I am so proud of what those kids have done, and I am thrilled when I think about all they WILL do. What a joyous time of year this is.
Maureen said…
I want to return to the theme of gratitude. My second and last child (I can call them that, right?!) graduated from Ingraham last night. I was struck by the number of students who stopped and hugged a teacher (or two or three or....ten) on their way out of the ceremony through the gauntlet of staff. My, decidedly not math focused, kid was sincerely upset that she was swept past Mr. Rice and didn't get a chance to hug him. I will never be able to begin to thank all of the SPS teachers my kids have been privileged to learn from.

But, if any of A and N's teachers (TOPS 1999-2012, RHS 2008-2012, IHS 20012-2016) are reading, please know that I am very aware that you helped make them into the truly wonderful young adults that they are and contributed to that in a way that their dad and I never could have.

Thank you.
Anonymous said…
Lots of IB students are grateful they received a distinctly better education than the general ed students, thanks to all the parents who personally funded and supplemented this quasi public school education and of coarse those who taught it.

Manfred III
Michael Rice said…
Maureen wrote: My, decidedly not math focused, kid was sincerely upset that she was swept past Mr. Rice and didn't get a chance to hug him.

No worries. I found her after and I got my hug. I am already missing her and all of her friends who I had the chance to teach over the past four years. They ate lunch outside my room every day and use my microwave to heat lunch up.
Maureen said…
Manfred III, Parents do not fund IB any more than they do Gen Ed and Special Ed. I invite you to examine the list of grants which Friends of Ingraham has funded over the years. You will see that parent dollars go to all of the school's programs, and, in fact, IB is less likely to receive grant funding than Special Ed and general academic and extracurricular programs.

It is true that IB exam costs are borne by families of IB students, but FRL eligible students are not charged for exams and other students who are in need can have the costs covered by a private foundation established by the family of an IHS IB alum who died soon after graduation.

IB classes are open to any student who wants to sign up.

I think my kid did get a great education through IB, but it isn't for everyone. I didn't consider it for my older child.
seattle citizen said…
Josh! Congrats on your kids' successes, and as a geoduck I'm happy that one chose Evergreen! Omnia extares! Truly one of the best schools in the country, but then I'm biased....

(That's so cool that you cheered every kid at RHS! You rock.)

Have a great summer!
Josh Hayes said…
Thanks, seattle citizen! It is a bittersweet time, of course, when this kid becomes a (sort of) grownup and walks away. Tempus fugit.

As for the cheering, I'll be at Ingraham's graduation next year for THAT batch of kids I taught. I'll be the one cheering like a maniac. You can't miss me.

Friends, it's okay to acknowledge flaws, and things that are going wrong, but come on. A relentless determination to see the cloud behind every silver lining saps life of any chance at joy. Worry, but not too worried. Vigilance, but not too vigilant. Moderation in all things, friends.
Jet City mom said…
I attended schools in the LWHS district in the mid 60's-mid 70's. They do seem more responsive as a district, and I expect in general they may have more parental participation than in Seattle, but still a lot of challenges for the teachers and students, especially what I hear, in Redmond.
( I attended LWHS & B.ES.T, and before that Rose Hill & Ben Franklin elementary, during its first two years. That was a good school, albeit we did not have a gym or cafeteria while I was there. ( or an art/music room, or a full time librarian...) even though it was before IDEA, the principal drove me and another student to the district headquarters for testing, although I dont know what results were. There was no enrichment or special assistance in those days. Or parent volunteers that I can remember actually. Teachers really had their hands full.

You have my awe & appreciation, Josh, as do all teachers who are active advocates for their students.

Evergreen was my oldests top choice while she was growing up, we know quite a few very successful grads and know they have some wonderful instructors.
( she actually ended up at Reed college that is similar in a lot of ways, but it has a bit more structure, which she decided she wanted. But I still wear my Evergreen sweatshirt that I bought during a visit- I hesitate to mention Reed because it is very expensive, but at the time, our cost was similar to Evergreen as they meet full need)

My husband & I lived in Bellevue when our oldest was born, although we both worked in Seattle and we wanted to lessen commute time.
If your child doesnt have special needs, and you have time and energy to be involved in their school, I would say chose where you want to live & work, rather than by the neighborhood school.
But if they do have special needs, my sister is OK with Bellevue, although she did homeschool at least one of her kids for a while. ( she has five, youngest is still in elementary)
Anonymous said…
New Mom, I think if I was truly starting from scratch right now, I would probably try the east side. The kids who are in or finishing high school now in Seattle have had a really good education, not without its challenges, but solid. For the kids in the younger grade bands, the district has some significant challenges (many capacity based, and unfortunately somewhat self inflicted), and the average quality of education has dropped. Bigger classes, fewer field trips, more unhelpful and time consuming testing mandates, much less in the way of walk-tos for any child not right in the middle. It may be about to go back up (hey, McCleary!), but it's a rocky road ahead and we just don't know. It also might get worse, and Seattle may lose a lot of money. All the neighboring districts are facing similar challenges due to our area growth and pretty messed up funding system, but it's more acute in Seattle. I'd also worry considerably about a child just starting Seattle now if you suspect they may be advanced, as the district has recently narrowed its offerings for advanced kids(or rather, passively allowed schools to stop offering anything), and there is much more animosity toward advanced learning in SPS than neighboring districts. Kids in the middle or slightly behind do pretty great, but it has gotten a touch greyer lately.

I don't mean to be too negative, and I do think it is possible to get a great education in Seattle (as you can see we have some wonderfully dedicated teachers!), and there are many great people working very hard to make sure every child in Seattle is able to. But it's a little tougher, and relies on considerably more luck.

Anonymous said…
@ Josh, it sounds like you're a strong supporter of your students, which is great to see. Thank you. I'd like to point out, however, that although it may look to teachers and outsiders that some parents exhibit a "relentless determination to see the cloud behind every silver lining," in reality it often doesn't take a lot of effort at all to see the clouds--they are dark and ominous and nearly always present. Silver linings are hard to see when your well-behaved, very smart kid absolutely hates school, says it's so boring it causes physical pain, when they are so miserable they cry in bed at the thought of having to go to school the next day, and when they feel sick nearly every morning. Yes, I'm sure there are some amazing things going on in some places, and that there are some amazing teachers out there. But what we have now if NOT working for all students, and it's the parents who see the damage that's being done, since we get to see our children up close and personal, when their defenses are down and the game face they put on for their teachers is on the shelf. It's easy to say "things aren't so bad" when you have a limited window into how things are. I wish there were a way to know if there are certain types of kids who are more miserable in SPS. Anecdotally, most parents I've spoken to whose kids are in similarly bad places are those whose kids are very highly gifted and/or have special needs/learning disabilities. But maybe the clouds are evenly distributed, I don't know.

Gray Daze
Lynn said…
Gray Daze,

You're describing the experience of my child who is highly gifted and has special needs. I don't think the clouds are evenly distributed.
Anonymous said…
I have a question about High School PE requirements. Is it possible for an incoming student (rising 10th grader) to do some of the required hours during the summertime before the school year or will he have to wait until school starts in September to clock them?

If it helps, he's transferring from out-of-state. At his old private school (religious), PE was optional (and he didn't take it in 9th grade). He'd like to take music and a language if at all possible and get a PE waiver.


New Here
Anonymous said…
New Here,

There is a district policy, but in my experience each school does things a little differently. Most, I believe, require the waiver to be earned during the school year. Some schools will give an academic waiver if all periods are used for academics or music. Some schools will count marching band. I would call the school to ask.

-HS Parent
Lynn said…
Which school will he be attending? Every principal makes their own rules about PE credit.
Anonymous said…
All City Marching Band (during the summer) can qualify for PE credit.

(starts next week)

Anonymous said…
Thanks for the help.
I'll call the school directly since there was nothing on their website.

New Here
Jet City mom said…
My kid was on school sports teams that gave her enough hours to count as a PE waiver.
Stiill was time consuming( although she would have been on the teams anyway), but it freed up a slot for academics.
Anonymous said…
Can't believe someone invited one of the nutty Mann building occupiers to be the keynote speaker at Garfield's graduation.

Not cool
Not Cool, who was that?
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
I think Hale had Scott Pinkham as the commencement speaker. Most of the speakers were students.

Maureen said…
At Ingraham the senior class president and the valedictorian gave excellent speeches as did the LA teacher the seniors had voted to have speak. That was it for speeches. The whole thing, including calling all of the names and handing out all of the diplomas took precisely 58 minutes, centered precisely within the 118 minutes of no rain that day. Principal Martin Floe runs a tight ship! The kids running the gauntlet of hugs on their way out of the football field took a bit longer!
Maureen, I know. I was amazed at both my sons' graduations (Hale and Roosevelt) how snappy everything got done. Kudos to those high school staffs!

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