Showing posts from July, 2016

National PTA Survey

The National PTA is currently conducting a survey of members.   It asks a few early questions about how members use PTA and then asks about what members know about "advocacy" work.

Personalized Learning; Part Two

To start, I'm not against using computers to aid in teaching and learning.  But there are huge costs and unknowns and because of the investment of time and finances for this endeavor, parents need to ask hard, hard questions about what this will look like for their child. I'm almost glad it took this long to get to Part Two because Data & Society put out a very good working paper about the topic: Personalized Learning: The Conversations We’re Not Having.  They start with this quote: The Promise of Personalized Learning “...if instead of having mass education as we now have, must have, with a curriculum, once we have outlets, computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries where anyone can ask any question and be given answers...then you ask, and you can find out, and you can follow it up, and you can do it in your own home, at your own speed, in your own direction, in your own time, then everyone will enjoy learning. Nowaday

Friday Open Thread

Charter school supporters, both within and out of Washington State, are pouring large sums of money into the races for Supreme Court justices via a Stand for Children PAC.  It's the usual suspects of Connie Ballmer (Steve's wife) and Reed Hastings (owner of Netflix and a huge charter supporter in California.)  This from the News Tribune:

The Times on Nyland; Still an Engima

The Times has a somewhat curious article on the Superintendent. For one thing, they make it sound like he's been here just a year but, at the end of August, 2016,  he will have been in SPS for two years.  (They say it's the end of his first full school year which is true but most people will not read that distinction.)

Who has the Authority to Make What Decisions?

Seattle Public Schools, as an institution, has a lot of issues around the scope of authority. There's a world of confusion about what a teacher can decide independently and what are the limits of that authority. What can a principal decide and what is the scope of a principal's authority? What falls inside and outside the limits of a BLT's authority? What decisions does an Executive Director of Schools have the authority to make? What about District Staff? Do they have any authority? Surely there are some decisions that are up to the Superintendent and some that are up to the Board, but what are they? The simple answer is that Board Policy and the Superintendent Procedures provide all of the answers to these questions. There is a clear answer in these governing documents that defines the scope of authority for each person. Granted, a lot of the policies and procedures are so poorly written that they are neither actionable nor enforceable. The real answer, however, i

Interview with Wyeth Jessee

I met with Wyeth Jessee last week (it was arranged thru Communications so there was a Communications person in the room who was not part of the conversation.)  He was the former head of Special Education and now, thru a realignment,  has a new role.

Family Engagement in Seattle Schools

Something I hope Seattle Schools keeps in mind.

Tuesday Open Thread

No meetings this week for SPS nor any director community meetings.

WikiLeaks DNC E-Mails: Avoid Common Core talk

Yeah, it's true. Actually the phrasing was : A) Common Core is a political third rail that we should not be touching at all. Get rid of it. Given that more states are pulling back by themselves, I think the Dems may not have to do much.  And, with King Trump, it would be gone "on day one." 

This and That

The Issaquah School Board voted to use eminent domain to acquire property for school use.  From The Issaquah Press: The Issaquah School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to use eminent domain to acquire the 40-acre Providence Heights College property as a site for a new high school and a new elementary school. A majority of the speakers pleaded with the board to repurpose the existing buildings. The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation included the campus on its 2016 list of the state’s seven most-endangered historic properties. State law permits school districts to use eminent domain to acquire private property as sites for schools. If a district and a landowner cannot agree on compensation, the matter goes to superior court. Stiffarm said the process, if it requires a trial, can take at least a year.   Interesting article from the Bellingham Herald about how many Democratic legislators are now running for open statewide seats (like state superintendent

Solving the School to Prison Pipeline Puzzle

A guest post from the Seattle City Attorney's E-newslettter by Darby DuComb.  Darcy is Deputy City Attorney for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and former Board Member of Page Ahead -, a children’s literacy organization in Washington State.

Yes, the Mayor DOES Want to Control Seattle Schools

I KNEW it. Dora Taylor (who is the main writer/moderator for Seattle Education blog) and I both write public education blogs. We write about different things (and that's a good thing for people in this region/state who care about public education.)  We sometimes disagree. But one thing we have agreed on is that Mayor Murray has plans to get the City a heck of a lot more involved with the direction of public education in this city.  And, he's not going to do so much via official lines of contact but thru many other methods. To wit, Dora's latest thread , Leaked email shows how Seattle Mayor Ed Murray plans to take over the school board In a letter sent to Mayor Murray from Regina Jones , who is now working for the Mayor’s office as an “executive on loan”, spells out how to take over the school board by “cultivating candidates to serve on the board” based on the success of two mayors in San Francisco and with the work of Hydra Mendoza because “As in Seattle, SFU

Advanced Learning Wants Your Input

I still have to do my write-up about my talk with Wyeth Jessee about his new role as head of Student Supports, overseeing AL, Special Education, ELL, counseling, nurses, etc.  One thing I will say now is that I asked him about changes in AL and he said he had just gotten the job (absolutely true) but it wouldn't happen without stakeholder input.  I reminded him that Spectrum disappeared like sugar dissolving in iced tea but he smiled and shrugged.  But now a reader has alerted us that the AL department wants our input.   Comments on the proposed DRAFT can be sent to with the subject line 2190SP. The proposed DRAFT will be reviewed by the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee at their meeting on Monday, August 15, 2017. Please send your comments in before July 31 to assure it will be reviewed prior to the meeting. There are a number of documents to read. 

Washington State History about Public Education

From Robert Cruickshank of Democracy for America this story from HistoryLink : History matters. This article tells the story of the so-called "Barefoot Schoolboy Act," passed in 1895. It was the first time the state of Washington attempted to fully fund our public schools, and it was thanks to the work of Populist progressive and future governor John Rogers. The article shows how the "paramount duty" language was created in the first place, and why it is so important that our state live up to that promise and fully fund our schools. This was one of the core promises made when Washington became a state. It is time the legislature followed in John Rogers' bold footsteps and once again ensured all public schools in this state, and every child in this state, gets a fully funded and equitable education.  From the article (some content will sound very of the minute to our current situation):

Friday Open Thread

Two stories about Garfield (neither about Honors for All.)  The first is from KOMO tv about a staffer at GHS, Joe Bland, who has been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer and how the school is rallying around him. Bland is a proud Seattle educator. For 26 years he’s been the locker room attendant at Garfield High School – at least, that’s his official title. Students would say he does much more.  Joe served several roles at the school. He was a disciplinarian who helped run Saturday detention. He also joked with students and gave guidance to those in need. His portrait is painted outside the locker room, where he’ll be missed this Fall. If you'd like to help, you can do so here . From the GHS PTSA Facebook page, this news:

Race in the Classroom

Here's an interesting article from the Chalkbeat blog.  It's an interview with Amy Stuart Wells, a Teachers College professor. For the first time in the nation’s history, the overall student population is now less than half white. And while many schools remain deeply segregated , others are growing more mixed as Asian, black, and Hispanic families move to the suburbs and whites settle in gentrifying urban neighborhoods. But there is a difference between diverse schools and ones that are integrated, says Amy Stuart Wells, a Teachers College professor who has long studied race and education. History has shown that seating students of different colors side by side isn’t enough — real integration requires schools to adopt inclusive curriculums, teachers to reflect on their own biases, and students to learn how to interact across race and class lines, she says.

Seattle Schools Loses in Court

From Soup for Teachers' Facebook page: Seattle public schools just lost an appeal by a student who sued after he was injured in an incident where another student assaulted him at Aki Kurose. New trial ordered. The case is from an incident in 2006.  Wow. The crux of the matter seems to be an instruction to the jury:

Updates on GHS "Honors for All"

Via our friends at the HCC blog ; Updated GHS page on Honors for All

What Did Don, Jr. Have to Say about Public Education?

Last night's Republican convention saw speeches from a couple of Trump's children (I'm not really watching; I let other people do that and report out.)  One of his children, Donald, Jr.,was attempting to introduce his dad as a fairly "aw shucks" kind of guy (which is puzzling given his father's professional persona on tv.)   But in his remarks he said this on public education: Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class, now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students. You know why other countries do better on K through 12? They let parents choose where to send their own children to school.

Dorn Determined to Go Out Fighting

Update: response from SPS Communications: In the McCleary versus Washington state ruling, the state Supreme Court directed the state Legislature to provide ample, equitable and dependable basic education funding. Because the state has failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to fully fund education, Superintendent Randy Dorn has brought a lawsuit against multiple school districts including Seattle Public Schools.

Tuesday Open Thread

Good news for people who travel with kids  (via the Washington Post) : After months of debate over the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, and at an apparent impasse over privatizing air traffic control, Congress has settled on a compromise — with some unexpected benefits for the average air traveler.  Among other things, it would also require airlines to seat families with children together without charging them more, accelerate the security screening process and issue prompt refunds for baggage fees when luggage is lost for more than 12 hours.

Presidential Candidates and Public Education: a Side-by-Side Comparison

As the Republican convention starts today in Cleveland, here are helpful charts from Ed Week on the stands of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on public education.   There are a couple of areas of gray for Mr. Trump because he either hasn't brought forth an opinion or, more likely, has no clue.

New Head of School and Community Partnerships at Seattle Schools

 Update: I was confused on Bernardo Ruiz' role versus what James Bush is doing.  Here's the helpful explanation from SPS Communications: James is replacing Carri Campbell’s open/former position. Bernardo is still here. His title is Director of School-Family Partnerships and Race and Equity. (The difference is Community vs. Family Partnerships.) End of update From SPS Communications: Seattle Public Schools (SPS) hired James Bush as the district’s School and Community Partnerships Director. In collaboration with community partners, Bush will lead the district’s efforts to build on the strengths of students, improve outcomes and provide enriching learning opportunities for all youth. SPS and the School and Community Partnerships staff are thrilled Bush has decided to join the SPS family.

HPV Vaccine; for Girls AND Boys

  Update : SPS did get back to me - the HPV vaccination is available at every health center in SPS.  Really good news. end of update I've noticed - in print and on tv - that the CDC is pushing the HPV vaccine with a new emphasis on the issues for boys as well as girls. Official handout from the CDC. Many people think the HPV vaccine only protects girls, but this vaccine protects boys against certain HPV-related cancers, too! Girls aren’t the only ones affected by HPV, also known as human papillomavirus.  HPV is common in both males and females. Every year, over 9,000 males are affected by cancers caused by HPV infections that don’t go away. HPV can cause cancers of the anus, mouth/throat (oropharynx), and penis in males.

Yes, America Just Doesn't Educate Kids Like They Used To

Diane Ravitch will report it (even if the mainstream media doesn't in any real way) via Daily Kos: Team USA has won the 2016 International Mathematics Olympiad Two Americans were among the six individuals to make perfect scores in the competition, along with three contestants from Korea and one from China. The individual results are here . This is a repeat of last year’s winning performance, which was considered a true breakthrough after 20 years without a win. 

Washington State Driver's License Test "Longer and Tougher"

From KING-5 news: The current tests consist of 25 questions. The new ones will be 40 and will now have story problems and include questions on distracted driving and marijuana impairment, two topics not on current exams. “If the person doesn’t read the guide, they’re definitely not going to be able to pass it,” said Pat Kohler, Director of the state’s Department of Licensing. Kohler said the current test’s passage rate ranges from 60-70 percent. She expects that number to drop when the state launches the new tests.

Friday Open Thread

Once again,  the end of the week and a massively horrific incident, this time in Nice .  Please send out good karma and prayers for all affected by this mass murder and by the people of France.  (I note that Dallas had lit up public buildings in blue for their slain officers and one building was done in the colors of the French flag.  Classy.) In the name of democracy , a good article from the Global Oneness Project, Five Habits to Heal the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer. If I were asked for two words to summarize the habits of the heart American citizens need in response to twenty-first-century conditions, I would chose chutzpah and humility. By chutzpah I mean knowing that I have a voice that needs to be heard and the right to speak it. By humility I mean accepting the fact that my truth is always partial and may not be true at all, so I need to listen with openness and respect, especially to "the other," as much as I need to speak my own voice with clarit

Seattle Schools Teacher Keeps Job Even Though He Left Students Alone on Field Trip

Update:   I did read the investigation.  Not good on any measure.  The number of times Mr. Gundle said something like "in hindsight" he might have done things differently is deeply disappointing.  The number of things done out of policy is deeply troubling.  That the other teacher on the trip - it was her first field trip - did not question or confirm many details on the trip, either before or during the trip, is concerning. It's astonishing that Gundle allowed someone's 19-year old boyfriend on the trip and left the kids without a group announcement (he says he talked to each kid separately), reminding them about the gender tent rule and allowed kids to drive other kids back to Seattle (one without a seatbelt.) And, once again, we have chaperones paying lip service to district policies on field trip.  I'm beginning to think that the district should have a moratorium on field trips; there are real safety issues here.

Dorn Says He Will File Lawsuit Against Districts

From the Everett Herald : Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn knows school districts use local levies to pay teachers and principals because they don’t get enough money from the state to offer competitive salaries. He is convinced it is illegal for them to do this.

Washington Supreme Court to State on McCleary; We Have Some Questions

The big news is a reply from the Supreme Court to the Legislature on McCleary. The 2017 legislative session presents the last opportunity for complying with the State's paramount duty under article IX, seciton 1, by 2018.  What remains to be done to achieve compliance is undeniably huge, but it is not undefinable.   

Answers Back from District on Garfield Honors for All

Update:   a new document from Garfield about the "Honors for All" plan.  They cite research: Our main goal is to create a richer honors curriculum that engages and benefits all ability levels. Studies over the past thirty years that note the detrimental effects of ability­level tracking are an indicator of the institutionalized racism that plagues our school system and adds to the opportunity gap. 

Things Heat Up on the Democratic Platform for 2016

 Update: this post from retired teacher/blogger Fred Klonsky puts it all in perspective. end of update And I'm talking about public education. There was much discussion about the platform's stand on public ed issues early on.  With Hillary Clinton waffling about charter schools (only "high-quality" ones), it was hard to say what would happen. But now wording has been tightened and it looks like the Democratic party has somewhat split the baby (but landed to the side of ed reform not controlled by corporate/philanthropic groups.) From the Washington Post's The Answer Sheet (blue is platform language):

Timely Education News

Update 2:  So there is more to flesh out here on Jones.  Here's what she said: I didn't use those exact words. What I did say is that often the parents of those students who are most impacted by lack of funding - poor, brown, recently immigrated - often don't have the same ability to advocate for their children, because they either don't speak the language or don't know their voices matter.

Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee Meeting June 13 2016

The Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee has a lot on their plate last month. Among the items for discussion: Changes in the Program Evaluation policy 2090 Changes in the Supports and Interventions policy 2163 Changes in the Superintendent's Procedures for Highly Capable Services & Advanced Learning Programs Nearly all of these changes are deeply flawed.

What are ALO? What is Spectrum? What is HCC?

Advanced Learning Opportunities have never been very well defined. The discontinuation of self-contained Spectrum classes at all elementary schools and some middle schools has muddled that program's definition. Now, with the "de-tracking" and the introduction of "Honors for All" in 9th grade ELA and Social Studies at Garfield, questions are arising about the definition of Highly Capable Services and the Highly Capable Cohort. So let's explore how these programs and services are defined by Board Policy and Superintendent Procedures and compare that language with the actual situations we find in schools.

Tuesday Open Thread

Time again for the Gumshoe Walk in the Greenwood neighborhood.  What's that? Now Gumshoe refers to the FUNdraising detective walk held every summer in Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods. Since the event began in 2006, it has raised over $43,000 for local non-profits. This year, all Gumshoe proceeds will be shared by the Greenwood Senior Center , Greenwood Elementary School PTA and Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church Food Bank . This event runs from August 5-14th.  Great story from NPR (via KPLU) about a one-on-one effort to save students in academic trouble. 

Be Careful Out There, Pokemon Fans

As parents, I'm sure it hasn't escaped your attention that there is a smartphone geo-caching type game from Pokemon called Pokemon GO  (I know many young adults, including two of my own, who are eager to play or have already.)

Seattle Times Keeps the Heat on Legislators

In yet another editorial , the Times keeps up the pressure on lawmakers to get McCleary done.  Now they are advocating for a mediator (someone like former Governor Christine Gregoire.) 

Seattle Schools This Week

No meetings being held; July is generally when tumbleweeds roll thru JSCEE. Director Blanford has cancelled his community meeting for next Saturday, July 16th.   However, Directors Patu and Harris still have their community meetings on that date. Patu - 10-11:30 am Caffe Vita, 5028 Wilson Ave S. Harris - 3:00-4:30 pm Southwest Branch, 9010 35th Ave. SW

"De-Tracking" on Track in SPS

The Times has an article this morning on "de-tracking" which is quite illuminating. First, the expert they site, Carol Burris, is the head of a group I belong to, the Network for Public Education. Carol Corbett Burris became Executive Director of the Network for Public Education Foundation in August 2015, after serving as principal of South Side High School in the Rockville Centre School District in NY since 2000.  Prior to becoming a principal, she was a teacher at both the middle and high school level.  Dr. Burris co-authored Detracking for Excellence and Equity (2008) and Opening the Common Core: How to Bring ALL Students to College and Career Readiness (2012), and authored On the Same Track: How Schools Can Join the 21st Century Struggle against Re-segregation (2014). She is one of the brightest lights in pushing back on corporate ed reform and a great thinker on public education. The Times' article cites her work in New York where she helped her distri

Friday Open Thread

Noting that the initiative to prevent use of bathrooms by transgendered people did not get the needed signature, this very good story from KUOW about a child in SPS who is transgendered and her mom. From the Huffington Post , an article about mistakes parents may be making in raising teenagers .  I agree with all of these.

City Pulling Back on Its Preschool Program

Update: I'm on the Mayor's e-mail list and got his latest newsletter .  What was the headline about the pre-k program? First year of preschool program a success, DEEL to increase per-child payments I'm not sure I would call it a success, given its many issues. The article gives a positive spin on nearly every issues like providers not signing up.  As well, it says: lowing providers who serve targeted populations to reserve a select number of spaces in their classroom to enroll on their own. - See more at: ...allowing providers who serve targeted populations to reserve a select number of spaces in their classroom to enroll on their own." Except, as the Times reported, those spaces could be filled by children from outside Seattle.  Whether or not there is room or a provider is near a city border is not the issue - the issu

AWARE: Mental Health Training to Help Students

From OPSI (not just for teachers and other professionals): Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) Increases awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth, including training in mental health for school personnel, families and community members. Project AWARE purpose, goals, approaches, interventions and outcomes:

Position Open on State Board of Education

FYI Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn will conduct an election in November 2016 for one position on the State Board of Education: Western Region Position 4. The position is a four-year term beginning the second Monday in January 2017.

BEX Oversight Committee Meeting Tomorrow

A heads up for tomorrow's BEX Oversight Committee meeting .  It will NOT be at JSCEE but is at the Genesee Hill School Library, 5013 SW Dakota St, from 8:30-10:30 am.  The meeting will be shortened in order for committee members to tour the building.  The public is allowed to come along. The agenda shows a project status review for the various BEX IV projects.   

Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile

Sometimes you see images that you know you can never erase from your brain.  Two that come to mind for me are ones  I saw this week. One is a woman talking about her dead husband who was shot as he lay pinned on the ground by police officers. But what I will remember is that, as she speaks, the dead man's 15-year old son sobbing for his father. Another is of a woman whose boyfriend was shot after being pulled over by a police officer for a broken tail-light.  The officer asked for ID and the boyfriend told the officer he had a licensed concealed weapon but was reaching for his wallet to get the ID.  The officer shot him. His girlfriend had a choice of trying to give aid to her boyfriend or film what would happen next.  She started filming. Her calm voice, her use of "sir" even as the officer yelled at her was a study in massive self-control.  I don't know how she did it. This has to stop.

Washington State Charter School Update

Update: as was noted by one commenter, the Times has an article in its Gates-funded Education Lab called, "You asked, we answered: What can charters do that other public schools can't." The article says charters have more flexibility and names these three items; 1. They have more control over whom they hire - and fire. 2. They answer to an appointed rather than an elected school board. 3. They are accountable to a charter authorizer rather than a school district, which allows them to define their own goals and metrics. On that last goal, they left out "define their own goals and metrics within the charter school law."  They don't get to just set whatever goals and metrics they want without guidance from the law and their authorizer.

In Advance of the Vote on the 2016-2017 Seattle Schools Budgets

I sent this e-mail to the School Board this morning:

What's Going On?

With apologies to Marvin Gaye but mercy, mercy me. Folks, we have two true trolls (they just randomly pop up with useless comments like whack-a-moles and I just quietly delete away.).

Tuesday Open Thread

Via Soup for Teachers, a thought-provoking piece from NPR from a new book, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, on raising bright kids .

Thurgood Marshall wants a change in HC policy

The principal of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School is asking the Board to change the policy that governs Highly Capable and Advanced Learning. She wants the Board to amend the policy to allow delivery methods other than self-contained classes for Social Studies among other changes. The principal has solicited support from the Thurgood Marshall community to lobby the Board to make the change. Here is her letter to the Thurgood Marshall community:

Seattle School Board's Lollapalooza of a Meeting Yesterday

Update:   a couple of corrections. Sue Peters is, of course, the Chair of the Audit&Finance Committee (which I attributed to Director Harris.)  Director Peters had asked Harris to chair the meeting since Peters was unable to be physically present. As well, I attributed a statement to Peters that was Geary's about how Director Blanford felt the $11M should be spent. end of update As I previously reported, the Board was having an Audit&Finance Committee Meeting of the Whole and then had an Executive Committee Meeting of the Whole and then a Work Session on the 2016-2017 Budget to figure out to do with this $11M underspend that was found.

Friday Open Thread

ACLU petition to the FCC on broadband internet service and your privacy .  Please consider signing. Very interesting Audit&Finance committee meeting/Executive Committee meeting/Work Session yesterday.  Updates to come. SchoolMessenger update from Seattle Schools :