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:

This fall, the district will launch SchoolMessenger’s InfoCenter, a resource that allows families to control and customize how they receive communications from the school or district. 
By default, all families will be automatically enrolled to receive all messages from the school/district and will have to update their preferences to opt-out of the communication. This will enable schools to utilize phone calls for non-emergency related issues, while also providing families with an easy way to opt-out of receiving non-emergency calls – if they so choose.
Thought-provoking review of a new book on low-income learners, "Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why,” by journalist Paul Tough from the Washington Post.

From the Seattle Medium, a story about Real Life 101, a Detroit non-profit group that provides college scholarships for inner city African American males graduating from high school and our local winners.
As a result of the 100 Black men gathering that took place in February at Southshore Pre-K – 8 School in Seattle, all 10 scholarship recipients are African Americans males who previously attended Southshore.  Each student will receive a $10,000 scholarship (payable at $2,000 per year for up to five years), a new laptop computer fully loaded with software, and a computer backpack. In addition, each student will be paired with a Certified Real Life Mentor while in the program.
UW has summer catering jobs for high school students if your student is still searching.

Good tips for parents to protect your children if you visit crowded areas this summer (beaches, theme parks, etc.) 

Heads up to protect your family's dog from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms about allowing your dog to pick up stray balls in public parks.  From Seattle DogSpot:
Abandoned tennis balls they find could be small bombs powerful enough to maim or kill both people and dogs.
A tennis ball bomb is very easy to identify. It is a real tennis ball that has some sort of fuse sticking out of it. The tennis ball could also be completely wrapped in duct tape with a fuse sticking out.”
What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
More details on Garfield's decision about 9th grade honors.

It seems that the classes for 9th grade SS and LA will be honors only or honors option. Regardless, there will a range of students from remedial to HC.

Other schools, notably Hale, offer honors as an option in the same fashion.

Although it might seem scary to some HCC parents to find their kids facing 9th grade classrooms that are not self-contained(having grade level or below students in them), they should make an effort to be positive and try to make it work as well as possible for all students, remembering we are one community, Seattle Public Schools.

watching crane

Anonymous said…
I think that 9th grade families going to Garfield should be allowed the option to leave the school if they would like to choose their neighborhood school or maybe Ingraham if their school is like Hale and Garfield is switching to, not serving advanced students for their 9th grade year. What the families are facing is their kids not being served in humanities in 9th grade. In order to enter hcc, you have to have first tried "differentiated" classrooms. If they worked, families would keep their kids in them.

SPS Mom said…
I think I understand what they are doing then, if they are offering both honors only and honors option classes.... They will likely put as many HCC kids into the honors only sections, but if there aren't enough honors only spaces in those sections (or if an honors only section doesn't work in a particular student's schedule), it gives them the latitude to put them in an honors option section - and offer sections of more equal size. Just a guess.
Anonymous said…
watching crane, you make it sound like parents should put aside their kids' needs and not worry about whether they're getting a good education in order to prioritize instead that "we're one community." That's not right. Garfield's experiment could actually work pretty well, but only if all kids get the education they need. What everyone is saying though is that not only is that not important, this is actually designed to take those uppity HCC kids and their parents down a peg and teach them a lesson, rather than actually ensuring everyone's needs are met. Doesn't inspire confidence in what Garfield is doing.

Non-HCC Parent
Anonymous said…
SPS Mom -

This was posted on the Discuss APP blog this morning, by the outgoing president of the GHS PTSA. They are only offering one class, whatever you might want to call it. It will be mixed remedial, grade level and HCC. .

I am the outgoing PTSA President at Garfield. I am not speaking for the PTSA here.

1. This is unrelated to funding. This is a teacher-led initiative that is aimed at closing the achievement gap and integrating the classrooms (their words, not mine).
2. Their proposal is to fully integrate remedial, core and honors in the same sections for all 9th grade LA and SS students beginning this fall.
3. They believe that they can effectively differentiate in a 30+ student class across that spectrum and deliver better educational outcomes from the start

We have met with them twice, and they have provided no more detail to us than I have provided here. We have asked them many questions about curriculum, standards, readiness/professional development and gotten nothing more specific. There are no specific goals on student achievement and the school's documented improvement plan makes no mention of this as a strategy. As far as I can tell, there is no communication plan for families.

Most importantly, this is a huge change. Every parent has the right to hear what they are proposing, ask questions and provide feedback in advance. All families have the right to understand the school's approach before choosing schools and classes. Parents and teachers should be given the opportunity to be prepared for the changes this brings. This doesn't just affect HCC cohorts, it affects all families.

Garfield has one of the lowest family engagement satisfaction scores in the district climate study by the way.


Anonymous said…
this is actually designed to take those uppity HCC kids and their parents down a peg

Oh gosh, not everything is about them, really.

Non-HCC Too
Lynn said…
SPS Mom - by honors only they mean they will offer only one level of humanities classes and those classes will be labeled honors classes. This will apparently perform some magic on the mindset of students who will now realize they are capable of doing honors level work. All of Garfield's problems should be solved by the end of next year.
Anonymous said…
Non-HCC too, I agree with you that not everything is about those HCC kids. But this plan at Garfield sure does appear to be that way. The only thing Garfield teachers and staff and those who support this change are talking about is the HCC kids. Their sole justification as far as I can see is to attack the perceived privileges of the HCC kids. The information Scribe posted seems to confirm this. Literally the only thing that has been thought through here is how to put all kids in one classroom.

Again: this could be a really good thing for all the kids at Garfield. But for it to be good, it has to be well thought out, properly resourced, with assurances that every child, regardless of ability, will get the attention they need. After all, it's just as easy to ignore a kid who isn't reading at grade level in a blended classroom as it is in a tracked classroom. And so far, none of the defenders of this proposal have been able to explain how this is actually going to work. Which suggests to me they don't think they even have to figure it out. The theory here seems to be that merely putting all kids in one class will magically work out fine, because the quality of instruction children receive is no longer important.

Non-HCC parent
Lynn said…
watching crane,

Garfield has not offered self-contained HCC classes. This is not about self-contained classes. It's about allowing students to choose between grade level and more challenging courses depending on their interest in a particular subject. The program that works for a school with 7 highly capable freshman is likely different from what works for a school with 176 of them.

We are one community and that community should support the academic growth of all students. This proposal does not do that.

I am quite concerned something like this will be written into the principal's contract - which I suspect will be hidden from the public until the last possible moment - 5:00 on the Friday of a holiday weekend.
"They believe that they can effectively differentiate in a 30+ student class across that spectrum and deliver better educational outcomes from the start."

And bless them if they think they are ready and able to do this. I'll look forward to the reports on how that goes.

Lynn, the principals' contract has gotten bumped from next week's Board meeting and will be on the August agenda. We were told they could not reach agreement on all issues so are continuing on in their negotiations. It was interesting because the Board said they felt the public/community had the right to see the contract before the Board voted on it and staff was non-committal ("it's a personnel issue".)

Well of course it is and no one is asking to be at the table - we would just like adequate time to examine a contract for school leaders. I don't think that's really inappropriate and a couple of Board members said so. Extra eyes on a contract are not a bad thing.

And when people don't want you to see a contract until the last minute, you'd have to ask, "Why?"
Anonymous said…
This week a man showed up at Evans pool and wanted to use the women's changing room. The staff invited him to use the family room, but he insisted on using the women's and told the staff they where violating his rights.

The staff gave in to his demands and he proceeded into the women's changing room.

The man then strip naked and walked around the room exposing himself for 10 min. He was by all appearances all man, not women. After succeeding in clearing out the room he got dressed and left the building.

Many of the people including children where shocked and traumatized by the event.

Fair warning
Thanks Fair Warning, I think I may go hang out in the Evans dressing room. He cleared the room? I think some women staying behind and laughing would clear him from the room.
Josh Hayes said…
I'm hearing grousing from some of my former students about ORCA cards. Not surprisingly, the school-issued cards stop working when school gets out. This year, the cards continued working up through July 1, leading some students to hope that they'd keep on working, but today, they're done.

So here's my question. Is there some way to provide cards that continue to work for kids who are FRL? An awful lot of those kids have summer jobs and can't afford to pay the bus fare to and from work. What would this wind up costing the district to do?
Anonymous said…
Regarding the Evans dressing room.... I think I was told on this blog that I was fearful predicting the event that just happened. I guess realistic would have been a better accusation. Women are sometimes fearful for good reason. Realistically fearful. Appropriately fearful. This bathroom thing is a huge step backwards for women's safety, and girl's safety. I guess we will need an old crone laughing brigade at watch in every women's bathroom now.
Old crone? Is that really what you call older women?

I think this is just posturing and no one needs fear anyone.
Lynn said…

It's not a school-related cost so the district wouln't pay it - but the city could.
Maureen said…
I think I remember when the "everyone takes Metro" thing started being told that SPS gets no discount on student Metro passes--that they pay the market rate. I think that is shameful. At the very least, they should get 12 months of coverage for paying for the school year (and not just for FRL kids). How wasteful is it to have to keep reissuing cards for all of those kids every September for four or six years? And how great is it for Metro that SPS is creating life long riders and voters for their system?
Christina said…
I looked at the school's website and the District's website for FAQs but didn't see anything timely...

A book owned by the school my child just left has turned up in the Teen Hoarders' Prototype Annex of our house. Are all schools flat out closed/locked for the summer? How best to return the book this far into the summer?
I agree, Maureen. The City wants to help? This is a good way.

Christina, yes, the schools are closed (unless serving summer school students.). Hang onto the book until fall.
mirmac1 said…
We have yet another "Chief" at Seattle HQ. Wyeth Jessee has gotten that career move that he's been pushing for since applying for SpEd Exec Dir the first time in 2012. He is now Chief of Student Supports. What does that mean? Hell if I know but I'm guessing ELL, HCC, Mental Health, 504, SpEd etc etc. Scary.

Once again the Exec Dir for SpEd seat is open for the next ambitious sort.
Anonymous said…
Yes, Wyeth Jessee should get to tilt his windmills with the HCC too, a match made in heaven. Since he was able to (with a modicum of success)shut down parent advocacy in sped, the next group to tackle HCC as the biggest kahuna in parent/self advocacy.

Only question, does the executive director of sped now report to this phoney baloney?

Anonymous said…
What will a Chief of Student Supports do? It sounds like a job where you sit in front of a computer manipulating spreadsheets all day long, counting beans. The SPED community ought to be bracing itself for another bizarre hire.

Anonymous said…
So the Chief of Student Supports ... is above the executive directors and the education directors? What authority does this position have? I cannot find a job description.

Anonymous said…
Well speaking of bizarre in the world of Seattle Public Schools Special Education, the former Executive Director Marni Campbell is baaaaaaack! Middle school principal. What's next?

Thanks for this, Miramac1.

I find it odd that Jessee was in this meeting for the Executive Committee for the Whole and this announcement was not made. It would have made sense given the discussion.

And another senior position? And another one possibly coming (in the form of a director for the new black boys initiative.)
Anonymous said…
Ugh. What middle school will get to have Marni? I thought she was off to being a superintendent, or Jr. superintendent somewhere. Surely, middle school principal is a job far below her pay grade by now. We call that a demotion, where I come from. I doubt she'll swing at the exec director of sped though. That would be the height of humiliation. (And, Access would be doomed! She already killed off inclusion once. You can't be on the wrong side of history forever!)

Original Speddie (can't you pick your own moniker, Anonymous?)
Original Speddie, you're right; if Campbell's back and the Sped director position is open, she might just get drafted for that.
Anonymous said…
I believe she is the planning principal for Robert Eaglestaff-

I told everybody you didn't necessarily want a principal early. You might not like what you get. I hope I am very, very, very wrong, and she is actually excellent at starting a school and creating community with very diverse populations. I do think that is a different skill than day to day running a building.

Anonymous said…
According to the SPS job site there is also a new-to-be-hired "Chief of Curriculum & Instructional Support" - with a whopping salary range of $148,718.00 - $205,465.00 Annually -

seriously - potentially over $200,000 ???!!!

Job description:
The Chief of Curriculum and Instructional Support supervises and directs the day-to-day operations of the District's Curriculum and Instructional Support division, chairs and serves on District committees as directed by the Superintendent, assists in planning, development and implementation of Board Policies and Administrative Regulations; supervises and evaluates appropriate personnel staff; responsible for all staff members in Curriculum and Instructional Support and is a line administrator to all school sites.

The Chief of Curriculum and Instructional Support provides the District expertise and innovative leadership for all phases of department services, including professional development, standards, and assessments, as well as the development of a curriculum and instructional delivery service model for schools to ensure direct and system-wide services to students.

Reader 47, so we have Jessee moving to a newly created post and now this new post and, coming soon, probably a new director for the new African-American male student initiative. Plus there are three open positions in Communications.

Anyone who says JSCEE isn't getting bigger is just blowing smoke.
z said…
According to the SPS job site there is also a new-to-be-hired "Chief of Curriculum & Instructional Support" - with a whopping salary range of $148,718.00 - $205,465.00 Annually

Does anyone have a list of all the additional high-level (expensive) positions created over the past 2-3 years?

I have no problem with re-orgs and a few great people that draw large salaries. But what I'm wondering is how many other high-level positions were removed over the same period. Adding new positions like this repeatedly without removing an equal (or nearly equal) number is irresponsible. Anyone have enough data to take a stab at this?
Anonymous said…
z - I don't think such a list exists, though I suppose it's possible to create one - there are several other high level positions currently open

*Director of Human Resources Strategy and Operations Salary:$107,621.00 - $148,611.00
*Director of Professional Growth & Educator Support Salary: $90,505.00 - $124,997.00
*Executive Director of P-12 Schools - Salary: $112,694.00 - $155,626.00

Most recent org chart can find
2015-2015 Organizational Chart

z said…
Shouldn't it be easy for a Board Member to ask for a list of names/roles/salaries for all Executives and Directors for the past 4 or 5 years? It's all public information, so perhaps with some effort it could be gathered by a member of the pubic, but much easier to get from HR or payroll.

At that point you could sort them and put them side-by-side to see if or how much SPS has become overly top-heavy again.

It might be necessary to get data for one level below director (managers?), to account for staff movement, but again, these lists should be easy to generate. This would be yet another great task for a Board intern. I know this has come up in the past; is there a reason they don't yet have an intern?
Anonymous said…
z - such a product actually exists and is publicaly available - but only up to 2014/15 school year - release is always a year behind or so


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