Friday Open Thread

Happy Birthday to the National Parks Service on their 100th.  Free admission to all national parks thru Sunday, August 28th.

A lot of news about schools around Puget Sound.

Puyallup School District had a fire at their bus barn and lost 24 buses, most of them new and most a total loss.  There is worry they would be able to open but other districts have rallied to help them.  No word yet if SPS is participating. 

Read more here:

As well, over in Wenatchee, their district is likely to convert an old Federal building for school use.  (Sounds familiar.)  It sounds like their efforts may be more successful than Seattle Schools'.

Meanwhile in Bothell, a high school shop teacher who claimed earlier this year that he had been attacked in his classroom by someone has now confessed he made it all up.  School had to be cancelled the day after the "attack" and they brought in extra security for the rest of the week.  The teacher is now on paid administrative leave.  Very odd.

GoFundMe has a PTA exclusive:
For Back-to-School week, giving communities across the country the chance to rally around their children and make every classroom a great place to learn and grow.

Start an education campaign by Sept. 16 and GoFundMe will chip in $50 and put you in the running for a $10,000 classroom prize.

It takes a village, so we encourage you to start campaigns for teachers and classrooms that you love—and ask friends, neighbors and other parents to do the same.
Ever see something both terrible and beautiful?  There's a child in Oregon whose family car had been having problems so he was late to school one day.  If students are late, this school gives them detention.  The problem - and go see the photo - is that the detention is during lunch.  Behind a cardboard screen.  (All that's not there is a dunce cap. Oh wait, there in the corner of the photo is a plastic cup with a "D" on it for detention.)  The photo of the boy, peering around the corner to see what everyone else is doing, is heartbreaking.

Luckily his community rallied around the family, got the car fixed and the boy, Hunter, has never been late again.  I'm not sure I get how shaming a child is the right way to get him to school on time.

 ORCA Youth card application will be available soon.  
To be eligible, high school students must live in a household that is within the income thresholds listed in the table (same income requirement as ORCA LIFT). The program will distribute 3,000 ORCA cards for the 2016 - 2017 school year. Cards will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To receive an ORCA card under this program, a student will need to fill out the application and get a parent/legal guardian's signature. SDOT staff will host events at each high school in early fall to accept applications and distribute ORCA cards.
 What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Nice commentary ( on the initial success of Rainier Prep on the SBAC assessment. Glad to see the principal acknowledging the hard work of Highline School District teachers. It is only one year, but might be worth trying to understand what is going on there.

Agnostic Educator
Well, I'd have to examine the data and, as they note, it's preliminary. But what was the real issue? The Times seems to want to get the latest lawsuit to go away. It's not.

I cannot understand their belief that charters are good = the law is legal. Those are two different things (and the former isn't even true across the board.)
Anonymous said…
What the Seattle Times article does not say is the cost to the Highline school district that Rainier Prep has incurred. The Highline district did not collect $800,000 in local levy monies that would have otherwise come in should the students stayed enrolled in the district. It did not collect the BEA resources. Yet it had to operate schools at the same cost with empty desks and empty classrooms but with lower revenue.

This is the real crisis of charter schools. The Highline School district is a poor district. They cannot afford the costs of charter schools.

Charter school opponent
Tacoma is in the same place and they have expressed their unhappiness that there is no cap to the number of charters that can open in a single district.

This is also an issue that could come to haunt Spokane. They have this secret handshake with the Charter Commission that the Commission won't open any charters in their district (since Spokane is an authorizer.) Problem is, that's not in the law (it wasn't in the last one nor did it get discussed during the legislative process.) If someone wants to go thru the Charter Commission to open a charter in Spokane, it would probably be legal and this idea that Spokane controls its destiny with charters wouldn't be entirely true.
Liza Rankin said…
The shop teacher made up being attacked!? Wow.
Anonymous said…
Local levy funding will not follow students to charter schools, under the revised law.

State funding does follow students, of course, which is a concern for districts. However, for a district the size of Highline's, with an annual budget in excess of $250 million, one charter school should not make much of a dent.

SDD, charter supporters are VERY actively working to change that. They would like access to those dollars.
Ms206 said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ms206 said…
Charter school opponent, You hit the nail on the head. The issues that Highline SD is experiencing have been taking place on a larger scale in Philadelphia, PA where I teach. People need to keep fighting back against charter school expansion in WA, especially since charter schools are so new in WA. Charter school opponents should prepare to dig in their heels and expect to be fighting charter schools for many years in the future. I think that the opposition to charter schools is going to have to be ongoing in order to be effective.

Here in PA, where charters have existed since 1998, many poor districts such as York, Chester, and Philadelphia are close to bankruptcy, and charter schools are a major cause of the financial problems.
Anonymous said…
Not make much of a dent? Do you have children in Highline? Would you like to send your children to schools where teachers are so angry they are leaving in large numbers? Over 200 left this past school year. Those dollars are needed to add staffing to schools to fund all the unfunded mandates. There is very little we can do to stop other charters from opening up to further drain the system. The only way to stop them is the law suit. Here is the situation at Highline High School:

The school district could have used this $800,000 it did not collect.

Charter School opponent

Anonymous said…
This listing here suggests there are more than 80 charter schools operating in Philadelphia:

That's in obvious, stark contrast to the WA law that authorizes no more than 40 across the entire state.

And though it's not particularly relevant to the discussion here, Philadelphia's issues long predate the advent of charter schools.

Yes, I have been meaning to write about Highline because of the large numbers of teachers they are losing(for whatever reason.) As well, they tried what Garfield is trying with Honors for All.

The point is SDD, a point that I make to the Charter Commission all the time, is that we do NOT want all the issues that other states have to come to our state. Districts losing money is one we cannot prevent but the fraud, the mismanagement of public dollars, the fly-by-night charters - that we can prevent.
Anonymous said…
So, charter school opponent, should St. Bernadette, St. Francis, and Kennedy High School be forced to close too because Highline School District does not receive BEA for the students enrolled in these Catholic schools? It's the same argument.

Why aren't you arguing that Highline can't afford Catholic schools?

Melissa, what about Annie Wright School and Charles Wright Academy? Why aren't you railing against them? Should there be a cap on the number of private schools opening in a single district? Why not cap homeschooling numbers?

None of these students --- those attending private and Catholic schools and those receiving home-based instruction --- allow the local school district to claim state apportionment. Where's the outcry?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark and it ain't charter schools --- it's the hypocrisy of wealthy, white parents demanding that schools that primarily serve low-income children of color be closed.

Anonymous said…
Huh? The private and Catholic schools aren't asking for any of our tax dollars, and they never have. They're not an issue in this discussion. They have nothing to do with this. What point are you trying to make?

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
Ivan, did you bother reading the other comments. These folks were talking about the "real crisis" of charter schools being that students enrolling in charter schools takes state apportionment away from public school districts. I kept my comments to that issue.

What point are you trying to make?

Anonymous said…
Yeah, I read the other comments. The charter schools, unlike the Catholic and private schools, DO take taxpayer money from the public school districts. So why bring Catholic and private schools into the discussion at all?

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
Ah, I see, you are confused, Ivan. Charter schools DO NOT take any money away from public schools. Each student enrolled in public schools receive their share of state apportionment. The presence of charter schools does not reduce that state apportionment in any way. BEA plus any categorical funding those enrolled in public schools generate is an entitlement. It can't be reduced. Therefore, your statement that charter schools DO take taxpayer money from the public school districts is inaccurate.

Glad I could help you clear up your confusion.

Private schools don't get public dollars. That would be the difference. As for the rant, about
"it's the hypocrisy of wealthy, white parents demanding that schools that primarily serve low-income children of color be closed."

You'd need to explain to me how you know that, Bill.

I'm not asking that they be closed; I want a constitutional law and this one isn't either.
Anonymous said…
It would probably be helpful to this discussion to take a look at Highline's most recent budget, found here:

Total Revenues
2013 - 208,136,603 (actual)
2014 - 227,481,064 (budgeted)
2015 - 251,385,031 (budgeted)

K-12 FTEs
2013 - 18,619.05 (actual)
2014 - 18,796.35 (budgeted)
2015 - 19,095.00 (budgeted)

Per-pupil revenue
2013 - $11,178 (actual)
2014 - $12,102 (budgeted)
2015 - $13,164 (budgeted)

It's simply not the case that $800,000 would be transformative in that budget environment. That isn't to say that schools don't need more money or that a different pattern of facts (more charters / smaller district) would yield the same point.


Anonymous said…
Bill, that's an absurd linguistic game to play. This discussion/debate is far better had without either the hysteria or pretending there's no impact at all on existing schools.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, as I explained to Ivan, the fact that private schools don't get public dollars has no effect whatsoever on state apportionment amounts provided to public school districts. That's not an issue.

The point being made by you (and charter school opponent) was about the loss of enrolled students and the loss therefore of the BEA+ those student generated in they were still enrolled in public schools.

As I'm sure you know, thousands of SPS students enroll in private middle schools after they were enrolled in SPS elementary schools. The SPS middle schools lose their BEA+ when this happens. It's the same argument. So, again, why aren't you railing agaist Billings Middle School?


P.S. I'll get back to you about stats on the demographics of charter school opponents and the demographics of charter school families and students. I'm pretty sure you are aware of these data. I'll post some links in a bit.
Anonymous said…
SDD, I'm saying --- given your point --- that the impact is the same. Public schools lose apportionment when (former) students enroll in private schools, parochial schools, homeschools, AND charter schools.

So, again, why don't you note the loss of apportionment and the impact on district budgets when students leave for private and parochial schools?


P.S. And families of color pointing out hypocrisy is not hysteria. Check yourself.
Anonymous said…
You're not the hysterical one.

A new charter school opening causes budget issues because it's so sudden. The district wakes up tomorrow and suddenly it's got a big hole in a budget that's already not large enough to cover everything needed. Some of that hole is filled by reducing the teaching force to accommodate the smaller enrollment, but most of it isn't.

Over time, a new equilibrium is reached, but in the mean time it could mean deferring investments in things like curriculum or maintenance. It's not an insoluble challenge for most districts, but it is a real one.

Anonymous said…
Thanks, SDD, for some rational explanation. And I will concede your point, but only so far. Both the charter school commission and the charter school association share the planned openings of charter schools years in advance. Did the school districts not plan for these? They do budget yearly, do they not?

There are plans to open additional charter schools in Seattle and Tacoma in the next couple of years. I'm really hoping the budget writers and boards in these districts are planning enrollment projections (and thus budgets) accordingly, so that the districts don't wake up tomorrow and suddenly have to adjust their budgets.

Anonymous said…
Bill, yes, although the current legal environment has made planning for the exact date of charter operation a bit of a challenge :)

Context matters a lot here. In a growing district with preexisting capacity issues, a charter opening shouldn't cause much budget disruption. It might even take some pressure off existing facilities.

It's a different story in a stable/shrinking and smaller district. There's already not enough money to go around, so what do you do? Not buy a needed curriculum? Defer bus purchases and mess up your depreciation schedule?

At the end of the day, this isn't the right discussion. What really matters most is if the charter offers a model and the people that will help boost the achievement of the kids who attend it. Everything else is secondary.

Anonymous said…

For the record, I'm not one bit "confused," and you haven't "cleared up" anything for me.

-- Ivan Weiss
Bill, the districts have very little to go on for charters to budget. There is NO way to know how many kids from what district will go to which charter. Three of the charters have put off (wisely, I think) opening this fall and will open next fall. You might be able to gauge some of it but I don't think most districts would do it.

Also, that idea that it doesn't hurt districts when students leave? Long ago debunked.

We have discussed at this blog - for years - the effect of the long-time enrollment of students in private schools. When the district was hurting for students, I advocated some marketing. But it's simply not the same issue as students who are current students in a district leaving for another "public" school.
Anonymous said…
My goodness, that's a big portable in the Roosevelt HS parking lot. I hadn't been up 12th in a while, and it was a surprise to see it.

Roosevelt Dad
Yes, I believe that Hamilton has at least one new portable as well.
Joe Wolf said…
Re. portables

Two classroom portables at Roosevelt. Two classrooms in the main building have been outfitted for science instruction.

Four classroom portables at Hamilton.


Photo album (24 images) of the new Hazel Wolf campus:
Anonymous said…
I hear it's getting more and more difficult to get in to Hazel Wolf. They need one more STEM school in the NE, one more in the NW, and at least one new international elementary school in the NE. Maybe merge Sandpoint with Laurelhurst so the don't have to pull kids out of Bryant midstream, then turn Sandpoint into an amazing option school!! The old Thorton Creek building!!!

More Options
Carol Simmons said…
In my opinion, the School Board meeting had good moments and important discussions.

I would like to commend a few Directors who spoke to the Racial Imbalance item and offered courageous comments about neighborhood school assignments and boundaries.

Thank you to Superintendent Nyland for making a positive and accurate comment/observation about Desegregation.

Also, thank you to Directors Harris and Pinkham regarding the Duwamish conversation and as always the important testimony by Chris Jackins.

Now, why won't the Board resume the Seattle Public Schools Data Profile Document that was discontinued in 2012 and was so necessary to community. Requesting data through public records is not a satisfactory method to obtain data.
Anonymous said…
Small rant about the latest SPS calendar - it's so small (two months per page instead of one). The free calendar has been greatly appreciated in our house and gets a prominent spot on our fridge as the family scheduler, but not this year.

-oh well
Highline's Mess said…

Susan Enfield served s Seattle's Interim Superintendent. With the support of the Seattle Foundation, she tried to bring us TfA and there was not a teacher shortage. She seems to have tight connections with the Gates Foundation.

Highline was among the first districts to decrease suspensions and some call the process "chaotic".

Highline has lost a lot of teachers and one teacher has spoken-out:

"Former Highline High School teacher Jasmine Kettler has forcefully condemned the “out of school suspension policy” that has been cited by Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield as one solution to improving the school district’s low graduation rate"

“I understand keeping kids in school,” Kettler wrote. “I really, really do, but the manner in which we are approaching strategic goals is alarming, at best, when dealing with behavior. Schools (and school districts) make up a mock society. Violence is rampant and behavior management is non-existent within our school community.”

KIRO 7 did a story on the issue:

Adopting policy is one thing, but implementation is another.
seattle citizen said…
Bill, it's not just wealthy whites opposed to charters. The NAACP and BLM also recently took stances against them.

Oh, and if, as you claim, charters primarily serve children of color, one has to ask why? If charters are so good, why aren't they evenly distributed? Oh, that's right, only charters run by whites have that special je ne sais quoi, that magic pixie dust to help people of color...

; )

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