Showing posts from December, 2016

Friday Open Thread

The last Open Thread of the year.   It will be a challenging year ahead but, if there were any evidence that the world should go on, look into your child's face.  Wishing you all a healthy, safe and yes, Happy New Year.  And, of course, go Huskies! Great opportunity for girls, 16-17 - Inspiring Girls Expeditions is offering free glaciology and marine programs next summer. The deadline for applications is January 31st.

Mumps Expanding Across Region;One Case at Nova

From Q13: New numbers show the mumps outbreak in King County has now spread to 108 cases, including one new case in a Seattle public school. The Public Health Department of Seattle & King County has confirmed a student who attends Nova High School has been diagnosed with mumps.

Helping Students Spot Fake News

Here's the link to this infographic.

Nyland Speaks Out About Seattle Schools' Deficit

Update: I note that the Times had this up on their front page webpage for just a couple of hours before it disappeared into their Op-Eds links. Hmm. end of update The op-ed in the Seattle Times is like many adminstrative missives; kind of bland, kind of vague and without much real strength behind it.

Looking Ahead (Nationally) - Part Two, Personalized Learning

I've already written several times about "personalized learning" (here's the latest post that I wrote.) But let's see how personalized learning will play out within a Trump administration. 

Tuesday Open Thread

Carrie Fisher, our Princess Leia, dead at 60.  I just watched a great documentary - Bright Lights - about her and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.  It was a fun and funny film about two women who lived their lives out loud.  Sad. Interesting story from NPR about whether software in classrooms can help save lives from teachers viewing what topics students searched for.

Looking Ahead (Nationally) - Part One

You'll notice I didn't say "looking forward" because honestly, I don't see much hope for public education for all students in this country, state and city.  Let's start with nationally. Trump won the Electoral College and is therefore elected president.  However, that win is clearly not a mandate when you consider that he received nearly 63 million votes to Hillary Clinton's nearly 66 million votes.  Add into her votes the ballots cast for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and others and you get to about 74 million people who voted against Trump. He has not even been sworn in and already there are many warning signs.  His background and actions tell us three important things.

Good Will Towards All

As we come upon different holidays, I want to wish everyone a safe, peaceful and happy time. The blog will be quiet for this weekend but, as promised, next week I will have posts on issues of "segregation," HCC, and 10,000 foot view of the district. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa (not to mention the just-passed Winter Solstice.

Naughty and Nice List 2016

On the subject of gift giving....

This and That

From Ed Week , New York State lifts disciplinary action against teachers who discuss test questions that the state has released. A reader asked about a threat at Ingraham High School in the cafeteria by a student with a backpack.  A staffer asked around and not a single student knows about this.  In this day of phones with cameras and social media, that would seem odd.  I'm thinking someone was trying to stir the pot here.  Don't do that. Last spring, Mayor Murray had his Education Summit.  I was there as were hundreds of other people.  He said this about homeless students in SPS (transcript from the Mayor's office, dated April 30, 2016):

What's Up With the Security Cameras at Washington Middle School?

So what's up with this story about Washington Middle School and security cameras in the cafeteria?  From the South Seattle Emerald : (In late November) the principal of Washington Middle School said she thought so, announcing the installation of “video surveillance throughout the school.”   “We intend to identify kids who do not fulfill their clean-up responsibilities,” said Principal Susan Follmer. “Who wants to sit at a crumb-ridden table?” In another e-mail Follmer said:

Stay Calm and Join the Resistance

Worried about what comes next for our country and public education?  Great uplifting words from the Gadfly on the Wall blog Why should we despair when we behold the glass menagerie of fools Trump has assembled to populate his administration? Glass breaks. Why despair when hearing the tired rhetoric of Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South coming out of his mouth? We defeated both! We can do so again. Yes, we don’t have any political party that supports us. So we’ll either take over the Democrats or build our own legislative network.   “Fate whispers to the warrior ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispers back ‘I am the storm.’ ” – unknown

Bellevue School District

A reader recently referenced the high PISA-like scores for students in Bellevue School District; I read about it in the Times via this article: If the Bellevue School District were a nation, its high-school students would rank among the top of the world’s developed nations on an influential international exam.

Fighting Trump's Ed Secretary Nominee

Update from Politico: Billionaire Betsy DeVos has been unabashed about using her wealth to advance her own agenda. “ We expect a return on our investment,” she once wrote about her family’s massive political contributions. After giving millions of dollars to politicians over the past two decades, she now heads into her Senate confirmation hearing for education secretary with a clear advantage: DeVos and her husband, Dick, have donated to the campaigns of 17 senators who will consider her nomination — four of whom sit on the Senate education committee that oversees the process. end of update Billionaire Betsy DeVos has been unabashed about using her wealth to advance her own agenda. “We expect a return on our investment,” she once wrote about her family’s massive political contributions. After giving millions of dollars to politicians over the past two decades, she now heads into her Senate confirmation hearing for

Tuesday Open Thread

I'm celebrating a child's birthday this week (I have grown men now.) One thing I always tell parents of boys; record that little boy voice because when puberty hits, it goes away.  I can still hear my older son's voice in my head but not my younger but hey, it's all on tape.  Whether with video or not, get some audio of your son's voice - you'll be glad you did.

UW 2017 History Lecture Series

This winter's lecture series on Equity&Difference has some good ones that could be useful in thinking about public education.  (Two of the early ones - Equity and Deeper Learning and White Privilege are already sold out.) Feb. 15th, Kane Hall at 7:30 pm Joy Williamson-Lott -   New Hurdles, Same Territory: How History Can Guide the Future of Education Many look to “the school” as the great equalizer, a meritocracy where equal opportunity is realized. For communities of color, this is often far from the truth. Throughout history, each time communities of color have made progress toward equal educational opportunity, a major societal pushback has caused the loss of gains that appeared won. Dr. Williamson-Lott looks to history to show how we can work toward real progress.

Overview Thoughts as We Come to the End of 2016

We don't need to have an expanded discussion here on these various issues but here's what I'll be writing about by the end of the year:

Friday Open Thread

The Governor has announced that he wants to have a new department, for Families, Children and Youth, to provide a streamlined, one-stop service agency for those citizens. This makes sense to me.  I think better outcomes, faster, for children in need is what we all want and this could be it.  From the News Tribune:

Friday memos are fun!

Another week, another Friday Memo . Read this to the end for the best part.

SPS Budget Crisis Meeting Open Thread

I did not attend the meeting at Ballard last night but please give us your thoughts/report if you did.  Here is a photo from Rep Gerry Pollet who was at the meeting:

Why I Have Little Respect for Bill Gates on Education

If this statement doesn't convince you, then I give up.  From The Hill : Bill Gates said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump ’s potential to bring innovation to the U.S. resembles that of President John F. Kennedy’s.   Gates, the billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist, told CNBC that Trump can lead the U.S. “through innovation” and compared Trump’s ideas to Kennedy’s expansion of the U.S. space program in the early 1960s.   “But in the same way President Kennedy talked about the space mission and got the country behind that, I think whether it’s education or stopping epidemics … [or] in this energy space, there can be a very upbeat message that [Trump’s] administration [is] going to organizing things, get rid of regulatory barriers, and have American leadership through innovation,” Gates said. There are no words for the words of Gates except that, well, it's business on parade.

Tuesday Open Thread

Finally, some good news for students with disabilities and ELL students who are taking the SAT.   Via the Washington Post:

Seattle Schools This Week, December 12-17, 2016

A very busy week before the holiday break next week.

Budget Deficit Revealed (Kinda)

I spoke at the School Board meeting on Wednesday.  One of my topics was the fact that in order to understand the raging budget deficit facing SPS, I was told to file a public disclosure request.  I pointed out to the Superintendent and Board that this was not transparency at its best and if they want support from the community, it might be useful to be open about the situation. This information  is not some state secret and, in fact, the finance/budgeting folks probably all know the numbers by heart.   To my surprise, I was sent this information by JoLynn Berge,Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance. Great but, once again, not specific enough (but, of course, that's by design.)  I'll first note the obvious for every single one of us adults - when creating a budget, you start with what money you DO have and what you owe/needed spending and THEN you see what is leftover for other things.  The district seemingly operates with what they WANT to do and then moves

Yay for Girl Scouts of Western Washington

If you have ever wondered about the difference between the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. I am very proud to have been a Brownie, Girl Scout and Cadette. Dear Girl Scouts,

New York Times Asking Kids: What Are Your Reactions to President-Elect Trumps Cabinet Appointments?

  New York Times: From George Washington’s presidency until today, the president of the United States has always had a cabinet, a group of close advisers who help him make decisions about how to run the country. Since winning the election, President-elect Donald J. Trump has named many of the individuals he will nominate to serve as members of his cabinet. Have you been following the news about Mr. Trump’s cabinet selections? What’s your reaction so far? Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Friday Open Thread

Interesting way to get kids to consider those less fortunate during the holiday season - the Christmas Cat of Iceland. So this blog has had lively discussions over tracking in music and athletics - China takes this a step too far.  From the NY Times:

Oh, those Friday Memos

Friday memos , the gift that keeps on giving.

Seattle School Board Meeting Tonight

Update 2: Sue Peters is the new School Board president.  VP is Leslie Harris and Member-at-Large is Scott Pinkham. End of update Update: Guess who is getting a raise?  Superintendent Nyland. He has generously offered to only take a COLA of 1.8% of his base salary of $289,878.75.  The BAR states that no public engagement was needed and that research had been done around other superintendents' salaries.  There is no such data attached to the BAR. This information was put up this afternoon, less than 24 hours before this BAR has intro/action.  That is completely wrong to put this up in this timeframe. Like this is an emergency or something. I cannot believe anyone can believe – with a straight face and that kind of salary –that you will have any support from the public or parents when you come and say that big cuts must be made to schools and personnel. To say I am aghast and disillusioned is putting it mildly. End of update  A couple of things to look for: - The

Thank You, Nordstrom

From Nordstrom's Facebook page for their downtown store Santa schedule:

Updates to Garfield Report Card Conferences

The district requested that I provide these updates for clarity.

Washington State Charter School Updates

With the Growth Boundaries, 20-Minutes added to the school day, changes to the Student Assignment Plan, Cedar Park, etc, I have found nary the time to write about charter schools in Washington State.  But finally, here it is.

"I Know You are a Good Boy"

This is a singularly beautiful video on being a teacher but especially those who take on the big challenges.

Want to Know What Makes Up Budget Deficit? Mum's the Word

Last week, I asked district Communications a couple of questions about the projected $70M+ budget deficit for the 2017-2018 via email.  I also spoke to a member of the Communications team. When I asked, I was told that was probably a question they would get from many reporters and they would get that info.  (Makes sense, no?)

Tuesday Open Thread

Unfortunate news from View Ridge Elementary; a smash-and-grab windows and then theft of purses from cars in front of school right after drop-off time.  Apparently, one mom was only gone 10 minutes so that meant the thief was watching the school because that's pretty brazen for daylight hours. One huge story comes from Washington's Paramount Duty's Facebook page: Senator Michael Baumgartner (6th LD, Republican) filed a resolution today to amend Article IX (Education) of Washington State Constitution and call for a state vote on numerous amendments. 

Director Blanford Starts a Fight (and to what end?)

The South Seattle Emerald newspaper has an op-ed piece from Director Blanford that is, well, pretty incendiary.  The title of the piece (I don't know if it is his or the newspaper's) is School Budget Deficit Too Heavy A Price For Our Children.  Which children Blanford is talking about becomes clear as you read the piece. He starts by explaining that in mid-November, the Board had been informed about the budget deficit.  He says it's the biggest one the district has ever experienced and could not be solved by McCleary.  The SPS’s financial staff advice to the board was clear: Using the Strategic Plan as a touchstone, the board must commit to exercise financial discipline in order to manage current and future expenses. Otherwise, projected teacher layoffs and program cuts would be catastrophic in our classrooms and schools. Now I stop here to interject that when the district had this so-called "underspend" last year of $11M, staff could not find enough ways to

Seattle Schools This Week

The district's info on buses and inclement weather for what may be an up-and-down weather week. Also, two items of note to put on your calendar. One, a community meeting on Cedar Park and its designation as an Option School.   This is on Thursday, December 15th at Cedar Park Elementary from 6:30-8:30 pm. The other is an Option School Fair that the district will be holding on Saturday, January 28, 2017 at Cleveland STEM High School from 10 am-2pm.  Monday, December 5th Student Assignment Plan meeting from 6:30-7:30 at JSCEE.   At UW, Education and Society Film Series : Starving the Beast.  Sponsored by University of Washington College of Education Master in Education Policy program Kane Hall 120 from 7-9 pm. Some of the most pressing issues facing America's educational systems will be discussed during the "Education and Society" documentary film series. Watch "Starving the Beast" and join a conversation about the funding of public high

Contact the Governor NOW

I'm going to offer the simplest advice I can on the levy cliff. There is NO reason it has to happen.    I urge everyone to call 360-902-4111 or, email or  tweet @GovInslee    and tell him to put pressure on the Legislature to have a one-day special session to extend the levy deadline from 2017 to 2018. Remind him that until the Legislature completes McCleary work, districts should not suffer even more from a lack of fully funded schools. Yes, contact your own legislator as well but I'm hoping that if the Governor feels the full force of citizens begging for this, he can make it clear that whatever the Legislature wants to get done when they do convene their regular session, nothing will get his signature.

2017-2018 Student Assignment Plan

Or, as more commonly referred to, the SAP. Background The district created a new Student Assignment Plan in 2009 that was approved by the Board.  It was a big change, primarily because the district went from a choice plan to a neighborhood plan.  I know that many of you don't like this form of SAP but, at the time, many parents were clamoring for a neighborhood plan because of the assurance of knowing what school their child would be assigned to.  The interesting thing I wonder about is that under the choice plan, 90% of people received their first choice.  That's a pretty good percentage but was that their desired choice or just the best choice they felt they could make in terms of knowing where their child would be?  I haven't heard any numbers on the choice within the neighborhood plan. Then, with the explosive growth in the district, the plan had to be tweeted and so there was a Transition Plan.  What is confusing to me is that the district is still in a growth mod

Legislature Needs to Act Fast

Email your legislators right now by clicking  here  and ask them to fully fund public schools so they don’t lay off teachers this spring. Dear friend, Please  email your legislators right now and ask them to fully fund public schools so they don’t lay off teachers this spring. Across the state, already-underfunded school districts are being told to prepare for a new round of budget cuts. You may have received letters or emails warning about the possibility of teacher layoffs or program closures. Let's be clear: this is unacceptable. And it's unconstitutional.

Friday Open Thread

The big news is that the City of Seattle announced three new homeless encampments to be established in early 2017 and one of them is right by the Wilson-Pacific complex that will be home to Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, Licton Springs K-8 and Cascadia Elementary.  The location is 8620 Nesbit Avenue North and it will have up to 50 tiny homes, serving 60-70 people (Nesbit is one block east of Aurora.) The other new encampments are down in Georgetown and White Center.  (The one in White Center will also be near an elementary school but with enough distance that it's not the issue that Wilson-Pacific campus is.) I think we can all agree that the homeless crisis in Seattle is a major issue.  But I am shocked the City would choose a location in an area that is already problematic AND has so many school children nearby. As I previously reported, RESMS planning principal Marni Campbell announced at a community meeting this week that the City is giving the district $1M grant to imp

Understanding the Dire State of SPS' 2017-2018 Budget

Update 3 : partial from letter sent to families that has new information: Next Steps Between Dec. 5, 2016 and Jan. 4, 2017 we will continue to solicit feedback on budget priorities from staff, families, and community partners. I would like to thank the Seattle Council PTSA for hosting three regional meetings for families to provide feedback on budget priorities.  Community Budget Gap Meetings Tues., Dec. 13 , 6:30 - 8 p.m. Ballard High School 1418 NW 65th St. Thurs., Dec. 15 , 6:30 - 8 p.m. South Shore PreK-8 School 4800 S Henderson St. Tues., Jan. 3 , 6:30 - 8 p.m. Franklin High School 3013 S Mt Baker Blvd. Interpretation will be available. To request interpretation please contact with your requested needs.  Additional details regarding the budget deficit, budget development timeline, and actions you can take will be posted to the 2017-18 budget webpage by tomorrow, Dec. 2.  If you have specific questions or concerns

Robert Eagle Staff Community Meetings

I attended the community meeting for Robert Eagle Staff  Middle School on Tuesday night.  There were maybe 5 parents there including one father with his daughter.  Marni Campbell gave the presentation with Executive Director, Jon Halfaker, in attendance.  There were no handouts. She led with the phrase "dream ambitiously."   She also referenced the heritage of the Wilson Pacific site that SPS wants to honor.