Sunday, December 31, 2017

Let's Hope for Better (Always) - Happy New Year

It's hard to have millennial children.  They look around and, in most directions, don't see much going their way in terms of opportunities for the future.  Some like to dismiss them as whiners but honestly, I think it is a difficult time to be a young adult. 

For those of you with children still in school, I wonder how your teenager sees the future.  Or what can a child in elementary school possibly think of Trump and his behavior?  We were all taught - no matter the president - to respect that person and really respect the office.  I think it's a difficult challenge today, given Trump's words and actions.  I do not envy you as parents.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Seattle School Board Meeting, January 3, 2018

Here's the agenda

Just to note, if you want to speak, sign-ups start at 8 am on January 1.  Yes, January 1.  I suspect it will be a rather full speakers list.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Seattle School Board Meeting, December 6, 2017 - Part Three

When we last left the Board meeting, it was about hour five and Enrollment's Ashley Davies had made a last plea for guidance from the Board to narrow the Highly Capable high school pathways down in order to facilitate the work of creating new high school boundaries.

Right after her remarks, came an interesting exchange between new directors Mack and DeWolf.

(I again note that some of the remarks will appear truncated because directors don't always speak in complete sentences and I was shortening for note-taking.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Seattle School Board Meeting, December 6, 2017 - Part Two

Part Two of the December 2017 School Board meeting covers one item - approval of the Student Assignment Transition Plan for 2018-2019.  Get a cup of coffee because this will be a long thread.  I have truncated some remarks as spoken so they will seem somewhat choppy at time (most people don't always speak in complete sentences).  I also note that a few directors really went to the mat for high schools in their region.

What was fascinating is how many people on the dais and staff at the microphone said:

- they welcomed discussion
- thought it should be a long discussion (the Superintendent said that he hoped to have a two-hour discussion - well, he surely got his wish)
- lamented that this discussion should have happened sooner (and that came from Board directors).

They are absolutely right.  These in-depth, multi-layers, intertwined issues should have been gone over much sooner and in a methodical manner.

I would fault both the previous Board for not pushing this harder and staff for their usual lack of full information to both the Board and parents and then getting to a "gotta get it done" place.

I will also cite the curious case of how HCC placement completely dominated the discussion and has dominated all discussions.  The number of HCC students, proportional to the overall student population, doesn't warrant that kind of status and yet both staff and Board made it so.  I have never seen it happen in other assignment plans to this level and I think there's has been a movement to elevate it in order to dismantle it.

FYI, here's the five-school pathway plan:

Seattle School Board Meeting, December 6, 2017 - Part One

Here's what I wrote in the normal "Seattle Schools This Week" about the Board agenda for December 6th:

It's a relatively light agenda and that's probably good, given there are two new Board members.  

And yet, the Board took that "light" agenda and turned it into over six hours for the meeting.   

The meeting was notable for several reasons.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Quite nice to have such a lovely winter scene but I'm glad it happened on a school break; makes it a lot easier all around.

I finally finished watching and notating the last School Board meeting and I'll have a multi-part thread about it and the overlapping subjects that sparked discussion there.

Here's the agenda for the next Board meeting on January 3, 2018.  I suspect it will be a packed house because:
  • the Board's resolution against departures for zoning regs for Green Dot charter schools is up for a vote.  I just want to note that the hyperventilating over at the Washington Policy Center states that the Board is trying to close Green Dot.  Nothing of the sort.  Green Dot can continue to open their school; there is nothing in this resolution that even attempts to stop that.  
  • more discussion about high school boundaries and HCC pathways
In the meantime, some stories of note that have come across my desk:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Thank You

As we approach the end of the year, I just want to say thank you to all the readers and commenters on the blog.  Even when I disagree with you, as a teacher, I appreciate your desire to make Seattle Public Schools as a good as it can be.  I know you all want what is best for your child.  I know it seems like the district does not seem to care, but know that at the school level, the teachers do care and are doing their best to help educate your child.  I know we are not perfect and yes, I know we can do better, but we do have the best interest of your child at heart.

Personally, I have a great job, I work with really great and dedicated faculty members and an administration that has to me, been nothing but supportive.  I am fired up to get back to school.

I finally want to say thanks to Melissa.  Without her dedication, we would be no where.  Please continue.  The students of the Seattle Public Schools need your advocacy.

May your 2018 be your best year yet!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Talk on Inclusion in Special Education

Creating & Maintaining Inclusive Schools 

Dr. Julie Causton, a Professor in the Inclusive and Special Education Program in the Department of Teaching and Leadership at Syracuse University will be a speaking at:
January 4, 7:00-8:30 PM.
Northshore Performing Arts Center (NPAC)
18125 92nd Ave NE, Bothell, WA 98011

This event is Free. 

Tuesday Open Thread

First up, I have received some news about an out-of-town environmental science field trip at Garfield - one that has been taken by students for 40 years - has been abruptly cancelled.  It had been approved, then reviewed and then denied...on the Friday before the break.  The reason may have been:

Tonight, Tuesday, December 19th

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday Open Thread

From Soup for Teachers:

Super-duper proud of my wonderful PTA for voting to donate 6% of our annual budget to a PTA or school community with less resources than us. Humbled and inspired by the Concord community, and so grateful to be a part of it.
No automatic alt text available.
Last batch of gift cards are ready to go out. We were able to give $5175 worth of Safeway gift cards to Louisa Boren STEM K-8 and Roxhill Elementary School students in need, split between Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks! Thank you to everyone who donated! I never imagined #NoHungryKids would have been this successful! 

Parents working for other parents so that we have better schools and successful students.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Near and Current High School Parents: Pledge to Act

Parents have some choices for what they can do over the high school boundaries/24 credits/HCC pathways but you must be willing to back it up with action.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Meeting Items of Note

Update: link to district update on the Student Assignment Transition Plan and High School Boundaries.

Documents for today's Task Force meeting.  I note that they will be making a decision for a recommendation on Cleveland today which is likely to be returning it as a comprehensive instead of a STEM school.  What a mistake.

Decision Timeline

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

I am behind on stories but will be doing much more towards the end of the week including:

- charter school lawsuit
- departures from zoning ordinances for Green Dot charter group and possible ramifications for the relationship between the City and the district/Board
- Lincoln high updates

Is the Cat in the Hat Black?  That's the name of a new book and the interview in the Washington Post with its author is insightful and engaging.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Seattle Schools Week of December 11-15

Update: A&F agenda and C&I agenda updated to include supporting documentation.

end of update

Monday, December 11th
Audit&Finance Committee Meeting, agenda

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Action Needed to Save U.S. Public Education

From the Network for Public Education:

The stakes could not be higher.

If the GOP tax bill passes, your federal tax dollars will be used to support the private and religious school tuition of any student, no matter how wealthy, in every state. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

New Board Goes to Town Tonight on SATP and HCC Pathways

 Update: my understanding is that by voting down the SATP, vote for the amendment to end HCC high school pathways is now void.

What a mess.  I think someone was trying a power play and it didn't work.  Lack of true engagement NEVER works.

end of update

I was neither able to attend the Board meeting this evening nor view it on tv but from reports I'm hearing, it was a doozy.

Rainier Beach in the News (for Cheerleading)?

I feel so sad when I see this kind of story in the news because adults should know better.  It looks like there are several speakers on tonight's Board meeting speaker list to talk about the issue.

From KIRO-tv:

Cheerleading activities at Rainier Beach High School have been suspended until further notice after two incidents at the school last week.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Your Kid's Student Data for Sale? It's Happening in Texas

Update on another student data privacy issue: from the LA Times on the SAT/ACT firms selling data:

Amazing Opportunity for 10th Graders

From Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib's office:
The Washington World Fellows program is an equity-focused academic fellowship open to 10th grade student applicants in Washington state. Starting in the summer of 2018, the fellowship will consist of a six-week immersive Spanish language study abroad program in Léon, Spain, with a full college-level academic schedule, as well as post-trip college-readiness support. Before departing for Spain, students will attend a series of pre-departure orientation sessions in the spring in preparation for the study abroad program, and after their return, will have access to leadership opportunities and college application assistance through their 11th and 12th grade years.

Tuesday Open Thread


Parent Workshop: ‘Positive Behavior Supports at School and at Home’

Monday, December 04, 2017

Charters Schools: Just as Segregated as Traditionals in Some Areas

Oh look, a story from the AP about charter schools and segregation.
National enrollment data shows that charters are vastly over-represented among schools where minorities study in the most extreme racial isolation. As of school year 2014-2015, more than 1,000 of the nation's 6,747 charter schools had minority enrollment of at least 99 percent, and the number has been rising steadily.

But schools that enroll 99 percent minorities — both charters and traditional public schools — on average have fewer students reaching state standards for proficiency in reading and math.

Howard Fuller, who was superintendent of Milwaukee schools from 1991 to 1995, rejects criticism of racially isolated charters. He says the imbalances reflect deep-rooted segregation, and it is unfair to put the burden on charters to pursue integration.
I have to give a side-eye to that last statement because charters have been throwing that at traditional schools for a long time.  Yes, segregation IS larger than what any one school or district can solve on its own.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Friday, December 01, 2017

Friday Open Thread

The after-election Board is having its first retreat tomorrow at JSCEE from 10 am-3 pm.  It is open to the public but no input allowed.  However, they do take breaks and you could chat them up at lunch.  Agenda.   This is a VERY vague agenda that includes lunch with "partners," some talk about a "community focus group" and "interrelated initiatives review."  Hmmm

Looks like one topical issue that may confront new director, Zachary DeWolf - charter schools.  Green Dot charter group wants to open a grade 6-12 charter school near Rainier Beach High School in the New Holly planned community area.  It would also likely impact Franklin High School to the north. (I reported on this recently.)

Ed Specs for High Schools

As requested, a thread on educational specifications as laid out in this SPS document posted by Seattle Citizen. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

SPS to Change Order of High School Science Classes

 Update: hearing from sources, this is what I believe this is about: NGSS - New Generation Science Standards, which are not directly part of Common Core.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

High School Schedule Update

Internal documents from a couple of high schools indicate the following may be happening for school year 2018-2019 for comprehensive high schools(sorry, I cannot post these docs in order to protect my sources):

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Update 2: I note that the Board Work Session for tomorrow has been expanded from talking about the superintendent search firm.

Work Session: Meeting with Superintendent Search Firm 4:30 pm Location: Board Office Conference Room Work Session: Student Assignment Transition Plan 6:00 pm Location: Auditorium

Executive and Closed Sessions: Potential Litigation and Labor Relations 7:00 pm 
Interesting.  I will try to make this Work Session.
End of update

Update: the Seattle Times is reporting that Seattle school bus drivers will strike for one day tomorrow.

Bus service will resume Thursday, but the union said it could call for a longer strike if a deal isn't reached with First Student, the contractor that provides bus service to the district.

end of update

Monday, November 27, 2017

Seattle Schools' Athletics News

There have been several articles recently about athletics issues in SPS.

McCleary: the long and winding road continues

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled recently on whether the legislature had done its duty by the Court's McCleary ruling about fully funding Washington State public schools.

It was a fairly big yes except that the Court also said (and I'm paraphrasing), "But you are not done yet and you need to get it done this next session."

From an editorial from  The Columbian:

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Parsing the Agreement with the City about Memorial Stadium

The Agreement is eight pages long.  It is not legally binding but appears to be a good faith measure for both the City and the District going forward.

I suspect this is a big deal on all sides, not just because it means a renovation of Memorial Stadium but because it is at Seattle Center, a marquee part of the city.  I think for some it might be a feather in their cap to be involved and that kind of feeling can usually mean some jockeying for position.

Page One 

Seattle Schools Week of November 27-Dec 2nd

Tuesday, November 28th

The swearing-in ceremony for the two newly-elected School Board members, Eden Mack and Zachary DeWolf, along with continuing member, Betty Patu, will be held at JSCEE from 6-7 pm.  Special guest will be state superintendent Chris Rykdal.  Open to all and there will be cake.

To note: the Board is having a closed executive session just before the oath of office ceremony.

Wednesday, November 29th
Work Session to meet with superintendent search firm from 4:30 pm-6pm.  Should be interesting.

Saturday, December 2nd
School Board retreat from 10 am to 3 pm at JSCEE.  Open to all to listen but no public input is allowed.

Also to note this week:

Mayor-Elect Jenny Durkan Will Bring City Hall into Communities Across Seattle on First Day

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Green Dot Request for Zoning Departures - It's a No from Me

Here's the email I sent to the City and I ask that you consider sending one as well.  These changes will undermine what the New Holly neighborhood was planned to be.

Write to Maureen.Sheehan@seattle.gov

Dear Ms. Sheehan,

I write in opposition to all the zoning departures that Green Dot Charter Schools is asking for in SDCI PROJECT #302901.

These departures for heights and setbacks fly in the face of what is a carefully planned and developed residential neighborhood, New Holly. It is a plan the City itself was involved in and is appropriate to maintain that neighborhood to that plan.

I request that you say no to these departures.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

The Green Dot charter school group is asking the City for a couple of departures for the new high school they want to create.  This new high school, Rainier Valley Leadership Academy, will be very close to Rainier Beach High School and somewhat close to Franklin High School.  

Given how some high school families are not happy with the overcrowding in SPS high schools AND the way the district is handling the boundaries issue, these charter high schools might do good business.

In other new schools stories, an interesting article from the NY Times on the growing number of for-profit private schools in NYC.  
They are entities like AltSchool, a San Francisco-based start-up that says it can use technology to revolutionize education. It opened its first “micro-school” in New York in 2015, and has opened two more since then.

There are the cost-cutter schools, like the tiny Portfolio School, which opened last year in TriBeCa and uses technology to keep administrative costs down but emphasizes experiential learning, like having students design a home for the class’s pet guinea pigs.
Then there’s the newest entry in the field, from WeWork, the office space-sharing company that recently jolted New York’s retail universe with its purchase of the Lord & Taylor building.  WeWork envisions its educational and real estate businesses as mutually reinforcing, offering parents the chance to drop their children off at school in the same building where they work, and where they could possibly meet them for lunch.

One of the company’s founders, Rebekah Neumann described WeGrow in a blog post as “a new conscious, entrepreneurial school committed to unleashing every child’s superpowers.”
That's right - technology will save education (and bring more dollars to shareholders). 

From Washington's Paramount Duty (who are finding all kinds of areas to see public schools fully funded):
Heck, yes! If you want to let your legislators know you support simple majority school bonds, email or call them and say you support Representative Monica Jurado Stonier’s HB 1778 (simple majority). “A simple majority for school bonds is essential to meet the needs of Washington’s growing school population and to answer the requirements of the McCleary school funding lawsuit for all-day kindergarten and smaller classes in grades one through three.
. . .
When the focus should be on learning — improving graduation rates and erasing long-standing achievement gaps between students of different economic and racial groups — too many school districts struggle with leaky roofs and old mechanical systems in decrepit, seismically unsafe school buildings.
. . .
Put this simple fix on the list for 2018, lawmakers: The change to a simple majority to pass a school construction bond is past due.”
On that note, good news from Federal Way School District whose own bond measure had been losing on Election night:
By Friday, however, the school district received two pieces of good news when not only did it meet the required number of votes for the measure to be validated, but it had received a super-majority of at least 60 percent of the votes returned in favor.
 What's on your mind?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Seattle Schools Signs MOU with City about Memorial Stadium

This event happened today at Memorial Stadium.  (I would have been there but my invite got lost.) 
Representing SPS at the event was Vice-President Leslie Harris and Mayor Tim Burgess. 

To understand, the MOU is not legally binding and, going forward, the public will be part of the process about deciding what happens to Memorial Stadium.  This is a measure to get the discussion going.

To note, the district MUST keep this stadium because it serves as the home field for several high schools for football and soccer as well as hosting graduations.  The district has no other place for these events.  As to whether the stadium stays there, well, that's a good question to discuss.  

I have not yet seen the MOU (I believe it will be released tomorrow).  My understanding is that the district will keep 6 of the 9 acres it controls at Seattle Center AND the district will be part of the Fort Lawton EIS.  I am so happy on the latter because it simply keeps the district in the mix for the use of that property.

Thank you to Lisa Reibin Evans and Valerie Cooper for their tireless efforts on that front.

The Memorial Wall will be protected and moved in its entirety.

The City had wanted some of the property to put the parking lot underground which would likely increase the number of spaces AND get rid of an ugly parking lot.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Seattle Schools This Week

Elementary and K-8 schools are closed for parent-teacher conferences.  No school on Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving.

Monday, the 20th
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community Meeting at JSCEE from 5:30-
You are invited to join the Seattle Public Schools Special Education staff, families and D/HH community to:

•    Hear updates from staff about the Program Review from the Washington State Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss (CDHL)
•    Meet other families & community members with shared interest in D/HH

Supervised Children’s Activities, light snack, and ASL Interpreters will be provided.
If you have other language or interpreting needs, please contact us

Questions or Interpreting/Language Needs? Contact us:
Michael Dickneite at 206- 252-0332, msdickneite@seattleschools.org or
Margo Siegenthaler at 206-252-0794, masiegenthaler@seattleschools.org  
 There are two other events upcoming that should be of interest. 

One is Tuesday, November 28th when the newest Board members take the oath of office at JSCEE from 6-7 pm.  It was noted at the Board meeting that State Superintendent Rykdal will be in attendance.

Two is the Board retreat on Saturday, December 2nd at JSCEE from 10 am to 3 pm.  It will be the first opportunity to see the new Board members interacting with staff.

Lastly, one reader had stated that in the obituary announcement for the late, great Tracy Libros, that her name had been misspelled.  I attributed that to Communications.  It was not that department's error but some other department.    

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Open Thread

A big shout out to Rancho Tehama Elementary in Rancho Tehama, California where this week a gunman, on a rampage in their town, came to the elementary school and tried to access classrooms.  The school staff, hearing the gunfire outside quickly locked the building down.  Footage shows the gunman trying to open doors to classrooms and giving up.  He then shot into the building (one child was hurt by flying debris as he hid under a desk).  Bravo to those calm and brave staff members!

Forbes magazine does a listing of "30 under 30" (30 people under 30 years old) for various categories including education.  Now Forbes is a business magazine but the category was "education," not education technology or innovation.  Not a single educator made the list.  Hmmm.  (Also, a shout out to former Board member, Kay Smith-Blum, on the inclusion of her son, Bryce, on a technology list.)

There has been no press release on this but KNKX reports the district has started its gender identity information for K-5 students.  The report includes this update:
The school district is piloting the books and lessons in 12 elementary schools over the next month, and the schools may choose to send parents information and web resources ahead of time, but are not required to notify parents. Then the district will gather feedback, make tweaks and introduce the books and lessons to other elementary schools in January. 

Love said that parents who object to having their kids take part can opt them out of the lesson, but she emphasized that the books help reinforce the importance of kindness and respect for everyone.
I would disagree with the district.  I absolutely think schools should be talking about and demonstrating tolerance and inclusion but parents should be notified about what their child is being told AND how the parent might support that at home.  This is a fairly big values issue and for some parents, they may not agree.  And, if a kid is opted out, what happens to him/her during that time?  That's something parents might want to know.

Director community meetings
Patu - Raconteur from 9-10:30 am
Harris - Delridge Branch Library from 3-5 pm (she mentioned at the Board meeting there would be food)
Pinkham - Broadview Branch Library from 4-5:30 pm (he noted at the Board meeting that he didn't get very many people so take the opportunity to have a director to talk to by yourself)

Director Geary said that the Board meeting that she would not be having a community meeting this week or next.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Seattle Times - Whose Agenda for Public Education?

I've said this a lot.  The Seattle Times has a blurred line between editorial and reporting when it comes to stories on public education in Seattle.  Their reporters deny, deny, deny this but it's too obvious to be denied. 

So what is it that is apparent?

Slant.  Pure and simple, slant.  And, to a lesser degree, omission of facts.

The Times, either via their editorial board or with the input from the Gates Foundation which solely funds their "Education Lab," is attempting to paint a picture of Seattle Schools that is neither fair nor fully fleshed out. 

Story after story, there's the same voices (which is kind of funny because they are always complaining about the same activist voices like SEA) and the same people interviewed and quoted.

It was interesting to hear the contrast between the outgoing board members - Stephan Blanford and Sue Peters - at last night's Board meeting.  Blanford talked a lot about himself and Peters talked a lot more about the work and the district.

Peters made the point - a valid one in the context of this blog thread - that it has somehow become a sport to try to take potshots at the Board and to tear the district down.  She said constructive criticism and support would be more likely to help the district. 

Blanford has been quoted by the Times in the last three stories on the district.

As if he were Board president (he's not and never was the entire time he was on the Board).

As if he is the only Board director (there are six other people). 

And the words out his mouth? Doom and gloom.  Not a good word for his colleagues or the work of the staff and students in this district.  And oddly, not a single word about initiatives for black students in the district (he said nary a word about it last night).

This week saw Superintendent Nyland give his State of the District speech.  You'd think the Times would want to cover that story.  But they didn't. 

Instead, they had a story on the release of the latest district Data Dashboard results.  Now, that's a valid story except the timing is not.  (I'll have a separate thread on Nyland's speech.) 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Following up on my thread about the Board's upcoming vote on the Naviance software platform, I did write to the Board.  I heard back from a couple of Board members, one of whom sent me several documents to help clarify some issues I raised.

These documents were somewhat helpful but here's the thing - why aren't they attached to the BAR?  If there is this much progress on this contract, why the lack of transparency?  It seems every time you turn around, you have to make a special request to see documentation.  And, if they could attach the general RFP for this kind of service, why not these documents?

Why? I think they just don't want to be transparent.  It wasn't an oversight or a technical issues.  They just don't want this all aired out.

I'm beginning to think that the new superintendent needs to start with being a sheriff first and cleaning up some thinking at JSCEE or some senior staff should be let go.

There was a shooting this morning in Northern California that included a school.  No one died but several children were hit with gunfire.  This has got to stop.  It is sad to live in a country where we have mass murders almost monthly and nothing happens legislatively.  I guess we have the leaders we deserve.

Roxhill Elementary was awarded a $100K grant from the City's Department of Neighborhoods for a new playground at E.C. Hughes where they will be moving next year.

There will be a showing tonight of the "Most Likely to Succeed" documentary at Nathan Hale's NHHS Performing Arts Center at 6:30 pm.

This movie portrays high schools of the past and of the future, and where we want to move our programs. Nathan Hale students will lead discussion groups after the showing. Join us for a thought - provoking evening that is sure to inspire.
Students, parents and guardians, friends and family - all are invited.
There is no charge.

Co-sponsored by Nathan Hale High School and the Nathan Hale Community

What's on your mind?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Naviance; I Have Some Questions

Update:  The Board voted to put this off until further inspection of issues.

Here was the portion of my testimony about Naviance:
  1. Why did this pass out of Ops five months ago and yet is just getting here for a vote? Then, it was at Ops in September and yet still is just getting here?
  2. Why is there no list of other vendors to compare to? 
  3. The student privacy info is minimal and lacking. There are NO penalities to Naviance/Hobson if the data is breached and in all cases with student data, there should be penalities.
  4. Documentation was NOT available to the public until yesterday. That is not transparency and it is unacceptable.
One key item is that the district is in control of what different aspects of the platform they wish to use (some things are part included and others cost more). AND this:

Each school or district configures the product in a way they see fit for their students.

Different features are available to to be turned on or off at the sole discretion of the school or district. None are compulsory. 

Also, the documentation talks about "parent data." My understanding is that parents will have access to see what their child is doing but any data on them should be restricted to their name and a possible ID number. Are we going to track which parents are using this?

The costs are NOT clearly delinated. We are paying Hobson for their services but staff did not address the costs for an additional FTE at headquarters AND paying a staffer at each school to be the Naviance whisperer. Where is that money coming from and how much is it?

What's odd is that the BAR mentions a couple of alternatives but not the obvious - the Coalition for Access & Affordability. This a coalition group of colleges and universities - including UW - that work together to making applying for college easier for underresourced students. And it's free to districts to use.

Also, the contract with Naviance should clearly state:

- no third-party vendors have access to any data without parent/district permission and Naviance has refused to tell parents in other districts who third-party vendors are and what data they will see.

- parents should be able to opt their kids out of using Naviance without any kind of repercussions to students

- all data on students who leave/graduate from SPS that is in the hands of Naviance will be destroyed within three months.

end of update

On Wednesday night, the Board is to vote on whether to accept a contract with Hobson's Naviance system of college/career supports for over $600K over three years.

I admit I am a bit late to the party but I have finally looked into this and I have mixed feelings.  As usual, the devil is in the details and there are very few details in the BAR to go on.

Clearly, a 400-1 student-counselor ratio for high school is terrible.  Most of our high school counselors do a lot more scheduling than advising on college/career.  And, most high schools no longer even have a college/career counselor.  (Those that do either have principals that rearranged money or, more likely, the PTSA is funding.).

While that is a sad state of things, it's one that the district decided to go with, just as they have consistently decided to underfund regular maintenance.  And, this BAR for the contract states that they need at least one FTE - at JSCEE - to oversee this implementation and, as well, someone at each high school to run it there.  (I would assume there are costs to both things but that isn't mentioned in the BAR so the $600+K contract is much higher.)

Meaning, the district got itself to this place and their answer is...technology.

What's odd - and thanks to a reader for much of this help - is that the BAR mentions a couple of alternatives but not the one that seems most obvious - the Coalition for Access & Affordability.  This a coalition group of colleges and universities - including UW - that work together to making applying for college easier for underresourced students.  And, did I mention, it's free to districts to use.

So what is my recommendation?

Durkan Names Transition Team

And there are a few familiar names on the K-12 education side.

One is almost-gone Board member, Stephan Blanford.

Another is Mary Jean Ryan (she ran for the Board once and lost) who is the head of the Road Map project, dedicated to better outcomes for low-income students in south King County schools.

The other is Trish Dziko who started the Technology Access Foundation, TAF Academy and sits on the Washington State Charter Commission.

I can almost hear what Blanford will tell Durkan and I'm sure he would support any overthrow of the Board.

But while Ryan and Dziko lean ed reformer, they are not hard-core.  Both are thoughtful, smart people who just want to move the needle on the achievement gap.

I suspect in the the next couple of weeks/months - given the fast timeline for Durkan taking office - that we'll see more familiar names.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Seattle Schools Week of Nov. 13-18, 2017

Tuesday, the 14th
State of the District speech by Superintendent Nyland from 5-7 pm at West Seattle High School.  I would suspect that all the current Board as well as the newly-elected members are likely to show.  Wonder if Mayor Burgess or newly-elected mayor Durkan will show?

Special Education PTSA meeting at JSCEE at 7 pm.

Wednesday, the 15th
Regular Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda


Action Items:
- lifting the 2.0 GPA requirement (a district one and SPS was only one of two in the state to have this requirement).  Reading the BAR, you can see why this had been problematic.

- Superintendent Nyland's COLA raise of nearly $7,000.

- Award of contract for college/career services for high school students to Naviance.  I will have a separate thread on this one so please stay tuned.

- Approval of a contract for a search firm for a new superintendent.  This one perplexes me because the RFP seems to have dates that conflict with this vote (unless this is an after-the-fact BAR).  I'll more to say on this one as well (unless the Board has already picked) because some of the contendors either don't look well-suited for this job and/or have ties to ed reform.

Intro Items:

- two BEX IV items involving technology - one for $1M for new student computers and carts and one for $5.5M for mobile devices for all certificated staff.  Is a $1M enough for new student computers and  carts as compared to $5.5M for mobile devices for staff?

- the 2018-2018 Transition Assignment Plan - better get your concerns into the Board.

Saturday, the 18th
Director Community Meetings
Leslie Harris at Delridge Branch Library from 3-5 pm.
Scott Pinkham at Broadview Branch Library from 4-5:30 pm

District Updates on Boundaries (and a Survey)

Update 2 (from yet another reader who noticed this about the survey):

An FYI in case you didn't know...  Your post today about boundaries and the survey includes several tracking URLs.  i.e. the survey link looks like it's a direct link to survey monkey (www.surveymonkey.com/r/SPS_HSBoundaries), but if you hover over the link in your browser you can see that it's actually a tracking link that ties to your schoolmessenger/email account.

And indeed that seems to be the case. Hmmm.

End of update

From from a reader from a previous thread:

I went to the HCS AC meeting last night. First, we were told the 5 pathway plans was not the only plan the Directors would see. Odd. Right? That was from staff! There are four plans they would propose. Stay tuned. Only one was put through operations committee? And that is after none were even explored publicly as the ThoughtExchange had ZERO proposals. ZERO. Change is coming to all who have a kid in SPS. Not HCC kids. ALL kids. What if they did the same to SpEd? What would you like to see with changes coming to SpEd? This is asinine. 

It turns out that staff got the answers they wanted from Thoughtexchange: people wanted equity (no real understand how that very finite word is being used; where is Charlie when you need him) and close to home (again close may mean not 2 metro bus stops away or walking distance). Both of these answers are useless. USELESS. 

They both are relative to any who may SEEK them. They are also based on questions without true query behind them. They also talk of AL as it relates to education when in fact we are talking about HCC. Minor point? NO. 

The "district" also said the principals will have to do what they are told by staff. When has that ever been the rule? I know in the south that WMS, GHS and TM have done whatever they wanted when it comes to AL. JAMS and Hamilton as well have completely disregarded established classes/"curriculum." As I have watched my kids progress through the classes they have become less and less and later and later on subjects. Even math surprisingly. 
End of update

This is a missive the district sent out to parents on Friday about boundaries and it includes a very brief and uneven survey.

I'll just say upfront - yet ANOTHER district effort that is scattershot, vague and leaves parents worried and confused.  I hope the Board doesn't give them much credit for this sad effort.

There is now yet another survey about the boundaries.  I suspect - as others do as well - that the district is getting loud and widespread blowback on what they have put forth to parents.

And who can blame parents?  None of what is being said is clear.  These community meetings saw parents wander from staffer to staffer and sometimes getting less-than-clear or even conflicting information.  As well, that information is NOT backed up in writing so staff can easily later say, "I didn't say that" "It was misunderstood."

If it's not in writing, it's not real.

I took the survey.  It first asks for demographic info.  Then it asks you to rank order seven items.  Two of them shouldn't even be in there.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Open Thread

Rep Suzan DelBene stood up for teachers at a recent Congressional hearing for the Republican tax plan over tax deductions that would go away for individuals but not for companies. One of them is a tax deduction for teachers who spend their own money to buy supplies for their classrooms.

I wasn't able to attend the Executive Committee of the Whole meeting but the discussion was listed to be about the RFP for search firms to find a new superintendent. I have not had a chance to read it but it should give a peek into the thinking about what the district wants in a new superintendent.

Eight schools were named Schools of Distinction from the Center on Educational Effectiveness.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Former Head of Enrollment Passes Away

From district communications:
Tracey Libros, who retired in 2014 after a dozen years of service as head of the SPS enrollment planning office, passed away on Nov. 2 at Swedish Hospital in Issaquah, following a two-year struggle with cancer. 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Sorry so tardy; I have a big personal project.

Here are the results for Seattle School Board:

District IV: 
Eden Mack       85.97%. (which I believe is a record for a Board election)
Herbert Camet 14.03%

District V:
Zachary DeWolf   61.17%
Omar Vasquez.     38.83%

District VII
Betty Patu        64.11%
Chelsea Byers. 35.89%

As you might expect, I'm quite happy.  I have confidence in all three of these newly-elected Board members and I believe it is a very strong Board.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Upcoming Seattle Schools Committee Meetings

Update: Director Geary has a regular Tuesday morning coffee at Zoka behind U Village from 8-9:30 am.

end of update

There is a bevy of School Board committee meetings this week; quite unusual to have so many in one week.

Sadly, there are no community meetings with Board members next Saturday so your opportunity to talk to a Board member face-to-face is nil (unless you go to a committee meeting early and buttonhole one of them).

Friday, November 03, 2017

Still a Heads Up on that School Bus Driver Strike

From the district (bold mine):
Fri., Nov. 3, 2017 Update: First Student and the bus driver’s union are still in negotiations. We encourage you to check your email and the district website daily for updates. If a strike is called, we will alert you by email, phone, website, social media and local broadcast news.

Have You Voted?

If not, get on it.  I just heard on KUOW that King County Elections has received only 13% of ballots from Seattle and they expect a 48% turnout.  So people are holding onto those ballots.

I again urge you to consider voting for Eden Mack in District 4, Zachary DeWolf in District 5 and Betty Patu in District 7.  

You've heard my reasoning before but especially for the District 4 candidate, Herbert Camet, and District V, Omar Vasquez - these two men would not be team players.  They exhibit know-it-all attitudes and get testy when challenged.  We need people who temperamentally fit on a team.  You will always have disagreement on a board but voting in people who haven't shown they know the office they are running for is a team job is a bad idea.

Seattle Schools' 2018-2019 Assignment Plan Discussion at Operations Committee Meeting

The Operations Committee of the Board had their regular meeting yesterday afternoon.  All three Board members who serve on the committee - Blanford (chair), Geary and Pinkham - were in attendance as well as many senior staff.   Superintendent Nyland came in about 20 minutes into the meeting.

The Student Assignment Plan for next year was moved from the bottom of the agenda to being the first item discussed.

There were several pieces of documentation (which I will have to get the links for).  (I was sent all the documentation in one block all topics on the agenda.  The SAP items start on page 38.)They are:

Friday Open Thread

I don't know about you but I woke up to some snow on the ground.  I did check SPS Communications Twitter feed but they have nothing about transportation so it's fine, I guess.

King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered that under 18 year old youth currently being held at the Regional Justice Center in Kent be released to the Seattle Youth Services Center. Those kids had been in solitary for up to 22 hours a day (in order to protect them from the adult inmates) and had 10 minute of face-to-face interaction with a teacher.  This after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of those youth.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Transition Plan for Next Year on Ops Agenda

A reader pointed out to me that on the Operations Committee meeting agenda for tomorrow there is this:

Approval of the 2018-19 Student Assignment Transition Plan (Herndon, Davies) (Editor's note; the reader requested a copy and was sent one.)

Seattle Schools Threatens First Student (Big Time)

In the on-going saga about school bus service, there's this from Teamsters Local 174:

In a direct response to Local 174 Secretary Treasurer Rick Hicks’s letter dated October 30, 2017, Seattle Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Operations Pegi McEvoy has sent a letter to First Student. 

A PDF of the letter is available here.  

The letter states that if First Student does not reach a resolution with the Teamsters to avoid a strike, the District will be seeking damages from First Student to the maximum extent allowed by law — potentially at a cost of $1.2 million per day.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

HCC Pathways Updates

HCC Advisory Committee Position on the High School Boundaries

Dear HCC community,

As you are probably aware, the District is considering changes to the high school boundaries as part of the Student Assignment Plan that will go into effect for the 2019/20 school year.

Meetings are happening and feedback is being collected, and the HCS AC has sent the email below to make clear our position and recommendations regarding the highly capable and high school pathways.

Today the HCS AC sent an email to the Superintendent and the Directors expressing our position (see below) in advance of staff preparing their recommendations to the Board in November. Final votes by the Board are slated for January 2018 with implementation in Fall 2019.

Lincoln and Dual Language/International Pathways

From Michele Aoki, International Education Administrator:

Tuesday Open Thread

There's a petition going around from "North Ballard Parents"about the boundaries for Ballard High and Ingraham.  And so the lines among parents are starting to be drawn. (red mine)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Ed Reform Money Pours in for Vasquez

Seattle School Board, District 5's race has taken the very distinct ed reform turn that I knew it would.

Democrats for Education Reform's PAC contributed $20K to Vasquez's campaign in an independent expenditure for digital ads.  That's a huge amount of money for a school board race.  DFER supports ed reform including charter schools.

Folks, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and the ducks from the ed reform pond give it lots of bits of bread - it's a duck.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Work Session on October 25, 2017: Budget and SAP

As previously reported, this week's Work Session had a couple of parts and, within each part, several sections.  Here's the agenda and the Budget info is at the beginning of the documentation.

I do want to know that staff gave a presentation on Advanced Learning that, while some of it was buried in the agenda documentation, was NOT on the agenda.  I call foul on this as well as some of what was presented (but that's a different thread).

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Open Thread

I attended a great UW lecture last night by Professor Kate Starbird from the College of Engineering on the history/recognizing "fake news."  I see from this article in the NY Times that Italy is really getting serious about this in their schools:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Work Session - Live Blogging

Update 4: Good news, kids.  The Board listened and has pushed back - for multiple reasons - on taking the word "transition" from the SAP.  That means, that the current transition plan will stand as an adjunct to the 2009 SAP.  It was not mentioned but I would assume that doesn't mean it precludes updates to the Transition plan but that plan will not become the SAP.

Good work to those of you who contacted the Board because they heard you, loud and clear.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Wednesday Work Session: SAP

The current Student Assignment Plan was approved in 2009.  This is what is stated at the district webpage about it:
The 2009 Student Assignment Plan is an historical document that details many of the principles of the current plan. The Superintendent's Procedures for Student Assignment sets forth the implementation of the policies established by the Board in the 2009 Student Assignment Plan and the Student Assignment Transition Plan for 2017-18. These documents are the guides for Admissions and other district staff and must be viewed as integrated companions to fully understand student assignment.
 I will take a page from Director Burke's lexicon and call that a "word salad."  Yes, the 2009 SAP is a "historical document but it IS the document of public record for assignments in SPS.  Everything else is a temporary "transition" plan of updates. 

Seattle Schools SAP Eckstein Community Meeting

Update: I neglected to say that Director Rick Burke was in attendance as were school board candidates Eden Mack and Omar Vasquez.

end of update

I'll be brief on the SAP/Boundaries Community Meeting last night at Eckstein.  I thought it stank.  I walked into a room with several tables of staff from different departments.  There were balloons and candy, wee!  What you are to do is wander from table to table and ask questions.  Oh, and leave comment cards.

I think the only comment you need to make is this:

This process is silly, unhelpful and a dog-and-pony show so staff can say to the Board, "We did community outreach." 

This process - once again - is being rushed and a topic of vital importance to every single student and parent/guardian in the district should not be rushed. 

What did other parents say about the meeting?

Wednesday Work Session:Budget

Well, it's another lollapolozza of a Work Session.  Here's the 99 page agenda.

There's so much here that I'm doing one thread on the Budget section and one on the SAP.

To note, the Work Session starts at 4:30 pm and the first topic is the Budget.  Looking at the attached documentation, I'd call this at least an hour's worth of work. And man, is it all over the place.  I'm not even sure I understand what they are talking about.  Page two has their focus items and it looks fairly straightforward until you start digging in.

Free Health Care Services Via King County Health

Free dental, vision and medical clinic via King County Health at Seattle Center, starting Thursday. First come, first served. Free parking.

Tuesday Open Thread

My wrap-up - such that it is - of the first SAP/High School Boundaries community meeting at Eckstein is to follow.  In a phrase - not good - and Halloween candy and balloons aren't going to cut it.

The Washington State Supreme Court heard oral arguments for and against the Legislature's work on fully funding public education via the McCleary decision.  You can hear the whole thing at 7pm tonight on TVW or here's a link.  

It's Irritating

I've made my opinion about who to vote for to represent the public on the Seattle School Board.  But now, after attending two forums and watching one on video (the NAACP/League of Women Voters), I want to add one thing that I find very irritating because two candidates are making statements that are not factually true in the context of what they currently do for a living.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, October 23rd
Student Assignment Plan and High School Boundaries Meeting
6:30 to 8 p.m., Eckstein Middle School

Tuesday, October 24th
Native American/Alaska Native family meeting
Meany Middle School, Lunchroom, 6-7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 25th
Board Work Sessions: Budget; Student Assignment Plan; Executive Session: to evaluate the performance of a public employee 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM, JSCEE, No agenda yet available

Thursday, October 26th
Native American/Alaska Native family meeting
Chief Sealth High school, 6-7:30 pm 

Student Assignment Plan and High School Boundaries Meeting
6:30 to 8 p.m., Ballard High School

Saturday, October 28th
Director Community Meetings

Director Patu 
Raconteur, 5041 Wilson Ave S, 9-11 am

Director Blanford
Location TBA, 10 am-noon (note: this is Director Blanford's last community meeting as a director)

I note the announcement of the annual State of the District speech by the Superintendent which will be Tuesday, November 14th at West Seattle High School from 5-7 pm.   This might be an interesting event to attend what with school board elections the week before and the announcement that the current Board has decided to seek a new superintendent.

SAP Draft Plan Released

We will NOT be discussing HCC pathways in this thread.  We can have a separate thread on that issue but NOT here.  Any comment with HCC discussion will be deleted.

end of update

Here's the draft plan.  I haven't read it yet.  Meetings start this week:

Five open house meetings are scheduled for families, students and staff about changes to the Student Assignment Plan (SAP) and high school boundaries. 

District office staff will be available to discuss the 2018-19 SAP, including related updates to special education, school choice, and advanced learning opportunities in high schools. Visitors will also be able to review the proposed high school boundary scenarios.
Open house meetings:
  • Mon., Oct. 23, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Eckstein Middle School, lunchroom, 3003 NE 75th St.
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Amharic
  • Thurs., Oct. 26, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Ballard High School, commons, 1418 NW 65th St.,
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Amharic.
  • Mon., Oct. 30, 6:30 to 8 p.m., McClure Middle School, gym, 1915 1st Ave. W.
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
  • Wed., Nov. 8, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Cleveland High School, lunchroom, 5511 15th Ave. S.
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
  • Thurs., Nov. 9, 6:30 to 8 p.m., West Seattle High School, lunchroom, 3000 California Ave. SW
    Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.

At the end of the month, families and staff will receive an email invitation and survey to provide feedback on the three proposed high school boundary options. New high school boundaries will be implemented in 2019-20. 

The top three potential scenarios can be found on the High School Boundary Task Force Recommendations webpage.
 Here are issues that some readers are reporting:

Friday, October 20, 2017

Stranger Guest Editorial Channels Princess Leia on McCleary

Remember the original first movie of Star Wars?  What does Princess Leia's message say:

This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

At The Stranger, Washington's Paramount Duty's Summer Stinson and Kathryn Russell Selk channel that thought:

In reality, the legislature failed. The Supreme Court must save us now. They're our only hope.

The details:

Friday Open Thread

The next meeting about the reopening of Lincoln High School is scheduled for Monday, November 13th, location TBD.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Seattle Schools and Salaries

You do know there's a place to look up everyone's salary who works for SPS?  You didn't; well, here it is. 

Uh Huh, What a Surprise about Charter Schools

Much, much more on charter schools to come but here's this:
Since 2007 the states that expanded charter schools the most, also cut funding for public schools the most.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Catching up on Education Reading

My desktop is full of stories.

SAP Documentation and Your Questions

Here is a district documented created for the Operations Committee by Nate Van Duzer, Director of Policy and Board Relations.  It's labeled: Student Assignment Plan "Transition" Label.

Tuesday Open Thread

A great job on working in the trades from the Marysville Globe.
If school isn’t your thing – don’t drop out, consider a career in the trades.  That’s the message Scott Peterson wants to get out not only to young people, but to others who may be interested in a career change.

While there is a shortage locally in the trades for electricians, plumbers, welders, pipefitters, etc., Peterson, a business agent for UA Local 699, especially is looking for people to install fire suppression equipment.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Let the City Know to Include Seattle Public Schools in Planning

From SPS parent, Valerie Cooper Jackson:

Dear school advocates,

As our city grows, we are keenly aware of the increased infrastructure needs of our public education and we as parents, families, educators, and concerned citizens have increased our voice to let our elected official know that we deeply care about this issue.

I recently learned that in 2015 the city council amended the charter for the City of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development to specifically include that they will develop planning strategies that support the public school facility needs now and in the future. This is very good intention, though there currently isn’t specific budget and staff time, or a specific planning process for this work. 

Before the Ballots Drop, More Seattle School Board Candidate Info.

Ballots are to drop this week, around the 18th so here are more school board candidate updates.

But I'll be straight-up here.

In District IV, it's Eden Mack.  Herbert Camet may have an extensive background in education but is not qualified for this position and his temperament is completely wrong for a group endeavor.

In District V, it's Zachary DeWolf.  I agree with the Times (who gave Omar Vasquez the nod) that DeWolf and Vasquez both have good solid backgrounds.  But their reasoning - some it based on the timing of levies(?) - is weird.  They completely left out his charter school background, also a misstep.
So why DeWolf?  In a word, teamwork.  DeWolf is very inclusive when he speaks to others while Vasquez always makes you feel like he's the smartest guy in the room.  Vasquez also can easily get his back up and again, not a great quality for a member of a board.  Since both of them would bring more diversity to the Board, it's an easy pick for DeWolf.

In District VII, it's Betty Patu.  I can say that Patu is not the best campaigner but that's okay because Patu was never in this work to be a politician.  She's the common sense voice that you need on a board.  She's the one who never really cares if she gets quoted but cares how many kids got some support and inspiration today.  She knows this district as no other candidate does.

Her opponent has barely registered in this campaign.  Due to unfortunate family circumstances, she has not been at forums.  (If she goes to this Saturday's forum sponsored by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, let us know.  I'm unable to attend.)  However, below in my reporting, is what she said in her answers to a candidate forum questionnaire.  I find many of them troubling.  I don't believe she knows this district in any significant way. 

Last thing - I am sad that I am late to this news but I did want to point out that Eden Mack and Zachary DeWolf have been hosting community meetings on various issues.  Tonight's was about homelessness and SPS students.   They did one on Special Education and one on racial inequity.  This effort - to have conversations on challenging topics - when they could just be spending time trying to get elected shows commitment and integrity.

As for last week's second Seattle School Board forum at Madrona Elementary, here what I saw and heard.

Student Assignment Plan Meetings including High School Boundary Meetings

From a reader:

This was in the Roosevelt Newsletter this morning.

2019 High School Boundary Update - To relieve pressure on Roosevelt and Ballard High schools, some RHS families will be moving to the new Lincoln HS opening in 2019, the Ingraham HS with a new addition also opening in 2019, or Nathan Hale HS. The High School Boundary Task Force voted to recommend Boundary Map H2 to the School Board at the November SPS Board Meeting.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Dinner with Betsy

As promised, I did attend the Washington Policy Center's "gala" fundraiser that featured Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as well as Neil Cavuto from FOX News. 

Here's my account as published in The Stranger today.

This is a longer version that I wrote for this blog:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Possible Bus Strike on Monday?

Update from the district:

Update Oct. 15, 2017 In our commitment to keeping our families informed, we anticipate yellow school buses will run their regularly-scheduled routes on Monday, Oct. 16. We continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as available from our bus provider. 

Friday Open Thread

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DLK1GIqWAAMy9pM.jpg:largeA Generation Z feminist poem, written by a third-grader, goes viral.

To note, the weather is pretty good and the estimate of numbers of people coming to the DeVos protest is growing.  The latest I hear is 5,000 with people coming from Olympia and Covington.  If you are going or will be on Facebook or Twitter about the event, use these hastags  #FlunkDeVos #DumpDeVos  #PublicEducationMatters

DeVos is speaking right at 7 pm  so I hope protesters will stay because she's going to probably be going out the door before 8 pm and may see the protests.

Speaking of DeVos, here's a link to the Secretary's Proposed Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs.  Interesting reading about what the focus for that department will be.

One of this year's MacArthur Genius awards has gone to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones of the New York Times who frequently writes about segregation especially around public education.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

On Eve of DeVos in Washington, She Goes to a Public School in Oregon

Betsey DeVos visits, she normally goes to a charter school or private school or both.  It is rare for her to acknowledge good happenings in public schools so it is a surprise that in her visit yesterday in Oregon, she went to a public school.  (Her office has not announced plans to visit ANY Washington state school.)  From The Oregonian:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

New Superintendent? Maybe, Maybe Not

 Update: from Mirmac1.

RFP for a Superintendent Search firm was published 10/13. Proposals due the 30th

I would guess that means the majority of the Board decided we need a new superintendent.

End of update

Today sees a Work Session  Session with two topics; high school policies and the 2016-2017 Program Review Reports.  However the updated agenda shows two interesting things.

One, documents are actually attached.  I was just told that they would only be attaching documentation to agenda for the actual Board meetings.  I guess not.  Altogether there are 218 pages.

Two, an Executive Session has been added with the multi-purpose title -  To Evaluate the Performance of a Public Employee. 

Soup for Teachers is reporting it's about an RFP to fund the search for a new superintendent .  I find this odd that anyone would know the exact details of an Executive session.  These sessions are confidential for a reason and I have never been able to get details (except to confirm it wasn't about one or another topic).  I have to wonder who might have allowed details of the meeting to get out - a member of the Board or a staff member.

Superintendent Nyland did not get a second extension on his contract.  He himself came on saying he was an interim - they had to pull him out of retirement.  He got one extension but now, this district and this city deserve a real search for a true visionary leader.

But I am hearing there is pushback in some quarters on this.  The new Board as configured after Nov. 4th deserves to find a new leader for this district and those leaving the Board or even those continuing on should accept that.

Seattle School Board Candidates at Uptown Alliance Forum

Update: The Stranger announced their picks - Mack, DeWolf and Patu.  Best line?
Eden Mack would saw off her own arm if it meant fully funding Washington's K–12 public schools.
 Worst line?
The SECB wants to see a school board appointed by the mayor, who can then be held accountable for the state of Seattle's public schools, instead of the never-ending shit show that is, was, and seemingly always will be Seattle School Board elections.
My response to them (and pardon my french but it is The Stranger):

Wrong, wrong - and for the SECB - fucking wrong. Look to NYC, Chicago, etc. where they DO have a mayor in charge. Better outcomes? Nope. Biggest parent complaint? No one listens at all now. Sorry, you don't dump a mayor over schools (see Rahm Emanuel) so voters would not have any real say in their schools. Moon doesn't want that but Durkan does. Do your homework.  

end of update

I attended the Uptown Alliance Forum for Seattle school board candidates last night.  It was a sparse crowd - maybe 20 people. 

It was informative and infuriating, sometimes at the same time.

On the International Day of the Girl

On this International Day of the Girl, some words of wisdom from retiring congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What Should Public Education Be?

From the Friday Open Thread discussion - the eternal discussion of HCC and who needs rigor and whether poverty actually does affect learning, etc, etc, and etc.

There was this comment from a reader who seems to think the rest of us are pretty shallow people:
"We can, however, get to a place where an authentic culture of enquirer, discovery and social engagement is fostered.

HCC supporters are thinking too narrowly in terms of education. It isn't a tiered, limited entity but a process built around engagement, participation and connection."
And here may be the crux of the ENTIRE question for not only HCC but for public education:
What should public education be?
What should it deliver?  What should be its goals?

Snow Route Request Letter Heads Up

Tuesday Open Thread

Congress missed the deadline to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program.  The ramifications are huge.  Please urge your congressional reps to pass this bill.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Why Be Unhappy With Betsy DeVos?

The Washington Policy Center seems to be asking the question, almost to the point of saying DeVos is being picked on. 
Critics of education reform say that Secretary DeVos should not come to Washington state, should not hear from people here, and should not be allowed to speak to our guests at a gala event.
I haven't heard one person say those particular statements.  I have heard people say they absolutely disagree with almost every single education stand that she has including the one she won't say out loud - she doesn't support the schools that about 85% of American children attend.

DeVos Protest Expected to Be Huge

From both Facebook pages and the Seattle Times, it is apparent that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may meet her biggest protest since she has been serving when she speaks this Friday over in Bellevue. 

The Washington Policy Center - a right-wing thinktank supported by groups like ALEC and the Koch brothers - is sponsoring her appearance for their main fundraising dinner of the year.  Neil Cavuto from FOX News is also to speak.  The event is sold-out with an expected attendance of 1,500.
This isn’t the first time that Washington Policy Center officials have invited controversial people to their galas, which bring in more than $1 million each year. Nigel Farage, who led the Brexit movement, spoke at the think tank’s dinner in Spokane in late September.
From the Times:

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Seattle Schools Week of Oct. 9-13

The district continues its schedule of rotating schools where flu shots are available. Check their calendars for dates/locations.

Two opportunities this week to hear School Board candidates in action, on Tuesday and Thursday.

What Will the District Do about Advanced Learning?

Pivoting off the recent article in the Seattle Times, this is an important question for many reasons.  Let's see what the article says:
In August, every district was directed to make it a priority to find low-income kids who may be candidates for accelerated learning. By Nov. 10, under a new state law, each district must submit a detailed plan to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction on how they will do so this school year.

“That’s a massive, massive change,” said Austina De Bonte, president of the Northwest Gifted Child Association, who has two children in the Northshore schools.

Along with the new state edict comes double the money. Officials at the state superintendent’s office hope the extra dollars will be used for much broader student screening.
I'll note that Ms. DeBonte was the expert that the Board brought in for the last Work Session on gifted education and she gave an outstanding presentation.

What the outlook on gifted ed in Washington State?

Friday, October 06, 2017

Superintendent Reykdal to attend Town Hall on Washington Public Education

Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, will be attending a town hall to discuss the state of our public education system and to address questions or concerns those in attendance might wish to convey regarding school policies, curriculum, or any changes he plans to implement during his time in office. 

Seattle Schools Announces College Prep Events

From SPS Communications:

Seattle Public Schools invites all seniors to attend one of the many college application and financial aid events happening throughout October and November.

Financial aid experts and trained volunteers will be on hand to assist student with completing college applications and financial aid forms.

Librarian Returns Books To Mrs. Trump

I admit I am torn on this teacher librarian's response to the White House gift of Dr. Seuss books via First Lady Melania Trump.

I am honored that you recognized my students and our school. I can think of no better gift for children than books; it was a wonderful gesture, if one that could have been better thought out.

That sentence - which appears late in Ms. Soeiro's letter - is the crux of the matter.  Books are a great gift for students but yes, the target of this largess AND the books themselves could have been better thought out.  It does seem like lazy thinking on the part of the White House on both scores.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Why I'm Boycotting Starbucks


Just to note - many people have said they asked Starbucks about their issue and Starbuck's reply is that they don't have anything to do with the dinner. But they mean the dinner itself and who the speaker is. But they are corporate sponsor and will have a table there as they indicate in their statement.

They are playing it both ways - we're in but we didn't decide on anything. Except to give their financial support to a right-wing organization.

end of update

There had been a rumor that Starbucks supported the Washington State right-wing thinktank, the Washington Policy Center.  Their sponsorship dollars are helping to throw WPC's annual fundraising dinner that features Sec'y Betsy DeVos and Fox's Neil Cavuto. I was aghast but thought it was probably not true.

It IS. I talked with their newsroom and here is their lackluster statement:
"Starbucks is one of 80 sponsors of this Washington Policy Center dinner and we are not involved in determining speakers for any of their events. This event in Bellevue is one of many they host each year with a variety of speakers discussing policy issues. We will be attending as part of our annual membership."
Well Starbucks, I don't care if your money decided the speaker or not.

 The Washington Policy Center is far-right free market group.  They are affiliated with the Koch brothers and ALEC, two groups set on undermining our country including public education.

Betsy DeVos is one of the most singularly unqualified people to ever serve in a cabinet. Her stated goals will completely destroy public education as we know it.

Here's my stated goal: I'm done with Starbucks and I'm going to ask you to consider doing the same except first, go to your local Starbucks and tell them why they won't be seeing your smiling face any longer.

 Starbucks gets to spend its bucks anyway they like but my dollars won't support Betsy DeVos' efforts nor ALEC nor the Koch brothers.

LWV/NAACP Seattle School Board Forum Tonight CANCELLED

The League of Women Voters King County and the NAACP King County announced that they are cancelling their scheduled School Board candidate forum for tonight. 

No reason given but I know Director Patu would not have been able to attend because of the Board meeting tonight.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Two Major Items of Note

First up, a joint resolution/BAR from four Board members - Harris, Burke, Pinkham, and Peters - in support of the district being included in the EIS the City will submit to the feds about the usage of the Fort Lawton property in the Magnolia area. 

Seattle Public Schools desires to collaborate with the City for addition to the EIS, considering interim and future use of a portion of that land and in conjunction with potential existing plans for low-income housing. 

This process represents the largest piece of land in the city and the county being de- accessioned by the U.S. Government. SPS has a capacity crisis and is need of future school sites for the next 20 years and beyond. Further, the site could be used in the interim prior to the need and funding guarantees for a school, e.g., future BEX levies, for maintenance facilities, athletic field(s), environmental science classroom/field trip destination, and/or a learning center to collaborate with Daybreak Star Cultural Center, or other uses. 

Asking to be part of the EIS Process keeps SPS options open and is an opportunity for City/SPS Collaboration. Should the EIS process conclude SPS use is not viable or appropriate, or if the required guaranteed funding source for interim use or school building cannot be identified at time of federal property grant application, SPS can withdraw its request for this important scarce land. Note, this is not the same process that was used for the Federal Reserve Building in 2014.

This is absolutely the right thing to do.  It does not commit the district to anything but allows it to explore and partner with the City over possible uses of the land regarding students in Seattle Schools.  I really don't know why the district has been dragging its feet but this is - as the Superintendent himself has said - the opportunity of a lifetime.

The other big issue - new to me but has been simmering - are changes that have been happening at Concord International School over in West Seattle.  There is a meeting tonight to talk about those changes, most of which have happened with no notice to parents. The meeting is at the South Park Neighborhood Center tonight, starting at 6 pm. (8201 10th Ave. S.)  I know that Director Harris, who represents that region, will be in attendance.