Showing posts from March, 2017

Let the Mayor/City Council Know You Want Two Tiers

From Liza Rankin at Soup for Teachers:  Apparently, the Mayor is considering contributing the one-time cost of $2.3M from the city’s coffers to make it happen. If the money is committed by May 1, SPS will be able to implement a two-tier bell schedule for THIS FALL and spare us from a 7:40am tier one start and a 3:50pm tier three end time. Please write to the mayor and your city council members to encourage them to contribute this money to benefit students and families in every SPS community! Here is my letter to  Mayor Ed Murray ( ) and to the Seattle City Council members (,,,,,,,,

Read it and Weep


SAT/ACT: Tell Your Kids to Give Only Five Data Points

From Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and the Washington Post's Answer Sheet : If your child takes the SAT or PSAT, is his or her personal information being collected, profiled, licensed and sold? That is the question that Cheri Kiesecker, Colorado parent and member of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, asks and attempts to answer in the following important post. The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy is a national alliance of parents and advocates defending the rights of parents and students to protect their data. Summary: do NOT let your children answer any questions on the PSAT or SAT other than five obligatory questions: name, grade level, sex, date of birth, and student ID number. If they've already shared the info you can opt out of the CB disclosing it any further here:…/opt-out To note, the Trump administration just rolled back data privacy protections for all of us this week:

Friday Open Thread

(Editor's note: yes, I knew it was Thursday when I put this up.  I had thought I was going to be unable to get it up early Friday morning and chose to post it on Thursday.) Update report from the Times about the widely-lauded Road Map Project with some modest success and extension of their goal timeline. Seven years after setting the goal of doubling the number of students in South Seattle and South King County who finish college or earn a career credential, the Road Map Project is increasing the target to 70 percent — and extending the deadline from 2020 to 2030. Created in 2010, the Road Map Project is a regional partnership working to dramatically boost college-completion rates in seven school districts. Interesting article from Spokane's KPBX about why some children of immigrants excel in STEM . As the Times of India pointed out, Das was one of five Indian Americans among the competition's top ten finishers. In last year's contest, according to

Tuesday Open Thread

Interesting op-ed from several major charter operators in USA Today , speaking out against Trump's budget. We realize that expressing concerns about a budget that benefits our schools may seem counter-intuitive. But we want to join with all those who are fighting to defend public education as an essential pillar of our democracy. We will ask Republicans and Democrats alike to reject these proposed cuts. If only the Washington Charter Schools Association was speaking out like this about McCleary fulfillment.

May 1st Strike?

In case you were not aware, there is a debate/discussion - among teachers and parents - about a May 1st strike/walkout.  May 1st is International Workers' Day and one that is hugely celebrated throughout the world (although not so much in the U.S.)

Let's Keep Public Education Public


House Dems Release Their Budget

Here's a link to the entire thing .  Here's an assessment from the Tacoma News Tribune : The state House released a $44.7-billion spending plan Monday that relies on $3 billion in new revenue over two years, mainly from new taxes on capital gains and tax hikes for some businesses. The House plan would spend about $1.6 billion more than a rival proposal put forth last week by Senate Republicans , who proposed rejecting state worker contracts and making some cuts to social services to balance their budget.

Your Kids and Their Future

I've read a couple of good articles over the last week that I wanted to share.

Now It Will Get Real on McCleary Funding

The Dems will be releasing their proposal for the budget, including McCleary funding, today at noon. It will be televised on TVW.

What's Next for Seattle Schools?

I'll ask that question because apparently, the district isn't going to ask you. I bring this up after reading thru the presentation for last week's Work Session with one section about SMART goals and the other about the budget.  Here's the title for the SMART goals: Selection of the 2017-18 Board Governance Priorities & Superintendent SMART Goals ... for next year.

Postcards for Education

Community Postcards for Education - A Kid Friendly Event!

DeVos Attempts to Undermine ESSA Requirements

Betsy DeVos is all about parent power via "choice."  She says this over and over, that the feds should allow parents to have the biggest power over where their child goes to school. Apparently, that power stops at the schoolhouse door because it seems she doesn't believe in that power as far as what actually happens inside the school.

This and That

Great story from NPR - A High School's Lesson For Helping English Language Learners Get To College

Washington State School Funding Updates

Update:   great analysis from the Washington Budget and Policy Center on the GOP bill.

Friday Open Thread

Want to see what a condo in the old Queen Anne High building looks like?  Here you go. From the "hmmm" file: I have found no stories on Amazon's gift of music instruments to Rainier Beach High School except for this blog and the South Seattle Emerald.  Not the Times, nor tv stations.  Ditto on the Paul Allen donation to partner with the City and the district for more arts for students.  I know SPS put out press releases.  Two of the biggest philanthropists in our city give money to help public education and neither gets any notice from mainstream media.  Hmmm.

News on SPS Budget for 2017-2018

From Dr. Nyland (bold mine): 2017-18 Budget Restoration Update

Huge Win in Supreme Court for Special Education

Update:  Father of autistic kid Gorsuch ruled against will testify to Senate against his nomination. end of update From NPR: School districts must provide students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress, the Supreme Court said today in an 8-0 ruling.

Personalized Learning; What's Happening Out There

I've written about "personalized learning" before and I will continue as this becomes an ever-growing story.  There is absolutely every reason to consider new and better ways to use technology to increase academic outcomes and hopefully that drills down to each and every student's learning style.  But there are many factors to consider like:

What the Plan is for Your Child's Education?

Here's an event you might consider attending: Parents Across America Presents Alison McDowell  " Future Ready Schools: How Silicon Valley is Reshaping Our Schools" Saturday, March 25th from 10:30 am to noon at the Lake City library branch., 12501 28th Avenue, NE This talk is free and open to the public.

Walking to School May Get Safer

The Times is reporting on how Mayor Murray's proposal to the City Council on how to spend some of the money from the $930M Move Seattle levy.  Here's a map of the sidewalk projects.

Amazon Sends 50 Musical Instruments to Rainier Beach High

More to come but from SPS:

GOP Senators Release Their Budget

In not-good-news, the Senate Republicans in the Legislature released their budget.  From The News Tribune (partial):

Healthy Youth Survey Results

OSPI reports results from Healthy Youth Survey: Results for the 2016 Washington Healthy Youth Survey (HYS) show that teen rates of substance use in our state have remained mostly unchanged since the last survey was taken in 2014 , and that most teens avoid alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and other drugs.

Paul Allen Family Foundation Shores Up Arts Education in Seattle Schools

I'll have more news about CTE later on but here's the good news: From SPS Communications: The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Seattle Public Schools (SPS), in partnership with the City of Seattle, will open up new career and college pathways for city youth to graduate from high school “Seattle Ready,” by establishing new media arts courses in the Seattle Public Schools Skills Center. Skills Center courses, taught by industry professionals, will enable students to be competitive in the local workforce and provide the opportunity to live and work in Seattle. SPS has received a grant of $395,000 from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to fund the creation of new Media Arts courses offered through the Seattle Public Schools Skills Center . The grant will be supplemented by an additional $175,000 from the City of Seattle . Providing an initial investment, this external financial support will lead to a sustainable program. The new Media Arts courses will begi

Tuesday Open Thread

Interesting article from Mosaic about what Iceland is doing to curb dangerous teen behaviors - In Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years.

Gates Foundation and Their Education Failures

When thinking of the Gates Foundation's work in the public education arena, there are not many wins to point to except for Common Core.  Of course, that's quite a large win even though many publications either don't know Gates funded that whole mission or they just leave it out of their writing about Common Core. I may have printed this editorial that appeared in June of last year in the Los Angeles Times   before but it bears repeating because of what the Gates Foundation says about itself.  About Common Core: The Gates Foundation strongly supported the proposed Common Core curriculum standards, helping to bankroll not just their development, but the political effort to have them quickly adopted and implemented by states.

Bill in Legislature -

This will affect several hundred Seattle High School students. There are two bills currently moving through the legislature that would require 4 year colleges and universities in the state to grant credit for AP exam scores of 3 or better. SB 5234  and HB1333 The bills do not mention IB.

SAT Problems at Roosevelt (Again)?

I'm hearing rumors about this. Anyone with on-the-ground info from their student?

Friday Open Thread

What's on your mind?

Dr. Nyland's Letter to Staff on the Budget

Dear Seattle Public Schools Staff: Seattle Public Schools faced a $74M budget shortfall for next school year. Recent bipartisan action in the Legislature reduced that shortfall by $24M. Thank you to the Legislature and Governor Inslee for delaying the Levy Cliff and for restoring dollars, already approved by our local voters, to our 2017-18 budget.

Starting the List

Thinking about the comments in my thread about coming changes in public education, there was the issue of textbooks.  The thought is that hard-cover textbooks will go away and on-line curriculum will be the norm. Except that it isn't playing out that way even in 2017.

Big Shout-Out to Brian Rosenthal

Well, I feel just like a mother hen. The New York Times is reporting on the hires of three new reporters and one of them is former Seattle Times education reporter, Brian Rosenthal.

Thoughts on the Future of Public Education, Part 1

Pearson , the education publisher, suffered a huge loss in February of this year.  From The Guardian : Pearson has reported a pre-tax loss of £2.6bn for 2016, the biggest in its history, after a slump at its US education operation. The profit warning was prompted by the collapse of its US higher education business, which is struggling with a decline in textbook sales and the transition to digital learning. The US business accounts for two-thirds of Pearson’s revenues and profits. I point this out because even as Seattle Schools struggles with textbook adoptions, are textbooks on the way out?  I think that may be true in years to come but until every single child has a tablet or access at home to a computer, I'm not sure how that could be mandated.  It would seem to be a real cost-saver to districts as well as add to the variety of curriculum available. From The Atlantic , What is the Future of Public Education?  Four agendas beyond school choice the new administration m

School Board Meeting Tonight

There are a couple of items on the agenda to note. 1) Public testimony is full and "ethnic studies curriculum" dominates the roster, including teacher, Jon Greenberg and former school board director, Marty McLaren. A Facebook group around this topic said they would have a "rally" during the Board meeting.  I'm thinking they mean holding signs.  I'm sure it will be lively. 2) There are also two people who will speak to a budget transfer that is to happen in capital funds for " energy efficiency projects ." 

Tuesday Open Thread

Hearing that the Magnolia Community meeting held last night had someone handing out flyers for a charter school on Queen Anne.  Anyone there who might tell us what it said? I have to say that if you tried to hand out flyers at a charter school meeting about regular public schools, you'd likely get asked to stop (or leave). It's Pi day ! And Albert Einstein's birthday!

Badmouthing Public Schools When You Have no other Argument

Remember when I put up this meme on Education Savings accounts that compared it to parents asking for park savings accounts?  I thought it was pretty clever. Well, the folks over at the Washington Policy Center don't think so.  And that's fine. But man, do they swing waaay too far over the line in their assessment of the current state of public schools.  To wit:

Seattle Special Education PTSA Meeting on Tuesday

From Seattle Special Education PTSA: Tuesday, March 14 from 7:00-9:00 pm is the next sche duled general meeting of the Seattle Spec Education PTSA at the John Stanford Center

Who Are These Groups?

In my effort to keep up with who's who in ed reform in Washington State, here's a list of some groups you may run into.

Letters to Betsy

That's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Washington State Charter Schools Update (Plus a New Private One)

Where are we with charter schools in Washington State?

Ethnic Studies in Seattle Schools

Update: there is to be a rally during (?) Wednesday's School Board meeting for ethnic studies in Seattle Schools.   Not certain how that will work but that's the plan being put forth. There is also a petition for ethnic studies in SPS but it has no author or sponsor noted. end of update Update 2: See end of thread for information on this topic from last month's Curriculum and Instruction meeting.  The C&I committee meets tomorrow.  (Editor's note: you are welcome to chime in with ideas, feedback, whatever.  You are welcome to disagree with my viewpoint.  You are not welcome to personally attack me.  I should not have to say that but there are a few people who have made it their mission to deny my own ethnic background for their own purposes.  This thread is about this subject, not me.) You may have seen the article on KUOW that the district is considering a proposal from the NAACP for ethnic studies throughout Seattle schools and that it be a graduation

Spring Forward this Sunday


Feds Make It Harder for Students to Access Financial Aid

From Politico: FEDS DISABLE KEY FINANCIAL AID TOOL, CITING DATA SECURITY CONCERNS:  The IRS and Education Department confirmed late Thursday that the federal government purposefully shut off an online tool used by millions of students each year to apply for federal student aid. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool, which allows students to automatically import tax information onto their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, will be “unavailable for several weeks” as a result of concerns about security of student data, the two agencies said in a statement.

Arts News

From OSPI: State Superintendent Chris Reykdal will announce formal adoption of Washington state’s arts standards at Elk Plain School of Choice in Spanaway, Wednesday, March 22, at 10 a.m.

Reading Days for Kids

Not sure if SPS is doing this but it doesn't look like it has to be a district-based activity. Let your teacher know if you'd like a "superstar" in your classroom.

Governor Inslee to Visit Highland Park Monday

From the West Seattle Blog via the WEA: Gov. Jay Inslee is visiting Highland Park Elementary in Seattle Monday to visit classrooms and discuss his K-12 funding proposal with Seattle educators. …

Seattle This and That

To Do with the kids on Saturday Numinous This light show will pop up one weekend every month for six months at the Seattle Center from 7-11 pm. Bring the kids for illuminative after-dark wonder. "In keeping with the theme of exploration," the installation will be hidden and it's up to you to find it. Check their Facebook page for hints.

Friday Open Thread

As I wrote elsewhere, Muir Elementary is closed for a second day.  The district says the school has been scrubbed of the norovirus but that many students and staff are still ill. First it was Trump's love affair with Twitter and now it appears Bill Gates thinks it destroyed Common Core . This, presumably, is why his foundation paid for this recent study (on top of the $2.3 billion he has already invested into Common Core ) analyzing the amount of artificial activity on Twitter opposing Common Core. The study claims the activity managed to “skew” the debate. Yes, tweets — tweets! — are what brought down Common Core. $2.3 billion down the drain because of 140 characters. Damn you, Twitter! Speaking of Common Core , let's bribe those kids to take the test. Jewell’s particular incentives: a raffle and a party in which kids can participate only if they have shown up to school on all PARCC testing days and “who have tried their hardest. And, the school asks parents

For Your Reading Pleasure

I have not yet perused this document on School Allocations for 207-2018 but thought I would put it up for folks to see what the district is thinking. Despite the happy victory that the levy cliff bill was passed last night by the Senate (and then onto the House for this version to be ratified), the district is still in the hole. Something to think about. Also of interest is the Capacity Management Task Force webpage .  Here you can see many useful maps such as where portable currently are AND how many more each site can support.  There are also density maps, inventory maps and attendance area maps.

Please Let Congress Know It's a No on HB610

From the Network for Public Education : In late January, HR 610 was introduced by Steve King of Iowa, with representatives from Maryland, Texas and Arizona signing on. You can read a summary of the bill here . HR 610, the School Choice Act, would eliminate the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was passed as a part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “ War on Poverty .”   Federal funds would be used instead to create “block grants” to be used to “distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child.” It would also roll back nutritional standards for free lunches for poor children. Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act will hurt school funding for disabled students. Write Congress and tell them to preserve Medicaid school funding for kids.*

Muir Closed Today Because of Norovirus

 Update :  Tweets from SPS: The building is clean and ready for students, but many staff and students still sick. John Muir Elementary will be CLOSED on Friday 3/10 in an effort to limit further spread of germs. end of update I received word that Muir Elementary is closed today due to a discovery of norovirus at the school. The district has brought in a team to clean the surfaces of the entire school.  No word yet on when it will reopen. Talking with union officials, I learned that SPS has one of the lowest standards for cleaning schedules for school districts in the state.  The custodians are on a timed scheduled for each room and only put up chairs and vacuum/sweep.  They are not required to wipe any surfaces and only dust about six times a year. I'm sure most teachers pick up the slack if only for sanitation but that's not really what we want to be paying them to do.

Levy Cliff Bill Passes

  Update from WPD: Levy cliff delay bill on its way to Governor Inslee for signature! end of update From Washington's Paramount Duty: What an evening! The Senate passed Lisa Wellman 's levy cliff delay bill! 

UW Equity Summit on Gifted Education

This is the final segment of my series on gifted education in Seattle Schools. UW's Robinson Center for Young Scholars held an Equity Summit on Gifted Education on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 9/10th.

No Bills Until Levy Cliff Bill Gets a Vote


No Levy Cliff for Any District


Tuesday Open Thread

Did you call Governor Inslee yet and request that he signs NO bills until the levy cliff bill (SHB 1059) is brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote?  If not, please get on that.  360-902-4111. The Board is going to have a nearly three-hour Work Session on Wednesday all for the Superintendent's evaluation.   I get that the Superintendent's performance IS a big report card for the district but it hard to understand - with all that needs to be examined and done in this district - that it takes this amount of time.  He didn't get a contract extension again and I doubt that even if he does get a good review that you would see that change. I learned that the union that represents classified staff, IUOE Local 609, has decided to not be part of the district's Classified Employee Week which runs from March 13-17th. From an e-mail to Dr. Nyland: I’m afraid we will have to take a pass this year.  Our membership has been under a tremendous amount of pressure and abu

Levy Cliff Impacts and GOP Senators

It can't be any clearer than this. Levy Cliff Impact: School District loss listed by Legislative District

Dems Try Again on Levy Cliff; Republicans Say, "Time to Go"

Here's how it played out (with the two major players here being Senator Marko Liias (D) and Senator Joe Fain (R).  From Washington's Paramount Duty: Thank you, Senate Democrats! Yesterday afternoon, they tried AGAIN to bring the Levy Cliff Delay Bill (SHB 1059) to floor via a 9th Order. How did the Senate Republicans respond? Instead of allowing a vote to save school districts from losing $500 million, the Senate Republicans adjourned at 5:09pm to avoid the vote.  Here's what they recommend and I agree with one additional thing: All state legislators need to hear from us: Democrats need a thank you and ask to NOT allow anything to pass until the Republican Senators allow a vote. Republicans need to hear: • It is inappropriate to hold our kids hostage like this. • The Senate Re publican plan requires $2.5 billion in unnamed cuts to other state services. That's unacceptable! It’s not a serious plan. • We are not going to even consider the Senate Republ

Legislature: Get on the Good Foot and Get It Done


Superintendent Nyland's Letter on Budget

I assume that many of you may have seen this but in case you have not, here is Dr. Nyland's March 2 Letter to Families Regarding Budget Update. (The highlighted area in red is mine indicating where I think the most people will see the impact.  I will have to ask about the class size reduction situation as I thought K-3 was protected.) 2017-18 Potential Budget Deficit Update Dear Seattle Public

McCleary Discussed as Little Gets Done

Good discussion at Seattle Channel's City Inside/Out on McCleary funding.

Tukwila Teachers Vote No Confidence in Superintendent

Former SPS staffer (Executive Director) and now superintendent of Tukwila Schools, Nancy Coogan, has received a vote of no confidence from her teaching corps (on a vote of 290 teachers, 240 voted no confidence).  From KING 5 :

Friday Open Thread

Fun vote for your kids this weekend - Google's Doodle contest.  It's one way to talk to your teens about patience ; one mom's frank talk to her son.

Vouchers are a No


OSPI and Lt Governor's Office Get It Done

From OSPI (bold mine): The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction announced today that, thanks to a public-private partnership initiated by Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib, low-income students in Washington state will be able to take Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams for free this year.


Dear Readers, There are a couple of these little people at this blog. They are sad and pathetic people who blame others for their inability to get anyone to listen to them without considering that maybe they really have nothing of value to contribute to any discussion. I know who at least two are and I am considering outing them.  I'm tire of their nonsense and, more to the point, the violence in their comments has ticked.  (I do document all the comments before I remove them and the ones aimed at Board members are reported to the district along with the names of the people I think are writing them .)  Update: not what I meant and I see the confusion now.  I document all the comments about me in my own file along with who I think it is.  The ones directed at Board members I send to the district but I do not offer any thoughts on who I think it is.  And, no one in the district has ever asked, they just acknowledge receipt of my e-mail. End of update Before anyone get

Happy Dr. Seuss Day!