Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

I went to the Work Session on the budget for next year.  More to come but spoiler alert: the majority of the Board went along with everything staff wanted.

From Senator Jamie Pedersen's newsletter:
One of the bright spots this year has been the bipartisan agreement on the capital budget, which funds a variety of building and maintenance projects throughout the state. I was very pleased to see a large number of projects that I advocated for funded in the proposal. In particular, the capital request for Seattle Public Schools that I led for our Seattle delegation was approved in its entirety! 

Seattle Public Schools - $22M (including expansion of West Woodland Elementary)
Over in Bellevue, their schools' foundation raised over $700,000 at their annual luncheon.
Ardmore Elementary School Principal Chas Miller told guests that in his 11 years as a principal in other states, he’s never seen anything like the community support for education that is a cultural norm in Bellevue.

“It’s not as if I came from a place that didn’t care about the schools, but the sheer coordination and the sheer will of so many people at the same time saying, ‘We’re going to support public education,’ was something I had never experienced in my career,” Miller said.

For the district’s youngest learners, particularly in the Title I Ardmore student population, the benefits are striking.

“In Kindergarten last year the number of students scoring ‘far below proficient’ dropped from 74% in September to 10% in June—a 64% change,” he said.
 The Times reports that $800,000 has been raised to cover testing costs for low-income students who are taking AP or IB tests this year.  

What's on your mind?


dan dempsey said...

With a coming middle school math instructional materials adoption coming, I wrote a piece about STEM and counterproductive instructional advice.

More Math Nonsense masquerading as thoughtful research

Anonymous said...

In terms of equity, a district-wide foundation would be better than the "feast or famine" disparity between PTSA funding of schools in this town...


Robert Cruickshank said...

"the majority of the Board went along with everything staff wanted."

That's troubling. The job of the Board is to make final decisions and provide strong oversight of the district - not to roll over quietly when staff presents something, especially something so important as the budget for next year. I await your writeup. It'll be important to see which board members stood with the students, teachers, and parents - and which stood with the senior staff.

Anonymous said...

I am behind Dan Dempsey on wanting better math instruction in SPS. Board member Rick Burke is someone who understands math curricula, so I hope he is prevailing over whatever the staff wants. The district has been terrible on math for too many years to count.

S parent

Happy Voter said...

Looking forward to casting my vote for School Board Candidate Robert Cruiuckshank!

Anonymous said...

Great Idea HV, Count my vote in as well.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Robert Cruickshank said...

You're going to be waiting a long time then, Happy Voter. Surely it can't be that hard to get a majority of school board members to call BS on the staff's budget and do better. I will be interested to see what the vote was. I'm sure there were a few board members who wanted to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

A couple of option schools asked for the flexibility to have bigger class sizes, so the Board rubber stamped a policy for ALL option schools to have bigger class sizes and this was slipped through before the end of the year, under the radar because everyone was focusing on neighborhood boundaries, grandfathering and school splits. The principals were notified months ago, and some may have shared this with families and it appears many did not. Why? Who knows. Perhaps they thought many things could and would still change with the budget negotiations taking place in Olympia and at the District. Perhaps they didn't read their email. Or, maybe they were okay with the change but knew current families wouldn't be happy.


Anonymous said...

It's really a shame that all the tough talk by the elected board members was just that, talk.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the latest on SBAC graduation requirements for upcoming classes, such as the class of 2020 and 2021? I read in some comments on an earlier post that the SBAC graduation requirements might be going away, but I haven't been able to find an update. I want to opt my kids out of SBAC testing, but also want to understand the consequences.

-Seattle Parent

Anonymous said...


Donations to PTSA's would plummet if you pool the donations across the district. When parents lose control of what they are getting for their donations, they will stop donating. Who would decide how the money is divided among the schools and how it is used at each school? You would give more money to the SPS bureaucracy that no one trusts.

It may be "equitable" (whatever that means), but it wouldn't help anybody.

Fed Up

not mc t said...

Gifted programs across Washington leave out black and Latino students — but Federal Way is one model for change.

Another ST / Hertzog hit piece

Anonymous said...

@yeez-what specifically do you think they haven't done that they could or should have done? I was impressed with their eagle eye approach during the neighborhood boundary and SAP debacle October thru the first week of January. Under normal funding circumstances, I believe they would be directing their attention to curriculum and instruction, advanced learning and tactics for closing the opportunity gap. There is nothing normal about this budget session, so they are having to focus on minimizing the negative impact of drastic cuts. So sad. They're not perfect, but I find it hard to assume they could accomplish too much more given the gridlock in Olympia.

Budget Realities

Watching said...

I want to know the role of Executive Directors in terms of liability issues.

We have a good board. In terms of oversight, some may not have been around during the Sundquist, Maier, Carr, DeBell and Martin Morris days when public assets were at risk, audits had 12 findings and there was a scandal. Let's not hand this board by their toenails.

Watching said...

Typo...let's not hang this board by their toenails.

Anonymous said...

Bellevue donates to their school foundation above and beyond what they donate to their individual PTA's. They do have a much more coordinated effort to support their schools and more people send their kids to their public school, because they're good. They have curriculum and supports to help their teachers succeed, and their district is run well. They have option schools, advanced learning, ELL, title one schools, lots of competing needs and interests. Sure, money can buy you quality, but Seattle has money but people here would rather spend $8,000 to $30,000 on private elementary, than give $4,000 to their local PTA. Heck! Even if those private school folks gave $1,000 to their PTA and volunteered one day per month, they would make a HUGE positive difference in our schools. But, no. And the thought of a Seattle Schools Foundation puts everyone into a frenzy complaining that the money wouldn't go where THEY specifically want it to go, so it's not worth it and a bad idea. It's really sad. And we call ourselves progressive.

Selfish Seattle

Anonymous said...

The board could demand for the super to trim at least 30% of the staff out of JSCEE and move many other positions into school buildings so those administrators have some feel for what the F$$K is going on.


Anonymous said...

Selfish Seattle,

I paid property taxes, donated money and volunteered 3-4 days each week in my children's public school for 6 years. It did not make any difference at all, much less a huge one, which is why we left for private school.

~Been There

Anonymous said...

Anyone else blown away by the thoughtfulness of central offices in preserving our core services? And absorbing only $3.5 million of the upcoming $50 million cuts?

From our school beats newsletter:
"Prioritizing classrooms means central office will continue to take the most significant cuts. The central reductions will equal an estimated $3.5 million and will require a combination of closing vacant positions and reducing positions and/or discretionary funding.

Throughout the process, we have heard from stakeholders that preserving central services and positions that directly support students and families is the expectation of the community. We did our best, but with a remaining $50 million shortfall, every area of the district is impacted. The reductions will require a central office reorganization in order to preserve critical functions, and in some cases, work will not continue. "

-NW Mom

Anonymous said...

There's nothing progessive about progressives . The group should be called the anti Constitutional pack.

People in Seattle tend to only become progessive when they are directy impacted negatively by something or someone. There's usually lots of ego/s involved and impunity is guaranteed.


Cap hill said...

Selfish Seattle, I donated almost $10,000 over two years to my child's public high school. I also served as the treasurer and president of the PTSA and spent hundreds of hours per year raising money and recruiting volunteers. Almost every cent we raised went to kids/programs that benefited other people's kids - e.g. not the kids of the PTSA members.

On the last day of my term as PTSA president, the principal used an interview in the Seattle times to announce that he was eliminating all of the 9th grade honors classes in LA/SS - without consulting families, without any process, without any plan - because there were too many white kids in the honors classes. After that, the principal refused to meet with parents, didn't attend curriculum night etc.

The problem isn't that Seattle people are selfish, the problem is that SPS sucks. It has driven out all of the people who could give $4K to a public school. As a result, the private school system has 28% of the kids but about the same amount of total funding.

Perhaps SPS should think differently about the whole problem and better harness the resources here in Seattle. Tom's shoe company provides a free pair to someone in need when you buy a pair. Perhaps Seattle might think about more enrichment and APP programs on a Tom's-like model.

It is so broken as is, might as well try something innovative.

Anonymous said...

Seattle Parent,

About SBAC until recently the Feds were out to punish any district or school that tested less than 95% of its students. New law prohibits that.

About SBAC and graduation. I am not sure. There was some legislation introduced to junk SBAC passage as a graduation requirement; but I don't know what happened to it. I believe that SPI Chris Reykdahl is for junking SBAC as a graduation requirement.

Hopefully someone knows more than I about this.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

If a student can't pass the SBAC then we really have issues.


Anonymous said...

@ Selfish Seattle, you don't know what you're talking about.

Sure, money can buy you quality, but Seattle has money but people here would rather spend $8,000 to $30,000 on private elementary, than give $4,000 to their local PTA. Heck! Even if those private school folks gave $1,000 to their PTA and volunteered one day per month, they would make a HUGE positive difference in our schools.

Years of giving money and volunteering in the classroom and on fieldtrips and in afterschool programs and on labor-intensive PTSA boards and attending SPS advisory committee meetings and such has done little good, at least for my own children. Did my contributions help other students? Maybe, and that's why I did them. But whatever those theoretical benefits are, they sure didn't trickle up, down or around to my own kids, who had pretty poor experiences in SPS. We tried, and tried, and tried again...then ultimately didn't leave. There were a lot of little things that teachers and principals could have easily done to improve things, but they wouldn't. As Cap hill said, the problem is that SPS sucks. As a system, SPS simply lacks a culture of putting kids first.

When you see your child falling through the cracks, you don't throw a bunch of money down into the abyss with them--you throw them a rope so you can pull them the hell out of this district.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I would have to concur, Selfish Seattle. I have been blown away through the years by how many parents in public schools DO give and give and give.

How do you think we have superior jazz bands? Parents.

McDonald parents and JSIS parents raise over $250K per year for IAs (apparently, this is going down as the district seems to be worried over the parents' ability to keep it up and rightly so).

Many, many parents volunteer and many more wish they did have work schedules to be able to do so. (That said, every parent could volunteer a couple a times a year.)

And SPS loves this and takes advantage of it. You certainly don't hear them thanking all the parents and PTAs for funding all the FTE that they do. If tomorrow PTAs said no more, the budget crisis would be much worse.

Anonymous said...

Cap hill,.... you are spot on with =>

"On the last day of my term as PTSA president, the principal used an interview in the Seattle times to announce that he was eliminating all of the 9th grade honors classes in LA/SS - without consulting families, without any process, without any plan - because there were too many white kids in the honors classes. After that, the principal refused to meet with parents, didn't attend curriculum night etc.

The problem isn't that Seattle people are selfish, the problem is that SPS sucks."

Fine example of Petty Little Dictators Syndrome.

The challenge as an educator is to provide each child with the opportunity to maximize their potential. That is what I mean by "equity". This principal cares nothing about maximizing each student's potential. The principal is apparently all about politically correct optics which has zero to do with education. The selection of materials and instructional strategies pushed by SPS contribute to large achievement gaps. --- Yet SPS changes nothing of substance and decides the elimination of honors classes is a solution. YUP SPS Sucks.

The unintended consequence of PLDS actors behavior, is to create a larger group in favor of charters, vouchers, and private education. ... The administration has been incredibly defective since I began watching carefully in 2006.

The SPS has an incredible resource in parents and yet it can not be bothered with parental thoughts and opinions. New definition of Insanity.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

@GoneBabyGone and CapHill...good points, and you highlight why our legislators are having such a hard time fighting for McCleary funding that means a system that we have now: lots of money dumped into a horrible system with very little benefit making it to the teachers and students. BUT, is the answer to leave or point fingers? We need to hold the board and Nyland accountable. We need to vote for a better city council, Mayor and legislators in surrounding burbs who will support full and equitable funding. We need to find a better way to support each other.

Selfish Seattle

Anonymous said...

I have to say there are probably more families that are satisfied with SPS than there are ones dissatisfied. On the other hand there are probably good percentage of students that have had a raw deal while attending SPS.

You've got to hand it to the people who no matter how bad it gets can keep smiling and moving forward.

Seriously, I don't know how they do it. Is it summer vacation yet?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Regrets, I agree. I think it's like your legislator - you don't like Congress (district headquarters) but you like your own legislator (your school). I think parents believe in their schools for the most part.

Anonymous said...

@Dan Dempsey- Thanks for the information. Maybe someone can add more info about the legislation and/or pending status.

@PEEU- My concerns about the SBAC do not center around whether my kids can pass the tests. That's the least of it. If you want to learn more about the reasons for opting out of these high-stakes, expensive, inequitable and time-consuming standardized tests, there are many articles and resources online.


-Seattle Parent

Anonymous said...

Melissa and others are right about lack of parental appreciation. Whenever we volunteered, only the teachers we directly helped expressed appreciation. No principals or administrators ever thanked us (with the exception of Principal Floe - that guy is awesome). My understanding and experience has been that great principals also suffer retribution from the district administration (for being too awesome no doubt). It seems to me that the district is being held together by some great teachers and service staff, parental volunteers and parental money. These people do a great job and this is the reason we do not, as yet, have a horrible system. My kid has had a great education in the Seattle Public Schools - but we have had to fight diligently every step of the way to achieve that. And some principals and administrators (Ahem, Tolley!) have tried vehemently to oppose us.

In contrast, the administrators, for the most part, seem to be interested only in career advancement. Why are we enabling these little career fiefdoms? They come up with low impact but expensive pet projects instead of supporting the teachers who are keeping it all together. It is truly time to clean house.


Anonymous said...

Seattle Parent, why don't you opt your child out of the test regardless of whether it's required for graduation? Why don't you stand on principle? Or do you only want to engage in civil disobedience when there's no potential harm to you (or your offspring, in this case)?

To use Melissa's frequent quip, where's the courage of your convictions?


Anonymous said...

People seem to think their money buys access or influence, it doesn't and shouldn't. Money will improve your child's jazz program or club, but that's the only way to get special treatment, and in that case it's unavoidable and incidental.

Giving time and money to a school's main programs or tutoring helps all kids including your own as the academic and/or social environment is improved, so parents who can give, should do so. But expecting your wish list to be enacted or even considered because you helped out, even if it's 20,000 dollars, is crazy.


Apple OfMyEye said...

All the hating on white kids in the self-contained HCC program on Soup for Teachers is really getting me down. I have terrible news for you: my kid is white. Should my white kid be at this school or that school? Really? This is how we're going to improve public education? With everyone complaining about where my kid goes to school? Why is it any of y'all's business where my kid goes to school? My kid is not a dumpster you're having delivered. My kid is not an apple tree you get to plant. My kid is not a picture for you to center on your wall.

A Northgate teacher is kvetching about "white flight" because people leave their geozone schools to go to Cascadia. But the kids I know who "fled" Northgate aren't white. And a couple of them still have siblings at Northgate. So, it's not white flight if you're not white and it's not fleeing if you leave one or more of your kids at the school you're "fleeing." Right?

Then someone at Wedgwood is blaming my white kid for being served in a self-contained HCC school instead of attending our "integrated neighborhood school," blaming me for not insisting that my neighborhood school meet my child's needs. Oh, Wedgwood parent, if only you had any idea how hard we tried (and for how many years) to get our neighborhood school to care a flying fig about our child's education. Years of meetings and emails and discussions and lobbying and suggestions and pleading. They wouldn't even allow walk-to math. The principal didn't believe in it. We tried so hard.

And somehow it's our fault that our kid is in school B instead of school A. Well, I have news for you. My kid would be white no matter which school she goes to. And she gets to go somewhere. She has a right to a basic education. And basic education includes hiCap education. It is her right. The challenge is not to carp about which of SPS's schools my child attends or what the color of her skin is. The issue is to make sure all the kids at all the schools are getting a great education. And they're not. Eyes on the real challenge: educating all 53,000 kids. Not just mine. Forget the one apple tree. We've got a whole orchard here. And some of the trees aren't getting enough sun. Some are root-bound. Some are planted too close together. Some need to be watered. Pay attention to all of them. Not just mine.

Watching said...

How will education get funded? What deals are being made? Which stakeholders are meeting with our leaders? We won't know. State legislators have largely shielded themselves from Public Records Act. Both Democratic and Republican leaders (Frank Chopp, Sharon Nelson, Mark Schoesler and Dan Kristiansen) won't release their calendars.


dan dempsey said...

Apple of My eye wrote:

"Years of meetings and emails and discussions and lobbying and suggestions and pleading. They wouldn't even allow walk-to math. The principal didn't believe in it. We tried so hard."

SPS sucks... because Petty Little Dictators dictate based only on personal preference unsupported by relevant data and no one holds these dictators accountable for their harmful actions. In nixing walk-to-math, this PLD demonstrates no interest in presenting a child with the opportunity to maximize learning and talents.

Apparently the bottom line for this administrator is convenient scheduling ease. Pretty easy to figure out why this principal didn't believe in walk to math.

Anonymous said...

Whitman middle school just received notice that SDOT is planning to remove the pedestrian overpass located at 92nd and Holman Road. Instead SDOT will install surface level crosswalks and control signals. SDOT claims this is a safety improvement project asked for by local residents.

Safety improvement? Red lights and crosswalks can not prevent distracted drivers from hitting children. This has to be one of the poorest decisions ever, SAFETY ...WTF.

Parents we need to stop this from happening! We had a 12 year old boy hit and nearly killed when SDOT changed the crosswalk just up the road on 15th.

This stinks!


Anonymous said...

KING 5 reporting--

Seattle's newest sanctioned homeless camp opened on Aurora Avenue North on Wednesday.

The site features 22 tiny houses with access to showers, electricity, and furniture.

For the first time, campers will also be allowed to bring something inside their houses that's never been allowed in a sanctioned homeless camp before: drugs and alcohol.

Are they kidding? RESMS will be very close to a drug camp? Please tell me this is not so.

RESMS Parent

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me if tomorrow Friday is the end of the quarter? My kid can't tell me and neither can I find it on my school or district calendar. Am I the only one in all of these places that cares about quarter grades? Apparently so.


Anonymous said...

WMSP, that's weird. Did you get an answer why "people" want it removed? That's a busy, congested area and with the curve in the road, makes for poor visual of turning vehicles and pedestrians crossing the road.

I wonder if that big project on Holman which is close to being done is the one requesting the overpass removal. It might be unsightly for the 3rd floor dwellers?


Anonymous said...

I called JAMS and they said tomorrow is the last day of the quarter. I care about that too... Last year I contacted SPS and they added in a quarter end date. It really sucks when there is homework missing etc.
JAMS mom

Anonymous said...

@ JAMS mom, thank you.

Doesn't it scare you that our administrators at the central and school levels could care less about a major school date? It shows about the level of academic commitment I've come to expect from SPS, I am sad to say. My child will make it through middle school but it is going to be because of care and support from home. Not the public school system.


Anonymous said...

Yes it really bugs me. When we get busy I forget to check on missing homework. And then there is a strict deadline with no late work allowed (after a point). Obviously, teachers have rules so students will learn to do things on time, and also it is hard to grade a bunch of different stuff at once. I want my kid to do things even if I discover it is late. However my kid won't turn it in if the teacher won't accept it. So, it is a process... The date should be on the calendar for middle school and high school families. Both first quarter and third quarter.
JAMS mom

Anonymous said...

A few updates; the reason stated for removing the overpass is because it impacts drivers' line of site. They also said some elderly people couldn't use it with all the stairs. I'm totally with folks who think removing it is a bad idea. When the overpass goes down, I think it is just a matter of time until someone is hit.

In regards to Aurora Little Houses encampment being close to the school and the dangers involved. It's actually worse than you think. Because of the type of encampment it is, folks will be admitted without id. That means no one will know who is actually living at the encampment until they get id. Sexual offenders, serious criminals can all live there until they get an id. Once the get an id, they will be asked to leave if they fall into certain categories. People at the encampment are supposed to help folks get id. I'm not seeing that that will be a quick process.


Anonymous said...

Oops line of sight, not line of site. LOL!

Anonymous said...

The grading periods are shown on schoology. I agree they should be more obvious, but they are there.


n said...

Dan, where is the research on walk-to-math? I've googled and used Eric and Jstor many times and found nothing. Can you help?