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Showing posts from May, 2017

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

First up. Despite the third graphic in a series from The Seattle Times in their partnership with LEV, Washington Roundtable, Stand for Children and other ed reform types via their " Education Research Institute " (maybe just call them ROI ) about public education - a series that deliberately targets Seattle Schools and only Seattle Schools, this time calling out Superintendent Nyland - the district itself has been silent. Is all the information on these graphics true?  Or true in one sense but not really?  I'm not sure that staying silent is the way to go.  Maybe Board members and/or the Superintendent should speak up.  Or, since the way the graphics have been written seems to be angled to a certain audience, maybe the district should just ignore them?  I just had one legislator from the Seattle delegation tell me that they never seem to hear much from the Board or the Superintendent and that person wondered out loud why that would be. (FYI, I was told that this

Not To Put Too Fine a Point On It But...

Update: Re: the Seattle Times. I did exchange e-mails with a member of the Editorial Board.  That person maintains that those "ads" are not part of their editorial thought. However, when media entities do not explain relationships between those they support and information they provide - including ads that include that entity - then it's bound to cause confusion.   The Times has a direct relationship with the Education Research Institute and that would seem to indicate they support the tone and purpose of ERI's work which, currently, looks like a full-time job attacking Seattle Public Schools.  To what end?  Why not other districts like Kent or Highline? I maintain that the Times truly does want the GOP spending plan, which includes funding McCleary.  It's hard to not believe that given the sources they cite in their policy and research reporting on public education. Re: KUOW.   I did exchange e-mails with an editor there. To note, they did update thei

NO to the Seattle Times Education Reporting

 At the very least, you should take all of the Seattle Times' education reporting on policies and solutions to education issues with a grain of salt.  Some of it is supported by the Gates Foundation and the rest of it is suspect.  You should be unhappy that the newspaper of record in our city is being decidedly disingenuous with readers and attempting to manipulate the conversation about public education in our state via back-room decisions with ed reformers around the state. Over the last seven years or so, I have repeatedly told various Times' education reporters that I thought their editors (via Editorial) had to be leading their reporting and every time I am told that there is a "wall" between Editorial and reporting.  Recently, I had given the Times credit for pushing and pushing on the Legislature to get McCleary done.  They didn't acknowledge their push was for the GOP plan and they would be using every trick in the book to undercut the Dems plan. 

One More Ding for Garfield; When Will the District Step Up?

Another sad story about Garfield and this time it's a counselor who had a second job that went wrong.

On Privitization of Public Schools

The Network for Public Education , started by the great Diane Ravitch and now lead by Carol Burris, also a noted public education advocate, have put together a great Toolkit on school privatization all over the U.S.  This work was generated by the push by new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

Best Wishes for Ramadan

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Wishing all those who practice the Muslim faith, a happy and safe Ramadan over the next month.

Plans for Future Magnolia and Queen Anne Assignment

From the district:

Hey, Big Spenders (that would be the Gates Foundation)

The Gates Foundation has this notice on their grants page: Seattle Public Schools Date: April 2017 Purpose: to ensure the K-12 team’s work in equity is grounded in the real experiences of teachers, we must engage them directly in our learning Amount: $225 Term: 1 Topic: K-12, K-12 Education Program: United States Grantee Location: Seattle, Washington Grantee Website: http://www.seattleschools.org  Now, my first thought is, "Is that a typo? Because $225 isn't going far.  But this is the Gates Foundation so how could that be?   As well, notice of this grant has been on Twitter from national public education activist, Leonie Haimson, with this tweet: Same time @ gatesfoundation gave $2M @ schoolzilla gave $225 to Seattle pubschls to "ground work" in teacher expernce   It's too late in the day for me to ask the district but yes, I did ask the Board about this. Speaking of t

Friday Open Thread

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Going to be a beautiful weekend so do put on that sunscreen and/or hat. I'm hearing about a disturbing slam book at Lowell that has parents concerned.  Any other information about this issue would be welcomed by me (sss.westbrook@gmail.com).  I was surprised to learn that the principal there is Colleen Stump because I thought the district long ago decided she was better not being an administrator.

Roosevelt's Principal Leaves for West Seattle HS

From Brian Vance, Roosevelt High principal:

District Picks Medsker as Lincoln Principal

From Superintendent Nyland: Dear Families: Ruth Medsker has been selected as the Principal of Lincoln High School, reopening in the fall of 2019 in the northwest region of the district. She will begin her new position in July 2017, as she leads the development of the first comprehensive high school to open in the district since Nathan Hale in 1963. The complexities of opening a high school including development of a master schedule, hiring over eighty staff, athletic coordination, and building strong elective programs like arts and music is a significant body of work. With proactive planning, we are investing in smoother transitions for students who may have to move schools and will be putting into place a rich high school experience for all Lincoln High Schools students.

Tonight's Work Session May Provoke Debate

Kellie LaRue has posted the agenda for tonight's Work Session which includes a section on the 2017-2018 budget.  Naturally, that includes the issue of staffing based on enrollment.  That then brings in the issue of waitlists.  (I also note the inclusion in the agenda of a waiver for 2017 graduates that some readers had asked about.) Page 15 of the agenda has this question (that I've asked before): What to do with Last Minute New Revenue? When the state budget is passed, AND IF we receive more revenue than anticipated, what should be done with that increase? SMART Goal funding More for equity High Needs schools  Fall enrollment/split classroom adjustments  Middle School math  Central admin restoration  Other Recommendations will be part of the June budget work session.  Let the Board know your thoughts on spending of any new revenue before the June budget work session. It is also noted that the district is still waiting for action from the City Council on the

Chief Sealth's Self-Examination

Fascinating story from KUOW this morning on teachers and administrators efforts to find out one thing lead to the discovery of another. Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle had a big problem. As one of the most racially diverse in the Seattle school district, Chief Sealth was known for the disproportionate number of students of color being disciplined and suspended. Teachers and administrators at the school realized they needed to make some changes.

Tuesday Open Thread

Bombing a concert you know will likely have a majority of tweens and teens?  There's real men for you.  A very sad day in Manchester, England.

It's 80 Degrees and Here It Comes...

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I'm not sure I really see much wrong with this dress code but then, I'm old.

School Board Candidate Updates

Three candidates have withdrawn from the races. Two are in District 4:  Jeff Jones and Anh M. Nguyen .  Neither showed for the 36th Dems interviews.  (Also not interviewed there but still in the race; Herbert J. Camet, Jr. and Sean Champagne.) One is in District 5: Michelle Sarju .  I'm a little disappointed about this one; she sounded like an intriguing candidate.  

Seattle Schools This Week

First, the date for Director Burke's next Lincoln High meeting has been changed.  From Director Burke: The next Lincoln community meeting will be held Monday, June 5 th from 6:30-8:30 + at the Hamilton Middle School Commons.  There will not be a meeting on May 23 rd as originally planned, due to multiple scheduling and space availability conflicts.  I apologize in advance for the late notice on this change and any conflicts as I tried to fit this event in with the myriad of year-end occasions. Meeting topics will include: ·          Introduction of Ruth Medsker, Lincoln High Principal starting June 1 st of this year. ·          Updates on high school boundaries – HS Boundary Task Force process and work-to-date ·          Answers to frequently asked questions from prior meetings, or process/timelines for still-open questions ·          Facility design updates ·          Dedicated time for student Q&A.  Bring your existing HS student even if they aren’t L

Want to Hear From Some of the School Board Candidates?

Those folks at the 36th Dems* don't let any grass grow under their feet.  Here's the link to their interviews with candidates for many races. For Seattle School Board they include:

Just Say No, Governor

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The Seattle Times issues the throwdown to the Legislature. I'm down with that - no new Special Session. I'm calling the Governor's office tomorrow and asking him to not schedule one. Let the Supreme Court take the reins now. Enough is enough. Lawmakers won’t reach a budget deal in 30 — or even 300 — more days The Supreme Court should get more directly involved in the state’s necessary effort to reform the school-funding system.

Summer Camp Opportunity for Autistic Youth

Come Explore the Possibilities! Theater of Possibility ("TOP") helps young people give voice to their ideas and dreams ! Through fun and zany theater games, improv exercises and role-playing, we explore the dynamics of friendship, family and school . Along the way, we shape powerful emotions and ideas into moving, profound and funny works of theater . Theater of Possibility for youth with autism spectrum and other ability differences will offer a two-week half-day summer camp for ages 8-13 at University Heights Center, 5031 University Way NE, Seattle, 98103, M-F, 3-6 PM, July 31-August 11 . Cost $600.

Dear Readers

Once again, blog business.

Last Call for School Board Candidates

Update:  As I predicted, a few more candidates at the last minute.

Friday Open Thread

The candidates for School Board continues to grow and I'll have a thread on the newest folks.   Interesting, though, that Patu still has no challenger. I'll note that Trump is considering former senator, Joseph Lieberman, as the head of the FBI .  A former elected official as head of the FBI?  Who sits on a board for one of DeVos' organizations?  Of course, that makes sense. Portland Schools passed a record $790M bond for school buildings:

Thinking DeVos and Trump Won't Get Commencement Invites After this Budget

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From the Washington Post :

Discouraging Kids from Opting Out at Washington Middle?

At the Seattle Opt-Out Facebook page, there's this:

President Peters Makes It Official; She's Not Running

From her website: After serving four years on the Seattle School Board, I will not be seeking reelection. Other obligations and responsibilities beckon at this point in my life, in the realms of both family and career.

Newest School Board Candidates

Update 2: Yet another candidate for Peters' position - Jennifer Crow. There is one Jennifer Crow with a LinkedIn profile says she is the Clinic Operations Supervisor for the Breast Imaging Center at Swedish Medical Center.  She was a mentor in the early 2000's for Youth in Focus.   There's 24 hours before the filing deadline.  This should be interesting. end of update Update:   more candidates

Ballard's Robotics Team Takes the World Championship

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Wonderful, fabulous news and congrats to the student scientists, their teachers, their families and the school community at Ballard High!

Please Help Find This Girl

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I am told this girl goes to Hale.  Her family is very worried.

Day 24 of the Special Session

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Today Is the School Board Meeting (Also Canadian PM Here)

From KING-5: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Western Washington Wednesday and Thursday to take part in the Microsoft CEO Summit. The prime minister's office said Trudeau will be at Microsoft's Redmond campus to promote the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, encourage investment in the Canadian technology sector, and draw global talent to Canada. It's unclear if the public will see Trudeau but between going to Microsoft and then downtown to see the Governor Thursday morning, traffic is likely to be tied up. I have a query into SPS about any bus schedule changes. Agenda for Board Meeting .

SIIF; Good Things for Kids and Families

The Seattle International Film Festival is just getting underway this week. One film I want to emphasize is Backpack Full of Cash , a documentary about public schools. It's having its West Coast premiere here after being the runner-up for Audience Award, Best Documentary at FilmfestDC.  The SIIF link has a trailer for the film. Backpack Full of Cash, narrated by Matt Damon, explores the real cost of privatizing America’s public schools.  The producers also created the award-winning PBS series,  SCHOOL: The Story of American Public Education  (narrated by Meryl Streep.) 

Education News Around the State and Nation

The Bellingham Herald has good coverage of THE key race for the legislature this fall - the race in the 45th where interim Senator Dino Rossi will likely be replaced by one of two major candidates.  With the Senate barely held by the GOP, this race could be a game-changer.

SPS Needs a High School Czar

I'm not kidding. There are bell time issues, 24-credit fulfillment, reaching more students with advanced learning opportunities, the reopening of Lincoln and the boundary alignment and enrollment issues that will involve. I had a good conversation recently with a director on many issues and one topic I asked about was who is overseeing all these changes to high schools.  The director said there really wasn't a single person so I asked how parents could be sure that there was alignment of all the details and oversight for the big picture.  Not sure. I am truly worried about how this will all play out.  High schools are usually big enough entities with strong principals and manage on their own.  But this is a plethora of new issues and some that will not (cannot?) be in control of principals. I urge you to ask the Board for the district to appoint one staff member to oversee all this change.   Here's another curve ball for ya. High school sciences courses are to u

Tuesday Open Thread

I have to getting going but I did want to put up two key items. One, did you get that letter from Superintendent Nyland ? What a hot mess.  Basically, please stay tuned and someday you'll find our the school schedule, bell times, transportation.  The least the district could do is provide a chart so you know at a glance what key dates there are. I also found this sentence - around early-release dates - off-putting: In further review of our data we found that Wednesdays are better for teacher collaboration time and maximizes educator participation. I find this issue of why Wednesday is better for having teachers in place versus Friday (which is when many parents want an early release day) something of concern.  The teachers contract wasn't written to emphasize penalties for non-participation in professional development? Plus, a odd sentence at the end that I don't recall him placing in other letters: Thank you for the opportunity to serve as Superintendent of Se

Rich People; Could They Please Leave Public Ed Alone?