News on Lincoln High from Director Burke

I'll just note that, at this point, it's not entirely clear who is the Lincoln community except for those who live close-by the school.

Good for Director Burke for being detail-oriented and keeping the community updated.

From Director Burke (bold mine):
Dear Lincoln Community,

I have two updates to share with you today.  I’m pleased to announce that Ruth Medsker has been selected to become the Planning Principal at Lincoln High School.  Her start date will be July 1.  We have also secured a date for the next Lincoln community meeting to be held the evening of Tuesday, May 23rd.

In consultation with the Chief of Curriculum and Instruction and the Chief of Schools, Ruth Medsker was chosen for this role for many reasons, including her experience and strengths in leadership, planning, communication, and collaboration, as well as her extensive knowledge and understanding of the myriad of systems associated with the opening of a school. She will begin her new position in July, as she leads the opening of the first comprehensive high school Seattle Public Schools has opened since Nathan Hale High School in 1963.

Ms. Medsker has served in a variety of teaching and administrative roles in Seattle Public Schools, including: Special Education teacher, Assistant Principal, Principal, and Executive Director of Schools, and most recently principal of West Seattle High School. Currently, in addition to leading West Seattle High School, she is also serving as a Principal on Assignment, co-leading the 24 Credit Task Force, tasked with bringing the high school programs in Seattle into alignment with the new graduation requirement enacted by the Washington State Legislature.

Her work in the coming year will include extensive community engagement with students and families in the Northwest and Northeast regions of the city; regular planning work with the facilities and planning teams of both Seattle Public Schools and the assigned contractors working on the project; beginning the assembly of a leadership team that will assist in the formation of the core faculty for mission, vision, curriculum, and planning work; and regular community meetings with the surrounding Wallingford community as the school comes to life, opening on Fall of 2019.

Ms. Medsker’s professional preparation includes a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Washington State University and a Master of School Administration from Western Washington University.

I’m excited for the leadership and innovation that Principal Medsker will bring to Lincoln High School, and look forward to ongoing community dialogue as we work through the complex planning process over the next two years.  Ms. Medsker will introduce herself in person at the next Lincoln High School community meeting  which will be held on Tuesday, May 23rd.  Details about this meeting are being finalized and will be communicated to families and community next week.

Thanks for all the ideas and enthusiasm over the last 6 months – Lincoln is going to be amazing!

With kind regards,

Rick Burke
Director SPS Dist. II


Anonymous said…
Is as bad as it gets, if you wanted to nail the coffin shut, before it even had a corpse, this is the way to go.

Wallingford, Queen Anne, Magnolia - get working on that alternative address pronto.

Lincoln is a big deal. They need to get it right. They need to get rock stars. Instead they get this, this is not the pedigree anybody who's paying attention would be inspired by, unless of course we're talking about inspired by fear

Tracy @ WSB said…
FWIW this apparently was announced to West Seattle High School's community going on 2 weeks ago. First we heard about it was when we noticed a mention in the WSHS newsletter last Monday morning (May 1st) that a hiring team was being formed, so we started asking around and published this a few hours later:

Anonymous said…
I don't want to start jumping on the district before the process begins, but I must do so now and LOUDLY to correct an obvious mistake in Burke's letter. Thank god for Burke's letter as without it the train would already have left the station. Board, staff, parents, if you are reading this, PLEASE FIX THIS MISTAKE.

Lincoln High School planning is NOT the purview of the NE and NW communities. It is the domain of all of the North End and CRUCIALLY IT IS PART OF THE CENTRAL DISTRICT. Queen Anne, Magnolia, Montlake, Eastlake, a good part of Capitol Hill, downtown and SLU. All of these communities could end up at Lincoln, depending the programs placed there, and (obviously) on the boundary line discussions, which will be happening concurrently with the planning kickoff.

The battles over reboundarying, if that's even a word, are likely to be brutal. Know what will make them downright impossible? Not including communities who eventually end up at Lincoln in the planning for Lincoln from the get-go.

It is far, far, FAR, FAR, FAR, FAR better right now to over-communicate and over-define the geographic reach of Lincoln community than to under-draw it. Every single family from north of Garfield on the Capitol Hill side, downtown and SLU in the central portion of the city, and QA/Mag need to be on the mailing list of information until such time as boundaries are finalized. I have no idea why the district is already behind in a communications issue that is so apparent. Some of these families are going to end up in that school. Since we don't know which, yet, every single one of them should be considered valuable collaborators within an incredibly complex and costly endeavor.

Get the Communications Outreach plan right. Right now.

Central Mom
kellie said…
@ Tracy, Thank you for posting that link. It was very nice to read all of the positive comments about Ruth Medsker.

@ Central Mom, The good news about appointing a person who is already a district employee is that you can contact her directly. Her information in on the SPS website. I am confident that she will include the Central area, as soon as this is flagged to her attention.

Anonymous said…
I don't know anything about Ruth Meddsker, but it seems like bad news that this is the same person heading the 24 creosote task force, which came up with the awful recommendation to move to a 3x5 schedule. That they were willing to recommend that schedule without having considered the feasibility re: IB and AP classes was crazy.

Is the district sending a message via Lincoln? The Nathan Hale principal--an apparent proponent of one-size-fits-all education and a nonbeliever in acceleration--was chosen as Lincoln's facility planning principal, and now this person who seems to have little regard for AP and IB courses is the planning principal? I hope they announce SOON who the "Lincoln community" will be, so people can get involved before it's too late.

Central Mom, I'll pass that along to Director Burke; important considerations.

Messy, I was thinking the same things.
Floor Pie said…
Good to see the positive comments about this principal on the West Seattle Blog. That's got to count for something...

Anyone know how our family can receive communications regarding Lincoln HS? We live only a few blocks away and our kids will most likely attend there. Would love to be involved in the community meetings.
Anonymous said…
She sounds like a great choice for the Lincoln planning principal. At the community meetings, the 24 credit requirement has come up as a concern often so it's good news that Ms Medsker is so familiar with it. Also, thanks to Director Burke in following through on getting the planning principal hired 2 years ahead of the opening of Lincoln. Here in Wallingford, we are really excited about the reopening of Lincoln.


Rick Burke said…
Just to clarify, the Lincoln Community I referred to in my correspondence is the list of e-mail addresses from folks who have attended any of the Lincoln Community meetings I have held to date, or folks who have e-mailed me directly. If anybody else would like to be added to my Lincoln Spam e-mails, send me a message at The circle gets wider every week and all are welcome to join.

There WILL be a more comprehensive communication plan for Lincoln put in place once Ms. Medsker is available to oversee the work.

Rick Burke
Anonymous said…
My observation of Medsker's past work in SPS is: she makes a better principal than executive within downtown cubicleworld. This job combines both. Added to that is a parent base less likely to go along with Medsker's pre-open planning authority than the West Seattle parent body she served.

So, between now and when Lincoln opens, who is in charge of The Plan? Medsker? Her supervisor downtown? An executive director? Best make it plain immediately and then stick to it. That board member Burke is running communications and is the most visible feet on the ground right now is not exactly encouraging. No rip on Burke for taking the bull by the horns. Big rip on SPS downtown management and hearty skepticism that Medsker is the final word public-facing point person between now and when she takes on actual school operations. Seen this movie before.

Separate: What Central Mom said. Double. Yesterday. Don't screw up communications.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joseph Rockne said…
If you are going to picket outside the home of a school board director, it should be with a thank you sign.

If you don't like the job they are doing, send them a note and, if that doesn't work, vote against them in the next election.

If you really don't like what they are doing, run against them and work for the change you seek.

Threatening school board directors will only lead to lower quality school board directors in the future.
Anonymous said…
Protesting is not a threat, it's a constitutional right. Really a "thank you", for what? I believe Burke shot down the idea that the board should take action to insure the promises made by the district around the SAP and REMS and Whitman be kept.

You know I made the protest comment sort of off the cuff, but now I'm thinking it's probably the only way to get some traction with the media and the board. You know it's the Seattle way.

Thanks for the affirmation.

Ted V.
Ted V., this is not the place for threats.

Directors chime in here from time to time but certainly cannot monitor every thread nor answer every comment. I feel fortunate when they do.

If you have a beef with any director, take it up with them personally via a personal meeting, Board meeting, committee meeting or director meeting.

I saw on Facebook that some were saying to send postcards to House Speaker Ryan's home because his office was refusing petitions about healthcare changes. I loathe Ryan but I believe a person's home is their sanctuary AND the place where other people in their family live.

I believe it is not right to challenge their security or peace.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
The broken promises have disrupted 100s of families in there homes and someone comes out of nowhere to label a protest comment as a threat? What's next a claim of racism?

Lets me be clear, it appears Burke is only advocating for his ideas. It's strange to see children from District 1 being forced to a school in district 2. The families in district 1 can't vote to remove Burke during the primaries because he's district 2.

It seems we have lost the ability to choose our representation.

Roberts Rules
RR, you are welcome to find another blog. I completely disagree with your viewpoint (and I'm willing to bet so are most public servants and Trump is a great example of that).

Very sad and yes, it hurts finding decent people like Rick Burke to serve.
RPM said…
I don't know anything about the person hired as the Lincoln principal, but we heard all the same horror stories about the REMS principal. I have to say I have yet to meet anyone who isn't thrilled with her so far! Let's not cry wolf until there are actual facts.

As far as the lame comments by Ted V., I was at the Board meeting when the grandfathering vote was going down. Rick Burke was fighting tooth and nail for the Whitman community. It was every other Director that didn't back him up, and it was SPS staff's fault for not dealing with the elementary and middle school boundaries thus leaving it up to the Board to fix.

I don't have any idea how you can say he isn't still fighting for the Whitman community right now. And, it's not even his area! Normally, I wouldn't respond, but Burke seems to be an incredible Board member.
Anonymous said…
I didn't even think of the SAP causing out of DD voting consequences. Good catch.

Anonymous said…
How can that be legal? We should be able to vote for the Directors that that impact our assigned schools. It's different if you use school choice.

Who determines the director districts? I need to file a complaint to have the districts redrawn.

SPS Parent
Anonymous said…
The school board sets the director district boundaries. Since these people can barley keep the district some what functional I doubt you could get them to change the boundaries, beside the map then would be off for Elementary and high school.

You could probably create a city initiative that would force the district to have at have all attendance areas schools in one director district. This makes political sense and if successful would move many of the addresses back to Whitman attendance area.


Another Name said…
I hope cooler heads prevail and individuals decide to protest outside of the John Stanford Center. IMO, it is both improper and threatening to show-up at an elected officials home, and you risk discrediting yourself.

Whitman is Pinkham's district. Not sure why individuals are going after Burke.

Thanks to our board members that work hard for their communities and are abused at every turn.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
I don't remember Burke advocating for SAP impacted current Whitman students remaining at Whitman. Burke offered only changing feeder patterns for some elementary schools.

He did in fact as I remember seemed to agreed with administration's arguments that REMS needed a full population of all grades so as to have a "rich middle school experience". I saw no empathy from Burke for the students ripped out of their community against their will.

Maybe I missed something, what do you say Mr. Burke?

Whitman Parent
SPS Parent, the districts are so people run out of them and, in a way, are the "expert" director for that region for the rest of the Board. Every director is a city-wide director.
1) We do not "out" people here. Cease and desist.

2) Many of these comments are off-topic. You are welcome to request a topic thread but not hijack others for your own purposes.

Enough said (I hope).
Anonymous said…
No I think you are wrong.

The primary is a chance for those who live in a DD 1 to choose 2 people to move on to the general. Sometimes we have more than 2 people to choose from and other times not. Now we have a "expert" who doesn't live in district 1 possibly influencing decisions that negatively effect our MS children. We have lost the ability to choose a person who will help our middle school students. Now I have to go to 2 DD meeting to try and get relief. This is wrong.

As you saw in Burke's action he was focused on DD 2 outcomes and not in helping DD 1 middle school students.

Again, I don't think you should speak for the DD 2 representative. He should care enough to answer these questions himself as he did here about Lincoln.

I sincerely hope Burke's lawyer and wife are not running interference on his behalf on this blog.

SPS Parent
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
I don't see why protesting should be limited to only school board meetings? Is that so they can control the narrative? The SAP lies need to be addressed head-on by the board members especially the ones who have effected schools in their district.

In my opinion that's Burke and Pinkham. I don't see Pinkham commenting on this blog, but Burke has frequently commented here along with his surrogates about various other issues.

Burke looks to be compelled to support the districts lies by his words and lack of action. I don't know where Pinkham stands on this, but my guess is from his past comments he believes the district should keep it's promises regardless.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
reprinting for Anonymous (no anonymous comments)

"I don't understand why people are angry with director Burke? Is this in anticipation of Lincoln or because of students not allowed to attend Whitman when they were told they would be grandfathered? He is so hardworking and open, I have really appreciated his work.

Get mad at the District liars or involve the entire board, but to point him out seems strange to me."

Yes, it is odd that people are zeroing in on Burke. And, he's not up this election cycle.

Step B, I noted several ways to talk to Board members, not just Board meetings. Outside their house, no.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rick Burke said…
For those still following the Lincoln theme, thanks for connecting. 10 new folks contacted me in the last 24 hours to sign up to the e-mail list. Keep it coming, even if you aren't in Dist. II.

For those who aren't happy with my work and priorities, feel free to send me an e-mail or drop by my next community meeting, Sat May 27th, 2:00-4:00 at Greenwood Library. I'll readily agree that we haven't reached a perfect place here in SPS, but hopefully we are making incremental progress.

Anonymous said…
For our child who may be part of the reassignment to Lincoln, we are wondering about Running Start.
-Do competitive colleges look down upon RS?
-How much weight is given to what classes are taken vs where they are taken?
-Is it better to access more advanced classes through Running Start rather than make do with limited options at the high school?
-How difficult is it to create a workable schedule with classes at both RS and your assigned school? How does one register for RS before knowing the class schedule at their high school?
-What happens to a school budget when students choose RS over classes at their high school?

planning ahead
kellie said…
I worked with Ruth Medsker on the design team for Jane Addams K8, now Hazel Wolf K8. Ruth did a really great job of ensuring that Debbie Nelson got what she needed to get the school started. I am optimistic that the success of Hazel Wolf is a good sign for this endeavor.

I am not happy with the district appointment process, with zero community input. That said, Ruth does have a few of the most critical qualifications for ensuring the successful launch of new comprehensive high school.

Having been on the design team for a brand new school, she has a good understanding of the scope of the work. Starting something new is incredibly challenging. Jane Addams K8 was the first new school and a huge challenge was that there weren't even budget codes to purchase new furniture or supplies. The entire process of getting new stuff for a new school had to be created.

Ruth has also been both a high school principal and an administrator in SPS for a long time. This means that she knows the system and she knows the intricacies of where to go for what is needed. Creating a brand new high school library is going to be a huge project. It is a huge advantage to have someone who already knows all the ins and outs which departments to connect. Same with hiring, etc.

The bottom line for me is that I am thrilled that someone is now in charge of this project. Launching a new high school is a hugely expensive undertaking. IMHO, the most efficient use of resources would have been to have had a planning principal in place last September, as the planning principal salary vanishes in the $100 Million project budget.

That said, the sooner a leader is place, the better this is for everyone who will have a high school student in Seattle.
Anonymous said…
Dear Roberts Rules,

You wrote: The families in district 1 can't vote to remove Burke during the primaries because he's district 2.

It seems we have lost the ability to choose our representation.

NOT SO... not anymore than anyone else has lost ability to choose representation.

Check the past--- directors running for re-election rarely if ever lose in the primary vote as a top-two finish is sufficient to move forward. The loss comes in the general all city ballot.

Looking at the past, when big spenders like former Directors Sundquist and Maier lost in 2011, it was not the primaries that took them out. It was the General election. Sunquist lost to McLaren in 2011 and McLaren lost in the general in 2015. Maier lost to Peaselee in 2011 and Peaselee did not run in 2015.

The likelihood of Mr. Burke losing in the primary is non-existent.

Yes, Rick Burke is a friend of mine. He graduated from Ballard as has been very involved in education issues for years serving in a volunteer capacity on committees and panels both inside and outside the SPS prior to ever running for school board. He has a very large background from which to draw upon and is a highly skilled business professional as well. His three children were in SPS all the way through and his youngest is now at Ingraham.

SPS is extremely fortunate to have Mr. Burke as director.

While Mr. Burke is a director elected by a particular region, he takes very seriously his responsibility to serve the families and children of all of Seattle.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
About Ruth Medsker, I do not know her. As she has been at WSHS for a while I looked at End of Course Assessment results. These are not very impressive. How much impact does a principal have on results? How inspiring did WSHS faculty find her?

All Grades EOC Math Year 1
Year School District State
2010-11 48.6% 63.9% 64.2%
2011-12 50.6% 65.0% 56.5%
2012-13 45.7% 66.7% 53.1%
2013-14 54.4% 68.6% 58.4%

All Grades EOC Math Year 2
Year School District State
2010-11 52.9% 70.0% 73.4%
2011-12 60.7% 71.3% 70.4%
2012-13 72.9% 81.3% 76.5%
2013-14 74.3% 71.0% 53.4%

All Grades EOC Biology
Year School District State
2011-12 57.8% 61.7% 64.3%
2012-13 75.9% 71.8% 68.6%
2013-14 72.4% 72.2% 70.3%
2014-15 36.7% 66.4% 63.9%
2015-16 30.1% 68.6% 62.5%

When did Ms. Medsker come to WSHS?
When did WSHS abandon the 4 period day schedule?

-- Dan Dempsey
Another Name said…
I would like to see college in high school.

I agree with Dan. Director Burke is a man of character and goodness.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
When looking at EOC or SBAC pass rates for high school, you need to take into consideration graduation requirements, opt out rates, and whether or not students took the exams in middle school. The SBAC opt out rate, for example, was high for those students not needing it for graduation. Students taking math EOCs in middle school are excluded in the pass rates for their high schools.

Those wide swings in WSHS Biology EOC pass rates? In 2013-14, 205/283 met standard, while in 2014-15, 18/49 met standard. Significantly fewer students took the Biology EOC in 2015-15, but why?

missing info
Anonymous said…
According to state testing requirements, the graduating class of 2016 was not required to pass the Biology EOC, but classes 2017 and beyond are...unless the bill passes to eliminate it as a graduation requirement, in which case they aren't.

missing info
Linh-Co said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Come on leave Rick alone, he's committed to protecting the administration and has said so many times. Berating him on this blog will not make him change his mind.

When leaders come from a place of no adversity it's really hard for them to have any level a apathy for those less fortunate as them.

SPS Parent
Anonymous said…
Now we just need the lawyer to chime in.

pair grown
Anonymous said…
Please don't denigrate the important substantive conversations that need to happen around Lincoln High School by name calling school board members--citizens who volunteer to take on a pretty thankless job that most of us are unwilling to do.

It's entirely possible to ask hard questions, express frustration, and demand change but still be respectful.

Thank you to Director Burke for proactively pushing for a Lincoln planning principal. It's critical that Seattle gets this right, not just for the eventual Lincoln HS students, but for students citywide.

Concerned parent (and likely future Lincoln HS parent)
Anonymous said…
Burke's for HCC, I don't think he really gives a $ about any other issue/s.

At least the HCC community has a voice on the board, the rest can eat cake. ;)

SPS Tired
kellie said…
I have been unequivocal in my remarks that Enrollment Planning's actions this year constitute a breach of public trust. As such, the post open enrollment anger and upset is very understandable.

That said, I would like to gently point out that Enrollment Planning's original timeline for Lincoln was to establish a planning principal for Lincoln in September 2019 and boundaries for Lincoln shortly after that (November 2019). Director Burke has provided a voice to all the families that found that timeline unacceptable.

Without Director Burke's leadership and advocacy on this issue, it could easily have been another two years, until there was a person who was directly accountable for the learning community that will be Lincoln High School.

This is a huge victory for the families on Queen Anne, Wallingford and Fremont as well as all the other families that will be directly impacted by Lincoln's opening. It is possible to celebrate this victory AND keep pressing on the District and the Board to comply with their own policies and repair that breach of trust.
"While Mr. Burke is a director elected by a particular region.."

Nope, every single director is first in a primary that is ONLY in their region and then, for the general election, is elected city-wide. That regional status is to make sure a director lives in the region they are elected from but every director IS your director.
Also, some of you need to not be crude and insulting. Grow up.

Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

COVID Issues Heating up for Seattle Public Schools