Tuesday Open Thread

Ballard High School Viking RoboticsCongrats to Ballard High's Robotics team!   From GeekWire:

A robotics team from Seattle’s Ballard High School accomplished what no program from the Pacific Northwest has ever done. The Viking Robotics team took home the world championship at at FIRST Robotics competition last month in Houston.

The event April 20-22 featured approximately 400 teams, including groups from Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Israel and China, according to a news release.

In case you missed it, the Legislature passed a bill so that parents may send sunscreen to school for their child to use on their own.  Previously, teachers and others could not allow sunscreen because it was considered some kind of "medicine" that only a nurse could administer.  It seems it's a pretty basic item now especially for field trips so seems like a good move.  See the video of the woman whose children were badly sunburned on a field trip makes it pretty clear this is needed.

What's a bit unclear to me is whether one child can offer it for use by another.  I'm thinking the district might have to make that call.

More skin news - the on-line retailer, Zappos, announced a section for clothes with fewer issues for those with sensory issues.  I personally love Zappos for their wide selection of shoe sizes (I have little feet) and free shipping, both coming and going.
The retailer said recently that it is launching a special section on its site to highlight “functional and fashionable products designed to make life easier for those who have challenges getting dressed.”

The new collection dubbed Zappos Adaptive features items that are reversible, pieces that are soft to the touch as well as clothing without tags, buttons and zippers, the company said.

The selection also includes slip-on shoes, those with easy-to-use fasteners and orthotic-friendly footwear.
Mayor Murray has announced he will not be running for a second term.  So now, except for former Mayor McGinn, I have a lot of mayoral candidates to interview about their thoughts about public education.  Let me know what you think I should ask.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Thank you Melissa, Kelly and so many others for the great information and for taking the high roads to spur good discussions. Thank you for deleting all those negative comments on prior (Lincoln) threads. What a drag that some people need to be so negative, resulting in having to close a post to further comments. I appreciate this blog!
Eric B said…
I know my student's waitlist hasn't moved, but have any other ones started moving?
dan dempsey said…
Anyone who has been teaching for a sizable length of time has experienced the onslaught of Professional Development. Some good and some terrible stuff has been my PD experience. I have often wondered if the late starts and early releases for most of this stuff including Professional Learning Communities helped students learn more effectively or simply deprived students of instructional time.

Here is an interesting piece about providing a better experience for teachers by actually connecting PD to the curriculum and producing better teaching of the curriculum and better use of instructional materials. ==>

Time to Connect Professional Development and Teacher Training to Curriculum

For professional learning to be optimally relevant and useful to teachers, it needs to build on the instructional materials teachers use in their classrooms. Separating the work of implementing standards-aligned curriculum from the ongoing professional learning in which teachers engage is not only inefficient but also incoherent; it undermines the success of both. System leaders have a responsibility to intentionally weave these work streams together. By making these two parts of a whole, they can accelerate and deepen progress to the benefit of teachers and their students. High-quality, standards-aligned curriculum and accompanying student tasks are rich enough to occupy many years of developing teachers’ professional expertise. As one teacher put it: “Teachers should not be expected to be the composers of the music as well as the conductors of the orchestra.” System leaders should respect the artistry and skill required to teach students for deep comprehension, and they should align systems to support teachers in meeting this goal.
Anonymous said…
Deleted my comment?...why. I think we would like to know if anyone running for mayor has similar skeletons in their closet like Ed Murray does.

It's the major news story that everyone is talking about but you.

Anonymous said…
Is the school board still functioning? Doesn't seem like it.

Anonymous said…
@Eric B said...

I think there was at least 25 students let into Whitman off the wait list, but I only know of one student that got into their choice school off the wait list. I got the number of 25 by comparing the first wait list to today's wait list.

Last year my child was second on the wait list and it never moved so they did not get in.

Admission confirmed there won't be much movement if any from this point forward.

Whitman Parent
Anonymous said…
Is anyone else feeling like throwing money at the cluster-of-an-operation won't help?

Fix AL
Nope, I think the district does need more money BUT the Board needs to more closely oversee the spending better. I think the district has hidden pockets of money and the Board needs to asked for real data in a format that makes sense.

Mr Bigly said…
This board will never challange the administration in any meaningful way.

Mr Bigly said…
I just wanted to say that Director Burke is a fine advocate for AL and thats a positive thing for the HCC community. However there is a public trust issue around the SAP that he would be well served to publicly address as he has done so about Lincoln.
kellie said…
@ Eric B

I did a rough comparison of the wait list reports. Per the most recent report on the website posted Monday morning, there were 3,090 students on waitlist this week. That is compared to last week's of 3,020.

Other than 70 additional students, there were no meaningful changes.

@ Whitman Parent,

Did those 25 student get moved on Monday? If so that is a good hopeful sign. But there is more than enough room for all 74 that were waitlisted.
Anonymous said…
@ Mr Bigly, can you clarify what are all these things Dir Burke has done for AL and HCC. I have not gotten the sense that is his focus area, so am curious why you feel so strongly.

I'm just mystified at this "what's wrong with Burke? stuff. There are six other directors. Maybe we should have thread on all the directors' strengths and weaknesses.
Anonymous said…
Did l interpet the wait list incorrectly? I had 26 7th graders and 28th 8tb graders on the orginal wait list. Today theres 8 and 8. So it lools likes there is a change of about 38 not 25. Does this seem correct?

Whitman Parent
kellie said…
@ Whitman parent,

Here is the link to the waitlist that was updated yesterday morning.


Anonymous said…
I agree, Melissa. He has been so thoughtful and engaging and doesn't make disparaging remarks about broad groups of students. I guess maybe that's what some like: HCC bashers. Sad! Watching him through the SAP and neighborhood boundary discussions, and dealing with the Cascadia split and grandfathering decisions for Hamilton and Whitman; I will say he was the most involved in dialogue with the ENTIRE community and never favored any particular cohort or group. Maybe he is being targeted because he puts himself out there as a leader and communicates so well and often. At least he has community meetings at a time when working and non-working parents can attend. People need to get a grip and have some respect. Can you imagine putting in those hours for basically no pay?

Lighten up
Anonymous said…
Director Burke has been working (successfully) to improve the SPS math curricula for, literally, decades. That benefits all students in the district. He's made significant progress in this area where no one else has had the stamina to persist. Now, it appears that he is also one of the most responsive Board members as well. If Director Burke has a "weakness" it is that he is very diplomatic and respects everyone's views. I guess we've all forgotten what that is like, what with the ugly anti-AL trolls running rampant in the district and our present US presidential administration.

Flummoxed said…
When did SPS remove the ability to search on their website? Absolutely ridiculous! Who do we contact complain? I would search for the appropriate person directly but...
I thought there was still a Search feature in the upper right of the website, no?
Anonymous said…
It looks like the Honeymoon period is over for the new board members.

Yes, please create a post outlining each director's work. It would also be interesting to contrast their work against their campaign rhetoric.

--Big Mama
Anonymous said…
For those in the midst of testing season - how does a student opt out of high school Math SBAC testing if they have taken the EOCs (and are part of a graduating class for whom EOCs still count)?

-enough testing
Big Mama, I might put an Open Thread but I don't have the time to write up a thread for every single director.
Greenwoody said…
The school board should have fired the Executive Directors. Doing so would have initiated a sea change in how the JSCEE staff treat the board - they'd be more deferential, more collaborative, and more responsive if they knew the board was willing to fire them. The senior staff seems to have expected the EDs to be fired. But the board wouldn't do it, and now the staff is emboldened. Once again, a board elected with a mandate of change is proving unwilling to follow through, and the staff know this board, like previous boards, can be rolled.

Being on the board is hard work. There's no money, no staff support. People can and do get ground down. And when individual board members who are willing to fight see others decide "nah I don't want to fight alongside you" then it makes them less likely to want to stand and fight too. Nobody wants to take on the JSCEE staff alone.

I'm sympathetic, but ultimately we need board members to power through. They need to understand that the purpose of a democratically elected school board is to side with the public against the bureaucracy when needed, to ensure that the bureaucracy is reined in and that it serves the public. All bureaucracies will try and justify their own existence and protect their power even at the expense of the public good. So we elect board members to counteract and stop that tendency. We won't keep a democratically elected school board if that board isn't able to deliver. If things don't change, we may not be able to stop an appointed board from happening.

We have another round of school board elections coming up and one of the main things we need to ask potential board members is how resilient they are. Will they come in and clean house - and be willing to keep at it even when it gets hard and difficult and lonely? Will they pledge to not renew Nyland's contract, and what will they seek in a new superintendent? Will they slash Central Office, even when senior staff push back and come up with new excuses? Things like that.
Anonymous said…
I don't think the board can fire directors. They can only fire the superintendent.

Anonymous said…
The school board is deliberately configured to be ineffective. It's very difficult to build a quorum on almost issues and the district knows this. Every time you think the board is going to take charge of anyone of the real issues effecting students along pops up some sort of administrative manufactured crisis and all eyes are diverted. It's a pattern we have seen for many cycles.

Make the best with what you have and be thankful if you are bless with abundance. Waste not want not. Are you listening SPS?

Cool Aid

Flummoxed said…
Melissa, at least on my web browsers, there is no search box in the corner anymore, only a dropdown translation menu. I tried navigating to a few different pages to see if one popped up, but no. The search feature is gone.
Anonymous said…
The board can strongly suggest to the staff to make changes, then respectfully DIRECT the superintendent to "MAKE IT SO". The board won't agree to work this way and there's one particular board member in the north end who consistently refuses to get aggressive.

Lynn said…
The search box is still there. I have to wait a second for it to show up - at first it's just the translation menu. What browser are you using?
Lynn said…
enough testing Just send an email to your student's counselor or the school's testing coordinator telling them that your child will not be taking the test.
Flummoxed said…
Aha!!! Looks like my adblocker was filtering out Google Custom Search. It has never done this before. Whew! Very strange. Sorry to ring false alarms (but with SPS it wouldn't have been a stretch to see them doing this...)
Greenwoody said…
The board can defund positions using the budget process.
Anonymous said…
Early dismissal days are such wasted days (today, for example). We're really going to do this once a week next year. Madness.

Mag mom
Watching said…
Mayor Ed Murray held a press conference. He had this to say:

“The City of Seattle is happy to contribute this funding to help the School District better serve our students and put them in a position to succeed,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This use of Families and Education Levy resources will go to implementing a better bell schedule and helping our students get to and from school safely. These are our children and I am committed to ensure they have all the tools they need to get a great education.”


The funding must be approved by the Family and Education Levy Committee, and city council. Murray should not have made an announcement until funding was approved.
Anonymous said…
Is Ed Murray writing checks SPS can't cash? This might turn into a big mess just like the SAP promises. If you like you plan keep your plan. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. I you want to stay at Whitman you can stay at Whitman.

More lies
Mr Bigly said…
Stop trying to garner sympathy for school board members. They all went into this with their eyes wide open. They all made grandiose statements about making change.
Watching, the Audit and Finance Committee will be discussing the grants at tomorrow's meeting. I'll let readers know what gets said.

Mr. Bigly, and you didn't?
Mr Bigly said…
I'm assuming you're referencing my Burke comment? If so then, no I did not. A small positive comment is not trying to garner sympathy. Burke openly stated the enormous task he was willing to take on by being on the board. He appears to want to improve math in SPS and that's good.

Maybe he can find where SPS dumped all the math books he used while attending SPS, Burke said he was successful using those.
Anonymous said…
Agree that early release days are a waste. Every week seems nuts to me.

Missk said…
Anyone know why the principal at Dearborn Park is leaving?
I don't Missk but principals regularly saying they are leaving at this time of year. I'll have to ask about the principal movement but I am feeling like it might be lower this year than others.
Anonymous said…
I am hearing from our PTA Legislative Liason that the funding from the city to move to two tiers next year is in jeopardy.

The monies need to be approved first by the Seattle City Council, and the Families and Education Levy Oversight Committee. The F & E Committee voted yesterday, 4 opposed and 3 for. Their vote is not binding, but it will be passed along to the City Council as a recommendation.


Anonymous said…
Do you know why the 4 opposed, StepJ?

Anonymous said…
Just double-checking, because my kids still aren't school aged just yet: early dismissal is one hour early on Wednesdays, yes? And people are worried about this?

I'm asking because this has been the norm for at least 30 years everywhere else I've lived. I get that it's weird if you're not used to it, but I've honestly never heard of it being an issue. Maybe find out how other cities cope.

Incidentally, I also attended middle school from 9:15 to 3:50. Didn't impact social life, but it wasn't high school, either - we had those insane early starts.

The Levy Oversight Committee is full of corporate ed reform types who prefer that the Levy money be used to promote those corporate ed reform policies and high stakes testing. I am not surprised that 4 of them opposed this common-sense move. We need the City Council to deliver on Ed Murray's promise. And we need to push mayoral and City Council candidates to overhaul the Levy Oversight Committee, and the Families and Education Levy itself, when the Levy is up for renewal next year.
Anonymous said…
@Robert--is it the Levy Oversight committee that supports the huge sum of money for salaries for the pre-k program that is duplicative and serves a tiny number of kids considering the budget?

Fix AL
Anonymous said…

I don't know who the 4 are. That detail wasn't included in what was passed on to me.

Anonymous said…
I wounder how Initiative 1550 will impact things. Most people I speak with about levies are feeling over tax and under benefited by them. Murray's sudo socialists backdoor pro developer stooge policies have made even the staunchest pro tax constituents rethink the value proposition of ever increasing taxes via levies.

My fear with 1550 is that Seattle will think it has an opportunity to back fill the 25% reduction in county taxes with new city taxes.

Anonymous said…
@ Pollyanna, I think one of the issues here is that our schools are crowded, which has squeezed out after school childcare programs at many locations. If elementary goes 8-2:30, that early release would be 1:15 every Wednesday. That can be an extra challenge for parents trying to work a full day. How did parents in your old community typically deal with it?

half daze
Watching said…

School funding model is a pivotal issue in the funding debate.

Per pupil funding will open the door to vouchers and will benefit charter schools. For the second time, this week, I am hearing about a hybrid model.

A Democrat had this to say:

"We are open to a per pupil funding model that is grounded in the prototypical funding model and does not supplant state funding with federal or local resources."

Will we get sold-out in the name of compromise?
Watching, which Democrat said that and where was it said - is there a link somewhere?
Anonymous said…
There are a fair number of tax payers that support vouchers.

Watching said…
Seattle received $58M to provide 2000 students with prek. The city's program is serving students outside of the city. This year, the city will provide prek for 585 students. In essence, the city is spending approximately $99K per prek student.

Heck, if we gave each family $99K (the cost of sending each child to pre-k)...these families could have been provided housing and food for an entire year!!


I am still waiting for Seattle Public Schools to provide a document indicating that the city is fully compensation the district for administrative fees, food etc.
Watching said…
Murray's answer: "Murray may boost funding with a soda tax."
Anonymous said…
"Murray's answer: "Murray may boost funding with a soda tax."

I will just pickup my soda in shoreline when I'm there buying my tax free bullets! Ha Ha Ha

There was another wining tax and spend measure that didn't work. Woops we forgot about .22


Anonymous said…
I was talking to a friend today about how much we give to our PTA. She has two kids in private school here in Seattle, but lives on Mercer Island. She said the Mercer Island Schools Foundation makes an ask to the community every year to help pay for librarians, math and reading specialists, arts, music, science, enrichment...for their schools. She reports that many families give, even those without kids in their public schools.

Anonymous said…
After being corked over by the SAP I will never give to the PTA or pay for any activities again.

No representation
Anonymous said…

That makes sense. Back in my childhood city, there weren't after-school care programs at the school in the first place.

I grew up pretty poor and went to at least one high FRL school, by I can't think of anyone I knew that was particularly affected by the issue of an early day (my elementary got out at 2:50, 1:50 on wed). What I mean is, either your parent was at home, in which case it didn't matter, or they worked a 9 to 5 type job, in which case you went to daycare and it didn't matter. Whatever setup you had for a normal day was much the same on Wed. There were also a lot more cases of kids going home with their friends, or going home alone as latchkey kids, than nowadays, I imagine.

That was some time ago. I'll have to ask my sister if this is an issue for parents at her kids' schools. She lives in another state from the one I grew up in, but they have the same early Wed schedule.

Anonymous said…
@no representation--really? Did your school have a variety of view points to represent, or did you feel there was one clear view point that was never voiced through the PTA? Did you try to engage them, and if so, what happened?

There are many opinions in the community, it is difficult for a PTA to represent every concern at a given school.

I will keep giving because I appreciate our added staff and enrichment programs, and I'm happy showing up for meetings, sending emails and making calls when I have an issue that matters to my student and falls outside the scope of PTA advocacy.


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