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.

About tomorrow's Board Work Session which will include the budget for next year, the public can attended but there is no public testimony or comment.  However, since staffing will likely be discussed (which would bring in the subject of waitlists), you certainly should write the board (spsdirectors@seattleschools.org or schoolboard@seattleschools.org, the former will reach just the Board and the latter will include senior management including the Superintendent).

The Board needs your input as backup for any ideas/concerns that they may want to offer as pushback if staff cannot justify its planning.  For example, the issue of waitlists is not addressed in the manner staff is speaking of them in the SAP Transition Plan which is what they are currently working under.

Moving news from Texas via the Houston Chronicle:
"In the Houston ISD, nearly half of this year's highest-ranking students once struggled to speak English, making them among the largest groups of non-native English speakers to be named valedictorians and salutatorians by the district since 2007."
Congrats to B.F. Day Elementary on their 125th year in service to children in Seattle.  They are the oldest, continually operating school in Seattle.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
From the National Women's Law Center...

The findings from the poll conducted in May 2017 by Public Policy Polling reveal:

* 78% of Republicans, Democrats and Independents, including 76% of Trump voters, support Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in federally funded schools and colleges.
* 87% of voters, including 85% of Trump voters, back the U.S. Department of Education guidance that outlines schools’ responsibilities to promptly investigate reports of sexual assault and provide accommodations and services to students who have been sexually assaulted.
* 94% of voters believe schools at all education levels have a responsibility to address sexual assault.
* 94% of voters support using the preponderance of evidence standard in student disciplinary proceedings—which means they agree that schools should discipline students who more likely than not raped or sexually assaulted another student.
* Voters strongly believe in the notion of survivors’ choice about reporting sexual assault; 74% support letting survivors decide whether and how to report sexual assault and reject the notion of mandatory reporting to law enforcement agencies.
* More than one in four voters (26%) are survivors of sexual assault and more than half (51%) know a survivor.

--No DeVos
Anonymous said…


A few weeks ago, I posted on this blog asking for SpEd attorney recommendations as we had a matter that required immediate remediation because a school was way off base. So off base, that there was no point in talking to them, although we did immediately bring it to their attention, and specified the only outcome we were willing to accept. They balked.

The attorneys that were recommended:

Chalotte Cassady and Nicholle Mineiro
Jeanette Cohen
Katherine George
Howard Powers
Lara Hruska and former SPS attorney Chris Williams at Cedar Law

Guess what? All of these attorneys are busy!! That should tell you something (unfortunately).

Our child's situation did get fixed. But ONLY because we advocated for her/him with absolute clarity. We were polite, but clear. The school did not want to do the right thing (the obvious thing). It was only after one immediate email from us, a couple of meetings (they maintained their position), and one final phone call from us they relented. It was clear what they were doing was wrong, and that they would have to defend it because we were not going to allow our child to suffer and be further damaged, and that they needed to be realistic and realize it undefendable and so they would not prevail. Truth is, when it gets to that point, nobody wins.

It was awful. It never should have come to this. Pretty sure now my name is mud over there. It is a difficult situation to be in because they HAVE YOUR KIDS every day, for years to come, and having to get lawyers involved is a very conflict-high route to take, but, parents, you have to do what is right by your kid. And once they see that they can't do whatever they want, they may think twice before attempting violating civil rights again.

Speaking with the attorney, it was clear that the school's position was absolutely non-winnable for the school. It was so off-kilter, the attorney said I just needed to go down to JSCEE without an attorney, lay out the facts, and, that JSCEE would immediately do what we wanted because they would know they would loose a law suit if it proceeded, and that would put them into hot water with OSPI and the Feds.

Future hopes:
1. Our child can recover from this situation and learn about challenging illegitimate decisions by people with power,
2. The school won't retaliate against our children, and
3. This school never does this again to any other child (seems like they did learn about the limits of their power - that they are not the final arbiters - and that necessary thoughtfulness is required in making decisions)

Parents/guardians, do what is right for your child. When the school is laying out a path that you think is counter to your child's best interests (and civil rights), be very specific about what is in her/his interests and how that conforms to her/his Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). When in doubt, consult an expert. They really can change the conversation. No child should have to suffer.


PS - Melissa
Wondering if a non-vetted recommendation corner is possible for student-centric services such as SpEd attorneys, pediatric speech pathologists, etc. Probably not your cup of tea, but, your blog is THE go-to in the city for anything ed related. I would have been lost without the recommendations I obtained here.

dan dempsey said…
I received the following from a friend on the topic of PBL - Problem Based Learning:

The problem with some PBL is exponential learning is often confused with true PBL. True PBL takes State Standards and puts them into a project and students are held accountable by presenting their knowledge to a teacher via a well defined project rubric. Students are not left alone to explore and give only what they find, in PBL they present knowledge via their projects. In our area my students are testing higher on the State tests than their counter parts. The real advantage however is students also learn to be creative and think rather than just regurgitate information on a test. Exponential learning lets students "Explore" and they may or may not get the State standard to answer State testing. PBL in its true form has and is showing great learning results and is well documented in the literature. Exponential learning is showing poor to mixed results and generally students who have been taught this way show little gain until they are mature enough to understand what they are suppose to know via the State standards.

Hope the difference between PBL and other forms of learning is now clear. Again, not all PBL is true PBL.

He is a HS principal and his school uses PBL for all courses except Math.
Anonymous said…
"that would put them into hot water with OSPI and the Feds"

You would think that but the truth is a little different. There's not enough time or space on this blog to clarify why. If you spend a little time researching the past 15 years you will find the truth is somewhere in between a cold ice bath and hot water, but closer to the ice bath.

I would start by searching this blog and also make FOIA request for the PRR log from the Seattle school district. Those two sources will give you a very good indication of the state of special education past, present and future. You can draw your own conclusions.

SPED Parent
dan dempsey said…
Boosting graduation rates through credit recovery etc.

Slate reports on Diploma Mills here
dan dempsey said…
This is another reform math program for high schools:

The Mathematics Vision Project

It is yet another program that believes conceptual understanding can come about before procedural skills. It is currently used in at least one high school in over 45 states. Now used in Tumwater SD and at White Pine County High School in Ely, NV.

This program was developed in UTAH.
Anonymous said…
The district spends an enormous amount of capital and energy on its efforts in closing the opportunity gap, but never seems to be willing to address the problems negatively effecting SPED students graduation rates.

Will this be a topic at every school board Candidate forum or debate or simply ignored(what!)

The times published a recent study that speaks for itself,

Times story

Anonymous said…

since you mentioned speech therapy, I wanted to put in a plug for the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic (you can look them up on-line). My daughter has been seeing therapists there this past year, and we have been very happy with them. They are very reasonable priced ($30 per 1-hour sessions), waived if your child has Medicaid (they do not take insurance). Treatment is by graduate students that are gaining the practical experience that they need for their license, supervised by a licensed therapist (one down side it that you do get a new therapist every quarter). They sometimes have a waitlist (depending on both the number of clients and the number of students), but not always. One is generally limited to 4 quarters.

Mom of 4
SpEd, I wish I could but I think I would get in all kinds of issues. The Sped PTSA has a Facebook page and that's where I would advise asking. Great, great people there. Sorry for your struggle and that's what needs to change. I would write to the Board - at schoolboard@seattleschools.org so it goes to senior management - and copy what you said here in that e-mail. It is good to go on record and that very much will be public record especially if any one does a public disclosure request in the future.

FYI, I will try to work that question into my interviews of candidates. Maybe we should have a thread and explore why this continues.

Thanks, Mom of 4.
Anonymous said…
Thank you, Melissa.

I won't write the board because we don't want to plow into a fire fight. We are done. What would the board do anyway? Other than harming the reputation of the school involved (assuming they have some pride and wouldn't want to be embarrassed about they way they treat kids) they could do nothing. That is what administrative law judges are for: correction. But, the problem was corrected to how we envisioned it working best for our child.

That is the best we can do. That school has our kids, how pissed off at us/our kids do we need/want them to be? There is what is right, and then there is what is reality.

At this point, our kid's situation is righted, although how passive-aggressive folks there will be to her/him remains to be seen. We just have to move on. At least, they know we will not allow our child to be inappropriately treated. And hopefully, the take away for them is they can't do this to *any* kid. And, the Feds and OSPI may have an *uneven record* at best regarding SpEd, still, they are somewhat unpredictable, and JSCEE does not want to tie themselves onto the railroad tracks when a problem has a zero-cost solution and takes them out of jeopardy: they loose way too many times to risk going to court and loosing again. It burns their time, resources, and yes, even reputation (I know, don't laugh). And for what? To beat up on a kid?

So parents, if you have the fact pattern on your student's side, do consult an attorney. It can break the logjam and help your student avoid damaging situations. But of course, it is not perfect, and, there are risks and costs, financial and otherwise.

Ed said…
Thats funny about Christian Williams.
Anonymous said…

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm glad you were able to win this battle.

The www.2eseattle.com site has a resource page. You may want to peruse the list as well as pass on your attorney recommendations.

Anonymous said…
Anyone attend last night's meeting at Garfield? The agenda included an update of Garfield's Honors for All.

-another parent
I did and I will be writing about it soon.
Anonymous said…

I wonder if the community at Garfield remembers what Garfield was like before IPP/APP/HCC was routed to it?

I wonder if they've thought about how drastically the course availability will change upon Lincoln's opening?

Garfield may think their biggest challenge is overcrowding. But perhaps the truly most critical issue is maintaining the highest quality academics? Having space in the hallways if there's no longer certain AP courses or enough sections will have a deleterious affect that is self-reinforcing.

The auction: the money it raises and the parents who volunteer to make it happen? What if a significant faction go away? Do you think those who remain will still show up when the environment expressly targets parts of the bulldog family? How does that affect all the supports offered to students there to ensure positive outcomes for all bulldogs?

This will fall on deaf ears. There is the attractive feel-good self-righteousness of rhetoric, and then there's reality. In this town, rhetoric wins.

If we really were serious about eradicating the opportunity gap, the focus would be on serious solutions, not 'feel good' ones that actually harm the students they intended to help.

Every Title 1 elementary, K8, and middle school should have no more than 15 students in a class. Period. Free the teachers to go deep with the kids in high poverty schools. That will help grow student achievement. And, that would also make those schools, the same ones that some resourced families tend to avoid, attractive to them, which may tend to result in some have more balanced demographics. (High quality, free preschool is also critical to eliminate achievement gaps, and fortunately that is beginning to happen)

Lowering challenge for some does nothing to support growth for struggling others. But it is easy to do, and feels great for many. So it is what this town and the super seem to fixate on.

Anonymous said…
@ Sunset, right on. It's also important to tackle things early on, before the disparities become too great. You don't magically eliminate disparities by imposing new rules or restrictions or policies (e.g., honors for all) in high school, when all the prior years of education have failed to address disparities that likely existed before students even start school. High school is too late to have much impact, unless you're implementing a misguided strategy that artificially keeps high performing kids down by imposing a ceiling. That's just optics, not real change. We need targeted and intensive programs in the earlier years to help eliminate the opportunity gap.

wildcat said…
Rock on, sunset! I keep saying the goal shouldn't be "closing the gap" but instead raising the bottom. Don't track progress against the top kids. Track the lowest performers against their peer group.

SPS hasn't done a good job for my son so we go to Kumon twice a week. They can't stop that. When I am there, it makes me sick to my stomach to see parents taking kids as young as 3 years old into Kumon. What on earth is going on? Then, these parents will start SPS and say how school isn't meeting their kids' needs, my child is so "gifted". No, you're just insane and have been forcing your kid to read and do math since they were 3.

Wait for tutoring until you find out your kid needs it. Taking your 3 year old to Kumon borders on irresponsible.

Back to my point, SPS can try all they want to bring down the top, but the folks with the means won't let it happen. Therefore, they will never "close the gap". Work on raising the bottom with the small classes mentioned above, not promoting kids for the sake of promotion, etc. If we have 9th graders reading at a 5th grade level, there needs to be a serious intervention WAY before the kid gets to 9th grade. You know how bad they must feel about themselves? And, it all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sunset, I will concur that there is likely to be quite a shift for Garfield once Lincoln opens. And I agree it will not be all about more space for them.

Wildcat, you lost me after the first paragraph. I find your judgment on others' parenting (when you couldn't possibly have all the facts) troubling. My son read when he was 3 1/2. No teaching, no forcing - he just started reading. Kumon does seem young for a 3-year old but calling other parents insane and irresponsible? And how does that have anything to do with Garfield? Hard to see.

Anonymous said…
What percent of this year's 8th grade HCC cohort chose to keep their default assignment to Garfield?

I wonder if the community at Garfield remembers what Garfield was like before IPP/APP/HCC was routed to it?


Well, that was 1979. Quite a while back.

During the late 1960s, news stories circulated about racial tensions and violence at Garfield. By 1970, enrollment had plummeted to less than 1,000. A special Central Region within the school district was formed, led by an assistant school superintendent, with the intent of reestablishing quality education in troubled schools...By 1974, enrollment had grown to about 1,050, and the community coined the slogans "Garfield has turned the corner" and "This is the year of the dog."...In 1979, the APP Program for highly gifted students was placed at Garfield, initiating an academic surge with a college-oriented curriculum. The program required all 9th graders take math and science.

-googled it
NNE Mom said…
You can artificially hold down the top achieving students in Seattle's public schools by preventing them from learning (what a great and noble aim for our public schools to be pursuing???!!!).

If you take 100% of the students in Seattle:
30% are in private school (these will tend to be students from wealthier families given the cost)
70% are in public school (these will tend to be students from less wealthy families since it's free)

78% of public high school students graduate
22% of public high school students will not graduate

Not all students have families who can afford to send them to expensive, elite private schools or afford to move to school districts that don't hate high achieving students. Seattle students deserve a chance to get a good, competitive education in the public school ecosystem. I can't afford to send my kids to Evergreen or Country Day or Lakeside. I can't afford to move to Mercer Island. We're not high enough class to fit in with any of those people anyway. But my kids are good students. They're hard workers. They deserve at least a chance to work hard academically and thrive within the public school system in Seattle.

UW admits a lot of students from outside of Seattle Public Schools. They admit a lot of students from out of state and out of the country. Shouldn't Seattle public school students have at least a chance of competing?

Seattle companies hire workers from all over the place. Our marketplace is increasingly global. Local kids who come from poor families should be able to compete. The public schools have a very important mission: to help close the gap between families who can afford private school and those who can't.
Sandy said…
Yeah, couldn't we do our best to educate the 22% who don't graduate AND do our best to educate the top achieving students? Why are we acting like the two goals conflict? It should be totally possible to do both.
Anonymous said…
Approaching it as a zero sum game - the belief that offering advanced classes takes away rather than adds to - is what I fail to comprehend.

I see references to the image of kids lined up at a wooden fence, trying to peer over. It is part of a discussion around equity. In Image 1 (equality), all kids are on the same height box, with the shortest unable to look over the fence. In Image 2 (equity), the tallest child has given his box to the shortest, so now all can look over the fence.

In other versions, Image 3 shows a chain link fence so children of all heights have a view (barriers have been removed).

I imagine another Image 3 (SPS version of equity) where someone is digging a hole under the tallest child, then telling them they'll be okay, there's nothing to see anyway.


Anonymous said…
@ poppies, your alternate image 3 is spot on. It's the "just keep standing there a few years and eventually you'll be tall enough to see over the fence" approach.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for tidbits from the Garfield meeting: "teachers...asking for and complaining about lack of volunteers in the classroom."

Gee, I wonder why parent support is lacking? And is it only doable with volunteer support??

dan dempsey said…
As I was reading Education Week this morning, I remembered Maria Goodloe Johnson.

School Boards Pay Superintendents Big Bucks to Quit Early

They listed $1.65 million buyout for 3 years in 2017.
$1.1 million for 2 years in 2015.
$787,000 for 2.5 years in 2016
$900,000 for 1 year in 2014
$700,000 for 2 years in 2014

I do not remember MGJ's buyout amount.
wildcat said…
Melissa, Yes, that wasn't well written. I agree with sunset and the other points. We shouldn't take away from high achieving kids in the name of equity. We shouldn't push the top down to close the gap. We should spend whatever time and resources are necessary to give the kids struggling whatever they need and give it to them as early as possible.

While not specific to Garfield, My Kumon comments were about parents bringing 3 year olds to a tutoring center to push academics at an early age. I've heard enough of the conversations in the lobby, while waiting for my kid, to know these parents are pushing things insanely early. This situation then leads to the parents thinking their kids are gifted since they are crazy far ahead of their peers when they start K. That leads to very difficult problems.

My point is trying to close the gap by pushing down the top won't work since we'll always have folks like me who has the time and money to get my 6th grader extra help, and we have folks like the others who bring their 3 year old on a gorgeous, sunny day to Kumon to spend an hour learning letters and numbers! Like many have said, K is now 1st grade. Soon, it will be 2nd. My harsh words are because that makes me sad, and it messes up the system for the rest of us.
Well, there's gifted and bright and I don't know how a district truly tests for that. But if a student is performing well ahead of their peers - whether "gifted" or pushed - that need has to be addressed.

I'm tutoring in a kindergarten class and I agree, it's 1st grade. I think it's not right but the teachers have no choice. But all along I've said that CCSS are not developmentally appropriate for K-2.
Leschi said…
The kindergarten situation is crazy. Especially heartbreaking is how richer kids are more likely to be redshirted and start when they're older, more mature, physically bigger and have had an extra year to learn stuff. And then the poorer kids are younger, less mature, physically smaller and a year behind in what they've had time to learn. At my school this leads to a massive class split where the richer kids definitely come off differently from the poorer kids. I can't imagine how this isn't crushing to some of those little kids.

Then you have the kids who will be diagnosed with a learning disability once people figure out what's going on and the kids with the super high IQs who taught themselves to read at the age of 3.

The district is crazy not to have a way to get the kindergarteners who can already read at a second grade level out of there. It's not doing anyone any good to insist that they sit through kindergarten because of how old they are. Silliness
What I find interesting is that most lower grade elementary teachers do break the kids into groups. The kids know why (but at a young age don't seem to care). This idea that "tracking doesn't happen is amusing to me. It does and, as Leschi says, for good reason.
Anonymous said…
Please consider a thread on Washington and the issues related to the principal. There is a lot of frustration there and it would be nice to have a venue to discuss the problems. Also, parents might be interested in hearing about the changes to HCC that are happening next year that the principal is not being transparent to parents or teachers about.
Anonymous said…
I loathe the redshirting in K. It messes up the dynamic in classrooms and then the parents are like, "my kiddo is so smart and needs acceleration blah blah" and I'm like, Yes! It's because they're in the WRONG GRADE.

It's not right for a kid to turn 7 in the first few months of1st grade! (That happened in my kid's class). I don't think his parents thought it through. Their kid is going to be bored and with the wrong peers (not to mention shaving in elementary school and almost 19 when graduation comes).

Mag mom
Anonymous said…
Sorry I meant almost 8. Turning 7 in first is right (altho it feels old to me. I started K when I was 4 going on 5 but that was a dirrerent time.)

Mag mom
Lynn said…
I loathe the self-righteous judgement of other people's choices. You have no way of knowing why parents of a particular child make this decision and what factors they consider. As for shaving in elementary school - don't be ridiculous. Do you think most boys are shaving in the sixth grade?
Anonymous said…
It was a joke. A bad one at that.

Mag mom
Anonymous said…

The "decisions" parents make...

Advantage Seekers
Anonymous said…
I agree with Lynn. I loath people who judge others for starting young, redshirting, not accelerating, accelerating, going option, neighborhood school or private. Mind your own business. Every child is different.

Mag mom: I'm guess you don't have boys with late summer/fall birthdays, and if you do--good for you for taking the leap of faith SPS won't dampen their sweet childish spirits by making them sit for hours filling out worksheets. Not my choice, but I don't judge you for yours.

Fix AL
Leschi said…
I'm not down on parents who do or don't redshirt. Parents make the best choices for their kids that they have available.

What I'm down on is how when you look at the kindergarten classrooms around this city, there's a class divide between kids. Obviously that's complex and hard for public schools to do very much about. Kids come to kindergarten from families of all socioeconomic levels. It is not schools' place to change the socioeconomics of a student's home life.

What I'm down on is how Seattle families' inequitable access to the choice to redshirt their child exacerbates already existing wealth-based differences in children.

Preschool in Washington state costs more than college and yet comes at a time in families' lives when they haven't had the chance to save money for it the way they might for college. Which means that redshirting is only a viable financial option for some families.

So, kindergarteners from wealthier families not only often arrive for their first day of kindergarten better prepared for school (they've had more words spoken to them on average by their parents, attended better pre-k programs, etc.), but they are more likely to have had an additional year of this better preparation. An extra year to develop their coordination and social skills, an extra year to grow in size and abilities.

The effect in the kindergarten classroom is that if you're a kid from a poorer family, you're more likely to be younger (i.e. smaller than you would be if you were a year older, less coordinated than you will be in a year, with a year less life experience, a year less of stuff you've learned and socioemotional development, etc.). The richer kids are statistically more likely to be older than you and taller and have had more time to mature and develop and learn. They're doubly ahead. Ahead because they've had more advantages and ahead because they've had more time to reap the benefits of those advantages.

Kids are so unique. And I'm sure academic redshirting probably is the best choice for some kids. What's sad is how inequitable the option is. The question of whether a child would benefit from waiting a year before starting kindergarten or not should be based on the child's readiness for kindergarten. Not on the parents' income. It ends up digging an already deep trench even deeper.
If by class divide, you mean preparation divide, I'd agree. I see it in the class I work in and, what's interesting, is that it breaks across races. I really see poverty as being an issue and if parents who are able (either because of their of education) to work with their children at home. And again, in the class I'm in, it goes across race lines.

I can say that the couple of much older students in the class are clearly better prepared than the much younger ones. And some of that is a development thing between being 5 years, 5 months and 6 years, 5 months.

As for preschool, well, the City is offering free preschool and expanding it all the time.

But yes, the choice of when to put your child in school is not available to all parents.

Anonymous said…
"I loathe the redshirting in K. It messes up the dynamic in classrooms and then the parents are like, "my kiddo is so smart and needs acceleration blah blah" and I'm like, Yes! It's because they're in the WRONG GRADE."

If you are referencing advanced learning or HCC, yo should be aware that when kids are tested they are normed by age, not grade level, so 6 months younger and 6 months older. It does not give an advantage to who qualifies for advanced learning services. So a kid who is red-shirted may actually be at a disadvantage. Kids 6 months older part of their peer group on in the testing process, will have learned more being in the grade above.
Anonymous said…
The achievement part is not normed by age.

Advantage Seekers

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