Showing posts from June, 2017

Legislature to Pass Budget Today

I was actually going to give you all kinds of links and updates but here's all you really need to know - the Dems caved, schools will not be fully-funded and property-rich areas will pay for most of the increases. Schools will get $7.3B more over the next four years.   This is not enough and is likely to not pass judicial muster for fully funding schools.  After this budget is passed, the Supreme Court will review the part that addresses McCleary and allow the plaintiffs to give their thoughts.  Any ruling on this issue would probably come at the end of the summer. Tweet Robert Cruinkshank Last year, McCleary plaintiffs said $5.6 billion needed just for next school year. $7.3b over 4 years won't cut it - Property taxes will go up in Seattle/King County - by a lot. Tweet Joe O'Sullivan Rough numbers, Seattle will see $440/yr increase in property taxes for average house , Ranker says . 

Student Data Deletion Day - Wouldn't That Be Great

From Education Week: Bradley Shear is a lawyer who focuses on digital privacy and social media.  He's also the father of two elementary-aged children who attend the public schools in Maryland's Montgomery County.  A little over a year ago, Shear says, the focus of his professional life became an intensely personal concern, as well. "I got a phone call from my son's teacher, who said he had performed an internet search for inappropriate content on a school-issued Chromebook," Shear said in an interview. "It got me thinking about all the data being collected about kids, and whether it will ever be deleted. From Shear's blog, Shear on Social Media Law : Every time our kids may be admonished for talking out of turn or texting in class they may receive a permanent demerit in Class Dojo .  In the near future, classrooms may be filled with cameras and other tracking technologies that also analyze our kids every interaction with their teachers

Important Viewing to Understanding about Being Black in America


Washington State Legislature: Nothing to See, Move Along

Latest on the budget and McCleary: Rachel La Corte Retweeted Jim Brunner (Seattle Times) We were originally told budget details would be released publicly at noon Thursday. Was told tonight there was a miscommunication. # waleg Boy, the Washington Legislature makes the GOP in Congress look like pikers on lack of transparency.  Just sickening.

Seattle Schools Announces RESMS Mural Dedication Dates

From SPS Communications: Join us for an event to celebrate the unveiling and dedication of the Andrew Morrison's murals and Honoring Circle at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School and Cascadia Elementary. The public ceremonies will be held July 13, 6 until 8 p.m. and August 25, 5 until 8 p.m. at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, 1330 N. 90th St. 

Live Blogging from School Board Meeting

Superintendent to skip his Comments and noted that the construction contract for Magnolia Elementary did not proceed and so they are rebidding in the fall and the school will open in 2019-2020. President Peters is out of the country; Vice-President Harris is presiding.  All other directors are present. JoLynn Berge of Budget is reviewing the budget portion of the Work Session, noting that the thrid session of the legislature is still in progress and they expect some news tomorrow. Superintendent Nyland pointed out that the district, like all other WA state districts, has been dealt a bad hand by the Legislature but there is nothing they can do. Blanford didn't even know that Peters was out of the country and was asking about her thoughts.  He himself was late and somehow decided he needed several clarifications because of it. Looks like they are going to put off any budget decisions until they understand what comes out of the Legislature.  Vice-President Harris thanked th

Tonight's Board Meeting: Waitlists and Ethnic Studies

On the Work Session on the Budget and Waitlists, here's the presentation .  The waitlist section starts on page 14. Staff is insisting: Waitlist moves are predicated on staffing, not just space capacity. That may be true in internal practice. Long standing actual process/practice is that both physical space and staffing determines the number of waitlist moves at a school.  I sure wish former head of Enrollment, Tracy Libros, was here to verify that because that may be true internally but that was never transmitted to parents.  What WAS very clearly stated - over and over and over for decades - said is that the district's biggest commitment to families was to keep sibs together.  That I know for a fact.  It was not a guarantee but it was stated in that manner repeatedly by superintendents, staff and boards.

Tick Tock - Friday is Coming, Is McCleary Done?

Update: KUOW is reporting a deal has been struck but there are no details as the budget writers now have to go and sell it to their caucuses.  I am appalled at this push to "get it done" when legislators literally had years to get this done.  I hope legislators of good faith will refuse any deal on this basis if the budget - especially for education is not equitable and fair for all. This is no way to create a budget and has pretty much complete lack of transparency for the public AND no way for the public to weigh in on specifics.

Tuesday Open Thread

Ah, the first day of summer vacation and, of course, it's overcast. Checking the PDC for school board candidate contributions , I see this: District IV: Eden Mack, $6K District V:  Alec Cooper, $2K; Andre Helmstetter, $835; Zachary DeWolf, $4K and Omar Vasquez, $8K District VII: no contributions to any candidate Story in the Times about the possible closure of Fircrest School in Shoreline puts a spotlight on how we serve students with developmental issues. Here's what I'm seeing from posts (from readers, not the WPD) at the Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page on budget/McCleary negotiations :

Blanford Slams the Board and the District at TFA ("Alumni") Event

Editor's note: this event was not sponsored by TFA but by their Washington Alumni group.  I'll just note that the TFA website has pages with links to all alumni groups.) end of update Dear Directors, I am tracking the school board elections and I attended two events last night. One was at the NAACP where they hosted the national education director who was speaking on ESSA and how states will be enacting those regulations.  I was unable to stay for the full program as I had planned to go to another event and the NAACP program started late. The other program was at a group called General Assembly and it was sponsored by Teach for America Washington Alumni .  They allegedly invited all the candidates (but I heard from at least one who only got the reminder, not the invite) but only two came and, of course, were both former TFA members.  That would be Oscar Vasquez in the 5th and Chelsea Byers in the 7th.  The moderator for the evening was Director Blanford

Last Day of School 2017

Always fun, always bittersweet.

Segregation: Everywhere and Growing, so What to Do?

This post will be the first of a two-part series on the issue of segregation in schools.   This is not just a Seattle Schools issue; it's a national issue.    (The second part of the series will be about the HCC program and the presentation the Board hear at their last retreat from an expert on gifted programs who gave the Board many ideas on how to expand the make-up of the program.) Today's Landscape Segregation in schools is on the rise.  From Business Insider: The number of students attending "High-Poverty and mostly Black or Hispanic" (H/PBH) public schools — including charter and magnet schools — more than doubled between 2001 and 2014.

A New Twist at the Board Meeting This Week

The Board is having a special Work Session this week along with the regular Board meeting .   The Work Session will address: There will be a special School Board work session on June 28 to discuss the budget, waitlist process and a path forward. The work session will take place at the beginning of the regularly scheduled School Board meeting.  Additional Background: The district has started to move waitlists at Option Schools where seats are available, and at attendance area schools that can accommodate additional students with their current staffing allocations. At the June 28 work session, staff will present recommendations on waitlist moves, various scenarios and implications.   A path forward on what?  Waitlists or the budget?

With Overlapping City/Public Education Issues, Here's What the Candidates Think

I've managed to interview six of the top eight candidates for mayor of Seattle.  (I previously said seven, my error.)  Those are:  Cary Moon , Mike McGinn , Bob Hasegawa , Jessyn Farrell, Casey Carlisle and Nikkita Oliver . I reached out twice to Mary Martin (Socialist Workers Party) with no reply.  I also reached out three times to Jenny Durkan's campaign (both in person and via email).  They promised an interview but it never materialized.  Given what Durkan said to the 36th Dems in her interview with them (see end of this post), I would not recommend her as the mayor to watch over public education in our city. My Recommendations The candidates I think have the best grasp of what is currently happening in Seattle Public Schools as well as good ideas about how the mayor can work with the district are Jessyn Farrell, Mike McGinn and Nikkita Oliver.   Farrell and McGinn are current SPS parents and Ms. Oliver works in SPS schools. In speaking with candidates about public

Friday Open Thread

Two director community meetings tomorrow: Director Blanford - Douglass-Truth Library from 10 am to noon Director Patu - Raconteur from 10 am to 11:30 am The Seattle Youth Commission is looking for new members.

State Budget Update: Nothing Happening Here (with Dire Consequences Coming)

These tweets say it all: McCleary Crime Scene ‏   @ McClearyCrime 17h 17 hours ago McCleary Crime Scene Retweeted Crosscut Great @ waleg & their enabler @ GovInslee get to hold the 4th of July hostage, as the political brinkmanship over # FundMcCleary continues. @Crosscut If the # WAleg can't pass a budget by June 30, the state's 125 parks will be closed for Fourth of July.

Stevens Elementary Trying to Fight Cuts

From Stevens parents worried about their school.  Understand that if the Board does not act on policies that are broken/bent/ignored, then YOUR school community could be next.   I can see what the district is doing - clearly, if they got Madrona's enrollment up near building capacity, they are trying to fill schools.  But it is just wrong to then leave other schools twisting in the wind.  (I think staff believes that more people will eventually move near Stevens and it, too, will fill back up but meanwhile they are ridiculously below their capacity.  And, I think the district is triaging schools by student population.  Again, that might be okay except that the policy doesn't state that.) 

Where Should New Schools Be Built?

A group of parents are forming a grass-roots campaign to have the Fort Lawton re-development project in Magnolia become a new STEAM (science and environment, technology, engineering, arts, math) middle school or a magnet STEAM high school instead of building homes for the homeless. This new plan would serve the entire city with an attendance area drawing from students in the Magnolia/Queen Anne cluster. 

Supporting SPS Families in Need

In a remarkably short amount of time, SPS families from several different NE schools, via Soup for Teacher's heroic, Liza Rankin, have organized family gift bags for every family that lives at the Sand Point Housing campus of Solid Ground, Brettler Family Place.  That is where Charleena Lyles, a pregnant mother of four,  was gunned down on Sunday by SPD officers responding to her call about a burglary.  There is a GoFundme page for Ms Lyles' family.  The page has raised over $80,000 so far. Here's one message at the Soup for Teachers Facebook page:

Wednesday Open Thread

I've interviewed 7 of the top 8 mayoral candidates .  Who is up and who is down seems to vary.  I just heard on KUOW that a survey puts former mayor Mike McGinn at the top, following by Jenny Durkan and Bob Hasegawa.  At last night's 43rd Dems endorsement meeting, Jessyn Farrell came out on top (by a wide margin) and Jenny Durkan is tops in fund-raising. I'll be publishing their answers and my thoughts on the race from the perspective of public education but I thought I'd throw out a couple of questions to survey my readership.

SPD Shooting of Mother Sparks Loss for SPS Communities

I was away this weekend and so am just coming to learning about the terrible shooting of a black pregnant mother of three, Charleena Lyles, at transitional housing for people coming out of homelessness.  Her children - two in Seattle schools - may have been present at the shooting. I heard the audio tape of the incident and it's hard to grasp how quickly the police apparently felt threatened by what is to be a small woman with mental health issues.  And especially since the police knew she had mental health issues.  I'm sure I am not alone in believing that had Ms Lyles been white, she would be alive today. SEA will have a rally at 5 pm followed by a press conference/vigil tonight at 6 pm at Brettler (the re-settlement site at Magnuson).  Teachers are being encouraged to wear their Black Lives Matter t-shirts today.

Thought-Provoking Article on KUOW on "White Liberal Racism" in SPS

 I don't have time to write a full thread on this article but it certainly seems written to be incendiary (including that headline which seems to me, a non-journalist, not the most objective headline they could have used). Some of Blanford's and Geary's comments also seem a little-less-than-nuanced.

Friday Open Thread

City  Council Member Tim Burgess is taking a (non-scientific) survey about your thoughts on an income tax for wealthy Seattle families .  I put this up because, in the end, if passed, that tax may play a part in funding for the district. FYI if you have a child in Special Education :

2017-2018 Bell Times

From SPS Communications: SEATTLE  – Seattle Public Schools  today expressed their appreciation for $2.3 million in one-time funding that allows the district to implement a two-tier school schedule for the 2017-18 school year: “The City Council voted yesterday to approve one-time funds to move us to this new two-tier bus schedule. We are grateful to Mayor Murray for bringing this issue forward  as a city priority and the City Council for finding a thoughtful funding solution.  Changing to a two-tier bell schedule  will eliminate the latest or third tier of school start and end times, which has been a hardship on many of our families.  We also want to thank and recognize the many families who shared their perspectives and concerns about the bell time schedule with us. The final schedule reflects the varied needs and perspectives of our families, students, staff and partners.” The final bell schedule for Seattle Public Schools is  posted online here . The 2017-18 school  ca

Congrats to all the Grads of 2017!

Such a happy and exciting time for our seniors and their families. I see six (!) graduations for Monday, four for Tuesday and Wednesday and two for Thursday. Best wishes for a wonderful time (and dry weather). 

Seattle School Board Elections 2017 - District V

Editor's Note: please see this thread for my process for vetting candidates. District V The candidates who filed for this position are/were: Omar Vasquez Andre Helmstetter Candace Vaivadas Zachary Pullin DeWolf Alec Cooper Michelle Sarju Withdrawn For District V, I recommend (in no particular order) Andre Helmstetter and Alec Cooper.  I do think Zachary DeWolf has an excellent background in public service but probably doesn't know the district well enough.  Cooper and Helmstetter do.  Again, my concern is the learning curve it takes to be a director.  I confess I find it hard to pick as all three each have different strengths.  I look forward to hearing them speak at forums between now and the primary.  Cooper is a straight-ahead, blunt candidate who wants to get things done.  Personally, I find that very appealing.  He would an analytical skill set to the Board.  He is an SPS parent. Helmstetter has an inviting demeanor and warmth and is a good listener.

Seattle School Board Elections 2017: District VII

Please note this thread where I outline my guidelines for the interviews. District VII Currently Director Betty Patu represents this region.  She is running to retain her seat and has two challengers. - Tony Hemphill.   He is a chiropractor who also has an MBA and graduated from Garfield in 1991.    - Chelsea Byers.  From her work bio: She spent several years as a Teach For America math teacher in Oakland, CA. After that, she went to England to earn a masters in quantitative analysis from the London School of Economics, where she also helped to train teachers and develop curriculum for a flagship outreach program at University College London. She then followed this line of work to Hong Kong and Italy. Now at General Assembly, Chelsea manages training and development for instructors and leads a team of instructional coaches. She currently works for a local company, Galvanize, which provides tech training services. Only Patu and Byers are registered at the PDC; neit

Seattle Schools News

Today the City Council voted 6-0 for funding the buses for the two-tier transportation system for SPS.  I don't know who was absent/didn't vote. Nothing from the district yet at either the website or on Twitter. From Washington's Paramount Duty (this is for Thursday, the 15th): Governor Inslee will be at Garfield High School in Seattle tomorrow at 2:30 PM for education funding townhall. Come as soon as you can after school!  Here's the Garfield football team fighting for amply funded public schools on MLK, Jr. Day at the Capitol. On McCleary: Inslee convened the leaders of all four legislative caucuses this morning and ruled out a 30-day “stop-gap budget” in the face of the “glacial” pace of budget negotiations. The second 30-day special session ends June 21.

Betsy DeVos is a Menace

Update: from KCTS' Facebook reply to my query: "We can confirm that we will not be airing "School, Inc." on KCTS 9, while other PBS member stations may choose to air the film. We greatly appreciate your input, and thank you always for getting in touch." end of update First up to be aware of is this: If you go to the website of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington that believes in privatizing the public education system, you will learn about a three-part documentary called “School Inc.,” which is narrated by the late director of the organization’s Center for Educational Freedom. The documentary has been called the magnum opus of Andrew Coulson, who was a researcher and author who promoted the idea that free markets and the profit motive would improve education in the United States.  It is no surprise, then, that School Inc. — whose primary funders have the same educational beliefs as Coulson — would extol the virtues

McCleary Updates - Where Are We?

From Washington's Paramount Duty: Washington's Paramount Duty would like to congratulate Carter McCleary on his recent graduation from high school. McCleary was in *second grade* when his family filed the lawsuit that now bears their names, and led to the Supreme Court ruling requiring the state to fully and amply fund public education.  Think about that. 2nd grade to high school graduation. And remember that the next time you hear a legislator make excuses for failing to comply with a court order to fund our public schools. Because this isn't about a court - it's about kids like Carter McCleary. An interesting article, Why a $67 million fine isn't motivating the Legislature to act, Read more here: from The News Tribune:

Tuesday Open Thread

A new study on obesity finds that one-third of the world's population is obese, with the U.S. leading the way. The saddest number ? The United States has the greatest percentage of obese children and young adults, at 13%. The district released a statement today about the investigation into players "imported" to play on Garfield's football team . The district itself did not release a statement or the report but the Times says:

On "Red-shirting" Kindergarteners

Several readers had some thoughts on this practice of holding back a child to enter kindergarten much later than at age five. I came across a couple of good articles on this topic I wanted to pass along.

Tomorrow's City Council Vote on Two-Tier Transportation

Final Update (for today):  The City Council voted, 5-3, to hold on the vote for funding two-tiers from the Families and Education levy.

Seattle School Board Elections 2017 - District IV

Editor's Note: in writing up my thoughts, opinions and reflections on candidates for the Seattle School Board, I used interviews (my own and the 36th Dems recorded interviews), Google, Facebook and Twitter searches.

Attention: School Board Candidates

I see that some candidates are planning meet-and-greet events around the city to meet parents and community.  I applaud this because there are so few school board candidate forums usually and it's a fine way to get out there and answer questions. If you are a candidate having such an event, please send it to me at and I will throw it up on this thread or on Open Thread days.

Friday Open Thread

Good news for summer transportation for kids via KUOW:

Why Does the District Let Good Schools Go Bad?

As a case study, Laurelhurst Elementary is a good one.

Heading to a Government Shut-Down Without Getting McCleary Done

From a good article at Crosscut: Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration has again started to study shutdown procedures. When he began the current 30-day special session last month — the second of the year — Inslee was loath to even talk about calling a third special session if the budget agreement is not made by June 22, the end of the second special session. “There is no excuse not to get it done in the next 30 days,” Inslee said. Sure, there are.

Two Tiers or Three? The City Council Will Decide

Update 2:  Tonight the School Board voted 6-1 to accept both city grants if adopted by the City Council next week.  (Blanford was the sole no vote). One grant is for crossing guard costs and the other grant is to pay for the two-tier transportation costs for school year 2017-2018.   It turns out that President Harrell is the other no vote on the City Council , along with CM Burgess. I am also told that CM Gonzalez will not be there so every vote really counts.  Here's how you can give input (from the Soup for Teachers Facebook page):

Tuesday Open Thread

A reminder about the Seattle International Film Festival's showing of the public education documentary, Backpack Full of Cash.  

Capacity Issues and Funding/Building

I had planned to write just one thread about this issue but there are two looming items so each will get its own post. First up, Lincoln. Most of you know that one of my special interests is Capital building.  I think the district and the voters of Seattle have made a serious commitment to schools here in funding levies and bonds for new and updated buildings.  (Many districts in our state envy this commitment.) But the district first had a two-fold problem which has now become more complex with the numbers of new students coming every year.

Garfield Honors For All Update

On May 23, 2017, the Garfield PTSA hosted two Garfield teachers at their regular meeting to talk about the progress of Honors for All. To note, there were roughly 30 parents in attendance; it seemed like a small turnout but then again, given that parents were not notified about this change until right before school started and Principal Howard did no 9th grade parent orientation, maybe parents just thought it not worth attending. There were two teachers presenting; Tim Zimmerman, an LA teacher, and Nathan Simoneaux, a History teacher.  They spoke to the concern that "honors" would not be honors-level work.  They handed out a group of papers that contained a test that students took two days prior, one from last year's Honors class and a paper from a student. They each spoke about their experiences and then took questions from the audience.  Unfortunately, they did their PowerPoint slides in such a way that the audience could not read them so they did from their phone

Exhibitionist at Green Lake

It appears there is a guy who frequents Green Lake - especially during good weather - who is a major exhibitionist, provocateur and "photographer." He wears a thong with socks and shoes and that's pretty much it.  Not a great sight, frankly, and it's unclear to me if he could get a ticket/be arrested.  (I'm thinking not.)  He has a sign offering, "Free hugs and kisses." As a provocateur, he sometimes wears a holster with a gun.  Or a knife sheath with a knife. As a photographer, his subject of choice are women in bathing suits.  Obviously, people who sunbath at Green Lake know they are in a public place.  I'm sure most of them are aware someone could take their photo.  Well, this guy is and he puts them up at his "blog" with comments like "fun" when it's a woman with a thong bikini bottom. One photo is clearly of two teen girls (fully clothed).  

This, Not That in Seattle Schools (Plus one update)

THIS - As was previous reported by a reader in another thread, Grammy-winning singer John Legend donated funds to wipe out the school lunch debt for parents who had not paid.  Thank you as well to John Lew , a Seattle Schools parent who got the whole thing going.

Friday Open Thread

It's near the end of the school year and a time when awards - both in yearbooks and at events come out.  Unbelievably, there are grown people - in charge of watching over these awards - that seem to have the worst judgment.  There's this one from Texas . A group of teachers are being disciplined after they thought it would be funny to name a student “most likely to become a terrorist.” Lizeth Villanueva, 13, said a teacher gave her the award during a mock ceremony in her college prep class at Anthony Aguirre Junior High School in Houston on Tuesday.  Lizeth said the teacher warned students that the awards “might hurt their feelings." She then handed out the certificates as other teachers watched and laughed. But Lizeth didn't think it was funny. I am reminded of a similar thing that happened to one of my sons in a high school yearbook.  If an award is not funny or complimentary and, most importantly, not something you would want said about you , teachers/

Public Education Story Round-Up

From NPR Ed via Huffington Post , a very good blog post about the push and pull of What Do We Do About Public Education? Educators of all races, from various ideologies, and committed to very different school policies are also split over fundamental differences as to how we in a democracy work with each other. The unraveling of the corporate reform coalition is due, in large part, because of the ways they treat people who disagree with them. A National Press Club panel discussion clarified the positions of today’s three dominant schools of education policy. Shavar Jeffries of the Democrats for Education Reform embodies the neoliberal wing of the corporate reform movement. Andrew Smarick, from Bellwhether Education Partners, displays the new face of their former partners, conservative reformers . The panel also included an open and welcoming face of teacher-led school improvement , Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president of the National Education Association. My favorite fr

Parents, Please Talk to Your Student

"I think they wanted to scare him straight," Maureen Walgren told the Tribune in story published earlier this week. "Instead, they scared him to death." Left by himself, Corey walked out of the school a few minutes later and headed toward a downtown Naperville parking garage. He climbed to the fifth floor and then committed suicide by plummeting 53 feet to the ground. One of the saddest and most disturbing stories of teen suicide surfaced this week. 

End of the Year Honors for Seattle Schools Students

Tweets from SPS Communications: 2017 All Metro - Lacrosse - Kai Chamberlain, Tate Gilges and Dain Coddington from Ballard High, Nate Koidahl and Nicky Sweedin from Roosevelt, Charlie MacIntire and Sean McGlyn from Hale, Hank Halfaker from Garfield, and Jay Zhu from Franklin. Boys Soccer - Congrats to Roosevelt's team for winning the state championship! Girls Track and Field - Congrats to Garfield's team for winning the state championship! Congrats to the All Achievers who were awarded scholarships from the Breakfast Group -  There were these listed below plus 14 other students.

Seattle Schools Waitlist Updates

From SPS Communications, waitlist updates . Although more than 50 percent of the students who participated in the choice process received a placement, many students are still on school waitlists. Typically, staff do not move waitlists that positively or negatively affect staffing at attendance area schools. Due to the $50 million budget shortfall for 2017-18, the district is conducting additional analysis around waitlist moves. I would call out that "typically, staff do not move waitlists..."  That may be true but that has NEVER been made transparent.  The Board should not let this kind of thing stand.  ALL parts of the Enrollment process should be clear and be explained in totality. As a result of this additional analysis, waitlists at attendance area schools will not move until district staff review updated spring staffing allocations in mid-June. Waitlist moves at option schools will continue through August 31 based on current school staffing and available s

Network For Public Education's Stand on Charter Schools

NPE Statement on Charter Schools The Network for Public Education believes that public education is the pillar of our democracy . We believe in the common school envisioned by Horace Mann. A common school is a public institution, which nurtures and teaches all who live within its boundaries, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, sexual preference or learning ability. All may enroll--regardless of when they seek to enter the school or where they were educated before. We believe that taxpayers bear the responsibility for funding those schools and that funding should be ample and equitable to address the needs of the served community. We also believe that taxpayers have the right to examine how schools use tax dollars to educate children.