Friday Open Thread

The Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked Washington State #28 in education just as in the same week we are ranked #1 for business climate.  I did tweet the Governor that it would be a great day for public education in Washington State if we ever get to #1 in that category.  

Speaking of public ed, the budget is done but not important legislation attached to it.  From Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook:

Delays will hurt public school capital projects and may add unnecessary expense to building the Burke Museum. Simply outrageous.
"Also in jeopardy if the capital budget bill does not pass: about $937 million for school construction funding, which is given in matching grants to school districts that have passed levies for new buildings or modernization projects; and more than $100 million for mental health, including about $65 million to add community beds and more than $10 million to improve the troubled Western State Hospital, Washington’s largest psychiatric facility."

So what's next for McCleary according to the Seattle Times (partial)?

- when the Governor signed the budget, that triggered the window for the attorney general's office to tell the Supreme Court how they believe the budget satisfies McCleary.  They have 30 days so that deadline is July 30th.

- next, the plaintiffs in McCleary then get to read and respond to the state's message to the Court.  That's another 30-day window so that gets us to August 30th.

- Then the Court will weigh in but there's no set timetable for that action.


-  only a modest amount of new money for districts for 2017-2018 but "state spending will increase for schools that enroll a high concentration of students living in poverty and for bilingual, highly capable, special education, vocational and other targeted programs."  As well, starting in September of 2017, districts will have to explain, in writing, what they will pay teachers for duties beyond basic ed.  This is a new requirement that will be done annually by districts as well as a new salary schedule being submitted by districts.

- the property tax hike - the new one from the state to fund McCleary - starts in Jan, 2018.  In Jan. 2019, local property tax levies will be capped and the money can only be for "enrichment," not basic ed.  That kicks in for the 2019-2020 school year.

Did you get your ballot in the mail (apparently 1.3M people were mailed one)?  I did, voted and I am using a drop-off box to get it back to King County elections.  They have 10 new boxes in addition to the ones listed on literature in your ballot envelope.  No stamp needed.

The Seattle Education Association has endorsed for the Seattle School Board elections:
Megan Locatelli Hyska (District IV)
Zachary DeWolf (District V)
Betty Patu (District VII)

They are more than a bit of outliers on their endorsement for Hyska over Mack but I don't know someone in SEA to ask about this.

The Times says the University of Washington has admitted its largest freshman class ever - 4,450 -  and admitted 59% of  in-state applicants.  What's interesting is that despite the bluster from Trump and fewer international students applying to UW, more of them that did apply also accepted admission.  Other stats: most diverse class ever and highest percentage in several years of students who are first-generation college-goers.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Melissa, can you please link to the Annie E. Casey rankings?

A Gal
Maje said…
@A Gal - It's all in their 2017 Data Book. Here is the link:

The "See Your State's Data Profile" link at the bottom will take you to the image Melissa posted.
Anonymous said…
Waitlists are starting to move. We got a call/email this week for a spot at Ingraham Grade 11. I had all but given up hope that the school district would find 5 measly seats there and accommodate those who were trying to opt out of larger, more crowded high schools.

Poor Judgement said…
SEA should have endorsed Eden Mack.
Anonymous said…
The new Lakeside spinoff school, the Downtown School, has a Facebook page and are showing great photos of their new building, right at Seattle Center. Bet it will be a hit.
-Rare Commenter
Funny on that one, Rare, as they had initially said it would be in SE Seattle. Hmm.
Anonymous said…
Update from SPS about changes for Magnolia area schools. Sent to parents on 7/12/2017.

Dear Magnolia and Queen Anne area families:

We hope your summer is off to a nice start, we are writing with some updates to boundaries and proposed changes to Fort Lawton.

In preparation for the reopening of Magnolia Elementary, SPS began the boundary review process earlier this spring. The boundary review process initially suggested some required movement of students across schools in order to balance enrollment in this area of the city. This potential change created a great deal of community interest and many alternative boundary solutions.

Reconstruction of Magnolia Elementary and drawing of the related school boundaries will be delayed. Recent construction bids for Magnolia Elementary came in significantly greater than anticipated. To secure more favorable bid results, the Capital Projects Office recommended, and the Superintendent approved, rebidding the project in the fall of 2017 and likely delaying the school opening until the fall of 2019. With the delay of the Magnolia Elementary project, we will also delay finalizing the boundaries.

The delay will provide time for district staff and the City of Seattle to analyze the possibility of adding a school at Fort Lawton. For the past ten years, the City of Seattle has been working with the Army Corps of Engineers on repurposing the Fort Lawton site. The City has proposed using the site for affordable housing, a park, or other city purposes. Many families have expressed interest in adding a school at that site as well.

Seattle Public Schools is exploring this idea with city planners. The US Department of Education manages any federal property that might be used for educational purposes. This means, that while the city may be supportive, we still need to meet multiple requirements including:

Construction must be completed within 36 months of receiving the land [12 months if not doing major renovations or construction]
There must be a current, demonstrated need for the land or building
Specificity on educational use [what kind of school] must already be determined
And an aligned budget must accompany the request to the US Department of Education
Once we have clarity on whether we could meet the eligibility criteria, we will contact the city for further conversation about the timeline and what might be possible.

Thank you to the many Magnolia and Queen Anne families who provided feedback during the initial boundary discussions. We look forward to reengaging as a revised timeline is developed and as we learn more about the potential of a school site at Fort Lawton.

For boundary questions or comments, please email
For Magnolia School Construction or Fort Lawton questions or comments, please email Associate Superintendent, Flip Herndon,


Queen Anne Mom, also a gardener
Anonymous said…
Poverty, Dropouts, Pregnancy, Suicide: What The Numbers Say About Fatherless Kids
How can schools and teachers succeed in helping a child if that child’s homelife is marred by poverty, which itself may be linked to a non-intact family structure? When fathers abandon children, the consequences for those children seem to be almost insurmountable for governmental structures to overcome. Kids need parents. Blaming teachers, or a program, for a child’s failure is an easy but blame is never going to help things get better for the children caught in the toxic stress. Family support workers in school are truly essential. So are small class sizes in high poverty schools.

Youth From Every Quarter: A teacher at an elite boarding school confronts her own confused leap up the ladder of class privilege.
Compelling story of a bright girl, a sophomore, who got a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school for a summer school residency, who flamed out. Takeaways: scholastic ‘good intentions’ (like Honors for All) do not help anybody succeed, and, bright students from the most culturally diverse groups need extra help to get their footing. That extra support is the type of intervention that will make the most difference in a young person’s life, not pretending that every student is getting honors, or, smashing ability-based grouping as being racist.

Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?

The glaring reality is, whether we are talking about schools or other institutions, it seems as if we have forgotten what “public” really means.
The word derives from the Latin word publicus, meaning “of the people.” This concept — that the government belongs to the people and the government should provide for the good of the people — was foundational to the world’s nascent democracies. Where once citizens paid taxes to the monarchy in the hope that it would serve the public too, in democracies they paid taxes directly for infrastructure and institutions that benefited society as a whole. The tax dollars of ancient Athenians and Romans built roads and aqueducts, but they also provided free meals to widows whose husbands died in war. “Public” stood not just for how something was financed — with the tax dollars of citizens — but for a communal ownership of institutions and for a society that privileged the common good over individual advancement.

5 Articles
Anonymous said…
2017 Brown Center Report on American Education: Race and school suspensions

analysis suggests that policymakers should consider altering the organizational characteristics of schools as a strategy for reducing disparities in black suspensions. It will not be easy. Racial or socio-economic desegregation of schools has proven difficult since the 1970s. Breaking large schools up into smaller units may reduce suspension rates for all students—and especially for black students—but that means reassigning students to new schools.

Children of the Opioid Epidemic Are Flooding Foster Homes. America Is Turning a Blind Eye.
How opiod addiction is causing irreparable harm, toxic shock, to children of users. These children are in our public schools and have significant needs to deal with the instability and pain of their homelives.

Children in Lisa’s situation are subject to incredible psychological stress. There’s the immediate trauma of living with an unstable parent or being taken from family and sometimes from school and friends. But there’s also the long-term impact. Dozens of studies have found that kids who undergo traumatic events early in life are more likely to suffer mental and physical repercussions later on, be it substance abuse, depression, heart disease, or cancer. Among the 10 so-called Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are emotional abuse, physical abuse, separation from parents, and parental substance abuse.
“Every time a child gets into a scary or dangerous situation, it activates their stress response,” explains Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and founder of the Center for Youth Wellness, which focuses on the developmental effects of childhood trauma. “The repeated activation of their stress response is what leads to the biological condition that we in pediatrics are now calling toxic stress.” Looking at the brains of kids of drug users, Burke Harris says, one would expect to see the signs associated with other types of trauma: an enlarged amygdala, the brain’s fear center; decreased functioning of the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s pleasure and rewards center; and less activity in the prefrontal cortex, which oversees a child’s ability to control impulses and pay attention.

5 Articles
Anonymous said…

Why central and eastern European children lag behind in British schools
Their status as new arrivals is only part of the explanation

In a non-American context, interestingly, a study of student performance in Britain sorted by mother tongue: Asian students do well, those from central and eastern European nations do not. Ergo, this is not racism. Is it culture? Does culture have something to do with success in a school environment?

Although foreign-language speakers do worse than their Anglophone peers in the early years of school, by the age of 16 the gap has all but disappeared. Since lots of eastern Europeans arrive in Britain midway through their education, they have less time to catch up. And, as many European countries start school at an older age, some younger children have to adjust not only to a new education system, but also simply to being in a classroom, notes Bethan Rees of Cambridgeshire Council.
Poverty makes things harder. Parents who work every available shift have little energy to chase after work-shy children. Some 68% of Lithuanian-speaking children and 63% of Polish-speakers live in poor areas, where schools tend to be worse. They have settled across the country, following work rather than existing communities, so many end up in areas with little experience of immigration. As Elzbieta Kardynal, a Polish educationalist, says: “If schools don’t have the knowledge and capacity, these children are put in the lowest sets…with all the naughty kids.”
The difference may be partly cultural. The first wave of Polish pupils had a reputation for being particularly diligent. One head teacher says that, in her experience, Lithuanians are more likely than others to do paid work alongside their studies—partly because they are poorer and partly because their parents tend to place less emphasis on education. The problem is biggest among the Roma population. ... A report by academics at Middlesex University in 2008 noted that, in some schools, the number of Polish children rose from zero to dozens in a few years. The reaction was often one of “panic”, it says. Since then, schools have got better at testing the abilities of newcomers and hired more language specialists.
Some parents may have been too cautious to demand better. Many were schooled under strict Soviet regimes and are still deferential towards teachers. Even established migrants are sometimes baffled by the British system. Vilma Midvertyo, who arrived from Lithuania over a decade ago, says that although she likes the support that teachers give pupils, their relentless positivity can make it hard to find out how well her son is actually doing.
Other explanations for the poor performance may have escaped measurement. As Mr Strand notes, the data do not reflect the linguistic ability of the pupil beyond the fact that they speak a foreign language at home. A Mandarin-speaker who has been in Britain his whole life will probably have a better grasp of English than a recent Latvian arrival, for example. Similarly, uptake of benefits such as free school meals is thought to be low, meaning the data may not capture the extent of migrants’ poverty.
That suggests that results will improve as the new arrivals get richer and come to speak better English. But it is not yet clear whether central and eastern European children will thrive in British schools, as some other migrant groups have done. Anne Hill, head of Thomas Clarkson Academy, says that at her previous school in Northampton, migrant parents (mostly from Africa) were almost uniformly determined that their children would go on to become professionals such as doctors or lawyers. Parents at her current school are not so ambitious. Much depends on whether that can change.

5 Articles

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