Thursday, August 31, 2017

DACA - the Next Big Fight?

From Vox:
Trump is reportedly close to a decision to cripple or kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected DREAMers — unauthorized immigrants brought to the US as children or young teenagers — from deportation. If he follows through on that threat, hundreds of thousands of immigrants who graduated from American high schools and are legally allowed to work will find their lives in jeopardy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

Update: I heard from former Board director DeBell. He says that it was an innocent error on the part of his wife who does work for the district and was making the donation on their behalf.  He said that only he, not she, knows the PDC rules.  All that may be true but I would also add it's an odd error to put your husband's name, then your workplace and then put the wrong title for your own job.

end of update.

Why would former School Board director, Michael DeBell, give a $250 donation to District V candidate, Omar Vasquez, and put down "Seattle Public Schools" as his employer and his occupation as "Director?"

So you'll recall there was a recent survey that found that support for charter schools is down.  Now a new poll from PDK says this:

Bell Times Infographics

Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC) created infographics with the hours of Southeast schools. Translations are available in Chinese, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 

A special thank you to our community volunteers Yuan, Saadia, Idil, Elisabeth, James, and Mai for translating the fliers. 

School hours for schools not on the list can be found on Seattle Public Schools website.

The featured image is a cc licensed photo attributed to Paul Feldman

What a great help for parents; thanks to the SESEC!

Durkan Advocates for Free College for SPS Students

Sounds great, right?  Ah, but those details.  From The Stranger:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Contest from Congress

For apps created by students in grades K-12.

Several members of the WA state delegation are participating including the 7th District, my district, represented by the wonderful Pramila Jayapal.

Have We Learned Nothing from the Past?

A compelling piece of video - college students watching a 70-year old film on racism and xenophobia. 

SPS Facilities Charges Ahead

Two SPS facilities stories of importance.

Tuesday Open Thread

I worry about the school year for those students in Texas plus all the possible ruined schools.

Help those affected by . Visit , call 1-800-RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dear Readers, Part One

Dear Readers,

Just a few quick thoughts as we head into the last full week of summer vacation and before school gets back into swing.

As a blog moderator, I feel lucky that my blog doesn't see much of the traffic from trolls and their  inflammatory rhetoric. 

However, I am increasingly seeing a few more unpleasant comments that do not seem to be from my two main trolls (and most of you seem to know who they are and that's fine to keep it in the family - they matter little here).

I perceive this is happening for a couple of reasons.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Updates

The letter below was sent to parents at RESMS.  It's okay but there are some troubling issues.

Friday Open Thread

I'm listening to a story this morning on NPR's Here and Now about some school districts "seceding" out of a large district.  I'll put the link up as soon as it is available.  This seems to be a growing trend.

Great story from the district in meeting cultural challenges in teaching children. 

Families and Students Create Somali Alphabet Book

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Your First School Project (Via the District's Error)

From SPS:

Whoops! We made a mistake and we apologize.Inside the newly released 2017-18 Academic Wall Calendar, on the bottom left corner of each month under “Key dates”, we typed the line “One-hour early release” for every Wednesday. The information is not accurate. Instead, schools will release students 75-minutes early every Wednesday, except on the first day of school. 

Gates Supports Donors Choose Today

Rabid Bat Found at Green Lake; Did Your Teen Touch It?

From King County Public Health:

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in Seattle (well, Bellevue)?

Betsy DeVos.

Yes, the folks over at the Washington Policy Center have scored the services of Secretary DeVos for their annual fundraiser dinner on October 13th.  Tickets starts at $350.  The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

I was reading an article at Edutopia about resources for teachers with readers at different ability levels and they were recommending this software, Rewordify.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Curriculum and Instruction Committee Meeting

The Curriculum and Instruction meeting is tomorrow from 4:30-6:30 pm in the Board conference room.  Agenda here.

First up on the agenda after the basics is the approval the grant from the League of Education Voters to South Shore Pre-K-8 for two years at $1M per year.  Oddly, it's for intro and action at the next Board meeting and yet this is no emergency.  The Board continues to allow this to happen for almost BAR; and so it goes.

As I have said in the past, I think this is all fine except for a couple of things.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Perusing Homes for Sale This Morning...

Welcome to this wonderful home located in the sought after Northgate neighborhood, this home is within the boundary of the prestigious Hazelwolf Alternative School home of the highly prized S. T. E. M. Program. There is no waiting list for students in this location.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Charter Schools News Roundup

Here's a stunner: Surprise, Trump's Education Ideas Are Polarizing.  (That could have just as easily read: Surprise, Trump's Ideas are Polarizing.)  From NPR:
In the last year, there's been a big drop in support for charter schools, while other forms of school choice are getting a little less unpopular. That's the top line of a national poll released today.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who's Running for Seattle School Board in the General Election?

The Candidates

Vote, Vote, Vote

An ask from me.

Seattle's City Club is going to have a mayoral debate in late October and I am hoping they will add a question on public education.  They are taking questions and submitting the same (or near-same) question would really help to get it on the list.

Here's the question I would propose (but it certainly can be edited via your suggestions):

What do you believe the role of the mayor is in public education in Seattle and do you believe in mayoral control of either the school board or school district?

Washington State Charter School Updates

There are three two new charter schools opening in Washington State this fall with a current middle school expanding to include a high school.  They have both have been authorized by the Washington State Charter Commission.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A New Kind of Classroom

In any event, advocates argue, the current education system is not working.

From the NY Times, A New Kind of Classroom (that sounds a lot like SPS' Nova):

Tuesday Open Thread

A new tech institute - a joint project between the University of Washington and China's Tsinghua University - will open this fall in Bellevue.  Story from the Times:

Schools Supplies on a Big Scale

From the Progressive via Bill Moyers&Company, Is Back-to-School More Expensive This Year? Yes, and Here’s Why:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Parsing the Friday Memos

I circled back to Friday Memos from the Superintendent because there was a review of Advanced Learning (Spectrum) in the one from June 30th. 

I will get to that important thread but I see a couple of newer ones that deserve some attention.  (Also to note, they need to get better proofreading.  There's some sloppiness in these memos that should not be there.  For example, from the Superintendent Memo of August 11, 2017:

Seattle’s Office of Economic Development shared insightful information on Seattle’s growth and why are students need to be Seattle and beyond ready;

Highlights of the July/August Memos

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Seattle Schools Next Week

Next week heralds the resumption of Board committee meetings and public district activity but I thought I'd give an early heads up especially about the Kindergarten Jump Start event.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Open Thread

Yesterday was National S'Mores Day and yes to those (but no outside fires, please).

In yet another sign of idiocy, the Trump administration wants to cut funding for programs designed to lower the number of teens getting pregnant.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jobs and the Future Workforce, Part Two

 Update: great article in today's NY Times, Seeing Hope for Flagging Economy, West Virginia Revamps Vocational Track:
When it comes to technical education, the United States is an outlier compared with other developed nations. Only 6 percent of American high school students were enrolled in a vocational course of study, according to a 2013 Department of Education report. In the United Kingdom, 42 percent were on the vocational track; in Germany, it was 59 percent; in the Netherlands, 67 percent; and in Japan, 25 percent.
What is the program in West Virginia?
Simulated workplaces, overseen by teachers newly trained in important state industries like health, coal and even fracking, are now operating in schools across the state. Students punch a time clock, are assigned professional roles like foreman or safety supervisor, and are even offered several vacation days of their choice in addition to regular school breaks. (Many take time off during deer hunting season.)

Traditional math and English teachers have been reassigned to technical high schools, to make sure students on the vocational track still gain reading, writing and math skills.

And this fall, students enrolled in simulated workplaces will need to participate in one of the program’s boldest elements: random drug testing.
end of update

A comment from Ghost Mom from Part One of this series on jobs and the workforce:

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Jobs and Our Future Workforce, Part One

I grew up in a company town.  Copper was king and our little town, and other little towns throughout Arizona, depended on one company.  That business also owned the supermarket and the hospital and company houses. You could get a job with just a high school diploma.

Of course, when the copper mine played out and the price of copper dropped, the company closed the mines and the smelters.  Which, of course, was a near-death knell for those towns.  The employees had nowhere to go for jobs, especially low-tech jobs.

I bring this up because in my parents' generation, you did try to get a job in a good company and maybe stay there until they handed you your gold watch at retirement.  Those days are long gone.  Most of our students today will have multiple jobs and maybe multiple careers.  Being flexible and nimble and keeping up with technology may be the key to future long-term employment.

For now, there's what is being called "a skills gap."  From Bloomberg:

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Every Student Succeeds Act Plans

Update: I had forgotten about this great article from Rick Hess about ESSA.

Tuesday Open Thread

Update: just saw this event and wanted to put it out there to get on your calendar if you are interested.
Thanks to a generous grant from Safeco Insurance, we are proud to present Exploration for All: Autism Early Open at Pacific Science Center.

On the second Saturday of each month, through December 2017, all families affected by autism spectrum disorder are invited to explore Pacific Science Center during a special free morning visit from 8-10 a.m. – before we open to the public. Experience our exhibits without heavy crowds when we have softened general lighting and decreased the noise level and visual stimulation on interactive exhibits wherever possible.
Shout out to Garfield grad Ari Melber who hosts The Beat on MSNBC.

Man, those ed reformers don't quit.  The latest nonsense from the Center on Reinventing Public Education and the 74 trying to lure Special Ed parents into the charter school fold. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Latest School Board Election 2017 Tally Results

No new tallies have moved the dial especially in the more contested District V race so I think these will be the final candidates.

Here's the updates:

District IV 
Eden Mack - 70.45%
Herbert J. Camet, Jr. - 7.77%

District V
Zachary DeWolf - 47.17
Omar Vasquez - 17.54%

District VII
Betty Patu - 68.36%
Chelsea Byers - 21.02%

Final results will be certified by King County elections on August 15th.

The PDC shows these campaign amounts:

Eden Mack - raised $15,952.34 and spent $13,926.74
Herbert J. Camet, Jr. - $0

Zachary DeWolf - raised $19,166.00 and spent $4,644.97
Omar Vasquez - raised $15,215.97 and spent $13,271.49

Betty Patu - raised $1,340.00 and spent $0
Chelsea Byers - raised $6,353.60 and spent $139.65

One interesting item to note: Vasquez paid Leadership for Education Equity $500 for "campaign consulting services."  Who is LEE?  A TFA alumni support group.

District to State: It's Not Enough

 Update: my bad.  I skipped over a paragraph in my notes.  See bottom of page for info on impact fees.

end of update

Today's press conference at JSCEE about the district's early analysis of the McCleary funding as approved by the Legislature this year  didn't have many fireworks but there was one good note of passion from an unexpected source.

Fronting for the district were Superintendent Larry Nyland, school board director Jill Geary, and CFO JoLynn Berge.  Director Geary gave the opening remarks, saying the public has asked for information since the legislative session ended.  She noted that SPS has made "shifts" in their budget process, making it more transparent, and want to keep doing so with the new McCleary dollars.  She said that the Legislature did not seem to understand the "particular challenges" of Seattle Schools.

She said, "We anticipate unforeseen consequences for our diverse population and shortfalls in the budget."

She was the Board's legislative delegate to the legislature this past year and thanked the Seattle delegation for their work with her, saying they had been very responsive.

Ms. Berge said that state funding dollars had always had complicated formulas and the new changes in the law didn't make them less so.  She said what they were presenting was not all the analysis but enough to allow them to see that the district will be in a very bad place in just a couple of years.

She then went into the presentation handouts.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Monday Meeting to Talk about School Capacity Issues

Rep Gerry Pollet is having a town hall Monday, August 7th from 5-7:45 pm at the Lake City Library.  He'll be talking about school capacity issues being ignored by upzones. 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Let's Talk Money in Schools

"We can't keep throwing money at the problem" is a familiar line you'll hear from conservatives and ed reformers alike when we talk about funding public schools.

(I'll digress here a moment and state that I do think Seattle Schools needs more money.  But they also need to spend their money more wisely and more transparently.  Charlie loves to say, "Go look at the district's budget - it's all there."  It's there in vague piecharts but do we really know where all the money goes AND where all the money is held?  We do not.)

I saved an article from the end of 2016 from The Upshot section of the NY Times, "It Turns Out Spending More Probably Does Improve Education."  From the "C'mon, this is news?", is this a big surprise.  I don't think so and, when we look at state spending, those states at the top of spending appear to have the best outcomes. (bold mine)
Educators, politicians and unions have battled in court over that crucial question for decades, most recently in a sweeping decision this fall in Connecticut, where a judge ordered the state to revamp nearly every facet of its education policies, from graduation requirements to special education, along with its school funding.
So what other factors come into play when we talk about spending?
Many other factors, including student poverty, parental education and the way schools are organized, contribute to educational results.
Getting more notice - and rightfully so from the POV of equity in funding - is the money that comes from parents.  We've discussed this here before and I plan on asking the Seattle Council PTSA if this will be one of their focus points for the next school year.  I think it should be and I believe the PTSA really could help with equity issues. 
But new, first-of-its-kind research suggests that conclusion is mistaken. Money really does matter in education, which could provide fresh momentum for more lawsuits and judgments like the Connecticut decision.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Data Show Overall Student Discipline Rates are Decreasing, but Gaps Persist

From OSPI:

OLYMPIA—August 4, 2017The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) today released data analytics on student discipline in Washington state school districts.

The data show the 2015-16 school year saw decreases from the previous school year in the number of suspensions and expulsions statewide. 

In the 2014-15 school year, the overall rate of suspensions and expulsions was 3.9 percent. In the 2015-16 school year, the rate dropped to 3.7 percent, which represents 1,804 fewer students being excluded from school. The largest decreases were in long-term suspensions and expulsions.

District Pushes Back on McCleary Fulfillment

Seattle Times article today on McCleary funding which the article indicates seems almost as hazy as the skies over Seattle.

Seattle Schools statement (they are having a media event on Monday which I will attend and bold mine:

McCleary Plan does not achieve state’s paramount duty District also encourages resolution of capital budget

Friday Open Thread

Want to know how to raise good kids and "trail-blazing daughters?"  Listen to the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg aka Notorious RBG.

A documentary on great teachers; it looks good.  Passion to Teach.

Painting lockers as book spines looks like a novel idea.

What did lobbyists think of the last session of the Washington Legislature? Not much. From Elway:

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Seattle School Board Elections Primary 2017

Ballot Update (Thursday at 4:30 pm)

Tueday Open Thread

Sad stat: Washington's homeless student population is the eighth largest in the country. From the Spokesman-Review:

The number of homeless students in Washington state increased 30 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to a study released Thursday.