Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

A great job on working in the trades from the Marysville Globe.
If school isn’t your thing – don’t drop out, consider a career in the trades.  That’s the message Scott Peterson wants to get out not only to young people, but to others who may be interested in a career change.

While there is a shortage locally in the trades for electricians, plumbers, welders, pipefitters, etc., Peterson, a business agent for UA Local 699, especially is looking for people to install fire suppression equipment.
Here's a story about online learning as developed by Battle Ground school district:
River Online Learning enables students in grades 6-12 to take classes online instead of in a traditional classroom setting. Students in the program can learn at their own pace from anywhere that has an internet connection. And when they need support, they can get it from certificated teachers and their peers at River HomeLink, Battle Ground’s alternative learning school that provides a brick and mortar base for the online program. Continuous enrollment allows students to start any time and begin with just one class, and increase their course load over time to fit their specific needs.

Full-time students in the program meet with teachers face-to-face on a weekly basis, while part-time students meet with teachers at least once per month to track progress and address questions or issues that arise.  

In addition to providing this flexibility, River Online Learning also provides classes that are not offered at other schools, such as computer science courses, foreign languages such as Mandarin Chinese and Latin, and many more.
Did you hear? The "Big Dark" is coming.  From Q13:
Q13 News Meteorologist M.J. McDermott says a second weather system, more rainfall and persistent stronger wind arrives Wednesday morning. The steady breezy wind and steady rain, heavy at times, will seem to last all day and into the night.

Rain will continue, at times, through Thursday along with breezy wind. By late Thursday the chance of a thunderstorm will develop as temperatures cool into the 40s.

Again this year, Q13 News is partnering with Take Winter By Storm, a public-private effort between King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, Seattle City Lights, the National Weather Service and other utilities and retailers, to get you ready for storm season.

The organization has tips to help you prepare for storms and access to a number of checklists to help you and your family before, during and after a winter storm.
This is going to go on thru the weekend so keep that in mind as students get to school and other activities. 

Native American/Alaska Native family meetings, starting tonight at Robert Eagle Staff MS.

From the district webpage:

This Monday, did you know, throughout the school year, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) sources dairy, fruit and vegetables both locally and from across the state of Washington? We do!
What's on your mind?


Kate (Belltown) said...

A question. If I recall correctly, the Court's final McCleary hearing is next Tuesday. One, is that correct? And if so, does anyone know if it will be broadcast (or even just audio), and if so, how to hear it?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, Kate, it is. I'll be going down to Olympia to watch; it starts at 10 am. Yes, they are televised:

"Watching our court hearings, which are all broadcast live online or televised by TVW, Washington's Public Affairs Station."

Anonymous said...

Here is a TVW piece on McCleary from Sept. 14
that features Chis Reykdahl

Inside Olympia

The plan does not fully fund Special Education learning.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the trades.... listen to what Chris Reykdal has to say in the above "Inside Olympia".

I wonder when WA State will come to the realization that requiring Algebra II as a graduation requirement is absurd and counter-productive.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Dan, I wonder when you are going to come to the realization that Algebra II is NOT a graduation requirement. Three years of high school math with Algebra II as a default is the requirement. However, if a student's high school and beyond plan indicates that her/his postsecondary path doesn't require Algebra II, the student can substitute a more appropriate math class instead.


Anonymous said...

Gilead - what is a math class that would be an appropriate sunstitute for Algebra 2 and which schools offer one?

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

Reposting from another thread:


The report was focused on homeless students in SPS, but wow. One child is told he needs to work out conflict resolution on his own and another student suffered bullying, "an eye laceration, a concussion, and a death threat from another child." Families and teachers have left the school. This is about more than how to best serve homeless students - geesh, what's going on at Lowell?


NESeattleMom said...

Re: listener's posting---Equity priorities for SPS should include extra support and staffing for Lowell and other high need schools. Funding for some of the staff at the school district headquarters might be better used helping out our vulnerable students.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know if the claim that boundaries were redrawn to push more of the Mary's Place kids to Lowell instead of QAE is true? Where was the district's equity lens when THAT decision was approved?


Robert Cruickshank said...

That KUOW report about Lowell is utterly damning of the failures of Nyland, Nielsen, and the senior staff at the JSCEE. They ought to do the right thing and resign over this. Failing that, the board needs to demand accountability (including people's jobs) and demand from Nyland a clear answer about how he will address and solve these problems at Lowell.

Anonymous said...


What is the procedure for the student to get approval for an Algebra II substitution?

What classes are viewed as appropriate substitutes?

-- Dan Dempsey

mkb said...

I agree with Robert Cruikshank. Meany Middle School is suffering from the same problems, with little to no support from the district. Things are tough enough for public schools these days, but boundary changes that cause even more problems for schools are appalling. I am sick of hearing terms like "equity" and "closing the opportunity gap" when the district continues to create these problems.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Robert. The Northend rallied and fought hard to protect Cedar Park, Olympic Hills and possibly John Rogers from falling into the same trap after our pathetic (I would say evil) capacity team attempted to REDLINE the Northend. It wasn't easy, but thankfully the board listened and the saving grace was CP becoming an option school. The board requested (directed?) it become an advanced learning option school so of course the District staffers did the opposite and they're trying to create a little Thornton Creek up there. Good luck!

Bottom line: even with crazy amounts of advocacy, the district will take the cheap and easy way out. Putting an inept Principal at Lowell and not throwing extra resources at that population after concentrating all those homeless students in one school is criminal. They were just hoping nobody would notice and they would point fingers at the city or the legislature, but this lands squarely on the District. They really don't give a crap about equity.


Anonymous said...

I also agree with Robert and the above posters. There is a real cynical callousness to the way the district treats our students. Especially those who struggle. We need a complete - and I mean complete - turnover of SPS directors and superintendent. Turnover of the administration is sorely needed to because the present policies must be answerable.


Anonymous said...

The ghettoizing of students, and program placement decisions that lead to highly impacted schools on steroids, is nothing new to SPS.

Just an FYI--this is not an isolated case. All atrocities have their own
definitions and backstories, but there are other cases in this district
(as mkb points out) where this type of overload is SOP.

The SAP plan has mostly made these school/programs invisible to scrutiny since
the attention by those with privilege and power now goes almost exclusively to one's neighborhood schools and "pathways".

And this is occurring in a city of so-called "educated" and "liberal" citizenry.

Being appalled is helpful. Being surprised is naive and a bit precious.

Are you shocked? What do you expect with a school district that has constructed
its assignment plan almost exclusively on housing prices? Robert Cruikshank, you are obviously well-informed and and well-connected. Why are you surprised?

Really, what different programming than what is offered at Lowell should be expected? Why should you react in such a "shocked, shocked" manner and suddenly call for the heads of those who are basically taking the path of least resistance?

Why does it take a segment by a local NPR affiliate to be the impetus to make you wake up?

The writing has been on the wall all along.

About Time

Anonymous said...

@About Time: they didn't say they were "shocked" as if they had no clue. They basically said this is a call to action, and other examples were pointed out. You can't miss an opportunity to sling mud and try dragging people into your dismal world of hate and bitterness. Maybe this one time, just once?, let this not be about you?

Drama Queen

Anonymous said...

Fairmount Parent and Dan, this third math class doesn't have to be a direct substitution for Algebra II. A student, based on her high school and beyond plan, could take statistics rather than Algebra II if it better aligned to her future goals and pathway. The student could take an advanced Applied Math/Physics course via CTE.

If you're thinking it needs to be an equivalent course to Algebra II, you're thinking of this wrong. It simply needs to be that next course after Alg/Geo or Integrated Math I and II, that gets them on the pathway of their own choosing.


Anonymous said...

From the State Board of Education website: "Through the Class of 2018, the students may take a third credit of math other than Algebra 2 or integrated math 3 subject to certain requirements in rule WAC 180-51-067(2)(b), such as a meeting with students, parents or guardian, and a school representative. Starting with the Class of 2019, the third credit of math should align with the student’s High School and Beyond Plan, prepare students to meet state assessment system standards, and be chosen with the agreement of the parent or guardian or a school counselor or principal if the parent or guardian does not indicate a preference (WAC 180-51-068)."


NESeattleMom said...

About time, If people don't know something is happening, they learn from someone bringing the information to their attention. Every detail of all the boundaries have impacts, but you couldn't expect people not involved to know the details. The problem is that the school district seems to not be taking appropriate action to help the students achieve their potential. This is the classic equity vs. equality example where these students need more support. It sounds a bit similar to the problems at Stevens a couple of years ago, in a different socio-economic neighborhood but with some commonalities in the challenges.

Another View said...

State Representative Pollett responds to KUOW article related to Lowell elementary. I can't go down the path of fully blaming the district. Pollet calls attention to the fact that the state pays to support one social worker for every 400(!!) students. Here is what he has to say:

"Tragic how we fail to serve homeless students... but, when pointing fingers before you point at Seattle School District start with this reality: Our State has been providing school districts with funding for .042 of a social worker for every 400 student elementary school. You read that right: four one hundredths of a social worker for every school; e.g., one social worker for every 25 schools. This year, we temporarily funded an increase to one quarter of a social worker per elementary (but, still at .08 of a social worker per middle school). BIG TAKEAWAY: we are far from fully funding basic education, even though we made a substantial new investment this year. KUOW's reporting recommendations that a school social worker visit every homeless student's shelter before school starts every day is a dream that can't possibly be met with current school funding (KUOW reported that Lowell does have one FT social worker, meaning the district used local levy funds to add resources, but much more time is needed for the students). The district should be providing every teacher and paraeducator with social emotional skill, trauma coping, deescalation skills (these are important for the special education students as well)."

We Need Better STEM said...

Did anyone notice that in the Seattle Times article today (http://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/as-amazons-deadline-for-hq2-bids-closes-speculation-on-winner-heats-up/) about the potential location of Amazon's second headquarters mentioned what they're looking for in schools?

Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business and a member of the committee that will decide where HQ2 will be located, added a bit of detail that goes beyond Amazon’s public request. In comments at a conference hosted by technology news site GeekWire last week, he said he hoped the company would choose a spot with public schools with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

If only we could be a city with public schools like that :-(

Wondering said...

I don't know that I completely buy into Amazon's philosophy about STEM. Doesn't Microsoft and Amazon hire individuals with visas to save money??? As I understand it, there are plenty of good workers, but these companies want to save a few bucks.

Eric B said...

I don't believe that the enrollment staff deliberately moved homeless populations into Lowell. I don't believe that they are trying to create a more segregated school system.

That said, despite all of the talk about looking at things through an equity lens, I also don't believe that staff seriously looks at how boundary changes affect disadvantaged populations. That's hard to forgive, as is pulling counselor/behavioral specialist support from students that obviously need it and not getting teachers training they need to support homeless students.

We Need Better STEM said...


On the other hand, it wouldn't exactly HURT our students if we emphasized science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Even if the students didn't end up working for Amazon, it's not like a strong STEM background hurts students. It's not harmful to students. And it's actually completely consistent with the whole goal of sending children to school: educating them. So, kind of a win-win if you ask me...

Anonymous said...

@We Need Better Stem,

I'm pretty sure that the reason they want schools strong in STEM is that the employees they hire, who are STEM prodigies for the most part, will likely have children gifted in and interested in STEM. Those employees will want schools that are good for their children and they will be more likely to accept jobs at Amazon if it is located near good schools.


Anonymous said...

As someone who majored in a STEM field, I would not want public schools focused solely on STEM. I appreciate the education I received in high school - from a school that was equally strong in math, science and the humanities - and wish I had something similar for my children here. I took 5 years worth of math (doubled up one year), but my favorite class was studio art. Do we really just want to churn out STEM graduates? No. But we do want schools where a decent well-rounded education is at least possible and they don't seem to be in a state of constant crisis.

Seattle tired

mkb said...

Re Cruikshank, Eric B, Pollet response to KUOW report. These are very troubling issues. Rep. Pollet is 100% correct re funding issues as they relate to supporting high needs students. The legislative McCleary response is completely inadequate, and I don't know how the Court could find it constitutional.

In the meantime, though, the district needs to find ways to address these issues. ALL students in these schools are being harmed. Those students with behavioral, etc. issues are not getting the supports/services that they desperately need. But also, as the KUOW report notes, teachers are overwhelmed. The solution goes well beyond giving teachers strategies for working with these students, though that's needed as well. But with 5 or 6 periods a day, and over 30 students per class (beyond K-3), there simply isn't the ability to do differentiated teaching and meet everyone's needs. In fact, teaching falls to the wayside as a high percentage of classroom time is spent dealing with intensive discipline issues. This doesn't help students who are disrupting classes (whatever the root causes), and it doesn't allow high quality teaching for any students. Ultimately no students' needs are adequately met, and teachers are left feeling frustrated, burned out, angry and defeated. Excellent, experienced teachers are leaving these schools where they are most needed. KUOW talked to Lowell teachers, and anyone could talk to the 7th/8th grade Meany teachers (and no doubt other schools in the district of which I'm not aware). But it's untenable to push so many of society's ills into the schools, and expect teachers and administrators to be able to somehow manage them. JSCEE needs to bear this in mind and, among other things, look at the fat in their budget.

NO 1240 said...

Gates has decided to move past small schools and Common Core. Here is his next adventure:

"According to Gates, about 60 percent of the new $1.7 billion investment will support the development of new curricula and the foundation's new venture centered around building networks of existing schools, and about 15 percent will support the foundation's charter school work. The other 25 percent will focus on "big bets," which Gates characterizes as having "the potential to change the trajectory of public education over the next 10 to 15 years.""

Any chance Gates is talking about BaseCamp. An online learning program that works in conjunction with Summit charter schools? Worth remembering that Gates wanted to use our students data for online learning; he wanted to work with a large organization (Bloomburg?) We do know that SPS staff was working with Summit. I hope that project has stopped.


Anonymous said...

What’s the story here? Seattle times have it right re no Nyland renewal? https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/seattle-school-board-opens-search-for-new-superintendent/

- Bob

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank God we have About Time to school us all on how we all need to change. Man, all these years at this blog and I'm still shocked but I guess maybe that's the wrong reaction for some.

Amazon could pay into helping create those schools they so desire. But frankly, I wouldn't want an entire district devoted to STEM.

Bob, the majority of the Board voted for a search. So that means a new superintendent but the writing has been on the wall for awhile for Nyland. That the Times - thru those quotes - seems to try to want to stave this off is just one more example of their editorial side bleeding thru to reporting. And Blanford saying the public should have been asked about Nyland staying or leaving? He wasn't for that when Nyland became the permanent superintendent so why now?

Anonymous said...

Seattle Times comments on the supe search are nutty--a bunch of people saying it seems like he's doing a good job, so why not keep him? I have a feeling that most of those supporters are basing this "good job" assessment on what's in the article, the idea that he's not rocking the boar, as opposed to anything meaningful. Yes, we're working on the opportunity gap under him--but it's not like it was his idea, nor are we making great progress. The equity lens is very selectively applied, not always in favor of those most in need.

In terms of managing big things that affect students district-wide, I haven't been impressed.

We got a 2-yr waiver (instead of just a single year) to come up with our plan for implementing the 24-credit graduation requirement, yet we failed to come up with a plan for implementation this fall as required. Kicking the can further down the road again--not only with no solution in sight, but no attempts to engage the community in figuring out a new plan after the first recommendation was (apparently) rejected. S'up, Nyland?

We're currently in the midst of adopting a new SAP--which staff wants to be the whole shebang, dropping the "temporary" label--yet there's been very little community engagement (public meetings seem to come after the decision-making, in true SPS fashion) despite the big changes that seems to be quietly embedded in the draft SAP, although they aren't sharing the plan yet, either, even though meetings and decisions are happening soon. This seems like even less transparency than ever. Isn't improved communication supposedly one of the district's main goals? S'up, Nyland?

The ongoing high school boundary redraw is similarly messy and suffers from the same lack of transparency and engagement. On both the boundaries and the SAP Nyland seems content to let enrollment/demographics run the show, with no consideration of things like transportation or academics. S'up, Nyland?

Then there's MTSS and our stunning lack of progress. Have we accomplished anything on MTSS during Nyland's entire tenure? Aside from trying to get a contractor to help develop a plan after all these years of apparently flailing about without a plan? S'up, Nyland?

Has rigor improved in the district under Nyland? Is family satisfaction up? Is our fiscal management any better? Are SpEd services faithfully implemented? Are we adopting strong new curricula? Are we providing schools with the supports they need?

I'm just not seeing all the great things Nyland and his minions are supposedly doing.

S'up, Nyland?

Melissa Westbrook said...

And it's actually completely consistent with the whole goal of sending children to school: educating them.

Ah but are we training them or educating them? A late friend - who was an academic - once said, "It's like saying do you want sex training or sex education?"

I want educated citizens and STEM alone cannot deliver that.

Better STEM said...

I'm not saying STEM alone. I also want educated citizens. I'm saying that for students who are particularly mathy/techy/computery people, of which surely out of 54,000 students there are some, it should be possible to get a strong STEM education within SPS. Should it be possible or impossible for a public school student in the largest district in the state to get a strong STEM education?

No coding taught at school? After school coding classes cost hundreds of dollars? Only some kids have access to learn how to code? Walk-to math forbidden at 40% of schools? Students who have successfully passed science classes forced to retake science classes? Cleveland and Hazel Wolf are turning students away left and right. Louisa Boren, too? Sounds like there's plenty of demand for Ballard's biotech academy. My child doesn't have access to any of those schools.

UW has a very highly respected engineering dept. Student sails through Roosevelt with top grades, gets into UW, not prepared for the kind of studying you've got to do in college, couldn't get into engineering dept., had to transfer to OSU to study engineering. (https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/students-frustrated-trying-to-get-into-uws-strict-engineering-program/)

There's a difference between forcing every student to get a strong STEM education and making it impossible for my child to get one based on our address.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Better STEM, I agree with all that you say (my husband worked in the CSE department at UW).

But you don't design an entire system around one topic was my point.

However, if we have kids who want a certain topic and the demand is there, a nimble district would meet that demand and in every corner. The district has programs that parents like but cannot access because of address. That's also an equity issue.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick update on UW's engineering program and changes at UW since that Seattle Times article was published. Beginning with the freshman class of 2018 (in other words those HS students applying for admission now), the College of Engineering will offer Direct to College admission. Under this new program, students are admitted directly to the College of Engineering as "engineering undeclared". If a student is not admitted Direct to College, they may still receive an offer of admission to UW, but would be admitted as a pre-major. Note: Computer Science and and Bioresource Science and Engineering do not participate in this pathway.