Showing posts from November, 2017

SPS to Change Order of High School Science Classes

 Update: hearing from sources, this is what I believe this is about: NGSS - New Generation Science Standards, which are not directly part of Common Core.

High School Schedule Update

Internal documents from a couple of high schools indicate the following may be happening for school year 2018-2019 for comprehensive high schools(sorry, I cannot post these docs in order to protect my sources):

Tuesday Open Thread

Update 2: I note that the Board Work Session for tomorrow has been expanded from talking about the superintendent search firm. Work Session: Meeting with Superintendent Search Firm 4:30 pm Location: Board Office Conference Room Work Session: Student Assignment Transition Plan 6:00 pm Location: Auditorium Executive and Closed Sessions: Potential Litigation and Labor Relations 7:00 pm  Interesting.  I will try to make this Work Session. End of update Update: the Seattle Times is reporting that Seattle school bus drivers will strike for one day tomorrow. Bus service will resume Thursday, but the union said it could call for a longer strike if a deal isn't reached with First Student, the contractor that provides bus service to the district. end of update

Seattle Schools' Athletics News

There have been several articles recently about athletics issues in SPS.

McCleary: the long and winding road continues

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled recently on whether the legislature had done its duty by the Court's McCleary ruling about fully funding Washington State public schools. It was a fairly big yes except that the Court also said (and I'm paraphrasing), "But you are not done yet and you need to get it done this next session." From an editorial from  The Columbian :

Parsing the Agreement with the City about Memorial Stadium

The Agreement is eight pages long.  It is not legally binding but appears to be a good faith measure for both the City and the District going forward. I suspect this is a big deal on all sides, not just because it means a renovation of Memorial Stadium but because it is at Seattle Center, a marquee part of the city.  I think for some it might be a feather in their cap to be involved and that kind of feeling can usually mean some jockeying for position. Page One 

Seattle Schools Week of November 27-Dec 2nd

Tuesday, November 28th The swearing-in ceremony for the two newly-elected School Board members, Eden Mack and Zachary DeWolf, along with continuing member, Betty Patu, will be held at JSCEE from 6-7 pm.  Special guest will be state superintendent Chris Rykdal.  Open to all and there will be cake. To note: the Board is having a closed executive session just before the oath of office ceremony. Wednesday, November 29th Work Session to meet with superintendent search firm from 4:30 pm-6pm.  Should be interesting. Saturday, December 2nd School Board retreat from 10 am to 3 pm at JSCEE.  Open to all to listen but no public input is allowed. Also to note this week: Mayor-Elect Jenny Durkan Will Bring City Hall into Communities Across Seattle on First Day

Green Dot Request for Zoning Departures - It's a No from Me

Here's the email I sent to the City and I ask that you consider sending one as well.  These changes will undermine what the New Holly neighborhood was planned to be. Write to Dear Ms. Sheehan, I write in opposition to all the zoning departures that Green Dot Charter Schools is asking for in SDCI PROJECT #302901. These departures for heights and setbacks fly in the face of what is a carefully planned and developed residential neighborhood, New Holly. It is a plan the City itself was involved in and is appropriate to maintain that neighborhood to that plan. I request that you say no to these departures.

Tuesday Open Thread

The Green Dot charter school group is asking the City for a couple of departures for the new high school they want to create.  This new high school, Rainier Valley Leadership Academy, will be very close to Rainier Beach High School and somewhat close to Franklin High School.   Given how some high school families are not happy with the overcrowding in SPS high schools AND the way the district is handling the boundaries issue, these charter high schools might do good business. In other new schools stories, an interesting article from the NY Times on the growing number of for-profit private schools in NYC.   They are entities like AltSchool , a San Francisco-based start-up that says it can use technology to revolutionize education. It opened its first “micro-school” in New York in 2015, and has opened two more since then. There are the cost-cutter schools, like the tiny Portfolio School , which opened last year in TriBeCa and uses technology to keep administrative costs

Seattle Schools Signs MOU with City about Memorial Stadium

This event happened today at Memorial Stadium.  (I would have been there but my invite got lost.)  Representing SPS at the event was Vice-President Leslie Harris and Mayor Tim Burgess.  To understand, the MOU is not legally binding and, going forward, the public will be part of the process about deciding what happens to Memorial Stadium.  This is a measure to get the discussion going. To note, the district MUST keep this stadium because it serves as the home field for several high schools for football and soccer as well as hosting graduations.  The district has no other place for these events.  As to whether the stadium stays there, well, that's a good question to discuss.   I have not yet seen the MOU (I believe it will be released tomorrow).  My understanding is that the district will keep 6 of the 9 acres it controls at Seattle Center AND the district will be part of the Fort Lawton EIS.  I am so happy on the latter because it simply keeps the district in the mix for the

Seattle Schools This Week

Elementary and K-8 schools are closed for parent-teacher conferences.  No school on Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. Monday, the 20th Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community Meeting at JSCEE from 5:30- You are invited to join the Seattle Public Schools Special Education staff, families and D/HH community to: •    Hear updates from staff about the Program Review from the Washington State Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss (CDHL) •    Meet other families & community members with shared interest in D/HH Supervised Children’s Activities, light snack, and ASL Interpreters will be provided. If you have other language or interpreting needs, please contact us Questions or Interpreting/Language Needs? Contact us: Michael Dickneite at 206- 252-0332, or Margo Siegenthaler at 206-252-0794,    There are two other events upcoming that should be of interest.  One is Tuesday, November 28th when the new

Friday Open Thread

A big shout out to Rancho Tehama Elementary in Rancho Tehama, California where this week a gunman, on a rampage in their town, came to the elementary school and tried to access classrooms.  The school staff, hearing the gunfire outside quickly locked the building down.  Footage shows the gunman trying to open doors to classrooms and giving up.  He then shot into the building (one child was hurt by flying debris as he hid under a desk).  Bravo to those calm and brave staff members! Forbes magazine does a listing of "30 under 30" (30 people under 30 years old) for various categories including education.  Now Forbes is a business magazine but the category was "education," not education technology or innovation.  Not a single educator made the list.   Hmmm.  (Also, a shout out to former Board member, Kay Smith-Blum, on the inclusion of her son, Bryce, on a technology list.) There has been no press release on this but KNKX reports the district has started its g

The Seattle Times - Whose Agenda for Public Education?

I've said this a lot.  The Seattle Times has a blurred line between editorial and reporting when it comes to stories on public education in Seattle.  Their reporters deny, deny, deny this but it's too obvious to be denied.  So what is it that is apparent? Slant.  Pure and simple, slant.  And, to a lesser degree, omission of facts. The Times, either via their editorial board or with the input from the Gates Foundation which solely funds their "Education Lab," is attempting to paint a picture of Seattle Schools that is neither fair nor fully fleshed out.  Story after story, there's the same voices (which is kind of funny because they are always complaining about the same activist voices like SEA) and the same people interviewed and quoted. It was interesting to hear the contrast between the outgoing board members - Stephan Blanford and Sue Peters - at last night's Board meeting.  Blanford talked a lot about himself and Peters talked a lot more about

Tuesday Open Thread

Following up on my thread about the Board's upcoming vote on the Naviance software platform, I did write to the Board.  I heard back from a couple of Board members, one of whom sent me several documents to help clarify some issues I raised. These documents were somewhat helpful but here's the thing - why aren't they attached to the BAR?  If there is this much progress on this contract, why the lack of transparency?  It seems every time you turn around, you have to make a special request to see documentation.  And, if they could attach the general RFP for this kind of service, why not these documents? Why? I think they just don't want to be transparent.  It wasn't an oversight or a technical issues.  They just don't want this all aired out. I'm beginning to think that the new superintendent needs to start with being a sheriff first and cleaning up some thinking at JSCEE or some senior staff should be let go. There was a shooting this morning in Nort

Naviance; I Have Some Questions

Update:  The Board voted to put this off until further inspection of issues. Here was the portion of my testimony about Naviance: Why did this pass out of Ops five months ago and yet is just getting here for a vote? Then, it was at Ops in September and yet still is just getting here? Why is there no list of other vendors to compare to?  The student privacy info is minimal and lacking. There are NO penalities to Naviance/Hobson if the data is breached and in all cases with student data, there should be penalities. Documentation was NOT available to the public until yesterday. That is not transparency and it is unacceptable. One key item is that the district is in control of what different aspects of the platform they wish to use (some things are part included and others cost more). AND this: Each school or district configures the product in a way they see fit for their students. Different features are available to to be turned on or off at the sole discretion of the s

Durkan Names Transition Team

And there are a few familiar names on the K-12 education side. One is almost-gone Board member, Stephan Blanford. Another is Mary Jean Ryan (she ran for the Board once and lost) who is the head of the Road Map project, dedicated to better outcomes for low-income students in south King County schools. The other is Trish Dziko who started the Technology Access Foundation, TAF Academy and sits on the Washington State Charter Commission. I can almost hear what Blanford will tell Durkan and I'm sure he would support any overthrow of the Board. But while Ryan and Dziko lean ed reformer, they are not hard-core.  Both are thoughtful, smart people who just want to move the needle on the achievement gap. I suspect in the the next couple of weeks/months - given the fast timeline for Durkan taking office - that we'll see more familiar names.

Seattle Schools Week of Nov. 13-18, 2017

Tuesday, the 14th State of the District speech by Superintendent Nyland from 5-7 pm at West Seattle High School.  I would suspect that all the current Board as well as the newly-elected members are likely to show.  Wonder if Mayor Burgess or newly-elected mayor Durkan will show? Special Education PTSA meeting at JSCEE at 7 pm. Wednesday, the 15th Regular Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm.   Agenda Highlights Action Items: - lifting the 2.0 GPA requirement (a district one and SPS was only one of two in the state to have this requirement).  Reading the BAR, you can see why this had been problematic. - Superintendent Nyland's COLA raise of nearly $7,000. - Award of contract for college/career services for high school students to Naviance.  I will have a separate thread on this one so please stay tuned. - Approval of a contract for a search firm for a new superintendent.  This one perplexes me because the RFP seems to have dates that conflict with this vote (unless

District Updates on Boundaries (and a Survey)

Update 2 (from yet another reader who noticed this about the survey): An FYI in case you didn't know...  Your post today about boundaries and the survey includes several tracking URLs.  i.e. the survey link looks like it's a direct link to survey monkey ( ), but i f you hover over the link in your browser you can see that it's actually a tracking link that ties to your schoolmessenger/email account. And indeed that seems to be the case. Hmmm. End of update From from a reader from a previous thread: I went to the HCS AC meeting last night. First, we were told the 5 pathway plans was not the only plan the Directors would see. Odd. Right? That was from staff! There are four plans they would propose. Stay tuned. Only one was put through operations committee? And that is after none were even explored publicly as the ThoughtExchange had ZERO proposals. ZERO. Change is coming to all who have a kid in SPS. Not HCC kids. ALL kids. W

Friday Open Thread

Rep Suzan DelBene stood up for teachers at a recent Congressional hearing for the Republican tax plan over tax deductions that would go away for individuals but not for companies. One of them is a tax deduction for teachers who spend their own money to buy supplies for their classrooms. I wasn't able to attend the Executive Committee of the Whole meeting but the discussion was listed to be about the RFP for search firms to find a new superintendent. I have not had a chance to read it but it should give a peek into the thinking about what the district wants in a new superintendent. Eight schools were named Schools of Distinction from the Center on Educational Effectiveness.

Former Head of Enrollment Passes Away

From district communications: Tracey Libros, who retired in 2014 after a dozen years of service as head of the SPS enrollment planning office, passed away on Nov. 2 at Swedish Hospital in Issaquah, following a two-year struggle with cancer. 

Tuesday Open Thread

Sorry so tardy; I have a big personal project. Here are the results for Seattle School Board: District IV:  Eden Mack       85.97%. ( which I believe is a record for a Board election ) Herbert Camet 14.03% District V: Zachary DeWolf   61.17% Omar Vasquez.     38.83% District VII Betty Patu        64.11% Chelsea Byers. 35.89% As you might expect, I'm quite happy.  I have confidence in all three of these newly-elected Board members and I believe it is a very strong Board.

Upcoming Seattle Schools Committee Meetings

Update: Director Geary has a regular Tuesday morning coffee at Zoka behind U Village from 8-9:30 am. end of update There is a bevy of School Board committee meetings this week; quite unusual to have so many in one week. Sadly, there are no community meetings with Board members next Saturday so your opportunity to talk to a Board member face-to-face is nil (unless you go to a committee meeting early and buttonhole one of them).

Still a Heads Up on that School Bus Driver Strike

From the district (bold mine): Fri., Nov. 3, 2017 Update: First Student and the bus driver’s union are still in negotiations. We encourage you to check your email and the district website daily for updates. If a strike is called, we will alert you by email, phone, website, social media and local broadcast news.

Have You Voted?

If not, get on it.  I just heard on KUOW that King County Elections has received only 13% of ballots from Seattle and they expect a 48% turnout.  So people are holding onto those ballots. I again urge you to consider voting for Eden Mack in District 4, Zachary DeWolf in District 5 and Betty Patu in District 7.   You've heard my reasoning before but especially for the District 4 candidate, Herbert Camet, and District V, Omar Vasquez - these two men would not be team players.  They exhibit know-it-all attitudes and get testy when challenged.  We need people who temperamentally fit on a team.  You will always have disagreement on a board but voting in people who haven't shown they know the office they are running for is a team job is a bad idea.

Seattle Schools' 2018-2019 Assignment Plan Discussion at Operations Committee Meeting

The Operations Committee of the Board had their regular meeting yesterday afternoon.  All three Board members who serve on the committee - Blanford (chair), Geary and Pinkham - were in attendance as well as many senior staff.   Superintendent Nyland came in about 20 minutes into the meeting. The Student Assignment Plan for next year was moved from the bottom of the agenda to being the first item discussed. There were several pieces of documentation (which I will have to get the links for) .  (I was sent all the documentation in one block all topics on the agenda.  The SAP items start on page 38.)They are:

Friday Open Thread

I don't know about you but I woke up to some snow on the ground.  I did check SPS Communications Twitter feed but they have nothing about transportation so it's fine, I guess. King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered that under 18 year old youth currently being held at the Regional Justice Center in Kent be released to the Seattle Youth Services Center. Those kids had been in solitary for up to 22 hours a day (in order to protect them from the adult inmates) and had 10 minute of face-to-face interaction with a teacher.  This after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of those youth.

Transition Plan for Next Year on Ops Agenda

A reader pointed out to me that on the Operations Committee meeting agenda for tomorrow there is this: Approval of the 2018-19 Student Assignment Transition Plan (Herndon, Davies) (Editor's note; the reader requested a copy and was sent one.)

Seattle Schools Threatens First Student (Big Time)

In the on-going saga about school bus service, there's this from Teamsters Local 174: In a direct response to Local 174 Secretary Treasurer Rick Hicks’s letter dated October 30, 2017, Seattle Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Operations Pegi McEvoy has sent a letter to First Student.  A PDF of the letter is available here.   The letter states that if First Student does not reach a resolution with the Teamsters to avoid a strike, the District will be seeking damages from First Student to the maximum extent allowed by law — potentially at a cost of $1.2 million per day.