Friday, December 01, 2017

Friday Open Thread

The after-election Board is having its first retreat tomorrow at JSCEE from 10 am-3 pm.  It is open to the public but no input allowed.  However, they do take breaks and you could chat them up at lunch.  Agenda.   This is a VERY vague agenda that includes lunch with "partners," some talk about a "community focus group" and "interrelated initiatives review."  Hmmm

Looks like one topical issue that may confront new director, Zachary DeWolf - charter schools.  Green Dot charter group wants to open a grade 6-12 charter school near Rainier Beach High School in the New Holly planned community area.  It would also likely impact Franklin High School to the north. (I reported on this recently.)

What's fascinating is that Green Dot wanted three departures from zoning for this project and there was to be a hearing this week on those desired changes.  However, someone read the city law and the ability to request these departures only applies to schools in Seattle Public School district.  (A new hearing will be scheduled sometime in early 2018.)
The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI), which has permitting authority for public school proposals, believes a legislative revision is needed to allow public charter schools the same flexibility in departure requests as currently allowed for the Seattle Public School District. Existing Land Use Code provisions are intended to allow public schools an opportunity to depart from development limits based on recommendations from the Development Standards Departure Advisory Committee. While the State of Washington recognizes charter schools as public institutions, the current local Land Use Code only mentions departures to be requested by the Seattle School District.
SDCI is proposing a revision to this outdated code provision to allow the same flexibility for all public schools, including charter schools. City Council must review and approve the revision before a decision can be issued for the requested departures.
It would appear the City Council would have to change the wording to "public schools" which charter schools are.

BUT, is the City Council going to vote in a change that weaken an already struggling school like RBHS?

Is the City Council going to recall that Seattle voters voted - with a healthy margin - against charter schools?

 Is the City Council going to remember that Seattle Public Schools does not support charter schools? Maybe they need to be reminded.

A sad story out of Washington, D.C. about a low-income high school where all the seniors graduated AND were going to college.  Except they didn't. 

Another sad story - Eatonville SD received a $12,000 grant for technology.  What did they use it for?
The first team to utilize the newly purchased equipment purchased with the grant is the Eatonville High School Varsity Football team. According to EHS Varsity Football head coach, Gavin Kralik, “The technology allows our football program to correct improper technique instantly during a game.”

I'm pretty excited for a talk this weekend by Dr. Beverly Tatum, expert on the psychology of race, speaking on her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race at Town Hall (both presentations are sold out).
In its new 20th edition, Tatum argues that forthright discussion about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides.
One item of note (and pride for this blog) - the number of hits just went over 11M.  The little blog that could; thanks to parent Beth Bakeman for starting it.

What's on your mind?


Transparency Please said...

It seems to me that conversations with "Partners" should be done DURING the retreat. These meetings and conversations should be done in a public forum- not when individuals are having private conversations with "Partners".

Transparency Please said...

The format of the retreat needs to be changed. We deserve to know who and what the "partners" have to say.

It would be nice if retreats are taped.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Transparency, well, the retreat is public but it's fairly cryptic to say "partners" with no specific names/groups.

But yes, the retreats should be taped.

Anonymous said...

Who has been selected (and how) for a "community focus group"?

Cynical reader

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Pretty sure the “focus” group was chosen to agree with staff. I would expect no better from SPS “leadership”

Anonymous said...

Sharon Peaslee took a full time job at Ingraham as a CTE teacher.


Fairmount Parent

Leslie said...


Re: Board Retreat Community Groups 12-02-17

It saddens me greatly that folks are willing to jump to ill intent as their first response. I'm not sure where the lack of specificity occurred other than a guess that with the Bus Strike, Swearing In of Officers, Supt. Search RFP Mtg., late RSVPs of our partners, etc. played out and resulted in the Retreat Agenda not being updated and/or lacked detail, but here are the Community Groups participating tomorrow:

Somali Family Safety Task Force
Refugee Women's Alliance
Open Doors fir Multicultural Families
El Centro de la Raza
Vietnamese Friendship Association
Chinese Information Service Center

and others have been invited but to my knowledge, have not yet RSVP'd:

Horn of Africa
American Indian Women Service League

The point is to listen to topics such as:

What makes you feel welcome in a school/classroom?
What makes your child feel welcome?
What is working well?
What could be improved?
What matters most to families regarding welcoming environments?
What is one thing we (Board & staff) can do better, to better serve you and your children?

We'll go over the Community Engagement Model as well - have lunch and take a tour of the building with our partners.

These are partners we have not heard as much from and/or built the awareness as we need to.

Please be assured that the goals and intent are good and that you are welcome to join us. Sadly, often-times only 1-2 community folks show up at our retreats - we are trying to make them more relevant and thoughtful and have had some GREAT presentations in the past few years.

Changing culture is much slower than I'd (and many of my colleagues') would like, but we are trying with open minds and hearts.

Again - please partner and join us. You are welcome.

Feedback always appreciated.

Leslie Harris
VP, Chair, Audit & Finance, Dist. 6 Director

Directors only email: spsdirectors@seattleschools.org - Directors & Sr. Staff: Schoolboard@seattleschools.org

WS said...

Congratulations on the traffic milestone and thanks for continuing your extensive/intensive coverage. - Tracy @ WSB

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Leslie. Transparency and communication are wonderful, when they happen. More should be encouraged.

As for the assumption of ill intent, that's unfortunately based on too much of a track record. Assuming that things will work out for the best has often come back to bite us in the rear. Fool me once... and all that. You know how it is. But it helps to keep talking, so

Please Do

Transparency Please said...

Thanks for weighing in Director Harris. Nothing personal.

Some philanthropic entities seem to prefer lack of transparency. It seems some prefer end-runs around the board, as well.

Anonymous said...

Seattle public school board is overrated at best. We will have an effective board when we see huge central administrative cuts, until then...YAWN!


Anonymous said...

What are the learnings of the School Board on special education, from the people that they invited? Perhaps Dir Harris could say steps she took to draw this information out, if it was not presented in the normal course of things.


Anonymous said...

The growth in central admin in Seattle Schools is similar to the expansion of central admin in many larger school districts across the country. It is a characteristic of the "ed reform movement" popularized by the "supposed successes" in WADC schools under Michelle Rhee and Kayla Henderson. I say "supposed success" as examination of the data from WADC schools showed nothing good happening for "at risk - high poverty and/or high minority populations.

The central office administrators have expanded their turf and increased their salaries at the expense of teachers, parents, students and taxpayers.

See "The Merrow Report"

When they arrived in 2007, Rhee and her then deputy Henderson promised that test scores would go up and that the huge achievement gaps between minority and white students would go down. This never happened for high minority, high poverty populations.

Seattle under the "leadership" of CAO Carla Santorno adopted Everyday Math in Spring of 2007. She promised the elimination of achievement gaps within 5 years. The mantra was "fidelity of implementation" and a large expansion of daily math classroom time. To assure this, there was a cadre of math "coaches" hired. {Many teachers viewed the coaches as the "math police".}

Net result math achievement gaps increased and overall results actually declined on WA state math testing for Seattle Schools. In spite of a huge increase in instructional time, and increased expenditures from coaching salaries Ms. Santorno's promises went unfulfilled.

The entire premise that increased central admin is beneficial is absurd. Yet no one in leadership challenges this premise. Ms. Santorno is the current superintendent of Tacoma schools.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

" Here’s how Toch reported what has happened on their watch: “While Washington’s test scores have traditionally been among the lowest in the nation, the percentage of fourth graders achieving math proficiency has more than doubled on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) over the past decade, as have the percentages of eighth graders proficient in math and fourth graders proficient in reading.”

Those results, however, stop looking so good once we disaggregate data about different groups of students. Despite small overall increases, minority and low-income scores lag far behind the NAEP’s big-city average, and the already huge achievement gaps have actually widened. From 2007 to 2015, the NAEP reading scores of low-income eighth graders increased just 1 point, from 232 to 233, while scores of non-low-income students (called “others” in NAEP-speak) climbed 31 points, from 250 to 281. Over that same time period, the percentage of low-income students scoring at the “proficient” level remained at an embarrassingly low 8 percent, while proficiency among “others” climbed from 22 percent to 53 percent. An analysis of the data by race between 2007 and 2015 is also discouraging: black proficiency increased 3 points, from 8 percent to 11 percent, while Hispanic proficiency actually declined, from 18 percent to 17 percent. In 2007 the white student population was not large enough to be reported, but in 2015 white proficiency was at 75 percent.

The results in fourth grade are also depressing.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

"To remain aloft, a hot air balloon must be fed regular bursts of hot air. Without hot air, the balloon falls to earth. That seems to be the appropriate analogy for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) during the ten-year regime (2007–2016) of Chancellors Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson. Their top-down approach to school reform might not have lasted but for the unstinting praise provided by influential supporters from the center left and right—their hot air. The list includes the editorial page of the Washington Post, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and philanthropist Katherine Bradley. The most recent dose is “Hot for Teachers,” (in The Washington Monthly) in which Thomas Toch argues that Rhee and Henderson revolutionized the teaching profession in D.C. schools, to the benefit of students. But this cheerleading obscures a harsh truth: on most relevant measures, Washington’s public schools have either regressed or made minimal progress under their leadership. Schools in upper-middle-class neighborhoods seem to be thriving, but outcomes for low-income minority students—the great majority of enrollment—are pitifully low.

So why is the central administration in the SPS not being reduced in size?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Why don't you tell us how it all works MJ. And why is it OK tocall staff SJW's on this "no name-calling" blog?

Mary Jane

More News said...

King County will receive $710M for education. I look forward to the district's comments related to the county's additional funding.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually I don’t consider SJW name-calling but “sock puppet” is. (Also, I do have a life so if I don’t address every comment the moment it goes it, don’t assume I won’t get there.)

Anonymous said...

"Squash Central Administration" not a good idea.
Reduction in size is a good idea.

Returning a lot more decision-making to schools and teachers is a good idea.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Returning more decision-making to schools and teachers is a good idea for option schools, not for schools that students are required to attend. Administrators and teachers should not be allowed to limit student opportunities based on their own preferences and philosophies.

Fairmount Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Fairmount Parent, that's an interesting thought (and one that I agree with). I have often seen principals ignore or change a district program based on their philosophy for their school. No input from teachers or parents.

If the district has programs in place, they need to be executed with fidelity; otherwise, why have a district-wide program?