Sunday, December 10, 2017

Seattle Schools Week of December 11-15

Update: A&F agenda and C&I agenda updated to include supporting documentation.

end of update

Monday, December 11th
Audit&Finance Committee Meeting, agenda

Tuesday, December 12th

Board Work meeting on superintendent search, 2:30-4:00 pm, agenda
Includes a timeline for new superintendent.  It says there is to be an online survey available December 5th but I have seen nothing.

Curriculum and Instruction Committee Meeting, 4:30-6:00 pm agenda

Of interest:
-Superintendent SMART Goal 1, Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (Jessee)
-New Superintendent Procedure 2331SP, Controversial Issues and Guest Speakers (Tolley/Van Duzer) 

-Special Attention Items
1. Math Adoption Pilot Update (Box)
2. New Course Offerings (Perkins)
3. Instructional Materials Adoption Process and Materials Cycle Planning (Tolley)

Editor's note: no accompanying materials to explain any of this; I will request them. Now attached.

Page 47 is a single page about an interim assessment field test.  
Page 48   

Kyle Kinoshita 2/3/17 To: Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee From: Kyle Kinoshita, Chief of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction,
Date: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 

Dear Committee Members, At the December 12, 2017, C&I Policy Committee meeting you will be receiving for your information a new procedure, 2331SP Controversial Issues/Guest Speakers. It is attached to an existing policy of the same name. The impetus for developing the new procedure is the emergence of intense, sometimes divisive political and social issues over the past few years. As these issues generate strong opinions, discussions taking place throughout society inevitably find their way into the classroom. The procedure provides more explicit guidance to Seattle Public Schools staff members who conduct conversations within the classroom to ensure that students are free to exchange ideas, express views, and form opinions in a respectful atmosphere. 

So this addition/new procedure around controversial issues/guest speakers seems to want to address what is said/present within school buildings.  I find it curious that only controversial guest speakers warrant parental notification but not teaching and learning in the classroom.


Wednesday, December 13th 
Board Work Session: BEX V update, Board goals, Budget-4:30-7:30pm, no agenda available

Thursday, December 14th
Executive Committee Meeting, 8:30-10:30 am, no agenda available


Clara said...

Thanks for being so diligent about requesting the materials. I'm a busy working parent and I appreciate your taking the time to search out and share the info.

Michael Rice said...

Does anyone know what this means: 1. Math Adoption Pilot Update (Box)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa. I'd be interested in the "Controversial Issues/Guest Speaker" policy info.

The board policy states: "When an invited speaker expresses opinions which are partisan or considered controversial by a large portion of the community, the school shall provide for the presentation of opposing views."

The phrase "controversial by a large portion of the community" always seemed questionable. Given the political leanings of Seattle, it effectively silences dissent on several controversial subjects. I doubt this will be addressed in the Superintendent Procedure, but it's a good opportunity to question whether or not the existing policy really provides for a balanced and open exchange of ideas.

seattle bubble

Anonymous said...

It helps to look at policies of other (more competent) districts. Bellevue School District, for example, has a much more complete and balanced policy (Policy 2331 Academic Freedom and Controversial Issues):

A controversial issue arises when one or more of the proposed solutions to a problem is in conflict with the cherished interests, economic or social beliefs, group affiliations, or political expectations of a section of the citizens of the community.

Controversial issues provide stimulation to learning by stirring intellectual excitement and are thus an integral part of the normal classroom environment...

B. When handling controversial issues, the teacher may not present his/her own personal position as the only acceptable position which may be taken on that particular issue...

E. Neither the teacher nor the student shall avoid an issue simply because it is of controversial nature, nor shall an issue be raised merely because it is of a controversial nature;

F. In handling controversial issues, the teacher shall not seek to bring about a single conclusion to which all students must subscribe;

I. All sides of a controversial issue shall be explored;

...and so on.

seattle bubble

Anonymous said...


New middle school math textbooks went through a selection process, concluding later this year with an expected use of the new materials for the 2018-2019 school year.

Sigh said...

From the Curriculum & Instruction Committee Meeting:

"Ms. Toner noted that high school teachers say that our middle school students are not ready in the content areas in high school science..."

"She noted that the science materials are 22 years old at this time."

Ms. Welch "noted that Seattle students are not competitive in colleges since our materials and programs and not competitive. Ms. Welch noted that our students in underserved schools do not have resources at schools and if we do not provide them with the resources they will never get exposure to the resources to make them successful."

Anonymous said...

The policy is a needed update, though I'd argue Bellevue's policy is still much better in protecting both students and teachers. Such policies need to strike a balance between allowing academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas, while still respecting an individual's rights and safety in the classroom.

Bellevue's description of controversial issues:
A controversial issue arises when one or more of the proposed solutions to a problem is in conflict with the cherished interests, economic or social beliefs, group affiliations, or political expectations of a section of the citizens of the community.

Prior to the teaching and discussion of issues that are partisan or considered to be controversial to a large portion of the school community, staff members:

One filter of how well student rights are being protected is whether or not the given policy would make a Seattle student feel protected in a Salt Lake City public school or vice versa. Under Bellevue's policy, I'd argue, yes, but under Seattle's, I'd argue, no. It's a matter of WHAT constitutes a controversial issue and HOW those issues are handled and discussed in the classroom. A teacher saying, "this is a safe space to share your opinions" does not automatically make it a safe space to respectfully and freely exchange ideas. Once again, put yourself in the place of a student transplanted from another city where the beliefs and values of the majority may differ greatly from Seattle's. Perhaps the filter should be, would a student from Alabama feel free from intimidation in a Center School classroom?

Thanks, Melissa. How ironic that a proposed policy on controversial issues and "free access to information" is not freely available for parents to review. The "pilot project" of withholding documents needs to end.

seattle bubble

Anonymous said...

MW, you make a good point about parental notification. Not all teachers exercise sound judgment when it comes to the maturity level of students. Seattle's policy makes a distinction between the classroom and guest speakers, and only in the case of controversial guest speakers are parents notified and individual students explicitly given the option of opting out. Shouldn't similar language apply to both the classroom and speakers? Is that included in policy elsewhere?


Sighing Too said...


Our middle school did not have science materials. What materials are 22 years old?

Anonymous said...

The Instructional Materials Office maintains a list of current adoptions on the SPS website. For HS science:

SCIENCE: Standards-Based Instructional Materials

General Science:
*Eisenkraft, A. (2000). Active physics transportation.
*Eisenkraft, A., & Freebury, G. (2003). Active chemistry.
*Smith, M. J., Southard, J. B., & Demery, R. (2000). EarthComm: Earth system science in the community.

*Biology-- a human approach. (1997).

*Wilbraham, A. C. (1994). Chemistry.
*Herron, J. D. (1993). Heath chemistry
*Tocci, S., & Viehland, C. (1996). Holt chemistry: Visualizing matter.

Earth Science:
*Spaulding, N. E., Namowitz, S. N., & LeMone, M. A. (1994). Earth science.
*Optical Data Corporation, THE LIVING TEXTBOOK, D.C. Heath, 1994.

Ecology/Environmental Science:
*Raven, P. H., Berg, L. R., & Johnson, G. B. (1993). Environment.
*Christensen, J. W. (1996). Global science: Energy, resources, environment
*Bernstein, L., Winkler, A., & Zierdt-Warshaw, L. (1994). Addison-Wesley environmental science: Ecology and human impact.

*Lewis, R. (1994). Human genetics: Concepts and applications.

Life Science:
*Kaskel, A., Hummer, P. J., & Daniel, L. (1995). Merrill biology: An everyday experience.

*Zitzewitz, P. W., Neff, R. F., & Davids, M. (1994). Merrill physics: Principles and problems.
*Ztec Co., CINEMA CLASSICS. (videodisc)

Physical science:
*Maton, A. (1995). Exploring physical science.

...who knows what's actually being used in classrooms.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating list. For World Languages, they have materials adoptions for Russian (1989) and German (2000). They used to have Literature texts for middle school LA.

double sigh

Sigh said...

Whoa, wait... a genetics book from 1994???? It's not like anything has changed in the field of genetics since then!!!!! That's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to compare and contrast how the SPS budget has been “managed” over the last 10-15 years compared to five surrounding districts, with an eye on % budget to central office overhead compared to classroom supports, C&I, etc..

Train Wreck

Anonymous said...

I've pointed this out here before, but the list of adopted science textbooks means its worth a revisit.

At one point (ie, when I was a student ...) the district did a reasonable job of reviewing and adopting curriculums and textbooks for all levels on a regular basis. I can remember, multiple times, receiving brand new books for a new school year, at all levels. None of the textbooks I used were older than ten years old, and my classrooms always (or, almost always) had enough books to go around.

Then at some point shortly after the John Stanford administration, the regular review of curriculum materials and procurements of new textbooks pretty much stopped.

Look at that science textbook list. I graduated 15 years ago. I used those textbooks when I was in high school. I recognize the titles and authors.

The School Board is not making a conscious decision to *not* adopt new curricular materials. Instead, there is no master schedule of when these come up for review, and the cost of the textbook adoptions are not being including in the budgets that the board has to approve.

Doing one subject, at one grade level, per year (which is close to the pace we've seen for the last five years or so) just isn't going to get it done. HQ is a building full of professionals, and yet, they can't figure out how to fulfill this basic duty of the school district. The board needs to shine a bright light on this and demand change, either from this Superintendent or the next one.


Anonymous said...

The science website for the district has information on what is to be framing instruction K-10. https://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=18452

Textbooks are not the framework for teaching science, they are simply a resource.

K-8 is still the kit model (so all schools should theoretically have the same materials appear when the kit arrives). The real inequity in science is in high school.

9th grade physical sci has SPU physics professors and and science education researcher from the doctoral program in Physics Ed Research collaborating with district teachers.

Biology is utilizing and supporting teachers with the NSF funded, research supported Carbon Time Curriculum. http://spsbiology.pbworks.com/w/page/89044937/I-C%20Plants

Subjects beyond Biology are a bit on their own since they are after SBA testing.
UW Physics Education Group trains, provides curricular materials, and continues to works with many local physics teachers. Modeling Physics through Arizona State has also trained and provided curricular materials. While the curriculum frameworks are available across the district, some students are grouped 2 to 3 for collecting and analyzing real time data collection on Vernier probeware running experiments on photosynthesis respiration-and others are referencing a 22 year old textbook and making an analogy poster of the process (since the PTA hasn't dropped $30,000 on science equipment recently). Or watching a whole class demo of a teacher running the lab with one set of equipment. Some schools are also more likely to move students on to an advanced science class supported with considerable consumables (pig dissections?) and college level textbooks that were purchased with funds originating from parents (lab fees, donations, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Forgot a tab on the last post..

Former SPS