Tuesday, February 13, 2018

This and That

It appears that the district will be granting a leave of absence to Lowell principal, Colleen Stump, as soon as this Friday.  No word on her replacement.

No sure if the district's Science Department is really hearing what parents and teachers are saying but here's what I'm hearing about the new changes for high school science.

The new 9th grade “PhysA PS / ChemA PS“ course codes that were given to the registrars at most high schools are the course codes of the Physics and Chemistry courses that, up until now, have been offered to juniors and seniors who have fulfilled math prerequisites, and are crucial for admission to some colleges.

Meaning, that colleges may end up confused about what courses students have taken.
Registrars were given this note:
NOTE – Since these courses are existing courses, they will see outdated Descriptions when they participate in the PowerSchool Online Course Request this spring. To not impact current student transcripts, the changes will take place over the summer & schedules will reflect new names when PS is available in the fall.
It looks like parents of incoming 9th graders will see their student sign up for a course - based on the description in the course catalog that has been there for years - and their student will get something different in the fall.

Why all the subterfuge?

Also in science news, Trump was going to pretty much slash and burn many federal departments that support scientific endeavors including public education and then, at the 11th hour, those cuts were pulled back.

There's a great article from NPR on the science of learning to read.
Success in reading depends on linking print to speech. There's a massive amount of behavioral research, neuroimaging research, on brain organization and brain development, which conclusively shows that skilled reading is associated with children's spoken language, grammar and the vocabulary they already know. It's about teaching kids the correspondence between the letters on a page and the sounds of words.
What also caught my eye was this:
One interesting recommendation you offer is that college graduates who sign up for Teach for America be hired not as classroom teachers but as an army of reading tutors.

Yes. They could be trained to provide supplemental reading instruction, one-on-one or in small groups. That's what wealthy people do. They pay for tutors. Poor people can't.
So I would say yeah, put more people in the classroom or after-school programs who focus on reading and language. This would be helpful.
First, amen to that on two counts.  We definitely need kids in early grades to have more one-on-one time with tutors.  And the point about better-off parents being able to afford tutors rang true to me after hearing a discussion at the Crosscut Festival a few weeks ago about public education.

I'll have to write a separate thread on the discussion (and the odd moderating) but on the point of tutors, former Washington State Teacher of the Year, Lyon Terry, talked about opportunity gaps.  He mentioned how at his school in Magnolia, there were six students in his class who had tutors outside of class and how he wished all his students had that.  He spoke of these kids of privilege and that it was an equity issue. 

And holy Toledo!  The vaccination rates in Oregon charter schools and traditional schools is frightening.  If they get an outbreak of measles, it will spread like wildfire.   Some charters have up to 65% of their students not being vaccinated.
An analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive shows that nearly 65 percent of the state's public charter schools lack what scientists call herd immunity against measles, meaning not enough children are immunized to prevent the disease from sweeping through their immediate community.

A much smaller percentage of traditional public schools fall into the same category, but they have more students, so the potential exposure is greater.
Oregon historically has had among the lowest overall vaccination rates in the country.


Anonymous said...

Alas, the awful high school science mash-up is HUGE. It is insane and cruel. How about that paramount duty concept? Tossing watered down, manipulated baby chem and baby physics at our kids, denying them a real science education, is beyond stupid. Why bother at all with any science? Why not just stick with those “kits” from elementary and leave it at that? They get that other districts and states and nations are going to keep educating their students to the best of their abilities, right? Leaving ours out in the cold. This emperor-has-no-clothes charade can only play out so long before standardized tests show our kids really learned no real science. Then what? Do they even like children?

This is not a district that can execute curriculum well (if at all). This is not a team (Nyland, Tolley) that has shown care or regard for the very real needs of learning (let alone the realities of the teachers in the classrooms who have to stand and deliver).

These are the SAME KIDS who were screwed over by sh*tty Everyday Math (aka “diffuse & confuse” math) AND Readers & Writers workshop (“guess and go” spelling!). Now these same kids are finally reaching the distance shore of high school and they kick out the legs of Science?!?!?

They say they care about “equity” but by making public education as sh*tty as possible, they must know they are making families desperate to access real education for their kids in any way possible, yes, even if it means moving. Those with means will get creative and have options/choices. Those without will be tragically forced to watch their kids get served a sh*t sandwich. How’s that equity? Drive out families with means, and force substandard education on the remain captives whose families care just as much as the escapees, only whose means or circumstances prevent them from protecting their children from this nightmare district.

@Melissa, perhaps retitle this blog post as SCIENCE UPDATE? Please? Please, don’t bury this lead: it is too important. Science is VITAL to education, for our youths’ economic futures and for this next generation of citizenry to withstand the current administration’s assault on reason, which was the cornerstone of the Enlightenment.

Science Reality

bubba said...

where can we find information about Lowell Principal, Colleen Stump leaving Lowell? Isn't this the 5th Principal some our family's will have encountered, for example if their child attended Preschool-5th grade? What is happening here to explain this???

Anonymous said...

Is the new science curriculum going to be the same disaster as Everyday math? Are we talking about confusing problems that take forever to solve? Educators may love this discovery type of learning, but it really holds back students.
I agree with Science Reality. Effective curricula is the biggest problem for SPS. Wealthier parents try to get around it by hiring tutors, but insisting upon proven educational approaches during the school day would be far better.
Why can’t the District get this right?

S parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bubba, I have my sources and this is all I know. I'm sure the district will be sending a notice to families soon.

S Parent, I hope the Board realizes that this confusion needs to stop about the high school science curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with all of Science Reality's points.


Anonymous said...

So... is the board going to step in on the science curriculum revamp, or not?


Anonymous said...

write to the board - ask them to vote that the science is an adoption, not an alignment. That's the only way to stop the train.

QA Parent

Anonymous said...

An introduction to chemistry and physics is needed before a biology course now because biology has developed into a real science. Biology historically was anatomy and classifications. Historically it was seen as a soft and gentle introduction to sciences. It was part science and part Latin, logic and vocabulary.

Now biology is genetics, biochemistry and proteins, energy and conduction. Biology has changed as a science as our research and understanding has developed. It should now come last in the sequence, as it builds on the other sciences, but high schoolers don't have the math development for a complete chemistry and physics until near graduation. Dividing the Chem and physics in half makes sense for kids this age so they can understand a high school biology class at all. They will likely need more biology in college after their understanding of chemistry is better.


Anonymous said...

Oh, the Pearson Envision math proposed for middle school is terrible. It's almost all story problems, many poorly written. There is very little opportunity for mastery, and way to much room for confusion. It will leave all ELL kids and struggling readers in the dust. It will only increase our "opportunity" gap.


Mark DeLoura said...

You comment that Trump was going to cut fed departments that support science and ed, but that the cuts were pulled back.
The budget proposal this past week was pretty terrible for science and education. It includes terminating NASA's Education department and NOAA's Education department. Also terminates the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences, and terminates the Wilson Center. Eliminates the Dept of ED's 21st Century Community Learning Centers (afterschool programs). Many other eliminations as well, such as NEA, NEH, CPB, ARPA-E, AmeriCorps, the Global Climate Change Initiative, etc. There's a lot not to like in this budget proposal! :-(

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

reposting for anonymous: Lowell parent here. Lowell' principal, Dr. Stump, is taking a leave of absence. There was no reason given for the leave of absence, which can be up to 3 months. Returning is at her discretion. Dr. Stump has been under a lot of pressure and scrutiny from unhappy parents. Parents have been actively engaged with the district, asking for a change of leadership. Staff have been deeply unhappy with her leadership. In the last few months, her boss, Kim Whitworth, as well as a principal coach have been around a lot, and sitting in on Dr. Stump's meetings. Many parents are hoping she will not return. The interim principal will be Jo Lute-Ervin. Does anyone know anything about her?
Lowell parent

NESeattleMom said...

you can use the search function on this blog to see past history of a person of interest.

Anonymous said...

Jo Lute-Ervin has been cycled through a few schools over the years. A quick google shows she has been embroiled in some controversies.

MW - take note, an exec director actively involved in what is happening at the school.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Northwesterner, yes, I have long had an issue with the Executive Directors and what exactly they do (or don't do). I have a pretty compelling case coming up (and I wish I didn't). It is not about Lowell.

On that note, it is sad to see Lowell struggling. It had been a fairly stable school for a long time. I know that they have a larger than average population of homeless students which makes for many challenges.

Anonymous said...


These executive directions do not seem to be accountable for anything. I am shocked at the things that are going on in my kid's school, that should have been caught by the principal's boss if she/he were interested/looking/truly accountable.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, I'd really like to compile a list of schools that have asked for help from EDs because I have yet to hear from a single parent that it worked. I just don't see what they are doing.

Outsider said...

The job of EDs is presumably to monitor compliance with central office policy, and enforce compliance via performance reviews of principals. That seems enough to occupy a full bureaucratic workday, so why the puzzle? If a school appears to be doing badly, or has some parents upset, that does not necessarily mean that it's out of compliance with central office policy.

Separate note: another interesting comment on the college industrial complex (CIC):

prek said...

Special thanks to the board directors that called attention to capacity issues and the fact that the city is not paying for classrooms- and the district is paying for space at the Seattle Center. The district is spending $4M per year on portables and it wouldn't hurt the district to receive some cash from the city. Presently, the city has $81M to serve 1600 prek students. The same director expressed concerned that before school and after school programs have to move. Nielsen tried to carry water for the city and state that the district has a rule about not charging community partners. I don't believe any other entity seeks 24 full time classrooms.

I would also like to thank the director that called attention to the fact that the former mayor was willing to discuss the 25% hold back. Does the district have enough grant funding to cover hold back costs for 24 classrooms?

Cashel Toner is now really SPS's program because teachers are a part of SEA. Yet, the city dictates curriculum.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Outsider, problem is that many principals aren’t in compliance and why don’t EDs catch that? And you just explained it better than a whole work session on the topic.

And that “rule?” It should go away when we are talking about big entities AND those that the district is already paying for space.

Pre-K, I suspect that the Board got info on that program from concerned citizens.

Dave said...



If you only knew.

"Culture of Lawlessness" does not BEGIN to describe current Disrict.

Dave said...

Love Charlie and miss him but when he coined the phrase he seems a naif in retrospect.

THIS makes MGJ AND BANDA days pale in comparison.

"Dogmas of the peaceful past are
inadequate for the stormy present"
A. Lincoln

Bless you Charlie, wherever you are.

Anonymous said...


"Pre-K, I suspect that the Board got info on that program from concerned citizens."

You, in fact, have been instrumental in getting the board wake up.

Thank you for being so persistent with this blatant willingness of the city of Seattle to use SPS's incompetence for the taking.


Dave said...

Jo Lute-Ervin has stepped up and taken on a number of difficult assignments for the District in a career that spans many years here.

She knows and follows policies better than any E.D. on staff.

She is a fine person who knows how to treat ALL people in a respectful way.

That is sorely lacking here.

Anonymous said...


Many of us parents have been treated extremely disrespectfully by the directors and some of the principals in the district. We have been blatantly lied to over and over again and had our children threatened. The district administrators and principals play with fire when they attack people's children and make them uncomfortable in their schools. I've seen it happen to other kids in the district and also mine. I think we need a massive central administration overhaul. This is the only safe place to say that until my child is out of the district for good.


Dave said...

Amen Cynic.

And THEN they vilify staff who seek to expose them in the most vile ways I have ever observed in my life.

Trust me, 40 years here.

Even trolling on here under assumed identities.

Brian Duncan said...

Like Bess Kalb incisively declared yesterday of Republican Senators and Reps who have taken many millions in funding from the NRA, God have mercy upon their NRA kept souls. May Sen Ted Cruz's prediction prove correct:"Let me tell you right now: The left is going to show up," (Sen Ted ) Cruz (R-TX) said during his keynote address at the party's Lincoln Reagan Dinner. "They will crawl over broken glass in November to vote." So may it be. Let's make it so, all of us that can vote. No dithering.God may have mercy; let the voters show none to these enablers of this, and other avoidable atrocities.

Melissa Westbrook said...

High five, there, Brian.

Enough is enough.

Anonymous said...

Why did the Congress not do anything on gun control from 2009-2011 when Democrats had a 60-vote majority in the Senate, a large majority in the House and the President?

The answer is that specific regulations would do very little in the United States and any draconian regulations would leave millions of guns in the hands of dangerous criminals.



Anonymous said...

Ah yes we can't do anything because its not perfect. As a thought experiment, outlawing the AR-15 would probably have made it impossible for this specific gunman to buy one. He probably still could have gotten his hands on a weapon of some sort but the fatality rate would have been much lower. If we made it impossible/really hard for 19 year old to get a gun at all maybe it would have just been a knife.

I call that a win.


Eric B said...

Momof2, that willfully ignores facts. Just for a basic example, Australia had a Sandy Hook-level school shooting a few decades ago. They changed their gun laws significantly, including rounding up guns out in the population. Guess what? They haven't had anything on that scale since. Same story in Britain.

It is 100% true that you can still buy an AR-15 in Australia if you really want to. The difference is that it costs $50K instead of $1K and you have to find a black market dealer who will even talk with you, let alone sell to you rather than buying it at your local Wal-Mart. That's a huge difference in barriers to entry for that kind of weapon.

As the Onion keeps saying, "'No way to prevent this,' says the only nation where this happens regularly."

Your approach seems to be like if everyone told Salk that nobody had ever eradicated a disease before, so there's no point in trying with polio. After all, there will be germs out there no matter what you do.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Lol, the dailywire, seriously?. Extreme right wing rag peddling fake news. How about this;



Or including the UK;


Why is it the only country in the world that has extreme school shootings is the only country in the world that says 'it cannot be fixed'?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mom of 2, you said this:

The answer is that specific regulations would do very little in the United States and any draconian regulations would leave millions of guns in the hands of dangerous criminals."

You can have your guns. You are just going to be held - financially - responsible for them. There's nothing to fear because it's what we do with cars which can be killing machines (though that's not their purpose as is guns).

We're done with this and now things are going to change. Get ready for it.

P.S. Can't control all those guns but how about a tax on bullets?

PRE k said...

The city of Seattle runs a very expensive prek program. The cost - according to KUOW- is $81M for 1600 students. Here are the results:

"The big insight here is that The Seattle Preschool Program’s ECERS-3 and CLASS assessments are ON PAR with peer programs — including the low ratings for personal care routines, learning activities and instructional support. That speaks more to the challenges of implementing those aspects of preschool programs than of particular successes or failures in Seattle; all preschools struggle with the same issues. On the flip side, Seattle’s program strengths don’t particularly distinguish it from its peers either, although it seems to be off to a stronger start for interaction and program structure. The Seattle Preschool Program is SQUARELY IN THE MIDDLE of the pack."


Melissa Westbrook said...

Pre-k, it’s a pretty expensive program based on a lot of promises they can’t deliver.

They desperately need the Board to approve more classrooms especially before the next levy. Might be some leverage there.

Anonymous said...

Uber - totally agree. Thank you Melissa for being a powerful, informed advocate for kids and families!

Just Chiming In

Anonymous said...

I'm incredulous and disgusted that Jo Lute-Ervin is still employed by SPS, to say nothing of being named the interim principal of Lowell. This is another complete disgrace for SPS. The articles below reference just a few of the negligent, dangerous and inappropriate situations that arose during her tenure as principal at Lafayette in 2012. Unless you were there, you don't know the half of it.



http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2012/05/lafayette-story.html (read all the comments)

-Seattle Parent

Elsa said...

If she had to clean up after Virginia Turner, Jo should get an award.