Saturday, March 31, 2018

Who Should Be Seattle Schools' Next Superintendent? Jeanice Swift

The Board is to vote, on Wednesday night, April 4th,  at the regular board meeting, on who to offer a contract to be superintendent.  Given that they worked all day yesterday (Friday, the 30th), I would assume some consensus was reached on that person.  I think the Board and their search firm, Ray&Associates, did find some excellent candidates. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday Open Thread

The Board will be spending all day considering who to make an offer to for the superintendent position (this was the reason the survey deadline was 9 pm last night).  I have a call in to ask when the Board will be making an announcement - they are scheduled to discuss a contract offer at the Board meeting next Wednesday, April 4th.  I don't know if that means an announcement on Monday or Tuesday.  I have a call in to ask.

Parents here's an an alert - there's a vaping device that looks like a USB drive.  From KIRO news:

Superintendent Finalists Speak

Last night's event at JSCEE to introduce the finalists for the superintendent post certainly seemed to illuminate the differences among them.  The finalists are Jeanice Swift, Andre Spencer and Denise Juneau.  Swift and Juneau were, to me, the best of the three.  I'll have a separate thread on my thoughts on who it should get the job and why but I'll devote this thread on what was said.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Yes, You CAN Contact the Board with Your Thoughts on Sup Candidates

There seems to be a push, a meme, something out in the ether that you only have until 9 pm tonight to give input on the three finalists for Seattle Schools superintendent.

That is false.  I know this because I asked President Leslie Harris yesterday, face to face.  She said, "schoolboard@seattleschools.org" or "spsdirectors@seattleschools.org."  (The former will be sent to all top leadership including the Board, the latter will just reach Board members.)  You can certainly write to the Board until their decision on April 4th. 

The input for the SURVEYS on each candidate ends tonight at 9 pm in order for staff to coordinate the information and get that to the directors.

Denise Juneau

Andre Spencer

Jeanice Swift

From the district on tonight's event:

Public Forum for all members of the community to meet the finalists for the next Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. It will be held from 5:00-8:15 p.m. at the John Stanford Center Auditorium. 

It will also be broadcast live on the District’s Channel 26. 

Also, there are community meetings on the levy next week; you will probably find directors there as well.

Please join us at a community meeting:
Director Harris is the only Board member having a community meeting but hers is at High Point Branch Library from 3-5 pm.  Go bend her ear on the candidates.  

Update: I got that wrong but good news - there are TWO director community meetings on Saturday, March 31st:

Director Betty Patu at Raconteur, 5041 Wilson Ave S from 9:30-11-00
Director Eden Mack at Magnolia Public Library, 2801 34th Ave W from 1:00-3:00 pm

(Director DeWolf failed to come thru with his promise of having a community meeting for his region during the month of March.  We are now going into month five of his term so cross your fingers.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

We remember a very brave public school student who died today - Linda Brown.  She is the "Brown" in Brown vs Board of Education.  From the New York Times:

Seattle Schools Superintendent Finalist: Dr. Andre Spencer

Dr. Spencer is currently working as the Superintendent for Colorado Springs Harrison District #2.  He has been in that position since 2013. Harrison District 2  is about 12,000 students in 26 schools that include a youth detention center and four charter schools. Previously he was area superintendent in Houston. In his early career, he was a (science) teacher and principal in Baltimore. He won a PTA Teacher of the Year award from the Baltimore City Council. He has a Master's in Biology, and received his PhD in Education from Capella University. He served in the U.S. Army for 4 years. He is African-American.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Seattle Schools Superintendent Finalist Denise Juneau

Denise Juneau is a Native American, enrolled in the Mandan Hidatsa tribe but also with Blackfeet tribe heritage.  She is turning 50 in April.  She is openly gay.  Her first job was working with her grandmother in a school lunch kitchen when she was 5.  She played high school basketball and her mother served in the Montana State Legislature.

She has a Master's from Harvard and a law degree from the University of Montana.  She served as a law clerk on the Montana Supreme Court.

Seattle Schools Superintendent Finalist - Dr. Jeanice Swift

Dr.  Jeanice Kerr Swift is 59, appears to be a white woman, now serving in her fifth year as  in Ann Arbor Public Schools.  Her husband, John, is a retired nurse; they have no children.

Here's the resume she used to apply to Ann Arbor.   I see an address and phone numbers but considering she left Colorado awhile ago, I'm sure they are no longer valid.  Her Master's is in Gifted and Talented education.

Seattle School Board Announces Superintendent Finalists

And so far, I'm pretty impressed.

They are (in no particular order):

- Jeanice Kerr Swift, superintendent of Ann Arbor SD in Michigan
- Andre Spencer, superintendent of Colorado Springs SD, in Colorado
- Denise Juneau, State Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2009 to 2017 in Montana

Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, March 29th
The biggest event today will be the Board Special Meeting Executive Session to pick the finalists for a new superintendent for Seattle Schools. There was no explanation why it went from an open meeting to a closed session.

I have asked when the announcement will be made; I suspect it will come immediately after the meeting which is scheduled from 5:00-5:30 pm.  At that time, I'll put up a thread but I'll hold off on comments until I have fully vetted the candidates.

What to look for?  Not the usual suspects (hopefully).  No one with past baggage.  And now, we need to ask about SUPES, Modern Teacher and the Education Research Development Institute (ERDI).

From a recent article in the Chicago Reporter:

There are problems that can arise when school leaders consult on the side for for-profit educational companies.  

There is a growing issue in Kent School District around this issue and it's something we don't need in Seattle Schools.  And a former Baltimore superintendent, Dallas Dance, was indicted for failing to disclose just such compensation.  He was placed there in 2012 by Ray & Associates.

Equity and Race Advisory Committee Meeting from 7-9 pm at JSCEE.

Tuesday, March 27th
Work Session on the 2018-2019 Budget from 4:30-6:30.  There will be an Executive Committee meeting immediately after the Work Session.

I look forward to seeing a line item for the upkeep of the memorial at Memorial Stadium.

Wednesday, March 28th
Work Session on BEX V from 4:30-7:30 pm

Thursday, March 29th
Public Forum for finalists for Superintendent from 5-8:15 pm.  JSCEE
Also broadcast tv on Channel 26th

5 to 5:30 p.m.  Unstructured time for attendees, board members to talk. The public can submit written suggested questions during this time. These moderator will organize questions by theme and narrow the number able to be asked within the time period.

         5:30 to 6:15 p.m. The first candidate will provide a 5-10 minute introduction and then answer the questions collected from the audience and presented by the moderator.

         6:30 to 7:15 p.m. This process will repeat for the second candidate.

         7:30 to 8:15 p.m. This process will repeat for the third candidate.

Friday, March 30th
The Board will be meeting all day in executive session to consider the finalists for superintendent.

King County School-to-Work Transition Resource Fair at The Commons at Microsoft, 15255 NE 40th St in Redmond from 9 am to 3 pm.  (I'll see if there is transportation provided for this.)

Saturday, March 31st
Director Patu Community Meeting at Raconteur from 9:30-11 am

Director Mack Community Meeting at Magnolia Public Library from 1-3 pm.

Still not a single community meeting with Director DeWolf despite his promise at last week's Board meeting.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday Open Thread

This is one of many reasons why I am marching tomorrow for March for Our Lives.  No mother or child should have to have this discussion. Starts at 10 am at Cal Anderson Park.

Director Community Meetings
Burke (please note that the time was improperly noted on the district website and Director Burke updated it at the Board meeting): 3:30-5:30 pm at Greenwood branch library.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday Open Thread

My apologies for the tardiness of this thread; my internet service has been spotty.

Update from the School Board meeting tonight; President Harris announced that there will be several "silent" observers at the superintendent semi-finalists' interviews tomorrow and Friday.  She did not indicate which groups will send a rep nor how the Board will take in their feedback.

A story from KING 5 news on students organizing this Saturday's big March for Our Lives for common-sense gun control.  Details at the Facebook page for this event.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Memorial Stadium: What Part of "Memorial" Does the District Not Get?

A story in the Times caught my eye about a young man earning his Eagle Scout recognition, Peter Gockowski, who wanted to clean up the wall of honor at Memorial Stadium.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Seattle Schools This Week

 Update:  there are some interesting items on Wednesday's Board agenda.  For example:

A Real School Leader and Thinker

Super important article to read - this is HOW we can help students who struggle AND have behavior issues.  More of this, less collecting data. 

A Deeper Look at the Whole School Approach to Behavior
(from NPR) about vice-principal Mike Essien, assistant principal at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School (MLK) in San Francisco.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Open Thread

There is a deeply moving interview on NPR with the family of a Parkland, Florida high school shooting victim.   The victim was Carmen Schentrup and her parents are Philip and April and their surviving children, Robert, aged 18, and Evelyn, aged 14 (who was in the same school as her sister).
"People constantly say to me, 'I can't imagine what you're going through,'" he says. "Well you should. You should try to comprehend your daughter — who you are so proud of, and who was just beginning to live her life – being riddled by bullets. Being told, when the medical examiner gives the body back to the funeral home, 'You can't see her. We have to spend days working on her body. And maybe, maybe you'll be able to see her then.'"

"Think about that," Philip urges. "And then come tell me why we can't do things to keep our kids safe."

"It's unimaginable, but I think we need to imagine it," April says. "I know we need to act. We need to do something more than pray and console each other."
I ask you to try to imagine the worst for your own child if only to key in on the gravity of the situation.  Of course, it is the most horrible and frightening thought you could have as a parent.  But we cannot accept this as a norm and we have to act.

Board Announces Opportunity to See Superintendent Finalists

Update 2: Here's the district's Superintendent Search 2018 page. 

The district wants parents and the public to submit questions in advance if people are unable to attend the Town Hall on March 29th (details below).
  • Questions may be submitted for consideration to boardoffice@seattleschools.org.
  • At the April 4 Regular Board Meeting, the Board anticipates voting to authorize contract negotiations with one finalist.
  • At the April 25 Regular Board Meeting, the Board anticipates voting on a negotiated contract.
end of update

Update 1:  from the district on the format for meeting the finalists for superintendent on March 29th.

The March 29 forum will be broadcast on Channel 26 for people who can’t attend in person. 

The schedule looks like this:

  • 5 to 5:30 p.m.  Unstructured time for attendees, board members to talk. The public can submit written suggested questions during this time. These moderator will organize questions by theme and narrow the number able to be asked within the time period.

         5:30 to 6:15 p.m. The first candidate will provide a 5-10 minute introduction and then answer the questions collected from the audience and presented by the moderator.

         6:30 to 7:15 p.m. This process will repeat for the second candidate.

         7:30 to 8:15 p.m. This process will repeat for the third candidate.

End of update

The Seattle School Board will be meeting in Executive Sessions on Tuesday Thursday, March 22nd and Wednesday Friday, March 23rd at South Seattle Community College to interview semi- finalists for superintendent and then consider their choices.  These sessions are not open to the public.  I don't know how many people they are interviewing.

Then, on Monday, March 26th, there will be a half-hour Executive Session (I assume) to name the finalists at JSCEE in the Board Conference office.  This meeting is open to the public.  This may be 2-3 candidates.

The one public forum with the finalists is on Thursday, March 29th.
Public Forum for all members of the community to meet the finalists for the next Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. It will be held on Thursday, March 29 from 5:00-8:15 p.m. at the John Stanford Center Auditorium. It will also be broadcast live on the District’s Channel 26.
Interpreters will be onsite for Amharic, Chinese, Spanish and Somali languages. Other languages including American Sign Language are available by advance request.
I have inquired as to the format of the forum.

I note that the lag between announcing the candidates on Monday the 26th and the forum on the 29th gives time to research each candidate.  That will be helpful.  I would caution to not dismiss anyone out of hand (unless they are formerly from Oakland or D.C. or anywhere a candidate left under a cloud.)

I do have faith that our district will find a great leader.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kent School District Doing a Slash and Burn for their Budget

Hard to believe but.... (from KOMO-tv):
Families are fuming over a plan to eliminate 127 teachers from the school district. The cuts are projected to save $18 million, but the fear is that it will be students who pay the price.
The teacher layoffs are set to take effect this summer. In addition, nine administrator positions will also be eliminated.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Just a Guess but Apparently Trump Will Stoop to Anything to Deflect

What's the latest deflection (I mean besides trying to get away from the Russian issue and Stormy Daniels via firing Rex Tillerson by tweet)?
After a gunman marauded through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month, conservative commentators — looking for a culprit — seized on an unlikely target: an Obama-era guidance document that sought to rein in the suspensions and expulsions of minority students.

And this week, President Trump made the connection, announcing that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will lead a school safety commission charged in part with examining the “repeal of the Obama administration’s ‘Rethink School Discipline’ policies.”

Great Letter from a Maryland Parent

The author,Morna McDermott, wrote a letter to Baltimore County Public Schools and published at her blog, Educationalchemy.  It's titled, "Letter for BCPS Parents: My Child is Not a Pipeline."  (Thanks to parent, Carolyn Leith, for the heads up.)

Like this mom, it's super important to be asking these questions NOW.

Why We Need to Fight for Gun Restrictions

Update from The Stranger:

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to support a student walkout over gun control scheduled for tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Guest editorial from The Stranger, Why I'm Walking Out With Students Tomorrow, by Dr. Kim Schrier. She's a pediatrician who is running against Dino Rossi in the 8th.

From the South Seattle Emerald, another parent, Brenda Williams, speaks up.
As a parent of two Seattle Public School kids, I’ve talked with other parents whose kids describe a deep desire to participate in the 17 minutes of action called for by national student leaders on 3/14/2018. The planned national action provides a platform for student/youth voices and is particularly important to many SPS youth.

While some schools will hold assemblies or conduct classroom discussions, how is SPS leadership supporting the students who will walk out?  Some kids describe the difficult choice they have to make, that of walking out or being punished (ranging from unexcused absences to being barred from playing in that evenings’ sporting events).
end of update
If you have older children, tell them to walk out of school tomorrow for 17 minutes.  Just 17 minutes.  (I'm assuming it's harder at elementaries unless parents organize something.)

Let us know what your school does.

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Tuesday Open Thread

Good news from the district about Sacajawea Elementary:
On Monday, March 5, the Sacajawea Elementary School community celebrated improved access to classroom technology for students.

With help from the Power Up technology grant, technology funding from the district and a private family foundation, Sacajawea will be one of the first Seattle public elementary schools to provide one-to-one computing for every 3rd, 4th and 5th grade student.
The district also had an update on Racial Equity teams and the program is now in 42 schools (out of 99).  No word on why other schools don't have them yet.
The good news includes:
  • Aki Kurose, Denny International and Asa Mercer middle schools are at the top in the state for gains made by students of color.
  • Olympic Hills Elementary, Rainier View Elementary and Cleveland High students of color scored significantly higher than the statewide average on the 2017 Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Five of these six schools have had Racial Equity Teams in place for at least two years.
Heads up for a great speaker at UW - Diane Ravitch, Saving Public Education in the Trump-DeVos Era.  I've heard Diane speak and she's great.  Free tickets.

What's on your mind?

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Curious Case Of the Push to Keep Superintendent Nyland

There's an op-ed at Crosscut from the president of SEA, Phyllis Campano, and the president of the principals' association, Paula Montgomery about the issue of the superintendent search.

Apparently there are still people that think the Board will suddenly collectively slap their foreheads and say, "I coulda have a V8."  (Older parents will get the reference but basically, it's "Hey, we're doing idiots.")

Is the process selected feel truncated and somewhat rushed? Yes.  However, here is my reply to the op-ed and I think I have some valid reasoning.

And I have to wonder about those who want to upend a process that is way down the line, with money spent on a search firm and candidates waiting to be interviewed.  What would that look like to district detractors for the Board to do that?  But maybe that's the point.  To undermine the Board.

Here's my reply to the op-ed:

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Network for Public Education: It's #PublicSchoolsWeek

From NPE:
Please send this email to your members of Congress letting them know you support public schools and you would like them to express their support this week as well. You can click and send here to generate that email.  

Friday, March 09, 2018

National PTA to Host Betsy DeVos at Convention

From Twitter:
This just in: to keynote at

National PTA remains committed to our longstanding tradition of working with all policymakers to implement our public policy priorities and advocate for the improvement of education, health and well-being of all children.
Here's their page on the convention which, oddly, doesn't play up this angle.  Most conventions put their keynote speaker, front and center.  

Here's what Jacki Ball, their Director of Government Affairs, said (on her own Twitter account):
Excited to hear directly from at . While we may not always agree, it is imperative we have open dialogue to ensure all students can reach their full potential, have safe and supportive schools and be successful.
Dialog with a woman who would not talk to student journalists at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School this week?  Who walked out on a press conference there? 

Here's what they said when DeVos became Secretary of Education:
“Today, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Education. Throughout the confirmation process, National PTA joined other education, civil rights, disabilities and community organizations in expressing strong concerns for Secretary DeVos’ lack of experience with public education; unfamiliarity with the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s public school students, families and educators; and support of programs that divert critical public school resources.  

Black Lives Matter Experiment in Hale Class

I'm hearing about a History class at Hale that had what would seem to be an uncomfortable exercise under the banner of Black Lives Matter.  I'm trying to gather info because, on the surface, this sounds like poor judgment.

If you are a Hale parent with a student in History, let me know if you've heard about this.


Pick Your Poison

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Thursday, March 08, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I hear that after all this rain, the weekend should be nice.  Cross your fingers.

I attended the Board meeting and I'll try to have some feedback on that.  But in terms of interacting with directors, I note that Director DeWolf - despite promising to have some community meetings in March - still has not had a single one.  He does seem to like to go to public events so maybe you can catch him there.  Director Geary noted that she seems to be busy on weekends but has her Tuesday morning coffee at Zoka behind U Village from 8:00 am-9:30 am.  She also said that you can call her to talk on the phone (but I don't know what number you would call). 

There are no director community meetings this weekend. That's probably because the Board is having an Executive session to review superintendent applications from noon to 4ish. THEN, they are having a Work Session on questions for those candidates that the public can attend.  But that will only be until 4:30 pm.  I'd like to attend but I'm not driving down to JSCEE to hang around for a half-hour session.  Weird. 

I note that there is a BEX Oversight Committee meeting tomorrow morning from 8:30-10:30 am at JSCEE.  One troubling item to me is that the district has apparently hired Bassetti Architects as consultants on BEX V and yet also gives Bassetti a lot of business.  I wonder how other businesses feel about this "in" that Bassetti has.

Interesting article from The Columbian on the question of whether a large school district can be divided up - in this case, Battle Ground SD.  The answer:

Whether smaller districts would better serve constituents is a subjective measure, one that, for now, will have to remain untested. A district cannot, under state law, divide and reorganize into multiple separate districts.

State law sets strict standards for the creation of new school districts. According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, new school districts can only be made of two or more whole school districts, parts of two or more districts, or territory that isn’t part of any district. So Battle Ground, for example, can’t be officially divided into its north and south schools as two new districts.

“The statute does not allow for the formation of a new district that is comprised solely of territory that currently lies within a single district,” said Dierk Meierbachtol, chief legal officer for OSPI.
Bellevue School district students are planning a walk-out next week on the 14th.   From the Bellevue Reporter:
The Facebook event “Enough: National School Walkout, Bellevue High School,” states the demonstration will last 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost in the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

Bellevue School District spokeswoman Eileen Harrity confirmed other high schools in the district are planning similar rallies for the same time and day.

The board passed a resolution Tuesday backing those students’ actions to gather peacefully and express their views as long as they complied with district policies.
On that note, advice from the ACLU for student protestors.

Betsy DeVos visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, site of the latest mass shooting.  It didn't go well.
She also told reporters she toured the school with student journalists, and vowed to return to sit down with them and further delve into the issues.

Carly Desomond, editor of the school newspaper, The Eagle Eye, however, said DeVos “refused to even meet/speak with students.”

When further pressed on the issue of arming school staff, with questions surrounding training standards and student opposition to such a program, DeVos walked away from her podium and ended the press conference.
Oh look, another shooting at a school, this time in Alabama.
One student was killed and another was in critical condition after an accidental shooting during dismissal time at a high school in Birmingham, Alabama, police said.

At least two gunshots were fired, killing a 17-year-old female student and injuring a 17-year-old male student at Huffman High School, said Birmingham police Chief Orlando Wilson. He said police considered the shooting accidental, but did not elaborate.
What's on your mind?

In Advance of the Seattle March for Our Lives

Posted from the Seattle Indivisible page -

Seattle March for Our Lives Voter Reg Update--need students

The student organizers of Seattle's 3/24 March For Our Lives are hoping to get enough high school student volunteers to have most of the voter registration at the march done by students.

But while hundreds of adults want to help with this, they could really use our help getting hooked up with high school teens in the area who specifically want to do voter registration.

You can help by circulating this volunteer sign-up form to every teen you know who you think might be interested. Please ask them to fill out this form by 3/12, and to specifically say on the form they are interested in helping with voter registration. 

Thanks, and stay tuned for other ways we can help these student organizers.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Mayor Durkan to Speak on Gun Violence

PTAs passing Gun Violence Prevention Resolutions Mayor Durcan sent this invite:

When: Thursday, March 8, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Who: Seattle area students, parents, educators, community advocates and organizations, and public health officials
Where: Chief Sealth International High School Auditorium, 2600 SW Thistle St, Seattle, WA 98126

Tuesday Open Thread

In a HUGE win for the voice of the people, Governor Jay Inslee did veto SB 6617 that would protect state legislators from having to fulfill public disclosure requests that other electeds have to.  It happened because of the volume of contact that the Governor's office received.  I'll also note that my own reps had two VERY different letters when I contacted them on this issue.  The first was a bit whiny about why it was a good bill but they needed to protect their process and the second was "I apologize; we were wrong."  

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Friday Open Thread

(Going up on Thursday; I have a very busy Friday.)

The district has an Emergency and Communications message up.  It's fairly vague; I urge you to talk to your principal or, better yet, ask your principal/PTA to have an evening to talk about concerns about your particular school.

From Washington's Paramount Duty

Dear Education Advocate,

There is still a lot of work to do in order to fully and amply fund our public schools, as you well know. Right now legislators are about to vote on a budget that will help get us toward that goal, and they need to hear from you before they vote!