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.

As well, I offer this thought.  I am on the Washington State School Directors newsfeed (it's a great resource for stories locally, around the state and across the nation).  I have seen an uptick of stories about reports of students making threats and some schools closing down.  This does not help teaching and learning.  Mercer Island SD closed down one day early before the holiday break last December because of just such a threat.

Please tell your children, especially in middle and high school, to not make idle conversation about hurting their school and its community .  Ask them to listen to their friends and if the friend says, "I wish I could XYZ this school" versus "I'm going to XYZ this school," have them tell a teacher.  We are now getting to a place where it's like joking about bombs at the airport; we just don't do it.

It is hard for kids; that kind of talking is a way to blow off steam but it could also cause much trouble, both for the school and the students.

On the Washington State charter school lawsuit, I am being told this:  the Supreme Court has tentatively scheduled oral arguments in the charter school appeal for May 17, 2018.

A really good opinion piece from The Olympian written by superintendents in Thurston County about how the new funding for schools is going to play out.  Not good.   To boot, I'm reading that there is a bill that would take ed funding dollars to lower car tabs.
The new school funding bill (EHB2242) was developed behind closed doors by a small group of legislators and staffers with no public hearings. This approach resulted in a poorly conceived set of changes which impact the state’s 295 school districts very differently with some big winners and many losers. The 1.1 million students in our state deserve a state funding model that not only provides ample funding but also does so in a way that is fair and equitable to all.

Read more here:
There are no director community meetings scheduled for this weekend.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Rant: It's totally unprofessional to misspell safety in the title of said district message which is kind of symptomatic of the general quality of communication and engagement

Anonymous said…
Distracted, I agree. I realize spelling isn't everything, but for the subject line of such an important communication from the SCHOOL DISTRICT to be misspelled speaks volumes.

Anonymous said…
Does anyone have information to share about experience with kids attending university in Canada? Specifically, I'm interested in advice/guidance/insights about SPS graduates going to school at UBC in Vancouver. Did/do they like the school? Were they prepared for the rigor? What's the culture like? Are there issues that have come up that they didn't expect? Pitfalls to avoid? Experiences to seek out? Overall- recommend going or stay in US? (Science/environmental science major).

A few years ago, someone posted a comment here with a link to a site or document related to this, but I haven't been able to find it. Thanks for your help!

-Seattle parent
Anonymous said…
The student who made school shooting comments at Garfield was arrested for investigation of harassment and did not have an actual gun (picture was fake). There were no other red flags apparently, this is not a student described as a loner with violent tendencies - just otherwise a normal kid who did a colossally stupid thing. (We don't know the student but others in our carpool do.) I feel for everyone involved, and realistically it could be any of us. Nevertheless, Garfield has implemented much stricter entry/exit procedures which are a pain in the arse but will please many, and I would expect those same policies at all schools if the District/Principals want to appear serious about addressing the threat. Garfield is only the most recent Seattle high school to have had a gun/shooting scare, others have had theirs already.

Anonymous said…
Seattle parent,

UBC hosted a Presidents' Day event for American/International students which we attended. I encourage you to contact them early to obtain the brochure which contains a table of prerequisites for applying to each of their Faculties (colleges of study). For example, a family at our table had a junior IB student doing Biology who discovered that Chemistry is a prerequisite for the Faculty they planned to apply for, causing a small panic since an IB student can't just switch or pick up needed courses mid-IB. The solution arrived at was for that student to take Chemistry at a junior college this summer before applying.

UBC is going to have a similar feel to the UW. The UW ranks higher but UBC (also McGill, Queens, U of Toronto) are very well-regarded worldwide. Note that it is exceedingly difficult (read, currently impossible) for American students to attend medical school in Canada, should that be a consideration, but an undergraduate degree from any of those universities will be favorable for admission to med schools elsewhere.

Getting into UBC is all about academic prerequisites and numbers - GPA and, for American students, the SAT and/or ACT. No letters of recommendation accepted, no need to start a charity in high school or make an Olympic sports team.

It is a very big school (60K+) which is is not at all the kind of university my current freshman leans toward. But, in my opinion it is easier to craft a small community/school niche within a larger school than it is to make a tiny school seem larger, should one begin feel trapped. My child favors tiny colleges in remote locations around the globe, which we are fine with but it's even more important with a small school to find a good fit.


Benjamin Leis said…
@FNH - this is another example of how site based management and decentralization don't work that well. Safety matters should be coordinated most likely consistent district-wide.

Anonymous said…
Garfield in the news, again, with story of counselor and his fraudulent business dealings.

Stuart J said…
UBC: another district recently had an info night about colleges. Presenters from UBC, U Victoria and Simon Fraser said:
--UBC is more holistic for admissions, other schools are mainly grades and tests
--one year housing guaranteed at UBC and I think at SFU, after that, it is a lottery. Housing in Vancouver is very expensive, so plan accordingly
--Many if not all students do one or more co-op semesters, where they work for six months. Co ops could be in the US or elsewhere besides Vancouver. If in Vancouver, no housing on campus is available. Students may do 2 to 4 alternating co ops/ study semesters after their first two full years of studies, so student might not graduate for at least six years after entry
Anonymous said…
egads, as a new Garfield parent I'm still not sure what to think re the counselor story. On face I don't like it, but the state has dropped its investigation for lack of evidence. One *could* argue that prior business dealings are separate and irrelevant to academic counseling, but the moment those two intersect - i.e. student families investing one single dollar - that counselor should be fired. If true, as some families claim, it's hard to believe that state investigators would find not one shred of evidence to support those claims in "thousands of pages of documents", isn't it? And even in the absence of any evidence, it's hard to believe Howard, or anyone in District, would put their necks on the line for such a controversial figure without significant local support. He is not our counselor so I know nothing other than what I've read in the media. Our own counselor has been terrific and, as far as I know, above reproach.

Anonymous said…
There's an interesting article in the Times about state colleges facing a proposal to cap the reimbursement rate for Running Start students. Colleges receive less funding for a Running Start student than for a regular student. As the percentage of Running Start students in their enrollment increases, they can't continue funding all of their services, and have to cut back course offerings to all students. If the state is going to rely on Running Start to provide a significant amount of high school education, doesn't it seem like funding for Running Start students should be included as part of its paramount duty to fund K-12 education?

Anonymous said…
Can someone confirm whether there is a pay and educational requirement inequity between the I.A.s working in SPP plus (inclusion programs) and developmental preschool? Also, is it true that there is an income requirement as well as an age requirement-- does this apply to preschool students with disabilities (for whom the district required to ensure that they have access to a general education setting to the maximum extent possible, just like elementary-high school)? Who is overseeing these "inclusion" services and what are they doing to address/align SPP, SPP Plus, and self-contained/Developmental preschool? Special Education is a service, bot a place! LRE and FAPE is mandate, not a choice/option. I cannot seem to get a straight answer! I have made inquiries, and I have obtained answers/responses (some have been very helpful, others seem oblivious). In particular, and surprisingly, the Special Education Department has been particularly customer service oriented. However, they seem to have no/little control over this continuum of services. Who s responsible for determining this model? who is seeing to the inclusion of students with disabilities in SPP?

Completely stuck!
Anonymous said…
Not sure what you’re asking. There is no requirement other than a GED for being an IA in SPS. You do have to have about 2 years worth of post secondary credits. BUT those can be waived by taking a paper and pencil exam. No special requirements on education or disability required. SPS requires 2 years of paid child related work to apply for an IA position.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Where are parents and teachers on the proposals for major HS schedule revisions? All proposals place an undue burden on teachers by increasing their student load and reducing their prep time, while cutting back substantially on time per class per year. They are all variations of an 8 period schedule, with one class being a for credit advisory.

Anonymous said…
BTW people should understand that WEA is working behind the curtain against the state's funding of RS. They view RS at a threat to public school K-12 funding. Just another us against them politics as usual in washington state.

RS supporter
Anonymous said…
The program supervisor for Dual Credit Programs in Washington state is Kim Reykdal, the wife of Chris Reykdal, the supt. of public instruction. Doesn't it seem like that would cause conflicts of interest? Is that not nepotism? I find this questionable.

-Grouchy Parent
Anonymous said…
Grouchy Parent -- please, could you give explain and perhaps give examples of how the potential conflict of interest with the Reykdals manifests? It may seem obvious to you, but it is not something that is easily understood by those on the periphery.

Does Dual Credit mean the Running Start program? In what way is Kim be incentivized to lessen her program's enrollment numbers? What is her 'pay off' for doing so? How does that benefit her? Is it neutral to her, so given that, she wants to 'help her husband out' by driving maximum numbers of student in high school, so that those numbers are bigger and that budget is maximized for her spouse who heads up that? Isn't the end goal educated young people, and so their interests are 100% aligned?


Anonymous said…
RS Supporter -

Interesting comment - to learn more about WEA's lobbying and policy statements directly about Running Start, are there sources or links you can point to that illustrate their attempts to decrease the RS budget? Isn't RS rooted in legislation, so that high school students who meet the criteria are guaranteed Community College enrollment spots in the courses offered at a given campus?

It is not clear why WEA would do this: if high school students' needs are best met via RS because their high schools do not offer the needed courses, sabotaging their access is very anti-education...

Anonymous said…
There are several Hale students at UBC who are doing very well. My kid's good friend is there and loving it. I will note that this kid did not do Running Start but did take challenging courses at Hale.

Anonymous said…
Interesting Communication being distributed regarding preschool actions being reviewed by the School Board in partnership with SPS Early Learning and the City-- the board meeting is this Wednesday. Does anyone have information or perspective on this-- I am very confused!

Looks as though multiple schools are impacted-- at lease B.F. Day and Bailey Gatzert....

This is the communication that was shared with me. This seems to come from a parent and a grandparent.

Here is a draft letter (credit to BF Day grandmother for the text, minor revisions from me). Email to:

Dear Seattle School Board Members

I am writing as the care-giver of a Pre-K student at Bailey Gatzert school. The City of Seattle's PreK Program (SPP) has been a wonderful addition to Gatzert. I want you to hear from me and other families! Programs like this should be in every school and available for every child. They should be appropriately staffed and eventually the overall district policies should be adjusted to include preschool aged children (busing, before and after care, etc.) While that is a longer term issue, there are 3 things happening NOW which demands your attention and merit discussion at the upcoming board meeting.

The SPP is making proposed changes that I think are to the detriment of Gatzert, of potential Pre-K students and their families, and for children with special needs. Here are three things I ask you to discuss with the City.

1. To the Board - Get Key Stakeholders Involved: Changes are being made without consultation of Pre-K programs to identify what is or isn't working. Changes are being made, I believe, without clear and careful collaboration with the School District and most importantly with staff in the schools. These are School District schools and this SHOULD be on your radar screen. Pre-K is a path to overall school success. Let's include the Pre-K teachers and parents in the conversation.

2. Enrollment Changes - Don't Let those Most in Need get Left Out:Enrollment changes are under consideration that will work against the children most in need. The propose moving to first come, first serve which benefits the most organized/privileged. Siblings do not get priority, making logistics challenging for parents with other children in elementary school. Low-income families do not get priority, which again puts them at an additional disadvantage. People who live close to the school do not get priority. You have to enroll ONLINE which is hard for many families in need. Preschool's in Seattle need a paid position for someone to do community outreach (going to homes, enrollment fair, helping families enroll that don't have a computer). Pre-K is fabulous for all of us, but it is a proven benefit to kids from low-income or challenging circumstances.

3. Slow down proposed changes SPP Plus and get input from Pre-K classrooms, teachers and families. Beyond the changes in enrollment, the City wants to bring SPP Plus into more Pre-K classrooms. SPP Plus is a program that integrates general-ed students and 5 special education students with established IEP's. This is a beautiful inclusion model, but it requires additional support and training. The extra support provided by the program is a part time (.5) special ed specialist. Students with IEP's at 4 years old usually have much higher needs and require individually tailored supports. A .5 special education teacher does not meet the needs of these students.Gatzert's proposed budget for next year has us listed as an SPP Plus with a .5 specialist. This concerns us.

Name, etc.

Confused and need Clarity
Confused, thanks for this. I might be able to help and I'm going to try to testify on this issue.

"They should be appropriately staffed and eventually the overall district policies should be adjusted to include preschool aged children (busing, before and after care, etc.)"

Sure except the district is (under)funded by the state for K-12. Where is the money for all this? The City won't even pay rent on the classrooms they use for their programs in SPS schools.

I would have to go back and see what this person is saying will change. I didn't see much different in the contract.

As for the enrollment, again, I'd have to check. I thought siblings did get a bump. In testimony to the Board on SPP, I have not heard that there were issues with people who wanted in that could not get in because of enrollment issues.

"Preschool's in Seattle need a paid position for someone to do community outreach (going to homes, enrollment fair, helping families enroll that don't have a computer)."

Again, tell the City, not the Board. It's not their gig to straighten out. It's the City's. The district had been handling enrollment in their schools but not the rules.

On SPed, I'm not well-versed on pre-K Sped but again, I think that's on the State.

I hope this person is mobilizing to tell the City these concerns, not just the Board.

Anonymous said…
Uh no! There has been loads and loads of public comments. There was a task force for literally YEARs. Inclusion is not an option, it’s a mandate. 0.5 funding is the current special ed preschool/k rates, and it is currently what you get in the districts dreary developmental preschools. SPP is simply the same funding rate. So, no loss and lots of gain. The developmental preschools are too short, and way too disabled. The worst is the dump at OVA where 21 yo criminals are housed with preschoolers. SPP is THE way to go.

Sure enrollment and assignment sucks. Welcome to special ed, where students are shipped anywhere. It’s no different for preschool than any other grade. The crappier the school, the better for sped, according to the district. That doesn’t mean that the developmental preschools should persist. The district killed off the last crappy self contained k, let’s rally behind killing off the developmental preschools. Advocate for a student assignment plan for disabled students. That’s the real problem.


Inclusion Now
Anonymous said…
Inclusion for preschool students needs to be based on what the student needs.....not one size fits all. Students with significant needs may require time outside of the SPP class to learn and practice skills needed to be successful in the SPP classroom. Having a SPP class with sped support AND a developmental preschool classroom at the same site is what works best for the students.

Preschool Advocate
Anonymous said…
High school students are using online course registration this year. Does it follow that the district will have data on course offerings and enrollment at all high schools? If the district wanted to know how many students were taking course X or Y or Z, at each school and across the district, this could theoretically be tabulated, could it not? Looking forward to the data...

HS parent
"Having a SPP class with sped support AND a developmental preschool classroom at the same site is what works best for the students."

I hear you but where will all these classrooms come from?
Anonymous said…
I loved the two SPS developmental preschools our family interacted with recently. They are not dire from my first hand experience. I also don't really see how FAPE relates as there is no fully funded general ed equivalent for that age group. In my eyes we were given generous support not provided to non IEP kids that age.

Happy DevelopmentalPreKAlum
Anonymous said…
SPS does NOT need to provide 2 types of preschool. It can provide pullout and small group instruction as needed on an individualized basis, according to IEPs, for students in SPP. Students can also have a reduced day if they need it. There are already multipurpose resource rooms, usually several, in every elementary. If you don’t think these dev preschools are “dire” then your kid doesn’t have a significant disability. FAPE absolutely applies to preschool. And SPP provides a state funded general education standard. Therefore, students with disabilities need access to the same benefits, a full day preK, with typical peers, with an enriched age appropriate environment, in a neighborhood school (Eg not a dilapidated dump like OVA on the edge of town, the district’s most populous sped and preschool dumping ground.). And preschoolers with disabilities need specially designed instruction, including small group instruction. A 0.5 Special ed teacher IN ADDITION to the state funded regular ed teacher represents a HUGE improvement over the dev preschools, especially the most dumpy one, OVA.

For once, the district is moving in a good direction. They will be sued into it, if not.


Inclusion Now
Anonymous said…
#InclusionMatters, Inclusion Now-- You are clearly subjective and biased. OVA is one of the BEST and most amazing sites BECAUSE it is the ONLU comprehensive, continuum site within the district for preschool students with disabilities. It is clear that you have a bias and an agenda. OVA offers 4 sessions of Developmental Preschool, Social Group, SPP Plus, AND Extended Day. It is also where the Preschool Assessment Team, Screening Team, Assistive Tech, and Itinerant Preschool teachers reside/home base from. Please explain how/why moving these teachers and these team out of this building "benefits" a continuum of services approach. All other preschool students with disabilities within SPS are forced to "choose" a pathway and are subjected to a "lottery"/choice system-- all of which research shows, perpetuates privilege as well as segregation and disproportionality. Check your self. Better yet, stop, listen, reflect AND then make the call.

Sick of the inequity, privilege, judgment
Anonymous said…
In regards to inclusive preschool opportunities-- look to the EEU. Are the, by default do not align with the definition of a "enriched age appropriate environment, in a neighborhood school". In addition to this, the SE region is not disproportionally, over-represented and over-isolated/segregated in terms of preschool. We need to work smarter, not harder... MOST Developmental Preschools are co-located with SPP or CBOs or HeadStart. Why are we moving them all around?

Address Inequity and Inclusion
Readers, please note the blog rules for two-word names. Do not pick something longer or your comment will be deleted.
Anonymous said…
Hahahaha!!!! OVA is a continuum? Where is the regular preschool? Where are the typical peers? Where is the “close to home”? Where is the playground with age appropriate playground for preschoolers? Where is the lawn mower to care for the property???? Is there an SPP site there? No I don’t think so.

What is at OVA? Well, a bunch of preschoolers are there that the district doesn’t want to teach. A bunch of EBD students too dangerous to place at a regular school. The EBD students are usually engaged in fights and they languish there too, between fights. The EBD “transition” program students, too dangerous for any other adult program enjoy those fights. They love the entertainment are also housed at OVA. Watching fist fights is evidently part of their adult education. Is that really where you want your preschool aged kid? You don’t even care if there’s age appropriate grounds??? Or if there are daily fist fights from older adult students unable to attend a regular school???

You obviously aren’t a parent. Instead of “sick of the judgement “. we should demand a heck of a lot more judgement!!!! And how.

Right on Address. EEU is the model. SPP plus... NOT OVA. NOT developmental preschools. Move on.

Inclusion Now

Anonymous said…
And really??? We are supposed to believe that the fact that housing a bunch of special ed bureaucrats in offices in the same building as OVA is somehow a big win for preschoolers? Get real. The bureaucrats housed at OVA are the lowest ones on the totem pole. The least likely to succeed. And the easiest to be forgotten by the mother ship downtown. Those services are placed there, the least convenient spot in the district, and then shipped out. Instead of providing excellent services to students, these bureaucrats have maximum drive times. These are the “least important “ people in the district. You are right about one thing. Preschoolers shouldn’t have to be subjected to any lottery. But neither should they be dumped at a dump.


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