Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

You'll want to put this one on your calendar; Director DeWolf, after four months in office, is finally having a community meeting that is a one-hour event during Spring Break.  It's Monday, from 5-6 pm, at The Riveter (a work space), 1517 12th Ave Suite 101. That's an unusual amount of time and an unusual date for a director community meeting but I'm thinking he's not going to be a usual director.

Of course, perhaps it helps to send him a request to meet if you are a group.  He did mention at the last Board meeting that he met with Parents for a Better Downtown.

Apparently there was a notice originating out of the United Kingdom about today being "Punish a Muslim Day."  I am not going to provide the text but apparently, based on this getting widespread notice on social media, the district sent this out to families:

Dear families,

In recent weeks, a social media post from the United Kingdom began promoting April 3 as “Harm a Muslim” Day. Social media can spread messages quickly, and some of SPS students are talking about this. While this activity seems to be focused in Europe, in an abundance of caution, there will be increased security at schools. 

If you hear of something, please contact the district Safety & Security office at 206-252-0510 or call 9-1-1 if it is an emergency. As a school system, we will do everything we can to make sure our students are safe while in our care. Anyone who feels unsafe or targeted for any reason should immediately contact a trusted adult. 

Harassment of any kind is not, and will not, be tolerated in Seattle Public Schools.

Thank you.

I'll just state in advance, this blog categorically rejects any kind of talk about harming any student.  This blog is not interested in any comments that would support this kind of action so don't bother (even if that is how you feel).  

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I have a question about reading support for children and rezoning schools.

My child has been placed in a'small group reading' assignment outside of her regular class. (This was recommended by her teacher.) My child has benefitted tremendously from working with the Reading Support Specialist (as has our family with phonics, decoding syllables, reading worksheets, and flashcards, etc) In fall 2018, my family may be rezoned from Coe Elementary to Magnolia Elementary. Is the School District required to provide the same support to my child if we are rezoned? As I understand it, the Reading Support Specialist at Coe Elementary is a PTA-funded position, so Magnolia Elementary is not likely to have Reading or Math Support Specialists at opening. Is it legal that the District/Planning Enrollment could remove my child (thereby providing less academic support and less educational resources to my child) and send her to a new school without the same services? Is there any SPS mandate to provide like services when rezoning children? My child has clearly benefitted per teacher feedback/her report card/our opinion. My child does not have an Individual Learning Plan. (She may not need a higher level of intervention.) Is there any way to get a waiver for my child if rezoned? If so, where do I start?

Thank you for your help and any answers.

QueenAnne Mom,AlsoAGardener

Watching said...

Has anyone seen costs related to the district's new science alignment. This is a big project. I'm not confident that we're going to see more funding from Olympia.

As an aside, I'm glad to see that board members read the blog!

Anonymous said...

I can't speak to your particular issue of specialist support, @QA Mom, but more generally, about reading, I'd suggest you work with your child explicitly on phonics, and continue to read aloud to your child (both chapter books and picture books). In our experience, SPS has embraced whole language and sight words, with little phonics instruction. Our child was lucky to have an older K teacher who created a phonics alphabet book for them - "A" - ah - apple, "B" - buh - ball - that they recited on an almost daily basis. SPS recently adopted new LA materials for K-5, so perhaps there has been a change (our children are older), but we found learning to read was not something we could leave 100% to school. We also dealt with the shortcomings of Everyday Math (which has thankfully been replaced) with lots of home supplementation, but that is a topic for another day.

good luck

Anonymous said...

Is it legal that the District/Planning Enrollment could remove my child (thereby providing less academic support and less educational resources to my child) and send her to a new school without the same services?

Yes, completely legal. SPS controls the enrollment policy and there 'grandfathering' for elementary, middle or high school kids has varied. If you are not grandfathered, the only way around it is either to move, or, to have applied during open enrollment for a seat at your preferred school.

Is there any SPS mandate to provide like services when rezoning children?
No, not at all: the *services* you are referring to are not legally mandated ones such as IEP or ELL, which certainly are required, but 'enrichment' "services" which vary per site and are largely driven by both the BLT (Building Leadership Team) and/or the PTA at the behest of the principal. For example, you will find A LOT of differences in instrumental music offered in elementary schools - which is a horrible inequity - and yet, this inequity is virtually never mentioned on this lbog let alone screamed about the way ability based grouping is. Do the research: instrumental music is an extraordinary learning tool for all learners for so many reasons (better math score, growth of executive function, gross and fine motor neurodevelopment, etc), yet schools without resources can't blanket offer it to their 4th and 5th graders.

School communities vary greatly in what is provided, although curriculum (what they are suppose to teach) and textual materials (how they are suppose to teach it) are (in theory) absolutely uniform through out the district.

A while ago, the district staff told the school board that certain things fell into a 'local site based management' bucket, and so attendance area schools could do different things, and, the inconsistency of what was available across the district and therefore the inequity of access was somehow excused. This is different from the 'schools of creative approach' policy that seems to have been largely swept under the radar. So, for example, Greenlake has multiage classrooms, that is called in the SPS parlance a "curricular approach", and so "is not regulated" by the district. If you live there an like it, great! If you live there and hate it, too bad (try for an option school enrollment slot instead)! If you don't live there but desperately believe in it, also, too bad! Montessori is another one of those 'curricular approaches', which really means it gets to be a niche product that if you have the right address, you get access. Similarly, language immersion elementaries when they were address-based attendance schools, fell into this bucket. Now, McDonald has switched into option, so that in theory, at least, everyone can apply to get access, although those in the geozone and those with siblings are going to be the ones to get access.

Bottom line, of course the schools vary greatly, and that is not necessarily a good thing OR a bad thing, it is just a thing. When it is done intelligently, with a backbone of the consistency of the "what" curriculum and the "how" textual materials, it can make sense to be responsive to the local neighborhood needs, priorities, and flavor. But, in this district, it is really the bastion of inequity, and yet, the heat and noise seems always to focus on HCC, which like ELL and IEPs, are an entrenched legal entitlement that is geared to a minority of learners in the system.


Anonymous said...

@Good Luck, Thank you for your input. Frankly, my child's 'small group reading' has been a learning experience for the whole family. (I don't remember learning phonics in elementary school.)

Agreed about the importance of reading out loud, especially both chapter books and picture books. We read every day. We are continually looking for interesting stories that are decodable. The Reading Support Specialist has been invaluable. I can't imagine going to a school without one.

QueenAnne Mom,AlsoAGardener

Anonymous said...

Wow, time flies. Is Magnolia Elementary really opening this fall? Is it time they announce a Principal and get staffing going? Maybe parents who know they are going to be at that school should start to organize. Totally agree with good luck. You are really the one that needs to be sure your kid is learning, and go outside the school system for what they are not getting. Sad, but true.


Anonymous said...

@patchwork, thank you for your insight.

I do not view reading or math support as enrichment service, but more of a basic, practical matter of education, but thank you for explaining how SPS sees the situation.

QueenAnne Mom,AlsoAGardener

Anonymous said...

Don't understand how this is politicizing our children. There are Muslim children in SPS who may be very worried about this.


Anonymous said...

@asdf, It is a good thing that I enjoy reading and doing homework with my child. It is all part of being a parent.

Magnolia Elementary is slated to open fall 2019, but SPS is drawing boundaries for the new school soon and the School Board will be voting on boundary changes in fall 2018.

QueenAnne Mom,AlsoAGardener

Anonymous said...

OMG, why is SPS being a mouthpiece for gossip. There are literally thousands of threats against all sorts of categories of people made daily on the internet. Is SPS going to send out an email for those? There is no credible threat in Seattle according to the Seattle Police dept.

SPS needs to stop with the virtue signaling.

SPS need to focus on learning and not advancing the liberal agenda.


Anonymous said...

There is a real threat out there to students at Viewlands. According to the King County Sheriff dept there is a level I sex offender living in Carkeek Park.

He could be in the woods just beyond the fence or anywhere else in the park.

9A.36.021 2(b) - Assault in the second degree with a finding of sexual motivation
View this statuteSexual Motivation.

9.68A.090 - Communication with minor for immoral purposes
View this statute



Anonymous said...

I am seeing an increase in parents struggling to find outside counselors for their students dealing with significant anxiety, and what seems like an uptic in students “diagnosed” with ADD, ADHD, and a Executive Function Disorder. Could there be a societal problem and not a kid problem? This seems worth it’s own dialogue string. I find it concerning that so many young students are being label with disorders and nobody talks about it. Is this a boondoggle to get federal funding via IEP’s? Is this real? Has anyone tracked a correlation to Common Core and high stakes testing? Is this coming from teachers? Parents? Doctors? Drug industry?

Attention Please

Melissa Westbrook said...

A "boondoggle" to serve students with medically verified issues? No, I don't think so.

I agree that there seems to be a lot of stress out there - across the spectrum of children - and maybe testing is part of it.

Anonymous said...

Is the phrase "virtual signaling" the new "political correctness"?
Yes, there are actually people in the world who want to be less ignorant/more concerned about others that aren't like them.
You should give it a try and see what it feels like to be on the right side of history.

- truther

Anonymous said...

QueenAnne Mom,AlsoAGardener

If you end up being zoned into Magnolia, I suggest working to form a parent group and with the new principal to understand how to build those supports at the new school. When QAE opened, the other schools all donated some start up funds to help with this type of thing.

QA Parent

Anonymous said...

Wow "right side of history" Would that be past or future? How cliche.
The SPS email is not appropriate and is kin to yelling FIRE in a crowded movie theater when you know there is no fire.

This has to be one of the dumbest emails SPS has ever sent out and there have been some doozies over the years.

I agree with CP that a sex offender next to the school seems note worthy, but SPS thinks some false threat in the UK merit an email.

I guess we get what we pay for!


Melissa Westbrook said...

I believe the Muslim threat originated in the U.K. but was recently passed around in the U.S. via social media. That social media is the way issues seem to expand or even blow up, I think the district did the right thing.

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

Who would guess that a comment section on a internet posting about Islam would turn contentious?

Move along

Anonymous said...

@Attention Please,

I can't tell if your comment is an effort to delegitimize these issues, or a request for honest conversation. I'm going to assume the latter, at the risk of regretting it later.

Many--probably most--students diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and executive function issues don't get IEPs, so don't bring extra funding for their schools, so I don't see it's likely to be a boondoggle. For the most part, these conditions just result in extra stress and frustration for the students, their parents, and their teachers. They also often mean extra costs for the parents, trying to get the appropriate help/support for these kids.

I agree that it may be partly a problem of "labeling", in that we are are expecting kids to all fit in a particular box and learn in a particular way, and if they learn differently, or have areas of particular weaknesses (often in addition to other areas of particular strength), we diagnose a learning disorder or similar condition. Our brains don't all work the same way. I'm torn, however, on whether it's a good or bad thing to diagnose/label. On one hand, we should recognize and be equipped to appropriately serve all different types of learners. But on the other hand, the fact is that we don't, and so kids who are different face a lot of xtra challenges, and the label/diagnosis can sometimes help with getting the recognition, understanding, and/or services they need. So we either learn to deal with all types in schools (and workplaces) and then the labels aren't needed any more, or we stick with the status quo--in which case they are. Whether that's a "societal problem" and not a "kid problem", I can't say.

I don't think it's a big secret, though, that many kids have these issues, and I feel like people ARE talking about it. The stigma is way down. As the parent of a student with some of these issues, I assure you they are "real"--they show up in life, in school, and in in-depth neuropsychological testing. Many parents will say the same, as will many professionals. That's not to say there are never incorrect diagnoses, and I suspect many pediatricians are willing to diagnose ADHD and prescribe meds on the basis of pretty thin evidence/investigation. However, the doesn't discount the legitimacy of the issues that many really do face.

As for whether or not it's tied to Common Core and high stakes testing, I sincerely doubt it. Getting anxious about a test is not uncommon for any student, and that type of anxiety is perfectly normal. For students with anxiety disorders, however, Common Core and high stakes testing are the least of their concerns. Their concern is with all the little things that produce anxiety all day long--things you wouldn't even think to ask about.

all types

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

@QA Parent, Thank you for the suggestion. Hopefully, my family will happily stay at Coe Elementary. I agree that I might have to build momentum for reading/math specialists at Magnolia Elementary.

I have heard from very, very reliable sources that it is a waste of time to think any area school is going to donate funds to another school. It is all, well-meaning talk. I glad it happened at QAE at the time, but now, unfortunately, times have changed.

QueenAnne Mom,AlsoAGardener

Anonymous said...

What? This happens all the time, and happened this year when new schools started, in addition to many schools creating line items for school to school partnerships. I think your reliable source is not very reliable!


Anonymous said...

QueenAnne Mom,AlsoAGardener,

Make a written referral for your daughter to be assessed for 504 or Special Education services while she is still at Coe. Identify that she was struggling in reading and was referred to receive special instruction in a small group and/or one on one setting. If it is in either an IEP or a 504 plan that she continue to receive the services, then they have to be provided regardless of where she is assigned.


Anonymous said...

Washington MS shared funds with newly-reopened Meany MS this year. After all, nearly half of the previous WMS families were rezoned to Meany, so it's their piggybank money too. Sharing is common after a rezoning.


Olympia Update said...

The Joint Select Committee Article iX Litigation met in Olympia, today.

In 2009-2011, education spending consumed 41.9% of Washington's budget. In 2021, education will consume 53% of Washington's budget. The committee indicated that work is ongoing.

A senator spoke about teacher strikes across the country. With education consuming 53% of the budget, committee members did not appear sympathetic to teacher strikes in Washington state. According to a committee member, funding for teacher salaries will increase from $13B (2009-2011) to $26B (2021).

Anonymous said...

BTDT, have you seen special services worked into 504 plans? I've seen basic accommodations, but not anything "extra." It seems like you'd need an IEP for that, no?


Anonymous said...

Yes. Specialized instruction is covered by an IEP rather than a 504 Plan.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

That’s another SPS myth. Services can be provided under 504 as well. Check out pages 10 and 11 of this:



Anonymous said...

Also page 4 of the SPS 504 Manual:


SPS also links the above Department of Education guidance on it’s 504 webpage.


Anonymous said...

Executive function improves as a child’s cerebral cortex matures. But the development that takes place in most children around the ages of 7-9 does not begin to kick in for children with IQs over 121 until about age 13. They’re developing normally for them, but their normal can be really behind age peers.

Cortical Tardiness

Anonymous said...

@BTDT, Thank you, thank you for the detailed response to my post and the potential way to handle the situation through SPS. I appreciate the direct links to the SPS information. This is the terminology and reference material I need to review.

I really appreciate the help from everyone that responded.

QueenAnne Mom,AlsoAGardener

Happy trails said...

Juneau is the pick!

Another Name said...

The city does not want to fund a family support at Hawthorne Elementary school next year.

The city is only a partner with the district when they want land at the Seattle Center and space for prek.

The city is not a partner with the district when they provide Green Dot with illegal variances and take away funding for family support workers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another Name, we'll be having a thread about Hawthorne soon. I do agree; the Board and our new superintendent should be extraordinarily cautious in working with the Mayor and the Council. Smiling faces and all.