Friday, July 13, 2018

Target Offering Teachers Special Deal

From Target - great for teachers, not sure what it solves for parents.

Friday Open Thread

We had an issue where a Facebook post was reprinted at this blog without attribution about the issue of disagreement at RESMS over use of the facilities by the Urban Native Education Alliance   Did the author post it?  I don't know.  If not, who did?  Don't just throw something up without explanation.  If the point was to show there is disagreement within the Native American community, I'm not sure that's news.  There's always disagreement among groups.  Please help readers understand your point.

Please read comment rules and follow them. 

I note that there were several speakers, including a rabbi, at last night's School Board meeting over the issue of the first day of kindergarten being on Rosh Hashanah.  This issue of cultural/religious understanding by school districts and school calendars is getting to be a bigger issue.  Problem is, how to balance sensitivity for these events with the realities of getting in the required number of school days for every student.   A story from Maryland:
Asian American parents and students are pushing to make Lunar New Year an official school holiday in Maryland’s Montgomery County Public School District, reported Bethesda Magazine.

According to the report, the push to close schools on Lunar New Year was prompted by a survey sent out by Montgomery Public School officials this past spring. The survey asked students, school staff, and parents about the holidays they observed.

Around 14 percent of the Montgomery County Public School population is Asian American, according to Bethesda Magazine. Yang told The Washington Post that, according to data from the Asian American Health Initiative, three-quarters of that population are foreign-born. She said that recognition of the holiday would help “build a bridge” for those people who feel tied to their cultural heritage.

Several students have been vocal about the importance of recognizing Lunar New Year. Some feel it is important because it teaches a diverse Montgomery County about other cultures. Others also say it is important because it allows students to observe a holiday that is significant to them.
Looking at SPS jobs, I see many openings for Sped teachers.  As well, it appears that the well-liked Executive Director Kelly Aramaki is leaving SPS.  That's too bad as he was a very good principal and ED.

OSPI seems to be putting off creating new rules around school discipline.  A bill became law in 2016 to replacemost suspensions and expulsions with alternatives and yet OSPI still hasn't approved new rules.  Here's an ACLU petition to sign.

The EMode Foundation is having math summer camps for grades 3-5 that have scholarships available.

The Seattle Youth Commission is taking applications. Deadline is July 16th.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Bill Gates, Part 1: How Much Will He Spend Before He Admits He Doesn't Have the Answers for Public Ed?

The latest about the Gates Foundation is the Rand Foundation report on the Foundation's efforts in teacher evaluation around using test scores.  What was the Gates Foundation doing?
The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching initiative, designed and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was a multiyear effort to dramatically improve student outcomes by increasing students' access to effective teaching. Participating sites adopted measures of teaching effectiveness (TE) that included both a teacher's contribution to growth in student achievement and his or her teaching practices assessed with a structured observation rubric.
Beginning in 2009–2010, three school districts — Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) in Florida; Memphis City Schools (MCS) in Tennessee (which merged with Shelby County Schools, or SCS, during the initiative); and Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) in Pennsylvania — and four charter management organizations (CMOs) — Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools, and Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) Schools — participated in the Intensive Partnerships initiative. RAND and the American Institutes for Research conducted a six-year evaluation of the initiative, documenting the policies and practices each site enacted and their effects on student outcomes. This is the final evaluation report.
The cost was about $575M of which the Foundation paid half.  Districts kicked in the rest.  And, this was during the Obama/Duncan era so they certainly were on-board with Race to the Top funds.  From the assessment by Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post:
From the start, critics had warned about using a standardized test designed for one purpose to evaluate something else — a practice frowned upon in the assessment world.
In a desperate attempt to evaluate all teachers on tested subjects — reading and math — some of the systems wound up evaluating teachers on subjects they didn’t teach or on students they didn’t have. Some major organizations publicly questioned them, including the American Statistical Association, the largest organization in the United States representing statisticians and related professionals. And so did the Board on Testing and Assessment of the National Research Council.
The key finding?

Sites implemented new measures of teaching effectiveness and modified personnel policies accordingly but did not achieve their goals for students.

Bill Gates, Part 2: Still Not Getting Great Outcomes for Public Education

Noted UW professor Wayne Au had a conversation with the Fair website about the Rand report on the Gates Foundation's efforts around teacher evaluation.  I believe this to be an important conversation for two reasons.

One, I'd have to bet - conservatively - that he's spent $1B on public education.  Gates is literally throwing money at public education and yet has never had a single real triumph in that arena.  You'd think that might give him pause to consider getting out of the beige echo chamber that is the Foundation headquarters and ask, "What else can we do?"  Or better yet, "Who should we ask  - who we haven't really talked to - about what else we might try?"

Two, if the mainstream media is not going to be honest about the Gates Foundation's efforts, then people like Au are crucial to keeping them honest.  Paying for education writing at newspapers and creating faux parent groups and blogs is not being honest. 

Last thing - I was quite surprised the other day to see that my 922 Twitter follower is Bill Gates.  (Or the account someone writes for him but still, good to know.)

From the Fair conversation (bold mine):

WA: And what often happens is philanthropists like the Gates Foundation say, “Hey, we have this project. Would you partner with us on this? And we’re investing this much money in doing this thing, but you need to come and give X amount of dollars to this project as well, and devote your resources.”

Unfortunately, what happens is that many of the districts end up finding that—this was the case with Common Core as well—that the money coming in for these new programs actually pales in comparison to what it took to implement the programs, or to cooperate with the research, and with these different kinds of programs.

JJ: Right, it seems as though it’s ultimately—and if you scratch, you can see it, and they sometimes even admit to it—I mean, it’s ultimately about privatization, isn’t it, this gospel of the private sector and market forces being the right response to everything?

WA: Oh, absolutely, and you get that from the Gates Foundation all the time. Gates is very clear. He’s trying to create, and he’s said this before, market conditions and market forces where everybody’s working to make money, but this will be in the best interest of kids and education; and that’s how he frames this whole entire agenda.

In a way, I really see this as a colonizing agenda, in a sense, because essentially what we have are predominantly white, super-wealthy elite philanthropies, like the Gates Foundation, putting these programs into mostly black and brown, working-class communities, right? And it creates this dynamic where you essentially have these rich missionaries saying, “We know what’s best for you and your kids, we’re going to do these things.” Meanwhile, it sort of treats these children, these black and brown children, as experiments, right? And so the power dynamics are really, really skewed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

 Update: from a reader, the reader board at Whitman Middle School welcomes a new principal.  But the district has made no announcement so it's unclear when/why this has happened.  Again, this principal movement is like watching a ping-pong match.

Not sure when the principals' association, PASS, has their contract renegotiated but when it is, parents should let the Board know that there has to be a better way on principal selection/assignment.

end of update

In the happiest of news,  the entire Thai boys soccer team and their coach have made it safely out the cave where they were stuck for two weeks.  Huzzah!

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Seattle Schools, Week of July 9-14, 2018

Monday, July 9th
First meeting of the Facilities Master Plan Taskforce from 2-5 pm at JSCEE.  Agenda.

Wednesday, July 11th
School Board meeting, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Saturday Open Thread

In an astonishing ruling, a federal judge said that "Access to literacy"is not a constitutional right.  The ruling, not so ironically, came from Betsy DeVos' home state, Michigan.  From the NY Times:

Friday, July 06, 2018

Got Any Unregistered Young People in Your House?

Via Twitter:

5 more days left to register online before the August Primary! July 9th is the deadline to register online and via mail before the Primary on August 7th. 

To register online please visit:

 For more information please visit:

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Waitlist Work Session/Native American Program Reduced at RESMS

 Here's the agenda which includes the BEX V Work Session on the Facilities Master Plan (which was something of an irritant as it was advertised as BEX V but was really about the FMP).  The Waitlist presentation starts on page 99.

I fear that this thread may disappoint some of you as the actual movement of the waitlists was not the focus of the Work Session on June 25th.

Of interest (in random order):

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

Wishing all our readers a safe and fun 4th of July. The U.S.A. may be in troubled times but it's worth remembering how it started and the fundamental goodness of most Americans.

Here's a great video (from Canada about diversity AND working together) - show your kids.  Our country used to embrace multiculturalism and immigrants.

Using Race for College Admissions

In the biggest education news of the week, Trump has decided that using race in college admissions will no longer be encouraged.  This rescinds measures put forth during President Obama's administration.  From the New York Times:

Sunday, July 01, 2018

A Call to Keep Balance on the Supreme Court

As most of you must be aware, the U.S Supreme Court last week handed down a number of controversial opinions.  As well, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he would be leaving on July 31st of this year.

Kennedy, the swing vote on the Court, has been a reliable voice for letting the Constitution guide his decisions.  Because of that, he has been the lead vote in many decisions that have made both sides either mad or glad.  But, he was a balance to the Court being a one-sided entity.

Our nation needs balance now, more than ever.  The decisions made with a one-sided Court will change the course of history for your children and grandchildren.

Welcome to New Superintendent, Denise Juneau

Superintendent Juneau is now onboard as Seattle Public Schools' new leader.  Here's a message from here via the district's webpage.

She has created what is being called her "Entry Plan." Partial excerpts: