Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

I'm a little pissy today as the district is a continually frustrating group.  My main issue is two-fold.

If I have trouble finding information at the district's website, I can only imagine the difficulty for people who don't know the district (or the less-than-clear manner in which to find links).

Second, the lack of timely information.

For example, I didn't know that Nate Van Duzer in the Board office got a replacement.  That would have been information that could have easily been put up on the Board's webpage but wasn't.  Here's info on his replacement:
Ellie Wilson-Jones
Director of Policy & Board Relations
Nor did the remaining person in the Board office, Michelle Ramirez, have an email contact.

Michele Ramirez
Board Office Administrator
I note that both are now available directly at the Board's webpage but that shouldn't be because I nagged them.  It should have just been a matter of procedure.

Here's the agenda and documentation for today's Curriculum&Instruction committee meeting; items of note are:

-Approval of Board Policy No. 3220, Student Expression in School-Sponsored Media.  This is based off a bill approved by the Legislature in their last session, SSB 5064.
Prior to the passage of SSB 5064, there were no state statutes requiring public schools to adopt policies related to student expression in school-sponsored media. The new state law  provides that student editors of school-sponsored media are responsible for determining the news, opinion, feature, and advertising content of the media; states that a student media adviser may teach professional standards of English and journalism to the student  journalists and may not be terminated, transferred, removed, or otherwise disciplined for complying with the student expression provisions; and establishes an appeal process for students who allege a violation of the student expression provisions. The law also  protects school officials and governing boards from civil or criminal liability resulting from school-sponsored media prepared, published, or broadcast by student journalists.
Annual Approval of Schools per WAC 180-16-220 (otherwise known as C-SIP, Continuous School Improvement Plan) - This starts on page 32.  It include the C-SIP manual which I have never seen before. My favorite line:

There is no requirement that the School Board approve each school’s C-SIP. Instead, the requirement is only that the School Board ensures that the plans are in existence. 

So yes, every school has one on the district's website.   The examples they give as "comprehensive" plans are on page 58. I urge you to go and read about your child's school and see if it matches what you have seen/heard on the ground.   For example:
Schools shall have individual school-based homework policies that are communicated to students and families and posted in a visible location. School policies should include the school’s policy on grading late work and on expectations for how much time families should expect a student to spend on homework.
What's fascinating is that on page 74 is section of how the C-SIP relate to the teachers' contract.

On page 80, there's a report from Dr. Caleb Perkins, Director of College and Career Readiness with an Update on 24 Credits and Secondary Re-visioning.

On page 84, there's a report from Kyle Kinoshita, Chief of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction on updates about instructional materials including Science and Spanish. 
Three other adoption efforts which are not yet underway are Since Time Immemorial, Ethnic Studies and Career-Technical Education. Since Time Immemorial is awaiting revision of Policy 2015, “Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials”. Ethnic Studies instructional materials are in the process of being developed, and will also be subject to the revision of Policy 2015. Career-Technical Education is working on an inventory of needs for instructional materials.
Staff is pushing back against the Board's pointed questions about the changes for Science including now this:
However, the current Policy 2015, “Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials” outlines an extensively detailed process that is aimed at evaluating materials for a commercial purchase. There is currently no language that considers the possibility that a non-commercial selection would be considered, and the language aimed assuring a fair competitive process does not apply. This creates a problem that an attempt to adopt a non-commercial material would not be in compliance with the current Policy.
 I have, once again, expressed to the Board that it is a hardship to have to ask for each committee's documentation for every single meeting.  If I didn't do that, the public would likely not see the documentation at all.  That seems less-than-transparent.  I know staff sometimes needs to make changes to that documentation and yet they are fine doing updates to Board meeting agendas.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

"There is no requirement that the School Board approve each school’s C-SIP. Instead, the requirement is only that the School Board ensures that the plans are in existence."

Um, that's really not ok. The Board absolutely needs to approve these plans. If they don't, they will be ceding a huge amount of power away from the democratically elected leaders of this district to unelected ed reformer hacks at the JSCEE.

Did Denise Juneau sign off on this? Is this the kind of district she wants to run? I was really hoping and expecting it wasn't.


Anonymous said...

I see the Amplify Science Curriculum Adoption is on the agenda today. From information I have gathered about this program from friends, emails with the district and from this blog, I continue to be concerned about this computer-based curriculum that restricts hands-on science and the ability of the teacher to tailor the curriculum to engage his/her classroom. Below are some things I have learned, and emailed the board today. Furthermore, I have privacy concerns based on the amount of data-mining going on in each classroom.

*If your kid has had experiences with Amplify that you wish the board to take into consideration - EMAIL THE BOARD TODAY* boardoffice@seattleschools.org

Here are some numbers from the information you shared and I was able to gather about this year’s science fairs.

*There was a 66% drop in the In-School Science Fair events and a 38% drop in the school participation rate at the City-Wide Science Fair.

*Of the eight schools I was able to identify as participating in the Amplify Curriculum, six did not host an In-School Science Fair, and five did not participate in the City-Wide Science Fair.

Here are some quotes from friends as well as from the Seattle Schools blog:

“My daughter hated the Amplify Curriculum. She loved science the year prior under the old curriculum” – Salmon Bay parent

“Amplify is crap. My kid basically said there was no hands on Science this year. Thanks Middle School for making my girl really dislike Science.” – Middle School parent

“Here's my main problem with Amplify: half the time it doesn't work. If there are connectivity problems or hardware problems, students are sitting around doing nothing…. He basically lost a year of science.” –McClure parent

“And to top it off, students who enjoy science fair projects and wanted the opportunity to do hands-on independent learning were told "sorry, not this year.”” – McClure parent

“My son’s six grade class did almost no labs the entire year.... The year was a waste in terms of science learning, and now my son hates science.” – Hamilton parent


Melissa Westbrook said...

Greenwoody, Juneau just got here. But this Board and previous boards have said okay to this. Even to the point of the C-SIPs getting done at the last minute when no one could review them.

NW, I'll try to send these comments to the committee members.

Outsider said...

It would be nuts for the board to approve hundreds of CSIPs. If they did, it would just encourage the use of boilerplate language in CSIPs and be a meaningless, purely pro-forma exercise.

The board is supposed to set policy. The central office bureaucrats are supposed to implement policy set by the board. (OK, stop laughing, but that is what they are supposed to do.) CSIPs are a potential management tool for the bureaucrats to make sure the schools are running well or heading in the right direction. Like any tool, CSIPs might or might not be used well. That is on the users, not the tool. The board is not supposed to micro-manage individual schools via their CSIPs. That would be totally impractical.

Instead, the board should:
1) spot-check CSIPs for evidence of whether action at the school level actually conforms to policy, or what policy the bureaucrats are actually pushing at the school level. (But keep in mind that talk is cheap, and there is no necessary connection between fine words in the CSIP and what actually happens in the school.)
2) spot-check for disconnects between commitments in CSIPs and what actually gets done in the corresponding schools, as evidence of the competence and honesty of school-level leadership (and by extension the central office bureaucrats who are supposed to be hiring and supervising them).
3) assuming that schools sometimes actually do what's in the CSIP, spot-check for the effectiveness of various policies and approaches.

CSIPs are most useful to the board if schools are given plenty of freedom to write what they really do, or pose the way they really want to be seen.

Just one random example: CSIPs often run to 20 pages printed, of which rarely more than one short paragraph mentions advanced learning. That could tell the board a lot about the plausibility of advanced learning ever being handled well in the neighborhood schools.

S.M. said...

The CSIPs are an issue precisely because of malpractice on the part of the schools. Ultimately the board is responsible. So if the CSIP says:
How do we support students identified as Highly capable?
Our highly trained, qualified staff work with students every day. Our reading specialist, special education teachers and bilingual staff have the appropriate credentials, and many have additional training above the required qualifications.
Instructional Assistants participate in our summer Special Education Institute and CPI training.

If that is indeed all the school does with HC students (have them work with staff everyday and make sure school employees take Crisis Prevention Training), that is not sufficient and deprives students of the basic education they are constitutionally entitled to receive. And the school board is ultimately responsible.

So, it's not a problem per se that the CSIP doesn't reflect what the school needs to provide. But it's a huge problem that the school has no idea what it's supposed to provide, has apparently no training in the issue, and can't even figure out what to write in the CSIP that it will provide, let alone actually provide it. The not providing it is the problem. And ultimately responsibility for that problem falls to the school board.

Anonymous said...

The board do not assert their oversight powers nearly enough.

One simple thing that could be done is to require every single webpage on the district's website(s) to have an "owner" whose name and email address are listed at the top of that page. Whenever a problem with that page is reported, the owner has 48 hours to correct it, otherwise some kind of meaningful penalty is imposed.

The website is the primary (and for many, the sole) avenue of information sharing with the community. Its importance as a resource to the community is not trivial, and penalties for not keeping it as up to date as humanly possible should be significant.

I tend to think the district considers the website as a bit of an afterthought. It is not prioritised the way it must be. In this day and age, it should be thought of as the district's primary publication platform, more important than almost any other communication platform they use.