Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Wednesday Open Thread

Back from a great vacation break and lots to catch up on.

First, let's look at the district schedule for this week.  There's one big item that jumps right out happening today:

Board Special Meeting: Executive Session: To consider the selection of a site or the acquisition of real estate by lease or purchase when public knowledge regarding such consideration would cause a likelihood of increased price and; to consider the minimum price at which real estate will be offered for sale or lease when public knowledge regarding such consideration would cause a likelihood of decreased price.

This does not sound like a small purchase so I'm intrigued as to what land this might be and for what purpose.

Next, I note that the primary election yesterday looks to trend Democratic so that party may have a strong degree of control in the state legislature.  I am especially pleased to see the defeat of former legislator Rodney Tom who was a DINO and ed reform supporter as well as former legislator, Chad Magendanz.

From the Times, news of a legislative work group that want input on special education funding/spending.  Unfortunately, the deadline has passed for giving input but you can still read about their work.
In Washington state, school districts don’t always have enough money to provide the mandated supports to students with disabilities.

But some students have needs so severe that districts struggle to afford what it takes to provide them with a free and appropriate education, a right guaranteed by federal law. Seattle Public Schools, for example, enrolled a handful of students last year who required services that cost between $300,000 and $500,000 each.

Now, a legislative work group is asking the public to weigh in on a draft list of recommendations that could make it easier for school districts to collect additional state and federal funds to help cover some of those costs 
 Interesting opinion piece on math and girls from the NY Times.

Hey, Arne Duncan has a new book out but we'll be discussing that in a separate thread.

What's on your mind?


Carol Simmons said...

Hi Melissa,

Welcome back.

You were missed.

GLP said...

Waitlists are on my mind -- Particularly waitlists for the middle schools in the north. I was at the Board Work Session on May 1st when they discussed the overcrowding at REMS. I heard the Board ask that the waitlists to be thoroughly reviewed in hopes of moving students from REMS to other schools if they had requested another choice assignment (let self selection help reduce crowding). Ever since then I've been tracking the waitlist data that's periodically posted. There has been no movement on JAMS, Whitman and Eckstein's waitlists. According to the document from the June 25th Board work session JAMS, Whitman & Eckstein are all below capacity and REMS is almost 100 students over. It's August. Middle school orientations for 6th graders start in 2 1/2 weeks. Waitlists dissolve in 3 1/2 weeks. Can the staff move the waitlists already???


Eric B said...

Neither Magendanz nor Tom were defeated in this election since both are moving on to the general election. However, it is nice to see them behind their opponents in the current vote count.

Anonymous said...

When can we get an update on the teacher contract negotiations? What are the main topics aside from pay?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, I know negotiations are on-going with talks scheduled today. Here's what I saw from Facebook:

"August 15th at JSCEE
Fight for the Schools We Need - Rally for a Strong SEA Contract!

Seattle Education Association is in the middle of contract negotiations and the WA State legislature recently passed a budget adding $1 Billion to education funding. Now we need to unite to put pressure on the district to fund the schools Seattle deserves!

Seattle deserves racial equity in schools. That means Ethnic Studies at all grade levels, Race and Equity Teams in every school, an increase in the hiring of educators of color, increased number of counselors and social workers, and staff trained in restorative justice and practices in all schools.

Come hear what other issues Certificated staff, Substitutes, Paraprofessionals, and SAEOPs are bargaining for in this contract and show the district that we demand equity in our schools!"

Anonymous said...

Some other topics being discussed:

Parental leave
Health benefits for subs
Caseload limits/increased staffing for specialists and special education, equitable caseloads
Evaluations of specialist staff done by people who are well-versed in the discipline/training for evaluators
Recruitment and retainment, esp. for positions with shortages
Appropriate professional development

....In addition to what others wrote above.

In The Know

Anonymous said...

Replying to this on the previous thread; "This city has 4 colleges pumping out fully certificated teachers who should be snapped up as subs and treated well. In fact, new teachers would learn a tremendous amount by being required to spend a year subbing around in various schools. There is no reason to lower the qualifications bar for guest educators."

Totally disagree. Subs are not "guest educators". They are babysitters. If these students have done their student teaching, they have no use for time sitting at a desk, taking roll, and handing out packets that the teacher left for them. As a sub eager to teach, I inserted myself as often as possible to get a chance to actually teach when subbing. I walked the room and helped kids who wanted help. Most did not. If a lot of students were confused and I understood the subject matter (e.g., math), I'd do a review of the concept on the board--which the very few times that it was needed, was much appreciated by the students. In a Shakespeare class where the students were to read passages out loud, I was able to help them understand what was being said. In a composition class, I offered to proof and give input. But 98% of the time, there is no such opportunity, and the other 2% it is not necessary, just something I did to practice teaching and relieve my own boredom. All you need in a sub is someone who can maintain order. Forcing a new certificated teacher to spend a year doing this is tantamount to torture.


Former Souper said...

It is important for everyone to understand what is going on with teacher negotiations and not get caught-up in SEA/ WEA messaging.

Jerry Cornfield reports:

"As tensions rise in teacher contract talks, GOP Sen. John Braun offers advice for negotiators: Don't negotiate away K-3 class size reduction money; don't bank on #waleg boosting local property tax limit to pay for raises; don't strike"

Former Souper said...

In the Senate, Braun serves as Chair of the Ways and Means Committees. He was a leader during the last legislative session.

Anonymous said...

Former Souper, I don't understand your point. Are you saying negotiations are going swimmingly?


Anonymous said...

Former Souper,

Sen. Braun served (past tense) as Chair of the Ways & Means Committee in 2017, not 2018. Sen. Rolfes was chair in 2018 (the last legislative session).


Anonymous said...

Oh, the pricey special ed bogey man, raising his half-million dollar head again. Now, again tell me why we have soooo many contracts in this range? Why does the district get away with perennial failure to serve? That is, before we had a grand chief of special ed, we had almost no out of district placements for special ed. Eg, less than 10. Now we’ve got tons of them (out of district placements).Including a recent one where the students had to go to a school for Autism back in Boston at an expensive boarding school. Plane trips, residential care, the whole 9 yards. Pretty regular school, for a pretty ordinary disability.. Hello? Autism is a relatively high incidence disorder. Sure, the district doesn’t like teaching students with disabilities. But, they’ve got to figure it out! Without the huge price tagged private education, for those with equally high priced lawyers. Let’s stop complaining about the high cost students. Those high costs are almost always created by the district in its efforts to avoid service.

Sped Parent

Eric B said...

Call me cynical, but I can't really see why WEA/SEA would take negotiating advice from someone who's in the caucus that will happily gut the education budget until the Supreme Court makes them put a fig leaf back. It's sort of like a Fox News commentator offering advice to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

SPED Parent

It's all about mollifying teachers and principals, who do not want to serve our students.

Reality checker

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