Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I attended a great talk last night sponsored by Town Hall.  The speaker was Professor Justin Driver and he talked about his book, The School House Gate, which covers public education cases in the Supreme Court.  Interestingly enough, one of the cases he writes about in the book is the race tiebreaker case from Seattle Public Schools.   (He also talked about one of my favorite public ed cases, one in which a student got into trouble for his sign, Bong Hitz 4 Jesus.)  I'm going to read the book.

He did mention one issue about the Seattle case that I hadn't known - the district had a box on the enrollment form for race that had to be filled in (if the parent didn't do it, the district did).   I let him know that the parents who brought the case never got what they wanted - a high school in their area - and that the racial tiebreaker had worked both ways (for white students wanting to get into Franklin).

Speaking of Town Hall, they have a great series of family concerts coming up.  The next one is October 13th at 11 am at The Royal Room by the Bushwick Book Club Seattle.  Tickets are $5 for adults/kids over 12.  Kids under 12 go for free.

It appears that several states are dropping the PARC/SBAC in favor of state-produced assessments.

Maryland plans to replace PARCC with an assessment of their own The Baltimore Sun reports. Maryland’s upcoming departure coupled with New Jersey’s exit will drop the Common Core assessment consortium that once boasted 27 partners (including 24 states) down to five.
When a state has decided to jettison PARCC or Smarter Balanced, as long as a state continues to use Common Core math and ELA standards they will have a Common Core-aligned assessment. The Every Student Succeeds Act mandates the alignment of a state’s standards and assessment.
From Ed Week: Oregon has decided to drop the Smarter Balanced exam at the high school level, a move that has not only practical but symbolic significance, since the state served as a home base for the consortium, and played a leading role in its development.

Look who's getting into public education - Jeff Bezos.  He wants to open free nationwide pre-k schools based on the Montessori method.  Wonder what this might mean for the city of Seattle's pre-k program. 

No director community meetings this weekend; the Board is having its first retreat with Superintendent Juneau.  The agenda doesn't really explain much about what will be discussed.  Open to the public; JSCEE from 9 am -12:30 pm.

One item to note - next week's Board meeting will be on Tuesday, the 18th, not Wednesday.  I didn't find out what caused the change for the meeting; Board meetings are normally on Wednesdays.

What's on your mind?


Maltby said...

Carrying over from Tuesdays post...French 1 begins this Monday at Garfield.

Missed two weeks, but it's the outcome we wanted. Didn't like how communications were handled by the District.

Anonymous said...

How did French 1 get re-instated at Garfield? Was anyone at the District a helpful advocate? I'd love to see Spanish 1 re-instated for 7th graders at WMS (since there is a Spanish teacher! Who is apparently assigned 2 sections of 8th grade Spanish, 1 math class and 1 ELA, or was earlier this week). However, I have gotten zero responses to any of my messages to the principal and District folks.


Anonymous said...

Frustrated -- neither of our seventh grade kids have Spanish 1 because the school decided all of a sudden my kid this year needs two hours of ELA instead of two electives. So there goes Spanish for both our kids, all because of the principal being arrogant and not caring what we are trying to tell her or honor us or our kids at all. I hope the new superintendant does something to fix this, our kids both deserve it.

I'm frustrated too

Anonymous said...

Ms. Pritchett to the rescue.

Purple Haze

Anonymous said...

purple haze that is sarcasm, no? she is more the arsonist then the fire fighter, imho.

no caps

Anonymous said...

Why is GHS in lockdown?

APP Parent

Anonymous said...

Garfield sent out a message yesterday announcing that the French teacher position advertised since March has finally been filled, new sections starting Monday. The school has at least one current French teacher since higher levels of French were still offered, and I assume a second teacher was needed to meet the demand for seats and sections. Hiring language teachers is a challenge anywhere when such positions are budgeted fractionally and teachers are considered to be commodities in a just-in-time inventory system. Sigh, it's terrible how thinly schools are funded now.


ps. gunshots/shooting reported several blocks south of Garfield, near 25th & Yesler, about half hour ago.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I see nothing on SPS Twitter feed about a lockdown. Is there really one?

Anonymous said...

Lockdown is over already.


Maltby said...


Garfield wasn't and isn't forthcoming with details. Bad hiring strategy gave way to parents complaining perhaps and they suddenly found a french teacher after months of searching.

I emailed the Super, the Principal, Ombudsman, Board member DeWolfe and President of the Board Harris.

The Ombudsman was helpful, she reached out to the Principal who then did reply to my email (last time for that)

Sarah J. Pritchett, Executive Director of Secondary Schools, responded to my emails to the Super for awhile, then I think she got tired.

Board members did not respond at all.

Anonymous said...

Garfield's ship has sailed.

HCC students September 2017 avoided it (they chose to stay local at Roosevelt and Ballard instead: not because those fine schools could meet their needs, but because those were less worse/uncertain).

This year, majority of HIMS and JAMS once again did NOT choose to go to GHS. That should tell you all you need to know (ones who did go GHS were from Hale or Lincoln zone). District and Garfield have relentlessly targeted HCC program, so students are not getting their needs met. Instead students are wasting their time (of course, they are not alone in this regard).

Believing in public education should mean that *each* child is valued, regardless of whether they love basketball, dream of becoming a chef, are enthralled with Latin, dedicate themselves to calculus, live for theater. Regardless of whether they can walk, regardless of their address, regardless of their religion or race.

Washington Middle School music and world languages WERE OPEN TO EVERYONE. Every single child could chose and register for BOTH!!!! Those courses are electives and have nothing to do with the HCC program!!!!!! So, because some students choose NOT to take some courses, those courses must be eliminated? Even if they are valuable academic and cultural experiences for the students who do take them, and, prepare them on a college track? How about supporting those who did not see the value or desire to take music and/or language with better communication so that they may be enticed to take music or world language? And, with choir, instrumental rental is a non-issue. Music education correlates with better math performance, for example, so rather than kill a program that has been a source of joy and community and pride, how about support all students with exposure and information. JAMS specifically does a major push to recruit students to music by doing outreach of a 'field trip' day to JAMS, where 5th graders tour the school lead by students, listen to a concert, and, a welcomed with a ton of positivity as future Jaguars with the instruction that when they get their elective form to fill out in the spring, go for it, pick music!!! Music is demystified and hyped as an incredibly positive, fun, experience where you will truly belong and get to develop lasting friendships and connections. How about that WMS principal try that instead?!

The trend at Garfeild has not been good if one looks at academics. The number of National Merit Scholars, while but one indicator, shows the slide. They took away World History AP for freshmen, even though the freshmen were doing well on the AP exam. They took away cherished learning opportunities by cutting off important field trips. They took away Honors English, and have quietly 'rolled that up'. They took away instructional minutes by pushing in advisory, aka 'mentoring'. They won't consider a flip classroom for highest level courses because they said it presented equity issues (yet other SPS schools with higher F&RL do it). In short, they have been steadily degrading the education, so more and more students are avoiding it. Look at the PTSA, they never used to struggle to fill it out. And the future is clear, West Seattle will also trend away.

We spoke to a former bulldog who went to GHS but pulled out and switched to RHS. Surprised that was the case, but, even if there are, for the moment, a great science course list at GHS, said you could get to take it because those spots are triaged to graduating students who must complete the credit to graduate, then seniors, then juniors, so, even with all the math prerequisites done, you still are not going to be getting those courses, so you may as well go to RHS, and skip the commute.

Don't shout down the messenger, look at facts. The problem is that once a school is willing to denigrate one 'set' of students, a line has been crossed and they will be willing to denigrate all. Education is not a limited sum game.

Future Bulldog (no more)

Anonymous said...

PSA: If you want to know about Garfield news (lockdown for example), you have to get the Garfield App. As far as I can tell, there was no other communication sent to alert families.


Jet City mom said...


That seems pretty close to the library.

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

Future Bulldog (no/nay/never/no more), it's nice to have one fewer school choice to mull over at least. We did choose Garfield, however, after doing extensive research as we have a world of options, and for us it has been an unmitigated success. My student is challenged, thriving and happy and plans to stay all four years now. It's exceeded our expectations.

Reports of Garfield's demise, like Twain's, are greatly exaggerated here. While HCC students have been exiting the cohort, the student population has been trending increasingly affluent and demand/competition for advanced classes is higher than ever. Splitting the HCC cohort will help all the students. I don't see educational outcomes falling off a cliff, as some here imagine (or hope, strangely it seems) will happen. Rather, they will simply become similar to those at other bourgeois high schools. Ironically, that will only enhance Garfield's appeal to more families, not diminish it. (Meanwhile, I would turn my eye toward Franklin...)

Although but one flawed metric, Garfield again leads the SPS crop of NMSFs this year with thirteen. Congratulations to all of them, at all the schools!


NESeattleMom said...

GHS led the numbers in SPS NMSQT semi finalists listed in Seattle Times. My GHS 10th grader has challenging classes. I guess I don’t have the Garfield app because despite numerous robocalls and emails about one tardy and one absence as well as early dismissal Wed., the only info about 6th period lockdown was texted from my student as they sat on floor for an hour against wall with door locked and blinds down. It is reported in Seattle Police blotter. Shooting in 2400 block of Yesler with green sedan driving away. One victim transported in private vehicle to Harborview. From my student’s text the initial story was “armed robbery and shooting in neighborhood”. Later incorrect text (from students texting each other) said “gang member shot another in library (that sits between 23rd and 24th)”. That false story freaked me out. I think that we as a society minimize the stress of lock downs. My kid was exhausted and not up to taking bus with downtown transfer to after school activity, so I picked him up at the end of the 48 to drive to activity with lost leeway time.

NESeattleMom said...

Responding to FNH, Welcome to GHS. My 10th grader loves it, has great friends and teachers, and an appropriate schedule.

Anonymous said...

The NMSF were higher at Garfield in past years, there were 22 in 2007 and 20 in 2008 when there were also much lower amounts of HC enrolled than today at Garfield. That was also when Garfield was the pathway of pretty much all of HCC. Last year numbers at Garfield were down at multiple schools and only 4 from Garfield. Not sure what this all means. However, as HC kids started going to other schools only recently (past 2-3 years) that will have a future impact on NMSF. If that continues those schools will also have more NMSF in the coming years. Lincoln and Ingraham also and whether they remain HC pathways as well all affect things. It is true that this past year the only HC kids we know who went to Garfield from HIMS were those in Lincoln zone. Most of those from HIMS were split between IHS, BHS & RHS. There may be issues with HC at Garfield. However, one cannot deny that increased traffic & commute time were major reasons north end kids stayed local. In addition, the other schools have proven they can also serve HC relatively well offering identical AP classes & pathway as Garfield. If they (RHS & BHS) lacked a majority of HC in the past, they have much more spectrum and other kids who take same classes.
Former HIMS

Anonymous said...

@FNH "Splitting the HCC cohort will help all the students." Well "splitting the cohort" also quite frankly had to happen sooner or later, as they could not all fit at Garfield even with Ingraham! Also, something not mentioned, but the growth of all kids taking AP courses at neighborhood schools has had an impact. However, it remains tricky for kids in zones who may not have same access to advanced courses at their high school. The regional multiple pathway idea made sense to me on some levels, with a goal of expanding advanced coursework at all high schools.
Former HIMS

Anonymous said...

Thanks NESeattleMom. I have a 10th grader too, no scheduling issues.

I have the app and received the alert. My student describes experience very differently. Asking for greater detail just now, I’m told three minutes of shelter in place starting 3:30-35ish (blinds lowered) then ten minutes or so of lockdown (doors locked, stay seated). Released from classroom by “3:49” and went to XC practice held as usual. The shooting occurred at 3:20 and was across and half block from library. I was nearby and heard it. My child also heard the rumors of a robbery but it was a targeted shooting directed at specific house. While the older kids were still in school, there are lots of elementary kids outside at that time. Grrrr.


Anonymous said...

@FNH, "competition for advanced classes" sounds good if you win a spot, not good if you don't. I suppose that's the case with all schools, but really they should provide enough classes so that all who want advanced classes can get them. Students should not be forced into TA positions, or forced out to Running Start. That seems to happen more at Garfield than elsewhere. Or are you saying that's actually not the case? Also, are you suggesting that Honors for All LA and SS are actually taught are actually high-level courses, more advanced than the prior year's 8th grade HCC ELA and LS classes? The promised evaluation of the HFA approach does not seem to have ever materialized. There should be an outside comparison of Garfield's HFA version to other schools' GE versions and honors versions to see where the GHS classes fall.

serve all

NESeattleMom said...

FNH, Thanks! I just checked my text times. You are right—3:32-3:52. A long 20 minutes for mom. My kid did go to after school activity, but busing downtown to transfer was tiring thought for my kid.

Former Souper said...

Unions continue to settle contracts. One district provided a double digit increase and decreased teacher work days from 190-185 days. Fantastic! It is for the kids!!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Question - could a WMS parent tell me when/where/time for meeting next week with families?

Anonymous said...


I found this on the WMS PTA website.

Q&A with WMS Administration
Mon, Sep 17 at 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Washington Middle School, 2101 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98144, USA
Hear from Principal Emily Butler Ginolfi and her team. Learn facts & ask questions about:Course & scheduling context, plus changes for 2018-19 and ideas on how to address them in 2019-20 Policy updates Support needed from families including lunch-time supervision, French & Japanese support, and others!


TechyMom said...

@serve all

My Garfield freshman, who went to private school last year, loves the world history class, and says the LA class is "fine." We had an especially wonderful LA teacher last year, and it's not a favorite subject, so that's actually a pretty good review.

Anonymous said...

My kid graduated from GHS in 2018. Would never have considered any other high school. Eighth grader won't either. It's a powerful and unique community and I'm grateful to have been a part of it, warts and all.

It never ceases to amaze me how commenters here will hasten to tear GHS down. One doesn't see that level of vitriol about other high schools.

Go Bulldogs!


Anonymous said...

There is a sad and ugly new truth at WMS this year: the principal has segregated out the "gen ed" kids from the spectrum/AL and HCC kids. The AL and HCC kids are blended for ELA, and the gen ed kids are forced to take two hours of ELA and only one elective. The school has gone from a place ALL kids got the same choices,, to something completely different this year. All in the name of "helping" us. The only plus is that all the kids are bonding over this screwed up state.

thanks but no thanks

Anonymous said...

I don't like how this principal is unilaterally imposing her ideology on the students and her school community. She is substituting her ideology for the needs of the students and the will of the parents, who pay her salary. There are some serious questions I have about how equitable education can be in a school district where principals can impose wildly divergent systems from one school to another. We're going to need to toss this de-centralised system into the trash bin and seek more standardisation.


Anonymous said...

@ Ruthie, so interesting that you see my comment as “tearing down” Garfield because I mentioned a few apparent realities, such as (1) students not getting the classes they need and being forced into Running Start (at what seems to be a much higher rate than other schools, per data analysis by kellie), and (2) the continued absence of the promised evaluation of HFA classes and the level of challenge for advanced students. If GHS is an HCC pathway school, there should be more transparency about these issues—and more tolerance of people who bring them up when there isn’t. Yes, Garfield has a lot going for it—no need to get defensive. Parents and HCC students considering GHS have a right to understand some of the challenges there. You aren’t helping to make it seem like an open-minded environment.

Serve all

Anonymous said...

Additional information on the HCC/APP blog about WMS and a letter from the principal about scheduling, plans etc..

-Caphill Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ruthie, it may seem like I pick on Garfield more than other high schools probably because Garfield does more to call attention to itself. Sometimes it's good but yes, over the last several years, not so good. Steve Harvey, two really awful field trips and their outcomes, the quickly-brought-on but less-than-explained Honors for All, hazing, etc.

Now maybe Garfield parents are just more forthcoming on these issues but many of the issues also made it to the Times.

E. Eagle said...

You reported that the WMS principal wrote, "world language courses were to be taken almost exclusively by students in the Highly Capable program. 83% of the 220 students were slated to take world language were in the HCC program, despite that group representing just over half of our student population; only thirteen were black (20% of our population) and nine Hispanic (just under 10% of our population). Given the inequity in these figures" and I'm deeply concerned that she is viewing equity as something that happens only at the level of a single school.

Equity for the students of the city of Seattle must necessarily include that a highly capable student who happens to live in SE Seattle can receive an education that is as challenging as a highly capable student who happens to live in Magnolia or Windermere or North Beach.

Equity does not happen in a bubble at just one middle school.

Eric B said...

E. Eagle, I'd go one step further and say that equity demands that any middle schooler in 7th grade should have the opportunity to take the first year of a world language within a reasonable number of language choices.

E. Eagle said...

There are currently a lot of 7th graders (especially at K-8s) who don't get to take a world language. And there aren't any middle schools that offer more than 3 languages. And at many of them there's only two to pick from. And at some schools the classes seem to fill up and you can't get in even though the school offers the class.

The K-8s are mostly option schools, so I guess that makes it okay that families have opted out of a school that had more languages (in most cases).

I agree with whoever on the board wanted to add a dual immersion path for SE Seattle. I personally feel it's really important regionally for kids to have access to similar and strong offerings in general (like dual immersion, highly capable, option schools, etc.) I don't see how it would be feasible to guarantee 7th graders access to a world language. Well, maybe if schools were amply funded... Hm...

Insider said...

Expect your property taxes to increase to pay for the latest round of teacher raises.

dj said...

How are busses going for students? I had heard that bus staffing is thin, and I have two kids who take the bus. Everything has been pretty standard-issue -- some slightly late afternoon busses, but nothing major -- until this morning, when I received, about ten minutes after my first-grader's 7:13AM pickup, a message saying that his bus was running two hours late.

Anonymous said...

Yup. Two hours late for my 3rd grader as well. If this district is truly interested in equity, it would do well to fix its transportation issues. I'm lucky enough to have the flexibility and time to drive my child to school if need be. What happens to kids in these situations whose parents must work, and/or who may have to wait for a bus alone in a dangerous area? It's going to be dark in the mornings soon. This situation is a real problem, and I'd like to see someone get serious about solving it.


Anonymous said...

Buses are AWFUL. Check this list daily: https://www.seattleschools.org/departments/transportation/latebus. When we've called transportation, they indicate there's no solution in sight.

Each Kid

Anonymous said...

Whitman Middle School ... my daughter took 1/2 year of intro Spanish in 6th grade and then had Spanish in both 7th & 8th grade. However, MANY students didn't have that opportunity as there was only ONE Spanish teacher. The school has cut back on foreign language since she attended. I think both Japanese & French have been cut?

Salmon Bay Middle School has offered Spanish for 7th & 8th graders in the past but was unable to find a teacher for this year. Second kiddo will have no exposure to foreign language before High School.


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