Sunday, November 11, 2018

Seattle Schools News for Week of Nov 12-18, 2018

Monday, November 12th
No school in honor of Veterans Day.

Please do talk to your children about the sacrifice of others for the country we have.  Point out that soldiers have to do their jobs in all kinds of weather...including rain.  It would appear from Trump's visit to France this weekend that Seattle kids are better prepared to be presidential than he is.

Here's the district's webpage for the upcoming district levies.  One item I saw that might be of interest:
In January, the district will host informational meetings across the city. If your school is interested in a levy presentation or if you have questions about the EP&O Levy renewal, please contact staff at budget@seattleschools.org
If you are in PTA or a PTO, you might consider asking your group to NOT endorse the levies.  Why? Because the district should understand the depth of unhappiness throughout this district.  It feels to me like frustration and anger is rising among parents, no matter their issues.  And passing levies that ask for over $2B is pretty heavy lift for any district and I would think the district would like as much support at possible.

Tuesday, November 13th
The previously scheduled meeting at Whitman MS about capacity management issues at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School is cancelled.  Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen.  I do hope the district gets the message that this "divide and conquer with short meetings on big topics" will no longer work nor be tolerated by parents. 

Here's the presentation from the meeting at RESMS.

Wednesday, November 14th
Regular Board meeting, starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda.

Looks to be a short meeting; not a single Intro item.

There will be an executive session immediately following the meeting; the public is not allowed to stay.

Thursday, November 15th
Listening tour with Superintendent Juneau for Native American issues from 5:30-7:30 pm 

Co-hosts: United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Native Action Network
Beverages and light snacks will be served
Location: Daybreak Star Cultural Center
5011 Bernie Whitebear Way

Sunday, November 18th
Community meeting with Director Leslie Harris at High Point Library from 3-5 pm. (This is a tentative location which I will update if things change.


Anonymous said...

Tolley's leaving!!!!!

Michael Tolley Announcement
Michael Tolley, associate superintendent of teaching and learning, has announced he will be leaving his position at Seattle Public Schools at the end of this calendar year. While there are many things to be celebrated, Michael is particularly proud of transitioning our high schools to a college going culture, the significant reduction in the achievement gap for students of color as reflected in our graduation rates, the development and application of an equity index for the allocation of resources, and the adoption of systems to support teaching and learning and improve student learning.

open ears

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm told this news went out on Friday but there was no media advisory and I see nothing on the SPS website. That said, whenever it happened, I think it's for the best.

Anonymous said...

It's on the News and Events under MySPS

open ears

Anonymous said...

No loss. Given he is leaving, he should be stripped of any decision making capabilities as of right now.
-long road

Anonymous said...

This week's board meeting agenda (Policy 20290 rewrite) includes a lengthy work plan from SPS research and evaluation, with some one page descriptions of ongoing efforts (K5 ELA curriculum, MS math, IB, and GHS HFA, to name a few):

The 2018-19 school year represents Year 3 of efforts by Garfield High School (GHS) to implement a new de-tracking approach for 9th and 10th grade English Language Arts courses. Originally termed “Honors for All,” the intent of this effort is to create more heterogenous learning environments in which historically segregated student populations at GHS are blended into a de-tracked curriculum...This effort at GHS is one of several school-based efforts in SPS to de-track and de-segregate learning opportunities in general – and advanced learning opportunities, in particular –


Anonymous said...

Wow - a cursory read of the proposed edits up for adoption this Weds board meeting seems to eliminate parental opinion or parental access to information for any new proposed curriculum. Is this right?


https://www.seattleschools.org/district/school_board/archives/regular_and_special_board_meeting_archive/2018-19_agendas_and_minutes/november_14 (Policy 2090).

I am especially concerned about how this relates to the proposed new middle school (and potentially elementary school and now 9th grade) on-line, canned science curriculum. The new Amplify curriculum has students and parents up in arms. Everything is taught on-line, and all science experiments are now presented as computer simulations - eliminating any hands-on science.

I also heard rumors that the district science fair as we know it is being eliminated in favor of allowing students to create apps based on the science they learned that year. Eliminating hands-on science is not preparing students for college-level science. Moving everything, even the science fair, to computer-based is extremely unequitable to students who do not have access to computers at home.

Is this an attempt to eliminate parental opinion from the adoption process for the new science curriculum? Can someone read the edits and let me know if I am right in being concerned???


Anonymous said...

Amplify is so shabbily constructed, glitchy, and above all, mind-numbingly boring for any child. It's Vogon poetry for AL/HC kids. It makes kids HATE SCIENCE, and that is the biggest problem.

open ears

Outsider said...

Inquiring minds want to know -- where is Tolley going? Strange that it wasn't mentioned. Which could indicate:

1) He's not going anywhere right away, and was perhaps pushed out. If so, was it the board or the new Sup giving the push, and why? That would tell something about the future direction of the district.

2) He's going to a lucrative gig at some publisher or ed-tech company, and the district is not eager to reveal that.

Anonymous said...

Open Ears is correct, Amplify is a disaster for my 2E kid and is making him hate science. A complete waste of time and not actually teaching or engaging students.

Another Voice

Anonymous said...

Vogon Poetry! I love it! Explains it very well open ears.


Melissa Westbrook said...

JYI, good catch. I didn't read that BAR. How odd the Board did follow-up and ask about this. I did get another batch of emails about Thurgood Marshall; I'll have a follow-up soon. But good news - it looks like if you are any school-based group, you can ask and get your group's info copied AND translated. For free. At least that's the TM group got.

The letter said Tolley is leaving mid-to-late December. Also, Outsider, we have charter schools. He might go to one of those.

Anonymous said...

I hear a lot of frustration about Amplify and it sounds truly terrible. Is anyone going to actually do anything about it? Is there a plan to get it out of our classrooms? I'm a little frustrated with complaints without a clear plan to stop it.

Amplify This

Anonymous said...

I wonder why the report mentions Garfield only. It's not jut Garfield. RHS and BHS also combine non honors and honors in the same classroom for LA. It's new at BHS this year,and they are following the Garfield approach making the class honors. However students can opt out if done early, for non-honors class or non-honors credit. Also, important caveat the honors and non-honors population at BHS historically is not segregated by race or economics. Students come from same backgrounds and neighborhoods. Honors and non honors don't mean so much anyway as some "regular non honors classes" are harder than some honors classes. Dependent on high school, teacher, curriculum etc.


Anonymous said...

Melissa: What can we as parents do to encourage Juneau to hire a replacement who is genuinely transparent, puts students (not bureaucracy) first, learns from past SPS errors, and advocates for evidence-based approaches to education rather than personal preference/philosophy?

Any inkling that Tolley got pushed out?

Concerned Parent

kellie said...

Tolley's mid year departure comes in the middle of quite a few significant initiatives that are all under his domain.

Core 24 is scheduled to be implemented next year, with no public plan as of yet. Lincoln needs to open next year with significant mitigation needs. As well as the science curriculum adoption that was required in light of the science alignment that needed to be an adoption the entire time.

Those are the three things that immediately come to mind. I suspect that the list is actually much longer but those three have very hard deadlines that can't be deferred.

Anonymous said...

Re: the evaluation, I'm wondering how this meets the requirement for "accelerated learning and enhanced instruction" that are part of basic education for HC students:

The 2018-19 school year represents Year 3 of efforts by Garfield High School (GHS) to implement a new de-tracking approach for 9th and 10th grade English Language Arts courses. Originally termed “Honors for All,” the intent of this effort is to create more heterogenous learning environments in which historically segregated student populations at GHS are blended into a de-tracked curriculum...This effort at GHS is one of several school-based efforts in SPS to de-track and de-segregate learning opportunities in general – and advanced learning opportunities, in particular

A "detracked currriculum" certainly sounds like one-size-fits-all, which certainly DOESN'T sounds like accelerated or enhanced...

At least at RHS and BHS students can opt out of the honors component, suggesting the default version is harder and actually potentially honors level. At GHS, it's the same level for all--and from all indications, it's not honors level. From the research and evaluation description, it sounds like they might not even be calling it "honors" anymore, although I can't find the course catalog anywhere on the Garfield website to check.

data please

Melissa Westbrook said...

Concerned Parent, I'd write to the Superintendent and the Board and tell them what you told me. It's important that Juneau find someone that fits with her philosophy and vision. Unfortunately, the new Strategic Plan won't be done for months so that's unclear to all of us. schoolboard@seattleschools.org will reach both.

Anonymous said...

@data please "At least at RHS and BHS students can opt out of the honors component, suggesting the default version is harder and actually potentially honors level."
Still depends so much upon teacher, class, school, and I would also add peers. It also differs upon subject. In some subjects are just extra assignments, harder tests. Also, some subjects have both honors and non-honors still as separate classes. 9th grade LA at BHS has an "honors for all track" meaning it places all students in honors if you continue with the class, but will allow students to opt out into one non honors section. LA also was balanced, 1/2 are those seeking honors with those initially seeking non-honors. RHS 9th grade LA has all students in one class and students complete extra assignments for honors credit.

Anonymous said...

So far in Ballard high school's honors for all LA class "Integrated Honors," the students have been assigned zero books to read. There is very little homework or writing overall. This feels like an elementary school level class.

Not Impressed

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's sad. Apparently we need set curricula, or at the very least menus of options with a minimum requirement for each level (honors vs. gen ed). Then again, SPS seems to be all about optics and window dressing, with little concern for actual substance. Might as well just call everything honors.

While they're at it, might as well just award everything 1.5 credits instead of 1 since it's all honors, and then we'll have solved the 24-credit problem as well!

2 birds

Anonymous said...

@Not Impressed I suspect it is also teacher dependent for LA. We are getting the same feedback from my students friends at RHS. My student has had assigned books to read, is currently reading The Odyssey, as well as an independent book choice. The 9th honors world history at BHS seems from student feedback to be somewhat aligned between classes. They are very challenging, even for students we know who are HC. However, apparently my student may have the hardest SS teacher, but is very good and will be very well prepared for AP world history.


Anonymous said...

So teacher dependent. Always has been. Even when teachers are using the same core texts and supposedly following the same basic curriculum. Our child had one HS LA teacher who routinely handed out materials riddled with misspelled words and grammatical errors. They wrote at most one full length essay per semester. This was a class with a 1.0 class weighting. If this is Seattle's plan for providing access to advanced learning, they are failing. They are failing students of all levels - either by not providing advanced work, or misleading students into thinking they are doing advanced work. And to those teachers who prove to be the exception, and somehow manage to provide appropriate challenge and maintain a love of learning - Thank you! A thousand times, thank you.

Teachers have fought hard for academic freedom, which SPS seems glad to provide - it sure seems like less work for the curriculum department, but can be a disaster for teachers (and their students) who need more support.

wild west

Anonymous said...

@Not Impressed I would also suggest getting a copy of the syllabus and speaking the teacher to learn exactly what's going on (or not) in your child's class. My student is at Ballard in 9th honors LA and has had assigned (Odyssey) and independent reading books, and also has completed a variety of multiple writing assignments. There is a local author that comes to class on day each week and they also work on creative writing and poetry. It's not as challenging as one 8th grade HC middle school LA teacher (a standout) but is ending up o.k and better than anticipated at the start of the year. Also, lots of HC students in the class from middle.

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