Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

The Times editorial board - doubling down on their views on McCleary funding - wag their collective fingers at State Superintendent Chris Reykdal, telling him to "rein in local school levies."  I'm not sure that's Reykdal's lane, to tell districts what their ask of their local communities should be.

Here's their plan.   First, tell local districts to wait and see how the new McCleary spending helps their districts.  Second, tell the Governor to call a special session because whoops! that McCleary spending they think is good enough for now for districts sure isn't because somehow the issue of Sped got overlook.  Third, then tell Reykdal to pull the reins on local districts' levy request amounts.

What I see is a belief that districts are either not spending the money they get properly and/or are not transparent enough with where the dollars go.  Or, we pay teachers too much.  Something like that.

Interesting stat - Girls who play video games are three times more likely to study STEM than non-gamers.
From the University of Washington's Daily, a story about a graduate of the University's Computer Science and Engineering department who is now an animator at Pixar. 
At the age of 3, Lehtomaki was convinced to pursue a career in animation by a fateful viewing of Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Despite her early awakening, Lehtomaki’s pursuit of her dream did not come without its uncertainties. She entered the UW intending to study computer science at the urging of her parents who got her thinking that CGI was the future of the field.
The UW alumna didn’t jump straight from being an animation student under Mones’ mentorship to her present position as an animator at Disney. After graduating, she enrolled in the online character animation program offered by Animation Mentor, and then joined the animation company Rhythm & Hues where she worked as a junior animator on “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” Only from there did she land a coveted spot in Disney’s talent development program, which led to her present position as an animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
 Great story from Seattle Channel about the All-City Marching Band.
The All-City Band is officially seeking members for our 2018 summer marching band. Established in 1951 the band has become a staple of Seattle’s summer celebrations entertaining millions of people at parades and community events throughout the Puget Sound region. A top notch and award winning group, All-City receives numerous performance requests each year and has traveled to Southern California, Hawaii, British Columbia, Washington D.C., and New  York City winning hundreds of awards along the way. The band is the longest running continuous entrant in Seafair’s Torchlight Parade and is a highlight of many neighborhood parades as well. As a part of this group students will improve their musicianship,  learn new music and make new friends. Regardless of experience, students will be taught everything they need to know by the instructional staff of college volunteers.

There is no audition for the All-City Band. Students in the graduating classes of 2018-2022 are eligible to participate.
Seattle Police Department has a survey out about citizens' thoughts on their work.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...


Parents, please email the principal and the executive ed director, Kim Whitworth:


It is disruptive, unnecessary, and clearly INEQUITABLE.

It disproportionally affects certain students.

WHY ARE they switching from 2 lunches to 3 in the middle of the school year? THERE IS NO PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE SOLVED (just a super cranky assistant admin who is making an issue where none of the students have any nor teachers have any issues around lunch)

They think it makes sense to make 1/3 of the kids do lunch right in the middle of third period: that's right, literally in the middle of class!
Make the kids go to third period, then, make them get up and leave and go get their lunches then go to cafeteria, then after 30 minutes report back to their 3rd period class for another 30 mins of instruction.

So, any kid stuck with a 2nd lunch (not 1st or 3rd) is going to be majorly screwed. This is totally unworkable if the third period is an instrumental music period, or a world language period, or a math period, or a science period. And, PE? Warm-up, then, interupt? Then come back and play ball?!?

How will this work for the SpEd kids in those 3rd periods that have to squeeze in lunch?

Imagine dealing with your violin, or leaving in the middle of an experiment lab, or, stopping from really getting algebra y=mx+b WHEN OTHER KIDS TAKING THOSE SAME courses DO NOT HAVE THE SAME DAILY DISRUPTION OF THAT CLASS because they happen to have it in 1st period or 2nd, for example.

This is nuts.

To reiterate: there is no problem with lunch as currently configured. Kids are getting through the lunch lines. It is only a school of 932, it is at capacity, not over. Kids have places to sit at cafe. Kids walking in the halls create no mischief, no vandalism, no roughhousing, no problems that need urgent addressing. They are overwhelmingly respectful, mature students who are developmentally appropriate.

Going to 3 lunches means that 33% of JAMS kids, or, 307 children are screwed for direct instruction for their 3rd period. And if about half of them are sitting in a math, science, band, orchestra, jazz, Spanish, or French class - they are really, really screwed! And how are they going to do PE broken in two pieces?

Did the admin consult teachers? NO. Students? NO. Parents? NO. They didn't even notify we parents. Apparently, they only talked to the Instructional Committee, but, no one seems to be able to say who is on that.

Please email the principal and tell her to stop the madness. This is inequitable, will affect 33% of students badly, thus very unfair, and goes against best instructional practices.


Betsy said...

Mad Jaguar, you made your point in the first three sentences. Just so you're aware, the REMS kids have been subjected to this ridiculousness since the beginning of the year. The kids have survived the insanity so far.

Anonymous said...


This is really out of the norm for JAMS.

Typically, they are very student-centric and take equity into account and are really excellent about home-school communications.

They should not being doing this to the kids. They should not be doing this to the teachers. It is not needed. It is destructive.

FACT: JAMS enrollment is 932 students
FACT: JAMS building capacity is 960 students
FACT: Teaching faculty were NOT consulted
FACT: Parents were neither consulted nor informed
FACT: Students have spontaneously started 3 petitions as of today, the day it was announced
FACT: It is grossly inequitable: kids stuck in an *interrupted* block of instruction do NOT get the same educational adequacy as kids getting an UNinterrupted block of instruction

To restore order and prevent kids from being harmed, email the principal. If she gets 150 emails by end of day tomorrow, she'll have to revisit before parents start complaining to the board.

Reach out to her NOW.


Anonymous said...

Are you not on the RESMS FB page, Betsy? There were nothing but complaints about the way lunch was handled for weeks. I sympathize, Jaguars. We are very overcrowded at Eaglestaff, so this is the way it has to be, but I was pleased that my neighborhood might be moved over to less crowded JAMS! Maybe not.

Bermuda Triangle

Anonymous said...

@Betsy, Your example, REMS, is a composite school, with 2 schools in it. Not a relevant comparison. Eckstein had 3 lunches back when they were grossly overenrolled, with 15 portables and over 1,300 students - but that is not JAMS's situation.

Moreover, I never think that something bad or less than ideal happening somewhere else or to someone else justifies making something bad for someone else or someplace else. Perhaps we disagree about that. Equity through equal misery is never going to achieve equity.

Bad decisions can only get reversed if parents jump on it fast. Perhaps JAMS is not your school, nevertheless, you also can email if you wish no middle school in any of Seattle's comprehensive middle schools to have their learning interrupted. It is not that I am against this at JAMS, I am against this for every child in every middle school. The teachers are against it, but, their hands are tied. They cannot openly defy the administration: that is a career risk that is unfair to burden teachers with. Parents, on the other hand, are stakeholders who can speak up.

Mad Jaguar

3rd Lunch said...

I read half of mad jaguars post then went for a snack. Came bac and finished reading. I don’t see the problem

Anonymous said...

@ 3rd Lunch, how clever of you. Good thing didn't start cooking your snack, take a 30 minute break to read the blog, then get back to your snack...only to find it had burnt in the meantime.

I have a hard time believing that people really think it's not disruptive to start class, break, then get back to it. Sure, you can sometimes design a lesson to work that way--but there must be lessons, discussions, projects, tests, etc. that would be especially challenging in that format. Plus, there's the issue of getting students resettled in class, taking roll again, setting up equipment/instruments/computers, etc. I'd love to hear from a teacher re: how much time would be lost, realistically. Are there certain classes that are more amenable to this sort of arrangement, and can the school perhaps assign those classes to the split session if it's absolutely necessary to do the split?


Anonymous said...

At HIMS they have also had 3 lunches with kids leaving in the middle of class for awhile now. I thought it was nuts also, but that is how it went. This continued even when enrollment dropped to right under capacity similar numbers of 950 or so.

Former HIMS

Anonymous said...

HIMS current enrollment is 1,032 yet HIMS when rebuilt was initially designed for 750; but you won’t find that number listed on any capacity document (you could ferret it out on some Heery International early construction correspondence). So, apples/oranges comparison. Also, unlike HIMS, JAMS has an actual cafeteria (that is in addition to the properauditorium and the 2 gyms), HIMS has an internal “courtyard/cafetorium”. (an aside: the community, parents, neighbors argued passionately for a proper auditorium for Eagle Staff, but Flip vehemently opposed it). HIMS is very constrained building, like Madison. JAMS is of a vintage where volume peaked, meaning per sq ft is generous (ceiling heights, net hallway widths, etc). HIMS sits on 2 acres, JAMS 18 acres! Operationally, JAMS does NOT require 3 lunches, it’s through-put with 2 lunches works fine. Students are not emotional wrecks, as Admin has claimed (in writing!) to justify this reckless stealthy maneuver in an internal e-mail to teachers. They’ve made a mistake, they should be mature enough to not let their egos drive this any further. Show the complaints (CER: Claim - Evidence -Reasoning!!!) from JAMS parents and students and teachers about how the current two lunches are problematic or crushing in order to justify the admin’s claims about emotionally and physically suffering students - absent that - this is a destructive ‘solution’ in search of a ‘problem’ to solve.

Scared and Scarred

Anonymous said...

@Scared and Scarred My intention was to point out that HIMS also has had kids leaving middle of a class. When my child was in middle, they were overenrolled, then the numbers dropped a bit under capacity when REMS opened yet the same schedule remained. Yes, now they are indeed back up again.

Your point I think is that JAMS should not have this issue. However Mad Jaguar is outraged kids at JAMS have to leave class for lunch. Just pointing out they are not alone and that kids at REMS & HIMS have been dealing with the same issue.

Former HIMS

Anonymous said...

I teach at HIMS and the reason we have an interrupted period is to accommodate a common advisory and clubs period. We used to have three lunches and each lunch had an attached Homeroom with all the classes be full time courses.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Confused Jaguar said...

Are middle school students required to attend lunch? I mean, could they just go across the street and eat a sandwich instead of going to the lunch room? There's no attendance or tardies for lunch period, right?

I find it to be a mixed message that the district feels like middle school students can walk 2 miles to school and then back again by themselves each day, on their own recognizance, unsupervised, and yet they can't spend half an hour eating lunch unsupervised. It's not instructional time, right? Why can't they just go sit somewhere and eat lunch?

Now my kid is getting a bunch of extra minutes for one class (to allow the passing periods for the kids who are having lunch then?). Where did those minutes come from? From advisory? It's a mystery.

I don't get it. Are middle schoolers old enough to not be supervised or not? Is instructional time important or not? If you require the parents of 11-14 year olds to send their kids somewhere for about 7 hours a day, how can the mechanics of feeding them or in many cases simply allowing them to feed themselves be overwhelming? In educating children, keeping them alive is like the bare minimum of what we can ask. Stuff like eating lunch, going to the bathroom, etc. It feels like their needs as a human take a back seat to issues of how to deal with an underfunded state education system.

If Washington state paid for enough lunch supervision and enough space for students to eat lunch in, we would never be having this conversation. We should be writing to the legislature. Our kids' basic human needs should not be an afterthought.

When I was in middle school we were allowed to go anywhere outside on campus and eat our lunch. I used to sit on a concrete sidewalk next to one of the buildings with a group of friends and eat. Why can't Seattle's middle schoolers do that?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Confused, I'm sure the first time something serious happened, the district would be in hot water. So closed campuses (as far as I know) for middle schoolers. I myself was NOT allowed to go off campus for lunch in junior high and I'm old.

(That said, Roosevelt freshman are supposed to stay on campus for lunch but that never happens.)

Great points about basic human needs; I think it appalling that over at Washington, girls have to practically beg to use the bathroom.

Anonymous said...

JAMS principal sent out a blast email last night. It was a word salad. Very, very disappointing spin.

Summarizing her overly-long email that failed to provide a justification for making kids break-up their science labs, math lessons, band sessions, test-taking, etc:

FACT: Cafe Capacity per fire marshall = 562 bodies

FACT JAMS enrollment / 2 lunches = 471 kids

FACT: With *2 lunches*, cafe is severely under-utilized by 91 bodies!

FACT: JAMS has low Free & Reduced Lunch ratio: 240/942 (25%)

FACT: Principal email highlighted teachers were *not* consulted (Instead, she talked about the custodian union 609 gave the ok as did "Central Office" {but she tell central office so it knew that teachers and parents and kids were not consulted AND the cafe is significantly undercapacity and JAMS would have to enroll at least 170 MORE kids before approaching the cafe cap to run 2 lunches?})

Note student reporters interviewed JAMS security and JAMS cafe servers, who said this change was problematic and would make it much harder on them. Another fact; JAMS is a school with HCC, who historically have very low-rates of purchasing hot-lunch, meaning the lunch lines are not long.

When a middle school must go to a 3rd lunch because it has hit a hard boundary with its cafeteria capacity rating, that is understandable. If kids cannot access lunch in time to eat, that is also another reason to make a change. BUT neither of these conditions apply. This change is unnecessary, inequitable, and damaging to student learning in a corrosive way. It must be stopped.

Other Seattle middle schools that hit capacity constraints tipped into a third lunch out of absolute necessity, but there is NO necessity at JAMS, therefore protecting the student education must come first.


3rd Lunch said...

I wonder if the word salad was romaine.