Sunday, December 01, 2019

Thanks and Best Wishes

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)
“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
T.S. Eliot
“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.” 

"Thank you for listening. Thank you for abiding me. And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I bid you goodbye and take my leave."
Frank Deford
Thank you for listening. Thank you for abiding me. And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I bid you goodbye and take my leave. Frank Deford
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/goodbye-quotes
Thank you for listening. Thank you for abiding me. And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I bid you goodbye and take my leave. Frank Deford
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/goodbye-quotes
Thank you for listening. Thank you for abiding me. And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I bid you goodbye and take my leave. Frank Deford
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/goodbye-quotes
Thank you for listening. Thank you for abiding me. And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I bid you goodbye and take my leave. Frank Deford
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/goodbye-quotes

Last Resources

A couple of readers asked about resources on public education.  I honestly cannot recommend any local education blogs.  I wish there were one to recommend but there isn't.

Nationally, I would recommend:

People To Thank

Just so many people to thank for their support of this blog and my efforts to bring transparency and honesty to this district.

Back to the beginning.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Anyone Want These?

Getting ready to move, I am naturally going thru many items.

I have three SPS items if anyone wants them:

Friday Open Thread

The last Friday Open Thread (for now).  Here's hoping you all had a satisfying Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Revenge of the Students - Garfield Speaks

From the student newspaper, The Garfield Messenger (bold mine):
Dear Superintendent Juneau,

In the past months, you have made it your mission to make the district more equitable by ending the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC). We know from firsthand experience that the HCC program has its flaws, and we appreciate that you want to make it equitable for all. However, we don’t believe that your approach to this issue is appropriate.

Despite your good intentions, The Messenger feels that your perspective on the issue and the words you have used have alienated the people you are attempting to help. By using terms like “slave ship” and “Apartheid High” to describe the most racially diverse high school in Seattle, you not only disrespect and belittle the students of Garfield, you also oversimplify the effects of a complex issue the district created in the first place.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sped and the Superintendent

Editor's note; I took out the reference to a "swarm" of people, forgetting that swarm actually implies a large group and that was not my intent.  As well, I had one unpleasant comment saying I was comparing people to insects. Not the case because there are many words used to describe a group. Swarm is one of them.  You can look it up.

end of Editor's note

The Superintendent visited the Special Education SCPTSA last week.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Juneau and HCC Grouping

A thoughtful reader sent me a couple of links around the issue of grouping for highly capable students.

I first want to say - as I have said all along - if the district wants to return all HCC kids to their attendance area schools, that's fine.  As long as they do/understand several things:

Ask a Therapist: Framing Limits for an Adolescent

The South Seattle Emerald is a gem of community media.  I suggest you check in there regularly if you want to know about the issues that south Seattle cares about.

They have a great on-going column - Ask a Therapist.

Restorative Justice: Like Most Education Measure, It Needs Resources to Succeed

There's this phrase - "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" - that I see used quite often when speaking of public education initiatives especially in defense of charter schools.  And then, districts, states, the feds plunge on into initiatives, apparently hoping it will all turn out well (see Race to the Top, remember that one?).

This issue, restorative justice, is a very good example. "We've got to do something" -  because student discipline is so skewed towards two groups of students - Special Education students and Black students is the cry from many in leadership.  But the work, the actual work, falls to those in the trenches.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Friday Open Thread

Saw this story via a discussion page at Facebook on Kent School District - in 2017 the ACLU filed this court case against the state of Washington for Special Education students.
ACLU accusing the state of neglecting students with behavioral disabilities. One of the plaintiffs says her 13-year-old son who has bipolar disorder and ADHD has been targeted by teachers and excluded from his classroom.
Speaking of OSPI, OSPI Releases 2018–19 Student Discipline Data

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Yes, I'm Leaving

Some of you might have seen the Board meeting or even been there but others might have heard through the grapevine.

I am leaving Seattle and thus ends this blog as it currently is focused.  It will likely close after Thanksgiving unless there was some breaking news that I think important for readers to be able to talk about and discuss.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tuesday Open Thread

Congrats to the Catherine Blaine girls soccer team for winning the K-8 championship for Section 7AA!

American Indian Heritage Month

Update: Highline Indigenous People's Art Fest

You're invited! The Highline Indigenous Peoples Story, Film & Art Fest will take place on Saturday, November 23 at the Highline Heritage Museum from 11:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Monday, November 18, 2019

A Lot of Seattle Special Education News

Via Facebook:

If your student identifies as 2e, please note and if you can help share that there is:
2e meeting tonight (Monday Night) at Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Liliana Sacarin will be the parent speaker tonight discussing Tomatis & Audio Therapy.

City of Seattle Wants Your Input on Public Safety

Thank you for visiting publicsafetysurvey.org. Through this website, Seattle University administers the citywide Seattle Public Safety Survey. The survey is sponsored by the Community Oriented Policing Services Office, the Seattle Police Foundation, and the Seattle Police Department.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Hmmm, What Should a Volunteer Do?

As many of you know from your own experience, if you volunteer in Seattle Public Schools, you need to go thru a training and then take a test on it.  I think the test may have gotten an update as I came across a parent who was not happy with the answer to one question (see left).

Timeline for Decisions on HCC Dismantle


Here's wording from a parent group coalescing  around the topic of revision of HCC.

Parents Surrender: Is That Juneau's Message?

In the past, many superintendents have used the term "laser-focused" but Superintendent Denise Juneau is about the only one who really walks the talk on that term.  

But I see signs that there seems to be a parallel, less articulated agenda with the Superintendent and the Strategic Plan.  Let's examine the evidence.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

Watch Out for Talking with the Times on HCC

HCC or probably any other topic.

The last several years have seen the Times skew their writing on public education.  Whether it's because part of their writing is funded by the Gates Foundation (and the Times clutches its pearls if you even suggest that the Foundation gives them guidance on what to write and how to write) and/or input from the Editorial Board, I don't know.

What I do see is a steady decline of balanced reporting and it's troubling.

Friday Open Thread

I restored the comment function so go ahead and comment on any post that is open.

From the shooting yesterday at a high school in California via ABC News:
"I should have never had to treat a gunshot wound as a choir teacher," said Holt. "And there's something really wrong and something has to change, 'cause I held a bleeding child today in a room with 40 sobbing children."

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thoughts on Garfield and HCC from One Student

As you may recall, there is a book out by a Garfield student who is bi-racial and transmasculine about their experience at Garfield.  The author's name is Azure Savage.  The name of the book is You Failed Us: Students of Color Talk Seattle Schools.

There was an author event at Elliott Bay Books tonight and some interesting, illuminating tweets from it via a reporter at the Seattle Times.  Savage was interviewed by writer/editor Marcus Green.

School Shooting at California High School: One Dead

Update: there are now two high school students who have died in this incident.  The shooter killed himself.  Yesterday was his 16th birthday. 

From the New York Times:

Not that details are not important but there are key facts in this story about the whole picture of guns and school safety in our country.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva of Los Angeles County told NBC in Los Angeles that all of the victims were students and that the gunman was also a member of the student body.
Please send a prayer or comforting karma to all the students at Saugus High School.

Native Education Parent Advisory Committee Meeting Tonight


Seattle Public Schools Native Education Title Vl, Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) Meeting from 6-6:30 pm.

UW Reading Study

What's Happening in SPS High Schools with Drugs/Alcohol?

From Forgetful,
I'm curious (concerned) about drug and alcohol use among SPS high schoolers.
Kiddo tells me that kids have passed around alcohol at school, are sometimes buzzed in class (says teachers don't notice or don't care), drugs are easily available, and juuling is rampant. This isn't even touching on what happens out of school hours/parties etc.
There have been some deaths publicized but thats just the tip of the iceberg. I really don't know what to make of it. I mean i expect some experimentation in the teenage years but not really during school hours and not to such an extent.
What do other folks hear? Is it as bad as I'm lead to believe? How do kids/families navigate this? I mean we talk about it with kiddo and obviously discourage it but feels like its an uphill battle when it considered cool to do it and its so widespread.
What is SPS doing to address this?

PTA Fundraising and Spending; Let's Talk

A really informative article from The Atlantic on PTA fundraising.  Wonder if the new Board make-up, what with a former president of the SCPTSA and a former SCPTSA Board member, might have the courage to tackle this one.  But there is not just an "opportunity gap" but this:
A 2017 report from the left-leaning Center for American Progress found that of the roughly $425 million that America’s PTAs collectively raise each year, about a tenth is spent at schools attended by just one-tenth of 1 percent of the country’s students.
I also note that the district loves the money that flows into the district from PTAs because it certainly helps their bottom line.  Does the state fund education so that each teacher is not going into their own pocket to have the supplies/resources they need? No and neither does the district in turn.

No More Overnight Comments

Dear Readers,

Tired of troll-like remarks and spam in the comments section? Me, too.

I'm going to shut down all comments after 10 pm until about 9 am the next morning. 

This has to be done manually, which is tedious, but I generally only have two-three posts open at a time so it is doable.

I have turned comments back on for the Tuesday Open Thread.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Tuesday Open Thread

In very good news for the families whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary school, the Supreme Court today decided that the families' lawsuit against the gun manufacturer, Remington, can go forward.  From NPR:

Monday, November 11, 2019

Stand Up for Student Data Privacy

Don't let the feds do to COPPA what they did to FERPA.  Is your child's information for sale to the highest bidder? I hope not.

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a law created to protect the privacy of children under 13.  
From the Missouri Watchdog blog:

The Federal Trade Commission is considering several changes to this law that protects children’s online information.  The FTC is accepting comments from the public, deadline December 9, 2019. 

Thank You Veterans!

Image result for veterans day image
Thank you to all the veterans in Seattle Public Schools - staff or parents or past students.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

The Return of Moss Adams to SPS

Who is Moss Adams?  I'll let them tell you:
Moss Adams is a fully integrated professional services firm dedicated to assisting clients with growing, managing, and protecting prosperity.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Rules of the Road

Some of you must be new.

Lincoln High School, Thoughts?

Some readers wanted to share thoughts on the opening of Lincoln High School.  The comments below are the opening ones.  (I note that two Lincoln High students made remarks at the beginning of the school board meeting on Wednesday.   I was very impressed.  They noted several clubs especially around minorities and LGBTQ and that since their school was largely white, they want more literature from writers of color.

Also to note, there is a very active Lincoln High Facebook page.

Good News in Seattle Schools

Tell us a good news story from your SPS community, big or small.

And go Sounders!

And go Hawks!

Friday Open Thread

From Crosscut, WA state is having trouble finding enough Special Education teachers.

SPS Suing Vaping Company

Seattle Public Schools files lawsuit against vaping company Juul. From KOMO:

Thursday, November 07, 2019

On Washington Middle School; Why That School?

I did not attend last night's Board meeting but it sounded lively.  (I had a ticket to hear Anita Hill speak and to the entire audience's great pleasure, Christine Blasey Ford introduced her. Powerful stuff to hear from both of them.)

I heard from tweets that the discussion around Washington Middle School, HCC and STEMbyTAF was over an hour long.  And Geary's amendment to somehow bypass the SAP to put in that program went down.

And it is very hard on TAF because they do have a good model and yet the district hasn't had a meeting for them with Gen Ed parents? What?

Focus Groups for Parents of Color for Advanced Learning and Enrichment Opportunities for Children of Color

From UW's Robinson Center and Families of Color Seattle (FOCS):

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Hampson Fast to Show Her Stance

As many may recall, former SCPTSA president (and all-around loudmouth) Sebrena Burr had many, many words to say at the last Board meeting, including name-calling me.

And now, at her Facebook page (again, who are these people that leave their Facebook pages open?), she says talks about the Board members, calling some out as "racist" AND Hampson hearted the entire thing. (This was sent to me; I didn't go looking.)

Wednesday Open Thread

Odd little thing.  After Brandon Hersey took the oath of office, there was a group photo for the Board taken. But yet, at the SPS website, they only have a photo of kids. Waiting for new members? Maybe but why not use the photo with Hersey and the rest of the current Board?

Great story from KUOW about Nova High School. I can't say it enough - Nova saves lives.

Special Education News

Dyslexia event tomorrow, November 7th at Green Lake Library from 11:30-2pm

Monday, November 04, 2019

Who Will Win? (Part Two)

Update, Tuesday 3:35 pm - Just listened to KUOW's reporting on races today and what King County Elections knows.  Apparently some ballot boxes are filling up fast (they named one in Ballard) and they have sent drivers out sooner to make sure voters can get their ballot in the boxes.

They said that because of what looks like a last-minute rush, that the ballots they count at 8pm will ONLY be the early ones already received and likely ONLY half of what they believe they will receive.

end of update

Now I'll tell you how I think the school board races for Seattle Schools will come out.

Who Will Win?

Betcha thought I meant the school board races but no.

Primarily the question is will Superintendent Juneau win on her full-court press to break apart HCC. (And she played college basketball so I'll assume she's good at it.)

Geary Pushing Change in SAP...for Washington Middle School

Some directors, on their way out the door when they don't run again, try for a big flourish action. Usually, it's something like renaming a school in honor of a community member.

Director Jill Geary is doing something else that I don't even think is legal under Board policy, no less passing the sniff test.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

NAEP, Part Two

My first thread explained how the results from the 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress were flat and not inspiring.  The key takeaway - aside from not much improvement - is that the gap between students at the top and those at the bottom is growing (even as those at the bottom are doing better).

Let's see reactions from other public education outlets, keeping in mind that Bill Gates led many reforms like Common Core and Race to the Top.

National Assessment of Educational Progress Scores Out

Or, as they are referred to in shorthand, NAEP.   Frequently called "the nation's report card," they are a snapshot of a set of students in 4th and 8th grades for reading and math in public schools in the U.S.  The scores are mostly flat with a continuing gap between white/Asian students and non-Asian students of color. 
Approximately 296,900 students across the nation participated in the 2019 mathematics assessment. 
Washington State scores were among those that remained mostly flat.

From the NAEP blog:

District Getting Tough on Non-Vaccinated Students

From KUOW:
Seattle Public Schools said it is missing immunization records for about one in ten students.
The district sent letters to about 5,700 students’ families Oct. 28th notifying them that they will be barred from school beginning Jan. 8th if they still lack proof of the required immunizations, exemptions, or evidence that they are in the process of getting vaccinated.

Advanced Learning Survey

In case anyone missed this in the Advanced Learning Updates, there's an AL survey out there.
The Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Advanced Learning Task Force (ALTF) is interested in hearing from families about their experiences with Advanced Learning in SPS. This survey is specifically focused on students identified as Highly Capable (HC). Please complete the following survey using the following link:
However, there is nothing at the AL page or the AL Task Force page so I asked Kari Hanson. Here’s what I was told:
This survey is for students. And a “sub-group working at the behest of the ALTF are (sic) the owners of the survey.  So it's an ALTF survey but the district gives no system-wide notice of it? Gee, almost as if they want to discourage participation and then, discount any findings.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Jill and Tracy Have a Talk

Because this is an easy post to write on a Saturday night, I thought I'd dash it off.

Jill would be director Jill Geary and Tracy is, well, Castro-Gill.

Now Castro-Gill says at her blog that she's "tenacious" and has this tough girl stance.  And, of course, verbally, even more so.

But the conversation she had at her Facebook page, pleading with Director Geary to create a policy to protect her and others in the district doing "anti-racist work" was then kinda confusing.

The Long-Awaited Data on "Honors for All"

Actually, Honors for All is the wrong nomenclature.  It's now called, "Integrated Honors."

I read it and while I am a fan of Eric Anderson, the Director of Research & Evaluation, I am not a fan of this document.

While the document acknowledges that there isn't near enough data to make it conclusion, it seems promising.  Kind of.

I don't have time to do a full thread on it but I thought it might be of interest to many readers.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Why Districts Don't Do Better By Special Education Students

I ask this question as a Sultan School Board member, Ed Husmann, was involved with this interchange about Special Education students (from KING-5):
Chairman: "We're required to educate these students."
Husmann: "But then maybe they're not educatable."
Chairman: "We have to educate every student that's brought to our school, required by law."
Husmann: "Some kids are uneducatable."
Chairman: "That has nothing to do with it."

Friday Open Thread

Good luck to teachers, administrators and school staff this day after Halloween.

So many stories to cover but coming soon:
- dyslexia
- NAEP scores (and Common Core and Bill Gates speaks)
- Facial recognition and other tracking in classrooms, very scary stuff

PEMCO is putting on a "Safety Surge" event which is an emergency preparedness event at Rising Star Elementary and Bailey Gatzert Elementary on Tuesday, November 5. 
Students in grades 3 through 5 will learn preparedness tactics and emotional coping skills that could keep them safe during a crisis situation, including home fires, winter storms and earthquakes.

The Safety Surge will demonstrate actionable steps that students can take to react confidently in an emergency situation. Through interactive presentations led by PEMCO employees, students will also learn valuable coping skills and preparedness tactics through the American Red Cross Pillowcase Project curriculum. 
I hope to go to one of the schools to check this event out.  This is important work that can save lives. 

To put on your calendar, SPS' LGBTQ Families Annual Dinner:
Join us for the annual LGBTQ Families Dinner on Thurs., Nov. 14 from 6 until 8 p.m. at Meany Middle School. Members of district leadership will be there to welcome LGBTQ families and their friends. All Seattle Public Schools families and staff are welcome to attend our community-building event!
This event is brought to you by the Health Education Office. Dinner and entertainment will be provided.
Seattle Schools has been mum on this topic but other districts are not waiting any longer to notify parents that their children will not be allowed in school without mandated vaccinations.  From the Everett Herald:
The Edmonds School District plans to exclude up to 222 students Friday for being out of compliance. In the Everett School District, as many as 458 elementary and secondary students could be kept off campuses starting Monday. 

Both districts have called and sent warning letters to parents of those students. That’s in addition to notices sent more than a month ago. Officials think the actual number of exclusions will drop as parents look to comply, knowing their child will not be allowed back into school until they do.

A student is considered out of compliance if they are not fully immunized for their age against illnesses, not in “conditional” status and does not have a valid exemption.

While state law mandates schools exclude students, no agency is tasked with making sure that happens. It’s left up to the districts, which explains the different timelines and approaches. 
Oh look, that lawsuit against a parent who opposed a district's adoption of a math curriculum got dropped. No surprise to me.
The provider of Wake County’s controversial high school math curriculum had dropped its lawsuit against a Cary parent who is leading the fight to get the program dropped from the district’s schools.

The Mathematics Vision Project had filed a lawsuit in July in a Utah state court accusing Blain Dillard of making false and defamatory statements about the MVP Math program that the company says harmed its business. Dillard had responded with his own countersuit, charging that MVP was trying to chill free speech rights.

In a joint settlement released Tuesday, both parties said that they had agreed to dismiss their lawsuits.
“Resolution of the parties’ dispute involves no restriction or limitation on the ability of either MVP or Mr. Dillard to speak and comment publicly about math curricula and other issues of public concern to the educational community,” according to the joint statement.
What's on your mind?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Conversation about HCC (Let's Listen In)

Now to the conversation last weekend at the Central Area Residents Against Violence Facebook page about HCC.  I am teasing out parts of the conversation but you can go to the page and read everything.

Updates on Advanced Learning

The information I present comes from several sources.  One of them is a member of the Advanced Learning Task Force, Kari O'Driscoll.  (I'll just state that when I was on the Closure and Consolidation Committee, we were warned NOT to talk about our work and allow the designated folks on the Committee, the chairs, to make all public comments. But that was ages ago - maybe service on a taskforce or committee has changed since then.)

It appears that Superintendent Juneau and staff are forging straight ahead with changes to HCC without waiting for the recommendations from the Advanced Learning Taskforce or Board approval.  Actually, I don’t think they need the Board’s approval but letting the Board know there are changes being made BEFORE they enact them would be a professional courtesy.

Evidence (phrasing in red indicates findings)

Happy Halloween!

A reminder: if you have to drive tonight, please be extra careful and look out for trick-or-treaters.

Image result for happy halloween image

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Rankin and Hampson Dismiss SEAMEC Ratings

This came up in a different post today:
LGBTQ Dad said...

As a father of a LGBTQ child, it saddens me to see Rankin supporters laughing at SEAMEC's candidate ratings on the SPS Community facebook page (formerly Soup for Teachers).

Yet Another Seattle School Struggles with Racist Talk

From the West Seattle Blog via a reader tip:
West Seattle High School principal Brian Vance has disclosed that students have been disciplined for use of “racist language and symbols.” Multiple recipients forwarded us this letter he sent to families last night:

Yet Another Seattle School Struggles With a Principal

Update: apparently this is a draft.  End of update

This time it's Loyal Heights and their PTA is fighting back.  They are organizing to get signatures for a petition and they are asking for documentation from parents about issues they may personally have had with the principal, Geri Guerrero.

Tuesday Open Thread

National College Fair this weekend at the Washington State Convention Center:
Friday from 9 am-noon
Saturday from noon to 4 pm

On Elections and Candidates

Just a heads up on a candidate for King County Council - Girmay Zahilay - who is challenging incumbent Larry Gossett.  I have talked with Mr. Zahilay who is all the things you might want for the Council.  I have found Gossett to be equally compelling so I don't envy those who are voting for that race.

However, I did find out that Mr. Zahilay served on a charter school board in NYC, starting sometime in 2017.  It's unclear to me if he still serves (I would think not).

As well, in a photo at Crosscut, he is joined in a photo with former school board candidate Omar Vasquez as well as Dexter Tang, both local ed reformers.   This information certainly gives me pause and I wish I had learned it sooner because I would have asked Zahilay about it when I spoke with him.  I do have a message out to him.

The ratings for candidates, including for Seattle School Board, are out from SEAMEC.

Monday, October 28, 2019

This and That

An excellent op-ed from Jordan Cahoon, a senior at Kent-Meridian High School, on how we talk about individual schools and the effects of a school's reputation on the students enrolled there.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Hazel Wolf K-8 Struggles with Racial Slurs

The story was from the Seattle Times about students at Hazel Wolf K-8 having a protest over the lack of action from their administration on the use of racial slurs. What the Times writes versus what some of the comments - which seem to be from PTSA/staff - are quite different.  As in most of these cases, there are two items to remember.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Times Weighs in on NE Seattle School Board Races

I’m not sure you can have a bigger contrast between the Seattle Times’ article about the Board race between Leslie Harris and Molly Mitchell versus this article about the other two races, both in the northend.  The Times is a lot more even-handed here and that’s what you should expect in this kind of article (unless one candidate is severely deficient in skills).

Oakland Unified School District - Making Progess for AA Males

Oakland Unified School District is the first district that I know of that uses targeted universalism (and has for seven years).

Friday Open Thread

Update: the district announced today - via Twitter - that Franklin High School is now 1:1 for computers in the school.  The district plans to be 1:1 at high schools with higher levels of F/RL first and then start with 9th graders at the other high schools, with the eventual goal of all high school being 1:1 for all students.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Seattle Times Skewed Reporting (Again)

Readers alerted me to the latest story from the Times' so-called Education Lab.  (Currently, the Gates Foundation is paying to seemingly get the Times to write about what the Foundation wants them to. They sent one reporter to Australia to look at a program for homeless youth in schools. Nice work if you can get it.)

I want to first put forth my thesis on what is happening.

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Alliance of Black School Educators Candidate Forum for Seattle School Board

Two Great School Concerts This Week

Editor's note - The Roosevelt HS concert info was sent to me and the Garfield HS concert info was in a reader comment.  I cannot find info at the SPS website or Garfield's webpage.  Two high schools have concerts with the Seattle Symphony and the district can't advertise it?

Monday, October 21, 2019

On Remarking on Seattle School Board Candidates

I know that when we get this point, where the General Election is on the horizon and readers have passion for/against candidates, people then want to push harder.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Got Ballot? District 6

We need to reelect Leslie Harris, the incumbent and not elect her challenger, Molly Mitchell.

Got Ballot - District 3

District 3 is a bit of a challenge for me; not the most solid/best choices in this race between Rebeca Muñiz and Chandra Hampson.

I'm voting for Rebeca Muñiz in this race.

Got Ballot? District 1

Update: see the bottom of this post.

I received my ballot just this week; I believe everyone registered to vote should be getting theirs soon.  I'll have a post for each race.

District 1 - Eric Blumhagen

Friday, October 18, 2019

Cell Phones in Seattle Schools: Away for the Day or Away We Go?

KUOW had this story a couple of weeks back:

Looking at the Strategic Plan

The district has a slightly new look at their website.  There's a little human figure on the left side that if you click on it, brings up an accessibility menu.

On the other side, there's a "Contact Us" link. It allows you to send a concern/compliment/query to staff (apparently anonymously if you want).  I am not sure if either are truly live but the "Contact Us" link's phone number is 123-456-7890 so probably not.

There is also their Strategic Plan page which reveals a couple of ideas that I didn't know about the plan. (It's also gives you a chance to look at the new slogan and logo for SPS.)

Friday Open Thread

Here's an article from the Wenatchee World about dual-language programs in their schools.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tuesday Open Thread

From My Northwest: Good News: Washington Youth have Fifth lowest Obesity rate in the U.S.
Bad News: Washington youth between 10-17 are at an 11% obesity rate.  

Board Agenda for Wednesday, October 16th

I know.

I know I said I wasn't going to do this but I had checked in at the district webpage for updates and was browsing the agenda for this week's board meeting.  I lay it out below but this isn't even all of it. I wish someone would pick up the reins just on Board meetings because I think the pace of change is going to pick up.

From the Board's agenda for Wednesday night's Board meeting, their legislative priorities:

Weigh in on New High School Graduation Requirements

You have about two weeks to weigh in at the State Board of Education on new graduation requirements. From the Seattle Times:

Monday, October 14, 2019

Voting for Seattle School Board Candidates

Update: Can't make the Tuesday candidate forum?  There's another one on Thursday, October 17th at North Beach Elementary from 6:30-8:00 pm.

Brave New World for Kids

I have often said, "I sure would not want to be raising a child right now."  It is a very different world than even 10 years ago and so much to watch out for without being a helicopter parent.  Kids absolutely need to know how to monitor their world and take hard (for their age) hits and get back up.  Meaning, you are there to always have that blanket of love and acceptance but your child needs to know how to put on their own coat of resilience AND zip it up.

The New York Times had two important parenting articles and both are issues I have raised before.

Friday, October 11, 2019

New Director of Racial Equity Advancement for SPS

I'm not sure it has been officially announced but a source tells me that Manal Al-ansi will be the new Director of Racial Equity Advancement.

Friday Open Thread

In case you hadn't heard, there will be several traffic issues this weekend in the Puget Sound region so keep that in mind as you are out and about.

The Burke Museum - in its new building - reopens tomorrow.  It will probably be mobbed but I'd like to eventually see it. I'm sure any field trips to it would be exciting for students.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Seattle Time's Westneat Speaks Out on Advanced Learning/HCC

Update: Superintendent Juneau issued a statement yesterday about the majority vote of the Curriculum & Instruction committee to not move forward to the full Board the changes to Policy 2190 about Advanced Learning.  I myself have not often seen a superintendent issue any kind of statement on Board committee decisions; I find it odd.  From the statement:

The Times on Math and Ethnic Studies

Like many times when SPS either tried to roll something out without clear communication OR when something gets out too soon and the district has to rush to explain, the Math rubric for Ethnic Studies is one of them.  And that brings us to the Seattle Times' story on that issue.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Tuesday Open Thread

The district finallly put up a public notice about the rash of overdose deaths from pills laced with fentanyl by several teens in the Puget Sound region including one at Ballard High School.   Several surprises (at least to me). I am surprised at the amount of time it took.  I am surprised that it didn’t get “above the fold” location on the district website for at least a couple of days.  I am surprised at the seeming lack of urgency in that notice.  School board directors? Might want to tell the Superintendent that her pet projects don’t supercede student safety.  (Editor’s note: I don’t know how I missed it - and I checked but readers say they saw the notice more promeniently placed. I stand by the lack of urgency in the district notice; maybe the one to parents was stronger.)

From OSPI on parents’ rights to view the results of their child’s state test scores.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

WA State Charter Schools to Benefit from DeVos Largesse

The Seattle Times has a story about how Washington State charter schools are eligible to apply for dollars from a $20M grant that the Washington State Charter School Association will receive from the Department of Education.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Important Curriculum & Instruction Meeting Coming Up about HCC

Update: fyi, I will not be at this meeting.  But if you go, take notes, take video (upload to YouTube) and let us know your thoughts.  I’m thinking they will likely move the meeting to the auditorium as the Board conference room can fill up fast.

End of update

At next Tuesday’s Curriculum&Instruction committee meeting, a policy change around HCC is going to be introduced (and likely pushed by) Chair Jill Geary.  The meeting is in the Board conference room, starting at 4:00pm, instead of the usual 4:30 pm.  Agenda here.   Looking at the agenda, I would say the topic would come up around 4:30 pm; however, sometimes items get pushed to the top for various reasons.

The Advanced Learning Taskforce hasn’t even made its recommendations and word is that members of color do want to keep the cohort model.

Friday, October 04, 2019

What Tracy and Her Pals Think of You and This Blog

I say this so much but many people do NOT read for content; rather, they pick out bits that suit their personal narrative and think they understand a topic or what others are saying.

Friday Open Thread

Looks like staff at the top levels at JSCEE are shifting.  

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Heads Up Parents on Drugs That May Be Circulating

From Facebook:
Make sure your kids know not to take Rx pills not prescribed to them (no matter the circumstances). 

I'm an addiction researcher at the UW and we are seeing some deaths among teenagers in King County taking fake Rx pills that are actually fentanyl.
From Public Health Insider:

Two Videos of Note

The first is this one from NE Dad:

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm

  • How come Superintendent Juneau demoted Principal Emily Butler Ginolfi out of Washington Middle School and made it clear that EGB would be an assistant principal at lower pay and then reversed that by appointing EGB to Licton Springs K-8? 

Tuesday Open Thread

Wishing a good and sweet year during Rosh Hashanah to all our Jewish friends and neighbors.  (I see that many images for Rosh Hashanah include pots of honey.  That makes me smile as my name means honeybee in Greek.  Although, as I learned when I visited Greece, they don't use it as a girl's name.)

Monday, September 30, 2019

School Board Candidate News

There's an upcoming candidate forum that includes School Board candidates.

This and That

They had some kind of scare on a Longview School District schoolbus; the driver was allegedly drunk.  And yes, thank goodness one kid had a cell phone and called 911.

In the Board race for District 1, the Seattle Times has endorsed Eric Blumhagen for the post.

Director DeWolf Speaks

There's an interview at the Capitol Hill Blog with Director Zachary DeWolf and it's so him.  (Also, I have to laugh at how both he and the Superintendent like to have me as "she who will not be named" and call me "a blogger."

And hey! he's writing a children's book. 

I'll let you read the piece (hoping that parents in his region don't roll their eyes too much as he seems to think all is well) but here's my comment.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Devastating Video on School Safety

Watch this frightening, stunning video created by Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-violence nonprofit founded by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.  Is this what we want for our kids when they are at school?

The ad reflects a grim reality for the network of survivors from the more than 228,000 students who have experienced a school shooting since the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

District Bus with Sped Preschoolers Hits a Car

First Nutrition services and now (still) Transportation.  I cannot imagine the fear that both kids and parents felt about this situation.  The district must do better.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Being Judgemental

Update: Somehow I forgot what was the main reason I wrote this thread. Because it's not about me, it's about a lot of other people.  At the end of her Facebook post about me, she said this:

Also, POC were talking about who was sitting with and talking to #WestbrookSoRacist last night. We see you. 

That "last night" was September 18th and I was at the Board meeting where the vote for the D7 director was being taken.  I was sitting at the media table.  Know who was sitting with me? Two women of color.  Who are reporters.  And that's where we all sit.  They are colleagues but not friends. 

Free Entrance at National and State Parks on Saturday

Great news for your weekend - the national parks are free tomorrow, Saturday the 28th for National Public Lands Day and the state of Washington has decided that their parks will also be free on Saturday as well.

If You See Something, Say Something, Please

Via the City of Covington's Facebook page - please, if you see something that doesn't seem right, say something. Please tell your child it is not tattling or snitching; it's doing the right thing.

Change at Washington Middle School Moving Along

But it begs the question - what about input from Washington Middle School parents and community?

Here's the email I sent to Tim Robinson who is my contact for SPS Communications.  I did cc the email to the Board in case they hadn't heard about this.
Hi Tim,

I have seen credible emails saying that Washington Middle Schools teachers are to take a vote on Monday about WMS changing to the STEM by TAF model.

Friday Open Thread

To all the SPS Civics/History teachers I say - may you teach in interesting times.  Your students have a front seat to view all the truly dramatic history that is currently unfolding in our country.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Yoo Hoo, Seattle School Board - Here's the 411

Dear Directors,

As the late, great Anthony Bourdain said on Top Chef, "What kind of crack house are you running here?"

Naturally, that is some measure of hyperbole and yes, I know, you are running nothing.

However, your job is oversight.  And frankly, I think you are doing a piss-poor job on oversight (except, of course, for Director Hersey who just got here).

Here's a few suggestions for improvement:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Do Not Challenge People on Their Racial Background

In case you missed it - do NOT ever, under any circumstances, challenge anyone here on their racial background and/or upbringing in a minority-based community.

I don't know what part of that a few of you don't get, but whether you use names or not, don't do it.

2019-2020 High School Enrollment Issues, Continued

Two items came across my desk about the district's high school enrollment projects for this school year and how many of the comprehensive high schools have experienced problems because of it.

Tuesday Open Thread

Over in Bellevue, a debate club student is suing Bellevue School District because they barred him from possibly competing at a national debate event over him challenging the outcome of the debate club's elections. Reading the story, I'm not sure that BSD made the right call and now they have a court case on their hands.  From the Seattle Times:

Seattle Special Education PTSA Meeting Tonight

Monday, September 23, 2019

Future Candidates, Please Help Yourselves

I read the op-ed by Emijah Smith at the South Seattle Emerald about her not getting the D7 appointment. She doesn’t directly say that the Board itself was being unfair but that the timing of the stories about her legal issues in relation to the vote seemed unfair. I know that those outlets had this information; why they waited until the day before the vote  to file them is a mystery.

Advanced Learning Discussion

Update: I truly have never seen people so unwilling to own their statements.  I am removing all commenters names. You can certainly seek them out on Facebook.

Eye roll.

end of update

The deadline for applying for Advanced Learning services was to be today but there is this from the district:

STEM Program for Girls

Editor's Note: I'll be turning commenting on for this post and the ones thereafter.

Here's info on a great STEM program for girls. 
Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) is a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) enrichment program for 7th and 8th grade girls currently attending a Seattle public school. The goal of the program is to encourage girls to maintain and broaden their interest in STEM topics by providing hands-on activities, mentoring, field trips, and information about a variety of fields.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Juneau Seems Irritated by City over Climate Strike

Superintendent Juneau does not appear amused.  This from the Seattle Times.

I don’t have time to find it right now but it appears that when Juneau served as state superintendent of public education in Montana, she was part of a group of electeds that upheld a vote for an oil drilling line to go ahead.

Thank you to Businesses Supporting Seattle Public Schools’ Students


Tell the Board (and Turning off Commenting)

Editor's note: I have to go to a funeral for a family member and I will be unable to moderate the blog thru the weekend.  And unfortunately, because of some rude and crude readers who cannot stop themselves from being ill-mannered and racist, I am shutting down all comments.  I'm sorry but I can't allow disgusting comments to sit until I am able to moderate again.  So, this is my solution. 

Signs of issues both currently and coming.  

I urge you to write to the Board or go to community meetings with individual directors and tell them you want answers.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

On 2019-2020 Enrollment Totals

JoLynn Berge gave the following report at the Board meeting tonight:

- The district is at about 900 students more than projected overall.
- They believe the October 1 count will be about 53,151 students. This will be slightly above last school year’s count.
- They were 1.7% off their calculations.
- They are adding about 47 FTE across 104 schools (not including mitigation).
- They are “moving” FTE for two Option elementaries and one Option middle school.
- “Principals are thankful we are adding FTE instead of pulling.” Berge said principals want “flexibility” and rather than adding staff may ask for the dollars as long as they meet their K-3 ratios.

The Superintendent said it was impressive that a district of this size was 98% accurate.

Brandon Hersey is new D7 Director

The vote was 4-2 with Geary and Pinkham voting for Emijah Smith.

I’ll post more on what was said later.

Changing How Jazz Bands Work in the Central District

 Contact: Arlene Fairfield, 206-898-8795 or jazzupjacksonstreet@gmail.com
Increasing equity and demographic representation in Seattle Public Schools’ music programs in the Central District is a priority. See the attached release and event notice to kick-off this effort as part of the Earshot Festival line-up to benefit the music programs at Garfield HS, Washington MS and many of the pipeline elementary schools in the Central District. 
The schools are teaming up Earshot to put on Jazz Up Jackson Street, a one-night jazz blowout featuring star alumni musicians (list available upon request) and future jazz legends. An important aspect of this work is to support access and equity and create more diverse demographic representation in music programs at our schools.
Media release:


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Climate Strike: SPS Says No Excused Absences if Students Walk Out

Today on KUOW's The Record, Superintendent Juneau was asked about SPS students who might want to join the Friday walkout for climate change.  She was totally supportive of young activists and noted many in Seattle Schools.

The Times on D7 Finalists

Update: here is KUOW's story on Emijah Smith.

Tuesday Open Thread

There was a Seattle School Board candidate forum last night at the senior living home, Horizon House.  I'll have a separate thread as there were some notable statements made.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Amplify Lawsuit Updates

Update: Emily Cherkin is hosting an info session about the Amplify story on Sunday, September 22nd from 3-5 pm. Special guest will be former Ballard science teacher (and all-around good guy), Eric Muhs.  Contact her at emilycherkin@gmail.com

Amplify updates (from various sources):

Saturday, September 14, 2019

On Who Speaks for a School Community

 I recall that at the last Board meeting, there were two issues raised during public testimony about the (now-called) Rising Star Elementary (formerly Van Asselt at AAA building).

Thursday, September 12, 2019

School Board Candidate Updates

Update: the agenda for the Board meeting is up.  It indicates that the vote for D7 will take place almost immediately and then the oath of office will be given to the selected candidate.

I'm sure the new director will sit up on dais but I'm hoping that he/she doesn't vote on anything.  There is no way ANY of the three is ready to take a vote.

end of update

Last night the 34th Dems had their endorsement meeting for the general election.  (They had previously endorsed incumbent Leslie Harris during their primary endorsements.)  At last night's event they gave their sole endorsement to Eric Blumhagen for District 1 and Rebeca Muniz for District 3.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Suicide Prevention Day

From OSPI via Twitter:

Tuesday Open Thread

Today is the only day that you may submit questions to possibly be included for the final D7 forum to be held tomorrow night at 6 pm at Rainier Beach High School. 

Sunday, September 08, 2019

UW Public Lecture Series

UW's Graduate School Public Lecture schedule came out recently and it has, as usual, some great offerings.  Most of the lectures are free but require pre-registration.  Registration for most events started on September 11th.  (You can go without pre-registrating but many events sell out so if you don't register, you probably won't be admitted.)

Here are the lectures related to topics in public education.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Sad News (and Please Talk to Your Children)

I have learned that an Ingraham student died before school started from an accidental overdose Apparently the student thought he had bought one drug but it also may have been laced with fentanyl.  Principal Floe is sending out a letter to the school community.

As well, there have been a spate of young people with breathing problems from the use of street Jule product who are streaming into hospitals across the country. From PBS:

Friday Open Thread

As you may be aware, Sound Transit officers were on transit on the first day of school and rather than doing the right thing, decided they had to be tough and asked to see tickets. Many students didn't get their Orca card in time to get them.  The students were verbally warning but not ticketed.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

D7 Updates

The Board has certainly picked a plodding path to finding the District 7 replacement for former director Betty Patu.  The first forum - for all the candidates - was nearly three weeks ago and the final one - for the three finalists - is next Wednesday, September 11th at Rainier Beach High School from 6-9 pm.

I have so many questions, like:

Stories of HCC

Crosscut has an article about a book that a 17-year-old trans person has written about their experience in HCC.  The book is called, "You Failed Us."

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

How Do You Want Your Child's Teacher to Feel about Your Child?

I ask because it seems like at some education blogs, depending on who is writing, I see a lot of "I want my teacher to love my child" and it always gives me pause.

High School Issues

There was a request for this thread to discuss both high school issues especially around academics as well as around enrollment numbers. Below are some of the comments that started the discussion.

Charter News - State and National

Charter schools in this country reached something of a milestone this year - it's been 25 years since the first one started in Minnesota.  But there is increasing evidence they are either sliding downward and/or stalling out. From the NY Times:

Happy First Day of School!

The Start of a New School Year

As we begin the new school year (15th year for me), I want to say thank you for all the support from the community.  You have made my job easier and more enjoyable.  I love what I do and part of the credit for that goes to all of you.

I know many of you are outraged at the district.  I am outraged at the district also.  However, please know that the teachers here in Seattle are a highly skilled and dedicated group of professionals who take educating your children very seriously.  I appreciate that parents and the community in general see the difference.  We teachers say thank you.

I hope all of you (and your children) have a great year!

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Tuesday Open Thread

The big story this morning is the one from Crosscut about different SPS parents filing violations of civil rights claims and the backlash they have experienced.  I haven’t read through all the links in the story but there certainly are some serious issues here with a concerted group at Thornton Creek bullying a parent (the district admits this), a student at West Seattle High school seemingly being a victim of retaliation over a lawsuit filed by his father about a soccer team issue.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Singin' in the Acid Rain

To start off the new school year, a very funny article that sends up both our planet's pending environmental problems with overly involved parents.  From the New Yorker, Singin' in the Acid Rain.

Public Education Stories

From the Education Writers' Association,Threatened But Still Standing: The Federal Program for After-School, Summer Learning

Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday Open Thread

Last summer weekend before school starts. As a kid, I always felt melancholy about that.  What do you remember?

High School Sports

Two related stories about sports as the school year is just about ready to start.

One is about Colts quarterback Andrew Luck who announced an early retirement.  From the NY Times:

Thursday, August 29, 2019

In How We Talk about Race and Equity

As some of you may know, I have had issues with a small cabal of people who think that loud namecalling and hyperbole can change the landscape around race and equity in this district (state, nation). 

Here's the problem with that - it will not work.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Youth Forum Candidate Voting Results

At the Youth Forum for candidates, including Seattle School Board, at City Hall last Thursday, the audience was invited to vote for candidates on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best.  Here's how the results came out:

OSPI Seeks To Expand Time for Lunch for Elementary Students

From OSPI and State Superintendent Chris Rykdal (bold mine):

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Amount of Recess Time in Seattle Public Schools

Excellent story from KUOW's Ann Dornfeld about recess in Seattle Public Schools.  It  should come as no surprise to anyone that schools that are largely white have more recess time in the day than schools that have largely Black students.

Who Decides?

What is considered "polite and respectful" behavior by students in a classroom?

I saw this question asked in the context of it appearing on the Danielson Framework model and someone asked, "Who decides?"

Tuesday Open Thread

Update:  Roosevelt High's Nevin Harrison is in the news - from NBC Sports:
Nevin Harrison, a 17-year-old from Seattle, became the first American to earn a world championships medal in a sprint canoe event, and it happened to be gold, surprising herself in the 200m in Szeged, Hungary, on Saturday.

Harrison joined Greg Barton as the only Americans to win an individual world title in sprint canoe or kayak. No U.S. woman has earned Olympic gold in any kayak event.

Women’s canoe debuts at the Tokyo Games. If Harrison can repeat the feat in Tokyo next year, she will become the youngest woman to earn Olympic canoe or kayak gold, breaking the record of legendary German Birgit Fischer-Schmidt, whom some consider the greatest female Olympian in history across all sports with 12 medals and eight golds.
Via Twitter from Dick's:

Don’t forget #RoundUP for charity August 26-29th at our Wallingford location! Bring your friends and your family and "round up" the bill. All proceeds will be donated to the newly re-opened Lincoln High School!   

Monday, August 26, 2019

Commentary on Current D7 Status for a New Director

I'll just put a couple of things out there.

1)  I think the Board should call off the last forum and just vote this week so when school starts, D7 has representation and the Board did their job.

2) This process of picking a new rep for D7 is going south.  For people who say this is "their" decision, they Board certainly seems like they are following someone else's lead.

And that there are those in D7 that are still complaining should tell you something.  They were never going to be satisfied.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Seattle School Board Candidate Updates

 Update2: I am being told that the question posed to Lisa Rivera Smith and Emijah Smith was not top three priorities but "what are the top three things you want to accomplish in your time on the Board."  

end of update

Update: I found my notes for the Youth Forum for questioning for D7 (only Emijah Smith as she was the only candidate invited and Lisa Rivera Smith who is the only candidate for Rick Burke's position in D2).

My notes only reflect the answers to a single question (I believe that was all as they needed to move onto Port Commissioners).  The question was - What will be your three priorities as a Board director? 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Seattle Education Association Reaches a Tentative Agreement with SPS

Update from the Seattle Times reporter Dahlia Bazzaz (who possibly has the best name in the world) via Twitter:

Battlelines Part Two

I love Betty Patu for so many things.  Her strength, her tell-it-like it is talk, her ask-the-obvious-elephant-in-the-room questions, and her abiding love of kids.

But Betty wasn't a perfect director (and I haven't quite met one yet but there are a couple of people on the current Board who think come close).  Betty chose to focus almost entirely on her own district.  Her frame was District 7 and what policies/initiatives/boundaries would mean to it.

Many people don't know/don't want to believe it but there are regions in the district but they don't mean directors solely represent only that part of the school district.  Legally, directors have responsibility for the entire district, not just one area.