Friday Open Thread

Via SPS' Twitter feed: Congratulations to Dominic Damon on becoming the first wrestler from an SPS school to win a state title!

I - love - this - kid; show your kids that having a talent, any talent, is something to be proud of.  So wonderful.

Yet another kid to love for his incredible talent- show your kids this video as well.

The College Board speaks up on two kinds of code your student should know.
Of all the skills and knowledge that we test young people for that we know are correlated with success in college and in life, which is the most important? Their answer: the ability to master “two codes” — computer science and the U.S. Constitution.

Their short answer was that if you want to be an empowered citizen in our democracy — able to not only navigate society and its institutions but also to improve and shape them, and not just be shaped by them — you need to know how the code of the U.S. Constitution works. And if you want to be an empowered and adaptive worker or artist or writer or scientist or teacher — and be able to shape the world around you, and not just be shaped by it — you need to know how computers work and how to shape them. 
Uh oh, Betsy DeVos in trouble (what else is new)? 
It turns out Betsy DeVos did everything in her power to obstruct investigations into her misdeeds. In her best efforts to get away with misconduct like her boss, Donald Trump, she clearly broke the law. “Lawmakers from four House and Senate committees who oversee the department sent a letter to DeVos on Tuesday, suggesting that the effort to replace the department’s acting Inspector General.”
Grrrr. Body shaming at a cheerleading awards dinner? In 2019? Sure
None of the cheerleaders who received the awards were available for comment to The New York Times, but a current cheerleader said in an interview that the girls went along with the jokes because, “What else were they supposed to do?”

“It skywrites that the person giving out the award is objectifying the teenage girl’s body, and isn’t seeing her as a whole person or an athlete but someone to be measured and rated based on appearance,” she said. 
After active shooter training, a teacher tweeted out steps to take, starting with:

Some of what she was taught, I didn't know and it's helpful.  I stress that most of this is for adults, not kids.  As someone who is in a classroom a couple of times a week, I think about how I would protect the students and, based on the configuration of the classroom, I have a plan on how a shooter could be cut off.  Not sure if it would work but better than just cowering in a corner.  As the tweets point out, trying to disrupt any shooter's plan could be a game changer in this kind of situation.

Director community meeting on Saturday with Director Betty Patu at Raconteur, 5041 Wilson Ave S, from 9-11 am. 

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
It's almost time to flush the school board of the non effective class of 2015, so many promises so little action.

Wait maybe I'm being too critical, so can anyone tell me what the class of 2015 accomplished? We had the Democrat insider Harris who blamed all the problems of the board members before her oh and racism, so this time she is the problem. We had Gerry and we all know she's was a joke and tried to jump ship one year unto the gig.

Pinkham he still on the board? You would think not with all the turmoil in the north end especially with REMS/Licton springs.

Then we have Burke , lets get back to learning. Did the district really get back to learning? I think that the HHC folks would say NO!

I can't wait to see the new crop of candidates for 2019. It's going to be a rough ride this time I suspect.

Anonymous said…
Harris seems so angry at parents. It's almost not worth approaching her.

Voter, I would say that you seem to have your own biases (as we all do).

First, define effective. What did you want to see change/have happen?

Second, Harris has worked very hard and is a great Board president.

Third, Geary has not been what I expected either but she's not staying on the Board.

Fourth, Pickham has taken awhile to get his sea legs but I think he's doing well. That he chooses to not jump into the REMS/Licton Springs issues is a choice you make as a Board member (remember the "micromanaging"?) I think it would make sense for him to speak up.

Fifth, Rick Burke is probably the smartest and most effective Board members we've had in a long time. I hope he runs again.

I'm hearing that besides Geary, at least one other member might not run in the fall. Naturally, there might be challengers for all seats and I think Voter has it right; it may be rough. I note that it appears that there's some Gates-funded group that may try to put forth candidates.

Parent, Harris seems angry at parents? Could you be more specific? What parents, where and when?
Anonymous said…
There is some kind of new group (not incorporated, not chartered by the school district) that has started sending guest speakers to PTA's. It's called FACES ( The speakers are supposed to explain how an equity fund would work, which they want to run, specifically to target PTA funding disparities between white students and students of color. Stephan Blanford is on the Advisory Committee. Their website subtly suggests that they want to pursue this idea differently than how they did it successfully in Portland (

Some of the information on the website seems suspect, and I don't know what to make of the involvement of Blanford, but I do know that most PTAs support something like this generally. I'm just not sure if this is the right group of people to anoint themselves.

Equity Funding
Anonymous said…
OMG Pinkham has been MIA in the North End, please Pinkham move on.

I think we should consider doing away with the school board and move to a system where voters elect the administrators. The administrators run the district not the board.

It just makes more sense to elect the superintendent and a few other administrators then the folks you see cycle after cycle sit on that dam dais.

The 7 directors just dilute responsibility and yes this district need a few decades of micromanaging.

If I have endure more years of board members sitting at the dais thanking each other for showing up I think I will puke.

smoke screen
Harris hates white people it's weird. I've overheard her say how every white person in the district is a racist or posing as a fake activist. She's playing to her base.

Will she do a repeat of 2015 in 2019 where she blames the seated board for all the problems. Funny this time she is the board so I will be sure to show up at all the forums and point that out! Oh and play the audio of her telling all the white parents they are racist.

Anonymous said…
@MW ok I will play, please articulate just how each member has been "effective"

Why don't you "First, define effective."

Go ahead and start with Burke.

--Burke crush
Anonymous said…

Careful what you wish for. This board is one of the strongest boards we've had in a decade, and that's with DeWolf who is an empty chair. Pinkham has been effective behind the scenes, and he really cares about the kids in Seattle, especially in his district. This is something he has in common with Patu, and they are both good listeners, can be persuaded with good data and evidence. I admire and appreciate their heart. Harris is efficient and effective and has her priorities right; she is not ideological. She and Mack are both very good and bringing the board to consensus and building bridges behind the scenes. Burke is good at bridge building, too, but he is also very focused on pragmatic but effective solutions that are evidence-based. He's not afraid to tell parents the truth to their faces. He's a great asset on the board, and I hope he'll continue. Geary has been disappointing. She talks a good game and she understands the politics of the district, but she hasn't been able to build bridges and get things done. She did try to exit after a year, and that's a permanent stain. She holds self-contradictory views on many issues because she is more ideological than others. I would criticize Melissa and others for not endorsing Cooper. We ended up with DeWolf, easily one of the weakest and least competent board members we've had in 15 years, because so many were unwilling to endorse one or the other, and Cooper was clearly the stronger choice. DeWolf looks good on paper, but as we can see now he is not responsive to constituents, he is comfortable passing on lies for ideological ends ("HCC is 90% white"), he doesn't seem to actually know a lot about education, and like Geary he seems have ambitions far away from school board and is distracted by those ambitions.

Voter, I think you're confusing the nature of the board they way it is set up for the composition of the board. The school board has shockingly little power. I agree they don't flex their muscle always when they could or should. For example, the broohaha with HCC has dragged on so long, and the fault for that falls squarely on the board. The numerous examples where they have been too reticent. But overall, they are an effective board. We could have much, much worse. We will end up with much, much worse if people don't pay close attention during the next election cycle. But structurally, the board is set up constitutionally with minimal power in the first place.

Board Watcher
Anonymous said…
@Equity Funding

I'm just not sure if this is the right group of people to anoint themselves.

Thank you for the chuckle. The people behind that group concern me, although I don't recognize each name. I should rather have this foundation chartered by school board or collective action by the ptas themselves.

Anonymous said…
Equity Funding - I do know that most PTAs support something like this generally. What makes you say this? Have you polled the PTAs and PTOs and foundations in the district? I am particularly skeptical that there is a large number of parents wishing they could get Stephan Blanford to spend their money for them.

Not Likely
Anonymous said…
Lest we forget the bad ole days:

The not-so-distant days when traveling while black was a dangerous game.

almost Spring
Anonymous said…
@Not Likely

Well, when you phrase it "Should Stephan Blanford get to spend a third of the money I donate to the PTA?" obviously the survey result would be 99% 'no'. (:D Actually maybe more like 20% 'no', but still. No one wants that! Not me, not you, not most.

Our family is in 4 PTA's, and we have close friends at 6 others, so we only know about 10 of the 100 schools here. To answer your question, no, I haven't done a survey, but the PTA's all these schools have earmarked some of their funding for equity or similar purpose, and if you surveyed people of about a Portland style foundation, I do really think most people would say, yes, that's a good idea. We easily passed those two last levies after all. I share your skepticism of this particular group, though. I like Fredericka's idea about a charter from the board.

Equity Funding
Equity Funding, as to Blanford's group, first, I would trust nothing with him attached. Second, if SCPTSA isn't attached, I can't see this succeeding. Third, that said, SCPTSA can't make individual unit PTAs share money if they don't want to. Fourth, again, I suspect that even for schools with large PTA spending, it's dwarfed by booster group fundraising.

I also would want to know how PTAs feel; some have taken steps towards this and that's great but until there is an actual survey, you can't say for certain how they feel.

But it's an interesting study that you linked and it might be a good launching point for a discussion. I'll start a thread for it.

Anonymous said…
@Board Watcher,

I think you have supported the argument to do away with the board by writting " The school board has shockingly little power."

The class of 2015 made a lot of strong accusations of racism, incompetence and complacence against the district during the 2015 election process yet made no direct attempts to remove any of the district's personnel they maligned.

In the past 14 years I have seen very little evidence that any SPS board is necessary. The board seems like just a side show, a distraction and frankly speaking a joke.

So going forward I believe we only need an advisory board with 2years stints and we the people need to elect the SPS superintendent and several other key administrative positions. Specifically a CFO!

Run it like a sudo city.

If a group like the Gates Foundation could get 4 out of the 7 in 2019 then they could control the district starting with actually implementing the board's dominance over the superintendent and engaging in true oversight of everything.

These are just my thoughts but you as the "Board Watcher" might know more information, so since you have rained down so many accolades on the board could you follow that up with a list of exactly what the current board has done to improve our schools.

Anonymous said…
Mark Twain said: "First God made idiots, That was for practice. Then he made school boards."

Anonymous said…
That's so funny and the board members seem to want to proliferate Twains's statement, have you ever watched them operate from the dais? Goofy at best. I think it should be mandatory for all students to watch the board meetings during class. WOW would that open many peoples eyes!

PTSA Member said…
Huh, according to the Portland Public Schools foundation funding formula, they look at a school's demographics (poverty, ELL, students of color) and add the school's per student financing:
1/3 of the school's title one funding + PTA funding + foundation funding + parent fund grants (divided by the number of students)
to come up with a ranking of the school.

If you did this in Seattle, and included all of a school's actual funding sources to compare apples to apples and then come up with an actual ranking of the various schools, I would be more interested in contributing to this fund. I'm curious how FACES wants to be different from Portland.

Here's how Portland assigns school rankings:
Anonymous said…
School districts are subdivisions of the state government, and their powers and structure can't be changed except by state law. Never going to happen.

Local school districts are political subdivisions of the state and the organization of such districts, including the powers, duties, and boundaries thereof, may be altered or abolished by laws of the state of Washington.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
"Run it like a sudo city."

What? Did you mean pseudo?

Voter, you want the Gates Foundation to take over the Board with their own candidates? You are mistaken if you think it would be an empowered Board - it would be a Board of rubberstampers who wouldn't listen to parents or the public. We had that before, no thanks.

And that Mark Twain line? Again?

JS, I find the Board meetings to run well. What is so eye-popping?

Well, if Dems are the political arm of the unions, then the GOP is the political arm for business and the NRA.

Watching, you'll have to check out my most recent thread on charters - not going well. But yes, if SPS continues to think they are the only game in town, they might end up crying in their cups like Oakland and other districts.

What STEM charter is that?
Anonymous said…
"JS, I find the Board meetings to run well. What is so eye-popping?"

Ok I understand you have not had a student in SPS for 7 or so years, but I have students in SPS and they are old enough to understand a con job when they see one.

My kids have watched several SPS board meetings and find them full of the dumbest people making self serving style monologues, "Do these people ever say anything" " What a waste of time" " they are all liars" " have they ever been to my school" " they only care about appearances" These are common comments people make at the viewings I hold at my house with my children and other parents and students.

I would like to see SPS show at least one full board meeting to every high school student and then have a Q&A after.

JS, I have been to and watched more Board meetings than most people here. Of course, I still follow them.

That you allow your children to think the Board directors are "dumb" and "all liars", well, that's on you. It's not true.

Board meetings are like any public meeting; not always easy to follow, not easy to know all the players, not easy to know what is being left out, and, of course, what came before.

I would be happy to sit down with a group of high school students and explain a Board meeting to them. But it's more complicated than sitting in your living room and making snide comments.
Anonymous said…
Significant procedural changes are being proposed for school approval of on-line courses (or "out-of-district" courses, as SPS is calling them). See this week's board agenda (vote on Wed). Board Policy C16.00, "Acceptance of Correspondence or College Courses for High School Credit," would be repealed and the reworked policy would be put into a revised Superintendent Policy 2024SP. This takes it out of Board oversight, as SP's can be changed without Board approval (or public comment). Intentionally or unintentionally, the revised policy will severely restrict options for students wanting to access advanced coursework outside of SPS.

From a decision tree in the newly proposed SP:

• Courses must be taught by one of the following:
o OSPI approved online course provider;
o Accredited community college, technical college, or university in Washington State;
o Approved private school in Washington State. All private schools in Washington must be approved in order to operate, so any private school where a student might take a course is approved;
o High school or online school in a school district in Washington State.

• If the course is provided by one of the above institutions, proceed to the next question. If not, deny the request.

According to current Policy C16.00, institutions include:

- Community colleges, technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities (either private or public), and approved private schools high schools in Washington state;

The new policy would eliminate courses taken through out-of-state colleges and universities, unless on the list of approved OSPI providers (it's a pretty short list, and only BYU seems to be listed).

Anonymous said…
I'm not allowing them to do anything of the sort. A few members are just goofy and the comments I posted were hi-lighting reactions of students to both members comments as well as speakers comments.

So it seems you are suggesting we are all too stupid or uninformed to make snide comments? is that right?

You know better because you either attend or watched every single board meeting, but why?

You wrote that you don't know if SEA even likes you. Come on I've seen the emails between you and SEA leadership. You were especially cozy will the PR women, what's her name?

The fact that you think high school students need a broad meeting translator speaks to support my point exactly.

The whole public school system is a racket that feeds off of parent's and tax payer's ignorance of the corruption and the district's impunity towards families. The teachers are willing co conspirators in the whole sham.

I was recently introduced to the PSED and it's meddling in SPS affairs. I bet 99.5% of parents have never heard of the PSED and would be shocked by it's existence and fees.

I guess I should be thankful that our board members are not paid, I would be pushing for refunds!

Anonymous said…
Yikes, thanks for the heads up that the Board will be voting on this online course policy this week. I have just sent an email asking the Board to amend the policy to allow high school students to take online foreign language classes from non-OSPI approved providers who might be out of state. I have a current senior and an incoming freshman. I'm well aware that some of our high schools have limited foreign language choices and teacher shortages. My older kid wasn't interested in any of the languages offered at his school and took an online Hebrew class instead offered by a college in Philadelphia and designed specifically for high school students. He wasn't subject to the new high school graduation requirement of two years of foreign language study, but he applied to colleges that required 2 or 3 years of foreign language in high school. So far, every school he has applied to has accepted his transcript from the online course. No problem. My daughter wants to do the same thing,but under this new decision tree, she won't be able to. I don't understand why, when we know we have scarce resources for foreign language study in our schools, we would restrict students' access to online courses to meet this new graduation requirement. If you agree with me, please write to the Board. I'm also going to try to sign up to testify about this.

Concerned Parent
Anonymous said…
What seems missing from the work group analysis of online coursework - actual analysis. What classes are being taken online, by whom, and for what reasons? For credit recovery? To access more advanced courses? To access classes SPS simply doesn't offer (like Hebrew)? Where is the data to suggest online coursework in MS may leave some students unprepared for HS courses? Haven't some students been forced to use online providers (at WMS and RESMS)? And why shouldn't MS students be able to receive HS credit for a HS level course? With the new 24 credit requirement, you'd think SPS would be looking for ways to increase pathways for students to get those credits. Shouldn't the decision tree work toward flexibility for students? The limitations put in place because of supposed "shopping around" and GPA boosting is just odd. Are they talking about academic scholarships, or sports scholarships?

lotsa questions
JS, you sure read a lot into what I said (and read wrong). But you seem on a tear so I'll let you be.

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