Wednesday Open Thread

Great news on the passage of SPS levies.  However, technically, levies are just a pot of money that the district can do whatever they want with it.  Of course, it behooves them to do what they promised to do.  Oversight is key and I hope the Board and parents and the public make sure that happens.

Interesting story on teens who DO want to get vaccinations despite what choices their parents have made in the opposite direction.

Washington's Paramount Duty has changed their Lobby Day at the Legislature to Wednesday, Feb. 27th.  Sign up here.

Speaking of the Legislature, here's the Washington State School Directors Association (school board members), has a weekly legislative update for news on public education related issues.

One interesting bill is one that would give kindergarten students that are F/RL $100 in a savings account for college.  From the Islander:
Senate Bill 5704, and its companion House Bill 1592, would give every low-income kindergartner in Washington $100 as seed money that could one day blossom to an amount that could help pay for college tuition.
Bill sponsor Sen. Marko Liias (D-Lynnwood) says the idea builds upon the concept of a "baby bond," money given to every newborn baby that they couldn't touch until they turned 18. The goal is to help low-income and marginalized communities build assets in the future, and he says there's few better ways than setting up a college savings account. 

Realistically, Liias knows that $100 alone will not grow to pay for a college education by the time a kindergartner turns 18. Rather, it is seed funding to help a family begin saving, a "concrete link" to the reality of going to college. 
Continuing concerns about teens and their use of e-cigarettes in an article from The Daily World.
The new report builds on evidence that youth e-cigarette use raises the risk of graduating to combustible cigarettes, he said.

“E-cigarettes could be playing a role in the patterns of use we’re seeing among kids in terms of cigarette smoking,” he said, adding, “It is possible that we are reinforcing and perpetuating dependency.”

While the Trump administration says that e-cigarettes could be an effective tool for helping adults quit smoking traditional cigarettes, Monday’s report suggested that the opposite is true for younger people, said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
 A worthy article for Black History Month - Decolonizing Your Syllabus  - from Liberated Genius.

Upcoming posts include a series on the state of charter schools, both in Washington State and nationally and an update on the use of the Check Yourself survey tool for screening middle school teens. Some things have changed but the district still doesn't see the need to inform parents (even as other districts are).

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
I'm curious if a possible upside to all this winter weather (and related closures and cancellations) might be an end to Washington's measles epidemic.

Silver Lining?
Anonymous said…
I very reluctantly voted for the levies.
If for no other reason, to keep the nurses in school.
I hope SPS understands that some votes like mine do not translate to a blanket endorsement/approval.
Anonymous said…
Maybe the district could spend some money replacing the lead plumbing that continues to poison students and staff.

waning iq
Voted NO said…
Over the past 5 years, property taxes have doubled.

Congratulations to those that pushed the levy. Your privilege is showing.
Anonymous said…
Congratulations to those that benefit from a renewed levy, it simply renews the existing levy and isn't a tax increase. Your idiocy is showing.

Voted Yes
Anonymous said…
@waning iq

Lots of parents on this blog have spent years talking about how "poor kids" have had environmental brain damage, like lead poisoning, (with lots of "research" to back it up) and used it as an excuse for the lack of diversity in HCC.

Do a blog search. It's stunning, really.

I guess that once you're "in" the HC label provides a teflon effect for lead poisoning.

Sounds like an area of expertise the new HC director might need on the resume, according to these parents who posted about it here. Maybe Sue Peters has some insight and can share it on the HCC blog. The underrepresented families most certainly have the inside track to knowing about the HCC blog, which is likely why Sue posted there.

Dull Moment
Anonymous said…
SPS was right to criticize the Times article about lead in the water. It was almost laughable that the Times was trying to make it out as North/South issue. It's an old building problem. Period. SPS started the lead testing program after parents raised concerns about discolored water at Wedgwood (a 1993 district report put Wedgwood on a list for pipe replacement and it still had not been done at the time of a related 2004 Seattle PI article). Schools throughout the district have since had many of their drinking fountains replaced.

As schools get renovated, many of the old pipes and fixtures get replaced. Short of fixture and pipe replacements, flushing the fixtures and instructing staff and students to not drink from sinks is really the best approach. If you look at the district data, you will see the difference in the "1st flush" vs "flush 30 sec" results. For fixtures with measurable lead in the "1st flush" samples, many are <1 ppb after the "flush 30 sec" samples.

irresponsible reporting
suep. said…
@Voted NO

"Privilege"? Really? Please explain that to the students of Rainier Beach High School (FRL 72 percent) who have waited decades for a new school building and will now finally have the opportunity to get one. Or the students of Northgate Elementary (FRL 73 percent) who will also finally have funds for a better, safer building.
Anonymous said…
"...the HCC blog, which is likely why Sue posted there."

Or maybe she posted it there because it's one way to quickly reach HCC families? Not that it reaches all, but at least it reaches some. If you have a better idea for how she could have easily reached the HCC families who are missed, or families of HC students who are missed, by all means share it. There are many who'd like to know.

FWIW, lead poisoning is a real thing. From the CDC: "There is no known identified safe BLL. Exposure to lead can seriously harm a child’s health. Millions of children are being exposed to lead in their homes, increasing their risks for: damage to the brain and nervous system; slowed growth and development; learning and behavior problems (e.g., reduced IQ, ADHD, juvenile delinquency, and criminal behavior); and hearing and speech problems." Also from the CDC: "Children at higher risk for lead exposure are poor; are members of racial-ethnic minority groups; are recent immigrants; live in older, poorly maintained rental properties; or have parents who are exposed to lead at work."

Thanks for your "concern," but the idea that the new AL Director needs to have expertise in lead poisoning is absurd. Leave that to the public health experts, pediatricians, public housing folks, etc. Nobody is saying that "poor kids" are all brain damaged, just as nobody is saying that's the sole reason for SPS's disparities in HC and AL qualification. But to deny the very real, negative--and disparate--impacts of lead on poor and minority children makes light of a very real public health issue. As far as I recollect, anyone who has cited environmental conditions had focused on a wide variety of social and environmental exposures (positive and negative) that can, and do, impact child intellectual development. Surely you aren't implying that intellectual ability is all genetic, are you?

Nature Nurture
Anonymous said…
Making light of lead poisoning???

Get real.

I'm talking about the people who live in old glass houses, with lots of lead pipes, send their kids to play with like people in like homes, and have their kids attend schools that have been screaming with lead pipe poisoning for years.

However, lead has mostly only been an issue here when talking about "poor people" in Seattle, in the context of demographic disparity in the HCC program, and how they are too brain damaged to qualify for HCC, unlike "your kids."

That is the problem. It's the meeeee culture. I don't need a tutorial on the issue, but I hope you've been concerned about it beyond defending the HCC demographics.

I, for one, have been vocal about the lead situation in SPS for years. I never let my students drink from the fountains.

Dull Moment
Waning IQ, I find this so baffling. I thought the district had taken care of this years ago. However, it's true; it's a problem in many schools with the worst apparently being Green Lake Elementary. I did wonder about the timing of a story that is old news right before the levy vote.

Voted NO, that's one way to look at it. Some of us look at the kids at John Rogers and Northgate and especially Rainier Beach High School who have shitty buildings. I don't begrudge that money. As I said in my remarks on the passage of the levies, everyone should take a close look at those Operations dollars to make sure they are being used properly and NOT for anyone's pet project.

I don't know that lead poisoning has ever been a reason that there are fewer kids of color in HCC.
Voted NO said…
Voted Yes,

"Your idiocy is showing." Your language reflects poorly on you.

Whether education funding comes from the state and/or local levies, people have one pocketbook. The fact that McCleary and levy funding are placed in different buckets matters little to those that absorbed increased property tax rates of $1K-$1500 per year.

"For many, the temptation is high: Property taxes across Seattle have increased more than 56 percent since 2013, with the median household now paying $5,708 a year.
For low-income residents and elderly residents living on fixed incomes in the Central District, the added costs were often too big a barrier to overcome. Many sold their homes and decamped to less pricey cities in south King County, such as Tukwila and Kent. They took a piece of the community with them."

Those with privilege have the capacity to absorb these costs- others do not.

I agree with Melissa. Dollars should be used properly.

Anonymous said…
The reason why HCC has too few students of color is because the way the district chooses to identify HC students. They use a culturally and linguistically biased test, they use hard cut off scores, they only recently started giving that test to Title 1 second graders, which has increased the total number of students of color identified but not their percentage, they don't follow most national best practices, and they provide essentially no or absolutely no differentiation in neighborhood schools for students of any color who are ahead. Access to advanced differentiation is weakest at schools with the most students of color, so principals are contributing to this problem. Principals have also intentionally distributed test information to families after deadlines, which hurts chiefly students of color. Limiting access to advanced learning most harms students of color because richer and white students pursue other options, such as 27% of children in Seattle attend private schools, which is quite a high rate. The advanced learning department has ignored many years of recommendations from various task forces, as well as national best practices, and they are likely to ignore the advice of the current task force too. It is an absolute hot mess.

Lead has nothing to do with it. That is one of the most absurd claims I've ever encountered. The problem is with the district, and it has to do with the choices human beings who work in the advanced learning department all the way up to the superintendent are making, and until those human beings start making different choices, HCC won't change either.

Miss Leading
Anonymous said…
The property tax increase in Seattle isn't from local school levies, it's from Democrats in the state legislature doing what large corporations and Republicans wanted and passing the largest property tax hike in state history in 2017 to fund our public schools - yet because they also lowered the amount districts could raise from local levies, the result was actually cuts to most districts. Seattle legislators screwed us and now they need to fix it.

Voted Yes
Voted NO said…
Name calling is not permitted on this blog. Vote Yes's blog post 2/13/19, 11:07 AM should be removed for name calling.
Voted NO said…
Voted Yes,

Buckets of money are meaningless to people with one pocketbook.
Anonymous said…
The other problem with the property tax system as the means for funding everything is not just the tax rate but the assessed value of property. This is fine for someone who just bought a house and thus qualified (i.e. has the income) to buy a $500–900,000 home, but for the property owner who bought 20+ years ago it means a tax burden that is not often proportionate with their income. That's the real cause of people being taxed out of their homes.

We bought in 1993 when we were in our late 30s and would even come close to qualifying for our home now at its current market value. Luckily we're still working, but will only be for another 5+ years. I shudder to think of what we will need to give up once we are on a fixed income 10+ years down the line if we want to stay in our home.

At least some nice developer will be happy to buy us out and put two million dollar+ mega houses on our lot!

Anonymous said…
Yes, lead poisoning is real, but lead exposure comes not just from old plumbing, but from old lead paint (both inside and out), as well soils contaminated with that paint. Younger children are more susceptible to lead poisoning because they are crawling in the floor, putting things in their mouths, playing in the yard, etc. Exposure to lead paint and asbestos (in older floor tiles, ceiling tiles, heating pipe insulation, popcorn acoustical ceilings, etc.) should also be of concern.

The point I was attempting to make is that until SPS is able to replace the plumbing in each and every old school building (it is definitely not just an issue in south end schools), the best way to limit exposure is to routinely flush the fixtures being used for drinking, and designate others for hand washing, etc. If you live in an old house with old plumbing, you should be doing the same.

irresponsible reporting
Anonymous said…
I'm sorry just how did the Republicans raise anything? The WA state legislation is controlled by the Democrats.

In my circle of fellow home owners every single person voted NO on the levies. You then have to wonder why these levies keep passing and also ask should transient renters be allowed to vote on issues that take money from property owners without those property owners voting to approve it extending long after those transients have left the city.

There should be a minimum required voter turn out combined with a super majority approval in order to keep extorting money from property owners.

BTW there is no data showing that taxes are passed on to renters. A renter with a lease would not see any increase until possibly at the next lease renewal time. It's market forces that control rental prices more than property taxes and if you live in a low income property you will NEVER have to absorb those increases.

--Going crazy
Anonymous said…
For get $30 car tabs, I can do without a car. I want $30 property tax!

--Going crazy
Fact Checker said…
Vote Yes is providing inaccurate information. Ross Hunter (D) first proposed the levy swap. The levy swap was the birth child of Democrats.

Here it is:

"The basic idea is to do a revenue-neutral swap of state property tax for local levies, staying within the constitutional 1% limit for regular property taxes. This would make the statutory $3.60 per 1,000 set aside for public education a meaningful, rather than hollow, commitment, and bring $1 billion of existing local excess levies into a more regular and dependable tax structure – the statewide property tax."
Woe unto them said…
Pity the poor land owners!
Beset at all sides by moderately funded schools, transit hubs and walk scores. They shall find no respite in their increased assessment values, nor shall they freely store their vehicles on public streets, forever more.
Anonymous said…
I smell a tax rebellion coming.

That smell
Anonymous said…
Just put another 25 gallons in my SUV and Im going to burn it all up in one day, just because I can. I will never give up my SUV NEVEEEEEEER! I love going 3mph through school zones. I give a friendly honk at the kids, they all love American might. The parents scowl at me. The boys want to be me when they grow up.

Humvees forever.
Fact Checker said…
Is woe unto them referring to Seattle's recent homeowners that lost $116,000 of their home investments?

State funding, with lower housing costs, will drop. Beware.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe Wolf said…
SPS' standard for lead (and other toxins) in drinking water is much stricter than the federal/EPA and the State of WA standards. As far as I know the capital project to switch out what pipes and fixtures remained has been completed. Richard Best would know.
Anonymous said…
When do we expect to hear what will happen with the make up snow days? Even if SPS comes up with a decision, how much will each school vary with their make up/excused absence policies. My high schooler wants to continue with her plans, but I hear some schools won't allow for an early final if school is delayed by 5 days. I also need to keep child care options open for my younger as soon as school is out, and hope the district will be able to provide answers for families in a reasonable time frame.

Going forward, who makes the decision about keeping 2 full week vacations? I have heard most families are willing to give up mid winter break or replace it with a 3-4 day weekend and would prefer an earlier end of school date. Is this a school board decision or teacher's union? This is the second time in 3 years that snow days have had an impact. I don't understand why the policy couldn't be having the days on the schedule and getting out early if they weren't needed. Also, having the last day of school a Monday is rough with the make up snow days to begin with. Will enough staff even be prepared to stay an extra 5 days and what happens if the buildings can't be appropriately staffed?

HS and ES
HS and ES, the problem seems to be that the district and the union are not interested in what parents think. This might be a good issue for the SCPTSA to take on as a united front. The SEA contract is up for negotiation; do parents have any say?

Dyshoveled said…
Who's liable for injuries that occur on sidewalks on SPS property?
Ed said…
Who in the heck was "Ross Hunter"?
Jet City mom said…
Dyshoveled, I would think it would be the school district.

Btw, when I went to my volunteer tutoring job today, I was disappointed that while the parking lot was pretty clear, quite a bit of snow had been piled up in the two disabled spots.

If someone had had less mobility than me, they could have had a very hard time.
Michael Rice said…
I don't know what is going to happen with the make up days, but I would not object to doing away with the 75 minute early dismissal on Wednesdays. We have 15 or so of those days left and this would be a very easy way to make up time without adding on to the school year.

I am fully aware that this is a contract issue, but it seems to me, that SPS and SEA could meet over mid-winter break and could resolve this pretty quickly.

Anonymous said…
While that seems like a possible solution, Mr. R, schedules have already been made around those early release days - student clubs, work, tutoring, etc. There would be a lot of unintended consequences if the agreed upon early release days were no more.

not easy
Working Parent said…
I like Mr. R's can-do attitude. But it does highlight that when it comes to school schedules the district has a voice and the teachers' union has a voice and families? Not so much :-(
Working Parent, I agree. The parent voice in scheduling is not great. We did get late start for high school but if the union hadn't agree, I bet it would not have happened.

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