Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Wednesday Open Thread

 According to the Seattle Times, Amazon apparently is not going to fill Rainier Square after all (using it as leverage to get rid of Seattle's head tax).  They want to sublet.  Here's a thought: be a good corporate citizen and allow SPS to use one floor (or lease at low-cost) to create a downtown school.

And also from the Times, who thinks the McCleary funding is all done, a story that "most districts are projecting budget shortfalls."  Who would have thought that would happen?

Seattle Schools Survey on D

Opportunities for Students
- Free summer science camp from the Centers for Disease Control. All applications must be post marked by March 25, 2019.

- Girl Powered VEX Robotics Workshop.  Deadline is Thu, Mar 7, 2019. (Updated with link)
Google will be sponsoring a 2-day girls only workshop for high school and middle school girls, grades 7 - 12, who are interested in learning about the VEX Robotics Program

The VEX Robotics Girl Powered Workshop is a collaboration between the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation and Google. In the VEX Robotics Competition, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. This 2-day workshop will be held at the Google Campus in Seattle, WA.

This is open to any girl who is a beginner or has very limited experience with robotics and would like to learn more about designing, building and programming robots. We will have several trained volunteers there to assist each participant.
Microsoft has a number of free workshops coming up at their University Village store:

- Dear Evan Hansen 
Microsoft Store and the Tony award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen are partnering to provide a free, two-hour workshop for students ages 13 and up who want to authentically connect to themselves, friends, family, and their communities.

Dear Evan Hansen has received critical acclaim and has inspired conversation about mental health and the perils of living in a society hyperconnected by social media, which can often feel lonely.

Workshop participants will define what it means to make authentic connections and explore ways to create those connections. Students choose how they want to connect and will use Microsoft tools to research and create an actionable plan for reaching out.
- Women in Gaming, Saturday, March 30, 2019
This free, 2-hour DigiGirlz workshop is an engaging interactive way for young women ages 11-18 to understand more about how computer science and coding will open opportunities for them. They will meet a local woman who works in computer science; and find out that a successful career in technology is within their reach. They will also get a hands on introduction to coding, creating their own project.
A mobile app for SPS.

Science Instructional Materials Open House this Saturday, March 2nd

Rainier Beach High School
  • Elementary School Materials: 9 - 11 a.m.
  • Middle School Materials: 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. 
  • High School Materials: 1 - 3 p.m.
The February 9 open house was canceled due to inclement weather.

The Board is having a retreat this Saturday, March 2nd so there will be no director community meetings.  The Retreat is from 10 am to 3 pm at JSCEE and open to the public.  The agenda doesn't look especially promising but the first hour will be about the somewhat mysterious Strategic Plan.

What's on your mind?


Contracts Needed said...

Thanks to the board members that required the district to attach a contract to the BAR. Board members need to read contracts for $2M expenditures.

Anonymous said...


Special Site Based Interview Team Training – Saturday, March 9

The HR Department is offering a site-based interview training on Saturday, March 9 in the Auditorium at the John Stanford Center from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

This special training will focus on preparing individuals to participate on interview teams for S.E.A. represented positions and Principal positions.

Anyone interested in serving on an interview team for an upcoming hiring process is encouraged to attend. This training is open to all administrators, certificated and classified employees, as well as parents, students and community representatives.

Please come - in order to have more community input, get more diverse input on hiring for these critical positions - now's the time. The training is a prerequisite for participating in hiring committees.

Please share far and wide!


Leslie S. Harris, Director District 6, President

Seattle School Board



FYI: To the recent critic who suggested I am somehow abusing or violating my privilege as an elected official by posting on a community blog, I have been assured by SPS General Counsel I am not breaking any rules. But thanks for the heads up.

kellie said...

Thank you Director Harris for your service and your community engagement.

Anonymous said...

During the Board’s discussion about the Strategic Plan on Saturday, I hope they’ll closely examine the claim that focusing on African American boys will result in all tides rising.

One of the Strategic Plan goals for African American boys is avoiding over-identification for Special Education. Once we assume the lens of avoidance as a goal, then it becomes easy to also avoid improving the Sped system for those students who DO need and want services.

Once you examine current policy, efforts, resource allocation and current SMART goals/Draft Strategic Plan goals, it appears that disability is systematically excluded from SPS equity efforts:

Not included in Racial Equity Policy or Analysis Tool except in the context of race.

Not included in the Strategic Plan as one of the groups furthest from educational justice.

Not included in Equity Tier used to prioritize capital projects and planning (of BEX Capital Levy Scoring Criteria).

Disability category limited only to Social/Emotional for assignment of a counselor or social worker per WSS.

The 62% of Sped students who are Asian, multi-racial or White are excluded from SPS equity efforts unless they also qualify as FRL or ELL.

The District concedes that it may not be able to sustain the corrective actions necessary to avoid relapse in to high-risk status with the state and withheld funds yet Sped is still excluded from district priorities in strategic plan and goals.

Smart Goal #2 (Similar to Goal 1c in Draft plan) solely defines safety in terms of identity and alternative discipline while completely ignoring sexual harassment/assault, which is a safety issue among all students, but disproportional among special education students.

There have been numerous horrifying cases involving SPS employees among both Sped and non-Sped students when neither the union nor district put student’s needs first.

Among SPS students, 55% of alleged sexual harassment victims and 27% of alleged aggressors were special education students per the SPS Title IX Coordinator Interim Report, May 2015.

Sexual harassment complaints almost doubled from 100 to 196 year-to-year (2016/17 vs. 2017/18) per the Title IX Aug. 2018 report.

Smart Goal #1 (similar to Goal 1 a in Draft Plan) sets goal for “high quality” instruction. High quality is ill-defined so unproven. A proven approach is “evidence-based” instruction and “universal design”.

Although these terms are most commonly used in reference to specific populations such as Sped, evidence-based instruction works for everyone, because researchers have verified that that an instructional approach works on a large scale and that the intervention is the only reason for the change in child’s behavior. Universal design is the epitome of equity in that its goal is to allow students to access material and demonstrate learning in a myriad of ways.

While SPS Sped students have the lowest College & Career Readiness of any group other than ELL, this may be due in large part to learning disabilities impacting the ability to demonstrate learning rather than a lack of ability to learn. Coupled with the lack of evidence-based instruction for learning differences and early universal screening, SPS is creating the gap, not alleviating it.

If Seattle were to follow Lake Washington’s lead and disaggregate scores by disability type, we might have a similar finding that low Sped scores are disproportionally driven by students with learning disabilities who represent the largest percentage of sped students.

Analyzing Sped achievement scores only as an aggregate is a compliance mindset that displays a dismaying indifference to understanding cause and improving outcomes.

What difference might we make in closing opportunity gaps in Seattle if we did the same and implemented universal screening for learning differences, evidence-based instruction, universal design and environments where children safe from sexual assault?


Anonymous said...

I heard a rumor that the NCAA is investigating violations at a SPS south end high school.

No comment

Carol Simmons said...

Thank you Director Harris for attempting to pass an amendment that would ensure that minority and women contractors have had an opportunity to submit bids. If the District has a policy that only allows for the "lowest bid" that needs to be revised for obvious reasons. The Board also needs to have a yearly report probably through the Finance and Audit Committee detailing the number and amounts of contracts awarded by the District, and the number of contracts that provide roll overs from year to year and for how many years. This is simply a matter of due diligence required of our School Board.

Anonymous said...

Yes because women and minorities are so helpless they need it.

Stop it.

Anonymous said...

Was told on Friday by a Roosevelt high school counselor that even though they are likely to have enrollment shrink *very* little next year, she’d heard they may loose 10 to 15 teachers!?!

She said they hadn’t had their budget meeting yet, but, that what she’d heard.


Roosevelt is only going to have about 100 to 150 kids from the current freshman class forcibly transferred to Lincoln next September as sophomores (that number is shifting down as families figure out the ‘hack’ of getting a second address via cheap monthly craigslist rental for separating parents, only to have marital discord mended by October). But, regardless of how many get forced to Lincoln, the incoming RHS freshman class is still bigger than the leaving graduating seniors, so overall the total RHS enrollment will be around 1,800. So to be told 10 to 15 teachers may be cut is madness.

It is critical to get real numbers ((1) student counts and (2)actual budget allotments) to parse RIFs that are enrollment-based vs RIFs that are based on an overall winnowed budget.

The majority of FTE teacher cuts will be due to budget woes. It is so ugly, it will really hurt kids, especially if to protect the classrooms principals are forced to cut the ‘ancillary’ teachers such as the interventionalist who identify, track and counsel kids to prevent dropping out.

Ditch the assist superintendents, ditch the executive education directors, ditch anything but actual adults who directly work with kids.

If times are that lean, then the org chart downtown better be flat like a pancake before you come for the teachers.

But, given the last 7 years of exponential growth of the numbers of $110K++, it’s really unlikely that culture of pigs at the trough will cut their own jobs first before letting kids in schools feel the burn.

scared and scarred

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's have kids teach themselves after 6th grade. And while we're having them direct themselves, let's make Swift's Modest Proposal mandatory reading as nutritional counseling; in additional to practical nutrition, it may better equip kids to combat climate change.

Other Choices

Anonymous said...

@scared & scarred -It's not just Roosevelt. Franklin is losing 6 teachers. I had heard also Ballard is losing up to 15 teachers. Ballard will lose about 200-300 max kids to Lincoln (Kellie thinks only 100-200 max), so it is not proportional either. I am wondering if other schools are also losing teachers as well.


kellie said...

Here is a link to the current budget page with an FAQ about how the cuts are made and links to the budget presentations.


The cuts are pretty drastic, because in addition to the shortfall, total enrollment is expected to shrink again.

The cuts to librarians is getting a lot of attention. However, the cuts to high school are rather draconian and being described as modest.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight, Gerry came from a background as an Administrative judge for special education and she has been a board member for over 3 years and just last week she finally figured out that SPS is not providing SDI to students with IEPs. She basically admitted in the public board meeting the district's wholesale violation of the law.

She will be a great witness for parents wanting to sue.

SPED parent

Anonymous said...

@SPED Parent, I assume you are taking about the Feb 27th board meeting. Well I know you are because I just finished watching it. I wanted to thank Anne for her powerful testimony. There must be something else going on behind the scenes for Jill Geary to respond to Anne like that.

I took the time and transcribed the audio from the Youtube video so people here can read it,

"It is really important to me that we as a district offer specially designed instruction as part of our special education. And I fear that too much of what we offer is an accommodation and that accommodation is more time which puts students who are in special ed farther and farther and farther behind in any type of challenging curriculum and so it’s really important that if we are going to offer challenging curriculum we make sure that our special education teachers have the time to modify the curriculum to the point that it serves the students and I heard today that we are not doing that so from my perspective I don’t want to make any legal conclusions but it seems to be a problem. So I would hope that we have someone who is working diligently on that. It’s not like the curriculum is a surprise, it’s not like the accommodations around getting to core concepts and reducing volume is something we would have to do for every single student individually necessarily that is something that should just be done and here’s the point that I think I’d like to make, before we buy that curriculum from somebody we should be asking the question about whether or not they offer it done. Because if we’re doing it for one student it has been done for thousands of students across this country. So why is that not part of what we are talking about when we buy into, these people get a lot of money for the test that we have our kids do. So please lets be more savvy in terms of negotiating on behave of our students. Perhaps we don’t have the resources, but they’re taking our money , they can use that money to do that.

I'm sure that Geary is not going to run again and it sounds like she is moving on to teaching, good for her. I'm not sure if she can be called as a witness, but it looks like she is giving her fellow lawyers some ammo to use.

I can't see who she as watching when she was talking maybe Anne may be Jesse? It sure was disgusting to see no other director say a word!

--Another SPED

Anonymous said...

I was at the February 27 Board meeting and Anne's testimony was extremely powerful. I testified as well about the failure to mention special ed in the current draft of the strategic plan. It really is critical for special education to be called out as a focus in the top level of the strategic plan if there is any hope of change in educational outcomes for special ed students. If special ed was called out as deserving of focus, then the things Jill Geary was talking about would happen -- when the District bought a new curriculum, they would be asking whether and how it would serve special education students and they would be requiring the companies that are selling these products to provide accommodations for students who need reduced volume or more emphasis on core concepts. This is my 13th year as a parent in SPS and I fear that if special ed is not a focus in this next strategic plan then all the problems our families experience in the schools will continue and the lack of accountability will continue.


Anonymous said...

Janis, I went back and watched your testimony and Thank you for doing that. 13 years of dealing with SPS and SPED and you're still fighting that's remarkable. I'm surprised we have never crossed paths, my family has been fighting since 2007.

The sensitivity of being in SPED has always made it hard to do those typical dog and pony shows that other groups orchestrate at various school board meetings and other events. SPS knows this and uses it as an advantage. I wont get into the details but I'm sure you get my drift.

The big question is this, is the board going to follow-up with Jesse and insure Geary's concerns are addressed?

--Another SPED

Anonymous said...

So many parents are just relieved when SPS is behind them, what a shame.


Anonymous said...

@ School Choice said: "Here's an idea, how about sticking to reading writing and arithmetic? and of coarse [sic] all these disciplines should be taught in English to American citizens. If you can get a child proficient in reading by 6th grade those students can for the most part teach themselves. Public schools don't need to offer country club benefits just the basics."

So only US citizens should be taught English? Interesting. And students should self-teach once they get to the 6th grade reading level? Should second graders who are advanced readers just stay home--or better yet, should we plop them all down in front of a computer and surely they will all be self-directed enough to cover a wide range of subjects on their own? Should our high schools filled with only those who can't read well in English, and filled only with basic subjects and nothing fun that makes them even want to go to school. Those sound like great recipes for success.

@ boys are boys, girls are girls (a moniker which is offensive to many, and not consistent with the gray lines of science on sex and gender):

Well golly, if books always provided you a way to learn other topics that your teacher did not cover, surely that'll work for everyone else, right? Wrong. Having access (which not all do) to quality texts (which all are not) on subjects covered in school is great if students have the ability (not all do) the time (not all do), and the interest (not all do) to read more and go broader/ deeper on a subject. But you do realize that for many students simply covering the basics--like how to read--isn't likely to help them develop into successful and contributing members of society, right?

As for your statement that "politics belong in political science class and not in every other subject," you do realize that politics infuses pretty much every aspect of society, right? Racial disparities in student outcomes can be linked to political (capital P and lowercase p) policies and decisions related to housing, poverty, policing, generational wealth, etc. The results of politics are on display every day in our schools and classrooms, so pretending we can limit political considerations to "political science" classes (in high school) denies reality, and, more importantly, does not teach our children to think critically and see complex issues from multiple perspectives. To think that our students are not aware of identity politics at a young age is somewhat naive, so let's teach the how to dissect issues, think for themselves. I agree, however, that "activist" teachers should check their activism and beliefs at the door--or learn to model multiple perspectives in a respectful way, perhaps by bringing in guest speakers or readings with alternate viewpoints.

teach all

Anonymous said...

@teach all

I've heard from both teachers and school district officials (off the record) that having to teach non English learners is a huge drag on the system.

There are just too many groups competing for attention these days, that attention usually involves disrupting the school day or week and yes even the entire school year.

And good luck keeping activist out of the classroom. In SPS I think that's now a hiring requirement!


Anonymous said...

@Kellie "The cuts to librarians is getting a lot of attention. However, the cuts to high school are rather draconian and being described as modest."

I read the FAQ on the budget page and it seems like they are putting together a contingency plan in case the legislature votes on upcoming bills allowing the district to allocate more funds. Here is hoping that will be the case. As the parent from Franklin stated on another thread, most schools have one teacher teaching electives even the large high schools. We might see the only teacher who teaches electives such as computer science, band, art etc. cut at some of our high schools thus eliminating electives and thus a balanced high school experience. Classes sizes may also balloon well beyond 30-32. That would be very draconian.


Anonymous said...

@JS, ok, so "having to teach non English learners is a huge drag on the system." So what? That's the way it goes. Surely you're not suggesting we don't teach those who aren't already proficient in English, are you? Or maybe you are... Wow.

teach all

Melissa Westbrook said...

Some of you seem unaware that the WA State Constitution requires ALL children in its borders - citizens or not - to be educated. So it's a legal requirement. There are many children who need specialized help including ELL learners. And, there are costs but we bear them because it is better to educate children living in our state than not doing that.

I again say to readers, if you are making big opinion statements, you need to back that up with data. Or, "in my opinion." As well, read the posting rules or you will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

@MW come on you can't cherry pick your constitutions.


Melissa Westbrook said...

State constitutions rule the public education within a state (not including federal regs/guidelines.) From the WA state constitution:

It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

Yup. Every kid in the borders.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the word nationality is missing. I would argue that the original intent of SECTION 1 was never suppose to include non citizens and that's why nationality is missing. Residing also refers to resident, if a child fits the legal definition of a resident of both American and Washington state then it looks like the tax payers are on the hook, but if the child is not a resident then there is no legal obligation expressed or implied. We as a civil society should still allow access but without conforming to language or cultural differences.


Anonymous said...

I would guess that SCOTUS had no idea in 1982 how immigration ,legal or illegal would impact LEDs. It's also astonishing that the federal government would over reach twice on the same subject. First they try and tell states that they must follow a federal ruling by ignoring federal laws.

Another example of poor decisions made by activist judges.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually, residing meaning living in, not necessarily a resident per se. But unless you are a lawyer (and I am not) that would be for a court to decide. And there's no case so the state must educate all children within its borders.

"We as a civil society should still allow access but without conforming to language or cultural differences."

I don't know how to parse this.

Paramount Is Paramount said...


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyler vs. Doe (457 U.S. 202 (1982)) that undocumented children and young adults have the same right to attend public primary and secondary schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Like other children, undocumented students are obliged under state law to attend school until they reach a mandated age.

Not only do non-citizen minors, whether documented or not, have the right to attend public school, but under Washington state they they are obligated to attend school, just like any child.

Note that OSPI's guidance generally has the force of law under the powers given it by the state legislature.

Simon said...

"Activist judge" and "judge" are synonymous. All judges, whether conservative or progressive, are activist when they interpret law and especially when they interpret constitutional issues arising from but not explicitly articulated in law.

This article looks at an example of an "activist judge" (i.e., "judge") who is conservative:


Another example is Brett Kavanaugh's ruling on net neutrality on Free Speech grounds. That is totally an activist ruling, and conservative. Or did you think that when the First Amendment was adopted the Founding Fathers specifically had net neutrality and some kind of future Internet in mind when they adopted it:

When you say "activist judge," or "activist teacher," what you're saying is "this is a judge or teacher I don't agree with." Conservatives are every bit as activist, it's just that you are more likely to agree with them.

It would be more honest and actually more conducive to dialog if you were more plainspoken. When you wield a phrase like "activist judge" you are pretending to hide your critique of a progressive judge and your political stance behind neutral-sounding language that fools no one. I say "pretending," because you and everyone know exactly what you mean. So why be so passive in the way you express yourself?

If your views are strong and well supported, you don't need to hide behind silly code words. Say something more direct and more honest where you own up to your stance and stop hiding behind rhetorical blinds that everyone can see through anyway.

Anonymous said...

I interpreted this comment as not offering ELL education to undocumented students ""We as a civil society should still allow access but without conforming to language or cultural differences."

Offering ELL education is widely recognized as a bridge in aiding second language speakers in learning English. It also does not interrupt the natural (brain) learning process of young children who are already wired to learn all sorts of subjects in their native language. If you cut off a child and put them in an English only classroom for all subjects they would fall much further behind in all their subjects.

A long time ago we did not have ELL education for prior waves of immigrant children. Many of the outcomes were very negative. Both of my grandparents who came to the US as children dropped out of school as soon as they could after elementary school.


NNE Mom said...

There was a great article in the Economist about children around the world and the language of instruction.


Anonymous said...

Please don't come to America and start demanding to be accommodated. We can offer you a spot in our public schools, so be grateful or leave.


Anonymous said...

@Geez Are you really against ELL in this day and age? Our country as a whole is much better off when all our children within their borders learn to their potential. We are here together in one nation. I believe in best practices already demonstrated to work best in learning, not somebody's opinion.

Your immigrant ancestor