Showing posts from March, 2019

Friday Open Thread

The story about the man who shot up a street near Lake City and killed two innocent people was bad enough.  But to learn that, Deborah Judd,  a second-grade teacher at Laurelhurst was one of his other victims - shot three times while driving her car - was shocking.  What is truly sad is that she said she had thought that might happen in her school.  Her thoughts were not far from her students:

District Told By DoE That They Are Violating Federal Law in Use of Check Yourself Screener

Update from Ronald Boy, Legal at SPS: I had another phone meeting with the Department of Education this afternoon and received information that conflicts with the previous guidance received.  In light of this, and recognizing the important feedback from our community, we are informing the three schools currently using the Check Yourself screener that its use must be put on hold until direct parent/guardian notification occurs regardless of the type of use (i.e. singular use and universal). The notification will:

Updates on the City's New Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy

The City Council's committee on Education met today to discuss the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise levy (FEPP).  On hand were Chair Lorena Gonzalez and member Rob Johnson.  Neither Vice-Chair Teresa Mosqueda or Alternate Debora Juarez were there. They were discussing issues with City staff about the Implementation and Evaluation Plan that is required under the levy.  I read the Plan and certainly found many issues so I went down and testified. Here's what I told/asked the Committee:

New Updates on Check Yourself Reveal District is Violating Federal Law

This is an email I sent to the Board earlier this week:

Curriculum&Instruction Committee Discussion on Science Adoption

Instructional Materials Update (Science Adoption)  Head of Science, Mary Margaret Welch, said she wanted to frame the discussion around "gratitudes" to the three committees of 90 people who had given their time to this effort.  She said there would be five BARs - Chemistry, Physics, Elementary, Middle and High School - for the sciences. She said there was an FAQ on this work but the link appears to be dead.

Tuesday Open Thread

From Lowell Elementary PTA :

Curriculum & Instruction Committee Meeting, March 21, 2019

There were many areas of teaching and learning covered but I won't be covering all items on the agenda .  I neglected to request all the documentation for this meeting - as they require anyone to do because for some reason they refuse to attach it to the agenda - so I will request it. There were many areas of good discussion but I found the Science adoption discussion and the discussion about Policy 3232, Parent and Student Rights in Administration of Surveys, Analysis or Evaluations.  (Editor's note: I'm going to pull out both for a separate thread as I may have new information soon.) I will also note a curious statement from Kyle Kinoshita because it occurred when speaking of Honors for All (where it didn't fit).  He said that elementary math in SPS is only 40% aligned to standards and that decision "predated him."  What?

Saturday Open Thread

Crosscut has a story on the new Strategic Plan (I was interviewed for the story).  Remember how this district says everything will be viewed thru the Racial Equity tool?  Apparently the new plan wasn't.  Director Geary, who is all things equity, says the committee overlooked using it.  (There are several times when reading BARs before the Board that it isn't used.  Hard to understand when the district will or will not use it but it seems to be ... at will.)

Check Yourself Screener for Middle School Youth; Cracks Starting to Show

I have been reporting on the issue of the middle school mental health screener, Check Yourself, being used in some SPS middle schools as well as middle school throughout King County.  It comes to districts via King County's levy, Best Starts for Kids, and involves screening students for issues and then referring them, via a practice called SBIRT ( Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment) to treatment.   The screener, which longer than almost any other of its type, is also not been validated.  My earlier stories are here and here . There are new developments.

Contests/Scholarships for Students

From the Office of Representative Pramila Jayapal:

Tuesday Open Thread

We have one person now running for Seattle school board in November - it's Rebeca Muniz and she's running (I believe) in Jill Geary's seat.  (Geary is stepping down and I believe this will be the most competitive seat unless the other incumbents also choose to leave.)

More Science Adoption Updates

Update -At the Curriculum & Instruction meeting this afternoon at JSCEE from 4:30 to 6:30, this may happen: Staff is proposing to strike an entire paragraph from 2020 that requires district staff to evaluate the efficacy of current materials in use, including those used via waiver, in preparation for a curriculum adoption process. That means that the Science office would not need to produce data on the past 1-2 year de facto pilot of Amplify science. What's the point of of all these waivers if not to get precisely that kind of data? 

BEX V Work Session

This was the second Work Session that came after the Budget Work Session.  Both were held at Garfield High School.

Go Talk to Your State Legislator

From Washington's Paramount Duty: The Balance Our Tax Code coalition, which includes Washington's Paramount Duty, has collected information on the legislature's upcoming town hall meetings. Please click here to find the date, time, and location of the town hall meeting for your district -- and make a commitment to attend!

Friday Open Thread

On the heels of the horrific shooting at a mosque in New Zealand yesterday , I give one suggestion. There is video out there of at least part of the shooting (the shooter put a camera on his head).   I would suggest telling your child to NOT watch it.  I know, if you tell them, they might not have known and might want to watch.  However, I urge you to tell them there is never a good reason to watch a live killing of anyone and, in this case, dozens of people.  There's always some smart kid at school who might want to come up and ask your kid, "Wanna see this?"  Tell your child to say no. You cannot unsee that kind of thing. Superintendent Juneau issued a statement/apology about the issue of the district letter to parents about testing and Ramadan .   She said this:

"Staffing Capacity" Explained

From our sage, Kellie LaRue:

The District Seems to Have a Problem with Religion (or at least holidays)

Once again the district missteps on religious holidays. You may recall that last fall, members of the Jewish faith were not happy that the 2018-2019 school calendar had kindergarten starting on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).  The district did apologize. It seemed odd that happened because OSPI has a published list of holidays and important dates for many religions. Indeed, I also wrote this at the beginning of the school year:

On Getting Into College

In the wake of the college admissions cheating scandal, there have been a number of worthy articles. The story in short via The New Yorker :

Tuesday Open Thread

In case you missed it, there is a Facebook group for science in SPS called Save Science in Seattle Schools.  If you have concerns about science in SPS write to: MaryMargaret (, head of Science, Rick Burke ( Jill Geary (, head of the Curriculum&Instruction Committee Diane DeBacker (, Chief Academic Officer March is Music in Our Schools Month in SPS as Superintendent Juneau writes in her journal .  As well, a local group, t he Newcombe Foundation has a program for getting musical instruments to students in need in some areas of the Puget Sound region including Seattle.  Their deadline for application is April 30th.

Updates on the Budget Issues in Seattle Schools

It appears that the numbers being used for student enrollment at some schools do not match the enrollment numbers at OSPI. Anyone know a reason that might be? Budget submission from school committees are due this week, and most have been given new information less than two weeks ago.

Science Updates for Seattle Schools

Update : At the Board meeting, Director Jill Geary, head of the Curriculum and Instruction committee, said that she would welcome questions from parents/staff about the Science adoption.  She said knowing the questions would allow her to pass them along to staff. End of update Once again, I have to shake my head.  (At this rate, Linda Blair will have nothing on me and many days, I do feel like my head is going to go around and around, trying to take in all that this district's dysfunction has to offer.) (Yes, I just said the district is dysfunctional which is something I have denied for a long time.  No more.  And this thread is just the start.) Updates on the ongoing Science adoptions:

The Latest Strategic Plan

Not to give it away but it's the just about the same draft Strategic Plan as before.  It comes up for Intro at this Wednesday's Board meeting. It's interesting that the Superintendent, in an interview with the Times, called the early draft of the Strategic Plan "just words" and, well, that looks a lot like what is going to be. It is astonishing to see after months of working with consultants, online survey input and, of course, the work of the Steering Committee, no real change.  How a draft document can allegedly undergo that type of input/oversight and stay nearly in the same place is a mystery. Except that it's not. The consultants? Talked a good game at one Work Session and were never heard from again. The online survey and community meetings (all done in January in a fairly rushed fashion)?   I do not recall results being tabulated and released.  I just did a check and don't see them at the district so what was said/conveyed to the distri

Seattle Schools Budget Work Session

After yesterday's Work Sessions, I confess to many feelings - feeling flummoxed, confused, irritated and even feeling admiration at so many people trying to do their best. The entire Board was present as was the Superintendent.  Garfield principal Ted Howard was also in attendance. Budget head JoLynn Berge led the discussion for staff.  She noted that 85% of districts around the state are in the same place as Seattle.  However, she didn't note that many districts do not have the ability to pass levies the way Seattle Schools does. She said the next Work Session on the Budget on April 3rd will be to find consensus on restoration issues. 

Friday Open Thread

 Update: Director Rick Burke will be having his community meeting this afternoon at 4 pm at the Fremont Branch Library.  Director DeWolf will be joining him.  They will be talking about science/science adoption. I apologize for the late notice but his meeting was not on the district calendar when I wrote this thread. end of update 8:35 am - Look at that snow come down (at least where I am).  I hope this backs off, melts and allows everyone in schools to get home safely this afternoon. I'm late in getting this out but here's a link to OSPI's Washington Report Card where you can view by district or by school.  Makes for some interesting reading . The New York Times reports that wealthy white school districts provide more money than poorer school districts that serve students of color.   Missing from the article is any mention of private funding via PTA or booster groups.

Happy International Women's Day!

Here's one of my new favorite girls/women: Swedish climate champion , Greta Thunberg. From the NY Times:

Spate of Stranger Attempts to Lure Middle School Girls to Cars

 From Friends of Robert Eagle Staff Middle School PTSA Facebook:

Board Work Sessions on Budget and on BEX V Implementation Planning

 Update: here's a video of the Superintendent "explaining" the shortfall situation.  It's nothing new; I think most parents understand by now that 1)there are new K-12 dollars but also 2) the Legislature also took away the level of dollars accessible in local levies.  More to come in a new thread from my attendance at the Work Session on the Budget. end of update There are two Board Work Sessions scheduled for Wednesday, the 6th, at Garfield High School.  The Budget Work Session starts at 4:30 pm while the BEX V Implementation Planning Work Session starts at 6:00 pm.  Agenda 

Tuesday Open Thread

 Today is a meeting for the Advanced Learning Task Force .  On the agenda is a discussion of twice exceptional students, looking at research-based "Successful Practices" and "To prepare for Service Delivery recommendations."  Looks like good work being done. Just to note, many , many other districts in the state are struggling with cuts .  It's not just Seattle Schools. A good story from KNKX on the Dyslexia Advisory Committee for the state that is working on screening tools for districts. 

Please Keep a Lookout for Zoe Burns

Superintendent Juneau's Conversation with the Times

In an interview with the Seattle Times , Superintendent Juneau says "she’s learning how to be more patient."

Site-Based Interview Team Training

Special Site Based Interview Team Training – Saturday, March 9, 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! Best, Leslie S. Harris, Director District 6, President, Seattle School Board