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Friday, March 29, 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:

“Kids are so traumatized by violence,” she said. “I want to make sure the kids know I’m OK.”

And a big shout-out to Metro bus driver, Eric Stark, who was shot but still got his bus and its passengers away from the continued shooting.

 Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, has now been told that her budget will include the funding for the Special Olympics.  But that still leaves a lot of cuts including help for students with autism and gifted programs:
While proposing to add $60 million more to charter school funding and create a tax credit for individual and companies that donate to scholarships for private schools, DeVos’ budget proposal would still cut more than $7 billion from the Education Department, about 10 percent of its current budget. Trump proposed a $4.7 trillion overall budget this month with an annual deficit expected to run about $1 trillion.

It calls for eliminating billions in grants to improve student achievement by reducing class sizes and funding professional development for teachers as well as cutting funds dedicated to increasing the use of technology in schools and improving school conditions. In many cases, DeVos said the purpose of the grants has been found to be redundant or ineffective.
At Wednesday night's Board meeting, the Board unanimously voted for Superintendent Juneau's new Strategic Plan.  There will be a State of the District speech by Juneau on April 16th from 5:30-7:00 pm at Seattle Central College.  There is a reception from 5:30-6:00pm with a program from 6-7 pm.

No director meetings this weekend; the Board will be participating in a 7-hour Racial Equity Training on Saturday. Not sure who is presenting but I have a call into the Board office.  The Department of Racial Equity Advancement (DREA) will be facilitating the training.

What's on your mind?

33 comments:

Mom said...

I am sorry so many rude people. Thank you again for all you do with advocacy for the schools and community.

Wow Mom said...

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/up-there-to-humiliate-is-a-seattle-schools-detention-list-bringing-shaming-back/

Washington Middle School is publicly shaming students!

Greg said...

Since this is an open thread, I thought this EdWeek article was bizarre, that a few school districts are banning DonorsChoose because they want administration to have more control over anything the teacher requests:

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2019/03/donors_choose_district_ban.html

"The state Comptroller has indicated that such sites are problematic for school districts because of lack of adequate controls ... These sites make it difficult for the district to monitor how money flows to individual schools, and there is no way to ensure that the materials teachers purchase are aligned to the district's curriculum"

Wow. I'm not sure what to say. How about properly funding the schools then?

Anonymous said...

So, in unanimously approving the new strategic plan, did any school board member raise the issue that the district is obligated to serve ALL students? Any language added other than that around African-American males?

Wondering said...

Is the Strategic Plan a license to dismantle advanced learning?

Anonymous said...

Greg,

Seattle Public Schools has a procedure that addresses the use of Donors Choose.

Fundraising activities through online crowdsourcing sites are permissible to use to solicit non-cash donations of supplies, material or equipment under the following criteria:
1. Prior written permission is received from the Superintendent or designee before posting the request;
2. All items are shipped to directly to the District’s central warehouse;
3. Supplies, materials, or equipment are consistent with District standards;
4. Once donated, all supplies, materials, or equipment become property of the
District; and
5. All fixed assets (equipment) are barcoded and added to the sites inventory
list.
DonorsChoose is one example of a site that meets the above criteria.


https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/Procedures/Series%206000/6102SP.pdf

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

WEA has a link to email legislators about the Levy Cliff
http://action.washingtonea.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=13612

Outta Seattle

Former WPD said...

The levy lift is PTA funding and DonorsChoose on major steroids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The levy lift is PTA funding and DonorsChoose on major steroids."

Please explain.

Dad said...

And on a positive note:

the state legislature upped the age to buy tobacco products! Good for all our kids.

http://mynorthwest.com/1325896/washington-state-smoking-vaping-tobacco-age-raised-bill/

Former WPD said...

Levy funding takes pressure off the legislature to fund education.

Some levy proposals seek to raise levy funding to $1B.


The state now provides funding for teacher salaries. The state infused significant amount of funds for teacher salaries. School boards across the state provided non-sustainable double digit pay increases that they could not afford. It is probably time for the state to involve themselves in collective bargaining agreements.

Robert Cruickshank said...

The legislature cut levies in 2017, is under pressure to fund education, and neither the House nor the Senate have done so. Legislators claim they made a bargain with voters but are consistently reneging on the terms of this supposed deal by continuing to underfund state obligations to districts - including the fact that their "significant amount of funds for teacher salaries" was one-time funding that goes away next year.

At this point I don't see any reason to believe what legislators are saying on this. They need to be pressured, yes - pressured to restore the previous levy caps, pressured to use a larger capital gains tax and use it for public education rather than other tax cuts, and they should be ignored whenever they push back.

Bumpy Road said...

Using local levy dollars to fund local school districts has been found to be problematic and unconstitutional in many states.

I take the reference above regarding local levy dollars to be PTA funds on steroids to be an apt analogy.

There are many education activities in Seattle that would like to see PTA dollars spread from the wealthier schools to the poorer schools. Some in those wealthy schools object to that. They want to raise the dollars that they can raise "locally" to fund those things that the district (and state) don't fund.

How is that different than a wealthy district like Seattle, wanting to raise revenues here to be used here? Shouldn't, under the arguments raised by those advocating for the sharing of PTA resources, the money raised in this rich area be spread out to those areas less fortunate?

In addition to the many jurisdictions that have found local funding unconstitutional, the sanctity of local district "control" has racial overtones. Post-Brown desegregation plans need not involve busing beyond school district boundaries. Perhaps this led to the "white-flight" of the 1970s or remains as an unspoken vestige when proponents argue that local districts should have unfettered levy raising and spending authority, I don't know. But it seems a plausible explanation.

McCleary will be viewed, in the decades to come, as a watershed case in this state. There will be further litigation to refine and illuminate its importance. Ultimately, we will have a state where virtually all of the education funding will come from Olympia. With that funding will come strings, many strings.

It's been 50 years since Brown. Is it inconceivable that we will have 50 years of litigation over funding and control in this state post-McCleary?

Well, my comments went a bit beyond where I thought they were going to go, but those are my thoughts.






Anonymous said...

So you want to tax me when I earn it. Tax me when I spend it then tax me again when I invest it. Tax me once shame on you. Tax me again shame on me. Tax me a third time, well you ain't going to tax me a third time.

Socilizuim


Anonymous said...

There are many education activities in Seattle that would like to see PTA dollars spread from the wealthier schools to the poorer schools. Some in those wealthy schools object to that. They want to raise the dollars that they can raise "locally" to fund those things that the district (and state) don't fund.

Under a previous superintendent, Olshefski, several years ago, funding was shifted so that poorer schools got more district money, and wealthier schools got less. Olshefski was counting on PTAs back-filling the reduced funds to wealthy schools. This is institutional knowledge people easily forget. If we were to switch to a PTA foundation system such as Portland's, we would need to re-equalize the district spending on each school first for apples-to-apples transparency. What happens now is, people at Title I schools think the PTAs are raising way too much money at rich schools but forget that the Title I schools are getting way more district/state money per head.

Skier

Melissa Westbrook said...

"There are many education activities in Seattle that would like to see PTA dollars spread from the wealthier schools to the poorer schools. Some in those wealthy schools object to that. They want to raise the dollars that they can raise "locally" to fund those things that the district (and state) don't fund."

What are "education activities?" Also, while everyone can have their opinion about PTA dollars, PTA is private. The district cannot tell them how to spend their money or to share it. The district can say, we won't allow PTA dollars to fund staff but that will never happen. PTA funds way too much for district management to let that revenue stream go. That's one example of the district talking "equity" and yet quietly doing nothing.

It is NOT just "wealthy schools" that want the levy lid raised. You'd have to show me proof of that claim.

"How is that different than a wealthy district like Seattle, wanting to raise revenues here to be used here? Shouldn't, under the arguments raised by those advocating for the sharing of PTA resources, the money raised in this rich area be spread out to those areas less fortunate?"

I'm not sure conflating a levy lid with PTA funding works. Seattle Schools, under the legislature's new property tax, does not keep all of the money raised from that property tax for SPS. So it's not like Seattle's property-wealth is truly staying local. The dollars ARE being spread out to less fortunate areas.

"In addition to the many jurisdictions that have found local funding unconstitutional, the sanctity of local district "control" has racial overtones."

That might be true everywhere in the country but the issue of "local control" extend way beyond the funding issue to other items like curriculum, sex education, athletics, etc.

It's Olchefske (I had to spend time learning how to spell his name).

Skier, what you say is true but it is not apples to apples when PTA funds can be spent multiple ways but Title One funds are quite restricted to certain uses.

The district could talk to SCPTSA and ask about what their thoughts are. The district could talk to parents about what sharing might look like. The district should consider the ramifications if they pushed hard on sharing which might mean more families leaving and/or schools that had previous supports from PTA now asking for money because the PTA fundraising has severely dropped.

Anonymous said...

@Melissa

This group seems to be trying to become the redistributor of PTA wealth. I understand they may have SCPTSA support:

https://families4equity.org/

It's the one with Blanford on the advisory board someone mentioned before.

Skier

Anonymous said...

Robert C, it is absolutely not true that the $1 billion dollars the legislature invested in teachers salaries last session "was one-time funding that goes away next year." The 2018 legislature chose to accelerate by one year the agreement reached in 2017 to fully fund those salaries beginning next school year. It was not one-time funding but a year ahead of what they agreed to the McCleary agreement.

Those teacher salaries will cost the state $4.5 billion dollars in the 2019-21 biennial budget. And that cost is essentially eating up the extraordinary revenue growth this state is experiencing, providing the Democrat majorities the opportunity to raise further raise taxes and create additional taxation, i.e., a capital gains income tax.

Francis

Former WPD said...

Building a state budget that relies on implementing a 9.9 percent capital gains is a reckless approach to state budgeting and the Senate understands this. Capital gains tax aka income tax will be tied up in the courts- for years. Capital gains tax is highly volatile. At 9.9%, Washington will have the 3rd highest capital gains tax in the nation and the manner it will impact revenues is difficult to predict.

Pushing districts over the levy cliff was irresponsible. Relying on a controversial capital gains/ income tax is equally irresponsible.

Thanks, Francis.


Former WPD said...

As is, the capital gains/ income tax is very narrowly defined which contributes to increased volatility.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay Francis and Former WPD, what do you think the legislature and the district should do?

Anonymous said...

I think the legislature should fully fund its basic education obligations, including those for special education, through existing and growing revenues. I think they should also return to funding health care for educators at the rate they agreed to in 2017. I also think the legislature should take over statewide collective bargaining with the WEA and PSE. They are paying the bulk of the bills. They should have final say of the largest K-12 expenditure by far --- teacher salaries.

I think the district should stop using students with disabilities as political pawns and stop agreeing to collective bargaining agreements without the committed appropriations and levy funding that is projected. While it is true that the legislature has not fully funded special education costs, the raises agreed to in the last two collective bargaining agreements were known each time to be unsustainable. The union and the district made a political calculation that the legislature would back fill these expenditures. Students are the ones --- as always --- that are going to be harmed by this calculation.

The district, since they are unlikely to get the local levy authority to close the budget gap they and the union created, class sizes are going to have to rise. But those class sizes should rise only for the most senior and experienced teachers. These teachers are capable of managing more students and they're receiving the largest salaries, so they should get more students. No positions should be cut except for those that are due to enrollment declines.

Finally, if additional revenue is needed, then increases to current taxes should rise. The REET and closing of some tax loopholes should be sufficient. But I wouldn't use that additional revenue for K-12, I would use it for early learning and higher education.

Francis

Former WEA said...

I agree with much of Francis's comment.

Adding:

-Teachers need to loose pay for striking. Private unions loose pay for striking. WEA should be no different.

-State allocations need to go towards specific purposes. For example, funding for nurses and counselors must be used for intended purposes. These dollars should not be used for salary and benefit enhancements.

I do feel the need to call attention to underfunded systems in which people are dying. For example: mental health and foster care. The must work to protect these vulnerable populations. Librarians, in the big scheme, is a luxury.


Lastly, we have just gone through a tremendous bull market. Increasingly, economists are predicting that we may see a recession in a couple of years. Beware.







Former WPD said...

I believed in local bargaining until WEA, local unions and local school boards proved they did not have the capacity to work within existing revenue streams.

Anonymous said...

About librarians:

At my kids' school, the library is a really safe space. If a kid wants quiet at recess, they are always welcome to go the library. For introverts, the library is important to mental health. Some kids can't handle being social for 6+ hours straight. Also, the librarian is another trusted adult in the building. If a kid has a personality conflict with a teacher, it is another person to lean on.

I want to speak up for those quiet, sensitive kids who don't always have a voice. For those kids, the librarian is as important as a school counselor. Those kids may not act out, they may not cause trouble, and as a result they may be ignored. They may be too shy or embarrassed to go to the school counselor. How many famous people have described how books helped them to recover from the hardships in their lives? I bet that applies to more than a few of us reading this blogs.

Librarians aren't only about books. They are a lifeline for the intellectually curious and sensitive kids for whom a playground seems like something out of "Lord of the Flies."

WS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I think the legislature should fully fund its basic education obligations, including those for special education,...through existing and growing revenues."

And this;

Increasingly, economists are predicting that we may see a recession in a couple of years. Beware."

Contradict each other so what to think?

What I do think (and know) is that no matter where you get the money, this state's taxing is regressive to those who can least afford it.

"The district, since they are unlikely to get the local levy authority to close the budget gap they and the union created, class sizes are going to have to rise. But those class sizes should rise only for the most senior and experienced teachers. These teachers are capable of managing more students and they're receiving the largest salaries, so they should get more students."

Great, let's just get on that Betsy DeVos train of "bigger classes are better." I won't disagree that more senior teachers should take that on, should it happen.

I do not believe librarians a luxury unless you truly don't understand their role in education today. But yes, we need more supports across the board.

Anonymous said...

Did I say somewhere that bigger class sizes are better?

Francis

Sarcastic One said...


Hang onto those special education dollars. SEA will be negotiating again this year!

WEA and local unions pushed us over the levy cliff this year. There is no reason, in my mind, that the unions will swipe special education dollars.

Then, the unions will begin chanting that the state needs funds to pay for nurses and counselors!!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Francis, you said class sizes would have to rise as if that would be okay. It's not.

There is no reason, in my mind, that the unions will swipe special education dollars."

Huh?

Anonymous said...

It's not OK that class sizes would have to rise and larger class sizes are not better than smaller class sizes. Can I be any clearer?

This is what the district and the union forced via the last two CBAs, though. Don't blame me for suggesting that the district will now need to lose some teachers. Numbers of teachers and teacher salaries are far and away the largest cost drivers to a school district. If the district increases teacher salaries without a requisite revenue increase to cover those increases, then reducing the number of teachers is a logical (and unfortunate) consequence. No other single budget item gets you balanced.

Francis

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Of course staff salaries are most of the cost of a district.

The district did (wrongly) believe they had a revenue source but were not thinking the GOP would then take away another source (levies).

Anonymous said...

The budget materials for tomorrow night's work session have been posted on the SPS website. Staff has doubled down on their projection that enrollment is decreasing significantly next year, particularly at the high school level. Makes no sense to me.

Where were these projections when the Board was determining BEX V priorities? If these were the actual projected enrollment numbers, wouldn't the focus for BEX V have been on school condition rather than increased capacity? Why did the staff hide these numbers?

And where are the five year enrollment projections?

WS Parent