Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Magazine has a story on disconnecting kids from their phones at school.
BCS (Bellevue Christian School) middle school joined 20 other Washington state schools in implementing Yondr, a lockable phone pouch. The technology is simple: the user puts his or her phone in the pouch—which is slightly bigger than an iPhone—and shuts it. Once the pouch is shut, there is no way of accessing the smartphone. Users can only open the pouch at a magnetic unlocking station, keeping students off their phones and paying attention.

Olson says BCS hasn’t done research into how Yondr has changed students' academic performance, but the culture shifts were immediately evident: more eye contact, classroom engagement and students interacting with one another at lunch, to name a few.

“What we have seen is once they have enough time and go through that initial detox the vast majority of students tend to think that it is pretty nice,” Olson says.
Lots of great Q&A on Facebook about opting out of state testsYes, you can still opt your child out and no, your school won't lose money.  (The feds always threaten that but there is no documented case that any school/district has lost money.)  The school may provide something for your kid to do but be sure to send a book/activity materials just in case.

Sad article about kindergarten from the Stamford Advocate:
A new University of Virginia study found that kindergarten changed in disturbing ways from 1999-2006. There was a marked decline in exposure to social studies, science, music, art and physical education and an increased emphasis on reading instruction. Teachers reported spending as much time on reading as all other subjects combined. 
From what I have seen, this is true, at least for some SPS kindergartens.  But is this teacher's choice or getting those kids ready for Common Core?  Probably the latter.

In what has to be the most jaw-dropping jail sentence so far this year, a 26-year old bus driver in New York got NO jail time and just 10 weeks probation for raping a 14-year old girl.
Shane Piche, 26, will be registered as a Level 1 sex offender, according to the Waterford Daily Times. The judge reportedly said because he had no prior arrests and there was one victim, the sentence was appropriate.
You'd have to wonder what sentence the judge gives for a first murder?

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
The WMS Principal is resigning at the end of the year. Email to WMS community:

Dear Washington Community,

I am writing to let you know that I am resigning as principal of Washington Middle School at the end of the school year.

I've worked my entire career in urban schools to advance the education of students and engage families disenfranchised by the public-school system. After reviewing the school year, I have come to the realization that my skills and passion are better suited elsewhere.

I am committed to ensuring a strong close to the school year and a smooth transition for the next WMS leader before my last day on June 30th. I wish only the best for the students, families, and staff of the WMS community.

District office staff will reach out to the WMS community in the next few weeks and provide additional information about the transition and next school year.


Principal Butler Ginolfi

Anonymous said…
Does anyone know the timeline for teachers to request to leave a school? Has it already passed or can they still change their mind and stay?
Anonymous said…
Sounds like she got fired, or was about to be fired. I hope this is the beginning of a turnaround at our school. Let's come together and heal.

Save WMS
Wise words, Save WMS
Anonymous said…
For what Butler Ginolfi did to Washington Middle School’s kids, teachers, and parent/guardian community, I wish her a long period of unemployment so that she can use the time to reflect upon her arrogance, derision, incompetence, unresponsiveness, and overall destructiveness to a school that did nothing to deserve that pain. Perhaps then she can avoid doing the same to someone else.

WMS can and will rally, they are resilient, determined, and graceful, and yet, they’ve taken knocks for 4 years. Butler Ginolfi’s predecessor also had a condensing, distant, heavy-handed attitude and caused negative change at WMS. Just look at the demeanor in WMS’s school cafeteria, for example.

WMS has wounds that are going to take a long time to repair, and, it will only happen if they restore the kind of access that every school should have, obviously the basics like science, but also world language and instrumental music (which ARE NOT HCC “COURSES”!!!). The work this district did years ago with the Arts Advantage grant funding to weave instrumental music INTO GHS feeder schools was completely sabotaged by Butler Ginolfi so the district via its art ed dept should help assist to create understanding and embrace of how music brings together ALL people as it supports positive academic outcomes for ALL who participate. The district’s International dept. should also help support the community to understand how similarly participation in world languages supports a college bound pathway for ALL. The district must provide mitigation dollars for that which they broke.

AND ALL SCHOOLS, elementary, middle, high, K8, options and ALEs should get THE SAME PROCESS to hire & install a principal. That is essential to avoid the Butler Ginolfi types in the future. EVERY PRINCIPAL HIRE IN ALL SCHOOLS SHOULD BE INTERVIEWED BY A SCHOOL BASED HIRING COMMITTEE. That ought to be a non-negotiable.

That is a broken process. That needs fixing.

(Unlike barring students from taking outside courses for credit - in that they are CREATING a real problem)

sorry, move
Anonymous said…
While EBG brought her own set of problems to WMS, our community needs to rise above the principal conversation (and now we can!) and look to the source of our issues. The District hired EBG. The parents who were involved in the process met a different EBG that the one our school community experienced. I believe that the District had different goals for her work performance than the WMS community did. The District has drawn the boundary lines that are leading to a shrinking enrollment at WMS. The District has changed the HCC qualification process, leading to fewer students in HCC and a shrinking enrollment at WMS. The District made the choice to split WMS and Meany, creating 2 schools that don't have enough students enrolled to adequately fund a middle school program. The District needs to take responsibility for these decisions and make changes that positively impact students at WMS and Meany.

Looking forward with hope to a more united WMS community.
kellie said…
The boundary decision between Washington and Meany, also involved redirecting a feeder school from Mercer to Washington.

Now Mercer is the most over-crowded middle school in the district and Washington is shrinking. Washington's boundaries are simply not large enough to fill the school.

It is long past time, for a thorough boundary review process.

Anonymous said…
If the district won’t do it, can parent volunteers start some sort of “Academy” type after school program for WMS feeder schools, to help potentially highly capable students from underreported groups ultimatel qualify for HCC? It might help (a little) to help bridge the divide if it’s clearer that HCC services are needed by neighborhood students, too. All students should be able to get services at the appropriately challenging level.

It might also be nice to see parents of HCC students at WMS volunteering in NOZn-HCC classes, if that’s not already happening. Then again, you need to know that your own child’s needs are being met to some extent before you’re likely to devote your time elsewhere instead.

All types
Anonymous said…
"Looking forward..." until the District comes to its senses and kicks Sarah Pritchett out we will continue to see these dysfunction in every single school that she oversees. She probably will get another free pass, but I hope she won't.

Another looking forward
Anonymous said…
Is Mercer popular partially because of its math curricula? I have heard they are very successful with Saxon math.

I wish the District would study different outcomes of curricula. If they are seeing good results why don’t they expand this at other schools?

I have posed this question to Anna Box at SPS. She said they made other schools aware of it but it sounded like they did not do any more than that.

S parent
Anonymous said…
As mentioned in Friday's Open Thread, Policy 2024, Online Learning, is back for Introduction to the Board. Many issues remain.

Anonymous said…
OK, two things.

Emily Butler Ginolfi's record of wreaking havoc was easily Google-able BEFORE she was hired. Did no one Google her? How is this possible? How can we avoid this happening in the future?

Second, the parents at WMS are to be commended. This resignation is due entirely to the tenacity of parents to make it happen.

Two Cats

Anonymous said…
I'm glad Emily Butler Ginolfi made the decision to resign as Principal and I truly wish her the best as she moves on to the next position.

And I'm angry at the time and energy that has been wasted this year. So many hours that could have been spent "advancing the education of students" and "engaging families disenfranchised by the public-school system" (to quote EBG's resignation email). WMS families support these goals.

SPS, please learn from this hiring mistake! Show us that our school, our students, matter. Engage with WMS families so that we can be a part of choosing the leader we need.

Anonymous said…
I am continually disappointed at the amount of time my middle and high schooler spend on their phones during the day. I know Roosevelt (others?) were implementing stricter cell phone restrictions at the beginning of the year. How has that worked? If it was successful, can other schools look at that as a positive example? Was the school able to follow through? Sadly, I remember a handful of parents complaining about their kids needing constant access to phones, though I thought it a great idea and would love to see cell phone policies enacted at my kids' schools.

Outsider said…
The mistake in hiring the last WMS principal was thinking political correctness and consummate wokeness could substitute for actual competence and leadership skills. They can't. This is an easy mistake to see and avoid, if SPS is willing.

Actually, hyper-wokeness tends to correlate with negative traits: the tendency to see evil, inferior people all around you; the tendency to demonize and smear anyone who disagrees with you; the tendency to act without consultation because you don't trust anyone; the tendency to blame everything on your enemies. All of these tendencies seem to have played out at WMS. Actual leadership skills and competence in running an organization are something totally different.
Jet City mom said…
Two cats, despite the amount of money that the district has spent on technology and training on that technology, I do not believe that district servers allow commonly used search engines.
Otherwise, several other brouhahas could have been avoided.
MGJ and friends for example.RIP.
Anonymous said…
I find it ironic that the science department is supposedly so concerned about digital literacy, yet they won't let kids access commonly used search engines.
Owler said…
Kudos to the parents at WMS. Is there a way to support the parents and the school and perhaps follow the progress as they attempt to restrengthen the school?

Separately, from another education blog I follow, there was this pull quote that I've been thinking about tonight about how to talk about teaching as a profession:
"So don't say "We have a teacher shortage." Say "we can't convince qualified people to take this job": or "we won't try to make these jobs attractive enough to draw in qualified people."Stop pretending this is some act of God; even the dust bowl turned out to be the result of bad human choices and not nature's crankiness. If we start talking about what-- and who-- is really responsible, perhaps we can fix the problem-- but only if we start with the correct diagnosis." (https://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2019/04/why-its-important-to-say-there-is-no.html)
Meany parent said…
Why is it a never ending problem with SPS with hiring bad or incompetent principals. You would think for $150,000 per year you would hire better than incompetent.
Meany middle school also has an incompetent principal who alienates teachers and doesn't want to deal with difficult situations.
We have a teacher who constantly touches kids innapropriately. The principal knows about it and does nothing. She has had half a dozen parents escorted out of the building when they come to confront her about not responding to their emails.
Thank God there are just 8 more weeks
Anonymous said…
We have one obvious problem, principal hiring, and one hidden problem, executive directors. The ED's are doing the principal hiring, and they aren't doing a good job- and they don't suffer much when principals cause damage. WMS is only the worst case, there are many others with mediocre principals who can't really be fired. ED's have little contact with the public and are out of sight out of mind, but cleaning house and getting rid of bad ED's would help a lot.

New ED's
Ed said…
I'm with "new ED's" except, what do they do the rest of the year?

Anonymous said…
Watch the principal hiring process at Asa Mercer. Sarah Pritchard is leading the process.

Two Cats
Anonymous said…
Pritchett, my bad.

Two Cats
Anonymous said…
I think we should use the funds for the EDs to make the school board full time and staffed with support staff. Then I think we can see governance work.

Also here at HIMS our staff and admin implemented an 'away for the day' phone policy that has worked really well. The need was well documented and there was a decent amount of engagement with staff so the implementation went quite well. Students are required to keep their phones in their lockers and turned off.

-Theo Moriarty
Anonymous said…
"I think we should use the funds for the EDs to make the school board full time and staffed with support staff."

I strongly second this.

Among staff, I'd include some with finance, operations, and research/analytics backgrounds.

I'd like them to develop a written history of decisions and outcomes for current and future Boards. Institutional Memory 101. Of course, first they would have to analyze outcomes from all those decisions. A great on-boarding project for staff.

I wouldn't house them at JSCEE.

Anonymous said…
@Theo, out of curiosity, how does it work if a student has an IEP or 504 plan that allows or calls for e-reading, electronic turn-in, close communication with teachers, etc. Or what about students with Dybrowskian overexcitabilities (probably a fair number at HIMS, since common in gifted students) who need small breaks throughout the day (e.g., a chance to listen to soothing music during passing periods and lunch, in order to calm and refocus for the next class)?

Is the implementation going well for these types of students--or just for more typical students, and the staff? Has anybody actually looked at the impact on students whose plans address issues such asSLDs, anxiety, ADHD, etc. via tech-related accommodations and recommended strategies?

My sense is that sweeping policies like this tend to focus on neurotypical students, with little thought given to potential negative impacts on those who already face significantly more challenges.

all types

Anonymous said…
@All types,

If there is a health issue such as blood sugar tracking or any 504/IEP accommodations then we ensure that students who need that tech including iPads and laptops or any other necessary accommodation is observed. This policy was for the recreational devices that were problematic. Implementation went really smoothly and the kids had a lot of buy in as well which was refreshing for a school rule. It's not perfect and there are a few kids for whom it is still problematic but that's an exceedingly low percentage and overall the implementation has been strong and strongly supported by the whole community.

Theo Moriarty
nophone said…
Cool! An Away for the Day policy - and it's working at a Seattle middle school. Can other middle school teachers/leaders learn and consider something similar? My kid is in middle school and says one reason she has trouble making friends is for the 1/2 hour she has lunch a lot of kids are on their phones. Same on the bus. I feel this is sad - they should be learning to interact. The other day she told me "I don't like people. I'm not a people person." Yikes--she was not like that in elementary school, she is a social person.

I also am concerned about my kid looking at inappropriate material on other kids' phones. Is there anything in place to stop that? She is only 11 !!

No-phone policy. Great idea!
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NoPhone, I had to smile ruefully at this:

"I also am concerned about my kid looking at inappropriate material on other kids' phones. Is there anything in place to stop that?"

This is why I am glad my kids are grown. It only takes ONE kid to show your child something they cannot unsee or unknow. There have been numerous articles about boys who think "porn sex" is sex (and the trouble that causes their sexual development) and/or see porn sex at 9,10,11 and are unable to process it and certainly won't go to their parents about their upset.

That would be a difficult policy to enforce - "no showing of nude/naked photos or videos of sex during the school day,etc. " The district could acknowledge this issue at the beginning of the year and send something home in a first-day packet about talking to your kid about phone use but beyond that, I don't think there is much they can do.

Anonymous, I'll reprint your remarks but in the future, pick a name; no anonymous comments allowed.

"To “No Phone” - I do agree that it is sad (and worrisome) that our students are so distracted by their smartphones. Personal connections with others should not be superceded by devices, yet I see it becoming more of an issue with not just kids but adults, too. A no-phone policy for a day is cool and forward-thinking. But that is just one day out of many, and I believe the issues run deep in our society regarding the addictive use of smartphones. Parents and guardians should think twice before making that first smartphone purchase or handing that used one down to your kiddo. Wait until 8th or 9th grade, if possible, or if you need a way to stay in touch, try a scaled-down phone without the internet access. Don’t mean to “guilt-trip” us parents and guardians but these decisions should start with us and should be seriously weighed."
Anonymous said…
HIMS is also where a student recorded their [very impassioned] teacher during a lesson on a controversial youtube personality. The 'away for a day' policy could be a school response to the incident (kind of a tipping point), not just some altruistic concern about screen time.

Question said…
Why wasn't Director Zachary DeWolf at the last school board meeting? Was there a conflicting campaign event for Seattle City Council?
Question, DeWolf, in the middle of a question at the COW meeting on Tuesday, told everyone that his grandmother was dying and he would be going to see her. I would assume that he then left on Wednesday.

I do think that when members of the Board are not at Board meetings that it would be good to just note why - traveling, at a conference, death/illness in family - as Board meetings are the most important work times for members.
Anonymous said…
I no longer have a middle school student but if I did I would want them to carry a working phone at all times, most likely a phone with little more than voice/text functions. When an alarming incident occurs at a school a phone can be a lifeline. But the phone can provide some safety and peace of mind without video and internet access.


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