Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday Open Thread

It feels like a "let's get ready to rumble" kind of day.  Lots to cover.
The speakers list for tomorrow night's Board meeting is up: I made the list along with 24 other people with 45 (!) people on the waitlist.  Sadly, there's one annoying gadfly guy who used to harass the City Council and is now becoming a regular at the Board meetings.  The head of Science, Mary Margaret Welch, is on the list which I find inappropriate (I suspect she's holding a place for someone else.) I'd have to go check who's on the adoptions committees against who is on this list.  The majority of speakers will be speaking to the Science adoptions.  There are several on the waitlist who wanted to speak to "White Supremacy in Seattle Public Schools."

If anyone has a child who has used Amplify and would like to express an opinion against it at the Board meeting, let me know. (sss.westbrook@gmail.com)

New entries for the School Board races as Friday, May 17th is the last day to register as a candidate.

Update: there is the PDC where candidates register their campaigns and King County Elections where they register to run.   Here are updates in red on the candidates:

District 1 (Scott Pinkam's seat - he announced he is not running again)
- Eric Blumhagen (previously announced)
- I am hearing that SCPTSA board member Liza Rankin may be running; her name is not at the PDC yet. Liza Rankin has filed.
- Sanaz Saadat - a UW grad student with a PhD in oral health science

District 2 (Rick Burke's seat - he has not announced if he is running again)
-  No one yet

I will call King County Elections and ask them what happens if Burke doesn't run and no one files to run.

District 3 (which Jill Geary is vacating has the most number of candidates at 3)
- Rebeca Muniz (previously announced)
- Benjamin Leis (SPS parent)
- I am hearing Chandra Hampson, SPS parent and SCPTSA President, may be running. Chandra Hampson is running.

District 6 (which Leslie Harris represents and she is running again)
- I am hearing of a contender against Harris but again, no one yet registered at the PDC. Molly E. Mitchell has filed with KC Elections.  

end of election updates

An Eckstein sixth grader’s older brother was the victim of gun violence at 21st and Union in the Central District last week.  There is a GoFundMe organized by the PTSA for the family.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I wish Burke would announce his intentions. I suspect there are people who would be interested, but knowing that he is effective and popular, they don't want to run against him. -TeacherMom

Anonymous said...

My child had both AP exams scheduled the same day today, and didn't get food in between, and had to wait through the first half of the second test to use the bathroom. Oof.

-best luck

Anonymous said...

Liza Rankin has a distinguished career in service to public school children, and her heart is in the right place, but she has a lot of backward and misguided ideas about how to solve racial equity issues, the PTA funding issue and so forth. My impression from listening to her speak and read what she's written is that she lacks deep institutional knowledge about the district (she knows more about the wealthy part of NE Seattle where she lives than most of District 1, which is mostly middle class to poor). She is also the author of some of SCPTSA's convoluted and verbose statements. Being a bad writer is not necessarily a bad thing, but being a bad thinker would be.

There is a large group of racial equity champions working together to get Chandra Hampson and Liza Rankin on the school board. It is too bad they have put their hopes in them, as candidates with better experience and greater successes could have been found. Hampson and Rankin's roles this year on SCPTSA are part of that strategy, as SCPTSA is often a springboard to the school board. Their agenda on SCPTSA involves fighting white supremacy (both are white, although Hampson has personal ties to Native groups but is not an enrolled member of a tribe) and ironically enough dismantling PTA's or at least PTA funding. I also suspect they will be vigorous opponents of any and all forms of advanced learning in the district, based on public comments and arguments they have made in the past, and they will likely want to dismantle both HCC and what's left of Spectrum and provide all advanced learning via MTSS and CSIP in neighborhood schools (which if true may not actually be that equitable because of the impact of historical redlining on school demographics). They were probably directly involved in the formulation of the district's new strategic plan, as verbiage they have used in the past was included verbatim to the plan. My suspicion is that they are the hand-picked candidates to represent the interests of the superintendent and staff on the board. Likely more Jill Geary types.

While Hampson likely doesn't have the social skills to function well on the board, Rankin has better social skills, potentially making her a more formidable opponent.

I wonder how the ed reform folks will take to either candidacy? They seem to be anti-tax (SCPTSA did not clearly, and only reluctantly, endorsed the levies last year), so that might appeal to more conservative and older voters. I suspect they fall in line with other equity champions and support Amplify (again, misguided but heart in the right place), but is that enough to be favored by ed reformers overall?

Good Candidates?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the recent media article that had made some very wrong assumptions about conflating PTSA and foundation and funding between Rainier Beach High school and Roosevelt, I thought I would share just one example below of other sources of funding from outside entities that tend to only available to lower income schools in Seattle. I am also aware of other programs providing various resources from local universities.

In addition as our district is focused on equity, lower income schools have lower classes sizes and also receive much more from our district as well. They are also less likely to take teacher & staff cuts as well during times of budget crisis. Middle to higher income schools in Seattle are much more likely to have crowded classrooms, much less resources etc.

This is on the agenda for tommorow's board meeting:
"This Board Action will approve acceptance of the Kids in the Middle grant for $690,596 from the Nesholm Family Foundation to provide support to the three highest poverty middle schools: Aki Kurose, David T. Denny International, and Asa Mercer International."


Anonymous said...

Eric Blumhagen and Ben Leis are excellent candidates and will have my full support. We’d be lucky to have them.

Future Board

Anonymous said...

A $4M grant to South Shore ($1M per year, spread over 4 years) is also included on the agenda, as well as a $970,000 grant from the Satterberg foundation for 10 feeder elementaries to Aki, Mercer, and Denny.

there's more

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hey Ryan, I will allow no links to that blog as it trades in opinion and absolutely no research as well as speaking about people the writer has never met.

Anonymous said...

JK, what’s your point?

Anonymous said...

The speakers list for the science adoption is packed with people from the committee (who also were the makers of the materials being proposed for adoption) Sad. I really really hope that the science adoption gets killed because the money being proposed on will not bring materials into classrooms for doing science but a curriculum that is sub par at best.
sign me
science forever

Anonymous said...

Future Board - I agree they would both be excellent choices and they have my support too. It doesn’t hurt of course that Rankin and Hampson are such poor candidates.

Fairmount Parent

Board Elections said...

Hampson called attention to the city pulling the Family and Education Levy from Sandpoint. Rankin is involved with the PTSA. I find both of these individuals to be too reactive for the school board. School board directors need to be diplomatic. I'm not confident that they have deep understanding of the district. I suspect both of these individuals would work to destroy advanced learning opportunities.

Harris has dedicated her life to public service. She is a hardworking and dedicated school board member that has earned respect of individuals and high ranking individuals throughout all of Seattle. I'm glad that she decided to run for election- again. She would be an enormously difficult candidate to beat!

Anonymous said...

It was a bit of a fiasco at North Beach this week when the school did not get the needed laptop carts in time for SBA testing. And the district wants to go with a web-based curriculum?


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

"Hampson likely doesn't have the social skills....has personal ties to Native groups?" UHM....as in TIES TO HER FAMILY?!!!
So now we're acting as the pedigree police? Isn't there enough settler colonialism in this city without adding this toxic talk?
Ms. Hampson is not only Native but she has amazing social skills. YOU try navigating through Stanford as blonde Native woman.
She is brilliant. Unlike your comments and your poor observation or deduction skills.

MW said...

"Hampson likely doesn't have the social skills....has personal ties to Native groups?" UHM....as in TIES TO HER FAMILY?!!!
So now we're acting as the pedigree police? Isn't there enough settler colonialism in this city without adding this toxic talk?
Ms. Hampson is not only Native but she has amazing social skills. YOU try navigating through Stanford as blonde Native woman.
She is brilliant. Unlike your comments and your poor observation or deduction skills.

Anonymous said...

What's ironic is that Chandra and Liza, two extremely privileged white women from northeast Seattle who have a long track record of speaking publicly for women of color while privately silencing them, are now each running against women of color for their school board campaigns. All I ever see with both of them is "do as I say, not as I do."


TB said...

JR, Hampson is an enrolled member of the Hochunk Nation. She is light but she is Native. Check your facts.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Readers, I urge you to check all candidates campaign websites for info on the candidates. Hampson has been clear in the past that she is Native American. I believe her ( unlike how she has treated me about my own heritage.) Do your homework before you make a broad statement about any candidate.

Anonymous said...

"There are several on the waitlist who wanted to speak to "White Supremacy in Seattle Public Schools."

When will this blog put a stop to race baiting comments!

I thought you were moving on?


Melissa Westbrook said...

I’m reporting exactly what is on the agenda.

Unknown said...

Not to speak for JK, but I take their point to be that while KUOW and others publish sob stories about poor, underfunded, south end schools that don't get all that PTSA and foundation money that privileged, white Roosevelt gets, they bring in more dollars per pupil from the district and Federal Title 1 as well as all of these grants and support from community groups resulting in plenty of funding per pupil for schools like the middle schools listed.

This fact confuses many people because it doesn't mesh with the narrative that is commonly accepted: south end schools are underfunded.

If we found out that Denny is able to spend more dollars per pupil that Whitman or that Franklin outspends Hale per pupil, then the uneven performance becomes about something other than money, and the Democrats and WEA/SEA lose their biggest claim to more money, and then they have to look at pedagogy or something else as the cause, and they don't want that.


LInh-Co said...

Thanks for taking the time to testify tonight Melissa. The school board race will be interesting. Good luck to Ben Leis and Eric Blumhagen.

Anonymous said...

10+ speakers on the waitlist have "White Supremacy Culture in SPS" listed as their topic. Speakers include the Montlake PTSA president, a UW doctoral student (and former SPS teacher), a UW grad student, the Denny MS librarian, the Northgate Elementary librarian, a Center School teacher, a union activist and member of the International Socialist Organization, the SCPTSA President, and a WMS teacher. They are near #20 and beyond on the waitlist, so probably won't be speaking at this week's board meeting.

I wonder if the board has considered creating additional rules for speaker slots, such as reserving 5 or so slots for other topics when the list of speakers goes beyond 25. There are a handful of speakers on the waitlist wanting to speak about HVAC and maintenance issues at John Muir, for example, but they've been crowded out by other speakers.


kellie said...

One of the many things that has gotten lost in all the noise about the science adoption is the radical changes to the online learning policy.

Here is the link to the current BAR which includes a complete revision to online learning inside the consent agenda. This means that there isn't even a separate vote on this time.

While this policy has been revised based on feedback from earlier in the year, there is still serious problems with this policy. Core 24 is here and students are going to need MORE flexibility, not less.

This policy is not student friendly. It is a policy based on an unknown number of students who are looking for easier options and frankly its does not fix that problem. Because OSPI can legislate what is a credit in the State of Washington, student will ALWAYS have direct access to a few options that are most likely easier. This policy will then make the Washington State MINIMUM, the MAXIMUM that will be allowed to SPS students.

Anonymous said...

@MS I stated my point in the first paragraph of my post. You must have not read previous threads on this issue. KUOW had erroneously painted a picture of unequal PTSA funding between Rainier Beach and Roosevelt leading to inequity. The PTSA president of Roosevelt corrected some really wrong information reported, including that the PTSA at Roosevelt with close to three times the amount of students as Rainier Beach actually only has $20,000. Also in comparing funding between schools one needs to consider the entire funding picture between schools. They will learn that SPS and outside entities are providing much much more funding to our lower income schools in the form of not only large grants but district funding as well. In fact the middle class schools in SPS are often treading water and have much more crowded classrooms, are impacted by staff and teacher cuts to offset any impact to lower income schools and so on. There is also no baseline funding of support it seems for middle to upper middle class schools. The reality is that they need to raise funds to support things that are provided for in lower income schools. However it is often not enough and don't forget the higher income schools also have FRL students in their population as well.


Anonymous said...

Do people realize their quite reasonable desire to do something about "white supremacy in SPS" is being mobilized to support an online curriculum created by Rupert Murdoch, backed by Bill Gates, and designed to reduce and eventually eliminate the role of teachers in a classroom? We got stuck with standardized testing, charter schools, and the rest of the ed reform agenda in exactly this way. All this has happened before, and all this will happen again, including kids being the ones who bear the brunt of it.

The outcome will be a bunch of wealthy white people and the corporations they lead will have an even greater role in our schools and teachers, especially teachers of color, will be marginalized. That's what Amplify is designed to do.


Melissa Westbrook said...

SP, the issue isn't so much how much Title One schools get versus non-Title Ones schools - it's how the money can be used. The Title One dollars are strictly monitored for certain academic activities and that's it.

ABC, you said this:

"the SCPTSA President" is on the waitlist for tonight's Board meeting.

Actually, it's the former, not current, SCPTSA president on the list. I did hear of talk where that group - White Supremacy in Seattle Schools - was asking people on the Science Adoption committee to cede some time to them. Apparently not going to happen.

Kellie, I did a write-up about that issue of online learning and the changes coming. I hope middle and high school parents paid attention.

Anonymous said...

Agree, Kellie, but the online learning policy is probably getting less attention because it ultimately impacts fewer students than the science adoption. For middle schoolers, part-time homeschooling could still offer a somewhat flexible pathway for students (as long as they aren't seeking high school credit). Schools can't dictate curriculum or online providers for homeschooled students. It's a bit more challenging come high school, and that's where the policy will be most restrictive.

iffy policy

Robn said...

The issue of lack of resources in Title 1 schools is not a sob story. Our community is high needs and facing issues of food and housing security, parents being deported, lack of enrichment programming and/or adequate and affordable childcare, etc. Our teachers are working with a whole host of significant social issues that make educating challenging. The per-pupil dollars designated to address these issues are very different than the PTA funding and the kids at Title 1 schools are therefore getting different (and in many cases, less) educational experiences. PTA funding is inherently inequitable and claiming that Title 1 schools somehow have it better is not reasonable. If that were true, Title 1 schools in expensive neighborhoods would not be islands of poverty.

Melissa Westbrook said...

ABC, I had asked President Harris to consider a Pro/Con speaker list for the science adoption (like 10-15 each) PLUS a separate list of 5-10 of other topics so it would be fair to all. Apparently, she decided against this.

It is a pity that the Board meeting will mostly be about one issue.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is trying to stay afloat. Title 1 funding is crucial and essential. They don't have it better at all. Without PTA funding, those schools that rely on it would also be badly off. People need to stop operating with a scarcity mindset. PTA funding is a symptom of the problem - the lack of state funding. Focus on solving the problem and the PTA funding will go away - and schools will get all the funding they need. This crabs in a bucket approach isn't helping anyone.


Anonymous said...

@Robn There is huge need yes, but are also outside agencies and the city providing services as well in those cases. The city also provides resources for affordable child care. There is always more need.

Bottom line is that no matter the resources provided it will always be a challenge with lower income households.

However, we also cannot be blind to the fact that many middle class schools have so little being allocated, they depend much more heavily on raising funds to provide what we consider basic education. I also suspect the schools in the middle with higher FRL lunch, but not the lowest in SPS face the most challenges.

As referenced above the poorest schools listed are receiving huge grants that undoubtedly also have alot of flexibity in how funds are used. There are also lots of intervention type programs funded by our local universities and other entities.

But kids from lower income households at schools in the middle class schools facing many of those same challenges you mentioned are also harmed when their school not getting any of those resources receive staffing cuts, have high class sizes etc.

Another view

Anonymous said...

Looking back at 2015 I see no reason for SPS to have a board. (Besides state law)

Harris claimed all of SPS's problems were due to racism. Seems like the same groups are claiming nothing has changed. What did Harris do to fix the charges of racism?

Burke said we needed to get back to learning and bring back shop classes. What has Burke done to bring back those shop classes?

Geary said a lot about special ed problems. What did she done about them?

Pinkham said a lot about native issues. What did Pinkham do to help RESM/Licton springs?

Hopefully none of these people seek reelection because the only thing they did was pat each other on the back for sitting at the dais. In the meantime a full blown budget crisis manifested on their watch.

NoMore Excuses

Unknown said...

Melissa, I'm not seeing anything in what JK wrote here that has to do with encumbrances on Title 1 funding; perhaps he/she wrote about this in another thread that I'm not aware of? All I'm seeing him/her write about is that south-end/Title 1/"schools furthest from educational justice" get a lot of money from outside sources and more from the district than schools like RHS do. Why are you trying to change the subject?

Robn, I never claimed that Title 1 schools have it better than non-Title 1 schools. I said that the per pupil funding is murkier than everyone is making it out to be and that we don't know: does Denny have more dollars to spend on each kid than Whitman? Does Franklin have more dollars per student than Hale? We don't know because no one aggregates all of those income streams into a per-pupil yearly outlay, so instead, we resort to stereotypes about the schools and stories designed to gin up money for schools. All we have is rhetoric, but I can share my experiences working both Title 1 and non-Title 1 schools in other districts; their day-to-day opportunities and resources were comparable, and I've had colleagues at my northend high school who used to work at southend schools say that they've had resources that we don't because we don't have Title 1 dollars like they do.

These mis-readings suggest I've touched a nerve. There are a lot of people who make a lot of money and generate a lot of support for public education by pathologizing people of color and making their lives out to be as horrible as they can and making their schools seem as destitute as possible.

I'm not asserting that people of color and their schools don't face difficult challenges. I'm asking you to consider the rhetoric and who benefits from it because until we have real, complete data, we're just doing rhetoric here.


And P.S.--PTO: any time you're dealing with money, you ought to have a scarcity mindset; money, unlike love, isn't abundant and infinite. It's finite, so it's subject to scarcity--a fact that teachers often don't seem aware of.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if some parents paid more attention back in school or got a job they could care for their children and not expect constant handouts. What's next home owner justice for all the drug addicts living in tents? Oh wait that's exactly what is next.

99% of the time in life you reap what you sow.

NoMore Excuses

L.M. said...

I’m shocked and a more than a little disgusted to see a blog seemingly dedicated to our school’s would allow it’s posters to ~anonymously~ traffic in the degree of misinformation, mischaracterization, blatant lies, and thinly veiled attacks on a Native American woman’s race and cultural identity in the anonymous posts above. Liza Rankin is a Jewish woman, Chandra Hampson is Ho-Chunk from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and Ojibwe from the White Earth Nation.
It’s super easy to see why the individual who made these attack posts maligning Chandra Hampson and Liza Rankin did so under the cloak of anonymity.
Maybe this anonymous poster can shake things up a bit next time by taking 2-3 minutes to fact check before subjecting this blog’s readers to more (seemingly personal) nonsense attacks? Whether one’s name is on it or not, no one should be this busy sitting around making stuff up about local mothers who spend the lion’s share of their time volunteering in schools, participating on community groups and councils, advocating for education & programming for public school children, working to end racism & expand equity, & assisting local non-profits, & so much more.

For example, “Anonymous” falsely asserts Hampson has a ‘long history of silencing women of color’. Again, she is a Native American woman of color herself. Not for nothing, I am a Black woman who met Hampson for the first time years ago while she was leading a family engagement initiative she started as the President of our local pta. She was in my community, (a low income NE Seattle neighborhood made up primarily of people of color) engagement families for the pta. She has since mentored countless neighbors (primarily women of color) regarding how to navigate their children’s education. Her continued involvement & volunteerism has inspired many of us to get involved in our communities so our voices would be at the table.
Hampson’s extensive history doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk.
It’d be great to know where this (nonexistent) mysterious “big group of equity champions working to get them on the board” is hiding out while they’re backing school board members. I’d love to join up so I could support Hampson & Rankin too... do I just collect my protesting check, and buy an underground Soros railroad ticket to pizzagate and take a left, or? Because this is about as realistic as the anonymous commentary regarding Hampson.

Two amazing candidates.

Anonymous said...

So the children should pay for their parents mistakes? That's very Puritan of you.


Anonymous said...

Wow. This narrative is what is wrong with our country. God forbids anything is “handed” to students living in poverty.
FYI all schools , including wealthy schools by law receive title 1 funds according to the number od FRL students.
I have read and are very aware of articles and conversations around this issue.

Anonymous said...

Shooting reported a few blocks south of Broadview-Thomson. According to ST, gunshots reported near 125th and Greenwood. One person taken to Harborview in critical condition.

ST reader

Anonymous said...

New cases of measles reported in King County, with Issaquah High School listed as one location where exposure was possible, May 6-9, from 7:30am-6pm.

(from King County Health Dept. info)


Anonymous said...

Maybe we should take schools on tours of the cities drug addict encampments in order to show and teach students what can happen to you when you use drugs and or don't get a quality education. (or follow the grateful dead all over the country for 15 year!)

Kids need to learn to read and comprehend. Maybe learn how a spreadsheet works lots of math involved, learn how banking works.

Don't expect handouts because of the color of your skin! I know it's very popular in Seattle to give free everything to "people of color" but all that's running out of steam and by steam I'm mean people who are willing to fund the never ending gravy train.

There are many many adults earning a nice living off of handing out other peoples money to people who don't want to work. Ah now you see ...follow the money!


Anonymous said...

I never said children should pay, but why should people who work hard for their money have to give it away because a junkie decided to have children?

There are plenty of programs for children where they do not need to live in a tent with junkies all around. These parents who choose to should lose custody of the children.

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!
Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground
Same as it ever was

NoMore Excuses

Ballard Resident said...

Shooting in north Seattle. Police looking for suspect around Whitman middle school. They advise individuals to stay indoors.

Another Parent said...

The effectiveness of a computer-based curriculum like Amplify, for closing the achievement gap, and for general instruction, is nuanced. In some cases, it probably does help achievement, in other cases it probably hurts achievement, and yet in others its likely a wash. Depending on which case your child and classroom fall into likely affects your opinion.

In some low performing elementary classrooms in Seattle, teachers are specifically required, as part of their performance goals, to divide their classes into groups based on student ability. Teachers are then instructed to “focus” on the lowest performing groups, be it in math, science, reading, or writing. What Amplify at least partly allows is for science to be self-taught, allowing teachers to focus on small group activities with the most struggling students, and to let the high performing students teach themselves.

Conversely, in a high performing class, such as an HCC class, there is far less need for remedial instruction. In such a class, Amplify is probably not a great curriculum, but without the need to focus on low performing students, an experienced teacher generally has enough time to supplement with other materials, if allowed.

There are a lot of other scenarios. For example, principals that require absolute fidelity to the curriculum. Teachers that are new, or that are long-term substitutes, and don’t have the ability to supplement. Schools which are 100% focused on math and ELA and ignore science. Etc.

Perhaps a computer-based curriculum (or supplemental curriculum) that really differentiated could help all students achieve more. For example, the new middle school math curriculum has a supplemental online interactive component which is quite good. Unfortunately, in the case of the new math program, the supplemental activities are only accessible when specifically assigned by the teacher, which neither of my kids' teachers assign.

Given the district’s top goal of “closing the achievement gap for certain racial sub-populations”, Amplify is probably a good choice as it will dumb down science for many students trapped in mixed classes and free up time so teachers can focus on the lowest performing students. Personally, with nearly half the software developers in Seattle now foreign born and educated, I happen to believe the district’s goal is misguided. But assuming the Amplify license is only for 10 years, perhaps when it’s time to select the next curriculum, the districts priorities will have changed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Another Parent: Well done summation of what I believe to be the state of the state. Our school has a fantastic middle school science teacher who the principal will likely let do his/her thing no matter what is decided upon, so good for our students. There will be other schools like that. HCC teachers will end up supplementing. New and not-strong teachers will default to Amplify. Will that baseline provide a catapult to more science career opportunities for kids? Meh. Doubt it. Competition is too fierce. But at least SPS can claim it didn't cut off all opportunity. It could do that with any curriculum, really. Teacher science training seems more important for providing strong science in classrooms. Or actually hiring fulltime science teachers so that kids don't have to take summer school when the district completely fails to provide the bare minimum of classroom leadership (cough Washington cough).

Another Parent2

Anonymous said...

There is very little personal education provided in SPS so a well designed personalized interactive evidence based online or computer based program could help to accelerate learning.

I understand how teachers may feel threatened by AI, but like other industries it's now time for a modernization of public schools using AI to maximize learning. There are several big tech companies rolling out these types of programs.

Byte time

kellie said...

Byte time just threw down the ultimate in ed reform dogma. Don't be afraid of replacing teachers with computers, embrace it.

That said, I am truly an engineer in my heart and I always return to the basic engineering question. What is the problem you are trying to solve?

There are a few things that this adoption committee has done really right. They have identified that there are serious challenges in this district with the ability to hire and retain quality science educators, particularly in high poverty schools. They have also identified that the failure on the part of downtown to provide building funds for lab equipment has led to strong inequities. I agree with these conclusions. These are serious district wide problems.

Byte Time has nailed this process. The "solutions" to "this problem" is not to solve the problem of recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. This solution basically says ... that's not a realistic option, so let's replace "teaching" with "instructing". The big difference is that any warm body can follow the instructions and play the videos.

But none of the options on the table solve the problem of the hands-on supplies. The current proposal is for only the online curriculum. Per the Amplify quote in the C&I materials, it is nearly $10M to add the science kits and workbooks. And that was not for all grade bands.

The bottom line is that materials cost money. That is a big problem the committee identified. But none of the options on the table are addressing this.

Amplify, fully-loaded with all the supplies, is likely the solution the committee has presented. My best guess is that a fully loaded Amplify curriculum will total about $30M. That is for kits, supplies, computers, PD and the "rented curriculum." For $30M, there are a lot of great solutions.

Anonymous said...

How did the board meeting testimonies go last night?


Anonymous said...


Ponder: Per Harvard Professor Joshua Benton “Using broader community data means that the richest white kid and the poorest black/Hispanic kid in a given high school are assigned the same “adversity score””

SAT is now going to assign a secret adversity score to each student writing the SAT and report that score that they’ve ascribed to the testee without telling the

SAT to Give Students ‘Adversity Score’ to Capture Social and Economic Background
New score comes as college admissions decisions are under scrutiny

Douglas Belkin
May 16, 2019
The College Board plans to assign an adversity score to every student who takes the SAT to try to capture their social and economic background, jumping into the debate raging over race and class in college admissions.

This new number, called an adversity score by college admissions officers, is calculated using 15 factors including the crime rate and poverty levels from the student’s high school and neighborhood. Students won’t be told the scores, but colleges will see the numbers when reviewing their applications.

Fifty colleges used the score last year as part of a beta test. The College Board plans to expand it to 150 institutions this fall, and then use it broadly the following year.

How colleges consider a student’s race and class in making admissions decisions is hotly contested. Many colleges, including Harvard University, say a diverse student body is part of the educational mission of a school. A lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants by holding them to a higher standard is awaiting a judge’s ruling. Lawsuits charging unfair admission practices have also been filed against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of California system.

The College Board, the New York based nonprofit that oversees the SAT, said it has worried about income inequality influencing test results for years. White students scored an average of 177 points higher than black students and 133 points higher than Hispanic students in 2018 results. Asian students scored 100 points higher than white students. The children of wealthy and college-educated parents outperformed their classmates.

“There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” said David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board. “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”

The SAT, which includes math and verbal sections and is still taken with No. 2 pencils, is facing challenges. Federal prosecutors revealed this spring that students cheated on both the SAT and ACT for years as part of a far-reaching college admissions cheating scheme. In Asia and the Middle East, both the ACT and SAT exams have experienced security breaches.

Yale University is one of the schools that has tried using applicants’ adversity scores. Yale has pushed to increase socioeconomic diversity and, over several years, has nearly doubled the number of low-income and first-generation-to-attend-college students to about 20% of newly admitted students, said Jeremiah Quinlan, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale.

“This [adversity score] is literally affecting every application we look at,” he said. “It has been a part of the success story to help diversify our freshman class.”

Colleges could glean some of the information that the adversity score reflects from other parts of a student’s application. But having the score makes comparisons more consistent, Mr. Quinlan said.

Average SAT scores, broken down by income, race and parents' education levels, show disparities.

James Conroy, director of college counseling at New Trier High School, which serves several affluent and mostly white communities north of Chicago, said the focus on diversity by elite colleges is already high and the adversity score would magnify that.


WP Bound

Anonymous said...

“My emails are inundated with admissions officers who want to talk to our diversity kids,” Mr. Conroy said. “Do I feel minority students have been discriminated against? Yes, I do. But I see the reversal of it happening right now.”

The College Board tried a similar effort two decades ago but quickly dropped it amid pushback from colleges. In 1999, after California and Washington voted to ban affirmative-action preferences in public education, the College Board created a program it called Strivers.

The program aimed to measure the challenges students faced. It created an expected SAT score based on socioeconomic factors including, if schools chose to add it, race. Students who scored at least 200 points more on the SAT than predicted were called Strivers. Because minorities often had lower predicted scores, they were more likely to be Strivers.

The adversity score, by contrast, doesn’t take into account race and is superior because it is steeped in more research, said Connie Betterton, vice president for higher education access and strategy at the College Board.

“Since it is identifying strengths in students, it’s showing this resourcefulness that the test alone cannot measure,” Mr. Coleman, the College Board CEO, said. “These students do well, they succeed in college.”

At Florida State University, SAT adversity scores helped boost nonwhite enrollment in the incoming freshman class, said John Barnhill, assistant vice president for academic affairs.

The new score—which falls on a scale of one through 100—will pop up on something called the Environmental Context Dashboard, which shows several indicators of relative poverty, wealth and opportunity as well as a student’s SAT score compared with those of their classmates. On the dashboard, the score is called “Overall Disadvantage Level.”

An adversity score of 50 is average. Anything above it designates hardship, below it privilege.

The College Board declined to say how it calculates the adversity score or weighs the factors that go into it. The data that informs the score comes from public records such as the U.S. Census as well as some sources proprietary to the College Board, Mr. Coleman said.

The College Board began developing the tool in 2015 because colleges were asking for more objective data on students’ backgrounds, said Ms. Betterton. Several college admissions officers said they worry the Supreme Court may disallow race-based affirmative action. If that happens, the value of the tool would rise, they said.

“The purpose is to get to race without using race,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. Mr. Carnevale formerly worked for the College Board and oversaw the Strivers program.

The dashboard may also be an advantage in a tight competition for market share with the ACT, another college-admissions exam. A spokesman for the ACT said it is “investing significant resources” in a comparable tool that is expected to be announced later this year.

At Florida State University, the adversity scores helped the school boost nonwhite enrollment to 42% from 37% in the incoming freshman class, said John Barnhill, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Florida State University. He said he expects pushback from parents whose children go to well-to-do high schools as well as guidance counselors there.

“If I am going to make room for more of the [poor and minority] students we want to admit and I have a finite number of spaces, then someone has to suffer and that will be privileged kids on the bubble,” he said.

WP Bound

Anonymous said...

Lack of news? Yesterday Whitman Middle School had not one but two lock downs.

The first lock down was due to a student and it wasn't clear exactly why the school was locked down and the police were called.

The second lock down was due to a shooting suspect possibly on the lose near the school.

The police were still in the area of Carkeek Park as late as 10:00PM using K-9s and a helicopter searching for the suspect.

Checking the Seattle Times this morning I find no information on the status of the man hunt.

Telling residents to stay indoors but never telling them is now safe to leave your home or take your child to school is very irresponsible. These lock downs are causing
more harm than benefits, if you have a student that you need to lock down the school over then that student does not belong in a SPS building EVER!

Mind games

Anonymous said...

There seems like a huge increase in Black on Black gun violence in Seattle. Are these guns stolen?


Melissa Westbrook said...

a well designed personalized interactive evidence based online or computer based program could help to accelerate learning."

Except, that's not Amplify. It is in no way personalized.

There are several big tech companies rolling out these types of programs."

I'm sure there are; there's money to be made in them there classrooms. But as I previously stated, during online time, the teacher is there to "instruct" not teach.

Thank you Kellie for that summary. I told the Board last night they had no business saying yes to ANY curriculum without a full accounting of costs. If it's a computer-based curriculum, then include tech costs.

Hmm, I try to get a write-up. In brief, majority pro (nearly every single adult pro-adoption speaker was on one committee), much diversity and passion, several kids speakers. There were people on the waitlist who had wanted to talk about "White Supremacy in Seattle Schools" who came and just held signs (no one ceded time to them). I spoke as well as several other people with very good points against adoption.

I note for this important discussion, Director DeWolf was AWOL.

Anonymous said...

"White Supremacy in Seattle Schools" That's just asinine and for you to keep bringing it up is reckless. It's shocking to see public school teachers claiming "White Supremacy in Seattle Schools" My god these people are interacting with children and no one is stopping these activist teachers from spouting racist hate speech?

As for you, for someone claiming to be moving on from Seattle public schools you can't seem to keep your word.

Weeble wobble

Meeting Summary said...

The meeting last night was contentious. Most of the in-person speakers were pro-Amplify, including many students and people of color, as well as educators who had served on the curriculum committee. A second grade children's choir from John Rogers performed before everything got going, and they were delightful.

Board members had remarks that were thoughtful and incisive and, frankly, skeptical of the curriculum selection process and outcome. They have obviously heard much feedback from many, many constituents, and their questions for staff reflected this.

DeBacker, Welch, and Kinoshita were there and responded at length to all questions. DeBacker and Kinoshita were professional and respectful in demeanor toward the board at all times. Welch was initially assertive in a good way, but over the course of the very long meeting she did tend to take a patronizing and condescending tone with the board. Her self-righteousness was palpable. At one point, she criticized the board for announcing something after hours on a Friday (I didn't catch exactly what), "forcing" her staff to work hard over the weekend to come up with requested information and responses, because she was in Michigan tending to her dying mother. For that, she has my sympathy and compassion, since it is a heartbreaking thing for anyone to go through. That said, I think it was unprofessional to mention it in this context, and her staff are paid, unlike the board, who are volunteers and have no staff. Burke pushed back on that, pointing out that staff had been alerted it was coming up a full week beforehand.


Meeting Summary said...


I was struck by how unified the entire board seemed in asking incisive questions, almost all financial and procedural. Staff seemed taken aback by how assertive they were. Even Geary, who has defended Amplify and the process in the past, asked some hard-edged, skeptical questions that made it seem like she was not a fan of the process. Mack was obviously frustrated by unclear or unforthcoming answers at times. Harris was relentless and did a great service to the children of Seattle really pushing for clarity unanswered questions and calling staff to task on not providing requested information. Pinkham was also very skeptical. He did not want to be too confrontational with staff and was his collegial, pleasant self the entire time, but he nonetheless joined in on the incisive questioning and obviously has major concerns about the adoption. DeWolf was absent (not sure anyone noticed), and Patu didn't participate in this part of the conversation except that she earlier announced she's leaving the board early in June.

The new legal counsel was up a few times to answer questions, but one of the most interesting things was that he is working with Amplify to develop a chronology of events around the "donation." No one seems to know if there was a donation or not, how much it was for, what it was for, and Amplify's and SPS's understanding of whatever transpired seems different. So a detailed statement about that is forthcoming. Geary asked point-blank that Amplify make clear SPS is not on the hook for the $400,000 that may or may not have been donated. My guess (purely a guess) is that Amplify thought they would slide materials in for free for the moment but then back-bill for the "donation" later on.

On the Burke-Pinkham amendment to consider HMH instead of Amplify for elementary: everyone was tired by this point in the evening, and I don't think this got the consideration it needed. Burke is interested in a less polarizing solution to the elementary selection process. He and Pinkham noted that the selection committee's own rubric did recommend HMH actually. Welch and Kinoshita spent a great deal of time explaining the deliberations by which they came to that decision. Burke said that with all the same input (research, vendor information, community feedback, everything) that they had, board members came to a different conclusion. Welch seems to think that her committee's choice is infallible or uncorruptable, and Burke did a service pointing out that she is not the only adult in the room with a background in science and education. Welch and Kinoshita also seem to define "tech-based" more loosely or at list quite differently than the board members and probably the public, and they made the argument that HMH is actually more tech based than Amplify at elementary level. Amplify looks very different at the K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 levels, so one difficulty with this curriculum adoption is that very, very different forms of the same curricula are under consideration.

One astute observation made by Mack was that the board needs to provide a philosophy and guidance around the role of technology in classrooms, and moving forward will likely do so so that curriculum selection committees understand the board's preference about technology and curriculum.


Meeting Summary said...


Staff, including DeBacker, were very clear that NGSS alignment was paramount. But the legislature has removed the science test for graduation, which radically alters the importance of planned changes to science course sequencing. They didn't discuss that issue at length, although DeBacker conceded it was going to have a strong impact on what they do and will have to be revisited. However, the legislature's change also lowers the importance of strict NGSS alignment. The committee was tasked with finding an NGSS-aligned curriculum, but now with the changes in graduation requirements, this may have been less important. This issue was only touched on, but I suspect the board on the whole is interested in this angle.

Harris pointed out several times over the evening that communication has not been great by the board with staff and with staff to the board, and that improving communication has to be a major part of moving forward. Everyone in the room seemed to agree with this. There also simply has to be data; the board seemed very interested in evidenced-based decision-making. There were many times that staff could and should have let the board know about this or that, and there were many points where the board could have been more thoughtful or clearer in its intentions and preferences (hence Mack's comment about technology).

Overall, this was a strong showing by this board. They displayed courage, asked tough questions, expressed their impatience with a muddled process, and they were sharply focused on their fiduciary oversight role. Everyone in the room agrees on the role of equity in all these considerations, and that was not really under debate because it is the foremost concern on everyone's mind. If there was a loser tonight, it was certainly Welch, who was condescending if not imperious in style and made no friends on the board that way. They will be voting on May 29.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see most of the board is leaving, I truly wish it were every member leaving, hey there is still time for Harris (the DEMO insider to quit) Hopefully we get some people on the board that can deliver cost cutting down at JSCEE or even close and sell off the building.

The district needs to change and fast or face a huge backlash by voters.

The current board has let cost run amok with little to nothing to show for it.

The idea that Harris should continue is laughable, I've never seen someone almost lay down on the dais while lecturing staff before.

--Time's up

Anonymous said...

I wish LInh-Co would run for her husbands vacated seat. She would not be so pleasant when the administration gets out of line. She is also very passionate about math and would continue to advocate for real curriculum, hell she could write it!

district 1

Melissa Westbrook said...

Weeble wobble, if you had bothered to read the entire thread I said "the end of this school year."

Thank you Meeting Summary for that wrap-up; I had a cold and left after the public testimony.

And you sell JSCEE and where does everyone there go? It certainly was a boondoggle but those people have to be somewhere.

I think the district IS changing but I'm not sure it will turn out to be what anyone truly wants (in any direction).

Anonymous said...

Uh if JSCEE is gone then each school building will have to manage itself like most private schools seem to be able to do. Local schools local control. Schools would be free to contract for any service they need. Principles can princibltate (is that even a thing?)

Or would you like to see the district split up? I say lets go local and see what happens , how could it be worst?

district 1

Anonymous said...

Yes you did. I stand corrected.

Weeble wobble

Anonymous said...

I think it would be fun to put all the administrators in classrooms scattered in actual schools throughout the city. Find an empty classroom somewhere and put the science curriculum team in it - another for the advanced services, etc. Sure, it may impact interdepartmental collaborations. But at least we would have better faith that their decisions have a firmer base in reality. Try telling a school that they don't need a school counselor next year when after they see how much so many kids across the district need social skills curricula.

-Ha Ha

Alignment Assignment said...

"Welch seems to think that her committee's choice is infallible or uncorruptable"

LOL. Yeah, her folks made their choice last year before they even began the adoption process. So, of course they're sure.

Duck Duck said...

In what world does it make sense that SPS legal is trying to find out from Amplify a timeline of what SPS did and when and what it has/did/might/will cost. Why doesn't SPS know what it did?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh District 1, are you pulling my leg? 100 schools doing their own thing? I think you thinking of vouchers and that's a big no.

Principles can princibltate." Not sure what you meant but principals should act on their principles.

DUck Duck, good question. That MWW apparently told a 4th story at last night's Board meeting is astonishing. But more data is coming my way so we may have an answer soon that she cannot refute. There's nothing like public disclosure to make a hazy view clearer.

Anonymous said...

Don't want an unknown score attached to a student's SAT? Perhaps opt out and take the ACT instead...except it sounds as though the College Board has already created and used the added scores for students without their express knowledge.


Anonymous said...

"Staff, including DeBacker, were very clear that NGSS alignment was paramount. But the legislature has removed the science test for graduation, which radically alters the importance of planned changes to science course sequencing. They didn't discuss that issue at length, although DeBacker conceded it was going to have a strong impact on what they do and will have to be revisited. However, the legislature's change also lowers the importance of strict NGSS alignment. The committee was tasked with finding an NGSS-aligned curriculum, but now with the changes in graduation requirements, this may have been less important. This issue was only touched on, but I suspect the board on the whole is interested in this angle."

Did you get the sense they will still move ahead with the high school Chem/Physics hybrid science courses that the students and teachers are complaining about?

A Parent

Anonymous said...

JSCEE is sucking this district dry. Down size SPS administration to save SPS!


Melissa Westbrook said...

A Parent, the discussion in the first part of the meeting was very Amplify-focused. I'd have to listen to the later discussion to get a feel for what was said about high school.

Linh-Co said...

@ district 1, thanks for the plug. Not sure if you would really like that. Rick is like Jon Snow, while I'm more like Daenerys. LOL!!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't watch the show, but I know you don't take or like BS. Wink Wink

district 1

Anonymous said...

Looks like Lisa Rivera Smith, past PTA president at Hamilton and now at Lincoln, has filed for District 2 - Rick Burke’s seat. She’d be one hell of a fantastic candidate.

Anna Regina

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anna, I don't know much about her; could you tell us more?

Anonymous said...

I have really appreciated Rick Burke's tenure on the board. I would love to see him extend it. I appreciate his insightful questions, his consistent dedication to getting meaningful information and his push for transparency in decision making. He has been measured and reasonable while carrying out oversight.

It seemed so often in the past our choice for board members were bureaucrats who didn't want to interfere with staff or activists who caused so much ruckus that nothing could get done. It's nice to have someone effective like Rick Burke.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

We don't need activist on the board because the classrooms are now filled with activist teachers.

Burke was very effective and kind when dealing with some goofy things pushed by other board members.

I'm still waiting for the Voc Tech he pushed in 2015. I guess someone else will need to forward that effort.

Rick, good luck in your next endeavor.


Anonymous said...

"...In some low performing elementary classrooms in Seattle, teachers are specifically required, as part of their performance goals, to divide their classes into groups based on student ability..."

IF this is true, then someone needs to let the union know. Admin cannot require teachers to have a certain goal and certainly not something as specific as tracking students into ability groups. They should call let the union know about this.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sam, between Caleb Perkins and Burke, "voc tech" (now CTE) is coming back but yeah, it's hard to get the district to part with money for it. Where is your advocacy for it?

Rpm said...

I would love rick Burke and sue peters on the city council. They are smart, normal, caring and diligent people.

suep. said...

Last night's (5/15/19) Board meeting had many fascinating moments. There's a new storyline from staff about the free Amplify goods & services (apparently the "anonymous donor" may not be real after all...), waffling about the waivers, some revealing details and false statements.

The provenance of Amplify and total costs remain murky. There is still no data from staff about the 3-year pilot at Mercer or any of the waiver schools. Professional development was a hot topic and has loomed as a major cost in the BARs ($5 million alone for K-5). And a 1.0 FTE curriculum specialist has been slipped into the MS BAR since the BAR was last seen in committee. (This significant change, along with the addition of $565,000 in MS PD costs, was not highlighted in the document.)

It was revealed that printing costs for Amplify curriculum will be passed onto schools. Dir. Pinkham asked for those costs to be calculated. MaryMargaret Welch compared it to teachers of yore using mimeographs. Apparently Amplify will not be providing any textbooks. Welch said SPS science teachers have never had books. If true, is that a precedent that should be continued?

Staff critiqued the Burke/Pinkham amendment. They claimed HMH is more tech reliant than Amplify. No evidence was given, though staff said the two products do licensing differently for classrooms.

Supt. Juneau chided directors for creating an amendment. But the fact is, without it, many questions would not have been addressed. And it's the right and duty of directors to create amendments. They can even amend from the dais if they choose. Policy is one of the board's chief duties. It's not clear that Supt. Juneau understands the responsibilities and rights of the Board (and the role of supt).

Among the highlights, some of the public speeches, including this one:

"I’m Patricia Bailey, a retired Seattle teacher.

It is evident, to those watching the unfolding of the science adoption, that there are so many underhanded dealings, it is difficult to keep track of them all. We see the “gifting” of huge sums of money from Amplify Corporation without the required board approval. We see the illegal implementation of pilot programs without the required board approval. We see the hiding of pilot data from board oversight. We even see violations of state law, and much more.

Because the skulduggery is being exposed, the argument switched to insinuating that board members are engaging in racism if they reject the Amplify science program! Quite the opposite is true. Low-income students were performing much better before the use of this program as you have seen from data already presented. It is the accuser who is engaging in racism with callous disregard for the achievement and interest of minority students.

Race baiting is the groundless accusation of racism to push a different agenda. The individual using such a tactic may appear “socially conscious” as a facade, but they are cynically using race to manipulate the board to promote a big business venture. Board members should ignore individuals who stoop to such cynicism and who disdainfully dismiss citizen input as “noise”. This is intolerable in a democracy.

Imagine the precedent set if Amplify is adopted, supported by these kinds of tactics. It invites corporate predation on children and representative school boards everywhere. This situation requires a thorough investigation.

Thank you for your hard work and oversight!"

Anonymous said...

"between Caleb Perkins and Burke, "voc tech" (now CTE) is coming back" that's just plain horse $$IT and you know it.

Burke specifically mentioned wood shop, metal shop and Auto shop.

Voc Tech

Alsept Teresa said...

“...Welch said SPS science teachers have never had books. If true, is that a precedent that should be continued? ”

She very deliberately said textbooks because both the Carolina and Foss kites provide Student Guides and not textbooks

While they are old the district has never had to make copies and we could buy more if we wanted

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how many times I donated money to Hale for more copy paper. Printing costs should absolutely be included in the equation. I have also donated to other schools in south Seattle so they could get more paper for printing.


kellie said...

There are strong parallels between this science adoption and school closures.

In the end, it was abundantly clear that Seattle was the fastest growing city in the US and the "reason" that triggered the school closures was no longer valid. New schools started to be opened one year after the closures and eventually SPS opened far more new schools that were closed in the 00's

At the final closure vote the theme was ... "we have to close schools, because we said we would close schools and because we have invested so much into the process of closing schools." The sane thing would have been to hit the pause button.

This entire "adoption" process was triggered by a high stakes test that no longer exists. The adoption committee has done a very good job of daylighting inequities. But the entire concept for the process is no longer valid and the proposed solution is clearly going to perpetuate the same inequities, that have been highlighted, because the proposed solution does include any money for science kits, workbooks, textbooks and other "consumables". The current proposal is for video rentals.

Per the vendor quotes, I estimate that a fully loaded Amplify adoption that includes the workbooks and science kits and other consumables will cost at least $30M. For $30M we have a lot of options to solve this problem.

kellie said...

And I just don't believe the "never had books." I suspect that "books" is part of the inequity. I have seen text books for Physical Science, Biology, Physics and Chemistry over the years.

I have purchased a copy for my students to use at home and then donated that extra copy back to the school at the end of the year. I thank the adoption committee for highlighting how this practice has contributed to the inequities. But there have been physical text books in my house, over the years.

Anonymous said...

Related to the SAT "Environmental Context Dashboard," apparently the ACT is developing a similar tool. While the College Board includes information about AP enrollment and scores (because that's part of their operations), I'd guess IB is not taken into account. Also, SAT scores for students enrolled in Running Start are associated with their district school, so it seems the index would underestimate those students' comparable access to rigor (a sample dashboard indicates a graphic "AP opportunity," with data on seniors taking AP, avg AP score, avg AP exams taken, and unique exams taken). I wonder how the algorithm calculates the index for students who, for whatever reason, don't share any family info with the College Board (and would a college even know that info was withheld?). It almost seems like trying to negotiate a loan without knowing your credit score.

How would it play out at a school like Garfield? From a PBS Newshour report: "An underlying theory of the system (backed by most demographers) is that most high schools and neighborhoods in the United States are not terribly diverse economically. So it is the rare high school that has many wealthy and many low-income students."

very interesting

Anonymous said...

We've done the same with textbooks over the years (buy used and donate back to school), to save on the backpack load. Some of the adopted texts are old enough that used copies are generally less than $5. The pictures dated the texts, but as old as they were, they still adequately covered the basic concepts (well, except for world languages - teachers had to make modifications for some of the outdated usage).

Has there been any discussion about at an at-home component? Middle and high school students should be getting homework and should have an opportunity to access content outside of class time (and not just poor B/W photocopies!). How does that work with CarbonTime and Amplify, especially if students have limited access to computers?

Watching clips of the last two Board meetings, the science committee's domination of the comment time seems like an abuse of the public testimony period. Almost bizarre. Many comments were incredibly scripted, especially those of the students.

random blogger

Dick Schreck said...

I attended the May 15 board meeting and stayed through the discussion of the Adoptions. I am not impressed and especially disappointed with Burke and Pinkham. They did not/could not defend their amendment of the K5 BAR and were not knowledgeable about the HMH curriculum they were proposing. It was obvious they had not reached out to staff to answer their questions about Amplify vs HMH. Further, their action leads to further distrust between Curriculum staff/teachers and the board. It is a shame, after over a month of discussion and presentations at board meetings, that the board is still not able to grasp the basics of the Adoption Committee recommendations (for example they seemed surprised that Amplify K5 uses very little online student contact)

Anonymous said...

Both Pinkham and Burke are not returning to the board but it might be too late to stop the train.


Watching said...

Linh Co for President!

We were lucky to have Rick Burke serve on our school board.

Sounds like the finances around Amplify need to be sorted-out. Perhaps it is best for the waiver proves to run it's course and conduct an audit. The board would have another year to figure out if there were financial irregularities.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to have a clearer picture of the last 4 years and how the current school board performed. In 2015 Harris attacked the board members blaming every issue in SPS on them. Now she the problem, right? What goes around comes around for sure.

Watching also

Melissa Westbrook said...

"How does that work with CarbonTime and Amplify, especially if students have limited access to computers?"

No science homework?

Watching also, how is Harris the problem?

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

Harris is on the current board, right? So if you use Harris's own logic from 2015 then she is the problem, right?.

Watching also

Anonymous said...

Do we really NEED more Harris types on the Board?

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how Westbrook deals with the administration if she wins. There are a lot of worried people down at JSCEE right now.


Anonymous said...

Looks like there will be a primary race for every position unlike the last 2 cycles.


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

I'm skimming this thread but it appears that Burke isn't returning and Melissa Westbrook is running...

Rick had good intentions and intellect but didn't have the spine for the job.

Is Melissa running? I thought she recently said she wasn't. But, then again, on a slow news day this week she said she was not going to have any more info on this blog except for a few weekly open threads.

That sounds like a politician to me.

Dull Moment

Anonymous said...

Dick Schreck,
You’ve written in this blog in support of the Adoption Committee‘s work.
As you’re aware, there are appearances of impropriety in the process, including several versions of how Amplify was piloted in SPS (anonymous donor, etc).
What is your understanding of that, and of some of the other process questions that have been raised?

Integrity Matters

Anonymous said...

Rick is a smart guy so I don't understand why he didn'y let people know he wasn't running for re-election.


Anonymous said...


Flawed Science Curriculum Adoption Process.

The SPS Science Adoption Committee's recommendations have NO legal standing to the Seattle School Board, because the SPS Instructional Materials Committee (IMC) was never approved by the SPS School Board. The IMC must certify that the Adoption Committee's work was done in compliance with both State Law and Board Policies.

Yes, this issue matters.

Board Members should not be pressured by District Staff into accepting the Science Adoption Committee's recommendations.
These recommendations have No legal standing.

Vendors that have been affected by the SPS-Amplify "Partnership", and undisclosed donations from Amplify to SPS, should be aware of this issue.

The SPS School Board has a legal obligation to follow Washington State RCWs. They have chosen not to.


Dick Schreck said...

I am convinced that the adoption committee process was unbiased and performed in compliance with SPS policy. In my opinion, MM Welch is a person of high integrity and has the experience and enthusiasm to really drive improvement in SPS science. She was obviously the expert in the room on Wednesday.
Secondly, I don’t think anyone at SPS knows exactly how the donation of Amplify was accomplished to allow its use in some SPS schools. I think SPS legal is trying to sort this history out with Amplify based on comments Wednesday. So we will probably know soon. But I believe it does not impact the current Adoption Committee Recomendation and that Amplify is the best current choice, just as was decided in Bellevue, Edmonds, and other schools.

Stuart J said...

I did a quick Google search. It appears Amplify is the 6-8 curriculum in Bellevue.I also found a petition at Change.org saying please do something different.



A curriculum called FOSS is the K-5 curriculum.


kellie said...

@ Dick Schreck

Thank you for commenting here.

The wonderful thing about a democracy is that many people can watch the same information and come to radically different conclusions. I am confident that the adoption committee is happy with their work. I also believe the adoption committee did a great job outlining many of the issues with science education across the district. If you were on that committee, thank you!

That said, this current committee as well as the prior versions of this committee over the last four years have done a terrible job of stakeholder engagement and transparency. The committee is recommending a radical departure form current practices. The more radical the departure the more critical transparency and engagement needs to be.

I want to be clear about this. Those problems are management problems and not a reflection on the committee members.

Here is a small example. At the board meeting, it was mentioned that all of the science materials would be available for the public to view for the two weeks between introduction and vote. I happened to be at JSCEE for a different meeting on Friday and I asked to see the materials. I was unable to find anyone who could direct me to viewing the materials.

The committee may or may not have reached the best result. I have no way of knowing that. But I do know that the process, from the point of view of someone knowledgeable about committee work, is quite opaque with too many conflicting narratives.

But even if there weren't any conflicting narratives, I have a big problem with the simple fact that the current version of the BAR is the LEAST EXPENSIVE option and does not include any money to fix the problems identified by the committee. The only thing this current BAR does is provide for some very expensive video rentals that were designed to prepare students for a test that no longer exists.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Secondly, I don’t think anyone at SPS knows exactly how the donation of Amplify was accomplished to allow its use in some SPS schools. I think SPS legal is trying to sort this history out with Amplify based on comments Wednesday. So we will probably know soon. But I believe it does not impact the current Adoption Committee Recomendation and that Amplify is the best current choice, just as was decided in Bellevue, Edmonds, and other schools."

I'll have more to say in a new thread on the adoption but seriously?

It's been months and months and story after story about how Amplify came into the district. To say it just needs to be "sorted" out is nonsense and a HUGE red flag.

It DOES impact the decision because if Amplify wasn't playing fair (and the district went along with it), other vendors could sue the district.

It DOES impact the decision because Amplify itself said, in its RFP, that it was working in "partnership" with the district to "offer support for adoption."

All the whitewash in the world does not change that.

Carol Simmons said...

Professional Development is critically important for the implementation of any new curriculum. The amount of funding for Amplify professional development for current and newly hired staff is unclear.
Before any funding is given for professional development for the Amplify curriculum, adequate funding for professional development in every school for Native and Ethnic studies curricula must be assured and Board adopted

Dick Schreck said...

Kellie, please explain the very expensive video rentals comment. I do not understand.
Melissa, please be a little more specific in your comments as far as hearsay vs what is known vs what you believe. How is my belief that it needs to be sorted out a huge red flag?

There is no whitewash in my opinion.

Dick Schreck said...

Carol Simons, I agree with you the importance of PD. This was answered specifically for Amplify in the May 15th meeting, I believe. As I understand it all current K5 teachers will get PD over a three year introduction period as budgeted. Then all new teachers will get PD as they enter, but this is not budgeted because new teachers get PD as part of the normal, ongoing practice. I can’ remember the specifics of 6-8 teacher PD, but it was also discussed.

Alsept Teresa said...

New teachers have not gotten PD in science for the past several years. There was a time when that happened, however it was pre-alignment team time.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Dick, please don’t be disingenuous . The red flag is that no one except MMW knows the truth. There is no getting around that. Every instance of MMW is documented in minutes of meetings or video. That’s not what I believe, that is what is in the public record.

Dick Schreck said...

Melissa, I am not being disingenuous, but I am pretty simple. What I believe is best for SPS district is that we come to a common understanding of what has occurred before Adoption Committee work and what are the recommendations going forward, and why. There is a lot of misinformation floating around and I am trying to be more specific and drill down through sloppy language and innuendo.

If you believe that MMW knows the truth, that’s great. I’ve heard her explain and it makes sense to me. She may be the one who knows because of her involvement and longevity compared to other staff and board.

I would characterize your comment as “what you believe “, except agree that there is known documentation of the meetings in the public records

Dick Schreck said...

Alsept Teresa, sorry to heard that PD is not being done now. I hope that changes.

kellie said...

@ Dick Schreck,

Per the BAR and the Vendor quote attached to the BAR.

We have completed the pricing form provided with the solicitation with all required costs, including digital licenses for a duration of 9 years. There are consumable elements in the materials kits included as Classroom Supplies on that form. The District may choose to source these materials from Amplify, in which case there would be an additional cost that would vary based on the rate at which the materials are actually consumed. Based on our best projection for the consumption of the consumables, if the District chooses to use our Refill Kits to replace the consumables, we would project the following costs (please note that the prices below do not include the 12% shipping charge or the 10.1% nominal sales tax):

Per the vendor quote, all the costs are broken out into various buckets. The charges for "licensing" the online curriculum is separate from any of the other wrap around support materials. When you examine the licensing components of the contract, the contract essentially looks like your standard tech contract. AKA it looks just like licensing Microsoft Office or your standard Netflix subscription.

All of the "conversation" around Amplify seems to be comparing a fully supported and fully loaded Amplify adoption to your more standard curriculum adoption where you are simply buying text books.

I can really understand the point of view of the adoption committee and Amplify supporters. A "fully-loaded-and-fully-supported" Amplify adoption looks great. But my best estimate from reading the contracts is that a "fully-loaded-and-fully-supported" Amplify adoption will cost around $30M and for $30M, there are a lot of other options out there that would also be pretty awesome.

The BAR that is being presented is a very economical and pared down version that is really only the licensing fees for the online materials. By the time you are doing this, you are really not doing anything more than Crash Course provides for FREE. (Crash Course is pretty awesome BTW)

I have read lots of contracts in my professional experience. The materials for the C&I committee meeting were over 800 pages. The devil is in the details and when all is said and done, SPS is effectively renting videos and not actually PURCHASING anything.

Lots of folks have various concerns. My concerns are related to the the technical aspects of a curriculum adoption and to the best of knowledge, curriculum adoptions are intended to purchase materials and the final BAR has little or no purchasing aspects.

Moreover, the proposal as currently configured really does nothing to address all the inequities that were identified by the committee.

Those are my concerns and the presentation on Wednesday night did not answer those concerns.

kellie said...

The vendor quote is full of little things like this.

Digital student books (Grades K–5): While each unit’s kit contains physical copies of the relevant student titles, the teacher also has access to digital versions of each student book, as well. Teachers can use these digital versions to project the book to
the class. Classroom licenses for student access to the digital books are also available.

Everything has an additional fee. You either need to purchase the kits to support the lessons, which in addition to the cost of the kits, also includes a per-year-per-kit licensing fee. If you don't purchase the kits, then you need to purchase a classroom license for student access.

The bottom line here is that curriculum adoption committees were essentially created to evaluate and purchase textbooks. This is a whole new ballgame. A digital curriculum adoption is fundamentally different from the standard rubrics used to evaluate hard copy textbooks.

Also in the BAR is a provision to delay the purchase of anything for a few years so that downtown can find the money. In a year where we just RIF'ed teachers and nearly lost counselors and librarians, this seems expensive.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dick, be an MMW cheerleader/acolyte/supporter but...

"There is a lot of misinformation floating around and I am trying to be more specific and drill down through sloppy language and innuendo."

That sloppy language? MMW. Multiple stories? MMW. Not me, not the real press, MMW.

If the Amplify Science adoption goes down, it's on her.

Kellie, you are wrong; they are purchasing workbooks. Consumables.

And all the printing to be done to support the lessons comes out of each school's budget. What's that cost going to look like.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kellie, for translating all of the Amplify Contract details. It is expensive.

It is abundantly clear that all of the Science Curriculum BARs need to be sent to the Audit and Finance Committee for evaluation.

Director Mack called for a discussion and Statement of Values, to anchor decisions on EdTech Curriculum Materials.

Some people say textbooks are dead. Others say textbooks are essential. It is time for the Board to carefully review the implications of shifting to Tech-Heavy Science Curricula.

Director Burke brought up the need to discuss the funding of Ethnic Studies at the last Board Meeting.

This is yet another reason for the Board to postpone decisions on Science Curriculum Materials, until they look at the funding landscape for the next several years. Funding for Ethnic Studies needs to be prioritized. Budgets reflect Values.

There are so many good ways to teach Science, without restricting teachers and students to one mode of learning.

One size learning does not fit all.

Penny Wise

kellie said...

@ Mel,

I wouldn't be surprised if I was wrong on any specific detail at this point. I have only reviewed the documents the went to the C&I committee, prior to the work session and things seems to be shifting rapidly. I re-read the vendor proposal before responding to Dick so that I was clear about what Amplify was proposing.

This is what the C&I documents said.

I further move that the Seattle School Board authorize the Superintendent to purchase AmplifyScience as the core instructional materials for all grade K-5 Seattle Public Schools classrooms for an amount not to exceed $2,368,870 in a three-year phased-in purchase and implementation plan, covering licensing through school years 2019-2020 through 2027-28, and an amount of $5,040,674 for in-house professional development and collaboration for a total nine year amount of $7,409,544.

I should note, that I have never felt a need to review any documents related to any curriculum adoption work. I typically only review capacity related documents. But this whole process has been muddy enough that I wanted to check.

Do you know if the cost analysis in the BAR was increased to include the workbooks?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kellie, I was kidding. It's ridiculous how little the district is getting for the money spent.

Any questions I should ask at ITAC tomorrow?

Anonymous said...


Please ask for the list of SPS Schools that have Amplify in them, at the ITAC meeting.

The Bid from Amplify claims that its Curriculum Products have been piloted in 69 SPS Schools, through its "Partnership" with SPS.

There are only 20 Schools with Waivers (which includes 4 K-5 Schools). This would suggest that Amplify has been placed in 69 - 20 = 49 additional K-5 Elementary schools.

Presumably Without Waivers. Presumably without prior Board knowledge.