Slogging Through the Board Meeting; Science Adoption K-5

As you may well imagine, anyone in the room that night was exhausted (and they had a huge list of Intro items to get thru).  But they had to finish the Science Adoption and the last item was K-5.

President Harris inquired of legal counsel, Ronald Boy, if they needed to read into the minutes the amendment that had previously been enacted by the vote on Amplify middle school science (given both middle and elementary schools will be using Amplify).

Director Burke wanted to highlight that the amendment that he and Director Scott Pinkham had created before the meeting (that appeared in the agenda) had been withdrawn before the meeting.

Director Jill Geary stated that it should be amended per the previous amendment, with a check-in at year four with Research & Evaluation using various assessments.

That amendment passed 5-2, with Pinkham and Burke once again voting no.

On the Main Motion to Adopt Amplify for K-5
Director Eden Mack pointed out that - again - the BAR was different from other documents and she found the costs to be very high with no identified funding source.  (That lack of funding discussion happened during the middle school adoption and was noted by head of Budget, JoLynn Berge.)  Mack said she would find it hard to vote yes on this one.

Burke stated that he had concerns about elementary students in front of screens, "It doesn't build relationships."

DeWolf asked Burke what kinds of "tangible things" he was looking for.  He said this isn't "perfect but a pathway to get there."  He claimed it was micromanaging to worry about screens. He said we were "a city of tech" and our students need to be engaged with tech.  He also said parents should not be putting their kids in front of screens "but that's not something I can say." (And yet he did.)  He said at schools, "we need to involve (students) deeply."  

In tech? At elementary?  Not sure I know a shred of research that backs up that statement but as DeWolf pointed out, he has no children.

I want to interject here something I wrote about elsewhere because you should note the shot across the bow from DeWolf's statement above about "screentime."  (See bottom of this thread for my reprint - I tell you now this is coming like a freight train.  You, as parents, are going to get criticized for how much screentime happens at home and you will be told that tech use in the classroom doesn't count in your kid's day.)

Harris pointed out that there was no Board policy on the use of tech nor for "personalized learning." She asked if it was the cart before the horse.  (I think so and it may come back to haunt them.) She said there is a need for "profound conversations. "

Geary stated that for Amplify K-5, there is no screen time in grades K-1, only 10% for grade 2 and grades 3-5 they work in pairs, all "under the supervision of a teacher."

I highlight that key phrase because, while Geary will be gone, I can guarantee that SPS, like many districts using more technology-based curriculums, will start eyeing costs, realizing that for most of the digital learning that they don't need a teacher all the time.  They only need "a facilitator."  That facilitator does NOT have to be a credentialed teacher and could save a lot of money.  The California charter school group, Rockship, has this model.

I does make me wonder why the SEA didn't consider this issue.

Then, another odd thing happened that rarely happens.  The head of Technology, John Krull, came to the podium unbidden to read the OSPI  ed tech standards.  No matter that it was late, no matter that he was basically just reading and reading, not explaining, and the Board sat mutely and allowed it.  Very weird.

Geary said that the standards are basic education as are teachers.  She said that kids using tech at home to "watch stupid YouTube videos" and that kids need to be taught at school that at home tech is "a toy but at school, it's a tool."

Pinkham asked about what was listed as "in-house PD."  Mary Margaret Welch said, "That would be me."  

Harris seemed worried about how the K-5 would be phased in and how to prioritize among all the priorities in the district.

Berge said they have $1M available for 2019-2020 but they don't know what the financial situation will be in 2020-2021.  But, she said, this was about curriculum and not funding.  (Well, if you choose an expensive curriculum, it is about funding.)

Harris countered saying that the Board was "getting attacked, 24-7 and we need answers for these folks."  She said they could not "make a promise their wallet can't cash."

Then there was some discussion about the actual costs which, at this late date, was just astonishing.  How is it that each of the BARs for the science adoption had factual and "scribner" errors in them?

Burke said, "These are cash-strapped times for the district."  He also pointed out that there are other high-level academic considerations like the Spanish curriculum, Time Immemorial (Native American curriculum) and Ethnic Studies, saying verbal commitments had been made.

Berge said that those were funded in 2019-2020.  Burke pressed on, "Ethnics Studies and PD for $5M?"  Kyle Kinoshita, head of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction, then came to the podium and said an odd thing.  He said that Ethnics Studies and Time Immemorial were getting $100K (unclear if that is each or together) and that amount of money met the capacity that they "said they can do now."  

I would love to call up those two departments and ask if more money might not help their expand their efforts to more schools. That statement did not ring true to me.

More discussion on costs which, again, seemed a little late.

The vote was taken and this time Mack joined Burke and Pinkham to vote no but the motion passed 4-3.

Excerpt from my previous thread:

What I am not clear about is two-fold.  What is the learning plan about the use of technology?  And, what about health and screen time.  I include this story from Arlington, Virginia school district where it was stated (bold theirs, color mine):

“Screen time” is an often misunderstood and misused phrase. It is important to understand to what we refer when we say “screen time,” if we use the phrase at all, and empower ourselves with current facts.

In October of 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its guidelines to drop a hard-and-fast rule about length of time children of any age should be using a digital device. Previous guidelines did not control for important variables, and were therefore overly restrictive. The current state of the literature helps us better understand what does or may cause harm, and what does not.
The phrase “screen time,” as used by academics, refers to using digital media for “entertainment purposes.” Using a digital device for learning is not considered “screen time.”
Remember this information because I'll bet it will be coming to a school near you.  Basically, if "screen time" doesn't occur at school, then the school is saying if your kid is getting too much of it, that's on you. 


Anonymous said…
oh dewolf please resign now! you don't engage your community, you let the dumpster fire burn at wms with no public comment and yet the worst part is you are a rubber stamp for staff. hate to see you on the city council but you are not a welcome sight on the school board.

thanks mw.

no caps
Anonymous said…
Any idea what Eric Stahl is up to?

Owler, too cryptic for me. Who is he?
Anonymous said…
Welp... that all was a big “F you!” to the school children of Seattle from Welch as complicitly enabled by Geary & Harris with DeWolf & Patu smiling along. Equity! Yahoo! Fun ride for all. Except for us, because we are getting off this idiotic ride as it careens off the cliff.

Found a microbi course (pricy, but good), found a chemistry one too, and they have very real wet bench lab experimentation included (you know, “science”?!).

They are pricy. But so what. They are inconvenient (somebody’s got to drive & pick up). Oh well. Small price to pay for getting our kids educated.

Alas, vast majority of Seattle children are not going to get these opportunities for science education because their parents are too poor, their parents don’t have logistical ability to provide transportation to minors to get to the venues, and their parents are too busy to understand the manner in which their children just got screwed over from obtaining a science education - no doubt they assume just going to school ought to cover those based (well, except WMS parents who know their kids got no education).

Yes, I showed up to meetings and I spoke directly with four directors and I sent emails. But really, that was a waste of my time, from here on out, I understand my time is better used serving exclusively my family and my kids. That’s my takeaway from this most recent SPS debacle that their culture of lawlessness has taught me. I tried. I got ignored. One of my kids has already suffered through amplify for two years so I know what crap it is. So we are done.

Do you want to scream privilege? Go ahead. We are immigrants and parents did not graduate high school, by the way. But, you can scream all you like while my kids are getting their time with dissections and microscopes while other kids suffer through Carbon Time. I make no apologies for taking care of my kids: I pay taxes, I advocated for everybody else's kids, but to no avail. Time to retreat, retrench, and move forward.

Before you get mad at this, remember, (1) don’t shoot the messenger, (2) the plane is crashing so it’s ok to go ahead and save yourself & your kids by jumping ship, (3) reliance on SPS for education is a dicy proposition because they’ve clearly shown their priority is purely optics (dumb down for everyone & close the achievement/opportunity gap) not actual education.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Anyway, my kids are off to learn now, and they won’t be hurting anybody else by simply enjoying science while their curiosity is piqued. Wish it could be that way for everyone, but Welch and Juneau demand that no one child can thrive. That’s their version of equity. Why they just don’t take care of kids, especially the ones enmeshed in the most difficult circumstances, is a mystery. Perhaps because they themselves are parents?

***** My kids will be opting out of every single standardized assessment there is unless it’s a requirement for graduation and they are opted out of Navariance too. I see the direction this district is heading, it’s up for grabs now amongst corporate raiders, and to them data is valuable. Well, they are NOT getting our kids’ data. So that is our “F you!” right back at them.

Science matters

Anonymous said…
He is a lawyer who is doing an extensive investigation that involves you and Sue P.

I can't tell just if you are going after the district with legal action or if someone is going after you and Sue P.


Sigh said…
Director Zachary DeWolf has gotten into the habit of interrupting his colleagues during board meetings. It is time for the board president to put a stop to these behaviors. Directors should have the ability to speak without interruption.
Anonymous said…
Ok I'm trying to understand all the uproar over Amplify science. None of my children got to experience any real science experiments in SPS at any school. 1-12 nothing! To make matters worst while at Ingraham High school my child's chemistry class had to resort to watching YouTube videos to learn chemistry. The teacher was way over her head and ended up quitting halfway through the class.

This is not good and it needs to improve but there are a lot of you squawking over 100% more than many students get.

Easy now
Owler, thanks for that. I am not suing anyone. I am a fairly careful person in what I write/say so I have no idea what I could be sued for. There are some interesting comments I’ve heard that I made unfounded charges against Mary Margaret Welch but I have reviewed what I said and I’m not worried. How did you know about this?
HCC Parent said…

Information regarding Amplify funding can be found above.

Interestingly, the amount of students attending Running Start has increased. Geary appeared to think advanced learners could have their needs met by attending Running Start. We're looking at a loss of dollars, here.
Anonymous said…
An insider at SPS legal let me know about it. Nothing was said about Mary Margaret Welch it's something else that I won't mention here due to possibly outing my source.

I think the law firm is a big one so keep that in mind.

Anonymous said…
It's Amplify they are starting a lawsuit against you and Sue Peters. It's all over JSCEE. You had better get a lawyer on retainer fast. There are some heavy hitters coming for you two and a current board member.

Mole hole
Sue me for reporting on a science adoption? That will be interesting.

Trying to intimidate me is not going to work. And, the blog is ceasing to cover SPS so I”m not sure what the point is.

Also, let’s just keep on this topic and any other discussion can be on an Open Thread.
Dick Schreck said…
Melissa..Reading your accounting of the May 29 meeting reminds me of how I feel while watching Fox News. I would advise everyone to watch the meeting for themselves.

Alsept Teresa said…
“... I can guarantee that SPS, like many districts using more technology-based curriculums, will start eyeing costs, realizing that for most of the digital learning that they don't need a teacher all the time. They only need "a facilitator." That facilitator does NOT have to be a credentialed teacher and could save a lot of money. The California charter school group, Rockship, has this model.

I does make me wonder why the SEA didn't consider this issue. “

Yes. It makes me wonder too. I will personally blame SEA leadership for their failure to fully engage all stakeholders before jumping on this rocky bandwagon
Anonymous said…
One lesson learned from this Amplify process is that parents need to work together to protect their children's right to privacy by closing loopholes in ed tech contracts and the law.

Ed tech companies are able to circumvent some key student FERPA and COPPA data privacy protections through the loophole of being classified as a "school official" rather than a commercial provider or general audience website.

Under FERPA, 99.31, "an educational agency or institution may disclose personally identifiable information from an education record of a student without the consent required by 99.30 if the disclosure meets one or more of the following conditions:
(1)(i)(A) The disclosure is to other school officials..."

Once designated a "school official" by the educational agency, providers may be given access to student data such as personally identifiable information, academic progress, behavioral, disciplinary and medical information, web browsing history, student's geolocation, IP addresses and classroom activities.

In Amplify's case, their Privacy Policy also adds the ability to collect the following student information:

- Photos, videos and audio files if devices have image, video and audio recording capabilities uses by students and educators for learning

- Online forum and community features that capture student and teacher information on message boards, online forums, chats, etc.

In their Privacy policy, Amplify provides an example that "when a teacher logs into an Amplify application that provides student assessment results, a list of students associated with that teacher may be displayed in the application. Amplify’s software looks this information up in a database that contains roster information (e.g. name, grade level, school ID numbers) that the School District supplied to Amplify".

To make matters worse, under their Privacy Policy "Disclosure of Information", Amplify explicitly retains the right to sell student data as an asset in the event of a bankruptcy or if the company is sold. While the rules for disclosure sound promising at first ("We will only share personal information stored on behalf of our customers with third parties if authorized by the relevant School District or SEA customer"), the true degree of self-accorded latitude is revealed at the end, "...or appropriate and and permitted by law".

Amplify grants additional liberties to their third party providers and affiliated education companies, who are contracted with Amplify, not SPS, who they "may also share personal information collected or stored in Amplify systems including "operating system providers, social media platforms, wireless service providers, device manufacturers and other application or service providers".

Furthermore, Amplify disavows any responsibility for student data privacy as it pertains to their third party providers: "this policy does not address, and Amplify is not responsible for, the privacy, information or other practices of such third parties, including any third party operating any service to which Amplify product or service links".

Laughing Out Loud said…
You traffic in hearsay , and let your blind, uninformed followers engage in slander. Too bad for the public, our dopey School Board actually listens to you and then unfortunately regurgitates many of your unfounded claims during public meetings embarrassing themselves and Seattle Public Schools.

Why won’t you and our President be transparent? I’m waiting for the tax returns and explanation of how you are able to attend all these meetings 24/7.

I suppose we now know why you aren’t and never will run for the School Board.

Anonymous said…
Science Matters, your experience perfectly matches ours. So glad to be finished with SPS this year. I'll be voting 'no' on all future funding levies. Exhausted from all the supplemental education we have had to pay for just to break even with kids in the rest of the world - in a supposedly education-centric city like Seattle. What a joke. First they came for the math.....then the science.....

Shell Shocked
Researcher said…

In 2015, Seattle Education noted that Seattle Public Schools signed a deal to bring- in Amplify assessments. In 2016, the district began to bring- in Amplify. Hard to believe the district didn't have a plan to use Amplify- all along.

There are interesting comments in the comment section. In 2015, Amplify was on the brink of bankruptcy. News Corp was Negotiating With Investors to Sell Its Failing Edtech Arm, Amplify.

What guarantees do we have that Amplify won't go Belly-Up?
Researcher said…
I recommend that readers watch the board meeting, too.
Outsider said…
Anonymous troll making vague threats of legal attack against blogger. That's the answer to the question: how could this thing get any uglier? And other trolls engaging in the crudest name calling, likening the blogger to "our president" and Fox News.

Nota bene: this is how they behave when they won. Grace in victory is not only considered a sign of class, but also usually considered wise, strategic, and prudent. None of it here, not with the Amplifiers. It's actually weird. I can think of three explanations: 1) a combination of amateurishness and deep down compulsive nastiness of these people; or 2) they know their product is so bad or their plans so aggressive that the battle never ends and there is no such thing as victory to them; or 3) there is a fresh dripping skeleton in the closet somewhere which they are afraid will get found if there is too much post-hoc scrutiny of the adoption process. How else would you explain it?

Davis Wright Tremaine wouldn't like their name being dropped in blog comments like owler did, and triply so if the weren't actually involved. They promote their association with anti-SLAPP laws and litigation (working both sides, it seems):

Eric Stahl is listed in the latter link as one of their anti-SLAPP contacts in Seattle. Stock up on popcorn; the drama seems not to have stopped with the adoption vote.
Outsider said…
One other note: it's possible that Davis Wright Tremaine was hired for contract due diligence, and not to SLAPP any members of the public. The size of the contract and the questions raised about the adoption process might have made it seem prudent to get a review by outside counsel, perhaps just to cover the arse of SPS legal. This is a total wild guess. I am not a lawyer, though I play one on the internet. I am also not a dog. Or so I say. You will never really know.

If it's something more benign, and owler leaked it in a way to make it seem much more sinister, and owler is a SPS employee, wow, that was a bold move.
LOL, you made me LOL.

"Why won’t you and our President be transparent? I’m waiting for the tax returns and explanation of how you are able to attend all these meetings 24/7."

You will have a long wait (probably for both of us - Jesus, I just put myself together with Trump). To educate you, virtually no candidate for elected office (and certainly not school board candidates) have to publish their tax returns. Neither do bloggers. Your demand falls in the category of being a nosy person.

That I have never been sued nor any of my readers. I can back up most of what I write with evidence. That you don't like that evidence doesn't make me wrong.

Interestingly, the one time I was taken to court by a sad person who was trying to prevent me from going to Board meetings, committee meetings, etc., I was the one who invoked the use of SLAPP (which intrigued the judge). But a later judge disallowed it and then promptly dismissed the plaintiff's case without hearing any of it.

I had asked that we stay on topic - and again, when people get personal that should be a signal to you about their motivations - and we didn't.

I'll close this thread with a great comment from Researcher:

"I recommend that readers watch the board meeting, too."

Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

COVID Issues Heating up for Seattle Public Schools