Wednesday Open Thread

I attended both the Board Audit&Finance committee meeting and the Curriculum&Instruction committee meeting this week.  Interesting discussions at both that I will be writing about soon.   I note that the only school board candidate at either meeting, was Lisa Rivera Smith who was at the C&I meeting.  This was a bit of a disappointment as these last committee meetings of the year are key ones.  Plus, the sooner that candidates understand the scope of the work the better.  The learning curve for the Board is huge and I think that surprises many new directors.

Great article at The Atlantic by local rich guy, Nick Hanauer, called Better Schools Won't Fix America.  He gets it half right:

All told, I have devoted countless hours and millions of dollars to the simple idea that if we improved our schools—if we modernized our curricula and our teaching methods, substantially increased school funding, rooted out bad teachers, and opened enough charter schools—American children, especially those in low-income and working-class communities, would start learning again. Graduation rates and wages would increase, poverty and inequality would decrease, and public commitment to democracy would be restored.


Anonymous said…
Seneca Family of Agencies in the amount of $961,000.00

You have to be kidding me! this is the same group that colluded with a past (fired) special ed. director in kick backs and other nefarious things. Does the board pay attention to anything.

SPED Parent
Anonymous said…
Wow how much does SPS spend per year on outside services?

Anonymous said…
Why are SPS staff members like Greenberg and Wynkoop taking spots on the speaker list? They are employees of SPS. Shouldn't they address the board in a way that doesn't take away spots from the public?

Watching, you picked a good Board meeting to ask that question. Take a look at the Consent agenda; 90% of it is service contracts. Add that up.

JJ, I think that teachers and principals are okay to speak; I don't like when JSCEE staff take spots.
Anonymous said…
OMG it's $16 million just for SPED and what about the contracts under the board approval process threshold of $249K? Just how many of those are there?

Watching, that's something I don't know right offhand but you get the idea from that Consent agenda list.
Anonymous said…
$5.5 million dollars to re-roof the African American Academy school building? Come on folks these guys are ripping off the tax payers every chance they get.

My roof has a 25year warranty and the roof on African American Academy K-8 can't be that old. What's going on ? Doesn't anyone question these over the top contracts?

Watching, I have asked that question on roofing costs for years. I missed the cost for the former AAA building; that is really costly. I also asked at a Board committee meeting that staff specify if they are doing the ENTIRE roof or partial. Many times they only do part of a roof but claim in levy materials "new roof." Best to be transparent when you are talking that kind of money.
Calculator said…
The board is set to approve approximately $40M in expenditures.
Anonymous said…
The avg cost for roofing is $350 to $450 per square including tear off. The roof is around 750 squares (square = 10x10) @ the high end of $550 per square = $375,000 . So how do you get $5.5 million. I must be reading it wrong. Even at $1000 per square that's only $750,000. I guess I need to see the contract, is there a link to it?

Do e said…
I suspect the use unionized roofers.
Emily Butler Ginolfi Detractor said…
So Emily Butler Ginolfi is at it again. She is out of her mind and we have had to deal with her racist preceptions all year long. No help from the District or the Board. Yeah they fired her but they should have done it way sooner and not let her flame the building with this divisive speak on her way out. Oh and aside from the hate filled tone - this is honors for all - all over again. And no specific curriculum for HCS is the district shirking it responsibilities. Why is HCC only racist in the southern part of the district? Anyone know that?

A Message from the Social Studies Teachers: The Social Studies Department invites you to learn more about the integration of Social Studies Classes for the 2019-20 school year. We are hosting an evening event on June 20th, 6 pm to share our vision.

It has become increasingly apparent that the segregation of students in Social Studies based on the academic services they receive is neither sustainable nor the right thing to do, especially because it has racially segregated our students and school community. Social Studies teachers have committed to integrating all three grade levels for the 2019-20 school year in order to support one another in this process.

We know that there will be new and different challenges for ourselves, our students, the WMS community, and families; however, we are ready to step up to this challenge because we believe it is what is best for our students, our classes, our families, and the whole community.More information about this change will be shared at a community meeting in the WMS Library on June 20th at 6 pm. Our goal with this change is that WMS become part of a consistent experience that can address long-simmering segregation issues while providing new approaches to Social Studies rigor for everyone. Please join us on June 20th, 2019 at 6 pm in the WMS Library to learn more.

Thank you, Washington Middle School Social Studies Department
Anonymous said…
There is a meeting at JAMS tonight(right now as a matter of fact) because they are doing the same thing there, for the same reasons.

Innit together
Anonymous said…
WOW $5.5 million for one re-roof, that's impossible. Who ever was responsible for inspecting our assets should be fired now!

One wouldn't think there is a huge financial crisis at SPS the way they are spending money!

All unnecessary spending should be frozen immediately.

Tax payer
Anonymous said…
It should be illegal to campaign from the dais. I'm talking to you Harris and Diwitt or whatever your name is. Loved the short timers long ramblings. I'm going to miss these ...

Linh-Co said…
You are receiving this letter to discuss the options for XXX to continue XXX Math pathway, which is Algebra 2 for the 2019-2020 school year.

Our hope was that the five (5) students that needed Algebra 2 during their 8th grade year would be able to go off campus and take this course at Lincoln. Currently, Lincoln is unable to offer any seats, due to the continued enrollment of High School students to their program. If seats were to come available, we would not know until September.

At this time, we would like to offer you information so that your family can prepare. HIMS can schedule your child for either an EARLY release or LATE start thus making the Algebra 2 course a “homeschooled” class. How this works is that each family would complete an “intent to homeschool” form with SPS Cascade Partnership program, at which time you would contact Ms. Peila at and decide if a late start or early release works best for your child other scheduling needs.

Please note that when a student is homeschooled they are not considered a full time SPS student and would need to arrive late (no earlier than 10 minutes before the start of 2nd period) or leave the building early (no later than 10 minutes after the end of 5th period) depending on schedule. Ms. Powers will instruct you on the check in/check out process, your child will be able to sign themselves in or out as needed per adjusted schedule, with your written permission. This “part-time” SPS schooling, will not impact full time enrollment status for High School.

Per the 6th grade letter when you accepted the invitation for your student to start AL 1 in 6th grade, taking the AL 2 class in 8th grade online if Lincoln was not available is at family expense and HIMS does not offer a “study hall” for this class.

We will continue to work with Lincoln and will let you know if during the summer, they are able to make seats available to HIMS 8th grade students.

Please visit the OSPI Website for a list of approved online providers.

When your student enrolls into High School for the 2020-2021 school year, you would present your “certificate” of completion from an approved SPS/OSPI online program to the High School Counselor and your student will be placed in the appropriate next level of Math. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.

You will receive a mailed letter this week.


Dorian Manza


Hamilton International Middle School
Nick Esparza said…
Well, Leslie Harris. You campaigned on equity, transparancy, and trust. I guess it was all smoke and mirrors. No follow through... From supervising the superintendant to managing the budget. No wonder we don't trust you. You are a "no" vote.
Anonymous said…

Did they tell you it was because it was slow simmering racism? Or just everyday pedological malpractice for the HCC.

EBG yikes
Horse Pony said…
It is time for the board to recognize that the majority of Seattle Public School students, guardians and parents do not attend board meetings. The horse and pony shows are getting old.

Horse Pony said…
Inflammatory language will be used to intimidate and silence individuals.
Anonymous said…
Leaving aside the many issues with offering no other choice but part-time homeschooling (and forcing students off campus), HIMS should know that SPS cannot dictate HOW homeschoolers homeschool. They CANNOT dictate such things as specific online providers. Families can pick a math text and work through it at home or hire a tutor or choose an online provider outside of the OSPI list or WHATEVER. If they then enroll in a public school (part-time homeschoolers are homeschoolers first, and are accessing the public schools part-time, whether for 1 class or 5), homeschooled students are supposed to be treated similarly to private schooled students. Can SPS dictate how math is taught for private schooled students? No. And they can't for homeschooled students either.

educate yourself

Anonymous said…
No, Seneca Group wasn’t the kickback organization of the previous sped administration. That was TIERS. Seneca are the ones who got the giant SPED improvement windfall OSPI granted to totally fix the mess. Last man standing principle. Eg.15% of all our SPED dollar’s go to them for advice. That was years ago. Isn’t SPED all good now? Before Wyeth Jessee rolled into town, there were virtually no outside placements. Now? Looks like we have $16M, a breathtaking number, of outside schools. These are at over $100k per student. Has the board ever, in a million years, asked a single question about these costs? Like “How’s it going?” Or. “Gee, that’s a big number. Why so much?”. Or. “Is it working?” Or. “How did this happen?” SENECA was supposed to increase capacity. Why would they? It’s very unusual for a company to leave the gravy train of their own volition. This doesn’t even count all the small contracts below the school board threshold. And here we all thought special ed was underfunded. Look at those big numbers, passed out like candy. When schools refuse, and make no mistake, they are simply refusing, the money grubbers will show up and take the kids... at absurd prices, which seems more than ample.

Amplify This
Thanks, Linh-Co. I hope you sent this onto Board members. What about parents who cannot facilitate the kind of effort this will take? So many questions.

Horse Pony and Poppy, could you please be more specific? What is being said that bothers you?
Calculator said…
Thanks, Amplify This. The board was asked to approve a staggering amount of dollars last night. Calls for additional funding- without board scrutiny- are beyond disturbing.
Anonymous said…
"Yup. All the issues that students bring to school cannot be solved at school. That's work for all of us and our society and our elected officials. There has to be the public will to lift all boats."

The focus of support and equity is for children of color under the poverty line. However another issue IMO is that some families with median middle class incomes ($20,000 more than poverty line perhaps) also get lumped in with the "wealthy". Especially if they are also white or Asian. It's tough to make it as a family in this city on that income! The real wealthy's income has grown exponentially, especially baby boomers who have seen incredible property value appreciation, while middle class families struggling. Many of us have backgrounds where we may have been first generation middle class. We have no advocates, have struggled to rent or buy fixers near better schools, yet face big cuts at our public schools, and are now told we are "privileged". Geez, many are just trying to survive and have their kid be able to get into a four year state college.

Horse Pony said…
Anyone that tries to have a reasonable conversation regarding PTA funding, grant funding etc. will be called a racist and white supremist. Name calling shuts down any hope of a reasonable conversation.

The Horse and Pony shows at the John Stanford Center are getting old. As previously stated, the board needs to recognize that the vast majority of those in Seattle Public Schools are not at the board meetings.
Anonymous said…
I can tell you what will happen to kids of parents who "cannot facilitate the kind of effort this [homeschooling math] will take". We witnessed our kid's friend sitting out in front of HIMS in the rain because the school would not let her into the building per the rules stated above. This bright girl had enrolled in an online class but her family did not have the financial resources to manage the complicated transportation changes commensurate with this. We stepped in and moved both our kid and this other girl to JAMS to access the appropriate math class and drove them both there for a year at our own personal expense and great inconvenience.

I see these policies, implemented by Anna Box, as punishment for students eager to excel in math. Any kid who wants or needs to break out of the academic mold prescribed by the district will suffer what amounts to exile.

As a result of these experiences, I believe the district administration is populated by truly cruel people who get a certain amount of satisfaction out of tormenting district families and students. I wouldn't say this if I hadn't experienced it first hand.

Anonymous said…
Years ago my student at Hamilton was excluded from math because the school chose not to offer her a math course at an appropriate level. The school offered to let her repeat a math class they thought was suitable for a student in her grade. (Why would a student repeat material she had already mastered?) I informed them that I would homeschool her for math; however, as she had already completed the math they recommended for her grade level, and she should be entitled to a full day of education at the school, I also informed them that she would be attending all day and therefore should be assigned to an appropriate elective rather than "late arrival" or "early dismissal".

It is the school's responsibility to provide as much appropriate education for each student as is reasonably possible with the available resources. One would hope that would include math for every student; however the fact that the school can't arrange to provide math for a student doesn't mean the school is not responsible for providing some kind of educational experience.

If your student is in this situation, and you prefer late arrival or early dismissal, then by all means choose whichever you prefer; but if for example you cannot provide the extra transportation, or your student just wants to be in school, then let the school know that your student will be in the building and you expect a full day of whatever education is available.

Math Homeschooler

Anonymous said…
When we homeschooled at HIMS (LA - not math) we requested a TA position in my child's favorite elective so said child could stay at school all day. It worked out great - child did our homeschooled version of LA (read lots of interesting books and wrote lots of essays) and TA'd a music class. Similar to what Math Homeschooler wrote, it is OK for your child to stay at school all day and do a homeschooled class at another time that is convenient for the family.

It does get much easier in high school where they are actually set up for study periods and part-time Running Start students.

Music Mom
Stuart J said…
a few comments about the Algebra 2 homeschool situation:
1. I don't know that middle school has specific requirements for number of years taken of a subject. So, students may not need a math class that SPS approves or that is approved by the state.

2. However, students may want that class to be approved so it counts for high school graduation.

3. My son took a health class through one of the approved providers. It was a reasonable class for health. But would the approach of the online providers work for a subject that is such a foundation for the future, namely Algebra 2? That is very hard to know. Often these online classes seem set up for credit retrieval, or minimums, not for depth and challenge, and a foundation for STEM.

4. I therefore think it is worth looking into classes from Art of Problem Solving, from Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and possibly other programs. These programs are not on the approved OSPI list. Therefore, the state will not pay for them. In the situation these parents are in, I'm not sure if SPS is offering to pay for these classes or not. Note AOPS has a physical office in Kirkland where they offer classes.

5. A way to get credit AND take classes from CTY / AOPS is to work with an accredited program, like Academy Northwest, that transcripts for home school. Students work with a teacher, demonstrate work, and can get high school credit.

6. A big question to ask about any online program is what is the form of instruction? Is it live teacher, recorded teacher lectures with teacher support available, or just self-study? What works for one student may not work for another.

To close, I would definitely look at the depth of problems in any program. If all they care about is alignment with common core, and the homework looks very simple, then it may not be a good foundation.

I hope there will be updates of what these parents end up doing.

Anonymous said…
That was a really bazaar anti-tech rambling by Burke. I guess he was trying to link in his anti-Amplify vote to the technology spending.

I don't mind some spending, but I get aggravated that most of the board is basically tech illiterate so they don't ask the right questions or question why SPS employees do not have the skills to support a web-site or use a spread sheet. They spend other peoples money like it's other peoples money.

Maybe they all just wanted to go out with a bang and rambled on on ?

New board
Anonymous said…
I agree with all the parents re: math homeschooling. If your middle school can't provide an appropriate math class and you can't do an early release or late start (because you take the bus, have practices after school, etc.), then you can take an extra elective to stay on campus all day. Math then becomes an extracurricular activity and takes up more of your day, but at least you get a math class. If you also find a GOOD math class that is challenging enough, it will also likely take up an even greater portion of your "free time" than expected, because the work should be harder than your typical math class. If a kid really enjoys math and wants to move forward, that is probably a sacrifice they are willing to make. It's unfortunate that the district puts kids and families in this position, but not surprising.

Note: If you're taking Alg 2 in 8th grade, you should be ok in high school (precalc in 9th, calc in 10th, then you can do RS if your school doesn't offer anything higher). If you're taking Alg 2 in 7th or 6th, you may be out of luck for middle and high school both, so prepare for a long road of taking this on yourselves. Your kid will probably get a better math education that way (if you choose wisely), but it can be a pain. I agree with Stuart that CTY is a good option, and EPGY worked well for us as well (although it has changed since then, so not sure anymore). Unfortunately, both CTY and EPGY are expensive, so so much for equity. Maybe they offer scholarships?

That HIMS won't work with families to allow students to do their "home-schooled" math on campus in these few instances is shameful. Let the kids do their freakin math. Why can't they sit in another math class and work on their own thing? These are self-driven kids, and they won't take up a bunch of the teacher's time. If anything, they'll save the teacher time and allow them to focus more on other students--plus, the district will still get the money for keeping these butts in seats.

free money

Anonymous said…
Are there really only five kids at HIMS wanting to take Algebra 2 in 8th grade? My current 10th grader took Algebra 2 at HIMS two years ago and there was at least one full class of kids doing that. All the kids I know that took it did just fine.

Is this another example of SPS dumbing down the curriculum for high achievers?


Anonymous said…
At other schools they put those kids all together in a geometry class and have the teacher sort of help from the side. Many SPS classes are "blended" in this way, with the higher level mostly doing self instruction. Are there no teachers willing to have them in their geometry class?

Master Schedule
Anonymous said…
@Curious One year later at HIMS (& probably other schools) the district had them take a second test at the district. Even for kids who qualified to jump three years ahead like ours they strongly recommended they only go two years ahead. We even know some families who only opted for one year ahead. There were some kids who still could take three years ahead but my understanding is that those families were discouraged from it. It is a big change as I understand it from the past where many kids were placed three years ahead. In high school they can take AP computer science (counts as a math) or AP stats in some schools or do running start.

Anonymous said…
Those in SPS who believe they're pushing for equity are actually making the inequities worse. Examples:

• Pushing a screen-based curriculum that has been proven to lead to *worse* outcomes for kids of color, and reinforcing the growing privilege of people with more money being the only ones who get human interactions

• Attacking specialized classes and basically telling parents to take their kids out of SPS in order to get the classes they need, such as Algebra 2.

There's a school of thought that suggests that meeting any need presented by a child whose parents have privilege is somehow inequitable. It's not. Because when those needs get neglected, you're telling those parents to rely on their privilege. And thus the privilege becomes more important than ever before.

The way to break down inequities is to meet the need of every child in a public school. All of them. And that means kids who are furthest from educational justice will have more money spent on them and that's good, but it doesn't come at the expense of meeting other needs. We reject scarcity thinking. We don't rob Peter to pay Paul. Instead, what's happening is a two tier educational system is being created, where public schooling is a pretty rudimentary and barebones system that barely meets anyone's needs, whereas those who have money can go get the needs met elsewhere.

I can't think of a system more inequitable than that. But that's exactly what is being built right now and it's being built by those who claim to put equity first.

Anonymous said…
Regarding: only 5 kids at HIMS for Algebra 2

I believe these kids might have been impacted by a decision by Cascadia@Lincoln not to offer any recommendations for Algebra 1 placement for 6th graders that year. I remember that caused lots of confusion and each middle school handled it differently. I hope that elementary schools have a different policy in place now, but it sounds like from what @Mom3 is reporting that things may not have changed.

Anonymous said…
This is not a good look for Seattle Public Schools:

A Succesful Native Youth Program Faces Eviction from Seattle Public Schools

Anonymous said…
Justice said:

"The way to break down inequities is to meet the need of every child in a public school. All of them. And that means kids who are furthest from educational justice will have more money spent on them and that's good, but it doesn't come at the expense of meeting other needs. We reject scarcity thinking. We don't rob Peter to pay Paul. Instead, what's happening is a two tier educational system is being created, where public schooling is a pretty rudimentary and barebones system that barely meets anyone's needs, whereas those who have money can go get the needs met elsewhere."

I could not agree with this more. I recall someone else on this blog calling this approach "drop-ceiling equity," and it's very apt.

I keep waiting for someone at SPS, or at any school, to acknowledge that this is the intent, that this is what the district is aiming for. I would respect the leadership much more if they'd simply own up to it so that parents can decide what's best for their kids.

Such Non-sense said…
Yes. As the district has a spending plan of $1B per year, a native population faces eviction.

The Executive Committee passed a resolution. Zachary DeWolf touts the fact that they passed a Community Workforce Agreement task force resolution. Hint: Passing resolutions are easy. Implementing the work, finding a consistent funding stream and implementation is the hard part. Makes for a good campaign slogan, though.

It wasn't that long ago when a task force passed an elementary school science adoption without adequate funding.

The district is a dysfunctional mess.
Anonymous said…
@Justice and @Ruthie:

You both nailed it. Absolutely nailed it. The big corporations, the billionaires, and the ed reformers have figured out how to use equity language to convince progressives to turn against their values (and even their own unions!) and embrace the kind of aggressive ed reform agenda that we were all rejecting just a few years ago. A lot of people who should know better are being played by this fake equitywashing. I guess we all who actually understand what equity is and who truly support it are going to have to soldier on in the face of a lot of bullying and hate. But then again, that's what we've always had to do in order to fight for justice for every child.

Anonymous said…
Our kid took AOPS for two years in middle school (Algebra, then Geometry). Not certified by OSPI at the time, but we knew kid would take math all through high school anyway so we didn't worry about the lack of credit transfer. Now that they have a physical location in Kirkland, I would expect that the AOPS classes would be certified by OSPI. At least their teachers in WA state have to be...don't know if that transfers to non WA state based on-line teachers.

You get what you pay for, and in SPS, that means you have to augment. (Not that we don't pay through the nose in taxes.)

AOPS alum
Anonymous said…
$1,000,000,000 per year to run a 53K student district = something is really wrong

Thats EDM speak

Anonymous said…
WOW thats $19K per student per year. or $245,000 for each student's career in SPS.

Anonymous said…
Hey are you re-naming this blog next week?

Anonymous said…
"...the ed reformers have figured out how to use equity language to convince progressives to turn against their values (and even their own unions!) and embrace the kind of aggressive ed reform agenda that we were all rejecting just a few years ago..."


I agree. I can remember when the social justice warriors in SEA were ranting against corporate interests in education having our students data and now SEA, in the name of equity, has no problem at all giving that data to the big business that owns Amplify. I wonder why that is.

Anonymous said…
@Science Teacher

It sounds like you might be the only teacher willing to speak out against JSW and the activist teachers that have ruined the public schools for many kids. Turning students against their parents is exactly how communist regimes take power.

Rain storms start with one drop...thanks for being a drop of truth.

Overcome ranting
Anonymous said…
"Turning students against their parents"? What are you talking about , @Overcome ranting?


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