Friday Open Thread

As you may be aware, Sound Transit officers were on transit on the first day of school and rather than doing the right thing, decided they had to be tough and asked to see tickets. Many students didn't get their Orca card in time to get them.  The students were verbally warning but not ticketed.
The right thing to do - on the first day of school - is welcome the kids to public transit.  Explain that it's important to use/swipe your Orca card each time it is used.  And tell them, "Good luck."  Tough guy tactics not needed.

Sound Transit tried to double down on this event. They said there were not even warning tickets  issued but if not, why did they photograph student IDs?

Great classes/programs in the SPS Skill Center and there's still time to sign up for high schoolers.

Tweet from Superintendent Juneau on the first day of school; interesting:

First day of school,@SeaPubSchools scholars! Do your hair toss and check your nails. How you feelin’?? I bet that@lizzo wants you to have a great school year too! #welcomebacktoschool #SPSConnects
Tweet today from Superintendent Juneau on construction issues at Rising Star Elementary at AAA:
Spent the am at Rising Star at African American Academy. Principal Lam and her staff have created flexible and effective learning conditions despite some roof construction woes. The learning never stops for these Rising Stars. I sat in a mobile art class - awesome.
What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
I hear from my daughter that the girls’ swim team has been denied access to school locker rooms to shower and change after practice, creating a situation where 80-100 girls are standing in lines for at the pool for 4 showers and late when they’re last to arrive at school and can’t find parking. According to the Athletic Director, there is no staff available to unlock or monitor their locker room. Funny, the boys locker room at RHS doesn’t seem to have the same staffing issue. This, after last year’s problems when girls teams weren’t given transportation or asked to walk while boys teams buses showed up for their events. I understand public school resources are scarce, and transportation is often a mess, but it is clear that girls sports are at the bottom of the priority list where Roosevelt is concerned. SPS should have watched some Women’s Soccer this summer and paid attention. Young women thrive when they are able to play sports, just like boys. It creates an environment where they are encouraged, mentored and involved in their schools. It’s time to create an equal playing field.

Anonymous said…
Is my child the only SPS middle schooler without a personal phone? After the first two days of school, they complained to me about being asked questions (at least 5 times) about their phone and their favorite phone activities as part of teacher-planned getting-to-know you activities in 6th grade classes. During one ice-breaker, they felt compelled to tell the whole class they couldn't answer because they didn't have a phone, and described all the other students gasping in response. Why aren't their teachers more sensitive to the possibility that not every 11 year old has their own phone? My child didn't seem too upset about it, but for a child who is more self-conscious about being singled out as different from peers on the first day of a new school, or who doesn't have a phone due to poverty this could be humiliating. We made an intentional decision to delay giving our child a personal phone until it was necessary. They borrow our phones when needed, and have our phone numbers memorized in case they need to call us. It's worked fine so far and didn't come up in elementary classes. Now I'm concerned that their SPS middle school teachers may expect them to have a smart phone available to use in class. Coincidentally, this morning on KUOW I heard a summary of a story on their Hidden Brain show reporting new research about how distracting just having a phone nearby can be (even if it is turned off):

Limiting Distractions
GoGirls, if this continues, let the district's Athlete Director know about these Title IX issues.

Limiting, you're a brave parent. Do let us know if it is an issue in the class because your student doesn't have a phone.

I heard from one parent that JAMS is implementing an "away for the day" phone policy. One reason given was that the school's server was very slow from all the kids with phones streaming content during the day.
Anonymous said…
Does anyone know of what provider students usually take when taking the required health class online, and how long the courses run? We can't fit it into the at high school schedule. Also, does SPS have any summer options for this course?

A Parent
Anonymous said…
On the issue of privacy, I am uncomfortable with the new visitor system at GHS. It is a program where you scan your license and then takes your picture and gives you a printed pass. Any other schools with this new system in place?

Anonymous said…
@ A Parent,

Our SPS HS uses Red Comet for the online Health option. Red Comet is an approved vendor by OSPI. I am not sure if there is a time limit.

Our kids needed to visit their school counselor to get needed permission paperwork and a code. The cost as of this summer was $175. I believe the schools will aid or pay the tuition if there is a financial need. Just check with your child's counselor.

We too needed to go the online route for health as our kids have two year-long electives (music and foreign language) that does not allow for taking P.E. or Health during the school day with a 24 credit graduation requirement.


SAT Testing said…
The SAT at Franklin was cancelled this morning for the SECOND time (first was 8/24) by the College Board. If your kid was affected please contact the school counselors to ask them to advocate to get another test for these kids ASAP.

Families are traveling across the state to take the SAT. This is not ok.
Anonymous said…
@step J Thank you for the information. That is our situation as well. Would you know the time commitment and if it is reasonable to do for one semester of the school year if kid is also in AP classes etc.? Or do most kids complete it over summer?

A Parent
HS soon said…
Why was the SAT cancelled at Franklin??
Anonymous said…
@ A Parent,

According to school counselors the majority of students complete the online health during the summer. I personally think it would be a lot to ask of a student to complete it during the school year, especially if they are taking a lot of AP courses, and/or participating in a school sport.

Per the Red Comet website,, once registered the course must be completed within 120 days. If the course is not completed a grade will not be given. You would need to register and pay for the course again.

The courses are self-paced with suggested completion dates for each section. You can complete the course easily within the 120 days if you complete sections by the suggested date.

A drawback my kids have encountered is they don't like the online learning and find it boring. They have to push themselves to get through the material.

According to a tweet from an SPS principal:

"#SAT cancelled with no notice in SE Seattle by @CollegeBoard, an unaccountable monopoly, affecting scores of first gen college sutdents, many of whom took time off work to day, again, for this opportunity. Really?"
Jet City mom said…
SAT is highly language based.

My daughter has dyslexia, and since Seattle public schools did not call it that, preferring to use the vague term “ specific learning disability”, the College Board would not grant accommodations.

However, I believe ACT did, she may have had pencil and paper instead of a screen.
She did very well on ACT.

Colleges accept ACT as readily as they do SAT.

Anonymous said…
Sept 7 wasn’t on the list of official test dates. Was it supposed to be make-up of the 8/24 session? Why was that one canceled?

Anonymous said…
College Board has been skimping on available seats for the SAT and the SAT subject tests for the last few years. Yup. Even if you register months in advance, there still are unlikely to be a seats in Seattle available for the SAT. My kid wound up driving and spending the night in the Portland area to get a seat for the SAT subject tests (offered at the same sites and times as the SAT). I was shocked to see a half dozen of her classmates doing the same thing. It’s a total racket.

Policy 1400 said…
During the August 28th board meeting (minute 22:00) Harris calls attention to Board Policy 1400 which deals with public testimony. She calls attention to individuals that continually testify. The board will be discussing this issue. Some comments revolve around allowing students without campaign messaging testify first, allowing slots for Race and Equity and the Strategic Plan.

Chris Jackins testifies on a regular basis. He has historical and important knowledge about the district.

Another Name said…
One person testifies on a regular basis. He reads his exact same speech- every time.
Another Name, I think I know who you are talking about and I recall Director Pinkham saying at a committee meeting that he really didn't understand what the guy was aiming for.

On the other hand,Chris Jackins combs thru the agenda and pulls out all kinds of issues and oddities.
Jet City mom said…
Chris Jackins is a treasure.
I would venture these thoughts:

- Not only did they move the WA principal to another principal position instead of the demotion to an assistant principal outlined in a letter from Juneau to the principal; they rescinded the demotion. Meaning, she will be a full principal with a full principal salary.

And SPS is advertising for this:
"SPS is currently accepting applications for the 2019-20 School Leader Assistant Principal Pool."

Frankly, putting that principal at Licton Springs K-8 feels like they just needed a warm body there. Except that it comes at a time when that school needs leadership.

That is some kind of BS.

- I know the EDs probably mightily dislike me because I am so hard on them but what - do - they - do? My thought is just provide PD to principals because there is zero evidence of them doing anything else. I can't even find a job description for them at the SPS website.

- I was having a conversation with someone running for school board and told them: there can be a fine line between oversight and micromanaging. But all directors have to do, especially around a BAR before them on the Board agenda, is say to themselves: does this adhere to Board policy and Superintendent procedure? Did I receive information I need to make an informed vote? Is this being introduced for intro/approval without being a true emergency?

Answer yes to any of those and say, "I'm voting no for this reason." That's solid oversight.
SusanH said…
The Franklin SAT cancellation was outrageous. It was originally supposed to take place on 8/24, and that was cancelled about a week before, and rescheduled for this Saturday. This one was cancelled via a note on the door, the morning of. The fact that they didn't send an email was inexcusable. These kids had to get up well before the usual school time, on the first Saturday of their first week of school, and nervously arrive at that school, to find a note, and a confused proctor who had no idea what was going on. We are so held hostage by the college board. My child only had to take an early morning bus back to Rainier Beach, but the thought that people might have travelled from far away for this test? And there's still no acknowledgement from the College Board? It's so maddening.
SusanH said…
And Grad: agreed, it's a total racket. To take a couple of SAT subject tests, we had to drive to Gig Harbor at 6 in the morning. Jumping through hoops, to what avail?
Jet City mom said…
I was at my sisters house in Bellevue yesterday, and she was talking about how many schools were being rebuilt at the same time.
( these schools weren’t that old, not compared to schools like Broadview Thompson or Whitman, where virtually nothing has been done besides pain for decades)

I was flabbergasted. How can Bellevue manage to do this, but Seattle seems to have so much trouble with even maintenance?
Anonymous said…
I am baffled at the experience Limiting Distractions' kid had, with the teacher asking the kids about their phone activities. I know if my kid ever had experienced anything like that, I'd have been in the principal's office Johnny on the Spot to deliver the message that my kid's phone activities, or lack of a phone altogether, were none of the school's damn business.

Only if some kid's phone activities become a distraction or an impediment to the school's educational mission should that ever come into play. I'd be very curious to hear if, or why, anybody thinks this is a proper question to ask a class. My 2¢ worth.

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
Limiting Distractions, fellow unicorn, I still don't allow my current 9th grader to bring cell phone to school since receiving one in 6th grade. The harm far, far outweighs any utility.

My child took public transit daily to/from school, too, without a cell phone.

Everything Equity said…
A south end school was under construction. Completion of the project was delayed because the district found additional construction issues. This is not uncommon with construction projects. The fact that the students and staff are inconvenienced is unfortunate.

However, Liza Rankin decided to claim the failure to complete this project on time is an equity issue. The issue has now spread on social media creating animosity. Some north end schools are falling apart. Coe elementary is 70% white and about to start construction that will last through the entire year.

If elected, Rankin will continue politics of creating animosity, dividing and increasing tensions.
On facilities:

- Bellevue is a lot smaller than SPS. Probably unlike Bellevue (which again has a consistently wealthier tax base and fewer schools), SPS made two fateful decisions, decades apart.

1) In the late '70s, they slowly started cutting back on maintenance. While SPS probably has many more old buildings to contend with (and by that I mean 60+ years), pulling back on basic maintenance was not a good call.

What I find really unfortunate is this hand-wringing about buildings from superintendents/board members past and present and yet...nothing really changes.

2) Then, after a facilities levy failure in the early '90s, the district started BEX/BTA. They haven't had one fail since and truly have made a sizable dent in the age of SPS buildings. This has been done on an even basis throughout the district. In fact, for an early period of time, more south-end schools were renovated than north-end ones.

However, they still did not put as much into basic maintenance. So we still have older buildings that get periodic patches, middle school buildings that are inadequate for present-day learning AND buildings that cost double and triple digit millions of dollars and THEY are not being given enough basic maintenance.

As a taxpayer, I find that very upsetting.

- to Van Asselt. I can say that, over the years, the district has frequently found building construction issues. To find it so late in the summer as to make for the school opening to be less-than-pleasant is sad. Hard to say if they could have found it sooner.

But I do not think it has anything to do with its location in the city. The district prides itself on getting this work done and I'm sure they are embarrassed about it.

One thing that did amuse me at the Youth Forum for school board candidates. It was nearly uniformly said, down the line of candidates, that "the district should pay for XYZ." Sounds good on the campaign trail but either they are naive or just saying stuff to sound like Action Jackson, but the reality of getting the district to pay for anything is very different. Beware of those kinds of statements.

- on phones. I know that JAMS has instituted "day away" on kids' phones (not sure if they get them at lunch).

The district can't allow teachers to base any learning on a cell phone. It's just simply an equity issue that cannot be filled. The district is buying enough laptops for all high school students and be 2:1 in middle school. That's got to be enough. Because not all kids have cell phones and not all kids with cell phones have plans that would allow data that app use requires.

Jet City mom said…
Not just an equity issue, but if they utilize cell phones for students, especially younger students, they are making a parenting choice that should be left up to the guardians.

Anonymous said…
"...I was flabbergasted. How can Bellevue manage to do this, but Seattle seems to have so much trouble with even maintenance?.." I too am flabbergasted. Eckstein was built in the early 1950's and has never been renovated. Every summer the district does a "little work" just so they can put that sign up so the neighborhood thinks they are doing something.

This morning I came into my science classroom where water had FLEW up out of the sinks from Saturdays storm. There was dirt, debris, and who knows what else on the wall by the back sink about 7 feet up and the wax on the floor was white where water had puddled and dried. The other two sinks were similar. This has gone on for years. I just put on the rubber gloves and clean it up.
Which school (please tell me it's an old school).
Alsept Teresa said…
It was Eckstein which is over 60 years old and never remodeled. Last year a sewer line broke under the building and a water line on the second floor also broke . The storm water problem and electrical problems have gone on for years but Eckstein keeps being taken off the remodel list.
CascadiaMom said…
My 7th grader at Hamilton does not have a cell phone. It gets harder and harder. she has had many similar experiences.

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