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Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday Open Thread

To all the SPS Civics/History teachers I say - may you teach in interesting times.  Your students have a front seat to view all the truly dramatic history that is currently unfolding in our country.
I do have to smile as Trump tries to deflect to Pence, his own VP.  We may end up with a president with an alliterative name but it might not be President Pence but President Pelosi. For the rest of us, grab your popcorn and hang on because it's going to be a bumpy ride (with apologies to Bette Davis).

I see that public health officials are calling for the public to get their flu shot for the season.  Australia is already experiencing their flu season and apparently, it's quite bad.  I have not yet seen the notice from SPS for flu shots at high schools but I'm sure it's coming soon.  Please consider vaccinating your child.

Two food-related items.

One is KUOW's coverage of the continuing mess around school lunches. Apparently, school lunchrooms staff are not getting the food that is advertised on the menu and are informally "trading" food.
Seattle Public Schools Nutrition Services Director Aaron Smith said the first three weeks of school are not a good representation of his goals for the school food program, which include more dishes made from scratch, fresh ingredients, and culturally appropriate selections.

“The first couple weeks, we didn’t get off to the best start. We had some ups and downs and we’re looking to correct them as soon as possible,” Smith said. “There will be more options coming to the menu, there will be more vegetarian options. There will be better quality product coming.”
Smith also said he doesn't know if problems are still happening because schools are calling. I wonder why the schools stopped calling.

The story ends with it being reported that Smith said better food is coming...in November.  I'm not sure from scratch food with fresh ingredients is on the minds of cafeteria staff at this point; they'd probably just like the food that is listed to feed their students.

Speaking of food, there was this tweet from Florida:
Putting money on my kid’s (public) school lunch account involves paying a $2.50 service charge to “MySchoolBucks.” I guarantee you that this vendor came to the county offering a “free” product. And now families get hit with the bill, every time they top off their kid’s account.
Does PayPAMS work like this in SPS? 

Interesting story out of Connecticut about a new law that would allow school staff to speak to parents about Sped issues without fear of retribution.  From CT Post:
It’s a common scenario: In school districts across the state parents don’t know their child isn’t doing well in his or her special education program, and changes need to be made, until a teacher one day whispers, “You did not hear this from me, but you need to request more services.”
But the next time the parents sit down with teachers and administrators to review the child’s progress, the same teacher sits there mum.

Lawyers and advocates — lay people who use their knowledge of special education law to help parents — have long said silencing and intimidation tactics create the illusion of a unified front of district administrators, specialists and teachers during meetings with parents. But parents’ experiences have motivated SEEK to push for language to be added to special-education law that would protect staff who speak up.
 What's on your mind?

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

WMS staff are voting on Monday whether or not to greenlight their partnership with TAF. I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this.

SE Mom

Anonymous said...

MaryMargret Welch pushing for a move beyond “anglo-centric science”. What is that?

They’re collecting more data on SPS students partnering with UW on research study.

MMW finally admits in her bio that she is Principal Investigator on CarbonTime.

Tax Drain

https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/19-20%20agendas/September%204/A02_20190904_Discovery%20Research%20K-12%20Grant%20from%20the%20National%20Science%20Foundation.pdf

Anonymous said...

Keep dreaming and wishing Melissa. Democrats have been claiming for 3 years that the walls are closing in on Trump and any day now will be his last.

How many "scandals" have fizzled out? This one will too.

For the sake of argument, assuming Trump is impeached and convicted/removed from office, Pelosi would not automatically become VP, which torpedoes your pipe dream of her becoming president.

I refer you to the 25th Amendment. President Pence would nominate a new VP, Pelosi would stay where she is at.

Hopefully the civics/history teachers explain that to their students... We'd hate to add another disappointment following more unrealistic expectations.

Too Much Hysteria

Anonymous said...

Too Much Hysteria,

Pence's nomination for VP would have to be approved by both the house and senate. If Pence is implicated in this treason Trump is implicated in as well as Trump's toadies, he could very well be impeached also. If the President and the VP are both removed, the Speaker of the House, Pelosi, would become President. It is not likely but not impossible.

HP

Anonymous said...

As much as I have disliked Trump, I highly doubt the Senate will go along and I highly doubt given his temperament Trump would resign. If polling is any indication, his base supports him no matter what he does. The majority don't clearly have an understanding about what this means in regards to our democracy and bigger picture. They just see it as politics and Trumps' mantra about "Fake news" has been dangerous propaganda. It's healthy to view news critically, but not healthy to discount it entirely and believe in conspiracy theories like some of his base. The divide between us is more of a threat in my opinion to our democracy and it seems as though it will exist post Trump.

not hopeful.

Anonymous said...


What is going on with The Source for middle school?


We have kid with IEP, The Source was our LIFELINE - completely essential - to determine what her standing was in her courses, if she had turned her work in, how she was doing, how her grades were, what she needed to go back and repair, etc.

Now it is completely opaque. NO GRADES ARE LISTED WHATSOEVER


If you click on the course, you can see possibly what work was handed in and marked BUT you can’t tell how those assignments/tests it together to form a grade. If it’s not marked, you have to guess whether or not the teacher has it, because you can’t use the overall grade as an inference.


Is beyond stupid and frustrating.

How is she supposed to learn and how are we supposed to help her learn to internalize conscientiousness when they taken away the tool to do it? How are we supposed to help her to get her to CONSISTENTLY monitor her progress several times a week to ensure she is tracking when she has no clue how she is doing or how she is mastering her learning targets?

Looks like teachers are excluding all work, and then just before the window of report cards, they are magically going to opt-in the items that go towards her letter grade, but we can’t tell what or which. Their syllabi are silent to this - except her language that says the only thing that counts are quizzes and tests.

At last year‘s IEP meetings, we did not think to specify access to grades on a continuous basis as a necessary accommodation to help her master her specific goals.

Only a few weeks in, yet I’ve had to meet/phone/email the teachers at least 10 times. No doubt that’s frustrating for them, but it’s much more frustrating for us.

If the District thinks that grades interfer with learning, then why give grades at all ? Oh that’s right, grades are crucial feedback and thus absolutely essential. So, deliver their grades in a timely manner which is the only reasonable, professional, precedented, and universal way school district handle secondary education environments and the manner in which students learn about their learning.

If students have anxiety about grades, removing the stimulus does not cure the anxiety. If some kids are hyper competitive about their grades, social feedback will provide them cues necessary to gain social grace and competency.

BRING BACK THE SOURCE! Neutering it has made absolutely no sense, it harms students, and will definitely add to the burden put up on teachers.

Realtime Realworld

Melissa Westbrook said...

SE Mom, I'll have a separate thread on WMS and STEM by TAF. I heard about this vote and that's troubling.

Too Much, you missed my wording. I said Trump was trying to deflect to Pence. Putting it simply, he's trying to throw Pence under the bus. I know the line of secession and that Pelosi is third. But at this rate, that's not impossible.

Not Hopeful, I don't think he'll get kicked out (but wait for it - there's probably more). But being impeached is mars a presidency (ask Bill Clinton).

Yes, what would bring the country together? The opportunity was there at 9/11 and Bush told people to shop and travel. I have no answers myself.

Melissa Westbrook said...

RealTime, I'll try to see what the district says. This may be part of the teachers contract that was quietly put in there.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Was the Amplify adoption key to getting the NSF grant? Was the grant in the works prior to the science adoption?

just curious

Anonymous said...

"Neutering [The Source] has made absolutely no sense, it harms students, and will definitely add to the burden put up on teachers."

Any guesses as to whom this lack of real-time feedback and transparency hurts most?

You've got it: "students furthest from educational justice." Struggling students whose parents/guardians need to be able to see red flags at the earliest sign of trouble; students with IEPs or 504 plans; students who don't have access to computers at home; students with ADHD; ELL students who may struggle with assignments and/or clarity around deadlines; students with anxiety; students who have to miss school sometimes to care for family members; etc.

Who is least likely to be negatively impacted? Those with a parent/guardian who is very involved and has the time and resources to constantly follow up with the teacher(s) in order to support their child(ren).

Assuming this is not just a temporary glitch in the system, whether it's an intentional move to limit access to ongoing data by students/parents/guardians, and/or a move to limit teachers' work load by not requiring them to keep things up to date, the district should share the Racial Equity Analysis that was probably supposed to have been done before any such changes.

Question 3 on Step 1 of the Racial Equity Analysis Tool reads:
"How will leadership identify and engage stakeholders: racial/ethnic groups potentially impacted by this decision, especially communities of color, including students who are English language learners and students who have special needs?"

Question 2 on Step 2:
"Are there negative impacts for specific student demographic groups, including English language learners and students with special needs?"

And so on. Any answers, SPS?

all types

Anonymous said...

@Realtime

Teachers weren't consulted about this change to the Source. It's really troubling and completely anti-student. The only piece in our contract I can think of is that we are required, as part of the evaluation which we agreed to, that we keep accurate and reasonably up to date record. As a teacher I also rely on the Source so that when I do mess up that a sharp eyed student or parent can help me to get it fixed and accurate. This makes no pedagogical sense to me. I'd love to hear the district philosophy because this is a hammer blow to good record keeping. I didn't even know it happened until I saw it here and dug through some poorly worded link ridden emails I received.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine the complete absence of graded feedback. In middle school. This will create MORE anxiety, as students won't know what's what until it's too late to correct.

strange

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just Curious, there are many unanswered questions about various NSF grants and Amplify. You asking that reminds me to write to the NSF (up the food chain) to complain about the secrecy around this issue.

I had no fewer than 5 different people refuse to answer one simple question - Was Seattle Public Schools part of the NSF grant to study Amplify middle school science? Very weird.

Anonymous said...

Changes to the Source are on my mind....

When will parents be told about the change in access to grades?
What exactly does the change involve; what grades will it affect?
What is the rationale for making a change?
Was their any consultation with stakeholders (teachers, parents and students)?

Maybe it will turn out to be no big deal but why do parents need to find out about SPS decisions that affect their students via rumors on a blog?

Sourcerer

Anonymous said...

The Source for both of my Garfield students is gone. It was up this morning.

Out Sourced

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have a query into Communications.

Anonymous said...

By the way, yes, PayPAMS charges a fee of $1.95 to add money to your student's account.

Anonymous said...

Garfield is changing schedules of students, that might be the reason why you can't see anything.
-LM

Anonymous said...

"Attention Students and Families – 2019-20 SCHEDULES CHANGES! Due to District funding, the Master Schedule and student schedules are changing the week of 30SEP-03OCT. Please check back, starting Monday 30SEP, for possible student schedule changes. Schedule changes will be made for: Balancing over-enrolled classes Graduation requirements Incomplete schedule Running Start conflict."

-LM

Question said...

Did the board accept the $1.5M NSF grant? If so, what was the vote count?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Anonymous. Next time give yourself a name/moniker.

LM, what school is this from?

Anonymous said...

When their schedules change, what happens to the grades? One of my kids was just informed that the entire class will have a new teacher next week. What happens to the work that's already been done? Next week we're half done with 1st quarter...

Science Teacher said...

As far as I know the Source works. I enter grades and can see them. Some students have talked to me about grades, so I assume they are also seeing them. I know there was a problem for a couple of days, but then there are always tech issues with SPS.

Anonymous said...

I logged into the Source just a bit ago. (Friday, 9/27 at about 5 pm) The grades for my middle schooler and two high schoolers were there. However, we are not at Hamilton or Garfield.

I'm hoping in the case of missing Garfield information it is because of large scale schedule changes and nothing more?

It would be highly stress inducing for my high schoolers if they were not able to track their grades and assignments on a daily basis. They would ask their teachers for updates, which I suspect would be stressful to the teachers as well.

Real time updates (as when a teacher inputs updates they show up) should not be removed.

-StepJ

Stop said...

Traci Castro Gills lack of compassion and complete lack of professionalism reflects poorly on her as well as the district.

Anonymous said...

From the announcement on the GHS app:

"Why is my schedule changing?

Last spring, District did not provide enough funding and Garfield had to displace more than 11 teachers. Two weeks ago, District restored 1.4 teachers and assigned 2.0 teachers. This allowed Garfield to hire teachers and add or restore 26 classes. Garfield is now changing student schedules to alleviate some of the overcrowding in the 185 over-enrolled classes."

Ruthie


Oy said...

Why is Castro Schill obsessed with the blog?

Anonymous said...

Sorry the quote is from Garfield. -LM

As Ruthie points out, the Sources is unavailable to those whose schedule is not final.
Other FAQs (also from the GHS App):

*Do I get to choose how/if my schedule changes?
No. Counselors are making schedule changes based on graduation requirements, schedule holes, and over-enrolled classes.
*When will these schedule changes occur and how will I know?
Check the Source every day. The counseling team is working to have all schedule changes completed between Monday 30SEP and Thursday 03OCT.
*I am still in an over-enrolled class, and my schedule didn't change.
District provided enough budget to add 26 new classes. Distict did not provide enough budget or teachers to alleviate all of the over-enrolled classes.

If you are at GHS, the App is the only way to learn about this.

Needless to say, it is an embarrassment that this has to happen because the district screwed up the estimates. Tons of work for counselors, disruptive for students... Yes, it is good that teachers were restored, added but it's sad that even then it is not enough.

-LM

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Just wanted to say sorry about the TCG stuff. She does regularly post updates about you on her FB page (which simply prompts me to check out your blog, I do think she brings a lot of traffic here). It’s unnecessary and it’s petty. I’m not sure what the running definition of racism is any more or why she has personally taken you to task for systemic racism at SPS, who you’ve been railing against for years . I just know our country has a long way to go and there is much work to be done.

Peace

Melissa Westbrook said...

Peace, I appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

This from an Interesting article on learning https://www.educationnext.org/best-way-to-help-children-remember-things-not-memorable-experiences-excerpt/ speaks to the disaster that I see in Amplify any many other education trends:

“Discovering is seen as more creative, requiring more imagination, more interesting and therefore much more likely to result in children really understanding the math conceptually, rather than just regurgitating a procedure. However, while rich tasks have their place, they are completely inappropriate for the initial stage of learning, when children are encountering a concept for the first time. If we want children to become independent problem-solvers, we need to teach them carefully and explicitly so that semantic memory can begin to form. Counter intuitive as it may seem, children do not become independent problem solvers by independently solving problems. This is because when children are trying to solve problems before they know the necessary math to do so, they will be expending considerable mental energy tracking what they are meant to be solving against what they have found out so far, so much so that even when they are successful, they will have forgotten what they actually did en route to finally finding the answer!”.

NW Parent

Anonymous said...

*Do I get to choose how/if my schedule changes?
No. Counselors are making schedule changes based on graduation requirements, schedule holes, and over-enrolled classes."

And why just 3 positions and didn't the district reinstate ALL the 11 positions that were cut so kids can have the appropriate pathway to college and college majors? The bar is getting them to meet graduation requirements, not college entry requirements? At high schools across the district most are also in at least some 35-40 student classes. Teachers are so overloaded they are unable to develop relationships with students or even know who their students are. Where has this money been transferred? I heard Juneau state on NPR radio she had money to do projects this year. Is this why?

Also, not for nothing but if this level of impact is not o.k at a Tier 4 school, it is not O.k at Garfield either. In addition to it hurting FRL kids at the school who are "furthest from educational justice", It hurts all students. There needs to be a baseline we provide to all schools. You can't just implement a system that allows cuts to infinity to transfer money for your pet projects. I don't have a kid at Garfield, but there is no excuse for what they are putting this and other high schools though. Is this also a signal of what to expect in future years as well? Seattle Public Schools : Be grateful if we enable you to graduate. Be grateful we offer you a severely overcrowded class where your teacher will never get to know you.



KL

Taxpayer said...

Dear Seattle School Administrators,

What does it take for school employees to work during school hours? We have two district employees (Kate Eads and Castro- Gill) posting on social media during work hours. They spent a portion of their working hours posting on SPS Community Forum. Castro Gill decided to use her time to post on a Capitol Hill publication during work hours.

Get off social media and do your job.

Former Souper said...

Eads will shoot down any discussion. She will accuse individuals of tokenizing, cherry picking data or blaming teachers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sourcerer, I have asked the district about the schedule changes at Garfield but so far, no answer.

Former, I could tell you a good story about Eads but that will have to wait for now.