Sunday, December 01, 2019

Last Resources

A couple of readers asked about resources on public education.  I honestly cannot recommend any local education blogs.  I wish there were one to recommend but there isn't.

Nationally, I would recommend:

- Diane Ravitch
- Leonie Haimson
- Peter Greene,
- Edutopia - part of director George Lucas' foundation - good articles and they steer refreshingly clear of edu-reform issues - geared more to teachers
-Mercedes Schneider's Blog: Mostly Education, with a Smattering of Politics and Pinch of Personal - one of sharpest minds writing about education today.
- Julian Vasquez Heilig -  Dean and a Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky College of Education. His blog, Cloaking Inequity, is focused on education and social justice
- Education Week, good reporting here
- Network for Public Education
- The Answer Sheet (at the Washington Post) by Valerie Strauss

If several of you want this blog to continue - as a resource and sounding board for parents - think about how you could divide the work up.  Anyone considering it, let me know and I'll give you some pointers.  Something to consider.

Some last thoughts
  •  I do think Superintendent Juneau cares about SPS students but yes, she is a political person.  I mean she tweets during Board meetings.  There's a Communications department and there are consultants on-board and yet she has to tweet for herself.
  • And yes, I can almost guarantee she will leave if a Dem wins the White House and Juneau gets offered a high spot at the Department of Education.  
  • I also would watch for the relationship between Juneau and Mayor Jenny Durkan. There are some similarities to how they seem to work.  My biggest worry is that  - somehow - the district will NOT get the best deal in any deal involving Memorial Stadium. That is nine acres of some of the most valuable land in Seattle and it's the district's (as long as they use it for "education" purposes).  But it cannot, in any real way, be replaced.  The district needs that stadium as a stadium and to lose control of that would be terrible.
  • As for the Board, well, it will be interesting.  Obviously, Zachary DeWolf is in a prime position to become Board president.  Given he isn't much for community meetings, I have my doubts but it would be a feather in his cap.  
  • Clearly, DeWolf will align with Hampson and Rankin and likely Hersey. But Hersey will get his sea legs and may well not like being directed by DeWolf or Hampson.  (I'm pretty sure Hampson will hold sway over both Rankin and DeWolf - if she'll do the heavy lifting, DeWolf will be happy to let her.)  I see Lisa Rivera Smith as fairly independently minded.  And that leaves Director Eden Mack as the resident wonk.  Not sure what this Board will mean for Director Harris.
  • Of course, if DeWolf sees some advantage to leaving the Board, things could get really messy. He's done it once; I can't see why he wouldn't try again.
  • And look for that "anti-racist" policy to be introduced soon.  That discussion could raise the temperature in the district and my advice to the district is make sure you explain what phrases that you consistently use mean in the context of an anti-racist district.
  • Technology - the district had the Board authorize a huge expenditure to put laptops in classrooms.  I note that Apple has jumped into the fray by dissing Chromebooks. Said Schiller: "Chromebooks have gotten to the classroom, because, frankly, they're cheap testing tools for required testing. If all you want to do is test kids, well, maybe a cheap notebook will do that. But they're not going to succeed." 
  • HCC - It will play out as it will but the district may be making a mistake that will have ripple effects.  Unintended consequences and all that.  Just two points from my vast store of years of district paperwork.  One is from the 2011 State of the District when the Alliance for Education sponsored it.  
If SPS could do one thing better or differently:
- aggressively articulate the District's plan to ensure that zip code does not in face determine quality of instruction/resources/leadership and student progress and achievement.  (I'd say the Strategic Plan does that.)
- increase access to Spectrum and ensure consistency across the district. Spectrum (conceptually) is important to effectively prepare our students for college and life but Spectrum does not exist in every school, and even where it does exist, quality and rigor vary greatly.  Well, ALOs were also supposed to exist in every school and when they did, they varied greatly.

So do I think the grand experiment of returning all HCC kids to their attendance area schools will play out better? I do not.

Then there was a document dated May 2012, A Conversation with Charlotte A. Akin, M.Ed "about Best Practices in Gifted Education." This paper was solely about delivery of service and not about finding scholars.

"In a nutshell; Pace, Peers and Level of Difficulty with Depth and Complexity."  So there you are; go forth and deliver, SPS. 

This was during the time of Bob Vaughn who truly tried to change Advanced Learning but, like others, he had little power and his hands were tied.

What Akin says at the end is worth repeating: What you have here in Seattle is extraordinary.  Board Support, Administrative Support, Continuum of services both vertically and horizontally, Talent Development Model and a process that includes a Task Force. 

Oh those halcyon days gone by.
  • I also look forward to seeing Special Education possibly getting better traction.  It will be interesting to watch and see what happens on that front.  
  • Charter schools.  I am amused that for all that fighting and churn...they just aren't that popular.  No big outcry for more of them; I thought for sure there would be at least 20 in the state by now. I give credit to probably a tougher law than other states (and that's a good thing) and a careful Washington State Charter Commission.  But if SPS continues to pivot to the next big plan, there may be an opening for more of them to come on-board.

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