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Monday, May 31, 2021

36th Democrats Endorsement Committee Interviews with School Board candidates

 I listened so you don’t have to but really, give each candidate 5 minutes so you can see what you think. Each interview is about 20 minutes. They interviewed all the candidates for District 4 except for one, just one candidate for District 5 and none of the District 7 candidates. Here’s the link to their interviews; just scroll down to find the School Board candidates.

One funny aside, two members of the 36th Dems endorsement committee said “bachelorette” for “baccalaureate.” It lightened the mood.

Board Meeting on Wednesday Night.

 There’s a regular Board meeting this Wednesday, June 2nd. Reviewing the agenda, I see that more and more items - especially BEX/BTA items - are on the Consent agenda. The Consent Agenda is for items usually reviewed in committee and previously introduced at a Board meeting. Putting multiple items on the Consent agenda for action means the Board won’t be discussing any of them further and the vote is a package deal for all the items. 

When the Board has a particularly lengthy agenda, this is okay. But there are watchdogs like Chris Jackins who pours over these items and frequently has useful comments to make but can’t because those items are on the Consent agenda. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Seattle Schools and Planning for Reopening for Fall 2021

 The Board had a “special meeting” yesterday afternoon to vote on a reopening plan. The Board rarely has this types of meetings because when all seven of them are together AND voting outside of a regularly scheduled Board meeting, it’s a big deal. (Director Harris was calling in from a beach and Conzie Pedroza, head of, said she, too, was on vacation.)

Why this reopening plan now? In a word, OSPI. The State Superintendent’s office required all districts to submit a reopening plan - per OSPI template - by June 1st. 

Here’s an overview with the link to the plan from the district’s webpage about this action.

The biggest takeaway that district staff told the Board was that this plan is NOT the entire plan and staff are still working on that. Rob Gannon, Deputy Superintendent, said this is a plan but it is “not comprehensive.” He said there is more engagement to come and this is “just a moment in time.”

The district promised a FAQ on June 7th.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Seattle School Board - A Roundup of Who is Running

The great folks at the 36th Dems invited all candidates for an endorsement interview before their Elections committee so here’s a link. Makes for interesting listening. The 36th will take a vote of their membership tonight and I’ll have an update here tomorrow.

Candidates - if one media outlet does a profile of a single candidate, you have the right to ask for an interview as well, especially if it is local media.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

SPS Continues Its Long History of Rushed Surveys; Is OSPI Getting the Real Story?

 Seattle Schools, like all school districts in Washington State, are required to submit a reopening plan to OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction). 

In the Board agenda for the May 19th, we see SPS’ plan. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Seattle Schools - The State of K-5 Math

As I mentioned in another post, the minutes from the Board’s committee meetings are being written in a manner that makes it difficult to ferret out information. But what IS useful is when staff comes with a presentation so the entire thing gets uploaded and attached as documentation.

I was looking at the documentation for last week’s Student Services, Curriculum & Instruction meeting, agenda here.  

Under “Special Attention Items,” we see K-5 Mathematics. The adopted curriculum is Math in Focus. I’ll cut to the chase but flesh out details below  - Math in Focus is NOT being used in any real way in elementaries. 

Here are the basics on Math in Focus in SPS (except for the cost but we’ll get to that).

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Broadview-Thomson K-8 School Encampment: Hubris and Inaction May Mean Trouble

Update: now I hear (from a trusted source) that a person who lives in the encampment at B-T K-8 came into the building and tried to take a backpack. The school went into lockdown. 

This is nuts.

End of update

Editor’s note: I apologize for the wonkiness of the look of this story. In the time I stepped away from blogging, I think Blogger changed some formatting and I’m struggling to understand it. 

As most of you know, the district reopened schools and three schools had homeless encampments on or nearby their campuses. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Who’s Running for Seattle School Board?

 As of May 17th at 3 pm, it’s pretty sparse.

For Eden Mack’s seat in District 4, only interim director Erin Dury has filed. 

For Zachary DeWolf’s  seat in District 5, no one has filed. DeWolf declined to run again which was probably wise as he would have lost. 

For Betty Patu’s seat in District 7, only interim director Brandon Hersey has filed to run. 

Per this story from the South Seattle Emerald, Michelle Sarju announced her candidacy for the District 5 seat but it appears she has not yet filed with King County Elections. She is endorsed by Zachary DeWolf which normally I would consider a bad thing but as I said the last time she filed (and then withdrew), she’s an intriguing candidate who I believe would be her own person. 

I feel sure that there will be challengers to Hersey and at least one will probably be Emijah Smith who lost to him during the appointment process for that District 7 seat. 

And I hope there are other candidates than Dury for District 4 because 1) I think every race should have two people in it and 2) Dury should have to fight for that seat.

The final day for filing is May 21st. Updates to follow.

Remote Learning - What Have We Learned?

 Update from Massachusetts:

Beginning May 29th, masks will no longer be needed at recess, students can begin sharing school items in the classrooms, and no masks for outdoor activities. 


Via Twitter today:

No remote education option next year in NJ. "All students will be back in school for full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year. Full-time remote learning option for families will be removed."

I’m not sure that is a good idea for the next school year but, as states make their own choices, we’ll all have a front row seat to see how it works out.

One item to note - even before COVID, districts around the country were absolutely trying more online learning and some of it WAS remote. For example, here’s flipped learning:

Flipped Learning is a framework that enables educators to reach every student. The Flipped approach inverts the traditional classroom model by introducing course concepts before class, allowing educators to use class time to guide each student through active, practical, innovative applications of the course principles.

That “before class” means the student works at home - remotely - thru a lesson to start the learning of concepts which the teacher then fleshes out in class. 

I think both teachers and administrators have learned quite a bit from the pandemic time which is a good thing, given we could have more pandemics or disasters where students cannot be in a school building  

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Seattle Council PTSA Meeting with Dr. Jones

 There were about 75 participants at the Seattle Council PTSA’s meeting last week with new superintendent, Dr. Brent Jones. Included in that count were Board members Lisa Rivera-Smith, Liza Rankin and Chandra Hampson.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Guest Post - HCC and SPS

 Editor’s note: I’m happy to publish any essays about SPS or public education in general. This one is from Megan Hazen who has three children in Seattle Schools.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Super Brent Jones at PTSA Meeting Tonight

 Via the Seattle Council PTSA Facebook page;

WELCOME DR BRENT JONES!

Seattle Council PTSA is delighted to invite our school communities to virtually meet our incoming Superintendent Dr Brent Jones.

Please join the conversation this coming Thursday, May 6th from 6:30 to 8PM. Dr Jones will share his vision for Seattle Public Schools and community will have the opportunity to ask questions and offer their comments on the most pressing issues our school communities are currently facing.

Please help us spread the word within your communities. Close captions will be available. If anyone is in need of language interpretation, please email president@scptsa.org by Monday, May 3rd.

Hope to see you there!

Welcoming Superintendent Brent Jones

Time: May 6, 2021 6:30 to 8 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/96689631427?pwd=c0R2czN2L3kveDJMdWp2WXVXa0FJdz09

Meeting ID: 966 8963 1427

Passcode: 058654

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

This and That District News

 From SPS Communications via Twitter today:

1/2) Student transportation is impacted by several factors that SPS is working to address. These challenges make it impossible to provide transportation to all eligible students at this time.


(2/2) If additional bus drivers become available, we will focus on establishing limited transportation based on the highest needs. The Transportation Department is also looking into alternative solutions to provide families as many options as possible.


Also, of interest, SPS is to have an official deputy superintendent. This would be Rob Gannon who worked for several years for King County, left and moved to Montana and somehow Superintendent Brent Jones (who also worked for King County) got him to come back. I have to say that Mr. Gannon looks very qualified. I sense from this appointment that Jones will leave a lot of the operational issues to Gannon and Jones will work on social justice issues and be the public face for SPS.


FYI, the district has changed some questions in the student survey. 

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

The New Way in Seattle Schools

 What the “New Way?” Encompassing the entire district, we see changes aplenty with near zero explanation. I’ll start but do chime in with yours.

- Minutes of committee meetings. Man, these are starting to look like charter school board meeting minutes. Which is to say, sparse and just the facts (and maybe not even all the facts). 

Brent Jones Speaks

 Here is the first public statement from new superintendent, Brent Jones. As statements go, it’s about what you would expect but some editing might have helped. 

One key item - he does not say schools will reopen in their buildings in September. He just vaguely talks about “prepare for fall.” 

Also of interest is the fill-in form to contact him available at the district’s website.

Dear Seattle Public Schools Families: 

Monday, May 03, 2021

Advanced Learning to Change

 The Seattle School Board and the district are poised to change the Advanced Learning program in a major way. Interestingly, the BAR (Board Action Report) on this change has a fairly bland title - Rename and Amend Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning.

I am NOT advocating for anyone to write to the Board because this was a done deal a long time ago. 

The district is going to have a new enactment of Highly Capable Services (kicking out the wording “Advanced Learning”) and having “building-based services” in General Education classrooms rather than separate cohort groupings. There may or may not be other eligible students in the class. There is a carve-out for “upper edge” students. (See below.)

What Did I Miss?

 Why hello there! Long time, no see. 

I first want to acknowledge and bow my head to all that has happened to our country and countries throughout the world  I have continued to monitor several parent Facebook pages and one WA state teacher page (not WEA). It has been a deeply frustrating, frightening, exhausting time for teachers, parents, and students. I cannot imagine being a parent who has to keep explaining, month after month, why your child cannot go back to school, go be in sports, play with friends, etc. Or a teacher who has to flip learning on its head, keeping it going as the teachers ALSO learn. And administrators who had to try to figure out how to serve and keep a school community together. When I think of the kindergarten class that I tutored in for three years, I cannot imagine having small children try to comprehend their schooling on a screen. 

I most of all feel sadness for students. School is their second life, their second home and where  a lot of teaching and learning beyond the classroom happens. I acknowledge that some children faced far more injury than others but I know that ALL kids suffer from this time and that should be noted. 

I urge you to have your child either dictate their thoughts to you or have them write about their COVID experience. This is an important time to document, if only for your family’s future generations.You can tell your children - no one ever gets to pick the history that they live through but other generations will want to hear their stories.