Thursday, August 26, 2021

And the Beat Goes On at the Broadview-Thomson Encampment

 The district had a meeting tonight at Broadview-Thomson K-8. I don't see it on the district's calendar but there were people there. 

Reporter Erica C. Barnett was live-tweeting and here is some of what she saw/heard. I'll add some comments in-between. 

Sad News at Aki Kurose Middle School

 Via The Seattle Times:

A 17-year-old boy suffered life-threatening injuries and a 14-year-old was in police custody after the two exchanged gunfire Thursday evening outside Aki Kurose Middle School in South Seattle, according to police. 

Seattle police spokeswoman Valerie Carson said the younger boy was sitting on the steps in front of the school about 6:30 p.m. when he was approached by the older boy. It appears they both had firearms, she said. 

The 17-year-old was struck multiple times and was lying in the street when officers arrived, she said.

So questions:

- How were there TWO underaged kids with guns? 

- School isn't even open so I wonder why they ended up at the school?

No comment from the district yet (at least on Twitter). 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Oh, the Things You'll Learn (Part Three)

The last Student Services, Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting was held on August 18th. 

Reviewing the minutes of the last SSC&I meeting on June 8th, a couple of items of interest:

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Oh the Things You Will Learn (Part 2)

 Next up, Executive Committee meeting held August 18th. 

Public testimony at school board meetings may be changing. In the minutes from their previous meeting, it was discussed using an online form rather than either email or phone-in. The minutes don't say whether it was noted that not all members of the public or parents/guardians have email capabilities. 

It includes the  proposed Board goals for 2021. Here's one. (Editor note: the table I had put in is not showing properly and I don't know how to fix that.)

"Reinsert humanness in our interactions with one another, staff, labor, community." Didn't know they had not been doing this. 

Superintendent Search
It appears that the work will start any time now with a selection in April/May 2022 and a new superintendent coming in July 1, 2022. Timetable:
  • They will be hiring a consultant for community engagement/RFP for headhunters by the end of August, 2021. 
  • By October, 1 they will publish the RFP. 
  • November, hire a search firm. 
  • December-April engage community and search
I'll just remind folks that there appears to be nothing in Superintendent Jones' contract that would prevent the Board from keeping him and/or hiring him thru the search process. 

New Website
There is a powerpoint in this committee's documentation about the new website. It claims that prior to the launch, it took 5-7 seconds to load a webpage and after the launch, 1.5-2 seconds. 

They say, "Post-Launch quality assurance and clean-up of the websites (on-going)." I hope so because there were too many broken pages.

Then there is a powerpoint for ITAC (Information Technology Advisory Committee) and selection of new members. I have a few thoughts as I was a member of the inaugural ITAC group. 

1) Executive Director and Executive Committee will jointly review committee applicants using an objective scoring rubric.

Wait, what? Before this, the membership was the domain of the head of Technology. Why would the Board get heavily involved in deciding the membership of this committee?

2) When I was on the committee - a co-chair actually - we were given an agenda, limited time to discuss any one issue and mostly led to votes that were not full fleshed out. Then, the head of Technology could go to the Board and say that this is how the ITAC group voted. It was appalling.

School Board Student Members
Yet another time waste for the Board AND, one of their own making. To explain,

In March of 2021, the Seattle School Board adopted Policy No. 1250, which creates School Board Student Member positions. Three Student Members will be selected in the 2021-22 school year for the inaugural cohort. The policy also provides that an accompanying Board Procedure will be developed to implement the selection, role, and support of Student Members.

The N-YC is the student group that initially brought Policy No. 1250 forward to Directors DeWolf and Hersey, inspired by the Angela Davis quote that “walls turned sideways are bridges.” N-YC members led the development of and the effort to get Policy No. 1250 passed.

Student school board members will not attend executive sessions or closed sessions, make or second motions or hold Board offices. 

Know what is missing? Student board members have no vote. That should be clearly stated and it's not. 

The Board will induct these students in late November. If these student voices are so important, why wait until the end of November?

While I think inclusion of student voices is good, I think this measure goes too far. Why?

  • Board policy has always given some student voice. Every Board meeting a student from one of the high schools gets to sit on the dais with the Board and give input. The first speaker spot on the testimony list is for a student from a high school. As well, if other student speakers want to speak, they will be given priority. 
  • The Board is collaborating with one youth group - the NAACP Youth Council - and that's troubling. 
  • What's also troubling is the amount of time the Board has spent on this. There is so much to cover and yet they created a new policy for student board members. 
  • These student board members will also be assigned to Board committees and expected to go to those meetings. One, it's difficult to get to JSCEE and I'm not sure how many students could get there. Maybe they will phone in? Second, these are detailed and tedious meetings; why would any student sit thru this and have an understanding of all the various issues discussed? 
  • The chair of the committee for any given student board member assigned to that committee has to serve as a mentor. 
  • Board Directors are expected to consider the opinions of school board student members before making decisions on district matters. I'm sure they will each and every time the Board votes, it will consult the student board members. 
  • For members of the Board who complain about how long meetings are, this will very much make all meetings longer. 

Oh, the Things You'll Learn

Update. Found out what the "Garfield Superblock" in the BTA V levy is. 

Robert Stephens, Jr. has been one of the voices pushing the public agencies who each control a section of the Garfield High School campus, Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department, to fulfil a promise made back when the school was undergoing a major renovation that opened in 2008 that cost the district over $100 million. 

As part of the public process to approve building a new Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center, Seattle Public Schools had to be approved to get a variance in order to build fewer than the required number of off-street parking stalls. As part of that process, the district was required to provide a public benefit as a mitigation. 

That project was the Super Block improvement project. “The community was just forgotten about,” Stephens tells CHS. 

A center of these improvements is the Legacy and Promise Promenade. This pathway would fulfill the long-envisioned goal of connecting Horace Mann School, now home to Nova High School, just on the other side of Cherry Street, with the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center in the center of the campus. 

Current estimates of the full cost for the Super Block project are $6 to $7 million; the coalition says they are expecting the school district to contribute around one million to the project. T

end of update

...when you ask for the documentation for Board committee meetings. 

As an informational aside, the Board has four committees - Operations, Curriculum, Instruction and Student Services, Audit&Finance and Executive. The first three are self-explanatory. The Executive Committee is led by the leadership on the Board (in this case, Chandra Hampson, president, Brandon Hersey, vice-president, and Member-at-Large, Lisa Rivera Smith). That committee goes over upcoming Board meeting agendas as well as state legislative agenda, resolutions,  etc. All four committees meet monthly.  The public is allowed to both Work Sessions and Board committee meetings but there is no public speaking time. 

Also to note, when the district has Work Sessions, you will be able to view the agenda AND the documentation online. You cannot for the Board committees and so you must request it. (This on the theory that "things could change" but I think it's to keep the public at bay.)

First up - Audit&Finance

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Seattle Schools' Advanced Learning - What Next?

 I follow a Seattle parent page on Facebook and several parents were asking about what Advanced Learning will look like in the coming years. The short answer? 

  1. Students currently identified as Advanced Learners will be transitioned to Highly Capable (Building Based Services) with differentiated services provided in the neighborhood school.

    Sweeping change is necessary to uproot systems born from institutional racism and move the district forward toward genuine and authentic, culturally responsive services that prioritize the needs of every student.

    There are four Phases for this work, the first starting in school year 2020-2021and continuing through in school year 2027-2028. The cohort model will continue until 2027-2028. 

    This is ONLY for K-5 services. It is unclear what happens in middle school where there is a scaled-down cohort model only for a couple of classes. High schools have no "HC" program per se - high schools have Advanced Placement classes or International Baccalaureate classes but those are available to all students anyway. 

Latest on Seattle Schools and Collective Bargaining

I've been reading a lot of chatter lately at a couple of sites about the negotiations between the district and the SEA (Seattle Education Association, the union that represents teachers). Here's what the district says (partial and bold mine):

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Talking Seattle Schools Superintendents and Board Members

A reader sent me this interesting list of all the SPS superintendents and board directors from the late 1880s on. 

It contains their years of service, when they served and racial background. One board director served for 32 years! And current director, Lisa Rivera Smith, is the district's first Latina member of the board. 

Of course, it wouldn't be SPS without a couple of errors. 

1) No notation that Jose Banda was the first Latino superintendent.

2) The terms of both Brandon Hersey and Zachary DeWolf expire this year, not in 2023. 

3) They don't note that Director DeWolf is the first openly LGBTQ male member and that Cheryl Chow was the first openly LGBTQ female member. (You could quibble if Chow was open about it but she didn't make it a secret. She just didn't talk about it as DeWolf does.)

Monday, August 09, 2021

Two Workshops Keep Board and Staff at Seattle Schools Busy

The Seattle School Board had a busy week last week. Several of them attended a Zoom conference, 2021 Harvard and Council of Great City Schools ABC Leadership Institute, lead by the Council of Great City Schools. The CGCS:

Seattle Schools and Its Website - Why Can't They Get It Right?

Today was the unveiling of the new look for Seattle Schools' website. I really had hoped - as I do each and every time they tinker with it - that it will be better. You know, more accessible, easy to find pages, etc. 

It's not. 

I always say that after a website is redesigned, go get someone who has NEVER used it and give them ten areas to find. I can tell that didn't happen this time.

I can say the home page looks more attractive. 


Sunday, August 08, 2021

About Comments

 I have received several comments that I have not printed because:

- The comment was just an insult to me.

- I am having a problem with getting a duplicate of every comment (plus spam ones) and sometimes it's hard to keep up. If you think your comment was within the bounds of this blog, please ping me again.

- A comment was cryptic. Reader Cassandra sent a comment that I will partially reprint:

Since no one is allowed to argue with the district's diversity agenda, this is what we get. Torturers allowed to speak from positions of authority and paid from the district coffers. People afraid to speak up because they will be accused of racism.

Censor away, enabler.

I HAVE challenged the district's "diversity agenda" and reported on issues of race within senior leadership. 

But Cassandra also made a claim about a diversity training that is to happen at SPS and who is leading it. Looking at the district website, I can't verify that is happening. So Cassandra, if you can send me a link, I'll be happy to print your concerns. 

To note - I don't have an "ideological agenda to which people must acquiesce" but I do on civility. I know some might call that "weaponized civility" but I find that argument less than compelling. 

Friday, August 06, 2021

American History - What Will We Tell the Kids?

This is the last in the series on Critical Race Theory but there are now other elements to consider like teaching about equity and ethnic studies.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

And Then There Were Two

 Looking at the election results from yesterday’s primary, we see that in District 4  Vivian Song Maritz and Laura Marie Rivera beat current interim director Erin Dury handily. Maritz received 56.41%, Rivera received 23.18% and Dury received 11.10%  And Dury barely beat perennial candidate, Herb Camet, Jr. - he had 8.62% of the votes.

There were 82,883 registered voters for that region and just over 18% voted.

In the District 5 race, candidate Michelle Sarju hammered her opponents. She received 81.60% of the vote with her General Election opponent, Dan Harder, receiving 13.85% of the vote. The third candidate, Crystal Liston got 3.85% of the vote.

There are 74,051 registered voters for that region and about 17.51% of them voted. 

Interestingly, the race for mayor shows the same anemic numbers for voter turnout. Out of 493,453 registered voters, only 89,414 of those voted, which works out to just over 18%.

What do people think of the top vote getters in the mayor’s race, Lorena Gonz├ílez Bruce Harrell? And the next two largest vote getters - Colleen Echohawk and Jessyn Farrell - who do you think they will endorse?