Showing posts from July, 2022

"Classical Learning" - the Old/New Theme for Public Education Reform

You might have heard this term in the news, "classical education." It actually has a definition and a structure associated with it but, like many things, the GOP is twisting it to push education reform into a narrow mold that would look very familiar to most adults today. That's not a good thing. I believe most adults would say that reading/writing and math are the key elements for most education - they are the foundation for learning. (I would stick Science in there as well but sadly, that doesn't happen a lot in elementary school.) Naturally, there is the need for other subjects as students get older plus a big dose of arts throughout a student's academic career.  One key item to note: public education in the U.S. really varies from state to state, district to district and especially more so because charter schools can (and do) go off in different directions from a traditional public school. Our country is multi-cultural and diverse and, since we are finally as

Dropping Enrollment in Seattle Public Schools

The Seattle Times has yet another story about the southward enrollment numbers at Seattle Public Schools.  It's a useful article more for what SPS says AND what is in the Comments section than the actual article.  What do we learn from this article? Seattle lost 3,238 students from the 2019-20 to 2021-22 school year. And in the fall SPS projects it will lose 812 more, dropping its total enrollment to 48,748 students.  School districts receive funds from the state for every student enrolled. Dramatic enrollment losses create money worries for district officials, and in Seattle, officials aren’t counting on students returning.  Okay, maybe SPS isn't "counting" on them coming back but, as many comments said, "Why doesn't SPS do exit interviews?" The interview would not have to be long, maybe three questions that might illuminate the issue. But, as other commenters say, SPS doesn't do exit interviews because they want to control the narrative. Having d

Public Education Under Attack

“You don’t have to be an expert to educate a child because basically anybody can do it.” Conservatives are now saying the quiet parts out loud.  I have something to say and loudly - Public education IS the backbone of this nation. Destroy that and you will destroy this country and its greatness. And demeaning and demoralizing and demonizing the very people who provide the teaching and learning to American students is a hateful way to start the process.  Here's what I've been seeing and reading about nationally in public education and the view from the Right. From Nashville Channel 5: Hidden-camera video obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates reveals a recent closed-door reception with Tennessee's governor and a key education ally who repeatedly mocks the intelligence of public school teachers and questions whether they really care about what is best for their students.     That ally, Dr. Larry Arnn, president of Michigan's ultra-conservative Hillsdale College, also take

Planning Meeting for Publication of Guide to Special Education in SPS

 Via Seattle Schools Special Education PTSA: In September, the Seattle Special Education PTSA will publish our Guide to Special Education in SPS in the top 10 languages spoken by SPS families. Come preview the Guide and help us plan how to make sure that every family of a student with a disability is able to access a copy. All are welcome! TONIGHT from 7-8:30 pm. Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 811 8956 3304 Passcode: 4123 One tap mobile +12532158782,,81189563304# US (Tacoma) +13017158592,,81189563304# US (Washington DC)

Seattle Public Schools - Things May Be A Changin'

As I have mentioned in years past, the John Stanford Center for Education Excellence (aka district headquarters, JSCEE) is generally very quiet. I note that the building is closed on Fridays every week until August 19th. As well, the Admissions Office closed on July 8th and doesn't reopen until August 1.  However, the Board seems very busy which is unusual for summertime. But, in fact, it appears the majority of the Board is on a mission to cede power to the Superintendent. Here's what I'm seeing and why it is troubling. As I reported, Vice President Chandra Hampson started a series of meetings about the district's movement towards Student Outcomes Focused Governance (SOFG) which is a way of narrowing the focus and work of the Board with an eye to try to eliminate anything that does not directly address students. Director Hampson started these meetings in late March 2022 and, as I pointed out, conveniently schedules them in the middle of the day on a weekday. You can i

SPS and Teachers Union Are Bargaining

Just a quick FYI about where both parties stand on negotiations. From Seattle Schools : District and SEA teams are collaborating over the summer to come to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The bargaining process began on June 6, and we will negotiate a renewal of the SPS educators’ contract for the 2022-23 school year. District Priorities  Ensuring schools and workspaces remain safe;  Working together for racial equity across the district to ensure students of color furthest from educational justice have the support and resources they need to succeed;  Increasing inclusive education for students with cognitive and physical challenges, as well as students learning English for the first time;  Basing staff placement on student needs;  Maintaining staff levels throughout the year and minimizing disruptions around school and holiday breaks; Providing high-quality educational standards, competitive pay, and improved professional development opportunities.  Attracting and retai

Biden Administration Pledges Resources to Help Students after COVID Impacts to Districts

From Education Week : The Biden administration is positioning its new initiative to bring 250,000 tutors and mentors to American schools over the next three years as a way to help propel students to academic recovery in the wake of pandemic schooling disruptions. It’s the president’s latest effort to combat the learning gaps highlighted and widened by COVID-19’s impact on the nation’s schools. The administration plans to increase coordination among districts and education organizations as they use existing COVID-19 relief funds to supply tutors and support recovery efforts. The U.S. Department of Education will work with AmeriCorps and a group of education organizations to supply “tutors, mentors, student success coaches, integrated student support coordinators, and postsecondary education transition coaches” into schools, according to a fact sheet about the new initiative. Link to AmeriCorps to sign up to help.  I took a look at the above-mentioned factsheet and it had additional inf

The GOP's New Goal - Public Education

If you have been able to keep up with public education news, you'd see a trend of the GOP urging members to take over school boards. This effort might yield many outcomes like controlling curriculum, controlling types of books in the library, the tone of a district, etc. In other words, a hard pull to the right and protecting of white students from "woke" beliefs. If the Germans can teach about the Holocaust in schools without their kids fainting dead away, I think we can teach the entirety of our history. If there are those who want to teach about American "exceptionalism," they can but please explain how we got there and on whose backs. There is a great article in The New Republic that speaks about the bigger effort by the GOP - to taint the concept of the "common good." This is a core principle of civilized society: We all contribute to certain activities that have clear universal social benefit. The question of political philosophy is this: What

Act in Leisure, Repent for a Long Time - VOTE!

A very important read in The NY Times (try a private window if you do hit a firewall).  I'll put in the basics. But here's what's important: Croydon’s experience resonated well beyond its borders, receiving substantial regional news coverage. It became a cautionary tale for these times — or, perhaps, a reflection of them.   “As citizens we have many rights, but we also have obligations,” said Wayne Lesperance, a political science professor at New England College, in Henniker, N.H. “And when we don’t fulfill our obligations, we often end up with results we don’t like.” Here's the story: To understand what happened — and is happening — in Croydon, you should remember the New Hampshire motto: “Live Free or Die.” This is, after all, the only state that does not require adults to wear seatbelts.   You also should know that New Hampshire’s individual-rights vibe, along with its small population (1.38 million) and large legislature (400 representatives and 24 senators), has d

Ted Howard to Return to SPS

 Tonight's Board meeting agenda has an item called "Personnel Report" and it's a listing of who is coming, going and/or rehired at SPS, from top administrative posts to all in-school postings.  To my surprise, I see Ted Howard, former long-time principal at Garfield High School, coming in as Deputy Superintendent. This listing was effective July 1. There is no notice that the current deputy superintendent, Rob Gannon, is leaving. But it appeared to me that when Superintendent Brent Jones was named, he lured Gannon out of retirement; both had worked for King County. Perhaps it was a one-year deal all along. Howard comes with considerable baggage and kudos from his years at Garfield. Beyond several high-profile personnel issues at Garfield, Howard also brought in the "Honors for All" program at Garfield and has not been a promoter of HCC. Hmmm.

Two Items of Interest in SPS

Update This item is up for intro/action at tonight's school board meeting. Key info from the BAR (Board Action Report) showed two contracts at $39.5M EACH and I just about had a heart attack.  But reading further in the BAR we see: While for maximum flexibility each contract authorizes the district to assign up to 100% of the required routes to a single provider, the goal of the district during the 2022-23 school year is to allocate routes approximately evenly between the two contracts authorized in this action. As each vendor will be providing approximately 50% of the required services, the expected actual expenditures under each contract will be significantly less than the fully authorized amount. If the service is evenly split between the two contracts, the fiscal impact to this action will be approximately $45,200,000. This amount is higher than the value of the individual contracts because receiving service from multiple vendors leads to the district being billed at the higher