Showing posts from September, 2022

Stripping Down Seattle Schools' High Schools

 First I heard about overcrowded classrooms . We are coming up on that early October headcount so we can hope adjustments can be made. (Although if you have 35 students in a class, paring it down to 30 doesn't seem all that great.) Second, I'm hearing about fewer foreign language choices . Third, I'm hearing about fewer AP class choices . Now I'm hearing SPS is NOT offering PSAT testing for 10th graders! It's such a good way to help students know what to expect (and where they are now) before they take the actual SAT as juniors.  Naturally, students whose parents can pay will send them somewhere for the test but what about "students furthest from educational justice?" I did ask SPS Communications about making the PSAT unavailable for 10th graders but got no answer. It might be money but I guess we'll never know. (You could ask a director but I can guarantee they'd tell you some canned answer from administration.)

Innovation in High Schools

 This event is tonight; sorry, I just saw it.  The film is available on YouTube . From t he Seattle Times: Can public schools better serve students if there are more options and fewer constraints in the classroom?  Former Seattle public high school teacher Kaci Salnick has been exploring this question as a doctoral student at Northeastern University. She’s conducted dozens of interviews with educators across Washington state for her research and has homed in on Highline Public Schools, which points to some intriguing answers.  On Sept. 28, Salnick will share “ One Thousand Steps ,” a 40-minute documentary on her findings so far, followed by a panel discussion with Highline educators and administrators moderated by The Seattle Times Education Lab. The free community screening at 7 p.m. at Central Cinema in Seattle will be followed by a feedback-sharing session to help inform Salnick’s work.  All ages welcome. The pandemic highlighted a well-known fact among educators that a h

Seattle Youth Voices Sought

  King County is creating a "Youth Bill of Rights" and wants to hear from your child. From Seattle Special Education PTSA:

Seattle School Board Directors Boundaries to Change - Part 2

 Reviewing Part 1: - By law, the director regions must be reviewed after each Census. The directors had a lot of lead time to get to this work but, for whatever reason, are giving the public just a month to give input. - There are currently seven director regions and that will not change. - To note, in the primary, candidates are running ONLY in their districts. From the primary, the two top vote getters will then run citywide.  The impression I have always had is that all directors represent the entire district. But they are "experts" on the schools in their region to help guide other directors who may not know that region or its schools well. In the last several years, directors have been moving away from community meetings and the notion that they will, at least, inquire about issues in their school in their regions. The Board is moving further and further away from the people who elect them.  I looked at all three scenarios. Visually, it appears that both the southern d

Listen Up! Board Director Boundaries Are to Change (and Soon)!

I was aware that, by law, the boundaries for DIRECTOR regions (not schools), had to be examine after the Census occurred. Indeed, at the last Board meeting, Director Chandra Hampson, in talking about the upcoming Executive Committee meeting, mention that this would be the first time there would be scenario maps available. This will be a two-part post as I want to put all the maps up on my computer, side by side, as well as the current boundaries map to get a good visual. The one thing I can see upfront is that if you live in the Central district, boy, you'll be on easy street with the fewer number of schools in your district. Meanwhile, in the SW and SE, you'll have twice the distance and twice the schools to cover.  I tried - for nearly the entire week - to get this documentation but, unlike previous times, the Board office was not responsive. I see Director Vivian Song Maritz just put up this information yesterday. My impression is that the Board is CLEARLY not interested in

This and That

  This notice of a groundbreaking event at Rainier Beach High School came across my radar late. This notice is not at the district's website nor RBHS's webpage. It is also not on the Board calendar. I have to assume a private group put this together but hopefully the students will be allowed out of class for it. I note that work began on RBHS in June 2022 according to the district's webpage. I was on Twitter this morning and some teachers were discussing if and how the pledge of allegiance is used at their school. It suddenly came to me that the Board no longer opens their Board meetings with it. I recall several years back when a class of students had come to do a pre-meeting show and they had been seated with the audience afterwards. When it came time for the pledge, I never saw so many panic-stricken faces because some clearly didn't know it - I guess SPS schools allow the principal to make the call.  The Board president now notes that the JSCEE is sitting on land

Middle School Special Education Teacher Charged with Rape

The teacher, Darren Hunter of Madison Middle School, was charged in early Feb. 2022 with third-degree rape for an event that occurred in August 2021. The incident did not happen on district property nor during school hours. I had been tracking this story since a reader alerted me to it and, luckily for me, the West Seattle Blog has actual journalists who tracked down the entire story quickly. Beyond the obvious issue of the actual crime is the fact that SPS didn't know about it until this week (and I suspect that was me asking questions). According to SPS Communications: The individual who has been charged is currently on administrative leave, which means they still are an employee. A determination of future status will be made once the case is concluded. However, just to note, that means that Hunter was in the classroom from Feb until just this week.  The district has an agreement with local law enforcement to work together on cases involving child sexual abuse or assault. In all

"Quiet Leaving" From Seattle Public Schools

That quoted term - "quiet leaving" is a version of the new term "quiet quitting" wherein a person only does the work within the workhours that they have agreed to. Honestly, education would fall apart if those who worked in schools all did quiet quit. I don't know a teacher who doesn't work beyond the school day. Danny Westneat, columnist for the Seattle Times, recently wrote a column on his version which is "quiet leaving" meaning, SPS parents who left the district with no explanation. Now that the numbers of gone students is ever-larger in SPS, it might make sense to find out why and maybe even stop the bleeding. His column received about 800 comments. From the column: Last week when I wondered why families have been pulling their kids out of Seattle Public Schools at such high rates, I got an earful. Except from the group that’s leaving the most. I didn’t hear much from them. “I’m not surprised, I think with them it’s a very quiet leaving of

Around the Horn at Seattle Schools

 Update: As previously reported, head of Budget, JoLynn Berge, is leaving the district. Today a reader let me know she's moving to ESD113 (Educational Service District) as a Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations.  Also, the SEA approved its new contract with SPS, this via the Seattle Times . Six days after ending a strike against Seattle Public Schools, Seattle teachers voted to approve a three-year contract that includes salary raises, more support staff in classrooms and more manageable caseloads.  There are three contracts in all, and each group voted on its own agreement. For the contact covering certificated staff or classroom teachers, 71% voted in favor. The contract covering paraprofessionals passed with 66% in favor. And educational office professionals voted 82% in favor of their contract. In all, 4,143 of SEA’s 6,000 members voted on their respective contracts. The Seattle School Board still needs to vote on the contract for it to be finalized. end of

Another Black Eye for SEA as well as SPS

 Man, is this story from KUOW sad/bad timing, given both SPS and SEA are in the news because of the strike by teachers. (all bold mine) Seattle teacher was fired for abusing kids. State says he can keep his teaching license A former teacher found in a state investigation to have serially physically abused children at a North Seattle elementary school was allowed to keep his teaching license with a reprimand. Martin McGowan, who taught for nearly three decades at West Woodland Elementary School in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, enjoyed a reputation as a star teacher. But  a KUOW investigation in 2020 found that he had been formally and informally reprimanded at least five times between 2005 and 2019 for pulling first-graders by the ear, grabbing them by the neck hard enough to leave red marks, slapping them on the hand, and mocking them in front of the class. Seattle Public Schools fired McGowan in December 2020 in the wake of new abuse findings . In one case, a current student compl

The "Observer Identification"

  Check this out : If you decline to answer the district's "Ethnicity and Race Report" question, you get this: "By law, you are not required to identify race and/or ethnicity on school forms. However, if Seattle Public Schools does not receive a response, by law, district staff must use 'observer identification' to select the race and ethnicity of the student." Here's a fascinating explanation and guidelines .  "The Federal Guidance recognizes the burden placed on school and district personnel in observer identification, and that the practice may not yield data as accurate as those from self-identification. However, absent self-identification or existing records, observer identification is considered preferable to having no data at all. There is no federal requirement to “flag” a student’s record in the information management system if his or her race and ethnicity categories are selected by an observer. However, while this is an additional expe

Work Session: Seattle Education Association Tentative Agreement Summary

Update 2: The reporting is much more meaty than I thought it would be. I will need to ask for the document as it's difficult to keep up with the district speakers.  Superintendent Jones asked directors for "no opinion or judgement" as they are still ironing the agreement out. The overall cost will be $228M over three years; there will be a shortfall by Year Three '22-23 - they have the dollars in the General Fund '23-24 - will tap into ESSER funds  '24-25 - without any ESSER funds, projected shortfall of $139M Questions/Answers Rankin: procedural question on going forward.  Jones: Intro and Action at next Board meeting or special meeting to do that.  Compensation  1. Rankin - How many people this covers certificated and classifieds? Can wait for this info 2. Song Maritz - How does this put us with other districts in relative compensation?  Pritchett - comparable space to other nearby districts 3. Rivera Smith - break down the years.  Rob Gannon - This answer g

SPS First Day of School - How's It Going?

 I know at this moment it has barely started but I would love to hear from parents, teachers, staff about the first day (whenever it starts/ends for you).  I don't think anyone can expect perfection; there are still many moving parts but I'd bet principals, teachers and staff will have a warm welcome for all the students who have been eagerly and patiently waiting. I'm also going to be interested to hear exactly what the Superintendent and the board will be saying at tonight's school board meeting. Could be telling.  I had expected the speakers list to be full because of the strike but, as of now, there are only 14 speakers. You can sign-up and call in remotely.  Members of the public who wish to address the board in person or by teleconference may sign up  online  or by calling (206) 252-0040, beginning Monday, September 12, 2022 at 8:00 a.m. The public testimony list will be posted Tuesday, September 13, 2022. Those who are placed on the posted public testimony list m

The Strike is Over but the Aftermath?

The Seattle Education Association membership voted - 78% voting, with 57% ayes - to suspend the strike against Seattle Public Schools. This is good news. SPS said that school will start tomorrow, Wednesday the 14th, which is welcome news to students and parents.  However, two things happened that do not bode well, at least for teachers. One, from reading the SEA Facebook page, it was a contentious meeting. And, apparently one member thought it a good idea to allow a Seattle Times reporter to listen in. I'll go old school here and say, "Not cool."  From The Seattle Time s: The vote came after a nearly eight-hour Zoom call with numerous tense exchanges between union leadership and general membership. The union’s bargaining team shared the highlights of the proposed contract, and allowed members to ask questions and state their support or opposition. At one point, more than 4,500 of the union’s 6,000 members were on the call, with many reporting they faced technical issues. 

What Teachers Saying about the Agreement - Uh Oh

 A reader - Unhappy - posted this comment in another post: The teacher's contract will impact every child within Seattle Public Schools. Yet, the contract is considered confidential. Only teachers and the district have seen contract.   SEA signed off on the Special Education Taskforce proposal. Now, they will force teachers to accept agreement by not having complete agreement available, only requiring 51 percent of teachers to vote etc. He/She/They may have hit on something because over at the SEA Facebook page, there is a lot of this: Vote NO to suspend the strike without seeing the full contract language! This is not what members have said loudly and clearly that they need. We need 48 hours, at least, to review the language before deciding to end the strike. Apparently, teachers are being asked to vote yes to end the strike BEFORE they have read the entire agreement, not just a summary. Hmmm. Teacher 1 So that’s the thing 95% of the SEA general membership voted to only suspend t

Both SEA and Seattle Public Schools Reporting a Tentative Agreement

Update: That signature is Jennifer Matters, the president of SEA. The membership needs to vote to end the strike and then vote to accept the agreement. I think my hopes for school to open tomorrow were too optimistic. Thursday? end of update Via Twitter: SPS - S PS and SEA bargaining teams have come to a tentative agreement. We will share an update on the start of school tomorrow afternoon. We look forward to welcoming students and staff for the 2022-23 school year.  SEA - We stuck together, made our strength and unity known, and it worked. We are excited to have a Tentative Agreement (TA) with Seattle Public Schools. Our solidarity on the picket lines and the enormous community support we received made all the difference. From the wording, I would hope that they could reopen schools at least by Thursday, but maybe even Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Day Four of the Seattle Schools Teacher Strike

Update: schools WILL be closed tomorrow, Tuesday the 13th.  End of update I'm guessing nothing happened last night between SPS and SEA. I've visited both Twitter and Facebook and I see nothing new to report.  One item to remember - even if they found agreement today, it is unlikely they can reopen the next day. SEA membership has to vote and you would hope that could be done in a day. SPS says it's ready to reopen. I do wonder if SPS is trying to get SEA to split the baby - meaning, more Special Education supports vs more mental health supports. I sure hope not. I suspect that at the Board meeting on Wednesday the new student "board" members might have something to say about what they have heard from school friends about student mental health.  SEA's webpage has this to say: The school board is letting our students down Our strength continues to move the district and we are at the point in negotiations where we are so, so close… we need to keep up the pressur

Feds Seek Input on Special Education and Equity Issues

Via the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs : As noted in this year’s determination letters , and consistent with the Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, ED is examining how the 2023 determinations process can promote equity.

Seattle School Board Hopes to Speed Up Board Meetings

Update: one thing I noticed on the Capital items on the Board agenda was that for each new project - Rogers Elementary, Alki Elementary and Montlake Elementary - each initially had been some kind of modernization of part or most of the building. But now, both Alki and Rogers are to be partially demolished and Rogers is to be entirely demolished. That makes them much larger and more expensive projects. Alki will keep its gym which will be modernized but the rest will go. Montlake will get a new playground and gym but has landmark status so its main building will be modernized. I bring this up because why wouldn't this have all been apparent in the first go-round of decisions?  I think via the Facilities report they knew quite well the condition of each building so why this update? Hmmm end of update I was doing my normal check of the weekly meetings of the Seattle School Board and noted that they have a Board meeting this week. Given the teacher strike, naturally I would assume a la

Updates on the Seattle Schools Teacher Strike

Update 6:25 pm Gotta say, for a district that says it is transitioning to "Student Outcome Focused Governance," it sure seems weird they can't settle a strike over supports for students. Just sayin' Update 5:16 pm NO school tomorrow, September 12th. I just want to note that SEA on Twitter asked that a different screenshot be used and I went back and changed it. The Seattle Times has not. Update 5:04 pm. I had received some screenshots from a document that I was told came from the district's negotiations with SEA but I could not be sure. The Seattle Times now has them embedded in today's story on the strike. You can see that that several items like social workers and counselors are crossed out in several places, both in elementary and secondary schools.  I have to wonder if the district thinks they will get SEA to cave on this if the teachers get a big raise and the district gives some help with ratios in Special Education and ELL programs.  A 1:250 ratio of s

Weirdness in Seattle Public Schools Abounds and Astounds

Update on this story: As mentioned previously, the Reddit post got taken down but still a living thing via several saves. I went back and looked at it and it has over 300 comments. Gotta say, most view it as Board PR and saw it what the word salad that it is.  I don't think Hampson did herself any favors with it. end of update Well, I certainly got a lot of people's attention which is a good thing.  Updates: - The Seattle Student Union put out this press release in support of SEA. - The Reddit post has been deleted but as others have said, screenshots are forever (and I have them). - A story in the South Seattle Emerald pits Special Education PTSA president, Janis White, and SEA president, Jennifer Matters, against Director Rankin and former PTSA president, Sebrena Burr.  Janis White, the SEPTSA president, specified why she felt the need to pressure the district with a rally at this particular moment. White wants to see parents on the Special Education Task Force “[s]o that