Sunday, May 24, 2015

What Do You Think?

I saw this video from Creative Evolution; it's called The Truth About School (in a two-minute video). 

I think that it is simplistic and probably less-than-accurate about all public education because I don't agree all schools are doing this.  But I do think that our country is still stuck on many issues around public education.

That's the funny thing - if you don't like the current ed reform ideas, you're "for the status quo."  Nope.  But there are other things that need to happen but the problem is that basically there's a lot of busy "look at what we got done" in public education, rather than "look at the outcomes for these students."  You can "do" a lot and it may not help kids (especially when some people seem more interesting in their resume than actual outcomes). 

But I think this two-minute video does start a conversation.

Based on your experience with public education so far, tell us this:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Smarter EveryDay - Can You Ride This Bike?

Really good piece of video about how changing one thing on a bike changes everything and what is takes to get your brain to figure it out.  (Also, kids can change their brains faster than adults.)

How Much Time is the SBAC Taking at Your School?

I ask because I'm seeing various comments on this issue.  So let us know what you have heard and seen at your school (across any grade). 

For example, one reader said that Garfield had a couple of late starts this week 11 am. That's pretty late for the school day to begin.  Maybe leadership there thought it better for students to NOT come and have to hang around doing almost nothing rather than coming later.

I also heard from a reader at Ingraham who said her daughter took the test (as a junior) and didn't find it all that hard but that she was very annoyed with sitting around for 45 minutes. 

It all adds up to lost instructional time of which there are several factors:

- the actual time to take an untimed test
- the actual time for set-up to take the test (which apparently can be anywhere from 15 minutes to almost an hour).
- time that is test prep (how you take the test)
- time that is test prep (for what is on the test)

Not to mention down time for computer issues.

Recently, Superintendent Nyland blithely said that it will take time for SBAC to run well. 

You can't say that there are issues to iron out but then continue to give a test that counts for some students, isn't necessary for others and may, in the end, count for teachers.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Arts and Seattle Public Schools

I just came across an article in the Capitol Hill Times (thank you former Board member, Kay Smith-Blum) about arts in Seattle Schools.

You may recall that the district had received a Wallace Foundation grant to develop a district-wide vision for arts in Seattle Schools.  It was for $1M of planning which was great but the district didn't receive the follow-up grant from the Foundation for the implementation

But I know this didn't stop Carri Campbell, the director of School and Community Partnerships at SPS and so, with the City's Office of Arts and Culture and the Seattle Foundation, the District started the Creative Advantage partnership.  They are also partnering with groups like the Seattle Art Museum, Arts Corps, Arts Impact, EMP and others. 

Friday Open Thread

Computer science and young women - a great article from the NY Times that includes mention of a great computer science and engineering department at UW. 

Behind the scenes of many of these colleges’ efforts is an organization called the National Center for Women & Information Technology. It provides consultants to college faculties on how to change their programs to recruit and retain women. On Thursday, the center is giving the University of Washington its first award, sponsored by Google, for colleges that have succeeded in this effort. The center hopes to give the award annually.

Thirty percent of University of Washington bachelor’s degrees in computer science last year went to women. Ed Lazowska, chairman in computer science and engineering at the university, called that share “not great.” Still, it is twice the national average and up from 20 percent in 2010 and 15 percent in 2005.

I had to smile at this article from WHEC in Rochester, New York over what school boards get paid what.   Apparently New York state is doing what I wish we would do here - pay their three largest school boards a salary.  The salaries range from $20-30K (which I believe is paid by the cities). One Bufallo board member said this:

"I think if someone is going to be a public servant, if they're going to do a good service to the community, they shouldn't be looking for compensation. I think that's a joke."

Wait, what?  Then why do we pay city council, legislators, etc.?  If we want to cast a wider net for people able to run for school board, we should pay them a salary.  (You'll note, I didn't say a better group of people because who knows? but a larger group of people might consider it.)

Interesting data from the local Public Health Insider about where kids live in King County and health outcomes.

Very fun video that the kids will enjoy (shhh, it's science) - a guy skips rocks across a frozen lake and the sound is amazing.

What's on your mind?

Electronics, the Web and Kids

News of an "eavesdropping Barbie."  News from Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood:

At February's Toy Fair 2015 in New York City, Mattel unveiled "Hello Barbie," the Wi-Fi-connected doll that uses an embedded microphone to record children's voices—and other nearby conversations.

Georgetown University Law Professor Angela Campbell, Faculty Advisor to the school's Center on Privacy and Technology, said, "If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child's intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed. In Mattel's demo, Barbie asks many questions that would elicit a great deal of information about a child, her interests, and her family. This information could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market unfairly to children."

Will you take a moment to ask Mattel CEO Christopher Sinclair to stop the marketing and production of "Hello Barbie"?

Also from the CCFC:

In April, CCFC and other leading advocates filed a Federal Trade Complaint against Google for engaging in unfair and deceptive marketing practices on its new YouTube Kids app. Our complaint – which made headlines around the world – detailed the ways in which Google failed to adequately separate advertising from content on the app, thereby exploiting children’s developmental vulnerabilities and violating long-standing safeguards to protect kids. 

We’ve documented some of findings in this video compilation.

Please add your name to the growing call to make sure Google keeps its word and provides a truly safe media environment for kids.

I'm sure you have seen this one but if you haven't, it's one mom on the warpath after her 13-year old daughter put up a Facebook page saying she's 19, a "freak" and posting a photo with just her bra on top.   The mom got very worried when she saw multiple posts from men to her daughter.  This was the fourth time her daughter had done this and this is why the mom made this videotape.  She ends with telling her daughter, "Tell them you're going to be in your room all summer reading books."  People are divided on this on after four times and after taking away her phone and other electronics, it is hard to know what else she could do. 

No Child Left Behind: Here's Want Needs to Change

From the Network for Public Education (NPE):

No Child Left Behind should have been reauthorized in 2007, yet here we are 5 months into 2015 and Congress has failed to act. The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 is the latest reauthorization effort. While the bill passed the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee unanimously, it has not yet been brought to the Senate Floor for a full discussion and vote.

The proposed legislation does away with some of the most destructive aspects of NCLB, such as AYP, and as NPE President Diane Ravitch commented, it "defangs the U.S. Department of Education" by taking away the Secretary of Education's ability to coerce states into adopting specific standards, tests, or accountability schemes.

One major flaw with the legislation however is that the Every Child Achieves Act maintains the federal mandate for annual testing

Act now to let your Senator know you want to see the end of annual testing

Thursday, May 21, 2015

High-Stakes Testing and Graduation Requirements in Washington State

David Spring has written a lengthy explanation of what may or may not be coming with state testing.   It's called Comparing Three Graduation Requirement Options for Washington State.

It is a lot of heavy reading (and it would require you to go read all these bills which I have not done yet) but I think it worthy.  

In this article, we will compare three sets of high school graduation requirements currently being considered by the Washington state legislature. These three options are the current law which was enacted in 2013, House Bill 2214 and Senate Bill 6122. All of these three options are complex. We will therefore provide a comparison table at the end of this article to better help citizens understand the provisions and consequences of each option.

Understanding the current Washington state law is important because if no bill is passed in the state legislature in 2015 to replace it, then the current Washington state law will continue to be in effect.

Robert Reich on What Needs to Happen in Public Education is looking for the 10 best ideas to save the economy.  One comes from former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, who says Reinvent Education.

Charter Schools Updates

 Update: the Times has more reporting on the situation with First Place Scholars.  According to their article, two Commissioners wanted to revoke their charter. It was pointed out that FPS will probably owe money back to the state because they did not enroll as many students as they said they would.   FPS has another deadline of June 17th - less than a month - to meet the Commission's requests.  It appears most of the Commissioners agree that if these requests are not met by June 17th, they won't "kick the can" down the road again.  Head of FPS, Dawn Mason, continues to claim it's not FPS' fault because they opened too quickly. 

end of updates

From the PI, news about charter schools in Washington State:
First Place Scholars is still under scrutiny.
According to written reports to the commission, the school has made some progress in its work with students who do not speak English at home and in setting academic plans for children with special needs. But the commission is asking for more information, including detailed reports on testing, parent meetings and on students who have transferred out of the school.

Commission leadership expressed concerns that First Place was not following state guidelines for English-language learners and for supplying other kinds of student data, including testing.

Executive Director Joshua Halsey called the school's responses to its requests sufficient, but said he wanted more information so he could feel confident about the school's continued operations during the 2015-16 school year.
Only two groups followed thru in submitting applications this spring to open charter schools.  Six other schools had submitted letters of intent but were not ready to submit charter applications.
Summit Public Schools wants to open a middle and high school in West Seattle. If the application is approved by the Charter School Commission, it would be the charter management group's second location in Seattle and its third in western Washington.
Willow Public School has applied to open a new charter middle school in Walla Walla. The organization said the school will be focused on project-based learning.
The other charter authorizer in the state, the Spokane school district, did not receive any applications this spring.
There is one open charter and eight more approved (with seven opening this fall) but Washington State is unlikely to have the 40 charters in five years that are allowed for by the law and predicted to open by charter supporters. 

One public education blogger (G.F. Brandenburg who's a retired math teacher) writing about the "huge" waitlists that charter have.