Saturday, September 13, 2014

Seattle Schools Updates

Tweet from the district about priorities for 2014-2015:

During a retreat today, the School Board picked its top governance priorities for the 2014-15 school year: bell times analysis, multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), special education and stewardship of resources/internal controls.

First, shouldn't these "priorities" have been set at the end of the school year (so that everyone comes to the first day of school with those in mind)?

Second, someone would have to define the last priority, "stewardship of resources/internal controls."  If it means getting on the good foot for operations and watching over the dollars (like not spending them on pre-K junkets), great news.  

In other news:

On district-given assessments:

Pre School discussion event

Join the conversation
Should Seattle invest in prekindergarten education? Join Seattle Channel, Seattle CityClub and Town Hall Seattle for a live, televised community forum about the future of early childhood learning and hear from the supporters of two competing ballot measures—a city-backed plan to make high-quality preschool accessible and affordable and a union proposal seeking better pay and training for child-care workers.
Wednesday, September 24
6 p.m. doors|6:30 p.m. audience prep | 7 p.m. live show
Watch live on Seattle Channel 21 or

Admission is free, but seating is limited.
Sign up at or 206-682-7395.

Weigh in
Follow the conversation #SeattleSpeaks | Take the pre-show poll!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Update:  there is one Director Community meeting tomorrow - with Director Carr - from 8:30-10 am at Bethany Community Church with  a hard stop at 10 am as the Board also has its Board retreat tomorrow from 10:30-3:00 pm at JSCEE.  I would put up the agenda but it is not available.  Why it isn't available is always a mystery (although here's the Board agenda for the next school board meeting). I'll lay odds there will be discussion of preschool (which staff does want to do) and bell times (which staff doesn't want to do).  Good luck, Board members.

End of update.
(No, I am not officially back but I feel for Charlie.)  I see a lot has been happening.

It appears that the district IS creating a taskforce on Prevention and Response to Sexual Harassment (PRSH), apply by September 26th.

The district also wants public comments on the new 21-page Superintendent's Procedure on Sexual Harassment.

I also note that there is a district narrative of the "Garfield High School Field Trip."  I'm not sure I believe it is correct but that's their story and they are sticking to it.  (That may change if any legal action happens against the district.)

The big smackdown from the Supreme Court over McCleary did not happen as the Supreme Court allowed the Legislature this session to get - this - done.   But I can only say that I recall being much more worried about my mother when she was angry and quiet than angry and loud.

Besides getting McCleary done, it would be unwise for any legislator - or group of legislators - to believe that you can pit public education against social services.  If only it would be that easy but no, the Legislature is actually going to have to do some real work - rescinding tax breaks, cutting pet programs or gasp! maybe even an income tax.

From the "With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies" file comes a video that I suppose is in support of Common Core. It is by turns offensive, vague and just plain useless.  Apparently this marketing firm, Six One Seven Studios, did this all by itself (out of the goodness of their hearts).

From Politico:
Too many of the pro-Common Core videos were PowerPoints and talking heads,” Roberts said. “So we put out this video to help folks see the power of telling a fun but simple story with real people.”  I don't believe this story is simple (although Grandpa comes off like a simpleton) or those were "real" people.

Their website says they do "innovative, engaging and authentic" work.  If this is a good example of their work, they should worry.

What's on your mind?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Proposed Advanced Learning Policy

I now have a copy of the Advanced Learning policy brought forward by staff. It is essentially identical to the proposed policy that was roundly rejected by the Board about a year ago. It hasn't gotten better with time. The proposed policy is little different from the WSSDA model policy, which is crap.

The policy fails to fulfill the minimum requirements in that it does not say what kind of students HC services are for, it does not say why they need HC services, and it does not address the requirements of policy 2090:
The Board requires efficiency and effectiveness in all facets of its operations. In order to achieve this goal, the Board shall provide:
A. A clear statement of expectations for the district's instructional programs,
B. Staff, resources and support to achieve the stated expectations; and
C. A plan for evaluating instructional programs and services to determine how well expectations are being met.
 The full text of the proposed policy is after the jump.

The District's Real Response

This is good news.

It's beginning to look like Seattle Public Schools is finally going to take real action in response to the reported rape of November, 2012 and how that case exposed district failures in both prevention and response to sexual assault and harassment complaints. The real action from the District now includes improvements to both prevention and response. There had been nothing but talk so far, but now we're starting to see signs of real action - and, of course, the usual amount of forming a committee to make a plan to talk about proposing changes.

This real action includes:

Still remaining are:
  • Revisions to the Sexual Harassment Policy (the task force will take a year)
  • Training of Title IX Officers (no promises)
  • Staff training (Coming soon.)
  • Posting of required Title IX notices (Coming soon!)
  • Issuance of required written notifications of Title IX rights (referenced in revised procedure)
And, of course:
  • Actual compliance
Regrettably, the actual compliance may never come. Better rules don't help if people don't follow them, and Seattle Public Schools has a very poor record when it comes to following rules, enforcing rules, or holding people accountable for violating rules.

But let's give credit where credit is due. The credit should go first to those who did the hard work to shame the District in the national and local press which has caused them to take action. They would never have taken action without that. Credit should also go to those within the District who are now shuffling towards action and those few within the District who are driving that movement against the natural resistance.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

City of Seattle Pre-K Initiative

Here's a thread to discuss the City of Seattle's pre-k ambitions and their co-ordination, or lack thereof, with Seattle Public Schools.

The District's Title IX PR Effort

Seattle Public Schools has a real problem with Title IX compliance. They knew about this problem for years and took no action. Recently, these problems were exposed in the press. When the District started getting bad press about their Title IX problems they began to respond - to the PR problem.

I have long said that the School District only responds to three stimuli: litigation (or the threat of litigation), money, and bad press - especially bad national press. The District's senior leadership had no trouble with their Title IX failures until they were reported in the national media, in Al Jazeera America. Then they became a PR problem, and the District has responded to them as a PR problem.

Here is the heart of the District's PR response: a brand new district web page on Title IX.  This page can be found by clicking on Title IX on the Districts Departments page. I was not aware that the District had a Title IX department, but, apparently, the web managers think they do.

This page is still very new and its going through a lot of revision. It contains links to a number of interesting documents.

After some boilerplate language about how Seattle Public Schools does not discriminate, a description of Title IX, and a little blurb about sexual harassment, the announcements begin. As usual with Seattle Public Schools, their announcements are less interesting in what they say as they are in what they don't say.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread -NOT- on Wednesday

Ack! Melissa usually does this. Sorry I muffed it.

Here is your Tuesday open thread just one day late.

Did anyone attend the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting? Can we get a report? Has anyone seen the draft policy for Advanced Learning?

What else is going on?

Somehow, when I first created this thread I thought it was Wednesday. What a goob.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

So What Have They Done?

Since the sexual assault complaint that arose on a Garfield High School field trip to NatureBridge in November of 2012, we have heard from the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors and senior management about how seriously they regard it and how committed they are to tightening up procedures, policy, and compliance. But what have they actually done? Shockingly little. And let's remember that they have had almost two years since that day. Almost two years and they haven't really done anything.

We got the lip service. We got the crocodile tears. What we didn't get was any real movement towards improved policies, procedures, or practices. Nor have we seen any movement to hold anyone accountable for failures to follow the policy or procedures. Instead, we've seen the Board and the senior management close ranks to not only excuse the non-compliance, not only condone the non-compliance, but actually defend the non-compliance. I'm sorry, but how tragic do the outcomes have to be before anyone will take this seriously? Does someone have to die?

Oh, but they will claim that they have done so much. Really? What have they done?

Open Thread: Waitlists and Assignments

By request.  Discuss among yourselves.