Sunday, May 01, 2016

Center School to have School Walkout Tuesday

From Soup for Teachers:
The Center School, an arts-based public choice school is under threat of losing fine arts classes due to budget constraints.  (Editor's note; if this happened, it fundamentally changes what this school was created to be. Website description of the school: The Center School (TCS or Center) is a small public high school with a focus on the arts and community engagement.)

Tuesday, May 3rd at 9am students will be walking out of school (this will be an unexcused absence), over to Westlake, then taking the light rail to SPS in SODO. They will then protest and chant outside until someone comes to meet with them. Their goal is to let SPS know how upset they are with the budget and to demand action from the district to get all the fine arts classes back. 

Parents are welcome and encouraged to join for any or all part of the walkout. Please share about it on social media and spread the word! Any press would be great. 

Wednesday, May 4th students and parents from Center will be at the School Board meeting. Some will be giving public testimony. Again, it would be great to have support at the meeting. Thank you!

Thank you to ALL Who Work and Serve our Schools

I managed to miss Volunteer Week.

I managed to miss Administrative Professionals Day.

And now it's Teacher Appreciation Week from May 2-7.

So to all those parents who raise money, go on field trips, make the grounds nicer and help out in our classrooms.  Thank you.

To all those administrative assistants who really are the backbone of any office. Thank you.  (I want to send a special shout out to Aleta Paraghamian in the office of the superintendent.  No matter who is the superintendent, she is always kind and professional and I think this district is lucky to have her.)

And to teachers, where would our kids be without you? Thank you.  

Here's a link to some coupon help from different companies for teachers this week including Apple, Aerosoles, Banana Republic, Barnes&Noble, Chipotle, JoAnn Fabric, and the Loft.

Job Fair for 16-24 Age Group on May 5th

From the Starbuck's newsroom: 

Coalition of 40 Top U.S. Companies Set to Launch Long-Term Hiring Effort in Seattle to Bring Jobs to Opportunity Youth – 16- to 24-Year-Olds Who Are Not in School or Employed

Hundreds of Interviews and On-the-Spot Job Offers Available at Free Hiring Event at CenturyLink Field Event Center May 5 from 9 am to 4 pm.

Building on Similar Events in Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles, the Initiative is Part of a National Employer-Led Push to Hire at Least 100,000 Opportunity Youth by 2018

America’s Largest Employer-Led Coalition for Opportunity Youth Welcomes Accenture, Leisure Care, Panda Express, Services Group of America and Ulta Beauty as Newest Members

Interested candidates are invited to register for free and pre-schedule their interviews for the May 5 hiring event at Lyft, a member of the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative, will provide free rides up to $50 for candidates who are new Lyft passengers to help them easily access transportation to and from the event. Youth will also have access to more than 30 vital employment, educational and social services, including one-on-one resume and interview coaching; access to high school and equivalency through admissions to programs at the University of Washington; opportunities for civic engagement like voter registration and national service; the chance to build an online profile with LinkedIn’s experts; and more.

The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative’s work in Seattle will build on the success of similar hiring efforts in Chicago, Phoenix and Los Angeles. To date, more than 25,000 youth have found jobs, internships or higher education opportunities through the participating companies, of which 2,300 received on-the spot offers at the three hiring fairs. The coalition will look to host more than 1,500 youth at the Seattle Opportunity Fair May 5. Participating companies expect to make hundreds of immediate job offers, as they did in the other cities.


It's that time of year at the Seattle Foundation where your donation to your favorite group gets a bump up.  If you are really busy, you don't have to wait for Tuesday, May 3rd; they have made it possible to schedule your donation.

Plus there's this:
Corporate sponsored Golden Tickets will be announced throughout the day on GiveBIG giving lucky donors a chance to win additional bonus dollars for their favorite nonprofit.
In addition, you can share your GiveBIG support with your friends for a chance to win a 24-person SoundersFC suite for you and your favorite nonprofit! Enter to win by using the hashtag #givebig and tagging @soundersfc and @Seattle Foundation in any Facebook post (see example message below). View full terms and conditions.
If you have more than one group you want to support, you can help up to 30 groups in one transaction.

My rough count is over 1,000 groups represented with education (at 363) just bumping out arts&culture (at 357.)  I see a few oddities in the education group (Crosscut?)

There are many SPS groups like Ballard High foundation, Denny Sealth Performing Arts, Friends of Garfield Orchestra, Graham Hill PTA, Hazel Wolf K-8 PTA, Highland Park PTA, Ingraham Rocket Club, John Muir PTA, Kimball PTA, Roosevelt High Foundation, Seattle World School Alumni Scholarships, STEM K-8 PTA, and Thurgood Marshall PTA.

Wondering who else to donate to in the education realm?  I recommend the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, TAF (Technology Access Foundation), NW School for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children, and SOWA (School's Out Washington.)

But no matter what category you support or what group, this is really a great day to stretch those donor dollars AND show what a caring community we live in.  Their goal is $20M in 24 hours. 

There are no small donations when you give from the heart.

This and That

Students in the gifted program knew they do well in math but thought this test was way too easy. That's because the algebra test they were supposed to take wasn't what they got.  Among the other tidbits of info from this story.
Christiana said he doesn't think it's fair to the students that they wasted an afternoon on the wrong test. "Now they are told their test was nonsense and they have to take another one," Christiana said. "I am frustrated, and they are not giving us any answers."
Less than a week earlier, students were locked out of PARCC testing because of an error by an employee at Pearson, the company that provides the exams.

Teachers are instructed not to look at student's computer screens during PARCC testing, even if a student has a question, said Matthew Stagliano, a spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.
So the kids can tell something is wrong on the test and can't point it out to the teacher?  I'm assuming that's because the teacher isn't supposed to see the questions but this all seems pretty unfair if something is wrong.

School staff having guns in schools? How about anybody bringing a gun into a school because, after all, it is election day. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Split-Level Classes may be coming to Seattle Schools

From SPS to parents:

Dear SPS Family,

Class sizes will be smaller for students in kindergarten through third grade beginning this fall, thanks to funding from the 2016 Legislature. The funding comes with strict class-size requirements for the primary grades. These requirements must be followed in order to receive the funding. Previously, schools were allowed to assign teachers as needed across grades K-5. Under the new funding model, instructional staff will be allocated across grades K-3 at specific ratios. These ratios mean small class sizes in grades K-3, but may also mean more split-grade-level classrooms. A split-grade-level classroom consists of two grade levels; for example, 10 second-graders and 10 third-graders in a single classroom of 20 total students. 
Split-grade-level classrooms already exist in Seattle and other districts, but we anticipate more of them this fall. Last year, Seattle Public Schools staffed to have no more than two split-grade-level classrooms per school. This new funding means that this fall, schools may have three or four split classrooms, depending upon the enrollment at each school. Lower class-size funding can be used creatively. For example, a certificated teacher could be hired as a learning specialist and work with classroom teachers in the K-3 grades to help with student academic needs. Principals are working on how best to use the new funding according to state requirements. 

Friday Open Thread

The Viaduct is closed and I see no tweets from SPS Communications about transportation issues so I hope all is well for schools in that area.

Also of note, from The Stranger:
Seattle Public Utilities is investigating whether galvanized gooseneck fittings are corroding, KUOW reports, which might pose some risk. Bottom line: Water is safe to drink, according to SPU. They continue to recommend running the water a few minutes before drinking it. If you want to check if your piping is galvanized, use SPU's website or call (206) 684-5800. Even then, there's a 25 percent chance your galvanized piping includes gooseneck fittings. 
Congrats to Broadview-Thomson K-8 teacher Shana Brown who was selected by the Department of Education as a "great educator."
She will be among several honorees in attendance at the National Teacher of the Year ceremony, Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at the White House.

She is the principal author of Washington state's newly required curriculum: "Since Time Immemorial: Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State". Shana has also conducted trainings on behalf of Seattle Public Schools, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the National Indian Education Association, the organization that nominated her for this honor. 

Currently she is working with the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian on their new online initiative, Native Knowledge 360°.
 The district is having an open house for review of K-5 LA curriculum materials.  
A wide variety of materials submitted for teaching reading and writing will be on display for examination and feedback. The feedback is essential to the process of selecting the best materials to recommend for the second round of the review and field-test process.

 The community may also review materials online and at the John Stanford Center between May 2 and May 20. More information, including online access codes and feedback forms, will be available on the SPS ELA K-5 Adoption webpage starting May 2.
Summer learning info up at SPS website including Jump Start for incoming Ks, Summer Staircase for K-4th, and credit recovery for high school students.  (You have to ask your middle school what programs they might be offering.)  The Skills Center also has a great summer program for learning about career fields.

The City is starting Bicycle Sundays this Sunday, May 1st.  There will be 14 such days when Lake Washington Blvd closes to motorized vehicles form 10 am to 6 pm.

What's on your mind?

KUOW Story on the Mayor's Summit

This story was on KUOW today.
"Perhaps the greatest challenge we face in addressing the opportunity gap is the persistent disparities in our public schools," said Murray, in an statement promoting the event. schools," said Murray, in an statement promoting the event. "This is not just the responsibility of the Seattle school district.
This is clever way for the Mayor to get the City more involved but really he should have said:

"Perhaps the greatest challenge we face in addressing the opportunity gap is the persistent disparities in our city.."

Because that is equally true AND his turf.

About the next steps after the Summit which is the work of the Mayor's Advisory Group:

Banks is on the mayor’s advisory group that will hold a series of meetings after the summit, and draw up a list of recommendations for the mayor. That plan has drawn criticism because the advisory group meetings won’t be open to the public.
And she says the closed-door meetings shouldn’t make people suspicious. 

"It’s really hard to do strategic work if you open it to the public," Banks said. "I hope people will trust us, because I think at the end of the day, all of us, including Mayor Murray, we want the best for all kids in the Seatttle-King County area."
It's hard to know what to say to that.  I will point out that when I was on the Closure and Consolidation Committee, we DID close our final two days of session and some were not happy.  But our committee was going to make real and dramatic recommendations to the superintendent.  Our two days were full 8+ hour days and we worried that people would wander in and out and not have heard all the discussions and lose context.

The Mayor's committee is quite unlikely to anything like all-day sessions and, if this group is anything like the HALA committee which had about 40+ recommendations, then the recommendations are likely to be more suggestions to pick from than actual recommendations.

I'll note that Daniel Beekman over at the Times had a good article this week over how the Mayor said one thing about inclusionary housing and is doing another.  They "rebranded" their housing plan with different wording.  Indeed, the HALA report changed some wording as well around putting in schools on the street floor of any city housing created, from "charter school" to "public school."  I was never able to get anyone to answer who/why charters would have come before any SPS school.

If things are to change for public schools, some of that has to come from the City and where housing is located is one big issue.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Seattle Schools' Facilities Planning

Charlie and I have always enjoyed a good laugh over the district's "Facilities Master Plan" because we both could never understand how a list of buildings with descriptions and policies around them is a "plan."  It will be interesting to see if the newest one is any better.

I attended both Work Sessions yesterday on facilities and it pretty much turned out how I thought.  Staff's presentation for the first work session was overly long - a lot of flowery talk about the mission and values of facilities which is fine but you don't need five minutes about it - and sure enough, they had to rush at the end of the first Session.  Directors seemed to have more questions to ask but they had to plow on.

I'll have a write-up of my notes soon.  There were several handouts including this one that I thought parents might want to see.  It's the newest Facilities Master Plan Replacement or Major Modernization Priority list.  It has many categories of facilities conditions for each school in the district.

Dirge, please, for buildings scoring for the worst condition:

Staff proposal for program placement reform

School Board Director Sue Peters has proposed changes to the policies that govern program placement.
The staff have responded with their suggestions for updating the policies.
Both versions will be discussed today in a work session. You can read them here.

Charter school discipline story at Crosscut

Crosscut is featuring this story: Charter schools suspending black students at high rates. It's full of accusations and denials.

I'll just add two stories to Charlie's thread that may be of use in this discussion.  As the study says, fairly, many charters don't have these issues; it tends to be the "no excuses" charters like KIPP. 

From the Edushyster blog: Holding Back to Get Ahead

From Dewey to Delpit: the No-Excuses Charter School Movement

Testing News

Update: some common sense from one of my favorite education writers, Jersey Jazzman, and his "The PARCC Silly Season.

end of update

It's just hard to know where to start.

First, the new thought from ed reformers is that parents just don't understand what they are doing when they opt their children out.  Thanks for patronizing them as if they are not thinking adults.  There are also new pro-testing groups springing up and many of them are funded by the Gates Foundation.  It's the same thing, over and over, with the Foundation. Create faux parent groups, data use groups and even media groups. 

- You'll hurt your school/district if you don't test.  Your child isn't in school for anyone's data point.  Also, despite the 95% performance rate for federal funds, there has not been a district or state punished for falling below this rate.  It would appear to be a lot of saber-rattling because the feds know who they would hurt - at-risk, minority children.

- It's just "white suburban parents" who are just doing this on a whim and hurting minority students.  Or, it may be that questioning these tests may have just started in one area and is spreading.  From Carol Burris writing in the Washington Post:
There is also evidence that the Opt Out movement is gaining ground with parents of color, with many no longer willing to buy the spin that taking Common Core tests will improve their children’s life chances.
Ninety-seven percent of the more than 1,000 students who attend Westbury Middle School in Nassau County are black or Latino, and  81 percent are economically disadvantaged.  On Tuesday, 50 percent of those students were opted out of the tests by their parents. Last year, the number was 2 percent.
- As a parent, you won't know how your child is doing.  Again, if you believe in your child's teacher, you will know how your child is doing, sooner and in more detail.

- "We won't know who to help or pinpoint what they need."  This is probably the most specious argument out there.  Ask any principal or teacher in a school and they will tell you who needs what kind of help or support.