Friday, October 31, 2014

On the Weekend Eve of Election Day - No on 1B to Protect SPS

I'll put in my plug for voting NO on the preschool/childcare props one more time. 

This plea  is for Seattle Schools parents. 

In every single document that I have found about the preschool plan, the number one "priority" is to "partner with Seattle Schools."  After you have read thru a number of documents, it starts to jump out at you.

Now 1B says, we know there is little space and there's other things we'd like to work on with SPS.  Yes, SPS could help with curriculum, info on how they already work with preschool groups, etc. 

Except that, as the Board complained at the recent Work Session with Councilman Burgess and others on the preschool plan, the district really hasn't been consulted on curriculum.  The Board wasn't invited to give any input at all on the preschool plan.  Hmm. 

(To note, three current Board members have endorsed 1B - Sherry Carr, Harium Martin-Morris and Stephan Blanford.  Carr and Martin-Morris have donated to the campaign.)

I tell people I know that if 1B passes, the full-court press is coming to the district from the City and  it will be from multiple angles.  In fact, my cynical side thinks that the district may be getting that full-court press in the form of a stick and not a carrot by which I mean if the district doesn't help with space, maybe the district might not get things it wants in the way of grant funding, etc.

Why do I think the pressure will be huge?  Two reasons.

Friday Open Thread

Just Jupiter's creepy eye (courtesy of NASA/A.Simon)
Looking at the Seattle Weekly, I was taken aback from the official photo of the former principal (for now) at the Center School.

There are no Director community meetings this Saturday.

Wishing all your little goblins and witches a Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow is Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday.  Seattle Center has weekend of activities.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Preschool and Long-Term Benefits?

In another thread, we had a kindergarten teacher say this (bold mine):

I am a kindergarten teacher in a school where the vast majority of students live below the poverty line. My Head Start pre-K graduates not only have pre-academic skills, but, more importantly, understand how to listen to a story as a member of a group, how to solve interpersonal problems (i.e., how to take turns with a special object), have greater mathematical understanding, and have a far greater vocabulary in both their birth languages and English. 

 I have NEVER questioned the value of Pre-K. Frankly it's a luxury to be able to do so. 

I don't have any idea which I'll vote for, 1A, or 1B, because I've been too busy teaching to do my research, but I'll definitely be voting for something that increases access for the families I serve, who, although working and contributing in so many ways, cannot access quality early childhood education for their children.

Followed by SWK who said this (bold mine):

K Teacher, there is no doubt that children who come to kindergarten from a high-quality preschool are better prepared for kindergarten. That is not up for debate. The issue that I raised is that that preparation fades by 3rd or 4th grade, hence the "fadeout."

I agree with Lynn that the point of providing subsidized preschool for low-income children is not to better prepare them for kindergarten per se but to better prepare them for lifelong learning. And there's no evidence that participation in high-quality preschool has any effect whatsoever on long-term outcomes for the participants.

I think we would all be better served if we provided health care, dental care, and nutrition for low-income children and job-training and parental support for their parents. As Lynn wisely points out, we need to address the causes and effects of poverty. Preschool is no silver bullet despite how much advocates infer that it is.

Poverty, my friends, is the issue.  

We can have 6-hour "academic days"for preschoolers (that would be 1B).  Add in (at some point) wrap-around services. 

But it will NOT solve the problem.  Some help might be better than none, for sure.

But then again, help from birth to five might be better than none (that would be 1A).

Which is better?  Which will serve more low-income tots?  Who knows?  The answer is... no one.

But we need to stop thinking it's about "education" and not about society.

Work Session on MOU with Alliance for Ed

Summary: it appears that most of the Board, both as a group and individually, have real issues with the Alliance.  It is not to the point where they don't want to work with them but the issues are both irritants and concerns.  It would appear that the many on the Board believe that the Alliance oversteps its grounds (in relation to its work with the district) and the Alliance's insistence on being a "critical friend" may just be too much for the Board.  More support, less criticism and attempts to steer direction for the Board. 

In a frank discussion at the Work Session on Tuesday, much was heard and learned about what the next MOU with the Alliance might look like.

I am left to wonder - if the Board and the Alliance have a hard time figuring out where to meet and how to talk - will there be an MOU?  Because with the Alliance's increasing strong stands on what needs to get done in the district and the Board wanting to set the goals (and the Alliance can follow or not as they want to), maybe the Alliance will not sign an MOU they don't like.

Then, they might then just be another moneyed ed advocacy group.

Meeting minutes

Don't Open Mail from Me

I apparently have an issue on my computer.  I'm going to attempt to fix it but the e-mails says something like I have a Googledoc.

Ignore these.

Seattle Schools and Halloween

From SPS Communications:

Halloween reminder: Toy weapons or anything that resembles a toy weapon are not allowed in Seattle Schools. Students must be identifiable in their costumes, so no full masks allowed. Costumes shouldn't get in the way of school activities, including P.E. and recess.

Each school has the discretion of making additional rules around Halloween costumes and activities. Check with your school for further information.

One artist dad's idea of fun with his daughter (apparently she thought so as well).  Note: creepy photos with small child.  Not for small children.

Shelter in Place at NE Schools

Update:  Shelter in place has been lifted from these schools.

Tweet from SPS:

Shelter in place: Eckstein,View Ridge, Bryant,Thornton Creek after bank robbery,73rd/35th Ave NE. No students involved.

Strategic Plan Update

Yesterday staff presented an update to the Board during a Work Session on the Strategic Plan.  I did not attended but just read thru the presentation.  It includes survey results of both parents and staff.

Here's what I wrote the Board:

Dear Directors,

Looking at the Strategic Plan Presentation, I see this notation:

At this stage, we are highlighting data but do not yet have root cause analyses or proposed solutions.

I can help.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Horrific Shooting of Family Leaves Aki Kurose Saddened

This is beyond sad.

Here's the story from KIRO-tv .  (They get one thing wrong - the Aki student killed, Anahlia Cowherd, was not a "fifth grader" at Aki because it's a middle school.  I have been unable to reach Communications but it was reported she was 11 so I would think a 6th grader).

Anahlia reported at an online site that her grandfather had been inappropriately touching her.  She wrote:

Seattle Schools Updates

On the Center School incident, one odd thing that I noticed yesterday when I received a press update: the principal has been replaced.