Tuesday, November 29, 2016

SEA Center for Race and Equity survey

I've been informed there's a survey going around inside the teacher's union from an advocacy group working on Race and Equity. One of the questions is whether to focus on ending tracking which is clearly aimed at HCC.

If you happen to be in the union and care about advanced learning please take the time to fill out the survey and advocate for the program and students within it.

Garfield PTSA notes on Honor For All

There was a discussion on "Honors for All" at the recent PTSA meeting: http://www.garfieldptsa.org/ptsa/ptsa-general-meeting-notes-11-15/

"Honors for All Update - Mr. Simoneaux, npsimoneaux@seattleschools.org (History) and Mr. Zimmerman, tjzimmermann@seattleschools.org (Language Arts)

  • No plan to extend Honors for All to 10th grade
  • Same rigor and challenge as previous 9th grade honors classes 
  • Goal is to create same opportunities for all students. Very little movement into Honors or AP classes from Gen Ed students in the past
  • Teacher collaboration: same units, grade norming, support. All classes now uniform, no differences from teacher to teacher. Teachers meet Thursdays at lunch, all meet after school Fridays to collaborate 
  • History lessons all linked to AP World History standards 
  • English Language Arts writing rubric is now aligned: quarterly essays, 6 traits of writing, annotating texts 
  • First time core academic classes reflect the complete student population 
  • Don’t see much difference between HCC and Gen. Ed. students’ performance in class 
  • Complex instruction make students interdependent, working in small groups, discussions, taking on different roles  
  • Language Arts is a skill-based course, History is content-based. So pedagogical goals are different
  •  Interpersonal skills are developed, the ability to listen to others 
  • Students may feel less academic anxiety and pressure over these classes"

Check out the links for the full transcript. Again I'd be very interested if any parent's have some direct experience to add.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

11/15 Cascadia PTSA Meeting on the potential Split

The new Cascadia Elementary building layout. Note: as built even with flex spaces there are 29 rooms because of the Kindergarten wing.

Overall last night was very interesting. A lot of the staff took time to be present including Stephen Martin from Advanced Learning, Ashley Davies from Enrollment planning, someone from operations whose name I didn't catch, Jon Hafaker the Executive Director for the region and Rick Burke from the school board. Also, the format with the PTSA asking a series of pre-selected questions covered a lot of ground in an hour which I think was a wise use of time.

What follows are my notes (pardon the lack of organization)

  • The PTSA will follow Cascadia if a split occurs and a new one will have to be formed. Any reserves left will probably be split in a pro-rated fashion based off the school sizes.
  • On that note, the current drive is 100,000 behind target. So if you're able to, please give if you haven't already. 
  • The top choice off the surveys was to geosplit by between 40-60% between the 2 versions.
  • The district's decision remains unchanged and it will recommend the split at the operations meeting. This will come up for a Jan 4th vote.
  • Why rush?  Ashley didn't add any new color to the question but did add this was a typical timeframe (6 mo) for starting a new school up.
  • The staff are using the survey results to partly justify the choice now as well.
  • There was no desire from either community to merge with Thornton Creek and run both buildings as a single unit so that is off the table for now.
  • There was no data on the relative costs of portables vs. running the Decatur building.
  • If the levy cliff occurs the district will be in a 71 million dollar deficit and that limits the budgetary planning here i.e.  don't expect mitigation funds and rather look forward to staff cuts.
  • There was a promise to involve parents in any principal selection which would probably occur right in January. Based on the timelines I assume this would be a fairly rapid process.
  • The feeling from the staff was that the logistical challenges on the Wilson Pacific site with as many as 2000 kids were greater than 900 on the Thornton Creek one.  Different starting times was mentioned as one obvious adjustment.
  • The split will be done by middle school attendance area. All of the Eckstein feeder schools which makes about 240-260 kids would go to Decatur.
  • Dir. Peters has introduced an amendment to alter this and make the new site an option. Although its hard to predict all the implications of such a change.  This would allow a cap on enrollment but also make planning more unknown  and potentially lead to under enrollment or unbalanced enrollment per grade.  
  • The staff considers the Decatur site a permanent rather than temporary solution unlike the portables. Of course, everything is subject to change if enough growth continues to occur.
  • The teachers split would be governed by the collective bargaining agreement. Essentially, the teachers get to volunteer first and then its done by seniority and category.
  • There is no answer on money for the initial gym and library although the staff wants to provide that due to equity. 
  • The physical plant is currently being seismically upgraded and will recieve new paint and carpeting. In addition, the plan is to tear down the annex and develop a new playground there. This like all the other question depends on available money.
  •  Several rumors were mentioned (black mold, condemned building) and  called out as false.

The bottom line is that while there are more details here we're still on the same path. Budgetary and space constraints really limit the choices. The staff wants to do the split. The board sounds like its considering holding off a year. And if we do kick the can down the road there is still some risk that even the Decatur site will be spoken for by that time.

Friday, November 4, 2016

November '16 Open Thread

Now we're 2 months into the school year, how are things going?  I'm especially interested in hearing from those at Thurgood Marshall and Garfield H.S.

An interesting piece of data from the district on potential portables per school site:

Robert Eaglestaff planning Meetings:

Coming soon: Robert Eagle Staff MS Community Meetings-Beginning in November 2016
Posted on 09/08/2016
Robert Eagle Staff Middle School
Upcoming community meetings where you can join Principal Campbell and the Robert Eagle Staff Middle School community to learn about the new school, share your ideas, and celebrate learning.
Interpreters provided: please contactmacampbell@seattleschools.org
November 17, 2016, 6:30 p.m.Meet Ms. Campbell at the Daniel Bagley Elementary PTSA meeting
November 22, 2016, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Broadview Branch Library (12755 Greenwood Ave. N.) 

Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Family and Community Planning Meeting  
November 29, 2016, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Loyal Heights Elementary at Marshall (520 NE Ravenna Blvd)

Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Family and Community Planning Meeting
December 3, 2016, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m
Location TBD
Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Family and Community Planning Meeting
December 8, 2016, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Loyal Heights Elementary at Marshall (520 NE Ravenna Blvd)

Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Family and Community Planning Meeting
January 5, 2017, 6 - 7:30 p.m.
Broadview Branch Library (12755 Greenwood Ave. N.) 
 Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Family and Community Planning Meeting