Must read: The Invisible Child

Last night, I started reading the New York Times extraordinary series, The Invisible Child, about  a homeless middle-school student named Dasani, her family life and her school. I couldnt stop reading it. I stayed up past midnight. One thing that kept me up later: an increasing number of children share her predicament. Last school year, there were an estimated 26,ooo homeless K-12 students in Washington, 1,324 in the Seattle School District.


-Fiona Cohen


Success Story: Seattle World School

At the Seattle World School, they have a lot to celebrate. It’s the third school year since Seattle Public Schools merged the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center- a school where newly arrived immigrants went for up to 18 months get the skills to go to other public schools-with a secondary school whose purpose is to prepare English language learners for college or careers.

The school, one of six Creative Approach schools in the district, specializes in teaching academic subjects in ways that work for English language learners without any dumbing down. The staff all has professional  training in teaching for these learners...


Teacher pay in two maps.

Heres a map, from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center,

showing the average cost of living in different states as of the third quarter of

this year.

Washington is the 15th most expensive state. Below, a map from the

Higher Ed Data Stories blog, showing the average public school teacher salary

in each state. Washington is 22nd out of 50 states.  And keep in mind that

Seattles cost of living is well above the state average, and its teacher salary isnt.

Teachers arent the only people who take salary cuts for the privilege of living

in this place, but we should keep these sacrifices in mind when we are

considering how to attract the best people to lead our classrooms.

-Fiona Cohen


Schools out, so check out the library.

School doors will be closed, but the libraries will stay open through most of the break . At Stanislo Elementary, they’re encouraging kids to make use of that. The school is having an event at the Delridge Branch’s meeting room from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. They’ll have snacks, board games, and a computer on hand, so that families can learn about the public library’s electronic resources. They’ll also give away free books, said Stanislo teacher-librarian Craig Seasholes. The Seattle Public Library’s branches are open regular hours through most of the break, closing on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1, and closing at 6 p.m. on Dec. 31...

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Seattle student growth by the bubbles

Earlier this week, the office of the superintendent of public instruction released a big bundle of data on student improvement in Math and Reading MSP and in Algebra. The way they measure it, creating a figure called Student Growth Percentile, is a bit involved.

Here is an overview of the results for Seattle Public Schools. For bigger charts with more data – including the names of the schools the hot pink dots represent you need to go here, and do the following:

  1. click on “Static Data Files” (a blue box on the right hand side),
  2. in the “Select a Subject Area” menu on the right hand side, click on “Assessment.”
  3. Click on “SGP District (All Schools Bubble Plots.)
  4. Scroll down to find the Seattle Public Schools file.

Here are the growth results for reading, for math, and for A...

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Yes, the public schools do need fixing

If you want to work for the betterment of public education, you get used to a certain amount of smack talk.  But when the sniping goes so far as to deny that we do have profound problems and inequities in our schools, then it goes too far.

Let’s go into this step by step, using one example: third grade reading.

Here are some sample questions from Washington’s third-grade Measure of Student Progress. It is not a difficult test.  I think it’s safe to assert that most parents would be pretty perturbed if their 8-year-olds couldn’t pass it.

But if you look at the state data from last year, you find that one in five Seattle Public School third graders- at least 820 children – did not meet standard on the test in 2013.

That’s disturbing in itself and there are piles of depressing, pe...

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Stories to watch in 2016

With a new year in a growing district, there are a lot of things going on.  Two new schools are opening in September: Jane Addams Middle School in the northeast and Fairmount Park Elementary School in West Seattle. Here are five stories we expect to shape Seattle’s education scene in 2016.

  1. The City’s preschool plan. Last September, Seattle City Council unanimously endorsed a plan to provide pre-school spaces for all kids in Seattle, with fees on a sliding scale. This year, we can expect to see those plans take shape.
  2. More wrangling over Charter Schools. After the King County Superior Court judge’s ruling on Dec. 12, one thing is certain about the future of charter schools in the state: it’s heading for the state supreme court...
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Rainier Beach students ask for help with getting to school

At the last school board meeting, a group of Rainier Beach High School students, attended by one teacher, came to ask the board for a simple request: ORCA cards to help them travel to and from school.

The district responded by having a listening meeting with students in mid-December. Any news of solutions will have to wait until after the break.

At the school board meeting, one student describes how on his long walk to school, bus drivers will sometimes take pity on him and give him a lift, and sometimes they won’t, and that makes the difference between being late or on time.

Another said that the lack of help for transportation costs pushed her and other students into stark decisions.

“Students are having to choose between having money for food and money for transportation...