The Buzz on the Streets
The 47th District: Issues, Insight & Interaction
The evening of May 24th a community discussion on new approaches to evaluation and compensation and how it could work in our schools was held in this area sponsored by Stand for Children, Partnership for Learning, BEST Education-Tacoma, Seattle Council PTSA, and Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle. The hour and a half discussion was well attended and there was a panel discussion from educators in the field. The panel was composed of: Jeffrey Wilson, The New Teacher Project, Alan Burke, OSPI, Mary Alice, Renton Public Schools, Sarah McCoy, Mariner High School, and Raegen Miller.During the discussions, examples of successes in working with the Unions being involved and also contributing to the success of shaping the compensation vision were pointed out in New Haven, Connecticut and Colorado.
A handout that was discussed listed:
The Current Teacher Evaluation Categories:
- Instructional Skill
- Classroom Management
- Professional Preparation and Scholarship
- Effort Toward Improvement When Needed
- Handling of Student Discipline and Attendance Problems
- interest in Teaching Pupils
- Knowledge of Subject Matter
New Teacher Evaluation Categories:
- Centering instruction on high expectations for student achievement
- Demonstrating effective teaching practices
- Recognizing individual student learning needs and developing strategies to address those needs
- Providing clear and intentional focus on subject matter content and curriculum
- Fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment
- Using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning
- Communicating with parents and school community
- Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices focus on improving instructional practice and student learning
Current Principal Evaluation Categories:
- Knowledge of, experience in and training in recognizing good professional performance, capabilities and development
- School administration and management
- School Finance
- Professional preparation and scholarship
- Effort toward improvement when needed
- Interest in pupils, employees, patrons and subjects taught in school
- Ability and performance of evaluation of school personnel
New Principal Evaluation Categories:
- Creating a school culture that promotes the ongoing improvement of learning and teaching for students and staff
- Providing for school safety
- Leads development, implementation and evaluation of a data-driven plan for increasing student achievement, including the use of multiple student data elements
- Assisting instructional staff with the alignment of curriculum, instruciton and assessment with state and local district learning goals
- Monitoring, assisting and evaluating effective instruction and assessment practices
- Managing both staff and fiscal resources to support student achievement and fiscal resources to support students achievement and legal responsibilities
- Partnering with the school community to promote student learning
- Demonstrating commitment to closing the achievement gap
A Booklet composed of ideas from an educator-driven recommendations basis to Improve Washington Schools with a local Representative from Kent-Covington area—Brooke Valentine contributing heavily to that many ideas brought forth in that Report was also passed out to those in attendance which was put together by Stand for Children.
The ideas that evening and listed in above categories needs the involvement heavily from everyone in the KSD Community. I would like to see Forums and Discussions on a Quarterly Basis brought up in our Community sponsored by various Civic or Government groups. We have to all get involved in making our education system better and not just showing up when problems arise. I hope to get lots of discussions going in my Blog and other places regarding the current and new categories listed and how you feel about our schools and what directions you feel we need to be pursuing or not pursuing. We, as a Society have to care more about our education system because it will fuel and generate the future of this country.
Halo Network Foundation Barista Program in Action at Kona Kai
Nationally, youths facing Homelessness is on the rise. They make-up about 27% of the Homeless population today. In the start of the school year, one high school in the Kent School District listed 98 students who registered homeless. This statistic should be alarming to all of us living in the SKC area for it is the future of our local economy and it is the future of human services problems. If our young people do not have stable housing it becomes harder for them to concentrate on doing well in school or even staying in school. With today’s challenging economy kids turning 18 are told by their parents, you are on your own now, we cannot not afford to take care of you anymore and you have to leave. If they are lucky enough to have a high school education to be sent off with no nest egg in their back pocket to take care of just basic needs can be overwhelming. You are also seeing foster kids of the State facing this reality all to often once they reach the age the State will now consider them adults–they are shown the door.
Homelessness can lead to habits young people never had before being in that situation. If they had other issues such as: substance abuse, mental health, or anger, it will only get worse. In addition, many become victims of the more savvy individuals who are ready to prey upon these younger individuals and lead them into lines of work which will take them down dark paths in their lives.
One of the bright stars in these building statistics are individuals and organizations stepping up to try to help stop the rise in these statistics. The Halo Network Foundation is one of them. They have created a Barista Program that is trying hard in Kent, Washington to get its start and help turn statistics around. The owners of the Kona Kai Coffee Company. Mychal and Maryum Boiser want to make a difference. They want to, in addition to running a successful business, help kids to be trained to be Baristas and give them the tools to have a job, make an income, and support themselves. While doing this they are mentoring and providing that one on one adventure to help that youth become a successful, educated, enriched member of society.
You, too, can play a huge part in ending Homelessness for our youths and at the same time really enjoy great food and great contemporary Jazz. May 15, from 7:00-9:30 p.m. in Kent at the Kona Kai Coffee Company business downtown at 124 4th Ave. South. There is a Jazz and Dinner Benefit sponsored by Halo Network Foundation. The wonderful menu consists of Beef Wellington or Jawaiian Spiced Ono as the main entree choices. In addition great entertainment by local Jazz Artist, Darren Motamedy. His work is soulful, passionate, and smooth. Tickets are going to go fast. Call them at 253-859-5662 or go in to Kona Kai and pick them up.
Don’t miss this opportunity to help make a difference in our community in ending Homelessness for our Youth!!!!
Sister Helen Prejean, left, Author “Dead Man Walking” talking with Leslie Hamada
Thursday April 15th at St. Madeleine Sophie Parish in Bellevue the special guests of the Good Samaritan Society had the rare pleasure of hearing Sister Prejean lecture regarding her Social Justice ventures that extended beyond her Parish duties into the Community at large in New Orleans and led her to write her first book: Dead Man Walking and her second Death of Innocence. The Book was made into a very famous Oscar winning movie. When you meet this beautiful lady and hear her speak you know that she may be small in size but she has powerful Faith and she has been on an unbelievable journey into serious issues of justice in Society. She was raised in a middle-upper class environment and attended private Catholic schools growing up. Her Parish in New Orleans took her into environments that were very different from her upbringings. Her adventure that led her to write her first book began when she agreed to write a prisoner on death row. It changed her whole life and today she leads a crusade against the death penalty.
She was a delightful and captivating speaker. Regardless of your stand on the death penalty, when you hear her say that:” your Faith is very clear that when you walk next to a prisoner headed for his final execution, with chains on his legs, rendered helpless, that this act is wrong” is a Powerful message. Reading through both her books Social Injustice jumps out at you in the statistics she quotes on many pages and makes you painfully aware that has happened in our justice system. We were Blessed to have her in our area to share her insight and words of wisdom if only for a brief time.
Kent Stakeholders pictured with Alberto Retana, US Department of Education right to left: Lawrence Lombard, African American Cultural Center President, Brian Steward, Kent Parks Department, Chandra Simmons-Gary, Advocate African American Cultural Center, Mr. Retana, and Leslie Hamada, Community Activist
On April 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM at the Rivers & Associates Business/Resource Technology Center Mr. Alberto Retana/Director of Community Outreach who reports directly to the Secretary of Education was in the SKC and Seattle Area to speak with
Community Stakeholders regarding what is going on in our schools in the local area, what we see as problems, how can
Communities come together and make things better and hear directly from people who are working hard in our diverse communities to implement change and better schools for our children. Several different races, ethnic backgrounds, and
religions were represented in that room. Everyone who spoke and talked had their thoughts and ideas written down by
Mr. Retana.He plans to take these thoughts and ideas back to his Boss and President Obama. “This Administration wishes to connect with the people in the fields touching the kids and the people everyday,” he shared with the group. “We want to hear your voices.”
Mr. Retana, prior to having his current job, worked in LA as a Community Organizer in some very rough neighborhoods.
He said the hardest part in taking on this new job was leaving all the friends and people he cared about so much. He was able
to entrench himself in their lives and stay in one area. With his new job comes traveling all over the country and meeting new
people and hearing from them but he is not able to stay in one community long before he moves to the next area of the Country.
However, he will be returning to Seattle in about three months to talk with this group again and hear from all more concerns
and what is working and not. The Department of Education is planning to release lots of Grants(SIG) to help with issues facing schools and he explained what many areas of focus will be. He also explained how the group needs to go back to their
communities and explain what is coming down the pipeline to get in line to receive this funding. He asked everyone there
to continue the communication through e-mails and phone calls. Toward the end of the Program which went on for about 5 hours youths were brought in to discuss what they liked about their schools and what could be made better if they had
been able to tell President Obama what would help them more.
From the audience of adults and youths came great ideas and insight of problems in our local areas. The youths spoke to the issue that different teaching methods work with different kids and if they implemented more variety in learning techniques this would help more students something educators today are exploring in many school districts. The youths also spoke to needing more one on one time with their teachers. This across the country also we have been seeing ask for by unions and parents. Mr. Retana toward the end went through all the notes he had written down about what was discussed and he expanded on all those issues. He spoke to an issue that had not been brought up before—the administrators have their advocates, the school boards have their voice, and the teachers have their unions but where is the parent’s union.
It was really a remarkable experience to be able to have your local voice taken directly to Washington DC and the Education
Department. It was a small enough group that people could talk and have great dialogue. It was refreshing to feel that your
Federal government was taking the time to listen to the people and people who may not always be invited to policy making
meetings—people touching the lives of kids in their communities each day. Mr. Retana is very skilled as a facilitator and you
felt he heard what you were saying and cared about each person’s comments. The people in the room all left with great ideas on how to carry the knowledge of potential Federal government spending into the Community.
Friday afternoon when I walked into the High School I had no idea what an afternoon of entertainment I was going to experience.
When the bell rang kids began coming in from many directions for the afternoon assembly. The gym was packed. I felt lucky to have a great front row seat on the floor reserved for the community. Then it began, a wonderful show of all the groups and clubs
in Kent Meridian doing their best to dance and entertain in costumes of their culture. The East Asia Club, the Nepal Dance Group, The Filipino Group, The African Youth Club, The Bringing the Seas Group, the Islanders, the M.E.Ch. A and the Break Club. The costumes were beautiful. The dancing superb. If I did not know better I would have thought I was in the Paramount in Seattle and had paid a nice price for a ticket.
They were simply amazing. The huge positive support coming from the crowd of fellow peers was similar to a big Pep Assembly before a rival school game. It warmed my heart to see a school so engaged in teaching the Community a lesson in culture and dress and dance all the time while you felt you were enjoying the entertainment.
This really exemplifies the make-up of the Kent Community at large—diverse in race, creed, and culture. It also demonstrates
the tremendous talent in our youth and the great passion they bring to life and their schools. It made me proud to be part of the
Committee that just helped pass the recent Levy proposals.
Often times in today’s challenging economy we get overwhelmed with all the negative news and it also floods over into what
some young people are doing—-to get themselves in trouble. But watching these talented —bright—supportive young people
gives you such Hope for the future. Investing in our young people and their education is this country’s future. Our kids are
our greatest resource.
What a special night at the Kent School District School Board Meeting last night. Tensions were high as the Kent Meridian supporters led by their PTA President Linda Novak waited to hear that their support and advocacy had made a difference to the
Board. The evening before the Board and Administrators had held a meeting that was an Open Forum for comments by all
interested parties on the remaining Capital Improvements on the District’s list that were left for completion from the original list
that was developed for the 2006 Bond that passed for those improvements. The list of improvements will all be eventually completed as they were agreed as needed and the money passed in 2006 to do just that. But with the challenging economy
the selling of Bonds at optimum price can be a tricky business. To complete all the projects at once became impossible so the
Board was left to examine all the needs and priorities and place some projects on a further out continuum. Forums and meetings
have been conducted by the School District officials to allow the public to have comments about their particular projects.
Kent Meridian High School had a large turn out for their official Forum earlier in the month. Including students, coaches,
parents, and supporters who turned out to say—they wanted their schools needs addressed now. They were tired of being put off
and being embarrassed by the condition of their gym and locker facilities. Representatives addressed the social justice and equity issues even.
The night of the Board’s forum March 23 the KM PTA was prepared. They filled the Board room with supporters. When asked by President Linda Novak, in her presentation to the Board ,would all those supporting KM please stand there was only one person
that did not stand and that person decided to join the supporters and slowly stood also. The moving testimony of all the parents,
coaches, and outside of the area representatives was extraordinary. Stand for Children spoke up. PAID spoke up in the ongoing activism of social justice in which Dale Smith has pursued. The crowning glory was the Petition presented to the School Board with over 700 signatures of the Kent Meridian Students wanting their voice to be heard. They signed in support of having the Kent Meridian Project Improvements being placed at the top of the list. This in itself was an act of Civics 101 by the students. Participating and supporting their school and asking that their Board hear their needs.
The Board responded by hearing their needs and all the needs of each school. But they agreed that Kent Meridian High School Projects did merit addressing sooner rather than later.
In the world of advocacy and letting parents and individuals see they can make a difference by being involved and showing up
and being the voice for education issues or Capital Improvements Issues or social justice issues it simply does not get any better. The supporters of KM felt their representatives heard them and acted with good business sense and with great communication sense.
That night when I walked out of that Board Meeting the Stars shown a little brighter in the Heaven and for a brief moment I felt
that all was right in this world.
Tonight at the Kent School District Office at 5:00PM you have the opportunity to learn about the five candidates that
have been selected for in-person interviews tonight from a field of eight. One will be selected to fill the open seat that
Chris Davies left in District 2. We all need to care about these important Board positions because they not only affect our
schools but our tax dollars and how they are spent. The candidates that will be interviewed are:
Take this opportunity to learn about the people making decisions about our Kids in this Community which are our most
After the interviews the Board will go into a private session and select the final candidate—they will take office March 10.
Good schools and good government takes the active involvement of the Community.
Each of us in the 47th District has the opportunity to be active participants in our children’s education and ultimately the future of Washington State today. You and I can increase Washington’s chances of winning 250 Million dollars of Federal Education money in President Obama’s : Race to the Top competition. In case you are not familiar with this Plan here is a little background
information on this issue. This is a competition between states, and the states that make the strongest reforms to education are the ones with the “BEST SHOT” at this additional funding for their State.
How do you fit into this picture—get involved today and call your two Representatives on the Washington State Education Committee:
Representative Pat Sullivan—360-786-7858
Representative Tina Orwall—360-786-7834
Tell their assistants or leave a voice message that you strongly support the Priest Amendments to SB 6696
These amendments have been initiated by Representative Skip Priest from Federal Way
They state as follows:
- Have the State design a new teacher evaluation system, instead of pushing that responsibility onto individual districts,
at a time when our districts (especially here in the KSD area) don’t have the extra money to design a new system.
- Make student growth one of the metrics in that new evaluation system
We are in critical times in this Nation’s History with our government, schools, infrastructure, and society as a whole. How it all
shakes out is going to be up to us. We have the power to make Differences by getting informed and getting involved.
Take a few minutes today and make those calls to the people we elect to have our voice heard on major education reform.
If we want to stretch our tax dollars even further you and I have to become advocates. Advocates for our Kids Future and Our
Posterity as a whole. Now get going and pick-up those phones and change the future of Education in Washington.
By now you have seen the headlines of the ruling of KC Superior Court Judge Erlick in his ruling to fully fund Education. Of course, the State has the right to appeal this ruling. In addition, this ruling carries no timeline for the Wa. State legislature to comply with the ruling. Many factors are still up in the air but it is an important ruling because it forces our legislators to begin to at least have conversations on how we are going to address these issues. It comes at our most challenging economic times. I am confident that the good people of Washington will find a way to creatively make things work more effectively for all the Kids in our State. The make up of our schools and the times have in my opinion changed so dramatically that our school system has not been able to keep up. What worked 10 years ago may not work today. We have new issues as a society to deal with and competition that is Global which never happened when I attended school. I think just like in our Politics we have to start listening to each others opinions in a more civil way and just because we have differences of opinion—not be so quick to just walk away from the table. We need to find that common link to humanity and the common good and start gearing all our policies and conversations toward it. On another Education Issue and really a health issue. Before the Rules Committee which just passed out of the House Education Committee is a Bill which would help reduce costs to Washington State in the obesity column. It is HJM 4002 and it carries no money with it. Urge the rules committee to pull it out for a vote. Your health costs and mine could benefit from it.
I look forward to an open exchange of topics and issues that I am heavily involved with from day to day. In the meantime—
Make each day matter because none of us knows how many we have. Seize the moment–
the busy Bee buzzing on the streets