Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle
ACTION, PASSION & LEADERSHIP
FOR EXCELLENT SEATTLE SCHOOLS FOR EVERY STUDENT

 
CPPS is a local, grassroots network of parents and community members working together to support and advocate for excellent public schools in our communities, and at the district, city and state levels.

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FEBRUARY, 2011
The Powers that Be... 

 

Are you overwhelmed yet?  There is so much in the news about budget cuts, impending or ongoing crisis, legislative opportunities, decisions, back and forth, sometimes it is hard to know where to put your energy.  Does it help to weigh in on the issue of the day?  Should you write your senator about a hearing or decision?  Or should the focus lie with the latest round of proposed district cuts and whether or not they affect what we consider to be educational priorities?  For a lot of us, educational advocacy is a moving target that we cede to the powers that be -- those whose job it is to deal with state, or district, or school level issues.   

 

However, I've noticed that when parents in our community can identify what about an issue is important to them, they are able to advocate in terms that really make a difference to those decision-making powers.  What is it that you really want in this time of budget shortfalls and management crises?  How do we as parents and community members focus on what's of core importance in our school systems?

 

This month, a group of concerned parents have banded together to express their concern that we preserve what Seattle Public Schools have done well to improve science education by maintaining consistent support rather than allowing priorities to shift in lean times.   

 

As well, the Washington Legislature is in session, and a number of parents have stepped up, in partnership with PTSA, League of Education Voters, Stand for Children, and other organizations, to speak out in support of the state's paramount duty and in favor of ongoing change for a stronger statewide education model. 

 

Still others are volunteering as district watchdogs, pointing out when district policies are not followed, questionable data is presented, resources are mismanaged, or information is misrepresented.  They remind us to look below the surface of education operations and call for the highest standards in how our public school system listens to and serves its public.     

 

In any of these areas, those of us who engage are stepping up to increase the impact of parent and community voices, and it is worth the effort to contribute your perspective and your desires for our schools. 

 

As CPPS develops its parent leadership training model, we want to encourage you to keep connecting and sharing the issues that matter to you.  If you want to do something, but don't quite know what or how, let us know.  You can connect via email, or on Facebook, or visit the CPPS website in about a month for more opportunities.     

 


                    HOW DO WE ENSURE THAT WE DON'T LOSE THE THINGS THAT ARE GOING WELL? 

Parents Call Out for Seattle Science

 

As parents of elementary and middle school children in Seattle Public Schools, and as professionals in fields that actively use scientific information, we are passionate about creating and sustaining excellent curriculum and practice in science.  When we hear that hard budget decisions may weaken commitments to science development in Seattle Public Schools, we are deeply concerned for our children and our community as a whole. We need consistent support of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, even in this time of substantial budget limitations, for the following reasons:

 

Science Education is important for every K-12 student  It is no longer enough for only our best and brightest to study science and engineering for the US to become more "competitive"; today, we live in a society in which every citizen encounters scientific decisions, both mundane and momentous, and most every emerging job requires a strong foundation in science.   In everything from healthcare to food production to technology, rapid advancements are changing our society in ways that require problem solving and critical thinking in everyday decision-making.

 

Seattle Public Schools has a successful science education program that engages teachers and students and impacts all levels  Our district was one of the first in Washington and the Nation to engage in systemic (whole district) science education reform at the elementary and middle levels, and its implementation has been remarkable successful.  Elementary achievement has outpaced the state average for the past 7 years, and the science writing program has motivated elementary teachers to bring scientific discussion into the broader curriculum.  Middle school performance is strengthened, and most encouraging, the students in low-SES schools are making the greatest gains - essentially closing the achievement gap in science with respect to the state average.   Let's not lose this momentum!

 

Continued progress requires continued investment

We know from experience and research that professional development is key to teachers' success in teaching science.  Should professional development be seen as an "extra" or science not be a visible priority in the strategic plan, our children citywide will lose.

        Science coaching provides professional development which enables teachers to effectively understand and teach science using district materials such as science kits.   Coaches help teachers who lack a strong college science background bridge this gap.  This training is essential. We must find a way to sustain it.

        Grants and Fundraising keep funds coming to Seattle Public Schools. We need people dedicated to seeking out and generating these funds to provide resources so our students can succeed.

        STEM skill investment is crucial to a competitive society. We are not only failing our children, but our region and nation, by not ensuing our kids have the skills they need to succeed. We will continue to have to outsource jobs if we can't train our own kids to do the work on which our region depends.

 

What to do?  Because of current and anticipated budget crises, we cannot expect the district to continue its support for science education at its current levels.  However, we should expect the district's commitment to make and communicate science as a visible priority so that when funds do become available, science will be near the top of the list.

 

As parents and educators deeply committed to STEM skills, we urge the greater Seattle community to find funds to help Seattle Public Schools maintain quality science education at all levels.  We want to let district policy and decision makers know that we think science education is important for all of today's K-12 students.

 

So what can you do?  To start, sign up to join Seattle Science   

We will use this site to gather interested, supportive parents and community members for advocacy and action for continued science support.  If you work in a STEM field, consider inviting school board members or to your place of work to see career opportunities for today's students.  Finally, contact your school board members and district administrators to let them know how many of us strongly support science education as a priority in Seattle.    

 

Thank you,

Sharon London, Olympic View Elementary Parent/PTA Science Chair

Sara Waterman, M.D. TOPS K-8/Washington Middle School Parent

Sandra Eshleman, PSS Harborview and John Muir Elementary Parent/PTA Board Member

Mindy Anne Terence, Loyal Heights Elementary Parent

Harriet Bakken, Washington Middle School Parent/PTA Board Member

Claire Horner-Devine, Ph.D., Preschool Parent

Hector Rovira, Loyal Heights Elementary Parent


                                                                  CALENDAR

Learn, Review, Participate!

 

Wednesday, March 2nd, 6:30 - 8:00pm

LEV Speaker Series Presents Wendy Kopp, Founder and CEO of Teach for America

MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) 2700 24th Ave E

 

RSVP to hear Ms. Kopp's view on education transformation and what it will take.  

 

Until Friday, March 4th...

Review Middle School Language Arts Materials  

John Stanford Center Professional Library, 2445 3rd Ave. S  
Materials being considered will be on display until Friday, March 4th.  Individuals will have a chance to give input on what they see and this input will then be reviewed by the LA Adoption Committee.

 

Saturday March 12th, 9:30 - 2:00pm 

Seattle Public Schools Family Symposium 

Ballard High School, 1418 NW 65th St.

 

Don't miss this day of workshops, networking and above all, Supporting your Student's Success CPPS is a co-sponsor and presenter at this event with workshops on Science, Math Literacy Advanced Learning, Special Education, College Readiness, Parent Advocacy, Arts and Pre-K ... and more!

 

Community Resource Fair, child activities, transportation & light lunch provided. More Information   

 

March 15-April 16 Open Enrollment  

at the John Stanford Center, 2445 3rd Ave. S  

Register students new to Seattle Public Schools, changing levels, or choosing options or non-local assignment schools

NELA: Center for Student Success College Planning Webcasts - Register   More info 

FREE Online College Planning Workshops are every Wednesday at 6pm. Most are no longer than an hour.  You will need  INTERNET access and a telephone for a toll free call. Contact Jenn Bowman with questions at 1-877-635-2669.

Understanding Financial Aid Packages

March 2nd-6:00 pm

March 23rd-6:00 pm


    SPEAK UP FOR BETTER EDUCATION IN WA STATE  Check Out the LEV 2011 Citizen's Report Card!

From The League of Education Voters (LEV)

 

The LEV Foundation recently released its

2011 Citizens' Report Card on Washington State Education  

which finds that our state is doing a mediocre job of preparing students for college and the job market.

 

Since our last Report Card in 2009, our state passed historic education policy to help us catch up and compete with the rest of the nation. These reforms include changing the way teachers and principals are evaluated to revising our high school graduation requirements.

 

While all of this is good news, the downside is what we learned about our own state's readiness and commitment to improving achievement for all kids - we still don't measure up when it comes to the fundamentals.

 

The 2011 Report Card shows that our reading scores have flatlined. We are near the bottom of national rankings for college-going, we are one of nine states where the achievement gap is actually growing, and our graduation rates are in the bottom third, and a full 18 points behind the national leader.

 

Education is our state's paramount duty. Clearly, our students need help from parents, educators and school advocates to hold our lawmakers accountable to their number one priority.

 

What can you do?  Write a letter - let your legislators  know what you're thinking!  For more information, contact the League of Education Voters  

 


                                                   BUDGETS AND CRISIS 

What Do We Do Now?

 

We know we're in a tight budget situation, proposed cuts look likely to significantly impact schools and programs, some ideas have been floated, revised, and now -- management concerns that give the community pause -- how can we trust Seattle Public Schools' leadership to effectively maintain the focus on student needs and school performance?

We welcome your thoughts -- what would you like to see the district do now? 
Through forums, study groups, newsletter communications and more, CPPS brings parents and community members together to discuss issues, get informed, engage, advocate and lead for excellent public education in Seattle.  

We need your participation.  Contact us for more info: contact@cppsofseattle.org 
Sincerely,


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