by Ari Robin McKenna
Last week, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced to parents via their newsletter that the Virtual Option Pilot Program (VOPP) would be limited to kindergarten through fifth grade. Sixth to 12th graders who want virtual learning options will be given a list of suggested external virtual programs. This walked back a June 17 announcement that the VOPP would be K–12 and drew immediate criticism from the Seattle Education Association (SEA).
In a recent conversation with the Emerald, Dr. Concie Pedroza, SPS associate superintendent, cited low enrollment numbers for the K–12 pilot, the complexity of middle and high school course offerings, and resulting staffing challenges as primary factors in the district’s decision.
In an SPS student survey conducted late last school year and filled out by about half of all middle and high schoolers, 6% of the high schoolers and 7% of middle schoolers indicated they would like to continue with fully remote learning in the future.
Continue reading Citing Under-Enrollment, SPS Outsources Grade 6–12 Virtual Learning for 2021–2022
by Mark Van Streefkerk
What is your favorite family recipe? Can you remember one of the kindest things someone ever did for you? Can you tell a family story through rap lyrics? What are some things that make you, you? These are some examples of prompts from this year’s Summer of Learning program from the Seattle Public Library (SPL). The SPL’s flagship summer program for kids is now an impressive 102 years old, and this year’s program has been carefully crafted in partnership with the African American Writers’ Alliance and the Bureau of Fearless Ideas. To participate, swing by any of the SPL branches currently open for in-person or curbside service to grab your own poster-sized Summer of Learning flyer, available in eight languages. The posters are filled with creative prompts, coloring and drawing activities, and plenty of opportunities to explore, create, and share the stories that make up your world.
Continue reading SPL’s Summer of Learning Program Wants to Know, ‘What’s Your Story?’
by Carolyn Bick
Educators, school staff, and childcare providers in Washington State are now eligible to be vaccinated effective immediately.
Continue reading BREAKING: Teachers and Childcare Workers Eligible to Be Vaccinated Immediately
by Ari Robin McKenna
A few weeks ago, many members of the tight-knit staff of Campbell Hill Elementary School convened online. They felt that their community didn’t have enough information to make a fully informed decision about whether or not to send their kids back into school buildings as part of Renton School District’s (RSD) phased return to hybrid learning beginning March 3. Decisions about when and how to return to classroom instruction are especially charged in the Skyway neighborhood, where Campbell Hill is located. It is both historically underinvested in and also has higher rates of COVID-19 infections than more affluent areas of King County. The potential of another COVID-19 spike and the resulting community death toll weigh heavily on the district’s decision to return, as do concerns about upended classes and the “learning drift” of breaking away from the virtual educational experience some teachers have worked so hard to provide.
Continue reading After Learning Details, Families Turn Away From In-Person Learning at Skyway School
by Ari Robin McKenna
This week, the Seattle Public School (SPS) District and the Seattle Education Association (SEA) resumed bargaining about when the return to in-person education for pre-K to first grade — as well as students enrolled in moderate to intensive special education service pathways — will happen and what it will look like. In a pandemic month that also featured a failed coup and the inauguration of our country’s first Black, Asian, and female vice president, SPS has already seen a school board member abruptly resign and the staff of a South End elementary school announce that they will refuse to return to in-person learning until it’s safe for their community to do so. With pressure mounting to reopen SPS as soon as possible and bargaining already strained, there is mounting evidence that suggests white families stand to benefit more and that their communities will face fewer impacts from a return to in-person learning.
In a Facebook message posted on Jan. 7, SPS board representative Eden Mack announced her resignation. Mack, who represents District 4 (which includes the neighborhoods of Magnolia, Queen Anne, and Southern Ballard) mentioned a “dysfunctional culture” and also stated, “The massive gap between the true cost of providing basic education in an urban school district and what the State provides is not imaginary.” Mack then went on to ask the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) of the state of Washington for an “intervention.”
Continue reading As Seattle Public Schools Negotiates Some In-Person Classes Resuming, Equity Questions Loom
by Ben Adlin
Classrooms will be empty next month when Seattle public schools kick off an unprecedented school year, with nearly all learning set to happen remotely. For a local nonprofit that pairs hundreds of Seattle students with one-on-one reading tutors, that’s meant figuring how to bring in-person lessons to the virtual realm.
“It is us taking our evidence-based curriculum and digitizing it, and creating a safe and secure platform online,” said Cassy McKee, executive director of the Seattle chapter of Reading Partners, a national nonprofit that in years past has brought books and volunteer tutors to reading rooms at elementary schools that serve low-income families, including Rising Star Elementary in South Beacon Hill.
Things screeched to a halt in March, when the coronavirus pandemic closed schools, but since then the organization has steadily reopened remotely. It’s launched an online library of books and adopted a new translation app to better communicate with families, and this fall it will boot up an online version of its one-on-one tutoring sessions.
Continue reading In-School Reading Program Will Shift Its Tutoring Program Online