School Board

Only the school board can get Civics for All adopted:

The SPS School Board is the essential group in getting the Civics for All Initiative adopted.  Board members are THE only elected, representative voice of the public in the school system.  They play a crucial role in leading our district and district staff in curriculum and instruction adoptions like Civics for All.

Working Towards Unanimous Support for Civics for All!

Current Seattle School Board Directors Supporters (Dec. 2015)

Sue Peters, Seattle School Board Director, District 4

Leslie Harris, Seattle School Board Dir., District 6

Jill Geary, Seattle School Board Dir., District 3

Rick Burke, Seattle School Board Dir., District 2

Scott Pinkham, Seattle School Board Dir., District 1

Betty Patu, Seattle School Board Dir., District 5

Uncommitted:

Stefan Blanford, Seattle School Board Dir., District 7

Exciting news:  All four of the four new school members have all publicly committed to getting CFA adopted for the 2016-2017 school year!

The path to adoption of Civics for All:

Micro-level:  With unanimous support among the three board members on the Curriculum and Instruction Committee (C & I Comm.), the board can build support and momentum for adoption with the Superintendent and key SPS C & I members, including  Michael Tolley,  Asst. Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, and Shauna Heath, Ex. Dir. of Curriculum and Instruction.   Before the 2015 SB election, SB C & I members were Marty McClaren, Sue Peters, and Stefan Blanford.

Macro-level: Unanimous and unified support from the 7 member board is essential to getting Civics for All adopted.  The initiative has had great support on the date so far from directors McClaren, Peters, and Peaslee and has been publicly endorsed by 2015 SB candidates Geary, McGuire, Harris, and Burke.

 Administrative Advantages of CFA Adoption

The Civics for All Proposal aligns almost seamlessly with the district’s strategic plan

Seattle School District Strategic Plan: Goals for 2013-2018 

1)      Ensure Educational Excellence and Equity for Every Student

2)      Improve Systems Districtwide to Support Academic Outcomes & Meet Students’ Needs

3)      Strengthen School, Family and Community Engagement

Goal One:  Civics for All (CFA) seeks to eliminate the civics gap that is plaguing Seattle youth of color and lower-incomes, just as it is across the country.  In shrinking that gap, research proves that the achievement gap in academics is shrunk too.  Equity is seved in multiple ways when civics lessons are infused into our schools.  See Race & Equity page.

Goal Two: CFA offers a seamless, K-12 approach to vertically aligning the curriculum district-wide with non-didactic best-practices that support increased student engagement and academic achievement while nurturing unique student civic ideals and student voice.

Goal Three: CFA’s bedrock principle, that democracy and voting are shared community concerns, rests on abundant research showing that the infusion of civics studies, and especially mock  elections, offers administrators and schools alike an ideal tool to build connections between the classroom and the living room and to forge stronger school\ community bonds.

Civics for All Aligns with and Supports Nearly the Entire Bevy of District Initiatives:

  • CFA supports and aligns with major district Teaching and Learning initiatives, including: 1. Curriculum maps;  2. Planning backwards;  3. Danielson;  4. Common Core;  5. DBQs
  • CFA supports the MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) approach by providing curricular frameworks which offer Tier 1, 2, and 3 students to find academic challenge and success within their zones of proximal development even when heterogeneously grouped (e.g. banners provide student access to conceptual frameworks that vertically scaffold diverse learners within classrooms and across grade-levels as well)
  • CFA supports district wide work on attacking the Achievement Gap and building stronger Family and Community connections between schools and families, especially in South Seattle schools.
  • CFA provides equity district-wide for all students at all schools in the arts of civics and citizenship.

CFA Builds Bridges

  • CFA emphasizes teaching “civics across the curriculum,” mirroring and extending prior district initiatives on teaching literacy and math across the curriculum.
  • CFA elections and related activities build bridges between the classroom and the living room, between schools and the communities in which they are found
  • CFA builds bridges between teachers and academic disciplines, thereby cutting down the “silo effect” between classes and grades and increasing administrative influence and curricular control on a system-wide and city-wide basis.
  • CFA aligns perfectly with and supports implementation of the Common Core (SS)for secondary social studies reading and writing expectations.
  • CFA aligns with and supports the District’s Instructional Services Department current work on Curriculum Alignment in the social studies, as well as science and all core subjects.
  • CFA facilitates work with the Common Core in non-social studies courses with ease.
  • CFA promotes use of non-fiction civics texts which social studies starved elementary school teachers crave. This is an area of enormous opportunity: using more civics texts in alignment with the Common Core Standards at the elementary level could really boost student engagement and, consequently, achievement.
  • CFA aligns with and steps ahead of the federal government’s likely adoption of civics requirements attached to Race to the Top funds.

CFA will be a PR boon for the Seattle School District and will build good will city-wide — it has been absolutely embraced by the city of Seattle

  • CFA helps the district respond to and frame problems as civic opportunities to grow and facilitates honest AND productive classroom, school-level and district level conversations about difficult topics in our schools and democracy — e.g. recent press releases about district problems with racially disproportionate discipline and with the race curriculum
  • CFA helps fill the character education gap in our District’s strategic plan, towit: because CFA provides for recursive analysis of the civic virtues (like the Common Good, civic duty, tolerance, honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness,  patriotism, etc.) via intentional use of Essential Civics Questions, students receive opportunities for growth in character and values development that is embedded in coursework and not simply forced upon them. 
  • CFA provides a common instructional language for the entire school staff. Further, since civics is the language of values and ethics, CFA provides schools with new tools to encourage and enforce civility on campus.
  • CFA views the inter-marrying of all disciplines with content, like civics, as essential to build the cognitive connectivity that marks life in the 21st century. This wholistic approach benefits students, teachers, and administrators alike because civics/politics connections are the building blocks for great citizenship, both in school and after graduation.
  • CFA promotes increased participation, especially for at risk and/or minority pupils in student government and extra-curriculars; this can improve school climate, lower discipline problems, and increase academic achievement for all students.
  • CFA facilitates productive scaffolding between disciplines and grades. The timeless tensions it addresses can be addressed at the most fundamental level by a first grader and at the deepest level by a 12th grader. This is crucial because the fluidity of civics/politics topics allows kids at all skill levels to achieve a certain amount of success throughout their academic career.

Alignment with National Assessments and Skill Set Emphases:

  • Civics for All is “Civics in the Core” because civics studies align so smoothly with the coming Common Core State Standards‘ emphasis on distilling argumentative claims from non-fiction texts.
  • Civics for All aligns directly with and will facilitate student success on the “New SAT,” which is slowly aligning with the Core and will emphasize America’s founding documents and current events analysis for the first time in the history of the test.
  • Civics for All cultivates“21st Century Skills,” Including: Creative and Critical Thinking,  Communication Skills, Collaboration skills, Growth Mindset and Perseverance

 

Common Concerns/Reservations About New Adoptions Like Civics for All:

  • Time:
    1. School Board Time crunch: Members feel overwhelmed with all the other agenda items/plans/adoptions/work on the docket –
    2. Classroom/school day time crunch: Is there time for mock elections and Civics for All in our time stressed school days?
    3. JSCEE Administration and School Board Efficacy – District Adoption policies can be lengthy, cumbersome, and prohibitive for some curricula – see policy here
  • Politics:
    1. Political capital: Is pushing for Civics for All the wisest use of school board and school board members’ capital with SPS administration?
    2. The Seattle Process:
  • Alignment: How well does Civics for All align with other district programs and agendas? Quite well indeed!
    1. Seattle School District  Strategic Plan: Goals for  2013-2018
    2. Common Core
    3. Restorative justice
    4. Testing issues –
    5. Academic disproportionality –
    6. Major district Teaching and Learning initiatives, including: 1. Curriculum maps;  2. Planning backwards;  3. Danielson;  4. Common Core;  5. DBQs — CFA supports and aligns with all of these
    7. Multi-Tiered Systems of Support — CFA supports the MTSS
    8. Curriculum Alignment
    9. Vertically and laterally integrated curriculum
    10. Arts Initiative
    11. Achievement Gap
    12. Character education
    13. Pre-K
    14. Writing across the curriculum
    15. 21st Century Thinking Skills – P21 Framework
    16. Parent and community engagement
    17. Job and Career Readiness

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Brief Answers and Links Addressing:

Common Concerns/Reservations About New Adoptions Like Civics for All

 Time:

    1. School Board Time crunch: Members feel overwhelmed with all the other agenda items/plans/adoptions/work on the docket
    2. JSCEE Administration Efficacy and Expediency
      1. There are tremendous gains/advantages for administration with CFA– click here
    3. Classroom/school day time crunch: Is there time for mock elections and Civics for All in our time stressed school days?
      1. Absolutely. Many schools already do mock elections – I’ve run them before and K-12 social studies curriculum standards and requirements all require multiple CBAs, with civics as a choice for all of them. time exists for the elections and 3 CBAs per year
  • Politics:
    1. Political capital: Is pushing for Civics for All the wisest use of school board and school board members’ capital with SPS administration?
      1. Again, Civics for All is a wildly popular proposal (see all orgs and individuals on Supporters page), esp. with parent groups– the number one constituency for administrative staff as well as the board!
      2. It is a way to forge positive alliances and build bridges between all stakeholders, not just the board and admin., but also teachers, race equity leaders, civics experts, etc.
    2. The Seattle Process:
      1. The work of the Seattle Process has mostly all been done – stakeholders across the city have already considered and committed to it – they love it. Civics for All could and should be adopted in such positive, smooth manner that is a rebuke to the stalling delays that characterize the worst of the Seattle Process!

Alignment: Civics for All aligns with other district programs and agendas

  1. Seattle School District  Strategic Plan: Goals for  2013-2018
  2. Common Core
    1. CFA promotes use of non-fiction civics texts which social studies starved elementary school teachers crave. This is an area of enormous opportunity: using more civics texts in alignment with the Common Core Standards at the elementary level could really boost student engagement and, consequently, achievement.
    2. Civics for All is “Civics in the Core” because civics studies align so smoothly with the coming Common Core State Standards‘ emphasis on distilling argumentative claims from non-fiction texts.
  3. Restorative justice – CFA aligns directly with the crucial objectives of the restorative justice movement, e.g.: eliminating disproportionality in discipline, academic achievement, empowering student voice, etc.  Further, like restorative justice, Civics for All offers improved understandings about these issues by building bridges between students, schools, families, and the community.
  4. Testing issues – CFA might help engage our youth in age appropriate discussions about standardized testing, including the SAT, because CFA will facilitate student success on the “New SAT,”  which is slowly aligning with the Core and now emphasizes America’s founding documents and current events (media literacy) analysis for the first time in the history of the test (Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation).
  5. Academic disproportionality –
    1. CFA promotes increased participation, especially for at risk and/or minority pupils in student government and extra-curriculars; this can improve school climate, lower discipline problems, and increase academic achievement for all students.
    2. CFA helps make the Common Core accessibleto kids of color, helping to eliminate the savage inequities in civics education and across the K-12 system.
    3. Evidence for civics efficacy in this domain is unimpeachable – see Race & Equity page and research.

Alignment with other domains:

  1. CFA supports and aligns with major district Teaching and Learning initiatives, including: 1. Curriculum maps;  2. Planning backwards;  3. Danielson;  4. Common Core;  5. DBQs
  2. CFA supports the MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support)
  3. Vertically integrated curriculum – see “Promotion of the K-12 “spiral curriculum”
  4. Curriculum Alignment – CFA aligns with and supports the District’s Instructional Services Department current work on Curriculum Alignment in the social studies, as well as science and all core subjects.
  5. Middle school social studies adoption (2015) – CFA aligns perfectly with the content selections and especially the dispositions and skills emphasized e.g. “Reading Like a Historian,” which Kathleen Vasquez, SPS Lit. and SS manager rightfully calls “disciplinary literacy.” “Reading Like a Historian” is the brain-child of former UW Ed. prof. Sam Wineburg, and is central to the CFA approach to sorting out facts and arguments in historical/political frameworks.
  6. Arts Initiative – arts media and civics align wonderfully
  7. Achievement Gap – see Harvard article
  8. Character education because CFA provides for recursive analysis of the civic virtues (like the Common Good, civic duty, tolerance, honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness,  patriotism, etc.) via intentional use of Essential Civics Questions, students receive opportunities for growth in character and values development that is embedded in coursework and not simply forced upon them. Harvard University reportsthat a staggering “85% of parents want schools to teach values.”
  9. Pre-K – TBD
  10. Writing across the curriculum see Common Core
  11. 21st Century Thinking Skills – P21 Framework
    1. e.g. Learning, Literacy, and Life Skills, including: Critical Thinking, Media Literacy, Leadership, etc.
  12. Parent and community engagement – click here