Category Archives: Subjects

Future of Math in Seattle Schools: Will Singapore Prevail?

This is a Call to Action to Share Your Singapore Math Story

This is a critical time to voice your personal support for Singapore – Math in Focus to the Seattle School Board. Schmitz Park Elementary staff, teachers, parents, and the PTA board all agree that a Singapore Math program is the best possible curriculum for our kids—and over the last 7 years our kids math scores prove it. Please contact the School Board and tell them why you believe Singapore – Math in Focus is the right choice for your child.

What’s at stake?

The School Board is voting this Wednesday, June 4th, on which math curriculum will be adopted for all K-5 Schools over the next seven years. Now is the time to put all of our efforts into influencing the vote. We only have time for one last effort to reach School Board Directors and ask them to vote for Singapore – Math in Focus.

How did we get here?

During the Math Adoption Committee’s process, a Public Input period occurred and the results from parents were overwhelmingly in favor of Math in Focus. Schmitz Park Principal, Mr. Gerrit Kischner, our teachers, Schmitz Park PTA, and parents have each stated the same, over and over again. Our collective public opinion was not factored into the recommendation. Since then, more and more parents and schools are coming forward saying they want Singapore – Math in Focus as the preferred math curriculum across the District. What’s more, Seattle schools and Singapore Math advocates have challenged this recommendation. Fortunately, Singapore Math in Schmitz Park Elementary still remains a viable option. After the initial School Board recommendation, School Director McClaren submitted an amended Board Action Report which was co-sponsored by Director Sue Peters, outlining a “dual adoption” to provide schools a choice between enVision OR Math in Focus (Singapore). This amendment may be at risk, facing a potential legal challenge. Now, a new amendment is also in consideration which asks the School Board to adopt Math in Focus as a sole curriculum.

Here are Five Good Reasons why Singapore – Math in Focus is the Right Choice:

  1. Test Scores Prove It – Of Schmitz Park’s 70 graduating 5th graders, 51% will or are likely to bypass 6th grade math after 2014 Spring MAP Scores. (A score of 235+ qualifies recommended students to enter 7th grade math and 27 students scored 235+. A score of 228-234 qualifies a student to take the middle school placement test to confirm they will advance to 7th grade math. Nine students scored 228-234.) Of STEM at Boren’s 36 graduating 5th graders, 81% will or are likely to bypass 6th grade math after review of the 2014 Spring MAP Scores. (27 students scored 235+, two scored 228-234.)
  2. Buy- In: Schools Approve It – Singapore Math has backing from elementary schools (and middle and high schools) across the district. It was chosen 7 years ago as a “supplementary” curriculum by SPS. The problem was “supplementary” did not come with any district support in the form of professional development or materials for students. Buy in from parents is not easy to achieve and here is an example of where it is only growing, yet, SPS is ready to dismiss it. Read Testimonials.
  3. Anyone Can Learn It – Math in Focus is language neutral, ensuring “Equity for EVERY Student”. In contrast, the enVision curriculum is text heavy and will continue to present an English language barrier for ELL students. Children of ethnicity comprise 62% of the district (Bilingual children (ELL) have a 38% proficiency rate). Increasing their proficiency rates requires a program that has proven success for students struggling with text intensive math programs. Math in Focus would “Improve systems District wide to Support Academic Outcomes”, which has been proven by Schmitz Park Math scores and K5 Stem at Boren scores.
  4. Student Mobility-Consitency – There is frequent student mobility in the Southern sections of our district, where students may transfer in and out of Seattle Schools with the Highline School District. Highline uses Math in Focus and has achieved such strong results they are extending their curriculum to their middle schools. Math consistency during a transition into the Seattle School District will help make school transition easier for students.
  5. Teacher’s and Principal’s TestimonialsRead the testimonials made by teachers and parents who feel strongly about Singapore Math. There is a reason Singapore Math was selected at our newest Science, Technology, Mathematics & Engineering (STEM) School. There is a reason Schmitz Park Elementary achieves high middle school placement scores year over year.

Please Share Your Story on How Singapore Math has Benefited Your Student

Do not think for a moment that someone else will, or can, share your perspective. Every person (parent, student, teacher, principal, community member) needs to share their opinion on what is best for our students and families. School Board Members

School District Staff

For quick reference, these are the email addresses to cut and paste into your response;;; ; ; ;;; ; Shauna Heath ; ;

Schmitz Park PTA math adoption letter sparks advocate discussion

A letter from Schmitz Park PTA President Jeff Rayner and Capacity Chair Emily Giaquinta to the school board got picked up and reposted to the Seattle Schools Community Forum. To-date it has prompted 55 comments, including some very detailed and thoughtful analysis. This is good reading for members looking to learn more about what others are thinking on math adoption.

Seattle Schools Community Forum has five years of posts referring to Schmitz Park and Schmitz Park PTA.


Volunteer Positions – we need you!

Are you ready to help lead our Schmitz Park community and continue a legacy of great parent involvement? We’re looking for parents that have the knowledge and drive to continue to make great things to happen at Schmitz Park.  The PTA Nominating Committee is now accepting nominations for:

  • PTA Board Officers = Help determine PTA direction; voted in; meet 1x per month for PTA board, and 1x per month for General PTA meeting
  • Open Chair Positions = Oversee particular events and activities; not voted in;  only attend relevant meetings
  • Other = Help the above where possible; not voted in;  no meeting requirements

If you are interested in nominate yourself (or someone you know!), please contact Jeff Rayner at

Proposed PTA Board Members 2014/15 (Voted-in)

PresidentGuide the PTA board to ensure you are meeting your PTA’s goals and fulfilling PTA’s missionJoe Turcotte
Vice PresidentServe as president elect of SP PTA, support president in running PTA meetings as needed. Support other SP commitees as needed, identify needs for new initiatives as needed.Robert Kelly
SecretaryThe secretary is responsible for keeping an accurate record of the proceedings of association meetings. These records are the permanent history of the PTA. Promptness, accuracy, and knowledge of PTA policies are key to this job. The secretary should be committed to helping the president conduct a businesslike meetingAlyse HuffordAlyse Hufford
TreasurerUnderstand the status of current fundraising activities, what money is available to be spent versus what is owed, and the bylaws as they relate to the treasurer’s responsibilities. Tom Boyer (roll over)
Vice Treasurer Serve as Treasurer elect, support Treasurer in running financials as needed. Michelle Wonder (appointed)
LegislativeTrack issues that affect the SP community at the district, local state and national levels. Frame issues and decision points for PTA and larger SP community. Create and execute action plans to support PTA positions on issuesEmily Giaquinta & Angela Cough
FundraisingOversee Moveathon, One Campaign and support auction leads. Develop and lead volunteer commitee to support activitiesLorie Bennett & Derek Birnie
CommunicationsCreate content and share across communications vehicles to engage SP community in PTA activities. Manage SP PTA blog, social media accounts and web pages on SPS site.Cheri Libby

Proposed Other Members 2014/15 (non voted-in, including Chairs)


  • Standing roles = year round
  • Special roles = event based positions on an ad hoc (as-needed) basis
Auction Co-ChairHelp coordinate the auctionRob Kelly
Auction ChairHelp coordinate the auctionPam Linxweiler
Bike RodeoOversee this fun event near the end of the school year
CapacityKeep up-to-date on the new school at Genessee Hill and associated issuesEmily Giaquinta
Communications - blog managerKeep our blog as up to date as possible, as this will be our main source of information for parents and the community
Communications - FacebookKeep our FB postings up to date and link them to the blogAnita Lavine
Communications - signageEnsure our main signs reflect the current PTA activities and eventsLorie Bennett, Fiona Preedy
Communications - SPS websiteEnsure the official website through the PTA is maintained and references the PTA blog where appropriateLorie Bennett, Fiona Preedy
Give BackOversee the GiveBack campaign, work with local businesses and support procurement activitiesJeff Rayner
Membership Recruitment of members, lead member engagement and benefitsJeff Rayner
Move-A-ThonOversee the MATKara Centioli, Jodie Bennett
PassportAssist with ensuring our Passport program is running as neededJen Watt
ProcurementHelp garner conversations and donations from local businessesAthena Fjeld, Melissa Pederssen
Parent EducationWork with teachers, PTA board and blog manager to ensure educational content is relevant and helpful. Also assists with once a year events like Math Night
Schmitzville Festival Oversee this once a year eventKatie Hamilton, Jodie Bennett
Systems/Data Assess needs, implement and manage systems and software to manage SP PTA data accross functions including membership, finance, fundraising and others

– See more at:

Important decisions made at May 15th PTA meeting

Thanks to the many members who attended Thursday night’s important member meeting or provided helpful input in advance on the historic decisions to be made! The full set of minutes will be ready soon, but as these decisions will affect us all and there is important work to be done, we thought a topline summary would be in order.
Math curriculum: As previously posted, after six years of investment in Singapore Math by Schmitz Park faculty, students, and parents, we are on the verge of having to adopt a different math curriculum, enVisionMath; a curriculum that many see as a step backward for our students.  By unanimous vote, the members at the meeting adopted a resolution calling on the School Board to protect and support our investment in Singapore Math.  
We also agreed to request the school board directors to consider the following alternatives:

  1. Reject the Math Adoption Committee’s recommendation of enVision and adopt Math in Focus as the new K-5 Math Curriculum.
  2. Approve a Dual-Adoption giving schools the choice to implement enVision – OR – Math in Focus
  3. Amend Policy No. 2020 on the Waiver of Basic Instructional Materials to allow Schmitz Park and other schools using, or desiring to use, a Singapore Math-based curriculum like Math in Focus to ensure funding will be provided from the district to support an approved alternative math curriculum.
PS as you can see, we are suggesting that SchmitzPark adopt Math in Focus, not Singapore Math.  However, MiF is a Singapore based Math program, merely tweaked to the American system, aligned with Common Core Standards, and with refreshed teaching and learning materials.
Budget: The members energetically discussed the budget proposal (posted previously here). One change was adopted to increase the contingency funding in the event that it becomes necessary for the Schmitz Park PTA to pay the full price of the Math in Focus curriculum (a $20,000 increase authorized). Then, after vigorous discussion, the members voted unanimously to adopt a budget of $320,000. The members further voted to develop a fundraising plan that addresses the one-time $80,000 expense that the curriculum represents.
Stay tuned for the full minutes and for specific ways you can help us meet the policy and budget goals that these decisions require.

Excellence in Math – future in question

Seattle Public Schools will adopt a new math curriculum for the 2014-2015 school year. The Math Adoption Committee reviewed the final 3 programs and will recommend envision as the program to implement.

Rick Burke, a Math Adoption Committee Member states in his post at Save Seattle Schools, “Although the public feedback clearly favored Math in Focus, the program ranking [was] based on the CCSS-based evaluation criteria. MIF, following the Singapore framework, was noticeably advanced compared to the CCSS topic pacing. “

Thanks to years of commitment from Schmitz Park faculty and PTA support, Schmitz Park’s proven use of Singapore Math Curriculum has our kids entering middle school with a solid understanding of math. They are consistently at an advantage over non-Singapore math students in their grasp of the curriculum.

What did it take to make this happen? First, the school leadership, with PTA support, successfully lobbied the school district to grant a waiver, to give the school permission to use a different curriculum. Second, PTA supporters contributed over $180,000 over the past several years to pay for the curriculum and materials.

Next steps? If the school board adopts the recommendation, we will be faced with two choices:

  1. Use the school district’s new math curriculum, and risk leaving our legacy of excellence in math behind
  2. Go through the process of lobbying the district for another waiver, and raise $30,000 a year (plus a one-time $30,000 fee in the first year) to provide our own curriculum again

We need your help now to continue our legacy of excellence! Help us convince the school board of the importance of our tradition. Here’s how:

Marty McLaren
MS 11-010
PO Box 34165
Seattle, WA 98124-1165

Let us know you are taking action, and stay in touch as this issue develops. Send a message to PTA Legislative Chair Derek Birnie.

Seattle Times Covers Common Core Standards

Get up to speed on one of the most sweeping changes to U.S. education in the last decade. Last Sunday, The Seattle Times published an article detailing Common Core Standards. This after the stellar presentation by Schmitz Park teachers on Common Core Standards, at the February PTA Meeting. Find out more about what children should know at each grade. Read the article.

Washington State Common Core Standards

PTA Meeting: Common Core is the Theme

Come join us Thursday, February 27th at 6:30pm for our monthly PTA Meeting where we still start promptly to cover Common Core Standards and then move on to our regular PTA agenda.

Some of the Hot Topics include:

  • What are the Common Core State Standards?
  • Why do we need them?
  • How will they impact my child’s education?
  • Why are they only focused on math and Language Arts?
  • Will it change the way teachers teach?
  • How will students be assessed?

We are lucky to have guest speakers including:

  • Ms. Cochran, Math specialist
  • Ms. Veling, First Grade teacher
  • Ms. Addington-Ferris, Fourth grade teacher
  • Ms. Minkin, Assistant Principal

More information on Common Core Standards.

Enrichment Programs Still Available

After School Enrichment Opportunities and Early Dismissal Camps are Still Available

Schmitz Park Enrichment ProgramsEarly Dismissal Camps – Art Wizards and Jump Rope are being offered to families for January 15th. More information about the Art Wizards class is here.

To register, download and fill out the registration form, or pick up a paper copy in the office. Because of the quick turnaround, registrations will processed as received and confirmations will be available as quickly as possible upon receipt.

Beginning Guitar on Tuesdays – We have room for students of any age in our Beginning Guitar class on Tuesdays. Please contact Fiona if you are interested and send in the registration form to the office.

5th Grade STEM Class Opportunity – 5th grade classes will be receiving information about a special STEM class being offered in partnership with Boeing. The registration form is linked here, being sent home via email, or you can find it on the Before/After School web page.

Don’t forget to check out our Before/After School Page on the Schmitz Park website for forms, update and contact information, and classes calendar.

Librarian News: Visit the Schmitz Park Glog

Schmitz Park library Glog. A Glog is an online media poster that enables kids of all grades to access popular educational websites and learning tools, in an interface suited to their liking.

Our new Glog can be accessed from any computer and enables students and parents to view Seattle Public Schools databases and other links to education sites.

To visit, click here, or visit the Schmitz Park website, click on library and then library glog.  Please contact Ms. Vannini, Schmitz Park Librarian, with questions.

Happy Glogging!