Postings for May 2012

Whooping cough epidemic in Washington statePertussis cases skyrocket
Whooping cough is now an epidemic in Washington state. According to Secretary of Health Mary Selecky, 640 cases have been reported in 23 counties as of March. This is the highest number of cases in decades. There were 94 cases reported during the same period last year.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing, is particularly dangerous for infants because they can’t be immunized before they are 4 to 6 weeks old. Infants often get the illness from adults or other family members.

Health officials recommend that anyone who has contact with newborns and infants be vaccinated or, if they have been vaccinated, to make sure their vaccination is up to date. The whooping cough booster is called Tdap. For information, go to

More cuts for Seattle schools
Susan Enfield, interim superintendent for Seattle Public Schools, announced recently that the district’s budget gap for next year is projected to be about $22 million. “This comes after several years of budget shortfalls,” she explains in a report. Seattle Public Schools has lost $46 million in state revenue over the past three years.

The budget cuts will be less than those over the past several years, Enfield says. The total reduction will be about $1 million, compared to last year’s reduction of more than $8 million, and more than $3 million from the year before.

School improvements? Where?
Our government is spending $3 billion to help school districts around the country improve their worst-performing schools.

Is the effort working around our state? Not so much, according to University of Washington researchers who studied schools in Washington state that receive School Improvement Grants (SIG). They found most of these schools are failing to make aggressive reforms.

“With some exceptions, districts and schools in Washington state are approaching the turnaround work in ways only marginally different from past school improvement efforts,” states the report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education. “Despite the hard work of administrators, principals, and especially teachers, the majority of schools studied show little evidence of the type of bold and transformative changes the SIGs were intended to produce.”

Treasure your teacher?
Ivar’s and Kidd Valley restaurants are asking kindergarten through eighth-grade students (up to 14 years old) to nominate their favorite teacher for a chance to win the title of 2012 Teacher of the Year. The contest is in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7–11; National Teachers Day is May 8).

Ivar’s and Kidd Valley will each select a teacher as a grand prize winner, who will win a $500 gift card for school supplies. The nominating student of each grand prize winner will receive either a classroom chowder party or a Kidd Valley burger party.

To nominate a teacher, visit any Puget Sound-area Ivar’s or Kidd Valley location (excluding stadiums), or go to and click the Happenings link or and click the Calendar link. Entries must be in by May 20.

Speaking of teachers . . .
The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher reports that, while parents are taking a greater role in their kids’ education, parent involvement remains a challenge. The quality of parent participation declines from elementary to middle to high school, according to the study.

“Parents report that schools with high parent engagement perform better on a range of measures, including collaboration, sharing information, contacting parents about learning issues, providing guidance on helping students succeed, and being flexible to meet with parents at different times of the day,” the survey says

The good news? Two-thirds of today’s students report that they talk about things that happen at school with their parents every day.

             —Linda Morgan

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