Cliff Mass Article Regarding Seattle School Math Textbooks

I was looking at Cliff Mass’s website for storm info, and came across this article:

Many of you know that I feel strongly about math education and work closely with a group called wheresthemath.com. As a UW professor I have seen declined math abilities of incoming students, and some students can’t follow their dreams of a meteorological career because of poor high school math backgrounds. And my own children have suffered from poor textbooks and math curricula.

The Seattle School District will be making a landmark decision on Wednesday for the selection of high school math texts. Their review panel (which didn’t have a single mathematician or technical professional from the community) is favoring a terrible textbook series (Discovering Algebra and Geometry), which fosters the same “discovery” or “reform” approach that has done so much damage during the past several years. Their second choice (Prentice Hall Algebra and Geometry) is quite good. The Seattle School Board should reject the Discovering Math series if it is to insure Seattle students will get a decent math education. The School Board was split in the last meeting, and they need to hear from concerned citizens before the Wednesday gathering.

I have prepared a youtube video on the subject ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n340ROI8uYc&;;;feature=channel_page) and more information is available at www.wheresthemath.com. Please let them know how you feel (emails of school board members below). And those of you outside of Seattle will also be affected if the largest school district in the state goes the wrong way. Thanks for listening…cliff

School Board Directors:
Michael DeBell – [email protected]
Sherry Carr – [email protected]
Harium Martin-Morris – [email protected]
Peter Maier – [email protected]
Cheryl Chow – [email protected]
Steve Sundquist – [email protected]
Mary Bass – mary.b[email protected]

>http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2009/05/seattles-big-math-decision.html

Rainier Valley Post Running Great Poem about the CD

Is there significance to the youtube that shows up on the Rainier Valley Post frontpage — for some time now?  >http://www.rainiervalleypost.com/

It’s a great performance poem.  By a really good poet.  Just disconcerting to see it when I go looking for info about our neighbors to the south.  Are we not doing our job up here? 

“Central District” Laura ‘Piece’ Kelly >http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y12kdn00Vwc

Say What?

From the Seattle Times Blotter:

March 23, 2009 7:35 PM

Girl, 14, says boys asked for sex and stole her cellphone

Posted by John de Leon

 — From Times staff reporter Christine Clarridge:

A 14-year-old Garfield High School student called police last week to report that four boys took her cellphone after she refused to give them oral sex or money, according to a Seattle police report.

According to the March 19 report, the girl said she was standing on the second floor directly across from the library when the four 15- and 16-year-old boys approached her and asked her for money or sex. When she refused, they grabbed her cellphone and took it into the boys’ restroom. When she followed them in to retrieve the phone, they boys again made lewd requests.

The girl refused again and the boys left the restroom with her cellphone. She followed them out and continued to try to get her phone.

One of the boys eventually reached into her pocket, took $10, a lip balm and kept the phone. The boys then left the area and the girl told them that she would call her mother and the police.

School officials told police that surveillance cameras were on when the incident occurred and that the boys would be contacted by administration when they returned to school on Monday.

New SCCC Woodshop Proposal

(corrected)

Monday night, go to the SCCC facility at 23rd Ave S. and  S. Lane at 6 PM (architect’s proposal at 8 PM)  to see what they are planning.  I’m begging because I have a few concerns. 

First:  I’m worried about the mural being destroyed

Second: From what I see of the design, it appears there will be a new parking lot on 23rd.  But, the back side of the property may present safety issues so it’s worth neighbors who live right by there getting involved.

Third: SCCC is required to have a Major Institution Master Plan.  Turns out this site is not subject to that rule because ‘it is separated by more than 1/4 mile from the main campus and far below the threshold for its being a separate major institution’ (from the answer to a query made to the city).  So, there is a gap when it comes to minor insititutions.   All the more reason for neighbors to come to the meeting and weigh in.

Fourth: There is a revision to the zoning code being proposed that just seems like it’s tailor made for these plans.  It’s to allow wood shops to go up to 35 feet in lowrise zoned areas.  >;;;http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/luib/Notice.aspx?id=9637  You might wish to comment whether you think it’s a good idea or not.

Fifth:  It’s a HUGE piece of property, so I hope you’d want what happens there to be an amenity to 23rd Avenue and the nearby community.

Puget Sound Regional Council Wants Public Comment on Stimulus Funds Use

Seattle Transit Blog says that, unlike the way the State divvied up the money behind closed doors, the Puget Sound Regional Council (while the transit and planning junkies know what PSRC means, us mere mortals don’t) wants comments on allocation of stimulus money.  Maybe then they will divvy it up behind closed doors, but it can’t hurt to ask. 

More buses in the CD?  Go for it!  Actually going for it on the comment form to the PSRC would probably be more effective than a rant on the blog…but here is the article with the links:

http://seattletransitblog.com/2009/02/27/psrc-wants-public-comment-on-stimulus-funds/

Pretty Good Discussions on TOD Bill and Growth

The meeting hosted by Councilmember Clark at Langston Hughes last night regarding the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) bill was interesting and there were a number of insightful points made.  I still think the bill has real problems, though.  Coverage that I saw tended to be shrill and dismissive about any dissent, even that which sought to improve it.  I’m pretty much ‘over’ the blog wars because the levels of both arrogance and ignorance is too distressing.

Today, Joel Connelly wrote a piece that I think hit the right note.  The comments are even largely constructive.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/connelly/400802_Joel20.html

Then, I found this website that lays out a lot of info on TOD:

http://www.todadvocate.com/index.html

Note especially the comments on HB1490 from the APA Washington State Chapter.

And then a friend sent me a sort of ‘TOD for idiots’ by the owner of the above website:

http://www.wulaw.wustl.edu/landuselaw/TOD.html

Lesson:  There is not a simple prescription, but there are good ways to get the job done.  I hope the folks working on the bill actually get that is what people have been saying instead of seeing all objection as coming from enemies of the goals.

Transit Oriented Development

Well Scott alluded to it, and as I have been deeply involved in the debates that are raging, I figure I will just bite the bullet and offer my perspective…

Please don’t be entranced by the arguments that use the ‘idea’ of Transit Based Development, confabulating it with the real need to have housing for all income levels, that are being used to promote a specific amendment to the Growth Management Act, HB1490/SB5687.  The outcomes of this legislation will tear apart the delicate fabric of a consensus developed in regions and communities around the state for the creation and preservation of sustainable communities.  The many folks who have envisioned sustainable communities, created Neighborhood Plans to build them, become trained as community planners, and who have a great investment in the Growth Management Act (including folks who made it happen in the first place) were marginalized out of the process of developing this bill and are being characterized by proponents as NIMBYs, anti-poor people (which is funny because a lot of them are poor), or just plain anti-sustainability.

Seattle actually already has a Station Area Transit Oriented Development chapter in the Land Use code: http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~public/toc/23-61.htm   Many of our neighbors are currently updating plans for the Light Rail Station areas now.  They expect it be dense, they also expect economic development and they expect to be able to stay in their neighborhoods.  Many of them oppose this bill.

Don’t get me wrong.  GMA can sure use some fixing.  And, I tend to agree when people promoting the bill say that this is not really ‘about’ Seattle.  It’s about every city and town in the state.  While I choose to live in Seattle, I also choose to respect the fact that every city or town does not develop the same way.

This bill will set a groundbreaking precedent of stepping right over local responsibility for zoning laws, and in return will not provide equity in housing and will produce increased sprawl.

There is a difference in what needs to be done in state law, and what really is best done by local jurisdictions if you want any local control over your life.  The state level is best at enabling legislation, standards, addressing concerns across the board, addressing inequities among regions and different populations, establishing processes, money with strings attached, and did I say money with strings attached.

I want a GREAT Transit Oriented Development law.  I want local jurisdictions to have to include chapters like Seattle’s in their Land Use codes.  Transit Oriented Development is not defined by a number.  Do not be confused by the sentence everyone is arguing about:  ‘The allowed net density for these transit oriented development areas must be fifty dwelling units per acre.’   The term ‘allowed net density’ (a single term or concept) is the result of a calculation of all the zoning (allowed) of land, less land used for roads and infrastructure (netting out).  The bill does have a required density number that must be zoned for -50.

A number of people have calculated that up zoning would be required in Southeast Seattle to meet that magic number of 50. This is in an area that is still under built.  Up zoning means higher property taxes.  Up zoning well before anyone wants to build is stupid because it invites speculation, absentee landlords and all of the wonderful things I’ve seen in the blocks around where I live.  It’s not guaranteed that Light Rail will bring a bunch of development.  I’ve seen it NOT happen in many other cities, even in the boom times.  But, there is no impact assessment planned before the sponsors plan to shove this bill through.

Other states have Transit Oriented Development laws.  These laws define transit stations specifically: a place where three or more bus lines come together, a light rail station, a ferry dock, etc.   This bill has some specifics, a bunch of exclusions, and misses mentioning many places that could be considered transit stations.  Ironically, many real mass transit stations are excluded precisely because of the fixed density number.  Other states may also define what governmental entity determines that a place is a transit center: local planning district and an agency of the state.   And, they do mandate something: that communities plan using accepted – and there are accepted – Transit Oriented Development practices.  They include density, diversity of uses, and design to support walking and bicycles, and promote use of mass transit.  They differ depending on the role a transit station is expected to play in the regional economy: employment center, downtown, city neighborhood, stadium, airport, suburban center, etc.  The density number is an outcome of regional and local planning, not a magic number. None of the other state laws, nor does our local code, define specific density.

The housing components should absolutely not be tied in with a definition of TOD and they possibly should not be part of GMA at all.  The people of the state need to establish standard measures, and rewards and benefits for all regions so we provide equity in housing in all jurisdictions.  The state needs to give tools to local government in the form of enabling legislation.  But, the people of Seattle need to do our own work to get elements of replacement and inclusionary zoning for the whole city added to our Land Use code.  It’s offensive to me that a duplex with two lower income families was replaced with 4 townhomes and one of those townhomes was not made available to a teacher or other working person making below 60% of AMI.  I am not in a Transit Station area and I am not even in the Urban Village, but I am served by bus lines within a few blocks in every direction.  This law does not provide a framework for housing equity throughout our city.  That reality underlies many of the objections we are hearing from our neighbors in the impacted areas.

Centralia has a rail station.  It’s a little town with not much there.  People commute by train to Olympia.  Should Centralia be mandated to be zoned at an average net density of 50 homes per acre within a half mile of the station?  What’s the effect of that?  Since it’s unlikely anyone will be building anything soon, the effect will be a rise of property taxes on a bunch of people who, from my view out of the train window, are not well to do.  It probably won’t change the rate of development, though.  But, should Centralia establish Transit Oriented Planning and Development standards?  You bet — if the state law actually set out the framework properly.  Not this bill.

Cities like Spokane would probably never build light rail, given the conditions in this bill.  But, the bill does provide a loophole that will create more suburban sprawl because by slapping up a ‘Transit Center’ (the bill does not define what such a beast is) and running buses often on a dedicated road, a suburban town could allow developers to build out on the edges of the urban/rural boundaries and call it a Bus Rapid Transit station area.  Expansion of developed areas is now slowed by a concept called concurrency.  But, call it a transit center, zone for an average density of 50, include low income housing and you have a little satellite suburblet where you can stash all the poor people if this law passes.

You can read the whole hodge podge of a thing for yourself: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1490&;year=2009  Look especially at Section 9.

 

Please Vote!

Did you get your ballot in the mail?  It might seem like a very minor thing, but the one item – election of a Director of Elections – is a critical choice.  In November, the voters of King County decided that this would be an elected position so if you care about the integrity of your vote in the future this is the time to choose the best, fairest, and most experienced professional.

Here are the candidates and thier statements:

http://your.kingcounty.gov/elections/pamphlet/pamphlet.aspx?;eid=1227#c10495

Chime in about who you think would be best.

Make a point of putting that ballot in the mail as soon as possible.  How about before we celebrate the inauguration of our new president, whose election victory came about because of hard work by the countless folks involved in making sure that people who could vote were registered and able to vote, and that every vote was counted properly.

PS If, like me, you HATE mail in and want to be able to go to the polls, please direct your ire at the King County Council.  It’s not a decision of Director of Elections.  That person is charged with making sure that elections are conducted accurately.