Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Student Assignment Plan

Please make time to attend one or more of the Student Assignment Plan events happening this week and next week. The decisions made about this policy will have far-reaching effects.

Workshops start tonight. Drop-in meetings started last week and continue until May 30th. The schedule of upcoming events is:

Workshops
Tuesday, May 22, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Hamilton International Middle School
Thursday, May 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - NewHolly Gathering Hall

Drop-in Meetings
Wednesday, May 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Ballard Community Center
Thursday, May 24, 9:00-11:00 a.m. - Garfield Community Center
Thursday, May 24, 1:30-3:30 p.m. - Delridge Community Center
Wednesday, May 30, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m. - John Stanford Center


More details can be found on the Student Assignment Plan page on the district website.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

We parents really need to pay attention to this student assignment plan debate. The plan certainly deserves review, and there is much room for improvement, but we need to be present and vocal about the consequences of various proposals. The board's decision about the plan is just around the corner, in June.

Here are some questions on my mind:
- If we go to a system of default assignment within a reference area, what happens in a year when, say, there are 62 kindergarten students who accept their default (for two classrooms)? Does that mean the school has to deal with 31 K students/class?
- If every mini cluster (3-4 elementary schools) also has a K-8 option, does that mean that none of our K-8s has a reference area any longer? If so, is that a good thing or not?

These are just a couple that have occurred to me, that I share just to help everyone recognize the importance of this policy discussion. Let's use our voices.

Anonymous said...

I feel like the student assignment plan is really a way to close more schools where there is excess capacity.

If the district wants to close schools than they should be transparent about the motivation and stop assigning students to under-enrolled schools.

The choice system if used correctly would allow for most families (approximately 90%)to receive the school of their choice. Then if the district stopped assigning kids that did not participate in on-time enrollment to the under-enrolled schools, they would naturally "die-on-the-vine".

This student assignment proposal seems reasonable for a cluster with stable or declining student enrollment, but disastrous for some of the north end schools with lack of school inventory to meet the current and forecasted student growth. We will be faced with moving assignment plan boundaries on a annual/bi-annual basis. If you look at the forecast we have 1,000 students to plug into 6 northeast cluster elementary schools that are already filled beyond capacity in the the next eight years.

The district needs to deal with supply and demand with approaches that deal with creating more seats or taking them away as the demographic of the neighborhood changes.

This plan does not meet those needs.

Anonymous said...

I'm really interested in this topic but can't attend any of the meetings. This is a crazy time of year for us - especially in the evenings. I'm trying to figure out a way to eloquently voice my opinion by e-mail.

My biggest concern is that my children can go to schools that our close to our home and that there is some predictability. We are in the elementary school (View Ridge), living .4 miles away. We live .93 miles from Eckstein, thinking it's a sure thing, but just spoke to a mom today whose oldest goes to Hamilton this year (got into Eckstein for next year). They live 1.16 miles away and didn't get in for 6th grade. Their daughter gets on the bus at 6:30 am every day. Something is wrong here.

High School is a long way out for us, but Roosevelt is our closest school and the school we assumed, based on history, that our children would go to. My biggest thing here is Nathan Hale is not too much farther and wouldn't be my first choice, but at least if I knew say Nathan Hale was our assigned automatic school (as opposed to Roosevelt) that I could look closely at Nathan Hale and decide with my husband more definitively what our next step would be rather than playing a statistical game with the enrollment office.

See - how do I compose a letter that is not rambling, that will get attention and not sound like I am some privileged North End Mom making demands. I'm working on it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree completely with the comment about North End Capacity. They mentioned in one meeting that they wanted to plan to remodel a number of North End elementary schools to increase their capacity to 535 (View Ridge was one of them) by 2030. That is a LONG deadline.

Anonymous said...

Just to provide some balance (north / south), here's a perspective to add to the mix.

There are currently over 1,000 students in Rainier Beach High School's reference area who do not attend that school.

How many of us who read this blog (who by the very nature of this blog are savvy and care deeply about public education) would be thrilled sending our children to Rainier Beach High School? If our children went to Rainier Beach, would they be ready for college? Would they have the necessary rigor?

I have noticed that those who are very PRO neighborhood schools have excellent neighborhood schools to choose from. But what about families who do not have excellent choices?

I remember when student assignment came about a couple of years ago, the school board decided that it is not ok to have a change in student assignment until they could guarantee that there were highly successful schools in all geographic areas.

The phrase most commonly heard then was "build it and they will come".

Isn't the current proposal the exact opposite of that philosophy? And if so, what is the plan to increase quality of education in areas that do not have excellent choices?

Because in the end, this is about quality education and not money, right?

Mary said...

I went last night to the Hamilton workshop and heard a couple of things:

> There is no plan yet - only ideas and opportunities for input

> I find Tracy Libros one of the most honest dealers at the district and if she says it's still in process and subject to the input they hope to get in these public engagement efforts, I believe her.

> The district hears the need for predictability and continuity at middle school and high school, and most of last night's attendees reiterated that

> One element seeming to have traction with the staff is having a seat at your neighborhood elementary school, but still having choice to opt out to another. I don't know exactly how that would work.

> Another is a feeder plan that would have each elementary feeding in to a specific middle school, which provides predictability for parents, more visibility of the curriculum articulation between elementary and middle, and keeping cohorts of kids together rather than having them spread to the four winds at 6th grade.

> There was no talk of closing schools - though a parent brought up Michael DeBell's white paper on the subject in which he suggested that if a school is 50% under its capacity, a process should kick in for a critcial examination of the school and its situation. There are 3 schools in the north end that are there or close - which is not to single them out for closure, but to say that when we talk about resources for academic achievement, that's where some of them are going - as they are to the 11 elementary schools near or below 250 enrollment. Note though the staff said nothing about school closures.

> There were about 30-40 people there, I'd guess - thought there would be more, but there is a ton of stuff going on (I'm out 4 nights this week on school or district stuff)

> They had a lot of big visual aids around the room - the maps and charts on the website - for people to walk around and study. It was useful - though I wish I'd asked them to talk about them in their presentation. Some could use some explanation/clarification.

To the discussion in previous posts about school closure - when the district commenced explicit school closure initiatives, people criticized them, said there was no link to academics and fought fiercely enough (and the board was fractured enough) that only 5 schools will actually be closed - but people object when it seems that a process prompts analysis or focus that happens to get to similar conclusions, saying it's not transparent. Again I stress - there was NO discussion of school closure by the staff last night).

North end mom said...

I live in the north end, and I would love to see guaranteed neighborhood school choice coupled with the feeder pattern idea. We would have Wedgewood, Ecktein and Roosevelt. Perfect! But....what if I lived in the Central area and my choice was TT minor which would feed into Meany which would feed into Franklin?? I would be fighting with all my energy for choice. Get where I'm going?
We moved to this neighborhood for these schools. Luckily, we had the means to do so. Not everyone does, and as much as I would love predictibility and a guaranteed spot in my great NE cluster schools, I don't feel that we can move in that direction until all schools meet certain criteria.

Melissa Westbrook said...

A couple of things.

One, I heard this argument about "keeping kids together" from elementary to middle. All I can tell you is that it is not possible, in most areas, for every 5th grade class in a region to go to the same middle school. My son didn't end up going to the same middle school as most of his classmates because we moved and he went to a school where he knew 3 kids and did so happily. This idea that your child has to have all the same classmates from kindergarten to high school is not one I get.

Two, I did bring up this issue of not rebuilding in the north during BEX III discussions. The district has committed to doing all the high schools with some middle schools first and yes, then more elementaries. (They have done about 34 out of 60 elementaries with about 21 of them south of ship canal.) So, the likely rebuilds in the NE like View Ridge and Rodgers will take a long time. But if you unquestioningly accept what the district tells you without looking down the road and taking a broader view, then this is what happens. So yes, the NE will continue to get packed in and the issues of Eckstein and Roosevelt will continue. (I spoke to a PTA officer from Whitman who said Whitman has been pulling back by 30 students a year and is now under 1000. If only that could happen for Eckstein but it can't.)

Anonymous said...

The P-I has some interesting numbers on how overcrowded some schools would be if all kids were assigned to neighborhood high schools: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/316763_choice23.html

Charlie Mas said...

Let's talk high schools.

If students had predictable access to a high school and then had the option of choosing another if space were available, what school would be their default assignment, and which schools would have space available? Let's include a 10% seat reserve for out of area students and for growth.

For this sort of a puzzle, it makes sense to start at the edges of the city and work towards the center. That way we can be sure that a student living at the edge will not have to go past a school to get to their school.

In the north, if we assign students to Ingraham (capacity 1,229) until it is 90% full, the school will each be able to accommodate all of the students that live closest to it. In addition, Ingraham will be able to include 267 students who live closer to Ballard. The students living closest to Hale (capacity 1,255), however, would take more than 90% of the seats there. Due to the 10% set aside, Hale will have to shift 31 students into another school, either Ingraham or Roosevelt. Say it is Ingraham. That means that Ingraham can now only take 236 students from the neighborhoods closer to Ballard.

Roosevelt (capacity 1,554) at 90% capacity could not hold 164 of the students who live closest to it. The District will have to find another default assignment for them.

Likewise, Ballard (capacity 1,554), at 90%, would leave 988 students seeking another default assignment. Of course, the 236 northernmost of them would get Ingraham, but that still leaves 752 needing a school.

Let's stop there, with 164 students in Laurelhurst and Montlake and 752 in Queen Anne and Magnolia without a high school, and start working from the south.

Things are pretty straightforward in West Seattle. Sealth (capacity 1,080) at 90% capacity could offer default enrollment to all but 636 of the students living closest to it. West Seattle High School (capacity 1,407) could take them and all but 70 of the students who live closest to West Seattle itself.

Rainier Beach (capacity 1,274) could offer default assignments to all but 693 of the closest students. Cleveland (capacity 1,000) could offer default assignments to all but 313 of its closest students. This is a real mystery. Where are those 1,006 students going to go?

If them were all given a default assignment to Franklin (capacity 1708), that would only leave 531 default assignments left for students who live close to Franklin. 497 of those kids still won't have a seat.

They can't go to Garfield because there's already 152 from Capitol Hill and the CD who can't fit into Garfield and are looking for a different default assignment.

In short, after 90% of the traditional high school capacity is allocated, the District will still have to find default assignments for


164 students in Laurelhurst and Montlake

752 students in Queen Anne and Magnolia

70 students in West Seattle

497 kids in Southeast Seattle

and 152 from Capitol Hill and the CD

Total: 1,799

To implement this plan of every student having a default assignment and every school having 90% of capacity reserved for default assignments, the District would need to build two more high schools with a total capacity of 2,000. And that presumes no growth.

The areas of greatest need are Queen Anne and Magnolia and Southeast Seattle.

I don't think that this exercise indicates that the idea is no good. Rather, I think it points out the need for added capacity.

Yes, this analysis creates 10% excess capacity right off and yes it neglects the capacity at the Center School (300), Summit, the Middle Colleges, South Lake, Marshall, and Nova (210), but I don't think the District can use any of those as default assignments.

If we were to adjust the default assignments up to 95%, that would take care of 683 of the unassigned students, leaving only 1,116 without default assignments.

The weird thing here is that even if we were to allocate 100% of the high school capacity to default assignments, 433 students still would not have one.

At 95% space allocated, we would still need to build another school (Interbay seems a good spot - can't the District do a land swap?).

An alternative would be to re-open Lincoln as a high school primarily for students living in Queen Anne, Magnolia, Laurelhurst, Downtown, and North Capitol Hill.

This analysis, of course, was done using just butts and seats. It totally ignored programs. But that would only exacerbate the problem: the District lacks sufficient capacity to provide the sort of "predictability" people envision for high school assignment.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's make this simple:

Total high school students: 13,954

Total seats in traditional high schools: 13,661

Difference: 293

Not every student can be guaranteed a seat in a traditional high school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, I'm not sure where you got your capacity numbers. From the Superintendent's Preliminary Recommendations in 2005:

Hale - capacity 1583 (I know that your figure is way too low. Hale is keep artificially small.)
Ingraham - capacity 1342
Sealth - capacity 1305 (and likely to be built bigger when it is renovated)

Roosevelt was built with capacity of 1600 but has 1700.

I say this not to argue with you (because some of the figures you give are the same as the ones in the report I am citing) but because of the differences in what the district puts out at any given time. When it suits their purposes, they will expand a capacity but then shrink it back if they want to say they need capacity. When we are talking about needing every single seat, as you have shown, then it's important to hold the district to a consistent figure.

Charlie Mas said...

I used the Facilities Master Plan as my source for school building capacity. I used the capacity without portables for each school.

For each school there are a number of capacity figures: capacity, capacity with portables, planning capacity, capacity as currently configured, etc.

Sometimes District staff tell me that my data isn't correct. Since I get all of my data from them, I always respond that I don't know the truth, I only know what they tell me.

The point remains the same: There is not enough capacity for every student to accept a default assignment to a traditional high school.

But wait! What if the District operated like airlines and overbook knowing that there will be no-shows? For example, even though they know that Rainier Beach only has seats for 1,274 students, they could give default assignments to 1,400 of them and rely on at least 126 students making some other choice. Two problems with that. First, there would still be 567 students in the Rainier Beach neighborhood without a default assignment. Second, even if that could work in Rainier Beach, we could not overbook enough for the 752 students in Queen Anne and Magnolia who can't get into Ballard.

The truth won't move: There is not enough capacity for the District to offer every student a default assignment to a traditional high school. The District must increase capacity or give up on this idea.

It is time to focus on increasing capacity. I read some talk about moving the Center School into Lincoln, but that won't work. The Center School is not a traditional comprehensive high school and cannot be a default assignment. Besides, the District squandered something like $12 million and busted BEX I to build out that leased space. They can't walk away from it so soon.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, your figures include schooling every student in Seattle. You have to subtract families that choose private, home school etc.

Then what do the numbers look like?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 5:32, Charlie's numbers are from the master plan and include the Seattle School District current enrollment only. These numbers do not reflect growth in some areas and declining in others, therefore the reference area boundaries will need to be moved frequently for a neighborhood assignment plan to work.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, what is your thinking about an ideal student assignment plan?

I do disagree with looking only at capacity without portables - portables are needed for scalability, were liberally used in the golden days of education we all seem to harken to, and are generally accepted if the community is strong and the teachers and principal are effective. I recall a Montlake parent saying they'd be content with a tent in parking lot if the district would leave them alone (or something to that effect).

They might rank low in the Meng analysis "educational adequacy" metric but I think many parents would prefer classes in portables to the current unpredictability of middle and high school availability.

Charlie Mas said...

Hmmm... Student Assignment Plan.

The first step of my plan would be to make an assessment of the demand for public school services disaggregated by program and neighborhood. The data the District has provided is only useful if all you care about is butts and seats.

I would want to know how many students I had in Rainier Beach neighborhood who wanted a high school international program, how many want a high school tech program, an elementary Spectrum, a strong middle school music program, or a K-8 in the TOPS model.

This is the only reasonable way to go about the work. We cannot begin to allocate the facilities to meet the demand until we measure the demand. Otherwise, we're just applying band-aids.

Claire Foster said...

West Seattle take note:
The district has added a second drop in meeting for West Seattle: Thursday, May 31, 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. at Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delridge Way SW*
Since this meeting was added after the intial publicity, any help in getting the word out is appreciated. Interpreters will be available in the following languages at this meeting: Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Somali, and Tagalog

classof75 said...

I attended many meetings a few years ago on school assignment.
I attended a few minutes of last nights meeting in Ballard- so I admit I don't have a good idea of how it went.

I may be an anomaly- but I don't really care to know when my child is 8, which high school he will attend. The neighborhood high school that is within walking distance may be fantastic when we move in because of a strong principal and because of special programs funded by a Gates grant (smirk)
Those perks may be long gone in 7 years.

I think SPS needs to decide- what do they offer families?
How can they build on their strengths?

While admittedly the city of Bellevue is more diverse than Seattle, the Seattle school district has a much higher percentage of minorities attending its schools. I love the mix of kids in the schools, but I also want more families to live in Seattle, and more kids to attend public schools.

This doesn't mean that we should spend all our energies focusing on how to attract upper income caucasians to move to Seattle, and high achieving kids to enroll in special programs.

I lived within walking distance of my elementary, junior high and high school growing up in Bridle Trails.
Big deal. My education became more meaningful when I began to attend an alternative high school across town ( no bus, I walked, which was possible as they had late arrival)

Although we live within blocks from West Woodland, my kids have never attended a school in our neighborhood. Relevancy, not distance, is what I judge education by.
Are these parents who insist that they chose a house by their neighborhood high school also going to demand their kids attend the UW?

If a school is successful and supported, parents will send their kids there. Look how popular Garfield is and this is before the remodel. I admit that some are swayed by a new building, I shudder to think of the brouhaha when the Garfield building is finished.

I agree that if parents want to send their kids to the neighborhood school, there should be space for them, but I also believe in being able to find a program that you feel will more fully support your childs learning even if one child needs to attend the Center school and one needs to attend Pathfinder.

I wish they would assign kids to schools by income. I think that diversity of race/religion/culture is one of the most valuable things about Seattle schools-as long as those kids who need more supports, are supported.
Doing away with collective bargaining for instance so that teachers who want to teach in high need areas, in high demand subjects are compensated.

I agree that we need to have "gifted" education. BUt we also need more programs like TOPS to reach kids who can benefit from a rich educational environment, but don't have parents who know how to work the system to be assigned there.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, would you get the program/neighborhood demand info by paid phone polling - or other means? (I too would want real data about what people want vs what we and SPS think they want - and also wish they did polling when people leave)

Classof75 - I think the Flight program developed by SEA and SPS provides for incentives to teachers who choose high challenge schools, as well as a way for teachers who DON'T want to stay there to opt out without losing seniority.

Interestingly, I would never view TOPS in the way you described, e.g., as accessible or (by implication - perhaps not what you meant or believe) that it's serving a particularly underserved population. When last I looked, it had racial and cultural diversity but its free and reduced lunch population was 19% (lower than some of the elementaries considered most affluent) - and its community has been known to fiercely limit the number of seats available to the neighborhood.

Mel Westbrook noted their apparent sense of entitlement during the last closure process - to their made-to-order building, program, etc - as "breathtaking".

Anonymous said...

I went to the meeting in Ballard last night. Lots of Magnolia, Queen Anne, and NE parents who raised the high school capacity issue forcefully. There were several parents with kids in private school who said that a big part of the problem was the busing: one woman said she didn't care *what* school was at the other end, she wasn't having her kid bused through downtown Seattle. The long bus times, especially Metro bus routes with transfers involved, were a big issue. Someone asked how many people would have thought about private school, or moving north or east, if they had had this much trouble finding an elementary school, and pretty much everyone raised their hands.

I asked how Advanced Learning fits into the whole business, and was told that APP and Spectrum eligibility are being considered in the mix, as are special ed and ESL needs, but I'm still not clear yet what actual options are being considered. I got the impression (not sure Tracy actually said this) that the APP breakout was given first because those numbers were easy to get at, and they were working on getting out other maps with other numbers.

One thing I noticed was that they did make a point of talking about how difficult the process was for people who were just moving into Seattle sometime other than the traditional enrollment period. Tracy said that's a lot of her job, running around trying to coordinate student assignments with where the people are thinking about buying houses. It's a personal matter for me, as good friends of mine are currently planning their move to the Seattle area, and are probably going to end up on the east side somewhere rather than deal with Seattle schools.

One interesting bit was that we are apparently scheduled for a dip in high school population in a few years, and after that another boom. The logical thing would be to do any building during the dip time, to be prepared for the boom time, seems to me, but I don't know if that will be possible.

Oh, and another thing that I hadn't really realized before was that the elementary school reference areas the district is currently working with are about 30 years old, and badly need redrawing.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

"Interestingly, I would never view TOPS in the way you described, e.g., as accessible or (by implication - perhaps not what you meant or believe) that it's serving a particularly underserved population."

I took it that Classof75 meant that you *currently* have to be able to work the system to get your child into TOPS, but if there were more TOPSes, it wouldn't be so tough.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification, Helen - I think I misread classof75

classof75 said...

I took it that Classof75 meant that you *currently* have to be able to work the system to get your child into TOPS, but if there were more TOPSes, it wouldn't be so tough.

That is more what I meant, but
I actually didn't have a child at TOPS, although I think it is a very good school, we have neighbors who have kids there and I know several who have sent kids there.

I looked at it long ago for my oldest- who will be 25 tommorrow. :)
She is gifted with challenges- & while she was indentified early on, by virtue of participating in a special study through the UW, I know there are many more kids, who aren't & who are also at risk of being put into classes where the protocol is teach to the middle- but they aren't in the middle- their strengths and weaknesses are on opposite ends.

Our neighborhood school- was within three blocks away. However- we were advised by the kindergarten teacher- when we were touring schools that spring, to look further, when she learned that my daughter was a competent reader at 4.
While I appreciate the teachers candor, I was stunned, because although the building was in sad, sad, shape, I thought the classroom looked interesting and after all what else could we do?

TOPS and SUMMIT K-12, were both schools at that time that seemed able to address kids with diverse interests and learning styles, they had a lot of excitement and parent involvement. They were also impossible for my daughter to get in to.

I suppose I could have went against the teachers recommendation and just enrolled her in our neighborhood school, but I was very young, and felt that she knew something I didn't.

We had already been involved in co-ops through the community college preschool program and through her child care center.
( another avenue that the district could utilize to share information about schools- but to my knowledge hasn't tried)

We managed to find a co-op program for the next year instead of kindergarten, but found that again, SUMMIT and TOPS were even harder to get into for 1st grade, because they had those kids coming up from K. ( and sibling assignments)

By this time, I was pretty fed up with the district, they had few places that I thought she could do well in, they were talking about reducing alternative schools rather than expanding them, and even though I lived in a blue collar neighborhood, there were very very few people, 20 years ago, that I knew, who were sending their kids to their neighborhood public school.

Most were attending one of the co-op schools like University Co-operative school, or other alternative schools like Bjorn Lih, which allowed you to use skill exchange to pay for tuition.

These parents would have sent their kids to public, if alternative schools had been an attainable choice.
They, like us, didn't want to leave the city for the suburbs as many families have, but when you have only twelve years to take your child from a kid who's missing teeth, to a young adult, you don't want to mess up and you don't want to wait for the district to fix itself.
Most of the families, eventually did put their kids back in the public school system- as for most families, there isn't a lot of money from private school, and there are even fewer spaces available- public school was the alternative that was left- but it was like voting for office- not anything you were really in love with.

Its discouraging to see that the number of alternative seats, hasn't really increased that much in 20 years, even though the city population has.


From what I have seen- "traditional schools" and "alternative" schools have come towards each other, in some buildings- which I think is a very good thing.

Ive also seen some schools go from being very popular, to being on the possibly closed list, because of low enrollment, loss of programs etc. I just want to emphasize to parents that I think it makes sense to want to have some idea of where your child is going to attend school, even 7 years down the road.

But just keep in mind, that your child may develop interests that can't be addressed at the neighborhood school, and /or the cohort of teachers who kept the school strong through the many principal changes, may all be retiring at the same time- you can't even be guaranteed you know what the building is going to look like.

Charlie Mas said...

You may hear some questions about APP during these meetings, and there is a very good reason for that.

These meetings are the official opportunity for community and family input on the reconfiguration of APP, such as the Washington-Hamilton split that the Superintendent tried to do earlier this year.

There will be no other opportunity for APP families to offer input on the decision due this fall on where APP will be placed in 2008.

I know that these drop ins and presentations on student assignment seem an odd time and place to discuss APP. It strikes me as odd to discuss something of such limited interest in a time and place when we should be discussing broader issues, but this is how the District made it.

Please be understanding to those folks who need to talk about APP at these meetings. They don't want to take time from the global issue, but this is the only chance they will have to provide input on their local issue.

North end mom said...

To class of 75....
While you may not support or believe in the neighborhood school concept, many others, including myself do. When you attend a neighborhood school you are part of your local community. You make friends in your neighborhood, attend events, camps, play dates in your neighborhood. Parents are more likely to be involved in their school, volunteer more etc. There is great value in being part of your neighborhood community.

We live in NE Seattle, and this year our son went to an all city draw, alternative school in Ballard. We feel totally disconnected, as we just don't get out to school much anymore, it's a 20 minute drive each way. We no longer know our sons friends or their parents, as they live all over the city, and we don't often get to plan playdates. My sons best freind this year lives in Seward Park. Seward Park!!!

Everybody has a different perspective, but I am all in for neighborhood schools, with some limited choice and access to alternative schools for those who seek them.

Anonymous said...

north end mom said: "Parents are more likely to be involved in their [neighborhood] school, volunteer more etc."

I hear this all the time, is there actually any EVIDENCE that when families CHOOSE a school that is not their neighborhood school (as opposed to being mandatorily assigned) they volunteer less? We live NW of Greenlake. Our two kids go to school south of the ship canal. Last week I put in 33 hours and my husband did 65 (he went to camp--there were about 15 parents there). Ok, I admit it wasn't a normal week, but still!

(by the way NEmom, I have found that volunteering drops off in middle school even for the most dedicated (because of the kids and the teachers))

call me lucky volunteer mom

classof75 said...

Parents are more likely to be involved in their school, volunteer more etc. There is great value in being part of your neighborhood community.

Thats fine for people that chose distance as a priority, I have found that for my kids- their academic education is more critical than just relying on the neighborhood school.

Perhaps for families who have other resources to support academics, who have extended family that are supportive, who are able to provide their kids with a lot of resources,
the school setting isnt as critical, but for my family we found that communication, accountability and responsiveness made much more of an impact, than location, and so did the lack of it.

We know people through church, through swim lessons, through where we grocery shop, P-Patch, neighborhood events like potlucks and parades,I enjoy the entire Seattle community, I chose to move to Seattle after I had my first child, because of the variety of neighborhoods and at that time, the clear sense of neighborhoods.

I had to pick just one to live in obviously, but I appreciate the fact that my daughter has best friends who live in Madrona, Beacon Hill, Seward Park, & Lake City, and so far south in West Seattle that I think it must be Burien.

Compared to the Eastside where I grew up, Seattle is a piece of cake to get around in.

I like that I know people all over the city, while I complained when my daughter had track practice at Rainer Beach, I also enjoyed getting to see that neighborhood a little more.

( I am also very happy to hear that at some point Garfield/Roosevelt & Ballard are intending to rejoin the Metro league. I can't tell you what a PITA it is to schelp over to Juanita for a swim meet at 4 pm.
)

north end mom said...

To anonymous who asked if there was any evidence as to families being more involved if their school is a neighborhood school? I have no statistics for you, but I do have personal experience. We attended our NE neighborhhood alternative school, AEII for elementary, and most of us volunteered the equivalent of a full time job. Due to AEII having the assignment preference for Salmon Bay, many of us sent our kids their for middle school, including me. My volunteering has dropped off sharply, as has most of the other AEII families, and it's not because our kids are in middle school, it's because it is very inconvenient to drive across town twice a day (an hour roundtrip). Not to mention gas prices. I don't like I'm part of the community either. I don't feel like there is much of a community at the middle school level. We know very few families, and those we have gotten to know live far away from us. Again, just not convenient. So, while I don't have statistics, I have my personal experience. I like being in my neighborhood. I chose my house because I like our school choices. I like to be part of my neighborhood community. I like my kids to have friends in OUR neighborhood, and I like to know their parents. I'm not saying everyone has to agree, I'm saying it's what works for me. If I lived in a neighborhood with inadequate schools, I would surely send my kids wherever they needed to go to suceed. Fortunately, my neighborhood schools meet our families needs.

classof75 said...

Due to AEII having the assignment preference for Salmon Bay, many of us sent our kids their for middle school, including me.

If I lived in a neighborhood with inadequate schools, I would surely send my kids wherever they needed to go to suceed. Fortunately, my neighborhood schools meet our families needs.


Im sorry I am not sure I understand-
Are you saying that you are happy with your neighborhoods schools- even though you have kids at two alternative schools- at least one which is quite a ways away by your calculation.

But if the neighborhood school is good, why didn't you send your kids there?

Anonymous said...

AEII is our neighborhood elementary school(5 blocks to our house). It is not an all city draw school like many alternative schools, so keeps the feel of a neighborhood school. All of my sons friends lived within a very close radius of us and we loved that. We wanted to continue the alternative curriculum, so tried sending our child to Salmon Bay in Ballard, obviously not our neighborhood school. It is an all city draw school, and did not work for us. As I said we felt like there was very little sense of community. Though the school tried very hard, the demographics of the parents made it very hard. We have pulled our child out of Salmon Bay and he is now at our neighborhood middle school, where we are very happy. That's why I said I don't have statistics, only experience. We are much much happier being in our neighborhood. Let me be clear that I am not trying to convince you to use your neighborhood schools. That is your personal choice, and I respect that. It is just what works for MY FAMILY.