Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New Student Assignment Plan Process is Good

Congratuations to Seattle Public Schools, and the Board in particular, for addressing Student Assignment. The District is making a clear and rational effort to match the use of facilities with the demand for facilities. This is a truly wonderful thing and the Board and the District staff are to be congratulated and thanked for making this effort.

The work that Tracy Libros has been doing has been both very important and very good. She has genuinely invited the public to participate in the conversation, and the public input is clearly reflected in the framework document. The data that she and her colleagues have generated is meaningful to the process and she has been very open about sharing it.

The right-sizing of the elementary school reference areas is long overdue and very welcome. It has been goofy to tell 550 students that a 300 student building is their neighborhood reference school. We must all be very pleased that these mismatches will be fixed. People should have confidence that they can enroll their child at the school that they are told is their reference area school. Otherwise, the family is left without a reference school for all practical purposes.

I must say that I like the idea of elementary school reference area clusters matching up with middle school reference areas. I like the idea that the majority of a fifth grade class will proceed as a cohort to the same middle school.

These ideas have a strong appeal to me.

The District will run up against some physical constraints. They say that they have enough seats in the north end high schools for all of the north end high school students, but I'm not sure about that. Even if they do, it will be a tight fit.

I recommend that the District relocate Summit K-12 to the Lincoln building and site a comprehensive high school there as well. This will bring a number of benefits. It will give Summit K-12, an all-city draw alternative school the central location it needs. It will also allow the Summit high school students access to a broader variety of classes than their small program could offer - if they choose to share classes with the new high school. It will also add about 800 new high school seats in the north end to accomodate all of the students who will return to the public school system once Queen Anne and Magnolia have a predictable nearby high school assignment. Although Lincoln will be lost as an interim site, the District will be able to use Jane Addams or Wilson Pacific as their northend interim site.

I think that the Southeast Initiative is a good and necessary idea, but I would extend it to Mercer and Cleveland and not include the AAA. The AAA is an alternative school. No one gets a mandatory assignment there, so it doesn't belong in the Southeast Initiative. I'm not saying that the AAA shouldn't get some kind of District intervention - just not this one. The Southeast Initiative should be about assuring that students assigned to schools have equitable access to advanced programs at their manadatory assignment.

There will be some capacity issues in the middle and high schools in the southeast, so the District may need press the Rainier View property back into service. It is a big plot and they could build a middle school or maybe even a 6-12 (ala Denny/Sealth) on that land.

This is great work, work that needed to be tackled, and the Board and the District staff appear to be following a good process and getting good results.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are not enough HS seats in NE Seattle. At least not enough equitable seats. Between Roosevelt and Hale it is tight, but most students can be accomodated. The problem is Hale is a default school for many. They do not offer the competetive, rigorous program that Roosevelt does. No AP classes, no great band, no renouned drama program etc. So, I hope that when boundaries are drawn, the district makes a genuine effort to make schools equitable. Not that every school has to have the same exact things, but great things are divided between all schools. Hale doesn't have much to offer, while Roosevelt seems to have it all. This scenario plays out all across the district. I hope these issues are addressed.

98118 said...

Kids are not cans of baked beans. Kids do not have a shelf life.

The Southeast Initiative is just an example of too little too late. Does the district think that families can wait while school officials talk about talking about RB and Aki? The district knew years ago that it wanted to compel families back into these schools. Now, the district moves to ramp up the region with an initiative?

How long will the district keep up the commitment? I would guess until the next crisis comes up and bites them or about a week.

Southeast Seattle still loses access to Hamilton International Middle School and gains nothing but lip service and guaranteed seats to Aki and RB. Seats that families in southeast Seattle have chosen to avoid since the early 70’s.

How does an all district alternative school fit in with the initiative? What about Cleveland and Mercer?

I would concur that Tracy Libros is doing a very nice job in managing the process. However, the reassignment plan does not benifit those residing in the southeast. The plan ought to work for all not just those that get guaranteed seats in desirable schools.

Anonymous said...

For all of the people decrying the quality of public schools in southeast Seattle and across the city, I see handfuls (not rooms full) of people at legislative town halls, the annual PTA roundtable with legislators, and other venues in which people should be advocating for increased funding for public education.

It is Olympia's failure to comply with the state constitution which states that the paramount duty of Washington is to amply fund basic education, and secondarily, our tax structure and insufficient tax dollars, and thirdly, our fellow citizens who don't know any of this (or do but think someone else will take care of it), that are equally or more responsible for the state of schools in Seattle than the district.

Yes, the board and district leadership need to establish a more compelling vision; readjust the power structure so individual buildings can't let self-interests overcome the greater good of the community and the district; and work more constructively with groups like TAF to allow innovation. Yes, the teachers union needs to open its vise grip on the district; but to paraphrase the Clinton campaign of old, it's the funding, stupid!

In order to ramp up Aki and Rainier Beach and other suffering schools, it will likely require pulling funding from other schools, none of which are swimming in money. One source would have been closing small elementary schools, of which there are many, but the same communities decrying the quality of schools wouldn't have it! Charged that it was racist and a fraud! Said there are no savings to be had!

And while Olympia may not be able to look up here and say to come back tomorrow when we've closed schools, as Rep Helen Sommers used to, they watched the board cave to the citizens last summer (as well as their other antics in the last few years - not all) and now say "come back when you've done something about that school board".

As 98118 said, kids do not have a shelf life. We need to wake up - and stop thinking it's always the district. Much of the time it is the district, but more of the time, it's you and me and our legislators.

Brita said...

Hello all,

Not sure what is meant by "they watched the board cave to the citizens last summer"?

Please clarify.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm not convinced that the problems at Aki and Beach (and Mercer and Cleveland) are money problems.

What would these schools do with the additional dollars? Hire teachers, of course. That would lower class sizes and would allow them to offer more classes. Is that all that is needed?

Seriously, how much more funding do these schools need and for what?

According to the document we have, Beach will use the Southeast Intiative money to

"• Personnel - Provide additional teachers to support expansion of the range of course offerings, with particular attention to the following areas:
o Honors/Advanced Placement.
o The arts, particularly drama and music.
• Funding – Provide additional funding for:
o Equipment and supplies, including equipping science laboratories.
o Support for arts programs, including drama and music.
"

So if Beach had AP classes, better equipped science labs, and arts classes, all of a sudden another 600 students would want to enroll there? Is that the plan?

achinn said...

Has anyone heard any proposals for how they are going to deal with the current specialized programs such as Spectrum and APP that take up seats at schools? For example, my neighborhood MS would be Meany, which currently doesn't have Spectrum. Would they be force to provide Spectrum in every feeder MS? I know they are reviewing Advanced Learning as well, so maybe this will all come toghether eventually but I would think it would have come up already in the assignment planning.

Anonymous said...

RB's plan doesn't seem entirely crazy. If there were better classes there, some students who get assigned there will probably decide to give it a try. If those classes turn out to be pretty good, word will eventaully get around. But, I suspect that it would take at least 5 years of those offerings before the reputation of RB changed.

Charlie, I'm curious. What else do you think RB would need to do to become a "good" school?

Charlie Mas said...

Thank you, Brita. I almost forgot that point.

There are a lot of people around Seattle, particularly the Seattle Times, who suggest that the Board backed away from school closures.

This is a lie.

The Board voted 5-2 - that's a solid majority - to close schools in Phase I. They didn't take a single school off the list. The Superintendent, in contrast, removed two schools from the closure list.

Phase II was a disaster. The Board voted to table it because the Superintendent's recommendations did not align with the Board's priorities for closures. The Cooper/Pathfinder merger was insane. Other elements of Phase II were also horrible. The Board was right to reject it. Again, the Superintendent removed two schools from the closure list.

So there is this perception out there created by the Seattle Times and other Board haters that the Board caved in to public pressure (as if the public were a special interest), when, in fact, the Board was much more resolute than the Superintendent on closures.

Charlie Mas said...

The framework document is suspiciously silent on special ed, bilingual, and advanced learning. While it talks about right-sizing the reference areas for the school's capacity, it doesn't indicate if that capacity is net after set aside seats for special programs.

What else does RB need to be a "good" school?

I think the answer to that lies in the quotation marks. Yes, the AP and Honors classes, the science lab equipment, the drama classes, and the music are what you and I and the District believe that the school needs. But the other things it needs are all in the eyes of the beholders.

Why not go to the families of those 1,400 students in the neighborhood and ask them what it will take for them to choose Beach? Why not use some of the money to do a little market research? After the people in the community, the ones who will make the choice, tell you what they want, then you will know what you have to do.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, but I really don't like the idea of the K-8 portion of Sumitt (in particular the K-3 portion) sharing a building will a disproportionate number of teenagers. As it is, the idea of 16 year olds sharing space with 5 year olds is concerning, but at least at Sumitt the student populations are similar in size.

Anonymous said...

Charlie is eactly right...."ask the community what it will take to get them to attend RB".

Just think about how simple, yet powerful this idea is.

What does Hamilton offer that Aki doesn't? Safety, higher test scores, a solid language program? What does Hamilton have that people justify sending their kids across the city to get? That's what the district needs to figure out. And the only way they are going to figure it out is by surveying the community.

Michael Rice said...

Hello

Sorry for being late to the party.

As the person who posted at 11:05 noted, adding staff so we can add more rigorous classes so the word gets out that you can get AP Stats, AP Language Arts, AP Economics, AP History, etc. will increase our enrollment. We are thinking more in a 2 to 3 year time frame, as opposed to 5 years, though. We are only budgeted for a little over 400 students next year, so we really need to get our numbers up and up quickly.

Also, an increased emphasis on the arts is also very important. We have the wonderful Performing Arts Center that is underutilized since we have very little in the way of the arts offerings. This is very sad, since we have an incredibly talented student body. With just a little nurturing, we could have a fantastic choir. We are starting to produce some plays, thanks to the dedication of one our Language Arts teachers, but we have no one dedicated to drama. These are the sort of classes that will keep students who might not be that interested in school, engaged in academics.

RB has the second highest concentration of high school age children in our area in the city. This initiative will help increase our enrollment.

Roy Smith said...

I generally agree with Charlie's post. This is a step in the right direction. Obviously there are a lot of details to be worked out, and equally obvious is the fact that this is one step of many for SPS, not a magic bullet that will solve all of the district's problems.

With regards to the notion of co-locating Summit K-12 with a comprehensive high school in the Lincoln building, I would be cautious. It would be necessary to make sure that it is a co-location plan which ensures the separateness and integrity of each individual program (in sharp contrast to the half-baked scheme the district proposed last fall for co-locating AS#1 and Summit). Co-location can work, and can successfully address issues like the one Anonymous 2:13 raises, but it involves lots of careful planning and is generally not simple to implement.

98118 said: Kids are not cans of baked beans. Kids do not have a shelf life.

The Southeast Initiative is just an example of too little too late. Does the district think that families can wait while school officials talk about talking about RB and Aki?


Anonymous 11:05 said: RB's plan doesn't seem entirely crazy. If there were better classes there, some students who get assigned there will probably decide to give it a try. If those classes turn out to be pretty good, word will eventaully get around. But, I suspect that it would take at least 5 years of those offerings before the reputation of RB changed.

I think that the demand for instant change implicit in 98118's post and many others like it I have seen on this blog represents an impossible goal. Even if we had basically unlimited resources to throw at the problems (which we clearly don't, and which not many people are really doing anything substantial to change), so that we could, for instance, make all the proposed changes at Rainier Beach, as Anonymous 11:05 points out, it would still be years before the school's reputation changed significantly.

The situation, as I see it, is this:
1) SPS has some wonderful schools and programs, a number of adequate ones, and some that are failing miserable by one or more metrics.
2) Access to the good and/or popular programs is fragmented and very uneven. This is aggravated by a whole host of factors, from geography to student assignment policy.
3) Very few people trust that any change that SPS proposes or implements will result in positive outcomes.

All of this suggests to me that the changes that a lot of people are demanding are only going to happen as the result of years of steady, consistent effort at fixing the problems. Things are not going to dramatically better throughout the system next year, no matter what visionary plan or inspirational leader or shiny new resource gets injected into the system (none of which seem to be forthcoming, anyway). Fixing SPS will be the work of a decade, not six months.

For the short term, parents are going to have to be realistic and accept that they may need to know how to work the system, and be prepared to make sacrifices to provide an adequate education for their children. I say this not because I think it is an ideal situation (it isn't), but because it is what we have to deal with. For the longer term, everybody who supports education in this city will need to be committed to a long term effort of fixing problems, both big and small.

P.S. Please sign your posts with something more distinctive than ... well, nothing. It is very hard to respond coherently to a thread in which half of the posts are anonymous ... give yourself a number, if nothing else. It works for 98118.

classof75 said...

As a former parent board member @ Summit K-12, I thought co-locating AS#1 and Summit was a great idea.
Summit , IMO, hasn't been an "alternative" school for a while.
Many schools have field trips, many schools have art.
AS#1 & Summit students already share the yellow bus and they participate in shared winter sports program.

But as before the district started discussing closure of Summit- the enrollment was 660-700 students, IMO too large to share Lincoln with a comprehensive program ( is the Center school comprehensive or alternative?)


I would also disagree that Hale isn't rigorous.
No they don't have a big theatre program as a draw, but if you want to participate in theatre at Hale, I bet you can, whereas I know students who weren't able to at Roosevelt.

Hale also has a great theatre and radio/photography programs.
How many high schools teach astrobiology? For that matter how many small colleges?

When we toured Hale, we were excited to see that they do.
Students at Hale have many resources available to them, I am surprised to hear that it is a default school.

It is an excellent size for a high school, not too large to be able to play on sports teams or get the classes you want.

However, I agree that if forced to accept the numbers of students the space can accomodate, they can even increase their class offerings and resources.

Anonymous said...

It depends on what you want? If you want a rigorous academic program then Hale is not for you. It's a nicey nicey school. You can get in their drama program because it is not a strong program, and it is not in demand. Not because they are a small school. And, why don't they offer tradisional AP classes or IB or something to draw highly academic students like Roosevelt does? I agree the culture at Hale is nice. The size is nice. But the program is just not competetive. That'w why you get into Hale and can't get into Roosevelt.

Anonymous said...

I can understand parents fears that only a comprehensive high school can prepare them for college.
My experience was different. My oldest for example attended a Seattle high school that didn't have any AP and an honors class meant that you might have an additional assignment every once in a while.

Still she graduated, which was more than I myself did, and last year she graduated from a college that has the highest percentage of graduates in her field ( biology) that attain a Phd. Higher % than MIT or Caltech.
Her high school did a good job of preparing her I think ( as did the community college she also attended)
( they rank in the top 10 in all fields)
http://web.reed.edu/ir/phd.html

Anonymous said...

I wasn't suggesting that kids that go to Hale or any other less competetive HS can not go to college. But it does put them at a disadvantage. In today's world where college admission is very very competetive, it is tougher for these students to get in to a 4 year University like UW. And forget about an IVY league school. If this is what you are after, it probably won't happen for you after graduating from a school like Hale, unless you are a minority or have some other advantage that makes you appealing to an admissions board. The more likely scenario for a Hale type graduate is community college with a transfer (if so desired to a university). That's fine if that's what you want. Just know what you are getting

classof75 said...

I don't understand the animosity towards Hale. My daughter didn't end up there, but we both liked it.

I also don't understand the problem with community colleges- I would agree that the student body is skewed older than some universities, but some of the classes and instructors are quite good.
Tracy Furitani for example- is amazing- he has degrees from Caltech- Stanford & Uw, and engages students on a level that they wouldn't get with their TA in an Ivy.
If you don't know much about higher ed, you may not be familiar with Oberlin or UChicago, but I know two students who recently ( this year and a few years ago) graduated from those schools after taking equiv of two years of classes from the community colleges.
( The Oberlin alumna also commented that some of her classes at NSCC were more rigorous than some @ Oberlin)

If UChicago considers classes from SCCC to replace their own coursework, who are we to disagree?

98118 said...

98118 is not a number – it is a zip code.

I understand the public policy notions that Roy has mentioned. It would be best if we all could hang in there and continue to sacrifice for common good and predictability. That dog does not hunt for me. It looks like southeast Seattle is to carry the heaviest burden the farthest distance for the longest period of time. Our school options in 98118 have gone from bad to worse in the short term. The cans in my pantry are expiring now and not in 2, 3 or 5 years presuming things change drastically at RB and Aki. Hence, my continuing demands that the district cowboy up now.

I also think that the Southeast Initiative is a smoke screen. It would give the appearance of improvement. However, since only southeast Seattle families would be in attendance and are a captive audience….. who can hold the local schools and the district accountable at this juncture? There has been well over 30 years of benign neglect carried out by the district and the board in the region. I wonder if the elected officials or perspective elected officials really want it to change.

North end mom said...

to class of 75, I DIDN"T say anything was wrong with community college. If you re-read my post I said that's fine if that's what you want. Just know what your getting. Some people do not want community college, they want their children to go to a university. Some want an Ivy league university. Some have very specific areas of study that only certain universities offer the programs that they need. Not everybody wants comuunity college. That's all I'm saying. Community college is A OK with me. I am happy that kids go to college. Any college. Just know what your path is. Know your choices, and make your decisions apporpriately.

North end mom said...

To class of 75.

Just for the record, I have absolutely no animosity toward Hale. I think Hale is a great school in many ways. It's sort of alternative or at least non-traditional and appeals to a lot of people that Roosevelt does not appeal to. It's just not on par with Roosevelt academically. That's not to say there are no great teachers there, no challenging classes etc. They just simply do not have the academic offerings that Roosevelt does. And again, that's OK. No animosity here. But lets not pretend that everything is equal because it is not. The two schools are very different, and will appeal to different families. And, that's OK too.

Charlie Mas said...

I want to read more from 98118.

98118 wrote:
"Hence, my continuing demands that the district cowboy up now."

What would that look like? What offer could the District make that would be enough? Completely separate from that question, what would it take for the District's offer (whatever it may be) to be credible?

98118 wrote:

"I also think that the Southeast Initiative is a smoke screen. It would give the appearance of improvement."


Again, what would be authentic improvement?

"However, since only southeast Seattle families would be in attendance and are a captive audience….. who can hold the local schools and the district accountable at this juncture?"

I think this is a great question. Whom would you suggest?

I live on Beacon Hill (at the south border of 98144), and I know something about what's going on in Southeast Seattle schools. I have seen improvement. I have seen strong programs emerge at Beacon Hill, Maple, and Van Asselt. I see one coming at Dearborn Park.

Most promising, I see the District leadership, meaning the Chief Academic Officer and certain members of the Board, who are stepping up to their responsibility and expecting District-level intervention at schools that aren't working well.

It should not be some special, one-time effort for the District to get involved in failing schools. That should be their standard practice.

At high school we can suggest what that involvement should be: providing advanced classes, art, music, and drama to assure the full range of opportunity. It's a little trickier at middle school, and trickier still in the elementary schools.

Is it reduced class sizes? An extended school day or school year? Is it the introduction of popular programs? Is it a change of leadership or teachers? What will it take to make a difference?

Now that we all recognize that the District needs to intervene with failing schools, what form should that intervention take?

Roy Smith said...

98118 wrote: 98118 is not a number – it is a zip code. Aren't zip codes numbers? :) My point is actually that you have a distinct, yet anonymous, way of identifying yourself as the author of your posts, and I wish everybody on this blog would do something like that. And yes, I figured that your zip code is what your particular number is.

98118 wrote: I understand the public policy notions that Roy has mentioned. It would be best if we all could hang in there and continue to sacrifice for common good and predictability. That dog does not hunt for me. It looks like southeast Seattle is to carry the heaviest burden the farthest distance for the longest period of time.

Like Charlie, I am curious about your ideas on how to rectify this situation. Complaining about a problem doesn't help much if you aren't willing to offer ideas for solutions.

98118 wrote: However, the reassignment plan does not benifit those residing in the southeast. The plan ought to work for all not just those that get guaranteed seats in desirable schools.

Gee, a plan that solves all our problems at once certainly would be lovely. Does anybody who has followed the goings on in SPS for any length of time think that such a thing is really possible?

Attacking a solution that makes some of the problems better (like predictability of assignment) simply because it doesn't make your individual problem better is the epitome of poor public policy. I can't see how the new student assignment policy makes your problems worse - at worst, it just doesn't help you any - and it does address in a useful way some of the predictability problems which are a huge issue for many families that have to deal with the school district.

98118 wrote: I also think that the Southeast Initiative is a smoke screen. As Charlie wrote, if this isn't real, then what would be?

I really do sympathize with you and the dilemma you are in. However, I think that attacking a plan which does fix real problems simply because you don't feel it fixes your individual problem is counterproductive, and it reduces the public discourse about school policy to the level of dogs fighting over table scraps.

Anonymous said...

If you want a rigorous academic program then Hale is not for you. It's a nicey nicey school. You can get in their drama program because it is not a strong program, and it is not in demand.



for some reason I have Alanis Morisette going through my head

I counted Hales multiple nominations and honorable mentions but ....
Wheres Roosevelt?

http://www.5thavenue.org/education/
highschoolawards-2007.aspx

Anonymous said...

Roosevelt didn't participate in the 5th Ave Theatre, so couldn't have won an award. Are you suggesting that Hale has a better drama program than Roosevelt? If, so tell me more, I'd like to hear about it. Will be looking at HS for my child in the next year, so want all the info I can get.

Anonymous said...

My opinion about Hale vs Roosevelt has been discussed a bit here, but I'll let you know my perspective based on talking to other parents.

They have 2 distinct personalities. Some descriptions I have heard about Roosevelt include "college prep factory" "teaches to mainstream kids, not good at teaching to any particular special needs kids" "Very competitive - difficult for kids to play on certain teams, certain programs because it is so competitive"

Nathan Hale - "smaller tight community" "more personal" "can cater to different types of different kids including smart and special needs"

These are VERY distinct personalities. This is my one fear with the new assignment plan. I want predictability and choice and the problem is that with NE Seattle there isn't a lot of excess capacity so if my neighborhood is assigned to Nathan Hale, even though Roosevelt is closer, I can forget about my kids having a chance of getting into Roosevelt due to capacity issues. So the only advantage of predictability is we can move or look into private schools if we want to go to those extremes...or if the reverse was true - one of my children was special needs and would do better in Nathan Hale's environment but our neighborhood was assigned Roosevelt, in 8 years when we would be at that place would Nathan Hale have capacity given the school age boom happening in NE Seattle.

I feel now I prefer the assignment plan because I want predictability, but I want the capacity issue taken seriously at the Middle and High School level.

north end mom said...

Anonymous at 945A re-iterates the points that I made in my previous post. She says about Nathan Hale "one of my children was special needs and would do better in Nathan Hale", she also says "Nathan Hale is a smaller, tight community "more personal" "can cater to different types of different kids including smart and special needs"

It is a pattern. Special needs and out of the box kids do better at Hale. As for the "smart" kids, why would they choose Hale? They don't offer advanced level classes (AP,IB) etc.

Nothing against Hale, as I said in my previous post. Just know what you are getting. It IS and alternative type school with comprehensive, traditional componenents. Roosevelt is you average, traditional, comprehensive HS with a good college prep curiculum.

Anonymous said...

I do know a family whose daughter is extremely smart. She went one year at Eckstein and was overwhelmed by the size/did not do well in that environment. She went to University Prep for the remaining 2 years of middle school and then completely excelled at Nathan Hale. It's done her well and so I'm sure she will go to a nop notch college. I don't think you can say that Nathan Hale would fail all smart people. Some really smart kids - the kids who would do best at a smaller East Coast private college, also would do better at a smaller high school.

Anonymous said...

As North end mom said, Hale does well with kids that are "outside the box" not your mainstream average kid. In the case of your neighbors kid, she was outside the box. She did not do well in a large traditional middle school. 1200 other mainstream students did. Hale is perfect for these "out of the box", kids. The problem is when you have a mainstream, traditional kid, who can't get into a traditional, comprehensive HS and HAS to go to Hale. Hale and Roosevelt are not equal. They are both great for what they are, but they are not and should not be interchangeable. If the district makes a mandatory assignment plan, neither the out of the box kid or the mainstream kid will benefit. If the kid who thrives on AP classes and a copetetive band has to go to Hale it will not be a good fit. If the kid who needs a smaller school, quirky, creative environment, can't get into Hale, it will not be a good fit. I think what previous posters were trying to say isn't that Hale is a "bad" school, it's just very different from Roosevelt.

proud Hale mom said...

I have to say that I resent the comment that "smart" kids don't belong at Hale. I brought two kids into the district who were involved in the gifted program in our previous school district in another state, who would have had to wait here to qualify for APP under the plan that was in effect when we moved. One is now at Hale, and is thriving. The other is thriving at Salmon Bay. Both schools are great at letting kids go as deeply into a topic/issue as they are able, and encourage critical thinking at all levels, not just for kids in the AP program.

I also work heavily with middle school and high school kids from all over the city, and have to admit that I've been surprised by what I've seen for kids in AP at Roosevelt and Ballard (the only school I actually know kids in AP). The junior level US History AP course is using the same textbook that I used in honors US History 25 years ago (yes, an updated edition, but the same text - authors, etc.). That text was widely used in colleges at the time (I ended up using it again my freshman year of college), but I haven't seen it used in college in years. My husband has a Ph.D. in history and has taught for many years at the college level and doesn't use the same text that long. It makes me wonder how often the curriculum is reviewed and brought up to date with current scholarship. Is this really critical thinking? It would be easy for me to think that "AP" indicated higher level thinking, but after some research, I'm not certain it always does.

As far as the competetiveness of Hale's music and drama programs - no, they're not Roosevelt's. They are, however, competetive to many other high schools. They are easy to overlook in comparison to Roosevelt, however the jazz band played Carnegie Hall last year, they regularly take awards at Lionel Hampton and other regional festivals. Hale's musicals have been extensively supported for the past five years, and they tend to do really quirky, satirical pieces that the high school kids enjoy.

Hale has nationally recognized radio and horticulture programs, as well as a nationally ranked ultimate team. "No cut" sports does not mean that there's no competitiveness. And last time I looked, the percent of college bound seniors from Hale was mere points behind Roosevelt, although I believe only 10% of Roosevelt students were headed first to a 2 year college, and about 20% of Hale's were. Of course, that may also say something about socio-economic demographics. Hale regularly sends kids to ivy league and other high quality private and public schools.

North end mom said...

Once again, I'mnot saying anything is wrong with Hale. Not saying it is a bad school. I am just saying it is different from Roosevelt or any other traditional HS. Proud Hale Mom says it in her post.

"they tend to do really quirky, satirical pieces that the high school kids enjoy. "

Opposed to the traditional productions that Roosevelt does.

"Hale has a nationally ranked ultimate team. "

That's because Ultimate is a relatively non competetive sport. Self refereed, etc. Hale does not have a competetive organized sport team.

"I believe only 10% of Roosevelt students were headed first to a 2 year college, and about 20% of Hale's were."

This is exactly what I said in my earlier post. If you want CC then Hale is for you. If you want Ivy League, or UW go to Roosevelt. Your chances of getting into a 4 yr univ are better at Roosevelt. Unfortunate as it is, schools look at AP classes, foreign language (you need 4 years for ivy league now), and higher level math.

And lastly you say ". One is now at Hale, and is thriving. The other is thriving at Salmon Bay. Both schools are great at letting kids go as deeply into a topic/issue as they are able"

You are obviously a fan of alternative style education, and that is OK. It is important though for the public to recognize Hale as an alternative school. They do not identify themselves as alternative on any district descriptions. But they are. I have a child who went to Salmon Bay also, and while theyy do encourage letting kids go as deeply as able into a topic, it can backfire. We had a son who was very smart, but not very motivated (as many 13 year old boys are). He was able to turn in very minimal, sub standard work, and make straight A's at Salmon Bay. This is part of the alternative "they are doing their best" mentatlity. It did not work for us. He is now at a traditional school, where there is a standard. A bar so to speak. And he has to reach it to make the grade. For an unmotivated kid, sometimes more structure is necessary.

Anonymous said...

"I brought two kids into the district who were involved in the gifted program in our previous school district in another state, who would have had to wait here to qualify for APP under the plan that was in effect when we moved."

I was told recently that children who have been in a different gifted program before moving to Seattle can test in August for September entry.

ultimate fan said...

north end mom, I think you must not have seen or played much Ultimate or we have a different definition of "competitive".

As a former player, I know that even at the co rec level it requires as much stamina, quickness, athleticism and strength as any other high school sport - often more.

If high school is like college or post-college play, to be nationally ranked is no cake walk and is every bit the accomplishment that it would be in a traditional sport like basketball.

The "self refereed" element is icing on the cake, as is the "spirit of the game" - kids learn to play for the joy of the competition and to resolve their own disputes based on agreed-upon rules.

They're not trying to fake out the ref and they don't dish their problems over to someone else to adjudicate - good life skills, I think, and if this is "alternative" I'm all for it!

You may also know that Ultimate competition grew via some of the highest-caliber (and hard to get into) private colleges in the country.

Nice article about Ultimate (and another popular kind of competition called "Freestyle") from a couple of years ago here

Check out next year's spring league play on Sundays at Magnuson - it's great to watch.

The Disc NW website has lots of information about play at all levels.

I hope Ultimate is still an option at Hale when my elementary-age kids are ready for high school (and that they still have the option to go there) - and I'll look for a middle school where it's played, too.

Anonymous said...

North End Mom - I am another "North End Mom" who moved to my neighborhood with Roosevelt being in mind as the high school we'd like to send our kids. There are a lot of things that I like about Roosevelt, some I do not. We are still years out from high school but I wanted to bring this up.

I understand that Roosevelt is geared towards being a "college prep" high school. I also feel the anxiety of both the way the assignment process is now and how it might be with 2 very different high schools. I get all that.

What I wanted to say is the way you are communicating your feelings is very offensive to any parents who send or would like to send their children to Hale. Do you have statistics about kids in Hale struggling to get into 4 year colleges or Ivy league? I just don't buy that smart children who go to Nathan Hale would be doomed. I also believe that the new principal will only make the school better.

Hale may have an alternative feel that you or I may not feel is right for our family, but you can't make statements that the sports suck, the extra curricular activities are sub par and if you go there you will be headed to community college. Those are not fair statements.

Lets fight the system to make sure we can get our kids in a neighborhood school that fits our kids rather than insulting the families who choose the school as it is. You are fighting for your children to have the right to have strong academics and sports available to them in your neighborhood - concentrate on that.

JMO from another North End mom who would probably prefer Roosevelt, but am happy I don't have to face this issue for several years.

classof75 said...

oh off topic- my favorite
this is connected to ultimate-
http://frisbee-belgium.skynetblogs.be/
cause the Nike commercial stars a local boy - who went to Uchicago ( the place fun goes to die)
aand he went to school with twins who are lax players from Nathan Hale!
way to go zino!
http://www.discology.co.uk/i/Frisbee60s.mpg

But anyway- yeah I would agree that implying that those who attend Hale are just not competing at the "same level" as students at Roosevelt- is offensive and inaccurate.

I also do not think that is a common perception among the informed.
I know several students personally, whose kids attended Hale, when their neighborhood school was Ballard or Roosevelt.

Yes the music program isn't as strong at Hale as at Garfield, no, Hale doesn't have a maritime program like Ballard or a brandnew building like Roosevelt.

But just as students who didn't get into their first choice college, often come to realize that while they could transfer for the next year, by this time they don't want to change, that where you go to school is more complex than this school is a good fit and this school isn't.

soon to be HS parent said...

So much controversy over Hale vs Roosevelt. We live in the NE, and will be looking at both schools for our 9th grader next year. Can someone that share what they know about Hale? What don't they offer that Roosevelt does in the way of academics? Is it only AP courses, or are they lacking in other areas? Do they have all of the sports teams, drama, music that Roosevelt has just on a smaller scale, or are they lacking some of these amenities too? Anything else you can share with me would be helpful, and of course we will go to the open house when the time comes. Anybody know if the new principal, Marni Campbell has any plans to impove or add programs, facilities? And, lastly when will they do the remodel? Will it require them leaving the building for a year?
Thanks

Roy Smith said...

north end mom -

The general tone of your posts reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: "The Perfect is the enemy of the Good." The general impression of Hale that I get through everything I hear about it is that it is a generally good program. However, in the minds of those who must have the best and nothing else for their children, the mere existence of Roosevelt three miles away relegates Hale to the "be avoided at all costs" category. This is not because Hale is bad, it is because it is not "the best".

Anonymous 7:10 wrote: I wasn't suggesting that kids that go to Hale or any other less competetive HS can not go to college. But it does put them at a disadvantage. In today's world where college admission is very very competetive, it is tougher for these students to get in to a 4 year University like UW. And forget about an IVY league school. If this is what you are after, it probably won't happen for you after graduating from a school like Hale, unless you are a minority or have some other advantage that makes you appealing to an admissions board.

This is a common misperception. College admissions boards don't care that much where a student went to high school. What they do care about is that the student took the most challenging academic curriculum that was available at the high school that they attended, and that they excelled in that program. I saw this from first hand experience - I went to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis (typically they have a 10-15% acceptance rate out of the total applicant pool), and I had many classmates that attended less than prestigious high schools (and in some cases, down right bad high schools). I also knew people who attended very prestigious high schools and did reasonably well academically who did not get in.

The bottom line is that if your children are motivated enough and academically talented enough to get into an Ivy League university, they will be able to do so whether they attend Roosevelt or Hale, or even Cleveland or Rainier Beach. If they aren't that motivated and talented, sending them to Roosevelt isn't going to make up the difference.

North end mom said...

No Roy Smith it is not because it is not the best, it is because it is different. Different programs, different environment. Alternative, in that it is not a traditional program. We tried alternative (AEII and Salmon Bay), it didn't work for our children. We want traditional. Is that so bad?? Is it OK with you? The tone I get from your posts is anger? Why?

Charlie Mas said...

For what it's worth, I didn't get an angry vibe from the post by roy smith. On the contrary, I thought it was concillatory.

I think that we have established very well that Hale and Roosevelt are different, but that each school serves students well. Some students and families will prefer one, some will prefer the other, and some will find either acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Have you looked at the UW entrance requirements recently. It's not like when you and I went to college, and almost anybody was accepted to a 4 year state university. Even if you didn't have a 3.8 GPA, or 1/2 year of service learning, or 3 years of foreighn language, or Calulous. It's much more competetive now, and colleges pick and choose from amongst the best students. That's not to say kids from Hale, RBHS, Clevelandcan't get in, but they have to have the classes available to them, and a high level of motivation. kids need every advantage that they can get.

Anonymous said...

To "soon to be HS parent," there is a good, brief summary of Hale's model at http://www.k12.wa.us/research/pub
docs/HighSchoolsWeNeed.pdf

you will need to go to pages 204-205.

To "anonymous at 8:30 a.m." Hale has aligned its graduation requirements with college entry requirements, requiring 22 credits to graduate as opposed to the SPS standard of 20 (and the state standard of 19). This doesn't make a big difference when comparing Roosevelt to Hale since college bound students will need to get these credits in anyway, but because Hale has done this you will find that they do offer the classes needed for college entry. A complete list of Hale classes can be found on their website.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I just checked Hale's website, and find that Hale actually requires 23.5 credits for the classes of 2008 and beyond. According to the SPS website, only 20 are required for 2008 and beyond.