Tuesday, June 12, 2007

School Assignment Plan discussion on KUOW Tomorrow

Tomorrow on KUOW's Weekday at 9 am, Cheryl Chow and Michael DeBell will be talking with Marcie Sillman about the proposed changes to the school assignment plan.

Call (206) 543-5869, (800) 289-5869, or e-mail weekday@kuow.org to join in the discussion.

If you miss the broadcast in the morning, you can listen to it later by visiting the Weekday page on the web.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just found out my child's kindergarten class will have 35 kids. Is this a joke? Why do we need to close schools, so the teachers can practice being ranchers? My child is being treated like cattle instead of a child who has the right to learn at a school. What is the class limit? Is there none?

Anonymous said...

YIKES!!!

What school will your child be going to?

If true, it's time for Seattlites to put their feet down or move to the burbs.

Anonymous said...

Are you in NE Seattle? I know that my daughter's school got a call that there were tons of kids that did not get in a school in that cluster and so they had to add a 4th Kindergarten class in order to keep the class size down - but they are scrambling to find space.

I still cannot believe they were considering closing Sacajewea. They desperately need to add capacity in NE Seattle at all levels - I can only see it getting worse.

Anonymous said...

I sympathize with the posters above - the situation with crowded schools in the North end is becoming ridiculous. More and more young families are moving in, but there is not enough capacity.

I would strongly urge that you contact Tracy Libros, the Enrollment Services manager, and register a complaint.

This is not the first year that they have done this - kindergarten enrollments at some popular north-end elementaries have been growing each year, and all we are told is that the district demographer made an error.

I myself, do not understand the purpose of a wait list, if it is never used.

Anonymous said...

The northeast cluster always over-enrolls kindergartens knowing that many will not show up.

The bad news for the district is that due to the lack of capacity and not getting access at the school of their choice, many of these over-enrolled kindergartens will lose the students not to another cluster school, but rather a private school.

In my opinion the student assignment process is seriously flawed as it will result in smaller reference areas to meet the neighborhood capacity and more parents will opt out of the district rather than accept a more limited choice in an over-enrolled cluster.

Another NE mom

Roy Smith said...

If anybody who is reading this is concerned about overcrowding in their child's class and is willing to consider alternative education, I know that there is still space available at AS#1, and the average class size there is under 20 students.

Anonymous 9:30 wrote: I still cannot believe they were considering closing Sacajewea.

I can. Not that it made any sense, as posters here are pointing out, but the political north/south divide that exists in the district would have made it political suicide to suggest that schools in the central area or on the south end be closed while not reducing capacity on the north end.

As long as there are people who are willing to label any effort to relieve overcrowding in the north end or to draw private school students back into the public schools as "institutional racism", it is unlikely that this situation will change.

Anonymous said...

My child will attend K at a NW school; it has been desciribed as a "gem in the North West cluster." I was just told we would be one of 35 students.
How can that school be one of the best? Are other good schools being pushed to take this many K students?

Anonymous said...

Roy, as a South Seattle parent with a young daughter at a fine school once on the closure list (with 360+ students), I would gently point out it is not a "us against them" world. Racism isn't some abstract concept, just as overcrowding isn't. The closure process used flawed criteria applied in deeply unfair ways, belive me. Can't we look out for all our children rather than pitting the north end against the south end? Sadly, it's far more complicated than that simple scenario. Most of all, we have a serious problem with state funding.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 2:33. It is not racism. It is necessity to close schools in the south end. The majority of schools closed in the 70's were white, north end schools. That has left the north end over crowded, as more and more families move into north east seattle neighborhoods. The South end on the other hand was not heavily affected by colures in the 70s and thus has much more capacity than it does kids to fill the seats. Schools are half full, and many are failing due to the lack of funding that comes with a 1/2 full school. It is not racism. Stop using that. Why is it that anything that affects any minority in any way is racist?

Anonymous said...

In terms of the school closures, it still burns me a bit that anyone still can believe favoritism didn't play a part. Take the big check Ken Alhadeff wrote to Sacajewea during the process. It's wonderful for anyone to donate to a school no doubt, and it seems like a wonderful school, but on the surface, it didn't exactly feel neutral.

Charlie Mas said...

Ah, closures and racism.

Some say that schools in the south-end were closed because they had predominantly minority populations.

I say then - and I say now - that the schools were not closed because they were half full of minority students, but because they were half full. Anyone who cannot see that isn't looking at the data.

But here's what I learned when I listened to people:

Yes, the schools are half full. But let's explore a little deeper. There are lots of students in the neighborhood, so why are the schools half full? The schools are half full because families are sending their students out of the neighborhood for school. They are sending their children north for desirable programs.

IF the desirable programs were in the south-end schools, then the students would be in the south-end schools, so the schools would not be half-full, so the schools would not be closed.

The District's management practices deprived these schools of the desirable programs - despite the demand for them in the community - and therefore deprived the schools of the enrollment needed to remain viable.

If you're looking for institutionalized racism, that's where you will find it: in the District's non-response over the past ten years to the dwindling enrollment at these schools.

And why is does this non-response get the odious label of racist - albeit the institutionalized variety? Because the triggers to a District response were put outside the reach of the African-American, Southeast Asian, South Pacific Islander and Latino communities. It is as if a group of tall people agreed that a top shelf was a good place to put something, not thinking that shorter people couldn't reach it there. They weren't TRYING to keep it away from the short folks, they just forgot to consider the reach of everyone in the group. It's not intentional - it's just an outcome of ethnocentric thinking.

The southend communities were unable to get the District to intervene when something went wrong at their school, so it didn't get fixed, so the community chose other schools.

I think this is why I find the Southeast Initiative so great.

Even more promising are the recent moves towards earlier District intervention when schools don't make their benchmarks. It provides an equitable and data-based trigger for District level intervention rather than the previous politically and financially based ones.

Roy Smith said...

Anonymous at 2:33, I agree completely with what you are saying, with regards to the fact that neither racism nor overcrowding are abstract issues.

My point is that there are people in our community (a minority I think, although a very loud one) who will paint almost any effort to relieve overcrowding in the north end as "institutional racism". This happened during Phase I of the school closures when Sacajawea was removed from the closure list (Closure plan is institutionally racist). Quoting from the article: Eighty-two percent of the children and families who would have their school taken away from them, whose lives would be disrupted and who would be compelled to start again in a new school would be children of color. This is a blatant case of institutional racism, since a disproportionate outcome is the key characteristic of institutional racism.

When Manhas removed Sacajawea Elementary School from the closure list, with its 61-percent white student population, he intensified the racist character of his proposal.


Never mind the fact that Sacajawea was full, had high demand, and is in a corner of the city that does not have excess capacity. Danny Westneat pegged the real reasons for the pattern of Phase I closures in an editorial (Closure strategy is valid):

For all the shrillness about racism, the reason more schools are slated for closure in the minority-heavy South End is far more mundane. It's because enrollment is declining there.

Some neighborhoods south of Interstate 90 are slated to see enrollment drops of 30 to 40 percent in the next decade. It's mostly due to demographics and birth rates, the district says.

Yet enrollment is rising in the north — what one parent dubbed "Whiteyworld." Wallingford, Queen Anne and north Green Lake are all expected to see the number of kids in public school soar by 50 percent or more.

So yes, most schools on the kill list are south of the Ship Canal. It's not racism. It's where fewer schools are needed.


Racism is a real issue that must be addressed. However, there is also a real issue of members of our community who label things as "racist" when it is fairly clear that they are not. This happens much more than many would like to admit, and it is very unhelpful when we are trying to address real problems (including real problems of racism).

Roy Smith said...

charlie mas wrote: IF the desirable programs were in the south-end schools, then the students would be in the south-end schools, so the schools would not be half-full, so the schools would not be closed.

Charlie - your point is well taken, if the data backs it up. My questions: Where can we get the data? Are there really that many children that go to elementary school outside their cluster? And if there are, where are they going - are they going to other clusters, or to private schools?

One other question: if we stipulate that your point that "the District's non-response over the past ten years to the dwindling enrollment at these schools" is in fact the cause of their enrollment troubles, and we also stipulate that closing schools was in fact the correct and effective way to respond to the district's financial situation, then was the way the Phase 1 closures worked out appropriate, in your view?

I'm not trying to be adversarial with either of these questions, I am just trying to shed some light on where there are real problems and where there are problems with overheated rhetoric.

Charlie Mas said...

roy smith, have I got good news for you!

The data is now available on the District web site in the section with maps and data about the new student assignment plan.

There is data on the six continuing elementary schools in the Southeast cluster. There is no data posted for Rainier View - which is a huge gap.

The data shows that only 22% of the students attend their reference area school. Other than Brighton at 31%, the rates for all of the other schools is between 17% for Wing Luke and 22% for Graham Hill. 64% of cluster students, however, do attend a southeast cluster neighborhood school (I did not include The New School in that count). 15% of them attend an alternative school or The New School. 14% of them attend a school in the South cluster. That leaves only 6% of them to attend a reference area school in another cluster - half of the in the Central cluster.

This data set is, of course, incomplete because it lacks the data on the one school of greatest interest to us: Rainier View.

The results in the South cluster are much more mixed. There, 30% of the students attend their reference area school, with the range running from 17% at Hawthorne to 46% at Beacon Hill. 71% of the cluster students attend a neighborhood school in their cluster. 13% attend alternative schools, 5% attend a Southeast cluster school, and 10% attend a reference area school in another cluster.

Again, the reference area with the data we are most interested in seeing, Whitworth, was not posted on the internet.

I'll get the middle school data next.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me about Sacajewea receiving funds from Ken Alhadeff? How about TT Minor and it's million dollar (private) investment. How about the New School? How about what TAF was proposing. You must be kidding me, if you are suggesting racism by Sacajewea getting a hand. And, by the way Sacajewea has a huge enlglish language learners program, and has a huge ethiopian community. One of the most diverse schools in the NE cluster. Surely if it was racism, they would have chosen a much more WHITE school like Laurelurst, no???

Anonymous said...

OK, Charlie, I just don't your institutionalized racism theory. Suggesting that the district hasn't done anything to uplifft south end schools. The district hasn't done anything to uplift north end schools either. It is the community that uplifts and makes a great school. And, I don't think it boils down to lot of $$$ either, because some of the schools with the strongest community are of mid and lower income, like Bagley, Sacajewea, Olympic View etc.

The district has never MADE a good school (with the exception of the john stanford school, due John Stanford's incredible vision), the community makes a good school. How about alternative schools. The district continually kicks them, puts them in the worst buildings, threatens to close or move them almost annually. THEY band together and make their programs the success that they are. They work hard to improve and sustain alternative education. Not the district. Instead of pointing the finger at institutionalized racism, lets point the finger at the south end communities. If you want to dig deep, start there. Why have THEY let their schools fall into such dire straights?? Why do they not work to improve them?

I am really getting tired of the racism issue. It's not an excuse. It's not a free ride card. If you want good schools you have to be a good parent, work with your children, volunteer in your schools, and work hard at improving them. I came from a very low income family, and my mother always found time to bake for bake sales, go to PTA meetings, do homework with me. It doesn' take $$$ it takes drive. Where is the drive?? Look there, Charlie. And, by the way we are a family of color.

Anonymous said...

Racism, such an important issue, is now becoming a joke in Seattle. It is so over used, that when there is a case of real racism, everyone will turn the other cheek. It will be like the boy who cried wolf. Please, for the sake of justice, reserve the acusations of racism for true cases of discrimination.

Roy Smith said...

Thanks Charlie!

It's refreshing to find detailed raw data for a change - so often I look for it and it is either difficult to find or completely unavailable.

Now I need to spend some time crunching numbers and see what conclusions can be drawn from the data ...

Anonymous said...

Roy and Charles, the number of students a school attracts from its reference area does not necessarily correlate with overall enrollment. At least one of the schools you list in the SE is 95% enrolled. And interestingly, more than 80% of the students live within 2 miles of the the school. Reference areas have not been reviewed in a very long time.

south ender

Anonymous said...

p.s. Does anyone know whether the New School has been deemed 'alternative' by SPS or not? I didn't think it was but it seems I've seen it listed that way lately.

Also, today when the SE initiative was discussed, Cleveland, RB & Aki Kurose were listed. What happened to the AAA?

south ender

Anonymous said...

Can a school really put 35, five year old kids in a class with one teacher? That must be illegal, I know it is immoral.

JAM said...

Amen to the anonymous blogger who said that "it is the community that uplifts and makes a great school".

No more excuses folks. Roll up your sleeves and invest in your neighborhood schools. If you wait for the District to do it, you'll be waiting for a long time.

It isn't always about money, poverty, the language you speak at home, or the color of your skin. All kids can achieve with structure, discipline and good teachers in the classroom. Parents have to get involved in their children's education and help turn these schools around. No it isn't easy, but it can be done.

Anonymous said...

Regarding a K with smaller enrollment, I have a question about AS 1. While I don't totally judge a school based on test scores, I checked the School Digger website for 2006 WASL scores and AS 1 ranked dead last in WA. What caused such low scores? Do a large number of students opt out of testing?

The first thing I check when looking at a school is their K program. I think it's key to how well students will do as they progress through the grades. Opinions from AS 1 parents are appreciated. *New to Seattle*

Roy Smith said...

AS#1 has a WASL opt out rate that usually runs around 50%, and even higher in some years. The school is somewhat unique in that it advertises the fact that parents have the right to opt their child out of WASL testing, and even sends home a WASL opt-out form to all families at the start of the year. They do not do much in the way of formal testing of any sort, and to put it bluntly, the community doesn't care much what its WASL scores are. There are no letter or numerical grades in any of the classes, but there are comprehensive written assessments for each child in lieu of report cards.

All the classes are multi-grade classes, including Kindergarten. My daughter is in a K-2 classroom this year, although I think that next year all Kindergarteners will be in a K-1 class.

Most of the kids seem to genuinely love the school. Many of the parents are very heavily involved, and an awful lot of the good things that happen there are due to this high level of parent involvement. My family and I are very happy there.

A tour of the school is required before you are allowed to enroll your child at AS#1. It isn't required, but I would recommend that you take your child with you on the tour. I encourage you to investigate the school, but I will also say that alternative education is not the right choice for everyone. The school environment is not highly structured, and that seems be a common theme underlying complaints of people I have heard who dislike AS#1. Here is the link to the AS#1 website.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:33 said "The closure process used flawed criteria applied in deeply unfair ways, belive me."

If you understood even remotely what the criteria were, or how they were applied, you'd never say that.

Anonymous said...

"I just found out my child's kindergarten class will have 35 kids."

Simmer down, the contractual cap between SEA and the District for kindergarten 25. They go over 25, they have to pay more and provide extra classroom support in the form of IAs. If there are 35 students on the rolls now, that is because so many kindergarteners are no shows.

Anonymous said...

To 9:30
That is untrue. We had 28 in my NW school and did not get an assistant or tutor.
The burden is all on the parents-thank our lucky stars most of us can help out daily-- and the one "over-worked" teacher.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 9:21

Anyone with analytical skills can look at the data used for the closure process and see that very selective choice of data points and lack of statistical significance was found.

The data parameters changed school to school to make the data match the argument the CAC wanted to make. In some cases, OPSI data was pulled for schools with same names as Seattle Public Schools that were actually located in other districts. The data analysis was appalling. The schools that looked at the CAC's own raw data available on their website found vastly different results when the data was assessed against the board's approved criteria.

In a simplistic analysis you can look at the inventory of 15 elementary schools in the SE and 6 in the northeast with basically the same enrollment and realize where the closures needed to be. Additionally, the future growth is projected in the NE and declining enrollment in the SE.

Don't try to make it out to be a data based decision making model. It wasn't!

Anonymous said...

-I just found out my child's kindergarten class will have 35 kids.-

From who? I have to say, this kind of thing is often a rumour stirred up around whatever big issue is going on, i.e. closure, assignment plan, ect to sway parents to take aggresive action, even the issue turns out to be a non-issue.

Roy Smith said...

Charlie - the information for the missing schools is in the PDF version of the data spreadsheet. It's weird that they didn't work up the pretty graphs for all of the schools, but the data is still available, even if slightly inaccessible.

Anonymous said...

Our principal told us the news of the 67 kids who chose our school. We only have two Kindergarten rooms. I doubt principals, at least this highly-capable, sucessful one, would spread rumors.

classof75 said...

The district supposedly has passed levies to lower class size particulary in K-2.

Both my children attended private kindergartens as there wasn't anything that I felt was appropriate that wasn't overbooked already in SPS. This however was some time ago.Long before I-728.

Once parents start finding alternatives, like co-op 5s programs, small privates that serve K-2, or even moving, it is difficult to rejoin the district.

We are not affluent, - but very blue collar and our income is more similiar to national average than the regional Puget Sound average which is higher.

But like other families, we feel that the early grades are very important, and this is an area which really can set the tone for future involvement with/from the district.

As Kindergarten is generally the first place the district has contact with a family,I think it is small class size is critical to insure that every student is on the same page- even when they come from disparate backgrounds.
http://www.weac.org/sage/research/
gsclasssize.htm

Thirty five, is larger than some of my older daughters classes in college.( and twice the size of her high school graduating class)

I am not that familiar with AS#1, but as a somewhat experienced parent, I feel that class size is important enough to look elsewhere to find something that works, even if you don't think they will stay through 5th grade.

However, the SEA union mandates that teachers in high school, cannot accept more than 32 students, even if the course does not warrant another section, and the teacher is willing to accept an overload ( and the school is willing to pay the fine for the overload to the teacher)
So- something seems off, if a K class is anticipated at being over the class size limit for high school.

Roy Smith said...

charlie mas wrote (with regards to school closures and institutional racism): Yes, the schools {on the south end} are half full. But let's explore a little deeper. There are lots of students in the neighborhood, so why are the schools half full? The schools are half full because families are sending their students out of the neighborhood for school. They are sending their children north for desirable programs.

IF the desirable programs were in the south-end schools, then the students would be in the south-end schools, so the schools would not be half-full, so the schools would not be closed.


Well, that would be a perfect example of institutional racism, if it were backed up by data showing families actually sending their kids north for school. Only problem is ... the data doesn't show that.

Digging through the numbers, I discovered that the net transfer of elementary students from south of the ship canal to north of the ship canal is a total of 83 students - out of a total elementary population of 21,595 students. That is about 0.4% of the student population, which is definitely not a big enough number to support your theory.

I looked at the numbers a variety of ways, and it appears to me that no matter how you slice it, the following things are apparent:
1) The vast majority of elementary school students attend school in their cluster.
2) The only clusters in which over 10% of the elementary students are attending school in another cluster are the north, south, and southeast clusters. In the north cluster, most students who go to another cluster stay north of the ship canal; in the south and southeast clusters, most of the students who leave their home cluster attend school in the south and central clusters (for kids in the southeast cluster) or the southeast and central clusters (for kids in the south cluster).
3) There are specific schools which families are avoiding, but they don't flee very far; usually to a different school in the same cluster or sometimes to a school in an adjacent cluster.

The bottom line that I have come to is that more schools were closed on the south end than on the north end is that there was more excess capacity in the south end, and this situation was not created because families who live in the south end were sending their children north.

There are still problems that need to be fixed throughout the district, and I think the Southeast initiative is a good idea (or, at least, its the best idea that anybody has troubled themselves to put forth). I do not think that the current state of affairs with regards to how full the schools are in different parts of the city has anything to do with racism, institutional or otherwise.

kirsten wild said...

A few things: I wish the District had data on kids that attend private schools (do they? I've haven't found it). My understanding of the SE cluster is that for the most part elementary schools are acceptable and parents aren't sending their kid out of the SE cluster for (public) elementary school. The big exodus (to other clusters and to private schools) happens at middle-school and high-school level.

To 6:14 PM "south-ender" Anonymous: the New School is not an alternative school by SPS definition. It's in a case all by itself - it has no reference area and is open to multiple clusters but because it has been popular, all of its recent enrollees have lived within a mile or less of the school.

On a totall random note: why does eveyone identify themselves as anonymous? It makes it difficult to track these conversations and difficult to respond to individual comments.

Charlie Mas said...

I have reviewed the middle school data and this is what I have found.

First, there are 9527 middle school students in Seattle. 7958 of them (84%) are enrolled in one of the ten comprehensive traditional middle schools.

Some regions do an excellent job of retaining students. There are 1681 middle school students living in the Southwest region. 1426 of them, 85%, attend either Madison or Denny. Another 51 (3%) are at Washington APP and only 113 of them (7%) are at another comprehensive middle school. That includes an undetermined number at Washington Spectrum. That's West Seattle for you. Those folks hate to cross that bridge.

The northeast region does a good job of retaining students. There are 1940 middle school students in the region and 1454 of them, 75%, are at either Eckstein or Hamilton. There's 184 (9%) at Whitman or McClure and 122 (6%) at Washington APP, and only 53 (3%) at other comprehensive middle schools.

The northwest region also does a good job of retaining students. Of the 1569 middle school students living in the region, 1156, (74%) attend either Whitman or McClure. Another 103 (6%) attend Washington APP and an equal number, 103, attend Hamilton, which, for some of them, is the closest school. Other than Hamilton, however, only 91, (6%) attend another comprehensive middle school.

The story in the Southeast and Central regions are completely different.

There are 2164 middle school students in the southeast region, but only 50% of them, 1081, attend either Mercer or Aki Kurose, the southeast region comprehensive middle schools.

About 12% of them are enrolled at either Meany or Washington (non-APP), the central region middle schools. So about 28% of the southeast region students, about one in four, are enrolled at an alternative school, APP, or a comprehensive middle school outside the southeast and central regions. A quarter of them have "gone north". I find that a significant number.

There are 1630 middle school students in the central region. To make an apples to apples comparison, we must subtract the 76 at Washington APP, leaving 1554. Even still, only 51% of them, 715, attend Meany or Washington (non-APP), the central region comprehensive middle schools.

About 10% of the Central region middle school students are enrolled at either Mercer or Aki Kurose, the Southeast region comprehensive middle schools.

So about 39% of the central region students are enrolled at an alternative school, APP, or a comprehensive middle school outside the southeast and central regions. Two out of five of them have "gone north". I find that a significant number.

Upon closer inspection, we see that Mercer is actually drawing pretty well. It has 602 southeast region students, 107 central region students, and a total enrollment of 738. This is pretty good given that it is the closest middle school for only 635 students total (in the central and souteast regions). A number of students are coming to Mercer even though it is not their closest school. The enrollment number at Mercer is 1.16 times the number of students who live closest to it - despite the fact that it is not a reference middle school for a significant number of them.

Aki Kurose, on the other hand, drew only 479 students from the southeast region, 54 from the central region, and 543 total when it is the closest middle school for 1877 students, all living in the southeast region. The enrollment number at Aki is 0.29 times the number of students who live closest to it - despite the fact that it is a reference middle school for all of them.

The only alternative or K-8 in the area is the AAA, which does not have strong enrollment. Orca and the New School have yet to add their middle school components.

Washington and Meany present a complex story. 413 students live closer to Meany than any other middle school, yet only 274 of the central region students are enrolled there. About half of the students at Meany are from the central region and about half are not. Students can get transportation to Meany from the southeast region, home to about 28% of Meany's students.

Washington's enrollment is seriously confused by the presence of 420 APP students and 180 Spectrum students at the school. It is difficult to determine how popular the school is among central region families whose enrollment decisions are not determined by program. This includes, of course, students with IEPs who don't get enrollment choice. What is known, however, is that about 600 non-APP students live closer to Washington than any other middle school but there are only 441 non-APP students from the Central region enrolled there and there were only 8 on the waitlist.

Roy Smith said...

I keep hearing over and over about how middle schools are the achilles heel of the school district, and the analysis of the data that I did for elementary and charlie did for middle schools really seems to bear that out. Most children in Seattle attend an elementary school that is fairly close to their home. However, in the southeast and central areas, the local middle schools apparently can't attract neighborhood children. In the north end (and other areas I suspect), middle schools are very large (some say overcrowded) and anecdotal evidence suggests that middle school is when SPS loses the most families to private schools. Everything seems to suggest that middle schools generally are the single biggest worst problem that needs to be addressed. So why is it that all of the attention (and controversy) is given to elementary schools and high schools? Is it because elementary schools have the emotional appeal of small children and high schools are the part that tangibly matters in college admissions, so middle schools are left to fall through the cracks due to inattention by parents and policymakers?

One thing that really strikes me about the comprehensive middle schools is generally how large they are. It seems almost ludicrous to me that we take middle schoolers, who are at a time in their life that many people regard as the most precarious in their social and emotional development, and put them in schools with over 300 students per grade. This seems like a guaranteed recipe for poor outcomes. Yet Seattle has 4 middle schools that are this size or larger, and most of the rest are either close to this size or are being avoided by neighborhood families.

I don't have any answers on this, but I do have two big questions: Why don't we hear more about what is being done to fix problems at the middle school level? And why don't we have more comprehensive middle schools?

kirsten wild said...

To a certain degree there is an effort to fix the middle school issue in the southeast; as Charlie points out, The New School and Orca, two of the most sucessful south end elementaries, are in the process of adding middle school components.

Anonymous said...

How many middle school spots will the New School and Orca offer? I welcome K-8s but I don't believe they will accomodate many, and I'm guessing that there will be few spots available to those coming from K-5s. Also, K-8s can't offer as much for middle schoolers as a 'comprehensive' middle school can.

south ender

Beth Bakeman said...

Charlie, thanks for the data analysis. Like you and Roy, I enjoy "number crunching," but when I don't have the time to do it myself, I really appreciate someone else looking at the raw data and taking the time to try to make sense of it.

Roy Smith said...

I agree with south ender; K-8s are not a viable solution for most families faced with the failings of some of the comprehensive middle schools. K-8s have their place (my family is at one, and we like it), but I don't think we should go down the road of turning all, or even most, of our K-5s into K-8s, so we still need quality comprehensive middle schools.

Anonymous said...

How in the world are SE Seattle families and S Seattle families sending their kids north of the ship canal? We that live in the clusters can't get our kids into school up here. We live 1.8 miles from Eckstein and our son didn't make it in. Roosevelt is worse. Where are these southe end kids going? Doesn't make sense to me.

Anonymous said...

I thought a lot of South End families were going to Hamilton.

As for Roosevelt, my understanding is there are a lot of siblings from outside the NE area this year as a result of the old racial tiebreaker. I think I read somewhere it was 26% of the incoming freshman class (but I could be remembering wrong)

Anonymous said...

"Our principal told us the news of the 67 kids who chose our school. We only have two Kindergarten rooms. I doubt principals, at least this highly-capable, sucessful one, would spread rumors."

That does not mean you will have a 33 student kindergarten and a 34 student kindergarten, it most likely means that there are 17 kids on the waitlist. Call enrollment services and ask how many kids are enrolled and how many are on the wait list.

And, every savy principal does in fact spin information and start the occastional rumour when they seek advatange to it.

Charlie Mas said...

The District's transportation policy generally states that the District will provide yellow bus transportation to a middle school in your region, provided you do not live within the walk zone for that school.

Families in most - not all - of the regions also are allowed transportation to selected schools outside their region if the student is integration positive to the school (a minority students enrolling at a predominantly white school or vice versa).

However, students living in the Southeast region are provided yellow bus transportation to McClure, Hamilton, and Meany - schools outside their region - regardless of race. Since each of these three schools is undersubscrived, the students are admitted.

There are 270 students from the Southeast region enrolled at Hamilton, 136 at Meany, and 171 at McClure.

If you think about it, this is the choice presented to a great number of SE region families:

A. Walk/Bus to Aki Kurose
B. Walk/Bus to Mercer
C. Bus to Hamilton
D. Bus to McClure
E. Bus to Meany
F. Walk/Bus to the AAA
G. Bus to AS#1, Salmon Bay, or Summit K-12
H. Provide your own transportation to any other school where you can find a seat for your child

After the new Assignment/Transportation plan is adopted, your choices may be:

A. Walk/Bus to Aki Kurose
B. Walk/Bus to the AAA, Orca K-8, or The New School K-8
C. Provide your own transportation to any other school where you can find a seat for your child

This highlights the need for the Southeast Initiative.

Anonymous said...

There has not been a racial tie breaker in over 4 years, so I don't see how it's possible for Roosevelt (4 year program)to have sib's from the racial tie breaker era?

Anonymous said...

"There has not been a racial tie breaker in over 4 years, so I don't see how it's possible for Roosevelt (4 year program)to have sib's from the racial tie breaker era?"

It would be possible, but as far as I can see, only in appropriately spaced families of three or more.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

The alternative education committee chaired by Elaine Packard recommended in its report that students coming from alternative K-5 programs have priority for middle school seats at alternative K-8 programs, so I'm not sure how many seats, if any, would be available at Orca to those who are coming from non-alternative elementary settings.

Kevin

Roy Smith said...

charlie mas wrote: After the new Assignment/Transportation plan is adopted, your choices may be:

A. Walk/Bus to Aki Kurose
B. Walk/Bus to the AAA, Orca K-8, or The New School K-8
C. Provide your own transportation to any other school where you can find a seat for your child


Is there a proposal afoot to end the all-city draw status of AS#1 and Summit K-12? The published materials regarding the new framework don't seem to address this issue one way or the other, but I'm sure that lots of people will be interested if there are plans to change this.

Working Together said...

To anon. who was concerned about the 35 kids in class- please call your principal or front office. I am sure that this is incorrect. The 67 number has created a lot of confusion. Does your school house any sort of self-contained special ed? Sometimes parents don't think to count those students in totals, but they do count, although certain special ed kids may not be in class with your child. I agree with the wait list comment- this could be the number including those wait listed families who chose your school as #1. In any case, it would be unprecedented for the District to put 35 K's in a class.

To all: we are lucky that we have lots of concerned, involved parents in Seattle. I have seeen first-hand how hard many teachers and administrators work as well. Unless we unite around common goals, change won't happen. This blog is becoming a crucial resource for many parents, teachers, and even District insiders. As posters, let's continue to make sure we fact-check before posting, that we make sure every comment passes the civility test, and that we make every effort to put out fires rather than inflame them. Our own communications are crucial to inspiring confidence in the wider parent community.

Mary Sullivan said...

This post is not necessarily germane to the subject of this thread, but regarding the exchange about the CAC's data analysis, I was on the CAC and can provide some information:

Anon 10:15 said: "The data parameters changed school to school to make the data match the argument the CAC wanted to make. In some cases, OPSI data was pulled for schools with same names as Seattle Public Schools that were actually located in other districts. The data analysis was appalling."

I can assure you, as can every member of the committee, we had no preconceived argument to make or defend, and there was no favoritism.

I didn't know that Ken Alhadeff wrote a check to Sacajawea, but if he did, it must have been because he liked what he saw there on his visit after the preliminary recommendation was made, because neither of the co-chairs was involved in the data analysis, school visits, or quadrant recommendations, and only visited the schools on the final recommendation list.

The committee divided into teams assigned to a specific quadrant, visited every school in that quadrant, looked at volumes of data, and presented scenarios to the other teams for scrutiny - there was no vested interest anywhere and the debates were substantive.

We were instructed by the board to get public input regarding which criteria were most important to the community in the quadrant, and we did, through multiple venues (town halls in the quadrants, email (answered by Mel Westbrook), and US mail box.

Different quadrants ranked the criteria differently, so one quadrant's analysis was inherently different from the others'.

Note: the criteria had been voted on by the board (as had the guiding principles, values, and recommended data sources) - they were not the CAC's, though we agreed quite willingly to abide by them as a condition of participation.

It should also be understood that the board (not the CAC) decided how many schools should be recommended for closure in each quandrant, based on their own and staff's analysis of capacity surplus by quadrant.

The board that voted on the criteria, the number of schools to be closed by quadrant, and the recommended data sources included Mary Bass, Sally Soriano, Darlene Flynn, and all of the currently sitting board members - not a group you would tend to call "racist", institutionally or otherwise.

Note: we did not use OSPI data in the analysis, so I'm not sure what anon is referring to.

The report is a good source of information about the data, the analysis and the logic.

Charlie Mas said...

Yikes!

If this blog is going to become influential, will I have to stop using other people's pictures as my avatar?

Roy Smith said...

If this blog is going to become influential, will I have to stop using other people's pictures as my avatar?

LOL
:)

ultimate fan said...

Charlie, are you mocking Peter Maier by using his picture as your avatar? I might be jumping to conclusions, but it looks like it.

If, yes, why is it ok, when it wasn't ok to poke at CEASE (another thread?

Anonymous said...

"There has not been a racial tie breaker in over 4 years, so I don't see how it's possible for Roosevelt (4 year program)to have sib's from the racial tie breaker era?"

No only is it possible, one of the Hack family, who is in the PICS group is still seeing the benifit of the try breaker with thier younger children. The oldest child was adopted and each of the younger sibilings is at Roosevelt because he got in under the tie-breaker. Remember, each sibling creates a link, so if you have four children, each three years apart, you are talking about 12 years of benifit from the existence of the tie-breaker. Of course, the great irony is that the Hacks benifited from the tie-breaker and yet are members of PICS.

Anonymous said...

Our school is also over-booked for K spots. At Whittier, we were told Tuesday night that 32 kids were accepted into our full-time class and 35 were accepted into our part-time K program.
There are more kids on the waitlist.

I think someone was hoping some familes would decide to go elsewhere. So far the families contacted plan on coming. Just three years ago at Whittier my son was one of only 25-and I thought that was too much.

I don't really understand how the teachers and school community can be expected to teach to such a large group of little kids.

Anonymous said...

"There has not been a racial tie breaker in over 4 years, so I don't see how it's possible for Roosevelt (4 year program)to have sib's from the racial tie breaker era?"

No only is it possible, the Hack family, who is in the PICS group, is still seeing the benifit of the try breaker with thier younger children. The oldest child was an adopted African American, and each of the younger white Hack sibilings (including one who is in the 9th or 10th grade) has gotten into Roosevelt because the oldest sibling got into the school because of tie-breaker. Each sibling creates a link, so if you have four children, each three years apart, you are talking about 12 years of potential benifit from the existence of the tie-breaker. Of course, the great irony is that all of the Hack children directly benifited from the tie-breaker as it applied because of the race of thier brother, yet are members of PICS.

Anonymous said...

RE Charlie's use of avatars - the first candidate whose image he used was Steve Sundquist. This came shortly after a string where he mentioned talking with a candidate that he was impressed with in person... but he wouldn't give up the name.

I suspect that he's not mocking candidates, but giving not-so-subtle hints about who's most impressed him. But I guess we should let him respond directly.

-DG

Anonymous said...

I must say, I laughed out loud when one of the canidates (the insane sounding Mr. Bloomquist) called Charlie a "mouthpiece for the noard" on Linda's blog.

Anonymous said...

"At Whittier, we were told Tuesday night that 32 kids were accepted into our full-time class and 35 were accepted into our part-time K program."

By who?

ultimate fan said...

Re Charlie's avatars, my guess is he's mocking both of them - and they're what all the railing about "management, financial, legal and leadership skills" is about.

Anonymous said...

"At Whittier, we were told Tuesday night that 32 kids were accepted into our full-time class and 35 were accepted into our part-time K program."

By who?


The interim principal herself (at a PTA meeting). The K teachers have backed the info up. They're a little stressed, to say the least. The classes for this current year were already 28 and 30 due to a similar demographic oversight.

SPS needs to sep up said...

ARen't their legal limits as to how many students are placed in each class? There used to be.

It was (I believe) 28 in K/1/2 and 30 in 3/4/5.

That's when we ranked 46th in the nation for class size. If we have 35 in a K class now, we must rank at the bottom. Could we really be moving down the ranks? How does Seattle let this happen? We have known how poorly we were doing with class size (as we were ranked 46th), and we allow it to get worse?

Anonymous said...

"The interim principal herself (at a PTA meeting)." Asain, is it that many students assigned, or it it that many student who made it a first choice? Call enrollment to be sure, principals (Ms. Briedenbach is no expception) often shoot from the hip on these things and mistate actual enrollment vs. wait list.

Anonymous said...

I hope this is for the last time. Whittier's principal has been trying to deal with this over-enrollment decision for two weeks.

Yes it is true, THAT many students really have been assigned at Whittier.

At least 100 people a year select it as their first choice. We were told for the second year in a row the demographer made a mistake and thought a higher percentage of those excepted would choose private school.

We were told very clearly that 67 k students had been assigned for this Fall.

It is a very popular school and families who are assigned to Whittier almost always attend.

Why the demographer thought otherwise is beyond understanding and ignorant of Whittier's enrollment history.

Central mom said...

And 68 kindergarten students were assigned to Stevens for the fall, another school with a high show rate, typically more than 90%. Data were supplied to the Stevens PTA by a central office administrator. So if seven don't show, that's 61 Kindergarten students, or 30/31 per class. Why is this okay? What happened?

classof75 said...

I knew that in the high school, more students were assigned than the school asked for, or had teachers hired for- additional teachers aren't able to be hired until district lists the position, which occurs after the school year begins.

This results in students being pushed to classes that they might not have registered for-( or taking an unwanted TA period) which isn't historically uncommon anywhere- but not optimum.

As Seattle already offers fewer academic course than in some other districts ( 5 or 6, rather than 7) and in other states,we need to have the staffing for the next year over with, before students are assigned to the school.

Waiting until money kicks in, in October, makes hiring more difficult, because sought after educators, are already up and running in other schools/districts.

This leaves some classes staffed by substitutes for a good part of the year.

This is from district web site
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/
spsplan/q_academics.xml
4. How can consolidation produce anything other than large class sizes?

Contract language in the teachers' union contract establishes a maximum class size for educating students:

* 26 students to 1 teacher in grades K-3
* 28 students to 1 teacher in grades 4-5
* 32 students to 1 teacher in grades 6-12


I am surprised the district is willing to go against the teacher union contract in this instance.

Anonymous said...

Many schools are going against the contract. We are at Bryant and have 30 kids in my sons 3rd grade class. School says the district keeps "over booking" them.

Do they not have to follow the contract? Can a school just decide how many kids they will accept, or not?

Anne said...

Contract only mandates that the District provide extra compensation to the teachers that have over those numbers, after the OCt. 1 count when enrollment is finalized. SEA is no slouch of an organization, if they had a real concern about this (i.e. if it was a chronic problem that was impacting thier members year after year) you would hear more about it.

As from blaming the demographer, that is another fabulous example of passing blame to the wrong source. Principals request the number of students they want. Prinicpals are the ones who set the schedule, including how many classes are going to be offered at a particular grade via BLTs. If you have a problem, take it up with the principal, then Tracy Libros or her boss Mark Green if they allowed something that is no feasiable to go through.

Anonymous said...

But sometimes the district calls the school and says then need the school to accept more students due to not all students in the area getting into a school. I know this is happening for the 2007-2008 school year.

classof75 said...

At Garfield- parents were told, that while in the past teachers could option to over enroll, this was no longer an option.

I witnessed this first hand last year,when my daughter was enrolled in a class, attended for a few weeks, and when the schedules were juggled was moved out to another section.

The teacher fought to have her stay in his class- I agreed , although the principal stayed firm on the class size ( during the short time that she was not registered, another student was enrolled- closing the class)

My impression from that was that this was a non negotiable issue.

Julie said...

"But sometimes the district calls the school and says then need the school to accept more students due to not all students in the area getting into a school. I know this is happening for the 2007-2008 school year."

If this is happening, you better bet that "the District" isn't at the direction of a demographer. Complain about the right people to the right sources, i.e. if it is an operations failure harming academics, rally the forces to have the new Dr. Goodloe-Johnson hire a new COO. In my book Mark Green has been about the least effective COO you could ask for: bungled disaster of a first round of closures that did not happen, the poor handling of transportation contracts, horribale hiring decision in key roles like HR management, etc. Given that his entire sum of qualification for the job is being having been a lawyer for the district, perhaps it is time to put a real Ops person who has experience running a major entity in place and let Mr. Green go find a job in private practice.