I had heard about this issue from a West Seattle parent (who had contacted me about Roosevelt's late-start days which West Seattle, Franklin, Roosevelt and Hale were having under a DOE grant that ended this year).
This week's West Seattle Herald features a story and an editorial about this issue. The editorial argues for changing from a 4 to a 6 period day which is what most high schools have in SPS.
What is striking is how differently the parents and the district see the issue. One point that should be closely watched is what the Board's charge to the Steering Committee was versus a new "clarification" letter that Carla Santorno sent them. You cannot change, midstream, a basic charge and, if what the parents say is true based on what they were given by the Board and by Carla, this needs some clarification from the Board.
It is true that there is a certain number of seat hours a student has to have in order to get their high school credits. WSHS has been getting a waiver for this and it bothers the parents that their children are in class less time than other high school students.
Here's a very interesting point in the story:
"Comparing West Seattle's 2006 10th-grade Washington Assessment of Student Learning scores with other high schools in the district, Lorensen concluded West Seattle pass rates for all three subjects were the lowest in the district when adjusted for poverty.
But staff and district officials contend that West Seattle is doing well with the four-period day. It's among the top three high schools in the district in terms of improving state test scores in the past five years, based on a district review last year.
The district's analysis looked at reading and math scores, while the parents' survey studied results for all three core subjects. But one major difference is that the district's analysis was based on multiple factors, including socioeconomic aspects, while the parent's study focused on low-income students, said Bernatek."
The district used only two WASL scores to say that WSHS was in the top 3 high schools in the district in improvement over the last five years. The parents say if you throw in all three and adjust for poverty, WSHS is more towards the bottom. And, in using poverty, the parents used free/reduced lunch numbers while the district used multiple socioeconomic factors. And, to this end, they have wildly differing opinions on the scores.
Why not just use free/reduced lunch? I haven't seen many other measures used and I have to wonder why they did in this case. Charlie, have you seen this before?
This was sad to read,
"But one parent, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said some teachers do disapprove of the block schedule but are afraid of being ostracized by co-workers. Parents also worry that teachers might treat their children differently if their names were linked to opposing the schedule. "We are very hesitant to give our names and speak out," said one parent. "But parents are becoming more frustrated and finally just saying, 'what the heck, we've got to put our face out there.'""
Parents and teachers should not be afraid to speak out for fear of consequences. The editorial makes it clear that parents should be part of these discussions and that their voices should count. I have mentioned before my concern over the late-start days at Roosevelt and the inability to be able to get a discussion with teachers/administrators over how many there will be and what is being done with the time. Just as an example, that issue affects parents' time and so of course parents should have the right to be involved in discussions about their lives and schedules.
The West Seattle parents also have a right to expect the district to be a buffer and mediator in this issue and not try to hold them at arm's length.