Sunday, December 16, 2007

Go Diving and Look What You Find

So I was looking for a BEX III timeline on the district's website and I happened upon the BEX Oversight Committee Meeting Minutes for April of this year. I happened upon a discussion about New School which provides some illuminating information so that we can all be clear on how the District views New School.

"Karin [Nyrop, a committee member] wants to be sure that this design doesn’t in any way compromise the program for the New School. Don [Gilmore, Facilities staff] responded that the building design is very flexible and will accommodate a pre-K-8. This design actually gives the New School more than is in the MOU. The District agreed that this building would be built for District needs. The New School is not a charter school or a publicly run school. It is a District school with additional funding."

This is interesting for several reasons:
1) the "South Shore" project (which in the district's bond/levy brochure doesn't even mention New School) is advertised as a 6-8 to k-8 building. But we all know that New School is preK-8 so now it's being built that way.
2) "this design given the New School more than is in the MOU (memorandum of understanding between the New School Foundation and the district)". We should keep this in mind for future MOU's because then, of course, this becomes the standard for anyone who follows.
3) "The New School is....not a publicly run school...it's a District school with additional funding". What interesting phrasing. I'm trying to ponder what that could mean and why they wouldn't want to call it a publicly run school. Something to query the Legal department about.

72 comments:

dan dempsey said...

Melissa,
Very interesting find.

Having taught at The Accelerated School at corner of MLK and Main in LA, which is a charter school.

I would definitely describe TAS as:
... not an LAUSD run school. TAS is a District school with additional funding.


As long as TAS met their fiscal responsibilities and tested above the LAUSD level for a similar school within LAUSD, TAS was free of the LAUSD bureaucracy. With about a 60-40 Hispanic-Black population in South Central LA that testing requirement was easy to meet.

It seems that if we applied the looks like a duck, walks like a duck, ... probably is a duck principle.

The NEW SCHOOL looks like a California Charter school. This could be the reason for saying:
..."The New School is not a charter school or a publicly run school. It is a District school with additional funding."

If it was in LAUSD it would be a charter school with a definition like the above. Good to know that in the SPS it is not a charter. ....because the SPS says so --- how reassuring that the state law is not being skirted.

I've never visited the New School and am neutral as to its impact on SPS as I've not investigated what is happening there and have no intention of doing so. {I put in this last paragraph, so that perhaps any Anon who loves to put words in my mouth and then attack me for saying the words they put in my mouth might refrain from doing so. If such persons really wanted diversity of opinion on this blog, would they not stop saying move on?}

As always I make all my posts under my name. They can then be easily skipped or read by others.

I do believe that any SPS teacher who publicly spoke as I do would in all probability suffer reprisals on some level from SPS admin. About five+ years ago an audit of SPS was done that found a culture of intimidation existed. Typical of the SPS find a horrible practice and do little to change it.

As I've been speaking at SPS school board meetings for most of 2007 and worked under former Asst. Principal Bob Court at WSHS, I can assure others this practice of intimidation is still going strong at the JSCEE. I would urge SPS employees to post under a screen name to avoid or at least limit the number of reprisals you may encounter in the SPS.

Another reason for the SPS teacher retention difficulty.

south ender said...

I don't understand why the New School seems to receive preferential treatment from SPS. Sure, it seems the school is working for many kids - great. And you'd hope so with all the extra funding they currently receive, but that has a finite life - what happens when the extra funding ends? I have yet to hear of SPS replicating or continuing the successful elements of the New School.

I find it interesting that the school's mission is to serve the RB community yet enrollment shows fewer free and reduced lunch students than surrounding schools. I know several middle to upper middle class families who take advantage of all the school as to offer - for free. Not to say that there isn't value in a diverse socio economic mix because I absolutely believe in that. But I do wonder what this means for the New School.

I'm all many choices of great schools, especially in the historically under served SE. But in the case of the New School, is this coming at the expense of other schools and children?

I've followed along with Melissa...Is it an alternative school or not, is it prek-8 or not, who is it serving, what next, why the MOU, etc. It seems like a case of having cake and eating it too for both parties as convenient. I wish there were more transparency and clarity with regard to the New School.

dan dempsey said...

Dear South ender,

You raise several interesting points.

What happens when the extra dollars end?

If you look at many places where Everyday Math was adopted, expensive interventions were put in place the first few years when these ended so did any academic gains. It was the increased dollars and expensive interventions that gave rise to a boost. When these disappeared so did the improvement often with worse results than prior to adoption.

A good question is: if the New School eventually receives regular funding levels what structures will be in place and will they be effective.

What effective structures can be moved to other normally funded schools now?

If you look at the Gates Foundation small schools grants, the plan was to assist in the setup and then withdraw when things are going well.

The catch here is that in several schools this plan produced no improvement.

Given the usual poor transparency typical of SPS it is difficult to say what is planned at the New School in regard to improvements for the rest of the district.

Laura Kohn said...

I direct the New School Foundation, which is the partner of the New School.

I wasn't at the meeting, but my guess is that the minutes have a typo, that they were intended to read "The New School is not a charter school or a PRIVATELY run public school. It is a District school with additional funding." This would be accurate.

Our partnership agreement with the district says only that the district will provide an appropriate facility for the New School. There are no additional details or specifications.

The New School is not an alternative school. After sibling, distance is the tie-breaker, so the school serves the immediate neighborhood. Most students enroll at age 4. The staff and foundation would love for more low income students to enroll and we try, with the New School community, to recruit those families. Please let me know if you have suggestions about how to do a better job of that.

The population of the New School is 45% black, 30% asian, 15% white, and 9% latino. 42% free/reduced lunch and 20% bilingual. It is currently PK-5, growing to PK-8.

I'm happy to answer any questions folks may have about our partnership. My email address is laura@newschoolfoundation.org and I can also answer further questions here.

Laura

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, it seems the District and even the New School Foundation seem to make numerous "typos" and somehow we are all to believe them.

You'll note Ms. Kohn did not address the "more" over the MOU mentioned in the minutes. That would be something to explain.

dan dempsey said...

You'll note Ms. Kohn did not address the "more" over the MOU mentioned in the minutes. That would be something to explain.

But that would be increased transparency.

No explanation anticipated, but
we can always hope for more.

Anonymous said...

I had never encountered the expression "publicly run school" before. I was wondering what on earth it could mean for a public school not to be a publicly run school.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

So I'm curious about the majority of children starting at the New School at age 4. Is that entirely paid for by the New School foundation, or does the school district contribute? I ask because the district has been, well, hostile to the preschool at neighboring Graham Hill Elementary. Anyone know the answer?

Laura Kohn said...

I'm not entirely sure why I'm replying after Melissa said my words should not be believed. I guess I'm hoping that there are other readers out there who are not feeling so hostile and who are interested in learning more. Truly, we have no secrets, so the implication that we are hiding anything is unfounded.

Regarding the statement in the BEX minutes that said the building will be "more" than the partnership agreement requires, I did address this indirectly by sharing that the agreement only says that the New School will be provided with an appropriate building. So my hypothesis is that they were saying that the new South Shore will be more than "appropriate", which is true.

The Pre-K at the New School is mostly supported by the New School Foundation. Pre-K comprises about one-fourth of our grant. It uses the High/Scope curriculum and is full school day, full school year (except half-day Fridays).

I'm interested to learn more about the district's hostility toward PK at Graham Hill. I think this may change soon, because Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is a firm believer in the importance of PK for low income students.

Beth Bakeman said...

I've said this before but I'll repeat myself anyhow...I think the New School is doing a fabulous job. I wish there were more schools like it in Seattle, and I wish there were more foundations like The New School Foundation putting money into the vitally important job of improving public education.

I have tried to understand where the hostility towards The New School (and TAF and other programs with outside money) comes from, and I now understand a little of it. But, I think having a community respond with fear and paranoia towards potential funders is counterproductive and leads to situations like TAF having to have their first TAF Academy outside of Seattle Public Schools.

Personally, I want to say "Thank you" to Laura and the New School Foundation for what they do.

Anonymous said...

Deep breath everyone! I was the one inquiring about preschool funding, and it in no way meant any hostility to the New School (and I'm not quite sure how anyone could take that away from what I wrote.) I know people who love the school very much, and it sounds great. But I do think asking the district how they fund similar programs IS a legitimate question, and I don't think it should be off limits - anymore than asking why the John Stanford School is in the North End, etc. If families don't ask, inquities occur. Personally, I thought TAf sounded great for Rainier Beach, and I'd hoped it would come to fruition. I do, however, think it's unfair to lump everyone who asks questions about preschools about programs into some general catagory of nasayers with people who didn't want the TAF program, etc. There is a great diversity of voices in our community, and I hope that would be respected.

Beth Bakeman said...

Anonymous, my comment was in no way a response to your question about preschool funding.

My comment is in response to ongoing New School-bashing, TAF-bashing, and other bashing because of a fear of private money supporting schools turning into privatized or charter schools.

1964 said...

I second Beth's comments. I wish we had a whole lot more New School's and Taf Academy's! I do not understand the hostility either. I think most of it comes from small groups, with very loud voices, like CEASE. They certainly do not represent the majority, they just make a big fuss, get media attention, go to school board meetings, etc.

I think the majority of families in this district have a supportive and encouraging attitude toward these public/private partnerships, they just don't show up (yelling) at the board meetings and seek press coverage.

Don't be discouraged Laura, you have a lot of support!!!

south ender said...

I don't think that asking for clarification should be regarded as hostile. I think most people are happy to see success in SE Seattle. Perhaps any perceived animosity is frustration with SPS and their communication or lack thereof with regard to the New School.

As a voter I resented that SPS didn't mention the NS in the levy when it seemed pretty clear that a new building is being designed and built for that school. It also seems questionable to build another k-8 within several miles of two others and to build a brand new school right across the play field from a struggling elementary, Dunlap. Many also believe that other schools in bad shape have waited longer.

Watching a School Board mtg. with the NS Foundation was eye opening too. I know from experience that other schools have struggled for years to be heard and to have some say in having the most basic needs met, yet it appears from the outside at least that the NS receives not only a listening ear but also respect, a say and wishes granted.

Laura, maybe you can help answer some questions? I'm not clear on the financial arrangement but I understand the extra non SPS funding is tapering off and will end in a few years, is that right?

Can you share with us what is working at the New School and how those elements will continue when the extra funding ends? I ask this because the NS is helping many students to be successful and I hope SPS plans to replicate successful programs such as the NS. And, I'd like to know if this is possible with a regular budget.

Thanks in advance for your time.

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is weird. CEASE is a very small group of people who actually get ignored a lot and generally never yell. Could someone tell me an instance when they know someone from CEASE came to a Board meeting and yelled?

The fault with issues surrounding public/private partnerships is almost solely the district's. They set the tone and put out the information. When you see them unable to clearly explain partnerships, how they came about, were placed in the city, etc., well, it's just confusing. It must be to other groups who want to perhaps come in and try something.

As for TAF, again, the neighborhood/RBHS may have put up roadblocks (and somewhat rightly so as they weren't consulted much - no one would like anyone coming into their school and trying to take over) but the district drove TAF away. You can ask Trish Dziko; she made efforts to put TAF at another school and got little support or traction from the district.

Anonymous said...

The district wanted TAF. The district encouraged the partnership. The district did not have a protocol set for such partnerships and just sort of "winged it". Communication was lacking, CEASE was in an uproar thinking our schools were becoming charter schools and the world was being taken over by aliens. The Principal at RB who was in on all of the communication did not share it with the families at the school. It felt like a takeover, when in reality TAF would have only occupied half of the building. Half of a building that holds 1200 students, but has an enrollment of 385 an dropping every year!.

What a shame, or should I say sham.

And as far as an example of CEASE yelling, I have two words for you. Don Alexander and hand cuffs.

Anonymous said...

As far as CEASE being ignored, I'm not so sure about that. Every single school board member knows every single CEASE member by name. Yup, every one of them. Because they are loud. Very loud. Aggressive. Relentless. They believe this district is up to no good, and are conspiring against the families, and that admin is made up of racist bullies. Most people in their right mind wouldn't pay a bit of attention to CEASE, but then they go and get the media, and get tons of publicity. So it makes the few, small voices of CEASE very loud.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon at 4:53,

I have attended almost every single school board meeting in 2007. There I met Don Alexander. I've conversed with him on several occasions and heard him speak many times to the board.

He has very interesting life experiences. I have never heard him yell, during his testimony or in a conversation. Occasionally he may give a loud word of support but I would hardly call this yelling.

I believe your comment about handcuffs would apply to Mr. Omari Tahir, who to the best of my knowledge has no association with CEASE.

Are you sure Don Alexander has been in handcuffs recently?

If you have listened carefully at school board meetings you will find that both Maggie Metcalf and Barbara Morey deliver well crafted rationally presented testimonies.
Whether you agree with their positions or not -- it would be difficult to classify either of them as yelling.

Can you provide me with some information on this yelling?
I seem to have missed the yelling.

If the SPS would respond to testimony, it would help.

On several occasions it has been stated that persons who testify or are on the wait list will be contacted by the district in the days after testimony. This has yet to occur.

As a result those who testify would perhaps be better off changing their testimony into some type of street theater as rational testimony does not even merit a reply.

For effective testimony that gets noticed try the October 2006 fight as in physical punches over school closures or the Summer 2007 YAWR campus military recruiters protests.

It seems to get much done or even noticed by the SPS requires outrageous behavior.

I have not viewed CEASE as a very effective organization and certainly never noticed yelling or disruptive actions from CEASE members. Again my presence has been only in 2007.

dan dempsey said...

Laura Kohn thanks for staying in the conversation. Please stay with us.

Laura Kohn said...

South Ender asked about the financial arrangement. The foundation's current agreement with the district goes through the 2011-2012 year. Our commitment is assured through that time, subject to a healthy partnership and verification of positive results via evaluation and our mutual annual review process. In 2010, we will do a significant check-in to determine if the partnership is realizing its overall goals. If so, the funding is renewable for another term. If not, the funding will taper over the remaining two years of the agreement.

Our grant adds about 30% extra per student over a regular Seattle school, to about $14000/student. That is a significant enhancement, yet it puts the New School at a similar level of funding to many urban and suburban school districts nationwide. The public schools I attended, for example, in Arlington, VA have similar demographics to Seattle and are funded at $18,000/student. Pittsburgh is $17,000/student, Cambridge, MA is $23,000/student, and there are many more examples. So this level of funding is plausible in public education, and it is far short of what many parents in Seattle pay for private schooling.

Some of the things that are working at the New School:
- Common vision, known by all, implemented universally: this is free and you can find it at several public schools in Seattle.
- Free, universal pre-k: this is funded by the foundation and the city. But districts around the country (Chicago, Montgomery Co, MD, Miami-Dade, Harrisburg, PA, Long Beach, CA, even Aberdeen, WA!) are finding ways to provide PK using a blend of Head Start, state-funded PK, city funds, parent tuition, Title I funds and special ed funds. If SPS chooses to expand PK, they can find the funding to do so.
- Reduced class sizes: this enables teachers to know students and their families, to tailor instruction, and to intervene quickly when students need extra support. Replicating/sustaining small class sizes on a large scale would require more state funding, but the district could choose to consolidate I-728 funds and deploy them in schools serving low income students to reduce early grades class sizes. Class size reduction is most effective in early grades for low income students.
- Wellness/Whole Child: The school fosters mind, body and spirit. This is accessible within regular funding but it is easier with extra funds.
- Family engagement: Home visits are part of the NEA/Flight grant for several south end schools now, very successful. Other family engagement work at the school is relatively inexpensive and has more to do with attitude than with funds.
- Extra academic support and enrichment: reading specialist, tutoring, academic acceleration teachers, arts, music...good stuff, some of which is in regularly funded schools, just in higher concentration at the New School. Some of this can be accessed through partnerships with community nonprofits like Powerful Schools and Arts Corps.

The New School's success is bolstered by all of these supports, but the primary engine, as at any school, is the quality, inventiveness, and dedication of the principal, teachers and other staff. They make it happen, kid by kid, day after day.

Anonymous said...

Dan you say CEASE presents rational testimony. I disagree. You speak very highly of Maggie Metcalf, and personally, I think she is a very nice woman. But, she, like you, ran for school board. Neither of you even came close to winning a seat. The public does not think either one of you are rational, nor do you share beliefs that support the majority of kids in Seattle Schools. You both are passionate about smaller, sub-groups of students. That is commendable, but not at the expense of the entire community. Every child deserves to be in an engaging, challenging classroom. You and Maggie seem to think that anybody who is succeeding are taking from those who are not succeeding. I don't agree. Neither, obviously did the public.

Anonymous said...

Laura thank you for sharing the information about the funding (14000) per student, and comparing it to what other cities fund their schools at.

It is shocking information to say the least.

I wish this info could make it to the press. I am very active in the schools and had no idea about how great the disparity in funding is between cities.

It is time that Seattle rises to the challenge, and begins to fund our schools adequately, so that all children can succeed. Not just the kids of affluent schools whose parents support the program, or schools like The New School, where a private foundation has to support the program.

Thanks to the foundation for stepping up, and doing what our district should be doing.

south ender said...

Laura, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer questions so thoroughly, thank you.

We need to demand that the district, and more importantly the state of WA study the results of adequate funding and take action.

Final question, do you know whether the organization funding the NS has plans to take on additional projects?

Thanks again.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay enough about CEASE.

Dan is right; it's Omir Tahri who has been led away in handcuffs (he's not part of CEASE), not Don Alexander. It's not Maggie Metcalf from CEASE who ran, it's Theresa Caramone.

Many of you have completely mixed up people and you have no business saying things that you don't have clarity on.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay enough about CEASE.

Dan is right; it's Omir Tahri who has been led away in handcuffs (he's not part of CEASE), not Don Alexander. It's not Maggie Metcalf from CEASE who ran, it's Theresa Cardamone.

Many of you have completely mixed up people and you have no business saying things that you don't have clarity on.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay enough about CEASE.

Dan is right; it's Omir Tahri who has been led away in handcuffs (he's not part of CEASE), not Don Alexander. It's not Maggie Metcalf from CEASE who ran, it's Theresa Caramone.

Many of you have completely mixed up people and you have no business saying things that you don't have clarity on.

Anonymous said...

Laura said, "So this level of funding is plausible in public education, and it is far short of what many parents in Seattle pay for private schooling."

Private schools have to pay for their buildings. You are not correct that Seattle private schools require that much money for each student - much of student tuition is in operating costs - rent, insurance, things that the private New School does not have to pay. Not sure what else the district picks up in the dollar/student figure, but leasing the space and utilities would not figure in. How about curriculum? Who pays for that? The individual school or the district? Why would one school have books and others have to wait?

Why did Orca have to wait for a k-8 building and the New School not only got one that was not listed on the levy information brochure, but Orca got kicked out of their space! Private enterprise needs to acknowledge that their "temporary" money may talk at the expense of the public school voice.

Laura Kohn said...

The figure I used, $14,000 per student, is inclusive of district overhead. And oops, I just realized I cited 06-07 numbers. Here are the updated data: the total district operating budget divided by the number of students in the district (07-08) is $11,707. The foundation grant provides $3543/student this year (excluding PK). So the total is $15,350.

The per student funding in Minneapolis, MN was $15,010 in 06-07.

I believe it is fair to compare these numbers to private school tuition - both the school district and most private schools run their capital funds in a separate budget.

The New School Foundation absolutely would like to form additional partnerships so that there is a small network of schools in our region that demonstrate what appropriately funded public schools can accomplish.

Anonymous said...

No, Melissa, not enough about CEASE. The previous poster may have mixed up some names, but I'm not. I have been to small meetings at various schools with Don Alexander, and I have heard him berate white people. Call everyone in the room racist, and yell to make his point. He is irrational and his words are accusatory and inflamatory. I have seen him yell out at board meetings, and I have seen board members ask him to be quiet. I have watched him testify, and he is absurd and rants and raves. He accuses the district of conspiracies and racism, and berates the entire SPS. It is appalling. So, Melissa, protect him and CEASE, as much as you would like. I understand that you were a former member of CEASE, so I would expect you to coddle them. However, the rest of the people in Seattle realize how counter productive their members are.

I hear Charlie Mas recently revoked his membership with CEASE too. Any truth to that, or is it just rumor?

Anonymous said...

laura said, "I believe it is fair to compare these numbers to private school tuition - both the school district and most private schools run their capital funds in a separate budget."

The New School is employing people to run one of our public schools. Orca wanted a k-8 school for years. The money and perceived influence of those from a foundation convinced the former supt to approve the creation of the New School. Getting a brand new building for a charter-like school was the outcome. Other public schools did not get a new building. What else falls under capital budget? What else does the New School get that a truly private school has to pay for? Those of you who want more private schools in public school buildings need to campaign for charter schools. That's how it will happen.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 4: 24 is definitely a CEASE member, and this is exactly why they have no clout in the district. They make stuff up. They manipulate words and twist fact. Outrageous.

Don't let the CEASE folks get to you Laura. They are few, but loud. Nobody listens to a word they say, but we have to put up with it, because they pollute board meetings, and blogs with their nonsense.

Charlie Mas said...

I resigned from CEASE last week. I don't think members of the coalition are adequately supporting all of the various interests that originally banded together for mutual support and defense.

CEASE began as a group of advocates for diverse special interests - special education, alternative education, advanced learning, southeast schools, low-income students, South Pacific Islander students, etc. - who committed to unity. The idea was that we would not allow the District to play our different communities off against each other, but that we would stand in solidarity. That solidarity apparently no longer extends to some students and communities, so I could no longer participate.

I've certainly taken some heat - on this blog and elsewhere - for my connection with CEASE, but I never broke solidarity with the coalition.

I don't know how effective CEASE has or has not been. I don't know how effective I may have been for that matter. It is very difficult to quantify. Most of the time it all feels totally futile. But then right when I think it is all pointless, a stranger may come up to me and thank me for my work. While I feel that I've been banging my head against a wall for six years, there are people who think I saved Spectrum a few years ago. I don't think I'm making much of a difference, but I was awarded a Golden Acorn by the Lowell PALS PTA last year for raising the point that stopped the split of middle school APP.

Similarly, while some might not think that CEASE has been effective, I remember how things used to be and I can tell you that the District has taken some steps towards openness, honesty, transparency, accountability and engagement - steps that they would not have taken if not for CEASE. There are a lot of progressive elements to the current district processes that you might regard as normal and rational, but they weren't that way even four years ago.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not coddling anyone. I just asked that you don't say name people and assign actions to them without getting it right. Grow up.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not coddling anyone. I just asked that you don't say name people and assign actions to them without getting it right. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

New School has refused to accept or include students with disabilities (level 3 or 4). So, while it's great to throw out the money figures... if you don't accept everyone, it completely skews the numbers. It also is represents a failure to adequately serve neighborhood kids since some of them will have disabilities.

To spend a lot of money AND reject high cost students makes the cost comparisons to other districts moot. Those school districts do have to include their high cost students.

Anonymous said...

PS. These private-public partnerships typically feel no obligation to consider or serve students with disabilities. That leaves a giant hole to cherry pick recipients. One reason, among many to treat them with extreme caution.

maureen said...

Laura, you said "The foundation grant provides $3543/student this year." Does that money go directly to the building budget or is it split with the District in the same proportion the non-subsidized
'$11,707' is?

Our building gets about $4000 per child to spend in the building, so a subsidy of $3543 would be an almost 90% increase in funding, not "30% extra per student over a regular Seattle school" as you indicated earlier.

Our school fundraises about $375 per child and we do alot with that. I can't even imagine what we could do with ten times that amount.

I'm not knocking the New School in any way--I just wish all of our kids had access to resources like that.

Anonymous said...

New School has 17 students/class with a teacher AND an aid. As a rough ballpark, that's about twice the spending (staffing)available to most schools.

Anonymous said...

Most public schools across the nation have 17-20 students per class. Smaller towns near Boston, like Portsmouth have 14-15.

Seattle has the third highest class sizes in the nation.

It costs money to run a school with small class sizes. A school serving mainly low income, and minority students needs to have smaller class size and extra funding. We all know that.

All kids need the extra funding, but kids of the more affluent schools get it via fund raising, grand writing etc.

Laura I would like to know if there is any validity to what an above poster mentioned as far as the new school not accepting their fair share of kids with disabilities. It doesn't wring true to me, it sounds more like a CEASE conspiracy theory, but I am asking you to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:48 here again. No, I'm not a CEASE member and have never heard of it, I'm just an ordinary parent with a disabled student. It is a fact that New School has no level 3 or 4 students with disabilities. You can verify this on the blue book or green book published by the district. These show up as high cost students. Neighborhood kids with disabilities have requested New School.

Anonymous said...

Most, but not all, schools do support level 3 and level 4 students with disabilies (which are about 5% - 7% of the total). The point is that those students are figured into the average spending of a whole district. Since those students aren't at the New School, the comparison of spending doesn't make sense when a school doesn't have any high cost students. As another poster pointed out, $3543 is about double the per pupil spending at the school level.

Maggie Metcalfe said...

Well thanks folks, we get most of our fame from you. In the world of organizing, there is no greater power than to get others to invoke your name.

I have never run for the board.

I heard Don Alexander yell once at a school board meeting, he had just come back from a visit to Monroe and there he saw many black men who he used to see as students at Garfield High School.He believes Black children, especially male Black children are being 'miseducated', a term used in the black community that refers to educating children of one race to misunderstand themselves and their heritage as well as their role in the world, the expectations the community has for them, and the value they have for the world. I think I can understand the pain he must feel when he has fought this battle for his kids for so many years and then to see them exactly where he feared they would go when their education fails them.

RBHS has a long history and Don has been a part of it since the teachers reached out for his help about 10 years ago. Stanford was going to place ROTC in the school and turn it into a military academy. The community there protested but could not stop it so asked Don as a community civil rights organizer to help. He organized a walk out and protest, the community prevailed. The district responded by placing a new principal who undermined and demoralized the staff and community, and enrollment has been falling ever since. It was no surprize to me that last year, when the proposal was for TAF to take over the whole campus, as was the first plan, the community protested. When the plan was scaled back to 1/2 of the campus, it was made clear that TAF would not serve or interact with the existing RB students except for perhaps one or two electives. The community felt under attack and protested again. TAF or the district was never working in the interest of the existing student community at RB.

Don may not use tactics that some of you understand, but he has lived the life of a marginalized Black man and believes that his words would not be heard at all if they were not strong. Don has been a civil rights activist all his life, was a "front man" for Dr. Martin Luther King.

I have never seen Don in handcuffs and the gossipy suggestion is deeply offensive. I do believe that he would have the conviction to face arrest in a struggle for social justice if necessary, even at his age and with disabilities.

He is an honorable man who has dedicated his life to justice and children.

I am proud that Don Alexander is Vice President of CEASE. He is also founder and President of Save Our Schools, or SOS for South end schools.

CEASE does not act for a minority of children. We came together because the alternative schools were under threat of elimination by Superintendent Olchefske, while we became active around that, we met people with other "minority" issues. They were small organizations that were speaking for special education, advanced placement education, cultural groups and language education groups. Throughout our meetings over the last 5 years, we discussed priorities and racism always came to the top. Not because 'all white people are racist', but because underlying all other disparities in America and public institutions, racism as it is institutionalized in our policy making, administrative behavior, and organizational structure, causes greater disparities based solely on race.

Putting a greater focus on the weakest or most impacted community
members does not mean a neglect of others. I suggest it is an elitist attitude to believe so. If your child already has advantages or access greater than others, should you be working to protect that access, or should you be working to make access equitable? I believe that in a public institution, equitable access should be the first priority.

No one in CEASE has ever suggested that to create equity, some group should loose privilege.

Each of us in CEASE represents a group with its own focus, the purpose of CEASE is to give voice, support, and action to each other's concern. It is a democratic group that works publicly, not behind closed doors, and is not making any special deals with the district or the commercial interests or political entities in the community. We do not think we are powerful, we are only trying to speak up for what we believe is right.

Those things are SPS transparency, accountability, fairness and democracy. We believe every child has a right to free and equal quality public education.

Anyone who would like to know more may go to our web site and read the articles posted there.

ceasecoalition.googlepages.com

I think it is unfortunate that Charlie has left our group. I think he took offense to the words of one person who spoke against his interest area. He's right about solidarity and I have appreciated his for CEASE. We get a lot of bashing (anonymous usually) here on Beth's blog and he has had to face it personally since he let it be known he was a member.

We will continue to value and respect his contribution to informing the public about SPS administration issues as we do Melissa. We also value them both highly as people of passion and integrity who are working for our children and our community.

Anonymous said...

"Most public schools across the nation have 17-20 students per class. Smaller towns near Boston, like Portsmouth have 14-15."

Does that mean actual class sizes, or just student-teacher ratio? The two are FAR from the same thing.

Helen Schinske

Laura Kohn said...

Sorry for the delay, I had to look into the students with disabilities question. The New School is not designated to serve level 3 and 4 special ed kids, so it is not permitted by the district to admit them. I think (but I'm not an expert on this stuff) that the district chooses to group those children in order to focus resources on them. I did a quick survey of schools and there are 14 elementaries in SPS (including the New School) that have no level 3 or 4 kids.

The new building will have excellent resources for special ed, so I will not be surprised if the New School becomes designated for some level 3 or 4 kids in the future.

The grant from the foundation does flow directly into the New School's budget. But every school, including the New School, received benefits from central office services (which include custodial and busses and much, much more), which is why we use the total district per student figures as a comparison point. The New School must have more low income, bilingual and special ed students than Maureen's school does, because the per student funds at the school level are somewhat higher there, but her observations are overall appropriate.

Helen, I think those student teacher ratio numbers are not class sizes, but the class sizes in Massachusetts are significantly lower than Seattle's.

One final point - the New School Foundation does not employ anyone at the New School (except a contract garden coordinator and a drumming artist). They are all regular school district employees.

Barbara Morey said...

"CEASE members... are loud. Very loud. Aggressive. Relentless...So it makes the few, small voices of CEASE very loud."

CEASE members are, as a whole, gray-haired professionals and experienced activists. We speak up at board meetings because we believe in public process and this is the procedure that the board has established to hear about the concerns of the community.

We are not loud, but we are passionate. Maggie Metcalfe is one of the most soft-spoken and credible individuals I have ever met. She raises issues that need to be addressed and provides a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves, for whatever reason.

Maggie continuously up- dates her knowledge and credibility by participating in community meetings regarding education and social justice concerns. She spends all of her two days off each week in some form of advocacy. And she IS relentless in the pursuit of equity in access to quality education for all students in the district.

As for the press...neither the Times nor the PI will print letters from known CEASE members, although we do often comment in the "soundoff" section of the PI which is not censored.

If some anon. posters hear us as "loud", perhaps it is because we are touching sensitive nerves in our discussions about institutionalized racism and inequity in SPS.

Now if you stop to listen and think about the messages those voices keep repeating, perhaps you will come to understand that CEASE is not the enemy.

We're just a coalition of small voices that join together to get the attention of the powerful leaders of the district and to create positive change for the benefit of all public school students.

Anonymous said...

"As for the press...neither the Times nor the PI will print letters from known CEASE members"

Why???
They apparantly share the same opinion of CEASE as many posters on this blog. Say what you will, you are relentless and at times the enemy, at least in my opinion. Especially, in the public/private partnership arena that I whole heartedly support.

Your description of the CEASE Coalition is way off base. Everybody, including the PI and Times is no longer interested. You are way way to far out there, and are unable to look at the district as a whole.

Barbara Morey said...

CEASE, as an organization, is very concerned about charter schools and back-door chartered schools that sometimes result from public-private partnerships. That is one of our priorities. We are not alone in these concerns. Washington state voters have defeated charter school legislation 3 times in the past few years.

But we are up-front about our position and don't hide behind anonymous postings to snipe at anyone else's stand.

Check out our web page for the research and explanation of this and other positions we have taken.
ceasecoalition.googlepages.com

Anonymous said...

The issue of students with disabilities at the New School will not go away. We can't simply say "Oh well, the district said we didn't have to serve them. It's their fault." The district makes these decisions and designations based on the willingness of the school. You say 14 schools don't have high needs students??? That leaves 48 schools, the overwhelming majority, that do and must serve high cost students.

If public/private partnerships are to work, they must consider the needs of EVERYONE, especially everyone that is legally mandated to be served (eg. students with significant disabilities). If we turn to an alternate funding source for our schools that is private, and if that private funding really turns out to be a loophole for leaving some kids behind, the private funding will ultimately be challenged and found inequitable.

I encourage the New School Foundation to help the school embrace ALL students in its reference area and to serve them inclusively. I am optimistic that this can be a reality (and a model).

dan dempsey said...

Laura Kohn said:
....."Replicating/sustaining small class sizes on a large scale would require more state funding, but the district could choose to consolidate I-728 funds and deploy them in schools serving low income students to reduce early grades class sizes. Class size reduction is most effective in early grades for low income students.

Excellent point.
The SPS has said that reduction of class size in regular classes is not a priority.

That I-728 money is going into academic coaches for teachers in literacy and math $4.2 million and Pathways program at the high school $3.1 million.

Let us do the math
$7.3 million divided by 100 = $73,000.

Yup probably around 100 regular classroom teachers. No wonder the SPS looks at closing schools.

dan dempsey said...

Here we have another Anon who knows all about me but never writes me.

Several corrections are in order.

Anonymous said...

... I think she is a very nice woman. But, she, like you, ran for school board. Neither of you even came close to winning a seat.

Did you ever stop to think that I was running for a non-partisan position?

I've always been an independent. I was informed that unless I was willing to say I was a Democrat I could not speak at their forums.
I declined to say I am a Democrat because I am not. Thus I spoke at no democratic forums as I was not invited.

The CityClub excluded me from their forum -- this is a legal violation as they are a 501c3 organization and are prohibited from doing so.

I raised $700 as I solicited very little money. Only if I made it past the primary was I willing to ask others for money. Yes, I incurred a debt from running this way - so what is your point? I spoke only at the Pathfinder forum and received a very favorable review from the WS Herald and many positive comments from those in attendance. Steve Sundquist, I would estimate spent around $50,000 in the primary race. Computer phone calls. Large full color brochures etc. He was an excellent political candidate Never saying things nearly as specifically as I did. Steve as a retired person has enough time to devote to the job, and I wish him well. I was vehemently opposed to school closures and still am. This was a significant difference between Steve and me. See my post on Harium's Blog we have the same vision. Maria Ramirez has a long history of commitment to Seattle, families and children. I was in my first year in Seattle and received 17% of the vote.

...The public does not think either one of you are rational, nor do you share beliefs that support the majority of kids in Seattle Schools.

Really what are my beliefs and how did you become such an expert on them? Certainly not by sending an email to dempsey_dan@yahoo.com

Here is what I believe and ran my very small campaign based on:
A better education for all.

I repeatedly stated and continue to state that:
The SPS fails to follow their own policies D43.00, D44.00, & D45.00 which require effective interventions when students are not learning required necessary skills. This district fails to even define the required necessary skills at each grade level. The students are socially promoted because the leaders believe that retaining students will lower graduation rates. Currently 58% of SPS students graduate on time. Many students have enormous problems when after being socially promoted k-8, they encounter a high school curriculum with less than middle school skills.

I began my school board testimonies when Sally Soriano informed me that she believed that almost all West Seattle teachers were in favor of the Interactive Mathematics Program materials (IMP). In fact the exact reverse was true as JSCEE sometimes misleads school directors.

I had been banned by building level administrative superiors from communicating with JSCEE admin.
The reason for this was that after two weeks of employment I was told I could not follow state law, so I wrote a letter to Supt. Manhas and CAO Santorno (RCW 28A 600.020). Of course neither one wrote back, legal violations no problem just ignore them. Ah yes the arrogance of upper level large public school system admin. Union? Union? what union.

When this district asks for input, it is fishing for complements not input.

A cattle ranching cowboy's white attractive daughter I taught Calculus to during 2005-2006 is currently on a $40,000 per year scholarship at Georgetown. From my first teaching in the 1968-1969 school year you will today find an electrical engineer and an architect who designed an 8,000 square foot residence in Japan, he credits me his grade 7 teacher of all subjects and 8th grade math teacher as being one of the two most important teachers in his life. The other was his architecture professor.

You both are passionate about smaller, sub-groups of students. That is commendable, but not at the expense of the entire community. Every child deserves to be in an engaging, challenging classroom.

Finally you got something at least partially correct. I do passionately care, except it is for all students.

You and Maggie seem to think that anybody who is succeeding are taking from those who are not succeeding. I don't agree. Neither, obviously did the public.

You could not be further removed from reality.

For your information I've taught in more different diverse locations over my long career than any teacher in the Seattle School district. I took a one-year leave of absence from the North Thurston School District and taught at Gonzaga Prep in 1992. Walking down California Ave. this summer with a large campaign sign held high above my head at a crowded street fair, I heard a voice yell -- "Hey Dempsey were you at Gonzaga Prep?"
I yelled back -- "Sure was"
Then came "This is Zanna Stone you were my best math teacher ever."
She went on to graduate from WSU and teach for a few years prior to the birth of two children. She is currently married and a Seattle resident.

To educate kids is the reason I teach.
You Anon and other similar Anons are the reason many leave teaching.

I spent part of today the first day of my vacation tutoring for two+ hours a young lady who wants to be a nurse. She needs to learn more math so that she can perhaps pass the Compass math test this time and get into a nursing program. She is not a current or former student of mine. The charge was zero - she wants to learn. She is another victim of Dr Bergeson's colossal decade long math disaster.

My strategy has been to reverse this decline. Dr Bergeson hopefully will be removed by Dr Richard Semler in the Nov 2008 elections.

My thinking was that to reverse this incredible continuing carnage of students would be extremely difficult. Dr Bergeson has all the power and I have near zero as you Anon have so eloquently expressed. My plan was to point out to the Seattle schools that their actions in math have continuously widened the math achievement gap for Black and Hispanic students over the last decade. They could not care less. The math program manager is a former Bellevue Science teacher and probably not even highly qualified to teach math.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

To improve this system will probably require a lawsuit. The only way I can figure to stop this rolling disaster that has so many students leaving the SPS for private schools is with a lawsuit based on discrimination.

Anon if you have a better plan, let me hear it.

By the way I volunteered two hours today to help someone learn, what did you do?

No No, I mean other that take a cheap shot comment that you were too lazy to even put a screen name on.

Laura Kohn said...

To the anonymous parent of a child with disabilities in Rainier Beach at 11:03: I invite you to give me a call or send me an email. I would like to learn more about this issue before the New School moves back to Rainier and Henderson in fall 09. I agree that the New School can and should be a model with regard to special education, and I am optimistic that in the new facility the New School will be able to do that.

Laura
407-2152
laura@newschoolfoundation.org

Anonymous said...

According to http://www.metroprofiles.com/Seattle_SeattlePublicSchoolSampler.html, the average student-teacher ratio in Seattle is 18 students. Dunno how that's figured, of course. It's possible it's not on the same metric that gives 17-20 for "most public schools." I know we're said to have a higher percentage of central office folks than other cities do, but I wouldn't have thought most of them would figure into student/teacher ratio.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

"CEASE, as an organization, is very concerned about charter schools and back-door chartered schools that sometimes result from public-private partnerships. That is one of our priorities. We are not alone in these concerns. Washington state voters have defeated charter school legislation 3 times in the past few years."

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. You are so thick. Public/private partnerships are NOT NOT NOT charter schools. Get over it. Your manipulative CEASE tactics don't work any more.

The NEW school is NOT NOT NOT a charter school. Nor would TAFF had been, but CEASE was out there bashing TAF. You say you are not the enemy, but you try to impede progress. You simply can not think about the district as a whole. You focus on your pet groups, and try to look at all district decisions from this narrow perspective. It's standardization from the opposite end.

Anonymous said...

"The issue of students with disabilities at the New School will not go away."

Maybe it won't, but neither will it for the other 13 schools or 25% of all SPS elementary schools that do not offer level 3 or 4 special ed.
Tackle the issue as a whole, with the district. Don't single out one school.

Anonymous said...

'the average student-teacher ratio in Seattle is 18 students. Dunno how that's figured, of course. It's possible it's not on the same metric that gives 17-20 for "most public schools"

Can anyone explain this to me? My son has 30 kids in his 3rd grade class, and no teachers aid. His school does not encourage a whole lot of parent participation, so there are no parents in the room most of the time either. How do we get this 17-20 kid ratio? Is it the numbers at the unpopular schools that have low enrollment, and thus low class size? I don't get it?

Barbara Morey said...

Anon 3:37
"you are so thick"...

Didn't your mother ever teach you that it is not nice to call people names?

From the Oxford American Dictionary:

"Charter: a document from a government granting certain rights or defining the form of an institution."

Or perhaps you prefer...The MOU is a "contract" :"1. A formal agreement between people or groups...2. a document setting out the terms of such an agreement."

Not much difference, is there?

Either way,the issue becomes one of special relationship specifically granted to a particular party over other similar people or, in this case, other schools.

That is: a new school building when others are closing, have been waiting years for renovations or repairs, or when there are two existing buildings in the neighborhood that could have been used for a 5 year old specially funded project. Or when the levy documents don't specify the real use of the money and hides it under a euphemism.

This would not be an issue if every school in the district had a MOU which set apart their rights and the services, privileges, and resources that are to be contracted with them. And if the priorities for further development were based on need instead of apparently catering to a large monetary donation.

And, if you read carefully, I said that "sometimes" public-private partnerships may be considered special charters. (contracted schools, agreements, mou's).

I am concerned when public school money or resources (such as a building)are put into private hands in a profiteering effort.

That is not always the case, and may not be here, but very often the "benefactor" ends up making a profit that has been subsidized by taxpayer money and without adequate public oversight.

That is usually the case with charter schools and with the new classification of schools that you will find in the educational literature these days, "contracted schools." These schools exist where charters have not been approved.

Take a look at the newly authorized state wide on-line 1-12 schools in which all of the tax dollars that would normally go to a local school are channeled into the pockets of companies who produce computer-based schools.

These corporations get the approximately $4000 per student that was intended for use by the district, draining local resources that all already tight. And our SPS board has no say about the curriculum or the expenditure.

With the New School,the original concern was that the MOU/contract was signed by J Olchefske without board action or approval as required by law.

Now the board has taken appropriate steps, but it is difficult to understand why this 5 year old, highly funded project gets the privilege of "jumping the line" for its building. I know it's in the contract. But that doesn't make it equitable.

It is serving neighborhood kids, and that's great, but the neighborhood is gentrifying rapidly and in just a few years we will have very few low income children or families of color living in the neighborhood.(Just look at all the new construction. Affordable housing? Not by lower middle class abilities to pay.)

So this new facility will be used as a neighborhood school for a much "classier" neighborhood than now exists.Enrichment of existing schools and the creation of more private schools are frequent markers of "gentrification"-the displacing of families with lower income, and usually people of color, and replacing them with higher income, and whiter populations.

This is often the unintentional side effect of urban renewal, but it is visibily occuring right now in the RB neighborhood.

Also, I have been concerned, along with other members of the community, that special ed is not being provided for high needs kids. I am pleased to hear Laura requesting information and offering to evaluate the possibilities for increasing the level of spec. ed services at the New School. I hope that becomes a reality.

Open your mind and you may see that other people just could have a reason for their positions and actions.

Use your words to help create a positive result for all kids in SPS, instead of just being mean to people you don't know and disagree with.

Anonymous said...

Once again a CEASE member twist and manipulates facts and figures.

Seattle has voted down charter schools. They are not allowed here. Twist as you may, the New School is not and never will be a charter school. So I won't even bother myself answering to your comments

I will reply to a couple of your comments:

you say "the issue becomes one of special relationship specifically granted to a particular party over other similar people or, in this case, other schools."

Is this not the case with all of our schools in some way or form? Alternative schools have their own philosophies. AEII pays over $30,000 per year to be part of the Harvard program, Experiential learning outward bound. Salmon Bay kids go camping, skiing during school hours....no other middle schools do. Are our alternative schools charter schools too???

Now for this almost slanderous statement "I am concerned when public school money or resources (such as a building)are put into private hands in a profiteering effort."

Before you make such an accusation you better have some solid proof. Show me the proof that the New School foundation is profiting from this partnership. Proof.

You say..."Now the board has taken appropriate steps, but it is difficult to understand why this 5 year old, highly funded project gets the privilege of "jumping the line" for its building."

Does it really matter who gets what first?? The goal is to renovate all building in SPS. Don't all kids matter? Why does it bother you so if one building goes before another? I simply don't get this one at all.

And you say "Also, I have been concerned, along with other members of the community, that special ed is not being provided for high needs kids"

Neither do 25% of all other SPS elementary schools provide level 3 or 4 spec ed. Dont point the finger at one program. Point it at the district. It has nothing to do with a public/private partnership.

And, lastly (your best one yet) you say"It is serving neighborhood kids, and that's great, but the neighborhood is gentrifying rapidly and in just a few years we will have very few low income children or families of color living in the neighborhood."

Are you insinuating that we should not serve white students. Or an up and coming neighborhood. Do I hear racism? Conspiracy? Absurd.

Charlie Mas said...

The student-teacher ratio is not the same as class size because schools have art teachers and P.E. teachers who count in the ratio but do not reduce class sizes. I don't believe that librarians count in the ratio, but a music teacher or a teaching coach probably would. Even if the non-classroom teacher isn't full-time at the school, they would still count as a .5 or .8 teacher.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

The New School foundation gathers funds and employs a staff. They may all be well-intentioned, fine people. They are however, running a business that is located in a school that is paid for with taxpayer money. The people who work in the foundation office could have started another private school in Seattle and raised money for scholarships and bought a building or leased a building. Instead, they are managing a public school.

Let's take a hypothetical example: if the district decides to use a new reading program that doesn't mesh with the New School Foundation, will the New School have to use that curriculum? Is it fair that the neighborhood school that is not receiving extra funding has to use the curriculum, even though the admin and faculty would rather not? One reason why (middle class) people choose the New School is because it is insulated from district mandates. Just like a charter school.

Anonymous said...

Running a business that is paid by tax payer dollars, is different than making a profit. I asked to show proof that The New School is profiting from the partnership. Unlike you I do not believe that The New School is profiting from this endeavor. I think the foundation sincerely wants to show what a properly funded school looks like, and what it can achieve. That is what they say. If someone has proof otherwise, and can show me how they have profited, I would be interested in hearing about it.

By the way Alternative schools can pick and choose their curriculum's to. They don't even use the district report cards. They don't use grades. They adopt non traditional philosophies and curriculum's. Are they charter schools too? And, if not, why do you not classify them as a charter??

Anonymous said...

How about the Montessori program at Bagley and Graham Hill. They use an entirely different approach to teaching and a different curriculum. Are they a charter? And I hear Roosevelt uses a different math curriculum than the district adopted curriculum? Are they a charter? You have to look at the district as a whole and what they allow. Don't single out one school. If you don't like private funding stick to that, but don't keep pointing out things that they do that many other non privately funded schools do too. Compare apples with apples, please.

Anonymous said...

Every person who earns a salary working for the New School Foundation is making money off of a public school - the people who work in their office, answer their phones, send out their mailings - each are "profiting" from the business of a nonprofit running a public school. They would not have a paycheck if they didn't have a school building built with our taxpayer dollars and staffed by taxpayer dollars (for the most part). If a foundation wants to start its own school, offer scholarships to all the students, that would be completely different than what the New School is doing.
As for choice of curriculum and assessment, alternative schools have had to battle for the report card and other nonstandard components. The new supt. plans to do more standardizing - making curriculum selections mandated, not merely available for adoption as they had been. Surely you are familiar with the new math implementation. The New School has permission to pick and choose freely, just like a charter school.

Anonymous said...

Teachers at the new school are employed by the district, so how are they profiting from the new school foundation? We had a teacher transfer from our school to the new school. Was she profiting at our school and profiting at the new school? The new school is a public school. Twist as you may, you can't make it a charter school, or anything but a public school with some extra private funding. Your arguments are weak. They are doing nothing wrong. They are doing what our district SHOULD be doing. We should be thanking them, and sending them flowers. I wish we had many many more "New Schools".

It's people like you who complain incessantly about the lack of equity between schools. Then when a private party steps up and tries to balance the inequity you don't like that either. What would you like?? It's really very frustrating.

And by the way the only reason that the new school is attracting the gentrified population of the area is because they are doing a great job. They are finally after 7 years beginning to attract some of the families that would have went private, moved or home schooled to avoid the pitiful SE schools. Don't those people count too?

Anonymous said...

Before attacking someone else, take a moment and read what the other person actually said. The people who earn money and do not have a paycheck from the Seattle Public Schools are the ones who are "profiting" from a business that would not exist if they didn't have a free building. Do you understand that the New School Foundation has many employees on its payroll?

What harm is it? You said it yourself. A teacher from your school left to go to one that isn't even managed by the Seattle Public Schools. No doubt, the teacher was probably quite a good teacher since the New School hiring process is not the same as that of our public schools. Teachers don't get "bumped" into the New School. Your weaker teachers will remain in what you call pitiful SE schools. Let the New School pay in full for the teachers' salaries and the building. Let the New School give scholarships to all of the kids. Generous people can buy all sorts of things for the public schools without infringing upon the public's schools.

Are you familiar with TT MInor and what it got from the New School Foundation (Sloan)? Have they made a permanent, successful transformed program after donating for six or so years? It would be nice if one of the newspapers did a follow up report on how that all worked out. Perhaps history will not repeat itself in the New School. And hopefully, the school district will not get away with deceiving the public again with a levy brochure that didn't even mention the New School.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I heard that "what does it matter which schools get renovated first" comment a lot in January of this year.

It matters a lot because (1) schools that have waited longer should get fixed sooner (ask Laurelhurst or Pathfinder or Nova)

(2) more importantly, it's about safety. The South Shore building is not the most unsafe building in the district by far. South Shore was slated, under BEX II, to be reconformed from an open classroom configuration to walls. Now, of course, the project has morphed into something entirely different.

(3) It's about money. We could have saved money if we had waited for the City (which co-owns the building with a corridor straight down the middle that is the separation) to rebuild South Shore jointly.

That audit of the Port? If you did one of Facilities, I have no doubt you'd find the exact same things.

It's about taxpayer money, accountability to where money is spent and getting the most bang for the buck.

Anonymous said...

Here is a hypothetical...

What if the New School Foundation decided to give every school in the district three additional teachers to use however they wish. Paid for by them. Would you bash them for this too?? These teachers would after all be profiting from a private company, even though they were serving public school students? And, if you would not like to see this type of scenario then you better think long and hard about fund raising that happens at all of the middle class and affluent schools that buy extra teachers, reduce class size, pay for music programs, art docents, math clubs and every thing else in between. All funded by private dollars, not coming from our district. It's a fuzzy line isn't it?


In your comment you say "Your weaker teachers will remain in what you call pitiful SE schools."

Isn't this the case all over the district?? Do you really think Laurelhurst, Montlake and Bryant have some of the weakest teachers in the district?? My kid goes to Bryant, and I can tell you 100% the answer is absolutely not. A poor teacher may get "bumped" into our school (rarely), but parent uproar is so loud they quickly transfer somewhere else, usually to a South or Central area school, where they won't face the same parental criticism. Again, I ask you to please look at the district as a whole and what happens all across our district, instead of only pointing at the New School. Can you at leastdo that and acknowledge that many things that you accuse the NEw School of doing are happening all across the district in many many schools.

Laura please comment here....

Thanks

Anonymous said...

See the original post on this blog:
3) "The New School is....not a publicly run school...it's a District school with additional funding". What interesting phrasing.

What many of us are saying is that additional funding is not what makes the New School different. They operate by a different set of rules. They are using taxpayer money ahead of the rest of our schools who should have had access.

Nobody wants noisy parents to be the reason a teacher stays or leaves a school. The district is spending money on coaches - if the coaches cannot turn the teacher into a better teacher and the principal can't manage the teacher, there is evidence that a teacher would need to leave. This is not asking the impossible of anyone.

Noisy parents created this blog when their schools were threatened with closure. You may want to encourage fellow parents to advocate for more equity of policy and accountability instead of chasing nonprofits and their dollars to be used to administer our public schools.

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 12:20 said:
......The district is spending money on coaches - if the coaches cannot turn the teacher into a better teacher and the principal can't manage the teacher, there is evidence that a teacher would need to leave.

The district is spending money on Math and Literacy coaches for teachers. I believe that the math coaches are necessary because we have k-8 math curricula is use that are decidedly teacher unfriendly.

Everyday Math for a given grade level consists of well over 1000 pages when teacher materials are considered. This coaching expenditure has nothing to do with sub-standard teachers. This curriculum seems to require large expenditures to function.

I believe that the literacy coaches for teachers are again not aimed at saving substandard teachers but rather are part of a program. I believe the literacy program that the literacy coaches are involved in likely has much greater merit than the Everyday Math program.

Laura Kohn said...

Folks may have left this thread now that the holidays are underway, but for any who are left, a few points:

- The school district does not give the New School Foundation any money whatsoever. The Foundation gives the school district $1.3 million this school year.

- Regarding the building, and the contention that the South Shore building skipped ahead in line, a gentle reminder that the South Shore building was on the BEXII levy for renovation. That means that 8 years ago, before the New School was initiated, the building was in bad enough shape that the district included it on the capital improvement program. Then a couple of things happened. First, the district had no plan for a destination for South Lake and the New School parents banded together with the South Lake community to demand a solution to that problem. The result was that the funds in BEXII for the South Shore building were shifted to a new South Lake building, with an understanding that the South Shore project would be pushed onto BEXIII. The second thing that happened was that the renovation plans the architect could come up with for the bizarre South Shore building didn't meet current educational specifications, plus the district felt that the basic bones of the building were not high quality and would be a bad investment for a renovation. Hence the demolition and new construction.

- One point of interest: The Seattle School District does contract for some schools - deals in which public dollars are provided to nonprofits so that they can provide a school. In the main, these are schools serving special populations like children with mental illness and children who are incarcerated, but there are a couple that are drop-out retrieval programs (at least there used to be).

- The foundation office is located in rented office space, not in the New School. There are three of us at the foundation office: there's me, a finance director, and an office manager/researcher (half time). If you're ever in the Treehouse building, stop in to say hello to us.

- The foundation does not in any way manage or run the New School. It is managed by its principal, who reports to the superintendent, just like any other school. We have no authority over the school.

- The New School uses the district-mandated curricula, no exceptions. There is a provision in our agreement that the New School may submit a request to the Chief Academic Officer to opt out of district curricula (which she may turn down), if the school can demonstrate that it is getting outstanding outcomes with an alternative. The school board, in affirming the partnership agreement, said that all schools can have that opportunity. This notion is sometimes referred to as earned autonomy. But as I say, the New School has not availed itself of this, to date.

Many of the contributors to this thread who are worried about the New School have an inaccurate understanding of our partnership agreement. I would be happy to send it to anyone who requests, and it can also be obtained from the school district. My email address is laura@newschoolfoundation.org.

Laura Kohn said...

One more point:

Of all of the complaints about the New School in this thread, there's only one that gets me angry, and I think many of you will be surprised at what it is. It is the complaint that the quality of the New School is driving gentrification in Rainier Beach.

Rainier Beach is indeed slowly gentrifying, like the rest of Seattle, and it is even possible that the quality of the New School is accelerating that change slightly. But by the logic of this complaint, we should not provide quality public schools in low income neighborhoods because more families will choose to move into them.

This is a very dangerous, discriminatory line of argument.

I will also say, however, that while the New School Foundation is very proud of helping to provide an excellent public school choice in Rainier Beach, it is essential to us that low income families benefit from this partnership. If you read our partnership agreement, you'll see that this notion is front and center. We hope that the new student assignment plan will somehow help to ensure that the New School serves many, many low income students in the future. And we welcome suggestions about how to recruit low income students to the school.

Anonymous said...

Laura thank you so much for clarifying the way that the new school operates, funding, curriculum, the mou, etc, I was hoping you would! This should put an end to the misinformed anonymous poster that keeps attacking the new school, posting blatantly wrong information, and manipulating facts and figures. It's awful, really, because readers who don't know the true facts, believe the inaccurately information and start rumors which become widespread misunderstandings that cause insecurity and suspicion. Thanks, again for clarifying.

dan dempsey said...

Laura Kohn said:

......It is managed by its principal, who reports to the superintendent, just like any other school. We have no authority over the school.

Thanks for the clarification. This reporting to the superintendent is a substantial difference from a California charter school.


.....There is a provision in our agreement that the New School may submit a request to the Chief Academic Officer to opt out of district curricula (which she may turn down), if the school can demonstrate that it is getting outstanding outcomes with an alternative. The school board, in affirming the partnership agreement, said that all schools can have that opportunity. This notion is sometimes referred to as earned autonomy.

Wow!!!! This seems right up there with "Catch 22".

If a school is saddled with the poor Everyday Math curriculum it can not opt-out because it can not demonstrate getting outstanding results from an alternative.

North Beach received permission to continue using Saxon Math but still received most of the EM materials anyway.

Schmitz Park was allowed not to start EM this year. Everyplace else it looks like EM (with the 25% Singapore Supplement that has yet to start) is it for the future as the autonomy clause is worthless. Unless a school can get permission for a pilot (which appears highly unlikely) how can it demonstrate success from another curriculum.

Insanity reigns in the SPS. The Everyday Math pilot school Green Lake could not even demonstrate improved test performance on ITBS or WASL. All it needed was a Green Lake principal to testify about the love and affection of everyone for this curriculum. Ramsey's article in the Times showed a 93% disapproval rating by the public for reformed math. The CAO locked us into this anyway.

With leadership like this good luck with waivers and pilots and earned autonomy.

Ah yes I digress.

Laura has the New School used any Singapore Math thus far or is it Everyday Math only thus far?
Any math supplements in use?
What interventions (in any subjects) are used with students not making good progress?

Thanks,

Dan