Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Story in the Times

There was one of those articles without news in the Times today. The closest thing to news in this story is the suggestion that the District will announce changes in gifted and Special education this spring. Of course, it was also news to me that Director Martin-Morris thinks that the district has been spending a lot of time on gifted kids.

Director DeBell says that the Board is looking for ways to add more Montessori programs and replicate foreign language immersion programs. I find that interesting because it would appear to be outside the Board's charge. Program Placement is the Superintendent's job and the Board is supposed to keep their noses out of the Superintendent's business.

It's very weird to see the Times switch - so obviously - from a loud and vocal detractor of our public schools to a public school booster.

Here's a link to the story: Seattle School Board turns its attention to middle-class families

136 comments:

middle class mom said...

While I agree that it is not the duty or responsibility of the Board to create new Montessori or foreign language programs, they are often the people that talk with the public, their constituents, and hear their problems, ideas, requests, etc. As such, I would expect them to bring these concerns to the Superintendent, and administration. While they do not have the power to "create" a Montessori program, they can be very influential and persistent.

As far as the "middle class" comments, all I can say is thank goodness we finally have a Board that is willing (and brave enough) to make sure that ALL children are being served, and moved on from the hyper-focus on the acievement gap and institutionalized racism. While I think they should still focus on these issues, they should too focus on the middle class, advanced learning and everything in between. All kids matter, and I think the last board lost focus on this.

I don't blame the Times for "switching". I am switching too. I am optimistic again, and have a new found confidence in this Board and Superintendent.

Been There, Done That said...

I agree with MCM that ALL KIDS matter.

I guess we'll see if the loss of the "hyper-focus on the achievement gap and institutionalized racism" translates to business as usual or just selective amnesia.

We may not have ended Institutional Racism or closed the Gaps, but how much do you want to bet we get IBs, APPs, Enrichment Dual Language Immersion programs (AKA International Schools) and Montesori.

If only we could choose our students, what a wonderful school we could be.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a follow up question for been there, done that, or anyone else who might want to offer an answer:

Wouldn't the proliferation of "IBs, APPs, Enrichment Dual Language Immersion programs (AKA International Schools) and Montesori" help close the academic achievement gap and end institutionalized racism? Don't minority children from low-income families benefit just as much from these educational opportunities as affluent White children. And, if not, why not?

Surely if there are more of these types of programs, wouldn't that make them more accessible to minority students from low income households? How would that be "business as usual?

been there done that said...

Charlie,

I wish I could say I was optimistic about that. Maybe someone could post some statistical data that shows how well these programs have served low income and minority students, and my gut instincts will be proven wrong.

My understanding is that Garfield, in the heart of what once was the Black community, is like two separate schools. How many Black, other students of color and low income students does it serve?


I certainly agree that some families are served by these programs and support their right to have them widely available. It is also clear that some low income and students of color will be served by having more access.

However, I won't hold my breath for a "hyper focus" on "middle class" programs to eliminate the academic achievement Gaps. We still have significant problems with curriculum and how we deliver it. I don't believe that these problems will somehow be fixed by the diffusion of increased rigor if we just can reclaim the private school crowd and institute a middle class focus. My bet is that the proliferation of these programs will lead to increased Gaps and higher numbers of drop/push outs because "we can't afford it, we just can't do it all, and something has to go"

middle class mom said...

"Wouldn't the proliferation of "IBs, APPs, Enrichment Dual Language Immersion programs and Montessori" help close the academic achievement gap and end institutionalized racism? Don't minority children from low-income families benefit just as much from these educational opportunities as affluent White children. And, if not, why not?"

Sure they do. But the middle class and affluent kids who typically enroll in these programs are generally very motivated students, with supportive, assertive parents. These programs require a lot of work and commitment on the part of the student and family.

Most kids are not "motivated" to excel in school on their own. Most excel because their parents expect them to. Their parents encourage, support, and hold them accountable to do so. Most low income families are busy putting food on the table and paying the rent. Education is important to them too, but they are generally happy to see their kids going to school and working at grade level. They are not focusing on advance learning or college prep. Many low income families are also dealing with substance abuse, mental health issues, homelessness and more. I don't see how the simple addition of more advanced learning, language immersion, or Montessori is going to do much to improve the outcome for low income minority students.

What I thin would work, is what Charlie has posted in the past, which is the addition of a tremendous amount of support offered to low income schools, starting with low class size, tutoring, summer programs, additional social workers, etc. These kids need to focus on getting to school and working at grade level, then, and only then will IB/ APP and other offering truly be an opportunity for them.

Mad Valley parent said...

I strongly disagree that the school board should stay out of school choices. The general question of "what school options should we offer to our students?" is a policy question. Some say that the three primary school board responsibilities should be hire/fire the superintendent, what are the school options available to students/families, and assuring school quality.

And Montessori and language immersion are proven models in our district (and elsewhere), and I'd like to see them available to some of our lower income neighborhoods. They may not be a silver bullet for closing the achievement gap, but they each work well for some students. Let's see Montessori in the central part of the city (and West Seattle?) and language immersion programs anywhere in addition to Wallingford.

Charlie Mas said...

Although the previous Board did establish a Policy governing Program Placement (C56.00), it only says what the Superintendent "should endeavor" to do. Pretty weak and un-enforceable language. Moreover, it acknowledges that "Policy F21.00 delegates to the Superintendent the authority to make all program placement decisions."

So mad valley parent may think that program placement should be a Board decision, but by Policy it is not.

The Board is not called upon to approve - or even review - program placement decisions (with a single exception) and the program placement process has not historically accepted public input of any kind. Program placement decisions have been made by a Committee with an unknown membership through a murky process they have never really described using a variety of criteria that they have never disclosed. It has been the antithesis of openness, honesty, transparency, engagement, and accountability.

When M L King wanted to offer a Montessori program, the Committee demanded an impossible collection of data. Other proposals were accepted with no supporting data whatsoever. The decisions of the Committee have been shown to be capricious, thoughtless, and careless. They were driven more by political considerations than anything else. Principals were trading programs like baseball cards and were allowed to veto program placements in their schools even if the placement served district-wide interests. Typically, programs were placed in whatever school had available space. This led to a concentration of special education programs in a few schools.

Anonymous said...

Garfield has more black students taking AP courses than any other Seattle high school, doesn't it?

Helen Schinske

middle class mom said...

Garfield has more white students taking AP courses than any other HS in Seattle too. The HS offers many many more AP classes than any other HS in the city. It is a magnet school for advanced learning, so it naturally draws students who want these services.

I didn't suggest that that low income minority children would not benefit from taking AP classes. What I said was a direct answer to Charlie's question which was "would these programs be enough to close the achievement gap". I do not think that these programs alone are enough to close the gap for the MAJORITY of students. Though there will always be low income, minority children who strive to succeed and will achieve against all odds, the MAJORITY of these children will, unfortunately, never take advantage of APP at Garfield. Should more advanced learning, Montessori and Immersion be offered in low income, minority neighborhoods? Of course, YES YES YES!!!! But do you really think simply offering these programs will close the gap???? I don't.

Charlie Mas said...

There appears to be a misunderstanding.

While offering better access to these programs may help to close the academic achievment gap. I don't think that should be the whole effort or even an important part of it.

It is, however, an important part of the effort to create better equity of opportunity, and it is certainly a departure from any version of "business as usual".

Anonymous said...

My point about more black kids taking AP courses at Garfield was in response to "been there done that"'s characterization of Garfield as being "like two separate schools." Garfield is actually doing *better* at attracting black kids into upper-level courses than some other schools are. Isn't that a step in the right direction, at least?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad that there is at least the mention of middle class interests out of the mouths of school board members.

Now perhaps the board and the District staff can bring us that predictable elementary school enrollment plan whose implementation plan has been pushed back 2 years from the original date...and counting. Until I see it, I'm going to have to do the "enroll in private school and hope for the best with my public school assignment" plan just like that other mom in the article.

But I'd like to send my kids to my central cluster local facility. I really would.

Anonymous said...

One thing I noticed about the experience of the mom in the article: she had trouble getting information out of the district that should have been easy for them to provide (e.g., which schools offer Mandarin -- John Muir, Graham Hill, and Beacon Hill, last I heard).

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

The District doesn't know which schools offer Mandarin because the District isn't involved in that decision. It is a site-based decision. The District might know which schools offer Mandarin this year, but that is no assurance for next year. The schools could decide to start or stop the Mandarin anytime they wanted without the District's knowledge - let alone prior approval.

Thanks to decentralized decision making, the information is scattered and no one has the responsibility to collect it. The parent will simply have to contact every school and ask them to describe their programs. The district does not even know the nature of District-sponsored programs, such as advanced learning, special education, and bilingual education, as they appear in each school.

How does Leschi's Spectrum program differ from Lawton's, Wing Luke's and Lafayette's? Leschi is (or was) self-contained in two classes: one with grades 1-3 and one with grades 4 and 5. Lawton uses an inclusive model. Wing Luke uses small learning groups. Lafayette has self-contained Spectrum classes.

Some schools do a lot of inclusion with their special education students, some do almost none. Some bilingual programs are dual language, some are not.

On top of this, there are all of the myriad of teaching styles and elements that some schools add and some leave out. Some middle schools require a culminating project. Some offer instrumental music. Some offer performing arts.

The District doesn't know because they are not involved in the decision.

The District has yet to set a standard list of courses that all middle schools or high schools must offer. That would be the FIRST predictability they could institute, if you ask me.

been there.......here we go again said...

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/studentservices/documents/demographics.pdf

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/siso/reports/anrep/high/14.pdf

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/documents/appparentsurv050305.pdf

The Above links have some interesting information. Although I was unable to find out how many African American or other students of color are enrolled in Garfield's
APP program, I did find that District wide in 2005 there were 24% African Americans students in the District, while only 4% of APP program students were African American. White students were 41% of students in the District, but represented over 70% of APP students.

This is just the tip of the ice berg. If one could find the data, what do you think it would say about grades of students of color in APP? Would the teacher of color ratio of teachers be any better than the District the 14% African American certificated teachers/24%students or 1% Latino certificated/12% students??

I say we are going back to business as usual because this disproportioanlity hasn't and won't be addressed if we talk about class instead of race; if we focus on teh "middle class." I can assure you the cost of IBs, APPs etc won't be a factor (we have to reclaim our private school middle class) as it is for recruitment of staff of color for hiring, "extra" programs for support to struggling students etc.

Business as usual will be lip service to support to the students not well served by our broken system, and real dollars to the enrichment of our most privileged.

Just putting these programs in place wont ensure that ALL students have access or are successful. The gap will grow if we are not intentional about supporting our lowest performing students.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie said ....
.....The District doesn't know because they are not involved in the decision.
I disagree. The District does not know because they did not inquire and collect information. This has nothing to do with whether decisions are made at a building level or district level.

The District has yet to set a standard list of courses that all middle schools or high schools must offer. That would be the FIRST predictability they could institute, if you ask me.
List of courses at middle schools and high schools would be nice. The FIRST predictability the SPS could institute would be a list of required necessary skills that will be taught at each elementary grade level.

Dear “Been there.......here we go again”,
Thanks for the three .pdfs that you posted. To my surprise when I copied your comment into my word-processor the entire url showed up for each one and I could easily access all three. Excellent reading thanks again.

Been there.......here we go again said .....
Business as usual will be lip service to support to the students not well served by our broken system, and real dollars to the enrichment of our most privileged.

Our most privileged class are the administrators and they do get a lot of the real dollars

Just putting these programs in place won't ensure that ALL students have access or are successful. The gap will grow if we are not intentional about supporting our lowest performing students.

Wow an excellent point -- Intentionality....what is this district intentional about when it comes to academics?

I’ve been criticized by some on this blog that care to do little investigation for my advocacy of Singapore Math and rejection of reform math programs that have widened the achievement gap as well as leaving significant numbers of all ethnic groups of SPS children significantly under prepared in math. While this district spoke of closing the Gap it widened. Most if not all of the Math adoption Finalists at all three grade levels had little promise of closing the achievement gap.

Approximately 75% of Singapore school children come from homes where English is not the primary language. The Singapore math books in grades 1, 2 & 3 use very simple English. Despite the fact that at grades 4 and 8 Singapore is the highest performing Math nation and all of the materials are written in English. The SPS did not even look at these Singapore materials in their initial adoption process. When I brought Singapore materials to High School Math Leaders in Spring of 2007, teachers were interested but SPS coaches and decision makers were less than pleased.
Singapore does a significant amount of after school intervention work with about 20% of their student population to keep them from falling behind. Finland, which scored #1 on PISA math for 15 year olds, seldom uses national testing but has a lot of one on one remedial instruction.

Seattle selected Everyday Math, which has far to many topics. SPS has yet to define necessary skills at each grade level. There can be no interventions when no one is aware what is important.

Instead we hear about increased mainstreaming and “Fidelity of Implementation” for Everyday Math which means that teachers need to keep turning those pages and following that pacing guide regardless of who may be falling behind.

As was said...... We are not intentional about supporting our lowest performing students.

I believe the SPS also has little interest in supporting the highest performing students.
As far as better learning for all goes -- in math it will not be happening anytime soon unless a large change in direction is made and that means more than just replacing the lame k-8 math primary curricula of Everyday Math and Connected Math Project.

To find out more coppy this into a word processor to get the full link:

http://mathinsingapore.blogspot.com/2007/06/why-examine-mathematics-in-singapore.html

It is a blog on a visit by a group of educators to Singapore. It included Seattle's Remy Poon.

The full link is:
http://mathinsingapore.blogspot.com
/2007/06/why-examine-mathematics
-in-singapore.html

Better Learning for All is our goal.

middle class mom said...

Charlie, I agree with you 100% when you talk about the district not knowing what a school offers. In my search for a HS for our son, I looked at Hale's website, and found that they offer several AP classes. I was happy since we live across the street from Hale, and would love our child to attend. It wasn't until Melissa Westbrook posted on this blog that the way they offered AP classes was much different than the rest of the comprehensive high schools. Hale's AP classes are not self contained. AP students go to a regular class and in the regular class they are given the "AP" work to do on there own. They are not given AP instruction, they are not placed amongst AP peers. They are in regular ed classes, and are expected to perform at the AP level .

I called the district to verify if this was correct. They had no idea. I called the Hale office, and they had no idea. They referred me to a councilor who never called me back. Parents have to be private investigators to figure out what a school has to offer, and then compare them to the other schools to see if they are competitive.

We encountered this at elementary school too. We opted for our neighborhood school, which is a great, but very small, north end school. When compared to another, much larger school in our cluster, it's offerings paled in comparison, but we didn't learn this until a neighbor mentioned it to us when our child was in second grade. It was not in the enrollment guide, nor was it on the district or school website. The larger school offered a dedicated science teacher, a science lab, a science fair, art docents, math club, chess club, vocal and instrumental music, camping, a spring musical, etc. None of these were offered at our small neighborhood school. We loved our school, but would have liked to make an informed decision before we chose which school to send out child to. I think a parent should attend the open houses of the schools you are interested in , but I don't believe it is the parents responsibility to act as private eye's. I think the district should provide the information to us in written form, or at least have knowledgeable staff at the enrollment centers.

It's very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Each student who does not enroll in public schools costs the district somewhere between $5,000 and $9,000....

What a load. Those students aren't costing the district anything. The cost to educate them adequately is more than $5,000. (Last I checked, the Basic Education Allocation was more like $4,000 in any case.) The state is simply not educating some people who would prefer a more expensive education than the state has to offer. This really plays into the fear of all those public school parents who are afraid their kids are missing something by staying in the public schools. It costs everyone else nothing (other than pride) when some people choose private schools. I know a lot will reply with the "but the public schools need those pushy parents"... they don't, they have plenty as is.

Furthermore, there's no way the state would fund a student without disabilities a rate of $9,000 (and that disabled student wouldn't be in private school).

Anonymous said...

According to a Seattle Times article of March 2, 2007, "Seattle Public Schools recently received a federal grant to offer Chinese at three elementary schools -- Beacon Hill, Graham Hill and John Muir. The district also will be able to train more Chinese-language teachers with that money."

I had the impression that federally funded programs would be the sort of thing the district would *have* to keep track of, but I don't really know. But yes, of course I agree with Charlie and others, generally speaking school information is way too decentralized and hard to get at.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

"The state is simply not educating some people who would prefer a more expensive education than the state has to offer."

If the state spends $5000 per student they are pretty close to the average per pupil spending at many private schools. Much of the $10,000-$16,000 (average) tuition that parents pay is going to fund the building, rent, utilities, teachers salaries, admin. salaries, scholarships, advertising/PR, insurance, and all of the other costs associated with running a school. SPS students get $5000 per student after all of these expenses, and it's pretty competitive with what private school students get when all the bills get paid.

Anonymous said...

"Much of the $10,000-$16,000 (average) tuition that parents pay is going to fund the building, rent, utilities, teachers salaries, admin. salaries,... "

Salaries are paid for by the Basic Education Allocation that goes to each school. Salaries are not some freebie. (IE. the $4,000 BEA covers teachers and principals). It is true that SPS gets the buildings for free. BUT, the highest cost for private schools is salaries. So NO, private schools do have significantly MORE to spend on the kids, especially if the private schools offer smaller class size which almost all do. Teachers in private schools also make significantly less than public school teachers as well, especially considering they generally have no expensive retirement benefits.

Anonymous said...

Private schools also require about 20% - 25% of the tuition to be paid in the form of annual fund and auction donatations. So, along with a $16,000 tuition is the $3,000 - $4,000 donation, which is really just another form of tuition, but it's tax free. Those are also funds available to private schools. Public schools too have auctions. Even the wealthiest public schools only raise their per-pupil money a few hundred dollars.

Anonymous said...

I would like someone to explain where all of the tuition goes??? My child attended a well respected private school K-2, and then public school from third grade on. He is now in 7th grade. Aside from smaller class size (18 VS 26) my child did not get anything more in private school than he got in public school. In fact public school offered more in many areas. If private school kids get $16,000 and public school kids get $4000, where does the additional $12,000 go?? I think the above poster was right. It goes to building, salaries, utilities, advertising, scholarships, etc. It does not go directly to the student. Otherwise private schools would offer much more than public schools, and they just don't.

Anonymous said...

Re tuition: every tuition-taking institution I've ever heard of has said that their tuition doesn't nearly cover the true per-student cost. Typically they break down the expenses somewhere in their fund-raising literature.

They can't require donations, much as they might like to make you think so.

Helen Schinske

dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon at 10:12,

Your comment about not getting more academic value in the private school is not unusual.

When all schools are adjusted for socioeconomic status public schools slightly out perform private schools. This is not to say that some private schools will not out perform the public school average.

It has long been my contention that many parents put their children in private schools because of disruption and discipline issues.

Many SPS teachers believe that if standards were higher in regard to behavior, then more learning would take place. This is especially true at the grades 6 through 12 levels.

How much higher? Just actually applying RCW 28A 600.020 would be adequate.

The same could also be said about requiring some level of accomplishment k-8. The much talked about raising of academic rigor in the SPS is just a lot of noise.
Until students and parents know what is expected academically and the SPS intervenes with effective interventions many parents will continue to place their kids outside the SPS. This placement depends on either affording private tuition or residing outside the SPS both of these are quite popular in comparison with other large cities.

Most high achieving nations put much more energy into remediation of those students failing behind.

Singapore has a large remediation effort for those in 5th and 6th grade. This takes place after school.

Finland has a lot of one-on-one assistance for those in danger of falling behind.

Some private schools like Albuquerque Academy offer a truly amazing education for those who can academically qualify. With generous scholarships AA reflects the population demographics a bit more closely than many private schools.

The SPS has a significant way to go if it expects to significantly improve learning for all. The mode of operation needs to be changed. More listening and then thoughtfully developing sustainable programs coupled with a lot less telling and ignoring.

Anonymous said...

Dan said:
Approximately 75% of Singapore school children come from homes where English is not the primary language. The Singapore math books in grades 1, 2 & 3 use very simple English.Despite the fact that at grades 4 and 8 Singapore is the highest performing Math nation and all of the materials are written in English.

from Wikipedia,
Singapore has a high literacy rate[56]. English is the first language learned by half the children by the time they reach preschool age and is the primary medium of instruction in primary school; however mother tongues are taught in the respective languages. English is the language of instruction for mathematics and the natural sciences. Special Assistance Plan schools may teach in another language to encourage more vibrant use of mother tongues.[vague] Some schools also integrate language subjects with mathematics and the sciences, using both English and a second language.

so i would have to disagree with your observation. that students in singapore are at a disadvantage because they are from families where little english is spoken.

jpr said...

dan:>
i found a greate piece on Sinapore math from the hover institution have a look here.

http://www.hoover.org/publications/ednext/3853357.html
its about:
Montgomery County Public Schools
and its good reading. I think the district made a mistake in not choosing Sinapore math, period. in the piece they talk about "guess & check" while that might be the way to find an answer, i thought solving math problems is to be logical and efficient. I wonder if singapore math can teach a child who hasnt quite figured out the logical way to solve a problem, to solve it in an efficient way? do you have any experience with this?

dan dempsey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon at 5:03,

Thanks for the Stats.

The USA ranks tied for #21 in literacy at 99%.
Singapore ranks #73 at 92.5%
A literacy rate of 92.5% may be high by some standards but not by US and Canadian Standards.

From the Singapore Gov's 2005 Household survey on the language most frequently spoken at home (Which in this case I find more reliable than Wikipedia):

For the total group of 3,147,178 of those over 5 years old, we find 884,418 speaking English most frequently at home. That would be 28% speaking English most frequently at home. Which leaves us with 72% not speaking English most frequently at home.

If we confine ourselves to only looking at those between the ages of 5 and 9 years old we find that of a total of 249,159 there are 106,539 speaking English most frequently at home. That would be 43% of those children in the early grades speaking English most frequently at home.

So let us make it 57% come from Families where English is not the primary language at home in those early grades under consideration.

If we look at the 15 to 19 year old population group that number rises to 67% in the NOT group.

The synthesis of cultures occurs in the educational setting, where English is the official language of the education system. Mathematics education is treated equally with English Language Arts. The third part of the required education, and also of equal importance, is the student's mother tongue. If a student's mother tongue is not Mandarin, Malay, or Tamil, s/he may select to take one of the three or may be exempt.

So much for that homogeneous population nonsense spoken about some time ago by an anonymous poster.

I maintain that that many students in Singapore are at a disadvantage because they are from families where little English is spoken.

The data does not indicate otherwise.

They are at an advantage compared with those students in Seattle because:

1.. Books written in very basic English are used in Singapore Math at the Early Grades.

2.. Their books match up extremely well with the ideas expressed by the Mathematics Standards Study Group's recommendations for revising State math standards.

3.. They have not been fumbling through TERC/Invstigations, Everyday math, and Connected Math Project.

Singapore has a comprehensive cohesive plan for achievement. It is so much more than just the books. There is an entire educational system focused on academic achievement. Find out a lot more about why Singapore knows what they are doing in Mathematics education at:

http://mathinsingapore.blogspot.com/

Perhaps someday McGraw-Hill et al. will allow us to leave the dictates of soft Corporate Fascism. Who knows maybe we will wake up and leave this fascism of our volition.

Singapore became an independent nation in 1965 a bit after the time that we had reached the top of the Math heap. These folks certainly knew how to not only eliminate the achievement gap at the fourth grade level but reverse it.

Are we too uninformed or is it too arrogant to pay attention?

dan dempsey said...

Dear JPR,

I agree with the sentiment about the SPS should have adopted Singapore Math period.

Unfortunately the SPS never even considered Singapore math as a primary adoption. The only reason it showed up as a supplement was because of public pressure. Singapore Math still has yet to be put in use at most schools.

I like the Hoover report on Montgomery MD also.

Send me your email address and I'll ship you a couple of interesting papers.

dempsey_dan@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Aside from smaller class size (18 VS 26) my child did not get anything more in private school

Exactly, that's where the money went: more and lower salaries for fewer kids. And, most private schools have smaller class sizes than 18. Of course they can't require donations, but when it comes time to getting that ever important recommendation for the next private institution, you'll be glad you made the appropriate donation each year.

The big picture is that every kid in a private school (for whatever reason) SAVES the taxpayer many thousands of dollars, which ultimately leaves more for the public schools statewide. It's a savings, not a cost burden. Imagine, you would never claim that someone using private health insurance was "costing" medicaid thousands of dollars.

Anonymous said...

Re: placement policy: Typically, programs were placed in whatever school had available space. This led to a concentration of special education programs in a few schools.

Hmmm. And what schools would those be? Every school has a resource room (or level 2) special education. 75% of schools have level 3 and 4 special education students. So, which schools have this alleged "concentration"?

A few schools, like McGilvra, have been allowed to opt out of serving high needs students or only serving them in kindergarten, and then refusing to serve them more. True even though it is clearly illegal to force kids to transition multiple times just to serve them. A few other schools have concentrations of particular disability labels, which is also illegal under IDEA.

Anonymous said...

If you are so disgruntled with the way that Seattle serves special ed students, why not move to another district that would satisfy you? It sounds like you have done your research and are just not satisfied with your options here.

middle class mom said...

Why should every school serve every type of student? I don't think this really makes sense.

Not every school offers advanced learning opportunities (Spectrum, APP, AP class, IB program). Not every school offers a re-entry or pregnant mothers program. Not every school offers Montessori or a language immersion program.

Why should every school and building serve the special ed population??

Instead of saying what you dislike and what is wrong with our district, perhaps you could post how you think it would work better.

Anonymous said...

Why a school district should follow federal guidelines for special education need not be justified by any parent. Please don't attack others when they describe the endless problems in Seattle. Parents with children with special education needs have plenty to worry about and shouldn't have to hunt for a district that follows the law. Why not learn more about the situation instead of criticizing the poster for pointing out how this district management is filled with fault.

Anonymous said...

Why not offer what you think would work. Cite the law if you would like, but say what you would like to see, instead of just saying what everybody is doing wrong.

And, by the way, if our district is so blatantly breaking the law, why are they not being sued???

Anonymous said...

Every building already does have special education. I was simply wondering what "concentration of special education" means from a previous post. ??? I only know about a few schools who have actively sought to ban students with disabilities.... not ANY that have tried to become a cluster or concentration. In any case, it really isn't the same as other special programs such as APP. It is federally required. And no, parents aren't going district shopping, and shouldn't have to. (Personally, I don't actually think it is terrible to have clusters of certain disability labels, provided they are easily accessible and high quality, even though it is illegal and was noted problematic in the recent special education review.)

Anonymous said...

And, by the way, if our district is so blatantly breaking the law, why are they not being sued???

They've been sued many times. Currently they are under the subject of an OSPI corrective action plan. Further, they've even admitted some of the numerous violations they practice. It really isn't that easy and it costs at least $50,000 to win or even go to trial. Special education students also have a legislated right to mediation. Often individual cases can be fixed without ever fixing the systematic program and placement issues. EG. One child of a wealthy and knowledgeable parent gets placed by mediation, leaving the system basically broken.

Anonymous said...

"The big picture is that every kid in a private school (for whatever reason) SAVES the taxpayer many thousands of dollars, which ultimately leaves more for the public schools statewide."

How can it both save the taxpayer money AND provide more money for schools? That seems like a contradiction to me. If the taxpayer's paying less tax, it's not going to the public school budget.

Anyway, isn't the budget based on the number of students they expect to enroll, not the total number of school-age children in Seattle? If half the kids in private school suddenly switched to public, I doubt the tax monies would stand the strain.

Overall, the average amount per student (private or public) being spent in Seattle is surely higher than it would be if more kids were in public school. I just don't see how that translates to more money for anyone in the public schools. But maybe there's something I'm missing here.

Whether the school system is actually *losing* money, as the article claimed, with every student that leaves the district is not clear to me. Seems to me it would depend on whether they've got enough left to achieve certain economies of scale. I do think there are possible scenarios where adding another student or two could be mostly a monetary gain for the schools, but adding lots could be at best a break-even deal.

Helen Schinske

classof75 said...

My understanding is that Garfield, in the heart of what once was the Black community, is like two separate schools. How many Black, other students of color and low income students does it serve?

Your understanding is faulty

Minority students at Garfield have a higher rate of graduation than at other Seattle public schools- according to my understanding which involves having a child @ Garfield who participates in programs like College Access Now & Cultural Relations.

Clubs @ Garfield fully support the minority community ( which is actually the majority)

# Clubs

* Amnesty International
* Asian/Pacific Islanders
* Art Club/Life Drawing
* Battle Rap
* Black Achievers
* Black Student Union
* Cheer Squad
* Chess Club
* Cultural Relations
* Debate Team
* DECA
* Drama Club
* Dumbledore's Army
* Earth Service Corps
* Fashion Club
* Fellowship Club
* Free the Children
* French Club
* Gay/Straight Alliance
* Genocide Awareness
* Girls, Girls, Girls
* International Club
* Greek Club
* JCL
* Key Club
* Knitting Club
* Math Team
* Mentors
* MESA
* Model United Nations
* National Honor Society
* Orienteering Club
* Peer Mediators
* Pen
* Physics Club
* Poetry Club
* Pep Club
* Post
* Pyramid Club
* Quiet Club
* Raza Unida
* SAVE
* Scandinavian Club
* Scrabble Club
* Senate
* Ski-attle
* ACLU Chapter
* Spanish Club
* Technology Student Assoc
* ACAA

Additionally studies and results across the country have shown that increasing economic diversity- as through adding academic prgrams that attract higher income students from educated backgrounds- improves the outcome for all students as the support those parents can provide to the school also includes outreach to the community which brings in dollars rather than spending more for outside help like extra social workers.

Charlie Mas said...

I've let it go until now, but I just had to respond to been there done that who wrote:

"My understanding is that Garfield, in the heart of what once was the Black community..."

The Central Area also used to be the heart of the Jewish community in Seattle. Does that mean that the school should serve a higher number of Jewish students?

Beacon Hill used to be home to a lot of Italian immigrants - should the schools there still reflect that cultural background?

Let's not get too hung up on which neighborhoods are the historical homes to which cultures. The schools should serve the students who are in them today.

middle class mom said...

Amen, Charlie!!!!!

Couldn't have said it better.

That should end this discussion.

Been there... going back again, I guess. said...

I've let it go until now, but I just had to respond to been there done that who wrote:

"My understanding is that Garfield, in the heart of what once was the Black community..."...Let's not get too hung up on which neighborhoods are the historical homes to which cultures.

Amen, Charlie!!!!!

Couldn't have said it better.

That should end this discussion.


Wow, where did that come from? Liberal guilt? Pure rationalization? Curious?...
I won't even try to figure it out.


In any event, if it at all matters to either of you, my point with Garfield being in the heart of what once was the Black community was meant to show that that programs such as APP don't equitably serve students of color. Here, we should see here we see should large numbers of Black students in the program. Does anyone claim there is representation even close to their population in the community?

I know this is not the case. I can't find District numbers to prove my point at Garfield. However, the District report I did find states that a whopping 4% of APP students are African American. 22% of the Districts students are African American, and I would guess that the population in Garfield's neighborhood is larger. For the sake of Argument, I'll assume all 4% are at Garfield.


http://www.seattleschools.org/area/studentservices/documents/demographics.pdf


Does someone want to post the average grade of students of color compared to whites in the program? How many teachers of color are in the program? Please...


Post some numbers to prove me wrong, and then the discussion will indeed be done. Until then your middle class sheltered experience and arguments just prove my point. The focus on your needs is just that, your needs. For the rest of us, the minority majority, we are going backwards. The gap gets bigger and you save a bunch on tuition.

Anonymous said...

[Regarding the $5000 per child each child costs] "How can it both save the taxpayer money AND provide more money for schools?"

If we, the taxpayers, don't have to pay $5,000 for some number of kids in private schools, then that's more money SAVED because WE don't have to pay it. They're paying themselves. If thousands go to private schools, that's millions SAVED. Duh. And that's money still in the state's pot for everything, including MORE for everyone remaining in public schools. (If more kids were in public schools, no doubt, the BEA might even be lowered to even less than its current amount.)

I agree, the economies of scale have more than been reached.

Anonymous said...

"Don't minority children from low-income families benefit just as much from these educational opportunities as affluent White children. And, if not, why not?"

Clearly not. Schools like Graham Hill "offer" Montessori for tuition. (Oh yeah, they offer 2 scholarships for the poor.) The result, a separated all white Montessorri program in a predominantly minority school. Poor, disabled, and minority students are unable to attend the Montessori. Those students continue to do incredibly poorly in that school.

If low-income families aren't participating in any given special program, then obviously they don't benefit from them. SPS offers such programs for the express purpose appeasing white and affluent students while maintaining a highly segregated system, with no effort to solve any problems for anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 8:40: Graham Hill has to waive the tuition for FRL elligible students, even preschoolers. They have given out at least 5 scholarships a year to other low-income families that I know of.

In light of this, I am curious to know where exactly are you getting your two scholarshop information from?

Been there... said...

Some more interesting data. In 04-05 Garfield's APP program had the following student breakdown:

275 White 72%
11 Black 3%
14 Latino 4%
65 Asian 19%
7 Native 2%

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/documents/appenrollment.pdf

Last year's Annual Report for the whole school lists:

White 43%
Black 27%
Latino 5%
Native 1%

Sure seems like two separate schools to me.

Been there... said...

One more stat:

39% of Garfield's White students are in APP.

2.5% of Garfield's Black students are in APP.

Not entirely accurate as this uses 04-05 APP numbers and 06-07 overall school numbers, but I think the point should be clear.

I have a hard time saying that this needs to replicated throughout the District. But, I bet the Times doesn't. What do you think Middle Class Mom?

98112 said...

I think there may be some confusion between APP and AP at the High School level. Easy to do, as the acronyms are very similar, and there's some overlap in student population. All or almost all kids in APP will take AP classes, but so will lots of other kids. For example, Bellevue requires all kids to take one (yes, I know there are issues with sending some kids to "alternative school"). AP, or Advanced Placement, is a national program that allows students to take college level classes and pass a standardized test to prove that they've taken them. APP, or Accelerated Progress Program, is a gifted program in the Seattle Public Schools. In elementary and middle school, it has separate classes. In high school, students who were in those separate classes all go to Garfield, where they take classes with the rest of the student body, including AP classes.

I don't think you have to be in the APP program to benefit from having the APP program at your school. Because the APP kids are at Garfield, Garfield offers more AP classes than most Seattle high schools, and far more than nearby schools, like Franklin. Any kid with a reasonable GPA can take one or more AP classes.

My neighbor is a senior at Garfield, not in APP, a B student, and African American. She has taken at least one AP class every semester. She has benefited from the concentration of students demanding AP, and making many subjects available at that level.

middle class mom said...

Any kid can take AP classes at Garfield. Any kid. You don't have to be white. You don't have to "test in". They are open to any kid who wants the challenge. So Been There Done That, how is a program that is available to everyone, segregated? Would you like the district to force minority kids to take AP classes? Because not as many minority kids take the AP classes, should the district do away with them, and not offer them to anyone?

I just don't get it. At all.

As for Graham Hill and the Montessori program, it is again segregated by choice. Choice on the part of minority families. The school has to make the program available for any low income students. So, why then, Been there done that, do you suppose very few minority kids choose the program? Why do they not choose to enroll in readily available AP courses at Garfield?

I posted why I think minority students are not taking advantage of these programs in my previous post at 7:46, but I would love to hear how you think the district, white people, the middle class, and everyone else is holding minority kids back.

And, by the way, no liberal guilt here....

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote "If low-income families aren't participating in any given special program, then obviously they don't benefit from them. SPS offers such programs for the express purpose appeasing white and affluent students while maintaining a highly segregated system, with no effort to solve any problems for anyone else."

Clearly you do not think invigorating a school with special programs, AP classes, TAF Academy, Montessori, language immersion, etc. is benefiting minority or low income children. What do you think would benefit them? What action should the district take?

Charlie Mas said...

Been there done that makes an argument that a lot of other people have made or tried to make. It is no more persuasive this time than it has been any time before.

Let's start with the facts:

1. Black students appear in APP at a significantly lower rate than they appear in the Seattle Public Schools overall. As stated by BTDT, Black students make up about 22% of the District's total student population and about 4% of the APP student population.

That's pretty much it for the facts.

From this fact alone, BTDT concludes "that programs such as APP don't equitably serve students of color"

Roosevelt High School is 60% White and only 9% Black. Does that indicate that Roosevelt doesn't equitably serve Black students?

Ballard High School is 65% White and 8% Black. Does that indicate that Ballard doesn't equitably serve Black students?

Nathan Hale High School is 63% White and 11% Black. Does that indicate that Nathan Hale doesn't equitably serve Black students?

The tricky word here is "equitable". Equitable isn't the same as "equal". Equitable includes a lot of other factors. What is equitable? If you work four hours at a job and I work only two hours, is it equitable for you to be paid twice as much as I am paid? I would say so. Could I then use the fact that you were paid twice as much as evidence that we were not paid equitably?

If during your four hours of work you produce twelve widgets and during my two hours I produce only four widgets, would it be equitable for you to be paid three times as much as I am paid? If some element of the pay were production-based, then yes. Is it equal? No, but equal isn't the goal; equitable is.

So, is it equitable that APP is 70% White in a district that is 40% White and 4% Black in a District that is 22% Black? Maybe, maybe not. That isn't enough data to say.

For those who think that is enough data to reach a conclusion, tell me: is it equitable that the District students are 40% White in a city that is 70% White?

Here's an interesting fact: Black students nominated for APP are accepted at about the same rate as White students nominated for APP, about 9%. The real difference is which students are nominated. In 2004-2005, the last year with published data, more students from Loyal Heights (104) were nominated than from ALL of the elementary schools in the entire Southeast Cluster (91).

Who nominates? Families mostly, but anyone can. Teachers, principals, friendly neighbors, interested parties, anyone.

So are White students over-represented because they are just nominated more? Who is responsible for the low rate of nomination for Black students? What could the District do about that?

What if the District sent a letter to the home of every high-performing minority student specifically inviting the family to nominate the student for the program? What if the District translated the application forms encouraging into ten languages? What if bilingual assistants followed up on the letters with families who are not native English speakers? What if the District sent letters to the families of all K-2 students who are bilingual, qualify for free/reduced lunch, or attend Title I schools informing them of the programs and ways to nominate? What if the District trained principals and teachers around
institutionalized racism and referral practices? What if the District e-mailed teachers, administrators, and bilingual IAs
information and teacher input forms on several occasions? What if the District provided schools with nomination packets in
English and primary languages of their community? What if the District published notices about the programs in school newsletters, PTSA groups,
district newsletters, information sent out to Key Communicators, fliers out to community groups and
community newspapers? What if the District gave teacher training in referral practices? What if the District expanded information included in teacher input as
an educational piece concerning student characteristics to consider when determine whether to
nominate? What if the District printed a full page about the programs in every Enrollment Guide?

What if I told you that the District does all of these things and has been doing them for years?

If you have some other idea for increasing nominations from under-represented communities, then offer it up. If it is any good, the District will probably use it.

Bilingual students and students who qualify for free and reduced price lunches are given extra chances to qualify on the tests. The eligibility criteria have been expanded.

Believe me. If there is a Black student who should be in the program, that student's family, teacher, and principal have all been fully informed about how to apply. They only need to nominate. The District would nominate for them, but state law requires a parent or guardian's permission to administer an assessment of cognitive ability.

For a deeper understanding of why some groups are under-represented in APP, why some groups are over-represented, and why some groups are proportionately represented, you need a deeper understanding of how program eligibility is determined and how program participation decisions are made. You need to consider all of the factors that lead to a student either enrolling in APP or staying out of it.

If you want to have that conversation, I welcome it. That would be a meaningful discussion. To find the statistics, jump to a conclusion, and presume that the conversation is closed, however, is not convincing and not productive.

At Garfield, the APP students are not in their own separate classes. There are no APP-only classes there at all. Due to the high concentration of APP students at Garfield, the school can and does offer a lot of AP classes. These AP classes are open to every student at the school. A significant number of non-APP students take advantage of the expanded opportunities to take AP classes at Garfield. The Garfield administration and staff encourage all students to take at least one AP class.

And what if we conclude that APP does not equitably serve Black students? What then should we do? Should we dissolve the program? Should we change some aspect of it so that it is equitable? What would we change? How can we be fair to groups of students without being unfair to individual students? Should we worry about being unfair to individual students or only to groups of students?

Finally, there is no reason that APP at Garfield in particular should serve Black students. The District put high school APP at Garfield when the school was under-enrolled. What would be the alternative? To place high school APP at Roosevelt? Would that be somehow less offensive?

classof75 said...

Studies indicate that high-quality teachers are often attracted to schools with a majority of middle-class students, where expectations tend to be higher. One study found that students receiving A's in high-poverty schools were actually achieving on the same level as students receiving C's in middle-class schools (Puma et al.1997)....

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, where student populations were already balanced by race, principal Leonard Solo has pushed for economic integration as well. He and most of the city's other principals believe that by mixing working-class and middle-class students, the middle-class children will help set a positive tone of success that benefits all. Solo reports that an economically and racially mixed student body at his school performs well. "We know that it works," he says. "We have test scores that are comparable to suburban middle-class and upper-class districts."


http://www.naesp.org/ContentLoad.do?contentId=153

http://hoagiesgifted.org/at_risk.htm

I will agree that despite the myriad number of programs in place to help increase the success rate of challenged students- such as African American scholars & College Access Now , some families don't feel their students have a place at the table. Teachers @ Garfield- there are supports in place for students who aren't coming from an APP background to take challenging courses. I will go as far to say that even the regular and honors courses @ Garfield are superior in academics to any of the courses my kids have taken at other schools- see the first paragraph.

Attending school alongside students who have a different skin color isn't what makes the difference in performance- attending school alongside students whose families are involved & where the students have assistance to reach the bar does.

Anonymous said...

"What if the District sent a letter to the home of every high-performing minority student specifically inviting the family to nominate the student for the program?"

The district already does this. We are a minority family and we received a letter from the district telling us that our child performed higher than average on the standardized tests and encouraged us to have him tested for APP/Spectrum.

This further supports Charlie's point. The district is making an effort, why are the families not making an effort??

Anonymous said...

Been there done that, says that AP at Garfield is not serving minority students equally. I'm going to play devil's advocate here for a moment and say that you are correct. The program should be removed from Garfield.

Let's say we move it to Roosevelt as Charlie mentioned. Roosevelt already has a superior offering of AP classes, and now they get even more! Ingraham, a neighbor school, has the rigorous IB program, and Ballard has a very high number of AP classes.

What does that leave for those minority students in the Central and South end? Franklin, Rainier Beach and Cleveland have very few if any advanced learning opportunities. So what does that leave?

Now, what do you think the minority community would think about this move? Do you think they would think it fair, and equitable? Or, would they be happy to see it go, as it didn't serve many minority kids anyway. Would they be happy to see Garfield return to be a struggling, under enrolled school, in a state of horrible disrepair with broken windows, rats, and all?

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:12 said " The district is making an effort, why are the families not making an effort??"

Perhaps if the district were forced to make an effort, they could, as in "legally" required. Many families are turned off by the APP community.It is not an inviting place for all.

The data for HS APP students is not disaggregated. When there are fewer than 10 students in a "racial group" the district does not count the numbers or look at those data. There have been ZERO - ONE black student(s) in the APP program at GHS for many years in the past.

Washington Middle School is as bad as GHS, but for some reason goes unnoticed in the press and to the general public. The education of the neighborhood students at WMS is radically different than what is happening in the APP and Spectrum classes. And those neighborhood classrooms would never prepare a student for an honors 9th grade class or 10th grade AP course. WIth APP families tolerating the different treatment in their own middle school, they get a reputation for not caring, and not truly wanting an integrated program. Teachers of lesser quality have been moved from APP classrooms, to Spectrum, and then land in the general ed classrooms. With middle school only 3 years long, it is difficult for families to get involved in more than their own children's education.

By high school, the generous liberal guilt kicks in and the PTSA buys a reading program for a subset of students who come to HS reading as low as third grade level. If the concern began a bit earlier, perhaps the segregated classrooms would not be so pervasive. If the APP families valued a more diverse student population, the brainpower of the parents could devise a working plan. It has never been part of their agenda. Most say it is not their responsibility.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It's not."
-Dr. Seuss

Seward Park res. said...

Anon. @ 8:40 - just echoing other comments about Graham Hill accepting FRL students in the Montessori - of course this is true. ESL kids too - all are welcome. The program is more diverse than you might realize.

Montessori is a teaching and learning style. It has proven to be successful at GH and other schools for kids of all backgrounds. It just depends on the kid, some kids prefer a group learning environment while others excel at learning at their own pace.

Not true that kids in the Traditional program are not succeeding, GH was just honored as a 'school of distinction' for consistently raising test scores. There are great teachers in both programs.

I think the biggest difference is that almost all of the Montessori students attended preschool, more so than in the Traditional program. In fact, GH applied to Program Placement in Oct. for a preK for the Traditional program, but unfortunately this request was denied.

Until all kids have access to high quality preK there will always be kids who start behind and have a hard time catching up.

classof75 said...

and the PTSA buys a reading program for a subset of students

wow the disdain is palpable. Why do you assume volunteers are middle class or liberal?

Ive worked as a volunteer in Read right. Many of the kids are second language English learners- or have come from other states/districts. I don't think you can put the blame squarely on Seattle schools for their reading ability.

These kids are also hard workers- as are the volunteers & for anyone to mock the efforts of the community to increase access to learning, turns my stomach.


The Central District has always been a diverse area- my grandparents lived next to Leschi elementary and my mother also attended Washington and Garfield.

As I have mentioned before- my daughter was taking remedial classes at Garfield- at the same time she was taking AP classes. She didn't attend Washington middle school APP - she was enrolled in special education at another school.

As we have found, there is far from a locked door re: challenging classes= rather the door is open and adults will work as hard as the students to see them succeed.

Lowering the bar- just convinces students that they can't get over it by themselves.

middle class mom said...

"Many families are turned off by the APP community.It is not an inviting place for all."

How can you make a comment like this and then not validate it? How is the APP community not an inviting place for all? Should they welcome everyone into the program regardless of ability? Would it be more inviting if APP were housed in a predominantly white school, or isolated? You say that the APP community tolerates inequitable classrooms at WMS. What should the APP community be doing to rectify this? How are the classrooms inequitable? Are the general ed classrooms not teaching adequate general ed work? Should they be teaching APP curriculum in the general ed classrooms? Would this be equitable? So, again, I'm asking what specifically the APP community has done to make you say they are unwelcoming. And, what could they (not the district) do to change it?

Anonymous said...

"Many of the kids are second language English learners- or have come from other states/districts. I don't think you can put the blame squarely on Seattle schools for their reading ability."

Being an optimistic and hardworking volunteer is fine. Being realistic about the APP families' donations is not something to ignore. The point is that the same families do not support a middle school reading intervention and very few people seem concerned about the low reading performance and lack of effort to prepare students for honors level classes. Most parents put their own children first and do not look into the next classroom to see the disparity of service.

Being realistic about Seattle schools' excuses for why a student can't read is something that readers can address. This is a place to exchange ideas. Let's keep uncovering data about funding and expectations: the Bilingual Orientation Center is expected to get students to pass the WASL regardless of how long the students are in the country and despite cuts in teaching staff. When the BOC "fails" according to NCLB and the district then contracts-out the services to private agencies, the public should not be surprised. The same could happen to APP: an outside agency could be hired to prepare students for honors and AP classes or even middle school APP classes. If the supt wants to overhaul a much-criticized (and now reviewed) program such as APP, the public shouldn't be surprised by the means taken. Is it possible that with all the money spent on administrators in the Stanford Center that our classrooms can't be supervised equitably?

maureen said...

Charlie (or whoever can answer): Weren't ALL of the 1st graders in SPS in (I think) 2002 (the current 6th grade class) given the first round of Advanced Learning testing? Was the resulting cohort that year any more diverse than before or since? Did minority families reject offers to enroll their kids at a disproportionate rate that year?

Anonymous said...

The district is making an effort, why are the families not making an effort??"

There's plenty more the district could do to provide equity if it, (or the majority parent's), were interested in doing so. It's blantantly obvious that simply sticking a program in a building does nothing, or nothing measurable.

Here's just a few ideas: How about give APP placements based on testing which is normed for all groups? There actually are tests that do this. (EG. The "Bitch") Don't like that test? Find or create another test that norms across all groups, so we really could find the top 2% of all students. Boy, wouldn't we hear the crying then! If you don't like that idea, how about calculate the percentage of white students selected for APP. (5% - 10%) and select that same percentage from our traditionally black schools: TT Minor, Thurgood Marshall, High Point, Gatzert, AAA, etc. Require the APP program to serve the top 5-10% of those students too, as they do for white students. If people actually cared about this issue, I'm sure there would be plenty more solutions rather than this all to common "blame the victim" commentary.

Anonymous said...

What if the top 10% of minority students scored well below their white counterparts? How do you serve kids performing at two different levels in one APP classroom? Do you dumb down the APP curriculum to accommodate both populations? Or, do you keep it rigorous and have the lower achieving (although top 10% of their ethnic group) struggle. How would it work?????

I just don't understand the one for one mentality. If you serve one white student you must serve one black student. It just doesn't make sense to me. People should not be categorized by being white or black, rather by their ability and where they would best be served regardless of skin color. What you suggest, grouping people by skin color, sounds racist to me.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many of you have had a child take a class above their ability level? I have, and I'm here to tell you it's not pretty. My kid was an A= 6th grade math student, and his teacher recomended that he take honors math the next year which was 8th grade math. In other words he skipped 7th grade math altogether. It was way to much for him, and truly a disservice. Though he continued to be an A+ student in all of his other classes, he struggled to maintain a D in math. He is repeating the class next year, because we just don't think he has gotten anything out of it.

My point is that it is not fair to put kids in classes that they may not be equipped to take. It is not fair to have them struggle and get lost in the curriculum. With class sized as large as they are in Seattle, these placements could be devastating, and kids will get lost in the cracks.

Kids should be able to work at their own level. They should not be forced into an APP class just because they have to fill a black quota.

Take the top 5% of students at the AAA academy, which has an 8% math WASL pass rate, and put them in an APP class and you have a recipe for disaster.

Think about it.

Anonymous said...

Graham Hill Montessori has refused to admit students with disabilities, even though the school has 2 autism inclusion programs and these students have requested the program. No, they can't go to the Montessori, they have to attend the underperforming part of the school. Just another example of how "having a program", doesn't make it accessible or provide equity... in this case, by design.

Anonymous said...

What if the top 10% of minority students scored well below their white counterparts?

Then find the test where they shine (or tests that simply norm equitably), and they exist. Then commit to serving them. Maybe you really just think minorities are really "stupider" and that they perform worse on all these tests because of stupidity? And so, it doesn't matter if they are absent from any given program. Seems like most of the posters here do think that.

Besides, you could take the top X% of the traditionally black schools (but not make any selection based on race).

Charlie Mas said...

Some of the people posting here seem to think that APP is some sort of reward. It isn't. It is an accelerated curriculum to meet the special needs of students with those needs. It makes no more sense to put a student in APP to satisfy a racial quota than it makes sense to put a student in Special Education to satisfy a racial quota.

As for the tests used to determine student eligibility, they are not biased. Read the APP Review. The team that did the review, people who are clearly not reluctant to point out racism when they see it, congratulated the District on their choice of tests.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe you really just think minorities are really "stupider" and that they perform worse on all these tests because of stupidity?"

You are mistaken. I do not think that minority children are stupid. My kids are bi-racial, so believe me that is not my view at all. I believe it is your view. You are the one who think minority kids need a special test to help them shine, you are the one who thinks that minority kids should fill a quota in the APP program. It is you who think they can not compete with the white students without all of this added support. Not I. Look at your own fears, and find out why you think everyone is out to sabotage minority kids education.

I have taught my kids that they can be anything that they want to be if they work hard to achieve it. My kids work hard. My kids push themselves. My kids take advanced classes. My kids are black.

sp res said...

Anon. 7:24, you say Graham Hill Montessori has refused special ed students - there is no 'Graham Hill Montessori' board or any other such entity per se, just Graham Hill Elementary School. I think this is probably something for interested parties to discuss with the Principal as decisions regarding placement of autism inclusion students are not made by individual teachers.

By the way, there is one well regarded autism inclusion program which was expanded this year. And, the Traditional program at GH would not be considered to be "underperforming" by most measures.

Annie said...

As SP Res wrote, Graham Hill does have many Special Education programs. I have a friend whose child gets resource room services at GH who is in the Montesssori program, so I am calling BS on the Anon poster who first (incorrectly) claimed that low income families cannot access the GH Montessori program and then (incorrectly) claimed that they don't allow special education students. What would be great is if the autism inclusion students were given the option of being included in either the traditional or Montessori program, but I suspect that if these students are in the traditional classes, it is more reflective of that it is earier to access those classes on a part time basis than the Montessori classes.

Anonymous said...

You can't use the AP argument for Garfield anymore because the AP classes are open to anyone who wants to take them. So, now you are moving on to Graham Hill's Montessori program. You're false accusations for their program have been shot down too. What will you come up with next??

Anonymous said...

"The same could happen to APP: an outside agency could be hired to prepare students for honors and AP classes or even middle school APP classes."

I am astonished that no one has yet mentioned Rainier Scholars on this thread. Aren't they supposed to be preparing minority students for gifted, honors, and AP classes?

By the way, the Advanced Learning Office has tried selecting the top 1, 2, or 5 percent of each ethnic group separately, back in the 1980s. See the Advanced Learning Timeline link at http://www.seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/proceduremanual.htm. The WAC section requiring comparison with national rather than local norms went into effect in 1984. I think some of the subsequent changes were in response to that.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

"the AP classes are open to anyone who wants to take them. "

Interesting how people label as truth what they already believe. Anonymous writers have reported on AP classes and the AUTISM services at GH. We have read different perspectives about each. Are children with autism excluded from GH Montessori classrooms?

AP classes at GHS are not open to any student. Entry requires at least a B grade in the sequence prior. Who do you think has successfully taken enough math to get to AP Calculus? Look in the classrooms. Notice the number of whites and Asians. They had a solid math experience for many years prior. If the Seattle schools did not provide enough math foundation, the families paid for tutoring, Kumon, Sylvan, etc. prior to high school and perhaps prior to middle school. We may find the same visible differences at Roosevelt.

On the other hand, look at Maple Elementary in Seattle. We can do good work in our public schools. We need to hold all administrators responsible for all the students in the school. We need to look after the children who are supposed to receive special education services and we need our principals to look more frequently in the classrooms where the progress is slower. Those children deserve better services.

Anonymous said...

"Who do you think has successfully taken enough math to get to AP Calculus? "

And whose fault is that? White folks, the district? Everybody except the students and families, right?

The classes are offered, they are open to anyone. Anyone who is motivated can get a B. Why do you think a minority child can not get a B. How insulting.

Anonymous said...

"I am astonished that no one has yet mentioned Rainier Scholars on this thread. Aren't they supposed to be preparing minority students for gifted, honors, and AP classes?"

The Seattle Public Schools should and could be doing the very same excellent work of the Rainier Scholars. We could do it at every middle school in the city. We could even start in elementary school!

The fact that there are hundreds of students ready to enroll in an intensive academic program such as the Rainier Scholars program and next to no "ethnic minority" interest in enrolling in the APP program shows the fault lies in the current APP program. I would like to see our public schools address this rather than go to outside agencies, but yes, thank goodness for the Rainier Scholars.

Anonymous said...

I truly hope my (minority) children never come into contact with a person like the anonymous poster at 9:30. To insinuate that my child, because he is a minority, can't do as well as his white, middle class counterparts is just downright racist. I would hate them to hear you speak of how disadvantaged they are, because they are in no way disadvantaged. My kids went to excellent public schools, remember that Seattle has the choice program. If you don't like what your neighborhood school is doing, then move to a school that is a better fit for you. This argument never fails to amaze me.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone who is motivated can get a B."

Motivation alone will not prepare a student for the next step in the educational process. Many students want to learn a concept or be great writers or read the big thick Harry Potter book. They do not have the prerequisite skills to do what they truly want to do.

In time, with practice and great instruction, all learners can master calculus. The teacher and administration must make sure that this happens - or at least try - if that's what the student wants to learn or if the adults in that student's life think that calculus is important. Students need to be motivated by their teachers and their principals. They should not have to walk past white and Asian classrooms day after day and feel that they are unprepared and that they are being blamed for being unprepared.

Anonymous said...

"They should not have to walk past white and Asian classrooms day after day and feel that they are unprepared "

Look at the real reasons many minorities are not in these classrooms.

Many minorities don't want to go to what they perceive to be a "white" program. Whose fault is that? If more minorities went, it wouldn't be a "white" program.

Many minority students do not have the family support that is so important to a child's success. You can not place the entire or even the majority of the blame on the district, principal and admin. They are taking care of an entire district. Parents should be responsible for their kids. Parents should be their kids advocates and watch dogs if necessary. They should make sure that their child is receiving an adequate education, and take action if they are not. Dont you think the parents have some responsibility here??

You can place blame all you want. Point as many fingers as you want. This district goes out of it's way to recruit minority children into APP (see Charlie's post above).

And, to you point regarding minority children not being able to get a B. Check this out.....THIS DISTRICT OFFERS CHOICE. And, though it is not perfect, it does work. If you think your child is not being served well, or is prepared for higher level classes, then move him to a higher performing school. Point your finger at yourself, for not taking action. Take some responsibility, and stop giving out the crutches. Save them for the truly crippled.

Further, many children, no matter how hard they try, how affluent they are, how much family support they get, and no matter how good the school is that they go to, will get into APP. They are not working at that level. I tested my A+ honors student two times. He has not passed the test. If I forced the district to let him in it would be a disservice to him. He would not do well in those classes. Not because the district did not prepare him. Because he just doesn't work at that level. He deserves to be in a classroom that challenges him, but is not way above his capabilities. He is very challenged in his honors classes, and works very hard. Not every student is in the special ed program. Not every kid is in the autistic inclusion program. Don't you agree that every child deserves to be in the program that best suits them? The bar should not be that every child must be in APP.

And by the way we know many many white families whose kids didn't test in either.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I typo'd

Further, many children, no matter how hard they try, how affluent they are, how much family support they get, and no matter how good the school is that they go to, will ***not*** get into APP.

Anonymous said...

"You can not place the entire or even the majority of the blame on the district, principal and admin. They are taking care of an entire district. "

The people who earn a paycheck and work 178 days each year teaching and supervising our children are responsible for the students' learning. If one school in Seattle can do it, why can't they all? Why isn't Maple Elementary a training site for SPS teachers? Why don't we rotate teachers through those classrooms? Why don't the principals shadow the principal of that school? We know individual teachers are doing outstanding work in various schools. We know some families need to rely on the schools providing a much better service than they currently do.

If a family can get the teacher or principal to change - good for them. Maybe that would be a good thread on this blog: "What I said to my child's teacher or principal to influence and improve my child's education"

Anonymous said...

I agree, Maple should be a training ground. So should every other successful program in the district. And, hopefully you agree that regardless of whether the district makes Maple a training ground or not, a parent has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that their child receives an adequate education. And to take action if they are not. Surely, you agree on that...

classof75 said...

The bar should not be that every child must be in APP.

I agree- My older daughter participated in a study at the university of washington and so had intelligence tests administered over a period of eight years as part of that. Her IQ was estimated to be in the 160 range- or in the top 0.03% of population- but she did not place into any of the "gifted" programs in Seattle public schools using their criteria.
We were told we could appeal and submit the information from teh UW, but I felt that if the SPS program best served students who were identified by using their tests- it probably wasn't appropriate for our daughter.

APP is quite different to my understanding from AP.
AP or IB are classes that are regulated by an outside organization and are fairly standardized.
I don't know alot about IB, but for instance AP classes depend quite a bit on the subject.( and the teacher)
My D is planning on being a science major in college- but she wanted certain teachers- who didn't teach AP. The marine biology class at Garfield for example- is quite rigorous & not an AP class.

I also have assisted with the environmental science class- which is the class that those who "don't like" science take & I have been very impressed not just with the level of learning, but with the way the instructor engaged the students and how hard they worked.

I realize that relatively few kids are at the level where they are taking more than one AP course- & I deplore that in order to have a "rigorous" schedule- it is assumed you are taking as many APs as possible.

After all, AP classes are considered to be college level- if they are ready for college- why not just go to college?

I think that the highschools are bearing the brunt of inadaquate preparation in middle school.
The middle schools are very uneven.

Id like to see more K-8 schools- with more classrooms that encompass more than one grade & the ability to stay with one teacher for several years, a lot of time is lost in transition of the new year that could be used to move forward
( I am also for year round schools-)

Anonymous said...

"a parent has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that their child receives an adequate education. And to take action if they are not. Surely, you agree on that..."

Collectively, perhaps we parents have more power than each of us going in one-by-one. What your child needs is likely to be a need of at least one other in the room. The parents are no longer part of the governing team in any uniform way in this district. Why not?

What do you say to change your principal or teacher's approach to your child?

Been there.. going back said...

Does any one remember what this thread was about?

I thought it was about District focus and the new School Board. Many people, White and of Color believe that this election was basically funded by special interests that weren't necessarily concerned with the majority of our students (which,in my opinion, includes the middle class). It seems that the Times, and some on this thread, are now pleased that we are no longer focused on the Academic Achievement Gap and Institutional Racism, and finally the middle class has a chance. (I must have missed the results of the hyper focus)

I see that many people believe that the kind of programs being mentioned have their place, and should be widely available. I think I hear people arguing that they are, but perhaps want more. OK, I can live with that, even though I know they will only serve a small portion of our students. My question is: what is the appropriate balance between enrichment programs targeting some of the more privileged in our society and effective education for the vast majority of our students? When it comes down to opportunity costs, what and who are willing to give up on? Where do we put pour money and resources?

I don't think I hear anyone saying that "these programs" are the solution for this majority of students who are not well served. Institutional Racism is still with us, and along with a school system designed to crank out factory workers, is the root cause of our school's inability to serve ALL students. As concerned citizens, perhaps even progressive citizens, it is our collective responsibility to advocate for adequately serving ALL students. We can't do that if the privileged few with the power to influence change are blaming "parents" of those being failed by system, and only focused on making sure that their children get educated.

The true test will come in a couple of months, when we budget our money.

Anonymous said...

If I were in a school where I was not comfortable with their philosophies, and after a reasonable amount of conferences with the principal and/or admin and I was not satisfied with the outcome of those meetings, I would simply change schools. I can say this with confidence, because I did it. If enough parents did this, instead of ignoring the problems, and blaming the district, school or principal, the "bad" schools would be forced to perform or close.

You are not going to change my mind. I think parents have the ultimate responsibility in the outcome of their child's education. Point your finger, and blame the institution all you want. In the end, your child will loose out if you don't take responsibility.

classof75 said...

I didn't pay much attention to the Times article because I feel they are so off base with previous articles it isn't likely to change just because we have a new school board.

Id also like to hear their idea of what "middle class " is.

Our own family would like to be considered middle class, but I know we arent'- but that is why I was interested in having my kids attend a school with "middle class" kids- I liked that stability that the community gave.

update.... said...

"The people who earn a paycheck and work 178 days each year teaching and supervising our children are responsible for the students' learning."

Actually, the people who earn a paycheck teaching our children work many more than 178 days, considering that the district is obligated to provide 180 days of instruction.

Anonymous said...

Been there done that, please explain to me how these low income and minority children are stuck in the system and doomed to be factory workers. Please break it down for me, I am just not getting it. What I read on this thread is that advanced learning as in AP and IB classes are open to all, they are not exclusive, and there is no board to choose who gets in and who doesn't. What I read on this thread is that there is school choice in Seattle, so that no child has to remain in a sub par program, they can move anytime. What I read in this thread was Charlie's list of the enormous amount of outreach that the district does to recruit minority, low income children into APP.

Back to my original question, what more could the district do. Be specific. You can't whine about what the district is not doing, if you don't provide the answers to what they can do.

And, while you're at it please explain how parents have no responsibility in the education of their children?

Check CEASE out !!! said...

Oh the conspiracies.....skewed elections, The Times, middle class doing away with closing the achievement gap, the district perpetuating institutionalized racism, school systems designed to crank out factory workers, a district that doesn't serve ALL children, and soon the budget.

It hysterical.....

If you are not a member of CEASE, I am recommending that you talk with them soon. You can ban with the other 9 people in Seattle that share your insane, conspiracy theory beliefs, and stop irritating the sane folks.

Anonymous said...

"I am astonished that no one has yet mentioned Rainier Scholars on this thread. Aren't they supposed to be preparing minority students for gifted, honors, and AP classes?""

Did you know that the Rainier Scholars only work with students scoring in the top percent of all minority students??

Not to know their program, I think it's great, but how are they helping the struggling kids who can't get a B???

Anonymous said...

"stop irritating the sane folks"

You have reacted to many posters, thinking all entries have been written by one person and they were not.

Instead of being so irritated, perhaps what might enlighten you is a trip to one of the schools mentioned in these posts. Wander around WMS, GHS or GH. After you visit, please explain the segregation.

Have an enlightening day.

classof75 said...

I think we need more than 180 days of instruction particulary since 1/2 days are counted in that & since many students in high school have 6 classes or fewer.
( my daughter who didn't attend SPS had 7 classes- as do some kids in other districts/states)

For instance even though the district approved high schools to offer six courses to all students, there isn't anything that my daughter could/wanted to take after her required courses were registered for.

Being a TA may be helpful to the teacher- but depending on the student and classroom- isn't that meaningful IMO.

I would also agree that schools need to do more to help struggling students.
Tutoring is often available- but we need more & we need to have tutors trained in different approaches.

When you have a student who doesn't miss class, who does their assigned work and even stays after once or twice a week for additional help, but is failing the class- we need to have other supports in place rather than more of the same.
( including much more support for new teachers)

Charlie Mas said...

BTDT asks:

" My question is: what is the appropriate balance between enrichment programs targeting some of the more privileged in our society and effective education for the vast majority of our students? When it comes down to opportunity costs, what and who are willing to give up on? Where do we put pour money and resources?"

Wow! Talk about your loaded language!

How about we ask the question this way:

What is the appropriate balance among programs serving high performing students, programs serving students working at grade level, and programs for students working below grade level?

Or is the question not about student achievement but family resources?

Without the loaded language, should the question be re-stated as:

What is the appropriate balance when allocating District resources among the programs serving students from affluent homes, programs serving students from middle class homes, and programs for students from low-income homes?



Just so the facts are clear and on the table, the District's general fund spending for all of Advanced Learning is about $100,000 a year. That's 0.002% of the District's annual budget. The rest of the money for those programs comes either from self-help or a state grant which the district can only get if they have a program. The District doesn't provide any more funding for an APP classroom than a general education classroom. The District doesn't provide any more funding for a Spectrum classroom than a general education classroom. In fact, since these classes are less likely to have students with factors (FRE, bilingual, IEP), the funding for these classrooms is lower than the funding for general education classrooms. And since these classes are typically at the contract maximum, the per student spending is less than in a general education classroom.

At the same time, the District spends hundreds of millions of LAP and Title I money on students living in poverty.

On the whole, I would say that the balance is appropriate and not in need of any radical adjustment. There certainly doesn't need to be any reduction in the spending on services for high performing students regardless of their economic background.

Also, the question was asked, why can't every school do what Maple does. It is, you will pardon the expression, a stupid question. One might also ask why every writer can't write as well as the best writers or why every auto mechanic can't work as well as the best auto mechanics. They are human beings engaged in a human endeavor, not robots on an assembly line. There will be differences in quality.

Charlie Mas said...

Hey, anonymous, if you don't want to be confused with the other anonymous commenters, then use a nickname or stop complaining.

david mc said...

"--"stop irritating the sane folks"

You have reacted to many posters, thinking all entries have been written by one person and they were not.

Instead of being so irritated, perhaps what might enlighten you is a trip to one of the schools mentioned in these posts. Wander around WMS, GHS or GH. After you visit, please explain the segregation.

Have an enlightening day.--"

Why do all the anonymous posters here refuse to pick a nick name. It is so easy! How are we supposed to tell you apart? All your typing looks the same from where I sit, so I assume you are all the same person. Sometimes it really distracts from your point when you start contradicting yourself!! Oh wait, that is a different anonymous? I'd never know.

Also, I will try to explain the segregation in middle and high school, because I do remember being a student in middle and high school. Now, I don't have any fancy facts or studies to back up my point, here, it is JUST MY OPINION. (making it clear to the folks who are getting ready to anonymously flog me with their typing).
Here's my revelation: Kids in adolescence prefer to hang around the kids who are most like them. However they identify themselves the strongest, that is the group they are going to want to hang around. Whether this is by skin color, cultural background, disability, IQ, or whether they are athletic or in the band, the kids themselves choose who they want to hang around. Simple, but that is how I remember it.

Also, I would caution against anyone going and "wandering around" these schools, I think they don't really allow that. And, I truly don't think that is enough research to do to "explain segregation" on a public blog forum, really.

And thank you, I think I will have an enlightening day.

middle class mom said...

Been There Done That said "It seems that the Times, and some on this thread, are now pleased that we are no longer focused on the Academic Achievement Gap "

I don't understand the all or nothing mentality?? Your either with me or against me? Middle class children are entitled to resources as much as any other children. Why would you think giving them adequate resources means that the middle class are no longer focused on the achievement gap? That is a fowl mentality and very flawed. Many people think that ALL children deserve an adequate education. That would include the the kids working at the top, the bottom and in between. That would be kids that are black and white. That would be kids that are poor, middle class and affluent. Since when did the constitution say that we only owe low income minority kids a public education? This mentality hurts everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

sorry i am still stuck on
"Schools like Graham Hill "offer" Montessori for tuition"

Tuition based programs in public schools. That's a real good one...hope Dr G-J gets ahold of that and turns it into oh, a lottery...

tuition for a public school program...that's a good one!

1964 said...

Sadly, our district just does not fund any "extras", however when a school offers a tuition based program, they have to offer the service to all families regardless of ability to pay. It is no different than the many many schools who offer full day kindergarten, even though the district only funds half day, and charge the families tuition to attend. While I don't like the idea of tuition based public school programs, I do understand. Without it, we would not have full day kindergarten, Montessori or many other special and "extra" programs. At least they are offered to everyone regardless of ability to pay.

Anonymous said...

"Also, the question was asked, why can't every school do what Maple does. It is, you will pardon the expression, a stupid question."

Tsk, tsk not reading carefully. Try reading those comments again and please don't use the word stupid.

Our principals, teachers and students are all much more capable than you believe, Charlie. This is true for every school and every child. We can expect better performance all around.

sp res said...

Anon. 4:52. Clarification: the Montessori program at GH is tuition based preK through K only. Free 1st-5th grade. Tuition goes toward teacher salary. And yes, again, enrollment is not based on ability to pay.

As 1964 said, the state only funds half day K and obviously not preK in most cases so GH is not the only school faced with charging tuition for full day K.

The new Sup. is familiar with the program and is supportive of Montessori. I hope programs like this one will be made available to more kids.

middle class mom said...

Wow, Charlie, thanks for all of the data on the funding for the APP program. I had no idea that the districts investment in the program is a mere $100,000.

I guess even Been There Done That doesn't have a come back for that one. Surely, even she couldn't expect the district to reduce the funding in the new budget that the board is currently conspiring on.

Been there....Gone said...

Wow! What an extremely enlightening thread.

I now know that my experience with Seattle Schools, first as a student, then as an educator for more than 20 years has led me wrong. But I also now know why; I clearly was a lazy student who did not caret to take advantage of all the opportunities that were openly available to me. That must be the fault of my mother who obviously did not take her responsibility to ensure that I was admitted to the right preschools, then participated in the right special programs or hold my teachers and administrators accountable. I need to tell my students to pick them selves up by their “wanna be” middle class bootstraps and transfer to the schools that have these wonderful programs that are just waiting with open arms to serve them (even if they are closed and/or have wait lists. Of course, they could just hang around until our new Board, Superintendent and newly enegized Middle Class to bring them to their schools. Who says you have to graduate in 4 years, anyway? Sorry for the loaded language Dr Charlie (or is it Mr Devils Advocate Hyde in this part of the thread?) Another testament to my poor performance as a student, I’m sure.

I will work harder to try and make sure that I read and understand other’s positions, as I think many have not, I am probably as guilty as any here. I apologize to any that I misinterpreted or missed. Middle Class Mom, you asked a couple of times what would I suggest. That’s a fair question. I suspect we have as much in common as we do differences (sorry, I guess some middle class did rub off on me at school). I obviously don’t have all the answers, or I most likely wouldn’t be here, but here are a few ideas:

First, we can’t understate the effects of Institutional Racism. Students of Color are no less intelligent than any other. That there are statistics every where that point to obvious disproportionalities is not debatable, and the argument thatit is our fault doesn't get much traction out side of this circle. The huge number of families not adequately served is clear by just examining any set of statistics. We can all point to our own bogey men, but what we have here is a broken system that doesn’t work for ALL. Perhaps, we have to understand and accept the unintentionality of it, but it’s there. You may as well try to prove the sun isn’t there before you deny it. (don’t take me seriously, Charlie. I’m sure you could make a good case for the sun not really being there, and some “anonymous” poster would accuse me of believing in a middle class White conspiracy to deny the sun to students of Color)


We need to recruit, train and retain qualified educators of color. There is a not so subtle message that is sent to students that schools are for Whites when every one you see is white. I am not saying that good White teachers can’t teach students of Color, But I am saying that our teaching core has to reflect our students and community to have any chance of really serving ALL.

A significant increase in effort has to made to ensure that our elementary schools have enough resources to not let our kids get behind. Middle school and High Schools have little chance of success when students come with significant gaps. Al students must be literate and posses basic study skills regardless of family ability to help guide.

Class size has to be addressed. Education is a special field, and it takes special people to do it right. We can’t afford to burn them out with over crowded classrooms. 9th grade classes with 30-40 % of the students failing and 30 or more students is criminal, and I KNOW this exists.

We need to recognize that curriculum needs to be as diverse in it’s content and delivery as the world we live in. ALL students do not learn in the same way. Differentiation of curriculum delivery has to be the norm, and we need to be intentional in pairing teaching styles with learning styles.

Parents and community must be involved in ALL students education. This is going to take more special effort. All of the things Charlie listed that District is doing aren’t working. Some may be willing to place blame on individual parents and let it go at that, I cannot. I know from personal experience that many, probably most, parents don’t have this in their experience. We have to figure this out together.

Support support support! We have to give our struggling students support. Tutors and mentors need to be highly trained, paid and respected. I have ultimate respect for people that play this role, but the ones working with our most at risk kids are the least trained and compensated.

Education funding has to be fixed. Washington is way behind, and the extra needs of Seattle are significant needs, as Charlie says, “the District spends hundreds of millions of LAP and Title I money on students living in poverty”( a little reminiscent of Regonomics here, in my opinion, but I understand the point) ( By the way Charlie, I think you need to check your figures. I know for a fact that the District has spent more than $100,000 on the development of IB and Dual language immersion this year. Makes me somewhat suspect of your figures, but I am a conspiracy theorist, I have learned)

Finally, educators and administrators must be held accountable. Some one said it on this thread; we are the ones responsible for the education of ALL our students. We need the tools and resources, and we need to be able to have time for our families and lives, but we must do our jobs well or move on.

I have more ideas, and you did ask. Twice. But I think I’ll spare some of the "sane" folks.

Anyway it has been enlightening, and I thank you all for that.

Anonymous said...

"funding for the APP program. ....is a mere $100,000."

How does 100k pay for several administrators?

annonymous said...

"funding for the APP program. ....is a mere $100,000."

How does 100k pay for several administrators?"

He didn't say APP, he said all advanced Learning programs

Charlie Mas said...

Some quick points:

About half of the students who are selected by Rainier Scholars and who go through that program end up at private schools. That's probably good for the students, but it makes the District's statistics look worse. That program actually removes high performing minority students from the public school system and worsens the under-representation of some groups in our advanced learning programs.

There are some within the District and outside it who have a soviet-era vision of equity. These folks would say: "not one dime to support student work beyond standards until every student is working at standard". That is their idea of an appropriate balance. Well, that vision of equity is not broadly shared, and that is not the sense of balance that seems appropriate to most folks. You're certainly free to advocate for that perspective, but you'll need to be a whole lot more convincing than you have been to date. A lot of us think that equity calls for every student to be taught at the frontier of their knowledge and skills. A lot of us think that the public schools should serve every student - not just the least prepared. A lot of people think that school should be a resource for the student, not the student a resource for the school.

If we are going to talk about the allocation of resources, then we should know what they are. Learn the facts. The resources thrown at students living in poverty are huge. Schools with high concentrations of FRE students have their budgets supplemented by LAP, Title I, and other compensatory education funding to an extent greater than any affluent PTA could ever match. Read the school budgets; they are online. The spending on Advanced Learning, on the other hand, is paltry. The district budget is online; check the numbers for yourself.

A more productive line of discussion - and I would like to have a more productive line of discussion - would be: what can or should we do differently?

Some have suggested changing the tests used to determine eligibility to APP and Spectrum. But the tests aren't biased. And yes, the outcomes show that they aren't because the rates at which students who take the test are found eligible are about the same for all classes of students. Pretty much across the board about 7-10% of the students from all groups are found eligible. The disproportionate outcome is a result of nominations - not testing. You can't blame test bias for students who didn't take it.

Some have suggested a quota system. This would change the entire purpose of the program into one that the District is not interested in providing. The District wants to provide an academic program for students with a special academic need; not a social engineering program to achieve some race-based goal. APP and Spectrum are not prizes or rewards any more than special education is a reward. They are the appropriate academic opportunity for those students who need something different than the general education program. A race-based quota system would also cost the District about $300,000 a year because it would violate the state law that dictates the rules for Highly Capable Student programs.

There is also a pretty clear racism in the suggestion that the qualification has to be different for Black students than for White or Asian students. It leads to the statement "You're really smart... for a Black kid." That's not a statement that the District - or anyone else - wants to make.

I'll say it again. The disparity is not in the rate at which the students who test are found eligible. The disparity is in the rate at which students are nominated.

The District already does a great deal of outreach to encourage the nomination of Black and Latino students, bilingual students, and students from low-income households. But, as has been noted here, all of these efforts have not been as successful as some would like.

I think we need some research - actual research - into why principals, teachers, and families are reluctant to nominate students from under-represented groups. We cannot begin to address the problem without knowing more about the root causes. I could make conjectures about why, we all could make conjectures about why, but none of it is meaningful without data.

And if you have an idea - a real, practical idea - for increasing nominations from under-represented groups, then offer it up. If it is a good idea, the District will probably adopt it. Of course there may be a reason - one you hadn't thought of - for why it might not be a good idea. I would suggest that you do a little research before you offer your idea, just to be sure it isn't already done or was tried, or won't work for some other reason.

The district already tried requiring teachers to nominate 10% of their class. They just didn't do it - particularly in low-income neighborhoods - and their principals didn't enforce the rule.

For example, you might think that children with a lot of native cognitive ability are evenly distributed across groups, but that exposure to learning opportunities are not. So, you might suggest that the District use only cognitive ability test for the qualifications at the lower grades and not include academic achievement tests until grade 3. You will be pleased to learn that the District does this. The qualifications for Spectrum Young Scholars, the Spectrum program for grades 1 and 2, does not have an academic achievement requirement. This is the District's talent development program.

Okay, so, now, to the actual suggestions that have been made:

1. Recruit, train and retain qualified educators of color. I think the District is working as hard at this as they can. There are, of course, fair hiring practice laws that preclude them from taking certain steps. The HR department makes annual reports to the Board about their efforts and I believe those efforts are sincere. It may be that those teachers of color simply are not out there in any greater numbers. You will note that just about all of the District's leadership are people of color.

If there is a message - subtle or otherwise - that schools are for Whites, then that message will have to be countered within the communities that feel excluded. That is not within the District's ability to fix.

Our kids are not falling behind due to a lack of resources. I'm not sure how this diagnoses was made. Kids fall behind because they are allowed to fall behind by their teachers, principals, and families. The District can and should devise and implement effective interventions for students who are not working at grade level. Many of us, including myself, have strongly advocated for such interventions in the past and will continue to do so. It isn't, however, due to a lack of resources but a lack of will.

The District could - and should - do more targeted class size reduction. Schools with high concentrations of students from low-income households should have smaller class sizes. Grades K-3 should have smaller class sizes. If there were an intervention program for students working below grade level, that program should have smaller class sizes. It makes me wonder: what are schools spending that LAP and Title I money on if not to reduce class size? What are the class sizes at different grades at different schools? How successful have we already been at reducing class sizes and what more do we need to do?

There can be no doubt that we need more options in the curriculum - and it is a little ironic that BTDT suggests this because APP and Spectrum represent curriculum diversity. Alternative schools are full with waitlists; the District needs to take the hint and create more. Most alternative schools were created by the communities that demanded them - not delivered by the District. If you want another alternative school, then you're going to have to advocate for it. If you want a certain program within a school, then you're going to have to advocate for it. The District does not create another TOPS no matter how long the TOPS waitlist becomes. The District HAS created another language immersion elementary school and another IB program, but people at those schools really worked for them.

For all of the talk about expanding and duplicating succesful programs, have you ever seen the District do it? In the end, it is up to the individual schools to develop and implement alternative curricula.

The District is making a HUGE effort to increase family and community involvement - on their terms. The Flight School effort is all about getting families involved. I really suggest that you contact Bernardo Ruiz and find out all that he and the District are doing to increase family and community involvement.

Likewise, the District is doing what they can to encourage experienced and effective teachers to work in high needs schools, but there are limits. Teachers have a right to direct their careers just like anyone else. Until the District discovers the right combination of incentives (pay, continuing education, class size, support), teachers will continue to migrate to more affluent schools and the neediest students will continue to have the least experienced teachers and the greatest turnover in staff.

Finally, educators and administrators must be held accountable. But who is going to do this? And how? The Board can't even hold the Superintendent accountable. How can we introduce accountability into public education? How do you measure a teacher's effectiveness? WASL scores? Value-added? How do you measure a principal's effectiveness? What makes you think that these people aren't already working as hard as they can, doing the best job they know how to do?

In the end, the primary determinant of a student's academic achievement is the active involvement in the child's education by an adult in the child's home. Nothing the schools do - or don't do - will change that. I know that is a hard truth for a lot of people. But if we want to improve student achievement, the changes we need to make are in their homes, not in their schools. That's where the value of education is set. That's where respect for teachers is set. That's where age 0-5 education is done. Half of the academic achievment gap is present on the first day of kindergarten. It shrinks during the school year and expands during the summer break.

If we are ever going to close the gap, we will have to get families to close it, not schools.

Anonymous said...

Let's hear it for more educators like "been there"!

Let's educate the middle (?) class-afraid-to-admit-there's-a-segregation-problem experts in Seattle.

Check out what Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public School system has accomplished. Its history (posted on the web) begins in 1790; in 1969 the landmark Swan case set the precedent for school desegregation in the US. Must we wait 30 more years to figure it out here?

"2000-2001 School Year - CMS received national attention.The Council of the Great City Schools recognized the district as one of four urban school systems making significant gains in reading and math scores and closing the achievement gap. In the state's ABCs program, the district had no low performing schools. Test scores continued to rise with 82% of all fifth grade students on grade level in reading. From 1995 to 2001, the number of African-American students on grade level in reading more than doubled - increasing from 35% to 70%. In addition, 46% of 2001 graduates completed at least one AP or IB course - up from 31% in 1996."

from the The Stupski Foundation site:
"Focus on instruction
Hall, Atlanta's superintendent, says "the most critical ingredient in improving student achievement is upgrading instructional strategies. We are getting much better results in student achievement because of enhancements in the quality of teaching."

Use data.
He [Hall] stresses superintendents need to make data accessible and meaningful to principals, teachers and board members. "Data must be compelling, accurate and understandable, or people won't use it. Data help to define the instructional system. Its use must become ingrained in the district culture at all levels of the organization. Superintendents are using data--and empowering staff and board members with an understanding of data and how to use it them--to set goals, measure results, develop accountability and support planning, evaluation and resource allocation. "Our biggest change has been our accountability model," Garcia says. "Our principals are now truly accountable and know how to use data to look at their work. Five years ago, they were managers; they put reams of data in a drawer. Now they analyze it and they know how to use it to improve achievement."

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, clearly echo the strategies we [Stupski Foundation] heard in our conversations.

McREL's analysis paints a picture of successful superintendents as those who set nonnegotiable goals for achievement and instruction; involve others, especially principals, in setting those goals; align school board support to performance and instructional objectives; continually monitor progress and make corrections when needed; and focus resources, particularly for training, on district-wide goals."

Invite the superintendent to this blog. Let her know there a savvy public out here.

Anonymous said...

"There is also a pretty clear racism in the suggestion that the qualification has to be different for Black students than for White or Asian students. It leads to the statement "You're really smart... for a Black kid." That's not a statement that the District - or anyone else - wants to make."

The district *did* have different cutoffs for different races at one point. Again, see the Advanced Learning Timeline. (I think there is at least one typo in the timeline, by the way -- it's not possible for percentile scores to be above 100.) I think it was a poor idea and am glad they've abandoned it, but the reality is that it's been tried.

Helen Schinske

maureen said...

"In the end, the primary determinant of a student's academic achievement is the active involvement in the child's education by an adult in the child's home."

I agree. Does anyone know what attempts have been made to tailor Seattle Community College Co-Op Preschool (with parent ed component) to at-risk populations? (I can't see anything on the SCCC web site.)

When I have talked about this in the past, people have sneered that Co-op is for rich stay at home moms, but I don't see why this has to be the case.

Anonymous said...

This opinion, "In the end, the primary determinant of a student's academic achievement is the active involvement in the child's education by an adult in the child's home" is dangerous. Sure, the most knowledgeable parent wisely partners with the professional educator to provide the child with an education. The comment above is an opinion of a parent, not a fact coming from decades of research that looks at successful students who may have had very loving parents, but who did not have the know-how to provide instruction. It is the school that can and will make the difference. By blaming your fellow parents for troubled or slow or challenged learners, you are blaming the victim.

maureen said...

I did not mean to imply that successful kids have to have parents who "know how to provide instruction." I think there is quite a bit of evidence (have you read Jon Ogbu's work?) that it makes a huge difference to have an adult (not necessarily a parent) who communicates the fact that education is important.

I can never forget the story of the poor kid (Ben Carson) whose mother made him write two book reports a week and pretended to review them; he didn't know that she was illiterate. He became a brain surgeon at Johns Hopkins.

I think many parents (not just poor ones) don't communicate to their kids the value of education--this translates into teachers being treated with disrespect and kids not learning to their full potential.

classof75 said...

TO anon at 9:26
What is the graduation rate for African American students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools

The numbers I found indicate less than 50%

middle class mom said...

Charlie, I agree 100% with everything you said. You laid it out clearly, and honestly. It is very hard for people to swallow the fact that a meaningful adult must be actively involved in a child's education for them to be successful. I love Maureen's story about Ben Carson! It is so touching, and shows the power of parental involvement and accountability.

Thank you for taking the time to post, it is very helpful.

Be prepared for a bashing from all of the people who do not and will not take any responsibility for their child's education, the people who find it easier to blame the schools, blame racism, and expect the education of their child to be the sole responsibility of the district. They refuse to even consider how important their influence is. It is sad, and in the end it is their children who lose out.

Anonymous said...

What would be great is if the autism inclusion students were given the option of being included in either the traditional or Montessori program at Graham Hill.

Yes, they absolutely should be given the choice and a seating in both programs. In fact, they are entitled under IDEA to ALL programs availabe to others, including after school programs, enrichment, etc. And no, they have not been allowed into the Montessori. Phone the neighbors! Students in the resource room can go to the Montessori. How mighty white of 'em!

Anonymous said...

About half of the students who are selected by Rainier Scholars and who go through that program end up at private schools. That's probably good for the students, but it makes the District's statistics look worse.

The APP program evaluation didn't buy this argument and neither should anyone else. The District's statistics are WAY WORSE than the reality not better. The fact is that many, many, many more of the gifted private school attendees are WHITE, mostly white, certainly much whiter than Seattle as a whole. Who could possibly believe that there's some black gifted program out there in the private school sector and that was sucking down all the gifted black students? Ridiculous and not factual.

Frankie said...

Are you dense? Thick? stuck on the fact that you vehemently dislike white people?

Because you are not making sense. You are just raging, and spewing out inaccurate information. At this point I think you are just fishing for a reaction. You couldn't possibly be serious. Your making yourself sound foolish, but, luckily, you are posting anonymously.

Anonymous said...

"The fact is that many, many, many more of the gifted private school attendees are WHITE, mostly white, certainly much whiter than Seattle as a whole."

That's because white kids are much smarter than black kids. And, there families are much smarter and more saavy than black families. And, the district being as racist as it is likes white kids much better...so much so that they will simply not allow any black students into Montessori or APP. As you can see this very white district (that is 40% minority) does everything they can possible do to hold black kids back, and make them factory workers. And, of course, there are not any black gifted programs in the private sector, because as you know there are not any black kids that are capable of filling those seats. It was completely shocking to me when this white district brought two black Superintendant candidates to be interviewed. And then, the bomb dropped, when they actually hired Dr. GJ. They sold out, I guess. How will she run this white district? How will she deal with the blatant racism she surely is subjected to every day. She must be in despair knowing her black child will never be able to be in a gifted program in Seattle (despite her mother having a pHD), or even a Montessori classroom.

How mighty black of you to think this?

Anonymous said...

"There is also a pretty clear racism in the suggestion that the qualification has to be different for Black students than for White or Asian students. It leads to the statement "You're really smart... for a Black kid." That's not a statement that the District - or anyone else - wants to make."

Why is it so hard to imagine that different groups might require different WAYS TO ASSESS intelligence and ability? Everyone seems to agree that different people have different exposures to learning, different opportunities, not to mention different language use and different values. Almost every standard measure of intelligence assesses blacks at one whole standard deviation below the norm at large. Think about that hurdle. Is it any wonder that black students wouldn't be signing up to get tested? That means either the "test is wrong and insufficient" OR "some groups are actually just inferior intellectually." Why do people think using different measures is somehow "dumbing down" anything? Does different mean dumber? ??? And no, it wouldn't be illegal in any way to use a variety of appropriate testing measures so long as they still showed ability. The implication of that sort of flexible testing would mean that gifted programs would and should address difference and differentiate instruction (just like every other school in the district, I might add).

Anonymous said...

What type of special test would you like to see?? Use of different language like ebonics? More sports analogies?? What would work better for minority kids? What are you're ideas?

Anonymous said...

Okay Frankie (so glad you're not anonymous), where is that private school for gifted students that's has the large percentage of black students???? Supposedly, it's the reason our APP program doesn't have any.

Frankie said...

At this point I think you are fishing for reactions. I don't believe that your questions and accusations are legitimate, nor do they warrant any engagement.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI, there are several well respected, predominantly black, private schools. Check em out..

Zion prep, St. Therese, to name a few....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the humor, anonymous at 7:17. I know it's not PC, but it sure was great!!!

Anonymous said...

Those of you who are likely to form stereotypes are doing a good job of stereotyping a bunch of us who post anonymously. We are not all the same person. Seattle is a small town. You'd be surprised how we anonymous people run into one another!

Anonymous said...

Blaming the adults in a child's life when that child is not excelling seems like the flip side to taking credit for that involved parent being responsible for the success.

Of course, a positive attitude and encouragement is important. Those who are convinced that caring adults (from the home environment) who value education will offer the surefire way to the child's success seem to actually be de-valuing the school community by taking all the credit! The flip side to this - those who cast judgment on children who are not doing well are sure that there is nobody home who values education. It is not logical to give equal credit to a successful kid's success (due to the caring adult) as it is to blame a kid for failing because there is not enough adult support. There are many roads to educational success. A good school is the fastest, smoothest way there.

Anonymous said...

"Zion prep, St. Therese, to name a few...."

but they aren't the gifted schools.

Anonymous said...

"There are many roads to educational success. A good school is the fastest, smoothest way there."

Seattle has great schools. We have many very successful programs. So you really can't blame the schools can you? And, best of all we have the choice program. And, Oh rejoice, you can go to any school you want to!!!!

ERT, try again.

skrlt said...

"Those of you who are likely to form stereotypes are doing a good job of stereotyping a bunch of us who post anonymously. We are not all the same person. Seattle is a small town. You'd be surprised how we anonymous people run into one another!"

HOW DO WE KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALL THE SAME PERSON? YOU ALL HAVE THE SAME NAME. At this point, I am ignoring all of you

Anonymous said...

"So you really can't blame the schools can you? "

Of course a school can be faulted for doing poorly. What would you say if your child, who was a struggling reader, went to school every day and had 20 minutes of SSR (sustained silent reading)? What if you didn't actually know how low her reading skills are because she had been promoted with passing grades and never causes any trouble. Do you think it is ok for a child to sit staring at the same page, compliantly for 20 minutes every day?

Anonymous said...

"And, best of all we have the choice program. And, Oh rejoice, you can go to any school you want to!!!! "

When I go to the annual reports for the Seattle Public Schools, it's pretty hard to find a school that everyone picks as their first choice.

Didn't the new School Board candidates campaign on the issue that we all need to stay in our neighborhood schools and reduce busing? Isn't that what the middle class patrons really want?

sp res said...

Anon. 6:34 - regarding GH Montessori and Autism inclusion students, the district allows only one category per student. It is a fault with categories and not Montessori or GH.

GH's Principal has been fighting this battle with the district this year over Montessori vs. bilingual. Can't have both categories although there are ESL kids in the program.

GH Principal, Chris Morningstar, would be most happy to talk with any family that needs more explanation.

Again, it's not Montessori it's the district policy of only one category per student.

Anonymous said...

This editorial made me think of this long discussion on this thread - worth reading:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/345917_crouchonline04.html

Anonymous said...

sorry, I don't know how to post links on this blog. Go to the Seattle PI's website, editorials. The name is called:

Middle Class Values aren't province of Whites Only

middle class mom said...

I, and the key word her is "I", would have known long before my child was passed to the next grade that there was a problem and I would have conferenced with her teacher, the principal and higher administration if necessary. If none of this was succesful and I felt that this environment was not adequate for my child's needs "I" would move her to a better school. There are very very good schools in Seattle. If you, and the key word is "you", do some research you will easily find them. If enough people did this, and complained enough about the situation, the school would be forced to address the issues or lose students, and ultimately close. Thats what the choice system does. It's competition, and it's supply and demand!

But the key word is "you". You have to do something. You simply can not just close your eyes and blindly navigate through the system.

low income mom said...

"Of course a school can be faulted for doing poorly."

Yes, there are schools that do poorly in Seattle. And there are students in them. Not mine, though. I would never allow my child to attend a school that I felt was "doing poorly". I am not middle class. I am a single mother, making wages barely above the poverty line. But, hey, it is free to change schools. No obstacle there. And, apartments in the North, Northwest, Northeast and West Seattle are no more expensive than apartments in the rapidly gentrifying Central area (have you looked at housing rates lately?). So even if I had to move (which I have not) to another neighborhood to "get in" to a better school, I would do it. I would do it for the sake of my kids. I just don't understand how so many parents just sit by and watch their kids struggle, fall behind and "get passed". And, so many who don't even notice it happening, until it's too late, and then blame the system. You see it happening all over, as is the example with parents of an 11th grader who reads at a 3rd grade level??? Where were they in 4th grade, 5th grade?? Why were they not on top of it then?? Why did they not take advantage of the myriad of free tutoring programs for low income and minority students? Why??? Perhaps, some just don't value education very much??

I don't understand why parents are willing to send their kids to a struggling school when there is so much choice in Seattle. We are very lucky here, in that we do have choice. We are not bound to the school on the corner, like Shoreline and other districts are. Take advantage of it, and stop relying on the system to do your job for you. Sure, the system has a responsibility to educate our children, but when you see a problem, it is your responsibility to remedy it for YOUR child.

Anonymous said...

How to choose a good school, for free.........

Attend as many school tours as you can and compare schools. Tours are free and no appointments are necessary.

Attend the school district kindergarten, middle and high school fairs at the John Stanford Center.

Go to the enrollment center and pick up the schools annual report. It's free, and it has so much information in it, including test scores, special education information, class size, racial makeup of the school. If you can't get to an enrollment center, go to your neighborhood library, get online, and go to the districts website.

Pick up an enrollment guide from the enrollment center. It has a wealth of information as well, and it compares services at each school.

Once you are in a "great" school, if you encounter any problems, meet with your child's teacher or principal, or someone at the district level to discuss them. I have found teachers and the principals at our schools to be very accessible. It's free.

And as a last resort, if you feel that all of your efforts have failed, change schools!!! It's free.

You don't have to have money or be middle class to want to get the best education for your children. The district goes out of their way to provide information, it is your responsibility to see which programs will work best for your child!!!

Anonymous said...

Also - if you think that it's impossible to get into the more popular schools if you don't live right by them, it may be that way in Kindergarten, but it is much easier in the later grades. There is turnover due to people moving, transferring to Lowell, or in some cases private schools. I've found that at my child's school whenever someone starts there 1st grade and up, in most cases their address tends to be much farther away.