Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Musically Speaking, Puget Sound Rules

Great music news from a Times' article this afternoon:

"One-third of the 15 high-school jazz bands selected as finalists for this year's Essentially Ellington competition in New York are from the Seattle area.

The five schools are South Whidbey High School, from Langley; Mountlake Terrace High School; Shorewood High School, from Shoreline; and Seattle's Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School.

Also, Mountlake Terrace High School's Kelsey Van Dalfsen won first place in the Essentially Ellington student-essay context."

Eckstein Middle School and Roosevelt also dominated the awards at the Lionel Hampton Competition in Idaho over mid-winter break.

So many parents, students and especially the dedicated directors of these programs, specifically Clarence Acox from Garfield and Scott Brown at Roosevelt deserve a cheer for their hard work. (The only cloud on the horizon would be if the new assignment plan will make it difficult for these music directors to assemble the great bands they now have. Do all these students live in the same area? Will that make other schools rise to the challenge or lessen the abilities of these bands to compete nationally?)

Not to leave anyone (or any competition out), Franklin High and its outstanding mock trial team will move on, along with 4 other regional high schools, to represent King County in the state mock trial competition in Olympia later this month.

There are good things happening in our district and students and educators who want excellence and are willing to work for it.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't help noticing Nathan Hale is not on this list. As we move closer toward neighborhood schools, and Roosevelt becomes harder and harder to get into, it leaves me disappointed as my musically gifted son will not have many options.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, first, it has taken decades for these schools to build these programs. Second, the assignment plan may not change for another year given the technology challenges the district faces. Three, if it really matters, then the thing to do is to tell your Board Director that you want the assignment plan to include auditions for programs like these to not exclude students who want this level of excellence.

Anonymous said...

Roosevelt has been a choice for most NE families for decades too Melissa. While Roosevelt has always filled up and had a WL, almost all families in NE Seattle got in, only recently has it become so popular that NE families that live more than 1.8 miles from the school can't get in. I will definitely let our board director know that we need access, but I'm not sure what good it will do.

Charlie Mas said...

It would be helpful if the music program at Nathan Hale got itself qualified for CTE. Then it could be a special interest CTE program, such as the biotech academy at Ballard.

As such, it could - and should - have a separate enrollment process with set aside seats and its own set of tiebreakers.

This is already done at elementary and middle schools for special programs such as special education, bilingual education, montessori, and Spectrum. It should happen at high schools for CTE programs and IB. Access to IB shouldn't be reserved exclusively for students living close to Ingraham and Chief Sealth.

Cookie Cutter schools said...

Yes, I agree with anon at 8:18, it has never been an issue that Hale and Roosevelt were such very different schools, as families in the NE had a choice in which school they sent their child to. Those wanting a strong band, self contained honors and AP classes, drama....went to Roosevelt. Those that wanted a smaller school, inclusive environment, no cut sports, alternative style school chose Hale. Both great schools, but very very different. It worked well for many years. But now that Roosevelt has become so popular, and their WL has grown to over 400 students, choice is gone for many NE families, forcing them to attend Hale, whether or not the alternative nature of the school is a good fit for their child.

I like our choice system, and I like the fact that Seattle does not have "cookie-cutter" schools. But, to make a choice system work successfully families have to have the key element....CHOICE. If they don't, and they are forced to attend their neighborhood school, then Seattle will simply have to go to the cookie-cutter school approach. I don't like the baseline of offerings idea either. A school can fulfill a baseline requirement of offering band, but it may be a shabby, small program, compared to Roosevelt's nationally award winning jazz band. A school may fulfill the base line of offering AP and honors, but not provide them in self contained classes (Hale does this already). So, I don't like the base line approach. Sadly, I think the only resort and the only fair thing to do is go to the cookie cutter approach.

Melissa Westbrook said...

My point is, again, that you can just create a great band. And of all the things to direct money to, I doubt any school would do it.

Again, tell the Board, as Charlie has said, that certain programs at certain schools (biotech at Ballard, jazz bands at Garfield and Roosevelt) have got to have some separate enrollment process (and no one can use it just to get in the school - the penalty is if you change your mind or can't keep up, you lose your spot at the school - that's rough but that's how you would keep it honest).

wendy said...

Melissa,

I am curious how that would work.

My friend's son was very dedicated to Jazz band all the way through Eckstein & the first 2 years at Roosevelt. For his 3rd year at Roosevelt he did not make the senior Jazz band. There were a lot of great saxophones and he did not get one of the coveted spots.

He did live close to the school & did get in based on distance. Under the new system, if he lost his seat in the band he would loose his seat at the school. Then he would have to try to get in to the general ed program the next year. He would have been better off taking a distance-based spot in the general ed program & never trying for Jazz band. Is that right?

Do you think that scenario might keep local kids from trying to get into the special programs?

I'm not suggesting that is good or bad. Just trying to get a feel for how it could play out.

Anonymous said...

There is a similar situation in the South End with music programs.
Neither Cleveland, Franklin or Rainier Beach have orchestra. We're not talking a lack of good orchestra, we're talking no orchestra at all. Only Garfield.

Again, another specialized program that needs to be considered as part of open choice seats for high school assignment.

Charlie Mas said...

Wendy,

Excellent question. How would it work?

It would work exactly the same as Spectrum, APP, Special Education, and Bilingual programs work now.

Each of these programs have separate enrollment processes at the schools that host them. Students enrolling at these programs are in a separate tie-breaker pools from the general education students.

For example, at Washington Middle School there are 60 available Spectrum seats in each grade. Students who want one of these seats mark Washington-Spectrum on their enrollment form. This is a distinct choice from Washington. They can, in fact, select Washington as their second choice. The determination of which students are placed in those 60 seats follows the same tie-breaker rules as the general education program but only Spectrum-eligible students can apply for them. Consequently, the Washington Spectrum program draws from a wider area than does the Washington general education program.

If a student leaves the Spectrum program, that student needs to enroll in a different program the following year. Here's an interesting thing: some high schools have a waitlist for the 9th grade, but they may not have a wait list for the 11th or 12th grade. So a student who was enrolled in the Roosevelt - Band and leaves that program after the 10th grade may still find an available seat in Roosevelt for the 11th grade, even if Roosevelt has a waitlist for new 9th graders. Of course, it is possible that the student will finish too low in the tie-breakers and not get a seat at Roosevelt for the 11th grade. Those are the risks.

Charlie Mas said...

The key point here is that creating separate enrollment pools for specialized programs would be nothing new. The district already does this and does it a lot - at nearly every school. It would not be novel or difficult for them to do it for CTE programs or IB at the high schools. So the cost - in effort and added complexity - would be small. The benefit, of course, would be more equitable access to quality programs - and isn't that a highly valued goal?

Anonymous said...

I love that Roosevelt has this great music/Jazz program. I don't like the idea of potentially taking seats away from local kids to get into a school with a superior band or drama program. That not only takes away the odds that my children would get in the school (if our neighborhood was assigned a different neighborhood school farther from our house due to Roosevelt's popularity), it also takes away from their odds of getting to participate in that program if they are not the best of the best if they attended their neighborhood school due to the all-city draw auditions.

I know they have a jazz specialization which may cause the uniqueness, but if Roosevelt allows all-city auditions for it's drama program or it's music program because it's award winning....well, then it will always be award winning and does not compete fairly with schools who don't do this. I also don't see it any different than having kids try out for the sports teams and get recruited like in college because the talented athletic kids want to go to the schools who consistently win championships.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, the drama program is different. It is not just that they do great drama/musical productions but that they actually have classes in drama (a full complement). It's the same as if you were talking about bio-tech. I would think this program would be treated like any other speciality program.

I don't have all the answers. The question that was posed - if a student got in under the band CTE and didn't continue on because he/she didn't get selected that's different from initially trying out and then not participating at all.

My point is that kids who are very talented deserve the opportunity to try out for these programs and it shouldn't be based on the vagaries of where you live. I know a kid who got a full scholarship because he was in the Roosevelt Jazz Band.

However, I am just thinking out loud. I have never heard of either band director expressing these concerns so maybe it doesn't matter to them and they would go with whatever students are admitted to each school.

These are challenges in equity that the Board faces. I think the Board really does need to suss this stuff out because if some parents feel they are being forced to a school that is not equitable (not equal because equity and equality are not the same things), it could be problematic.

wendy said...

Charlie,

I agree with you. I think that students who play violin should have an opportunity to go to a high school with an orchestra, even if it reduces the reference area of the school. It is an equity issue & I can see CTE working very well.

The problem I am wondering about is in programs where kids compete annually for seats. I think it is more like a sports team. You make the team in your sophomore year, but not make it in your junior year. Then you would have to leave the school. (Or reapply.) Maybe you could be recruited back in your senior year when the composition of the team changed again.

Would a conductor be willing to take a freshman virtuoso and cut the senior if he knew they could loose their place at the school?

This maybe the only fair way to do it.

I don't have high schooler so may be overly concerned about changing schools part way through.

Are those kind of decisions happening in the advanced learning programs currently? Are kids cut from IB programs? Can they be displace by a better qualified student who competes for the spot?

Anonymous said...

Also - if you got one of these spots for a special program, would your sibling get in the school even if they didn't participate in the program?

Charlie Mas said...

I think we need to be very clear about what sorts of programs could or should appropriately have special enrollment status.

I don't think it should be open to just any arts program, but should only be for those which qualify as CTE.

As such, these are classes which should be open to any student who has met the pre-requisites just as any class should be open to any student who has met the pre-requisites. If there is a sports team or a performance group in addition to the class, they can have their own audition or try-out process, but it needs to be separate from the CTE qualified class. So a student who lost out to another in a performance group would not have to leave the school. In fact, that student would not even have to leave the program.

For example, the drama class should be open to every student, whether they have a role in the play or not. Instrumental music classes should be open to every student, whether they have a seat in a performance group or not.

Access to specialized programs, whether IB or CTE, should be equitable to all students regardless of home address.

Setting aside seats for special programs does reduce the number of seats in the general education pool. That may or may not serve your immediate self-interest depending on where you live, your children's interest in participating in specialized programs, and the availability of those programs at nearby schools. But whether it serves your immediate and narrow self-interest should not be a factor in the determination of whether or not the District should do this.

They should do it to provide equitable access to quality programs. We are, purportedly, dedicated to that value.

On paper, the instrumental music programs at all of the high schools are equal. Access to Hale's music program is no different from access to the one at Roosevelt. Only if the Roosevelt program sought and received qualification for CTE credit would it be officially different.

So let me be very clear. These set aside seats and this separate enrollment process would be for specialized programs only. That means Special Education, Bilingual, APP, IB, and CTE programs. It would not be for arts programs, music programs or drama programs that don't qualify for CTE.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Currently the IB programs take everyone (even though you have to apply). There may come a point where it does become competitive so there's yet another issue to decide.

Anonymous said...

I was happily surprised when I spoke with the IB director at Ingraham. He said that they are committed to taking all students who request the IB program, even if it means larger classes sometimes. And, to top it off Ingraham is not an over enrolled school and all who apply on time have been getting in.

Anonymous said...

Am I understanding correctly??? Are you suggesting that a child that applies and is accepted to a "CTE" program, such as band, who looses their seat due to competition at a later grade would be forced to leave the school???????????????? That could not possibly be in the best interest of the student.

wendy said...

Thanks for the clarification Charlie.

It seems to be more a case of competing for a seat in the program when you enter 9th grade. Then being able to keep your seat as long as you continue to meet the requirements of the program. Not to compete each year to stay in the program. That's makes sense to me.

my kid is in the band said...

How many seats? What would be the audition criteria? What do the band and orchestra directors feel about this? Can students audition and apply to more than one school? Will band directors start wooing 8th graders? How does one avoid this being just an extra perk for affluence? Or does that matter?

How does this work with athletics. What about sports? Why not make them open to audition as well for placement in the school? Melissa in an earlier post argued for a later arrival time for high school even though it could interfere with athletics, because school is about academics, right? Well, one can argue that music is more "academic" than athletics, but I can see both sides. Melissa reasoned that one student she knows got a full college scholarship due to music. Well, lots and lots of students get full scholarships because of sports. Having access to playing with a great team could make a difference when the colleges come looking. So that alone is not a good enough reason to make music a set-aside seat thing without also doing the same for sports.

Truth is, there are simply not enough seats in Roosevelt for the kids who live a reasonable distance from the school and want to attend. Reducing that further to allow for music set-aside seats makes some happy at the expense of others and adds a whole lot of complications to the assignment plan.

In general, some schools are working great and appeal to many. Others are not. We want (the auditors want as well) equitable access to great schools, great programs. Well, without making every school great --- all you can do is rearrange who has access, not make it equitable.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above poster 100%. It would just be changing or "shifting" access to have the "band lottery". The problem is not having access to the Roosevelt band, it is just having access to a good band, wherever that may be. I think we are prematurely going to neighborhood schools, or limited choice, as all schools are not yet the "great" schools that the above poster is talking about. Some schools have NO music program at all, some have small, tired programs (like Hale), and others have stellar award winning programs (like Roosevelt). That is inequitable. Why should a promising band student have to attend Hale, and not be able to participate in a strong band program?? Because of choice, schools have become very unique, and niche. That's all great, until you start to take choice away, and kids are forced to attend them whether they are a good fit or not. Schools have to equalize before they can become neighborhood schools and definitely before choice is limited.

No every school can't have an award winning Jazz band, but they can all have high quality music programs.

Seattle has some hard work to do to get there.

Anonymous said...

The overwhelming majority of special education seats are NOT set aside for some special program as implied by Charlie Mas. Only level 3 and 4 students are dumped in "program models", and that has only served to restrict the choice of those families. It's not a big positive and it is being dismantled. Special education students do not "want" to be in some program because they happen to have a disability; they are forced into it as a convenience to the district. Special education students actually have the right to participate in other programs too. Their needs are not "deficit" defined or restricted.

The most inequitable thing of all is to have schools have selective programs, that only well trained kids and parents can get into.

Anonymous said...

Would entry into CTE programs be lottery or audition?? Lottery would allow the lucky winners, regardless of ability level access to the program for which they applied, but you have to be really really good, and have years of experience behind you to play in the Roosevelt Jazz band...... it doesn't sound like a lottery would work for this type of specialized program that you basically need a prerequisite to qualify for. The audition model might work, except for the fact that the kids who could compete in these auditions are probably the kids coming out of the more affluent schools with strong band programs, or whose parents were able to pay for private lessons for years. It gives the affluent more options, which of coarse limits the options of the less affluent. It seems inequitable to me.

I truly think the only answer is to have these programs available in ALL of our schools. Like an above poster said, maybe not the Roosevelt award winning jazz band, but how about a good, strong band program in EVERY school.

Anonymous said...

And how about advanced learning in high schools??? Why do some offer a stellar aray of AP classes or a full IB program, while other high schools offer very few, some offer them in non self contained classrooms, and some don't offer any at all???

How INEQUITABLE is that???

Why don't all schools have to offer the same AP classes??

Why would where you live in the city determine if your child should have access to advanced level, college prep classes?

This is just so wrong on so many levels. It stinks.

Charlie Mas said...

Perhaps my kid is in the band didn't notice the references to CTE qualification that were plastered all over everything. While CTE can be stretched, it cannot be stretched to athletics just yet, so your references and analogy to athletics is either a reflection of poor reading skills or a feeble effort to confuse the issue. Either way, stop it. You're not helping.

As to your numerous questions, most of them would be up to the school to determine - as you undoubtedly already knew.

As kid in the band correctly notes, all we can do is rearrange who has access, but we can manage that to make it more equitable - so that access isn't based exclusively on proximity to the building.

Take the focus off music and put it where it belongs: on specialized CTE programs.

If there are two students, and one needs and cares desperately about a specialized course of instruction and the other doesn't, shouldn't the one who needs the specialized instruction have preferential access to the school with that instruction? It is no different with music programs that qualify as CTE than it is with other specialized CTE programs or with IB. The key here isn't to provide equitable access to the school building, but equitable access to the course of specialized instruction.

We cannot provide these courses at every school and it would not be a good use of our money or energy to try. So shouldn't we make access to the biotech academy more equitable across the city instead of making it exclusively available to those students who live in Ballard? Among that sub-group, the students living in Ballard will continue to have preferential access to the program through the distance tie-breaker, but giving the program an enrollment queue separate from the general education program in the building makes the program more accessible to students from outside the neighborhood and strengthens the program by filling it with students who actively chose it.

The focus should not be on music. Very few of the music programs in Seattle will be able to qualify for CTE. The focus should be on specialized courses of study which are not cost effective (or, in some cases, possible) to duplicate in every school.

To correct anonymous at 12:53, nowhere did I imply in any way how many special education students are assigned through a separate enrollment process. Nor did I ever suggest that it was a positive, a negative, or the choice of the family. Go back and read what I wrote. Nothing is quantified. You may have inferred it, but I didn't imply it. And I certainly would NEVER refer to student placements as "dumping" as you did. You need to check yourself in a couple of ways.

Furthermore, to suggest that it is inequitable for every student to be taught at the frontier of their knowledge and skill is an odd vision of equity.

Look, the schools are not going to all be the same. Are we going to insist that either they ALL offer IB or none of them offer IB? Whom would that serve? Are we going to insist that they ALL have biotech academies or none of them have biotech academies? Whom would that serve? Wouldn't it make much more sense and be much more beneficial if some schools did have these specialized programs but that we establish a process so that students from all parts of the city who wanted to participate in those programs would have access to them?

Should every school have at least SOME music program? Sure. Should every school have at least SOME AP classes? Sure. The Board or the Superintendent or the High School Director can mandate that. I encourage you to suggest it to them. But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Let's not eliminate every special program because it can't be duplicated at every school. That's an arbitrary and unreasonable demand that leaves every school with as little in each category as the school with the least.

kid counts a lot of rests, too said...

Well, that sure pushed some buttons. I am not sure how to take all of Charlie's reply, at first glance I thought you were putting words in my mouth (which bugs you when folks do it to you) but perhaps you are replying to several folks at once.

As far as my reading comprehension goes, I read here that both Melissa and Charlie think there's a case to be made for RHS to be considered a CTE for music. (Did I read wrong? Well, actually Charlie said something about Hale becoming a CTE in music, but I suspect he miswrote that.) That there ought to be some space designated for an all city draw; a CTE music program. The reason being is that the Jazz band is a nationally renown band. Melissa has also argued in other places that RHS should have some all-city draw for music for equitable access with a reason given that she knows a band student who got a full college scholarship. I compared that reasoning with athletics scholarships to point out that her logic could extend in that direction. Athletically talented kids might also wish for all city draw access to better sports programs or coach or cohort.

Should BioTech and IB have all city draw set-aside seats? Probably. How to do that? We don't know yet what the district is thinking, do we? Especially at Ballard which often has a waiting list. Ingraham hasn't had that problem yet, but it might. Do we provide access by lottery or test? If by test, what test and is there an appeal process? Providing this wider range of access to a program in a school that is also attractive and oversubscribed by general students will make some happier and some less happy because you will be robbing Peter's seat to provide Paul's. (Although the district has already added the IB program to a new school before it became an issue, good for them!)

And what's the district policy on dropping out of such programs currently? If one drops out of elementary APP mid year, they lose the seat at the building immediately. What happens in a Spectrum school with a waiting list for general ed? If a student in Spectrum leaves that program, do they have to leave the school? And what's to stop a high school student from enrolling in a CTE program and then decide to change First week of school? First month of school? in April after the enrollment period for next year is over? In a school with a waiting list, at what point are they told they have to leave the building and reapply in the general pool? Charlie says (I think?) that it should be (or is?) a school based policy instead of a district wide policy for CTE programs. Perhaps that ought to be the case, is it now? I think it is debatable whether there should be a district-wide or a school-based policy on such issues. Along with the changes in the assignment plan, these are questions that will have to be addressed.

Should there be all city draw set aside seats for athletics? Probably not. Most people would agree that sports are different from academics and there are probably league rules about this anyway.

Should there be all city draw set-aside seats for a music program? Maybe, if there really were a program. Right now, there is no program, there is no specialized course of study in music at Roosevelt. The only class in Jazz at Roosevelt is Senior Jazz - the very competitive band. The Jazz feeder band is an after school extra curricular activity. I believe that is competitive as well, although I don't know what percent of kids get cut. Mr Brown did open a second section of the after-school band this year. Yes, there is Band available to all students who want to register, but it is just one class, it is not a program and it is not Jazz. It is not music theory, history, appreciation, composition or anything one might expect from a comprehensive music program. Just a chance to be in a band, performing band repertoire and learning a little music. No deeper curriculum. Kids who take music seriously have private lessons. Some kids have two private teachers, one for classical and one for Jazz. *That* is how one gets in Senior Jazz band. Many years of private lessons, many years of practice, many years of after school programs (Eckstein has after school Jazz for all but its competitive senior Jazz band as well.) That's why, the way things are currently at Roosevelt with respect to music, there is nothing similar to BioTech or IB, no more reason to make RHS music a CTE program than there is to make some athletic powerhouses CTEs.

Both Biotech and IB augment and add to a student's academic record. Both will make them more competitive for college and career bound. However, taking band every year interferes with getting an education sufficient for a competitive college acceptance. One needs to take more than 6x4 or 24 classes in order to take band and a college prep course load. IB has a problem with not enough time in the day so kids in IB come to school for an extra class, a Zeroth period, do they not? I don't think they have to pay for it, but I could be wrong. Band kids who want a college prep high school experience and stay in band have to find alternatives, summer school or community college classes to make that happen. (Not paid for by the district, I don't believe, but by parents.)

Example: take Roosevelt. there are 6x8 = 48 semesters available. required for graduation:
LA 6 semesters, SS 7 (was 6, now Human Geography adds one), Math 4 (yup, two years math), Science 4 (but for two full years of a lab science and the required freshman science semester let's say 5), Occupational Ed 3 (but Band can count as 1, so let's say 2), PE 3, Health 1 and Fine Arts 2 (but music will count, so let's say 0).
That adds up to 28 semesters. Add 8 semesters of Band or orchestra makes 36 semesters. Therefore there are only 12 semesters left. 12 semesters, 6 year long courses to turn this minimal academic course load into something a college might look at. That means a fourth year of LA, Third years of Math and Science and 2 years of a foreign language plus one more class. That will not matter to the very few who are talented and driven enough to want to make music their career. But it will matter to the majority of kids who are college bound.

Now, with this more complete picture of music program at Roosevelt, do Charlie and Melissa still think that it is currently similar enough to Biotech or IB or APP or Special Ed or any other program to be considered a CTE?