Friday, April 11, 2008

More on the Southeast Initiative

Hello

I saw this as a sidebar to an article posted on March 28th in Seattle's Child:

http://www.seattleschild.com/article/20080328/SCM02/301450785&template=SCMart

Rainier Beach High School’s enrollment has been dropping for years. Now, with about 300 students, it is smaller than some Seattle elementary schools.

Seattle Public Schools estimates at least 1,300 high school students in the southeast part of the city pass by Rainier Beach and go elsewhere – many opting for north end schools. Rainier Beach is one of three schools “in glaring need of assistance,” says Carla Santorno, the district’s chief academic officer.

The district is helping with a new effort called the Southeast Education Initiative. They’ll spend between $800,000 and $900,000 each year – for the next three years – to increase enrollment and academic achievement at Rainier Beach, Cleveland High School and Aki Kurose Middle School.

Each school received $25,000 in September to figure out what their needs are. The schools have until the end of November to come up with a reform plan. In other words, decide how the rest of the district’s allocation will be used. The schools’ plans will include benchmarks, targets and all the usual accountability standards that tell educators if they’re on track or not.

Santorno says she has been involved with reform plans before that haven’t worked, but this one is different. “Reform efforts fail when people aren’t given enough time or resources to do the job. That’s not the case here where we’re giving these schools the support they need to pull it off,” she says.

If the schools don’t pull it off, then the district will “have to come up with an alternative solution which could be lots of things,” Santorno says. “If it’s not working we have to fix it.”

Given what the Board has been saying that they don't know if there is money for this and they don't know where the money is going to come from, I find what Ms. Santorno says here to be very troubling. Is there is or is there not the resources to fully and completely fund the SE Initiative? Ms. Santorno is stating that if enrollment does not increase, there will have to be an "alternative solution". That is fine. However, please don't promise a great new program and then not fully fund it. I know Mr. Mas has asked Director Martin-Morris what the outcome of this weeks meeting on the SE Initiative was, but as of 10:00 am on 4/14, Director Martin-Morris had not responded yet on his blog. I know the staff at Rainier Beach is very excited and fired up to implement this program, but given how the district has acted, you can safely say that the faculty and staff here are very skeptical of anything the district says or does.

4 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Here is a link to the article in Seattle Child.

Charlie Mas said...

October 2007 enrollment at Rainier Beach was 361.

In 2006-2007, 51 Rainier Beach students took the SAT. Their average scores were Verbal: 376, Math: 385, Writing: 378.

Here is what it says about the Southeast Education Initiative in the Middle School section of the Enrollment Guide:

"The School Board approved The Southeast Education Initiative to ensure that schools in South and Southeast Seattle provide high-quality choices for students and
families – beginning with a focus on Aki Kurose Middle School, and on Cleveland and Rainier Beach High Schools.

The Initiative provides additional resources to Aki Kurose Middle School to:

* Expand the range of quality programs and instruction offered to students.

* Increase the level of rigor in core academic subject areas.

* Expand academic and elective offerings.

* Apply research-based programs to improve student achievement.

* Implement strategically aligned professional development for all staff.

* Build upon and expand existing university and community partnerships.

* Establish clear three-year program goals and annual benchmarks to assure that progress is being made.

* Increase yellow school bus service for students who live near Aki Kurose.

Transportation: As a pilot project in 2008-09, the "walk area" for Aki Kurose Middle School students
will be reduced to one mile. Students who live between one and two miles from the school will be
added to the yellow school bus transportation area for Aki Kurose. (Check at Enrollment Centers, the Bilingual Family Center, Aki Kurose Middle School,
or on our Web site at www.seattleschools.org for a
map showing the specific areas that will get yellow school bus service.)
"

Here is what the Aki Kurose section of the Enrollment Guide says about the Southeast Initiative:

"Aki Kurose Middle School, supported through The Southeast Education Initiative, is building an extended day program for all students that will incorporate rigorous academics, music and world language electives, and strong programs in theater and
media production.

We provide challenging core classes in reading, writing and math. Our Writers’ Workshop program will be augmented with Readers’ Workshop to support increased rigor in the academic program. National research has shown that these two programs engage students and support academic success. We also offer world languages in Spanish, French and Chinese, ensuring that students begin early to prepare for college preparatory classes.

To prepare students for Advanced Placement (AP) level course work when they enter high school, we will introduce Springboard, a College Board program. This comprehensive program builds students’ critical thinking skills and the understanding they need for later success in AP courses.
"

Here is what the High School section of the Enrollment Guide says about the Southeast Initiative:

The School Board approved The Southeast Education Initiative to ensure that secondary schools in South and Southeast Seattle provide high-quality choices for students and families - beginning with a focus on Aki Kurose Middle School, and on Cleveland and Rainier Beach High Schools.

The Initiative provides additional resources to Cleveland and Rainier Beach high schools to:

* Expand the range of quality programs and instruction offered to students.

* Increase the level of rigor in core academic subject areas.

* Expand academic and elective offerings, including Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

* Apply research-based programs to improve student achievement.

* Implement strategically aligned professional development for all staff.

* Build upon and expand existing university and community partnerships.

* Establish clear three-year program goals and annual benchmarks to assure that progress is being made.

* Increase transportation service for students who live near Cleveland and Rainier Beach.

Transportation: As a pilot project in 2008-09, the "walk areas" for Cleveland and Rainier Beach students will be reduced to 1.0 mile. Students who live more than 1.0 mile and less than 2.5 miles from either school will be eligible for transportation.
"

Charlie Mas said...

What, if anything, will the District do for families who chose these schools based on the promises made in the Enrollment Guide?

Is this how we build trust?

Is this how we increase confidence in Seattle Public Schools?

Why would anyone believe future promises from the district leadership if they fail to fulfill on these promises?

dan dempsey said...

But this is how business is done in the SPS, thus explaining why only those new to the SPS would trust much of anything that goes on at the central office level.