Tuesday, December 09, 2008

So My Child Will Be Moving. . . Again

The latest word (to my understanding) is this:

Lowell to remain open. Montlake to close and move to Lowell with "northern" Lowell APP kids. Southern/central APP kids to Thurgood Marshall.

So, indeedy. Three schools in three years for my to-be-second-grader. Thank you, Seattle Schools.

57 comments:

hschinske said...

The shocker to me was the split of middle-school APP -- north-end kids are going to Hamilton, south-end stay at Washington. Here's the notice I saw:

"•Lowell’s northern APP students will remain here. (Northern is defined as Queen Anne/Magnolia and north of the Montlake Cut.) Special education programs will be evaluated to determine which programs will remain at Lowell and which could be moved. Montlake Elementary students would be moved here and that building would be closed.

•APP’s southern site will be Thurgood Marshall. (Southern is defined as any schools currently in the West Seattle, Southern, or Central Clusters.) That site will co-house APP and an Advanced Learning Opportunity Program.

•APP northern students will go to Hamilton Middle School. APP southern students will go to Washington Middle School.

•Garfield remains the same."

Helen Schinske

dj said...

I had heard they were thinking about splitting the middle school APP program.

I think what riles me more than anything is thinking that this has been the district's plan all along. Freak out the Northern parents by telling them that their kids are going to go to T.Marshall. Wait until they're threatening to pull their kids. Then, magically, their kids stay put and they don't mind so much that the kids that they supposedly really needed to maintain cohort cohesion with are getting shipped out.

I am hoping I am wrong both about the district's plan and the Lowell community reaction, but . . . well, were I confident I was wrong, I wouldn't write that, would I?

SE Mom said...

Sorry to be clueless here - what is the link or source of your info?

jason said...

It was in a note that Lowell parents received from the principal.

jd said...

I just can't wrap my head around the revised proposal. APP needs more diversity, so they package half of it with Montlake? And of the half that they're packaging with Montlake in the central cluster, none will actually live in the central cluster.

dj -- If it helps any, I very much believe geography was the primary source of northern pushback against Thurgood, the same pushback the south end families would have rightfully given if they said the north end site is going to be in Greenlake, and the south end site is going to be at Laurelhurst. The split is going to be wrenching for everyone. Do I want to see my kid's best friends surgically extracted and moved elsewhere? Do I want to have an opportunity to improve geographic access lost? Do I want to lose a chance for establishing more diversity for both cohorts and better equity between them? No. This is a choice the District made on our behalf, but not in our best interest. Please help keep any blame strictly where it belongs.

hschinske said...

I didn't actually hear anyone object to TMarshall specifically, except in the sense that the program wasn't being split north/south. Several folks did say that Marshall made more sense as a south end choice than Hawthorne, as Hawthorne was so far east and was even smaller.

My own feeling is if you can't get a north/south split, you can't get a central/central split, special ed is staying in anyway, Lowell is staying open anyway, and you can't get ANYTHING that gives programs room to grow, you might as well just leave APP at Lowell alone for another year and save the moving costs. It's not as if you were actually improving access to APP in the south by very much. The district keeps saying that part of the reason for the move is overcrowding at Lowell, and then they propose a move that doesn't fix any overcrowding whatsoever.

Helen Schinske

momster said...

I know it's hard to feel powerless as a parent/caregiver when your child's school is in the headlights, but as a bystander (this time), the frequent assumption in many of the comments on this blog that there are multiple nefarious plots and schemes on the part of the district is hard to take and doesn't seem like a very productive tack. (dj @ 4:20).

I'm not always their biggest fan, and it makes sense that you have to vent, but as Beth said - it works best if you assume best intent and take the high road.

jd said...

It is great that special ed is staying, though.

dj -- I'm curious if you have any ideas about alternate south end schools to host APP. I think the district got locked into Thurgood as the only place they thought they could stick a north end cohort, so they might be sticking with it out of inertia. I'm wondering if there's an even better option that the district may have missed. (Rather than Helen's rather obvious point of just staying put until they figure out the assignment plan -- if we knew a split was coming, we could at least plan for it, rather than this haphazard careening from idea to idea.)

dj said...

I am not "blaming" the northern parents for anything. I am commenting on what I think is a strategy on the part of the district to get half of the parents to stop complaining. Which I am concerned, even after all of the wonderful language I've heard over the past two weeks about the importance of the Lowell community staying together, may happen.

hschinske said...

"And of the half that they're packaging with Montlake in the central cluster, none will actually live in the central cluster."

Whoa. I hadn't noticed that. Yeah, there are even a few kids who live within blocks of Lowell who will get sent to Thurgood Marshall under this plan.

Helen Schinske

dj said...

jd -- I don't have any particular objection to the Thurgood Marshall site itself or to the school. The splitting isn't my preference -- I wanted to keep the school together, and a lot of Lowell parents proposed various ways to keep the school at Lowell or perhaps move it intact to Meany. In the alternative, moving the northern kids to B.F. Day and the south/central kids to Hawthorne or Marshall makes sense.

I have said elsewhere on this blog, and still think, that moving the high-resource Montlake kids into the high-resource APP building tends to exacerbate what are already parent-resource differences in the district.

jd said...

I prefer to stay together, but I've accepted that we're going to be split. I can also think of several other ways of doing the split that would be better by several metrics:

1. TT Minor to Lowell -- better diversity, take in a school that's already on the chopping block;

2. Northern cohort to BF Day -- northern cohort gets a northern site, more diversity and less resource imbalance. Keep south cohort at Lowell, or find them an even more geographically favorable site than Thurgood (if one exists).

3. Move TT Minor into Lowell now, move northern half to B.F. Day in a year, giving the district time to organize an attractive option to lure people to the other half of Lowell under the new assignment plan. Put in strong Spectrum or a language program in the other half, and make further adjustments during the assignment plan.

Montlake is rightfully going to loathe the latest iteration.

dj said...

I would think moving T.T. Minor into Lowell and the northern kids to B.F. Day would be a great idea, and had proposed that, but had been told (passive voice intentional, because I cannot recall who said to me) that that wouldn't be possible. I agree with you that if we're going to split, that would be my ideal. I miss the diversity of T.T. Minor and its community feel.

Of course, the great irony of that would be -- had I left my daughter at T.T. Minor, she'd be moving to Lowell, but since she's at Lowell, she will move to Thurgood Marshall :P.

jd said...

dj -- I've been describing the Montlake+APP idea for Lowell as being perceived as "white people circling the wagons". Like all of this, it's the district doing it, but it plays into every stereotype.

As much as I'd prefer to stay together, I thought Meany was a much better fit for other programs. The Lowell building is the only elementary you can really squeeze 500 kids, and it really is awfully full.

zb said...

Folks coming up with alternatives aren't finding a replacement school to close for Lowell. I think rather than assuming nefarious plans for the SPS, what we have to remember is that they have two goals that parents aren't really committed to: reducing capacity and mothballing old buildings. Parents don't really feel strongly about doing either of those things, which are being done to increase efficiency.

So, plans that keep Lowell open, and shuffle kids, but don't decrease capacity in Central aren't taking the guidelines into effect.

After reviewing the building status reports, I'm pretty convinced that keeping Montlake open in the long run is not really tenable (because of the size of the lot and building, and the quality of the building).

jd said...

B.F. Day would work under the phased split. It would give a year for B.F. Day to absorb the temporary 1-year overflow from QA.

jd said...

zb -- I think you get a closure if you wait a year and deal with closing Montlake simultaneously with the assignment plan. Reference school boundaries shift to absorb the montlake students more naturally, rather than busing them across capitol hill to Lowell. In the meanwhile, the district grows a more attractive spectrum and gen-ed program at Lowell, and maybe the closure goes down a tad bit easier (yeah right).

dj said...

I agree with jd.

Or (and I am not saying this because I am suggesting that Montlake be closed, but because I am being asked to name another school to close), move T.T. Minor to Lowell, move the Montlake kids to the schools that the T.T. Minor students were slated to attend, and send the north-end kids to Day. Two school closures and voila, more diversity in the Lowell building (which it sorely needs).

I am sure there is some reason that is unworkable, but it's a thought.

amsiegel said...

I'm sorry. The idea that--in the name of equity and access--the great bulk of the actually racially and economically diverse APP students are being kicked out of Lowell and sent to an experimental program designed in contravention of the guidelines developed in the last program review would be funny if it weren't so sad.

If I was the parent of a racial minority APP student kicked out of Lowell to make room for Montlake students, I would seriously consider filing a lawsuit or sending a letter to the Obama Justice Department asking for an investigation of whether the plan violates the "disparate impact' regulations under the federal civil rights statutes.

hschinske said...

"Folks coming up with alternatives aren't finding a replacement school to close for Lowell."

I think that's a bit much, after all the MANY proposals parents made that would have fit the district's parameters better than what they themselves have settled on. Moreover, those parameters keep changing: not long ago, there was no question at all but that special ed WOULD be moving out, and Lowell WOULD be closed. Naturally people thought up ideas that went with those parameters, such as the proposed B.F. Day/Thurgood Marshall split, which had the merit of putting both north and south APP sites in very diverse schools, as well as decreasing transportation costs.

Now, granted, if special ed is better served by the current plan, that's EXTREMELY important, and if those families are happy, I am happy for them. But putting Lowell back in the mix does make things more difficult logistically, no question.

Helen Schinske

another mom said...

Was Debell's question about growing a program when it is co-housed with a neighborhood school answered? It is key. Part of what happened at Madrona was APP squeezed the neighborhood program. Vaughan seems to say that APP is not going to grow but really? Is the objective to grow APP or ALO's or Spectrum? All of this looks very disorganized and weird that the middle school is now in the mix. AM Siegel's point about civil rights is well taken. In fact the latest proposal may be an argument to keep the program intact.

another mom said...

Furthmore, if the program is split north/south at both the elementary and middle school there is no point keeping the thing intact at the high school?

Finspot said...

The North-South divide continues...

But I'm sure APP North/Montlake will be happy to pool proceeds from the annual "Lowell Fund" with APP South/TM. We're one community, after all.

agibean said...

As the parent of a racial minority student at Lowell, I (as well as my husband) see the move to Marshall as likely a positive thing.

At the Lowell meeting last week, we heard all kinds of hysterical rationale for why Lowell kids couldn't possibly move to either TM or Hawthorne, to the point where we began to wonder whether we even belong at the school.

There were cries of "unsafe", comment after comment about forcing the bright Lowell kids in with underachievers and of course, the socioeconomic disparity. "Did you know," one parent said breathlessly, "that at Hawthorne, there are 70% FREE AND REDUCED LUNCH STUDENTS?"

The kicker for me was the parent worried about sending his child in with "all those minorities". You know, like my daughter, the "colored" girl, as a fellow student has called her, and as I've come to learn, another black student.

Not surprisingly, other south end and/or minority parents didn't have the same level of hysteria about moving to either Marshall or Hawthorne, where it seems that the district plans to enlarge nad improve the options for rigor in the south end, something white parents have been whining about for a long time.

Had the programs as proposed existed prior to this year, we might have had fewer qualms about sending our daughter to Lowell, and instead chosen a place where she will see other faces like her own more than once or twice a day in the hall.

There is a lot more to work out, but we've been speaking with Dr. Vaughan all along and he was brought in to increase advanced learning programs and minority participation in them, among other things. The proposals tonight will do both, I think. And the hysterical north end Lowell parents will remain safe from the denizens of south Seattle and their children. But. we call some of them our friends and neighbors.

ateteljesneved said...

amsiegel- I would like to know more about how the disparate impact on a racial minority student currently enrolled at Lowell and who, under the latest proposal would be sent away to make room for Montlake students, potentially could violate federal civil rights statutes . . .

jd said...

Agibean -- As a white north end parent, I assure you that some us noted exactly the same comments and found them to be just as ignorant.

I doubt that helps much.

amsiegel said...

Agibean--

As a parent of a first-grader at Lowell who will be heading to Thurgood Marshall, I both share your concerns about the comments at the meeting and hope that you are right in your optimism about TM.

If we can get a sensible transition plan from the district, can arrange a principal and a teaching staff with experience in gifted education, can get a commitment for joint fundraising between the two schools, can raise a substantial amount of $ to seed the program at TM, can keep most families in the program, can make sure that the anti-bullying program comes with us and that the school is a non-uniform school, etc., then I think we have a real opportunity to create a school that replicates Lowell's excellence while adding to school equity.

If all that comes to pass, we will truly be a model program. It is just that there is a lot of work between here and there and no real evidence that the district is going to give us much help in that process.

dj said...

Agibean -- if I have the choice between a diverse established program and Lowell's non-diversity, I pick the diverse program.

My worry here is that unless I have missed ome communication (and I have been sitting here for about two weeks hitting the "refresh" button on my computer), the district doesn't seem to have any clear plan about how it's going to replicate APP at a new site. And let me tell you, what I absolutely positively do not want to be doing is moving my kid a third time.

agibean said...

dj-you may not have had the chance to talk to and hear Dr. Vaughan as we have. Because we were on the verge of saying "no" to the APP placement because of the many negatives we'd heard of-racism, too much pressure, elistism, and more, Dr. Vaughan personally spoke to us several times and again to the school's diversity committee a few times about the future of APP.

While this exact scenario wasn't in the works as of last spring, there's been a plan on board for awhile to expand APP as well as other advanced learning options, particularly in parts of the city where there are not many options at this time.

I'm no "in-the-know" edcuation geek, but I do believe this plan isn't coming out of thin air. As the parent of two much older children who did not grow up here, I think that we have an amazing opportunity to create the kind of program we, as mixed race, adoptive and minority parentsd have been wanting-one that reflects the overall student population of Seattle.

I come from a state where gifted ed isn't even offered for the most part, and surely not in a special one-size fits all single school building. I firmly believe multiple programs in multiple places is not only possible but can be done successfully.

We know so many who do not bother to test for APP, or once admitted do not choose to attend because of the racial balance alone. And there are others who would qualify for some other program which is more ALO-like, but don't bother to seek one out because of the limited options in south Seattle.

We're going into this optimistically-hope you do as well.

And jd-thanks-the following night at the Heritage event we had several people apologizing to us for what they knew we'd heard. That gave us hope.

dj said...

Agibean -- I would feel perhaps differently if the district had set forth a clear plan. I haven't heard one and haven't been privy to anyone else telling me about one. My attempts to get details have been completely unavailing.

If there are district folks or other people with specific information about how this plan will be implemented, I would be really happy if that information could be shared.

jd said...

I still hope the board pushes back for TT Minor at Lowell. If they're closing both Montlake and TT Minor, why does Montlake get the special treatment? Tell Montlake they're closing in a year, and will be absorbed into the new "neighborhood" schools defined by the revised assignment plan.

Cheaper than the resulting lawsuit.

dj said...

jd, supposedly (and you are probably getting the same messages I am), they may re-draw the district lines around Lowell to include some of the T.T. Minor kids, although it sounded like that would be a when-we-redo-choice project rather than a what-we-will-do-immediately-upon-school-closure project. I agree that if you're moving one school in, T.T. Minor makes more sense because (1) some of those kids have already been moved once, so it would be nice to leave them in a cohesive group, and (2) obviously it helps out with the building diversity, and if as Agibean argues there are APP-potential kids who don't test or attend because of the program's lack of diversity, that might improve diversity within the program itself as well.

I think the original argument raised against that sort of combining was "look at what happened at Madrona" (as a proxy for "if you must co-house, co-house with similar-SES kids) but if they are co-housing part of the program at T Marshall, that seems to me no longer an argument at all, and I was never particularly persuaded by it in the first place.

Robin said...

Why not move that Lowell cohort to the TT Minor? All the teachers are spectrum trained,we have a montossori progam an amazing chess team, I think it would be a good fit. The district has made promises to TT Minor in regards to fixing the building time and time again, this last time was, if you merge with MLK we will fix you building. Also, there is a website savettminor.org where there is a survey for parents to take, we are intested in young parents in the neighborhood and parents who were at TT Minor and no longer there. I have been hearing some horrible stories about peoples experience trying to go to TT Minor but being told they couldn't and now they are under enrolled. Anyway there is my 2cents and if you would like to add yours please go to savettminor.org and leave a comment.

amsiegel said...

Moving half the Lowell kids to TT Minor with the existing TT Minor kids would be a perfect plan but, unfortunately, there aren't enough seats in the building.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I attended the meeting (well, for 4 hours). I, of course, was quite surprised at some of the offerings. Not so surprised at the Montlake/Lowell idea. First, the Montlake parents are likely getting their lawsuit together as they speak (or letting the Board know that as they did the CAC). But if you wait a year and then dissolve them under a new assignment plan and disperse their population? Oh my, you have got courage to suggest that. I didn't think there could be much more that could make them mad but that would be it (and I certainly do sympathize with the shock this must be to that community - all of us do).

I'm not sure why they did merge TT Minor in instead of Montlake. My thought would be because there are more schools around TT Minor to absorb their population whereas there aren't for Montlake's.

One key question that nags at me:
under the new Lowell plan, both Lowell and T. Marshall will have APP and regular ed programs. That means, that APP students with siblings can now get their siblings into the same school because both types of programs are available. Would APP sibs get a preference or regular ed or just both? Would they all fit?

another mom said...

"That means, that APP students with siblings can now get their siblings into the same school because both types of programs are available. Would APP sibs get a preference or regular ed or just both? Would they all fit?"

Melissa, this is an interesting question. I wonder if the new student assignment plan will tinker with sib preference as it relates to co-housed programs? In any event it needs to be addressed. Doesn't TOPS have a similar problem? In that it is very difficult for a student without a sibling in the program to get in? That aside it looks like both Thurgood Marshall and Lowell will be at or over capacity before even factoring the sib preference rule.

jd said...

Robin -- I think the district figured out that they have to keep the Lowell building open. It's been retrofitted for the medically fragile special ed population, and has had more than a million dollars of other renovations. Displacing the special ed students and retrofitting their new locations would be incredibly expensive. If they moved all APP out of Lowell, they probably couldn't fill it with 500 other kids in one swoop, which they would need to do to keep the special education facility open. So, financially it makes more sense for the district to move another program into Lowell to replace the half of APP that they ripped out.

Finspot said...

How would the staffing work? I've heard that during a move such as this, school support staff (art, music, library, etc.) stay where they are, while classroom teachers can decide where they go based on seniority. Any truth to this?

Lendlees said...

I asked Tracy Libros the exact question about sibling preference and she stated emphatically that APP siblings would get priority under the choice model. Now since APP is guaranteed seats in the cohort, my guess is that APP siblings end up with priority over gen ed siblings.

Maureen said...

I don't know why one group would have preference over another. Wouldn't they all just be treated as sibs and in the event that any class had multiple sibs on a wait list they would be sorted based on lottery number? I don't think special ed kid sibs (for example) are sorted any differently than gen ed sibs.

dj said...

Finspot -- those are exactly the sorts of questions that I (and I know other parents) have been trying to get answers to.

TechyMom said...

I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but here goes anyway...

How about putting half of APP at, gasp, Madrona? I know it didn't work last time, but that was a long time ago, and many variables have changed. There's room. Something needs to be done to improve Madrona, as it is in Step 4 of NCLB. If it can work at T. Marshall, why can't it work at Madrona? Maybe we could close T. Marshall, move its program, principal, staff and students to Madrona, fire Madrona's principal, and move APP back there?

Mark said...

I'm not going to flame you, TechyMom. I don't think any Seattle school is as demographically out of whack with its surrounding neighborhood as Madrona.

Or how about putting half of APP in Leschi? When I toured the building last year, I saw a lot of empty classrooms. Plus, they've already got a Spectrum program.

none1111 said...

jd said:
"I think the district figured out that they have to keep the Lowell building open. It's been retrofitted for the medically fragile special ed population, and has had more than a million dollars of other renovations. Displacing the special ed students and retrofitting their new locations would be incredibly expensive. If they moved all APP out of Lowell, they probably couldn't fill it with 500 other kids in one swoop, which they would need to do to keep the special education facility open. So, financially it makes more sense for the district to move another program into Lowell to replace the half of APP that they ripped out."

You're correct on all counts.

But hey, I know a perfect program that would fit the other 1/2 of the Lowell building superbly, size-wise, culture-wise, etc. And I'm sure they'd move there in a heartbeat.

Uh, it's called the other 1/2 of APP, which is slated to be booted from the building for no particularly good reason at this point. Honestly, they're not going to save anything by closing the building, and the district actually MAKES money transporting the existing APP kids to Lowell, as strange as that sounds - it's in the report.

If Montlake fights this and wins, then who else would go in the other 1/2 of the building to fill it up efficiently? If they kick out 1/2 of the APP kids, and then can't figure out a way to fill it back up pretty close to capacity... that would look pretty incompetent as far as the overall goal of working to fix the capacity problems.

jd said...

none111 -- At this point the only "problem" banishing 1/2 of APP solves is the potential legality of having the special ed kids in a building without a general ed population. They can't afford to move those kids out, so they have to move a gen-ed program in. How seriously the legal department takes this, I don't know. AutismMom thinks federal law isn't actually a problem, but others think state law is.

I don't disagree that it's looking more and more ridiculous, however.

dj said...

TechyMom, I won't flame you either. But I can see Madrona from my living room window, so perhaps I am an easy audience.

What I really don't understand is if part of the criteria for closing schools and reassigning students is to move as few students as possible how that of course translates into moving Montlake into Lowell and then moving half of Lowell out. It's not the growth argument any longer, because neither school will have room for APP growth.

TechyMom said...

OK, since I don't seem to be getting flamed, here's a tweak on that idea.

Move elementary APP intact, including its principal and staff, to Madrona. Fire Madrona's principal. Add recess and lose the uniforms. Commit to building ALOs, art, music and language classes, adding at least one of these the first year and building a plan to phase in more over the next several years. It would fill with neighborhood kids, from this diverse neighborhood, very quickly.

It might also work (I haven't looked at the numbers) to put middle school spectrum or part of middle school APP there. If not,
the middle school general ed program could be a mushroom, making some space for displaced Meany students. In a few years, it would also be full of neighborhood kids. I think some kids from the neighborhood go to meany now, so that might be the same thing.

Move Montlake intact to Lowell and close the Montlake building. Give that excellent program room to grow. Add at least one more K class for this coming year. It will also fill with neighborhood kids.

Between these two schools, the families whose neighborhood schools have been closed, including Montlake, TT Minor and MLK, would have two strong, large, new programs available to them. I suspect some would come back from private, but if they don't and there's still excess capacity, close T. Marshall as part of the assignment plan.

The district claims to want large, diverse schools with strong general ed programs. You may disagree with this (I think small schools are better personally), but that's the goal, and this proposal seems to meet it.

TechyMom said...

one more thought...
Move Montlake intact to Lowell, and also move Central Spectrum from Leschi there, and look into adding ALOs. Leschi would then have general ed and montessori. Lowell would have general ed, special ed, and spectrum, and maybe ALOs. Madrona would have APP, ALOs and General ed. Montlake and TT Minor buildings close, with the possibility of closing T. Marshall later.

Poke some holes in this, please.

dj said...

TechyMom, two issues I'll flag.

One, and I could be wrong about this, I have been under the impression that while part of the community around Madrona is unhappy with the principal, I'm not sure the district is, so I'm not sure how receptive they'd be to removing her (unless it would be to promote her in some way).

Second, where do the T.T. Minor kids go in your scenario? They are currently to go to Leschi and Madrona. If APP goes to Madrona, I haven't done a seat-count but doubt there would be T.T. Minor room. Is the idea that all of T.T. Minor goes to Leschi, or that part of it would go to Lowell?

TechyMom said...

You may be right about the district's impression of the Madrona principal. Sad, but true. She does seem to be good at turning kids with WASL 2 scores into kids with WASL 3 scores. That, however, is not what this neighborhood needs or wants. Is there a school or neighborhood that does want that, where she could be moved?

I would still put the TT Minor Montessori at Leschi. The general ed kids would be able to choose any school in the cluster. I'd keep the assignment preference for the twice-displaced MLK kids, maybe even for all the TT Minor kids. I suspect that a lot of the TT Minor kids would go to the new general ed program at Lowell, since it is geographically pretty close and will have room.

One could also make Lowell their official receiving school, to help keep them together, and bring along some of their teachers. Actually, that might help make it clear how diverse this school would be. I think it would be diverse without doing this, but doing it makes the argument easier, and probably makes the transition easier for the kids.

DannyK said...

Agibean,
do you know of anyplace where Vaughn or anybody else with the district has put their plans for managing the APP transition in writing? Part of the anxiety that so many parents feel is coming from the fact that there hasn't been any real discussion of how they're going to manage all these transitions, especially for special programs. And if APP elementary and middle schools are getting split in half, how does that work? Other than talk of design teams, I haven't seen anything. Since the district has a history of putting burdens on schools and never coming up with the promised rewards that were supposed to make for those burdens, parents have every reason to be skeptical and resistive.

TechyMom: Forget it. Not Gonna Happen. Madrona is very deliberately focused on taking struggling kids and closing the achievement gap, the principal is good at it and has won major awards for it, and the district has supported her through considerable political turmoil in this mission. (Google "Danny Westneat" and "Madrona" for examples.)

The chance that the district would shut that program down to benefit more privileged students, even as it closes programs like AAA -- less than zero. Not to be dismissive, but seriously, it'll never happen.

TechyMom said...

I should add that Central's Spectrum program is currently very small at Leschi (under 20 kids if I remember correctly). I would expect it to grow in this scenario, but probably not much the first year. Assuming that some kids from each would choose a different Central school or go private, there should be room for Montlake and TT Minor general ed populations, and the <50 kids that come from both Spectrum and Special Ed, with a little room to grow. If Spectrum grows really well, then in a year or two, When the assignment plan is drawn, this school would have 100 or seats set aside for Spectrum and Special Ed. That would leave around 400 for a nice big General Ed reference area, including Cap Hill, Eastlake, Miller Park, and parts of Montlake, Squire Park and Madison Valley, with the other parts of those areas going to Stevens, McGilvra, and Madrona.

agibean said...

I am not privy to anything in writing, but I can tell you that even as early as last year, Dr. Vaughan spoke to us about expanding not just APP but other advanced learning options to other schools throughout the district.

For example, this year, Dr. Vaughan worked on getting a grant to allow most if not all (sorry, I don't recall) high school students to take the PSAT free of charge, in order to identify bright students who might not have a focus on advanced learning.

Clearly there's been thought put into how expanding advance learning will happen long before this round of school changes. The idea that APP WOULD expand is part of the reason our family signed onto it.

We will work hard to ensure that the program aimed at the school where we end up works for THAT student body-all are NOT the same. For instance, our family and some others with non-white members would like to see more emphasis on civil rights in the social studies portion of the instruction.

I'm not a district cheerleader-I have reservations too-all I can say, though, is that this isn't a fly-by-night plan.

TechyMom said...

I'm familiar with the Danny Westneat pieces and the issues surrounding them. Those issues are the reason that, as the parent of a child who is likely to get a mandatory assignment to Madrona, I believe that this particular principal and this particular program is not a good match for a school in this particular neighborhood. It seems like putting APP there allows opening Lowell as a nice big reference school, and solves a lot of other problems.

I know it's not likely politically, but I don't think that's a reason for the neighborhood families to stop pushing for something to be done. Asking for what you want is the first step in changing the politics.

Dorothy said...

Can someone please explain the references to Montlake and Lawsuit?

What grounds are there for a suit?

DannyK said...

I'll be at the meeting Monday at WMS to discuss the split. I'm hungry for more detail on how this is going to work. It's easy enough to send kids here and there but how are they going to keep the gifted education program strong when they're splitting the cohort and the teachers?

For me the greatest things about APP are the rigorous academics and the safe environment for brainy kids. I really don't want to see them go away, and they could very easily with poor planning or an unsympathetic administration.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And Danny, you hit the nail on the head. I got active in this district, many years ago, about what I thought were major flaws in the Spectrum program. What I found is that the gifted program has never had, in any Superintendent, Academic Director or Board member, a champion. Dr. Vaughn is great, bright and knows his stuff but he has little power. If you don't have a champion (even a principal champion), the program is doomed to watering down or mediocrity.