Monday, January 05, 2009

Closure and Consolidations Rumors & Opinions

Pulling out some comments from an earlier thread per reader request:

1. Montlake principal has announced that the school has been removed from the closure list. Any other rumors out there at affected schools?

2. Dick Lilly published another article in Crosscut today arguing against the current school closure plan. Reactions? Comments?

3. The notice about the change in the enrollment timeline states that "students affected by building closure or program changes will receive their new assignments in the mail at the end of February. If they do not like their assignment they can apply for a different assignment during open enrollment." This is consistent with what some of us were wishing/arguing for in some threads in December.

65 comments:

adhoc said...

I am all for the prioriy/early assignment of kids affected by closure or program change, but do we have any specifics on where they will be assigned?

Some seem reasonable like Summit - they will probably be assigned to Summit no matter where the relocate (assuming of course they do relocate and don't close), and AS1 to TC. But what about the Cooper students? What about Meany students? AAA?

Where are they placing all of these children? Is it random? Do parents have a say? I guess parents do have somewhat of a say in that they can request a change through during enrollment.

Charlie Mas said...

My understanding, from the information provided by the District, is that Meany students will be assigned to a high school in their reference area - Southeast students to Mercer or Aki Kurose and Central Regtion students to Washington. AAA students will be assigned to their reference area schools as well.

Will students who were at a school without an advanced learning program be afforded the opportunity to test for eligibility? They should be.

Students who were in the ALO at Meany should have an opportunity to gain access to the Spectrum program and APP at Washington. Students who had their accelerated learning needs met at AS#1 or Summit should have the opportunity to test for Spectrum or APP as well. The same courtesy should be extended to students from T T Minor and Cooper and every other closed program as well.

Rudy D said...
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JennyM said...

Another source of information, similar to Dick Lilly's article is found at this website: http://andrehelmstetter.com/capmanan/capacity_management_proposal_analysis.html


This presentation provides hard data and sources indicating why the district is going about the closures all wrong.

Ben said...

"Students who were in the ALO at Meany should have an opportunity to gain access to the Spectrum program and APP at Washington. Students who had their accelerated learning needs met at AS#1 or Summit should have the opportunity to test for Spectrum or APP as well. The same courtesy should be extended to students from T T Minor and Cooper and every other closed program as well."

I am confused. Don't they already have the opportunity to take the APP test? Doesn't everyone? Can students only take the test now in certain grades?

Charlie Mas said...

Ben, let me explain. Advanced learners who had chosen to enroll at Meany and are getting their accelerated curriculum there through participation in the ALO at Meany would not test for Spectrum or APP because there is no testing necessary and no eligibility criteria for participation in the ALO.

The only other middle school with an ALO is Madison. So when the Meany students are re-assigned they would not have access to an advanced learning opportunity without testing and meeting the eligibility criteria. The deadline for nomination for the testing was in October, long before anyone had any idea that Meany might be closed next year. Suddenly the students will find themselves cut off from any access to advanced learning because they didn't test because they didn't imagine that they would have to.

Sorry, Rudy D, for the typo. Of course Meany is a middle school. Hence the reference to the other middle schools to which students would be assigned.

Under the current assignment plan, there are five middle school regions with two reference middle schools in each region. Mercer and Aki Kurose are the reference area middle schools for the Southeast Region. Meany and Washington are the reference area middle schools for the Central Region. With the closure of Meany, there will be only one middle school in the Central Region while the other four regions will continue to have two in-region middle school options.

When the new assignment plan is enacted, we're told that each middle school will have its own region, much as elementary schools do now. The intention is for the middle school region boundaries to follow the elementary school boundary lines and thereby create feeder patterns. At that time it will be very likely that the South cluster will be the reference area for Mercer and the Southeast Cluster will be the reference area for Aki Kurose.

That's how it is likely to be, but that's not the way it is now. Some South Cluster elementary schools - Beacon Hill, Kimball, and Muir - are in the Central Region for middle school.

Josh Hayes said...

Thanks, Charlie, for clarifying the October deadline stuff vis a vis APP/Spectrum. I can't get over the snippy attitude of the people in that office when I suggested they might want to prepare to reopen testing for students affected by closures: "We're not going to do that," and I quote.

[stamps foot] Ooooh!

[blows unruly lock of hair back up]

I've long since realized that justice and fairness are not things to be expected from SPS. It will surprise me not at all if they decline to provide APP and Spectrum testing for students from closed schools ("There are simply too many; we don't have the resources; they can test in after a year in one of our excellent traditional programs-- err, I mean, schools."). What am I going to do, sue?

(Well, if they refuse to provide testing, you betcha I will.)

adhoc said...

Go to a higher up Josh. Keep going until you get Bob Vaughn if need be. And if all else fails call the media.

Rudy D said...
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Charlie Mas said...

According to the Seattle Times this morning...
"Seattle School Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson will release her final recommendations on school closures this afternoon, but some parents at Montlake Elementary heard Monday that their school is off the list for now.

They said they heard the news in an e-mail from the school's principal, Claudia Allan. Allan and district spokesman David Tucker wouldn't confirm or deny the information
"

Hmmm. All of a sudden Allan can neither confirm or deny information. It's unclear if she cannot confirm or deny whether Montlake is off the list or if she sent the email.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think Ms. Allan made a mistake there in sending any e-mail. I'm hoping that this means TT Minor will co-join with Lowell (if they carry this through - I think they should wait until they suss it out better).

So there's the dilemma - should they just do the things that make sense in the context of what they say this round of closures is about? Or should they follow-thru on the whole thing in order to lend credibility to the whole process? (I do find it somewhat amusing that the CAC was told it "punted" on the Central area and here the district is tying itself up in knots over it. It's not easy.)

I would predict they will follow-thru on AAA (whether they move Van Asselt in or not - another bad idea with Wing Luke and Dunlap and New School all within a mile or so). Ditto on Cooper. I'm thinking they will drop Montlake and put TT Minor in with Lowell and keep one half there. Still think Summit is better at Meany and the Board promised SBOC to be in a building of their own. Still, staff can be stubborn and I'll bet Summit is still on the list to be closed. Thorton Creek? Well, with those numbers from Summit and AS#1 I'm sure it has given them pause. More elementary capacity or get rid of Summit/AS#1? I think they may follow Charlie's lead and leave TC where it is and open a K-8 magnet in Addams (if they were smart). You'd get tremendous buy-in from that area of town.

In the end, it's the Board's choice and gasp! they could have ideas of their own. I'm hoping that they push back on some ideas in order to get more public buy-in which would make this a lot easier for the district as a whole to take.

Rudy D said...
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Sahila said...

Josh and I are parents of children at AS#1 - threatened with closure of both the building and the programme....

There is a misconception in the community that alternative schools are schools of last resort, where children are more likely to be academically challenged, rather than academically advanced....

Speaking for myself, one of the reasons I chose the school is that with its individual learning philosophy and multi-age teaching/structure, my child ought to be able to develop academically at his natural rate, be that faster or slower than his peers...which is something traditional neighbourhood schools cant provide for as easily....

So, should our (alternative) children be academically advanced for their grade levels, where are they to go and how are their needs going to be met, if we cant get them into advanced/accelerated learning programmes because the testing period has concluded or there are no places available?

Josh Hayes said...

Rudy, I certainly see your point. Let me give you my story: My now third-grade daughter was reasonably happy at AS1 in Kindergarten, but we had her do the testing just in case she qualified for APP or Spectrum, and in fact, she did qualify for Spectrum.

In the end, she wound up staying at AS1. (Her older brother, now in sixth grade, is starting to work toward getting into the IB program at Ingraham, which is our reference HS, I believe.) So it's not that all of a sudden I'm thinking, hey, maybe we should have her tested -- she already DID that. But for placement next year, she'd have to have been tested AGAIN this last Fall, and we, not knowing what was coming, didn't do that.

Maybe that doesn't change your mind in the slightest, I don't know. The fact is, however, that testing IS offered to incoming transfer students; I think the district should view displaced students as functional "transfers", and should provide them the same opportunity. It is they who have cast us adrift. It's their responsibility to provide appropriate haven.

seattle citizen said...

Absolutely, Josh. If testing is offered to incoming transfers, it by all means should be offered to these "internal" forced transfers. How would it be fair that new students get this benefit while students who are currently enrolled but are losing their school do not? That would be crazy!

dj said...

RudyD, I think the idea is that you only want to move your child so many times, because it is hard on kids to switch schools, and many parents would prefer not to have to move their kids at all.

Because you cannot start APP in kindergarten, putting your child in APP always means moving schools. We struggled a lot with whether or not to move our daughter, who was doing well in the T.T. Minor Montessori program, to Lowell when she tested in. We ultimately decided to do so because we were not confident that the district would follow through on expanding the Montessori program to 5th grade, and we thought it would be better to move her in 1st grade than in 3rd or 4th (the current upper limits of the Montessori program).

I can imagine that there are parents who have their kids in more stable programs who made similar calculations and came out the other way. But if they no longer have the option of keeping their kids in the neighborhood schools that work for them, and they have to move their kids anyhow, it makes sense to me that you'd only want to move them once, if possible. I'd hate to see kids moved twice if that can be avoided.

Maureen said...
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adhoc said...

Lets say your child was attending AS1 and his needs were adequately being met. And since his needs were being met you had no desire to seek a school that offered an ALO, Spectrum or APP. Hence, you declined the APP/Spectrum testing offered in October.

Fast forward to November, when you find out that your school, AS1, is closing, and that the District will be re-assigning your child to Thornton Creek (which does not offer any ALO). Your child's needs may or may not be met in Thornton Creek regular classes, right? What do you do if they are not?? Well you can apply to any other school in the district, but your child could not receive Spectrum or APP services because they were not tested/qualified back in October.

Had you known that AS1 would be closing prior to APP/Spectrum testing in October you probably would have elected to test/qualify your child for Spectrum/APP, but of course you had no way of knowing.

Now you know that your school is closing. Now you know where you child will be re-assigned and that the new school may or may meet your child's needs.

Given the new information, shouldn't you have the right to test for Spectrum/APP now....even though testing was completed back in October?

I think so.

Rudy D said...
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Maureen said...

I agree that kids who are being forced to move should be allowed to test for advanced learning. In order to keep costs down, kids who have already ben tested, but didn't move (like Josh's daughter) should be considered qualified for advanced learning based on those previous tests.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that all kids who have ever tested in to advanced learning should be permitted to enter advanced learning programs whenever they chose (including High School). This would be consistent with the current policy of never reevaluating children once they enter advanced learning programs. I have been told that APP and Spectrum kids are not retested periodically because if a five year old tests as having an exceptional IQ, there is no reason to believe that their IQ will be any different when they are 14. If this is so, it should also be true for kids who tested but didn't move to an advanced learning program.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anyone can be in any "advanced learning" program in high school. Except for the flow of APP kids to Garfield (with the most AP courses), there is no Advanced Learning program in high school.

Anyone can sign up for Honors or AP courses at all the high schools I know of. Usually the only restrictions come up if a teacher requires either a meeting with the student or passage of a another class to get in. For example, you could try to get into an AP Spanish courses without a couple of years of Spanish but it would likely be a disaster hence a prerequisite.

Also, you don't need an AP course to take an AP test. As well, there are discounts on the test fees.

Maureen said...

Melissa, as you know, The APP cohort moves as a group to Garfield and they call that the High School APP. They say it is valuable for them to be able to stay together as a cohort. There is currently no way for an academically advanced student to access that valuable cohort without moving to APP before 8th grade. Many Seattle High Schools do not currently offer a full schedule of Honors, AP or IB classes because they don't have a large enough cohort of advanced students. Most of the High Schools that do offer a complete schedule are full of students who live close by. I believe it is wrong to deny students access to the cohort at Garfield purely because they chose not to move to Washington Middle School when they were 12.

If the APP cohort at Garfield is valuable, it should be opened to others who qualify. If it is not valuable, then the current APP students at Garfield should be dispersed to their neighborhood High Schools.

seattle citizen said...

Alternative schools don't deserve the image of being a catch-all for kids who can't perform...I know kids who might have been labeled with mild learning differences had they been in a traditional classroom be quite successful in an inclusive alternative school."

Again and again we get this difficulty of defining what alt schools are and who they serve. In my experience, alt schools HAVE been catch-alls for some students who "can't perform." Some students just don't shine in a traditional setting, and some alts can provide this different service. That said, in my experience I know that many, many students "don't shine" in a traditional school, but either aren't aware of alternatives, aren't motivated to switch (social scene at traditional school, lack of parent knowledge/motivation to encourage alternatives...) so these students, who aren't having their needs met at a traditional school, stay in it and suffer. This might lead to acting out, or misunderstanding of the student's needs, etc, so the student becomes "trouble."

This can get into racial and class lines: Imagine two identical students, both "non-traditional." One student has parents who are well-educated in "the white world's ways" (read: wealthier), who see alternatives to the traditional school, who educate the child to get his/her needs met, who educate the child to act in ways that are respectful while also demanding necessary coursework...Child Two has none of this. Same learning style, same "alternative" perspective, but because there is no advocate, or no knowledge of alternatives, that child stays in the school and gets in trouble because he/she isn't having needs met and, additionally, might not be trained in the "standard" response to this.
First child self-selects (or is helped by parents to self-select) and alternative that meets needs, and is thereby pulled out of the trad school; second child is pulled out of the trad school by being expelled, suspended, or dropping out.

It's not so simple to just say that there are Alternatives and then there are "remedial", or "drop-out prevention" or "safety net" schools. Many of the students are similar: they didn't get their needs met in regular classes.

Many alternative schools either a) recognize this, and take in students who were kicked out of other schools because they recognize an "alternative" student in that kid, or b) take in the student to bolster numbers, because FTE is everything, in some situations, or c) have the student that was kicked out of a school merely PLACED in the alt school because it is an available seat that is NOT the student's cluster school, where they were having trouble, and it is avilable, perhaps, because it is all-city draw or whatever.

So Alts and "safety net" schools are different, but their students often share similar attributes. It's true that many alts deny the connections to "safety net," for good reason: safety net should be there to support students in trouble. But it is important to recognize the needs of ALL non-traditional students, and meet them. The District itself regonizes this, and last year studied and reformulated the safety net system, making distinctions between them and the alts. It also, in the form of the Alt Ed Committee, asked Alts to more strictly identify the reasons they are Alt, and for good reason: Alts have many benefits, and can be seen as elitist by some. Some have argued that alts came about as a response to busing: when busing started up, some say, some parents decided to pull their students out of the trad schools and start off on their own. It behooves alt programs to define themselves to the degree that the public, the taxpayers, understand WHY and HOW they are alt, and it behooves them to have some shared vision with the traditional schools, especially in outcomes. Otherwise, they can be percieved as unregulated drains on the public dime.

Let's not forget the "safety net" students in all this. While the District reorganizes, while programs are shuffled, moved, upgraded, elimininated, there remains a large contingent of students who's needs are not being met: They are CHILDREN, who sometimes act out, but not have the advocacy and resources to do anothing and thus get into trouble. These students need support IN THE SCHOOLS, in alts and in traditional schools, before they get into trouble. They need identification and support, they need case-management....they need ADVOCATES because they often don't have any.

Rudy D said...
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adhoc said...

Certain alt schools reach out to those students that could also be deemed "safety net" students much better than others. AS1 seems to do an excellent job of this along with reaching out to families with very different makeups...gay/lesbian, single parent, foster families, etc.

I don't feel that TOPS, Salmon Bay, Orca, Pathfinder and Thornton Creek attract as many "safety net" students. These schools are definately more inclusive of kids with different learning styles and needs than most (but not all) traditional schools, but don't necessarily meet the needs of the severely behaviorally challenged, or at risk students.

Andre Helmstetter said...

Can some one tell me how moving TT Minor to Lowell helps the Central Cluster and the families at TT Minor? The way I see it it would just be another good program moving North. It would take many families out of its reference area, and it would still leave a big hole smack dab in the middle of the Central Area. If TT Minor is worth saving, it is worth saving right where it is. Right were it is needed. I can understand that people would want this potentially excellent school with it's new principal and great spectrum trained staff moved into their neighborhood/reference area, but, well it is already where it is. If it is saved (as it really should be) I encourage parents of elementary school children to seriously look at filling up some of the empty seats. It's a good place to be.

seattle citizen said...

ad hoc, your comments about the differences in alt schools are why the Alt Coalition, and then the CAO's Alt Committee, came up with the checklist.
It's poison to say this, but it's important: Some alts aren't alt, in the "true" sense of the word.. It's my belief that they need to acknowledge this, as does the district.
If a school isn't what the committee (and other nationally recognized thinkers, over three or more decades) has determined is "Alt" (see the twelve items on the checklist) then what are they? Are they trying to get to "alt"? Are they merely a slightly different traditional school with an all-city draw? Are they an art school?

This is important because a) it honors the ethos and directions of what has come to be known as the alternative pedagogy, b) it's upfront about the school's purpose, c) it holds the school accountable, d) it allows the district to plan the variety of programs it wants, e) it allows the citizens to understand the purpose of each school and how/why it gets what it gets from the general funds and resources.

As you've pointed out, some "alts" serve students who don't learn as well in traditional settings. But what if the alt itself is mostly traditional? How, then, does one justify it's special status? After all, most programs/schools like to think of themselves as unique and/or special; what makes an alt any different, and why does it thereby get all-city draw, for instance?

This is why we need more open-ness about each school, what they do, what they are moving towards (or WANT to be) and how best they can fit into the larger distrist structure and thereby serve the most students.

(Word verifier! "psygraph"? Mine would show a line jumping up, down, and all over the place!)

dj said...

Andre, I would prefer to see T.T. Minor left as is. My daughter attended the school, and I feel like it has been getting momentum and has in the past few years (particularly because of the Montessori program) improved its reputation. I have heard several people in positions of power say that "noone" chooses to attend T.T. Minor, but that does not comport with our experience there -- many of the families with whom we interacted chose to send their kids to the school over other alternatives, and they are trying hard now to keep the school open.

That said, if the school is to close, my feeling is that it is better for the kids to go as a cohort to Lowell, a school that is doing well and has a great parent and funding base, than to be divided between Leschi and Madrona. And I say that as the parent of a child who may be displaced from Lowell (and I do not want my child to be displaced from Lowell, where she is doing well and is very happy).

Lara said...

I am also an AS1 parent who did not go through the testing in October. I went straight to the top and after thinking about it and discussing it with his staff, Dr. Vaughan told me no, my daughter couldn't be tested because others were already told no. He also stated that he would be proposing to district leadership that APP testing be offered for students affected by the closures, but that it would not be up to him to decide if the district had the means to accomplish the task. He seemed to think it would be part of the closure proposal if it was determined to be feasible, and we would know by February whether or not testing would be offered. We'll see...

adhoc said...

This should really be a new thread...but.....

Just for curiosity Seattle Citizen, which alt schools met the Alt School Committees set of criteria?

My guess would be the only two schools that could possibly have met the criteria would be Nova and AS1. The two schools that use the free school or democratic school approach.

The Alt School Committee was headed by a long time, highly respected, now retired, principal of NOVA. She was extreme, to say the least, in her alternative approach to education.

She was not elected to lead the Alt Schools Committee, she was appointed by the school board (Hmmm.....not very democratic). Once appointed she began taking applications so she could select who she wanted on the committee. She alone, without any oversight, hand selected who would serve on this committee (Hmmm.....not very democratic).

She had very specific ideas of what an alt school should look like, and she brought all of her (cherry picked) data to each meeting. The data she provided, of course, supported her idea of what an alt school should look like.

She believed, and reported to the board, that "the committee" thought that schools that did not meet this criteria should not be considered alt schools.

But what made her committee's criteria the right criteria? What made her committee's criteria the only criteria by which all alt schools should be measured? Why did the school board select her? Why wasn't the alt school community able to select or elect the leader of this committee? Why was the board appointed leader also allowed to hand select every single member of that committee committee?

Perhaps there should be a new alt school committee with a more democratic and transparent process of selecting the leader and members? What if the alt communities elected the Principal of TOPS or Thornton Creek as the leader of this committee? I wonder if a very different set of defining criteria would emerge? maybe AS1 and NOVA would no longer meet the criteria for being an alt school. It's all a bit arbitrary isn't it?

While there should be a set of defining criteria for alt schools, I think the selection of this criteria should be done in a more transparant manner, by a diverse group of alt school members.

Alt schools are all different. They serve different types of students and they have different philosophies, teaching styles and pedagogies. They are not all the same, nor should they be.

Why are we trying to put alt schools in a box? Isn't that what alt school fans don't like about traditional or "cookie cutter" schools?

Melissa, just for curiosity, how was the CAC committee head appointed? And how did he/she appoint the members of the committee?

Charlie Mas said...

Andre, I'll see if I can step in and answer your question.

You asked "Can some one tell me how moving TT Minor to Lowell helps the Central Cluster and the families at TT Minor?"

It helps the Central Cluster by taking a step towards right-sizing the capacity to meet the demand. There are so many unused elementary school seats in the Central Cluster that TT Minor can be closed and the 206 students in the building can find an available place at a nearby school. This saves the District - who are charged with making efficient use of tax dollars - the expenses of operating a school. They save the cost of a principal, a secretary, a custodian, and whatever other staff is provided to a school. It also saves the cost of heating, lighting, and cleaning the space.

It serves the students at T T Minor by relocating them out of a school that is too small to offer all of the services and opportunities that an elementary school can provide. It also relocates them out of a school with a community that is too small to offer all of the services and opportunities that a larger school community could provide.

"The way I see it it would just be another good program moving North."

Yes. Moving north about ten or twelve blocks. I won't comment on the quality of the program. Will the quality be diminished through the dislocation? What was the source of the quality that it is extinguished ten blocks north?

"It would take many families out of its reference area, and it would still leave a big hole smack dab in the middle of the Central Area."

Only 60 of the T T Minor students are from the T T Minor reference area. If the Lowell reference area covers much of what is now T T Minor's area, would you still say the move takes many families out of their reference area?

"If TT Minor is worth saving, it is worth saving right where it is."

I think the District is saying that it's not worth saving. They aren't saving it; they are closing it.

TechyMom said...

Just a question... Is private APP testing still an option for the displaced students in closing schools? That is, if you went and had private testing done tomorrow, would the district accept it at this point? I know not everyone can afford this, but it might be a choice for some people.

adhoc said...

No, Techymom, private testing is not accepted any longer. It is accepted up and until the appeal process is complete which is a week or two after test results are returned to families (I believe).

Central Mom said...

Adhoc...
Dr. GJ's pattern to date has been to shelve the reports already on the table, hire an outside consulting firm to tackle an issue (see Special Ed audit) and then moved forward based on those results.

The Alt School audit is due this spring. My hunch is that the work done before will become just so much paperwork sitting on a shelf.

It will be interesting to see the firm hired to do the alt school audit. When we know the name, we can look at the firm's previous work to get some sense of how it will frame the alt school discussion. Because that's the framework the District will point to when making changes in transportation and assignment and keep open/close down decisions in the next couple of years. For better and for worse.

TechyMom said...

Alternative schools are just one type of magnet school.

I would define a magnet school as one that people choose because of its program rather than its location.

Alt schools as defined in the Alt School document are one kind. Language immersion, math+science magnet, advanced learning, IB, Biotech and other Academies, and Montessori are other examples.

We'll be putting at least 2 alt programs, plus Montessori, on our enrollment form this year, and we'll test for advanced learning next year. The democratic and social justice parts of the alt schools are nice, but they're not the main draw for me. The main draw is that these schools offer art and music and science and field trips, where many neighborhood schools do not. I also like multi-age classrooms as a way handle different learning speeds. The social justice stuff seems similar to the religion at Catholic school. I don't dislike it, and I think it has educational value, but it's not the reason I'm picking the school.

I bring this up because I don't think all parents at alt schools agree with the definition. I also don't think that this definition is very useful for assignment purposes. Montessori, Language Immersion, and Alternative should all be treated the same for assignment.

adhoc said...

Yes Techymom, I totally agree. There are alt schools (NOVA, TOPS, AS1, TC, etc), and then there are non traditional schools (Center School, New School, JSIS, Montessori,etc).

Since both alt schools and non traditional schools are each unique, and not offered in all regions of the district, for assignment, and transportation purposes they should be in the same category.

Personally, I think anything that is not traditional is alternative. But that's just my opinion.

Andre Helmstetter said...

Charlie,
Thanks for the well put comments. I still think that TT Minor should remain in it's central location. I truly believe that there should be a centrally located elementery and that in the near future the area will have problems with being underserved. That said your comments and a long conversation with my wife have led me to believe that the colocation could work especially if the current TT Minor families actually made the move and current students and their siblings were grandfathered in. I also think, as a result of my interactions with Lowell parents during this process that the parent group would be strong and cohesive. I also think that the spectrum trained faculty and Montessori classes from TT Minor would be a good fit with the AAP program. So I guess I'm saying that I am open to this option now though I still believe that within the next five years that we will have a new capacity problem in the middle of the city.

TechyMom said...

TT Minor at Lowell would, I think, work quite well. I would put it on my list.

I would make one change though... I'd go ahead and move the Montessori program to Leschi, and then move the Spectrum program from Leschi to Lowell. TT Minor's Spectrum-trained teachers, working alongside the APP teachers, could do great things with Central Spectrum. Leschi has proven it can't. The Montessori program is self-contained and will draw students whereever it lands, and will have room to grow at Leschi.

Charlie Mas said...

What "Spectrum trained teachers" are there at T T Minor?

Andre Helmstetter said...

Charlie,
My understanding from talking to Mr. King (the principal at Minor) is that all of the teachers there are spectrum trained, though it is not a spectrum program.

dj said...

Charlie, according to the template "save T.T. Minor" letter from the school's community, all of their teachers are spectrum trained.

http://www.centraldistrictnews.com/media/realestate/2008/12/10/LetterTemplate.pdf

Andre Helmstetter said...

TechyMom,
We would definitely want the entire school to stay together. That has been a very strong message from parents at TT Minor.

seattle citizen said...

ad hoc, you are well-informed about the committee, its formation, and the results. I was on the committee.
Yes, it wasn't democratically selected (I believe the person of record would be the CAO. Perhaps the Nova principal to whom you refer had a large amount of input on who got in, who knows. But the CAO ultimately decided.
(many of the committee members, myself included, were previously involved with the Alt Ed Coalition, a larger group that was not affiliated with SPS, which first put forth a draft of the "checklist". The Committee basically honed that document.)
There was a range of "alt" represented: Summit, Nova, TOPS, Salmon Bay, Marshall (chosen for other alt experience, but keeping mind the "alt" needs of "safety net"), ASII (now Thornton Creek)...

I can't recall anyone saying,"She believed, and reported to the board, that "the committee" thought that schools that did not meet this criteria should not be considered alt schools.

To the contrary, the committee agreed that the checklist was a guide only: It could be used to see how far along a school was in each area so determinations could be made about how "alt" it was, where it wanted to go, what it might do to become more "alt"...

I agree that the process might have been more democratic (at least the selection process...but anyone was welcome to sit on on discussions, they just couldn't be part of the decision-making), but the purpose was to establish guidelines for "true" alts. It almost needs to be done in committee, with educated and informed people talking about it. How else could the process be accomplished?

It led to a good (in my opinion) guide to "true" alts. This isn't to say, of course, that other schools aren't "non-traditional", just that they aren't alternative in the alternative sense of the word. We were looking for commonalities that emerge over the decades, and that is what we came up with. See also the bibliography for collaboration texts.

You say that "alt schools are different" - of course. But how diffferent should they be? We in the committee came up with criteria that we thought represented "true" alt; other programs aren't alternative schools, they are non-traditional schools.

You say that "Personally, I think anything that is not traditional is alternative. But that's just my opinion."

My opinion is that anything that is not traditional is not traditional, and alt schools are specific entities, different from each other, yes, but with some common traits, as per the (yes) arbitrary checklist.

I think I agree with Techymom, who says that "Alternative schools are just one type of magnet school. I would define a magnet school as one that people choose because of its program rather than its location."

And Magnet schools are a subset of non-traditional; Non-trad might also include "safety Net".

One helpful reason for the checklist, as I wrote before, is that it provides a defense against those who say Alts are just some weird different thing, some artsy-fartsy place without any parameters, without any direction...There are plenty who do. Many public institutions, Evergreen for example, spend a large part of their time defending their legitimacy. People aren't used to narrative evaluations. How do they relate to "A, B, C, D..." is the question. With the checklist, a school can say, "yes we value these things and we're working toward them."

Other schools, an art school for example, is free to define itself any way it wants, but it, too, will have to hold itself accountable downtown, and defend itself against the slings and arrows of injustice slung by the non-comprehending taxpayers who pay the bills.

Andre Helmstetter said...

TechyMom,
Just to explain. One of the things that is attractive about TT Minor is it's rich natural diversity. Having the two programs together and a shared vision for both programs amongst the staff and faculty allows the school to support the wide variety of learning styles in the schools constituency. This is important to us.

Central Mom said...

I'm empathetic to the TT Minor cohort staying together if possible. However, if the TT Minor cohort stays together at Lowell, what happens to the (planning capacity) 80 open spots at Madrona and 150-ish open spots at Leschi? Wasn't the District's idea to shore up those underenrolled facilities w/ TT Minor kids? 80/150 are too small for whole program relocation. Neighborhood residents aren't choosing to fill up those schools. What's going to give?

But, if TT Minor went to those facilities, what program would go alongside APP at Lowell, since Special Ed needs some form of Gen Ed alongside it, according to the District, and Montlake has been ruled out.

Feels like there's still a lot of "square peg forced into round hole" issues in the Central District.

Andre Helmstetter said...

CentralMom,
Good post, and I mean this in the best way. They seem to me hell bent on closing our school. Ourchildren are not filler material. And they are already part of a strong community. At this point we are starting to look at what's best for them. The district clearly doesn't care about them. If I can find a way to keep these kids in a quality program with as little disruption as possible I'm going for it. Of course I still believe that the plan is I'll concieved and that Minor should stay open, both for their own reasons.

Lendlees said...

The recommendations just got posted:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/FinalRec_Summary.pdf

Maybe a new post for this?

dj said...

CentralMom, I imagine that with a different educational approach, Madrona would fill quickly. The underenrollment at that school is a reaction to that particular school, not to a lack of demand for a neighborhood school. No amount of capacity management would help that.

With respect to Leschi, your argument makes more sense to me, although I admit that it seems unfair to me to move the Montessori program for the second time (it moved from MLK to T.T. Minor when MLK closed) and into a school that is not doing well. That's not a numbers argument, I realize.

adhoc said...

Seattle Citizen you corrected me for saying..."She believed, and reported to the board, that "the committee" thought that schools that did not meet this criteria should not be considered alt schools."

Then in the same post you said..."We in the committee came up with criteria that we thought represented "true" alt; other programs aren't alternative schools, they are non-traditional schools."

What is the difference?

Beth Bakeman said...

Lendlees,

As requested, we have a new thread for the Superintendent's Final Recommendations.

seattle citizen said...

ad hoc,
the difference is that schools could be considered "alt" if they had some mix (we didn't determine a mix, nor did we indicate how far along on any given indicator would be "enough"; that job would the job of whoever uses the checklist, namely the CAO, Carla Santorno, who called the committee. Our job was to determine (using the Alt Coalition's document and the Alt Policy C54.00) what indicators would indicate evidence of any given item on the checklist. Our job was not to determine which schools were alt or not.
If one were to use the list as we imagined it would be used, a school would declare itself to be alt (or working to be alt) and the District would work with the school to determine where it excelled on the checklist items and where it might need work,, and maybe some items weren't as heavily weighted as others, etc. We didn't determine that; that's Santorno's and the schools' job. We "merely" assigned indicators to the item, which would serve as guidelines as to whether a school was, in fact, an "alternative" school rather than, say, an art school or a lnaguage school.

So the difference is that while some schools aren't "alternative", they don't WANT to be, and/or the District might not see them as alternative, but some schools that aren't fully alternative, aren't meeting the maximum indicators on each item, are still alterntative because that's their goal.

As you say, there are different alternatives (and one less, now, R.I.P) and they operate differently. Maybe one puts more weight on one checklist item than another. They might act differently. But the twelve items provide a sort of guage.

Some schools have no interest in any of the items, yet still aren't tradtional schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Let's see, Maureen, I know Garfield has a APP cohort but a cohort isn't a program. You say there isn't enough IB but we have two strong programs available that aren't full so there's access to those who want it. You'd have to define "complete schedule" for AP/Honors. For example, Roosevelt has no AP English courses (despite two of the AP English courses being the most popular in the country). Other schools do. You'd have to clarify what that means.

Andre, what is hurting TT Minor is poor building condition and not enough students. That is enough, this round, to close it. I agree the program seems to be gaining strength but obviously not enough.

Someone asked about the selection of the CAC Committee. The CAC committee heads, Ken Alhadeff and Mona Bailey, were asked to head to the committee. Ken is a businessman and serves on the Board of Regents for WSU. Mona is a former deputy superintendent for SPS and educator. They were asked (not selected) because of their backgrounds and stature in the community. They both agreed to serve. The Board then posted applications and then picked 12 members of the Committee to represent each quadrant of the city based on background, service to the community, cultural/ethnic background, etc. I have no idea how many people applied or how the Board made their decisions. I felt honored to serve and felt that the Committee had a good combination of people.

Dorothy said...

Mel: "Let's see, Maureen, I know Garfield has a APP cohort but a cohort isn't a program."

What do you mean Melissa when Charlie just argued that Ted Howard turned it into a program and that there's yellow bus service for APP kids at GHS because the state will pay for it because they are a special needs program. So it's a program when it suits the district's needs and it isn't otherwise?

And if they are just a cohort, with critical mass for lots of AP classes, then there ought to be a way to spread the critical mass around to ensure that *all* high school students have access to such a wide range of AP courses.

Bottom line is, Melissa (and others). Do you support APP continuing to be a cohesive cohort (and program) for 12 grades but only offers students opportunities to enroll in 8 grades? Logistically, the answer is that kids cannot enroll in APP in high school because there isn't any room at Garfield for them. That's the real reason for the artificial talk about cohort.

Look at Lowell. Most kids don't need the cohort in first grade. Many parents don't even know their child is advanced, don't even think about it until later grades when school is not working out, they come to Lowell often out of desperation. So kids who learn that they need the cohort early enough are lucky, they get a seat. Kids who don't realize they need the cohort until too late. Kids who need the cohort but for a variety of factors cannot thrive at WMS? Well, too bad.

Let's see what happens in a few years after the design teams do their stuff. As Charlie said, WMS APP is quite weak. And for some kids, it's a far commute. So now, APP Middle school is being reinvented and will be in two locations, an easier commute for more kids. So what's going to happen? Perhaps many of the APP eligible kids who do not attend WMS for a variety of reasons will be tempted back to APP for middle school. Would Garfield be able to support such an increase in APP kids? Want a stronger middle school APP program? Better be prepared for some changes in high school.

TechyMom said...

Andre,
I get that the two programs together make for a better environment. I'm sure that is one of the things that attracted some families to Minor. I understand that is a huge and painful change for your family.

But, to say that Montessori is part of a natural diversity seems a bit of a stretch, since the Montessori program has only been at Minor for two years. The Montessori program had a similar effect on MLK (I was involved in some of the early work there), and will likely have it on Leschi. Leschi is a nice, new, big building. The proximity to parks and Lake Washington beaches seems like it could be a good fit for the outdoor components of Montessori eduction. The district is unlikely to close it, and the Montessori will have room to grow there. The plan already has it expanding to K-5.

I think the combination of APP and Spectrum would have a similar effect to that of the Montessori, mixing kids from different backgrounds, and even from different parts of the city. Adding Spectrum makes it more of, well, a spectrum of students, rather than highly gifted and regular ed, with nothing in between. There are likely to be families with one kid in Spectrum and another in APP, and it would be nice for them to be able to go to the same school. Central cluster families who expect their kids to qualify for advanced learning will probably also choose it as a Kindergarten (It will be on my list, as will Montessori at Leschi). I think you will see a diverse group of kids there. It's going to be ok, and it's a heck of a lot better than the last plan.

Another consideration is that the current plan doesn't seem to have the TT Minor teachers moving with the students. Since they're all Spectrum qualified, moving spectrum there would give them an advantage in applying for the jobs at Lowell. It seems like keeping most of the teachers would be even more important to keeping the community together than keeping the Montessori classes would. I'm not part of that community, so I could be wrong on that, but it seems logical.

So, maybe I'll see you at Lowell next year. I think it will be ok.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not saying the district doesn't think APP at Garfield isn't a program. I don't. You put a large group of kids together who have mostly been together for 8 years and move them to the one school with the most AP because of their existence. Would Garfield have so many AP courses without them? Likely not but they would have some.

What I'm asking is what do people consider equitable for each high school to have in the way of AP and Honors courses? Is it 5, 10, or the top 5 most popular AP courses nationally? Is is okay to do it like Hale where you are in regular ed with a little AP teaching and after-school work to pass the AP test? Is Honors separate or is it okay to have regular ed with additional work to have Honors?

I'm not so hung up over the amount of AP at Garfield. Some schools are just going to have more but that doesn't mean there won't be access to those classes at other schools. And, as I said previously, there are two IB programs in the district, one in the north and one in the south, both good and neither full.

G said...

Instead of destroying the high coveted program at Garfield, wouldn't it be a better idea to replicate it at Roosevelt? Build it and they will come? There is certainly demand at Roosevelt for a broader AP curriculum. Please don't advocate taking away the only strong high school south of the ship canal!

uxolo said...

Franklin's classical program was closed up about 5 years ago. The supt must not be looking at high school programs and who wants what.

Because the APP testing stops at grade 8, I would anticipate her next move is to close up the gateway to GHS. She hasn't really demonstrated support of instruction for gifted students. Nothing has ever been suggested for Spectrum students at the high school level. Why not?

Dorothy said...

I am not advocating the end of GHS and APP. I am saying that it is not appropriate to have entry to a program limited to before 8th grade. I am also saying that there may be an unintended consequence of beefing up middle school APP. Since there has already been talk of dismantling the APP middle -> high feeder route, partly because of issues of crowding, IF a beefed up middle school program attracts more eligible kids, that may be the tipping point from the district's perspective. A more successful APP middle school program may very well mean the end of APP getting assigned to GHS.

These kids have not been together for 8 years already. Perhaps 10-15% have been, not more. Most of them have been together 4-5 years. How much value to their education is that "cohort"? How much is the cohort the program?

Here's a hypothetical. Let's say one has a child who is pretty much OK, but not completely doing well. Very bright, so compensates, but you are not sure what they are compensating for. Teachers pretty much say he's fine, needs to mature a little, needs some help organizing or social skills, but no biggee, don't worry. Then 6th grade ends in disaster. But you chalk it up to adolescence, maybe some less than stellar teachers and a few other circumstances. Then 7th grade starts out worse. You finally suspect there is something deeper, and adolescence has just exacerbated it. So you get an evaluation and on November 1st you finally get an answer, the specialist says, Well, he has Aspergers, or Tourette's, or Dyslexia, or something. You are upset, but actually now everything makes sense. Let's move forward and fortunately, the school district has programs to help kids like yours. So you contact them and are told, "Sorry. You are too late with diagnosis. We do have a program that would be suitable, but your very last chance to enroll was Oct 31 of 7th grade. Too bad for you you missed it. We have your kid for 5 years, 6 months longer, but there's no way he will get into the program that was tailor made for kids like him." How does that appeal?

I (and others) would not keep bringing this up if there was more equity in high school. There should be much more uniformity to HS curriculum offerings, especially in 9th and 10th grades. All schools should offer honors and regular (and perhaps remedial, but that's a different discussion) courses in all LA, SS, Science and Math, perhaps Foreign Language, starting in 9th grade. If only one school has the critical mass for AP Senior Advanced Butt Scratching, well so be it. But if one school offers freshmen Honors Biology and another school has a half year of 9th grade mickey mouse science and only a dismal 10 grade biology, then that needs fixing.

The thing is, ALL large comprehensive high schools have a cohort of highly capable students. GHS just acknowledges that it is important for that cohort to succeed they need challenging work and they are allowed and encouraged to be in classes together. Other kids are encouraged to join that cohort and work at an Honors level, instead of other schools, like RHS and Hale, perhaps, who think allowing an advanced cohort to exist is distasteful and unfair. RHS chooses instead to "spread those 9th and 10th graders around" using the highly capable and/or motivated kids as resources, role models for other kids instead of taking their education seriously.

Maureen said...

I agree with Dorothy, but I feel like I need to make the point that there is no academically or logically justifiable reason for the current High School APP assignment process.

My point is not that APP at GHS should be disbanded. My point is that if it is valuable to the kids who are admitted (based on their earlier test scores) then it should be open to the other kids who are qualified to be there and would also find it valuable. As Dorothy has pointed out, there are many reasons why kids might not be tested or moved earlier. They should have the same option of joining the cohort of their peers at GHS.

It is irrelevant that spaces (currently) exist at the two IB programs. WMS APP students are not guaranteed a space at some random HS that happens to offer some number of AP or IB classes. The WMS APP kids are given spots at GHS because it supposedly meets their particular educational needs. Why isn't that the case for other qualified students?

The fact is that, no new kids are admitted to the GHS APP because SPS does not choose to increase the percentage of highly capable students at GHS. There is no academic justification, there is no logical consistency to the process. There is no attempt to determine which SPS students would benefit the most from access to GHS. That is not the right way to distribute the limited resources that we have.

It seems to me that if the size of the program at GHS must be limited, then SPS should either evaluate everyone who is interested and open the spots to the highest performers or devote those spots to kids whose neighborhood High Schools offer the least opportunity for those students.

In reality, I expect that the proposed split of elementary and MS APP will lead to a split or, more likely, fragmentation of the HS APP. I don't know that this is the best option for any of the kids, but it would seem to allign with what the District thinks of as 'increasing access.'

hschinske said...

The IB program is under the aegis of the Advanced Learning Office. I have always gotten the impression that IB at Ingraham was at one time intended to be a second option for APP students, but for whatever reason the district didn't go in that direction. Some APP-qualified students do go there, of course, but they get no preference, and it's not a route that gets pushed particularly.

Helen Schinske

G said...

I would imagine that the small and shrinking reference area that Roosevelt draws from is larger than it would be if the APP preference to Garfield were eliminated. Many APP students live in the NE, and if they were mandatorily assigned to their neighborhood high school, Roosevelt would be pretty severely impacted. Garfield seems to be able to accomodate the non-APP students in the reference area and beyond who choose to attend the school, and still has room for the APP cohort. Roosevelt's boundaries seem to shrink every year, with kids living relatively close to the school not getting in. Who would be bumped to make room for the neighborhood APP kids at Roosevelt and Ballard?

The problem seems to be the reluctance of the administration at Roosevelt and Hale to raise the bar. How can encouraging high school students to excel be considered distasteful? A high achieving cohort certainly exists at Roosevelt - it seems the problem has a ready solution. If Garfield can make it happen, surely Roosevelt can too.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The problem seems to be the reluctance of the administration at Roosevelt and Hale to raise the bar. How can encouraging high school students to excel be considered distasteful?"

Whoa! I can say very forcefully that the administration at Roosevelt is not opposed to raising the bar. The district asked Roosevelt to try an AP course across an entire grade level and it is. Roosevelt has a high number of AP and Honors courses. They do a lot to encourage students to take higher level courses. They are going to a full year of science for 9th grade in the fall.

Now, how the issue of not having any AP English courses came about is still unclear to me (but I know that fairly soon I'll have it sorted out). I also know that, right now, the district is moving towards a more common curriculum in LA for all the high schools which may or may not include AP English at Roosevelt. This new common focus is to start in the fall so things are moving quickly.

I cannot speak for Hale. But please, don't say Roosevelt administration has a reluctance to raise the bar. The evidence isn't there.

Dorothy said...

"Whoa! I can say very forcefully that the administration at Roosevelt is not opposed to raising the bar. The district asked Roosevelt to try an AP course across an entire grade level and it is. Roosevelt has a high number of AP and Honors courses. They do a lot to encourage students to take higher level courses. They are going to a full year of science for 9th grade in the fall."

Perhaps saying Administration is too much a short cut. Partly it may be administrators (past or present) and partly it is department philosophy.

Are you accurate in your comment that the district asked RHS to do the AP HG experiment? Because I thought Vance totally shot that rumor down and insists it came from the SS department.

And what was their reasoning to insist that all students take the same course, at the same pace and the same depth? RHS SS department and Principal Vance, believes that that is inequitable to do otherwise. That's their reasoning for insisting that all 10th graders take AP HG. It is inequitable (and racist) for students to self-select to be with other highly motivated students in faster paced classes. Do you want me to dig up the papers justifying AP HG? Because that language is there in black and white. How in the world does that align with RHS administrators being in favor of raising the bar?

As for whether the AP HG course is raising the bar, are you following the course? Do you have a child or a friend's child in the course? Have you seen the level of homework, asked them at dinner what they did that day, looked over their assignments? It is an interesting course, but it is Not a College Level Course. It does Not have more rigor than ninth grade SS and that wasn't much. It by no means compares to the amount or the depth of work expected in college or in AP Euro.

Are you correct that the 9th grade science change is happening next year? That's great if it is, but this is the first I have heard about it. At the last PTSA meeting, Vance and the Science dept folks there said it was being considered. They gave no concrete plans. Are there updates on that? My point still stands that other schools offer biology in 9th grade. And my point still is that 9th and 10 grade Science classes, no matter their curriculum, ought to have a student selected Honors version available. A self selected cohort of students looking for more challenge.

AP courses are typically only available to 11th and 12th graders due to prerequisites. GHS and Ballard each have some honors courses available to 9th graders, and isn't it the case that 10th graders at GHS can choose AP Euro?

Why not have honors for LA in ninth grade? Why not have real honors instead of fake honors in LA in other grades. Has your child done the honors for LA? My son has, since now that he is a 10th grader he can access it. Learning how to give tours at the Henry required two Saturdays. Then giving the tours required him to Miss Other Classes! Requiring them to write about their experiences isn't bad, but isn't even being graded by their regular teacher. I don't even know who will read it or if it will get a grade or feedback. There's a mandatory after school wrap-up discussion as well. In addition, they have to read two books, write something (again, not bad, but who will read and give feedback or grade?) and attend a discussion on each. So far my son has attended one of the book seminars. And you want to know what? What is spurring this comment and total irritation at this whole "do it yourself honors" BS? He came home jazzed that day. Said that that hour discussion was the most thoughtful one he's been part of, that it was the best hour he has spent at RHS ever. Broke my heart. Why are there only 4 hours per year, after school, when he can expect that level of rigor and discussion?

Just like the idea that in order to get more kids ready for APP we need to beef up regular classes, ALOs and Spectrum, we can seriously beef up AP participation in 11th and 12th grades by treating the 9th and 10th graders with respect, allowing the access to challenging honors courses in all the core areas.

Maureen said...

This thread probably should be taken offline since it is really just of interest to current and prospective RHS people. As I typed it I realized that we are fortunate to have access to a level of rigor and range of courses that Rainier Beach or Cleveland families can only dream of. But, that said...

Given Dorothy's feedback on the current implementation of AP HG, I'm wondering if there might be a critical mass of 9th grade and incoming parents who would be willing to challenge the requirement. (And the sooner the better, given that tours are starting.)

On Harium's blog, an anonymous poster said ....I suggest that next year's 10th grade parents (this year's 9th grade students) "opt out of AP HG" for their children, take it somewhere else(anywhere else) and challenge whether the school district can actually allow for DIFFERENT graduation requirements in ONE school without school board review, public input and making this a systemic change throughout the district.

If it were possible to take it in one semester, I wouldn't take issue with it (it sounds like an interesting course), but the idea of my kid being required to spend another entire year on a course no more challenging than WH1 is frustrating (he is having a perfectly good experience in WH1 and all of his courses at Roosevelt so far but he could definitely be more challenged).

Similarly, the idea of a full year of freshman science at Roosevelt has me a little worried--will it just be an expanded version of the pre-science science they do now? Will it create a stronger reason to keep freshmen out of Bio AND prevent them from taking health or an elective in 9th grade? GHS is looking into offering AP Bio to their freshman, why is RHS so bent on filling our kids' semesters with required, unchallenging classes? The math sequence seems to work well at Roosevelt. Why isn't that a model for the other subjects?

Dorothy said...

Well, sure this is kind of a RHS thing, but I don't see why not continue the discussion on line because there isn't a good off-line way to do it AND some of the underlying themes are important and can be helpful for any parent to think about and perhaps act on.

Last Spring, especially late Spring, I kept running into parents of 8th and 9th graders who were unhappy with the AP HG thing, but there had never been any communications system that got folks together and talking. I had protested up the line, but had no way of knowing who else had, or what responses they got. I didn't even know until too late that there was some organized student protest as well.

Perhaps the only way to organize is to go through the RHS student directory and directly email all 9th grade parents there.

As for response, the answer I got from Susan Derse (who had been chosen by the district to respond, not who I had written to) was couched in the same words of equity and increased rigor. Coded language of combatting institutionalized racism and assuming (accusing?) me of wanting the status quo (perhaps even implying I was racist for my protest of the changes to the status quo?).

Frankly, I don't think AP HG will survive in its present form because the district is seriously looking at alignment in the HS. (At least that's the talk.)

What I think is valuable from this discussion in this present blog form is that as the district works on aligning high schools, I argue that we need to adjust philosophical thinking to be more like GHS. I stand behind my statement that some of the teachers at RHS (with support from Vance) find it distasteful to accommodate the highly capable cohort, at least in 9th and 10th grade.)

The highly capable cohort of 9th and 10th graders at RHS is treated like a resource, not a group whose academic needs ought to be served (at least in some departments).

On the other hand, the math department seems strong. Three teachers so far (one in summer stretch) and all have been good. I haven't even heard rumors of bad ones. (Perhaps the fact that the department chair has taught at Summer Stretch for years is part of it?) My son has also experienced strong foreign language department, a teacher who has challenged him well.