Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bell Times and Transportation

I am writing a separate post on the discussion about high school bell times from yesterday's meeting of the Board's Curriculum and Instruction Committee.

First, Sherry asked Carla Santorno about the academic impacts as none were stated when this issue was brought up at the last Board meeting. Both Sherry and Harium seemed to think that just discussing it from an operations viewpoint was lacking. Carla basically said that this change would not affect academics one way or the other. (Interestingly, Carla was asked to present something at the next Board meeting about the academic use of a later start time. If she said there was none in this particular option being presented, I'll be interested to see what she says at the meeting.)

Second, the issue of why some K-8s/high schools were not on the list was brought up. Michael Tolley, the high school director, said he wasn't sure why that happened for K-8s but that Nova and Center School were left off the list because they have no yellow bus service and are strictly Metro. There was some vague talk from Carla about where schools are located that affected which ones were on the list. I don't know what she meant and there was no follow-up.

Third, Harium and Sherry both expressed concern over APP at Lowell and Thurgood Marshall having to change start times because they had heard from constituents. Carla said that she had asked Transportation about taking K-8s and APP off the list.

There was some discussion about "hub stops/"cluster stops" which are stops that are more centrally located in some areas and allow buses to bypass narrow streets and save money on gas and ride times for students. Apparently this is happening in Wallingford and seems to be working. There was discussion about little kids out on arterials but it seems like there is always a parent who watches over a group of kids waiting.

So high school. And here's where I got irritated. Carla said, during the K-8 discussion, that she wanted consistency. The district's Transportation department is talking about standardized bell times and there is this whole push for alignment of start times. But it's really about money.

Hale doesn't want to change its bell time. I get why; they are used to an 8:30 am start time. And, since whatever Special Ed they have doesn't require yellow bus service, they might get to keep their start time. As long as the high school is fully on Metro, they don't care what time it starts at. I'm not out to get Nova or Center or Hale but how is this fair? The alignment doesn't seem to matter if it's not saving money.

Michael Tolley said that Ammon McWashington, the director of Transportation, was trying to establish a standard but that there would be flexibility. Well, not if you have yellow bus service at your high school.

Basically, it's about the law saying that Special Ed students can't start at different times than regular ed. And, many Special Ed students ride yellow buses (the ones that go to Nova and Center apparently take taxis).

Of course, this begs the question (and Special Ed parents help me out here): what happens if the Assignment plan changes program placement? I thought I understood from discussions here that the district is moving towards having Special Ed students served in all buildings to save transporting them all over the city. (And it's not just Special Ed. I know we have one yellow bus at Roosevelt to transport Laurelhurst students because there is no Metro service in that neighborhood.)

Also, Sherry said that in her discussions with Transportation staff, if the technology could catch up they might be able to squeeze in another 15 minutes at some point. (Again, with our district not being up-to-date on our technology, we are playing catch-up.)

Honestly, I am not mad because there is yellow bus service for Special Ed nor do I begrudge Hale their start time. But why all the talk about standardization if there are to be exceptions? So the point really isn't to have all the high schools start at the same time but to keep finding ways to save money and using standardization as a reason but not really following through.

Very frustrating.

So my feeling is that they will back off of changing the start times for K-8s. Write your Board member and let them know how you feel. As for high schools, again, it seems most will go to 8:00 am but with the Assignment plan changing and shifting program placements, who knows? (And if things do shift, I hope the Board won't be surprised if other high schools ask for the same flexibility that Hale is asking for their own students.)

98 comments:

Dorothy said...

FYI, Roosevelt apparently also has one (or more?) afternoon only routes that serve areas that only have metro service with rush hour express buses. Therefore, they can take the bus in the morning, but cannot get home in the afternoon so they get yellow service then. However, late start days? They are SOL and have to find some other way to get to school unless they want to show up a couple hours early (and I think the school really really frowns on that).

SPSMom said...

Well I am encouraged, for once, as if they do back off from changing the K-8 and the Lowell/JM start times it is in part due to board members listening to the concerns expressed by parents and the board pushing back on our behalf. That is a good thing!

In terms of HS start times, I really don't think it is unfair that some HS have a later start time. To me I look at it as just being one advantage to compensate for not having things like lot's AP offerings, an award winning music program, and the academies that the larger HS's offer. It's just a trade off students make when deciding on Roosevelt v. Hale for example.

I also do not think that the distrct is looking to "standardize" down to start/end times, my feeling is that standardizing is about curriculum.


In any case, I will be happy to see the return on 9am start times to any school serving our youngest students, traveling the furthest. Sometimes I really have to wonder what these people think when they make these proposals.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, the district said they wanted to standardize the start times, not me.

If you as a parent want to look at the start times as a trade-off with other things, fine but that's not how the Board should see it. Hale could have more AP - it makes the choice not to. Hale could have academies if it wants to but it chooses not to. Comparing start times with programing is comparing apples with oranges.

TechyMom said...

Start times are something parents consider as part of school choice, just like uniforms, recess, and programming. 8am is a non-starter for me, meaning that I'd trade APP programing for a 9am start time. How is that not a trade-off? Similarly, I might accept uniforms for Montessori, but not for a plain-old general ed program. Also a trade-off.

Would I choose a later start time over AP classes? Well, when I was in HS I sure would have, since I slept through or missed my 1st period Algebra II class enough that I barely passed it. Would I encourage my child to make that choice? Depends on the kid. For a kid who's just not a morning person, that extra 30 minutes of sleep might a very large difference in their performance.

I think these are things parents and students consider as part of the trade-offs they make when choosing a school. Maybe they're apples and oranges, but they're all weighed as fruit.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, my point is that Hale has choices. it can start at 8:30 or 8:15 or 8:00. The other high schools that have yellow bus service have no choice.

But it's not a done deal for anyone and as I said, anything could change if the Assignment plan changes program placements.

sonicgal1 said...

Can anyone who was at that Bd Mtg give feedback as to timeline? ie, when will Carla speak w/Transp. and make the decision whether to pull Lowell/TM fr the earlier start time (the only K-5's on the current list)? Pushing start time fr 9 to 9:15 shouldnt be an issue for choosing a school, but moving it an hour or more, is. Thus, does anyone know if there is a definite commitment to get this settled before Open Enrollment closes? Is the list fluid, or did you get the impression they would try to keep all K-5's (and maybe K-8's as well) off the 8 am list? Thank You!

Dorothy said...

If we truly had choice at high school level, then having different start times might be considered as one of the pros/cons of a specific choice. Right now, a later start time at Hale might be considered simply a consolation prize by some.

Given that there still are some hold-out yellow bus routes at Roosevelt, how about post-assignment plan? Depending on what the boundaries are, one might find even Hale needing a yellow route or two? Hmmm?

jason said...

Techy Mom - I remember that you had mentioned being interested in Gen Ed at Lowell and/or TMarshall.

Lowell and Thurgood Marshall are both rumored to have uniforms for all populations in the school.

Maureen said...

First, What is the value of standardizing start times? When I first saw the proposal, I assumed that they didn't literally mean 8:00 and 9:15. I figured actual start times would vary from say, 7:50 to 8:10 and 9:05 to 9:25. That allows nearby schools to share buses. Actual standardized start times would limit the conceivable routes and potentially lead to increased routes and thus costs. Am I misunderstanding something?

And second, Is there actually a law that prohibits Special Ed students from being offered an extended day? It makes perfect sense to me (and TechyMom too if I remember correctly) that those kids (and ELL kids too) could really benefit from receiving nonacademic or support services before the start of the official school day. (Autism Mom can you field this one?)

Shannon said...

I am still a bit confused. How and when is the actual decision on start times made? When can we expect to know the outcome of the discussion among all the parties.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Timeline. I don't know any specific timeline except they would like to start this in September. I suspect a motion will be brought at the next Board meeting (March 4th) and then they would vote at the next Board meeting after that (March 18th). You could e-mail your Board member and ask. From listening to just the 3 Board members present, I don't think they feel there is a good reason to change the start times for APP/K-8. But that could change if the other Board members are more convinced. Tell your Board member how you feel.

Yes, there is a law that says that Special Ed and Regular Ed have to start at the same time (this is what was said at the meeting yesterday).

TechyMom said...

re: uniforms. I'm not a big fan, but I would accept them for the right program. I am considering two private schools with uniforms and one without. In the past, SPS schools with uniforms have also had very strict behavioral rules that I beleive to be detrimental to the development of critical thinking. Since my D has been raised thus far to question authority, I suspect that she would have a very hard time in such a school. So, it's not uniforms in themselves I object to, but the other types of things that have gone along with uniforms in SPS schools in the past. If Lowell and TM encourage critical thinking, questioning authority, and acceptance of peers as they are, I could live with uniforms.

8AM would be a lot harder to accept. Getting up that early would have an impact on MY work performance (as it did in HS Algebra class). I could see that costing me a lot over the next 6 years, maybe a lot more than private school.

I'm touring both Lowell and TM in the middle of March. I'm hoping they will have made the uniform decision by then, and the start time decsions before the end of open enrollment.

Robert said...
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sonicgal1 said...

Mel - thnx for the educated guess re timeline, however we've been told quite clearly that this is NOT something the Bd will vote on at all, but rather that they will simply provide input to "the tri-fecta" (MGJ, CAO Carla, and Don Kennedy). Apparently THEY will decide Yes or No to the whole proposal; not sure if it goes school by school, or as a whole package as provided by Transp, as w/the closures. Pple on this blog - listen up! If you think its unreasonable for ANY K-5 (or K-8??) to be on this list, DO write to the Bd and Transp (TBishop, Ammon) and the "Tri-fecta" above (not sure what else to call them :) and insist that this get 100% confirmed prior to 3/31. I was told by my friend who works as a senior route coordinator in SPS Transp., that the list of 8 am schools is in fact subject to change and schools could come on and off depending on final load factor and other aspects which wont be confirmed til the summer. SO - if u think this is an impt factor re yr school choice, only hope is to get them to agree that no current elementary should go into 1st tier bell list.

Robert said...

In this original post Melissa you said you felt this will be remedied. I guess I would like to share your optimism but I was equally optimistic that they wouldn't divide the APP community and create spectrum on steroids in their efforts to replicate a successful program.

At one of the early meetings when the Lowell split was first discussed a brave Lowell teacher stood up and put forward that she believes that MGJ had sinister designs to break up jobs and I guess add more charter schools. Well as skeptical as I was then... I am much less so now.

Oh sure they were responsive to the dozens of parents that lived outside the Lowell walk route maps... But candidly, how did they make that mistake in the first place!

As an APP parent I feel a bit above the fray compared to the Summit or spec ed families but as these misaligned mandates continue to ensnaring elementary APP community that isn't replicating the success it's just fostering more cynicism.

Finally, please don't get me wrong as I applaud all those that shared their point of view at the final closure meeting at Lowell but why is it that the only APP teacher on the Lowell design team was one of the few public voices completely in favor for the split? As if the tables weren't tilted enough?

none1111 said...

Melissa said: "Carla said that she had asked Transportation about taking K-8s and APP off the list."

Call me pedantic, but I can read this as a past-tense statement, or future-looking statement.

The former would be rather negative, as she'd already asked and got pushback. The latter would be positive, as in we have hope that this portion of the proposed changes could be scrapped.

Could you perhaps elaborate on that part of the discussion?

amsiegel said...

Since the uniform discussion seems about to migrate up here, I thought I'd repeat my (admittedly hyperbolic) reaction to the question from one of the threads below:

Two points on uniforms:

(1) Everyone knows that Seattle has a two-tier system of elementary schools, particularly in the Central Cluster. It is startling to me that smart, seemingly progressive people maintain a uniform policy that so clearly marks for the outside world which tier a school belongs to.

(2)It also shocks me how far we have slid over the last thirty or forty years with regard to valuing individuality and self-expression. Back in the 1970s, there was a fairly strong consensus among parents and educators against uniforms and many scholars and lawyers thought public school uniforms actually violated the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Fast forward to the early 1990s and both political parties endorse uniforms with a nary a peep about the degree to which such policies stiffle free expression, creativity, individuality, etc. My child is neither an interchangable cog in a government machine nor a supplicant who must check her individuality at the door to obtain the public education that is her right.

It really saddens me that we have dumbed down our expectations of parents, teachers, and students to the point that we think we need to sacrifice individuality and self-expression in order to provide an adequate public education to our children. If we don't let public school elemntary and middle schools students stumble around figuring out who they are and how they want to present themselves to the world, how do we expect them to turn into college students and adults with the ability to develop personalized life goals, take difficult moral stands, or express themselves creatively.

Melissa Westbrook said...

None111, my notes reflect that Carla said she had asked Transportation about the issue of K-8s/K-5s changing to 8 am and would get back to the Committee. I read that to be that she queried someone in Transportation but hasn't received a reply.

I would be willing to believe that all departments have been asked to find cost savings. Transportation did their part with adjusting times to maximize savings. While they could push back on K-8s, I'm not sure they would given that the Board and administration are the ones who have to decide how much money to save versus how many parents they would alienate/enrage. Transportation can only give them the figures. I think Board members have been hearing from parents and probably don't see enough value to keeping K-8/APP on the list.

But, as others have pointed out, things that seem rational from our point of view don't always carry the day. Let your Board member know how you feel.

none1111 said...

Robert said: "Finally, please don't get me wrong as I applaud all those that shared their point of view at the final closure meeting at Lowell but why is it that the only APP teacher on the Lowell design team was one of the few public voices completely in favor for the split? As if the tables weren't tilted enough?"

That wasn't an isolated instance. There is only one APP parent rep on the Lowell design team, and she was one of only a handful of parents supportive of a split as well. We do not have true representation on the Lowell design team. Perhaps we were not meant to have representation, but merely people on the team who would not rock the boat!

Where is the outreach for thoughts from the parents? Nothing on the Lowell Link web site that I've seen.

Where is the PTA involvement? Did everyone give up and go home after the split was approved? We should be having meetings where our opinions are bundled up and passed along to the design team(s). There is more collective knowledge in the parent body and staff by 100-fold than there is on the design team.

We need to continue to be active and squeaky, or bad things will happen. One example toward the end of this earlier post:
http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2009/02/
app-where-do-we-go-from-here.html

none1111 said...

jason said: "Lowell and Thurgood Marshall are both rumored to have uniforms for all populations in the school."

Where have you heard rumors about uniforms at Lowell??

Thurgood Marshall has uniforms, and there's apparently great debate on the design team about how that will play out at TM. But I've heard no such rumor surrounding Lowell. Then again, there hasn't been much (anything) substantive reported out from the Lowell design team.

none1111 said...

Oops, that was supposed to read "(anything?)" -- with a question mark in the last post. Clicked Publish too quickly.

Shouldn't there be some work product coming out of all the design teams by now?!

Robert said...

none1111: sounds like this steady ship could be called the Titanic II

jason said...

None1111:

TT Minor currently has uniforms (they apparently have a more formal uniform than TMarshall), and their principal is coming to Lowell.

Information on uniforms at specific schools is here:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/elementary_guide_0910.pdf
See page 22

It is my understanding that the new principals at Lowell and TMarshall are leaning heavily towards uniforms in gen ed and APP at both schools and they make the decision.

While I am not in favor of uniforms, I am also disturbed that more and more bombs keep coming out from the district. How many more of these are there? Why don't they tell us about all the changes all at once so that we can decide if we should stay or go? The district is so passive aggressive.

jason said...
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jason said...

My computer is showing the link I left previously in a strange way.

In case the link looks wrong on your computer, the information is found in the 09-10 enrollment guide on the school district website. As I said before, it's on page 22.

TechyMom said...

I was willing to take a chance on an unproven general ed program, based on the promise of an ALO and some rubbing-off of APP cleverness. But, and unproven general ed program with uniforms and an 8am start time? The negatives are starting to add up pretty quickly.

Dorothy said...

none1111 spell it out!

Boycott WASL. That's what you mean, right? Convenient for parents that it hasn't been administered this year yet.

I'm willing to give folks the benefit of the doubt (well, not really, but sometimes) but the start time thing is just so completely over the top. The very idea that it is fluid and they will determine it sometime later, perhaps even August and every school's start time is at their whim.

Frankly, this calls for a full-district wasl boycott.

What I want to know is, what about the teacher's union? When RHS started talking about changing start time, one of the stumbling blocks was union related.

Oh right, MGJ doesn't like unions.

Central said...

does it seem that some of these parents have jumped to a negative impression right away about school uniforms/ if so lets try to think of some positive things about school uniforms

school uniforms can be an equalizer between kids from economic and cultural backgrounds/ to lets kids see past the clothes to the person within

school uniforms can give kids a feeling of belonging to that school

school uniforms prevents fights caused from misunderstanding that another child clothes are opposing gang colors

spectrum kids at john muir wear the same uniforms as the rest of the kids/ without problems

it is only a white polo shirt with some blue slacks nothing military and not a real big deal

to white or middle class parents do uniforms maybe signal descent to the blue collar class/ to many others uniforms can shows getting serious about school and respect for yourself

conclusion/ open your mind/ think past middle class assumptions or appearances/ not let this fear go beyond to other issues beyond the uniforms

school uniforms will not damage childrens individuality they get used to their school clothes

sonicgal1 said...

Re Uniforms at Lowell/TM and Design Team input:
*YES re uniforms - I have attended mtgs where this hot-button issue is being discussed and it is very much in discussion for Lowell as well as TM (for all the kids - would be v weird if only the non-APP kids wore uniforms, dont you think?) And thus it is listed as "in discussion" in the Enrollment Guide
*If you feel strongly about this or any other "cultural merging" issue or cnstructive (?) idea (as thats what the Design Teams are supposedly working on) you have every right to email the PTA Bd, the incoming principal(s); and most especially, the Design Team members. Get on the Lowell Link and email them, let them know how you feel! They're already getting tons of email on this and lots of other issues.

dj said...

Central, I haven't jumped to a negative impression about the uniforms. My daughter went to T.T. Minor and wore a uniform. My opposition to uniforms -- and my aversion to having the government tell me how to dress my child and tell my child that certain clothes are the government standard for kids to wear is one hardened by experience.

amsiegel said...

With all due respect, Central, my opposition to uniforms is rooted in the traditional American ideals that the government has no business telling my child what to wear or conditioning her receipt of basic public services on her giving up her individuality and creative self-development, not on some "middle class" value set that I need to "get over." If you think your kid will take school more seriously if he or she wears a white polo shirt and navy slacks, then, by all means, dress him/her that way. But if you want to tell my child what to wear, the burden of proof that such a code is necessary ought to rest squarely on you.

dan dempsey said...

Melissa said:
"Mr. Tolley said that the survey had been done and the Steering Committee created in order to align high school procedures. The district was out of compliance with a state law on attendance and corrected that last fall. The district was also out of compliance with Board policy on failing grades ("E") grades and had been using "N". That, too, has been corrected.

So how did the district wind up out of compliance with state law? It would be interesting to see when and how that happened? ... Way back whenever this occurred did the district just say "We don't care about state law?"

Ditto for how did the grading practice got out of compliance with Board Policy regarding Failing grades?

Is it now a big deal to be out of compliance with board policy on things? When did this start? It surely was no big deal for the Board to vote 7-0 to ignore board policy when extending MG-J's contract in June 2008. The promotion/ non promotion policies have been ignored for over a decade. When it comes to concern about board policy this concern seems to very selective. If it suits the board or admin then they are concerned otherwise not.

Jamal said...

Central had the point of view with merit which was let's all keep an open mind to other ways of thinking. There's no set of universally accepted traditional American ideals. I didn't see those words "get over" in Central's commentary above.

We enjoy a diverse system which means some parents might want school uniforms when others don't. It seems at least one parent here doesn't mind their school uniforms, but that opinion doesn't require them to have any burden of proof or defense of their school's policies.

Uniforms aren't government mind control, nor can they inspire respect for school. They are just clothes.

Making too big a deal of uniforms could side track this new blend of school. Let's all come together and dialogue to make this merger a success. Show the establishment that we can come together as a learning community and consider all voices.

I can live with or without the details like whether or not we have uniforms, as long as those priorities as teachers and classrooms are set in place ready by the first day of school, at the reasonable starting hour of 9 am.

none1111 said...

jason said: "TT Minor currently has uniforms (they apparently have a more formal uniform than TMarshall)"

So they have. Can't believe I didn't see/know that previously.

I don't particularly like notion of uniforms, but as TechyMom said, I would tolerate them for the right program/reasons. I don't really think APP qualifies at that kind of program, nor do I think using uniforms to attempt to equalize kids across 2 very different programs is necessarily the right thing to do, but I'm not wildly adamant about it either way.

Slicing up the classrooms to force-mix kids in PCP however, is a terrible idea. The staff has had some conversations around this recently, and it's just not a good plan. Various reasons are on the other app-where-do-we-go-from-here thread, plus there are apparently issues with not always being able to keep track of all the younger kids as it is, even with just a single PCP per classroom happening at once. People seem to be in la-la-land, dreaming of some idyllic world rather than thinking clearly about the needs of the kids. Many of which are very young.

And the 8am start time would just be a deal-breaker. For us, and it sounds like a lot of other families. Fortunately, it sounds like that is being reconsidered.

All-in-all, whether we continue in the program will depend on the overall blend of all these changes. The split is already a big negative as compared with previous years. All this information needs to be spelled out VERY clearly during the enrollment period!

agibean1958 said...

none1111, I just don't understand your huge concern over mixing classrooms for PCP classes.

at my daughter's other schools, they have always had some kind of mixed classes in PCP and at the New School, for reading and math as well, at least for some topics in 3rd grade.

It's not rocket science-you take say, half of classroom A and send them to art, the other half to library. Half of classroom B goes to art, the other half to library. The kids get to know one another, the teachers in both rooms get a free period. Simple, really.

You go on about this as if it isn't done ANY WHERE else, and yet, it is, and kids don't get lost or harmed. MY daughter managed to get to and from her PCP classes and back, along with all of her friends, from the very first week of kindergarten.

There's nothing idyllic about it-kids don't NEED to be with the same 25 or so kids every single second of the day, and it's entirely possible to have them switch off in some classes without a problem.

If you're so convinced it's bound to cause harm, just leave the district and call it good.

none1111 said...

Dorothy said: "Boycott WASL. That's what you mean, right? Convenient for parents that it hasn't been administered this year yet.
...
Frankly, this calls for a full-district wasl boycott. "

If you mean specifically about the start times, that wasn't *my* intent. I could probably be swayed, but it's only useful if the vast majority want to go along, and if it doesn't otherwise get resolved.

I would have been all in favor of a WASL boycott to prevent the elementary APP split, but honestly, with the WASL going away after this year, I don't know how powerful a boycott would be.

The families most affected by the ridiculous proposed 8am start times are the elementary APP families, and the district has already shown nothing but contempt for us at every turn over the past few months, so I have little confidence that they care what we think. But I do have some hope that the Board is having some influence on this matter. Crossing fingers.

Then there's still the issue of dicing up classrooms for PCP, and yet another new thing to consider with the uniforms. Is it ever going to end? When do we get to just be parents and spouses again and stop having to fight these battles?!

AutismMom said...

Maureen: And second, Is there actually a law that prohibits Special Ed students from being offered an extended day?

Actually Maureen, the length of both the day and year are IEP team decisions, as is the number of years of education, which may extend until age 21 instead of 12 grades. The law requires that educational service be provided as needed until age 21. Some preschool and kindergarten students with autism are provided with full day service because that is the recommendation of the National Reserearch Council which has published it's findings covering the needs of students with autism. 12 month programming is also recommended by the NCR. ESY (extended school year) should be provided. So, parents who know about the NCR's findings and ask for service referencing the NCR, get additional service... as near as I can tell. If you don't know about it, you get steamrollered "we don't provide that, you need to show a regression in skills, etc."

Students in special education are supposed to received all the same services as everyone else, which includes extra support, extra classroom hours, extra tutoring, special programs and all other after school activities... and as well any required support for access to those activities.

Sahila said...

you get to be parents and spouses again when you (we) band together and put a stop to this whole ridiculous 'cost-cutting management' philosophy...

and that means doing something, rather than just whinging on this and all the other forums...

one thing we could do, is get behind (as in join in as petitioners/complainants) the legal challenge/appeal that's being filed by many affected parents through Chris Jackins to stop the closure process, on the grounds that the District is in non compliance in this process with a whole stack of State regulations, not to mention its own policies....

The appeal needs to be filed within the next week. I have a draft here... I'm going to put my name to is and AS#1 is currently discussing whether to be included as a school body.

For more information, call Chris on 206-219-1687.... leave a message and he'll get back to you...

Robert said...

Uniforms?!?!? Really? This is an issue? Like Jamal and Central I would be OPEN to it. But I doubt I will ever see it the way Alnonymous sees it. I am allergic to such class-ism. I am de-hypnotized by such a self centered point of view. If Lowell was APP dedicated I would consider an 8 am start, uniforms and ice cream for lunch for that matter. But seriously if kids are wearing someone else's clothes to insure they will not have issues with gang rivalries in Seattle's elementary schools then MSM will finally have a REAL story... And oh yeah, APP and as well as SPS would certainly be done for. 10 % percent attrition haha. Oh and Game/set/match MGJ. MI is only twelve minutes from my front door and they want gifted children. I have 4 great private schools closer than my reference schools. I doubt it's that dire but with such far reaching individual voices who can say. The issue is that some kids will have to get out of bed at six am to go to school to save a dollar.... A dollar they will not have because a very successful program has gone out of our city. We should be mourning right now not wondering what we are going to wear to the funeral.

none1111 said...

agibean, was wondering where you went. You ran away from my questions on the other thread.

agi: "at my daughter's other schools, they have always had some kind of mixed classes in PCP and at the New School, for reading and math as well, at least for some topics in 3rd grade."

So please tell me what was/is the purpose of that mixing? Was it mixing similar classrooms? Or different programs? Different grade levels? Was it done to try to bring similar learners together in reading and math? What was so great about your experience in a completely different setting that it compels you to advocate for this at Lowell/TTM?

agi: "If you're so convinced it's bound to cause harm, just leave the district and call it good."

Wow. You really should talk with parents/staff that were at Madrona before making such flippant comments. I have. For all the talk about how the same mistakes won't be made, it's just lip service. No one is listening to, or even asking the folks with firsthand experience.

Face it, there are going to be tensions in the building. There are 2 sets of families with very different needs and agendas. That's life. Hopefully we can live together without huge blow-ups. But if changes are made that are not in the best interest of ALL the kids, that tension is going to be amplified and it's *not* going to be a happy building. Do you want a happy building? We've just had our program ripped in half - for now everyone should be pushing for whatever actions will be the least antagonistic, period.

Robert said...
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Robert said...

well exactly and who is more important a kid that needs enough attention to pass the wasl or one that wont pass it in five years because the education isn't suited to their diagnosis of extremly gifted. As a seattle person i would say give every student enough so they all can make it... but as a parent of one of those folks that pushes the envelope I would say... well you know what i would say...

sonicgal1 said...

Since there seem to be lots of Lowell parents on here I mmight as well mention that mixed-grade classes are also being considered. LOTS of things are being considered. I think its really impt to contact PTA, design team, and principals w/all yr concerns -- because in the end, we'll all have our own priorities, some determined by Design Teams (uniforms, etc); some by principals (scheduling and mixing PCP); and some by nefarious outside forces (bell times). Next yr will be very different from this yr - its NOT the same school(s). It can still be a very good program/school. BUT I can tell you that unless you contact the proper voices re yr issues, they wont know or wont acknowledge that certain issues MUST BE prioritized prior to 3/31. I go to A LOT of mtgs - rt now the Teams and principals are open to ideas. If yr seriously considering leaving APP around any of these issues, PLEASE let "the deciders" know yr concerns (and a few constructive suggestions wouoldnt hurt)Otherwise, this just turns into an extended bitch session w/no real productive outcome.

agibean1958 said...

None1111 I didn't run away, I just got busy with you know, life.

At the New School they moved similar learners together for math and reading-my daughter's reading group, for example, was reading at a higher level than the others. The group books were more difficult, the analysis was expected to be more in-depth. The previous year, she met her best friend in a mixed-class music class. Same grade, mix of kids from classes. They probably wouldn't have met otherwise.

I don't know why her first school split the kids up for some PCP classes, but it wasn't a problem. I do know that the kids got to know each other better that way than just passing each other in the halls. Again, one of her best friends was someone from another class in her grade and they met in PCP.

I don't get-really truly don't get, why this concerns you. First you wrote about ability levels not being able to work together. Yesterday you wrote about kids getting lost-what is it REALLY?

You mention Madrona. Do you honestly believe that the mere interaction of the two populations will CAUSE HARM??? Wow. So, you don't want you child even sitting next to a previous TM or TT Minor kid to draw a self-portrait. Or learn a dance. Or play basketball. WOW.

The mix of classes wasn't something "great" so that I advocate that it SHOULD happen, but I see it as something that WASN'T A PROBLEM. Kids switch up classes in middle and high school. "Cohorts" mix all the time.

It's attitudes like yours that are going to bring down this merger. If you go in with the attitude that NO ONE can POSSIBLY spend time with your kids except other kids exactly like him or her, and others do the same, then yes, all the dire predictions will come to light. Kids will go in refusing to accept their new schoolmates, parents will go in refusing to see other parents' point of view and all hell will break lose.


I DO think that mixing classes for PCP will HELP the kids get to know one another. I DO want a happy school, and oddly enough, when we toured TM, we were welcomed. The tour guide even smiled politely when someone asked if TM even HAD a library or computers.

If there's tension, it will be because Lowell parents go in expecting "less then" and insist things go THEIR WAY or no way. That's a sure way to antagonize the parents and administration already there.

That worries me more than ANY of the proposed changes.

agibean1958 said...

Let me make sure I understand you, Robert. You're saying that your gifted child deserves more from the district than a struggling one, is that right? Let those struggling kids just fall by the wayside, they're not good enough to deserve help anyway. HOLY COW.

If that isn't entitlement, I don't know what is.

Go to MI, please.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seriously? Mixing kids at PCP time is a problem?

My kids went to Whittier which has Spectrum. Half his class would go with half the other grade-level regular ed class to either music or PE. It was done mainly because Spectrum classes tend to move as a group from year to year and the school wanted the kids in each grade level to know each other. Mixing together in music and PE (and not just on the playground) was the vehicle. My son had friends in a couple of classes.

It just wasn't a big deal.

hschinske said...

I haven't heard of very many people who have a big issue with mixing the kids at PCP time. I do get that the music classes will probably be less academic than they've been able to make them at Lowell heretofore, but while that's a bit of a loss, I don't think it's by any means terrible. I too had kids at Whittier share PCP classes. At that time I had one twin in Spectrum and one in the regular program, so that was a chance for them to see each other.

Whittier has only one Spectrum class per grade, so the kids who were in there from first grade on definitely benefited from some mixing up -- it got a bit stifling being with fifteen or so of the exact same classmates every single year. One of the things I liked about APP was that there was more than one class per grade. If it does work out that the regular program at Lowell and TMarshall has only one class per grade, the same would apply there, I should think.

Helen Schinske

Ben said...

Taking Lowell and TM off the early start time list: I'll believe it when I see it. Maybe. I have so little faith in SPS at this point.

About uniforms: If Lowell ends up with uniforms, I believe it will all stem from TM currently having uniforms. How? In the unending effort to placate the TM community (at the expense of the transplants from Lowell), uniforms will be retained at TM. Then, in the effort to promote the idea that the new TM and the new Lowell are on equal footing, the new Lowell will have to have uniforms.

amsiegel said...

I hope families don't start running from the APP program over issues like uniforms and mixed PCP classes. I also think there are a lot of potential benefits to the new co-location model, provided that the programs are designed intelligently and the district continues to make a genuine commitment to the APP program.

The problem with the current discussion of mixed classrooms is that it doesn't differentiate between a model that fills a few empty spots in the APP classrooms with students who don't quite have the test scores but are performing very well in the ALO program and might add diverse perspectives to the program (something I would support) and throwing 10 or 12 APP kids into a general ed or "ALO" classroom and giving them some enrichment work (which would effectively kill the APP program).

As for uniforms, I think that the absence of uniforms would benefit all the students, not just the APP students. Right now, the Seattle School District has a two-tier uniform policy that basically says to students "if your school doesn't perform up to our standards, you loss the basic liberty of dressing yourself." It is demeaning and it has the perverse consequence of visually marking failing schools, creating all sorts of feedback loops and self-fulfilling prophecies. For the benefit of all students, Lowell and TM ought to avoid that trap.

adhoc said...

Mixing kids for PCP time at an established neighborhood school like Whitter - not in the process of a forced merger - is very different than mixing kids for PCP time at Lowell/TM. Whittier is full of like minded parents who voluntarily chose the school. Whittier families all live in the middle/upper middle class neighborhood of the school and are primarily white. This is not the case for Lowell/TM.

The Lowell/TM merger is forcing together two communities, and neither community wants it. Families (especially Lowell families) are bitter - there IS going to be some tension. Add to the forced merger the fact that these two communities could not be further apart. One is primarily white and the other primarily black. One is primarily low income and the other primarily middle class and affluent. One has average learners and the other is advanced learners. The Lowell families are coming from all over the south end while the TM families live in the neighborhood.

I'm not saying that I agree with None111 at all. I don't. I think shared PCP time is a wonderful experience for children, and I have seen it work wonderfully for my children. The children of TM and Lowell will welcome each other and make freinds - but I'm not so sure that will be the case for the parents???

Again, I don't agree with None111, I think shared PCP time should happen. But at the same time I acknowledge that it is unfair to compare shared PCP time at Whittier or any other established school to shared PCP time at a school going through a forced merger with very different communities.

WenG said...

RE: uniforms, we're white and in the low wage, tech-working class. Not trying to be snarky, but that’s our demographic, if it matters, and it might, based on other comments I've read so far.

I'd welcome uniforms, and my kids would wear them. They wear thrift shop clothes and hand me downs, and have felt pressured to wear more expensive clothing from school peers. My youngest is asking for a school that requires uniforms, and she tells me she just wants to focus on her loves: literature, writing and history. That's what she wants in her next school.

I understand the concern that mandatory uniforms might diminish individuality, at least in terms of attire, but clothing can also quash individuality when status is used to make others feel uncomfortable or inferior. This feeling swings both ways, at least for us.

I read one of the comments objecting to uniforms to perhaps mean that the location of the schools requiring them was suspect, perhaps akin to redlined apparel i.e. north end schools don't have uniforms, but central schools do, and why is that?

If uniforms help kids feel more secure, for whatever reason, then I think this trumps any offense over the feeling that individuality is being crushed.

Do uniforms imply that a particular school is trying to control gangs? I’ve never heard about this, but gangs and turf are big unspokens with SPS. Young people are dying. Turf is an issue. Some students have reason to fear it more than others, but it affects all students.

I'm not saying that uniforms were mandated at the schools that have them because of gang fears, but keeping this out of schools would be one more benefit of uniform clothing. Protecting kids from turf wars and questioning authority go hand in hand.

I feel like Jamal. It’s not my biggest concern right now.

Robert said...

actually agibean you don't understand me... So let me say it again. All students should get the education that they need but SPS isn't offering that. The highly gifted kids needs won't be met in these days of competing priorities, just like those of the summit families as well as many of the spec ed families. It's a good world if you fit into MGJ nice little pigeon holes. Cool? Should be because I assume you are just like me and would fight/flight to insure your kid receives the education that they need.

seattle parent said...

Melissa wrote:"Basically, it's about the law saying that Special Ed students can't start at different times than regular ed."

Which law is this? The district always uses that reason, without specifying which law it is? RCW? WAC? District policy?

If so, atleast one Seattle HS is breaking the law this year, with a starting time for regular ed. students 30 minutes later than special ed. students.

Last year when the discussion of changing start times came up, the special ed department and admin. assured parents that it was fine to have different start times for different students, as regular ed. were going to use Metro and sp ed were still using the yellow busses.

So I guess you can take the "it's the law" with a grain of district salt!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle Parent, which high school? Is it Ballard because I thought I heard that their Special Ed kids did come earlier? I couldn't ask at the meeting about the law but staff said it was the law. So if anyone knows the WAC or RCW, pass it along.

gavroche said...

There is no sound financial reason for starting APP kids (and their schoolmates) early. The district's Lowell APP transportation is in fact operating on a $7,000/year surplus. (See: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/appendix_f.pdf or Appendix F: Transportation cost. In the December 9, 2008 revised recommendations, p. 27, Lowell APP is listed as transporting 236 students, for a slight net profit--$31.05 per kid, $7,327.80 in total.) So APP transportation is making—not costing--the district money. Therefore, there is no rational nor financial reason to make these kids start and finish early.

Here are some other reasons why this is an irrational proposal (some already stated by other parents here): 8 a.m. start times will result in young children waiting in the dark for the bus in winter, very early mornings for young kids who already have long bus rides in this all-city draw program, and potentially unsafe latchkey situations at the end of the day, along with work and childcare related economic hardships for working parents who are unable to pick up their children as early as 2 p.m.

Lastly, it is inequitable to impose this on only some children in the district--Lowell, Thurgood Marshall and T.T. Minor children are the only K-5 kids in the district, I believe, who have been targeted for early start and finish times.

Lowell and T.T. Minor have already been forced to undergo far too many inequitable changes as is. And I'm not convinced the T. Marshall children have been dealt a good deal in all this either.

dj said...

WenG, central schools don't have uniforms.

Some central schools have uniforms.

Stevens, Montlake, McGilvra -- the schools with waiting lists -- do not have uniforms.

Madrona, T.T. Minor (being closed for lack of patronage among other things), Thurgood Marshall (being merged with half of Lowell for lack of patronage, among other things) -- the schools without waitlists, in other words -- have uniforms.

My kid attended a uniform school and was mocked for -- I am not making this up -- her water bottle.

BL said...

Also in the Central Cluster:
Leschi--Uniforms/No Wait List
Bailey Gatzert--No Uniforms/No Wait List

WenG said...

Just to add, I think all TM and Lowell students should have a vote on uniforms before a decision is made.

dj: The water bottle thing is ridiculous. I'm sorry that happened to your daughter.
Considering uniforms, I was partly addressing what amsiegel posted:

"(1) Everyone knows that Seattle has a two-tier system of elementary schools, particularly in the Central Cluster. It is startling to me that smart, seemingly progressive people maintain a uniform policy that so clearly marks for the outside world which tier a school belongs to."

Having a child at TT Minor, do you agree with this? Why did TTM have uniforms? I can't remember if this was something that came with foundation support or if the decision came later. I'm not trying to debate you on this, I'm just curious. Uniforms can be all about social control, I'm just wondering if there are any benefits to be seen in SPS from having them.

sonicgal1 said...

A little perspective: uniforms have to be discussed because - as I've been told - these are helpful in schools where poverty and homelessness are a fact for significant # of attendees (thus TM and TTM population). That is what I've been told by the current and future principals, Design Teams, and PTA at both TM and Lowell/TTM. THere's a host of other reasons why uniforms work at these schools (eliminates distractions and aspirational status symbols, apparently - tho anyone who takes a look at our Lowell kids will see that fancy dress is the exception, at best - if my daughter gets out the door w/o a stained or ripped T-shirt, thats an upgrade for her :) But that was the primary start point. It has to be discussed and decisions on this should be made prior to close of Open ENrollment - or so I am told. Again, if you feel strongly, NOW is the time to email Design Teams w/yr thoughts - this will be decided w/in a couple weeks and then they will no longer be open to feedback on the issue.

amsiegel said...

To have your child in clean, newish looking uniforms throughout the school year costs money too. You need to buy four or five uniforms to start, have easy access to a spare or two, and--unless you are particularly good at getting our your stains and lucky enough to have a child who doesn't grow--replenish the supply at least once during the year, probably twice. For a similar amount of money, people can maintain a reasonable, diverse, personally-selected wardrobe for their children. The problem is that the same folks who are willing to provide $ to a uniform fund to make every child feel comfortable in a uniform school are for some reason unwilling to provide the same $ to a clothing fund to make every child comfortable in a nonuniform school.

Sahila said...

uniforms - I'm neither for nor against them.... had to wear them growing up in New Zealand, and all but one of the schools my now-grown children went to in Australia and New Zealand had them...

I see the arguments about uniforms quashing individuality...

However, as a parent I liked that I didnt have to have arguments with my kids about why I wouldnt fork out for the latest fad and I liked that uniforms acted as a leveller - at least the ostentation some rich kids felt the need to display was kept for the weekend and kids who couldnt keep up with that didnt feel like they stood out like a sore toe...

Logistically and economically - uniforms are cheaper than having kids wear ordinary clothes.... I know - I've done the math over more than 18 years of having kids going through the school system...

You need two sets - one on and one in the wash... maybe three or four shirts... two sets are enough to last all year, especially if its an all season design where you take off layers in summer and add them in winter. You buy uniforms at the start of the year that are half to one size too big and you hem the skirts or trousers.... kids grow into them over the year.... and uniform exchanges at schools provide a place to either buy new or second hand, keeping the costs down...

Its no big deal...

Cant believe that here in the US you actually impose uniforms as a sort of punishment for poorly performing schools???? WOW!

none1111 said...

agibean said: "At the New School they moved similar learners together for math and reading-my daughter's reading group, for example, was reading at a higher level than the others. The group books were more difficult, the analysis was expected to be more in-depth. The previous year, she met her best friend in a mixed-class music class. Same grade, mix of kids from classes. They probably wouldn't have met otherwise."

Exactly what I was guessing. This is a perfect example of GOOD mixed classrooms. It's working to group similar learners together. Wonderful! It's actually benefitting the kids (as well as the teachers).

Do you not see why this is the exact opposite of force-mixing two groups of very different learners together? As I said before, P.E. is a different story, and I don't know enough about Art to take a strong stand. But for music, this would have poor educational outcomes for BOTH groups.

Melissa said: "My kids went to Whittier...."

As adhoc very nicely pointed out: "it is unfair to compare shared PCP time at Whittier or any other established school to shared PCP time at a school going through a forced merger with very different communities." Nice post, adhoc.

She comes to a different conclusion, but it's important to acknowledge that these are very, very different circumstances. I am curious, adhoc, why your conclusion is that you think it would be good thing based on your kids' experience when your post nicely points out how the situation would be very different at Lowell.

hschinske also pointed out an interesting point about less classes per program in one building. That's true, and yet another sad result of the split. Fortunately, unless everyone bails there should be more than one classroom per grade for all but perhaps the youngest kids. But it's definitely a downgrade from what we've had in recent years, where it was possible to make good teacher/student matches, and mix lots of kids up from year to year.

TechyMom said...

Does anyone have any insight into how the ALO might work? Have the design teams discussed it yet?

I could see the ALO working as a walk-over model, where general ed kids who are ready for the work could join the APP class for a certain subject. I could see that being ok, but, only if the students in the ALO were really ready to keep up with the APP students. I could also see such a plan slowing down the APP class if it were done badly, which would not be a good thing.

hschinske said...

I think the point about shared PCP time at Whittier is simply that it was a normal thing to do, an ordinary part of the day, something that's done in lots of schools. It was not some weird new thing meant to dilute the gifted program. It seems to me that totally siloing the programs would be *worse*, and make it *less* like most other schools.

Helen Schinske

h2o girl said...

none1111, please elaborate on why having elementary school music classes with kids of mixed academic abilities would have poor educational outcomes for both groups. I am not meaning to be snarky - I honestly do not see it. Thank you.

Sahila said...

If Special Ed has to be mainstreamed and integrated - because its good for them and for 'normal' kids - why not highly gifted kids?

Dont both groups have special needs - just at opposite ends of the spectrum...

And isnt it good for both groups of kids - and all the kids inbetween - to learn to learn and live and grow together?

agibean1958 said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels mixed PCP classes isn't the end of the world. Just to be clear- at the New School it wasn't ONLY academic classes that were mixed. I know for sure music was, and I know for sure that kids in those music groups had differing musical abilities. I believe ALL the kids enjoyed it, as they were allowed to work at their levels, even in music.

None1111, please answer H2O girl and I, because my questions are the same. My 4th grader this year, at Lowell, in music has 1)learned to dance a dance popular at the time of George Washington-why couldn't a gen. ed do that? She also has learned to sing several songs-why can't a gen. ed kid do THAT? I know for a fact that some kids have long played a musical instrument and others don't even read music-this year-at Lowell.

Please tell me how bringing in kids from gen. ed would be a problem? Surely some gen. ed kids already play instruments-or is it that they're just not...gifted?

I have a question about uniforms-while I've seen here comments that they're imposed by the district on poor-performing schools, my understanding has long been that parents voted them in with the ok of the various administrations.

When the AAA was getting underway, I know that at least THERE, the school community drove the uniform decision. Does anyone know for a FACT that uniforms are not chosen by the individual schools now?

Since I have a daughter who dithers about her outfit 4 days out of 5, I would do handsprings if uniforms are chosen for TM. It would prevent me from eying the clock nervously every morning as she changes her mind yet again. But I have no strong feelings about them at this point. There are many more important issues at hand, IMO.

dj said...

I don't care about mixed music/art/PE classes. At all. I don't even care about mixed APP/general ed academic courses, if the general education students who are mixed into the APP course test at the same level in that subject.

WenG, I don't know why T.T. Minor has uniforms. It wasn't something that we were asked about as parents during the year I was there; it was just, here we go, we have uniforms.

Uniforms won't keep me from sending my kid to Thurgood Marshall. But my experience with them was negative -- they did not stop kids from harrassing one another about their wares, and by the end of the year, a good chunk of the students were walking around in outgrown uniforms. I found it a pain in the neck to do as much laundry as I had to do to avoid buying 10 pairs of identical navy slacks. It was harder to find uniforms on sale than it was to find regular clothes on sale.

Plus I know this is shallow, but walking into a school that is all navy and khaki was really depressing. I associate childhood with vibrant colors, and walking into a uniformed school was to me like walking into a very preppy funeral home.

I think the popularity of uniforms among some parents is just what you are seeing here -- yay, I don't have to battle with my kids about clothes. But I don't want the state telling me how to dress my child so that they can go to public school, nor do I want other parents to tell me how to dress my child so that they don't have to battle with theirs.

sonicgal1 said...

Does anyone have any constructive ideas about the uniforms issue? Someone is going to be unhappy about the outcome, and its a bigger issue because its not only TM, but also TTM , that have some kind of uniform or dress code. SO thats 2 out of the 3 merging schools. I dont like the idea and neither does my daughter (this may not be very PC, but generally most boys seem fine w/the idea) but I'm trying to think how it might work OK for everyone. What if , instead of an actual uniform, kids wear what they want and then slide a Dragonwear T-shirt over their clothes during classes (can be removed for after-school activities)? This idea needs work, but we really need to supply the Design Teams w/constructive ideas, not philosophical arguments. Otherwise you/we wont have a real voice in the final outcome.

adhoc said...

None111, I think mixed PCP time can be a tremendous benefit to students. Students being grouped together by ability level is a known and proven "best practice". It works well for students and it works well for teachers.

In non academic subjects like art and PE shared time can be wonderful for kids. They can meet new freinds and broaden their social circles. Kids are exposed to a more diverse environment and instead of the "us and them" mentality they learn to be more accepting of one another. This will allow for less voluntary segregation and a more welcoming inclusive environment for all.

I think it would work just fine at Lowel/TM for the kids - not sure if it will work for the adults as both communities are so cautious of one another. But should it really be about the adults??

Perhaps a more popular plan would be to work toward shared PCP time in a say two to three years?? The first couple of years after the merger should allow some time for settling in, getting used to the new environment and working through any kinks that arise. Then in a couple of years move forward with shared PCP time....

dj said...

Sonicgal, I have emailed the design teams, but here are my thoughts.

How about a dress code that forbids some of the obvious offenders (short shorts, midriff tops, and clothes associated with criminal enterprise), as well as any clothing with writing/prominent logos/etc.

The t-shirt idea would for practical purposes from my perspective not be a big deal, because it doesn't require me to buy a wardrobe of things I don't want to buy and that my child doesn't want to wear. But I am still philosophically opposed to the idea that kids all have to dress the same in order to access public school, or that the state has any business telling my kid what to wear.

amsiegel said...

Funny, Sonicgal, I thought the design teams' job was to make the decisions that would be best for the development of the children who will be attending the schools, not to mindlessly adopt a position on all issues that is at the midpoint of how the merging schools currently do things. If I'm right that the teams are supposed to make the best substantive decisions for the students, then they should want to hear philosophical arguments (and empirical ones and ones grounded in the developmental literature, etc.).

dan dempsey said...

Dear Amsiegel,

Yes decisions based on empirical evidence .... good idea.

Except this entire process is likely run by education politics thus no evidence wanted.

sonicgal1 said...

DJ - that kind of dress code is already standard at many (all?) SPS elementaries - including the "oversubscribed" schools. You might not be aware of it, esp if yr kid is younger or a boy, and they're nto super strict, but eg,no short shorts, hats in school, spagetti straps, etc.
amsiegel - i think you misunderstood me - or maybe i miscommunicated. Of course its fine to present philosophical arguments about any of these merger issues - either in this forum or to design teams. But they need to confirm the hot-button issue of uniforms within a week or 2, so I truly think they're desperate for any creative ideas that might satisfy both populations. I guess my point is, that sadly, there is not a lot of time for debate and long discussions, because if they cant answer this and other key issues on the tours, they'll lose potential applications to all 4 programs.

Maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura said...

Lowell second graders had an event tonight, so I got to meet Greg King (incoming Lowell Principal). His daughter is an APP second grader. The first thing he said to me was (I'm paraphrasing) "have your sent me your comments/what are you thinking/make sure to send everyone on the design team your comments." I mentioned that every Lowell parent has an e-mail through the lowelllink, so he's going to try to have a surveymonkey type survey in the next few days for Lowell families to participate in and mentioned that to get feedback from TT Minor families, he would probably need to do a hard copy type survey. He also mentioned that the Lowell design team has not even discussed uniforms yet, but that they do want as many people providing input as possible. Things are moving at a very rapid pace, with the design teams work needing to wrap up on March 2.

So Lowell folks, if you have something to say, there's your invitation. You already have all their e-mails and I do believe he wants to hear from parents.

Maureen said...

Could we have a new thread for the uniform issue and another for the APP PCP stuff?

TechyMom said...

Laura,
Where can I find the contact info? I'm not a current Lowell parent, but am considering both Lowell and T. Marshall for K next year.
Thanks!

sonicgal1 said...

Per Maureen's post: the title of this section is Bell Times and Transp. I am involved in all these APP issues (by default!)and we should continue to discuss elsewhere, but I am REALLY pissed about the bell time thing and I dont want to lose focus. Its impt to have a forum for any info you connected types are getting feedback re where we are w/dropping elementaries (ie ONLY Lowell/TM) fr the 8 am list - and perhaps the few K-8's on the current list as well. Where are the "powers that be" w/that list now, and do we have certainty that bell times will be confirmed by 3/31? Anyone? Melissa? Please, continue to write and press the Bd, Carla the CAO, Transp. dept, etc on this issue or it will get buried in the noise of school closures, mergers, etc...THANK YOU!

Maureen said...

I got the impression at our Site Council meeting tonight that the start time/transportation proposal is being slammed up against the Teachers' Union wall. I am not entirely clear about what the final impact will be, but any one out there who is concerned may want to talk to their friendly local Union rep.

none1111 said...

agibean said: "Please tell me how bringing in kids from gen. ed would be a problem? Surely some gen. ed kids already play instruments-or is it that they're just not...gifted?"

This is the 3rd time you've brought up instrumental music, which I have repeatedly said (in the previous thread) *should* be blended. It would be indefensible to segregate instrumental music, as it is a pull-out class, and as there's no slicing and dicing of the classrooms, it will happen naturally. And instrumental music *is* grouped according to ability, so everyone (in theory) gets placed in the most appropriate level. That would certainly *not* be the case for arbitrarily carving out 1/2 a music classroom from one program and 1/2 from the other.

As for why the educational outcomes are reduced, what it seems to boil down to is that many people don't have the bigger picture of what happens in the classroom. agibean said: " My 4th grader ... learned to dance a dance ... and learned to sing several songs ". Of course if you cherry pick, some activities certainly lend themselves to pretty much anyone participating, but that is not the case for the class year as a whole. At this point, since your child is at Lowell, and you aren't going to believe anything I say, I heartily recommend talk with your child's music teacher. Really. You will learn a few things. I'm done after this post.

adhoc had a couple points that I would like to touch on:
1) "I think mixed PCP time can be a tremendous benefit to students. Students being grouped together by ability level is a known and proven "best practice". It works well for students and it works well for teachers."

This is an interesting, (and in this context) essentially contradictory statement! (and I say this as someone who respects your overall contribution to this board very much!) What you're saying implicitly here is that music is not academic. And I refute that quite adamantly. It's *possible* to teach a music class that's just singing and dancing, and that's the way a lot of (lesser) schools teach it. But that is not all that happens in elementary APP. Shoehorning kids from a "normal" school in with kids who have a very (very) different way of absorbing information... that is completely contrary to ability level grouping, and by your own words above, *not* best practice. It's really deeper than we could possibly get into here on a forum like this - because it's not just "ability" on a linear scale, the kids literally don't assimilate information in the same way. The biggest benefit of being at Lowell is having the bulk of the kids in a classroom operating on a similar wavelength. If there are any Lowell parents who haven't read at least some of the abundant literature on the subject, I highly recommend it.

adhoc also said: "Perhaps a more popular plan would be to work toward shared PCP time in a say two to three years?? The first couple of years after the merger should allow some time for settling in, getting used to the new environment and working through any kinks that arise. Then in a couple of years move forward with shared PCP time...."

And of course you totally redeem yourself here with a smart, insightful suggestion. I touched on something similar on the other thread, so of course I'm in agreement ;-).

This is certainly the path to take IF people think that mixing the programs is an end goal. It would give time to assess the pros and cons. The buildings/programs are going to be in utter turmoil this coming year. There is little need to fan the flames right now, especially when both sets of parents are still (justifiably) angry. The principals and design teams have dozens, maybe hundreds of details to work out without taking on yet another unnecessary design task with no time to adequately work through the details.

--------

As someone else said, the topic here is Start Times, and the thread got kind of hijacked into PCP and uniforms. I've said all I'm going to say on PCP for now, so I don't know that it needs another thread, but I second the motion for a "uniforms" thread. There seem to be a lot of opinions on the subject.

Ben said...

APP parent here. Mixed art classes, music classes, PE classes don't bother me in and of themselves.

I would worry, though, that it would be done as a foot in the door.

"See? Everything worked out fine when we mixed the art classes. So we're going to start mixing the academic classes now. Yes, yes, we said before that there would definitely be self-contained APP classes. But circumstances have changed. Um... Budget deficit! Capacity! Diversity! Building score! Access!"

Keepin'On said...

I concur with Maureen - can we move Lowell/APP/Uniforms/Blending/PCP to their own post or even site? They seem to need the room and their own clearinghouse for their issues.

I would like to go back to why some high schools get to cherry pick their start times and others do not.

Thank you.

hschinske said...

Nova has college-style classes, where you go when you have class and can stay away when you don't. My daughter is taking a full load of classes and still has one day a week where she has no classes until one o'clock. That's part of their excuse for setting their own start times.

Incidentally, on the academic music: I'm told music at Lowell is much less academic than it used to be anyway (they do a lot less with theory and so on).

Helen Schinske

Helen Schinske

Andrew Siegel said...

While I hope that APP parents continue to be welcome on this site, I figured it couldn't hurt to have a designated online forum for discussion of APP Elementary issues. To that end, I have created a new Seattle APP Elementary School Discussion Blog, located at http://discussapp.blogspot.com/.

Come give us a visit.

agibean1958 said...

One final clarification post to None1111. I reference instrumental music because there ARE levels of difference in abiltiy there, yet these SAME KIDS are in PCP music TOGETHER. Just as likkely there are talented artists in art class with kids who can't draw a straight line, at Lowell NOW.

So that's what I was getting at. Now I'll defer to those who want to get back to talking about school start times.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a live link to the APP Discussion site.

Dorothy said...

Start times affect Everyone, not just the currently affected schools for two main reasons.

First is the general implication that it is OK for the district to change something to fundamental -- for no academic reason -- without limit. They are not promising to have a final decision before open enrollment closes. They are not even promising to have a final decision before August. That's unprecedented.

Second. Since they aren't promising final decisions til August, and No School is Exempt, it very well may be that the currently scheduled 8AM start times will change to 9AM or 9:15AM in August. Many would prefer that, but by August you will have already made logistical changes to accommodate the 8AM start time (or found an alternate school). Those logistics may be challenging or impossible to change back at that late time.

And that's for the folks in the currently affected schools, they have been paying attention. There is also implicit in this the idea that the list of schools with early start time could change. In August. So those currently completely clueless folks at Graham Hill or Bryant or wherever might find out near Labor Day that all their logistical planning must change. Wait a minute. Current plans have every other elementary school move to 9:15. That's not a big shift, but once again, every little shift can affect a person's logistics. Day-care, work hours, business appointments, after school programming... Is everyone aware of that? Is everyone who needs to make logistical changes aware? Will people even know if they have to make changes? Will the cascade of changes some schools make affect others and they don't know that yet?

And of course this isn't just parents. Teachers and staff have families and commutes and other obligations to their schedule. That may just be the saving grace, as Maureen pointed out. What does the Teachers Union say about such changes, especially the idea of such changes in August?

sonicgal1 said...

Exactly, Dorothy. Pple in affected schools that are against the shift to 8am should protest that in the manner previously discussed on this blog. Pple in currently unaffected schools need to know they may slide onto that list at the last minute. IF they are even aware - safe to assume that if you read this blog, yr a very aware parent. If yr juggling 2 jobs,kids and maybe yr native language isnt English; well maybe yr not reading this blog and yr school doesnt have a super-active PTA - perhaps you have no idea this is happening - because the whole proposal has been VERY low-key! This proposal is already pretty wack for many reasons, but the LEAST "The District" can do is confirm final bell times by 3/31 - for many pple, the concept of "school choice" goes out the window based on significant scheduling issues. And BTW - everyone keeps discussing the 8 am start time, lets not forget that implies a 2pm end time, also impactful to scheduling. How can we bring more attention to this insane situation and also force the District to confirm by 3/31? Mel or Charlie or??

Melissa Westbrook said...

Simple; you must tell everyone you know affected by this and overload the Board, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, Don Kennedy (COO) and your principal. It doesn't happen often but when they hear from parents, in large numbers, they listen.

Seattlehorn said...

Steve Sundquist was the only one who responded (today) to my email to the superintendent, board and staff members, regarding my concerns about early bell times for elementary children.

An excerpt:
"As board directors, we have had multiple conversations with the staff about this issue, and I hope to hear the staff's response within the next couple of business days. We understand that families need this information before they make their enrollment requests."

Does anyone else find this a positive sign?

sonicgal1 said...

Well, its not a negative sign, but since the proposal is ultimately decided by MGJ, Carla S, and Don Kennedy - not a Bd Vote; then it doesnt really guarantee anything, does it? And 3/31 is only a few weeks away...

seattle parent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle parent said...

Catch this-
The agenda was posted for next Wed's school board meeting around 12:30 today, and it included an Introduction Item, "Transportation." I read the links quicky through, and one of the iems that was to be discussed and then voted on by the Board was Start & End Times for all the schools at the 3 levels (elem, MS & HS). Specific schools were not named. For the K-8 it just said "some" would be at the earlier 8:00 start time.

Now, this afternoon, I went back to read more, and it's gone! I called the school board office & was told that the transportation package would be introduced on March 18th.

So, it looks as if these issues are up for a board vote, after all! The problem: If transportation is introduced on March 18th, the vote will not be until 2 weeks later in April, AFTER final decisions have to go in for school registration.

Why did the timing change? If they had the Introduction Item as originally planned on the 4th, then the final decision would have been on the 18th, before the registration deadline at the end of the month.

seattle parent said...

Did anyone see this on the agenda & happen to save a full copy?

Central Mom said...

This puts the formal introduction of the transportation plan right before spring break and the board vote right after.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I checked again and there is only one item there (Aviation High). So whatever you saw is gone until the agenda gets updated. I wasn't aware that anyone didn't know it was up for a Board vote but yes, it is.

So why did it get pulled off? Is that because it included K-8s and the directors don't want that and there's disagreement with staff? Does staff want to present something that is likely to pass (yes)? If the Board is presented with a list that looks off (nearly all the high schools but not all, some K-8s, a few K-5s at an earlier start), they may say no just because that kind of list would require a byzantine kind of explanation.

Something to look for come Monday. On the upside, if the agenda isn't fleshed out, you can speak before the Board on any topic if there are not other Action items.

sonicgal1 said...

i am completely confused. Are the changing bell times subject to a Bd vote or not? Per Charlie M and others, I thought the proposal could change based on Bd input, but that ultimately, it would be Yay or Nay via MGJ, the CAO, and Don Kennedy (COO?). Now Mel are you saying it IS subject to a Bd Vote? And how can we truly confirm we get this info prior to 3/31? If they propose to change bell times by an hour and assume it wont affect choice and parents' scheduling, that is absolutely the most disrespectful thing this District has done (and there have been so, so many...)