Wednesday, February 18, 2009

design teams -- so what's happening?

Lowell parents today received an email from our principal letting us know that the design teams are busily working on various issues. One thing I found interesting was that the email indicated that according to her email,

"The teams are working on uniting the schools and actually don’t have the power to determine program issues, curricular issues, and staffing. Those issues are made at the building level in conjunction with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provisions. Each Building Leadership Team makes those decisions based on staff input."

I don't have strong feelings about this one way or the other, but I didn't actually know that there was a Building Leadership Team or what its role might be.

How are the design teams going for others? Anyone have information about Building Leadership Teams? (I admit freely that I am a first-grade parent and might simply be aware of SPS structures that others know well).

16 comments:

Danny K said...

I think Charlie Mas called this one -- the design teams were superheroes in the publicity leading up to the vote, and now they're turning out to be a toothless citizen's council who is allowed to stand by while the actual shareholders hash out a deal.

Mercermom said...

TThe FAQ re Design Teams published on the District's web page says:

buildings closed. There are two overarching goals for the work of these teams:
• Schools start the new school year ready to welcome students with the curriculum, facilities,
staffing, etc. they need to be successful.
• Staff and families are well supported throughout the transition process.
Eleven Programmatic Design Teams are being formed – one for each site directly impacted by the
proposed closures and program relocations. These include: Jane Addams K-8; Meany (SBOC and
NOVA); Washington; Hamilton; Lowell (including TT Minor); Thurgood Marshall; Leschi; Dunlap:
Hawthorne; Cooper (Pathfinder K-8) and AAA (Van Asselt).
Additional teams will support the students and staff at the programs that are discontinued (African
American Academy, Cooper, Meany, and Summit).
Design Teams will be working teams tasked with drafting a set of requirements for their facility
and/or program. These include requirements for school culture, curriculum and materials, parent
outreach and family support, instructional strategies, technology, facilities, special population
needs, nutritional services, childcare, community partners, etc.

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

So they don't have "the power to determine"; but they can draft "requirements." Since there are principals, teachers, and program representatives on the Teams, it would certainly raise questions if the determinations bore no resemblance to the requirements.

dj said...

Mercermom, that is indeed what the FAQs say, but our principal's email specifically told us that the design teams do not have power over things like curriculum.

Color me confused.

Flingdingo said...

The design team that I am on wanted first to hear only what our communities (the parents)involved wanted. The district people first stated what couldn't be changed and than spoke about what areas could be up for discussion. I thought this was a very reasonable format. I am confused about what people here want from the district? Does anyone want to positively participate in the hard work that is the compromising ,organizing, communicating and marketing a new program? Where are you all? Blogging? Join us in making the change you want... please I beg you.

dj said...

Flindigo, seeking information and being supportive aren't mutually exclusive. I got the sense from our principal's email that she was responding to buckets of input, as opposed to lack of interest.

Perhaps, since you are on a design team, you could share with us what the district has told you about your team's role, what areas you are supposed to address, what areas you are not to address, etc.?

Melissa Westbrook said...

BLTs (Building Leadership Teams) are pretty common at most schools. They usually have parents, staff and teachers on them and discuss and make decisions on non-academic issues. I was surprised to learn recently that some schools don't have them and some don't have parents on the team.

So I'm a little surprised at the e-mail saying that the BLT would be involved in CBA issues. (Roosevelt has both a BLT, IC (Instructional Council) and Site Council so I may be confused on this issue. I would check with Lowell's BLT and ask.

sonicgal1 said...

I dont know if this is the proper area to post this - but has anyone else noticed that in the new Enrollment Guide, school uniforms are being considered for both Lowell and T.Marshall? TM/Gen Ed already has uniforms, but neither Lowell nor TT Minor (Lowell's merging partner) does. I've asked around and was told it will be a Design Team decision, but havent been able to get any feedback on this yet fr the Design Team members. PTA Bd doesnt know either. Seems like, even after the APP split and assigning new principals, "they" can still change what I consider to be significant school choice issues: start times, end times, school uniforms, after-school programs -- and not sure if any of this will be confirmed before Open Enrollment closes.

Charlie Mas said...

I cannot believe that APP families would accept uniforms. I will be deeply disappointed if they do. While some may think that uniforms will emphasize the fact that the entire Lowell community is one community, that will only be true if the disabled students are also in the uniform. Moreover, the best expression of the solidarity of the school community is through solidarity, not through uniforms.

Only struggling public schools resort to uniforms. Successful ones do not. To impose a uniform requirement is to declare your school a struggling school. The only elementary school north of downtown with uniforms is Northgate.

This is great. North of downtown they get advanced learning. South of downtown we get uniforms.

Charlie Mas said...

The Lowell Way is essentially acceptance of non-conformity. How are uniforms consistent with that fundamental philosophy?

Sahila said...

Its the opposite in New Zealand and Australia - school uniforms are the norm rather than the exception in both the public and private eduction sectors... and all successful schools, public and private, have uniforms...

There are a few less traditional schools that dont have a uniform but that's probably only a handful in each country...

Parents there like uniforms - they are considered a great leveller - a uniform closes the visual gap between the haves and have nots, is cheaper on family budgets, slows some of teens' rampage into consumerism and merchandising and cuts down on child-parent and peer pressure to have and to wear the latest, most expensive and most outlandish and encourages a higher level of good behaviour when the kids are out in public before and after school - the uniforms provide an identifier and there's an implication involved relating to personal and school pride, as well as not being able to hide poor behaviour as readily...

As to cost - most schools have a uniform recycling centre where parents receive credit for items they bring in and buy other items they need.... and there are subsidies or no costs for families who would be economically disadvantaged by having to purchase uniforms...

I dont know if its still the case, but in New Zealand when I was raising my first family, all families received a monthly child benefit payment which was intended specifically to help with food and clothing costs - school uniforms in particular...

Anyway...

hschinske said...

I'm actually against the uniforms for almost the opposite reason: too many people think of Lowell as being like a private school already. But if the uniform were the only issue, I wouldn't think of it as a huge thing. It's more of a last-straw business. (It's possible I'd feel more strongly about it if my child would be there next year, and if he cared anything about clothes.)

It would make SOME tiny bit of sense to require uniforms at Thurgood Marshall, where there's a history of them. But to make Lowell/former T.T. Minor kids wear them just so as to go along with what Marshall did??? That really makes no sense at all.

Helen Schinske

amsiegel said...

Three quick points on uniforms:

(1) When my daughter went to TT Minor during the 2007-2008 school year, TT Minor had uniforms. Maybe they did away with them this year, but if not Marshall and Lowell are in the same boat in terms of merging a uniform and a non-uniform program.

(2) 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.

(3)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.

hschinske said...

Okay, I hadn't realized that T.T. Minor did have uniforms. Thanks for setting me straight. I'm still not sure what I think -- it looks as though someone has to change either way. I guess to me it would make more sense to change to what matches what *most* schools in Seattle do, i.e., no uniform, which is what the students would have found if they'd had almost any other change in school.

Helen Schinske

jamie said...

I've had my child in a school with uniforms, and they really are a parent's dream. Just buy 4 or 5 of the same thing and you're done. Hand me downs were plentiful.

Uniforms are common in many many countries in the world and increasingly popular here in the state. Maybe it's worth reexamining how we feel about it?

Charlie Mas said...

The annual report for Aki Kurose says that it has uniforms, but the Enrollment Guide says is doesn't. I guess they dropped their uniform policy.

Mercermom said...

I honestly can't understand how the uniform question is so consuming. Maybe it's because I have friends and family in various different countries where the kids where uniforms that are much more formal than what would be required here. (And I can't see that it's turned them into subservient drones.) And maybe it's also because I grew up in a rural school at which, despite not being terribly wealthy, clothing did seem to be pretty important and a distraction. Finally, if my child can't express his individuality other than by what he wears during the school day, I'm a little worried.