Thursday, June 04, 2009

Open Enrollment Data

Rachel Cassidy reported to the Board on June 3 about Open Enrollment.

Here are some interesting facts that I gleaned from her presentation:

1,200 more open enrollment applications. This doesn't mean that enrollment is up by 1,200. In fact, enrollment could be flat or down. It just means that participation in the open enrollment process is up. You'd be surprised how many families in Seattle Public Schools don't participate in Open Enrollment.

The schools in greatest demand for kindergarten were: Bryant, John Stanford, TOPS, and West Woodland. The next most in demand were: Beacon Hill, John Hay, Lafayette, Loyal Heights, Schmitz Park, and View Ridge. So what does that tell us? First, it tells us that there is enough demand at John Stanford and Beacon Hill to support an additional international/language immersion school. Second, it tells us that there is enough demand at TOPS to support an additional school like TOPS. Third, it tells us that the elementary schools in the Northeast (Bryant, View Ridge), in the Northwest (West Woodland, Loyal Heights) and in West Seattle-North (Lafayette, Schmitz Park) are overcrowded. The District recently closed schools in the Northwest (Viewlands) and in West Seattle-North (Fairmount Park, Cooper), which might explain why it is a little tight in these areas.

Over 500 students tried to get into the sixth grade at Eckstein. The next most popular middle schools were Madison and Washington with fewer than 400. That tells us that the district really needs more middle school capacity in the northeast.

Five middle schools attracted more than 200 applications (Eckstein, Madison, Washington, Hamilton, and Whittier). The important fact here is that four middle schools (Denny, McClure, Mercer, and Aki Kurose) did NOT attract 200 applicants. Under 200 students a year would mean a total enrollment of under 600. This reflects a serious problem at these schools if they cannot attract more enrollment than that. What is the District doing about it?

There is a similar gap between the top two high schools for applications - Garfield and Roosevelt with over 600 each - and the next tier, Ballard, Franklin and West Seattle, with 200 to 400. By the way, 200 to 400 is a pretty big range. This appears to indicate that there is demand to support more schools like Garfield and Roosevelt.

This also indicates that there are five high schools that did not attract 200 applicants: Hale, Ingraham, Sealth, Cleveland, and Rainier Beach. Less than 200 applicants a years translates into an enrollment of under 800. That just won't do. Weird fact: despite having 200 1st choice applications, Hale enrolled 312 students and has a waitlist of 7. A full one-third of Hale students would rather be somewhere else - I would guess Roosevelt. Isn't this enough to make Hale reflect that desire in their programming? We know that the District is working to increase enrollment at Cleveland and Rainier Beach, they are filling Hale with students who can't get into Roosevelt, but what are they doing to increase enrollment at Ingraham (107 1st choice, 206 assignments), and Sealth (162 first choice, 190 assignments)? Apparently IB isn't proving to be a sufficient draw.

By the way, only 17 students named Rainier Beach as their first choice for assignment. Only 49 named Cleveland. Whatever the accountability elements were for the Southeast Initiative, they should be kicking in right now. The Southeast Initiative is not working. The District has only assigned 31 students to Rainier Beach for the 9th grade. That's one classroom. They assigned 88 to Cleveland. That's three classrooms. What diversity of classes can these schools offer with that sort of enrollment? Even if they were combined it would still be a small school.

More students were assigned to The Center School (94) than to Cleveland or Rainier Beach. More were assigned to NOVA (57) than to Rainier Beach. I don't think that we can truly regard either Cleveland or Rainier Beach as comprehensive high schools anymore.

Aki Kurose only enrolled 97 students into the 6th grade. The Southeast Initiative isn't working there either. Pull the plug. Denny isn't far behind with only 148 sixth grade students assigned.

There are more than 50 students on the waitlist for kindergarten at these schools: Beacon Hill, Bryant, John Stanford, Salmon Bay, Thornton Creek, TOPS, West Woodland. I already noted the demand for more language immersion schools. The waitlist at Salmon Bay, Thornton Creek and TOPS indicates that the demand is there for at least one addtional Option school. When the District does capacity management they need to consider more than just geographic demand. They need to consider the demand for alternative schools. Any honest capacity management process, given this data, should result in the addition of language immersion and alternative schools.

Here are some ideas:

1. Make all of the language immersion schools Option schools. This will make their enrollment more liquid.

2. Open McDonald as an attendance area school since JSIS will become an Option school. Place north-end elementary APP there.

3. Open Viewlands as a language immersion elementary (Option school) with a feeder pattern to Hamilton. This will alleviate capacity needs in the northwest.

4. Open Sand Point as an elementary. This will alleviate capacity needs in the Northeast.

5. Close Aki Kurose and use the Sharples building as an international/language immersion K-8.

6. Open a new middle school at Southshore. Move Southshore to the AAA building. Move Van Asselt back to Van Asselt.

7. Make Jane Addams a language immersion K-8 without an attendance area. This will locate language immersions schools in the Northwest (Viewlands), Northeast (Jane Addams), North (JSIS), West Seattle (Concord), and South/Central (Beacon Hill), and Southeast (Sharples).

8. Re-open Fairmount Park. This will alleviate capacity needs in West Seattle-North.

9. Open Lincoln as a comprehensive high school to meet capacity needs in the north, Queen Anne/Magnolia and Central areas and place APP in it.

10. Close Rainier Beach as a comprehensive high school and move the SBOC into the building. This might eliminate the opportunity to make Cleveland an Option school.

96 comments:

zb said...

"but what are they doing to increase enrollment at Ingraham (107 1st choice, 206 assignments), and Sealth (162 first choice, 190 assignments)"

Well, they're going to draw the attendance areas so that students are roughly equally distributed among these schools, no? I think you're not taking into account the new attendance area plans.

Also, I continue to think that the assumption that desire for "option" schools reflects the desire for those programs, as opposed to their location & population is misplaced. I think a good test of whether I'm right would be to move TOPS to a building that's under enrolled in the South, as was considered in one of the original plans.

I don't know what I think of Thornton Creek, except that there as well, I suspect that there are people who are being locked out of their attendance area schools (i.e. Bryant) who prefer it to a school that would be further away (at least as much as they like the program).

I also think that any of your plans that require money aren't going to fly. I really think there would be great demand for an international K-8, but I don't think it will happen because of cost/teacher concerns.

Chris said...

First, I want to point out that "Option" just seems to means "not an attendance-area school" and that this category includes a variety of programs, with alternative education being a subset.

Charlie's post does say positive things about alternative programs, and I can tell you that the popularity of TOPS, Thornton Creek, and Salmon Bay predates the current capacity issues: they had good waiting lists back when I was looking for K in 2003.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Part of the draw of TOPS and Salmon Bay for people from the southend is as a middle school option to Aki Kurose. People are attracted to the small cohort sizes the rigor and the strong school communities. Some ove the arts emphasis at TOPS; others the alternative feel of Salmon Bay. The elimination of bussing outside the attendance areas will have an impact on this for sure. Few want their 6th graders taking Metro from Rainier.

me on 28th Ave SW said...

Well, I'll tell you one thing that they are already starting at Sealth (or should I say Denny/Sealth?). The principal of Sealth made the decision to take the band director from Denny (also the band director from All City Band) and replace our much-loved Sealth band director. He expects the Sealth music teacher to teach 6-12 graders Mariachi, Jazz and Choir, while the Denny music teacher will teach 6-12 graders concert and marching band. The same music teacher for seven years. Of the 4 people included in the "conversations" prior to this decision 3 were on board; the principals of the schools (who both LOVE good press) and the middle school music teacher (who also seems to enjoy adulation). The district was not consulted, which may not be necessary. THe band parent group and students were essentially stonewalled. The principal has made it clear it was his decision, and that it is a done deal. I suspect it was in the works even BEFORE the co-location fight. Remember how the music program kept getting brought up during that time?? Once again, the Sealth classes of 2010 and 2011 get screwed (first the co-location, next the relocation to the abysmal temporary site, and now the effective demotion of our high school music instructor. Mark my words, they are trying to build a music empire at Denny/Sealth. Betcha All-City Band will be using our facilities to practice within a year or two...

zb said...

"Mark my words, they are trying to build a music empire at Denny/Sealth. Betcha All-City Band will be using our facilities to practice within a year or two..."

Is that bad or good? And is the band director the same one who works with the WS symphonette?

me on 28th Ave SW said...

It could be either, but I suspect there is a good reason that kids don't usually have the same teacher for seven years. Don't people learn more from different teaching styles? Couldn't it be hard for kids who didn't go to Denny to try to join up at Sealth (no even playing ground like there usually is in high school). What about the kids who don't like that particular instructors teaching style? Empires are great, as long as you agree with the emperor!

just-a-mom said...

Third, it tells us that the elementary schools in the Northeast (Bryant, View Ridge), in the Northwest (West Woodland, Loyal Heights) and in West Seattle-North (Lafayette, Schmitz Park) are overcrowded.

That is a dangerous assumption. All it tells us at this point is that more families participated in those neighborhoods participated in open enrollment. It does not on its own speak to over-crowding.

And also, that Beacon Hill made the top of the list speaks more to the fact that academically successful programs (or at least those perceived as good, there are many that are good but don't have the appropriate "buzz") are popular.

What this data tells me is that families are choosing successful schools, that they care about what schools their children attend.

This would be quite different than the "we want neighborhood schools" line that has been touted over the last several years.

Ananda said...

I think you missed the point that large numbers of people - typically, low income and non-english speaking - turn in applications after open enrollment. Also, for Chief Sealth and Hale, keep in mind where they currently are: in a crappy temp building and about to have a parking lot of trailers.

momster said...

what happened at laurelhurst? (100-113 first choices pretty steadily over the last 4 years, way down to 72 - did they stop 1/2 k and so that eliminates the 1st choices for the afternoon or something?)

and at west woodland? (85-95 first choices over the last few years, way up to 130?)

adhoc said...

Some of those numbers don't add up right.

If Eckstein had 500 applications, and they assigned 412 students, then the WL should be 88 kids. But their WL is 160.

How do they account for the extra 72 kids on the WL?

momster said...

adhoc, can't people choose to be on a waitlist other than the one they put as first choice?

jd said...

I agree with just-a-mom that a high number of first choices at West Woodland and Loyal Heights does not necessarily imply the NW cluster is crowded (though it is) -- there just happens to be a very high demand for those two high-performing schools.

I'm a very happy B.F. Day parent, and have been fielding lots of anxious calls from friends and friends-of-friends who are one of the 58 people who got assigned to B.F. Day, but didn't put it down as their first choice (or frequently, as any choice). Most had West Woodland as their first choice.

Also, you can't turn John Stanford into a option school -- if you started importing kids from out of the cluster, you'd really get some crowding in the NW cluster. If you look at the map of where those kids come from, almost all are within single-digits of blocks away from the school. They have to go somewhere, and there's no room for them at B.F. Day, now that we're taking overflow from Queen Anne.

By the way, my prediction for the future is that with the influx of Queen Anne students into B.F. Day, and the subsequent reduction in the fraction of FRL (due to the increase in highly-educated financially stable families) test scores will magically rise over the next several years, the school will suddenly seem like a raging success, and then become popular -- when all that happened was a shift in demographics. Same awesome teachers, principal, and staff.

Carolyn said...

West Woodland was forced to take a 4th Kindergarten class this year. I had heard that the school district would be rotating the "bonus" K to distribute children across schools. For example, Greenlake is going from 2 to 3 kindergartens this year.

Carolyn said...

I mean WW took an extra K class for 2008/9. Greenlake is getting an exra for 2009/10.

adhoc said...

"adhoc, can't people choose to be on a waitlist other than the one they put as first choice?"

Ah, yes, that's probably it. Thanks momster.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I was very impressed with Day and its staff when I toured it for CAC. I wondered why more people didn't choose it and I think the competition with JSIS hurts it.

momster said...

jd - thanks for repeating the message that kids basically come with their demographics and their wasl pass rates and that "high performing" is pretty much pre-ordained by demographics.

jd - what is the buzz on west woodland from your friends and fof? is some of the 35% increase in first choices due to the extra k this year and the siblings it spawned? (that would be a lot of siblings...)

note - i heard that bagley too is taking an extra k for 2009-10

north seattle mom said...

The discrepancy in the number of assigned and waitlist often has to do with the way the choice system works.

For the Eckstein example, the extra 72 kids adhoc points out put something other than Eckstein as their first choice but have greater priority for Eckstein than their first choice. For example they could have listed Salmon Bay first but not have a high enough lottery number to get in but lived close enough to Eckstein to have priority.

The Spruiters said...

In terms of a new international school - the north end definitely needs one since we currently do not have access to one. But we also don't have access to a nearby comprehensive middle school, and Jane Addams makes sense for that. How about making Olympic Hills an international school? It had the fewest first choice K picks of all schools north of the ship canal (with the exception of Jane Addams), and has a significant number of ELL students that might be able to shine in such a program. It's also already been designated as a dual cluster school to serve both N and NE clusters (although that point will be moot in the new assignment plan).

jd said...

momster -- I think part of the West Woodland appeal is that in the south of the NW cluster, JSIS and WW appear to be the strongest, judging by test scores, parent involvement, and programs (again, demographics-driven in large part). Most people assume they can't get into JSIS, so WW seems like a good alternative that they might be able to get into. It also is indeed a well-functioning school with involved parents, with a vibe that fits with parents' expectations of what they think they want when they're looking for a place for their kindergardener.

Melissa -- I think BF Day loses out because it's, well, kind of mellow. It's homey, the principal knows the names of all the kids (and which bus they ride), and the environment is warm, friendly, and diverse. It doesn't, however, reek of achievement-oriented drive -- no traveling state-ranked chess team, no after-school chinese class, etc. However, the kids get a solid elementary education, while serving a more diverse population than is typical in the NW cluster. When we looked for spots for my oldest, B.F. Day didn't seem appealing, because we were suckered in by what we thought we wanted. However, we loathed the more "high achieving" school we wound up in, transferred to B.F. Day, and loved it. It turned out to be exactly the environment to suit us as a family, and we had just been too stupid to have figured it out during open enrollment.

In retrospect, I wish I had looked at results from the staff satisfaction surveys. The staff at B.F. Day love the principal, which is a great sign.

momster said...

now that i look at it, i don't understand adhoc's numbers @ 9:44 (Eckstein had 500 applications, and they assigned 412 students)

the ppt slide says 500+ applicants, so i see where she gets that, but i can't see 412 anywhere.

the spreadsheet says 546 first choices and 397 assigned - that makes the 159 wait list # make more sense.

momster said...

jd - thanks for the west woodland insight, and for bringing up the climate surveys - those are absolutely something that parents should look at for schools - being careful to look at absolute numbers as well as %.

one year our elementary had a music teacher who wanted to be more avant garde than the principal was comfortable with, and you could consistently see 1 unhappy response throughout the questionnaire esp when it came to feedback about the principal - i think they had about 16 certificated staff that year, and 1/16 is ~ 6.3%, which can seem high, but...translated to the one unhappy person, doesn't seem so unusual...especially a new person.

NE Parent said...

Making Sandpoint an attendance area school does not make sense given the location of students in comparison to the school. Sandpoint borders Magnusson Park, Sandpoint Way (so little walk zone), and is very close to Lake Washington and View Ridge. Everyone in the contiguous reference areas, View Ridge and Laurelhurst, is already getting into those schools at the entry level (lots of people from the Bryant reference area are in the entering K classes at both schools). And I'm not sure what to make of the lower numbers at Laurelhurst this year--this may mean the new Laurelhurst attendance area should be even bigger than the current reference area (I defer to demographers on that one).

An option school (a new one? possibly Thornton Creek or AS1?) at Sandpoint makes more sense. Or potentially a language immersion school that is an option school or has a very small attendance area so it can relieve crowding issues elsewhere in the NE. (There is UW student housing right near Sandpoint, as well as 90+ transitional housing units, so there may be a diverse group that would make it a vibrant location for an immersion school. A number of these students currently go to Bryant's bilingual program.). If it is an option school or language immersion with lots of space left for people throughout the NE, this also would address the no walk zone issue--as many people would be bussed.

It also seems it may be easier to start a language immersion (or option) school from scratch rather than convert an existing school (disrupting the existing community there who may not want language immersion). But this is simply a guess--I'd be interesting in how the other language immersion schools started.

Charlie Mas said...

Wow! I love this blog! These are some really great thoughts, comments, and ideas.

Charlie Mas said...

zb raises a good point. Are TOPS and Thornton Creek popular because they are alternative schools, or are they popular because they appear accessible in overcrowded neighborhoods? I'm going with alternative. If it were only location, then I could see them listed as second choice or third choice, but first choice bespeaks of a demand for the program more than the location.

SolvayGirl1972 offers another explanation: alternative schools are popular in areas where the comprehensive schools are percieved to be low quality. In this case, people are not running TO something so much as they are running FROM something. This is certainly the case for some. Even if it were not the case, the District needs to take steps to improve schools that are perceived as low quality. Their effort to date, the Southeast Initiative, is clearly not working. They need to move on to Plan B (or C or D or whatever we're up to at this point).

just-a-mom offers an excellent alternative to the conclusion that some clusters are overcrowded. It may be only that there is a gap in perceived quality among the schools in that cluster. This is a very strong possibility. The test of it would be a review of the first choice and enrollment numbers at the other schools in the cluster. Beacon Hill and Kimball both have long waitlists, but that does not necessarily mean that the South cluster is overcrowded - we know it is not.

Ananda reminds us that a lot of people miss open enrollment. I wouldn't conclude that the low numbers for Hale and Sealth are a consequence of their temporary locations. They are consistent with the historic trend.

John Stanford could become an Option school, but it would require the re-opening of McDonald as an attendance area school. I don't know if many students would come into JSIS from out of the service area, but students outside the JSIS service area should have an equitable opportunity for language immersion.

I think that The Spruiters nomination of Olympic Hills as an international school is an excellent idea. That would allow for the use of Jane Addams as a comprehensive (and international) middle school.

NE Parent raises an excellent point about how well Sand Point might work as an attendance area school given its location and the safe walk zone around it. An important element to bear in mind.

north seattle mom said...

Momster's answer about adhoc Eckstein's question make much more sense than mine. So with 546 first choices and 397 assigned and 159 wait list that means that only 10 families listed Eckstein second. Most likely those 10 families were trying for a lottery spot at SB and live very close to Eckstein

Laura Martin said...

re: "more mandatory assignments at Center school than at RB, etc" - The Garfield cut-off was about a 1/2 mile closer to the school this year, so a lot of south end kids trying to get into Garfield got a mandatory assignment to their 2nd choice school.
Also - from experience, I know that an amazing number of south end kids don't participate in open enrollment as they assume they will just get assigned to their local school, which is generally true. They are still marked as "mandatory assignment."

Charlie Mas said...

Laura Martin has a point. If I lived in Southeast Seattle and I wanted to enroll my child at Rainier Beach High School, why would I bother to participate in open enrollment? If I just did nothing I would get the assignment I wanted. Even if, through some quirk, my child were not assigned to Rainier Beach I could get that assignment on demand anytime between now and October 1.

In that case, the only reason to bother to go through the Open Enrollment process would be to show support for the school that might be closed without that show of support.

We'll see how many are eventually enrolled in October.

fed up said...

Adhoc probably got 412 students assigned to Ecksten at the JA meeting earlier this week. That is the number Dr Libros gave. She said the school was taking 372 students, but they "overbook" Eckstein because of a 10-15% no show rate. So- they enrolled 412 students assuming 40 wouldn't show, and the enrollment would drop down to 372. Tracy was speaking without looking at any documents, so it could be that she got the numbers wrong, but this is what she said.

seattle citizen said...

JD,
You really nailed an interesting aspect of test scores and how they warp things:
You write:
"with the influx of Queen Anne students into B.F. Day, and the subsequent reduction in the fraction of FRL (due to the increase in highly-educated financially stable families) test scores will magically rise over the next several years, the school will suddenly seem like a raging success, and then become popular -- when all that happened was a shift in demographics. Same awesome teachers, principal, and staff."
Ain't that the truth?
A school that, as far as I can tell from years of articles about it, and the comments here, is a warm, welcoming place, a school that did just fine (but not necessarily on the WASL, because of the low WASL score and poverty correlations), will magically appear to be "success," people will flock to to, the district, state and feds will suddenly say, "oh, what a gem!"...

This illustrates the MASSIVE problem with popularity contests. Other schools, that by all accounts offer warm, welcoming education experiences are pooh-poohed, "oh, they suck, look at the scores!" Without an influx of wealthier people, they languish in the public perception (because research seems to tell us that THE most important WASL preparation is not classroom instruction or school, but the educational level and wealth of the parents.

The reason your comment struck me was it was so plain in exposing the craziness of this. WASL scores have HUGE impact on funding, public perception etc, when really all the assess is where the children of the wealthier, more educated parent/guardians go to school....

ach du lieber!

jason said...

If we are talking about opening new buildings to house programs, I would like to add to keep elementary APP together in one building. APP at Lowell has worked great for years and needs more capacity than the Lowell building has. Also, the central district is growing so much, they may need the APP space for neighborhood kids. Re-open a larger school and put the APP kids back together again.

People keep talking about how we really need to do the alternative school audit and, boy, won't that improve everything... The school district had an APP audit and did not follow its advice. The audit specifically recommended against doing what the school district has just done.

seattle citizen said...

jason,
the only people I have heard talk about how we need an alternative school audit is the District. They've said they will do one, but all the alt programs are wondering when...It was to be done this year, word had it, but it appears that now it may be done in something like the last two days of school (which is what I heard happened to APP, also, resulting in some disparaging results.)

There is evidently a meeting of alt principals called by District. The alternative community (and its Coalition) eagerly await being called upon to participate in the audit, and of course the District will be using Alt Policy C5400, and the District Alt Committee's Alt Checklist, as jumping-off points in determining what our alts are.
There is some concern that the auditor, the City Schools group, has no experience with the sort of alts we're talking about (see policy C5400) but only with "alts" that are more like what our district calls "saety net" schools.

SeaCat2 said...

Both Whittier and Loyal Heights added an extra K class this year. I wonder where those additional kids would have ended up if it weren't for the extra classrooms? Adams took on 80 kids this year, and have a waiting list. No way Adams could have handled the extra kids.

Roy Smith said...

Open McDonald, relocate the JSIS language immersion program from Latona to McDonald, and make JSIS an option school (at McDonald).

Latona continues to be an attendance area school, sans language immersion.

For one year, give current students at JSIS at Latona preference for remaining with JSIS at McDonald.

This solves the equity issue (namely, why aren't language immersion programs option schools that everybody has a reasonable chance of getting into?), but also avoids aggravating the overcrowding problems at BF Day, West Woodland, and Bryant. And it avoids screwing over any families currently in the JSIS program.

Second, because it would still be terrifically oversubscribed, open another international elementary, either in Viewlands, Sand Point, or maybe Olympic Hills.

Make the other language immersion elementaries option schools. I don't know the south part of the district well enough to say if any other adjustments would be needed to make this work, though.

TechyMom said...

Does the district publish second and later choice assignments by school, similar to the first choice table? I ask because, while TOPS was my first choice, I would have been similarly happy with any of my first 4 choices. Lowell didn't get a lot of first choices (TOPS is stiff competition for a brand new program), but I know it got some second choices, and I'd like to know how many.

seattle citizen said...

Roy, I haven't been following this whole thread, but as I used to live in the neighborhood, I gotta wonder why move JSIS to MacDonald? They're both on Latona Ave, a mere fifteen blocks apart...

Roy Smith said...

One interesting thing about the new SAP is that it does nothing to ensure equitable access to most special programs at the high school level - no consideration whatsoever for the fact that Ingraham and Sealth have IB, Ballard has the Biotech academy, Roosevelt has their music and drama programs, etc.

Here are my thoughts:

If Cleveland becomes an STEM option school, maybe it makes sense to move the Biotech Academy from Ballard to Cleveland. It would seem to fit conceptually, and it removes the "I want to be in the Biotech program but I live in West Seattle and Ballard is oversubscribed" problem. This might also be a good way to create a critical mass of students right out of the gate for the Cleveland STEM option school.

Do any music or drama programs (I'm thinking of Roosevelt and Garfield here) get any support that makes them substantively different from drama or music programs in other high schools? Or is it just that they have had some good teachers and a critical mass of talented and interested students that raised those programs to a level that other high schools aren't at? If the latter, then I'm not sure it makes sense to try and tinker with the SAP for access to those - we would probably create more problems than we solve.

If IB ever gets popular here (and it might - there is apparently a fair bit of competition to get into the IB program in Edmonds), and/or the IB host high schools ever get popular (who knows?) there certainly should be some way for students with strong academic talent to get access to it, regardless of where they live. This is not currently an issue, neither IB or Ingraham or Sealth appear to have that much appeal.

Are they any other high school programs that might be issues?

As a side note, those who are interested in comparing how other school districts do things, you can you can read here the application for IB in Edmonds, which also lays out some of their policies for how school assignment works if you are in a special program. Most notably, if somebody drops out of the IB program, they are returned to their reference area high school.

Roy Smith said...

Well, it might also make sense to just open McDonald as an attendance area school and make JSIS at Latona an option school, but I wonder if that would result in some really weird shaped reference areas in that neighborhood, and there might be fewer students within walking distance of their attendance area schools in that neighborhood?

The geographical distribution seems to work better with what I have proposed, but that of course ignores the logistical challenge of actually getting to that configuration, which might not be worth it.

adhoc said...

Thanks, fed up, I did get my number, 412 enrolled at Eckstein, from Tracy Libros and Ruth Medskar. I guess they gave out wrong information.

Tracy Libros also said at the JA meeting that for the first time ever Eckstein didn't have a 6th grade waitlist for Spectrum. When I questioned her about that a couple of days later, she said she made a mistake, the do have a waitlist.

If the head of enrollment services (who I happen to think is one of the most talented and genuine of SPS staff) can't give out correct info, then who can?

Steve said...

I hope that schools like BF Day get to enjoy a rise in popularity, because I think they suffer from a perception problem more than a school problem. When we toured there and met with the (wonderful) principal, she admitted that BF Day used to be one of the elementary schools that had a lot of students from homeless families from around the district. She said the school therefore was pegged as the "homeless" school, and I think that scared off a lot of people from going there. It hasn't been that way for a long time, but the perception has stuck. Which is why it's always important to go check out the school for yourself and not to rely on "reputation."

I live near BF Day, and it's always amazed me how little it comes up in SPS discussions. I was told once that it's never a candidate for closure because the property was given to the district with the stipulation that it can never *not* be a school (can't be closed and sold). Not sure if this is true, but I'd kind of like to believe it.

Now, by law (I believe), kids from homeless families can't be designated to a single school but are sent to their neighborhood schools instead.

Central Mom said...

In any case the current idea in the plan to call JSIS a reference school and to let area families who prefer an English-only track go to a "companion" school (BF Day? Greenlake?) is loopy. And a loophole. Both. This is a specialized program.

And I have yet to see any mention or target, let alone guarantee, of access to the program outside of the neighborhood. Not by number. Not by percentage.

Charlie Mas said...

I think Roy is right. Latona would be a better choice than McDonald for the attendance area school location because Latona is more centrally located in the likely reference area by virtue of being further from Green Lake. They are both good locations for transportation.

Day might not see the demographically driven increase is WASL scores (and popularity) if the District re-opens Old Hay as an elementary school for Queen Anne students.

The only suitable building that is big enough for all of elementary APP is Meany. That would be okay if the SBOC were moved to Rainier Beach and NOVA were left at Mann. But it isn't necessarily a good idea. I think that the commute to Lowell has been an impediment to participation for some families, particularly those in the north-end. Lowell is not easy to reach from much of the city. Same for Washington.

hschinske said...

"Now, by law (I believe), kids from homeless families can't be designated to a single school but are sent to their neighborhood schools instead."

This is probably a naive question, but how do you determine the neighborhood school for a homeless family?

Helen Schinske

jd said...

BF Day won't be able to take the QA overflow for long. 5 years ago, I could count on one hand the number of elementary-age students in our neighborhood (in the BF Day reference area). Now, all those people who bought the new townhomes in the neighborhood are having kids, and it's strollers everywhere I turn. I hope the SPS demographers are paying attention, because in 5 years it's going to start looking like the southern end of the NE cluster.

Mum o 2 said...

Daniel Bagley also added another K class. Which sort of messes up the whole reason we put it first choice - mixed level classrooms. The new K class will probably be K-only. Montessori a BIG draw as well. Our neighborhood school. We are happy.

JSIS - didn't put down as a choice at all because we knew we lived too far away. 2 miles. MAKE THIS SCHOOL AN OPTION SCHOOL.

West Woodland - second choice because their PTA has TONS of money. And we all know that schools don't get enough funding for a complete eduction. The PTA has to fund language/music/arts. And West Woodland is very good at raising money and funding these very needed 'extras.' Every student gets two spanish classes a week.

Salmon Bay - third choice - our closest K-8. And we liked the 'alternative' feel. It sure seems like K8's are popular, so why aren't there more of them? We even put down Jane Addams on our list (like 5th or so?) but it is really too far away. Dodged a bullet there I guess? Environmental Science was the big draw there.

We listed AS1 around 4th or so - again liking the alternative option but not enought to put it up higher as again it is too far away for us.

I am amazed that Greenwood actually has a waiting list! To me that speaks of an overcrowded North Cluster more than anything. I seems like a nice school but competing against Bagley and West Woodland was a non-runner.

Thanks for all the dialogue - this blog is great.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Love the conversation but I gotta say that trying to move established programs away might be difficult. Roy said perhaps move Biotech from Ballard to Cleveland. You'd get, uh, some major pushback. Why not, since we are spending yet more capital money on Cleveland, make sure their labs are like Ballard's and create a second one?

Also, Roy mentioned the drama programs at Roosevelt and Garfield. Roosevelt's is unique for a couple of reasons. One, we have an actual drama curriculum - there are several drama classes that kids can take at RHS. I don't think any other high school has this. Two, Roosevelt also does both a musical and student-written and directed plays. So there are two opportunities during the year for students to participate in drama. Three, Roosevelt's drama program, like its music program, would be much more low-key if it weren't for the time and resources that parents pour into the productions. I have had people tell me that Cats (this year's musical) was like going to the 5th Avenue Theater (except cheaper). So I would say RHS's program is unique but many other high schools have really stepped up their drama offerings (I know Hale has for sure). So I think almost any kid that wants to participate in a drama production (front or backstage) in SPS high schools as the opportunity.

seattle citizen said...

Steve, I need to interfect a concern about what you wrote:
"[principal] admitted that BF Day used to be one of the elementary schools that had a lot of students from homeless families from around the district. She said the school therefore was pegged as the 'homeless' school, and I think that scared off a lot of people from going there. It hasn't been that way for a long time, but the perception has stuck. Which is why it's always important to go check out the school for yourself and not to rely on 'reputation.'"

Sooo.... the principal "admitted" that Day used to have quite a few homless students? Is this something to "admit" to?
And this scared people off?
And people should go check, things might have changed (no more homeless!)?
Yikes.
I feel for the homeless kids: look at the reputation they have, and how they scare people away...

As WV says, we have to remba even the least of us.

North End Mom said...

Charlie,

You have omitted an additional comprehensive middle school from the north end in your list of ideas.

Yes, we need more option schools, including more K-8 options, but we also need another north end comprehensive middle school in order for the SAP to work. The Jane Addams building? Wilson-Pacific? Pick a location and just do it! SE kids will be squeezed out of Hamilton in the coming years, but it won't be enough to deal with the influx of north seattle middle schoolers. Soon, students north of the ship canal won't fit into the three comprehensive middle schools north of the ship canal, and they will get an assignment somewhere south. Sure, this could be a way to get folks to "choose" another solution, like Jane Addams K-8, if it was still up and running, but I think my solution would be to convince Shoreline to run a bus down Lake City Way, but even Shoreline is going to run out of capacity for Seattle kids at some point.

I agree with Roy's idea of moving the international program out of John Stanford, and making John Stanford a neighborhood school. It could take some of the pressure off of Bryant. McDonald is too close to Green Lake to be a neighborhood school. It would be a good location for an option school, like an international program. I believe it is a larger school, so perhaps there would be room to expand the international program, and draw more students out of the crowded NE cluster (also, it could take the pressure off schools like West Woodland, too).

Sand Point is also a good choice for an option school, due to its geographic location and walk zone restrictions. Perhaps if the JA elementary moved there, it could continue a very strong math/env science focus, maybe even emphasize Singapore math. That might qualify it for option school status, and make it very popular! I bet they would have no problems filling JA if they announced that the elementary portion would be moving to Sand Point, and continuing a strong math/science focus, with a science specialist and using Singapore math.

jd-
I hear you. I noticed the same thing happening up here in the far northeast. About 10 years ago, there were hardly any young families, now there are tons. I notice it the most at Halloween, when I do the head-count of the Trick-or-Treaters.

I think the one GOOD thing that has come out of the capacity crisis in the NE and Queen Anne/Magnolia is that the District is keeping a sharper eye on trends in other areas, and is attempting to stay ahead of the game (or, at least they now acknowledge the need for capacity management).

seattle citizen said...

John Marshall holds 800, was built as a middle school, is centrallu located in the north end, enjoys proximity to arts (UW) recreation (Greenlake) transportation downtown (Metro 20 minutes)....
It's only downsides are that it has no elevator, and it has no playfields (but there are fields at Greenlake)

SOMETHING should be done with theat grand old building...

Roy Smith said...

Roy said perhaps move Biotech from Ballard to Cleveland. You'd get, uh, some major pushback.

I agree with you - Ballard has a very attractive program and doesn't want to let it go. That doesn't mean the idea doesn't make sense, just that the organizational and logistical difficulties might make it a non-starter.

Why not, since we are spending yet more capital money on Cleveland, make sure their labs are like Ballard's and create a second one?

So, I am a rising 8th grader that wants to be in the Biotech program. Regardless of where I live, do I want the established one at Ballard, a school which has a good reputation in many respects, or the new untried program at Cleveland, a school that generally has a poor reputation. And do I (or even more to the point, my parents) at this point trust SPS to successfully start a new program of any sort, whether it is the STEM high school in general, or the new biotech program in particular?

I think moving the established Biotech program that is a unique asset in the district to a Science and Technology Option high school, where it is more or less equally accessible to all makes a great deal of sense. Which is not to say that I expect it to ever happen . . .

As far as the music and drama programs at Roosevelt, it sounds like the thing that really makes them unique is the level and intensity of parental involvement, and a few extra classes that another high school could probably start if the interest was there on the part of students and the will was there on the part of the school administration and the parents to create something. In a nutshell, to me at least, this means that there is nothing that warrants some special provisions for allowing access to the programs by students from outside the reference area.

Roy Smith said...

Expanding slightly on my previous comment, the Jane Addams mess is probably going to make it that much more challenging to successfully start anything new in SPS for several years until most people have mostly forgotten about it.

hschinske said...

Greenwood had 40 first choices, 85 enrolled -- and yet there are three on the wait list? How can that be?

Melissa said "One, we have an actual drama curriculum - there are several drama classes that kids can take at RHS. I don't think any other high school has this." Actually Ingraham has drama classes, too.

Helen Schinske

Roy Smith said...

Helen,

Because 45 second or third choices beat 3 first choices in the tiebreakers? It's counterintuitive, but the way the enrollment system works, that can happen.

Though it does seem a bit odd.

Maureen said...

Re Biotech, what might work is to cajole two or so of the senior science faculty in the Ballard program (along with a math teacher?) to move to Cleveland and start a program, meanwhile collaborating with the Ballard program whenever possible.

I would fix assignment so you apply to the program before you get assigned to a High School. The kids who get in who are in the Ballard service area go to that program, the rest go to Cleveland's Biotech program by lottery.

Keepin'On said...

I have to say - why can't we have TWO biotech programs> What's stopping us? The idea of taking a program out of a school, and placing it in another school, might get a teensy bit of a push back from many families, who have had to build up our north schools on our own, who are already watching money and resources flow to the south end, by even suggesting that "lets take all your successful programs and faculty too!". Don't think that one's going to fly.

And I am sorry, but with all the money from the SE intiative, why on earth haven't they started a biotech program yet? I realise I sound incredibly snarky here, but really - why haven't they done anything yet? What is that money being spent on? Why are the schools there still so unattractive to families? Why is there no "excellence for ALL?'

(It's been a long week)

another mom said...

Helen said: "Greenwood had 40 first choices, 85 enrolled -- and yet there are three on the wait list? How can that be?"

Broadview had 77 first choices, 58 enrolled and 30 on the K wlist. Compared with one year ago. 72 first choices and 80 assigned. The size of the entering kindergarten class is remarkably smaller at B.V. for 2009-10. I find the historical data facinating.

Also, I am somewhat familiar with the Greenwood Bldg and am scratching my head at where they are going to put them all.

The North Cluster K assignments look pretty wierd. Is it just me?

Roy Smith said...

Reflecting on it a little more, it probably is not a good idea to move the Biotech program out of Ballard. The flipside is, neither is it a terribly good idea to have some special procedure for getting into the Ballard biotech program, unless we have some real firewalls to prevent abuse or perverse results.

This means that for the south end high schools, SPS has to bite the bullet, really put some effort into building up the programs, and recognize that robust successful programs take time to grow. This will not be satisfactory for a lot of families on the south end, as they want their current students to be in a quality high school now, not later.

Maybe an appropriate way to ration access (until we can get enough capacity built up elsewhere) for something like the Biotech program would be something like how Edmonds manages access to IB:
1) A process to get into the program. (Either application process or lottery)
2) Automatic transfer to the school if you get into the program.
3) Siblings do NOT get automatic preference to be at the school, unless they are also get into the specialized program.
4) If for some reason, you drop out of the program, you are returned to your reference area high school.

North End Mom said...

I've heard the John Marshall building isn't so grand on the inside, but if they don't make use of it soon, won't they lose the occupancy, and it will cost more money to occupy it in the future?

It might be an OK home for the JA K-8 program, if the JA building is slated to become a comp. middle school. It MIGHT also work as a home for north end APP, perhaps if shared with the elementary component of Jane Addams (a very science/math focused school?). If it was built as a middle school, there must be science labs in place?

Sand Point might be more suitable for a language immersion school, along with Viewlands????

A second biotech program at Cleveland sounds great.

north seattle mom said...

John Marshall would be a great location for APP or JA but it would be a bad location for a comp middle school with feeder patterns because it is right in the middle of Hamilton and Eckstein and that would put three comp middle schools in the south part of the cluster. The beauty of JA as a middle schools is that means that there would be 4 middle schools north of the ship canal and they would be roughly in the 4 corners of the north end. A perfect arrangement for middle school feeder patterns.

north seattle mom said...

John Marshall would be a great location for APP or JA but it would be a bad location for a comp middle school with feeder patterns because it is right in the middle of Hamilton and Eckstein and that would put three comp middle schools in the south part of the cluster. The beauty of JA as a middle schools is that means that there would be 4 middle schools north of the ship canal and they would be roughly in the 4 corners of the north end. A perfect arrangement for middle school feeder patterns.

rugles said...

I'd be interested in seeing these numbers, any of them. I don't think they would be that hard to produce-I think I heard they just moved off the old mainframe.

1. What per cent of families in a schools reference area picked that school first, second, third...not at all.

2. What per cent of families outside the schools reference area picked that school first, second, third...not at all.


3. What schools did the families in that schools reference area pick for first, second, third...

3. What reference area did the schools first choices come from, second, etc...

4. What per cent of first choices a school received were families in the reference area with sib going to that school

5. What per cent of first choices a school received were families outside the reference area with sib going to that school

amrines said...

I often wonder why McClure gets so little notice in discussion of schools. It's in the middle of a "good" neighborhood with successful elementary schools all around. Why is it so unpopular?

We gave it a try for a year, and I have some ideas. (1) the north end/south end split of the population is largely reflected in the population of the spectrum/regular classrooms. Perhaps this is why the school feels so divided, and discipline problems set the tone? (2) The school is trying, but doesn't have the music program that other northend middle schools offer. No orchestra, for example. I believe this should be standard across all comprehensive middle schools.

I'm sure there is more. While at McClure we encountered a largely wonderful staff who taught effectively and really seemed to care about the kids. But also a weirdly draconian and arbitrarily changing discipline system, lots of out of control kids, and an overall unfriendly environment. This school seems to need only a little boost to become just as good as Hamilton and the other higher choices.

WV: scoutio. Maybe McClure needs scouting added to the after-school activity lineup?

The Spruiters said...

I would like to see what reference areas the Thornton Creek first choices are coming from. As an alternative school in the midst of many strong NE cluster schools, but that draws from both N and NE clusters - how are those first choices distributed? My guess is it would be disproportionate...

I think the idea of moving TC to Sandpoint makes a lot of sense. That neighborhood really needs another K-5 - kids who live less than half a mile from Wedgwood this year weren't able to get in.

And in response to another mom's post about N cluster K assignments looking pretty weird - to me, the whole N cluster looks pretty weird! It's a terribly drawn cluster in terms of distance and neighborhood. I'm a fan of 4 comp middle schools in the 4 corners of the city for the new assignment plan. That would make much more sense.

SE Mom said...

Laura Martin:

YOu state the cut off for Garfield was about 1/2 mile closer this year.

So, what was the farthest distance from Garfield that got in? 3 miles?
3 1/2?

north seattle mom said...

@ Spruiters
How would you guess Thornton Creeks's enrollment is disproportionate?

Deidre Falin, JA parent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deidre Falin, JA parent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
north seattle mom said...

I don't read that as Eckstein cutting back their capacity. I read it as they over-enrolled in 06 to accomodate what what thought to be a bubble and declared it to be a huge mistake and then needed to cut back in following years to continue to accomodate this large bubble.

That is just what happened at Wedgwood. They took an extra K class for two years in a row to accomodate the "bubble" (Remember the district constantly called this a bubble not a trend) and then needed to cut back because they couldn't handle the roll up of those classes.

This is yet another story that speaks to me of handling this mess on a year to year basis rather than just fixing the problem. You fix one year at the expense of the following years. If in 06 they had just not taken those extra kids, then it would have been clearer much sooner that a new middle school was needed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eckstein was overenrolling as far back as 1999. I know this because I still have the letter that Olchefske sent to the new (90+) parents welcoming them (but did not inform any other parents that they were upping the school by almost 10%). Again, transparency lacking.

I do hope Hale is getting bigger to fill the school that is getting built. I heard from someone on a tour something to the contrary from the principal. We'll see.

Charlie Mas said...

So let's say that we discuss it all here and determine the solutions to all of the District's capacity management issues. We find the right locations for the comprehensive middle schools in the north-end, we find the right number and locations of the attendance area elementaries and the determine which schools should be option schools and which schools should not.

Then what?

How do we bring a comprehensive plan like that to the District?

Can we get a meeting with the Board members and the Superintendent and Tracy Libros and present it? Fred Stevens and Kathy Johnson would have to be there too. Is that a realistic expectation?

Other than the idea, what could we offer them? Could we offer them some community engagement support to promote the plan?

More than that, where will the money come from to re-open facilities like McDonald and Sand Point? Will it be up to us to identify sources? We could suggest that the money come from existing sources and BTA III. We could suggest that the schools meet at Lincoln until their permanent homes are available. We could also suggest that they start with only primary grades (K-2) and grow one grade per year. They could be up and running in the fall if the District were to allow enrollment to come now in the post-open enrollment period. That would really move some waitlists.

Are we agreed about the solutions?

Where do we stand on re-opening Lincoln as a high school?

Do we have solutions to more than just the north-end? Should the District re-open Fairmount Park to add capacity in West Seattle-North? What can or should be done about the failure of the Southeast Initiative to make south-end schools into schools of choice? Are we agreed about closing Rainier Beach or Aki Kurose? Should the SBOC be moved to one of those buildings? Where would we find replacement middle school capacity in the south-end? At South Shore? At Rainier Beach? Doesn't the southend need an international school?

Should we try to get this meeting? Are our solution together enough? Are we togther enough? If we don't get the meeting, could we get a press conference to announce it? Could we get a public meeting to describe and discuss it with a broader community?

jason said...

I think Charlie's post shows the problem of how parents and the school district currently interact. I know I presented counter arguments to several school board members regarding my kids' school (APP elementary), and I was just as ineffective as every other parent trying to save their own schools. The only information the current board seems to give any weight to is that brought to them by the district.

I thought at the time of the closures it would be great to have someone outside of the district who would act as an expert for the parents. Maybe this person would be funded by the Seattle PTA or maybe just a bunch of parents. This person would go through all the school district info. and provide counter arguments (or agree if the idea is good) to what the district says. The system now is that the district presents their ideas to the board and their paid employees provide the backup to show how great these ideas are. Obviously, it's not in their best interest to show that their employer's, the SI, ideas are terrible.

As it stands now, the parents are completely ignored and have no standing whatsoever.

Central Mom said...

What an interesting idea. A district ombudsman for parents. This does have a little precedence...the Seattle Police Dept formed a multi-person task force after charges of racial inequality and untoward force. I wouldn't want to see a task force for the district...we already have the board. But one, hired person, funded by school PTAs could be great.

Of course, the Super would have to agree to it, and I have my doubts there for sure. Unless the board set policy to mandate it. Or the mayor put a lot of political pressure on the district to do it. (He has no actual power in the matter.) If the media caught on, it could work.

kellie said...

I think a cornerstone of the ability to present effective counter proposals is effective data. Right now the district has a monopoly on data. District staff are the only folks with direct access to source data.

As parents, we often attempt to base counter-arguments on publicly available data that we are able to access. Staff then trumps this data by saying that parent did not understand the data and didn't see X.

As parents this is frustrating but the board is also dependent on this. The board has to play the game of mother may I and they have to request data from staff. Naturally, staff cherry pick the data they want to present. The board typically asks questions about the data and clarifications are rarely enlightening.

I was outraged that staff presented data that there was plenty of middle school capacity in the north end so the board should be able to vote to close Meany. Now, just a few minutes later, they are presenting data that there is not enough middle school capacity in the north end and we have to re-purpose Jane Addams K8 into a middle school.

The board does not have the ability to hire and fire these analysts. My recommendation would be that at a minimum the board members were each given a independent analyst that could directly assess data and crunch the numbers. Then parents could actually get answers from the elected board as the board could actually get data.

amrines said...

Once again, McClure. If the new assignment plan does not include bussing south-end kids to Queen Anne, how many seats does that open up in this already under-enrolled northish-located middle school?

Charlie Mas said...

Actually, as I thought about it, didn't the NECC get a meeting like this? Didn't the NECC present their recommendations at that meeting? And weren't they pretty much ignored?

As for an ombudsman with the District, that's the Board's job - to represent the public and the public's interests within the District.

Maureen said...

amrines,

Look at McClure Map 08-09

South East + South West = 179 (out of 552) kids.

But why? It sounds like the capacity is really needed up by Eckstein. And as you said, McClure is already underenrolled.

Steve said...

SeattleCitizen re: my BF Day post: Sorry if "admitted" made it sound like the principal was somehow ashamed of the fact that kids from homeless families were sent to BF Day. "Told us" would have been better. In fact, she was quite proud of the students and families at her school, no matter what their personal situation. She said that having such a diversity of people made for a really caring community. She was just making the point that at one time, homeless kids were sent to only a small number of designated schools, and so there was a concentration at BF Day. She said that some prospective parents were concerned about this reputation at the time, and probably chose not to go there. Whether this was outright prejudice, ignorance/fear about homeless people, somewhat low WASL scores, parents that aren't that involved in the school because of their socioeconomic situation or the distance they lived from the school, or they just didn't like the location or the fact that the building is made of brick? Maybe all those things to some degree. I have no idea. I work with homeless people, however, and I know that there is a stigma about being homeless in our society. Not for everyone, but for a lot of people, and usually out of unfamiliarity and fear.

I don't know the specifics of the "old" policy, but the District has a page about enrollment, etc. for kids who are homeless or become homeless during the school year. See http://www.seattleschools.org/area/homeless/index.dxml. Worth reading.

Elizabeth said...

On 6/5/09 at 2:52 PM hschinske said...

Greenwood had 40 first choices, 85 enrolled -- and yet there are three on the wait list? How can that be?

...

to which on 6/5/09 at 2:59 PM Roy Smith replied...


Because 45 second or third choices beat 3 first choices in the tiebreakers? It's counterintuitive, but the way the enrollment system works, that can happen.


...

Most people do find this counter-intuitive. However, it really is state-of-the-art in school/student matching procedures.

In order to make sense of it, the thing to remember is that school assignment is the interaction of *two* sets of priorities. One set of priorities are the "institutional" priorities -- the rules published by the district about who trumps whom during assignments. The other is the set of "personal" priorities -- the order in which each family prefers schools for their child(ren).

If you didn't make it into a school you liked better than your final assignment, then everyone who did make it into that school has to have had higher *institutional* priority than you. Your *personal* priorities are reflected because you are assigned to the school highest among your personal priorities into which you fit without violating the institutional priorities.

As many have said, some of those folks who got a Greenwood assignment put other schools as their first choice. They had higher institutional priority for Greenwood than those on the waiting list.

From time to time, someone suggests that we should change the system so that personal priority should also be an institutional priority.

At first glance, this is institutionally appealing as it assures that the school community is made up of the people who most want to be there.

The experts consider this a bad idea because:

(a) it encourages people to lie about their personal priorities, thus giving the district less data about relative popularity,

(b) it increases inequity by making choosing a long-shot school safer for those whose probable default assignment is a high quality school, and

(c) it increases inequity by giving parents who are capable and willing of honing their strategy for case (b) an advantage over those who act naively.

momster said...

jason said, "The only information the current board seems to give any weight to is that brought to them by the district" but i have to say that i disagree.

i know a few board members, and i feel they listen when i say something - but i've worked for several years to build up not only my relationships with them, but my body of knowledge about state funding, finance, enrollment, etc etc - the things that help them know i have context when i say something.

i don't have the same standing with the ones who don't know me - and i don't believe i should - they don't know me, they get hundreds of emails - why should they suddenly sit down with me, listen to me, and/or do what i ask?

yes, they're supposed to represent the people who elected them (as well as the people who didn't), but that's not just me, that's me and the hundreds and thousands of other taxpayers (not just parents) in this city.

as an alternative to building relationships (which means showing up at board meetings and work sessions, talking to them reasonably and knowledgeably, etc) i think the board and its individual members listen when they hear something in numbers and/or in force. if you really want something done or heard, you have to rally some critical mass of people who think the same thing - and i don't think that's unfair either.

seattle citizen said...

Steve,
Thanks for the detailed reply to my comment. Your response was informned and cogent. I didn't mean to slam you, I was merely responding to some of the phrasing as indicative of the problems homeless people face in schools (and other aspects of their lives.)

You've heard, I'm sure, of First Place, that wonderful support school for homeless children in Seattle...

Thanks again for the deep and thoughtful response.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's consider the idea that the Board listens to people in large groups.

Consider the case of the co-location of Denny onto the campus at Chief Sealth High School.

Every single stakeholder group - the students, the teachers, the staff, the families, and the community opposed that co-location. They opposed it loudly and in large numbers, yet the Board still moved forward on it.

We don't need theory about what will work when we have a record that we can review.

steve in west seattle said...

Charlie,

I find it odd that you are championing re-opening Fairmont Park Elementary. Only a few months ago you were advocating closing Cooper Elementary because of the excess capacity in West Seattle North. What has changed?

Sahila said...

momster -
you said the Board is answerable to the (childless) taxpayers who voted them in...

Taxpayers might have voted them in, but if they are childless (or have children who are not in the SPS system) and so wont be impacted by Board and District decisions, I dont think they should have any influence with the Board/District on schools' management, direction, policy etc.... they dont have the knowledge/experience and dont have to live with the consequences...

I think the Board's sole responsibility is to the children and the parents/guardians of those children being educated in SPS....

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, the Board has a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers of Seattle as well. We, as parents, have to be deeply grateful to our friends and neighbors who don't have children in SPS who continue to vote for the levies and bonds. And, the Board needs to oversee where those monies go so that the general public doesn't feel the money is being used poorly so they will keep voting for public schools.

Roy Smith said...

Childless voters also are impacted in numerous ways by the quality, or lack thereof, of the education that their fellow citizens are receiving, and for that reason alone deserve a voice, not to mention the financial support that they are obligated to provide. If childless citizens are expected to provide money but not given a voice, then you have taxation without representation. Of course, we can get around that by only requiring parents to pay taxes that go to support schools, but then we just have underfunded private schools.

The idea that childless citizens shouldn't get a voice in how public schools operate is absolutely anathema to the whole idea of public schools.

Sahila said...

I think childless citizens have a right to a perspective on education and to voice that opinion, but not the right to make and influence policy and decisions when they themselves wont be impacted by having to live those policies...

I also dont believe citizens not in the public education system should have the capacity to influence the direction that education system takes because then we have children being used as pawns to manufacture a particular social outcome... for example, the current move towards corporatising schools and limiting the curriculum to subjects that are of value to employers and the capitalist system, rather than offering subjects that allow children to grow into their fullest human potential - academic and otherwise - in whatever form that takes so that they are happy contributing citizens in their uniqueness, rather in their 'clonedness'...

And for me its impossible to separate out the economics, politics from the educational issues...

I dont know how many people have realised that capitalism is the ultimate pyramid scheme ... based solely on exploitation ... and that when we exhaust the pool of people to contribute to the bottom of the pyramid, western capitalism goes looking beyond its borders to sell the fantasy to other nations and to suck them into the bottom of the pyramid - globalisation...

Now, most people would proudly declare:
"pyramid schemes are for fools - you'd never catch me signing up for one of them...."

but here we are, all of us entrenched in the biggest con game ever invented and we're passing that on to our kids through our school system and allowing business interests to influence education policies and implementation....

Roy Smith said...

I think childless citizens have a right to a perspective on education and to voice that opinion, but not the right to make and influence policy and decisions when they themselves wont be impacted by having to live those policies...

Let me substitute a few words:

I think that citizens who are not in the military and who do not have family members in the military have a right to a perspective on the Iraq war and to voice that opinion, but not the right to make and influence policy and decisions when they themselves wont be impacted by having to live those policies...

Do you still stand by your stance regarding who gets to make and influence policy on education?

Charlie Mas said...

Steve in West Seattle, six months ago the District staff were presenting data that indicated that West Seattle-North had excess capacity. Now there are some clues (from the open enrollment data) that it does not.

If there is, in fact, sufficient capacity in West Seattle-North, then the District does not need to re-open Fairmount Park and they can leave it closed.

Dorothy said...

Roy, I don't see the difference. What I don't understand is the "make policy" bit for citizens. Citizens on their own cannot make policy for anything, schools or Iraq. All citizens can and should influence policy by getting informed, by voting, and by contacting their representatives and letting them know their opinion. A child-free citizen has just as much right to exercise their influence as a parent and a citizen without any direct link to the military has just as much right (an obligation even) to weigh the possible policies and actions and assert their opinions to their representatives.

How many school board members don't have kids in public school? How many congresscritters don't have family in the military?

My son is leaving SPS in just under two weeks. He can hardly wait. But does that mean I should stop contacting the school board with my opinions, ie attempting to influence policy, about math, about LA, about anything?

Dorothy said...

Let me clarify that "obligation" comment. There is no real obligation, I just feel that citizens have a moral obligation to pay attention, think about the candidates and to vote. That's the extent of the obligation there and is the fundamental way that citizens influence policy.

Sahila said...

That would all be very well if we each had one voice with equal influence... the system breaks down when money and size changes who gets to have the most influence...

In whose interests is the war in Iraq? Private business, mostly... Where does the money go for the war in Iraq/Afghanistan? Private money... Who lobbies for involvement in wars - mostly conservative in big business, on the pretext that these are matters of national security and economic wellbeing...

And I know this because I was a military wife for 20 years and have a son in another country's military...

Sahila said...

Dorothy - the citizens of a country ARE the policy of that country...

each and every adult person here in the US is responsible for the making and implementing of US domestic (internal) and foreign (external)policy - its what we allow to happen, be decided and enacted on our behalf...

we either support it directly with our words or actions

or we enable it with our silence, passivity and whinging but not taking action...

and there's no room for sitting back and leaving it to 'them'; there's no point in distancing oneself/abdicating from one's responsibility by saying: 'well, I voted for him/her and now I need to trust him/her to do the right thing'... things change all the time, life is not static, influences are not static...

How many of you voted for the current school Board and now are dismayed by their abysmal performance? So, you just sit back and take it and wait however many years it takes for the next election to come around and then vote them out? And in the meantime, how much damage will have been done in your name and how will that ever be undone?

And who pays the price for the mistakes and ineptitude? Our children.... I'm sorry, but that's not OK with me....

steve in west seattle said...

Charlie Said,

...six months ago the District staff were presenting data that indicated that West Seattle-North had excess capacity. Now there are some clues (from the open enrollment data) that it does not.

The decision to close Cooper Elementary left West Seattle North with exactly the capacity needed for the children currently enrolled in SPS and living in the reference area. There was no room for growth or any "Choice enrollment".

1. The district knew they were in the middle of a 2-3 year "Bubble" in Kindergarten enrollment.

2. West Seattle has a tremendous amount of housing under construction. Housing density around here is increasing rapidly, most of it designed for single family occupancy.

Despite these 2 facts, the district insisted the enrollment was in a downward trend.

The capacity problem is compounded by the fact that West Seattle mirrors the city in general. There are several high performing schools in the North which have waiting lists for students living in the South who are trying to get into better schools.

It is obvious to me that the closure of Cooper Elementary is setting West Seattle North up for the same overcrowding conditions we have in the North end now.

Sahila said...

Roy - you posed an interesting question about the military and defence policy...

Been thinking about it all afternoon... and, even though this is going to open me up to accusations of being a total kook, speaking from my experience as a 20-year military wife with a son in another country's military, I think I would be inclined to say that yes, only those in the military or willing to serve, ought to be able to formulate defence policy, especially as they are the ones who have to carry it out...

While I was happy with whatever sex my children would turn out to be, I was ambivalent about having boys (I have two) who would one day be used as cannon-fodder by whatever government of the day thought that force was needed to get what it wanted in this world...

And now I do have an (IT geek) son in the military, who, luckily because of government policy, is likely to serve overseas only in a peacekeeping or humanitarian assistance role (still dangerous enough to cause me anxiety)...

Talking to veterans and serving personnel in my 20 year association with military from all three services and many countries, I think you would find that most mature people in the military would work hard (and want their governments to work harder) to find peace/resolve conflict through means other than war - they and their families know the true cost of war... its my impression few of them think war is glorious or a legitimate means to an end.... that view is held mostly by the young short on life experience and those who like to watch and comment on life from the safety of the couch in front of the television....

Roy Smith said...

I think I would be inclined to say that yes, only those in the military or willing to serve, ought to be able to formulate defence policy, especially as they are the ones who have to carry it out.

I served 8 years in the Navy. From my perspective, this would be an absolute disaster. The tradition of civilian control of the military is very, very strong in the United States, and in my opinion, it is the strength of that tradition which makes the idea of a military coup basically unthinkable here, thus radically reducing the chances that we will have to deal with a military dictatorship at some point in the future.

In order for civilian control of the military to be meaningful, the entire civilian population has to have the right to participate in decision making process regarding defence policy.

Charlie Mas said...

West Seattle also mirrors the city as whole in that the overcrowding in the north is, in part, attributable to students migrating up from the south. It mirrors the economic gap and the perceived gap in school quality in the rest of the city as well.

There isn't much gap in programs, however, with Pathfinder as the only alternative school and the only K-8 in West Seattle. There are no ALOs anywhere in West Seattle - north or south - but the Spectrum program at West Seattle Elementary is not generally well regarded, so the program at Lafayette is perceived to be the only "real" Spectrum program west of the Duwamish.

There is an international program at Concord, but we haven't seen the sort of jump in first choice requests for assignment there as we have seen at other international schools (52 in 2007, 33 in 2008, and 62 in 2009).