So we've been having quite a lively discussion over the issue of the sibling tiebreaker in the new SAP.
First, to be clear (and this was reiterated by Tracy Libros at the last Board meeting), there was a sibling tiebreaker in the last plan. There will be a sibling tiebreaker in this plan. There was never a sibling preference but somehow that got to be part of the lingo. People always thought if your child had a sibling coming into the school while your first child was still going to be there next year, that the sibling would automatically get in. No, it meant if a school was oversubscribed, the first tiebreaker was sibling. There was no automatic in but that was as close as it got.
The new plan turns that around by saying the attendance area kids get in first and, if the school is oversubscribed and still has seats, the tiebreaker would be sibling for any spots available. But I hear a lot of people say this sibling preference stuff. It doesn't exist.
In fact, here's this article by two Beacon Hill moms is at the CPPS website. From the article:
"The Seattle Public Schools' new Student Assignment Plan will change the choice model, under which all current students have enrolled, in favor of assignment preferences to neighborhood schools. While this sounds good to people who think they will be able to get into their neighborhood school, there are serious flaws in the new proposal which will split families and re-define neighborhoods.
The school district proposal would eliminate the sibling preference for classroom seats in 2010, reducing it to a tie-breaker. The new system would preference geographic proximity, leaving little to no room for out-of-assignment-area siblings in over-subscribed schools. In order to make the new plan work, boundaries around popular schools will shrink radically. The new plan will create a new problem - divided families - while still not fixing the old problem of space in the schools parents desire. As a result, many current elementary school families will be broken up into two schools."
What is wrong here is that, again, there never was a "sibling preference". It was a tiebreaker. Also saying, "... in favor of assignment preferences to neighborhood schools" ; well, it's called predictability and it's what parents have overwhelming advocated to the Board and district for years. And yes, it will "redefine neighborhoods" and may "shrink boundaries". However, some boundaries could get bigger.
Last, " while not fixing the old problem of space in schools" - the assignment plan isn't responsible for the space in schools. The staff who determine program placement and functional capacity are responsible for the space in schools. Advocating for the right projects for BEX is a parent responsibility (and one I predict might just get more attention in the future, finally). If the BEX list had been made correctly, the NE would probably have more capacity at one or more schools by this fall.
This is the kind of stuff I worry about - people "hearing" something and believing it's true. Folks, before you spread the word on something, fact check it. Who said and who told them? Look it up on the website. Ask a question here. But please don't make what is going to be a tough situation worse by passing along information that is vague or ill-formed.
BUT, in recalling Charlie's quest for getting more information out and communicated, I would advocate that whenever the district sends info to the principals, that if it is marked "urgent" , that info has to go out to parents within 3 days via kid mail (with a robocall telling parents to ask kids for the information) as well as posted at school. If this had been done a year or more ago, more parents would have realized that real change in the assignment plan was coming and gotten involved sooner.