Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Don't Give Up

There seems to be a feeling of resignation over the maps in this second round. Is it worth it to continue advocating for what you believe needs to be changed or modified?

Absolutely.

There's a couple of reasons. One, the Board needs to know that parents can and will stand up. If you won't stand up for your beliefs on the assignment plan, when will you? Otherwise, staff will be the louder voice (and the Board already gives them a bigger nod because of their knowledge base).

However, as I said in my remarks at the public hearing, parents are on the ground, every day, in their neighborhoods and schools. You walk in the walk zones, you know the rise and fall of streets and you know what makes your neighborhood tick. Staff CANNOT know this as you do and that is your strength. Use it.

If you (or a group) feel strongly, then lobby hard. Send e-mail every day (but have a different tweak on your message each time). Better yet, know what the Board rarely gets? Snail mail. If you are in a group, all send the same color envelope.

Also, Sherry Carr and Michael De Bell both have community meetings on Saturday. Show up in huge numbers. Do not let people around you say, "It's too late" or "They won't listen." There's also a Curriculum and Instruction Meeting at 4:30 on Monday. Show up at 4:00 p.m. in the lobby and grab the members (Chow, Carr and Martin-Morris) of that Committee and give them even more information.

Mary Bass. Mary is still a Board member for this vote and guess what? Get her in person and she listens.

BUT, don't make threats. Don't say you'll leave the district or sue; it never works.

Don't give up. It ain't over until it's over (ask Mike McGinn).

142 comments:

SE Mom said...

Thanks for that, I needed it.

I just wrote my 400th email about the new SAP to the district.

It feels like my communications just end up in cyberspace somewhere, but I will be open to your encouragment Melissa. What else have I got to lose?

dan dempsey said...

"Otherwise, staff will be the louder voice (and the Board already gives them a bigger nod because of their knowledge base). "

So true... they get the nod even with a poor knowledge base. The rubber stamp is usually out.

Charlie Mas said...

I always say that the fact that all of your efforts are futile does not release you from the obligation to make those efforts.

mkd said...
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zb said...

mkd-I don't agree with all your plans, but admire your dedication.

mkd said...

I never said it was smart, I was just throwing ideas out. Like SE Mom, I've lost count of the e-mails I sent, to every person listed on the SPS website. Every response was, "it's not my job." The one "action" response, she forwarded it to someone I'd already bombarded with e-mails and letters already. From most posts that I've read, everyone the general consensus is that SPS is failing students, at good and bad schools, elementary through high school. My examples were not advocating pulling out of the school system, just to show that unity is more powerful. Just look what the group who wanted to keep RBHS open. I'm from CA and we all know how nutty they are. It just makes me angry when I read how hurtful SPS has been to so many people, ignoring ideas, the crazy new SAP that takes a lawyer to decipher, the limited powers teachers have when disciplining children, and how hard Melissa and Charlie work, unpaid no less, to make sure that the truth gets out without district spin. Ignore my ideas, but it just seems to me that the way things are done now is letting SPS run a bit amok. From what I read, many of you have lived here a long time so you all know what needs to be done so much better than me.

The Donahues said...

I really like the idea of concentric circles - it makes so much more sense. It also helps those people on the boundary lines that were drawn out by just a block or 2. Why is this not brought up more????

dj said...

The reason concentric circles won't work as an approach (if the ultimate goal is right-sizing all attendance areas) is the reason that people wanted the SAP in the first place. With geographic tiebreakers, concentric circles are what we already have. When you take the concentric circle approach and assign people according to how close they live to the school, there are (1) dead zones and (2) wildly uneven distributions of students by schools. Last year, when we were discussing the impending SAP, many of us pointed out that people were making the false assumption that what the SAP would do would be to guarantee them access to the closest school to their house. That won't work, unless we are comfortable with some schools having 120 students in a 300-student-capacity building, with a school one "neighborhood" over harboring a forest of portables in the rear.

Which is to say, absolutely, people should continue to lobby the district to create sensible boundaries for schools, but I would encourage people who hope to do so with some chance of success to consider how their proposals affect surrounding schools and projected attendance, and to be able to show that attendance zones in their area will still be right-sized with the proposed change.

mkd said...
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dan dempsey said...

mkd,

Having taught in California the schools and school districts there have wide variation in quality. Teacher salaries have huge variation from district to district. The state is on the verge of bankruptcy. Class sizes are even worse than in most WA schools. Most WA schools use I-728 to reduce class size NOT buy 111.5 coaches. {In regard to Gates .. they also stopped some funding in Seattle ... but much of their funding has been counterproductive.)

Good luck with locating a great situation for your kids. I know there are still some reasonable schools but they are getting harder to find.

Give the blog a shout out when you get settled back in CA.

Best Wishes.

mkd said...
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dan dempsey said...

MKD,

The biggest idea that needs tossing about is ...

How to get the school board to hold the Superintendent accountable for providing the whole truth so that decisions can be based on data rather that manipulation by the central staff.

On that one I am plum outta thoughts but having Cheryl Chow leave office was a good start.

mkd said...

I edited my blog a bit at the request of my kids. Mr. Dempsey, you are absolutely correct. I never meant to imply that the CA school system was superior. If I did, I'm very sorry. After all, Richmond High School is a CA school that is worse than any here. As for us, we are have been very lucky that the kids will probably be attending Troy High School. Once again, if I implied one was better than the other, I'm sorry. My main point was that there is greater power in numbers who all share common goals. From what I've seen, SPS runs counter to what could meet the needs of all schools, failing or not.

mkd said...

I worked too many years in the management consulting field. Each and every time I asked certain members where to find district goals and controls, estimated costs, action steps and projected date of completion and whether the date was met, I never did get a straight answer. Does something like this exist?

zb said...

"From most posts that I've read, everyone the general consensus is that SPS is failing students, at good and bad schools."

As I've already said, I admire how forcefully you are considering the problems at SPS, but as I've said in previous threads, I vehemently dsiagree with this characterization of SPS. I think many schools in SPS are doing a fine, and occasional fabulous, job of educating our students. My goal is to extend that to the schools that are not (and not to change the system as a whole).

I think we all have a right to disagree, but given that our premise is different, it's not surprising that our solutions would be as well.

zb said...

And, yes, on the concentric circle idea -- the problem with it is that schools are fixed in space, and not necessarily at the center of distributions of children. Therefore, you get the inequity of assigning a student in Alaska to go to school in Florida (or, if we stick to Seattle, a middle school er who lives at the Shoreline boarder to Aki Kurose -- a true story).

What the current SAP tries to do (mostly, I think) is to minimize distance for all students, rather than allowing schools to fill with concentric circles, and then placing the remaining students arbitrarily without respect to their distance. Making that new map requires some students to travel further (so that others can travel less far).

Keepin'On said...

I hear you Melissa, but I have to say, those of us in Ballard already know we lost. No director is going to go up against the Queen Anne/Magnolia neighborhood, and send them anywhere but Ballard high school. Those families sued for access to Ballard HS, took it to the supreme court, won, and now, voila- they have the high school. Yeah for them!

I find it so discouraging that Queen Anne and Magnolia get to move as intact neighborhoods through elementary, middle and high school, when no other neighborhoods in the city get to do that. Money and lawsuits do talk sometimes I think.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

ZB is absolutely correct. We have many fine schools doing a superb job in this district and to say "The general consensus is that SPS is failing students, at good and bad schools" implies that SPS is failing all (or many) students. And this is not so.

There are plenty of things that I think parents are not happy about in this district, and, there are some schools that are struggling. But by and far most parents say that while they have issues at the district level, with the SAP, etc., they are very very happy with their kids schools and teachers. This is certainly true for my family.

ZB, also makes another good point that speaks to the families that are unhappy because they are not within the boundaries of their closest school:

"Making that new map requires some students to travel further (so that others can travel fare less)."

It's tricky. Many families want to go to the school closest to their home, and that is more than understandable. But there is a finite amount of space in each building, and if there are more kids than space, then some kids aren't going to fit. It's really pretty cut and dry.

h2o girl said...

Sadly I have to agree w/Keepin' On. Another thing Michael DeBell mentioned to my table at the community mtg was that for a while they were thinking QA would go to Garfield and Magnolia to Ballard, but then when they decided to make Cleveland an option school there was no space for QA kids at Garfield. As frustrating as it is to those of us in Ballard I can't see the board changing it now - the ripple effects would be too large. And honestly the high school numbers do not sustain opening another high school for several years.

It's very depressing when you read things like this in the district literature, and realize they don't apply to your neighborhood for high school:

"The process of developing attendance area boundaries requires balancing various data layers. The “data layers” generated to inform the process included:
• Proximity of students to schools
• Safe walk zones
• Efficiency of school bus routing (elementary and middle school boundaries)
• Metro transportation routes (high school boundaries)
• Demographics, including anticipated changes in enrollment
• Opportunities for creating diversity within boundaries
• Physical barriers (water, etc.)

SolvayGirl1972 said...

adhoc said "But by and far most parents say that while they have issues at the district level, with the SAP, etc., they are very very happy with their kids schools and teachers. This is certainly true for my family. "

Unfortunately that statement can't be made by many, many (if not most) parents whose children are attending southend middle and high schools. Things are lacking across the board—even at Garfield for students who did not come up through the APP track.

Is SPS failing most students? That's too strong a generalization. Is SPS failing a lot of students? In the southend, yes. Is it all SPS' fault? Certainly not. Parents/guardians and society in general can also take part of the blame. But for those students who do have the family support that inspires achievement, etc., SPS is often letting them down at southend middle and high schools. Just read some of mkd's posts about her sons' experience at RBHS if you doubt me. I've heard similar reports from parents with kids at Aki, Mercer and Franklin.

It really is an entirely different ball game south of the ship canal. You'll notice that you haven't heard too much about boundaries down here. Perhaps that's because the options are so poor it doesn't really matter. My home falls three houses with the RBHS border (rather than Franklin—a better school, but still not terrific). The map has a little bump in it's northeast corner to grab my neighborhood. Should I be complaining? Probably not. If SPS could make major improvements to RBHS and create a great STEM program at Cleveland, it would be a moot point.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Keepin' On, you're right and Ballard just happened to be on the wrong side of a historical stick. It's funny how all the parents involved - Ballard, QA, Magnolia - did nothing wrong. They all want the same thing which is a closest comprehensive high school for their kids to attend. (I'd say in their region, too, but there is no hope for that in QA/Magnolia.)

Based on some poor decisions, bad contract writing and yet more poor decisions, this is where we are. Center School should have never been opened. It wasn't what QA/Magnolia wanted and it never grew (as was promised). The director who pushed it through did not listen to the parents nor did the superintendent.

Then we had the lawsuit and then we had the land sold off.

We could have used Lincoln (which WAS a high school for decades) as a home for QA/Magnolia and Wallingford/Fremont. The blah, blah, blah issues about fields and such could have been worked out. And now we're using big 'ol Lincoln to temporarily house two itty bitty elementary schools. Makes perfect sense.

You can't blame the QA/Magnolia parents OR the Ballard parents. QA/Magnolia would tell you that they have taken it on the chin for years and deserved a solid assignment. Ballard folks could rightly say that the rug got pulled out from under them.

There were a number of people who stated historical data about what neighborhood(s) attended such-and-such school. Folks, those patterns are going to change. Life changes and it can be painful but that is what is happening.

The question is will the change bring the educational benefit we seek?

adhoc said...

h20 and Keepin on isn't it about the same distance from N. Ballard to both BHS and Ingraham?

Is transportation the main objection to sending your kids to Ingraham? If the district agreed to yellow bus service, would that make it more desirable?

And, it is HS, so I bet a number of sophomores, Juniors and Seniors will drive themselves (and hopefully car pool). I know many kids drive to my sons high school.

SPSMom said...

"Money and lawsuits do talk sometimes I think."

I disagree, it was CHS becoming an Option school that forced all of QA/Mag into BHS. Had CHS remained an attendence school, QA could have gone to GHS, and frankly I think QA was suprised not to get that assignment.

Rememeber, they have been avocating for Lincoln to be opened as a highschool for years now.

You have to fault the district and its ongoing lack of long term planning as well as political issues, i.e. how can you open a highschool in the northend when there is so much room in the southend.

In my opinion all they needed to do was put a Bio-Tech program into CHS and I think it would have become a very attractive option for those living in that attendance area. Making CHS an option school with a STEM program was probably the most ineffective route to filling the school.

KSG said...

Actually, it's more than twice the distance from N. Ballard (the area in Ingraham boundary) to Ingraham as it is to BallardHS.

I think yellow buses partially fix the issue. Although yellow buses, at least in the past, had their problems. For example, when I was in HS half of the students could do no extracurriculars as there was no bus drop-off for them before or after normal school hours. Kind of makes it hard to have a thriving school body when no ones participates in any clubs, athletics, or events at the school.

I'd say that if they could do a yellow bus service, and maybe an online commuter service, like Microsoft's Connector, that would allow students/parents to reserve a small car/van to have the pickedup/dropped off at other hours (maybe between 6:30am and 7pm) -- that would be a reasonable solution to the issue.

My main concern is time on the metro bus that could be used for studying puts children at a severe disadvantage. I personally prefer Ingraham as a school over BHS, but given a choice between walking to Ballard and riding metro to Ingraham, walking to Ballard is the obvious choice.

Keepin'On said...

Transportation is certainly one issue AdHoc - but I do believe the bigger one is the quality and equity of offerings at the schools, and also the fact that the district is splitting the community. Ingraham HS is simply not part of the Ballard community.

Also I hear that Ingraham is a fine place if you are in the IB program, but no so fine if you are not. What do you do then?

My position is that the high schools need to be left out of this New SAP until they are ALL equitable. If I lived south if the Ship canal I would be furious about this plan. The only people who are happy are the ones who get Garfield, Roosevelt, Hale or Ballard HS as an assigned school. Lets not pretend anyone else is happy about this plan at the HS level.

Our high schools are not equitable, they are not even and they do not offer the same things. Until they do, you cannot force assignment to them, and hope the parents will do the job that the district cannot do.

But good luck turning this ship around.

Michael said...

Melissa is absolutely right. Don't give up.

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock" - Thomas Jefferson

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Well said Keepin' On!

hschinske said...

"I find it so discouraging that Queen Anne and Magnolia get to move as intact neighborhoods through elementary, middle and high school, when no other neighborhoods in the city get to do that."

What about the neighborhood near Aki Kurose and Cleveland? Surely they could manage to get into those schools?

Helen Schinske

adhoc said...

"Also I hear that Ingraham is a fine place if you are in the IB program, but no so fine if you are not. What do you do then? "

I've not heard anything discouraging about the quality of the teachers and classes at Ingraham. In fact, they have more honors and AP classes than Nathan Hale does, and they have the full IB diploma program on top of that. The only complaints I have heard about the school are about disruptive kids in the classrooms. Starting next year, if the SAP boundaries stay as proposed, the south end kids that currently bus to Ingraham will be shut out, and the school will be full of north end neighborhood kids. The FRE rate will drop from 53% to 39%. I know it's not PC to say, but this will change the environment of the school and my guess is that classroom behavior at IGH will become similar to classroom behavior at BHS.

Keepin on what are the "quality and equity" issues between IGH and BHS? It would be helpful to say what you think the main deficiencies at Ingraham are?

And, if N Ballard doesn't go to Ingraham, who should? Should they assign kids that live even further away from the school? Or, continue filling it with south end kids?

I have been a strong advocate (check out several of my posts) on leaving HS assignments out of the new SAP. I feel that we need choice at HS, not only because all HS's are not even, but because they are so unique and each has their own "specialties". Like bio tech at Ballard and IB at Ingraham. They are both great and popular programs, but are very different. however, it looks like the new SAP is going to happen, and it will include HS.....

mayvoxwork said...

Melissa, we are hoping the board listens and acts equitably. My husband and I just sent a note to the Seattle times opinion section.

NO ON 30TH AVE BORDER FOR ROXHILL

“This is the most unkindest cut of all.” Shakespeare.

When the first attendance plan for Roxhill came out, it made some sense. Roxhill neighborhood remained reasonably intact with safe walking zones for students, but too small. Now new recommendations gut the west boundary from 35th to 30th, and push the north boundary from Thistle to Holden, an illogical move dividing a neighborhood and negating major district objectives: proximity, walkability, neighborhood identity, diversity and equity.

This proposal removes a core of single-family homes within Roxhill’s walk zone. The result concentrates higher poverty areas at Roxhill while further diluting Arbor Heights’ economic and ethnic diversity.

From where we stand, the school board seems to pay attention only to Water-view, Wealthy, White West Seattle. Who represents our Roxhill community in these proceedings? Remember when Arbor Heights was coached to offered up Roxhill when they themselves were named for closure? Unkind.

Our son thrives at Roxhill, academically and socially. He gets an excellent education provided in a diverse and respectful community of learners with knowledgeable, caring and dedicated staff. Keep Roxhill a Westwood Neighborhood school.


Brian Hutchison
May Ovalles
Roxhill parents
On 32nd Avenue SW, West

Our petition already has signatures from people in the neighborhood as well as in the Arbor Heights neighborhood. If some of the families there think this is inequitable also we hope to get more of the board's attention.

emeraldkity said...

HS, so I bet a number of sophomores, Juniors and Seniors will drive themselves (and hopefully car pool). I know many kids drive to my sons high school.


That may have been true when I went to high school in the 70's in the suburbs, but I know few people who attended private high school with my older daughter and fewer teens who attended school with my younger daughter who had regular use of a car and even fewer who had their own car.

Fuel, maintenance and insurance are all very expensive. My kids are now 19 & 27 and neither has regular use of a car, although my older daughter does use flexcar at times.

This is an economic issue as well as an environmental one, I would like to see many more students and teachers walk or ride bikes to school- and their building remodels( and public transportation routes) should be planned with that in mind.

The Donahues said...

We are refering to concentric circles as a tiebreaker for those who are NOT included in the boundaires. For instance if there are 20 open K spots and 30 siblings outside the zone want to get in - how do you decide? A lottery does not seem fair or keep witeh objective of neighborhood schools (walkabel etc.) We are suggesting concentric after reference have been placed and only if there are too many siblings. (Which a few schools are guessing may happen.) We agree concetric as the placement variable does not work but it does for tiebreakers. It would help those just one or 2 blocks off as boundary line.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Donahues, see I would support trying some of this ideas during the transition plan. I get what you are saying about the concentric circles AND getting the most kids walking (or likelihood of) to school.

Why not try this for a couple of years? Why not try the "soft or bubble" boundary option? Yes, it means more computer programming (and I guess that is too scary with the VAX) but this SAP has to be a living, breathing instrument that can be flexible as demographics warrant.

I think it better to try the new and different under the transition plan and see what results you get from it. If not, then we go back to the original idea of lottery.

The Donahues said...

Thank You. We are saying that under under tiebreaker it is proposed that lottery go after siblings. If one family lives 5 miles away and one lives 2 blocks (from the boundary or school) - what do you think is fair? This plan would directly impact the neigborhoods and help those who are "on the wrong side of the street" - literally. We very much hope they can grandfather all siblings, but when they can't a lottery does not address they key objectives walkable and neigborhood schools. A concentric circle would help to make the tiebreaker decision. It is much like the "bubble idea". (Which I am very intrigued by theoretically). The poor families who are on the line are going crazy! By the way, thank you for being so active!

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

"fewer teens who attended school with my younger daughter had regular use of a car and even fewer had their own car."

That may be so at your private school - maybe parents are foregoing cars for their kids in order to pay the $15-20000 yr tuition?.

But it is not true at Nathan Hale where my son goes to school. Their student parking lot if full, full, full. In addition to filling their own parking lot, kids park across the street at Jane Addams, and up and down the blocks adjacent to the school (I know I live on one of them).

I'm certainly not advocating for sending kids far away from home and making them drive to school. But driving is a real option for many HS kids. I know not everyone has the resources to buy a car, gas, maintenance, and, expecting families to drive can not and should not be part of the SAP in any way. But for those who can drive, it's another option.

KSG said...

The Donahues, I completely agree with the idea of an additional tie-breaker criterion. I proposed a ratio based tiebreaker, so to not adversely affect Magnolia/QA.

Distance Tiebreaker = Distance to your neighborhood school / Distance to your choice school

So the further your neighborhood school is from you, and the closer your choice school is, the higher up on the list you are. This way people in QA who aren't close to any school, actually get a bonus when it comes to open choice.

Of course if you live across the street from your neighborhood school, it will be harder to get your top choice school -- but that doesn't seem like an unreasonable tradeoff.

emeraldkity said...

I believe tuition at the private school is about $25,000- but many of the families I met had strong ideas about education- money spent on education, would not otherwise be spent on a car if they were attending pubic school.

Additionally, generous financial aid was available for tuition- not so for teen transportation!

I realize that driving is an option for some families- several of my peers share autos with their children. However when you combine the graduated liscensing restrictions, the $560 cost for driver's ed in SPS and the cost of a reliable auto, it should not be considered as a work around for the lack of yellow bus ,inefficent bus routes, or unsafe bike corridors.

zb said...

Driving is a difficult option, too, because of the restriction that you can only drive with members of your immediate family in the car. It means a teen can't carpool with other teens in their neighborhood.

But, how do HS kids get to school these days? I looked through the boundary maps, which include a consideration of how much of each HS school is within a single metro-bus route to the school. All the HS have 2-metro bus routes (Laurelhurst for Roosevelt, for example, because Laurelhurst has only one bus route that goes through it, and it goes downtown; the Queen Anne section of the QA/Magnolia area for Ballard, and the South Ingraham area). At least one of those (Laurelhurst) already has kids going to Roosvelt. How do they get there? I'm guessing they drive or are driven.

What proportion of current high schoolers take 2 busses to school? Off hand, it seems like an unreasonable expectation to me.

bj

adhoc said...

"Driving is a difficult option, too, because of the restriction that you can only drive with members of your immediate family in the car. It means a teen can't carpool with other teens in their neighborhood."

This is only true for the first 6 months kids have their license. After 6 months they can have up to 3 people under the age of 20 in the car with them.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

Private school tuition (according to Emeraldkity) 25,000 per year X 4 years = $100,000

VS

Safe, economy (small) used car: $8,000

Drivers ed $550

Insurance 2400.00 yr x3 years (soph/jr/senior years) = $7200

maintenance $500 yr X 3 years = $1500

Gas to/from school only $1200 yr??

Grand total to get your child a car, send him to drivers education, maintain the car, supply gas for it, and insure it total for all 3 years is: $18,450

Then if your child didn't totally trash the car, there would be some resale value too!!

So
Private school $100,000 VS Car to drive self to public $18,450

Now I know many many families can't afford $18,450 for a car and maintenance , mine included. But, when comparing it to private school as emeralkity did it does seem like quite the bargain!

seattle citizen said...

Microsoft has (had?) a bunch of little buses that would pick people up here in Seattle and run them all the way over to Redmond...can't we organize some sort of mix of transpo (metro/yellow/parent-guardian/skateboard that gets students to the school that offers them what they need?

gavroche said...

Clearly there are many legitimate grievances about how the Seattle School District is being managed and the decisions that Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson, the School Board & JSC admin are making.

Why don't we all simply say "HELL NO!" to all of it.

Rally at the School Board meetings.

Bring signs and demands.

A united parent/student/teacher opposition to SPS (mis)management could also get national media attention -- which appears to be one of the only ways to get the attention of this PR-obsessed School Board and Superintendent.

Chris said...

Yes, Gavroche! Next Wednesday? 6pm? JSC perhaps?

Since Melissa said don't give up, I'll share another big-change but common sense idea I heard last weekend. If HS transportation is by Metro, arrange boundaries based on Metro arterials. In the N of the ship canal, this would result in 4 long skinny strips - Ballard along 15th NW, Ingraham along Aurora, Roosevelt along Roosevelt, and Hale along 35th NE/Lake City Way.

That said, if transportation is metro, I agree with posters here that a HS SAP is unnecessary and unfair.

Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, Roosevelt has yellow buses for ELL and Special Ed and one bus just for Laurelhurst (I think it runs just in the monring) because Metro doesn't serve that area. So no, those kids don't all drive.

It's one reason we have been given for not having a later start time. Hale, for example, has no yellow bus service so they can start when they want to. I wonder, though, if they are putting more Special Ed at each school if that will remain the same?

adhoc said...

In Florida where my family lives, there are private bus companies that run yellow buses to/from the private schools (and many publics too). It is not school district transportation, it is a private company, that charges fees directly to the families that they serve.

I know there is an equity issue whenever there is a fee involved, so it probably wouldn't work district wide, but it might be the answer for those families stuck in the middle (poor METRO option, but can't afford a car)

mkd said...

Perhaps my choice of words, "SPS is failing students, at good and bad schools, elementary through high school" generalizes a problem that only applies to a certain number of schools. As many have said, Seattle has many schools that are way above average and serve the needs of their students well.

We're at a south end school so I tend to view SPS through different lenses. Certainly, the school has made vast improvements from what I've heard, but I don't think enough to attract students within the new boundaries. Consider how many Rainier Beach kids bus this way to attend schools up here.

One solution I can absolutely recommend, funnel problem students out quickly into programs more suited to meet the special needs "at risk" pose. Once students who want to learn are given an environment conducive to learning, the natural result is a school more desirable to those in its boundary.

By the way, my kids, like many others, are riding metro to schools more than an hour from their homes. To get to Ingraham from my house, for example, a child would have to leave at 6:15am, transfer three times (once at Pioneer Square) and then walk 12 minutes to get to the high school.

SE Mom said...

Melissa-

Have you heard if Roosevelt will be giving tours this year for those
looking at open choice seats?

I was told by someone who knows a Hale teacher that high school tours will not be given this year because of the new SAP.

I am hoping tours will still be part of open enrollment.

adhoc said...

SE mom, not sure who said Hale will not be giving tours? But that is not correct. They are having tours as usual. I know this because they are asking for volunteers to help lead them, and I signed up. They will, however, be later than usual this year, due to the new SAP and enrollment dates.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SE Mom, I haven't heard anything different about the tours. Anyone who is interested is welcome to come to a Roosevelt tour.

Interesting though, I wonder how the tour participation might change?

Jessica said...

Just adding 2 cents: I don't agree that concentric circles and distance from a school should be a tie-breaker after the SAP "guarantees" a seat to in-boundary students. The advantage of a lottery system is that it treats everyone equally, period. It doesn't favor families that happen to live across the street or a few blocks closer than someone else. People buy houses for all sorts of reasons - especially the price - and I don't think the precise distance from a school's front door should be one of them. Certainly many people are unhappy w/the new boundaries, but I think the predictability and neighborhood schools are a huge advantage over the uncertainties of the old system.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

I agree with Jessica, and I posted this a few threads back:

Wasn't the whole point of the "lottery" seats so kids from all over the district could choose schools that would meet their needs? Concentric circles for assignment instead of open lottery would allow only only kids living near Roosevelt to have access to their award winning jazz band? And only kids living near Ingraham to get into the IB diploma program? And only kids living near Ballard to get into the bio tech academy?

I understand that families want to stay close to home and attend schools in their neighborhoods, but, think about how you would feel if you were a family in the RBHS boundary?? What if RBHS wasn't acceptable to you??? And due to an assignment plan that used concentric circles you couldn't get into Roosevelt, Garfield, Ballard, Hale, Ingraham, Sealth, etc., because you were further away than other families? It's not fair to penalize families based on their address.

The new SAP assures everyone a guaranteed assignment to a school close to their home. If you don't like that school then you can apply for a lottery seat at another school, or try for an option school, but no special preferences.

You have to look at the big picture, and think about how a change in the SAP that might benefit you may negatively affect someone else.

I think we need to stick with lottery and not move toward any geographic tie breakers. All of our schools are not equal yet. And, they are all so unique and each offer different specialty focuses. Until schools are equitable and equal across the district we need to give all families access, little as it may be (10%) to schools that will meet their needs."

Keepin'On said...

Ah yes, but don't forget AdHoc, that the sibling tiebreaker is the first tiebreaker for "Open Choice" seats. And if the board decides to grandfather siblings as well... well lets just say, "choice" will no longer exist at all at some schools, as for the next few years, siblings will fill those seats.

Ryan said...

I read Donahues comments to mean elementary schools and after all reference school kids are seated. High Schools are different. Are you seriously suggesting a 6 year old sibling child who lives one block from a boundary line should be placed in a lottery with a sibling who lives 5 miles away from the school? That is ridiculous! This concentric circle will only come into play AFTER all sibling spots are taken which lottery will never come before siblings. That is certain. I only see it relevenat if there are more siblings that want to attend than are spaces AFTER reference kids are admitted. I am an advocate for elementary concentric circles and high schools to be open choice. Older children can make different choices, have more access to different transpostation and there are only few programs (music etc.) that need to fullfill these academic opportuntiies.

KSG said...

adhoc and Jessica, you can't have it both ways. You can't say that Open Choice is great, and then support the boundary system. The boundary system pretty much kills any choice in the sytem. The lottery is such a small part of the pie that it is insignificant.

The fact of the matter is that this new proposal from the school board effectively eliminates all choice (except the option schools), and relegates you to a school near where you live. I've heard several wealthier parents say, "Just move near the school you'd like your child to attend". Unfortunately, this isn't an option for many parents. We've simply gone back to a largely class system for enrolling students at high schools.

I personally thought the old system was actually pretty good... except get rid of the distance tiebreaker (that did adversely affect some residents). It gave students the option to choose where they wanted to go to school. Which is especially important given that the Seattle High Schools offer such different programs.

dj said...

I am not a fan of the SAP, but, that said, if we are moving to the SAP, I do not support any of these geographic/concentric circle type tiebreakers. As Adhoc points out, and as posters have pointed out repeatedly on other threads, there are a lot of schools in this district that are unsafe, non-comprehensive, or otherwise unacceptable to families. Noone should have to attend them. Those schools should have been improved and *then* people should have been assigned to them. But, if that's not going to happen, and there are going to be some seats at acceptable schools open, I personally consider it a higher priority to give kids in unacceptable schools a shot at seats in acceptable schools than to give kids in acceptable schools reasonably close to their homes a comparative lock on seats in acceptable schools even closer to their homes.

That said, and in the same vein, I would be fully supportive of a FRE tiebreaker for choice seats, although I've been told on this blog repeatedly that this is a dead letter.

Ryan said...

what is a FRE tiebreaker?

Lisa said...

FRE = Free & Reduced Lunch participants. Shorthand for low-income.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Sorry, but I don't see how the FRL tiebreaker is fair to any of the middle-class families who find themselves in an attendance are with unsafe and/or underperforming schools. Why is it OK for my child to be stuck any more than a low-income child?

In our society today, the middle class is constantly finding itself between a rock and a hard place—too much income to qualify for loans, scholarships, special enrichment programs (Rainier Scholars et al.) etc. but not quite enough income to pay for all of this stuff without breaking the bank or doing without.

A lottery with NO tie-breakers would be the fairest way to allow students to access the schools and programs that could benefit them most. And personally, as I have said many times on this bog, I would like to see some seats in special programs (jazz, drama, biotech, etc.) set aside for admission by some sort of application process (auditions, teacher recommendations, grades—whatever applies). The exceptional jazz musician who lives near Cleveland should be able to have a realistic shot of accessing one of the jazz programs at Garfield or RHS.

And, I also agree with the bloggers who would prefer to see all HS seats open to lottery. Until students have access to equitable programs and course offerings (all at the level of Garfield et al.) they should not be penalized due to the location of their residence.

adhoc said...

KSG said "adhoc and Jessica, you can't have it both ways. You can't say that Open Choice is great, and then support the boundary system"

Not trying to have it both ways at all. My preference is open choice seats for high school. But if we can't have that (and it looks like we can't) and we must have boundaries for HS, then the least we could do is have the 10% open choice seats be pure lottery and not tied to geography.

Ryan I'm a bit confused at what you are suggesting? For elementary all kids within the boundary of school X get in. If there are open seats after that, sibs get assigned to those seats. If there are still open seats after all reference kids and sibs are assigned then it goes to lottery. At what point do you see a need for a geographic tie breaker??

And, dj, I couldn't have said it better:

"I personally consider it a higher priority to give kids in unacceptable schools a shot at seats in acceptable schools than to give kids in acceptable schools reasonably close to their homes a comparative lock on seats in acceptable schools even closer to their homes."

sixwrens said...

My understanding is that the geographic tiebreaker was (rightly) eliminated because it created unequal opportunity. For example, a family who lives w/in 1 mile of 2 good elementary schools has a better shot than a family that is close to only one. The multi-school issue doesn't hold for MS or HS, but in those cases it seems like those on the lottery list should all have an equal chance.

I think try-outs for special programs is a great idea, in some sense it extends the idea of the APP test-in to music and science.

Ryan said...

The issue at hand is that 4 elemenatry schools are concerned that all of the siblings will not get in next year after the "reference area" children are admitted. I ONLY see it as an issue under one circumstance.... if there are too many siblings - which is a likely scenerio at Laurelhurst, Whittier, Hay and Montlake - from the talk at the meetings. After they ;let in all the reference kids - then the tiebreaker between siblings shoudl be geography not lottery. This may be a one or two year issue to address - that is why the bubble idea is a good one to explore.

Also what are you suggesting for the 10% HS seats? Lottery or "try out?" You can not have it both ways there either. Those 10% seats are going to be the most scrutinized and political issue next year.

Seattle said...

I support the idea of students (especially elementary age students) going to a neighborhood school. What frustrates me is that we have now been drawn out of our original reference area/neighborhood school (our "assigned" school before the new map boundaries were proposed).

My daughter is currently attending that school which is 3 minutes away. However, since all the new maps have been out, we have been assigned to 3 different schools. We were taken out of the Olympic View area and drawn into Bagley. We were then drawn into Viewlands which won't be open next year and I have a son starting kindergarten in 2010. Consequently he is supposed to go to Broadview which is much further from our Licton Springs Neighborhood.

I know there has been a lot of discussion about the North East boundary cluster, but there should also be some discussion about the North boundary cluster. Some of the current boundaries that have been drawn do not make any neighborhood/geographic sense. It appears that the district is sometimes too focused on other issues when drawing lines.

I think the grandfathering of siblings is a must, at least in the elementary schools. At the very least, the district should give priority to siblings who were attending their old neighborhood/reference school if the new map proposals take them out of that area. It is not our fault that boundary lines got shifted. We should not be penalized for choosing a neighborhood reference school prior to these new map drawings.

I also think try-outs for special programs at the high school level (for jazz, bio tech, etc.) is a must.

KSG said...

Thanks for the follow-up adhoc. That seems consistent.

I find it interesting that there seems to be a decent number of people on this blog that support "Open Choice", yet it seems the board thinks its dead. Is this an echo chamber, or can we actually get HS "Open Choice" back on the books?

dj said...

Solvaygirl, I am not suggesting that it is more acceptable for middle-class families to be assigned to undesirable schools, but I am suggesting that it is undesirable in general to have one set of schools with extreme concentrations of FRE students and another set of schools with extremely modest populations. For that reason, I'd like more mobility for FRE kids.

As I said upthread, to my understanding the district won't consider a FRE tiebreaker. I do not support geographic tiebreakers for the reasons I also mentioned upthread. I continue to think it absolutely unconscionable that the district keeps trumpeting the new SAP as somehow promoting school excellence or equity when there is no "improving schools" type component to the plan and when the district is assuming that for most schools, the population composition of students is going to remain pretty steady from the "old system."

adhoc said...

I understand the thought behind try outs for specialty programs but am not sure I fully support it. It is true that if a kid is a talented trumpet player they should have access to Garfield or Roosevelt HS, since they have nationally competitive, award winning bands. However if a kid is good enough to compete and get accepted to the music program at GHS or RHS, the chances are slim that he/she is from a low income family. So in a sense a try out would inadvertently exclude most low income families from more seats at popular high schools.

I think city wide lottery is a better way to go.

That trumpet player could list Garfield as their 1st choice, RHS as their 2nd choice, and the next best HS's with bands after that.

A student interested in science could apply to Ballard (bio tech) 1st choice, STEM 2nd choice, and so on

Once in the school, then try out for the specialty offerings.

That way access is equal and fair to all.

Just some thoughts...I'm not adamantly opposed to try outs, just trying to think through what the actual effect would be....and how it would impact all families.

KSG said...

adhoc, what if a school got 1% of their population for some merit based auto-accept? For example, a school with 1000 students, they'd have 10 of these slots. The school could decide how they'd use it. Maybe GHS gives all to their jazz program. Maybe Franklin opens up half for their basketball team, etc...

This gives schools with extreme specialties the chance to develop extreme talent. While at the same time, not having a large ripple effect (given it's only 1% of the student population -- even .5% would be reasonable).

adhoc said...

And, BTW, city wide lottery wouldn't benefit me, so my support of it is not self serving.

With the new SAP we get John Rogers, Eckstein, and Hale. All schools that I would happily send my kids too.

A lottery would reduce my chances of getting Eckstein and Hale, the schools I most want, but it would even the playing field so everyone had the same chance.

I value neighborhood schools very much. I always choose the schools that meet my kids needs, closest to my home. But, I truly feel for people in other neighborhoods who are being forced into unacceptable, low performing, schools, that don't meet their kids needs, and have few if any other options.

All that said, lottery takes all predictability out of assignment. Parents have zero control of where their kids will go to high school (other than listing their choices in order of preference). if I went through the lottery and my son got assigned to Rainier beach, I'd freak out and leave the district. But I'd be fine with my boys at Hale or Roosevelt or Ingraham or Ballard (in essence any school north of the ship canal). And I'd be fine with my kids at NOVA, or Center, or STEM if those schools really interested them.

So who knows what's best? Best looks different for every family, as every families situation is unique. What benefits families in SE Seattle, directly impacts families in NE Seattle. What benefits families in NE Seattle directly impacts families in SE Seattle.

Big sigh.

adhoc said...

KSG, 1% sounds reasonable to me. 10 seats doesn't detract very much from general enrollment, but it is enough to have a great impact on a band program or basketball team at a school, not to mention the benefit to the students themselves.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I like KSG's idea a lot. It would certainly help those kids who could really benefit from one of the specialty programs at a school.

Mum o 2 said...

Ryan - where did you come up with your list of 4 elem schools where siblings may not get in? I have an older child at Bagley and we have been drawn into West Woodland. I was under the impression that we will not get our second into Bagley. I would love to see some reassuring statistics...

The 1% tryout seats - EXCELLENT idea!

Myron said...

Is it true that the new the Queen Anne Elementary school has been named Sharples? What happened? This is the name of the old middle school. It had a very poor reputation and was renamed Aki Kurose MS. This is a NEW school!

Seattle said...

Ryan - I, too, am intersted in the 4 elementary schools you mentioned. We are trying to make sure my 2010 kindergartener gets to go to school with his older sister at Olympic View. We were in their boundaries, then drawn into Bagley. Then that was dropped and we were drawn into Viewlands which then puts us at Broadview. Not the predictability we want.

whittier07 said...

I know Whittier, along with several other schools, have sent a survey to current families in an attempt to figure out how many potential K-kids are out of the new Whittier attendance area. The concern is, if the new boundaries have been drawn to fill the K-classes, will there be spots for siblings to attend Whittier with their older siblings?

In the end, I think the board won't be able to "guarantee" out of attendance area siblings a spot at their older siblings school as it could leave some schools with really large K-classes.

whittier07 said...

Families with concerns about siblings should look at the web-site for "Keep our Kids Together" and sign their on-line petition.

sixwrens said...

For schools with not enough room for sibs, an overlap tie breaker would be a more equitable way to assign limited seats. First in: those with a 1st grader sib (5 years overlap), then those with a 2nd grader sib (4 years overlap)... and so on. Last would be those with a 5th grade sib and just one year of overlap.

But really, the transition plan should find a way to make room. Over the last 2 years the district made room for extra kindergarten classes at several schools (Adams, West Woodland, Greenlake, Bagley).

West Woodland also has a sib survey. Looks like there are 14 out of attendance area sibs for 2010. Whether they all get in will depend on the transition plan & how many attendance area kids successfully join sibs at other schools. Their survey also shows a rapid drop off in the number of out-of-att-area sibs.

whittier07 said...

Our survey also showed double digit out of attendance area siblings for the next 2 years and then it drops a bit for 2112 and becomes very minimal after that.

I almost think this could all be worked out by having the principals in each service area attend a meeting to figure out how to "trade" siblings so that families are kept together ... a SPS draft day!

Sahila said...

"However if a kid is good enough to compete and get accepted to the music program at GHS or RHS, the chances are slim that he/she is from a low income family."...

more glaring stereotypical assumptions on which the following illogical arguments are then based... where in Seattle, supposedly the most liberal, democratic, educated city in the entire union, does this kind of narrow, uncritical thinking come from? Where do people hide their heads and minds? In the dark, under the blankets, in the middle of winter?

Mum o 2 said...

Yes Whittier07 - I have had that same idea. A sibling swap! I just need to find someone who has an older sib in WW and is now in the Bagley attendance area. But I have the feeling it would be more complicated than that. The WW family has probably been put into BF Day area...

Chris said...

Sahila, I think she just mean kids need lessons, instruments, and a place to practice to get good...I'm pretty convinced these things are not available to all equally.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...
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Ryan said...

Thank you Whittier - you get it! And sixwrens. If all the maps are drawn close to capacity - ONLY siblings are getting in anyway (elementary). I think people who are against concentric are not looking at it from K perspective.

My only data in bringing up those 4 schools is friends who also have K studnets.

I know Hay and COE are doing those surveys as well - there was one mom at a meeting over at RHS at the group discussion who said they were trying to show that next year has a crazy amount of siblings. I think Laurelhurst is working on one as well. The data will just be a guideline that with about the schools district needs to do it as well to verify - it is very easy to get teh data. Otherwise they are going to be a world of hurt come June/July/August when there are too many siblings that want to go to school with their families. Or the K classes will be HUGE or people have threatened to leave the SPS if tehy cant get siblings together. And before someone jumps on me and says let them - you forget you WANT those families who are active and have money and time to invest in the schools - saying "fine just go" makes the schools suffer financially and with less parent involvement. Remember schools are funded on a per studnet basis. If someone cares enough to leave to go to private school they are (most likely) an involved parent/familiy. There is no way we can ever afford private but I know families at Laurelhurst who can and we all appreciate the time and $ they put in. Lets keep teh involved parents rich and poor involved in the SPS!

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

Yup, Chris, is right. Instruments are expensive - my kids saxophones cost almost $400 each, used. If you are planning on playing in the RHS or GHS jazz band you will likely need a higher quality instrument which can range from $700-$3000, and you have to buy it yourself. Maintaining instruments is expensive too - $50 per year for a sax tune up and they regularly need adjusting and tuning too. Then there are all of the accessories like music books, wax, cleaning brushes, Reeds @ $25 a box. And if you are good enough to audition you have probably taken private music lessons, which or course are, well, very expensive. My kids lessons cost $150 a month, per kid.

And even with all of this my kids are nowhere near the level they would have to be at to compete for a seat in the RHS jazz band.

And on top of all the above, parents also need to transport kids to their lessons which isn't so easy if you don't have a car or are working long hours. And, kids need plenty of time to practice which may also be difficult with a loud instrument in an apartment (neighbor disturbance)!

So my guess is that there are not a huge number of low income families with kids that will be auditioning for seats at the GHS and RHS jazz bands. It is probably not a high priority for families struggling to put a meal on the table or pay rent.

Which is exactly why I said that the auditions might not be the best idea. They could inadvertently take seats away from low income families trying to get into popular schools.

Charlie Mas said...

Myron asked: "Is it true that the new the Queen Anne Elementary school has been named Sharples? What happened? This is the name of the old middle school. It had a very poor reputation and was renamed Aki Kurose MS. This is a NEW school!"

When the District renamed Sharples after Aki Kurose they did not follow their own rules for naming buildings and they didn't show any respect to the remaining members of the Sharples family. Consequently, they committed to naming the next new school or building after Sharples.

I guess South Shore didn't count.

Seattle said...

sixwrens - I don't know if having an overlap tie breaker like you suggested would be fair either, though there is some logic behind your thinking. Why should a parent who had kids close together get priority? And why should other parents be penalized if they didn't have kids close together in age? (In fact, I know several parents who wanted kids close together, but that just wasn't what nature/God allowed.)

One could also easily argue that the overlap tie breaker should go the other way since the parent with an older child has already invested quite a bit of time in the school and the younger sibling has grown up in the halls of that particular school.

Myron said...

Seems like the board should re-consider this action of naming a new school, that needs people to enroll in it, after a failed school. It is not the reputation of the person that is carried on but the reputation of the former building that will be remembered. Nice Start! People I know are already shaking their heads over this.

dj said...

I do not support giving "try out" spots for high school. I echo Adhoc's concerns (hey, Adhoc -- I don't think I've ever stalked you around a thread before for the purpose of voicing vigorous agreement), and would add two more. One, that who knows how high schools would use those slots, and frankly I think there's quite a bit of danger that the answer would be "to fill out sports teams," largely. Second, and relatedly, I am sorry, but when all of the high schools don't offer a comprehensive, great education to all kids, I don't want seats set aside for non-academic reasons. Might some people "choose" (quotes because who knows how much actual choice there will be) a school for jazz band? Sure. But I don't think that choice is worthy of greater status than the choice of a school for academic reasons.

Ryan said...
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Ryan said...

I agree a competive band that travels or a HS sport team is NOT a reason for a child to get a spot at a school. Academics come first. Once all schools are equal academically THEN you can play with trombones, footballs and tubas. As I said earlier these are wants not needs. Our kids need to all pass tests WAY above a D average before a JaZZ band becomes a front and center decison maker. I heard an crazy numder (just parents talking) that the Jazz band raises and uses more than $250K for events, travel, expenses teachers etc. That is crazy! (But understandable as one parent on this list pays more than $2000 a year for music investment). There is no doubt there are talented students and hopefully they can all read and write at their grade level before they focus all energy on music. High School is a diploma - after high school - focus on one thing - but everyone needs a rounded solid high school education to be prepared to buy a home, read a contract (especially if Virgin Records comes calling), balance a checkbook, pay your taxes, balance household expenses, take out a car loan and become a part of general society and then God bless those who are gifted at music with a strong academic foundation they can go very far with smarts AND music.

KSG said...

dj and Ryan, the role of public schools is to educate. Not simply 1+1 and ABC, but also arts and athletics are an important part of a well-rounded education.

While I agree that we shouldn't sacrifice the three Rs, but at the same time I think we've done our children a great disservice by cheating them out of a real liberal arts education. Furthermore, I think we also tend to do a disservice (nationwide) for our most talented students (outside of athletics), in that we rarely give them the challenges they need -- especially if their parents are not professors at the UW.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

I agree with KSG, the arts are an integral and critical part of a well rounded education. Working as a musician, singer, actor, dancer, filmmaker or photographer, is a fine career, and is just as respectable as working as an engineer, scientist, or doctor. Many families place tremendous value on our liberal arts specialty programs, as you can tell by their wild popularirty. We should wholly and fully support them, and try to figure out a way to give every family equitable access to them.

I appreciate that Ryan and dj value core subjects over the arts. That's their choice and it's fine - for their kids. But just as their kids may be drawn to math and science, other kids are drawn to an art, and want to pursue that art in their future.

NE Parent said...

Parents at many elementary schools in the district (like 20+) are conducting sibling surveys. The data I've seen thus far suggests that there are a number of siblings in 2010, 2011, and 2012--and then there is a fairly significant drop-off in the numbers. There will be much of what Tracy Libros calls "swirl" where some out-of-attendance area students want to go to Bryant, some to West Woodland, etc.--back and forth between the schools. Tracy has acknowledged that this likely won't be a big issue at most schools. There are a few that may be more problematic, but even there the swirl will minimize problems. That's why the district is also going to be gathering sibling data in the next few weeks--so they can see whether they can accommodate siblings.

I'm not sure exactly which schools have issues yet, but I can't imagine it will be Laurelhurst. Their attendance area is drawn so small that it shouldn't be an issue.

Ryan said...

Quite frankly I just want my kids happy, have good ethics and be able to contribute to society - as a grocery clerk, a violinist or a football player or a librarian. I just think arts are wonderful but we SPS dont even have the 3 R's well done yet...once those are fair and equitable to all ...then by all means...musicians and artists make the world a more beautiful place. But I firmly believe while liberal arts are in the best for all society - when we are talking about letting D's count as passing grades in math we have bigger issues in SPS.

Stu said...

I just think arts are wonderful but we SPS dont even have the 3 R's well done yet...once those are fair and equitable to all ...then by all means...musicians and artists make the world a more beautiful place.

But no one's talking about one over the other. Two high school in this city having nationally recognized award winning music programs. What some of us are suggesting is that not having a way for advanced middle school musicians to have access to those programs is not only unfair to those students but to those programs as well. Same for science, math, sports, etc. ALL high schools should offer a quality education, that's should be a given; however, since this district has a number of different programs, and ALL high schools aren't offering these same programs -- I'm not talking about quality of schools at the moment -- it makes much more sense for families to have some sort of choice at the high school level. Busing isn't an issue so why is this wrong?

stu

Myron said...

Shouldn't all students have the same access to high level music?

sixwrens said...

not all students want access to high level music, and some really want it and are very good at music. shouldn't they have a good shot at the particular program?

Ryan said...

Oh sorry I do not think it is wrong - but when resources are limited you do have to choose. I am a huge suporter of open HS seats - just not for elementary. Why send an athlete to a music school or a champion violinist or even someone who wants to be to a school for science? agreed but it it not that simple unless ALL schools have one area that they excell or have exceptional programs and that is clearly not the case. When there is such great inequity in our schools it feels like (true at the expense of the musician) core R's need to be first - my assumption is that most of these excellent musicians can read and write at or above grade level - because of good parents and schools. what about the hundreds of kids who dont have either good school or involved parents. do they get "left behind" so the musician can go to a better school? Public schools are not required to teach music, they are required to graduate kids with the basic r's. I am not saying anything against the musicians again it all comes to resources. If parents can find all that $ for music lessons etc and raise maney (i know all are not wealthy) then extra curricular music programs at all community centers, churches, etc can be found near ALL schools. I love the HS bands but they involve such a small percentge. I do like the idea that the kids raise the $ themselves for these programs - further supporting education on saving $ and planning - all skills our kids need. Graduating with money wise kids who are beautiful muscians is WONDERFUL.

Ryan said...

Ok another way to put it - two kids are at a poorly performing HS - one is an excellent trumpet player with a B average in class. Another is from a home where these skills or encouragement is never given - good kid but has a D average - teachers are not there to help and no one is there to encourage. This kid has tested well above average intellect but his/her peers don't help either is the poorly performing schools environment. The kid shows great promise and just wants the stable solid academic environment to flourish. Who should get the spot at RHS??? By the way neither apply to my family - I think it is hard to separate theory from our own children.

Charlie Mas said...

Ryan wrote: "Once all schools are equal academically THEN you can play with trombones, footballs and tubas."

Since all schools will never be equal academically, this is the same as saying you can NEVER play with trombones, footballs and tubas.

dj said...

Perhaps I am not being clear? The idea is not that kids can't go to a school for the jazz band, but that I don't think it is fair to privilege "I want to be in the jazz band" over "I want to participate in the acadmic program" by offering kids in the former category "saved seats" in the choice process.

KSG said...

dj, I don't think its about saved seats for the "jazz program" per se, but rather saved seats for programs where exceptional talent can be nurtured. And again, I'd argue that it would be a very small percentage of saved seats.

The issue is that we likely won't have completely equal schools across the board (unless we make them all equally bad somehow). And given that they're not equal and some schools will excel beyond even the standard variance seen at most distributions within a school district... it would be great to get students who could benefit from these great programs to attend them.

It's not about privilege of one student over another. But its pragmatism. I'd much rather see our best excel, than have our best regress to the mean because they live in a certain area. And frankly, I don't think this will affect many students. Literally on the order of 10-20 students per class across all of Seattle - across all endeavors (academics, arts, athletics, etc...).

Andrew said...

Ryan,

"Equal" doesn't necessarily mean "the same." While I believe that every school needs to offer a quality education, I don't believe that they have to be clones. My complaint is that the district, IN ADDITION, to having some bad schools, isn't giving equal access to special programs. If the district is going to offer language immersion, it's ridiculous that only those who live around the building can go, i.e., JSIS. If that isn't an option program, I don't know what is. (This comes up again with Sand Point and Jane Addams; if the district wants to relieve the pressure in the Northeast cluster, give the families the option to go someplace different! This isn't rocket science . . . though that might be a great option. A language immersion K-8 at Jane Addams, or a real science/math/technology program . . . langauge at Sand Point for elementary . . . people will come!)

A friend of mine is a cellist; she's in 7th grade and, in addition to plaiyng in her middle school orchestra, plays in a number of community orchestras . . . she's very good. In two years, she'll be "assigned" to Nathan Hale which might be a fine school for some people but doesn't have an orchestra. Since she's within walking distance to Roosevelt, which does have an orchestra, this assignment makes no sense at all. This is the same thing with ALO/Spectrum students who might be ready for AP classes. Why should they be assigned to a school that has very few AP classes when another school, in the same neighborhood, has the full selection?

I'm not saying that the district should go out of it's way to create every program at every school; I'm saying the every student should have equal access to every "optional" program. As long as the district is offering a program, arbitrarily cutting off access to that program is insane.

Of course, make every school good. More importantly, make every school desirable . . . whether it's science, math, music, sports, theatre, scrabble . . . if students WANT to go there, it will succeed.

- andrew

Charlie Mas said...

dj, good clarification. Thanks for that.

The District says that they will make an honest effort to bring parity to the core academic offerings in all of the high schools. I will believe it when it happens, but when it does happen I will believe it.

The District can, should and will expect every school to offer a uniform baseline set of core academic classes including advanced classes. Every school will offer different core academic classes in addition to that baseline. That's okay. The District will not and should not guarantee that every school will offer all the same classes.

The District cannot, however, expect schools to offer a uniform set of CTE courses.

Nathan Hale, for example, has the only radio broadcasting CTE in the district. Any student interested in radio should have a fair opportunity to get into Hale - not because CTE is more important or more critical than academics, but because the program at Hale is unique.

All through the development of the new student assignment plan I have argued for a separate process for enrollment and assignment in CTE academies. I have also strongly encouraged Roosevelt and Garfield to get their music programs qualified as CTE.

To provide equitable access to programs, students should be able to enroll in a high school academy separate from the enrollment in the school. The District says that the 10% set aside for out-of-area students will allow this, but I would rather see it as a more dedicated assignment.

There's music at Roosevelt and Garfield and radio at Hale. There's also biotech at Ballard, public service at Franklin, and performing arts at Rainier Beach. I also think seats should be saved in the IB programs at Ingraham and Sealth as well. The enrollment and assignment can be done the same as it is done for Spectrum now. People could choose Ballard or they could choose Ballard-biotech. Students who drop out of the program would be re-assigned back to their attendance area school.

Even students living in the attendance area should enroll in the academy if that's what they want. This will aid the capacity management effort by providing the District with a truer measure of the demand for the program and allow them to expand or duplicate the program to meet the demand.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

Now, that makes sense Charlie.

So, a HS would accept all the students who live within it's boundaries.

And the students (10%) that get in via city wide lottery for gen ed seats.

And the students who get in via citywide lottery to the schools CTE program.

That makes sense and seems equitable! Seems like the best of all worlds.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sibling swap - Tracy always says no.

Re: jazz band. There's a huge divide because of a couple of factors. The Times had a great article on this several years back. One issue is that black kids don't care about jazz anymore - it's hip hop and rap. Two, to get into Garfield or Roosevelt you probably have to have been in Eckstein or Washington's jazz bands and likely also took private lessons. Also, yes, the amounts of money raised to run these programs is huge but it also costs huge amounts to compete.

I think it unfair to think the name Sharples has a bad rep. You need to look up the history of the name and then give it the respect that the district is in trying to honor this person.

Not understanding the reference to UW professors.

I'd love it if the district gave credence to these parent surveys but I have to wonder. They don't like any data but their own.

Having access to music and the arts in high school should be a given but these jazz programs didn't just materialize. So no, it's not possible to have the same kind of program at every school.

Andrew makes a good point; being equal and being equitable aren't the same thing. You're chasing the moon if you think all schools can be equal.

Tracy Libros seems adverse to any kind of lottery for speciality programs so I don't see this happen without a lot of lobbying to the Board.

reader said...

What if your kid is an exceptional ballerina? If the schools are required to honor the extra special cellists, and give them priority at favored schools to further their professional development... then why shouldn't the ballerinas get their professional development too? Why should we all pay taxes so that only some kids get professional development, talent development... but the ballerinas not? Is that equitable? Should high schools be required to foot the bill at Pacific Northwest Ballet if they don't have a professional training in house? And shouldn't we demand A+ hip-hop programs, to match the jazz bands, if that's the trend in modern music?

As a person who studied music for many, many years to a high caliber, at the best music school. I can tell you.. the likelihood of the students at Roosevelt and Garfield becoming professional musicians is equivalent to a RBHS student becoming a professional basketball player. Not very likely. Sure a few will, but very few indeed.

And at the end of the day, while lots of kids have talents and passions... mostly, they don't wind up where they started. And that is a great thing, especially great in this country. You get to try things out, and try hard... and change. So, why should some kid... who isn't really ever going to be a professional cellist, great though they may be now, get some special seat at Roosevelt? Lots of kids should get that equal chance.

And, it isn't the job of the public schools to sort out professional development. Of course it's all the wealthy, and already privileged who would move into those favored seats (all at the already favored schools). And that isn't what we need in our public schools.

reader said...

To clarify what I'm saying. If we viewed schools as "professional training", then it would make sense to run them like the Pacific Northwest Ballet or Julliard. You recruit the best, and train them to professional standards... probably leave lots of academics behind, you'd kick people out when it became clear their talents wouldn't bear a career. But, our public schools aren't really professional training grounds, and can't/don't operate under those conditions. They create very few professionals in those areas. For the vast majority of students, they provide a unique and enhanced educational experience... a grand thing. But the fact it is really just a unique educational experience means it shouldn't be denied to those who will never be professionals. It shouldn't be limited to "only the best". Most of those high school greats, are also just future amateurs the same.

what we really are doing, is taking the interests of a region, and providing an enriching experience to as many as we can.

Stu said...

I promised myself I'd never respond to reader . . . gotta be posting just to get a response, right?

No one's suggesting the schools offer professional training programs nor is anyone trying to turn out specialists. We're merely saying that IF the district has programs at certain schools and IF there are students who are especially interested in those programs, THEN those students should have an opportunity to attend those schools. The same way that IF a student was doing advanced work in math THEN they should not be automatically assigned to a school without advanced math . . .

As a side note, and then I promise not to bite again, I know a number of musicians from the Garfield Jazz program who are, right now, at this very moment, trying to be professional musicians in New York. They're attending music schools, they're performing in clubs, and they're trying to make it in an incredibly difficult profession. They came through the WMS and Garfield programs, which did an amazing job of preparing them to take on this challenge. They are a feather in this district's cap and should not be dismissed because you never got to live your dream.

School is a place to learn and explore and, yes, even maybe discover your interests for later in life. Guidance counselors spends years learning to help students match their interests with potential colleges 'cause, like you mentioned, everyone's different. Those differences should be celebrated and encouraged, whether it's the arts or sports or math or science.

Once again, 'cause you never seem to get the basic point, all I'm suggesting is that if there are advanced music programs at particular high schools, and there are advanced musicians moving up from middle school, they should be given the opportunity to continue their musical development. Same with math; same with science; same with AP; same with theater; same with sports! I'm not suggesting that tax money be used to start professional programs -- remember that the Garfield and WMS jazz programs are supported privately -- nor that we pretend that we're turning out professional musicians. I'm suggesting that we not stifle someone's potential because they live one block farther North than a student who might not want to study music.

stu

mkd said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

One last thing. It isn't about becoming a professional musician. The biggest opportunity in being the RHS Jazz Band or Garfield Jazz Band is the opportunity to (1) go to a college/university with a great music program and (2) get a scholarship to do so. I know a guy from RHS who got a full scholarship to a university based on his work in the Jazz Band. Not everyone who does sports or music or drama will be a participant in later life but it could help if they do get a job in the field.

reader said...

Oh Stu, you just can't help yourself can you?

Kids who aren't great musicians, and who never will go to college music programs, also have the exact same right to the excellent music program in high school as those who are great. The poor musicians should get the exact same enrichment as those who think they want to be musicians. Afterall, they're both generally incorrect about their professional capacity. And for the most part, both have very little professional prospsects.

There's the weird presumption that because somebody's got a lot of resources to really dedicate to their child, and their child's passion, that somehow, the school should match that effort. That simply is neither true nor equitable. Students don't have a special right to something because they are talented. It is public school. Who are we to say some kid is more deserving of great band than other kids, even if they are more talented? Where would such a presumption ever leave kids with disabilities, for example? Should they always just get the worst of every program... because somebody else thinks they aren't as capable and will never really appreciate the education anyway? And that thinking sort of permeates down to all levels of ability.

I am not swayed by the fact that somebody got a scholarship to got to music school. Just because people get basketball scholarships, it doesn't mean they should have some certain special right to a particular school. I mean, where would it end? Why shouldn't we take kids from out of district and foster their band talents? Schools are primarily state funded. How about of state or country? The school should meet the needs of the region it serves, in the best way it can.

Stu said...
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Stu said...

You're right, I can't help myself. You seem unable or unwilling to actually understand what people say and find a way to twist it to your "privileged" argument. I never said anyone should be excluded, nor did I imply that "poor" people shouldn't have the same access. As a matter of fact, your rambling message SUPPORTS my main point; ALL kids should have access to ALL programs. That's it . . . that's the whole thesis here.

The district is telling kids that they CAN'T go to a language immersion program 'cause they live one block out of an arbitrary zone. That's not only unethical and immoral, I believe it should be illegal. If the district is offering a specialized program, which they are in lots of places, then EVERY CHILD SHOULD HAVE ACCESS.

You get fixated on the "music" example or the "app" discussions 'cause you think it's about privilege. I'm actually suggesting the opposite. It should NOT be about privilege; it should be about equal access to all.

If you want to make the argument that the public schools should offer NO specialized programs at all, that every school should be exactly the same, then that's a different discussion and not entirely an untenable position, though I think it's a foolish one. However, and here we go one last time, since the district DOES offer all these programs, ALL students should have access. ANY student interested in the IB program should be able to go; ANY student ready for AP classes, should have access to AP classes; ANY student who's interested in music, should have access to music. Nathan Hale doesn't have an orchestra and Roosevelt does; a student interested in orchestra should be able to go to Roosevelt. Roosevelt doesn't have an IB program, Ingraham does; any student interested in IB should have access to Ingraham. Any student interested in STEM should be able to go to Cleveland. This discussion isn't about quality of schools, though it's a sin that there are ANY failing programs in a district, it's about access to programs. I would have loved my son to have had a language immersion elementary education and might have chosen it over APP. . . that's how important I think language is. But we don't live near JSIS so we had no option . . . I think that's wrong.

One final note; you really need to get off the whole "musicians must have money and come from rich families" kick. My son is able to take string lessons through the public schools but we can't afford private lessons; he was able to take piano up 'til this year because the Music Center for the Northwest was willing to give us financial aid. We have neither money nor substantial savings but that doesn't mean we don't want our son to have every opportunity afforded him.

stu

reader said...

Stu, you still haven't addressed the very basic issue. You think you are entitled to something special because your kid has a demonstrated talent (or the money to develop a talent as is usually required). I don't agree. That's what private schools are for. If your kid is so talented, apply for a scholarship at a private school that develops talent in the exclusive way you like. You think the boundaries should be drawn, so that some talented kid should have priority over a non-talented kid for any given program. If there's a boundary, there's always going to be somebody just on the otherside, not able to access the school.

Should kids with no demonstrated talents, those unable to demonstrate that they can benefit from the largess of good programs to some district "expert", presumably, just go to the schools with no offerings? Should all those untalented kids, just be clustered at RBHS and Cleveland? Should the disabled kids all be required to go to RBHS and Cleveland too? If they're no good at anything, shouldn't they have to go to schools that specialized in sub-standard education? Your kid is great, so he should get to go to great schools because he deserves it. Sure they've got "special" programs at the sub-standard schools, but we all know that's just a ruse to make them look attractive don't? I reject this whole notion. So does the district, with good reason. In the case of disability, it's actually illegal to do that sort of clustering.

I do think the schools should flatten out the special offerings, and make them much more similar. I agree that they should either make special things like "immersion" available to ANYBODY who wants it, or not offer it. Current practice, is a imperfect, but a reality. All schools should have some sort of band or orchestra. Every high school should have a reasonable depth of AP classes. You really can't commit to making all schools great, if you're committed to segregation.

Stu said...

I agree that they should either make special things like "immersion" available to ANYBODY who wants it, or not offer it. Current practice, is a imperfect, but a reality. All schools should have some sort of band or orchestra. Every high school should have a reasonable depth of AP classes. You really can't commit to making all schools great, if you're committed to segregation.


You keep personalizing this as if I'm fighting for MY kid . . . I'm saying the EVERY kid deserves a great program. What I've quoted above IS the issue but you're the one ignoring the reality. Every school does not have an orchestra, or language immersion, or AP classes, or sports teams but, as long as the district offers these programs, they need to find a way to give equitable access to all students.

And you keep making this about income but it's not. Equity is even MORE important in a district with such economic and social diversity. It's even MORE important to make sure that those kids who haven't yet found their talent have programs that engage them. That's where this district is failing.

Once again, it's not about establishing "experts" or "professionals" in any particular field. It's about equal access to EXISTING programs.

And, as for your distorted logic, disabled kids are not sent to just any school, they are sent to buildings that are equipped to help them with their special needs. You automatically assume that I'm dismissing RBHS and Cleveland but there are plenty of people who've expressed interest in the STEM program at Cleveland and I believe, if the district ever gets it going, it'll draw from around the city. Students will be able to get in because the school has been unpopular in the past, however, if the school becomes established and fills up with waiting lists, my argument remains the same. The district is offering a program and denying access to all students.

We should be committed to making every program great; there should be orchestras and AP classes available in every school. However, accusing me of wanting to segregate people because I believe every student should have access to every EXISTING program, is not only insulting but ignorant.

stu

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ah, but that is the beauty of our SPS high schools. There are NO private high schools that can offer the quality and excellence in music that Roosevelt or Garfield can. That is something we can say with pride is with teachers who built excellence and parents willing to support that effort we have nationally ranked jazz bands. So you can't really tell someone to go off to a private school for that kind of experience.

Reader, you are either being obtuse or being a provocateur. No one is saying that kids shouldn't have access to music. All our high schools offer some kind of music and even RHS and GHS have band so that ANY kid can be part of making music. All that is being suggested is for the schools with the higher-level music offerings have auditions so that ANY kid can have that opportunity not just the ones who live in those boundaries and the select few who get the golden ticket Open Choice seat.

Kids need to go to high schools with offerings - of all kinds - that interest them precisely so they do find their niche and they do find what I call their "tribe" (like-minded kids).

And for the last time, there is AP available at every comprehensive high school in this district.

adhoc said...

Well I will say that if Seattle has any hope of fending off charters we are going to have to offer city wide, EQUITABLE, access to CTE programs at our high schools.

Families have access to NOVA, Center and STEM for high school, but that is just not enough. Families need access to all of our high school specialty programs like Ballard bio-tech, RHS and GHS competitive jazz band and orchestra, RHS award winning drama program, Hale's radio station, Sealth and Ingraham IB diploma programs, etc.

The more equitable access families have to unique, specialty focus, and alt programs, the less likely they will be to support charters.

The less equitable access families have to unique, specialty focus, and alt programs, the more likely they will be to support charters.

For elementary,MS, and K-8, the new SAP Option/alt schools will have limited regional transportation, thus limiting access to many families. Specialty programs like Montessori and immersion are not even considered options, and are available only to people living in their "region". And, at the high school level CTE's will only be available to the families who live within the boundaries of those schools that offer them.

Further the 10% open choice seats for HS, are bogus. They will mainly be taken by sibs.

I'd say we are flinging wide the door for charters.

We need to change this now, or not complain later.

adhoc said...

I'm not a huge fan of auditions, I prefer a more equitable city wide lottery system, especially for IB, finance academy or humanities at Franklin, Radio station at Hale, and bio-tech at BHS. For these programs you really do not need any particular training to enter, just motivation and desire.

That said, I don't know enough about jazz band and drama, so forgive me for asking what might seem like dumb questions. Could a kid without experience come into jazz band or a drama program via city wide lottery, and with the expert training he would receive in the program, be brought up to speed and be able to compete? Or would he need to come in already performing at a certain level? If, the latter, then maybe we would need try outs for certain programs??

dj said...
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dj said...

Here's a question, for those advocating for try-out seats.

Let's say Garfield says, "you know what, we have plenty of people in our attendance area + the APP population to fill out our music program." Not an unlikely scenario, since it would appear that they currently fill out their program without audition-based choice seats. Would people be equally comfortable with Garfield deciding to use these 10 proposed "audition" seats to recruit basketball talent?

mkd said...

Whether you love or hate my past posts, I thought the first paragraph is too IMPORTANT to ignore:

A correction regarding my report on books at Rainier Beach: I found my younger son using one of our old homeschool books, PUBLISHED IN 1993, World Cultures: A Global Mosaic, a text where I learned Saddam was still alive and in power and Myanmar was still Burma. This is the history text used in his class and I bet you'd agree with me that this text is way out-of-date. No wonder teachers choose to use their own curricula. Perhaps the money being donated (or if money is available in the budget) should be applied to new history books. (As for my copy, I bought it at a thrift store bag sale, $1.50 a bag.)

I'd also add that the new math curriculum is ridiculous. We are still using Saxon in addition to the new math program. (Side note, Saxon is cheaper than the books they use now.) But that's personal opinion.

Somewhere, I read that the district was paying for outside tutoring services. I know of two tutoring programs that use students from Seattle University (they need service hours and tutoring fills that requirement). NO MONEY EXCHANGED.

One way to make AP programs immediately available at all schools, I've talked with several online PUBLIC high schools and these classes are available to everyone. Internet Academy, for instance, offers AP classes as do several others. Think of the cost savings: no need for books because most books are online and no need to hire more teachers because teachers are already in place and offsite.

KSG said...

"Would people be equally comfortable with Garfield deciding to use these 10 proposed "audition" seats to recruit basketball talent?"

DJ, if you read my post about allocating seats for these "merit" positions, I do state that athletics would be a reasonable use of their hypothetical seats.

My question is why would you want to prevent students who have shown dedication and excellence from having access to programs that will enhance their skill?

It seems like some view success as everyone being mediocre. The thought seems to be that by ensuring that no one shines, we have created equality.

dj said...

Why do I want to "prevent" kids from being able to access excellent programs? That's an interesting way to frame the question. Currently, there are not "tryouts" for people who want to choice into those schools. Let's face it, kids who want to enroll in drama at Ranier Beach are going to be able to do so under the new plan, no problem. They'll probably be able to do radio at Nathan Hale; I'll bet there will be open seats, as its attendance area has been drawn so small.

So what's going on here, really? There are three schools that are high on everyone's choice list. Those schools have some specialized extracurricular programs, and some well-regarded academic programs. On your rhetoric, why do you want to "prevent" someone who is truly gifted in English but not so great at math (or vice versa) such that they do not qualify for APP from accessing the academic programming at those schools? I don't see jazz band as more important. You may. But I don't believe that one person's desire to be in jazz band deserves more status than another person's desire for great English classes.

mkd said...
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mkd said...

So I'm not giving up. A slight correction to my report regarding books and Rainier Beach:

Did you know that Sadam hussein is alive and in power or that Myanmar is still Burma? My son's history book says so.

I found one of my sons looking something up in one of our old homeschool books, PUBLISHED IN 1993, World Cultures: A Global Mosaic, a text where I learned Saddam was still alive and in power and Myanmar was still Burma. This is the history text used in his class and I bet you'd agree with me that this text is way out-of-date. No wonder teachers choose to use their own curricula. Perhaps the money being donated (or if money is available in the budget) should be applied to new history books. (As for my copy, I bought it at a thrift store bag sale, $1.50 a bag.)

KSG said...

DJ, if a school had a great English program (and I've heard of none in Seattle), I'd think that they may want some type of merit program to reserve a handful of seats for that.

For example, if Maya Angelou settled down here in Seattle and taught a poetry course at RBHS. I'd like to think that some of our best young poets would have the opportunity to take the course.

The fundamental problem is now that we've pretty much eliminated choice in the schools, most students will be stuck in their neighborhood school. For many/most students that will be more than sufficient, but there will be some children who have abilities beyond their years, and far beyond what their school offers, yet there may be a school that offers a program that would challenge them.

And again, it would be completely up to the school. Jazz band is used because it is an example of a program that is extremely unique and requires a high degree of skill to play at their current level. Most schools offer English programs that are comparable to each other, from what I've seen -- the exception being the IB programs (and I'd consider Ingraham and Sealth's IB program how they'd likely use their merit slots).

This isn't about saying jazz is more important than English, but rather letting the school decide if they have anything they think is unique to offer students who have shown tremendous dedication, potential, and skill.

mkd said...

These are only ideas so please do not criticize me for being ignorant and/or misinformed.

For AP programs available at all schools, I'm not sure if it is possible, but what about partnering with some of the online public high schools? Internet Academy, for instance, offers AP classes as do several others. Think of the cost savings: no need for books because most books are online and no need to hire more teachers because teachers are already in place and offsite.

Does the district have history books at high schools? Imagine my surprise when my 10th grader was using one of our older home school book PUBLISHED IN 1993, World Cultures: A Global Mosaic, because this is the book used in his class. Leafing through the text, I learned Saddam was still alive and well and countries like Myanmar were still called Burma. This is the history text instructors are supposed to use in his class. Thank goodness, there is a shortage. This text is 16 years out-of-date. No wonder teachers choose to use their own curricula. Perhaps the money being donated (or if money is available in the budget) should be applied to new history books. (As for my copy, I bought it at a thrift store bag sale, $1.50 a bag.)

I'd also like to see teachers consulted on books before the district purchases curriculum like the Discovery series. For example, I prefer Saxon, which costs a whole lot less than the district purchase. Money saved could have been directed to where it is most needed, the schools themselves.

How about art and music programs at all of the schools? Teachers are versatile. Our athletic director, for instance, is also teaching world history.

Tutoring: Somewhere, I read that the district was paying for outside tutoring services. I know of two tutoring programs that use students from Seattle University (they need service hours and tutoring fills that requirement). It would also be a great opportunity for high schoolers to also earn service hours. If your can teach it so someone else understands, one of my favorite teachers always pointed out, you will know that you fully understand as well. NO MONEY EXCHANGED.

Finally, whatever happened to the 2005-2010 five-year plan complete with action steps, due dates, calculated costs and who was accountable? The new plan does not seem to have implementation dates, goals and controls, action steps, whose responsible and estimated cost. Or did I miss something? I usually do

Stu said...

mkd: No one's criticizing you for your opinions, you have some good ideas and genuine concern about the books. However, on a personal note, there's no need to post the same message over and over again. Just 'cause people might not have expressed the same outrage, doesn't mean they don't agree.

It is important information and I don't think anyone's ignoring the situation with out-of-date books.

stu

PS - Many of us "subscribe" to this blog so every time you post a message it comes into our mailboxes.

PPS - Cool news about the fiddlin', by the way.

mkd said...

A 1993 history text is, I believe, important to point out. They are, after all, 16 years out-of-date. For the numerous posts, I'm sorry. I had written several different messages and my son, along with a few friends from church, took it upon themselves to post in several places, believing that the message will not be read unless it is posted in several forums. This time I'm mostly innocent.

mkd said...

By the way, my disclaimer at the beginning was meant to be a joke, a lame one at that. Since we are rather new to the SPS, most of the time, my ideas are often categorized as "misinformed," that is, via SPS. Trying to traverse the many rules that define SPS, especially at the high school level, can be frustrating. I would hope no one would hate me. Differences of opinion as well as the right to express them is one of the things that makes America great.

Jessica said...

About Stu's idea that all schools should have top-notch music or dual-language or other specialized programs: It's a wonderful idea but we can't ignore the reality that specialized programs, especially in high school, can be very, very expensive and it's hard to find super-qualified teachers. That's why it typically makes sense (or cents?) for a school district to focus programs and staff in specific schools, and to provide pathways for interested students to attend. With the new SAP, some parents understandably have concerns about access to those programs - but parents also can't ignore real-world issues that require the school system to make hard choices.

mkd said...

Jessica, you state "With the new SAP, some parents understandably have concerns about access to those programs - but parents also can't ignore real-world issues that require the school system to make hard choices."

Parents in areas of the city, the south end for instance, have a right to be understandably concerned. Despite an exceptional staff and dedicated teachers, these schools already have poor reputations as problem schools. An SAP that sends a neighborhood of mostly poor and minority students to schools who already have numerous problems cannot possibly be the ". . . real-world issues that require the school system to make hard choices."

Stu said...

Jessica said: That's why it typically makes sense (or cents?) for a school district to focus programs and staff in specific schools, and to provide pathways for interested students to attend.

That's actually what I'm saying. Make sure each area of the city has at least one language immersion and math/science and IB and AP, etc., etc. Then each cluster has an equal opportunity to get into their option school. Placing one or two language programs around the whole city is insulting and inequitable.

stu