Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Board's NTN STEM Vote (Oh, Take a Wild Guess)

The Board voted 4-2 to buy the NTN program for the STEM program at Cleveland. (Michael DeBell was not present and Smith-Blum and Patu voted against.) I left after the vote (in disgust) and so missed the LA Adoption vote (but I can guess).

This after speakers who seemed to showcase all that is not working in this district.

I still believe that most Board members get into office, drink some kind of Kool-aid and just turn off just enough common sense that makes them then side with the staff. Every. single. time.

I will write a blow-by-blow (because you should understand what each director said and they each spoke; there's some great new info on the SAP I didn't know) but I'm pretty tired and discouraged now.


gavroche said...

Melissa said...
I still believe that most Board members get into office, drink some kind of Kool-aid and just turn off just enough common sense that makes them then side with the staff. Every. single. time.

Melissa, as a longtime observer of the District, would you say the Board has always been this mindless and compliant, or is it unique to this latest batch (Blum and Patu excepted)?

I find it ironic that some members of the last School Board were voted out for ostensibly being "too activist" -- Soriano, Flynn.

But the more I look into it, the more it seems that "activist" meant they asked the SPS staff and Supt. questions, thought for themselves, and even -- gasp -- listened to parents and got data from them too.

In retrospect, isn't this exactly the kind of engagement and intelligence we want on the Board?

Which brings me back to the Gang of Four -- Maier, Sundquist, Carr and Martin-Morris -- and their record-breaking election costs. ($400,000 was it?)

A little digging by JoanNE and Dan Dempsey shows that these four got the most money in SPS School Board election history, most of it from business interests.

Is what we are seeing here -- the NTN/STEM vote and the Discovering math adoption votes, etc. etc. -- precisely the kind of bobblehead rubber-stamping that these biz-funders paid for?

I suspect that it is.

emeraldkity said...

I think the board has been even more compliant in the past- perhaps cause they didn't want to make waves- perhaps because they like Stanford, or Manhas, or maybe even they liked Olchefske.

I don't get that same vibe from as many with G-J.
I hear much more intelligent & thoughtful questions, rather than- questions that are asked because there is a two minute pause that is awkward.
My impression is this blog and others like it and the community meetings the board members hold, provide them with more info about what the community wants- and is concerned about.

I like both Sally and Darlene-but I would not consider them to be " activist" when they were on the board- not enough research- not consistent enough on the details.
To be an activist you have to have something you are moving toward- not just something you are moving away from.
IMO anyway.

Lori said...

gavroche said: Is what we are seeing here -- the NTN/STEM vote and the Discovering math adoption votes, etc. etc. -- precisely the kind of bobblehead rubber-stamping that these biz-funders paid for?

I suspect that it is."

I haven't been around as long as many on this blog, but I just don't know that I'm willing to accept that Board members are somehow serving corporate masters with their votes. I mean, what motivates someone to be on the Board? It certainly isn't the pay, and I don't think it's a stepping stone to some higher political office for most.

What would the quid-pro-quo be for directors who vote in the interests of their corporate backers? Let's just look at Steve Sundquist as an example. He's retired from Russell Investment group. Isn't it possible he has corporate backers simply because that's the company he kept for many years? Maybe they just really like him and think he'd do a good job!

What would he "gain" by representing their interests on the school board? Seriously, am I just completely naive? I'm just having trouble conflating corporate influence over our national politics with what happens on the school board, where there really is no glory, no high-pay, no revolving door between lobbying and serving, and no lobbyists buying influence.

I'd love to hear opinions from those who've followed the district longer about what causes someone to run for the school board and once there, how important is it to maintain that seat?

dan dempsey said...


I need to watch the video streaming version to grasp the full impact of the reasons for voting for.

In a nutshell. The SPS trapped themselves Part I

#1 We wanted Project Based Learning.

That in itself is a bizarre thought. Apparently no one has actually researched the results from project based learning.

I would say this thought is highly questionable. If NTN school data is an example of what to expect from Project based learning, beware.

Apparently the desired outcomes are only happy engaged students (measured by anecdotal evidence) because the measures of academic competence are quite poor for PBL especially with Low Income and other disadvantaged populations.

I should note that Hattie calculates an effect size of 0.15 for Problem Based Learning which is only marginally different that Project Based Learning (unrated, likely because the descriptions of each are identical).

#2, It was quite apparent that NTN was picked because someone wanted PBL and checked about and Gates Foundation suggested NTN. Very Little surpise there as Gates grants have supported NTN on many occasions.

The sad part is when Gates suggests...everyone mindlessly jumps on board and no one does any data research. I mean NONE as in ZERO not 0 Celsius, not 0 Fahrenheit, but 0 degrees Kelvin all motion stops. Nothing gets checked. NTN was automatically stamped good stuff. So much for Everyone held accountable ... wish I could find something really defective to sell to the district, because they are suckers.

dan dempsey said...

Trapping Self PART II (SAP)

#1 We made Cleveland an option school so we must do this ... otherwise the entire SAP will be adversely effected....

....humm I remember Betty Patu just coming on board and saying this whole thing is running too fast, it would be a lot better if both SAP and STEM are delayed a year. ... How right she was.

Peter Maier actually thinks that the current enrollment of Cleveland is too low and with STEM it will be bigger.... of course he believes what staff feeds him (magic mushrooms I guess) because he believes around 82 kids from Ballard will be STEMers when this program is running in all its glory.

Of course I guess the entire class of 2007 thinks there will be around 1000 kids at STEM who will all be required to take Calculus before graduation.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Lori,

The Eli Broad foundation trains urban school board members and urban superintendents. I think that MGJ was selected because of Broad training and connections.(as in saved from being unemployed as contract was ending in Charleston and folks were not happy with her. Poll taken by Charleston paper about a year after she left and was replaced by McGinley. Showed overwhelmingly higher ratings for McG than MGJ.)

MGJ is now a Broad Board member along with Rhee from WA DC, Joel Klein from NYC.

We are being led down the Broad path and the SPS board signs off on every step ... just like dutiful serfs in the middle ages.

I went to the last work session on policies. The Staff prepares a template for the directors to work from ... meaning....
Staff writes the policies and the board does a little bit of minor tinkering. And like magic a new policy is born just like the one Eli Broad wanted.

The entire Race to the Top and the thrust for philanthropic partnerships have turned into Huge influences guiding every Urban school board decision.

Ever wonder why the SPS keeps on the path of ineffective instructional materials? I did.
There is lots of solid research out there on what works.... but instead we pay consultants big dollars to help us with stuff that does not work.

I have only been a board watcher since the horrify or entertaining Big Fist Fight in the fall of 2006. (school closures were not taken quite as well as Admin had hoped) But I have been a regular testifier and data miner since Jan 2007.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant statistics..... I think Kay SB is on that one .. the other 6 are remarkably clueless but DeBell is making progress.

I still find it hard to buy Sundquist as this clueless. He came from Russell... he must know how to apply data intelligently ... but he clearly avoids doing so. What's up with that? Maybe $140,000 reasons from the class of 2007 .. he was salutatorian I believe.

Who knows?

dan dempsey said...

Here are some of the Stats I sent the board ... complete with a nice commentary about what the board does with data.

It is in the Times another typical puff piece Be sure and add a "Happy Face" anecdote about how the children are clueless but happily fully engaged in meaningful activity building deep conceptual understandings.

But do not mention that the SPS has yet to define "conceptual understanding" or tell you how they are measuring it.

Just believe as they do that whatever this undefined term happens to be that the kids are just oooozzzing with it because of fine SPS math programs.

Here is the link.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's all take a moment and remember some basics about STEM.

1. Cleveland had to become an option school. Otherwise, the District would have closed it because we don't need the capacity it represents. It would have made no sense to close it just two years after it was completely renovated. So the path out of the dilemma was to take it offline as an attendance area school but keep it open. It would be difficult to accept the idea of closing such a beautiful building.

2. The STEM thing is very close to what Cleveland was doing before - two separate academies, one focused on bioscience, one focused on engineering. This isn't really much of a shift from what was tried there before. It also provides a nice complement to the "performing arts focus" at Rainier Beach.

3. For publicity purposes, it does represent the academic rigor that people say is missing in the Southeast. Actually the rigor isn't what's missing. As readers of this blog know, there is plenty of academic challenge available for students at Rainier Beach and Cleveland right now if they want it. What's missing is a strong peer group for students seeking rigor. STEM will provide that.

4. The higher graduation requirements at STEM are really not much different from CORE 24. In a few years, presuming things go as planned, these will be the graduation requirements across the state. STEM does require one more year of math and one more year of science. It also requires that the math extend through calculus - or so they say. We'll see how closely they adhere to that requirement in three or four years. On the whole, however, these requirements will become the standard requirements. Maybe now my opposition to CORE 24 will make more sense to some folks. In the meantime, however, these requirements mean that STEM will get only high performing students without having to reject anyone.

5. The Project-Based Learning works for really well for high performing and highly motivated students. Just look at NOVA, a high performing school that uses wall-to-wall Project-Based Learning. Please remember who, exactly, STEM is going to enroll - at least at first: highly motivated and high performing students. In the event that some students who are not well-prepared should appear - and there are a lot of them who (for whatever reason) just might - Project-Based Learning makes differentiation easy. Differentiation, which is so hard to do in the industrial model of education (lecture and listen), is dead simple in PBL. The kids do it for themselves. Gordo builds a working brain, Lizzy writes a three-page paper called "Our Friend the Liver", and they both get an "A" (reference).

6. The school is designed as a publicity machine. Because it will draw high performing students, the numbers will be glorious, which will generate all kinds of positive news stories. Because it is so actively seeking internships for students it will generate all kinds of positive news stories about those. Because it is so actively seeking private partnerships and grant money it will generate positive news stories about those as well.

So, I think you can see how STEM will kill about six birds with one stone. It will resolve the capacity management problem, solve the southeast problem, create a fifth "good" high school from whole cloth, and generate both good publicity and grant revenue for the District.

It also does the one thing that students and the community really wanted: it provides a safe place with an academically motivated peer group in the southeast.

dan dempsey said...

But Charlie what happens to all of the rest? Check Meg Diaz's numbers. Sure looks like most kid's and families are getting the short end of the stick so MGJ can by a pearl for her crown.

Looking at Thornton Creek mentioned by Harium and Nova both PBL schools I think that from their demographics you sure hit the nail on the head with STEM will replace the students ...It might be the Cleveland Building and Princess Shareef the principal but the Cleveland school will soon disappear.

It seems that instructional materials and practices that give positive results for educationally disadvantaged learners will never be used in the Goodloe-Johnson administration for math or perhaps much else. ... .. She best crank up that NCES formula that generates the 95% graduation rate no matter what happens.

I am really sick of this after closely watching three years of total BS.

Get ready for TEAM "Broad" to roll over you and watch out for the NCLB induced stampede, which will create Race to the Bank for private services providers. NTN and Knowledge Works Foundation are going to be rolling in dough as they plan to go from 41 schools to 500 in maybe 5 years....

There must be a lot of easy marks out their just like our directors.

All that talk about rigor for kids and ZERO for investigative rigor from staff or the board....what an absolute farce this circus continues to be.

Really buy Hattie's book take 60 seconds to look up Problem Based Learning see 0.15 and be skeptical. Really how hard is that.

Instead months later we must do something ... because we were to slovenly to investigate earlier so now we are stuck buying more crap.... Anyone wonder why Charleston was thrilled to see MGJ leave?

dan dempsey said...

About Darlene she asked some good questions but rarely followed them up. The Everyday Math adoption is a case in point.

I was really pleased with Harium initially but his blog just disappeared when it came to STEM and look what he did.

To get an inkling as to how bad the situation is..... Charlie has been a long time observer and after a couple of months Kay SB is proclaimed Charlie's favorite Director of all time. I certainly agree with Charlie. KSB does research asks questions clearly explains her thinking. She would have the board directing the superintendent but but but they don't want to do that.

If the 2007 Mega Buck Four put as much time into investigative research as they do crafting nifty CYA explanations... They would not need the creative fiction.

zb said...

"Please remember who, exactly, STEM is going to enroll - at least at first: highly motivated and high performing students. In the event that some students who are not well-prepared should appear - and there are a lot of them who (for whatever reason) just might - Project-Based Learning makes differentiation easy."

My worry would be that you're wrong, and the Cleveland won't be mostly filled with "highly motivated and highly performing students." I'm not sure that project based learning is easy to differentiate for unmotivated, unprepared students. Then what happens?

I still think the system should give it a shot, but, everything depends on whether the highly motivated students are going to enroll there or not.

sully said...

Hale is a project based learning school too! This style of teaching/learning seems to work well for all students there. Hale is one of the highest achieving schools in the district AND it has one of the lowest achievement gaps.

emeraldkity said...

when they look at schools where project based learning is successful- what is the FRL rate?

Is it like measuring SAT scores & socioeconomic index?

ParentofThree said...

So there are already project learning schools in the district but we need to spend nearly a million dollars to open one? Isn't there a STEM program at the Avaition School, did they look at that model?

Seems like a lot of money to spend on what will be a pretty small school. And the director who has the school in her district voted against it. That should give the others some food for thought.

uxolo said...

" Project-Based Learning makes differentiation easy."

Absolutely not true. Differentiation is completely masked by project-based learning. Lower performers in cooperative learning settings in most Seattle-trained classrooms mean that the lower performer cooperates by being quiet and cooperating with the leader or successful member of the group.
The STEM program needs kids who are prepared and accelerated in math. It needs many more teachers to teach high level math and science AND the instruction to keep everyone challenged and engaged. Why would a teacher leave a comfortable middle school or high school with such students to go to an option school that is required to bring everyone to that level? Even merit pay doesn't fit into this picture. Math education in Seattle has seriously gotten worse, even in the accelerated classrooms.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

As I have noted so many times before...Cleveland will be great for those kids who want extreme math and science at the loss of the arts, languages and humanities. I know many families in the southend who are looking for a high school this year; only a handful are considering STEM, because only a handful have the kind of kid who would most benefit from STEM.

Charlie, your daughter will definitely benefit from STEM, but those of us who don't have math/science kids it's just not the solution to our education problems.

And regardless of whether or not STEM is a good fit for SPS, I thought the vote was about the money for the NTN curriculum, something the data seems to show as an ineffective program headed by a crony of MGJ. If I had been on the board, I would have voted no. I applaud the board new-comers for their no votes.

Charlie, how would you have voted (especially since in my universe you would have been there)?

southmom said...

So the McGlivra principal who started last fall is now on leave following what I understand are intense protests about performance from the school, including from the PTA. This is a first, if true that I know of in the district, of a school's protest leaving to ouster of a principal. It's interesting it occurred in a school with what are undoubtedly fairly influential families. What is the story here. Melissa? Charlie?

blumhagn said...

Charlie said: 1. Cleveland had to become an option school. Otherwise, the District would have closed it because we don't need the capacity it represents. It would have made no sense to close it just two years after it was completely renovated. So the path out of the dilemma was to take it offline as an attendance area school but keep it open. It would be difficult to accept the idea of closing such a beautiful building.

Having run the numbers, I don't think this is true. If Cleveland were an attendance area school, it would have been possible to fill it up and make the rest of the boundaries work. What it would have meant is that the Garfield-Franklin boundary would be around 5-10 blocks from Garfield and most of Queen Anne and Magnolia would be at Garfield.

You can imagine the quite reasonable outcry that this would have brought from South End students.

Making Cleveland into an option school moved the angry parent caucus to North Ballard. I suspect that some staff may have thought that it was more politically expedient to piss of Ballard than Garfield. I could be completely wrong, though.

blumhagn said...

I understand that the Loyal Heights PTA ousted a principal about 10 years ago. That was long before my time at the school and I don't know the details. A PTA ousting a principal isn't new, but it's pretty rare.

wseadawg said...

Lori: Sundquist has his Russell background, which is fine and equips him with many abilities that are fine for a Board member. But I also see two critical flaws in him: 1. He is way, way to trusting of district personnel, gives way to much benefit of the doubt, then becomes chief apologist when things go awry. Maybe he thinks everyone works as hard as he did, keeps a positive attitude, or whatever, but he hasn't shown any real representation for his constituents nor any critical thinking on his own. He reminds me a lot of Scott McClellan when he worked for Bush. Maybe he'll write a "Gee, I'm sorry" book someday too. 2. Hegemonic, business-knows-best, business-executive thinking. Every board meeting MGJ and the Board "engage" in a meaningless, power point dominated dog and pony show which rarely consists of substantive matter or discussion. It's the same thing every time: A bunch of promises consistent with a corporate-backed agenda, and never any follow up or serious discussion about whether they should, or should not be doing whatever. I have never seen a serious Pro/Con discussion on any item before this Board. Not on School Closures, the new Assignement Plan, or anything. This is "Business Plan Thinking." I.e., Stick With The Plan. That's how you run a business; not how you teach kids. School is an extension of the family, and an extension of learning out into the public arena. The business lobby doesn't get this. Those getting involved in the schools today, despite their best intentions, are obsessed with turning out high performers to fit their various agendas. That's why there's so much emphasis on Tech, which is really ridiculous if you think about how fast today's tech becomes obsolete. If they were being taught theories behind technology, engineering of technology, etc., that would be different. But all wee see today is "these kids are learning to muli-task by using a blackberry and facebook, isn't that great?" No. It's not. It's typical today, like Pee-Chee's in my day. It's training, versus "educating."

IMHO, "Education" is more than job training or preparing kids for the single-mindedness of how to make profit for shareholders in the corporate world. That's not very complicated. But to this crop of Board members, "fixing the schools" versus actually helping struggling kids, is enough for them to claim victory.

The absence of serious policies about how to help children struggling right now in the system is very revealing. Where are the deployment of serious resources to help hurting kids now? Closing the achievement gap over the next 10 years does nothing for the kids hurting right now.

In business-like fashion, it appears that this admin and Board have already written off too many of those kids. That's why the business analogies and corporate template don't fit.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll comment more when I do my longer thread. As to the Board, yes, in my experience, they have been compliant (with some notable exceptions throughout the years). When I said Kool-Aid, I didn't mean corporate Kool-Aid. While I think the Superintendent is likely to be moving towards the Broad Foundation outlook, I'm not sure I believe that about the Board (although say money and the Board just gets all excited). The Board has had, in the past, a more corporate kind of team and that was not great (and that is precisely what led us to the Olchefske problem - they thought he was some business wunderkind and took their eye off the ball).

Lori, the business "gain" is to control public education. You might say "And the problem is?" The problem is there are those out there who want to train our kids rather than educate them. You see the Washington Roundtable and Bill Gates moaning about not having enough good workers, not educated citizens. If I had to vote, I'd vote for the educated citizen. I'd like both but what I see now are several high-powered foundations who are probably sick of the lack of progress and have decided to take over public education in this country. (There I said it and I believe it.) Now, it's not sinister. I think they believe our country will be in decline if we don't and they are probably right. But the dumbing down of our country is NOT the fault of our public schools. Some districts, states may have low expectations but the real problem is out there in the ether. When you get a President, who for 8 years, delights in saying how poorly he did in school, well that just sets the tone.

Also, the maintaining the seat is quite an individual choice. Ellen Roe, the godmother of the Board, was there 16 years! Not a good thing to me and she was stubborn as all get out. Some Board members can be talked into staying on but I think for most, it's a personal decision. But I think the powers that be in this town like having business types on the Board. I'm sure they are a bit dismayed that despite the fact that there are business types on the Board, these Board members are not going to rubberstamp decisions.

I'm going to address Charlie's valid points as well as the project-based learning and the cost of STEM in my longer thread.

I do think this Board is doing a good job in terms of asking hard questions and a little pushback. But you just want to tear your hair out when they ask a question, get an answer and then don't follow up.

Good analysis, Emeraldkity.

Dora Taylor said...

I just want to throw something in here that I found interesting during the Enfield presentation regarding NTN which was nothing but yet another pitiful PowerPoint created by the district.

During the Q&A period from the board, one of the board directors asked who initially brought this NTN program to the attention of the district and Enfield answered that Gates had.

Gates and his millions have fit rather too comfortably into our school system at this point.

Based on his track record of trying out "new and innovative programs" that have turned out to be failures and the inter-relationships between the Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation, I would be suspect of that sort of recommendation. Unfortunately our CAO,did not seem aware of any context except for the fact that Gates recommended it so it must be good.


I feel very uncomfortable when our education leaders within SPS with all of their degrees seem to know less than I do about education in this country as well as the politics and money associated with it.

mom of 3 said...

I have three completely different kids, including one in an inclusion program, and love project based learning, precisely for the ability to differentiate and engage. One at Hale and one at Nova - both learning, and preparing for college.

Studies show that people remember only about 30% from lecture, even when accompanied with visuals, but that learning goes up to 80% of what they do, and 90% of what they teach to others. Project based learning allows students to do and to teach. Sometimes some kids can slack off in groups (although project based learning is not always done in groups), but a good teacher can watch group dynamics and shift groups around, or require specific parts to be done by individuals. Kids (well all of us, really) benefit by becoming active participants in their own learning - can't blame everything on a teacher they dislike or with whom they don't gel.

zb said...

I like project based learning, too. And, I want to give the Cleveland STEM program a chance. I think that's what the board decided to. When it comes down to it, they have to rely on the administration for this type of curriculum decision, because they can't do the job of the administration.

So, I think the constructive response would be to figure out how to make this decision work. I know there's a moral hazard there, if you really think the idea was bad in the first place. But, how about coming up with deliverable/standards/ideas that might help Cleveland succeed, and ways of telling whether it has.

I've been listening to the complaints about NTN students having poor math skills -- that's something to address. I've also heard the worries about the program not being filled and not serving the students who are already there. Those are things to talk about.

(and, no, I'm not telling people not to vent. But, I'd like to hear, as someone else said in the thread, activism that's moving towards something, rather than away)

sully said...

What's up with lobbying for a comprehensive HS in the south end? Isn't Franklin a "comprehensive" high school in the south end? And RBHS too?

Why not advocate that the district strengthen those schools/programs? Why lobby against STEM? I know not all kids are drawn to Science, Technology, engineering and Math, but MANY kids are. If you have a kid that is drawn to visual and performing arts then why not lobby to strengthen RBHS performing arts program, or check out NOVA, or Center which has a strong visual AND Performing arts focus (they partner with the Pacific NW Ballet, Cornish school of dance, and Pottery NW). Seems like there is something for everyone.

Fruitbat Seattle said...

There are two different questions
1. Is the STEM at Cleveland a good idea
2. Is paying NTN $850,000 teh best way to get it set up?
I'm going to skip question one for now, and go to question two--the answer is no.
At the board meeting Marthin-Morris kept syaing that NTN wsn't providing curriculum, but a foundation. What the heck are they providing? Consultants, professional development, coaches, bureaucrats? Do we not have enough of these on payroll, we have to spend nearly $1 million to import new ones?

sully said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SolvayGirl1972 said...

Franklin is not technically a comprehensive high school in the vein of Garfield or Roosevelt. It also has academies that students must choose at the 10th grade level--more specialization.

RBHS could be a good comprehensive, that's why I hate to see it short-changed by investing so much in Cleveland. RIght now it just offers one language, etc.

Center is a great school, but hardly comprehensive--too small to offer the variety of Garfield and Roosevelt.

There is no school in the southend that offers the depth and breadth of courses that Garfield, Roosevelt and, to a degree, Ballard do. At least there wasn't last year when we were looking for a HS.

Theo said...

I would love to see $800,000 in materials for RBHS. We could replace the decades old carved-up furniture, replace those textbook sets that are old (World History most immediately), and do a functional redesign to move us towards a more modern design.

sully said...

And, lets not forget that Cleveland was a "comprehensive" HS in the South end too. It offered arts, humanities, and language. Yet it was grossly under enrolled. Oddly, the very people lobbying for a comprehensive HS in the south end that offers arts, humanities, and languages, shunned Cleveland, though it it offered all of those things.

Perhaps it's not a "comprehensive" school that families are asking for. Perhaps it is a high performing "comprehensive" school. Full of high achieving students. Fair enough. But, how do you make that happen in the south end? RBHS, Cleveland, and franklin are all "comprehensive" schools, that have not been able to draw high achieving students despite the SE initiative which added challenging, rigorous, courses.

Central Mom said...

I have a funding question. Is NTN ultimately paid out of the same pot of money as teacher salaries? Are both Operating Expenses? Yes, I understand that various pots of money are being used to fund NTN, but in the big CFO roll-up, will this be money that cannot be shifted to keeping teachers in the classroom?

I am curious because $800K would be @ 20 "new" teachers (the 1st ones to go due to union seniority rules).

sully said...

"There is no school in the southend that offers the depth and breadth of courses that Garfield, Roosevelt offer"

True. And, there are no schools that offer the depth and breadth of courses that Garfield and Roosevelt offer anywhere else in the city either.

LynneC said...

Does anyone know what the vote was on the LA Adoption last night? I'm assuming that it passed -- just curious what the vote was and what (if any) discussion there was about it.

dan dempsey said...

A former assistant Superintendent from back East, who served time as a ... local school board member, makes this observation:
Plan to make Cleveland a true STEM school, like Thomas Jefferson of Fairfax or the Bronx High School of Science.

1. Borrow the admissions test from BHS and accept those who can pass this. This should be less than a dozen.

2. Start a program like that of BHS or TJHS for these kids and they will flourish in a building with only 12 kids in it.

3. The following year, based upon the success of those left of the dozen, applicants will soar to perhaps 50 and admission will be granted to probably 25.

4. Based upon the success of what now may be as many as 30 students applicants will soar to 150 for the third year. Admission will be granted to 75.

5. The now almost 100 students will prosper in a school that his designed for 1000 students and houses over a 100.

Why, in less than 10 years you might have 500 very successful students in this building. Few will be from the neighborhood but at least they will be well educated!

Who could fault this?

SolvayGirl1972 said...

There were many issues at both Cleveland and RBHS that kept parents of higher-performing students away. The District has really just started addressing those issues.

Last year, RBHS's official tour was a joke; no one in the front office knew anything about a tour (though it had been on the website). There were no hand-outs, no principal on hand, no official greeting/welcome. Basically, they rounded up a student to take people around. The kid was nice, the teachers were nice, but spent a lot of time talking about "bringing kids up to standard." It was obvious that the focus was on the kids at risk of not graduating. The school as a whole did not seem interested in recruiting or serving other kids from the neighborhood.

Cleveland was better, but still had a similar focus and was very difficult to access by public transportation. It also had "academies" that forced students to specialize—not a comprehensive HS in my book.

The NSAP will change a lot. Many kids will end up in RBHS just because there is nowhere else to go as I believe many of their past options (Sealth, Franklin, etc.) will be full. If they are not math/science wonks, Cleveland won't be an option. Center only takes 100 freshman; it will be full.

Rosie said...

When one of you has a moment, will you please start a thread on the decision from Judge Ehrlick that the State has failed to support basic ed? I'll see if there's a pdf of the decision (assuming it was a written decision) and send a link when/if I find one.

dan dempsey said...

On Transparency

on page one of the contract comes this:

E. NT’s provision of services to District to license and implement the NTHS Model contributes importantly to the furtherance of NT’s charitable and educational mission.

So, NTN's parent the non-profit KnowlegeWorks Foundation is in some sense a charity, in Ohio. So why won't KW answer the Cincinnati BBB's 20 questions? ... instead choosing to be seen as a non-transparent organization.

Despite written BBB of Cincinnati requests in the past year, this organization either has not responded to BBB of Cincinnati requests for information or has declined to be evaluated in relation to the BBB of Cincinnati’s Standards for Charity Accountability. While participation in the BBB of Cincinnati’s charity review efforts is voluntary, the BBB of Cincinnati believes that failure to participate may demonstrate a lack of commitment to transparency. Without the requested information, the BBB of Cincinnati cannot determine if this charity adheres to the Standards for Charity Accountability. A charity's willing disclosure of information beyond that typically included in its financial statements and government filings is, in the Alliance's view, an expression of openness that strengthens public trust in the charitable sector.

KW, which is a non-profit with very highly paid administrators and directors, who are well connected lawyers and financiers, saw the coming NCLB restructuring of failing schools as a great opportunity. Wisely acquiring in 2008 NTN as part of their Family the current Obama-Duncan education stimulus virtually guarantees them a race to the bank.
For they see the NTNetwork expanding from 41 to 500 schools quite quickly.

How convenient not to answer BBB questions. As a non-profit ...They still have to put their salaries in the public domain. I am looking for those generous salaries and fabulous compensation packages to become even greater during the coming 10 fold NTN expansion. Hope they do not get too winded racing to the Bank.

dan dempsey said...

King County judge rules that state isn't providing ample money for schools

A coalition of parents, school districts and teachers won their argument that the state is not providing ample funding for its public schools.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

KUOW is discussing this today on the Conversation, which can be heard as a podcast after the fact.

dan dempsey said...

The plaintiffs sued because they think the Legislature has failed to liveup to its duty, under the state Constitution, to provide ample funding for public education, leaving districts struggling to fill the gap with local
levies, grants and other means.

Washington's Constitution says the state has a "paramount duty" to make "ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders."

Few - if any - other states are charged with giving education such a high priority.
== == = == ==
Which is almost exactly the point made by TEAM McLaren Attorney Keith Scully in the High School Math adoption appeal before Judge Julie Spector.

article IX preamble:

It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

Judge Spector has already focused in on the precipitous drop for ELL students in the WASL pass rate down to 0% passing. While using the IMP inquiry heavy, small group oriented, Problem Based Learning approach to math for three years, as achievement gaps grew for many other educationally disadvantaged subgroups as well.

On Feb 12th Judge Spector will rule. If Judge Spector rules in TEAM McLaren's favor, then almost the exact argument can be applied to the district's snub of those same groups with the Project Based Learning at Cleveland, which diverts funds away from other schools and puts a pedagogical approach in place that is failing those populations of kids in the NTN schools,(and others as well).

Shoe #2 (as in too good to be true) is due to drop on Feb 12th .. will it drop on MGJ's head? or be just be another lost misguided shoe in the never ending stream of legal actions filed against the SPS as the public valiantly attempts to rescue control of their schools away from marginally skilled Administrative Edu-crats?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sully, show me who here said they were against STEM. I haven't heard it. What I hear is the worry over the costs, taking money from other schools, getting the best bang for the buck.

Also, do you know how long ago the Performing Arts Center was built at RBHS? And then the district gave them little support in developing a program? It's been at least 10 years. It's ridiculous to have built that Center and not worked to create such a program. Given the expertise at Roosevelt, it would have been logical to help RBHS develop its own program. It didn't happen.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Melissa—that would have been a great idea, to have RBHS partner with Roosevelt in creating a Performing Arts Program.

Instead they floundered with unqualified staff (no drama degree—remember a few years ago the "drama teacher" had not realized she needed to procure the rights to produce "The Wiz"), run-of-the-mill music directors (I hear they have a better one now), and few loaner instruments.

Programs at the level of Roosevelt's and Garfield's (both band and drama) take a lot of effort, parental involvement and money (I've heard the costs to participate in Jazz Band are well over $1,000). Most of the players at RHS and GHS have private lessons on the side and quality instruments. Drama students take lessons outside school.

I'm sure given RBHS FRL levels there could have been a number of grants available to help offset these costs. But, as Melissa notes, there was little support from the District to support a program to take advantage of the state-of-the-art facility. For years, the "Performing Arts Program" at RBHS was lack-luster at best. Affiliations with groups like Broadway Bound tended to take place more int he summer and did not truly offer an academic program.

Joan NE said...

Lori - I will add my two cents.

First this: Melissa wrote: "While I think the Superintendent is likely to be moving towards the Broad Foundation outlook, I'm not sure I believe that about the Board." I have found ample evidence that the Board's orientation is heavily influenced by the Broad Foundation and its allies.

Back to Lori's question..."What would the quid-pro-quo be for directors who vote in the interests of their corporate backers?", given these positions are effectively volunteer and quite timeconsuming.

Maybe they get social and business prestige? Maybe if they don't deliver what their backers want they will suffer socially and economically? I don't really know.

From hearing Harium talk at his coffee hour on Nov 30, I was impressed with how generousou Boeing is. They seem to let Harium take a lot of time of for his volunteer job. I didn't know then that Boeing was very much interested in the outcome of the 2007 campaigns (see subsequent postings on this strand for evidence of this).

My feeling about Sherry Carr is that she genuinely cares about doing well by economically disadvantaged children, who in many cities are disproportionately children of color. I don't have any impression yet about the other members of the Gang of Four. I am not optimistic.

The problem is, Sherry has only been hearing the propoganda from the reformist camp. They are very good at making it seem that their MEANS are the best way to achieve a COMPASSIONATE, EGALITARIAN END.

Judging from her voting record, Sherry has been brainwashed to believe that everything her CAMPAIGN BENEFACTORS and everything MGJ proposed really is in the best interests of disadvantaged children. Those who oppose MGJ are just spoiled white folks who only think about their own kids.

The challenge (or opportunity) is to re-educate her. I hope to make some progress on that at her community meeting this weekend. She wants to talk about RTT, so I am going to be prepared to explain why RTT (as now expressed in HB3088 and SB6696)is bad bad news for the kids she cares about helping. If I succeed on that point, I will try to help her understand that MGJ's data-driven decision making priorities are also bad for these kids.

The best place to go to get rapidly informed about the The Broad Foundation plays in our Distict is to first visit these websites:;;; (there are still other Broad organizations besides these).

Snoop around on these websites. Then visit

The Broad Foundation has effectively HIJACKED SPS. There is tons of incontrovertible evidence, but the evidence has not yet assimilated in one place yet.

I wish that we could just dismiss all of this as MERE CONSPIRACY THEORY.

Joan NE said...

Some numbers on 2007 campaign contributions:

"Peter Maier, an attorney who ran last winter's bond and levy campaigns, is running against Soriano, a Green Party and labor activist. His fundraising — 10 times what Soriano has collected — includes $10,000 from venture capitalist and League of Education Voters co-founder Nick Hanauer; $10,000 from Costco co-founder James Sinegal; $12,000 from Eastside cellular magnate John Stanton and his wife; and $10,000 and $8,000, respectively, from Microsoft executives Steve Ballmer and Jeffrey Raikes and their wives."

The preceding quote from the same article quoted in preceding posts.

The following are some of my notes from analyzing the Washington Public Disclosure Commission website data. (It's quite easy to look up data on this website).

07 MARTIN-MORRIS HARIUM Total Fundraising $63K. 143 contributions, of which 22 exceeded $999 and accounted for 76.8% of total contributions ($2205 avg); popular support = $14, 620 ($122 avg). Maximum contribution was $5000.

07 MAIER PETER Contribution total was $163,677. 528 contributions, of which 29 exceeded $999 and accounted for 59.9% of total contributions ($98K total, $3,379 avg); popular support = $65.7K ($131 avg); Maximum Contribution was $10, 000 from Nick Hanauer of Second Avenue Partners, founder of League of Education Voters. Connie and Steve Ballmer each contributed $5000. The CEO of Costco (SINEGAL JAMES) and his wife each contributed $5000. Stuart Sloan and his wife each contributed $5000.

Mary Bass (2005 campaign) 50 contributions. 1 contribution > 999. Max contribution $1000. Average contribution for contributions < $1000 was $161.

Chris said...

I agree with Joan. I also have an answer to my question "Why did Harium need $60K when he was running opposed?" and the answer is "Why bother to purchase any board members unless you can purchase a majority?"

As I recall the big donors for all four were similar, and were all connected to the Gateses by business or marriage, except for Nick Hanauer of QFC & LEV fame. What does he want? More purchasers of diapers & beer? (sorry)

Joan NE said...

Lori - I am at no loss of words as I try to form my own response to your query!

"Business leaders are looking for board members [candidates to run in 2007] who care deeply about the school system and believe every student can succeed, think broadly about policy and understand that the school district "is a big business enterprise and that the management thereof has to be smart and strategically thoughtful," said Bob Watt, a Boeing vice president for government and community relations who has a long history of work with the school district."


Right here in this one quote from this article (predating the 2007 voting day by just a few days), we find an explanation for why a few wealthy people poored a tremendous amount of money in to the 2007 elections.

From this quote, one may feel justified to strongly suspect that Boeing Employees Sherry Carr and Harium Martin Morris were recruited by Bob Watt or his colleagues at Boeing. This quote establishes that Boeng's VP had a strong longstanding interested in the business of the School District.

Go to URL

to get the full article (dated October 2005) and to see Gavroche's still relevant comment. Gavroche calls for campaign finance reform, and questions the alliegances of the Gang of Four members Carr, Sundquist, Maier, and Martin-Moriss.

There may be some real substance behind this rather vague quote:

"I think it's a particular moment in time where there's some excitement around the opportunities that exist on a number of levels," he [Patrick D'Amelio, the executive director of the Alliance for Education]said. "It's a significant moment for education around this cycle."

My interpretation:

Having in place, as of June 2007, a new superintendent from the staunchily anti-union, pro-privatization, pro-regressive-reform Broad Foundation, the Business community must have been highly motivated to get four candidates elected who could be counted onto deliver at least a 4-3 majority on EVERY PROPOSAL brought to the Board by the new superindentent.

This article lends support to this thesis.

It has indeed happened since the election of the Gang-of-Four that nearly every proposal from MJG has received majority support from the Board. Often M-DeBell went along with the Superintendent, so Harium Martin-Morris could vote along with Mary Bass, without subverting the goals of the Big Donors, and he often did just this. Clearly it has helped him with his constituency to take this seemingly populist stance over these last two years.

I recently started questioning Harium's authenticity by bringing up to him in person at his Nov 30 coffee hour. the issue of his campaign sources, and other troubling matters. It looks like now he is giving up on trying to maintain this sherade as "No. 1 Friend of Alternative Schools."]

More particularly relevant quotes from same article:

District 1 incumbent Soriano, who has raised about $11,000, mostly from individuals and labor groups, questions the huge contributions her opponent has received and worries that if he and other business-supported candidates win, the board will be too easily swayed by business interests.

[JS interjects: What ARE business interests? Look at LEV website to see. Their priorities sound good at first, but when I researched more deeply I came to realize that these priorities are going to do more harm than good to disadvantaged children, and serve a privatization agenda.]

"It makes it more difficult when people are so highly funded, because then they're beholden to them," she said.

Joan NE said...


Now, some follow up comments to the Times article just quoted.

What ARE business interests?

Look at LEV website to see.

Their priorities sound good at first, but when I researched more deeply I came to realize that these priorities are going to do more harm than good to disadvantaged children, and serve a privatization agenda.

Just how much was raised for these four candidates in 2007? Over 1/2 a million dollars. There were some 1500 individual donors to the Gang of Four in the 2007 election season. More than FIFTY PERCENT of the aggregate donations to these four candidates came from just EIGHTEEEN of the more than 1500 donors. I call these eighteen the BIG DONORS. Mostly the eighteen include husband-wife donor pairs. So we can say about half-a-dozen weatlthy couples and about half a dozen wealthy individuals accounted for the majority of the total aggregate contributions to the GANG of FOUR.

Once I learned this, of course I wondered what these 18 donors wanted from these four newly elected Board Members. Eventually I discovered that the BIGGEST of the BIG DONORS to the GANG OF FOUR was the cofounder of and one of the biggest donors to the LEAGUE OF EDUCATION VOTERS. LEV is NO GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft Corporation are top tier and 2nd tier donors to LEV, respectively.

My conclusions:

I. The priorities of the Seattle-Based LEAGUE OF EDUCATION VOTERS, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edith J. Broad, ARE MUTUALLY ALIGNED and are ALIGNED WITH THE PRIORITIES of the BIG DONORS.

II. The GANG of FOUR will always make sure that MARIA GETS HER WAY. When Maria gets her way, these BIG DONORS are getting their way, too.
III. Other supposed grass root orgs are also largely aligned with the regressive reformist pro-privatization interests. These are CPPS, SchoolsFirst, Stand For Children, and Seattle Council of PTS/PTSA.

QUESTION: Are YOUR priorities aligned with those of the BIG DONORS and with aggressive regressive education reform, including high stakes testing?

If your answer is YES: your priorities are being well attended to, both in Seattle, and at the STate level.

Joan NE said...


If your answer is NO: Here is a follow-up QUESTION: How can we overcome the influence of these BIG DONORS and the Broad Foundation and its ALLIES?

My thoughts:

1. Recall the GANG of FOUR members

2. Make Maria so uncomfortable by mounting a big display of public protest at her every public appearance that she resigns (San Francisco succeded in this way in inducing Maria's Colleague to resign.

3. MAKE CERTAIN we don't get another pro-privatization reformist superintendent to replace MGJ.

4. Educate the public to the fact that if they elect business-supported board candidates, they will get Board Members that have similar priorities as the GANG of FOUR. That is fine with me, as long as the public is overwhelmingly happy with MGJ. I just want the public to understand this electoral dynamic.

5. Make sure Mike McGinn does NOT get the authority to "take over the school district," by which he must mean, authority to appoint school board directors. [Does any reader know how to do this?]

6. Campaign Finance Reform: At present there is NO LIMIT on individual contributions to school director campaings. Mayoral campaign contribution limit is $700. Should not the contribution limit for School Board Directors be on par with this? Nick Hanuer and Wife together contributed a combined total of around $43,000 to the campaigns of the Gang of Four in 2000. The Big Donors donated more than HALF of the amount in Sherry Carr's (roughly) 1/3 of a million dollars campaign coffer.

7. Convince legislators to vote NO on SB3038 and SB6696. Here is the legislative hotline # - easy way to get a short message to a legislator in a hurry - 1.800.562.6000.

Here is another quote from the article: '...Cindi Laws, a consultant working on Ramirez's campaign and a former board member of the Seattle Monorail Project, wonders why such large sums are being given to people running for volunteer positions. "How is just a regular parent or a regular taxpayer supposed to compete with that, if you can buy a School Board member?" she said.'

Well, we regular taxpayers do have something to use as a bargaining chip: Taxes. We can "leverage the levies." Parents can cooperate and declare that they will actively oppose future levies until we see genuine community engagement and genuinely constructive leadership from the District and the Board.

This brings me to my last idea about how to overcome the influence of the BIG DONORS and the BROAD FOUNDATION.

8. Form a true, representative coalition that will leverage the levies. The next levy ballot measure to be plied to voters will probably be the Families and Schools levy from Mayor McGinn in Fall 2010.

The time to start this coalition is now.

Joan Sias

sully said...

"Sully, show me who here said they were against STEM. I haven't heard it."

I wasn't referring to anything you said Melissa. I was referring to the statement below by Solvaygirl:

"I know many families in the southend who are looking for a high school this year; only a handful are considering STEM, because only a handful have the kind of kid who would most benefit from STEM.
Charlie, your daughter will definitely benefit from STEM, but those of us who don't have math/science kids it's just not the solution to our education problems."

This statement along with the continued request for another comprehensive high school in the south end prompted my response. The southend has 3 comprehensive high schools right now. They and are obviously not working well enough to attract families like Solvay's.

zb said...

"Given the expertise at Roosevelt, it would have been logical to help RBHS develop its own program. It didn't happen."

How? How would Roosevelt help RBHS develop its own program? Was SPS supposed to reassign the Roosevelt music/drama team to RBHS? Were parents building a program for their own kids going to travel to the other end of the city to help those at RBHS?

MKD gave us rave reviews of the current music teacher at RBHS.

I hope the tours are better at RBHS, with Escobar there (coming from an option school, she must know how parents value the tours) and that families get to see if it has anything to offer them.

Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, I'm surprised at your question. You honestly believe that all schools operate in a vacuum and don't share ideas? They do.

I can say without even asking that if RHS's drama leader was asked to help RBHS with an overview of his program, how it works, what money it takes, etc., he would be happy to do so. I'm not talking about taking any teachers from any school. I'm talking about colleagues sharing expertise and information. Really scary stuff. I believe that most teachers would be glad to do that because (1) they are caring professionals and (2) it would probably help RHS to have a strong performing arts focus in the south end.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Sully — I'm not against STEM at all. Done right, I think it would be a great addition to the SPS system. I am only against pouring all the money into an option school that is so specialized without asking families who live south of the ship canal what they really want. The point I was making is that it is not a panacea for parents unhappy with SE schools unless they have kids who are eager to take calculus.

I also question the selection of NTN when other, less expensive options were available. As Theo noted, RBHS could do a lot with that money.

And, once again. Franklin is not what I consider a comprehensive high school; it is a collection of academies; kids have to select one at 10th grade and stick with it. Cleveland was also a collection of academies; it didn't work.

Up until this year, RBHS did not offer much in the way of advanced classes, and again, based on their school tour performance last year, few parents had faith in the school's ability to serve their kids' needs. Add in the discipline problems and student safety issues of the surrounding neighborhood and RBHS was not much of a choice at all. Remember, a very small number (can't remember exact, but less than 25) students selected RBHS as their first choice.

Lisa Escobar may turn the school around. I hope so for the sake of the southend's kids. I'm still not sure how the co-principal thing is going to work. I've heard that Dr. Gary is in charge of community outreach—this for the principal who was not on hand for tours last year.

agibean said...

Solvay-you keep saying students at Franklin have to choose an academy and never vary from it at Franklin. You are wrong. My daughter graduated from Franklin two years ago. While students DO choose academies in 10th grade, they do NOT have to stay with their choice for all 4 years, nor do they have to continue in ANY academy after that 10th grade.

She chose finance, which has sent many students on to college. She stayed with it because it was her intention to major in business, but she had friends who switched to other academies or out all together.

The students take all the typical high school core courses, regardless of academy-they also have one or two courses, sometimes just a semester at a time, in their area of interest. They are NOT getting specialization to the exclusion of everything else.

And it IS a comprehensive school. Their drama program is decades long well-established. They have AP. They have honors. They have tons of after school interests and clubs AND they have a swim team. Someone once posted that they don't.

Lots of successful parents send their kids to Franklin. I don't know what your beef is with it.

sully said...

Most of our high schools have one or more academies. Having an academy does not disqualify a school from being a comprehensive school, in fact in many cases it compliments their other offerings.

Offering a full array of classes and opportunities to meet the needs of many kids makes a school comprehensive. Franklin offers a full sports program, visual and performing arts, language, a full array of electives, after school activities, clubs, honors and AP classes, AND academies. Franklin is a comprehensive school.

It's fine to say that Franklin won't suit your kids needs, that you don't care for the school, or that your daughter isn't drawn to their academy choices. That's fine. That's fair. And that's your right. What's not fair is to say that Franklin is not a comprehensive school. They are.

I don't blame you one bit for avoiding schools that you don't feel meet your kids need. You are obviosly passionate about education, and put your childs best interests first. I applaud you for that. Just keep it real, and be honest.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Thanks agibean. The school website and tour did not make at that very clear. They just talked about the academies, which says specialization to me. Perhaps the District needs to get the message at various schools better. Perhaps they are so busy touting their academies they don't get the whole program clear.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I honestly do think there is a problem in general with marketing the various schools. They all have very different programs AND websites.. RBHS, for example, had a whole bunch of new courses coming online for last year, but no one was at the tour to build it up. School's websites are volunteer produced so some, understandably, are better than others. The bookklet the District gives out just doesn't tell the story.

Perhaps with the new SAP all of this will be moot, and eventually, parents won't tour other schools or check out their websites at all.

And yes, I am passionate about education. I wish all kids could have access to the exact type that suits their needs—primarily at the high school level—and access to the superlative programs. I'd love to see a super jazz trumpet player who lives in "the Beach" be able to access Roosevelt's program. Or a kid with designs on law school who lives in Magnolia access Franklin's mock trials.

My big problem with the new program is that your address dictates your school, and our schools are apples, oranges, pineapples, and kumquats.

When I add in all of the nonsense the District adds to the mix, I am just disgusted. One of the biggest things that has kept us out of SPS has been the math curriculum. Ny daughter was math phobic in public elementary. By 8th grade in private, she scored an A in Algebra and went directly into Geometry in 9th grade. The private school has traditional math books; the only real difference.

Let's all on this blog keep pushing for better public schools. I have one child; she'll be out of the system in less than 4 years. But the kindergarteners now will be working to pay my SS tomorrow. And I want a country with well-educated citizens who can understand complex issues, think and vote accordingly. I could care less if they pass the WASL!

Tom said...

It can't be about marketing. That is just so depressing. If that is the reason my neighbors are avoiding public school in the south end, then let's fund some marketing teams.

I hate marketing - the fastest most facile person wins. Not the smartest, not the wisest, not the most creative. But really, if this is the reason, then let's spend the money on marketing rather than on teachers and facilities.

By the way, I think a STEM program in the south end is brilliant. And I did tell the district that several years ago.

Anna B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SolvayGirl1972 said... missed my point. The real problem is that every school is so different from each other that the "marketing"—in this case websites, info from the District, handouts, that go out to prospective students—needs to be comparable. If kids can switch from academy to academy at Franklin, I need to know that. The fact that Roosevelt lists a complete description of every course it offers and other sites don't list courses at all makes it difficult to compare the apples to the kumquats. Ditto for the quality, breadth and scope of open houses and tours.

As long as the District offers some semblance of choice and "option" schools, it should work to get the materials used to choose somewhat equitable.