Friday, May 21, 2010

Newest Survey Results

Below is information about the results of the Superintendent Survey from last week (after the CPPS survey). There ended up being about 180 people surveyed which is far less than the CPPS survey. However, this survey was only published here and in a shorter timeframe. Again, not scientifically valid but a bookend to the CPPS results. Here is a link to the survey with comments.

This Superintendent Performance Survey was produced by a group of Seattle community members who regularly interface with SPS District staff individually, through school groups and in business. Because of the sensitivity of their position in relation to positive or negative criticism for the superintendent, they chose to circulate the survey anonymously, with the hope of adding an additional discussion point during the current superintendent evaluation.

Some hard copy surveys circulated through the community. The same version of the survey was posted, again by anonymous request, via one location only: this blog. Due to a compressed timeline (superintendent evaluation will be completed during May) the survey was active for one week, May 11-17. This summary reflects only the responses submitted by the link on the blog. One-time response was requested. The survey was screened for same-person multiple responses. 178 responses were deemed valid.

Survey responses came from 27 area Zip codes. The top three responding Zip codes were 98115, 98103, 98117, 98118 and 98112. Approximately 78 percent identified as parents of current SPS students.

The survey was structured to follow the performance matrix Board members follow to evaluate the Superintendent. It allowed for multiple degrees of satisfaction/non-satisfaction with the superintendent’s performance in the following order: Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree/Disagree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. Each question allowed respondents the chance to comment. All comments are available for public review. No comments were edited. Only contact information was removed.

The ultimate question, whether to extend the Superintendent’s contract for another year, was offered two ways, “Yes I agree….” “No I do not agree…”, again with comments, to maximize the opportunity for a wide range of input. The reaction to the question, phrased two ways, was consistent: More than 80 percent of respondents do not wish the Board to renew the Superintendent’s contract.

A few of the comments:

"I have been to several of her meetings. She only takes pre-screened questions and doesn't give real answers. The meetings are a mere formality. Parents go away feeling like they haven't been heard. She makes her own decisions, not based on feedback or input that is gathered at meetings. The meetings feel like a formality so she can say that she "heard" the parents. I come away very very frustrated at her meetings."

On principal placement - "Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has certainly stirred things up, but as things settle, I don't see the differences making better outcomes for all students."

On the Budget - "Don Kennedy's communication is excellent."

"It is unbelievable that district staff do not have budget figures at board meetings and are allowed to repeatedly state, "I will get back to you on that."

On whether to renew her contract - "She has been a catalyst for change. Maybe too much. I am not sure we can sustain it all."

"Only extraordinary performance would warrant this."

Parent Comments - "I am embarrassed I have not come forward in voicing my concenrs previously. I thought if I kept my focus on my children his performance and joined PTA it was enough. I thought that school and school board leadership was aware and proactive at his school. I am disappointed with myself and with your performance. We have let our children down."

This can't be "new" news to the Board. I'd be willing to bet they hear some form of this daily, namely, why is the Superintendent so arms-length with parents and community? The question is not whether they hear this enough to affect their decision whether to renew her contract (versus let her finish the final 2 years of her current contract). The question is whether they are listening. They can certainly listen to the powers that be in this town who see the churn but not the waterfall. Is the noise of the churn enough to drown out the voices of parents and community?

The Board has a big decision to make and I hope they don't just go along to get along. I hope they look down the road and then say to the Superintendent, thank you for your vision, your ability to send a lot of initiatives into motion and your steadfast belief in SPS education. You've done the job we needed for your tenure but now we feel, in two years time when the new SAP has settled in as well as other initiatives, that we will need a new type of superintendent to lead us.

That's what I hope will happen. But it will take political courage. Whatever decision the Board makes, it will likely impact the four members who come up for re-election in November 2011 (should they all run again as I suspect they will).

The Board takes up the Superintendent Evaluation in an Executive Session next Wednesday.

55 comments:

Stu said...

I hope they look down the road and then say to the Superintendent, thank you for your vision, your ability to send a lot of initiatives into motion and your steadfast belief in SPS education. You've done the job we needed for your tenure but now we feel, in two years time when the new SAP has settled in as well as other initiatives, that we will need a new type of superintendent to lead us.

Melissa,

But they don't really have to say that, do they? Why can't they say something more like You've done the job we needed for your tenure but now we feel we need to wait for a year or two, while the new SAP has settled in as well as other initiatives, to see if you continue to be type of superintendent to lead us.

I mean, she's constantly going on and on about accountability; why can't the board simply say that we're going hold you accountable and see how all your changes are going before we commit to a new contract. After all, there's still two years left on her current contract; there's no law saying it has to be renegotiated.

stu

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stu, your version is fine. I'm with you that I want to see real accountability. Good for you.

cascade said...

I like how people commented on specific items on her performance review. And ouch, mostly those comments are very critical. Pulled some of the ones to which I say AMEN:

Performance Mgmt:

I especially resent the amount of $$$ shunted into Performance Management during this budgetary belt tightening time. I resent it because I sincerely doubt I will ever be able to track where the money went and what the outcomes were....

Budget

RU kidding? The engagement policy on this one was at the "inform only" level until some of us in the public started yelling. Even so, the meetings came *after* the decisions were largely made. And staff at the meetings wasn't exactly engaged in idea gathering. In addition, the way staff has "underenrolled" schools that have consistent, multi-year waiting lists means that these schools are forced to displace teachers for no reason at all. It's a shoddy budgetary practice that needs correction. Also, the layoff of elementary counselors being posited as "principal-recommended" when that was not actually the case was simply horrible.

Special Ed
Services have been reduced ever since MGJ has come on board... Sticking special education students in really large general education classrooms under the misguided and over-promised ICS with no supports, untrained general education teacher acting as a special educator and no related services is crimminal and against IDEA laws. To pretend it is not happening is even bigger farce and it is the responsibility of district leadership!

Central Mom said...

Stu. Well said.

And if they do that, the odds are that she will bolt before that time. (Best to take another job once the writing is on the wall.) Then the board will have to fill the spot right at the time of all these changes hitting, no $$ from the state and no internal candidates. (The likeliest candidate, the new CAO, has not been here a year, so highly doubtful they'd elevate her.)

That leaves us with the usual board suspects doing the usual thing...extending her contract and sticking us w/ keeping her (or eventually paying her out) for 3 years.

Anyhow, that's my bet on what happens. It is NOT what I want to happen. I want to have the board thank her for her planning and initial changes and move her out. Now. Despite the challenges I listed above.

wseadawg said...

Grrrrr! If there's one thing, and I mean ONE BIG CONVENTIONAL IDEA that I wish the Board, Staff, Super and many people in the community would let go of, it's this North vs. South, Have's vs. Have-nots mentality that seems to pervade every discussion about what schools have what, get what, must give up what, etc., etc.

This flows perfectly with Top-Down decisionmaking and stewardship where it is said repeatedly, "we can't do that for you when we haven't done it for them, or until we do it for them." We've heard that soooo much around the closures, the SE Initiative, and so many other district moves throughout the district, I just wish it would stop.

Schools and communities should not be automatically told "everyone must share in the pain" first. Instead, they should be asked, "what do you want? And what do you need?" Followed by a district response like this: "Okay. We'll do our best to help you do that!"

Where is that attitude? Schools don't all need the same stuff. Some need lots of attention, some don't. Some need extra counselors and security, and some don't. The only way we'll ever approach "equity" ("equality" is a pipe dream), is when we pay attention to particular, local, grass roots needs, vs district-wide, North vs. South, trickle-down economics. It doesn't work. We're not at RB or Cleveland, but I live close enough. Everyone does. I want them NOT to have the exact same things my local school has. I want them to have what their community needs! What is so damn hard about that?

In light of all my rants, MGJ is sooooo NOT what SPS needs. SOOOOOOOOOO Not.

Charlie Mas said...

As I often say, the fact that all of your efforts are futile does not excuse you from the obligation to make those efforts.

Regardless of what we think - regardless of what any number of community members think - there are at least four members of the Board who are enthralled with the superintendent. Consequently, her contract will be extended, although I think they will be hard pressed to give her a raise of any kind.

And, yes, I write "regardless" of what we think because these four Board members have no regard for what we - or any other community members - think. No regard at all.

And that is the problem at the heart of the District - an obstinant refusal to address the needs and concerns of the community they ostensibly serve. That's just as true for the people in the District who are supposed to care - the Board - as it is for anyone else in the district.

dan dempsey said...

Worth repeating:

""regardless" of what we think because these four Board members have no regard for what we - or any other community members - think. No regard at all.

And that is the problem at the heart of the District - an obstinant refusal to address the needs and concerns of the community they ostensibly serve."

dan dempsey said...

The above explains why legal action is needed if one expects much of anything to change, until Nov 2011 or maybe even later.

WA State Supreme Court May 27, 2010 next step. "writ of mandamus" filed naming each board member as individuals and three superior court judges as failing to do the job they are required to do.

dan dempsey said...

Legal action update:
District files brief HERE on 5-21-2010 appealing Spector HS Math instructional materials Order of Remand of 2-4-2010.

Response due in 30 days.

This appeal is the product of the Superintendent and four school directors.

Tom said...

It turns out that many of the programs and facilities that many people in the South of the city want are the same as people want in the North of the city. I don't think asking for equity is bad.

Central Mom said...

Anyone see this editorial this a.mm?
"http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorials/2011924625_edit23survey.html?prmid=op_ed"

There is so much in those paragraphs that needs clarification from parents on this blog. Add to comments under the editorial. But discuss here!

2inSPS said...

Equitable or equal?

Schools will never be equal because every school is unique, and every school has different needs. Schools should however be equitable.

There is a perception that south end schools are not equal to north end schools, but are they equitable?

Does the district play any part in this?

Does the district fund south ends schools less than they fund north end schools? No.

Do they give south end schools less staffing, less security, less anything? No.

So what is it? What leads to this perception and is it something that the district can change?

It appears to me that the district has done some fantastic things in the south end in the last 5 yeas. The south end had the SE initiative and all of the extra funding that came with it. The south end now has STEM, which I predict will be very popular and desireable. The south end has Kimball International school which has a huge waitlist. It has South Shore with tiny class sizes and tons of private funding. It has ORCA K-8, and access to TOPS k-8 with transportation. It has Graham Hill Montessori. It has Thurgood Marshall with the gifted program. It has access to NOVA and Center School. Franklin HS seems decent too.

Those are some pretty nice and diverse choices. Hardly seems inequitable to me.

What else could or should the district do?

wsnorth said...

2inSPS re: budgets South vs. North. Do you have the refereces or facts to back up these answers? Antecdotely (other than STEM), it seems to me the North gets more of everything - more option schools, more re-opened schools, more re-modeled schools, more Spectrum and advanced programs, more International schools (this may be balancing out) - in short, more of everything that costs money. Honestly, are there actual per school spending figures available? In West Seattle, for instance, they closed two of our schools and are housing those students in portables at other schools now. We only have one option school, and I know a number of students who commute out to get programs not available here. I'm sure the North PTA's fund a lot, too, so that might explain some of the imbalance.

seattle citizen said...

The Times editorial referenced by Central Mom is a hoot.
So THIS survey is "unscientific," while the TWO teacher-bashing surveys by Alliance/OSC/Strategies 360, with assistance from SPS, bear "thoughtful response."

WHEN, oh, when we will we have a paper that actually reports real news? They had a short piece on a 2006 federal funding program in the ed news a couple of days ago, whose soul purpose (I mean, 2006? This is news?) was to have the last line be "The unions were opposed." A paragraph story about a 2006 fund, just to insert that line about those pesky opposition unions.
The next day, the "article" disappeared. Somebody must have pointed out to them that it wasn't news and it was merely propaganda.

The Times really is just a propaganda rag now, isn't it? What a shame. The glory of a democracy is its free access to information, and the Times would manage information as if we're back in the old Soviet Union, churning out propaganda.
It's a shame.

2inSPS said...
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2inSPS said...
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2inSPS said...

The district uses the Weighted staffing formula (WSS) to figure out funding for each school. I don't particularly that model, but it is equitable as every school gets funded based on the same criteria. And, low income school get extra funding via compensatory funds, Title I, etc.

As far as the North end has more of everything statement, can you show an example instead of making a general statement?

I live in the NE cluster.

We have a popular K-5 alt school, Thornton Creek, and an under enrolled k-8 school, Jane Addams.

We have 1 brand new school, Sandpoint, that has a total of 40 kids enrolled, and has no special or unique program at all.

We have no language immersion school.

We have no Montessori school.

We have no STEM school.

We have no school that offers APP.

We have no school that has a public/private partnership with 17 kid classrooms, like Southshore.

So what do we have more of in the NE than the SE? I'm not seeing it.

We do have strong, high performing neighborhood schools, but that's not due to district funding, or special treatment, it's due to demographics. There are a lot of middle, upper middle class and affluent families in the NE. Families are able to volunteer more in schools, fundraise more, get their kids tutors, summer school, private music lessons, etc.

If you took all of the students that currently attend Bryant Elementary (high performing) in NE Seattle and put them in Hawthorne Elementary in SE Seattle , with the same funding Hawthorne has always received, and the same teachers and principal that are currently at Hawthorne, Hawthorne would suddenly become one of the highest performing schools in the district. It's not the school or teachers or the funding or the principal that makes a school "high performing" - it's the kids that attend the school. And the families that support those kids.



The district can't really do anything about that

SPS mom said...

Re: Times article

I had to check the date to make sure it wasn't 1984.

Fascinating that the Times calls the over 600 responses a "smattering" while it upholds the Our Schools Coalition survey on teachers that polled around 600 (175 teachers, 200 parents, 200 citizens w/o students in SPS). The OSC polling summary considers this a reasonable response rate.

The OSC had a list of 10,700 current parents/families for their polling.

Times, is this the best you can offer Seattle?

2inSPS said...

So I compared the NE cluster to the SE cluster in my last post, now lets look at the N, and NW clusters so we cover the entire geographic region north of the ship canal.

The North cluster has:

One immersion middle school.

One middle school that serves APP, but no elementary.

One K-8 alt school, AS1

One IB high school, Sealth

One Montessori k-5

One new elementary school that has 30 students assigned to it, with no special or unique program.

Now for the NW cluster:

They have two K-8 schools, Salmon Bay and Broadview Thompson.

They have the biotech academy at Ballard.

No MOntessori

No schools that offer APP.

No immersion school

No public/private funded schools like SouthShore.

No new schools.

That doesn't look much better than the SE to me and we've looked at the entire region north of the ship canal and compared it to just the SE. I didn't even include all of the other areas south of the ship canal like Central Seattle, and West Seattle.

When you lay it out it just doesn't look so unequal to me.

owlhouse said...

Thanks for the heads up, Central Mom. The link wasn't working for me- I'm reposting:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorials/2011924625_edit23survey.html

And do read the article. It's a painfully lazy response that doesn't further the discussion or debate nor address the challenges in working to improve our schools. Instead, the Times seems to be saying that parents just don't get it. That finally SPS has real leadership, and the handful of us who are unhappy or have concerns should stop complaining, be grateful, and trust the process the board and Supt have agreed on.

Stu said...

more re-opened schools,

The reason the NE has more re-opened schools is because the district kept closing schools for political reasons. I was in the room when a board director said that they couldn't close schools in the south end without closing schools in the north, that it would be politically difficult. He knew that, if they closed the under-enrolled south schools, without doing something in the north, the "look at how much more the north gets" crowd would take to the streets . . .and the papers. In my opinion, it's the all that concern about covering their asses that makes these kind of board decisions so political.

I remember when they were trying to close schools 5 years ago and added the 100% enrolled, with wait list, Sacajawea Elementary to the list of closures. (We were sure they were going to try and close our school, John Rogers, 'cause we were so small.) The ONLY reason they wanted to close it was because they were closing schools in the south end, due to capacity. The ONLY reason it was taken off the list was because they had no where to put the 300+ students who were in the program.

The NE cluster would kill for language immersion, STEM, APP, fully-funded Spectrum, equitable access to music programs . . . the district pours money into the south end but does it in such a way that they expect the money to just solve everything. And yes, a lot of that funding is offset, in the north end, with PTA money but that inevitably leads to the "oh, the north end parents will take care of that" mentality that poisons the well even more.

stu

seattle citizen said...

The money poured into the South End schools is directed at "remedial" programs while the money poured into the North End schools is directed at ALO programs.

My main concern is that programs like SE Initiative and STEM are indicative of the Reform mentality: Schools, generally, "fail" and need to reconfigured into these "data-driven" WASL factories. I have a suspicion that if the district tried to close, say, Roosevelt and replace it with a STEM school, all heck would break loose.

As the new SAP further reduces economic and racial diversity in the north end schools (generally), look for more South End schools to be "reformed." While some of the reformista's damaging tenets, such as Performance Management and other standardizing tactics have produce collateral damage to North End schools, the main push is to make South End schools into institutions more malleable to general reform goals. North End schools will, perforce, have more "earned autonomy" while South End schools, because Reform goals look at whole schools and not individual students, will suffer reconstitution into WASL factories.

So there might be economic "equity" between the regions (as has been pointed out, lots of remedial money is poured south: look at STEM, which evidently is using LAP dollars that used to more closely follow students all around the district and focusing these LAP dollars into one South End school) But equity of educational opportunity might likely be made more unfair as South End schools are reformed into WASL prep while North End schools maintain "autonomy" to offer richer curricula.

This will be one unfortunate side-effect of NSAP: It makes it easier for reform to focus on one region, rather than having to deal with the push-back against it that might occur in other regions.

2inSPS said...
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2inSPS said...
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2inSPS said...

I wish the district would "reform" Jane Addams into a language immersion school.

I wish the district would "reform" Sandpoint into a Montessori school.

If that's reform, bring it on baby!

Dora Taylor said...

Part 1

I would like to add something to this conversation regarding our new performance management policy.It's a post that I just made on our blog and it goes like this:

Recently the Performance Management Policy was approved by our school board. The one school district that was chosen by SPS staff to look at as a model was the Oakland Public School district. (There was a study done by a graduate student at UW who later developed a report that SPS used. She based her analysis on the Oakland Public School district.)

One would ask why Oakland? There are fifty states worth of school districts to look at as a source of information.

Well, let's take a look.

A parent spoke in front of the school board about the Oakland school district when the board was deciding whether to approve the Performance Management policy. She spoke ardently about how that school district had failed under their policy.

In a post that I had come across last year, I heard the same from Craig Gordon, a teacher in the Oakland public school system (http://purereform.blogspot.com/2009/05/broad-foundation-influence.html):

"I teach in Oakland, CA, a "Broad District" big time. We were taken over by the state in 2003, ostensibly due to fiscal mismanagement and the need for a state line of credit to bail the district out. Since then a string of three state administrators have been sent in, all three graduates of the Broad Center for Management of School Systems. In addition to more than doubling the district's debt to well over $100 million, the Broadies have aggressively cut site budgets, attacked district unions, multiplied the number of charters, and instituted a market-based model to make each school site run like a private business.

Far from improving the quality of education here, the state administration has played the game of closing "under performing" schools, opening new ones (often charters) with inadequate resources. Teacher turnover is at an all time high. While Oakland is likely to get local control back in a few months, most of the school board has become thoroughly indoctrinated in the Broad ideology of privatizing public schools."

Craig Gordon
High school social studies teacher
Oakland, CA

seattle citizen said...

I wish the district would reform Adams back into the alternative school it was before the district "reformed" it out of existence.

Note the lack of interest, the actual hostility, towards alternative schools evidenced by the district....hmmmm....I wonder why this is....Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Dora Taylor said...

Part 2

And from a newly elected school board member after this series of fiasco's, Oakland Takes Back Its' Schools (http://news.newamericamedia.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=9d63e10ab93741e115e9364fecf29b77):

"The Oakland School Board has regained control of its schools for the first time in six years. What will the changeover of power mean for the young people who attend Oakland public schools?

On a basic civics lesson level, you are looking at a citizenry that elected representatives, and for six years those representatives weren’t able to set policy or govern. There are a lot of aspiring politicians and activists who looked at this position and said, what’s the point of being a school board member? You can advise and be influential in some ways, but you don’t have real power. Now that we have local control, I feel I can really affect change. I can go in and investigate schools and examine reforms in a new way."

"How did the state takeover of the school board impact the local community in Oakland?

All these education reforms were happening, like small schools and charter schools, and yet the elected officials couldn’t respond to their constituency in any way. It was a complete outsider making decisions for our community."

So what are we doing looking at a failed policy to base our Performance Management policy on?

Would it have anything to do with the fact that our superintendent is a Broad graduate? That the Broad has their finger in just about every pie here in Seattle at this time?

I'll let you draw your own conclusions."


Our school district can't handle another year of destruction that our supe began. Enough is enough. We need to just cut our losses and send her packing.

Let's find someone within our own ranks who understands and respects us, our children, our schools and our neighborhoods and can respond to the needs of THIS community.

No more supe's who land here with no sense of who we are and where we REALLY want to be.

2inSPS said...

"My main concern is that programs like SE Initiative and STEM are indicative of the Reform mentality"

Really?

The SE initiative funded more AP classes (the very thing you say is making North end schools thrive), smaller class sizes, and a longer school day. How is that part of a corporatist reform movement?

And STEM? A Science/tech high school that will offer a CORE24 college prep curriculum is part of the corporatist reform movement? No, I don't think so. In fact schools like STEM will help us ward off charters. As long as parents have unique choices and options we can stave off charters. Get rid of our choices and we may very well welcome charters in.

Be careful what you wish for Seattle Citizen.

seattle citizen said...

Dora, it's worse than not having a sense of who we are and what we do: I fear that the superintendent knows who we are and what we do and just doesn't care, except where she needs to interact/infiltrate/manipulate local perspectives in order to bring about her Broad mandate.

2inSPS said...
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2inSPS said...

Seattle Citizen Summit was not very popular. It didn't fill. It attracted about 400 or so students to a 900 kid building. I don't care whether it was alt or not, it was not what the families of the NE wanted. Nor is Jane Addams that's why it isn't full either. The families of the NE have said overwhemlingly time and time again that they want immersion or Montessori. Put a JSIS type program in the Jane Addams building and watch it enroll 900 kids and get a waitlist.

You say about the Super "the superintendent knows who we are and what we do and just doesn't care" and that is exactly what you are doing when you say you think Summit should still be around. You are being dissmissive of what the parents want.

Stu said...

I have a suspicion that if the district tried to close, say, Roosevelt and replace it with a STEM school, all heck would break loose.

Of course it would 'cause that's apples and oranges. We're not talking about closing successful programs, with huge waiting lists, we're talking about failed programs, schools with underperforming student populations, half-empty buildings.

Even with the money that was poured into it, Cleveland was an unsuccessful program and needed something different. Will STEM help? Well, it'll make the building perform better but what does it say about the district if the only way to make a program look better is by replacing all the students?

Roosevelt is an incredibly popular and successful program; I would suggest that many people would love to see Nathan Hale offer some of the same programs.

You talk about earned autonomy . . . the problem with this superintendent and this board is that they want their fingers in EVERYTHING. It doesn't matter if it's good, they'll still change the lessons, move the principal, and find a way to screw the families. You think Summit was treated fairly? How 'bout the families that signed on to a new, math and tech-based K-8 program at Jane Addams only to find, ust days after enrollment closed, that the district didn't want to support that program? How 'bout the North APP kids who don't have a North APP program . . . or NO LANGUAGE IMMERSION IN THE CLUSTER!.

Every neighborhood complains about inequity . . that's probably the only equitable thing in the distrcit. But the question, not for this thread, is whether it's the responsibility of the board to try and remedy every societal ill or if they just need to provide strong programs with strong teachers.

stu

Dora Taylor said...

Yes, she probably has an idea of who we are although not really. Up until recently she had the perception that alternative schools in Seattle were as in other parts of the country, the schools of last resort for students.

What she knows of us she doesn't seem to like. I feel like she views us in a rather hostile manner, with an "us or them" mentality. She has this agenda, the Broad agenda, that by golly, we're going to have rammed down our throats, no questions asked, whether it works for us or not.

That's no approach to education but that's what we've got.

People like that are deadly to a community.

If we don't do something now, we will end up like Oakland, picking up the pieces after several years of a failed policy and agenda brought to us by the Broad.

Unfortunately in the meantime our children will be the ones who suffer.

Stu said...

Nor is Jane Addams that's why it isn't full either.

I slightly disagree with this one. While I think the NE area would flock to a K-8 language immersion program there, I do think Jane Addams would be more popular if people around here knew the district would be supporting the building/program.

Just after open enrollment last year, the district said that they weren't going to be supporting the K-8 model there after three years . . . what kind of message is that to send to the community? It tells me to stay away unless you want your child to be part of ANOTHER experiment.

The building holds 900 but there's a waiting list to get in because the district has capped enrollment. Given time, and the resources to become a real alternative to the always-full Eckstein, I think JA would be an incredible school.

When they first started making plans for the new Jane Addams program, we were waiting to see if they'd offer language immersion. Had they done that, along with a supported and funded Spectrum program, we would have seriously considered leaving APP. No more bus problems, neighborhood families . . . it would have been lovely.

stu

seattle citizen said...

Stu, you write that "Even with the money that was poured into it, Cleveland was an unsuccessful program and needed something different"

I would like to know on what you base your statement that Cleveland was an "unsuccessful program": Was it unsuccessful for every student?

To me, this is at the heart of the problem: SOME students are successul, some not so much. Is this a failure of the program, a failure of the community, what?

Furthermore, I would ask what "success" is measured by in your estimation of Cleveland's unsuccessfulness. Are you referencing WASL scores? Grad rates? What?

It's probably be true that we could make a generalized claim that many students at Cleveland were not "successful," but to me it's not the failure of a program so much as it is a failure of people: Students, teachers, parents, community members....so to call it an unsuccessful program would only make sense if all these players were studied to see what, as individuals, they did or didn't do to be "successful" - if, on aggregate, we found that even "successful" students were somehow generally beaten down by Cleveland, that there was a pattern of bad teaching or support or whatever IN THE PROGRAM, would a statement that "this was an unsuccessful program" make sense.

You have all heard this argument from me before: There are no "failing schools"; there are people who fail in all schools and in the community. Transforming an entire school without looking first at these individual components makes little sense and is disruptive to those who are "successful" on various metrics. (which brings us back to success": Some students might need, in a particular school, to be "successful" in art or history or shop - is this measured? No? Why not?)

Stu said...

It's probably be true that we could make a generalized claim that many students at Cleveland were not "successful,

Everything we talk about here is a generalization. EVERY school has successes and failures, which is why it's so dangerous to pit neighborhoods against each other.

I might not agree with all the ways that we currently measure "success," but Cleveland was a school that needed a government-mandated change. The STEM program is the district's response to that change, and is an amazing addition to the district, but does nothing to address why the program wasn't working.

It's all generalization . . . I absolutely HATE what they've done to the district; my son's had a great year in his school. One has nothing to do with the other.

stu

2inSPS said...
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2inSPS said...

"I would like to know on what you base your statement that Cleveland was an "unsuccessful program"

Lowest WASL, MAP, SAT and ACT scores in the district

Highest suspension rate in the district.

Very high drop out rate, one of the highest in the district.

But even if you take all of the above metrics out, there is still one more major factor in determining if a school is succesful.

Is the school desirable and attractive to the families of SPS? In the case of Cleveland the answer is an astounding NO. The school was severely under enrolled. Families were not interested in sending their children there.

How's that?

seattle citizen said...

Perhaps the dropout rate and suspension rate are causation of the test performance rates? Certainly there are some things a school can do to keep a student from dropping out or being suspended, but not a lot.

What I'm sugesting, 2inSPS, is that there hasn't been enough work done to identify why students dropped out, why they were suspended, why they might not get a good WASL or MAP score....How can we tear out eon program and just stick in another and assume it will serve the students if we don't know how to serve the individual needs of the students?

And Stem is now an option school, so it's a moot point: They didn't replace the old "program" with a new one to serve the same students; they replaced both the students and the program.

Chris said...

Whatever decision the Board makes, it will likely impact the four members who come up for re-election in November 2011 (should they all run again as I suspect they will).

I went to Sundquist's community meeting for the first time this morning, and I think, like Peter Maier, he doesn't seem very interested in keeping his director job. They both seem to view community meetings as occasions to trot out talking points rather than engage in dialogue. At least Martin-Morris and Carr look like they are trying sometimes. If I was Sundquist or Maier, I wouldn't bother to run.

2inSPS said...

The point is Seattle Citizen that families did not want to sent their kids to Cleveland as evidenced by how severely under enrolled it was.

The district has had decades to try to figure out why kids at Cleveland drop out and get suspended at alarmingly high rates, and perform so poorly on standardized tests. Do you really expect parents to wait around another decade while the district "does the work to figure out why"? I don't. There is no way to justify that.

Some of the Cleveland students will stay at STEM which will hopefully be a much stronger academic program than Cleveland. Some of them will go to Franklin, which is a school that does reasonably well by all accounts. And some will go to RBHS which isn't any better or worse than Cleveland in my opinion. So it seems that a good percentage of the Cleveland students will have a better option post Cleveland.

2inSPS said...

"They didn't replace the old "program" with a new one to serve the same students; they replaced both the students and the program."

They did not "replace" any students. All students attending Cleveland had the option to stay on at STEM.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Chris, from your lips to their ears, I hope so.

This next School Board election is going to see a lot of firepower particularly if Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is still here (but again, I think two more years will be her limit). I am certain that the powers that be in this town will want ed reformers in there to back her up. It's going to take courage (and money) to take them on.

seattle citizen said...

2inSPS,
My point is that changing programs, closing and reopening schools, etc is not enough: We must, instead of merely looking at how schools do, look at how children do. The student who was sruggling at Cleveland, chooses not to go to STEM, ends up at Franklin...It's the same student with the same struggles. What have we done to make sure THAT student is served? What has the district done, what services has it changed for THAT student, what will it do for THAT student at Franklin? I'm not saying it, or Franklin, won't do anything - I'm sure both will - but that it might not be the program that needs changing, it might be the way we serve students who drop out, who struggle with the WASL, who have issues at home.

seattle citizen said...

The District HAS, in all fairness, looked at changing some of the supports for these students who struggle. MAP, while not necessarily a good way to evaluate teachers, might turn out to be a good way to identify students who are trending down. The district also undertook the Safety Net Review of the four Safety Net schools three years ago and made some recommendations. But I fear two things:
1) Funding - while we gear up to offer advanced classes in all schools (requiring more FTE, unles it is done in the gen ed classroom (mixed Honors and Gen ed, for intance, which requires much more work on the part of the teacher to differentiate) are we making sure funding is secure for remedial classes? Is there funding for them? The more types of classes offered in a school, the more FTE there needs to be because classrooms might not all be full: A remedial classroom might only serve fifteen students instead of thirty, so that's an extra 0.5 FTE

2) Where is the community? The presumption that changing programs (Cleveland to STEM) will make things better misses the bigger picture: Students drop out for a number of reasons, the least of which, probably, is the type of program. Students struggel for a number of reasons, the biggest of which, propably, is generational education levels and expectations and generational poverty. So while the community and parents has stepped up, and will, I fear that the effort must be much, much larger and be all-encompassing, culturally, economically, and in every possible way. To not do this and then except teachers and schools to work some sort of miracle is relying on hope and a dream.

ONLY if this becomes a community-wide issue (and with only forty percent of the population voting, I have my doubts) will students find success. To implicitly (and explicitly) blame teachers and schools for "failure" without addressing the much greater influences outside the classroom is disrespectful of educators and unhelpful to students: Changing schools and programs, standardizing everything, debasing education down to teaching to the test, in an attempt to "fix" the problem results in a worse education for everybody while the problems continue outside the schoolhouse.

2inSPS said...
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2inSPS said...
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2inSPS said...

The cold hard fact is that parents were not choosing to send their kids to Cleveland. They shunned the school in mass numbers and Cleveland was dying a slow death. To continue to keep Cleveland open when the building was only 1/3 to 1/2 full would be fiscally irresponsible. The fact is that the program at Cleveland had to change to be able to attract families. And lets not forget too that the restructure was government mandated.

But you are right in that kids that were getting suspended and dropping out at Cleveland will probably continue to do so at STEM or Franklin or wherever else they land and that's a problem that needs to be addressed.

Charlie Mas said...

We can say that the fact that Cleveland was full of struggling students is not, by itself, an indication that Cleveland was a struggling school. All of the disappointing outcomes at Cleveland - the test scores, the graduation rates, etc. - undoubtedly reflect factors in the population that are completely outside the school's ability to influence to any notable degree.

Cleveland, however, was a struggling program. Not based on any of the test scores, not based on graduation rates, not even based on discipline rates. Cleveland was a struggling school based on two data points:

1. Enrollment. The school was deeply unpopular with the community it was supposed to serve.

2008-2009 Enrollment: a miserable 662. On any given day, of course, a quarter of them wouldn't be there because Cleveland had the worst attendance in the district: 76%. Worse, only 18% of the students assigned to the school named it as their first choice for assignment.

People just didn't want to go to that school. Not in the first place. Not on any day.

2. Student survey question: I feel safe at my school: 2.6. This was the lowest rating of all high schools.

Yes, the GPA was abysmal. Yes, about 20% of the students were suspensed at some point each year. Those are also bad indicators, but let's not deny the fact that Cleveland was not just a school full of struggling students, it was a struggling program.

Charlie Mas said...

Imagine the reaction of a Cleveland student who is having trouble getting the 20 credits needed to graduate, and the school says that they are raising the bar to 24.

Imagine the reaction of a Cleveland student who failed the 10th grade math WASL (79.8% of them) who is told that they will not only have to pass Geometry to graduate, but Advanced Algebra, Pre-calculus, and Calculus as well.

Does your imagination include anything other than that student leaving the school for Franklin or Rainier Beach where the graduation requirements are lower?

wsnorth said...

2inSPS and others - does anyone know if the district actually publishes (or even tracks) actual spending by school? I found some WSS numbers, but that doesn't look like actual $$ spent. There are posts about Cleveland, South Shore, TOPS, etc. costing a "lot" but do we have any data? I'm not trying to make any political point here, I would truly like to see actual spending, including busing, private money, etc. It just seems to me like some schools get preference and more $$, but maybe it is not true.

Chris said...

Just read this one. Another wow. We Seattleites may be "nice" but we sure have a large vocabulary of negative adjectives. We rocK! I almost want to go thru and make a poem out of them. But seriously, who is "Intentionally bad question?"

Charlie Mas said...

wsnorth, it is notoriously difficult to determine actually spending for a specific school.

In the school budgets, all teachers cost the same - the district average. In real life, of course, some teachers cost twice as much as others. This is the primary source of difference between the written budget and the actual spending at a school.

When the District went through the Capacity Management project they calculated the "non-teaching" expense at each school. You could see if those numbers are still available. I believe these costs included the costs of administrative staff as well as the costs of maintaining the building. I don't know what other services are included in this expense, whether it includes nurses, counselors, family support workers, or all of the other folks at the school (intervention specialists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, etc.).

A another source of budget confusion are the coaches who are paid out of the central administration budget but work in the schools. There's no telling how many hours they spend at each school.

It's a tangled web.

wsnorth said...

It seems like even the accountants aren't Accountable. I suppose that shouldn't suprise me.