Monday, June 21, 2010

Open Thread

Sorry, forgot about the open thread.

So what are your thoughts as this school year comes to a close tomorrow?

122 comments:

yumpears said...

Has anyone done the "Family Survey for Elementary Schools"? I was sent a link to take the survey and when I click on the link I get "Your responses to this survey were previously noted. Thank you for your participation."

Note I didn't get to take the survey, I just clicked on the survey link and they already knew my responses...

wsnorth said...

We got two links, to two different emails, for three elementary students. I "went first" with the oldest, then when my spouse tried it wouldn't work. I think it is unscientific at best - all messed up at worst - but I'd still like to see the results by school.

yumpears said...

I have one child in SPS this year and the district doesn't have my spouse's email. So I received one email and was given no opportunity to respond (or even see the questions). So what was the survey about?

Dora Taylor said...

SEA just released a statement regarding the contract of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

See:

SEA, the Seattle Education Association Recommends to the School Board Not To Extend Superintendent Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s contract.

http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/

for details.

John said...

I didn't really see how the survey was very useful if I couldn't specify the school, but I took it anyway. (And gave my school high marks.) It came off like a PR exercise, whatever the intention.

Seems to me like every family should be asked to fill out a more detailed "report card" on their school at year's end as a matter of course. It would almost seem necessary, in fact. Does the district do this?

Dora Taylor said...

What are my thoughts? That it's going to be a long, if not hot, summer.

Now with the SEA finally making a formal statement about our supe's contract (http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/ ), a final SEA contract vote in the fall and school board elections around the corner, for some of us it will be a very busy summer.

As far as end of the year thoughts, my daughter told me last week that this year at Nova was the best year of her life so far. A great testament to a great school, the best principal ever and an incredible teaching staff.

Go Nova! You rock!

wsnorth said...

Denny Middle school wins math competition!

http://westseattleblog.com/2010/06/west-seattle-school-news-another-math-win-for-denny

Josh Hayes said...

No kidding, wsnorth! I GRADED those tests -- and I must say, it was a really fun time (including having to convince the rest of the graders I was right about one problem).

Some of those problems were really hard, the kind of thing I'd expect only about half a class of college kids to get, and several of the middle school - MIDDLE school! - teams got them right. I am heartened - but having talked with the math teachers involved, I can tell you that every single one, and I mean Every. Single. One - supplemented what they called the "insufficient" curriculum.

So what's the take-home message? If you want your kids to do well in math, you'd better step outside the district-mandated stuff.

And, another message, the Olympiad was fun as hell. I urge any parents who can spare the time to participate - I didn't think I'd be doing more than proctoring, but I must say, it was fun interacting with a bunch of caring, energetic, interested teacher-types. They give out ribbons to everyone who participates, and I often find that sort of thing dopey, but not this time: Kudos to all, teachers, students, coaches, everyone.

Seattle Parent said...

From Dora's link also:

"West Seattle High School Votes “No Confidence” on the Performance of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson
June 21, 2010 •
That makes the tenth school so far whose teachers have voted “No Confidence”.
The vote was out of 42 ballots turned in, 4 voted to abstain, 3 voted “confidence” in the superintendent and 35 voted “No confidence” in the superintendent.
Maybe the school board will start getting the hint soon that our supe is not measuring up."

Dora- This article is missing some key information- There are 90 SEA represented staff at WSHS, so only 35 voting "No Confidence" is really a stretch for the SEA to call that a proper vote. The SEA needs to be above board in their reporting and include all the relevant information. If not, next time who will believe their reports?

dan dempsey said...

Seattle Parent,

You are then concluding that 42 out of 90 voted. That is about what happens in building elections. Lots of folks never vote and often never look. This is a direct consequence of inadequate leadership and poor communication both at the SPS district and SEA union level.

Union leadership has their own agenda that is often completely out of sync with the members.

Take a look at how Glen Bafia became executive director of the SEA. After that even more folks began just dumping every ballot.

My wife is a building Rep. in CPSD and attended WEA annual convention in Spokane ... there is a lot not to like about WEA as well. Beginning with how RttT was handled by WEA and I do mean "handled".

Please clarify your point about the WSHS "No Confidence" vote. All eligible voters received ballots and 42 were returned. So what is the point you are attempting to make?

If your 90 staff eligible is correct then

Returned: 46.7%
Abstained: 9.5% of ballots returned
Confidence in MGJ: 7.1%
No Confidence: 35/42 = 83.3%

=================
I am totally lost by this statement of yours:
"The SEA needs to be above board in their reporting and include all the relevant information."

dan dempsey said...


It seems that SEA central reports essentially nothing.
School representatives are sending results of voting to SEA and then SEA reports nothing. {What schools?? What results??} The Union President Olga Addae speaks at school board meetings and often three minutes later one wonders "What was her point?"


===================
Seattle Education Association, June 21, 2010

Press Release

With the growing number of schools taking no confidence votes in Seattle Public Schools’ {What schools?? What results??} Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson, over one hundred elected association representatives for the Seattle Education Association (SEA) debated the merits of taking a no confidence vote as a body at their monthly business meeting tonight.

The SEA representatives decided to postpone a vote of no confidence until they hold an SEA General Membership meeting at the start of the school year. The general membership meeting will be held to ratify or reject a tentative negotiated agreement.

SEA President, Olga Addae stated, “The representatives decided they wanted to see how the superintendent manages the negotiation process this summer. They also want to have more of our members involved in the decision of whether we support the superintendent or if we have no confidence in her.”

The association representatives did vote to recommend to the school board that they not extend the superintendent’s contract at this time. The members felt that just as they are being held accountable to show growth when their performance needs improvement, the superintendent should prove that she can make significant improvement in the areas that the school board has identified prior to another year extension in her contract. “Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson currently has a contract until 2012, over two years from today. Our representatives felt the school board can wait until improvement is made before guaranteeing her another year on the job,” Addae said.

==================================

Really WHAT an Absolutely PATHETIC PRESS RELEASE....

"With the growing number of schools taking no confidence votes in Seattle Public Schools’" MGJ

It should have read:
"With the growing number of schools voting NO CONFIDENCE in Seattle Public Schools’" MGJ

Taking a vote of no confidence indicates nothing about the results of a vote ..... another pointless inadequate report from SEA ... just goes to show what $70+ per month in dues buys members.

SP,

You said: "... is really a stretch for the SEA to call that a proper vote. The SEA needs to be above board in their reporting."

I can't even see that SEA is doing anything much in the way of reporting.

What blog readers are getting are basically leaks because the Union President and Executive Director do not believe in Reporting.

MathTeacher42 said...

What is up with "comment moderation" ?

It will kill participation, because why bother commenting when your comment goes into a memory hole?

IF there are people causing problems of some sort, deal with them ?? ;)

BMM

MathTeacher42 said...

Seattle Parent -

Various school staffs have been having their own votes.

NOT all 90 staff at WSHS are SEA, NOT all staff at any school are SEA.

I would recommend that people call their votes straw polls, NOT official staff votes, NOT SEA votes unless it is in fact an offical SEA or staff vote.

And after whatever kind of vote 1 has, who do we tell? As it turns out, right now, in 2010, if you want to disseminate information the blogs are the fastest way because those in charge of official channels ______________ ... ???

Can YOU fill in the blanks?

Finally - I've had various employees tell me they support the superintendent. GREAT!

Have your own straw poll! Have your own SEA vote! Send an email to KIRO or a poster to KOMO! NO ONE is has limits from having votes on anything, except, there are the limits on your time, and the the very real limit of who is interested enough to help you.

BM.

Melissa Westbrook said...

WSNorth, saw this at the West Seattle blog. Denny won the district math competition and for the SECOND year. Good for them!

Math Teacher 42, I'm interested to learn that there are teachers who support the Superintendent. I know you can't say what school (can you?) but could you tell us what they said they supported? Initiatives, professional attitude, etc.? I am truly interested because I yet to hear anyone, parent or staff, articulate what it is they favor.

zb said...

" I am truly interested because I yet to hear anyone, parent or staff, articulate what it is they favor."

I like the new student assignment plan, and I think that she pushed it through. I know a lot of parents don't like it, and don't like that it was pushed through. But, I think that it was necessary, and that any big change was going to have objections, and I like that it happen in forever-process-seattle.

I also know that people complain about combining programs to make schools statistically "better" (i.e. moving APP to TM to "improve" the school). But, I think that mixing up SES populations is a necessary part of school improvement (not enough, but part), and progress has been made under that premise under the superintendent.

I also know that some of these things are actively unpopular on this blog, so my liking that she's done them is a negative for other parents.

So, what *don't* I like about Goodloe? I'm concerned about the central administration/local school battles, including for funding. I'm concerned about the relationships between the teachers and the administration. I would like to see her embrace communication (for example, this blog, and not hope that the discussions will go away if she ignores them).

I approve of the APP split, but now wonder why the North APP couldn't have been moved north (to Sand Point for example, which would have then become a viable school).

But, that points out the problem of listening to a selective subsample of parents -- there can be things that are wildly unpopular with some sets of parents, while their neutral, or actually popular with others. I don't know that Goodloe has a good take on what the families (and children want), but I know that a group of north end parents (my subsample) or active bloggers are also likely to miss the state of everyone's needs.

Rosie said...

I favor the decisive leadership. I favor the flat-out rejection of the "New England Town Meeting" style of governance, which takes way too much time and allows undue influence of those whose lives allow them the luxury of time to attend endless meetings. I like the courage to say (indirectly) that parents don't know what's best for the entire District (though they may well know what's best for their own child), and we shouldn't let them control the process -- in short, her flat out rejection of the dreaded Seattle Process.

What I don't like? She may be the worst communicator in such a high office I've ever seen. I've seen her be downright rude in ways that suggest a lack of knowledge of how social interactions are supposed to work. Sometimes I try to convince myself she has some Apsergers tendencies, because then I could overlook her complete ineptness at dealing with groups of people. She hurts herself immeasurably by failing to take hte steps to overcome this.

zb said...

Oh, and I think the SpEd situation is being handled badly. I think it's a difficult issue and that I don't know very much about it. But, I think the drive towards inclusion (good) but with no support (bad) is a recipe for serious disaster. Nothing I've heard from the administration suggests to me that they have a plan better than crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.

southmom said...

Okay, what I DON'T like about the super is the SAP. Forcing my child to attend the worst-performing middle school and high school in the city with just a fraction of the activities - such as superior music, etc. - strikes me as incredibly unfair and inequitable. And did I mention the discipline rates? How about fixing the schools, than forcing kids to go there? Making such decisions, rather than showing leadership, is profoundly wrong, in the opinion of many southend parents. And did I also mention how unfair it is that your child can be an advanced learner in one area, such as language, but gets nada in terms of challenging learning, because they're average in math? Super, just super.

Rosie said...

I, too like the new SAP. Because it demonstrated her willingness to place the needs of the lower income/less able to work the system child over the needs of kids like mine who have parents with the time and skill to work the system.

Charlie Mas said...

I like a lot of the New Student Assignment Plan, but what parts of it are attributable to the superintendent and her staff and what parts are attributable to the previous Board?

I like the assurance of assignment to a known near-by school. That was a decision made by the previous Board.

I like that choice was preserved. That was a decision made by the previous Board.

That's about all I like about it.

Here's what I don't like:
I don't like that it was two years late. For all of the talk about the superintendent "pushing it through", the truth is that she was supposed to have done it two years earlier.

I don't like the utter failure of the Southeast Initiative. That was part of the New Student Assignment Plan. The idea, which was great, was from the community, through Tracy Libros, and adopted by the previous Board. The Superintendent totally failed to implement. She abandoned the project from the start. Better work here would have addressed southmom's concern.

I don't like the program placement that came with it. The middle school APP split was good and necessary. The elementary APP split was necessary but was botched. Of course the north-end program should be in the north-end. The choice of Thurgood Marshall as the south-end location is questionable. The choice of Hawthorne and Muir as Spectrum sites was dreadful. Those were the superintendent's decisions.

The decision to make language immersion and Montessori programs attendance area programs is a disaster. It runs directly counter to the stated goal of more equitable access to programs. That was the superintendent's decision.

Most of the credit that the superintendent gets for the New Student Assignment Plan is undeserved. She didn't push it - she delayed it. She didn't design the parts that are good - the previous Board did. She failed to make required improvements in south-end schools - and failed to fulfill the accountability requirements. She made some dreadful program placement decisions and has failed to provide any rationale for them.

No, she didn't do a good job with the New Student Assignment Plan at all. She botched it.

Lori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rabbit said...

"Does that sound like our Sup? Increasing her own budget while the rest of the district suffers? Making a higher salary than the Governor AND getting a $700/month car allowance while teachers are getting RIF'd? Taking a bonus for achieving only 4 or 5 outcomes and feeling like she truly deserved it? I'm sure we could all come up with a lot more examples."

Actually, it sounds more like our school board. It is they who approved and allowed all of these things to happen.

Rosie said...

I thought we were applying a 'buck stops here" approach. Charlie, though, seems to be applying a different standard -- more like "blame anything bad on her and attribute any success to someone else." You can't have it both ways. Either she gets all the credit and all the blame, or the Board, staff and superintendent share it.

Sorry to have caused people to start pop-psychologizing. I should have just commented on my observations, not pretended I had any ability to speculate why. I was trying to be offhand, but I failed.

Maureen said...

Re. Elementary Survey: Didn't the HS Family Survey have the same problem (telling people they already did it), and they had to take it offline and start over? It was mentioned in an earlier thread. We also decided there that they can identify which school your kid is at since there is a code attached to your reply from your email and they ask what grade your kid is in (unless you have twins at two dift schools).

dan dempsey said...

Rosie,

It seems that Charlie took the time to determine where decisions and processes originated and then attempted to assign accountability appropriately based on available evidence.

On numerous occasions the 2007 school board, which is still our current school board as the same "Four" 2007 voter elected Directors dominate every decision, have failed to use evidence in decision making. This was also true to a lesser extent of previous boards.

I do appreciate Charlie taking the time to analyze what is happening as best he can. Perhaps you would like to respond to his analysis with more specificity.

I do think that somethings are definitely Superintendent driven, with the board just "rubber-stamping". The most blatant of these would be "Cleveland NTN contract" of 2-3-2010 where the "four" voted with the Superintendent's recommendation and failed to read the contract.

This Cleveland NTN seemed to be an integral part of the NSAP according to Director Maier's comments on 2-3-2010, when he voted for the contract he failed to read because it was about "Project Based Learning" and that was good enough for his vote. {How much more "Arbitrary and Capricious" does it get than that?}

Charlie Mas said...

Rosie, by my reckoning the superintendent does get both the credit and the blame for actions by her and her staff, but she gets neither credit nor blame for actions by the Board. "The Buck Stops Here" only works for things that flow up, not down.

So, my boss gets credit (and blame) for my work, but I don't get credit (or blame) for my boss's work.

In the case of the New Student Assignment Plan, the good parts, the assurance of assignment to a pre-determined nearby school, the timeline, and the call for improvements at scouth-end schools, were the Board's. The superintendent does not get credit for those.

She takes the blame for the delay, for the failure of the Southeast Initiative, for the program placement decisions, and for the decision not to open up language immersion and Montessori programs to more equitable access.

I've thought about it and I think it's fair. If you disagree, let me know where I have assigned blame to her that should have gone to the Board or assigned credit to others that should have gone to her.

Yes, I know that the Board allowed her to make all of the mistakes, but that doesn't make them the Board's mistakes. The Board's mistake is to believe that they work for her rather than the other way around.

southmom said...

Yes, I totally don't get the thing about language immersion/Montessori, etc. They are terrific, but they're certainly not for every child. And the families who want them should have access, in every part of the district. For years, I thought it was so unfair that the John Stanford School had language immersion and the southend had nothing. Now, of course, Beacon Hill, and only those that live directly around that school can go. How did that improve things for the majority of families in South Seattle?

Dora Taylor said...

Seattle Parent,I was posting a news release not a commentary.

You can make of it what you want.

Dora Taylor said...

I have been asked to post an update on Robert Bobb, the man with the two first names, who is on on the Broad's payroll and as Emergency Financial Manager of the Detroit Public School system, took it upon himself to change the curriculum and fire principals without consulting with the school board.

Kind of sounds familiar. Ignore the real stakeholders in a community and just do the bidding of the Broad.

Anyway, here is the post that I updated this week at:
http://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/putting-two-and-two-together-in-detroit/

Robert Bobb, The Sad Saga Continues
June 19, 2010

I’ve been following the story of Detroit School Chief and Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb who was discovered receiving money from the Broad Foundation.

The Detroit Public School Board unanimously voted to file a lawsuit against Mr. Bobb stating that a conflict of interest had developed by him receiving those funds.

Since then it has been established that Bobb cooperated with the Broad Foundation and “charter school backers to draft a plan that calls for a mayoral takeover, and replacing traditional schools with charter schools.”

The school board also contends that Bobb, as Emergency Financial Manager, over stepped his bounds by closing schools and firing principals. The worst of it is that the school board members found out that he was firing the principals after the fact, from the newspaper! He had never spoken to them about it. This is the Broad’s method seen at its’ extreme. Just go in with the privatization agenda and keep a deaf ear to all the real stakeholders in the community, the people who live there.

I keep wondering why our Seattle school board can’t put two and two together and come up with the same conclusion about our superintendent.

Update: Detroit News: Foes of Mayoral Control of Detroit Public Schools Plans Rally.

Update: June 19, 2010

Posted by Danny Weil of the Daily Censored.

Facing what could be the end of is career, Robert Bobb, serial public school closer takes the witness stand for the third day this Friday in where? Detroit

Facing the possible end of his career in DPS, Bobb will be on the stand again today (Friday) at 2:00 pm for the third day.

Judge Baxter’s courtroom is room 1421 of the Coleman A. Young Center (City County Building) in Detroit, Michigan.

Open to the public!

excerpt from www.detnews.com coverage of Thursday’s court hearing, which got heated:

Bobb’s attorney Clark, representing the attorney general’s office, had been questioning Bobb on the stand when Baxter interjected with a series of pointed questions for the emergency financial manager.

She asked him whether he understands city residents voted to have the school district governed by a locally elected school board. Bobb agreed.

If the voters determined the school board should provide an academic plan, “how do you override that,” Baxter asked.
Bobb reiterated he thought he was working toward an agreement with the board to jointly develop an academic plan.

Bobb acknowledged academics and finances are two separate disciplines.

Why then would an emergency financial manager write an academic plan? she asked.

“Because it provides a road map for where we need to go as a school district,” Bobb replied.
Baxter continued to probe. How do the voters get their choice for an elected school board “if you are making all the decisions and you only talk to your people and you don’t talk to the board’s people?”
Bobb paused and Baxter rephrased.

“You have the power to implement the (academic) plan, yes?”

“Yes,” Bobb replied.

“Do you have the right?” she asked.

“I believe I had the right as well,” Bobb said.

After the series of questions, Baxter offered her thoughts on his relationship with the board.

“Did you ever listen to them? I think you have a duty to listen.”

Earlier in his testimony, Bobb was peppered with questions by the board attorney George Washington, of BAMN.

(Continued below)

Dora Taylor said...

(The Sad Saga Continues, Part 2)

Bobb said he doesn’t believe closing 30 Detroit Public Schools will put students at risk academically, though he acknowledged he has not studied the impact of past closings on student achievement.

Bobb also defended his model to combine elementary and middle schools into one preschool through eighth-grade campus, also saying he believes the format will not hinder academic achievement of district students.

Washington prodded him that closing so many schools may adversely affect students and may not improve finances if parents don’t embrace the Pre-K-8 school merger model and send their students elsewhere — at a cost to DPS of about $10,000 per student.
Bobb defended his plan, saying the Pre-K-8 model was in Detroit before he was appointed emergency financial manager in March 2009 and the closings will save the district money.

“Aren’t you presiding over the destruction of Detroit Public Schools?” attorney George Washington, for BAMN, asked Bobb in his final question.

“Absolutely not,” Bobb retorted.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not going to dissect the Superintendent (except to say I'm pretty sure she doesn't have Asperger's - in fact, I'm sure).

Look, I get the "Seattle Way" can get tiring. But Rosie you wrote this:

"I favor the flat-out rejection of the "New England Town Meeting" style of governance, which takes way too much time and allows undue influence of those whose lives allow them the luxury of time to attend endless meetings. I like the courage to say (indirectly) that parents don't know what's best for the entire District (though they may well know what's best for their own child), and we shouldn't let them control the process -- in short, her flat out rejection of the dreaded Seattle Process."

Okay, one, we live in this town and this is how we have chosen to carry out our political process. That the Superintendent came to town and went a "not for me" attitude is of no consequence. She can't wish it away with a wave of her hand. She certainly doesn't have to have endless meetings (and clearly, she doesn't) but yes, public process matters.

Two, I sense, no I believe, there is some real dismissal from you of those of us who go to meetings and keep up. A luxury of time? I wonder who has that. That I and others decide that it matters that someone go to these meetings and keep a public record of what is said so that other parents will know what is happening in our district seems valuable to me. Obviously the information we obtain at the meetings wouldn't be of interest to you so why read this blog? Because much of what is discussed here happens at meetings.

Three, I don't think all parents think only of their children. I have met many, many parents who are thinking of a program or a group of children, not just their child. It makes it very easy - as the Superintendent does - to dismiss parents by saying they can't be objective because they always are thinking only of their own child. Funny how the Superintendent just recently said that she gets how personal it is to parents (she was referring to Special Ed).

hschinske said...

http://www.pr-inside.com/ivar-s-and-kidd-valley-name-region-s-r1960729.htm

Ivar’s and Kidd Valley Name Region’s Teachers of the Year

© Business Wire 2010
2010-06-21 20:47:01 -

The essays streamed in by the hundreds, thanks to the enthusiasm of K-8 Western Washington students lauding their teachers during Ivar’s and Kidd Valley Teacher of the Year contests, held in honor of May’s National Teacher Appreciation Month. In the end, 6th and 8th grade teacher APP (Assessing Pupils Progress) science teacher Darrel Tanaka of Hamilton International Middle School in
Seattle cinched the Ivar’s Teacher of the Year Grand Prize, and Lake Steven’s 3rd and 4th grade teacher Darlene Moe of Hillcrest Elementary took the Kidd Valley Teacher of the Year Grand Prize. Both were honored in surprise classroom and school assembly today, respectively.

Tanaka was nominated by students from his 6th & 8th grade APP science classes. They cited their teacher for making learning fun, yet challenging and commended him for his inquisitive, open-minded and interactive approach. Students also mentioned that he coordinated both the “Science Night” and “Science Fair” as well as gathering real scientists to “help get kids psyched” about the subject.

Moe, nominated by 3rd grader Jody Keagle, stood out due to the fundraisers and extra field trips that her class took part in. Keagle credited Moe for writing a funding grant so ten classes could visit a retirement center. She also submitted students’ projects for writing contests and entered the school into a green/environmental challenge.

As Grand Prize winners, Tanaka and Moe each received a $500 giant check (double from last year’s $250 prize) redeemable for a gift certificate toward school supplies. An Ivar’s clam chowder party, held Friday with a visit from the Ivar’s Dancing Clam, went to Tanaka’s classes for nominating him. Moe’s class enjoyed a Kidd Valley burger party, thanks to Keagle’s nomination. The teachers also received commemorative plaques.

Ivar’s and Kidd Valley also honored four First Prize and 30 Second Prize winners, collectively.

Four First Prize Winners (two each from Ivar’s and Kidd Valley) received a $150 gift certificate toward school supplies.

- Ivar’s— Michael McCauley, 2nd Grade, Fairwood Elementary, Kent
- Ivar’s— Patrick Reardon, 4th /5th /6th Grade, Shorewood Elementary, Highline
- Kidd Valley— Jane Perez, 3rd Grade, Puesta del Sol Elementary, Bellevue
- Kidd Valley— Alec Wilmart, 7th /8th Grade, Kellogg Middle School, Shoreline

30 Second Prize Winners (15 each from Ivar’s and Kidd Valley) were awarded a $25 gift card good at all Ivar’s full-service, Seafood Bar and Fish Bar locations as well as Kidd Valley locations.

[more at link]

wsnorth said...

Rosie said...
I, too like the new SAP.... are you being sarcastic or serious?

The new SAP is without a doubt a "rich get richer and poor get poorer" scheme. Those who can buy a house in a neighborhood with "good" schools win! Those with a stay at home spouse who can drive to an alt or distant school win! Those who can afford to fund basic necessities via the PTA, take paid time off to volunteer, coach their kids into APP or Spectrum win! Those who can lobby the district too open schools win! The rest get gerrymandered districts, segregated schools, and portables.

Rabbit said...

Wait a minute wsnorth, that's not fair. Every cluster has alt schools and if you choose one within your cluster you get transportation. The dreaded south end has great alternative choices including a language immersion school, a Montessori school, ORCA K-8, New School, and STEM. Not to mention Franklin which seems to be a pretty decent traditional high school. And the APP south program too. And, no you can't coach your kids into APP or even prep them - it's an IQ test remember.

And I'm not sure what you're talking about parents lobbying to open new schools. The district is opening new schools in south Seattle, north Seattle, North East Seattle, and Central Seattle (QA). Seems pretty fair and even handed to me.

Rosie said...

Melissa,

Well, actually I am not dismissive of people who have the time and choose to spend it attending meetings. It's helpful to those of us who can't. I attend and report on other things - -we all have bandwidth issues, and I'm glad there's a mix of people who are interested in and keeping up on different organizations. I do think, though, that the fact that the coincidence that a small group of active people share a point of view does not allow the conclusion that everyone thinks that way. Nor do non-rigorous polls create such consensus.

And you're right, I do read this blog regularly, even though the polemics often make me cringe, because equally as regularly information is posted here first.

But I stick by my criticism of the "Seattle/New England Town Hall Meeting" style of governance that you prefer. It's inefficient, and I see no evidence that it produces better results. I'm not sure "we" like it so much. We just elected a mayor who is not such a fan of it, for example.

Of course people can think beyond their own children, but equally true is the fact that our vision is limited by the blinders we all wear. I have more faith in decisions/recommendations from people who don't have the blinders of "wanting to do best by my kid," and instead have been hired to keep the big picture in mind.

SSD is an extremely complex system. It takes years of experience within that system to begin to understand how one area impacts another, and to have a better than average shot at understanding what consequences might flow from an action in one part of that system. I trust those who have that experience, developed in our school system or another complex urban (or at least large) system. Parents just don't. They know a lot about several schools. But maybe not as much as they think they do.

For example, I've been an active parent at the same school for 9 years, and still learn new and significant things about the school every time I get involved in a new way.

I'll end by saying that I still disagree with Charlie's allocation of what the Sup is and isn't responsible for,but I have evening commitments and can't comment further.

zb said...

"I do think, though, that the fact that the coincidence that a small group of active people share a point of view does not allow the conclusion that everyone thinks that way. "

I too believe this, even though I value this blog, and those who spend the time at school board meetings, analyzing central office funds, and sending public records requests and all the other work people here do in support of their schools.

I'm not at all being sarcastic when I say that I like the new student assignment plan. I like its predictability, and I had never regarded the escape hatch of "choice" for a privileged few as a solution to the woes of the SE side. I've analyzed the data, and there's no question that people who leave low SES schools are, as a whole, leaving for higher SES schools, and, further more, are higher SES themselves (as measured by FRL statistics). I believe the old SAP, applied without the racial tie-breaker, was progressively increasing the SES and racial segregation in Seattle's schools. So, I *like* the new SAP, with no sarcasm at all.

I am concerned about the poor schools in SE Seattle, and disappointed about the lack of clear initiatives to improve them. But I never saw the opportunity for a priveleged few to escape those schools as a solution for anyone except those few. I understand the frustration among the families who have had their personal choices diminished, but I believe the new SAP is for the good of the many.

And, I don't think any person could do the job of superintendent to the liking of the nattering nabobs. I like hearing about the specific instances in which there's been management failures, but the general lack of confidence, the calls for removal, I dismiss as being useless, 'cause I don't see the alternative. The last superintendent was drummed out of office, and the previous one died (establishing a bit of a mystique, though I know many criticize him as well). I'm unaware of any major city that likes its superintendent, and "we" don't like any other city's superintendent.

zb said...

PS: How and when did Goodloe delay the new SAP?

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Perhaps this has been covered elsewhere, but I'd like to point out a couple things about the district's bargaining team.

First, Phil Brockman (former Ballard principal) is a member. No big deal--I just thought it was interesting.

What is a big deal is that Lizanne Lyons, the lead bargainer, has two assistants whose salaries are paid for by Alliance for Education: Eileen Norton and Kate Destler.

In effect, Alliance for Education is now a paid party to the bargaining process.

Rabbit said...

"I am concerned about the poor schools in SE Seattle, and disappointed about the lack of clear initiatives to improve them."

In my opinion there has been a lot of progress and improvement in SE schools. It's puzzling to me that nobody ever acknowledges that.

Here are a few things that have happened over the past 5 years or so:

Graham Hill added Montessori.

Cleveland was closed and re-opened STEM as a core24 college prep school.

The New School was created and has steadily been growing to K-8.

ORCA moved and grew from a k-5 to k-8

Beacon Hill has been re-invented into a International/language immersion school.

Thurgood Marshall added APP and ALO.

There was the SE initiative that poured money into south end schools, extending the school day, adding extra busing, and more advanced level classes.

The way I see it there really has been a lot of progress in south end schools. Is it enough? No, not nearly. But it is progress and that should be acknowledged.

Syd said...

I live in the SE. Yes we have some alternative schools. However, everyone can't fit into them. And we don't have a have the neighborhood schools the north end has. That is just a fact. You can point to Montessori (we didn't get in), you can point to Orca (we did not get in), you can point to Beacon Hill International program (again, we did not get in). Ditto for New School.

Come on down, and take a look. I have traveled to north end neighborhood schools (in a vain hope for something better). How many people from the north end of town tour the south end schools? How many request the privilege of driving their child across town twice a day to attend one of the south end neighborhood schools?

If the SAP had come with a sweetener, I might be a little more on board. If every school was a great school. If ALO actually meant something.

And for the record, I prefer to have a say, for as many people who want to to have a say, than to let someone decide what is best for me. It is democracy. Well, actually it is a republic...I'll take it.

I get it that it is a hard job to be the super. That is why they make the big bucks. For that much money, I want a real charmer, someone with a brain, with experience, with a plan that they feel so comfortable with they are willing to talk about it.

Sahila said...

Please take the time to read this analysis of what is going on in 'public' education around this country... and its happening here in Seattle...

http://www.truth-out.org/chartering-disaster-why-duncans-corporate-based-schools-cant-deliver-education-that-matters60553#comment-201717

Randy Dorn did not want to sign on to the last education reform legislation because he didnt think it went far enough - he wanted that piece of legislation to allow charter schools in Washington...

Rumour has it that legislation allowing charters will be introduced in the next legislative session, as part of the 'requirement' for getting Race to the Top funds...

zb said...

Thanks Rabbit, for the list. I do agree that some progress has been made.

Syd -- do you have some suggestions about what the district can do for the SE schools for which we should be advocating? The district can't change the population that attends them. But what changes would you like to see?

artemis said...

Sad news. SEA Vice President Brian Lindquist passed away from cancer, today I think.

udubgrad said...

OMG: Thank you "LA Teacher Warehouse" regarding the district having 2 bargaining assistants paid for by the Alliance4Ed. Glenn Bafia, head bargainer for SEA, coincidentally also sits on the Alliance4Ed Financial Task Force. Imagine him approving money to be spent to defeat his own bargaining team. Who does he represent? Can SEA members get a fair bargain? Is this a breach of the duty of fair representation?

Rabbit said...

"We have alternative schools, However, everyone can't fit into them. And we don't have a have the neighborhood schools the north end has."

Really? Aren't Graham Hill, Thurgood Marshal, and Beacon Hill neighborhood schools? They look pretty good. And, aren't Kimball and Maple, two other neighborhood schools doing very well too?

And, yes, I do understand that some SE neighborhood schools aren't great, but just know that some north end schools aren't great either. Northgate is one of the lowest performing schools in the district, and Olympic Hills is close behind it.

Syd, what would you like to see happen in struggling SE neighborhood schools like Emerson, Dearborn Park, etc?

Erin said...

Re: Elementary Survey

I took the elementary survey by phone. It asked only about the school, the principal, and the teachers. The questions were phrased so that the answers were only about the school or principal. And was on a five point scale (strongly agree - strongly disagree).
Questions like:

*Your school principal adequately notifies you of all meetings.

*Your teachers care about all students equally.

*Your school principal provides appropriate resources for a well rounded education.

*Your school/principal provides sufficient access to art, health and fitness, and library services.


If you answered in the negative on anything, it was obvious that you were saying the principal or teachers don't do a good job. They survey completely ignored instructional support via PTA dollars or that Central Admin bears responsibility in allocation of resources.
I love our elementary school community, and we work really, really hard to provide resources to all students. The survey did not collect my opinion on the district, school funding, or even building issues. And, honestly, I felt like they were taking credit for the hard work the PTA does in funding instructional support, which p**sed me off.

wsnorth said...

Rabbit and others, I hope the SE initiative is working, and hope to see RBHS enrollment numbers and Aki Kurose test scores increasing soon!

I am a total neighborhood school fan, and my neighborhood got totally screwed by NSAP. In West Seattle we had two schools close, with students displaced to added portables at other schools. Our only alt school (no doubt needing a new building) displaced the only neighborhood school in its area for miles. No Montessori. Our International Elementary is a joke and is not even really in West Seattle! They assigned more kids to a failing school seemingly on purpose (with no program change or even hope of improvement).

According to district info, only three new elementary schools are opening in what the district (and most people) would consider "North" Seattle.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/m_schools/index.dxml#new

I have high hopes for STEM, but it hardly counts as an "opening" in my opinion.

Even the "South" APP got the shaft, the "North" APP kept the "proven" school - oddly - South of the ship canal and the "South" APP went even deeper South, to forge new ground.

I really do hope good things are happening in the SE, but I would wager people who can will vote with their feet and move or drive their kids to areas with better schools, now that they have some "guarantee" of getting in.

Syd said...

I suppose I want what everyone wants. The ability to serve the needs of all children in each school. My SIL reminded me that schools with children from high socioeconomic levels do the same thing the schools with a majority of low socioeconomic do - they teach to the level of the most children. So children who need more help academically in the schools with a majority of high achieving students often suffer, because no one is teaching to them, no one is focused on supporting them. Likewise high achieving children in schools focused on children with fewer advantages often do not receive the educational support the need.
I want more support for children in classrooms. I want small class sizes. I want plenty of support staff, in the school. I want to offer a variety of programs (art, music, physical education, dance, gardening, drama, chess) that support basic skills, so that we catch the spark of each child. I want ALO and Spectrum to mean something. I want kids who are struggling with basic skills to get one-on-one attention until they are no longer struggling. I don't want to be 43rd out of 50 states in funding for education.
You may say I am a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

Josh Hayes said...

Lots of good comments. I'm happy to see the exchange going on in civil terms. Hooray us!

I'd like to point out that "alt schools" is not a monolithic category. That is, access to a "local alt school" does not mean access to a desirable, useful alt school.

Some in the NE might regard having access to AS1 as a poor sop (both of my kids go there, so I'm obviously happy with it, but I can see why some might not be).

My own neighborhood, adjacent to North Seattle Community College, has but one "neighborhood" alt school: Salmon Bay. With a waitlist of staggering proportions. In reality, people north of the cut and west of I-5 have no alternative school access unless they get really lucky.

Alternative schools quite literally ARE the equivalent of charter schools in SPS, but without the corporations running them, and without the union-bashing which is so often part and parcel of charters. As such, they are anathema to the good doctor and those of her ilk, because they do not further her two main goals: privatizing public education, and demonizing unions.

And this is true even though (WV) I apparently live on jig st.

Syd said...

Oh, and Charlie, I sure wish before splitting APP, they had actually defined the program, followed the suggestions of the APP audit, and put some real thought into how to approach the split in terms of easing peoples transition and making geographic sense.

I am so happy that my 9th grader left before the split; they no longer offer math at either middle school at the level he was taking.

Rabbit said...

wsnorth, besides the three three new north end schools , the district is opening a tech school in QA, and Rainier View in SE Seattle.

Sorry to hear what's been going on in WS. I'm not so up to speed on that neighborhood, but it doesn't sound good. And now Ruth Medskar as principal at WSHS - that won't be a positive either.

Syd, the population at SE schools is not going to change in the near future. It will remain predominantly low SES families, and that will naturally affect the types of programs and services that those schools offer. Gardening may not be on the top of a struggling families wish list, but a full time school nurse may be.

Wishing for small class sizes, lots of extra support for all, and one on one attention for struggling students are things we all want to see, but with SPS's deficit and budget constraints, it is not going to happen any time in the near future. So, without changing the schools population, and realistically working within a schools budget, what can be done to improve more schools in SE Seattle?

Rabbit said...

Also of interest. I saw a show on Rocketship Charter school in San Jose, CA. It was quite interesting.

It is solely government funded. No private funding - at all.

They provide 100% organic lunches to their students, cooked fresh every day.

They offer struggling students 1 hour of one on one tutoring each day.

They pay their teachers 20% higher than neighboring schools in their districts - based on student gains.

They were the highest performing school in San Jose district in 2009, despite having one of the highest rates of FRL students.

Enrollment is by lottery, not application, interview, or performance.

Classroom teachers do a home visit for each student, contact each family at least 2 times per month, and have three formal conferences per year.

And they do it all for $500,000 less per year than other same size public schools in their district.

Very interesting.

Wonder if these types of innovative schools, or a variation of such, would work in SE Seattle? WS?

emeraldkity said...

I don't want to be 43rd out of 50 states in funding for education.

I must say- I do not define my need by comparing myself to others.
Does my 110 yr old 990sqft house fill my needs?
It does.

According to Digest of Ed Statistics for fiscal year 2009- Seattle spent more elsewhere than it did on instruction. $60,729,000 .00 more in fact.

I don't think giving SPS more money to spend on new material that need to be ripped out because of fumes, or on airfare to see how other districts do it across the country or even on evaluating new curriculum, when they are going to ignore the recommendations is going to move us forward.

Ben said...

Rabbit said "Thurgood Marshall added APP and ALO."

This is such a misleading statement. Thurgood Marshall's "addition" of APP contributed nothing to the non-APP population at Marshall. How does the school as a whole benefit by having APP—a separate program—housed in the same building? APP's existence at Marshall doesn't affect anything except for where the APP kids go to school. APP kids aren't magic talismans.

Also, you can call anything you like ALO.

dan dempsey said...

About being dismissive of meetings and the Seattle way ... how far does such thinking extend?

It seems to me that part of the process according to legislative LAW is:

#1 the public can submit evidence
#2 the School Board is required to give such evidence consideration

unfortunately #2 may not be happening

as #3 The School Board is unable to comply with RCW 28A 645.020 which requires the submission of the transcript of evidence considered within 20 days of the appeal of a decision. This transcript is to be "Certified Correct", which the Board is never able to accomplish.

Me I am a fan of #1, #2, and "Certified Correct" Transcript of evidence.

We still have action yet to be considered at the Supreme Court in regard to #1, #2, #3 ... NSAP, School Closures, NTN contract are all severely deficient from a legal standpoint. Same can be said of HS math adoption.

The public is entitled to be free from "Arbitrary & Capricious" decision making. The only way that happens is through the analysis of a "Certified Correct" Transcript of the evidence considered by the board.

The Superintendent and the School Board are dismissive of the law as well as the parents, children, and citizens.

Hope to get some action from Supreme Court soon on submissions done this week.
=================

I still find it unbelievable that the Superintendent is in favor of excluding evidence and "Four" school board members support excluding evidence as well. The board is considering extending the Superintendent's contract. ... huh???

WOWzers ... What way is it that MGJ practices? [My way or the Highway -- is my guess.]

Syd said...

Your spending says a lot about your priorities. Education should be a high priority.

I believe some comparisons are useful. Others are not. Do I need a mega house. No. Do we need children to be adequately supported educationally, yes.

Do I care if these are hard economic times. Certainly. Do I think we can reevaluate where we spend? Yes. For instance, I am not really interested in prisons for nonviolent offenses. I don't care to support those grownups at an expense many multiples of what we spend on education for each child.

SeattleMom said...

I would like to reiterate what Josh said: Alternative/option schools are very unevenly distributed in North Seattle. K-5 kids in the Whitman and Hamilton service areas combined (which consist of a total of 14 attendance area elementary schools) have one non-attendance area school they can apply to and receive busing to: Salmon Bay. In contrast, there are three non-attendance area schools in the Eckstein service area (which consists of 9 attendance area schools) that people can choose to go to and receive busing to: Thornton Creek, AS-1 and Jane Adams. That's an option to attendance area school ratio of 1/14 versus 3/9! What's the ratio in other parts of town?

In addition, Salmon Bay, as far as I understand, only has one half-day K and one K-1 class which makes for a pretty small K cohort. I feel that people in the Whitman and Hamilton service areas really don't have much to choose from if they don't want to attend their attendance area school.

emeraldkity said...

Alternative high schools I feel fill a need much more critical than K-8- if I was forced to split hairs.

How many alternative - NOT re-entry high schools do we have in the district?

Nova.
The Center School - possibly.

My daughter works at Metropolitian Learning center- a K-12 public school in Portland.
PDX has a TON of alternative choices for high school students-

California- spends even less than Wa does for education, but our friends & neighbors rented out their house and moved there last summer, despite having to come back here for work & medical care- because of smaller class sizes and better accountability.

They originally planned to come back- but they just put their house up for sale- I am sad/mad that they were forced to do so.

Rabbit said...
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Rabbit said...
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Rabbit said...

"How many alternative - NOT re-entry high schools do we have in the district? NOVA, Center- maybe?"

I think we could add STEM to that list too.

SPS has 8 traditional comprehensive high schools, and 3 non traditional high schools. That means 1/3 of our high schools are non traditional.

Do we need more? I'm not sure? Neither NOVA or STEM filled their incoming 9th grade class for the 2010/11 school year, and I don't think Center has a waitlist. Don't get me wrong, I think these schools are necessary and fill a void, but families are not banging down their doors to get in.

In addition to non traditional schools kids have many unique options and specialty focuses at traditional/comprehensive high schools too.

There is Bio tech at Ballard, IB at Sealth and Ingraham, Radio station and video production at Hale, drama at Roosevelt, Band at Garfield, and specialty academies like Finance at Franklin, Travel at Ingraham, and many more specialty academies scattered throughout our high schools all across the district.

And I'm not even including middle college, Interagency, Indian Heritage school, and the re-entry programs.

Megan Mc said...

Seattlemom,
I recommend writing to the school board and tracy libros about the lack of alt school choice w/ transportation for families in the whitman and hamilton attendance areas. I've been lobbying for them to expand the transportation for as1 (and really, the schools are close enough that they could share busses again if needs be) but have been shot down. Kay Smith Bloom and Sherry carr were the most receptive. I believe with salmon bay and tops moving to the new start times, that the increased transportation would be cost neutral because there are still more busses being used in tier 2 than tier 1.

agibean said...

Ben,

I know you won't agree with me and you probably don't even care that it matters to me, but I watched my APP 5th grader's promotion ceremony at Thurgood Marshall last week and one thing struck me about all 8 of the class speakers. There were children from all three of the classes-the two APP and the one gen. ed ones. And although they varied somewhatt in what they said, ALL of them mentioned one thing-that they'd enjoyed the opportunity to make new friends who didn't necessarily belong to their own groups (and no, they were not coached-they wrote these speeches themselves).

That's not nothing. It was important. And it wasn't just window dressing-I watched kids from all three groups playing together on the playground afterward-girls whispering in the far corners, boys playing soccer and basketball or just running around.

Mayeb, just maybe, at the WA Middle School and Garfield of the future, the kids WON'T be sitting at different tables staring at each other, as one less than encouraging WA Middle counselor warned us about. Maybe those gen ed kids who were friends with some APP kids will cross the cafeteria and talk to them instead.

The APP audit gets brought up often as a reason the program should not have been split or moved in with gen ed kids who are "have nots". Well, the APP audit ALSO talked about the program being less than welcoming for kids of color. Well, here you have APP kids actually ecountering a large such population and learning how to get to know them. And it helped.

Sure, there were some problems, and there were some unkind comments-likely on both sides. But there were barriers crossed-and I saw the results at that graduation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I do think, though, that the fact that the coincidence that a small group of active people share a point of view does not allow the conclusion that everyone thinks that way."

Do you read this blog much? Because we don't all have the same point of view. Charlie, me, and the few people who do attend the meetings certainly don't all share the same POV. We probably have a shared agreement over the management of the district but from there, we have many differences.

"We just elected a mayor who is not such a fan of it, for example."

What?" Mayor McGinn doesn't like the Seattle process? Maybe you missed his many, many Youth and Family meetings. That's looked a lot like what you would expect in Seattle.

"SSD is an extremely complex system. It takes years of experience within that system to begin to understand how one area impacts another, and to have a better than average shot at understanding what consequences might flow from an action in one part of that system. I trust those who have that experience, developed in our school system or another complex urban (or at least large) system. "

Yes, I know it is complex. But it has also been a largely silo-type of organization so if you believe there is an overarching vision, I would disagree. (Again, the Moss-Adams report if you don't believe me.) I find it amazing, in 2010, when I heard staff say they are doing certain things that any other organization has been doing for the last 20 years. Yes, we hire a staff of professionals to run the district but that the right hand knows what the left is doing, that we are nearly $500M in backlogged maintenance and that we can't even get a grant off on-time (and continue to assign partial blame to "technical" reasons) makes me a little less than impressed with the idea that the district knows best.

emeraldkity said...

Alternative is not a choice of academic focus- alternative is a method of delivery that engages the student with their own path at least as much or more than it is driven by district/state expectations.

High school students are more successful when they have "buy in" to their studies- and not limited by their previous experiences.


Portland with a city population of < Seattle and a student population greater than Seattle has more than 14 high schools. ( not including public schools in Portland that are part of another district- but including several K-12 schools)

Education Alternatives in Portland

Are the programs in Seattle driven by the communities/students or are they driven from the top?

Do we aim to expand and support choice or do we inflict restrictions on curriculum and assessment?

Rabbit said...
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Charlie Mas said...

The new Capacity Management Policy requires the superintendent to write an annual report on capacity, enrollment and demand. The first of them is due in the fall. If the process and the report are honest, then they cannot fail to acknowledge the need for additional K-8 alternative capacity in nearly every middle school service area. Only the McClure service area and the Eckstein service area have seats available in an alternative school serving grades K-5 or K-8. The Denny service area doesn't even have an alternative school. Every other service area has one, but it is full with a waitlist. Most of them have a waitlist at every grade.

An easy way to increase the alternative school capacity (or, in the District's language, the Option school capacity) would be to re-classify the language immersion programs and the Montessori programs as Option programs. That would have the added benefit of providing more equitable access to programs (a stated goal of the New Student Assignment Plan). Families living nearby will still have the advantage of being in the geographic zone.

Also due this fall is the Alternative School review or audit or inventory or whatever the heck they decide they want it to be. Who knows if they will even do it, what it will be, what it will say, or if they will use waiting for the results of the review as an excuse not to add to the capacity I can't help noting that they didn't need it to close alternative schools - Summit and the AAA - or to move alternative schools - the S.B.O.C. and the NOVA Project or to create a new alternative school - Queen Anne Elementary.

Rabbit said...
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Rabbit said...

"Are the programs in Seattle driven by the communities/students or are they driven from the top?"

Well lets see.....

NOVA, STEM and Center are healthy and thriving, but they are not filling to capacity and do not have waitlists. That means that all three of these schools are comfortably able to accommodate all of the kids that choose them - with a little bit of space left over to spare. They are indeed meeting community demand. Do we need more?

On the other hand comprehensive high schools like Garfield and Roosevelt that offer a lot of opportunity for advanced level course work and strong arts programs like band and drama have had, and continue to have huge waitlists. They don't come anywhere near close to accommodating all of the families that want into them.

If you really are in favor of high school offerings being driven by community demand, then you might want to advocate for a couple more Garfield's and Roosevelt's.

And I do agree with Charlie that there is high demand for "option" K-8's. We should definitely expand those offerings.

zb said...

"Wishing for small class sizes, lots of extra support for all, and one on one attention for struggling students are things we all want to see, but with SPS's deficit and budget constraints, it is not going to happen any time in the near future. So, without changing the schools population, and realistically working within a schools budget, what can be done to improve more schools in SE Seattle?"

I'm from NE, and I will voice an unpopular opinion. I think the district needs to make necessary resources available to SE schools that will not have them without district resources, even if it creates iniquity in district spending in SE compared to NE. I think our tax dollars need to go where they are needed, and if the needs are greater at Emerson, that they should get more money to address those needs (i.e. a school nurse and an arts program). If kids are coming into school needing nursing services, or breakfast, or a staff member who combs their hair in Emerson and NE, I think that district resources should provide those resources at Emerson. And, they should do so without stealing from the arts or music or other "extra" programs that an NE school can fund because it doesn't need to have a staff person to make sure a child has been sent to the classroom ready to learn, and because families can afford to give money to their schools. If the student population at Ranier Beach requires a full time security guard and the student population at another school doesn't, I think that should be provided, and not stolen from the AP program.

That's a price I'm willing to pay for what I got, which was a predictable, and acceptable neighborhood school.

zb said...

""I do think, though, that the fact that the coincidence that a small group of active people share a point of view does not allow the conclusion that everyone thinks that way.""

When I recopied this quote from Rosie (and I suspect, when she said it herself), it was not directed specifically at the bloggers here, who do indeed express a variety of opinions. I'm not accusing you of common group think. What I'm trying to say is that the feeligns and beliefs of those who speak (at meetings, at school board, on this blog, . . . .) do not necessarily represent the views of the majority of stakeholders in the Seattle school system. And, stakeholders, to me, is not just the parents and students currently in the school system. It includes all the members of our community.

reader said...

McClure service area may have a brand new "alternative" school for K-5, that almost nobody wants to attend. But, it has nothing for middle school students. People want alternative middle school choices... that are good, of course.

Rabbit said...
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Rosie said...

Melissa,

I sense, no, I believe, that I push your buttons pretty regularly. Your responses to me certainly are more harsh in tone to me than to others. (A comment I fully expect you to highlight and attempt to rebut. Please don't bother, it will only prove my point.) I have a tough skin, especially when it comes to debate, but I do worry that your strong reaction to me might be off-putting to other potential commenters. And like Josh, I like it when this blog engages in an actual civil debate.

WSNorth, I do, really, like the SAP. You may have noticed my comments that reflected how irate I was when a couple of north-end high schools managed to avoid the impacts of it this year. To my mind, implementing it fully, as soon as possible, is in everyone's best interest.

Similarly, I agree with zb that we need to be sending a disproportionately large amount of funds to the south end, even though that will mean that I, as a north end parent, will have to up my giving to my schools in order to pick up the slack. We're a community. We need to raise all boats, not just the ones our own kids are riding.

Rabbit said...

"I'm from NE, and I will voice an unpopular opinion. I think the district needs to make necessary resources available to SE schools that will not have them without district resources".

Low income schools get far more funding than middle class and affluent schools get. They receive hundreds of thousands of dollars of extra money via compensatory funding from the state and government, none of which middle class and affluent schools are eligible to receive. Plus for the past few years we have had the SE initiative which funneled millions of dollars to low income SE high schools.

The more middle class North end schools make up the difference by fundraising. North end high schools have foundations, and annual campaigns. We sell yearbooks for $100 a piece and charge our students $35 for a ticket to the school dance. And, for the most part, I have no problem with it - I'm happy to funnel extra funding to schools that need it most.

However, I'm not sure that money alone will solve all the woes and low performance of south end schools. I think to be truly successful a school needs far more than just dollars. It takes vision, innovation, community buy in, strong school leadership, and district support.

I often wonder why some south end schools do OK while others flop - when they get the same funding?

Franklin does fairly well by most accounts, while RBHS is the lowest performing HS in the district.

Maple does well serving a high rate of FRL students, but Emerson with the same population is one of the lowest performing in the district.

Kimball does well, Beacon Hill does well, Graham Hill does well, ORCA does well. They get the same funding as Dunlap, Brighton, and Emerson yet these schools perpetually struggle and are some of the lowest performing in the district.

We need to figure out why some schools do better than others? Then we need to give schools what they need to succeed - and that's not always a pile of money. Maybe it's just a matter of a strong principal and staff - that seemed to work well for Maple, and it didn't cost the district any more money? Maybe it's community outreach and buy in - some marketing? Maybe it's giving a school a new program like Montessori or language immersion - that seemed to work for Graham Hill and Beacon Hill - again no extra cost to the district?

I also think about New School. It is successful by most accounts. And yes it has plenty of extra private funding, but it also has an MOU with the district, strong oversight by a private party, a say in the hiring of principal and staff, community buy in (it's a choice school), strong principal, and unlimited district support (including a brand new building).

We need to explore all of this before we just blindly funnel more money to under performing schools.

We funneled millions into the south end via the SE initiative with very very little return. We shouldn't make that mistake again.

dan dempsey said...

Rabbit said:
"NOVA, STEM and Center are healthy and thriving, but they are not filling to capacity and do not have waitlists. "


So how can a school (STEM) that has yet to have opened be proclaimed healthy and thriving?

If this school really requires all students to take calculus as announced and continues with PBL in all classes, then that healthy and thriving analysis will need serious changing.

Seattle Parent said...

from the WS blog:
West Seattle schools: Highland Park Elementary principal leaves
June 22, 2010.
...she’s taken a new job as a principal in the Federal Way district, closer to her home.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I regularly challenge any and all statements that I confuse me or I have a hard time believing And Rosie, you have a thin skin if you think I am being harsh and uncivil. (That or we have different definitions for the words.)

owlhouse said...

I just read Tim Burgess' "City View" email. This week, he writes about schools, specifically disparity in graduation rates. He's alarmed, says we can't give up, embraces Obama's advocacy of ed reform. He reports:
"the City Council has started the process of renewing the Family and Education Levy in November 2011; together with the Mayor, we’ve appointed an expert citizen’s panel to craft the Levy proposal...we have two outstanding leaders co-chairing the citizen’s panel, Chris Korsmo and Kevin Washington"

He also notes viewing the "brilliant and provocative documentary" Waiting for Superman.

If you have thoughts for Council member Burgess, would like to invite him a school or community event, send him a note. I've found him fairly responsive in the past. tim.burgess@seattle.gov

Chris said...

Rosie, I have to disagree with your comment that there are gazillions of people out there with opinions not represented in this blog.

Most of the people I meet that don't read this blog get their info from the Seattle Times. Enough said. Most of the people who do, say "Oh, yeah!" meaning that they feel we've represented the issues fairly enough that they don't feel compelled to chime in.

Yes, there may be under-representation from the SE, but there is some, and as others have noted, a diversity of views. Disregarding activists because of the nebulous quiet majority is the oldest trick in the book, which doesn't make it valid.

Chris said...
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Chris said...
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Charlie Mas said...

The posts from Chris that were deleted were duplicates of his post of 5:03pm. He is not being censored.

I live in the Southeast, as do a number of other regular commentors on this blog, so I wouldn't worry about poor representation from there.

I also like the new student assignment plan. I think it needs some "tweaking". It needs a renewed effort to improve the unpopular attendance area schools. It needs the language immersion and Montessori programs to be made into Option programs instead of attendance area programs. The treatment of mobile families needs improvement. It needs some corrections in some program placements as well. I do, however, fully support the central idea by which every family is assured of access to a specific nearby school.

Finally, schools with high concentrations of FRE students should get additional funding. They would if the superintendent didn't withhold 30-40% of that money to re-allocate towards her pet projects.

zb said...

Chris -- do the "people that you meet" really constitute a cross section of the Seattle community? I know that's not true for me.

I agree that citing to a silent majority isn't meaningful (if they're silent they could believe anything in the world, and we don't particularly have the right to co-opt them to any particular view point). But, I'm not doing that.

Ben said...
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Ben said...

agibean — when I said "Thurgood Marshall's "addition" of APP contributed nothing to the non-APP population at Marshall. How does the school as a whole benefit by having APP—a separate program—housed in the same building?" I didn't mean what you seem to think I meant.

I didn't mean, "Nothing good could ever come of it," or "Friendships don't count as positive outcomes" or "getting to know people who are different from you is of no value."

I was referring to the claim that "adding" APP to Marshall was an example of something that was done to improve Marshall. I still say that adding an (academically) self-contained program has nothing to do with making Marshall a better school.

If you had asked parents of Marshall what improvements they would have liked to see at their school, I doubt they would have said, "I would like APP moved in to the school—my kid might make some new friends!"

Making new friends is wonderful. Forming strong social bonds with others (similar to you or different) is an important part of emotional growth. But it's disingenuous to claim that this means Marshall has been made a stronger, better, improved school.

StepJ said...

Seattle Citizen,

On a different thread you referenced an article about the State requiring Districts to collect ethnicity data for students.

I admit to not reading the article.

My educated guess (I do not know for certain) is that it is related to RTTT funds.

The Fed. Gov. requires companies that receive federal contracts in excess of 200k to form an Affirmative Action (AA) plan. An annual report needs to be submitted to the Feds. to show the race and gender of all current employees and as much of the information as possible for applicants. In instances where an employee will not voluntarily self-identify the company is to make a reasonable guess.

The report is to show the Feds. that your hires/employee population reflects your available hiring pool in regards to race and gender.

I'm not certain how this requirement might be applied to students. If the hiring pool for public schools is determined to be District boundaries vs. the state as a whole it could be a brand new can of worms for SPS.

The student population of SPS would need to reflect the available population of students in regards to race and gender.

It SPS could not adequately explain why its population percentages are not even close to the available hiring pool in Seattle they would face loss of funding, have to repay funding and/or fines.

Again, the above is an educated guess – I don’t know for certain. But it would be interesting if the District actually did need to care why parents opt. for private school/home schooling over public.

seattle citizen said...

zb,
the people Chris meets might not be representative of the city, but your argument seems to say that since we aren't representative of the city (and I think we are more representative than not, diverse views and all), then we shouldn't be listened to; in effect, that we're just talking to ourselves.

That may be, but I doubt it. I think people read this blog. Furthermore, just because a group of people choose to engage in this public forum doesn't mean they shouldn't because they're "not represantative.

This part of the thread began, I think, with someone saying that the Supe need not listen to this blog, or to people who go to meetings because they're "not representative." Does this mean the Supe shouldn't listen to anybody? The Board shouldn't? We should just let them do their job?

Well, no. The Board is OUR board; they represent us. Not just the "us" who gave them money to get their jobs, but the "us" who are their bosses, just as they are the Supe's boss.

So what if we're not completely representative? If we're not, then maybe some more people should get down there and have a voice. The Board and Supe SHOULD be listening to their constituents, Seattle Process and all, rather than to their handlers over at Gates, Broad, Alliance, NWEA et al. Or should we just shut up and let them do what they want?

Rosie, I think it was,k agreed that it takes years to become knowledgeable about the ways of public education (a good argument for promoting senior staff internally, by the way)The Supe has been here three years - she NEEDs people informing her from the community, and not just the 25 or signators on OSC, or their parent group, the Alliance, or ITS parent group, Seattle business and the usual suspects (Gates, Broad....you know the list)

WV suggests I get blent, which sounds dangerous

seattle citizen said...

Interesting point about ethnicities and fed hiring requirements, StepJ. I wasn't thinking of that aspect when I saw the article (it was a week or so ago: OSPI requring schools to GUESS ethincities if they are not known! ack!)
I was reacting to the need to identify children in little boxes generally. It serves to feed the standardization game, as out of such nonsense comes comparisons of "groups" that are, of course, arbitrary.

Rabbit said...

"I still say that adding an (academically) self-contained program has nothing to do with making Marshall a better school."

First, friendships aside, it is a huge positive to have 50% of your child's peer group be motivated, high achieving, students. It changes the environment, dynamic, culture, and offerings at a school. That would be a positive.

Second, while not all APP parents are affluent or even middle class, many are well educated, and willing to advocate on their children's, and schools behalf. They will fight for TM to offer more enrichment, art, recess, music, field trips, etc? And, when they advocate for those things the whole school benefits.


Third, APP parents are involved, they volunteer in the classrooms, drive on field trips, take positions on the PTSA and BLT, they arrange after school enrichment classes, etc, etc, etc. The more involved parents a school has the better. It's a win win for students, all students, and staff alike.

Lastly, APP parents are generally willing to support their schools financially. They donate as they can. That equals more fundraising dollars to be shared by all. And we all know that PTSA funds p/t librarians, art supplies, band teacher for 4th grade, field trips, camping, tutoring, scholarships, and a myriad of other enrichment and support services.

I'd say there are a lot of positives to adding APP to a school.

seattle citizen said...

Owlhouse writes:
"Tim Burgess [in his] "City View" email. writes about schools...disparity in graduation rates....[he]embraces Obama's advocacy of ed reform...Council has started the process of renewing the Family and Education Levy...appointed an expert citizen’s panel to craft the Levy proposal...we have two outstanding leaders co-chairing the citizen’s panel, Chris Korsmo and Kevin Washington" He also notes viewing the "brilliant and provocative documentary" Waiting for Superman."

Tim Burgess is the only politician to sign onto the "Our Schools Coaltion," along with five business groups and about 20 minority groups. As we all know by now, OSC was the creation of the Alliance, and is run by Strategies 360 (are they also running the "Burgess for ________" campaign?)

Chris Korsmo is the leader of LEV, also alligned with Alliance and OSC.

OSC is Broad/Gates creation, via the Alliance.

The superintendent, and Director DeBell, are also on the new city levy committee.

Someone earlier mentioned how the last step in transmorgifying public schools to privatized charters is to get the law changed. Here it comes. Write Burgess, tell your friends to write Burgess, write other city councilmembers...and tell them they are buying a pig in a poke.

Burgess, Alliance, LEV are piping Broad/Gates "reforms" via the co-option of the minority community with promises of....something. They hope, one supposes, to gain those communities' support in rule or law changes.

Tying it back to the requirement that we identify students by ehtinicity, none of this "reform" is possible without some sort of "statistics" that point to a "group" as being comparitively...what? less successful? Rather than looking at individual children, "reform" requires we group children ONLY for the purpose of showing some arbitrary disparity (arbitrary because these children are not JUST members of a "group," they are individuals with all sorts of other perinent factors, often with other ethncitities or background that is not counted if they don't check the box (or if someone doesn't check it for them, as the state is now asking schools to do.)

Perfect storm: Test company (oh, like NWEA, say) comes up with a test; test is used to racially categorize children; categories are used to claim need for "reform," (after, not incidentally, pointing to "teacher quality" as the reason all these arbitrarily categorized children are "failing"...on the test...)

Oh, here's the last kicker, not incidental: The new state checklist to identify students has broadened categories for "Asian" and others, but NOT for African Americans. So one still doesn't know if that means "generationally African American" or "African immigrant."

Curiouser and curiouser.

seattle citizen said...

[from Levy website Owlhouse provided. Note LEV/Alliance representation, among others. Care to do some research, anyone?"

The Levy Oversight Committee consists of twelve (12) members serving staggered three-year terms. They are:

Mayor Mike McGinn or designee
Tim Burgess, City Council
Michael DeBell, Seattle School Board
Maria Goodloe-Johnson, School Superintendent
Gaurab Bansal, citizen representative
Sandi Everlove, citizen representative
Lucy Gaskill-Gaddis, citizen representative
Chris Korsmo, citizen representative
David Okimoto, citizen representative
John Pehrson, citizen representative
Kevin Washington, citizen representative
Greg Wong, citizen representative

Levy Advisory Committee
...This committee shall develop a proposal for renewal of the Families and Education Levy, to be considered by the City Council on the 2011 ballot. The Advisory Committee shall propose at least one Levy renewal alternative at the current Levy funding level, plus inflation, and two other alternative proposals.

In developing goals, strategies and programs to recommend, the Advisory Committee shall consider a wide variety of approaches that promote academic excellence. The Advisory Committee shall also consider input gathered during the Mayor’s Youth and Families Initiative.

Chris Korsmo and Kevin Washington are co-chairs of the Levy Advisory Committee. The 12 additional members are:

Laura Davis-Brown, citizen representative
Eric Bruns, citizen representative
Sharon Cronin, citizen representative
Patrick D'Amelio, citizen representative
Brianna Dusseault, citizen representative
Ana Cristina Gonzalez, citizen representative
Saadia Hamid, citizen representative
Vu Le, citizen representative
Annie Lee, citizen representative
Tré Maxie, citizen representative
Jill Wakefield, citizen representative
Karen Yoshitomi, citizen representative

StepJ said...

Seattle Citizen,

I don't disagree.

I don't see the value of clumping students into buckets vs. seeing them as individuals. The Districts of Everett and Portland both provide positive examples of seeing students (and perhaps parents) as individuals vs. a part of the mob.

Thought it was interesting that if a District that does not value parent input actually needed to seek it -- gosh, what might happen?

Also might shed light on the downfall of seeking limited Fed. funds - as the strings attached -- rules that don't actually apply to the situation intended - will hog tie any good outcome intended.

seattle citizen said...

I'm going to go out on a limb, here, and suggest that many of the members of the two commmittees listed above are from the groups that signed onto Our Schools Coalition. I'd bet more than half.

THERE'S part of the quid pro quo: You agree to support this "survey" about teacher quality, and we'll give you a seat on the city's ed committee, where we'll form a block and ram through some good new-fashioned "reform."

Watch this committee carefully.

Meg said...

rabbit - I gotta disagree that having APP in the building is good for Thurgood Marshall's ALO/general ed program. In fact, I would say that it's exactly the opposite. The general ed program will lose a huge amount of Title I funding because APP is in the building.

It's a long-standing Title I rule that districts must stack-rank buildings by poverty level, not programs. By putting hlf of elementary APP in the building, the building FRL plummeted to below the (raised) threshold for schools to qualify for Title I funding. You would think that someone would have made sure that funding was protected for a program like Thurgood Marshall's ALO, with such a high % of FRL-eligible kids, even if it wasn't with Title money. But, no.

The central office - and the Superintendent - has taken the tack that the performance management money the school has been granted will "make up" for the lost Title I funds. Except... the roughly $240k of Title was pretty much just for the ~200 gen ed kids, and the $280k-ish of performance management is a) highly prescribed in its use and b) for the entire school of over 400 kids. That's not even counting the fact that the school, because of its Title status, received additional funding.

Sure, the PTA can provide music (for now, but fundraising was well below the need for enrichment programs to be sustainable), but they can't pay for lost math teachers, nursing, counseling, bilingual teachers, or before and after school tutoring. And that's not even counting smaller issues like field trip scholarships, free transportation for before and after school enrichment programming and even snacks.

The idea that the gen ed kids will benefit from APP being in the building is great. But it's not what is really happening. Thurgood Marshall's gen ed/ALO kids stand to have their education damaged because district administrators placed a demographically different program in the building without taking steps to protect the education of the vulnerable kids already in the building.

If I sound ticked, it's not at you.

Rabbit said...

Good point, Meg - and you don't sound ticked at all. I knew about the loss of Title I funds for the school and that is a big negative.

I'm not so sure though that a schools success is completely dependent on extra funding. I think that is but one piece of a much more complex puzzle.

Money helps for sure, but it can't buy a motivated peer group, it can't buy involved and engaged parents, it can't buy parent advocates, and it can't buy an environment and culture of success at a school.

So, it's a trade off.

Before the addition of APP TM was a school of predominantly low income, kids of color. Sure the school got title I funding but did that work? Was it enough? TM was one of the lower performing schools in the district.

With the addition of APP, there is the loss of title I funds, but the addition of all of the positive things I mentioned in my earlier post.

Not sure which scenario is the best? We'll have to wait a couple of years and see what effect, if any, the addition of APP has on the gen ed students in the building.

We saw tremendous improvement at Garfield with the addition of APP. That school went from an under enrolled, under performer, to one of the most sought after high schools in the district. Not sure the history on Washington, maybe someone else who is familiar with it could comment on it, and Hamilton is too new to make heads or tails of yet. And then there was Madrona which I've heard was a disaster. So who knows???

squeagle said...

Rabbit, you have a lot to say about how things are at Thurgood Marshall and SE schools generally.

Please tell me you're a TM parent. Or a SE parent. Or something.

Ben said...

Rabbit:

You mention three benefits to having APP at Marshall:

1) The APP kids will serve as inspiration for the ALO kids.

2) APP parents will be activists for the good of the rest of the school.

3) The APP parents will be a source of funding for a strapped school.

It's not working out this way—we heard of informal boycotts on the part of ALO families of mixed APP/ALO field trips and the school's annual fund is not looking so good.

(As for point 2, it's this sort of thing—you might call it advocating, others called it meddling—that helped torpedo the Madrona experiment with "APP" and general ed housed in the same school.)

Apart from that, I find this offensive. My kid isn't an object lesson, and I'm more than a wallet. (Which is a good thing, because I can't contribute much in that regard.) I'm a dyed-in-the-wool cynic, but SPS would have to out-cynic me to have been banking on the "benefits" you tout.

Rabbit said...

I don't think the super housed APP at TM for any of the reasons that I listed in my earlier post. I think she placed APP there to boost the buildings test scores. TM was one of the lowest performing schools in the district and faced a mandated restructure and other sanctions.

Further, I would never advocate placing APP at TM for the purpose of being role models to the gen ed community, or for parent advocates, volunteers, or fund raising. That would be wrong on so many levels.

All I was doing was pointing out, in hind sight, some of the positives that may have come out of the merge.

Dorothy said...

"Further, I would never advocate placing APP at TM for the purpose of being role models to the gen ed community, or for parent advocates, volunteers, or fund raising. That would be wrong on so many levels."

Does anyone remember that this was exactly Mary Bass's rationale for her plan to split elementary app a couple years before it happened? To "spread the resources" of motivated kids and involved parents. She said this in an interview in one of the local presses in the Central District.

I do find it interesting that you claim that these reasons for the move are offensive, yet point out that they are the reasons the outcome is actually pretty good.

On a different note to a different commenter. It's been years since I had this conversation, so I am not positive of it, but I recall having a conversation with an elementary school teacher about reporting kids' ethnic or racial background if the kids or parents opted out. She said that she had to report something anyway. I think this was in relation to the WASL. So, this teachers reporting race might not be something new. But this conversation was years ago, so I might not be remembering acccurately. Please perhaps a veteran teacher can answer how long this practice has been going on.

seattle citizen said...

Rabbit said,
"Money helps for sure, but it can't buy a motivated peer group, it can't buy involved and engaged parents, it can't buy parent advocates, and it can't buy an environment and culture of success at a school."

If an individual child DOESN'T have some, or all, of the above, the city and its citizens and its governments BETTER make sure money is available to assist this child in her or his budding little life.

The good intentions of individuals in the community, individuals and small groups looking after the children who are missing some of the above supports. But it is a very small percentage of the actual cost of providing these services. At a guess? Ten percent of the services, in hours or in money, is "paid" by non-governmental entities (individuals, groups, etc)towards towards these services at present (again, a wild guess)

So money, and lots of it, IS required - 20-30% of kids are probably in the middle range of risk factors above and don't have individuals and groups looking out for them. I hope we consider this as education budgets are drastically slashed across the nation.

Or at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School.

seattle citizen said...

Rabbit,
additionally, in your list of good things for kids, including peers and parents, you said money "can't buy an environment and culture of success at a school."

Two points: I disagree - I attended a public high school in a wealthy town. High property taxes paid for education, which drew people wanting "good schools." Those people aspired to both "culture" [ironic quotes...I do that a lot, don't I?)AND success. Their tax dollars contributed heavily to the purchase of nice campuses, environments with a culture of success (my high school had two soccer fields, two baseball diamonds, a football field with both sides grandstanded (!?) and INSIDE the buildings, inside...! all the culture of success one could buy.

And the parent/guardians paid for enrichment up the kazoo: field trips everywhere, ski teams with all their travel, summer camps...

When I went into the city from this place, I passed through the ghetto. There one would see burned out (almost literally) old brick schoolhouses, fronted by fenced tarmac with two rusty hoops with no nets.

Two public educations: which do you think had more "culture of success"?

Sahila said...

I am interested in ideas around unconscious racism, and a lot of the talk about TM-APP is reflecting unconscious and institutionalised racism...

There's this not quite clearly, boldly, baldly articulated idea that TM was a school of kids of colour, who werent doing well because they and their families didnt really appreciate education (not motivated, parents not involved) and so was doing badly and by bringing in high achieving, motivated white kids, those 'positive' attributes of enthusiasm and commitment and parental involvement would rub off on that community of colour and everyone would benefit...

I dont know if anyone else here gets how offensive that is...

Communities of colour are where they're at because of historical events... white communities are where they're at because of white privilege...

And then there's the unspoken expectation that communities of colour would do so much better if they just took on white ways of looking at/doing life...

"You will be assimilated, resistance is futile.... "

This is a far more complicated issue than people here are willing to look at...

seattle citizen said...

Sahila,

I believe that the idea of "white privilege" is just a part of the larger privilege of wealth and power.

I believe that racist practices arise from planned manipilation of people to effect better economic conditions for the few that can access the economy at all.

As we know, wealth is piled high at the top, and getting piled higher every day. But racism is but one tool for keeping that pump a-pumpin': there's resource manipulation to the detriment of the poor (shrimp fisherfolk come to mind); there's pimping and pandering in all the artistic venues available, that debase REAL culture and substitute a culture of veneers and appliques ("success") so as to power the pump with the sweat and blood of a dumbed-down workforce...

White priviledge is but one of many economic tools - you're right, the issue is very complicated.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Communities of colour are where they're at because of historical events... white communities are where they're at because of white privilege...

And then there's the unspoken expectation that communities of colour would do so much better if they just took on white ways of looking at/doing life...

And there's no other way of looking at communities of color or so-called white communities? Every single white person is well-off and in a better environment than a person of color? Hard to believe.

I'm at a loss for words because I find this a huge statement covering large groups of people. It's more complicated than that.

Sahila said...

Melissa - this entire country operates on a white is right basis...

there is no place/style for other cultures/skin colours to live their lives in what is for them a culturally appropriate manner - not in living, not in educating their children, not in family relationships, not in language, not in commerce, not in spiritual practices, not in philosophical or political perspectives...

There is a begrudging 'allowance/tolerance' of small aspects, but not an acceptance and an embrace, let alone complete, unconditional space given for people of other ethnicities to live life here on their own terms...

There is not even an acknowledgment that other ways of life have positives to offer - they're seen as infuriating idiosyncrasies rather than valid ways of journeying through the world/cosmos... there's that whole disrespect for other forms of timekeeping and relationship building for example - that whole idea that's contained in phrases such as 'Indian time'... NZ and Australia have it too - "Maori time", or "Abo time" ... I think you have it here about native Hawaians and about the Inuit people also and about people coming from Mexico...

Its live life on white terms or else you (and your thousands of years old culture) are a failure...

Rabbit said...
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Rabbit said...

"there is no place/style for other cultures/skin colours to live their lives in what is for them a culturally appropriate manner -"

Can you explain this statement further? With a few specific examples please. We are family of color and have not experienced any such thing. I really don't understand what you are talking about.

Give me an example of how a black family is not able to live their lives in a culturally appropriate manner?

How about a Jewish family?

Sahila said...

If you are a Muslim, can you pray to Mecca five times a day, including (if you are a child) at school? In your workplace, in your social world, without being looked at askew?

Is kosher food available in school cafeterias?

http://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/broward-county-school-board-keeping-things-kosher-ben-gamla-charter-school

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080830164358AAd2nzR

Is Halal food available for Muslim students?

http://www.islamfortoday.com/michiganhalal.htm

Do public schools honour all the cultural backgrounds of their students and communities? No they dont... there's a focus in many on African-American history/culture but hardly any on Latino (subject of discussion at AS#1) and many focus only on Christian or Jewish holidays/holy days...

Native American philosophy, spirituality, ways of living are almost completely disregarded in public education, and yet they are the First Peoples of this land....

Did you know that India (subcontinent) had its own math system more than 2,000 years ago (Vedic Math) and that 16 'sutras' or principles are all you need to solve the most complex math problems... http://www.vedicmaths.org/introduction/What%20is%20VM.asp ... do our children get taught this system?

I could go on and on and on... the simple fact is that this country is completely white-oriented... and so is our education system, which is quite ridiculous really, considering the "browning of America" that's going on...

see here for an interesting perspective:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Rodriguez

Ben said...

Yeah, well, about Vedic Mathematics...

See http://twitscope.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/vedic-mathematics-or-vedic-nonsense/

Not actually 2,000 years old. It's from a book written in the early 20th century. It claims that certain vague mathematical principles (those 16 sutras) were hidden within the Vedas.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"If you are a Muslim, can you pray to Mecca five times a day, including (if you are a child) at school? In your workplace, in your social world, without being looked at askew?

Is kosher food available in school cafeterias?"

Question one: yes, you can and many Muslim students do (especially in middle/high school). No one bats an eyelash.

On the food issue, I know several years back the district made accommodations so that there would be non-pork food items available .

I don't know of any SPS schools that put much focus on ANY religious holiday. Most schools don't say Christmas and most have a "holiday" concert which yes, does include Jewish and Latino holiday songs. (And the high schools try very hard to not schedule around Ramadan but it's a whole month.)

We do have a long way to go but the U.S. has a huge number of people from all different places and it's still the go to place to immigrate to for many. That we don't honor our Native American culture and history is wrong and I think many of us continue to speak out on this issue. But I believe our district, like many, has come a long way in making a huge effort to be culturally competent.

Rabbit said...
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Rabbit said...

"I could go on and on and on... the simple fact is that this country is completely white-oriented... "

I disagree Sahila, this country is not "white oriented", it's American oriented, because it is, well, America. I think our schools go out of their way to be inclusive and accommodating to all of our students. But there is only so much that a school can do. I would certainly not move my family to Saudi Arabia and expect to have the local school there give my kids two weeks off for Christmas and celebrate Jesus resurrection with us. Would you?

And, while you are right that Seattle Schools do not shut down to allow a Muslim child to pray 5 times a day, they also don't block a time for my Christian child to pray. Remember there is no prayer or religious training in public schools at all - for anyone; white, black, Muslim, Christian or otherwise.

As for Kosher food not being available in the lunch room at school, well neither is Fish available on Fridays for Catholics, or sugar free meals for a diabetics, or organic meals for yuppies, or, or, or, or, or.

Ben said...

"As for Kosher food not being available in the lunch room at school, well neither is Fish available on Fridays for Catholics, or sugar free meals for a diabetics, or organic meals for yuppies, or, or, or, or, or."

Or vegan food!

Don't get me started.

hschinske said...

agibean, from what I've heard there was a real lack of communication about what was actually going on. If anyone had actually been TOLD that there was a kid who needed subject acceleration, I doubt there would have been such a fuss. See the thread at https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=4649338642905686469&postID=6813919412306097160.

As I said on that thread, "What the heck is an ALO but an environment that is supposed to have flexibility? And why on earth couldn't Julie mention that there was a student who needed extra challenge? (the same way she JUST DID mention that fact? if it was wrong before, why is it OK now?)"

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

This is an Open Thread so....

I recently started following a young teacher's blog called An Urban Teacher's Education. The guy taught HS south of Seattle and then went east and ended up getting and quitting a teaching job in DC because of (I would say) education 'reform.'

Very thoughtful, lots of research. A friend of mine knows him personally and says he's a great teacher and a mensch.

So today I'm reading his thread on whether to go teach in NYC or come back to Seattle and I read this post:

Anonymous said...
We need more quality teachers in SPS with a broad perspective. Come back to the Emerald city, raise your voice, and counter some of the interesting opinions we see here: http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/

Best of luck to you!

-A Non-Resume Building TFA Alum

June 22, 2010 10:10 AM


Wow!

Maureen said...

I'm just checking to see if moderation is preventing posts on this thread? It doesn't seem to affect the other threads, I wonder why?

ArchStanton said...

There was an ALO child who was doing work at a level that would have made it possible for him to keep up with APP students in that subject. You know, offered the level of work he was capable of doing...

I don't know much about this, but I am curious: Was he highly capable in just one subject? Or was he working ahead across the board? Please tell me that he has been tested for APP eligibility.

agibean said...

Arch-there's a summary about it on the APP blog where someone who went to Julie's last tea posted what she had to say about it.

My understanding is that it was indeed a single subject. I also believe I know the child and if I'm right, he was tested for APP in the past but remained at Thurgood because his parents thought he would get the differentiatd work there that he needed (and they were pretty ok with how it worked out). He also didn't want to leave his friends, and there were also parental concerns about the treatment of black children in APP.

If this isn't the kid I'm thinking of, then there was ANOTHER child who Julie sought to walk over to APP.

What I recall is that in the fall on the APP blog there was a lot of angst about watering APP down if non-APP kids were allowed to join them for any reason. I didn't agree with that at the time and I don't now.

What I'd ultimately like to see is a hybrid education for kids with special gifts-if there's a child who excels in one subject, s/he should be able to go as far as they can where they're already at-or if parents WANT their child in a self-contained advanced program with all like-minded kids, THAT should also be the option. But not the only one. Kids are not one-size fits all, even gifted ones.

Charlie Mas said...

Regarding the story of a high performing general education student at Thurgood Marshall who was not placed in an APP classroom for math - I want to know why the ALO at Thurgood Marshall was not capable of providing the child with the appropriate level of challenge. Isn't that was ALO is supposed to be able to do? Aren't there APP-eligible children in ALOs all across the district and aren't those ALO programs supposed to provide those children with the appropriate rigor and challenge? Why couldn't the ALO at Thurgood Marshall do it?

Ben said...

Well, what the heck is Marshall's ALO all about? Is it anything more than business-as-usual with a new name?

agibean said...

I replied to Arch but it was either not posted or deleted for some reason. On the APP blog there is a wrap-up by a parent of Julie's last tea, in which she explained the situation.

If it's the child I think it is, the family did have them tested for APP at one point, but the child did not want to leave his friends and the parents were concerned about the reception black students get in APP, so there was no move to APP.

Charlie, my understanding is that the student WAS being challenged in his own classroom through ALO, but because APP now existed in the SAME BUILDING there was an effort to move the student to APP for the one class.

I think this was right-after all, if the student was capable of the work in APP, why allow a walk over? It would certainly be simpler than customizing a subject in the gen ed classroom for one kid when you have a whole class of like ability kids down the hall.

The experience of my oldest in small, private elementary schools was just that-he walked over to 4, 5th or 6th grade to do his math as a 1st or second grader because that's where his level of math was being taught. We never asked for this-it was proposed to us as the logical solution.

But when it was suggested in the ALO/APP school, it was jumped on as all kinds of wrong-and even here Charlie wants to know hy it had to be so. But I ask, WHY NOT? ALO is finding the level of the student and giving it to them. In this case, it was an APP classroom-at least until the APP parents got involved.