Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Westneat Reports Garfield Overcrowded

Now carrying the ball for education reporting at the Seattle Times: Danny Westneat.

Mr. Westneat's column today was about the size of the freshman class at Garfield.

He quotes Stephanie Bower and Jane Fellner. He reports that there are 547 freshmen (with more showing up daily) and that the school is 300 students over capacity. He reports that the school staff is working their tails off, but that the District level staff are unperturbed. He quotes District spokeswoman, Teresa Wippel:
She said the enormous freshman class should be a one-time occurrence. The district isn't planning to redraw the boundaries, because, she said, projections show Garfield will be back to a more manageable 1,624 students again by 2015.
Oh. Good. Don't worry kids. It will only be like this for five years. The year after you graduate they will have it fixed.

Their sense of urgency is as finely tuned as ever.

101 comments:

Eric M said...

There's a line in the article about "destroying Garfield as we know it."

Is that maybe what Dr. No-Confidence and her henchmen are up to?

We were looking at the resume of the new czar of northwest area schools: Brianna Dusseault- who is straight from the Center on Reinventing Public Education - she is a charter school researcher who is interested in "turn around" schools.

Why why why put a charter-school cheerleader in charge of any part of Seattle Public Schools?

Whatever is the thinking?

Eric M said...

Garfield teachers, perhaps seeing their school as somewhat successful, have been particularly oppositional to Dr. No-Confidence's "curriculum alignment" efforts.

Is this a punishment?

Or an effort to destroy morale and entrenched programs that don't fit with alignment ?

Or both?

Or just utter incompetence that has some accidental plusses for the Broad Foundation?

I don't even know anymore.

dan dempsey said...

This kind of lack of concern for your constituents just got the Mayor of WA DC, who appointed Michelle Rhee, defeated. Perhaps Dr. Goodloe-Johnson can take a lesson from her fellow Current Broad Director, Michelle Rhee. Ms Rhee under any likely new Mayor may become former Chancellor of WA DC schools.

uxolo said...

letter from Ted Howard:
"Currently we have 1,918 number of students assigned to our school with only 1,784 actually registered for classes and attending Garfield. This is an increase from past years. "

She doesn't know who she's messing with if she screws around with Garfield. Prior to renovation those numbers may have worked - and the teachers, staff and families will make sure something changes. It's way too strong an organization to be run over by Dr. No-Confidence.

LG said...

The Center School also has way too many 9th graders, and I've heard nothing about additional staff for them. I'm still trying to find out the numbers.

Same problems - classes with 40 students, some can't find a 6th class. But without the attention Garfield commands. Any other schools having this problem?

wseadawg said...

This is just the "crisis" they'll claim "forces their hand" to kick APP kids out of Garfield, which they already want to do, destroying the entire program and much of remaining program as well.

Any more evidence needed to reach the conclusion that MGJ & Co are incompetent?

Clowns.

And yes, Dan, Rhee might be on her way out. Great for DC I suppose, but horrible for Sacramento, where she'll probably be going next.

ParentofThree said...

" they'll claim "forces their hand" to kick APP kids out of Garfield."

My thoughts exactly as the number of students who "overenrolled" the school is almost the number of students who are incoming APP each year now that they split the program.

Other alternative I see is that they split the APP 9th grade assignments. Northend kids stay at GHS, southend kids go to RBHS.

That solves some problems.

However, what about the reports of overcrowding at other schools. Eckstien and McClure where sited in the Westneat article and Center School was sited here?

Rabbit said...

I'm of the mind that North end APP kids should have a school in the north end, so I wouldn't mind a split at all. And really, why wouldn't you house APP or other popular programs in schools with excess space like RBHS and Ingraham? Move them in tact of course with all of the AP classes that serve those students.

Isn't that better than a 1900 kid Garfield?

Charlie Mas said...

I'm pretty sure that the October 1 enrollment counts will reveal the incompetency of the capacity managment project implementation and the implementation of the new student assignment plan.

Then what will the rubber-stamp Board do? Will they hold the superintendent accountable for her results?

I doubt it.

If they were going to do that, then they would have held her responsible for the poor results of the Southeast Education Initiative. They didn't.

If they were going to do that, then they would have held her responsible for the poor results of the capacity management project that closed seven schools (at great disruption and expense) only to re-open three of them the following year. They may yet re-open Mann as an adjunct building for Garfield and they may yet re-open an elementary school in West Seattle - possibly Genessee Hill - where the overcrowding is very bad. That would leave only Van Asselt and T T Minor as buildings closed that stayed closed. They are, of course, offset by the re-opening of Sand Point and McDonald.

Her implementation is just so bad.

hschinske said...

Move them intact of course with all of the AP classes that serve those students.

But the AP classes DON'T serve only APP students. Far from it. Once again, Advanced Placement =/= Accelerated Progress Program. AP is not the same thing as APP.

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, you may be onto something. I think they will pack the popular schools to the point where parents say "uncle" and move to another high school just to get relief. I also think they may be reopening Rainier View to deflect off a couple of other area elementaries who are not meeting AYP, not because they need the capacity in that area.

I also agree with Charlie about Mann; it will "temporarily" open.

They can certainly split up APP but then look for Garfield not to be as strong of a school. Those scattering APP students might strengthen other high schools but (1) I bet if that happens, many APP parents will go private and (2)those students will pack in the other popular high schools like Roosevelt and Ballard causing the same issues as at Garfield.

Charlie Mas said...

Rabbit, I agree. I suspect that a 200 student high school APP would have the critical mass necessary to sustain a program. Particularly if it were in a school that had a lot of other students interested in AP classes.

But let's consider how the other two APP splits worked out.

In the case of the elementary split the program placement was atrocious. The choice of Thurgood Marshall as the south-end school was in direct contradiction of the recommendation made in the APP review. The two programs are not of equitable size (as promised) and the promised curriculum was not implemented. The choice of Lowell as the site for the north-end students is simply bizarre and in plain and direct violation of the District's program placement policy. Why in the world is the north-end program located south of the Ship Canal? Anyone? Anyone?

The middle school split was okay from a program placement perspective and the two programs are of similar size. I haven't heard of any striking differences in academics - although there isn't anyone who can make the comparison. However, the lesson for a possible high school split lies in the loss of the advanced math class. Whereas there were enough students to justify Integrated III at Washington, the split programs can't put such a class together.

Do we trust the District to make a good program placement decision? It could be Garfield and Roosevelt or Garfield and Ingraham. It could be Garfield and Rainier Beach. It could be Rainier Beach and Ingraham. What should be the determinants for a program placement - just put the program wherever space is available?

Also, which classes now available at Garfield for just one section a year would be lost completely if the program were split?

reader said...

Exactly. And what better way to get AP classes at RBHS than add southend APP to it? Sounds like it was the plan all along. MGJ should be commended for it.

wsnorth said...

All the elementary schools in the "northern" part of West Seattle are way over the capcity their buildings were build for. Ours is 100% over capacity for K!

Rabbit said...

"What should be the determinants for a program placement - just put the program wherever space is available?"

First criteria could be location:

It would seem logical to choose a school in the south end to house south end APP, such as RBHS, STEM, or Franklin.

It would seem logical to house North end APP in a school in the north end such as Roosevelt, Hale, or Ingraham (Ballard is really Northwest).

Second criteria would be space. There isn't much space at Franklin or Roosevelt. STEM has a strong possibility of filling within a few years. That leaves RBHS, Ingraham, and Hale. Ingraham is under enrolled and could take 200+ APP students. And when the the new construction is complete Hale may be able to take 200+ APP students too.

So I would say that RBHS for the south end would be a good choice, and either Ingraham, or Hale for the north end.

I believe once an APP program moves into a building the peer group will change. There will be a cohort of motivated students in that building, more rigorous classes available, perhaps a strong music program, and then voila other (non APP) families will be more inclined to give the school a try.

That's what I'd do.

Rosie said...

Anyone have a sense of the sizes of the freshman classes at Ballard and Roosevelt?

Maureen said...

I don't understand how The Center School can be overenrolled. Unlike Garfield, it is an Option school--no one is guaranteed a seat there. If it is overenrolled it is because the District made a deliberate decision to send too many kids there.

hschinske said...

Whereas there were enough students to justify Integrated III at Washington, the split programs can't put such a class together.

True, but from what I've heard that's largely due to district monkeyshines with the placement tests.

Helen Schinske

Rosie said...

So Rabbit, your logic is why they put the IB program at Ingraham, which now has "cohort of motivated students in that building,[and] more rigorous classes available". I would be curious to get the principal's perspective on whether this has done what you suggest might happen, which is "then voila other (non [IB]) families will be more inclined to give the school a try." I'm too new to the school to have any historical perspective.

Dorothy Neville said...

King5 has a report as well. Shout out to Meg Coyle, she's paying attention.

King5 on Garfield

Maureen said...

I believe on another thread someone said that Roosevelt has 500 freshman this year (about 100 more than in past years). I haven't heard of any major implications, but my kid is a junior. My kid got a full schedule of reasonable classes, but he told me that a kid he knows who enrolled late (moved to town) was waiting for a sixth class.

I think the "High School 101" presentation was last night so maybe someone with a RHS freshman attended and has more up to date information?

Charlie Mas said...

I keep asking why the District is moving forward with an expansion at Ingraham against such community opposition when the school is under-enrolled.

Of course the addition of 200 APP students would go a long way to justify the urgent need for an addition to the building.

Putting 200 APP students at Rainier Beach would be pretty consistent with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's strategy to improve schools by importing high performing students. That sure would go a long way to support a claim of successfully turning the school around.

Central Cluster Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Central Cluster Mom said...

Rabbit said:

"I believe once an APP program moves into a building the peer group will change. There will be a cohort of motivated students in that building, more rigorous classes available, perhaps a strong music program, and then voila other (non APP) families will be more inclined to give the school a try."

I believe that is exactly what happened at Garfield - so I have no doubt that the district intends to use APP to "solve" their problems again and fill an empty high school that they have been unable to change.

The difference is that Garfield is centrally located - so it is convenient for all south of the shipping canal. You move the program further south -- you really think the central students will go to RBHS instead? I guess only if all of the AP classes at Garfield are discontinued and they have no other option.

North-end should be in the north-end -- no reason to keep them at Garfield. Again -- will they bus to Ingraham instead of just taking their assignment at Ballard or Roosevelt? Again - only if the AP classes etc. are not available at their site high school.

Hard to say -- but likely that it won't alleviate the crowding at the three popular high school quite as much as people think.

More than likely - it will just be the complete dismantling of the "program" at the high school level.

Not at all unlikely that that is the district's intention.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of student assigment, has anyone heard of any school's waitlist moving since school started? My family is one of the 70+ still negotiating two schools for young elementary students as our K student did not get into the elder's school. No one who answers the phone at enrollment will give any answers - "we don't do the waitlist" was what I got from them yesterday; messages to higher ups are never returned, and the school has heard nothing. We know of situations where simple swaps could be made - kid at school A is on waitlist at school B, kid at school B is waitlisted at school A for example - helping families without changing overall numbers. Has anyone heard when things might move, or know how to get through to an actual person at the district who can answer waitlist questions?

Chip

Charlie Mas said...

KING 5 quotes the District as saying that they were expecting the kids, but that the school didn't have enough teachers hired.

What? I thought they had already fixed their HR and hiring problems. That was one of the projects of the Strategic Plan. They said that they had done that.

And the claim that the spokeswoman made - that the school was overcrowded because of grandfathered students makes no sense because the problem was caused by the size of the freshman class and no freshmen were grandfathered.

Mercermom said...

Are there specific examples of classes at Garfield that are offered now with full APP, but would not likely have enough students to justify continuation if half (or all) of APP was transferred to another school?

Lori said...

Charlie, several schools were interviewing teachers the week before classes started. I couldn't believe it.

Lowell hired two new APP teachers just a few days before the Labor Day weekend. One class received its welcome letter that week that listed the teacher as "TBA." You may remember that way back in the spring, Lowell had enrolled something like 70 more kids than the district projected. Yet they waited until the week before school started to hire teachers; I've been told that that is because those new positions were not funded or approved prior to that point, even though the district had known for months that enrollment was going to require it. It's mind-boggling.

wseadawg said...

The only problem with moving APP kids to RBHS is this: They won't go. Half will go private, and half will stay local.

Keep in mind that much of APP's allure and success has always been its central location. Re-locating it to the fringes of the district, in the opposite direction from the flow of workers into downtown everyday, which provides the convenience for many parents to be involved at their "local school," be it Lowell, Marshall, Garfield or Washington, will be destroyed.

If we have AP classes in our local schools, we'll still be willing to go to Garfield because its Garfield. APP families will not go to an outlying, difficult to reach school, nor will they allow themselves do be used as a district panacea once again.

Meg said...

The problem with thinking that people will say "uncle" if over-crowded schools get insanely so is that it appears not enough people will say "uncle."

A quick review of already over-crowded schools indicates that overcrowding may have to get much, much worse before parents will say "uncle": Schmitz Park (functional capacity: 319, 2009-10 Oct enrollment: 355) currently has 420 kids. 420. Ouch. Adams is somewhat less dramatic, with an enrollment of 433 (functional capacity: 423, 2009-10 Oct enrollment: 413), but still. View Ridge is at 534 (functional capacity: 457, 2009-10 Oct enrollment: 500). John Stanford is at 435 (functional capacity: 355, 2009-10 enrollment: 397).

I can't say that I'm shocked or surprised that the district reaction is that "change is difficult, this will smooth out in a few years." Grossed out, yes, surprised, no. You gotta love that in the FAQ on the teacher's contract, the district took pains to note that they've "sought" to decrease class sizes where it matters most (sped, ell, elementary), and that Seattle has made "significant strides in class size reductions over the past 20 years." I'm gonna take a guess that the reductions they've "sought" have been in "targeted" schools.

G said...

Sorry, folks, but I have it in writing from a school board member that the intention for the APP kids at Garfield is that the overcrowding will encourage them to go to their neighborhood schools as more AP classes are offered at every school. The next idea the SB member offered was that eventually Franklin would also become a more attractive school and students would also want to go there. I guess APP students don't live near Franklin, or the neighborhood schools APP students will be returning to are exclusively Ballard and Roosevelt (and maybe Sealth?).

The saddest part of manipulating students to achieve the neighborhood school model is the active destruction of an inner city flagship high school. Making a school so overcrowded that those who can flee, will, only leaves behind those that can't escape. Please remember that APP doesn't exist in a bubble at GHS. Advanced Placement and honors classes are available to all students who can do the work and make the grade. This fact alone attracts many high achieving kids to GHS who have not come through the APP program. The quarter of each freshman class that is APP from middle school (though this year with 630 freshman, only one-sixth) becomes a much bigger high achieving group of kids that goes through Garfield. And you get the perfect mix, much like TOPS, with a socio-economic and racial diversity that really works. There is strong parent support, strong student leadership that really makes the school vibrant (and those students are a blend of all kinds of kids, not just APP), and PTSA fundraising that supports programs across the spectrum.

We know it is a good socioeconomic mix that makes an urban school work. MGJ wants everyone to go back to their neighborhood schools. No vision, no concern for the students or schools or families.

Enrollment should be capped at every school. How can you fill a building beyond capacity? It is nonsensical. Until there is equity between all schools, there is going to be overenrollment at the schools that are perceived to be better. They put the cart before the horse with the NSAP, and GHS in particular is suffering the consequence of bad planning. But until all schools are equally good, there needs to be a cap on enrollment to allow the currently good schools to survive.

And has anyone thought of what will happen to the music programs at GHS if the APP cohort returns to their neighborhood schools?

Commenters on this blog wring their hands over how to improve RBHS. If they take away the Advanced Placement and honors classes at GHS due to lack of demand if the APP cohort (and those that will leave with them) is dispersed, we can watch Garfield begin to look a lot more like RBHS. Why destroy what is obviously working for so many? Though at the moment, too many...and not working, exactly.

Emily S said...

We have a kindergartner at Jane Addams and they have two K classes, with 30 kids each at this point. Parents have been emailing the school board and district, and the principal has been trying to get a third K class added, but the district keeps saying they are waiting for waitlists to move at other schools and they are expecting attrition. There was a lot of attrition last year, but this year is different, since we all chose to be at Jane Addams. Some parents have surveyed the other schools in the Eckstein district, and we are the only school with K classes over 26. We have a parent on the school board agenda for tonight. We're loving the school and the teachers, just wanting them to make this decision sooner rather than later since all the kids are getting settled in.

Roy Smith said...

I think this overcrowding has less to do with incompetence and more to do with the predictable effects of moving to a neighborhood based school system in Seattle. Once enrollment was guaranteed by address, is it any surprise that people took advantage of it to get into the popular schools? For families who rent, it can be a fairly quick process to move across town, and with a neighborhood-based assignment plan, you get the bonus of hand-picking your new school along with your new address. There is probably no reasonable way SPS could have drawn the high school boundaries to prevent this problem, and I fully expect it will continue to be a problem (in fact, it will likely get worse) for at least the next few years. I hope the people complaining about overcrowding now aren't the same ones who were demanding guaranteed neighborhood enrollment in the new SAP - like it or not, the people who wanted neighborhood enrollment have gotten what they asked for.

On the other hand, the failure to adequately prepare for the predictable outcome of the new SAP can be attributed directly to SPS managerial incompetence.

And, on balance, in my opinion the new SAP will still be a net positive in the long term for the stability of SPS.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Chip, I'll put a couple of calls in and see what I can find out about waitlists.

I'm with Charlie; what!? They knew they would be overenrolled but weren't able to fill some teaching spots so hence not enough classes? How does that make sense? Also, Garfield is a good school and they have a hard time finding teachers in this economy?

G, what School Board member told you that? It would interesting to know.

Emily, keep on asking. I think the attrition story is true but less true this year because we have a new SAP. That the district thinks they will get the same attrition numbers under a new plan is strange.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where we can find the functional capacities of the schools?

FHS85

wseadawg said...

All they have to do is re-open Lincoln. In that neighborhood, with that demographic, it would be the perfect pressure relief valve.

It's so obvious, it is sure to never happen with this Board and SI.

And Kudos to G who highlights the totality of Garfield as a great school, not just APP or the Jazz Band. It works, period.

And because it works, SI & Board just can't wait to ruin it, along with all the other high-demand schools, like in West Seattle N.

So much for capacity mgmt, paying to keep lights on, heat, etc., when running schools "Like A Business."

So, guess what folks: When they run schools "like a business," this is what you get! Get used to it!

Emily S said...

Thanks Melissa,
We will continue to ask and push, and are prepared to show up on Monday night at the meeting at Eckstein. What's so frustrating, is that Jane Addams actually has space (in addition to great teachers, a fantastic principal, active parents and a solid vision)!

If they gave us another class, we'd have 20 kids to a class, and that might entice some more families to move over and ease some of the crowding at other schools, which is desperately needed in the NE.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wseadawg, our district will not use Lincoln. One, they need it for building remodels (the next visitors are likely to be from Eckstein or Whitman, maybe Washington). Two, they need a large building in case of an emergency. And three, just like ALL our old buildings, Lincoln is virtually on its last legs without some more fixing up. They couldn't create a new school there without throwing a lot of money at it (but hey, what's one more building).

Sean98125 said...

I think the only public high school that has the capacity right now is Rainier Beach, which has capacity for at least 700 more students than it has right now.

It's too bad that the school has such a horrible reputation and that the district seems to be completely incapable of fixing whatever problems it has.

Meg said...

Anon- Jan 2009 functional capacity link.

A cynical person might notice that schools that were overcrowded under "planning capacity" became magically roomier w/ funcational capacity analysis, and undersubscribed schools shrank.

If I was placing bets on HS APP locations, I'd bet Franklin and Ingraham. This is not to say that's my hope - I hope APP continues to thrive at Garfield. I think there's inadequate support for APP from the board and my perception is that central administration hates it.

ParentofThree said...

Then:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2008549768_opin23goodloejohnson.html


and now....?

another mom said...

It may be a bit of a logistical and educational dilemma for the district to split APP at the H.S. level. High school is a very different proposition and I think it cannot be campared with what occurred at at the elementary and middle. The educational impact for juniors and seniors (and probably sophomores)would be pretty significant if the entire program was simply split ala the elem. and middle. In particular for juniors and seniors getting college stuff together would be problematic and perhaps detrimental to their futures. It is very tricky. I would keep an eye out on simply dispersing to their "neighborhood" high schools beginning with an eighth grade class. More of a phased in/out approach. I maybe entirely wrong here but there are factors that must be considered before any moves or splits at the high school APP is done. If the APP community values the high school cohort being kept together, it is time to get on the band wagon.

Howard said...

As to the current situation at Garfield, a look at it's draft master schedule might be instructive, assuming it's reasonably accurate:

- I'm assuming every position marked "Teacher A" (B...) was a position to be filled as of September 4. If so, the shortage of teachers is not uniformly spread across departments; the History department has (or at least had) 6 TBAs out of 11 total.

- To partially address MercerMom's question: in the short term, one would think the AP classes with only one section would be most vulnerable in the case of a split. It looks like every AP class in the core departments has at least two sections, but in other subjects - world language, in particular - there is only one section per class.

- The master schedule does suggest the number of kids - beyond the APP cohort - that take AP classes at Garfield. For example, there are six sections of AP US History 11, 9 sections of AP Language Arts 11, five of AP Calculus AB.

I'll have to agree that at least with the current "Cohort-based" APP high school model, a split designed to shore up enrollment at under-subscribed schools is not only wrong, but doomed to failure. Even if 50 kids/grade provides sufficient mass for a cohort (which I doubt), it will take years to develop a leadership and school culture that sufficiently understands and supports the program. Current parents will, understandably, not wait. A substantial percentage of these kids live in the Garfield, Roosevelt, and Ballard attendance areas; many, if not most, will take advantage of those options. At which point the death spiral will only accelerate.

wseadawg said...

With no HS APP cohort, as I've said before, Middle school and elementary school APP make no sense to APP families. Why leave your friends and neighbors just to be plunked back into your neighborhood HS several years later, having to reconnect with all your old friends, etc? Ruining HS APP is a poison pill for the entire APP program. And any Alt program parent knows they'll be next in the march toward standardization and dumbing down for all.

Melissa: The more expensive it would be to re-open Lincoln, the more likely it is to happen. The contractors who do the remodeling work on the schools have deep pockets and hold huge sway. We can't get dollars in the classroom, but 80 million in cost overruns at Garfield? The Board says, "where do I sign(?)" repeatedly.

G said...

Interesting that Danny's column has disappeared from the Seattle Times' homepage. It is now found only under local news/columnists at the top of the page. A little early in the day to remove a story from that was on the front of the metro/NW section. Bet there is more to the removal than just the usual shuffling of news items throughout the day.

hschinske said...

With no HS APP cohort, as I've said before, Middle school and elementary school APP make no sense to APP families.

Oh, I disagree. I had *way* more reasons to send my kids to Lowell than to Garfield. There are tons of families who end up leaving APP after elementary or middle school. The commute gets *less* worth it about then for lots of people.

Helen Schinske

southmom said...

Please, please, please bring on the APP and all accompanying goodies to RBHS. I beg the district. I really do.

southmom said...

By the way, I'm glad Garfield has its great music program. But the fact of the matter is my fifth grader is also a promising musician and has absolutely no chance of getting into Garfield or Roosevelt. So I'm not that broken up about maybe sending some of those kids elsewhere for high school, because my child has as much a right to good instrumental music as any in the district. I look at Garfield sometimes and just GRIT my teeth.

G said...

If "tons" of families leave the cohort for other high school choices, such as Lakeside, early entrance at UW, neighborhood schools, why are there a consistent number of students coming in from 8th grade every year that closely match the number that leaves Washington (and now Hamilton). Some families choose to go elsewhere for high school, but the numbers prove that most families choose to stick with the cohort and take advantage of the APP preference at GHS. For a multitude of reasons. Tons implies a really large number, a majority, and I don't think this is the case.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, thanks for being willing to look into the waitlist issue. Many of us are getting progressively frantic as the days slide by, and the complete refusal of the enrollment office to answer simple questions is infuriating.

Chip

Moose said...

I am not trying to be snide, but I really don’t understand why there is an APP cohort moving en masse to high school anyway.

There is no APP “program” at Garfield. The APP program ends in 8th grade. In high school, Garfield offers a host of AP and honors courses. However, my understanding (and correct me if I am wrong) is that AP and honors courses are not set aside at Garfield for APP designated students only, and any student can enroll in either an AP or honors course. That is, all of these courses in high school become self-selected. Garfield offers the APP-designated student exactly what some (not all though – and therein lies the problem doesn’t it?) other neighborhood schools do – access to AP and honors courses.

I don’t understand why there is a set-aside for this group of students (or really, any group!) when there isn’t a program. APP parents, please help me understand this! And I don’t need to hear how great the band is, etc and how it would fall apart if APP were dispersed. What I want to know is how do we justify enrollment to a phantom program in this or any other school building? (I would ask the same question if the APP cohort were sent to the under enrolled RBHS or any other building.)

LinJaneAddamsMom said...

The parents at Jane Addams did hear back from enrollment that they were "living, eating and breathing" enrollment numbers and that they have been "aggressively moving waiting lists." We have not seen the results of this action in the classroom. First day K counts at JA were 29 and 30 (projected before first day was 33 and 34.) One student was lost, a couple gained within the first couple of days, but since then, both classrooms have been at 30 students without any movement at all since Monday. I'll be speaking at the school board meeting tonight.

Bird said...

There is no APP “program” at Garfield. The APP program ends in 8th grade.

Maybe instead of dispersing the students because there is no "program", there should be a program.

I remember going through a gifted program in middle school and then being dumped into high school where I was expected to do the same work and read the same literature that I did in 7th and 8th grade.

In retrospect it boggles my mind how my school district could be so irresponsible so as to design a program with no thought to what happens to the kids at the end of it.

My impression is that this district similarly doesn't have good follow through on things like this, not only for APP, but also for kids coming out of "International" programs.

I take the fact that no on ever discusses the whys of the current arrangement means that there is no one amongst us who was around when these decisions were made.

Just becuase it is, doesn't mean it should be.

Maureen said...

I have been told that "Accelerated Progress Program (APP)" at the HS level IS the COHORT. No special courses or counseling is offered, but the cohort ensures that peer/parent/administrative support exists for the advanced learners.

I have often said that I would feel a lot better about that approach if it were physically possible to join that cohort at some point after 7th grade. I have never understood why the cohort would not be equally of value to kids who are not identified before they are twelve years old.

One advantage to the work Bob Vaughan in Advanced Learning has done recently is that APP kids at WMS and HIMS should be able to get HS credit for something like a year's worth of courses, so even if they choose to go back to their neighborhood HSs they will be able to skip most of the freshman year classes at least (Though I would get that in writing before I signed up if I were you--I checked with the RHS counselor last year and at the time she had no plans to allow APP kids to skip freshman science.)

Charlie Mas said...

It's funny, you know. For years the families of APP students complained about the lack of specific programming for high school APP. The District responded indignantly that they DID SO have a program, and that it was a cohort program (as Maureen described).

The reason that the program isn't more, uh, curricular, is two-fold. First, the APP students are working two grade levels ahead, which means that they are working on 10th grade stuff in the 8th grade. It is a little known fact that Washington State academic Standards only run through the 10th grade. There are no 11th or 12th grade Standards. Consequently, there is nothing to guide the education of APP students after grade 8. Second, there was already a lot of political opposition to APP at Garfield. It has not always enjoyed the welcome it has now. It would have been highly impolitic for the District to arrange any special classes for APP students there.

High school APP is admittedly a grey area with the community, the District, and the school each claiming, at various times, that there is or is not an authentic program there. Since the appointment of Ted Howard II as Garfield principal, however, all three entities have agreed that there is a program there and that it is real. Since Mr. Howard's appointment that has also been more true than ever.

For what it is worth, the District, even when they denied the existence of the program publicly, has ALWAYS claimed to have a 1-12 program on their annual application for the Highly Capable Students Program Grant from the state. They have ALWAYS counted the high school students as part of the program and the state law that allows funding for the program sort of requires that the program extend through high school.

The last person in authority to express any doubt about it was Director Cheryl Chow who, at one of her last Board Work Sessions, asked why the District continues to have set-aside seats for APP at Garfield when there is no real program there. This is particularly ironic when you remember that Ms Chow was once the principal at Garfield and responsible for the program.

Well, she wasn't quite the last. In response to her question CAO Susan Enfield responded that the District was working to expand the range and number of AP classes at all of the other high schools so that APP at Garfield would soon be unnecessary.

When I asked Dr. Enfield about her response to Director Chow, she denied the existence of the program to me. Then I blogged about it and the District ended up re-confirming their commitment to the program.

Any objective review of the situation would have to acknowledge that it is kinda grey. The truth is that all of the interested parties have, at times, insisted that there is a program and, at times, insisted that there isn't one. Currently everyone is playing nice and claiming that there is a program. That could change very quickly and without notice.

Howard said...

Maureen is right. Officially, the high school program is a "cohort-based model". Is it truly effective, particularly as compared to other models? Hard to say, though it seems to work reasonably well for my child. And yes, the situation is somewhat grey, since the district seems more than happy to talk out of both sides of its mouth.

I would also agree that there's no defensible reason for closing off entrance after 7th grade. The current policy seems to be a matter of historical accident, more than anything else. Years ago, Garfield was an unpopular school, so anyone could go and get the same services as a student assigned via APP. In that case, why would anyone bother testing in? Once Garfield became popular, it was politically impossible to change the policy.

As to the "fairness" of the "set-aside"... is the APP "set-aside" intrinsically more unfair than the geographic set-aside? The only truly "fair" system would be to open all schools to all applicants via lottery, and eliminate all geographic and other tie-breakers/preferences. Or better yet, follow the MGJ plan in order to ensure that all schools are identical and equally crappy.

wseadawg said...

For the record, lotteries are not fair. That one should receive a better or more desirable education simply because their number is picked over another is the epitome of arbitrariness and thus, inherent unfairness. That we tolerate it is sadly reflective of how dispirited we've become.

The constant goal should be to give every kid what they need, and not settle for short-straws and "oh-wells." Especially with the 550 million we pour into this district.

Just my .02 on the subject.

Howard said...

wseadawg, I can't disagree with you, which is why I put "fair" in quotes. Once we're reduced to arguing over the crumbs, the battle is already lost.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"..accompanying goodies" - what do you perceive that to be?

Look, you won't ever, ever get the same level of anything across the board at every high school. It's not possible. Every high school can't win a basketball championship or music or drama. It takes years of dedicated staff/parent support to build those programs.

I hope no one believes that Garfield and Roosevelt's music departments get more from the district. They don't. Their music programs are built on the backs of parent boosters and some very talented staff.

That said, I had advocated for auditions for RHS and GHS jazz bands because of the national rank that they have. Being in their band could make a difference in getting a music scholarship to college. But it didn't happen.

"For the record, lotteries are not fair. That one should receive a better or more desirable education simply because their number is picked over another is the epitome of arbitrariness and thus, inherent unfairness."

Sorry, a little confused here. What lottery?

hschinske said...

As I posted once before on a discussion about APP at Garfield, "The de facto policy at Garfield has always been to try to starve the APP students out by not providing any formal program, and then turning around and saying why do you need to be here, when there isn't any formal program? A lot of families have clung to the cohort at Garfield because it's all they've been allowed, not because they wouldn't rather have some more palpable accommodations."

Helen Schinske

Jan said...

I definitely agree with the poster who points out the unfairness of making it impossible to get into APP if you haven't tested in by the end of 7th grade (so you are "in" the cohort by 8th. It makes no sense, it is unfair, it should be changed. I think Howard's analysis is probably the correct one.
I also agree with Bird that there needs to be a program (though I disagree with the language she quotes to the effect that there is no program now). There is one, through honors classes, AP classes, and general support (peers, administration, teachers) for gifted/accelerated learning. There are 14 year olds taking AP Calculus at Garfield (at least, there were when my oldest was a freshman, because one of his good friends was one of them). There are not many kids, granted, but that is why having a concentration of these kids matters (he wasn't going to class with all 18 year olds, because there were also other 15 and 16 year olds in AP Calc.) They get there (or used to) through the UW Summer Stretch and/or testing out of the classes in the middle (so this child took Int 2 in 8th grade, did Int. 3 in Summer Stretch, and tested out of pre-calc to take AP Calc his freshman year. There are similar things that go on in other subjects. And in things like LA, they aren't repeating what they read in 7th/8th grade because the reading level/material/etc is pitched to them and the teachers know what has been taught at WMS (and now, I hope, Hamilton). In my opinion, this sort of thing isn't going to work well (at least not for many kids) with 12 kids at Hale, 11 at Ingraham, 13 at Garfield, 15 at Roosevelt, 12 at RBHS, etc. etc.
So -- I think you can either do total segregation of the gifted kids (like we do at Lowell/TM) or you need to have a cohort big enough to maintain the academic culture and momentum, the group of teachers that actually like teaching these kids (they are not always easy) that the earlier, more tracked programs had.
Cont'd

Jan said...

IF you use a cohort model, you have to have a cohort large enough to make it work. GHS evidently does. Would it work halved? Quartered? I don't know. Some of that might depend on the program that it is housed with -- and how well the APP cohort "blends" with the neighborhood population.
If you make it an exclusive program within a school, I think you end up with the kinds of resentments, disfunction, etc. that plagued Madrona and -- years ago-- Garfield. Now, kids take what they want. I have heard MANY kids say -- they chose X or Y class, because they just didn't want the extra courseload of the AP classes. Some of them are AP kids with a really heavy load in other classes. Whatever. But the cohort model (which requires a statistically meaningful group of kids to work) makes it possible to just open up the classes and let kids sort it out on their own.
As for AP classes, it is not enough to just have one section, if you want to serve kids who may take 4 or 5 AP classes in a year. Because other subjects (including orchestra, jazz band, etc.) have rigid slots, and you get to the point where you can't make the schedules work. How many sections do you need? I don't know, but I am guessing that "one" is not the answer -- and maybe not "two" either.
Next -- moving the APP kids out won't solve the problem (unless what you really mean is "making the school enough worse -- a la reader's viewpoint). There aren't enough of them. The overcrowding in the freshman class wouldn't be fixed if you took ALL the APP kids out -- and CERTAINLY not if the ones in the GHS attendance area (which is ridiculously large) stay at GHS.
Finally -- since we have a program that works (I am not hearing a huge clamor from APP parents for a change -- in fact, they seem to want it to stay), why isn't the answer here to leave an existing, working program alone -- and demand that the District fix the problem it intentionally created? Is the answer here really going to be -- MGJ couldn't be bothered to try to find solutions to underenrolled schools like RBHS, and she regretably failed to "force" the neighborhood families to solve it for her by going there against their will, so now, she will try to "force" a bunch of APP 14, 15, and 16 year olds to bus from all over Seattle to the edge of Renton to do it for her?

Rabbit said...
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Central Cluster Mom said...

Rabbit -

You said that Ranier Beach is in the Seward Park neighborhood - only 2 miles further south than Garfield? RBHS is actually 2 miles south of Seward Park, 6.5 miles south of Garfield and it takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes to get there from Garfield depending on traffic (Bing maps). Quite a big difference for anyone North of Garfield.

Central Cluster Mom said...

Sorry Rabbit - Your comment disappeared - maybe you recognized your error?

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

You can't look at, or solve, district issues, when you look at them from an emotional stand point. And, you can't look at things from your own families perspective/convenience. Rather, you need to look at things that work best for all involve and for the district as a whole. And you need to look at them logically (or in this case logistically). For instance Central mom says that RBHS is 6 miles south of Garfield and that is a huge inconvenience for families living north of Garfield. But how about the inconvenience to the families that live near RBHS, that have to commute the 6 miles to Garfield every day? Or the West Seattle, North Seattle, and Ballard families that have to trek to Garfield every day?

Look Garfield is severely over enrolled, and it has been over enrolled for years - this is nothing new. It houses the APP program which is an all city draw program that is in no way bound geographically to a specific building ( especially since students receive free yellow bus transportation ). Meanwhile you have RBHS down the road and it is severely under enrolled. It just makes sense to move APP to RBHS, or I should say it makes sense to split APP north/south and move south end APP to RBHS.

Nothing at all ties APP to a specific building? The program has no right to claim that Garfield is the only building that can adequately house it. The program is not a neighborhood program, nor is it even at this point regional program. it is an all city draw, and all students get transportation via yellow bus.

Personally, as I said earlier, I think APP should be split, with north end APP housed in a north end school and South end APP housed in a south end school. If the south end APP program were housed at RBHS, in the south end, then commute wouldn't be much of an issue, especially with yellow bus service door to door. And it would certainly be no more inconvenient than the current system where West Seattle students are forced to commute over the bridge every day, and north Seattle students have to commute over the ship canal.

Further, I think many south end families would be much more willing to give RBHS a try if APP were housed there. The school would become much more racially diverse (which is what WE ALL claim we want), more socio economic diverse, would have a new cohort of motivated students, may gain a strong drama and jazz program. etc. Non app families would be much more willing to give it a try.

Howard said...

Rabbit, one nit - relatively few APP high school students get yellow bus transportation; most are on Metro. I believe many of those that do get yellow bus service are riding buses that also take middle school APP students to Washington, which is relatively close to Garfield.

The problems that I see with your analysis:

1. A split assumes that a 200 student cohort will work. As Jan pointed out above, that is far from a given

2. Also, as pointed out previously, an even moderately successful program requires more than just a block of students. It requires a faculty and administration that understands and supports the program. It took Garfield a long time to get to the point where they had that.

3. About one third of the south APP cohort is in the Garfield attendance area. In the absence of firmly established and supported APP program at RBHS, I have to think most of those kids will simply stay at Garfield, further diminishing the viability of the RBHS APP program.

4. The northend program would presumably have to be located at either Hale or Ingraham. Most northend APP students live in either the Ballard or Roosevelt attendence areas. I'd have to think that again, many north APP students would then choose to return to their "home" schools.

In short, the probable effects of an APP high school split would be:

a) Diminish, slightly, the overcrowding at Garfield

b) Increase the overcrowding at Roosevelt and Ballard

c) Killing the HS APP program, and probably driving a number of these families out of the district.

You're right - APP does not have the right to a single specific location. But it ought to have the right to a certain degree of stability, in whatever building the district chose to house it in. Decades ago, the district chose Garfield to be that building, at a time when that was the building that needed to be filled. Treating APP as the program to be shifted around at the whim of the district's capacity planning needs is unfair, and will fail to boot.

hschinske said...

The only yellow bus transportation to Garfield is by application to the transportation department, on a space-available basis, in the MORNING ONLY, for any student (in any program) who lives in an area served by buses going to Washington Middle School. North-end students don't go to WMS any longer, so there are no yellow buses there from the north end.

Helen Schinske

Rabbit said...

"About one third of the south APP cohort is in the Garfield attendance area. In the absence of firmly established and supported APP program at RBHS, I have to think most of those kids will simply stay at Garfield, further diminishing the viability of the RBHS APP program."

Well that would certainly be their choice. But let's remember we are talking about only 1/3 of the 200 or so south end kids - which equals about 67 kids. Now if Garfield cuts many of their AP classes (matching what other neighborhood high schools offerings) and RBHS added those classes, those APP kids living in the Garfield attendance area might just be swayed to go to RBHS.

" A split assumes that a 200 student cohort will work. As Jan pointed out above, that is far from a given"

Splitting the cohort seemed to work out pretty well at the middle school level - I haven't heard any complaints. And, except for the atrocious choice of locations of buildings, the elementary APP split seems to have worked fine too.

". The northend program would presumably have to be located at either Hale or Ingraham. Most northend APP students live in either the Ballard or Roosevelt attendence areas. I'd have to think that again, many north APP students would then choose to return to their "home" schools."

Who knows? It didn't seem to happen at the elementary and MS levels when they split? Hale is not even two miles from Roosevelt and has excellent public transportation options. Ingraham is central too. Close to I-5 and mid way between Ballard and Roosevelt/Hale. It could work out just fine really.

"But it ought to have the right to a certain degree of stability, in whatever building the district chose to house it in"

I totally agree with you here, and I'm not justifying the districts moving programs around like chess pieces, but honestly no alternative program has ever had stability in this district. Alt schools, special ed programs, SBOC, re-entry programs - they all get moved around all the time just because precisely because they are not tied to a specific location. Just ask the NOVA families, they were the most recent victims.

reader said...

Splitting up APP at the high school level would make many more AP classes available in different high schools. How could that be anything other than a plus? Sure, some of the more obscure AP offerings might not be available anywhere. But, having a basic 10 available everywhere seems much better than having 30 in one school and very few in others.

India said...

Just want to remind everyone about the audit and how the Board and MGJ were reprimanded for having meetings with no recorded minutes. These unrecorded meetings were at the time that the new SAP was being formed. Just saying that these boundary lines were not created transparently, and now we see the results.

Howard said...

Rabbit, the middle school and elementary programs are self-contained, while the high school program is not. I do think that makes a difference, for all of the reasons Jan mentioned. While full support from a school's administration is important for any program's success, it might be less critical for the self-contained programs that brought many of their own teachers along (and required fewer of them). While forcing Nova to move was inexcusable, at least they were able to bring all of their students and staff along, allowing them a fighting chance to maintain their school's culture.

As far as the north end goes, it's not so much a matter of location (though Ingraham is at the far north end of the city and has lousy Metro access). It's simply that a halved APP with an poorly defined/unproven program will look very unattractive when compared to Ballard or Roosevelt. And I'm guessing that in the south, families with a Garfield option will make the same calculus. At least in the case of the middle and elementary splits, you were guaranteed a self-contained classroom. Unless they change the high school model, you will be guaranteed nothing.

Rabbit said...

The higher level, and more obscure AP classes that the APP cohort generally take might as well be self contained. It's true they are open to all, but they really are majority APP students. And the few non APP students who do voluntarily take them, and are willing to commit to the heavy and rigorous work load, have every right to be in them.

But I do hear you Howard. You raise some good points that deserve consideration and fleshing out.

gavroche said...

Rabbit said ...
Splitting the cohort seemed to work out pretty well at the middle school level - I haven't heard any complaints. And, except for the atrocious choice of locations of buildings, the elementary APP split seems to have worked fine too.


I beg to differ.

The middle school split resulted in one or more math (algebra) classes being cut from the curriculum because the District decided there weren't enough kids at each location to justify offering that any more.

The MS split also diluted the nationally recognized music program at Washington M.S. Maybe over time there will be two strong programs, one at each school, but not yet.

Some of the best APP teachers left one school for another.

At the elementary level, the APP/ALO combo at Thurgood was riddled with (predicted) problems last year. The ALO Thurgood kids lost their Title I funding after one year because there were fewer FRL kids at the school post-split and the Supt inexplicably raised the threshhold for Title I qualifications.

At Lowell, the TT Minor kids lost their Title I funds immediately because their school was closed.

There have been more split classes and over-sized classes at both APP elementary locations as a direct result of the split.

The two elementary schools are not equitable and their APP cohorts are not the same size.

...To name just a few negative consequences of the splits.

southmom said...

It's not 20 or 30 minutes to Garfield from Rainier Beach, btw. I live near RB, and drive my child to swim team every single day to the pool at Garfield. I take the slow route, by the lake, not by Rainier Ave. It takes about 13-15 minutes. I know. We have timed it many, many times.

Anonymous said...

We live in north Seattle and have a 6th grader who joined APP at Hamilton this year. While I'm sure we'll look at Garfield, I think it's unlikely my student will go there for high school. We are in the Roosevelt attendence area and have an older child who is doing well in IB at Ingraham. I think we're more likely to make a choice that is also geographically convenient. Also, we already know quite a few parents, students and staff at both schools.

How many students join APP at middle school? Do students who joined APP at elementary make different choices for high school than students who joined in middle school? Will the split change that?

As far as placing APP high school at Ingraham, do people envision APP students doing the IB diploma, or Ingraham adding AP classes? There isn't any international high school in the north end, and Ingraham might be a good fit for that. How many programs can you fit into a high school?

Tamara

Jan said...

Or, Tamara, maybe they will just move that IB program somewhere else -- because they certainly don't seem to think that program stability means anything (and oddly, some posters seems to agree -- since NOVA had to endure the (bad) decision of having to move to Meany, etc. etc. -- why shouldn't bad things be able to happen to everyone. Fairness in getting the short end of sticks all around.) Maybe the IB program at Ingraham should go to RBHS (didn't MGJ once suggest moving AS1 there? -- so distance is evidently no object?) I am of course, being facetious. Ingrahams IB program should stay, and grow, where it is, as long as it is working there -- and so should NOVA have, and so should Garfield's APP.


NOVA was moved on false promises and bad analysis, and should have been allowed to stay. The early ed program at Ballard should never have been ended (and the Ballard attendance lines should have been drawn to accommodate its continuation). AS1 should have been kept -- though maybe in a facility better suited to its size, I can't recall). Cooper should not have been closed. Garfield's APP program should stay where, and as, it is -- unless:
1. there is a northend location that works for the north city kids;
2. the northend APP parents (and the parents of the school that will be getting it -- which won't be RHS or Ballard, as they are already too full) support it; and
3. someone has some clue as to whether a "cohort-based" APP program will work for both locations at half its original size.

Jan said...

Tamara: I also agree with you on the international school aspect. I think there should be schools that take the international kids and continue what JSIS and Beacon Hill started -- those kids should be so fluent by the time they leave high school it would make our heads spin. If Ingraham is the right place for that, great!

But I don't see IB as an APP solution. My understanding is that the curriculum is too rigid to meet what APP tries to do (AP calculus in 9th grade for some kids, etc.). For some gifted kids, IB might be a good solution, but not for all-- and the program needs to be flexible enough to have solutions for all.

Jan said...

Melissa/Charlie: Because Danny Westneat (bless his reporter's heart) chose Garfield -- the focus of this thread has been on Garfield overcrowding. Any chance of getting a post (if people know/can find out anything) on a more city-wide/less Garfield/APP take on the SAP. I have heard that JSIS is having bad overcrowding problems. I had thought that maybe the QA/McD thing was going well, but now am not so sure. RBHS is underenrolled, I understand, but am not sure of the numbers. I would love to know how attendance shaped up at Ballard and RHS, and Hale, Ingraham, Sealth, West Seattle, the Center School, STEM, Franklin, Eckstein, Hamilton, Aki -- well, you get the idea.

The Supe got great marks on her evaluation last spring for implementing the SAP. How is it really going?

Rabbit said...

"Or, Tamara, maybe they will just move that IB program somewhere else"

Absolutely no need to do that. Ingraham is under enrolled and at last count had over 200 empty seats. Just about the right amount to house north end APP!

And BTW Ingraham offers many AP classes in addition to IB classes. In fact they offer more AP classes than Hale does, and almost as many as Roosevelt. And that's in addition to the full IB class offerings and dimploma program.

Jan said...

And, when Ingraham becomes more "popular" and people start resenting allowing all of those APP kids for crowding the neighborhood kids out of classrooms, where then, Rabbit? Because, I don't think Ingraham was sized to be underpopulated. If it is, it must be because Ingraham residents have enrolled at private schools, in Option schools, or in choice seats at assignment schools. What has happened at Garfield this year can/may happen anywhere in Seattle -- if a school is perceived as being particularly attrative and people move to the area to obtain access. What will the District do with those ever-so-portable and expendable APP kids then?

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

Jan said "And, when Ingraham becomes more "popular""

Jan, don't you mean "if" Ingraham ever becomes more popular? They have had the acclaimed IB program for over 5 years now and still can't seem to fill the building. How long should the public wait? How long should the school be allowed to run with 200+ vacant seats, while Roosevelt and Ballard, their neighbors, are filled way way past their functional capacity?

And to add insult to injury the building will be remodeled to add extra capacity >?!.!?.

That's what I was talking about in an earlier thread when I said sometimes you have to set emotional ties/issues aside, and make logical decisions. It would be logical to fill empty seats in an overcrowded area right? It would be logical to have north end HS APP in the north end, right?

Jan said...

Rabbit: yes, it is logical to try to fill an underserved building. There are a couple of alternative re-entry programs around, serving kids just out of juvie, or who have been expelled. Would I think it would make sense to house those kids at Ingraham to "fill the underserved building?" No, I would not -- because I think it would be detrimental to the existing programs there, and would drive existing families to drop Ingraham (and prospective ones to not select it). Frankly, there are so few kids now at RBHS that they could probably send a few to Franklin, and bus the rest to Ingraham, and solve the whole RBHS problem. (And if you boarded the windows and turned off the lights at RBHS, you could pay for a lot of bus gasoline.) But would that be good? For anyone? I don't think so.
I think we need to be careful not to do the political thing where we ask an overly simplistic question - and bury all of the complexities of what we are weighing. Whether it makes sense to have high school APP in the northend depends on a number of factors.
First: what damage/harm does it do to the program being moved in?
Do we know that splitting the cohort will work? No. We don't. That doesn't mean it will fail. But it might -- no one seems to have any data that would help. Is there any we can get? I don't know. If not, are we willing to risk destroying APP by splitting the cohort in a way that will destroy the program (because, if the split cohort won't work, APP will have been destroyed -- and no one will be selecting Ingraham for a destroyed program.)

This doesn't strike me as failing to set emotions aside. It's just good stewardship of existing programs that DO work.

Continued

Jan said...

Second, my sense from all the SAP posts last year is that Ingraham is extremely difficult for many north end families to get to -- and thus requires yellow bus rather than Metro service, etc. etc., which Garfield largely does not. Does siting the north end APP cohort at Ingraham under these circumstances make sense? Is it maybe better for northend families to stay at Garfield -- a centrally located school with great bus access -- rather than try to figure out how to get to Ingraham -- or have the District pay for extra buses? Is it enough of a hassle (and a weak enough draw) that the RHS and Ballard APP kids will just stay at those schools (thereby overcrowding them more than they already are? In which case, is the "half" cohort down to about 100 or fewer kids? 100 kids is 25 per grade. I will go out on a dataless limb here and suggest that THAT number will NOT work as a cohort. What now? Ingraham is still not full, and APP is in tatters. And then (since it is not likely that the program can be revived,) do we just say -- oh well, they will "get by somehow?" Or do we then say -- gee, they had a perfectly good, centrally located site, why did we screw that program up so badly, in a botched attempt to fix a different problem (which is -- why can Ingraham not attract north/northwest Seattle students who all seem to want to go to overly full Ballard?

In fact, now that I think of it, now that ALL 8th grade APP kids have a guaranteed right to go to their attendance area schools (if they want to just leave APP), but most somehow ended up choosing GHS, the families choosing GHS in 9th grade must have thought that the value of the cohort program exceeded whatever their attendance area schools (many of which currently have AP, IB, etc. classes already) offered -- or they would have selected those schools (including, for some families, Ballard, RHS, etc.) Why is that such a meaningless piece of data? Why isn't that an incredibly valuable piece of data? That this year -- of all others -- all the APP kids now at Garfield, but who had "rights" to Ballard, Roosevelt, Sealth, Hale, and Ingraham -- still elected to stay with the cohort?

I don't think my arguments are emotional (I no longer have an APP child in the district, and my current Garfield student would have been at Ballard if I could have gotten him in there). But I think this idea that the APP program is this expendable program that on the one hand is disliked and criticized/ridiculed, but on the other hand, is infinitely useful in solving all sorts of capacity problems that the District is too inept or lazy to solve in other ways (Thurgood Marshall) is just plain wrong. NO existing program that is working (NOVA, APP, etc.) should be moved/damaged/sacrificed to "fix" a struggling program. MGJ is not supposed to be taking down the existing programs to get the "boards and nails" to fix up the ones that are not in good shape. That's just cannabalism. She is supposed to be supporting and growing and encouraging the programs that already work well, while simultaneously bringing the resources, energy, and expertise for which we are paying her over $300,000 (including perks) to raise the academic achievement of kids in struggling programs or schools to a higher level. Anybody can level the dirt by knocking off the tops to fill the holes. We need someone to grow the garden!

wsnorth said...

Let's just get emotional. Let's not let Mao Goodloe Johnson and her gang of 4 ruin our schools any more.

gavroche said...

Good post, Jan.

Yet, if Supt. Goodloe-Johnson's true goal is to lard her resume with false accomplishments and move on, then all the splits, moves, and manipulations make sense (maybe).

Or, to return to the first comment in this thread, if indeed Goodloe-Johnson is "destroying Garfield" -- and APP, and alternative schools, and TOPS' diversity, and all schools' curricular creativity, math mastery, and FILL IN THE BLANK -- "as we know it," maybe it's time to consider again the Chaos Theory as another explanation for our Broad Foundation superintendent's true mission and agenda here in Seattle.

(from an earlier post last year):

why are Broad-trained/indoctrinated Superintendents and "Broad Residents" developing a reputation for creating chaos or mediocrity wherever they go?

See:
Antioch, Calif:
"Foundation cuts ties with Antioch schools," By Hilary Costa
East County Times
http://www.contracostatimes.com/education/ci_12681159

Or Portland, Oregon: "The Broad Foundation and Portland Public Schools" http://www.ourglobaleducation.com/2009/04/broad-foundation-and-portland-public.html

And right here in Seattle:
"The Broad Foundation" http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2009/07/broad-foundation.html

Here's one theory:

Chaos Theory

Another troubling factor in all this is the Broad Foundation's stated objective (or M.O.) of "honing in on" troubled school districts that either are in bankruptcy or have been taken over by the city/mayor.

Neither of these conditions is currently true in Seattle.

In fact, despite a poorly run overstaffed central administrative office (full of Broad Residents, apparently -- which may explain its bloatedness!), Seattle's public schools, by and large, are quite strong, with some nationally recognized schools and programs. Yes, there are weak areas and inequities that should be addressed.

So how does Broad (rhymes with "toad") plan to make its case for a privatized takeover of Seattle Public Schools via charters if our district isn't asking for this?

It would, in theory, need to create an environment that is "ripe" (to use one of Broad's own terms) for charters to move in.

How does it do that?

Looking at all the mind-boggling, reckless, rushed and illogical decisions and changes made by this School District these past two years under the leadership of Broad board member and graduate, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, with no clear benefits in sight, one might question this Superintendent's objectives for our District.


(continued)

gavroche said...

Chaos Theory (continued)

Are she and her admin staff (larded with Broadies) genuinely trying to improve Seattle Public Schools, make them strong and desirable for all the kids in the city and lure back the high percentage of private school attendees into the public system?

Will school closures that ignore demographic trends and community needs, teacher layoffs, mindlessly standardizing curricula, implementing a failed math curriculum, weakening alternative and highly capable schools, abolishing fresh cooked meals for middle and high schoolers in favor of central kitchen airplane food -- add up to a stronger, more desirable School District?

Or do these "reforms" create chaos and mistrust and weaken schools and parents' faith in the system, and potentially open the door to a public cry for the city to take over the School District? If so, Mission Accomplished, from the Broad perspective, and the next step would be to present the idea of privately run charters as a "solution."

This, of course, is just a theory -- a "Chaos Theory" if you will.

But it really has been difficult to see how Goodloe-Johnson's erratic, poorly executed "Plan for Excellence," which has disenfranchised parents, has little to no community buy-in, and has elements that seem shrouded in secrecy, is putting our kids and their schools on a positive, stronger path.

This is not a new story. There are always those who come from the corporate world who believe that the corporate way to run a business is applicable everywhere.

Well, there's ample evidence that that's just not true.

Our country just finished 8 years under the "leadership" of the first U.S. president with an MBA, and look where that landed us -- in two quagmires overseas and an economy in a tailspin such as we've not seen since the Great Depression.

We now have ample evidence of the for-profit, oversight-free "business models" of the Ken Lays and Bernie Madoffs, Phil Gramms, Kerry Killingers, etc. etc, of the world, and it has left our nation in ruins.

The Broad/Gates-types are the same kind of people who wanted to privatize Social Security. Thank God that didn't happen, for look where everyone's retirement savings would be now.

Above all -- and this is the heart of the matter for me and for many others on this blog I would venture to guess -- our children are not commodities. Their schools are not "enterprises." Their principals are not "CEOs."
Their learning is not a "profit" opportunity. (These are all terms quoted from Broad literature.)

Successful schools are collaborative, creative communities in which parents have a say and teachers are respected, principals are members of the team, and children are the primary focus.

Howard said...

Jan is right. More than half of an "APP North" cohort lives in either the Ballard or Roosevelt attendance areas. I can no longer find the table on the district web site that shows APP students by high school attendance area, but this map is probably close enough to illustrate the problem. Ingraham would be lucky to get as many as 100 in an APP North program.

The NSAP makes it virtually impossible to simply move APP kids around the chessboard and declare victory. More than half of them now have a guaranteed seat at a known, and by SPS standards attractive, quantity. Why would they take a chance on a school administration somewhere else that may or may not be interested in supporting them, and a cohort that may or may not be viable? They won't. Parents know that if a APP moves, the new school is not obligated to do anything new to support their kids beyond ensuring that they have (by some time in November, maybe) six classes to attend. Not that there's anything wrong with Ingraham; I know a number of families are quite happy with it, aside from the total lack of access via Metro. (A three bus trip from NE Seattle) Nonetheless, it's not attracting rising APP 9th graders in large numbers now, and a proclamation from downtown won't change that a whit.

If Ingraham is underenrolled and RHS and BHS are overenrolled, the proper district response is to acknowledge their mistake and fix the boundaries.

Marion said...

What is the idea behind AP courses that are required for all students (like the AP Language and Composition course at RHS which states: All Roosevelt High School students, beginning with the class of 2012, will be expected to complete this course to qualify for graduation.)

RHS seems to be moving in the direction of requiring all students to take AP courses - doesn't that make them in effect "regular ed" courses?

This seems a great injustice to advanced and regular ed students, not to mention a disservice to students that find regular classes academically challenging.

Is this just another way to artificially inflate the numbers of SPS students taking AP courses.

Dorothy Neville said...

Marion, in a word. Yes. Yes and Yes.

Rabbit said...

"More than half of an "APP North" cohort lives in either the Ballard or Roosevelt attendance areas"

No need to find a table. It's exactly as it should be. There are 4 north end high schools. Half the kids live in the Ballard and Roosevelt area, and the other half live in the Hale and Ingraham areas.

Jan said...

Rabbit -- I think you are right. But it means that an APP at Ingraham would get (1) the Ingraham APP kids (but maybe not all of them -- because if Ingraham is currently underenrolled, it must mean that some Ingraham kids are either going to Option schools (Center/STEM) or are taking choice seats somewhere -- and it might be that APP kids would do the same), and (2) the Hale APP kids -- but again, my sense is that is an awful commute, and again, there might be attrition to Center/Stem/or choice seats in other schools.

But -- it wouldn't surprise me if the District does try it. They do virtually no analysis on these things, and seem to care not a bit about whether they work (since the Board never requires any legitimate (not cooked) advance analysis, or any meaningful follow up). So -- if this is what happens, I hope I am wrong and that it works.

G said...

My take on it is that the district is not going to DO anything. It is going to let attrition away from the Garfield APP cohort play out naturally. After next year, the north and south APP kids will not even know each other, having been at their respective north and south APP schools for many years. This year's 7th grade will not have been with the other half of the cohort since 5th grade by the time they enter high school. Families will be comfortable being closer to home, and Ballard and Roosevelt seem to offer enough advanced classes to keep kids challenged. Ingraham has IB and Hale will surely add more AP courses with standardization. The district doesn't NEED to DO anything it hasn't already done, which is lay the groundwork for families choosing their neighborhood schools, which seems to be their ultimate goal. Students living in the south will probably need the preference to Garfield for the next many years, until all high schools are excellent, and I would imagine the north would be offered the preference, but fewer families will want or need to take advantage of it. That's just the way I see it playing out.

Jan said...

G -- good points all. Your scenario sounds very plausible.

gavroche said...

G said...My take on it is that the district is not going to DO anything. It is going to let attrition away from the Garfield APP cohort play out naturally. After next year, the north and south APP kids will not even know each other, having been at their respective north and south APP schools for many years.

I don't understand your logic here.

The reason for the cohort isn't about the kids knowing each other. It's about having a critical mass of kids with similar needs and capacities together in one program, enough to fill classrooms, enough to offer a complete curriculum.

They don't need to know each other for years to make that work. So I don't see any problem with north-end and south-end APP kids meeting for the first time at Garfield.

G said...

The district doesn't care about people knowing each other. I just think if a family lives north, has kids at Hamilton, has never had to venture farther south than Lowell, the likelihood of staying north, all things being pretty equal, is high. There is a strong Washington tradition that comes into Garfield. Will that same school spirit exist at Hamilton? I highly doubt it. Roosevelt offers Latin, advanced math, and if a kid comes in with high school credit in physical science and biology from middle school, how could they be denied chemistry as a freshman? They are actively working to do away with any science electives, so the marine bio and genetics at Garfield may, so sadly, not be an option. It's all about standardization, so any APP kid can go to any high school and get the same thing. Unfortunately, Garfield will be the big loser in this campaign to make all schools equal (ly the same).

hschinske said...

Well, there's the sibling effect to be considered. I think my son who's now a 7th-grader at Hamilton is going to be strongly influenced to go to Garfield because of the music program; he's seen his sister perform under Tsut and Ms. Burton and is going to want to be in that orchestra and choir himself. (Not that Ballard's orchestra and choir are at all bad, mind you.) And I'm not anxious to have my kids end up at three different high schools. I think it would be good for them to have more shared memories: even if they're not there at the same time, they'll have lots of the same teachers.

All the same, as we did when his older sisters were going into 9th, we'll be taking a good hard look at Ballard and Ingraham.

Helen Schinske

seattle citizen said...

Ballard's music program is super-fantastic. Mr James and Ms Rowley are very, very good at what they do!

Bashe said...

I'm the parent of a 7th grader who's tested into APP, but does not and will not attend Hamilton, and is therefore unlikely to get into Garfield. Just want to thank all of the parents who've posted here -- you are the source of better, more honest, and more in-depth information than anything I could glean from the edu-crats and apparatchiki at SPS. Guess we'll have to go to Hale now. Sigh.