Monday, January 24, 2011

Holy Cow! Not Just Education Cuts but Eliminations

Update 7:03 p.m.: It appears that the amendment to eliminate funding for highly capable programs and full-day K (except for high poverty schools) has FAILED. It is unclear to me whether the highly capable funding is going to still be suspended for this year but we'll probably know this week.

There was a sigh of relief last week over the state funding for highly capable programs (called Advanced Learning in SPS). However, the funding is again being threatened. A so-called "striker amendment" introduced by Rep. Alexander has appeared in Appropriations bill 1086.

What is particularly onerous about this amendment is not that it cuts some funding; it would eliminate all state funding for highly capable programs.

Allocations for school district programs for highly capable students shall be distributed at a maximum rate of $401.08 per funded student for the 2009-10 school year and $401.08 per funded student for the portion of the 2010-11 school year from September 1, 2010, to
January 31, 2011, exclusive of salary and benefit adjustments pursuant to section 504 of this act. Effective March 1, 2011, the highly capable students program shall be eliminated. The number of funded students shall be a maximum of 2.314 percent of each district's full- time equivalent basic education enrollment.

Reading further down (I received an alert only about the highly capable funding), it says:

Effective March 1, 2011, funding for full-day kindergarten grants is eliminated.

It goes on to state that the state would only fund about 20% of kindergartens in full-day K with priority given to the schools with the highest poverty levels. As well, it would continue with school districts being required to provide the full-day program to children of parents who request it in each eligible school. I read that to mean that if parents want full-day K, districts have to find a way to provide it (including making parents pay for the extra half-day not funded by the state).

What about districts where they can't charge parents but don't meet the highest poverty levels? This seems to be going backwards from where we want to be.

Here's how to contact your legislator - please do it TODAY as this may come to the floor quickly.

73 comments:

zb said...

These horrors are going to keep coming. They're an inevitable consequence of the no taxes demand made in the initiatives of the last election.

It's worth lobbying if you care enough about one program that you''re happy to see another cut, but I can't do it. Olympia is cutting everything, everything.

public school mom said...

Yes, ZB, you are right. We are reaping what we have sowed.

How can we fight to save funding for advanced learning and full day K, when we have said clearly that we do not want to pay the taxes that fund those programs? Forget about income tax, we are unwilling to even pay a soda pop tax.

Maybe Washington state citizens will think twice the next time they are asked to approve a new tax? Or the next time they are asked to approve a tax cut for their most wealthy citizens?

And besides, if we did fund advanced learning, it would only meant that we have to cut some other support service, like pre-natal care for pregnant mothers who can't afford it or organ transplants for Medicaid recipients (like Arizona did).

The choices are tough when there is not enough funding to go around.

David said...

ZB, I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you saying that parents who are trying to stop the destruction of the APP program are responsible for other cuts? So, stop advocating for APP program and just let it be eliminated, or people will accuse us of not being team players?

Does any other school or program have to endure these kind of attacks? Are TOPS parents not team players for advocating that TOPS stays as is? Are STEM parents not team players for pushing for continued development of that new program?

And, in general, what good does it do to pit school against school and program against program like this? Shouldn't we be trying to figure out instead why people leave Seattle Public Schools for private schools? Isn't the enemy the forces that push people to leave Seattle Public Schools for the private schools, taking their resources and motivation to improve Seattle's public schools with them?

Eric B said...

Olympia has to make how ever many billions in cuts (I don't remember the exact number). If they don't cut APP, then they have to cut health care for disabled seniors or Basic Health or transportation, or whatever. It doesn't seem likely (but definitely worth asking) that they'll cut the sales tax break for out of state coal.

public school mom said...

David, I didn't read ZB's comment as an attack on APP at all. I think he/she is just saying that as a result of Washingtonians not approving tax initiatives this year, and voting down tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens, that it is unrealistic to expect the same type of funding (for all programs not just APP) as we have had in the past.

And she/he is right, everything is a trade off. If APP is funded some other program or social service will be cut. That's just the way it is. Nothing personal.

Doesn't mean you shouldn't fight for your particular program (APP)- but the reality is things will be cut. When you think about full day K, or APP funding VS. a life saving heart transplant for a Medicaid patient, it's puts it into perspective, no?

CCM said...

As an APP parent myself - I see zb's point about available funding in Olympia. This isn't just about funding advanced learning or education- this is about setting priorities for the state budget inclusive of all projects and yes, it's difficult to justify one thing over another without sounding like a "what about me?" whine.

That being said - we all have the right to advocate for funding for what we believe to be the most important programs.

Will it do any good in this climate of severe budget cuts and eliminations - I'm not optimistic.

Just as an FYI - I did vote to extend the candy and soda tax - its insane that it did not pass.

zb said...

"ZB, I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you saying that parents who are trying to stop the destruction of the APP program are responsible for other cuts? So, stop advocating for APP program and just let it be eliminated, or people will accuse us of not being team players?"

No, I'm saying that *I* can't do it. I cannot advocate for advanced learning opportunities. When I say that, I guess I'm saying that I do think that this budget line might well result in cuts on prenatal care (and that I care more about prenatal care for the indigent). I wouldn't deny someone else's choice to advocate for advanced learning, because it's not unreasonable to hope for some other cut for a program they think is less important (which doesn't have to be prenatal care). But Olympia's budgeting process is a zero-sum game.

hschinske said...

All budgeting processes are zero-sum games. I mean, really, you can't go by that.

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Shouldn't we be trying to figure out instead why people leave Seattle Public Schools for private schools? Isn't the enemy the forces that push people to leave Seattle Public Schools for the private schools, taking their resources and motivation to improve Seattle's public schools with them?"

Absolutely, David. And the fact that the district has never shown the slightest interest in this should make you wonder. Why does this district just accept the status quo? I think with the new SAP there are more private school parents who may have come back (witness a much larger 9th grade group). But you have to let people know what's good about SPS and the district does little outreach to do so.

Also, this is ELIMINATION of the funding. Not cuts. I get cuts, I understand that. But we are talking about something completely different from taking a cut.

Lori said...

I've been following this closely since Thanksgiving, when cuts to highly capable (HC) funding were first put out there. There are several APP families trekking down to Olympia regularly to talk face-to-face with legislators. Folks, the situation is dire, and I'm not even sure that that is a strong enough word to describe it. There are going to be serious, painful cuts.

The district is on record with our representatives as saying that if we lose state funding for HC, they will have to eliminate the Advanced Learning Office, and APP and Spectrum, by default, would be phased out. If there is no one to identify kids for testing, provide the testing, etc, then they can no longer enroll new children in future years. Even using MAP to identify kids would require office staff to manage the data, alert families, etc. Are they serious? I don't know. But my rep in the House was the first to tell me that this is what SPS said would result from loss of HC funds, and it was later confirmed by others in the know.

I have since heard that another idea that has some support in Olympia is to further reduce the school year. Shaving another 1-5 days off instruction time could save some money and prevent further program cuts. This stuns me that it is an option, and I think should alert us all to how serious the problem is.

I haven't weighed in on the recent transportation changes, but I have no doubt that this was sprung on everyone entirely because they are scrambling to cut costs. That doesn't make the lack of community engagement appropriate, but personally, I can figure out how to get my daughter to the nearest elementary to catch her bus to Lowell if I have to; it's certainly a better choice than seeing her program phased out instead.

David said...

You're making a false comparison, ZB and Public School Mom. The Seattle Highly Capable funding is only $400k. The entire Highly Capable budget is $2M. Any comparison to large programs like Medicaid and Pre-K is absurd. You make it sound like we have to cut billion dollar programs to fund this one. Completely hyperbolic.

And, given that, it is hard to take this as anything other than yet another attack on APP. The spurious claims that APP receives more funding, that APP students are privileged, it goes on and on. And its all wrong. Alternative programs do not cost the district more to provide. And they attract more parents to our public schools.

The enemy isn't programs that work, attract students to our public schools, and help children. The enemies are the forces that pit us against each other and drive people out of our public schools. We should be doing everything we can to make public schools attractive, which increases participation, public support, and our funding, and stop driving people away.

Lori said...

And one more thing. The fact that SPS goes on record saying that a loss of $400K will result in closure of the Advanced Learning office, yet, meanwhile, they are completely unable to collect Pay4K money worth much, much more makes me insane. SPS has proven itself to be a poor steward of the public's money, and that is a dangerous and frightening thing in the current fiscal environment.

Kathy said...

Zb,

Regarding the anit-tax sentiment, I am afraid you are correct.

For goodness sake, Washington residents voted down tax on candy and bottled water. Very telling.

Our citizens are failing in their civic duty to help provide funding for health care, higher ed, K-12, mental health, homeland security, foster care etc. etc.

In the long run..costs to society will be much greater than a few cents on candy and water. Sad. Very sad.

public school mom said...

Nobody, on this thread, has attacked APP in any way. I think you are directing your anger in the wrong direction. I think you should be angry that the citizens of our state chose to vote down tax initiatives, and tax cuts for the wealthy. That is what is resulting in the cut or elimination of APP, 1/2 day K, and a sea of other services.

Given the dire situation we are in, our first priority must be to fund basic education. Like it or not, all additional services and programs, APP included, are going to have to take some big hits, or even face elimination.

If cutting APP results in two million dollars in savings, you better believe Olympia is going to consider cutting it.

Look, we as a state, either decide that we are willing to pay our fair share in taxes, or we cut programs. It's pretty cut and dry.

Kathy said...

Comparative to other districts, SPS has higher administrative costs by about 2%. The district will need to reduce HQ spending approx $10M- $15M to align with other districts.

I don't think the state will want to fund exceptionally high administrative costs.

Regarding HQ funding vs classroom cuts- I think this will push the hands of the directors:

"the
6 joint legislative audit and review committee shall conduct a study of
7 the relationship between the cost of school districts and their
8 enrollment size. The study shall be completed by June 2010"

Melissa Westbrook said...

Public School Mom, and full day K? Eliminating that for all but the poorest of schools will surely be a burden on many, many parents.

But yes, we, as a state, may have to really feel the pain of cuts before we get that the simple fact that taxes pay for services. Cut away but no fair saying, "hey, what happened to X?"

Lori said...

PS Mom, some clarifications are in order. Eliminating APP does not save $2 million.

SPS receives a total of $400K from the state for ALL highly capable programs. The money funds the Advanced Learning office and goes primarily towards the fall testing, which identifies kids for APP AND Spectrum. So this isn't all about APP; Spectrum families need to know their program is at risk too.

Another wrinkle is that the legislature passed a law a year or two ago saying that highly capable programs ARE basic education for gifted children. They have never been considered basic education before, which has meant that the state has no legal obligation to fund them (remember, our constitution makes education its top priority). Now, the legislature delayed implementing this law until September 2011. If implemented, the state would be legally bound to continue funding HC programs. But the governor and others have proposed kicking the implementation date down the road so that they can cut.

To me, that is like saying that we should just stop giving kids IEPs or doing whatever is legally required for special education, and I hope people would be outraged if that were proposed. However, too many people think HC programs are elitist and they fail to recognize that for some kids, they are instead truly a basic education.

My daughter tuned out in first grade in our neighborhood school, but she is thriving in APP. I have seen first hand how this is in fact the appropriate environment for her; it's actually a little mind-blowing what the transformation has been like for our family. People worked hard to get the legislature to recognize HC as basic education, and taking that away would be disastrous for the kids who truly need it.

emeraldkity said...

Does any other school or program have to endure these kind of attacks?

I have seen special education funding cut, I have seen money meant to address individual needs dispersed to the general school budget & I have seen student :teacher ratios made bigger even for those receive level IV services and seen teachers not being replaced in a timely fashion/replaced with aides.

( all the while being slammed in the papers as not as deserving of time or money as " normal" students)


The educational community shouldn't be divided, we are all trying to get our kids a "good enough "education.

Central Mom said...

People, this is just the beginning of the "cuts" discussion for the coming year. And guess what? Many within central staff are ready and willing to argue that strategic programming at HQ should remain in place. They are ready to pass the cuts on to classrooms via this year's WSS funding.

Don't like it? Pull together and start writing letters and getting your fellow parents involved TODAY. Next budget meeting is tomorrow.

Either *WE* set priorities on the paltry $$ coming from the state next school year, or central will do it for us. Which do you want?

Anonymous said...

I just called Reuven Carlyle's Olympia office and was told that they will be voting on this bill this morning. The staff member indicated that Reuven is fighting it, and that he thinks that Dickerson would likely be doing so as well (no answer at her phone) but that what would be most helpful is to have people from *other districts* calling their representatives to express their concern about this amendment.

Lisa

Dorothy Neville said...

Central Mom means Wednesday for the budget workshop. She is correct that there is significant push among central staff and some board members to protect the central office and their strategic plans, sacrificing the WSS to do that. Not all board members, but enough to be alarming.

We must be informed and organized.

Bird said...

Which board memembers want to protect central adminstration?

Which are swayable?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think that all the Board members (save Peter and Steve) clearly see that Central is too large. It operates at a larger size than most districts and, as well, a lot of that growth is around the Strategic Plan. They ALL seem to get that the Strategic Plan needs to be shrunk, some areas put on hold and some eliminated.

Sherry and Michael have shown the most significant concern over the size of Central.

I think both Steve and Peter (as well as Harium, perhaps) are swayable. Whether it's election year for them or because they are concerned over the budget (or both), they are likely to listen.

The problem for Advanced Learning (and the district and the Board)is if the funding is cut off, what happens then? I did write to Bob Vaughn and pose this question but I think he's waiting to see what happens.

Will the district use MAP for testing (is that even reasonable)? Even if you did, you'd still need some staff to pull scores and assign students to APP and Spectrum.

Would the district let the program just collapse and tell parents that they'll differentiate curriculum for those students in the regular ed classroom?

As someone pointed out, it might be tricky with APP students as they might be able to say they are part of Special Ed.

I don't know the answers but to completely pull the rug out from under schools - eliminating rather than cutting funding - seems unfair and bound to cause a lot of trouble.

Charlie Mas said...

Consider this: If this funding is lost, then the District will not be able to conduct testing - primarily the CogAT - for eligibility for APP or Spectrum.

What then?

Will the District rely entirely on MAP and MSP scores to determine eligibility? Or will no students be admitted to the programs next year?

In either case, it will seriously mess up the programs' continuity.

Consider this possibility: The District simply stops admitting new students to the program and they end the programs as students age out of their schools. So next year APP is a 2-5, 7-8 program. Then, in 2012, it is a 3-5, 8 program. Then in 2013 it is for grades 4 and 5 only.

If that were to happen, then maybe all of these students will get served in their attendance area schools through either differentiated instruction or ALOs (whatever they are).

The District could take this as an opportunity to institute self-selected Spectrum. The District could set very liberal criteria for Spectrum eligibility - say passage of the MSP or a cut score on the fall or winter MAP - and clear, strict criteria for retaining eligibility. Students who didn't keep up with the class would be dropped from it and couldn't re-apply for a year.

In either case, APP would be disbursed. That would mean MUCH WORSE overcrowding in the Eckstein service area, in both the elementary and middle schools. It would also leave Thurgood Marshall more than half empty. Washington and Hamilton would see some relief from their crowding, but probably wouldn't be too far under capacity. I suspect we would see improved test scores and enrollment at McClure and Madison.

It raises an intriguing question: What if there were no more APP?

maureen said...

Overly simplistic market share analysis time:

The entire Highly Capable budget is $2M

If state per student funding is $8,000 (I can't track down a real number, you would think that LEV would have a stats page.)

Then if the existance of Advanced Learning keeps more than 250 kids in public school, it makes money for the District.

Does it? I have no idea.

I believe transportation reimbursement nets positive for APP kids, so that (for now) that would make the tipping point number lower than 250.

I wonder if eliminating or charging for full day K drives many families to private? It certainly makes the net cost of private smaller and if people go private for K, it's that much harder to pull them back for 1st-12th. Of course we don't have any data on that either do we?

It seems to me that spending an equivalent $2,000,000 on MAP testing or teacher evaluation schemes couldn't be tracked to keeping any kids in District, so is all net cost.

Anonymous said...

"It raises an intriguing question: What if there were no more APP?"

I think MGJ would say, "Mission Accomplished."

APP Parent

nacmom said...

Well, I agree wtih Lori. This impacts not just APP, but also Spectrum and ALO! So, basically, kids in many schools throughout the district.

Yes, people voted down the tax increases. I think mostly because they don't trust Olympia to prioritize, spend judiciously, and align with their priorities. Coming from another part of the country where education funding is much more protected, I always wonder why it is so vulnerable: 1) tied to sales tax (highly variable), and 2) part of general fund.

To truly protect ed. funding, the legislation would need to change. I many places in the country, you get a real estate tax bill AND a school tax bill. Separate. Protected. Oh, and not coincidentally, MUCH more money than we pay here. Kind of like the levy funding, but on steroids and not subject passing in an election.

Even before the voting down of taxes in the fall, we paid a paltry sum in form of real estate taxes, and no income tax. You get what you pay for and education, due to how it's funding is structured in WA, is perpetually on the chopping block.

Know that elminating HC learning will eventually hurt the district a lot. People will opt out - move or private... Not all at once, and probably quietly - but result will be even less funding and loss of supportive, involved families. That should help close the achievement gap!

Trick here? the district is only losing $400k (for this, but it's cumulative hole is staggering), so it can keep HC or AL programs, likley by eliminating testing or seriously restricting it. Or restructure programs to start at 3rd grade and provide ALO/diff. instruction at 1st & 2nd. Or other...

maureen said...

It raises an intriguing question: What if there were no more APP?

There is evidence, that early testing for gifted programs leaves out many children who would qualify if tested later. What if SPS did have to give up testing kindergarteners and 1st graders for a year or two? Would it really destroy the program to have them wait until 3rd grade to qualify? It would certainly relieve some crowding at Lowell to start the program at 3rd. It seems that so many kids come in through out the early grades that acceleration is pretty minimal then. Could the program survive a few years of no new 1st-2nd graders and new 3rd-7th admitted based on MAP and teacher recommendations? Why would there have to be Advanced Learning staff to process those applications? Couldn't Enrollment staff do it in January before open enrollment starts?

WSS Hackers said...

I suspect Peter Maier, Steve Sundquist and possibly H. Martin-Morris will attempt to preserve HQ positions, while hacking funds from WSS.

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

It seems that so many kids come in through out the early grades that acceleration is pretty minimal then.

I don't think I understand this statement. Can you clarify?

I don't have a kid in APP, but I can easily imagine it being very important for some kids even at 1st and 2nd grade.

I'm not interested in cutting this program for a mere $400,000, until I see a lot of other cuts and roll backs.

If we are paying for curriculum alignment this year, I say delay that.

If we are paying for coaches, I say cut them.

If we are paying for MGJ "performance management" program, I say end it.

I say nothing new, if we can't pay for existing programs.

And I hope that we won't be paying for any consultants, travel or retirement parties this year.

Cut MGJ salary by $100,000. If she doesn't like it, fire her and find someone who will work for a lower salary (like all our previous superintendents).

In fact, it might be a good time to get rid of MGJ, and look for a new superintendent who has expertise and bias for running an organization in tight times, rather than one is always looking to expand the adminstration with a variety of costly "improvements".

I've been very impressed over the past three years to watch the disjunct between MGJ's desire for the new and costly when we are operating in very grim financial times. She really seems to be the wrong person to lead SPS at thsi time.

maureen said...

I like Bird's budget suggestions!

Re acceleration in 1st-2nd. I don't have a kid enrolled in APP either, but it's my understanding (from reading here and on the APP blog) that they don't get close to two years acceleration until later in elementary, in part because so many new kids come in in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, that haven't already been taught the standards for their grade and while they can go fast, they can't go fast enough to teach three years of material in one year.

I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong!

I recognize that APP can be important for 1st and 2nd graders, but it seems that the program could survive for a few years with later entry (other school Districts do it that way.)

Lori said...

We moved to APP this year for 2nd grade. Last year's 1st graders had done the Every Day Math curriculum for 1st and 2nd grade. So the class started from day 1 on the 3rd grade curriculum (so 1 year ahead at that point).

My materials from curriculum nite state that 2nd grade APP is a "foundational year" that covers all of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. By the end of the 3rd grade, the kids will have completed both the 4th and 5th grade curricula. So five years of math is taught over 3 years. By the 4th grade, they are starting with the middle school work books.

Kathy said...

Bird,

The district will attempt to find a number to define teacher effectiveness. Consultants WILL be hired.

This, is educational research.

We have NO business paying for research when our children are suffering.

Besides, in the past, these numbers have been proven to be ineffective markers of teacher effectiveness.

hschinske said...

Put it this way: they're cutting these programs in order to save a whopping NINE BUCKS PER KID. ($400,000 divided by 45,000 kids is about $8.89.) I don't know what it comes to statewide, but I bet it's even less.

it's my understanding (from reading here and on the APP blog) that they don't get close to two years acceleration until later in elementary

The whole "two years ahead" thing is nothing but a vague rule of thumb. There's no real way to document it except in math. In my experience, it's some of the teachers and administrators who hold the curriculum back, not the kids' capabilities. There are plenty of parents who think that the curriculum could be accelerated a good bit more (as long as the demands were kept age-appropriate -- you can't just make third-graders write as much as sixth-graders are supposed to, though a few of them can, but you can take the instruction to a high conceptual level).

APP math, in fact, actually slows down in fourth and fifth grade, when they take two years to go through the sixth-grade Connected Math books.

Helen Schinske

Greg Linden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SolvayGirl1972 said...

FYI...The Northwest School—private 6–12—had enrollment applications UP 13% from last year. I think there is a growing number of people unhappy with SPS and wiling to make the sacrifices to insure their kids get a good education. My guess is these are people unhappy with their neighborhood assignment. I'd be curious to see where they all come from geographically.

Bird said...

I have to say I find it ironic to receive a "School Beat" email today that tells me in one blurb that there is an additional $5 million budget shortfall while another blurb goes on about the ongoing work to redesign the district's website.

Priorities?

ParentofThree said...

That web site redesign had a $700,000 price tag. Bets on how much over budget it will go?

public school mom said...

" some clarifications are in order. Eliminating APP does not save $2 million. SPS receives a total of $400K from the state for ALL highly capable programs"

It's 2 million state wide. Olympia is looking at statewide figures, not just Seattle.

public school mom said...

"It raises an intriguing question: What if there were no more APP?"

Hmmm....I'm pondering that question.

In most districts gifted programs are only offered in elementary school. They are not offered at MS and HS because those students have access to honors classes, AP and IB classes, running start, and so much more. Honestly I don't think we'd miss APP that much at the HS level.

If your HS student absolutely must have a class that the HS doesn't offer, they can take that class through Running start at community college, for free.

In elementary school, I think Maureen is right, in that the program is not working two years ahead in grades 1 and 2, so would we miss that very much? So that only leaves grades 3,4, and 5. Could we have ALO programs on steroids for students in grades 3,4 and 5? Would that fit the bill?

Nobody wants to see APP gone.....but something has to give. There is not much else left to cut, at least at the school level.

And of course I agree that every single possible cut from Central needs to happen before one single classroom cut.

Anonymous said...

So, if the APP funding is eliminated, and APP is then eliminated, then won't the district loose the Federal Grant for APP transportation, which subsizes transportation for all students, which will then mean that further cuts to transporation will be needed?

APP Parent

Jan said...

There isn't anything inherently sacred about the way we currently do APP/Spectrum, but that is not the same thing as saying it would work to do nothing.

Early elementary APP: my APP kids was fine for elementary school in Spectrum - in fact, I think it was a better placement. BUT -- I know of kids for whom a regular classroom would have been a terrible disaster. Kids reading at a 6th/7th grade level in first grade. Kids ready for upper level algebra and trig by 3rd or 4th grade. Not only is it difficult for the classroom teacher to try to differentiate over that margin (without just using the kid as a "teachers helper," as differentiation) it is really bad for the child. They learn terrible work habits; they may be socially isolated. Some become so angry and frustrated that they simply refuse to comply, or try. It is no different than putting SPED kids in a regular class and torturing them with material or pedagogy that doesn't work for them. I don't know if we HAVE to have Lowell, but I disagree that all kids will be just fine if we force them to twiddle away their lives, until age 9, in regular classrooms.

For high school -- since there are no "separate classes" (at least at Garfield), and no entry level after 8th grade (ridiculous though that is), there is really no cost to the program. There is just the benefit of the APP transportation money. They could continue the program as is (and I assume, could run the accelerated IB program as planned) without any new dollars -- though at some point, there has to be a way to get into the system so that you are "there" by high school -- and there are costs for whatever that function is.

For middle school, again, it doesn't have to look like current APP, but I personally know of kids who transferred (from TOPS, Wedgwood Spectrum, etc.) to WMS at 6th grade and had the same "aha" experiences that elementary kids often do. Their grades improve, they become socially less isolated, etc.

I totally acknowledge what zb and public school mom are saying -- how do we advocate for any one thing, when it essentially means we advocate to cut somewhere else, but all these kids have to be taught. They all will have "butts in seats." We can't just say that we will no longer fund the identification of any kids outside the "basic" ed paradigm. Hmm. Maybe we can get Gates or another ed foundation to give us the money as a grant.

And as for the state law? They are right. Accelerated ed IS basic ed for gifted kids. It is the only education that teaches them anything.

Rufus X said...

Wouldn't swear to it, but I think I see the words striker, amendment, and FAILED down at the bottom: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1086

mint chocolate chip said...

WTF, Jan? SpEd parents have to fight (and in my case, fork over thousands to lawyers) to get a basic education. It's not "torture". I've never seen a SpEd parent ask to dumb down their kid's education. It's always the District trying to toss kids on IEPs in resource rooms to color and do puzzles while the gen-ed kids get taught a real curriculum. I've got an APP kid, too, but comparing the situation of an APP kid to a kid on an IEP is specious. Which kid do you REALLY think the cuts will hurt more?

emeraldkity said...

UCDS which originally was a research project on gifted preschoolers at the UW, had so many people who wanted to go on tours for the next year, that they quit taking names before Christmas.
( & you can't apply unless you go on a tour- Tours are held in Jan)

( My kids are " twice-gifted"- try & get that addressed in SPS- it ain't easy)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Public School Mom, I don't know what districts you are referring to but many DO offer gifted programming for middle and high school, including Bellevue (and I'm going to have a thread on them because they have some interesting things happening over there). What is offered is SPS is pretty minimal compared to what others offer.

I can see Spectrum being dissolved for budget cuts but not APP. ALOs on steroids would not be APP.

Thank you, Rufus. Yes, it appears Rep. Alexander's amendment failed today. All the other amendments either failed, were out of order or passed. None were about education. I have no idea why Rep. Alexander went after K-12 so hard.

dj said...

Oh, how I love watching the same couple of posters sharpen their knives for APP every time there is one of these threads.

public school mom said...

Melissa, why do you support APP in high school? I don't have an APP kid so maybe I just don't get it?? Most High schools offer honors classes, AP, IB, or Running start. All of these are advanced, college level, courses. Why couldn't an advanced high school students needs be met in some combination of these courses?

As for what other districts offer, I'm afraid Bellevue is an outlier. Most offer nothing for the highly capable (other than AP, IB, Running Start) past middle school.

Renton: highly capable program only offered through middle school.

Shoreline: Only offered through Elementary school.

Tacoma: Offered through middle school only

Mercer Island: Only offered through middle school. Their website suggests AP courses for high school.

Edmonds: Only offered through middle school. Their website suggests, AP, IB, and running start for high school.

Northshore: only offered through middle school. Website suggests AP, IB, and running start for high school

Federal Way: Only offered through middle school. They suggest AP, IB, The TAF Academy, or Caimbridge Academey for highly capable kids in high school. TAF, and Caimbridge are rigorous academies, like STEM, but not dedicated to the highly capable.

So, yes, maybe Bellevue offers an "advanced program" in high school it's definitely not the norm.

Jan said...

mint chocolate chip: I think you have misunderstood me. I am a SPED parent. I have a child whose IEP is on the verge, now, of collapse, because the space he needs at his seriously overcrowded high school to have it implemented is being taken away from the SPED department, due to the overcrowding from NSAP. I am not saying that SPED kids shouldn't be in regular classes. I am saying that they, like APP kids, need to be taught with pedagogy and classes (and accmmodations) that meet their needs.

But I will not do the divide and conquer thing. I will NOT throw APP kids under the bus because my SPED kid is getting royally shafted at Garfield. They are ALL our kids. I have seen gifted kids -- the really off the chart brilliant ones --fail -- as in drop out of high school and NEVER (well, at least 10 years later, and I still am watching) recover -- after being denied access to gifted education. Were there other issues? Maybe, I don't know. But it was no different than the fear of maybe seeing my own SPED kid, with his now maybe impossible to implement IEP, struggle with a District that has its priorities screwed up. "Basic ed" for my SPED kid means access to regular and honors classes with accommodations that are going away. Basic ed for APP kids means accelerated content with access to similarly gifted minds to learn with. We may lose both. But I refuse to not fight for both.

At least, with APP, I sort of know what to advocate for. SPED in this District seems so horrendously and completely screwed up, and is kept so secred by the staff, that I don't even know where to start. Really, mint chocolate chip -- if you do -- tell me. Because I am ready to rattle some cages.

anne said...

That's really interesting about the private school application surge. I also heard that Seattle Prep was up 40% from last year...Is it that Garfield is so crowded?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Public School Mom, what part of "there is NO APP program in SPS" do you not get? APP in high school IS honors, AP and Running Start. All the district gave APP kids who came from Washington (and now Hamilton) is the opportunity to move as a group to Garfield in order to support a higher number of AP classes. That's it.

Bellevue is the one with the gifted high school program.

And you were the one who said there's weren't gifted programs in middle school and then you go and list a lot of them. Interesting what you learn when you do the research.

Anne, I think once every address in Seattle was attached to a school, many private school parents gave it a look. I also think some of them tried Garfield, saw what an overcrowded, under-prepared mess it was the first week and promptly fled. I'm sure the word got out.

That's one hilarious issue; even if we did get, say, 5% of the private school kids back, could SPS even handle the influx? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

According to Shoreline's website:

Once a student is eligible for the program (tested in), they are considered to be "highly capable" until they graduate. Shoreline receives highly capable funding from the state on a per-student basis. These funds are dispersed to the schools that house the students who have been determined to be "highly capable" (self-contained as well as students who stay in the general education program). As students move to the secondary level, the funding is allocated to their respective middle school or high school and used to support honors-level materials and activities.

My understanding is that the Shoreline program is self-contained in elementary, then students are supported in appropriate honors level classes in middle school. Middle school starts in 7th grade.

Just sayin'

zb said...

"That's one hilarious issue; even if we did get, say, 5% of the private school kids back, could SPS even handle the influx? I doubt it."

I think you're right. And, in fact, as we know, SPS is offering incentives to get students to leave Garfield. So my guess is the worry that students will leave for private schools really isn't high on SPS's list of worries right now, as long as these children are leaving from popular schools. And, those children are effectively leaving from popular schools because we know that folks followed a pattern if they were in areas with unpopular schools: to look for option/choice/APP access to more popular schools. If that failed, they'd look for private options. As the SPS squeezed the opportunity to escape to more popular schools, those parents go directly to private schools.

Since the popular schools are over crowded now (because the NSAP means that enrollment can't be capped but must stretch to fit the group of students who are guaranteed access to the school), the school district doesn't have much of an incentive to keep students in those schools, unless so many leave that it's no longer popular.

Anonymous said...

Why are we so provincial when it comes to assessing the state of our advanced learning programs? We always hear comparisons--sometimes favorable, sometimes not--to Shoreline, Renton, or Bellevue. Meanwhile, no one mentions how paltry our programs are, particularly at the high school level, compared with cities like New York, San Francisco, or Boston.

--Wants to live in a world class city

David said...

ZB writes, "Since the popular schools are over crowded now ... the school district doesn't have much of an incentive to keep students in those schools."

That's exactly the wrong attitude. The school district should be expanding successful and popular programs, not seeing them as a problem.

Aside from the basic idea of building on successes, there is also the fact that more students yields more per-pupil funding from the state and more popular support for local funding. Attracting students away from private schools means getting motivated parents with resources back into our public schools, which helps everyone in our public schools.

If the central office currently sees there job as making their most attractive and successful schools less attractive and successful so that they have fewer students, then something is seriously broken. Instead, the central office should be doing everything they can to build on and expand on programs and schools that are attractive and successful.

dj said...

David, could not agree with you more.

But instead of trying to replicate successful programs or figure out creative ways to give kids more access to them (the split schedule suggestion at Garfield, for example, or opening more hugely-popular language immersion schools in areas that do not have them), the district, and some posters here, seem to think that the right approach is to try to incentive or force people out of popular, successful programs and into unpopular, unsuccessful programs in the hopes that somehow the mere presence of those people in those schools will improve the schools.

You can see how well that approach is working even to date with the NSAP, where the popular schools are now stuffed to the gills while the unpopular schools continue to be underenrolled. Pretty soon the "attendance area" for Rainier Beach will be the entire south end.

APP is a popular, successful program that has the side benefit of keeping parents in public schools while drawing them off of popular schools (as APP attendance is tilted towards kids from schools that are popular, not unpopular as suggested upthread), and it provides transportation subsidies for *other* kids getting transportation to non-APP programs such as, oh, say, TOPS. You would think people would view it as win-win-win, but, not so much.

Maureen said...

I think it's crazy that Washington doesn't fund full day kindergarten. Maybe we could get Gates to pay for that for a year or two? I think something like $6,000,0000 per year would cover it including the 18 schools that have been covered by the state.

Lori said...

I got an email less than an hour ago that says that the Senate's Ways and Means Committee is discussing the HC funding bill recently passed by the House TODAY.

There is still time to email Senator Ed Murray, the committee chair, and other members of the committee if you are interested in having the current year's HC money NOT cut from the current budget (ie, you don't want SPS to have to pay back the money it's already spent on testing and AL services so far this year).

zb said...

"That's exactly the wrong attitude. The school district should be expanding successful and popular programs, not seeing them as a problem."

That would be effective,if programs were actually replicable without the student population they serve. But they're not. So Garfield's "program" can't be replicated without the students it serves.

In fact, they're trying to make a less popular school popular (Ingraham) by trying to attract a population & and trying to provide a program.

Bird said...

I think something like $6,000,0000 per year would cover it including the 18 schools that have been covered by the state.

If it's really only $6 mil, maybe we could all just cough up a dollar.

There's more the 6 million people in the state.

Bird said...

That would be effective,if programs were actually replicable without the student population they serve. But they're not.

Language immersion is.

TechyMom said...

As are Montessori and IB, and Spectrum in areas where there are wait lists.

cascade said...

State and local political blog Publicola reports that 1500 teachers will lose their jobs, statewide, next year because of K-4 class size funding allocations yanked in Olympia today.

A conservative think tank tried to defend the decision that class size does not matter via the comments. A couple of people countered.

See for yourselves.

zb said...

Do language immersion or montessori cost money?

Spectrum doesn't, except to the extent that you can't serve your student population that way.

I don't think the Gates foundation is going to cough up funds to back-fill what WA taxpayers aren't willing to pay, anyway. Given the amount of money that the Gates-income tax proposal was going to fund, I did consider whether it should have been re-configured as a say, 10 million dollar tax on WA billionaires. I wonder if that would have passed.

Bird said...

Do language immersion or montessori cost money?

I don't know anything about montessori.

I went to the McDonald meeting where Karen Kodama spoke about starting a new immersion school.

She said in the past $100K was given for starting a school. She'd like $75K to be given to a school the following year, but said that has never happened except at Ingraham.

Bree Dusseault thought there would be some money offered to start language immersion at McDonald but not $100K.

There are some necessary costs involving buying some materials in the target languages, classroom libraries and such.

Also the PTA at JSIS raises money every year to pay for instructional assistants in the immersion classes.

Class size is very high. It was 31 at the start of first grade this year.

I've been told before that JSIS has relatively high class sizes in the early grade because it is not necessarily easy to replace kids if some drop out.

This large class size and the fact that the kids are learning a second language make the IA's a top priority for parent funding.

dj said...

When my daughter was in an SPS Montessori program, the materials were funded by parent donations and by a very modest amount of grant money (you needed the teacher anyway and that didn't cost extra $). It created a genuinely racially and socioeconomically diverse program with a waitlist at a school that was otherwise undersubscribed.

But I see, ZB, that your argument has shifted. First it was that these programs couldn't be replicated. Now that you have been shown that they can be replicated, they cost money. Where are your kids in school again?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"She'd like $75K to be given to a school the following year, but said that has never happened except at Ingraham."

I'll go back and check but I believe in Board discussion on this issue at a Work Session said the foreign language immersion schools do get a little extra funding (like $75k). Karen Kodama would be the one to know for sure but I could swear that staff told the Board those schools got a little more. I'll check.

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

I only know what I heard at McDonald.

She definitely had a slide in her Powerpoint deck that showed $75K for the first year of implementation. I'm pretty sure that deck wasn't put together for the McDonald meeting, so I wouldn't be surprised if she presented it at a work session.

Her comments at McDonald indicated she that was what she would want, not necessarily what all schools would get or have gotten.

No one from the district said McDonald would get that sort of money (indeed they didn't seem to think McDonald would even get the usual start up funds), but we'll have to wait and see to know for sure.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

dj: Montessori teachers don't cost extra money, but after pre-K, they are hard to come by. There are not many places that train and certify Montessori teachers past the pre-K level (though there IS one in Kirkland), so if a new school is being established, there may need to be funding for teacher training. There is an intensive summer program that can be done if a teacher is willing.

When the Bagley program got started, the Principal (who had been at GH) managed to bring a couple of the teachers with her—leaving GH montessori 4-5 graders with a string of subs (non-Montessori) for a while. It may be better now as more schools offer Montessori.

zb said...

"But I see, ZB, that your argument has shifted. First it was that these programs couldn't be replicated. Now that you have been shown that they can be replicated, they cost money. "

My question was, actually, motivated by an agreement that some programs can indeed be replicated (unlike Garfield, and APP, though it might be a program is also significantly a method of selecting a population of students). If so, it's reasonable, I think, to talk about how to replicate those programs, and what barriers might exist (I don't actually believe pigheadedness on the part of is a big part of the problem).

I'm quite pleased to see such a discussion happening here. The startup costs for international schools seem surmountable, if they're in the 75-100K range and are not continuing costs. That kind of money can be found, from grants, and private fundraising.

I would guess that a barrier to both language/montessori could be the availability of trained teachers.

kellie said...

The costs for international and montessori start up costs are specious at best. Because there are no line items in the overall budgets for textbooks (and/or textbook replacement) in general practice (no I am not kidding. Whenever SPS needs to quote start up costs for any type of program, the bulk of the cost that is identified is books.

If books were accounted for in any reasonable fashion, then you would be able to compare whether or not the $100K for language was greater than, less than or the same as the start up costs or the ongoing maintenance costs for any program.