Several quick thoughts on various events/items in the newspaper.
The Seattle Times reports that Bainbridge schools are asking parents to donate a $1 a day next year to help fill budget cuts (works out to $270 a year - they'd need 88% participation to get to their goal of $500k). The there was this:
The district is asking parents to help determine where to make the remaining $500,000 worth of cuts through an online survey. Parents are asked to specify areas that are most important, from class sizes to sports programs.
Where else did they do a survey and actually use it? Oh yeah, over in Bellevue. Here in Seattle, we take surveys that aren't analyzed and used in determining budget (at least not to any discernible degree).
Danny Westneat's Sunday column in the Times was about a program at Garfield, Frankin and West Seattle) to help at-risk students get to college. It is called College Access Now (CAN).
Through last year, 252 kids from low-income families in which nobody has gone to college had gone through this program. And 252 were accepted to college. That's a perfect record, 100 percent, among a demographic group that typically goes to college at less than half that rate.
What was interesting was this from Danny:
The astonishing success raises a burning question: Why not copy it and expand it dramatically? To cover all low-income juniors or seniors. Or for any kid who wants help navigating the Byzantine path into college.
The pushback is likely to be: It's too expensive. In Seattle public high schools there are 6,000 juniors and seniors. So just in one district an expanded program could easily cost millions of dollars a year.
Doing one-on-one would be expensive. At least having one person in the building who can guide students to resources and help for college, vocational ed, summer jobs and community service would help ALL students. But SPS can't even do that.
What was also telling (in terms of the blowback from the recent news that UW is taking fewer in-state students) were the bitter comments about helping low-income students while the middle-class suffers or seems shut out of UW.
Also, I did attend the Alliance for Education Breakfast on Thursday. It was a nice affair, mostly full (I saw a few empty tables here and there). I saw Peter, Betty and Michael there as well as a whole table of SPS staff. There was the usual speechifying about "excellent principals", "preparing teachers", make people accountable", etc. Dr. Enfield did give some specific examples of some schools doing better which was good to hear. She said she wanted SPS schools "to be a point of pride for all of us that call Seattle home."
There were scholarship awards given out to seniors from several high schools. There were also a couple of teachers and a counselor recognized for their work at Hamilton, Chief Sealth and Aki Kurose. The Foster Award for $50k to Denny Middle School went to principal Jeff Clark who wore his famous "Denny Blue" suit. They showed a video of Mr. Clark's work and I was glad to see someone called an "early incident specialist" at Denny. I'd like to follow-up and see what kind of intervention is happening there.
Then there were two students from Franklin, Fletcher Bailey and Chynna Williams, who did a truly outstanding performance of a rap about education. It was a call-and-response rap. It held back no punches and spoke of education as "an adult playground" and "putting an SOS in the class window" but that they "were not waiting around for any Superman." It was brilliant.
There was also an interesting "fireside chat" (sans fire) with an SEA official and the district's labor negotiator. Glenn Bafia, the SEA rep, stated that class size and work load has a tremendous impact on teachers. He said that they had argued at the table to tie the teachers' raises to the supplemental levy. He also said there were a lot of concerns among teachers over MAP and its uses and whether it really helps teachers help students.
The Alliance raised over $220k at the Breakfast.