Monday, June 27, 2011

Lowell; What to Do?

I spent two hours at the meeting tonight with SPS staff and Lowell families who  are trying desperately to understand what should be done about the massive overcrowding due at Lowell this fall.  (The meeting was still in full swing when I left.)

There was a lot said and I will post a longer thread but I know many of you may need an outlet right now for your thoughts.

Briefly, the district is putting forth four options (but one is off the table for the district and one seems to be off the table for the majority of  APP families at Lowell).

Options
1) Stay at Lowell.  Obviously, this can't happen as the safety and crowding issues cannot be resolved.  (One parent asked why portables couldn't be put in.  It was not answered but I can only say that portables create classrooms - not bathrooms, common areas or lunch areas.)  Not on the table for the district.

2) Split off 4th and 5th grade APP to Lincoln.  This is the option that seems to be off the table for every family that showed up to the meeting.  There are too many unresolved issues and most of them poignantly brought up by children at the meeting.  Not even for a year -I think it more than would be asked of any other children in the district.

3) Split off entire APP cohort from Lowell to Lincoln.  People seem to want to keep the APP cohort together but this didn't seem to be popular.

4) Create a third APP school.   Where and could it be done in time for September?  Who knows? 

There were at least 75 parents in attendance.  There were numerous staff (Pegi McEvoy, Operations superintendent, led the meeting) including Bob Vaughn( who remained silent), Marni Campbell, Lesley Rodgers (Communications) and Nancy Coogan, Executive Director.  Board members who attended were Harium Martin-Morris, Michael DeBell, Sherry Carr, Peter Maier and Kay Smith-Blum.  Principal King was also in attendance.

217 comments:

1 – 200 of 217   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

As usual, thanks, Melissa.

Lori said...

I'm too exhausted to say much. It finally ended at 10:15PM.

Melissa, I was sitting in front of you and commented to you about the size of some of our other elementaries when one speaker was saying that 200+ kids at Lowell would be too small of a school. So, hi.

Just a quick comment on the portables. It was later said that a double-wide could house up to 60 kids (2 classes), but it would have to be smack in the middle of the field, and even so, it would not resolve the capacity issues. There would still be 640+ kids in the main building, and as you note, it doesn't make more bathrooms or lunchrooms appear. But I was at least glad to hear they had actually looked into it.

Anonymous said...

You could make a NE APP cohort at Jane Addams for the Sept very easily. Jane Addams could easily hold 300 students. Jane Addams doesn't have space for the whole APP cohort but they do have room all of the students north of the ship canal and east of I5.

-ne parent

lil'dragon said...

Thanks Melissa for speaking tonight so eloquently. My head is reeling. We were moving our daughter a 3rd grader and was sold on what we saw at Lowell. Now I am confused what to do. I knew that I did not want any part of the cohort being split up (4th and 5th moving to Lincoln). But now I am left wondering if everyone moves to Lincoln, what will that look like? Will they have art, music and p.e.? Will they have a nurse? Will all APP teachers move over as well? What about the principal? What school will the kids say they go to? So scary to commit and leave behind a school where, maybe it wasn't a perfect fit, but at least we knew what we were getting. Obviously the program we were sold is not what we will actually be getting. I had to leave at 8:30 so maybe some of this was covered. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
And thanks to all the parents who came and spoke up for our children!

Spruiter said...

Would APP families be given the option of going back to their neighborhood school? For some new families to the program, that might be preferable than changing schools twice. I know many schools are overcrowded (especially in the NE), but it seems like we should at least let families who would have been new to Lowell this fall, who want to go back to their neighborhood school jump to the front of the wait list.

ArchStanton said...

Re: #1, several people wondered why (if all options are on the table) moving the ALO out of Lowell and leaving APP isn't being discussed. If we would re-open a building for APP, why not for ALO? (T.T.Minor, anyone?)

Re: #3, I didn't think moving all of Lowell APP to Lincoln (or anywhere north) was that unpopular. Seemed to me most would prefer keeping Lowell APP intact over any split.

Re: #4, this was troubling because it hadn't been expressed as an option prior to the meeting. If this is really a possible outcome, there are many more stakeholders that should be included in this discussion because it shifts boundaries and raises questions of which middle school kids will be assigned to.

There should have been more ALO and Thurgood Marshall voices at this meeting. The district is tinkering with things that will affect them both. Whether they were invited or just didn't feel wanted, I can't say.

Fremont Mama said...

I was there til the bitter end and man, what a lot to absorb! As a new parent to Lowell, I am disappointed that my daughter will likely be at Lincoln next year...it doesn't seem like a great building for elementary kids. I passed the "playground" on the way out and it really is pretty pathetic. Very small space covered in woodchips with a small climbing structure in the center. However, being at a school in the north end would be nice. Lowell is a hard commute from Fremont!

It is frustrating to have to make these short term decisions without knowing what the long term plans are. If they move the entire 1-5 cohort to Lincoln next year what will happen to them after that? Will they split the program with some moving back to Lowell and the rest moving to a new north location? That is basically the same as 3 APP locations, right? It was also disappointing that there was no long term scenarios presented. NOTHING! How can anyone decide what is best for next year when the year after is unknown.

There was also much talk about not wanting to move the kids twice in two years. Honestly, that is the least of my concerns. I thinkk my daughter might even like changing school buildings. The key would be keeping her friends with her.

I'm very curious to see if the district keeps their word on all the communication they promised. I will be checking the website for those maps and waiting for emails.

Sorry for any typos...I am tired!

Susanne

Anonymous said...

From my perspective, it seemed like the district is leaning toward the three APP programs.

Does anyone know the capacity at McDonald Elementary? All I could find was that there were 133 students projected for next year. They are currently at Lincoln - if the Lowell APP co-locates with them next year, is it an option for APP to merge with McDonald once it's re-opened?

-T

Stu said...

Checking in from the road . . .

Thanks for all the updates. I wasn't able to attend tonight but am pleased to hear that there was a good turnout.

One note to lil'dragon, and others who've brought it up in the past; the main issue right now is the overcrowding and whether/how to split the Lowell community. As I've written before, I think it's incredible important to keep the 1-5 cohort together, though there are differing opinions. The issue of music and PE and art is somewhat secondary 'cause it is, in some ways, much easier to work out. There's already am elementary program in Lincoln so there has to already be some sort of PE there, right? And if art and music rotate week to week, why can't the teachers rotate for a week to Lincoln, if it comes down to that? What I'm trying to say is that, once the decision comes down, there's a lot of detail that'll have to be worked out but I would think it's a whole lot easier to manipulate some teaching schedules than it is to figure out the split. Same thing, in a way, with the playground space: there's going to be some discomfort for one or more communities for at least this one year. That's ok if the program itself can stay together and continue to thrive.

Please keep the updates coming.

stu

Waiting for Good Management said...

One reason for maintaining a self-contained Spectrum model was to keep the ability grouping of each classroom within smaller ranges. This makes APP qualified students easier to help with their needs and keeps them in the cluster and closer to home. It was suggested at the Lawton Spectrum discussions to give students the chance to walk to math two grade levels above if needed.
It's odd that parents and staff find segregating students at Lowell to be OK but having self-contained Spectrum is akin to Jim Crow. I would like the schools to have all levels of kids in the same building and grouping is the only way to make it work.
BTW, what is wrong with the Advanced Learning Dept.? Dr. Vaughan is nice, smart guy, but maybe he's not enough of an advocate for gifted kids. Could it be time for him to either talk the talk or take a walk?

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to weigh in with a little more information that I got out of the meeting. I left close to 9:30, so didn't hear the entire thing, but overwhelmingly my impression was that the crowd favored moving all APP 1-5 from Lowell to Lincoln.

Also, several speakers were opposed to the idea of "expanding" to three locations mainly because the current program is not stable or robust enough yet to be split again.

It does seem obvious to me that another split is inevitable -- 450 kids in 1-5 is the size of many elementary schools that are K-5 -- but now is not the time. Not only because of the botched split two years ago, but also to wait until a long term plan is in place, staffing issues are addressed and there is better support overall for the program (we can hope, right?).

-NE parent, new to public school/APP

Anonymous said...

The space issue seems so far from being solved. I'm sorry to have it hit Lowell in such a frenetic way. We are part of the Thornton Creek community and I have to say that the constant delivery of portables is very disconcerting. We have no space to meet as a whole group, the bathrooms are far from sanitary, and the overcrowding is sure to get unsafe in this next year. We are scheduled to keep growing with no eye on the safety issue. Perhaps if something dreadful happens, the district will be more mindful of this issue. Until then, we, as so many of our neighboring schools, just keep jamming more kids into our small spaces.

The strangest thing to me is how no one, not the superintendent or any board member, ever asks how this effects student learning. We are here for the kids but this is not creating a positive environment for them.

I hope Lowell families can get their needs met just as so many of the overcrowded schools should have their needs met as well.

- TC Parent

Reality Check said...

Charting the course from here won't be easy as there appear to be groups of parents who prefer the North/South/Central configuration, and others who prefer North/South with North at Lincoln/TBD. Constructive (and hopefully respectful) conversations will undoubtedly follow, but how about a bit of catharsis first?

Events of the last week have demonstrated an absence of professional management. A call for accountability on this point could serve our community well now and in the future.

1. The open enrollment deadline was April 15th.
2. Assignment letters were mailed on May 31st.
3. Lowell held an open house and an ice cream social for new families *after* they knew the number of students who were assigned for the fall. They were peddling "Lowell" sweatshirts, for goodness sake!
4. After much planning toward reconfiguring *classrooms*, not bathrooms, not lunch periods, but *classrooms*, followed by a conclusion that the *classroom* configuration in the existing space couldn't serve Special Ed, we're now told that 2 classrooms in portables aren't an option for next year because of, yes, bathrooms and lunch periods.

In the real word, an apology for this type of mismanagement would be accompanied by a resignation letter. Last I checked, even SPS is part of the real world, so

-Will the PTA, on behalf of the community, demand an apology for the handling of the capacity issue?
-Will the PTA, on behalf of the community, demand leadership change in Advanced Learning?

Anonymous said...

McDonald is going to be a language immersion school. Therefore, it is most likely that the school will be full to overflowing within the the next 3-4 years. Even this year, with the program not even in place yet, McDonald has waiting lists for both K and 1.
Unless APP is split into 3 programs: N, Central and S, it would probably be difficult to find a school in the North end that could accommodate the whole cohort currently at Lowell in addition to the neighborhood kids. And if APP is moved to the north end as a whole cohort (that is now at Lowell), and the program grows any larger the next couple of years (which it is most certainly to do, since the families that are keeping their eligible kids out of Lowell because of the long commute will be more likely to send them to the north end APP), then it would be difficult to fit all 1-5 APP kids into an elementary-sized building. The schools my children are at are overflowing at 450-475 kids. They are stuffed into classrooms like sardines, 28-32 kids in each room!

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

I have sent this to the PTA/APP_AC

Those of us with incoming students to Lowell Elementary have given up our guaranteed places at our (often very good, often ALO optional) attendance area schools. I would urge you to strongly advocate for what many requested at the meeting last night; that is the option for students who were to be new to Lowell in the 2011-12 year to return to a space in the ALO program (if offered) or general education program at their attendance area school for the 2011-12 school year (i.e a guaranteed a place at their attendance area school if they prefer to return to that instead of the entering the great unknown that Lowell Elementary now represents).
For us, as for many parents, the choice to leave a good neighborhood school was not an easy one. It involved touring Lowell Elementary and seeing what it had to offer, talking to existing Lowell APP families, and weighing up the benefits for our child against the inconvenience of getting to Lowell. After much deliberation it culminated in showing our child around "the great new school they will go to in fall". Now we find out that our child will likely not being going to this school at all. We must have the option to return at our original school under these circumstances.
This is particularly important for younger grades in order to minimize what seems likely to be several moves in a short time period. Many parents would prefer to keep their student at the attendance area school and minimize the stress and uncertainty involved in these transitions until the much-needed longer term solution is, at least decided upon, if not in place.
While keeping the entire cohort of APP student together is desirable, a move to Lincoln HS it may not be a satisfactory option for those of us with children in the early grades. The building is, after all, a high school and does not appear physically well equipped to house primary grade students (inadequate play space etc). As much as I am are excited about the program offered at Lowell, I would be loathe to send my first grader to a ill-suited temporary school especially in the absence of an ongoing plan for the 2012-13 and thereafter.
I would also like a commitment from the district that it will continue in the years ahead to honor the current rules regarding retesting (i.e no retesting is required for students who test into APP providing they are enrolled in an APP/spectrum/ALO program) to ensure that future entry into APP would remain open to any students who had qualified for Lowell this year but chose to go back to the attendance area school until the capacity issues in the program are addressed.
The availability of this option may alleviate a little of the pressure on Lowell this coming year.
Signed -
incoming first-grader mom

Not Able to Attend the Meeting said...

Would someone please define central? Would the QA/Magnolia portion of the north end be defined as central? Does this mean that TM would lose a percentage of its population to the central school? I am not sure how that would ease overcrowding in the north. Q/A Magnolia seems to be a relatively small portion of Lowell. Would someone please post the numbers/geographical boundaries of the cohort that would form the proposed central APP school?

Obviously our vote is to keep all of Lowell APP together in the short term and in the long term.

Thanks.

none1111 said...

Melissa addressed the crowd with a good reminder that ALL of advanced learning, including Spectrum, needs to be included in any cohesive plan. A couple other people reiterated this later, and one commented how families are already making plans to leave the watered-down version of "Spectrum" at Wedgwood for APP. Of course without any cohesive plan, it's like jumping from one sinking ship to another! One just appears to be sticking a bit farther out of the water than the other.

I would like to point out a couple things about the audience though.

First, there were WAY more than 75 people there. At least double that. probably more. (anyone else have an estimate?)

Second, as the evening progressed, it was VERY clear that the only option the crowd supported was moving ALL of grades 1-5 to Lincoln (temporarily). There was essentially no support for a 4-5 only move, and there was very little support for the creation of a 3rd school. One guy liked it, and a couple others were open to it. But every time anyone mentioned moving the entire cohort to Lincoln, they were interrupted by hearty applause.

A 3rd school is NOT expansion. Let's call it what it really would be: Split #2. Just 2 years later. And as is typical when working in crisis mode, they had no clue how it would work, let alone how they would support it, where it would/could be located, or even what it meant for middle school. The off-the-cuff response by Peggy was that they would probably funnel both south and central kids to Washington.

Anonymous said...

The Central school would include kids from Magnolia, QA, and the surrounding area of Capitol Hill. Central and South would go to Washington Middle school. This option might be the solution in the long term but not next year. This would mean another split that would require hiring more new APP teachers. A 5th grader spoke very well that he lost his best friend in the 1st split and if we do another split he will lose more friends. We all need to think how these changes will affect our kids. We are not ready for another split until we know what is the long term solution. I also wonder if we do a North, Central, and South split, how would that affect the South APP numbers since kids that currently go to TM might move back to Lowell. The district need to show us the numbers of how many kids would go to each location this coming school year for us to make a sound decision.

With the deadline of July 8, I only see 1 option and that is to move all APP out to Lincoln for 1 year so they can work on a try long term solution.

The perfect solution would be to somehow stay at Lowell for another year for everybody.

Lowell Parent

Lori said...

One of the most frustrating things for me last night was the absolute lack of data on which to make decisions. In the absence of details, we parents can only opine based on emotions. By that, I mean, how are we are supposed to say whether a third site is the best option in the short- or long-term when we have no idea what that means?

The district is sitting on reams of data that they just don't look at. Instead of throwing up a slide to talk about "expansion," how about throwing up some slides with actual modeling of what 3 sites would look like? They heard repeatedly about how important critical mass is for APP as well as the multi-age experience (none of which should have been news to them).

So what are they proposing for an expansion? Who moves and how many classrooms per grade level would there be at each school? Can they guarantee at least 2 classes per grade (with the possible exception of 1st grade since it's the entry year)? My opinion changes based on these answers. I would consider being part of a new site if I knew there'd be a critical mass of students, but I reject it out of hand if there is only one class per grade at any of the locations.

The other thing that almost made my head explode was Dr. Vaughn not being able to discuss APP show rates or the number of eligible kids who could opt-in at any time. It would be so simple to calculate these numbers for APP to see if parents' decisions are changing over time. How many kids did you test this year and how many opted in? That's your show rate. Is it changing over time? How many kids have not opted in, either from this year's testing or previous years? Where do they live?

I can't imagine holding a community meeting about something of this magnitude without presenting some actual numbers to inform intelligent decision-making.

Lastly, I said a few days ago that I felt like the whole 4/5 split thing was a trial balloon. It's an idea so bad that you almost can't believe they proposed it. I don't think they really wanted that option, but they threw it out there to create outrage and get us to rally around "expansion" to a third site. Some political parties (not the one I'm affiliated with!) use this strategy all the time. Start with an outrageous proposal, "compromise" to middle ground, and end up getting exactly what you wanted the whole time.

Jack Whelan said...

I am Jack Whelan and a Position 2 Candidate for School Board, and I was there last night as well. I have a blog post about the meeting which you can find here: http://afterthefuture.typepad.com/jack_whelan_for_school_bo/2011/06/lowell-app-to-be-split-yet-again.html

The disruption to families in the Lowell oommunity is borderline criminal, and you have to wonder with all this splitting whether there isn't some divide and conquer agenda that lies behind all the crisis management designed to weaken the APP presence in the district over the long run.

I am on the faculty at the UW Foster School and have a son who did the full IB at Ingraham in '09 and is now at Middlebury College. I am for delivering a quality education and support to all students and their families--yes, even high achievers. Please check out my ideas about this issue at the above address.

dj said...

Please, north families, do not advocate for a solution that would involve splitting up the cohort that was moved to TM into (1) a smaller group (2) yet again. In your position, I would prefer to move as a body to Lincoln, but if you decide that a second split to whatever locations is the best way to handle this, I don't see why it would be necessary to break up the group of kids at TM.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dj said...

I also want to offer to Lowell APP families that I think a long-term plan of APP st Lowell is unstable. Stevens is overcrowded. The district is going to have to redistribute enrollment from there at some point and does not have the option of sending those kids north because the north central schools are full. Lowell is the closest place. Between that and the fact that the ALO population is growing 50 students just this year, I do not think that there will be much room for APP in the building in the medium-term future. Possibly the district would reopen T.T. Minor, but I wouldn't count on it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Laura said...

DJ,
It's not North End families who are advocating for any split involving TM....it's Seattle Public Schools. Nancy Coogan/Peggy McAvoy (spelling names here wrong, sorry) were very vague, but the one thing that did come out was that central APP (at Lowell) would include APP kids from Central Seattle. I took that to mean, the former central cluster, the kids, but for walk zone, that are now at TM and Queen Anne/Magnolia.

Audience then wanted to know what middle school for these kids. Of course being vague, the SPS admin. then responded that Lowell (now central/queen anne/magnolia) to Washington, TM (now south/west seattle) to Washington, mystery location in the north (now north of ship canal) to Hamilton.

There was clearly no analysis done, using actual data that SPS has, on how to make a 3-APP split work.

Terrence J. Menage, Ed.D. said...

It would appear that, if nothing else comes of the meeting last night, incumbent members of the Board of Directors will add to their campaign messages how they are engaged with community members regarding issues. This piecemeal, haphazard approach to leadership that we are witnessing is unacceptable and an example of the dysfunctional district operations that comes from business as usual.

Concerned members of our community will need to continue to fight the good fight regarding what is happening to the Lowell community, and the other school communities in our city that are adrift as a result of the mismanagement of our district. The challenges are great but the opportunity is also great to truly bring significant change to our district. We need to return to appropriate, sound and stable leadership and well functioning operations.

www.menage4seattlekids.com

Terrence

dj said...

Ok, Laura, but I assume that North parents are now thinking of what to advocate for? If you were to take central out of Thurgood Marshall there wouldn't be enough left for a cohort. We wouldn't have had enough students for a single first-grade class last year. We have had two small classes in most grades as it is. Central is I believe the largest cluster represented at TM. Take it out and at this point you won't have much left.

Anonymous said...

What's draw dropping shocking is how things seem to have broken down at all levels. Why did it take parent testimony at the Board meeting to finally bring the Lowell sardine option to a halt? Why are there no plans beyond this current capacity crisis? How can there be a short-term plan without knowing the 2-5 year plan? Who's really in charge?

speechless

ArchStanton said...

Just because they say something can't be done, doesn't mean it really can't be done.

Splitting APP is in violation of policy, yet they did it and have yet to revise the policy. They'll do it again - if that's what they want.

If moving ALO out of Lowell requires a Board vote and it's decided that that is the solution, then the Board can vote to do it - if that's what they want.

They showed some phoney-baloney cost estimates for some of the options. All were less than $600K IIRC, a drop in the bucket compared to other boondoggles perpetrated recently. They can find a way to pay for - if that's what they want.

Portables at Lowell may be tougher because of zoning laws, but I'm willing to bet that there are ways around that, too: variances, emergency measures, etc. They just need to pull some strings spend some political capital - if that's what they want.

Anonymous said...

Someone brought up the option of a Central/South location at Lowell and a North at Lincoln until we find a location. I hope this look at this option. It is a APP issue so we need to look at all APP programs.

Lowell parent.

Anonymous said...

I think there were plenty of people, myself included, that were happy with either the 4-5 split or a split to three sites. However, it was nearly impossible to have an option other than everyone to Lincoln.

I think everyone to Lincoln is a terrible idea. It is moving folks for the sake of moving and for the sake of some ideal that togetherness makes cohesion.

I like Arch's idea of an opt-in option. I also like NE Parent's idea of an opt-in at Jane Addams. If they gave me an opt-in at Jane Addams, I would take it.

- ne mom

Stu said...

dj,

I don't pretend to know, for a second, what "everyone" in the north end is thinking but I would be truly surprised if more than a few want a third APP program. Those of us who came through the last split, who remember every broken promise, who are still waiting for a master plan, who don't believe this district wants a any sort of cohort anyway, who feel that APP is the whipping post for many things that are wrong at SPS, and who believe that a strong cohort needs mass, do not want to see families go through that again.

Remember . . the DISTRICT wanted to split the program a couple of years ago and drove that train off the rails; the DISTRICT is floating the idea of a split again, this time with even less planning (is that possible?) and less data than before.

While I don't believe we'll ever see the program re-joined, I think that most don't want to see it diluted any more than it already has been. A "north" program that's actually in the "North," would be nice and I do think that's where this is heading. Whether they open another building or find space somewhere else, this is as far as I'm willing to let it go.

One last thing . . . once again; there is going to be some disruption in the future, both for the students who remain at Lowell and the APP nomads (could that be the mascot if we leave behind the dragons?) who wander the streets looking for their promised educational experience. It's my firm belief the the LEAST disruptive thing for the students AND the program is to keep the tribe together. The surroundings at Lincoln, while not ideal, might be a challenge but it's a challenge that the entire cohort can handle.

No split!

stu

attendee said...

There has been some speculation of future splits, but many were surprised to see it as a short-term option on the District's list of possibilities for next year.

(Peggy defined short-term as next year, interim as 2-5 years, and long-term as 5+ years)

I can't imagine any of the families that went through the first split that would advocate for or willingly accept this option. Those speaking in favor seemed to be relatively new to the program.

Whatever community building has happened over the past few years, last night's meeting put a wedge between it. The situation is saddening for everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

Our next mascot can be the hydra (thanks Shannon).

dj said...

Lowell parent, it would be a terrible idea to move TM students back into the Lowell building. As I posted unthread, the ALO at Lowell is growing at a fast clip, and Stevens is packed such that it is likely that the line will have to be moved to include even more neighborhood kids. There is the special education population that has first dibs on the Lowell building (fairly) that takes a number of rooms off-line. Thurgood Marshall, unlike Lowell, has both plenty of room for portables and room to build on the lot. Thurgood Marshall also has a small geographic zone around the building so is less likely to develop the problems Lowell has. Plus the building is in good shape, unlike Lowell.

SplitAgain said...

I think it is inevitable that APP will be split again. The district really wants it. It is going to happen.

It does not matter if all of Lowell APP goes to Lincoln for one year. That will only delay it by a year. The following year, it will have to move out, and the only options will be schools with spots for 250 seats, so they will have to split then.

In addition, look at the politics of the situation. There are a lot of APP parents in the north who really want an APP in the north and, if the price of getting it is another split, they are happy with that price. That means the APP community is divided on opposing further splits, making it easier for the district to push it through.

At this point, the most likely decision on July 8 is a split. Half of Lowell APP will move to either Lincoln (temporarily) or Jane Addams (permanently). Then, APP elementary will be in three sites. A year or two later, the district will look at a fourth site in the north.

Stu said...

It is moving folks for the sake of moving and for the sake of some ideal that togetherness makes cohesion.

Kids ARE going to be moving, there's no way around that! The APP program, as it sits right now, can not stay at Lowell, there doesn't appear to be a way around that. Moving the entire cohort to Lincoln sucks but it does add some semblance of order to this chaos and allows the district, and hopefully the engaged community, time to come up with something that might work in the long run.

The problem with an opt-in APP program this fall is that it would require hiring new teachers, possibly a new principal for the APP group, and probably wouldn't attract enough students, in enough grades, to make it a real APP program. You end up with a small number of kids in a couple of grades and that doesn't help the students nor the program. Lastly, by dispersing the kids that way, it turns APP into a school-by-school program; that's not a path I'm willing to follow.

stu

the district is trying to drive me insane said...

DJ -

I specifically asked last night if kids from TM would be pulled out of their school for next year, and they said, "no." I wouldn't hold my breath, though.

I 100% oppose a third split - I will not use their word, "expansion." I went to the APP AC meeting a couple of weeks ago, and they handed out a sheet with current QA/Mag numbers. How many are from this neighborhood - 47. Add the 12 walk zone kids and you have quite the robust community. This just shows they threw the 3rd split option up there without any thought at all. They should remove this option so that no ones mentions it ever again.

Mercermom said...

Why would anyone have confidence that further splitting of APP wouldn't result in APP being exactly like elementary Spectrum? Very popular in some locations, non-existent in others, indistinguishable from ALO elsewhere. And what a particular APP student gets is totally dependent on where they live in the city.

I can see why new APP parents would feel very hesitant about sending their child to two-grade temporary situation. But for existing kids, if they are with their grade-level peers, good staff, and sufficient resources, would it be that terrible? Many schools make do with the temporary facilities during remodels. I know that doesn't involve a grade split, but I'm having a hard time imagining that my fourth-grader would be very distraught about not being with the lower grades. I think the key is asking the District what the long-term solution is.

Anonymous said...

NE mom,

Your statement "I think there were plenty of people, myself included, that were happy with either the 4-5 split or a split to three sites." is not accurate. Nobody maybe except for some ALO parents like the 4-5 split. And some parents wanted to hear more about the 3 site split as a long term solution.

Lowell Parent

Shannon said...

Hi,
I was at the meeting until 10pm and it was a long, sometimes passionate and often frustrating experience.

I felt that people were so keen to agitate against moving 4-5 alone that they failed to respond adequately to the 3-school split option (which was labeled "EXPAND to 3 sites" on the overhead.

This option was not 'expanded' on the overhead. There was little detail on how they would ensure a vibrant APP community at three locations, how the Central cluster would be sustained (numbers, TM students?) or evaluation of the success (some would say failure) of the first round of 'expansion' to our current 2 locations.

Imagine that the 4-5 option had never been floated and that email in your inbox had told you that the whole Lowell APP cohort was being split vertically into two sites?

Wouldn't we have been up in arms? Wouldn't there have been howls of protest?

I didn't hear howling last night because we were wasting our energy on a transparently short-term relocation 'red herring'.

This is the moment that the District can implement the bait-and-switch by rewarding the North Cohort with its North location at the cost of the program as a whole.

I am a North APP Parent. I know NW Ballard families who choose Broadview Thompson because of the travel times and I am a parent who loves the idea of a North site.

However, I am also parent of a kid whose child did not get the quality of "advanced" learning I expected at Lowell this year. I do not see anyone focusing on that theme, the quality of our program, assessing whether the many new teachers are trained and supported to offer a truly challenging curriculum which is not simply accelerated to cover grades-ahead material but to different ways of learning, to depth of inquiry.

I believe that we, our community leaders and the APP AC need to quickly marshall resources to assess and, in my view, REJECT the 3 site chopping block.

I think we need to say, "Not now, not without a longer term plan."

Regarding the ALO and Sped at Lowell, which would be 'depleted' by the loss of the APP Cohort, there were many passionate pleas for APP parents not to forsake the ALO, for us not to be selfish, for us to be compassionate and, effectively, leave some of our kids behind to prop up the school (with 'our' active PTA) and critical mass.

My reaction to that was surprise.

I have never felt that it was US vs THEM with ALO but neither do I see why APP should be called upon to play babysitter to the Districts mistakes.

Is APP a bandaid? Stick it here? Stick it there?

If Lowell is a neighborhood school and that's what it needs to be and the ALO cannot move because it holds the geographic trump card in the Districts new SAP then it must stand as a neighborhood school and be what the neighborhood makes of it.

It is not reasonable to ask me to cut my son's cohort and risk the quality of his education in order to support a plan that offers us no security of location.

APP has no neighborhood trump card so, without an advocate and master plan it will always be the wiggly bit that can move to suit capacity management whims. That is why I think it untenable, long term, to co-house APP with a local school.

Anyway, I don't love any option. Lincoln seemed a dark and slightly medieval, hospital-like place last night. The small shiny playground was small. It was not a 4-5th grade type place. It was where you put the childcare while the parents are in surgery...!

BUT

I would prefer to suffer the Lincoln move as a cohort and figure out a Northern location for all of us rather than being rushed into a lickety-SPLIT which will cause damage within and without the program for years to come.


PS. Regarding the 4-5 split option, did everyone hear that 4 out of the 7 teachers for the two grades are NEW this fall?

already insane said...

That's the dilemna - if the District has a long-term plan, it wasn't shared with families last night.

My sense was that the District's flying by the seat of their pants and doesn't have the wherewithal to make the best decision.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am not an ALO parent and I do like the split. Granted my 4th grader would be new and I like the idea of a much shorter commute.

However, the primary feeling I got last night was I wish I could go back to my old school. There was very little last night that felt welcoming or collaborative.

APP is not the whipping boy of the district. These are hard times and every school and program has suffered in some way. Schools are overcrowded. All of them. Classrooms are overcrowded.

McDonald had to build a whole new school in Lincoln and they did an amazing job and so many parents were so disrespectful of what they had accomplished without any support.

Lack of support is a constant in this district, not something served special to APP.

- ne mom

Anonymous said...

I attended the meeting last evening. I am left wondering whether we might imagine an ideal future for APP. Do we have a number for the "ideal cohort" size? Let's start with "at least two classes per grade level." That is approximately 300 students. Can we imagine a future elementary APP enrollment of 900+? Can we imagine three strong programs that are equally attractive and that admit students into the program based on where the most space is available and on geographic/sibling factors? Can we imagine three locations each with some room to grow, so that if one school must expand to 360 students it can be done? Can we imagine a school district that can be trusted to support this program and make this idealized plan work? It seems to me that this last bit of imagining is the most difficult for all of us. Without being able to trust the district to promote and support the APP program, all the best solutions in the world will come to nought a few years down the line.

Trying the thought experiment just to see what it might reveal.

Shannon said...

Regarding Costs.

Please could our data hounds track down more detailed numbers for the various proposals. The numbers last night seemed to reflect only relative costs, with no certainty.

The overheads had incremental cost figures for each move option. (From memory, please correct if I am wrong)

Stay put 200K
Move 4 & 5 300K
Split to 3 schools Mystery $
Move All Lowell APP 400K

These were largely driven by costs of moving classrooms and the increased bus charges.

Apparently, all the options require more buses. Data presented said:

Moving 4-5 required 6 extra buses
Moving all Lowell required 8 extra buses.

It was not completely clear whether this was an increase from 2010-11 bus numbers (and as such included some buses that were already required due to the increase in enrollment) or were additional due to the new site. It appears that they are additional since the economy of bus share with TOPS would be lost.

I would like to know whether another bus share scenario is possible.

I would suspect that the model was run with Lincoln as stand-alone for now and as such is not a fair comp.

Also, since the STAY PUT option requires 200K of remodel costs and is now off the table, portables were not possible (they said they would need something like 3 doubles to absorb all 60x3) I would prefer to speak about the options in terms of incremental cost with the cheapest as the base option.

As such, 300K is a sunk cost (moving 4-5 to Lincoln)

It will cost 100K more to move all of Lowell APP.

Its not like we are asking the District to spend 400K when they could spend nothing.

Anonymous said...

Already insane:

You've nailed it. No wherewithal. And no vision. There is no solution that will sit well with most, let alone all, of us. Why is this? We're reasonable people, mostly. Why then? Because there is no programmatic vision. I am reluctant to say that there really seems to be no APP program, just a cohort.

Very sad

already insane said...

APP attendance mushrooms up through the grades, so there is a small 1st grade cohort and a larger cohort in the upper grades.

One advantage to the cohort is being able to balance the class numbers each year to avoid class splits (i.e, a 1/2 or a 2/3 class). Since curriculum is compacted and accelerated, a 1/2 or 2/3 split is actually more than a grade level difference. How does a teacher differentiate and keep students from repeating or skipping material?

It's not like a typical elementary that has roughly the same number of students in each grade, so a cohort size of 300 doesn't mean two first grades, two second grades, etc.

The selling point of APP was being with same-age peers, while working ahead academically. They could feel normal and have a typical school experience that they couldn't have with grade skips.

After years in SPS, I don't even know what normal is anymore.

Anonymous said...

For those advocating for a return to their neighborhood school, please be cautious until you know the enrollment numbers for the coming year.

Just like Lowell some schools have dramatic changes following Open Enrollment.

As an example, View Ridge Elementary has an enrollment of 600+ for 2011-2012.

- A VR Parent

Erica said...

I was horrified at how little information the school board seemed to have, even at this late date.

The three APP option does not have to be a split, what should be done, and should have been in planning stages for a couple of years, is a new APP cohort in the north. That way, kids who have been growing up together would continue together, new people coming into the program would be closer to home.

We were told that 3000 letters were sent to parents telling them they were eligible for APP testing, of those 600 opted to be tested and 300 were approved. If only 20% of eligible children went on to take the test, why did the other 80% decline?

I suspect geography plays a large role. Many of us remember buses as being the scene of more trauma then anything that ever occurred at school. Buses were where one became the captive victim of bored bullies. If one has a sensitive child, the idea of putting that child on a bus for two hours a day is pretty unpalatable.

On the other hand, if there are only 2400 families who declined the additional testing, how hard is it to contact them now and ask if they would consider joining a northern APP cohort if one were to become available?

the district is trying to drive me insane said...

NE Mom-

It was said elsewhere, but I will say it again. The very few people who are pro a 3rd split are new to the program and were not there when the district did it to us two years ago. Lowell APP will not survive another split. The district promised us all sorts of supports at the time of the last split and those did not happen. The PTA spend a lot of money paying for things that should have been paid for by the district. I am not willing to put up a bunch of my own money a second time.

There was one long time APP parent who said she'd consider a split, but wanted more detail and was not for it for next year.

Almost 1/2 the APP teachers left left Lowell APP this year. If you are pro split, who would you like to teach your children? The split will only work if there is enough experienced staff to make it work, and there is not now.

I think this is such a horrible idea, the district should remove it completely from the discussion. It cannot reasonably be considered for several years.

Anonymous said...

FWIW - for all of you parents questioning the state of Lincoln, the bad playground, the hospital like environment, etc. - the physical space of the school is important but there will be tradeoffs if you want to keep your kids together in a 1-5 cohort. Realize that these tradeoffs are happening all the time, across the district- we are all making them.

This year there were nearly 200 elementary students in Lincoln building from QAE and McDonald. They had fun, loved their teachers and classmates, and more importantly - learned what they were supposed to learn. If one stopped to look at the kids, see their experience and not thru our critical adult eyes, it was a typical elementary school.

Also, the Lincoln building has a beautiful library, fantastic gym, and the parking lot/play area was fine for recess - lots of kids getting in their miles for the Seattle kids marathon there.

There were QAE kids in McD classrooms and McD kids in QAE classrooms - they will be split up next year as QAE moves to their new home. McD kids have one more year at Lincoln and then they move again. Also, their lower grades will be language immersion and they will have a 2-5 classroom. But those kids are happy and learning! I realize these cohorts are not as many kids as Lowell right now, but kids who are impacted none the less.

If you do move to Lincoln, be prepared for a lot of parental involvement and sweat equity. We painted classrooms, hallways, art rooms, etc. to get them ready. The QAE classrooms will be filled with McD kids next year.

As far as art, PE, music at the Lincoln site- the number of kids that move dictates how many FTEs you get for that level of enrollment. QAE and McD did share a PE and Librarian as well as some classroom teachers. You may have to hire new staff - lots of precedent for that this year with three newly opened schools.

For those ALO and SpecEd kids left at the Lowell building, 200+ kids is actually a pretty big number, and you will grow quickly. Your music/PE/art staffing may drop and that may be something you want to advocate for - to keep those up until enrollment grows.

PTA -if the APP move happens, either the group at Lincoln or the group that stays at Lowell will have to charter a new PTA unless you are willing to work thru the logistics of sharing. Not likely - again, reach out to the PTA leaders of the three new schools from this year to find out how to do so.

It is clear as an outsider that this is a painful change - and one close on the heels of a recent painful split. But change is coming - my advice is to start preparing and finding the silver lining in the solution... as one who went through a very challenging, tumultuous year, it is the advice I can recommend.

Parent at Lincoln

Erica said...

Also, people keep talking about 200 general education students, but that number includes kids from outside of the reference area that are only going to Lowell because they have a sibling in APP. The school board doesn't know how many kids there are that fall into that category, I asked afterward. What happens to them? Do they stay at Lowell or go back to their reference area school? Do they have a choice? It seems like it would be cost prohibitive to keep bussing them to Lowell when APP is gone, but if you remove them how many students are there really in the gen ed population?

Patrick said...

It would be nice if the District would do some long-term planning. They had all the evidence needed that Lowell would be overcrowded even as early as last year. Instead of planning they sat around giving each other raises and then AFTER schools have been assigned and classes dismissed for the summer suddenly it's an emergency. Good staff do not let emergencies sneak up on them.

Now they will have to relocate part or all of APP for this fall, and then move them again when a long-term solution is found. Every moves costs money, energy, goodwill among families.

I don't have a dog in this fight. But it seems obvious to me that the program should only be split into three if there's enough kids for at least two classes per grade at each location.

Jane Addams is an interesting idea. JA is expecting about 550 students in the fall, and building capacity, if I remember right, is about 800. If they enroll the APP students, it would be full and they might have to start turning away students next year. At JA's growth rate, it might have to start turning away students anyway in a couple of years. The APP kids might or might not be interested in the environmental science theme of the school. However, at least it has bathroom fixtures sized for small children and a good playground. It might be a better band-aid than Lincoln.

Patrick said...

It would be nice if the District would do some long-term planning. They had all the evidence needed that Lowell would be overcrowded even as early as last year. Instead of planning they sat around giving each other raises and then AFTER schools have been assigned and classes dismissed for the summer suddenly it's an emergency. Good staff do not let emergencies sneak up on them.

Now they will have to relocate part or all of APP for this fall, and then move them again when a long-term solution is found. Every moves costs money, energy, goodwill among families.

I don't have a dog in this fight. But it seems obvious to me that the program should only be split into three if there's enough kids for at least two classes per grade at each location.

Jane Addams is an interesting idea. JA is expecting about 550 students in the fall, and building capacity, if I remember right, is about 800. If they enroll the APP students, it would be full and they might have to start turning away students next year. At JA's growth rate, it might have to start turning away students anyway in a couple of years. The APP kids might or might not be interested in the environmental science theme of the school. However, at least it has bathroom fixtures sized for small children and a good playground. It might be a better band-aid than Lincoln.

bf said...

I wonder if it would alleviate the overcrowding at Lowell if all the new Lowell APP families that wanted to stay at their neighborhood school for one more year did so. There seems to be quite a few, and I don't blame them. I'm not sure it enough students, but perhaps that would take the pressure off finding a solution by July 8th and focus on finding a longer term solution.

Anonymous said...

Is APP at Jane Addams a possibility? Possibly with a mushroom model, allowing larger enrollments at higher grades, and even potentially adding 6-8?

Is Addams an option school, still?

I think it's important to remember that lots of schools are facing issues of over-crowding right now (as pointed out by a few of the other posters). I do think SPS is flying by the seat of its pants, and doesn't know how to deal with the increased enrollments. They're flailing around trying to make things work out OK in the long run, which is small consolation for children who need things to work out well, in the short run.

(zb)

Anonymous said...

Re: "Not Able to Attend the Meeting said...

Would someone please define central? Would the QA/Magnolia portion of the north end be defined as central? Does this mean that TM would lose a percentage of its population to the central school? I am not sure how that would ease overcrowding in the north. Q/A Magnolia seems to be a relatively small portion of Lowell. Would someone please post the numbers/geographical boundaries of the cohort that would form the proposed central APP school?

Obviously our vote is to keep all of Lowell APP together in the short term and in the long term."


"In the real word, an apology for this type of mismanagement would be accompanied by a resignation letter."

"One of the most frustrating things for me last night was the absolute lack of data on which to make decisions. In the absence of details, we parents can only opine based on emotions. By that, I mean, how are we are supposed to say whether a third site is the best option in the short- or long-term when we have no idea what that means? "


A couple of points or questions.

First, while North/Central/South is a seemingly simple division, basing the decision on travel time makes more sense. The ship canal is an obvious and real separator, but so is Lake Union. Magnolia or Queen Anne to Capitol Hill is not an easy or short trip, more so in the morning commute hours. So, rather than basing on latitude/longitude, which is what the maps emphasize, the divisions ought to be based on travel times on the arterials that will be used by the buses. From the West-Central part of Seattle, Lincoln seemed much more convenient to me than Lowell.

Second, the first post claimed that 75 parents were present. That number is off by no less than a factor of 3 or 4. (Rough head count: multiply the rows by the average number of seats per row and multiply by an estimated occupancy ratio.)

Third, I heard _zero_ support for splitting off grades 4&5 (although I left a little before 9 PM). I heard at least a dozen reasons not to split, notably the SPU education professor whose clarity, brevity and cogency should be a model for all those who speak at public meetings.

Fourth, the sentiments on terrible planning and lack of professionalism exhibited can't be echoed strongly enough. The prepared slides provided inadequate information and context to make rational decisions (and at least one even contained a grammatical error). Further, the lack of leadership and advocacy for APP/Spectrum/ALO at the district and school board level is appalling.

Fifth, my impression is that the majority felt that moving all of APP to Lincoln made the most sense in the short run. But the lack of foresight at the district in not having a long-term plan created the problem. Major decisions were made only 2 years ago, and they clearly didn't involve long-term planning. Furthermore, even in the short run, this discussion should have started at least 2 or 3 months ago as enrollment numbers came in. Moving the ALO part of Lowell is probably not a real option. But wow, even considering it treats them like collateral damage. As bad as APP is being treated, they seem to be getting an even worse shake.

Anonymous said...

APP AC and Lowell PTA,

What is the next course of action for both groups? Will each come up with a recommendation and a postion on these options? Are you still actively working/communicating with the District after yesterday's meeting? Will we have another meeting after the District has more details on all options? If the drop dead date is July8, we should have a meeting/deadline this Friday. I hope the spliting of the 4th/5th is off the list now.

Lowell Parent

Lori said...

Erica wrote, "We were told that 3000 letters were sent to parents telling them they were eligible for APP testing, of those 600 opted to be tested and 300 were approved."

Of course, these numbers don't necessarily tell the whole story, and they did not convince me of anything. It's only a partial analysis. So 3000 letters went out to kids' families based on spring MAP scores. How many of the 600 who ultimately tested were planning to apply for testing anyway? How many "new" testers did we get?

Also, how does the "qualified for APP" rate compare this past cycle to historic trends? Is the absolute number of APP kids going up because enrollment is up? Is the show-rate simply higher for unknown reasons? Or are we identifying significantly more kids for testing, and a significantly greater number are now qualifying?

How you can make any plans for the future without this sort of thoughtful analysis is beyond me. Showing up at a meeting with a few raw numbers is not enough.

Dorothy Neville said...

Lori, showing up with only a few figures seeming pulled out of nowhere is the district norm. I completely agree with your frustrations.

With 450 APP kids expected next year at Lowell, how many are expected at TM? Maybe 250 or so? 10 years ago there were about 360 elementary APP kids total. So it looks to me like elementary APP has almost doubled in about 10 years. Overall neither the district as a whole, nor elementary enrollment has doubled in 10 years. The total APP figures for all grades has increased by about 50%, (from about a 1000 to about 1500 this year). And overall district enrollment has shot up how much? Ten percent? Twelve?

The HC office has for years sent out letters based on high test scores. It used to be that they sent out letters recommending testing based on WASL scores. So what is so different that they can tout the letters sent out regarding MAP scores? On the surface, MAP scores being not grade level standards based might help identify more kids who really are the outliers that need the program, but I don't have the data to conclude that.

So they used to send out the letters per WASL scores. What percent followed through with testing, what percent of the tested enrolled? Why don't we have those figures?

One claim last night was that the growth via MAP testing increased diversity in APP. Is that true? Did we get any actual data to that effect?

Anonymous said...

A very good post from Seattle APP blog...

Having read all the posts and comments on both blogs and the APP/AC minutes this year I see issue that has not been mentioned; the differences in the various APP programs resulting in the splits (talking about both elem and middle school.) As a HIMS APP parent,I am not convinced that the students at HIMS are getting the same curriculum/education as the WMS students. I am fairly certain there has been no collaboration between staff at the two APP middle school. Not sure about TM and Lowell collaboration.

I heard that there is an APP curriculum that was developed and sent to the middle schools, but also understand that this curriculum was not imbraced by some teachers. (Why they have this decision making power is unclear.)

What has also struck me this year is the lack of collaboration between HIMS and the IHS/IB program. My student was told that a few assignments were prepare them for the GHS program. You would think that HIMS APP would want to retool to gear students to IHS/IB. Granted this was the first year, last minute program added to the menu of options, but at the very least you would expect the HIMS APP teachers to meet with IB teachers to learn about the program.

What we have is a lot of throwing mud at the walls and seeing what sticks. The lack ongoing collabroation between the different schools with APP programs will only get worse as more APP sites are created resulting in a completely fractured program- regardless if the Lowell cohort is kept together next year at Lincoln.

Also, the Lowell community should be very wary of moving into another school, such as Jane Addams. If the staff and community do not welcome APP you will encounter similar issues that HIMS APP families are seeing. (and my view is HIMS APP parents are not really speaking up as you know how we need to walk on egg shells.)


I know they need a solution to this crisis and one will be forthcoming shortly.

What I recommend for next year is to have the APP/AC push hard for alignment across all the programs and collaboration among all APP teachers to ensure that whatever APP site your student attends they are assured access to the same APP curriculum/education. I would also ensure that any teacher lacking gifted education experienced is paired with a teacher with this experience as a mentor.

HIMS parent

Grow A Pair said...

Bob Vaughan probably needs to get out of his shell and start talking to and for the Advanced Learning community. ALO, APP and Spectrum are some of the the main drivers for increasing rigor in the district. All kids should have these programs readily available to them and all parents should be aware of them and how they function and who they serve.
Bob is on the WA OSPI gifted boards, where, I'm afraid, he hears too many horror stories regarding the political challenges of gifted advocacy. These issues should be addressed, and Bob could get the ball rolling for everyone. Let's face it, gifted ed is a hard sell, as evidenced at Wedgwood, Lawton, Viewridge and other schools and districts. The parents of gifted kids can get myopic and pushy. The opposition gets resentful and the labels, which everybody claims to hate, start flying around like cedar pollen on a windy day.
Gifted ed managers are by nature a risk averse lot and Bob fits that mold. I just wish he would push a little harder for us.

Joanna said...

All the frustrations here could and should have been addressed much earlier. First a few side comments. Most of the overcrowding at Stevens is still due to the combination of those who live in the assignment area and those who are attending from outside of the current assignment due to grandfathering and sibling preference from outside the the assignment boundaries. The boundaries may not seem rational; however, they are there. My take on Bob Vaughan's position is that at one time he did engage more with the community and advocated more for the community. Remember he then did work for the District for a bit. I believe that when he returned it was made clear that there was a District hierarchy, and that he worked for the Superintendent, not the families. He could listen, bring information, and make recommendations to his bosses, who would make the decisions, and that it was his job to make those recommendations work.

Joanna said...

As for the other frustrations. Even without the extraordinary growth Lowell was headed to be over-enrolled and this could be seen a long time ago. The reason that the AOL neighborhood program needs APP for critical mass is that Lowell and Stevens basically share a neighborhood area and walk zones etc. Unless you were to expand Lowell's boundaries to the east and to South Lake Union there isn't a good neighborhood demographic. TOPS is supposedly the Alternative school for Central, but is located west of I-5 and is most accessible for Wallingford, Eastlake, and some of North Capitol Hill. Each piece seems to be addressed on a whim or a crisis. At least the APP community is being engaged. What worries me is the lack of the engagement with the rest of the community that will be profoundly affected. Both the families and communities are deeply affected by all the movement and last minute questionable engagement.

Erica said...

BTW, for those who were asking about T. T. Minor: that building has been leased to the Robinson Hamlin school until 2017.

Anonymous said...

HIMS parent said: What I recommend for next year is to have the APP/AC push hard for alignment across all the programs and collaboration among all APP teachers to ensure that whatever APP site your student attends they are assured access to the same APP curriculum/education. I would also ensure that any teacher lacking gifted education experienced is paired with a teacher with this experience as a mentor.

HIMS parent right on target. The reason splits - either the 4-5 grade split or another geographic split - are problematic is that there is no grade by grade alignment of curriculum. Grade level classes within the same school aren't even assured of the same basic content. As I remember, this was one of the criticisms of the APP audit that was done and quickly forgotten.

Add to this the large number of new faculty for next year and it's a recipe for disaster.

There has been a shift of classes at the middle school level that has pushed more middle school level work down to elementary - some middle school science units were done in 5th grade this year. The plan seems to have started in high school, filtered down to middle school, and hasn't been fully fleshed out for elementary school.

Valuable social studies units, which are actually delineated by OSPI (WA state history in 4th and US history up through the Constitution in 5th), seem to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Lowell parent

Anonymous said...

Not Able to Attend the Meeting asked for more details on the option of having 3 elementary APP sites. The short answer is that the District had no details - no proposed boundary maps, no cohort numbers, no decision on grandfathering, etc. But it's an option that is worth exploring, and it seems like it might actually be the best long-term solution. There are already close to enough students to support 3 cohorts, and 3 locations would attract a lot of new families to the program - families who are looking for shorter commute times and more of a neighborhood feel. The problem is that another split would bring a lot of short-term pain to a group that just went through a painful split. So I can understand that parents who went through the first split want a moratorium on further splits until their kids move on to middle school.

But if the District is considering it as an option, then we should be discussing the implications. For boundaries, it seems like it would make sense to draw the boundary between South and Central immediately to the south of Lowell, so that TM would retain as large a territory as possible. That means the boundary between Central and North would be somewhere north of the ship canal. This of course creates an issue with the roll-up to middle school.

It's also interesting to ponder what a 3 APP solution might look like if Lowell no longer had an APP program, TM was the APP location for everyone south of the ship canal, and there were 2 APP locations north of the ship canal. That wouldn't be something for next year, but maybe for a few years down the road.

Wishing for a Long-Term Plan

NESeattleMom said...

How about MAPP for our new program name--Moving APP... Or Mobile APP

Really, I think that having an all schools support of Spectrum would take the pressure off of APP, in the "intermediate" term--too late for now. If the school district is trying to create advanced learning opportunities for students who need these opportunities, why is the school district not promoting Spectrum seats at more schools, including separate Spectrum classrooms, such as my child was in at Wedgwood--heard last night they are phasing out separate Spectrum classes there, unconfirmed by me. As that person mentioned, there "shouldn't" be so much growth in APP if it is set up to be the top 2 percent.

The problem with splitting into three elementary sites is that there may not be enough of a cohort to have enough classrooms for every grade, and then we would be at risk of it not being a separate program in one of the three locations.

I felt that at the meeting last night the comments about why ALO can't be on the possibility list for going was not friendly. That school is a neighborhood school now.

We should think of APP as a all-city program and try to figure out the best solution across the program and also through high school.

But now the school district has made a mess of things by dividing up APP two years ago, because the two neighborhood schools (Lowell and TM) may be depending on having APP there to have enough students to grow their neighborhood schools.

HIMS has been building its music program from its feeder schools, the largest of which is Lowell. The school is growing, and will grow more with MacDonald being an international school like John Stanford. So is APP guaranteed space at HIMS? Last night at the meeting, the answer was Central and South families could go to Washington, but there was a giant silence about North APP families.

The ALO/General Ed families at Lowell probably did not realize the implication of this meeting to supposedly discuss the proposed idea of sending the 4-5 APP kids off to Lincoln. They probably had not idea that they could end up being left behind. It leaves them in a very difficult position to be building a school with that hanging over their heads. If they had had more time, they could have built in recruitment from Stevens, Montlake and McGilvra, or other overcrowded schools. But now we are under the deadline. It is unbelievably difficult.

Like the boy last night said, all the possible solutions have big drawbacks.

NESeattleMom said...

A lot of APP parents have referred to the Elementary APP split of two years ago as a flop--not sure what specifically they are saying that hasn't worked. Our family was out of APP for the first year of the split (last year) and back in for the second year (this year). Our child has had a great year at Lowell. But I feel there hasn't been any kind of blending of ALO/GenEd and APP. There used to be Monday morning assemblies every week. Now, I think they are monthly. The halls are very full, the library wasn't available for over two months due to MAP testing. Not sure how things have gone at Thurgood Marshall. One APP teacher there told me things went better than expected. When we went through the split two years ago, the school district said that co-housing the programs would make advanced learning more available, especially to south end families--I think they meant to increase diversity. To me, at the time, I couldn't see that co-housing would increase availability since it takes testing in to get in to APP. Since the split I don't see their goal having taken place, except the fact that ALO is available in every classroom, but the connection with APP didn't make sense then regarding more availability to people of other backgrounds. Maybe the teachers are collaborating between APP and AOL/GenEd, but it isn't evident from my time there volunteering in APP classroom. The teachers seem to be under a lot of pressure to teach all the time and achieve specific things at specific times without much time for interaction between programs. The focus on constantly working seems to have increased since my other child was there, probably due to MAP testing, Excellence for ALL, and No child left behind.

Floor Pie said...

I'm curious to hear what the special ed parents at Lowell think about the proposed changes. Anyone?

Po3 said...

Interesting comment about lack of alignment between the APP programs. Since this has been the overarching goal of the district why did they not jump on this golden opportunity to see how alignment works in practice by using the APP sites as a test - what works; what doesn't and then create best practices for district-wide rollout of aligned curriculum.

Just another example of lack of long term stratigic planning and how things operate when you are always in crisis mode.

Anonymous said...

Is advanced learning program such an anathema in other school districts, i.e. Lake Washington, Bellevue, Issaquah? I checked on some of those schools' websites and they offer AL and use similar testings? What I don't know is how they run it? Does anyone here know?

I cannot believe with such a large group of very well paid and well educated administrators on hand last night, someone has not been assigned to look at APP options many of you here have proposed..... that is IF they have a long term plan for APP in mind. If APP remains in crisis mode year after year, that should tell you the district doesn't want to formulate a long term plan because it doesn't want an APP or other AL set apart program.

I am beginning to think our school district does not value any set apart programs (APP/spectrum/Special Ed/ bilingual) because these programs make the work difficult and complicated. Who wants that? They are career administrators first and foremost. They answer to their bosses and will o' wisps political will, not us (or our kids' education).

- learning a lot about crisis management (can we get class credit for this?)

Anonymous said...

I agree with wishing for a long term plan. There are enough students for three locations and if there needs to be three locations, I would vastly prefer three geographic locations to one geographic and one one grade split.

However, I think that none of those locations should involve Lowell. Leave TM alone so that they can stabilize and grow and have the central area.

I think a NE and NW split makes more sense than North, Central and South. A NW location is much easier for QA/Mag than Lowell.

- north seattle parent

Stu said...

There are already close to enough students to support 3 cohorts

Unfortunately, the district never comes to ANY meeting with numbers and information; the staff usually shows up and says "this is the truth" and the board drinks the coolaid.

That said, it would be interesting to know which APP students live in which neighborhoods. The problem with just saying we'll divide the cohort again, besides tearing apart TWO communities, diluting the program, needing new teachers, curriculum alignment, busing, and potential split grade classes, is that we don't know where the kids live! What if, when you examine the actaul figures, it turns out that 70% of the Lowell kids would now be considered "North?" Do you leave the others at Lowell to figure out a new path? What if it's 50/50 but 80% of the 3rd/4th graders are now "North?" Does Lowell go 1,2,5?

The problem is that we keep having to have discussions in a vacuum. I actually believe it's an effort by the district to keep opposition off balance and it's exhausting.

For the past couple of years, we've been considering private school. We've struggled with the idea of chasing in our retirement, maybe selling a car, even moving to a smaller house, so that our son could get a better education. Up until last year, we kept convincing ourselves that, even with the turmoil, we had some faith in the APP teachers and knew that, somehow, they would continue to educate and inspire. But private schools offer other things that this district refuses to consider . . . consistency, continuity, and LESS DRAMA.

We saw our son's stress levels go up when his first school was threatened with closure; we watched him and his friends attend Lowell Split meetings and worry about school and friendships; we heard him commment on post-split Lowell, not that it was "bad" per se, he makes friends pretty easily, but that it was "different" and, his word, "lesser."

School can be a stressful time and this district does nothing to alleviate that stress and, in fact, operates in crises mode so often that the tension is now a given. Our children our learning from THAT example as well and it's not a lesson that I particularly appreciate year after year.

I'm a product of public schools, some really large ones in fact, and believe in the importance of supporting the district in any way possible. But they've stopped supporting my child, and my family, and the students in Seattle. They've become so wrapped up in reform, and administration, and running this like a business, they've completely forgotten that there are little kids involved.

I believe in public education but, if I had the means, I would get my child out of SPS.

stu

Anonymous said...

Board member Kay Smith-Blum talked at the very end and she said they just created a task force to look into APP so we have a long term plan. She said her kids were in APP and she became a board member because of his experience in APP and the last split. She said the MGJ was not receptive in her request to have a task force look into APP but the current superintendent is. Not sure what this really mean and why we got this big surprise if they are more receptive to APP. We will see what will happen since there were 4 board members at the meeting yesterday. Must be an election year.

Lowell Parent.

Erica said...

I don't think people fully grasp that general education and special needs families don't know this is happening. Nothing has been sent out the addresses how few students will be left at Lowell, that the before & after school programs are on the line, and that Lowell could lose music, art, PE, the nurse, etc. The email that has gone out has appeared on the face of it to only effect APP.

PTA? District? Lowell administration? I keep bringing this up, I have yet to see them take any action to inform effected parents.

Anonymous said...

Stu,

My kids were in private school in pre school - K and they had 3 principles in 3 years. Things changed everytime there is new leadership. So this crazy stuff can happen anywhere. The only bright spot in all of this is that our kids will learn how to deal with change and to relize that good/bad change is part of life.

nc parent

Joanna said...

Leasing? What were the lease terms for Mann that maybe recaptured for 2012? The lease only means that the school district cannot seek a new leasee until 2015; it does not mean that they cannot recapture it for Seattle Schools purposes. I don't know what types of solutions the community would come up with if they were truly engaged. And really for QA Lowell is just as convenient as a North End location. Magnolia might find NW more so. How about West Seattle? I may agree that TM is a good choice for the South End but would only offer it as an option. I think the discussion needs a little more fact mixed with data. I think a few more voices are needed here.
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.335&full=true
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.335.180

RCW 28A.335.040

Surplus school property, rental, lease, or use of — Authorized — Limitations.

(1) Every school district board of directors is authorized to permit
the rental, lease, or occasional use of all or any portion of any
surplus real property owned or lawfully held by the district to any
person, corporation, or government entity for profit or nonprofit,
commercial or noncommercial purposes: PROVIDED, That the leasing or
renting or use of such property is for a lawful purpose and does not
interfere with conduct of the district's educational program and
related activities: PROVIDED FURTHER, That the lease or rental
agreement entered into shall include provisions which permit the
recapture of the leased or rented surplus property of the district
should such property be needed for school purposes in the future
except in such cases where, due to proximity to an international
airport, land use has been so permanently altered as to preclude the
possible use of the property for a school housing students and the
school property has been heavily impacted by surrounding land uses so
that a school housing students would no longer be appropriate in that
area.

Anonymous said...

Stu,

They did put up some maps at the meeting that had dots showing where APP (or APP-qualified?) kids lived. The dots were impossible to see on the overhead, but the district said they will post the maps on the website.

When I said there are already close to enough kids for 3 cohorts, I was basing that on next year's enrollment of 450 APP kids at Lowell plus 200 or so at TM. It seems like 200 is about the minimum level for viability, so there might already be enough kids to support 3 locations. And the numbers are going up.

Wishing for a Long-Term Plan

Mark T. Weber said...

My name is Mark Weber and I am running for Director of District 2. I’ve been criticized on this blog and elsewhere for my “business approach”. But this issue is exactly what business people every day. There are procedures and protocols used to best utilize your resources and make intelligent choices.

First, you have to realize you are not going to make very body happy. I am not saying I have the solution because I don’t have all the facts. What I am saying there are ways to resolve these issues so the greatest benefit is realized by the greatest number. Business people do this sort of thing all the time. Academics don’t.

Steve said...

We can make our own maps, provided the school or PTA can provide access to the school directory information. Then, we can make maps that show the total current Lowell population (all programs), with other maps showing breakdowns by specific categories (e.g. APP students who live in the north end). I'm certain that the District will not provide this level of slice and dice, and with Google Maps, we can do it ourselves. This won't include the students coming into Lowell next year, and won't include anyone who opted out of being in the school directory. But it will be a good chunk of the population.

Perhaps this is already being done, but if not, it shouldn't be too difficult.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

I work in the business world in a big coporation and it is not run any better. I think as companies become big, the size makes it hard to manage and be effective. SPS is like a big coporation. Please don't say that Business people know better. If SPS is a business, you would cut and kill more programs to show that you are running at a profit. You should offer some real solutions before trying to get votes on this blog.

Parent

Anonymous said...

Stu. is this what you want?

Enrollment Trends for APP (it's by attendance area; I think just the enrolled students though, not those that are APP qualified but not in APP programs (ie, stayed in neighborhood school))

Enrollment Trends for Spectrum

SPS Enrollment Page> Enrollment Resources has the whole Annual Enrollment Report (just looks at current data. I can't find anything w/ the upcoming years data projections)
-katy

ArchStanton said...

there is going to be some disruption in the future, both for the students who remain at Lowell and the APP nomads (could that be the mascot if we leave behind the dragons?) who wander the streets looking for their promised educational experience.

What an apt description. It made me visualize three APP cohorts without a permanent building of their own. Moving from school to school every year or two, packing up their libraries and materials to relocate. Bringing their PTA fundraising, the involved parents, their student/widgets to fill in the capacity holes left behind by SPS mismanagement.

It could be the rising tide that lifts all boats. APP in every school. Just one (or two or three) school(s) at a time instead of scattered everywhere.

APP could show each community that they are not the stereotypes they are made out to be. It would expose APP students and parents to a greater range of diversity than a single location could provide.

Could APP embrace this vision? Say in exchange for guarantees that they would know which new school they would be attending a year from now, guaranteed transportation, guarantees that the cohort wouldn't be split. Families could know that some years APP would be in their neighborhood and other years they'd have a commute.

Of course I'd never buy any such guarantees made today. Just sharing my flash of crazy...

Rufus X said...

Mr. Weber:

I wish you good luck in your pursuits. I look forward to not voting for you.

Rufus X

we now return you to your regularly scheduled Lowell conversation

Mark T. Weber said...

I disagree with "parent". Just look at Ford. But, as my fahter used to say, "if you're happy with the way things are, there's no reason to change."

Joanna said...

testing. I used both a tag and anonymous and haven't seen the comment.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

Why were you not there at the meeting last night if you want this job? As a business person, I would have prepared for an interview. Posting on this blog is like an interview. You should have done more research and went to the meeting last night.

Parent

Joanna said...

Please the the RCW below. I am weary of the idea that all is set in stone for TT Minor until 2015. There are some Washington State rules here. With a truly engaged community I don't know if the facility would be a part of the neighborhood or APP solution or not, but it should not be ignored. It is the heart of where all the kids in the much of a neighborhood live.

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.335&full=true
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.335.180

RCW 28A.335.040

Surplus school property, rental, lease, or use of — Authorized — Limitations.

(1) Every school district board of directors is authorized to permit
the rental, lease, or occasional use of all or any portion of any
surplus real property owned or lawfully held by the district to any person, corporation, or government entity for profit or nonprofit, commercial or noncommercial purposes: PROVIDED, That the leasing or renting or use of such property is for a lawful purpose and does not interfere with conduct of the district's educational program and
related activities: PROVIDED FURTHER, That the lease or rental
agreement entered into shall include provisions which permit the
recapture of the leased or rented surplus property of the district
should such property be needed for school purposes in the future
except in such cases where, due to proximity to an international
airport, land use has been so permanently altered as to preclude the possible use of the property for a school housing students and th school property has been heavily impacted by surrounding land uses so that a school housing students would no longer be appropriate in that
area.

Anonymous said...

I echo what Erica said: many general ed families at Lowell probably don't know what's happening. There has been little effort to reach out to them and explain the situation beyond the mass mailings from the PTA.

And the incoming general ed families (next fall's kindergarteners and so on) may have heard nothing at all about this, since they presumably aren't on the Lowell Link mailing lists.

The APP community clearly has established channels of communication outside of what the school and the district offer (and they even reach incoming families). That's great, but nothing comparable seems to exist for the general ed group. I don't think anyone saw a need for them before.

- another concerned parent

Joanna said...

I am not sure why my posts regarding the RCW is not posting. What Erica said regarding not being able to recapture TT Minor before 2017 is not necessarily true. I don't know if TT Minor would be a part of the solution or not, but it should not be ignored.

Robyn said...

What's the projected enrollment for Viewlands next year? Is it just going to start with a K class or two? If so, APP 1-5 could go there, great playground, field, etc. There have been construction crews there for months. I imagine it will be ready for k-5 by Fall.

The District could then do another bait and switch using APP test scores to make Viewlands look awesome. Then, after open enrollment, they announce to the unsuspecting families that APP is moving to.....TBD.

joanna said...

My other comments had to do with the fact that Lowell is as conveniently located for much of QA as would a facility in the North End. TM seems like a good choice for APP. But, in reality for a great discussion more facts and data are needed, along with meaningful engagement of the communities involved. I am glad to see that there is some acknowledgement that the neighborhood programs are not being given that opportunity.

basically said...

"Board member Kay Smith-Blum talked at the very end and she said they just created a task force to look into APP so we have a long term plan. She said her kids were in APP and she became a board member because of his experience in APP and the last split. She said the MGJ was not receptive in her request to have a task force look into APP but the current superintendent is. Not sure what this really mean and why we got this big surprise if they are more receptive to APP. We will see what will happen since there were 4 board members at the meeting yesterday. Must be an election year.

Lowell Parent."

Task force?? That's great! If only there were already a group of people from the APP community, volunteers, including parents, and teachers and staff from APP schools they could go to for some advice and perspective!!

*coughcough*APPAdvisoryCommittee*coughcough*

Anonymous said...

There are procedures and protocols used to best utilize your resources and make intelligent choices.

Mr. Weber: For starters, why are you parroting Maria Goodloe-Johnson's talking points?

We've had a pro-business, pro-BRT, pro-LEV board long enough. We need real academics on the board, not more of the same. WSEADAWG

joanna said...

And, after trying to post a more lengthy piece unsuccessfully, I put an "s" at the end of "post." I want to correct that.
I am not sure why my post regarding the RCW is not posting. What Erica said regarding not being able to recapture TT Minor before 2017 is not necessarily true. I don't know if TT Minor would be a part of the solution or not, but it should not be ignored.

Robyn said...

People keep commenting on how APP is qualifying too many when it should only be 2% of kids. I have several comments after doing some basic and crude math.

1. That's the top 2% of kids nationally not in SPS.

2. With 1500 APP kids in SPS out of 47,000, that is a touch over 3%.

3. A number greater than 2% makes sense since kids that may be in, say, the 50th-98th percentile might go to private school in greater numbers than APP kids for a variety of obvious reasons.

People need to stop the nonsensical talk about parents of APP kids buying their way in, MAP testing allowing too many kids in, etc. etc. You can't use the growth of APP as basis for those arguments since 3% of kids in SPS qualifying for APP is hardly an anomaly based on 98th percentile nationally.

P.S. Thanks, Katy, for the links to those charts! Very interesting...What's up with the huge percentage of kids from the Eckstein service area in APP? Those parents must be sharing the name of their shrink who will provide the necessary numbers for APP appeals. HA! KIDDING!

Erica said...

Joanne,

Please provide some information for why I'm wrong about T. T. Minor being under lease to Robinson Hamlin. It's certainly possible I'm wrong, it's just information that I looked up on the internet, so I'd like to know what information you have that I don't.

Thanks!

ArchStanton said...

Lowell is as conveniently located for much of QA as would a facility in the North End.

As the crow flies, maybe. I'd wager that a lot of QA families would rather do a North-South commute. East-West commutes in this city are notoriously bad. Getting around/through the Mercer Mess doubly so. Even worse in big yellow buses.

Anonymous said...

If Kay Smith-Blum were truly paying attention the way she claimed to be, how could she miss that over-capacity Lowell + relaxed APP entrance requirements = immediate crisis? I found her speech embarrassing.

Stu said...

Stu. is this what you want?

Katy -

Close! I'm really thinking primarily about the elementary APP at this point, since Lowell is the issue-at-hand. They have enrollment numbers in these charts but, for elementary, it's not broken down by region/school. Do you know where we can get that?

Also, just a quick note to "Wishing for a Long-Term Plan:" 200 students is pretty small for a school and, more importantly, we would need to make sure that each program offers enough classes in each grade to make it educationally and financially viable. Just 2 classes in each grade level, with only 20 kids in a class, would be 200 kids and I don't think it'll break down that way. As someone else mentioned earlier, split level classes are a little harder with older elemetary APP kids. Personally, I would prefer to see two, well supported, academically aligned, APP programs of 450-550 kids but I don't see that happening.

Regardless of individual success stories, the split damaged the APP program and the inequities between buildings and educational experiences are only going to get worse without a solid plan. Dividing us again diminishes whatever limited power we might have and takes us closer toward the administration goal of spreading APP throughout the district.

In four years or so it'll be APP in 2 or 3 schools per "cluster," with guarantee enrollment. Spectrum will be in name only and include non-guaranteed space and walk-to-APP classes for math.

stu

dj said...

ArchStanton, actually, my husband was joking that APP students should be assigned to the Stanford center, and then schools could just requisition them out as needed and deposit them back when done.

Ha ha?

kellie said...

Erica,

The district has the ability to pull back on a lease if they plan to put the building into use as a school. The lease only prevents them from renting TTMinor to organizations other than Hamlin Robinson before 2017.

I don't know the specific terms but likely they need to give a year's notice that they intend to take the property back. That is what happened at Sandpoint. They gave the tenants one year notice and took the school back to put it in use.

The expensive part is that once a school building has been closed for more than two years, it needs to be re-opened at code for that year. That gets pricy.

Anonymous said...

Stu said, "In four years or so it'll be APP in 2 or 3 schools per "cluster," with guarantee enrollment. Spectrum will be in name only and include non-guaranteed space and walk-to-APP classes for math.'

I can see that scenario, but without the guaranteed seatings once it is dispersed in so many schools. Guaranteed enrollment vs. seat is a problem spectrum currently faces. Yes, you are in APP, but sorry not enough seats in ES and MS to accomodate you. Spectrum will be gone by done and it will be an "ALO" seat defined by whatever each principal defines ALO to be. When your numbers are that small within a school, your advocacy will be considered at best, "out of touch" and "unreasonable". Just talk to any Spec Ed. parent.

-Been there

joanna said...

Thank you for providing another example Kellie. Erica, a piece of it is the RCW.
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.335&full=true
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.335.180

RCW 28A.335.040

Surplus school property, rental, lease, or use of — Authorized — Limitations.

(1) Every school district board of directors is authorized to permit
the rental, lease, or occasional use of all or any portion of any
surplus real property owned or lawfully held by the district to any person, corporation, or government entity for profit or nonprofit,
commercial or noncommercial purposes: PROVIDED, That the leasing or
renting or use of such property is for a lawful purpose and does not
interfere with conduct of the district's educational program and
related activities: PROVIDED FURTHER, That the lease or rental
agreement entered into shall include provisions which permit the
recapture of the leased or rented surplus property of the district
should such property be needed for school purposes in the future
except in such cases where, due to proximity to an international
airport, land use has been so permanently altered as to preclude the possible use of the property for a school housing students and the school property has been heavily impacted by surrounding land uses so that a school housing students would no longer be appropriate in that
area.

apparent said...

Dear Anonymous @2.27 p.m.,

you wrote that "over-capacity Lowell + relaxed APP entrance requirements = immediate crisis?"

But you are wrong because there have been no relaxed APP entrance requirements, they remain where they have been all along, i.e: 98th%ile+ cognitive score, plus 95th%ile+ achievment scores in both reading and math. No change.

Let's keep our facts straight going forward.

dj said...

I guess I am not seeing the T.T. Minor fix. Would APP families want to move to that school? Probably not (also, my daughter went there, and it is not a big facility; there were about 200 students there at the time, and there was room, but I don't know that there is room for 450+; does anyone have the alleged functional capacity number?). You run into the exact same problem at Lowell; let's say you boot the ALO families. They definitely fit into T.T. Minor. But then you go through displacing the ALO families (which they would be upset about and would be difficult for them, all while making APP look bad -- plus you are booting special needs kids from the T.T. minor building) to maintain a foothold in a building that APP still may outgrow (and that has no room for portables or to build out) in an area nowhere near where any of the families live. If what you are trying to do is plan long-term, that doesn't seem like a good long-range plan.

Anonymous said...

"Lowell is as conveniently located for much of QA as would a facility in the North End.

As the crow flies, maybe. I'd wager that a lot of QA families would rather do a North-South commute. East-West commutes in this city are notoriously bad. Getting around/through the Mercer Mess doubly so. Even worse in big yellow buses. "

YES! From Magnolia at least, a North End school would be much more convenient than Lowell, unless they went crazily far north. I think that QA would be pretty similar. I think that East-of-Lake-Union/West-of-Lake Union ought to be considered equally as important as North-of-the-Ship-Canal/South-of-the-Ship-Canal.

joanna said...

TT Minor has housed up to 400 students without a problem. Actually as far as QA mass transit is concerned it is extremely accessible to QA. I am not necessarily seeing it as a solution for APP, but if the neighborhood lines change it is a logical facility to be considered for a neighborhood and would provide much more accessible location for most of the families. Lowell and Stevens share actual walk zones and the Lowell school is not accessible to many of the families it is suppose to serve. Lowell has for decades housed some type of option school for those reasons. The neighborhood is going be put through some changes no matter what happens to APP. My daughter was in APP, and I cannot imagine that the unnecessary turmoil is good for the program. However, the neighborhood has been tossed about on the whims of the politics too. Solutions leading to great schools and stability for all will be needed.

Anonymous said...

Count me in as another parent open to a three site split, if not now, maybe sometime in the future. If such a split can be worked into a better long-term plan, the health of APP may be better in the long run.

I hope that the current preference for moving the cohort together from parents having gone through the first split won't hurt the long-term success of APP throughout the city. It does seem to me that such a view would be a form of NIMBY-ism: it may be a good idea in theory, but don't you dare put MY child through another split -- even if it's better for the community as a whole in the long run.

Maybe a solution is to move the 1-5 cohort as one next year, wait until the first split parents and kids age out of the program, and then implement a 3-site split as numbers increase and hiring qualified teachers catches up.

As for flexibility in assignments (e.g. choice back to Spectrum, other schools): too bad this all happened after open enrollment ended. For various reasons, I would have liked to change my preferences and put Thurgood Marshall as my first choice, even though it would have meant that I get no bus service.

- NE Dad

joanna said...

Yes, thank you, Melissa.

Rufus X said...

NE Dad - I believe you can still apply; depending on what grade your child is in, you may get a placement or at least on the wait list. According to this doc (report run last Friday), there are no wait lists for TM APP gr 1-4, and 1 person on wait list for grade 5.

http://district.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/enrollment%20planning/WaitingListSummary%20June%2024%202011.pdf?sessionid=91eb762d21ec6172f0d3235d9c70fc68

(sorry, don't have the mad html skillz, have to copy/paste the text)

Anonymous said...

NE Dad and others calling for a split now. Who would teach your children? Lowell lost 6 APP teachers this year. There are so few remaining, it would be impossible to have two north APP sites and have enough veteran APP teachers at each school to mentor the new teachers. It would be a disaster.

I don't believe it's NIMBYism to not want your child to go through another split. My child is not a backyard, s/he is an actual person with feelings who lost their best friend just two years ago. The split was difficult and it would be difficult again.

split already

Anonymous said...

Why have we not heard anything from the District or APP AC or Lowell PTA? Hopefully they are working hard on resolving this issue and will announce something soon. It would still be nice to at least get an email from them on what they are working on and when we might hear something.

Parent waiting

Anonymous said...

parent waiting-

The district said they would announce something by Friday.

The PTA and APP AC are waiting also. We just have to wait and be angry.

annoyed

Anonymous said...

If they are taking until Friday, hopefully we will have time to revise/vote on what ever they come up with.

Worried parent

Anonymous said...

split already -

The teacher issue is huge but it is already an issue. They are going to need to hire the same number of new teachers regardless of the location of the students.

I am not a teacher so I have no idea what would be more appealing to attract the best new teacher. A 1-5 cohort in Lincoln for an unknown amount of time? A multigrade split? or known locations?

as I am not a teacher I have no clue, what would make the job most attractive. I do suspect that if part of APP were moved geographically to either Jane Addams in the NE or somewhere NW (Broadview Thompson, Viewlands, BFDay) that it might actually be easier to get the best teachers for the program.

- ne parent

Anonymous said...

worried parent-

The district said they must make a decision by July 8, one week from Friday.

Oh yeah, it's a holiday weekend!!!!

annoyed

Anonymous said...

NE parent

Aside from APP needing teachers period, we need teachers who know how to teach APP.

I am also not a teacher, but I have spoken to my kid's teachers and they say you need a couple of years to learn how to teach APP kids. I would imagine this sort of thing would be true for teachers changing grades as well.

Lowell has very few veteran teachers to mentor the new teachers. Aside from losing many teachers this year, we also had about three teachers new to the program. While I heard positive things about these teachers, they are by no means veterans.

When the splits happened two years ago, there were lots of veteran teachers. I believe they held APP together and allowed it to work as well as it did (I don't think the splits were overall positive, but I think the teachers did a great job). We don't have the veteran teachers now and a split would be very bad.

split already

ArchStanton said...

@ dj: I like it - I guess there are solutions more absurd than peeling off grades 4-5 and warehousing them at Lincoln.

Anonymous said...

The data links from Katy show the biggest spike in APP enrollment is in the Hamilton Service area.

The percent increase in APP enrollment (2009-2010), based on middle school service area:

Hamilton 30%
Whitman 18%
Eckstein 12%
Washington 7%

a reader

Anonymous said...

"getting the best teachers" has been mentioned a few times in this thread in regards to how to possibly staff 3 APPs by Sept - honestly, shouldn't "the best teachers" be in all schools? what differentiates an APP teacher from a Spectrum teacher, from a Gen Ed teacher? Supposedly there is no difference btwn a Spectrum and Gen ed teacher, do APP teachers have something more? qualifications? pay? anything special to the curriculum more than +2 years math/reading?

My child qualifies for APP but we've stayed in neighborhood schools b/c I didn't want to tack on an HOUR commute daily - so never really dug into my above queries. I have a feeling if there were a #3 APP located in the NE cluster, APP #s would only rise further - I'm curious if there is any trend already from Hamilton applicants this spring?? Elementary APP qualified families not willing to previously commute over the cut, but going to Hamilton for APP?

-Diane E.

Bird said...

The data links from Katy show the biggest spike in APP enrollment is in the Hamilton Service area.

The district needs to be really pushed into analyzing why the APP enrollment has gone up.

If they don't have a good grasp on that, they won't have a good grasp on how or if the growth will continue.

Without that they can't make a reasonable suggestion for the best next step.

I'd wager a guess that the Hamilton middle school location for APP made folks in the Hamilton area more willing to put their kids in the program. Maybe parents wanted their kids in the program at Hamilton, but weren't willing to send them to Washington.

Maybe the popularity in turn will drive the program out of Hamilton because of capacity issues. Then what happens?

Who knows?

Since capacity drives all, parents need to understand the levers on APP growth to know what will happen to the program in the near future.

Anonymous said...

The Board mtg. on capacity is scheduled for tomorrow, 5:15-6:30.

It is still possible to sign up for public comment at the July 6 Board meeting (plans for next year to be announced July 8).

FYI

Anonymous said...

Is the board meeting on capacity tomorrow open to the public? Where is the meeting?

Parent

Shannon said...

Diane,
You asked "shouldn't 'the best teachers' be in all schools? what differentiates an APP teacher from a Spectrum teacher, from a Gen Ed teacher?"

I can only speak from experience - to say that while all schools should have good teachers, APP teachers need to be good at teaching the APP curriculum. This is not the same thing as saying they are just good teachers.

Good APP teachers have often studied or learned from years teaching gifted kids, different learners and quirky thinkers. They know how to accelerate content while adapting it in a developmentally appropriate way.

We started this year in 4th grade with a new teacher who told me he thought he was just teaching the 6th grade curriculum. BUT when he gave the kids the 6th grade test, many struggled. That's when he was told to teach something six grade but different.

Everyone needs good teachers but APP kids need teachers who can teach the APP curriculum.

Anonymous said...

The meeting is listed on the District's main page - it's at JSSC, in the auditorium.

FYI

Mark T. Weber said...

@ anonymous at 2:09
So tell me, how well is your academic running the show now?

As for APP teachers, when the economy turns and the jobless rate goes back down to 5-6%, you'll see a talent drain from the district like you've never seen before.

What then?

Anonymous said...

Here is the slides for the capacity meeting tomorrow.

http://school-board.district.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/10-11%20agendas/062911agenda/20110629_Presentation_IntermediateCapacity.pdf

Construction of John Mashall Middle school open 2013 in Eckstein Area. For Hamilton the plan is to add portables.

Parent

Steve said...

I looked through the slides for the Capacity meeting tomorrow, and Lowell is not listed as one of the "over capacity" elementary schools. In fact, I don't see it anywhere in the slides. Why? I believe it may be the most over-enrolled school elementary school in the district...

Anonymous said...

Also on the slides:

> Open TT Minor 2015

> Washington - dependent on APP decision

Anonymous said...

Ugh. Hamilton is not listed on the slides as over-capacity. That can only mean they are NOT counting APP in their numbers. With APP, Hamilton is way over capacity.

- ne parent

Anonymous said...

Maybe they left Lowell out because the assumption is that APP will be gone from Lowell by 2013.

Parent

ArchStanton said...

Ugh. Hamilton is not listed on the slides as over-capacity. That can only mean they are NOT counting APP in their numbers. With APP, Hamilton is way over capacity.

Isn't that how Garfield got into it;s mess? Doesn't anyone there learn from past mistakes?

Anonymous said...

If the Capacity for John Marshall is 760, can they put North APP 1-8? Also interesting to see the comment about Washington Area "Dependent upon APP decision". What does that mean? Is it the 3 way slit they are proposing?

Lowell Parent

Jan said...

I am amazed when I think what this District has done to APP, and what its ramifications are for the future.

Consider -- 3 years ago, elementary APP had a single site, where they were welcome and shared space with a long-standing SPED program. Were there issues? -- Well, yes. First, the program seems to be growing, so it may well have been the case that the old APP program would have outgrown its site by about now in any case, and something would need to be done. Also, it was a long drive/ride for many families, meaning that some forewent the advantages of gifted education due to transportation issues.

But what hath the District wrought??? First, the south end APP kids have been split off and sent to cohouse with a gen ed program at TM. I suspected, and we now know -- based on what is happening at Lowell -- that they are only "renters" there -- if the TM neighborhood program ever grows, APP will be kicked out. The District's priorities are clear, and APP is at the bottom.

continued

wseadawg said...

Arch: If they learned from past mistakes, they'd stop making them. That would mean about 50 people at SPS would have to come up with a legitimate answer to the question: What in the Hell do you here?

So long as they remain in crisis mode, they can blend and hide as one of the hard working "hands on deck" that the Gang-Of-Four will applaud and thank for "all their hard work." Pardon my up-chuck.

When I see or hear "Capacity Management" I hear Meg Diaz's goats protesting "nya-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a Epic Fail, nya-a-a-a-a-a-a." I wonder if they eat PowerPoints? Hmmmm...

Jan said...

But, rather than leave Lowell for the REST of the APP kids, they closed TT Minor, and moved a neighborhood attendance program into Lowell -- which then immediately meant that as and when the two programs grew (which took only 2 years), Lowell learned that it is only a "renter" at Lowell as well. Growth means APP leaves -- not the new neighborhood program.

The lesson I would take from this is -- APP will never be safe in any location, for any period of time, if it is required to share space with any neighborhood attendance program. You will be "safe" at Lincoln for a little while -- but only because it is an interim site, so there is no permanent program there that can oust you. Jane Addams might be a good option, as it is an option, rather than an attendance school, but even then, if the "regular" program puts pressure on the school population, I think APP might well lose.

I come away with two things:
1. Since the District has the least concern about APP, it will move it anywhere at any time. The smaller the moveable pieces, the easier you make it for them.

2. The only way to be safe (again) -- the way the program WAS at Lowell before MGJ split it and added a trumping neighborhood program -- is to get the District to move all of you somewhere where you will NOT compete with an attendance program, or with any "more favored" program (which is probably all programs in the District EXCEPT special ed programs, and maybe AS 1.

And it gets worse, because we know from the Madrona experience of many years ago, that APP is heartily disliked in many schools, to the point of extreme hostility.

My vote would be -- make them send you ALL to Lincoln. And then try to get them to commit to sending you ALL to a single northend locations where you DO NOT cohouse with any neighborhood assignment program.

wseadawg said...

Mr. Weber: You asked for it.

You know nothing about APP or its teachers, obviously. And your Rovian scare tactics are pathetic and desperate. Good teachers don't do it for the money. They walk a higher path than you money-chaser types, and anyone involved in the schools know this.

How dare you insult the teaching profession by suggesting APP teachers are money-grubbing short-timers hiding out in schools waiting for the economy to heat up. The vast majority of APP teachers have taught during the boom and bust cycles, so again, you don't know what you are talking about. As a son of two teachers and parent of 2 students, I am disgusted by your cheap, opportunistic attitude and your worn-out, retreaded idea that "business knows best."

What's your campaign slogan? Elect me, or else? Pathetic.

Keep writing. Your opponents are laughing all the way into office.

ArchStanton said...

@wseadawg: Was that an intentional Office Space reference?

http://vodpod.com/watch/1582241-office-space-i-have-people-skillsvideo

Jan said...

ArchStanton: my recollection is that they DID count Garfield's APP kids. What they didn't do is adequately predict the effect of NSAP certainty (you live in or move to its assignment area, you are guaranteed space to GHS).

But I suspect that they may either be not counting (or heavily discounting) APP kids in general in this analysis -- because they don't intend to give them any certainty with respect to size or location of their programs. There are "real" (i.e. -- neighborhood assignment) heads, and then there are "discretionary" (i.e. -- any "program," but particularly Sped and APP) heads.

Hm. WV says there is also a "sychead," but I don't know what that is, unless maybe it is the way mine feels while looking at what this District is doing to a great AL program.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Shannon for an eloquent post on why a three-site split is not a good idea right now.

As a TM parent who went through the split at Lowell two years ago, I am appalled (but sadly not surprised) at how this is being botched by the District once again. I had been relatively impressed by Kay Smith-Blum and Nancy Coogan up to this point, but now I am seriously worried for the APP program as a whole. Lowell parents should not have to deal with this now and in this way. This kind of turmoil, once again, is insane.

I cannot say it strongly enough that a 3-way split in the near term is a horrible idea, especially if it involves putting Central families at Lowell. (A whole-hearted "yes" to what dj has posted so far.)
While this idea of of a North/Central/South-West Seattle split might make sense geographically, it does not fit so neatly with where the families are located. So to peal off what was formerly the Central cluster families (ie McGilvra, Stevens, Montlake and maybe Madrona) for a Central APP would be devastating to South APP at TM.

Thanks to the new SPS website, it seems a lot harder to find the data that used to be there. But here is what I have from 2008:

QA/Magnolia families - 28 (seems to fit with the 30 or so mentioned here)

Central cluster - 68 families

Total for Central APP = >100 students

While that might leave a robust community for the North APP (450-30 = 420) that would seriously impact the South APP (275-62 = barely 200).

And that is using old numbers. Also, I could post numbers on what that would do to the PTA fundraising efforts at TM, but I don't have hard facts at my finger tips for 2010-11. Unlike the District, I am not thrilled about making guesses.

Also, as I understand it, many of the new incoming families to TM this year are coming from McGilvra and Stevens. Which would pull TM's numbers down even lower, if they were funneled to a Central Lowell APP instead of TM.

TM's APP is growing, but not nearly at the same pace as the North APP now at Lowell has been growing.

As several folks have pointed out the idea of keeping an APP cohort at Lowell (if the rest of the 1-5 APP moved North) doesn't fit with the actual travel times/routes in Seattle. If anything a NE/NW split makes more sense. But I wouldn't want to be a proponent of that idea because I think it sets the stage for more splits.

Please, let's keep the whole of APP in mind and certainly the well-being of the elementary APP program as a whole at the forefront of the discussion.

Also, if anyone has better numbers on the current elementary APP geographic breakdown, please share!

Finally, regarding minimum numbers for an APP cohort, I would argue that it needs to be about 200 at the bare minimum. And even that is low. If you assume 25/class in 3-5 and two classes at each grade level, that is 150. If you have a 1/2 split plus a full other 2nd grade that is another 56 (approximately) which gets you to 200. TM had a slightly larger group than that in 2009-10 and 2010-11, so 220-250 seems like it can work. But anything smaller than that and you are talking about a lot of split grade classrooms and much less teacher support/collaboration within the building.

A TM parent

Jan said...

Also, A TM Parent:

Imagine a 200 kid APP split cohoused at a northend school that is overly full in its other neighborhood program. Now, you have the spectre of 25 kids in each of two APP classes, while the "regular" neighborhood kids squeeze 30 or 32 kids into each of their classes. Want to imagine the hostility and the snarky comments?

If the cohort was to be split, it should have been split 2 years ago along a north/south line that left the central/south kids at Lowell and sent a smaller contingent north -- to a newly reopening school. The reason it could have been smaller is that they could have anticipated growth once they took away the transportation barrier (and the increasing school population pressure/degredation of Spectrum by deconstructing it, etc. set in.

But this is all "rear view mirror" stuff. Those were the MGJ days, and wasn't nobody getting in the way of that woman and her plans (except maybe the board, and THAT wasn't going to happen with THAT board!)

Anonymous said...

Jan,

Absolutely - the numbers do not tell the whole story, and I wouldn't wish a diluted/split North APP program into a hostile and overcrowded neighborhood school. It serves no one.

At the time of the last split, the North APP program should have been moved north. It was the only fair thing to do. The District argued it was making the program more accessible, but it only became more accessible for some of us in the southend. Not for anyone north of the ship canal.

All of the posters who have made the point that APP has become the pawn of capacity management are right on target. None of this has to do with what is best for the program, the children or the teaching corps. I only hope that we can raise our voice together and continue to encourage the District not to make a second terrible decision on top of the last one.

A TM Parent

Mark T. Weber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Name said...

And with the APP community consumed by this latest crisis there is no energy to force the district to follow up on its prior commitments (curriculum, etc) or demand that they prove the prior split was at all beneficial to either population. Seems like all the split did was justify the closure of TT Minor so the district could rent it out to a private school in the hopes that they could take back the building in better shape then they left it.

Mark T. Weber said...

WSEADAWG,
I don't expect to get many votes in the election. But, you can accept the world as you wish it was, or you can accept it as it really is. Your choice.

BTW, 3 of 4 kids teach, but definitely not in Seattle. They know better.

Bird said...

If you want to maximize the chances that APP ceases to be a pawn of capacity management, I think the best bet is to advocate that the program be moved to a location that includes an optional general ed program.

As long as APP stands alone, the district will be tempted to use it to fill up holes in capacity.

If you want to avoid that make sure there is a general ed program that will be left behind in a less than half filled school if the APP cohort is pulled.

Make sure the program is optional so that neighborhood mandates don't consume the capacity.

A co-housed optional general ed program would also ensure that the families that choose the school don't have negative feelings about having APP forced upon them, and it would give APP families a way to have siblings in general ed attend the same school. Option schools give siblings top priority.

I really think this would be the best long term situation, but the district will never propose it. If you want it, you will have to work hard for it.

Patrick said...

M. Weber, you talk about being from the business world as if it was some kind of innovation, and you call out the incumbents on the board as if they made mistakes that wouldn't have happened in business. What you seem to be missing is that the incumbent gang of four are all from the business world. Several had educational experience as well, but what put the bread on their table is the private sector. And they were successful there. It didn't translate to success as an elected officials.

joanna said...

Bird, I think that there is something to be said for your recommendation. It does make sense to separate any of the optional programs and APP from neighborhood programs at the elementary level.

StepJ said...

A wise parent recently told me that there is no interest at the District level in educational experience. If each kid has a seat, then job completed.

Dear APP Parents, Please do not spend sleepless nights composing logical, reasonable, fact based resolutions or arguments about cohorts or split siblings or ….

Your kids will not receive commiserate consideration for your energies.

There are FOUR Directors up for re-election this year. Even though the current Board voted to remove Program Placement approval from their body to the Superintendent -- this might your best shot.

You have an interim Superintendent who wants the permanent job, and a majority of the Board up for re-election.

Who/what influences them?

kellie said...

Bird is correct. In the NSAP rules, the only buildings that can control capacity are option schools. Everyone else has to take all comers. So that means both Spectrum and APP only get excess capacity in attendance area buildings.

It is impossible to build a program geared to student learning without some ability to manage the capacity of the program.

In theory, the boundaries at the neighborhoods schools were drawn so that the capacity would match the building. All things relative, that is pretty straightforward and districts all around the US do this every day.

However, it is simply not possible to correctly guess both the attendance area density and the opt-in numbers for dual program buildings. If anyone gets that right over time, they should go straight to Vegas.

Terrence J. Menage, Ed.D. said...

I do hope people are beginning to fully understand some of the direct impacts that the dysfunctional district headquarters operations has on all schools; more importantly is how the insanity that is passing for management of our district negatively impacts the students and their families.

The fact that this type of mishandling of basic operations is rampant in the district should alert concerned members of our community to join in the campaign to restore proper order and function to how the Seattle Public Schools operates. Whether or not you personally like me or not, or even support my campaign, I hope people will ensure a sustained effort is mounted to end the status quo in our public schools.

www.menage4seattlekids.com

Best wishes,

Terrence

lowell for life said...

Mark T Weber

You are boggling my mind with how much you don't seem to care about your potential future constituents. Do you think it makes you sound glib to say you don't expect many votes?Then why bother running? Are you just a troll? You seem to be here to make provocative provacative remarks. I don't get your schtick at all.

lowell for life said...

uh...*provocative*

Stu said...

I don't expect to get many votes in the election.

This is an incredibly important election. I haven't studied every position that every candidate has put out there but, if you don't really care about people voting for you, and you don't expect to get many votes, why are you syphoning votes from other candidates who might actually be able to beat the incumbent?

Write articles, op-eds, make speeches, scream, cajole, argue, ask questions, but don't waste our time if you're not serious about getting the job and then doing it. Help defeat the gang of four.

stu

suep. said...

I was at the meeting and I roughly counted close to 200 people. It was well attended and people were highly engaged.

I just read the district's recap of the meeting, and I find at least one element inaccurate. The SPS notes (possibly taken by Lesley Rogers, SPS PR/comm person, who was there?) overstate the support for a 3-way split.

(See: "Synthesis of Community Feedback" at http://www.seattleschools.org/)

My take-away was there was not a lot of support for a 3-way split, especially in light of the fact that Lowell APP was already split just 2 years ago, and Lowell has experienced an unusually high amount of APP teacher attrition these past two years, so overall the program is not robust enough to be split again.

In fact, not that many people discussed it that much -- it was a brand new idea only introduced that night, shocking some people -- which is why Shannon spoke up about it and I did as well (both of us oppose it).

Furthermore, an incoming Lowell parent who spoke near the end of the meeting after hearing the rest of us split veterans warn about the ramifications of a splintered and weakened program, acknowledged that those who had not experienced the last split perhaps didn't realize how damaging it could be.

The original idea of banishing APP 4th & 5th graders to Lincoln to take the capacity management hit for the entire school was roundly opposed by most, early on in the meeting, and a call was made from a parent in the audience to take it off the table then and there.

Instead, a significant number of people supported moving all of Lowell APP together to create a true (if temporary) north-end site at Lincoln.

The stay-put idea seemed pretty untenable, especially when the idea of adding portables was explained away.

Another detail: the SPS notes imply the petition with 54 signatures was from the PTA. It wasn't.

Perhaps these are details, but the district has such a shaky track record on accurately reporting facts and numbers, or giving communities what they ask for, I think we should all keep an eye on how consent is reached in all this.

If the district pushes a pre-ordained agenda that damages the APP kids for the second time in two years, then I agree with others who have said that parents may take their outrage to the polls this election year.

It's true that because APP is considered a program and not a school, moving it is not the school board's decision (though it should be). But their job is to direct the superintendent towards sound and fair decisions. So they do have a role to play in this. I appreciated the fact that Directors Carr, Martin-Morris, Smith-Blum, DeBell and Maier showed up last night. I am hoping that Sherry Carr and Peter Maier realize that their unwise votes to split APP and close T.T. Minor in 2009 helped create the crisis our communities are now in. But they have the chance now to try to fix some of that.

And if this truly is a new, post-MGJ era, and Interim Supt. Enfield wants to right some past wrongs, this is a good opportunity to do so.

Stu said...

I am hoping that Sherry Carr and Peter Maier realize that their unwise votes to split APP and close T.T. Minor in 2009 helped create the crisis our communities are now in. But they have the chance now to try to fix some of that.

First of all, in Peter Maier's eyes, Peter Maier can do no wrong! I've never heard him "regret" anything or acknowledge his role in any of the problems in the district. In my opinion, he's the absolute worst of the gang of four because he's so absolute!

That said, I believe that fixing much of what's wrong in the district these days would not be that hard for this board, superintendent, and administration. It would, however, require a first step of acknowledging the mistakes that have been made and it would mean changing some direction and undoing some decisions. I have absolutely no faith that any of these people would ever admit to a wrong decision to I see little chance of change.

stu

Mark T. Weber said...

@ lowell for life & Stu,
Actually, I care very much about the people I would really serve and that’s the students of the district. Not the parents, not the teachers, and certainly not the staff at the Stafford Center. In this discussion is a small group of people concerned about one small problem that is a symptom of a much larger one. A school district has to have balance between academics and if not business, then at least organizational experts. People who can do long-range planning. Who can stand-back, not get emotional involved, and look at the big picture and see what will give the greatest benefit to the most number of students.

As any Executive Director of a non-profit can tell you, even non-profits have to be run like a businesses if they are to survive. Yes, their mission comes first but without a good solid structure underneath, their mission will fail because of a lack of planning, a good financial base, etc. A School District is no different. You need both to be successful.

I care very much about our schools and I believe I can help the district very much but I am also a realist. I am not going to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to get elected. You won’t see my name on yard signs throughout the city or hear any radio ads. And I am too outspoken to be a politician. But this job isn’t about politics but unfortunately, it has become that.

I visit many blogs. This is probably the most negative one in terms of listening to a dissenting opinion. If someone disagrees with the central theme being voiced, they are shouted down. The discussion becomes exclusive rather than inclusive. This blog is just an indicator of why the system won’t work. You expect instant results and you want it your way. There are other ways of doing things in school districts. Perhaps rather than narrowing our focus we should be broadening it.

I was asked why I didn’t attend the Lowell meeting. Because it is only one issue among many issues and I am trying to stand back, and unemotionally get my head wrapped around the big picture. To see the major trends and themes of dysfuntionality and determine what the root causes are and how they can be corrected. Something like that takes time. You can’t do it in a single glance. It’s too complex and the causes too deeply ingrained in the culture.

So, Lowell for life & Stu, I care very much about the students of our district and that’s where our focus should be. Not commuter times or my child has lost her best friend. The system is badly broken and you can’t fix it with band-aids. It needs to be torn down and rebuild.

3SchoolOK said...

I see a fair amount of vested interests within the group attempting to speak for the whole community in characterizing support, or lack of support, for the 3-school option.

Clearly, there's a cluster of North parents who had an outcome in mind before this whole thing started (and without whose vocal activism we might have been left at Lowell this year, for better or worse). Congratulations to them for exercising their political muscle and freedom of speech.

While "Vocal 2 Way" is the loudest, and they make many reasonable points, they don't speak for everyone. Most significantly, they don't speak for incoming families this year, or for incoming families in the coming years.

It's logical that 2011/12 incoming APP families and future incoming APP families will have the quietest voices in this debate. This group isn't (yet) politically connected, is not (yet) represented by the PTA, and in the case of future incoming families, are as yet obvlivious to what lies ahead. YET THESE FAMILIES ARE THE FUTURE OF THE ELEMENTARY APP PROGRAM. THEY EACH HAVE MORE REMAINING YEARS IN THE PROGRAM THAN "Vocal 2 Way".

So, to summarize:

Few of us are fully altruistic here. We're all advocating for the program, but most of us are putting our own kids' situations at top of mind. Understandable.

The loudest voices in the discussion (for example, 2011/12 5th grade parents, whose kids have 1 year left in elementary APP) are not those with the largest stake in the outcome (those with 5 years of elementary APP ahead).

The 3-school option is likely a lot more popular with the incoming and future-incoming groups, who are, and will continue to be underrepresented in this discussion.

AND TO BE CLEAR, the question of whether a 3 school configuration is the desired outcome is completely separate from where the boundaries should be drawn. Clearly, TM must be protected, which means that the boundary for "Central" must include some North of Ship Canal territory.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

3schoolok-

Anonymous just posted what I came on here to say, but their post will be deleted since they didn't sign it.

I think your analysis is very business like and cold. These are not just "4th and 5th graders," they are 10 and 11 year old kids.

Like it or not, my kid may be old, but we have been in the program and they deserve to finish elementary school decently. I would also argue that people new to the program don't yet know much about it. They will learn quickly what the issues are.

I don't believe there is much support for a 3rd school. We heard a few Monday night, but a few does not a majority make. I am not opposed to a 3rd ever, but not now.

I still want to know why we can be empathetic about other kids, but not APP kids?

frustrated

CCM said...

3Schoolok-

Looking in as a newcomer, I can see why a 3 school option might be attractive. As an "oldtimer" - I can say that if my kids were younger, a 3 school option might sound attractive.

I think the people who are advocating for keeping the North cohort together can see down the road that the 3 school option creates huge issues for middle school and high school.

Where would the Central school kids go to middle school if it includes kids north of the shipping canal? WMS doesn't have room for those additional kids.

Hamilton is already at capacity, so something is going to happen there at some point anyway - but do we really want to split the middle school into 3 pieces?

For those of us who experienced the first split, the problems that the middle school split created with class schedules was a nightmare and the loss of the higher level math class was devastating to those families whose children were going to be in that class.

Split it into 3 -- it will just not be possible to offer the APP track to a smaller cohort of kids - so goodbye to Biology in 8th grade and goodbye to Algebra and Geometry.

Think of the 1-12 program before you advocate solely for your kids. Elementary school goes by very quickly, and you aren't going to be happy with what's left of the program when your kids get to middle school if we continue to accept the district's go-to plan of "split at will".

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sue P, for posting that the notes are up. I never would have noticed that.

I thought the district did an ok job on the notes. The one area I saw that was oddly done was the section that said "likes." That section did make it look like there was more support for 3 schools than I believe there is. I thought "like" was an odd word choice because what's to like about any of this?

I also want to be clear to people who were not at the meeting that this 3rd split option came with ABSOLUTELY ZERO details. No costs, no geographic breakdowns, no potential locations, etc. People didn't know at all what this third split might be.

Reminder to those who think a 3rd split could be good. The original "north" option when they split the program before was Thurgood Marshall. Don't support anything the district says until you know exactly what it is.

Also, Sue is correct, the petition with 50 signatures had nothing to do with the PTA as the notes imply.

Splitting north APP again would be a disaster. I don't support it at all.

Realist

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mr. Weber, you said:
"You expect instant results and you want it your way."

No, we don't and I feel quite comfortable speaking for all on this blog on this point. If you are in SPS, unless you got here yesterday, you know there are NO instant results.

Our way? If you have been reading this thread, there is no one way to solve a problem. I am very proud of this particular thread because it is one of parents, on the ground, sussing through an issue and looking for solutions.

"I was asked why I didn’t attend the Lowell meeting. Because it is only one issue among many issues and I am trying to stand back, and unemotionally get my head wrapped around the big picture."

You will never get the big picture if you don't know the issues in our district in a real way. Reading about them won't do it. Are you going to the Work Session today? Is that big picture enough for you?

A school district needs to be well-run, you are right on that point. One reason we cannot get ahead in this district is the constant crises we have to the point where academics almost seems secondary. But education is NOT a business and children are not widgets. Bill Gates does not seem to get this and I fear you don't either.

You are certainly running an interesting campaign. It's nothing if not entertaining.

3School, you said:

The loudest voices in the discussion (for example, 2011/12 5th grade parents, whose kids have 1 year left in elementary APP) are not those with the largest stake in the outcome (those with 5 years of elementary APP ahead).

The parents who have been there longer have more experience and may be trying to protect YOUR child from lies ahead. Don't assign motives you don't know are there. Also, a year is a LONG time in the life of a child. Would this be your choice for your child?

CCM's wise words should be heeded. Your children will leave elementary someday and then what?

Mark T. Weber said...

Ms. Westbrook,

As I have said before, “If you’re happy with the way things are, then there’s no need to change.” I mean no disrespect to my opponents, but I could put forth some programs, throw them against the wall and see which ones stick with the voters. But I choose not to put forth something I know I proabably can't deliver. Under-promise and over-deliver.

You say education is not a business and you’re right. However, in any organization that requires change; real change comes about in a methodical, systematic, and deliberate way. Not with 2 minute sound bites and telling the voters what they want to hear just to get their vote. No, education is not a business. But there are parallels. Both need leaders who are not afraid to make necessary, but sometimes unpopular decisions. You need organization and you need planning. All of the above is lacking in the SPS.

You stated, “I am very proud of this particular thread because it is one of parents, on the ground, sussing through an issue and looking for solutions.” And yet, at the end of your rant you jumped all over 3School. You have an interesting blog and it’s nothing if not entertaining.

Lori said...

Here's an idea that may or may not be possible.

Can APP 1-5 stay at Lincoln for 2 years? If APP has to move, can't whoever is supposed to move into the building in 2012-13 either wait an additional year or go somewhere else? These are unusual times; others may need to pitch in for the greater good.

What I keep hearing and what I strongly believe is that the Lowell kids who already endured one painful split should not be made to endure another. These kids will be in 4th and 5th grade next year. The cohorts under them were not there for the split.

So, if we could eke out 2 more years as one 1-5 cohort somewhere, we'd get these kids off to middle school with the least amount of pain.

I'm wrestling with the whole 3 locations thing for many of the reasons already stated, but at the end of the day, I have to be a pragmatic, and it just seems like 3 sites are in our collective future. I like the idea of central/south, NW, and NE site, assuming of course that there is critical mass to support a rigorous program at each location. Maybe the NE program goes into Jane Addams and is actually a 1-8 cohort, which would further minimize the number of schools this particular group goes to and alleviate some middle school capacity issues.

Yes, I recognize all the issues people are concerned about with having to hire a bunch of new teachers, assuring consistency across programs and whatnot. But I've spoken to a lot of families who had 1st and 2nd graders with new teachers this year, and I've yet to hear a negative comment. It is possible to hire excellent teachers and for kids to have a great experience under their tutelage. I'm sorry that that wasn't the universal experience at Lowell this year. But bad years happen at every school. Heck, we had a dreadful experience at our neighborhood school for 1st grade. The teacher called in sick 2-3 days per week, September thru December. We got whatever random sub was available, and my child had had 5 different teachers by Christmas. It was awful, truly awful, for my child who struggles with anxiety to try to deal with the uncertainty and lack of consistency.

I don't know details of what happened this year at Lowell, but I believe some 4th grade families had a similar situation and the teacher was replaced mid year? I'm not trying to minimize what you went through. I just think that bad years are not unique to APP or Lowell and might have happened with or without the first split.

I don't know. I'm just trying to throw something out there that might meet a lot of needs: minimize harm to the older cohort but eventually meeting the geographic desires of the younger and future cohorts.

wseadawg said...

Mr. Weber: In all seriousness, when anyone purports to care about "kids first" my experiences have taught me to look up their sleeve or behind their back & see if their fingers are crossed. It's no wonder Michelle Rhee's latest non-profit money-making scam-org is called "Students First."

Thanks, but my kids are mine, not yours, nor some Johnny-come-lately, swashbuckling ed reformer swinging in on a chandelier to save us all from ourselves.

The problem with the current Ed Reform movement, which relies heavily upon the "run schools like a business mantra" and the latest "portfolio schools" theory (I suppose to run schools like hedge funds?), is its lack of tolerance for the very "realism" you value.

You also make the common outsider's mistake of claiming our system is "badly broken," which is untrue and ridiculous. Is Roosevelt broken? Garfield? Ballard? Chief Sealth? If that is your mindset, you posit yourself in the exact same place as so many of the "roll up our sleeves" business types who came before you, also believing they had all the answers.

What you are witnessing are incredibly involved, concerned, and devoted parents working incredibly hard and sacrificing their time and energies to deal with the "real" problem (not perceived) of how to expand the APP program to better serve students and families, without sacrificing quality.

I find your comments to be patronizing and condescending, but that's subjective. Objectively, I feel your approach would be unhelpful, more of the exact same thing we are experiencing now, and ignorant of knowledge and experience beyond what you read in the papers. Sorry, but I've had quite enough "run it like a business" for now. We clearly need less of that, not more. Bad timing.

"Running the district like a business" was the impetus for "right-sizing" the district by closing schools, and I have no doubt you would have supported that terrible mistake, given your predispositions evidenced in your comments.

You are free to dismiss the negativity, sarcasm, and complaints of parents on this blog as whining and such, but it is abundantly clear from your comments you have not yet walked a mile in our shoes. I am certain if you had, you would retract many of your comments and reorient your approach from your current theoretical/ideological basis, to a more knowledgeable, empirical one.

Bird said...

Mark,

I have to agree with wseadawg, from what I've seen of you so far, it looks to me like you aren't a very close follower of what goes on the district.

I wouldn't vote for you because you won't be an effective board member. It's hard enough to be an effective board member when you are very familiar with the details of how the district currently operates and are familiar with all the competing issues and priorities.

If you are really interested in serving on the board some day. You should get yourself to some of these work sessions and board meetings. Spend some serious time learning about the real problems the district faces by talking to parents and by helping grapple with a couple of the more difficult issues that the district is facing.
That would give your candidacy some legitimacy, and, hopefully, a few rudimentary skills necessary to serve on the board.

The district has serious issues. The board has its work cut out for it. No one needs a newbie occupying a board seat.

kellie said...

Lori,

The SBOC (Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center) is scheduled to be in Lincoln. They are not a large group (about 100-150). However, the SBOC had been of the team of broken promises and I would greatly hesitate on any advocacy that does not support them.

They are predominantly immigrants and stay at the SBOC for an indeterminate amount of time until they move into another school. That may change as they are looking to build them a world school out of the current program.

Anonymous said...

Can we all just ignore Mr. Weber? He is here just to get votes and talk about himself. Maybe someone should start a new threat to talk about Mr. Weber. Let's continue to talk about Lowell and not about Mr. Weber on this threat.

Lowell Parent

Mark T. Weber said...

Wseadawg

I like it. Maybe I’ll use, “swashbuckling ed reformer swinging in on a chandelier” in my campaign literature. I put all four of my kids through SPS. I spent almost every evening doing homework with at the dining room table. I worked my ass off to put them through college and when I was finally able to retire, I could be kicking back taking life easy but instead I went back to school and just this week finishing my master’s degree in education.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion of me. But let me tell you something. In 1992 I worked as a volunteer with an organization called Communities in Schools. I designed, raised the 250K, oversaw the construction of, and worked with Ted Howard Sr. and his staff to build the Fish and Roses building and program at Cleveland High School. Two years as a volunteer. Within six months after I finished my part, the building was being used for storage and later torn down during the remodel. Yes, you’re entitled to your opinion of me but don’t ever question my dedication to the students.

Lori said...

thanks, Kellie. What grades are in the SBOC program? If they are only 100-150 students, it seems like there might be room for both SBOC and APP once McDonald moves out.

Am I missing something? Lincoln seems enormous, so even if SBOC students are middle or high school age, is it unreasonable to think that they could be at the same location as APP 1-5?

Fremont Mama said...

I really like Lori's idea! I agree that a 3rd school is probably inevitable with the growth APP is experiencing. Staying at Lincoln for two years lets the 4th and 5th graders finish without having to move again and gives lots of time for planning new sites, hiring and training, etc.

I think the Central/South, NW and NE locations also make the most sense. I would expect it is much easier for Queen Anne and Magnolia families to get to NW Seattle than to Lowell. I also have my personal reasons...we live in Fremont (so just above the ship canal) and our commute to Lowell is long. I fear we would be drawn into the boundry for a central location if we did a South/Central/North split.

Susanne

wseadawg said...

Mr. Weber: The point was that saying you will focus not on parents or teachers, but students, is a rather convenient slogan. As is operating "businesslike" while demeaning "academics." Labels and slogans don't get far, and wear out fast.

Everything we do is child-centered in education. Is it not child centered for the teacher's union to negotiate a fair contract for teacher, so they can do their jobs well, and without interference from administrators? Many in the Ed Reform camps will tritely say "all the Union cares about is the teachers' paychecks, and protecting bad teachers, blah, blah" and it sounds like you'd largely agree. (I hope I'm wrong).

I've witnessed and participated first hand with teachers relying upon and asserting their collectively-bargained rights to protect and help students, too. But that is never talked about anywhere.

Good for you and your efforts, and I'm sorry they went to waste at Cleveland. But I'm not seeing anything from you to distinguish you from our current board, and that's my other point. If you're kids are finished with school, then your view is from the sideline. And there has been a plethora of changes in SPS just during the tenure of this Board, many of whom were elected saying exactly what you are saying, but then becoming rubber-stamping puppets for the larger business interests in town who want to remake the schools in their images, at the cost of many schools and programs that worked great, like APP, Spectrum, NOVA, and every school in the district that was doing fine before, but are now seriously overcrowded due to many ill-advised changes under the new NSAP.

This board tried to do exactly what you advocate: Stand back, take a long view, be unemotional, think about the system as a whole, and be more business-like. The result has been a disaster for many schools that were working fine, and barely any change for those that weren't.

It's not the system: It's administrators who insist on making system-wide changes instead of changes that affect individual schools and groups of students within those schools.

If your true desire is to help as many kids as you can, I cannot fathom why you would continue to espouse and tout a view and policy framework that is being discredited daily in SPS communities.

What the district needs more than anything right now is stability, predictability, and responsibility. I'm tired of hearing about "accountability" because it has proven to be mythical with this puppet School Board.

Broad, sweeping changes caused by imposing a private, non-profit, or business-like template upon the district has not worked. Not at all.

incredulous said...

"Can APP 1-5 stay at Lincoln for 2 years? If APP has to move, can't whoever is supposed to move into the building in 2012-13 either wait an additional year or go somewhere else? These are unusual times; others may need to pitch in for the greater good."

Honestly, stuff like this is the reason APP is vilified by many. Good grief, there are 40,000 + kids in SPS. APP is what 2% of the population? And everyone is supposed to pitch in for the "greater good?" Are you kidding?

Lori said...

Give me a break, incredulous. I'm clearly talking about looking for alternatives for a group that has not yet moved into Lincoln and isn't scheduled to do so for another full year.

My question is whether or not a group, which I know now to be the SBOC, is really dying to move to Lincoln or could they be served in another location? They already have to move once; does it matter if they move to Lincoln or somewhere else? Is there some reason that Lincoln is the only option? I'm asking because I don't know. I don't see how asking another group to change their plans more than a year from now is necessarily a huge sacrifice. Maybe it is. Let's talk about it.

Villify me if you want. I'm just trying to brainstorm here.

Mark T. Weber said...

Wseadawg,

I understand what you’re saying and I really do understand your frustrations. What has gone on in the past, no matter who is in charge doesn’t seem to work. Here are some facts. Seattle ranks 131st in the U.S. In math, the US ranks 28th out of the 30 industrial nations. 18th in reading. 22nd in science. 29 in problem solving. On a whole, we’re about equal to Lativa.

Is that acceptable to you? You said Roosevelt, Garfield and others are doing fine. And they are compared to Lativa. And unfortunately, the trend is downward.

So my question to you is, what are Finland, Japan, Korea, and Australia doing that we aren’t? And how can we emulate what they do and plug it into our system? We once had the finest K-12 system in the world but in the past 25 years we’ve been in a death-spiral. How do we turn that around?

wseadawg said...

Incredulous: Cut some slack. It's just a question.

Take away the APP label, and that same question would be asked by many parents being moved from any overcrowded schools. Go back and review all the sibling preference discussions prior to the NSAP, especially from NE parents wanting to get into, or avoid particular schools. It got very heated, but I don't remember seeing APP folks vilifying them or calling anyone selfish.

This sucks for everybody, and the last thing we need is divisiveness, labeling and vilification.

As a cohesive program, APP has unique concerns and challenges, specifically because the district chose to co-house it with non-APP programs, reversing John Stanford's long-standing preference against it. Nobody in APP relishes displacing or inconveniencing other schools & cohorts, because we know exactly how it feels to be excluded from the school you loved and thrived in.

Some folks are awful quick to pull the trigger and call out APP folk as selfish, elitist, and such. But would they say the same thing about any other special needs program in the district, for simply advocating for itself? Not that I've seen.

Speechless said...

Kellie, you're right on with your analysis of the NSAP. The District is having a really hard time internalizing that they no longer control the number of students "assigned" to any AA school.

Incredulous has a point. It is not uncommon of parents to focus on their kid and personal situation, and forget to look at the bigger picture. We end up not supporting each other and the culture of divisiveness reigns. How else can you explain that the petition to keep Lowell together has only gotten 400+ signatures? Who supported/lobbied for the three newly opened schools except for those immediately affected? Only now the APP community realizes that Lincoln could use even more love than what the parents of McDonald and QA have given it.

But I harbor no illusions, divided we'll remain, there are few, really few like Dorothy, Charlie and Melissa (you can agree or not with their stance) who look at the bigger picture.

Stu said...

Honestly, stuff like this is the reason APP is vilified by many. Good grief, there are 40,000 + kids in SPS. APP is what 2% of the population? And everyone is supposed to pitch in for the "greater good?" Are you kidding?

Wow . . . that first one's quite a telling sentence, isn't it? With that whole "the reason APP is vilified by many" in there? Phew! Pretty big leap you made there . . . kinda let that sneak out of your soul, did you?

There was a SUGGESTION, just a hint/start of an idea, that perhaps moving a community of 100-150 students might be delayed a year so that a community of 500 students could stay together. Remember, APP can not stay at Lowell as it stands right now . . . kids are going to be moved. But, more than that, this was just an idea that was floated and, as with so many other ideas on these boards, someone will add something like, "Hey, maybe they can co-exist at Lincoln, the way the current elementary, which would be leaving, would co-exist with APP this year. See? Now an idea that might not have seemed "fair," has another chapter that might please everyone. APP moves to Lincoln for 2 years, which takes a tiny bit of pressure off the decision making rush, AND SBOC still continues along their own path.

Now, I do something like take THAT idea and add another thought . . . the Lowell APP community has a history (anyone remember history?) of working really well with the Special ED students at Lowell. Maybe the APP program at Lincoln would also be able to work with the SBOC kids when they're there . . . working on language and other issues.

See what I did? Instead of slamming the idea of picking one population over another, which is not what was suggested in the first place and was taken out of context, I expanded on an expanded version . . . someone else will point out the flaw in MY thinking and expand it even further. Eventually, there will be a great solution, that'll take care of all the students involved. And then, and ONLY then, will the district ignore it and do something that screws everyone everywhere . . . after first hiring some more staff to study it.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to "contribute" to the process instead of spew some poisonous vilification talk.

stu

Anonymous said...

PLEASE, people - ignore Mr. Weber. Take it offline if you want to waste your energy communicating with him.

-Let's focus

wseadawg said...

Mr. Weber: First, we have to accept that other nations have ascended just as we have descended, so a little perspective is in order. It would not bother me to be anywhere in the top 10, given the U.S. population, challenges, growing diversity, etc.

Second, the answer to the math debacle couldn't be clearer: Give traditional math instruction to kids who thrive in it, and offer alternative/discovery/everyday math to students who prefer or thrive with it, instead of this back and forth, either/or math curriculum policy. If both roads lead to the same end, let the children choose which one to take. But we aren't going to see this as corporate-funded think tanks help position their pet companies to cease curriculum contracts throughout the nation. Ask yourself this: With all the opposition to Discovery Math, why did SPS choose to pay 25 million for it? Because the corporate-backed, educational think tanks wanted it, that's why. This is bi-partisan, by the way, as the Democrats for Education Reform are every bit as profit & power -driven as the Heritage Foundation or Cato Institute.

I also disagree with the overall narrative about how far we've fallen. The work my children are doing in public school today out-paces and goes deeper than anything I did 25 years ago, and I was an Honors Student then. I'm particularly pleased with the science instruction my kids are receiving, as well as the emphasis on good writing. I think schools put too much emphasis, and declare victory on improved reading abilities, as beyond the primary grades, reading is a function of practice, and individual motivation has a greater impact than school instruction.

We will not see the graduation rates improve much until school work is once again seen as a means to a greater end. We have off-shored too many white collar and manufacturing jobs, and as a result, we have created an economic situation in this country where we no longer have a good answer for the question: Why should I go to school?

For anyone academically inclined, the answer is obvious, to learn. But for others, they see no reason to buy in, especially when professional athletes and musicians make 50 times what a doctor makes, while partying and watching a lot more MTV.

We can leapfrog a few countries, but unless we focus as a nation on math and science as we did during the Eisenhower administration during the space race years, we aren't going to move much in these days of austerity.

My short answer to your question: Sustainable Progress.

Unfortunately, in a world of shock and awe, what we see instead is 100mph in one direction, then slamming on the brakes, spinning around and going 100mph in the opposite direction, then back, then back again. No history lessons. No institutional memory. Just more folks who think they can shoot magic bullets, and don't mind waiting until the eleventh hour to do so.

Stu said...

Mark T. Weber wrote: So my question to you is, what are Finland, Japan, Korea, and Australia doing that we aren’t? And how can we emulate what they do and plug it into our system? We once had the finest K-12 system in the world but in the past 25 years we’ve been in a death-spiral. How do we turn that around?

OK . .so you're the one running for office. How DO we turn that around? You're condemning the US system of education with a pretty wide brush, and that's ok; then you paint our entire district with the same broad strokes and, that's ok too; then you drill down to the individual school level and see that a lot of our schools are doing pretty well IN SPITE of the throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach the district has taken. But then you get down to the less successful schools and/or programs and you're still using the same brush.

What specifically would you do about APP? What specifically would you do about Rainier Beach? What specifically do you want to see happen in West Seattle? What specifically would you do about overcrowding in the NE . . and overflowing middle schools . . . and curriculum alignment . . . and staffing shortages . . and where would YOU get the money.

It's easy to say that the system is broken, and personally I think there's a lot of good people doing a lot of good things out there -- maybe not as many in administration/board positions -- that should be rewarded and thanked.

So, my question is not what's your platform, it's what do YOU want this district to do? What would YOU do if elected and, since it's still this thread, what is the future of the APP program, and all advanced learning, with YOU on the board.

This isn't me joking. You already know that I'm not voting for the incumbent; give me a reason to vote for you.

Stu

Lori said...

Thank you, Stu. I had that same thought about how this might actually be a *good* idea for the two populations, APP and SBOC, to co-exist. Again, I don't know, but maybe, just maybe, we should try to find out.

The APP AC is meeting today to brainstorm. If you really think this idea has any merit, is worthy of any further consideration, email them now so it can be put on the table, and urge them to bring the SBOC community into the discussion if this has any legs.

wseadawg said...

OK Anonymous. Sorry to engage and wander off topic. Sorry Mr. Weber, I gotta go now.

Love your rebuttal Stu. 100% accurate. As misunderstood as APP is, flak comes built in.

Incredulous: Just keep in mind that Lincoln is a temporary home for any kids who'll be going there. Asking another group to wait a year because of district-generated crises is not like pushing somebody out of their building. Again, cut some slack. It does APP no good to trample on other groups and that's not what was being floated.

I will not accept that we have to live divided, envious & jealous of one another. I am happy with my kids' situation, and I want every parent in SPS to feel the same way. It does me no good as a city, community, and civilization to advance my interests at the expense of creating resistance and resentment in my neighbors. If I'm stepping on toes, by all means, let me know. But there's no reason to cast aspersions around. Was Summit bad-mouthed for not wanting to surrender it's building for a badly needed new school in the NE? Let's be fair.

Dorothy Neville said...

Not only has SBOC been promised a building for eons, it has also been promised that it would develop into a world school, a place where immigrant students got more support, did not get moved into comprehensive high schools too fast and could take more (or all) classes for regular credit. It is something desperately needed and has been a broken promise for a lot longer than the NSAP and APP splits. The broken promises are even more egregious given the new CBA which significantly cuts back on ELL IAs and support. Just ask high school teachers who post here about having Somali students in there class with absolutely no language support.

SBOC kept getting pushed off the BEX list because other schools were deemed more important. SBOC was also moved two years ago, cohoused in Meany with Nova. This year, after much advocating and after years and years of broken promises, the board did include funding to create the world school in the budget (unless that got cut later, but I never heard it was cut). Perhaps the move two years ago means that all the student population has turned over, but it still affects teachers and staff and their resources.

They must move, in order to rebuild Meany. I do not believe there is any other open building that could be configured for high school than Lincoln. Are there?

Maureen said...

Bird said (and kellie agreed):If you want to maximize the chances that APP ceases to be a pawn of capacity management, I think the best bet is to advocate that the program be moved to a location that includes an optional general ed program.

I absolutely see why this is the practical solution, but I feel the need to stick up for Option programs. Leaving any school to take the odds and ends left to it by a guarenteed access program would be the death of it. Given the limited capacity of our existing programs, no Option school cohoused with APP could ever expect to have even one classroom per grade level. Pinehurst is the only school that could conceivably deal with that and the hope is that they can grow. Making them take APP's random leftover seats (and presumably assigning them an APP principal), would further weaken their community.

The NSAP destroyed our old system of capacity management and SPS chose to pretend that they could continue to run neighborhood schools at 100% (or more) of capacity. As kellie has pointed out in the past, the only way to run a neighborhood based assignment plan is to keep schools running at 85-90% of capacity. That is the price such systems pay for predictable assignment. Goodloe-Johnson and the Board tried to pretend that that lunch would be free. Now they (and APP families)are paying the price.

Incoming APP Parent said...

What is the real number of SBOC students? Their website mentions over 400 each year: http://sps.seattleschools.org/schools/secboc/aboutus.html

Also, has anyone contacted the local TV news networks (King5/Q13Fox) with the APP displacement story? I would myself, but being new I don't have enough background. I know it's "special interest" but it's indicative of the SPS capacity crisis in general. If most parent support is for keeping the cohort together for a few more years then this should be made public. We can't rely on SPS reporting the facts, even in their meeting minutes.

And please open a new thread to discuss with Mr. Weber. This is taking too much of my time to get through all these comments as it is.

Anonymous said...

Aren't SBOC students mostly high school age? I don't know too much about the program, but I thought I remembered from all the closure stuff two years ago they are high school age.

Would the district co-house a high school with an elementary school? Again, from the recent closures, I thought they wouldn't do that.

I would also like the APP 4th and 5th graders allowed to age out before another split. I think one split per elementary life is enough.

Interested

Bird said...

Let me say I would never advocate for APP to be moved into an existing option school. In fact, I wouldn't advocate for APP to be moved into any exisiting school.

My proposal was to move APP to a building where an option program could be built ground up.

Would anyone sign up for such a school?

I suspect that you would get siblings. I think you'd also probably get people enrolling Kindergarten who expect their kid may qualify for APP at some point.

I know I would have signed up one of my kids for such an option program for this reason if such a school existed. We figured the kid was good candidate for APP before school, and sure enough qualified upon testing, but we decided not to move because we didn't want to go through the trauma of changing schools after having gone through a pretty touch transition into Kindergarten.

So I think such a school would fill pretty easily, but it is hard to know exactly how and if it would work. I may be wrong.

You are right, however, about the craziness of the district drawing down capacity just before entering into a system that guaranteed assignments to all comers at every school.

Mark T. Weber said...

Wseadawg & stu,

Wseadawg –
I agree completely with your post at 12:03. I like your short answer of “sustainable progress” because the change isn’t going to come quickly. I also agree that more emphasis should be put on math and science and maybe, on a national level, rekindling the space program would help that.

Stu –
As to APP at Lowell specifically, from what I’ve read, Lori’s plan seems to make the most sense but there’s caveat, before I would sign off on it as a Board Member I’d want to see some REAL projections as to the ripple effect it would have on other programs, schools etc.

As to Rainier Beach, why are we losing so many teachers? Are other districts cherry-picking our best teaching talent and if so, how can we stop it the talent drain?

But Stu, as for my platform. I could easily spout off the top of head some ideas and programs that will have a great sound to them but have no chance in heck of working. I guess I’m kind of a slow and methodically when approaching a challenge. I’m also a visual and hands-on learner and I’ve already replaced my thesis map with a big, fresh piece of butcher paper. Starting next week after I’ve done the 1,000th tweak to and handed in my thesis, I will start listing all issues I know of and can find out about. I will research if the before mentioned countries faced those same issues and how did they handle them. Would it work here? If not, can we make a variation work? What affect would that solution have on the other parts of the district; what is the ripple effect? Once I think I have a solution I would seek counsel. Let’s say the issue is math. I am not an SME on math so I seek counsel from math teachers. They’re the experts. Once I felt I had a viable solution, I would propose it. But then, I would only be one member of the board.

What I am saying is I don’t have a specific plan of action other than to work my ass off, research other best practices both in the US and overseas, and as you might have noticed, I don’t push around easily and I don’t have a problem speaking my piece. If that’s a problem for some, then so be it. But you won’t elect a harder worker or one who is more passionate about the job and the challenges than me.

Anonymous said...

Before this bomshell announcement was dropped on the Lowell community a week ago, there was intense discussion on another thread on this blog called "What's going on at Lowell? It is now down in older posts, but should be required reading for those of you just joining the discussion, especially those thinking three sites would be okay. Lowell ALO/APP/SpEd staff have had a very hard year, may parents were unaware of the siuation. This was going on well before the overcrowding issue was brought up. It is the reason many staff have left this year. Why do I bring up that issue when we have this huge one? They are related. When ALO families express concern about what they will be left with next year, when APP families worry who will be their principal in a new place, when APP families worry that there just aren't enough experienced teachers for three locations, those climate problems are part of what's underlying the anxiety. Yes, we had some terrific new teachers this year, but they worked closely with veterans and went to professional development for advanced learners. Yes, you need to have a clue about advanced learners to work well with them. Even if the numbers are big in the North,there are other reasons we are NOT STRONG ENOUGH to be split so soon.

open ears

Anonymous said...

Mark et al, please don't hijack threads.


:-(

seattle citizen said...

MY suggestion for the APP community: Board policies (see new policies E03.00 and E04.00, particularly) provide for community partnerships. E03.00 lays the groundwork for and declares the intent of the district to support help from the community. E04.00 addresses the proposed "lead partner" that might arise out of E03.00, at a particular building or with the offer of particular help. The Lead Partner would basically be party to a charter, expected to measure outcomes, etc, to justify continuing the contract. Under E04.00, the APP community could join with the Safety Net and the Gen Ed communities to draft a design for a new program, with attendant mechanisms for gathering data and reporting on it. This proposed learning program (the GESNAPP! School, it should be called) would certainly have a lot of active and supportive parent/guardian/community members pushing for its creation and supporting it once it is handed to the Board for approval.
Use E04.00. Become an umbrella program for excellence. Identify yourselves as a Lead Partner in petition to the board and in the media. Use E04.00 to create a new program that will most benefit all "levels" of students.

seattle citizen said...

oh, and then ask for a building. It would have to be a big one, as this new program is sure to be popular. I suggest starting with Marshall, and then as the program grows to K-12, using a new HS at Wilson Pacific. Gates will build it, I'm sure, because they are all about the community supporting public education.

ArchStanton said...

Please create a thread specifically for candidates to interact with the entire blog community. Everyone gives the APP community grief when we start to dominate other threads - and we try not to as a result. I'd like board candidates and others to treat us with the same respect.

3SchoolOK said...

@anonymous (8:20am): None of this discussion is cold or businesslike. This is emotional for everyone. Some of our families are going to be affected in ways that aren't welcome for us, and that's sad for all of us. So can we acknowledge that self-interest has driven aspects of the discussion? That's normal. That's human. It's ok to be honest about it.

@CCM and Melissa: It's a fair point that others who have been in the program longer may feel they're better equipped than I am to look out for my kids' long term interests. Perhaps that's true. Then again, at least some of those who disagree with you may be less ignorant than you suppose.

Regardless, my main point in posting was to serve as a counterweight to the many posts here intimating that support for a 3 school option is overstated (or perhaps negligible). If you were to poll incoming parents, or parents who expect to be incoming parents in the coming years, I suspect you'd find that opinion is somewhat more mixed than many here have implied.

Anonymous said...

3SchoolOK,

I am an incoming parent and I can say that I am definitely opposed to splitting the school right now. It is quite obvious that a split will be necessary as this program grows, but my fervent hope would be that first there would be a clear long term plan in place, a permanent location (or at least a plan for one) and stability with the teaching staff. I don't think it can be overstated how important it is to stabilize the program before breaking it apart.

On top of this, I think it is paramount to announce the split well before open enrollment. It is unconscionable to me that this idea is even on the table this late in the game.

-NE parent new to public school and APP

thanks, SPS, for the gray hair. said...

Fascinating and nauseating discussion here. Thanks all.
I feel the clock ticking on the July 8 decision deadline. What is the best way to get our ideas to the district/ APP-AC/other parents?
I am strongly opposed to a split for the fall but I do agree that in 1-2 years a split could be a good thing for us. Many of you (Lori) have creative ideas for interim solutions. To whom can we communicate these ideas? Is anyone listening? Or has the district already decided what will happen and they're just waiting till the holiday weekend to announce?
WHO SHOULD I CALL/EMAIL WITH MY OPINION? Thanks for any advice.

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