Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Odds and Ends

Olympic Hills Capacity Mtg on Monday night
Packed house, I was almost surprised they had it such a small school but it was cozy. 

Attendees - SPS staff, Directors Peaslee and Carr (but oddly, not Martin-Morris as one of the central issues was Eckstein that sits in his district) and FACMAC co-chairs and other members of the Committee.  Rep. Gerry Pollet also was in attendance.  The room was packed full.

I liked the way this meeting went.  There was just a brief presentation, then principal Zoe Jenkins did a roll call of sorts of what schools were there.  She listed them on a blackboard, plus a spot for community input.  She then handed out a card for each school to anyone who wanted to speak.  In that way, we had input from all schools plus a rotation of speakers.   There were about 12 schools represented.

What I did hear firmly:

- Pinehurst is to stay in place.  No mention of exactly what that would then mean for Jane Addams. 

That's it.

The testimony, while sometimes funny and sometimes moving, but always respectful (to everyone's credit), really didn't move the dial. 

What I did hear:

- people understand a short-term plan for next year but they also worry about why they see no long-term plan.  (Answer from me: because they are doing triage, not planning.  Sorry but that's what it looks like.  Also, the uncertainly of BEX may be holding staff back from saying anything out loud.)

- some want every seat filled.  So because Jane Addams is moving towards filling their school, since the seats are needed, JA should move.  Well, if that is the reasoning then I can think of several not-full schools that should be moving and yet that's not happening.

- Pinehurst and JA parents just worry about stability and long-term enrollment.  They're right.  It is very hard to attract parents if the district doesn't make a long-term commitment to a program. 

- lots of opposition to retaining current 5th graders at Lincoln into 6th grade there.  I think the fairness issues made sense to many in attendance.  And, as one student said himself, he'd leave APP before he left Hamilton. 

- Wild card - John Marshall.  It's like spinning a wheel - where will it stop?  There are many needs and only one John Marshall.

- Eckstein parents are making a case not just against overcrowding but for safety as well.  I think their frustration (and rightly so) is that the district is doing nothing about it for a whole year.  On the other hand, there are a lot of unsafe school conditions in SPS that have been routinely ignored for years.  I pointed out that when my sons were at Eckstein and I thought it overcrowded at 1150, I was told there were 2,000 students there in the '70s and to quit whining.

-The evening ended on a poignant note.  There was a mom who has a Down's Syndrome child in SPS.   She said they had to work very hard to find a school for him but now he is in a place where he is loved and accepted.  She said she understood spreadsheets and capacity but there is a human element to moving these children around and for some, an incredible hardship.

RTTT - Now What?

Short article from Ed Week about the vast implementation needs of getting RTTT money.  I know Mary Jean Ryan who has been working on this project and I'll have to ask her how they think it will work.  


The list of amendments is quite long for state Race to the Top winners, which are still struggling to keep up with all of their promises. Many had trouble finding enough qualified staff members to jump-start their plans, and capacity within budget-strapped state departments of education remains an issue.
And the same capacity issue that faces states will face these winning districts, said Bellwether Education Partners' Andy Smarick. Since the list of winners includes many medium- or even small-sized districts, many may need to hire additional staff or consultants to execute their plans.
"I think this is going to be the biggest issue," he said. "It's not only about hiring enough people but the right people."
 I'm off to the Work Session on Capacity.  Any breaking news I will try to live blog or tweet (@westbrookmel).

28 comments:

Pinehurst Neighbor said...

I didn't come away with that understanding of Pinehurst. It sounded to me like SPS hasn't made any decision among the 9 options (I think) that have been floated. The PH parents (who I thought did a great job) were asking for a decision before open enrollment begins, whatever it turns out to be.

Pineurst Neighbor said...

To clarify my own comment, Pinehurst K-8 is indeed expected to stay put next year, but after that is up in the air.

Anonymous said...

Aren't the BEX projects the long-term plan?

kksp

Melissa Westbrook said...

Is BEX a long-term plan? In this situation, no. It should be but we have way too many needs and now, capacity issues. If this was a normal BEX time, this list would look very different. No, BEX is part of a long-term plan but not a plan in itself.

Anonymous said...

Of course Martin-Morris wasn't there. He's been ducking ever since he and Carr didn't man up and make Jane Addamms a middle school 5 years ago. They ducked the decision, allowed a K8 school to be established and punted the capacity issue forward to today. Now the chicken is roosting and it isn't a pretty chicken. And this isn't the current Jane Addams population's fault.

At least Carr is taking some ownership of the problem she didn't tackle previously.

DistrictWatcher

Meg said...

Jane Addams K-8 wasn't in existence as a school 5 years ago. It became a school after Summit K-12 was closed and the building was repurposed into Jane Addams K-8. The acute shortage of middle school seats in the north end caused almost immediate discussion of making the K-8 into a middle school. Even as the middle school capacity was needed, this almost instantaneous change in direction (understandably) drove nearly everyone around the bend, especially as it came right on the heels of the emotionally (and financially) -fraught closures.

However. It was NOT 5 years ago. And Carr, as little as you may like her, made a stand for the K-8 at the time to give them some stability.

Anonymous said...

West Seattle Blog has a summary

http://westseattleblog.com/2012/12/happening-now-school-boards-capacity-management-work-session

Anonymous said...

New recommendations are on Slide 27.

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/12-13%20agendas/121912agenda/20121219_Presentation_CapMgmtNSAP.pdf

Evidently, the ask us nicely (JA K8 with mitigation) approach was too risky.

-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget the acute shortage of eleementary seats. That was also a reason for making JA a K-8. The main problem was Summit wasn't attracting students, for a variety of reasons - mostly it was too alternative.

reader

Anonymous said...

To summarize the latest:

Eckstein: Change Rogers, Olympic Hills and Sacajawea feeder patterns to new comprehensive MS at JA for 6th grade and new students

JA K-8: Relocate to JM as interim for 2014-15

Hamilton: Change Laurelhurst feeder pattern to Eckstein for 6th graders and new students

NE parent

Anonymous said...

Um, wow. Did someone just declare a civil war at Eckstein. Let's trade Lake City for Laurelhurst.

- NE mom.

Anonymous said...

NE Mom - I thought the same thing, but did hear through "rumors" that this was proposed by Hamilton parents as it also relieves crowding at Hamilton, so I hope people don't jump to conclusions that Eckstein parents suggested the details. It comes down to geography, but I'm sure it will have political implications.

NE Mom of 3

Anonymous said...

Whoa there, today's the first I'd heard of such a proposal.

@HIMS

Anonymous said...

@ NE Mom of 3

Proposed by Hamilton parents? - You must mean APP parents that live in that south Eckstein area.

As a Hamilton parent of two, who lives on the other side of the freeway, and is wired into all things Hamilton, I have not heard about this.

- HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

By all means! We should do anything and everything to keep app all together in as large a group as possible. We have suffered so much already, and our kids have so few choices. Let's move other people this time.

App parent

Anonymous said...

My bad - replace "Hamilton Parents" with"APPparents with kids at APP at Lincoln and Hamilton"

BTW - I don't think it is bad that they are looking at options to allow current 5th graders at Lincoln to go to Hamilton.

NE Mom of 3

Anonymous said...

Before schools start attacking other schools with unsubstantiated rumors, we all need to remember the original idea that was proposed for MS in the north - nothing for Eckstein and for HIMS it was moving APP 6th graders out. Neither of those "ideas" were ever going to work. It looked to me like the standard procedure of the school district where they put out a really terrible idea that they were never going to do and then they put out something that they think will actually be more palatable. Whether it is palatable or not is another story.

It is the school district administration making these proposals, not the parents. Just look at the last few years for North APP. Shows you exactly how much the district listens to the lowly parents.

-whim

Anonymous said...

@ NE Mom of 3

I agree. However, the amazing Cindy found space for the APP 5th graders to continue at HIMS for next year. It only bought a year but everything is year to year any more.

So APP was not in an immediate threat for 2013. 2014 is a different story.

HIMS Mom

Anonymous said...

@ Whim

At the work session, Sharon Peaslee said she was flooded with hundreds of emails in the last 24 hours demanding that JA open immediately as a middle school. I hope that is substantiated enough for you.

- NE mom

Anonymous said...

NE Mom-

I was responding to this: "...did hear through "rumors" that this was proposed by Hamilton parents..." from NE mom of 3. You'll notice she put "rumors" in quotes. That means it's unsubstantiated.

Am I shocked Sharon Peaslee is getting lots of emails from APP? Absolutely not. I am sure she's getting lots from Eckstein as well - she and all the board members should be. The original proposal the school district put out was completely disconnected with reality.

The school district must make these changes while also looking more than 10 minutes out into the future. We can't be doing this every year. It is far too stressful for all involved not to mention a massive waste of money to make all these short term changes and then change them again.

-whim

Anonymous said...

So it looks like for Hamilton, staff are recommending either alternative schedules or moving the entire 6th grade to John Marshall. Is this correct?

Lincoln & HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

It is beyond clear that something has to give.

However, what I can't shake is the part where 100% of the benefits of this plan go to the south of 85th crowd and 100% of the burden goes to the north of 85th crowd.

South of 85th gets rid of all the FRL population and ELL and adds Laurelhurst. North of 85th gets their K8 destroyed, 5th graders re-assigned to a holding pen without any process, when boundary re-draws are a just a year away and then starts all over again in a year.

While a 6th grade annex was loathsome, at least it was even handed.

- north seattle mom

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but geographically it just makes sense to make the Eckstein dividing line the same as the Roosevelt/Nathan Hale line if you are putting a middle school at the Jane Adams location. Hale does just fine without the below the 85thers and I am sure a middle school would too. I really don't undestand the worship of Eckstein. It is an overcrowded mess.

HP

Anonymous said...

I really hate to see the discussion divide up into labels like "south of 85thers" and FRR and ELL. It is so divise to suggest that one population is getting all the benefits while another is getting all the burden especially when using those terms.

--FedMomof2

seattle citizen said...

I know everyone is concerned about capacity, as it directly effects people's children, but I have to throw in a comment about the RTTT part of Melissa's post - Districts will have to dedicate limited resources to tracking "data" to meet conditions of this (rather small) award.
RTTT, "data," "reform"...all these things are taking money out of the classroom, time away from students as they push buttons on bad tests (MAP, in a recent study, was found to have no effect on anything whatsover), libraries are taken out of use for testing, curriculum is purchased that kow-tows to the new Common Core State Standards (federal standards, how about that), professional development time is spent unteaching EALRs and HSPE and teaching instead CCSS...How much time and money are we going to spend on these "reform" packages that turn education into mere button pushing? Do we want to Taylorize our schools, render them models of "data-driven" efficiency, or do we want to teach children?

seattle citizen said...

I guess my point is that while everyone is debatinhg where schools go, what's inside the schools is being radically transformed, and NOT in a good way. What can we do to stop that machine?

Anonymous said...

@S.C. Could you explain "Taylorism" so people understand your concerns. I've been trying for years, with little effect. Maybe because I said "lever pullers" instead of "button pushers." But I'd like to hear a teacher weigh in about it, because I think its really important. WSDWG

seattle citizen said...

Taylorism: "a factory management system developed in the late 19th century to increase efficiency by evaluating every step in a manufacturing process and breaking down production into specialized repetitive tasks"
Frederick W. Taylor †1915 American engineer

What we are seeing is the engineering of education: Poeple complain that public schools aren't doing well (even though there is a strong case that they are); so in come the tinkerers, who measure, quantify, streamline, evaluate, tweek, measure, systematize, standardize, and otherwise turn students into product and teaching into manufacturing. Students are defined by categories, compared to others of that category, specific methods are devised to manipulate that particular model of student, specific, step-by-step instructions are given to the workers on the producaiton line (educators) on how such manipulation is to occur, the results of that manipulation of the product, what used to be known as education, is then measured to see "value added."

All the intangibles are either made tangible (at great loss to the intangible aspects of those things) or are discarded as un-measureable, and thus worthless.

Of course this is an extreme - public education will not be moving into airless, soul-less factories. But the systems are increasingly apparent. One need only look at testing mania, at Common Core (a national declaration of what is valuable in education), in evaluation of educators....Everything measured, everything quantified, everything engineered.
Yes, there are benefits to systems, particulary on efforts of such scale as public education, where costs must be kept down, etc etc etc.
But kids are being labeled, tagged, categorized, measured using faulty instruments....curriculum is increasingly packaged, if not out and out standardized, assessments and evaluations are all mechanical...

I mean, where's the heart? The magic? The inquiry and exploration outside the boundries prescribed by the engineers?

Taylorism in the schools. Education as a hyper-efficient, cold and calcuating production line.

Children as data points, mere widgets on the conveyor belt.

I mean, who CARES where the next middle school is placed, if it is a factory designed by engineers? (and I mean no disrespect to engineers - my brother is an engineer. But I wouldn't want HIM designing a well-rounded pedagogy...)

If one only cares about where the next middle school is placed, and not the bigger picture...well, maybe one isn't all that interested in the future of public education (and our nation) but perhaps only in the next, oh...12 years? Or is it 13?