Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Open Thread

I note the passing of TJ Vassar, a former member of the Seattle School Board in the early '80s.  From the Times article, he is described as a "pioneering African-American educator" who taught at Lakeside.  He served two terms on the Board and, at 30, was the youngest person ever elected to that body.

Among other accomplishments, he helped win reparations for Japanese-American secretaries who had been forced to quit their jobs at Seattle Public Schools during World War II. 

During his years as an administrator there, Lakeside became one of the most diverse elite private schools in the country, Noe said. Today, students of color make up 51 percent of its enrollment, and “he did it,” Noe said.

What's on your mind?

77 comments:

biliruben said...

I wanted to alert folks, particular families in the NNE, that there will be a meeting at the Cedar Park School (i.e. ArtWoods) tonight at 6:30, regarding the temporary use of the school by Olympic Hills during their renovation.

Sharon Peaslee will be there, as well as someone from the Parks Department.

This was organized by local community members who are afraid of the loss of the park to SPS. Given this hasn't been advertised except on a local email list, it would be good to have families with kids in SPS to attend and give their perspective as well.

My guess is once this school is converted back to teachable form, it will remain as a school indefinitely, so now is the time to fight to mitigate impacts by lobbying for sidewalks, Greenways and other ways to decrease traffic to the neighborhood as well as discussing reallocation of funds that were intended to be used for the park.

I don't think the local community understands how much of a pickle SPS is in, regarding capacity. They need it explained from a family perspective.

Anonymous said...

I am still mortified by the idea of 5 elementary schools in the NE within 1 mi if they build on the TC space. Is there another way to demand better solutions that voting no on the levy?? We really need to look at land in Lake City.

New here

Patrick said...

I am not that surprised by there being five elementary schools within one mile. That part of Seattle is a single-family neighborhood with houses on small lots so they're close together, and most of the houses have kids living there. The schools are set up to be close enough to walk, about 3/4 mile between schools as the crow flies, farther away as the child walks. Making Thornton Creek a neighborhood elementary again is restoring a neighborhood elementary for that particular square half a mile on a side. I'm glad the District is doing that without dooming a popular option school.

Anonymous said...

Amy Goodman covers the MAP boycott:
http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/29/seattles_teacher_uprising_high_school_faculty

nw parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Patrick, the logistics are pretty bad. Over 1,000 K-5s in one spot sharing one large lot? Parking? And how many of these kids do you think will actually walk to school? Losing a playfield?

And it would a heck of a lot more sense to push that school further out than having this mega-cluster of schools.

Nope, every BEX has its problem child and the new K-5 at TC is it.

Eric B said...

I know I'm being a broken record, but here it is once more around. It is not the mission of SPS to provide playfield space to Seattle. It's a great benefit, and SPS should try to offer those spaces as much as possible. It's not always possible, and just because my kids play(ed) there, doesn't mean that SPS can't put a school there.

Sorry, rant over. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Patrick said...

I'm thinking probably most of the kids will walk, because it's a pretty walkable neighborhood and all the assigned kids should be within half a mile or so. There's two lots already, and I don't see them full much, except for times when the playing fields are in use.

I regret losing the playing field. If I had a reasonable alternative, I'd suggest it. I don't see adding wings to each of give different elementary schools, do you?

Anonymous said...

Play fields aside, how on earth do you draw a sane boundary between TC and VR (and by extension, WW, Bryant, etc.). It's a massive game of musical chairs that seems to be the precise way to negatively impact the MOST families. A northern site would be so vastly more appropriate I can't even believe it's a debate. Do we really just accept that an LC site is impossible? We are going to be stuck with this building once it's there. What a mess.

NEPAL

Anonymous said...

How would a LC site relieve the overcrowding at Bryant and View Ridge?

Parent

kellie said...

Play fields are not the issue with a second school at TC. The issue is that a second school at TC places a school in the walk zone of not one but two schools and absorbs the bulk of the walk zone of a third school. The net effect of this placement is irrational boundaries that do nothing to alleviate the over-crowding at WW, VR and Bryant. Frankly, if the "new boundaries" that show the second school were public, I doubt anyone in the NE would be in favor of that school any longer.

This is an over-simple analogy to the over-simple issue identified by Eric B and Patrick.

Ballard High School does not have a true capacity problem, despite the congestion at the school. The number of high school students near Ballard is about the same as the number of seats at Ballard. However, Queen Anne/ Mag has a HUGE Capacity problem by virtue of the fact that they don't have any high school.

So the assignment plan essentially transfers QA/Mag's capacity issue to Ballard by assigning QA/Mag students to Ballard and then by extension much of the Ballard walk zone is then assigned to Ingraham.

The net effect of this domino process is crazy boundaries with the added rub that adding Capacity at Ballard High School may give every student some where to go but it does not solve the capacity issue. QA students still go to Ballard and Ballard students still go to Ingraham.

There is a similar issue in NE elementary schools. Most of the capacity is in the south part of the NE. Laurelhurst, Bryant, WW and VR are all in the south part of the area and all 4 are large schools for a capacity of about 14 homerooms per grade. By contrast in the north part of the NE, John Rogers, Olympic Hills and Sac are all small schools designed for 300 or fewer students for a capacity of about 6 homerooms per grade. 14:6 - not a balanced ratio and the second school will tip that further.

Moreover, most of the resident population growth is in the Lake City area. Adding additional seats in the TC area will only make for complex and irrational boundaries in the NE as all of the boundaries are drawn long and skinny in order to capture most of the Lake City area. Right now the View Ridge boundary has taken a huge chunk of the John Rogers walk zone. If there is a new school, the John Rogers boundary will likely be a few blocks from the school.

In much the same way that the loss of Cooper made for some crazy elementary boundaries in West Seattle with families only blocks from a school busses to another school, the second school at TC will do the same thing to the NE.

The steepest part of the population growth is in Lake City. There is only so long that growth can be ignored. The second school at TC costs a whole lot of money and creates more problems that it solves. That is the issue.

Eric B said...

I don't know the NE, but here's another example of what the assignment areas are going to look like. Here is a map of the Loyal Heights assignment area. It's about a mile east-west and a half a mile north-south for most of its width. You'll have something similar in the NE, with a lot of small attendance areas centered around the schools. Yes, it's hard to have boundaries that close to schools (our community saw this in the initial adoption of NSAP), but it's also the only way the system works with an assignment boundary coupled with a high student population density.

Anonymous said...

Eric, I don't think that LH analogy is exactly right. The spacing is much better.

Kellie is the voice of reason here, and I hope we listen. Is now the time to protest this issue? I assume the maps won't be public until after the levy vote?

NEPAL

kellie said...

Eric that is just not true. Irrational boundaries has nothing to do with "an assignment boundary coupled with a high student population density."

The issue of irrational boundaries has to do with a mis-match of facilities. There are multiple areas in Seattle where there simply is NOT any school, mostly due to the part where the former neighborhood school no longer exists. These "school deserts" need to be assigned somewhere. This causes a domino effect throughout the entire system.

The long term answer is working with City and State partners to identify property for restoring schools to these school deserts. If the City is going to push for a downtown school, because there isn't one, then the City should have a nice list of all the other places that are missing schools. Queen Anne High School, Lake City Elementary, etc.

Eric B said...

By the way, that half to 3/4 square mile or so attendance area for Loyal Heights gives the school a steady population of around 450-500 students once the post NSAP grades fill the school. Right now, we're at about 425. Even when the school building grows to a capacity of 650 or so under BEX, the boundaries aren't going to change a whole lot.

I shoudl go back and clarify that I don't know the student populations in the NE area. I'm just trying to give an example of how it works in an area that seems similar from a satellite photo.

kellie said...

@ Patrick

"Making Thornton Creek a neighborhood elementary again is restoring a neighborhood elementary for that particular square half a mile on a side. I'm glad the District is doing that without dooming a popular option school."

I wish that was the case but it is not. There was a reason that even at the height of the baby boom, the Decatur building was small. The plan to build a mega-school on that property will be far larger than the neighborhood density, thereby chewing up the other boundaries.

And I don't know how you are defining doom here but the plan is to leave TC in a building that was scheduled to be demolished during the 04 closures because it was past the building's life expectancy with a now legendary plumbing issues. So TC is in a crummy building and a few feet away, likely sharing a playground, is a brand new modern school with lots of bells and whistles. While it is certainly not doom, it doesn't seem to be a great vote of confidence.

kellie said...


Here is a map of the area

I honestly can't figure out any boundaries that truly make any sense particularly once you consider that the elementaries need to fit into a middle school feeder pattern between Jane Addams and Eckstein. Therefore one school will need to be the south portion of Jane Addams and one school will need to be the north portion of Eckstein.

Wedgwood at 84th is the most North would have to be long and wide to feed into Jane Addams. Then the new school at Decatur would be the next school and would also need to go long and wide and take the top part of Bryant to be the Eckstein North school.

No matter how you do it, it will be messy and not fit the neighborhoods.

Eric B said...

All I'm trying to get at is that if you have a student population density of 600-1000 K-5 students per square mile, the schools are going to have to be really close together. It doesn't matter how big the Loyal Heights walk zone is, since the student population is so large that the boundary has to be drawn inside the walk zone.

Likewise, if there is the same student population density in NE, some of the schools will need to be very close. Thornton Creek isn't an ideal site, but I'm not sure what would really be better. Just based on assignment area maps, it looks like you would have basically the same issue as the Thornton Creek site (too close to other schools for ideal boundaries) until the school was up in the neighborhood of Jane Addams. At that point, it wouldn't relieve pressure on Bryant unless Wedgewood and View Ridge have really goofy boundaries. I guess I'm not seeing a way out that doesn't have really goofy boundaries with a lot of kids out of the walk zone. Again, I don't know the area, so I could be way off base.

kellie said...

Eric,

"All I'm trying to get at is that if you have a student population density of 600-1000 K-5 students per square mile, the schools are going to have to be really close together."

You would be correct, IF, there was actually a school every mile for the entire network of schools. The issue is that this plan has a network of 5 schools within one particular mile in order to support multiple neighborhoods that have ZERO schools, a few miles away.


Anonymous said...

An adjustment of the Laurelhurst boundary could help Bryant, as could an adjustment to its northern boundary w Wedgwood, which could come w/ a more northern site as the new school.

NE

King Tom said...




Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom, who lives in the wealthy enclave of Medina and recently built a coalition with Republicans to install himself as majority leader, purchased various books from Amazon.com and got reimbursement for a Bose headset that cost $164.20.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Kellie. It's called data, folks, and it will be an expensive mistake. I wish we were looking in Lake City or at Magnuson.

CT said...

Kellie - thank you for your calm, reasoned explanations. I feel confident that if you were in charge at the district, it would be a highly functional place, with foresight amd accurate data galore when it came to capacity and planning.

Lori said...

Did they ever consider swapping the plans for a new TC school and a new school at Pinehurst?

That is, move Jane Addams ESTEM option program to the Thornton Creek location when it's built and put the new neighborhood school at Pinehurst? Would that help with weird boundary issues around Bryant/WW/VR and make a neighborhood school closer to Lake City?

(and I realize that this solves nothing for the Pinehurst community. I can't remember what, if anything, the district has promised them long term, and I sincerely hope they find a place if indeed their site is taken over as part of BEXIV).

Maureen said...

Lori, beat me to it. Why not make the new TC complex All Alternative, All the Time? It will draw kids from the entire region. Place three alt programs there with one principal and three head teachers. Tear down the old TC building and put in greenhouses and or art/dance/drama/PE facilities all three programs can share.

Melissa Westbrook said...

There's some forward thinking. That's why I think I have very smart readers.

kellie said...


The proposal to swap JA for the attendance school at Decatur essentially just swaps the problems around.

It solves the bizarre boundaries challenge by actually locating option programs in a good option school location. However, the program density would be very intense. You would be making a campus that would be over 1200 option seats. It would be a new version of mega-campus - like Wilson Pacific but with much less real estate and no ability to assign students.

Jane Addams is currently filling a comprehensive middle school worth of space so their replacement building is about equivalent. So while in theory you could likely build something that large and it would be adjoining another full elementary school.

I think it is too inherently risky to build that many seats and have them all be options seats.

And it leaves the issue the Lake City just doesn't have any elementary space.

Patrick said...

When does Cedar Park reopen? How many kids will it hold?

biliruben said...

Well, just coming from Cedar Park meeting, you will be happy to hear that there will be one more elementary in Lake City. If the Lake City School building converts as well (and I don't know of any plans they will), that will eliminate the final park beyond pocket-sized in the entire region.

There just isn't any open space in the Lake City region, school-owned or no, to build a school or park of any size. None. Zilch. Zero.

Feel free to have a bake sale and buy the Pierre car lots. Other than that, the park-rich south end of the NE is gonna have to suffer through all their with their wealth of parks and enviable schools. Tears are flowing.

biliruben said...

Patrick - 2014, it sounds like. Perhaps 2 years of Olympic Hills then likely a neighborhood school. Sooner if BEX doesn't pass.

300, if you drop 3 portables, and that's the plan.

Hopefully they'll drop them on the parking lot and not the park.

Anonymous said...

Overall, it seems like trying to solve a puzzle without the missing pieces that have slipped under the floor boards or back behind the heavy furniture.

A new school is needed in the Lake City area to address the increased inflow of immigrants (World School relocation?) and families in need of reasonably priced homes (for Seattle) – thus the huge density of children in the John Rogers/Jane Addams area.

Maple Leaf has very recently been named one of the top 10 up and coming neighborhoods of the next decade for the entire U.S. And to meet this need is only the very small Sacajawea.

And right now in the present are the stupidly overcrowded elementary schools, and lone middle school of the NE. I say stupidly, as parents have screamed themselves hoarse for close to a decade now about the reality these schools would be facing now. What -- six or seven year of being ignored -- doesn't build confidence. The picture for the SNE only grows worse in the coming years as each co-hort to reach middle school starting in 2014-2015 will be larger than any classes in recent history and either grow larger or maintain their increased size for at least six years. (Based on current K-4 enrollment in NE schools.) And more and more families with children from Seattle, or outside of the state are moving into every home that comes available for sale.

Of the NE elementary schools…John Rogers is scary full. Wedgwood is scary full. Bryant is scary full. View Ridge is scary full.

To relieve the elementary stress of both the far north and the south, more than just one new elementary is needed. That is why it is the unsolvable puzzle. To complete the puzzle we need three or four missing pieces but only one is available.

With our one available piece do we relieve the current pressure of the SNE or do we put an elementary north in planning for the future? Or, do we take that out of the box step (as Kellie has suggested) and look to partner with the city to swap land so that SPS comes out of the deal with enough puzzle pieces to complete the picture?

The last would take more time and negotiation. If the past behavior of SPS is to be used as a predictor of future action, then we NE area parents know it is a fight for only that one tiny puzzle piece. There has not been a long term plan before - why should we trust for one now? Thus, the current neighborhood vs. neighborhood and parent vs. parent fighting.

We are logically looking at what has happened in the past to try and predict what might happen in the future. Parent actions are based on reviewing the Districts past actions and in the void of looking out for students, our emotions as parents.

I know it is naïve and crazy, but I do wish the District would release a long-term plan so that we might actually trust and believe and be confident IF we do vote yes on the levies that the biggest educational enterprise in the state will value one of its own subjects, History, and learn from the past and not keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. Our trust cannot be earned otherwise.

Overall, this is a horrible way to treat students. This is a horrible way to treat families. We, the families, will not win by fighting with each other. We’ll just have a bloody north vs. south civil war where no family is spared a mortal wound. Maybe, go French and join together to storm the JSCEE?

Superintendent Banda, please stop observing and lead now.

-StepJ

Maureen said...

think it is too inherently risky to build that many seats and have them all be options seats.

I don't understand why this is an issue given that (1)there are so many neighborhood seats within 1 square mile, (2) TC K-5 is so popular and over crowded, (3) Pinehurst is being dismantled and (4)JA K-8 STEM (whatever we are calling it) is so popular and (5) NE people are still clamoring for access to Salmon Bay.

Build it as Alt. If it doesn't fill then rethink (and, sorry, screw over Pinehurst. Again. (I mean move them somewhere else-Central?))

Just look at Kellie's map. And think long term. We can't count on filling all of those neighborhood schools forever.

The NSAP means that Alts/Options/whatever we call them now are our only way of balancing capacity. Use that to our advantage, make the new Thornton Creek Mega-School ALL OPTION all the time. Capacity balancing in the midst of an abundance of school age children.

Visualize a rain garden in an area that is too densely populated/paved over.

A new TC ALT complex could act as a catchment for the NE.

Maureen said...

What is nice about Option Schools (under the New Student Assignment Plan (NSAP)) is that their capacity is fixed. If they are shoe horned into a neighborhood, everyone knows what their impact will be. If I were a TC area grandma trying to limit SPS' impact on my neighborhood, I would be pushing the idea of TC ALT.

Of course, I might not be reading this blog.

Anonymous said...

StepJ,

You forgot Olympic View, which is really the Maple Leaf neighborhood school at the moment (actually the boundary for OV/SAC is right through the heart of Maple Leaf). Also full.

My block has gone from 1 to 17 kids in a decade. 2/3 are under school age. I am very worried that the district is still seriously underestimating how many incoming kindergarteners there will be in the next decade, especially in these parts of town.

What could we do as a parent community to pressure the city as well as SPS to think long-term and effect some land deals? I've heard board members talk about the need for Impact Fees. Apparently developers in this city don't have to pay ANYTHING towards new schools when they build dense/new housing. This is ridiculous!

Instead of fighting over the scraps and letting the district pit ourselves against each other, we should be making a concerted effort to put pressure on SPS and the city council NOW to deal with this problem. Just think how much impact we could have if we were all directing our energies toward that.

--Maple Leaf Mama

Anonymous said...

On the southern border of Lake City is Meadowbrook with its pool, playfields and beaver pond. The area is not without parks.

Would it be possible to increase the size of John Rogers through a rebuild?

HP

The Beastie Boys said...

The North End Blog and The Real Housewives of The North End!!!

yes said...

Melissa did you see this Separated At Birth
a pic of you and then one of you as oompa loompa from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

kellie said...

@ Maureen,

I hardly know where to start to address your comment. But I think I will start with

"The NSAP means that Alts/Options/whatever we call them now are our only way of balancing capacity."

That simply is not true, nor is it reliable. In a geographic plan, capacity is balanced by adding schools and changing boundaries.

The old student assignment plan treated all seats as equal and the only thing anyone was promised was a seat somewhere. The new assignment plan promised everyone a nearby seat.

This promise means that assignment seats are the priority. Option seats, while valuable, important and meaningful, are second. Option seats do a great job of balancing capacity when a system is running at or under 100% capacity. (Remember, most districts run their assignment plans at 85% capacity) However, once the system is over 100% and it is well over 110%, then you have to add assignment seats.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Step J has it right for a plan for the ENTIRE district. Our "master facilities plan", as Charlie and I have said many times, is no plan at all.

We need a long-term plan that makes sense.

I actually believe that the City COULD/WOULD cooperate with this effort if asked. They certainly are spending a lot of time on the downtown school. I have no doubt the Mayor would be willing (and some members of the City Council) to make it so. But they have to asked and pushed.

To Yes, I had not seen what you reference but that is not a site worth reading.

kellie said...

@ StepJ

"To relieve the elementary stress of both the far north and the south, more than just one new elementary is needed. That is why it is the unsolvable puzzle. To complete the puzzle we need three or four missing pieces but only one is available."

You are on the right path here. This is 100% correct and you said it much better than I did. However, you are missing a part here.

"With our one available piece do we relieve the current pressure of the SNE or do we put an elementary north in planning for the future?"

The current pressure in the S/NE is enrollment pressure at the schools NOT resident pressure. The RESIDENT pressure is Lake city and because the facilities are in the S/NE, the residents are pushed South. In other words, it is not about "planning" for enrollment growth in Lake City, that growth is already here and enrolled in schools.

This would be similar to enrollment growth on QA showing up at Ballard High School. The residents are on QA but the enrollment is at Ballard.

The reason why this feels so insolvable to so many people is because the option set stinks. The plan has all the eggs in one basket (i.e. - one new school). Putting that basket in the same mile as all the other capacity, intensifies the imbalance.

The only reason the plan even exists is because it can be done solely out of SPS inventory. But that doesn't mean it solves the problem. In fact, building a pretty brand new assignment school will likely just increase the Resident pressure in the area so that now your solution actually created another problems.

Patrick said...

"In a geographic plan, capacity is balanced by adding schools and changing boundaries."

That would be nice, but adding schools takes too long. The District's demographic projections seem to be only good for a year or two ahead (although why they shouldn't be capable of looking ahead farther, I can't say). When there are not enough schools or available land, usually because existing schools were converted to other uses, eminent domain would have to be used, and that seems to stretch on for a decade if there's no willing seller.

Moving boundaries is good if there's only a few spots of great crowding, but in the current situation all the schools for a couple of miles around are overcrowded.

So all that's left is moving option schools and APP around, and building on land the District owns even if it's not the perfect place.

Patrick said...

Five schools about a mile apart doesn't automatically mean it's too many. Those were built with the small, neighborhood, walking-distance model. There have to be a lot of them because each school is small. We toured them, back an eternity ago when our child was going to start kindergarten. She went to Sacajawea for K-3, which had two rooms per grade. Rogers had three rooms per grade, if I remember right. View Ridge and Bryant are bigger. But for the most part we're talking 250-350 kid schools here. And I think that's a good thing, even if it is a bit more expensive than operating a couple of giant schools that have to have kids bussed or driven.

Anonymous said...

I am a parent in a school district across the mountains. I am interested in getting information on schools in our state that use Singapore Math (Math in Focus) as their primary math program. Can anyone list schools in SPS that have been granted the instructional materials waiver and made the switch? Thanks

watching said...

http://parentsacrossamerica.org/a-guide-to-the-broad-foundations-training-programs-and-policies/

Great article about the influence of Eli Broad on public education. Written by our very own Sue Peters!

Anonymous said...

Patrick-

I think you are far too generous with the district: "The District's demographic projections seem to be only good for a year or two ahead..."

As a parent of a student at Lowell when we were moved in July, I know that the district can't plan a few months out, let alone a year. Parents were telling the district they were being insane for months before they finally acted. In fact, we told them the year prior the building was out of space and more and more kids were coming.

I think the crux of the problem is that the district is both unwilling to plan and unwilling to listen to anyone other than their "experts." A dart and a district map would be more effective than their "expert."

No one in north Seattle should feel safe about next year until July 10 or so. Lowell parents were told that was just about the last possible time to start up a new school. As a current HIMS parent, I won't feel safe until then.

-no faith

kellie said...

@ Patrick,

Problem solving 101. Does this scenario solve your problem. If yes, move forward. If no, re-examine.

Just because SPS is has the ability to execute a scenario, does not in any way confer some magical property that the scenario solved the problem.

At the current moment SPS does not have the resources to respond to a capacity problem via best practices or in a way that fixes things. That constraint does not change best practices. Geographic assignment schools are the norm in the US. It is the norm that when your schools are full, you add new schools. That is a typical practice and the funding model in the State of Washington supports that.

If any other district in the State of Washington was growing by 1400 students per year, there would be significant funds from the State to pay for new buildings. But because of technicalities, Seattle does not get this money. If any other major urban district was growing at this rate the Mayor would be asking the Governor for money.

The lack of money is a constraint. It is a constraint that is driving scenarios. That does not mean that the scenarios actually accomplish anything.

Eminent Domain is a red herring here. Just because SPS doesn't have inventory, doesn't mean that there is no property that could be used. The City, Parks Department, the State or even the Feds could have some property that could be used. But we don't know because the larger conversation about the urban planning part of a school system is just not happening. The City has planned for tremendous density in various sections of the city without any corresponding investment in new school to support that density.

Lori said...

The updated numbers are on the district web site now for discussion by the Board tomorrow night. I took a quick scan through but don't see anything shockingly different. Perhaps others with more knowledge can interpret.

http://district.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/12-13%20agendas/013113agenda/20130131_Agenda.pdf?sessionid=474030799b5b175985d6546d11c239e8

Patrick said...

No Faith -- yes, APP was treated shamefully then, and not for the first time. In part, that's a problem of predicting how many students will test into APP and how many will actually enroll, which is a harder problem than predicting how many kindergarteners will become next year's 1st graders.

Anonymous said...

"Problem solving 101. Does this scenario solve your problem. If yes, move forward. If no, re-examine.

Just because SPS is has the ability to execute a scenario, does not in any way confer some magical property that the scenario solved the problem. "

Please is there a paid position for Kellie?!!???

--Joining the chorus

Lori said...

Actually, with the NSAP, the district has firm numbers for APP sooner than for incoming K children at neighborhood schools.

You have to opt into APP before the end of open enrollment the spring prior. You can't join after that point.

For neighborhood schools, all you have to do is show up in September, so all enrollment projections are "soft" until the school year is actually underway.

And with the Lowell eviction, the district knew as soon as open enrollment ended In April that the numbers couldn't possibly work. But it took until early July for a decision about what to do. (and of course, parents were asking about for many months prior to open enrollment, so the whole thing was not a surprise).

I agree with No Faith. Even after tomorrow night's Board meeting, parents of 5th graders should stay alert for emergency changes before the fall. If any of the projections are off by a classroom or two, the whole thing could have to be re-done by July.

kellie said...

@ biliruben,

"There just isn't any open space in the Lake City region, school-owned or no, to build a school or park of any size. None. Zilch. Zero."

I was also at the Cedar Park meeting and I don't agree with your assessment. There is tremendous urban planning going on in Lake City. It is just that the planning is not well connected with the needs of families and schools. There are State and Federal funds that could be used to convert some of the available parcels in Lake City to either Parks or Schools. It is simply that there isn't anyone organizing / mobilizing at the community level.

At the last Town Hall meeting both Senator Frockt and Representative Pollet expressed their strong desire to help. However, there is only so much they can do without an organized community request.

I wish there was an easy answer but there just isn't. As StepJ said, this problem has been brewing a long time. I just would rather see all of this energy pointed at our elected officials whose job it is to help support our communities rather than finger pointing or name calling other neighborhoods. This problem is just bigger than this neighborhood vs that neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Melissa perhaps you could do one last thread pre-capacity meeting on the latest numbers?

From what I can see, the numbers do not buoy Eckstein parents' insistance that JA must move next year. Their population is not expected to increase. So, they made it through this year, they can do the same next year. It isn't optimal, but it is workable. And it won't cost additional transportation dollars to shuttle JA kids farther from home.

JA itself is slated for significant growth.

Next year's pressure from the south part of NE is coming from Hamilton, not Eckstein. Most of that pressure is coming from APP. So what to do? Since the district has punted the question for years now, doubt it will be solved this week, but from my point of view, the district's Advanced Learning leadership either needs to step up or step out. Meantime, APP will get to choose between a crowded school or a split program or a move. That is not parents' fault. That is the district's and the strong light of lackluster planning needs to be focused on the issue.

Sherry Carr's amendment needs to be voted down and the district needs to get busy yesterday planning for additional middle school capacity in 2013-14 as well as an answer to APP programming.

Capacity Wonk

kellie said...


"Instead of fighting over the scraps and letting the district pit ourselves against each other, we should be making a concerted effort to put pressure on SPS and the city council NOW to deal with this problem. Just think how much impact we could have if we were all directing our energies toward that."

I think Maple Leaf Mama has nailed it. The impact fee is a long term solution to ongoing planned growth. However, we have negative capacity at the moment as a result of measured planned growth that simply overlooked schools.

I actually don't blame the City. It is challenging for the City to feel accountable for new schools when for the last decade the mantra has been that we have so much extra space, we need to close schools. But the bottom line is that we have an urban planning issue and urban planning issue are a City problem, not a district problem.

Patrick said...

Actually, with the NSAP, the district has firm numbers for APP sooner than for incoming K children at neighborhood schools.

You have to opt into APP before the end of open enrollment the spring prior. You can't join after that point.


Yes, for the months between open enrollment and the start of fall they'll have firmer numbers for APP than assignment schools. But if they're trying to predict a year or more out, the numbers of assignment students are much more predictable, based on kids going up a grade every year, with fairly consistent moves in and out of a neighborhood. The number of kids who qualify and then decide to enroll in APP is much more variable.

And when the District is deciding whether to renovate, build, expand, or add portables, they really should be thinking years ahead, not months.

Anonymous said...

Capacity Wonk,

Nice analysis. I agree on your assessment on the newly released enrollment data.

A friend

Anonymous said...

Peter Steinbrueck, Seattle mayoral candidate, has planning experience.

just fyi

mirmac1 said...

If the emails I've read are any example, City Hall and DPD has been working VERY HARD...for a downtown school. I don't think they give a rat's patootie about any other neighborhood or school.

Oh wait, I remember mayoral staffers pushing to get the developmental preschool for kids with disabilities, kicked out of Whittier to make room for a daycare that was losing its space at the community center. The reason: those daycare kids were going to matriculate at Whitter, the disabled kids were going to be sent who knows where next - they don't belong.

Georgi Krom said...

I would like to post a letter I recently wrote the new head of curriculum and instruction. I copied the superintendent and the board with this letter. It is about math, an area SPS needs to improve.


To: Shauna Heath, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Seattle Public Schools

Dear Ms. Heath,
I am a parent of two former SPS students, now college graduates. For years I have been an advocate for better math curricula. I met Superintendent José Banda recently at a fund-raiser for the upcoming levies and asked him to take a close look at math. He said it was on his list for review.

The current textbooks, from Everyday Math to Discovering, have been criticized for years by parents. There are few examples to work from and the text heavy approach is impossible for students with ADHD or language challenges. Instead of clear, direct instruction there is unnecessary complexity and insufficient practice time. The achievement gaps for children of color, increased demand for tutoring and high remedial rates in college speak to weaknesses in the present system.

Sixty University of Washington math and science professors in 2011 signed a letter stating their concerns about the skill levels of incoming freshmen in math. Former English majors like past Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson were strong advocates for discovery math, but these conceptual approaches are devastating in actual practice. If students do not get the basics in elementary school, it becomes harder to catch up and by high school many drop out. Those that are lucky enough to make it to college arrive without proficiency.

What students actually learn in everyday classes is of utmost importance. We have been distracted by
conversations over charter schools, testing, online learning and teacher performance. The ed reform people are loud and influential but they should not crowd out the voices of parents. Curriculum and the evaluation of best practices are not given enough attention.

There were dramatic improvements in the Mercer School on Beacon Hill when they switched to Saxon math. Schmitz Park has been in high demand over its math curriculum, which is different from the district. I understand the benefits of standardization, but not when the wrong textbooks are chosen. Alternative choices like Saxon, Singapore and Holt would be improvements.

You are the person who can truly help many more students succeed in math. I have heard that Superintendent Banda had a fundamentally sound math curriculum in his past district so I hope you can work together to make changes. If you and Banda put improved math at the top of the list students will benefit and more families will choose SPS for their children.

Sincerely,

Georgi Krom
Parent of graduates from the Center School and Ballard high school

mirmac1 said...

Troll

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said...

Georgi, I was not referring to you, of course : )

Maureen said...

TOTALLY DIFFERENT SUBJECT

Hey look! Seven SPS High School juniors have been selected to participate in the Washington Aerospace Scholars Program And three of the seven are from Ingraham High School! I knew they had a great rocket club, maybe some of these kids will become real rocket scientists!

Anonymous said...

Introduced Bill would hold back third graders that do not read at grade level...

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/50647348

Personally, not in favor.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Two things:

It's interesting to me that the NE boundary conversation here has made no mention of the fact that BEX IV includes a 298 permanent seat expansion at Olympic Hills. I wonder why that is? In any event, that expansion should allow for the expansion of the OH boundary:

- To the southwest, taking in the current Olympic View boundary south to North 115th St.;

- And southeast, taking in the current Rogers boundary south to North 125th Street.

Regarding the boundary for the new NE/TC elementary, it's not at all hard to imagine what it might look like. Consider:

- Current Bryant boundary north of NE 65th and east of 29th Ave. NE, plus:

- Current View Ridge boundary basically west and NW of the Sand Point Country Club, and some part of the area west of 40th Ave. NE and south of of NE 75th;

- Some portion of the Wedgwood boundary South/SE of the school campus.

This scenario gives the NE/TC school a patch of real estate about the same size as the current Bryant boundary, in a rough inverted "L" shape. If the student density is more or less constant across Ravenna/View Ridge/Wedgwood, it would enroll about 600 students K-5.

This scenario would give View Ridge or Bryant the option to take back some part of the western edge of the Sand Point boundary, if needed.
Sand Point is filling up fast.

- Wants the Full Story Discussed

Anonymous said...

Sal Kahn of Kahn Academy fame is coming to Seattle.

salman-khan-a-call-for-free-universal-global-education

Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 7:30 – 9:00pm

Great Hall; enter on Eighth Avenue.$5.

Parents and politicians routinely bemoan the state of America’s education system, and not without reason: Statistics suggest our students have fallen behind the rest of the world in literacy, math, and sciences. But Salman Khan has a radical vision toward an inspiring solution—a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere—and a track record of uncommon success: The former engineer/hedge-fund analyst rocketed to fame after posting videos on the Internet to help his 12-year-old cousin pass a math test. Since then, his 3,000+ videos—explaining long division, plate tectonics, and more—have been viewed more than 200 million times, making Khan the go-to expert on connecting with children in the digital age, and driving him to found the revolutionary Khan Academy, whose free videos and software are used by millions of students, parents, and teachers around the world. In his new book, The One World Schoolhouse, Khan explains the roots of America’s education crisis, and why a return to “mastery learning”— liberating teachers from lecturing and state-mandated calendars and opening up class time for truly human interaction—could offer the best opportunity to give all of our children a world-class education.

Presented as part of the Town Hall Civics series with Elliott Bay Book Company.

Tickets are $5 at www.townhallseattle.org or 888/377-4510 and at the door beginning at 6:30 pm. Town Hall members receive priority seating.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

StepJ wrote:
Introduced Bill would hold back third graders that do not read at grade level...

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/50647348

Personally, not in favor.

--------------------------------
Jay Greene's Blog features a good deal of commentary and research showing that Florida's practice of retaining students a grade three who are not fluent readers is POSITIVE.

Here is a link.

Being a regular reader of Greene's blog and being in favor of the intelligent application of relevant data... I like what Florida is accomplishing with this program. Effective interventions are the key to making retention of this type effective.

-- Dan Dempsey

PS. Three of my four sons were retained in kindergarten or first grade... these three were all dyslexic.

Anonymous said...

Time to Reconsider Social Promotion

This new study from Jay P. Greene and Marcus Winters tracks students for as many as 5 years after retention and does show a positive impact.

Marcus Winters and I have a new study on the effects of ending social promotion in Florida that appeared this month in the journal, Education Finance and Policy. In our earlier published research we observed that retained students made greater academic gains in subsequent grades than did promoted students who were just like them. But we could only track students for 2 years after the intervention, so we didn’t know if the benefits we observed compounded or faded over time.

In the new study we track students for as many as 5 years after retention. The benefits of the policy do diminish, but they remain statistically significant and educationally substantial through middle school. We hope to continue tracking these students through high school, graduation, and even college, but so far it looks like there are enduring benefits to ending social promotion.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Kellie.

So...how would we concertedly, and collectively go about that (pressuring the city council to work with SPS and vice versa)? Is that something we'd have to organize through PTAs or through neighborhood councils? Bearing in mind that we are all time-limited of course.

And bearing in mind of course that SPS (including the board) should have been doing this years ago and their leadership is not fit for purpose.

-Maple Leaf Mama

PS: Whoever said Oly Hills boundary can expand with the school's expansion...come visit Lake City and see just how many young families are living in these neighborhoods. I don't think they can expand the boundary that far south and still accommodate everyone).

Anonymous said...

I have the kids that are at grade level or a slight smidge above based on the books they read at home, and their weekly classroom, and end of year evaluations.

But, when it comes to those BIG scary tests -- locked in a room, timer ticking, nervous teacher either pacing inside or within view of the room, the test proctor, your teacher, and your classmates all stressing how important this test is...for my kids the result is enough of a test freeze that their results are below their actual abilities.

With the proposed bill my kids would be evaluated not on their actual reading ability, but their test taking ability.

That is why I am not in favor of this bill.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Shout out to Maple Leaf Mama. In a different thread I didn't mean to blank on Olympic View. Another great yet overcrowded school.

In one of the BEX scenarios Olympic View was going to have an additional school built on site, but see it did not make the final recommendation.

There must be enough buildable land to allow for the original proposal. Another piece of the puzzle to be considered in planning for the NE.

-StepJ

P.S. Yes -- think what we could do if we channeled all our energies towards a cohesive solution. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

StepJ... about the Florida reading testing...

I understand your concern about inappropriate testing tools.

The results in reading improvement in Florida over time have been extraordinary. I am not sure that the Florida test is a timed test. Many tests these days are not timed.

Look at what is happening in regard to reading instruction in Florida HERE.

The almost universal use of social promotion in SPS schools over the last few decades has NOT been a good thing.

Check the 10th grade HSPE pass rates for Black students HERE ... reading 58.2% passing in 2012.

Low income HERE 66.2% passing.

Grade inflation at Aki Kurose has been rampant.
8th grade reading pass rate 47.4%
with 26% well below standard

8th grade math pass rate 29.3%
with 51% well below standard.

A k-12 plan for effective interventions does not exist.... Instead social promotion substitutes for skills. Aki Kurose's school report card says:

90% of 8th graders are leaving middle school ready for high school math. -- What a complete fraud.


-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Interesting bit on the Khan Academy, my son who is a junior at a private high school is taking algebra 2 via Khan Academy. His teacher has the class watch a lesson every night and then the next day they do the 'homework' in class with her helping those that need help. The teacher spends her time actually working with the students and letting Mr. Khan do the lecturing. Another advantage is that a kid can rewind or watch over and over if needed. My son really likes this approach.

HP

dan dempsey said...

Dear HP,

About Kahn Academy videos....

What high school does your son attend?

Anonymous said...

Seattle Waldorf High School. He has a wonderful math teacher. I was skeptical of this method at first but it really seems to be working well. I believe that it is only one teacher using this method.

HP

Anonymous said...

To the poster asking about schools using Singapore Math. Alki Elementary switched to Singapore Math this year.

-yumpears

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

Not trying to skip out on a conversation. Just normally don't get back to the blog until later in the evening when the kids are in bed.

I am not looking at it from the overarching social promotion aspect. Rather, just the proposed Bill in Olympia.

The proposed Bill would wait until third grade to make the promote or hold back decision. I think that is too late.

The proposed Bill would have a huge impact to a child – could be good, could be devastating – based on just their reading score on the MSP test. Third grade is the first time the MSP test is administered, and the test is taken just one time at the end of the school year in April/May.
There would be no input from a child’s teacher or any other assessments. A really big impact based on just one test, administered just one time, after a child has been at their elementary career for four years.
I know if my kids freaked out on test day, or were just having a bad day for some reason that the decision to hold them back would not be an accurate measure of their actual reading abilities. If it is true for my current third graders (reading at grade level but poor testers), I don’t believe we are the only family in Seattle in the same situation.
Definitely, intervene (the sooner the better), but waiting four years and basing all on one test taken in late third grade, with no teacher, parent or school input.

No.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

StepJ,

If you look at the Florida retention rates at grade 3 over time, you will notice that they have decreased each year. I think this is likely due to interventions long before grade 3. There is nothing that prohibits districts from earlier retentions ... but I think the key is effective interventions for struggling students (so where is the funding to do that in WA? McCleary vs. State says wait until 2018)

My belief is that the knowledge that non-proficient readers would be retained at grade 3 puts the pressure on schools to make the k-3 reading programs stronger.

The data from Greene shows this non-promotion policy had a significantly positive effect even 5 years later for students in grade 8. -- In Seattle there is essentially a constant percentage of students not meeting reading standard.

State wide in 2012 8.4% of third graders tested at level 1 (well below standard). In Seattle it was 7.6%.

The percent in Seattle scoring at either level 1 or level 2 was about 26% in 2012. 1 in 4 unable to meet standard. (This 1 in 4 ratio does not improve as students get older.)

The districts record of providing effective interventions for struggling students is NOT good.

At grade 5 9.7% of students were at level 1 in 2012.

At grade 6 it was 8.3% in 2012.

Following that 2012 6th grade cohort things look like this. SPS percent at level 1 (followed by State at level 1).

8.9 (9.4) 3rd 2009 WASL
8.6 (7.5) 4th 2010 MSP
9.3 (9.3) 5th 2011 MSP
8.3 (8.4) 6th 2012 MSP

Following that 6th grade cohort things look like this. SPS percent not meeting Standard (followed by same for State).

25.7 (28.6) 3rd 2009 WASL
31.2 (32.8) 4th 2010 MSP
29.1 (32.3) 5th 2011 MSP
25.5 (29.3) 6th 2012 MSP

Note the consistent about 1 out of 4 not meeting standard.

For Seattle low income students in grade 3 in 2012 46% did not meet the MSP reading standard... well so much for the WA State Constitution's ... ARTICLE IX EDUCATION
SECTION 1 PREAMBLE.
"It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex."

-- Dan Dempsey

lucy Taylor said...

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