Friday, February 01, 2013

What is a service, a program, and a school

The Superintendent has written his procedure for policy 2200, Equitable Access to Programs & Services, and it is a tangled mess.


It defines a service as:
"A service is required by federal, state or local law and regulations to provide supplementary support to basic education."
Examples include Special Education and ELL services.


It defines a program as:
"A program may offer educational opportunities that are not mandated by law or regulation. While schools offer a variety of approaches to instruction, using a particular pedagogy does not create a program under this policy. Students access programs through an established assignment process consistent with the student assignment plan. Students must opt in and/or qualify for the program."
Examples include: APP, Spectrum, Montessori, and STEM programs. That's okay. Other examples, however, include: AP classes, IB classes, and ALO's. That's a problem.

AP classes, IB classes, and ALOs don't meet the definition. While students do have to opt it for them and perhaps even qualify, they are not accessed through an established assignment process. International programs have another problem - they are accessed through the assignment process, but student do not have to opt in to them. General education students living in the Hamilton attendance area do not opt in to the International program there - they just get assigned to it. There are no general education students at Hamilton who are not in the International program.

The procedure defines a school like this:
"A school is an OSPI-registered school defined by state statutes."
It goes on to say that a school may have one or more programs within it. The example given is Roosevelt High School.

The difference between a school and a program is key. The superintendent has the authority to open, close, or re-locate a program by edict, but only the Board has the authority to open, close, or relocate a school, and they have to vote on it. APP at Lincoln and K-5 STEM at Boren are both registered with the OSPI as schools. They have their own CSIPS and they will have their own School Reports at the District and the state level. So they are schools, right? Yet the District reserves the right to treat them like programs that can be moved without a board vote. Here's how:

Think of your neighborhood school. Your school has students who are in programs, but all of the attendance area schools (except for JSIS) also has a lot of students who are not in a program. They aren't in Spectrum or special education or bilingual education or anything like that. They are just general education students and nothing else. But APP at Lincoln and K-5 STEM at Boren don't have any students who are not in a program. They are either in the STEM program or APP or they are in some other program at the school like a special education program. There are no students in these schools who are just general education students. So the superintendent can relocate those programs and empty the school. The school will still be there; there just won't be any students in it.

The District draws some very muddy lines between building, school, and program.  This distinction is muddled further by the District's historical practice of referring to the school as the program within the building. In the Board action that closed and relocated schools in 2009 the document referred to the schools as programs - as in "the Pathfinder program", "the NOVA program", and "the Van Asselt program". That's how we got Pathfinder at Cooper, NOVA at Meany, and Van Asselt at AAA. There was a different kind of bungle that gave us Aki Kurose at Sharples. Most schools, however, share the same name as their building. This creates confusion when the District closes one. They only have to hold a hearing when closing a building, not when closing a school. The Cooper folks learned that the hard way.

It gets worse. Just as there are some schools with the same names as their building, there are some programs with the same name as their schools. For example, APP at Lincoln. The World School is another example of a program with the same name as its host school. So when speaking about the World School one must state whether speaking about the World School (the program) or the World School (the school) which also includes another program, the Secondary B.O.C. There are two programs in that school. There are no students in that school who are not in one of these two programs so the superintendent can move it without a board vote. Of course that school is only one of two schools in that building. The Meany building is also home to The NOVA Project, which is a school. Within the NOVA Project school there are programs, such as special education programs. The school itself, however, is not a program, so there students at NOVA who are not in a program. Moving NOVA would require a Board vote.

Got it?

There's another problem. The policy 2200 governs the creation, closure, and re-location of programs, but not all programs. Some programs are exempt from the regulation of the policy. They are exempt from the policy if they do not impact budgets, staffing, or the use of space in the school. ALO's, for example, get no budget, they don't require any special staffing, and they don't impact class size, so they are exempt from the policy. Same for Montessori and International programs. It could be argued whether language immersion programs or some Spectrum programs would not also be exempt. This means that the superintendent doesn't have to follow the policy when it comes to these types of programs. He doesn't have to make them equitably accessible. He doesn't have to provide rationale for his program placement decisions regarding these programs.

Confused? So is the district leadership. In his annual report on program placement the superintendent failed to include some things that were required but he did include a lot of stuff that was not.

13 comments:

Po3 said...

Wel he did something, I'll give him credit there. Next year should be better.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Well, by law "special education is a service not a place." So, he's gotta say that special ed is a "service" or it would be illegal. Hmmm. Around a quarter of our special education "service" in SPS is delivered via a "program". Meaning, you can only get the "service" if you are in a particular "program", which is, of course, at a certain place. So, we're back to special ed being a place. The "programs" are all hand assigned outside the NSAP... actually, at the secondary level, special ed "service/programs" have their own assignment plan. It's called the Linked Assignment plan. It's sorta like the NSAP but it assigns some students to schools that they wouldn't be assigned to otherwise.

It's too bad that the things that are obviously programs - the special education programs, do not get any benefit from any policy. That is, equitable placement isn't a consideration or a goal. None of the things people might consider a "goal" aren't a goal for the only thing that is truly a program. The most historically inequitable placement, and placement practice of all - has been in special ed. Sounds like that has not been addressed in any way.

-spedWonk

Anonymous said...

This kind of garbage from the district creates nothing but insecurity, ill will, and fear of enrollment into option schools. K5STEM could have been a great school after all the thoughtful time community members invested in its design. We all were under the impression that we were enrolling our kids into a school, not a program, yet now they tell us that our school can be closed, moved, or fragmented at the whim of one guy. D*mn the Super,d*mn this district. I am fed up with SPS.

Ann

Charlie Mas said...

spedWonk, The policy, 2200, is supposed to apply to services and programs equally. So even if a special education program is called a service, the policy still calls for equitable access.

Of course, having the policy doesn't provide any assurance that it will be followed.

Decomposer said...

Let's see...first K5 Stem at Boren is placed into the West Seattle Elementary GeoZone. Next it is designated a program.

The play is now set up. Break up the STEM school into two programs and stuff them into two different schools. One will serve K-2 in South West Seattle. The other will serve 3-5 in North West Seattle.

There was never any intention of creating a K5 Stem "school" in West Seattle. We've all been punked by SPS again.

Anonymous said...

I know that you're not trying to be funny, but read in the right accent with the right facial expressions, this sounds kind of like a Jon Stewart skit.

No I don't get it. I think this is one of those things I'm going to have to pass on getting and leave to others.

zb

Anonymous said...
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n said...

Thank you, Perplexed. As a teacher who loves to go deeper and enrich, I am able to do that easily and well. Accelerating usually involves isolating parts of the curriculum vertically and doing most of it poorly. I shouldn't admit that, but it is the way I feel.

Besides, I've always believed that enrichment provides acceleration as a by-product while acceleration often limits enrichment opportunities. Go figure.

(repost due to lack of signature - sorry)

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about why my comment was deleted? It was signed, Perplexed. What could possibly have been offensive in my comments?
Perplexed Again

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Thank you for sharing the procedure. I have to say, I am very disappointed and almost embarrassed of the district!

The Board adopted their policy last year in August. After 5 months of work, Jose and his cabinet are only able to muster a procedure that includes definition and reporting requirements. What about the procedures that actually pertain to making any changes and the the analysis needed to ensure that the Policy of equity and access is followed or the proposed program is sustainable?

How will this procedure help in the recent discussion that led to the split decision? IT DOESN'T!

With the Superintendent, all his highly paid cabinet members, academia department heads and lawyers in the district's payroll, this is all they can come up with.

This exercise though not an easy one surely is a lot easier than the BEX IV or reboundary work that the district has to manage in the near future. However, the way this procedure reads, it doesn't appear that it considers the other areas required to get a program up and running. Are the procedures in those relevant areas kept in McEvoy's or other administrator's head?

This procedure is what will help to ensure that our neighborhood schools have high standards throughout the City. It looks like the administration left a lot out either because of incompetence or intentionally. Either way, it doesn't help build confidence in their ability to manage this district and they have bigger things to deal with soon!

Signing,
Eeeegad!

Charlie Mas said...

I agree, Eeeegad!, this procedure contributes little value - if any.

No one would read this and say to themselves "Oh. Okay. Now I have a sense of how this policy will be applied."