Sunday, September 01, 2013

Horace Mann Building Update

This went out from Superintendent Banda to Board members on Friday, August 23rd:

Following for your information, is a copy of the invitation sent out this week to potential task
force members.

I would like to invite you to participate in the Horace Mann-African American Community Partnerships Task Force. This group will provide me with immediate and short-term recommendations on how Seattle Public Schools can partner with the groups and programs currently using the Mann building, ways to align community work and the SPS strategic plan to promote equity and support innovative African-American youth education partnerships, and how this can be achieved while still adhering to the Building Excellence IV schedule related to the Mann building.

At the August 21 Board meeting, I asked the School Board to remove an item from the Board
agenda that, if approved, would authorize construction to begin on the Mann building.  This action will be brought back to the School Board on September 18.


Therefore the work of the task force will need to be completed very soon to meet board goals.


To that end, I am asking that the task force meet as follows:
Tuesday, August 27, 5:00-7:00pm, John Stanford Center
Thursday, August 29, 5:00-7:00pm, John Stanford Center
Thursday, September 5, 5:00-7:00pm, John Stanford Center


This is vital work.
We are committed to providing equity, access and opportunity for every student


We will achieve that by working together with parents, families and community.  Thank you for considering your participation in this important work. 

Jose Banda

Superintendent

You'll note there is no list of taskforce members and two meetings have happened (and yet no one seems to be leaving.)  I would assume these meetings are open to the public but I'll check.

I remain stumped on this issue.  Is this how you get the district's attention for a particular want or issue?  Why are these particular groups getting traction when there are alternative sites and there are a number of programs for African-American youth already?  I'm mystified and I'll be eager to see what is decided.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here's part of Pegi McEvoy's Operations update to Banda (Aug 23rd Friday Memo):

Building Use Update

After this week’s board meeting, we wanted to provide you with additional information on Horace Mann. Rent was collected through June from Peoples Family Life. This group decided not to extend their lease through August and vacated the building on June 15, 2013 upon the natural conclusion of their lease. Peoples Family Life had sublet the facility with District approval to Amistad School and more recently, unbeknownst to the District, let several additional groups use the building. As part of the negotiations to facilitate the timely move of
Amistad School to its new location, an occupancy agreement was drafted in June that charged Amistad School $500.00 per month plus utilities. The Amistad School refused to sign that agreement. On August 7, 2013, Amistad School signed an agreement paying only $100.00 for utilities. Amistad School vacated Horace Mann on August 15, 2013 and has now relocated to another location in the central district.

The additional groups have formed a coalition and submitted a list of coalition members to the District. In August, district staff and the Superintendent attended a meeting at Horace Mann to review some of the programs that had been developed by the groups to serve “traditionally
underserved youth”. At that time, the Superintendent determined that a task force should be developed to identify ways the District could potentially partner with the community and the
groups occupying Horace Mann. That task force was created. Negotiations continue regarding their alignment and building use. At this time, no rent is being received from these groups.

The District’s priority will continue to be the implementation of the BEX IV timeline, the new strategic plan, and the updated building use policy and procedures.

-North End Mom

Anonymous said...

Still curious to know if the dual role of Amistad Board member and SPS principal is on of the reasons for Chris Kinsey's departure from Seath. All kinds of rumors have circulated about that.

SWWS

Melissa Westbrook said...

"unbeknownst to the District,"

Me? I see a phrase like that, about a group(s), in a district building doing things that the District doesn't even know about (let alone sign off on, let alone getting paid for) and my reaction is no.

They should all be exited from the building, pronto. BEX IV work should go on and THEN they can help these groups.

I smell a rat and I wonder what it is.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Me too. Why give them an extra two weeks (until the end of August) to get out? The memo notes that the BEX project has to stay on schedule. They haven't suggested they would like to partner with the district on a program. If they just want to use a school building (after hours) there must be a process for that.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

This is just not OK. Jesse Hagopian:

Hagopian

Comments on Horace Mann begin at 10:50.

Also - because I do nitpick - he states that one of the problems with the MAP test is that it's a gatekeeper that limits access to AP classes. Maybe he just misspoke or maybe he doesn't understand how enrollment works at his own school - but he is wrong.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Here is the letter where the Non-Profit Anti-Racism Coalition tells Superintendent Banda that:

Should Nova Alternative School indeed relocate to the Horace Mann building under such strained circumstances, the potential for community building and partnership between the students, staff and teachers with the community would be, at best, strained; at worst, hostile. A move into this neighborhood community marred by disenfranchisement and racial inequity amplified by this disenfranchising process, Nova through no fault of their own, would inevitably not feel the warm welcome they truly deserve.

Intimidation

Lynn

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, that letter is a hot mess.

One, they claim that ARC and YMCA and Childhaven are part of their group. Go to their website? It says no such thing and, I bet if I called those groups, they would say they are not part of this group.

Two, claims that the Islamic school can be used? The district is not going to:

- repair a school for a group that violated its lease with the district and didn't pay its last utility bill
- upgrade a building for outside groups
- lease (or, more hilariously, buy) a new building to house Nova. Buy the building for $2.8M and then invest more money to make it school-ready? Not going to happen.

That would be beyond craziness for the district to do that.

Letting this get much farther is a MISTAKE.

Charlie Mas said...

The District should put an end to this nonsense and do it now.

Charlie Mas said...

I guess it's good to see that the District can put together a Task Force quickly when they want to.

Meanwhile the task forces to advise on advanced learning were announced in April and not one step has been taken to create them for five months.

Charlie Mas said...

Here are the meeting dates and times for the Horace Mann Task Force:

Tuesday, August 27, 5:00-7:00pm, John Stanford Center

Thursday, August 29, 5:00-7:00pm, John Stanford Center

Thursday, September 5, 5:00-7:00pm, John Stanford Center

I presume the meetings are open to the public since there is no reason that they shouldn't be.

I encourage all interested parties to attend the third meeting. Sorry no one knew about the first two.

You know, just as no one knows who is on the committee and just as there are no meeting minutes.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Why encourage this ridiculous behavior?

You know what I don't get? Anyone can enroll at NOVA - and I believe students have the opportunity to focus their studies on things they're interested in. Correct? So why not enroll 25 or so like-minded students who want to learn 9th grade English using African or African-American literature? (Or science concentrating on plants native to Africa.) if you want an education customized for your needs NOVA seems like the place to get it.

I think they're more interested in having control of the building.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Do you think they're even participating - given the requirement that construction stay on schedule? The Notice to Proceed date on the original contract was no later than September 3rd.

Lynn

joanna said...

I am too disappointed in the District and others for whom I once had a degree of respect to be able to write.

Anonymous said...

@Lynn,
Listen to the video again. Hagopian says it, the MAP, is the gatekeeper to APP and denies access to AP classes, and therefore denies kids of color opportunities.

Nitpicker 2

Anonymous said...

Yes - but the MAP doesn't deny acces to AP classes - not directly or indirectly. AP classes have nothing to do with APP.

I don't see how it denies kids of color opportunities. It's a screening tool (a bad one) and I don't see how it denies kids of color more than anyone else. Maybe I'm missing something?

Lynn

Washington said...

This is one of those weird American morality plays. About who deserves what. The whites stole the land from the Indians and then they built a school for the blacks and now the blacks want it back after the whitish used it for the Nova school.
It should really be given back to Indians or better yet, turned back into a wilderness with soaring cedars and firs, berries, birds and all the things nature put here before the human beings arrived.

Anonymous said...

The NPARC site has a "Mann Building" tab. They mis-report Nova as leaving the building in 2007, rather than 2009. Also, it looks like one of the cochairs is affiliated with a group that was using the building over the summer.

The suggestion that the Islamic School is a viable alternative for Nova seems wrong. 10 classrooms? I really doubt that is enough.

Joanna, I too am incredibly disappointed all the way around. I hope the district will make a decision soon.

Liz

Anonymous said...

A Seattle Landmark report for Seattle Schools has a more detailed history of the Mann building, along with a few pictures of students (dated 1910 and 1934).

Landmark Nomination Report for Walla Walla School/Horace Mann School

a reader

Anonymous said...

Thanks a reader. You saved this thread! What a fascinating portrait of the school and Seattle history. My oldest enjoyed reading it very much.

another reader

Maureen said...

Lynn, Spring 7th grade MAP scores (math and reading) have to be above 95% in order to be allowed to test into IBX (High School APP) at Ingraham. I didn't listen to your Jesse Hagopian link so that may not be what he is referring to, but it is true that MAP scores are a gatekeeper for that APP program. That is a real issue for late identified kids and those new to the District. (I'm a nitpicker too!).

Anonymous said...

Maureen,

Yes - that district policy limits equitable access to advanced learning for students who are new to the district or who attend private/parochial middle schools - solely for capacity management reasons.

Hagopian said the MAP is a gatekeeper for Advanced Placement classes. Maybe he doesn't understand how registration at Garfield works or maybe he just misspoke. Because the people he was talking to refer to the situation at Garfield as apartheid, I think it's important to provide accurate information.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

MAP scores are a gatekeeper to the APP program, as were ITBS scores, or whatever achievement test was administered prior to MAP. MAP has also identified far, far many more students for AL testing because it is taken by all students, not just those testing for AL services.

After 7th grade, students can no longer test into APP. Students are last tested for AL opportunities in 7th grade for placement in 8th grade. If enrolled in APP in 8th grade, Garfield and Ingraham IBX are high school options in addition to the neighborhood school. This is the district's way of offering a "continuum of services" to highly capable students. Once at Garfield, however, any capable student can access higher level classes, and you do not need to be a part of the APP cohort to take AP classes. The Garfield principal will clearly state there is no APP at Garfield.

MAP is not a bad test in terms of trying to gauge a student's current achievement level, but 1) the test has an upper limit (one of the concerns for making all high school students take the test) as well as a lower limit (results aren't as reliable for K-2) and 2) how the results are used or misused (teacher evaluations or Algebra 1 readiness test) can be bad.

As far as the rambling Hagopian video and the linked letter suggesting some kind of retribution for returning a long standing school to its previous building (because its student body is largely white)...wow. They are not doing a very good job of furthering their cause.

my2cents

Anonymous said...

2 cents=

One thing to clarify. A student CAN test into IBX. It is true a kid cannot test into the APP program affer 7th grade and go to Garfield, but IBX is currenty an option. With Ingraham starting to experience larger and larger numbers, I don't know how muh longer this will continue.. The district is already hinting at an upcoming capacity problem - IBX information put out last year said that students can go into IBX as space allows.

-pickle

Maureen said...

After 7th grade, students can no longer test into APP. Students are last tested for AL opportunities in 7th grade for placement in 8th grade.

2cents, actually it is currently possible to test into APP after 7th grade, but only for placement in IBX at IHS,(not a seat at GHS).

Lynn, this doesn't just exclude private school students or those new to the District. It also excludes kids who wanted to stay at their SPS K-8 or neighborhood school and those who are late bloomers (I expect it disproportionately impacts ELLs who wold be a great fit at an international school like Ingraham.) And I don't see what capacity has to do with any of this. Ingraham admitted 90 IBx freshmen this year, up 100% from when the program started two years ago.

Anonymous said...

To tie this back to Mann, Hagopian was making the point that the teachers stood strong on the MAP boycott, and the district gave in. He was saying that the same could be true for the people wanting to keep the Mann building- encouraging them to stay united, not give up, keep the building.
(I supported him and others on MAP boycott- but totally disagree w/ him on the building.)

Liz

Anonymous said...

The fact is things have changed with the NSAP. Plunking a 75% white school in the CD in an historically Aficqn American building doesn't pass the equity smell test, especially as it displaces the groups working with struggling children of color.
All these calls to kick them out are pretty offensive and completely disregard the racial practices of Seattle, past and present.

E

Anonymous said...

"Once at Garfield, however, any capable student can access higher level classes, and you do not need to be a part of the APP cohort to take AP classes."

How is access to those classes assigned? This off thread for the Mann building, so perhaps I have to wait to ask it elsewhere, but it's a practical question I'm interested in. Rumors persist that some classes at Garfield are only available to those who took certain classes in the APP programs at Hamilton/Washington. Are those rumors not true? How does Garfield define any "capable" student?

zb

Anonymous said...

"The fact is things have changed with the NSAP. Plunking a 75% white school in the CD in an historically Aficqn American building doesn't pass the equity smell test, especially as it displaces the groups working with struggling children of color.
All these calls to kick them out are pretty offensive and completely disregard the racial practices of Seattle, past and present."

yes, one can and should talk about district leasing policies, which seem poorly regulated and seem to get the district into hot water in a number of ways that interferes with their primary mission of educating children. But, SPS is also a player in the larger questions about public services (the playfields at the Decatur building, for example, which are used by Little League and soccer) and needs to tread gently in negotiating the issues, because making unwise (though potentially legally justified) decisions can have broader reaching effects in the community. They need to come to negotiated settlements even if their legal alternatives and rights are solid.

zb

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Actually, it doesn't matter whether the decisions are "unwise" -- the main point is that the school district needs to build consensus for the decisions, even when it has the right to make them without the consensus, and that is especially true when they are negotiating with vulnerable or undeserved populations.

zb

joanna said...

Remarks are below that I am writing to the Superintendent and School Board: NOVA is a public school and was locate for decades at Mann before its temporary move in 2009. NOVA has a long history in the Central District. No matter socioeconomic status, students have a great variety of talents and interests and deserve programs that allow them to explore their interests and talents, including NOVA. For the short period of time that any of these other programs have temporarily been at Mann under a short term lease I have seen no substantial documentation of their success. How many students? What are the ages of the students? How have they been doing in other schools that they attend? I have seen no record of who the staff people are. They have not been there long enough to establish a record. They are not public schools and the District has not produced any documents to demonstrate that they deserve a building. If the District has such evidence, then let the District take the program into a public school. One of our schools was recently sold to AME. Is this just another case of the District not holding anyone accountable for a stable and accountable program to serve students they consider to be at risk? Those students need stability as much if not more than other students.

Director District V deserves and needs public schools that serve the students well. If we don't get accessible good public schools with a good number of options soon the families of District V should sue the District. Garfield and Washington both offer great opportunities, along with NOVA. At the elementary level there has been substantial constant disruption and destabilization of the school communities, along with much less regard given to access to elementary school for families and students, than has been given to other areas. Stable schools that build long traditions of success serve not just the students well, but also the communities in which they live. Allowing these issues around Mann to continue to fester, only further demonstrates that the District is neglecting its responsibilities to the families here.

While other communities advocate and are provided good programs, for instance Rainier Beach for IB and Cleveland for STEM, the District is allowing an unvetted group to disrupt a promise to the school community here.

joanna said...

Clarification: At Garfield, students do not have to have been in APP to access AP classes. Many students also participate in Running Start. I believe that were some other policies for the first group/groups of students leaving APP and given preference for Ingraham.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Plunking a 75% white school in the CD in an historically Aficqn American building doesn't pass the equity smell test.."

But, it's not "plunking." Nova was in that building for a long, long time right next a school (Garfield) that has long served ALL students in the CD.

The equity is putting an alternative school in a central location that ALL students can more easily access.

As has been stated, Nova is so alternative that it's project-based (not school-based learning). Any student could come in and design a program -with willing teachers and principal - to suit their learning style and interests. There is NOTHING stopping this. Maybe the word hasn't gotten out enough about Nova but yes, students drive their learning there.

I'm with Joanna - there is NOT proof that these groups are doing well, have solid programs and apparently don't believe in paying money due to a landlord.

This has very little to do with equity and a lot to do with bullying.

If it works, look for the Cedar Park artists (who have used that building for decades) to refuse to leave. Or anyone else who decides - unilaterally, with vote or approval - that "they" know better.

It doesn't work that way in a democracy.

Anonymous said...

E,

It's not a historically African American building. (How can a building be African American anyway?) The school was built in 1902. The City's Department of Neighborhood's web page tells us that Central District population was not majority African American until the 1960s - and that only lasted until the mid-1990s. In 2010 the Central District was 21.4% African American and 59.6% White. Placing option schools based on the ethnicity of the students who choose to attend is not a reason to deny NOVA the Mann building. (And in my mind a really bad idea.)

Lynn

Anonymous said...

The irony of this blog denigrating people for " bullying" and not being democratic is astounding. The calls to boycott tests, the relentless hounding of principals, teachers and administrators that bloggers don't like, the character assassinations(don't believe in paying rent to a landlord), this blog takes the cake.
zb makes the point that consensus would be a good thing here and might help to create some understanding between stakeholders.
If democracy precludes direct action to get attention to one's cause then I guess MLK himself would be catching heck on this blog too.

Incredulous

joanna said...

Ok, perhaps the District has not requested rent. Isn't that even more astonishing, allowing groups to use the building with no charge or formal agreement? Hmm, when was the last time other groups had access to a building free and without permission. Or is there an implied permission? The staff generally seems to have a professional understanding on managing public resources, even when I don't agree with them. I believe that at least one Director stated that the Board wanted some assurance that an agreement was in place and rent was being collected. The District is managing this property with our tax money. Should they not be protecting and managing this public asset in the public interest.

This seems to political hijinks on the taxpayer dime and definitely not about student success.

PS I hope my missing commas in a previous post will be forgiven.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The irony of this blog denigrating people for " bullying" and not being democratic is astounding. The calls to boycott tests, the relentless hounding of principals, teachers and administrators that bloggers don't like, the character assassinations(don't believe in paying rent to a landlord), this blog takes the cake.

It's interesting how MLK, Jr (and, by the way, many people constantly leave off the Jr and it's truly part of his name) is called up.

We have consistently stood up for standing up and being counted. I don't see this as a civil rights issue and I think the number of readers who have published the history of the CD shows that.

I don't see how boycotting tests is bullying. Nor reporting issues at schools with teachers, principals and yes, administrators. Keep in mind, we were the first ones to note the issues around Silas Potter. Was that "hounding"?

I didn't say the renters hadn't paid rent - the district did and I believe them. I don't believe that the rent and utiliites were paid in a timely manner and no one had the right to sub-let anything without that being in the lease and/or asking the district for permission.

Again,don't blame the messenger for the realities of this situation.

Incredulous, you obviously have read this blog (a lot) so you must be here for reason. If it isn't to your liking, don't read it.

Charlie Mas said...

E,

Why are the demographics of NOVA as they are? The school has been in the CD for thirty years. If African-American students wanted to enroll at it, they were free to do so. If they feel such a strong attachment to the space, why didn't they?

In fact, the Garfield attendance area is the GeoZone for NOVA, so African-American students living in the CD actually get priority access to NOVA, yet still they don't want it.

The school's demographics are not the school's responsibility. It is up to the community to determine the school's demographics.

joanna said...

Charlie, if NOVA is 25% African American that does not necessarily represent African American rejection of the school. It might actually represent a fair to good number selecting it since no one is assigned to NOVA. I would need a lot more demographic information than that to make that claim. Remember race is self selected or family selected, which can also impact the stats.

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

My children went to Garfield and graduated about 10 years ago. I live nearby and have remained active in the community. Those reports are not true. I assume that all high schools have had to deal with some student issues and various drugs. I am not sure why an administrator at Garfield would say that. When those types of problems occurred at Garfield, I did not hear NOVA mentioned, and they usually seemed to occur on the other side of the building. In comparison to many of the high schools in Seattle, Garfield's problems with drugs and alcohol tend to be a bit lower than average. One of the leaders of the Workout Program, the original lease holder in 2009, began the campaign for taking over Mann by berating NOVA. Eventually, she seemed to realize that was not a good public relations move. Ask yourself if there have been problems at Meany. If so, exactly what was the nature of the issue. By the way some students that had been in APP choose NOVA for high school, and some NOVA students took music, sports, and AP classes at Garfield. I am not saying that cooperative issues did not exist. Some of it has to do with the funding formulas for high schools.

Anonymous said...



Plan for Mann :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBNrSOUdAGY

PSP

Anonymous said...

Here is another, more recent video, posted August 23, 2013, regarding the Africatown Innovation Center

http://youtu.be/syo4bDsRKkg

Having worked in high school in to develop a teen center, I see their excitement at the possibilities for developing programming. At the same time I am extremely frustrated at their advisors and adult leaders who have encouraged them to believe that they can takeover a temporarily vacant school building.

I wonder how long the Districf has been aware of their plans - or perhaps they weren't paying attention.

CHM

Anonymous said...

The folks in the Mann Building are illegal squatters and need to be thrown out.

The District and Nova needs the building back. End of story.

Dora

Dora said...

Apologies for the typo in the previous post.

What if Nova had done this when the school was told it had to vacate the Mann building four years ago?

My daughter attended Nova. It was a great program for her. She thrived with the academic freedom that was afforded to her at that school. She also aced the ACT and the state tests each year which goes to show that it's not necessary to have standardized tests and federally mandated curriculum to succeed. But that's another subject.

We were a part of the move out of the much loved Mann building. It was a difficult time. Mann was a part of Nova and vice versa. Every inch of that building was covered in student art and creative efforts of the staff, inside and out.

Since then, Nova has been in limbo, not quite knowing what would happen next. Would it stay in the Meaney building? Would the World School take over the Meany building? Would the students and staff have to move again? If so, where? That has been unfair to the students and staff and should never had happened to begin with.

This ongoing saga with the folks who are in the building illegally is also completely necessary. This should be handled in an objective and purely legal manner.

Whoever is in that building now needs to take on the responsibility of finding another place.

By the way, Nova's neighbors in the CD were sad to see the Nova community leave. Some of them were a part of the march and rally to keeps our program and others where they were.

Anonymous said...

I think Pinehurst Parents should refuse to leave Pinehurst if these are the tactics that work to get the school district to take you seriously.

HP

Anonymous said...

The lack of historical perspective is glaring. Has anyone heard of the American slave trade or Jim Crow or neighborhood covenants or redlining?
Do you folks think we as a city are beyond race at this time?
if nothing else this situation will bring attention to some of the lingering effects of our corrosive social practices of the past.
Isn't squatters a pejorative term or is it just descriptive?

A

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, A, and I have written about why our district is segregated based on redlining our city.

But this really isn't about race. I see that some are trying to make it that way for their own ends but unless it is really and truly that minority students in that area are being denied something that is either available in some other area and/or is not available at all, then I don't think it's about race.

I personally don't see that.

If you know a better term than squatters, let us know. "Unauthorized renters?" I don't know.

Wake Up, God Dammit! said...

In short, "WAKE UP, GOD DAMMIT!" http://allpowertothepositive.podomatic.com/entry/2013-09-09T15_15_12-07_00