Monday, October 14, 2013

Advanced Learning Taskforce(s)

This is an e-mail I sent to Al Interim Director, Steven Martin.  I cc'd the Board, Shauna Heath and Michael Tolley.

Dear Mr. Martin,

As a former member of the Advanced Learning Taskforce - who served for a year and was asked to stay on for the next year (which never materialized and with no explanation) - you can imagine my surprise to learn there are TWO AL Taskforces already in place.  I am very disappointed to not even be asked to serve when my knowledge of the subject and the programs in this district is quite deep.

My questions to you are the following:

- how were members chosen?
- are the committees now full?  If not, how may one apply?
- why was there no public process or even notice?
- who are the members and what is their connection to AL?
- how many meetings have there been?
- where are the minutes of the meetings available?
- when are the meetings for both taskforces?  Where is that info available to the public?

If you don't know the answers to these questions, please feel free to pass this on to whoever DOES know.

I note that you are not responsible for how these taskforces get formed.  That responsibility is with the Superintendent and upper staff .  Forming groups secretly that formerly were open to public application would almost look like someone was shaping the taskforce to get a pre-ordained outcome.  Some might see it that way.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You appear to be mixing 2 issues - your participation and the general task force formation.

Sorry but you and Charlie have assumed the role of blogger and have enough insight and bully pulpit in that role. Your days of task force participation are most likely finished. View it as a success.

As for the formation of the APP task force, consider this: The threads about Peters and APP below this one are all the evidence the district needs that handpicking APP taskforce participants is key. FACMAC is Evidence Point B - endrunning around the district and going to the press was very bad etiquette.

This is no surprise. Banda indicated he was going to reconsider all taskforces at the beginning of the year. Collaborative voices and voices that don't have other opportunities to speak look to be key. There's also the need to put members on the APP committee that are not the same faces trying to drive APP, FACMAC, and the NE.

Could the district have done a better job letting the public know about the taskforce? Yes. But any veteran of SPS knows taskforces have never been the district's strong managment suit.

Had Enough

Anonymous said...

I hope there are some Spectrum/ALO parents included in the new AL task force. It is not all about APP.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Hey! I would like to be able to apply to be on an Advanced Learning Forum and I am not impressed that this wasn't opened up to the public.

Why no public solicitation of volunteers as they did for the Strategic Task Force, Math Curriculum committee etc? And are they APP-only in their focus? (Speaking as the parent of a kid who is eligible for APP, but enrolled in Spectrum, for a variety of reasons.)

-flibbertigibbet

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, I didn't mix anything up because at the last AL Taskforce meeting in May of 2012, we were asked to stay on. Charlie and I were both bloggers then as well.

The AL Taskforce mostly kept its mouth shut (as compared to FACMAC). No comparison there.

North-end Mom, I wanted to be on the original Taskforce for exactly that reason - Spectrum and ALOs. I knew APP would have plenty of company.

Jon said...

"Had Enough", maybe it's just me, but I'm surprised anyone is even trying to defend the idea of secretly creating committees in what is supposed to be a public organization. Transparency is something most people consider to be a good thing. Good luck with that argument that things are better if they happen behind close doors. I don't think many are going to agree with you.

Lynn said...

The most worrying thing about this situation is that Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath chose the task force members - and neither of them could even define Spectrum or APP when asked.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The district wants to make a distinction between gifted kids and well prepared kids as noted in the other thread. See North End grade school APP for what happens when the distinction is not made in a program. Not sustainable and not equitable. Handpicking 'had' to happen because those activist North End APP parents are unlikely to be on board with where the program administrators want to steer it, which is specialized services for the gifted coupled with more rigor back in neighborhood schools for the rest. Advanced Learning continues but APP as currently exists is a district dinosaur in the eyes of those who oversee it. Watch what comes from the AL taskforce. I am.

Watching

lynn said...

Watching,

It sounds like you think we are identifying students now who do not need APP services. What changes would you like to see to the qualification process?

The district has stated many times that their primary concern related to APP is the under-representation of poor children and children of color. I expect that is the issue they're working on now.

There is not a different method of qualifying in the north end - but you seem particularly concerned about that. Is there a reason for that?

Are you on the task force? I ask because Shauna Heath is hoping to "grow the program" in West Seattle - by getting more families to test their kids. Given that, I think your predictions are off base.

Charlie Mas said...

Watching wrote: "The district wants to make a distinction between gifted kids and well prepared kids as noted in the other thread"

Really? When did anyone from the District say this? What is your source?

Lynn said...

Watching

Sorry - no comments yet on distinguishing between well-prepared and gifted children.

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