Monday, October 06, 2014

Seattle Schools and Field Trips: What the Heck?

According to a couple of my sources, other SPS high schools, primarily thru their teachers, are pulling back on field trips.

What are the issues?
- the official list of forms at the district website are gone (note: I could not find the webpage that describes what the district is doing BUT I put in "field trip" into Search and I found a 67-page document with all the forms.  It is quite a formidable read (both because of format and length).
- according to my source, the official checklist is not complete, with multiple forms required have never existed (and may not exist at all)
- some teachers have been told that they need food handler permits
- the district wants to see maps/plans on how chaperones will account for all the students...4x a night

What a mess.

But frankly, it is a mess made at the hands of management, not the teachers.  (Granted the teachers on the Garfield trip did not do well but if procedures and protocols had been followed, the trip might have had a different outcome).  It may be that SPS just wants to either wash its hands of field trips OR only day trips OR only the most organized teachers and chaperones can pull them off.

I don't know what parents could do to help if teachers feel overwhelmed by the effort to organize these trips.  I worry that long-established trips will (somehow) continue but others may fall by the wayside.

Does it have to be a choice between safety and the ability for a teacher to plan and organize a field trip they believe will benefit students?




15 comments:

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

I am not sure whether the link above is the same for High School, but that's what we were asked by our elementary school to go on field trips. Honestly I have no idea how they will verify that all parents comply with it. Not surprised that schools are backing away from taking a field trip at all.

- Formsdone

Melissa Westbrook said...


Anonymous, first, give yourself a name.

Second, I'm not talking about parent volunteers, I'm talking about the teachers/staff who organize the trip. I think that's pretty clear from the thread.

Maureen said...

At the IHS PTO Meeting tonight, Principal Floe made it clear that Ingraham field trips are going forward. He acknowledged that the paperwork load had increased and that the changes are a work in progress but didn't think the new policies were significantly different from what the staff was already doing. (My interpretation obviously. ) Director Peaslee was there as well and referred us all to the District Web page. She acknowledged that the procedures and documents were in transition.

Charlie Mas said...

How will the Times manage to blame this central administration bureaucratic screw-up on the Board as individuals and a democratically elected Board as a system.

They can't, so they won't write about it.

This is just another example of the dysfunction of the District's senior management and central administration. They never had to change the policies at all. They only had to enforce the policies they had. But, since enforcing policies is directly contrary to their culture, they papered field trips to death instead.

BeenThere said...

When are we going to talk about Student Responsibilities and Student Code of Conduct?

Let's be honest, chaperones have been on field trips and they don't want certain students in their group because of unacceptable behaviors, lack of respect etc.

We also need to acknowledge that teachers spend a fair amount of time making chaperone assignments because certain children don't follow rules, fail to recognize authority etc. and chaperone assignments may be difficult.

Anonymous said...

SPS addressing the Garfield incident by killing high schools not just with paperwork but with such bureaucratic paperwork that the district can't even assure it's the correct paperwork?

How very, very JSIS. And now the kids at multiple high schools will lose.

Here's the deal. All the district had to do was insist administrators follow the paperwork and procedures that already existed.

This is insane.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

These field trips with teachers are exactly like teachers being coaches - leftovers from 'Leave It To Beaver', when there were 2 or 4 Eddie Haskells per grade / school.

We NEED robust after school programs to take kids to arts and the parks and ... play intramural sports and ... AND we should hire our under employed fellow citizens to be coaches and chaperones and field trip peeps. DUH.

How many of you are old enough to remember the t.v. show "Happy Days", that late 70's foggy eyed ronnie-raygun view of the 50's? Can we try some

NewProgramming?

Chris S. said...

I went on an Ingraham field trip today, my first at the high-school level. The teacher said there was an "incredible amount of red tape" but it was worth it - so educational - and the kids behaved safely and appropriately. Wish it could happen more often.

Charlie Mas said...

The Board Executive Committee has an item on their October 8 agenda labeled "Field Trip Procedures". This is an extraordinarily bad idea. The Board has no business interjecting themselves into the development of procedures.

Anonymous said...

Just announced -

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024727916_schoolsettlementxml.html

ST reader

mosfet said...

@ Chris S.

Glad to hear that the Ingraham trip went well!

David said...

The Astronomy overnight field trip at Ballard HS has been cancelled due to all the extra red tape. I feel for Mr. Muhs, who mentioned that there were forms he was supposed to submit that didn't exist yet, among other things. Hopefully they can try again later in the year.

Anonymous said...

1)Kids will break rules.
2)Chaperones can't stay up all night guarding windows and doors. They can't follow kids to make sure they're actually going to the loo and not the woods/beach/bf-gf's room.
3) If Teachers can get fired/sued over fieldtrips, then many will choose the safe option: no fieldtrips. Yes, the educational benefits are necessary, but so is paying mortgage & feeding their kids.

CCA

Anonymous said...


Schools need to have a good pool of chaperones.

My colleague and I used to stay up most of the night during the two nights of the high school field trips we went on. I would always come down with the flu.
I couldn't do it any more.

You have to have *more* than enough chaperones for the trip, not just people who will hang out for a while, but for the whole time.
It would be nice if an administrator came along as well.

--ModernSound