Saturday, February 21, 2015

Seattle Schools Updates

KOMO tv is reporting this:

A disturbing trend has been identified in Seattle public schools, where marijuana now makes up most of the disciplinary actions involving students.

Between the start of the school year and Jan. 7, marijuana made up 77 percent of all disciplinary actions taken against students, district officials said.

That's a big number.  What seems to be the issue?

Lately, school officials have faced a new threat: Marijuana edibles dressed up as sugary treats.

Everything from pot-infused caramels to drug-laced lemonade has been confiscated. That's in addition to the pipes and joints collected.

The article doesn't explain how/why KOMO came across this news.  I'll have to ask the district.

Reader Mary G said this:

If this is true, this is a stunning statistic, but how would one know? The district has been unable to produce any reliable statistics for the last two years, and certainly not any resembling real time statistics and now all the sudden it is able to produce statistics since January of this year? Four years ago, which is the last year I was able to get good statistics, there were 431 incidents of selling or possessing illegal drugs or controlled substances in the entire district. Considering there were 4617 disciplinary actions recorded that involved suspension or expulsion, that would make 9.3% of disciplinary actions involved all illegal drugs/controlled substances.

Relevant district policy book, Student Rights and Responsibilities, starting on page 10.

A very upset editorial from the Seattle Medium, the African-American media company in SE Seattle about the bill from Reps. Sharon Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew to split the district in two.   The writer, Chris H. Bennett, pulls no punches and likens them to Bull Connor, the "infamous Alabama sheriff" who supported segregation.

His major claim is that the split would be north/south which would resegregate schools and that the south end schools would receive less funding.
He gets some things wrong, claiming there is only one African-American on the School Board and that splitting the district north/south would mean more funding for the north.  (Everyone gets the same state funding but Title One schools receive additional funding via the feds.)

(He does make an odd statement that there are no "American-born" African-Americans on the School Board.  How he knows that I don't know.)

He states that many of his readers were not happy with this idea from Santos/Pettigrew which is interesting because the legislators say their constituents like this idea.  It might have been a good idea to get public input from public meetings BEFORE floating this bill.

Directors Martin-Morris, Blanford and Peters all made comments in the comments section.  Blanford and Martin-Morris both say they are American-born.  Blanford says he testified against the bill.  Peters states she think re-segregation is not the intent of the bill but could be an "unintended consequence."

Again, doing "something" just to do something is not solving a problem.  And, it is beyond undemocratic and disingenuous to not have a public discussion before any bill like this is floated.  

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I believe you know better, so I'm curious why you made the statement that all schools get the same state funding except Title I. While all students generate the same base education amounts, certain students generate additional state dollars via categorical programs like the Learning Assistance Program (LAP), special education, highly capable, transitional bilingual education, etc.

So, not all schools get the same state funding. Also, while Title I dollars are federal dollars via No Child Left Behind/ESEA, those dollars are allocated based on formulas to the state and then to districts based on essentially the same formula. However, the districts have the authority to provide those Title I dollars to schools as they see fit. In other words, the feds don't decide which schools get Title I dollars, the districts do (and it doesn't have to be allocated against a formula.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

SWK, well, you got me. I left out some categories and you filled them in.

My point was that there is no reason for anyone to say someone will get more state funding because a school is largely white.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn't mean it as a gotcha. Truly. I apologize if it came off that way.

And I would agree with you that race --- unless race is correlated with poverty, disability, etc. --- would not be a determining factor in school funding.

--- swk

Lynn said...

I saw on the OSPI website that three bills requested by Randy Dorn have passed out of the House Education Committee and continue to make their way through the Legislature.

HB eliminates the requirement for students to pass exit exams to be eligible to graduate from high school.

Anonymous said...

It's the distribution of school funding that could change with a split in the District. Suppose the FRL percentage is 40% district wide, but only 20% for students in the N and 60% for students in the SE. The District directs more dollars to a largely low income SE school and fewer dollars to a school with low FRL numbers. APP@Lincoln? Probably the lowest budgeted $/student in the district. They still bring in the same basic funding per student, but the district can shift funding to higher needs schools.

Now suppose the district splits. If the proportion of high needs students is significantly higher in one half, then the schools in the other half may end up with more dollars/student than they are currently receiving. They still get the same basic funding per student from the state, but less is redirected to other schools.

The current SPS school funding model uses the following weighted factors for redirecting discretionary funds:

Gen Ed students: 1.0
ELL: 0.6
FRL: 10.0
Special Ed: 0.5
Special Ed self-contained: 2.0

A student who is categorized as FRL would be 1.0 + 10.0 = 11.0

-more numbers

Anonymous said...

@more numbers


Interesting. So, basically, it is a 'progressive' redistribution system that takes money from 'cheaper to educate' schools and redirects to higher needs buildings. So, following that logic, high need schools should WANT more and more students come into the public system who are not ELL, SpEd, etc and who land at non-high need buildings so that their money can be siphoned off to where the need is greatest. It is a net benefit to those kids if these other kids don't go private or parochial, but come into the public system with their allocations.

So then, we should all want the West Woodlands and the Montlakes to balloon with loads of additional enrollment to enable more money to follow to students in Emerson or Bailey Gatzert, buildings with high F&RL.

I never thought of it that way. A hidden benefit.


Pro-progressive redistribution

Josh Hayes said...

Lynn, does that mean that kids will no longer have to pass, say, the algebra or geometry EOC, or the Biology EOC, to graduate from high school? This is strange, because there was such a push in the last few years to add those requirements IN, and now they want to take them back out?

This is one of the things that add unnecessary challenges to the job of teaching: goalposts constantly in motion.

Watching said...

more numbers is correct.

Question: Suppose the district were to split and north end schools had a FRL population of 29%...would Title 1 dollars be provided to schools with less than 40% FRL populations?

Lynn said...

Josh,

That's the idea. It's House Bill 1785.

mirmac1 said...

APP Lincoln is the "lowest budgeted" per student school because it has the lowest numbers of students receiving special education and the double funding it provides. The $$/student in any building is directly correlated to % sped. And that is where that extra funding must get spent, on the "excess cost" for their services

Anonymous said...

More Numbers,

This has been the argument used since schools started raising PTA monies--that their schools are somehow losing out.

If the funding is still done as I recall, a school has to have a certain percentage of FRL to qualify as a Title One and/or LAP funded school instead of the funds automatically following those students as individuals.

Research is very clear that schools that have extremely high numbers of FRL students typically have the worst outcomes. This additional money is based on a graduated formula as you outlined, whereas the needs in these buildings follow an exponential need increase. Students with IEPs, are ELL, and are homeless are often added to this equation. The needs are not +1 once a certain percentage of children with high needs are all in one building.

The schools that, in my opinion, have lost out under this formula are those just under the threshold since (at least it used to be) it's an all-or-nothing on part of these grants up until that percentage of FRL lunch threshold exists in a building.

Schools with low FRL populations have the best outcomes for those who are FRL designated students because they are able to tap into the inherent privileges of involved parents and peers who start school better prepared.

The hope would have been that, instead of having mostly affluent schools down the street from one like Bailey Gatzert that is extremely impacted, the neighborhood assignment plan could have allowed some school choice and gerrymandered boundaries. This would have been truly "progressive" because is would not have increased segregation based on income and race. Advocating creative solutions for maintaining diversity was part of the Supreme Court justices ruling that overruled race as a tie breaker but maintained the concern about a resegregation of schools.

Again, I'm not into this split one way or another. Some of these funds have been eaten up by administrative costs and other non-classroom essential needs in the past and maybe currently. Your math seems correct in the sense that actual dollars may be lost in a split. My guess is that some parents advocating the split will look for a new district to have less overhead and more grants. Some are even for charters.

When your child is at risk and there's no hope in sight, I'm sure all of the readers here who are parents would be begging for "anything but this" too.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Pro-progressive. What's the matter with you? You can't figure this out. None of this happens on a "school" level. The redistribution is at the district level. The district gets the money and splits it up according to its own criteria. The district WANTS to get the MONEY from as many high needs students as it can - and WANTS as few obligations as possible. A conundrum. What's supposed to happen - extra money is sent to SPS for all it's extra obligations, and SPS sends it on down to students according to need.

And no. It's not the "low need", those really neato smart white kids who are "getting their money siphoned away". They don't come with any extra dollars from the government. It's the kids with dollars attached to them, who are stripped of their funding. So, special ed, ELL, etc.

"Extra" funding from PTAs - isn't really about making up the gap that those high needs students are stealing from their privileged students. Not at all. They simply aren't getting monies they never were entitled to in the first place. "Extra" funding from any source, including PTAs, should be equitably divided - probably with the same ratio's as all other funding.

Every time you see a special ed assistant or ELL assistant (the only IAs in the building are those working from special pots of money) working out on the recess court, or lining YOUR kids up for the bus - that's YOUR kid taking money awau from special education. Wonder what budget that math teacher for YOUR kid is funded from - well, likely it is from special ed. Some high schools will bill special ed for general ed teaching if there's even 1 special ed student sitting in the room. Sweet huh? That way - your kid gets to strip money from the extra pots of money.

Do the Math

Watching said...


"The schools that, in my opinion, have lost out under this formula are those just under the threshold since (at least it used to be) it's an all-or-nothing on part of these grants up until that percentage of FRL lunch threshold exists in a building.

Schools with low FRL populations have the best outcomes for those who are FRL designated students because they are able to tap into the inherent privileges of involved parents and peers who start school better prepared."

I agree. I"ve always said..You don't want to be a FRL kid in a school without Title 1 unding.

I will argue, however, that low income children can benefit from higher income schools during elementary school because there are smaller numbers of students.

In middle school, PTA involvement drops off significantly- and so do the dollars. Our middle schools have neary 1000 students and a 29% FRL population equates to hudreds of students. Look at the data. You will find that in middle and high school levels, students do better, but low income students do not have the same level of achievement as their higher income peers.

One could argue PTAs bring significant support, and they do, but one can not under-estimate outside tutoring, test prep etc. provided by higher income parents.

Watching said...

Let's not forget when MGJ raised the FRL threshold to 55%. Schools with FRL populations of 54% and lower were out of luck, but all of Seattle's Pooh Bahs loved her.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Extra" funding from PTAs - isn't really about making up the gap that those high needs students are stealing from their privileged students."

An unworthy statement. Just because a child is not F/RL does not make him or her privileged (nor does it mean they are white).

Also, the use of "your kid" taking money is also unworthy. Blame a parent or blame the PTA but kids don't make these decisions.

You cannot blame parents for how the district spends the money it gets. The district does things that cause nearly every single family some upset (see McDonald and JSIS raising huge sums to support a program that the DISTRICT brought in and the DISTRICT tells them won't work without IAs).

I see the point about the IAs doing work other than what direct academic services to students. Parents like it because it means more eyes on kids at recess, lunch and, of course, the school loves it because they aren't paying for it.

It would be an interesting thing if the parents told schools - use the IAs ONLY for academic purposes or we won't fund them.

PTA funding is a slippery slope and again the DISTRICT made it such when it decided it was okay to allow funding for staff. I think there was a line when it was about enhancements and extras but once that line got crossed, well, I agree - it's a problem.

Watching is right; there can be benefits from a F/RL kid being in a school that doesn't meet Title One or LAP. The City itself wants its preschools to have a mix of kids and why? Because a mix of kids from different socio-economic backgrounds will always do better than a class of mostly F/RL kids.

Lynn said...

I wish we knew what the PTSA at Rainier Beach thinks about the idea of splitting the district. I wish too we had an example of schools with demographics similar to those in the SE with better outcomes.
When Tomiko-Santos and Southie complain about the quality of the local schools, what specifically are they talking about? Is it quality of instruction, safety, school climate or test scores? How would those factors be affected by splitting the district?
Southie wants more public and private opportunities for high achieving kids. Splitting the district won't attract private schools to the area. Is the problem that with such a high proportion of struggling students, kids who are ready for more challenge get less attention? How will a smaller district fix that? If the solution is to offer more challenging instruction to every student with extra support for students who need it, where will the new, smaller district get the money to provide that extra support?
If there's something we can do to improve academic outcomes in the SE, let's do it. Disruption for the sake of disruption does no good.

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

Sorry about the double post.

Anonymous said...

"Back to the cannabis story.

I just watched the weed scare video by the anti-drug group

http://ballardcoalition.org/press-and-news/

It's the frying pan brain on drugs but even weirder. The woman, a doctor?, states that smoking pot at age 13 will keep your brain at that developmental stage as long as one continues to smoke.

Recent research has not only discredited the slowing of brain growth from pot use in teens, but the NTHSA last week reported that smoking pot has no effect on driving safety.

Alcoholic beverages continue to look worse and worse. New research shows flaws in all studies showing small amounts of alcohol beneficial.

And the same NHTSA pointed out that one drink increase the likelihood of collision by 100 to 200 %.

Give kids the facts, set high expectations, model good(better than good) behavior and get to know your kids' friends' parents and be vigilant. But don't spread bs; the kids won't trust you any more if you do.

Concerned

Anonymous said...

The KIRO report headlines with "District: Pot to blame for most school discipline in Seattle," but then reports this school year "marijuana made up 77 percent of all drug and alcohol-related disciplinary actions taken against students." Not exactly the same thing. The 77% statistic doesn't surprise me when it's a percent of all drug and alcohol related disciplinary actions.

poor reporting