It was a fired-up crowd that came to JAMS last night for the bell times meeting held there. (Oddly, like a forewarning, there was a contingent of crows - by my rough count, about 50 - on the east side of the building when I came in. I felt like I was in The Birds.)
I estimated the crowd at about 70 which was the largest number to attend a bell times meeting. (Pegi McEvoy told me that the one last Friday night had about 30 people.)
There were quite a few Sand Point parents there plus I know there were JAMS parents, John Rogers, someone who wanted to represent for Aki Kurose plus high school parents (who self-identified as such but not their schools).
Here's my take, overall, about what is happening and you should keep this all in mind as we go forward.
1) Most important of all to remember is that the staff NEVER wanted to do anything. In fact, they never even wanted to discuss this issue. They had to be dragged by the Board to this time and place.
2) Staff putting on the community meetings has following the district's time-honored formula to a tee but with a twist. The twist was making the meeting just one hour. They then spend at least half the meeting setting the stage. They go thru every single detail of what they have done on the issue. Plus, they also like to throw in single data points like how many teachers responded to surveys, what area had the least support for change, etc.
It's not like data points aren't important but when you are asking people to take time out of their lives to come and give input, please don't give them every single data point when you could have it all in a handout. The only handout was a draft list of what school would end up with what time.
3) Parents, even with all the data points, still seemed to feel like they didn't have all the information they needed. Like what about after-school activities? Can the district still handle them? Can our community partners adjust? What about childcare?
4) The large number of Title One schools in the latest time slot. While some may be inconvenienced (a lot, I know) by the change of bell times, for others it could be a disaster and hardship. I have heard from enough Title One schools to know their parents - many of whom are single parents or immigrant parents - do not know this is happening. (I do give the district credit - they did translate the survey into nine languages and put paper copies at all the city community centers. What I think would have been really good is to tell every single one of those schools to have an outreach event.)
5) The confusion over what this will do and who it will or will not help. The idea is to help adolescents (and that would include some middle school students as well as high school students) to have better academic outcomes based on sleep needs. There were some parents at the JAMS event who thought it would hurt academic outcomes for elementary students. There is very little research on this issue but most of it says it does not hurt academic outcomes for students.
Research study done in 2013.
Excellent article from Education Next including various studies.
How long kids spend in school versus other nations.
Please note: we are talking about - as we should - academic outcomes. Naturally, there are family and social outcomes which should be considered but the district is looking most at academic outcomes.
I also want to observe that we all know that you can find studies (or lack thereof) to support or disprove any point. Last night, a UW doctor of pediatric sleep (pretty specific) got aggressively challenged by a woman who said she did work in neurobiology. It was fine to disagree but this woman was very unpleasant in her tone and it did not help the event.
Lastly, you have the difference between elementary parents and high school parents (with middle school parents in the balancing middle). Elementary school is six long years and, for most, represents the longest time your child and you will be at one school. On the other hand, when your child becomes an adolescent, you look for ways to keep them on track because, by high school, it all becomes very serious. Elementary parents, you WILL be high school parents some day.
6) Why CAN'T we have two tiers? This is interesting because one speaker reported (and I had heard this before) that at an earlier in the year Garfield event on this topic, the facilitator said that he would bring the issue of two tiers back to the district and have it included in the conversation. It didn't happen.
Two tiers seems to be the most sensible outcome but as usual, it's about money but there are some options, as some speakers pointed out last night.
The district claims it will cost an additional $8M to do two tiers. Until I see the actual data on that, I'm not sure I believe it would be that high a cost.
Where to find the money? Transportation is mostly a gift the district has and, as I put forth in another thread, many states don't provide it or sharply curtail it. So let's be generous in thinking how to help the district with this entitlement.
- pay to ride except for F/RL. Many parents seem open to this idea. I don't have time to run the numbers but what would it be worth to you for your child to ride the bus? $1.00 a day (50 cents a ride)? How much would that generate?
- what about asking for help? What about the Alliance for Education? Aren't they there to help for better academic outcomes? (Yes, I know the relationship with the district is on the rocks but why not have parents - via PTA - go directly to the Alliance.) Who else could help?
- other ideas? Let's hear them.
How do we get to two tiers?
7) Last, which is the wild card, the 20 minutes that will come in school year 2017-1018 as was negotiated with the teachers. Should the district continue on this work - looking for money for two tiers AND figuring out how that 20 minutes will impact bell times - and NOT do anything for next year?
But I think parents are being played and pitted against each other and that is the ONE thing that cannot go on. The district wants you to look away from what they are doing which is continuing to spend more at JSCEE (more on that to come) and less out in the schools.