Monday, November 02, 2015

District (Tries) to Explain Assignment Plan "Minor Changes"

I had an interview with KPLU's Kyle Stokes about the redlined student assignment plan.  He then went to the district who provided him with their accounting of the changes to the SAP.  Apparently I'm Chicken Little.

According to the district (and they put this in their document three times):

There are only two proposed policy changes: 
  1. Waitlists will now be dissolved on May 31, instead of September 30. 
  2. The distance tiebreaker has been removed, in keeping with the Student Assignment Plan that was approved in 2009.
This document is not at the district webpage (even as the Board will be voting on it this Wednesday.)

Additionally:
- they say there are no proposed changes to programs, services or pathways at this time.

I say the key phrase is "at this time" meaning, the vote.  AFTER the vote, watch them go at it.  Because if it is true there are no changes, why is the feeder pattern section completely red-lined with nothing explaining the red-lining OR what replaces it?  

- they say that there WAS community engagement at meetings earlier this fall "to discuss proposed changes to the Student Assignment Plan (and growth boundaries.) "

But kids, the name of the meetings was "Growth Boundaries," not Student Assignment Plan.  They can check their own announcements as I did yesterday.

- no change to grandfathering or "move rules"

The addition of "if available" is a change.  Maybe they think two little words don't count as change but yes, that will change a lot.  (I'm not sure what they mean by "move rules.")

- the content of these changes has been available since September 17th 

I have no idea which "changes" they mean - their waitlist/distance tiebreaker (true) or the red-lined changes (false)?

- the red-lined version was asked for by the Board on Oct. 21 and provided to them on Oct. 28th

So the Board had to ASK for the red-line version and staff just didn't think to provide it before that date?  AND, they got it to the Board more than a week AFTER they asked for it?  For a vote that was to take place less than a week later?  

- The Student Assignment Plan is a policy.

Okay, but it is also the guiding document for parents who wish to enroll their kids in Seattle Schools.  If you read the non-red-lined version, you'd see a lot of holes about that would leave most parents scratching their heads.  

In the past I said, about Advanced Learning, that you should not have to be a detective to figure it out.  That goes double for the Student Assignment Plan.

- They say there are other relevant documents and that "the plan cannot be viewed in isolation."

Agreed, BUT they claimed it was streamlined precisely BECAUSE there were too many documents.  Ms. Davies said this at the last Board meeting.  So which is it?

- If programs or services are not explicitly identified in this Student Assignment Plan, it does not mean that they no longer exist. The most up to date information about programs and services can be found within the respective program office.

No one said the programs and services no longer didn't exist; I said that by editing out all the feeder patterns for some programs, it indicates a change or shift.  That should be addressed.  Again, the red-lined version could have been written by Steven King and that's bizarre.

As well, what about the issue of choice seats?  Gone
What about the issue of empty seats at schools after the waitlist is dissolved?  Crickets.

I stand by my contention; Staff is trying to take power from the Board over one of their most important responsibilities.  Staff has not made what is probably one of the most important documents that parents read clear and complete.

I contend that the district is trying to gaslight* the Board and parents.

Do not let them.

*Some of you may be too young for this reference.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

The district response is very, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain." To go to such lengths to divert attention and obfuscate seems very telling that indeed, something large is hidden out of view.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Just posted on other thread. Reposting:

OMG. Can someone with more time than me tonight redline that district pile of PR poo, add comments, and repost? There are truth stretches and outright lies in the response.

Check this out. Bold mine. Italics mine.

Enrollment Planning is not proposing any changes to programs, services, or pathways at this time. and when it's time to change them we'll make it a superintendent procedure, so go jump off the pier, public.

Enrollment Planning hosted four public meetings to discuss the proposed changes to the Student
Assignment Plan (and growth boundary changes). All meetings were 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. At these
meetings, we presented information (with interpreters present), conducted question and answer
sessions, and collected comment cards. We also collected feedback to the proposed changes via email. And the extent of the changes now seen in the redlined document was never made clear. Never. Community involvement my a$$.

Grandfathered assignments have
always been contingent on the capacity of a given school.
Wrong. False. Grandfathering was allowed in certain situations, and overrode capacity concerns, in the huge transition to the current assignment plan. Some veterans like StepJ and Mom of 3 used to advocate on this very subject.

The content of these changes have been publicly available since September 10. Baloney in purest form. A discussion in a back corner and a not-redlined version posted in the middle of a holiday weekend are nobody's idea of publicly available.

Carry on bloggers. This is spin that hasn't been seen since I don't know when. Goodloe-Johnson never bothered to spin. She just ran roughshod. So this kind of BS is epic.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

Also, Melissa, you forgot to add BS to your key word tags. Please update if you have a chance. Maybe a hashtag too. #BS.

Hey, maybe readers can contribute on this thread by starting each entry with #BS. Makes it easier for community, board and media when the crap is spelled out.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

Hummm so bravo for KPLU's Kyle Stokes.

Now perhaps KPLU's Kyle Stokes can ask about the secret Elementary School Math Scope and Sequence. No redlining needed as nothing has been publicly published.

If the district cared to acknowledge and respond to Mr. Stokes's question, then we could get more SPS epic BS.

Where are the directors?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

I Favorite #BS

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Brilliant on the hashtag.

#BS.............Out of magical thin air K8s now assigned to 6th at their school and guarantee of comprehensive middle school is dissolved.

Alt mama

Meg said...

Huh. Maybe SPS defines "policy" differently?

So the rest of the MASSIVE changes to the existing Student Assignment Plan somehow count not as "policy" changes but as... some other kind of "minor" alteration not relating to policy? K8 re-assignment, referring communities to various departments to find out what is going on with their "program" "pathway," the reduction of grandfathering (which is likely intended to keep kids in geosplits from staying in the school the district wants to pull them out of but will, year in and year out, inordinately affect students living in families with less resources), and... huh.

WTF, Batman?

This is not "minor changes." It's basically a new assignment plan. Which pretty much says, "we'll tell you what you get when we feel like it and you can't do anything about it."

Other than that, "minor" changes. And I heard that Mrs. Lincoln had a "minor" disruption the last time she attended the theater with her husband.

Anonymous said...

# BS: Doing a full overhaul of the enrollment plan under the guise of boundary updates. I didn't go to the boundary update meetings as I knew our area was not under discussion. You bet I would have been there along with fellow parents if this overhaul had been advertised. Our community has been burned multiple times by changes in procedure that suddenly appeared out of the bowels of JSCEE. This is completely unreasonable and as I posted on the previous thread the obvious next step in a few months or years is for staff to claim that the board has no place in overseeing departmental changes, ergo no need for public comment or scrutiny.

Seen it

Anonymous said...

#BS. come on!!! Just how stupid does the District think we are??!! Oh never mind?
, clearly they have zero respect for the public. I'll say it again "power grab" anyone???

reader47

Anonymous said...

Just to be clear about "grandfathering" as in some of the comments it seems to be used to refer to three possible situations. I'm no fan of the staff approach to this document, to be clear, but in critiquing it is important to be accurate and I think there is very little change to grandfathering, if any, to wit:

1. The first type of grandfathering was when the new assignment plan was instituted. Kids in existing enrollments did not have to switch to neighborhood school. That existed only for those kids and is long gone now anyway, hasn't applied to anyone after those kids.

2. The second type of reference I see to grandfathering has actually never existed. Some of the commenters seem to think that if a child moves to a new address, they have been grandfathered at their old school. That has not been the case for years, if ever, under the new assignment plan. If you MOVE you have to switch to your new neighborhood school, unless you open enroll via choice successfully into your old school. We moved in 2012 and believe me I asked and read the then-existing student assignment plan and there was no such thing as grandfathering to allow our kids to remain in our old neighborhood school, we had to switch to the new neighborhood school.

3. The third type of reference I see to grandfathering addresses whether if the district redraws assignment boundaries, as it can do every year, kids affected can stay at their old neighborhood school. This situation occurred at our neighborhood school two years ago when the district tweaked the boundaries and put some existing kids into a different school because we were overcrowded (Stevens). Note that even then, two years ago, there was NO automatic grandfathering for these kids. It was debated and discussed and negotiated, and I think as I recall the kids got to stay but without bus service, but it was a concession granted to the school, it was not mandated by policy.

So while there certainly are aspects of this year's revised student assignment plan to care about, I don't think the inclusion of "if available" in the grandfathering sentence really is a change in practice.

Just my take based on the evidence of situations I've personally experienced in the last 2-3 years.

--Mom of 6th and 2nd graders plus baby

Melissa Westbrook said...

If it's not a change, why put in "if available?"

You're right, Mom, on some points but the district never does this kind of thing w/o a reason. (FYI, give yourself a shorter name per blog rules.)

GarfieldMom said...

The document they provided to KPLU (written by a savvy PR person, no doubt) states that notices went out in the School Beat and in a district email to all families on September 25, subject line "Upcoming Meetings on Boundaries, Levies and Bells." I know some got that email because it's mentioned in this prior thread: Friday Open Thread 9/25. Look about 1/4-ish of the way down the comments for something from String Cheese, and a few other comments from that thread. I didn't get it, though, I checked.

The original three meetings WERE mentioned in School Beat on September 18 (first School Beat of the new year), in the fourth item down, right column, and again on October 1, fifth item down, right column. Both times the same info was given. The School Beat that went out on October 19th, which is the date they gave for the 4th meeting that happened at EC Hughes, didn't mention that meeting. Info on that fourth meeting was never sent out to families as near as I can tell, not district-wide, anyway.

Here's what the School Beat item said:

Information meetings on school boundaries

In 2013, the Seattle School Board approved a series of boundary changes for elementary and middle school attendance areas. These were the result of a process of public input for school boundaries and the student assignment plan, and changes are being implemented over time. Each fall, Seattle Public Schools holds informational community meetings to provide information and answer questions. Three community meetings are scheduled in October to discuss the changes to school boundaries and the student assignment plan for the 2016-17 year.


It linked to this district release about the community meetings. This is the only statement in that document about changes to the SAP:

Additionally, Seattle Public Schools is proposing minor revisions to the Student Assignment Plan to streamline and clarify questions that have been raised over the past several years. There are a number of different student assignment documents (including previous annual transition plans) available at http://bit.ly/SPS-AssignmentPlan. The revisions to the Student Assignment Plan include the elimination of the distance tiebreaker and other conflicting statements. Once adopted, this will be the final implementation of the Student Assignment Plan.

The minutes of the Ops Committee meeting indicate that directors suggested to staff they shouldn't call them "minor" revisions as this would be significant change for some families. It also sounds like staff told them no one uses the distance tie breaker anyway. ???

They really emphasize the idea that this is two small policy changes, nothing more. It's up to directors to ask the questions that will show that moving the details out of the SAP itself equates to no board oversight over future changes, or it will be Middle College HS (etc.) all over again.

GarfieldMom said...

Also --

The current claim is that this is only needed to streamline and standardize the SAP (to cut down on questions and complaints due to conflicting info out there on their own website), and to make two minor policy revisions: waitlist date, and distance tiebreaker.

This is from the PowerPoint presentation delivered to the Ops Committee on September 17. My bolding on the bullet point.

Why this is Necessary
• Single, standardized document going forward
• Resolve conflicting and confusing language in original and Transition Plan versions of Student Assignment Plan
• Changing landscape of programs and services
– Advanced Learning, ELL

• Clarifying and communicating with families
– Helps us avoid communication and data errors


Hmmm. That's kind of vague. What is this changing landscape of programs and services (Advanced Learning, ELL) of which you speak? Could it be coming in the form of changes to the Super's procedures that would happen out of sight of the public and board from here on out? There's nothing in the minutes that suggests this was fleshed out and discussed in the committee meeting.

Charlie Mas said...

Go back and read the original Board adoption of the New Student Assignment Plan and you will see that families who moved did NOT have to change schools if they remained in the same service area. That was put in there specifically to address the high mobility of low-income families.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was the first to ignore this, saying it was a transition plan thing. If this SAP is supposed to be a return to the original plan and the end of transition plans, then true grandfathering for transient students should be part of it.

kellie said...

Of course, staff say this is a minor change, because relative to the huge switch to the NSAP, it is relatively minor. The "issue" is the whole slippery slope, where when given and inch, eventually there is a mile.

Remember the geo-zones that came out of the TOPS neighborhood assignment process. Geo-zones were put into the plan with the "intention" that they were "postage-stamp-sized" and that they were intended only for the small handful of families who lived so close to an option school, that they could see the school from their home.

In other words, geo-zones were intended to include a handful of people. Now geo-zones are capacity management tools and they are drawn with the intention to keep other people out.

Geo-zones are drawn in such a way to include areas that are over-capacity in order to give a preference to those areas to balance the system. That is not awful, but it was not the plan, the intention or anywhere in the process, but it is the reality.

The intention and the reality for this proposal have stark differences.


mirmac1 said...

The tone in the PR release is: the community was told, they weren't paying attention, so too bad so sad. There's anger at JSCEE towards the community for our justifiable outrage. We are the enemy.

My experience is that Herndon has disdain for transparency and disclosure.

Anonymous said...

Oh clearly, they have seen the enemy and it is us. Kind of a weird attitude for people who's paycheck comes from our tax dollars, but hey, they know better. Supposedly.

I love that they want to control the narrative (consistently it appears) that these are just "minor changes". There are more redlined sections in the proposal than original text. Thanks to the nice work of GarfieldMom above, we KNOW they were told to stop referring to these changes as "minor."

I don't think they know what that word means...

reader47

Anonymous said...

Just looked at one of the docs they reference in GarfieldMom's text above, linked off the "Student Assignment Plan" page as "presented information" - one of those classic uniformative powerpoint District Staff so loves.

Among the bullet points under the heading "Why updates are necessary" is this:
Eliminates outdated information about programs and services

and this:
Specifics around programs and services maintained by respective offices (Advanced
Learning, ELL, Transportation, etc.)


and this:
Enhances clarity and communication with families

hmm... wasn't there something about how families would no longer get a letter giving them their assignment in the new document??? And how many times have we heard people being unable to get thru to one or another office downtown.

full doc HERE

bleeeeahhh


reader47

Melissa Westbrook said...

I do feel a little sad (and a lot weary) about all of this. It may end up being the line in the sand between parents and the district.

I do have sympathy for the district. They have a money crunch and capacity crunch (plus the bonds on the JSCEE) plus actually running the district.

But until they put all the money on the table - in a clear fashion - I cannot trust what they are doing. (I have a thread coming up on where is all the money and what is it being spent on.)

Staff HAS to control enrollment as the final piece to controlling program placement and capacity management.

This is not an arm-wrestle that will need to happen; it will be a battle royale for the heart and soul of this district. That's not hyperbole; that's the truth.

Parents are figuratively and literally going to have to stand their ground - for months - in order to see a equal separation of powers between the senior management and the Board. The staff is dancing as fast as they can to get things done before the new Board comes on but I think they are running out of time.

I think at the end of it, some senior staff may think it's time to get out of Dodge. And they would be right.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if get out of dodge will include Nyland. And his public relations people. Very unimpressed with leadership and parent communication. Very.

North of 85th

Kyle Stokes said...

Hi folks, it's the aforementioned KPLU reporter. Wanted to point you to my write-up of this issue, which attempts to put Westbrook's analysis and the district's response side-by-side. http://www.kplu.org/post/critics-put-seattle-school-district-defense-over-student-assignment-plan

I'd happily take your comments there or in this thread. And feel free to get in touch any time: kstokes /at/ kplu /dot/ org

Anonymous said...

Kyle,

Your article seems to simplify the situation into a "he said she said" like "no we didn't" and "yes you did" and "no we didn't" and "yes you did". Did you do any independent analysis? I didn't see it. Maybe it's there, but I got dizzy with the ping ponging and gave up.

Reader

CliffM said...

Good balanced story! One thing to be aware of, Kyle: The advanced learning program formerly known as APP (Accelerated Progress Program) is now HCC (Highly Capable Cohort). The District changed the name (but nothing else) last academic year primarily because of state laws and funding that refer to "Highly Capable" services, and to end possible confusion with high school AP (Advanced Placement) courses.

Anonymous said...

There needs to be a focus on the loss of middle school seats if your student is enrolled in a K-8. At least three K-8's are neighborhood schools not option schools -Broadview,Madrona,and Catherine Blaine. Some option schools are K-8's. So if a parent chooses the neighborhood school and it happens to be a K-8, a seat in the "neighborhood" middle school is ostensibly foreclosed. Oh sure the parent can request a seat but its on a space available basis. This is not right.

MC

Anonymous said...

Kyle, this is the quote from the story that stands out to me:

"But Davies said the district's feeder patterns are not changing. Rather, information about those feeder patterns is simply available elsewhere, in documents that "also need to go through ... review and receive community feedback" if changed."

So for example, documents explaining Advanced Learning feeder patterns are going to be maintained at the Advanced Learning office, or the office of Curriculum and Instruction, and "need to go through" feedback if changed? What does it mean to "need community feedback" if changed? Is this the same "need" as needing board approval before changes to program placement, splits, and pathways can be finalized? I'm guessing no, and I hope you will call them out on this point.

"If programs or services are not explicitly identified in this Student Assignment Plan, it does not mean that they no longer exist," a district statement added.

Ask them specifically -- "Could this document conceivably cause ANY CHANGES to ANY SCENARIO in which you would currently require BOARD APPROVAL before changing how students are assigned to their schools and where they receive their services?"
Because if it could conceivably impact that, then it is a BIG CHANGE and they should admit it.

CP

Lori said...

I share MC's concerns about K-8 students no longer having a guaranteed seat at their neighborhood middle school, particularly now that the latest bell time proposal has three K-8s on the first tier.

A few weeks ago, people argued that having a few K-8s in Tier 1 was not a problem because families who want the academic, health, and safety benefits clearly demonstrated when adolescents have later school starts could simply enroll to their neighborhood MS for that benefit. Now that option is going away.

I don't remember which K-8s are still on Tier 1 or which middle schools they would feed to, but do any of those K-8s feed to an MS that has room?

Sorry, I know many people support the latest bell times proposals because it minimizes the number of elementary kids in Tier 3, but it leaves a fair number of adolescents in Tier 1 (including all of Denny, right?), and I just have ethical qualms about this. The whole rationale for later starts for pre-teens and teens was all the research data: academics, health, safety. How we can just deny those benefits to certain families based on their address or a school choice they made when their child was 5 years old is beyond my grasp. Doesn't seem equitable at all.

Lori said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Any wagers on what will be dissolved first? HCC Pathways or Native American/Pinehurst at Licton Springs?

-StepJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

"But Davies said the district's feeder patterns are not changing. Rather, information about those feeder patterns is simply available elsewhere, in documents that "also need to go through ... review and receive community feedback" if changed."

If that is true, why isn't that info the replacement for all the redlined feeder patterns? Did we miss it?

Step J, yes, that could be our new game - who gets the axe first?

Anonymous said...

Kyle, thanks for the article, and your willingness to take feedback. I feel like you've taken the district at their word on a few things that maybe aren't quite accurate, and that it would be valuable to push a bit more.

1. You wrote: “The proposal simply reiterates language found elsewhere that students who need to access special education or gifted programming their attendance area school does not offer will be assigned to another school nearby that does.”

That's not accurate. The new proposal doesn't say anything about access to gifted education. Instead, it says that "students shall have the opportunity to attend an elementary, middle, or high school in a designated attendance area based upon home address, unless the school designated by a student’s home address does not have the appropriate services for the student’s needs, as determined by the school district…. It is expected that most students will have the opportunity to attend their attendance area school."

Elsewhere the proposed policy says: "if required services are not available at the student’s attendance area school, the school will generally be linked with a nearby school or service area with the required services. There will continue to be a limited number of programs or services that are unique enough, and that serve such a limited population, that they cannot be offered in every service area or attendance area."

Taken together, these new additions to the proposed assignment plan do not provide reassurance that gifted pathways will remain intact. On the contrary, they suggest the district believes these services may be adequately provided at any school...even though parents have not seen that to be the case in the past.

(cont’d)

Anonymous said...

2. You said Ms. Davies indicated “the district's feeder patterns are not changing, it's just that the information about feeder patterns is simply available elsewhere, in documents that 'also need to go through ... review and receive community feedback' if changed.” You also noted a district statement that "If programs or services are not explicitly identified in this Student Assignment Plan, it does not mean that they no longer exist. The most up to date information about programs and services can be found within the respective program office.”

These statements are misleading and inaccurate on two fronts. For one, the departments don't always have all the answers. Two, the changes they're talking about don't require public engagement as they suggest.

Here's one example re: language immersion: I have a copy of an email directly from the International Education dept that starts like this, in response to a parent question: "We’ve been conversing about this with Hamilton and district Enrollment Services folks because the pathway 'guidelines' are not 100% clear."

Great. So if the IE dept doesn't know, how are parents supposed to refer to them for answers? And when the IE dept and Enrollment Sevcs and the schools finally figure out the details of their pathways so they can answer specific questions, what will they do then? Post the clarifying info on their web page? Or hold onto the info internally, using it as needed? In either case, there's no public engagement--they make a decision as to how they are interpreting things, and we live with it.

Here's another example, this one re: gifted ed. Policy 2190 says: "The variety of instructional programs or services for students identified as Highly Capable will include pathways to sites with adequate cohorts of Highly Capable students in order to provide peer learning and social/emotional opportunities for these students, teachers with experience and/or professional development on the academic and social/emotional needs of these students, appropriate curriculum, appropriately differentiated instruction, deeper learning opportunities, and accelerated pacing."

That's the extent of detail that exists in Board Policy on this issue. If pathway information is deleted from the proposed plan, the only other place to find pathway details on HCC and Spectrum is in the Superintendent's Procedures that accompany Policy 2190. Yet those procedures can be changed any time, without Board approval or public comment. And they WILL be changed, as the current pathways will break certain schools very soon. But by removing the language from the student assignment plan they don't have to figure that out now; they can make their decisions out of public view, then just tell us how it's going to be. They could decide to create new pathways, or they could just as easily decide that "adequate cohorts" of HC students exist at all schools and eliminate special pathways.

3. Ms. Davies slipped up, but you didn't call her on it. While you repeated the district's position that they're proposing two relatively-minor changes to the plan, you later included an important quite from Ms. Davies: "It's good feedback for us to know, and if we were to do this again--maybe just adding a different headliner to make sure that people know it was also about Student Assignment Plan updates.... We would never try to hide information, especially information that has such a huge impact." Oops. She probably wasn't supposed to admit that last part, huh?

HF

Anonymous said...

Excellent points by HF. Hoping Kyle will consider following up!
Thank you to both HF and Kyle.
TC

Calling BS said...

"Are we eliminating programs, services, or pathways?
No. Enrollment Planning is not proposing any changes to programs, services, or pathways at this time."

Key words: "...at this time." What about next year- or the the year after that?"

Kyle Stokes said...

Replying to a few direct questions here:

@CP: In response to your point about asking the specific question — I kinda did ask something like that question. Here’s the back-and-forth from my audio interview, only lightly edited for readability:

—Reporter: I think people will hear your answer and come back and say, “Okay, so things aren’t changing right now, but could your office or another office decide to change these now that it’s out of board policy at some future time?" For instance, [you say] grandfathering is something we want to continue to do. But someone might say, "Well, we’re short on funds this year,” and so someone in central staff can come back and say, “Well, as a budget-saving matter, we’re going to say no grandfathering this year.” That’s where [Melissa Westbrook’s] real point is — people will say, “Yeah, the Constitution is changing, but you’ve also taken this decision outside the hands of board control.” So is that something that now is outside of board control?

—Davies: It’s interesting you bring up grandfathering as an example. That’s where some of the confusion may have lain in terms of the way the policies were outlined in the document as it exists. The current SAP does mention grandfathering. The change or kinda streamlining of language doesn’t change anything about our policies around grandfathering. That has always been pending space availability. The grandfathering language that’s in the current transition plan talks about specific instances. Every year as we work on boundary changes and think about the capacity that exists in a certain building and what the impact of certain changes would be, we have to evaluate the potential for grandfathering in every situation. Nothing is changing. Grandfathering has always been available, space-permitting in certain situations, and it will continue to be that way. So I think there’s confusion about what’s changing and what’s needed in order to make certain changes in the future.

(We spoke for about 25 minutes, and if your specific question was one I had in mind, this might’ve been an opportunity to come back and say, ‘Does that last part mean, it’s currently outside of board control as it is?’ If I had been clearheaded, I could’ve asked that. But I had a bunch of things I needed to talk with her about.)

Kyle Stokes said...

@HF: A few things—

On your point #1: The context for that line you excerpt is important. The full paragraph reads: "The new guidelines, if approved, would include much more general language — partially because more schools offer the programs now. The proposal simply reiterates language found elsewhere that students who need to access special education or gifted programming their attendance area school does not offer will be assigned to another school nearby that does.” I’ll stand by that characterization in their context. Though your interpretation of the implication about whether gifted pathways remain intact may be correct, the purpose of that paragraph is not to pass judgment on that interpretation. I’m writing for a general audience, and need to distill down the Greek of school board documents into something comprehensible.

On your point #2: Your point about the pathway info at program offices being unclear is a good one, and one I’ll admit I didn’t have time to check. The best we journos can do sometime — and this is a point @Reader made — is to be transparent about the “he said she said,” especially when information is so new.

On your point #3: The very first question I asked her was as follows:

—Reporter: [In the initial BAR], the initial word that was used was “minor.” I know this seems like a semantic issue, but which is it? Is this a minor change or is this not a minor change?

—Davies: There are just two changes. Initially, we used the word “minor” when we went to the Ops committee to propose these changes on Sept. 17. The committee recognized “minor” is relative to some families. It may seem as though they are not minor. At that point, we did remove the word “minor.” Still, there are only two proposed changes.

Her saying “information that has such a huge impact” is not the same thing as admitting the changes aren’t minor, so I’m not certain I was supposed to call her on it. It sounded to me more of her recognition of the sensitivity and gravity of the issue, not of the gravity of these specific changes. But I hear your point here, too: the district is trying to say these aren’t big changes, but if the area is so sensitive, then how can any change be minor?


@CliffM—
I think I emailed you on this, but let me just acknowledge your point publicly: I'm aware of the shift of the name from APP to the Highly Capable Cohort — I just put the designation in the same bucket as the Willis Tower and "Mall of America Field" of legal names for stuff that few people seem to truly use. Whenever I've heard of "HCC" referenced in conversation or news stories, it always comes with the caveat "...which is what they're calling APP these days.” In a story that's technical enough, I'm in favor of keeping things simple!

Anonymous said...

Kyle, thank you! It's too bad Davies was able to obfuscate the issue in your question by (rightfully) pointing out that there is some confusion about grandfathering as the rules stand now.
What about the simpler case of the currently guaranteed assignment of an APP student to the self-contained elementary program: A split of that program or any change to the assignment of kids would currently require board approval. Would it still be a board vote under the revised SAP?

TC

Anonymous said...

I heard the district is removing the item from the agenda tomorrow.

--JvA

SPS Mom said...

School board agenda with speakers list is up AND the superintendent has requested a delay of the Student Assignment Plan Action item until 11/18!

GarfieldMom said...

Ky Stokes wrote... (bold mine)

On your point #3: The very first question I asked her was as follows:

—Reporter: [In the initial BAR], the initial word that was used was “minor.” I know this seems like a semantic issue, but which is it? Is this a minor change or is this not a minor change?

—Davies: There are just two changes. Initially, we used the word “minor” when we went to the Ops committee to propose these changes on Sept. 17. The committee recognized “minor” is relative to some families. It may seem as though they are not minor. At that point, we did remove the word “minor.” Still, there are only two proposed changes.


From the minutes from the September 17 Ops Committee (bold mine):
- There was a suggestion about removing the use of the word “minor” referring to revisions, as this will be a significant change to some families.

September 18, three sentence item in School Beat links to This document, which states (bold mine):

Additionally, Seattle Public Schools is proposing minor revisions to the Student Assignment Plan to streamline and clarify questions that have been raised over the past several years.

September 25, email to all families (except mine?) in the district about the meetings:

Additionally, the district is proposing minor revisions to the Student Assignment Plan to streamline and clarify questions that have been raised over the past several years. Revisions include elimination of the distance tiebreaker and other conflicting statements.

October 1, same three sentence item in School Beat links to same document as the last one did with same wording.

They may have removed the word "minor" from some document posted on the website somewhere, but in their outreach to the community informing them of the meetings, they still represented these as "minor revisions."

GarfieldMom said...

Ky Stokes wrote... (bold mine)

On your point #3: The very first question I asked her was as follows:

—Reporter: [In the initial BAR], the initial word that was used was “minor.” I know this seems like a semantic issue, but which is it? Is this a minor change or is this not a minor change?

—Davies: There are just two changes. Initially, we used the word “minor” when we went to the Ops committee to propose these changes on Sept. 17. The committee recognized “minor” is relative to some families. It may seem as though they are not minor. At that point, we did remove the word “minor.” Still, there are only two proposed changes.


From the minutes from the September 17 Ops Committee:
- There was a suggestion about removing the use of the word “minor” referring to revisions, as this will be a significant change to some families.

September 18, three sentence item in School Beat links to This document, which states (bold mine):

Additionally, Seattle Public Schools is proposing minor revisions to the Student Assignment Plan to streamline and clarify questions that have been raised over the past several years.

September 25, email to all families (except mine?) in the district about the meetings:

Additionally, the district is proposing minor revisions to the Student Assignment Plan to streamline and clarify questions that have been raised over the past several years. Revisions include elimination of the distance tiebreaker and other conflicting statements.

October 1, same three sentence item in School Beat links to same document as the last one did with same wording.

They may have removed the word "minor" from some document posted on the website somewhere, but in their outreach to the community informing them of the meetings, they still represented these as "minor revisions."