Sunday, January 03, 2016

Seattle Schools This Week

This week sees the reopening of schools after the holiday break.

This week is a big work week for many who will be attending and closely watching what happens when the Legislature starts its short session on Jan. 11th.  

Updated: see Thursday for details.

Wednesday, Jan. 6th
School Board meeting, at JSCEE starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda


Highlights from Action Items:

CSIPs - Continuous School Improvement Plans.  What's interesting is that the BAR doesn't have a link to all the plans.  They could have done this in the interest of making it possible to look at the plans without going to every single school site to verify it go done AND to compare what is said at each school.  

All of our schools have current 2015-17 Continuous School Improvement Plans, or C-SIPs, on file at the schools, with their Executive Directors of Schools, and in the Grants office. All C-SIPs are also posted online on our district website. 

Now if you put in CSIP in the district's search feature, you can find some.  There is supposed to be a CSIP webpage but that link is broken.

But what about you own school's webpage?

I did a random check.  Arbor Heights - can't find it at their website.  Ditto Concord.  Ditto John Hay. Wing Luke.  Rainier View, Sand Point, View Ridge, Denny, Madison, Mercer, Ballard, Center, Hale and Roosevelt.

Ding, ding, ding - here's the only one that I easily found at Washington Middle School.   Good for them.

BEX IV - Olympic Hills rebuild.  
Some troubling items in here.  They didn't go over budget but are having to renegotiate a contract with the contractors.  Using their usual "we're not going to explain this in plain English" formula, it's a bit hard to know what they are exactly saying.  Basically, they appear to be rearranging the dollars in the budget.  Here's some statements that seem to contradict each other/are troubling:

- This proposed contract amendment will be funded within the current BEX IV project budget.
The Olympic Hills project budget is $45,222,668. This does not represent an increase to the Olympic Hills Elementary School project budget, nor the overall BEX IV Program. 
  
- On April 1, 2015, the Board authorized the Superintendent to increase the total project budget for Olympic Hills from $41,922,668 to $45,222,668.
So first, they DID increase the project's budget back in April by about $3M.  They just aren't doing it now.  Also "not an increase to the overall BEX IV program" well, of course not.  That would mean there was somehow new money added to BEX IV and that hasn't happened.  I don't understand what that statement means.
 
The Preliminary TCC that was established during early design in 2014 did not include various contingencies set aside within the project budget by the District to address several factors, including:

- Effects of high groundwater specific to this site
- New code impacts to design
- Actual and projected cost escalation vs. original budgets for escalation 
Capital wants us to believe that they had NO idea about "high groundwater" at the Olympic Hills site?  I find that hard to believe given how many school buildings in that area are affected by underground water issues (see Hale, for example.)
And what are these new code impacts?  Not explained.  Just take their word for it.
Further, the contract amendment approved by the School Board on April 2, 2015, authorized additional funding of $3,300,000 for added scope of work not known at the time the capital levy was approved that established the project budget. These added scope of work, included:
 
-Additional public street improvements
-Sustainability energy use intensity measures
- GC/CM early risk mitigation 
Again, the district is greatly expanding a school site and didn't consider public street improvements?  And what is "sustainability energy use intensity measures?"  
When comparing buildings, people not only talk about total energy demands, but also talk about "energy use intensity" (EUI).  Energy intensiveness is simply energy demand per unit area of the building's floorplan, usually in square meters or square feet. This allows you to compare the energy demand of buildings that are different sizes, so you can see which performs better - See more at: http://sustainabilityworkshop.autodesk.com/buildings/measuring-building-energy-use#sthash.6UVaQgVY.dpuf
When comparing buildings, people not only talk about total energy demands, but also talk about "energy use intensity" (EUI).  Energy intensiveness is simply energy demand per unit area of the building's floorplan, usually in square meters or square feet. This allows you to compare the energy demand of buildings that are different sizes, so you can see which performs better. 

I find this kind of BAR regarding capital projects unacceptable.  The public - the taxpayers - have a right to be able to read and understanding how and why money is being spent for capital projects.  

Intro Items
- two "self-help" projects where PTAs are paying for new playgrounds.  That would be at Broadview Thomson and Lawton and I certainly want to say thank you to the parents at those hardworking PTAs for this effort to better these schools.  

Broadview Thomson's project will be nearly $300K.  B-T apparently applied for multiple grants to find this money (which includes $9,000 from SPS' Self Help program plus grants from the City and County.  The PTA is raising about $65K itself.   To note about the SPS Self Help program:
Annually, approximately 450 projects are introduced, with 80% to 90% of the projects reaching fruition. Some projects take one day to complete while others might take four to six years or more from start to finish (planning, design and multiple phases of construction). The total annual value of all completed Self Help projects ranges between $1,000,000 to $2,000,000+, including: (a) donated cash and grants, (b) donated time, (c) donated professional services, and (d) donated materials. The majority of project costs are covered by the projects’ sponsors, with occasional small amounts of funding or materials from District sources.
Total ANNUAL value, $1-2M.  That's a lot of "getting it done" effort and funding from outside the district.

- Capacity Management for 2016-2017.  The district is taking funds from BTA III and BEX IV (about $2.5M) and $4M from OSPI "Class Size Reduction capital grant monies" for this effort.

I'll note that voters did not vote for this in BTA III and the district is certainly within its rights to use the money for issues/projects other than the ones voted on.  However, it would be useful - again, to taxpayers - to know what projects on the BTA III list are NOT getting done or being postponed because of this spending.  And, there are no attachments that show this.

One interesting note that the City should listen to in terms of their Pre-K program is this:

Conversion of 19 Child Care classrooms to 19 new homerooms

Thursday, Jan. 7th
Executive Committee Meeting from 4:30-6:00 pm.  Agenda not available.
Hugely important meeting because of what OSPI is trying to force school districts, including SPS, to do.  Namely, sign on to be ALE providers for charter school students.  I was not aware of this issue but, thanks to Dora Taylor and her great reporting at Seattle Education 2010, this has come to the surface.  Here's a link to her report which is a good overview of what seems to be happening (and yet I, too, have more to add. I plan on putting it together for a separate charter school thread.)

Community Meeting with legislative reps from the 46th district.  Nathan Hale High School from 6:30-8:00 pm.  Includes Rep. Jesslyn Farrell, Rep. Gerry Pollet and Senator David Frockt. 

Saturday, Jan. 9th
Community meeting with Director Peters at the Queen Anne Library from 11 am to 1 pm.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Melissa, when is the EEU situation going to be on the school board agenda? What is the timeline for that? Thank you.

Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, I had been wondering that as well. I have heard nothing and I wonder if the Board is pushing back or if the process is moving slowly.

Lynn said...

Here's a link to a December Friday Memo that discusses the EEU kindergarten program.

The CSIP Webpage is working for me now.

Eric B said...

The way I read the Olympic Hills item, the initial contract with the general contractor basically told the contractor not to worry about bidding costs for groundwater, code changes, and cost escalation. SPS held contingency money for those items instead. The way I read the change, this contract change is basically transferring money from that contingency fund to the contractor now that the design documents are complete and everyone knows what those costs are.

If this is what is going on, then it makes a lot of sense. It is extremely expensive when you make a contractor bid on something that they don't know, and typically leads to change orders and lawsuits later. You can't fairly ask someone to tell you how much something costs when they don't know what it is. They'll throw a high number at it, then come back for change orders if that high number doesn't cover their costs. Even worse, that will be a way for the contractor to cover cost overruns elsewhere in the project ("we only bid this much for groundwater, and it ended up costing WAAAAYY more, coincidentally just as much as we lost on the roofing job").

I suspect something similar happened with the street improvements, but I don't know why they wouldn't have had a contingency fund for that rather than having to go back to the Board for more money.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And Eric, look at how easily you explained it. Why can't staff?

Lynn, I'm not surprised the page works...now.

Anonymous said...

Jeez. Did anybody read that Friday "memo" about the EEU? It is clearly written by an illiterate. And, is fraught with errors, and downright lies. Somebody actually wrote this line:

"The kindergarten program at the EEU serves 20 students districtwide and is not accessible to all students. Kindergarten services are provided within a blended model of services, providing challenges in determine the specific Specially Designed Instruction provided to students."

Huh? Kindergarten "services" are provided "within" a blended model of services. ??? That makes no sense. Special ed services are provided in a kindergarten. THen it goes on to say that somehow those "kindergarten services" are "providing challenges in determine the specific Specially Designed instruction provided to students." Huh???? Given the basic lack of literacy in the author - presumably Tolley, what really is this saying? (of is he just trying to practice writing "service", "provide", "supplanting" - a lot of times?

He appears to be complaining that 1. there's an inclusion model (we all know the district hates inclusion) and 2. and that the district didn't pay for the BEA (general ed) services too.

Well... big duh!!! If the district had ever cared about this - then it would have provided the BEA (general ed) funds to the EEU too. Did it do that? Noooo! That was a matter the contract negotiations brought up - but the district didn't want to fork over the BEA for all the students the EEU serves. Now, it is complaining about that same thing.

Does the district care at all that BHS "supplants" the general education funds of special education students when it uses special ed funds to pay for teachers who teach general ed students? No. In those cases the district is happy as a clam to permit supplantation of funds. Why the problem with the EEU - who has loads of other funding sources (like, uh, the University) to cover general ed students AND the general ed funding of students with disabilities.

-reader 2

Anonymous said...

That comment caught my attention too: "providing challenges in determine the specific Specially Designed instruction provided to students." It appears to be stating that SDI is impossible in the context of General Education. That means we shouldn't have the ACCESS program, right? Where kids with intensive needs receive push in services in General Educatoin? So this person is re-writing IDEA? Now nobody can receive SDI push in in a General Ed classroom. Hello? Is this the best that Seattle Public Schools can do? Whoever wrote this does not know what he or she is doing and I think that it is outrageous that taxpayers cannot expect and receive better or even minimal coherence on these matters. It's just astonishing. Who will school the school board to overcome the ignorance that is driving this?

reader

Charlie Mas said...

The CSIPs are still dreadful when it comes to advanced learning, especially the middle schools. Just take a look at the Focus Area: Advanced Learning Opportunity for Hamilton (page 21) - it's blank - even after saying that 65% of the school's students are advanced learners.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Michael Tolley just doesn't care about the CSIPs. And, until he gets this called to his attention in a more accountable manner, he will continue to not care.

Anonymous said...

OMG. re: EEU business. Here is the link to the Friday Memo:

http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/Friday%20Memos/2015-16/December%2018/20151218_FridayMemo_TeachingUpdate.pdf

Unbelievable and rambling. Embarrassing, really. Who wrote this: the early childhood supervisor? Who approved it? It talks about kindergarten and then manages to throw in "extended day" services, which, btw, are preschool, NOT kindergarten and then mentions the special education preschool at the EEU (which they should not get started on, as the EEU preschool actually IS a blended program and NOT ONE of the SPS preschools out in the schools- not one -is blended or inclusive, BUT THAT'S ANOTHER TOPIC.)

It looks like they are defensive and now, hedging. Problem is, that it is just about transition planning time for families. Ready or not. Again.

You should read it. And if you can't make sense of it, you are not alone.

Casey

Lynn said...

This weekend I noticed something else missing from the CSIPs - homework policies. Board Policy 2422 says Schools shall have individual school-based homework policies that are communicated to students and families and posted in a visible location. School policies should include the school’s policy on grading late work and on expectations for how much time families should expect a student to spend on homework.

To ensure consistency across schools, school-based homework policies will be reviewed each fall as part of the school’s Continuous School Improvement Plan (C-SIP)
.

I didn't realize homework policies were meant to be consistent across schools. It would make sense to me. Either homework is beneficial for students or it is not. Our elementary school has a no homework policy. Does every elementary school in the district?

Anonymous said...

Lynn wrote about SPS Board Policy 2242, homework policy.

I might be reading it wrong, but I think the "consistent" applies to every school must have a homework policy and it needs to be part of CSIP. "individual school-based homework policy" means that the actual homework policy can be different for each school.

Does your school have the no homework policy in its CSIP?

LisaG

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, the CSIP for Hamilton, linked above, cites "study skills" as an area of improvement for AL students. How does one develop good study skills? Homework comes to mind. If the school is anti-homework, students are not going to cover the course content in any depth, nor are they going to develop the time management and study skills needed for high school.

There needs to be some balance. Saying kids are stressed, and then going to the extreme of a "no homework" policy can limit learning opportunities. A moderate amount of homework gives students some level of responsibility over their learning. Schools used to go by the general guideline of 10 min of homework a night for each grade level, so a 6th grader could expect around an hour of homework a night.

-balance please

Lynn said...

LisaG,

I see what you mean and agree that it's saying each school should have a consistent policy. I do think the policy should be consistent across schools. Homework should only be assigned when there is evidence to support the benefits it provides - and either every school should assigns homework so that every student has the opportunity to receive that benefit or (if the benefits do not outweigh the costs to students and families) no school should assign it.

Our school's CSIP does not mention homework.

Anonymous said...

Casey and readers........

Can anyone clarify (EEU/SpEd):

"Per the School Board student assignment policy, students have the right to be included in their attendance area and the EEU is not a Seattle Public School site and therefore has no attendance area."

*** Huh? is anyone forced to attend K at the EEU? Is this something new?

and "The EEU chose to place students who received resource or transitional kindergarten services.
The EEU was not a placement that the district would have made for these students as they did not provide Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). "

**** Since when does the EEU "place students"? Gee, I thought the district places students. Wow.

And I agree, why are they mentioning preschool in the same memo? Nuts.

Curious

Anonymous said...

On the EEU situation, it does not make sense for the district to break its relationship with a premier university sitting in its own back yard. The teacher training opportunities, the inclusion research, the modeling of parent involvement ... The challenge has always been getting Seattle to try and learn from the program and replicate it in larger, better ways. The EEU model directly informed the blended kindergarten programs that Seattle used to have. This district squeezes the life out of the EEU and underpay/undersupport the program and its benefits and then make up excuses to cancel it.

Sighing

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Capacity Management agenda item. They are asking Board approval for plans to add a total of 65 or 66 new homerooms (for addressing growth, and for K-3 class size reductions). Strangely, there is no list (not even a preliminary list) of proposed classroom additions attached to the BAR, as there has been in years past.

It sounds like they have got it pretty well nailed down, because of the detailed accounting of how they will add the new homerooms, but they do not give specifics as far as where the portables and re-purposed classrooms will be located.

From the BAR....

"Recommended actions include:
- Re-purposing of existing support and vacant homeroom spaces for 20 new homerooms;
- Use of available space at new BEX IV facilities for 4 new homerooms;
- Conversion of 19 Child Care classrooms to 19 new homerooms;
- Placement of 22 classrooms in portables (14 classrooms in new portables and 8 classrooms
in reused portables) for 22 new homerooms; and
- Permanent construction to deliver one (1) new homeroom

...The specific total quantity, site locations and grade levels for the new homerooms will be
validated based on data outcomes associated with Open Enrollment. Approval of this item will
allow work to begin on 2016-17 Annual Capacity Management actions, bringing all new
homerooms online and available for occupancy by August 15, 2016."

So, it looks like several schools will lose before/after school childcare spaces, and there will be a loss of support space at some buildings, which really impacts how well schools function. I missed watching the last School Board meeting...were any specifics discussed then?

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Dpes anyone have a link to what the state auditor actually said about the EEU program? Since the report from SPS seems to merge their own opinions with the concerns of the auditor, I find it difficult to figure out what the issues are that the auditor is concerned about.

It is true that technically the kindergarten model there is not truly inclusion, and is considered either a blended model or a more restrictive setting than inclusion. It is also off-site, which may be counted as more restrictive depending on who is doing the counting. Typically the federal government includes all non ged ed settings that are 100% non-gen ed the same. So a self-contained model program in a SPS school building where they were including recess and lunch as a gen ed setting would count as a less restrictive setting. The whole least restrictive environment thing is truly screwed up in SPS, as they count classes where the entire self contained class takes gym class by itself as gen ed and ditto art. spanish, etc, gen ed as long as it is taught by a non sped teacher as gen ed. So a kid who spends his entire day with the same 7 other kids in an EBD program all day long, and who takes a short bus to school with other EBD kids, has to eat his lunch at the same table with them and play with them at recess and go to their own bathroom and use their own water fountain is considered to be 40% in gen ed even though he shares no physical space with a gen ed kid all day long is in a less restrictive setting than the kids at the EEU. It's pure segregation. All they need to do is label the buses, water fountains and lunch tables with "EBD leper kids only".
--GL

Anonymous said...

The EEU typically selects which kids from the preschool classrooms will stay for kindergarten. That is where there has been friction in the past- EEU making the decisions not SPS.

-SWWS

Anonymous said...

SWWS -

In that case SPS has been lying to families because they are told that they apply for Kindergarten, like all other families, during Open Enrollment, and there is a lottery system. Yes, the EEU requests to balance the severity of the students disabilities, so they may be grouped by the intensity of the services that they will need. Then Lottery. At least half of the K students each year are from outside of the EEU preschools. NOT handpicked by the EEU, in spite of rumors to the contrary.

Casey

Anonymous said...

Everything about the EEU kindergarten that is supposedly a "problem" for the district.... is an even bigger problem in the EEU preschool. Why isn't the district cancelling the EEU preschool? Why doesn't the district assign all of the EEU preschoolers to the brand spanking new city full-day preschool with full special ed services? Why keep the EEU preschool (which is woefully outdated with a ridiculously shortened day)... but cancel the superior kindergarten? (Hint: if there was a shred of veracity to the district's claims about the EEU K "problems".... it would FIRST be cancelling the EEU preschool which has all the same problems/features as the EEU K).

1. EEU preschool has limited enrollment too (as does every alt school). Boo-hoo-hoo, not every body can go to EEU preschool (or K), or TOPS, or Salmon Bay, or Pathfinder, or ... Are we going to cancel all those along with the EEU preschool (they all have the same "inequity" as EEU K)

2. EEU preschool also supplants funds - general education preschoolers are mooching off of special ed dollars, same as in the K. Just like BHS AP students get reduced class sizes because special ed dollars fund general ed math and social studies general ed students. No problem there, it's the same issue raised with the EEU K. Let's also cancel EEU preschool, and BHS.

3. EEU preschool uses the exact same "enrollment" as does the K. EEU ENROLLMENT is 100% done by the DISTRICT!!!!! Not the UW. EEU kindergarteners often matriculate from the preschool.... because, duh!!!!, parents would be super pissed off if their kids couldn't continue at EEU..... just like all parents everywhere. Even special ed administrators know enough - don't piss off all the parents all the time, or you might lose a lawsuit. We special ed parents expect to continue to the next grade in the same school. Only in special ed in SPS is the basic right of continuing on to the grade level considered a luxury.

4. Autism favoritism. The EEU preschool has the Autism focus, and the Autism extended day. NOT THE KINDERGARTEN. EEU K has no special focus, and no special services for ANYONE. Yet, the district lies about this to whip up resentment using the district's favorite line: "Autism favoritism", and erroneously (and dishonestly) applying that to the EEU K. Why not cancel the EEU preschool then? (silence deafening)

5. LRE. The DISTRICT funds and assigns students. It does NOT fund nor assign resource room students to EEU. The district does not even HAVE A TRANSITIONAL K, which was a fully self-contained model.
So, the claim about EEU being "too restrictive" is a big pack of lies (and something that has not every once bothered the district. 1, the claim about LRE is untrue because the district controlled enrollment, 2 the claim about LRE is untrue because the DISTRICT never assigned resource students to EEU, 3, the claim about LRE is untrue because there IS NO SUCH PROGRAM: "transitional" K and 4, the claim about LRE is untrue because "transitional" Ks were 100% self-contained when the did exist. EEU K is blended and contains about 50% non-disabled students. Does all that sound like a pack of lies? It is.

And finally about LRE: EEU preschoolers are also not in their neighborhood LRE. That would be the city preschool. Again, why is it OK for the EEU preschoolers to be outside an LRE - but not the K.

So folks, there you have it. A pack of lies. And, a pack of lies about lies. None of the reasons given make sense, or are even true, even when you read through all of the illiteracy. Beth Campbell the district administrator for early learning is clueless, and illiterate, as is Michael Tolley. No telling which of those wrote the "memo". The district hates inclusion so much - it can't even say the word. It has to make up a new word - ACCESS - to underscore it's hatred of inclusion and people with disabilities.

reader 2

Anonymous said...

When my kid (who is resource level) was in developmental preschool in SPS, there was exactly ONE typical peer in the entire class. When I brought up LRE, my concerns were dismissed. Legally, there are the same LRE requirements for preschool as in K-12. I hope the districts new concern about LRE means they are going to provide full special education services in a general education environment to preschool students whose LRE is gen ed (and that would be MOST students with disabilities). They don't actually get to phase something that IDEA has required for over a decade, so I am assuming they are starting now?

I agree with reader 2 that the EEU section of that memo is a pack of lies.

Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader 2, please do not use phrasing like this about students:

"general education preschoolers are mooching off of special ed dollars, same as in the K. Just like BHS AP students get reduced class sizes because special ed dollars fund general ed math and social studies general ed students."

You can criticize administration's actions all you want but the blog does not want children pulled into an adult fight. It's unseemly.

I totally agree with your linear thinking in your first paragraph. What is happening does not make sense.

Anonymous said...

Reader2; correction Beth Campbell left the district a few years ago. Now the early childhood SPECIAL EDUCATION supervisor is another Beth:

Beth CARTER. Sounds like her illogic, lack of leadership.

Agreed as well about the preschools. N.B. The EEU preschool is blended/inclusive. Like Parent says, ALL SPS special ed preschools are SEGREGATED. Hmm. (can't believe that inequity still seems to fly under the radar)

Curious

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

Apparently I was not clear.

The blog does not support name-calling, whether sarcastic or not. You called Ms. Carter a name and that's why your comment was deleted.

Call out people's job performance or lack thereof but do not call people names.

Anonymous said...

Re the EEU and the sorry excuses for explanations that SPS has been putting around, I just think it would be best if the auditor's report were presented in public so that people can see for themselves whether, indeed, it is the auditor who doesn't understand IDEA or whether the difficulty is with whoever is trying to spin another agenda. I feel the district really lacks for convincing leadership all the way around.

Metro

Lynn said...

The agreement to accept funding for ORCA cards for children qualifying for free and reduced meals has been added to the agenda for Wednesday's board meeting.

Ms206 said...

I work in Pennsylvania, but the IDEIA is a federal law, obviously. Based on my knowledge as a special education teacher, the SDI for an entire SDI or for a specific goal can apply in the most appropriate setting(s), including regular education. I teach students who have autism. One of my students who goes to a regular ed class for inclusion For literacy has a wood rifton chair to provide better support; the OT recommended it but the chair is not medically necessary. This chair is one of the student's general SDI. In the IEP the setting where the student is to be given this chair is the special ed classroom. I specifically avoided saying "across all environments" when I wrote the IEP because this would mean that the student would have to carry this very expensive chair between classrooms. This was not feasible. The parent understands this and knows that the rifton chair stays in my classroom. However the student has a wobble cushion and a pencil grip that he is welcome to take to any location in the building, so I put "across all environments" for the cushion.

Special education is a service, not a place! I hope what I have said is helpful.

Anonymous said...

Many apologies to "Beth Campbell" - Beth Carter is the ignorant, and bungling administrator. If you mistype something - it's still going to be the name of a special education administrator. Yes, there are that many.

Beth Carter last year tried to put all the new sped programs in AS1 - even as it was being closed, and relocated, and even though the plans were to cancel those very same programs after relocating them. She did not care one bit about sped students. She did not know that we sped parents are onto that little charade. All she could say was - "Well, there just isn't any place in the district for special ed. You people should be happy in your 35% special ed school. At least they want you there." Barf!!!!!

reader 2

Anonymous said...

BTW, GL. The EEU model is typically referred to as a "reverse inclusion" model. More restrictive than some models, less than others. And the district often uses "reverse inclusion". Usually it's done badly. Like everything else, it's HOW you do it that's important, not what you call it.

reader 2

Anonymous said...

Parent - but sps is not legally required to provide preschool services to gen ed kids - so how would they fund services to those kids in your child's developmental preschool? I get the need for LRE once you get into k-12 but their is no gen ed preschool provided by sps for your child to access. Am I missing something?

2boysclub

Anonymous said...

2boysclub - The district is not obligated to provide a preschool, but indeed it IS now providing a preschool to gen ed kids. As such, it has and set the standard for what a preschool should be. The district now needs to include students with disabilities in its regular preschool inclusively.

What has the district done instead? The lucky preschoolers with disabilities - get to attend EEU for a tiny fraction of the day, and it is a tiny fraction of the offering for typical kids. (Of course, the staff is sure to much better at EEU, and with better administration, oversight, and accountability.) For the unlucky preschoolers with disabilities (those whose families don't know about EEU), the district has relocated the federally required "special ed" preschools to the outer bounds of the district at Old Van Asselt to make room for the city/district preschools - in inferior settings - along with re-entry and transition program for adults - creating a giant sped ghetto on the outskirts of town. For some reason - there's no concern about equity here. Typically developing preschoolers get 30 or 40 hours of service a week - special ed students get 10. Typically developing preschoolers receive service in convenient neighborhood schools, with full featured playgrounds, and buildings - students with disabilities get sent to a dump in the south end that is uninhabitable by anyone else. Basically, it is a warehouse. Typically developing preschoolers get to matriculate into the elementary school where they attend preschool, students with disabilities get to make their first transition by the age of 4, and they are likely to make transition after transition as they age into SPS.

The provision of a luxury preschool for gen ed kids highlights the inequity, inadequacy, and segregation faced by students with disabilities - all at the age of 3. How about a little "closing the gap" for students with disabilities (who btw are disproportionately minority)?

reader 2

Anonymous said...

2boysclub - well, of course reader 2 is right.

And, yes, you ARE missing something. If a student needs special education in preschool and that student's LRE is general education, the district doesn't get to say too bad -- we only have special education preschool with no typically developing peers. If it does not have any other preschool, it then has to figure out a different way to educate the student in that student's LRE. One way to do this is for a district to pay for a student to be enrolled in a private program (or another public program run by, for example, the city) and then provide special education services there. Another way would be to enroll typical peers as well in the preschools already run by the district.

Some districts (Northshore, Bellevue, not sure about Lake Washington) charge typically developing students to enroll in the special education preschools as peers. I don't think they have trouble finding students to enroll. Often they are siblings or children of educators. Of course, having a few typically developing peers doesn't turn the preschool into a general education environment, but it is at least an attempt at inclusion. Maybe Seattle is doing this now as well -- I don't know.

Parent

Anonymous said...

Thanks, reader2 and parent, Well said.

The district gives lip-service to the fact that "typically developing peers MAY be enrolled" in the sped preschool classes. It is a token at best and meaningless as far as creating an inclusive environment for learning. Where there's a will, there's a way. In theory, anyway. So many missed opportunities in our district.

Casey