Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Tuesday Open Thread

Donald Trump on Common Core.  I still think he's a narcissist and worse.  It's Super Tuesday and should be a tense night as we see how this presidential election shakes out.

Great response from blogger Peter Greene on the National PTA's stance on standardized testing.
In what universe can we expect to find sad, unemployed men and women sitting in their van down by the river saying ruefully, "If only I had taken that big standardized test in school. Then my life would have turned out differently."
The number of schools punished for low participation rates is zero, which is roughly the same number as the number of politicians willing to tell parents that their school is going to lose funding because they exercised their legal rights.
Did the PTA cave because they get a boatload of money from Bill Gates? Who knows. But what is clear is that when Sevier writes "National PTA strongly advocates for and continues to support increased inclusion of the parent voice in educational decision making at all levels," what she means is that parents should play nice, follow the government's rules, and count on policy makers to Do The Right Thing.
School shooting in Cincinnati yesterday at a middle/high school when an 8th grader stood up and starting shooting (luckily no one was killed).  It was the 10th school shooting in 2016.

Yesterday was the last day of Black History Month but I just saw this piece on 60 Minutes about the  National Museum of African American History and Culture which will be opened this September by President Obama.  It's a wonderful segment with many moving artifacts shown.  Share this with your kids.
Lonnie Bunch: I don't think America is ever ready to have the conversation around race based on what we see around the landscape, whether it's Ferguson or other places, that people are really ready to shine the light on all the dark corners of the American experience. But I hope this museum will help in a small way to do that.
Scott Pelley: This is not the American Museum of Slavery?
Lonnie Bunch: This is not the Museum of Tragedy. It is not the Museum of Difficult Moments. It is the museum that says, "Here is a balanced history of America that allows us to cry and smile."
 What's on your mind?

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Under the direction of Supt. Enfield, Aviation HS has changed admission from interview and essay, to lottery only. I know a local family who is impacted by this change.

To me it would be like Julliard doing admission by lottery only. But why? Ease of administration, centralizing power? Or, was the excellence of Aviation HS making the other high schools in Highline look bad in comparison. It seems like a deliberate move to dilute the talent at the school. But again, why?

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Juilliard not Julliard.

-StepJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

Step J, I reported on this previously. What I was told is that it was to make it "fair." I also noted that fewer students in Seattle School district's region would be likely to get in (I think there is a quota for different districts) which could impact our high school situation.

Anonymous said...

I was told that SPS only has 20 seats at Aviation HS. I don't get how is it "fair" to a student to dilute the rigor of a magnet program.

-StepJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh, I agree. Maybe I'll get the chance at some point to figure out the thinking.

Ebenezer said...

The U.S. Department of Education's Inspector General released a damning report today on the Department's misleading report on student loan fraud:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/education-department-misled-public-on-student-loan-contractors-probe_us_56d5d2a7e4b0bf0dab337e33

Anonymous said...

The Aviation situation isn't difficult to explain. Turns out that it was becoming a Seattle school with the majority of the population rising to the top of the essay, transcript, interview process coming from Seattle not Highline. Highline students resigned to not getting in or not being marketed to, depending on whose view of the situation one believes, began to dwindle in percentage of students who even attempted to get in.

Aviation staff is very unhappy about the change. Very. Because the students that will now go to the school will not necessarily be committed to its philosophy of teaching all classes through an aviation focus or be ready to meet its standards. They believe the mission and quality of education will be diluted. They are extremely angry with Enfield. They are not wrong. A sizeable group of Highline parents are overjoyed that the Seattle snobs - yes that is how Seattle families are viewed by this group - will no longer have the opportunity to fill the majority of the school. They believe they have the largest claim on the best high school in their district. They are extremely pleased with Enfield. They are not wrong.

Want to know who is the wrongest of wrong in this situation? JSCEE. What a non-surprise. Most readers probably do not know that Aviation High School wanted to be sited in Seattle and be a part of SPS. Our stupid administration at the time refused. Categorically refused. Couldn't be bothered. Didn't want the hassle of a different school model. Sound familiar? Same argument that the bottom liners and one-size-fits-allers have against Seattle's option schools and K8s that they have tried repeatedly to close. Anyhow, that is why it sits on Seattle property but belongs to Highline.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

On another topic, can someone explain the "Academic History Report" sent home to high school parents?

- What is the difference between "Official Cum GPA" and "Official Core GPA?"
- Why do the "Cum credits" not match the number of classes taken (10 cumulative credits for 12 classes taken)?
- How is class rank calculated?

HSparent

Anonymous said...

Just saw on Soup for Teachers that Rainier Beach does not have a working copier or printer. What the heck? And they have been in this situation for awhile. This is just plain wrong.

HP

Patrick said...

How strange. Seems like it should be obvious that Aviation High could admit fewer Seattle Schools students while still keeping some sort of application process.

Watching said...

Randy Dorn will not be seeking re-election and several candidates will run for his seat.

I've been thinking that it is important to get a good candidate into this position. Dorn was responsible for signing Washington State onto Common Core, and he was responsible for subverting the Supreme Court's decision regarding charter schools.

I have also noted that Gates has provided $15 MILLION (!!) to the Council of Chief State School Officer. I can only imagine this is for some kind of public private partnership deal that will provide a private entity with funding.

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2016/01/OPP1131456

Outsider said...

Interesting article re: common core and graduation requirements:

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2016/03/algebra_ii_has_to_go.html

Melissa Westbrook said...

HS Parent, I can answer a couple of those. Core versus Cumulative is core classes (like LA, Math, science) versus electives. Your cumulative credits versus number of classes may be about the number of credits assigned to each class. As for class rank, I don't know now how they do it. Anyone?

Anonymous said...

RE: Aviation, it's simple: People don't like it when smart students have more options.

Grateful Dad

Anonymous said...

Some interesting notes on enrollment projections, class sizes, and the HCC breach in the most recent friday memo:

http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/Friday%20Memos/2015-16/February%2019/20160216_Friday_Memo.pdf


- MemoReader

Anonymous said...

I would disagree with Grateful Dad that these are options set aside for "smart kids". Speaking from experience with APP/HCC (another commonly vilified elitist academic option under constant attack from the district) these kids are working hard. I've seen lots of smart kids all over the district, but I have never seen kids work as hard as my kid's HCC friends.

I think it is a bad precedent for the district to eliminate incentives to excel academically. Worse than bad, its ironic....

-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

Really? It's "eliminating" an option - to make Aviation High available to more students? Why SHOULD smart kids (or those who have good "application"), or those who have already achieved... get more options than others? Is it supposed to be some sort of reward? Why SHOULD students who have much home advantages - get even more advantages? One way to equalize opportunity.... is to make it available by lottery. Everyone who wants to attend has an equal chance to do so.

Isn't handpicking your student body... kinda the big complaint against charters?

Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Magnet schools - for whatever the talent - are different than regular schools. That's the point.

Anonymous said...

The last time Seattle opened a new magnet program and supported it was when? (I am not counting the extension of IB, which was already established and in any case is not supported via central district funds the way it should be.) It's been a decade, right?

Personally I am very sad that the district can't be bothered at minimum to bring "interest" programs (magnets in other districts) to our city where the populace begs for it. Magnets or what we call option schools are a great tool for racial desegregation and socio-economic heterogeneity.

At minimum we should have both a performing arts and hands-on STEM school for 6-12 students. Yes, I believe they should be by application, but not with proof of interest and commitment, not necessarily grades, as the top qualifier. Cleveland's attempt as a STEM draw was interesting but poorly planned and delivered. Band at Garfield and Roosevelt, funded by parents, is not the same as a performing arts school in which our growing visual arts and performing arts students would be supported with flexible schedules and an emphasis on a curriculum that didn't focus on sitting in a seat with textbooks.

Secondly, we should continue our language immersion programs 6-12. True international language schools. Hamilton most certainly does not count.

This is the sort of central big picture planning I'd like to see from staff, with a promise to get these programs off the ground in the next decade as new buildings come online and enrollment patterns have to shift anyway. This would also force a rethink of the Spectrum and HCC delivery methods and program placement, which is past-due on a refresh and a cogent plan anyhow.

EdVoter

Melissa Westbrook said...

EdVoter, I agree with what you say; the district loves to open new things but the planning and follow-thru is usually poorly done.

Very good comments.

Anonymous said...

I expect to see private support (funding, volunteers) decrease dramatically at Aviation over the next few years. The principal is leaving at the end of the year.

Support Mediocrity

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's more from a source in Highline:
RAHS resides in the Tukwila school district. As part of the agreement to keep RAHS in the school district, they are supposed to have 50% + 1 come from Highline. Then 20% from Seattle, then the rest from outside districts.

From some public disclosure info, it was found that only 25% of the students were coming from Highline. And, Highline has a high number of F/RL and kids of color so obviously the students coming from Highline may not have represented Highline.

This person's concern is that Highline students may not be getting the rigor they need for the work that is given at this magnet school.

Anonymous said...

The threat to take your money and run has been a consistent response for years on this blog. It can always be counted on whenever anyone brings up sharing PTA dollars, for example. Using this response avoids dealing with any intellectual or ethical merits of the issue, and instead play on fears.

AP and IB use performance and interest to determine and maintain rigor. The emphasis on testing into a program, rather than having to demonstrate achievement and excellence to stay in the placement, is a much weaker approach for maintaining rigor. That is why HCC parents complain so much about the program--there is no performance piece once they test in. It also highly favors home preparation over student potential, which some people mistakenly define as "smart".

Rainier Beach has already redefined "smart" for many people in this area. Maybe those concerned posters can visit RB and discuss your definition of smart with the community and see their IB program in action. This will likely allay your fears.

--about time

Anonymous said...

About Raisbeck Aviation High School: my son is a student there. We were delighted to leave SPS for it, and have had a wonderful experience. The new lottery system was a shock to students and families, and as some have mentioned, the staff. Morale is low, and the principal just resigned. The reason for the change was a few lawsuits and questions of diversity and proportionate representation from Highline. According to the teachers and the parent meeting, there was trouble filling all the Highline allotted spots with qualified students. And here's what I loved about the school: qualification wasn't based on scores or grades, like a private school or APP which we left. The sole requirement, proved through written essays and an in person interview, was a passion for aerospace or aviation, which is how a magnet school should work. My son wrote and talked about his passion for space and desire to work on a Mars mission. Not enough kids from Highline were even applying, so spots were filled from Seattle and many other districts. No one cared until the new school opened - it was fine when they were in a totally awful vacant temporary site. But the new shiny building opened, and Highline is having the same issues SPS is: overcrowded, decrepit schools. Suddenly RAHS would be a great option, whether or not your kid likes aerospace. And diversity was an issue. Sadly, instead of changing admission requirements or listening to family input on how to do better attracting students of color, Enfield went with the scorched earth option and blew the whole thing up. There are many options between selective admission and a straight lottery: she chose to ignore all, and just repeated, "Everyone has the right to a decent education." So true. Yet so self serving. Instead of lifting the other schools up, she pulled down one that worked. Most families are disheartened: there are no sports at RAHS, just teams like Robotics and Science Olympiad that take enormous time commitments, and they are not going to be filled by incoming students who are merely fleeing an overcrowded school. Funding and internships from aerospace companies like Boeing and Alaska, which support those teams, will likely lag, as they were looking to support future engineers and aerospace workers, which seems less likely with kids who aren't plane/rocket nerds. A shame. We saw firsthand how great a public magnet school can be - the teachers are so dedicated, and everyone has this common passion. We're glad our son will get out under the "old regime" and hope that SPS or other districts look to create more public magnet schools. They are really great for those kids who really know they want to focus on STEM, the arts, etc. Seems we must race to the bottom so that everyone is equally ill served.
-Rare Commenter

Anonymous said...

Glad that it has been a great experience for you, Rare Commentator.

Obviously, Highline will need to work harder to ensure that their district's students know how to pursue application to the program (nothing like lawsuits to get a district's attention). Prior to the IB program at RB, many people falsely assumed there wasn't enough "interest". The fact is that parents without knowledge of the system often are unaware of the opportunities available to their children or how to navigate the pursuit. With so many first generation immigrants and refugees in Highline, they will need to focus on outreach. A lottery assumes there will be more applicants than spots.

Sounds like it's been an amazing opportunity. It's great that so many more students from within Highline will now be able to take advantage of their own district's program. Public magnet schools have long been one of the best ways to create quality, rigor and diversity. Maybe you can now put your energies into getting SPS to work on opening some of these.

Woody Allen said that "80% of success is just showing up." Too many students haven't been informed about where the door of the building is even located, much less about what's inside.

Making sure more students attend from within the district for which the program is meant to serve is certainly not a definition of "race to the bottom". Sometimes losing a privileged position feels like that.

--about time

Anonymous said...

@ about time, isn't the program meant to serve students who are interested in aerospace or aviation, and who are academically prepared for the challenging work?

EE

Anonymous said...

Wow About Time. Why so bitter? Do you have firsthand knowledge of this? Or are you just making assumptions? Are you talking about RB or RAHS? And you are making lots of assumptions oabout people privilege. Thanks EE for adding a thoughtful comment.
Rare Commenter.

Anonymous said...

EDUCATION .... Trump says USA is #30 and Norway and Sweden are near the top.

What list is Donald using? Sounds like an advertisement for some kind of tutoring service.

Data is not from PISA or TIMSS.

I like the local part.... but The Donald pulls data from thin air far too often.

What a bleak election season ... other than feeling the Bern, not much of merit.

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would ask that commenters not make assumptions about people's race, background or position. I am increasingly finding that this is happening and I wonder if it stifles the discussion. I have had one guy on Twitter (from another state) repeatedly challenging me on my income status, my home and my race. All this without knowing anything about me.

I certainly would admit that I believe most of our readers to be white and yes, with that comes privilege. But there is no way for anyone to know who anyone is for certain on this blog and you may not know this when you challenge someone's statement by inserting privilege.

Certainly speak broadly if you like but if you are directly answering a question from someone, I would suggest not just throwing that out there.

Anonymous said...

The "you're so bitter" or "you're a hater" response to people who call out inequities is similar to "I'm going to take my money and run." It certainly does not address the issues that were raised. We are getting a lot of this response during our current campaign cycle.

Obviously, the (legal) heat was turned up enough on Susan Enfield so that it forced her to have to address a long overdue violation(s). BTW, the program will not be a default placement, EE. Students/families will have to choose to be in the lottery.

Sadly, it's also a cautionary tale. Being reactive is usually undesirable. Had the students in Highline been represented in the program fairly from the beginning, a better application criteria would already be in place.

--about time

Lynn said...

Had the students in the Highline School District been well prepared for the rigor of work at Aviation, they would have been represented in higher numbers. That is how fairness works.

It is not parents who will pull their time and money from the school, it is local businesses. They're not involved with the school because they want to help the underprivileged. They want to support the development of future STEM professionals. Without the mentoring and internships and without a well-prepared group of students who share a passion for aerospace, the school will have no purpose.

Anonymous said...

Lynn,

Take that argument to Rainier Beach and see what they say about it. They
heard the exact same "your students" aren't "well-prepared" (code for certain types of students) and are "not up to the rigor" naysayers when they were attempting to start an IB program. Outreach is the key. Schedule a meeting
with Rita Green if you question that. She'll clue you in on how it works.

Laws are laws. Fairness is fairness. Excellence is nurtured and all students
are capable of it.

The school's purpose won't change, but thankfully more students who attend
will come from the district where the school is located (i.e. whom the school
is supposed to be serving).

--about time

Anonymous said...

RAHS is a magnet school devoted to aviation sciences. There are ways to dedicate attendance per percentage per school district, such as 50% Highline, 30% Tukwila, and 20% SPS. However, if these percentage attendees are determined solely by lottery then the passion and focus of the school will be lost.

If your parent applies and gains a spot for you purely on lottery – and you the student don’t really want to attend – well, at the High School level that is a sink and fail.

There is the ability to set the percentages of attendance per District at the outset, and then let the students express their passion for attendance to determine the best applicants among these percentages.

A magnet school of any genre is incredibly demanding, as in requiring full devotion and mastery of the subject. For a student, that is definitely a study commitment beyond the urging of a parent. Application and acceptance purely by lottery can indicate the passion of the parent. However, only the addition of an interview or other expressions by the student can express their actual passion for the subject.
Without passion from the student, a magnet school will falter and fail. With falter and fail the sponsors of said school will recognize failure and step away. I believe that is what the families and faculty of RAHS are trying to express in their opposition to the lottery only selection system. Highline cannot keep this school open without support of corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsors will not continue to sponsor if the kids attending the school are really not fully invested in aviation science.

For a Magnet School at the High School level, the student really determines their own success. As a parent I can urge, punish, prompt or use whatever means to get them to act. But unless they themselves have the passion to do the extra work that a magnet requires at a High School level it just won’t get done. They themselves have to want it. That is one of the reveals that an interview will highlight – the personal passion of a student vs. just a winning lottery number. Plopping a kid into an environment where they have no interest will not do the trick. They have to WANT to do the extra work. I believe that is why lottery alone will not allow a magnet school to continue to exist . Educators, students and family can and are smarter than just a lottery.

I think in choosing the lottery only solution, Enfield did not consider the best interest of the students of Highline, the continuing success of a magnet school within her jurisdiction, nor the best interest of students interested in aviation science from her and two other participating school districts in the region. I want a Superintendent to be a leader and fight for the success of the kids under their jurisdiction. Lottery only in my opinion is a fail to students and a cave on leadership.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

The essential issue for programs like IB and magnet schools is to provide viable pathways OUT of the program, or the school, for students who find the program is to rigorous or has an emphasis that is not interesting to them. The problem with the school districts is that this sort of flexibility is an anathema to them. This suggests that the district is, undoubtedly, not going to be able or willing to advise and re-situate students who want out of the program. Parents will pressure the school to dumb down the curriculum and the goal of the district to have all schools equivalent and aimed at the LCD will have been achieved. Well done district administrators!

I think a lot of the policies that the district imposes to rectify inequities are actually aimed at homogenizing the district so that the schools programs and faculty are interchangeable. District administrators have told us parents that quite often at PTA meetings - that this is their clear goal. Unfortunately, this has the effect of removing exciting programs for all kids.

-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

I don't know the Aviation program, so my comment may not apply there. But I am nervous about asking kids to specialize at 13.

Perhaps some students know as 12 year olds what their life's passion will be. But I think that for most students high school should be an opportunity to try many interests and even change direction completely, several times. They are teenagers with very little life experience. Are we sure our kid isn't an aerospace nut only because she hasn't tried genomics or anthropology. We know that most undergrads change their major. Even those child prodigies who leave high school to pursue a narrow interest like musical performance often don't stick with it after training. Having a variety of experiences available at a high school gives students a good way find their interests. It is why I wish there were more opportunities for electives in our high school curriculum and less emphasis on taking each elective to the highest level. My kids have surprised me by changing interests in high school and college. Their 8th grade priorities did not endure and I am so glad they weren't pigeon-holed at that age.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

HS Parent,

Absolutely true. Not many kids really know - but some do. There 100 kids per class at RAHS. I think the issue was finding 50 within one school district that had this passion. Last year, the non-highline kids drew from many other districts. Kids were willing to come from Everett, Whidbey, Issaquah, and Tacoma because they wanted this. You have to give up sports, music, art and all the traditional high school experiences. Again, the program isn't more rigorous or advanced like an IB or IBX or APP, it's just more specialized. You can't take AP Bio or orchestra - you can take Aviation Law and Intro to Aerospace Engineering. StepJ is exactly correct. (And About Time, I have no idea where you got the "students aren't prepared" nonsense - that was never the issue. Sounds like you know a lot about RBHS, but nothing about RAHS. Stop conflating the two.) A magnet school isn't for everyone - and those kids who are being pushed there by poor alternatives, rather than pulled there by the focus, won't be well-served either. The kids who were only moderately interested in aviation in my son's class switched back to a traditional high school before the end of 9th grade. Highline actually does an excellent job of doing outreach in 8th grade to their schools about their innovative schools (see here http://highlineschools.org/Page/955 , including the awesome WELS outdoor school). The schools send out students to all the 8th grades. My point is a lottery is a poor way to ensure the passion for the subject. Also, it would have been nice if there had been real community engagement on how to address the issue. Families were unaware there was an issue until the surprise news of the change, and Enfield was not interested in feedback or suggestions. I'll sign out - I remember now why I Rarely Comment. Some folks just want to vent without knowing the facts. Was just sharing our experience.

rare commenter

Jan said...

Ed Voter: Can you recall what year the Aviation HS skirmish in Seattle took place? I am thinking that this disaster lies at the feet of either MGJ or her immediate (and temporary successor). But my vague recall is also that Aviation made its attempt to site the school at RBHS -- with little or no buy in from the neighborhood there (from Aviation's point of view, it had lots of positives -- they wanted a strong school that would pull kids into the SE, RBHS at that point in time was the ONLY Seattle high school that was hugely under-enrolled, etc.) But the local community at RBHS didn't want it (in general, there must have been some individuals who did) and, as you point out, the idea and the movers behind it were not from downtown, so they wanted nothing to do with it either (I am sure they viewed it as nothing more than claptrap burbling up from the hoi polloi). Leaving aside whether it would have been well sited at RBHS (for the same reasons it was causing resentment in Highline when engineering-minded Seattle kids descended on it) -- if it is now oversubscribed, it might be interesting for someone to approach Trish Dziko and the others who backed it to find out if there would be any possibility of starting a second school in Seattle.

As for magnets in general, the last ones were supported by administrations BEFORE MGJ -- that is to say, before big ed reform, the Broad School for Superintendents, etc., school board members backed by billionaires looking for "market based solutions," etc. If we can ever free up enough time and attention from fighting off the bad policies (and bad policy makers and administrators) that flow downhill from RttT, SBAC, MAP, Broad, Fordham, etc. -- maybe we can one day get back to the business of dreaming up, and then bringing to reality, a variety of schools so that all Seattle's kids can have options and reasonable educational environments in which they can grow and learn.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I should put up a thread on Trish Dziko who IS the real thing who DOESN'T pull any punches and truly is the guiding light for public education in this region.