Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Mayor's Education Summit: Still Not Clear on Purpose

It would seem a simple enough premise - Mayor Murray cares about students in Seattle and wants to find new/effective/supportive ways to help students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools (heck, maybe even the kids in so-called charter schools but that's unclear.)  Here's what's been happening so far.

The agenda was published this week.  (See below.)  The Summit is this Saturday, starting at 9:00 am.  They have moved it to Garfield High School's Commons due to popular demand.  (I am a bit mystified about that location, despite it being in a central location.  The street Garfield is on - 23rd - has major construction going on and Garfield has very little of its own parking.  They are warning people about the traffic and have a list of parking lots for attendees to access.) They will be serving a free lunch.

So the first half of the Summit is sitting and listing to a lot of people talk?  And why Michael Tolley and not Steve Nielsen or the Superintendent or President Patu, all of whom outrank him?  I find it hard to believe none of them are available.  Mr. Nielsen just did a great job on the Seattle Channel event last week.

I foresee a PowerPoint presentation from Mr. Chappelle if he is going to cover all the community conversations.  As well, while I greatly admire Ms. Williams work and I generally like student voices, I'm not sure how much will be gleaned for the hundreds of people who may attend this event.  (I had thought they would have workshops and one would be just for student voices.)

I really think that this event is going to be oversubscribed and I don't see much coming out of the "tabletop discussions."  Are we going to talk about the Summit, the ideas we heard or what?

This all seems vague - from why the Mayor is doing this and how he is doing it.

Any one going to this?  I'm going for the morning at least but I can't take a whole day of sitting and listening.

You are invited to the Mayor's Education Summit to hear a summary of the top ideas and suggestions gathered during the two-month-long community conversation process. The Mayor and education experts will present actions the City can take to reduce the education disparities among our children and close the achievement gap so all kids can succeed in school.

Arrival and Registration
Program Begins

Ed Murray, Mayor of Seattle
Patricia Lally, Director of City of Seattle Office for Civil Rights
Michael Tolley, Assistant Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools

Summary of Community Conversations:
Dwane Chappelle, Director of City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning

Panel on Student Perspectives:
Moderated by Mia Williams, Principal of Aki Kurose Middle School

Special Presentations:
Holly S. Schindler, PhD, Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Washington
Christopher P. Chatmon, Executive Director of African American Male Achievement, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD)

Tabletop Discussions
Closing Remarks
Resource Fair 


Anonymous said...

At the community conversation meetings, we watched a slide show with an intro by the Mayor, stats on the achievement/opportunity gap in Seattle, a promo on the benefits of preschool, a promo on a math program (can't remember the name), etc... We broke into groups for table discussions (there were two rounds). Topics included Special Education, Teachers, Curriculum, Race and Equity, Preschool, Redistricting, Family Engagement and Technology.

I was hoping for discussions around issues and services that were more in line with how the City could actually help students and their families, such as Transportation (i.e. Orca cards and better bus service to schools), Safe Routes to School and Walk Zone Safety, Building Codes (i.e. for adequate parking around schools), Before and After School Care/Support (Community Centers), and whether or not the City should impose Impact Fees on developers. Some of these things came up during the group discussions, but they were not provided as general topics for discussion.

The meeting I attended, in Lake City, was well-run, but I didn't see anyone from SPS at the meeting. It was held at the same day and time as a regular School Board meeting, as was the one two weeks later, at Nathan Hale, so perhaps there were no district staff or school board directors available?

-North-end Mom

Patrice Griffith said...

I plan to attend, but I am dismayed that this is all a presentation format rather than input. I second the position of using impact fees. Why is our city one of the only areas that does not utilize the.
Also, I want to raise the issue of the proposal to cut family support workers financed by the Families and Education Levy. I spoke to a supervisor recently who told me that family support workers (now district employees) may be cut from 44 to 7! This is unconscionable and hypocritical with schools serving 3000 homeless students and many near homeless.

Melissa Westbrook said...

North-end Mom, you probably didn't see anyone from SPS because the City initially didn't reach out at all to the district. This is the Mayor's gig and I'm not sure how much he wants/cares for SPS to be involved.

Charlie Mas said...

I think this gathering is for the Committee to reflect back to the community the things they heard at the community listening events held earlier, not another opportunity for the community to speak. Although I have to reckon that part of the program is to get the community to confirm that the committee did hear the community clearly and correctly.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, the Advisory Group has only met a couple of times and it is unclear if how many of them attended any community meetings. I think an all-day listening tour isn't really that useful.

Watching said...

"Topics included Special Education, Teachers, Curriculum, Race and Equity, Preschool, Redistricting, Family Engagement and Technology."

NE Mom, Can you elaborate on discussions regarding redistricting? I've been concerned that Murray will want to split the district.

Patrice Griffith said...

A bill to split the district was submitted and a hearing held the session before last. Several people - from the League of Women Voters, PTSA, and others - testified against it. Bill was introduced by Rep. Pettigrew and Rep. Santos. Two of us did meet with Rep. Santos to express our concern and that there was no public input or demand for such a move. I won't say who killed the bill but am glad it died. Unfortunately I believe it passed out of committee, partly because committee members did not want to get on the wrong side of the committee chair.

Anonymous said...


There was a survey posted online for the community conversations. There was a list of topics, and you could pick two. There was an optional write-in topic, as well. "Redistricting" was one of the topics listed on the survey. There was no definition or explanation given. It is my understanding that the topics which scored the highest on the survey were chosen as topics to be discussed at the community conversation meetings.

At the meeting there was a table set up for the redistricting discussion, but there was no official moderator/discussion leader for that particular table, and there was no explanation of what was meant by redistricting (at least not that I was aware of). I think most attendees assumed that it was a discussion of the upcoming 2017 boundary changes, since they will have a great impact on Lake City area schools, so the discussion I participated in focused on Lake City-area boundary changes and the impact they will have (school segregation, disruption of vital support for students who are reassigned to another school or who will lose transportation to their current school, and especially for students who live in poverty and/or are English Language Learners.

I have no idea whether or not it was meant to be a discussion about splitting the district.

- North-end Mom

Watching said...

I have to wonder if "redistricting" would involve incorporating parts of White Center into Seattle. Appears no way of knowing.

Thanks for the information!

Dora Taylor said...

I suggest reading my post on the subject, Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray: A Wannabe Rahm?.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, Dora, I was going to put that link up.