Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What Will Seattle Schools Be When It Grows Up?

I sat thru the quick meeting today that was held before the Board meeting about the extra $11M in next year's budget that somehow got found.  It was quite discouraging.

Up front - NO decisions were made.  I suspect that staff will want some soon so look for another meeting next week.

One thing from the get go is that many of the Board members were not happy to be given a list less than 24 hours before this meeting.  Not happy at all and, as Directors Harris and Blanford said, "This is no way to do business." 


That's not because no one had ideas on how to spend the money, both on the staff side and Board side.  I'm sure many of us could think of what to do with that money.

The staff had things like:

- RULER - which for socio-emotional learning and would be training and support for staff at Tier One schools
- the academic data dashboard (no encouragement on this one from the Board and I agree. If the district is allowing schools to go their own way on curriculum and program methodology, there is no hope to know what works and why at any given school)
- paying for PSAT and SAT testing
- teacher release days for PD (got a mixed reaction from the Board as they get varying feedback from teachers on how much worth there is to any given PD)
- assessments
- one interesting item was School Leadership with Michael Tolley saying it would be worth it if school leaders could head off problems so they didn't get bigger
- contract with "Thought Exchange"  -  some kind of online public engagement
- Building Leadership Team training - given that every school doesn't even have a BLT and most are tightly controlled by principals, I'd say no to this one.

I didn't actually see what the Board members got and their documentation included mitigation for schools.  Also included was new middle school math curriculum which seems to be long-overdue.

There was one funny spot where Director Harris was inquiring about how the mitigation numbers came about and was told there was a combination of factors like F/RL, academic outcomes, school segmentation, etc.  Harris said, "So there's a formula?"  The answer from Tolley was yes.  So Harris said, "But it's not provided so I don't understand how it works."  Tolley said, well he didn't have the formula and the person that developed it no longer works for the district. Oh.

He also said something interesting.  He said that McDonald and Stanford, because of their dual language programs, have "always received mitigation funds."  He said that the other schools in this program - Concord, Beacon Hill and Dearborn Park - want funds as well.

Director Peters pointed out that, for example, at Center School, they are losing enrollment.  This could be because of the erosion (and now) cutting of their arts program.  Tolley's answer was that smaller schools always have issues with being able to provide what larger schools do.  Peters pointed out that if these schools met their enrollment, they likely would not need the mitigation.  Tolley agreed.

Budget head Linda Sebring explained that the deficit number they will be working with if the levy cliff comes (and this would be for 2017-2018) is about $74M but if they could move it just one year further out, then it might only be $45-50M.  Meaning, take the whole extra $11M and use it as a buffer - don't spend it at all.

What was made clear is that the WSS for schools is simply to provide the stripped-down basics for a school (and meeting contract requirements.)  As Tolley said, every school is different and has other needs beyond the basics.

To note, the documentation showed that most of the schools in Tier One were "low equity," meaning, not having equity issues within the school.  When Director Geary asked why, Superintendent Nyland said, with just a shade of bitterness, "Because we made promises we can't keep."  

IB got mentioned but Superintendent Nyland said it wasn't on the list because "it's another new promise and we aren't even meeting the old ones."

Pinkham pressed on the point, asking about what the promises were.  He also pointed out that the spreadsheet had hidden columns and when he uncovered them, it looked like some items had been given a higher emphasis (didn't say which ones.)

Nyland said the promises were around dual language, Montessori, K-8s and that they were chronically understaffed.

The feeling - to me - was to blame those who came before and the promises those people made.  I will point out that none of the programs involved was created just on a promise.  All of them went to a board via a superintendent.

Geary kind of touched on the issue saying that they can't give lip service on creating programs and not following thru.  She mentioned being out of compliance of laws and "setting ourselves up for lawsuits."

President Patu was of the mind to drive the $11M into the schools.  She said the schools need help now.

They ran out of time and the whole issue got tabled.

Then I watched the first part of the Board meeting including the public testimony.  There were a couple of very stark moments.

One was having deaf/hard of hearing parents come forward (with great ASL interpreters), explaining how badly deaf students are being treated and how they are been underserved.  They acknowledged other students who are also underserved but said that if black children were being told in order to learn they had to act white, there would be a huge outcry and yet, their children have been told they need to learn to read lips in order to truly learn.  And, at least one deaf program is down in some basement akin to a dungeon.

It was truly upsetting to hear.  These children have the same rights to be educated and yet, somehow, continually get shunted aside.

The second stark moment was the testimony of two principals - Ballard's Keven Wynkoop and  Gerrit Kischner, principal at TOPS K-8 Schmitz Park.  Both principals testified about the district needing to view ALL decisions, first and foremost, thru the lens of equity.  Principal Wynkoop, in particular, railed against "boutique" schools and "dual track" programs and white privilege.  I was taken aback at some of his tone but I can give him credit for being honest.  ( I did tweet about this and pointed out that I'm sure he appreciates the funds that his PTA raises.  He tweeted back, "Absolutely" and that his PTA had funded programs to help kids in need.)

There was also moving words from Directors Blanford and Peters and Geary about their concern over funding.  Blanford seems very worried about the dollars and how much there will be if the levy cliff comes.  (Geary also touched on Orlando and student testimony on gender neutral bathrooms and support for all students.  Peters also said she understood Principal Wynkoop's feelings about equity which she shared.  But she said she was obligated to listen to ALL parents, appreciate their efforts and try to draw in as many other voice as she could.) (Update: Director Peters says she didn't agree with Wynkoop on either not listening to some parents or to get rid of smaller schools/programs.)

My takeaway?

I am loathe to say this because it plays into the hands of people who want to take over the district but, honestly, this district is is disarray.  I sit in meeting after meeting, year after year, and superintendents and boards and staff like to complain and yet they seem to have no control over what is happening.

I've said it before - we need a sheriff.  We need someone like Anthony Boudain who, when he visited Top Chef and looked around, asked, "What kind of crackhouse is this?''

I would NOT call SPS a "crackhouse" but it is almost unintelligible.  To wit:

- Operations are not under control.  The examples of this are legion. The Deputy Superintendent says, just this week,  that senior management can't tell the schools what to do.  What?!  The district puts out money for a consultant on nutrition services, gets back a fairly damning report and....does nothing with it.  Nor does the Board.  Special Education? Not good.  It's is just bewildering.

- Our district has seemingly taken on too many programs, year after year, almost as if they are good PR vehicles without seeming to understand they had to be paid for.  And, if the district wanted good results from them, it was going to cost more money than a traditional school.

The district's one good thing - alternative schools - that had been here more than 20 years, parent/teacher created (the original charter schools), many were run into the ground or weakened by the district.

Dual-language is a great idea but no one truly understood/believed three things.  One, you need two adults in the classroom to truly make it work.  Two, all those elementary kids would grow up and go where next for that program?  Three, equity.  How was it fair to give that kind of opportunity to just a couple of neighborhoods?

And yet, Director Michael DeBell, as his parting gift to the district, pushed thru opening more dual-language schools, saying that promises were made.  In essence, he created more mouths to feed.

That leaves the current staff in a rather untenable position of resenting these programs rather than embracing them.  And it leaves the district ever more struggling and trying to put a good face on the whole thing. 

What do they need to do?  Or maybe the question is, at this point, what can they do?

They should strip down schools to the basics.  It's cheaper to operate schools that are vastly similar in offerings.  It is also more equitable.  And, you can more easily focus on those who need the support.

It would make operations simpler and, for this district, that alone would be a big help.

I know many of you are thinking, "She must be kidding."  I'm not kidding but I also know it's not realistic.    It would take some humble pie to say, "We can't handle all this and we cannot go on this way especially with a possible levy cliff coming."  It would take political courage. 

Honestly, we can all argue that the district has to fund what it started.  What I feel I am hearing is the staff saying, "No, we don't" and, in essence, are possibly going to starve programs into folding.

It can't be on parents to fundraising them out of this dilemma, either.

I don't know the answer.

I just know - as I have said over and over - this district will never get ahead with closing the opportunity gap as long as they cannot control their operations.

I see no evidence of that changing soon.

225 comments:

1 – 200 of 225   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

This is one of your best posts in years.

Everything is spot on.

northwesterner

checking in said...

Get rid of a tired superintendent who blames others. Find a cheaper perhaps less experienced but enthusiastic super who has vision, energy and is willing to clean house at the top. If we don't clean house at the top, forget fixing everything else. We need new blood in Seattle. We just do. When Stanford came to Seattle, he did just that. The one thing he did that for me tainted his vision was relying a little too much on some of the establishment educators. But I forgive him that because how could he know that they were supporting the status quo.

Still, he made a big difference in our district. Sometimes we just need someone to rally around. It is not a tired Larry Nyland.

Anonymous said...

Right on point, MW. You nailed it. There is a culture of laissez faire and tip-toeing around ownership and accountability. There is ZERO management of staff happening at JSCEE. Employees are left to their own lazy and self-serving devices. Get rid of the non-productive layabouts at JSCEE who whine and complain and put up roadblocks to real change. There is so much PORK at JSCEE - if we are talking about budget shortfalls, all we have to do is sort out all of the non-performers at JSCEE and we could raise some revenue real fast. Some of these clowns making six figures and do nothing all day. You see them sitting in their cubes asleep as you walk by. Don't get me wrong, there are some talented folks who are well meaning and competent - but those are the 10% minority. Plus they have to pick up all the work of the entire team. Burn and churn............

-FedUp

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to add a couple more thoughts.

I've worked in failing companies. I've worked in successful companies. I've been an employee that has gone through three mergers and acquisitions in the last eight years (and I've been out of the workforce and in graduate school the last two).

Here's an example. At one of the failing companies I was at we struggled for a number of years because:
1)At the senior leadership level, there was not a clear vision of how our organization would be successful. Decisions weren't made referencing a short term and long term strategy, they were just made based on the way the wind blew today.

As a result of #1...

2) Nothing was ever resolved. There was little to no leadership from HQ on resolving issues, the control of which, they had removed from the local level. And our division manager was nervous about making any decisions on her own, she'd punt, they'd ignore, and the issues would fester.

****

After we got bought out, we improved our service quickly. Our new management team had vision, outlined it, and referenced it at a minimum in our weekly meetings. "How does this decision affect our goal for employee retention?" or "How does this fit with the culture we're trying to create for our employees?"

Decisions and problems didn't fester. They were resolved, on the spot, immediately. Progress reports were required, and items were revisited until they were actually, finally resolved and we could move on.

What does that have to do with the district? Well, we can see that there is no coordination or corresponding goals, or even the leadership teams operating on the same page. A well run organization is like a great symphony... the conductor (in this case, Nyland) should have everyone organized enough such that each individual is, in coordination with the others, creating amazing music. Of course, the product here would be an educational experience.

We see that is not the case. Look at Tolley's comment this week on curriculums and MTSS. Look at the discussion of how to spend the $11M (but not on IB, a program that is actually, measurably making a difference at Rainier Beach, for nearly 30 years the district's most troubled high school). Everyone is going in a different direction.

Then they complain about not having the bandwidth to take on all these initiatives.

Why?

Because nothing is ever resolved. Nothing!. We're still fussing around with elementary school math. We don't have a K-5 L.A. curriculum because the review identified products outside our budget. No one can tell you what the Middle Schools are using for a L.A. curriculum because when they started the K-5 review they discovered that the middle school curriculum was last reviewed in the 1990s. And this is from a district that has opened one comprehensive middle school and a couple of K-8s since then. And what, might I ask, are they using for L.A. textbooks at Jane Addams? Does anyone know.

Until these guys can get united to actually make a decision, stick with it, and see it through, they're never going to get anywhere. Because right now, they will not / cannot resolve anything.

northwesterner

Anonymous said...

So let's wait and see what the school board does or most likely doesn't do. I just about fell out of my chair when Scott thought he was on to something big because of finding a hidden excel column. Get real Scott.

Geary had the balls to Milo the equity crowd and let them know there are others no less deserving of attention. A big cheer from the upwardly mobile crowd there. She is also spot on about law suits, more are in the works.

I strongly expect the mayor to make his takeover move soon, I don't see how it could be any worst. Boy did I dodge a bullet, thank you for that.

Go Team

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

so glad you are not on the Board go team. Such a petty statement.


-yikes

Ws said...

One point of clarification. Gerrit Kirschner is principal at Schmitz soon to be Genessee.

Charlie Mas said...

That's quite an insight, that the workpile keeps growing and growing because nothing ever gets done. I hadn't seen that before. I thought all of those incomplete initiatives were simply abandoned. I didn't realize people were still working on them.

Anonymous said...

Could you elaborate on Mr. Wynkoop's testimony a bit? What did he mean by boutique and dual-track?

FA

Anonymous said...

This is very discouraging, but also somewhat hopeful. After all, the first step in problem solving is recognizing that there IS a problem. I have little faith in Spr. Nyland, but do have some for the board. Also, it's important to remember (as we hit the home stretch, especially), that every day in every school, there is some amazing teaching and learning happening. I see it in my kid's classrooms, my colleague's and even mine. There are vast resources and talent that we have; hopefully we can harness it. Than you, Melissa, for keeping up the blog, in what must often be, the face of adversity. -Teacher Mom

Anonymous said...

Ballard high has its own little boutique programs within the high school.

HP

Anonymous said...

Stop. Just stop it with the meetings and spreadsheets.

Take the 11 million and fund the programs and people downtown has taken away. In-school administrative staff (NOT downtown administrative staff) that they took away this year under their sneaky new formula. Our schools have too many needs for just one or 1.5 school administrators. Center School, an arts school keeps its arts for gawds sake. IB is funded. How tone deaf are these people? Those dual language programs? Fund the staff. The IAs needed desperately all over town? Hire them and keep them. Better special education resourcing? Yes and yesterday.

How many times do we have to watch downtown run in circles when parents and students are clear: invest in school programs and staff. Academic dashboard and PSATs and a contract with Thought Exchange my a$$.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

What about revisiting the idea of splitting up the district into 2 smaller ones to make it more manageable and accountable? I know that there were some concerns about equity in proposing a north/south split a couple of years ago, however at the Seattle PTSA meeting there were families from the south who were not happy that the Seattle PTSA had so quickly dismissed the idea, so I wondered where the concerns were mainly coming from. Alternately you could do an east/west split if that seems more equitable.

In any case, it's clear that the Seattle School District needs a major overhaul. This is a great city and it needs a school district (or two) to be proud of!

BT

Melissa Westbrook said...

Go Team, I did not say Director Pinkham thought he "was on to something big." I merely pointed out that he was paying attention and asked questions. There was no big moment to his statement.

"Boy did I dodge a bullet, thank you for that."

Yes, those of us who know who you are know WE are the ones who really dodged a bullet.

Ws, you're right; I did that late at night and got my principals mixed up. I'll correct that.

BT, it will not help. It will end up being north versus south and we already have those issues. Plus, then you are paying two superintendents, electing two boards, etc. I'm not sure how this helps. (East/West is geographically difficult.)

You are right and Director Blanford said the same thing - how does a city this well-off and smart struggle with public education so much?

Once again, I'm not blaming anyone in specific. What I am blaming is the culture of the bureaucracy that exists at JSCEE that has gone on for decades. We never seem to hire a superintendent (save John Stanford) who recognizes that and realizes the only way forward is a complete realignment and statement of purpose.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I forgot to mention that the tactic of the staff is that many of the items that would go directly to schools are considered one-offs and therefore not a great investment. Staff believes it better to sustain investments in PD, data, etc.

I think the schools need the money more.

Melissa Westbrook said...

One more note, I have corrected what Director Peters said in response to Principal Wynkoop's testimony. I heard it one way but she says that's not what she said/meant. I have corrected that.

FA, I can't elaborate on what Wynkoop said; he didn't flesh out what he meant. I will try to ask him at some point but won't have the time for several days.

What I think is happening is that principals - and I'll go out on a limb and say "most" - probably feel their school is not getting the funding that is needed. They may look around and see very small schools/programs and ask why we keep them. This is a long-running back-and-forth over the value of small schools/specific programs.

I can see both sides but someone has to be the grownup with a budget and say, "We have to drive more dollars into schools (until McCleary comes) and we have overtaxed ourselves with schools and programs we cannot afford."

But I'm not hired or appointed or paid to make those decisions; other people are.

Charlie Mas said...

I think we all know what is meant by "boutique" schools and "dual track" programs and white privilege. It means the option schools, HCC, Spectrum, Montessori, language immersion, and everything else non-standard in the district EXCEPT those non-standard programs that serve a predominantly minority population.

Anonymous said...

When I think "boutique schools," language immersion comes to mind. I'm having a difficult time understanding mitigation funding for elementary LI and not high school IB. If you really want the district to get back to basics, there would be no language immersion, no IB, and no small schools like Center School. K8s with low middle school enrollment would be changed to K5s. Without direction on what should be prioritized, I don't anticipate sound decisions being made.

-tired parent

Robert Cruickshank said...

There is a sustained attack being made on any kind of education that is not corporate Common Core geared to the test. We've had successful programs that matter to kids, that make a difference in kids lives, for decades. Option schools, montessori schools, language immersion schools, arts schools, EEU, and so on. Genuine school choice, rooted in genuine personal learning, focused on meeting kids' needs.

But the district, influenced by staff support for charter schools, their immersion in corporate ed reform policies, is out to smash every last one of those programs. Even IB, which has produced a historic turnaround at Rainier Beach. SPS staff want them gone.

They want to treat every single child as a widget, as standardized. It's awful.

They're also justifying this using money. It's the oldest trick in the book.

"Oh, we don't have enough money, sorry, you can't have nice things." Sure we can. We need a radical rethink of SPS budgeting. The money should go to the classrooms. If some of these programs have low enrollment, let's boost it so we can help reduce capacity pressures elsewhere. If some programs need more funding to stay open, let's fire some staff at the JSCEE to do it.

I can't agree that we should "strip schools down to the basics." I think that's the wrong approach, it will hurt our kids, it will send parents fleeing from the district, and it will open the door to the mass privatization and charterization of the district.

But I do agree that we need to clean house at the JSCEE. The board needs to step up and do this now, starting with the budget. We keep the schools and programs open. We embrace specialized programs. We support them and ensure that our children are treated as human beings, not as widgets.

Anonymous said...

It is beyond discouraging if Wynkoop is unhappy about specialized programs like the biotech and maritime academies at his own Ballard high school. These programs are attractive to parents and students who might otherwise choose private schools. If Wynkoop or SPS feel these programs are not equitable they could expand them internally or to other schools.

The arts education offered at Center School is another distinctive program. Instead of promoting it, the administrators want to chop the arts curriculum. Cut out its heart — just like they tried to dismantle the humanities program by punishing gifted teacher Jon Greenberg.

My sons worked hard at both of these schools. My husband and I volunteered and were part of PTA efforts to support them. Ballard’s Wynkoop admits he likes this PTA money but he may not appreciate why the families are there.

It is great to talk about equity and opportunity, but don’t dismantle successful programs that draw families to these schools. Do we really want a bare bones school district?

S parent

Lynn said...

I can't support paying for language immersion instructional assistants until every elementary school has a full time librarian and counselor funded by the district and high school counselors have the recommended 250 student allocation instead of the current 400. These are actual needs in our schools. Language immersion is a useful tool for schools with high numbers of students who are English language learners - in other schools it's an expensive, unnecessary program.

The Center School's enrollment issue isn't just related to the arts. Many students leave for running start as juniors and seniors. They're not going to community college for the arts - they're going for more rigorous classes and college credit. Maybe TCS needs to revamp its curriculum to focus on UW College in the High School classes in those years. That, combined with mitigation funds for the art teacher might pull in enough students that mitigation wouldn't be necessary in future years. I think though that it's likely to be folded into a comprehensive high school at Memorial Stadium if that's ever built.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the SPS leadership needs to focus on just a few things and delve into the details to resolve them. Like the school lunches issue - that's an easy subset - someone could be assigned to take that on and revamp it. Put together goals based on the report they got and work down to implement at each school.

They could do the same with special ed - create special ed liaisons at each school that answer to central leadership.

It seems like if they identified problems like that that could be solved and worked on those and had a few successes it would eventually get to a more manageable set of issues.

Flattening out the leadership layers at Central Administration would help greatly I think so that lines of communication were clear all the way to the Superintendent. Right now when you want to find out something it is hard to know who to contact and you always get the run around.
NW Mom

Robert Cruickshank said...

Why are we pitting students against each other like this? Why are we pitting schools against each other? We don't have to and we shouldn't. The problem is with the legislature's failure to fund our schools, though SPS's managerial incompetence certainly exacerbates it. I think it's wrong to say that the answer to this is to give the corporate ed reformers and charter advocates what they want by gutting SPS's programs and reducing education to test prep widget making.

This is going to be a turning point for our district. Either we define a quality education as a diverse and robust set of offerings designed to meet the different needs of all students, or we define education as the same boring test-driven curriculum that is doing so much damage elsewhere and failing to prepare kids for life. If we make the wrong choice just because there was a problem with money in 2016, today's kids are going to suffer for it all their lives, and that's not OK.

Anonymous said...

With respect to immersion schools, I suspect the mitigation $$ go to the south-end schools. North-end schools pay for IAs through parent contributions, and it's about 500k/year last I checked. It's my understanding that south-end schools pay for IAs using Title I money. I'll bet the federal $ do not fully cover the IAs and that SPS funds the difference in the name of equity. Before you start targeting language immersion schools for cuts in mitigation funding, you might want to think about the implications in terms of equity.

Also, while I certainly agree that equity is an important concern for public schools, I don't agree with Principal Wynkoop that equity should be considered "first and foremost" in making decisions relating to public schools. The impact on teaching and learning should be considered first and foremost when making decisions about public schools. We should always be mindful of the impact of decisions in terms of equity, but schools are first and foremost about education, not social justice.

--Priorities

Watching said...

"Why are we pitting students against each other like this? Why are we pitting schools against each other?"

I agree. It is called horizontal aggression.

Clearly, there is a segment of the population that needs additional supports, but there was a group of individuals advocating for the hearing impaired, too. It was absolutely unprofessional and divisive for Wynkoop to stand up- and, IMO, berate the board. Wynkoops actions were divisive and inflammatory.

What was Wynkoop asking for? Was he asking for a portion- or all- of the $11M?? I couldn't help but notice the principal contract was coming-up? Was he asking for something to be placed in the contract? As an aside, how much of a raise do these principals want?

The board has been given $11M. I've NEVER seen this happen before and I credit it to the board. We have heard Director Harris weigh-in. She has asked for a time frame for the board to weigh-in on the budget.

SPS has a budget of over $1B per year and you would not be able to find a CEO in the private sector willing to work for Nyland's salary.

I see no benefit in beating-up on Nyland. He is the best superintendent we've had for years. I take him over Goodloe Johnson, Enfield or Banda. He has provided the board with $11M and appears to attempt to meet the demands of many.

Funding should go directly into schools. I do think there needs to be professional development related to cultural competence. However, I also hear from teachers -with 150 students- that professional development is not helping them when students need actual supports. We have policies intended to decrease suspensions and these students need support. I also support funding IB. Chief Sealth and Rainier Beach would benefit.

Watching said...

It was offensive to hear Wynkoop rail against "boutique" schools. "Boutique" schools serve high risk and vulnerable students- I'm thinking about a particular school in Skyway.

Two worlds said...

Two 9f my kids attend Denny International Middle School and are in the immersion program. This is not a white privileged group, rather a cohort of students whose native or heritage language is Spanish. The immersion program is in fact helping those students close the achievement gap.

Anonymous said...

$11 Million? Why not refund all those school councilors they randomly defunded for next year for all but the highest need schools? Our school councilor got her hours funded by the SPS from 2.5 days to 0 days. I am glad the high need schools still have councilors, but I venture even lower need schools have a greater than zero population of high need students who benefit from school councilors. If they have $11 million laying about, why did they defund that???

-NW mom

Anonymous said...

I think the money should fund librarians, counselors, math and reading interventionists, IAs and vice principals next year. After that, the money should support in-school programs others have mentioned such as special education, IB, languages, art, music. These are all things I have seen and heard are missing at many schools. I know the downtown people do not want to put extra money into these operations (vs. capital projects or one-time funding projects) because the funding for operations isn't sustainable. That's true. It's not sustainable. But neither are the large projects like data warehouses that they set up and then require funding for. Any of those positions I mentioned are impact students every day all day and one year of their services is better than no years of their services for our students.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that once they are funded an attempt to take the positions away a year later under the "no money" annual cry from downtown will force yet another reckoning of how our budget money should be distributed. At that time, as always, I expect parents, taxpayers and students themselves to push for the money to be deployed within our school buildings to help students learn and grow. Maybe that is another reason JSCEE doesn't want the dollars going to these people and program positions. When school communities are deprived long enough, the community slowly stops expecting those people and programs. But there are enough thoughtful school advocates out here that the troops aren't going to quiet down, so time to deploy those funds in classrooms.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

This is, as it has always been, a problem of leadership. A strong leader doesn't let this kind of "us versus them" climate continue. I respectfully agree that Dr.Nyland is not the right person to be steering SPS at this crucial juncture. Nor is Dr. Tolley. I have seen behind the curtain down at JSCEE many many times, and it's not pretty.

Things need to change at the top before anything else will be accomplished. Any extra money (and there is a lot of it sitting at desks at JSCEE) needs to be funneled into the classroom - whether that's IAs, Librarians, Counselors, paper, pencils - whatever.

To me, it's like when you have a personal financial issue - you cut the fluff in your life and focus on the basics - you don't keep cable TV if you can't feed your kids..... And if you get a little extra, you put out the fires before you by champagne.

But then this is SPS we are talking about. Logic never prevails.

reader47


r

Two worlds said...

Point of clarification/comparison: the current proposed budget for 2016-2017 lists 2 instructional assistants funded by the district and zero from Title One for Concord International (369 students).
JSIS (441 students) budget lists 1 IA funded for Special Ed. However, because we were able to fundraise approximately $430,000 we will have 6 IAS and I believe 3 interns.
Is this equitable?
Also, JSIS needs 19 teachers and we only were granted a budget for 18.
Is this equitable?
Also, I respectfully disagree with your last statement. There can't be education without social justice. If a big issue at the center of SPS is equity, we owe it to our kids and their future to teach them about social justice in hopes the next generation does a better job than we do.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I was not clear - I do not want standardized schools.

I want the district to stop any new initiatives. I want them to get rid of "partnership" of dubious value - Great City Schools, NEXT, etc.

I want the district to consider the value of the Ex Directors who are nice people but I have yet to hear a principal or parent say they help solve probllems. It's just one more layer the district doesn't need.

They need to fund schools and commit to the programs that were approved. Sorry, they must. Maybe those programs need to be reshaped to be less expensive but they have to be honored and not resented.

Could the Mayor do better? Not unless, as Robert says, he stripped this district down to the bare bones. Nobody wants that.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I fully agree with Melissa's most recent comment. The JSCEE needs to be pared down to the basics of running a district. All these "partnerships" and extra staffers are not as important as their existing commitments to IB and immersion schools and option schools and deaf kids and so on. The root problem is the lack of funding from the legislature, but the mess at the JSCEE exacerbates it. If Watching is right about Nyland, then Nyland would be the one to lead the effort to right the ship and pare down the central staff. He's had plenty of time to do it, but so far, nothing.

Lynn said...

Two worlds,

I believe the language immersion schools have received mitigation funds in the past for teachers - not IAs. In LI schools, as students leave they cannot be replaced. When a school's enrollment drops in the higher grades, the classes should be consolidated. We can't do that when there are two language tracks in a single school. The possible solutions are to offer just one language track in each building or to plan for multi-grade classrooms in the higher grades.

Lynn said...

The fact that the principals of Ballard and Schmitz Park (current and former PASS presidents) came forward to scold the board about equity in decision making tells me that this is all about their contract negotiations. I'm also wondering what they're demanding. We should be concerned about that. The district and SEA agreed to increase the elementary school day without any input from parents. I wonder if they'll try to push a 3X5 high school schedule through in this contract.

Carol Simmons said...



At the previous Board meeting the Board passed the Oversight policy.

When we continue to criticize the District (and we will and we must when students are not equitably served) we provide the City, and Charter School advocates with fuel to take over the schools.

It is frustrating that the Mayor's education summit (that was only formed recently) made two recommendations for closing the opportunity gap (elimination of suspensions and cultural responsiveness) that the first Disproportionality Task Force had made in 1978. There are many reasons why these recommendations were not implemented in the schools but they are not due to this Board's governance or oversight policy.

The Board must respond to many issues that were publicly brought to their attention such as unacceptable Basement classrooms, school site planning without adequate playground space, the closure of alternative programs, the windfall of eleven million dollars, the illegal closure of Indian Heritage School, concern by Principals about the opportunity gap, all gender bathrooms, etc. etc..........We elected this Board to "define quality education as a robust and diverse set of offerings to meet all student needs." Let's continue to encourage and support them in doing this.

Fed up mom said...

I don't know what the Schmitz Park principal said, but I can tell you how frustrating it is as a Schmitz Park parent that we received so little support from the district in helping mitigate the disaster our school's facility was. We had over 600 kids in a facility built for 275. I have a kid with medical issues, who needs to use the bathroom frequently. The school has one bathroom per gender. A stinky, overcrowded bathroom that lacks toilet paper from overuse. Did the district help us with that? Nope. Did they help us provide any extra services whatsoever, given that a fair amount of instruction time was lost shuttling kids around a facility with more portables than classrooms? Nope.

The principal sent out a letter recently expressing relief that next year when we move, we can finally focus more on educating kids rather than managing logistics. Again, I don't know what he said at the board meeting, but it was awfully frustrating that our per student funding was near the bottom in SPS while our kids were packed like sardines into that facility.

Anonymous said...

I wish Jesse was on the board. He really knows how to spend money.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/06/15/how-one-educator-transformed-act-police-brutality-force-good

Turning an act of violence into a force for good, a Seattle public school teacher who was pepper-sprayed by police announced Monday that his $100,000 settlement will be used to support students "who have demonstrated the power of activism in pursuit of racial and social justice."

Garfield High School teacher Jesse Hagopian…(more)

-McClureWatcher

Anonymous said...

It is not a "good investment" to send the money into schools?!?! Putting adults in front of children is the BEST investment we can make. But oh, what do you know, staff would like to spend that 11 million on something "long term," with, what do you know, lots of additional JSCEE staff and more job security for them. No benefit to students, mind you, but who cares so long as JSCEE doesn't have to cut its bloated staff?

I think we should spend the money on 1) mitigation when schools are going just under the line(and maybe we can let the students who want to leave go?), 2) reducing splits where schools are being forced into them this coming year, and 3) as many more adults in the building as we can pay for, especially at the high school level(gobsmacked to hear k-8's as understaffed- is that from before WSS? k-5's are significantly less staffed than k-8's now, and high schools even moreso). Counselors, specialists, classroom teachers where classes are unusually large. Yes, even if it is just for one year. That is 54,000 students for one year. 54,000 years of education. Yes, that is a good investment. There is absolutely no shiny new data collection program or canned PD that comes within 1/54,000th of that value.

-sleeper

Two worlds said...

I am aware of attrition and how that plays in the current issue with the budget providing 18, not 19 teachers. I have an incoming 5th grader at JSIS and he struggles academically so him being in an overcrowded classroom with an overwhelmed teacher is concerning

Anonymous said...

I wish we could all agree that most of the proposed uses of the "found" money aren't nearly as critical as making sure our students and staff are safe and secure at their schools. It boggles my mind that many schools have unsecured access to the school during school hours and that school administration often has no idea who is in the building. Layer on top of that many teacher's are not being able to lock their classroom doors from the inside during a lockdown, insufficient/old classroom and school wide emergency supplies, etc and our schools are softest of soft targets for anyone wanting to harm our kids. Unfortunately it will likely take a local "Sandy Hook" for us to make even the most basic changes to protect our kids.

Anonymous said...

What are the "basics?" If the district hasn't even defined the basics, how can funds be prioritized? It's concerning the $11M is being thrown out there attached to a list of random initiatives, when additional staff is needed in schools. Librarians. Counselors. Teachers.

Anonymous said...

It seems very clear to me that Seattle needs to hand over control of the district to a 3rd party, that should have already occurred because of the systemic violations of the IDEA and OSPI failures to impose any sort of meaning full compliance.

It's not clear to me if the City would be the best entity or not, but the nonsense at JSCEE must end.

I don't know if most of you realizes this, but most area corporate recruiters advise candidates with school aged children to avoid Seattle public schools.

I agree with the idea of splitting up the district in a North/South configuration, and I think the deficiencies in the South end balance the deficiencies in the North, so there would not be an equity problem with a split in that geographic.

More money would be great, except I think SPS need to demonstrate some sort for of meaningful control and accountability first. Tax payers are being squeezed and squeezed and the continued stream of bad news out of JSCEE isn't good for levies.

--Step B

seattle citizen said...

Step B - please cite your research for the claim that "most area corporate recruiters advise candidates...to avoid Seattle Public Schools." Sounds like hyperbole to me...

And what do you mean that "the deficiencies in the South end balance the deficiencies in the North, so there would not be an equity problem with a split in that geographic"? Please explain.

Anonymous said...

@ Seattle Citizen. It's true. Corporate recruiters at many of the 'name' high tech firms in town warn about the SPS reputation. Professionals moving here from other parts of the country are often shocked by the disarray in our system. They never get to experience the quality schools because they can't get past the bureaucracy. It's not a secret that recruiters who know a prospect has kids and knows the salary being offered will allow for a sizeable real estate purchase steers them to the East Side.

It's one more way that Seattle's middle class is being hollowed out. We are well on our way to being a city of wealthy or poor and not much in between.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

A few months ago, one of the Board members (Rick Burke?) posed a question on this blog, asking something along the lines of "How do you define a 'good' education for Seattle children?"

SPS does seem to enjoy change for change's sake, without seeming to clearly go in any particular direction for our students. As a parent, I find all of the change overwhelming and difficult to follow -- the new school hours, new testing, new standards, different programs, all new all the time, etc. I'm a native English speaker and I find all of this bureaucratic hoopla stressful. If I can't adequately look out for the interests of my child in the SPS system, how must ESL parents feel? Are we moving toward a 'good' education for our students? Nothing in our data on Seattle schools, or even Washington schools, suggests that we've embraced a movement toward 'good.'

If I understand what Melissa's suggesting, I think I agree with it. We need to support those programs we've said we'll support and not take on anything new. Before we can even get to a 'good' education, are our students safe in their buildings? Are our students who rely on FRPL being adequately fed with healthful foods? It seems like it will be years before SPS as a system is prepared to address the challenge of supporting the many and diverse developing minds of our students. At the very least, perhaps District leadership can work on keeping their bodies safe, while hoping that some of the teachers work on their minds.

I'm so disappointed that my child is subject to national, state, and city experiments in how to spend the least amount of money to encourage children to meet minimal standards and practice bubble-filling tests. This is no way to prepare our children to compete in a global economy, or even our national economy. We are doing a disservice to our children, our future selves, our city, and our state.

-- Resigned

Anonymous said...

How about mitigation for the implementation of smaller class sizes? Our school (built to be a 3 up) will have 5 very small k classes next year along with two HUGE 5th grade classes 33+ ... all in the name of the primary grades "have to" comply with state mandated class sizes.

N by Northwest

Anonymous said...

While schools have needs for additional staff and support, it probably doesn't make sense to use this pot of newly discovered funding for that purpose since those would be ongoing costs and this is one-time money. But haven't we heard time and time again about one-time things they don't have the money for? Like the new elementary school ELA curriculum, for which most of the proposals were more than what we had budgeted. Or the cost of long-overdue middle school math and ELA adoptions. Or the middle school HCC LA/SS curriculum that the Board required when opening JAMS as an HCC site, but for which the story has always been that there's no funding for it. To me, getting down to basics means at least having solid curricula on which to base instruction. Unfortunately, we are a mess in that regard.

Getting back to basics does not, however, mean everyone needs to be doing the same thing. Equity does not mean equality. Eliminating dual track and specialized programs doesn't create equity--rather, it creates more inequity, since fewer students are taught at a level appropriate for their needs. Equity does not mean only teaching to the middle, nor does it mean only teaching to the bottom. Equity means providing all students a reasonable opportunity to learn, while providing additional resources and support to those at the bottom in order to help raise their scores and narrow the gaps.

Half Full

Anonymous said...

"We need to support those programs we've said we'll support and not take on anything new."

The problem is, who are the "WE" that needs to support and who are the "WE" that defined the programs originally.

Do you mean "WE" as in the mob rule that attacks anything that looks traditional or doesn't seem "equitable" by some group's subjective standard?

I'm so relieved to see both director Burke and director Geary push back against the various special interest groups and their money grabs. I'm told Peters is in alignment with Burke on this.

SPED Parent2

Anonymous said...

Wynnkoop wants all schools to be like Ballard. Its programs are all open to any student and are filled by lottery it full with those on wait lists guaranteed a spot the next year.Ballard is an embarrassment of riches and every school should be as good or better. My guess is HCC is a problem for him as well as the John Stanford immersion program. They epitomize privilege, and he should know, he's got kid in HCC at Hamilton

I also think the two principals were addressing the way squeaky wheels tend to get grease @nd board members don't just represent the well educated and savvy parents.

Herb

Anonymous said...

After 9 years with kids in SPS both of our kids are out and in mid-priced private schools. We tightened our belts considerably but the difference has been remarkable. I wonder if it's possible to build a school system that serves so many different needs well. At least with the current budget. Kids come to school in very different places but they are grouped by age and marched through school in lock-step. Didn't meet our kids' needs, but since they are middle class, white and do well in school, they get pushed to the side of the classroom while more urgent needs are met. I agree those urgent needs should be met. But it does leave our kids unserved by the system. They get what they get by osmosis, but also get bored, stressed and hate going to school. One kid told me early in the school year that at the end of 2nd period she says to herself, "Well, that's school for today," because nothing in the remaining 4 periods is remotely engaging, new, or demanding. Despite having pretty good teachers in a couple of those classes and a school that touts differentiation. So disappointing. Don't know what I'd do differently, because I get the problems with grouping kids by ability, but still, we gave it a good go but finally abandoned ship, and I am so glad, tho our budget is tight.

Bye SPS

Anonymous said...

Bye SPS
Sorry you left, your schools could have used some of that private school cash.Its a decision every parent who can afford it makes, your not alone.I feel the good outweighs the bad in our experience, I think Wynnkoop was referencing exactly this privilege of being able to quit the district as actually giving more power to the middle class that the poor don't have.And the district needs the support of the middle class. HCC is a bribe to these parents to keep then in.

Herb

Anonymous said...

We are currently on the fence for middle school. We feel perhaps we will enroll our child in a private school for the next 3 years in Seattle, then move out of the district to the East-side for High school.

We were willing and tried to deal positively with all the issues in hoping to see some signs of improvement, just a glimmer of hope, but the language and actions out of the district is not equitable.

I can say that not having a decent middle school math curriculum is a big motivator to leave.

Some have said, once your child experiences a good private school is very difficult to return to Seattle public schools, is that true?

Evenston

Anonymous said...

My kids have been in private MS, after public K-5. Our intention was always to send them back to public for high school, but I'm not sure if I can stomach it, and we're unwilling to move to a different district. For us, the new charter schools are very appealing. I never thought I'd be in that camp, but here I am. SPS pushed me here.

- other team

Anonymous said...

I think I must object to your use of the term "crack house" The term is mostly used as a derogatory reference to inner city black occupied dilapidated housing. Like crack hoe is aimed at black women.

It's basically offensive and racists, please remove it.

BLMS

Catherine said...

Evenston - I took my son out of SPS for MS and then back for HS. Both were the best moves I could make for him. He'll graduate with a BSCE soon. There's great stuff happening in SPS - with all of it's hurdles. I know plenty of east side parents who are plenty unhappy with what's going on over there.

Eliza said...

Part of that $11 M should go towards hiring a management consulting firm to streamline and focus operations down at JSCEE. Get SPS administration tightened up, help them eliminate redundancies, come up with short and long term goals, develop an internal communications strategy. Team Build. Collaborate. Strategize. There are smart, good people down there scrambling and working hard, silos and stress galore. They are dealing with chronic problems, new issues, on and on, and have people coming and going continually. I imagine is difficult and frustrating for anyone to do their best work. We need administration working its best, so that they can give their best to our schools.
Liza

Jan said...

Evenston -- I concur with Catherine. I did the same thing with two kids (private MS, public Seattle high schools). I was hugely glad I did (as are both kids). They not only learned what they needed to know academically -- they had much more diverse and enriching experiences in Seattle's public high school than I think they would have gotten in any private school.

Jet City mom said...

I havent read through the thread because I am too puzzled and frustrated to do so but
What about auditing the budget and
- identifying how they could make such a mistake in the first place.( I suppose they will blame it on their software program and to correct it they will need new hardware)
- identifying where the extra money came from and
- where it should have been spent.

It reminds me of people finding an extra $100,000 that they know isnt theirs in their account, and frantically try and spend it before the bank recognizes its mistake.

Anonymous said...

To pile on a bit more...sorry. We moved one kid to a neighboring district for high school, and one kid to private for middle school and haven't looked back. We really tried to make it work, did all the volunteering, committees, etc. It's no surprise that private school is so much better academically. 18 kids per class will do that. But the other public district is amazing as well. The things we got used to as "normal" in SPS...it's not normal. All we wanted was "good enough" and SPS couldn't do it. The math, the communication from district, the changing programs, the uncertainty year after year as SPS careened from crisis to crisis: it was exhausting. Now my kids just go to school, learn, and are happy. Case closed. We can move on with our lives and we can put our energy elsewhere, into more productive endeavors.

So from the outside - it's leadership. I don't know much about Nyland, but the JSCEE should be gutted. Start all over again. I think Eliza is right about a consultant (Yes, I hate that but they need help) - pay someone from a working, similar sized urban district and have them reorg the whole district. I am even in favor of city takeover at this point - it is failed district and they can't right the ship. The kids deserve better.
-Old Timer

Anecdote said...

i wanted to see a high end -private middle school, which we could not afford. We ended-up sending our son through SPS middle school. I looked at that same school- a few years later. I was able to see that aside from small class sizes...the school didn't have that much else to offer.

I do admit that changing middle school math will go a long way. My child had CMP and we needed to get a tutor.

This thread is very negative. There are many success stories within the district. I'll take public school- warts and all- over private school. Private schools are not without their isses. I'm also glad that we have the opportunity to support the school district and make our best attempt at elevating all students.

Anecdote said...

The east side is not without their problems. At one point, I heard Bellevue had 4.5 days of school - per week.

Linh-Co said...

One of the uses proposed for the $11 million is setting $3 million dollars aside for middle school math adoption.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

This $11 million "problem" is exactly the reason we need to have the Equity Tool in front of us . . . so we don't rush into an emergency initiative and so that values guiding our decision-making process are sustainable and clear.

Principal spoke at the Board meeting the other night because we are concerned that we are at a critical juncture in this District that demands a clear lens. The Board passed the Equity policy four years ago, and if we don’t expect each other to use the Equity Tool, we will instead find ourselves scratching our heads at how great, well-meaning efforts have failed to move the needle on the achievement gap. For example, John Stanford started us down the path of a weighted budget formula that is designed to drive more dollars to the neediest schools and students. As the smart Schmitz Park parent observed, through this formula we have achieved stark differences in the per student funding available beyond the staffing standard. Adding all funds **including PTA funds** together for each school, one school received $39 per student (STEM) beyond the staffing standard, and another school received $2,557 per pupil (Madrona)(These are 2013-14 budget numbers.) Using the Equity Tool would provide accountability and would measure impact. It would make sure we are driving dollars with purpose and effect.

Last Sunday, the New York Times ran a beautiful story in the Magazine about how a middle-class African American family navigated enrollment decisions as their daughter started Kindergarten. The article cites much of the desegregation history that I lived as a kid growing up on Capitol Hill in Seattle. It returned me again to thirty years ago as the reporter cites evidence that the push to integrate our schools peaked in the Eighties. In Seattle, I know that this apparent integration was accomplished through plummeting enrollment and significant “white flight.”

The circumstances are very different now, with surging enrollment and a growing segregation into neighborhood schools. This is the reason why we need a new focus on our strategic plan to ensure a strong equity lens with everything we do. The New York Times reporter ends her story with this simple observation: “True integration, true equality, requires a surrendering of advantage, and when it comes to our own children, that can feel almost unnatural.” Lots of us do good work to cut the bureaucracy, work through budgets, adopt and implement good curriculum, ensure good teaching in every classroom. But Equity is the hard work, and the call we made as principals was that we need lots of partners in this work.

Gerrit Kischner

Anonymous said...

Gerrit,

The article in the New York Times about how the reporter wanted to find a school for her child that was just right - free, not too white and not so affluent that their middle class child would miss out on all the nice extras that kids living in poverty receive - is that the one you read?

Look, we are morally required to provide for the needs of all the children in our schools. Some kids need free lunches and extra academic supports and others do not. Nobody is arguing with that. Your error lies in believing that's going to close the achievement gap. The achievement gap is the prodict of our social and economic systems and can only be closed by changes to those systems. If this is the most important work of your career, you need to move out of education and into politics.

How often do you have the opportunity to use that equity lens at the school with the lowest poverty rate in this district?

West Seattle

Anonymous said...

Middle school math adoption would be an excellent PRACTICAL use for these funds that would benefit all the children in the district. I think a lot of these "pie in the sky" programs that dilute the service to the schools are more about facilitating the career development of the administrative officials than about serving the teachers and students in the district.

-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

My kids went private K-8 for various reasons: didn't want to take a chance on the lottery, didn't want my K bused to HCC, too much tech in schools, not enough outdoors time, school rooms were a sensory overload. The private K-8 worked really well for us. Kid #1 continued on in the private high school while Kid #2 wanted to go public for high school.

Hale has been a great experience for us. They do a good job of helping kids be successful and get into the schools they want. My kid applied to 6 schools and was accepted to 5. Friends have all had similar experiences, even the HCC kid who got a perfect ACT score liked going to Hale. I think all the public high schools in Seattle have something to offer and that your kid can get a good education and thrive there. The only thing that would make me consider private high school now is the proposed trimester mess coming.

HP

Anonymous said...

"The achievement gap is the prodict(sic) of our social and economic systems and can only be closed by changes to those systems."

Schools are part and parcel of our "social and economic systems".

As Horace Mann wrote:
"Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery."

Person who signed "West Seattle"; your views are fortunately not shared by district staff and hopefully rejected by the Board as well.

The district is truly at a crossroads and the two principals are letting the Board know that if they fail to protect the most vulnerable, those who parents don't attend meetings, join taskforci, donate money, volunteer, testify at meetings, organize protests, email directors and staff, can afford private ability testing for the HCC program, afford tutors, afford private camps, afford nice clothes, kids who will never have to work while attending school, kids who get a ride when they need it, kids from stable homes, economically and/or emotionally...if the Board doesn't weigh the needs of needs of these kids exactly as much as those with the ways and means, yes, the city will step in and enforce equity.

The principals and staff don't want that but the Board is sending some signals that the squeaky wheels are getting the grease. John Stanford School is in fact a boutique school. Take a tour and then go a couple blocks to BF Day. Go on a Hamilton tour and compare the HCC classrooms to the GenEd rooms.

I'd like to suggest you and the Board study up on equity issues regarding education.

Flying Insect

Anonymous said...

It's telling that this discussion of privilege and equity has anecdote after anecdote about attending private schools!

Irony Supreme

Watching said...

Mr. Kischner,

Thanks for stopping by. I don't know what you mean by: "Using the Equity Tool would provide accountability and would measure impact." Can you be more specific regarding the "Equity Tool" and "measurable" results?

Professor Wayne Au recently wrote a piece. He makes an interesting comment related to middle class African American students leaving the district and the impact on test scores:

http://www.seattleglobalist.com/2016/06/16/wayne-au-seattle-education-inequities/52596

Growing enrollment means increased funds, but we are also looking at a levy cliff involving $70M. Are we looking another non-sustainable initiative? I am not confident that Seattle will loose $70M, but I think we will get hard. In addition to loss of funding, I feel Seattle will see increased taxes- which will create housing emergencies for low income families which will increase disparity.

I share SPS parents concern. We have a legislature passing unfunded mandates such as limiting out of school suspensions, but have not given districts resources to deal with this situation. There is a teacher saying that all of the mandates has not helped him deal with a workload of 1:150 students.





Sam said...

".if the Board doesn't weigh the needs of needs of these kids exactly as much as those with the ways and means, yes, the city will step in and enforce equity."

Are you talking about the district providing prek to 1600 students, lowering class sizes for K-3, attempting to create a 24 credit option and creating an office to support AA males?

Anonymous said...

I think I was pretty clear. Parents who have some or all of the following: the ability, means, savvy, connections, education, time, money, language ability, in other words, privilege, should not have one iota more influence than parents who don't have any of these things. Board members are not Chicago aldermen, they should not hand out favors to their wealthy and noisy constituents. They are tasked with representing ALL students. They don't hear from all parents, they need to understand why and need to find out what these "invisible" students need, because they hear loud and clear what the privileged students need.

FI

Sam said...

Does FI think that the board did not attend the mayor's conference? Does FI not think the board is not aware of legislative mandates to support low income students? Does FI think the board should ignore the needs of deaf and hearing impaired?

In terms of the city stepping-in, one should note that their use of test scores, data informed instruction and Arne Duncan approach to education hasn't moved the needle. If you think the city can do a better job- good luck. One does not need to look beyond Murray's housing and building policies. Beacon Hill just told Murray that he is not welcome at their party:

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/06/16/24223975/block-party-at-the-station-just-politely-told-the-mayor-to-piss-off

Anonymous said...

Go on a Hamilton tour and compare the HCC classrooms to the GenEd rooms.

@ Flying Insect, Huh? What's the supposed difference? Are the walls in the GE classrooms falling down, while the students in the HCC classrooms sit at gold desks? Do the HCC students have some amazing and awesome curriculum compared to what GE has? (Oh, wait, HCC doesn't have a curriculum...) We know the HCC classrooms aren't any less overcrowded, so it's not that... What exactly makes HCC "boutique"?

And do tell--what are these "signals" the Board is sending that squeaky wheels are getting the grease? (Did you miss Sam's point? Those new efforts are directed toward the very groups you want to protect--so maybe your "invisible" students and their families and advocates are the real squeaky wheels here, the ones getting the district's attention and resources?)

HF

Sam said...

As an aside, FI, those same people for which you show disdain are the same individuals that support an $1B levy to cover operational and building costs. They also provided the city with $232M levy funding for low income schools.

This may get interesting. You, the principals, Ed Murray and anyone else is free to run for school board.

Anonymous said...

The district and board make every effort to engage parents from underrepresented groups, including inviting them to meetings, requesting that they participate on taskforci(sic), etc. When that participation does not occur they continue to make decisions based heavily on the needs of children living in poverty.

JSIS is an option school. Are you seriously suggesting that we shouldn't have an option school unless poor families are as likely to choose it as affluent familes? How would sending those children back to their neighborhood schools benefit anyone?

I don't have time to tour HIMS. Please tell us what the district provides in HCC classooms that is not also available in gen ed classrooms.

Everyone who pays any attention to education issues is aware of the disproportionate educational outcomes for poor children. Studying the issue hasn't changed anything. Helping their families is the solution.

As for anecdotes about private schools, what do you expect? If the district follows Blanford's lead and chooses as a matter of policy to ignore the educational needs of our children, of course we will leave if we can. Providing an education that prepares children for adulthood is a responsibility parents should take very seriously. Do you think a district run by the mayor that serves only poor children will produce better results for them?

West Seattle

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kischner, Thank you for commenting here. I agree that we should be "driving dollars with purpose and effect," but I'm concerned that the only effect many seem to see as valid is the reduction/elimination of the achievement gap. If the primary purpose is to reduce the gap, the most obvious solution is to simply stop educating students who are performing above average. If we can tamp down their progress, others can more easily catch up. (As a bonus, making advanced students just stay home would help with capacity problems!)

Does that sound like a plan you could support? Elimination of dual tracks does essentially the same thing--it denies advanced students the opportunity to learn and progress. Is that what is meant by the quote in the article, that “true integration, true equality, requires a surrendering of advantage?"

If HCC were more racially diverse, would two tracks still be problematic in your eyes? After all, that's not "equal." Should resources only go toward programs for struggling students, while the rest sit idly by?

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

The New York Times reporter ends her story with this simple observation: “True integration, true equality, requires a surrendering of advantage, and when it comes to our own children, that can feel almost unnatural.”

Do people really believe that parents are going to sacrifice their own kids' educational experience in favor of some kind of "equity" based social engineering? No wonder people move to private schools or the suburbs.

Good Grief

Anonymous said...

Where is the Equity Tool Kirshner references? Is it a spreadsheet? A written philosophy? I would like to read it. Others may too.

blog reader

Anonymous said...

Didn't anyone read The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools? Wasn't the moral of that story that Zuckerburg's $100 million, which went to the central offices of Newark PS and had close to zero effect, would have had a much higher chance of having an impact if it went to support services within the actual schools?

Please give that money to the schools. Don't let it go to central admin.

-NW Mom

Anonymous said...

All this talk about lack of funding is BS. The 2015/16 Seattle Schools budget was the following (from the SPS web site):

Operating expenditures $753M
Capital expenditures $294M
Total expenditures $1047M
Student population 52324

Operating expenditure per student $14391
Total expenditure per student ~$20000

I've got one kid at middle school in SPS and another in the local Catholic school because I didn't like the elementary reference school we would have been forced to attend. The unsubsidized tuition at the Catholic elementary school is less than $9,000/year. The quality of the educational experience at the Catholic school is better than the neighborhood public school at less than half the cost.

SPS needs to quit whining about budget shortfalls and get serious about cutting central overhead functions to send more money to the schools.

Good Grief

Historian said...

I'm not sure what Wynkoop is advocating for- or against-, but it wasn't that long ago when he made the Seattle Times for misappropriating special education funds.

Robert Cruickshank said...

I was just going to post the same link that Watching did - Wayne Au is making a very important point here. Kirshner said this: "Using the Equity Tool would provide accountability and would measure impact. It would make sure we are driving dollars with purpose and effect."

But that doesn't sound like an Equity Tool. It sounds like focusing on test scores, and that's not how we will achieve equity. I agree with others who call for this tool to be made public. Equity is too important of a goal to be done in secret, in private, without SPS central staff being accountable for the decisions they make.

Kirshner also sounds like he's buying into a mindset that says kids and schools have to fight with each other for money. That's wrong. We need to fight in the legislature for more funding so we don't have to make these Sophie's choices. The choice isn't between schools and kids, it's whether we tax the rich and the corporations so we don't have to pit kids and schools against each other.

Anonymous said...

The problem as I see it is, "Equity" is code for "only students of color". It seems parents of the other distinctions have grow weary or even resentful of equity programs that don't seem to be achieving the desired effect and are driving up cost and diluting other programs.

Is this a strategy for charter school mass adoption? It seems to be working to that effect.

Please stop the labels and distinctions.

Go Rick

Lynn said...

Here's the racial equity analysis tool: https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/equity_race/racial_equity_analysis_tool.pdf

Outsider said...

FI's comments, with their zero-sum thinking, are very informative and worth reading closely. What are those terrible loudly squeaking "privileged" parents asking for? I bet it's challenging work that fully develops the human potential of their children. Outrageous. No way that should happen. Good to know SPS principals are resolute in fighting off those requests; now if only the Board would stop listening too.

And what would the silent, ignored, unprivileged parents ask for if they weren't being silenced? What is being denied to them? Those questions have no answer; never do, never will.

Jet City mom said...

I know it is a relatively small issue, but Wynkoop is causing a good deal of consternation in the immediate neighborhood regarding his attitude toward the limited parking spaces in the shared lot and surrounding streets.
His attitude is that teachers & students may park anywhere they see fit, despite city signs stating otherwise, and despite polite requests from neighbors and pool manager.
Some of his students have even threatened senior citizens using the pool for water therapy, because they know the principal will not intervene. ( I witnessed this personally, it was mostly posturing, but an indication of the behavior of some of the students)
Causing bad blood in the community, because these folks are members of local organizations like Eagles & Elks and they share their opinions widely.
Wynkoop is a bully.

Anonymous said...

What seems lacking in the Equity Analysis Tool is a consideration of unintended consequences that lower the baseline for all students. Take the 3x5 proposal, for example: it is intended to provide more credit opportunities, but it reduces the time for every single course for every single student. I suppose it's "equitable" in that it doesn't disproportionately impact the time for one given course over another - it takes away from all courses equally. It's just equally bad for all students. How does the Equity Analysis Tool account for that?

-my 2cents

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Beacon Hill need a new play structure? Because central admin told them they their old play structure was unsafe and had to come down, but they couldn't afford to buy these elementary kids a new set of monkey bars? Make sure all of SPS elementary schools have play structures. Buy Beacon Hill a new set of monkey bars.

Give the money to the schools.

-NW Mom

Robert Cruickshank said...

Thanks for sharing that Equity Analysis Tool. Glad to see there is something public that we can review. It does seem to have some concerning elements, particularly a vague reference to "measurable outcomes." Read in light of Wayne Au's article, this could actually reinforce inequities and make them worse if, as I suspect, the stuff being measured is test scores. It may be worth revisiting the Equity Analysis Tool to make it more effective and more equitable.

Anonymous said...

@Good Grief, to be fair, as good as some Catholic schools may be, very few are able to serve students on the extremes of the curve. Students that require more supports (and $) are unlikely to be served in a Catholic school. While the average per student may be $20,000 overall, the budgeted average at some schools, like Cascadia, comes closer to the Catholic school tuition you pay. And what happens when a private school needs to make repairs or build an addition? They have a building fund campaign where parents contribute funds above and beyond their tuition payments. And it doesn't stop there - alumni are asked to contribute to the annual school fund. The private school tuition you pay most likely does not cover the full cost of education.

Could SPS do better? Absolutely! But let's be honest about the different student populations being served and what tuition actually covers.

-truth-o-meter

Anonymous said...

I've been on a Hamilton tour as we were looking at Middle School options as parents of an HC student. I saw an HC science full of bustling excited 6th or 7th graders. I saw a gen-ed SS or LA class where kids were slouched in their seats texting.
Decided on assignment MS.
Blended classes but some intentionality in class roster assignment, I think. Differentiation - effective. Grades being pretty arbitrary in MS, the teachers can require more and better work from more able students whilst still giving hard working but not highly capable students top marks as well. It's a very unifying experience and socio-emotional or as we used to call them, interpersonal, skills are emphasized. Lots of really good sex ed, they don't want any guys like that Stanford creep, they nip that perspective off at the bud. So, ya, it would be nice to have the young one in a gifted classroom but IOHO, the ability to work with others of all academic levels is a good skill. Young one may be a scientist and not work with any one but the same, or be an engineer and work with only engineers, and I'm fine with that, but when junior year high school rolls around,who knows which way kiddo's going. Music, singing, drama, literature, French, math, writing, teaching,business,politics? I don't know but I want above all kiddo confident and as well adjusted as possible. So middle school's all good and I'm with Wynnkoop, dual track and boutiques are not fair, or as we say now, the E word.

I go to the Ballard Pool quite often and parking is a real problem. From what I understand from pool staff the students are not allowed to use the school lot and the pool only parking is for pool goers only. If there's no pool parking, it's tough to find a spot on the street, but possible. I've never interacted with any kids but if you have a problem in the lot, they installed security cameras down on the gym wall after their big lock-down in the fall. They can review the footage and if the principal won't act, I'd email downtown.

lap swimmer

Anonymous said...

How did Ballard resolve the SpEd fund mixing, I remember it was mentioned on the blog several times? I can't find news article.

Thanks, Interbay parent

checking in said...

I'm reading a consensus that an inflated downtown is the problem and I sure agree a tired superintendent isn't going to change anything.

My years of teaching has taught me, however, that first gen ELL kids have parents who generally do not rock the boat. They are respectful of educators and almost never complain. They trust the system. First gen kids are taught to respect teachers and do get a lot of academic encouragement at home in the form of demanding that kids do what teachers ask, work hard and finish homework. There is a strong educational ethic among ELL families. That has been my experience with African (many different regions) and Hispanic families.

I think the district is too large. Dividing it shouldn't be decided by financial reasons. Smaller districts are often more streamlined and financially do better with less.

Finally, putting the district in the hands of a third party solves no problems. What makes anyone think the mayor or any other individual or organization can do any better? Yes, leadership is important - crucial - but what expertise does the city bring to education? That's a non-starter to me. Eliza may be on to something. Redundancy is probably epidemic and a good management firm might be the best thing we could do.

BTW, all these high management salaries started in the nineties. I see no reason we can't give a younger candidate for superintendent a chance to show his stuff. Someone with fresh eyes and a fresh vision and a mandate to not hold hallow turf now held by incumbents. I call this the Bernie method.

Anonymous said...

@ my 2cents, I have to disagree that the 3x5 plan is equitable. It's actually has a potentially much greater negative impact on students taking AP or IB classes.

If AP/IB classes are scheduled to be two trimesters long, these students lose a lot of hours of instruction they need to do well on the exams. While regular classes can just be stripped down and not cover as much--effectively becoming "lite" versions of what they currently are--AP/IB classes can't be similarly scaled back. Additionally, because of the timing of these exams, AP/IB courses will need to occur during the first two trimesters, leaving the third trimester as a kind of academic wasteland, filled primarily with single-term electives. Taking year-long electives like music thus becomes much less possible for kids taking rigorous college prep schedules.

If AP/IB classes are scheduled to be three trimesters long, as is apparently the case in most districts/schools on this schedule, the inequity is even greater. On top of the issues above, proportionately more of your schedule is taken up by "core" classes. Whereas a "year" of math might use up 1 credit for a GE or honors student, a year of AP-level math would use up 1.5 credits. If you take a lot of AP classes, you have to give up electives. Other students don't have to make that trade-off. And remember, for highly capable students, access to challenging courses is basic education.

DTM

No 3x5 said...

Adding onto DTM's good points, there are a few other ways 3x5 isn't equitable.
1. Those AP/IB classes have to fill the Fall & Winter spots on the schedule, so a disproportionate number of gen ed students get the less desirable Fall/Spring or Winter/Spring schedule for academic classes. The kids who need continuity the most are the ones more likely to have a gap of 3 to 6 months in between academic classes.
2. Lost class time due to illness or family responsibility has a greater impact.
3. It becomes difficult to transition into and out of district. This places an unfair burden on students with less secure housing.
4. Inequity across districts: 24 credits in SPS will not be the class-time equivalent of 24 credits from another district.

@lap swimmer, giving up engagement in the name of fairness and equity should not be the goal of education. Engaging education is not elitist -- it's something we all want for every kid.

Anonymous said...

"I think the district is too large. Dividing it shouldn't be decided by financial reasons. Smaller districts are often more streamlined and financially do better with less."

Seattle is considered a medium size urban district. In Florida SPS would come in around 15th place for size. Florida's largest district has around 360,000 students.

There must be some other systemic issue besides size that is causing low performance and poor graduation rates in Seattle. Some have suggested that Seattle has too many irons in the fire or too much turnover of critical staff.

There are those who blame the poor numbers on private school attendance, because of the negative effect the larger population of disadvantaged poorer performing students can have on a district. I don't think it's true, because Seattle's private school attendance rate is only around 17 - 22% not even in the top 50 of all urban districts.

I have yet to see a well thought out explanation articulated by any pundit backed by supporting data as to why Seattle struggles year after year and program change after program change.

It's probably time to seek solutions outside of the usual professional educator circles without delay, because we can't keep spending at this rate.

CPA

Eliza said...

We can give the kids who need more, more, without it meaning taking from kids who don't need as much. Do we need more funding? Absolutely. But we also can take a step back and assess how to work smarter instead of harder to meet the needs of every child. This isn't about HCC kids *or* ELL kids, etc. They are ALL entitled to a free and appropriate public education. That does mean that a child who is doing well in school won't get as much attention as as child who is struggling, and that has to be ok. No child is entitled to a customized, personalized public education designed solely for them to reach their maximum possible ability. We can't let perfect be the enemy of good. It's ok if a super bright, happy child is a little bored sometimes because there is another child in their class who needs more support. Engaging education for every child? Absolutely. Engaging education at every moment for each child? Not possible, and not basic education.

Inequity is everywhere, but it's not as simple as "rich" schools and "poor" schools. Some of the higher scoring elementaries have the lowest *individual* scores in the district because there's no reading or math specialist to spend time with a kid who is an outlier and falling behind, and not on an IEP. So you have 90% of students in a classroom performing at or above grade level, and one or two kids who will need a parent/guardian to step in or hire a private tutor or come up with something that isn't available at school, if they can. Pitting the district against itself by North/South, is it overlooks these kids, ignores schools like Northgate and Viewlands that are North but are not like their neighboring schools, and dismisses all the students and educators in south-end schools as less-than.

We all need nurses, because every child's physical health is important. We all need counselors because every child's social/emotional/behavioral health is important (in every school - stress and trauma don't discriminate by race or income). We need Family Support Workers to connect families in need with services because every child needs to be fed, clothed, and housed. We need educators who are culturally responsive and trauma and special needs competent, because every child needs to know that they are valued and capable. Basic human needs have to be addressed or everything else is a complete waste; kids who are hungry, housing-insecure, emotionally insecure or feel like they aren't capable are not ready to learn.

We need administrators at the building and central level who talk to each other, work together, who know kids have different needs and schools have different needs, who know that success and achievement are not always evident in tidy ways, and who do all they can to support the educators in the classrooms. Communication strategies (internal and external) and trouble-shooting/problem-solving procedures need to be clarified and followed. Just like there should be at least one adult in every building that each child has a relationship with and feels comfortable going to for support, the administrators need to know they are supported by their colleagues, and need to know who they should talk to about what. We need to work from the bottom-up by listening to educators about their students and classrooms, and at the same time work top-down to create a better company culture and a structure that enables collaboration and efficient communication. $2-3M for a year of a top-notch consultancy team to clean house, get things organized, and let everyone who can do the work go forward together in addressing the other issues, get rid of or reassign anyone who can't, and solve systemic problems so that staff can actually DO something about the day-to-day issues in running a school district. And parents need to be supportive, patient, and do what they can to help at their schools, for other schools, and for the bigger picture. There's no easy fix after so many years of underfunding and turnover.
-Liza Rankin

Anonymous said...

"There's no easy fix after so many years of underfunding and turnover."

I don't think there's any evidence of underfunding in Seattle. If there's underfunding it's self inflicted, caused by spinning up endless special interest programs. Programs that never seem to work out.

Turnover is easily mitigated by having well design and adhered to policies and procedures. Start with a clear and achievable vision statement and build out from there. It's your lighthouse in the SPS fog bank!

CPA

Sam said...

FRL, ELL and special ed. students make-up 51% of SPS's population. Does Wynkoop and his buddies care to define 'equity'. Are FRL students in schools with 24% FRL population not deserving of additional supports/

The district provides transportation to homeless and transient students to assure they aren't moved from school to school. As i recall, these are substantial costs.

I read the equity document and it is clear as mud. We did hear Wynkoop rail against dual pathways and "boutique" schools. I suspect some want to dismantle HCC, language immersion and other 'boutique' schools. Are we seeing another push towards standardization.

To CPA's point; The district has a strategic plan.

checking in said...

Thanks, accountant, for pointing out that there are larger school districts than Seattle's. Now, tell me about the health of those districts. New York's has a lot of problems from what I read. How about Florida? Even California? Are they really doing better? Do you have that information? Does anyone know of a report card or comparison for school districts nationally?

checking in said...

Sorry, CPA, I wasn't trying to be disrespectful. My brain turned CPA into accountant. My apologies.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between underfunding and misappropriation. SPS suffers from the latter...

--WedgwoodDad

Anonymous said...

Interesting, considering the negative comments, that the school ranking website Niche has SPS at #9 on its top 20 districts in WA, ahead of Northshore and right behind Shoreline.

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Seattle-s-best-school-districts-ranked-6652851.php#photo-5049046


Hyperbole Much?

Anonymous said...

"And what would the silent, ignored, unprivileged parents ask for if they weren't being silenced? What is being denied to them?"

That is mean and uncalled for and sounds like something Donald Trump would spout, in my opinion. Do the moderators ever chastise posters for belittling children and their parents?

Nooch

Jet City mom said...

Lap swimmer, I go to the pool 4x a week at the same time the students are going to lunch.
They use both the pool parking and the high school lot, I see them leave and return.
There is not street parking because of recent construction. 15th for instance was blocked off next to the curb north of 65th.
There are also only two disabled spaces in the pool parking and two in the high school lots and they are always filled.
At least during the times I go.
Additionlly housing has been built in immediate area that doesnt include parking.
It seems like Murray has been the mayor for ever!
He wants everyone to just ride a bike.

Anonymous said...

Hard to say what Wynkoop is really getting at. Boutique schools? I too suspect he's angling (with some cause) against multiple pathways and small schools that primarily serve relatively affluent students. BUT - at Ballard High School - there are also pathways, with special ed students stuck getting the rawest deal. They're stuck in tracked education, but only after their funding is stripped away and given to general education. Most special education students sit in general education classes that are are 50% disabled at Ballard, and often taught by a special education "dual-certified" teacher. This arrangement puts a special educator in front of classes of regular ed students, but is billed to special ed. Somehow this still goes on. Some lre. And, BHS has it's own Boutiques, the so-called academies. No disabled kids there. (or very few). Why? Because there is no special education support there. Ever see a student with a disability in a lab science class beyond biology? Nope. There's no modified offerings there. That's a boutique if I've ever heard of one. And, for the principal of the whitest high school in Seattle to complain about other schools separated pathways - well, it falls a little flat.

What I can agree with - multiple types of education, available to students of all abilities and backgrounds, with the support they need. If that's Wynkoop's message, great. He has a long way to go in walking the walk though, at his own school. A very long way.

Walk the Walk

RunForOffice said...

Wynkoop's disdain for the board was palpable. He looked like a fool.

RunForOffice said...

The families of deaf and hard of hearing highlighted the fact that many students are not having their needs met.

Anonymous said...

What makes a program or service "boutique"? Are special ed services boutique, since they are specialized and only accessible to those who qualify? Are ELL services boutique?

How about IB programs? Montessori schools? STEM schools? International schools? Schools that have exceptional music programs? Nathan Hale's "academies"? High schools that offer on-site skills center programs (open to all in theory, but not realistically accessible for many)?

Are we to the point where any specialized service targeted to a particular population or particular need gets denigrated? Do we really want every school to offer the exact same thing to all students, whether or not it's appropriate?

Do the principals who complained about dual tracks really think that all students can be well-served by a single curriculum, offered at a standard level and pace? While it might make there jobs easier (in the short run) to have a one-size-fits-all approach, the fact of the matter is that one size doesn't fit all (and isn't legal). Are they so out of touch with the needs of their students that they fail to see that?

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

BT-- Years ago I spoke to a policy guy who worked for OSPI who had studied issues in Seattle related to funding. He stated that Seattle should indeed be broken into two or more smaller districts. There have been many problems stemming from Seattle being too big combined with decline of state funding. We had been seeking (at the time) to apply for federal grant money for Seattle. We were not able to qualify via the federal formula as the district as a whole was too affluent. However, many schools within Seattle desperately could have used the funding.

Charlie-- HCC is considered special ed in many places and where I grew up. It would not be considered a "boutique" program in most places.

TS

Anonymous said...

TS, you are flat wrong. However special HCC is, it is not "special education" which is defined under IDEA - all over the country. Special education is explicitly defined in the law. Sec 300.3:


Sec. 300.39 Special education.


(a) General.

(1) Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including--


Lots of people think that they have the same entitlements granted students with disabilities because they are "special" in some way. Not really. Just because the state defines gifted ed as part of "general ed" means close to nothing, other than "yeah we'll serve you." That's not individualized services, it's not IEPs, it's not FAPE, etc. Bottom line, HCC is not special education. Neither is ELL, but nobody goes out of their way to link that to special education and its entitlements.

(By the way, if HCC were special education - it would need to be cancelled since the goal of special education is least restrictive environment and education with non-HCC'ed peers to the maximum extent possible. That would be the opposite of HCC.)

Speddie

Anonymous said...

DisAPPointed makes an excellent argument. Specialized programs bring in families who may not otherwise consider SPS. Our sons attended the Biotech Academy at Ballard and the Center School. Were these schools right for every student? No, but they were a good fit for our sons and they allowed us to save for college instead of paying for private schools.

Dismissing these schools as boutique, too white, or elitist doesn’t help anybody. Certainly Wynkoop should know better.

S parent

Anonymous said...

That's not true, speddie. There are many states(13) where gifted students have iep's, and those states, just like ours, uses researched based best practice self contained classrooms to provide the service, and they also generally continue ththroughigh school, often in the form of magnet, application only high schools. That is considered the gifted students' LRE.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Speddie--

Not correct. Please read this link. https://www.cec.sped.org/Policy-and-Advocacy/Current-Sped-Gifted-Issues/Individuals-with-Disabilities-Education-Act

IDEA and its relation to kids with diabilites/giftedness.

From this site: IDEA Resources:

CEC Releases Fiscal Year 2015 Federal Outlook for Exceptional Children
CEC’s 2013 Federal Outlook for Exceptional Children provides budgetary recommendations for funding programs for the United States' seven million children with disabilities and/or giftedness. The Federal Outlook is designed to explain to lawmakers and their staff the critical need for funding programs for children with disabilities and/or giftedness. Contributions made by special educators and school districts help put a human touch on these abstract concepts.

JB

Anonymous said...

As a rule, I don’t think it’s helpful for District employees to engage on this Blog, but the reason I thought it was important for me to “drop by” was because Melissa named me specifically. I stand by my testimony to the Board, and that is why I noted that it was the first time I have been moved to use that avenue to communicate with the Board in thirty years.

West Seattle is right that the principals’ call for applying an equity lens at every decision-making level in the District is a political stand. Great educational philosophers from Rousseau to Dewey to Freire have all started from a fundamental premise that education is a political act. Who learns to read, what they read, who learns to read what, who decides? We can pretend that these are simple decisions about phonics and arithmetic, but our answers for each generation of children carry massive political consequences.

I have taught around the world and know well that in other large democracies, every middle class family who can scrape together any amount of private school tuition for their children makes that their number one priority. The next thing they do is build walls with shards of glass on top and hire private security guards to protect them. The more we coopt our public school system to aid in separating kids in the name of “families doing what’s best for their children,” the further we will go down this same Third World path. This isn't to say we should have one homogeneous answer for all kids, it's just to say that when we customize and separate we need to be very clear about why we are doing it and what the implications are for the system as a whole.

West Seattle is also right that Schmitz Park has a low poverty rate. In fact, it’s not the lowest in region. That honor goes to . . . wait for it . . . the school with the separate HCC track, Fairmount Park. West Seattle questions what business the principal of a school with a lower poverty rate has in advocating for an equity lens. My answer is that this is exactly the reason why principals like myself stepped forward, that until we can start thinking systemically about how the decisions for one school and one group of children affects our ability educate another group of children, we will continue to fight among ourselves and feed the dysfunction. The Equity Tool is only as good as we make it, but we have to start this conversation with some tangible protocol so that our values and practice are transparent and we can work them out together. That is why I’m signing on and signing my name.

Gerrit Kischner

Anonymous said...

Re: CPA "I don't think there's any evidence of underfunding in Seattle."

The Washington State Supreme Court has a completely different opinion on this matter.

Re: WedgwoodDad "There is a difference between underfunding and misappropriation. SPS suffers from the latter..."

I understand and agree with the distinction you make but I believe SPS suffers from both underfunding (from the State) and misappropriation (at the local District office).
The challenge at hand is to advocate for and work towards correcting both issues. Fixing one alone will not solve the entire problem.

-Mark

Anonymous said...

Gerrit, Thank you for taking a moment to explain your thinking. Not all will agree with you and others will want to keep debating you, which is not something you are obliged to do, as from what I can tell you have made a statement of philosophy, not the opening to a long public dialogue. That is OK.

What seems important to me is that you attempted an open and honest - from your viewpoint - look at the state of affairs. Rarely do SPS administrators, by which I mean from principals on up through the JSCEE food chain, do so. If more did so, this community and our school system would be better served. Even if the conversations were painful. This is tough, complicated stuff. If you would encourage your fellow administrators to follow your example we might finally make progress in SPS. Hunkering down behind school or JSCEE walls is not leadership.

My personal thought on the equity lens is that SPS would be better-served with a lens based on family economic status than of race. Race in my view is a second lens, and one which tends to be less predictive of academic achievement (graduation from high school, college or career success) if a family's economic means are above the poverty and low middle class threshold. For a variety of reasons it also seems a more unifying way to look at the disadvantages that students may have. Students with paltry economic resources, who have no access to academic supplementation and enrichment outside the under-resourced classroom, no matter what school they are in, need *individual, wraparound, intensive attention from PreK through HS. These students exist in all of our schools and exist come from all racial backgrounds. "White Privileged" are two different categories and too often the school system puts them together, which is not a helpful way to enlist communities across Seattle to pull together for our public schools, especially in a city that is whiter than most. And especially in a city where the middle class is being lost at an astonishing rate.

Discussions of race is highly important, don't get me wrong. But if SPS looks at class first and makes sure that general ed, special ed and gifted ed kids without means are getting extra resources, the future of the full city will be much better. As you might guess, yes I believe this will take a tighter partnership with the city than we have now, and no I do not think the current Families and Education levy is the best possible model, nor do I believe a city takeover of the schools is necessary to achieve a tighter relationship. Political egos and education silos, however, both need to go by the wayside. Your attempt to communicate is one example of how to do better from within SPS.

EdVoter

Po3 said...

1) Fund all three IB programs for three years. That is equitable to the three IB programs across the district.

2) Set aside $3 million for a new middle school math curriculum and then direct the staff to get on the adoption process. That is equitable for every student in SPS as every student in SPS has to go to middle school.

3) Let the uncommitted funds stay uncommitted for the time being and direct the staff to come up with ideas that put the money into the schools and demonstrate a clear advantage to the students.

At least SOMETHING would have been accomplished...geez

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gerrit Kishner, for your thoughtful advocacy and honesty. Where is this Equity Lens tool? And, how do we use it? I hope that it includes a mechanism for obtaining equity for students with disabilities - and inclusion for them in school communities as deeply as possible, and in all schools. I'm sure you know that the district's centralized special ed management team is an endless revolving door of people who mostly know close to nothing about students with disabilities, care nothing about their lives or their families, and rarely make thoughtful decisions regarding special education. I hope principals will include students with disabilities in the Equity Lens when they advocate for systemic growth. To be quite clear - students with disabilities are disproportionately represented in nearly every category that an Equity Lens would cover: racial disparity, poverty rates, school participation rates, afterschool activity participation rates, test score achievement, graduation, post high school employment and independence. The district will never be "equitable", by any measure, if it doesn't do something about special education.

Speddie

Anonymous said...

Where did the State court say SPS at 1 billion dollars a year was underfunded ? I can't seem to find those words in any ruling or comment by the court.

I think you are confusing over all State funding with deep pocket districts.

I think the funding discussion was around providing a more stable state wide funding model with less reliance on local tax levies.

At 1 billion per year and 52K students that's just south of $20K a year per student for SPS. Many Washington districts squeak by on much less than $6K per student.

I think in the end we are going to see some sort of funding with a set state base amount and a possibility of a COLA for teachers working in COL districts and that will mean much less funding for Seattle public schools, because our excess will need to go to the state to fund truly needy districts.

CPA

checking in said...

"...other large democracies, every middle class family who can scrape together any amount of private school tuition for their children makes that their number one priority. The next thing they do is build walls with shards of glass on top and hire private security guards to protect them."

Then, "...The more we coopt our public school system to aid in separating kids in the name of “families doing what’s best for their children,” the further we will go down this same Third World path."

That confuses me a little. These "large democracies" are third-world societies? Can you be more specific in naming first-world countries where things are working better and what they are doing to preserve public education? I wish I knew more about Canada's system.

Anonymous said...

Speddie, we all know SPED is not going to be included in the "Equity Lens tool"

The marching orders have already been set in stone and although special education is tacked on at the end of their list, there is no substance or description in the vision describing how SPS will meet the needs of SPED.

It's just a load of BS....again.

SPED Parent

Lynn said...

Gerrit is mistaken.

2014-15 FARMS rate:

Fairmount Park 12.7%
Schmitz Park 9.3%

Outsider said...

Liza Rankin says: "No child is entitled to a customized, personalized public education designed solely for them to reach their maximum possible ability."

I am not an expert, but that strikes me as not a bad statement of what special ed or disabled students are indeed entitled to by law. Have I got that wrong? The entitlement is written into law for special ed students because for them it's more complicated and costly to achieve, and school systems would be sorely tempted to not do it without some compulsion. But the fact that it's law for special ed -- does that somehow imply that the same entitlement should be withheld from the non-special?

Ms. Rankin states it in an extreme form ("solely"? what does that mean) perhaps to make it sound ridiculous or impractical, but it's not. Customizing and personalizing education is not difficult. My public school teachers way back when, in plain vanilla schools, had no problem doing it. And that was before anyone ever heard of the internet or computers in the classroom. SPS doesn't do it because they choose not to. Apparently because it doesn't suit their social engineering goals.

Gerrit Kishner advocates that we "start thinking systemically about how the decisions for one school and one group of children affects our ability educate another group of children." That would be great. But after a year of reading this blog, and the press, I haven't seen a single honest word written about that subject. I would love to see some. It would be great if every time the equity tool were used to make a decision, the completed form had to be posted on the SPS public website, so we can see what this all actually means.

We are supposed to believe that fully educating Student A will somehow stop Student B from learning, or that denying learning opportunities to Student A will somehow make Student B learn better. But it's always perfectly abstract and vague. No examples are ever cited. No one ever explains the supposed transmission mechanism for these effects. After a long time of reading and pondering, I have come to suspect that it's never explained because it's not real. The transmission mechanisms are not detailed because they don't exist. No one in SPS even thinks they exist. This whole vague, content-free way of talking is just misdirection, and the social engineering mission of the schools could be more accurately explained in a totally different way. But that's admittedly just guessing. I am happy to be proven wrong.

checking in said...

Gerrick, isn't our problem bigger than education? Isn't it societal in that our wealth polarity has become unsustainable for the middle and lower classes? Our dive to third world status hasn't been a result of our educational policies. Our educational policies are a result of our underfunded common good. Seems to me your use of the equity tool (if i understand it correctly) will drive families to exactly your concern by moving middle class students to private schools.

Am I just too obtuse to get it? It won't have been the first time. (smile) This is a smart blog and often smarter than me.

checking in said...

Another apology: Gerrit not Gerrick. I need glasses - and actually, I really do. I'm looking at a fuzzy screen.

Anonymous said...

Outside- "maximizing" a person's individual achievement - is absolutely not an entitlement by a student with disability under IDEA. IDEA was enacted because of great discrimination against people with disabilities to provide a floor of opportunity. Floor, not ceiling. In the 70's, students with disabilities weren't entitled to go to school at all. Now, they get a "floor of opportunity". That's not my interpretation - the courts have found that. Board of Ed v Rowley. And if you spend any time with special ed people in SPS they will remind you - we don't provide Cadillacs which maximize your potential, only floors of opportunity (meaning, as little as we possibly can get away with). The willingness to discriminate and do the minimum is an odd thing too, since nearly all people will experience disability during their lifetime - unless they happen to die by lightening bolt before they are revived in a hospital.

But, as a matter of equity, which is required by the ADA, we can't exactly provide potential maximization for some students, but get away with providing a "floor of opportunity" for students with disabilities and others. And, you'd be shocked at how low that floor really is.

If fully educating A means creating a vastly segregated system, where B is trapped in an impoverished system aimed at providing as little as possible - then it is indeed an inequitable, and unacceptable result. Not to mention, illegal.

Speddie

Lynn said...

Generally fully educating A doesn't take a larger share of available resources, it takes commitment to that goal and a rejection of the idea of closing the achievement gap by pulling down the top.

Anonymous said...

EDvoter-- "Discussions of race is highly important, don't get me wrong. But if SPS looks at class first and makes sure that general ed, special ed and gifted ed kids without means are getting extra resources, the future of the full city will be much better."

I completely agree with you. Race is highly important. However, class issues are huge in these discussions. All too often white looking people are lumped together. People make assumptions. I happen to know "white" looking kids who come from very low socioeconomic backgrounds, were born to teen parents etc. That also includes kids I know in HCC & spectrum as well. I am tired of lumping "white" looking people into this category that assumes they are all affluent & have the same backgrounds. My husband is a white looking person who came from a very disadvantaged socio- background. You would not know by looking at him or speaking to him. Took him until his thirties to complete college degree (he was identified by UW for the Equal Opportunity Program) and he faced many challenges along the way.
MJ

Outsider said...

Speddie -- I admittedly know nothing about special ed that I didn't read on this blog, but I would guess that the legal concept of floor in special ed relates mostly to cost (setting and staffing). Taxpayers aren't willing to pay for the maximum. But once setting and staffing are decided, and the IEP is being written (I standing for "individual" I assume), what is the guiding principle? Is it not enabling students to reach their maximum possible ability? If it weren't people would wonder why. If that were the guiding principle, who would not approve? And yet the same principle applied to the non-special is considered ridiculous.

I am open to empirical evidence. I would readily believe that special ed students are denied a lot because of cost. But can you cite an example of special ed students denied something only to benefit other students?

What is an "impoverished system"? I have stopped believing this sort of rhetoric, because it's so vague. Show us photographs (honestly, seeing is believing). Can you give an example of a special ed student currently in a certain environment, who is learning less than the same student would learn in a different environment? If so, where should that student be, and why would the result for that student be different?

People in Seattle are mostly good at heart, and would respond the right way if shown something real. But it's all vague rhetoric. None of it seems real.

Anonymous said...

One big difference in BC is that the ministry of education sets the curriculum for the whole province - no private vendors - all schools, including privates, are required to use it.

2boysclub

Anonymous said...

Seriously Outsider. Your continuous denial gets old.

This is a civil rights issue - not a "taxpayer" issue. Taxpayers didn't raise their collective hands and decide to start paying for students with disabilities - parents banded together and enacted legislation requiring districts to stop discrimination. Schools have been dragging their feet ever since.

Cost must not be considered by law for students with disabilities under IDEA. They are entitled to a floor of opportunity, to FAPE. If the district admitted to denying service due to cost - they'd be stuck paying for it. Nor may the district (or taxpayers) decide on staffing levels ahead of time in some pre-arranged deal. That is simply illegal and SPS has already been cited for it. IDEA was enacted as a civil rights provision to prevent blatant discrimination. Plain and simple. The guiding principle is FAPE- free and appropriate public education at public expense in the least restrictive environment (same as others) to the maximum extent possible as determined by an IEP team. That's it.

I'll point out - if cost were the only consideration - we wouldn't all be paying $111,000 per year for some students to go to private schools on Mercer Island, (plus daily cab fares) - read the other thread. And, there isn't just 1 such student - there are many. This is about discrimination. Schools don't want to teach some students and they'd rather shell out massive bucks than do what it takes to simply teach all students. This is what happens when parents of means apply pressure. Their kid gets to escape the system, at very high cost - but others remain in the squalor. CHILD on Mercer Island offers nothing more than SPS does - except they probably try a little harder, and place a little more value on the students. There is no special anything at CHILD. (yes, I've been there) Everything available at CHILD - is available in SPS - yet we pay massive bucks sending students with disabilities there.

As to impoverished environment. I can only tell you what I know about.
McClure Middle - no curriculum of any sort for self contained students, for years on end. No books, no materials, nothing for at least 2 years, and maybe more. That's impoverished. Multiple staff have reported this.

RBHS - no curriculum of any sort for SM4 students. No desks, chairs nothing. Only an empty room and a 1st year teacher. Parents I know were easily able to get reassigned. Other, uneducated parents...well, their kids remain. They don't know how to apply pressure.

Other schools - repeated restraints, multiple times a week, that I personally witnessed, and reported - and others witnessed. Physical deep pressure techniques (smacking around) of students. All reported - but nothing done. I think other posters have reported their kids repeatedly restrained - illegally. I would say a student who is restrained multiple times a month (or a week) would learn more in any other environment. This is more common than you think, eg, not rare. Students who are repeatedly put in isolation rooms - would be better off in almost any other environment (except one where they are restrained.) Multiple SPS families testified in Olympia - because this is actually common in SPS. They weren't doing it for shucks and giggles.

Substitutes - multiple years of no teacher, only substitutes. Now, other kids might be ok with 1 period of no teacher for a whole year. (not really) It would be something all the moms would rail against. But for kids in special education - this is everything they have. Multiple years of intermittent sub coverage for their entire education. If there's no sub found for the disability class (and usually, there is no sub) - then any warm body will do. That's impoverished. And it's unbelievably common. SPS has already shelled out big bucks for this infraction.

I could go on for a long time. But really. Isn't that enough? It really isn't rhetoric.

Speddie

Anonymous said...

Thanks Speddie, your writing is very enlightening and moving. I fear the principals were not including special kids per se in the groups they want the Board to keep front and center.

Where is the board member with a disabled child?

As Speddie points out, in the 70's, the time I and other parents and many teachers and staff went to high school, Special Ed was invisible. The district needs to mount a huge and sincere awareness effort.

The principals and the Board need to realize that compassionate and effective education of every special ed student is equally as important as for other groups, be it HCC, ELL, low SES, homeless, LGBTQ.

The Board continues to allow the district to put SpEd last on that list. Whereas the other groups are getting improvements and sympathy.

The district needs to get educated.

cruise ship

Anonymous said...

Lynn & Others,

Gerrit Kischner may be speaking about the 2015-2016 numbers. Either way it doesn't make a lot of sense to look at the Fairmount Park numbers as a comparison point at the moment. As you know, the school population is very much in flux. A much higher proportion of HCC and Spectrum qualified students transferred in 2014-15 when it opened to access an accelerated program in their region. The first year many of the general education students were in the lower grades (100% of K of course). A fair number of those were siblings of HCC and Spectrum students as families jumped at the opportunity to have all their kids in the same school. The gen ed neighborhood cohorts are rolling up and filling in as the school grows and there is no longer room to take many out-of-area Spectrum students or out-of-area siblings. Consequently, the overall demographics are changing every year.

-Was There

Outsider said...

Speddie, we are talking about different things.

You mention influential special ed parents getting their children a better deal than other special ed students with parents less able to fight the system. I don't doubt that happens (but I don't think it's what others meant above when describing "privileged" parents badgering principals). You describe poor service to special ed students. I believe you.

What I meant was, following what Gerrit Kishner wrote, when is poor service to special ed students caused by decisions made on how to teach entirely different students? ("... how the decisions for one school and one group of children affects our ability educate another group of children.") It's always implied that we can't have advanced learning, or "boutique" programs, or personalized education for non-IEP students because it somehow hurts special ed students. That is the connection I don't believe. That is what most of the argument in this thread has been about.

I don't know anything about the inner workings of special ed of the sort you describe (which seems to involve autistic and otherwise severely disabled students), and wouldn't try to argue with anyone about it. But I am puzzled by your assertion that it's not about cost. SPS pays $111,000 for some students (reluctantly I assume) because their parents sued to get such a placement. They don't pay for others, or provide good services, because it would cost too much. The law might say that cost can't be considered when establishing a floor of opportunity, but in real life of course it's considered. That is what gives parents grounds to fight the system and force the district to spend more. Students without such parents are left with the district's more stingy interpretation of the law. If the taxpayers were more generous, I assume the district would be less stingy and conditions you describe would be less prevalent, but maybe not.

Lynn said...

Was There,

Yes - it made no sense for Gerrit to make that comparison. Fairmount Park's FRL rate is certain to rise in the next few years and Schmitz Park will retain the lowest poverty rate in the district.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I certainly appreciae when teachers and principals weigh in. It is always helpful to hear from those on the front-lines. But as to this comment,

" The New York Times reporter ends her story with this simple observation: “True integration, true equality, requires a surrendering of advantage, and when it comes to our own children, that can feel almost unnatural."

I think that most principals know that, for better or worse, most parents are interested in their own children's education. I myself have seen it at this blog and I don't blame parents. It could be part biological. What I have also seen in Seattle, a fairly progressive city, is year after year, parents stepping up to try to help other parents who may not be able to make the same efforts for their own children.

What I think is "unnatural" is not necessarily "surrendering advantage" - and I'm not even sure that I know what that truly means. What is unnatural is believing that parents are going to stop thinking of their own children's needs.

FL, I agree (as did Director Peters at the School Board meeting), that the Board needs to listen TO and appreciate efforts of all parents.

I agree with Sam; the efforts of parents in this district and city (as well as the voters) for public education is truly extraordinary. I invite you to find other cities lending this kind of support.

Outsider, I'm sorry you have missed the discussions over your issue of if the district is supporting some schools more than others. We have had discussions of this about dual language, HCC, Montessori, access to speciality programs in high schools, etc. If that's not what you meant, please let us know what you were speaking about.

Cruise Ship, you apparently missed the information that Director Geary has a child with special needs. That is why her interest in Sped is great and her knowledge base fairly deep.

But this is a good discussion. However, if the district (and the principals) want to make decisions thru an equity lens, then they need to explain what that looks like in detail to parents.

Say Again said...

"What I think is "unnatural" is not necessarily "surrendering advantage" - and I'm not even sure that I know what that truly means"

I agree. What does it mean for a principal to dress-down a board for dual pathways, but send their child to an advanced learning school.

Shall we talk about climate surveys?

Anonymous said...

Outsider - when people presume that Student B (your example) can never be educated with Student A, because they don't believe it, don't believe in inclusion, don't believe in differentiation, or don't want to sit with students like A, or 1000 different reasons - it's a big problem for student A. And a real one for many groups of disadvantaged students. Is it really such a big deal when Student A is doing a different assignment, or is doing something related but different? Is the fact that somebody else is watching the movie instead of reading the book such a huge problem for Student B? Apparently many Student B parents think so. Then Student A is left with a very small and impoverished education, often with no peers at all, or with only student-A-type peers, or student-B failures, and all behavior problems. Tracking. Exclusion. Less. So the decision by other people to promote segregated, narrowly tailored environments ultimately means that the student A's will have an environment that doesn't benefit them - but only benefits student Bs, and only because the student B's parents basically want an advantaged environment for themselves. This idea comes about because some people feel that their kids are deserving of maximized potential - but other kids are deserving of a floor of opportunity. A related false hope/belief is that those A-type kids somehow have to "earn" the right to maximize their potential - the way they feel their kids have "earned" that right. "My kid scored x on this test - so we get access to all this extra learning." There's also the idea that if those A-kids just got enough "remediation", they'd just catch up and be good like us. Remediation is consolation prize idea. Sometimes the remediation does work, and then it is a win for students. But for a vast majority of the remediated students, the remediation does little to nothing and becomes an inescapable cycle. Students/parents may "feel" successful - but that's only because nothing is really offered nor expected. Constant remediation instead of inclusion most often only serves to deny learning opportunities to the A-kids.

Applying this to disabilities - you find that students with disabilities do not receive a least restrictive environment, they are tracked with other students with disabilities to a great extent, and they are tracked with minorities. We all know that the outcomes from this opportunity gap is a huge problem. The district has vastly expanded its self-contained offerings in just the last 2 years. This is huge increase in cost, and it doesn't benefit students. Where do self-contained special education environments produce anything good? Where do modified special education produce anything good? They only lower the ceiling, they do not produce results.

Speddie

Lynn said...

I want to correct an error I made above. Schmitz Park has the lowest poverty rate in the SW region - not the district.

On to climate surveys. The results of Schmitz Park's Sping 2015 Staff Cimate Survey are available here: https://secure.panoramaed.com/seattle/understand/55328/survey_results/126323#/summary

Here are Ballard's results: https://secure.panoramaed.com/seattle/understand/60240/survey_results/126344#/summary




Say Again said...

https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/REA/school_reports/2014-15/SchmitzPark.PDF

During the 2014-2015, Schmitz Park showed only 69% of 3rd grade students were proficient in math and reading, and only 67% of 5th graders were proficient in math. With a 9% FRL population, I would expect this school to perform much better. This school has plenty of work to do.

Charlie Mas said...

The very first time I went to a Board meeting to testify about the problems I was having with the District's advanced learning programs, I heard the testimony of other families and I saw, right away, that other people had bigger problems than I did. So I could not in good conscience advocate for my children and advanced learning programs if I did not also advocate for their children - and for other children who had, in many cases, yet bigger problems and no one to advocate for them.

There are two views on inclusive education and they both have merit.

The first is that we do not put first graders and third graders, or third graders and fifth graders, in the same classroom. We don't do it because they are at different developmental stages (physically, emotionally, mentally, socially) but we mostly don't do it because they are not working on the same lessons. Using identical reasoning, it makes similar sense to put students in separate classes when they are working on curricula that are two grade levels apart - even if they are the same age. It doesn't do Student A any good to work on material that is beyond them and for which they are unprepared and it doesn't do Student B any good to work on material that is too simple for them that they mastered years ago.

What makes separate classes for these students seem a good idea is the industrial model for education in which the students all sit in batches and receive the same standard lessons from the same teacher. So long as this industrial model is the basis for the system, then it will make sense to separate students by curriculum.

Here's where this breaks down for those concerned about equity:

1) The removal of the advanced learners from a classroom or a school leaves that classroom or school with an unnaturally high concentration of under-performing students in the general education classes. The teachers, working to address the needs of those under-performing students, do not deliver a grade level curriculum. Instead, they deliver a below grade level curriculum.

2) The removal of the motivated and engaged students from a classroom or a school leaves that classroom or school with an unnaturally high concentration of students with behavior problems in the general education classes. The teachers, working on classroom management instead of instruction, not deliver all of the year's curriculum.

3) A culture that believes that more is better, faster is better, and bigger is better will see advanced lessons as better than general education lessons and will presume that the advanced learners are getting something better than the general education students. Never mind that the advanced learner curriculum is actually no different from the general education curriculum delivered one or two years early. Never mind that the general education students lack the preparation to be successful with the advanced learners' lessons. People believe that the lessons are higher quality and are being preserved for a select few. This perception, that some students are getting something better, offends people's sense of equity.

4) The absence of under-performing students and students with behavior problems is an inequitable situation - not just a perceived one. Neither the advanced curriculum nor the delivery of that curriculum are any better than what general education students get, but in terms of time spent on the lessons instead of classroom management, and in terms of being able to work on the grade level curriculum instead of remediation, the advanced learners actually are getting something better and it actually is inequitable.

Continued...

Charlie Mas said...


... continued
If there were some workable model for education other than the industrial model, then it would be possible to educate students working on the third grade curriculum next to children working on the fifth grade curriculum and the first grade curriculum. This sort of differentiation, however, does not exist. It is a lie.

There is a model for education in which the bulk of the students in a class could continue to focus on their work while the teacher either provides remediation or addresses the behavior of another student in the class, but that model requires additional staff, which costs money that schools don't have.

In the absence of these solutions we find two camps:
Those who know that differentiation is a lie and oppose inclusion and
Those who know the funding isn't there for additional staff and demand inclusion.

While it may appear that MTSS is an attempt to break away from the industrial model and provide real and meaningful differentiation, it is not. MTSS begins with the ultimate in the industrial model: all of the students throughout the system get the same Tier 1 instruction. Moreover, when differentiation is required by MTSS it is not reliably delivered because a single teacher cannot concurrently provide multiple groups of students with instruction and classroom management.

I no longer advocate for self-contained Spectrum because it creates an untenable concentration of students needing extra attention in the general education classrooms and it creates unsolvable capacity management problems for the District. I have seen the merit in that argument from those who support inclusive classrooms.

I continue to advocate for an appropriate academic opportunity for advanced learners and I have been sorely disappointed by the failure or refusal of inclusion advocates to join me in this advocacy. In fact, I have heard a number of them suggest that some students should go a couple years without learning anything in school while the other students catch up. I have heard people suggest that instead of learning anything academic the advanced learners should, instead, learn compassion and how to find non-academic gifts among their peers.

I'm not alone in this. Those who support inclusion are right in much of what they say and they are convincing. Most of the opposition that they still face is rooted in their refusal to acknowledge the merit of those on the other side or offer anything more than the false promise of differentiation. That's why they are perceived as trying to close the gap by pulling down the top.

So let's have an inclusive classroom, but I would like to hear the advocates of inclusion state their support for an appropriate academic opportunity for students working beyond grade level and I would like to hear their plan for how that curriculum will be delivered.

Lynn said...

Charlie,

Advocates for inclusion are rarely concerned about self-contained Spectum. They have already won that battle. The principals who scolded the board last week weren't referring to it because Spectrum no longer exists as a dual track system. Children who would have been Spectrum students are now placed in inclusive classrooms.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Charlie. I was willing and hoping I could leave my Child who is HC at our neighborhood school but the lack of willingness to provide appropriate meaningful differentiation is frustrating. I have asked to meet with the principal to hear what differentiation would be provided my student and received NO response. CRICKETS. Why would I leave my child at a school where the education of my child doesn't matter enough to even warrant a response from the school leader? I don't think I'm a particularly demanding parent, but when my child gets in trouble in class for restlessness day after day because he or she is bored I have to advocate for him or her. And I might add having an unengaged student in class doesn't help the other students either. I admit it does help the teacher with one less student they have to worry about academics and a ready made academic "model" to work with other students. So there's that...

NB parent

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I don't know if you saw the comments at the last meeting, but between the testimony of the two principals was a man accusing the board of lawlessness, it was awesome! I can't remember exactly his issue, but he repeated "lawlessness" several times. I think that should be the rallying cry for those who want some real action by the board.
As far as Advanced Learning, the district is driving more and more families into the HCC with their elimination of Spectrum. I have heard of many parents who are going HCC for middle school. With honors or Spectrum-only classes eliminated at most if not all middle schools, there's no choice.
The district is looking at a big spike in HCC numbers in the fall, I'm afraid.

Wallingford

seattle citizen said...

"...some people feel that their kids are deserving of maximized potential - but other kids are deserving of a floor of opportunity."

Yes.

Anonymous said...

For you edification Charlie,
our HC child was well served in blended classrooms in elementary, middle and now at high school. As you say, there are more behavior issues than would probably be found in the HCC classrooms, but like you said, that is fair. Is there challenging work? Most of the time. There was walk to math in elementary and grouped reading and writing. In middle school there was some deliberate grouping and teachers were very demanding of kids based on their ability. High school is more selective as we progress through the grades, freshperson year is the most mixed, then the classes get more and more stratified by ability and achievement.

You ask for everything to be in place before trusting the HC kids to a blended classroom. Well that ain't gonna happen. it doesn't happen for anybody. Do we make sure that supports for homeless and ELL and sped kids are all perfect before we place them?

Fair means fair, no group gets everything the way they want it.

Reality Check

Anonymous said...

It doesn't do Student A any good to work on material that is beyond them and for which they are unprepared and it doesn't do Student B any good to work on material that is too simple for them that they mastered years ago.

This is a deep fallacy, at least for many students, especially those with disabilities. And I hope Charlie will reconsider his strong hold on this idea. THIS is the simple broken concept behind segregated learning that disadvantages whole groups of people. And this failed notion is the crux of "remediate to standard". It is based on a failed concept of linear learning. Some students never show mastery, or at least never show it to the satisfaction of others. Some students are so radically different from others that what they take from a learning environment is radically different than others. It also presupposes that students who will be offered the most - are the ones who most conform to what is expected: "Excellent Sheep" (a book by William Dersiesiwicz).

I can tell you from deep experience - some students simply will not learn to standard. For simplicity sake, let's say they learn a fraction - say 50% of what is offered. That is they can obtain a "50%" on their assessments. Many would have these students "fail". They would repeat, or do a go-slow curriculum, and be excluded from the 80-100% masterers. When given a lesser curriculum - they learn a fraction of that as well. It becomes a race to the bottom. This is the idea behind many special ed classes in the district. You will notice - the SM4 self-contained classes span K-5, mostly doing preschool "schoolwork". These students haven't gotten to kindergarten level - so they're offered the lowest thing available -preschool circle time. Notably it is a K-5 classroom, so the same thing is repeated year after year. No new teacher, no new peers, no new materials. This is impoverished. Maybe a few outliers get to some notion of 1st grade.

For some students, a remediation approach is fine and works for them. But for others, moving on is much better. The hypothetical 50% learner - will learn more when s/he is presented more, even if guys like Charlie deem them "unprepared". S/He will have more of what may appeal to him/her, and s/he will have at least the opportunity to learn what they can. When students are given this opportunity, like others, they find what makes them tick and their passions. They also learn the most important skill of all - getting along with a diverse, age-appropriate group. When given more, nearly all students actually learn more. When stuck in perpetual preschools, nobody finds their talent or their passion, or their skills.

Speddie

PS. The percentage-learner, like the linear learner, is hypothetical. There's also learners who can only focus on certain sub-subjects, or details. Often, they fail to show mastery, or attain "mastery" of prescribed learning.

Watching said...

I think it is a good idea to fund;

1. Three years of IB. ($3M)
2. The district will have decrease suspensions and schools will need additional
supports.
3. Funding for deaf and hard of hearing.
4. I would also consider providing additional funding for middle and high schools.
High poverty schools receive funding for lower class sizes and fundraising efforts
really drop off in middle school. Franklin high school.

5. Middle school math

6. Elementary school counselors.

7. Expansion of high school academies. Franklin and Chief Sealth offer Academy of Finance, and hospitality. 80% of these students go to college.

8. EEU

Watching said...

We know that IB and high school academies work, and I consider these very good investments. No more funding for pie in the sky administrative projects.

Charlie Mas said...

"You ask for everything to be in place before trusting the HC kids to a blended classroom."

@Reality Check, please don't tell me what I'm asking for - especially when you get it wrong. Not only is it very rude and presumptuous, but it shows that you really aren't paying attention to what I wrote.

"Fair means fair, no group gets everything the way they want it." Except, of course, you and those like you who want inclusive classrooms that don't work for a lot of the students in them. But thank you for proving my point that the advocates for inclusive classrooms have no interest in making them work for all of the students in them and are completely unwilling to address the concerns of families who distrust them.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who argue that the district or schools are fairly providing services to those students with IEPs I ask, can you provide any proof of this?

Can those of us who advocate for SPED provide proof that SPS as a whole continues to violate the law and deny FAPE to hundreds of students...Hell yes we can.

SPED Parent

Charlie Mas said...

@Speddie -
So you're saying that we should present students - particularly students with disabilities - with work that is beyond them and for which they are unprepared. Seriously? Or are you saying that we are often mistaken about what work students are prepared to do?

Because I never presumed that anyone was absolutely right about what students are prepared to do. Moreover, I never presumed that anyone should be "remediated to standard". Why are you trying to put these words in my mouth?

Can't you make your argument without painting me up as your straw man?

And remind us again, because you skipped it in your rebuttal of what you want to pretend I wrote, why students should continue to be taught what they already know and have mastered. Because when it happens to the kids you care about you call it "impoverished", but when it happens to the kids you don't care about, you say that getting along with a diverse peer group is the most important thing in the world.

So, yeah. Thanks again for proving my point that those promoting inclusion have zero concern for any child who isn't working below Standards.

Anonymous said...

Inclusive classrooms have never worked for our HC kid, and we've trusted the schools that promised us they would. Finally getting the picture and taking bored, depressed kid out of SPS. All kid wants is to learn, and to have conversations about ideas, not the petty drama that dominates MS. Can find few like-minded students. Comes home after school to learn. We've all had jobs we hate going to. Hard to see that happening to a kid who loves to learn, year after year. Dreading 30 hours of every week, the hours supposedly dedicated to learning, the kid's favorite passtime.

Hard to design a system that meets everyone's needs. Don't know how it's done. But parents need to try to meet their kids' specific needs. Don't know where the idea of putting glass on top of the wall comes from, Gerrit. Divisive and incorrect rhetoric that shows the resentment toward families who take their kids private after being failed by the public system. We aren't trying to separate our kids from others, just to help them find a place where they belong.

SPS meh

Anonymous said...

Once again the conversation turns to highly capable students and why their needs are not a priority. The idea that we would want to warehouse such kids in classrooms where the teacher has no time to or interest in meeting their academic needs is hard to fathom. Have those of you arguing for such an approach ever parented an exceptionally cognitively gifted child? Do you really have any understanding of their unique needs and how different they really are (often) from their age-level peers? For many HC-qualified students, there is no way that a typical GE classroom will work. It's wishful thinking. These students may never find another student they can relate to in their school, and may never encounter a lesson that teaches them something they didn't already know. Often they will know more on a particular subject than their teacher, and often a teacher will resent them for it or make a big public display if they ever make a mistake. They learn to underperform, their self-esteem suffers, and when they are so isolated and out-of-place they also don't learn all those great social skills that everyone likes to assume they must be lacking because they are gifted. Yes, there are HC-qualified students who opt out of HCC and do fine--but those parents chose that path because they thought it would work for their child. Their child wasn't one of those who desperately needed something else. But for many who DO choose HCC, it is absolutely necessary. Please understand that.

DisAPPointed

Charlie Mas said...

I think it's very weird and ironic that some people can advocate so stridently for a free and appropriate public education for some students and give exactly zero f***s about an appropriate public education for other students.

If you cannot advocate for an appropriate education for all students then you need to consider whether you can do this honestly.

If you want one group of students to be supported in their education but don't care if other students are supported in their lessons, you should be questioning your commitment to equity.

If you think, as was written before, that some kids are deserving of maximized potential but other kids are only deserving of a floor of opportunity, then you should be questioning your understanding of equity.

When I talk to people in the advanced learning community they want every child supported. They want every child to get an appropriate education. They want every child to be working at the frontier of their knowledge and skills. They want every child engaged and gathering knowledge and skills that are not required by the standardized tests. Yes, they advocate for their children, but I can't think of one time I ever heard one of them suggest that some other child should not get what they need from the District. It is only those who want to tear down advanced learning and replace it with inclusion who want some children - the advanced learners - to go un-served.

Well, good news. You won. Spectrum is gone. It has been gone for years and it's pretty clear that there is no plan to replace it with anything. There is no meaningful differentiation in the overwhelming majority of schools and classrooms and there is no reliable differentiation anywhere in the district. The Standards, intended as a floor, function as a ceiling and learning beyond them is not supported. Horizontal and vertical articulation and the relentless pressure to teach the grade level curriculum have squashed the bulk of advanced learning opportunities. Good job - student work beyond grade level is almost completely unsupported. There is no curriculum or set of academic Standards for advanced learners - they just get the grade level stuff that they have already mastered. There's no deeper learning - that's a lie. There's no compacted curriculum - that's a lie. They are stuck in general education classes where they are expected to serve as a resource for the other students. Happy now? Isn't that what you wanted?

No. Not happy. Because those darn HC kids are still getting served marginally with their grade-skipping cohort. Let's pull them down too. No reason that they should get an appropriate academic opportunity. No way. Let's wipe that out in the name of equity - as if equity and equality were synonymous.

How about this: how about you try to advocate for the narrowly defined community you care about without demanding that some child outside that community be denied what they need from school? If you want an appropriate, supported, and challenging curriculum for a select few students, how about you expand that ambition to include an appropriate, supported, and challenging curriculum for all students?

I have stood with advocates for every under-served community in Seattle Public Schools - every one of them - as they insisted that the district provide children with they need to succeed. But very few of those advocates have ever stood with the advanced learning community and said that advanced learners should also get what they need to succeed. The utter lack of reciprocity is not only galling, it makes a lie of everything those people say. If you are going to be a child education advocate you cannot pick and choose which children are deserving of an appropriate academic opportunity and which are not.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, a linear model of learning implies a remediation model for those who don't demonstrate the mastery requirements of others. It is a corollary. I'm surprised that you would take offense, and it isn't an insult. It is a simplistic model. Yes, I'm saying many students benefit from more content regardless of preparation. If you ever actually worked in a classroom you'd know that mastery is in the eye of the beholder, and nearly all topics can be "mastered" at different levels. Modification can be made in all directions. That said, inclusion isn't for everyone. Nothing is. But so far HCC students have far, far more opportunities than any other group in the district. I encourage sharing the wealth of content.

Speddie

Charlie Mas said...

Speddie, I know you aren't paying attention to what I write, but are you paying any attention to what YOU write?

"I encourage sharing the wealth of content." There is no wealth of content. The HC curriculum is the same as the general education curriculum - it is just delivered two years early.

Guess what? It is not a zero-sum game. The fifth grade curriculum can be delivered in as many third grade classes as we want and it will not require taking it away from anyone. It is not a finite resource. Schools can use the fifth grade content in the third grade independent of what is going on in the HC classes. No one in the advanced learning community is stopping them. It is not the HC community who is refusing to share anything.

The solution you seek - providing more complex content in general education classrooms - does not require taking any content away from HC classrooms.

Anonymous said...

But so far HCC students have far, far more opportunities than any other group in the district.

@ Speddie, like the opportunity to sit in a neighborhood school where the teacher acknowledges they won't meet your needs, or the opportunity to join the HCC cohort where there's at least a decent chance the educational level will be appropriate? I guess that's technically the opportunity to make a choice, but I have a hard time seeing "service" vs. "non-service" as a real choice for most parents. It's like saying special ed students also have lots of choices, because they could either get special ed services or they could opt out of them.

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

@Speddie

Have you had a chance to reviewed the SENECA FAMILY OF AGENCIES contract and documents around the $500,000 deal?

I think people would be very interested in the various conversations and motivations revealed in the documents. It would be nice if we could see a post on this blog providing some of the details around what exactly SPS and OSPI are up to in regards to SENECA FAMILY OF AGENCIES.

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

This is anectodal and our experience only. However my child has experienced lots of classroom disruptions in the middle school HCC classrooms this year. She has found it extremely frustrating as these class disruptions hamper learning in a very crowded classroom. Some of these children may also be in special ed, but some are not. In her general ed classrooms in elementary school this was rarely an issue. The class sizes in middle school are between 32-36 for core classes so more kids. In general ed elementary was 25-30. Smaller class sizes would likely improve things. As far as equity, perceived equity etc. I think these issues cannot be addressed without fixing the funding situation in our state. The funding situation is affecting this "equity" discussion. Where I grew up in heavily taxed Long Island average middle school class sizes are 20 or so with a teacher and an assistant in the classroom.
-PT

Anonymous said...

Speddie, you write that "HCC students have far, far more opportunities than any other group in the district."
I taught APP. I teach gen ed. I teach honors.

I don't know quite what you are referring to when you say that HCC students have "far, far [TWO "fars"!] more opportunities..."

I was a new teacher when I taught APP. It was, and still is, I believe, MERELY a) a cohort model, and b)SUPPOSEDLY two grades ahead in curriculum.

Now, one can argue about the cohort model. I'm on the fence - yes, some students in HCC are quite brilliant and having others like them around is beneficial; yes, they are (theoretically) capable of working at a higher level as a cohort...But I also believe in mixes, of multiple levels all involved with each other, each student unique....But that's another argument for another day.

Regarding the curriculum...What, exactly, are the "far, far" better opportunities? From what I saw, and what I understand to still be the case, there IS no advanced curriculum agreed upon and taught horizontally and vertically in APP. It's hit and miss: gen-ed teachers who might or might not have skills working with students with some unique needs, who may or may not find time to collaborate with each other or learn different curricula, etc....

Please: What are the "far, far more opportunities" you see HCC students getting?

APP/Honors/Gen-ed teacher

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

What Gerrit Kischner is saying here is pretty chilling. His view is that we cannot give children any kind of differentiated or specialized education because he says doing so undermines equity. His implication is that it's not just wrong, but even racist, for parents to advocate for their children. His argument is that we can only have equity if we take away options and choices within the public school system.

This is absurd, and flies in the face of the evidence. There are plenty of first world examples, particularly from Europe, of school systems that offer a lot of different curriculum models for all kids. And he sets up a strawman when he claims that middle class white parents want to just put walls around their schools - here in Seattle, at least, most of the ones I know eagerly want more diversity in their schools and programs. But the district doesn't offer it. Instead, the district has decided that specialized education is bad and it has to go, damn the consequences.

I get the sense Gerrit is confusing equity with equality. Equality means all kids get exactly the same thing, regardless of need. That's what Gerrit calls for. Equity means all kids get what they need, no matter the cost. That's what Gerrit opposes.

And that's what this comes back to: the cost. We can have a school district that offers every single child a great, diversified education that meets their specific needs, without treating every child the same (because treating them the same means their particular needs get lost), without reinforcing racial inequities. But to do that, we have to demand that the state legislature pour more money into our schools, so that options aren't rationed.

After all, if we follow Gerrit's path and treat every child the same, denying their differences and refusing them the chance to attend a different kind of public school that meets their needs, then who's going to suffer the most? The poorer kids. The kids of color. Because while upper class white kids can get those needs met elsewhere, it's the Title I kids who get hurt the most. No wonder it's they who stood up to SPS's racist attack on Middle College - an attack justified in exactly the same terms as Gerrit used above.

Charlie Mas said...

Here is a link to the Equity Tool.

Anonymous said...

Greenwoody, I think it's your comments that are racist. Do you really think having to cash out my 401K and forgo many necessities ( driving a 35 year old car)in order to pay for my child's education needs means we are upper class or privileged?

Believe me we when I say we tried to work with SPS, but in the end we did what we thought was best and pulled our child out. For us it worked, but it was financially debilitating.

--Reality check

Anonymous said...

Having a 401k that you could use is privilege. Lack of privilege means you are stuck in SPS no matter how bad it is for you. That's reality.

Checkmate

Another Name said...

This is a very good conversation. I agree with the those that state funding may get WORSE.

I also agree that middle school classes of 32-26 students is too much. There is poverty in north-end middle schools, and I don't believe these students have access to enough support. We can probably agree that all middle schools need support. It wasn't all that long ago when there was a suicide attempt at a middle school; there was no nurse available.

I'm a bit ashamed at principals for creating such a divide. Is it prudent to draw a line between those living in poverty and those of color?

Greenwoody said...

Reality check - I actually agree with you completely here. Those middle class families may have a bit more privilege, but not much. The real enemy are the rich and powerful who prevent us from having great schools that are fully funded. Instead they happily watch as we fight each other for the crumbs they leave us. That has to stop.

Anonymous said...

Everyone please pay attention to Charlie's every word, he's using the f word and obviously getting a rise in BP.

Charlie, my good man, I too saw the individual yelling about 'lawlessness' and holding the mic like he might throw it at the board. You have successfully inflamed at least someone, good job.

You have repeatedly demanded proof of differentiation between your statements of its non-existence so why don't you read what you yourself have written.

And now you want solidarity? All the HCC community advocating for all students? Really? Is that before or after they enter the self-contained world of the top 10% of the district? And nobody cares about the gifted in SPS? How can 4000 students have choices no one else gets in school assignment with guaranteed transportation be considered more neglected than the kids locked in isolation rooms or stuffed into behavior classrooms, or the chronic truants who don't know how to read in 8th grade?

Why don't you get of your high horse and have some compassion or did you grow up in a district that let you get away with making attacks on others and calling them "lawless"?

lawlessness rules!

Anonymous said...

Wow, do you really think having a job and a 401K makes someone privilege? This a crazy house.

Do you also consider all union members as the 1%? You know the ones with those massive pensions resulting in a lifestyle of champagne and caviar dreams?

Wait a minute, you're trying to fool me, because if you have internet access you must be rich!

--Reality check

Anonymous said...

"priv·i·lege
ˈpriv(ə)lij/
noun
noun: privilege; plural noun: privileges

1.
a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people."

from Google

If you can escape to private school, by any means, then you have privilege - you have an advantage not available to others.

You make straw people and not valid arguments.

otiose otter

Anonymous said...

I should have said "get off your high bicycle". Trying not to use language that perpetuates animal abuse like horse riding.

Still learnin' at age 61.

lawlessness rules!

Anonymous said...

Anyone can choose to have a 401K it's not a privilege it's a discipline to save money. I think you're a little confused.

--Reality check

Anonymous said...

People with the same economic status can make different decisions regarding pursuing private versus public school. Some families might make more sacrifices than others depending upon the value they place on education and the specific situation. In addition, I know many "white" families/single parents with kids in HCC who are not affluent and/or cannot afford private school, even with the significant financial aid. That includes our family. We applied and received significant aid but still could not afford it without cutting into retirement. Our family is one generation removed from poverty. My husband and I are first in our families to attend college. We will not jepardize the hard work it took to be middle class & our retirement. Some people on this blog really generalize about other families in regards to race. I suggest people use a wider lens to view what privilege means in relation to equity, class, race & ethnicity. In addition, the rich in this country really benefit with all this infighting among people who have more in common with each other than they realize.
- Maggie

Anonymous said...

I was alerted to this thread by a fellow PTA parent, and I am absolutely horrified at Gerrit's comments. They're appalling and offensive. I am a Mexican American, born to two campesinos, who was lucky enough to wind up a with a decent job that allowed me to buy a home in North Seattle and send my daughter - who looks white, as I married an Anglo woman - to a local public school with a great, specialized program.

Yet Gerrit thinks I'm the problem. He thinks it's not only wrong, but racist, for me to want my child to get a good education. I respect this blog so I will hold back in my use of language, but Gerrit's comments are some of the most hurtful and scary things I've ever seen come from a school principal. He's telling us all that we are bad people for fighting for our kids. He's wrong, and I am really scared for kids at his school - if there's a child at that school with a special need, it sounds to me like their principal will oppose providing that child what what they need.

Worse, Gerrit thinks that this is some kind of cage match between parents or kids. I'll be the first to admit that I've got some more privilege than others, though my parents would probably laugh at me for saying that. But I don't have nearly enough privilege to be able to put my kid in a private school. That would require me to wipe out my savings and put my own kid at risk of losing everything we have.

The real privileged people, the real enemies, are the rich white people like Bill Gates, or Paul Allen, or Jeff Bezos, who have all the money and the power but keep it for themselves, and that make us all fight with each other for scraps. And now we have a school principal who is happy to carry their water.

I tell you what, Gerrit: you come say this to my face. You come tell me that my child deserves to suffer because we live in North Seattle, because my wife is white, because we have a little bit of money. You come tell me that I'm wrong to fight for my child - even though I also fight for other kids. Say it to my face. Tell me I'm a racist to my face. Look at my daughter and tell her it's OK if she doesn't have a nurse, or if she doesn't have a teacher who knows how to teach her well. I don't think you have the guts. But even if you did, I'd still demand you be fired. You are not fit to be in charge of any child's education.

Hermano

Anonymous said...

Hermano, who do you really think our local billionaires keep all their money for themselves? Mr. Allen does a lot of good with his money. He spends it heavily in the Seattle area. True, while he doesn't go around dropping cash on peoples front lawns, he just spends it here and also hires many people at a very generous wage. He's responsible for a very large amount of tax dollars, much more than you or I will ever pay in a thousand lifetimes.

So, I don't think you know all the facts and besides there's also Carlos Slim Helú to consider, have you asked him for money?

Unfortunately you're being racist, because you use white as a derogatory adjective.

Really tell me please, what does white have to do with it?

Vulcan

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Where did the State court say SPS at 1 billion dollars a year was underfunded ? I can't seem to find those words in any ruling or comment by the court."

First of all, that $1B? It sure as hell didn't come from the state. It came from Seattle citizens willing to help public education. That certainly allows the state not to do THEIR job, right?

As well, that covers capital and operations so saying that there is "$20K" per kid in SPS is ridiculous especially for the largest school district in the state.

Speddie, if you would document the "more opportunities" that HCC students have, I'd appreciate it.

Sped Parent, I have frequently mentioned Seneca and the contracts. What exactly am I missing? How do you believe money is being improperly spent.?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if your request is genuine, re:How do HCC have more opportunities, or if it is rhetorical. But I'll take it at face value, and then I'm done.

Consider self-contained SM4 students at RBHS who, a few years back, had no teacher and then, when a classroom teacher was found, a bare room with nothing at all in it. No books, nothing on the walls, no materials, and minimal furniture. (consider that many, many students in special ed classes have 0 curriculum. It's common place. When regular ed students are in math - there is at least a math book. A couple years back Read180 classes were offered as sped, but with no Read180 materials. How can that be?) Consider those students - who are stuck in 1 room for years vs an HCC qualified student in the same area. It is "true", in theoretical terms, that the self-contained SM4 student could "decline special education services", but then they'd wind up suspended immediately, and unsafe, and probably filthy from hygiene and sanitary issues. These basic life maintaining necessities are provide through special education services, so that service can not, in any real universe, be declined. Consider that stuck student, who has no credible classes, no curriculum, no variety in teachers, an impoverished peer group of very few students - maybe the same 4 that they've been with for a decade, no afterschool activities (RBHS is unable to sponsor even Unified sports for students with disabilities) - for 4 years, and of course, no school assignment choice. Compare that situation to the HCC qualified student living the same RBHS area. This student has the following options for basic school assignment, at a minimum, his/her choices are: RBHS general ed, RBHS IB, Garfield HS, Ingraham HS IBX, if that doesn't workout Ingraham IB, Ingraham general education, Nova, Center School, and Cleveland, not to mention the various Running Start options. All those choices - with a virtual 100% chance of admission to any of them. The collective combination of all these choices gives that student opportunity to experience every academic offering imaginable. Every opportunity the school district has - is open to that student. Every language available in SPS, every music/arts option, deep and broad science and lab science and humanities offering, wide and varied diploma options, every imaginable sports or afterschool club if that is a priority for the student, and the widest of social peer groups to match his/her personal preference. The difference is stark. Opportunity. Choice. Potential maximization.

Even if you disagree that various students with disabilities should be more broadly included before they have been blessed as "prepared", (and it's not an option for all), it's pretty hard to argue with the fact that their options are paltry, especially when compared to those of others.

Speddie

Anonymous said...


Sorry, I can't find your Seneca post. Can you post a link to it?


Sped Parent

Charlie Mas said...

"This student has the following options for basic school assignment, at a minimum, his/her choices are: RBHS general ed, RBHS IB, Garfield HS, Ingraham HS IBX, if that doesn't workout Ingraham IB, Ingraham general education, Nova, Center School, and Cleveland, not to mention the various Running Start options."

All of those options, except Garfield and Ingraham IBX, are available to general education students. The claim that Ingraham IB and Ingraham general education are available is incorrect.

And you're still not getting it. You have selected one group of students and one community for your animosity who simply don't deserve it. The contention that this group of students not have their academic needs addressed by the school district singles them out for neglect. I'm not denying the District's failures to meet students' needs - which is your complaint on behalf of students with disabilities. I have and will continue to work to advocate for those students. But what you are doing is actually advocating the neglect of certain students' needs. That's the problem here. The problem here is that rather than working to improve things for some students or all students, you are working to make things worse for some students. That's heinous.

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

Speddie, you wrote that HCC have far more opportunity than any other group in the district, but above you only compare their opportunity to that of Special Ed. Granted, special ed opportunity is limited and that's a problem, but if we look at ELL or gen ed we don't see that many more opportunities. Yes, access to Ingraham and Garfield (which is somewhat odd, as they are no longer APP in those schools and no longer really a cohort, as in K-8...) and yes, indeed, access to a couple of fine music programs...You're right that excellent music programs should be provided in every high school, every middle and elementary. But most students in the district can go to Nova or Cleveland Stem; HCC aren't the only ones who can choose those. Most students in the district can access AP or IB; most students have access to sports...

You also mention "zero curriculum" - HCC has not had a promised curriculum for years, so in effect they, too, have "zero curriculum."

You make it sound like HCC has access to all these things and no one else does, but they only have "access" to Garfield and Ingraham and maybe those music programs. What else?

I think we all agree that there are severe problems in Special Ed. But that doesn't mean that HCC is getting some sort of gold-plated exclusivity.

APP/Honors/Gen-ed teacher

Anonymous said...

Question:
If all comprehensive HSs now offer IB or AP, why is there still a track for HCC into Garfield or Ingraham? They are no longer a cohort, as they take classes with gen-ed students who elect to take IB or AP, so why do they get that choice that others don't have?

APP/Honors/Gen-ed teacher

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sped Parent, I didn't say I wrote a separate post on Seneca but I have mentioned those contracts via Operations and C&I for many years. Again, what it is you are trying to point out except the cost?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I do find it interesting how this discussion has veered from trying to parse the meaning of statements by principals to some kind of pitting of kids against kids.

Public school parents should never allow that to happen because it then allows management to deflect their own role in what is (or is not happening.)

I'm still unclear what it is that parents are supposed to be changing in their behavior or mind using this "equity lens." But again, I think if you are subtly trying to shame parents into caring less about their own children in order to care more another group of students, that's going to be a heavy lift. Or there needs to be a gameplan for how to do that.

I think that you CAN ask parents to consider adjustments in education for their own children in order to bring up more children (a rising tide lifts all boats) but using a heavy hand without that gameplan? Won't work.

Anonymous said...

I think the equity tool is not for parent use, but for educators as they consider changes to policy, procedure, curriculum...anything, really: How does this change impact various students? Positively or negatively?
It might not be fine-tuned yet, but really, I think it's a step in the right direction asking educators at all levels to use it. It adds intentionality, focused on inequity. Nothing wrong with that....is there?

APP/Honors/Gen-ed teacher

Anonymous said...

APP/Honors/Gen-ed/teacher - HCC may not have some curriculum, or written plan for following in lockstep with other HCC classrooms, but I would bet that would actually be a positive, since it means staff can more flexibly meet student needs. HCC does have "curricula", there is MIF in the classrooms, and other text books. Those are curricula. Then we find special ed classrooms are begun with absolutely no materials of any sort, and many remain that way for years, especially if there's a revolving door of subs or permanent staff. Having extra choice matters. And declining HCC service - doesn't leave a student with no school, it means that students will be served in their neighborhood school, which many have argued is preferable and provides just as many opportunity. The 2007 revealed the HCC students served in their homeschools did not test higher than those choosing an HCC option. Clearly it wasn't a complete loss. I realize not everyone agrees - but it is at least a point extra service and choice - not afforded others, and in particular, not afforded students in special education. Again, not saying something should be taken away - just pointing out something that is easily observed through an "equity" lens.

Speddie

Anonymous said...

And it's not a "shame" thing. Just like with racism, inequity just IS. In combating racism, the object isn't to make every white person feel guilty or shamed, bad about themselves, but rather to just honestly confront the horror of the situation and deal with it.
Parents should be fully cognizant of the situation and deal with it. It doesn't mean caring less about their own children, but perhaps it DOES mean caring more for others. That WILL be work; it will be effort; it will be "a heavy lift", but to do nothing is not an option.

APP/Honors/Gen-ed teacher

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response, Speddie. I hear you.

A/H/G T

Maureen said...

So, this is the Racial Equity Analysis Tool. Is there a Socioeconimic Status Equity Analysis Tool? Special Ed Equity Analysis Tool? ELL Equity Analysis Tool? .... Are there tools for thinking about how decisions impact students with different gender identities? Students who have experienced trauma? Students with different learning styles?

I understand that race is important, but why do we EQUATE equity discussions in SPS with discussions about race?

Anonymous said...

A/H/G T, I think you know the answer to your question: "If all comprehensive HSs now offer IB or AP, why is there still a track for HCC into Garfield or Ingraham?"

Offering a smattering of AP/IB courses is not the same as offering enough for a student to have 4 years of core classes. IB Math SL, for example, which is taken by many IBX sophomores at IHS, seems to be the highest level math class offered at RBHS (perhaps the RBHS website is not up to date...it's pretty light on info). Pathway schools allow the district to offer advanced classes in the most economical manner. Rather than have 3 classes of 10 students (unlikely, yes?) at separate schools, you can have one class of 30 students at a single school.

Also, from what assigned schools are many HC students being drawn? Schools that are overcrowded. HC assignment is a capacity management tool for the district.

-realist

Anonymous said...

On point one, I think you are right, realist. Thanks. That makes sense. Hadn't thought about that.

On point two....Garfield is bursting at the seams, so HC there doesn't make sense if HC is a capacity management tool at HS level.

A/H/G T

Lynn said...

Ballard and Roosevelt are also bursting at the seams even without their HCC students. Sending them back from Garfield just isn't possible. They'll probably be redirected to Lincoln when it reopens.

Anonymous said...

Ingraham IBX was created to relieve pressure on Garfield. It's kept Garfield from bursting sooner. SPS enrollment tried to cap IHS IBX numbers this year - so they are trying to manage numbers somehow (how, exactly, is completely unclear). Are they thinking they can hold out until Lincoln comes online, then create a new pathway (or eliminate pathways?) and right size other schools? One can only speculate, but without Garfield and Ingraham pathways, overcrowding would be even worse at other schools.

You are right to think HC is not just a capacity management tool - look at the schools where HC is placed and how they have changed over time. HIMS? TM? IHS? Hamilton was 54% FRL before the APP program was placed there, and is now 8% FRL. IHS has gone from 56% FRL (2009-10) to 28% FRL (2014-15).

-realist

Anonymous said...

Race is a false human construct, it's culture that drives distinctions. What we do with those distinctions is up to us.

Sigmund Jr.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Haven't checked in on this thread lately but it's taken a sad turn. Parents fighting, pitting kids against each other and trying to tear down programs, egged on by two SPS principals who really ought to know better. This is not ok, it's not helpful, and it doesn't help us achieve equity or solve problems.

The problem we face is that a bunch of rich people and billionaires are hoarding money and making us fight against each other, like gladiators in an arena, over the scraps they've left behind. Why would we play their game?

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