Monday, December 05, 2016

Director Blanford Starts a Fight (and to what end?)

The South Seattle Emerald newspaper has an op-ed piece from Director Blanford that is, well, pretty incendiary.  The title of the piece (I don't know if it is his or the newspaper's) is School Budget Deficit Too Heavy A Price For Our Children.  Which children Blanford is talking about becomes clear as you read the piece.

He starts by explaining that in mid-November, the Board had been informed about the budget deficit.  He says it's the biggest one the district has ever experienced and could not be solved by McCleary. 
The SPS’s financial staff advice to the board was clear: Using the Strategic Plan as a touchstone, the board must commit to exercise financial discipline in order to manage current and future expenses. Otherwise, projected teacher layoffs and program cuts would be catastrophic in our classrooms and schools.
Now I stop here to interject that when the district had this so-called "underspend" last year of $11M, staff could not find enough ways to spend it.  To his credit, Director Blanford had wanted to not spend all of it.  And, staff has continually thanked the Board for allotted the bulk of that money towards Strategic Plan initiatives.

He goes on to complain about the $1M voted in by the Board majority for transportation costs for grandfathering.

Wait, what?

He doesn't explain that the overwhelming majority of the deficit is due to the levy cliff?  That makes it sound like the district/Board are terrible managers of the public's money.  He doesn't help the public understand that action needs to be taken to prevent this from happening.  No, he says nothing about that.

He goes onto describe the Board meeting where the Growth Boundaries were voted on. 
Afterwards, we moved to the business portion of the evening, hearing from a long line of angry parents clamoring for special treatment of their children’s schools with revisions to the Growth Boundaries Plan. Various members of the board, acceding to their demands, then put forward 12 separate amendments to the staff-generated plan. Not one of these amendments addressed conditions at any of our South End schools or clearly articulated the financial costs of implementation. And the amendments did not provide any cost savings, or even remain budget neutral. 
I'm not sure that it's "special treatment" for parents to want their child to be able to finish school where he/she started.  And, that many of those parents clearly spoke for parents who could not attend or did not have the ability to advocate for their own child.   Anyone watching that meeting would not say it was a bunch of NIMBY parents.

As for not addressing conditions at South End schools, I can only say that what was being discussed and voted on that night were growth boundaries for mostly the north end as that is where the majority of change would happen. 

As for the costs, well, staff didn't put forth any amounts for how much it would cost to move 800 kids around from one school to another so how would anyone know the real costs versus savings?

He went on to explain how big budget cuts would likely hurt students of color most of all.  I think we could all agree on that.  That newer teachers get laid off before more senior teachers.

But then he veers off into an attack on the rest of the Board and their motivations.
Secondly, based on recent history, I have come to believe that the school board that I serve on is not sufficiently oriented to or motivated by the need to eliminate the gap, in spite of the fact that the majority of students (53%) served by Seattle Public Schools are students of color. Obviously, not every student of color is in the gap – in fact, many students of color outperform their peers. But for those that don’t, there was very little outrage or even discussion when the board learned of our national ranking in a story that was reported back in May. I’ve frequently seen members of the board disregard advice from the staff and parents when it conflicts with the narrow interests of some of their constituents. 
Betty Patu, who has served far longer than anyone on the Board, doesn't know or isn't motivated to eliminate the gap for students of color.  And Scott Pinkham, who is a Native American SPS parent, isn't motivated to close that gap?  Not to mention all the rest of the directors who have stood up for students of color including voting for the Strategic Plan and its focus.

I would have to think that his assertion that the rest of the Board doesn't seem to care about children of color might just violate the standards that the Board has set up for themselves about how they interact with each other.

Why the lack of clear information to the public about the reasons for the deficit?  Why no call on trying to get the Governor or the Legislature to extend the levy for another year when that would be the one real solution, not cuts?

My spidey radar tells me there is more here than meets the eye so my real question would be, how does this help the budget situation, Director Blanford? 

133 comments:

Anonymous said...

He sucks! Not a team player and so political.

Hate monger

Anonymous said...

A very good and accurate read on the difficult situations created for SPS students by meddlesome behavior and amendments put forward by SPS directors. This is a system we all share. Adjustments are necessary in a public system. Children adapt to change and protecting them from it, in a world made of change, is not doing them any favors. South end students should not have to pay the price so that localist directors can favor specific constituencies over the welfare of the district at large. Director Blanford is a terrific director and he has made a strong case for the obstacles his colleagues are creating by their insertion of constituency politicking into district system management. This is too sensitive an area to be decided on a willy nilly ad hoc basis by amateurs.


Optimistic

Anonymous said...

I suppose he would have been happier with the segregation of north-end schools, along with the reassignment of hundreds of FRL, ELL and students of color that would have taken place had the remaining Board directors not acted to revise the growth boundaries plan?

Wow.

-North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Optimistic, you are saying all the other directors are amateurs, save Blanford?

And what of his not explaining the true nature of the situation?

C'mon.

Anonymous said...

If the south end had been segregated and meddled with through the growth boundaryplan, but these board members did not support his effort to preserve a good experience for his constituents--he would have called them irresponsible, elitist, and on and on....

Jerk

Anonymous said...

Here we go...why do start such incendiary post.

RB

Sam said...

Blanford (aka Michael Debell II) neglected to mention that north-end schools are experiencing tremendous growth. There are issues with boundary lines and over crowded schools. Directors are elected to represent the public. Shame Blanford chose to pit communities.

The state is failing to fund education and the district may loose tens of millions of dollars in levy funding.

The district struggles to meet the needs of many students, and are faced with funding unfunded state mandates. For example, the state offered funding to lower class sizes, but the state only pays 75% teacher salary. This "funded" state mandate cost the district $12M.

Shame Blanford isn't focused on lobbying the legislature.

Melissa Westbrook said...

RB, don't blame the messenger.

Anonymous said...

Wait, what schools have lower class size? As far as I know only the high FRL schools are receiving money to lower class size. As for the other schools...let them eat cake.

Nice try

Lynn said...

K-3 class sizes were reduced in all schools this year. Do keep up.

Anonymous said...

Sure they were, wink wink


Humpty dance

Anonymous said...

Melissa does a good job in blocking when the likes of Stephen Blanford comes at us parents with a glass of kool-aid. Thanks for posting this.

-pahin

Claudia said...

This actually speaks to a huge problem with public education. It's really hard for average citizens to know what the heck is going on.

To read Blanford's article you'd probably think you had some idea. But really Blanford seems to be fomenting some kind of race war? All the while ignoring that housing in the city is pretty segregated and that that historical segregation affects school populations since kids tend to go to school based on geographic assignment. That was the conclusion of the May article he referenced but doesn't seem to have understood. I've also found Geary to be weirdly political, busy talking out of both sides of her mouth. Like Blanford. Blanford is happy to count Asian American kids as POC in his article, but somehow when they're in HCC suddenly they don't count as diversity-bringing POC? Not to mention, how in the world did he misunderstand what was happening around Cedar Park? Blanford seems to have that backwards? Pinkham has some wacky ideas (along the lines of the long disproved "all children are gifted" craziness--fine for laypeople--completely inappropriate snake oil for people making educational decisions for human children). Meanwhile several of the other board members I've heard speak seem really on the up and up.

As for learning about what's going on in public education, this blog is fabulous but my kids' grandparents don't read it. They live in Washington State but have no idea what's going on with education (unless I educate them). My friends without kids don't read it. They pay property taxes, but have no idea what's going on with public education in this state. Even most of the parents at the various public schools in Seattle that my kids have gone to over the years don't read this blog or any substantive news sources and don't really have much idea about education funding. I don't know if we live in a society anymore where state residents can be informed about what's going on. And that's sad.

The other thing that's sad is how little most people seem to care about what's in the kids' best interest. You would think state businesses would want a robust public education system. If the kids don't get educated, how are all these companies going to find people they want to hire in really just a couple of years? And how are the people of Washington going to end up with jobs that will pay them money to spend on all the stuff the businesses sell? It makes no long term sense for the business world to not care about education. Right?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I'm a little surprised at your rush to indignation. Your language that the "overwhelming majority" of the deficit is due to the levy cliff is patently wrong. What I've seen is that $30M of $74M is cliff: less than half. I stand with Blanford. He's saying what nobody else can about his "team."

Rosie

Anonymous said...

The amendments proposed were in the best interests of the community living around Olympic Hills and Cedar Park--where there is the highest concentration of poverty in the city. The achievement gap has been directly tied to differences in socioeconomic status, not race. The Board made decisions that avoided a train wreck, but he turned this into a north vs. south Seattle conversation. There were no significant changes in South Seattle, so his argument has not basis. The District has never provided a cost benefit analysis for any of their proposals, so how would one deduce any cost to the recommendation to grandfather some students?

I think he has been working in a back room with the District on some MTSS related equity plan that drives everyone towards the middle. I wouldn't even put it past him if he has been planning a way to blow up Cascadia and didn't care about ramifications to all the northend schools, students and families in the process.

He needs to be questioned as to why he isn't a team player looking out for ALL students in our district.

Don't Trust

Another Name said...

Claudia makes a good point. What does Blanford have to state about a NE school that was slated to have a 70% free and reduced lunch population? What are Blanford's comments related to directors that were actively trying to help a school mitigate the damage of having a school with a proposed 70 percent free and reduced lunch population??

Blanford is off base and publicly offends his colleagues.

Anonymous said...

My guess (after lots of experience with Blanford including small group meetings) is that Optimistic above is him or a close associate. In my experience Director Blanford speaks in vague, couched language and shows little response to action steps that actually reduce gaps. He defers to staff without deep questioning. Most staff are completely well-intentioned. What he repeatedly fails to understand, though, is that most high-level SPS staff have very little connection to the actual work of schools and parents, and thus by definition they are often working very hard to solve what is absolutely not the problem. More listening and understanding teachers and parents, especially at Title schools, would benefit Blanford tremendously. And kids too.

Been There

Anonymous said...

please central district parents we need to remove this biased - city of seattle shill. he wants to talk about responsibility; then why is he traveling with the city on how to deal with preschool not anything that has to do with his duties. now this. he is a flame thrower. detracking unless it affects the affluent option schools ... that he has an interest in.

i voted for him twice. never again. please someone run against him. i hoped for so much more and then have hated all he has stood for on the board. this is the final straw.

nc

Anonymous said...

I watched the last board meeting. He voted the opposite of all the other Board members, even on amendments that benefited the population he claims to care about. He is divisive to be divisive. He is that guy who assumes what you think and want based on your skin color and zip code and nothing else. He is right to care about the budget, but reversing most of the moves should be budget neutral. Who would know the cost ramifications, though-since the District has no data tied to their random budget assumptions.

I wish I could assume the best, but this is not him being misquoted. He wrote this and directly blasts his fellow board members. What a jerk! And what a terrible example.

Thank you to the other board members for you service. There are some difficult decisions yet to be made. Best of luck!

Fix AL

Robert Cruickshank said...

The budget issues are not caused by any actions the SPS board has taken, but by the legislature's failure to fulfill their constitutional and court-ordered obligation to fully fund our schools. Rather than pitting parents and children against each other, we should unite to ensure nobody's teacher is laid off, nobody's program is ended, and go to Olympia united in one voice to demand that legislature immediately solve the levy cliff and soon thereafter fully fund our public schools.

Anonymous said...

Pitting parents and schools or programs against each other is too often code for back off and leave my child alone. It rarely translates into concern for the collective body of students as a whole. Time and again this well worn phrase is brandished when a privileged few may have to make a few uncomfortable, for them, adjustments. It's especially beloved by Director Peters as she uses it frequently to pepper her homilies from the dais, particularly when it pertains to race and equity. It is the board's responsibility to studiously vet all amendments and see the impact they have on the student body at large and to vote against those that make it comfortable for a few while causing pain for the many. Capricious abuse of the amendment process really makes one question the seriousness of purpose of those who abuse their privilege in this manner, and I use the term privilege advisedly.


Optimistic

Just Saying said...

Optimistic fails to understand that there are deep pockets of poverty in north Seattle. Get off your high horse.

Just Saying said...

Not sure why Optimistic calls out one director. Perhaps Optimistic didn't notice 6-1 votes.

Anonymous said...

that is all you do optimistic is pit one group verses the other. same game as blandford. same as tolley.

there is just one thing pc equity is going the way of charters and vouchers. optimistic your hammer for change is now going to be thrown into your face; and sped, ell and frl will no longer be used to battle working programs because... they will be replicated outside of sps control. the union doesn't even understand that based on their recent survey. decrease tracking... will save zero jobs.

sorry kids because of your identity politics... we have all lost.

nc

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Rosie, I was led to that impression by something that was said at an Operations Committee meeting earlier this year. Now I read this at the website from Superintendent Nyland:

"Eliminating opportunity gaps and accelerating learning for each and every student is one of the primary lenses through which the central office and School Board will be evaluating budgetary decisions. Initial reduction recommendations have been made that lessen cuts to school services. These reductions, if approved, could bring the gap down to an estimated $44 million. The budget reductions beyond this point will be challenging for all of us. Eight-five percent of our budget is salaries and much of the remaining budget includes fixed costs like utilities and insurance. This $44 million represents more than 440 positions within the district."

So I would have to ask:

1) what ARE those initial reduction recommendations?
2) And they know where to cut back $30M?
3) Of course salaries are the biggest part of their budget but I find that last sentence - of comparing the $44M to how many positions that is - an interesting one. Are those positions certificated? JSCEE staff? That's a fairly random statement.

Outsider said...

This blog post is strange, and seems to be afflicted with the malady of the times -- you can't just disagree with someone. That person must be an bad person, with a nefarious hidden agenda. I generally disagree with Blanford, but the opinions in the article mentioned are not new or mysterious or unexpected. Spidey sense seems to be out of control here.

He says spending seven-figure sums to grandfather north-end students is a bad idea at a time of budget crunch. If that is what it costs, he is would be right. You don't need a hidden agenda to state the obvious. If big dollars were to be wasted on unnecessary transport, Blanford would probably rather it be for social engineering with gerrymandered attendance zones. Committing to Waste Type A makes it harder to fund Waste Type B. That seems like a totally plausible argument; no conspiracy theory required.

He accuses his fellow board members of being politicians. The are. So is he. Now that we figured that out, better to argue the merits of the various positions.

Anonymous said...

With all the BS discussed above, tell me again why charters are bad? The wealthy have voted with their feet out of SPS and charters will provide middle and lower class kids the same opportunity.

Escape the Madness

Anonymous said...

Except charters don't give middle and lower class kids the same opportunity as private schools. Bill Gates would never send his kids to a charter school.

HP

Anonymous said...

Was so disappointed to see this piece from Blanford. He does a HUGE disservice to the community reading this publication by not explaining why the theoretical budget deficit exists. More importantly, he wastes an even bigger opportunity to call them to action to advocate to the legislature to uphold it's paramount duty to fully fund education. An opportunity wasted just in order to malign his fellow board members publicly.

HO

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... reading Director Blanford's OP-ED piece, one has to wonder exactly where he's been for a while now. Its pretty clear that the recent bout of amendments on the proposed boundary changes were intended to protect the very kind of children he professes to be most interested in - kids of color, kids of poverty, kids with "special needs" in all senses of that expression.

Do only those types of kids in his area of focus matter? That is the impression he gives, however unintentional (one hopes).

reader47

Watching said...

Didn't the board spend a portion of the $11M on MTSS; a system w support disadvantaged students? Didn't Blanford vote NO???

Watching said...

Clarification: MTSS is a system intended to support disadvantaged students and close the opportunity gap??

GLP said...

Outsider: Just to clarify, the amendments put forth by the Board did not grandfather north end students. By and large the Board chose not to make the boundary changes and to open Cedar Park as an option school. And then a total of ~30 students were grandfathered at two elementary schools. I have seen no clear document that explains how changing one school from an attendance area school to an option school and NOT making boundary changes adds "$1 million to the deficit". I don't believe that detailed an analysis was every conducted by SPS. Everything that I saw developed by staff regarding costs related to decisions on growth boundaries was very high level or vague.

It bothers me that Director Blanford missed the Board meeting on November 2nd, and the Board Work Session on Growth Boundaries on November 9th, but now has chosen to be vocal after the fact. He missed a lot of discussion and testimony about the issues, not just from parents but from teachers and Representative Gerry Pollet. Perhaps having been present would not have changed how he voted one bit, but observing him at the Board meeting on November 16th it felt to me like he wasn't up to speed.

-GLP



Anonymous said...

Show me one thing SPS has done that protect and served students with special needs using MTSS, just one.

Social justice, racial equity and the proverbial opportunity gap,

believe these not because they are true, but because they serve a purpose.

MJ

Charlie Mas said...

Director Blanford's piece in the South Seattle Emerald is remarkable for two reasons.

1) He wrote: "The educational research is clear and compelling – the most important factor in student academic performance is the quality of instruction." This is not just incorrect; it is an intentional effort to deceive. It is a lie. All of the research - all of it - shows that all of the most influential factors on student achievement are home-based, not school-based. Either Director Blanford knows this, in which case he is intentionally spreading misinformation and lacks the moral qualities necessary to serve as a school board director, or he doesn't know this, in which case he lacks the fundamental knowledge needed to act as a school board director. Either way, he is unqualified to serve.

It is particularly bizarre that he purports to have some knowledge of the research when clearly he does not.

2) He claims to have knowledge of the costs of the amendments "they added at least a million dollars to the budget deficit" while, at the same time complaining that no cost analysis was done "Not one of these amendments addressed conditions at any of our South End schools or clearly articulated the financial costs of implementation."

It is, of course, odd that he should complain that South end schools were not part of the proposed amendments to soften the impact of boundary changes in the North end, but that's another attempt on his part to misinform his readers and create the sense that South End schools lacked advocacy from the Board or to foster some sort of North/South conflict. Both of these efforts are contemptible.

As for optimistic's contempt for the Board, calling their decisions "meddlesome". Keeping children in a school does them a favor. All kinds of studies show that changing schools sets children back academically. South end students are not paying any price for grandfathering a few north end students. On the contrary, South end students are, by far, the greater beneficiaries of grandfathering because students from low-income homes move more. School boundaries are a board decision, not a management decision, so the Board are not "meddling" nor are they interjecting themselves inappropriately at all. It is their decision, not the superintendent's. Their decisions were not "willy nilly" but the product of a lot of discussion - which Director Blanford might have known if he had attended the meetings instead of blowing them off. And, as you will recall, all of the Board members are amateurs.

I'm not familiar with all of the code, but sometimes when people complain about the district pitting parents and schools against each other, as Director Blanford tried to do in this column, they are complaining about exactly that.

Anonymous said...

Well, the constant machinations from parents - of how to optimize the placement of HCC students - where they should go, whether their schools have adequate extra perks for them (like music, trips, language opportunities above and beyond, science above and beyond) while everyone else gets remediation, how many times they have been moved - and on and on. You'd think every student was in HCC. And really, how many south end students are in HCC? This is what he's talking about. And right. There isn't advocacy.

reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, MTSS is for all SPS students. I do believe some of the $11M did go for this initiative as well as the closing the gaps initiative.

Yes, Blanford seems to miss some meetings and then come in - not fully prepared - and yet criticizes the other Board members. He is of the School Board school of thought that unless something appears illegal or not doable, he's going with staff recommendation. I'll just say that's an okay stance but, for me, the Board is elected for real oversight.

Charlie, yes, Blanford wrote that sentence incorrectly - what most say (and I'm thinking of Gates) is "the most important SCHOOL-BASED issue is quality instruction." Overall, it's home environment.

Anonymous said...

That's just it - the board members are elected for oversight. When they become de facto ad hoc individual designers, through the use of fanciful last minute amendments, of a complex system, then they are subverting the process and taking over the role of non partisan paid professionals. The board president has lost control when up to twelve last minute amendments can be added onto and voted on one topic. This is not good governance and other countries with high PISA scores do not tolerate this kind of whimsy because they have strong centralized administrations that are busy working creating systems that advance all children and not just a select few.


Optimistic

Melissa Westbrook said...

Optimistic, that would be called democracy. It happens in Congress all the time.

Oversight means asking for cost analysis from staff and yet there was none for transportation costs. That $1M just materialized without proof. This happens over and over again so I don't blame the Board for being suspicious.

Anonymous said...

It may happen in Congress but it's not effective at the school district administration level. Also while I decry the abuse of the process at the congressional level and way too many bridges to nowhere are built etc, the congressmen/women are hardly doing the actual road design because they are not engineers. But we have a board that are acting as engineers instead of oversight managers and it's producing costly bad engineering and design for the district at large.

These individual board members who have crafted these amendments will end up having won Pyrrhic victories when the costly realities of their proposals becomes apparent and their cavalier approach makes it all too easy to question the modern efficacy of what is looking like a failure in democracy.


Optimistic

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

Perhaps this article is a preemptive CYA attempt by Blanford because he believes that with the levy cliff will come finger pointing and rage, and when that anger shifts from the District to the Board--he wants to be distanced and not affiliated with any budget decisions. This is cowardice and does not serve our students well. It will be nice when he is voted out, but for now we will just put up with his antics and continue to see the 6-1 voting ratios.

What a waste of a board position.

Don't Trust

Oh Please said...

" then they are subverting the process and taking over the role of non partisan paid professionals."

Oh please, Optimistic. Do you really think it is a good idea to create a school with 70% free and reduced lunch students?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent, we don't allow name-calling. You were doing okay there and then had to spoil. You can say that people have terrible lines of thinking or awful reasoning but don't call them names. Sorry but that had to go.

Don't Trust, there may be many motivations for Blanford's piece including CYA.

Anonymous said...

Believe me what will happen with Cedar Park as an option school is that either the most ambitious families will opt out en masse of their reference school and take their economic and social capital with them to CP, thus depleting the reference school of valuable resources and overly enriching CP, or they will refuse to enroll at CP in the hope that CP will now be encouraged to serve those marginalized reference school kids whose "needs" are better met in an alternative environment. Either way there's little virtue in the establishment of CP as an option school. The creation of new option schools at a time of district growth and shortage of classroom space is short-sighted and foolish and will create a ton of future problems.


Optimistic

Anonymous said...

Where does it say Board members can't create new or amended existing policy?

Policy matters and over site is the board's only real mandate, no?

"because they have strong centralized administrations that are busy working creating systems that advance all children and not just a select few. "

So you want one big homogenized group of students? There's no room for struggling students, oh of coarse as long as they are black?, yes? Really come on why don't you tell us your real problem?

Is it that grandfathering students at Whitman helps more white than black students and doesn't fit into your farrakhan narrative? Or maybe it's because whatever the cost of grandfathering is it should be spent on mythical racial equity? Do tell.

End PC

Anonymous said...

@Optimistic

I think you are confusing what happened last month with what happened back in November 2013 when the mess that is Growth Boundaries was approved by the PREVIOUS Board. There were a number of last minute amendments submitted during that process. Much of the current Board's actions are an attempt to rectify capacity and equity issues that occurred, in part, due to the actions of the previous Board, as well as a lack of correlation between the 2012 enrollment projections and 2016 actual enrollment. It is optimistic, in deed, to expect a plan approved 3 years ago to be valid for next year. This is why there is an annual review of the Growth Boundaries plan.

The majority of the amendments that were approved as part of the 2017-18 Growth Boundaries implementation were not submitted "last minute." The Board post-poned the vote on the proposed amendments for an additional two weeks, so that there would be time for additional public input and for staff to provide updated projections, financial analyses, demographic data, etc... There was a special work session scheduled between the introduction and Board action, in order to discuss the various amendments. I heard that Director Blanford did not attend this work session. If he had, then perhaps he could have engaged the other six directors in a meaningful and constructive dialog, rather than resort to attacking them weeks later.

-North-end Mom

Benjamin Leis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

There was a special work session scheduled between the introduction and Board action, in order to discuss the various amendments. I heard that Director Blanford did not attend this work session. If he had, then perhaps he could have engaged the other six directors in a meaningful and constructive dialog, rather than resort to attacking them weeks later.

exactly. There is a decided element of CYA in Director Blanford's post - and clearly his advocate, "Optimistic" is rather determined that Blanford thinking is solid and correct. Fascinating. And the day we can call SPS admin strongly working for all children will be a true miracle - I have seen the inside of that particular egg and it is beyond rotten.

reader47

Anonymous said...

I too find the school board's amendment process frustrating. There seems to be a good amount of outreach for the initial proposal and opportunity to get community input. But the community doesn't get any real opportunity to react to amendments that the board proposes at the last minute when board actually votes. There could be more people unhappy with the amended plan than the original, but they aren't afforded the opportunity to weigh in on it.

- Palatine

Oh Please said...

Optimistic,

Talk is cheap. Care to back-up your assertions with actual data? Please provide data related to those living in poverty in the CP boundary area, boundary lines, feeder schools etc.

Story said...

Optimistic,

You are really exhausting to follow. Kind of like reading Trump's tweets - which are meant to confuse, keep people off balance, and destabilize things.

Your above comment on what will happen to Cedar Park is the darkest of cynicism. Really Not Nice. I wish the school the best - and I believe we all should.

- Fedmomof2

kellie said...

I'm a little late to this party.

Both Director Blanford and Optimistic are so far removed from the reality of the situation, it is unlikely that engaging them with some basic facts would have any meaningful impact.

The root of the problem was simply that the 2013 Board grossly overstepped their authority, when they created the 2020 Growth Boundaries Plan. When the board voted on the Growth Boundaries Plan in Nov 2013, it was the most politically charged and convoluted board meeting, I have ever attended and that includes all of the school closure meetings. This meeting, Director Blanford described was civilized, meticulous and quite frankly, restored my faith in basic local democracy.

The PDF of the board packet for the 2013 Growth Boundaries vote was over 350 pages, much of which is various amendments and attachments and variations within the amendments. It was also the last official vote for outgoing board members and there was an intense pressure to "get it done." By the end of the night, nobody, including myself, truly understood what had been passed, with all the various back and forth and conflicting amendments.

The 2013 board knew that they were making complex and detailed decisions based on outdated enrollment information. All of the boundaries were based on 2012 enrollment data, which was over 1,000 students less than the 2013 enrollment. The 2013 Board so completely understood that they plan was flawed that they included instructions for staff to review and course correct the plan on an annual basis.

The 2016 Board has my absolute respect. Our current board simply refused to implement changes that were not necessary and in my opinion were never necessary. They didn't make changes so much as they restored the status quo by refusing to implement disruption for disruptions's sake.

Anonymous said...

I second everything Kellie wrote.

Also, Palatine, I haven't heard anyone complaining about their child not being geo-split from their school. The parents I have heard from have expressed relief and gratitude.

-North-end Mom

kellie said...

Optimistic deeply misunderstands the situation at Cedar Park.

Representative Gerry Pollet testified at the board meeting, requesting that Cedar Park become an option school. Rep Pollet's testimony was very compelling in that he is the elected representative for the 46th district that includes the future Cedar Park school, as well as the person who secured the funding from the State of Washington to open Cedar Park.

Rep Pollet's reminded the board of a few basics.

1) The highest poverty census track in Seattle is Lake City, the area immediately around the school. He shared details of how the cognitive dissonance of the highest poverty area of Seattle, being in "affluent" north end, creates challenges working with both the City of Seattle and the State and this makes it difficult to get the appropriate services in that area.

2) In 2013, Rep Pollet secured the money to open Cedar Park as an interim location to be used as Olympic Hills, John Rogers and potentially Sacajawea were rebuilt. The plan was never to have a permanent school in this location. Had that been the plan, he would have secured a different amount of money and wing would have been added to the building, not portables.

Those are basic simple facts. Those facts were disregarded during the 2013 vote when there was a last minute push to add extra capacity in North Seattle, with no extra funding. Cedar Park was not included in the BEX IV plan and therefore never received the same level of vetting as the other projects.

The 2016 board did the basic vetting that should have been done in 2013. They agreed with Rep Pollet, the North Seattle Neighborhood council, the PTAs from all the affected schools, and hundreds of families that submitted information about this plan.

kellie said...

Optimistic comments about marginalized students and their needs and the political capital of more affluent families, does not reflect the reality of the NNE Seattle in any way.

Olympic Hills, Olympic View, John Rogers and Sacajawea are the schools that are doing the hard work of closing the achievement gap, year after year. These are schools that should be studied and replicated elsewhere.

Once again, the highest poverty census track in Seattle is along Lake City way. These four schools each share a portion of this high poverty area with a more affluent area creating schools that are much more balanced. The unmodified plan would have created four schools that became much whiter and much wealthier, while Cedar Park absorbed the highest concentration of poverty.

These fours schools collaborated with each other and refused become gentrified at the cost of re-segregating the NNE. If families wanted what optimistic so boldly and happily has insinuated, all they needed to do ... was nothing.

kellie said...

What was most shocking about Dir Blanford's article is his disregard for Board President Betty Patu. Betty Patu has a long standing track record for her advocacy for students. From her days at Rainier Beach high school and on the board, Betty has been consistent in her commitment to all students.

Betty was very clear about her direct support for these changes in North Seattle because of the direct impact these changes would have had on students and the learning communities that are closing the achievement gap. Additionally, Betty is very well aware of the financial impacts. As the current longest standing board member, as well as an advocate during all the rounds of school closures, she understand the reality of the budget.

Betty paid attention to the details and made her decision. Dir Blanford did not attend most of the meetings.

Anonymous said...

This is so concerning that Director Blanford would write an op ed misrepresenting the Board decision making process, blasting his fellow board members, pitting schools and communities against each other, ignoring funding inadequacies in our state, and inaccurately pontificating about student learning. I believe these other six Board members will do their best to look out for our kids and I'm thankful they are mature enough to work with him so gracefully. It CANT be easy.

Still many big decisions...write the board to let them know your thoughts, and thank them while you're at it. They earn a tiny stipend for their service and boy do they put in a ton of time.

I'm hoping for the best for Licton Springs, Whitman, Cascadia, Cedar Park and Eagle Staff this January...and everyone affected by the pending decisions.

Hopeful

Oh Please said...

Weren't boundary changes done in part to help Olympic Hills? Olympic Hills is a school that is successfully serving high need students.

Isn't there a policy that prevents board directors from disparaging their colleagues in public??

Blanford is wayyyy out of line.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, there is policy on how Board members treat each other. I'll be interested to see how that plays out (but probably not publicly.)

Kellie, I appreciate all your remarks and hard work and I plan on say some of the exact same things - albeit abbreviated - at tomorrow night's Board meeting. I'll put up those remarks after I give them.

One silent cue to watch tomorrow night - Blanford's body language. He tends to reveal a lot as he sits thru Board meetings. (My late husband used to wonder how I could stand so many meetings and I often told him that when you know the players, it is a lot more interesting.)

Anonymous said...

Optimistic a.k.a. Blanford,

It is clear you have no familiarity with the history of Cedar Park or the 2013 growth boundary amendments. You are, however, overly familiar with senior staff.

BeenThere

Melissa Westbrook said...

BeenThere, we do not out people at this blog. Please do not do that.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

You are right. Sorry.

Been There

Anonymous said...

How is the $11 million spent on MTSS? Is the money going to kids on campuses/in buildings or to staff training? I haven't seen any increase in support for students in my building. We had some sort of training that mentioned it. But $11 million worth could buy 110 teachers.
-$?s

Anonymous said...

There is a rumor going around that one of the board members is collecting the emails to and from all the other board members. If true how is this legal and what do they possibly intend to do with all the emails. Sounds like paranoia to me.

--Math counts

Anonymous said...

What is MTSS? short version please.


???

Anonymous said...

@Math Counts--how would a Board member do that? Seems paranoid, but also difficult and contentious. How exhausting that they have to CYA from each other, rather than working as a team.

Blaimford

Anonymous said...

???
MTSS - Multi-Tiered Systems of Support
http://www.k12.wa.us/MTSS/default.aspx
-ABC

Anonymous said...

I wonder whether most commenters have actually read Blanford's piece. I didn't find it incendiary. Blanford's votes last month had already set him apart. This piece explains why. He's clearly alarmed that when groups of parents advocate loudly for a particular cause, the Board loses sight of bigger issues. This time, the looming deficit took a back seat to issues raised by school boundary changes. Spending extra money to improve the situation in NE Seattle would be the right move in some years, but perhaps not when the District faces the layoff of dozens of teachers to close the 2017-18 budget gap.

I appreciate that Blanford made clear in this op-ed why he voted the way he did, and agree that the Board needs to more explicitly consider how its decisions impact finances and the effort to close the Achievement Gap.

- Central Region Parent

Anonymous said...

reposting for the person who can't count:

I wonder whether most commenters have actually read Blanford's piece. I didn't find it incendiary. Blanford's votes last month had already set him apart. This piece explains why. He's clearly alarmed that when groups of parents advocate loudly for a particular cause, the Board loses sight of bigger issues. This time, the looming deficit took a back seat to issues raised by school boundary changes. Spending extra money to improve the situation in NE Seattle would be the right move in some years, but perhaps not when the District faces the layoff of dozens of teachers to close the 2017-18 budget gap.

I appreciate that Blanford made clear in this op-ed why he voted the way he did, and agree that the Board needs to more explicitly consider how its decisions impact finances and the effort to close the Achievement Gap.

- Central Region Parent

nc


Anonymous said...

so crp why do you think that most haven't read blandford's post when many are quoting from it?

how do you account for him saying that there are cost to these changes ( regardless of how much merit there is in making these changes) and then say there wasn't adequate review of the monetary effects. he burn't his own strawman, no?

he is a shill for the city and the district and mary bass is probably laughing her butt off right now to see this. his only constiteunts are the folks who aren't paying attention or who want a city take over. good luck with that oversight.

nc

Anonymous said...

Central Region Parent wrote:

"Spending extra money to improve the situation in NE Seattle would be the right move in some years"

Improve the situation? Really?

If the Board hadn't stepped in, splitting Olympic Hills and John Rogers to open Cedar Park as an assignment school would have triggered a cascade of geo-splits which would have impacted over a dozen school communities across North Seattle. Almost 900 elementary school students would have been geo-split in order to fill Cedar Park as an assignment school (capacity of about 300, including its 8 portable classrooms). Olympic Hills and Olympic View would have experienced almost 50% turnover of their school communities next year.

It probably would have been cheaper to just assign the poor kids in Lake City to the portables already in place at Cedar Park, and shift everyone towards the excess assignment capacity in the far NNE, rather than place portables where they are needed, at schools miles away. I say it probably would have been cheaper, because there was no financial analysis, so we don't actually know. Thank goodness the majority of Board members view kids as more than capacity management widgets.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Everyone read Blanford article and that is why they are shocked. They are shocked he wouldn't see that the Board amendments reversed recommendations that created human costs/disruption, rather than creating new costs. Status quo is not adding new costs. The grandfathering is only for a handful of students and they asked for a cost analysis prior to deciding. Why flame them? They have been asking for more data for months, but the District is hiding facts and figures. The District should be the source of his concern and frustration. And it makes no sense the pit north and south communities against each other.

Blaimford

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, again, that Director Blanford is not telling the public the full story on the budget issues should tell you everything you need to know. I agree with Blaimford; I believe he is trying pit region against region, program against program and school against school.

I say again - if anyone is interested in running in the Central Region, I would be happy to sit down with you over coffee and talk about the issues of running. Contact me at sss.westbrook@gmail.com.

Anonymous said...

Director Blanford makes a good point about late amendments. Just look at the shocking amendment to let 8th graders remain at their middle schools. This might be ok for some middle schools, but it's a terrible idea for Hamilton which needs immediate relief from severe overcrowding. Why serve a few students instead of helping out the vast majority at a school that now has 250-300 kids over capacity.

Helen

Anonymous said...

Of course we read his post. Intelligent discussion requires knowledge. Last time I looked, Central/South Seattle does not have a monopoly on children living in poverty. So one would think he'd be all for helping the kids who would have been most adversely impacted by the Cedar Park scenario.

My personal feeling is that he's playing a dangerous game of US vs THEM - that very rarely works out in the long run. He's certainly entitled to take whatever tack he wants but actions (and words) always have consequences, however unanticipated.

reader47

BLAMEford said...

I read the op=ed and I also read the comment section. There was a very compelling comment from an individual named "Maggie". She spoke of Olympic Hills, poverty and the gap that is being closed. What are Blanford's thoughts on this issue. Should the board have allowed the district to blow-up a school that is meeting the needs of at risk kids? What would Blanford say to these parents?

State Representative told the board he was committed to bringing resources to Seattle. Pollet has a history of securing funds for Seattle. He also asked the board to address the issue related to Cedar Park. Was Blanford at that board meeting?

i understand fear, but publicly disparaging your colleagues for helping a high need school is not the way to go.

Not once, did I see Blanford speak of going to Olympia.

Nice job being divisive Blanford.

kellie said...

Sharon Peaslee, former school Board President, is scheduled to testify tonight. Presumably, she is planning to share the intention of the 2013 board and the plan they created with regard to Licton Springs.

This should be a profound indication of just how complex and complicated the original Growth Boundaries process was. Former board members and State Representatvies are giving formal official testimony about the source of these decisions and requesting that the current board make decisions in the light of both the historical and the current context.

Dir Blanford opinion piece has completely ignored this complexity.

In all my years of advocacy, I have found SPS staff to be predominately thoughtful and hard working. You don't go into education if you don't fundamentally care about students and learning. However, staff turnover can create critical gaps in institutional memory. We are all suffering from the loss of long time head of enrollment Traci Libros. Traci was one of the only people who truly understood all of the nuances of the old choice assignment plan and the current attendance area assignment plan.

Dir Blauford's support of staff is important. However, staff have one point of view and the parents and families that are the "boots on the ground" have another point of view. The board has a challenging job of balancing the competing priorities of downtown and constituents.

Sometimes the boots on the ground are right. Sometimes staff is right. Agreeing with constituents is not the same as "acceding to demands." It is discernment.

The job of the board is to evaluate all the information and make the best leadership decisions they can. They would be doing everyone a disservice if they agreed with either constituents or staff 100% of the time.

During the closures, several board members, felt it was a moral imperative to agree with staff and therefore voted to close schools, even though they agreed with the testimony of the community. How did that plan work out for everyone?

Anonymous said...

@Helen wouldn't solve the problem to just send the students from Hamilton to RESMS why gerrymander students from Whitman into RESMS. SPS needs to stop with the social engineering.

Kitcat

Lynn said...

HIMS has three groups of students - HCC, language immersion and a small general education non-language immersion population. The immersion students can't be split because it would be too expensive to provide the classes they need to small groups of students in two buildings. District staff are adamant that HCC students can't be the majority in a middle school so they can't all be moved out of HIMS into REMS. This means the gen ed population at HIMS has to stay and another school (Whitman) has to provide general education students to dilute the HCC population at REMS.

Anonymous said...

Are you providing a plausible explanation for why Whitman was chosen to be disrupted or something else?

Kitcat

Lynn said...

I'm suggesting that it's not possible to populate REMS without moving students from Whitman. I thought Whitman was overcrowded too. The school has 16 portables on site. If the school's enrollment drops, how many of those could be used in other locations?

Anonymous said...

This was "social engineering":

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/03/sports/sammy-lee-dies-asian-american-olympic-gold.html

Keeping low income students from the deleterious academic effects of warehousing,
and making sure underrepresented but talented students have access to HC is not
"social engineering".

Let's not allow such false rhetoric and mis-labeling to become normalized on this blog.

FWIW

Melissa Westbrook said...

FWIW, considering it's my blog, I'll take your advice under consideration.

Eric B said...

Lynn asked "I thought Whitman was overcrowded too. The school has 16 portables on site. If the school's enrollment drops, how many of those could be used in other locations?"

If those are the same portables that were there 4-5 years ago, most were very old (like 1950's era) and likely would not meet code in another location. Loyal Heights had some portables of that vintage and some newer ones. The newer ones have been moved to other schools, but the old ones are being demolished. I don't know what the code issues are (floor area? number of exits? asbestos? etc.) but I would assume that if portables were usable, they'd be somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

@ Helen, allowing grandfathering of 8th graders would still offer HIMS some relief, as many of the rising HCC 6th and 7th graders currently at HIMS will be relocated to REMS. HIMS HCC students don't appear to be getting the "everyone can stay" deal that Whitman's students are getting. I don't know the exact numbers, but those current 6th and 7th graders who are REMS-bound next year probably number about 200 or so. That'll help.

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

fwiw dr. lee's story is not about social engineering at all it is about out and out bigotry. you seem to conflate the two with your apartheid rants. have you ever heard or are you aware of anyone being paid by sps saying sorry we won't serve brown people in hc? point that stuff out as that is a firing offense. if you think tolley is doing this be caveat i beg to differ. he seems to doing just the opposite; trying to make hc for none so all can be "equally" served... but the true result is then gen ed kids get what they need and hc kids do not. right back to the 1950's style education.

nc





Anonymous said...

@ FWIW, although making sure underrepresented but talented students have access to HC at the same percentage as racial demographics in the district, regardless of early childhood development and readiness for academic acceleration, could be considered
"social engineering." The legislature wants children to qualify at equal rates, but that's more a value judgment/goal than a reflection of where children are at. Socioeconomic factors negatively impact these underrepresented groups at disproportionate rates. We can either accept that and place children based on their current ability to meet eligibility criteria, or we can do a little social engineering and let in students who might not yet qualify but who we think have great potential, in the hopes that we can eventually engineer more equal rates of participation.

reality bites

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear about the impacts on many of the Whitman students that are targeted to move to REMS. The current 6th graders just arrived from one of the neighborhood k-5s, lets count that as one school, check. Now they are at Whitman, that's 2 schools, check. If they move to RESMS that with be 3 schools in 3 years...ain't going to happen, but lets say for arguments sake it does. Once they more on to HS, that will make 4 schools in 5 years. Wow that will have a positive effect on learning don't ya think? Music, lets just punt that down the road. Continuing on your current sports team, gone.

I'm 100% sure all current 6th and 7th graders are going to stay at Whitman and NO Whitman is not crowded or to use incorrect phrase "over crowded". There are under 900 students this year at Whitman, no crowding.

I don't know if this whole mess is social engineering or not, but I do find it interesting that SPS wants to scoop up a huge area of kids living in 1-3 million dollar homes and place them within 500 ft of chronic drug users living in tiny little houses. Maybe SPS wants the remaining children not attending private school in the NW to start attending private school. Hell maybe they think parents will go along with the move and bring their huge check books straight to the RESMS PTSA.

Staying @Whitman



Anonymous said...

It looks like there's a bunch of empty lots across from Roosevelt high school. Why not place the homeless camp right there?

I think the high schoolers would be better prepared to deal with it and it might motivate them to do well in High school.

Placing all these K-8 graders in harms way is gross negligence on the City's and school district's part.

CPc

Ballard Resident said...

Whitman draws from the Broadview neighborhood and there are pockets of poverty.

Anonymous said...

I doubt there is much poverty between 110th to 145th west of 3rd NW or east of 3rd and north of 137th in the west side of greenwood. I don't see much poverty, but I sure can see many swimming pools looking on google maps satellite view. Must be nice, take a look.

If I'm not mistaken Obama had a fund raiser back in Nov 2013 in that area NOT the highlands , just in the poor area of Broadview...yikes!

I remember this because of all the protesters out on 145th and greenwood and there were police cars at every intersection.

--NorthEnd

Anonymous said...

@ Staying@Whitman, I understand you don't want your kid to move, but you do understand that when new neighborhood schools open boundaries have to get adjusted, right? Whitman isn't the only school to be imnpacted. Oh, and your argument that since you have a lot of expensive homes in the area you shouldn't share the impact isn't doing you (or your neighbors) any favors.

As for the "4 schools in 5 years" argument, that's not that unusual. Middle school is three years, so counting the year before and the year after that's 3 schools in 5 years for most. If you move during middle school, or need a new placement for whatever reason, that's 4. There are a lot of transitions during those years, and kids can take it. Better than some parents, apparently.

reality bites

Anonymous said...

It's refreshing to know all the kids at Whitman get to stay at Whitman, there's nothing worst for synergy than the negative energy caused by forced busing.
The silver lining news, this opens a great opportunity for SPS to create a new social justice focused middle school at RESMS. Even better if it's tightly coupled with Licton springs they can do a sudo foreign student exchanges without leaving the site, how fun. If they do it right I suspect families will relocate possibly to the OakTree Motel or go all in and stay at the Days in just to have their children attend RESMS. What a chance to start a legacy.

Sounds like there's a little snobbery coming from parents at HIMS about possibly being the only privileged group having to endure a significant FRL cohort. To those parents I say, shame on you.

Chipper

Anonymous said...

Did Blanford show up for the board meeting tonight?

Back stage

Ballard Resident said...

Whitman's boundary line extends past 99 and to I 5. These are the areas in which you will find higher percentages of low income and transient populations.

http://washington.hometownlocator.com/schools/profiles,n,whitman%20middle%20school,z,98117,t,pb,i,1122938.cfm




TheGoodFight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

CPc, the Sisley brothers own the lots across from Roosevelt and, apparently, have plans.

Yes, Director Blanford was at the Board meeting. He was the only director to vote against Sue Peters for president. (He also gave me a pretty big glare when I sat at the Media table. C'est la vie.)

Anonymous said...

In his board comments, Blanford quoted Michelle Obama and said he was "going high."

-reality check

needa newdirector said...

@rc,
So much for "going high". Attacking fellow Directors, writing an incendiary op-ed, voting against Director Peters (who has been waiting longer than anyone for her turn at the role of Board President, what was his justification?!), and generally causing dissent at every opportunity -- while at the same time, not questioning very poor decisions by staff, and chiding his fellow directors for actually doing their job, using due diligence and pushing back when necessary.

Blanford is using the media to foment dissent, how Trump-like. He is definitely "going low".

Anonymous said...

Plenty of reasons to vote against Director Peters for board President and they were all on display in her acceptance remarks. The most obvious reason is that she is divisive, both in manner and in her view of the students she serves. When she could have taken the time to clarify that she has a reason for being on the board beyond HCC, she chose to reiterate her view that the district is composed of different learners as though difference was the most salient feature of educatiion. When you dedicate yourself to noticing and maintaining difference, rather than inclusion, in a country steeped in racism etc, and you then follow that up with contemptuous remarks about journalistic accuracy, directed towards a fellow director whose district includes some of the most historically disadvantaged, then it gives one pause as to whether the board can make progress on closing the opportunity gap, while Director Peters is at the board's helm.

Optimistic

Anonymous said...

Optimistic in case you haven't noticed there are now 3 persons of color on the board and from everything I seen, read from or about Dir. Harris, she is overly committed to minority issues. What do have to say about that?


GHP

Anonymous said...

Describing a population as "ghetto" is hardly indicative of sensitivity in such matters. Of greater importance is how Director Harris votes and what she advocates for. To date she has not been supportive of Honors for all at Garfield or the pilot HCC pathway at Madison, both new efforts to expand opportunity.

Optimistic

Anonymous said...

@Optimistic,

Ok then we should see voting breaking 4-3 if what you say is true, but that's not happening. What do say then?

GHP

Anonymous said...

Let's just say Director Peters knows whom to flatter.

Optimistic

Anonymous said...

@Optimistic

I didn't interpret Director Harris' "ghetto" remarks as referring to the intended population of the school...it was, in my opinion, more of a reference to how the school would have been perceived if SPS had gone along with the original plan, which was to re-assign most of Lake City's children of color and children living into poverty into their own school at Cedar Park, where they would be housed within a sub-standard building interim building, with no library and maxed out with 8 unplumbed portables from day one.

Did you drink the kool-aid and truly believe that mitigation funds would magically appear to fund the construction of an appropriately-sized dedicated library at Cedar Park, put sinks in the portables, add bathroom stalls, and purchase new furniture (instead of using decades-old hand me downs from Olympic Hills), etc...? Although these types of improvements to Cedar Park were nominated by community members for BTAIV, they were not approved. Where would the funds have come from to make the educational environment for these kids anywhere near as equitable as what their former classmates would experience in the new Olympic Hills building?

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but you just don't use such terminology. It's particularly offensive coming from a public official. There's no defending it. The fact that you have difficulty seeing this, well.......


Optimistic

Anonymous said...

Well, thank goodness the horrific plan for Cedar Park was shut down. And we can all move on.

-Nort-end Mom

BLAMEford said...

Blanford is divisive. How can anyone not notice that the entire board has marginalized him and for good reason.

I've never seen Blanford put forth an amendment- not once. When it came to writing a resolution regarding SBAC- which disadvantages students of color- Blanford tried to shut down the conversation in committee. He was the chair of the committee at the time.

BLAMEford said...

Blanford has been disparaging his colleagues in public- for YEARS. At one point, I recall a story about Blanford publicly disparaging Patu- an English Language Learner and woman of color.

Anonymous said...

SBAC does not disadvantage students of color. Quite the opposite. It's an inclusion instrument.

Optimistic

seattle citizen said...

Optimistic, you write that we shouldn't use the word "ghetto" (although, of course, context is everything) which seems to suggest that you are mindful of language and ideas as they may be interpreted by others, particularly words and ideas that might be hurtful. Yet in the other thread you blithely dismiss the idea of the sacred land of indigenous people. Can you explain this apparent dichotomy? We must NOT use the word "ghetto," yet who cares if land is sacred? Are the ideas and beliefs of Native peoples to be dismissed, then?

And Director Peters "chose to reiterate her view that the district is composed of different learners as though difference was the most salient feature of education"?
Ummm, that IS a good thing, to recognize that individuals learn differently, right? Right? And that IS one of the "the most salient features of education," correct?
You think to recognize different sorts of learning is "divisive," then go onto chastise Director Harris for not supporting HCC at Madison? Which is it? Different sorts of learners need support, or they don't? What are you saying, exactly?

Oh, and on SBAC, jeez, where to start....nevermind.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is any record of an agreement about "scared" ground in the amendment that dedicated space for Pinehurst at Lincoln. I don't know that there legally could be as it might violate the separation of church and state. I think bringing "sacred" into the discussion may not be the best way to create security for Licton Springs and that is why I prefer not to focus on that. I believe the issue of sacredness is outside the scope of public schools, except perhaps in the case of a major anthropological or other cultural discovery on school grounds. Hope that helps on that issue.

Re, Director Peters. I believe she speaks in code to a targeted HCC audience and that her remarks about different kinds of learners is a nod to that constituency. As long as you can proclaim that there is difference then you can justify separate programs, despite incontrovertible evidence that homogenous settings produce greater success. In addition an allusion to difference could be interpreted as a confirmation of bias, if that is the first thing one concentrates on. She also did not reference dedicating herself to ending the opportunity gap and chose instead to use some of her time admonishing Director Blanford. I felt very uncomfortable watching this privileged person assert her superiority.

Re. Director Harris and HCC at Madison. While not an advocate of separate HCC, by expanding to Madison the possibility of creatively expanding and exploring new HCC interpretations there may provide more opportunity to those traditionally excluded. Director Harris seems far too comfortable with the status quo around HCC and once again she was no advocate for change at Garfield.

Optimistic




Lynn said...

Optimistic - You are wrong. Research shows that grouping children by ability produces better results for both lower and higher achieving students.

https://tip.duke.edu/about/news/new-analysis-finds-two-measures-boost-k-12-academic-achievement

Anonymous said...

All children have ability but they may differ in skills and interests. Using the term ability in an academic setting is hopelessly outmoded. The Duke study is new but there are countless studies from both the US and other countries that demonstrate that homogenous settings create better overall achievement. The emphasis is on overall. If we are paying for public education from the public purse then we must ensure that the emphasis is on benefit for all.

Optimistic

Anonymous said...

I have not seen countless studies promoting homogeneous learning. Show me the data.

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

I think Finland's continuous high PISA ranking says it all. FInland does not track. They expect everyone to be successful. Now it is true that their rankings have declined a little recently, which some attribute to economic austerity and less educational investment, but they still rank much higher consistently than the US. Countries with highly tracked systems perform less well on the macro level than countries that track early and extensively.

Optimistic

Anonymous said...

Finland has sooooo many other things they do right. They have the resources to differentiate --they provide training, curriculum, small class sizes, lots of recess and play, no testing.... it is apples and oranges.

If our class sizes were 15 and we have curriculum and teacher support--I'd say "he'll yeah! Let's get back to the neighborhood schools and end tracking! So long as they have books and materials and teachers ready to scale up or down to meet every kid's needs. Sounds awesome!!

Pipe Dream

z said...

Optimistic touts Finland's education system, but that comparison has long been deemed ill-considered at best, more realistically, it's completely misleading.

Many, many refutals have been published, here's one:
http://www.startribune.com/finland-not-an-apt-educational-model-for-u-s-schools/266823501/

It doesn't take deep research to understand that Finland has one of the lowest poverty rates in the world, almost no ELL to speak of, an extremely homogeneous society with very little immigration, the list goes on. You're comparing apples and oranges. I have a hard time believing you're completely ignorant of this, and the only other explanation I can come up with for such an ignorant comment at this point is that you're flailing now, trying to justify your anti-ability grouping mindset with whatever random garbage comes to mind. Just stop, you're embarrassing yourself.

Anonymous said...

http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/05/options-tracking

Comprehensive review demonstrates the harm of tracking.


Optimistic

Anonymous said...

Finland fails gifted students:
http://www.academic-capital.net/2014/01/the-state-of-gifted-education-in-finland.html?m=1

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

Finland was poor before they committed to educational reform and educational equality. It is their equal education that has enriched them. America has tracking, inequality and a declining standard of living.

Optimistic

z said...


While we're at it, Optimistic, did you even bother to read the summary of the Duke study? This was a meta-analysis of nearly 300 original research studies over the course of 100 years. This is certainly the largest study of its kind ever done.

What did they find?

"it became clear that acceleration and most forms of ability grouping can be powerfully effective interventions. They help increase academic achievement for both lower- and higher-achieving students. Moreover, these practices can yield significant academic benefits without being expensive and can even save schools money.”   

Are you saying that you believe their research is wrong? That's what it sounds like you're saying, but that would be preposterous. Let me help you out; more likely you are pointing out your own opinion is that academics are not as important as "blended learning". That's fine if you have that opinion, just be very clear in understanding your own thinking and motivations, understand that it is an opinion, not fact, and understand that most people do not agree with you.

Lastly, remember that the benchmarks you and others tout as "gap measurements" are in fact based on academic achievement. If you want to satisfy the bean counters, you'd better make sure academics are top priority, otherwise the gaps will continue to persist forever.

Anonymous said...

The Duke study looks at the effect of acceleration, not necessarily the long term effects of tracking. Nor does it look at the effects on students who were not accelerated. It is not a macro analysis like PISA. Given that it is supposedly a hundred year review, I wonder who exactly was being accelerated all those years and what schools they came from and how that would distort the findings.

Optimistic

z said...

@Optimistic. Reading the Mathis paper, in the very first paragraph he defines tracking as: "enrolling students in particular classes, curricula and courses of study based on perceived ability"

I did continue reading, but it's hard to take anything serious when people use such horribly coded language as that.

Reading through parts of his brief, in particular his anti-ability grouping missive, he cites the same biased authors over and over, Oakes, Burris, their ilk. And when citing the Loveless research he includes a laughable disclaimer.

I doubt this conversation is going anywhere. I've seen the destruction firsthand in multiple classrooms, multiple schools, multiple children, of NOT giving students who are either ahead or behind the ability to work at their level - WITH PEERS working at similar levels. There is no way to deny damage this causes at both ends of the spectrum, and many of us have seen it time and time again, year after year. It's the reason why families are not willing to give up APP/HCC, even with all its warts. And yes, it clearly does have warts.

I'm willing to engage in one more narrowly scoped question though. You said above "As long as you can proclaim that there is difference then you can justify separate programs".

Do you believe that there is no quantifiable difference in learning styles and abilities? Do you believe that "all children are gifted"? As well, are all children gifted in music? In language? In math? In sports? I think your answer here will be very telling, and will frame any potential ongoing conversations.

Anonymous said...

You seem to be switching terms between "ability" and "gifted." I'm not sure they are interchangeable and as there is no "gifted" program in SPS, the discussion of this passé terminology is futile.

Also you are using the constant bait and switch on here of bringing sports and music into the discussion. Children are not being assessed in those areas to determine academic placement. They do not affect their scholastic prospects and the attendant results, whether it's where they go to school, the cohort composition and the future academic opportunity. Simply not relevant.

is there variety amongst children in how they learn and what they are interested in? Absolutely. Nature welcomes variety. The uniqueness of every child is to be valued. Creative classrooms with creative teachers should resonate with the recognition that every child there is distinctive. Is normal variation a reason to create separate tracked academic programs? No. The risk of cultural abuse is too great and these programs, such as HCC become active conduits for reinforcing privilege and continuing historic discrimination.

Rather than fixating on such emotionally charged terms as "gifted," a better use of energy might be to campaign for better teaching. Lack of imaginative teaching, with children engaged in old-fashioned desk bound work and repetitive tasks does lead to frustration. Finland invested in better teaching rather than tracking. It paid off.

Optimistic

Lynn said...

Finland's system is successful in ensuring that very few students fail to meet grade level standards. Very few of their students are high achievers. Is that they goal of our school system? If so, why bother providing services to any students who meet grade level standards at the beginning of the year? Just test them all and send the advanced students home. That'll leave more resources for reducing the achievement gap.

Anonymous said...

@Lynn
I don't think you understand what learning is- or the benefits of educated citizens. You have a false notion of a bell curve that does not exist.

Optimistic

Anonymous said...

forget it folks optimistic is stuck in a rut. they don't care about a comprehensive review of ability group versus differentiated local classrooms. you know how deluded they are when the talk about finland versus us. fool's folly. they give optimism a bad name.

-nc

seattle citizen said...

Optimistic, I have been involved in solving race and equite issues in SPS for years, and I will say that you have the language down.
But you are wrong to dismiss the idea of sacred grounds, particularly using some legalistic jargon to push it aside. Really? You really don't believe it's pertinent?
You keep telling us that it's for their own good, Licton Spring's, that you argue against "sacred" and for transferring them to CP, but you appear to be all over the map regarding which students you support and which you don't, so you certainly come across as having an agenda, and an opaque on, at that.
If we are going to argue for different groups of students in SPS, we argue for ALL the differences. NA and AA and ELL and Specoal Ed and HCC. Arguing for equity while blowing off promises made to a community, blowing off their cultural affiliation (their "sacred" association) with a place is divisive and....odd. What's your game? You have all the WORDS of one fighting for equity, but what's behind them?

z said...

You seem to be switching terms between "ability" and "gifted." I'm not sure they are interchangeable and as there is no "gifted" program in SPS, the discussion of this passé terminology is futile.

Passé?! LOL. What terminology is acceptable to you? SPS AL generally uses "highly capable" now, but that's a very recent change, and take a look at the SPS Advanced Learning Resources page. I guess "gifted" isn't as passé as you seem to think. What does NAGC stand for? Or WAETAG? How about the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children? There are many hundreds of GATE or TAG programs in our country alone, the 2 terms speak for themselves.

In any case, it's not particularly germane because gifted generally refers to talent/ability (go ahead, look it up in a dictionary) as opposed to achievement, which is a very different measure, as I'm sure you know. Clearly there are more complexities around what these things mean and if or how they are developed, but you're ignoring the meat of the question.

Also you are using the constant bait and switch on here of bringing sports and music into the discussion. Children are not being assessed in those areas to determine academic placement. They do not affect their scholastic prospects and the attendant results, whether it's where they go to school, the cohort composition and the future academic opportunity. Simply not relevant.

You're being ridiculous, and of course ignoring the question. But you are 100% wrong about these distinctions and placements affecting scholastic prospects, including where they go to school and future opportunities. Many, MANY students college opportunities depend on high school athletics, and music, though to a lesser degree. I know a bunch of kids personally who were able to gain admission to, and get scholarships for, schools where they would have otherwise had very little chance, including some of the most elite universities in the nation. So beyond ignoring the very relevant question (go for it, I'll give you another chance to answer), you are absolutely wrong. Will you admit when you are wrong?

I have more, but I'm not sure it's worth continuing if you're not listening. Go ahead, change my mind.

z said...

Thank you Seattle Citizen. That is the spirit we all need to work together in this district - and in our world. Sometimes there are situations where it's extremely difficult to satisfy everyone's needs and compromises are required, but sometimes it's as easy as deciding to serve all children as best we can.

Unfortunately, as you noted here, some people have opaque, divisive agendas (optimistic and fwiw come to mind immediately, but there have been others over the years). They support some students, but feel a complete disregard for others. Usually it's in the name of some warped interpretation of "equity", and typically it's APP/HCC kids that get thrown under the bus, but this time it's Native Americans. Physical space constraints will be challenging to deal with, but personally, I hope the district can be convinced (or shamed!) into abiding by its earlier agreement with the Licton Springs.

Anonymous said...

@disAPPointed, Lynn, Staying@whitman
Not only HCC students are moving from Hamilton to Eaglestaff. There are other students as well. How does this work if no Whitman kids attend the school? There will be language immersion, HCC, general ed etc. multiple program kids moving to Eaglestaff from Hamilton. They need Whitman kids.
A board member had stated at a meeting middle school mitigation funding (for small classes) is on the table with the Levy cliff issue. If 8th graders are not grandfathered via amendment Jan 4th, many will not get small math classes, foreign language forget band orchestra. JAMS had difficulty without the levy cliff and kids had to be homeschooled. The school really should be a roll up of just 6th and 7th. There will ALSO be some 7th graders needing small classes as well, but if no 8th graders, more funding for 6th and 7th.
-T