In the Friday Memo of December 2, Superintendent Nyland characterized the adults reviewing report cards with students at Garfield High School as "volunteers".
Garfield High School’s Report Card Conferences. As part of their commitment to facilitate student success in their 9th grade year, Garfield High School held their first Report Card Conferences on December 2, 2016. This was an opportunity for professional members of the community to connect with our students and speak to them about their academic goals. Each individual conference took about 5 minutes and gave an opportunity to check in with students to help them set goals related to course performance. Through asking questions, volunteers assisted students in self-reflecting, self-advocating, and setting goals. (emphasis added).
In the Friday Memo of December 9, Superintendent Nyland characterized the adults reviewing report cards with students at Garfield High School as "visitors".
Garfield High School’s Report Card Conferences. As part of their commitment to facilitate student success in their 9th grade year, Garfield High School held their first Report Card Conferences on Friday, December 2, 2016. This was an opportunity for professional members of the community to connect with our students and speak to them about their academic goals. Each individual conference took about five minutes and gave an opportunity to check in with students to help them set goals related to course performance. Through asking questions, visiting community members assisted students in self-reflecting, self-advocating and setting goals. Kim Whitworth our NE Executive Director of Schools was one of the coaches and highly recommended expanded cabinet participate in the next event.Director Nyland took the time to provide an explanation of the difference between a volunteer and a visitor:
I know this event raised some questions and concerns regarding volunteers versus visitors/guests. A volunteer is an unsalaried person authorized by the School Board to perform volunteer services for the school district. Volunteers have regular schedules and ongoing roles in our schools. Volunteers are required to have a background check run. A guest or visitor is an unsalaried person who, with district approval, assists at a school on a non-regular or one-time basis or attends a school sponsored event or activity. A guest or visitor would typically be required to report their presence at the school office or other designated location, except for specific events such as athletics, performing arts, etc. Garfield High School’s Report Card event used visitors/guests so they did not need to have a background check. Hopefully this background information clears up questions in our community.So, to be clear, an unsalaried person who, with district approval, assists at a school on a non-regular or one-time basis - say, chaperoning a dance or a field trip - can be classified as a visitor. The difference is not based on the type of assistance they provide or the type of interaction the person has with students, but just whether the assistance is one-time or non-regular. Of course, "non-regular" is a pretty subjective determination.
It would appear that what we have here is the creation of new classification designed specifically to evade regulation. Sort of how an advisory committee can be made exempt from the policies that govern advisory committees by calling it a "task force", a school can evade the policies and procedures that govern volunteers by calling their volunteers "visitors". Got it. Hats off to the superintendent for codifying this method for evading policy and procedure.
Michael Tolley reports that the Preschool Taskforce held its final meeting and will deliver a report to the Superintendent regarding the impacts, risks and benefits for sustaining and expanding the Seattle Preschool Program within Seattle Public Schools on December 15. Can't wait to read it.
The District is having trouble differentiating between Alternative Learning Experience schools and Service Schools. Apparently they are two different names for the same thing. Or not. It's not clear. What is clear is that the District is concerned about "marketing". Someone please read this and make sense of it for me.
Flip Herndon has pretty much stopped writing anything in the Capital Update portion of the Friday Memo. All he says is "see attached". Why so reticent?
That may be better than the Communications Update which, ironically, is a garbled mess. Mumble, bumble, jargon, bargain about the web site. Something, something about the budget gap communication effort. An announcement of the next community engagement task force meeting is the clearest thing in the memo and I have no idea what it's talking about. What is clear is that the communications people think they are doing a bang up job. Nothing else really comes through.
The attachments include data from the survey of HCC families and Thornton Creek families around the various proposals for finding additional capacity for HCC in the North. While the HCC folks were less emphatic about it, the clear favorite is to make Decatur it's own school for HCC students - separate from Thornton Creek.
None of this is very surprising. Here's what was surprising: while only 1.4% of HCC families would be interested in enrolling their kids at Cedar Park as an option school with an emphasis on advanced learning, 10.3% of the Thornton Creek families said that they would enroll their child that school. This intrigues me because 81.9% of Thornton Creek families are strongly opposed to integrating HCC students into Thornton Creek. So they would hate hate hate to have HCC at their school, but some of them would be interested in enrolling their kid at a school with an advanced learning focus. In much larger numbers than the HCC families are interested. Hmmm. I don't know what this means, but it intrigues me.
As interesting as that may be, no part of the memo is more interesting than this (yes, I put the best part at the bottom to reward those who read the whole post).
Chief Sealth is being named as the high school international pathway for the Southeast for the 2017-18 school year. So students rising from Mercer will be routed there. Of course, they can't actually enroll at Chief Sealth because the school is full of local students and does not admit out-of-area applicants. So the District has designated a choice that they won't allow anyone to exercise. Good job!
Wait. It gets worse. Survey results show that almost no one in the program (7% of the Spanish - that's one family - and 4% of the Mandarin - that's also one family) wants to enroll their child at Chief Sealth for high school. Only Rainier Beach is less popular with - ready for this? - 0% of Spanish and 0% of the Mandarin. I guess the IB at Beach isn't enough to interest them. Their most popular choice, by far, is Franklin, which is their attendance area school. This is even after they were informed that Franklin doesn't offer any classes (other than language classes) in Spanish or Mandarin and that Chief Sealth does now offer Social Studies in Spanish and can add Mandarin for Fall 2017 and allows language immersion students to take AP Spanish in the 9th grade.
So we have a situation in which the community clearly prefers Franklin over Sealth. The community even prefers Cleveland over Sealth. Franklin is their attendance area school. The District acknowledges that Sealth would only be a short-term solution. And yet... the District ends up choosing Sealth for 2017. What could possibly have been the deciding factor that made Sealth the District's choice? Only one thing:
"Based on the survey results, and principal conversations, Chief Sealth is being named as the high school international pathway for the Southeast for the 2017-18 school year."You've seen the survey results. They were strongly against Sealth. So the answer has to be the "principal conversations". In the end, the preferences of the principal at Franklin outweighed the preferences of the bulk of the community.
Think I'm kidding? Here's what Michael Tolley wrote:
Additionally, principals in the Southeast were contacted and engaged about their interest in and capacity to serve as a pathway school for the 2017-18 school year, and none of the schools had an interest and/or readiness to offer a program in 2017-18.This is how program placement works in Seattle Public Schools: ask around to see which of the principals will take the program. If none of them want it, stick it somewhere impossible.
Compare this process to the policy on program placement, Policy 2200, which says these should be the criteria by which these decisions are made:
- Place programs or services in support of district-wide academic goals;
- Place programs or services equitably across the district;
- Place programs or services where students reside;
- Place programs or services in accordance with the rules of the current student assignment plan, and as appropriate, equitably across each middle school feeder region;
- Engage stakeholders in a timely and publicly visible manner by informing, involving, and/or consulting with them as appropriate, and consider their input in the decision-making process when feasible;
- Utilize physical space resources effectively to assure that instructional and program space needs are equitably met across the district;
- Ensure that fiscal resources are taken into consideration, including analyzing current and future fiscal impacts; and
- Analyze the impact of any decision before it is made, by using data, research and best practice
- In support of district-wide goals, there should be a dual language pathway high school in the southeast at Franklin, Cleveland, or Rainier Beach.
- To place programs equitably across the district there should be a dual language pathway high school in the southeast at Franklin, Cleveland, or Rainier Beach.
- To place programs where students reside, the dual language high school for students coming out of Mercer should be Franklin.
- To place programs in accordance with the rules of the current student assignment plan, the dual language high school should be Franklin.
- The stakeholder engagement clearly shows that the dual language high school should be Franklin - by a wide margin.
- There is space available at Franklin, Cleveland and Rainier Beach. There is no space available at Chief Sealth.
- There least expensive option (transportation costs) would be Franklin
- The data, the research, and the best practice would be to place the program at Franklin.
The clear choice, based on the official process would be Franklin - by far. But everything goes right out the window if the principal says no. The principal at Franklin doesn't want it so it doesn't happen, no matter what the official process is supposed to be because the official process is not the real process.
This is a clear case in which the Board needs to step up and intervene. Good thing they amended the policy so they can.
Also - this is a decision that has been in the works for months - Michael Tolley says so in his memo an the letter to the 8th grade families is dated September 29, 2016. Yet this program placement decision was not mentioned as a pending decision in the quarterly report on program placements presented to the Board Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee on October 10. Tsk tsk. That policy needs some enforcement help, doesn't it?