Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Southeast Seattle Education Coalition Calls For Budget Protections for High Poverty Schools

From the South Seattle Emerald via Beacon Hill International School teacher, Rebecca Chase-Chen:
I am writing to call Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to shield high poverty schools from these budget cuts. It is challenging to write this because, in order to prove the importance of this move, some may feel the need to hear about what communities lack. I want to focus on the assets of our community and school: the ways we are strong, resilient, complex and creative, rather than what individuals or groups in our community don’t have. Beacon Hill International School is a vibrant, hardworking community committed to learning, growing and critical thinking.  


No school and no child should suffer from the economic turmoil of the proposed budget cuts. And, if SPS spreads the budget cuts “equally” across all schools, there are some schools where the children will suffer more. At schools like Beacon Hill, the majority of children and families live in financial insecurity*, speak languages other than English, and live at the whim of immigration law. These factors can contribute to complex trauma, which among other detrimental effects, can make it harder to learn. School communities that support children who face these challenges should not have to endure equal budget cuts, while other communities with more protective factors can weather cuts with less detrimental long term impact.

One of the key protective factors for people with complex trauma is stable positive relationships. The theme of the district-wide racial equity training this year was positive relationships. Each of the students described above has special positive relationships with adults in the school that help them do their best and learn each day. These are exactly the people whose jobs are at stake in this budget crisis. 

While all school communities have children facing challenges, Title 1 schools face higher concentrations of students living with the complex traumas of poverty, racism, and insecurity. We need to prioritize and shield them from budget cuts, which means asking some schools to take larger cuts.

Please join me in making your voice heard, email your school board member at schoolboard@seattleschools.org to ask them to protect high poverty schools, and sign the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition’s petition, translations: Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese by Friday, 6 January.    
I agree with the premise of shielding high-poverty schools from severe cuts.  But what would that cut-off F/RL number be - 50%? 60% 70%?

I would also advocate asking the City for help until funding gets stabilized. 

17 comments:

Seattle Mom said...

Would it be possible to allow non-Title I schools to raise funds to offset this? My 1st grader is in a class of 29 students. How many more kids have to be in this class before the wheels come off the bus?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle Mom, yes, your school can raise all the money it wants. The district allows parents to pay for staff so that's not an issue.

Anonymous said...

Time to move to a true district-wide PTA fund sharing mechanism. Otherwise we're following in SF's path

http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2014-02/how-budget-cuts-and-PTA-fundraising-undermined-equity-in-san-francisco-public-schools

SharetheWealth

Anonymous said...

Sure, advocate for the Title One schools but they're not the ones getting squeezed. Like society in general it's the middle that gets run over with this approach. Title One schools get a lot of funds. A lot. Schools with less than 20 percent or so students in poverty can raise big bucks. The ones with a lot of kids in poverty, but just below the Title One cut off line, get nothing and have to scratch for parent dollars. Cannot support no cuts to Title One in the face of this reality.

Middle class

Anonymous said...

More discussion about PTA fundraising:

http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2014/02/07/five-ways-to-encourage-giving-to-disadvantaged-public-schools/

"many school districts have recognized that parent fundraising creates inequities between schools. In response, some districts have created centralized education foundations to redistribute funds to schools based on need. Others have prohibited PTAs from raising funds for personnel or professional development, one of the main ways rich schools get ahead of poor ones.

The Santa Monica-Malibu school district embraced both solutions in 2011. Today the district’s education foundation is the only way parents can donate money to support teachers and staff. "

Link to the Santa Monica-Malibu foundation:

http://smmef.org/?/about/faqs


SharetheWealth

Melissa Westbrook said...

SharetheWealth, PTAs can fund staff but there is no possible way that PTAs combined could backfill enough. PTA is a private entity and they are the ones to complain to.

Middle Class makes a point that I meant to make -those in the middle will also suffer.

I'll have to think about a foundation for fundraising - that used to be the Alliance but no more. (And I would never trust them with it.)

The Santa Monica-Malibu Foundation says this:

"SMMEF is the fundraising organization that pays for staff and programs at all schools; PTAs cannot fund staff and programs. Remember - SMMEF is the only organization that can fund staff and programs. If you value instructional assistants, arts programs, and important enrichment programs, please donate to SMMEF."

Should I give to both SMMEF and the PTA at my school?

YES! We’re all in this together. Both PTA and the Ed Foundation are critical funding sources for local schools. PTAs raise funds for necessary “stuff” such as supplies, books and equipment at school sites, while your donations to SMMEF fund additional staff and programs at each school."

"Booster Clubs at the high schools are currently not part of centralized fundraising. They play a tremendously important role by targeting unmet needs locally at their school."

Who decides how donations are spent?

The SMMUSD Board of Education determines all programs funded by annual donations to SMMEF. The Superintendent makes recommendations to the Board of Education based on input from the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee (SAC), professional knowledge, and research-based best practices. SAC is a group of District stakeholders, including principals, teachers, staff, parents and community members."

That would be a big NO from me. I would not trust any committee set up by the district and/or a foundation. They have no teachers on their committee, just principals.

How much should I give to SMMEF?

Our first goal is 100% participation. For school district parents, the recommended donation is $700 per child, but every donation, regardless of amount, is greatly appreciated and will impact our students."


And, if you give a lot of money, you get a private dinner with the Superintendent plus other benefits.

Anonymous said...

Mercer Island and Northshore Schools have Foundations. Why not SPS?

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

Rather than decide which kids get hurt and which kids get protected, why aren't teachers and parents uniting to say "no cuts"? By treating cuts as inevitable, we make them a certainty, when instead we should be fighting in Olympia to get SPS fully funded - and fighting in the district office to ensure classrooms never take a hit.

Solidarity Forever

Melissa Westbrook said...

Foundations are private so those districts "have" them but they are not thru the district. Someone has to step up to do it.

Anonymous said...

Some numbers from around the district:

Whittier goal : $ 60,000
McGilvra goal : $368,000
Lawton goal : $115,000
Sacajawea goal: $ 70,000

SharetheWealth

Anonymous said...

"I would also advocate asking the City for help until funding gets stabilized. "

Yikes, be careful what you ask for, money like that comes with strings...

--NoMayoralControl

Anonymous said...

My student was at Hamilton, which most probably consider a well-funded school. However, class sizes were huge, and education really suffered. My student could not get the assistance needed, and fell through the cracks...like many others at Hamilton. To think that we should be asked to absorb even greater staffing cuts and endure even larger class sizes blows my mind. To think that we should instead need to "donate" a bunch of additional money beyond what we already do in order to just keep class sizes at the current overcrowded level is also crazy. Pay more to get less? Really? How

depressing

Anonymous said...

I would keep in mind that schools sited with HCC programs would be hurt with this idea, if you look at the non HCC population JAMS would be a high poverty school but with it's "only" 40%. However the gen ed and special ed classes are much higher than that, and we have a very high population of homeless students, growing by several a week. I'm wary of basing any decisions off percentage alone.

careful

Kathleen said...

Please consider contacting Governor Inslee's office and ask that levy issues be dealt with immediately. Levy dollars account for $30M.

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