Friday, February 01, 2019

Strategic Plan: Moving Fast

A reader requested a thread on the feedback to the draft Strategic Plan that was discussed at a Board Work Session this week. I see that the Steering Committee is having another meeting on Monday, Feb. 4th; I'll have to see if I can attend.

I did not attend this Work Session; here is the agenda/attached documentation.
I am a bit dismayed to see on page 3 the consultant group's Planning Framework.  Have they not examined past work by the district?  Because these measures/benchmarks are nothing new to the district's work.

Page 4 shows the list of meetings with stakeholders.  They had one meeting specifically for assistant principals but they could only have a single meetings in the north end?  Interesting.  (There is one last meeting tomorrow with students from the Student Advisory Board.)

As for the online survey, the majority of respondents were parents (55%) or "guardian+community member" (12%) with staff (11%).  The majority of respondents indicated they were white (53%) with "I prefer not to answer" the next highest total at 15%.

There's a section "Interim Summary of Themes."  Here's some thoughts from it (partial):
  • Opportunity exists to further simplify language and add clear definitions for key terminology to ensure that all stakeholders can fully access and understand the Strategic Plan.  
Amen to that one.
  • There is frustration caused by a perceived lack of representation of special education students and other marginalized groups...that may also be far from educational justice.  
I don't think "perceived" is necessarily the right word when, in fact, Sped students are not mentioned at all. 
  • Potential to include more rationale explaining why SPS would prioritize students of color with an intentional focus on African American males.  This could include more clearly explaining how the focus on racial equity will benefit (and not "cost") every SPS student so that they receive a high-quality, world class education.
 I'll have to make a note to tell the Board that this "world class" meme is a tired one.  I see it's in the "Vision" statement as well.

This seems to include the issue that this focus "others" or "stigmatizes" these students by focusing priorities so tightly on them.  That's a good point; maybe put the focus on low-income students of color might make that less so.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shouldn’t the overall plan be to serve all students well, with some specific priorities around groups that are particularly in need of extra attention?

It really seems like there needs to be one overarching statement that includes everyone—with a couple corresponding indicators/measures—then a few more targeted strategies to reach the at-risk groups (with other indicatorsmeasures).

If the goal is a world class education for all, what does that look like? There’s nothing in the draft that reflects that.

All types

Melissa Westbrook said...

All Types, I agree. I think that there is no statement about SPS serving all kids is troubling. I think you should let the Board know that - spsdirectors@seattleschools.org.

Anonymous said...

It's right to open the strategic plan with a discussion and focus on educational justice. It's wrong for the strategic plan to stop there. There are some folks in this district who define "equity" as taking resources from some kids and giving it to others. There's nothing equitable about that. We need to build a school system where every child has what they need, and if we need more resources to do that, we get serious about taxing the wealthy.

Mac Kenzie

Anonymous said...

That is what the principal at Washington middle School is doing. The rationale is why should you have world language classes when some students aren't up to grade level in English / language arts. And why should we focus on chemistry physics and biology when you have students performing well below grade level in math.

The answer is because those kids need those classes and should be considered basic education. The disparity of services North vs South of the ship canal should alarm everyone.

ALL STUDENTS SHOULD BE SERVED. THAT IS EQUITY.

Cool cat

Anonymous said...

Yes - equity means all children get what they need, including a great education. Anything else is by definition inequitable. It's reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator and justifying that with a frankly offensive claim that it's somehow anti-racist.

The effect of this is clear: parents are fleeing WMS as fast as they can. And the district seems to not care even the smallest bit about what is happening there, even when students show up and protest. What a failure.

Also...nobody in Seattle is going to pass a levy if it means money gets taken away from some schools just to go to others.

Georgicus

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Also...nobody in Seattle is going to pass a levy if it means money gets taken away from some schools just to go to others."

Some schools do get more money because of mitigation needs or high-risk needs. I have no problem with that. It's not as transparent as it should be, though.

I think for many parents and senior staff that feels fine because (1) those are the students with the greatest needs and (2) many schools get shored up by PTA funds.

I'm not sure that (2) is altogether fair to those schools that raise the funds but I think the district thinks the kids at those schools come from more stable homes and their parents can fundraise so it's fair.

Some forget that high-needs schools get many more grants than other schools as well as federal funds. There are some high-risk schools that have a lot of money coming into them. But all that money doesn't necessary change the dynamic when the kids are not at school. I think some people believe if funding at schools is somehow both equitable and equal, the outcomes will even out.

Will they? I don't know.

Pee Safe said...

Washington Middle School receives $8,512 of funding per student and with all that money, they haven't been able to teach the students to safely use the bathroom! All the money taxpayers pay for public education is a huge waste if schools aren't even producing students who are competent to go the bathroom. Public education fail.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember former board member Stephen Blanford stating something to the effect
that "equity does not mean equal". Therefore, by design I believe they are following a plan that focuses entirely on kids who are below grade level, excluding all others. But this is what percentage of the overall SPS public population...?

I understand those who are below need more resources than those who are grade level. More money per student is and has been spent on kids who are not up to grade level. There is also an African American focus to the strategic plan as many (but we SHOULD remember not all) of the kids not up to grade level are African American. I also thought it odd in one stated objective to focus exclusively on African American males and not females, but I believe they are trying to set a very narrow objective to make the outcome more measureable and achievable.

I am just a parent and by no means an expert in strategic plans. However, in creating a strategic plan for a public education system that is supposed to serve all kids IMO there seems to be a problem with this approach. It seems like somewhere the strategic plan should also state a focus on providing some specific baseline objective for all their public school students as is required by law.

Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

And equity doesn't mean equal. But what it means in how SPS delivers educational services to the students in the district is something of a mystery. It's irritating that it can't/won't be defined by this district. I'm happy if they just pick any dictionary definition but tell parents and the public what you mean.

Otherwise, it's just a word and maybe a tool.

I hope readers contact the Board and tell them that the Strategic Plan has to mention the goal of serving all students while understanding that those who have been historically underserved and are likely students at risk will need special care.

Anonymous said...

One important aspect of the need to focus on the overall student population is the need to also focus on overall outcome measures, such as graduation rates. With the "new" 24-credit requirement, graduation rates may fall. Data presented earlier indicated that a surprisingly large percentage of last year's 9th graders did not complete 6 units, meaning those students are already at-risk for failure to graduate if they aren't able to recover those credits somehow. Since SPS has not addressed this issue yet, a similar number of current 10th grade students will likely be in the same boat at the end of this year, meaning an even larger percentage of the class of 2021 will be at risk of not graduating on time. SPS has also punted on this for the upcoming year, meaning that the percentage may grow yet again in 11th grade (unless the students who are failing to complete 6 credits in 9th and 10th are the ones who will move on to Running Start classes in 11th, which doesn't seem likely to be the case for most).

Does the district care about overall graduation rates? If so, they're going to have to focus on providing sufficient services to everyone, not just a small portion of the school population. Providing focused and intensive and yes, more expensive, services to students most in need is great--but you can't leave everyone else out in the cold. Their mandate is to serve everyone.

do good

teach said...

I am also concerned with the direction the district is going with the science curriculum. In the quest for equity "amplify" will be enforced. It is a computer program that the district will monitor scores, not allowing for teacher input and expertise. The push is every student doing the exact same lessons at the same time. (no option school waivers) Taking the joy out of teaching and learning science. This program will only make sure every student hates science equally. Plug and play.

- anonymous

Anonymous said...

We can see where this district wants to go. It's a combination of Washington Middle School and Amplify Science. If you like that, great. If you don't, then you need to weigh in on the strategic plan. No online learning. No definition of equity that involves taking away things from some kids. And fire the WMS principal.

Delridge Dad

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