Thursday, January 04, 2007

Is TAF Toast?

According to a story by Nina Shapiro posted to the Weekly blog today, TAF is no longer planning on using Rainier Beach High School as the location for their Technology Academy. They are now setting their sights on the African American Academy.

Ms Dziko says that she learned a lot from the pushback they got at Beach and they are going to do it better this time.

Nina Shapiro's entire post follows:Plan for Rainier Beach Fizzles
Posted today at 3:49 pm by Nina Shapiro
The backlash at Rainier Beach High School seems to have proven too much for former Microsoftie Trish Millines Dziko, who had proposed partnering with the public schools to create a high-tech academy there. (See "Schooling the District.") "There has been no movement at all in the Rainier Beach community to even talk about this," says Dziko, who heads the Technology Access Foundation (TAF), a non-profit that teaches computer skills to minority kids. "We are strongly looking at alternatives." She says she still hopes to start a school somewhere in south Seattle, expecting not to get her own building but to acquire space within another school to run an autonomous "TAF Academy." Among the schools she is considering as possible sites is the African American Academy. "We learned a lot of lessons from the Rainier Beach experience," she says, alluding to a perceived lack of outreach by TAF to the school community. "This time, we're trying to do it right." She says she has already met with a community group that supports the African American Academy and yesterday sat down with the school's vice-principal.


Melissa Westbrook said...

There is a great irony here for me. When I was on the CAC I noticed that AAA was chronically underenrolled and had erratic WASL scores and thought they might be better off in a smaller building and a more viable program like New School could move in there. You would have thought I had grown 6 inches from the shocked looks I got. (FYI, for those who don't know me, I'm 4'9".)

I was warned by both committee members and staff members to drop it. It was untouchable. We had been told no sacred cows but apparently there are some.

So if TAF and AAA can work together, great. It's a wonderful building that deserves being filled with a good program. However, AAA is 2/3 full so I don't know how much room the academy could have. Maybe they could merge and be a K-12.

I do think it will be an interesting fight between New School and TAF for students if it comes to pass (and New School gets its new building).

Charlie Mas said...

There is nothing that the Superintendent said about Summit when he proposed closing that school which is not equally true about the African American Academy.

There was always something strange about TAF trying to put their academy at Rainier Beach. The District has (or had) a program called IT Career Pathways, a curriculum design for a four year high school series of courses rich in high tech opportunities for its students. That sounds a lot like the TAF academy to me. EVERY comprehensive high school in the District participated in the IT Career Pathways project EXCEPT Rainier Beach. I can only presume that Beach did not participate because they did not believe that their students were interested in this sort of education.

How is it that there is no support for IT Career Pathways in that community, but there is a perceived demand for TAF Academy?

Check out this link:

LouiseM said...

Hello all. Actually since TAF Academy is meant to be a 6-12 model, we're looking at AAA for middle school and either Rainier Beach or Cleveland for high school.

Of course the ideal situation would be to have the whole thing in one building, but we're a creative bunch, so we're looking at other options. There are still many conversations to have and details to mull over, so...

Charles, TAF Academy is more than just technology--it's science, technology, engineering and math. The south end doesn't have an option like this that will prepare kids for college and life. In fact, there aren't really many options at all regardless of the subject.

It's really about doing something different that transends the classroom and tries to do something about this "achievement gap" instead of conducting yet one more research project to see why there's a gap. We know why, now we need to do something about it.

Melissa, I actually think it would be great to have families breaking their neck to get into the New School and AAA. There's certainly room. I suspect that TAF and the New School Foundation would work together to create phenominal academic options for south end families.

Anyway, we're going to continue to do what we do best--focus on children--and try to make this thing work in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

I sure appreciate Trish's energy and commitment to increasing opportunities for our kids. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Trish, you get a huge rave from me. I've admired you from afar for a long time. Your commitment to children and families is truly the core of what any American should idealize. Thank you.

Charlie Mas said...

There is a strange misperception out there that TAF intends to take resources from the public schools when the reality is that TAF wants to make a donation to our public schools.

There is a lot of animosity towards TAF (and The New School Foundation) on the CEASE discussion board that I simply don't understand. They equate The New School and TAF with charter schools or with private schools when they are neither of these things. The odd part of this is that the folks at CEASE are HUGE supporters of alternative schools. If anything, the District's alternative schools more closely resemble charters and private schools than do The New School or the proposed TAF Academy.

I wish I could understand their position more clearly because right now it makes no sense to me at all.

Anonymous said...

I will admit that 98% of the time, I diagee with Charlie. But I think he is dead on with alternative schools being treated more like private or charter schools than TNS or the proposed TAF. Of course, that may be because some of them (AS #1 in particular) really did start off as schools very seperate from the "system."

Until the state steps up and really starts funding basic education, the only schools that will thrive in large cities like Seattle will be ones whose funding is dramatically increased by either private foundations or PTAs.

Dispite all of the vitirol for TNS, people seem to forget that Mr. Sloan is giving tons of money to fund a school that is primarily attended by the most needy students in the city, without expecting anything in return other than a hope that the school will be put in a suitable buildings someday. As for TAF and RB, it is time to face the facts, something has to be put in place that will fill the seats at RB, or it will have to be closed. It is a half empty building as it is, and getting fewer students every year. SPS already diverts extra money to RB because its WSF money is not enough to keep it going with its head count. The District has tried all kinds of programs (in my day, and yes, I am writting this as a former RB student), they put a program at RB for students who wanted to be teachers. Even with the mandatory bussing of that era, it was never a full school. So, if Trish thinks TAF can make a go of it there, and it can save the school from being closed, I say go for it.

And, on the topic of funding and animosity towards TNS and TAF, why do PTAs put in hundereds of thousands of dollars a year to schools not get the same anger directed at them as TNS and TAF? Do the anti-TNS/TAF folks think that it is fine for schools in affluent communnities - and let's throw off the PC shackles, whose students are white - to provide the needed extra funding but it is not okay for philanthropists to provide funding for schools in poor nieghborhoods whose students are mostly recent immigrants and minorities?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, AAA will be a sacred cow as long as the current school board has the same compisition. You were brave to suggest it, I am sorry that the board is not brave enought to allow that to be an option.

Kate Martin said...

My beef is with the systematic strangulation of certain schools via crap programs, no programs, bad admin, old neglected facilities, and possibly all of the above and then the crisis manangement injection of boutique programs that are not comprehensive in nature and are somewhat out of the control of the people.

We, the people, have good ideas, they, the non-profs, have good ideas. Instead of our ideas getting traction, special non-profit's ideas get traction. I don't get like it.

We have the answers. The efforts and ideas of TAF and TNS should be coming from within the system to buoy the entire system. Instead it's a bunch of backroom deals just like the politics of the program distribution we suffer. It's business as usual. We could use them lobbying with us for equity and changing the system instead of creating their private mainline to our public facilties.