Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's First 100 Days in Seattle

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's "Entry Plan" has been posted on the Seattle Times site so you can read the full list of tasks she wants to accomplish during her first 100 days in Seattle.

Comment on or add to that list. Which tasks do you think are top priorities? What would you like her to read or study? And what kind of community interaction would be most meaningful and useful?

I'll collect the comments and then send them to the superintendent feedback e-mail address.


Anonymous said...

The P-I had that posted Friday morning, way before the Times -- see http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/dayart/20070413/mgjplan.pdf
Did you not see it, or are you only posting links to stuff on the Times website?

Beth Bakeman said...

Just didn't see it on the PI site.

I definitely post links to PI and Times and Weekly and whatever sources I can find.

Melissa Westbrook said...

She should read both the Moss-Adams report and the CACIEE report (our roadmap). (If she doesn't want to read the whole Moss-Adams, she needs to read the chaper on the culture of the bureaucracy at the Stanford Center. It is key.) She should ask to see the Superintendent's mid-year report on how staff is doing meeting goals put forth.

She might also asked to be briefed on the school closure issue which is going to be a big deal almost right from the moment she starts. What's the plan for new families at consolidated schools, who is handling it, district or individual schools? What role does the PTA have? If it is not handled correctly, there will be a lot of unhappy parents who will be in the news. Not a good way to start her tenure here. (About a year ago I sent Director Butler-Wall a list of suggestions that I culled from the web about transitions. I hope it got passed on to someone on staff.)

Charlie Mas said...

We have already seen how Seattle Public Schools handles the consolidations from the example presented by the M L King closure.

Although the District believed that they had merged King with T T Minor, most of the King students went to Madrona - which is MUCH closer for them. Madrona became overcrowded and saw class sizes balloon. The entire mess was totally unmanaged and a number of Madrona students left the school. The influx of students as a result of the closure was gasoline on the smoldering culture conflicts in the Madrona building.

Andrew Kwatinetz said...

I'm impressed that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was bold enough to put her plan in writing and make it public.

There's a lot of work on that list. Two suggestions that come to mind:

1. She might be able to save herself a lot of time navigating the state & local politics by approaching an experienced local superintendent like Dr. Mike Riley of Bellevue.

2. As far as I can tell, the district has done little or no research on why parents choose private instead of public. I've heard from a couple of different sources that next year might be particularly bad -- e.g. I was told that some private schools have claimed that private middle school applications were up over 50% this year! (I have no idea if that data is valid, but anecdotally, I know many active public schools families that have decided to go private... more than I've ever heard of before.) I think a little research in this area will turn up some very clear deficiencies in the system that can and should be addressed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Re, Andrew's remarks. Good number one answer because she probably would get a lot of good insights from Dr. Riley.

On number two, when the last Community Conversations was held two weeks ago, Michael deBell was asked, as Board members always are, why so many school-aged students go private. And, as usual, he said they have no way of tracking kids once they leave the system. Did they move? Did they go private? And, of course, why? The district has these people's phone numbers. They could do a survey (I think it would be legal) and ask. Then they would have a good idea if someone moved, why they moved (people talk a lot about moving for schools but I never know if that's a reality) or did they change to a Seattle private school.

The other part about this is the de facto manner in which the district accepts this. Staff has reported to the Board, countless times, that the private school rate has held steady for the last 20 years. And? So? That means that they accept that we have a private school rate higher than the national average? I honestly believe the district could get at least 5%+ back if they had a good marketing campaign. I'm not saying spend a lot of money but we need to get people when they start school (more likely to stay) and we need to get parents to look harder at the public school system.

Of course the district has a responsibility to the students already enrolled trying to meet their academic needs. But every student represents dollars and more students bring more dollars into the system.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew,
In regards to why people go private, I am guessing that there are many reasons, but I will tell you our story. When our son went to kindergarten we lived in the Central area, and our neighborhood school was Leschi, which at that time was a dismal choice (for us). We liked Montlake, Stevens and McGilvra, but had heard that it was almost impossible to get your student into these schools if you didn't live in the neighborhood. In fact that year Stevens filled all of their kindergarten seats with sib's and were not able to take even one new family! We felt forced to either move to a different part of the city or go private. Though it was a hardship for us, and against what we believed in we went private for two years, until we moved to the NE part of Seattle, and transferred into public school. This year we applied for our son to go to Eckstein, our neighborhood middle school (2 miles away), and he didn't get in. He is on the waitlist. We don't think that Summit, AS1 or Hamilton are good fits for our son, and can't comfortably afford private. So, we enrolled him at Kellogg MS in Shoreline, they had space for us and we are not even in their district. They have 690 kids, rival Ecksteins academics (test scores), have a fabulous band, full year science at all grade levels, honors classes in all 4 core subjects (self elected), , and every student gets an ibook laptop. We were very impressed, and are taking full advantage. While I would not like to see choice go away, I do think that families need some type of predictability. We will probably have to stay in Shoreline for High school too. One of the reasons we chose this neihborhood was so our son could go to Eckstein and Roosevelt. We didn't get into Eckstein, and it looks like we won't be able to get into Roosevelt either. We live 2.18 miles away from Roosevelt, but according to enrollment services this year, you had to live within 1.81 miles of the building to get in. Our only other neighborhood HS is Hale, and they don't have a great band program (very important to my son), and no AP classes. So off to Shoreline we go, or private perhaps. Either way, Seattle has lost us. Deidre

Anonymous said...

Choice is great, when all schools are equal, but when there is such a great difference between schools (school performance, course offerings such as AP/IB/Spectrum, unique focus/themes, alternative programs, class size etc) then one must have some predictibility. For instance it may look as if you have a choice of 4 middle schools if you live in NE Seattle... Ecktein (traditional), Summit (alternative and well below average academically), AS1 (alternative democratic school, and well below average academically), Hamilton (lower perfoming than Eckstein and an international focus). Do you really have 4 choices??? Say you want an average performing traditional school. Then you only have one choice. Eckstein. Say you want a democratic alternative school. Then you have only one choice. AS1. If there are not enough seats to accomodate everybody who wants in to a particular school, then you have to settle for a very different program and choice becomes inequitable.

I hate seattle schools said...

replicate the schools with large waitlists, and close/merge/re-invent, under enrolled schools. Families are telling the district what they want and what they need. It's supply and demand. It's simple.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if anyone knows how hard it is to get into Ingraham HS?? Do they have huge waitlists too?? It's not our neighborhood school, but I heard from a very reliable source, that the IB program is fantastic, and it will continue to be funded.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think Ingraham is overenrolled. I have a friend whose son is in the IB program and likes it. The principal is a really nice guy who gets along well with students.

But the rub? The district has cut the IB funding at Ingraham (not sure by how much) to fund the new IB program at Sealth. Did Ingraham know this was going to happen so they could plan around it? No. If you duplicate a program, should that mean you cut the funding to the original program? I wish the district had a plan.

Anonymous said...

I can contribute to why the school district loses so many middle schoolers - at least in NE Seattle. For the most part, everyone I know in public is very happy with their neighborhood elementary school. The problem I've heard is people like Eckstein, but they don't like how HUGE it is. They are satisfied with Eckstein caliber, but what I've heard over and over is some kids do great at Eckstein, but at the very vulnerable age of middle school, if your child is very quiet/not really social, they will become lost there. I know a number of families who pulled their kids out of Eckstein and sent them to private middle school with the full intention of sending them to public again for high school.

As a mom of young elementary, I only hear the stories. I've heard some scary/intimidating ones, but I've also heard very positive stories. Most of the positive stories come from parents of very social children. I know families who Eckstein fits for 1 of their children and not the other.

I know a number of families who went private for elementary school, not because they were unhappy with their neighborhood schools, but because they didn't want to worry about the Middle school issue because of stories they'd heard, and thus prefer the K-8 model. I plan to evaluate Eckstein for each of my 3 children when the time comes (we live .93 miles away, so I'm not worried about not getting in that one). I'm personally hoping there is change and improvement before then. I don't even want to think about the Roosevelt issue yet (if we can't get into a high school that we live 2 miles away from, there is an issue somewhere).

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa,

Are you sure that the funds are being cut for the IB program at Ingraham HS? Where did you hear this?

I spoke with a school board member about it yesterday, and she assured me that the IB program would remain funded, and that the district was committed to it's success. In fact she said they were so pleased that they are duplicating it at Sealth. She referred to it as the districts "shining star".

I'm concerned as this may be our only option for a Seattle HS.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, as it turns out, I spoke today with my friend with the son at Ingraham (who was informed by administrators of the cuts. She said she had talked to Sally Soriano (who apparently had heard from other IB parents) and the money has been reinstated. Good to hear but I wonder why they felt they had to move the money in the first place and where they are getting the money to cover both IB programs. I guess it's just enought that we will have one in each end of the city.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Melissa, for confirming that IB funding will remain in place at Ingraham. Our son won't go to HS for two more years, and with the current year to year funding who knows what the IB or any other programs will look like then. You can't count on anything. It's my belief that the lack of consistency and unpredictability is what drives families away from public schools in Seattle. It's very frustrating.

Brita said...

To clarify regarding the IB program at Ingraham HS. When this program started, it was with the understanding (I have seen the written documentation) that for the first 5 years, the funds would come from central office and after that, the funds would come from the school budget. The rationale, I assume, is that a successful program would draw in more students (it has) which in turn bring more dollars into the school.

I understand that last year this school had an excess of $150K and does have enough to continue funding IB within its school budget, as originally planned.

Not sure where all the mixed messages are coming from, but wanted to reassure people that this is a successful program with ongoing support.

My own daughter is in this program and I am delighted that it is being replicated at Sealth.