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Thursday, July 19, 2007

CPPS looking for discussion group

CPPS is building a study group to further analyze the Student Assignment Plan framework and possible consequences of implementation. After working together to create a list of questions and concerns, this group would then take the list to the District for further clarification, etc. Depending on the answers from the District, the process could be repeated once more before the details are made public later this fall.

CPPS is currently seeking public school parents who have been following the issue and would have interest in coming together with others. The group would have at least two meetings (two hours each) and extensive conversation via e-mail.

I have been asked to recommend some names of parents who may be interested.

Are there any among you who have some time in the next few weeks to delve deeply and look for the intricacies of this most important policy? If so, send me your name and I will forward them to CPPS for consideration.

I'm thinking of putting my own name forward, but I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of this group of people having some kind of special access and influence that others don't have. I'm not sure how or why that works. I will try to learn more.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to what type of special access and influence you think this CPPS group could have?

It's interesting to me that when the community tries to work together, especially a group of volunteer parents such as CPPS, there is suspicion floating.

Anonymous said...

Given the huge amount of community outreach already done by the District, which I understand will be repeated when the plan itself (rather than just the framework) is in draft stage, I too am leery of yet another special interest group stepping in to speak for "parents."

The current plan is so disjointed because of years of cateering to special interest groups, often the ones that threatened to leave the district if they did not get what they wanted.

I would rather this process stay transparent and open rather than be influenced by side meetings with particular insterested groups. CPPS can always attend the community meetings, together or individually, if they have an agenda to forward.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the community meetings are done and there are still concerns that not all the issues have been addressed. Often in the large community meetings there is not enough time/focus to really delve into the issues deeply. In that setting participants are often just vocalizing their own concerns and haven't had a chance to hear all the other perspectives and so are not prepared to discuss all the options/implications at that meeting.

I think it is a good idea to create a 'task-force' of community members that have spent more time thinking and listening to the issues from all the perspectives and are interested in formalizing a list of issues to make sure the District does not overlook them.

Charlie, I don't see how to send email to you.. Where is your email listed?

Anonymous said...

Everyone has the right to advocate for their children, and sometimes families band together to do it. It's to bad that these active parents are labled special interest groups, and thus almost shunned. Especially a group like CPPS that has time and again put forth proposals and statements that include the interest of the entire community, especially the communities without a large voice.

Like it or not, these groups have every right to advocate for their kids, and I applaud them.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm a little surprised that someone would read suspicion into what I wrote. I certainly didn't express any. Obviously, if I were suspicious of the situation I would not be publicizing it here on this blog and soliciting volunteers for it, would I?

To satisfy your curiosity, I think it is likely that the access and influence that CPPS has is the same access and influence that any person or group could have if they asked for it. But I don't know that, so I'm looking into it.

I have re-read the thread and the only suspicion I read is in the anonymous post that accuses me of being suspicious. If you want people to assume good intentions, you could start with yourself.

Would it not be discomfiting if there were some people or organizations, whether they are CPPS, CEASE, or the Alliance for Education, that had extraordinary access to decision-makers or exerted an inequitable amount of influence? On the other hand, wouldn't it be encouraging to learn that those decision-makers are ready to meet with any citizen or group who calls to schedule a meeting?

Charlie Mas said...

Oops! Sorry.

My email address appears on my profile, which can be viewed by clicking on my name from the list of contributors in the lower right of the home page for the blog.

Anonymous said...

Funny that you mention CEASE, because they are one of the loudest special interest groups of them all, sometimes making so much noise, and involving the media at every turn that they do get special access and attention. Does that worry you?

Brita said...

Hello all,

As one board member, I am delighted any time a group of community members volunteers to study any issue that affects our students. I don't think this gives them 'special influence' other than that which comes with being well-informed. I have certainly learned a lot from reading Beth's blog.

Charlie Mas said...

Actually it isn't funny that I mentioned CEASE; I did it on purpose.

CEASE is an excellent example of a group that has no more access than any person or group could have if they asked for it. Do CEASE members get a lot of the public testimony spots at Board meetings? They do, but there are no spots held for them. They request the spots on a level playing field with everyone else. Do they get meetings with District staff? I don't really know, but if they do, they get them the same way as anyone else could.

The Alliance, on the other hand, has, from time to time, had access or influence that was not available to other citizens or groups. There is much less of that now, but it has happened.

The PTA has special standing with the District and is often granted a place at the table that other citizens or groups don't get.

Does any of it worry me? Not really. I wouldn't say "worry"; it doesn't rise to that level of anxiety. It doesn't worry me much more than a typo. I will say that resistance to correcting it would worry me a bit.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter whether it's as group or an individual, the important thing is to get involved. The district staff working on this project has been much more welcoming of input than I have seen in the past. And frankly, submitting ideas as anonymous is better than not submitting them at all. We all vote, don't we? Especially for those school levies. ;-)

On the other hand, I don't really believe CPPS needs to worry that the District isn't seeing the myriad of issues that come with this new enrollment activity. Every time I've brough a nuance up with the working staff, they've already been wrestling with that issue far longer than I've been thinking about it. I'd like it better if CPPS submitted potential solutions than questions. That's what the individuals on this blog often do very well.

Anonymous said...

Priya here, CPPS staff member convening the study group. I would love the opportunity to clarify a couple of things regarding the study group.

Charlie and Brita are right that CPPS has no special access or preference in regards to the Student Assignment Plan. We have no special place with the District nor are we a special interest group. We are parents, coming together from all walks of life, for the good of the District (much like this blog!).

The study group will be working to think through the benefits, consequences, and unanswered questions left by the Framework. Many of those questions have been asked here, but we want to delve even deeper in our understanding. If you have energy to do that, please join us!

One thing I failed to tell Charlie is our follow up plan after the study groups have met. In addition to bringing our questions and concerns to the District, we will also have a series of community meetings where we will be able to share the Framework and the findings of the study group. We want to educate parents about how the proposed Student Assignment Plan will affect their families.

If you are interested in learning more about the study group (an possibly participating), know of someone who might be, or want to learn more about the mission of CPPS, feel free to e-mail me. You can find me at priyas _at_ cppsof seattle ^dot^ org.

Sorry for not spelling it out, but am trying to stop nasty spam getting to my inbox!

Anonymous said...

In addition to bringing our questions and concerns to the District, we will also have a series of community meetings where we will be able to share the Framework and the findings of the study group.

All for the study group, but not sure why you have to have a series of meetings to educate the public. The district is already doing that. This is where you begin to sound more like a special interest group.

Anonymous said...

Trust me, the first community meetings were not "large." I went to one, and it was me, Tracy Libros, a notetaker, and two other parents. My concerns were well heard and well addressed.

There were a large group of high level distrcit staff on hand to have seperate break on meetings if large numbers of people attended, but that turned out not to be necessary.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with anon 1:22.

There is plenty of District outreach on this, and I am more concerned that misinformation will be spread at non-district community meetings that work of CPPS's presumptions regarding a framework.

That last part is key: framework. Let the district put up a draft plan before you start to disect it.

Anonymous said...

That last part is key: framework. Let the district put up a draft plan before you start to disect it.

I think the above is key. I think for most parents caught up in their busy lives, they probably aren't really aware of what changes are going on. When I spoke to people around school at the end of the year, barely anyone was aware of the changes to the assignment plan.

I agree it is important for the community input ahead of time so the district is better aware of community concerns, but once draft proposals are advertised and parents see how it is impacting them, my guess is these community meetings are going to be MUCH larger and with much more emotion/interest.

For example - if the district announces that Nathan Hale is going to be a feeder school from Eckstein, that will get a lot of people's attention who are probably assuming based on history and the comparability of the schools, that Eckstein would feed into Roosevelt (and that is for the people that are even aware of what is going on).

Anonymous said...

For the benefit of dopes like me, could these threads please tell the meaning of all-caps terms that everybody here assumes are common knowledge?

Thanks.

- Lenore

Anonymous said...

CPPS (Communities and Parents of Public Schools) does not hold open meetings though it will advertise the district's meetings. It does not have an active website or blog. It seems to be a grant funded business said to represent the community, but the community has not participated since the CPPS "leadership" managed to prevent its own schools from closing.

Anonymous said...

To the above anonymous poster:

CPPS has been very active in the community, and sends out newsletters and emails to update their progress regularly. I am not a member, yet feel very connected to their organization.

CPPS does have a website:
http://www.cppsofseattle.org/

You can find their archived newsletters on the website, and sighn up to receive them automatically via email. They contain a wealth of information, important dates, and updates.

They do not have a blog but they do have a yahoo group, which is very similar to a blog and facilitates group conversations. Anyone can sign up at yahoo grops!

Here is the latest email that I received:

Hi all,

Thought I’d do a summer check-in with some of the Ballard Sip and Ship discussion group, meet-up hosts and others with a brief CPPS update that includes progress on some of the issues we’ve discussed over the past four/five months.

1) One of the repeating areas of concern among you was the lack of consensus on the school board and an apparent inability to move forward. Several parents said we should create a candidate questionnaire and produce a candidate forum. A few parents referred to the desperate need in Seattle for a “pot-stirring” organization to connect parents, organize around issues and to stir a few pots. Update:

* Based on the many suggestions we received from Newsletter readers, we developed an eight-question school board questionnaire that was emailed to all candidates last week. We asked they return their questionnaires July 30 to allow time for CPPS to post them in the August Newsletter when absentee ballots begin to hit your mailboxes.
* We’re also putting together a candidate forum that will likely occur in October to precede the November 6 General Election. We’ve asked a number of education-related organizations to sponsor the event with CPPS with a few on board already: League of Woman Voters, Schools First, Appleseed, Seattle Council PTSA and the Alliance for Education. Should be an informative event!
* The meet-ups held in May/June generated a lot of lively conversation and provided folks with a more solid understanding of the school board’s function. Because the meet-up concept was launched so close to the end of the school year, we were asked by many of you if we would organize meet-ups again when the school year begins. Of course! We’ll initiate that late-Aug/Sept. CPPS was one of the sponsors of Appleseed’s School Board Forum (another lively discussion!) in May (video link in the CPPS Newsletter).



2) Many of you brought up the issues of enrollment, school choice, transportation and unpredictable assignments. Update:



* In response to the district’s adoption of a framework to develop a new student assignment plan, we’re organizing a couple of small study groups that will begin meeting this month. The groups will include parents, community activists, education experts and advocates and others. Once the groups complete their analysis, we plan to share that info with parents and community members to determine the best course of action, if any, for our public school families overall. Tracy Libros who has been heading up the district’s student assignment plan proposal has put a tremendous effort toward outreach to address community concerns and we’ve seen some of those concerns already addressed in the developing plan. CPPS is having continuing discussions w/board members and providing testimony at board meetings about timing and features of the proposed plan. The proposed plan is up for a vote on the board calendar in November. Let us know if you’d like to know more about this.



3) Middle school was a big issue to many of you in our discussions! Update:



* Meany Middle School families have been looking for ways to get the word out about their great school. They want to build neighborhood involvement and enrollment. CPPS is currently organizing a small group of Meany parents to discuss ways in which Meany can do so. There were others of you who were also looking to find resources to connect/methods to promote their schools. Please give us a call or email if you’d like to discuss your school or one in your community.



Sign up to receive the CPPS Monthly Newsletter! You can view the school board candidate questions, get links to the candidates’ websites, order your absentee ballot and more. We invited Professor Hubert Locke to respond to the Supreme Court ruling and he contributed an eloquent piece, which is included in the July Newsletter. It’s easy, click the link below, go for it!



There are several issues we’ve discussed, eg, the weighted staffing vs weighted student formulas (still being discussed by the board, up for a fall vote), communication between the district and our school communities, connections between cluster schools and from neighborhood to neighborhood (definitely on the CPPS radar),—there’s much work to do to make our school ideal real. And there is a new superintendent to greet and with whom we will take our next steps.

Charlie Mas said...

I think the lesson here, boys and girls, is not to snipe jealously at groups like CEASE, CPPS, or the Alliance for how they ask for and get meetings, but to ask for and get meetings yourself if that's what you want. These opportunities are available to everyone equally, you just have to take advantage of them.

So, if you want to, go ahead and contact Board members and District staff and ask for some time with them. You may not get much time, and you may not get it soon, but you will probably get something.

Then, when you get it, don't waste their time. Say what you want to say, show what you want to show, ask what you want to ask, learn what you want to learn, and get the heck out.

Please recognize that you can't meet with more than three Board members or it constitutes a Board meeting and falls under the public open meetings act. Also, these are all busy people so putting together a group of them sometimes requires extraordinary coordination of schedules.

Finally, at every legislative Board meeting there is an intermission. That is a GREAT time to talk to Board members and District staff. Another good time is before or after Board committee meetings.

Don't covet the access of others - get some of your own.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm always suprised by the perspective expressed by

"Let the district put up a draft plan before you start to disect it."

It presumes that public input can only take the form of complaining about decisions after the fact. It also presumes that public input is destructive and negative.

It is my belief that the public is going to say what they are going to say. If they say it BEFORE the decision, then it is input, constructive, and positive. If they say it AFTER the decision, then it is a complaint, destructive, and negative.

The public input is the same, only the timing is different. So if the District wants constructive and positive public input instead of destructive and negative complaints, all they have to do is allow public input BEFORE the decision instead of AFTER it.

Anonymous said...

You are missing my point Charlie. I think it is useless to meet and debate the already adopted framework. As with the framework, which went through many drafts (all posted on the web), changes were made in response to community input. There is nothing to respond to or ask questions about at this point.

Charlie Mas said...

There is an excellent possibility that I am missing your point.

I like the framework so far. I think I've said so a number of times. I'm a raving fan of the framework. I'm not interested in continuing to debate the elements which have been determined. If that is what you are trying to say, then I get that and I agree.



As good as the framework is, it is incomplete. A whole lot of details need to be filled in. There is clearly a lot to talk about - as evidenced by the lively discussion on this blog.

This is my point, which I fear you are missing:

The community can have a role beyond responding to and asking questions about staff-developed solutions. The community can suggest solutions of their own. The community can take a pro-active role rather than a re-active one. For that, the time is now.