Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Lively Discussion

Between the using income for diversity thread and the assignment plan thread, we certainly have had a lively conversation. We can all see that there are some resentments, misunderstandings and general lack of knowledge/information out there. I think we can all agree that when you are talking about your child's education and access to educational benefits it is a deeply heartfelt and personal conversation. (By the way, by lack of knowledge I don't mean that in a disparaging manner. It is difficult to keep up with everything, no one can possibly know everything about each school and high school can seem far away when your children are in elementary.) Keep in mind; School Board Directors HAVE to take a district view and so their view is wide-ranging and has to keep a sort of "greater good" and fairness emphasis (regional differences are naturally part of the discussion to be sure).

As I said, I think I'll send e-mail to the Board and the Superintendent alerting them to our discussions. I think there is a wide range of concerns from many areas of the city and it might be useful for them to read them when making their considerations. We already know that Brita Butler-Wall reads this blog and I know that Michael de Bell makes an effort to as well.

Someone had suggested that we get to elementary/middle school enrollments since they are the most likely to get changed. I think, in some ways, we can see similar problems from the elementary to middle school path in some areas. Eckstein is always overcrowded and it will be interesting to see, if a neighborhood enrollment plan is selected, what outcome a new Hamilton building will have. Hamilton will already have set-aside seats for John Stanford kids enrolling in the language program, Spectrum seats and, by then, possibly APP seats. I know the building is being built for 900-1000 so I wonder how it will play out in additional seats in the NE.

I note that some discussion has been around the rising enrollments in elementary in the NE. I did try to point out earlier in the year that maybe a couple of elementaries might have been put on the BEX III list (like McGilvra or Laurelhurst or Rodgers) but it didn't happen. Someone mentioned that there might be new elementary buildings in the NE by 2030 (I'd call it about 2017-20) but, as was also said, it may be too late by then if the demographics play out as they have been. That or we go to more portables at more schools. (Some noted that they don't care about portables as long as capacity was there. The problem is that portables become permanentables. Eckstein has had theirs for years (probably decades). They are cold or hot and drafty. Safety (in these times) is a real issue as it is difficult to set up good communications between portables and the main building. Also, the multiple lunch hours are a real problem. Be careful what you wish for.)

So what are the concerns for a neighborhood plan for elementary and middle schools?


Anonymous said...

My only concerns relevant to our lives is that class sizes don't get too large due to lack of capacity in the NE and that something is done about capacity at the Middle school level. We live less than a mile from Eckstein and I have heard mostly great things about the school, but I am very concerned about sending at least one of my 3 children to a school that large at such a tough age (11 - 14). These are the same concerns I had before the new assignment plan. I'm also worried a bit about the school district forcing the large class size on the schools that have no other options due to lack of space (make them take even more students).

Anonymous said...

Here are my big concerns:

1) What is the baseline for a traditional, nieghborhood elementary school? How does it address the needs of advanced learners, grade-level learners, and kids who need help coming up to grade level? Does it include art, music, foreign language, PE, and recess?

2) What is the baseline for a comprehensive middle school? Does it have to have a wide range of academic electives?

3) What consititutes an alternative school, and how does a student get assigned to one? What are the tie-breakers? How do we ensure that kids who want that program can get it, and kids who don't aren't forced into it?

4) How do K-8, K-5, and 6-8 schools work together? For example, does McGilvra feed it's graduates into the 6th grade at Madrona? Can a K-8 be a reference area school, or are the alternative? If you start K at a K-8, can you move to a comprehensive middle school?

5) Why don't we have 6-12 as an option?

6) Do middle schools have specialized programs like high schools do? Do they need set-asides for all-city draw?

Anonymous said...

To one of 98112's comments, I am absolutely in favor of seeing more of the city's K-8 schools moved out of alternative status and into traditional/reference status.

Yes, yes, I can hear the alternative school voices protesting now, but like the Hale/Roosevelt debate on the other thread, some of these school's alternativeness is in the eye of the beholder and would serve a greater good in operating as a facility resource for their area.

That said, I also believe that the obvious program continuance for someone at a K-8 reference school would be to remain there through middle school. It eases program placement for the District. It ensures community between students, neighborhood access and program handoff from elementary to middle school academics. The experience might be slightly different than moving from a K-5 facility to middle school, but no one is promising equality of facilities. There will be pros and cons to both of those experiences, and your reference area will (help) dictate which experience you receive.

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Anonymous said...

My biggest concern is for neighborhood schools. I want my children to have guaranteed access to their neighborhood middle school, whatever school that may be. I also would like to see feeder patters from elementary to middle school, so a group of children can at least have the option of staying together. I love the idea of base line offerings. Right now schools are grab bags of whatever they see fit to offer. Nothing is really consistent, and your childs experience can vary greatly depending on what schools they go to and what that school offers in the way of art, recess, music, sports, after school care, etc.

I saw on a previous thread the mention of re-purposing jane adams into a traditional 6-12 school. I like that idea too, as long as there was seperation between the middle and high school like Salmon Bay does between elementary and middle school students.

Anonymous said...

I think Gina is right. Jane Adams MUST be repurposed in the NE. Either into a traditional middle school, a traditional k-8, or a traditional 6-12 program. Any one of these options would greatly ease the over crowding in the NE. Summit has said before that they want a more central location as they are an all city draw. Why not give it to them, and give the Jane Adams building to the NE cluster. This would seem to solve a lot. I also think that the NE has too many all city draw alternative schools in general and that takes away capacity for local families wanting traditional schools. Within a couple of mile radius we have AEII (300 kids), Summit (700+ kids) and AS1 (250 kids). That's 1250 seats folks. None of these schools has a waitlist and Summit and AS1 don't even fill up. Couldn't they be consolidated into one building, or moved to more central locations since they are all multi cluster or all city draw schools? This would free up buildings for traditional programs, and that is what I keep hearing that the NE needs.

Roy Smith said...

The toughest problems I see are:

1) Figuring out how reference area K-8s (i.e., Broadview-Thompson, Catherine Blaine, Madrona, and any others that may be created) fit into an assignment pattern that is more heavily weighted towards children attending neighborhood elementary and middle schools. I posted a long list of questions (follow the link if you want to read them - I won't repeat them here) that I think reference area K-8s raise on another thread (in the comments towards the bottom), and it is my opinion that some of these questions have not even been asked by very many people, let alone thoughtfully answered.

2) Balancing the demand for arts, music, foreign language, PE, and recess by some groups of parents vs. the demand by other groups of parents to have less or none of those and focus more heavily on reading and math. As I understand it, this is essentially what the debate at Madrona was about, and I don't think that debate is going to go away any time soon.

3) Creating viable Spectrum programs with equitable access if more, smaller clusters are established.

Moving AS#1 and Summit K-12 south of the ship canal is a useful idea, at least in principle. If it were to happen, my main concern would be that they are moved to facilities which actually suit their needs. This shouldn't be very hard for AS#1 - the MLK building might suffice. Moving Summit would probably be more complicated. AE2 is a regional alternative school, so it doesn't make sense to move it out of the NE.

I am absolutely in favor of seeing more of the city's K-8 schools moved out of alternative status and into traditional/reference status.

Which ones do you have in mind?

Unknown said...

My biggest concerns about elementary school have to do with class size. The research I'm aware of points to class size as one of the greatest indicators of a student's success. Class size clearly links to capacity at some level. Buildings with smaller class sizes can only hold a certain number of kids. Small children need individualized attention-- I don't think anyone would argue with that.

So in the process of student assignment I'd like the Board to consider the positive academic outcomes arising from smaller class sizes.

Some of our clusters are growing in terms of numbers of potential SPS students and some are shrinking demographically. The Board needs to not rely on portables from the growing clusters, or rely on business-as-usual for the clusters losing customers. I think each elementary school should have certain services, such as a library and librarian, and access to advanced learning.

In fact, I'd love to see SPS take the Marva Collins approach across the board and offer one (or more) classrooms at each grade level for students who want to work beyond standard. Think of it- instead of a competitive test process using tons of $ to pay for assessments, we just up the baseline, by choice. No more Spectrum, just APP. Parents and families of all cultures and stripes would be attracted to being able to determine the level their child should be challenged.

From what I understand, Van Asselt's successful model has been premised upon higher expectations of students. Not only have Van Asselt's test scores been higher, students there are performing beyond standard. What do you all think about allowing any family with the desire to do so to opt into a spectrum-like program? If there were a failure to perform up to standard the status could be revisited, but it seems senseless to me to hire so many testers and spend so much of the adv learning budget on testing. With a little prof. development, every school could function on this model, and that issue re student assignemnt would be addressed.

Anonymous said...

Lets be careful not to confuse class size with school size. We sent our kid to Salmon Bay for the small school experience, but found that when their are 30 kids in a class it doesn't really matter how small the school is. It is the classroom that matters most to me. I would prefer to have my kid at Eckstein with 1200 other middle schoolers, in classes with 20 kids, than at Salmon bay with their 300 middle schoolers in classes with 30 kids. Thats just my observation.

Anonymous said...

Roy says "Balancing the demand for arts, music, foreign language, PE, and recess by some groups of parents vs. the demand by other groups of parents to have less or none of those and focus more heavily on reading and math"

This is why the district should make a base line of offerings available at every school. To much autonomy by a traditional school can lead to way to much variance in programs. No middle class white family will ever choose Madrona with no recess, art, foregn language. It is not good when a school does not meet the needs of its neighborhood, and like it or not those white middle class families are part of that neighborhood. The base line offerings should at least make the basics available to every school.
This is a GOOD thing.

Anonymous said...

I too think a base line of offerings is a reasonable compromise on both sides. It will probide for the basics for those families who want them, but will certainly not offer the multitude of "extras" that an affluent school offers. So a base line seems to be a great middle ground. Everyone has to give a little to make things work for all.

Anonymous said...

FYI- I don't think that they will start at elementary and middle. I think that the District (rightly) gets that high school is the area in which things are most broken.
Honestly, I think that this may be the one thing everyone agrees on, the current plan does not work for SE families who feel like they have no quality nieghborhood options, the plan does not work for Magnolia/QA families who want to be assured access to a school the is near where they live (though I quibble with the idea that the QA families are closer to Ballard than say, Garflied), and it does not work for the parents who live more than 1.7 miles from Roosevelt who feel like Roosevelt is thier nieghborhood school. Is anyone happy with the current system? Given that, I think it is more likely that we will see a high school plan first, then middle and elementary, particularly as it will involve a lot more staff time to draw 60 elementary boundaries versus indentifing 10 high school referance areas.

Anonymous said...

I think whenever a school veers far from the mainstream it should be classified an alternative school. If Madrona really holds true to only wanting reading, writing and math, and does not want anything to do with enrichment, music, art, recess, then it should be an alternative/magnet school. It should not be a neighborhood school. Period. We have the total opposite at AS1, veering much more to the opposite end of the spectrum, and it is very clearly an alternative school. Anything that veers far from the norm should be classified alternative.

Charlie Mas said...

I would like to see a rational program placement practice come first, one in which the decisions are driven by academic considerations instead of operational or political ones.

I have long been a proponent of self-selected Spectrum. That is a big part of what the ALOs offer.

When determining the number and location of the self-contained Spectrum programs for elementary and middle school, the District must begin with the question of how big the programs need to be in order for them to form viable learning communities.

The recent former manager of advanced learning told the Board that a middle school program needed a minimum of 180 students as the critical mass for a viable program. If we want every program to be at least that big, then we can only have two or three of them south of downtown.

Similarly, the number of elementary Spectrum programs should be determined in part by the number of students needed to form the critical mass of a successfull program.

Anonymous said...

If the District only redraws elementary/middle school or high school patterns and not everything at the same time, it will just cause more general confusion, not less. Let's get on w/ unveiling the whole draft plan, then work as a community in refining it.

Anonymous said...

It's funny to me that some think that the elem and ms assignment plans are easier to fix than the HS one - I'm not sure that's true. Basically, for each level, we've got the assignment cart before the academic plan horse.

In addition to the questions/issues raised already, I would add the following (several of which relate to the challenge of drawing reference areas):

- As raised by others, should K-8s have reference areas or should they be regional choice schools?

- (also raised by others) When you assure all within a reference area that they can enroll in their local school, class sizes go out the window. Even if the reference area is right sized for target class sizes in year 1, you will have aberation years with extra or few kids, and neighborhoods evolve quickly in Seattle. Is there really no such thing as a "full school"? Is it really okay to have 30 kids in a K-2 class? (NO)

- One consequence of the default assignment plan and above expected fluctuations in local kid populations is that reference areas will have to be redrawn frequently - every few years according to Tracy Libros. That may be no big deal in the suburbs where school quality is relatively even, but in Seattle where school quality can differ dramatically between neighboring schools, this will be painful for people whose houses are at the edges of reference areas.

- The menu of alternative choices that has sometimes been discussed would be wonderful...and should precede the drawing of reference areas. For example, we need to decide collectively if Graham Hill, TT MInor, and Daniel Bagley should be 100% Montessori and therefore be regional choice options without reference areas. What about Stanford and upcoming other international schools - should they have reference areas or be regional choices?

- What about early learning? Can we add PK to more of our schools, as other districts in WA and elsewhere are doing? This impacts school capacity and therefore reference area boundaries.

Anonymous said...

To Roy's K-8 Qs, my perspective. (I posted the 3:40 p.m. anonymous msg.):

Make most, not all, K-8s reference schools. Which schools trend more to alternative and which trend more to traditional can be left for a different discussion thread for the moment.

K-8s with "traditional" programs are reference area schools. The transition from elementary to middle school happens in the same building. You can't get a more predictable feeder pattern, and chance for kids to remain together, than this! Hopefully it is a strong programmatic handoff too.

Why should families get to jump to a new middle school if the feeder pattern is to stay in the same building? If they want to have a different middle school, that is a choice, but they'll have to use the same tiebreakers as everyone else. The same works in reverse: Freestanding elementary schools don't feed into K-8 middle schools. Excess K-8 middle school seats are submitted to tiebreakers.

K-8 reference areas have seats set aside for tiebreakers like socio-economic, etc. Same as other elementary and middle schools.

K-8s deemed reference schools have the same baseline offerings as other elementary and middle schools. Additional programs are facility specific, again no different than freestanding elementary, middle and high schools.

It is true that a K-8 school experience may be different than one in which kids move to a big middle school after elementary school. There are positives and negatives in both arrangements. Parents not liking a reference K-8 placement choose a different school. No different than a parent not liking a particular freestanding elementary school or middle school feeder pattern.

Anonymous said...

One consequence of the default assignment plan and above expected fluctuations in local kid populations is that reference areas will have to be redrawn frequently - every few years according to Tracy Libros...this will be painful for people whose houses are at the edges of reference areas.

This situation won't be worse than today's moving enrollment "circles" around each school. Redrawing reference areas won't be perfect, but it will be a step forward from today's uncertainty, especially w/ middle and high school feeder patterns spelled out.

Let's not let perfect get in the way of "better" because nothing is going to be perfect. Same w/ those K-8s. Just make them reference schools and move along to tougher items like tiebreakers and better schools in the south end. Life will go on.

Anonymous said...

"What about early learning? Can we add PK to more of our schools, as other districts in WA and elsewhere are doing? This impacts school capacity and therefore reference area boundaries. "

As soon as the state coughs up the money to fund all-day K, I think it will be in turn safe to turn to the state to pay for the pre-K. Many other states do (including some in the deep South that currently fall behind WA on per student state spending). The District who are able to do it now either benifit from a high local property tax base and/or grants obtained for the speciality populations they are serving.

Anonymous said...

Yep, that's a good point about the shifting reference area boundaries being similar or maybe better than today's shifting enrollment circles.

Anonymous said...

Alternativeness, if that's a word, is not a consideration for my family in my choice of a K8 program next year for my child. The school I have chosen is currently deemed alternative, but I'm not quite sure why.

The main reason I chose the school is because it is near my house and other families in the neighborhood are also attending it.

I also chose this school because of the predictability of her middle school assignment and the fact that one principal will oversee both the elementary and middle school programs, which hopefully means a smooth academic and emotional transition for her.

I think these are the same objectives the district is trying to achieve through elementary and middle school feeder patterns.

I am in favor of making K8s reference schools.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I love the self elected Spectrum idea. When kids have a say in their choices, they tend to buy in, and perform better, not to mention my concerns with standardized testing in regard to the Spectrum/APP entrance test. Shoreline has self elected honors classes at both of their middle schools. It works fabulously. They offer them in all 4 core subjects, math, science, language arts, and world history. Their only requirement is that a student keeps up a 75% grade. If they fall below they get 4 weeks to bring their grade up, and if they don't, they are bumped down to the reg. ed. class. They also offer remedial classes in all 4 core subjects. I can't tell you how smoothly this works. No tests, no shortage of seats, no clawing for the space. If you want it, you get it. It's simple and practical. My son is taking 3 honors classes, and had no problem getting into the school or district even though we live in Seattle. On top of this Kellogg the middle school that our kid will go to has only 690 students, a nationally acclaimed award winning band and orchestra, fabulous electives and art, great test scores, and each kid gets their very own ibook laptop the day they start. It's like getting the whole package. Kind of like when we were kids. What has gone so wrong in Seattle?

Anonymous said...

If I ruled the world, this is what I would do

1) Find all the math-and-reading only schools, survey the parents there, and find out how many really want that program, and how many are there for some other reason. Create a single magnet school, probably at Leschi, to accomodate that. Make it an altnernative, all-city draw school.

2) Move AS1 to the MLK building. This is a good location for an all-city draw school, as it has very good bus access. It's also a very convienent location for parents who commute to the East Side, since it's right by 520.

3) Now that we have a math-and-reading magnet, repurpose the Madrona building to hold Summit K-12. I think that this school would actually be a good fit for the neighborhood, even though it would remain an all-city draw program. Madrona has quite good bus service, including the #2, which is a no-transfer route from Queen Anne, with stops downtown.

4) Allow students at the math and reading magenet participate in after-school arts at Summit or AS1, if they want to.

5) Fix the Central Cluster Spectrum program (currently at Leschi, and by all accounts not viable). Maybe there would be room to co-locate K-8 Spectrum at Madrona with Summit. Maybe K-8 APP too. This would allow for arts electives for these kids, and also allow them to take high-school-level electives with the Summit 9-12 students. I also like the idea of self-select Spectrum, treated just like any other alternative/magnet program.

6) Repurpose the buildings in the north end that currently house AS1 and Summit as traditional programs. I don't know the north end very well, so I won't speculate on what programs should go there.

7) I would do all-city draws by pure lottery, except in situations where competetive admission makes sense (IB's admission process, APP testing, audition for the best band and drama programs). Even for those programs, I would probably do some of the seats by lottery. I might be willing to support a FRL tie-breaker or set-aside seats.

Anonymous said...

"only 690 students, a nationally acclaimed award winning band and orchestra, fabulous electives and art, great test scores, and each kid gets their very own ibook laptop the day they start. It's like getting the whole package. Kind of like when we were kids. What has gone so wrong in Seattle?"

Blimey. Did you go to middle school in Seattle? Because I did (Madrona for 5th-6th and Meany for 7th, 1970s), and I remember conditions as far worse than they are today. While I think the school district could certainly do better, it's worth remembering every now and then how far they've come.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

As it stands today k-8's are too small to have the same base line offerings for middle school (in many cases).

Often the middle school program is 250-300 kids or in the case of AS1 less than 100 kids. This is not enough of a group to support spectrum, sports teams, strong music programs (although they do offer music). I guess they could offer the base line academic offerings, but maybe not all of the other criteria that larger middle schools can provide.

Some schools do better than others.

Anonymous said...

Helen, I think it's great that the district has come so far. I commend them. And you are right, I did not go to school here or even live here in the 70s or 80s. I went to school in NYC, which was far superior to anything that I see offered here. I had an excellent public school education, and want the same for my children. With progress so far ahead one district over, it makes me scratch my head, and almost negates Seattle progress. It definately negates Seattle constant turmoil. We have been in this district for 6 years and it has been continuous turmoil, deficits, school closures, constant talk about assignment, transportation. The dust doesn't even get a chance to settle before another huge issue comes up. It's really comical.

One of our kids is now in a Shoreline middle school, and I can't tell you how much better it is. While I can't bring myself to move to the burbs, I certainly understand why some people do.

Anonymous said...

Why would one support an FRL tiebreaker for a 100% lottery school? That doesn't really make sense, does it?

Anonymous said...

Evidently we will be moving away from site based management.

How will that affect class size?

Currently the school we attend uses a large portion of I-728 $ to target first grade. Those classes are much smaller than upper grades. Will that decision be taken out of the hands of each school?

Currently principals ask the enrollment center for a certain number of students. They have some control over class size. Will that discretion also be pulled away? So all schools will have the same class sizes?

I have found very little information about the new weighted staffing formula. But it seems that centrally controlling class size will affect capacity, and must be decided before redrawing reference areas.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:15 PM said: "The school I have chosen is currently deemed alternative, but I'm not quite sure why.

The main reason I chose the school is because it is near my house and other families in the neighborhood are also attending it."

And within the next few years you may well start questioning why the kids call the teachers by their first names and why the teachers keep expecting you to show up and help in the classroom and why they don't track for math and you'll stand around at soccer games wondering why they don't buy down class size like other good schools and you will keep saying "they" when you talk about the school. Not "we."

When potential families ask you what makes the school alternative, you will have no idea.

Maybe not, maybe you will become a believer and a booster, I hope so.

Anonymous alternative school believer

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:15, I disagree with your statement. We had one of our kids in alternative school for k-5, and our second child in that alternative school for k-2. We transferred our secont child to a traditional school for 3-5. We could truly not find much of a difference. Yes, call their teacher mr. or ms., and they say publicly that they care about how they fare on the WASL (our alternative school claims they didn't care but then they had tons of WASL prep the month prior to the test).I can find little else differentiating the programs. The classrooms are very similar, the environment is similar. The traditional school uses a lot of best practices and is very progressive.

The only other difference that I have noticed is that there is a little bit more structure and consistency throughout the school, as well as a higher behavior expectation, and accountability for poor behavior.

I really didn't see a huge philosophical or pedacological difference between the two school.

Anonymous said...

To the Anonymous at 11:15 poster, I have to agree with Gina's statement: I really didn't see a huge philosophical or pedacological difference between the two schools...

Involved parents can happen at Traditional and Alternative schools

Class buydowns are happening at Traditional and Alternative schools.

School structure is better (or worse) at individual Traditional and Alternative schools.

Math achievement is better (or worse) at individual Traditional and Alternative schools.

If you want to get down to whether all facilities are offering the best educational experience possible, I agree with most of you concerned bloggers that the District needs improvement in the uneveness of achievement levels at individual facilities. I also support the need for alternative classroom setups and curriculum emphasis. But I find every one of your points about your alternative program's "special alternativeness" to be particularily weak.

Anonymous said...

To finish my thought, the District would be better-served in working to provide methods of family involvement in classroom curriculum for those segments of the population that cannot or traditionally do not spend time there, due to personal, cultural or economic reasons. I'm sure you smart bloggers have some ideas around this...

IMHO closing achievement gaps by figuring out ways to boost family classroom and curriculum involvement would be time better spent than spending time listening to a certain segment (and I emphasize that this is ONLY a certain segment) of the alternative school parents working to defend their "special" programs on the basis of the fact that their kids call the teachers by their last names.

Anonymous said...

My personal preference is for a combination of lottery and admission criteria. However, many people believe that there is a need for some sort of remedy for low-income kids. I don't know enough about the demographics to know if they're right.

I'm willing to listen be convinced. That's why I *might* support and FRL tiebreaker in anotherwise lottery system, for at least some of the seats.

Whether I would support any particular proposal would depend on the case made for it and how it was structured.

Anonymous said...

Dear Gina,
I think your comments about K8 middle schools not being able to support baseline programs is slightly off base.

For one thing, it would depend on what the District defines as a classroom course baseline (as per an earlier thread on this blog)...the items you point to are non-academic, and as such will always differ from facility to facility. (Again, see the high school discussion about the various strengths of individual school programs.)

I bet the TOPS parents would argue strenuously about the viability of their middle school offering. No reason other K8s shouldn't be doing the same. And as reference schools, as someone earlier in this thread says.

Roy Smith said...

gina said ...
The base line offerings should at least make the basics available to every school.

So what are the basics? Some families consider music, art, PE, and recess to be basics; others consider them as extras or distractions that not only do they not want, they actually consider to be detrimental to their children learning reading and math.


Having K-8s as reference area schools seems problematic to me. I will pose a sample scenario to demonstrate why. Suppose one of the elementary schools in the northeast cluster is designated as a traditional K-8, and remains a reference area school. Suppose further that the student assignment framework goes through more or less as proposed. Given the fact that all the northeast cluster elementaries are oversubscribed, I see the following problems arising:

1) Families who live in the reference area who don't want a K-8 (some people just don't want their elementary schoolers in the same building as 7th or 8th graders) will not have much choice in where their children end up, as they do not have priority in getting into any other reference area school.

2) Families who do not live in the reference area but who do want a K-8 may not have access if the program is popular - it will be full of kids from the reference area.

3) Children who live in the northeast cluster likely will have Eckstein as their reference area middle school. Eckstein is also oversubscribed. Families who live in the reference area of the K-8 might not have a problem with their kids being there for K-5, but may want the wider variety of electives, sports, music and other options that will be available at Eckstein. Do students in the reference area have two reference middle schools? Or are they just out of luck if they want a comprehensive middle school and the local one is oversubscribed?

To me, it makes more sense for traditional K-8s to be regional draws (without their own reference areas). The problem is, this runs smack into the other motivation for revising assignment plans, which is to attempt to reduce transportation costs. This factor also weighs against making changes such as montessoris being regional draws or designating more schools as alternative schools because they deviate from a baseline.


gina and anonymous 11:15 PM, I am curious which alternative school(s) you view as not being so different from good traditional schools.


Moving AS#1 to the MLK building may be a very workable idea (I am not familiar with the building, but AS#1 doesn't require that much in the way of facilities beyond a basic elementary school), and the location is certainly better for an all-city draw. I'm not sure what could be done with the Pinehurst building, though: if it is repurposed as a K-5, it won't be very big - AS#1, one of the smallest schools in the district, pretty much fills up the building. I am not a fan of SPS selling property, as I think that past sales are one of the contributing factors to current capacity problems.

Anonymous said...

AEII (alternative) used to buy down class size (not sure if they still do), so that debunks the alternative schools dont buy down class size theory. They also use the same district mandated math curriculum as do all elementary schools in the district. Our oldest son went to Salmon Bay where he took integrated math I (9th grade math), so there is some math tracking going on at alternative schools too. As for volunteering in the class room you must not be involved with any traditional schools. We are at a traditional elementary school now, and are inundated with requests to volunteer with everything from a multitude of field trips to science lab, to gardening, auction work, pta, lunch room duty, recess duty. You name it, there are parents there involved every step of the way. You are going to have to find something much more solid to set an alternative school apart from the traditional schools.

You see where I'm going? Over the years alternative schools have become somewhat watered down, and are just a shadow of how alternative and cutting edge they used to be. At the same time traditional schools have adopted a lot of the best practices pioneered by alternative schools, and have become much more progressive and cutting edge. This leads to not a huge variation between MOST alternative schools and MOST traditional schools. There are exceptions, AS1 and NOVA are still quite alternative, and some traditional schools like Madrona are not very progressive, but they are not the majority.

Calling your teacher Jane instead of Ms. Jones, and going on camping trips do not make a school alternative.

Anonymous said...

Roy, The proposed framework means only that you'll have an assigned reference school. Other choices are possible. Charlie keeps saying this. The District is trying to bring achievement up to standard levels and please most families most of the time...not give every family the exact tailored program of their choice. Impossible.

I would love to be close enough to a K-8 to have it be my reference school. (But because I'm not close to one, I'll instead wait eagerly for my feeder pattern to traditional facilities. There are also people who will be assigned a reference elementary who do not want their kids going to the huge feeder middle school. That's individual preference and again, has to take a second seat to getting baseline reference schools established. You keep presenting what to do with K8s as a very complicated question, and I do not think it needs to be. (If you want to talk about tiebreakers, now that is complicated!)

As you can see, I fall into the group that sees no reason not to just make K8s reference schools. More physical facilities for reference areas. Great academic program transfers from elementary to middle school. I also want my tax dollars to go to classroom offerings, not busing, so I am not in favor of regional K8s. That will just add to transportation costs and continue to complicate enrollment patterns. I'll support cross-District busing to a school focused specifically on a cultural group (AAA) or a re-entry program or a language immersion program. Not a K8 facility.

As to openings at any facility for non-reference students, I imagine the district will under-draw each geographical reference area to allow in some choice. Say 10-20 percent of seats in all grades, or at least entry-level grades.

I would not want to give K8 reference school kids priority at a comprehensive middle school, just as I would not want to give comprehensive middle school kids priority at a K8. That would be an enrollment scheduling nightmare. Allow some access via those setaside seats. No plan is going to be perfect, but the idea of knowing my default elementary and middle school paths from the outset of my child's K year will give me the opportunity to make longterm plans for that feeder pattern's school support (or my choice to opt out of it), where I take a job, whether I will remain in my home or move...all around family life planning!

Anonymous said...

My experience having lived in the central area and in the NE cluster, is that Madrona is in the minority in their shunning of enrichment offerings. Thats not to disresect their approach but one does have to recognize that it is a minority view. I hardly think that the district will use them as a model when adoptin a base line for curriculum offerings. The district will probably hopefully) look at objective date, perhaps what has worked in other states, parent and teacher surveys, etc.

There are some basics in addition to mandated core offerings that we know ALMOST everyone agrees on.

Advanced learning offerings (AP/IB)
The arts (Music, drama)
foreign language

I hope thats a start.

Anonymous said...

Working Together said:

"The research I'm aware of points to class size as one of the greatest indicators of a student's success."

Could you please share this research.


Anonymous said...

I also think k-8s should not be regional or all city draw schools. I am tired of paying transportation costs for these programs. I want predictability, and I want neighborhood schools.

That said, I like the idea of set aside seats 10-20% at k-8 schools so folks that live outside of the reference area can get in if they want to (providing their own transportation of course).

It really doesn't have to be that complicated. You can please all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time. That is the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Lets say have a group of families at one school that only want their kids to eat hot dogs for lunch. They complain that the district offers a multitude of lunch options, and that they only want to have hot dogs offered to their children. They get a little publicity, and lots of parents debate the idea on local blogs, and then what do you know. The district is only serving hot dogs to every kid at every school across the city.

Does this make sense to you??

This is what you are implying with the Madrona families wanting to do away with enrichment offerings like recess, PE (by the way PE is mandatory), music etc.

This is an unbalanced way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

"I also think k-8s should not be regional or all city draw schools. I am tired of paying transportation costs for these programs. I want predictability, and I want neighborhood schools."

I strongly disagree with the above statement. I believe that individual families and the district as a whole are benefitting from all city draw schools.

Read a recent posting and discussion started on this blog by Johnny Calcagno - "Neighborhood Schools: Separate but Equal?".

There needs to be predictability for neighborhood schools AND all city draw alternatives. It does not need to be one or the other.

Going to all neighborhood schools
will reinforce segregated school student bodies and likely serve to
reinforce school quality inequities.

On a personal note, my kid has been
fortunate to attend an all city draw school where as a mixed race kid she has flourished. There is alot of diversity at these schools not reflected in free/reduced lunch stats (although those are important).

As for transportation costs: there have been creative solutions blogged about here on other threads that could reduce transportation costs and preserve all city draws.

Anonymous said...

Let's look at what the all city draw elementary schools -- with tiebreakers of siblings and then lottery --really consist of. This is minus the test-in programs. It's not very many.

Every other school includes an additional nod to either local kids or a variety of clusters (but not all clusters) as tiebreakers.

The clusters that act as tiebreakers are historical remnants of other enrollment processes and in most cases have little to do with the current distribution of kids by ethnicity, FRL, geography or any other identifiable standard.

I also want to see K8s localized. Enough with the mishmash of clusters privileged with tiebreakers to attend one program or the other. The rest of the programs if they are TRULY an alternative curriculum can be all-city or some subdivision of the city if the same program is located in each subdivision. The majority of the K8s would not fit into this category.

All regular schools should have some open seats to allow for choice. But I do not favor the District providing bussing to those choices.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 2:26: It is great that your child has a good education in a diverse atmosphere. But in order to make tough tiebreaker choices, the district needs some means of differentiation. Siblings yes. Geography and distance possibly. But ethnicity isn't going to work as a definer. FRL is a definition that can be somewhat standardized. It isn't perfect. Nothing is perfect. But there has to be some sort of measurement.

FRL will upset the enrollment applecart at many schools, the same way ethnicity tiebreakers did. I for one do not mind. I saw on a different conversation on this blog the case of TOPS, which thinks of itself as diverse, and may well be diverse, but does not have a strong FRL percentage. FRL would change their enrollment mix. (This is a bad example, though, because I don't think TOPS should be a multi-cluster draw anyhow.)

Local K8s, all city draw alternative schools with a nod to very nearby residences (because they bear the brunt of the impact from buses, etc.) and then some combination of FRL and lottery acceptance. Feeder patterns for all. Go District!

Roy Smith said...

The proposed framework means only that you'll have an assigned reference school. Other choices are possible.

This is true, if there is sufficient excess capacity to allow choices to be possible. I am somewhat skeptical that this is the case with elementary schools, in some areas, such as the northeast cluster. Also, it is very difficult to see how the reference areas in such an area could be undersized in order to allow for set-aside seats.

I see three competing interests driving this discussion with regards to elementary and middle school assignment:

1) Demand for predictable assignment to neighborhood schools.

2) Interest in having a variety of options (whether they be Montessori, reference area/traditional K-8, reading & math emphasis, programs with lots of enrichment activities, advanced learning programs, or various flavors of alternative education).

3) Desire for reduction in transportation costs and for efficient utilization of school building capacity.

To a large degree, 1 & 3 are compatible (though there are exceptions - for instance, if Magnolia and Queen Anne get their way and have Ballard made their reference area high school, this could push some students who are in the north part of Ballard's walk radius out of Ballard and into Ingraham). 1 & 2 can be made compatible, but it is hard to see how this can be done without sacrificing 3. It is very difficult for me to see how all three of these priorities can be satisfied (to the degree that their respective advocates would like) at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the summary Roy. I think we want it all. But I suspect that it is no. 2 that will be diminished.

With a move to strongly reign in sight-based management & a move to the weighted student staffing funding model, I think schools will become more homogenous.

Roy Smith said...

This is slightly off-topic, but I thought it worth sharing anyway.

The Cost of Fuel Hits the Schools
Local schools pinching pennies to save money on gas for buses

These stories are both out of the midwest, but rising fuel prices may make this an issue here in Seattle. In the FY 2008 Recommended Operating Budget, I found the following quotes:

- "The District and the staff face thorny issues trying to meet inflationary demands without eroding support for academics. Examples include fuel prices . . ." (Superintendent's Introduction)
- "In non-grant expenditures, the majority of increases are being driven by rising costs for salaries, employee benefits, and transportation." (page 8)
- "New bus service contracts for student transportation. Cost increase $2.3 million" (page 16)

The question is, how large of an issue will rising transportation costs become?

One simple way to reduce transportation costs would be to mandate that students who live in the walk zone of a school will have guaranteed assignment to that school and will not be provided district funded transportation to other schools, unless they meet specific criteria such as special ed, advanced learning, or (perhaps) assignment to designated alternative programs. It is worth noting that many local districts that have alternative programs do not provide transportation to those programs. This obviously cuts way down on choice, but I submit that it would also make a dramatic difference in transportation costs. I am not necessarily advocating for this solution, but I am curious what people think of it.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if we couldn't provide free transportation for FRL kids only. Maybe charge for others?

Anonymous said...

"Move AS1 to the MLK building"

OMG- I am sorry, but that would cause just about the biggest community backlash that I can think of short of the District selling the property to the Bush school. Move in a program that 65% white, with a 95% white staff to a building that the District was accused of closing in a discriminatory manner?

That is about as likely as closing AAA even if it were serving 100 kids, which I am being Melissa can tell you is about zero.

Roy Smith said...

that would cause just about the biggest community backlash that I can think of short of the District selling the property to the Bush school. Move in a program that 65% white, with a 95% white staff to a building that the District was accused of closing in a discriminatory manner?

Well, this just goes to prove that any change that is implemented in SPS is going to have unintended consequences. I can't say this objection had occurred to me. What is particularly ironic about this objection, if it carries water, is that AS#1 prides itself on fighting institutional racism and building its anti-racist library.

For what its worth, nobody at AS#1 will complain much if it is left alone in Pinehurst.

Anonymous said...

On transportation:

I think kids should get yellow bus transportation to their reference school for elementary, middle and high school.

But that's it.

No bus for alternative schools.

No bus for schools other than your reference school.

No bus for k-8's if not your reference school.

No bus for the APP program, or Spectrum

Feel free to choose these programs but you have to get your children there yourself.

This is how most districts do it across the country. I know we think we are cutting edge, and busses help with diversity and access. But we have to look at the big picture. We rank 48th in class size, yikes!
Washington state gets an F in math.
Just like districts across the country we need those dollars to go directly into the classrooms.

Of course there are mandatory requirements to provide transportation, I believe they are special ed.

Anonymous said...

Above poster, I am curious, why have yellow bus for high school at all instead of Metro?

Anonymous said...

Metro is not always convenient, and I have some safety concerns (I work for Metro).

I also wonder how much more affordable Metro would be than a yellow bus when we are talking about transportation only to ones neighborhood school and not all over the city.

It gets much more simple when we transportation is only provided to your local school.

Charlie Mas said...

We needn't worry about the political fallout if AS1 moves into the ML King building. The building is far too small for AS1. The building is, in fact, too small for a full-sized traditional elementary program, which is one of the primary reasons it was closed. The stated planning capacity of the building is only 210, 266 with portables.

Charlie Mas said...

Regarding the suggestion by anonymous at 6:53 to eliminate nearly all transportation:

To deny transportation to magnet programs (whether alternative, advanced learning, or what-have-you) is to deny access to those programs for families without the resources to supply their own. This would be inherently inequitable.

Other than for Special Ed, the law also requires the District to provide transportation to students who are leaving schools under NCLB sanctions for schools which are not under sanctions.

Melissa Westbrook said...

A lot of issues being covered here. Here's a few comments:

On the issue of buses; we want to save money on transportation but if you eliminate all bus service except for reference schools (which, for elementary, should be pretty close), you'll really cut off choice. As it stands we only have APP in a couple of places, Spectrum in each cluster, only 1 K-8 in most regions. It's unfair to say you figure out how to get your kid there if you want to access the program.

The problem is that all these programs are different. Do we say, you take whatever K-8 or alternative is available in your region? What if you want AAA but live in the north? Or if you like Pathfinder but live in the NE? Maybe that's just a hard sacrifice we have to make.

The issue of charging for bus service has been raised in the district before but I don't think district staff or the Board believe it is a viable option (even if FRL were discounted/free). I think it is very problematic.

The only 6-12 school I have ever heard of was the TAF initiative. I think it just hasn't been done here and thus, is an unknown to staff. The district is getting some blowback from the SW area over the Denny/Sealth joint campus because parents don't know what to think about it and the district has not laid out any clear explanation of how it will work.

Jane Addams likely should be repurposed. However, there were a couple of threads that made it sound like these schools are chess pieces that you move around. Believe me, they aren't. Both from a facilities standpoint and a school perspective, you just can't pick up a school and put it somewhere else. Where would Summit go? There are few options. One, as Charlie has said and I second, is to move it to Lincoln and it could co-house with a comprehensive high school (with Summit being around 700 and the high school around 1000). The district will tell you that Lincoln can't be used for Summit because there is no playground (which seems like it could be figured out). Also, Summit has put tremendous energy and resources into the Jane Adams building. They did it because they realized they would not be moved and needed to refigure the building. So what do they get for their sweat equity?

Also, the Superintendent did recommend co-housing Summit and AE 1 and there was a tremendous howl from those communities. You can't just stick them together because they're alternative. (Also, ditto on what Charlie said on MLK. It is a small site with a not good building. It's not reusable.)

I'm good for Spectrum everywhere but you have to understand that some schools, some teachers don't like it, don't support it and don't want it in their schools. It would take a lot on the district's part to get this on-board even though it seems like a good idea to get the program to as many kids as need it AND save transportation dollars.

Also, remake all the K-8s to be traditional? That would be a trick. What would you say to the parents/teachers/staff who created the school and developed the program? Thanks but times have changed? Maybe a middle ground could be found like having more baseline classes to appeal to mainstream parents while keeping their created identity (Pathfinder with its Native American/experience focus).

Knotty issues all.

Charlie Mas said...

roy smith is correct. In order for there to be meaningful choice, there must be seats available at the school of your choice.

That would require either a liquid market for seats (a number of students from all reference areas choosing schools other than their reference area schools) or a good deal of excess capacity.

As for the excess capacity, there is a lot of it, particularly in the Northeast cluster. It is in the alternative schools. Every student who enrolls at an alternative school contributes excess capacity to the system. That's hundreds and hundreds of seats of excess capacity.

The tougher question - and we won't know until we try - is whether or not any students with guaranteed seats at desirable schools will relinquish them.

Some will choose other public schools - either for advanced learning, for alternative education, or for some other reason.

Some of them will choose private school. When I think about it, I see that the most desirable schools are in the more affluent neighborhoods. I also see that the private school attendance is greater in these neighborhoods as well. Every student who enrolls at a private school contributes excess capacity to the system. That's hundreds and hundreds of seats of excess capacity, particularly in the reference areas of desirable schools.

Of course, the District could also build excess capacity into the system by undersizing the reference areas. This would compel the District to confront the need to provide capacity where it is needed. They may have to relocate Summit, re-open Lincoln and McDonald, and place programs in John Marshall. That's not the direction the District wants to take - they just went through a painful process of reducing excess capacity - but it may be necessary.

Anonymous said...

Some of them will choose private school. When I think about it, I see that the most desirable schools are in the more affluent neighborhoods. I also see that the private school attendance is greater in these neighborhoods as well. Every student who enrolls at a private school contributes excess capacity to the system. That's hundreds and hundreds of seats of excess capacity, particularly in the reference areas of desirable schools.

On the above comment, I know historically Laurelhurst has had quite a few people from the neighborhood attend the school, but also a huge amount of people from out of the area (due to the large attendance of private schools in that neighborhood). I know people who got in to Laurelhurst that live by Meadowbrook/Nathan Hale this year (reference school John Rogers). I'd be curious how they will draw Laurelhurst's boundaries. I assume the Meadowbrook area neighborhood will not be within the smaller clusters anymore (but who knows) which may take away these families chances to get into this school but maybe it will be easier for them to get into another closer school that they couldn't get into before?

Anonymous said...

"As it stands we only have APP in a couple of places, Spectrum in each cluster, only 1 K-8 in most regions. It's unfair to say you figure out how to get your kid there if you want to access the program."

Well then the majority of the country is doing something wrong. It is unheard of to provide city wide transportation to 15 alternative schools, an international school, spectrum, and app. I don't know how it happens but we have freinds that live in Mt. Baker and they get a yellow bus to Haye elementary is QA. Isn't this a bit much? Parents have to bear some responsibility. If you want a specialty program, you have to get your kids to it. Just because a school has a specialized focus like AAA/Pathfidre doesn't mean that the district should transport a kid from NE Seattle to W. Seattle. That's ridiculous, and a not a responsible use of tax dollars. Also, think about the kids. Our neighbors kid goes to Salmon Bay and rides the bus for 1 1/2 hours a day each way. That's 3 hours roundtrip for an 11 year old kid. Kids should be doing much more with their time than sitting on a bus 15 hours a week. He hated it by the way and transferred to the neighborhood middle school all because of the bus ride. I live in the NE cluster and live 8 minutes (by car) from Bryant. My kid didn't ride the bus all year because the bus ride took an entire hour, because it trekked all over the NE cluster to pick up kids all over and finally went to Bryant. Is this OK??? Do we want our kids on a bus 2 hours a day, even when they are attending their neighborhhod school?

We don't owe transportation to every kid to every school in the district. We owe kids transportation to their neighborhood schools. Beyond that they should get themselves to any specialty programs that they choose.

Anonymous said...

"We don't owe transportation to every kid to every school in the district. We owe kids transportation to their neighborhood schools. Beyond that they should get themselves to any specialty programs that they choose."

Which means that families with a stay-at-home parent or flexible work schedules have more options for public school than families without a car, or who cannot flex transportation time into their day. Are we willing to accept this?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think everyone will be happier when millions of transportation dollars reach classrooms, and class size becomes reasonable, parents aren't charged for kindergarten, field trips, music, art, sports. When we have the dollars to increase capacity where necessary (NE Seattle) and when we can put even more money into initiatives like the new SE initiative.

Don't you think????

Anonymous said...

When a private school gives a scholorship to a low income family, they do not offer limo service to and from school even though the family is low income. Reality is that parents have to bear some responsiblity. If you can't get your kid to the school then they will have to go the neighborhood school, which hopefully with the added dollars is an excellent school.

Anonymous said...

I do not advocate dicontinuing yellow bus service. But I am curious about the idea that only stay-at-home parents can get their kids to school.

If there is not a stay-at home parent, or babysitter,at home where do children go when they get off the bus at 3:00?

On-site childcare would allow a working parent to get their child to & from a school by car or metro.

Vans come to our school from YMCA and other childcare sites to pick up children after school. Would this happen more if there were fewer yellow buses?

Unknown said...

Dorothy asked for class size research: check www.heros-inc.org, which sums up this well-researched area, in which the consensus is now that class size matters and that smaller class sizes provide larger achievement gains- a quote:

"The first meta-analysis by Glass, Cahen, and Smith (1978) dealt with the impact of class size on student achievement. By combining 77 studies, which yielded 725 comparisons of achievement in classes of different sizes, they were able to spot trends that did not show up clearly in every study. An important outcome of the Glass/Smith meta-analysis was the finding that the greatest gains in achievement occurred among students who were taught in classes of 15 students or less. Glass, Cahen, and Smith (1978) summarized their findings in these words:

As class size increases, achievement decreases. A pupil who would score at about the 63rd percentile on a national test when taught individually, would score at about the 37th percentile (when taught) in a class of 40 pupils. The difference in being taught in a class of 20 versus a class of 40 is an advantage of ten percentile ranks.

A follow-up study by the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development using "meta-analysis" was published in 1979. Non-achievement effects on class size such as effects on students, effects on teachers, and effects on the instructional environment and processes were investigated. The results indicated that decreasing class size had a beneficial effect on the classroom environment. In the review, class size was shown to have a more "substantial effect" on teachers than on students or the instructional environment. The effect of class size was more significant for students below the age of twelve (Smith et al., 1979).

When N. Filby and colleagues published "What happens in smaller classes? A summary report of a field study" in 1980 they reported that teacher attitudes improved in smaller classes. Teachers in reduced class size environments were able to reach a child and help him/her when the help was needed; in larger classes the teachers felt that they could not get there to help. These teachers stated that with large class assignments their workload was heavy and overburdened. When such overloading decreased, as smaller classes became a reality, the teachers were able to relax more, feel less frustrated, and were able to create a more positive learning climate that also discouraged classroom disruptions. They found that the attention rates for students increased as class size decreased. The range of those paying attention was from 56 percent in large classes to 72 percent in the smaller classes. Increased attention span meant less time waiting for help or causing disturbances in the classroom

The researchers concluded that the class size reductions alone do not necessarily bring about change. However, teachers experience improved conditions, and this development brings about greater enthusiasm on the part of the teacher. Such enthusiasm can lead to changes that benefit everyone. Teachers usually do what they are inclined to do anyway; however, smaller classes allow them to do a better job. This conclusion was supported by an earlier teacher survey. The National Education Association conducted a teacher opinion poll in 1975. It reported that more teachers named lowering class size than any other item as the one improvement that would create better teacher morale and job satisfaction. It was the opinion of these teachers that smaller classes mean that student attitudes toward learning and motivation would be more positive resulting in higher academic achievement.

A statewide reduction of classes in grades K-3 was the result of pilot data from the Indiana State Department of Education (1983). The 1981-83 study compared reading and mathematics achievement of 24 K-3 classes at a ratio of 14:1 to K-3 classes averaging 23 students. Standardized reading and math test scores showed that students in the "small" classes exceeded normal growth in greater numbers than comparable students in the "regular" classes. Generally, 14 percent more students in smaller classes exceeded the expected achievement than students in larger classes. Teachers also saw improvements in the behavior of students, increased productivity, and more hands-on participatory learning.

Research has begun to focus upon what actually happens in smaller classes as opposed to larger ones. The Ministry of Education in Ontario, Canada was concerned with this question in a two-year study. Students from the fourth grade were assigned, in the first year, to some thirty-four different classes--some with sixteen students, some with twenty-three, some with thirty, and some with thirty-seven. During the second year they were all reassigned to different sized classes. This allowed the re-searchers to study the same students and the same teachers in different settings and to observe changes in classroom processes. The overall findings indicated that even though class size did not change the degree of individualized instruction, the teacher did spend up to twice as much time per student in the reduced size classes (Klein, 1985).

In a 1986 review for Education Research Service, Robinson and Wittebols objected that the Glass and Smith findings because the meta-analysis had included college classrooms and individual tutoring arrangements. They suggested a Related Cluster Analysis approach designed to: (1) identify and summarize all of the research studies available on the effects of class size, and (2) group the research findings into clusters related to each of several major areas in which problems, issues, and decisions relating to class size are likely to occur. The advantages of this approach, according to Robinson and Wittebols, was that it sorts out from the large body of research findings on class size into those findings that relate directly to specific areas and it made the research understandable and useful for application to specific decisions. It differed from the Smith and Glass Meta-Analysis in that Meta-Analysis removes decision makers from familiarity with the research by giving them only broad generalizations. However, when Robinson and Wittebols did a cluster analysis by grade level they concluded that smaller classes were beneficial in the early primary grades. (Robinson et al., 1986).

The most comprehensive review, meticulously conducted for the California Educational Research Cooperative by David Mitchell and colleagues concluded that:

For all student populations, class size research, while difficult to synthesize offers convincing evidence of an important link between lowered student/teacher ratios and higher achievement (Mitchell, et al., 1989).

Findings from the current major well-designed class size studies, seem to have influenced policy makers toward the institution of reduced class size. Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, has laid out a four-point plan to ensure that all children are educated to their full potential, which includes reducing classes to "no more than 15 students per teacher" for the early elementary grades. In addition, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Delegate Assembly has revised their class size policy statement from 20 to 1 down to recommending a student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1."

There is a large amount of research out there. Frankly, to me it's pretty common sense that smaller class size works. Think about it- would you rather host a birthday party for ten seven-year-olds or fifteen? Those last five kids up the chaos by another 100%. And given that around 85% of people are extroverts and 15% introverts, the larger the class size, it seems a logical conclusion that the quiet ones get more lost in larger classes.

Anonymous said...

Also, remake all the K-8s to be traditional? That would be a trick. What would you say to the parents/teachers/staff who created the school and developed the program? Thanks but times have changed? (Pathfinder with its Native American/experience focus)
Yes, Melissa, that is exactly what the district would say to most of the K8s, in a positive, not negative manner. Thanks! Times have changed! You have helped raise district standards as a whole because many of our traditional classrooms have incorporated Best Practices that evolved from your programs. That is a wonderful evolution within our district!

Now, the overall district's offerings are more like your classrooms' offerings than they are different. You are now classified as a traditional educational experience in a K8 facility. More great reference schools for our nearby community...and still some choice seats for the community at large.

Pathfinder was not a good example because it has a more alternative emphasis than most of the others. Of course the district would still maintain an alternative school or two within a K8 facility.

Charlie Mas said...

The person writing in opposition to yellow bus transportation to any school other than the reference area school (except as required by law) will be very happy to learn that part of the framework for the new student assignment plan is exactly that for middle and high school students and reduced transportation for elementary students through reduced cluster sizes.

There will be no more yellow bus service for high school students (except as required by law) as they are all being transitioned to METRO. Following this change, the District's transportation costs will be the same regardless of the student's school choice.

The proposed change in middle school assignment would designate one reference area school for each student and provide transportation only to that school or magnet programs.

In the proposed change in elementary school assignment, the District would provide transportation only to schools within a student's cluster or to magnet programs. The District will redraw the cluster map to include a greater number of smaller sized clusters, thus reducing the number of schools to which students can get transportation.

While this is not exactly the severe restriction that the anonymous poster wanted (transportation provided to the reference area school only), that person should acknowledge the merit of other perspectives and find this an acceptable compromise.

Equitable access to magnet programs is one of the goals of the new assignment plan. Discontinuing transportation to those programs would make access to the programs less equitable, and therefore be in direct opposition to the stated goals of the effort. So that's not going to happen.

Students will, however, get transportation to only three or four general education programs at elementary school instead of seven or eight and to only one traditional middle school instead of two to five.

We can only hope that the savings on transportation makes a difference in the classrooms.

Roy Smith said...

charlie mas said . . .
There will be no more yellow bus service for high school students (except as required by law) as they are all being transitioned to METRO. Following this change, the District's transportation costs will be the same regardless of the student's school choice.

I think school choice will still affect transportation costs at the high school level, as I doubt Metro is providing bus service to SPS for free. Every student that is in the walk radius of their assigned school is one less bus pass or book of metro scrip that SPS needs to pay for. Therefore, it is still in the interests of the district for high school students within the walk radius of a high school to attend that high school.

Anonymous said...

Charlie said "that person should acknowledge the merit of other perspectives and find this an acceptable compromise."

Are you really telling mw what I should find an acceptable compromise?

Would you tell a vegetarian that they should find eating fish acceptable?

I will make my own decisions on what I find acceptable, as you should.

This is a step in the right direction, and I certainly do acknowlege the work that the district and board are doing. However I still believe that yellow bus should be offered only to reference schools for elementary, middle AND HIGH SCHOOL students. Not to multiple schools in the cluster (that's what makes our kids sit on a bus for an hour to go 2 miles down the road to their neighborhood school), not to k-8's unless they are the reference school, and not to alternative schools.

That is just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with the above poters comments, as far as limiting transportation to reference schools only. The only thing that I would be a bit more flexible on would be transportation to an alternative school if was in your cluster. The alternative school parents would know that the bus would service the entire cluster and would thus know in advance that it would be a longer than normal bus ride for their child. As it stands now every kid that rides a yellow bus has a longer than average bus ride as the buses service the entire cluster for every school. And multipile clusters or the entire city for certain (alternative/APP) schools.

The way it stands now, it really isn't fair to the kids that are just riding the bus to their neighborhood school, and have to be driven all over the cluster before they get to school.

Anonymous said...

The problem of a kid who lives near the school sitting on the bus for too long can be solved with much smaller steps than eliminating most bus service. Plan the route so the kids near the school get picked up last.

The cost issue can be solved by having parents with income above a certain level (and I'd set it higher than FRL) pay for transportation. I still haven't heard a good explanation of why this isn't acceptable.

Neither of these is a good reason to limit either choice or transportation. There are simpler solutions.

Every kid is entitled (not by law, but IMHO) to an appropriate education. That might mean Special Ed, that might mean APP, that might mean self-paced, or that might mean a place where it's ok to have pink hair and issues with authority. Why should only wealthy people have the option of finding an environment and style of instruction that fits their kids needs? That's just plain unfair. And, yes, I'll pay more taxes to support a fair system.

Anonymous said...

98112 said: "The cost issue can be solved by having parents with income above a certain level (and I'd set it higher than FRL) pay for transportation. I still haven't heard a good explanation of why this isn't acceptable."

I also used to advocate pay for busing. My understanding (from a brief remark Tracy Libros made at a meeting I attended) is that the District concluded that charging some people for transportation would cost more in administrative costs than it would generate. Another thought (my own), would a bus driver really be expected to leave a six year old standing on the sidewalk because their parents haven't paid?

Re an anonymous comment: providing transport only to your neighborhood school would be fine if all schools were identical, but they aren't. Even if the schools in a cluster are all great, there will be reasons why they won't all work for all kids and limiting transport means that the district will be providing some of us with choices that others don't have. Equitable access is (rightly, I believe) one of their stated goals.


Anonymous said...

Maureen, why don't we have every school in the district all city draw then???? Isn't it unequitable that someone in the NE cluster can't go to TOPS?? How about the NE cluster going to the only international school in the district?? How about if I live Queen Ann but really want my kid to go to Kimball in Beacon Hill?? How about Seattle kids that NEED a shoreline school?? Should we bus them to Shoreline? How about Mercer Island they opened their schools up to Seattle kids. Should we bus our kids there? Or should Mercer Island bus our kids there????

You see where I'm going?? It gets a bit ridiculous after awhile. The choice and transportation we have now does not make sense. It's pieced together and costing millions, and still is not equitable to all.

Do we really owe this extended transportation to every school for every child???

If not, how do you justify which schools and which areas get what??

Anonymous said...

It is true, that the way the choice and transportation plan works now is flawed and inequitable.

We are low income and lived in the central area but felt that AEII's unique approach would work very well for our child. They are the only expeditionary school in the district, yet only provided transportation for the N and NE clusters. I chose to drive my child because I felt that it was important that he go to AEII and I happily made the sacrifice.

The other point that I would like to make is that alternative schools REQUIRE alot of parent involvement, and volunteering. If you can't get your kid to school how will you be an active participant in the alternative school that you have chosen? Or do you just let more wieght fall on the parents who can participate in lieu of dead beats who don't? Is that fair?

If we are going to continue with extended transportation then it should inclusive of every school and every child or just reference schools. I don't think the hodge podge is really fair to anyone, except the lucky ones.

Anonymous said...

I think there's room for compromise here. We have to balance the need for a variety of programs appropriate for a variety of kids, and equity of access to those programs, against cost. Something along these lines might, I think, do that.

Alternative programs are all-city draw, by lottery or competitive admission, with transportation. If the district wants to reduce transportation costs for these programs, it duplicates them in different parts of the city.

Traditional elementary schools are neighborhood schools, with transportation for those outside the walk area but within a certain distance (or reference area).

If you want to go to a traditional school other than the one in your neighborhood, then you get yourself there. You can also only get in if there's room.

Of course, this only works if the traditional elementary schools are of similar quality. But, you know what? The current choice plan with it's distance tie-breaker has exactly the same problem. So does a no-choice plan, and so does a no-transportation plan. That needs to get fixed no matter how we do assignment.

Since middle and HS are getting metro passes, the transportation cost to the district is the same for any school that's outside the walk area. How many people live within the walk area of a High School? How much would it impact the budget if none of them walked to school? Is that number even enough to worry about? There are more middle schools, so that cost would be somewhat bigger, but is it significant? I don't know.

Charlie Mas said...

Hey, anonymous, you keep seeing this as an all or nothing issue and it doesn't have to be.

First of all, you pretty much got your wish with the middle schools: yellow bus transportation to no traditional comprehensive middle school other than your reference area school. Yes, there will be transportation to magnet programs, but most of them are not all-city draws.

Just because the District provides transportation to a nearby elementary school, a school in your neighborhood (mini-cluster) which doesn't happen to be your reference area school, doesn't put us on a slippery slope to providing transportation to every school for every student. It is a pretty reasonable accomodation to provide meaningful choice. Any of the schools in your new mini-cluster are neighborhood schools for you, whether they are your reference area schools or not.

Likewise, providing transportation to magnet programs provides equitable access to these programs without putting us on that slippery slope either. As evidence, consider the fact that the District has provided transportation to magnet programs to students from specific areas only for years without succumbing to the temptation to provide transportation to every school for every student. There are only six all-city draw programs for the K-8 grade levels (other than Special Education programs and some extraordinary circumstances):

AAA (K-8)
AS#1 (K-8)
John Stanford (K-5)
Summit K-12 (K-12)
Lowell (1-5)
Washington APP (6-8)

The District has designated APP as a special needs program, so it could be argued that the transportation to Lowell and Washington shouldn't even be included in this list but regarded, like the Special Education programs, as necessary to provide an appropriate academic experience. Moreover, it might prove more expensive to duplicate the programs than to provide the transportation.

My point is that we have managed not to slide down that slippery slope for some time. In fact, we are climbing against it. So it does not appear to be such a slippery slope after all.

And, yes, I can say what you should accept as a reasonable compromise. That doesn't mean that you will accept it. It does mean, however, that the rest of us are under no obligation to accomodate your perspective beyond that point.

The analogy to vegetarianism is not apt because vegetarians are not trying to dictate the diets of the whole school district. This is a community decision, not a personal one. In a community decision, those with extreme views - and your perspective, while valid, is an extreme view - are expected to accept compromises which include elements of other valid perspectives. Your unwillingness to acknowledge the validity of other perspectives or to accept compromise marks you as unreasonable.

You can be unreasonable if you want to be. In fact, I wholly support your right to stand on principle. Let's just not pretend that it is a reasonable expectation that the community, which includes a number of other valid perspectives, will wholly adopt that perspective as the only valid one.

If your child is on a bus for an hour to go two miles, then I suggest that is an outlier case and not representative of the typical transportation experience. As such, it should not be used as a cause for radical change. Moreover, I wonder if, with a little work, you could not have arranged to have your child on a different bus that would not have taken as long. My daughter was originally assigned to a bus with a forty-five minute trip. We were able to get her on another bus going past our house that needed only fifteen minutes to get her to school.

Roy Smith said...

98112 said . . . How many people live within the walk area of a High School? How much would it impact the budget if none of them walked to school? Is that number even enough to worry about?

Yes, I think the number may be enough to worry about.

The walk area for a high school is generally the area where a safe pedestrian route exists up to 2.5 miles from the school. When you get right down to it, almost the entire city is in the walk zone of at least one high school (with the notable exception of Queen Anne and Magnolia, and some small gaps elsewhere in the city). Some areas are in the walk zones of as many as three high schools. For those who want to see maps of the walk zones, they can be found at New Student Assignment Plan Maps & Data under the "Where do high school students live who attend the following schools?" heading.

If it was prioritized as an objective, it would be possible to move to a neighborhood high school assignment plan which eliminated almost all of the transportation costs for high school students, because it could be arranged so that almost all of them went to a high school within the 2.5 mile walking distance. I leave it to others to debate how to balance this objective with student body diversity and equitable access to specialized programs.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Roy. That's useful info.

I wonder, would people who object to a 1 hour bus ride be ok with a 50 minute walk (2.5 miles at 20 minutes per mile)?

Roy Smith said...

I just found this really cool map of High School 2.5 Mile Walk Zones and Nearest Schools, and it includes student populations in each area.

The following points can be gleaned from this map:

1) Of 13,600 high school students, 12,072, or 89%, live in the walk
zone of at least one high school.

2) Of the 1,528 who do not live in the walk zone of any high school, over 950 of them live in Queen Anne, Magnolia, Belltown, Eastlake, and North Capitol Hill. These 950+ students live in the gap between the three most popular high schools in the district, which is probably going to cause problems as the new student assignment framework is fleshed out.

If SPS moves to neighborhood/reference area high schools, then here is my guess about how the north end high school reference areas would look. Please note that this is me playing with numbers and trying to determine the logical fallout, not a statement of what I think either will or should happen.

A) 1,084 students are in the walk zone of Ingraham. Current enrollment there is 1,246, so anybody in Ingraham's walk zone will have it as their reference area school, even if they live closer to Nathan Hale. Ingraham will be able to absorb 162 students from elsewhere.

B) Nathan Hale's current enrollment is 1,090. Assuming Point A) is correct, then 229 students who live closer to Roosevelt than they do to Nathan Hale will end up with Nathan Hale as their reference area school. Nathan Hale will have no excess capacity.

C) Roosevelt's current enrollment is 1,714. All students who live closest to Roosevelt will have it as there reference area school, as well as all those with the exception of those assigned to Hale in Point B. Roosevelt will be able to absorb an additional 397 students from elsewhere.

D) Ballard's current enrollment is 1,674. Excluding the area that is in Roosevelt's walk area and is closer to Roosevelt, Ballard's walk area encompasses 1,665 students. Ballard can absorb 9 students from elsewhere.

Given this analysis, I find it unlikely to see how Ballard could be designated the reference area high school for Queen Anne and Magnolia, particularly if there are a number of set-aside seats at Ballard for the biotech program. The only way for QA/Magnolia to be included in Ballard's reference area would be to tell significant numbers of students that live in the walk zone of Ballard that they will instead have Ingraham as a reference area high school and they will be provided transportation, rather than walking to the closer school.

Also, these numbers lend weight to the notion that a significant number of students who are closer to Roosevelt and think of Roosevelt as their neighborhood high school are going to end up in Nathan Hale's reference area. Given the geography and student population distribution, there is really no way that this can be avoided, and if Nathan Hale's enrollment is increased, the effect will be even more pronounced.

Unless and until high school capacity in the area around the ship canal is increased, QA and Magnolia are really in a no-win situation; if they try to guarantee space for themselves at either Ballard, Roosevelt, or Garfield, they will have to argue for displacing students from these schools that are closer to them and think of them as their neighborhood schools to other, less popular schools - Ballard to Ingraham, Roosevelt to Nathan Hale, or Garfield to Franklin.

Anonymous said...

Hey Charlie, I take offense at the tone in your posting, beginning with the "Hey, anonyous".

I am certainly not, as you said, dictating my point of view on anybody. This is a blog, where we share opinions. I have shared mine. That's all I have done is shared, not dictated.

I think your frustrated because I don't share your opinion and won't bend. I'm not trying to convince you that my opinion is right. I respect what you and others believe. That does not mean I have to accept it. Nor do you have to accept what I believe to be right.

And as for my opinion being unreasonable, do some research around the country and you will find very very few (if any) districts that provide this type of transportation. Districts generally provide transportation to local reference schools and mandated special ed facilities. That's it. I guess the whole country is as unreasonable as I am.

Anonymous said...

Roy, based on your analysis, if we live 2.69 miles from Nathan Hale, and 2.16 miles from Roosevelt, we would be assigned to Roosevelt? Both are easy walks from our house via straight streets (both just involve walking on 2 streets) (but NH is much longer)

Also, I looked up Laurelhurst. Laurelhurst is 2.69 miles from Roosevelt and 4.83 from Nathan Hale, but not easy walk to RHS or NH and easier bus route to Nathan Hale (per people on this blog, not my personal knowledge). Would you determine based on closest distance or easiest public transport?

Roy Smith said...

First, keep in mind that my "analysis" is me with a map with lots of numbers on it and a calculator. Its more speculation than anything else, but hopefully it will be thought-provoking and perhaps a spur to creative solutions.

That being said, if you are in the walk zone of Roosevelt and outside that of Hale (which it sounds like you probably are), you would likely end up at Roosevelt.

Laurelhurst, Sandpoint, and Maple Leaf may be the neighborhoods that will be fought over when the boundaries of the Hale reference area are drawn. Residents of those neighborhoods may prefer Roosevelt, but Hale and maybe Ingraham may end up with a very undersized reference areas if all of those neighborhoods are placed in the Roosevelt reference area. Also, putting those three neighborhoods in the Roosevelt reference area may do nothing to relieve the overcrowding there, and that is a priority for some people as well.

Anonymous said...


You need to keep in mind that Hale is no where near capacity, the current enrollment is artificially low.

Also, I don't think it is correct to say that the District is going to a reference area/nieghborhood high school system. It is a subtle, but important difference: students will be guarenteed access to a nearby high school if they want it, but not necessarially the one closest to where they live.

I think it is quite likely that the Eastlake/Bellevue/Queen Anne area students and the Magnolia students will not be grouped together. I would suspect the former will have Garfield as thier designated school, and the later will have Ballard.

This will of course mean that some actual Ballard resident students will not be able to have gauranteed access to Ballard (thank Ms. Brose and the other Magnolia parents for that) because there is not sufficient student population to justify a school for those who elected to move to an area where there was none.

Also, I believe that the middle school walk zone is going to be reduced from 2.5 miles. In the community meeting I went to, Tracy Libros and several other district staffers made it clear that they think that this is too far, but until there are less buses going around all of the large clusters now taking kids here and there, it cannot be changed.

Roy Smith said...

Anonymous 9:43, I essentially agree with your points.

My point are essentially that:

1) Increasing enrollment at Hale does nothing to relieve the conflicts between neighborhoods - in fact, it will probably intensify them.

2) The only way I see for Magnolia and QA can get guaranteed access to Ballard is to convince SPS to draw the boundaries such that other neighborhoods which are in Ballard's walk zone are denied guaranteed access to Ballard. Attempting to do this will create conflict between QA/Magnolia and whichever areas are going to be guaranteed a bus to Ingraham rather than guaranteed a seat at Ballard within walking distance. This will also cause conflict with some taxpayers (such as myself) that think that students within walking distance should have priority over those who aren't, for the simple reason that it reduces money spent on non-education expense with the intended goal of getting more money to the classroom.

I agree that Eastlake and north Capitol Hill will not have guaranteed access to Ballard. They will likely get either Roosevelt or Garfield, but those schools also both have capacity issues, and again, the tradeoffs involved are problematic.

As a result of looking at these numbers, I am pretty firmly in the group of people that thinks this area needs another comprehensive high school. The logical place for this additional high school would be at the top of Queen Anne - again, illustrating that selling the old Queen Anne High School building is probably the most annoying piece of historical legacy we have to live with. Re-opening Lincoln might fix the capacity problem, but it is located in the area that already has decent coverage of high schools, not the area that really needs it.

In your last paragraph, is that a typo and did you intend to refer to high school walk areas being reduced? If so, what is the rationale that is being put forth? Transportation costs are an issue, and childhood obesity/lack of exercise is also an issue on many people's minds. Walking is good exercise and doesn't cost money. IMHO, 2.5 miles is a reasonable walking distance - a high schooler or an adult in average condition can go that distance in under an hour.

Anonymous said...

High school is 2.5 miles
Middle school is 2.0 miles
Elementary school is 1.0 miles

Anonymous said...

I know one of the concerns posted on elementary was how large class sizes would be based on lack of capacity. The website says they determine capacity by a set class size for each grade. For K - 3 it says 23. Many elementary schools in the NE are way higher than this now (not by choice) due to lack of capacity. It further reduces capacity by 25% to account for special ed, etc. This sounds great, but how can they do this in the NE without opening a new school/making another school bigger?

Anonymous said...

Hm. Maybe we should have a free-market economy, where if you live close enough to a popular school to be a shoo-in, you could sell your access, with 50% going to the school district. The district could be like real estate agents, watching all the properties flip and the percentages piling up. (No, I'm not really serious! but it would be interesting to see a computer model)

Anonymous said...

Are they talking about reducing the walk zone for high school due to it being too long or to more conveniently have people who live within 2.5 miles of Ballard or Roosevelt be assigned to a different school without the publicity of Seattle schools assigning a high school to people other than ones they could walk to.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous poster who said "thank Ms. Brose and the other Magnolia parents for that) because there is not sufficient student population to justify a school for those who elected to move to an area where there was none."

Don't you think this is a harsh and unfair statement? Shouldn't the district give every neighborhood a school? Why would you point the finger at a parent who chose that neighborhood? Point the finger at a district who has not given that neighborhood a school. Your reasoning is insulting and unfair. It is our constitutional right to have access to adequate education. How dare you say those children shouldn't have access because THE DISTRICT and it's boundaries are so lopsided.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think it is harsh. What I think is harsh is forcing students out of thier actual nieghborhood school because of a belief that you are entitled to it.

"Shouldn't the district give every neighborhood a school?"

No, not unless there are sufficient students to fill that school. That is a waste of money.

Center School was created for these very same families who elected to move to an area without a school, which still does not have enough students to necesitate spending $75-125 million dollars on a new school. That is the cost estimate presuming that the school is built on land that the District already owns, an the only site near that area is Memorial Stadium, which reverts back to the City if SPS does not use it for athlectic events, meaning it can't be used for school unless you build the school in the current parking lost, which is less that 3 acres, and a huge source of steady revenue for the district.

Garfield only has capacity issues because of it being the only site for APP, but if you look at the numbers, many of the kids who are accessing Garfield now as APP students are in fact from the QA area, so again, I think it is much more likely that QA students will be given Garfield as thier default school.

I don't want to build another school until there is proven actual lack of capacity, meaning that there are no more empty seats at Ingraham or Hale (with Hale at actual capacity, not artificially low). To do otherwise is to be fiscally irresponsible simply to please a small group of people who like to get thier way by threatening to leave the district. Center School is a financial money pit created for the exact same reason.

Anonymous said...

They are talking about reducing the middle school walk zone, not the high school. Sorry I was not more clear!

Anonymous said...

I am going to break my tradition of being a lurker, not a poster, to state my agreement that it is irresponsible to start talking about building a new high school until there is real lack of capacity.

I am in what is probably the minority on this board, but the vast majority of this city (last I heard, over 80%), someone who does not have children.

I work for SPS and care about public education (gave up a high paying job to come work for SPS), but do not want to see another high school built for a bunch of reasons, including expending such a huge amount of money on something for a very small group of people to the detriment of serving other children.

I do not agree that there is an entitlement to have a school in your nieghborhood, particularly in a city was the vast majority of us do not have school age children. That is a fiscally unsound, selfish proposition. If you want to have guaranteed access to a nieghborhood school, then the simple answer is to live in a place where there is in fact a nieghborhood school.

Everyone makes tradeoffs in life. I am pretty sure no one who buys a house in Magnolia or on Queen Anne is doing so because they cannot afford to live elsewhere. One of the tradeoffs for living in that nieghborhood is not having a local school. I don't want to bear the costs of your choice, if now you want a school of your own - other than the Center School, nor do I want SPS to spend millions to build a new school for a very small handful of student that can instead be spend on bettering the buildings and education of thousands of students elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:30-
You write "It is our constitutional right to have access to adequate education." My "how dare you" to you is that Ingraham and Hale are more than "adequate."

You do not have a consituional (and by the way, it is WA state consitution, not US, which does not contain a right to education at all) right to have any access to any particular school. There is a legal case on this, called Palmson about busing.

I, along with every other tax payer, do, however, have a right not to have my tax dollars wasted. To me, that has already happened with the Center School (is the City going to compensate the district for all of the millions spent on sysemic retro fitting of the Center House when they tear it down? Not likely) and I don't want to see it done agian by building another school for the same small number of students, particularly when there is plenty of space to accomodiate them within the District.

In fact, SPS should not even consider building another high school until they close at least two schools: the Center School and Rainer Beach. RB should be closed, and its students and staff merged into a new, reconsituted program at Cleveland. And then, before a new school is built, I want proof that all of the excess capacity in the north end is going to be used.

Anonymous said...

Ok, in regards to the QA kids who want to go to Ballard:

Usually a lurker said "I do not agree that there is an entitlement to have a school in your nieghborhood, particularly in a city was the vast majority of us do not have school age children."

and anonymous says "What I think is harsh is forcing students out of thier actual nieghborhood school because of a belief that you are entitled to it."

Where do you suppose these kids go?? Garfield is someone elses neighborhood to, right. So they would have the same issue using anonymous theory. The Center school is NOT A COMPREHENSIVE HS, and hopefully even you would agree that all children are entitled to a comprehesive HS, right?

So where do you want these kids to go??

Anonymous said...

Hale and Ingraham are someone else's neighborhood schools too, and both are full to capacity. Besides the whole Ballard argument is that you want to be in your neighborhood school, how do you think QA kids would like to be shipped across town, on two buses a day??? Just put yourself in these KIDS shoes and think about it. Don't be so me,me,me, selfish.

Anonymous said...

One more thing:

If this applies to QA kids, it surely applies to Ballard neighborhood kids too....in your own words "You do not have a consituional (and by the way, it is WA state consitution, not US, which does not contain a right to education at all) right to have any access to any particular school. There is a legal case on this, called Palmson about busing."

So, move over and share your space Ballard, you have no right to it either!

Anonymous said...

"I do not agree that there is an entitlement to have a school in your nieghborhood, particularly in a city was the vast majority of us do not have school age children."

This type of mentality is what keeps our schools so underfunded. Underfunded schools and Seattles rising cost of living, will keep families away. It is a downward spiral, and until this mentality changes and Seattle celebrates the education of their children, families will continue to flee, and Seattle will eventually become a city of elderly, rich.

Anonymous said...

"Hale and Ingraham are someone else's neighborhood schools too, and both are full to capacity"

This statement releaves your lack of actual knowledge of this subject. Niether school is anywhere near capacity. Hale sets it capacity articifically low, and hase the ability to serve hunderends more students.

Ingraham has enough room now to take students from other districts, and is still not full.

"QA kids would like to be shipped across town, on two buses a day??? Just put yourself in these KIDS shoes and think about it. Don't be so me,me,me, selfish. "

Produce to me an actual example instead of the hysterical claim. What two buses do students take to get where? Bus numners and times please. I am tired of people making this claim without ever backing it up. I rode two buses to get to school my entire life, and frankly, don't buy this as a reason to make or break an assignment plan,

And you are the one who is only focused on your situation, if not, you would know what schools had capacity and what did not. I believe that because you elected to live someplace where their is not an actual nieghbohood school, you give the consquence of that, which is assignment to other people's nieghborhood schools on a space avialable basis. It is no less fair then your proposition to force students out of thier nieghborhood schools because you like thier school better than the one that was created just for you, even though it was a colossal waste of money and not needed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above posters comments. You can't have it both ways. You either have to give the QA kids a neighborhood school, or you have to make room for them in YOUR neighborhood school (IE Ballard or Garfield).

It is simply not fair to say these kids should just be shuffled all over the district to which ever schools happen to have space for them. The kids are separated and bused all over the city, and there is little predictability for them. This is obviously not equitable. Even Brita points this out.

The Center school is alternative and definately not for everyone. It is not comprehensive. If it is not popular, or filling up on it's own, then close it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:07-

Please keep in mind that it is those of us without children that are continuing to fund SPS via approving every levy and bond measure that is put on the ballot.

Underfunding is a consquence of the state not fully funding basic education, not a result of the 80% of us in this city who do not have school aged children agreeing to pay higher taxes at every turn to support public schools.

I personally want SPS to be wise with that money, and that means not building schools at a drop of a hat when there is excess capacity.

Anonymous said...

We can also turn the tables on the anonymous poster above :

You CHOSE a neighborhood (Ballard) "where kids are forced out of their neighborhood school" so too bad for you, deal with it.

You see how things can turn with this type of thinking?? It is not productive. We have to think about how to work together and put the pieces of the puzzle together to make it work for everyone. That might mean a new school, it might mean sharing space at Ballard or Garfield, it might mean re-inventing The Center school to be more appealing to a broader range of families, etc.

Anonymous said...


I am fine with QA kids should have Garflied as thier designated school, I just don't think it is wise to lump Magnolia/QA and the downtown nieghborhoods in one group and give them a huge block of seats at Ballard.

Keep in mind that Garfield's actual capacity for "neighoborhood" students, (whichever nieghborhoods they is) can rise or fall depending on how many students are allowed into Garfield based soley on being in APP. That is a number that can be adjusted to accomidate the hanful of QA kids that all of this fuss is about. As to the Magnolia kids, for me, they can go to Ingraham or Hale or any other school that has the ability to take on more students.

Anonymous said...

Here it is straight off the metro trip planner. I checked from Haye elementary and for Coe elementary to Hale, with a 1 mile walk radius on both ends. There is no direct route. The trip takes over the districts 1 hour window, a 14 year old child will be expected to change buses downtown, and walk a 1/2 mile too. Wow, isn't this a lovely idea....do you think your kid would like this???

Itinerary #1

Walk 0.1 mile S from COE SCHOOL to
Depart W McGraw St & 6th Ave W At 06:39 AM On Route MT 2 Downtown Seattle
Arrive 3rd Ave & Pine St At 06:58 AM
Transfer to
Depart 3rd Ave & Pine St At 07:09 AM On Route MT 72 Lake City Express
Arrive Lake City Way NE & NE 110th St At 07:46 AM

Anonymous said...

"re-inventing The Center school to be more appealing to a broader range of families"

How does this come into play when the City, who ownes the Center House, wants to knock it down? I think that the Center School will fall to the side of being a failed experiment.

Anonymous said...

continued from above:

Just FYI this was the quickest, most convenient schedule.

And for the record anonymous, I do not live in QA, I live across the street from Hale. So, I am not self serving. I feel for kids who do not have a neighborhood school in QA, and wish an equitable solution for them.

Anonymous said...

Fine, let it fall to the side, and find another way to accomodate children who need a school. That may not be a new school. It may not be taking the seats from Ballard. But it shouldn't be just saying they chose this neighborhood so too bad for them. That's just hateful.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:28 AM:

Your "and walk 1/2 mile" ignores that part of that walk aritificatial- the walk from Coe to the bus stop. A .3 mile walk is not "1/2 mile."

You suggested a Coe-Hay route, here is my counter to that, you can get from Coe to Ingraham and Garfield in less than an hour on Metro.

Anonymous said...

New anonymous here....

If my 14 year old daughter had to ride that metro bus downtown at 7 in the morning, I would pull her out of Seattle Schools and get a scholorship to a nearby private school or a litle apartment in Shoreline.

That schedule is unthinkable and unsafe. I wouldn't go downtown near 3/pike at 7 in the morning alone at my age. It is vagrant haven, and just gross. There better be another solution for those kids.

Anonymous said...

You are so busy sending kids from QA to Ingraham on a two bus, one hour trip, while your little prince or princess walks to their neighborhood, comprehensive HS. UGH!! So very selfish.

Anonymous said...

If you stopped being so defensive you will see it is a 1/2 mile walk. Count the walk to the bus stop, the walk between buses and the .3 mile walk when they get off the bus. That is .5 (or 1/2 mile) or very close. But feel free to keep arguing.

Anonymous said...

"My little prince or princess" takes a bus across town to Garfield for APP. I don't have a dog in this fight other than I don't think you are being fair to the families that live in Ballard. If the District moved APP to Cleveland to give room for more nieghborhood kids at Garfield, I would be fine with that.

Anonymous said...

This from the person who thinks Inghram is full. RICH.

Anonymous said...

New anonymous here again..

I would suggest ending this conversation. It is going nowhere. And the Ballard parent is not going to change their perspective. He/she wants what they want at the cost of other kids in the district. So be it. We won't change it here. I'm sure that the district and school board will address the issues, and I will advocate for these neighborhoods when the time comes. I don't live in Qu. Anne either.

The sad truth is most of the Qu anne families can afford private school, and we are probably loosing a majority of them. Does anyone have any figures of percentage of kids in the QA/Magnolia areas attending pvt school. Wonder what that number will increase to if the new plan does not give them some neighborhood school.

Anonymous said...

Oh excuse me, while your little prince/princess is chauffered via yellow bus to the gifted program. How awfully taxing on them.

Anonymous said...

New Anon-

I agree that this thread has run its course, with each perspective being the school version of NIMBY mentality.

I don't think either view point is any more or less selfish than the other, but I think it does reveal why the District staff is at time loathe to have tons of public input on these major decisions.

Anonymous said...

Guess again, Metro bus.

Anonymous said...

Many of the recent posts are focused on the north end. Part of the larger puzzle with assignment is what happens south of the ship canal too.

We need to keep in mind that SE Seattle has less quality in high school choices. If other neighborhoods such as QA or Ballard take seats at Garfield, that leave fewer seats at the best high school in the SE. Other choices are not up to par.

I am not suggesting in the least that kids from Ballard/QA should not have great choices also - just pointing out that discussions about those N neighborhoods inpacts another part of town struggling to create good and even adequate schools.

Roy Smith said...

This entire thread proves my point about the consequences of making (or of even proposing) changes to the high school assignment system. There are going to be bitter conflicts between neighborhoods, irreconcilable differences between various parties, and winners and losers, no matter what changes are or aren't made.

I just hope the damage to the district, or to whatever sense of unity that SPS still has, isn't too bad. Hopefully, whatever happens, more problems will be fixed than are created. The can of worms has already been opened with the adoption of the framework, so now it has to be dealt with.

Anonymous said...


The tensions exist now with the current plan that does not seem to serve anyone other than those who can literally see the school they want to attend from thier home.

The tensions are there and have been there for years, the debate was as heated when the PICS group filed thier lawsuit in 2001 as they are now.

Given that the current plan only went into effect in 1999 at the high school level, I think it is safe to say that it has been contested (and loopholled by those with the ability to lobby the right people) since day one.

Charlie Mas said...

This can of worms isn't getting opened by the revision to the student assignment plan. This can of worms has been open for some time.

So long as there are more students who want to attend a school than the school can accomodate, there will be winners and losers. To the extent that some of these families are willing to accept their second choice, the sting of losing can by mitigated.

Everyone needs to acknowledge that putting student A into an oversubscribed school pushes student B out of it.

Some view this as a contest between the relative rights of students A and B. They see that A lives closer and conclude that student A therefore has the greater right to the seat.

Others focus on the District's desire to get every student into a nearby school and would hold the seat for student B rather than student A because student A has another nearby school option while student B does not.

I can see both perspectives and the merits of each.

The question is this: should we be weighing competing individual rights to determine who is inconvenienced or should we be working to create an efficient system that tries to reduce the aggregate inconvenience to all families throughout the system?

I think we're trying to build a districtwide system, so I think that the reference areas have to be drawn in such a way as to make efficient use of the building capacities and reduce travel in the aggregate, although perhaps not for specific individuals.

Roy Smith said...

charlie mas said . . . should we be weighing competing individual rights to determine who is inconvenienced or should we be working to create an efficient system that tries to reduce the aggregate inconvenience to all families throughout the system?

I think we should doing the latter. It's much easier said than done, though.

Most people who believe that they, personally, are being disadvantaged by proposed changes to the plan will oppose it, regardless of whether the changes are beneficial for the district as a whole. Of course, they won't say that this personal interest is why they are opposing it - there will be all sorts of elaborate appeals to fairness and equity and common sense to justify their support for the plan which benefits them.

I hope very much that the approach that relies on the high-minded ideal of making the system work as well as possible for everyone prevails over the no-holds barred neighborhood vs. neighborhood brawl that I fear this effort will incite, but I am rather pessimistic that my hopes will come true.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think the last two posts by Charlie and Roy are right on the money. There will be people happy and unhappy with any changes. Remember 90% of people under our current system got their first choice (yes, I know, it may not have been their real first choice but it's what they put down). That's darn good for a choice system.

So, as Charlie says, there two ways to think about it. The district and the Board are likely to go with a district-wide "greater good" plan. I hope they are not intimidated by threats of "we'll leave" by anyone or any group.

This could be Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's first big challenge and it's huge. She'll have to decide on a plan, decide on how much public input she wants and then she and the Board will have to make a final decision (although it is the Board who votes).

Anonymous said...

"The district and the Board are likely to go with a district-wide "greater good" plan. I hope they are not intimidated by threats of "we'll leave" by anyone or any group."

"Of course, they won't say that this personal interest is why they are opposing it - there will be all sorts of elaborate appeals to fairness and equity and common sense to justify their support for the plan which benefits them."

I think these two quotes from Melissa and Roy are exactly what Dr. Goodloe was talking about when she said she had little patience for the "Seattle Process"