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Friday, December 05, 2008

Parsing APP Outcomes

I attended last night's community meeting and I'll address it in a separate post. (In case I don't get to it today and you are pondering about whether to go to the one tomorrow, I'd go. You can go late because the Superintendent (or whoever it will be tomorrow) went over the background and if you've heard it or read it once, you know it. What is key is the handouts are pretty good including a sheet with every school on it with its stats; building condition score, enrollment, etc. We broke out into table groups and discussed and then reported back. It was interesting enough just to hear what each group had to say and if there were overlapping threads.)

I'm going to write about Lowell first because of a thread in another post I wanted to talk about and because I had planned on writing about each proposed action.

The APP community seems to be leaning towards wanting to stay together if they can. However, parents I spoke to last night as well as in posts here indicate a willingness to make the best of a move. The overwhelming thing I heard last night was that Lowell's population will swell both Marshall and Hawthorne from the get go, making life uncomfortable for all. And, when APP students have sibs start enrolling (if they test into APP or decide to also go to their sib's school - this will be a new option not available currently at Lowell for parents with one child in APP and one not), then the schools will really be crowded. Also, some Lowell parents worry about adequate support and resources from the District to support the moves. The numbers bear them out on the capacity issues.

Also, as I said previously, this is not a one school joining another, it's a group of students from a closed school joining an existing school. Lowell effectively ends as a school community with their own identity and now these students take on the mantle of their new school. As Charlie said previously:

"Let's also be clear that splitting APP does not duplicate APP. When you duplicate a program you still have the original intact. If, for example, we wanted to duplicate TOPS, we would no do it by closing the Seward building and moving half of the TOPS students into one building as a separate program within that building and moving the other half of the TOPS students into another building as a separate program within that building. Not at all. To duplicate TOPS we would leave TOPS intact and start another program with all new students and teachers in the TOPS model."

So from the Capacity narrative on APP, here's the district's rationale on the move:

"This inability to provide special education students at Lowell with access to general education curriculum and age appropriate typically developing peers resulted in a desire to move students out of the Lowell building."

It took an audit for the Special Ed department and the district to figure this out? This wasn't a best practice that they likely knew about for years? Sure, it's a reason but for the number of years that APP students and their Special Ed peers have comfortably shared a building, it seems odd that now is the time it needs to change.

"This program is an all-city draw—by dividing the program into two cohorts we will decrease transportation time and cost for some students, and offer an opportunity to seed programs for future expansion."

I think the district would be hard pressed to prove that they are going to decrease overall transportation time. If anything, it'll be a wash. They will likely lose some students because of the longer transportation time this move will cause. I also find it interesting that the district talks about expansion because APP is the top 2% of tested students. It's a pretty finite number. If they mean they may get more kids to test from more areas of town as the program appears more diverse and accessible, they may get a few more kids but it's still a finite number.

"We note that this will put Hawthorne above the stated planning capacity of 428. However, as discussed in the Capacity section, above, with creative use of PCP spaces schools can go above their stated planning capacity."

Okay, but again, cherrypicking to support their rationale. If you can't squeeze more space out of one school, how can you do it in another? If I were Arbor Heights, I'd use this rationale against the District in their reasoning about why Pathfinder can't go to Cooper.

"In order to accommodate the APP students at the Thurgood Marshall building the three
elementary bilingual orientation center (EBOC) classrooms need to be relocated."

Okay, but more musical chair movement of students, especially ones that need more support and stability.

"Leadership and staff to support this vision will be carefully chosen, and a design team will be identified to work with the school communities to ensure a smooth transition for the fall. We anticipate that the strong interest of APP students and parents in music and fine arts will likely extend that opportunity to everyone at Hawthorne and Marshall, as will the tradition of an active, resource-enhancing PTSA." (bold-face mine)


And here's where I'll bring in the post that troubled me and ties into this rationale:

"There are certainly many positives. The more affluent APP community would infuse the school with fund raising dollars and all of the enrichment opportunities that come along with those dollars."

(Looking at Hawthorne's website, there is no working link to any information. This would signal to me they may or may not have an active PTA. The same appears to be true for Marshall. I have known schools that have had a 5-person PTA who worked like crazy for their school so I mean no disrespect to a small PTA with fewer resources but I believe this is part of the district's reasoning whether they say so or not.)

The post is more direct than the district's rationale but it all seems the same to me. And that is the idea that (1) APP parents are wealthy and (2) that parents are a resource and (3) that in putting APP at Hawthorne and Thurgood Marshall, music and arts will appear.

In answer to (1) no, I've met APP parents of all stripes and what they generally are, rather than well-off, is uniformly dedicated to their child's education. In answer to (2), I believe that parents are a benefit to their child's school and not so much a resource. In answer to (3), what is stopping music and arts from being at these schools already? Or is it that any already existing programs will gain strength, again, from highly motivated parents?

It all feels a little paternalistic to me. I believe the district when they say they will be working on a design and a coming together of families. And I believe that parents will work together. But, it sure would be hard to suddenly have a large group of parents come into my school and say, well, we know how to run a music program and raise money so let us do it. How would you feel? Obviously, it didn't work when some new parents at Madrona tried to suggest after-school language or creating a garden. Neither the administration nor the other parents wanted to listen.

I recall reading, many years back, about an auction at a small SPS elementary that raised over $100,000. It was jaw-dropping but the school truly did have wealthy parents. But the problem was that not all the parents were wealthy and there were families who could not afford to even attend the fundraiser (no less participate). Now, many people would say, "Who cares? If people raise a ton of money for my school, I don't care if I'm not part of it." Okay, but what if there were parents who were sad/upset/feeling left out who said nothing because they felt they couldn't or were embarrassed? What if you felt somewhat patronized by the wealthier parents? Would you have a say in how the money was spent if you didn't participate?

For the district to list, as a rationale, that new parents, known to be dedicated to education, are coming into a building as a resource seems wrong to me. While I believe every child has gifts to give to other children (no matter their academic ability) I have to wonder in reverse - what is the direct benefit to the APP parents and students beyond a better building?

53 comments:

anonymous said...

Ok, Melissa, I usually agree with most of what you have to say, but some of this I just can't buy.

First of all, the thought that a school should not have an auction to raise funds because some lower income families would feel left out is mind blowing to me. I have always supported the TOPS model which is that the families that have the resources support the families that do not have the resources. And really, everyone can participate in an auction. At our school auction if you volunteer to help out you and your partner get free tickets to the auction which includes the meal. No scholarships, no filling out forms, just volunteer. Plus, even if you can't afford to buy a thing at the auction (we have been in that boat before) wouldn't you feel like you were contributing to the greater goal just by volunteering your time to help make the auction a success? So, I just can't bring myself to buy the "some people will feel left out" theory. That could apply to so many things.....should no kids bring lunch from home, since other kids have to get free lunch at school? Should no child go to any summer camps because all kids can't go to camp? Where would that mentality take us?

The other thing I take issue with is that you, Charlie and Dan are always faulting the district (and rightfully so) for not following codes and laws. Now MGJ has found through the spec ed audit that a code was not being followed at Lowell. They are not providing spec ed kids access to typically developing peers. MGJ is attempting to right that. Yu can't have it both ways. You can't fuss about the district not following code, and then when they try to fix it say things like "APP students and their Special Ed peers have comfortably shared a building, it seems odd that now is the time it needs to change."

another mom said...

Melissa,
Thanks for this summary. It is good to hear that APP parents are willing to make the best of it but...

Squeezing both the neighborhood programs and APP into these two buildings is ludicrous.This is a deja vu of the Madrona/APP co-house which was deemed untenable and is the reason why APP went to Lowell. Where is the institutional memory here? How can staff be carefully chosen for these buildings? There are hiring policies, and union seniority rules that may conflict with this vision. How do they get around this? This isn't a charter school. Does staff from all three buildings get a choice to stay or leave? Do the principals at Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne and Lowell leave? I think that the Superintendent has some flexibility in moving principals around, but in doing so will resentment be created in the neighborhood programs? Will there be wholesale staff turnover?

And I am not going to touch the idea of parents being used by the district in the manner described. You were remarkably restrained calling it a little paternalistic. It is totally paternalistic AND outrageous. Glib comes to mind too.

I am really looking forward to reading the rationale for the other buildings in the plan. Thanks again for doing this.

Dorothy Neville said...

Ad Hoc, I didn't read Melissa's post as saying that mixed income schools should not have an auction, I read it that she was pointing out that the best of intentions can have unintended consequences.

As for the special ed audit and having special ed kids be around typically developing peers, I have to ask how familiar are you with the low incidence special ed kids at Lowell?

Unknown said...

Melissa, I apologize for a post in another thread where I misattributed your intentions. That was unfairly attacking you and not the problem at hand.

I haven't had kids in the system long enough to know about the Madrona co-housing experience. However, I keep hearing it was a failure.

Could someone please explain to me why co-housing an elementary APP with a general education program in an economically disadvantaged area can't work? Isn't this this current situation at WMS and Garfield? Why does it work there and what went wrong at Madrona?

If it comes to a split, I want to know what we should be asking for to make it work.

anonymous said...

I am not at all familiar with the low incidence special ed kids Dorothy. Nor am I defending the laws or codes that govern special ed.

I am pointing out that the district has identified a case where the law is being broken. Once they do that they have to rectify the situation or change the law. We have asked them to follow their own codes and the law for a long long time. Now that they are doing that we are complaining. We say things like "it has worked OK thus far" and "why now". We can't have it both ways.

anonymous said...

I too meant no offense by my post which said:

"There are certainly many positives. The more affluent APP community would infuse the school with fund raising dollars and all of the enrichment opportunities that come along with those dollars."

I, like Mark, thought it worked well at Washington and Garfield. The non APP students get tremendous benefits by having APP at the school don't they? They get tons of extra programs, more AP classes than any other HS in the city (open to every student) strong jazz band, drama program, etc. Washington and Garfield seem to be successful by all measures.

It has worked to place the IB program at Ingraham - the demographics are changing, and everyone has benefited. I'm sure we'll see the same thing happen at Sealth.

I really didn't mean to make families look like resources, but you can see from Washington and Garfield how well it can work to place strong programs at struggling schools.

Scott R said...

I get steamed about closures. But if Lowell must split, and if its halves must be moved to other buildings, and if at least one of those buildings is located in the south end, then we need to think hard about dual programs.

In our Seattle context of school choice and segregation, dual programs can be sensitive... and successful. Consider Graham Hill. But programs are communities, and I sense that separate communities mesh best when they grow and change together. To scrunch an existing program into a building already occupied by an existing program -- that's an uninspired choice.

A more inspiring choice would be to locate these highly motivated, engaged kids in a school where they are the new context. The partner program would be our opportunity to grow the system -- to draw local families back into the school system, and to offer a great default option to families who don't exercise choice.

What if we turned Charlie's all-choice school idea on its head? Install 1/2 of the Lowell program in Columbia School, in Columbia City. Then open the partner program only to neighborhood children whose families either (a) express no school choice, or (b) don't get into their first-choice school. That second, desirable program would be entirely off limits to school choice. But it could succeed, because it would be thoughtfully engaged with a program that's designed to succeed.

Dorothy Neville said...

Mark, here's just one article about the Madrona-APP co-housing.

Search the Seattle Times archives and there are more.

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19990810&slug=2976509

Washington and Garfield do work, but there are issues as well. It's not perfect.

SPS Family said...

I don't see how APP can co-house with another program at the elementary level, because the population at Lowell now is shaped like a mushroom.

In first grade at Lowell there is only one class. Would the district guarantee a class for every APP first grader at Thurgood AND at Hawthorne every year, even if that building only has a small number of first graders some years? Or will they try to force a blended classroom with the regular ed whenever they have only a few kids in first and second grades?

At Lowell the upper grades fill up several classes. If APP is split would that limit the neighborhood kids in the two new sites to one class per grade or how could that work since as more kids test in to APP in higher grades you can't just boot the neighborhood fourth and fifth graders out that started there in kindergarten and first grade, simply because there are already so many fourth and fifth graders.

Cohousing works at WMS and GHS because the populations of APP in those grades are more stable in the MS & HS grades.

I'm not a Lowell parent, but I do urge Lowell parents not to accept any Lowell splitting plan unless the district can PROVE they have a workable plan AND that a split is absolutely necessary! And want you to know there are non-Lowell parents too who support Lowell's right to a school same as other kids.

SolvayGirl said...

Melissa
Do you know if any of the handouts will be available on the District website? for those of us who can't attend, it would be great to see the resource materials.

seattle citizen said...

Ad hoc,

No disrespect intended, but the obvious question raised by your statement (below) is why doesn't Washington get these programs anyway? Why do they somehow come with APP?
"The non APP students get tremendous benefits by having APP at the school don't they? They get tons of extra programs, more AP classes than any other HS in the city (open to every student) strong jazz band, drama program, etc. Washington and Garfield seem to be successful by all measures."

I understand the need for APP: these children are, in their way, special ed and require that their academic needs be met. Perhaps keeping them all together as a cohort accomplishes this. But how is that the program brings such "wealth" of benefits to a host school? Is that fair? Is it true? Why does a good jazz band follow APP?
If it IS true, then this is a problem: schools should have good bands, AP etc whether APP is there or not.

SPS Family said...

Garfield/Washington have great programs for the same reason Roosevelt/Eckstein do too, because they are full, not because of APP. That critical mass of kids brings state funding as well as parent dollars, and with more kids to draw from the school can build an orchestra.

Filling more schools by improving academics should be the district's priority, not shuffling kids around and closing buildings.

Danny K said...

It seems to me, at least at Hawthorne, that the APP contingent will outnumber the general education kids. So it may end up being sort of a leveraged buyout.

I do wonder, very much, what will happen with the teachers. A well-run school is a living organism and you can't cut it in half and be sure you'll end up with two healthy creatures! (Well, unless it's a worm.)

So how are they going to handle splitting up the Lowell teachers, and making sure that there's a viable group of teachers for both APP sites? Education with highly gifted kids is more complicated than just using 6th grade books for 4th graders. Believe me, not all teachers are up to it, or interested in doing it.

So far, the district hasn't said anything about how they'll handle this issue, or even that they recognize it as an issue. But all it takes is one principal who doesn't believe in gifted education to blow up the program in that school.

Regarding PTSA's and fundraisers -- this is hard-wired into the system. If you don't believe me, spend a couple days visiting different schools in the district and seeing the difference a well-funded PTSA makes. Unless the government starts funding all schools well, this issue will never go away, because the options are an underfunded school or heavy fundraising.

zb said...

I'll bring up a pet peeve in the math. The 2% number is 2% in testing, not in Seattle. The odds are that more than 2% of Seattle area kids actually test into the top 2% of the CogAT, as one example of ability testing (as well as in the achievement testing). So, it's quite legitimately possible for 10%, to pick a random number, of Seattle students to be APP eligible. That's even my guess -- that about 10% of Seattle area students are probably APP eligible, using the current criterion.

Ben said...

SeattleMom —

My son is a first grader at Lowell. There are three first grade classes at Lowell, not one.

But I truly appreciate your support for the APP kids.

anonymous said...

Seattle Citizen it is very true that schools that have affluent communities have a lot more than low income schools. Garfield for example offers the largest amount of AP classes of any HS in the entire district. They have to offer them because the APP students need these rigorous classes. But, they are offered to the entire school community, not just the APP students. So students who would otherwise not have this vast array of AP courses, now have access to them. Consequently Garfield has the highest percentage of students of color taking AP courses in the entire district.

That's just one example. If you look at other schools you will see the same thing. When affluent families join a community, they demand rigor, they demand enrichment, they demand strong teachers and leadership. They advocate for their children with vigor. They are willing to contribute large amounts of dollars in fund raising to supplement the districts baseline offerings. They join the PTA. They garden, they help in the office, chaperon field trips. All together it does make a big difference and a strong school.

I didn't mean to imply that parents are resources to be spread around. I look at it more as a social justice issue. If one community has resources and another doesn't doesn't it benefits all involved to support each other.

With choice, we have managed to segregate and insulate ourselves from one another. There are the high performing affluent schools, and there are low performing, under enrolled low income schools. And there is huge disparity between them. When opportunities arise to bridge the disparity and break the barriers and yes, share the resources, doesn't everyone benefit?

As a parent who has a child in an affluent north end school, I can tell you that he is insulated from the world. He is insulated in his community, in his friendships, in our neighborhood. He has never had a low income friend. He has never talked to a child who comes from a difficult situation. He has never met a child that can't afford to go snowboarding with him on the weekend. He has never met a child who can't invite him over for dinner because there isn't enough food, or a child that can't get to a dentist. Heck he's never even known a child who doesn't do his homework every night. We work hard to try to teach him compassion, by volunteering at our local shelter, and watching shows about social issues, and explaining why we are voting for Obama. But it isn't enough.

I can tell you that my child would benefit tremendously from sharing his classroom and community with people less fortunate than him. People that come from different circumstances than he does. People that don't look like him. He would learn compassion and acceptance, and be comfortable around people that are not just like him. And knowing my son he would not only welcome them he would embrace them. Isn't that a good thing?

And, btw I am not advocating for the APP split in any way.

dan dempsey said...

I am with ZB on this one. We live in the Emerald Woebegon and certainly more than 50% of our children are above average. Thus it only stands to reason that more than 2% of our children are in the top 2% (when national comparisons are made).

I will agree with Charlie that it is a finite number but it may be more than 2% of the SPS student population. Of course it could also be less than 2% if more of the really high talented kids decide to leave the confusion of the SPS.

Watch for the coming high school math adoption for an example of great confusion if MG-J's statement at the first committee meeting on Thursday Dec 4 is the guide line.

The Superintendent spoke for a couple of minutes. She said that the last high school adoption process failed because of "politics" and that the actual committee process was just fine.
---------------------
This is not the case. The IMP adoption failed not because of politics but because the school board acted in a responsible manner.


More on the coming high school math adoption here:
http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2008/12/irrational-decision-making-cubed.html

anonymous said...

SEattle mom it is true that a full school gets more resources/funding from the district. But why do you think some schools are full with wait lists while other schools a mile down the road are severely under enrolled? Garfield is full with a large wait list, yet Cleveland just a couple miles away is severely under enrolled. Washington MS is full with wait list, yet Meany MS is being closed because they were so severely under enrolled, yet they are only a mile or so apart? And how about Eckstein. Why do you think Eckstein is full with a huge wait list while Hamilton two miles away is grossly under enrolled?

I think it is because Garfield, Washingon, and Eckstein have a large middle class and affluent parent community. They support the school. They drive performance. That in turn drives more people to the school. It's a self fulfilling cycle.

Cleveland, Meany and Hamilton by contrast are primarily low income schools. Their communities are not infused with the funding, the rigor, the parent support, the advocacy. Their schools don't perform very well, and parents don't choose them. It too is a self fulfilling cycle.

Sahila said...

Well, then, its an equity issue - for the sake of the children being given equal opportunity, the schools predominantly filled with children from low income families ought to be given extra resources and support...

Such a simple idea! Wow, wonder why no-one else has ever thought of it? It couldnt possibly be this 'it's not my problem' mentality, could it?

Kirsten Wild said...

In response to "Sahila", there is additional money available for schools with a certain percentage of free/reduced lunch kids (Title 1/LAP): from a State Bulletin "BULLETIN NO. 047-08 SPECIAL PROGRAMS & FEDERAL ACCOUNTABILITY", "the distribution formula is based on family income factors measuring economic need and is based on the district’s October K–12 FTE. An additional amount will be allocated to school districts with high concentrations of poverty and English language learners. To qualify for the additional amount a district must have at least 20 percent of their K–12 students enrolled in a transitional bilingual program, and must have at least a 40 percent eligibility rate for free and reduced priced lunch (FRPL).

You can find a bunch of information via this link:
http://www.k12.wa.us/TitleI/LAP.aspx

The problem is, the money doesn't nearly cover the one-on-one time some of these students need, even if the amounts schools recieve may rival the amounts raised by more wealthy schools' PTAs. There is a critical balance needed in classrooms that I suspect has been achieved at the high wait-list schools cited by "adhoc", but you get one too many kids who pull a teacher's attention from those students who are performing at an OK level, and a classroom can start to fall apart. Kids whose parents have the resources to find alternatives to these failing classrooms often do. What I'm trying to say, is that in these difficult classrooms (and I'm really not faulting teachers) a LOT more resources are needed, in the form of more teachers, more support staff, etc.

I also think that volunteering, as mentioned in adhoc's first post, is not so easy for a lot of parents who work full time, myself included - and I have a spouse who is totally willing to watch the kids if I want to attend a meeting or help out in the evening with an event. I am often torn between wanting to stay home and spend the few hours a day I have with my kids versus leaving the house at dinner time in the dark and rain. Cute, snuggly kids often win. But imagine being a single parent working full-time with 5 and 7 year olds, for example, at a job that doesn't allow you to slip out for 3-4 hours in the middle of the day. Volunteering becomes very difficult. Throw into that families who don't speak much English and it gets even tougher. This is what a lot of schools deal with.

Anyway, just my brief rant. I do appreciate the support for the Lowell program. I've got a kid there, and I think the single program works best at the elementary level. My daughter just thinks of it as school - it's not a special program for weird kids. I also have very real concerns for the existing programs at Hawthorne and TM. I really appreciate the link to the John Stanford piece from Dorothy. The District's institutional memory is absolutely nil. Please read it, people. Lowell families are not being selfish when we talk about not wanting to be co-housed - there is a big chance the existing Hawthorne & TM communities will be the most adversely affected if the split/move occurs, despite everyone's best intentions, starting with the fact that Lowell students will displace existing students.

TechyMom said...

I would also say that T. Marshall is NOT a better building than Lowell. Have you driven by it? It looks like a minimum security prison. It's on a busy, noisy, smoggy street with cars driving by at high speed and nothing walkable around it.

Lowell may need some work, but it's a beatiful historic building in an interesting place. I'm sure there are developers very interested in making it into condos. I doubt they would be at T. Marshall.

AutismMom said...

I hate to bring this up... over and over again, because I'm sure it's a big bore to most people. But the requirement for special education students is NOT some mythical general education class... it is a class with non-disabled peers. Do you need sources? Lowell provides (or can provide) that opportunity.

I provide explanation of IDEA... from Wrightslaw, THE authority on disability legislation. You will note, in case after case... the standard is "nondisabled peers". The "preference" is in the school the student would have attended if not disabled. (not the closest school as claimed by SPS)

Lowell sped students, if booted from Lowell, will NOT go to the "school they would have attended if not disabled". They'll just go somewhere else, to a program exactly like Lowell's, but at a different location. Greenwood? Orcas? And if SPS really cared about "least restrictive environment" the district would have closed Thornton Creek years ago. And View Ridge, and Adams, and ... EG. Thornton Creek's sped students are ultra-self-contained. For years they were required to wear special stigmatizing shirts for recess, and are currently never allowed to step foot in a general ed class for anything meaningful, even when it is required by IEP's. But no hue and cry over Thornton Creek.... in fact, let's expand it.

-------------------------


Here are some legal cases pertaining to "least restrictive environment".

From Hartman vs. Loudon:

". . . the IDEA’s mainstreaming provision establishes a presumption, not an inflexible federal mandate. Under its terms, disabled children are to be educated with children who are not handicapped only "to the maximum extent appropriate." 20 U.S.C. § 1412(5)(B). Section 1412(5)(B)"

Wrightslaw on Continuum of placement integration of non-disabled students:

The IEP must include "An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and in extracurricular and other nonacademic areas." (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 210)


NR vs Kingwood:

"The least restrictive environment is the one that, to the greatest extent possible, satisfactorily educates disabled children together with children who are not disabled, in the same school the disabled child would attend if the child were not disabled.

We have interpreted this mandate to require that a disabled child be placed in the least restrictive environment (hereinafter "LRE") that will provide him with a meaningful educational benefit."


Wrightlaw's interpretation:
"While the Act and regulations recognize that IEP teams must make individualized decisions about the special education . . . IDEA’s strong preference that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities be educated in regular classes with their nondisabled peers with appropriate supplementary aids and services." (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 209)




It never says the kids can't be extra-smart... it just says they have to mostly be non-disabled.

jd said...

AutismMom -- I quite appreciate your speaking out about this over and over again (though I'm sure it's tiring). It is hard for people to develop the level of expertise you have without having some skin in the game, and I'm glad you're willing to share what you know, even when the rest of us keep getting it wrong.

Melissa 'Liss' Cain said...

I know exactly the school of which you speak, the one that raises $100k, because my sons attended it for two and a half years. I finally pulled my younger son out and moved him to our new neighborhood school, where he completed 5th grade last year, because we had moved out of the area and it was a much better fit for him. We were all much happier there.

Those that don't understand how alienating that kind of involvement can be haven't been there. While we are reasonably comfortable, we found it hard to keep up with the necessary expenses. The school was constantly asking for parents to pay for this thing and that thing, with little notice. There was no fund-raising outside the annual drive, so it was distinctly obvious which kids needed help paying for various events. We at least could come up with the money, even if the $300 for camp pinched us. There was one kid in my son's class whose parents could not and was regularly humiliated by the situation.

Saying that everyone can participate in an auction or volunteer doesn't really cover all the places that the privileged attitudes that were present at this school can affect both children and families. I finally quit volunteering, because I was made so uncomfortable and frequently condescended towards. The basic assumption inherent in most parents' and a good deal of staff's attitudes was that all parents could easily handle the expenses and were able to provide much time to the school and being active in the school community. I liked some of the parents of my sons' friends and I adored a few of the teachers, but it was never a place that was comfortable for a lower middle class parent, let alone a less privileged one.

I worry deeply, especially after talking to some of the Hawthorne contingent at Thursday's meeting, about how this is going to affect the schools with whom APP is planned to be co-housed. While it is certainly true that not all APP students are well-off, the fact that being well-off tends to lead to the ability to be more involved in your child's education often means that they are. This already has an effect on the less-privileged children that are accepted into APP, but stands to have a much larger impact when placed with a general education school full of children are not well-off financially.

Sahila said...

I am having trouble with statements like

"but you get one too many kids who pull a teacher's attention from those students who are performing at an OK level, and a classroom can start to fall apart. Kids whose parents have the resources to find alternatives to these failing classrooms often do. What I'm trying to say, is that in these difficult classrooms (and I'm really not faulting teachers) a LOT more resources are needed, in the form of more teachers, more support staff, etc."...

What is it with our world that we dont accept and embrace difference... why do we call it being difficult - difficult kids and difficult classrooms?

Someone or something doesnt fit into a predetermind 'norm' (a norm that person probably had no say in establishing in the first place), and it becomes a problem, and its seen as something that needs fixing and the fixing process takes away from the rights/resources of others...

And so, you have rich schools filled with people who meet the norm and poor schools filled with people who dont...

Right now in my life, I have very little... 10 years ago, I was living a very affluent existence...

Those poor people, in those poor schools - that could be you and your family and your kids - it can all change on the turn of a dime - be grateful; there, but for the grace of whatever you call god, go you ... or your can be born into that place, know no other way and learn to accept that for most of your community, you're only ever going to get crumbs, because those that have more dont want to share...

Please dont trot out the argument that everyone in this country is equal and has the same chance at a good life, and that its what you make of it yourself - learn well, work hard = success, learn badly, be lazy = poverty.

Everyone is not born equal - they might be born equal in the potential they have within them to become all they can be, but they arent born equal in their access to all the factors/resources that are required to fulfill that potential

Ultimately, it all comes more down to chance than choice - you're born into your "station" in life or events place you there - and if that's the determining factor, then from a justice perspective, what are we going to do about it?

I know about Title 1 money - AS#1 gets it... and we are oh so grateful! (which is how we should feel, isnt it?)

But what does it give us ? The ability to provide a few more of the very basics in our old, rundown building...

Whereas not much more than 3-4 miles away, Olympic View parents are spending $70,000 on a new playground...

The whole system is dysfunctional, everyone knows it but doesnt have the personal or political will to change it, and so our most vulnerable kids pay the price... and then they're blamed on blogs like this for their under-enrolled, poor performing schools...

anonymous said...

I find it interesting that Sahila compares AS1 to Olympic View, making it appear that Olympic View is their affluent neighbor raising $70,000 for a playground.

Olympic View is hardly an affluent school. It is located in a lower middle class neighborhood in the furthest north area of the north cluster. It has 28% free and reduced rate lunch, and is very diverse for the north end.

10%black
10%latino
18%asian

Compare this to AS1
12%black
8%latino
20% Asian
40% free reduced rate lunch

The two schools are both very diverse for the north end and not that far apart socio economically. Perhaps Olympic View's priorities are just different that those of the AS1 community?

anonymous said...

"Thornton Creek's sped students are ultra-self-contained. For years they were required to wear special stigmatizing shirts for recess"

The autistic children wear colored t-shirts during recess at TC for safety reasons. The school uses a recess inclusion model, where all 350 children, including the autistic kids are out on the playground together at one time. The autistic children (primarily level III at TC) need constant supervision and sometimes immediate intervention. It's a way for their caregivers and teachers to be able to quickly identify them and assist when necessary or see when they try to wander off (which they often do).

It's not any different than a regular ed teacher giving their students a colored t-shirt and asking them to wear them on all field trips, which as we all know is a common practice in our schools. It's just easy to identify them in large group settings. It's a safety thing.

Of course, TC could just eliminate the inclusive recess. They could have a recess only for the autistic children and not include them with their typically developing peers. Then they wouldn't need the t-shirts.

Unknown said...

TechyMom--No doubt T Marshall has a bland, institutional exterior compared to Lowell. If you step foot in the building, you'll see that it is in better condition than Lowell.

One of my boys went to T Marshall, so I know at least that part of the reasoning for the district's plan is sound.

Dorothy Neville said...

Ad Hoc: The autistic children wear colored t-shirts during recess at TC for safety reasons. The school uses a recess inclusion model, where all 350 children, including the autistic kids are out on the playground together at one time. The autistic children (primarily level III at TC) need constant supervision and sometimes immediate intervention. It's a way for their caregivers and teachers to be able to quickly identify them and assist when necessary or see when they try to wander off (which they often do).

Oh! Ick! I've never heard that before, but that's just terrible. As a former teacher I know that it doesn't take long to learn who's who in a school of even 500 students. It was one of the first things I worried about when I started teaching and I suffer a bit from Prosopagnosia (face blindness) which makes it worse for me. But I managed.

There is another solution: more supervision and more regular supervision by the same adults --- adults who have learned who the kids are and know the area and behaviors well enough to adequately supervise.

AutismMom: thanks for the Wright's law link. I have found their site very useful in the past. That's what I have been sad about, that the low incidence special ed kids at Lowell were already in a least restrictive environment and had as much or more interaction with non-disabled peers than they would have elsewhere. I do not know if all the special ed students at Lowell are in this category, but it sure seems like that ought to be handled with finesse, on a case-be-case basis.

SolvayGirl said...

Concerning parent involvement, volunteering and fundraising...

This is a very difficult high wire act for many parents in schools that have a broad socio-economic mix (I know because we attended our south-end neighborhood elementary for 8 years [preK-5]). Though our family is not wealthy, we are comfortable and both parents are employed. I work at home so was able to devote a bit more time at the school than many parents. And, we lived less than 2 blocks away, so no time was wasted commuting.

Our experience was primarily positive, but we did observe tension in the school from parents who complained in essence that the PTA did too much. As some have pointed out, parents who cannot give of their time and/or money often resent those who can and vice versa.

Unfortunately, this mix of socio-economic groups is a reality in much of Seattle—a veritable checkerboard of economic pockets depending on proximity to water and/or views. From my house, I can go down a hill to mulit-million dollar homes in one direction and low-income housing in the other. The children who live in these homes are all in the same reference area.

I believe this is one of Seattle's biggest hurdles in meeting every child's educational needs. A school like Rainier Beach (and I'm using high school because it serves a larger group) needs to be able to educate kids who come from struggling and sometimes dysfunctional families with low education expectations to those who come from varying degrees of privilege and high expectations. Not an easy task. Usually one group gets short-changed and when there are more children who need more just to graduate, the emphasis will and should be on them. This often leaves the kids who want/need more to look elsewhere.

Because of the generous choice system, families have ended up gravitating to their peers (on purpose or by default). The natural neighborhood mix of socio-economic groups has been separated out. A more restrictive assignment plan and/or many of the recommendations to deal with capacity issues will be mixing these groups up again.

The District, the communities affected and the regional PTA will all need to find ways to make this remix work—socially, financially and academically. Seattle cannot continue on its paths of separation and expect to provide a quality education to all of our children. It will be difficult to fix what has been done, but we've got to try. Otherwise private schools, other Districts and other communities will benefit at Seattle's loss.

Dorothy Neville said...

Ben, having three first grade classes is a relatively new thing. The admission requirements have been lowered in the past few years. That's part of the whole population explosion there. My son's first grade year (2000-2001), there were 28 first graders. In the next four years (ie, the ones for which I have directories) there were at most 24 in a first grade class and a 1/2 split with about 21 kids (but I do not know how many were first or second graders)

And remember, as long as you qualify and apply on time, you *have* to be admitted. So there's practically no wait-list.

My son was never in a split class, but I have know quite a few kids who were. And it was kinda weird, that there never seemed to be a coordination of curriculum for the different grades in the class. So for example if you were a third grader in a 3/4 split, you got fourth grade US History then *and* in fourth grade.

Sahila said...

Lets compare apples with apples, shall we????

AS #1 Demographics
191 students
43% Free/reduced lunch
60% White
15% African American
10% Latino
8% Asian/Pacific Islander
6% Native American
18% (special ed) IEP Overall
40% IEP in Middle School
48% Not living with both parents
80% N, NE, NW clusters

Olympic View Demographics
440 students
27% Free/Reduced Lunch
63% White
3% American Indian
14% Asian
10% African American
9% Latino
10% Special Education
couldnt find single parent household figure for O/V

Thornton Creek Demographics
324 students
9% Free/reduced lunch
81% White
4% African American
4% Latino
10% Asian/Pacific Islander
1% Native American
15% (special ed) IEP
4% Not living with both parents

oh what a difference a few miles and a few dollars makes!

hschinske said...

Going by last year's Lowell directory (this year's either isn't out yet, or I somehow didn't get it), there are 2.5 first grades, 3.5 second grades, 4 third grades, 4 fourth grades, and 5 fifth grades. Still probably over twice as many fifth-graders as first-graders (the split classes are smaller than the others), and still an inverted pyramid. It is going to be a puzzle fitting this kind of program alongside another one -- you can hardly expect the regular program at Hawthorne or TMarshall to have half as many fifth-graders as first-graders just to be accommodating!

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

I really don't care for the villification of any group of people by income, by race, or by employment. It is not inherently evil or immoral to be either affluent or poor. No racial identity is inherently guilty. There is no moral implication to having the freedom and flexibility to volunteer during the school day - either if you can or can't. There is no moral high ground to be won or exploited on these terms.

It is petty, unreasonable and foolish no matter which direction this sort of talk flows and we all need to stop it. So let's not have any more of this talk about how some children are more or less deserving than some other children, or about some community is somehow guilty.

There is diversity in every community and that diversity, while it brings notable rewards, is not without challenges. How can we have a fundraiser in which each family has an opportunity to participate to the extent they choose without feeling resentment towards other members of the community. Inclusive classrooms and playgrounds, likewise, bring rewards and challenges. These challenges can all be met.

We are all disappointed when people don't find solutions to these challenges or don't execute them well. It is a human system depending on human interactions. We are none of us perfect; mistakes will be made. We need to accept the failings of others as we work to improve ourselves, our relationships, and our communities.

It can be hard sometimes, but try not to see evil intent in actions that can more readily be explained by lack of skill or knowledge. Your reaction to lack of skill or knowledge will be more helpful than your reaction to perceived maliciousness. Most people, when made aware that they are causing damage, will be surprised, apologetic, and glad to prevent that damage in the future. Give them the chance to do the right thing and they usually will.

AutismMom said...

Adhoc writes: The autistic children wear colored t-shirts during recess at TC for safety reasons.
[...]
Of course, TC could just eliminate the inclusive recess. [...]Then they wouldn't need the t-shirts.


Wow. Such a shocking attitude, I can't let it pass without providing some insight for readers with an open mind. The autistic students are also restricted to certain areas of the playground. That is my definition of "ultra-restrictive", no mainstreaming ever, restrictive clothing, restrictive movement, and even the school attitude... that recess could and possibly should be segregated too. It all indicates maximal restrictivity.


1. Special restrictive clothing has not been effective. Students have "escaped". Nothing is a substitute for actual supervision.
2. Recess is an instructional time, especially if it is written into the IEPs. It is not the teacher smoking break time. If a teacher can not keep track of the student receiving instruction, it is a teacher job performance issue in need of lots of correction.
3. Students are routinely taunted at recess, again no staff helping out there. Demarkating clothing contributes to this problem.
4. There are severely disabled students everywhere in the district. This is the only school requiring special "disabled-only" clothing. No it's not the same as off-campus field trips shirts. It's ON campus, it's their school too you know.
5. TC staff has been have been harshly critical of the sped review... digging their heels in, and not wanting to upgrade even slightly to a system of less restriction.

----------

Think about it. Students required to wear yellow shirts, with a star demarkating their disability. This was already tried in Germany to demarkate Jews. Here it isn't a "star of David", Thornton Creek uses a "star of screwed-up." I'm sure the Germans had some sort of "safety" rational also.

If this was a good idea, we'd be using it everywhere. Shouldn't we be using shirts for fat kids at lunch (with a big F)? Protect the designated fat kids from eating too much. Shouldn't we also use special shirts for the lowest job-peforming teachers? The kids could be alert for the bad teaching practices the bad teachers might make.

Ridiculous. Nobody should be forced to wear clothing indicating the deficit that OTHERS perceive in them.

This isn't to say there's nothing good or hopeful at TC. And there's always room to improve.

This post is about Lowell. Clearly TC is as restrictive as any non-residential placement (some still like it). But the district doesn't close it, or move students out. The restrictivity to Lowell students isn't the real reason for any decision.

Dorothy Neville said...

"Consequently Garfield has the highest percentage of students of color taking AP courses in the entire district."

I've heard that too, but would be interested to find more detailed data. Here's a very small anecdote, and of course the data is based on my observations, not self-reported ethnic or racial status. Last Spring I volunteered to help proctor an AP exam at Garfield. I helped with the AP US History exam. There were close to 200 kids in a gym. Most of them were Garfield students, there were also students from Ballard and Hale. There seemed to be about an even number of boys and girls, but I didn't count (or if I did, I have forgotten the numbers) and there were a lot of White and Asian students, and a few (maybe 5) girls who were Black or of similar appearance, but as far as I could tell --- and I had lots of time just to walk around and observe once I realized I should think about this, I observed no males at all that I identified by sight as Black. None.


When affluent families join a community, they demand rigor, they demand enrichment, they demand strong teachers and leadership. They advocate for their children with vigor. They are willing to contribute large amounts of dollars in fund raising to supplement the districts baseline offerings. They join the PTA. They garden, they help in the office, chaperon field trips. All together it does make a big difference and a strong school.

Or things get ugly, meetings are held, and the affluent parents leave.

Maureen said...

On Harium's blog, jd proposed BFDay as the site for the northern part of APP. jd's reasoning seemed very sound to me. Was there any discussion at the APP meeting of alternative sites for the north APP school?

Is the Superintendent's handout available online? Does it actually list stats for every school, or for every school involved in the proposal?

lendlees said...

We were at the community meeting today and proposed the following options:

1) Special Ed stays at Lowell, 1/2 APP at Lowell, 1/2 APP at BF Day, Montlake moves to Lowell.

2) Special Ed stays at Lowell, 1/2 APP at Lowell, 1/2 APP at Marshall, Montlake at Lowell.

3) Special Ed at Lowell, Montlake at Lowell, TT Minor at Lowell, 1/2 APP at BF Day, 1/2 APP at Marshall.

BF Day has enough capacity, especially as they are adding 4 more classrooms. It also has a very diverse community and ALO. Fits all of the equity, access etc...criteria from the city.

Yes, I feel bad that Montlake was 'thrown under the bus' so to speak, but they are an expensive small school and, if efficiency and cost-effectiveness is important, they don't meet those metrics. It was also a way to keep the Special Ed students at Lowell (which will most likely be more cost effective than moving them around).

The impression I got from all the board members we spoke with as well as Tracy Libros, is that APP is going to be split. The BF Day idea got a fairly warm welcome so we hope it will at least be considered a viable option.

Shannon said...

I continue to be stuck on the issue of location rather than co-location of programs. I can't see how families in the North End (from Crown Hill to Wedgwood) will consider bussing their AP Elementary kids so far.

Has there been any feedback on the distance and bussing?

Ananda said...

Austism Mom:

Wrightlaw is a national source. I suggest you relook at the issue under Ninth Circuit caselaw. There you will see that the emphasis is on access to general education ciriculumn and typically developing peers. The standard is refered to as the "Rachel H" factors.

Also, with respect to school assignment, the regulation on point is 34 CFR § 300.116. That states that a special education student's placement should be "as close as possible to the child's home," and "Unless the IEP of a child with a disability requires some other arrangement, the child is educated in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled."

Lowell does not meet this regulation, as it is only avialable to APP students and certain special education students. It is not the school any of the special education students would be attending if not disabled, because it would not be avialable to them unless they qualified for APP.

So, the district is correct on this issue, at least as far as its obligated to special education students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

When I heard the idea of putting Montlake at Lowell with half of APP at the community engagement meeting, I thought it pretty smart. It definitely solves the issue of getting rid of the worst buildings in the district. Montlake is right up there and has no viable chance of being rebuilt (way too small a site for so they can't build bigger and the per-pupil cost to rebuild for 250 students would be too high). They are a solid program and while I sympathize with them wanting to stay where they are, eventually something will have to change for them. (But yes, the entire situation does somewhat fly in the face of the assignment plan going towards neighborhood schools but the district will have to compromise somewhere.)

I think B.F. Day and Lowell are both north so it doesn't seem fair to south end kids. But I don't know, it might make the busing for the SW, West Seattle, Magnolia, QA and Magnolia kids easier.

Maureen said...

Lendlees, Any particular reason for choosing Marshall (in opptions 2&3) for the South kids instead of Hawthorne? Marshall is actually in the Central cluster and my understanding is that the Central APP kids would actually be assigned with the North and QA/Mag kids. So it seems choosing Hawthorne over Marshall would improve access and reduce busing costs for the southern APP kids relative to Marshall.

jd said...

Maureen -- Hawthorne has a lot less room than Marshall. 5 free teaching stations vs 11 in Marshall if the district moves the bilingual orientation centers out. Although Marshall is further north, it might wind up being easier for more southern families to get to, given that Hawthorne is pretty far east. I think suffering through a split and still forcing the south end families to travel further north to Lowell does not serve the district's "equity and access" goals. Splitting (rather than duplicating) a successful program is a risky thing to do, and at the very least the community should get some benefits of a better commute (and thus the push to get the north end of the program into a true northern site, if the split is forced through).

AutismMom said...

Ananda writes:
Lowell does not meet this regulation, as it is only avialable to APP students and certain special education students. It is not the school any of the special education students would be attending if not disabled


Ananda, if the sped students weren't disabled, they might have been gifted... and then Lowell may indeed have been their school. It's difficult to say what a court would decide, and none have been asked to decide. It is just as easy for an APP classroom to provide mainstreaming opportunities as any other general education classroom to this particular group of students. A 4th grade disabled student at Lowell, is on a completely different trajectory than either a garden-variety classroom, or an APP classroom. Neither classroom is inherently more adaptable.

I am very familiar with Wrightslaw. The "preference" is the school the special education students would have attended if not disabled. So you're right, not Lowell. BUT the other options for those students: Greenlake and Orcas are equally problematic, and also not the school they would have attended. That is, ALL the other schools have the exact same problem. Lowell sped students are going to be the last to get a new "integrated services model", and that will no happen for at least a decade. And Thornton Creek is also NOT the school most of those students "would have attended" (some of whom wind up a Lowell from time to time). These schools are also not close to the student's homes or one they would have chosen.

For example Magnolia/QA have exactly 1 medically fragile student... and 1 profoundly disabled student. These students will not be going anywhere near their homes. Lowell is a good as the other options, and just as close.

Anyway, the point is, their situations will not be improved by a move. The district will not be more IDEA compliant. And there are many worse violations of "LRE" in the district. Prime Cherry-picking.

anonymous said...

Autism mom I was a parent at TC for many years, and I did not see what you are describing at the school. I volunteered on the playground at recess many many times. There is no restricted area for the autistic kids, that is nonsense. Their teachers go out to recess with them and stay very close to them at all times. The teachers follow them wherever they want to go. Most of the kids are level III autistic children, who need constant supervision and sometimes immediate intervention. They must be supervised very very closely, and their teachers do a stellar job of it. As for the autistic children being taunted on the playground you couldn't be more wrong. The TC community embraces the autistic children, and consistently teaches the gen ed children compassion and acceptance. Are you a TC parent? Or have you just heard rumors? If you are not a TC parent I would suggest you go and spend a recess at the school and see first hand how it works.

AutismMom said...

I am intimately familiar with TC and it's problems. FYI, the autistic students are all level 4 if they are in the 3 programs. Which is really to say, autism self-contained programs are level 4b. A few autistic students have been served the resource room at TC. Resource room = level 2. Compassion is great, and greatly appreciated, but it needs to move towards less restriction, and less restricted access. I'm not trying to rag on TC... just pointing out the facts and requirements about restricted environments.

And special clothing is a huge beef for me... and many others.

Tosca said...

I'm a southend parent (halfway between Marshall and Hawthorne) with a child at Lowell in APP. If the Northend 1/2 of APP were to find a home up north, say to BF Day, then I would actually prefer to stay at Lowell. While either Marshall or Hawthorne would be closer, I'd rather have my child stay in his building (much as many other parents facing a building closure undoubtedly feel). Of course, I'm sure that many northend families would also like to stay in the building, too.

Personally, I've always liked the idea of keeping Lowell open so that the Spec Ed program can stay put, and moving TT Minor in seemed like a nice idea, since they are stuck moving anyway. I'm not sure how it would work to create a new ALO program at Lowell with the Montessori program. And moving only general ed kids from TT Minor to Lowell while the Montessori program goes to Leschi seems to leave too much empty space at Lowell.

Closing Montlake and moving it into to Lowell with 1/2 APP and with special ed also seems like a really strong possibility, but Montlake fought of closure once before, so could they do it again? Or could 1/2 of APP and special ed stay in the Lowell by themselves for one year while they come up with new reference areas for the Central cluster - and possibly shut down Montlake anyway?

If the Lowell building were closed and 1/2 APP did go north, then Marshall does seem the better option. The way that I read the proposal, the Central cluster will be with West Seattle and South and Southeast Cluster kids (the only way they can get a relatively even split). Although Marshall is technically in the Central cluster, it is as far south as Beacon Hill Elementary and would definitely be more accessible for a greater number of people. Does that make it a better choice than Hawthorne - I don't know.

jason said...

JMT - The district will never go for keeping both halves of the APP program north of downtown. Instead of actually improving the schools that are in the south end, they can put APP in the south and say, "see we have strong programs in the south."

Tosca said...

Jason -

I'm sure that moving one of the APP programs further south is likely - and I'm not necessarily opposed to that idea.

My purely emotional response to keeping 1/2 of APP in the Lowell building (either north or south) is that on the one hand, 1/2 of the children would not be displaced and perhaps by moving in a general ed population the special ed children would also be allowed to stay.

On the other hand, I wonder if it would be "fair" to let 1/2 of the Lowell APP kids stay while the other 1/2 would have to move. It becomes very self-interested to say, it's great if my child can stay, but not if my child has to be one to move.

By the way, my emotional reaction is a perfect example of how all of this thoughtful, rationale discussion starts to fall apart. Emotional parents who in the end simply want what is best for his/her own child.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I spoke to Tracy Libros of the Enrollment office about the issue if half of Lowell stays in the building and the other half has to go someplace else. She said that it would be based purely on where children live. I asked her about the issue of some leaving and some staying and she shrugged and said the fair thing was by location and that's how it would be done.

She's right, of course, but explain that to an 8-year old. The district has to draw the line somewhere and when it comes to the assignment plan, it will happen there as well.

Anonymous said...

As a parent of a central-cluster APP student, I speak half out of self-interest and half out of genuine concern when I note that a Lowell building filled with the former Montlake community and the northern half of the APP cohort would smash all existing records for PTA fundraising and create serious resource gaps between the two APP schools (not to mention between Lowell and every other school in the district). I'm not sure whether that is an argument against the split, for some sort of joint APP fundraising, or for some broader reform of fundraising in the district to require greater sharing of resources. Probably a little bit of all three.

jd said...

I think it makes much more sense for TT Minor to become the general education half of Lowell. They're already being displaced, and if the district's numbers are right they could squeeze in.

On the other hand, this turns the elementary APP situation from being a "school closure" to an obvious "program dismemberment". The original school is left open, and they've just ripped out half the students and either moved them north to B.F. Day or south to Thurgood or Hawthorne. I cannot conceive of the district daring to do this with any other program.

Except for the special education population, who they shaft regularly.

Seriously -- do you think that the district would take TOPS, tell them that their program should grow since they're so successful, and that Montlake needs room to move into, so they're going to move half of TOPS to West Seattle and move Montlake in?

The original split at least made sense from a save-money-by-shutting-buildings point of view, so I could accept the need. This new idea just sticks in my craw the more I think about it.

Anonymous said...

While it is otherwise an excellent idea, the problem with moving the displaced TT Minor students into Lowell is that it leaves the district with one more open elementary school in the central cluster than it wants to (and can) have. This could be solved by closing Montlake (but it you are doing that, they likely need the space at Lowell) or Thurgood Marshall (but it's building score is so much higher than Lowell's and Montlake's that it looks like--and might be--racism to close it and keep them open) or Bailey Gatzert (ditto plus other programs slated for there). If you don't close one of them, then you are short one closure in the central cluster and might as well keep either Lowell or TT Minor open as is, reducing displacement.