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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Working Together -- Thinking Ahead UPDATE

SOME DATES/TIMES have changed. SEE BELOW.

Some very interesting conversations and ideas at tonight's public hearing on closures at JSCEE, with plenty of school board members attending and listening.

However, I was struck by how little participants have to say about regional communities -- we all have a perspective on our own school communities; lots of us have views on closure proposals in terms of numbers or anecdotes about others' school communities, but we just aren't talking enough about the larger cluster or regional networks that affect our options, our access, and the quality of education that our kids receive.

Well CPPS (Community & Parents for Public Schools) wants to do that, and we are starting those conversations in Central Seattle, South Seattle, and W. Seattle next week.

It is my experience that the quality and conditions of schools in a region affect one another both directly and indirectly in terms of choice, fundraising, access to teachers, access to advanced learning, diversity, and more. We need to be thinking of closure and school quality (and student assignment) in a much more systemic way, and CPPS believes that parents and community members are the ones to lead these conversations.

We are beginning a series of community conversations that will eventually extend around the city, focused NOT around saving schools, but rather around what we can do in our communities to call for and ensure SPS actions that give parents the quality schools they want.

Central workshop:
Monday, Dec. 8th, 7pm at Washington MS library

South/Southeast workshop:
MONDAY, Dec. 8th, 7pm at Washington MS cafeteria

West Seattle workshop:
Thursday, Dec. 11th, 6:30pm, W. Seattle Elementary School

We are working with the school board directors from these areas to offer a program about thoughtful, community-led problem solving.

Our goals for these meetings are:

-To begin a conversation that goes beyond looking at schools or programs on the list and focuses on how those kids, parents, teachers and programs fit into our community;
-To get people working together across schools to identify parent and community needs, offer solutions, and find resources;
-To help parent voices about educational quality, environment and programs be heard; and
-To begin to address transitional needs of parents and students who will be affected.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to stephaniej@cppsofseattle.org or kerry@cppsofseattle.org. We are seeking 2-4 participants from each school community for balanced participation. Preschool/neighborhood parents welcome!

We'll keep you posted,
Stephanie and Kerry

11 comments:

Stephanie Jones said...

I should note that the two groups meeting at Washington will start in the cafeteria, then break down by region after about 15 minutes.
Thanks,
Stephanie

Sahila said...

I'm asking again - how come there is no meeting for north end parents - with AS#1 and Summit both threatened with closure, thats around 800 kids being displaced, and around 80% of each of those populations live in the north end.... thats a significant impact on the community... in the interests of inclusion and dialogue across all affected sectors, can you please organise a meeting for north end parents...

Thank you
Sahila ChangeBringer
AS#1 parent
206 207 7511
metamind_universal@yahoo.com

reader said...

Talking to two people per .... it seems better to go out to the schools and PTAs and ask for meetings with those communities?

Sahila said...

Correction of phone number in my last posting - proofreading obviously inadequate, probably due to lack of caffeine in the system!

206 297 7511

Jet City mom said...

Technically the meetings are only for " buildings" that will be closed- not Programs.
Alternative schools are programs- at least that is the way I heard the district reasoning.

Stephanie Jones said...

Sahila and Anon at 7:42,
CPPS will be meeting with folks in the north end eventually; We believe that parent/community discussions and definitions of quality education for our communities is critical (not just for times of crisis), and is the piece that the district consistently leaves out. Unfortunately, we made arrangements in South, Central and W. Seattle before the closure list was announced and do not have the dates or the manpower to organize another meeting before the holidays. We are working with PTAs and building leaders to try to ensure broad representation at these meetings -- the point is not to give every building a hearing so much as to begin a conversation where people from across different school communities are listening to and talking with one another about regional needs and desires. It doesn't happen much in Seattle, where the dynamics of culture and choice have more often pitted school communities against one another than not.

So, we want to start bringing folks together to focus on solutions in their communities, and we need to include them all. When I have more information about what is do-able in north Seattle, I'll be sure to let you know.
Stephanie

Sahila said...

At AS#1 both our building and programme are being threatened with closure...

I think its important to have talks now with north end folks, especially as we parents from alternative schools are having difficulty in silencing the cynical voices within us, when we see that the majority of schools/programmes being targeted for closure are alternative/non-traditional ones, and the only voices that seem to be raised against that (besides our own) are form other people who either dont want us in their schools, or who want us out (dispersed to who knows or cares where) and then want our buildings!

The silence is deafening on the proposed closure of AAA and AS#1, except to speculate on who will get the buildings....

But there's all the hoopla about Lowell/APP and what trauma it will be for those kids to maybe have to move...

Community?????

Charlie Mas said...

I don't recall reading anywhere about "what trauma it will be for those kids [elementary APP] to maybe have to move"

Could you please direct me to that reference? And if you cannot find any such remark - I don't believe you can - would you please stop disparaging other communities in your effort to promote your own?

Your tone, Sahila, is really nasty. I understand that you are angry and upset about the proposed closure of AS#1 and the consequences it may have for your child, your family and your community. But that does not give you license to spew your vitriol on other communities who have done you no harm. Is this behavior representative of the AS#1 community and what children learn there? Is this the best face that you can put on your school?

You apparently believe that people outside your community have some moral obligation to champion your cause. They do not. They have their own causes to work for. You accuse folks of not standing in solidarity with AS#1, but I don't see a spirit of solidarity in your comments.

Your words are not inspiring people to stand with you. Did you imagine that they would? What is your real purpose?

I'm done tolerating your negativity and groundless accusations. Stop it now.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I support the closing of AAA and, in fact, brought it up at the last round of closures and promptly got my hand slapped by committee members for even suggesting it (they were afraid of the backlash by community). It was an experiment that did not work and the program never filled the beautiful building the program is in. It falls to someone else to defend it.

AS#1 is our oldest alternative program. I have mixed feeling on this program because I recall when committee members toured the building, they asked about how to gauge the academic success of AS#1 (trying to get beyond WASL scores) and received no satisfactory answers. There has to be some measure of how to see academic performance. I myself do not believe the WASL is a good testing instrument so I would have been glad for some other measure. None was given.

Also, I doubt that the district has any designs on the Pinehurst building and, unless desperate for capacity, will likely mothball it.

That said, using AS#1 NCLB status at Level 4 (versus other schools' Level 5 status) is unfair as is pointing out its first choice numbers without using that data point for all schools being considered.

Sahila said...

Charlie -

"APP students who need to be seen as a special needs group, who wont fit in at certain gen ed schools, look what a disaster it was last time they were co-located, who will be made to feel nerdy and weird by the other kids, who need to stay together as a cohort or their needs wont be met..."

All of those comments indicating what a difficult time APP students will have integrating into other school communities, and more, have been made in the arguments not to split up or move APP... Go look at the Lowell/APP thread, and on the capacity management thread you started, and on Harium's blog...

So please, spare me the lecture ...
I'm not spouting vitriol - I'm asserting (strongly) the need for balance and equity because from where we are sitting, we dont see it...

Do you think the Summit families see balance and equity? We'll just take your building, give it to another school, ship all 600 of you 13 miles south to a school that has major problems .... you wont go? No problem, we'll just dissolve your programme and your community...

And this to save a paltry $3.5M, less than 10% of the projected deficit?

This is crazy...

Charlie Mas said...

Sahila, since you have provided your email, I'm going to take this discussion offline.

The people with the privileges to moderate this blog have used it before and we will use it again if we have to.