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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Live Q&A with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson at Seattle Times Today, 11-Noon

Here's a link to the question submission area at the Seattle Times if you want to ask Dr. Goodloe-Johnson a question today from 11-noon.

34 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, Beth - you already posted this but I didn't read ahead first.

Charlie Mas said...

Hey, is it my connection or is there still nothing here at 11:10?

Charlie Mas said...

Now it is 20 minutes after the hour. Here's my question: Are you there? Is this thing on?

Will the Q&A run until 12:20 so we get a full hour?

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's live now but I don't see my question which I submitted around 9:15 am. There's only 5 so far. Hmmm.

Megan Mc said...

Its 11:40 and there are still only 5 questions. I submitted a very brief on in the hopes that it would get used.

seattle citizen said...

I submitted one at 11:40. Nuthin'

I did note that the question wouldn't post right away; They're being "moderated"

Not that the Times would cherry-pick, heaven's no!

Ben said...

Happy to see that Lowell still has its reputation as a bunch of entitled elitists:

"It seems like the more affluent schools are able to negotiate their way out of change: Thornton Creek, Montlake, Arbor Heights, and APP at Lowell, to name a few."

Indeed, except that a huge change is being forced upon Lowell, a change almost no parents of Lowell children welcome. I wish we could have negotiated our way out of the split.

Robert said...

"The objective in splitting APP is to provide equity and access to all students. While students must test into APP, we have students who qualify who don't attend, and we want to make sure that all of our students have access to this high quality program."


For how many "new" students are they disrupting the lives of 500 Lowell families? And does it account for a net gain if you consider attrition?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I asked her this:

f the district is so poor, how come they are having one capital project, New School, on an accelerated schedule (10-hour days, 6 days a week which means time and a half for Saturdays for the workers)? How do they have the money for that? Additionally, they will need capital funds for some of the schools that will be receiving new populations of kids from closed schools. How come capital funds are being used to hire not one but two people at a cost of $500,000 over 3 years when there is an alleged hiring freeze?

Here's her answer:

"Our current budget shortfall has occurred in the general fund. The New School project is a capital project, so the dollars come from two different funds. Capital funds cannot be used for operational costs such hiring teachers and purchasing instructional materials. We have accelerated the New School project in order to save funds. We expect that, even after weather delays, we will save over $1 million in capital funds. The acceleration was achieved in part because the contractor hired, at their own expense, a subcontractor to build the foundation so that the steel could be erected as soon as possible. This project is scheduled to be completed on time so that students can start school in the new building this fall."

She COMPLETELY ignored the issue of needing capital funds to help with projects at receiving schools. She ignored the issue of a so-called hiring freeze that I brought up. I will look into the issue of the subcontractor hired at the contractor's expense; the project manager said no such thing to me when I spoke to him and I think he would have.

Danny K said...

"While students must test into APP, we have students who qualify who don't attend, and we want to make sure that all of our students have access to this high quality program."

What does this have to do with splitting APP? I'm willing to believe it does, but nobody's explained it yet.

I'm not being sarcastic here, I get the feeling something's being said in coded language and I can't decode it. Is the idea that people of color will be more willing to attend Thurgood Marshall than Lowell?

timeslid said...

"While students must test into APP, we have students who qualify who don't attend, and we want to make sure that all of our students have access to this high quality program."

The response is also beyond my scope of reasoning and this troubles me because Dr. Vaughn said that "Your children are brilliant, and you probably are pretty darn smart as well." at the APP meeting at WMS on Monday Dec. 15th.

But seriously, the answer to the question is the most important answer in the whole APP saga. Without a sensical response there will be no buy in. One doesn't rush headlong into the fray unless one is a true believer. At this point within the APP community, there are few to none.

seattle citizen said...

I guess I signed on too late. It's not really a "live" Q and A; merely those who post in the morning sometime and then responses written at the appointed hour...
ach.
alas.
woe is me.

Robert said...

Yeah all the questions that were answered were from before the start time... Why does that surprise me?!?!? I submitted a question before the end and no answer. Oh well... What was that I studied about learned helplessness?

Ben said...

DannyK said: "What does this have to do with splitting APP? I'm willing to believe it does, but nobody's explained it yet.

I'm not being sarcastic here, I get the feeling something's being said in coded language and I can't decode it. Is the idea that people of color will be more willing to attend Thurgood Marshall than Lowell?"

That is one answer, yes. We are told now and again about families who don't even bother testing because they won't go to (too-white) Lowell. How many such families are there? I have no idea. (Does anyone?)

Of course, at least for the near future, APP-at-Marshall will look essentially like APP-at-Lowell.

And finally: many of us are skeptical that diversity and access are really what have driven the "need" to split APP.

squeagle said...

timeslid (and others): I'd love to see speakers at a public meeting—maybe the one at Lowell on the 20th—ask that question over and over again (phrased identically, word for word) until we either get a satisfactory, honest answer, or one of our policy-makers admits that they refuse to answer. This is getting ridiculous.

Free said...

Charlie, I'm very keen to know what you think of the superintendent's answer to my question, as you have affirmed that the split will not increase access. Is she hiding the ball?

CCM said...

It's interesting to note that the district is very concerned about the kids that test into APP but don't attend - yet they haven't mentioned the lack of attendance in the south-end Spectrum programs.

Those programs should arguably be much larger than APP will ever be, based on the larger percentage of kids that Spectrum is designed to serve.

They are disrupting APP for a very small percentage (potential) gain.

We have African American friends that decided not to send their son to APP at Lowell simply because of the feed to WMS, because they felt that it would be difficult for him to bridge two different social groups. He now attends Lakeside.

No one has addressed this point, and now the elementary program at both sites will have this same issue.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ben, I think that it's being split because the district is just unable to convince minority parents that it is something of worth to their children. Not that these parents don't want good opportunities for their children but when your own school badmouths the program or doesn't have the forms available or tells you that your child will be the only minority child, well, then you stay away.

I think the district is using this opportunity to put APP in the south end and hope that parents with kids within the school as well as parents in the region will learn about it and be interested in testing their kids. I think it's the district's way of trying to get more diversity in the program.

That would be okay except that they haven't done everything they could to make sure the program reaches all groups (namely, tell the principals that they HAVE to announce it, ask the PTA to put it in the parent newsletter and have forms available in the office).

Simply put, I think that moving half of APP is not really about equity and access because we all know that parents throughout the district can sign up for free testing and would receive free transportation to be in APP. I think it is about physically moving part of APP to be in a section of town where there may not be as much awareness of it. That may help or not. I think splitting and moving half also helps shore up a school that may not be doing well and needs a stronger parent base (the district staff alluded to this in the preliminary reqs almost as if the Lowell parents were a movable feast).

What do the Lowell parents/students get in return? Well, a better building I would guess and more interaction with regular ed kids. Is that worth all the upheaval given that half of Lowell is staying put in their building? I don't know.

Ben said...

Will APP kids at Marshall have lots of interaction with gen ed kids? I have no idea.

If the real problem were that many/some/enough nonwhite families don't know about APP, aren't there less drastic steps that could be taken to make them aware?

APP-at-Marshall won't start out much less white or more African American than APP-at-Lowell is now. And if Marshall starts looking like a better school (simply by cohousing with APP) then more families of all kinds will want to get in. And if Marshall comes to reflect the demographics of the reference area, it will become far more white.

I think this is just about splitting APP because the idea of a single APP school—all those entitled, elitist children!—just rankles them.

And using the APP parents as a source of revenue for the school is not so lovely.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And the odd thing is - maybe someone mentioned this before along the line and I missed it - but Lowell's overall building score (1-5, 5 being the best - this from the Meng analysis), is 3.3 for a building built in 1919 and Marshall's is 2.5 for a building built in 1991. So are Lowell kids getting a better building?

Maybe or maybe not.

hschinske said...

"That is one answer, yes. We are told now and again about families who don't even bother testing because they won't go to (too-white) Lowell. How many such families are there? I have no idea. (Does anyone?)"

Didn't someone post recently that the acceptance rate was now up to 70% (I think this was for African American families, or else for all underrepresented populations -- not the general acceptance rate), and that represented a big jump? I can't remember the details. Of course that doesn't include those who won't even get their kids tested -- no one knows how many of those there are -- but it does represent a change in the attitude of those who do test their kids, do go on tours, etc.

Incidentally, I have talked to more than one white family who had crossed Lowell off the list for having too little diversity. But Lowell is hardly alone in that: I know people reject Whittier for the same reason (it's a lot less diverse than Lowell, or used to be), and probably other schools.

Central Cluster Mom is completely correct about Spectrum, by the way.

Helen Schinske

jason said...

I am also extremely frustrated at the APP situation. The Super's answer today as to why they are splitting APP is really disappointing. So, we are disrupting the entire APP program of 500 kids at Lowell because an unspecified number of people who chose not to come didn't come? Huh? I keep hearing the number 200 as the number of families who chose not to come. So, there is no APP in the north, so we know the district is not concerned about those families not coming. Out of that 200 number, what is the number of southern families who are deciding our fate? Does anyone know where to find these numbers and the break out of where the families are?

As another poster mentioned, the district is also not taking into account the number of families who chose not to come based on reasons unrelated to diversity. I led tours at Lowell last year and heard stories about families not wanting to leave their neighborhood (lots of people are concerned about there being an earthquake or something and not being able to get to their kids), the condition of Lowell itself, kids being too old already to leave their friends, etc. These reasons will continue to be the same no matter how many buildings APP is in.

Robert said...

Here is an email I sent earlier today. I might add that Dr. Vaughn has been very responsive to many inquires so I would be surprised if this one is lost for a while in the mother of all inboxes...


From: Robert N.
Sent: Thu 1/8/2009 3:06 PM
To: stbower@comcast.net; rcvaughan@seattleschools.org
Cc: jabreidenbach@seattleschools.org
Subject: Lowell Split...



Dr. Vaughn,

Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson blogged something today that really confused me as the reason to split Lowell. "The objective in splitting APP is to provide equity and access to all students. While students must test into APP, we have students who qualify who don't attend, and we want to make sure that all of our students have access to this high quality program."

How many students are we talking about for the disruption of the lives of 500 Lowell families? I mean in real numbers could you please tell me how many students qualified and yet did not enroll. And did you get a sense as to why? I ask this because we struggled with the decision to move our daughter over from a solid elementary school and feel it was a great decision... Until now. More important though, is that if this is the reason, I doubt the gains will offset the attrition. I should add that I am very skeptical of the decision to split the schools as I feel it will be a dilution of the overall program. Highly gifted student's issues seem small contrasted by half the general education school body not passing the WASL.


Thanks... Robert

dj said...

I thought I recalled that the students who don't come to Lowell tend to be split fairly evenly between students in the far north and far south ends of the city.

Thurgood Marshall isn't that far south (still in the central cluster, obviously, and a four-minute drive from my house in Madrona). I'm not persuaded that the geographic move will make much difference.

In terms of diversity, as I posted in another thread, I was in an APP-type program growing up that was cohoused, and we had no interaction with the non-APP-type students. We were in the same lunchroom and on the same playground, but you hang out with the kids who you know from class.

If the TM students do end up with a lot of sibs accompanying them down to the new site in the general-education program, I imagine APP is going to change the diversity of TM, rather than vice-versa.

But, finally, I agree with other posters that it is frustrating that this massive change (without accompanying detailed planning) is being foisted upon a functional school, and that 250 kids or so area being relocated, based on speculation that we don't have data to support (i.e., parents who will not currently use Lowell will use TM).

Robert said...

Oh yeah and how about doing what private schools do once you are accepted... Invite new families to a picnic before the assignments are set... And add information about the Diversity Committee for new parents to contact with questions and concerns.

Robert said...

So does any know if they will bus siblings down as well to TM... I might actually consider that as a father of a Lowell student and a 09-10 kindergartner. Oh and would my second daughter have sibling preference?

Ben said...

dj said: "If the TM students do end up with a lot of sibs accompanying them down to the new site in the general-education program, I imagine APP is going to change the diversity of TM, rather than vice-versa."

And remember that APP is projected to account for 10 out of 18 classrooms at Marshall.

Although, now that I type that, I'm not sure how it's relevant. I leave that to greater minds!

Kirsten Wild said...

200 students is being tossed around as a number of students who test in but choose not to attent the Lowell APP program. If that's a real number, is it from the whole District, or just the clusters that would be part of the TM split? Anyone know what the minority breakdown of that number is? Does the District have any clue what the minority percentage is?
The district is not disrupting 500 students for the sake of 200, they're disrupting 500 students (not to mention TM and TT Minor students) for some unknown percentage of "maybe" 200 students. It would be funny if it weren't so depressingly real.

Charlie Mas said...

I think that there is a valid reason for the middle school APP split. The District is right-sizing the middle school capacity in the Central Region and there isn't room for 225 students from outside the area. So the split isn't due to something in APP and isn't intended to improve APP, but I don't think it will do APP students or the program any harm. In fact, I think there are folks in the north-end who will enroll their child at Hamilton APP who would not enroll their child at Washington APP. So I see it as a positive for the District, for the students, and for the program.

Near as I can tell, the driving reason - the only legitimate reason I can find - for splitting elementary APP is to allow the Special Education students at Lowell to remain at Lowell. That's it. There is no other benefit to be realized.

The program is no more accessible to north-end families - at all.

The program is only marginally more accessible to south-end families - if at all. The bus ride to Thurgood Marshall will not be notably shorter than the bus ride to Lowell - except that it won't stop at TOPS anymore (increasing - not reducing - transportation costs for the District).

The program won't have any more room to grow at Lowell or Thurgood Marshall than it now has at Lowell - except that when it grows it will squeeze out neighborhood students - as it has been accused of doing at Washington and Garfield.

I do think that it is good for APP students to spend more time with typically developing peers, but I'm not sure how much interaction they will have with kids who aren't in their classes. I don't see much opportunity for benefit there. It's no different than any other school - how much do kids at Thurgood Marshall or T T Minor now interact with students in other classes?

There's really just no upside to the elementary split so long as the north-end program is in the Central Cluster and so long as the program has no room to grow without pushing a neighborhood kid out of the building - a political third rail.

None of the explanations from the District make any sense at all.

That said, the split is coming. I think the key now is to work for a commitment to find a north-end location for the north-end program with the new student assignment plan. It makes no sense at all for the north-end program to be on Capitol Hill. I wouldn't be surprised to see it at B.F. Day or, if AS#1 can't justify themselves to the District's satisfaction, Pinehurst.

I think the community needs to work very hard and very seriously to get the north-end program in the north-end. Make them comply with Policy D12.00 and Policy C56.00. Make a Program Placement Proposal NOW. Get the Board to acknowledge the need and direct the Superintendent to find a north-end location.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Robert, the sibling preference works no matter where your child is in the district except for Lowell (currently). That is one thing with this split; sibs who aren't in APP can now join their older sibs at either Lowell (with the new regular ed TT Minor students) or Marshall (with the Marshall regular ed students) depending on where the older sib is. Transportation should be provided.

Someone help me out if I'm wrong.

lendlees said...

Melissa--you are correct about sibling preference. I specifically asked Tracy Libros about this at one of the community meetings and she said the choice model holds true for APP.
So, Robert, your kindergartner will get preference to join her sister.

another mom said...

"The program won't have any more room to grow at Lowell or Thurgood Marshall than it now has at Lowell - except that when it grows it will squeeze out neighborhood students - as it has been accused of doing at Washington and Garfield."

This was among the primary reasons the APP was moved from Madrona. And isn't it time that the folks in charge spell out what they mean by the growth of APP? Just how much is it expected to grow? I doubt that APP has squeezed anyone out of GHS. WMS is different. APP does limit how many neighborhood & Spectrum "seats" are available. It makes some sense to move 1/2 to Hamilton.(Although I question the wisdom of taking Meany off line as a middle school.) There will be an impact on WMS music,but music should not be the driving reason to keep APP intact at WMS.

In terms of the numbers of families that do not choose APP if their child is qualified, check with the AL office. They probably have the data. The 200 number that is mentioned, may be the current number district wide across grade levels (1-8)currently eligible, but not in APP. It would be interesting to see this data over the past 5-10 years. And for direct comparisons, it would be interesting to know how many students that are eligible for Spectrum do not choose it. Have the percentages that choose APP gone up or down or remained about the same? I would ask the same question about Spectrum.

Robert said...

Thanks for all your kind suggestions!

another mom said...

You may have already done this but,it is also important for parents of APP students to read the 2007 Review of the program. There is a link to it on the district's website, Advanced Learning main page. The reviewers do recommend the kind of split proposed,but with cautions and advice of how to make it successful. What I see is the split being the recommendation implemented without the key pieces to make it successful.

I cannot figure out how to provide the direct link to the review so the url is below.
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/index.dxml