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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

From the Seattle Council PTSA: Info on Design Teams

I received this information from Sharon Rodgers, president of the Seattle Council PTSA. I'm going to condense it somewhat. Here are the links to the design team documents (document 1
and document 2). Document 2 (template) is labeled "draft". I have not combed through these myself. Just looking at the team membership on document 1, I see only 1 parent/community member listed whereas in the other document, I see it says 3-5 reps. A bit confusing.

Just so you know how hard the people at the Seattle Council work:

"Over the course of the last two weeks, your Seattle Council PTSA Board met with all seven school board directors and Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson and Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorno to share the concerns we continued to hear from families about the impact of the proposed closures/moves on their students, especially those already in fragile situations."

Details on transitions:

"Our first goal is to make sure that School Design Teams have authentic family participation from the communities involved. We will be offering support to each family and/or community leaders chosen to make sure they are fully prepared to participate as an equal team member with staff on the committee. We are would like your assistance in gathering information for family/community representatives to assist them in their work, including a glossary and list of “building basics” for reps who may not have the same knowledge base. We would also like to offer periodic get-togethers of parent/community representatives from all the design teams to exchange experiences and ideas. Please send ideas to "mailto:schooldesign@seattlecouncilptsa.org"

We are working in conjunction with Bernardo Ruiz, SPS Coordinator of Family and Community Engagement. UPDATE: Current School Design Team Plans call for 3-5 Family and Community Reps on each Team, with the first two meetings scheduled for Tues. Feb 10 3:30-6:30 and Thus. Feb. 12 3:30-6:30 all at the JSCEE. We have posted the draft documents regarding the teams at http://www.seattlecouncilptsa.org/"

Secondly, we know that all parents/guardians need good information in order to make decisions about school assignment requests for their student next year, especially those from discontinued programs. We would like to work with other community organizations to offer workshops and/or additional information on Middle and High School options during the open enrollment period starting in March. Finally, our long-term mission is to help ensure that family support structures rebuild around students in their new locations. We have some funds available for this and would like your input on the best way to support students and families. We are putting together a committee to determine the best way to support new configurations. Please let us know if you or someone you know is interested.

Please note that we have rescheduled our SCPTSA General Meeting from February 5 to February 23. We will be focusing on ways to support the redefinition of Basic Education at the state level (the current definition is woefully inadequate) but will also schedule time to work on the above issues."

Thank you to the Seattle Council PTSA for these updates.

45 comments:

Sahila said...

How much parental involvement are they going to get with the meetings scheduled to start (in the city) at 3.30pm on a weekday...

Great times (normal working day) for District staff, but the timing/location rules out most working parents, especially from low income and single parent families - the minority groups most affected by these changes....

I would like to think this is an example of thoughtlessness and lack of awareness of the obstacles many people face in participation, something we at AS#1 deal with daily.... but....no presence from already under-represented parents means the District/principals can pretty much do what they please...

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sahila, you're right of course. It does make it difficult.

I think the problem is that doing it later would involve paying staff more and I think the district wants to avoid that at all costs (sorry for the pun). Eleven design teams with majority staff runs into a lot of dollars. Also, it was stated in one district document that these duties would be done along with regular duties for staff hence doing it during the regular workday.

Sahila said...

I get the costing issues, Melissa, but it sure shows up the hollowness of the promise to include parents/the community in this process...

Another issue of accountability - promising something but then not delivering..at least not in a package that is useful to the primary consumers/affected populations...

I dont know why they bother with the charade at all really....

Would be much healthier and honest if they just said up front that there is no intention of having community involvement...

Ben said...

Design teams led by the same people who will decide what proposals to implement, and supported by parents who have no time to participate.

Wonderful.

ParentofThree said...

The staff could work a different shift on those days so meetings could be held later. And meetings should be held in the communities, not downtown.

The Seattle Council of PTSA needs to take this up with the district and quickly.

Jeanne said...

As I understand it, these announced meetings times at JSSS at 3:30 are for the design teams only. Each design team will only have 3-5 parents/community members at the maximum. The rationale for meeting in a central location is that some of these design teams (say the four teams for the four APP schools) will have overlap in their composition (Bob Vaughn, for example, is on four design teams simultaneously) and if they meet at the same time and place (as opposed to in the communities), they won't have to discuss some of the same things four different times.

I recognize that not everyone who might want to be a parent on a design team will be able to meet at this time/place, but it seems like the design team is going to require a serious time commitment no matter where or when the meetings are held. So I'm not entirely sure I see the problem here.

What does concern me is that there are so many parents who probably want to contribute and be heard who will not be on the design team. How will the District ensure that we all have a voice in this process and that we can volunteer our time to help in these transitions without actually being on a design team?

Sahila said...

I read Jeanne's response/rationale as the District giving all the logistical consideration to its own staff and none to parents...

If its a problem for the District to determine how to allocate their staff to this process, then its up to the District to figure that out, rather than expecting parents (even if there's only 3-5 on each team) to adjust to the District's convenience...

And if the District has to pay extra money to its staff to do this in a manner that properly enables community involvement, well then it should pay that money... another example of the District not accounting for the actual costs of this closure process and expecting that the 'goodwill' of its staff and parents will pickup/cover the deficiency...

Such arrogance - we're going to close your school/programme and shuffle your kids around, and we want your input to make that work, but we're going to make it difficult for you to get into that 'consultative' process and if you do rearrange your (income producing) life to make that happen, then you have to write that cost to you off as a donation, as community service...

Bah humbug!

Charlie Mas said...

It is no further for the families to come than it is for the teachers and principals. They are coming from the school's neighborhood as well.

Or, viewed another way, the downtown location is just as inconvenient for the teachers and principals as it is for the families and really only suits the central office staff.

Either way, the trip to SoDo isn't all that tragic. If you're going to volunteer it's going to be an inconvenience in some way.

As for Bob Vaughan, I think he may also be on the design team for Jane Addams K-8 if it's supposed to have Spectrum or an ALO.

Sahila said...

teachers and principals can be out the door of school at whatever time for this meeting - thats what subs are for...

what are parents going to do for subs either at work or at home, from say 2.30pm onwards, including travel time maybe?

TechyMom said...

The school culture and curriculum sections need a lot more detailed questions. Here are some I've asked on tours. I would hope that if I were to tour, say, Lowell at the end of March, or T. Marshall or Leschi (both have their only tours next week, at the same time!) that they would be able to answer these:

1) Are there any world language classes? are they during the day or after school?
2) How are art, music, and technology integrated into the curriculum?
3) What is the class size in K? In 4th grade? Is it reduced with additional part-time teachers for any subjects?
4) How is acceleration handled? Is there an ALO? Mixed age reading groups? What about remediation?
5) Is there a bullying prevention program? What about 2nd Step?
6) How is math taught? What do your teachers do to supplement EDM? Can I expect my 3rd grader to know her times tables? Do the students use calculators in class?
7) What do you do in science? Is there science in every grade?
8) Is there a garden? Is it used as part of the science curriculum? If so, how?
9) What classes are available after school, and how much do they cost?
10) Is there full-day K? Half-day? What is the cost for full-day?
11) What makes this school special?
12) Do the students wear uniforms? Why or why not?
13) How do you push children to try their best, especially for kids who can 'pass' without really trying?
14) Is there before/after school care? What's it like? Is there summer camp?
15) Is there recess?
16) What do you do in PE? How do you ensure that even kids who don't like team sports get some exercise and enjoy the experience?
17) How do you handle class disruption and discipline problems?
18) What's your PTA like? How can parents get involved and help the school?

Jeanne said...

TechyMom,

I think that the tour dates may still be in flux at the effected schools. At least for the current elementary APP parents, we've been told that they are working on setting something up for us to visit Marshall. I would hope that they are working on something for prospective parents as well.

Josh Hayes said...

Yeah, I'm really looking forward to those tours at the K-8 at Addams! You'll just have to ignore all the glum, shell-shocked Summit people in the building.

Yeesh.

Every day it seems like I hear some new thing from SPS and I think, "they can't be serious," and then I realize, they just don't know any better. Maybe if we all just clap our hands, the schools will all be sorted out and Tinkerbell will come back to life.

Yeah, well... I might believe the Tinkerbell part.

anonymous said...

It is true that some families will not be able to be part of the design team if it meets during working hours. But, many families can and will. Some families, especially low income families work two or three jobs, at all hours of the day, so there may be no convenient time for them to meet. What to do about that? My middle class family played the tag team approach to working for many years. When my husband came home from his day job, I went to work at an evening job? We couldn't make meetings at any time of the day through those years.

There will be no schedule that works for everyone. Sacrifices and compromises will have to be made on parents, teachers, principals and staff's part.

And lets not forget that teachers and staff have families and commitments too. They work all day, and may not be able to leave their families to come to yet another evening meeting. Besides the district closure meetings, teachers and staff go to evening PTSA meetings, site council meetings, school open house evening, talent night, the school play, etc, etc, etc.

So, yes, we can agree that a day time meeting will be inconvenient for some families but lets move on. Lets get to work rebuilding what's left and stop sweating the small stuff.

Jet City mom said...

when I was at Summit K-12 we offered child care for parents to facilitate participation at meetings.
We even often offered dinner- either potluck or pizza for families that didn't have time to stop at home.

Child care could easily be offered and high school students could earn community service time for helping out. If the district can only cut back $4 million out of the $11million or so overstaffing from the outside audit- I think they can find $40 to buy some pizzas for children, so their parents can participate in their education community.

(child care really isn't that costly- I know some parents do, do the tag team approach in order to skimp on paying for professional child care, but the benefits outweigh the financial costs)

seattle citizen said...

I've heard that at some schools, if an educator wants pizza for kids for some event they should use the district staff to prepare pizza, the food-service people. Maybe they can get pizza for these things from the district's own employees and thereby save some cafeteria worker's hours (they are proposing cutting cafeteria workers, custodial and security, in addition to educators and admins downtown...)

Sahila said...

I beg to differ with adhoc - this question of making it possible for stakeholders to actually participate in the process is not small stuff...

I'm a 50 year old single parent with no networks here, just starting a part-time job that neverthless will still keep me officially in poverty...I dont have money for a babysitter or for after school care (which is not available at AS#1 right now), and if my school had a design team assigned to it, there is no way I could make any meetings in the city at 3.30pm on a weekday... and, pardon me for my arrogance, I think I would have something to offer and I think I would have a vested interest in being involved in a design team...

There are no more sacrifices I can make - I'm making them already to be involved in my son's school to the extent I am, where, by the way, we have evening meetings and offer food and childcare...

I'm only one of thousands of SPS families in very similar circumstances and most of the schools affected are heavily weighted with such families.

The District needs to do more to enable inclusion and participation...

seattle citizen said...

Ad Hoc, I agree with Sahila.
It is a huge supposition to assume that low income parents might be working late, so can't make any meeting.

Many, many families have two wage-earners.

ONLY families with one wage earner (or the somewhat rare second parent working a swing or grave-yard) could supply members for these teams.

One-parent families are outta luck.

I believe (no facts to back it up, but my uncommon common sense) that this meeting time will result in parents/guardians that mainly represent those with higher paying jobs, or those with jobs that afford them the opportunity to take off early some days for such purposes.

TechyMom said...

I can't make those times either, but I'm sure that there will be parents who can, and who will do a good job with enough guidance. Honestly, I'm far more concerned about the guidance these teams are given about what they need to design than about which parents show up for the meetings. I would find it very helpful if there were a way for parents and other community members to provide input and ask questions.

What questions would need to be answered before you'd sign your kid up at one of these schools? What answers would you like to hear for those questions? Which are the most important to you? These are the things the design team needs to know from parents, lots of parents, not just the 2 or 3 who happen to show up at the design team meetings.

Beth Bakeman said...

Separate from the timing and location issues, parents do not self-identify for the teams. Parents will be asked by the team leader (principal) to join the team.

This is fine with me for my school, since I trust the principal and the parents he chooses to solicit input from the rest of the community.

But I hope all the design teams will have a requirement to solicit input from everyone in the school community so that it doesn't have to depend upon who the principal is and how s/he chooses to run the process.

anonymous said...

Sahila, as a single parent, without a network, and no money for child care, how would you make an evening meeting?

Sahila said...

I would make a meeting held in my community where childcare and food are provided, as AS#1 does for most of its meetings... as do other schools who have diverse (read non-white, non-middle class) populations...

And before I get accused of being bigoted (reverse discrimination), I come from a white, blue collar working class family, educated/worked my top 4% IQ self into the upper middle-class with all of the financial and social resources that place provides, and now, through a combination of circumstances and choices, find myself living day to day with the threat of eviction or utilities cut-off uncomfortably close and responsible for the care, wellbeing and education of another .... and thats OK - its an experience I am living and the tide is turning again...

But I am really tired of people making assumptions about how the other half live... you should try it sometime, adhoc... its a real eye-opener... and maybe then you wont be so quick to brush off issues such as accessibility

Maureen said...

I find this whole discussion confusing. If people are willing to represent their school on a Design Team, then SOMEONE at their school should be willing to watch their kids for them during that time--child care shouldn't be an issue. Day vs. night timing may be (and we haven't touched on transportation or translators), but I don't know why Sahila (and others) assume that evening is necessarily better for everyone.

TechyMom said...

Sahila,
There are probably people reading this who will be on the design teams. If there isn't a good way provided for parents to give their input, let's make one right here.

What input would you give, if you could go? What questions do you want answered? What are the must-haves and nice-to-haves for the school or schools you want to help design? What makes those things important to you?

anonymous said...

I find it hilarious that Sahila thinks the design team meetings can only "properly enable the community" if they are held in the evenings, in her community, with food and child care provided.

Sahila, as usual, won't even consider that other people may have different needs than she does. She gives no consideration whatsoever to the other people that will be involved with these design teams and assumes that what works for her must indeed work for everyone esle. She won't consider staff, teachers or the principal's needs. She won't consider the needs of larger groups like PTSA who may be involved (even though they consist of parents just like her). She won't consider the needs of other parents who may actually want daytime meetings while their kids are in school so they WONT HAVE TO FIND AND PAY FOR CHILDCARE. She won't consider that some people may want after school meetings such as the one that has just been scheduled so they can take their kids with them and not have to find and pay for child care. She doesn't consider that some parents actually like daytime meetings while their kids are in school so they don't have to take time away from their families at night. No, Sahila will consider nothing but her own interests and what she deems works best. She claims she is such a free thinking, progressive, open minded person, yet she has this my way or the highway self serving attitude.

TechyMom said...

Can we please stop talking about meeting logistics, and start talking about school design? I'd really like to hear what everyone things the design teams should decide.

beansa said...

adhoc, could you possibly be more condescending? Talking about other people in the 3rd person like that is beyond obnoxious. We all know that you don't like Sahila.

Not to mention that you're picking her apart and calling her inconsiderate for answering your direct question about how she would be able to make an evening meeting. Obviously no meeting time is going to be perfect for everyone - but you asked how she would make the meeting and she gave you the conditions that would enable her participation.

Megan Mc said...

Yes, lets stop the personal attacks please.

If principals are supposed to be leading the meetings, I don't see why they couldn't set the time and place based on the needs of their unique community.

Sahila's point that under-represented families could be left out of the process is a valid one. It is a small example of the way people are marginalized from decision making and access to people in power.

Megan Mc said...

One more point. Sahila isn't acting out of her self interest since AS#1 isn't getting a design team. Our restructuring process is separate.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, stop personal attacks, please.

1) is there a needs for a diverse design team, or should best practice and research do the speaking (will DTs use parent/guardian perspectives, or ask p/gs to help research best practice? This matters. If it's research, the the diversity of the team is not a factor: they will discuss based on practice. If it's not based on practice, then it's based on what that particular p/g sees as good, or even what they WANT for their kid. That's not so good...

So a diverse representation (not every constituency, of course) could help alleviate discussions being "directed" by one particular group (and also help the greater community understand that the process represents them, or tries to.

Here's a hypothetical: APP at Hamilton DT: If it's only APP parents, can the non-APP stakeholders feel that they are represented? Can their ideas be heard?

Listening to APP parents on the blogs, I think that we can be assured they will act in EVERYONE'S best interest. But they are parents, too, and I've found that the first order of business for parents, unconsciously even, is to advocate for their child. Would we assume otherwise?

So unless the DTs are highly focused on research and best practice, I recommend as diverse a p/g representation as possible, so all voices are heard and so the rest of the city buys-in on representation.

(word verifier must be a caveman: It's telling me that it's got a skin condition - "Ogrash")

seattle citizen said...

Design Teams should:
1) be provided with a wide variety of research on what has worked nationwide.

2) identify as many as possible of the various aspects of their populations (ses, race, ethnicity, gender ID, culture...And research best practice when working with these various peoples.

3) identify style: State and District provide EALRs and GLEs. These tell the school what the educational goals are (and the district has staff evaluating common goals, to varying degrees of commonality among schools; DTs should be aware of this so they know future desire of District in terms of outcomes academically

4) Consider the above, AND the other, less tangible outcomes such as citizenship. Come up with a metric of outcomes, inclusive of all.

5) use the metric to design school-wide assessment methodoligies that dovetail with district-wide assessment initiatives. In my opinion, common assessments in some forms allow for a more efficient district, and certainly in a building some sort of common assessment is helpful so all educators understand HOW it is they're talking about something.

6) factor in PD (pro-development), ongoing, for data teams: new district initiative to get staff working together to analyze data from classrooms. This allows staff to work together, learn together, and climb out of their silos.

7) be intentional about combining all aspects of curriculum, instruction and assessment into a common framework: not every little lesson, but the larger strategies, so their is building-wide understanding among students and staff about some common ways to learn (strats) and assessments.

8) hot tub for the educators

9)coordinated outreach and permanent office for community involvement: grants, business, arts, social services...anyone and everyone is invited in (State patrol check allowing, of course) and asked to help, and this help is highly organized and targeted to those that need it.

10) free coffee in the Faculty Lounge

11) work with a VARIETY of downtown people; network with them to be sure DT understands what district wants, get these communications in writing (use email) and the variety of contacts downtown will, because there are a variety of perspectives downtown, open up parameters as there will be wiggle room in various staffer's ideas.

12) argue strongly downtown for earned automony up front: Plan eveyrthing so it crosses t's and dots i's, meets district's expectations and GOES beyond in forward thinking. Be creative, but in the context of the needs/wants of the bureacracy. This will free you up to go new directions

dj said...

Seattle Citizen, I do not know about the design teams at the two to-be-part-APP middle schools, but the Thurgood Marshall and Lowell design teams each will include three parents, and those three parents are one each of special education, APP, and general education parents.

seattle citizen said...

Sounds good, DJ. A "rep" from each program. Were they selected by principal, or self-select?

Did they gt any kind of direction yet, like a packet, a timeline etc?

Anonymous said...

A Letter has gone out electronically to Lowell parents. Julie Breidenbach will be the principal at Lowell and the TT Minor principal Greg King, will take over at Lowell.

APP liason on the design team for TM is Ian Storey, parent of a 4th grader and middle school APP student (perhaps high school, I'm not sure). Joyce Isreal will be the special ed liason at Lowell, and Geeta Teredesai the APP liason at Lowell. I don't know who their kids are.

Ms. Cook-Weaver will be in the central office next year.

TechyMom said...

"Julie Breidenbach will be the principal at Lowell and the TT Minor principal Greg King, will take over at Lowell. "

Which will be at Lowell and which at TM? Is Julie Breidenbach the current principal at Lowell?

jason said...

Julie B is the current principal at Lowell. Greg King, the current TT Minor principal who is moving to Lowell, also has a child in the APP program at Lowell.

Anonymous said...

Wow, did I mistype! Sorry! Jason already cleared it up, though.

Anonymous said...

And yet, I STILL wasn't clear. Ms. Breidenbach will move to Thurgood Marshall.

TechyMom said...

Thanks.
From what I've heard about recent efforts to improve Minor (Rainier Scholars, Spectrum training for teachers, trying to build a natural diversity with the Montessori program), I think he might be a good fit. The fact that he has a kid in APP is also interesting.

Wow, he must have had a crazy couple of months, with his kid in the middle of the APP changes, the school he's worked to build being closed, and his job on the line.

I'm feeling pretty good about the gen ed programs at both schools. I hope we'll know enough about what they'll look like before the end of open enrollment.

north seattle mom said...

Has anyone heard about any of the other design teams beside APP? Has the principal for Jane Addams also been announced somewhere?

S Sterne said...

Any word on Hamilton and Washington Principal and Design Teams?

Jeanne said...

I just noticed that there is a new FAQ up on the SPS website about there design teams. You can find it here:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/faq_design_teams.pdf

Jet City mom said...

I say you go.. to any parents/community members who think that a design team is gonna be any different than when they gather info from advisory committees, hiring commitees, forum/steering commitees/councils/BLTs/groups/boards/surveys... and then pretty much do what they were gonna do in the first place.
( of course they never go back to see if it was actually worth the time and money spent- did they make a difference or were they spitting into the wind?)
I've been there- & done that for 20 plus years.
This district is classist if not racist- much more classist than the private schools I have been a part of ironically.

Jet City mom said...

Im really sorry to be so negative I think I have food poisoning.
But I am concerned about those students who will be attending schools without a cohort.
For example it was mentioned at the board meeting- students will be dispersed to nine different schools from Cooper.
If you are one of three students from Cooper attending a new school, is any attention going to be given to you? Any consideration that many of your friends/teachers/staff, will be someplace else?
How is that going to affect the learning?

I know from my own childs experience, that having a crappy year- like when she had rotating subs for virtually the whole year during 5th grade, had repercussions for years.

I would like to see a transparent and accountable process for all the students who are being moved, even if it is just a few.

Charlie Mas said...

emeraldkity will be pleased to learn that the plan was amended so the Cooper students only go to three schools and they are going in large groups, as a cohort with a lot of consideration.

How will a principal new to a school select people for the design team from an unfamiliar community?

Melissa Westbrook said...

It seems like the K-8 school should have at least 1 public meeting so that parents in that region can weigh in on what matters to them. Or not if the district has its own ideas. It just seems that if the district wants it to succeed, it might be good to listen to parents.

Ha, ha, ha!!!

Listen to parents? That's a new one. What was I thinking?